"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sarah Connor Chronicles: Alpine Fields

Alpine Fields is the kind of episode Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles can do, and do well. They've pulled off some interested structural flourishes in the past, handles multiple characters in a tight timeframe, and moved from the past to the future and back again with ease. Unfortunately, that's not what occurs in this episode – as it's a mess in just about every way. It's clunky and awkward, slow and mostly boring, with revelations that left me wondering why they matter.

While it's always nice to see more Derek, he's mostly not working this season. Brian Austin Green is still quite good in the role, but the character has had precious little to do this season. His stuff with Jesse is lackluster, partly due to the fact that she doesn't seem right for the role. If it's not miscasting, it's that the writers themselves haven't quite figured out the character. At this point, it's a bit too late and it'd probably just be best to cut some losses.

First off, there's the confusing structure of the episode. It flashes back to "six months ago," in the series, presumably to a time that was fairly inconsequential to the story. It's unclear exactly how this works, but that's the starting point. Sarah and Cameron are working to protect a family that is targeted by a T888. Six months later, Derek is on the case and the father has been killed, and its just Lauren and her pregnant mother. Now I know that Derek meets the baby in the future, because she has immunity to a disease created by Skynet.

All of this works, on paper – but it's delivered in a meandering and pedantic way. There's some cringe-worthy dialogue about birdhouses and a sub-plot about the mother having an affair. Oh, and there's the red herring about the father doing some illegal work for a cybernetics company. Instead of any action sequences, the episode dwells on this family's internal conflicts – which are mostly annoying and trivial.

The plot dealing with Derek in the present is slow and plodding as I trudge towards the reveal in the future. It's always cool to see the future, and to get more details of what that's like. And here I get to see how Derek meets Jesse. If I cared more about her character or their relationship, this would prove somewhat meaningful – but neither of those are true, and this aspect of the episode is mostly useless.

As an episode, "Alpine Fields" seems to affect the series very little. It's mostly a stand alone episode, unless the introduction of Lauren and Sydney carries over into later parts of the series. It's an episode from which I gained almost nothing, but – thankfully – the series doesn't lose much either.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chuck - Chuck Versus the De Lorean

Where are the Jim Andersons and Steve Douglases of the world? In TV's yesteryear, you could count on the Father Knows Best and My Three Sons patriarchs to be there as positive role models and responsible parents. You can't say that about either Sarah's dad or Chuck's father, although at least in this the former showed up to visit his daughter.

Jack Burton would never win a father of the year award, but he might qualify as a fun dad. Starting with a flashback, I quickly learned that Sarah was a grifter-child, lead astray by her charming, conman rogue of a dad, Gary Cole. Well, better a rogue con artist than another rogue spy.

The casting of Gary Cole as Jack helped make the character so winning. Cole must have the best agent in Hollywood. This guy has been on everything lately, Entourage, Desperate Housewives, Psych, and he brings instant interest to whomever he's playing. Jack has just wrapped a successful sting, selling an Arab sheik Nagamichi Plaza in L.A. Of course he doesn't own the building, but that's just a technicality. After all, this is a shell game to Jack, and as says -- and Chuck understands -- "The bigger the lie, the easier it is to believe."

Not surprisingly, when the deal hits a speed bump, it's Chuck that steps up to save the scam. Dubbed the "schnook" by Jack, he impresses by not only being quick and clever -- all that CIA experience paying off -- but he also shows that his feelings for Sarah are sincere. Jack isn't a good father, but he does love his daughter and wants her to find the right man to love.

While Chuck was the "schnook," Jack sticks Casey with "cop face." The scam to convince the Arabs that the building is really for sale reminded me of Burn Notice, especially the way Jack, Sarah, Casey and Chuck infiltrated the building and redressed it for the con. Even the voice over by Jack was Weston-esque, explaining the details.

Not surprisingly, Jack double-crossed the others and took the $10 million. You could see that one coming, couldn't you? However, I did not see that Jack would stash the $10 million in Chuck's bank account. Nice twist.

But even better was the twist on the twist, with Chuck and Casey tricking the mark into giving over his account number to the CIA. Again, it was a stunning surprise, but I liked it. And when the bad guy tries to escape in Morgan's "Demorgan," the stolen DeLorean becomes more valuable than before. Morgan can get blue book value for the car, pay back Awesome and make enough to move in with Anna. Except for the fact that the Dukes of Hazzard car turned up in the auto bay.

Anna is not going to domesticate Morgan, let alone get him to grow up. Awesome's faith in Captain Morgan (great line!) was misplaced, but really sweet.

The moment I heard the Ferris Bueller music and saw the Back to the Future DeLorean you knew Awesome's $2500 loan was going to be spent fulfilling Morgan's dream to own a piece of Marty McFly's time machine, even though this had no flux capacitor, stalls out over 22 MPH and is a gas guzzler. With images of Michael J. Fox dancing in his eyes, and a reason not to commit to Anna, Morgan cannot resist the buy. His vanity plate for the new ride, "Demorgan."

Chuck and Sarah bonded over their daddy troubles. I learned a little more back story about Chuck's father walking out on him and Ellie. Rather than let Jack get arrested, Sarah opened the door for him to leave her again. The rocky road ice cream run was code for Jack hitting the road. As Jack realized that Sarah was some kind of cop, he gave the shnook his seal of approval, whatever that's worth. Then he was gone again. Sarah couldn't see him coming back, but I do. Gary Cole has a great agent and is probably booking it right now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Leverage: The Nigerian Job

All I want to say is wow. But since this is a review and all, I suppose I should be slightly more specific than that. It’s not often a pilot captures me like Leverage’s did. This show has everything I value in good television: heists / missions, clever writing and plot twists, humor, conspiracy, unique characters, actors with chemistry and a fast pace with unexpected moments. In a word … fun.

Seeing Angel’s Christian Kane again in a quality, role gives me a reason to smile. I am intrigued by Eliot Spencer and can’t wait for more reveals about his unique and amusing character.

It excites me that the actors seemed to fall into a natural groove with each other; there’s nothing worse than watching a frightening re-do of Seinfeld’s first season’s interactions: lack of chemistry, complete with a side of awkwardness.

The main break-in mission was beyond clever. From the ’80s pop culture reference (8675309) to the down-to-the-minute organization of the team — complete with disguises, gadgets, computer prowess and suspense.

It just made sense that this team of heist junkies had so much fun doing the job together that they just couldn’t part ways. The thrill of the job was magnified for all of them as they worked as a team, and they way they came together again at the end was the perfect set-up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Simpsons: The Burns and the Bees

I haven't been laughing out loud much lately while watching The Simpsons. I still think I enjoy more episodes than I don't enjoy, but it's more of a pleasant enjoyment, not a side-splitting, pause-the-TiVo-because-I-can't-stop-laughing enjoyment. "The Burns and the Bees" was entertaining and pleasant enough, and there were some genuinely funny moments, but overall there wasn't much that stood out.

The episode opened with Mr. Burns flying to Billionaires Camp, where he sported a "Billionaires Rule" T-shirt. I'm a sucker for some Burns tomfoolery, so I was a fan of these portions of the episode. The "campers" were roasting jewels over an open fire and telling ghost stories about the Securities and Exchange Commission. There was also a classic Simpsons biting the hand that feeds them moment when Rupert Murdoch came cackling out of his cabin to change his net worth from $6 billion to $7 billion.

At the camp, Burns played The Rich Texan in a game of poker and they both ended up betting people. Burns, of course, put Smithers on the line (and Smithers did his part by placing himself on the table), and The Rich Texan bet his basketball team, the Austin Celtics. Burns won, and now he owned a basketball team.

There was a lot of potential in this, but it didn't go too far. Instead of a story about Burns running a basketball team (which could have been similarly brilliant to Burns running the company baseball team in the classic "Homer at the Bat"), the situation introduced Mark Cuban to the mix. Cuban, the wild and crazy owner of the Dallas Mavericks, did a great job making fun of the way people see him. His best and most telling line was "Hold that thought. No one's paid attention to me for ten whole seconds." But Burns' actions to become more like Cuban were weak and didn't elicit as many laughs as they idea could have turned out.

Meanwhile, Lisa became the champion of the dying bees. She learned from Groundskeeper Willie the plight of the bees when she witnessed his dead colony. Willie's bee tombstones were a great example of how recent episodes of The Simpsons can be fun to watch, while not offering up as many big laughs as they used to. "Buzz Aldrin," "Bee Arthur" and "Bee Bee King" were cute but obvious jokes. And the "Jerry Seinfeld" wasn't a very strong choice, either.

The two storylines met when Mr. Burns set out to destroy the home of Lisa's new bee colony to build a sports arena for his new team. This led to a town hall meeting which gave me my favorite throwaway line of the night: Mayor Quimby: "I regret to inform you we are not offering child care tonight. I don't know who that guy was you were leaving your kids with."

The citizens voted for Burns, and Lisa thought all was lost. But Homer, with the help of Moe, took Lisa's bees, crossed them with Africanized bees and created mutant super bees, or something. It all ended with the mutant bees, not surprisingly, taking over the new arena.

Again, with an episode like this, I'm never really annoyed by anything or find myself frustrated with plot. I just don't laugh as much as I would have liked. There were a number of funny lines and moments, but nothing built up to anything phenomenally funny. Is this due to familiarity? Have I seen it all before from The Simpsons? Or is it just lazy writing? I'm going to chalk "The Burns and the Bees" up to lazy writing, because I think the series can still do better than this.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy-Go-Lucky: A Sweet Stirring Slice of Life

When Happy-Go-Lucky begins I meet Poppy, a single woman in her 30s, who has just discovered a new bookstore and does her darnedest to charm the store clerk with her goofy persona — despite the fact he's completely annoyed and hardly acknowledges her. This opening struck me as awfully precarious and could have easily bombed due to Poppy's perkiness, but it doesn't.

And that's because the star of the movie, Sally Hawkins, who plays the optimistic Poppy, is so brilliant in this role, and this would-be cringe-worthy moment successfully launches one of the sweetest movies I've seen in a long time.

The movie is essentially plotless and is more of a character study, focusing on a woman whose outlook on life remains defiantly sunny despite the world's inevitable darkness and sorrow. Poppy has a great life: a wonderful roommate Zoe, a great job teaching kids, and eventually a sweet guy. She's so dang upbeat I almost felt resentful of her and I thought I'd be in for one long, perky, brightly-colored slog. But the effect is just the opposite because beneath the froth and the lightheartedness something much more substantive lies at the heart of this movie. Something that addresses much of the human experience at once: sadness, longing, confusion, and hopefulness.

As I watch Poppy go about her life as a single gal in the city, I see her interact with various people that make up her world including a high-strung driving instructor named Scott whom she's hired to give her lessons. Scott is played by Eddie Marsan, another actor in this film who gives an amazing performance. At first I wanted to write Scott off as a grumpy guy who Poppy rubs the wrong way, but each new scene in the cramped little car gradually reveals that he is a complicated and disturbed paranoid. There are many things he says and does to Poppy along the way that would make any other person request a new teacher, but instead of feeling frightened or irritated by him, she gives him the benefit of the doubt and often challenges his views.

It's in these scenes that I see Poppy as more than just a regular happy woman and as someone who, even in the face of bizarre and awful situations, can't help but understand that all that awfulness comes from a place she can probably understand. In her eyes Scott isn't someone to toss away as a racist nut-job, but a person who is so clearly in pain.

The movie drives at this empathy, which extends to everyone from discontented married couples in the burbs to a mentally ill homeless man in the city. Rather than express disdain for the choices people make, Happy-Go-Lucky seeks to examine the things all of us have in common in a way that rings true. I couldn't help but see my own life reflected back at me as I watched Poppy with her friends and family and colleagues. To me that was so refreshing — a movie that depicted life as it is, instead of as a fantasy and that still gave me warm fuzzies. What an accomplishment!

Director Mike Leigh has created something magical and irresistible in this little movie that is nothing short of brilliant. I recommend you rush to see it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eleventh Hour: Titans

I don’t think this show is one of the best thing on TV right now, but it is good and, more importantly, it keeps getting better.

With this episode, I’m not exactly sure how I feel. Here’s the thing : at first I thought it looked really good. In fact, I was impressed because it felt like the show had become much stronger than it used to be at first, and I was under the impression I might be watching nothing less than the best episode of the series so far. Unfortunately, along the way came a few things that I didn’t really liked.

Now, does that mean I didn’t enjoy the episode ? Of course not. Does that mean this wasn’t the best episode of the series yet? I honestly couldn’t say. I’m not exactly sure, but I think I want to say it still was.

I liked the little insight on Hood’s personal life we got, when he attended his nephew’s birthday - or about his sex life up in the air, also a sign he’s getting a lot more at ease with Rachel. Because Rachel and him never really talk about anything but the case, and since they’re always traveling everywhere I don’t get to see them “home” much, or at all (do they even have a home?), it was fun to see them in such a different environment.

Now I’m sure it’s no coincidence that his sister make a comment about Rachel, to which Hood immediately responded with a “strictly professional”, in the same episode where I see Rachel being all lonely and flirting with an ex FBI agent, but I for one don’t want those two (Hood and Young that is) to get together. At least for now, it would feel just wrong, they’re only starting to open up to each other and having casual chit-chat here and there, talking about their fathers, I'm so not ready to get them any closer than that.

But, it sure was fun to see Rachel very much into the ex-FBI agent and flirting with him, especially since it gave her more to do than just standing around Hood while he does scientific stuff and then chasing the bad guys and shooting them, which was welcomed. There were definitely some good stuff in this episode, and I liked the way their investigation progressed, with some pretty cool misdirection like the drugs.

Yet, as I said in introduction, a few things bugged me. First of all was that sometimes things actually felt slow, like their investigation should have gone faster, that they were taking an awfully long time to get to places they should have gone to in no time. What made things worse, was when it also had me feel like I was being treated like idiot.

Because as soon as the brother collapsed while running, one thing became pretty obvious : physical activities was (very likely to be) the trigger. At that time I was still thinking drugs were the reason behind it, turns out I was wrong on that one, but it looked pretty obvious that each time it’s during physical activities that each of them started to have “bubbles” and that probably wasn’t a coincidence.

Why did it take them so long to get there ?? Why did genius Hood have to think about it so much to realize this very obvious fact ?? It’s like when they’re wondering why those people are being injected, since they’re not athletes. Well, maybe since he left the FBI his brain got slow or something, but here’s a reason for you : it’s because they’re not athletes !

Seemed rather obvious to me that they were guinea pigs, a good way to test the drug before actually using it on the athletes without raising suspicions of steroid-like motives. That they were all siblings I didn’t guess, but that they were used as guinea pigs seemed something even an FBI agent could have thought of, no?

Something that also felt pretty odd to me, was how I saw the sister first not aware of what actually happened, that her sister had been chosen because they were sisterd and were genetically close, from being into an argument about it the minute after Hood figured it out. Almost doesn’t seem like a natural progression to me, unless he was planning all along on pushing her to commit suicide, because he really didn’t need to tell her otherwise.

Since I'm talking about that night, what the heck was that?? “Unsend mail” ? Really!?? Maybe 10 years ago it could have been fine because Internet wasn’t as popular as it is nowadays, but now it really looked stupid. There’s no “unsend” button, and I’m guessing a lot of people know that. They really should have come up with a way to have him to the same thing, hacking into her computer and making sure the mail was never sent but destroyed instead, without resorting to such a cheap thing.

Also, things didn’t even make any sense in that scene : the guy is connecting to her computer, so that he can see what she does, and control her computer if he wants to. So that means whatever he did, she could see as well. Therefore she should have seen the “unsend mail” button being clicked, and the deletion occur. And she was still looking at the screen, she was looking when it said “message deleted” and yet she didn’t care. Man was that entire scene complete screwed up!

But despite it all, and even if I felt the little “demonstration” when Hood opened the can of soda was a but unnecessary, this was a pretty good episode overall. A strong case, some interesting misdirection, no lecture about good vs bad science like they often like to do, there was definitely plenty to like.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CSI: Young Man With A Horn

It's a sad CSI as I learned about two sets of lovers who are separated by years, but united by tragedy. The death of a young singer leads the CSI team to an abandoned casino and an old murder. Along the way I learn that Greg has a sequin fetish and Grissom originally came to Vegas to play cards. The last one was a surprise. The sequins? Not so much.

The show opens on an American Idol...oops I mean Overnight Sensation...rehearsal. Two young singers are trying to sing a duet, but an obnoxious producer, named Drew, keeps yelling at them and insulting them. The young girl, Layla, yells back at him and then runs off the stage. The young boy, Kip, after being told that rehearsals are still going on continues singing. Naturally, our next glimpse of Layla is her dead, tied in a tablecloth, and left under an overpass. And here I was hoping the dead body was the producer.

Layla's autopsy reveals that she was killed by blunt force trauma to the stomach. She was also 8 weeks pregnant. DNA analysis of the fetus leads the team to Drew who has a history of sleeping with underage girls. Sadly, he has an airtight, prostitute alibi for the murder, but Brass is able to derive some satisfaction by arresting him for statutory rape.

That leaves Layla's murder unsolved until the team realizes that the lipstick Layla was wearing was very old: like 20-30 years old. They look at the tablecloth that was used to wrap her up and determine that it is equally old.

Using the tablecloth supplier as a guide, they find the only casino that is still standing from that time. A quick visit to Chateau Rouge and they've found their crime scene, and conveniently, a cellphone video of Layla dressed up as one of the dancers from the club singing to Kip. The films shows her being surprised by a man on stage playing a sax.

As the team contemplates that turn of events, Grissom realizes that they're being watched. He's right. It's the guy with the sax, only this time he has a gun too. He takes one look at Grissom and faints. In the hospital, the man refuses to give his name and claims that he did kill Layla. It looks like that's it for him, but Catherine goes back to the scene and realizes that Layla died because she fell on a chair after being scared by the sax man. It's ruled an accident.

In the course of the investigation, the team finds another murder. Years ago, the owner of Chateau Rouge, Rosenthal, was shot to death in his office. The casino was then closed and boarded up because his wife refused to sell it. While trying to discover the sax man's history, Grissom realizes that the man put in jail for the casino owner's murder was actually framed. A little investigation and face recognition software later and they've identified the sax man. He was a performer at the club named Harry.

Grissom brings Mrs. Rosenthal to identify Harry and when she doesn't do it, Grissom realizes what happened to the casino owner. Harry and Mrs. Rosenthal were having an affair and were caught by her husband. There was a fight and she shot her husband. The town's big bosses decided to cover up the shooting, because she was white and Harry was black. She never went back in the casino and Harry never really left.

This CSI was a bit different as the team delved into a case from the past. I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Name Is Earl: Reading is a Fundamental Case

So goes another unremarkable episode of My Name is Earl. When the season began, I had high hopes because they were going back to basics. Instead of throwing Earl in front of a lot of obstacles, (jail, coma, crazy girlfriend, etc.) they were just going to have him help the people on his list. And on the surface, that's a great plan. But the problem that's plagued the last half dozen episodes or so, aside from the lack of jokes, is that I haven't had much of an emotional connection to the folks Earl has helped. I'm not saying it's easy, but Earl used to nail these kinds of stories all the time. Hell, the reason why Camden is filled with so many unique and memorable auxiliary characters is because Earl helped them in past episodes and I enjoy seeing them again and again. This season, the characters have been oddballs and nutjobs, but that doesn't make them memorable or interesting.

The show's funniest joke came at the beginning when Earl and Randy first met Raynard, the focus of Earl's help in this episode. Along with Randy and Earl, Raynard was sentenced to Camden County's "Humiliate to Rehabilitate" community service program. The workers were forced to wear pink t-shirts with the name of their crime boldly printed on the front. Randy's read, "Flasher," Earl's read, "Pulled Brother's Pants Down," and Raynard's read, "Set Police Horse Free." The punchline came when a meek little Indian man was falsely labeled "Terrorist." Unfortunately, after those funny sight gags, it was all downhill from there.

The plot involved the Hickey brothers and Raynard tricking local women into believing they were part of a rock band. The guys stole the "Bookmobile," a big purple bus that served as the Camden library, and said it was their tourbus. After partying, they abandoned the bus in the woods, only to retrieve it years later when it needed to be crossed off Earl's list. When Earl and Randy returned, they discovered Raynard had been living inside it, and had turned into a crazy feral natureman, like Tarzan, (or "Trazan", as the cheap knock-off version was called in the Bookmobile.) Years earlier, Earl had refused to let Raynard crash in his trailer when he was homeless, so Earl felt responsible for Raynard's current state. Thus, Earl's karmic duties in this episode were two-fold: return the Bookmobile and rehabilitate Raynard so he could become accustomed to living in the real world. But as it turns out, Raynard wasn't meant to live a 9 to 5 lifestyle, so after trying to capture a wild animal, Earl learned to set him free once again.

The old adage says, "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it." Judging from the show's return to the basic formula this season, it seems like that's what the fans (including myself) wanted after last season's break from tradition. Well, I got what I wanted, and it isn't good. The characters are stagnant and the show has lost the magic it once had. The stories aren't emotionally compelling, nor are they entertaining from a comedy standpoint. Maybe they'll introduce a multi-episode story arc soon, just so these characters can have a purpose once again. And maybe I should stop wishing for things.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dirty Sexy Money: The Summer House

I have the sneaking feeling that if Dirty Sexy Money were fated to carry on into many more seasons, I would be subjected to one failed Karen wedding per season. Fortunately or unfortunately, that won't be happen, but the show is certainly going for going out with a bang and one last hurrah. Or maybe that's one last "Holy crap." In the words of Mel Brooks, either way I'm going to have a lot of fun!

The episode's madness revolves around Karen's impending wedding to Simon Elder -- the wedding that Karen is the only person who actually wants it to go on. Around this hub circles the Lisa, Nick, Jeremy, Wrenn, Tripp, and Letitia love hexagon (well, really it's more like two triangles that are connected), Brian and Andrea and the cancer storyline, and Jeremy also pops out of the playboy mold to help his brother Patrick, much to Nola's chagrin.

First things first, let's talk wedding. Tripp and Nick meet with Simon Elder. At first they hand him a blank check to call off the wedding, but that is not what he wants. He wants all of Tripp's shares of Darling Enterprises to call off the wedding. To be delicate about it, he tells him no, and they leave -- it looks like the wedding will occur after all. Karen goes all principessa on her daddy and Tripp turns to mush. So he tells Nick to tell Simon that he has a deal. As expected, Simon goes rat bastard on them (even more so than usual) says the wedding will be called off when the shares are transferred, so Nick better work fast.

Nick, nothing short of a miracle worker, gets the shares transferred in less than four hours, just as Simon is getting all dandied up. Except once again, the job of being the bearer of bad news also falls to Nick. He's the one who tells Karen she isn't getting married, and then tells all the guests.
But fear not dear viewers, there is a wedding anyway! Brian Darling married Andrea, possibly spurred on by her illness and impending death from cancer. Like I said, they are really going all out.

Back to the Simon Elder saga, in what can only be defined as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the show, Darling Enterprises stock plummets when news of the takeover breaks, because people who work with Tripp do not want to work with Simon Elder. Simon is understandably annoyed, and Tripp is very smug when he offers to buy back his stock. They compromise on Tripp buying back half of his stock, and they will be business partners. Nick looks very perturbed, understandably so.

In addition to now being at Simon Elder's beck and call as well as the Darlings', Nick is just not having very good luck in life. When he meets Wrenn for coffee in the morning, they run into Lisa who goes Grade A Bitch because she's jealous. In what could be considered a mature reaction in some alternate universe, she calls on Jeremy to take her to Karen's wedding. Later, Nick tells Wrenn about Tripp's request for him to arrange a luncheon between the two of them for less than scrupulous reasons. She goes to the wedding as Nick's guest, and says she will speak with Tripp. Letitia is still convinced that Wrenn arranged all of this to perform a Husband Steal, and to be honest, none of this is helped by the fact that Tripp is trying to do the stealing. Things get momentarily awkward when Nick tells Tripp he's bringing Wrenn as a date, and he apparently has some sort of epiphany, because after the wedding he tells Letitia basically that even though his eye wandered, she will always be the love of his life. I would be more endeared if Letitia did not just turn around and go Heinous Bitch on Wrenn, throwing her out of the house immediately. Nick tells her to go and not look back -- good advice, if I may say so.

At the wedding, Lisa and Nick have a calm, but heartbreaking talk. (At least for me, who will be Team Lisa today, tomorrow, and beyond.) Lisa compares their marriage to the summer house that her family once had. One time in college she drove all night to get there, only to find it was gone. What they had it gone -- just like the summer house.

On the Patrick front, he hires Jeremy when he comes to him "craving" employment. Nola is annoyed at having to work with Jeremy, but things turn out for the best. Jeremy is able to get a business partner who previously turned down Patrick, Mr. O'Connell, to say yes by reuniting him with his son, the so-called DJ Pillowhead. This Hail Mary pass lets Jeremy keep his job and annoys Nola grandly. Personally, I think that is way more awesome than any stupid Weepies concert.

My Reality Check this week goes to Simon Elder. Did I really think that he was going to successfully screw Tripp Darling and get away with it? Really? He should have known better, man. There are not that many episodes left, but I think it'll be interesting to see how they wrap things up. I'm hoping we'll see a return of Juliette -- I remember something before the season started saying that she would return -- and I am still clinging to hope that the summer house isn't gone, merely temporarily misplaced. (And when I say summer house, I mean Nick and Lisa's marriage, of course.) Maybe Karen will grow up and get a personality that looks good on a person in their late twenties/early thirties instead of one more suited to a spoiled teenager. Whoa, now I'm just going crazy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life: Evil . . . And His Brother Ziggy

Mickey and Charlie: So, the last time I left Detective Crews, he was smack dab in the middle of a kidnapping. For two weeks I wondered what would happen to Charlie as it seemed that Mickey Rayborn had gotten the upper hand. Turns out, not much of anything happened, other than an invitation to Rayborn’s charity shindig a few days later.

That’s when the first “meeting” between the two finally came to fruition. It seems Mickey has a terminal illness that is only giving him about six months to live. So, in order to die with a clear conscience, he is willing to let some secrets be known about his involvement in the Seyboldt case. As the episode ended, I was about to hear what those issues were. Hopefully, I’ll get some sense of what it is next episode.

On the Res: The show moved away from all of that brightness into the barren tribal areas of California. Somewhere, I think there was some symbolism in their location that could be connected to Charlie and Dani. Charlie was easy … he liked the area because it was so open. After living in a tiny cell for 12 years, he wants as much open space as he can get.

The (slightly creepy) world of Dani and Tidwell: Maybe it’s just me, but there is something just a bit unsettling in the “romance” between Dani and Captain Tidwell. Sure, it’s nice to see Dani loosening up a bit (somewhat of an understatement, if you ask me), but this relationship seems, I don’t know, oogy. On the upside, it has been great fodder for some of the lighter moments of the show.

Take in this episode. When Charlie picked up the phone to hear Tidwell talking about Reese’s panties: his reaction was priceless. It was like he touched radioactive material and got severely burned. The reaction to the phone ringing again was even funnier. There was also the incident where the good Captain called Reese “dude.” Who calls a woman like Dani “dude?” The resulting action was both sexy, with Dani being nice and naked, and funny, as Tidwell called her “dude” once again.

Dinner at Charlie’s: This was another light-hearted moment for this episode. All Charlie wanted was to have a nice quiet dinner with his guest, Captain Whitehat. Soon enough, he realizes Ted had Indian food (from India, not Native American) brought in. Then, Rachel plops herself down at the table, angry that Crews wasn’t there when she called the house the night before. Finally, Ted blurts out that he’s in love with Olivia, the woman who will be marrying Charlie’s father. The best line of the night was Charlie’s simple response to Whitehat: “White people.”

A man named Evil: When I saw Evil’s name (really spelled Eval) in the title I thought that he, and his brother Ziggy, would be the main suspects in this episode. In the end, they were only minor supporting characters who appeared towards the end. Though, I’m sure there was some symbolism there with Evil’s red convertible and red shoes. Maybe a representation of the devil who was bringing sin into the Reservation. Who knows.

This week’s case: I had a hard time understanding what the birth certificate was all about and why Anna’s father killed Hawes. I think it had something to do with Anna not being Native American at all, which meant that her father would lose any money that the reservation made from the new casino.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pushing Daisies: Comfort Food

On this episode of Pushing Daisies, Chuck stirs up all kinds of trouble in the graveyard, doing the one thing that Ned probably wishes she wouldn't. But Ned doesn't know about it till the very end, because he spends most of the time baking pies and fighting crime with Olive at the annual comfort food cook-off, complete with silly hats. This episode has intrigue, romance, jealousy, and singing.

So, Charles Charles is alive and well-ish, about as well as you can be if you've been buried underground for 20 years. Chuck had her 30 seconds with her dad all planned out, but when push comes to shove, she can't let him go again and devises a devious plan on the spot: If Charles wears a glove, Ned's touch won't work, and he can just play dead until Chuck comes back to dig him out. Great, except: 1) Now there's a dead man who actually looks dead wandering around because of Ned's powers, 2) Someone else had to die to keep Charles alive, and 3) Ned doesn't know about any of this.

Point No. 2 ends up not being such a big deal, though, because the victim of the "alive-againing" is Dwight Dixon, who was waiting in the graveyard to shoot Chuck. He could have killed the whole gang had his surprise not lasted 61 seconds, so to see him go down isn't exactly a shame — but he does give voice to Chuck's guilty conscience, saying that even if she did the right thing, she should have told Ned by now. Add that to Lily once again turning up dangerously close to Chuck's whereabouts, and that was definitely the plot holding my attention for most of the night.

With all of that going on, it was a bit hard to focus on Ned and Olive's plot at the comfort food cookoff — though it was fun to watch the two of them try to solve a case alone. Ned manages to wake up the victim without Olive finding out about his powers, follows clues to nab the murderer, and even wins a blue ribbon at the end, thanks to Olive's plan B of stashing a pie in the fridge. Through it all, Olive's realizing just what a big crush she still has on Ned, so when he reaches for her hand at the end, it's bittersweet — and it's enough to drive Olive back to the Pie Hole kitchen to sing a little "Eternal Flame" while Ned breaks her heart (again) by leaving her with cleanup duties while he searches for Chuck.

Some other thoughts:

The best part of the comfort food cookoff: the crazy costumes! Ned and Olive's pie hats were great, but my favorite was the ice cream cones. Close second may be the Waffle Nazi: "I do not speak a word of German. I speak English with a German accent. Pageantry!"

The Pie Hole's blue ribbon is nearly Olive-sized.

Did anyone else get confused when Dwight started talking to Chuck? In a show with so many dead people talking, it might be nice if the ones who were staying dead could stay quiet too!

Ha, Emerson: "'Less alive'? Nice euphemism, killer."

So, Ned's discovered the still-living Charles Charles, who's set up in the house across from the aunts. How much longer will Chuck's alive-ness remain a secret? And can we get a love interest for Olive so she pines for Ned less (and maybe sings more)?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fringe: Safe

"Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder..." - Peter to Olivia, on seeing a dead guy embedded in a wall
Wow, a lot of things started to come together in this episode. Let's analyze:

The guy in the wall. So I now know that the experiment I saw in the last episode - where the guy grabs an apple through the wall of a safe - is being used on a larger scale. Specifically, to steal things out of bank vaults. Only, not everyone gets back through the wall.

The safety deposit boxes. I pretty much knew that the contents were mysterious things that would bring ... something ... to light. But what I didn't know is that the contents of those safety deposit boxes were actually put there by Walter years ago. And that the box numbers were the same numbers he chants at night while he's trying to go to sleep -- the Fibonacci Sequence I learned about at the beginning of this season. Way to bring that back around.

Walter's time machine. I learned that Peter nearly died when he was a boy, from a rare type of bird flu. There was a doctor with a cure who had died years earlier. So Walter built a time machine to go back and get the doctor, but he didn't need it because Peter recovered. "In theory," said Walter, "it could retrieve anyone from anywhere."

Mr. Jones in the German prison. He's integral to all the strange things happening on the outside. In fact, he seems to be the Head Bad Guy. And thanks to the time machine, he's now on the outside with a captured Olivia. He also gives new meaning to the term, "Don't kill the messenger."

Olivia. Nina's still got John Scott hooked up in her gleaming-white lab, and she now knows that Olivia is harboring John's memories. I'm not exactly believing her when she tells Agent Broyles she had nothing to do with Olivia's disappearance. And Nina and Broyles seem to get chummier with every episode. She calls him "Philip" like they're old friends ... or maybe something more. And is Olivia the dumbest FBI agent ever? Why on earth would she get out of her car and try to run when the other cars surrounded her? She could have kept driving across the lawn! Not that I was screaming at the TV or anything!!!

Little Hill Field. Don't you think it would have occurred to the FBI agents to at least Google "Little Hill" and see what comes up? The abandoned airstrip was within driving distance, for cripes sake.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eli Stone: Happy Birthday Nate

Nate is back and in a big way. In a sense, this is almost more his episode than it is Eli’s. See, Eli’s next set of visions puts him back in the body of their father during Nate’s twelfth birthday. What does that have to do with anything? Well, the episode is all about parents and their children. Taylor and Jordan are still discussing Taylor’s pregnancy, Patti doesn’t yet know about Angela’s drug test, and Eli is going ahead trying to get J.J. Cooper emancipated from his idiot father. I always hate it when Steven Culp ends up being the bad guy. I like him too much. Actually, there’s not anyone on this show I don’t like, which should say something about the quality of the writing and acting.

The main story, of course, is the emancipation trial, a continuation of the last episode. Jordan initially forbids Eli to take the case, but when Jim Cooper blows into his office and demands that Eli be fired, and basically talks like he owns the place, Jordan has a very quick change of heart. He tells Cooper that they’ll be representing his son and to find the elevator. Did I mention how much I love Jordan? Of course, opposing counsel turns out to be Matt and Maggie, who are now being tested after having found the mole in Wethersby Stone. Matt realizes this off the bat and actually seems upset about it, proving that he’s far from the office Lothario I first met in season one, but more on that later.

Jim Cooper’s money buys a lot, including four medical experts being suspiciously unavailable to help Eli in the trial. This gives him no choice but to turn to Nate, who is resistant to the idea until Eli tells him about his visions and his belief that they mean Nate is meant to help him. Of course, this is asking a lot of big brother, since Nate says “half the buildings” at his hospital are named after Jim Cooper, who’s already threatened to get him fired. Nate makes the leap anyway, and gets himself involved, which ends up changing his life forever. When Eli puts J.J. on the stand, Maggie gets permission to let Jim Cooper cross-examine his own son, and he proceeds to rip the kid to shreds. While the lawyers argue about it behind closed doors, Nate is the only one to realize the tremors J.J. has aren’t from fear of his father, but an MS episode. Confused because the kid’s MRI was clean, he goes back into St. Vincent’s medical files and finds out someone’s been copying clean MRI’s from years ago and reusing them with a new date. J.J. is, in reality, getting sicker, but his father and the hospital administrator have been covering it up so the clinical trial would get approved. Nate calls B.S. in a scene that Matt Letscher completely steals. I mentioned I love Nate, too, right?

Meanwhile the kid doesn’t take all this so well, and even though he wins his emancipation trial, he decides to go set his dad’s offices on fire. That’s when Eli realizes who his vision from last episode was referring to: not Jim Cooper, but his son, J.J. – also known as James, Jr. He goes to the building just in time to rescue J.J. from the fire, and warns him in a very touching scene that while he might not need his dad, he might someday want him, so to try not to totally alienate him.

As for Nate, St. Vincent’s is willing to cut him a huge check if he signs a nondisclosure agreement and leaves the hospital. We never find out if he takes it or not; I’m on the fence about this since it seems like they’re just sweeping it under the rug and then our favorite doctor is out of a job. But I suppose we’ll see. The important thing is that Nate goes to visit Dr. Chen, who confides he made a copy of their dad’s journal after Eli burned it – with a page in it that tells Nate that he does love him, and that Nate is essential to Eli’s greater destiny. I love the relationship between these two brothers and I love that Nate isn’t just the sidekick, but I got to see him develop on his own. Matt Letscher does that so well.

But that’s not all I got. Jordan and Taylor argue over Taylor not disclosing her pregnancy to Matt. When Matt turns up with flowers and a bear trying to make nice for making Taylor angry earlier, Jordan assumes that Matt is there for the baby and lets slip that Taylor is pregnant. Matt is stunned and angry with Taylor for not telling him (as he darn well should be). (The best line of the night, Jordan, after realizing his faux pas, tells Matt he’ll need the number of his florist.) Matt and Taylor finally talk, and she tells him she never saw what they had as anything more than temporary. It’s Matt – the cad, the blowhard, Matt Dowd – who tells her that he never saw it as a fling and wants to seriously be with her. She turns down his marriage proposal, but they reconcile. Matt may be the most changed character over the past two seasons while never losing his quirky charm, and we see in this scene he’s got a real good heart under all that bravado.

Meanwhile, Keith and Angela argue over her drug test. It seems the positive was caused by a medication she’s on that routinely causes positive drug tests. She snaps at Keith for prejudging her, and when he goes to apologize to her he finds out she’s been suspended from work for some time. Everything seems to be falling apart. Patti’s still in the dark, and I can’t help but wonder how she’ll react.

There are only seven more episodes of this show left, and there are plenty of possibilities as to how the series might wrap up. The writers have done a good job this season of further developing the relationships between the characters and in this episode, I get to see them all mature a little bit more while being reminded why I love them so much.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Own Worst Enemy: Down Rio Way

You know what? This was a very nicely done episode of television. I wasn't a huge fan of the last episode "High Crimes and Turducken" due to the fact that my patience with Henry is waning. And to be truthful, it was Henry's reaction to his son's new fix-er-up car during "Down Rio Way" that lost most of the points here. Edward approved of his son buying the busted up Camaro, and at this point, Henry should be used to things happening concerning his family while he's, you know, Edward. There are decisions that need to be made that require Henry, and well, Edward just has to do his best. At this point, in this fantastical story, Henry is over-reacting. And that's something that, considering his circumstances, I didn't think I'd ever be writing.

This episode was strong because, at this point in the now-cancelled series, it steered way clear of the things that have been slightly annoying me. It actually had a great storyline concerning Raymond and Mary. Mavis tells Raymond to go home to Mary, as himself, and deal with an apparent hit-and-run that she might have committed. I think there's just a part of me that still enjoys seeing someone that was meant to look like a shlub "office-drone" character act like a completely badass. When Raymond actually finds out that Mary didn't hit someone, but instead suffered from traumatic stress due to robbery at an intersection, he goes to get her wedding rings back and tries and make things right for Tom. It was definitely the most satisfying thing about this chapter.

The stuff with Tromboll and Edward was nice too. I've been waiting for James Cromwell to have more to do here. And while I'm still not convinced that Edward is as "valuable" as they say he is – seeing Tromboll use Edward's parent's death to get Edward to kill off a "retiring" agent named Firefly was terrific. It reminded me a bit of Memento, where John Pantaliano's cop character kept using Leonard's burning desire to avenge his wife. Edward's been lied to a hell of a lot with regards to his parents death. First by Tromboll, in a flashback, when Edward was young and he was conned into joining Janus. Then he was conned into almost killing a KGB agent who he thought was responsible. Finally when Tromboll told him that the real culprit in the death of the Albrights was down in Rio, I thought to myself "why would he be telling the truth at this point?" And, as it turned out, he wasn't. And then he kills John Heard at the end. Man, I hadn't seen Heard in anything for a while, so I was surprised to see that he was only in two scenes as the mysterious bench-sitting pigeon feeder.

Of course, when it comes down to the actual killing of the man thought to be his parent's murderer, Edward is inconveniently...Henry. And Henry's failure to shoot the man in the hospital, while he looked upon his own newly born grandson, was a great scene. And Henry's shame over not avenging Edward's parents was, finally, a great and real emotion from Henry that I could relate to. At this point, I'm just hoping that the show ends on a somewhat satisfying note. The last episode is next and I don't see Henry or Edward getting "fixed" or any giant mysteries getting solved. Alas, we live in a time when networks do not profit a dime from DVR or Tivo viewings. Watching a show on the internet won't save it. Only live viewings at the scheduled time of broadcast from a TV hooked up to an assigned Nielson Box will make a show live on, and that's not how any of us truly live.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review: All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

The memoirs of famed journalist Rick Bragg are featured in the autobiographical novel All Over but the Shoutin'. Bragg recites his tale of hardship and his family's struggle to survive in rural Alabama and Georgia in the late 1960s and 1970s. He dwells on being abandoned by his father and the effect it had on him and his family. In addition, he celebrates his mother's heroic attempt to carry their family through all of the pain and suffering.

Bragg has a wonderful writing technique that is uniquely his. He uses unrelated images to describe how people spoke in the rural Alabama and Georgia. When Bragg talks about how is mother spoke, he says that she did not have "timing" and when she spoke it sounded "like puppies spilling out of a cardboard box, jumping all over each other". He also writes about how people in the South would leave the "r" out of words. He writes that the word "mother" became "mu-thah" and "never" became "nevah".

All Over but the Shoutin' is a very captivating novel. Each chapter begins with sentences that capture your attention and entices the reader to read further into the chapter to find out what it is about. The beginning of chapter 10 is especially interesting. It begins, "For three good years...I lived in a beautiful oblivion."

This is a wonderfully written autobiography suited for anyone who loves a good book about real life. Rick Bragg expresses the human condition as he experienced it growing up. He recounts the hardship, pain, suffering, and guilt in this novel. These are all events in the lives of people no matter what your economic status is. Anyone who picks up this novel will not be able to put it down until they have finished it. The novel captures the essence of life and will be enjoyed by all readers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The notion of youth being wasted on the young is a compelling one, without a doubt. It inspired a famous Mark Twin quote, which in turn inspired an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, which has now lent its name to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a film starring Brad Pitt as the title character, born old and destined to die young.

It sounds like a fairytale, and at times, the screen version feels like one, with ethereal flashbacks, eerily spot-on visual effects, and a sweet if improbable romance between Benjamin and his normally-aging love, Daisy (Cate Blanchett). But the director and screenwriter almost crowd out the movie's central love story with too much stuff — there's a hurricane plot, a daughter learning the truth about her family, and nearly an hour of Benjamin's wacky adventures. Instead of enveloping the audience in a mystical story, it fights against its narrative, constantly breaking its own spell. Yet there are reasons to watch Benjamin Button even when it feels like work.

Though it doesn't fully kick in till almost halfway through the movie, the relationship between Benjamin and Daisy is worth the price of admission. They're sweet as children (Daisy young, Benjamin physically decrepit) and as 20-somethings (Daisy cool and sophisticated, Benjamin finally starting to look like Brad Pitt), but it's when they meet in the middle, in their 40s, that their love story takes over the film. They don't have much time as equals, and that lends an urgency to their relationship that the rest of the movie lacks. Pitt rightfully gets praised for his work as Benjamin, but Blanchett should get more credit for her performance; unlike Pitt, she doesn't have a voiceover to guide her through the story, but she's a strong enough actress to show Daisy's emotions even without the luxury of explaining them.

It's a shame that the director couldn't trust that story to work on its own, because with that relationship at the center — and maybe with some deeper musings from Benjamin on what it means to be living his life this way — the movie could have been a masterpiece. Instead, it feels emotionally remote and over-cluttered, with a structure reminiscent of both Forrest Gump and Titanic. The early scenes with Benjamin growing up in a New Orleans retirement home are strong — and Taraji P. Henson is outstanding as Queenie, the mother figure who discovers Benjamin abandoned on her stoop and raises him as her own — but once Benjamin leaves home and joins a tugboat crew, the movie drags. It doesn't help that the flashbacks are intercut with scenes of a dying Daisy in the hospital; that plotline never really hits its stride emotionally and mostly just feels detached. And a few references to Hurricane Katrina permanently anchor the movie in a particular era, which feels at odds with its more timeless qualities.

Luckily, just when Benjamin Button starts to feel aimless, the love story takes center stage — and, with that, the movie builds some momentum to reach a satisfying enough end. The special effects are also remarkable (and it's a good thing, because when you're talking about aging Brad Pitt's face and putting it on someone else's body, doing it poorly would be disastrous).

As good as it is in parts, Benjamin Button ends up falling short of what it could have been.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Prison Break: Deal or No Deal

After last episode's blowing betrayal by Don Self, this episode focuses on the characters picking up the pieces and the writers setting up the story arc for the remainder of the season. After much maneuvering and double crossing, it's still not certain where things are going to be headed. There's the inevitable confrontation between Scofield and Self that's surely coming, but the rest of what's to come remains fairly uncertain. With so many characters and so many conflicting agendas, it's hard to tell where Scylla will end up and who will come out on top.

While all this uncertainty is certainly entertaining, it does lead to a lot of sitting around in various locations waiting for phone calls. Much of the plot development in this episode unfolded over telephone conversations and discussions on what to do next. There's a lot of threads to transition, and it seems like this episode was just a matter of setting up for what's to come. There was the matter of convincing Self's superiors about Scofield and team's innocence, which seemed a bit awkward, drawn out, and had a few too many double crosses to make sense of it all. First there wasn't a deal, then there was a deal, then people got shot, and then the senator talked about the covert operation never happening and apologizes. Does this mean that the team is free and can go about living their normal lives? Where's the binding motivation in that case? Do the remaining team members want to bring down the Company as badly and Scofield and Lincoln do?

Meanwhile, I'm now reintroduced to the villainous version of Don Self. While the last episode's betrayal was very unexpected, this time it was a bit hard accepting him as the main antagonist. The problem with Self is Michael Rapaport, whose goofy charm worked well as a dedicated government agent, but not carry over so well as a freelance killer. He seems uncomfortable cast in this new light, but it was fun to see him get outsmarted by Scofield with the missing piece of Scylla. With T-Bag as his new lackey though, there could be some potential for comedy here.

Gretchen's motivations are once again unclear - she seems to be working with everyone in this episode, but after her sister's held hostage by Self, it looks like she's working with him.

The real pointless filler bits in this episode involved the scenes with the General, who seems to be getting less and less interesting the more he talks. Somebody should give him a pen and a pad already and have him go back to writing things out on paper when he wants to say something- that might make us care about him again. Other than having him shoot a Scylla cardholder and make noise about getting Scylla back, I didn't get much out of the scenes with the General and his daughter.

While a lot of the scrambling conversation scenes were necessary to move the storyline forward, it doesn't quite translate to exciting or compelling television. Very much a filler episode that is meant to reshuffle the storyline, this was clearly not amongst the better installments of the season. It's a bit disappointing after the last episode's carefully crafted masterpiece that the follow-up would fall a little short.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sarah Connor Chronicles: Self Made Man

The network description, which featured the phrase "Cameron's secret is exposed," led me to believe that the Connors were finally going to find out about Allison Palmdale and Cameron's recent breakdown. Wrong. Instead, I got a rare glimpse into Cameron's world while the Connors are asleep. Sure, I would've love to have seen the Connors discover Cameron's dual identity, but this episode turned out to be a great and engaging character study disguised as a mystery.

I loved meeting the character Eric. I hope we see him again. Chandler was great in the role. Very sincere. I liked seeing Cameron interact with him, especially since she seemed to care about his condition. I'll see how far Cameron can really grow.

The action scene took me by surprise. After Cameron Cold Cases her way to the truth, she deduced that the T-888 would be hiding inside the wall, waiting for 2010 to assassinate the mayor. Still, why was the mayor marked for death? Will he aid the Connors down the line?

After searching for more clues about the three dots, John snuck out -- again -- to hag with Riley, the master manipulator. Watching John interact with "normal" kids was a lot of fun. The fight was telegraphed, but it had to happen. Poor John, he's learning more about himself, but he's falling right into Riley's trap. Maybe Cameron should spend more time hanging out at home with John instead of researching Native American weapons at the library.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Simpsons: Mypods & Broomsticks

My initial reaction to the Apple Computers and the might-be-terrorists plotlines in The Simpsons was that this was old news. Apple has been skewered before, and the "not actually a terrorist" storyline has turned up in loads of comedies in the past few years. But then it hit me that both Apple and, unfortunately, terrorism are still a big part of our culture. So, really, The Simpsons aren't behind the times due to their drawn out animation schedule, they've simply reached their time to put in their two comedic cents. And for the most part, it was a funny episode.

The first act primarily focused on the Simpson clan's experience at the mall's new Mapple store. Not hard to figure out the target here. The store was stark and the equipment very familiar looking. There was even a "Brainiac Bar" where Comic Book Guy could spout off his complaints. The scene had some great moments. One of my favorites was when Lisa admitted she couldn't afford a myPod and asked to purchase some ear buds just so she could look the part. The "myPhonies," of course, cost forty dollars. There was also a great parody of Apple's famous "Big Brother" commercial from the '80s, which had Comic Book Guy angrily throwing a sledgehammer into a giant screen showing Mapple president Steve Mobs.

The remainder of the episode, for the most part, focused on Bart's new friendship with Bashir and his family, who had recently moved to Springfield from Jordan. When it came out that Bashir is Muslim, certain townsfolk became suspicious. Homer, at first, was not, but he was easily swayed by Moe, Lenny and Carl… and scenes from the Simpsons version of 24. After inviting Bashir and his family to dinner, Homer tried to uncover their secret terrorist plots. I especially enjoyed Homer's vision of Lenny giving him advice on how to handle the situations that arose: "The doorbell will tell you when they're here."

The family left the dinner offended, and Homer begrudgingly went to their house to apologize. Upon arriving, he noticed lights inside the garage and peeked in to see Bashir's father handling boxes of dynamite. Homer thought this proved him right: "Everybody is whatever I think they are." From there, it was typical Homer. One highlight included a Three's Company-type moment where Homer would only hear a portion of what Bashir's father was saying. He'd catch the "I love blowing up buildings," but miss the "safely and legally to make room for new buildings." Homer thought the Springfield Mall was in danger, but in fact, it was the old, abandoned Springfield Mall that was set to be demolished. Bashir's father explained to Bart how carefully he planned the implosion so no other buildings would be affected, and Bart wisely asked, "Did you factor in one bald idiot?"

The story ended with all being forgiven at a "Pardon My Intolerance" meal. As a whole, this part of the episode was funny and strong and gave the now familiar "suspected terrorist" plot a Simpsons twist. Unfortunately, the remainder of the Mapple storyline was less impressive. It's always fun to see an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon, but elaborate doesn't always equal funny. The rest of the bits -- the pricey download bill, the visit to Mapple headquarters -- weren't as effective. And Lisa's final scene as a costumed myPod handing out flyers was a very anticlimactic punch line. But factor out Lisa's involvement after act one and I had myself a decently funny episode of The Simpsons.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Monk: Mr. Monk and the Miracle

Sadly, "Mr. Monk and the Miracle" was a sub-standard episode and hardly worth the moniker of "special." The mystery was rather simple -- about the most complicated piece of evidence was the hand print in the refrigerator -- and when Michael Badalucco appeared as Leland's pharmacist, you kind of knew he was involved in some way. Yet while the show wasn't up to the best of Monk standards, it did have a moment or two to redeem it.

The annoying Monk was on display the moment he scowled at Natalie with the ladle. This seemed extreme even for Monk; was he going to throw out every utensil and appliance she used in the kitchen? Hasn't he already accepted at least her "cooties" when it comes to his stuff?

But annoying Monk -- germophobe to the nth degree -- was in full force, freaking out when his clients, homeless bums Ike, Reggie and the Professor, hired him to find out who killed their buddy, Willie. I know Monk's discomfort over their filth and lack of social graces is meant to be laugh-inducing, but it's a fine line between him being annoyed and him being rude. Natalie is the counterbalance, so you could count on her for the true Christmas spirit (and Julie, too). Although they didn't show how it got that way, the best gag was the way Monk wrapped his furniture wrapped in plastic and cordoned-off parts of the apartment.

The better half of the episode dealing with Leland's bad back and overwhelming sadness. Has it really been two years since his relationship with Linda ended? My heart was aching for him, which made his conversion at the monastery all the better. When Monk tried to talk to the monk who had taken a vow of silence, the "shush" bit was very funny -- reminiscent of Seth Green and Mike Meyers in Austin Powers -- even though I was waiting for a topper, a way for Monk to communicate without speaking. The charades when he finally found Leland was predictable.

Ultimately, of course, the truth about the fake waters of the fountain was revealed and Badalucco apprehended after his girlfriend confessed. Natalie and Monk sneaking in as monks and chanting the information to him was very funny, "Here's what happened." I liked the idea that Leland's faith was restored by the "miracle" recovery, but his cop instincts should have told him something was off about the fountain. As a character, he's not that naive, even with a bad back. Monk was suspicious from the start.

Other points of interest:

The chalk/herbal concoction that Stottlemeyer drank and Monk connected back to Willie's murder was a reach. He should have confirmed the connection by testing the bottle to see if the bottles were Leland's because of DNA. Otherwise, why couldn't the bottle have come from anywhere in San Francisco?

When talking to the pharmacist, Leland referred to Randy as his partner. Hmm.

Without the moustache, Leland looked younger. With the moustache, Randy looked funny.

In the final scene, did Monk drink from the fountain? I think not. He just cannot believe.

What was the joke about the bum's gravy? I still don't get it.

Leland's gift to Randy was a razor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bones: The Bone That Blew

The theme was family on Bones. First, Temperance dealing with the fact her father, Max Keenan, now works for the Jeffersonian. Meanwhile, Seeley battled with feelings that he was an inadequate father when it came to his son’s education. Further, both Bones and Booth investigated a family with a few skeletons in the closet. Finally, on the extended family side of things, Cam tried to tempt Hodgins back into doing something he hadn’t done since Zack left the Jeffersonian.

Max Keenan’s Science Squad: Temperance’s Dad was back — the first time this season — and she was not happy about it one darn bit. Sweets hit it right on the button, diagnosing the reason why she disliked having her father be a science teacher at the Jeffersonian: she was afraid he’d get up and abandon her again. With his past enemies dead I don’t see any reason why he would leave her side. If anything, Max is making a concerted effort to stay as close to Tempe as possible.

Max is a good balance for his daughter. Where Bones has taken her science to one of the highest levels possible, Max uses his knowledge in a more common arena, which makes it more available to others. Hence, the reason why he was able to work with Hodgins on the experiment that I’ll talk about in a bit. If he was as hyper-logical as his daughter was, he probably would have never been hired at the Jeffersonian. I mean, one Bones is enough!

Daddy Booth: In this episode, Seeley felt that he had become a below-average father because he wasn’t able to get his child into a prestigious (translation: snooty) private school in the middle of DC.

Why did he begin to feel this way? Well, Bones’ doubting tones, of course. You know, there are some times on this show where I think that Temperance just says those things to incur doubt in others and start an argument. This is one of those cases. Why she decided to do this to Seeley when he has been secure in his son’s educational progress for this long is beyond me.

Intern of the week - Mr. Bray: Have we seen this intern before? I thought he had appeared but, because they have been rotated in and out since the season began, I couldn’t recall. Anyway, he was probably one of the more straight-forward interns that the Squints have utilized. That, and he worked well with all of the team members, including Hodgins — something that hasn’t happened much this season. Bray may have to go into the top three list of interns that I would like to see return.

The wacky experiments return: I didn’t realize it, but Hodgins hasn’t performed any crazy, potentially deadly, experiments lately in order to forward the Squints’ weekly murder investigations. Of course, this is due to his last experiment partner, Zack, being in the psych ward right now. Not to mention that Dr. Addy was severely injured the last time an experiment was done.

But, a new era of Mr. Wizard-type testing returned this week thanks in small part to Max’s and Temperance’s wind tunnel project from her school years. Granted, no ‘King of the Lab’ statements from anyone after the experiment was successful. Still, it was good to see Hodgins getting back into some of his old traits.

This case: Kind of choppy, if you ask me. I had to watch the episode a second time (bless you, DVR) in order to really fit the pieces together. There were some big leaps of logic and focus on suspects that really only needed one round of questioning. The reveal was interesting only for the reason why the victim was murdered.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pushing Daisies: Robbing Hood

Dwight Dixon is getting dangerously close to the truth about Chuck, tempting Vivian into giving up more details than she should about her niece's tragic death. Meanwhile, the gang investigates a murder that involves do-gooders doing more wrong than good. (Is that a lesson for Ned?)

Wow, the ending of this episode has me feeling anxious. Dwight knows the truth about Chuck being alive (though not "alive again" — I'm guessing he just thinks she faked her own death, but more on that in a second), and with his motives still unclear, Ned finally gives in and offers to wake up Chuck's dad so they can find out what Dwight's after. But as the two of them stand in that graveyard, shoveling dirt, Chuck appears to realize for the very first time what a bad idea this could be. After all, she'll only have a minute for all her questions, and after that, she'll have to watch him die again. Ned says if he'd known what his powers could do, he'd never have woken up his mother; will Chuck just regret this? And will Ned's presence be enough to make it OK? He's done things he knows are wrong out of loyalty before (reanimating his classmate's python and rabbit) — but this episode's mystery shows that doing wrong to make things right isn't always the best call.

Besides, what if Chuck's dad can't tell them anything about Dwight? That man is creepier every day — and the hotel room with all the semi-automatic weapons just takes the cake. Plus, he's already got Vivian's heart, and he knows someone is after him now because of the missing pocket watch. And it's not like he doesn't know where to find Chuck. I'm starting to think Ned's suggestion of skipping town might actually be the best idea.

Meanwhile, the case was good for a bunch of gags, especially Olive dressed as a Zsa Zsa-style princess with Pigby on a leash, sashaying into the Ring for Rights office to set up the aunts for a robbery. Also: setting up the aunts? They really must have been pretty convinced that the robbers weren't actually going to be large, angry men, because I'm pretty sure Ned, Emerson, Lily, Vivian, and Olive couldn't look fearsome if they tried. I loved Chuck's tin-can eavesdropping machine hooked up to the victrola in the living room and the fact that the aunts have turned Chuck's old room into a cheese locker; it also figures that it's Chuck's good heart that lets Rob Wright (heh) get away the first time. There were also a bunch of lovely little moments, including:

Ned's a stress-baker! Perfect, then, that Olive's a stress eater.

Olive: "Counterintelligence via pie delivery — like gossiping with a purpose! My speciality."

Ned doesn't know what a key party is! "It's a kind of raffle." "Of the porno variety." And then, later, "Ohh — I was still really wrong about what I thought that was."

Love Gustav for some reason calling Ned, Emerson, and Chuck "Roger, Elmer, and Sassafras."

The entire idea of Ned in a room full of taxidermied things? Hilarious.

Lily: "An imposition is ordering clams at a kosher deli!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fringe: The Dreamscape

"In case you hadn't noticed, I can be quite obsessive." - Walter to Astrid, on his current obsession with coffee yogurt.

Another great episode , and some of the little symbols I see leading into commercials were actually in the episode. Let's see ...

There's the moths (or butterflies, as the case may be), who showed up in a Massive Dynamic employee's hallucinations, causing him to leap through a window and down several stories, landing on top of a car. Yeah, that did not end well.

And there's the frogs, which Olivia discovered in a basement storage room, thanks to a clue sent to her by John. You know, it seems clear that her hallucinations - or memories, whatever - of John are more than that. How could a memory be sending her emails with important clues on which to follow up? Or saying that yes, he DID see her in the restaurant when she went back into the tank to rid herself of his memories. As a side note, it also makes me wonder how many of these basement storage areas with important data are scattered around our "real" world. If Fringe is in any way true to life - and who's to say it's not? - apparently, the world's secrets are not all locked up in secret vaults somewhere.

Other thoughts:

Olivia is on to Massive Dynamic and Nina, but Agent Broyles says they've been cooperative with everything. Maybe they're slipping HIM some hallucinatory drugs.

Olivia was actually going to have FUN! Yep, I saw her smile and everything. But alas, it didn't last long and she was quickly back with her sad face and heavy attitude.

Walter's obsession of the week: coffee yogurt.

Hmmm ... who is the girl who met Peter who's being beaten up by that other guy, Michael? This storyline seemed out of place, for some reason. Did it tie in with the other stuff in this ep? Was the other guy part of the John Scott group?

Didn't see The Observer (again!). Seems like he's usually in a crowd somewhere.

Creepiest line: "I saw you. In the restaurant," written by "John" (or someone) on Olivia's computer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Own Worst Enemy: High Crimes & Turducken

"High Crimes and Turducken" starts off with a pretty good action piece. Edward has gone off on his own and made a deal with the KGB to deliver a Maguffin-type object called The Falcon in exchange for information regarding his parents fatal 1986 "car accident" - and Henry is, of course, caught in the middle. Henry awakens during a foreign Falcon-exchange and is almost taken out by his own company Janus.

What I enjoyed the most about "High Crimes" was the momentary focus on Edward as an actual human being and seeing the flashbacks of his younger and fuller-eyebrowed self with his parents. Also, Tom's attempts to mend his broken relationship with Mary as touching as they are almost unbelievably naive.

The show's smallish formula during the short time it's been on the air is this: Some peripheral character on the show is going through some form of catharsis that exactly mirrors what Henry is going through, and thus is able to help Henry emotionally deal with a certain problem. Last episode, it was Mariam love of her "assigned" husband. This episode it's Angie's Dad discovering that the mother he never knew was Jewish. And it's able to help Henry come to terms with his own feeling about Edward's parents. This formula isn't overly annoying, but it sure isn't coy or clever anymore.

I really can't believe that during this time in Henry's life, when everything is on the line for him and his family's lives are in constant danger - that he would be so much of a proud patriot as to object so highly to Edward's "off the reservation" mission. The fact that he considers Edward a "traitor" is a strange breaking point for Edward. See, torture is fine. Black ops are fine. Killing his friends off and threatening his life are fine. But possibly selling secrets to the KGB? That's enough to actually make Henry go and...turn himself in? Really? Don't buy it. That should be the least offensive thing that Edward's done. And to actually attempt to turn himself in as a traitor to be executed, and lose absolutely everything he's been frantically scurrying to protect is ludicrous.

I've said before. This is a tricky show. Two personalities that need to have two believable character arcs that meet up in the name of suspense and intrigue. It's a rough ride. I sympathize. But for Henry to stand on such a skyscraper-sized high horse is absurd. Edward banging his wife into oblivion? Fine. Edward taking his daughter along on a mission? Sure. Why not. Edward selling a secret box to the KGB to learn why his parents died? Well then...just commit suicide. Henry waking up mid-coitus with Dr. Skinner was pretty good, but his level of taking offense to things needs to drop. He should be ready for anything these days. But things are actually falling into place a little too conveniently in this episode. It turns out that Edward actually gave the KGB a fake Falcon. It turns out that Henry didn't have to freak out and turn himself in because…well, everything's just fine.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Movie Review: Doubt

Doubt is a tense, thought-provoking and incredibly well-written play, and it must be difficult to adapt such a dense play for the big screen. With a play there's the understanding that we're somewhat confined in terms of location and there's often a lot of talking and emoting. The film adaptation of Doubt is pretty much entirely talking and emoting. It's not that that's a bad thing, per se, it's just that it requires a bit more wrangling of the ol' attention span than most movies require. In some ways, I'm not completely sure why it was adapted for the big screen, except to cement in cinematic history these exceptional performances by some of today's Hollywood giants.

There's nothing visually interesting about it (at all), though surely the visuals aren't the focus here. The exploration of what's moral and good, which sin is greater than another sin, and the back-and-forth dance of trust and suspicion — these are central to the story that Doubt attempts to tell. But it is, well, a lot of talking. It's often absorbing because these actors so expertly guide us through the narrative, but it might take a particularly patient modern-day moviegoer to enjoy this movie.

The story takes place in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964 where the school's stern, unyielding principal, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) becomes suspicious of the parish priest, the likable Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), when he takes a particular shine to one boy: The school's first black student, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). Father Flynn insists that he is merely trying to help a lonely, isolated boy, but Sister Aloysius is convinced that the nature of this relationship is inappropriate. The sweet, young nun Sister James (Amy Adams) is pulled into the conflict and doesn't know who to believe: Her kind and gentle-seeming priest or this steely nun who is utterly certain (despite a lack of hard evidence) of wrongdoing. The audience is basically in Sister James's shoes, wanting to believe the best about this seemingly good-hearted priest, but worried that if there is something going on and it goes ignored then this boy will be further harmed.
The performances are top-notch, and all the awards buzz was completely deserved. Restricted by clothing and (for the women) modest head-covering bonnets, as well as a nearly action-free script, it's up to the actors and their facial expressions, vocal intonation, and slight changes in body language to convey the emotion within this story. Lesser actors would have brought down the entire thing, but as it is, Streep, Hoffman, Adams and Viola Davis (who plays Donald's mother) manage to make this heavy, talky script loom more powerfully before us than I ever thought possible. They each have such tremendous presence, emitting a heat that we can practically feel in the audience. However, all in all it feels like watching a play, so if you aren't exactly a fan of plays, this may not be the movie for you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prison Break: Selfless

This episode on Prison Break, Michael got his hands on Scylla, only to be blindsided by a major betrayal. Once the dust cleared, one of the good guys was left dead.

After a steady, careful and arduous approach, Michael lays his hands on Scylla. Instantly, an alert is sent to the General, his security camera activated. The General hurries down to the chamber with his guards... only to be ambushed by Linc, Mahone and Sucre, the instant they exit the elevator. Tripping the alarm was Michael's plan all along, as it brought the elusive sixth card to Scylla. Using all six cards, Michael accesses Scylla, which is an external hard drive.

Meanwhile, at the trap set by Gretchen....

Self and "Trishanne" (aka special agent Miriam Holtz) are bound and held captive by Feng. They get into an "argument" which is actually a diversionary tactic so Self can unlock his cuffs, seize one thug's gun and take down two of the others. Trish gets free, and ends a Self-Feng showdown by gunning down the Asian. Self says he would have preferred Feng be kept alive — very much so, I later will learn.

After taunting Lincoln with information about his father, who allegedly was an executioner for the Company, the General inquires as to the gang's extraction plan. "Do you expect to just walk out of here?" he scoffs. As a matter of fact, yes, says Michael — seeing as Sara, over at the Angels of whatnot event, has gotten the drop on Lisa. Er, that is the General's daughter. Bombshell time! And that was a good one.

Meanwhile, at GATE....

T-Bag and Gretchen try to bide their time, waiting for the gang to emerge from the tunnel, unaware that they opted for an "alternate route." When Mr. White gets wise to the significant armaments "Cole" and "Susan Anthony" are hiding, Gretch gets antsy and whips our her large black... automatic weapon and corrals the GATE staff into White's office. Trishanne shows up in secret, unlocks the doors and tries to discreetly usher the staff out. White, though, gets all wimpy and makes a dash for the exit, triggering Gretch to get crazy with her trigger finger. T-Bag and Gretch run for the garage, where Trish traps her former "boss." Gretchen gets away.

Self meets up with Michael and the gang back at the warehouse, where there is much patting of backs, expressed kudos on a job well done, and celebratory drinks. Sucre even has some goofy line akin to "This beer is extra tasty because of the smell of freedom." (OK, I pretty much made that up, but seriously, those scenes foreshadowed so much imminent, Hot Shots' "Deadmeat"-type doom, it was amusing.) Self orders the transport vans for the gang, then drives off to take Scylla (so thanklessly lobbed into his passenger seat) to the senator he can trust.

But the vans never come.

And Self doesn't go to the senator.

And Michael can't reach Self on his cell.

And the transfer papers awarding Michael et al their freedom are blank.

And Self guns down Trishanne.

Self has sold out, or is anxious to if he can find a buyer for Scylla. And Michael and the gang are left with no resources, vulnerable in the warehouse. Holy double-cross!

Just a few memorable lines and such:
"Lord, I was born a rambling man."
Michael to the General as he opens Scylla: "The frustration must be killing you."
"I'm guess about right now you wish [the Company] framed someone else."
Was the "airport" the exact same set as the "racetrack"?
The "All's Well that Ends Well" book that Michael swapped for Scylla.
T-Bag trying to get Trishanne to say he may have had a future as a legit businessman.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sarah Connor Chronicles: Strange Things happen at the One Two Point

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is really a great show. Week after week it proves that far from the Prison Break, this show lives in a category of its own, a category of awesome scripts where it’s not all about action, explosions and fights.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be some, as illustrated by Sarah when she kicked the ass of some CEO who conned her, but they favor introspection, complex characters and psychology of people as well as of machines, as odd as it may sound. This was another pretty awesome episode, and the complexity of everything that’s going on is really one that makes me love the show even more, even if I don’t understand everything, because it all feels right — and under control.

One thing I have know for a long time was that Jesse was up to no good, or at least that she was lying to Dereck. She’s had weird behaviors, memories of new timelines no one ever heard of before, and more importantly I knew she had been following John and Dereck for some time before they actually met. This episode, Dereck found out and asked her to explain. She did, by saying that she had been sent back in time - though I’m not quite sure by whom - to help John, because in the new future he’s losing it, influenced by Cameron — a machine.

After years of being close to one in our present, future John is letting her take over and that doesn’t seem to fly by the people willing to die for him, because he makes bad decision and get people killed for the wrong reasons. That’s what she said, but is that really the truth? It’s hard to tell, because it sounds very possible, and understandable, but it came with another big reveal : if I was wondering why Riley was sticking around so much, it’s because she’s on a mission, too.

Like the others she came from the future, alongside Jesse, working to get John to drop Cameron or something. But was it me, or did it sound for a moment like she had something else to do to John? “You can do this. You have to do this.” Those are the words Jesse said to Riley, talking about her mission with John, and I’m not exactly sure what it is Riley has to do. Was it just continue to pretend she’s an innocent happy teenage girl, or was there more to it ?

Her little breakdown was interesting though, it’ll be fun to watch how she manages to keep fooling everyone, and where she’s going with this. Somehow, since Jesse decided to keep lying to Dereck, I can’t see anything good coming up… Because Dereck continues to be fooled by his feelings for Jesse, and still trust her. But she isn’t being completely honest with him, and maybe the motivations she gave him for coming back in time weren’t the entire truth either. Either way, in the future we have two groups of human, and maybe two groups of machines as well.

One of them is Skynet, and every day it seems more and more to be growing up in Weaver’s basement. Dr Sherman was helping it grow, and he’s been killed as a reward. To take over is our friend Ellison, who also gave “John Henry” a new face, the one of Cromartie. So it’s more than just a face actually. And I always wondered whether Cromartie and Weaver were on the same side or not because at times they seemed to both have different and contradictory objectives.

Just look here : Weaver is using Ellison. He got her Cromatie’s body, and he’s now teaching “John Henry”, so she needs him. A few weeks back, Skyney (I assume) sent a Terminator to Ellison’s place to kill him and take over his life. That simply doesn’t make any sense, not if both are on the side team, working towards the same objective, does it?

Weaver has been known to use terms such as “faith”, much like Cromartie who said he “believed” Ellison would guide him to Sarah. Those sort of human emotions attached to machines just don’t sound very Skynet-like to me, but I might be dead wrong here. One thing for sure however is that Cameron continues to get more at ease with it, as she was seen this week laughing and making jokes about hair… how un-robotic of her.

Speaking of faith, Sarah has been having some issues on that area lately. She’s been obsessed with the three dots, and their possible meaning and connection to the future. She pushed things very too far, ending up on a wrong track and conned by some CEO who apparently had nothing to do with Skynet at all — unless he actually does, and, again, Weaver is on to something else completely.

Either way, Sarah is losing it, and her mention of her time locked up in a mental institution during the “fight” (well, she was beating him up, he was… taking it) wasn’t a coincidence, her mental state might not be so stable, as illustrated in the bathroom when she punched the mirror out of frustration. (I’m also thinking Riley’s earlier comment about mirrors might have a connection with this…)

This show is definitely one of the best thing around, and I’m glad Fox is sticking with it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Life On Mars: The Man Who Sold The World

This was probably my favorite episode of the series so far. Sam’s interaction with his father blew away his moments with his mother in a previous episode. That makes sense, though, since he’s been away from his father for 30 years. There was so much to catch up on, so much to figure out.

I was riveted by Sam’s moments with his father. The one scene that stood out so much, yet was such a simple gesture, was Sam smelling his father’s leather jacket. Sam missed his father and loved him. At that moment, whatever reason Vic had for leaving Sam as a child was forgotten. All Sam knew after that moment was that he was going to change history, one way or another. Will the truth make him really feel any better?

Speaking of altering history, I got a bit of a game changer in this episode. If Sam’s memories from his childood are accurate and he did see a woman in a red dress (Annie) get killed, he did change the course of history. What I’m wondering, though, is whether young Sam still went into the woods to find his father and maybe saw what went on this time. If he didn’t go into the woods, why not? Was it because old Sam changed his mind in that brief moment with them together?

One thing that’s starting to bother me is how much time Sam is spending with his mother. What I mean is, with as much communication they’ve had together thus far, she’d clearly remember him in 2008. Not only that, but I hope I get some indication later that she remembered “Luke Skywalker” once the movie comes out five years later.

It looks like Sam and Annie’s relationship is starting to turn up a bit. I’m wondering if Sam will eventually forget his fiance and have more reason to stay in 1973 than to leave and go “home.”
Finally, the mysterious phone call. What I’m confused about is why Sam figured his father’s “bottom-right corner” theory meant something more, made him rush off to read a bunch of case files and somehow translate them all within a few hours to be an address.

Songs in this episode:
Bread - “Everything I Own”
Steely Dan - “Reelin’ in the Years”
David Bowie - “Life On Mars?”
Harry Nilsson - “Spaceman”