tv shows

“The Flash:” The Man in the Yellow Suit

yellowsuitI don’t know what Arrow or Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD have up their sleeve, but it’s going to be VERY hard for them to top The Flash‘s mid-season finale.

“The Man in the Yellow Suit” hit just about every button of what has made The Flash my favorite new show of the season.  And I couldn’t help but thinking as I watched the hour unfold that whoever is in charge of the DC movie empire might want to call up the writers from The Flash for some pointers on how to do a DC superhero movie right.    Quite frankly, this single hour of The Flash was far more entertaining and compelling that the last couple of DC related superhero movies I’ve seen (really much of anything outside the Nolan-verse Batman films) — especially Green Lantern and Man of Steel.   I’ll also have to admit it makes me less enthusiastic to see the big-screen version of The Flash simply because I’m loving what this show is doing with the character and universe here.

Call me a fan-boy if you want, but I love this show.

And “The Man in the Yellow Suit” delivered on just about every level, answering just enough questions while raising a few more.    (more…)

TV Round-Up: “The Flash,” Things You Can’t Outrun

thingyoucantoutrunThe first two installments of The Flash were focused on establishing Barry and his newly found super powers.   With the third episode, the series expands the focus a bit and begins to give us some development of the other characters who are part of the Flash’s crusade against meta-humans.

In this case, we get a bit of expansion of Caitlin’s character, including a well done use of flashbacks to the night that everything went wrong at Star Labs.   As displeased as I was last week with the flashbacks, feeling them to be the weakest part of another wise solid outing of the show, this week I felt like the flashbacks were better connected to the character and storyline.  I also like the concept that the flashbacks don’t necessarily have to center on Barry’s past each week, but can instead be used like the ones on Lost were — to give us some details and insights into the character.

In this case, it’s Caitlin and her fiance Ronnie, who wasn’t supposed to be at the start-up of the particle accelerator the night it went up.  An engineer she met working on the project, Ronnie throws himself into the fray when things start to go sideways and ends up apparently getting killed in the process.  I say apparently here because given what we’ve seen about Wells and his ulterior agenda (more on that later) and that we never see a body for Ronnie,  I fully expect him to be back at some point, quite possibly as the biggest meta-human the Flash has faced up to that point.  In fact, I can fully see him returning for the mid-season or possibly season-ending cliffhanger to the show.  (more…)

TV Round-Up: “The Flash — Pilot”

theflashMarvel may be crushing it at the movie theaters these days, but when it comes to super heroes on TV, DC is more than holding its own.*

* If you count cartoon franchises, DC wins by a mile. The best Marvel animated series of the past decade was cancelled after two seasons (that series being The Spectacular Spider-Man).

As much as I liked the post-Captain America 2 run of Agents of SHIELD last year, I have to admit it had to do a lot of heavy lifting to get there. If you’re a fan who tuned out, I suggest you check out the last two DVDs from the set, catch-up and come back in. And while SHIELD came into its own late last year, it was Arrow that consistently delivered the best live-action comic book stories last season.

One of the many threads from Arrow last year was the set-up for a potential spin-off centering on The Flash. Now, I was a fan of the late 80’s CBS version, mainly because we got a preview of Mark Hammill’s genius work to come as the definitive Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. But I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I watched the show, so my memory could be cheating a bit.

Of the new fall shows, I’d have to say it was The Flash I was most looking forward to. So much so that I passed on the chance to obtain a copy of the pilot when it leaked on-line earlier this summer and instead made myself wait to see it actually unfold on its premiere date. One reason is that I didn’t want to have to wait two months for the next installment if the show was good and the other was I wanted to enjoy the show in all its HD glory.

So, I’m a bit behind some of my fellow geeks out there when it comes to enjoying this pilot. But I’m glad that I waited to see it because it gave me something to look forward to during the fall premiere season.

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Doctor Who: The Caretaker

caretakerWhen I saw the preview for “The Caretaker,” my first thought was, “That looks an awful lot like ‘School Reunion.  Watching the episode, that feeling didn’t necessarily go away.  And that may be part of the point.

Each episode this season has seemed echoed a previous installment from the first seven or so seasons of modern Doctor Who.  It’s almost as if Steven Moffat want to show us what the new Doctor is like (and attempt to answer the question of whether or not he’s a good man) by putting the character into situations similar to those we’ve previously seen.  Yes, this time around he’s masquerading as the caretaker of a school instead of a teacher, but the premise of battling an alien menace in the familiar surroundings of a school is similar enough.

But where “School Reunion” was about the conflict between the current companion and the previous companion, this story centered on the tug of war taking place in Clara’s life as she tries to keep the two men in her life unaware of each’s other presence.   The interesting thing is that no matter how hard Clara tries to lead this double life (eating two dinners,  arriving in the cab soaking wet with seaweed in her hair), she isn’t necessarily hiding anything from either party involved.   In both cases, she’s making Danny and the Doctor more suspicious about what’s going on and that much more eager to solve the mystery.  (more…)

Doctor Who: Time Heist

timeheistWith “Listen,” I theorized that series eight was deconstructing the character of the Doctor and there’s nothing in “Time Heist” that makes me doubt that theory.   But watching the episode and how things unfolded, I couldn’t help but ponder that the episodes this season are about more than just deconstructing the Doctor as the hero of the show, but attempting to answer the question he posed to Clara in “Into the Dalek” (and we saw in the promotional material leading up to the season), “Am I a good man?”

With “Time Heist,” the question seems to be “Does the end justify the means?”

The Doctor and Clara are forced to help two others rob a seemingly impregnable bank.  Because the bank employs a life-form known as the Teller that can sense guilt and then consume the mind of the guilty party, their memories are wiped of their motivation and knowledge of the mastermind behind this plot.

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Doctor Who: Listen

lisenIf there’s a linking theme to series eight, it appears to be a deconstruction of the Doctor as a hero.

After renewing its title character in “Deep Breath,” the last three episodes have all been about examining aspects of the Doctor as a hero.  “Into the Dalek” was about how he’s defined by his mortal enemies and his hatred of them.  “Robots of Sherwood” looked at the Doctor in  comparison to the mythological hero of Robin Hood.   And now we’ve got “Listen,” a story that asks the question of what is the Doctor afraid of and where did that fear come from?

As an hour of television (or 45 or so minutes anyway), “Listen” is dark, creepy, off-putting and, for the most part, effective.  The pervading sense of discomfort and of everything not being quite right worked very well and the idea of examining the Doctor’s fear as a young boy is an interesting one.    I’m sure that fandom will be fairly polarized on the final ten or so minutes of the story, but I found that it tied in fairly well with the mythology we’ve seen established in the modern series (and the hints the Doctor has dropped about what happened when he looked into the vortex).   Of course, the assumption that the young boy in the bed was the Doctor is probably the one Steven Moffat wants us to jump to and there may be a twist or revelation set to come later this season that undoes those assumptions.

From the opening shot of the Doctor sitting on top of the TARDIS (which I figured was only created for the promotion leading up to the season and wouldn’t necessarily be used in an episode) to the final frame, the story was replete with visual style.   It also played with the mechanics of time travel when it came to Clara and Danny’s first date.  I will admit I found it interesting that Danny is objects to Clara’s kn0wledge she can’t or shouldn’t have but is later willing to set this aside when she shows up at his apartment at the end of the episode.   As the story progressed, I found myself wondering if Danny isn’t meant to be some kind of mirror for the Doctor and that could be part of the reason that Clara feels such a strong attraction to him — one that’s strong enough for her to go back twice to Danny after having some time to think about and ponder her actions.   So far, it appears Danny isn’t in on the secret that Clara travels through time (unless I missed something in the final conversation between the two) and it should be interesting to see if and how long this particular secret can or will be kept.

I know I’m a bit behind on my viewing but I’ve tried to stay away from heavy fan-based discussion of the episode so I can avoid SPOILERS.   However, watching “Listen” I can’t help but hear the vocal group who is dissatisfied with the season so far (I’m not one of them) being even more dissatisfied with this installment and how it all ties into the War Doctor.   I’ll admit that I really liked the tie in to the War Doctor and the fiftieth anniversary story and that I have faith in Moffat to execute whatever long term story he’s trying to tell here.

The thought of the Doctor being scared of something under the bed and driven by the fear to confront monsters across the universe and through space and time works for me.   Once again, Peter Capaldi nails his performance as the Doctor and he’s becoming more assured with each installment.   Again, I may not be the right fan to ask about this since I’m also a huge fan of another actor who played the Doctor with a Scottish accent.  (In fact, Sylvester McCoy is my favorite Doctor).

And yet as strong as the first thirty-five or so minutes were, there was something about the last ten or so minutes that felt a bit off.  I can’t quite put my finger on it,  but hopefully repeated viewings will help it become clearer.

TV Round-Up: 24: Live Another Day

x24-live-another-day-poster.jpg.pagespeed.ic.F9cSXAwH1UWarning: This contains SPOILERs for the first nine episodes of season nine of 24 (also known as 24: Live Another Day).  If you’re not caught up completely, don’t read this until you are.

Back in the day, I used to review 24 episode by episode and I’d fully intended to do that when the show returned this time around.  But life sometimes happens and here we are nine weeks into the new run and I’ve yet to post any thoughts about the current day.   But after watching this week’s installment, I felt compelled to take up my old 24 reviewing mantle and post a few thoughts

I have to admit that it was announced that the show would come back and that we’d only get half of the day shown to us, I was intrigued. I felt like the potential to jump forward or skip an hour or two here and there might alleviate some of the treading water moments that previous seasons suffered from.  It might also allow us to transition from one threat to another with a bit more ease than we’re normally used to seeing.

And, so far, I’ve been on board with how this season was going.   In fact, a few weeks ago I felt like the show gave us the Jack Bauer-iest episode ever with Jack torturing a subject for information and then escaping targeted missiles fired by a drone.   It was everything that makes Jack Bauer the superhero that he is all in one hour of storytelling.  Oh and they blew up a hospital as well.

Then we’ve got the last few weeks…specifically the storyline with President Heller surrendering himself to Margo Al Harazi in order to stop the drone attacks.

I have to admit that when Heller brought Jack and Mark into the loop on his plan, I was intrigued to see if the show would go through with it.  And as last week’s hour unfolded, we saw that (apparently) they were going to follow through with it, up to and including Heller sacrificing himself to stop the drone attacks and getting a more noble death than by succumbing to Alzheimer’s.    Yet as the hour closed last week, we didn’t get a silent final few ticks of the clock (as we have with other deaths of our heroes on the show) and I began to suspect the show might have something up its sleeve.

But surely they wouldn’t pull a bait and switch on Margo and the audience?

Oh, but they would and did, with it revealed this week that Jack and Chloe were able to trick Margo into thinking Heller was dead.

And I can’t help but feel like the show went right up the abyss and somehow pumped the brakes a bit.  I suppose that Jack still has his pardon and I guess it will be interesting to have Heller around when the poop hits the fan with the Russians  (you can’t dangle the forged signature by Mark on the extradition order and not have that come back into play, especially since the show went out of its way to show us the order and the forged signature again as the quad-box screen came up to end the latest hour).   I can’t help but feel that the writers somehow realized we had to have Heller around to see Mark get what’s coming to him (and let’s face it, he’s going to lose a lot when this news comes to light).  I’m officially less intrigued by this storyline than I once was, but still feel like Mark will face the wrath of Heller and Audrey when these events come to light.  Add in that he didn’t pull a Bauer and find a way to get Heller out of his apparent death and I can see Audrey back with Jack by season’s end.

Or maybe not.

Mayhaps this will be the final mission for Jack as he sacrifices himself to save Heller and Audrey.

Meanwhile, we’ve got the CIA standing in for CTU with all kinds of crazy shenanigans.   Navarro is actually the bad guy, framing Kate’s husband and giving secrets to Chloe’s new boyfriend*.  Now that Navarro is out as the bad guy, I fully expect his every betrayal to come to light.  I also expect somehow Chloe is going to be betrayed as well and have to have Jack come pull her fat out of the fire.

*Worst reveal EVER!

Honestly, I was fully on board with this day until the latest hour.  Far too many of the typical 24 developments all crammed into an hour and ones that left me scratching my head a bit.

It may not ruin the entire day for me, but it’s put a bit of a taint on what, until now, has been a very enjoyable run of the show for me.  I hope the show can prove me wrong and wrap things up well or in a satisfying way.