Back Soon!

Category: By Rev/Views
As you may be aware I've had an impending move on the cards for the past few weeks, I've mostly been trying to sort it all out well in advance in order to avoid massive disruptions and skip past the inevitable disasters which always happen when you move.

I'm going to be moving my computer either tomorrow or Wednesday, but I think it's unlikely that I'll manage to post anything more on here before then because there's just so much I need to get on top of. Additionally everything TV related is now boxed up and as such it's impossible to tell where it is. So I'm going to call a hiatus to Rev/Views a day or so in advance here.

I have set up Twitter to receive phone texts from me, so until I'm back online I shall be exclusively communicating via the medium of tweets. You can see them in the top right corner of the main page or follow them directly here. Excuse me for not following you back immediately, but I won't be able to check for any possible new followers except when I have occasional access in work. Likewise I won't be able to see any messages from anyone I'm following right now.

Be back soon (hopefully) until then, see you on Twitter*!
*Or for those lucky few who know me personally, see you on facebook.
Direct Link

The Guild: Season 2

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

Felicia Day as "Codex"/Sid
Sandeep Parikh as "Zaboo"
Jeff Lewis as "Vork"
Amy Okuda as "Tinkerballa"
Robin Thorsen as "Clara"
Vincent Caso as "Bladezz"

When I previously reviewed the first season of The Guild I was somewhat torn, I enjoyed the show, completely approved of the web-release method and found the dialog hilarious. On the other hand I also found some parts of the show a little inaccessible as it was heavily orientated towards people who play Massively Multiplayer Online Games, I had to Google many of the acronyms and terms used for quite some time and I found the character 'Zaboo' annoying beyond belief, far more annoying than he was intended to be (yes, he is meant to be an annoying character, but you don't want a character so annoying that the viewer wants to switch off instead of hearing what he has to say.

So I had good and bad things to say about the show, but on the whole the good outweighed the bad by a fair margin.

What about the second season? Well, I feel that it's important for the second season of any show to work on it's weak points while still delivering the good stuff in spades. I'm not so bothered about 'raising the stakes' as such, but I do like to see an improvement across the board combined with an interesting story.

The second season of The Guild continues the story between Codex, Zaboo and the other members of the Guild, but has it managed to improve on the points I felt were weak first time? Yes, easily a thousand times yes. For a start the dialog and terminology was far easier to follow and understand this time, I suspect that's in part because I put the effort into learning some of it, but it also felt that the show had 'met me halfway' by toning down some of the geekiest language. Likewise Zaboo was moved a little further away from Codex and given a chance to properly interact with other members, the combination move in with Vork was a stroke of genius, those two characters play off each other exceptionally well. Indeed many of the funniest scenes involve these two interacting, Vork's obvious discomfort with Zaboo's unintentionally homo-erotic dialog and actions was a joy to see.

Bladezz was a little better used in this season as well, in the first season he was mostly used as the "villain" of the piece, his actions forcing the members of the Guild to come together in the first place. But here he was shown in a more normal light, his chasing after Tinkerballa, her manipulation of his affections and his final act in retaliation was a nice b-plot to contrast with the Codex/Zaboo one. But possibly my favourite moment was when he attempted to hustle Vork and Zaboo in poker only to have Vork's incessantly pedantic nature outplay him due to stats and odds.

While I've not written much about her here Clara was also quite brilliant, she hasn't changed too much from the first season, but when you have something which works well you shouldn't change it too much. She remains a self-absorbed, vindictive individual clearly in the throes of arrested development, her 'griefing' of Vork for his in game decision was exceptionally funny, as was her 'woo-girl' reversion when organising a small girl's night (which she degenerated into a full blown party).

From a technical standpoint as well the show has improved, not just the inclusion of Fernando Chien as Wade (who brought some awesome asskickery to the show) and not just in the technical editing and camera work. But also in the distribution, putting the show onto XBox Live for download was a fantastic move and I applaud it with great gusto.

In short the second season of the Guild improved on everything right across the board, it moved a little away from it's MMO roots and as such it managed to broaden all of it's characters while additionally making the show more accessible and a lot funnier to boot. I always thoroughly approve of web-based shows, I feel they are showing us the future of media and the potential involved in online projects. Felicia Day and the entire crew involved in the show are to be congratulated on an excellent show in new media. I'm confident that the third season will be even better than the second one was.

Watch the Guild: It's not just for gamers.
Direct Link

DVDs in Review #58: Rescue Me: The Complete Second Season

Category: , , , By Rev/Views
I'm at home today thanks to mild laryngitis, I might be able to put up the latest Damages episode later, it depends because there is work going on in the hallway outside my flat and it's a little too disruptive for watching TV. But what I can do is write about something I watched earlier this month, and that is the DVD set containing the second season of Rescue Me.

For the first season look here.

Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin
Mike Lombardi as Mike Silletti
Steven Pasquale as Sean Garrity
Andrea Roth as Janet Gavin
Daniel Sunjata as Franco Rivera
John Scurti as Kenny Shea
Callie Thorne as Shelia Keefe
Jack McGee as Jerry Riley
Diane Farr as Laura Miles
and James McCaffrey as Jimmy Keefe

The Show:

The second season of Rescue Me continues the story of Tommy Gavin; now banished to Staten Island and the assorted members of Engine 62, who have now adjusted to the presence of Laura as a member of the team and welcomed Tommy's replacement - Sully - with open arms. Tommy is desperate to return to Engine 62 and also to locate his now missing family, taken by his wife Janet at the end of the last season.

The second season is filled with hard times for the members of Engine 62, over the course of the season some of the members get conned, stalk their ex-girlfriend, lose loved ones, date people, break up and much, much more. This season remains true to the style of the first season, mixing drama and hard times with comedic moments expertly.

If I did have a complaint about the show it's that the plotting is a little obvious, you'll quite often correctly predict what's going to happen in advance because the show tends to be a little transparent and very keen on karmic justice. Even when you do accurately predict what's going to happen it doesn't diminish the enjoyment, you'll continue to watch rooted as the train wreck unfolds.

I'm trying to avoid talking about specific spoilers here, but I can say that the second season contains some huge moments for the characters in the show, moments which will excite or sadden you with equal measure. The second season takes the foundation the first season laid out and builds on it beautifully. There's a reason FX have renewed this show for a sixth season before the fifth one has even aired, and that reason is this show is brilliant.

The Other Stuff:

The Packaging:
As I mentioned previously this set is produced in the same packaging style as The Shield, which means each season looks very similar when you have them on the shelf. There's no Fremantle Homicide: Life on the Street shenanigans here, the sets look good on the shelf next to each other and the look good when you take each one out.

The cover art is very stylish and evocative while the back manages to be both informative and attractive to look at. Just about the only complaint I have about this set is the positioning of the Rescue Me logo on the spine of the set. Oddly it's not in the same location as the first season, it's higher placed, which means they look a little off when you have them on the shelf next to each other. But this is a problem which occurs in most DVD sets, you'd think they'd have a quality control man to avoid something like this.

The Extras:
There is a pretty average smattering of extras on the discs, the deleted scenes are good and the featurettes are excellent:

-- Deleted Scenes
-- Season Three Trailer
-- Audio Commentary for the First and Last episodes
-- Featurettes
-- Blooper Reel

The Details:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Wide screen
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Region: 2
Runtime: 9 Hours 11 mins
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English - HOH, Arabic, Dutch, English, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish

The Price:
Just like the first season of Rescue Me, it's Sendit who have the best price right now. Offering the set for £12.89, which is 2.3 ppm. A great score in any book.

The Final Word:

If you've watched and enjoyed the first season of Rescue Me then this is an absolute no-brainer, the second season improves on the first one in almost every aspect. There is one issue with watching Rescue Me here in the UK, only the first two seasons have been released so far.
Direct Link

Damages - 206 - A Pretty Girl In A Leotard

Category: , , By Rev/Views

In the latest episode of Damages Patty finally gets her Plantif for the Ultima case while Katie accidentally sees someone from the past and as such Ellen gets closer to proving Frobisher had David killed. We learn a little more about William Kendrick and in the present day timeline things look exceptionally bad for Ellen.

Read about credits, buying a new car and a surprising development beyond the link...

Have I lately mentioned how much I love the opening credits for Damages? Even if I have I think it's something worth reiterating before I move onto writing about the latest episode; 'A Pretty Girl In A Leotard'. The opening sequence along with it's seriously funky score is possibly one of the best opening sequences ever used on a TV show.

If you're curious it's called 'When I Am Through With You' and it's by the VLA. Here's the full version on youtube.

Onto the episode.

By all accounts this was a pretty good episode, for the most part Damages is a show which likes to plod along being confusing for a while and then suddenly shout 'BIG TWIST' at it's viewers then cackle as everything becomes even more murky and obfuscated. But it does have stretches where things are brought to head in a more sedate and suited fashion. Last week's episode was one of these and this week, while having a few twisty moments, was very good at puting them forward without leaning on them too hard.

Everything just felt more natural, though I must admit I've pretty much given up trying to understand exactly what's happening, instead I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. As such I doubt I have any real insights into what's happening or why, just a few observations and comments about random things that caught my attention.

I'm now utterly confused as to what exactly Clarke Peter's character has to do with any thing in the show, while it's often impossible to label a character in Damages as a good or bad guy there are normally defined sides. He appears to be floating above this and playing his own game. Which -- if this is the case -- is fine, but the previous episode lead me to believe he was more 'on Patty's side'. But he doesn't have to make that much sense, he's brilliant to watch and sounds like chocolate on silk.

Speaking of sides, I do seriously appreciate the way Frobisher has now been brought firmly into the plot. His role as Patty's plantif is just a superb piece of irony and provides the potential for some great moments later on. Ellen is really going to struggle to stay calm when she finds out about this development. I wouldn't be surprised if Patty has engineered it to try and provoke Ellen, or am I subscribing a little too much devious to her character at this moment? We'll see, and until then we can just wonder what exactly Frobisher plans to get out of this move.

Katie's return to the show is fully cemented in this episode as well, and while Anastasia Griffith's acting is a tad ropey at times I'm actually pleased to see the character back. Especially as it's brought more of David Costabile back as well, his murder of David in the previous season is something which was left hanging. I'd also quickly like to nod my head in appreciation of the way Detective Rick Messer's execution of the second officer involved with Katie and David was handled. In paritcular the realistic manner of the man's reaction, after being shot in the back he pretty much kept to his feet and was able to turn around before being shot again. Contrary to popular media being shot in the torso does not often knock someone off their feet. Admittedly he was propped up by the car. But it was good to see him turn around with that look of disbelief on his face before Rick finished him off with a second shot.

We also get a few snips of him in the current timeline, clearly planning to kill Ellen in her hotel room and as such wrap up the final lose ends tying David's murder to himself (and Frobisher). He's definately one of the more exciting elements in this episode.

Marcia Gay Harden and John Doman feature heavily in this episode and both of them prove to be more than capable of carrying the weight of the episode on their shoulders. Marcia is of course an exceptionally accomplished actress, but John I've only seen previously in the role of Rawls on The Wire, a role which is described as supporting at best. Here he manages to show himself as the talent he really is, holding his own in a great scene with an on fire Ted Danson and also proving to be as much of a presence on screen as Glenn Close, though he doesn't quite get close to her level of 'predator in a suit'.

The first season now seems to have involved little fish in comparison -- if you could call Frobisher small -- but Ultima and Kendrick are bigger and seem to present more risks and danger, especially now we realise that Frobisher isn't out of the picture.

It was a great episode, full of solid performances, good writing and some great moments. All in all it seems that Damages has mostly moved past the set up for this season and is now looking to move towards the conclusion.

Direct Link

Futurama: Into the Wide Green Yonder

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

Into the Wide Green Yonder is the fourth and final Futurama movie to arrive on our small screens and it's also potentially the last new material we'll see from the show. During an environmental protest in a construction site on Mars a small piece of metal jewelery becomes embedded in Fry's skull, granting him the ability to read minds. Gradually he discovers he's the most important person in the universe (again) and that the fate of a new "green age" rests on the shoulders of his special mind.

Head into the Wide Green Yonder beyond the link... (Mostly spoiler free)

Wow, this is a really great movie. I had reservations about this one ending well because the others have been of somewhat mixed quality. But "ItWGY" is just fantastic. It hits the ground with some simply gorgeous sequences and never stops running. Even static captures of some establishing shots are breathtaking, but to see them in action. It's another level of beauty.

Futurama has always had superb animation mind you, but it seems that "Wide Green Yonder" has taken this and refined it to a whole new level, with extensive use of 3D animation which is completely seamless from it's 2D counterparts. The space chase sequence in particular takes 3D animation to new places and beats Futurama's previously best 3D chase sequence (The Near Death Star) by light years. Just take a look at this shot of the Nimbus (click for a larger version).

Also this shot of the Planet Express ship scanning is another great example of how great everything looks. You should see this one animated.

But, it's not just the 3D which has stepped up, the standard animation is completely gorgeous and lush to the eyes. Many scenes are lit with unusual light sources and have masses of detail to them, far more than most normal animated shows manage. Of particular note is the foil worn by Fry and the other members of the Legion of Mad Fellows, this foil hat is on Fry's head in various forms for almost the entire movie. It's a great looking object and it never drops in the amount of detail on it.

Ok so I've frothed a little about how pretty "Wide Green Yonder" is, but how about the important part? The storyline and dialog? Is that any good?

In a word, yes. Yes it is. The plot is tightly written and runs very well from scene to scene, it's not quite at the same level of brilliance Bender's Big Score was at. That one remains the best of the quadroligy by a long margin, but it's certainly a close second best. We also get to see the conclusion to one of the more amusing running jokes, the deaths of Freewater family. Each of which has been played by Phil Hendrie, the previous members of the family were eaten by Lrrr, eaten by rabid penguins and crushed by a giant robotic lobster.

The jokes in "Wide Green Yonder" come thick and fast, propelled by the dialog and the decision to use the funniest members of the supporting cast for a lot of it. Lrrr, Morbo, Nixon, Mr Wong, LaBarbara and the entire robot Mafia all make solid appearances. The main cast are all given a reasonable amount to do themselves, Zoidberg and Hermes are more solidly in the role of supporting characters and are a little underused. But that's always been the case with the show, they are supporting characters who occasionally get the limelight.
There are also a few special guest stars who have some great moments, Seth MacFarlane sings the wonderful opening number and Snoop Dogg plays himself.

Into The Wide Green Yonder is a worthy addition to the series and also works very well as a final chapter because right now there's no certainty of any more Futurama beyond this. So the writers chose to give us an ending which is both satisfactory in itself and has the potential to continue beyond. Some people may feel a little annoyed at the cliffhanger ending the film provides, but I like the boundless optimism that the ending brings. I don't mind it when a show says, "We're over, but the characters do go on beyond the limits of our story".

Ultimately everyone, everything, everywhere ends; and if this is the final chapter for Futurama I will be more than satisfied with it. A great movie bringing a close to a great series. My only regret is that we won't see another 'Tales of Interest' anthology.

I will write more on this once the DVD release for Into The Wide Green Yonder is out.

Direct Link

DVDs in Review #57: The 4400: The Complete Series

Category: , , , By Rev/Views
I'm sitting up getting ready to watch the final Futurama movie and I figured that while I'm waiting I could write about one of my favourite science fiction shows which is also my favourite superhero show. It also has the unpleasant distinction of belonging to my "Why did they cancel it?" club. I'm writing about 'The 4400' here, and as I picked up the complete series a while back and I've watched the show in it's entirety I feel I can give this mammoth set the justice it deserves.

And who knows, maybe I'll be able to get a few Heroes fans to try this corker of a show out as well.

Jacqueline McKenzie as Diana Skouris
Joel Gretsch as Tom Baldwin
Patrick Flueger as Shawn Farrell
Conchita Campbell as Maia Rutledge
Chad Faust as Kyle Baldwin
Richard Kahan as Marco Pacella
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Richard Tyler
Laura Allen as Lily Moore Tyler
and Bill Campbell as Jordan Collier
The Show:

Over the last hundred years thousands of individuals were disappearing suddenly and without any trace. Without any explanation forty four thousand of them are returned in a flash of light and no recollection of where they have been for the missing years. The government investigates these people and grows concerned when they begin to manifest strange powers, powers with the potential to change the fate of the human race...

The 4400 ran from 2004 until 2007 when it was cancelled before it's time (I suspect a single season more would have brought things to a completely satisfactory close, but it was a victim of the same axe which chopped The Dead Zone). It featured an on going storyline interlaced with single episode and short length story arcs, this story gradually revealed the purpose of the abductions and the powers which were granted to each abductee on their return.

The show is also notable thanks to fantastic reoccurring performances from Jeffrey Combs and Summer Glau, Combs plays a sort-of-subtle homage to his Re-Animator character Herbert West. Staying well within a role he's suited for and skilled at.

To briefly skim over each season it's fair to say that the first season is excellent gradually building up towards the revelation of why these individuals were abducted with delicate pacing, the second season continues from this point and brings the details of what's happened to the 4400 into a clearer focus while also following Richard and Lily Tyler's ordeal after the birth of their child. The third season is the weakest of the seasons, due to a cast member leaving the storyline takes a somewhat unusual turn and for a while I felt that the show might have lost it's magic. But by the latter part of season three it had recovered and the fourth season -- which looks deeper into an 'opposition' force which first began to appear in the third season -- is just utterly fantastic and at times breathtaking.

The Other Stuff:

The Packaging:
The first thing you notice about this boxed set is it's big. Really big. I'm talking a monster sized "eat up all your other DVDs on the shelf if left unattended" big. But this is hardly surprising as the set contains 15 discs. The surprising thing is that it's not as big as many other 15 disc sets. In fact it's comparatively small. Consisting of a dust sleeve which protects a book with the old plastic pages, 15 of them to be precise.

The artwork as well is exceptionally evocative and well done, the book has a full length picture of the entire cast which echoes the initial scenes when the 4400 first arrived. The interior continues this theme and spices it up with screen captures from the show. The dust jacket also matches this and in an exceptionally nice move it even has artwork (the title basically) on the interior of the sleeve, so you have something to look at while sliding it back in.

It's a really well put together product.

The Extras:
There is an entire disc of extras in this set and a wealth of material can be found on it (and the other discs):

-- Video Introduction by Series Creator Scott Peters
-- Pilot Episode
-- Audio Commentary from Scott Peters and Joel Gretsch
-- The 4400: The Ghost Season
-- Promicin: The Moral Choice
-- Viral Grassroots
-- Political
-- Show Specific
-- Deleted Scenes from Seasons 1, 2 and 3

The Details:
Rating: 15
Region: 2 PAL
Season 1: 247 mins
Season 2: 530 Mins
Season 3: 537 Mins
Season 4: 540 mins

The Price:
This set is available for £39.99 from, and while that may seem expensive you need to remember that this show is providing a total run time of 1854 mins (30 hours and 54 mins). Which is actually 2.2 ppm (one of the reasons I like to work out ppm/pence per minute).

Skip to the End:

The 4400 is a brilliant, if occasionally flawed work of science fiction, it's something that you should definitely try out if you're a fan of The X-Files, Close Encounters or even Heroes. I'd go as far as to say that despite being a flawed creation it is still vastly superior to Heroes in many aspects. I certainly prefer it over that deceased equine that's being flogged on our screens currently.

From it's hauntingly beautiful opening sequence to the final episode The 4400 is a superb product and while I'm one of the first to admit it is flawed in places it's still something I enjoy watching greatly.
Direct Link

DVDs in Review #56: Rescue Me: The Complete First Season

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin
Mike Lombardi as Mike Silletti
Steven Pasquale as Sean Garrity
Andrea Roth as Janet Gavin
Daniel Sunjata as Franco Rivera
John Scurti as Kenny Shea
Callie Thorne as Shelia Keefe
Jack McGee as Jerry Riley
and James McCaffrey as Jimmy Keefe

The Show:

Written by Denis Leary and Peter Tolan, Rescue Me has been a staple flagship show on FX since 2004. It stars Denis as troubled firefighter Tommy Gavin, a man quite literally haunted by the events of 9/11. Since his cousin Jimmy was killed during events on that day Tommy has suffered with visits from him and other deceased people. Tommy is an exceptionally troubled man; he's going through a divorce, suffering from alcoholism, dealing with an exceptionally dysfunctional family and the rigours of life as a fireman in New York.

With a framework like this you'd be forgiven for thinking that Rescue Me is a dark show filled with bleak despair, sadness and haunted by the ghosts of the dead. Fortunately for us Rescue Me is far removed from that, Denis mixes his comedy brilliance (see No Cure for Cancer for an example) with solid drama to result in a show which mixes up the 'supernatural', the action, danger, drama and comedy with effortless ease.

When I first read that Tommy was haunted by ghosts I was worried that it would detract from the show and make it feel unnatural; but Rescue Me takes a page out of Six Feet Under's book, not really making it clear if Tommy is being visited by ghosts or hallucinating them out of his own guilt and as such it avoids going to exceptionally weird places. Also bringing a great deal more depth to the show are the other members of 62 Truck, each of them dealing with their problems in their own (often hilarious) manner.

Through the course of the first season the men of 62 Truck have to come to terms with gay firemen, unexpected family, a female firefighter and in a particularly brilliant episode they compare their "little firemen" and wager on the outcome. Every episode is well crafted and holds on it's own while also building the ongoing story lines. Also the action sequences are just top notch and there will be at least one firefighting sequence that will have you holding onto the arm of your chair for dear life.

The Other Stuff:

The Packaging:
The packaging comes from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc. This is a group who've figured out the standardised design they're going to use and stick with it (with one annoying exception) as such this means each and every season of Rescue Me is identical in style not only in region but also when comparing DVD sets from different regions. The design is so distinctive and standardised that you can even place Rescue Me next to The Shield and they match up well.

Outside there is a clear and well designed dust sleeve which has a stylish and distinctive front cover and a back cover which clearly presents everything you need to know. The interior is the same two page book that is used in The Shield's packaging, it holds all four DVDs cleanly and is easy to use.

The Extras:
There are a selection of extras spread across the four discs.

-- Commentary for the first and last episode of the season with Denis Leary and Peter Tolan
-- Blooper Reel
-- Four Behind the Scenes Featurettes
-- Deleted Scenes

It's not a massive amount, a few cast commentaries would have been nice. The episode 'Inches' would have made a great episode for cast commentary. But there is at least a few things to keep you entertained if you enjoy extras.

The Details:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78.1 Wide screen
Number of Discs: 4
Rating: 15
Region: 2 (But region 1 is identical to region 2 as far as I can tell)
Runtime: 9 hours 13 mins
Soundtrack: English Surround
Subtitles: English - HOH, Hindi

The Price:
Sendit have the first season available for the rather ridiculous price of £12.89, this works out at 2.3ppm.

The Bottom Line:

The first season of Rescue Me is a superb piece of modern drama mixed with a healthy dose of black comedy and a smidgen of sex appeal (there's plenty for both the men and the ladies to ogle). As such I have no hesitation when it comes to recommending it highly.
Direct Link

Disruptions Ahead

Category: By Rev/Views
I've tried my best to avoid my impending move from being too disruptive here at Rev/Views, but unfortunately it's become somewhat unavoidable. I planned to write about Damages this evening, but putting things into cardboard boxes has taken up so much time and effort this evening that I've almost run out of free time.

As such I'm going to try and keep reviewing here and there over the next two weeks, but I can't guarantee anything resembling a structured schedule at all. I'll try to write about Damages tomorrow and Burn Notice on Sunday, but there's unlikely to be anything here on the Monday as I'm going to be on the road with a transit van moving the first load of my possessions up to my next home.

This has come about because my current agency are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on me to allow them to start showing the place to potential tenants and I can't allow them to do so until I move a lot of confidential work related material to the safe in my new home. Needless to say I'd rather be able to tell them they can start in order to keep them happy, agencies here aren't very kind towards leaving tenants, they seem to feel that being considerate to one is a little too much to ask.

My apologies for the upcoming couple of weeks, I hoped I could work around all of this and keep things correctly timed here on Rev/Views before the switch of internet service disrupted my ability to access blogger and post here.
Direct Link

Top Ten Celebs I'd Like to be Trapped in a Lift with

Category: By Rev/Views
Originally inspired by Stephen Fry's twittering while stuck in a lift/elevator Anna Pickard of The Guardian wrote up her list of the top 10 celebrities she'd like to be trapped in a lift with. Rob at The Medium is not Enough picked this up and wrote his own. Then Dan at DMD followed with this one, as did Rullsenbug over here.

So following in the trend I present my own list on the following topic:

"Which ten TV celebrities (real or fictional) would you like to be stuck in a lift with?"

Presented in reverse order of preference:

10. Bryan Fuller - Creator (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daises)

Bryan comes up with such wonderful and creative shows, there's always something beautiful and original about his shows. If nothing else I'm sure he could keep us all entertained with stories of toasters that come alive and half-zombie bees. But also he's so creative that I wouldn't be surprised if he happened to know a way to make the lift work.

I could also tell him just how saddened I am that all his shows seem to end before their time and beg him to keep away from Heroes.

9. Bruce Campbell - Actor (Burn Notice, Evil Dead)
I've never watched a single show or film where I haven't enjoyed Bruce's performances, in all the interviews he's given I've always been struck by how pleasant, down to earth and genuine he is. Bruce is the number one reason I started watching (and still keep watching) Burn Notice. He's just a great actor so I'd take the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for countless hours of entertainment.

I'm also sure he'd know of a way to get out of a stuck lift.

8. John McClane - Character (Die Hard)

Because the man would know exactly how to get out of a broken lift and get help. He'd also be able to deal with any problems along the way and he could do it all without shoes. For the record I'd prefer the John McClane of the original trilogy over the superhuman Atlas who stalked across Die Hard 4.0. The first one was human and flawed, the latter would probably just get me killed and then avenge my death, which is no help to me at all because I was only stuck in a lift.

7. Lucy Porter - Actress, Comedienne

I think it's no secret that I'm fond of Lucy Porter, I think she's sweet and exceptionally funny. I'm sure she'd be able to keep my spirits up while we waited to be freed from the lift and also she's small. So she wouldn't take up too much space in the lift, which is always a good thing.

Fortunately I think I could also manage to hold a conversation with her as well, I'm sure I wouldn't go all blathery and panic like I would if I was put near Tara Summers (see further down the list).

6. Richard Sommer - Actor (Mad Men)
Having listened to his interview over at GeekSpeak I'm convinced I would be able to pass plenty of time talking with Richard as we have similar interests in common. I could probably pass the entire time without even mentioning Mad Men, despite my grand enjoyment of the show.

5. Tara Summers - Actress (Boston Legal)

I absolutely loved Tara Summers's performance in Boston Legal as Katie Lloyd and I'd relish the chance to chat with her a little about her experience in the show. Especially what it was like working with Schatner, Spader and Christian Clemenson . Of course I also think she's an exceptionally lovely looking woman, so I'd probably just end up standing around looking awkward before rushing out of the lift as soon as it was fixed.

4. Jenna Fisher - Actress (The Office)
Jenna is another actress I'm rather fond of and much like Richard Sommer I know I have a few things in common where interests are involved. Unlike Tara I could probably manage a decent and non-freaky conversation with her while we waited.

Though the conversation might start with...
"IheardonRichSommer'sinterviewthatyouplayboardgames!" *gasp* "Andyou'regreatonTheOfficeand!" *gasp* "nowI'mjustgushingandI'msorryI'llshutupnow!"

So maybe I couldn't manage it, but at least I'd be able to say I got stuck in a lift with her.

3. Clark Johnson - Actor (Homicide: Life on the Street, The Shield, The Wire), Director (The Wire, The Shield)
Not only did Clark Johnson act in three of my favourite shows of all time and was my favourite character on Homicide (Meldrick Lewis), but he also directed the first and last episodes of both The Wire and The Shield. He was present for the beginning and end of two shows that are easily the greatest ever aired on our screens.

But it was his commentary on the opening episode of The Wire which convinced me to put him in the number three position, I rarely like to listen to commentaries from a single person, I prefer the interplay which comes from two or more people watching. I especially prefer to hear from the people who acted the episode, but Clark's commentary was an exception to this. It was always interesting and informative, as such I think Clark would have plenty of interesting things to talk about if he was trapped and he also seems practical enough not to panic.

2. Michael Chiklis - Actor (The Commish and The Shield)
I have always been amazed by the transformation Michael managed to pull off when he went from The Commish to The Shield, he changed from this man:

To this:

Not only was the physical transformation pretty staggering but the persona change was incredible as well. Michael is well known as being a nice, likable and hardworking guy, but his portrayal of Vic Mackey was chilling at times.

Because his performance as Mackey is a big reason why I watch and appreciate TV so much, and because I've heard nothing but good things about him in his personal life I'd happily spend some time trapped in a lift with him. I could talk to him about his time on The Shield and what his plans for the future are.

Also I'm sure if anyone could get the rescue team to hurry up and get us out it would be Michael.

1. David Simon -- Creator/Writer of Generation Kill, The Corner, The Wire and Writer of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets plus Homicide: Life on the Street.

Now I do apologise for having a predictable top three (for me anyway) but David Simon is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, the man can create quality show after quality show and is a fantastic writer to boot. I own everything David has created, both on book and DVD and of course I love every single bit og it. He's someone I'd love to meet and if it meant being stuck in a lift for a few hours, I'd take that.

Then I'd sit back and enjoy the mini-series 'Trapped' based on his experiences in that lift. No idea who'd play me in it though.

I'd also like to give an honourable mention to Stephen Fry, I'd actually love to spend some time with him but I didn't put him on the list because it felt too obvious (even now I wince at that excuse). My apologies to Stephen for this, you're still a national treasure!

As for the number one person I wouldn't want to get stuck in a lift with:

Larry David/George Costanza - I love the man's work (and the fictional version of him on Seinfeld) but I'm sure with his awkward nature he'd make the time in the lift incredibly unpleasant without meaning to. As for his fictional counterpart George, I know he would.
Direct Link

The Beast - 104 - Infected

Category: , , By Rev/Views

This week Barker and Dove end up looking for the people who infected a young boy and are now blackmailing his mother for the cure, demanding millions of dollars in jewels from her place of work. Meanwhile Dove's brother rolls back into town and asks to stay at his place.

Read about jewels, viruses and a show which is failing to reach it's potential behind the link...

While the previous episode 'Nadia' was a solid and well written, Infected was decidedly average and rather pedestrian. It's not that it was bad, there's nothing really shocking in it, but the sum of it's parts just ended up being rather weak. That's a serious problem for an action/thriller which is only into it's fourth episode, things should still be new, exciting and well thrilling. As such this review is going to be one of the shortest ones I've ever written.

It seems things are already very formulaic and the show is struggling, honestly without a huge kick up the can I can't see The Beast making it to a second season. Swayze is pretty much carrying the entire show by himself as Larry Gillard Jr. is woefully underused and Travis just can't act convincingly in any way. With a deeper cast this would work, but The Beast essentially has a three man cast and two of them never interact with each other. So Travis (as the go-between) needs to be able to pull his weight, he can't.

It's very hard for me to write a lot about this particular episode, I realised halfway through I'd actually converted it into moving wallpaper, instead of paying attention and taking notes I was cleaning my living room and organising things ready to move home. That's really not a good indication at all because that's my behaviour when House is on and House is the ultimate time filler show for myself.

Ultimately it feels that the show is doomed to fail, which is a genuine shame because the core concept for the show is fantastic, likewise Swayze's performance is nothing short of phenomenal, his best performance since well... ever. But I have to be realistic, one man does not make a television show alone.

So ultimately Infected really doesn't have a lot going for it, I'm going to keep watching the show and writing about it, but the next episode needs to be a lot more gripping and deep than this one was.

Direct Link

Burn Notice - 212 - Seek and Destroy

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

In Seek and Destroy Michael is hired by Scott Chandler (played by Joel Gretsch who was in my favourite superhero show The 4400) to investigate some potential security breaches in his art gallery. But while investigating what should be a simple case Michael discovers a deeper truth after an encounter with an employee. At the same time Michael's investigation into the man who attempted to kill him with explosives requires the aid of a familiar face, the arms dealer Seymour ( Silas Weir Mitchell)...

Read about more great guest stars, how much I miss The 4400 and a magnetic backpack beyond the link...

Seek and Destroy is an episode that's very much in the vein of Burn Notice's first season, a season which I only started watching because it filled time between The 4400 and Dead Zone. The summer season of TV is always weak, not surprising really because we'd all rather be out in the sunshine or in cinemas watching the big summer blockbusters. This is why I tolerated and enjoyed the first season of Burn Notice, yes it couldn't ever stand up to the fall or winter shows, but it didn't have to because it was out here enjoying a bracket which had shows like Psych and Monk around. All genuine light entertainment.

But we're here in the winter period now and there are ruddy great big behemoths of shows stalking about the landscape; Lost, Damages, 24 and Battlestar Galactica for example. So Burn Notice can't just float back to what it was when it first came out. Unfortunately that's almost exactly what it did for it's main story here, the plot was rather pedestrian and it felt like old ground.

But the episode still managed to remain enjoyable for the entire time, I was thrilled to see Joel Gretsch again his appearance has made me completely nostalgic for the unrecognised brilliance of The 4400, so much so that I keep mentioning it in this review almost unconsciously -- forty four hundred, forty four hundred, forty four hundred -- He gives a good performance as Scott Chandler and manages to keep most of the "A" story ticking over by his presence. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Marla Sokoloff, but this isn't really her fault as she wasn't given much to do beyond simple plot exposition.

On the other hand the ongoing B-Plot, currently known as "Operation find the man who attempted to blow up Michael (played by Chris Marazzo) in order to find out who hired him and side with them against Carla" (needs a snappier operation name) was light in content but pretty good, and big part of that was thanks to Seymour's return, Silas Weir Mitchell always gives a good performance in any show he's in and this was no exception. I do enjoy it when the show returns to it's existing backlog of characters in order to develop the plot instead of just introducing new characters, Seymour was highly entertaining in his last appearance and remains great throughout this (even if he is not-so-subtly pushing Burn Notice Covert Ops in the process.)

I obviously spoke to soon when I said last week that Fi and Michael were back together, oh no it remains all complicated and filled with weird energy. Hum, not sure how I feel about that one, either put them together or get rid of Fi and replace her with some other chick please.

Overall it was a decent enough episode, but pretty much an 'instant forget' filler episode apart from the performances from the guest stars. Not enough Sam Axe, a little too much Fi and a storyline that felt like it was lifted almost directly from the first season means this one isn't one I'll be revisiting in a hurry any time soon.

Other Thoughts:
• I did enjoy all the lines Michael uttered to Chandler which were loaded with double meaning, talking directly about himself as the spy without giving it away.

• I also enjoyed Sam Axe's constant ribbing and groaning about the Fi/Michael situation, he was echoing my thoughts quite well throughout.

• Both Silas and Joel need to be back on the air more often, how about a show with Joel as the lead and Silas as his sidekick?

• Michael puts his bag on top of the computer, computer goes putt! How does the security guard not get even the least bit suspicious? Ah I'll forgive it, because it's Burn Notice.

Direct Link

Dead Like Me: Life After Death

Category: , By Rev/Views

Ellen Muth as George Lass
Callum Blue as Mason
Sarah Wynter as Daisy Adair
Jasmine Guy as Roxy
Britt McKillip as Reggie Lass
Christine Willes as Delores Herbig
Cynthia Stevenson as Joy Lass
Henry Ian Cusick as Kane
with Crystal Dahl as Crystal

Dead Like Me was a short lived comedy/drama from Bryan Fuller which centered around Georgina "George" Lass, an eighteen year old girl who achieved exactly nothing before being killed by a toilet seat from outer space. It ran on Showtime between 2003 and 2004 and was one of their best programs in that period. Dead Like Me was a bitter-sweet story that asked 'what if there was life after death and what if it was just more life, with a job?'

George is met by Rube (Mandy Patinkin) and told that she will be working as a Grim Reaper, collecting souls of the living just before their death due to 'external influences' (Murder, accidents, the like). The series was very much a coming of age story, with George learning to grow up and take responsibility for her actions only after her demise. It also told the parallel (and almost unlinked) story about George's family dealing (or not as the case was) with the loss of George.

Frankly it was a completely brilliant series which mixed funny and light alongside sadness and death with great ease. It's influence can easily be seen in (the now also sadly ended) Pushing Daises, as the two shows have many parallels and if you enjoyed watching Pushing Daises I can't recommend Dead Like Me enough.

Life After Death is set in 2008, five years after the end of the series and it returns us to George's world. Letting us once again see where she is and how things have developed.

Beyond the link I'll talk about the film, cut for spoilers...

I have to deal with the single biggest issue in the film before moving on, the TV series was hugely anchored and influenced by the brilliance of Mandy Patinkin's performance as Rube, he effortlessly controlled the scenes he was in, providing a mix of serious and comedy which grounded the entire series. Unfortunately Mandy did not reprise his role for this film, apparently Rube left having 'got his lights' and there's a gaping hole where he used to be. Kane does not function to fill this hole at all and as such I found myself wishing and hoping for Rube to make an appearance. Sadly he does not and the film suffers as a consequence.

The other major issue with Life After Death is the recasting of Daisy Adair, who was initially played brilliantly by Laura Harris, I don't quite understand the decision making behind this recasting. Rube is written out because Mandy isn't available but Sarah Wynter is cast as Daisy because Laura also isn't available? Maybe there was some feeling that writing out two characters would be too much for the show. But if that was the case they might have been better off postponing the project until Laura could clear a space in her schedule. Sarah is reasonable as Daisy, but she doesn't have the same presence or 'peppiness' that Laura brought to the role. I found the recasting to be rather strange, especially when you realise that Daisy has never been a major character in the show.

Now, onto the film itself. Much like the TV series the film deals with two separate and loosely interlinked stories. The first is the arrival of Kane, this new reaper who influences everyone apart from George into a life of debauchery and slacking off of duties. Honestly this story thread isn't that strong, there's no real urgency to it all. Everyone falls for Kane's life very quickly, while Daisy and Mason are quite weak personalities and as such believable it was the rapid seduction of Roxy that felt strange and condensed. There's no real explanation why Kane wanted them all to slack off, his explanation at the end is rather weak. It seems like he did it because he wanted to be evil, or something. Irregardless of his reasons I was pleased to see him shipped off into space at the end of the film just because he was rather rubbish.

But luckily for us there's a much, much stronger story revolving around George, or more accurately around Reggie who finally meets Milly (George's new persona) and discovers that Milly is George. Most of this story lets us see more of Reggie and where she's grown to. Back in the TV series she was a strange little girl who turned dead birds into planes and hung toilet seats from trees, all forms of grieving over George's death. She's grown up into a rather insecure, lonely young woman and her life is turned upside down when the lad she was having a secret affair with, one Hudson Hart, is hit and ends up in a coma (instead of being reaped by George, Kane apparently messed up her times -- but it's possible that this was outside influence).

As Reggie discovers about Milly/George and the two of them spend time together we get to see the real heart of the film. George helps Reggie to stand up and go to Hudson before he passes (reaped by George) and then the pair of them talk, George helping Reggie to finally move on and start living.

Finally the film ends with George being showered in post-it notes, suggesting that the "upper management" have put her in charge of 'The Club' now. This is where I hoped Rube would stroll back in, but no such luck.

Overall Life After Death is an enjoyable piece, it suffers somewhat in several aspects. The lack of Mandy and Laura are huge problems and the Kane storyline seems to be very weak. It's possible it was written to make up for Mandy not returning instead of a different and that's why it feels so inconsequential. But the emotion and feeling in many scenes, especially the ones revolving around Reggie and George, is strong and touching.

I'd happily watch more Dead Like Me if this film managed to get the series returned to our screens. I'd watch it in a heartbeat. As for Life After Death, it's a great film which can move you, but it's held back by several shortcomings and enormously misses Mandy Patinkin.

Direct Link

DVDs in Review #55: Lead Balloon: Series One

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

Jack Dee as Rick Spleen
Raquel Cassidy as Mel
Anna Crilly as Magda
Sean Poweras Marty
Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Sam
Rasmus Hardiker as Ben
and Tony Gardner as Michael

The Show:

Lead Balloon first arrived on the screens of BBC 4 in October 2006 and is written by Jack Dee and Pete Sinclair. The show centers around the life, trials and experiences of Rick Spleen; a morose, grumpy and self-defeating mid-level comedian. Jack himself cited quite a few shows which influenced the tone of the show, most notable of these are Seinfeld and it's "offspring" Curb Your Enthisiasm. The influence of Curb in particular is evident throughout the series, Rick Spleen is very much a tamer version of Larry David.

The show is very well put together, with some excellent performances from the cast; Jack is good - which isn't surprising as he's hardly out of his comfort zone, essentially playing his stand up act as a character. But it's Tony Gardener as the slightly "odd" Michael and Anna Crilly as the brash and often hilarious Magda who often have the best lines and moments.

During this first series you'll see Rick get insecure about his weight, lie about having cancer, steal spoons and worry about accidentally killing another comedy performer by coffee poison. Each episode unfolds in a fun and well timed manner which sets up Rick and the comedy nicely. I will say that often it seems Rick is more a victim of circumstance rather than his own foibles, Rick Spleen seems to be his own second worst enemy, the universe and chance seem to be his greatest. Larry David in comparison is 100% his own worst enemy, no doubt at all.

If I was going to liken the experience of watching sitcoms to eating chocolate then at the top you'd have Arrested Development with a top of the range Fritz Knipschildt experience, and only a little further down you'd have Curb Your Enthusiasm with a rich, exsqusit Richart taste. Lead Balloon on the other hand is more like eating a Nestle Milkybar, it's still a highly enjoyable experience but it's not something you'd rave about for weeks. It's a great experience while you're there, but you tend to forget about it afterwards.

At least until you see another Milkybar.

The Other Stuff:

The Packaging:
As always the BBC stick with the same high standard they always provide. Lead Balloon is contained in a standard DVD case with a single middle page for the first DVD. To be honest this middle page is a little unneeded now we have double DVD cases, but the inside cover is used for a BBC Comedy advertising leaflet instead of DVD 1. Apparently I should rush out and purchase Ruddy Hell! It's Harry & Paul (no thanks!), Lead Balloon: Series 1 (umm...), Saxondale: Series 1 (never heard of it) and Gavin & Stacey: Series 1 (good advice that last one, if you don't have it. Get it).

The Menus and Start up:
Start up on BBC DVDs is always a quick and easy experience, too many companies forget that we've purchased these DVDs with our own money and as such we don't need to be advertised at while waiting for the main menu to open up. These days I actually go make a cup of tea everytime I put a DVD in, I don't want to waste time watching the various company logos, FACT/Copyright warnings and sometimes (annoyingly) adverts for other shows.

Seriously, the average human has about twenty seven thousand days in their full lifespan (if they're lucky) and many of us have less than that. Why do companies feel the need to waste our time? They're my precious minutes you're stealing away with your unskippable logos, copyright screens and adverts. I've already paid for this with my money (which costs my time to make). Time = Money. So stop your passive time murdering!

Sorry to go off on a rant here, I just felt I needed to take a stand (and I apologise for wasting your time too!) I'll get back to Lead Balloon now...

The start up is clean and fast, the menus themselves are nicely designed and keep with the theme of the title credits from the show. I don't really have any complaints at all about the product here at all.

The Extras:
There are a few extras on the set, they're mostly located on the second disc. Which is entirely extras, so if you're not interested in watching them you can use that disc for anything you like. A coaster is always a favourite, but I do enjoy indoor DVD Frisbee at times. It can be a little scary to have a DVD flying at you, but the art of wall ricochets is a great skill to develop.

The extras are as follows:
• Behind the scenes Featurette
• 5 Deleted Scenes
• Audio Commentary from Jack Dee, Pete Sinclair and Alex Hardcastle on two episodes
• Out-takes
• Bloopers

While I remember, I'm not condoning you using this DVD for throwing recreation, it's both dangerous and disrespectful. I suggest throwing The Newly Weds or 24's sixth season instead. (And I claim no responsibility for any injuries received during this highly dangerous indoor sport).

The Details:
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Region: 2 + 4 Colour PAL UK
Runtime: 173 mins
Soundtrack: English, Stereo
Subtitles: English HOH

The Price:
Lead Balloon can be had from for the very reasonable price of £6.99, this is a pretty average 4ppm (for a British sitcom anyway). Nothing to shout home about, but nothing to complain about either.

The Bottom Line:

It's absolutely impossible to talk about Lead Balloon without also talking about Curb Your Enthusiasm and in some ways this is a bit of a shame. Lead Balloon is an accomplished and enjoyable Brit-com with solid performances, fun moments and clever scripts. But for those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing Larry David in full improvisational swing on 'Curb' it's very difficult to watch Lead Balloon without making unfavorable comparisons.

The first series of Lead Balloon is a great show in it's own right, it's just in the shadow of a true comedy giant and that detracts from it a little.
Direct Link

The Week That Was - 08/02/09

Category: By Rev/Views
You may have noticed things are a little off schedule recently. This is due to a shift in work patterns combined with my impending move (from a flat into a house). As such I'm all over the place trying to fit everything in, it's pretty draining. As a consequence I decided to move TW² to Sunday this week, it might remain here for the duration, it might not. We'll see.

As for the world of Television, as I was getting a little out of sync with things I've decided to look at only the episodes which aired this week, not the ones I watched while playing catch up.

Battlestar Galactica:
I'll start the list with an exception (because I like being inconsistent and contradictory), as I am still deliberately staying a week behind where BSG is concerned. I caught up with the second and third episodes of the final season of BSG (412 and 413 if you like), I was a little concerned I'd find 412 rather boring, but as it turns out I actually quite enjoyed it. Not brilliant, but it did have some good moments which meant I was very keen to immediately watch 413 right afterwards. Naturally 413 was some seriously good s**t, it built up brilliantly, bringing many of the main characters back together and also containing a lot of exciting and jaw dropping moments. I hoped BSG would take a dark turn this season, it seems it has.

For the record I've never liked Gaeta (I laughed a lot when he was shot in the leg and more when he lost it), but those two episodes have at least made him an interesting character. I shall be watching 414 this evening as a consequence.

How I Met Your Mother:
Another fun episode this week, I'm always impressed and entertained by HIMYM, especially the rather brilliant (which has the brilliant option to watch the video in "awesome" resolution). But in addition to the funny moments (some of which took advantage of Alyson's pregnancy without making her pregnant) the episode actually had Barney going beyond the norm for Robin, pulling out all the stops to make sure she'd stay in New York. I do like this 'secretly in love' storyline, it's certainly keeping things interesting because the Ted stories are not really doing much right now.

House M.D.:
I don't know why I sometimes get irritated by House M.D.'s completely formulaic approach with no real evolution at all. I guess right now it's because of the fourth season, which felt like it had a real ongoing plot, drive and interesting things happening. It also didn't help that the fourth season ended with the best two parter the show has ever had (and quite possibly the best episodes ever to boot). There isn't really much to write about when it comes to House. Most of the time nothing really happens, this was one of those episodes.

My favourite episode of the season so far, I had nothing but good things to write about it here.

Another two episodes this week, and as such [scrubs] is going to be all over so fast I'm already beginning to feel 'ending blues' (but not as badly as I did last year). The first of the two episodes dealt mostly with Dr Cox getting to grips with his new position as the Chief of Medicine and had an excellent musical synchronicity moment to open with, it reminded me of the opener from the second ever episode of [scrubs] and put me in a good mood for watching both of these.

In a nostalgic moment, here is that opener in full.

The second episode mostly revolved around Ted and his attempts to win the affection of a ukulele playing woman. I've always liked the episodes which revolve around Ted (or include him to a reasonable level) as they don't happen too often. This episode once again featured The Blanks singing a few songs, I enjoyed their renditions of "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Carry on my Wayward Son".

Mostly I'm very happy with the direction [scrubs] has returned to, they've managed to move things forward while also keeping it funny and essentially the same. The characters have grown but the comedy has gone back to the level it was in the first couple of seasons.

Oh and annoying intern was fired. Yay! But Turk was no-where to be seen, boo!

The Office (Superbowl episode) + Normal one:
Of the two episodes I actually preferred this weeks over the Superbowl special, the special had the staff all roasting Michael at his request after he discovered he stressed them out, it had a few funny moments and ended very well. But overall it wasn't the best episode of the season so far, it had me wondering why it was even a special at all to be honest. I did once again enjoy the Pam and Jim storyline, I honestly can't get tired of those two at all (as long as they keep winding up Dwight or Andy in the process). Stanley continues to rock the screen hard as well.

The episode this week (Lecture Circuit: Part 1) was better, but hard to assess fully because it's only one part of a two part story. It did how ever include a return to seeing Karen (now pregnant and happily married) and that was a nice moment. It also managed to be pretty funny, I have no idea what makes Michael think a chainsaw is a good idea in a lecture on business, but it was hilarious. The episode ended with Michael deciding to go see Holly (Amy Ryan) which if it does happen will be fantastic, I've read that Amy is returning later this season -- maybe now, maybe later -- and that's just awesome because I was really sad to see her leave in the first place.

30 Rock:
Jon Hamm was guest starring on 30 Rock this week (Generalissimo) and while his presence wasn't amazing it was exactly what it needed to be. He's a new love interest for Liz Lemon, she meets him after his mail gets accidentally delivered to her. Meanwhile Jack is having problems with his love life as Elisa's grandmother does not like him, this is caused by his striking resemblance to the titular Generalissimo, an evil soap opera villain (also played by Alec Baldwin) who goes on to inspire Liz to try some "evil" schemes to win the heart of Dr. Drew (Hamm).

This episode was a great example of 30 Rock on form, the only major complaint I could have is the lack of Scott Adsit's character Pete. While he's normally a supporting character he is also a title credit actor, but he's been really missing from the latest 30 Rock. Which is a shame because my favourite episode of 30 Rock so far revolved around Pete (getting a wig if you're curious).

Supernatural seems to have dialed the tension and excitment right down to the 'filler' setting, last weeks offering was rather unremarkable, with a story that was based around a school Sam and Dean went to briefly (only remarkable because of the great performances from the child actors playing young Sam and Dean). This week was also very filler, pretty much the definition of filler really, the Winchesters are looking into a series of murders being commited by devoted husbands, slaying their wives despite a happy marriage. As they dig deeper they discover a supernatural cause at the root. The best part of the episode were Bobby's scenes.

Really, while the episode was enjoyable and decent, I'm left waiting for things to build up again. I want to see where this "seals, end of the world" story arc is heading, I want things to be important and begin to matter. But three stand alone filler episodes on the trot is a little much.

Other News:
I finally managed to pick up 'Father Ted: The Complete Collection' after constantly missing the chance to get it from my local stores. Additionally I've been watching my way through Arrested Development again, it's the fourth or fifth viewing I'm on now, I'm still only just spotting jokes and foreshadowing moments built into the episodes. Brilliant Show. I also picked up the first season of Lead Balloon and watched that in preparation for a DVD review of it.
Direct Link

Live Blogging over at Dan's Media Digest

Category: , By Rev/Views
Just a short news bite to promote Dan's upcoming live blogging of the BAFTAs. I'm not sure entirely how it'll turn out but I'll certainly be having a looksie around to see how this works out for him. It'll be located at Dan's Media Digest and his post about it is here.

Frankly I think this is a brilliant idea and should be supported, so if you're interested about the BAFTAs or just want to see some brilliant writing happening right there, live! Then have your computer or laptop up and on his site while you're watching it! I'm going to try and figure something out to see if I can (I might just have to trek back and forth between the office and the living room though).

Now if we could convince him to do it drunk then we'd have another Eurovision hit on our hands!

Edit: I now realise that the last sentence I used makes it sound like Dan will be singing if he drinks, I can't make that claim as I wouldn't know. I meant that it would be as enjoyable as watching the Eurovision song contest as presented by Terry Wogan, who gets increasingly more plastered as the show progresses.
Direct Link

Damages - 205 - "I Agree, It Wasn't Funny"

Category: , , By Rev/Views

I've been almost unintentionally ragging on Damages for the past four reviews despite trying not to, but honestly this has been because the show hasn't delivered an episode which didn't contain some cheap writing trick or the like which detracted from the brilliant performances of the cast. With the latest episode I'm very happy to say was really good. I have virtually no complaints what so ever about it.

Read about burgers, Clarke Peters and guns, lots of guns beyond the link...

So the short and important things to note in this episode are easily summarised into a single paragraph. Ellen returns to Patty's apartment - cue flashbacks of her attack, we learn that Wes is working for Frobisher (called it!), Clarke Peters arrives on the scene and gets to work with John Doman (Kendrick) again, Phil - Patty's husband - is having an affair, Ellen is almost outed as working with the FBI to Patty but manages to avoid this, Wes on the other hand realises that she is meeting with the Feds and we're still not sure if Purcell killed his wife or not - but signs point to yes right now.

That's the important plot related stuff out of the way, now I can gush about various things I liked about this episode and the things I felt made it work, especially when compared to the previous episodes which tried too hard. For a start the twists which were included in this episode weren't overplayed like last week, I'd already figured Wes was working for someone to keep an eye on Ellen and I wasn't surprised to discover it was Frobisher. I'd already begun to link those two in my mind anyway, it just felt like a better fit than Wes working for Patty. So that wasn't really a shock.

It was also great to see Detective Rick Messer/Bearded Man (David Costabile another Wire alumni) back into the thread as he's the one directly responsible for the murder of David. With him back in we have another potential target for Ellen's shooting at the end of the season. Possibly the most likely target considering Wes's
position of influence on her. -- Speaking of which, this week's reveal on Wes means that Frobisher likely knows Ellen went to his hospital room but didn't kill him. -- In fact, right now I'm going on record saying that if Ellen is shooting someone in the present day timeline (and it's not misdirection) then it'll be Messer being shot.

Tate Donovan remains my favourite throughout this with his wonderful performance as Tom, he's not given as much to do this week but it's OK, that's part of his brilliance. When needed he's able to take front and center, but the rest of the time he's more than capable of being an unassuming support character.

The other thing I'm beginning to enjoy is the interaction between Patty and Ellen, as shown in the very first scene. Ellen's conversation with Patty is almost always loaded, she's clearly simmering about the attempt on her life, it says a lot about Ellen that she seems more driven over Patty trying to kill her than Frobisher actually having David killed.

Clarke Peters, ah... Clarke. What a star. I was thrilled when I heard he'd be on the show and I had great expectations. He's only present in three scenes this episode but he's every bit as good as I'd hoped. The scene where he walks into the bathroom after Kendrick has laid into the man who was roasting him was just perfectly delivered and hilarious. Also it appears he's on Patty's side, or at least friends with Phil - which means he could be coming back time and time again. That's a good thing indeed.

Really all I can say about this episode is it was exactly what I wanted to see when I started watching this season of Damages. There have been a few rough episodes leading up to this one, but if the show continues with the same form as "I Agree, It Wasn't Funny" then I will forgive the earlier missteps and embrace the season with gusto.

Direct Link

Burn Notice - 211 - Hot Spot

Category: , By Rev/Views

The latest episode of Burn Notice not only has Kirk 'Sticky Fingaz' Jones (The Shield, Blade) in a guest starring role but it also features none other than The Wire's own Wallace (Michael B. Jordan) as well. During the episode Michael is distracted from his task of finding out who attempted to kill him by Sam's request to perform a small favour for a friend of his (in exchange for football tickets). This "small" favour turns out to involve protecting a young football player named Cole (Michael B. Jordan) from a car jacker and general gangster named Felix Cole (Sticky Fingaz). During the process of the investigation Fi continues help out while looking into the man who planted the explosives in Michael's flat.

Read about another great show cribbing actors from The Wire, fire and why a golf club is better than a baseball bat beyond the link...

I'm rather thrilled to be able to call Burn Notice as my guilty pleasure show, for a program which is so obviously 'light entertainment' it really does deliver well in every aspect (almost, Gabrielle's accent is still ass, but I forgive her cause she's so much fun). The pacing is point perfect, the plots are light but do contain a certain mix of depth and the performances from both the regular and guest casts have just gotten better and better.

'Hot Spot' was one of the best examples of Burn Notice on "full burn" I've seen in a while, even when compared to the summer's best episodes it stood out. Sticky and Jordan were a big part of this, while their parts weren't massive (Jordan in particular just spent his time eating food and being sympathetic) they were exactly where they needed to be. Sticky was a lot of fun and while the character he played wasn't really outside of his comfort zone -- acting like a gangster isn't exactly hard work for him -- there is a lot to be said for casting the right guest star in a role.

Tricia continues to be very good as Carla, the scenes between her and Michael always work well, with both of their characters constantly attempting to have the upper hand in the conversations while sizing each other up. Both Jeffery and Tricia manage to make their characters believable as spies. I also enjoyed Michael's general quips about the use of a bag blindfold and his total disdain for their methods of talking to him. He's constantly shifting the situation to see what works and what doesn't. It's pretty fun to watch.

I have to once again give props to Bruce Campbell, who's always amazing as Sam Axe. The man knows exactly how to deliver his lines and while you could point the finger and just say "Bruce is being Bruce here" and be right, it just doesn't matter because he's a perfect fit as cocky, confident and good at his job. I also have to note the final few moments of the episode, I'm glad that the writers have decided to move back towards Fi and Michael being together, even if only for a while. It's been fun watching the two of them shoot glances at each other and Michael's obvious dislike for Campbell (the character dating Fi, not Bruce) was pretty hilarious, but I do appreciate a show which moves things on and tries to mix things up. As such I'm happy to see Fi and Michael give it another go, I predict it'll work for a while but they'll eventually break up again.

The entire sequence leading up to the kiss was great as well, as I said during the half season "finale" it's hard to take a threat on Michael's life seriously because the show cannot function without him, but a threat on Fi or Sam is a different matter, while they bring a lot to the show, it is possible (but unwise) to go on without them. So Michael's worried calls and panicking about Fi was both great from a characterisation standpoint

In all Hot Spot was a fantastic episode to watch, it's great to see that the break hasn't dampened the show's ability to entertain and amuse. I'm happy to give this one three thumbs up and call it "The best light entertainment action show since The A-Team".

Direct Link