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Live-Bloglet: Fringe 1.16 Unleashed April 15, 2009

Posted by Amy Yen in Fringe, TV.
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I haven’t gotten a chance to write about it much, but I am a huge fan of JJ Abrams’ newest series, Fringe (Tuesdays at 9pm ET on FOX). It’s looking good to pick up a second season, so I thought I’d try out doing a little live-bloglet of my thoughts during tonight’s Charlie Francis-heavy episode, Unleashed.

1.    “Monsters aren’t real, right?” Whatever, kid. Probably you’re already been all brain-scrambled by that computer program in The No-Brainer.

2.    The animal-activists-for-dinner cold open? I give it a solid 7.5 on the gross scale. It’s not jaw-falling-off-of-the-guy-in-the-pilot, but dude, sucks for that lab owner.

3.    Ear in the omelet! HA! And ick!

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Live-Blogging Lost 5.12 Dead is Dead April 9, 2009

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8:59 – Previously on Lost, in 1977, Sayid went & shot some poor kid, who happens to be destined to grow up to be a sociopathic murderer. Kate, Juliet & Sawyer pass him off to Richard Alpert & the Others, who say that Ben won’t remember this. In season 4, Ben’s daughter Alex was killed. And, in 2008, Sun conked Present Ben on the head before heading off to the main Island with Frank. And Ben wakes up to a very much alive Locke. He kind of looks like he wants to throw up.

9:00 – Some dude arrives at a campsite. Richard is there. It’s Othersville, circa 1977. The dude is extremely pissed about Richard bringing lil’ hurt Ben to the camp. Richard said Jacob wanted it & the dude simmers down. He goes into the camp & looks at poor, unconscious lil’ Ben. Ben wakes up & asks what happened. He tells the guy that he doesn’t want to go back to his dad & Dharma-ville. The guy says that just because they send him back, doesn’t mean he can’t be one of “them.” The man tells him his name is Charles. Widmore!

9:03 – In 2008, Locke wakes an injured Ben up. Ben is stunned to see Locke all reincarnated. He tells Locke he was going back to the main Island to answer for what he did, for breaking the rules. He was going to be judged. By…the Monster! Exxxxcellent, thinks Locke.

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NBC’s Southland is Another Crime Procedural, With Potential April 5, 2009

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southland_benmckenzieWhen first we saw Ben McKenzie, he was playing the fish-out-of-water with particular abomb in the sun & sparkle of shiny Newport Beach. In this week’s premiere of NBC’s Southland, he’s in one of crime procedural’s great archetypal roles, the rookie beat cop, in over his head. Except, as we find out later in this surprisingly solid late-season pilot, there’s a twist—pretty boy Ben Sherman has what is probably the best possible, & worst possible, first day a rookie cop nobody takes seriously can have. In that same way, Southland has been promoted as a typical crime procedural, of no particular note except its producer, John Wells, & its wishful thinking timeslot, Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC, home for the last 15 years to Wells’ previous series, the epic powerhouse known as E.R. If the pilot is any indication, however, it might, despite its familiar feel, be noteworthy nonetheless.

Southland has the benefit of a familiar cast, who are impressively engaging in the pilot episode. Ben’s partner, Cooper, solidly casted veteran Hey! It’s That Guy resident cop Michael Cudlitz, is jaded, rough around the edges, loud & a combination of impatient & bemused by Ben’s naivete. Although Cudlitz has seemingly been playing cops for what seems like decades now, this role is great for him, & he swaggers as he drags poor Ben around the city. Detective Bryant is likable as he works the gang squad, while Detective Adams is smartly played by Regina King, who is an actress I have a pre-set dislike for, because of dual roles in horrtomes1ible sequels Miss Congeniality 2 & Legally Blonde 2. Hopefully we’ll see more of Detective Clarke, Adams’ partner, played by the severely underrated Tom Everett Scott, of That Thing You Do fame & more recently, star of TNT’s short-lived but excellent Saved.

What Southland’s swift one-hour pilot does well is not wait around for the viewer to get acclimated. There’s nothing comfortable about jumping directly into a child abduction or senseless gang shooting in the streets of Los Angeles (particularly for me, a new LA resident). Southland has the excellent attribute of feeling more like a documentary than a drama; minus a few unneeded interludes with a detective’s angry wife & another’s mother, the hour is spent on the streets, not fixated on the personal lives of the cast. And if Wells & co. are smart, they would keep it that way…it’s a much greater challenge to show how these characters are effected if you don’t follow them home, but I think the subtle approach is much more interesting.

Southland shouldn’t dwell on the characters’ lives too much anyway, since it’s already said what it’s supposed to be about: the job. “You’re a cop because you don’t know how not to be a cop,” says Cooper. Ben Sherman didn’t know it then, but he’s already there.

Southland premieres this Thursday, April 7 at 10pm EST on NBC. Or check out the entire first episode early HERE.

Live-Blogging Lost 5.11 Whatever Happened, Happened April 2, 2009

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8:57 – PS: Um, Better Off Ted? Pretty good. I watched about 10 minutes, laughed more than once! Of course the ratings suck & it’s dead in like a month, but still. I’m encouraged.

8:59 – Previously on Lost, Sawyer met Cassidy. Cassidy had a baby, Clementine, who she said was Sawyer’s. Kate & Jack broke up over Sawyer’s favor, probably involving Cassidy/Clementine, who also might have something to do with Dan Norton & the attempts to take Aaron away from Kate when they were off-Island. The O4 returned to the Island, circa 1977 while Sun, Frank & Present Ben crashed with the plane in 2008. Sawyer & Juliet covered up Kate, Jack & Hurley’s return by sneaking them into the Dharma Initiative, where Kate is working with Juliet at the motor pool, Hurley is a chef & Jack, hilariously, is the janitor. Also? Sayid got captured, then freed by pre-psychotic lil’ Ben. Despite the fact that if you turn your head to the side, lil’ Ben totally looks like Harry Potter, Sayid goes ahead & shoots him in the chest anyway, before he can grow up & become all murderous & creepy.

9:00 – We open on an unconscious Jin, who wakes up to Phil yelling at him over the radio. Jin tells him Sayid attacked him, but then sees a severely injured lil’ Ben on the ground next to him. I do still wonder how Sawyer & Juliet & Jin got to the point where they could just let lil’ Ben wander around Dharma-ville, like they don’t know he’s going to grow up to be a mass murderer.

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Live-Blogging Lost 5.10 He’s Our You March 26, 2009

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8:59 – Previously on Lost, Sayid left the Island & became an assassin for Ben. Then the O6 became the O5, got on a plane & became the O3, but really the O4, with Jack, Hurley & Kate in the 1970s playing Dharma recruits courtesy of the Juliet/Sawyer long con special, Sayid a captive & in contact with young, creepy Ben Linus, & Sun stuck, with old, creepy Ben Linus, in the present. Although, to be fair, she also has Frank Lapidus, whose sheer awesomeness makes the entire situation not so bad for her, IMHO.

9:00 – We open in Iraq. Flashback, I’m assuming. Some dude grabs a kid & drags him outside. He says that he’s not a kid anymore & he has to kill a chicken like everyone else in the family. He can’t come back home until he does. The father stalks away & another boy comes up & shows the first boy a hand full of seed. He tricks the chickens into coming over to feed & then proceeds to snap the chicken’s neck. He tries to get the first kid to take the credit, but the first kid isn’t the sharpest animal killer on the farm so he doesn’t. So the father comes over & congratulates the kid who did the trickin’ n’ killin’. It’s Sayid, of course, he’s always been this gifted at death.

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Live-Blogging Lost 5.9 Namaste March 19, 2009

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8:59 – Previously on Lost, there was a hiatus & I was so confused as to what to obsess over my entire life. Also, the Left-Behinders got stuck in the 70s & actually do a great job getting Dharmalized. Sawyer, for example, hooks an awesome job as head of security, gets to wear a snazzy jumpsuit AND is apparently in LOVE(!) with Juliet! But then, as always with this show, Kate has to fall out of the sky & ruin everything. Lame.

9:00 – We open on a plane. It’s Ajira flight 316. The O5 are sitting around moping. In the cockpit, Frank Lapidus endures his co-pilot talking about Hurley being an O6 member. Just as Frank is dismissing Hurley’s bravery, the turbulence starts. Frank still looks super weird without his Kenny Rogers beard. In the back, Hurley tells Caesar to fasten his seatbelt. Frank’s like, aw crap. The plane shakes & the screen goes white.

9:02 – Still in the cockpit, Frank & the other pilot are still there. The flash is over & the plane is failing. Frank somehow saves the plane from crashing right away onto the Island & then they see a runway. Is it the one the Others were building in season 3 perhaps? (more…)

NBC’s Kings Series Premiere: Conclusion: Ian McShane Rules March 16, 2009

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kings-egan-mcshane-promoI thought it was kind of an odd decision at first, but I guess it makes sense that NBC gave Kings a two-hour premiere…it feels almost like an apology for stranding its start date into mid-March & then sticking it in a tough Sunday night timeslot. Kings feels more like a miniseries and less like a TV show, and I’d honestly be surprised if it outlasts the time limit of one. It feels way too complex to be a hit, & it also has to hurdle the two obstacles its network put in its way. Which is too bad, because I very much enjoyed the pilot.

Visually intriguing & chock full of scenery-chewing rhetoric, the thing I liked most about this pilot was its ability to not only introduce this sizable cast of characters, give them backstories & personalities & establish how they matter to each other, but also demonstrate in each a dichotomy & depth that you rarely get in pilots, because they’re too busy trying to introduce the entire premise of the show in way too short of a time. Of course, they did have two hours & the advantage of having a built-in premise in the biblical story of David. Still, I found it impressive that every main character, save maybe Michelle, felt multidimensional by the end of the episode.

I particularly liked that the King—with all his actions going against him—was actually a rather sympathetic character. Here he is, dismissing his own son for being gay, cheating on his wife & having a child with another woman, marrying his wife just to get to her brother’s money, allowing his brother-in-law to essentially blackmail him into putting his country at war for another year so his company can get its money’s worth, totally dissing that guy from Oz who was playing the reverend, ordering someone’s death at a dinner party, etc, & yet, I didn’t hate kings2him. (Or maybe it’s just the awesomeness that is Ian McShane.) And despite the late scene in the car with the King’s brother-in-law, plotting his father’s destruction, Jack Benjamin isn’t, at his core, a bad person or even really a bad prince. (His & David’s relationship will clearly be one of the show’s most interesting dynamics, since Jack clearly resents how Silas puts David into power, but at the same time, he doesn’t seem to ignore the fact that David has done everything he can to defend Jack.) Even David himself is clearly not a flawless hero.

This episode also works hard to set up this world, this alternate reality where things seems much more familiar than they probably should (and Kings revels in flaunting the parallels). It’s escapism at its best & it turns out maybe Sunday night is the perfect place for it after all, one last stop in fantasyland before Monday arrives & it’s back to reality.

Kings is not perfect—while it happens to fit the royal feel of the show, it really must cool it on the soapy melodrama—but Ian McShane’s at his scene-commanding best & I found the whole thing surprisingly entertaining. The Mentalist will be this year’s most successful new show & Fringe will be the best quality one, but judging by this episode, Kings is one worth another look.

Update: If you missed the premiere, check it out HERE.

Update, Monday, 10am: Wow. I thought the ratings would be bad, but not this bad. With the positive critical buzz & reasonable promotion by NBC leading up to the premiere, I definitely thought it could pull better than 6 million total viewers with just a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo. NBC just can’t catch a break this year.

Live-Blogging Lost 5.8 LaFleur March 5, 2009

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8:59 – Previously on Lost, The O5 + Locke & & Ben & Lapidus & some new characters I still suspect are evil return to the Island. Locke, reincarnated, realizes that an injured Ben is the one who killed him. Meanwhile, back with the Left-Behinders…I’m sorry, who? I don’t know this “Sawyer” you refer to. Oh, those people we haven’t seen for like 15 episodes despite the fact that their story is like 800 times more interesting the O6 storyline. Those Left-Behinders. Anyway, they’ve been jumping around time & Charlotte died from the temporal displacement. Also? Jin found Jack, Kate & Hurley after they appeared on the Island. Double also? He is dressed like a Dharma worker & driving the Dharma van. Touche.

9:00 – We open in the scene after the flash that forced Locke to fall off the ladder into the clearing with the frozen donkey wheel. We pick up when Sawyer was holding onto the rope in the ground by Charlotte’s well. Miles & Juliet realize that they must be really far back in time because there’s a statue! A giant statue! FOUR-TOED, I BET!

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Live-Blogging Lost 5.7 The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham February 26, 2009

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8:59 – Previously on Lost, I missed out on blogging the O6—check that, the O5’s return to the Island. So much for “You all have to go back, Jack.” Meanwhile, back on the farm, Locke learned that he had to get all the O6 to go back & also, he has to die to do it. So he went down the Orchid, turned the frozen donkey wheel & next thing we know, he’s going by “Jeremy Bentham” & supposedly commits suicide, which we know via a note to Jack. I can already tell this is going to be one cheery episode!

9:00 – We open on a shadowy figure. It’s Caesar, the dude who was behind Jack in line at the Ajira counter at the airport. He’s in what appears to be a room with a lot of old stuff from like the 50’s. Also, there’s a random drawing of what we’ve seen to be the Dharma stations/energy fields. You might also have noted it’s also pretty similar to one of the drawings in Daniel’s journal, if you read Lostpedia, which of course I do, because let’s be real, it’s season 5, time to get serious with your mythology.

9:02 – The air marshal who was escorting Sayid, Ilana, comes in. She tells Caesar that they found a man. Standing in the water. In a suit. Who no one remembers from the plane. Caesar wonders if he is one of the ones who “disappeared.” They walk in the dark through the jungle to a campsite. Caesar greets the mystery man, who is obviously Locke. He is pleased to meet Caesar. Dun dun.

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Live-Blogging Lost 5.5 This Place is Death February 12, 2009

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8:59 – Trying out live-blogging again. Previously on Lost, Charlotte was time travel sick, but was feeling better, Juliet (NO!) & Miles (NOOOOOOO!) also got nosebleeds. Dan thinks it has to do with their time on the Island. The O6 start gathering to go back to the Island, but touché, Sun has a gun. And back on the farm…Jin is ALIVE! And hanging out in the past with a young, undead, pregnant Danielle Rousseau!

9:00 – We open on Sun, still in the car, watching Ben, Jack & Kate. She gets a call from her mom with Ji Yeon. She tells her kid that she met a new friend (i.e. Aaron). She takes the gun and gets out of the car. Over at the group meeting, Ben notes once again that Aaron is not Kate’s son. Sun comes over & starts waving the gun around, saying that Ben is the reason Jin is dead. Ben goes, hey, guess what? Not dead! And I can prove it. Touche, thinks Sun & Jack.

9:03 – On the Island, in the past, with the French people & Jin. One of the French people has a radio, which is broadcasting the Numbers. Jin is freaked out since Daniel’s not around to explain the Island time skipping situation. He is told that it is way in the past & he wants to go to the camp. The French people talk him into taking them to the radio tower first. One of the French people is clearly Danielle’s significant other. I’m going to go ahead & make up a name for him now…Pierre. Jin tells Danielle he wants to go to the camp because he thinks his wife is there.

9:06 – In the jungle, Danielle feels some pain but is okay. She is seven months pregnant & convinced it’s a girl. PS: one of the French people is missing. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Smokey? Is that you??

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