Tuesday, May 31, 2011

List of Star Trek: the Next Generation Episode Reviews

First Season

Encounter at Farpoint
The Naked Now
Code of Honor
The Last Outpost
Where No One Has Gone Before
Lonely Among Us
Justice
The Battle
Hide and Q
Haven
The Big Goodbye
Datalore
Angel One
11001001
Too Short a Season
When the Bough Breaks
Home Soil
Coming of Age
Heart of Glory
The Arsenal of Freedom
Symbiosis
Skin of Evil
We'll Always Have Paris
Conspiracy
The Neutral Zone
Second Season

The Child
Where Silence Has Lease
Elementary, Dear Data
The Outrageous Okona
Loud as a Whisper
The Schizoid Man
Unnatural Selection
A Matter of Honor
The Measure of a Man
The Dauphin
Contagion
The Royale
Time Squared
The Icarus Factor
Pen Pals
Q Who?
Samaritan snare
Up the Long Ladder
Manhunt
The Emissary
Peak Performance
Shades of Gray
Third Season

Evolution
The Ensigns of Command
The Survivors
Who Watches the Watchers?
tThe Bonding
Booby Trap
The Enemy
The Price
The Vengeance Factor
The Defector
The Hunted
The High Ground
Deja Q
A Matter of Perspective
Yesterday's Enterprise
The Offspring
Sins of the Father
Allegiance
Captain's Holiday
Tin Man
Hollow Pursuits
The Most Toys
Sarek
Menage a Trois
Transfigurations
The Best of Both Worlds, Part I
Fourth Season

The Best of Both Worlds, Part II
Family
Brothers
Suddenly Human
Remember Me
Legacy
Reunion
Future Imperfect
Final Mission
The Loss
Data's Day
The Wounded
Devil's Due
Clues
First Contact
Galaxy's Child"
Night Terrors
Identity Crisis
The Nth Degree
Qpid
The Drumhead
Half a Life
The Host
The Mind's Eye
In Theory
Redemption I
Fifth Season

Redemption II
Darmok
Ensign Ro
Silicon Avatar
Disaster
The Game
Unification I
Unification Ii
A Matter of time
New Ground
Hero Worship
Violations
The Masterpiece Society
Conundrum
Power Play
Ethics
The Outcast
Cause and Effect
The First Duty
Cost of Living
The Perfect Mate
Imaginary Friend
I, Borg
The Next Phase
The Inner Light
Time's Arrow, Part I
Sixth Season

Time's Arrow, Part II
Realm of Fear
Man of the People
Relics
Schisms
True Q
Rascals
A Fistful of Datas
The Quality of Life
Chain of Command, part I
Chain of Command, Part II
Ship in a Bottle
Aquiel
Face of the Enemy
Tapestry
Birthright, Part I
Birthright, Part Ii
Starship Mine
Lessons
The Chase
Frame of Mind
Suspicions
Rightful Heir
Second Chances
Timescape
Descent, Part I
Seventh Season

Descent, Part II
Liaisons
Interface
Gambit, Part I
Gambit, Part II
Phantasm
Dark Page
Attached
Force of Nature
Inheritance
Parallels
The Pegasus
Homeward
Sub Rosa
Lower Decks
Thine Own Self
Masks
Eye of the Beholder
Genesis
Journey's End
Firstborn
Bloodlines
Emergence
Preemptive Strike
All Good Things...

X-Files--"Jump the Shark"

We are down to the final five episodes of The X-Files. Four of the five wrap up dangling plot threads to varying degrees of satisfaction. “Jump the Shark,” a play on both the point at which a television series hits its peak before hitting the decline and a major plot point of the episode, features the ultimate fate of the Lone Gunman. It is a direct sequel to the final episode of their self-titled series which had been cancelled the previous year. For the sake of full disclosure, I have seen only the two initial episodes of The Lone Gunman, so “Jump the Shark” is my first exposure to many of the concepts and characters featured. However much my unfamiliarity taints my review is up for you to decide.

I have always had mixed emotions about the Lone Gunman. My opinion hinged on how they were used. Often, they were thrown into the story when Mulder and Scully were unable to get from point A to point B any other logical way. The Lone Gunman managed to implausibly have specialized knowledge which somehow escaped the FBI’s crime lab. Go figure. Other times, they were out in the field, either heroically on their own, or in a back up role for mulder and scully or Doggett and Reyes. In the latter cases, they were usually great characters. Perhaps enough so that I ought to give their series a bigger chance than I did a decade ago. When used properly as real people, they are fine additions to the supporting cast. So much so, I have a melancholy feel about the ending to “Jump the Shark.”

Like many of the best episodes of The X-Files, “Jump the Shark” has a good mix of comedic and horrific elements. Much of the episode is a scam by former man in black Morris Fletcher to con the Lone gunmen into finding one of their former associates, Yves, by convincing Doggett and Reyes she is secretly a super soldier. Yves is working on a mission of her on to prevent the release of a biotoxin hidden inside shark catilage within a terrorist carrier. The Lone Gunmen track down who they believe is the carrier, but winds up being a decoy. They discover the true terrorist, but too late to stop him in any other way than sealing themselves inside an airtight room with him to wait for the biotoxin to activate. The three sacrifice themselves. For that sacrifice, skinner arranges for them to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery..

I am skeptical non-veterans could ever be buried at Arlington, but it is a nice touch regardless. I have to fight off the feeling that Mitch Pileggi, who has only two lines at the end, and Gillian Anderson are embarrassingly misused here. They both neded to be at the funeral, obviously, but it feels like the two are just thrown in there. Particularly Pileggi. Skinner is a really good character, but for long stretches has been sorely misused. Never so much so than in the ninth season. After quickly killing Krycek at the end of last season, it is as though no one could figure out what to do with him. I would have suggested dumping Folmer and handing all his appearances over to Skinner, but I digress. Regardless, the emotions involved in saying goodbye to the Lone Gunmen outweigh any criticisms about how other characters fared.

“Jump the Shark” is not aptly named. It is one of the best episodes of the ninth season. Obviously, I think it gave the Lone Gunman a good send off. Not that I think they should have been killed off mind you. I would have preferred them to ride off into the sunset aware that they were heroes rather than, as Langley says of his hero Joey Ramone, living forever knowing nothing ever broke their spirits. But if they had to go, this is a touchingly appropriate way to give them a send off.Rating: *** (out of 5)

Quick note: Jolie Jenkins, who played Leyla Harrison in yesterday's episode, sent a Twitter DM thanking me for the shout out yesterday. So she is not only cute, but nice, too. Become a fan of hers, folks.

January Jones as Emma Frost

Non-comics fans now have a reason to be happy when the costumes are translated perfectly from the page to the stage.

Mercy, mercy me.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Formspring Question #174--Leave Them Wanting More Edition

Do you believe The X-Files should have ended after seven seasons?
Yes. I will go even further and say the series should have ended a third of the way into season seven with ”Closure.” By that point, the colonization story arc had a satisfactory ending. The only plot point lingering--that of Samantha Mulder’s fate--was rsolved in “Closure.” The two driving forces behind the show were gone, so that should have been it. The X-Files would have ended on a high point creatively there.

But the series was dragged on pointlessly. The rest of the seventh season was filled with comedy and episodes which were little more than personal indulgences the main actors were allowed to write and/or direct. I will concede the season finale would have served as a decent series finale, too. It would make dramatic sense for Mulder to ultimately be abducted himself and Scully to miraculously become pregnant. Such would give both what they wanted most. It would have left their ultimate fates up to the audience to decide, but The X-Files had a long habit of leaving conclusions open ended and often bleak.

Not to take away anything from Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish, but they had big shoes to fill. The X-Files was not just about aliens and monsters. It was about Mulder and Scully. Create a new show like Bones or Castle with Patrick and Gish, and it might have run seven years itself. But put them in a spot in which they have to compete with Mulder and scully, and they were doomed to fail. The shadows hung too heavy in the air.

Those two final seasons were just bad. We knew Duchovny is gone for most of the eighth season, so there were no room for surprises. Qw knew he was completely gone for the ninth season, but characters talked about him as though he could show up any minute. In the few episodes he did appear in, duchovny was practically tapping his watch impatiently throughout. Anderson looked increasingly bored. The new mythology was uninteresting and really overkill. There were too many new characters to absorb. They drifted too much attempting to find their voice. The monsters have the week were losing their edge, too. An Indian mystic who crawls up people’s butts? Really, Chris Carter? You signed off on that?

There are some eighth and ninth season episodes worth watching, but overall, I liken those seasons to rooting for an aging baseball player. You want to see him keep on playing, but you really wish he had retired before his rapid decline so your last memories would have been him at the top of his game. Instead, he is forced to quit because he simply has no juice left. You hate for your last image of him to be limping off the field, but that is what happens when you stick around too long.

Formspring Question #173--The Amy Whammy Edition

When do you think the real Amy was switched with her Ganger?
Considering that at some point in the near future, perhaps even the next episode, we are flashing back to Rory watching over the Pandorica while Amy was inside, I imagine it will be revealed the switch was made last season. I am not certain how that could have been pulled off, however, considering how vital her memories were to the series arc. If she was a Ganger part way through, that would add a very confusing element to a story that already needed a diagram to explain it.

The only other onscreen bit we have seen where the switch might have taken place is when Amy was kidnapped by the Silence. But by that point, she had already seen the Eye Patch Lady randomly appear, so she had to have already been taken by that point. I doubt her kidnapping by the Silence was the moment, but they do seem to be involved in the overall plot somehow.

The easiest answer--and that is generally never the kind Steven Moffatt presents--is that Amy was switched out between her honeymoon with Rory and their reunion with the Doctor in the sixth series premiere. At the moment, that would sound anticlimactic since we have no clue what happened during that period, but there is still half a season to go. Maybe more will be revealed to make the switch then interesting.

Regardless, I am betting the switch occurred between the Christmas special and the series premiere when Rory and Amy were playing house.

Herman Cain Wrote Me a Letter

Well, not me specifically, but his column Dear Skeptics addresses the validity of his presidential campaign, ah issue I expressed skepticism over in a post last week. In short, I think Cain is realistic about his non-existent chances of winning the nomination, and is running for president to boost his profile as a political commentator. He if makes a decent showing in the polls, the least he can get away with is a book deal. I think he is aiming for national television, however. Yes, I know he is already very wealthy. We are talking ego here.

I think his column actually reinforces what I was saying about his campaign serving only to fire up a potential fan base. He is running against the establishment by claiming his lack of campaign finances, name recognition, and political experience is actually a mark in his favor. As proof, a touts dismissals of him by Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer he is a champion of the grass roots, not the beltway power brokers/intelligentsia. Granted, those points can fire up the ideologues who would just as soon put all progressives on a leaky boat bound for China, but not cannot encourage a general electorate.

Note Cain also mentions he is going to make mistakes, but does not specifically recall his ‘right of return” gaffe. Instead, Cain preemptively excuses any mistakes he is going to make in the future by saying he has a problem with political correctness. Yes, and to steal a joke from Pat Buchanan, Cain also has the problem of eating breakfast at the International house of Pancakes being the closest thing to foreign policy experience he has ever had.

My original belief still stands. I like Cain, but he has no serious intention, not less chance, of being elected president. He wants the loyalty of ideological conservatives, but not because they are going to give him an elected office. Frankly, if I am wrong and he thinks his numerous weaknesses as a candidate make him a strong presidential contender, then he has already disqualified himself from ever competently holding the office.

X-Files--"Scary Monsters"

Several points strike me right between the eyes about “Scary Monsters.” First, many of the elements are lifted straight from the classic “It’s a Good Life” from The Twilight Zone. Second, what is not lifted from "It’s a Good Life” reminds me way too much of the worst episode of the revived Doctor who series "Fear Her.” Finally, the sardonic self-awareness is awfully melancholy. Even the show itself is making excuses as to why it has been cancelled.

Agent Leyla Harrison, last seen in “Alone,” approaches scully with a case she swears is an X-File. A young boy’s grandmother has urged authorities to check in on him after his mother stabs herself to death. The boy told her about monsters doing the deed instead. All parties but Harrison think the boy has an overactive imagination. As we will soon discover, he does.

Tommy has the ability to make his imagination come to life by drawing. He created some sort of large bugs that ate his mother from the inside out. She stabbed herself in an attempt to cut them out of her stomach. The boy’s cat killed itself for the same reason. Now his father is being held prisoner by his sadistically demented son. Eventually, Doggett, reyes, and Harrison are trapped, too, and tormented by Tommy’s imagination. Doggett eventually figures a way to stop Tommy--by not believing his creations are real. It works. Tommy is inexplicably incapacitated before Reyes is eaten from the inside by the bugs and Harrison bleeds to death from her eyes.

Out of all the evil kids that have been monsters of the week, Tommy is one of the best. He is very manipulative in luring people into his traps. There is a strong hin the has a crush on Reyes, too. He makes every effort to hover around her, always seeking comfort from her. His previous behavior makes it even cooler when he decides to kill her in the worst manner he can imagine. The glee he has when showing her the picture he drew of her with a bug in her stomach is priceless.

The heart of the episode is not Tommy’s sadism, however. Good thing, too, because it is incredibly derivative of past kids with reality bending powers stories from all over science fiction. What the episode is really about is Harrison speaking for the fans. She is irritated every step of the way how Doggett and Reyes are handling the case. Specifically, she hounds the two that Mulder and Scully would be doing things far better. At one point, Doggett snaps at her that Mulder and Scully are not around anymore, then privately confides in Reyes he believes Harrison is right. He and Reyes are completely in over their heads. He thinks they lack the ability to think outside the box enough to solve x-Files cases. Indeed, it is Doggett’s lack of imagination which allows him to survive Tommy’s death trap for him and eventually subdue the kid. The solution is supposed to be ironic, but it really reinforces the notion The X-Files was best left to Mulder and Scully.

“Scary Monsters” has a decent mix of horror and comedy. I have already described how Tommy manipulates reyes into feeling sorry for him to the point she is always holding him. I half expected him to try unhooking her bra at some point. On a dime, he shows her a drawing of how he plans to kill her and--boom--here we go. Hilariously jarring, as his her commenting, as she suffers under the pain , what a brat he is. Leyla’s over-enthusiastic boyfriend is thrown into the mix. He has been told he will get laid if he digs up the family cat for Scully to autopsy. He shows up at Scully’s door with the feline. Hilarity ensues. The whole sequence feels like just a way of getting Gillian Anderson into the episode. She is phoning it in, just like she has been for the last season and a half. You can see it on her face: End it! End it! For the love of God, end it! I’m moving to London. End it!

I am mocking “Scary Monsters” unmercifully, but it is not really that bad. The problem is how obvious it is everyone involved knows the show is over because the fans no longer care. They are cashing thir paychecks, and that is about it. Annabeth Gish is hoping her role on The West Wing gets extended. It does not, I am afraid. She has to take her clothes off in her next movie to get anyone’s attention. So does Anderson, now that I recall, but not full frontal like Gish. Poor Robert Patrick shows up in one episode of Stargate: Atlantis only to be killed off in the second act. Judge for yourself how Harrison’s Jolie Jenkins has done for herself. I recognize her in many television guest spots. Still cute, too.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Jessica Biel

Memorial Day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

List of The Wild Wild West Episode Reviews

First Season

The Night of the Inferno
The Night of the Deadly Bed
The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth
The Night of the Sudden Death
The Night of the Casual Killer
The Night of a Thousand Eyes
The Night of the Glowing Corpse
The Night of the Dancing Death
The Night of the Double-Edged Knife
The Night That Terror Stalked the Town
The Night of the Human Trigger
The Night of the Red-Eyed Madmen
The Night of the Torture Chamber
The Night of the Howling Light
The Night of the Fatal Trap
The Night of the Steel Assassin
The Night the Dragon Screamed
The Night of the Grand Emir
The Night of the Flaming Ghost
The Night of the Whirring Death
The Night of the Puppeteer
The Night of the Bars of Hell
The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo
The Night of the Druid's Blood
The Night of the Freebooters
The Night of the Burning Diamond
The Night of the Murderous Spring
The Night of the Sudden Plague

Second Season

The Night of the Eccentrics
The Night of the Golden Cobra
The Night of the Raven
The Night of the Big Blast
The Night of the Returning Dead
The Night of the Flying Pie Plate
The Night of the Poisonous Posey
The Night of the Bottomless Pit
The Night of the Watery Death
The Night of the Green Terror
The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse
The Night of the Man-Eating House
The Night of the Skulls
The Night of the Infernal Machine
The Night of the Lord of Limbo
The Night of the Tottering Torture
The Night of the Feathered Fury
The Night of the Gypsy Peril
The Night of the Tartar
The Night of the Vicious Valentine
The Night of the Brain
The Night of the Deadly Bubble
The Night of the Surreal McCoy
The Night of the Colonel's Ghost
The Night of the Deadly Blossom
The Night of the Cadre
The Night of the Wolf
The Night of the Bogus Bandits

Third Season

The Night of the Bubbling Death
The Night of the Firebrand
The Night of the Assassin
The Night Dr. Loveless Died
The Night of the Jack O' Diamonds
The Night of the Samurai
The Night of the Hangman
The Night of Montezuma's Hordes
The Night of the Circus of Death
The Night of the Falcon
The Night of the Cut-Throats
The Night of the Legion of Death
The Night of the Turncoat
The Night of the Iron Fist
The Night of the Running Death
The Night of the Arrow
The Night of the Headless Woman
The Night of the Vipers
The Night of the Underground Terror
The Night of the Death Masks
The Night of the Undead
The Night of the Amnesiac
The Night of the Simian Terror
The Night of the Death-Makers

Fourth Season

The Night of the Big Blackmail
The Night of the Doomsday Formula
The Night of the Juggernaut
The Night of the Sedgewick Curse
The Night of the Gruesome Games
The Night of the Kraken
The Night of the Fugitives
The Night of the Egyptian Queen
The Night of Fire and Brimstone
The Night of the Camera
The Night of the Avaricious Actuary
The Night of Miguelito's Revenge
The Night of the Pelican
The Night of the Spanish Curse
The Night of the Winged Terror I/II
The Night of the Sabatini Death
The Night of the Janus
The Night of the Pistoleros
The Night of the Diva
The Night of the Bleak Island
The Night of the Cossacks
The Night of the Tycoons
The Night of the Plague

For the record:
Top Ten

1. The Night of the Skulls
2. The Night of the Lord of Limbo
3. The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth
4. The Night of the Death Masks
5. The Night of the Winged Terror I/II
6. The Night of the Doomsday Formula
7. The Night of the Underground Terror
8. The Night of the Feathered Fury
9. The Night of the Grand Emir
10. The Night of the Vicious Valentine

Bottom Ten

1.The Night of the Wolf
2. The Night of the Simian Terror
3. The Night of the Tycoons
4. The Night of the Pistoleros
5. The Night of the Running Death
6. The Night of Montezuma's Hordes
7. The Night of the Fatal Trap
8. The Night of the Infernal machine
9. The Night of the Vipers
10. The Night of the Pelican

You mat now rip me to shreds for my treatment of your favorite/least favorite episodes.

Blogroll Spotlight #96

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. These are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Perspective--In Memory of Our Soldiers
Amusing Bunni's Musings--Update on the Leopard Cubs
Blazing Cat Fur--The Globe Goes Hamas
Camp of the Saints--Rule 5: Nell mcAndrew
Classic Liberal--The Rule 5 Insider
Daley Gator--More on Weinergate
Fishersville Mike--sarah Palin, the blogger's friend
Gorge's Grouse--Police State
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--Friday Pin Up
Jaded Haven--Country Behind a Mask
Left Coast Rebel--Will the Real Obama Please Stand Up?
Other McCain--Pacifism and Historical Ignorance
Paco Enterprises--Talking Nazi Dogs
Pirate's Cove--Sarah Palin Goes Behind Lines
Proof Positive--DidAanythony Weiner tweet His weiner/
Randy's Roundtable--Friday nite funnies
Sentry Journal--You're either a Tool or a Target...Which is It?
Sniper--Fatwa on Disney
Teresamerica--Talking Cat Funnies
Three Beers Later--Some People Are Hard to Keep Down
Troglopundit--Is This Danica's last Indy 500/
Washington Rebel--Are You Too Proud to Be An American?
Yankee Phil--That Funny Little First Amendment

This week’s song is “More Than a Name on a Wall” from the Statler Brothers in honor of Memorial Day. I remember hearing the song as background music my parents would play long before I got into country music myself. At the time, I knew very little about the Vietnam War period, much less there had been a lingering cultural divide or not only the war, but how its veterans were perceived. I remember feeling a profound sadness over the song if before I learned how complicated how complicated people made the issues surrounding it. Over twenty years later, it still gets to me, if for no other reason I miss the time when being a part of the god, mother, and country South made the idea of the good guys fighting the bad guys much easier to discern.

X-Files--"Improbable"

It is great to see a lighthearted, humorous episode with a big name guest star at his quirky best in an otherwise bleak sequence of episodes. The X-File’ is in definite full swing at this point, but “Improbable” is there to remind of those fun episodes of the past when stars like Peter Boyle, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lilly Tomlin, and Ed Asner lifted Many monster of the week episodes to classics. In this case, Burt Reynolds takes a turn ambiguously playing God as he helps Scully and Reyes track down a serial killer who uses numerology to choose his victims.

Reynolds steals the show here as the offbeat Almighty, but I cannot discount that the powers that be finally found something for reyes to do that does not involve some existential voodoo. She finally comes into her own as a capable FBI agent rather than the third wheel behind Doggett and Scully, or the poor soul buffeted by cruel fate. She is the one who ultimately catches the killer, though it is Doggett who fires the fatal shot to save her and Scully. To be fair, he was due. He had about eight lines up until that point. Besides, I cannot remember the last time he got to kill the perp.

Reyes, seemingly out of the blue, connects a series of six murders through numerology. She becomes a quick star within the FBI until the head of the local field office discovers how she did it. He is inexplicably upset because that is just not how the FBI works. His objection puzzles me. If a serial killer is using numerology to choose his victims-- and Reyes proved he is--then it is perfectly reasonable to use numerology in order to catch him. Nevertheless, the FBI’s skepticism forces Reyes to rely solely on Doggett and Scully, though the mysterious Mr. Burt lends a hand in the final act.

The episode is based on the concept that numbers are the language of the universe. Patterns emerge constantly in patterns of three, from the pins on a map marking each murder victim arranged into a six to nine people crammed in an elevator. Some of the patterns are quite creative. I have probably missed a few myself even though I was cued in early on to be observant for them. Ultimately, Scully and Reyes get locked in a garage with Mr. Burt. He convinces them to play checkers, which gives Reyes the epiphany there are going to be nine murder victims in all. Since unlucky number seven was a blonde, the final two will be a brunette and red head, just like the checkers. The killer turns out to be hiding in the garage. Doggett rescues the two before they can become the final victims. Mr. Burt, work having been done, disappears.

There are some absurdities in the episode. I have already mentioned the FBI brass’ skepticism about using numerology even though the killer believes in it if no one else does. Victim number seven just happens to be the numerologist Reyes consults in order to predict the next victim. What are the odds the killer would choose her? Sure, we are supposed to think the numbers make the determination, but it feels like way too much of a coincidence. It also is extremely weird that even while locked in a garage, Scully and Reyes would pass the time playing checkers with some random guy. I am going to forgive it all, however. Somehow, it makes sense within the strange logic the episode establishes.

I noted a very obscure reference to a past episode, too. When the field office head eschews Reyes’ numerology suggestion, he develops a psychological profile that says the killer is a former bed wetter who ia angry at his mother. Scully once angrily told skinner once the FBI could determine whether a killer was a bed wetter and how he felt about his mother, but could not identify the gun which fired the bullet killing her sister. What a wild allusion to make, particularly when it is played for laughs in this context because it is such a broad profile.

“Improbable” is a very funny, very entertaining episode. For whatever reason, the powers that be thought the departure of David Duchovny would somehow be made light of if the final couple seasons had comedy episodes. Perhaps that was true during the period Mulder was abducted, but the rationale does not play as well while Mulder is in hiding. Life goes on, and the motif of comedy episodes in the midst of dark material works just fine, as this episode demonstrates. There should have been more like it. I even liked the soundtrack of non-Mark Snow composed standards. They gave the episode a certain flair.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Gillian Anderson

Today is the final Sunday to feature a review for The X-Files, so it is also the last day for a gaggle of Gillian Anderson photos. Here is the best of what I have left. From now on, Anderson will rejoin the irregular rotation tp be shared whenever I discover a new photo I like.

To answer the question that popped into your mind before reading the previous sentence, I am skeptical there is a wide variety of Jeri Ryan photos out there to have her replace Anderson on Sundays. At least not six months worth, which is roughly how long it will take to plow through the detritus that is Star Trek: Voyager. She appears to have participated in about three big magazine photo spreads all about a decade ago. Surely you have seen them by now.

It does not matter right now. We have eighty days from now until she shows up on the series. That is plenty of time to figure out the best way of doing things.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sarah Palin is Still Your Favorite

This week's poll has closed. In spite of a surge in her favor over the last couple days, Michele Bachmann ultimately got trounced by Sarah Palin as your favorite potential 2012 GOP nominee:

Michele Bachmann 40%
Sarah Palin 60%

Considering palin's bus tour and new documentary set to premiere in Iowa, it is safe to say she is running in spite of insider commentary to the contrary. Bachmann is having a tough time gaining any traction to the point, if she is wise, will drop the whole idea of a 2012 bid. she may be in better shape to run later, but I do not believe it is her turn right now.

This week's poll goes back to the television reviews. The X-Files reviews end later this week. [Pause> for cheers] Which series has had the most interesting reviews so far?

Doctor Who--"The Almost People"

“The Almost People” was a big improvement over its first part for a lot of little reasons, but I still feel it was padded well beyond reason. There was no compelling reason to make this a two part story. But no matter. The last three minutes could have saved just about any lackluster episode. Steven Moffat managed to slide a huge secret under our collective noses, and he is totally awesome for it.

The story is an old staple for Doctor Who--a base under siege. That particular plot dates all the way back to the Second Doctor era. Things get a wee bit confusing as Gangers and humans switch places constantly. There is a lot of claustrophobic running from gangers and a monster and some pretty disturbing Ganger corpses. It all gets wrapped up conveniently--ridiculously in some cases, such as the holophone call from the kid. There was plenty of room for more exciting twists, but we got none. What the script really needed was someone to edit it down to one episode instead of two. It would have been tighter and more fast paced. More compelling tension that way.

I did enjoy the all to brief interaction between the Doctor and his Ganger. They played off each other in the perfectly manic manner you would expect from Matt Smith’s interpretation of the character. They completed each other’s sentences, particularly the jokes, as the two ran along the same train of thought. There was a moment of Tenth Doctor angst as Almost Doctor took a moment to dwell on the memories of his past selves and their extreme actions. Those more enamored with David Tennant’s troubled Emo Doctor might have been more thrilled. While I thought the scene was necessary considering Ganger Jenny’s behavior last episode when her memories came flooding back, it reminded me how tiresome Emo Doctor’s moping became after five years.

But the last few minutes, presumably written by Moffatt, made up for all shortcomings. I am going to spoil the heck out of it, so skip the next paragraph if you do not want to know. I will not mention the revelation again after.

We learn why the Doctor wanted to go to the 22nd century in the first place--Amy is a Ganger! The Doctor destroys her in the final few minutes, then it is revealed a very pregnant Amy has been held captive by an eye patch wearing woman. She is about to give birth, but to what? I had not seen this twist coming even though I have been inadvertently exposed to faux spoilers over the last few weeks. Exactly when was Amy replaced is a good question, too. Moffatt has a way of hiding things in plain sight. Our Amy may have been gone since sometime in the first season. With the next episode ending on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved until at least September, expect much nail biting frustration from me.

The surprise ending made the episode. Otherwise, it was run of the mill fluff stretched out about thirty minutes beyond it material. Nothing was technically bad, but Wholigans have seen all of it before. The interaction between the Doctor and Almost Doctor could have elevated the episode if there had been more of it. But no such luck.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #100

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Motor City Times links to John Edwards Forgets the Lewinsky Rule.
Sentry Journal links to John Edwards Forgets the Lewinsky Rule.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #99, Blogroll Spotlight #95, and Gillian Anderson.
Classic Liberal links to Minka Kelly, Kim Kardashian, Neve Campbell, and Kate Upton.
American Power links to FMJRA #99
Proof Positive links to January Jones.
Say Anything blog links to January Jones.
The Other McCain links to Minka Kelly.
Randy's Roundtable lists the Eye as a Top Referrer for the Week.
New Horizon links to Blogroll Spotlight #95, X-Files "Trust No 1", and Gillian Anderson.
Camp of the saints awards the Spot on Quote of the Day.
American Power links to FMJRA #84.
Teresamerica links to Katy Perry.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

X-Files--"Underneath"

It is sad to say, but after yesterday’s excellent Reyes-centric episode, Doggett gets gypped when he is central to the story. I am still having a time swallowing it all. The script is rather bland. Doggett, who is supposedly tormented over the release of a murderer cleared by DNA evidence after thirteen years, has been more intense in previous episodes with less at stake emotionally for him. Reyes serves as an incidental character who pops into the fourth act in order to jump to the paranormal explanation with no logical way of getting there. “underneath” is not firing on all cylinders.

The point that really jumps out at me is how much “Underneath” is a Doggett and Scully episode It feels like a script that was left over from the eighth season now re-written so the sidekick actions could be split between Scully and Reyes. It feels like a leftover script for two reasons. One, Doggett’s days with the NYPD are featured more prominently than in any other episode. It could have served as an early fleshing out of his back story from when he was a new character. Two, Reyes has little more than a cameo until the final two acts, she relates catholic theology in relation to explaining the killer and eventually stopping him. Scully is the devout Catholic who has utilized her faith during cases in times passed. Here, she has little to no response when Reyes brings up the faith. Why not? If I had to guess, I would bet it is because Reyes was never intended to be part of the episode. Scully could have done all her lines and actions without anyone blinking. Reyes is conspicuous.

The story revolves around Doggett arresting a murderer thirteen years ago at the scene of the crime. An entire family is stabbed to death with a screwdriver. The crime left an impression on Doggett because he can still feel the blood squishing under his shoes. In 2002, Doggett is convinced he got the right man even after DNA evidence exonerates the alleged murderer. Doggett enlists Scully definitely and Reyes kinda sorta in order to prove the guy really is guilty.

There is a brief time in which we are lead to wonder if Doggett is determined to keep him from killing again, or just feels guilty about sending an innocent man to prison. The conflict does not last long, as more people are killed in the same manner as the family in 1989. By this point, we are aware the exonerated killer has some sort of charles Manson look alike entity hounding him and committing the murders.

Reyes shows up after her brief cameo in the first act to explain it all. The exonerated man, a devoutly religious man, is a shape shifter who becomes the Manson guy in order to kill while alleviating his guilty conscience. They are two distinct people, therefore they have different DNA. Not that it matters, because Doggett's old partner framed him anyway.

Wait...what? yes, that was completely unnecessary, but there you go. The corrupt partner is supposed to emphasize that Doggett is a straight arrow or something. I do not know. Maybe the script ran short, so they added in a pointless extra scene. The episode hit rock bottom long before this, so it is not like things could have been made worse by introducing the twist.

otherwise, he DNA evidence cleared the guy originally. Reyes compares the change to the Transfiguration--bread and wine turning into the body and blood of Christ--and distracts the killer enough accusing him of being a sinner to allow Doggett to escape his clutches before she kills him. All that would have sounded better coming from Catholic Scully than the New Age Reyes. Just saying.

I am not terribly impressed with “Underneath.” the script feels cobbled together. There are not a whole lot of new elements here, either. Shape shifters and reluctant killers have been a staple of The X-Files from the first season. The characterizations are way off. Doggett is not himself, but Reyes is scully, so I guess that balances out. A pretty big disappointment in total.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Emma Watson

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jeff Conaway (1950-2011)

In a follow up, Jeff Conaway was taken off life support and has since passed on. Dr. Drew, the celebrity therapist guru with slightly more class than Dr. Phil, told the press Conaway did not suffer a drug overdose. Dr. Drew had been working with Conaway over his substance abuse problem for several years now. Draw your own conclusion there.

Conaway is the fourth actor from Babylon 5 to pass on in the last seven years.

I have never been a fan of Grease, but I can appreciate other people like it and the film made him a star. I have enjoyed Taxi reruns over the years, so I recognize Conaway had talent and deserves recognition far beyond the science fiction show for which I am most familiar.

Formspring Question #172--Browncoat Edition

Were you a fan of Firefly?
No. I do not see what the big fuss is over Joss Whedon in general or Firefly in particular.

X-Files--"Audrey Pauley"

“Audrey Pauley’ is another episode I had forgotten about until watching for these reviews. It is a wonder I did. The story is Reyes-centric, so it is another highly imaginative existential journey. A very engaging one, I might add, because this time around Doggett is as much of part of the story as Reyes. They are not only partners, but have a connection with one another that could blossom into romance. Reyes was, I believe, intended to be a love interest for Doggett in the beginning.

In order to enjoy “Audrey Pauley,’ you have to overlook two issues. One, Reyes is in a coma because of a terrible car accident. Two, while in the coma, she exists in a netherworld created by a mentally/emotionally disturbed patient named Audrey Pauley. In the previous episode, Doggett was in a coma after suffering a terrible car accident. While in a netherworld, he received a message from God. The circumstances are not the same. Doggett was targeted, while Reyes was hit by a drunk driver. Doggett only recalls his experience in the netherworld. We actually see Reyes’ experiences. The episode is so well made, however, the fact the same story is done back to back with the main characters switching places is forgivable.

Reyes’ car is struck while driving in an intersection by a drunk driver. Although she does not suffer any head injuries, she is pronounced brain dead at the hospital. She has a DNR with a request to donate her organs, so the doctor in charge is ready to pull the plug. Doggett does not want to let her go. There are some really sweet touches, including a fantasy sequence which strongly hin the is in love with her, but is afraid to say so. His only hope is Audrey Pauley, a mentally/emotionally disturbed patient who tells Doggett she can interact with Reyes by way of a dollhouse version of the hospital in her room.

Reyes is safely--for the moment, anyway--in a ethereal copy of the hospital along with two other patients on life support. This place was somehow created by Audrey to protect them from being murdered by the on call physician. He has been faking that patients are brain dead so that he can pull the plug himself. It is not made entirely clear whether he likes feeling heroic by saving other lives with the organs donated or if he is just gets a thrill out of murder. At Doggett’s urging, Audrey re-enters her little hospital world to ask reyes to give some kind of outward sign she is alive. Reyes does, and points out what the doctor is doing, but not before he kills Audrey with a lethal injection.

Reyes recover quickly. She and Doggett give each other knowing looks, but neither confesses any romantic love for the other. Does that give any Mulder/Scully shippers a feeling of déjà vu? Perhaps a loss of patience with the series? I cannot even venture a guess how many shippers are still left around at this point.

“Audrey Pauley” feels only marginally like an episode of The X-Files. it is muxh more like an above average installment of The Twilight Zone. I am not complaining, however. The hospital created by Audrey is the incomplete vision of a real environment. Vital parts re missing. Writing is gibberish. It is very clearly the creation of a disturbed mind. It is also homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Calugari,, the classic silent film which takes place within an insane mind.
Aside from the homage, I appreciate the character development. Doggett and Reyes are definitely a case of opposites attract. Maybe so much so, they both fear admitting their attraction for one another. Doggett is such a straight-laced, by the book guy who is grounded in the natural world. Reyes is a free spirited, New Age type. They ought to despise one another, truth be told. It is sweet that not only do they do not, but they have a immensely tight emotional bond.

In a nice touch, Audrey is played by Tracy Ellis. Ellis previously played Lucy Householder in the third season’s “Oubliette.”. Lucy was also emotionally disturbed due to her having been kidnapped and held prisoner in the dark from a young child until her late teens. Audrey is a far less angry character, but like Lucy, Audrey sacrifices herself to save another.

"Audrey Pauley” is a touching episode in many ways. It is definitely one of the ninth season’s highlights.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kristin Cavallari

Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Formspring Question #171--Raising Herman Cain Edition

Where's your excitement for Herman Cain?
It is nonexistent. Herman Cain is not going to win the nomination, much less ever be president. He is polling in the single digits right behind Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Trailing a has been pariah and a never was frequent candidate is not a promising place to be. Arguing lack of name recognition puts Cain behind unfairly is rationalizing his inevitable loss. The fact is, that is where he is and is likely to stay.

I am with Charles Krauthammer on Cain. He is not a serious presidential candidate. He is one of those who is running to boost his media credentials. He will say all the right things to get conservatives all fired up while paying little to no attention to independents--an indication he does not care about the general election--enough to make him a favorite among them. He will stay in the race as close to super Tuesday as he can, then get his own show on FOX sometime in 2013

He will wind up like Mike Huckabee. His show will be a decent sized hit for its kind. He will attack Barack Obama and the general decline of America due to progressivism, both playing on his supporters’ regret he did not win in 2012 while toying with them about a run in 2016 just enough to keep them hanging and earn some bargaining clout to re-up his contract with FOX.

I like the guy. He might even make a decent president, though I suspecyt he is too much of a political novice at the moment to start out as president. Note his mistake on ‘right of return“ last week. Foreign policy certainly is not his gig. I cannot get passed the reality of his situation. His supporters think he is a dream candidate. The thing about dreams is how often they do not come true.

X-Files--"Providence"

Now I remember why I felt so ambivalent about this two part episode. They both intend to flesh out the new mythology for however much longer the series was supposed to last. It is heavy on messianic undertones regarding William, the coming alien invasion, and the Mulder family place in it. It is all really murky and confusing, but also irrelevant. When the series is cancelled, all the set up goes out the window as the powers that be only get a handful of episodes to course correct to give fans a sense of closure.

Should one have gotten high hopes? If Chris carter had gotten his wish for a tenth season and beyond, there is no way Gillian Anderson, who is largely phoning it in at this point, would have stuck around to play Scully. That means no William, either. The new mythology would have been dropped rapidly for a Doggett and reyes-centric story arc, so either way these two episodes seem irrelevant.

But for the sake of a complete review, here it goes: Josepho does not actually want to kill William, he wants to protect him instead. The FBI agent who tried to kill in in yesterday’s episode is a rogue former cult member who believes in some sort of prophecy that William will grow up to crusade against the alien invasion just like his father. Allegedly, Mulder has been murdered in order to spur the prophecy along. William takes matters into his own hands when he apparently kills the entire cult and causes the spacecraft to fly off just as scully and reyes arrive in the Canadian wilderness to save him.

Complicating matters; Doggett is in a coma until god talks to him about protecting Scully. The toothpick man is secretly a super soldier who has been impeding the case behind the scenes. Why/ Truth be told, we are not really certain if William is the John Connor who will eventually fight the alien invasion or the alien leader himself. I do note the irony that robert Patrick feels like he has been called upon to watch over William if the former is true in light of Patrick’s role as the T-1000 in Terminator II . Your guess is as good as mine which is which. I assume Carter and Company did not know, either.

Speaking of not knowing, there are three inexplicable points to ’Providence.” One, Folmer announces the same woman who kidnapped William hit Doggett with her car and put him in a coma. How does he know that? Doggett is the only one who saw her and he is in a coma. For all Folmer knows, Doggett was struck by a drunk driver in a stroke of bad luck. Two, Scully has no idea where to look for her son until Josepho calls her cell phone in order to arrange a meeting. How did he get her personal cell phone number? Finally, when Josepho tells her he wants the head of Mulder in order to prove he is dead, Scully does not flinch. It is the second time in the episode someone has told her he has been killed, but she has no particular reaction either time. As weepy as she has been over him, you would think she would freak out.

The Christian themes are very obvious. Mulder is John the Baptist. William is Jesus. Either the FBI agent Scully shot or Toothpick Man is Herod the Great, depending on whether you believe William is the messiah or the harbinger of doom. Scully is kinda sorta the Virgin Mary. Doggett has had a Damascus road conversion to true believe with his conversation with God like Paul. The least subtle connection is when Josepho refers to the super soldiers as the Nephilim by all but proper name. the Nephilim being named in the Old Testament as the offspring of the sons of god and the daughters of men. I assume that Carter and company were going for the more popular interpretation the Nephilim were the children of fallen angels--aliens, in this case--and human woman. If so, perhaps cutting the series short was not such a bad thing.

“Providence” is not technically bad, either, save for the plot holes I mentioned above which are difficult to rationalize away. The problem is the story is pointless in the grand scheme of things because ir all gets dropped in favor of a quick wrap up. The story feels like we burnt off two episodes for no good reason. I will grant “Providence” is more engrossing than the previous episode, but that is not saying much.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Sorry, Kaley, but as requested, Kaley Cuoco Day will continue into the summer. Kaley Cuoco Day; So Mesmerizing You'll Be Accused of Adcocating Homosexuality!

I really hope that tagline does not catch on.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jerod Lee Loughner Found Unfit for Trial

Someone finally figured out Jerod Lee Loughner is mentally ill. Too late to do anyone any good, but there you go.

Formspring Question #170--Is That a Tribble in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me? Edition

Did you know Gales McFadden was allegedly fired from TNG for refusing sexual advances from Maurice Hurley?
Yes, I have heard that, but long after I had written those reviews. Had I known, I would have mentioned the controversy over the accusations, but even now, it is tough to find out the truth about any behind the scenes drama with Trek. The powers that be kept a tight lid on everything even from the very beginning. Grace Lee Whitney was allegedly sexually assaulted by someone high up in production on TOS nearly fifty years ago, and we still do not know what that was all about. Voyager suffered from a lot of grumbling from the actors I will not have much definite to elaborate on, either.

The official line is that Gates McFadden was fired because Gene Roddenberry was looking to shake up the dynamic. He supposedly wanted to cause more friction among the characters. Rumors have McFadden left TNG because Maurice Hurley was sexually harassing her. Which is true?

I am skeptical of the official line, no doubt. Roddenberry believed his superior 24th century humans were perfect. They would be too far above having any sort of personal conflicts among themselves. Such flaws were saved for filthy aliens who had not yet been introduced to the wonders of secular humanism as Roddenberry saw it. Of course, Pulaski was a royal witch from the get go, so there is that.

Was Hurley a sexual harasser? I have no evidence to go by other than the McFadden rumor. It may pay to note that open leaving TNG, Hurley spent a decade working on Baywatch and Baywatch Nights. I am unaware of any accusations of sexual harassment having gone on there, but considering the purpose of those shows and the “special “qualifications the actresses were required to have, they may have considered such things the cost of doing business. Somehow, I doubt Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth, and Carmen Electra would care about tush grabbing and boob gawking quite like McFadden would, assuming it went on.

McFadden did return seamlessly once Hurley had moved on. Coincidence? Who knows. We do not have enough facts to decide. As with speculation Denise Crosby’s character was unidentifiably killed off by an oil slick because she had a dispute with Roddenberry, and only returned to the show after he was dead, the evidence is only circumstantial.