Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost “The Package” Recap & Review

Photo from ABC

Lost “The Package” was a fast moving episode but seemed to offer little in answering any real questions. It also may have seemed like a fast moving episode because it was heavily laden with commercials, something that has always been an annoyance with “Lost” but an issue that seems to be getting worse by the week.

This episode was also heavy in subtitles, as Jin and Sun spoke in Korean for much of it. I find that subtitles make it difficult for me to pay attention to details that are happening on the screen as I am too distracted by the reading, as a result, I feel like I may have missed some important visual tidbits or clues. As a rule, I just find subtitles too “labor intensive” for me to watch, and, for a 9 PM show I am just not in the mood for the added effort. Aside from that, it seems that all we found out was that Desmond was the person locked up on the sub, and in all honesty, I think most viewers out there had already reached that conclusion. Not that I don’t care about Sun and Jin, I have just never been interested in their relationship, either in the present, or in this alternate time.

But the commercials! It seemed like every 5 minutes there were 4 minutes of commercials. I dread to think what the finale will be like, with reported cost for a 30 second spot running upwards of $900,000. It seems that with “Lost,” ABC has found a way to make a lot of cash.

Here is the quick recap:
In this episode, the focus is on Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim) and while they remain separated in their life on the island, they are very much together in the other timeline. As we saw previously, as they tried to enter the country, they were stopped at customs because of the large amount of money Jin attempted to bring through undeclared. Customs allowed him to have the watch he brought in with the money, but paperwork is required for Jin to get the money, something he clearly is not in a position to do.

When Sun and Jin get to the hotel, Jin is a little obsessive about making sure they have separate rooms, but that’s because Sun’s father does not know of his relationship with Sun. Another problem is that Jin was supposed to deliver the money and the watch to a man, and now Jin has no money. But Sun has been stashing some away without her father’s knowledge, and plans to use that to help Jin.

After the two meet in Sun’s hotel room for a little fun in the sack, they hear a knock on the door, and it’s the nasty guy Martin Keamy who pestered Sayid (Naveen Andrews) in an earlier episode, who Sayid had shot in a blaze of gunfire. He catches Jin hiding in the bathroom, and then demands the money. The matter is complicated as Sun and Jin know no English, so Keamy brings in a translator, Mikhail (Andrew Divoff) and Sun tells them she can get the money from her bank account. Mikhail takes Sun to the bank, and Keamy takes Jin to the restaurant. Sun is shocked when she finds her father closed her bank account and took the money; Jin is shocked when Keamy ties him up, duct tapes his mouth, informing him the money Jin was supposed to bring was the payoff money that Sun’s father owed Keamy for killing Jin. He locks Jim in the refrigerator room, and soon after, we hear lots of gunfire. As Jin kicks on the door to make noise, the door opens, and it is Sayid. (This ties Sayid’s earlier storyline from this timeline together with Jin's.) Sayid gives Jin a box cutter but leaves it to Jin to get him free.

Sun and Mikhail return to the restaurant to see Keamy’s crew shot and Keamy lying near dead on the floor. While Mikhail is distracted by Keamy, Jin comes up behind him and holds a gun to his head, and when a scuffle ensues, bullets fly and Mikhail is shot in the eye. The problem is, Sun also is shot by a stray bullet, and as Jin races to assist her, she tells him she is pregnant. (Nice timing, Sun.)

Meanwhile, back on the Island, Locke decides to take off for a while and while he’s gone, someone shoots tranquilizer darts at the group and knocks them out, and they take Jin. The other group of people on the Island is waiting for Richard Alpert to get back, and Sun gets pissy about the whole thing and walks off to tend to what’s left of a tomato patch. While she is there, Locke approaches her and tries to get her to come with him as he says he can take her to Jin, but she doesn’t trust him and runs off, running into a tree and knocking herself out. When she comes to, she can only speak in Korean, but she can understand English.

Meanwhile, Jin is on Hydra, being held by Charles Widmore’s (Alan Dale) people in room 23, one of the torture rooms, and he demands to see Widmore. When Locke returns to the camp he finds the group out cold, but seems more worried when they come to that Jin has been taken. Locke decides to go to Hydra to get him back. But, on Hydra, he finds that they have the electronic fence set up which keeps Locke AKA The Smoke Monster out. Face to face with Widmore, who is on the other side of the fence, Widmore plays dumb when Locke asks about Jin. Locke says "A wise man once said that war is coming to island. I think it just got here."

The other group on the Island is surprised when Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) returns and says they want to destroy the plane on Hydra so Locke AKA Smokey couldn’t leave. Sun walks away from him, telling him in Korean that she isn’t going to help him destroy their way off the island.

On Hydra, Widmore was angry that Zoe kidnapped Jin, and he tells her to retrieve a package from the submarine and take it to the infirmary. Widmore then meets with Jin and gives him a camera that was found in Sun's luggage on the plane. It contained pictures of their daughter, whom Jin has never seen, and Jin cries. Widmore says he, too had a daughter and understood what it meant to be apart. Widmore told Jin that "everyone we know and love would simply cease to be" if Locke got off the island and they had to make sure that didn't happen. He also tells Jim he should see the package, adding "It's not a what. It's a who."

Meanwhile, Jack (Matthew Fox) gives Sun pen and paper so she can communicate, as it seems she can at least write in English. She tells him she does not trust Locke. But she does trust Jack and he promises to help her find Jin and get her on the plane and as far from the island as possible.

Elsewhere, Locke has returned to his group and he asked Sawyer (Josh Holloway) about the guarded room on the submarine that was hiding something Widmore didn't want Sawyer to see. Locke adds "I don't like secrets" before walking away. It seems that Locke has given Sayid the task of checking the guarded room out, and as Sayid swims, under cover of darkness, to the dock, he sees that the package is none other than Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick). They see each other briefly when Desmond is dropped to the ground, but neither acknowledged they had seen the other – and the episode closes as they take Desmond away.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost “Ab Aeterno” Recap & Review

Photo from ABC

Lost “Ab Aeterno” focused virtually all its attention on the mysterious man who never ages – Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell). It was a very different episode as it spent so much time on Richard. I wasn’t terribly interested but soon found myself pulled in to a character back story that was unlike any other so far, going far into the past. Richard is the man who hasn’t aged one bit despite the fact that he has shown his face in many timelines, and we find the reason for this special trait in this episode. It seems that what may have been an offhand comment of sorts – Richard telling Jacob he does not want to die, he wants to live forever. This apparently is something within Jacob’s power to do. Richard really wanted to be absolved of his sins and he wanted his dead wife back, but instead Richard may now be trapped in a hell of his own, which is a never ending life – ab aeterno – for eternity.

We also find that the ship “Black Rock” is what destroyed the large statue on the Island while crashing there in a storm in the 1800s. It is likely deep in the jungle as Jacob, who says he brought the ship there, wanted to be sure could not be used for escape. I also found it interesting that the ship is named Black Rock and we have seen – including in this episode – small black and white rocks that pop up in the storylines. Possibly the white and black rocks may signify some sort of balance as they are moved back and forth?

Is the Island just one big test of morality, as Jacob brings people there to prove that the Man In Black (MIB) is wrong and that man is not prone to sin by nature? Jacob uses the Island as a way to keep the Man in Black in check, just as a wine cork keeps wine in a bottle. But MIB shows that the wine can get out if you simply break the bottle. Is all he trying to do is break the power of the Island so he can be free to spread his evil even farther? I’ve mentioned this is other reviews of Lost that it seems like we are witnessing some long time battle between good and evil. Or, is the Island really just hell? I would find it much more fitting that it be some sort of purgatory, where everyone is working out their sins before they can move on to the afterlife – whatever that is. Religious themes abound in this episode, including what seemed like “Ricardo’s” baptism by Jacob, with Ricardo later asking for eternal life.

Regardless of what you may think, this episode provided quite a bit of information not only about Richard Alpert, but a little more about the purpose of the Island. Still, there aren’t too many episodes left in order to wrap up the story, and there are many questions that still remain.

Here is the recap:
The rest of the “Losties” are looking to Richard Alpert for answers, but, as we saw in a recent episode, Richard is having quite the crisis of faith. It seems that he devoted his life to Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) and, with Jacob now dead, he wondered if his life was even worth living. As Jacob had told Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) to "ask Ricardus" what to do next, and he would have the answer, Richard admits he doesn’t have a clue and feels everything Jacob told him was a lie. He then tells Jack a secret he’s had for a long time: “You're dead.” He adds that they were all dead and nothing is what they thought it was, that the Island, in fact, wasn't real and they were really in hell. Richard thinks it is time to start listening to someone else, "and that's exactly what I'm going to do” and he storms off into the jungle.

And this is when we take a long journey back into Richard Alpert’s past, all the way to 1867 when he lived in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and his name was Ricardo, tending to his deathly ill wife, Isabella (Mirelly Taylor). He takes what little money he has – Isabella adds her crucifix necklace and gives it to him – and he races on horseback to a doctor far away. But when the doctor says Ricardo doesn’t have enough money to buy the drugs that will save Isabella, Ricardo pushes him over and the doctor is killed as he bangs his head on a table. By the time Ricardo gets back with the drugs he has taken, Isabella is dead and he is grief stricken.
Later, in prison, a creepy priest finds out Ricardo has been learning English on his own by reading the Bible. The nasty priest confiscates the Bible, refuses to absolve Ricardo for the accidental death, and tells him he will be hanged and the devil will be waiting for him in hell. But Ricardo gets lucky – if you want to call it that – when a Mr. Whitfield “buys” Ricardo from the priest for his English speaking abilities, and informs Ricardo he is now the property of Magnus Hanso. But, while sailing to their new destination on the ship “Black Rock” and shackled below deck, they hit a massive storm and reach an island that another man shackled with Ricardo says is guarded by the devil. We see the familiar large statue on the Island, and the boat hits it. After the storm clears, the also creepy Mr. Whitfield comes below deck and begins to skewer the chained men with a sword as there is not enough on the Island to sustain them all and he doesn’t want them coming for him. Ricardo gets saved again – if you want to call it that – when the black smoke monster makes an appearance and kills Whitfield, and it gives Ricardo a good look-over but then leaves him chained to the ship.

As Ricardo tries in vain to free himself, he imagines Isabella is there, but she tells him they are in hell and she wanted to talk to him before “he” – “the devil” – came back. When the sound of the smoke monster can be heard above, Ricardo tells her to run, and she does, but it seems Smokey gets her too. But later, a man comes to Ricardo and frees him, and it’s the Man In Black (Titus Welliver) and he gets Ricardo to promise to do anything he wants in order to be free. He does. MIB also tells Ricardo that if he wants to escape hell he has to kill the devil.

The next day, MIB gives Ricardo the directions to the statue where he says the devil lives. MIB also admits that he is the black smoke, but tells Ricardo that Isabella was taken by the devil, and if he wanted to see his wife again he had to kill the devil. Ricardo tells him murder is wrong, but MIB entices and tempts Ricardo with seeing his wife in order to get him to comply. He gives him a dagger to use it to kill “the devil” and tells him that he can’t allow the devil to speak to him first, if he does, it’s over.

Ricardo is surprised by a man in light clothing – Jacob - at the literal foot of the large statue – all that remained of it. Ricardo’s attempt to kill him is foiled and he also finds that Jacob does not have Isabella. Ricardo tells Jacob that the MIB said Jacob was the devil and that Ricardo had to kill him in order to see his wife again. When Ricardo tells Jacob he is dead, Jacob takes Ricardo to the ocean and shoves his head underwater several times – looking like a baptism of sorts – and convinces Ricardo he is alive and he wants to continue to live. Later, back on dry land, Ricardo asks what was inside the foot of the statue, Jacob tells him no one goes into unless he invites them. Jacob tells Ricardo he is not the devil but he did bring the ship to the island. Jacob used a wine bottle to show Ricardo what is going on - to think of the wine in his bottle as hell, or malevolence, evil, or darkness, the wine swirling in the bottle and doesn't get out, "because if it did, it would spread." He said the cork in the bottle is the island. He puts the cork into the bottle and flips it upside down, showing how the cork (the island) "is the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs." Jacob tells Ricardo that The Man in Black believes people are corruptible because it's in their nature to sin, and Jacob brings people to the island to prove him wrong, and when they get to the Island their past does not matter. Ricardo questions what happened to the others he'd brought to the island before him, and Jacob says "They're all dead” adding he didn't help them because he wanted them to help themselves, "to know the difference between right or wrong without me having to tell them." He said it was meaningless if he had to tell them, if he had to step in. Jacob offers Ricardo the job of being his intermediary and when Ricardo asks for his wife back in return, Jacob tells he can’t do that, nor can he absolve him of his sins. When Ricardo says "I never want to die, I want to live forever,” Jacob tells him THAT he can do.

When Ricardo meets back up with MIB, MIB knows Jacob got to him. Ricardo gives MIB a white rock, and MIB tell him that his offer still stands if he ever "and I mean ever" - changed his mind. He gives Ricardo Isabella’s crucifix, and when Ricardo looks down at it, MIB disappears. Ricardo takes the crucifix and tearfully buries it.

Back on the Island in the “present” Richard unearths the crucifix and yells out that he changed his mind and asks if the offer still stands. When Hurley appears and asks, "What offer, dude,” Richard first is angry that Hurley followed him, but Hurley said his wife sent him. It seems Hurley has been speaking to the dead Isabella, and as Hurley continues to tell Richard all that Isabella is telling him, including it was not his fault she died.. Richard says he'd do anything to have more time with her. With Isabella's spirit gone, Hurley says she also said she wanted him to stop The Man in Black, because if you don't, "We're all going to hell." But Locke – the claimed Locke – is watching from a distance.

Back in the distant past, Jacob sat next to The Man in Black talking about how The Man in Black tried to kill him. MIB said he did it because he wanted to leave the island, but Jacob responds, "As long as I'm alive, you're not going anywhere." The Man in Black said that was why he wanted to kill him, but Jacob counters that someone else would just take his place. MIB says he'd kill them, too. Jacob gives MIB the bottle of wine with the cork in it, saying it is "something for you to pass the time" and Jacob leaves, saying "I'll see you around." The Man in Black took the bottle, saying quietly, "Sooner than you think." He holds the bottle upside down. the cork keeping the wine inside, and then he smashed the bottle on the rock next to him, shattering it into pieces and spraying the wine, as the episode closes.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

24 “Day 8: 4AM to 5AM” Morons and Traitors Abound

Never did I laugh so hard, and find an episode so ridiculous, as last night’s episode of ”24” (Fox) “Day 8, 4:00 AM to 5:00 AM.” After last week’s exciting ending with CTU being hit by and EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) which essentially made CTU deaf and blind to the world, this new episode feel flat on its face with over the top silliness.

Lucky for the people at CTU, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was out and about with Cole (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and a few hapless CTU agents trying to track down the nuclear rods. Of course, since Jack was not at CTU when the EMP occurred, he had the smarts to contact someone at the NSA who magically gets to CTU at warp speed in order to help CTU get their computers back up. Never mind that CTU head Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) never seems to check NSA guy for his credentials, and lets him waltz right into CTU giving him access to CTU computers.

Meanwhile, somehow Jack has magically deduced exactly how and where Samir will be bringing the nuclear rods into the city, and heads to the exact spot on the shores of the East River. I find this even more amazing since Jack is a Los Angeles guy, and he seems to know New York like he has lived there all his life. Under heavy gunfire from the bad guys, (can't anyone hit their target???) Jack et al magically are able to remove some of the armor from their car and use as a shield so they can attempt to get to the batphone, I mean the special RED phone, which is an emergency phone likely placed there just in case Jack needed it. Of course, because everyone they hire at CTU has the IQ of about 50, someone is bound to do something stupid. In this case, one of the throwaway agents panics and runs for it and of course is shot. The other throwaway agent gets upset that they aren’t running out to help the first agent – so HE runs out and gets shot. Jack and Cole run out and, as they are temporarily immune to the bullets, drag them both back in where they both die.

Meanwhile, Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) is a little gleeful at her luck with the EMP, which has taken out any evidence of her involvement with Wade’s robbery that Prady (Stephen Root) is trying to pin on her. But while NSA wants to take the slow road to repair the CTU computers, Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) has one of her hissy fits because she thinks she can fix it quicker by tapping into the trunk line. Chloe’s tantrums are getting quite old, as is her constant pouty face. She stirs up trouble by calling Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) because she thinks she can help find Jack and save him from the trouble Chloe just knows he is in. Then Chloe really goes off the deep end and pulls a gun on NSA guy, and orders him out of the computer room so she can do her thing with the trunk lines to bring up the computers. Such a crazy place, this CTU!

While all this is going on, Kayla is returned to her parents, embarrassed that Faroush seems to really be a traitor. I am getting bored right about now, and also tired of smacking my own head in disbelief as to the ridiculous plot that is unfurling before me.

Of course, the NSA/CTU people manage to break in to the computer room and stop Chloe in her tracks, but Chloe begs Hastings to back her up, after all, she saved his ass a few times already. He cuts her some slack and lets her go to work, and after shorting out what seems like one bank of servers, she magically gets things up and running. Of course, this creates some problems for Dana, who knows that now the trails that attach her to Wade’s robbery can be traced back to her. So she does what any CTU agent would do – she gets to Prady who is still waiting in CTU to talk to Hastings – and she kills him by strangling him. Lucky for her that the air vents or removable wall panels in CTU are all at floor level AND they are big enough so she can hide Prady’s big body behind one. It is amazing how easily she gets it in there. But - wait for it – the big reveal comes when Dana places a call and tells someone that "It's me, CTU is back online." We see that she is speaking to none other than Samir. She adds she has been busy preserving her cover and tells him she'll call him in a few minutes. Samir, while his men load the rods, tells her he's going to need some help getting clear of CTU surveillance.

Let's not forget that while Jack was trying to create a diversion for Cole, Jack gets shot, and, while Samir makes his escape, the authorities arrive AND so does Renee. I am amazed at how quickly Renee was able to get to Jack, she must have her own personal warp drive.

Yes, CTU proves again that they have learned NOTHING over the years, its agents either being incredibly stupid, incredibly rude, or are secret agents who have infiltrated CTU operations. Some counter-terrorist group! They can’t even protect themselves. I’ve now come to the conclusion that I hope that this is the final year for “24” because I simply don’t think there are any more dumb people and traitors that they can hire a CTU. “24” has not only jumped the shark, it’s going down with it.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Discovery “Life” Commercial Laden, Sleep Inducing

Photo from Discovery "Life"
Last night, Discovery premiered an 11-part series called ”Life” which takes a look at the various life forms that inhabit planet earth. It will dedicate an hour to each one of the major life forms (the listing and episode schedule is below). To make sure you didn’t miss the show, Discovery also aired the show on several other channels – I think I saw it on four other cable channels. With such coverage, I was expecting something that would knock my socks off. Maybe I’ve watched too many nature shows in my life, but there were few things that really wowed me. I watched the first hour but admit that sleep began to take over part way through the second. It was as if someone had turned on one of those white noise machines that help lull people to sleep. Consider this show the equivalent of white noise for the eyes.

Part of the problem with the premiere episodes is that the segments seemed to be clumsily connected, making the transitions between each subject matter feel choppy. This is the same issue that, in my opinion, made Discovery’s previous big nature series “Planet Earth” a disjointed show, or a series of interesting vignettes that didn’t seem to make the earth seem like a cohesive, connected planet at all.

The real travesty with “Life” is that it was horribly clogged with commercials. It seemed that the show was nearly 20 minutes of commercials; it may not have really been that much but it certainly felt that way. Maybe that was by design. With the calm voice of Oprah Winfrey as narrator against the backdrop of nature, they needed the blare of a commercial in order to wake up viewers. The frequent commercials only made the show seem choppier. While there were a few scenes that I found interesting – for example the bottlenose dolphins who learned how to corral fish and cause the fish to jump into the dolphin’s waiting mouths – this really is only an average nature show that just happens to be filmed in HD and/or sometimes super slow motion. Nature addicts will probably not want to miss this series, but nature fans and average nature lovers probably would not miss much if they passed on “Life.”

“Life” Episode listing, all times Eastern/Pacific (Check or verify your local listings)

March 21 8PM Challenges of Life
March 21 9PM Reptiles and Amphibians
March 28 8PM Mammals
March 28 9PM Fish
April 4 8PM Birds
April 4 9PM Creatures of the Deep
April 11 8PM Hunters and Hunted
April 11 9PM Insects
April 18 8PM Plants
April 18 9PM Primates
April 18 10PM Making of Life

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lost “Recon” Recap & Review

Photo from ABC

The episode of Lost “Recon” put Sawyer (Josh Holloway) in the spotlight, with a peek into the alternate life of James Ford, who is a cop, something that couldn’t be more opposite from Sawyer’s history that we already know. It was a rather dull episode, so dull that it could be easily summarized into long sentences. Take a deep breath before reading:

Sawyer, in the other timeline, is James Ford, cop, and his work partner is Miles (Ken Leung) who sets up blind date with Charlotte (Rebecca Mader) who, after a romp with finds a secret folder in James’ drawer while looking for a t-shirt (she could have been snooping doing her own recon) rather than put on her own clothes and James gets pissed and throws her out then Miles finds James was really in Australia and Miles has a hissy fit about James’ lie and they make up when James tells him he is really looking for the man responsible for his father killing his mom and while doing so they catch up with Kate (Evangeline Lilly) who is fleeing the police….(catch your breath)


Locke (Terry O'Quinn) - who is really not Locke but that what we will call him anyway - admits to Sawyer he is the smoke monster and sends Sawyer to the other island to do recon and report back because Sawyer is a good liar and Sawyer does so and finds the plane that Locke said he wanted but also falls into a trap and gets taken by Zoe (Sheila Kelley) - who looked like Tina Fey - to a sub (with a double-secret locked room) with Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) on it and Sawyer entices Widmore with the hopes of double-crossing Locke and bringing him to Widmore so Widmore can kill Locke and Sawyer goes back to the Island and admits to Locke that he lied to Widmore but really Sawyer lied to Locke too and he tells Kate that he can’t fly that plane off the island but he can take Wilmore’s sub and I wonder where he learned to do that….WHEW!

Oh yeah, Locke has mommy issues and he tells Kate that Claire (Emilie de Ravin) is batshit crazy just like his own mother and she screwed up his life.

After watching the episode I wasn’t quite sure what I learned from it, since we already know that Sawyer is a good liar; that Widmore has motives and so does Locke; and Claire is crazy over her son Aaron being taken away from her. I was mildly confused by seeing even more people that I didn’t recognize (the sub people) and wondered how many more irrelevant new people can this show cram in every week? I’m already confused at times with the people already there. Getting lost (no pun intended) in the shuffle was Charlie’s brother looking for him at the police station; the book “Watership Down” on James’ dresser, a book which was also on the Island; and the fact that James watched “Little House on The Prairie” which was just plain weird. I find that I almost do not care about all these little tidbits of information being thrown about, as I really don’t like having to keep track of all these little details in my head while I am trying to be entertained. This episode seemed to be a lot of fill and not much substance, and it left me sleepy rather than excited for more.

Are viewers setting up for a battle between Charles Widmore and Locke, and is this going to be the proverbial “good vs. evil” or “day vs. night” or “black vs. white” battle to end all battles? After watching this episode, I find myself no closer to having a clue as to what will happen next.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

House “Blackhole “Recap & Review: Sometimes an Organ is Just an Organ

Photo from Fox

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an episode of House (Hugh Laurie) where the patient’s story kept me interested, and “Blackhole” was a nice break from the usual patient ennui. While the outcome of the case became somewhat obvious midway during the episode, it was a wild and interesting ride getting there, filled with visually interesting hallucinations. Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is also being forced by House to find himself through the task of picking out furniture, something far more entertaining that the usual drivel that we get from the ever annoying Dr. Cuddy (thankfully with a minimal role in this episode). OK, it’s obvious that I prefer the stories of House and Wilson over episodes dealing with Dr. Cuddy, maybe that’s because it’s far more interesting to watch House and Wilson discover each other's inner selves than anyone else on the show. One thing we discover in this episode comes at the very end, when Wilson seems to make it clear that he knows more about what House wants than what he wants. It also shows that Wilson still seems intent on pleasing other people, and maybe he really is the doormat that House says he is. I have to wonder, though, if there was any symbolism in the fact that Wilson gave House an organ? I suppose that since Wilson already gave an organ (a part of his liver) to another friend, this was just his way of giving his friend House the only other – ahem – organ he could give? Then a again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes an organ is just an organ.

A little draggy on the episode was the plight of Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson) who tries to convince his suspicious wife that he’s not having an affair. To make a long story short, he parrots something that he sees the patient’s boyfriend doing, and this seems to work with his own wife. House, however, may be wondering if Taub really is dedicated to his wife when Taub immediately seems to fall into an old pattern of flirting. One minor flaw was when Taub gave medical information on a patient when he clearly had no idea if the people he was talking to were relatives who were authorized to get this information. Something about Taub in this episode made me dislike him a lot – not only did he seem sloppy with protocol in this case, but he seemed more interested in covering his ass with his wife than worrying about his job.

The only other issue I had with the episode was the use of what seems like more “science fiction” than actual science when they attempted to see what the patient’s brain was seeing. I doubt that there is anything even in the experimental stage that does this.

The patient in this episode is a high school girl, Abby (Cali Fredrichs) who, while watching a show in a planetarium with her boyfriend (in an opening scene reminiscent of the film “Contact”) and sipping vodka, she becomes catatonic and begins to froth at the mouth. She’s taken to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital for evaluation by House and his staff. House is at home, with Wilson nagging him about leaving his toast with jelly right on the couch. This begins the battle over choosing furniture, which House thinks Wilson is ill equipped to do. House wants Wilson to pick some furniture on his own or “admit you’re empty inside”

The staff works on the patient, well, all but Taub, who lied about being late to work because of a flat tire so he can placate his wife, who has concerns about their relationship. I am quickly bored. Later Taub tries to get advice from his co-workers, who try to avoid the discussion like the plague.

Of course, they poke and prod and scan the patient like normal – even testing her boyfriend Nick’s (Nick Eversman) sperm to see if she is allergic – with no real answers. The patient begins to have very weird hallucinations, some while she is having the MRI when she gets sucked into a black hole, another when she is in her hospital room. Something about these hallucinations make me wonder about her boyfriend’s father, I don’t recall exactly what it was but the thought was there nonetheless. I think it was when the patient heard herself, as a little girl, tell herself that he has a secret and it is killing her.

Meanwhile, the furniture battle goes on and despite the fact that House comes home to a beautifully furnished place, he is on to Wilson and finds that the stuff is all rented and House has it returned. He admits to this under the glaring eye of Wilson, but Wilson also admits that he had a rental company just bring it in.

House decides he wants to have the patient undergo a Cognitive Pattern Recognition test but Foreman wants to try traditional methods first, since the Cognitive test is experimental. Eventually they have to go forward with House’s suggestion, and she goes through the test. As I mentioned earlier, I think this test was more science fiction than actual science, after all, I highly doubt that during any test like that a person could actually see an image of what the person was imagining in their brain. It’s here where we can see her mental images of stars in the sky, but I also see a flash of what looks like Nick’s father, Artie (Dennis Boutsikaris) and I am pretty sure I know where this episode is going. The doctor’s think they are seeing the patient’s father, who is long dead.

Meanwhile, Wilson struggles with buying furniture and realizes he is a complete loser at it. When he goes to Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) for help, she blows him off and gives him the name of a decorator.

Despite all the tests on Abby, they are coming up with nothing, Foreman wonders about a parasite but House disagrees, since Abby does not travel. With all Abby’s systems failing, House, in a rare admission, says he has nothing. But he gets his epiphany while talking with Taub discussing whether Taub is or isn’t having an affair, and House realizes that Nick’s dad, who is a world traveler, may be the man in her visions and may have passed the parasite along to her via his semen. He confronts Artie about it, and, with Nick and Abby’s mom present, is forced to admit he did indeed have sex with Abby while she and Nick were on the outs. I have a major case of the "eeeewwwws" at this point, even though I knew that was coming.

When House gets home, he sees Wilson has the place furnished again, and gives him a hassle because he believes Wilson had help. Wilson points out a large covered object in one area of the room, and it’s the one item that Wilson really did pick out himself. When House uncovers it, he finds it’s an organ, and House, tickled pink to see it, begins to play as we hear also the Procol Harum song “Whiter Shade of Pale” playing. It’s interesting that the one think that Wilson picked out was not something for him, but something to make his best buddy happy.

Of course, back at the hospital, House ends the episode with a skeptical eye as he sees Taub apparently going back to his flirting and/or philandering ways. And I find that I still don’t care what Taub is doing, I’d rather watch House/Hugh Laurie play that organ = the musical instrument, to be specific.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost “Dr. Linus “ Recap & Review

Photo from ABC

Lost lost some momentum with this mostly dull episode which focused on the story of Ben Linus (Michael Emerson). While Michael Emerson is a fine actor and is excellent in the role of Ben Linus, Ben has never been one of my favorite characters in the show, maybe because he is the one that I have come to trust the least. The episode covers Ben’s “present” time on the Island, along with his “other” time as a school teacher who has a doctorate in history. It also covered a secondary story with Jack (Matthew Fox), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell ), and somehow this story never seemed to fit in well with Ben’s story and it made the episode seem very disjointed or choppy. We also see that Alex (Tania Raymonde), while dead on the Island, is alive and well in Ben’s life as one of Ben’s star students.

But the glimpse into Ben’s alternate life really didn’t offer much except the fact that the mousy and apparent mild mannered school teacher has a nasty streak in him when he plans to overthrow the principal and take over his job, behavior not too much different that the Ben Linus we know from the Island. I was far more interested in the story of Richard Alpert and the fact that both he and Jack seemed immune to death – at least for now –possibly until their final purpose in this who plan is revealed.

Here’s what happened:
We picked up the action from the previous week where everyone was fleeing the smoke monster who killed everyone left at the temple. Ben runs in to Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson), Sun (Yunjin Kim), Frank (Jeff Fahey), and Miles (Ken Leung) and tells them that Sayid killed Dogen and his interpreter, and they decide to let him tag along as they head back to the beach for safety.

But in Ben’s life as a school teacher, he is teaching a history class about an island where everything changed called “Elba”, where Napoleon faced his greatest test and said when Napoleon lost his power, "he might as well have been dead." This seems to be symbolic of the tests that Ben himself would face not only in his life as a teacher, but on the Island as well. When he gets assigned the task of supervising detention by the creepy Principal Reynolds, Ben decides to take control. Getting a little encouragement from substitute teacher John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), Ben looks to stage a coup and overthrow the principal. Ben also is seen tending to his ailing father Roger, who looks much older than when we last saw him on the Island. Surprisingly, Roger makes references to their time on the Island with “that damned Dharma Initiative,” Roger lamenting how things could have been different, and wonders what Ben would have become. When the doorbell rings, Ben opens it to see Alex there, and she appears to be his star history pupil, and she needs his tutoring help. The next day, when he helps her with test preparations, he gives her much encouragement for her to get into Yale, but she is skeptical, thinking it doubtful that the principal will give her the glowing letter of recommendation she needs. She also gives Ben some juicy details about the Reynolds having a little fling with the school nurse, and you can see the plan hatching in Ben’s head, despite the fact he promised Alex he wouldn’t say anything.

Meanwhile, back on the Island, Ilana had Miles get his usual vibes off Jacob’s remains, and Miles tells everyone that it was Ben who killed Jacob. This turns Ilana against Ben, and she later forces him to dig his own grave, and she intends to kill him. We also find that Ilana knows that “Kwon” is on of the names on the list of people who she is supposed to protect, and says she isn’t sure if it Sun, or Jin, or both, that she must protect, saying there are only 6 people left on that list.

In another area on the island, Jack and Hurley are trying to find their way to the temple, and Hurley clearly is stalling, trying to keep Jack from there. When they run into Richard, he tells them he will take them there, but instead takes them to Black Rock. It’s there where Richard tells them that he has been around for a long long time, he can’t die and can’t kill himself. He devoted his whole existence to Jacob and now Jacob is dead and his reason for doing all of it now is gone and he has no purpose. He tries to get Jack to light a fuse on some dynamite, and Jack does so, but Jack also believes that he will not die from it either. Jack explains to Richard about the lighthouse and his name being etched on the wheel and seeing his house in the mirror, and knows that he has been watched since he was a kid. He knows he is on the Island for a reason, and it wasn’t to be blown up sitting next to Richard. Richard is a bit shocked and Jack gleefully relieved that the fuse goes out just about an inch before it reached the dynamite. Clearly, there are still plans for both of them, and Jack tells Richard they will go back to where they started.

While Ben is digging his own grave on the island, back in his other life, he has convinced a fellow teacher to hack Reynolds’ emails and Ben confronts Reynolds with the incriminating evidence of Reynolds’ behavior, telling Reynolds he wants him to resign and appoint Ben as his replacement. But Reynolds trumps Ben and shows him the glowing letter he was planning on writing about Alex, which would not happen if Ben wants Reynolds to follow through on resigning. We later find that Ben chose the option where Alex gets her wish and gets the glowing letter of recommendation to Yale from Reynolds, and Ben is back being a plain old teacher.

On the Island, Ben is given a chance to save himself when Locke approaches him, who magically unlocks Ben’s chains which are restraining him, and tells him where there is a gun, and all Ben had to do was be a part of his group. Ben takes off into the jungle and Ilana races to follow, meeting up with Ben who is pointing the gun he found at her. But rather than shoot her, he spills his guts about what he is feeling, saying he watched his daughter die because he chose the Island over her, and he did it "all in the name of Jacob, I sacrificed everything for him, and he didn't even care." He admitted he killed Jacob because he was afraid of losing power, but that all that really mattered is gone now. He tells her he will just go to Locke, as “he's the only one that'll have me." Ilana surprised him and says she'd have him, and as she turns and walks away, he follows her back to the beach. There, he begins to help Sun work on a shelter.

While setting up camp on the beach, the group is happy to see Jack and Hurley arrive, along with Richard. While Jack and Hurley are greeted with hugs, Richard stands back and watches. What they don’t know is out in the ocean, a submarine has raised its periscope with its sights on the beach, a crew member reporting that there are people there. The man hearing this news is none other than Charles Widmore, who closes the episode when he tells them to "proceed as planned."

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

House “Private Lives“ Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

It’s all about things that people like to keep private in this episode of House(Fox) “Private Lives”. This episode was one of the more enjoyable episodes of the season, maybe because it included very little Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and her usual annoying drama. The episode featured a lot of humor that made me laugh openly, you know, those good laughs that you can feel all over. The scenes with Wilson as an unwitting star in a porn film was thoroughly enjoyable, and seemed to be a joke that kept on giving throughout the episode. What I also found interesting is that we may be seeing House as he really is, off the drugs, trying to solve the mystery of who he really is and what makes him tick. It is as if House is going through a process of diagnosis on his own psyche, and House’s psyche is what drew me to this series to begin with – not the patients, not Dr. Cuddy, not his staff. This was a great episode that only risked derailing once – when House asks Cuddy if she wants to make out. I was hoping to get through at least one episode without having that storyline inserted. All in all, I found myself glued to the screen the entire time, patient of the week and all.

Here’s what happened:
The patient of the week finds her way to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital and House’s (Hugh Laurie) team by her sudden bruising and bleeding. She’s a blogger who keeps her entire life out in the forefront by reporting every single move she makes. To make a long story short – I like to do that with the patients because I don’t usually develop any attachment to them – it’s a fact that she leave OUT of her obsessive blogging that helps cure her case. In fact, she goes from having only days to live to having a promising prognosis. So, I suppose that even people who blog compulsively about the minutia of their lives likes to keep their privacy about certain things, in the patient’s case, she doesn’t discuss her bowel movements.

But a friendly battle begins between House and Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) when House resurrects a porn film which Wilson claims he appeared in inadvertently, an old buddy of him using old film footage of him and inserting it into the film. House of course endless needles Wilson on the issue, spreading the information to just about anyone on the staff he can, and hanging up posters from the film in Wilson’s own office.

At the same time, Wilson has also roped House into coming on a speed dating session with him, and Wilson also brings along Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer). A friendly bet ensues where House things that Chase can pick up tons of women at the event, even if he drops the accent and acts like a jerk. At the end of the night, House and Wilson only get what looks like one person interested apiece, while Chase gets a handful. Chase spends the rest of the episode trying to deal with the fact that he’s cute. I find myself wishing he will not hook up with Thirteen (Olivia Wilde).

Wilson, however, decides to get back at House for exposing his film past by trying to expose something that House doesn’t want revealed. With the help of Chase, they discover that a book that House appears to be reading is not what it seems, as House is using another book’s dust jacket to cover up the real name of the book. When Wilson and Chase dig through House’s office, they find the book and discover it is collection of sermons written by a Unitarian minister. Wilson quickly takes the book and tells Chase not to mention it to anyone, making Chase wonder what Wilson is up to. Later Wilson confronts House about why he is reading a book of sermons, and House makes excuses, for example, by saying his therapist told him to head it. Wilson is not buying it, wondering if House is in pain or worse yet, back on his Vicodin. House asks him to trust him, a clear sign he wants Wilson to drop it. And for once, I find that I trust House in this case.

But Chase manages to get a copies of the book for House’s team, and House seem surprised when Chase says he talked to the man to get extra copies of the out-of-print book, House asking Chase if he mentioned him during the call. Later, Wilson realizes that the author is House’s biological father, and confronts House as to why he is reading the book rather than contacting the man himself, seeing that House seems to think religious things are “crap.” It’s the word “crap” that points House to realizing that the clues to the patient of the week lies in her own crap. Literally.

Later, as they leave for the day, Wilson tells House that House wasn’t simply reading the book, he was studying it, as if he wanted to see how the writer's head worked. He also comments that House is not ordinary, he’s out on the "fringe,” commenting that “I’m your best friend and half the time I don’t understand you.” Wilson wonders if House was trying to find out if was someone else out there like him and asks if he found anything. House tells him underneath the god stuff there is just – more god stuff. It seems that for now, House won’t get the answers he needs from reading that book.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Southland “Phase Three” Recap & Review

Photo from TNT

As I was watching a new episode of Law & Order on NBC on Monday, I had a nice laugh when I saw TNT airing a commercial for ”Southland”. It was almost as if TNT was rubbing it in that NBC decided to drop Southland in order to make room for Jay Leno at 10:00, a move which failed NBC miserably. But TNT - you know, the “we know drama” network - knows drama when they see it, and they picked up Southland. The first new episode of Southland on TNT, “Phase Three” certainly delivered the drama. If you are used to cop shows with lots of glitz and special effects (think the CSI franchise), then Southland may be a shock for you. But, if you like your crime dramas a little more on the realistic side (think the Law & Order franchise, but much more tense and tight) then Southland is right up your alley. Even if you had never seen an episode of Southland before, “Phase Three” did a fine job in establishing the key players and make viewers want to see more of them, and even care for them.

Things are a little unsettled not only in the city but with the Southland police force. Gang violence is rising, and the authorities have declared war on it. The episode opens with Office Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) in the middle of a brewing riot, and then promptly goes back a little to bring viewers up to speed on just how he got there. It’s not a straight line trip.

Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) finds that she has a new partner, as Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott) is recovering from being shot, and it is a slow go. She meets her new partner, Detective Cordero (Amaury Nolaso) when she finds him cleaning off Clarke’s desk. He is constantly trying to charm her and it is only annoying her. She wants her old partner back. She snips at Cordero the whole time they work the case of a missing elderly man, Cordero at first wanting to hand the case over to missing persons, then later, wants to take the matter to local TV. Lucky for them both that Adams kept the case AND Cordero got his TV coverage, as it helped net the man who robbed, abducted, and left the man for dead. Adams also finds out that Cordero asked to work with her, and got his way because he has “connections.”

Interestingly enough, Officers Sherman and John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) had already encountered that same man that Adams and Cordero were tracking. Earlier in their day, Cooper cited him for an open container. The man admitted he was on parole and was concerned this would mess that up, but it seems that he had walked out of his drug treatment facility and failed to return. The super-cranky Cooper is all over Sherman while he lets Sherman drive the patrol car, making sarcastic comments about Sherman because Sherman comes from a cushy background. Sherman has to see the captain at the end of the day to get signed off on phase two of his training so he can move along to phase three, and it seems that everything Sherman does or doesn’t do grates on Cooper. Since Cooper is hiding an addiction to pain killers, he’s likely testy because of that, but Sherman seems to think it’s just Coopers back that is bothering him.

Cooper is also annoyed at Officer Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis) because her partner Dewey went off the deep end in an embarrassing stunt with his squad car that ended up being videotaped and put on the internet for the world to see. Cooper believes that Chickie knew Dewey had a problem for a long time and did nothing to help him until it was too late. Cooper tells Sherman that when you know your partner is in trouble, you help him. This sounds like a veiled cry for help from Cooper himself, and hopefully Sherman will see the signs soon before Cooper gets even deeper into drug dependency. Chickie, meanwhile, seems to have a slob of a new partner. He eats on the job and has her drive him to pick up his dry cleaning. Later, when they see a car being driven in a suspicious manner, they try to stop it, but the driver doesn’t seem to be cooperating. When it seems the car finally is stopping, a crowd of people have gathered and as Chickie tries to get the driver to step out of the car. Things don’t go as planned and her partner shoots at the driver, who I think was underage. The crowd erupts and a near riot ensures, her partner heading for the safety of the car and also to get help, leaving Chickie out there to try to battle the heated crowd of people who angry that a cop shot at the car. Sherman and Cooper hear the distress call, and quickly find themselves under attack when they arrive. Sherman gets Chickie, her partner, and the driver in his car while Cooper manages to get to Chickie’s patrol car to drive it out of there. Later, Chickie really doesn’t want to talk about the incident with Cooper, but she does thank him and Sherman for their help.

Earlier in the episode, there was also a very dramatic shooting which appears to be gang and/or drug related. Detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) catch the case, which leads them straight into an undercover operation, and someone that Moretta knows is heading the case. Moretta wants to get a piece of that action, and maybe it’s just me, but Bryant seemed a little reluctant.

At the end of the episode, Adams is visiting Clarke in the hospital, and he tells her he was the one who asked for his desk to be cleaned out. When he says he is tired, she makes a quick exit, and then proceeds to cry in the hall, likely with the realization that Clarke will not be coming back any time soon. I hope he will, because I really liked Clarke and likewise Tom Everett Scott. But, Clarke’s injuries have clearly taken a toll, and Adams may just have to learn to cope with Cordero for a lot longer.

A great episode all around, lots of action, lots of drama, lots of interesting characters. You can’t avoid being sucked in. And, a big thanks to TNT, who aired the episode twice so there is no excuse to miss it.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.