Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“Men of a Certain Age” TNT Promo Recaps Season 1

TNT has released a video promo (below) which recaps the first season of “Men of a Certain Age", starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, and Emmy nominee Andre Braugher. The series returns for its second season Monday, Dec. 6, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). I think the show is highly enjoyable. If you haven’t watched it yet, catch up with the video below and tune in on December 6!

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

House “Unplanned Parenthood” Recap & Review

All photos from Fox

The transition is complete for House (Fox) from what used to be a drama, which then became a dramedy, and now appears to be a full-blown comedy show with House as head clown. I have to admit that I did laugh quite a few times during this episode, but I also lost interest a little too quickly in the patient of the week, Abbey, being played by an unrecognizable Jennifer Grey. (I still can’t get used to her “new” nose.)

It seems that Abbey had a baby who immediately experiences problems at birth. The staff tries to work through the case, their first hurdle is that House (Hugh Laurie) immediately fires the female doctor that Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) hired without her even getting a chance to give input. House then dispatches Dr. Taub (Peter Jacobson) to do the hiring, and Taub seems set on the very capable Dr. Cheng (Keiko Agena). Even House seems to find her a credible candidate. But when Taub acts wimpy about hiring her, she turns him down flat when he finally does get around to making the offer because Taub acted like "a paranoid scared little kid." The doctors find that Abbey has two forms of cancer, and her lung cancer is actually helping her battle her melanoma, the latter already being passed along to the baby in utero. Abbey’s blood can help the baby survive so rather than go through chemo, Abbey decides to continue with transfusing her blood to the baby, a process which later causes an embolism and Abbey’s death.

But this is all a backdrop for House’s latest problem – Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) needs a babysitter and, using her cleavage and tempting House with the promise of sex, she gets him to watch Rachel (played by Kayla Colbert & Rylie Colbert) for the evening while she attends a board meeting. It’s an act of desperation as she can’t get her normal sitter. House finally agrees and when he seems to tire of the process, he calls Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) over and has every intention of dumping Rachel on Wilson so House would be free to leave. Wilson calls his bluff, and before you know it, both of them are back watching Rachel. The problem is that while they were outside both trying to leave, Rachel made a mess of the food that House and Wilson left out, and worse yet, it appears she’s eaten some of the coins that Wilson got in change when he brought over some Chinese food.

House and Wilson do everything to determine what she ate, and believe, based on the Chinese food bill, there is a dime in change unaccounted for. They sneak her into the hospital to do an ultrasound and Wilson is sure he sees a dime. They later try laxatives to get the dime to pass with no luck. House even creates a diversion which causes Cuddy to have to work one more evening so House can continue to tend Rachel and make sure that she passes the dime. But when Wilson realizes that House ordered an extra item with their original carryout Chinese food, they recalculate the change and think there was no extra dime for Rachel to swallow. Later, House seems relieved and satisfied in bed with Cuddy, until Rachel makes a slight noise and Cuddy races to check on her, and finds that Rachel has a dime in her diaper. I found it odd that Cuddy would feel the need to race to Rachel when the sound Rachel made was so slight. Rachel is quick to point the finger at House when Cuddy wonders how she could have eaten a dime.

The episode did have a few worthwhile chuckles, but as far as the medical end of the show, it was completely devoid of drama. As House continues to be domesticated by Cuddy, he’s getting a funnier side, but his edginess is disappearing. It’s nice to see a happy and apparently healthy House, but I lament the disappearance of a character who always seemed to be on the cusp of disaster. The medical cases are also failing to engage. The show is going through the motions, and I feel that I too am going through the motions in watching it. Hugh Laurie still does a fine job in his role and without him this show would be nothing. Still, I would think it would be far better if they gave him something more than just being the hospital clown.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mad Men “Tomorrowland” Recap & Review: Dull, or Genius?

All photos from AMC

It was either the dullest Mad Men of the season, or the episode was genius. It was dull as viewers likely expected some big, earth shattering event – like a suicide or a death of a major character. Instead, we find that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has decided to get married to his secretary, Megan (Jessica Paré), something that wasn’t all that usual in that day, in fact it was almost expected. And that is the genius part of the episode – I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for something gut wrenching to happen and it never did. The whole season seemed to be building up to a shocking, dramatic ending and many viewers sat through the episode waiting for it, the anticipation only getting greater as the clock ticked away. The big event: Don, a guy who finds it nearly impossible to keep it in his pants, decides to tie the knot and this will likely cause a whole host of new problems next season. A happy Don Draper is a complete 180 degree swing from the Don Draper that we saw sobbing at his desk after hearing that Anna had died, and it is nice that he seems to have found someone who makes him feel truly good. We can only wait to see how long that will last.

Don’s big decision comes after spending time with his three children in California where they visit Disneyland. Betty (January Jones) has fired the maid/nanny Carla (Deborah Lacey) because she allowed Glen to say his goodbyes to Sally (Kiernan Shipka). This means Don no longer has Carla to take with him to watch the kids while on the trip. Lucky for Don, his secretary Megan was ready and willing to take her place. It was plain to see the writing on the wall when Megan comes into Don’s room to let him know she’s going out with a female friend to the Whiskey A Go-Go, and she is in a spectacular dress and looks fabulous. I think Don's eyes would have popped out of his head had his kids not been there. He also sees she has a wonderful way with the kids. He later takes the kids to visit Anna Draper’s home, and sees the "Dick + Anna '64" message he painted on the wall, admitting to Sally that Dick is a nickname. There, he is given the diamond ring the real Don Draper gave to Anna. You can see that the gears are working in his head.

Meanwhile, back at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) gets a lead on a possible account in Topaz pantyhose. She and Ken (Aaron Staton) work to land the account, which they later get because Peggy has a good understanding of the product and how women use it. By the way, earlier in the episode, the SCDP partners approach Ken about leveraging his father in law to help them get the Dow Chemical account, and Ken flatly refuses, somehow trying to give them the impression it’s not like him to take that low road.

Back home at the Francis household, Henry (Christopher Stanley) has heard about Betty's firing pf Carla from Carla, who tells him Betty refused a letter of recommendation. Henry has a beer in his hand and clearly looks like he’s already had a few. (Betty is an expert in driving men to drink.) Betty's rationale is that she "...wanted a fresh start" but Henry is irate, saying "There is no fresh start…lives carry on.” It may be a sign that while the season is over and that people may expect a fresh start next season, things will likely be the same for everyone, especially Don, who seems to be looking at his upcoming marriage as a new, and clean, beginning.

Lane (Jared Harris) promotes Joan (Christina Hendricks) to Director of Agency Operations, but there is no money for a raise at that time. She says, "Well, it's almost an honor," and goes back to delivering mail, something she must do since most of the office seems to have been fired to keep down costs. Later, we hear her talking to her husband Greg (Sam Page) via phone and is telling him she is pregnant. Oh boy, is Roger in for a surprise; it seems Joan didn’t really get that abortion.

Back in California, Don leaves the kids in the hotel room alone and heads over to Megan’s room. (I kept waiting for something bad to happen to one of those kids while they were alone in the room, but nothing did.) When Don and Megan spend the night, it’s clear that she has him on the ropes. I laughed when Megan was clearly self-conscious about her teeth and Don was not bothered by them at all, seeing that some fans of the show have made Megan’s teeth a point of ridicule. Don is roped in even further when, in a restaurant, Sally knocks over a milkshake and spills it. Don’s response is to get angry, and Megan stays cool and calm and quickly handles the matter. She’s got him now, hook, line, and sinker.

When they return home and after Megan spends the night at Don’s place, he asks her to marry him, the ring that the real Don Draper gave to Anna serving as the engagement ring. She seem speechless at first but then quickly agrees. I find myself getting more suspicions that he played right into Megan’s master manipulations, and his desire to be happy and to have someone love the kids has clouded his judgment.
When he gets to the office the next day, he gives the news to a stunned Roger (John Slattery), Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), Lane, and Joan. He later gives the news to a shocked Peggy, who came in to tell him he landed the Topaz account. Don tells Peggy that Megan has the same “spark” as Peggy, and that Megan admires Peggy as much as he does. Later, Peggy and Joan bemoan the developments: Peggy has a new client yet her news was overshadowed by Don’s engagement and Joan tells her she got a promotion – in title only. The both share a laugh over it.

But Don’s not laughing, as now he has to give Faye (Cara Buono) the news that he has found someone and is engaged. Faye is clearly devastated by this news, and tells Don that she hopes his fiancée knows he only likes “the beginnings of things” before she slams down the phone.

Later, Don stops by the empty Ossining house in order to meet with his real estate agent, and sees Betty there getting a box of items that were left behind. They share some memories about the house, and Betty adds "things aren't perfect" at the new home. She seems shocked when he tells her about his engagement to Megan, and then gives him gracious congratulations and also the Ossining house key.

As the episode closes, back in his apartment, Megan sleeps as Don lies awake, staring out the window.

While the episode was anticlimactic, Don’s impulsive engagement to Megan may have more serious repercussions than he thinks. Faye knows who he really is, and will her anger over his impending marriage cause her to use that information against him? Is Megan as harmless as she seems, or is she using Don as a means to an end? Will his marriage make his life more stable and help Don to purge himself of his demons and his past, or is he just buying himself a little happy time? Did Don have subconscious reservations about Faye, a career woman who seemed uncomfortable - and useless - with his kids, and did he not want to get into a relationship with another cold fish like Betty? Was Faye getting fired from her job and her telling him they were now free to have an open relationship the thing that made him feel like he was not in control of the relationship and being pressure by her? Was Megan just in the right place at the right time, the person that Don could feel like he could control and would be a wife to him and a better role model as a mother for his children than Betty? Or, does Megan have a master plan all her own and is she using Don? Have he and Betty finally buried the hatchet? Has Don really learned from all his past mistakes, and does he genuinely want to change his drinking and philandering ways in order to settle down? Has Don found his own version of Tomorrowland or, like Disneyland, is he just in a life that can only work in a fantasy? Don staring out the window at the end of the episode gives me the feeling that he’s still unsure. And that’s the genius of the episode. Even with no real shocking dramatic event taking place, we are still left with more questions than answers, and still find ourselves, like Don, roped in for more.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fringe “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”

All photos from Fox

Fringe (Fox) “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?” had viewers back in the “normal” universe, but it still felt different. The episode didn’t have the usual suspense but it should be enough to hold fans while they wait until new episodes return in November (after baseball playoffs). Shapeshifters were causing all the trouble in this episode, and one of them – Newton – delivers a stern warning to a hard-headed Olivia, who seems to think she has everything under control.

Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) – who is really the alternate Olivia - and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) seem to be moving their relationship to a new level. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is having some fun as the new sole owner of Massive Dynamic – the fun part aided by the fact that he’s tripping on LSD. Things take a serious turn when Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) hears that Senator Van Horn has been in a car accident (a visual sure to make viewers feel like they were jolted themselves) and is in the hospital. Van Horn has no pulse but is breathing. Broyles, acquinted with Van Horn’s wife Patricia, helps to support her while the doctors work to save him. Thomas Jerome Newton (Sebastian Roché) comes in and tries to steal the body, shooting many people in his way. Broyles tries to stop him and Newton can’t get away with the body so he shoots Van Horn and makes a quick exit. We can see that Van Horn is bleeding mercury – he’s a shapeshifter.

This news rocks the Fringe team and Broyles, who has known Van Horn for a long time and wonders when the switch was made and how much Van Horn knows about what Fringe is doing. Peter finds that Van Horn had files on all of them. Peter and Olivia are working the case, and Walter is working on reanimating the body in his new high tech lab at Massive dynamic. Newton is planning to get the body back. He’s also not happy with how Olivia is handling everything and thinks she is in over her head. He also warns her that Peter has doubts about her, maybe on a subconscious level but that likely Peter has noticed things are different with her. Van Horn also knew about the alternate Olivia and Newton and Olivia must make sure Walter can’t revive Van Horn.

Newton activates another shapeshifter, Ray, who has been living a normal life with a wife and family. Newton orders him to shapeshift into someone who can get into the lab and get the shapeshifting device – and then tells Ray he has to leave no trace at home. Ray seems torn, clearly happy in his new life. So he disregards Newton’s orders so he doesn’t kill his wife and son, and heads into Massive Dynamic as a security man.

Walter, meanwhile, is at Massive Dynamic and close to bringing enough life into Van Horn in order to find out what Van Horn knows. They enlist the aid of his wife Patricia, and she is able to get a response. Van Horn sits up and begins to rattle off numbers and places. His wife recognizes the information as their anniversary date and hotels where they were planning to stay to celebrate. They stop the test, and Olivia convinces them to all take a break – Newton has sent her a message to get everyone out of the lab. She needs them out of the lab so Ray can enter and get the shapeshifting device.

the problem is that Astrid (Jasika Nicole) – who Walter oddly calls her by her actual name Astrid and attributes it to him being on LSD – lets Walter head back to the lab alone. They don’t know that Walter has stepped into the elevator with Ray, the shapeshifter. Ray follows Walter to the lab and, shooting a guard, gets into the lab and gets the shapeshifting device out of Van Horn. Walter, not wanting the device to be lost, stabs Ray with a scalpel but Ray slams Walter against a beam, knocking him out.

When Peter realizes Walter is in the lab alone, he races there and steps into the elevator as Ray is stepping out. When Peter sees mercury on the elevator buttons, he knows it was a shapeshifter who just got out of the elevator and he stops the doors from closing. Olivia tells him to head up to Walter and she’ll go after the shapeshifter – of course she has no intention of doing so.

When Peter gets to the lab, he finds Walter down and out, but Walter comes to and Peter calls for medical help. Olivia returns and says she lost the shapeshifter. Peter works to get his identity from surveillance cameras.

Ray returns home and finds Newton waiting there. Newton is not happy that Ray went to the lab as his normal self, and then tells Ray he “took care” of his family, and when Ray reacts badly, Newton tells him he lied, he just wanted to see Ray’s reaction. Newton kills Ray and is putting the body in his trunk as Olivia and Peter drive up. Olivia shoots at the car and purposely misses. Newton wrecks his car in a tunnel and when Olivia catches up with the injured Newton, he gives her the shapeshifting device.

Afterwards, Newton is in a Federal Detention Center and Olivia comes to visit. He continues to question her ability. She hands him what looks like a computer chip, which Newton later ingests, killing himself.

Olivia texts Peter saying they need to talk. But when he gets to her place, she tells him she lied, she doesn’t want to talk – and she kisses him. Clearly she wants him to distract him into thinking she’s different but in a good way for Peter.

With Newton out of the way, Olivia now has free reign to run the operation as she sees fit. The problem is, does she know anyone else from the other side who is there to help her? With Olivia entering into a sexual relationship with Peter, is it enough to keep his mind away from the fact that he knows she’s different since she “came back” from the other side? And now, with Walter having full access to massive Dynamic and all its technology, will he still be the same Walter or will his mad scientist side return? How much did Van Horn know and how many more shapeshifters have infiltrated key positions? Were those words that Van Horn rattled off really what his wife thought? We’ll have to wait until the show returns with new episodes in November to begin to find out.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

House “Massage Therapy” Recap & Review

All photos from Fox

House and Cuddy’s relationship needs a little massaging in this episode of House (Fox), “Massage Therapy.” The episode was only passable, spending too much time on House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy's (Lisa Edelstein) relationship issues, superimposed on a story of an uninteresting patient. Also, the team also added a new doctor – Kelly Benedict – at Cuddy’s insistence, with Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer) doing the hiring, and House does his usual antagonistic routine with her and the staff. The episode did have entertaining moments, but the show seems to be devoid of the drama that made the series so popular in its early years and is becoming more like a light comedy.

The patient of the week is Margaret McPherson, who comes to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital because of severe vomiting and stomach pain. The staff, along with new Dr. Kelly, works to diagnose her problem, House taunting Chase about Kelly’s resemblance to Chase's mother and taunting Kelly about her suggested diagnoses. It’s the usual routine. The patient, however, is not who she seems, and appears that she has assumed another identity in order to conceal her schizophrenia from her husband, Bryce (Zachary Knighton). The diagnosis would have come sooner had House kept an open mind to Kelly’s suspicion that the woman is suffering from a mental disorder. Clearly House has trouble listening to anybody other than himself. It never ceases to amaze me that House, who is supposed to be one of the best diagnosticians in the country, continues to go into cases with a closed mind about his team, and is also often wrong more than once in an episode. The series seems more concerned with House’s personal relationships than it does about making House a credible expert diagnostician.

Dr. Kelly eventually quits at the end of the case, leaving her free to be with Chase, which is what House felt Chase wanted anyway. It’s what viewers figured too, so there was no drama here, either.

House and Cuddy are still going through growing pains from their relationship, with House waking up in bed alone because Cuddy doesn’t spend the night. But when House calls in his regular masseuse, who is also a hooker, Cuddy draws the line and demands he stop. His answer is to get her a male masseuse all of her own, and she is somewhat quick to strip naked for a stranger in her own office. Yes, sure, nothing like someone who is in charge of a hospital removing all her clothes for someone she doesn’t even know while she’s at work. I am convinced that Cuddy is a dumb as a post and doesn’t have respect for her position at the hospital. When she finds out the masseuse is a male (gay) hooker, she aborts the process and confronts House about it. He eventually caves and agrees to get rid of his hooker masseuse, and she agrees to have House spend some time at her place and with her daughter, Rachel, who chews on his cane. He thinks she’s adorable and it looks like House and Cuddy have overcome another hurdle.

It wasn’t a strong episode of House (Fox). The series does have very likeable characters and likeable stars that play them, but the show is running out of gas when it comes to creative ways of telling the same story every week.. I suppose that the relationship between House and Cuddy is supposed to be the draw; my problem is that these two have been doing the dance for so long that now they are doing the deed, the spark is gone. With House becoming more domesticated and more incorporated into Cuddy’s life, he’s become dull. I always wanted House to grow out of his drug addicted persona, but didn’t want him to become completely tame. House needs a new conflict and a new challenge to bring back the edginess that used to be his hallmark, and I don’t think it will come as long as he is in a relationship with Cuddy. The series is still entertaining – it’s just not compelling.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mad Men “Blowing Smoke” Recap & Review

All photos from AMC

Things seem to be unraveling fast for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The company, already on the brink of collapse, gets helped along by what the partners think is a reckless moved by Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Also, Don’s daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) seems to be coping with life at home, until her mother Betty (January Jones) decides it’s time for a big change. The episode is aptly named, as “blowing smoke” means to trick someone or obscure something so that the truth is not obvious or to cover a falsehood. It also means to make a statement that one knows can’t be backed up. Mad Men “Blowing Smoke” has Sally finding a way to play the role of the cooperative child in order to make things work, and Don finding a way to turn the loss of the company’s largest account, Lucky Strike, into something positive. Don’s action comes from an idea that may have been spawned by an off the cuff comment by Peggy which repeated one of Don’s own maxims: "If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the conversation." His move looks to mean certain failure for SCDP. Viewers, who have the advantage of knowing how the public will view tobacco over time, may see his action as a big leap forward for the company and not a jump off a cliff. This was an excellent episode that can only make viewers anxious for next week’s season finale.

With Sally, it looks like her counseling is having some positive effects, and she and her mother Betty seem to be getting along much better. Dr. Edna Keener (Patricia Bethune) tells Sally she is proud at how well Sally is coping, yet when Betty comes in for a progress report, Betty tells Keener that Sally is not better. Keener wants Betty to start seeing her own psychiatrist, and Betty resists the idea. Meanwhile, Sally continues to cement her friendship with neighborhood friend (and I think a stalker in the making) Glen Bishop (Marten Weiner). During one of the conversations she has with Glen, she tells him she doesn’t think there is a heaven, and doesn’t like the idea of doing something for eternity. She makes a very interesting observation about it, comparing eternity to the lady on the Land O Lakes box who is holding a box with a picture of herself holding a box which has the same picture on it, ad infinitum. This is a deep observation for such a young child; some may say it’s troubling that Sally doesn’t see anything positive in her life or death.

When Betty sees that it looks like Sally and Glen are going off to do something inappropriate, she chases Glen away and takes Sally home. When Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) comes home early for a rare dinner with the family, Betty announces that she doesn’t like the neighborhood anymore and wants to move. This makes Henry happy but causes Sally to run away from the table to cry in bed.

Meanwhile, Don Draper is trying to drum up business, and the meeting that Faye (Cara Buono) arranged with Heinz turns out to be a bust, as they want to wait 6 months before making any more to SCDP. Fyae’s boss Geoffrey Atherton (John Aylward) encourages SCDP to stick with what they do best – tobacco. He says he has an in to get them a meeting with Phillip Morris about a new women’s cigarette line – and this later falls through. They find that Philip Morris just used the threat of meeting to cut a better deal with someone else. It’s as if a pall of death is hanging over the company. Lane is working with the bank but each of the partners must come up with some money in order to help secure a bigger loan, but Pete doesn’t have the money and Trudy (Alison Brie) refuses to let her use any of theirs.

As he leaves for work, Don has what seems like a chance encounter with Midge Daniels (Rosemarie DeWitt), and he later finds that she tracked him down in order to sell him one of her paintings to feed her heroin habit. At home, while Don looks at the painting, he also seems to be thinking about what Peggy told him about changing the conversation, and he rips out the pages in his journal and starts writing something else. It’s a new full page ad that he places in the New York Times about “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco.” Needless to say, it rocks the company and the partners are furious, with Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) taking his shoes and quitting on the spot. Megan (Jessica Paré), however, applauds Don in private for his actions, saying she knows the purpose of the ad was to make it look like "he didn't dump me, I dumped him." Peggy is also pleased with what Don did, and seemed to recognize that Don really may have listened to her. Frankly, I’m not sure why none of the other partners could see Don’s point of view, but as Don is part of Creative, it’s not surprising. Of course, viewers have the benefit of hindsight and know that tobacco will soon be scorned and a highly unattractive account to have. It was a risky move on Don’s part, but it was also another look into his genius as an ad man.

Later, as they get ready to fire employees in order to keep the company afloat, they find that they may have a legitimate lead with the American Cancer Society because of Don’s anti-smoking statement. This may bring them additional contacts and leads. Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) finds that Don has ponied up Pete’s share of the money they need to keep afloat. Faye also gets fired from her job, seeing that Don’s actions have alienated tobacco so much that Atherton is severing ties with SCDP to avoid alienating his own potential cigarette accounts. Don is sorry but Faye sees this as an opportunity: they can now date openly. Somehow, I have this feeling that Faye has an inkling that Don and Megan have had a fling and Faye may think that dating openly may keep Don’s attention on her. We all know Don, and I suspect that Faye wanting more relationship time with Don may only serve to smother him.

As they fire people, Don looks back on the scene with people crying. We can only wonder what Don is thinking. Does he have regrets? Does he not care, and just sees this as a means to an end? Did his encounter with heroin addict Midge make him realize that he has to get off the tobacco accounts and kept the agency “clean”” and this is all part of the process? Somehow, I think Don Draper and SCDP could come out better and stronger. Don’s big risk may have been the best gamble that Don ever made and it may have the biggest payoff. Sally. However, seems to be headed for disaster. Any progress she may have made with her counseling may take a huge step back if Betty gets her way and moves the family. While Sally may have been trying to understand her mother’s perspective, Betty’s actions tell Sally that nothing with Betty has really changed.

“Blowing Smoke” was an interesting look into life through Sally’s eyes. Maybe both Sally and Betty have being blowing smoke about making their relationship work. This has been exposed as just a thin veneer that is cracking at the slightest hint of stress. Don, however, uses his desperation to blow smoke at the ad world through his full page ad, making people think he’s taken the high road by blowing away the tobacco companies. It all makes for an interesting set up for next week’s finale, “Tomorrowland,” where anything can happen.

Inside Mad Men “Blowing Smoke”

Mad Men “Blowing Smoke” Video Recap

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fringe “The Plateau” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) “The Plateau” put viewers back in the alternate universe, where “our” Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is back to work at the (alternate) Fringe Division. She seems to have been completely assimilated into her alternate’s persona, made possible by the treatments ordered by The Secretary - AKA “Walternate” (John Noble). He wants to make Olivia feel as if she is part of his universe so he can get her to agree to further testing and hopefully help them discover how she can pass between both universes. The episode offered what seems like the typical Fringe case, but things are not always what they seem. I’m enjoying this season as it moves back and forth between episodes, alternating each episode with each universe. It also allows the actors to play two different characters – even though they look the same, they have distinct personalities. John Noble excels in this (as Walter and The Secretary). This week we got a better look at Astrid’s alternate, and she seems to be one cold, testy woman.

The first case she’s called in to work - along with Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) who is still recovering from his burns - involves what seems like a death caused by freak accidents as a result of a series of events. They realize that there is a pattern to these accidents – a pattern that Alternate Astrid (Jasika Nicole) concludes is impossible - and things get stranger when they find a ball point pen at both scenes. It seems that in the alternate universe, ball point pens are rarely used (who knows, that time may come here sooner than we think). When another accident occurs, but no death, Olivia and the team investigate. When Olivia sees a ball point pen rolling around on the ground, she realizes it’s not over. She spots someone who seems the likely suspect and begins her chase. But her target, Milo (Michael Eklund) seems to have already worked out that scenario in his mind. He throws a bike over the edge of the walking bridge on which he is standing, causing a truck to swerve right underneath where he is standing on the bridge, and he jumps onto it, making a clean escape.

While Olivia works the case, she’s also seeing things – images of Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Walter Bishop pop up when she least expects it.

Milo’s ability to predict the outcome of a list of occurrences is a talent that he picked up from drugs he was given as part of a test project to increase the IQ of low IQ people. Milo’s sister helps Olivia by telling Olivia of Milo’s location, and later, this sets off another sequence of events for which Milo has already predicted. He sees Olivia chasing him down, and then getting injured by falling concrete blocks. While Olivia, Charlie, and Astrid try to think of what Milo expects will be their next step, Astrid helps them realize that every step they predict, Milo also predicted. They decide to go to the location where Milo’s sister told them he is hiding out, and of course, he’s there, expecting exactly that.

But, Milo gets a big surprise when Olivia chases him as planned, but doesn’t stop the chase (which would have caused her to be crushed by the falling cement blocks) when the environmental alarms warning of air problems goes off. Olivia somehow subconsciously didn’t know that the flashing alarm meant her to stop and get oxygen, so she continued her chase. When Milo stops and comments that this should not have happened, she apprehends him. Later, he’s back in a special lockup, only able to communicate with a computer, and completely oblivious to his sister’s touch. Apparently he’s been on the treatment too long and it can’t be undone.

Charlie, meanwhile, has been wondering if what Olivia told him before her “breakdown” - that she was not from their universe – is really true. Olivia ignoring the warning signs may also have added another red flag to Charlie’s already suspicious mind.

Olivia herself is starting to wonder when, as her boyfriend is preparing to leave to take care of a virus break out, she sees Peter and he speaks with her about why she is seeing him. When he kisses her, Olivia suddenly seems to understand why. You can see the gears working in Olivia’s head – maybe her delusions and breakdown were not that at all. This has been my hope – that she will recover her original memories, but will also have the benefit of her alternate’s, something what would be invaluable to help her get back home.

Walternate, however, sets an ominous tone when he comments that he is still a scientist, just with a much larger lab. While our Walter regrets his past experiments, Walternate seems only too happy to think that the whole world is his lab, and he doesn’t seem to care who or what he uses as his lab rats.

“The Plateau” was an excellent episode that offered a Fringe case that was interesting as a standalone case, but was made better by the fact that Olivia may realize she’s not who they want her to be. Now, her task will be to use what she knows from both universes in order to get back home and/or hopefully avoid either universe being destroyed in the process. Someone has to stop Walternate, and she may be able to beat him using the very knowledge he gave her.

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

House “Unwritten” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

Finally, a decent episode of House(Fox), one that had a patient of the week that was actually interesting. I have to admit, though, that I was shocked at how old Amy Irving looked (and the blond frizzy hair didn’t do much to help, either). Irving played Alice Tanner, a famous author of a kids’ book series about a young detective named Jack Cannon. When she finishes her book, she talks to the imaginary Cannon, locks her final manuscript in the safe, and then tries to shoot herself. She manages to have a seizure, which causes her to miss.

She finds herself in Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital and Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) happens to be a fanboy. He takes an interest in her case. While he works the case, he bemoans to his pal Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) that he is not sure that he and Cuddy have enough in common to keep the relationship going. I, on the other hand, am more worried that the House/Cuddy storyline hasn’t already worn out its welcome with viewers. It seems that House is becoming a little too nice and is losing his edginess the more he worries about his relationship. Is his changing for the better for himself, and for the worse for the show?

Alice also doesn’t seem to be telling anyone the truth about anything and still wants to die. She doesn’t tell them she has screws in her leg from a past break in her leg, and the screws are ripped out of her body as she nears the MRI. She says the broken leg was from a skiing accident. She also takes House up on an offer to kill herself with an injection, and all it does is put her to sleep and give them another reason to extend her psych hold.

While working the case, House also tries to reconstruct Alice’s last chapter by taking her typewriter ribbon and, with the help of Wilson’s girlfriend Sam (Cynthia Watros), uses the MRI to get the details on how the Jack Cannon books ends. (That MRI seems more like a toy to House.) When he finds out the book ends as a cliffhanger, he ramps up his efforts to save the author. While his team of doctors – who seem to be slow to respond to House this episode – work on the case, House continue to work his relationship with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). We lose several minutes of an otherwise good patient story when House, Cuddy, Wilson, and Sam head off to an indoor go cart racing facility where the four of them race each other. When Cuddy complains of hurting her neck during the process, House gets an epiphany and realizes that Alice didn’t break her leg in a skiing accident, it was a car accident. He also discovers that Alice Tanner is a pen name; her real name is Helen and her son was killed in that car accident. Alice blames herself for letting her son take the wheel that day, even though he only had a learners permit. But, since everybody lies, House also lies and tells Alice that her son really had a brain aneurysm and that is what caused the accident, and he would have died whether he was in the car or not. This gives Alice the will to live and she allows the team to operate on a cyst that formed after her car accident that has been growing and pressing on her spinal column, causing all her symptoms.

As Alice recovers, House seems upset that Alice will leave the book ending as is, and she now wants to write for adults. She thinks each reader can decide whatever fate they want for Jack. Somehow, upon hearing this, I wonder if this is what will happen for House when the series comes to an end – he will just go on living with no real end to his story, and the viewers can decide. If the show has more episodes like this, House will be around for a lot longer. But, if they continue to keep House with Cuddy and House loses his edginess, that end may comne sooner!

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, October 4, 2010

Mad Men “Chinese Wall” Recap & Review

All photos from AMC
Mad Men “Chinese Wall” may not have had the fire and spark of other episodes of this season, but it certainly set the tone of gloom and doom for some of its key players. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is back to drinking – and philandering - to sooth all of this problems. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) seem to be going through a role reversal with Peggy becoming confident both professionally and sexually, while Roger is becoming weaker and needier.

The episode starts out on a light note – Peggy has what seems to be an accidental meeting with Abe (Charlie Hofheimer) which ends up with the both of them at her apartment, in bed. Things turn bad quick. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) is at dinner with his fiancée and her parents, and finds out from an employee of competitor BBDO that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has lost their largest account, Lucky Strike. Ken spreads the news to Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), who is at the hospital waiting for his wife to deliver their baby. They later tell Don, who immediately starts drinking and then orders a meeting with the partners.

With Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) and Roger back at the office, Roger feigns shock and outrage, and then fakes a phone call to Lucky Strike’s Lee Garner Jr. and pretends to set up a face to face meeting. Of course, he has no intention of going, and while the employees of SCDP are notified of the loss of their account, Roger is staying at a hotel right in town, later calling in to lie that he met with Lee and there is nothing they can do.

When Pete returns to the hospital to wait for the baby to arrive, he tells his father in law Tom (Joe O’Connor) about the loss of the account. Tom clearly wants Pete to get out of SCDP. Typical for the day, Pete really doesn’t hang around while Trudy is going through labor; he goes back to work to pick up the pieces as best he can. (Later, Ted Chough (Kevin Rahm), a competitor, comes to the hospital to see Pete to give him a baby gift – and to offer Pete full partnership at CGC.)

As the key players of SCDP tell their key clients about the loss of Lucky Strike, more accounts begin to fall. Glo-Coat, the client whose ad won Don his Clio award, wants to move on. Don, hearing the news, slams his Clio statuette onto his desk and breaks it. Don later asks Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono) to use her contacts to get him an in to other new accounts. She is appalled that he wants her to compromise her ethics, and storms out of his office.

Peggy, however, is still working hard on the Playtex account and Don tells her he is counting on her. She has an ad idea, and it's one that seems to get Stan’s (Jay R. Ferguson) and Danny’s (Danny Strong) blood flowing. They think something is up (sexually) with Peggy. The two men are even more convinced when Abe shows up in the office, pretending to be a delivery man, and she takes him into her office for a little action. When Peggy is preparing for the Playtex presentation, Stan tells Peggy he can help her relax, and instead makes a move on her and she pushes him away. She later goes through the Playtex presentation with lipstick all over her teeth, not reading the signals from one of the Playtex people who keeps running his tongue over his teeth.

Roger, meanwhile, calls in to Joan (Christina Hendricks) and tells her that’s he’s really staying at a local hotel, he knew about Lucky Strike for weeks, and he wants her to come meet with him. She is appalled and turns him down.

When Roger returns to the office and tells them it is over with Lucky Strike, Don laces into him. (Pete also finds out that Trudy has had a girl, but keeps on working as if nothing has happened.) When Roger looks to Bert for support, Bert tells him "Lee Garner Jr. never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously.”

Don, Pete, Bert, and other reps from SCDP head to a memorial for a competitor in order to scout out new business.

Later, Roger comes to Joan’s apartment and she tells him it is over. When Roger dejectedly heads home, his wife Jane (Peyton List) is waiting there for him, with a box full of copies of his memoirs, the book titled “Sterling’s Gold.”

When Don return to the office later that evening, his secretary Megan (Jessica Pare) is still there and Don sees she has repaired his Clio. She offers to stay and help him with her work, saying she want to know more about the ad business. She also has other ideas, and tells Don she wants him, and she won’t go running out of his office the next day. Don takes advantage of her offer, right on his office couch. He leaves the office as Megan is still putting on her clothes. When he gets to his apartment, Faye is waiting for him in the hall, and once inside, she tells him she set up a meeting with him and Heinz. Don says that she didn’t have to do it, but she says she wanted to. They sit on the couch, and she puts his head on his shoulder, and Don seems to immediately fall asleep.

The season will end soon, and while this episode moved slowly, it can only make me wonder about whether SCDP will meet certain doom, or if the loss of these accounts will only bring new, and better, business for the company? Roger seems to be heading for disaster. With his memoirs now published, yet his company on a downward spiral and his secret love Joan rebuffing him, will it eventually kill Roger? I had this feeling that Roger may be at the edge of possibly even taking his own life. Don may have also made a huge error in revealing his real identity to Faye. If she gets wind that he is cheating on her with Megan, or if he expects her to bring her more accounts, she just may use his secret against him. Don has fallen back on drinking (but expects Megan to help cut himself off) and it won’t take much before he’s back to drinking himself into oblivion. It seems like too many things are causing a crack in the “Chinese wall”, both for SCDP and for Don Draper. It’s only a matter of time before things collapse.

Video Recap – Chinese Wall

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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fringe "The Box” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

The second episode of this season of Fringe (Fox) “The Box” brought viewers back “over here” to the universe where Fringe began. But, there is one small problem – it’s not “our” Olivia that is here, it’s the “Alternate” Olivia (Anna Torv), and she’s got her own agenda. She’s assimilating very nicely, with her alternate universe contact Thomas Jerome Newton (Sebastian Roché) giving her homework – reading a book on pop culture – in order to help her to blend in. And she shares a drink – and a dance – with Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in a bar. Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is also mourning the death of his colleague, William Bell, and at the same time, working to get his cow to produce chocolate milk.

The Fringe team – Olivia, Walter, and Peter - is called into a case where a family has been bound and gagged so two men can dig up a mysterious box buried in the basement. The family and the burglars are later all killed when curiosity gets the two men and when the open the box, something causes everyone in the house to die. However, another man had already entered the house, unaffected by the power of the box, and takes it. A problem for Olivia is that she only hired two men to get the box and now has to track down who stole this box.

Walter is called to Massive Dynamic for the reading of William Bell’s will, and he and Nina (Blair Brown) are both given envelopes – but we don’t see what is in either envelope and Walter will not reveal it to Peter. Peter also finds out from Broyles (Lance Reddick) that Broyles gave Olivia information about searching the home of one of the dead burglars and Peter is surprised that Olivia didn’t tell him about it.

When Peter meets Olivia at the house, she’s already been looking for the box and she makes the excuse that she didn’t tell him about the search because she knew he would come and felt that Walter really needed his support. When Olivia exits the house, a man watches and writes down her name. He seems to be listening from afar (we later find he’s not listening per se).

At the lab, Walter chooses to show what is in the envelope to Astrid (Jasika Nicole), it’s a key and a letter from Bell which said: "Don't be afraid to cross the line." Walter also figures out that the reason why the people in the house were killed was some sort of ultrasound that overwhelms the brain. Somehow, the person who escaped with the box was not affected. Astrid also prods Walter to talk to Peter about his feelings.

While Olivia is at home reading files on “herself” – the real Olivia has a photographic memory and she wonders how she will pull that off – there is a knock on her door. It’s the man who stole the box, and when he speaks, she realizes he is deaf, which is why the ultrasound from the box did not affect him.

When Walter does have that important discussion with Peter, he tries to explain what happened when he took Peter from the other universe and why, but Peter is not ready to hear it or talk about it yet.

After Olivia gives the box to Newton, she shoots and kills the deaf man. She hears another knock at the door and it’s Peter, so she is forced to drag the man’s body into the bathroom. Peter begins to talk about Walter’s apology, and says he can’t bring himself to give Walter a break. All Peter can see is his image in the blueprint as part of the doomsday machine. When Olivia notices blood from the dead man is creeping from under the bathroom door, she diverts Peter with a kiss, which becomes more passionate.

Newton, meanwhile, has taken the box to a subway and paid a homeless dwarf some money to watch his box for a short while. Of course, curiosity gets the man and he takes the box. Before we know it, the Fringe team is called to the subway to investigate more deaths, just like the ones at the house. Peter knows the box is there and he wants to be the one to chase after it. Walter has an idea to protect Peter from the ultrasound – Olivia shoots her gun next to each of Peter’s ears to render him temporarily deaf. He races down the subway tracks, finds the dwarf and the box, the dwarf’s head exploding in a very dramatic fashion.

Peter manages to disable the box, but when Olivia and Broyles realize not all the subway trains have been stopped and one is on its way to Peter, Olivia races into the tunnel and pulls him away, just before the subway would have flattened him.

Back of the platform, they realize that this is just another piece of the doomsday machine and for some reason, some of the parts are stored in this universe – but why? Peter takes the machine back to the lab to do further work on it.

Walter heads to the back to check out the safety deposit box with the key Bell left him. He heads to Astrid’s home and shows Astrid that William Bell left him Massive Dynamic, and he is now the sole shareholder, holding a large pile of stock certificates.

Olivia sits at the typewriter where she can communicate with the alternate – and her own – universe – and types in the message, "Peter has first piece. He is actively engaged." The reply: "Understood. Begin work on Dr. Bishop."

I couldn’t be happier that Fringe is focusing less on the oddball cases and is focusing on the alternate universe storyline. It is far richer and more compelling than handling their stand-alone, “normal” cases. It’s a story line that continues to engage viewers in and have them anticipate the next episode. I only wish more people would be tuning in to Fringe because it’s one of the best shows on television today, and both Anna Torv and John Noble are excellent in their respective roles. In fact, it is almost as if the alternate Olivia really IS a different person. Hopefully, “Faux-livia” will be discovered before Peter and Walter get in too deep.

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.