Quantico: Drive (Review)


This episode of “Quantico,”  titled “Drive,” spends a good portion of the episode  throwing bucketloads of suspicion toward Special Agent Booth.  The flashbacks to academy training  starts by bringing back up the disastrous mission in Chicago.  Reminding viewers of  Booth taking the blame for Liam’s sin,  while  the NATs undergo their final two weeks of training.

As Shelby Wyatt and Parrish run around in the present trying to find Simon (who is still missing)  they turn up Drew who is suffering the same radiation sickness that Will is exhibiting. Olsen is not dead from his poisoning yet and Perales claims that Ryan Booth is the terrorist.

Back at the academy, the NATS are sent into the field to shadow real agents and the twins are put to the test. The  trainees are given what seem to be pointless jobs that turn out to be more important then they first appeared.

There are several threads in this episode. The arrest of a child pornographer, the fall-out between Shelby and Caleb (as well as Iris Chang’s clear dislike of and vendetta against Haas)  and Ryan’s backstory. There is also Booth’s near paranoia about Alex’s role in the terrorist plot.

Raina and Nimah continue to  work against one another and this discord almost stops their work in the field before it begins.  Booth reveals what really happened in Chicago and later he tells Liam that he is tired of taking the blame and wants the truth to come out.

The storyline of Shelby and Caleb still leaves things wide open as to why they are so close now and oddly, in the flashbacks, Vasquez is missing; apparently still on that sabbatical that Miranda sent her on.

Drew, it seems, is the puppet master terrorist.  He misleads both Wyatt and Parrish by setting up Booth and giving Alex a thumb drive with a virus on it to crack Ryan’s passwords on his laptop.

Ryan catches Alex in the act and the two fight, mirroring the sparring match the two undertook in the flashback. Interestingly, Alex tries the move Booth used in the academy match and while she does not accomplish the move successfully it allows her to win the second, more desperate, fight with Ryan.

Alex escapes from Booth and Drew (minus the voice modulator) directs Parrish to Ryan’s truck, which has the nuclear bomb in it. He orders her to drive the vehicle even though the entire building is on lockdown. The last frame shows Alex driving to the exit with the gate down.

Before the “cliffhanger” end, back at Quantico,  Shelby calls Caleb’s father and tells him of her parent’s betrayal and explains  she wants them to pay for their crimes.  In the present she gets a text from Alex telling her that the voice is Drew and she rushes to the hospital room to find Perales missing.

It remains to be seen whether or not Simon is  working with Drew or merely another pawn in Perales’  game. Regardless of the outcome, it is apparent that the FBI in this verse all have secrets and cover up each other’s mistakes. While the “new” bureau seems to be all about keeping America safe, it appears  that this class of NATs have all be made accessories to Drew’s machinations.

Simon has not been seen for a couple of episodes now and it would not be overly surprising to learn he is in league with Perales.


With only two episodes left in season one, it will be interesting to see how this storyline is resolved.  Now that the “voice” has been identified odds are very good that Perales will be caught.  Although Simon’s status as victim is still in question and Will may not survive his radiation sickness.

“Quantico” airs Sundays on ABC.




The Family: Season One Episode 10 (Review) Fun Ways to Tell Boyfriend You're Pregnant


“The Family” just keeps surprising viewers with more twists and turns and this week sees more secrets unveiled and reveals much about the main characters and a few peripheral ones. This episode “Fun Ways to Tell Boyfriend You’re Pregnant” sees Clements still alive, Ben admitting the truth of who hurt Adam in that bunker and Claire gets her claws out when Meyer refuses to play along.

The detective appears to be the only person concerned about Clements and Bridey goes for the win by putting two and two together after catching Willa out meeting with the leader of the DNA lab.  Hank gets to play hero and he insists on getting all the credit for catching Doug.

Willa decides to keep probing Ben for the truth about what really happened to Adam and  when he admits to hurting her brother, she is understandably freaked out. She also starts having doubts about the whole “Adam”  charade.  Meyer goes to search Doug’s house and it is clear that  she is the only one who believes her FBI partner has not gotten drunk and gone AWOL.

Clements keeps working on Jane to let him go and ends up helping her deliver her baby while still cuffed.  When he insists on being released she reveals that Doug took the  keys.

(Best line of the episode goes to Agent Clements (Matthew Lawler) when he asks Jane about the whereabouts of Doug.)

“Is your monster here?”

Claire Warren goes on the attack when Meyer refuses to tell the woman who the suspect is and when the detective queries who “Adam” really is, Warren gets vicious.  Meyer gets the last word and warns the Mayor:

“You better have your house in order when I catch him.”

Hank reveals his clue to Meyer and tells her what he wants in return.  It is a clear indication of his arrested development as an adult.  Asher (Andrew McCarthy) tells the detective what he wants as his reward:

Hank: “I want a world where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. We need more heroes. So you’re going to make me one.”


Ben admits to Willa that he loved and hated Adam after admitting that the reason he hurt his bunker-mate was that all he talked about was his family.  Later, at the Warren family meal Willa is disturbed by her most recent secret and Danny senses something is up.

Jane (Zoe Perry) self delivers and Clements tell his captor that he is sorry, the baby is a boy.  Willa tries to tell Claire about Ben but gets sidetracked. Later Danny (Zach Gilford) tells Willa that he know something is up but she will not tell him what is going on. 

Clements, we learn, is an alcoholic who has gone on benders in the past (the reason his colleagues are not overly concerned about his disappearance). When the agent learns that Doug took the key, he asks Jane for a drink.

Willa meets up with Bridey and after sex, the tired conspirator sleeps while her journalist lover copies her hard drive.  Meyer keeps insisting that Clements was at Doug and Jane’s house and “Pocky” turns himself in.

This week’s episode of “The Family” had some great tense moments and two  brilliant reveals. Doug and Jane are undergoing a transition and it appears that each one is out for themselves.  Ben also turns out to be quite the conspirator and Willa may just pay dearly for her deception.


As usual, Joan Allen’s Claire Warren does not come over very well. Her threats and belittling of Detective Meyer reveal a truly unpleasant side and it may be this ugly vein that ultimately loses her the governor’s race.

Ben is, as would be expected, a truly damaged young man.  Although it is unclear just how damaged he was before Doug took him and how much his captivity refined his existing mental issues.

Hank, as usual, may be in for a surprise when his “hero” wish is granted. As evidenced with his meeting with John Warren (Rupert Graves) the first thought that went through John’s head was that Asher was friends with Doug. The sex offender is dismissive and angry  but his “childlike” mentality did not see this possible outcome of his presenting evidence to the police. 

“The Family” has its penultimate episode next week (“Election Day”) which means that the end is nigh for the Warrens, Ben and Asher. It remains to be seen whether Clements will survive his infected wound and being held in the basement of a secret house in the woods.

Jane, despite her constant apologies, may still let the lawman die in order to save her own skin and Doug’s new game plan, so different from what he outlined earlier is still a mystery.

The series airs Sundays on ABC.


Deadbeat: Digging Up the Past – Mr Faggy (Review)

Clyde and Pac on Deadbeat

In “Deadbeat” this week, Pac moves in with Clyde and the theme of this episode, “Digging Up the Past” is more about revenge than retribution.  Pac’s newest friend reveals that he made a fortune by buying up celebrity name websites in the ’90s and then selling them on.

“ShannenDoherty.com paid for my rug…”

He then shows Pac his bong collection and the first bong he ever made, in sixth grade. They find a half a gram still in the bong and after Clyde’s hit leaves him coughing, he goes to the kitchen. Just has Pac starts to take his “hit,” the ghost of a man ripped to shreds appears.

After an initial misunderstanding,  the ghost tells Pac that Clyde did this to him and Kevin justifiably freaks out, the spirit goes on to explain that guerrillas in Africa tore him up. Kevin is relieved:

Pac: (Laughing nervously): “Oh man, for a second there I was like, ‘I am a f***ing sh*t magnet for people these days.'”

The ghost was Clyde’s middle school counselor.  The man in question comes back in and is excited to learn Pac is talking to Mr. Faggy, a nickname Clyde gave him.  The younger version of Clyde accused the counselor of showing him his balls.

Mr. “Fa-jzeh” reveals he cannot pass on until Clyde reaches his true potential. He insists that his former student enter an idea contest:

“Big Apple Idea Fair, where imagination meets wonder and blows your mind.”

The men try to think up great ideas and come up short. Smoking weed and showering together  fails to yield any ideas so Clyde and Kevin dig up the park looking for ideas that Clyde had before he started smoking weed.

One of the items they find is Clyde’s old yearbook and he tells Kevin about the bully who made his life a misery in school, Brodie Keller.  This revelation leads the two to come up with an anti-bullying suit.

Cue a comic montage where the two work out the outfit.. After crossing off every target spot on their new invention they go to visit the grown up Brodie Keller (Eric Sheffer Stevens). The former school bully professes he is a changed man and refuses to test the anti-bullying outfit. At the last minute he gives the two men wedgies and Clyde has an idea.

After a quick change of plan the men go to the competition only to learn it is for children. They then advertise for a boy for an “underwear experiment” and are ensnared by the “America’s Dumbest Predators” program. Realizing how bad their answers sound to the show’s host, Pac suggest they run. They are caught by police that the program have deposited around the house.

Accused of soliciting  a minor for sex, Clyde and Kevin are arrested. Mr. “Faggy” now has his revenge for Clyde accusing him of showing the boy his balls.  The episode ends with Clyde asking Kevin to go into the “unfinished business” with him.

As stated in the last review of “DeadbeatTyler Labine and Kal Penn are perfect together in this bromance series. The two men are like identical peas in a pod with their mutual love of weed and sloth.

The irreverence continues as does the inane gags. For instance, the two are talking about how “Mr. Faggy” died; being torn to bits by a guerrillas:

Pac: “Holy sh*t, it was a band of guerrillas.”

Clyde: “Oh sh*t. What kind of music?”

Pac: “I don’t know, he did not specify.”

The two characters almost feel like a modern, and reduced, version of the Marx Brothers. How can you not like that?

“Deadbeat” airs on Hulu and, similar to Netflix, all 13 episodes are available to watch at once. So settle back and binge to your heart’s content or space yourself.  Go ahead, you deserve a treat.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Episode Two, Season Two – (Review)

Ellie Kemper is Unbreakable as Kimmy Schmidt

Like a moth to a flame I am inexorably drawn to the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”  How can you not love a series that, in episode two of the second season, works a Chuck Lorre gag into the storyline.   Kimmy, after having saved the day with a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle”themed “play date” opines that “whoever wrote that theme song  deserves to be a billionaire.”

Cue Schmidt walking past a giant “poster” with a picture of Lorre and emblazoned across the thing , under Lorre’s face, are the words:

“Chuck Lorre wrote that song.”

(This is not a sly wink to breaking down that invisible fourth wall, it is demolishing it with a giant sledgehammer. It is deliciously funny and informative. After all Lorre did write the theme tune to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”)

Before that we have Kimmy forcing a man/woman into hiring her as an elf at a “year-round” Christmas store.

“I have a bomb! Now that I have your attention…”

Another gag, or in-joke, features a box full of Jeremy Piven instructional DVD’s on playing the drums, “Own the Skins”  dumped into a sale bin at a charity shop. (“Learn to ROCK in Two Weeks”)

It also bears mentioning the “mannequin man” who keeps hopping into the charity shop window and the re-use of an old Charlie Chaplin gag based on clambering through a fancy chauffeur driven limousine.  Such creativity and ingenuity deserves no end of comedy respect.

In the second episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Jane Krakowski’s character Jacqueline White, nee Voorhees. has returned from the reservation and now is hiding her dire financial status from the facetious Deirdre Robespierre (played brilliantly by Anna Camp).  Owen’s mother only got $12 million from her husband in the divorce settlement and she is desperate to keep Robespierre from finding out.

Titus (Tituss Burgess) gives a lot of his old “themed” clothing to charity, accompanied by Lillian (Carol Kane). He is horrified to find his classic outfits, which includes a Mickey Mouse costume, being picked over and on offer for  five dollars.

(Kane’s highlight of the show is her coming out from the dressing room with a huge bra over her top. As Titus storms out of the shop with his clothes, she looks at the shopkeeper and haughtily announces that she came in with the item.) 

Kimmy has issues with Xanthippe Voorhees (Dylan Gelula) each time she goes to the townhouse. (Another comic highlight involves these two bickering with Kimmy’s rejoinders  being comically off-kilter.)

Xanthippe: You’re  so weird.

Kimmy: (Grinning maniacally) “In BED.”

Later in the show, Jacqueline complains to Kimmy about her issues with Robespierre and Schmidt  rounds on her friend:

“All you do is lie. About how much money you have, where you live, what monkeys do at hotels…”

The two get back on the same wavelength but only after finding common ground; Robin Hood.

Jacqueline: “Do you know who Robin Hood is? ”

Kimmy:  “Uh, yeah. That Disney movie where Robin Hood’s a fox? When you were little, did you think he was handsome? And then, like, your crotch gets a headache?”

Jacqueline: “Are you kidding? That voice and how he didn’t wear pants?”

Kimmy saves the day by giving Jacqueline some sage advice which she then  uses herself  to best Xanthippe. By the end of the episode Ms. White has rolled over Robespierre by spending all but £500 thousand of her settlement.

Ellie Kemper kills it as the unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Her living, breathing cartoon character of a role is full of comic moments and dialogue that forces laughter out of the viewer.  In terms of laughs-per-minute this series beats the average comedy offering by a mile.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has, as mentioned in a previous review of the Netflix series,  become a new favorite. One can watch the entire 13 episode second season, part of the magic of it being run on Netflix, but that much laughter in one go may just be bad for you.

Ergo, I shall watch the episodes one at a time and review them separately.

Just to be safe.

Babysitter (2015): Growing Pains (Review)

MarVista Entertainment

Written and directed by Morgan Krantz “Babysitter” follows the story of two lost teens and their growing pains. Ray Longway (Max Burkholder) and Anjelika Dey (Danièle Watts) cross paths because of Ray’s mother Hailey Longway (Valerie Azlynn). Hailey is getting a divorce from her Hollywood director husband and he is fighting dirty.  Needing help with her kids, Ray and Stella (Gracie Ray Loveland), Hailey is talked into hiring  Anjelika whose pop star mother died some years perviously. 

The film is full of unpleasant characters that are difficult to connect with. Out of the entire cast only Anjelika is close to endearing. Having lost her “crack-head” pop star mother the 18 year-old turns to Wicca and casting spells.  Not long after taking over as Hailey’s babysitter and maid, the teen puts a talisman into Ray’s closet.

Hailey is self centered and just as guilty of playing around as her soon-to-be ex but she was not caught.  Stella is spoiled rotten and Ray has issues on top of the teenage boy problems of hormones, attitude and testosterone.  The first day Anjelika arrives, Ray goes through her backpack and takes a gold lighter.

He also pushes Anjelika to buy pot for him which he then sells at school.  Later in the film, after Anjelika becomes part of the family, Hailey’s family arrive and she not only turfs the babysitter out of the house but asks her to wear a housekeeper outfit.

Ray falls first in lust and then in love with the babysitter but the two have a major falling out later in the film.

Lesley Ann Warren has a “blink and you’ll miss her” cameo as Hailey’s mother and in terms of casting, it is spot on. Both women look enough alike to really be mother and daughter.

It is hard to have any sort of empathy for any of the characters, apart from Anjelika.  Hailey is at turns unpleasant and over-powering and her parents may not be racist per se, but they definitely think they are better than “the help.”

Part of the problem may well be that the Longways are an upper middle class family whose divorce will cost more than some third world countries have for their national budget.  Ray himself has a sense of entitlement that is annoying, but then too  does his mother and younger sister.

Krantz choosing to follow the issues of people connected to the film industry takes away from the empathy we are meant to feel for these, mostly, unpleasant people.  Ray tells the audience at the start of the film about seeing his mother eaten by a werewolf in a film she worked on Initially it frightened him. Later, Ray says,  he watched it for fun.

The film is, rather surprisingly, labeled a comedy on IMDb.  Having watched  the film twice it is easy to say that there is nothing remotely amusing about the plot or any of the characters.  So  of all the things “Babysitter”  could be, funny is not one of them.

It is interesting and, despite the puzzling relationship between Ray and Anjelika, a compelling film to watch.  Regardless of the fact that Ray seems to vacillate between being snotty, annoyed and annoying, in equal measure, we do still feel the need to see where his relationship  with Dey is headed.

Burkholder does a more than capable job of portraying his “rich kid” with angst and Watts completely owns her character. Sadly there was not enough Lesley Ann Warren. That said, what there of the award winning actress, captivates.

There are parts that could be construed as funny but these moments never really gel and the overall unpleasantness of the film’s characters sucks any tiny bits of humor right out of the film. “Babysitter”  may not be a comedy but it is s a solid 3.5 stars of of  five as a quirky drama.

“Babysitter” premieres May 3 via Digital HD and On Demand. Worth a gander if only to see the growing pains of the almost rich and vacuous.

Image002 Babysitter poster

LADYGREY: Melancholia in South Africa (Review)

Liam Cunningham in LadyGrey

Apartheid may be over, but the events of a small South African village still resonate with its inhabitants in “LADYGREY.” Directed and co-written by Alain Choquart the melancholia of a community forced to continue a tense and uneven existence is, despite the bleakness of its characters, a beautiful experience. 

Starring Emily Mortimer, Liam Cunningham, Peter Sarsgaard and Jérémie Renier,  LadyGrey is the name of a school, and of the village,  where 11 black children were gunned down by whites during the apartheid years. The bodies were never found and two French nurses were murdered in retribution, one of these women was Sarsgaard’s wife. 

The film follows Samuel (Sarsgaard), who aspires to be a horticulturist cultivating and selling roses, and his son who spends his days making a tunnel through the cane to the river; the same one his mother disappeared in years before. Argus (Cunningham) and his new city wife Olive (Mortimer) as well as Mattis (Renier), a lad who is “slow” and an odd assortment of characters are all seen going through their everyday lives.

“LADYGREY” looks gorgeous and is shot beautifully.  The main problem with the film is its downbeat air and the characters who all seem to have much more in common with Mattis than with Argus or Olive. Samuel obsesses over his roses yet when Waldo (Jude Foley) shows them off to the bossman (Argus) he dismisses them as weeds. 

A cast of “simple” yet dispassionate characters fill the film.  Mattis’ sister, a mixed race prostitute who  gets one of her customers to sort out her brother’s custody, is the preferred sex partner of Argus and the man is so cold to his “city wife” Olive one wonders why he married her.

There is a simmering discord between the races in this multilingual film. French, Afrikaans and English are spoken throughout and the connecting factor in this  drama are the French characters. Left over from the days when the village housed a mission, these people could be seen as the conscience of the village, or at the very least its chroniclers.

The eagle, that Mattis so yearns for seems to represent a type of freedom while the doomed sheep the repressed people murdered by the white farmers, the jackals.  Samuel has a barely hidden contempt for his black neighbors

Choquart’s film is peopled with bleak and cold characters. The only one who has any passion is Mortimer’s Olive.  This is fitting as the nurse is not from the village and therefore not scarred by its horrific events in the recent past.

The day after she discovers her husband has been sleeping with a client, skeletal remains are found  in a drainage ditch.  As a memorial service is held Olive is given Samuel’s dead wife’s wedding band.

A sense of foreboding permeates every single frame of this film, leaving the viewer tense and waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop.   Despite this, the music and the landscape of South Africa make this French, Belgian and South African film a feast for the eyes.

It captures the feeling and the essence of a country that is steeped in bloodshed and a violent history that still resonates today against a stunning canvas of natural beauty.

Performances are of the highest quality and Renier plays the mentally challenged Mattis with a mixture of angst, slow-wittedness and over-excitement. “LadyGrey” is not a film to be viewed repeatedly; it is too downbeat and depressing for that. It is however a lovely film to look at and as such worth at least one viewing.

“LADYGREY” was released on April 26 via Digital HD and On Demand.  This is a solid 3 star film for the performances alone and worthy of a look by those who appreciate cinematic beauty.


Wynonna Earp: Digging Up Bones – Stone Witch (Review) Spoilers

Wynonna Earp - Season 1

“Wynonna Earp”  (Digging up Bones)  finally introduces the Stone Witch. It is also revealed that there are revenants in some surprising places and there is a reason that Bobo Del Rey is the leader of the demons that are infesting Purgatory.  Doc and Wynonna finally connect, in the woods; in broad daylight; in a frenzy.

The episode starts with Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) dreaming of sister Willa and Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley). Levi crops up again, after being dragged out of the triangle and placed in a permanent living hell.  The remnant chews off his own foot in order to escape back into the safety of the triangle.

Dolls sets up an appointment to see the local Judge.

Judge Cryderman (David LeReaney) grants Dolls a search warrant for Bobo Del Rey’s bus and insults Wynonna. Another day in Purgatory for the Earp heir and a chance for Dolls to be reminded that his assistant is not well thought of in the town. 

A new revenant is in town, a gay demon called Fish who wants to find his lover before being dispatched by Earp back to Hell. The love of Fish’s life turns out to be the tormented Levi.

Wynonna learns that Doc put Levi out of the Triangle at the orders of Del Rey and is not impressed, although this argument leads to the “sex in the forest” event.

Before the visit to Cryderman’s office and the request for the search warrant, Dolls is exercising in the black badge office. Shirtless and covered in sweat (the furnace will not shut off in the building) Earp is distracted:

“I brought you a shirt, put your coffee back on…You know what I mean.”

The U.S. Marshall tries  to force Wynonna to exercise restraint as they search Bobo’s bus and Waverly takes photos from the periphery of the camp. The elder Earp loses patience and ends up kicking revenant a** and arresting Del Rey. The demon leader knows that Waverly is taking pictures and looks right at her.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1
Bobo Del Rey (Michael Eklund)

Del Rey is arrested and Wynonna points out the overall lack of revenants at the camp and that the leader was obviously warned.  Waverly visits Bobo, her child-hood “friend,” and ask why he picked her to set up her family. Wynonna also stops in the interrogation cell to see Del Rey.

Bobo proves his strength as the demon leader when he spirits the Peacemaker from Wynonna’s hand and can hold the weapon despite the burning of his hand.  Del Rey is released from the jail and Wynonna gets kidnapped by another revenant, Fish.

Doc gets his wish and meets up with the Stone Witch, aka Constance Clootie (Rayisa Kondracki). This does not end quite the way that Holiday intends however  leaving his thirst for vengeance unsatisfied. 

The Stone Witch has power over Bobo and he has to find bones for her to rebuild two skeletons, “her boys” and although she is powerful, she loses some of her hold on Del Rey when he learns that she is terrified of Doc Holliday.

Wynonna agrees to help Fish find his lover in exchange for a picture showing the seven revenants who killed Willa  and she  goes to see Vinnie the Vulture who taunts her by talking like Ward Earp.  She gets the information she needs and sends the demon back to Hell.

Fish tells Earp  that to get the picture they need to break into the basement at the police station.  Grabbing boxes of photographic negatives, after sending Doc in to distract the female workers, Wynonna agrees to take Fish to find Levi as Dolls talks with the Stone Witch and Cryderman whom he accuses of child abuse.

Doc helps Wynonna find Levi and before she sends the two revenants back to the underworld she experiences compassion for the two demons, something that has never happened before. Shortly after she returns to the office and Dolls, her boss realizes he has seen the picture Fish delivered before.

It is hanging in the judge’s office.

Waverly still has a connection to Bobo who claims that she is strong and filled with anger.  This is the second time the younger  Earp woman has been accused of this.  While it may well be Wynonna who wields the gun it is Waverly who stayed behind and lived in a town that hates the Earp’s. Cue a lot of resentment and repressed rage.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1
Wynonna and Dolls

The Stone Witch appearing could be a game changer for the Earp clan but the most interesting thing here is the fear she has of Doc. While his first encounter, in the black badge office, did not end overly well, he apparently has some sort of power over the witch. Whether he can figure this out remains to be seen.

Officer Haught was nowhere to be seen in this episode, nor was Waverly’s boyfriend so the younger Earp sister had no-one vying for her affections. The new twist of Wynonna and Doc getting up close and personal in the wild may prove interesting since she also seems to be rather interested in Dolls.

“Wynonna Earp” airs Fridays on SyFy.


Penny Dreadful: Showtime Classic Victoriana Returns


For those who have watched the first two seasons of “Penny Dreadful” on Showtime it is now a time of celebration as the show that delivers classic victoriana weekly, with a dose of horror icons, has returned.  The first episode, airing free on Hulu at the moment, is titled “The Day Tennyson Died” and it has a melancholic air despite lapses into wholesale violence across the globe.

The series stars a veritable who’s who from the world of British film and television.  Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Rory Kinnear and even Billie Piper play characters from the world of horror fiction of the time. American actors Josh Hartnett and Wes Studi round out the familiar faces to be found in this splendid reimagining of iconic figures in the genre. 

In this season, along with Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, the wolf man and Dorian Grey, Dracula makes an appearance. The vampiric count is joined by Renfield, who is Dr. Seward’s secretary, and it appears the vampire has zeroed in on Vanessa Ives (Green.)

After season two, Ives is suffering from crushing depression, or ennui as her friend Ferdinand Lyle says, and goes to see Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone) based upon his recommendation.  Chandler (Hartnett) has been extradited to New Mexico in America and Murray (Dalton) is in Africa.

The explorer is disillusioned after having buried Sembene (Danny Sapani) and after being jumped in an alley outside the bar where he has been drinking, he meets Kaetenay, (Studi) who already knows who the explorer is and steps in to save the man from being murdered by a definite criminal element. 

Josh Hartnett

Chandler is “rescued” from his legal journey by train and it appears that Murray and Kaetenay will be traveling to the American west to save the sharpshooting wolf man.

Dracula makes an off camera appearance as he forces Renfield to provide him with information about Ives.

John Clare (Kinnear) leaves the icebound ship to return home after having a few flashbacks to his old life and breaking a child’s neck.

“Penny Dreadful”l looks like a sumptuous feast of celluloid film posing as television.  The sets are glorious recreations of global areas. A bar in Africa, a steam train in New Mexico, the ship frozen in the ice in the Arctic, and of course Victorian London.

While the series is based, in part, upon the sensationalist “pulp” novels of the day, the series has the feel of a “live” graphic novel. The hues and textures along with the lighting resembles a glossy page rather than a TV screen.  This sells the morbid and melancholy nature of the horror series brilliantly.

Timothy Dalton

The atmosphere is brilliantly gloomy,  foreboding and dark, even when in the desert wastelands of New Mexico.  Perhaps the only note of dissent for this splendid series is its attempt to turn the Jekyll/Hyde mythos  into some sort of Victorian Incredible Hulk.

It may have made sense to turn the medical boogeyman into a chap who has anger management issues a’la Bruce Banner for those not familiar with the Robert Louis Stevenson creation. One can only hope that they do not also have him “hulk out” and change color.

This is wonderfully bleak and twisted television, bringing back the favorite monsters of literature and introducing a few more. The next episode of “Penny Dreadful” airs in July.



The Catch: The Benefactor – Triangles (Review)


In “The Catch” this week Margot’s brother shows up and it turns out he is “The Benefactor.” Rhys calls the shots and is the head of the “firm,” something that Margot expected to be when their father died.  Her brother is also even deadlier than she is. It appears that the siblings have more in common than the family business  they are involved in a triangle and this episode if full of them.

Alice Vaughn and her company Anderson Vaughn  take on a job for the first female Army Ranger, Nia (played by “Orange is the New Black” actress Samira Wiley) who is getting death threats.  This storyline follows the peripheral storyline of a budding office “triangle” between Sophie (Elvy Yost), Danny Yoon (Jay Hayden) and Agent Shawn (Caleb Smith). Shawn recommends that Nia use the P.I. company.

The main story is the arrival of Rhys (played by the superb Leeds actor John Simm: “Life on Mars,” “The Village”) who demands the necklace that the team stole last week.

Felicity (Shivani Ghai) is revealed to play for both sides when Margot and Ben catch her in bed with Rhys. Agent Dao stops by Alice’s office to apologize for bugging her house and as a piece offering he shows her pictures from the party where the bracelet was stolen. This photographic evidence proves Christopher was there during the theft.

Margot asks Felicity to help her get one over on Rhys and more is revealed about another triangle, Benji (Peter Krause), Margot (Sonya Walger) and Rhys, the “benefactor. “While this latter triangle has nothing to do with sex it does deal with relationships.

Samira Wiley

Yet another triangle exists between Alice (Enos), Agent Dao (Jacky Ido) and Benji/Christopher.  One could even say that there is even a three way split between Valerie Anderson (Rose Rollins), Alice and Dao.  Later Valerie and Dao end up connecting and the FBI agents asks “how do I know you’re not just using  me?” Valerie responds that she is. 

Apart from triangles and relationships, and the con, the storyline is all about how deadly Rhys is and how much he missed Benji.  Most important is that despite his “devil may care” attitude, Rhys is very murderously inclined.

By the end of the episode Rhys the benefactor has a body count of two; Mickey Shive and, somewhat shockingly, Felicity.

Before that, Ben and Rhys tend to  Mickey in order to retrieve the necklace while dressed as the local police . Ben is shocked when Rhys kills Shive in cold blood.

Dao, who believes that “Christopher Hall” (Benji) killed Mickey and the woman in Paris, as the ballistics proof the same gun was used on both victims. Alice is angry with Christopher, as she is now an accessory to murder but agrees to help him to retrieve the bracelet.

“The Catch” is all about “the con” and this episode has several cons occurring, on top of the triangles, romantic and otherwise. Alice teams with Benji/Christopher to retrieve the real necklace and she leaves a fake one with the unconscious “victim” for Dao to find.

Margot renegotiates with her brother to have the debt written off and Rhys decides to stay in Los Angeles.  He then  gets a lead from Felicity, who gives up Alice Vaughn, and Rhys kills Felicity  as he  searches for and finds Alice on the Internet.

Before Felicity is despatched by bullet, the end of the episode features a lot of sex, Dao and  Valerie, Felicity and Margot and Alice and Benji/Christopher.  Of course after leaving Margot’s bed things end badly for Felicity. The other two couples may not end up dead, but one does get the impression that this whole thing will end in tears.

John Simm

Simm is brilliant as the charming psychopath and will, hopefully, become a fixture as the series really needs some charisma, even if it is of the murderous variety.

“The Catch” airs Thursdays on ABC. This really does feel like an updated reimagining of “It Takes a Thief” but despite this it is quite enjoyable. Tune in and see what you think.


Legends of Tomorrow: Leviathan – Size Matters (Review) Spoilers

Daddy Dearest and Cassandra in LoT

At long last, “Legends of Tomorrow” go back to the future (sorry) in “Leviathan.” It does not take the group of would-be heroes long to learn that size does indeed matter.  Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) has  to duel with a giant “Mighty Morphin Power Ranger-ish”   robot and it is nigh on impossible not to feel for Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) when Kendra stops mid attack once they finally capture Vandal Savage. 

Hunter’s expression is mixed. Anger, disappointment,  confusion and (yes, perhaps a little bit of) resignation.  The team of Snart and Rory are back on form trading quips and Mick (Dominic Purcell) may just have the come back of the episode.

Snart and Rory  get the drop on Savage’s daughter Cassandra (Jessica Sipos) and Mick wins the short exchange hands down:

Cassandra: “Whoever you are, you’re certainly persistent.”

Rory: “Not really. We just like bright, sparkly objects, like that bracelet.”

Cassandra: “You’d risk dying for a bauble?”

Rory: “It works with my outfit.”

All delivered in Rory’s marvelously graveled growl.

(It is interesting that he and Snart, played by Wentworth Miller, both have the most unique and entertaining voices on the show. Snart with his  drawling delivery of dialogue sounding a mix between Snagglepuss and perhaps the late Paul Lynde and Mick with his “Drax-like” demeanor as well as enunciation of lines stand out from the small crowd of “legends.”)

Heading to 2166, the group of would-be heroes and future legends all conspire to grab Savage (Casper Crump), after initially getting his daughter and then explaining to her that “daddy” is a megalomaniac bent on destroying the world.

There are some pretty impressive fight scenes, not just between The Atom and Leviathan but between the small group who initially attempt to infuriate Victor’s lair. Another well choreographed battle takes place once Kendra (Ciara Renée) works out how to weaponize her old “bauble.”

Sidenote: One small bauble of contention is the melting down of the bracelet to pour it over Kendra’s long time lover Carter Hall’s (played by Falk Hentschel) spike-covered cudgel, or mace. The bracelet is a small delicate thing and yet, when Rory melts it down, the now liquid  bauble manages to completely cover the head of the weapon…Really?

Snart turns Cassandra by showing her the truth of Daddy Dearest and she agrees to help Hunter and his team.

The “Legends of Tomorrow” team, sans Palmer, Stein and Jax,   take on Savage, indirectly through the “back door” and still almost lose the fight.  Being an immortal “stinker” Vandal has all the odds in his favor and his Leviathan which The Atom engages after enlarging himself,  is a tough opponent. Palmer defeats the robot however and as the battle continues, Cassandra, now turned, comes back to daddy.

The first thing Savage notices is the missing bracelet.  Hunter, Lance, Rory, Snart and Kendra attack the soldiers of Savage and like all true villainous bullies Vandal underestimates his opponents. Also like a bully, once Vandal realizes he can be hurt, his confidence falters.

Once last “trick” remains however, as  an amnesiac Carter appears in the garb of a Savage soldier. The villain tells Kendra that if she kills him then her lover will never remember who he is. Hawkgirl stops and apologizes to Hunter about her inability to sacrifice Carter for Rip’s family.

Hunter is not happy at Kendra’s failure to save his wife and son but takes Savage hostage. Ray is also not overly pleased with his fiancee after learning that Carter is back in the picture.

Irony of the episode award goes to Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) who, due to earlier  sustained injuries,  sleeps through the entire robot attack and the capture of Savage.  Vandal is a stinker even in captivity as he taunts Rip about whether he will be able to save his family. 

“Legends of Tomorrow”  is still cracking  entertainment. The characters are all interesting enough that we care what happens, although with Kendra it is that little bit tougher.  The clear favorites are Rory and Snart, that odd couple duo who light up the screen way more than Firestorm each time they are together.

There are some bits that irritate, like the melted bauble and Cassandra being so easy, and fast, to turn.  Clearly some daddy issues there. It is interesting that The Atom has to “enlarge” himself in order to defeat the Leviathan proving that, despite what men’s magazines have touted for years, size does matter.

“Legends of Tomorrow” airs Thursdays on CW.