Tag Archives: entertainment

Designated Survivor: Kiefer Sutherland & the White House

Kiefer Sutherland

“Designated Survivor,” a title that evokes a reality based show with swimsuit clad 20 somethings competing to live on a deserted island, stars Kiefer Sutherland, aka Jack Bauer, as recently fired cabinet member Tom Kirkman. Brit actress Natascha McElhone (SolarisCalifornication) plays Tom’s wife Jessica and the pilot features Maggie Q and Kal Penn

The show solemnly informs that viewer that during any State of the Union speech a cabinet member is placed in a secret and safe place in case of a catastrophic event or a successful  attack against the president. This is known as the “Designated Survivor” program, where the “survivor” is picked at random and ensconced in a bunker or similar blast proof device.

Tom Kirkman is the survivor (possibly picked as an exercise in bad taste since the president just fired him that morning) who is shockingly thrust into the limelight as the new commander-in-chief of the United States.  Things move so quickly that his swearing in ceremony is captured on a Blackberry.

“Designated Survivor” is an interesting concept for a number of reasons.  For starters, the idea is pretty fascinating; picking a volunteer to take charge if anything happens to the proper “chain of command” and then there is the fighting off of military generals who are more than ready to “take over” in case of an emergency.

(It seems that the role model for the aggressive general who braces the new president may be based upon Gen. Alexander Haig and his Reagan assassination attempt faux pas.)

The timing for this series could not be better, it starts this fall, and there cannot be many who do not see the irony in this show appearing on American television this year.

Watching the pilot episode one feels there was a real push to keep Sutherland’s character as far away from his “24” persona as possible.   Kiefer can act, however, and there are moments that leap off the screen where the look in his eyes convey emotional ranges that impress and make the viewer forget all about Jack Bauer.

It will be interesting to see where the series goes.  The idea of a low-level politico who has no real experience wading the stinking waters of the capital suddenly being made president opens up all sorts of possibilities.

The program is real (the Designated Survivor/Successor) and this is a fascinating look at just what could happen if the entire upper echelon were wiped out via a bomb or nuclear device.

Regardless of where the show heads or how long it will last, it is nice to see Kiefer Sutherland back on our small screens.  This actor consistently knocks it out of the park in what ever project he works on.

With an impressive supporting cast, this should be one to watch, although it could be seen as pretty tame stuff compared to “24.” Until the show airs, have a look at the trailer below and see what you think.

Bloodline: Season Two – Almost Shakespearean (Review)

Netflix poster for Bloodline

The second series of “Bloodline” aired May 27 and while it was only 10 episodes this time around, this slow moving, almost Shakespearean tragedy, is  impossible not to watch.  Having missed the first season, it was fortuitous that Netflix gave newbies a recap that was as engrossing as the entire second season.  In fact, it was so interesting that the first season had to be binged in order to get completely caught up in these latest proceedings.

Tri-Creators Glenn KesslerTodd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman bring us a Southern family, based in Florida, who have more secrets than Carter has little pills.  None of the players are likable, too caught up in the selfish pursuance of their lives and businesses to care much about each other.  This is not a close knit family, although three of the siblings manage to team up for one to murder Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn) and the other two to help him hide it. 

Kyle Chandler is John Rayburn the cop in the family, a detective with aspirations to be the next Monroe Country Sheriff.  Linda Cardellini  is Meg Rayburn the lawyer in the family, Norbert Leo Butz is Kevin Rayburn alcoholic boat yard owner.Sissy Spacek is the matriarch  whose husband, played by Sam Shepard, died in season one. 

Beau Bridges plays what can best be described as the devil as he pours money into John’s election campaign and bails out Kevin.  He also apparently is  the man above drug runner Wayne Lowry (Glenn Morshower).   

In season one the Rayburn clan  clearly won the dysfunctional family award, at least in Florida,  and season two carries on the theme while Meg, Kevin and John conspire to continue hiding  the murder.

Oddly enough, this Netflix original series features characters that are not very nice or overly charismatic. The siblings, with the exception of dead Danny, all profess support for one another and do manage to work fairly well together until John’s opponent for sheriff starts digging up clues about Danny’s murder.

Even Sissy Spacek’s character, despite her twinkly eyes and ready smile, is not overly pleasant. Sure she is friendly to the paying guests but she has yet to fix that shower in bungalow three. She also lashes out violently at another character in this season.

It is not just the Rayburn family that come over as deeply unpleasant. John Leguizamo plays small time crook and leech Ortiss and he is sort of a friend to Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) who is a low-level miscreant who was Danny’s best friend for years. Evangeline, Danny’s wife (played by Brit actress Andrea Riseborough) is a sponger and possible con artist. 

Danny, who manages to pay back the entire Rayburn clan by dropping  them so deeply into the sh*te that it seems they will never climb out, was no worse than his entire family.

The show is slow, almost plodding in its snail’s pace of delivery, but there is something compelling about the entire series.   Part of the enjoyment comes from brilliant camera work, great set pieces and convincing set dressings, not to mention as great plot.

Of course the main reason is that sterling cast.  Kyle Chandler literally screams cop from his every pore. Cardellini convinces whether she is on the attack or so vulnerable that one wants to scoop her up in a blanket and sooth her.  Mendelson, in his flashbacks and visits to brother John, is just brilliant.

Bridges as Ray Gilbert is like Ka from “The Jungle Book.” Cool, soothing and hypnotizing, this man is pure evil dressed as a mega-rich and benevolent businessman.

Anyone who watched the first season will not be amazed at the way season two ends.  No one, it appears, gets out unscathed. It does literally end in tears and with another murder, possibly two.

This drama is compelling and hard to stop watching. Once the first episode is seen, it is nigh-on impossible to turn off till the end.  In fact the only real complaint about “Bloodline” season two is that it ends far too quickly with only 10 episodes.

(On a sidenote: Spacek literally seems to have conquered aging.  It is delightful and not a little unsettling to see how well the Oscar winning actress has aged.)

Catch Sissy and the rest of an uber talented cast on Netflix. All at once or a bit at a time, you will not be disappointed.

Wynonna Earp: Bury Me With My Guns On (Review) spoilers

 Wynonna Earp - Season 1

Wynonna has a short Earp celebration at Shorty’s bar.  Too much to drink and too many memories make our hero an unhappy young lady. In “Bury Me With My Guns” stress levels are high, but not insurmountable.  The Stone Witch (Rayisa Kondracki) resurrects only one of her ” boys” and Wynonna shows up at work the morning after in skin-tight trousers and a great attitude. Doll’s spoils it with the announcement that Head Office have mandated that Earp take a psychological test. 

Wynonna takes the test with no assistance from Dolls (Shamier Anderson). With an expression that would rot cabbage, the analyst asks questions that range from “Do you feel like a murderer” to “When did you last have sexual intercourse” and Earp is beyond annoyed. Not just with the nature of the questions but because of Dolls’ lack of support.

(Quick sidenote here: This does feel a little too “Buffy” here chaps.  While not too overly similar it does have shades of the Summers/Giles fallout in the Joss Whedon series.)

Wynonna fails the test and is suspended.

Clootie brings one skeleton to life, since Waverly destroyed the other skull only one of her sons can be resurrected, and attempts to leave the triangle her boy.  Bobo Del Rey (Michael Eklund) lays in wait for the witch and her offspring with a group of revenants that Clootie shot at the start of the episode. 

Sheriff Neadley (Greg Lawson) attempts to bond with Dolls, Waverly makes up her mind to go after Officer Haught and Wynonna has sex with Doc again. Neadley offers to share information with Dolls and the black badge official warily agrees.

Gus sells Shorty’s Bar and Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is not pleased.  She gets into an argument with Haught when the two talk because each one is referring to something different than the other. Waverly wants to talk relationships and Nicole (Katherine Barrell) is talking about her experience with Jack the Ripper. 

At the outskirts of the triangle, Bobo has the bones of the witch’s other son set on fire and the resurrected son dies burning from the inside out. Like Constance and Doc, the “live” son and the bones of his brother were obviously connected.  In the middle of Doc and Wynonna’s sexual tryst, he can feel Clootie’s pain and the two go to collect the witch.

There is a brief stand-off between Bobo and his followers and Wynonna and Doc.  After some heated words and threats, Earp starts to shoot Bobo and Doc points his gun at Wynonna. He tells his lover that he will shoot the Buntline out of her “lily-white hand.”  Finally Bobo hands Constance over to Holliday.

Doc still plans to kill the witch but Wynonna has a better idea.  They take Clootie out in the middle of salt flats and bury the witch up to her neck. The salt stops the woman’s magic and will leave her trapped there; forever. Earp spends most of the episode furious with Dolls who tells her later that she passed the test second time up.

Gus has sold Shorty’s to Bobo who takes over the bar.

Waverly and Nicole finally connect, in Neadley’s office, and Wynonna learns about the origin of the curse and how the Stone Witch turned Wyatt against Doc.

Earlier in the episode Wynonna pulled the peacemaker on the real estate agent speaking to Gus about selling the bar. She spots a skull tattoo on his forearm and assumes he is a revenant.  Following him into the restroom, Earp points the gun at the man’s head and asks to see his brand. The terrified realtor pees himself and Wynonna learns she made a mistake.

In reality Earp was on the right track. The man might not have been a demon but he was working for one; Bobo. Del Rey is jubilant in his victory and he leads his little band of revenants in an impromptu celebration after getting the bar. Earlier he proved  that he has a number of powers to his disposal.

Firs the stops Clootie’s Cadillac by magic and later,  when the stand-off at the bridge gets tense, he senses that Doc and Wynonna had sex and he tells his men to put down their guns.

Gus is oblivious to Waverly’s annoyance at the selling of Shorty’s and Dolls brings Wynonna a gift, a revenant that Bobo sent to the bar with a message for Earp.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1

By the end of the episode, Wynonna gets her deputy status back, the witch is helpless and alone and Bobo has the bar.  Waverly and Nicole are also an item.

“Wynonna Earp” airs Fridays on SyFy.  Time in and watch this one. Things are beginning to heat up in this science fiction ode to Earp…

 

Arrow: Schism – Hope Springs Eternal (Review) Spoilers

Damien Darhk in the final battle Schism

“Arrow” ended the fourth season with “Schism.” Damien Darhk was still quite earnestly trying to destroy Starling City, aka Star City, and the rest of the world even though his ark was rubble.  Darhk (played brilliantly by Neal McDonough) rather pettily wanted to kill everyone, including his daughter, because Machin died last week. 

The episode had the obligatory flashbacks to the island and we learn that Oliver killed Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) who was corrupted by the dark power needed to kill good old “what’s his name” back on the island. (We know his name was Baron Reiter  played by Jimmy Akingbola.) 

Meanwhile, the gang are overwhelmed when Darhk pays them a not-so social call to get the Rubicon laptop back and make some threats. While he was there, Damien had some ghosts shoot up the place. Getting his daughter back Darhk then departs for the final phase of his “bringing hell to earth” plan.

There was a good deal of angst in this season finale. Everyone was upset, depressed and had lost hope by the time that Oliver and the good citizens of Starling City took  on Darhk and his ghosts.  (To be fair, the scene where Mr and Mrs John Doe clash with the armed ghosts felt pretty epic, like “Gladiator” without swords, shields, sandals or Russell Crowe.)

“Arrow,” aka Green Arrow, has always been rather dark. Oliver Queen is morose, has to work hard at not killing villains and always has that “hangdog” look in his face. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) is the Pollyanna in the Arrow-verse, even her inadvertent killing of “tens-of-thousands” of innocents does not put too much of a damper in Smoak’s eternal optimism. 

The finale had plenty of gun play, a bit of arrow play and loads of choreographed fights between pretty much everyone. Only John Barrowman’s Merlin was shorted in the department of fisticuffs, although he was able to save Thea (Willa Holland) with a well placed arrow of his own. 

After a huge build up to the final battle where 15, 000 nuclear warheads are about to eradicate all life  on the planet it is revealed that all Queen needed to defeat Darhk was…wait for it….hope.  Yes, hope was the secret weapon all along. Somewhat akin to Tinkerbell being brought back to life by clapping, Darhk’s magic was rendered useless by a whole lot of hope.

(To be fair it did take an entire city of hope to bring about Darhk’s defeat…sort of like an entire theatre of children clapping wildly was needed to bring back Tinkerbell…Hmmm.)

As one website put it, “Arrow” just sort of finished this season after Oliver shoved his arrow into Darhk’s chest and killed him.  But seriously? What did everyone expect? Darhk was the best villain ever.

Funny, pithy, glib, snotty, bigger than life and so acerbic.  He was good-humored evil on two legs and he loved being bad.  However his end came about, whatever happened afterward was going to be anticlimactic.  With an entire episode of fights, shootouts, frantic keyboard pounding and the rise of a downtrodden city’s denizens, the ending was bound to be a little…Meh.

In terms of outstanding performances Neal McDonough should be pulling in some huge gongs for his work on this show. The actor just blew everyone else away whenever he was on camera and he did not have to say a word to do so. That look of evil glee was enough to overpower the other players.

“Arrow” finished without any help from outside agencies, like “The Flash,” or “The Legends of Tomorrow” or even “Supergirl” (we know, it is miles too early for that) but the tease of a huge multi-crossover event next season leaves all sorts of possibilities open. We are still hoping that a certain former Time Master manages to bring back Laurel.

Hint. Hint.

 

Wayward Pines: Enemy Lines – Shades of BioShock (Review)

 WP-S2_scn40_163_hires1

“Wayward Pines” returns with its season two premiere. “Enemy Lines” has a number of season one cameos (Sheriff Pope, played by Terrence Howard, who appears as Dr. Yedlin’s abductor is just one example of season one revenants.)  and a change in theme is apparent. At one point, in the hospital, Yedlin (Jason Patric) purchases a fizzy drink from contrivance  that looks suspiciously like a vending machine from BioShock.

There is a cartoon caricature  of the late Pilcher (Toby Jones) on the front of the antiquated looking machine and it speaks in his voice when a bottle of drink is purchased.  Old fashioned music is heard down the hallway as Yedlin opens his carbonated celery drink and it leads him to an open door. Arlene (from season one) is being given shock therapy. All very BioShock and all that was missing was the vending machine shouting out “Welcome to the circus of values.”

Season two is differently paced from the first season.  With Ethan Burke (Matt Dillion) dead, he sacrificed himself to save Ben (Charlie Tahan), his wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) and other survivors from Wayward Pines, including the woman that Yedlin operates on; Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino), there is no action man to take charge against the snotty regimen of “generational’s.” 

This time around the feeling of the series has changed as well. The first generation are in charge and the Hitler youth from last season have grown up and gotten callous, cruel and deadly.  It is all Sam Browne belts, khaki uniforms and riding boots. Public reckonings are back on the menu.

The ark survivors from last year are trying to weed out the rebels. Many are following Ben Burke and it appears that the kids in charge are actively working to change the older population’s thinking  patterns as well. Reference Arlene (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) and her shock treatment. 

Unlike the shadowy mechanizations of season one, where it seemed that there was much more going on than met the eye, this year the abbies are fait accompli and that false feeling of security and safety is gone. Now it is all about control and numbers and killing abbies.

It was surprising that the show was renewed for  a second season. After all, with the death of Dillon’s character and Toby Jone’s visionary madman’s death, it seemed a “done deal” that the show would finish its one season greenlight and fade back into the woodwork.

Hope Davis as Megan Fisher is back.  This time in a wheelchair but still with that smarmy and condescending attitude that made her the character one loved to hate in season one.  She still believes in clear rules and harsh (as in deadly) punishment for those that transgress.  Davis is splendid in this role and managed to make this reviewer dislike her so much that when she appeared in American Crime as Timothy Hutton’s character’s wife, it was difficult to like or even sympathize with her.

WP-S2_scn61_014_hires1
Hope Davis as Megan Fisher, still an unpleasant character.

Yedlin is “rescued” by Xander prior to his wife arriving and he witnesses the public execution of those who refuse to conform.  Jason Higgins (Tom Stevens) tells the assembled town’s people that if Ben Burke turns himself in to talk,  the executions with stop. 

It is a lie. The moment Burke surrenders his firearm he, Xander and Yedlin are taken and driven outside the electric fence; left as food for the abbies.

This season of “Wayward Pines” thus far lacks the mystery and subtlety of the first.  The denizens of the “ark” all know about the abbies and despite this still rebel. The first generation are 10 times worse than Pilcher ever was; he was ruled by his drive for perfection and an inability to recognize his own flaws. He was not cruel but coldblooded.

Kate Hewson is so desperate to get away from this version of Wayward Pines that she slits her own throat.  It will be interesting to see if poor Ben Burke makes it past the first episode. Despite his voice-over at the start where he vows to save the people from the first generation, his character really lacks the power of poppa Burke, aka Matt Dillion.

“Wayward Pines” airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and see if this works as well as the first season. So far it lacks that nuanced delivery of season one. It also lacks Toby Jones and Matt Dillion as well as the character of Amy (Sarah Jeffery) who was injured at the end of last season but was  still very much alive. 

This will either be a pale shadow of the first season or have all the subtle feel of a brick to the head.

Rosewood: Badges & Bombshells – Season Finale (Review)

 FFRW_S1-122-18_19-AT_0169_f_hires1

Rosewood this week has blackmail, murder (of course) and backstory.  It also has some pretty surprising twists. Captain Hornstock turns his badge in,  TMI backs out of the wedding and her relationship with Pippy, Donna appears to be dating a convict and Rosie gets blasted by Villa on their first date.

The episode begins with a man being blown up in his car. An autopsy of the bits and pieces of the victim reveal he was poisoned before being blown up. The deceased was a lawyer for a pharmaceutical company and as a lad was placed in juvenile corrections.  His murder is traced back to those days.

John Billingsley guest stars as a corrupt judge who took payouts for giving young offenders stiff sentences and he is connected to the pharmaceutical business.  Captain Hornstock is blackmailed by a fixer and told to stop investigating the murder of the lawyer. The same man ambushes Villa and Rosie while they question Louie Van Winkle (Chad Lindberg).

Pippy (Gabrielle Dennisquits after TMI breaks up with her and ends the wedding and Daisie Villa (Lisa Vidal) gives Annalise a “love basket” for the Rosie date. Mom is overjoyed that her daughter has moved on from Eddie’s death and has opted for Beaumont Rosewood. 

The bad guys are caught and Hornstock (Domenick Lombardozzi) goes to Internal Affairs; drops off his gun and badge along with evidence of something he did 18 years ago.  Donna meets with Gerald who is an inmate. Rosie makes Mitchie run the toxicology report on Eddie one more time. 

Rosie arrives at the date with Villa to tell her that he believes Eddie was murdered. Villa flips out. After explaining how hard it has been for her to move on, she then accuses Rosewood of being damaged. She tells him that his need to be a  hero makes him underestimate and undervalue those around him.

Annalise tells Rosie to get out of her house and her life.

Back at the lab, Rosewood continues his investigation.

By the time the dust settles, or the end credits roll, everyone’s lives are in turmoil.  Annalise is furious with Rosie and called things off before they could even begin. Hornstock has turned in himself and his  badge and gun. Pippy and TMI are through and Rosie’s sister has quit.  Rosewood is still working on his Eddie was murdered theory and the only person unscathed by the end of the final episode is Mitchie (Sam Huntington).

FFRW_S1-122-40-AT_0028_f_hires1

While it may seem appropriate to panic a little at the Rosie/Annalise blow up, this may soon pass. After all, Villa was all revved up and ready for some Rosie “rumpy-pumpy” (Enrique Iglesias, chocolate covered cherries and some heady romance was on the cards not a “your husband was murdered” revelation.) and nothing spoils the mood quicker than poking a sore, recently healed wound.

Villa has forgotten that Rosewood’s mind never stops.  It is what makes him the best pathologist in Miami.

The chemistry between Rosie and Villa was hot, hot, hot in this episode. The little daydream sequence, where Annalise lowers her top and Rosewood sweeps the glasses off the tabletop, was steamy and seemed to be a “finally” moment.

It was, however, a false start.  Even after ascertaining that these two strong-willed people were on a bona-fide date, it was all too easy to see it getting screwed up somehow.

“Rosewood” will be back for a second season so perhaps this finale is another false start.  Time will tell.

 

 

The Path: The Miracle – Game Changer (Review) Spoilers

Aaron Paul as Eddie Lane in The Path

“The Path” follows Eddie’s journey as the rest of the movement freeze him out. Only Sarah keeps him from being expunged from the group completely, an act that will keep him from seeing his children.  Lane visits Abe at the hospital and prays for his daughter to heal naturally and to not need the surgery.  The infant is healed and does not need the operation, is this a miracle?

There are a number of miracles in this series.  Alison Kemp walking across the frozen pond/lake with stones in her pockets does not die, although the ice should have broken. This could be classed as another miracle. She really wanted to die after Sarah gave her Jason’s journal.

Eddie is having visions, or hallucinatory flashbacks, and it leads him to seek answers.  Heading to Peru he goes to Steve Meyer’s room and finds the dying man gone from his bed and standing. Alive, awake and very aware, Dr. Meyer has “returned from the dead” (so to speak) and this too could be classed as a miracle.

Cal has nurtured  the lie of Steve writing the last three rungs, which Sarah has discovered is not true,  and after telling the compound that Meyer will be arriving, he has changed it to Steve’s essence is there.

Mary recognizes the damage in Cal; the darkness, and the two finally have sex. Mary is drawn to the bad part of Roberts and always will be; just as he is drawn to her.

Sarah tells Cal that their relationship will always be on a professional basis and then starts investigating Silas’ disappearance.  She learns that Roberts lied about his whereabouts and she breaks into his office and laptop. She now knows that Cal wrote the last three rungs on his own.

Roberts marries Mary and Sean, re-inducts Alison Kemp back into the movement and accepts Hawk into the group properly.  Cal tells the group that Steve is now pure light. He also declares Sarah and himself as “Guardian’s of the Light.”

Summer uses her invisible light pen to write messages to her father and one can easily imagine the UV light used with the pen being a huge plot device in very short order. Cal’s murder of Silas guarantees a lot of physical evidence at the crime scene.

Sarah will obviously keep channeling her inner Nancy Drew until she learns the truth about Silas and Cal may be moved to do something desperate to protect his lies.   Roberts and Sarah has declared an uneasy alliance, of sorts, but she has declared war on Cal by letting him know that she will find out what happened to her mentor.

Cal Roberts is a dark and damaged man. His immediate goal is to take over the movement by hook and by crook.  Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) who has decided that the movement is “fairy tale bulls*t” is having visions and may well be responsible for a miracle.

Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is now in an awkward position.  Even while Eddie told him that “The Light” was rubbish, it was his prayer that, presumably, saved Gaines’ daughter from life threatening surgery.  Abe is no longer investigating the movement but he must be torn. 

Now the battle for the Meyerist Movement is between Cal (Hugh Dancy), Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), Eddie and Steve Meyer (Keir Dullea). Meyer, who may just be in remission, is at least cognizant and may be ready to dethrone Roberts. 

(If he is really there in the room at all. Eddie has been hallucinating a lot, is that really “Doc” or is it another vision?)

Cal told the comatose Meyer of his plans. Medical experts have postulated that coma patients can hear everything going on around them. Did Roberts’ news upset Meyer enough that he fought free of his coma, via the light? (Again assuming that Eddie did really see Meyer in the room.)

Roberts is dangerous.  It has been pointed out by elders in the movement. All that remains is to see how the danger will manifest itself when the truth comes out.  The only miracle may well be Sarah surviving her investigation into Cal’s murder of Silas.

“The Path” airs Wednesdays on Hulu.  Tune in and get caught up in the movement.

The Real O’Neals Season Finale: The Real Prom (Review)

 JAY R. FERGUSON, BEBE WOOD, MATT SHIVELY, MARTHA PLIMPTON, NOAH GALVIN

“Is this really happening? ‘Cause I hallucinate sometimes,” Kenny says to the Swedish student who has just started at his school in time for prom.  The entire Real O’Neal clan are adorably awkward and quirky and, at the start of the series, devoutly Catholic.  Mom, played by Martha Plimpton, was a religious enforcer who took the joy out of every occasion. In “The Real Prom,” the entire family show how far they have moved on.

Kenny (Noah Galvin)  “comes out” at the start of the season and has had to fight his own feelings, his mother and grandmother.  It is hard not to love Kenny. A naive teen who wants to meet that special boy and whose heart is as full of romantic dreams as your Aunt Ethel’s.

For his prom he wants nothing more than to dance and kiss the boy of his dreams while ABBA plays.   Meanwhile Eileen is fighting her feelings for  vice principle Murray (Matt Oberg) and the scene where she tells Clive that there is no way on earth she will ever date him is recited like a Dr. Seuss rhyme.  After her “Green Eggs and Ham” rejection, he plays his Theremin and sings “Come On Eileen,” to Eileen O’Neal.

Pat (Jay R. Ferguson) takes his daughter Shannon (Bebe Wood) to the prom after learning that she turned down Ethan.  He explains, while they watch “Carrie” that just because he had a miserable time at his prom that not everyone does. 

The storyline has both Kenny and Jimmy (Matt Shively) struggling to get dates for the prom. Jimmy knows who he wants to ask but has not come up with a spectacular enough “prom-posal” yet.  Kenny, being the only gay in the school, who has come out, has no idea who to ask, apart from the barista at Rigby’s.

For all the comedic drama of Kenny’s coming out, this series shows what family is really all about.  Accepting one another and not judging.  This, initially, almost grass roots Catholic family move from being too judgmental to accepting and supporting each other.

Kenny tells the new gay Swedish student that he hallucinates.  He does indeed, Jesus has appeared  a few times, hysterically so in the pilot where He tells Kenny that He will let Eileen order for Him, and even Jimmy Kimmel appears in one  episode.

Most of Kenny’s flights of fancy do not include Jesus or Kimmel but allow his romantic and overactive imagination to run riot. In this final episode of the season, he imagines that the kiss he will share with the Swedish lad will be perfect.

It is not.

“Huh. Maybe I set the bar too high?”

Jimmy does not have that problem when he finally gets a kiss from Lacey (Kaylee Bryant). The two brothers mess up their prom-postals and end up having to attend the event together.  As they get ready for the prom, Jimmy insists that they are going to Hemsworth the dance.  Hysterically they both claim to be Chris, twice. 

By the end of the night, Shannon realizes she likes Ethan, Eileen has another  connection with VP Murray, Kenny gets his kiss from Lacey, Pat has  a great time at the prom and Kenny is disappointed. He has learned that reality rarely lives up to a hallucinatory version of events.

ABC have renewed this little comic gem.  Plimpton and company  rock it in this series and  this outside the box show is great fun.  Hurry up season two.

Fresh Off the Boat: Ken Jeong and Chris Rock (Review)

FORREST WHEELER, LUCILLE SOONG, HUDSON YANG, IAN CHEN, KEN JEONG, CONSTANCE WU, RANDALL PARK

“Fresh Off the Boat” finished its second season on a high. Ken Jeong turns up as Louis’ estranged brother Gene and Eddie is obsessed with seeing the newest Chris Rock comedy offering “Bring the Pain.”  Eddie’s girlfriend Alison (Isabella Alexander) is off to camp in 14 days time and he is desperate to see the Chris Rock concert on HBO and spend the rest of his summer with Alison. 

At the start of the season finale Eddie tires to talk Evan and Emery into watching the comedy special on the free HBO preview. They refuse, preferring to watch a math detective program instead.  The boys get into  a fight and Louis tells them off.  Jessica tells Louis that his brother in on the phone and he reacts angrily.

There are three battles going on in this episode.  On top of the reveal of how Louis got to America, Eddie is fighting his brothers to watch Chris Rock, Jessica fights to pay  Gene (Ken Jeong) back the $200 that he loaned her years ago and the two adult Huang brothers are fighting to sort out a years long estrangement.

In “Bring the Pain” we are introduced to  Chinese “polite-fights” which, according to Eddie, can get “hella intense.” Eddie  tries to outsmart his brothers, who have been made deputy moms,  only to lose out to his  math detective siblings.  The eldest Huang brother tapes the Chris Rock show on VHS and the two boys tape a message over it and an episode of Mamma’s Family.

Evan: “Those hayseeds.”

The storyline reveal, which is held till the very end of the episode, is that Gene (Jeong) and Louis (Randall Park) were told by their father at the hot springs that only one of them could go to America.  Both men begin a “Chinese polite-fight” when Louis caves in and agrees to go. Leaving Gene behind in Taiwan.  Gene’s life has been a long unsuccessful fight to find a career.

KEN JEONG
The blow up…

Gene arrives and tries to rebuild burnt bridges only to have everything go pear shaped.  After a huge argument with Louis, Gene packs his bags, dis-invites Louis and his family to the wedding and takes Grandma Huang with him.

Jessica (hopeful): “Forever?”

In the neighborhood, everyone has seen seen Chris Rock except Eddie. Going outside he sees his posse members silently sitting on lawn chairs . They all agree that the concert was life changing. Alison rushes up, she is dying to tell one of Chris’ jokes from the concert.

Alison:”You know what the good side of crack is?”

Eddie: “No! I haven’t seen it yet! Let Chris tell me!”

Alison: “Eddie, I thought you said you’d watch it.”

After a moment Trent butts into their conversation:

Trent: “Eddie… here’s the thing. We all want Alison to say the punchline to the crack joke. Alison wants to say the punchline to the crack joke. So you can either stay or scoot. In five, four, three, two, one.”

Eddie bolts.

Gene turns out to be funny.  He does impressions and honestly wants to “bury the hatchet” with his brother, who he asks to be his best man.  Things go well until he breaks the piano and refuses to pay for it.  Gene leaves with Grandma.

The Huang family are now headed to Taiwan to fix things.

Jessica continues to live in her own version of America and she reveals to us that, unlike Louis, she loves being an adult.  Speaking of Jessica, the best line of the evening reveals loads about her and Louis as a couple. She reacts oddly, but not for her as it is about a ring, to Gene’s news of the wedding ring. Gene turns to Louis and says, “Is she okay?”

Louis: “I never know”

Ken Jeong blended in effortlessly with the “Fresh Off the Boat”  cast and easily had the best gags on the show.  “No it is not a Tumi,” his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, goes right over Jessica’s head, but not ours.

Isabella Alexander was excellent in this episode, “We only have 13 days left!” The rest of the posse were also spot on this week with kudos going to Trevor Larcom as the Cleveland Browns loving Trent and Dash Williams as Brian “I wasn’t ready.” 

In terms of drama, that fight (not a polite one) between Louis and Gene was impressive. Both men looked upset, but Ken Jeong dug deep and conveyed anger, betrayal, hurt and regret.  Emmy anyone?

FORREST WHEELER, IAN CHEN, HUDSON YANG
Brother’s three watching Chris Rock on TV…

Ian Chen, Forrest Wheeler and Hudson Yang continue to act their little cotton socks off and help to make this show what it is.

Admittedly, “Fresh Off the Boat” was not an instantaneous favorite. Even  having Ray Wise and Chelsey Crisp as next door neighbors did not push the show automatically into favorite status.  It took  a few episodes and a brilliant cast to make it  a show not to be missed.

“Bring the Pain” was an excellent example of why the show works.  1990s topical relevance (HBO and Chris Rock and the Lethal Weapon mullet), a great guest star (Ken Jeong) and younger actors who get better with each episode.  A great end to a great season. Hurry back “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Stitchers: All In – Family Business (Review) Spoilers

EMMA ISHTA

Last week Liam Granger became another fatality in the long list of Stinger related deaths.  “All In” has the stitchers team doing just that as they attempt to pull Kirsten out of a honey trap.  Stinger has flown the coop yet again but proves to have a far reaching influence on Kirsten and the team. He is, as suspected, behind the glitches in Kirsten’s stitches since he has a quantum computer (one of five in the world).

By the end of the episode, Nina (Jasmin Savoy Brown) learns the truth about Cameron and Linus learns that his parents have always known he is NSA. Linus’ parents were actually approached by Les Turner and Baptiste while he was still in high school.  

More importantly, Kirsten learns that her mother is still alive.

(This was the episode being filmed while Mike’s Film Talk was on set in January this year. The scene were Blair orders the team to stop was being shot and observed by this writer “on the day” and, needless to say, the final cut  looks even better than I imagined it.)

The second season has been all about Stinger and Kirsten. As the series has progressed Ms. Clark has become fixated on finding her father and making him pay for his actions. This year has been a focus on Stinger and his murderous activities.   It seems that Daniel Stinger is the big bad in this scenario after all.

Or is he?

After Liam’s death last week, with a carefully aimed bullet sent through his memory cortex,  Kirsten stitches her ex and we are treated to a fragmented view, because of the bullet, and Liam is talking to…Who? Stinger?

(Stinger is played by C. Thomas Howell and in these tight close ups of “Stinger’s” eyes and nose,  it becomes apparent almost immediately that this is not Howell’s Daniel.  Blue eyes  instead of brown and the voice, as well as nose,  is all wrong. So who is this mystery-man – who looks more John Stamos than C. Thomas Howell?  It is  Jonathan Emerson, who  has either been drafted in to “shemp” for Howell, or he is the new Daniel Stinger.)

There is still the question of the female giving messages to Kirsten in the last season finale. That was not Stinger, could it have been Ivy? Did Daniel really opt to kill Liam via a bullet in the brain to keep him from talking?

Kirsten is coming loose at the seams in this episode. The stress of looking for her father is taking its toll. While she shares her frustration with Camille, in her ” Beautiful Mind” bedroom she realizes that someone moved a string. She looks accusingly as Camille.

“Don’t look at me. I don’t come in your room when you’re gone. This creeps me out.”

The entire team, with the exception of Fisher who is possibly patching things up with his wife, is coming close to breaking point. (Arguably, Cameron is  doing “all right” but with that close connection to Kirsten, his may be a temporary peace.) Maggie has learned something distressing about her son,  Camille has a full-blown case of the guilts because of Liam and she reached out to Quincy only to learn about his wife coming back into the picture. Linus looks precariously close to losing his Baba and Blair, a recent addition to the team, is a bully and an *ss.

Back to the episode plot line, Ivy did move the string. This was to lead Kirsten to her father. When she arrives, Stinger has fled and Ivy feels betrayed. It appears that there is a mole in the stitchers group who warned Brown that Kirsten was not alone.  Before she leaves for questioning, Ivy reveals to her half-sister that Ed Clark did not tell her everything. Kirsten’s mother is still alive.

Kirsten confronts Blair and it ends badly for her. She then goes to speak with Cameron and they prove that those feelings (regardless of Nina) are still there. Kirsten comes home and  tells Camille that she feels alone.

A slightly inebriated Camille helps Kirsten to backtrack information and they discover that Ed did leave Kirsten a clue about her mother. The urn with his ashes had a binary clue that was an address and an entry code.

The two head to the location and discover a hibernation unit with a doctor inside. He is dying and does not make it past the point of discovery.  Linus learns that his parents have always known what he does and who he works for.

Kirsten and the team go to stitch the dead doc and Blair (John Billingsley) bursts into the lab to stop the proceedings.  He orders Maggie to halt and she ignores him. The new “big boss” is escorted over to Camille and ordered to watch.

The glitch reappears and it is young Cameron again.

(A quick sidenote here about the young actor playing young Cameron; Willem Miller. This lad has done three other projects, one of which was his playing a young Tom Sawyer in “Band of Robbers” and this youngster is one to watch for. Great performances with an adult nuance in each and every gesture and look.  Brilliant actor here and one that will go far.)

This time the group try to map where the signal is coming from and learn that it is coming from Stinger’s quantum computer.  Kirsten learns that the young Cameron is not the real Cameron and they realize that Stinger had been hacking them the entire time, Kirsten is taken from the stitch by young Cameron.

Captain Stamperson and his thugs arrive to shut everything down and disarm Quincy and he takes time to taunt Cameron.  Tim (Cameron Britton) steps up to save the day, a’la last season where he stepped up and saved everyone, with a polite “Excuse me” and a right uppercut which launches Stamperson into the air with a hard floor landing. The NSA goons are overpowered and the team try to extract Kirsten. 

In the stitch, Stinger has lead his daughter deeper into her own mind.  Using avatars of her as a child and of her mother, he forces Kirsten to get caught up in a childhood moment. Kirsten does not want to leave this memory and Stinger encourages her to stay.

The team hijack the hack and allow Cameron to interact with Kirsten via his younger avatar.  The show ends with Cameron reminding Kirsten that her real family (her friends at the lab) love her and want her to come back. The camera pulls back and fade to black.

Pop Culture References:

Samwise Gamgee and Frodo – a double reference. Not only does this reflect the “Rings” trilogy but it also references “The Interview” where  James Franco’s character calls Seth Rogen his Samwise Gamgee to his Frodo.

Frodo again.

Let’s light this candle – Alan  Shepard astronaut “The Right Stuff.”

C3PO – requires no explanation.

Final Thoughts:

This episode was a recap of all the pain felt by Kirsten throughout the series.  There were some funny moments. (The scene where she hears herself speaking to Liam and says, “did I really sound like a robot?” Cameron suppresses a giggle and says no but Camille pipes up with “An angry robot.”)  Mostly though the episode was about how the search for Stinger was isolating her.

Blair turns out to be miles worse than the late Les Turner. The new program head is a major douche who was not afraid to belittle his greatest asset.

“All In” finished with Kirsten still inside her own mind and Cameron holding her hand.  We still do not know the fate of Maggie’s son and it looks like “Baba” is not going to make it. This was, as promised,  a darker season and how disturbing is it to think that Daniel Stinger would imprison his daughter in her own mind.

This has been a brilliant second season and Freeform need to greenlight a third season…Right now. “Stitchers” equals great television, entertainment on a level above and beyond the mediocrity on offer elsewhere.