Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite – Woz, Sex and Huge Appetites (Review)

Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite begins with the Woz’s crew participating in warrant day and one of the outstanding fugitives chased down has a car trunk full of heroin.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite begins with  Woz’s crew participating in warrant day and one of the outstanding fugitives chased down has a car trunk full of heroin. Before the end of the episode, sex becomes a factor for more than one character and Matt reveals to Raul Mendez that he has huge appetites and no hangups concerning his bisexuality.

At the end of the episode Woz is still looking for his rat, but Raul Mendez is sorted.  Matt uses the drug dealer’s homophobia against him removing any power that the funeral director felt he had over Woz.  Mendez is also removed from the city and placed in Philly by the new dealer in the neighborhood.

Tufo  spots a tail while waiting for his partner Saperstein; who is getting language lessons from a Brazilian hooker.  Donny Pomp has members of Internal Affairs watching Woz’s crew in an attempt to find the rat. Harlee informs Stahl who steps in and tells Pomp to back off.

Harlee keeps stringing Stahl along with partial information and complains to her handler’s boss about what she sees (rightly) as stalker type behavior.   In the meantime, Santos discovers her daughter’s secret boyfriend and loses the plot a little.  The detective also calls in a favor from her old trainer, Caddie who she springs from jail a week early.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Harlee aggressively questions the “boyfriend.”

The former cop/trainer sets up surveillance at Stahl’s place before shooting up again and Harlee just misses learning just how inappropriate her handler’s interest is in her.

Woz, on top of his issues with Raul pushing boundaries,  catches Trish in bed with Espada.  Matt is understandably upset, but at least he realizes that this is why Nazario has been acting “sketchy” and not because she is the rat.  Woz tells Trish that:

“Men are dogs.”

After his little talk to Nazario, he tells her to stop the affair with her partner. Harlee gives her daughter a chance to come clean about the boyfriend and Cristina opts to continue the lie.  Trish and Espada talk after Woz caught them together and she tells her partner that Woz was right, men are dogs.

Santos believes that Stahl has placed a bug in her house and after checking does not find any evidence to support her suspicions.  She misses the FBI agent telling a $500 an hour escort that he will be calling her “Harlee,” during their “date.”

This episode opens things up with many of the characters. Ray Liotta as Woz reveals layers and his   crooked bisexual cop shows that he is not afraid to use sex to destroy the opposition. When Raul Mendez attempts to use Matt’s sexual preferences against him, Woz turns the tables and destroys the drug dealer.

Jennifer Lopez, as Harlee Santos, continues to work through that “glamour” issue and Warren Kole is spot on as the stalker-y douche who really does have an  inappropriate interest in his mole.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Warren Kole as FBI Agent Stahl…

Shades of Blue has gotten darker with the reveal that Stahl rehearses in front of a mirror before his hooker arrives in order to sound “natural” and Woz has his drug dealer forcibly”sodomized” by his replacement (and video-taped)  as punishment for his homophobic attack on the crooked cop.

This series has tightened up a good deal since starting and while Lopez may still be too gorgeous to convince visually as a cop, she plays her part with a truth that takes away from the glamour factor. The question of just how much the crew instigate for the “greater good” is too far outside the law.

Mad props to the other crew members of Woz’s little gang. Drea de Matteo, as Trish, has managed to bring her character back from the edge of “crazy” that threatened to destroy the woman desperate to save her marriage and Hampton Fluker is spot on as Marcus Tofu, the jokey cop who never knows when to leave it alone. 

Shades of Blue steps into dark sexual territory in this episode. Stahl is seen preparing to feed his appetite (for Harlee via proxy). Woz is seen to be a voracious bisexual and apparently Cristina is active with the secret boyfriend.  Sex is also used as a weapon against Raul.

This drama airs Thursdays on NBC. Tune in and see where this series heads next and just how dark things will turn.

Superstore: Secret Shopper – Forklift Mayhem and Bonding

Superstore has officially left “The Office” territory and in Secret Shopper the show heads into blissful comedic mayhem as Amy and Jonah (Ace) bond over a forklift in the warehouse.

Superstore - Season 1

Superstore has officially left “The Office” territory and in Secret Shopper the show heads into blissful comedic mayhem as Amy and Jonah (Ace) bond over a forklift in the warehouse. Of course there is still a slight “remnant” of awkward colleagues who belong in the Gervais creation; Mateo (Nico Santos) and Dina (Lauren Ash) both fit “The Office” bill by regularly providing “cringe-worthy” moments. 

In Superstore, these two “associates” class easily as “work-mates” from hell. The kind one would go to great lengths to avoid. Jonah (Ben Feldman) is a “Sesame Street” associate, as in “one of these things is not like the others” but he is, at least, amusing and attempts to get on with everyone else when not butting heads with Amy (America Ferrera).

While this episode was principally about the bane of every retail business’s existence; the secret shopper, Amy and Jonah take over this storyline with their episode long feud. The escalation of hostilities begins with the news that Jonah “aced” the company test.  This immediately gets the new employee the nickname of Ace, and a name badge to match, along with his picture on the wall with “top scorer” under it.

Amy’s reaction speaks volumes about how she feels about the whole thing:

“You know you’re just asking someone to draw a penis on your face, right?”

Later a familiar looking hand is caught drawing something (tastefully pixelated) on Jonah’s picture in the hallway.

After the floor supervisor’s somewhat derisory reaction to the news that Jonah scored 100 percent on the test, the two begin to argue…about everything.  Amy asks “Ace” to stock up the charcoal briquettes in “Patio” and he tells his boss that they are meant to be in “Grocery” per new Cloud 9 guidelines.

Amy then explains why they need to be in Patio and to put them there. Jonah goes over her head, speaking to store manager Glenn (Mark McKinney) escalating the mini feud.  All the while Dina interrogates all the customers she believes to be the secret shopper and Mateo works hard to kiss Jonah’s a** believing that “Ace” is a Cloud 9 undercover employee secret shopper. 

By the end of the episode Amy and Jonah have actually bonded, a bit anyway, and Mateo, along with Dina, manage to sully the store’s secret shopper results.

Superstore - Season 1
Lauren Ash as Dina

Standout Moments:

The “Blade Runner” reference at the start of the episode.

Mateo stomping all over Garrett’s attempt to help the gorgeous female customer looking for a man’s hat.

The public address argument between Amy and Jonah.

Amy and Jonah, again, with their entire forklift/warehouse scene.

That suspiciously familiar hand (Amy’s) drawing what is obviously a penis on Jonah’s picture.

Dina accosting the old lady looking for a hidden camera.

Garrett identifying the secret shopper, who is the same one as “last year,” while eating the meatballs Mateo brought for Jonah.

Overall Thoughts:

It has to be said that the comedic highlights of this Superstore episode were the two big scenes between Amy (Ferrera) and Jonah (Feldman). Both  were hysterically funny. The “married couple” fight over the PA was tear inducing, as in “laughing till tears rolled.”

Amy, finishing up the public (See what we did there?) argument by swearing and then meekly telling a shocked customer to “Have a heavenly day,” was priceless.

The pinnacle of funny in Secret Shopper was the forklift being welded by both Amy and Jonah. (Both the PA fight and the forklift chaos was funny enough to be mentioned twice.) The two destroy the warehouse stocking system to the sounds of Onyx’ “Slam.” Sheer brilliance, followed by a moment of “getting to know you” revelations.  “Ace” flunked out of his business course and Amy is taking college classes.

The moment ends with Jonah suggesting that they leave and blame the chaos on the shelving system. Amy agrees and as they leave, he sets off the forklift again and the machine heads onto the shop floor.

Superstore - Season 1
Jonah, Garrett and Mateo watch their Secret Shopper results.

Superstore: Secret Shopper is easily the funniest episode yet and has slammed this NBC comedy treat into the zone of clear favorites.  America Ferrera and Ben Feldman are the dynamic duo of comedy in this show and not to be missed. The series airs Mondays on NBC.  Delightful comedy like this is hard to find, miss it and miss out.

 

Galavant: Episodes 5 & 6 – Nick Frost and Sheridan Smith (Review)

Galavant, with episodes 5 and 6 continues with a guest star roster to die for, Robert Lindsay is still playing Wormwood the wedding planner and evil schemer and Sheridan Smith comes in to play a hirsute princess who does not like weddings.

 JOSHUA SASSE, NICK FROST

Galavant, with episodes 5 and 6 continues with a guest star roster to die for, Robert Lindsay is still playing Wormwood the wedding planner and evil schemer and Sheridan Smith comes in to play a hirsute princess who does not like weddings.  Another well-known performer plays a giant, Nick Frost.  Sadly no one appears as a hobbit since they were eaten by the starving Galavant, Richard and “Bobbi.”

It has to be said that after disliking this series intently upon the first viewing, it has slowly but surely become a favorite.  The combination of great guest stars and repeated viewings has ensured that this comical ode to all things musical has overcome the initial misgivings and annoyance at the songs all sounding the same.

Of course it took the next episode, with guest star Eddie Marsan, who  plays death,  doing his song and dance which did, suddenly, sound completely different from all other songs in the second season that  won this dubious heart over.

Sidenote: completely unrelated to “Galavant,” but Eddie Marsan does appear to be in everything thing at the moment.  No complaints here though as Marsan has been a favorite performer for years, but he really seems to be everywhere.   

The omnipresent Marsan aside, he does not appear in either of these two episodes,  but the end of number 6, About Last Knight, with Galavant being skewered by the sword that Sid throws, his entrance in episode 7 is assured…

Episode 5:

Before the “death” of Galavant the trio of protagonists run into the giants  headed up by Andre (Nick Frost) and the dwarves.  Each group are the same height, at first glance all being around 5’8″ or 9″, as Frost is the former…

The whole battle between antagonists is down to a bridge built where one side is “dwarf size” and the other “giant size.” Leaving aside the ludicrous concept of each faction not recognizing that they are the same height (something that Bobbi sings brilliantly about) the whole thing is a long build up to a homage to…wait for it….West Side Story.

Galavant meets with the giants, who convinced Richard earlier that an iguana is in fact a fire breathing dragon and exchanged the creature for the jewel of Valencia, to get the gem back, or to convince them to join his fight to free Isabella.

Richard sides with the dwarves and just as things look to get fiery, Roberta fixes the bridge and stops the hostilities. Unfortunately the two warring groups then decide that they have to sort themselves and the bridge out properly.

Standout Moments:

Andre the Giant (Get it? Get it?) and his line about the dwarves complaining about the bridge:

“And those whiny little b*tches…”

The grumbling by the giants each time Galavant mentions dwarves.

The romance building between the Queen and King Gareth and Sid talking to his “Bro” Gareth warning him not to fall in love with Madalena and the end results.

SHERIDAN SMITH
Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith doing her version of Miley Cyrus…

The whole finger-snapping and whistling West Side Story set piece…

The show of hands bit and “shirts and skins.”

Sid learning that Gareth does not practice the “bro code.”

Episode 6:

About Last Knight goes all out with another homage, this one with Sid’s performance a’la Les Mes...where he rouses the peasants to revolt but tells them in graphic detail what will happen when they do and then finds himself all alone at the song’s finale.

The trio of heroes have yet another horse run out of steam and Richard complains about having to eat a family of Hobbits.  Magdalena tries to make Gareth’s birthday special, Galavant and his two followers run into poppa Galavant and Isabella kicks off about having to relinquish her bra to Prince Harry.

Standout Moments:

Sid (Luke Youngblood) and his Les Miserables song…

Wormwood’s firing by Isabella and as Chester (Robert Lindsay) leaves he keeps dispensing advice about the upcoming wedding while simultaneously cursing the princess.

Richard (Timothy Omundson) and his complete inability to “play” with children.

Gareth’s response to Magdalena’s surprise party (he runs through at least three party members).

The pub scene where Gareth cannot pick  fight with anyone.

The Forest of Coincidence.

Honorable Mention:

Daddy Arnold Galavant and his “I stitched them myself.”

Robert Lindsay’s “Crazy war minded monsters” line.

Roberta’s response to Galavant  when he accuses her of “caring about Richard:”

“Love him?”

The “He was There” song; specifically the lyrics;  “gave me all your underwear,  he gave me all the gear he gave to you” and of course, “he’s behind me.”

Overall Thoughts:

Despite the “shock” of Galavant (Joshua Sasse) catching Sid’s thrown sword with his chest, it is a certainty that the hero of this piece will not die.  (At least we hope not, the only thing that could be worse would be if Richard was to be extinguished before chasing that damned unicorn away.)  Still, episode 7 will feature the grim reaper so fans beware…

Galavant airs Sundays on ABC and at two episodes a whack, will not last much longer. Tune in, re-watch the older episodes, and season one while you are at  it, and enjoy this little comedic homage to all things musical.

 

The Grinder: A Bittersweet Grind (Review)

Grinder_Ep105-Sc15_0291_jm_hires1

The Rob Lowe, Fred Savage comedy, The Grinder continues to entertain. A Bittersweet Grind proves that FOX got it right by adding this to their Tuesday night lineup.  Guest star Christina Applegate (Married with Children, Up All Night) plays an old flame of Dean Sanderson (she took his virginity on prom night pre-The Grinder TV show) and Applegate’s Gail Budnick lights Dean’s fire…for a short time.

The episode has Dean bemoaning the fact that all the women he has sex with want to do so while  his old eight year TV show plays. His relationships are all based on one-night stands with fans who want to fantasize about making love to his character on the show.

Of course, the path of love being  based on the old character that Dean played on television does not set well.  Stewart decides to set up his big brother with his old prom date and peace reigns supreme at the Sanderson home and at the law firm for a short time as Dean gets caught up in what seems to be the perfect romance.

Back at the Sanderson home, Ethan wants to date and when Stewart and Debbie give him the okay, Lizzie gets a little upset as she is not allowed to date…Although it does seem that this ban applies only to Zadak.

When Dean meets his old high school flame, Gail insists she knows nothing of his old show The Grinder, and reads books for entertainment.  The two former lovebirds hit it off brilliantly and Dean even takes to Gail’s son.

Everything falls apart at a meal given by Budnick and Dean for his brother and sister-in-law.  Getting caught up in the moment Gail quotes a line from “The Grinder” and Dean is crushed to learn she has lied.  While his sweetheart is upset that the relationship is through, she talks Dean into having sex while watching his old show.

Rob Lowe is brilliant as the ex-television star who believes that playing a lawyer on TV makes him qualified to work at the family firm. Savage, as his little brother, who really is a lawyer, exudes an air of frustrated love for his older sibling while trying to control fits of major frustration and annoyance.

The cast of this FOX comedy all deliver.  Tuesday’s episode, A Bittersweet Grind shows just how adept each member of the cast are at timing and pacing. Mary Elizabeth Ellis is perfect as Savage’s wife and her comedic skills are beyond reproach. Equally impressive are the two actors who portray the Sanderson kids.

Hana Hayes and Conor Kalopsis both kill it as the Sanderson children Lizzie and Ethan.  This episode did feature less of William Devane, who plays Dean’s and Stewart’s father, Dean Senior.

The storylines of The Grinder may revolve around a “one joke” premise, but each episode steps away from repeating the gag too often. In A Bittersweet Grind, Dean, the TV star “lawyer” is looking for love and wants to feel relevant, hence his acting like a dad to Gail’s grown son.

By the end of the episode, after the relationship has gone south, Stewart and Dean discuss Ethan’s inappropriate date with Brie and the men realize that the boy is more like Dean than Stewart. Dean volunteers to talk to Ethan and Stewart agrees, much to his brother’s delight.

This is a funny show. The comedy works and the laughs are generated without a laugh-track or studio audience.  The performers are all actors working in a comic situational show where the humor lies in the storyline versus a series of “gags.”

The Grinder airs Tuesdays on FOX and this is well written, and well executed comedy.  One point of contention is the lack of identification of the actress in the scene from “the show” where Dean Sanderson’s character “the grinder” declares his love. She looks a lot like Linda Cardellini, any suggestions or thoughts on who the performer is would be appreciated.

 

 

Blindspot: Split the Law – Black Sites and Gambling

Blindspot - Season 1

The world of Blindspot just got darker and more convoluted.  According to some sites the viewing figures for this Jaimie Alexander vehicle are falling.  Despite these ominous signs of slippage, Split the Law, a tattoo of the week that leads to CIA black sites, dirty bombs and the realities of gambling debts,  was entertaining.  This week sees more memories come flooding back as Jane tries to fit into the Taylor Shaw mold that Weller sees her in.

As predicted, each week has turned into a tattoo terrorist threat, but compared with the other FBI show on offer this season, this NBC series is less about procedure and more about mystery.  A sort of spy thriller set in the US where the enigma that is Jane Doe/Taylor Shaw is the biggest mystery of all.  The woman may be getting her memories back, oh so slowly, but there are still “hundreds” of tattoos to be deciphered and questions answered.

While viewing figures may be slipping the show is at least interesting and contains a strong female lead in Alexander. Other female characters in the series are also positive role models, even FBI Agent Zapata (Audrey Esparza) who, by the end of the episode takes money from CIA rotter Carter,  manages to have an expression of self loathing on her face while taking an envelope full of money.

Patterson (it is  quite interesting that on IMDb this regular character, played so well by Ashley Johnson that her character feels like the most realistic one in the show, is listed only by her surname) is another positive female role model.  Regardless of the characters in the show feeling real or not, the script allows enough leeway for each one to at least feel multidimensional.

Although Carter, the douche on two-legs who clearly wants Jane Doe dead, does feel a little like a pantomime villain.  Despite this fact,  actor Michael Gaston deserves major kudos for making this CIA boogeyman so despicable.  

The story this week involved the making of a dirty bomb and the good guys becoming confrontational after the bomb maker is caught on US soil, in a cemetery no less.

In Split the Law, a group of people are taken hostage as a coverup for the rescue of a CIA asset who was left to dangle in the wind by the agency. A number of innocent people are killed and Jane Doe helps the team figure out what really happened. The rescued man is a bomb builder who is making a dirty bomb.

Granted the plot with villains hiding amongst hostages may not be the most overtly original but the subplot itself, a CIA black site on US soil and a conniving head of operations attempting to cover up illegal operations takes the overall storyline up a notch or two.  On top of the CIA issues with Jane Doe and the FBI leader herself, the team are still divided about the tattooed woman and her presence out in the field.

Reade (Rob  Brown) even publicly sides with Carter and is chastised by Zapata afterwards because of it.

Blind Spot: Split the Law - Black Sites and Gambling

The shootout at the cemetery, where the radioactive waste is tracked down, ends with a stand off between the two agencies. Carter is stopped from shooting Jane by Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) but then walks away from the man with her back to him. (One cannot help but wonder at her confidence that this man will not shoot her in the back.)

Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) tries to get Jane to fit into the Taylor Shaw backstory and invites her to a meal with sis and his nephew. During the meal Jane gets overwhelmed with flashbacks of being led out of her house as a child.  Disturbed by the visions she leaves the meal and later explains to Weller that his expectations are upsetting to her.

By the end of the episode Weller walks out on his father, Zapata sells out to Carter and there is trouble brewing between the local FBI and the CIA.  Despite the fact that we know Tasha has a gambling debt she cannot pay, it comes as a shock to see that she, and not Reade, sells Jane Doe out to Carter.

It does seem odd that Weller cannot accept his father after learning that dad had nothing to do with the disappearance of  Taylor Shaw, aka Jane Doe. The woman may have had her memory wiped and is now covered from head to toe in tattoos but she is clearly alive. The walking out by Kurt when faced with his father is confusing. Perhaps there is more to this estrangement than meets the eye.

Blindspot - Season 1

Blindspot may be a “tattoo terrorist” of the week plot, but it is a good combination of action and subterfuge. There could be less time spent in each and every episode with Jaimie Alexander’s illustrated woman proving, yet again, how bada** she is by pummeling some hapless idiot into submission.

We get it, this woman is dangerous and a walking weapon. Let us move on and get into the meat of this mystery. Like, what was Operation Daylight and why is Carter so determined to see Jane dead?  Most importantly who put all those tattoos on the woman with all those clues, each a “foretelling” of some type of terrorist activity?

Viewers who want answers should head over to NBC on Mondays to find out.