Superstore: All-Nighter – Party Signs (Review)

This week in Superstore: All-Nighter, a party breaks out when Glenn the store manager has a major meltdown after “corporate” locks all the Cloud 9 employee in while they are putting up the new signs.

Superstore - Season 1

This week in Superstore:  All-Nighter, a party breaks out when Glenn the store manager has a major meltdown after “corporate” locks all the Cloud 9 employee in while they are putting up the new signs.  After the varying degrees of reactions by all, only Glenn maintains his usual demeanor until a “gripe session” run by Jonah.

The episode opens with a customer who refuses to leave the store, despite it being past closing time. Everyone attempts to get the “d*ck” to leave and only Mateo manages to push the man out with a floor mop.

Just as the obstinate customer is shoved out, Glenn comes in to announce that they all need to stay late to replace the old Cloud 9 signs with new ones. As the disgruntled associates and supervisors begin reluctantly replacing the signs, the lights go off and the exit doors all lock.

Glenn explains that all the store’s lights and exits are controlled by “corporate.” Amy is panicking because she has to study for a mid-term, Cheyenne needs to attend her senior dance recital and everyone is annoyed. Ben tries to make the best of the situation and taking a leaf from “Madagascar” suggests that all the trapped employees join him in the “fun zone” where they can do what they want.

Superstore - Season 1
Mateo to the rescue

Later Ben starts an “encounter” session where they can all talk about what they regret.  When it is Glenn’s turn, he starts out denying that he regrets anything and then loses his usual calm.

After the store manager begins talking about life before Cloud 9 he suffers a meltdown where  he reveals how he really feels about the store chain.  While spouting angrily about everything he hates, Glenn rips off his tie and shirt before running off.  The employees are bemused:

Amy: “What just happened?”

Garrett: “I think we broke Glenn.”

The store manager “damages” a number of liquor bottles and starts a party. As the drinks flow, games commence; one of which is “Never Have I Ever.”  Later, while searching for the codes that will unlock the store, Dina learns that supervisors are no longer “not allowed” to date subordinates, just “strongly discouraged” from doing so.

The associates all party down, staging competitions, using the children’s toy section merchandise, and put on a fashion show.

After Dina discovers this relaxing of rules, the lovesick supervisor firmly sets her sights on seducing Ben in the “bang room,” aka the Photo Lab, and gets Mateo to help her with a makeover.  Meanwhile Cheyenne performs an interpretive dance as Dina makes her move on Jonah.

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Garrett and Amy admire Cheyenne’s pre “Baby Got Back” dance…

This episode manages to address the Dina crush on Jonah and the tantalizing relationship between “Amy” and Jonah as well.  It also lets Glenn show his true feelings behind his iron-clad control of “Mr Nice Guy.”

Standout Moments:

Glenn, and the entire store, trusting a stranger to bring them the code card from the manager’s locked car. The man,  after learning where the key is hidden, steals the car instead.

Cheyenne’s recital performance starting with “True Colors” and then,  as her co-workers express admiration for her beautiful movements, segways into “Baby Got Back” aka “I Like Big Butts.”

Mateo clearly implying that he has eaten human flesh in the “Never Have I Ever” game.

The entire Dina and Jonah moment in the Photo Lab wins the award for most cringeworthy moment in a TV show since The Office.

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Doggy Glenn…

The fashion show and Amy’s spot on announcements, particularly the one for Glenn’s doggy outfit:

“…and now we have Glenn, rocking the ‘Don’t Let Him Near Your Children Collection.’  Oh, shake what the good lord gave you, Glenn…”

Honorable Mentions:

Myrtle and her hysterectomy story preamble, “It was 1953…” and the bicycle tire entrance during the fashion show.

Glenn’s line to Dina after she requests to be demoted and leaves the store while still wearing her Jonah seduction outfit:

“Why are you dressed like my mother?”

Verdict:

Superstore still manages to entertain almost effortlessly. America FerraraBen Feldman, Lauren Ash, Mark McKinney,Colton Dunn and Nichole Bloom all deliver every week, with Linda Porter (as Myrtle) stepping up to join Nico Santos and Kaliko Kauahi as another “regular” Cloud 9 associate. 

This series airs Mondays on NBC. Tune in and enjoy the awkwardness and the hilarity of Superstore.

The Expanse: Season Finale – Wholesale Carnage (Review)

The last few episodes of The Expanse, including the two episode season finale of Critical Mass/Leviathan Wakes featured an amped up amount of wholesale carnage.

The Expanse - Season 1

The last few episodes of The Expanse, including the two episode season finale of Critical Mass/Leviathan Wakes featured an amped up amount of wholesale carnage.  Unlike the start of the series, where death came in small doses, against a squalid and bleak background of suppression and racism, the end of season one offered up death in economy sized quantities.

A few questions are answered amidst all this morbidity.  Not least of which being who was behind the destruction of the Cant and the Martian vessel (Donnager)  that Holden and his small crew escaped from by the skin of their teeth. The horrific death of Julie Mao is also revealed as is the connection between the Earther who became an honorary Belter and Anderson Dawes.

The pacing of the show increased as Holden and his survivors discover the Anubis with its deadly cargo from Phoebe (in the episode Salvage). They also learn of the existence of Lionel Polanski (Mao) and that the lone crew member to escape the Anubis was headed to Eros; the place where the U.N.N. plans that James Holden (Steven Straitwill die.

The Expanse - Season 1
Julie Mao, aka Lionel Polanski

The Expanse may not manage to top that huge shoot-em-up aboard the Donnager, where the entire crew of the Martian vessel fought ferociously for Holden and his crew  to escape the stealth fighters attacking the ship, but it comes close in the final three episodes. In terms of death count, the carnage may not be as bloody or spectacular but the body count, in the season finale,  is massive.

After Mao’s body is found, lying on the floor with the Phoebe organism infused throughout her corpse, the dead girl’s father gives his scientist (Dresden) the go ahead to infect all of Eros while irradiating the entire populace as well.  In Salvage,  Miller (Thomas Jane)  teamed up with Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos in the middle of the tech shootout set up by the Tycho spy, who gets away before the battle starts.

This new team stick together and once the Dresden experiment begins, where the population are herded into shelters for infection and death,  Holden and Miller scramble to escape Eros as Namoi and the rest head to the Roci.

As the finale moves to its conclusion, the former cop and the Earther team up to learn what is happening in the shelters and receive fatal doses of radiation for their trouble While  Naomi, Alex and Amos, along with Semi, head toward the Roci,  The two dying men fight their way to the ship hoping to get there before Naomi takes off.

They have three hours.

Amid all the carnage on Eros, quite a lot of it actually; with denizens killed wholesale in shelters, criminal gangs killing those who refuse to go into the areas, Holden, Miller and Naomi killing off a number of baddies and the Phoebe organism consuming everyone else, there is a moment for poignancy and a chance to consider poor Julie Mao.

The Expanse reveals the lonely death of Lionel Polanski (Florence Faivreand it is horrific as it is tragic. As this world moves toward war, players in this drama are scrambling to stay safe. Christen Avasarala decides to hide in plain sight while everything unravels around her.

Some questions are answered about the less important curiosities in the series. For instance Miller’s hat has a backstory (turns out to be Semi’s hat and not Miller’s at all) and a small slice of the ex cop’s childhood is revealed.  (A brilliant scene that takes place in a pachinko parlor.)

The Expanse - Season 1
Miller got backstory…

By the end of the season finale, The Expanse sets things up for its second season with finesse.  Miller has joined forces with Holden, Amos has shown he follows Naomi without question when it counts and that Julie Mao’s father may have shed a tear when she died, but her death will not stop his plans to exploit the Phoebe organism.

The cast have all performed impeccably in terms of fleshing out their characters and making them memorable. Kudos to Cas AnvarWes ChathamDominique Tipper and Shohreh Aghdashloo who gave their roles moments of splendid truth. 

SyFy have approved the series for a second season and one can only hope that it entertains as thoroughly as this one.

Quantico: Guilty – Wait a Minute…What?

ANNE HECHE, YASMINE AL MASSRI, PRIYANKA CHOPRA, JAKE MCLAUGHLIN, TATE ELLINGTON

Quantico: Guilty follows up nicely from last week’s episode of Over. Oded Fehr turns up a an interrogator for HIG (What ever that stands for), Anne Hecht (in what could be seen as a sort of skewed type casting) plays an M.E. who Simon turns in for falsifying evidence and Alex pleads guilty to the charges read by a grim faced judge…Wait a minute…What?

The show was doing well, with its mystery of who set up Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) with a long list of suspects, each more convincingly laid out than the previous.  Caleb Haas, Liam O’Connor and the rest were all prime suspects and now, after a “last minute” save by Liam, Alex is free from uber baddy Griffin Wells (Fehr) and Ryan has been saved from another double-fingered invasion by the president’s interrogator. 

Caleb, turns out to have been a “good guy” all along and he discovers the missing link that helps to get Alex off the hook.  The Nimah “twins” work to help prove what Haas Jr has found is correct and it is all “happy families” by the end of the impromptu investigation by the “we believe Alex team.”

However…

Liam, who still seems pretty dubious as “hero” tells Alex that whoever framed her needs to believe that she has rolled over and confessed. Parrish being behind bars will trick the real terrorist into making a mistake and will lead the authorities to the other bomb.  In the flashback sequence, where Simon (Tate Ellington) almost gets an air bubble injected into his spinal cord by Dr. Langdon (Anne Heche), he turns in the M.E. for falsifying evidence.

This must be what leads to his being dismissed by the bureau, who have already proven that they will close ranks to protect their own, and the “teaser” is that Asher, speaking in Hebrew (?) meeting with the bomb maker and gets a parcel from the man. Add to this action his anti-FBI and American rhetoric and it looks like Simon may be the terrorist who framed Alex and then helped to clear her.

W…T…F?

Or in polite parlance…Wait a minute chaps, something is not adding up here. Granted, it appears that everyone in this foray into FBI training and after is not who they say they are. On top of all these hidden agendas and fictitious backstories as well as mighty suspicious secrets, we have Caleb’s father who is about as pure as the driven slush and Liam who seems to be conveniently crawling back into the bottle when Alex learns the “truth.”

There is also the flashback portion of the show, with Dr. Langdon bringing up “blind spots” (a pretty important plot point in present day Quantico) which is meant to make Simon seem guilty as hell.

Sidenote: Both Oded Fehr and Anne Heche knock it out of the park with their guest roles.  Best bits of the episode’s storyline came from these two performers’ portion of the show. 

ANNE HECHE
Anne Heche as Dr. Langdon

The clincher, in this “cliffhanger” is Alex pleading guilty to all the charges levied.  Okay, Liam has apparently talked Parrish into going for the feint, where she stays “locked up” in order to expose the real bomber, but pleading guilty, in court, in an orange jumpsuit will result in jail time sans bail (If we are to assume anything even closely resembling reality.) effectively taking her out of the search for the real terrorist. Not too mention gumming up the legal works for a long time when, and if, Liam sets matters straight. In the real world, despite the reason, someone would be in serious trouble.

Granted, Quantico is not “real life” but as the creator opted to set the show in a real world institution/organization (the FBI) certainly more than a nod to procedure and  training at the academy is required.  We all love a mystery, but this one is beginning to resemble a kitchen sink drama where everyone and everything, including the thing we hand wash our dishes and delicates in, has been thrown into the mix.

Leaving the overly long list of suspects, some of whom have been cleared…maybe…Alex pleading guilty makes the suspension of disbelief that bit more difficult to maintain.  So too, is the idea that Simon is the terrorist.  Out of all the suspects being trotted out (like a game of Clue (Cluedo) on steroids or LSD – “It was Col Mustard, Miss White, Rev Green and Professor Plum in the library with the spanner, axe, pistol, pipe!”) the most likely one, at this juncture,  is Caleb’s daddy.

This man is so desperate to have his personal emails, and Shelby’s remember, scrubbed that he even asks for one that could clear Alex to be taken care of as well. Later, the agent who sent him the message is found dead, sans phone.   The philandering husband, father and FBI bigwig should be immediately placed in the number one spot of suspect by the viewer and the “teaser” about Simon disregarded completely.

Still, the title says Guilty. So the plot of Quantico must follow the formula and place Alex in that status. Although with the current storyline Parrish has been considered guilty from minute one so is this a case of redundancy in title cleverness? She could also be incarcerated with a  plea of “not guilty” so what the heck is going on, why the overkill?

With one episode left and the first episode in 2016 being titled “Inside” it seems that this thread will run its course and Alex will go to prison, on remand till her trial, and that everyone who matters will know that she really is innocent.

Sure…

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC and is suspension of disbelief is a problem…give this one a miss…Sorry Joshua Safran you lost me on this one.

 

 

Rosewood: Fashionistas and Fasciitiss (Review)

Pictured above are: Morris Chestnut (Rosie), Jaina Lee Ortiz as Villa and guest star Taye Diggs, as Rosewood’s competition with the woman detective in the middle. Rosewood: Fashionistas and Fasciitiss may have a storyline about murder in the Miami fashion industry, but the episode is really about love and relationships.

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Pictured above are: Morris Chestnut (Rosie), Jaina Lee Ortiz as Villa and guest star Taye Diggs, as Rosewood’s competition with the woman detective in the middle. Rosewood: Fashionistas and Fasciitiss may have a storyline about murder in the Miami fashion industry, but the episode  is really about love and relationships. 

Long time fans of Diggs may remember that he was the only other survivor (along with Ali Larter) to make it out of the House on Haunted Hill, back in 1999.  They may also remember his role as Winston Shakespeare in the 1998 film How Stella Got Her Groove BackIf this trip down memory lane seems irrelevant to this episode of Rosewood, where Taye plays Dr Mike Boyce, Rosie’s best friend and completion for the attention of Villa, re-watch the episode.

Rosewood’s mother, who just announced in a previous episode, along with dad, that their marriage was over, has started dating and it is mentioned, not a few times, that:

“Stella’s getting her groove back…”

Coincidence? Not likely. The writing in this show is tight, clever and entertaining.  This is clearly a nod and wink to the guest star, who may or may not become a recurring character.  Show creatorTodd Harthan has put a lot into making this show resonant with crisp and amusing dialogue and parallel plot lines.

Hard work has gone into making Chestnut’s character, and indeed the rest of the characters, feel like a three dimensional man.  With lines that feel unscripted, which is what happens when that serendipitous mix of right actor and director combine with spot on dialogue, the entire cast of characters all feel like folks who could really exist in Miami, or anywhere else U.S.A.

Matt Cedeño (Z Nation, Power) is the suspect, who is cleared, who is  the business partner of Rosie’s childhood friend and emerging fashionista Gigi (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Matt is a regular on SyFy Channel’s Z Nation as the mercenary Vasquez and this cameo proves that his chops enable the actor to deliver what ever the role.

The main episodic plot, of someone trying to murder Gigi with bacteria,  runs along side Pippy and  TMI having relationship problems, Rosie getting jealous (sort of) about Villa and Mike being attracted to one another and Donna “getting her grove back” by spreading her wings and joining the dating site Tinder. 

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Villa and Rosie, “It’s not a date…”

Taye’s character is called in to consult on Gigi’s poisoning symptoms. By the time the end credits roll, the crime is solved, Pippy and TMI have resolved their issues,  Rosie and his sister learn to deal with their mother’s new freedom and Annalise Villa takes a chance on Dr Mike.

This series is a great combination of mystery, drama, with a touch of procedural,  and gentle comedy. Dr Rosewood,  is a glib and sophisticated M.E. whose wit makes him a figure that the audience warm to immediately.  The entire cast of the show are also capable of similar feelings of warmth and acceptance by the audience.

Chestnut, who played the somewhat annoying character of Agent Rice on the TNT Sean Bean vehicle Legends has taken his character of  Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr., aka Rosie, and shown that he can do something more than play a law enforcement official with tunnel vision. Morris is also a regular on the second season of Legends and his character on that show has evolved as well.

Rosewood airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and watch a drama and mystery that will warm the heart and make the viewer smile.  So far, each episode of the first season has been enjoyable, entertaining and amusing.  While the network has ordered a full season of the series, there has been no word of whether the show will be renewed.  Hopefully this great ensemble piece will be allowed to return.

The Player: Tell – Game, Set, Dangling Mystery (Review)

There must be a special hell for those TV shows cancelled before the dangling plot line is sorted. The Player is another victim of network stupidity.

The Player - Season 1

There must be a special hell for those TV shows cancelled before the dangling plot line is sorted. The Player is another victim of network stupidity. Tell, the last ever episode of the series leaves questions unanswered and the mystery of Ginny left unsolved, it is not game, set and match, but just game over, like a last generation video gamer who failed to stop the “big boss,” the player is dead.

The final episode of the series,  shed light on a number of  interwoven plot threads that proved just how much effort had gone into this Las Vegas based “crime/action/thriller.” Sadly, viewers and fans of the show will never learn of what the tangible connection is between Cassandra King (Charity Wakefield), apart from the fact that Mr. Johnson (Wesley Snipes) first came into contact with his “dealer” when he was “the player” and not yet pit boss.

Alex Kane (Philip Winchester) loses his “get out of jail free card” and best friend Cal Brown (Damon Gupton) and discovers that there are more layers yet to be discovered about his missing wife Ginny (Daisy Betts).  Even capturing the “villain of the week” Jeff Fahey (as a bent copper who “disappeared” Ginny at her request) answers little about her decision to drop out and fans will now never know who those men were who so terrified Ginny.

KaDee Strickland (as Agent Rose Nolan) proved to be every bit as evil, and dirty, as Brown suspects Johnson and his little crew are. Detective Brown, at the end of the show understands that he has danced with the devil and feels like a sad virgin who got involved with the wrong man.

The Player - Season 1
Charity Wakefield as Cassandra King, dangerous, deadly and sexy as hell…

Wakefield, as Cassandra King, continues to shine as the most interesting of the two members of the “game.”  The dealer proves to be more than equal to Nolan’s bullying, and illegal, questioning and leaves unbroken, unbowed and with more information  than Nolan realizes.

Winchester’s “player” continues to prove that if anyone were ever born to play this type of role, it the the Montana born actor who earned his action man spurs on shows like Strike Back and Camelot.

The Player had the deck stacked against it from the very beginning, put in a bad time slot on a night where its targeted audience was tuning into live sports offered on other channels.  Apart from scheduling stupidity, the show also seems to have suffered from the “Las Vegas Curse.”

Wesley Snipes and co are not the first to be stricken by the Vegas blight that has affected many other shows set in the city of sin and glitter. Apart from Vega$ (starring Robert Ulrich and Phyllis Davis, along with Hollywood icon Tony Curtis as a recurring character) a 1978 series that lasted three seasons, and the  2003 James Caan  vehicle that lasted five whole seasons, (Las Vegas) all that followed after have died quick messy network deaths. 

Even the SyFy channel’s Dominion (filmed in South Africa but set in a post apocalyptic Vegas) died after three seasons.  It seems that while many yearn to visit the oasis in the Nevada desert, no one really wants to watch a television series set there.  Somewhat akin to the unwritten rule that films and TV shows about actors never do well, shows set in Vegas are not overly popular.

The Player - Season 1
Snipes as Pit Boss…

It could even boil down to a reluctance of viewers to appreciate a small-screen Wesley Snipes. Apart from a 1990s TV series (H.E.L.P.) where Snipes was a “regular,” the film actor’s forays into the smaller world of television have been few.  Unfortunately, the star will not have a chance to grow into his role of pit boss and shady character since NBC have killed the series off after nine episodes.

By the time end credits rolled on the last  episode of The Player, it was apparent that this series should have been allowed to finish its first season properly and then been optioned for another, second season.  NBC seem to specialize in green lighting properties that they have no real faith in and no loyalty to.

RIP The Player and condolences to Damon Gupton, Charity Wakefield, Philip Winchester and Wesley Snipes in the cast and  to the show’s creators, the two “Johns,” Fox and Rogers.  Kudos to Gupton who actually moved this viewer for the first time in the season.  So long guys and dolls you did well and do not deserve this too early death from a nebbish network.