Van Helsing: Stay Away – Banished (Review)

 Van Helsing - Season 1

Van Helsing this week took a very dark turn. “Stay Away” moved on from the last episode’s events and Doc ends up being banished from Eden. More importantly, is turns out that those “turned” by Vanessa, stay turned.  As both Doc and Magdelene find out at the end of the episode.

Axel did not turn up in this segment so he may still be trapped in the quarantine zone in the bunker.  Mohamad, however, is at last reunited with his best buddy Sam.

The episode starts with Van Helsing and her little band of survivors being attacked by vampires. As they fight the attackers help comes in the form of a tall bowman and another archer from Eden.

Vanessa and her group follow the tall archer, Theo, back to a compound being run by Micah. The places feels like a religious colony and there are a number of very pregnant young women roaming the grounds.

Moments after Van Helsing arrives a vampire called Magdalene shows up, seconds before she arrives, bells ring out a warning and the mystery of the bells is solved. Micah and his followers provide Magdalene with blood as part of a “deal.”

Vanessa distrusts the place despite Micah and Theo’s assurances that everything is fine. Van Helsing takes a shine to the tall bowman and they bond over a katana training match.  Susan is less enamored of Theo and called him Zorro.

Sam spies a familiar bit of clothing on the washing line. It looks like Mohamad’s Nirvana t-shirt. He follows the man hanging up the washing and is locked into a room.

Susan has real misgivings about Eden. She asks Vanessa if she finds it odd that for all the pregnant women around the place, there are no children. Doc reluctantly delivers a baby via C-section. Van Helsing holds the baby.

She asks Micah about the lack of children in the commune and he explains how Eden works. It is not, he says, a cult. Susan still looks very skeptical and Micah says his motives are pure.

Van Helsing asks Doc about Axel. She reveals that she left him to die behind the quarantine doors. Vanessa realizes that Doc shut Axel in with Gorman and deserted the man who kept Doc alive for months.

Vanessa banishes Doc from the group.

Flesh goes to see Micah for counseling.  Van Helsing and Theo have their training match and play “getting to know you. Vanessa proves just how capable she really is.

Sam explores the room he is trapped in and discovers pictures of Micah and other people at Eden. Flesh comes out of his meeting with Eden’s leader a changed man. Micah offers to do the same for Doc and she refuses his offer of help.

Micah also reveals that he knows about everyone in the group, including why Vanessa is wanted by Julius. Sam escapes from his cell.  Vanessa and Theo share a meaningful moment and she actually bites him on the shoulder during their make out session.

She explains to Theo that she is similar to the vampires in that she has “abilities.” Van Helsing tells him about being able to kill Feeders or turn Vampires.

The two compare notes and Theo tells Vanessa  that Micah takes the babies and the mother’s to the resistance in Seattle. The human resistance group, says Theo, have taken back the city. Vanessa knows that this is not true.

Sam finds Mohamad and attacks the man who took him captive. The two men struggle as Mohamad urges his friend to let the man go. Sam kills the man.

The newborn baby and her mother are taken into the woods, via the road.  Micah’s second in command stops the wagon and helps the new mother and baby off the vehicle. She tells the mother that she is watering the horse.

(This is possibly a nod to the 1965 John Wayne, Dean Martin western titled “The Sons of Katie Elder.” In that film, the horse drawn wagon of captured  Elders are stopped over a stream. When the deputy in charge asks what they are doing the driver responds, “Watering the horses.” Cue one ambush where the Elders are meant to die.)

As the driver disappears into the woods with a bucket, Magdalene turns up for the baby and its mother. Van Helsing and Theo arrive in the knick of time and stop the vampire from taking the offering from Micah.  Theo had no idea that Micah was doing this.

Vanessa learns of the pact as Sam and Mohamad are caught trying to leave  Eden. Micah asks Flesh what they should do with the group and he suggests banishment. Handing a knife to Flesh he tells the man to think as they do.

Mohamad explains what Sam found. Van Helsing arrives and reveals that Micah has been giving the newborns and their mothers to Magdalene.  Flesh is furious and he killed Micah by putting the knife through the leader’s throat.

Flesh decides to stay and help the commune now that Micah is gone. Theo tells Vanessa that they will destroy Magdalene. He then tells her he will join her later. He gives her a katana sword to take with her.

Mohamad stops the group to ask where Doc is.

Doc has hunted down Magdalene to warn her about Theo. Doc then reveals that she was turned by Vanessa but she wants to turn back.  Doc offers to help the vampire escape if she turns her into a vampire again.

Magdalene agrees by biting Doc’s forearm. Nothing happens and Magdalene dislikes the taste of Doc’s flesh and blood. The vampire pushes Doc to the ground and tells her to stay away.

The doctor is not well and truly banished as she is not welcome in either camp.

Van Helsing this week was very dark.  The pact with Micah’s group and the local vampires was disturbing. (Although not too surprising as Tom Cavanagh usually plays rotters of some sort.)

More upsetting was the reveal that Doc was nothing as she appeared. So stricken by fear that she preferred being a vampire. Suddenly all her issues with Alex made perfect sense. He “saved” her, via Van Helsing’s bite, and the woman was happier as a vampire.

No wonder she left the Marine to die.

This will not be the last we see of Doc however. Like Jonathan Scarfe, who plays Axel, Rukiya Bernard is listed for all 13 episodes on IMDb.

We can reasonably expect both to turn back up. The big reveal though is not Doc’s preference to drink blood. It is that the vampires cured by Vanessa cannot be turned back. This is, in essence, “a game changer.”

Van Helsing airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in and see how this series continues to evolve.

Cast:

Guest starring Tom Cavanagh as Micah, Christopher Russell as Theo and Gwynyth Walsh as Magdelene.

Elementary: Ill Tidings – Don’t Get Bitten (Recap/Review)

 

Elementary logo

Elementary “Ill Tidings” could well be a variation on one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes short story The Speckled Band. In the original tale a young woman was in danger of being killed by her stepfather, via a very poisonous snake, in order to gain control of her inheritance.

In this episode a table of seven people and a disagreeable chef are all killed by snake venom.  The target in this instance is artwork hanging in the  New York stack exchange.  A live snake does make an entrance and Holmes suggests to Watson it might be best if she does not get bitten.

Fiona Helbron makes an appearance, albeit via a laptop screen as she and Holmes talk “long distance.” They make plans to meet at a place halfway between their locations.

The investigation takes Holmes and Watson quite some time to track down the reason that seven people were targeted.  The group, who ate lunch at the eatery where they contacted the snake venom and fiberglass, were part of the IAO. The victims ensured that internet web addresses were real.

Marcus confronts Holmes about a court case that the two men worked on. Bell was afraid he committed perjury because of the way Sherlock wrote his report.   Holmes helps Marcus save face in front of the A.D.A. Chantal Milner.

Watson calls Holmes and tells him the target is the stock exchange. The exchange is vacated because of the threat and while the place is empty someone steals $60 million worth of art from the walls.

As Holmes and Watson investigate leads, they talk about Fiona. Holmes is concerned that they have never talked about his work.  They talk fleetingly of Moriarty and Joan tells Sherlock that he may never love anyone that way again.

Holmes realizes that it is not the money but the artworks that were the target. They head to the lobby and find the three LeGrande’s are missing.  Sherlock has an old mate replicate the missing paintings and the police “find” them in an abandoned warehouse.

The “Dark Web” makes an appearance. Holmes and Watson surf the dark entity to find clues as to who is behind the art theft.  Sherlock finds three people talking about the art. All the players can be tracked back to the same man.

They track down the thief and find the man dead from a venomous snakebite.  The pattern of the bite looks familiar to Sherlock and they find the dead man’s partner; Mateo Lima the kitchen worker who ate the poisonous foie gras.

Lima is arrested after Holmes and Watson explain how he accomplished the crime and Sherlock finds one of the LeGrande’s in the man’s room.

At the end of the episode Fiona calls Holmes via the laptop and he quotes Joan’s “Antony and Cleopatra” line,”Give to a gracious message a host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt,” before answering. The line, is something a doctor friend of Watson’s used to say before passing on bad news to patients.

Holmes is obviously about to break up with Fiona.

Elementary this week was a splendid chase where the clues led the two investigators all over the place.  The chemistry between Holmes and Watson is still spot on and it is hard not to love an episode that references “The Princess Bride.”

Elementary airs Sundays on CBS.  Tune in and catch this special double act.

Cast:

Guest starring Betty Gilpin as Fiona Helbron, Julian Acosta as Mateo Lima,  Chasten Harmon as Chantal Milner and Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mr. Dalal.

Dr Ken: Dave Goes on Shark Tank – Hot Legs (Recap/Review)

MARK CUBAN, DAYMOND JOHN, KEVIN O'LEARY, LORI GRENIER, ROBERT HERJAVEC, KEN JEONG, ALBERT TSAI

Dr. Ken this week focusses on Dave and Molly in “Dave Goes on Shark Tank.”  Both the Park parents take a back seat, playing supporting roles in this cross-over episode.

The Storyline:

At the start of the episode Ken and Allison decide to make trailblazing “afternoon” mimosas. Molly slams into the house spoiling that afternoon delight with the news that a classmate, with designs on Stanford U, has started teaching old people computer skills.

Molly needs an idea on how to beat “teaching old people Tinder.”  Allison suggest a internship at the HMO, aka Welltopia and it is problem solved. Dave then arrives home with the news that he and his new invention will be appearing on “Shark Tank.”

He explains his invention and how it works. (It is a blanket, or duvet, with two leg holes cut in for the user.) Allison likes the idea, as she too suffers from hot legs, and the Park family are excited for the youngest family member.

Ken tells Clark, Pat and Damona about Dave appearing on Shark Tank and that his invention is cute. As Ken has never seen the show, Clark and Damona show him what the show is about. It is, in Ken’s eyes, a bit brutal. Ken is now worried and a little concerned for Dave.

Clark is not overly happy that Molly is interning at the clinic.  She did not “like” a picture of Clark and Connor hiking. Molly sets up an appointment reminder for patients and Pat collars her to do “management training.”

She  ends up going through his receipts.

Ken comes home and tells Allison about his volcano in junior high school and expresses his concern over Dave’s appearance on the entrepreneurial show.

Pat offers to write a letter of recommendation for Molly to his old alma mater, Stamford.   Dave, Allison and Ken are backstage at “Shark Tank” and the youngest Park is nervous.  Allison has to remind Ken that Dave will do fine and that they will support him all the way.

When it is time for Dave to go on he cannot be found.

Molly learns that Pat went to Stamford Community College in Connecticut  and not Stanford University. She is distraught.

 KRISTA MARIE YU, DAVE FOLEY
You went to Stanford?

Ken finds Dave hiding under the hot legs duvet in the “green room” and he pumps his son up. Dave is still unsure but then Ken says he will go on with him.

Molly reveals to Clark why she did not “like” his and Connor’s hiking picture and he gets emotional.  Pat then reveals that his best friend from high school is the dean of admissions to Stanford. He offers to put in a good word for Molly.

Dave gives his spiel to the “Shark Tank” panel and no one likes the product. “Mr Wonderful” shoots the idea down hard and tells Dave he is “dead to him.” Dave thanks the panel and leaves.

Ken tells O’Leary, “I hope you drown in your own leg sweat.”

Afterward Mark Cuban comes back to the green room to offer Dave some encouragement.  Dave is ecstatic over his appearance on the show. No scarring here at all.

Ken then tries his luck on the “Shark Tank” using Dave’s blanket cutouts for coasters or a safe Frisbee.

Standout Moments: 

Clark’s “Online Damona…Where the world lives.”

Ken’s “mimosa-close.”

Pat and Molly and Stamford.

Dave’s opening presentation on the “Shark Tank.”

Pat’s Pancho Vermont.

Dave’s “Suddenly I have a taste for shark meat.”

Clark and Molly’s “like” scene.

Dave’s “kid-trepenuer.”

Ken’s “I won’t give up either Mark Cuban!”

The panel’s reaction to Ken in the Hot Legs Duvet.

The Message:

The focus this season is still on family. Even in this cross-over episode it is the children and their support network, i.e. Ken and Allison that moves the show forward.

The emphasis on being good parents is the big message here. Ken’s worry that Dave will be scarred for life if the “Shark Tank” appearance goes badly is something that every parent will recognize.

Allison, is the positive re-enforcement  to Ken’s wavering support insisting that Dave will survive his encounter with the sharks. She reminds Ken that their son is pretty resilient.

Aside from Dave’s excursion into the world of the entrepreneur, we have Molly’s entrance into Ken’s workplace.  Both the Park children are growing up this year and the college bound big sister is managing to impress all who meet her.

Allison and Ken are proving that successful parents support their kids any way they can.

KEN JEONG, ALBERT TSAI
Albert Tsai as Little Big Man Dave

Final Thoughts:

Dr. Ken is still the best thing about Friday night television.  It is funny and the ensemble cast delivers each and every week. The show is family centric and it allows for Ken Jeong’s particular talents and also gives his fellow cast members their chance to shine.

This cross over episode was very well done and clearly the “Shark Tank” cast enjoyed their time on the show. A few of them, no names mentioned, could be heard “breaking character,” and at least two could not stop grinning at Ken and Dave’s antics.

(On a sidenote: The coaster “close” was very funny and a nice end to the proceedings…Just saying.)

Krista Marie Yu and Albert Tsai are still the best “kids” on television at the moment. They had no chance do their brother sister double act on this episode but each managed to shine regardless.

Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. The show something the whole family can enjoy. Tune in and settle in to watch the best ensemble show on Friday night telly. For those who like a bit of reality on a Friday night, stick around for “Shark Tank,” which airs after Dr. Ken.

Cast:

Guest starring Lori GreinerMark CubanKevin O’LearyDaymond John and Robert Herjavec as themselves. 

SNL: Benedict Cumberbatch, Solange, Dana Carvey and Bill Murray (Recap/Review)

Saturday Night Live - Season 42

SNL is being invaded by the British this season. Emily Blunt hosted the third episode of season 42 and heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch stepped up to the mic for episode five thanks to Doctor Strange. The episode was  a bit funnier than Emily’s so either different writers were used or Benedict is just easier to write for.

The Best overall skit of the night was the “Weekend at Grammy’s” aka Surprise Bachelorette Party. Where Aidy Bryant plays dead as a doornail Grammy whose surprise stripper party carries on regardless. It could have been a tribute to Weekend At Bernie’s.

The Best Gag of the Night Award goes to Colin Yost on Weekend Update with the foreigner’s learning to run for their lives at the New York Marathon in case Trump is elected.

The highlights of the episode had more to do with the Chicago Cubs, Dana Carvey, aka Church Lady and Bill Murray leading his beloved Cubs in a “The Voice” singing sketch.

The only thing disappointing about Carvey’s bit on the “news” was “SATAN” was only used once. This however was soon forgiven when he did the  little song. (The “all of Hollywood is gay except for” gag was also very funny.)

The “Weekend Update” crowning moment had to be Murray though.  It was important enough that Michael Che and Colin Yost got out from behind the desk to participate in the segment.

The rest of the live skits were a mixed bag, somewhat on par with the so-so status of fellow Brit Blunt’s appearance on the show. It seems that the guys and gals in the writers bullpen have a hard time translating for “foreign guests.”

A pre-recorded “toilet humor” sketch had Cumberbatch as a Bond-ian type who has the only cool (Koohl. Get it?) toilet in an Orwellian society where sitting on the commode is meant to be humiliating.

As fake SNL adverts go, this was more clever than funny but it matched the tone of the evening. The overall theme was focused on why Benedict Cumberbatch is so hot.

The cold open to the show had Alec Baldwin reprise his crowd pleasing Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hilary Clinton for the last time before the presidential election next week.

While the open was amusing it did feel a bit too much like the run up to the 2016 election…overly long.

The Most Impressive Performance (of a SNL regular) Award  belonged to Cecily Strong with her openmouthed delivery of a hysterically funny “English” accent. No doubt the performer was coached by the expert Benedict Cumberbatch.

Various members of the cast have tried out their versions of English pronunciations and imitations but only Strong nailed it. All teeth and shortened “T’s” Cecily was very nearly spot on.

“Why is Benedict Cumberbatch Hot” was a waste of time and felt, quite frankly, like filler.

The Chicago Cubs tributes were cute and special (Not Dana Carvey special.) and the delight of Bill Murray heightened the song they performed. The professional athletes did well in the “Bachelorette” skit and the “Weekend Update” segment.

Solange, as musical guest, proved that in terms of genes, the Knowles family got more than their fair share in the talent pool. Beyonce’s kid sister delivered two splendid performances that pleased the studio audience and the folks watching at home.

This episode was, perhaps, more special because of Carvey, Murray and the Chicago Cubs than Benedict Cumberbatch and that is a shame. The Doctor Strange star is, by his own right, funny.

Anyone doubting that should check Benedict out on YouTube clips from The Graham Norton Show or head over to BBC America to see the talkshow in it’s entirety.

SNL, aka Saturday Night Live, airs Saturdays on NBC.

Van Helsing: Little Thing – Big Rock Candy Mountain (Recap/Review)

Van Helsing - Season 1

Van Helsing in “Little Thing” opens with Rebecca explaining to Sheema what her future will be if she does not do her bidding.  Women are being used as surrogate mothers so Rebecca can procreate. If the babies are not born alive, the moms are then used as “feed bags.”

Axel and his little band of survivors have left the hospital and head to the base. They stop to refuel the fortified ambulance and the group hear church bells off in the distance.

Doc goes to urinate behind a car and catches John sneaking up on her.  There is a discussion about the bells and who might be ringing them. Axel distrusts the situation and reminds them that the base is their destination.

John continues to be a thorn in Axel’s side and Sam asks Vanessa what she thinks. She suggests a vote and Doc reveals that her sister worked at the base. Doc make’s the decision for the group, they are heading to the base.

Mohamad, who was left behind in the city, is following Axel and Vanessa on a bicycle. The main group reach the base and find the entrance blocked with vehicles. They enter and a vampire rushes the perimeter fence. Van Helsing shoots at the thing and it steps on a landmine.

The creature is vaporized.

John continues to argue with everything Axel says. The bike that Mohamad is riding breaks down. He makes it to the same gas station that Axel’s group were at. He sees the sign from Sam with his name on it and the  arrow pointing to the direction they headed.

On the base, the group split up and look for people. The place appears deserted and they settle down for a rest. Van Helsing removes the bandage from her knee and the wound has healed completely.

As the group lay down, Axel takes the first watch. The silence of the base is disturbed by the sound of more vampires stepping on land mines. Axel checks out more areas of the base and when he returns the rest of the group agree to search the area.

Doc and Vanessa find Doc’s sister’s office. She is not there and there are no obvious answers. While the group discuss why the base is deserted, Axle searches the perimeter. Van Helsing suggests they all split up in pairs and go through the buildings.

Van Helsing learns that it was Doc’s sister who sent the Marines in to guard her while she was comatose.  Vanessa then finds her medical file and it is empty.

More vampires set off the landmines and the searchers begin to get jumpy.  Susan and John discover a man hiding  in one of the rooms. He claims to be a member of the resistance. Sam suggests digging in and Axel says no.

John wants to join the resistance and, again, Axel says no. He suggests taking a couple of days to rest.  Doc, who appears to be putting some distance between her and Axel,  disagrees.

Mohamad finds two vampires standing under a dead parachutist and he kills them with a machete. Later, he sleeps in the parachute canopy caught in the tree’s branches.

Axel takes his group to a bunker called “The Farm.” The new guy blows the door open with a mixture of dynamite and a grenade. They all go in and before getting down the stairs, the entrance collapses, trapping them inside.

As they explore the bunker, they find food and a lot of empty rooms.  On top of medical supplies, Sam and Flesh find lots of real food and beer. Axel finds a door leading to a quarantined area.

The survivors sit around drinking beer and wine. Sam sits next to Vanessa and begins to breathily sing “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” The group giggle and then some of them sing along.

Doc tells Axel to leave her alone and he reacts angrily. Susan and John break off from the group and do some exploring. They talk about music and argue about which bands are American.

The two kiss, Susan rather tentatively, and John gets over excited. He puts his hands around her throat and she asks him to stop. She slaps him and he strikes her back. Susan begins to scream.

Axel and the rest of the group go to see what is going on. Vanessa gets there first and John calls her a bitch. Van Helsing knocks him out with one punch.

John is restrained and Doc sees the marks on Susan’s throat. She points out that they match the ones found on the two victims in the hospital. Axel goes through John’s bag and finds a knife and one of the fingers.

John who has been working at the tape around his wrists, gets free. He grabs Susan, smashes a wine bottle and holds it to her neck. Axel pulls his gun and Van Helsing throws her knife at John.

The blade goes into his throat and John bleeds out. Vanessa retrieves her knife and says she hope they are right about John being the killer. As she walks off, Susan cries and Burl Ives begins singing “Big Rock Candy Mountain” as the final credits begin scrolling on the screen.

Van Helsing continues to be dark and disturbing. There were less vampires in this episode. Rebecca was the only one to appear.  The focus was on the group and their journey to the base and later their searching of  the facility.

It has to be noted that out of all the shows on television that recently showed a character having a throat injury lethal enough to die from, only Van Helsing had John, whose blood was spurting out, not fall over dying instantly.

This touch of realism made the death all the more disturbing.  Death, the show tells us, is not instantaneous or easy.  John died while choking on his own blood and it was a shocking but truthful moment.

Doc has become very prickly toward Axel since leaving the hospital. After she chases the Marine off, she tries to explain that it is not him. But does the doctor really mean it?

For now the group, with their newest addition, are trapped in the bunker. Mohamad is not far away though and he may be able to help. Vanessa’s comment about John, after she kills him, bring up a good point.

As Doc pointed out moments earlier, John was not popular with the group. He accused everyone else of being the murderer and sided with Brendan to have them all killed.

Was he the murderer or did someone else, the real killer, set him up?

Van Helsing airs Fridays on SyFy and Space. Tune in to see how Vanessa fares on her quest to find her daughter.

Cast: