Agent X: Finale – A TNT Slap in the Face

Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.

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Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.  The last two episodes were put together for a two hour, in reality slightly less, extravaganza where John Case questions would be, hopefully,  answered.  Sadly, as the old saying goes John Case and his world was fleeting, so much so that only one of the two episodes can actually be viewed upon “demand”  from the TNT website, the day after.

What a slap-dash approach toward the fans of the show.  Where if they did not have the wherewithal to record or watch live the demise of their series, TNT gave no option to view the last two episodes the day after on their own network site. Is it any wonder that the show was doomed to fail?

Agent X was beginning to feel like the red-headed stepchild of TNT, before being given the axe.  There were things that could have been done to improve the overall “awesome” factor of the show. For example, having Fred Dryer (old “Hunter” himself) showing up, not once but twice and having some excellent comic banter with Gerald McRaney was a good thing.

Sadly, like the reintroduction (finally) of Olga Fonda, it was too little too late. On a sidenote here, it was great to see that busy, busy actress Kristina Klebe as a cornrowed villain (Do not tell Amandla Stenberg…Kay?) who got to kick a little butt before Fonda’s character won…

Fonda and Jeff Hephner made a great team and should have been put together as much as possible while on the same token less could have been seen of Ms. Stone and her “boss” John Shea. Neither of these two ever really meshed properly.  Sharon Stone is understandable, she is “big screen” and downplays as a matter of course, sadly this worked to her disadvantage in the series.

(There are other examples of “big time” stars and actors who have a hard time performing outside the medium of film. A perfect example is Lance Henriksen. On the big screen, Henriksen is a master at what he does. *He was also damned brilliant in the small screen “X-File Clone/wannabe” “Millennium”  as Frank Black – 1996-99.*

In 2009, Lance played General Shepherd in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. At least one CoD player was super excited that Henriksen was on board as an “in-game” character. Until, that is, Shepherd opened his gob in the game and spoke.  The actor downplayed his performance so much, he seemed to be reading his lines and was apparently bored out of his skull while doing so.  Big screen technique just did not work for the video game VO and this seems to be what Stone has suffered from.)

Shea, however, is a flat out miss. The actor is a TV performer, but he just failed to “spark.” C’est  la vie.  Some things just do not work in the area of casting…

Sadly, Agent X being terminated after its one season, leaves Jeff Hephner out in the cold. Hephner was more than capable in terms of acting and looking damned impressive whilst doing his stunts.  As stated before, McRaney (an old hand at the game) was spot on and Hephner had no apologies to make at all.

Andrew Howard as the  villain, did a good job given the OTT dialogue he was given and considering that in the last episode (available to be seen from TNT thus far – Penultimatum and not the “real” end episode Fidelity) he worked in pitted him against an abysmal acting partner the actor did very well.

It is harsh and unpleasant to point out, but  John Case’s gal Pamela (Carolyn Stotesbery) may be lovely to look at and delightful to hold, but the young lady’s acting skills would leave her trapped inside a wet paper bag.  To be fair to the performer, perhaps the lines never felt right, or…something. 

How sad that Agent X has gone out on a note where the wooden love interest of Agent Case is saved  (In the first half of the final episode that is).  Not wishing her harm but, if Pamela expired in that cargo container, Olga Petrovka and John Case would have made a “killer” couple…

So long to John Case’s short lived world, t’would have been nice to see the entire two hour end episode, but the end result is the same, another one bites the dust. TNT slaps its show in the face, or more accurately the show’s fans. Nice one chaps.

 

The Librarians: And the Final Curtain (Review)

The Librarians (and the series finale – see what we did there) was entertaining, clever and as part of the “final curtain” a fitting end to season two. There were, however, some highly annoying things about the season’s end episode

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The Librarians and the series finale  (see what we did there) was entertaining, clever and as part of the “final curtain” a fitting end to season two.  There were, however, some highly annoying things about the season’s end episode.  Granted the theme of season two was all about Shakespeare and England (cor blimey) and horrible English accents. Or at the very least extremely  watered down “Hollywood-ized” versions of the Queen’s English. The season was also about fictional characters, aka Fictionals,  inhabiting real life.

Sidenote: Back on the accent rant: When your South African actor has the “most convincing “accent? There is a problem. 

Colour this reviewer picayune, but if an entire season is going to be built up in order to have an English payoff,  do not fall back on faux/contrived accents a’la Shakespearean pentameter in the arcane sense, but with modern day phrasing and the odd word.  Take a breath, that was a long sentence…

That is not to say that the finale did not work and was not amusing.  Au contraire.  There were many funny moments that amused highly whilst gritting teeth at the atrocious accents and Oregon once again substituting for Jolly Olde England.

The Librarians utilize time travel and the episode gets to do a riff off of  the “Terminator ” verse:

“Come with me if you want to live,” says a deadpan  Moriarty.

South African actor  David S. Lee also delivers, with a perfectly straight face his,  “my British accent is better than yours.” Admittedly, it is but…There is no ” British” accent per se.  Britain is made up of a few countries, Wales, Scotland…If the Librarians traveled back to England, at the time of Bill Shakespeare, they would be speaking English, not British… (not a thing)

Sidenote: Apologies to Team Librarian and the show’s makers, but come on guys and gals.  So much of the this show is cleverly done. Do not let the side down by fluffing the English bits and using standard “Hollywood” tosh.  Surely there are enough English actors (or even Aussie/Kiwi ones who both do pretty spot on impressions) on hand to have a bit more authentic “brit” for your buck… 

Grumbling aside, Wyle is funny as the wildly overacting potential thespian and the dual storyline works extremely well.  The execution of the present day events, Ezekiel Jones and Stone counting down the “five” seconds before Flynn and Eve return was heart wrenching and touching.

There are plenty of gags about time travel and paradoxes and so on.  It is explained, by Flynn, that all time travelers have “winked” into non-existence.  Thus follows a great sight gag: Wyle’s character references the first time traveler and a picture on the library wall shows a “dinosaur” standing on two feet…in clothes.

This “gag” will crop up later in a slightly different form.  The storyline is that Flynn and Eve travel back to stop Shakespeare from creating Prospero (in his new story) while the remaining Librarians, along with Jenkins, must find any clues that Flynn “left forward.”

The two teams work simultaneously (sort of) to fix the issue  of Prospero taking over the world, despite being a fictional whose “story” does not entail his doing so. Of course the entire Shakespeare portion deals, rather transparently, with the idea that the “glove maker” from Stratford-upon-Avon could not have really written all those plays and sonnets.

In the real world, a number of suspects are trotted out to be the real “Shakespeare.” Christopher Marlowe,  Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are just three men that historians claim to be the real author(s) of Shakespeare’s body of work.  In The Librarians and the Final Curtain, Bill writes his own words, but…With a magic quill.

(So magic in fact that this quill does not need to be dipped, or loaded, with ink.)

The quill is made from  a broken bit of the “tree of life” aka the “Staff of Life” so, unlike real quills, it is not made from a feather but a bit of wood. Such ingenuity never ceases to impress.

Historical inaccuracies aside, the entire “smelly” bit between Flynn, Baird and the two “bumpkins” in the garden was not only funny, but entirely accurate.  People in England at that time did not bathe often or well. Shakespearean performers of the time used to carry oranges (stuffed with cloves) on a stick and/or carry a perfumed handkerchief to ward off the stench of the audience.

Eve’s exclamations of dismayed disgust were hysterical:

Col Baird: “Ugh, ugh! It’s on me! His smell is on me!”

Carson Flynn rather wisely points out that “smell” is one of the things that films about time travel never mention. After explaining this, he warns Eve that there will be a lot of pus. With this last bit of helpful information, he then tells Baird to put on the clothes of the unconscious and very smelly local. Eve reacts accordingly:

“Uh, no, no, no, no, no, no. No way. Nope, nope, nope, nope. nope.”

Comedy gold aside, the show manages to bring in references to King Arthur, the round table, the lady in the lake, and the “return” of Excalibur.  Some reviewers believe that Flynn’s being able to weld Excalibur, aka Cal, means that he is Arthur…a bit of a stretch, although Jenkins is a knight…Hmmm.

There are plenty of clever uses of logic and Shakespearean references that are brought up to solve the Prospero problem. (Hint: Check out Stone’s little spiel about carnations.) Moriarty and Flynn finally show how they really feel about one another but, the evil mastermind actually helps to “save the day” somewhat before bleeding out ink and disappearing.

It should be pointed out that the reading of Shakespeare, each quote pertanent to the issue at hand, was beyond brilliant.

The Librarians finishes with a lot of cute moments, a couple of “aw” ones and seemingly a promise that Noah Wyle as Flynn will be in a lot more episodes next year.  While this can only be a good thing, after all, he and Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) make such a great couple, hopefully this will not mean less Lindy Booth, Christian KaneJohn Harlan Kim or John Larroquette

This was an entertaining season finale and now time will drag until a new season returns fall of 2016. One plea, and this is an earnest one, please TNT and makers of The Librarians, stop using contrived “British”  accents (which are not really a thing, remember) and use real sounding English ones… This would go a long way to making Oregon stand in for any location as long as the players “sound right.”

Please.

Agent X: TNT Sends Secret Agent Series to the Bench

TNT have axed a number of shows, two new and one that had returned with a drastically changed premise and cast. The secret agent series Agent X has been sent to the bench along with Public Morals, another new series.

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TNT have axed a number of shows, two new and one that had returned with a drastically changed premise and cast.  The secret agent series Agent X has been sent to the bench along with Public Morals, another new series. Legends, which had returned with Sean Bean as the “solo” actor to return from season one (apart from Morris Chestnut as FBI agent Tony Rice), has also been sent off the field.

Out of the three who have been cancelled, only Legends was no real surprise. While the first season squeaked into a second chance, the premise of a deep cover agent who had real identity problems could have worked, but not after taking out so much of the cast. Bean is an excellent actor but the chemistry between he and Ali Larter and Tina Majorino worked well, their removal felt like a coup of sorts instead of a re-imaging of the show’s plot line.

Public Morals was entertaining in a niche sort of way, Irish cops and a time when the beat meant taking bribes and under the table payments to look the other way. Criminals were handled and tolerated in this show and it could have been interesting to see how things were going to turn out.

Of the shows relegated into anonymity  Agent X showed the most promise, despite a rather tepid performance by figurehead star Sharon Stone. Jeff Hephner gave a performance that entertained even then the show’s writers left his character to stumble. Part of the problem had to do with  the show wanting to run before it could walk.

Time spent allowing the character of John Case to develop was minimal, instead plot devices were used to endanger the character before the audience ever really cared. Stone, as the vice president underplayed her role so much that she could have been sleepwalking. Gerald McRaney was good value, as was Olga Fonda, but this was not enough to guarantee a huge audience.

Sadly, the two characters with the best chemistry, Fonda and Hephner, were not paired up enough. Granted the inclusion of Andrew Howard, who was eliminated over on Agents of SHIELD,  turning up as “Bond-ian” villain Volker/Ray Palmer, was a nice touch but once again the audience was expected to really care whether Case won over his old colleague.

The shooting of President Eckhart (John Shea) also did not really accomplish much apart from allowing Stone to awaken from her slumber a second time. (The first being in an earlier episode where the actress got a little action in with a sidearm.) Of course the plot line relied upon a conspiracy to kill the president, but sadly, we never saw enough of Eckhart to like him, let alone care that he had been shot.

In the previous episode, it is revealed that not only Eckhart, but Millar (McRaney) as well, are not very nice people. This revelation means that the near-death of the president is even less bothersome than perhaps the creators had hoped for.

Agent X had the best viewing figures, but apparently not high enough to keep the show going.  It seems that “action” genre shows are not meant to be in 2015. NBC cancelled their slow starter The Player (which incidentally also had a film star figurehead, Wesley Snipes; who “got it” a lot faster than Stone) right after it settled into a decent pace and gave us more interesting characters.

Perhaps the demographic aimed at by TNT and NBC do not want action.  Something must be keeping the viewing figures down, each show, Agent X and The Player, and Legends to a degree, had impressive fight scenes, stunts and car chases.  It could well be that with insanely paced action films like Furious 7 and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on offer, small screen versions just cannot keep up.

With the Internet and On Demand streaming, Netflix, Hulu and a plethora of other channels and websites  competing with television , it looks like the networks need to “up their game.”  That said, there also appears to be no real bench mark to aim for. Shows like Quantico (Miss World and Mr Universe put on FBI badges)  and Blindspot (which is basically “let’s solve a tattoo a week”  show) have fared quite well.

Still, Agent X will be missed, as will Sean Bean and those Irish cops in Public Morals. There was enough diversity in each show that the series offered something in the area of entertainment.  Things have changed in the viewing stakes, there are other shows with viewing figures comparable to Agent X‘s 1.7 million per episode. While these numbers are not overly impressive, they are more the norm for viewer figures across the board.

In the meantime TNT have, apparently, allowed Agent X the luxury of finishing out its only  season. Unfortunately it is difficult to watch a “deadman walking” series and drum up any enthusiasm.  Ironically, Sunday’s episode, Angels and Demons, brought back Olga Fonda but sadly it is a case of too little too late.  RIP Agent X and John Case.

The Librarians: And the Happily Ever After (Review)

Just when it seemed that The Librarians could not get any better, in terms of humor or the occasional lump in the throat factor, “And the Happily Ever After” manages to trump all preceding episodes. Last week when the episode ended, Jenkins had totally forgotten about the new Librarians and this episode continues that theme.

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Just when it seemed that The Librarians could not get any better, in terms of humor or the occasional lump in the throat factor, “And the Happily Ever After” manages to trump all preceding episodes. Last week when that episode ended, Jenkins had totally forgotten about the new Librarians and this episode continues that theme. Flynn, who is being chased through the woods by a legion of ninjas, starts off this week’s tale as the only character who remembers the new Librarians and their Guardian Eve.

The storyline this week has all the new Librarians  in Cicely Washington and living their own “happily ever after” lives. Prospero has rewritten their lives and given them a story which is irresistible to the three Librarians and their Guardian. Moriarty has also been moved to Cicely as something to keep Eve vested in her new tale.

Baird is the city Sheriff, Cassandra has been on the moon and helped on a rescue mission, Jones is a Special Agent for the FBI (a maverick who ruffles feathers but gets results) and Stone is a professor for the town university who teaches 11 different courses. When Flynn arrives, after getting a clipping that tells of Cicely’s missing totem, he attempts to set things right.

While Baird questions Carson, another visitor arrives in town, Ariel (played by Scottish actress Hayley McLaughlin with a splendidly underplayed Irish brogue and an admirable elfin nuance, or two). The fairy  is the only other one who realizes what is going on. Prospero has stepped in and changed everything, including ensnaring Ariel into this new story.

It turns out that the spell is fueled by the new Librarians’, and Eve’s,  secret desires. Ariel (reluctantly) agrees to help and the only way that they can stop the spell is for those affected to reject their own “happily ever after” story.

This episode focuses more on the Baird and Carson dynamic. Rebecca Romijn and Noah Wyle make a great couple with just enough quirky chemistry to make their relationship work brilliantly. It is amusing to see Flynn get bent completely out of shape each time Eve kisses Moriarty (David S. Lee).

The stories created by Prospero (Richard Cox) are all reinforced by talismans worn by each of the affected. Eve’s sheriff’s badge, Jones’ FBI ID, Cillian’s moon crystal and Stone’s bracelet, all must be placed at the foot of the totem and each must then recite their “real” story.

Moriarty is the only one who destroys his talisman away from the totem, but the result is the same, he reverts to his true self an evil doer and a “fictional.”  After the group, sans Moriarty,  leap through a door provided by Jenkins, it is revealed that Flynn has also been given a talisman and he too must relinquish it and tell his true story.

This was a whimsical episode that not only amused, but left a lump in the throat more than a few times.  The ending, of the penultimate episode of season two, speaks of the “end of the world” and it looks as though Prospero may carry over into the new season.

If any complaint could be levied against the network, although TNT are to be congratulated for having the foresight to bring the show back for a third season, it would be that 10 episodes are not enough.

For such a fun show, which can be enjoyed by the entire family, surely more episodes are in order, even an additional three or four would not hurt.  The Librarians airs Sundays on TNT, although the finale is next week, December 27, and this light-hearted, funny and magical show will be missed till it returns next year.

Agent X: Long Walk Home (Review)

After watching the second half of the Agent X two-parter, Long Walk Home where it looked like John Case might just be exterminated with extreme prejudice by his captor, Ray (Andrew Howard) some things about the show were clearly missing…or about to be.

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After watching the second half of the Agent X two-parter, Long Walk Home where it looked like John Case might just be exterminated with extreme prejudice by his captor, Ray (Andrew Howard) some things about the show were clearly missing…or about to be. Sharon Stone, for example was barely in the episode and the president, John Shea playing the leader of the country Thomas Eckhart, lay bleeding out on the carpet. 

Agent X is, thus far, the show that everyone seems to hate for one reason or another.  Certainly the viewing figures are abysmal, a paltry 1.07 million in the show’s targeted demographic which is a good .09 less than the already cancelled Franklin and Bash. 

The spy show with a twist, the agent belongs exclusively to the VP, is pretty entertaining…in parts. Jeff Hephner has always given his all and is a great action actor who looks at home either in the training dojo or manufacturing MacGyver type bombs in a downed helicopter. The problem clearly does not lay with the lead but with the show’s creator W. Blake Herron who appears to be flailing about with the direction/storyline arc of the series. 

Granted the entire show revolves around a plot to kill the president as well as Vice President Maccabee (Sharon Stone) both learning about her pet secret agent man and then deploying hm on special errands.  Not too surprisingly, it turns out that the men in the White House are not sparkling clean upright representatives of the country.

It seems that Eckhart (Shea) and Millar (Gerald McRaney) are covered in some pretty heavy dirty double dealings which come to light in the most recent episode. To be fair, apart from the CG looking explosions, this second half worked very well in terms of action and some of that “for mature audiences only” gore and violence. 

Nothing was over the top, but Millar finding the dead “hacker” was pretty sobering stuff.

It has to be said that in terms of FX, while the explosions and fires all “look” computer generated and therefore slightly rubbish, the blood spilt, which is minimal, does not look to be CG at all. The drips and splatters of “claret” look like practical “fake blood.” This is a nice touch and one that helps to sell the fight scenes.

The end of the episode leaves the viewer wondering who John Case’s new boss will be when Maccabee becomes the new Pres. While Eckhart may survive, it is clear that this president has very dirty hands, as does his right hand man Millar.  Stone moving over into the lead slot may change the dynamic of the show, but no one will be around to see it as this one looks doomed to be a no starter for another season.

The casting has, overall, worked well. While Andrew Howard’s character may, or may not, be dead, his vicious villain was in great contrast to the dogmatic and moral John Case. Certainly Case could be cold blooded when needed, bad guys were not eased gently into the next realm but he was the good side of the same coin.  The show could have used more Olga Fonda as the agent who played ball with Case at the start of the series.

Regardless of the latest change in direction, (one that appears to be putting Gerald McRaney in the his almost obligatory role of bad guy – does no one else remember how “good” McRaney was as a “good guy?” Simon and Simon, Major Dad? Anyone?)

Still, typecasting aside, the episode posed some interesting questions. The main one being just who will take Maccabee’s place as the boss of Agent X, aka John Case.  The whole thing might just be a no brainer with the figures being so low.  TNT usually allow a show to find its feet before letting the axe fall, one can only hope that the network will at least let Agent X finish the last three episodes.

It would be  a shame to let the series die after Stone finally remembered that wildly underplaying her role did not equate to some  sort of gravitas by osmosis.  Stone is an actress with chops…big ones. She only just got to show a glimmer of them in the episode where the negotiations on a helicopter ended after an EMP cannon blast.

Agent X airs Sundays on TNT tune in and watch it while you can.