At long last, Frank finally makes a mistake. A painful, cringe-worthy, mistake that threatens to derail his entire education reform bill. Frank’s gaffe is the most human moment we’ve seen from the character and while it’s consequences are unfortunately limited to this episode, they still make for better storytelling than his monotone competence. Not that this is a great episode, as the rest of the series’ flaws are still on prominent display, but the possibility of failure at least generates the possibility of drama. That’s an awfully low bar for an episode of television but, unfortunately, it’s where this series is right now. Continue reading
I’ve complained before that the charity was too remote from the “real” story of House of Cards and while this episode technically answers my complaint, it doesn’t really improve matters. This intersection of Claire and Frank’s worlds is a zero sum game, making hers seem more important and his less so. This story could have worked, as Claire would seem to be a front that Frank’s actually vulnerable on, but the resolution is disappointingly toothless as the Underwoods are able to succeed through “old fashioned gumption” rather than any dirty dealings. All-in-all, this episode feels more like an unnecessary aside at a time when the show should be kicking into high gear. Continue reading
Can you cough for me?
“Quickening” is a clunky episode. That’s not a criticism that can generally be levelled against a Whedon series as even the bad episodes normally at least have a sense of narrative rhythm. I think that the root of the problem is in how busy everything is. As Angel’s chief antagonist, it makes sense that Wolfram & Hart would be a threat to his child, but rather than just getting Lilah and/or Gavin involved we instead get an extended tour of the firm’s inner workings. Combine that with Holzt return, a vampire cult, and a false labour and you’ve got too many threads without room to breathe. Continue reading
All together now
“Tabula Rasa” is pretty on the nose when it comes to the “Buffy’s not Buffy” motif but it’s also, ironically, the most oldschool episode of the season with a mystical metaphor at the heart of the story and the gang needing to band together to resolve it. The Scoobies also seem more themselves here (again with the irony) as, freed from the baggage of everything that’s happened to them, they present their undamaged selves. Oh, and this episode is funny. Very, very funny. Continue reading
It feels a bit odd to be summing things up after only three episodes but that’s how the Brits roll. Like a lot of British television, Sherlock plays more like a series of mini-movies that a serialized drama. That’s not a bad thing, as the show delivered three good to great stories, but it does prevent the series from building on itself in any significant way. The cliffhanger finale seems somewhat out of place in this context, as there’s been no emotional build up to accompany it. Continue reading
While my criticisms of House of Cards still stand, the series may finally be making moves to address them. Frank’s still Godlike in his competence but, despite this, he may actually have made a mistake here. I’m being oblique to avoid spoilers in the first paragraph. I’m not wild about the turn this episode takes at the end, but I am curious to see where they go with this. It’s less a “what’s gonna happen next?” than a “can they make a good story out of this?” type of curiousity, but that’s still better than what the series has offered thus far. Continue reading
Can a single flaw ruin an entire episode? Not that “Offspring” was ever going to qualify as particularly good, but Cordy’s absolutely baffling reaction to Darla’s pregnancy dumbs down the entire story. Not only is it painfully illogical and completely out of character, it undermines Cordy’s status as an increasingly competent warrior and worthy love interest for Angel, it also damages Darla’s credibility as a big bad and thus cheapens Angel’s decision to help her. There are a couple of solid moments that manage to escape unscathed, but the best you can really say about this episode is that it gets the job done in terms of advancing the season arc. Angel learning he’s going to be a father really deserved better than that. Continue reading
What is she singing about?
“Once More, with Feeling” is another one of those episodes that leaves me at a loss for what to say. This time it’s not really because it’s already been analyzed to death; there are plenty of critiques out there, but I’ve only read a couple of them. No, my problem is that I really enjoy it too much to reflect on it. This is pretty unusual for me because, as this blog can attest, I generally dislike viewing television as “popcorn;” if it doesn’t bear reflection then it wasn’t worth watching in the first place. Not to say that “Once More, with Feeling” doesn’t have some substance to it, just that I don’t feel the need to explore it. To compromise, I think I’ll explore why that may be. Continue reading
Wait, I haven’t finished explaining my master plan
“The Great Game” almost brings Sherlock’s first series to a conclusion as brilliant as it’s beginning. This episode’s pretty much perfect for 95% of its running time. Sadly, the other 5% comes at the climax and while it’s not bad, it’s not great either. We’ve seen plenty of mad men put heroes through the gauntlet but this story still manages to feel fresh, not in the least part due to the continued Holmes/Watson chemistry and the increasingly negative light it sheds on our hero. Moriarty brings out both the best and the worst in Sherlock and it’s unfortunate that their escalating cat and mouse game comes to such a disappointing conclusion. A climax really needs to surpass everything that’s come before it and it seems as though the bar was just set too high for this one. Continue reading
Episode three sees House of Cards showing signs of improvement in some areas, while its shortcomings in others are exacerbated. Claire’s still far from a great character, but she’s at least given something to do here besides be a bitch. Small as her part in this episode might be, it’s a critical expansion of this world beyond Frank, all the more so because his story’s starting to feel a bit stale. There are some interesting hints at things to come, particularly in his relationship with Zoe, but the A-story didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. Continue reading