Monthly Archives: October 2013

At Least You Know What You’re Looking For

Wouldn't it have been nice had the episode focused on this?

Wouldn’t it have been nice had the episode focused on this?

Well, that was a misstep.  “Misstep” might be an understatement, “derailment” could actually be closer to the truth. That’s pretty harsh for an episode that has more than a few good moments, but the shallow characterisation and straightforward plotting that have plagued this series since the beginning aren’t just unfortunate voids here, they actually undermine what’s presented on screen.  “The Girl in the Flower Dress” endeavours to be more that just popcorn and, in so doing, runs headfirst into the series’ limitations.  I can respect the episode for aiming higher, it’s something I’ve wanted from SHIELD for weeks, but it aims for an emotional payoff without laying the requisite groundwork and the result is the series’ worst episode to date. Continue reading

His Name Is ANGEL!

Of course I'm not picturing somebody else

Of course I’m not picturing somebody else

In the course of reviewing a favourite series there are  few episodes you just can’t wait to get to.  “Awakening” is one such episode.  Anti-heroes are a dime a dozen these days, but even in the post Tony Soprano world I can think of few series that deliver such an insidiously unflattering look at their protagonist, and none that do so for someone as virtuous as Angel.  This episode isn’t about the crimes of Angel’s past or the darkness that still lurks inside of him.  It’s about Angel; how he sees himself, his friends, the world.  He’s a champion, a self-sacrificing hero who’ll always do what’s right.  He’s also kind of a prick. Continue reading

I’m Afraid we Have a Slight Apocalypse

One of these is a great vampire

One of these is a great vampire

Until now I believe I’ve done a pretty good job setting aside the sour taste season seven left in my mouth and coming at it with fresh eyes.  I’ve certainly had some problems with the past nine episodes, but they’re almost entirely about what’s on screen at the moment rather than what will be on it later.  And then those girls walked through the door.  Much as I might like to wear my objective pants, there’s just no denying that the Potentials sucked and their arrival kills what momentum the series had.  There’s little about “Bring on the Night” in itself to warrant this response, quite the opposite in some respects, but there it is. Continue reading

I Live Outside the Box

Do we have your attention now?

Do we have your attention now?

“Eye Spy” improves on some of SHIELD’s stronger elements while ignoring its weaker ones.  This isn’t a bad thing per se as an intriguing hook and stronger action sequences do make flat characters and straightforward storytelling easier to swallow but superior fluff is still fluff.  This show needs to use its strengths to buy time to work on characterization and world building and there’s very little of that here.  It’s odd that my patience should be begin to dwindle with the strongest episode since the pilot, but the flaws seem to stand out more when they’re surrounded by such slick production. Continue reading

As Evil Plans Go, It Doesn’t Suck

Great, just gtreat

Great, just great

“Long Day’s Journey” is an episode firmly rooted in this season’s arc.  Not that there aren’t parts of it that can’t be enjoyed on their own, but the narrative’s completely bewildering when taken of context.  Personally, I love the epic scope this season’s taken on, but it does make reviewing episodes like this one a bit tricky.  As a chapter in the wider Beast Wars, it’s awesome, but as a standalone piece it’s an unwelcome return for my least favourite guest star.  Luckily, I’m feeling swept up by season four’s narrative and so Gwen isn’t enough to derail my enjoyment. Continue reading

It’s No Fun if They Don’t Cry

No one could possibly have foreseen that chair breaking

No one could possibly have foreseen that chair breaking

“Never Leave Me” is yet another solid episode that would make me think I’d misjudged season seven if I didn’t definitively know better.  There’s nothing here to rank it amongst Buffy‘s best, it’s just one of those solid “good story, well told” episodes that form the bedrock of any good series.  It demonstrates that the fundamentals that made Buffy great were still present this year and that the seasons would’ve been more successful this time around had it been focused more on the characters and less on the self-reflection.

Continue reading

Everything Powerful is Dangerous

Don't try to stop me, I have dual touch screens

Don’t try to stop me, I have dual touch screens

“The Asset” is a significantly better episode than “0-8-4” and (hopefully) points to the promising direction this series will take.  Power or, more to the point, super power is emerging as SHIELD’s dominant theme; who should have it, what they’ll do with it, when it should be taken away.  This episode succeeds by focusing on the human consequences of these questions.  Again, it is (unfortunately) the guest star who delivers the dramatic punches, but there’s also some character-building among the main cast, the most important of which is to tie Skye’s twisted loyalties into the show’s main theme. Continue reading

You’re Never Gonna Get Anything But Grey

... where the son never shines

… where the sun never shines

Zombies!  In actual fact, the living dead take up the minority of screentime in “Habeas Corpses” and have little to do with the plot, but they’re still lots of fun and afford our heroes a chance to be heroes rather than punching bags for a while.  It’s interesting that I think of it that way; the AI team is nearly as outmatched here as they were last week and their strategy is dominated by “run and hide” rather than “stand and fight” but the episode presents a problem they can solve.  Zombies aren’t just a fun diversion for the audience, they’re one for the characters, a fact that speaks to just how rough things have gotten. Continue reading

My Sire Can Beat Up Your Sire

Yeah, I hate playing vampire towns too

Yeah, I hate playing vampire towns too

In the wake of “Conversations With Dead People” it’s easy to understand why “Sleeper” gets overlooked.  This may not be a classic of the Buffy canon, but it is a great episode.  Spike’s soul is one of the most intriguing elements of season seven and some focus on it was long overdue.  I’d say it was worth the wait as the last thing anyone expected was for soulful Spike to be a killer.  The episode does a good job keeping us guessing about what exactly is going on and things only get more intense after the reveal. Continue reading

It’s a Magical Place

Oh, and the show's got that going for it too

Oh, and the show’s got that going for it too

The sophomore slump has become a virtual certainty of modern television as creators feel compelled to remind the audience of everything that was explained in the premiere.  It’s actually not was dumb as it sounds, as even I haven’t learned everyone’s name yet, but it’s still a drag on the story and, as this one wasn’t all that brisk to begin with, it’s one I wish could just be dispensed with.  Not that this episode is bad per se, just that the show’s more generic elements have been pushed to the foreground.  That sounds worse than it actually is as I still found this an entertaining hour, but the characters aren’t yet developed enough to make me care about the proceedings as more than popcorn. Continue reading