Tag Archives: Vincent Kartheiser

You gotta do what you can to protect your family

Angel518

The face of intimidation

I really like “Origin.”  That seems somewhat strange considering I’ve always been a fan of (or at least apologist for) Angel’s son and this episode presents a Connor that’s almost unrecognizable.  At its worst, Connor’s presto-chango journey to mental health is a complete cheat, a way to avoid dealing with the baggage of season four and write-out an unpopular character to boot.  There’s a lot of truth to that but “Origin” proves the series isn’t quite willing to dispense with consequence altogether.  The best part of Connor, in my opinion, was his relationship with Angel and this episode is far from an easy out in that respect. Continue reading

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I Can’t be Saved by a Lie

We stick together... or not.   Your call.

We stick together… or not. Your call.

“Home” fails in a number of respects, most keenly in how obvious its efforts to shift the series’ gears are; after months of bleak, gloomy (and great) storytelling, we’re introduced to the bright, shiny, and new Wolfram & Hart and the episode strains to make us believe this is somewhere the AI team would want to be.  It makes little sense that they’d entertain this offer, let alone accept it.  But despite all of this, I still kind of like it.  Wolfram & Hart IS bright, shiny, and new and while I loved season four’s dark story, this still feels like a breath of fresh and fun air.  More importantly, the contrived stage setting doesn’t completely forget the characters.  While most of the AI crew has little to justify their decision, their leader is given one very compelling reason to sell out. Continue reading

You’ve Already Lost Everything

Ugly, and therefore evil

Ugly, and therefore evil

Much like Buffy’s fourth season, Angel’s goes and puts the big finish in the second last episode and, much like its predecessor, that’s not a bad thing.  The AI team has been losing all season and it’s made for a wonderfully bleak, dark, story but it also makes it difficult to deliver any sort of satisfying conclusion; do they lose some more or finally win one?  Most (good) modern shows would work their way out of a quandary by having victory come at a steep price, “We won, but at what cost?”  “Peace Out” poses a similar (though more interesting) question of “We won, but why?”  Victory and defeat are intriguingly conflated here as Angel’s once again asked what he’s fighting for. Continue reading

Look Out. The Monkey’s Thinkin’ Again

Subtle

Subtle

“Inside Out” requires more than the usual dollop of suspension of disbelief.  None of the events are what I’d call story-breaking, but there’s an awful lot packed into this episode that needed a bit more room to breathe.  I’m not going to complain too much.  This series has had the plot pedal to the metal all season and that sort of pacing inevitably leads to stumbles, I’m surprised it took this long.  Between Connor’s sudden turn to the dark side and the strained exposition attempting to tie everything together, this episode is asking the audience for a lot of slack.  But the series has earned it.  All the buildup kept me excited to see what would come out of Cordy, even as evens around the reveal fizzled. Continue reading

Now THAT’S a Great Story

Don't feed the bears

Don’t feed the bears

Anyone who still remembers Angelus for his BtVS run needs to take a second (or first) look at his second coming.  He’s rightly remembered as the villain who helped define Buffy, but this appearance is, in my opinion, superior in every respect.  That’s a bold claim, but “Soulless” is a ton of fun and they’re just getting warmed up.  More importantly, it keeps the focus squarely on the characters.  One might say the same thing about the first time he came ’round, but that was really about Buffy.  This time its about Angel, but everyone gets to play. Continue reading

Final Thoughts: Mad Men Season 1

At the outset of these reviews my stated goals were to figure out what I was missing or pinpoint what doesn’t work about this series for me.  Strangely, I think I’ve succeeded on both counts.  I always appreciated how well-crafted this series is but didn’t find that alone to be enough to make it worth watching.  Having watched it with the critical eye, that’s changed; Mad Men is a clinic in unconventional storytelling.  But that’s all it is.  I watch television to be swept up in the story but Mad Men, even at its very best, seems driven to keep the audience at arm’s length.  Much as I enjoyed analyzing this series, I can’t quite say that I enjoyed watching it. Continue reading

Nixon vs. Kennedy

Exciting, but not really the point

“Who cares?”  Alright Weiner, ya got me.  After weeks of equivocating reviews I must finally bow down and acknowledge Mad Men’s genius.  It’s not that my complaints about the show’s emotional void were addressed, it’s that a character looked into the camera and told me they were irrelevant.  The anti-climax of “Nixon vs. Kennedy” flies so confidently in the face of narrative convention that I have little choice but to sit back and accept it.  This show simply isn’t about telling the type of story I want or expect and there’s no longer any room to do anything but sit back and appreciate its complete originality. Continue reading

New Amsterdam

A face even a mother can't love

How is it that I can like a Pete episode while still thoroughly disliking Pete’s character?  I certainly can’t credit the elements of this episode that don’t involve him; they’re up to the usual Mad Men standards but they’re so sparse that this story rests squarely on the shoulders of young Mr. Campbell.  No, I must give credit where it’s due and say that this episode made me appreciate what a unique thing Weiner & co. are trying to accomplish with this character.  Pete’s a loathsome, ineffectual tool who lacks even the capacity to be an interesting antagonist.  His great tragedy is that he knows this fact.  Much as it might suck to be in a room with Pete Campbell, it sucks even more to be him. Continue reading

Marriage of Figaro

Let's buy some happiness

Episodes like this one leave me baffled as to why I don’t love Mad Men.  The writing and acting here are as sharp as anything on television and, what’s more, stories about identity issues and suburban angst are generally right up my alley.  I’m truly at a loss for why the last hour left me cold.  I find myself appreciating this show on a technical level without becoming invested in what’s on screen and I can’t blame my detachment on needing to write about it.  I felt the same way the first time I watched this show.  Oh well, this fact should at least make for an interesting write up even if it doesn’t make for very entertaining viewing. Continue reading

Ladies Room

You can trust me, seriously

“Ladies Room” opens just as the series premiere closed, with the enigma of Donald Draper.  Roger and Betty ask some of the questions we were left thinking about last week, though they’re unable to bring us any closer to answers.  The fascination with “who is Don Draper” is, at this early stage, rooted in how well he seems to navigate the fascinating world of Mad Men without quite fitting into it.  Where last week saw him worried that people would discover he’s not as brilliant as they all think, this one sees his genius setting him apart from the rest of Sterling Cooper. Continue reading