Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Young Justice 1.12

Home Front

Robin and Artemis are attacked immediately after they arrive back at HQ. They quickly discover that the other members of the team (Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian, Aqualad) have all been captured. Artemis and Robin evade their attckers by crawling through air ducts. After Robin plugs into the network they are able to see who attacked them: two androids that look like Red Tornado's siblings.

With a little help from Kid Flash, who is still a captive, Robin builds an electromagnetic pulse generator. He tries plugging it in but there's something missing. They need a piece of metal to complete the circuit and power the EMP generator. Robin is taken down. Artemis freaks out and almost gives up. In the end she pulls through and manages to use an arrow she finds to complete the circuit thus knocking the two androids out of commission.

Red Tornado returns and starts asking questions. When he reaches out to touch one of the comatose android he accidentally reactivates it. The team is quickly taken out again, this time by Red Tornado. When they come to Red Tornado and the other two androids are gone.

At the beginning of the episode, before Artemis and Robin return to the cave, there is a scene with them at Gotham Academy. She is new to the school. She briefly meets Dick Grayson but doesn't recognize him. He seems to recognize her. He is hanging out with a redhead named Barbara. In the credits she is identified as Barbara Gordon. She has a couple lines but that's it. Artemis gets some help from another classmate whose name in the credits is Bette Kane.

Bette Kane was the alter ego of the first Batgirl in the comic books. Barbara Gordon was the alter ego of the second Batgirl in the comic books. At this point there is no indication that either of these characters are superheroes in this cartoon series.

There are also a couple flashbacks to Artemis' past around the time that her older sister, Jade, ran away from home. Jade is now the villain known as Cheshire.

All members of the team are in this one but Robin and Artemis get the spotlight. I love how it is up to the only two members of the team without superpowers to defeat the bad guys after the others have been captured. There are some nice character moments in this one for Artemis that help to flesh her out and make her seem more 3-D. Damn good episode.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Casual 3.11

Firesale

Leia proposes to Leon. Leon says, yes. The rest of the episode revolves around their engagement party. I was a little surprised at how fast his happened. According to Leon they have only been dating for 7 weeks.

Alex is still with Judy. Presumably no one at work knows about their relationship. Alex gets bummed when Leon doesn't ask him to be his best man or one of his groomsmen. He invades Judy's space unexpectedly. She isn't ready for that and asks him to leave. Clark, her son, is on his way home. She isn't ready for him to see Alex with her. Alex apologizes and Judy agrees to go to the party with him. There is one more semi-awkward moment when Alex finds out the wedding is going to be in London. He suggests that Judy should bring Clark with her. She doesn't respond, as I recall it. I think that silence speaks volumes.

Val isn't entirely happy. She agrees to be one of Leia's bridesmaids, which turns out to be a bit awkward since all the other bridesmaids are Leia's sorority sisters. Jack comes back from a trip and pisses her off because he had a bite to eat with some colleagues just before he got home. She wanted to get a bite to eat with him. She looks positively miserable at the engagement party. She ends up abandoning Jack to have a drink with one of her classmates from the class from which she got booted.

Laura is desperate to get out of town. She's planning to follow Casey to Sacramento. Casey doesn't know this and isn't in this episode. Laura needs to raise some cash so she sells a bunch of her stuff (for less than it is worth). She knocks up her father for some money. She sells the new table her mother bought recently, the one on which Laura left a wine stain. The episode ends with her riding in a car with a woman she barely knows to Sacramento.

I don't see good things in Laura's immediate future. The same goes for Val. The only one who seems to be doing ok is Alex and I've got a feeling he's going to screw that up before the end of the season.

This was a happier episode than the last one but there were some dark moments. Laura's arc is by far the least hopeful. There's still 2 episodes left in this season but I don't have a lot of hope that it will end on a high note. Hopefully the next season will be a little more upbeat.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Sopranos 1.01

Pilot

There's a lot thrown out in this episode. Most, if not all, of the main characters for this season are introduced. Tony Soprano, the main character, has a lot of interactions with a lot of people, some are family, some are business associates. A good chunk of the episode unfolds around a few sessions that Tony has with Dr. Jennifer Melfi, a psychiatrist. He tells her somethings but not everything. She is mostly concerned with what might have caused him to collapse and have a panic attack.

Tony seems to have a lot of people relying on him. At home there is Carmella (his wife) plus Meadow and Anthony, Jr. (his children). Beyond his immediate family there is also his mother and Uncle Junior, his father's brother. On the job there is Christopher (his cousin) plus a number of other associates (Silvio, Hesh, Big Pussy, Paulie).

Uncle Junior wants to whack another mobster, Little Pussy, in Vesuvio's, Tony's favorite restaurant which is owned and run by Artie, Tony's friend and high school classmate. Tony goes to some lengths to try and prevent that from happening. There's a certain amount of resentment on the part of Uncle Junior. He doesn't like it that his nephew runs the family business.

Christopher whacks a Czech mobster who is giving him trouble. Big Pussy gives him some help in getting rid of the body. Christopher has dreams of going to Hollywood but he is loyal to Tony, despite his rhetoric.

One thing that Christopher and Uncle Junior have in common is that they both want to make big dramatic gestures. Uncle Junior wants to murder another man in broad daylight. Christopher wants to dump the Czech mobster's body where it will be easily found by his people. One has his opportunity taken from him. The other is talked out of it by a colleague. I don't recall if this is a recurring theme throughout the first season or the whole series.

I watched the entire series on DVD 10-15 years ago. It was one of the first things I watched on DVD. It feels a bit dated in 2017, a bit more like a period piece. I enjoyed this episode but I was not blown away by it this time around. Most importantly, I was not turned off by it. I want to watch more. It may not strike me as ground-breaking or monumental as it once did but it is still quality television.

Halt and Catch Fire 3.04

Rules of Honorable Play

Cameron can't seem to get along with Doug and Craig, the former owners of SwapMeet. The problem is the code. Cameron doesn't want to change the code that Mutiny currently uses but the code that SwapMeet is written in is not compatible with Mutiny's code. Cameron wants Doug and Craig to rewrite the SwapMeet code, even though it doesn't seem to make sense to do that. Cameron wrote the base code the Mutiny is based on. She doesn't want to lose that.

Donna doesn't completely understand the problem. She arranges a dinner meeting with Doug, Craig, and Diane. Cameron, by this point, wants to fire Doug and Craig. It would be a costly move because Mutiny would have to buy out their contracts. Donna doesn't bring it up at the dinner meeting until after Craig and Doug have left. Diane isn't happy about it but says okay. Donna changes the message and tells Cameron that Diane said no, told her that they have to keep them. Cameron goes along with it. I've got a feeling that eventually she will find out what Dianne actually said and that it will sour her relationship with Donna.

Gordon is also experiencing some of the growing pains associated with the acquisition of SwapMeet. The coders from the two companies are butting heads just like Cameron and Doug. Gordon takes an off the cuff suggestion from Cameron and turns it into an after hours, team-building exercise: laser tag. It seems to work in more ways that one. In addition to building group cohesion, Gordon also experiences an improvement in his physical well being.

Diane takes Boz to a party. She seems to be interested in him for personal reasons. They run into Joe at the party. Diane gets to meet him for the first time. Joe has some problems of his own but he doesn't turn to either of them for help. He loses one client that accounts for a sizable portion of his company's business but somehow picks up a contract for ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet.

The episode ends with a weird encounter between Donna and Cameron, which leaves Cameron wondering if Donna wants to get rid of her. That's my read of the situation. The only outward or explicit sign that she feels like something is wrong is the question she asks Gordon just before the credits start to roll, "when did you know you had lost Cardiff Electronics?"

This was a much better episode than the last one. It was considerably less melodramatic. I like the plot developments and the way the relationships seem to be evolving. Things are in a state of flux but at the same time it is clear that decisions are being made that will have repercussions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Doctor Strange (2016)

Stephen Strange is a gifted neurosurgeon whose hands are damaged in a car accident. In a desperate attempt he travels to Tibet in the hopes of finding something there to restore his damaged hands. Stephen arrives in Katmandu, meets the Ancient One, Mordo, and Wong, and starts training. He seems to learn the mystic arts extremely fast and soon joins the battle against the rogue Kaecilius who seeks to open a pathway between the Dark Dimension and Earth.

The special effects are quite beautiful. The movie, especially the final battle leaves something to be desired. There were parts that just made no sense and left me scratching my head. I understand that this is magic and not everything is going to make sense but still. There were battle scenes that were hard to follow because it was unclear what exactly was happening as the world tilted this way and that.

I'm not sure why they chose to have a Caucasian woman play the role of the Ancient One, instead of an Asian man, which is what the character was in the comic books. Tilda Swinton did a decent job but her performance wasn't so great that it made me forget the fact that the character wasn't supposed to be white.

Some of the movie felt like set up for stuff to come down the road. The turning of Mordo at the end of the movie, in the end credits scene didn't feel earned. He was obviously bothered by the reveal that the Ancient One had kept herself alive using energy from the Dark Dimension, but that doesn't fully explain why he would all of a sudden decide to switch sides. Yes, there was an explanation given but it just didn't feel earned.

The fight between Dr. Strange and Dormammu at the end of the movie was unsatisfying. I understand that Strange was able to manipulate time but how was he able to bring himself back after Dormammu killed him each time. That felt a bit too simple. Honestly, the fights with Kaecilius were more exciting than the one with Dormammu.

On the whole not a bad movie but it doesn't compare favorably in my book to most of the other Marvel films. It left me feeling let down even though there were somethings that I liked about it

Friday, August 11, 2017

GLOW 1.08

Maybe It's All the Disco

The women of GLOW continue to prepare for the big on camera debut but there is no ring action in this episode.

Sheila (the wolf girl) accidentally let's it drop that it's her birthday. She doesn't want a party but the other women, Jenny in particular, insist on celebrating. The group takes her to a roller skating rink and have a party for her there. She is reluctant to put on skates but once she gets rolling they can't get her to stop.

The only one who misses the party is Debbie. She is dealing with Mark, her husband. She signs the divorce papers but he tears them up. He tells her that he has been in therapy and doesn't really want a divorce. She is flabbergasted by the fact that he wants to fix the marriage and the lengths to which he has gone so far. It seems as if it is still a little too early to say that they will definitely patch things up.

Sam gets weary of Sheila's lack of shame. He doesn't understand why she doesn't want to hide their relationship from the others. He's ready to end their sexual relationship when she does. At first he's happy but when she tells him why he wants to give it another shot.

Ruth suspects and then confirms that she is pregnant. The father is presumably Mark. She turns to Sam for help and he shows up for her. There isn't any talk about it or how she is feeling. It is all in how Allison Brie plays it: her body language, her facial expressions. Powerful stuff.

What an episode. Considerably more pathos than humor but what an episode. Not sure I would call it my favorite but I am impressed. There is one moment that made me laugh out loud harder than I have in quite a while. I'm not sure it would resonate with everyone but there was something about it. I think it may have been because that I thought I knew where it was going once it got started and then it veered in a different direction. That and the commitment to it by the performers. That was followed up by the most sober moment of the episode. What a mix

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chewing Gum 1.02

Binned

Tracey sees Conner again, gives him a hand job, meets Mandy (Conner's mum), worries that she's pregnant, and discovers something about Ronald (her ex-boyfriend).

Solidly good in my opinion even though I couldn't understand everything said. I really should try watching this show with the closed captions turned on.

Almost every scene had something in it that at least made me smile if not laugh out loud.