Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Americans 1.01

Pilot

Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are Russian spies. They have two children and live near Washington, DC. They have been living in the United States for about 16 years, since 1965. They track down a defector, Nikolai Timoshev, a former KGB officer and capture him. They are supposed to get him to a ship which will take him back to Russia. They make a stop to drop off one of their collegaues who was stabbed during the pursuit of the defector. They arrive at the dock in time to see the ship leaving but not in time to get the defector on board.

Philip and Elizabeth aren't sure what to do with Timoshev. In the meanwhile, they keep him tied up and locked up in the trunk of their car. They use a ball gag to keep him quiet. Elizabeth has a past with Timoshev, an unpleasant one. He raped her when she was a trainee 20 years ago. She never told Philip. She seems eager to kill Timoshev now that their best chance to get him out of the country has set sail. Philip tries contacting other KGB operatives but everyone is laying low because the FBI is out and about searching for the missing defector

Philip is swayed by Timoshev to consider turning himself in. Timoshev tells Philip about the money he will get if he does, millions. Philip tries bringing it up to Elizabeth but she is adamant that they will not defect and will not betray Russia. I get the impression that she is the senior member of their team although it isn't explicitly stated.

Stan Beeman plus his wife and son move in across the street from the Jennings. Stan is an FBI agent. He starts to sense that something is off about Philip but can't quite put his finger on what it is. He comes dangerously close to spotting Timoshev in the trunk when he comes over to borrow some jumper cables.

Things get increasingly tense for Elizabeth and Philip. He is about ready to let Timoshev go and turn himself into Stan Beeman when Elizabeth finds out what he is up to. She's disgusted. Timoshev halfheartedly apologizes for what he did to her 20 years earlier. She's ready to kill him but doesn't. Philip does instead, after hearing about what Timoshev did to her. They dispose of the body together and make love in their car afterwards.

I'm hooked. I loved this episode. There's a lot to like about it. I like the setup and the way the plot unfolds. It kept me on my toes and wasn't as forced or predictable as I feared it might be. There are some powerful character moments for both lead characters. I really liked the way music was used in this episode to help set the scene and ratchet up the tension. I'm very eager to see where the show goes from here.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Defenders 1.08

The Defenders

Luke Cage doesn't want to help Daredevil and Jessica Jones but they (with some help from Colleen Wing and Claire Temple) talk him into helping them rescue Iron Fist. The three main characters find the elevator and head down into the pit. Colleen and Claire plant the explosives which are supposed to take down the building. Daredevil, Luke, and Jessica meet the the bad guys (Elektra, Madame Gao, Murakami, and a slew of Hand thugs) at the bottom of the pit. A big fight ensues. Jessica, Danny, and Luke make it back on to the elevator and start to exit the pit. Things get dicey when the elevator cable gets cut but they still make it out alive. Matt stays behind to try and talk Elektra into switching sides.

Claire and Colleen encounter Bakuto, Colleen's old sensei, while they are setting explosives. Colleen and Bakuto fight. Misty shows up and gets her right arm chopped off. Colleen kills Bakuto by chopping his head off, just like Stick killed Sowande in 1.05. The timer on the explosives is set. Claire, Colleen, and Misty head for the exit. They run into Luke, Danny, and Jessica as they are exiting the building. The explosives go off. The building collapses into the pit.

There are a number of special effects which didn't do it for me in this episode. The collapse of the Midland building was probably the worst. It isn't the worst ever but considering how close the heroes were to the building when it imploded, they and everyone around them should have been enveloped in a cloud of dust.

On the whole I found the dialogue to be very rough and lacking in subtlety of any kind. It seemed like every single member of the supporting casts of the four shows leading up to this one had to make an appearance. It all just felt very forced.

The end of the show, the last 15 minutes, isn't much better than what came before. It is the next day or maybe a few days have passed and there are few scenes which show how the survivors are picking up their lives and moving on. Matt is assumed to be dead but the very last scene shows him in a bed, bandaged up. It reminds me of a similar scene from Born Again.

On the whole this was a disappointing series, in the same way that Iron Fist was disappointing. If this is the direction in which Marvel Netflix shows are headed then I may not be watching too much more of them.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.15

Shadows of P’Jem

The monastery at P’Jem is attacked by the Andorians. No one is injured but the Vulcan High Command blames Captain Archer because of his actions in 1.07 (The Andorian Incident). Archer’s superiors refuse to take action against him. The Vulcans decide to recall T’Pol without explanation but it is implicitly clear that she is being blamed for his actions at P’Jem.

Archer and T’Pol take a shuttlepod and head down to the surface of the one inhabited planet in the Coridan system. They are attacked and taken hostage by a group of local insurgents. The insurgents think that T’Pol is the Captain. Archer tries to convince them otherwise but they aren’t buying it. T’Pol plays along with the insurgents beliefs about her rank.

Tucker tries a rescue mission after the Enterprise gets ransom demands from the insurgents and a visit from the Vulcans who are there to pick up T’Pol. Trip and Reed travel to the surface of the planet and run into Shran and another Andorian. They are the same Andorians who were last seen in 1.07. The Coridan system is a front of sorts in the war between the Vulcans and the Andorians. The Andorians are aligned with the insurgents but Shran wants to clear the debt he feels he owes to Archer.

The Vulcans show up on the surface of the planet in the midst of the Human/Andorian rescue mission. Archer and T'Pol are rescued but T'Pol is injured when she places herself in the line of fire while defending Sopek, the Vulcan leader. Archer manages to convince the Vulcans to let T'Pol stay on the Enterprise for now.

I like this episode but I'm not crazy about it. It felt a bit forced in places. I like the conflict between the Vulcans and the Andorians and how the humans are caught in the middle, strictly aligned with neither group. Sopek gave in to Archer's reasoning a little too easily for my tastes. I do like the reasoning for why Shran and his lieutenant and there to help the humans. There are also some light moments that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Master of None 2.01

The Thief

Dev is studying in Modena, Italy. He is learning to make pasta. He meets Sara, a British woman, at an exclusive restaurant on his birthday. They are both there alone. She had a reservation but she arrived on the wrong day. He offers to share his table with her. They have a great time together. She invites him to come visit her.

Dev’s phone gets stolen as he is waving goodbye to Sara. He chases the thief but is unable to catch him. He doesn’t know how to contact Sara without the phone.

This episode has some nice touches to it. I liked the team of Dev and the young boy. I think that Sara will be back even though Dev doesn't seem to have anyway to find her at this point. The entire episode was filmed in black-and-white. There is a lot of subtitled Italian dialogue in this episode. It’s unclear if the whole season will be presented in this manner. I doubt that it will but I think it worked this time around.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Lady Bird (2017)

Christine, or Lady Bird as she prefers to be called, is a senior in high school. She is, like a lot of people at that age, still figuring out who she is. The movie follows her over the course of her final year in high school. She joins the drama club, dates a couple guys, goes through a couple friendships, applies to college, learns to drive, and deals with her family. The movie is framed as being about Lady Bird's relationship with her mother. Her mother is an important part of the movie but if feels as though it is about more than that. It is about Lady Bird figuring out who she is.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit but halfway through I still wasn't sure what to make of it. In many ways it felt very much like an average indie film up to that point. It wasn't until probably two-thirds of the way in that the movie started to really move me emotionally. Is it a perfect movie? No, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I watched this movie in bits and pieces. I thouhgt it was much better than I was led to believe it would be. I think it comes from the same mold as many of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

I passed on it (until now) because I had heard a lot of negative things about it. I went back to watch it because of all the references to it in subsequent movies, most recently in Thor: Ragnarok but also in Captain America: Civil War. As a stand alone movie it probably isn't that great but it feels like an important piece of the puzzle. It features the first appearance of the Vision and Scarlet Witch. It is in this movie that Segovia is destroyed. Hulk disappears at the end of the movie not to return until Thor: Ragnarok. Thor takes off and similarly does not return until Thor: Ragnarok. Unlike some of the solo movies this feels much more like an important chapter in the overarching story.

There are some holes in the plot, which allow the Avengers to get some moments away from action. The romance between Natasha and Bruce seemed to come out of nowhere. This is not a perfect movie but for the most part I enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

I did not enjoy this movie. I thought there was too much thrown into the mix and it went on for too long. There were a number of moments that felt like the end only to have the movie continue. I kept thinking to myself, "you mean there's more?!" which is something my father used to say. Most importantly, I did not feel emotionally connected to the movie. It just didn't hook me. I didn't care about the characters.

The well known actors (Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro) who appeared in the movie added nothing to it for me. Neither or them was bad or awful but casting well known actors was more distracting than anything else.

The other thing that I found distracting was General Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher passed almost a year before the movie was released. General Organa faced more than one moment when it looked like her death was imminent. I thought they would kill her off in this movie and each time the General faced a near death moment I wondered if this was how she was going to go. Very distracting.

I don't like to compare movies too much but in a way I can't help but compare this to Tron: Legacy. I really like the original Tron film. I had high hopes for the sequel. I love the music but I found the sequel to be a huge disappointment. Similarly I enjoyed the Force Awakens. I interpreted the final scene in Episode VII to be a statement to the older fans, who grew up watching the original trilogy of movies. I thought that final scene meant that the next film was going to be about pulling them in more and including Luke in a meaningful way. Instead I feel like what I got was the director giving the middle finger to the older fans: Forget the past and move on. I don't have a problem with creating something new but openly advocating forgetting the past is not something that I am cool with.

Mighty Mouse (39)

Aladdin's Lamp
Date: 03/28/1947
Length: 6:09

Mighty Mouse comes to the rescue when a villainous cat tries to kidnap a mouse princess from ancient Baghdad. The cat uses a magic lamp which he stole from the princess' father but Mighty Mouse lives up to his name.

Fun to watch, lots more singing than in some of the other Mighty Mouse cartoons I've watched.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Defenders 1.07

Fish in the Jailhouse

Matt, Jessica, and Luke are taken to a police station. The police question them but don't get much out of them. Luke is unconscious but eventually comes out of it.

Elektra has a chat with the three remaining fingers of the Hand. They don't trust her. They question her motivations but ultimately they follow her lead.

Matt, Jessica, and Luke break out of the police station and make their way to the Midland Buiilding. They are confronted by Madame Gao, Murakami, and Bakuto. They fight but in the end bad guys create a distration and then vanish.

Elektra fights Iron Fist in the pit below the Midland Building. She opens by trying to talk him into opening the gate but he doesn't want to be a party to anything that the Hand is interested in doing. She claims that she isn't with the Hand but he isn't listening. They fight. She tricks him into punching the wall which opens the gate which is where the episode ends.

Misty Knight is severly underused or misused in this series. She seems to spend all of her time as the representative of the NYPD. All of her lines seem to be variations on: "What is going on? You have to tell me what you know." I thought she was an integral part of season 1 of Luke Cage but so far I feel as though she could be replaced with any generic police detective.

On the whole not a great episode. There were just a few too many plot holes and a little too much fast forwarding to satisfy me. Hopefully the last episode of this season will be better than this one.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Haters Back Off 1.07

Starr Off the Parade

Uncle Jim's latest plan to jump start Amanda's career is to get her in the town's parade. First he tries getting Maureen the Mattress Queen to put Amanda on her float. Maureen and Jim knew each other in high school. Maureen didn't like Jim then and thinks even less of him now and isn't about to put Amanda on her float.

Uncle Jim isn't ready to give up. With some help from Patrick and a small group of home schooled teenagers he builds a float for Amanda. It is a really weird looking float. They disrupt the parade and jump in front of Maureen's float. Uncle Jim gets to do a ribbon dance. Amanda and Patrick finally kiss, even though earlier in the episode she told him that she couldn't date him because she was famous and he wasn't.

Bethany runs into Keith and convinces him to join her in the back of the grocery store where she works. They make out and make plans to meet at the parade. Things don't turn out well. Bethany spots Keith with another woman.

Emily gets her mother to sign the application for art school. She goes for the interview only to discover that someone (Amanda?) defaced the art she packed in her bag.

Very good episode with a good mix of funny and poignant moments.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Young Justice 1.19

Misplaced

Klarion the Witch Boy leads a group of sorcerers in casting a spell that seems to get rid of all the adults in the world. It takes a little while for the young heroes (all the regulars plus Zatanna) to figure out what happened. Captain Marvel turns out to be the key. He is Billy Batson when the adults disappear. When turns into Captain Marvel he discovers himself in a world without kids. By changing back and forth he is able to relay messages between the two teams. In the case of the Justice League that means just Batman, Red Tornado, and Zatara because all other League members are off dealing with other emergencies.

The teams converge on Roanoke Island, where the evil sorcerers are casting their spell. The heroes, young and adult, throw what they can at the evil sorcerers but the tide doesn’t turn until Zatanna dons the helmet of Nabu. She defeats Klarion and the other evil doers but Nabu refuses to release her. It isn’t until Zatara promises to take her place that Nabu agrees to let Zatanna go.

The episode ends with Zatanna moving to Happy Harbor to live with the other young heroes. She would probably be happy with getting to live with them if it weren’t for the fact that she lost her father to Nabu.

The very end of the episode shows a meeting of villains, including Klarion, the Brain, Monsieur Mallah, and Sportsmaster. It is here that it is finally revealed that the sorcerers attack was merely a diversion. The real goal was to steal the remains of the of the giant starfish from 1.08 (Downtime).

Pretty good episode. I was confused until the very end as to what the end goal was for the villainous magic-users.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Community 2.02

Accounting for Lawyers

Jeff runs into Alan, an old colleague, someone he used to work with before he got disbarred. They start hanging out together. Jeff misses some of the study group's meetings. Annie realizes that she knows Alan from her Narcotics Anonymous group. I don't recall if this is something that came up in the first season or not, I mean the fact that Annie attended NA meetings.

Annie recalls something that Alan said that leads her to believe that he's the one that got Jeff fired. The group does what they can to break the news to Jeff and obtain proof that Alan is the culprit.

Chang still wants in to the study group. He gets to join their team for the Greendale Pop and Lockathon but they withhold membership in the study group.

Drew Carey shows up as one of the lawyers but not the one who betrayed Jeff.

There were a few good laughs in this one but it didn't measure up to the previous episode.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.13

Dear Doctor

Doctor Phlox gets the spotlight. The episode is framed by a letter he is composing to Dr. Lucas, a human doctor who as part of the interspecies exchange program is serving on Dr. Phlox home world of Denobula. The episode opens with a number of vignettes that show what Dr. Phlox life on the Enterprise is like and introduce a possible love interest, Crewman Elizabeth Cutler.

The main story of this episode gets rolling when the Enterprise encounters a ship drifting in space. Aboard are two Valakian men. They are sick and need help, but it isn't just them it is their entire people on their home planet of Valakis. Captain Archer confers with T'Pol and decides that they should step in and see what they can do to help.

Dr. Phlox quickly discovers after they arrive that there isn't just one humanoid species on Valakis but 2, the Valakian and the Menk. The Menk are considered to be inferior by the Valakians but unlike the Valakians they are not experiencing an epidemic. Dr Phlox, Ensign Sato, and Crewman Cutler have interactions with the Menk which open their eyes to some facts that the Valakians did not share with them. The Menk are treated as second class citizens, forced to live where the Valakians allow them to live. Despite these facts the Menk prove to be more intelligent then the Valakians give them credit for being.

Captain Archer starts to get pressure from the Valakians for more help, specifically they want warp drive technology. They claim that with it they could find someone who could help them. Archer is skeptical about giving them the technology which they are requesting. In a conversation with T'Pol he makes note of the parallels to the relationship between the Vulcans and humanity over the past 90 years.

Dr. Phlox finds a cure but advises against Captain Archer giving it to the Valakians. He reveals his findings about the Menk. They are more intelligent than they appear. He questions whether it is right to interfere in the development of this planet and makes comparisons to the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens of Earth, 35000 years ago. Captain Archer ultimately decides to give the Valakians something but not everything. He doesn't give them the knowledge to create warp engines or the cure for the disease. He does give them medicine that will help to delay the effects of the plague.

There is also a more personal subplot involving Crewman Cutler and Doctor Phlox. She seems to have a crush on him. He isn't sure how to respond. The Doctor reveals that he already has 3 wives. Crewman Cutler isn't hoping to become his 4th wife but she wants to keep things open between them. There is no resolution to this subplot. They are still on friendly terms when the episode ends. Crewman Cutler appears in two other episodes, both of which are 1st season episodes but neither of which is on my short list. The actress who played Crewman Cutler died in 2003.

There is an oblique nod to the Prime Directive which doesn't exist at this point in time. Captain Archer is the one who brings it up while he is talking to Dr. Phlox.

The episode opens with Dr. Phlox entering sick bay and turning on the light and closes with him leaving sick bay and turning off the lights.

I can see why this made a list of essential episodes. It has the hallmarks of an original series episode. There is a moral quandry with no easy answer. How much is enough? How can you stand by and do nothing while others are suffering? It is interesting to note that the bigger problem, the one that seems to get more attention on the episode, is the epidemic that is ravaging the Valakian population. The treatment of the Menk at the hands of the Valakians is relegated to a second class status in the same way that the Menk are. A case could certainly be made that this is the more important issue.

This is an excellent episode.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Defenders 1.06

Ashes, Ashes

Dissension in the ranks strike both the heroes and the villains. Danny doesn't like Stick's theory that the Iron Fist is the key to opening something, even though the other three seem ready to accept it. He fights with Daredevil and gets knocked out by Jessica. They are afraid he will get himself caught if tries to go it alone.

Alexandra is experiencing something similar as her compatriots beign to turn on her. They question her choice to bring the Black Sky into the picture. They see the Black Sky as volatile and unreliable. Alexandra does her best to assure them that is not the case and that she has her under control.

Elektra leaves Matt's apartment before he gets back. She finds a prayer card from the service for her funeral and takes it. Matt notices that it is gone but doesn't tell Jessica who is with him when he finds out. He is already in deep water with the others for (a) not telling them about his past with Elektra sooner, and (b) not telling them about the pit beneath Midland HQ. This probably won't help to bring the goup closer together even if they don't find out about it.

Matt and Jessica got to visit Michelle Raymond but end up taking to Chloe, her daughter. While they are there they find John Raymond's plans for Midlands HQ hidden in the piano. There is more to the plans than just the building, there are also maps of catacombs beneath the building.

Iron Fist tries talking Luke and Stick into untieing him but they won't. Stick pulls a fast one and knocks Luke out with some incense. Stick is ready to kill Iron Fist to prevent the Hand from getting their -- uh -- hands on him. Before he can do it Elektra shows up. She gets the upper -- uh -- hand and kills Stick just after Matt and Jessica return. Luke wakes up. All three heroes try to take Elektra down but she takes them down fairly easily.

Elektra returns to Alexandra with Iron Fist. Everything looks like it is going Alexandra's way until Elektra turns on her and kills her with a Sai. Elektra then tells the three remaining leaders that they work for her now.

There's lots to like here. I loved the fight between Daredevil and Iron Fist. Maybe not the best fight ever but it worked for me. I still don't get Iron Fist. He is such a contradiction. He constantly talks about balance and control but he seems to lose his cool fairly easily. It is hard for me to believe that someone as hot headed as he is was ever able to master the Iron Fist.

On the whole a very enjoyable episode. Better than the last one and on a par with the one before that.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

NewsRadio 3.02

President

Mr. James decides to run for President of the United States. It turns out he is after something other that the oval office, something he has sought before. Lisa figures it out a few minutes into his press conference when he makes his bid for the office official.

Matthew grows a very furry mustache which disgusts everyone at WNYX.

I should have watched this episode first. It feels like a season opener. The last one did not. Al Roker makes a guest appearance as a journalist. THat makes two in a row with a minor celebrity playing someone other than themselves. Overall this was a pretty good episode.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Futurama 7.08

Fun on a Bun

The Planet Express crew takes some time off and goes to Oktoberfest in the Neander Valley region of Germany. Fry is disappointed to learn that Oktoberfest is a much more cultured event in the 31st century. Bender takes part in a sausage making contest. In an effort to make a truly unusual variety of sausage Bender and Fry go looking for frozen woolly mammoth.

Bender finds what he is looking for and makes sausage out of it. Fry accidentally winds up in a world beneath the ice of the Neander Valley where Neanderthals still live and mistake him for one of their own. Fry lost his memory after he was hit on the head and frozen in ice. Leela is distraught over losing Fry (who everyone believes is dead) and opts to have her memories removed a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Not as many laughs as I would like but it was fun to watch.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Haters Back Off 1.06

Becuming a Magichin

Miranda grows tired of waiting for Uncle Jim to make her famous. She gets Patrick to help her become a magician. Coincidentally, becoming a magician is step 5 of Uncle Jim's 5-step plan for success. Uncle Jim does what he can to interfere with Patrick's attempts to help Miranda. He misses the audition at the magic club but Bethany shows up and inadvertently becomes part of the act.

It really got weird when Uncle Jim and Bethany were sharing a bed. I'm not sure if they are siblings or in-laws but either way that scene was beyond a little weird.

Not my favorite episode but there lots of wacky fun in this one.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Young Justice 1.18

Secrets

Wally, M'Gann, and Conner go to a Halloween Dance at the school they go to. Most of the other students they have run into before are there: Wendy, Marvin, Karen, Mal. Artemis and Zatanna were all set to join them until Zatanna points out how M'Gann and Conner are an item now. Artemis loses all interest in going. Instead she and Zatanna ditch their Halloween costumes and go fight some crime.

Robin and Aqualad have a meeting with Batman, Red Arrow, and Red Tornado about who the potential mole on the team might be. Aqualad is ready to conclude that there is no mole. Red Arrow isn't so quick to reach that conclusion. He points out that Artemis isn't Green Arrow's niece like she claimed to be. Robin knows who she is but Batman keeps him from saying too much. Red Arrow also points out that Martian Manhunter may be related to M'Gann but they only met for the first time 5 months ago. Batman is wary of Superboy and what Cadmus might have put in his head.

Artemis and Zatanna ride around on motorcycles beating up armed robbers for a while until they come across a supernatural bad guy. His name is Harm. He stole a magic sword, the Sword of Beowulf, at the beginning of the episode. Neither Artemis' arrows nor Zatanna's magic seems to be capable of doing anything more than distracting him. They encounter a ghost while they are running and trying to figure out what to do about Harm.

The ghost eventually leads them to her grave. She turns out to be Harm's younger sister. He killed her in a ritual sacrifice to gain his powers. The ghost helps them defeat Harm and robs him of his supernatural abilities.

I recall when I first watched this episode I didn't really get interested until they got to the reveal at the end. It was just so creepy. The part at the dance was boring. The meeting with Aqualad and Robin and the Leaguers was good but a very small part of the episode. It was the Artemis and Zatanna story that gives this episode some heft. Not a great episode but a very good one.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Community 2.01

Anthropology 101

Britta is still reeling from what happened in 1.25 (Pascal's Triangle Revisited). She is mortified at all the attention she is getting until she realizes what a celebrity she has become on campus. Annie has the hots for Jeff. Jeff is publicly shunned by most if not all women on campus until he comes up with a strategy for getting back at Britta. Troy is tweeting everything stupid his new roommate, Pierce, says. Abed gets very meta with his ideas for the group. The group is taking an anthropology class taught by Professor June Bauer (Betty White). Chang, formerly Professor Chang the Spanish teacher, wants to join the study group.

I forgot how good this show can be. They pulled out all the stops with this one. I loved how ridiculous Jeff's scheme to get back at Britta got. I am very impressed. If all the episodes this season are as good as this one then I will be very happy.

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.11

Cold Front

The Enterprise encounters a ship carrying Borothan pilgrims in area of space where stars form, a stellar nursery. They are there to observe the Great Plume of Agosoria. The pilgrims are peaceful and Archer invites them to come aboard the Enterprise. As the Enterprise approaches the best spot from which to watch the Great Plume they begin to experience some turbulence due to a plasma storm. There is a cascade of anti-matter which almost destroys the Enterprise. When Tucker and his engineering team examine the engines they discover that someone intentionally damaged the engines. If the engines had not been damaged then the anti-matter cascade would have destroyed the Enterprise.

Tucker continues to try and figure out who might have sabotaged the engines. Archer is approached by Daniels, a member of the crew who reveals that he isn't actually a member of Star Fleet but is a time traveler from the 31st century. He knows who sabotaged the engine. It was Silik, the Suliban from the 26th century whom Archer encountered in 1.01 (Broken Bow). Silik got aboard the Enterprise in this episode disguised as a pilgrim. Daniels is a representative of an organization that opposes Silik and the shadowy figure from whom he takes his orders in the temporal cold war.

Daniels has equipment that he wants to hook into the Enterprise to help him locate and capture Silik. Archer reluctantly agrees. He lets Tucker and T'Pol in on what is going on. They have a hard time believing what he is telling them. Archer is approached by Silik while Tucker and T'Pol are working with Daniels. Silik tries to convince Archer that he is the good guy and Daniels is the dangerous one. Archer doesn't believe him. Silik stuns Archer and heads to engineering after learning that Daniels is there.

Silik and Daniels fight and Silik seems to disintegrate Daniels. Archer recovers and chases down Silik but the Suliban escapes from the Enterprise on to his own ship. The episode ends with Archer ordering Daniels quarters sealed up until further notice.

This episode opens up a world of possibilities. I remember being very excited by it when it first aired. Daniels and Silik will return but not immediately. It is a little unclear in retrospect why Silik was on the Enterprise in the first place. He saved it but why? He tried to capture some of Daniels devices but Archer prevented him from taking them with him. I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the Temporal Cold War episodes but I'm not certain that they will satisfy me.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sopranos 1.13

I Dream of Jeanie Cusamano

Lots of things come to a head. Some plot lines are wrapped up and others roll on in the final episode of the first season.

Tony decides that something has to be done about Jimmy Altieri. Uncle Junior agrees and gives his blessing. Silvio and Chris are tasked with dealing with Jimmy. They lure him to a hotel room with the help of a hooker and kill him, execution-style.

Artie Bucco finds out from Livia that Tony is the one responsible for the fire that destroyed his restaurant. This happens just as Artie and Charmaine are opening their new restaurant, in large part due to the insurance payout. Artie loses it and confronts Tony, with a hunting rifle. Tony talks him down by lying to him, telling him that he had nothing to do with the fire and that his mother is going senile. Artie doesn't know what to do. He tries talking to Father Intintola, who recommends that he tell Charmaine and go to the police.

FBI agents bring Tony in and have him listen to a recording of his mother and his uncle talking about him. They are talking about the fact that he is seeing a psychiatrist. What isn't stated explicitly but is implied is that he will have to be killed. Tony is smart enough to read between the lines. The FBI agents want him to cut a deal with them but he refuses once again. He leaves and starts to plot against his uncle.

Tony visits Dr. Melfi's office a couple times during the episode. During the first visit he gets enraged when she suggests that his mother is the one behind the recent attempt on his life. That occurs before his meeting with the FBI agents. After he finds out that Dr. Melfi was right he goes back to see her. She locks the door and threatens to call 911. She is scared after what he did the day before. He promises not to harm her. She accepts his promise. They talk. He explains as much as he can to her and encourages her to get out of town. He is worried that her life may be in danger because she is his psychiatrist. She balks at the idea of leaving town at the drop of a hat but by the end of the episode she takes his advice.

Christopher and Paulie are sent after Mikey Palmice. Then catch up to him while he is jogging. They chase him through the woods. He's fast but eventually he trips and falls in a creek. He begs but they aren't about to show him any mercy. Paulie is pissed off because he ran through poison ivy while they were chasing him and Christopher still holds a grudge against him for killing Brendan in 1.03 (Denial, Anger, Acceptance).

Uncle Junior is next on the hit list but before Tony can get to him the FBI does. Junior and a bunch of other mafioso get arrested and indicted. The district attorney in charge of the prosecution wants Junior to testify that Tony is the real head of the Soprano family but Junior isn't willing to play ball.

Tony levels with Silvio, Paulie, and Christopher about seeing a psychiatrist. They aren't sure how to take it. Tony insists they tell him how they feel about it. Paulie admits to having seen a psychiatrist himself a year or two before, to help him with anger issues.

Carmella finds out that Father Phil Intintola has also been talking to Rosalie Aprile. Carmella feels like a fool for thinking that she had something special with Father Phil. She confronts him about it when he invites himself over one night. He tries to bluff his way past her anger but it rings a little too true. Father Phil doesn't stay for dinner.

Tony confronts his mother at the nursing home near the end of the episode. She continues to act senile. I've got to say that I find the act to be very convincing. Maybe it is just an act but there's no real hint (other than Tony's insistence that she's faking it) that she might not actually be losing her marbles.

This season didn't end the way I thought it did. I remembered something else, which must happen in the second season. I recalled the death of Mikey Palmice but the rest was for the most part like watching it for the first time. It was an excellent episode. It sets things and resets things nicely for the next season. It makes me hungry for more but I think that I will wait a while before I take a swing at watching season two.

Mighty Mouse (25)

Krakatoa
Date: 12/14/1945
Length: 6:08

Mighty Mouse comes to the rescue of Krakatoa Katie (she ain't no lady) and the other inhabitants of island when the volcano blows up.

There are lots of great visual gags in this one but no talking or singing by characters on screen.


Mighty Mouse (73)

When Mousehood Was in Flower
Date: 11/1953
Length: 6:06

Mighty Mouse comes to the rescue when Pearl Pureheart's father's knights are defeated by the Black Knight (Oil Can Harry) at a jousting tournament.

This is along the lines of what I remembered Mighty Mouse to be. There was lots of singing by everyone including Mighty Mouse. I loved how Oil Can Harry's armor was transformed each time he he got punched by Mighty Mouse. Very silly. Lots of fun.

The Defenders 1.05

Take Shelter

The Hand continues their assault on the Royal Dragon. The leaders of the Hand are there but they aren't all equally active in the attack. Sowande fights with Luke Cage and Matt fights with the Black Sky (Elektra), while the other three deal with the rest of the team of baddies that the Hand has brought in to capture the Immortal Iron Fist.

Sowande is a new character although the way they talk about him makes it sound as if he also showed up in the Iron Fist series. Using martial arts he does quite a number on Luke Cage.

Matt tries talking some sense into Elektra. She still doesn't seem to recognize him but it does seem like she at least gathers they have a shared past.

The heroes escape into the sewer and then regroup at Colleen's dojo. Luke, who was separated from the others before they departed the Royal Dragon, shows up with a prisoner: Sowande. They don't get much in the way of information out of him other than the warning that all their loved ones are now at risk. The heroes make an effort to make sure their non-powered friends are okay.

Jessica is attacked by Murakami while she is attempting to get Trish to safety. Murakami gets the upper hand but Daredevil shows up and intervenes. Murakami is knocked off a balcony and disappears.

Bakuto, Colleen's former sensei returns. She believed he was dead. They fight. He injures her pretty badly. The other heroes show up and Bakuto vanishes. Later in the episode it becomes clear that Bakuto is one of the leaders, one of the five fingers of the Hand. The others are Alexandra Reid, Madame Gao, Sowande, and Murakami.

The heroes interrogate Sowande but he seems fairly confident that the Hand will win in the end. Daredevil gets into an argument with Danny, Luke, and Jessica when he tells them about Elektra, how she died, and his past relationship with her. Sowande gets free of his bonds while they are arguing. He grabs Danny and holds a shiv to his neck. He doesn't get very far. Stick intervenes and cuts off Sowande's head. He looks dead but could he be brought back? Probably.

Elektra leaves Alexandra's apartment and finds her way to Matt's apartment. She lays down on his bed and the episode ends there. It seems like Elektra is starting to remember things or at least trying to. My guess is that by the end of the season she will recall who she is but for some tragic reason she and Matt won't be back together again.

I don't understand why they didn't take Colleen to a hospital emergency room after Bakuto sliced her stomach. They took her to a police stations, the one where Misty works. A number of other familiar faces winds up there too: Trish, Malcolm, Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, and Claire Temple. Colleen and Misty meet for the first time. It feels awkward and forced. In the comic books they teamed up and were collectively known as the Daughters of the Dragon. They were mostly supporting characters in Power Man and Iron Fist and rarely featured in stories of their own.

Apparently I was wrong about the Punisher showing up. The van full of weapons belonged to the Hand. It is probably just as well. This story is crowded enough as is.

On the whole a decent episode but I think I preferred the previous one a little more.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

NewsRadio 3.01

Review

A magazine's review of WNYX generates a lot of discussion at the radio station. Matthew forces a showdown with Dave when he refuses to let him do a story about Dilbert.

I loved how Bill handled the review of his work on air which described him as adequate. They went a little overboard with the Dilbert plot thread. I read the comic strip faithfully in the 1990s and still enjoy it today but did not care for the way it was used in this episode. On the whole a good but not great episode even though it ended on a better note than it began.

According to IMDB this is the second episode of the third season. It was the first one in the collection that I bought. Considering how little continuity there is in this series I'm not sure that it really if I watch the first two episodes of this season in the wrong order.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert is in this episode but he does not play the actor who Dave hires to impersonate Scott Adams. Instead he is the guy in line behind Matthew, Dave and Joe at the coffee shop in the opening scene.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Haters Back Off 1.05

Starring in a Musicall

Uncle Jim takes over Bethany's attempt to do an at home production of Annie, starring Miranda in all the roles. He rewrites the script and holds an open casting call. Emily wasn't going to participate until one of her friends shows up at the house to audition. Emily joins the production to cover the fact that she is related to Miranda. Patrick gets to step in and play the leading man, Daddy Warbucks, after the actor originally cast in that role quits over the way the part has been rewritten by Uncle Jim.

This one was a lot of fun. I loved the wacky twists and turns that the story took. Everyone had some quality moments.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Young Justice 1.17

Disordered

Black Canary plays counselor and talks to each of the team members one-on-one about the training sceario gone wrong, see 1.16 (Failsafe). Superboy is the first and last sit down with Black Canary. He stomps off the first time and goes on a trip with Wolf and Sphere. Sphere transforms into a flying cycle that is big enough to carry both Superboy and Wolf.

The Forever People, a group of young heroes from New Genesis, arrive on Earth looking for technology stolen from their planet. Sphere, unbeknownst to Superboy, is from New Genesis. The Forever People catch up to Superboy and thinking he stole the New Genisphere (as they call it) insist that he return it to them at once. Mother Box, the Forever People's hand held device, sees the situation for what it is and let's them know that they are making a mistake: Superboy did not steal Sphere.

Superboy and the Forever People then go on a mission to recover other stolen technology. Mother Box leads them to a construction site where they battle some criminals from Earth who are using a combination of technology from New Genesis and Apokolips. The criminals' benefactor is revealed to be DeSaad, chief torturer of Apokolips. The Forever People combine to create Infinity Man but Desaad counters by using a Father Box to bend Infinity Man to his will. Infinity Man turns on Superboy.

Sphere solves the problem by reshaping and attaching itself to Infinity Man's head. Superboy jumps on sphere are uses it to control Infinity Man to defeat Desaad and the other bad guys.

Throughout this episode, while Superboy is off having an adventure with the Forever People, Black Canary is shown meeting with the other members of the team, one by one. Artemis doesn't want to speak to Black Canary. Aqualad questions whether he should be leading the team. At first he thinks he should resign but then he reconsiders and withdraws his resignation because he doesn't think any of the others is up to the task. Robin admits that he has come to the realization that he no longer wants to be Batman. He isn’t about to give up being a superhero but he no longer looks up to Batman the way he used to. Miss Martian talks about no longer wanting to use her powers. Kid Flash spends his time with Black Canary acting as if nothing is wrong.

I like the balance between the counseling sessions and Superboy's adventure. It would have been nice if the Forever People could have been fleshed out a little more but in order to do that I think they would have needed another episode or two to get the job done. This is not my favorite episode but it I like it a lot.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Too Funny to Fail (2017)

The Life and Death of the Dana Carvey Show

A documentary about the short lived Dana Carvey Show. It ran for 8 episodes in March and April 1996. The last episode never aired. There are a number of people who are well known today who worked on the show, most notably Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It was interesting to hear the story of what went right and what went wrong from the people who were there working on the show, a tv critic, and a network executive. There are lots of clips from the show.

I didn't like the way they used music to try and tell the viewer what the tone of the scene was but other than that I thought this movie was fun, funny, and informative.

As of right now this movie is only available on Hulu.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mighty Mouse (56)

The Catnip Gang
Date: 07/22/1949
Length: 5:57

I liked the way this one is framed by a radio program where the chief of police tells the story of how the Catnip Gang escaped from prison and was later recaptured. The police had them surrounded but they needed some help from Mighty Mouse in order to get the job done.

Once again Mighty Mouse doesn't speak even though he shows up at the radio station at the end of the broadcast.

Mighty Mouse (67)

A Cat's Tale
Date: 11/1951
Length: 6:07

A cat tells the story of where mighty mouse came from and how he beat up a huge cat.

Mighty Mouse does not talk in this story. Only the cat talks. He also smokes, something you don't see in cartoons anymore. Not the best story but I like the tone of this cartoon.

Mighty Mouse (79)

The Mysterious Package
Date: 12/15/1960
Length: 6:15

Mighty Mouse traces the origin of mysterious packages which seem to be connected to the disappearance of young mice across town. He winds up in a castle on another planet. There he battles a metal, egg-shaped creature.

Mighty Mouse and other characters talked in this cartoon. He didn't sing. I didn't find either the story or the animation to be very good or inspired compared to other Mighty Mouse cartoons I have seen.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.07

The Andorian Incident

Captain Archer, Trip and T'Pol visit P'Jem, a Vulcan monastery. They quickly learn that the monks have some unwanted visitors, Andorians. The Andorians claim that the Vulcans have violated their treaty with Andoria by placing long range sensors within the monastery. The Vulcans deny the claim. Captain Archer is forcefully interrogated by the Andorians but he doesn't know anything.

Lieutenant Reed tries contacting Captain Archer. The Andorians smash his communicator along with the others. The Andorians continue to search the monastery while the humans and Vulcans are locked up. The Vulcans take this opportunity to reveal to Archer, Trip, and T'Pol a secret passage to the catacombs. One of the Vulcans leads Trip into the catacombs to an old communicator, the only one in the monastery. Trip is able to fix the communicator and he contacts the Enterprise.

Lietenant Reed beams down with a couple armed crewmen and helps to deal with the Andorians. The fight ends with the reveal that the monks were lying. There is a long range sensor in operation at P'Jem. Archer has T'Pol gather data on the long range sensor and then hands is over to Shran, the leader of the Andorians. The way Archer sees it the Vulcans are the ones in wrong and the only way to set things right is to level the playing field. Shran thanks Archer and leaves.

This is the first of many appearances for Shran, but only two in the first season. The other first season episode to feature an Andorian element is 1.15 (Shadows of P'Jem) which I think I will need to add to my list of episodes to watch. There is just one episode in the second season and two in third season that involve the Andorians but there are several episodes in the fourth season.

This episode felt like one from the original series in a number of ways. The captain and crew unknowingly and with the best of intentions stumble into a conflict. They are forced to take a side even though they are supposed to be there as impartial observers.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. From what I can see it plants seeds that will blossom in future episodes. Is it perfect? No, but it works on a number of levels that appeal to me.

The Defenders 1.04

Royal Dragon

Jessica, Luke, Danny, and Matt run from the Midland Building and take refuge in Royal Dragon, a Chinese restaurant on W. 47th Street. The owner doesn't want them there but Danny spends enough money to buy his cooperation. Matt is still wearing Jessica's scarf across the upper portion of his face. He and Danny share with the other two what they know about the Hand. Jessica knows who Matt is but the other two do not. He is very reluctant to remove the scarf but eventually he does.

Elektra still doesn't remember her past life. Alexandra reminds Elektra of what she is now, the Black Sky. Is that enough for Elektra? I don't know. She doesn't seem to be satisfied but she also isn't rebelling against what she has become.

Stick shows up at the Royal Dragon. He explains that he is all that is left of the Chaste, an army that was formed to serve the Immortal Iron Fist. He doesn't know why Danny was never told about their existence. Stick also explains that the hand are there to take over the city and that the four of them are all that stand in the Hand's way.

Jessica has heard enough. It is all a little too much for her to believe so she leaves. Matt isn't happy to see Stick but he stays put. Jessica spends some time looking at images of documents she acquired a couple episodes back. She notices a pattern in the documents which originated from periods over a great span of time. They all seem to have been signed by the same person. She then finds out that someone has been keeping tabs on Michelle Raymond.

Matt, Danny, Luke, and Stick stay at the Royal Dragon for the rest of the night. Stick tells the other three about the Hand. He shares a private moment with Matt and explains to him that what looks like Elektra isn't Elektra. She has no heart beat. It isn't the woman he once knew.

As day breaks the four men notice that they have company. Someone in a van with weapons is nearby. Could this be the Punisher? I'm not sure. Alexandra shows up and tries talking Danny into coming with her. She tries telling him that he can save lives by coming with her but Luke and Stick push back and prevent Iron Fist from doing something stupid. Alexandra gets tired of chatting and calls in her ace in the hole, the Black Sky. Before she can do anything, an SUV comes crashing through the front of the restaurant and blindsides the Black Sky. Jessica walks into what's left of the the Royal Dragon and joins the others.

This was my favorite episode so far. Not perfect but I am enjoying it more than I was a couple episodes back. I like the banter. It wasn't too humorous but there were some humorous moments. I hope that at least the beginning of the next episode lives up to the promise that end of this one makes.

Mighty Mouse (12)

Wolf! Wolf!
Date: 06/22/1944
Length: 6:11

A wolf dressed as Bo Peep convinces a lamb to follow him home. Once they are back at the wolf's place he promptly attempts to kill and cook the lamb, with some help from some other wolves. Mighty Mouse rushes in to save the poor lamb.

I remember watching the old mighty mouse cartoons when I was a kid. From the looks of it there are no DVDs of the old Mighty Mouse cartoons. I found this one one YouTube. I don't recall much of the cartoons from back then other than Mighty Mouse singing. He didn't sing in this cartoon. There was a narrator but he was the only one who talked.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Sopranos 1.12

Isabella

Tony sinks into a deep, dark mood. He stays at home and sleeps. Pussy has gone missing. Tony isn't as certain that Jimmy Altieri is the snitch. Tony doesn't know what to do. He only goes out to see Dr. Melfi. He hangs around the house all day in a bathrobe.

Two things bring him out of this mood. The first is a beautiful exchange student from Italy who is staying with his next door neighbors, the Cusamanos. Tony has two encounters with her. The first occurs when he sees her in the yard next door and goes over to introduce himself. Her name is Isabella. Their second encounter occurs when he is on his way back from an appointment with Dr. Melfi. He runs into Isabella in town and takes her to lunch. She tells him all about the town his family is from in Italy. Tony starts daydreaming about her holding a baby, named Tony. When Carmella catches Tony looking out their bedroom window at Isabella the next day she flips.

The other thing that brings Tony out of his dark mood is an attempt on his life. He doesn't know the two assailants but he manages to fight them off. A minute later he crashes his SUV and winds up in the hospital. The attackers were hired by Mikey Palmice who did it on orders from Uncle Junior.

Talking to Isabella helped Tony in one way. Fighting off the two hoods energized him in another way. FBI agent Harris comes to see Tony in the hospital. He offers him full immunity and a spot in the witness relocation program for him and his family in return for testimony. Tony refuses to talk. Carmella is there and feels differently but she ultimately stands by his side.

Uncle Junior doesn't know what to do when he finds out that Tony survived the hit. He was feeling sick to his stomach before he found out that Tony had survived. In the end he and Livia go to see Tony once he has returned home.

The episode ends with the reveal that Isabella was never there. She was a figment of Tony's imagination. Cusamano doesn't know what he's talking about when he asks him about the beautiful exchange student. Carmella doesn't remember seeing Isabella or any part of the conversation they had at the time. Tony doesn't know what to make of it all but he's happy to be alive and no longer in a dark mood.

One interesting thing that is finally shown is the route Tony takes to get to Dr. Melfi's office. He goes into a coffee shop, but then exits through the rear of the shop and enters the doctor's office through what looks like the rear of that building.

While Tony is in the hospital his family comes to see him. Meadow and AJ are shooed out of the room where Tony is staying and wind up sitting on a bench in a hallway. Behind the bench is an ad for the Red Cross which reads, "Safe Families. Everyone Needs One." How very appropriate considering the nature of this show.

Not perfect but this was a damn good episode. It is a very Tony-centric episode in the sense that it is really all about him and not his relationship with any of the other regulars on the show.