Monday, January 29, 2018

American Vandal 1.01

Hard Facts: Vandalism & Vulgarity

Dylan Maxwell is expelled from high school after he is accused of vandalizing 27 cars in the faculty parking lot. Someone drew penises on all 27 cars with spray paint and Dylan takes the fall for it. His accuser (Alex Trimboli) is a member of the school honor society. Dylan doesn't exactly have a great reputation for being an upstanding student.

Pete Maldonado, a classmate of Dylan, decides to conduct his own investigation into what happened. He pokes some pretty big holes in the school board's case against Dylan but the investigation is just getting started.

Mildly amusing. That's my short description of this episode. It has potential but at this point I like but don't love it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fargo 2.03

The Myth of Sisyphus

The Gerhardt family meets with some of their top lieutenants. They want to make sure that everyone in their organization is aware and on board with them not accepting the offer on the table. War is a possibility but Floyd, who is still running the show while Otto recovers from the stroke he suffered in 2.01 (Waiting for Dutch), doesn't want to start it.

Mike and Joe, the Kansas City men ponder their next move. They have yet to get a response from the Gerhardts. Mike and the Kitchen brothers start digging around. They are still looking for Rye.

Lou goes to Fargo and talks to Ben Schmidt, in the district attorney's office. Lou delivers the news that Rye Gerhardt's prints were found on the gun. Schmidt doesn't seem too happy about that. It sounds like trouble to him. They spot Skip Sprang, Rye's business partner in the courthouse. They question him. He says he is there to see the judge about a past due tax bill. They don't know about his connection to Rye.

Hank crosses paths with Peggy when he stops by the beauty parlor to drop off a wanted poster for Rye Gerhardt. Betsy is there getting her hair done, wondering what will happen to it after she starts getting chemotherapy. Peggy gets very nervous after Betsy theorizes that maybe Rye was hit by a car and that they should be looking for the car instead of Rye. Betsy runs out to tell Ed and convinces him that they have to get rid of the car right away.

Ed drives the car a ways from town and crashes it into a tree. It was Peggy's idea. Her uncle used to do something similar. Ed gets whiplash but for the moment at least it looks like their problem is solved. I doubt that it is going to stay that way.

Lou and Ben visit the Gerhardt compound, in Fargo. They are there to ask about Rye. Ben is known to the Gerhardts. He acts very deferential towards Floyd and Dodd. Lou refuses to hand over his pistol when he enters the compound and stands up to Dodd. I thought for sure that something might happen. They can't kill Lou but there were other possibilities. Lou and Ben leave the compound empty handed but alive and intact.

When they get back to town Lou decides to check out the typewriter shop. He finds someone else already in the shop, someone other than Skip. He finds Mike and the Kitchen brothers. It is their first up close and personal encounter. Both sides draw guns but no shots are fired. They talk for a few minutes before Mike and the Kitchens leave. It is a very tense few minutes.

Skip continues to look for Rye. He goes by Rye's place. There he finds Simone (Dodd's adult daughter) and Hanzee (Dodd's right hand man) but not Rye. They take him to a meeting with Dodd who asks for Rye's whereabouts. When Skip doesn't have the answer Dodd has him killed in a pretty gruesome manner.

I love how this show is progressing. It is tense and intense. I love how it all revolves around the disappearance of Rye. The audience knows what happened to Rye but with the exception of Peggy and Ed no one else does. No one is going to find him. It is just a question of how long it will be until Lou figures out Ed and Peggy's connection to Rye's disappearance. How long will it be until the Kansas City mafia gets tired of waiting?

Dodd comes across in this episode as a force of nature in the same way that Lorne Malvo did in the first season of Fargo. He doesn't seem to have a conscience or care much what others think. His mother has been able to keep him in his place up until now but I don't know how long that will last.

This season of Fargo has yet to disappoint me. There is no fat on this bone. It is all meat: meat that I want to chew on and that I enjoy chewing on.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Moonlight (2016)

Chiron, also known as Little to some and Black to one, lives in Miami with his mother. This is his story, his voyage.

The movie is broken up into three chapters. I'm not sure how old he is in the first part. My guess would be preteen. He seems to be small for his age which is probably why he has been given the name Little. He is very shy. He doesn't talk a lot. He gets pushed around by other boys.

His mother has a problem with substances. Nothing seems amiss with her when she first appears but it quickly becomes clear that all is not well. Little meets Juan, a man who helps him out, lets him stay at his place with him and his girlfriend. Everything is cool between them until Little learns that Juan is a drug dealer.

Kevin is also introduced in act one. Aside from Little's mother, Kevin is the only other character who carries through all three chapters of the movie. In this chapter Kevin is just a friend who tries to help him out, get him to stand up for himself.

The second part of the movie is set a few to several years later, during high school. Chiron hasn't changed much. He is still getting pushed around by other boys. His situation hasn't changed much either, his mother looks like she is in worse shape than she was in the first chapter. Kevin become more than just a friend but then the two are pushed apart by one of the boys that bullies Chiron.

The third and final act takes place about 10 years later. Chiron is living in Atlanta, dealing drugs. He looks a lot like Juan. He is in excellent shape. His mother is doing better. He visits her in a facility. It is unclear to me if it is a minimum security prison or a home for people with substance abuse issues. He gets a call from Kevin. It has been a long time since they saw one another. Chiron's mother moved them to Atlanta after the events at the end of chapter two. Chiron goes to visit Kevin. They talk. Even though Chiron looks different he hasn't changed much on the inside.

Chiron has a ritul that (as I recall it) begins near the end of the second chapter. He cools his face in ice water. In one scene in the third act he is shown standing in front of the freezer with the door open. I don't recall any connection the face cooling portion of the ritual might have to anything else in the movie. I suppose it could be some sort of a statement about how he is numbing himself to the pain he feels.

This movie was not exactly what I expected. Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected it to be. It was powerful. It was hard to watch at times. The first two acts were for the most part very hard to watch. I was really concerned about what sort of note the movie would end on during the first two parts. It did not look good for Chiron.

What loomed large in my mind going in and is an issue throughout the movie is Chiron's sexual orientation. He is called names by other boys from an early age. It is clear that he doesn't know how to deal with that. He learns how to deal with the bullying by the third act but is still learning how to deal with and express his feelings at the end of the movie. I listened to a number of reviews when the movie was released, towards the end of 2016. I didn't have a clear memory of what they had to say other than it was an excellent movie about a gay African-American man who grew up in Miami.

The movie was beautifully shot. The use of music was quite exquisite. It does not feel like a Hollywood movie. It did not feel cliched. The ending didn't didn't resolve everything or tie it up neatly with a bow. It was a very intelligent, very moving portrayal of one boy's journey to manhood. I'm not sure that it will be everyone's cup of tea but it an excellent movie and at least worth a try.


I thought the poster for the movie looked a bit weird. It is only now as I am finishing up this blog post that I see what it is. They have taken all three actors who play Chiron and put pieces of their faces together to make one face. It is funny how easy it can be to miss things sometimes.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Americans 1.05


A valuable spy for the KGB, an American who works for a defense contractor, gets a case of the jitters. His handler hasn't been able to contact him since the FBI got some new encryption devices. It has made it impossible for the KGB to keep tabs on the FBI. The KGB is concerned that if his handler does meet with the spy that the FBI will show up and discover who the spy is. Elizabeth and Philip are tasked with getting the key to the encryption devices.

Nina learns about the spy with the jitters and passes it along to FBI Agent Beeman. He pushes her to get more information. She does so by getting cozy with her boss. Beeman is happy to have the information but (for once) seems a bit sad when he learns what she did to get the intel. Noah Emmerich who plays Beeman almost always look likes he about to start grinning ear to ear. I was glad to see that he actually managed to change his facial expression for that scene.

Philip freaks out when he sees a mark on Elizabeth's back. It came from a guy whom she was pressing for information. They were intimate and he started to beat her with first his hand and then his belt. Philip is ready to deal with the guy but Elizabeth manages to say the right thing and gets him to reconsider. His reaction seemed very defensive and egotistical, not to mention sexist. He seemed to take personal offense at something that happened to Elizabeth. Based on what he said it sounded like he was ready to deal with the guy because according to him that's what men do for their wives. Based on the show up to this point Elizabeth has proven herself to be very capable of dealing with threats.

Stan's wife confronts him once again. It's the same issue as last episode: she feels as if she is losing him to his job. He spends little to no time with her or their son. He can't see the damage he is doing to their relationship because he is too focused on his job.

This episode seems a little more like a Stan and Nina episode than the usual Elizabeth and Philip episode. It isn't a bad episode but it's not even close to being my favorite.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Master of None 2.04

First Date

Dev goes on several first dates. None of them end well. The episode is put together as if it is about one first date but it keeps jumping from one first date to another. They meet at a restaurant, walk along the street, hang out at a club, and ride home in a cab together. Some of the women are shown in more than one setting, some are not, some are shown in all of them.

There weren't too many laugh out loud, funny moments but there were lots of moments that I felt I could relate to, even if I haven't been on a first date in years. I'm tempted to go on IMDB to see if any of the women show up in future episodes but I would rather wait and find out in the normal course of events. By far the best episode of the season up to this point.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

NewsRadio 3.05

Awards Show

The employees of WNYX go to the annual radio awards show despite not having any faith that they are going to win any awards. Matthew becomes convinced that there are ants in the break room. Catherine asks Joe to be her date to the awards banquet. She is concerned that he won't dress appropriately but once the night begins she learns that's the least of her concerns.

Bob Costas is the emcee of the awards banquet.

There was a lot of little things going on in this episode but none of them dominated the program. Not a great episode but I've seen worse.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fargo 2.02

Before the Law

The mob (from Kansas City, not Fargo) comes to town. They are their to talk the local heavies, the Gerhardt family, into selling their operation to them. The patriarch had a stroke. Floyd, his wife, does the talking. She calls her sons in after the men from Kansas City leave. She tells them about the offer on the table. Dodd, the oldest, tries to make like he is taking over. Bear sides with Floyd. Floyd sits down with Dodd and tries to talk some sense into him. Dodd doesn't seem very receptive and (after the meeting with his mother) begins to make plans but before he moves he wants Rye on his side.

Sheriff Larsson learns that one of the victims in the Waffle Hut was a judge from Fargo, ND. He shares that information with Lou. They aren't sure what it means, whether the judge was the target or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Peggy Blumquist goes back to work the day after Ed killed Rye Gerhardt. Ed stays home to clean up the mess. He starts by cleaning up the garage and the car. There's a lot of blood and broken glass to clean up. He takes Rye Gerhardt's body into town after dark, to the butcher shop where he works. He waits until after the owner closes up for the night. He proceeds to start chopping up and grinding the body into hamburger.

Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and his two flunkies, both named Kitchen, hang around town. They drive past the Waffle Hut. They are looking for Rye. They stopped by the typewriter store but were unable to get much out of Rye's business partner. Lou is taking another look at the crime scene when Milligan and the Kitchens drive past. Lou stopped there with Betsy and Molly. Betsy, his wife, was either coming from or headed to a chemotherapy appointment.

Lou has decided that he should take the case instead of Hank. Lou and Hank don't work for the same law enforcement agency. I think Hank is county police and Lou is state police, but that's just a guess.

Lou goes into the diner while Molly and Betsy play in the snow. He spends some time staring at the can of bug spray that judge used on Rye. Betsy spots something in a bush and reaches in. She pulls out Rye's revolver. She hands it over to Lou. It is just about then that Mike and the Kitchens drive past. Something about the car or its contents spooks him so he radios the details to Hank.

Hank gets the Kansas City thugs to pull over and get out of the car. He checks their IDs. It is a chilling scene. There seemed to be real potential for something violent to happen. Both sides seem fully aware of the potential. That night Hank meets up with Lou at the Waffle Hut. They exchange war stories. Hank's are about World War II. Lou's are about the Vietnam War.

The episode ends with another chilling encounter. Lou sees Ed's truck parked in front of the butcher shop and some lights on in the back. He knocks on the door. Ed isn't quite finished grinding up Rye. He opens up the shop for Lou. Lou doesn't seem suspicious but I've got to think he knows that something is up. He probably won't put the pieces together until an episode or two down the line. He asks Ed for some bacon. He somehow misses seeing the bits of Rye that are still intact. Ed seems very nervous.

This is another solid episode. There is so much going on. A good chunk of the thrill of a show like this is the voyage of discovery. It is about learning and watching characters in the show learn. There are definite parallels between this season and the previous one. I never liked Lester (Martin Freeman) in Season One. I don't feel quite so negatively about Ed and Peggy. They aren't inherently bad people but they are headed down a road that is making it harder and harder to see them as decent folks who have been backed into a corner.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Americans 1.04

In Control

On March 30, 1981 an American citizen attempts to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. The KGB and FBI are forced to scramble. The KGB's concern is Al Haig, the US Secretary of State and retired US Army general who goes on TV and claims to be in charge. The exact words he uses are, "in control." They think that a coup is in process. It may only be a matter of hours before the US launches nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union. Elizabeth and Philip are tasked with learning what is going on in the White House.

The FBI's concern is that John Hinckley, Jr., the would be assassin, might be working for the Soviet Union. Stan is told to meet with Nina Krilova, his contact inside the Russian embassy, and learn what he can. She is reluctant to meet with him. She has a hard time getting away from the embassy but she finally does. She is followed. Her boss is concerned about her loyalty. It isn't clear if the KGB agents tailing her see Krilova meet with Beeman or know what she is up to. She reassures Stan that the Russians had nothing to do with Hinckley or the assassination attempt.

Philip and Elizabeth get orders from Claudia, their handler, to prepare for Operation Kristopher. Elizabeth retrieves the equipment from a box buried in the woods. She has a flashback as she retrieves it to her youth, just after her father died. A man who was interested in her mother brought a similar looking box that was filled with food. The box Elizabeth digs up is filled with explosives and sniper rifles. She and Philip are to prepare to wreck some serious mayhem when they get the word from Moscow. They start to stake out targets. They are spotted by a security guard in the neighborhood where Secretary of Defense Caspar Weingburger lives. Elizabeth tries to talk him out of calling the local police department and when he insists that he has to she kills him.

Elizabeth and Philip argue over the orders they have been given so far. She insists that they have to follow orders. He has his doubts about what is really going on. He thinks he knows America better than she and doesn't believe that a coup has happened. He insists that they handle the situation his way even though some of the intelligence they have gathered seems to suggest that Haig is in charge. They visit their neighbors across the street and get some reassurance from Stan that the US is not about to start a war with the Soviet Union. The tension between loyalty to family and one another on the one hand and their loyalty to the Soviet Union on the other hand is the point on which this series seems to turn.

The episode winds down with Sandra Beeman confronting Stan about his lack of communication. Prior to them moving to the Washington DC area, they lived in St. Louis. Stan was working undercover for years. He now claims that something has changed with the implication being that it was his years away working undercover that changed him. Hopefully this scene is the beginning of a subplot that will help to make Stan seem a little more well-rounded.

Philip sends the message to Moscow that there is no coup and the Americans are not planning to attack Russia. He goes home to Elizabeth and lets her know it has been taken care of. They have withheld information from their superiors. They acknowledge the fact to one another and promise to never mention it to anyone.

Another very good episode. This is not perfect TV but I like it a lot. I enjoy seeing how the two teams (KGB, FBI) mirror one another in some ways and don't in others. The tension in the Elizabeth's and Philip's relationship continues to be the heart and soul of this series. I feel as though the show could be better or tighter but I'm not sure exactly where it is lacking. I'm very happy with the show so far.


I was in 5th grade when I heard that President Reagan had been shot. I was on the school bus. Someone on the bus had a radio and we listened to the news coverage as the bus drove us home. I lived in the DC area and the school bus usually would pass right by the hotel where the President was shot. The bus driver insisted on taking a different route that day. Everyone else on the bus wanted to go past the hotel but the driver wouldn't be swayed. In retrospect he was right. The traffic would have been crazy down there. The Cold War was a reality that I was aware of back then but I don't recall any concern over the possibility of war specifically as a result of the assassination attempt.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Community 2.05

Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples

Shirley wants Abed to make a Christian movie to stream on YouTube. He says no but then changes his mind. The movie he makes isn't what Shirley had in mind. Pierce starts hanging out with some other senior citizens on the Greendale campus.

I really started to get into this one once Abed got the bug. He took Shirley's idea and then ran with it in a different direction. He makes a very meta-movie in which everything that happens on set is okay. It doesn't matter if someone interrupts filming, like Shirley does at one point, because it is all part of the movie.

Not a perfect episode but I enjoyed this one. It only made me cringe a couple times.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Master of None 2.03


Dev's aunt, uncle, and cousin are visiting during Eid. Dev pretends to still be religious to please his parents. He pretends until he decides it is time to tell the truth and order a dish with pork in it.

This episode was a little too on the nose. It lacked in nuance. There really wasn't anything to the episode other than the issue of religion.

I'm not a vegan or vegetarian but I was a bit disturbed by the way that eating pork was presented in this episode. It was almost like a fetish. It also made me a bit sick seeing how much Dev and Navid ate at the barbecue.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail Nanjiani is a stand up comedian who lives in Chicago. One night he gets heckled by Emily Gardener, a woman in the audience. They start a casual relationship. Everything is going well until she finds out that his parents wouldn't approve of him dating a non-Pakistani woman. They break up. She gets sick and winds up in the hospital. She is put into a medically induced coma for her own safety. He calls her parents, whom he has never met before and who live in North Carolina.

At first her parents want him to leave as soon as they show up at the hospital. He insists on sticking around and eventually they start bonding. Kumail's parents (throughout the movie) try to set him up with Pakistani women. He doesn't know how to tell his parents that he has to live his life the way he wants to live it. Emily recovers and comes out of the coma. She is confused when Kumail comes to see her in the hospital. Her parents tell her about all he did for her but she still isn't ready to get back together with him.

Kumail plays himself it this movie but the part of Emily is played by Zoe Kazan. Emily's last name in the movie is changed from Gordon to Gardener. That seems weird. There must be a story there.

This is a mostly true story, some of the facts have been altered slightly. I heard the story before it was made into a movie, before I even knew that there was going to be a movie. I think it was it 2011 or 2012 that I first heard about it on the You Made it Weird podcast. I knew the chain of events but I didn't expect the movie to be as emotionally moving as it was. I experienced a mixture of laughter and tears as I watched The Big Sick, sometimes both as the same time. It is very effectively put together. All the performances were good to great.

I may be a bit biased. I like both main characters. I have heard them on on podcasts on numerous occasions, together and individually. I used to listen to their podcast (The Indoor Kids) when it was still on. It was about video games. I don't play video games but I still enjoyed their banter and listening to them interact with others.

This movie isn't perfect but I loved it. There's nothing quite like a movie that moves you it multiple ways. I will have to watch it again someday and see how it hits me then.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fargo 2.01

I most recently re-watched the movie Fargo a little over two years ago. I watched the first season of Fargo a couple months later in late 2015. I wasn't taking notes on what I was watching back then unless it was comic book related. I thought the first season was chillingly good. Every one in the cast was amazing. I was very impressed. In many ways it is better than the movie, which I also love, and at the same time it is reminiscent of the movie.

I recommend checking out Bald Move's Fargo podcast if you want some one else's opinion of the show. They have covered all three seasons of the show. I also recommend their Bald Movies podcast in which they discuss old and new movies.

Waiting for Dutch

The year is 1979. The month is February.

Rye Gerhardt, the youngest son of Minnesota crime lord Otto Gerhardt, is tired of getting pushed around by his two older brothers. He is trying to make something happen but needs to convince a judge to back off one of his business associates who has typewriter selling scheme. Supposedly it will bag them a lot of money if he can just get the judge to cooperate.

He follows her from the courthouse to a Waffle Hut in Luverne, MN. He tries talking some sense into her but she isn't willing to play ball. She tells him the story of Job, from the Old Testament. When he won't back off she sprays him in the eyes with insect repellent. He gets angry and shoots her. He also kills the only other people in the Waffle Hut, the cook and the waitress. He gets stabbed in the back by the judge before she dies.

The police get a call from a trucker who finds the bodies. Lou Solverson, a state policeman, is called to investigate. Lou Solverson also appeared in the first season where he was played by Keith Carradine. Something doesn't look right. There is one too many cars in the parking lot. He pieces together what he can and then hands the case over to a local policeman, Hank Larsson, his father-in-law. What neither man knows is that the killer was hit by a car.

Rye walked out of the Waffle Hut in pursuit of the waitress. She was not dead yet and was trying to get away. After he shot her he was distracted by some lights in the sky and got hit by a car. His head got embedded in the windshield of the car. Peggy Blumquist, the driver, panicked and drove off with him still on the hood of the car. She tried to hide it from her husband Ed. But he heard noise coming from the garage. Rye was still alive, despite getting stabbed in the back by the judge and then hit by a car. He pulled the knife out of his back before he went after the waitress and still has it when Ed finds him in the garage.

Rye tries to stab Ed who is a little too big and strong for Rye, especially considering his condition. Ed wrestles with Rye and then stabs and kills him with a trowel. Ed wants to go to the police but Peggy talks him out if it. She convinces him that she will be sent to prison and their chances for a normal life will be over if he does that. They dump the body in a large freezer in their house.

The final scene is of a meeting of a criminal organization in Fargo, ND. They want to take over the Gerhardt operation. They know that Otto had a stroke the day before.

The title of the episode seems to be a reference to the opening scene which is shot in black and white. It is from the set of a fictional movie starring Ronald Reagan. One of Reagan's nicknames was Dutch. In the scene the director and one of the actors are ready to shoot a scene but are stuck waiting around for Reagan to show up.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this episode. It got weirder than I thought it would on at least two occasions. I enjoyed it quite a bit and look forward to seeing how it develops from here. There really wasn't one central character in the first season. So far I'm don't think there is one here either. There are a number of players. Some will probably have bigger roles than others but I wouldn't be surprised if once again the story focuses as much on the bad guys as it does on the good ones.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Americans 1.03


Robert's body is found by the FBI, with some help from the operative within the Russian embassy who is now passing them information. They send out an alert and are able to match his picture to one from a Pennsylvania drivers license. Robert is the KGB operative who was killed in 1.01 (Pilot). The FBI sends a surveillance team to Philly and discover that he had a wife. This is where it really starts to get interesting.

The wife recently put an ad in a newspaper. It is a signal to Philip and Elizabeth which perplexes them because they know that Robert is dead. Elizabeth sends Gregory, a longtime associate of their's to Philadelphia to attempt contact with whomever left the message. He sees the FBI surveillance team and holds off on making contact.

There's another angle to this episode. Elizabeth and Philip are married, they have children together, they have been living together, they are a couple but up until the beginning of the series it has just been a job. In the first couple episodes there are hints that some sort of spark has been kindled between them.

That spark could develop into something warmer, hotter but there's something Elizabeth has been keeping from Philip: she's been seeing Gregory on the side for well over a decade. Gregory has been her confidant. Now she's having second thoughts about her relationship with Gregory and is starting to feel a bond with Philip that she never felt before. She tries to break it off with Gregory but it isn't that simple.

Gregory arranges for Joyce Ramirez, Robert's widow, and her baby to evade FBI surveillance. The are picked up and brought to a safe house. Robert told her very little other than what to do if he disappeared. She hands over a name and phone number which Robert gave to her to give to them. They try to decide what to do. Gregory doesn't make things any easier when he has a private chat with Philip and reveals his long term intimate relationship with Elizabeth.

FBI agents Beeman and Amador try to figure out what happened to Joyce Ramirez. They investigate the area where she disappeared. They puzzle over how the FBI team lost Ramirez. They spot some one following them around, one of Gregory's crew. They give chase but he eludes them.

Philip goes for a walk and catches wind of the fact that someone is tailing him. That someone turns out to be Claudia, General Zhukov's replacement. He tells her about Joyce and what she knows. Elizabeth and Philip end up bringing Joyce and the baby to Claudia who promises to relocate them to Cuba. Something didn't feel right about the hand off. Claudia was acting too sweet for a KGB handler. By the end of the episode my suspicions proved to be correct.

Philip calls and arranges a meeting with the person on the piece of paper that Joyce gave them. He brings money and in return gets what look like plans to machinery. Philip doesn't know what the plans are for but it seems logical that they are for Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) technology.

The episode ends with a tender moment between Philip and Elizabeth. She explains to him what Gregory has meant to her and that she tried to end it with him. She feels for Philip now what she felt for Gregory at the beginning of that relationship. She wants Philip now.

This show has yet to disappoint me. Not every moment works but I like the mix of character moments and plot developments. Damn good episode.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.21


Captain Archer and Ensign Mayweather are captured and thrown in a Tandaran detention facility. All the other detainees in the facility are Suliban. Archer and Mayweather are suspicious of the Suliban but soon learn that they are ordinary citizens and not members of the Suliban Cabal. Colonel Grat, commander of the detention facility, tries to get information out of Captain Archer. He is aware that Archer has had interactions with the Suliban in the past.

The detention facility is just one of many that hold Suliban citizens. Part of the inspiration for this episode is the internment camps in which Japanese-Americans (including George Takei) were forced to live during World War II. The concept of viewing citizens of foreign origin as potential threats still resonates today.

The Enterprise is contacted by Colonel Grat and informed of the situation. They are directed to head for Tandar Prime and given directions. They are not told where Archer and Mayweather are being held. They figure out where the transmission is coming from and trace it back to the planet where the detention facility is found. They beam down a communicator to Captain Archer and start to makes plans to get him out of there.

Colonel Grat finds out about the communicator and has his men rough up both Archer and Mayweather. Lieutenant Reed beams down, disguised as a Suliban, and well armed. Archer, Mayweather, Reed, and the Suliban prisoners overwhelm the guards and escape. The Suliban take off in spare ships that are conveniently found nearby.

Colonel Grat is played by Dean Stockwell, Scott Bakula's costar on Quantum Leap. He carries around a small device that resembles Ziggy, the device that his character on Quantum Leap carried around. I didn't detect any other nods to Quantum Leap.

I like the mysterious manner in which the episode opens. The story slowly unfolds. Grat tries to play like he is on the side of the good guys. I like how this episode opens up the possibilities. The Suliban have been the bad guys up to this point. Everything is a little more gray now that it is revealed that not all Suliban are part of the Cabal or fighting against it.

This episode is not perfect but it like it. I think I would have liked it more if it had been a little more nuanced. The Tandarans aren't very sympathetic. The Suliban (in this episode) are victims who learn to overcome oppression. The painting here was in broad brush strokes. By itself this isn't much of an episode but as a part of a bigger picture I think it works well enough.

Star Wars: Clone Wars 3.08

Evil Plans

Anakin sends C-3PO and R2-D2 on a mission to get Jogan fruit for Padme's party. The droids are abducted by Cad Bane who is looking for the plans for the Senate building. He is working for Jabba the Hut. Bane extracts the information he needs and then wipes the droids' memories of the encounter. Bane returns to see Jabba who starts planning another mission for the mercenary.

Once again I find myself underwhelmed by this show which has on occasion really excited me.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

NewsRadio 3.04


The sandwich machine in the lobby is replaced with Star Gate Defender, an arcade game. Dave has a past with Star Gate Defender. During high school he wasted lots of time playing it. He doesn't look back on those years fondly.

Bill is the only one who misses the sandwich machine.

Lisa is convinced that she is getting stupider. She talks Dave into taking the practice SAT with her.

Not excellent but fun enough for me to give this episode a thumbs up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Young Justice 1.21


A subset of the team is sent to the border region of Bialya and Qurac. The leader of Qurac has announced that he is going to abdicate and hand over control of the country to Queen Bee, the ruler of Bialya. Robin leads the mission and is accompanied by Miss Martian, Kid Flash, and Superboy. The team arrives in Qurac just in time to see Bialyan troops cross the border into Qurac. The young heroes rescue Sandra Stanyon, a veterinarian and former actress. She and her son almost get trampled by a pack of wildebeests. She bears a striking resemblance to Miss Martian, minus the green skin.

Miss Martian recognizes Ms. Stanyon because she modeled herself after her. She watched her TV show, Hello Megan! before she came to Earth. Miss Martian doesn't actually look like she has presented herself. That is just a form she has assumed. Her true form is revealed later in the episode when she battles Psimon. This is their second battle. The first occurred in 1.09 (Bereft) when the team woke up in Bialya and couldn't remember who they were or how they got there.

The guys (Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash) hang out with Garfield, Sandra's son, while Megan helps Ms. Stanyon repair the damage to her property. Gar immediately points out how strange it is that Miss Martian looks just like a younger version of her mother with green skin. He shows them a video of Hello Megan! which shocks them. The girl on the show looks just like Miss Martian and her boyfriend's name is Conner, just like Superboy.

They don't have much time to think about it when Bialyan troops attack. Garfield is injured. Miss Martian is able to give him a blood transfusion by mimicking type O negative blood. Garfield recovers. There doesn't seem to be any side effects to the transfusion. In the credits Garfield's last name is revealed Logan. Garfield Logan in the comic books is the secret identity of the green skinned Beast Boy (aka Changeling).

The heroes go to the capital of Qurac and rescue the leader who is being held prisoner. The villains have technology from Apokolips. Miss Martian battles Psimon who gets into her head, finds out what she really looks like and what her greatest fears are. Her teammates show up in the middle of the fight. She brain blasts them for fear that Psimon will show them what she really looks like. Later she tells them that it was Psimon that brain blasted them. Once her teammates have been knocked out Miss Martain defeats Psimon and with her teammates restores the situation in Qurac. Queen Bee shows up at the end of the episode and reveals that before Miss Martian brain blasted Psimon he shared Miss Martian's secrets. She uses that and an implied threat of violence against young Garfield to keep M'Gann from attacking her.

After the fighting is over the guys ask Miss Martian what she really looks like. I thought that was a rude question. If she wanted to share with them it's one thing but she shouldn't have been pressured by her teammates to reveal more about herself than she is comfortable sharing. She doesn't feel comfortable enough with them and just changes into a bald version of the form she currently holds.

This is one of those episodes that I recall being a major turning point. The big reveal is Miss Martian's real form. There have been little hints and clues dropped up to this point but this episode lays a lot of cards on the table. It is now clear that Miss Martian has a secret that she doesn't feel comfortable sharing with her teammates. It gives her something in common with Artemis who also has a secret: the real identity of her father and sister. This makes the show that much more interesting to me and it will have an impact on the rest of the season.

This isn't a perfect episode. I think it can be picked apart but I love the way it unfolds and the groundwork it lays for future developments.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Community 2.04

Basic Rocket Science

The study group accidentally gets locked in Greendale Community College's new space simulator. Dean Pelton wanted them to clean but they couldn't resist taking a look inside. Abed gets left behind as the space simulator gets towed. The others turn on themselves for a while until they realize that what they need to do is work together if they want to get the simulator back to campus.

Not bad, but also not so great. Dean Pelton had some of the best lines but there weren't that many of them. It felt like the episode rested a little too heavily on the shoulders of the simulator. There just wasn't enough in the way of meaningful character moments.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Master of None 2.02

Le Nozze

Arnold visits Dev in Italy. They go to a wedding. The bride is Arnold's ex-girlfriend. They were together for 11 years. Arnold loses his cool when he sees that the groom looks a lot like him. The episode ends with Dev returning to New York and getting a job as the host of cupcake battle TV show.

The bride was played by Ciara Renée who I last saw on the first season of Legends of Tomorrow playing Hawkwoman.

The title of the episode (according to IMDB) is a reference to an Italian movie, La Notte (1961).

Not a bad episode. There was some beautiful shots of towns and the countryside but the story itself didn't do a lot for me. The best moments were with Arnold when he was trying to work through his anger over his ex-girlfriend and her new boo.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Americans 1.02

The Clock

Philip and Elizabeth are tasked with getting a microphone planted in the home of US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger's home. They don't like it. They think it is too risky but they find a way to make it work: they blackmail the Weinbergers' cleaning lady into doing it for them by poisoning her son. They tell her they want her to steal a clock from Weinberger's study and bring it back to them. Philip places the transmitting device in the clock and gives it back to the cleaning lady. She is supposed to put it back in the Weinberger home the next day but she starts having second thoughts even though she knows that only they have the antidote to the poison coursing through her son's veins.

FBI agents Beeman and Amador catch a woman who works at the Russian embassy exchanging expensive caviar for stereo equipment. She has been shipping the stereo equipment back to Russia. It is all for personal gain. They convince her to start working for them, by threatening to tell her boss what she was up to.

Philip has a little problem on the side. He has been pumping a US government official's wife for information. She's tired of her husband and wants to run away with Philip. Nothing too dramatic happens in this episode but she has Philip worried that she might tell her husband or some else about him. This thread is left dangling but I'm sure it won't dangle for too long.

Elizabeth faces a bit of drama of her own with Paige, her 13-year-old daughter. She's having trouble connecting with Paige. It seems like she's afraid that she's losing Paige. Elizabeth also expresses a fear that if something happened to them (such as they were killed or captured) that she doubts that Paige would be able to handle whatever came next.

In the end everything seems to work out. The maid comes returns the clock to the Weinbergers' residence. Elizabeth administers the antidote. The FBI and the Attorney General of the United States are pleased to have a mole inside the Russian Embassy.

I wasn't sucked in by this episode from the opening scenes. It started a little slower than the previous episode. As it progressed the momentum built. The layering of the different story lines was handled quite well. Music was used very effectively to heighten tension at key moments. I like that both sides of the Jennings lives factored into the story. I liked that both Elizabeth and Philip have their own emotional hurdles to navigate. I like the quiet moments that they share. Overall I am very impressed with this series so far. I hope that the quality of the show remains high.

Star Trek: Enterprise 1.16

Shuttlepod One

Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Reed are on a mission in Shuttlepod One when their sensors and communications go down. They return to the spot where they left the Enterprise only to find nothing but debris from the Enterprise. They conclude that the Enterprise has been destroyed and start heading for the nearest starbase. They do not have enough energy to get there before the air in the shuttle runs out.

Commander Tucker insists on thinking positively about their chances of survival. Lieutenant Reed is much less optimistic about their odds of being found before they run out of oxygen. The two men soon start getting on one another's nerves. Lieutenant Reed has a dream that they are back on the the Enterprise. He comes very close to kissing T'Pol in the dream. The two men get very tipsy on a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. They turn down the heat to below freezing which they calculate will give them an additional 12 hours to breathe.

The Enterprise was not destroyed. They get back to the shuttle a couple hours before Tucker and Reed would have run out of air. The final scene is similar to Lieutenant Reed's dream with the exception that T'Pol shows no personal interest in Reed.

This episode is for the most part focused on Tucker and Reed. I believe this is the most screen time that Lieutenant Reed has received in any on the episodes I have watched this time around. There are a few scenes that take place on the Enterprise before the men are rescued but they are brief. There wasn't any suspense as to whether the men would get rescued on not. Obviously they would. The episode was about seeing what happened Reed and Tucker when the chips are down. This is not my favorite episode but I like it and consider it to be worthy of inclusion in a selective re-watch of this season.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Young Justice 1.20


It is Wally's birthday. There's a major snowstorm blanketing the United States. The team throws a surprise party for him. He's all excited about getting a kiss from M'Gann. She disappoints him by kissing him on the forehead. Artemis then points out to him how chummy M'Gann and Conner are and he is able to see what he didn't see before. It was just two episodes ago that Artemis had her hopes about Conner dashed when Zatanna pointed out the same thing to her.

The Justice League calls on the younger heroes to help out with a nationwide disaster. Five floating snow machines are dumping snow across the country. All the team members (including Zatanna) are teamed up with Leaguers, except Kid Flash. He is tasked with traveling cross-country to deliver a donor heart to a 10-year-old girl on the west coast.

Wally is fairly cocky and stops along the way to fight Vandal Savage. He doesn't have time to complete the fight and leaves once he realizes he is wasting precious time. He arrives at the hospital in Seattle, WA in time but then gets fooled into handing the donor heart over to a bad guy. He has to fight Count Vertigo in order to get it back.

All in all a very good, very Kid Flash focused episode. He isn't my favorite member of the team but he is ultimately shown to be more three dimensional than he often seems.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Haters Back Off 1.08

i'm famous

The family falls apart as Miranda's single-minded vision on her "career" keeps her from seeing what's going on around her. She tells off Uncle Jim after she gets sick of him not being able to make her a star. She agrees to go on a date with Patrick and then stands him up after she thinks Owen is going to propose to her. Emily moves out after giving Miranda a piece of her mind. Bethany misses Miranda's performance because she is too doped on the medicine her doctor prescribed for her ailing kidney.

The episode ends with Miranda's latest video going viral as she sits at home alone and cries.

I wasn't sure what to expect but this was a very different sort of episode than I thought it would be. It was a lot more heartfelt than previous episodes. The wheels come off and it's unclear where the show will go in the second season. I can appreciate what they did here but I'm not sure if or how to compare this episode to the rest of the first season. Overall a definite thumbs up.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Community 2.03

The Psychology of Letting Go

Jeff gets obsessed with his health after he learns he has high cholesterol despite his healthy diet. Pierce is convinced that his recently deceased mother will return from death, which creeps out the others, especially Troy. Britta and Annie get competitive about raising money for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Chang has to stay away from Professor Duncan due to a restraining order.

Patton Oswalt makes a guest appearance as a nurse at the the Greendale Health Clinic.

Not the best, not the worst. It had its moments but on the whole fell a bit short in my opinion.

Monday, January 1, 2018

NewsRadio 3.03

Massage Chair

Dave gets rid of free snacks in the break room. Bill leads a revolt over the issue which somehow leads to him buying a massage chair.

Joe tires to impress Catherine by fixing up her desk. His "improvements" to her desk get sillier and sillier.

There is a joke that makes reference to a piece of gum Beth finds in the office fridge. She says the gum had been there since August 1995. The episode originally aired in October 1996.

The comedic timing in this one is great. Bill gets a big part to play (for once) which really highlights Phil Hartman's comedic genius. Mr. James had some choice lines toward the end when he lets Dave get to play the hero when he "decides" to restore the snack to the break room..

This is my favorite episode of the season so far.

Becoming Bond (2017)

This is a movie about George Lazenby, who played the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The movie is narrated by Lazenby. It begins with his early life before he got the role of James Bond. He was born and raised in Australia. He wasn't much of a student and didn't graduate from high school. He got a job repairing cars but moved on to become a car salesman at the same car dealership. He fell in love with Belinda, a woman he met at an embassy party, and ended up following her to England, where he found work selling cars once again.

Before too long he found work as a male model. He and Belinda lived together for a time but eventually she left him after he cheated on her. George continued to work as a model until an older woman urged him to go out for the role of James Bond. He had never been in a movie before. He had to trick his way in to see the man casting the movie. Everything went well until the movie was finished shooting. The studio tried pressuring him into signing a long-term contract. He didn't like the look of things so he didn't.

Instead he grew a beard and let his hair grow long. He showed up on TV shows like Johnny Carson looking very different than he did in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He never made another Bond movie. He worked in real estate, got married, and did some acting. Becoming Bond ends with Lazenby explaining that he doesn't regret his choice to not sign the contract.

Lazenby's story is recreated visually as he relates it to the audience. There is very little footage of young Lazenby. Most of the story is told through recreations of stories that he relates.

My biggest problem with this movie is that it is entirely told from one perspective. The narrator is also the subject. Other people have written about Lazenby and have opinions of him (in particular in regards to his involvement in the James Bond movie) which can be found online. It would have been nice if some of that could have been found in this movie. I'm not sure what the exact definition of a documentary is but this doesn't feel like a documentary to me.

I like the way the story is broken up into chapters of varying lengths. All chapter titles are all riffs on the titles of James Bond movies or one-liners from the movies.

Chapter 1 You Only Live Once
Chapter 2 The Road to Pussy Galore
Chapter 3 Try Another Day
Chapter 4 For Her Eyes Only
Chapter 5 From Australia with Love
Chapter 6 The Guy Who Loved Me
Chapter 7 Single Oh Seven
Chapter 8 The Man with the Golden Tongue
Chapter 9 Unlicensed to Kill
Chapter 10 Tomorrow Sometimes Dies
Chapter 11 Shaken Not Deterred
Chapter 12 The World Is Never Enough
Chapter 13 Decisions Are Forever