Mar 192015

Time to consolidate reviews on the weekly superhero TV fare out there. 


FLASH Season 1 Episode 15 (CW)

By all accounts, a pretty dark instalment in the Flash’s story so far. Things go wrong for quite a few of the supporting characters : for Cisco as he discovers Dr. Well’s secret and for Joe as the new Weather Wizard seeks revenge, though the Barry-Iris relationship takes a new twist and in attempting to save Central City from destruction, the Flash goes literally faster than time. A critical point in the narrative.

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Mar 162015


Am beginning to despair at The Walking Dead. Group characters are dropping like flies in Season 5. A bit of an overkill, I would argue. Yes, I understand the dynamics of this dystopian future reality but it’s still ultimately a TV show. It’s almost dark for the sake of being dark. As more is revealed, we discover that Alexandria is not the paradise we imagined (as expected) and in sharp contrast to our group, the Alexandrians are not willing to sacrifice their lives for their fellow man.

With two episodes left till the end of the season, the series is building up to a climax that will most probably end in tears. Who will be left standing? I shudder to think.

Mar 142015


To be honest, after the intense drama over Olivia’s kidnapping, it was hard to imagine how the series could ramp up again after that high. But this episode hints at a whole new ball game, with the introduction of Susan Ross the new Vice-President and Huck’s wife reporting B613 to the Attorney-General, there’s a whiff of something dark and sinister on the horizon.

That all said, it was rather annoying to see Olivia sulking throughout the entire episode. Yes, I get that she suffered through an awful ordeal but you would think she would be used to all the nonsense by now. Or maybe not.

Mar 122015


Things are finally cooking in Agents of SHIELD! Asgardian Lady Sif returns chasing a Kree warrior (in disguise) and the latter explains Kree history regarding the Diviners, Terragenesis and (without saying the word) the Inhumans. Also, Skye is outed as an Inhuman and Coulson, May and team do their best to protect her but things are not peachy within the ranks. Mack and Bobbie are working against their team-mates and whilst it seems par for the course for a spy drama, it is an annoying plot device after all the HYDRA nonsense.

What is significant is that it is obvious that the Agents of SHIELD will feature strongly as a lead-in to the Inhumans movie – which is still years away though. It is great though that the MCU continues to be brought more into play – just resolve that Mack-Bobbie conspiracy ASAP!

Mar 122015


This episode was all about the secret origins of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and an emotional one at that. Ehramantraut was such a popular character on Breaking Bad, that it is so intriguing to finally get to see a bit of his backstory. Considering that we are still in prequel mode for Better Call Saul, this episode not only plants the seeds for the relationship between our titular character and Ehrmantraut, it offers us a glimpse into the latter’s soul that was previously unfathomable.

At the very end, when Ehrmantraut breaks down in front of his daughter-in-law over the fate of his son, it’s impossible not to feel the pain in his eyes and the helpless sense of regret. Quite possibly, the best in the series thus far.

Mar 112015


80s comic book creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller demonstrated that a dark and gritty take on superheroes was a highly viable artistic path. That this approach was also lucrative was proven by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight movie trilogy and to a lesser extent, The Man of Steel. And as much as Arrow has benefitted from this perspective as well, it is only now with Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil will we be seeing the first proper dark and gritty superhero TV series. All episodes drop on 10th April, so check out the 2nd trailer in the meantime.

Mar 102015


What’s going on? Why are our intrepid gang of survivors acting like the bad guys? How am I supposed to feel about Carol threatening a young child in order to conceal a secret? Are Rick and company totally unable to adapt to normal life and trust anyone now?

These questions and more will plague you as you try to understand the fundamental changes confronting our favourite characters on The Walking Dead. Despite the apparent peace and calm of Alexandria, Rick, Carol and Daryl are expecting the worst and are acting accordingly.

This will all end in tears. It is guaranteed.

Mar 082015


Got to hand it to the folks behind 12 Monkeys – not only have they managed to deepen the emotional resonance of the characters in the series but they have continued to used the time travel plot device to heighten the dramatic tension well throughout. In recent weeks, the series has given due focus to the ‘present day’ scenario of 2043 and in this episode we are introduced to Colonel Foster, the leader of Spearhead (a military colony where Jones and Whitley once lived) who stands in the way of the repair of the time machine and the recovery of Cole from the past.

Yes, Cole was not killed – though the reason why is probably worth the price of admission – as was suggested in the previous episode. There is superb misdirection in this respect as Dr. Raily attempts to find out whether Cole survived the airstrike or whether he was successful in altering the future. What do you think?

Mar 072015


Things come to a head in this episode as we move ever closer to the finale. The ambitious Amy makes her play against Michael – the result of which is discovered by Julia thirty years later! Amy also figures in negotiations with Sarah to secure the return of her immortal child (in one of the creepiest sequences thus far).

The Coast Guard returns to St. Germain with its officer-in-charge spouting cliches after cliche and the CDC team – now led by Alan – head out to get to the bottom of the pantagen, once and for all. Meanwhile, in the future, the plot gets more and more convoluted. Hopefully, the loose ends will tied up soon.

Mar 062015


After the stress and the pressure of Olivia’s kidnapping, Scandal is brought down to earth with a hard bump with an episode that reflects the recent controversies in Ferguson and New York regarding the killing of unarmed African-American men by the police. Yes, it’s a relatively simple and un-convoluted plot but highly effective. By the end, the viewer will be brought to tears by the emotion of the message. A very strong episode, that does not need too much elaboration.

Mar 042015


Much anticipated as it was, Season 3 of Netflix original series, House of Cards was a massive disappointment.

Having fought his way from Speaker to Vice-President to President, it was expected that our protagonist Frank Underwood would bring his own vicious brand of politics onto the biggest stage of all, with all the ensuing drama that implies. Instead, House of Cards 3 was somewhat hijacked by the writers to make Clare Underwood the protagonist and cast Frank Underwood as the villain in his own story. From the moment, she is appointed Ambassador to the UN (a preposterous wrong move that the series never quite recovers from), the writers rely too much on this crutch to generate the drama and conflict between the Underwoods.

All the usual obstacles to Frank’s ambitious machinations were nicely set up to create the appropriate tension and the guilty pleasures fans take in watching Frank succeed (by all means necessary) have always been the highlight of this series. But in the last three episodes, the series took an awful tangent with Clare totally acting out of character and somewhat upsetting all the expectations. To be honest, it was difficult to fathom Clare’s reasoning behind all her actions when compared to the character revealed in Season 1 & 2. Sure, Clare is fiercely independent and Machiavellian in her own right but what are the writers trying to say with her about-face? That women cannot be understood by men? That women are illogical and emotional and will act without just cause, if they did not feel right about something? All rather sexist, in my view.

And what about the whole Doug Stamper sub-plot? What the hell was that about? Again, a distraction and a confusing plot device that ultimately served no purpose. Worst thing about House of Cards 3 was that it ended with a whimper unlike the previous 2 seasons. After 13 episodes, one can only look back and conclude that the writers have run out of ideas and are stretching out the goodwill of the series for whatever it is worth.


Mar 032015


Truth be told, this episode – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” – was a letdown after the highs of the previous episode. Neatly divided into three parts, the opening act finds Jimmy MacGill realising that getting folks calling him might necessarily mean a good thing as his client prospects tend to be disappointing. However, with the second act – of Chuck getting arrested by police and winding up in the hospital – Jimmy gets the hare-brained scheme to mark out a niche in ‘elder law’ and extends his marketing to the old folks home.

And the show would have ended nicely enough there but that final act with Mike Ehrmantraut seemed awkwardly tacked on. That said, the situation Mike finds himself is tailor-made for Jimmy to come in and save the day.

Mar 022015


Our gang of survivors begin to settle in at Alexandria but our favourite characters are waiting for the pin to drop. Who can blame them, after all the trauma that they have been through in the last five seasons? Halfway through this transitional episode Carl tells Rick that he is worried they would get ‘soft’ if they stayed in Alexandria and by the end, Rick is confident that being ‘soft’ is no longer a part of who they are and rather ominously declares that if the inhabitants of Alexandria are not good enough, then they would take over.

There are signs of tensions even in this superficially placid surroundings but one feels that Rick and company are well suited to handle any challenges and ironically, they might prove to be the biggest threat to the well-being and security of Alexandria.  A great turn of events and change of pace that as usual keep the proceedings intriguing. Kudos!

Mar 012015


Even as I find the leading actors utterly unremarkable (it is obvious they were cast purely for their good looks), I am enjoying Syfy’s re-imagining of 12 Monkeys for its proper exploration of time travel implications. Sure, even that is not perfect but one can appreciate the genuine effort. This episode seems to superficially wrap up the series (it does not of course, in reality) but it was intriguing the manner in which we were led to believe it was. The mechanics of time travel for James Cole (it is all past for him) and Cassandra Raily (living in real time) is that their shared experience may not be linear and that is the beauty of the story-telling. With the various changes in time that Cole is effecting, surely the question must arise is whether there is one timeline or are we witnessing the splintering of various alternate timelines. One suspects that the latter is a tad too sophisticated for a TV audience, even for a scifi drama series but wouldn’t it be nice?

Mar 012015


The 2nd season of Helix has done very well in shifting focus on different characters and casting as protagonists and antagonists in equal measure depending on particular perspectives. Amongst Alan, Peter, Michael and Amy it was never clear who was the actual villain of the piece. But finally, the role has settled on Michael. Yes the placid, seemingly even-tempered cult leader is actually a 400 year old immortal, who has lost touch with his humanity decades ago and despite appearances to the contrary, appears to be aware of every single machination within his community. Enough to be constantly ahead of the game, so to speak. Rather masterful writing, I must say. Discovering the truth, the CDC team now have to thwart Michael as he executes his horrible endgame.

That all said, it is strange that Julia’s story seems to have fall out of the narrative almost completely. What happened in the 30 years later timeline? Will we get back to that? Too many questions in that respect. But definitely worth finding out!

Feb 282015


I grew up in the 60s and thus Star Trek was a massive influence on my love for science fiction and space opera. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Mr. Spock was instrumental in making Star Trek the iconic series it has become almost 50 years later. Nimoy passed away on 27th February at the age of 83. One of his final memorable roles was as Dr William Bell in Fringe, where even in his latter years, he was an imposing presence. He will never be forgotten.

Found this moving tribute at Youtube from The New York Times.

Live long and prosper, Mr Nimoy…

Feb 262015


King Henry VIII of England reigned from 1509 to 1547 and certainly is a monarch that has always captured the imagination of modern audiences with his six wives (two of whom were executed) and infamous duplicity. The most recent being The Tudors starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry. Wolf Hall casts Henry VIII in a supporting role (with Damian Lewis), choosing to focus on one of his right hand men, Thomas Cromwell (played by Mark Rylance).

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Feb 262015


Now, I will come right out and say that a lot of Oliver’s motivations on “Narda Parbat” make little sense. I mean, after everything that Malcolm Merlyn has done, why the hell would Oliver risk, not only his own life but that of Diggle’s, to save Merlyn? Kudos to John Barrowman for making Malcolm a deliciously despicable villain that nobody but nobody has any sympathy for. C’mon, at least Slade was utterly messed up in the head by the mirakuru in his system. So what’s Malcolm’s excuse?

Anyways, much of this episode feels like a re-tread of the one where Oliver voluntarily challenged Ra’s Al Ghul despite everybody (but Malcolm!) trying to dissuade him and for that reason it falls rather flat most of the way. It does seem that ever since the mid-season finale, Oliver has been guilty of incredibly stupid decision making! And… did anyone expect Oliver and Diggle to succeed, against the bloody League of Assassins? C’mon! That all said, I did not expect that final scene with Ra’s – alright, you got me there. Well done!

By the way, can someone tell me why Atom comes across as a second rate Iron Man? That is NOT the Atom, CW? WTF

Feb 252015


In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers speaks to an aged Peggy Carter and tells her “knowing you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stayed”.

When Agent Carter was first announced, perhaps many thought that the story of how Carter “helped found S.H.I.E.L.D.” would be told. Instead, what we got was how Carter was marginalised at the SSR but still ultimately played a major role in stopping Leviathan from executing a diabolical plot to kill thousands of innocent people and take revenge on Howard Stark.

This final episode of the mini-series does what one expects it to, and with much aplomb. Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper and James D’Arcy provide the star power as Carter, Stark and Jarvis as required, whereas Chad Michael Murray (Agent Thompson) and Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) are functionary at best. So while Agent Carter was a fun ride into the post-war MCU, hopefully subsequent mini-series will explore more seriously the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Carter’s role in the same.

Agent Carter has done well to make connections with MCU films (unlike say, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and has exploited well the strengths of having a shared universe. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

Feb 252015


By now, it’s plainly apparent that Better Call Saul as a series is going to be a proper examination of James M. McGill aka Saul Goodman. Vince Gilligan and company are in no hurry to rush through these opening episodes and instead letting the story of McGill play out naturally. It’s fascinating to see how McGill goes from struggling public defender and the perpetual loser to an opportunist seeing the possibilities in every situation. Sure, he is still a little awkward and a bit of a buffoon but this episode – “Hero” lays out the genesis of Saul Goodman for all to see. The straight and narrow seems to be a path rightly forsaken in exchange for success. For the audience, it is intriguing to witness McGill’s metamorphosis and to attempt to second guess each one of McGill’s moves as he manoeuvres himself into positions of favour.

Definitely in no hurry to go from this prequel sequence of events into the post-Breaking Bad continuity – hoping the series will stay with this timeline for awhile.

Feb 252015

Walking Dead 511 - 1

Possibly one of the best Walking Dead episodes in recent memory and it was achieved without having to kill a major character! All it did was examine the question of trust in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead. After having suffered at the hands of the Governor and the cannibals of Terminus, it’s easy to understand Rick’s reluctance to trust anybody. But what if someone comes along and tells Rick and group that there is a relative paradise waiting for them? Too good to be true? When does playing safe become dangerous? For Michonne, that time to trust a stranger like Aaron is now, and finally Rick has to decide whether he can do so and put his children potentially at risk.

It’s as simple as that but of course, it isn’t simple at all and the tension and drama flows from the audience asking the same question that Rick does – can we trust these people? Well, can we?

Feb 232015


Definitely the most intense season 2 episode thus far as Amy ramps up her plans to get away from Brother Michael and the island. One cannot blame her considering the outrageous revelations made concerning the relationship between Brother Michael and herself. The most unlikely villainess but kudos to the writers for making it so. The CDC team is not in good shape either as the mistrust bred amongst them threatens to destroy them, even as Alan Farragate plays his role as agent provocateur to perfection.

On Julia’s side, the writers chose to tell her story not from the ’30 years later’ perspective but a background tale on what happened after Julia joined the Ilaria Corporation. Disorientating to say the least. Not sure why the writers decided to make that jump as it does not seem to add anything to the ‘present day’ narrative whatsoever. Am just wondering how long it will take for Brother Michael and/or the CDC team to figure out that Amy is behind everything.

Feb 222015


Yes, I will admit it – I am getting a little jaded with the TV versions of James Cole and Cassandra Raily. They are just too picture perfect for their own good. Also, I am wondering whether this plot device of going back in time to recover the ‘original’ timeline is going to get tiring soon. I mean, it was fun when it was done in Back to the Future 2 as Marty McFly did his best to avoid himself in the past but considering that this is the 2nd time it’s happening in 12 Monkeys? Ho hum.

But as usual, 12 Monkeys introduced a new element in the plot that pique my interest. What was the whole ‘red forest’ acid trip that Raily went through? What was that about? Another mystery – who is the Witness? Will they reveal this mysteries soon or will they end up as unresolved plot lines like Lost? And how does one keep track of the alternate realities Cole is setting up? Wait and see or give up – what do YOU think?

Feb 212015


Yes, Scandal fans, if you haven’t seen the latest episode, I’ve just spoilt it if for you! But seriously, this was the solution to the ‘how do we get Olivia back?’ conundrum? Don’t really buy it! Sillier still if you consider that after all the brouhaha to demonstrate how much the enemies of America would want to get hold of Olivia, we are led to believe that a couple of new locks on her apartment door would keep her safe and secure? C’mon, these jokers were willing to pay a billion bucks!?! So, what’s to say some other bright spark would try the same trick? See where I’m going with this – how does the world go back to status quo after this?

Best part is that there was no hint of what the next storyline could even be remotely about after this. Which is rare for Scandal. I mean, how could they possibly top this? Over to you, Shonda…