GEEK OUT! THE WALKING DEAD – THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

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After the traumatic episodes on both sides of the mid-season break, this episode caught up with our merry band of survivors to find them struggling with a crisis of faith. Season 5 has seen more death, more disaster, more peril than ever before. Inevitably, the question must be broached – what’s the point of going on? Why not just give up? For Maggie, Sasha and Daryl, it seems as if their will to live has gone, even as Beth and Tyreese have gone. The pain is difficult to take and it does not help that the group is exhausted running out of food and water as they make the long trek to Washington D.C.

Quite like episode 9, there is a lyrical, poetic quality to “Them” as the group’s grapples with their biggest challenge – not walkers and not evildoers but themselves. After all, if you cannot convince yourself to keep living, then the battle is already over. This is encapsulated by Rick when he says – “… we are the walking dead” even as the group shelters from the storm. However, moments later when the will to survive is given the ultimate test, the group collectively brave the storm and live to fight another day. Kudos to the writers for giving us yet another deep episode without compromising on zombie kills.

One of the best series on TV now. But you knew that.

THE BOOB TUBE: SCANDAL – WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO?

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Despite its increasingly implausible plot lines – this episode involved a bidding war over Olivia Pope amongst rogue nations, terrorist groups and crime lords (!) – the folks behind Scandal managed to imbue a sense of pathos that would seem ridiculous when one consider the stakes these characters are up against. Olivia herself does not play much of a role but she does what she can to try to influence proceedings but fails miserably – which is a fairly new situation for her. Olivia’s loved ones try their level best to get her back, short of moving heaven and earth, though the odd murder or two are committed in the endeavour.

But that is exactly what Scandal fans are looking for – over the top scenarios in this epic-scoped soap opera. There are strong moments of human emotion that litter the apocalyptic landscape of Olivia’s pursuit as the key players attempt to stay a step ahead of the other. This is political drama, lest anyone forgets, and by the end of the episode Olivia’s predicament takes on global significance. The ride ain’t over yet.

THE BOOB TUBE: BETTER CALL SAUL – DEJA VU

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Remember that feeling you had when you watching one of the best TV series around? I am talking about Breaking Bad of course. Well, it’s hard not to get a sense of deja vu when watching Better Call Saul, a spin-off/prequel/sequel to that popular series. Well, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is still in the driving seat (together with Peter Gould) and it already looks like this series will be as memorable as Breaking Bad was. Excellent news!

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GEEK OUT! ARROW – THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND

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Getting more and more intense with each passing episode, Arrow season 3 is maintaining its status as the best dark superhero soap opera out there.

Secrets are revealed left, right and centre and the impact on the series remains to be seen. Laurel Lance is accepted in her new role as the Canary and Ra’s Al Ghul makes his play and the Queen siblings realize that they have to trust Malcolm Merlyn, for better or worse.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s flashback narrative brings us an unexpected twist.

GEEK OUT! AGENT CARTER – THE POINT OF NO RETURN

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Peggy is in big trouble and so is the SSR. The agents of Leviathan have the upper hand and SSR is not even aware of this. SSR wrongfully accuse Peggy of being a spy and most of the episode is spent demonstrating Peggy evades capture until the end where she is subdued in unique fashion, to say the least.

With only two episodes left, it will be intriguing to see how Peggy and the SSR get out of this mess.

GEEK OUT! THE FLASH – GOING NUCLEAR!

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The secret origin of Firestorm! It took some time but finally The Flash revealed to us how Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond merged to become the Nuclear Man. In the meantime, Joe West recruits Cisco Ramon to investigate further the death of Barry Allen’s mother, with Dr Harrison Wells being the prime suspect.

Well written overall, with emotional resonance but somehow Firestorm’s lack of a costume made him look terribly lame. But Cisco’s investigation turns out some shocking results and the cliff-hanger ending kept the interest high. And.. where is Grodd?

GEEK OUT! HELIX S02E04 – A HOLDING PATTERN

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Remember when I said the strong point about the second season of Helix was the two parallel storylines? (present and future) Well, that only holds true if the storylines keep things interesting. And while more information was given about the disease (something to do with bees), the future scenario was awfully cliched even if it contained a kickass fight between Hatake and Julia.

The whole plot with Hatake seemed irrelevant even if his re-appearance initially suggest exciting possibilities. No answers there whatsoever. The episode ends with a cliffhanger as two characters from both timelines lay dying in a pool of their own blood. Yeah yeah nobody’s going to die but at least there’s incentive to tune in to episode 5. Just about…

THE BOOB TUBE: SCANDAL S04E11 – DEEPER AND DEEPER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

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Last episode, we learned that Olivia Pope had been kidnapped. This episode, we find out the whole point of Olivia’s snatching – to blackmail President Fitz into declaring war on West Angola (as orchestrated by the Vice-President).

Quite a few twists along the way as Olivia, her Gladiators (Huck reveals his monstrous side) and even Mellie (the First Lady) do their best to ensure Olivia’s rescue. Disappointed perhaps that the storyline is still being dragged on beyond two episodes but at least it’s wickedly fun.

GEEK OUT! 12 MONKEYS S01E04 – TIME TRAVEL MONKEY BUSINESS

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A cute installment of 12 Monkeys. In the sense that whilst it dwelt primarily on a sci-fi trope (going back to time to change events), it utilized it as an intelligent plot device to reveal more of Cole’s character.

Focusing mainly on Cole’s present (i.e. 2043), flesh was put on Cole’s bare-boned characterization and the extent of Cole’s relationship with Ramse. Although it deviated from the primarily storyline that involved our present (i.e. 2015) – “Atari” was well worth the ride. A little convenient in parts but overall, a fun episode.

GEEK OUT! AGENT CARTER S01E05 – PEGGY TO THE FORE!

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Finally, Peggy Carter gets the respect and credit due to her in the SSR. “Iron Ceiling” finds Carter traveling into Eastern Europe to team up with The Howling Commandos (from Captain America: The First Avenger) and also introduces to us the Soviet program that made Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

Now, this is what you do with a TV series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! It’s a pity that there are only 3 episodes left as Agent Carter has proven itself more viable than Agents of SHIELD, thus far!

 

THE BOOB TUBE: THE BLACKLIST S02E10 – IT’S ALL A COCK TEASE!

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As predicted last time out, the suggestion that Agent Keen would be spilling the beans about her childhood trauma and the location of the Fulcrum was really a cock tease. It was very much back to the status quo after the events of this Luther Braxton two-parter. And is anyone else getting annoyed by the Illuminati characters that are lurking ubiquitously in the background? Although, to be fair, the ending was intriguing enough to keep things boiling nicely in The Blacklist till the end of the season.

GEEK OUT! ARROW S03E12 – THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…

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The ‘death of Arrow – Brick takeover’ saga comes to a conclusion. But the threat of retribution from Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassin towards Merlyn and Arrow remains very real. A myriad plotlines come together nicely but not without setting off more new ones.

Laurel settles into her role as Canary as the Arrow team plot to take down Brick. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen struggles to return to Starling City, after rising from the dead. There is some back-story for Merlyn to get through, which humanizes him just a little, so that perhaps the audience can accept somehow Arrow’s difficult choice at the end.

Good superhero TV!

GEEK OUT! THE FLASH S01E12 – DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

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Disappointingly, no development of the Reverse-Flash story line but instead we are pushed into the direction of Firestorm as Hartley Rathaway reveals the mystery of the disappearance of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein.

On the side, Barry Allen has some down time with Caitlin Snow, which provides the show’s lighter moments. At the centre of attention – Peekaboo, a teleporter whom Flash and the team have to overcome.

A typically good episode for The Flash, with different plot strands being examined in the coming weeks.

THE BOOB TUBE: THE BLACKLIST S02E09 – THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

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The mid-season premiere opens with Reddington being arrested by the CIA as The Who’s “Magic Bus” plays. But of course, nothing is as it seems as the show introduces us to Luther Braxton (Ron Perlman), a high stakes thief incarcerated at a CIA black site – whom Reddington is trying to get to (by getting arrested).

All par for the course for The Blacklist but this time, the plot gets into the whole mystery of Reddington’s connection with Elizabeth Keen. Finally! Of begins to as we can expect that the rest of this season will devote time and effort to revealing the deep secrets that underpin the series. Or be a massive cock tease. We shall see!

 

GEEK OUT! HELIX S02E03 – PARALLEL NARRATIVE IS THE KEY

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Despite changing its setting completely and introducing a flashforward narrative to its plot, Helix has been slowly introducing familiar characters from the first season to the current one. This time (in “Scion”), it’s Dr. Hatake (above) – a key player first time round, to make Julia’s job of saving the Immortals that much more complicated.

Alan gets more involved in the present and the CDC team is discovering that there is more to the cult than meets the eye (duh!). There are double twists at the end – one we probably saw coming and the other that will keep us guessing till the next episode.

GEEK OUT! 12 MONKEYS S01E03 – CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

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Quite a few plot developments in the latest 12 Monkeys episodes that suggests that things will get complicated in the weeks to come. This time round, Cole has to go back to 2014 to question a co-worker of Railey’s in Haiti about the location of the nightroom, before the Army of the 12 Monkeys get to him.

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GEEK OUT! ARROW S03E11 – BEST DARK SUPERHERO SOAP EVER

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When CW’s Arrow debuted, it opted to follow the Christopher Nolan interpretation of the superhero. Functional costumes, real world scenarios and realistic heroes. Another leaf that was taken from the Nolan book was the parallel narratives that were set in different times and places.

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THE BOOB TUBE: SCANDAL S04E10 – FROM LUDICROUS TO PLAIN SILLY

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Scandal may be ludicrous for 90% of the time but at least it’s good fun ludicrous. “Run” – the first episode of the new year has Olivia Pope kidnapped from her home and imprisoned in a Muslim country (probably the Middle East?). Shades of Homeland perhaps?

But, it doesn’t take too long to figure out that things aren’t quite as they seem. The big reveal (it’s a twist in the tail) at the end was utterly predictable and that’s why it was ultimately boring. And the reason for all the nonsense on this episode was plain dumb.

So this is where we’re going with Scandal for the remainder of Season 4? Disappointing.

GEEK OUT! HELIX GETS LOST IN ITS SECOND SEASON AND MAYBE THAT’S A GOOD THING

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Syfy series Helix is back and while it retains much of the key features of season one (i.e. deadly pathogen, CDC involvement, death, gore, immortality and conspiracies), season two differs significantly in having two separate storylines (one in the present, and one in the future). Yes, the LOST flashforward is back!

Curiously, there are a few parallels with LOST – besides the flashforwards, the CDC team is trapped on an island, there is a cult group headed by an enigmatic leader and secrets kept within secrets. Two episodes, there is much to recommend the show with — after one absorbs the disorientating changes from the season one finale.

GEEK OUT! ARROW S03E10 “LEFT BEHIND”

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After the apparent death of Oliver Queen at the end of the mid-season finale, how do the Arrow team carry on without their intrepid leader? Not very well by all accounts, as they get their asses whupped by Vinnie (“I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”) Jones’ silly Brick character. Which is just as well that Olly returns from the dead at the end of this episode. Spoiler? What spoiler? You expected CW to kill off its lead character? Seriously??

But at least, the Arrow’s absence pushes Laurel Lance to put on Black Canary togs and kick arse – so it’s win – win for everyone, eh? All good fun and at least they didn’t milk Olly’s death for too much cheap emotional shots. Although… it’s always cool to see Felicity all vulnerable and so on. Normal service to be resumed? We shall wait and see…

 

GEEK OUT! THE FLASH S01E10 – BLOWIN’ HOT & COLD!

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The Flash is back and he’s bringing a couple of rogues along with him! Captain Cold and Heat Wave team up to confront the Scarlet Speedster!

Sorry for all the excitement but how cool was it to bring back the stars of Prison Break (remember when?) Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell (above) to play the cold and hot villains respectively?!?

Once again, The Flash proves that you can have good fun with superhero TV, without being silly, while still being true to the tone of the source material.

As the ending suggested, we will definitely see more of Captain Cold & Heat Wave (their personalities fit as well!) in the coming episodes – awesome casting and great writing! Bring on the Trickster….

GEEK OUT! THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE IS HIGH CONCEPT SCIFI TV AT ITS BEST

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Directed by David Semel.
Starring Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank.

Now, this was unexpected. A TV adaptation of Philip K Dick’s classic scifi novel of the same name, The Man in the High Castle has been produced (by Ridley Scott!) with its pilot just been released (FREE) and is definitely worth watching!

For those unfamiliar with the novel, in The Man in the High Castle, Dick imagines an alternative reality where the Axis powers won WWII and split the USA between them viz. Japanese Pacific States (West Coast) and Greater Nazi Reich (East Coast). The plot revolves around the daily life of the inhabitants of this reality in 1962.

Overall, the pilot is rather slow paced but it builds the world imagined by Dick brilliantly. One is kept guessing throughout this episode but it lays down sufficient groundwork to keep interest high. Especially with the twist at the very end, I can’t wait to watch the rest of this ambitious series.

12 MONKEYS TV SERIES FLATTENS ALL THE CURVES THAT MADE THE MOVIE UNIQUE BUT PROMISES TO BE A INTRIGUING SYFY JOURNEY

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Created by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett.
Starring Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo and Noah Bean.

Regular PoP visitors should be aware that 12 Monkeys is probably my favorite movie of all time. See why here. So you can imagine my trepidation when I discovered that SyFy had done a TV series based on the Terry Gilliam-helmed classic.

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