Saturday, 31 October 2009

DEFYING GRAVITY 1.3 - "Threshold"


I tuned in for the third episode of Defying Gravity, but there was probably less of interest than the already disappointing first two episodes. For that reason, I won't be blogging about each episode every week. For me, the show has a largely sickly tone when it comes to the relationships between its characters, I hate the mawkish voice-overs by Ron Livingstone's character, the flashbacks to pre-mission training don't interest me, and there's not enough time spent making the present-day mission appear all that exciting....

Regarding the latter, I'm sure things will improve once they approach their planetary destination, and one commenter last week suggested the show starts to find a groove around episode 8 -- but that's a long time to wait. The only thing that's going to keep me watching awhile longer is the mystery of the secret cargo the Anthares ship is carrying (which seems tied to those phantom baby cries and one astronaut's Martian flashbacks.) Given Defying Gravity's problems elsewhere, I'm not confident the show will handle this sci-fi element with any great skill, so I'm primed for disappointment once the cloud of obscurity clears. But, who knows, maybe the show will surprise me in the end -- if I make it that far.


29 October 2009
BBC2/BBC HD, 9pm


written by: Sheri Elwood starring: Peter Howitt starring: Ron Livingston (Maddux Donner), Malik Yoba (Ted Shaw), Andrew Airlie (Mike Goss), Paula Garcés (Paula Morales), Florentine Lahme (Nadia Schilling), Karen LeBlanc (Eve Weller-Shaw), Ty Olsson (Rollie Crane), Zahf Paroo (Ajay Sharma), Eyal Podell (Dr. Evram Mintz), Maxim Roy (Claire Dereux), Dylan Taylor (Steve Wassenfelder), Peter Howitt (Trevor Williams), Christina Cox (Jen Crane) & Laura Harris (Zoe Barnes)

Friday, 30 October 2009

Box Office Charts: w/e 30 October 2009


Up Activity

In the US: The life-affirming news this week is that, on wide release, the low-budget Paranormal Activity leaps to #1 ahead of new release SAW VI thanks to excellent word-of-mouth, making $21m to Saw's $14m. This is the first time an entry in the Saw series has failed to make #1, and make less than $30m in its first week of release. The other two releases this week, superhero animation ASTRO BOY and kid's horror CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT, both flop with around $6m...

US TOP 10

(3) 1. Paranormal Activity $21.1m
(-) 2. Saw VI $14.1m
(1) 3. Where The Wild Things Are $14m
(2) 4. Law Abiding Citizen $12.4m
(4) 5. Couples Retreat $10.6m
(-) 6. Astro Boy $6.7m
(-) 7. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant $6.29m
(5) 8. The Stepfather $6.23m
(6) 9. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs $5.25m
(7) 10. Zombieland $4.21m

In the UK: SAW VI is also denied the #1 spot in the UK, as Up remains at the top of the box-office tree with a mighty £3.8m to Saw's $1.7m... Wes Anderson's quirky animation FANTASTIC MR. FOX breaks the £1m barrier to take #3, but a sharp drop-off is expected next week when word spreads that it's not aimed at kids particularly... and CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT also proves unpopular here, taking £798,000...

UK TOP 10

(1) 1. Up £3.8m
(-) 2. Saw VI £1.7m
(-) 3. Fantastic Mr. Fox £1.5m
(2) 4. Couples Retreat £932k
(-) 5. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant £798k
(3) 6. The Imaginarium Of Doctor Paranassus £616k
(4) 7. The Invention Of Lying £362k
(5) 8. Zombieland £323k
(6) 9. Fame £218k
(R) 10. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs £142k

UK RELEASES THIS WEEK


9

Animated sci-fi adventure. A group of living rag dolls have to survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland they find themselves in.
Director: Shane Acker Voices: Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau & Christopher Plummer
Tomatometer: 55% (Fresh; based on 127 reviews) "Although its story is perhaps too familiar and less complex than some might wish, 9 is visually spectacular, and director Shane Acker's attention to detail succeeds in drawing viewers into the film's universe."


DEAD MAN RUNNING

Crime drama. A loan shark gives an ex-con 24 hours in order to pay back the money he owes.
Director: Alex De Rakoff Starring: Danny Dyer, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Tamer Hassan & Brenda Blethyn


AN EDUCATION

Drama. A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
Director: Lone Scherfig Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike & Dominic Cooper
Tomatometer: 89% (Fresh; based on 84 reviews) "Though the latter part of the film may not appeal to all, An Education is a charming coming-of-age tale powered by the strength of relative newcomer Carey Mulligan's standout performance."



MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT

Documentary. A compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of the late Michael Jackson as he prepared for his series of sold-out shows in London.
Director: Kenny Ortega
Tomatometer: 80% (Fresh; based on 111 reviews) "While it may not be the definitive concert film (or the insightful backstage look) some will hope for, Michael Jackson's This Is It packs more than enough entertainment value to live up to its ambitious title."

Britney Spears: "3"



I thought a few people would be interested to see Britney Spears' new video for her latest single, "3". It's funny, recent Britney vids are less about the music and more a way for us to judge if she's on-form or "sane", following her public meltdowns and breakdowns...

Is the song good enough to rival "Hit Me Baby, One More Time", "Toxic" or even lesser hits like "Boys"? No -- but it does have an infuriatingly catchy chorus. Does Britney look her best? No -- at 27, she's hardly over-the-hill, but having two kids has taken its toll in that indefinable way. Is she performing well? Yes, sort of -- her recent tour has given her back some fitness, although she still doesn't really dance to the ability she did in, say, "I'm A Slave 4 You". She just wriggles around and strikes erotic poses while wearing outfits that make her look like a solo Pussycat Doll on valium. But there are signs of Ye Olde Britney's charisma sprinkled about, mainly in cheeky close-up half-smiles where you're reminded of her early-'00s sweet/sexy heyday. For all its flaws, this is still probably the best video she's done in awhile (I like how it speeds up towards the end), and the song's an earworm.

EASTBOUND & DOWN 1.5 - "Chapter Five"


[SPOILERS] What's this? Has Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) turned over a new leaf? It certainly seems that way, as this penultimate episode started with Kenny waking up Stevie (Steve Little) late one night to record an new audio-tape about his decision to put his celebrity past behind him...

Commendably, there's been a real sense of progression in Eastbound & Down regarding Kenny's character, even if this episode seemed to jump ahead a few too many steps. There hasn't been a smooth sense of Kenny curbing his egomaniacal attitude and bad habits, but at least ther's been a change in his character that hasn't softened him to a pulp. It would have been easy for the writers to repeat the pilot's joke and run it into the ground over six episodes (perhaps alienating a section of their audience by keeping Kenny so unlikeable), but they've actually shown a bit of growth and change.

The big sell here was seeing Kenny genuinely mend his ways: he took his P.E classes seriously, he started wearing glasses to make himself look studious, he broke up a fight in a library, he started helping brother Dustin (John Hawkes) with a building project for a rich lady (Gina Gershon), and he decided to stay clear of sweetheart April (Katy Mixon) and respect her relationship with Principal Cutler (Andrew Daly). Despite the fact the whole episode was tinged with the possibility that Kenny would eventually revert back to type, "Chapter Five" actually took things in a different direction.

Arrogant car salesman Ashley Schaeffer (Will Ferrell) made a return from episode 2, having now secured the services of Kenny's sporting nemesis Reg Mackworthy (Craig Robinson) to drum up business for his car lot. Always one to spot a moneymaking opportunity, Schaeffer tried to organize a "pitch-off" between the two former-titans of the Major League, and Kenny was again faced with the prospect of public humiliation because he can't throw. So, he retreated into his excuse of having put his baseball days behind him, until Dustin managed to talk him into taking Schaeffer up on his offer to wipe the smile off Mackworthy's face and get some revenge on the man he blames for ending his career.

The episode ended on a very effective note (with excellent, atmospheric music), with April deciding to abandon Cutler as he participated in his Triathlon and instead support Kenny at Schaeffer's pitch-off. The tension built very nicely as Kenny's first two throws missed their target by metres, but seeing April restored Kenny's prowess and he slung his final ball straight into Mackworthy's face, with a 101 m.p.h force that popped his eyeball out!

Overall, "Chapter Five" wasn't the funniest episode of the show, and its storyline was basically a fleshed-out remake of episode 2's, but I'd by lying if I claimed it wasn't entertaining and provided no development for its characters. The only person who never ceases to make me laugh is the cheerfully delided Stevie, whose idolisation and creepy affection for Kenny is mixed with hilarious vocal outbursts meant to defend his hero. I'm still not a huge fan of McBride himself, but he's definitely become more palatable as Kenny over these five weeks, and the fact his character actually seems to be learning and improving himself is something I didn't expect to see. If Eastbound & Down is destined to be a one-season wonder, then hopefully Kenny's reformation will be completed next week in fine style, or else the story might twist to send him back to square-one in some way.


29 October 2009
FX/FX HD, 10pm


written by: Jody Hill, Ben Best & Danny McBride directed by: Adam McKay starring: Danny McBride (Kenny Powers), Katy Mixon (April Buchanon), John Hawkes (Dustin Powers), Andrew Daly (Terrence Cutler), Ben Best (Clegg), Jennifer Irwin (Cassie Powers), Steve Little (Stevie Janowski), Sylvia Jefferies (Tracy), Ethan Alexander McGee (Dustin Jr.), Bo Mitchell (Wayne), Terry Bowden (Schaeffer Salesman), Will Ferrell (Ashley Schaeffer), Jan Hartsell (Librarian), Quentin Kerr (Kevin Hickman), Craig Robinson (Reg Mackworthy) & L. Warren Young (Drug Dealer)

Doctor Who: Waters Of Mars airdate



Speaking on GMTV this morning, David Tennant revealed that Doctor Who special "The Waters Of Mars" will air on Sunday 15 November @7pm on BBC1 -- so mark it in your diaries. Update @22:30: BBC America have confirmed they'll screen this special on 19 December @9pm.

Connect Four #2



The inaugural edition of this trial feature was too easy, so hopefully this one's a touch trickier. In fact, non-Brits may find it impossible (sorry about that). But, knowing my luck, my fellow countrymen are all on my wavelength, so I'm still half-expecting a correct answer straight off the bat...

The connected four this week are (left to right, above): Andrea Riseborough, Rory Kinnear, Bill Pullman and Colm Meaney. One thing links them all together, but what is it? Leave your guesses in the comments below, and I'll try and think up some clues if this stumps everyone...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

TRAILER PARK: Avatar (Trailer 2)




I think it's safe to say the first trailer for James Cameron's highly-anticipated "comeback" Avatar was greeted with widespread disappointment. Admittedly, those fortunate enough to see it on the big-screen (ideally in 3-D) were far more positive than the millions watching a downloaded version on their home computers, but the film certainly has to win back some support. Maybe now our expectations have been brought down to earth, we can better appreciate the new footage?

Anyway, here's Avatar's second trailer (clocking in at 3 1/2 minutes), and it's a huge improvement over the first; it's edited more traditionally, you get a proper sense of the story, it looks less cartoon-y, and there are real human characters to latch onto. And who can't get excited when the credits reminds you this is from the man behind Terminator, Aliens, True Lies and Titanic? Maybe Avatar's destined to be considered more a filmmaking benchmark than a pop-culture one (seriously, it's insane when you remind yourself most of what you're seeing's entirely digital/motion-capture), but I'm looking forward to visiting the alien planet of Pandora this December. In 3-D. It's already my must-see film for the Christmas period. Is it yours?

Being Human becomes American

Syfy have ordered a 13-episode US remake of BBC series Being Human -- the comedy-drama about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living together as housemates. Interestingly, Syfy were once approached about co-producing the UK original, which is currently filming its second series. Syfy intend to have their own version ready for broadcast in autumn 2010, and are now seeking writers to translate the show.

What do you think? Will the humour translate? Will the American version be very different, with the only similarity being the premise? Does Syfy's version stand a chance of being better, or at least more technically accomplished? Any suggestions for the American cast?

DOLLHOUSE 2.3 - "Belle Chose"


[SPOILERS] Quite a peculiar episode this week, but it found an interesting wrinkle within the show's elastic concept. We open with an acutely unnerving scene where man-child Terry Karrens (Joe Sikora) is playing with his own "dolls" (a posed tableau of an all-female family, using real women he's captured and immobilized with drugs.) When his "Aunt Sheila" (Danielle Langlois) regains mobility and stabs Terry in the foot with his hypodermic needle, she's viciously clubbed to death with a croquet mallet and Terry is forced outside to find a replacement -- only to get hit by a car as he crosses the street...

Turns out Terry's the nephew of Bradley Karrens (Michael Hogan), a bigwig of the Dollhouse's financiers, the Rossum Corporation. The comatose and badly injured Terry is brought to DeWitt's (Olivia Williams) attention and Topher (Fran Kranz) brain-dumps Terry's personality into Victor (Enver Gjokaj) so ex-FBI profiler Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) can interrogate him about the whereabouts of several missing women...

In the B-story, Echo (Eliza Dushku) is imprinted as bimbo college girl Kiki (yep, it's pigtails and knee-high socks time again), and sent back to school to fulfill a fantasy for Professor Gossen (Arye Gross), a lecturer teaching a class Geoffrey Chaucer, who gets a kick out of seducing Kiki (essentially a modern version of Chaucer's character Allison from "The Miller's Tale") during extra-curricular lessons at his house.

For about half the runtime, "Belle Chose" (Chaucer's term for a vagina) was a slightly frustrating episode in some ways. Terry's storyline was loosely engaging, but it felt a bit unfocused and testing -- mainly because we never understood the reason for Terry's psychosis (a terrible matriarchal upbringing, one assumes as an armchair shrink), so he quickly became a rote psychopath. It was also a disappointment to see Michael Hogan (the second Battlestar Galactica alumni to guest this season) totally wasted, and for the Dollhouse security to let his character escape with Victor/Terry so easily. Perhaps the biggest frustration was how Echo's engagement felt disconnected to anything and painfully flat, to begin with...

However, "Belle Chose" managed the difficult trick of fizzing into life shortly after the halfway point, by knotting Terry and Echo's stories together in an unexpected way. With Victor/Terry loose in Beverly Hills after he escaped his uncle's custody by crashing his car, Topher decided to neutralize the escaped serial-killer by performing a remote brain-wipe. Unfortunately, his efforts backfire and Victor's imprint is instead swapped with Echo's -- thus, the pigtailed co-ed became a callous killer, and Victor was transformed into a promiscuous party girl. Kudos to Enver Gjokaj, who was simply marvelous through this episode; plausible as a reticent psycho, then joyously credible as a dancing teenage girl.

Overall, the latter half of "Belle Chose" was a notable improvement and entertaining enough to scrub memories of its weak start. There were still the usual bugbears about the incompetence of the Dolhouse staff and glitchy technology (seriously, do they ever have successful engagements?), and the script sometimes clubbed you over the head with the similarities between Terry's psychotic need to play with adult "dolls" and the Dollhouse's stock in trade. Dushku was her usual self -- a convincing sexy bimbo, an unconvincing psycho (not helped by the fact she was required to imitate the superior performances of Sikora and Gjokaj.)

But, y'know, there was more good than bad here.


27 October 2009
The Sci-Fi Channel, 10pm


written by: Tim Minear directed by: David Solomon starring: Eliza Dushku (Echo), Harry Lennix (Boyd Langton), Fran Kranz (Topher Brink), Tahmoh Penikett (Paul Ballard), Enver Gjokaj (Victor), Olivia Williams (Adelle DeWitt), Liza Lapira (Ivy), Arye Gross (Professor Gossen), Michael Hogan (Bradley Karrens), Joe Sikora (Terry Karrens), Matt Winston (Franklin), Danielle Langlois (Aunt Sheila), Susan Ziegler (Mother), Deanna Douglas (Little Sister), Tara Holt (Big Sis), Ed Wordie (Male Handler), Keith Pillow (Doctor) & Andrew DiPalma (Frat Boy)

Chuck's third season grows

NBC have decided to increase their order of episodes for Chuck's third season, from 13 to 19. The fact the network has already cancelled Southland and medical drama Trauma's fate looks bleak*, has some believing NBC are planning to bring the spy-comedy back in January 2010 (a few months earlier than expected).

* Update 30/10/09: Bleak, indeed; NBC have now cancelled it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

TRAILER PARK: Misfits



Remember the news that E4 commissioned a superhero series called Misfits, that sounded like teen-Heroes? Well, click above for the surprisingly artistic and moody promo, that feels more like a slick phone advert than anything superhero-related to me. But, hey, I was expecting something a lot cheaper-looking than this, so let's just hope it's indicative of the show's actual aesthetic. Clearly the marketing people aren't going after the geeks with this super-chav series -- well, to begin with. It feels like it's intended to snare the interest of the Skins crowd for now. So, are you excited? Does the fact it's the brainchild of Howard Overman (a decent writer on Merlin) help?

Coming Soon: The First Men In The Moon

From the BBC press office, Mark Gatiss and Rory Kinnear will headline a BBC Four adaptation of H.G Wells' The First Men In The Moon. The show revolves around a young boy living in 1969 (on the eve of Apollo 11's moon landing), who is told a story by a 90-year-old man (Kinnear) about his own trip to the lunar surface 60 years ago inside a strange professor's (Gatiss) anti-gravity ship.

This will mark the third collaboration between Gatiss and Damon Thomas's Can Do Productions, following Antarctica drama The Worst Journey In The World and the excellent spookfest Crooked House.

Mark Gatiss:

"I'm completely delighted to have the chance to bring this wonderful, funny, charming and scary story to BBC Four. It's very rare to be able to adapt a genius like H.G Wells for the small screen and we hope to do full justice to his extraordinary vision."

CHUCK 2.21 - "Chuck Versus The Colonel"


[SPOILERS] If you're a fan of Chuck, I think it's nigh impossible not to adore this episode. The plot was wafer thin, but it came jam-packed with big developments, exciting action, and several crowd-pleasing moments. Originally airing at a time when Chuck's future was in doubt, it works extremely well as a series finale -- so much so that I'm worried the season finale next week won't be able to compete with the unadulterated joy that coursed through "Chuck Versus The Colonel"...

Continuing from last week, Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) have gone AWOL to rescue Chuck's father Steve (Scott Bakula) against CIA orders. Steve (a.k.a Intersect architect "Orion") is being held prisoner by Fulcrum sympathizer Ted Roark (Chevy Chase) in a desert base beneath a drive-in cinema, tasked with completing the Intersect 2 for enemy use. Elsewhere, Casey (Adam Baldwin) has been tasked with retrieving his rogue partner and "the asset" by General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy), with the promise of promotion to Colonel if he's successful -- but will his pathological adherence to command structure hold up against his feelings of loyalty to his friends?

At the Buy More, newly-promoted Emmett (Tony Hale) is twisting the knife in Morgan (Joshua Gomez), who unwittingly helped oust Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence), by offering him a position as his "Ass Man" (ahem, "assistant manager"). As Morgan faces alienation from his friends over his Judas-like actions, is there a way he can win back their approval? As Buy More stories go, this was pretty decent, mainly because it didn't steal much time from the A-story, and the climax worked emotionally -- with Morgan earning himself an ovation from his friends as he quit the Buy More, walking bare-chested to embrace his girlfriend Anna (Julia Ling) and deciding to make a dream come true by moving to Hawaii as a Benihana chef.

But the real delights were to be found in Chuck's story. In particular, there was a heart-swelling moment in a motel, where Chuck and Sarah were forced to sleep in the same bed together (not for the first time), but waking up the next morning it suddenly dawned on them that they can act on their repressed feelings for each other. Amusingly, Chuck's libido was deflated when he discovered an I.O.U signed by Morgan in place of his last condom. Still, considering the fact Chuck and Sarah are both aware their feelings for each other are sexual, and Beckman recently admitting it helps missions if Sarah's attracted to Chuck, it's difficult to see how the writers can keep the pair apart much longer. Will the show jump the shark if there's an openly loved-up spy duo next season?

The only slight deficiency of this episode was the Steve/Roark scenes, which were again rather slight and unbelievable. Why would Roark allow Steve technical access to the outside world, through which to contact Chuck and aide a rescue? Why would Roark trust Steve to create a working Intersect without testing it on someone first? And again, Chase's involvement in the episode didn't really amount to much, which is odd considering he's the biggest name in the credits. Still, it's always a pleasure watching Bakula on-screen, who has charisma to burn and is immensely likeable and believable as Chuck's dad.


Second of Strahotness: rockin' the blue dress

Another huge development for the series was seeing Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) grow suspicious about Casey's concern for the missing Chuck and break into his house, where he discovered all his spy paraphernalia. Later, when confronting Casey, Chuck and Sarah about his find, Awesome became the first person in Chuck's life to be told the truth ("You're a spy Chuck? Awesome!") This is a progression I've been waiting for, and it's a good idea to make Awesome the keeper of Chuck's secret, as his character is amongst the least relevant to most episodes. But now, he'll assumedly be able to cover for Chuck with Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) when needs be, and will likely end up participating in a few missions next season. Again, there are dangers in changing the format of the show this way, but this feels like a necessary evolution and will certainly stoke up new avenues to explore.

But perhaps the biggest alteration was the surprising removal of the Intersect from Chuck's brain, as his dad had actually been working on a way to erase the existing Intersect while in Roark's custody. With Fulcrum agents lined up in open-top cars to receive a mind-dump of information via a giant outside cinema screen, the imagery instead removed all the government secrets from Chuck's brain. With a CIA-sanctioned air strike destroying Roark's "Black Rock" base and Steve rescued and back in time to surprise Ellie on the eve of her wedding, the denouement felt rather conclusive in many ways: with the Intersect erased from Chuck's head, Intersect 2's cube in CIA possession, and Fulcrum apparently destroyed (they were a small operation, it seems!), their mission is over. So the show is over -- no?

Well, no. A third season is filming now, so the Intersect will undoubtedly end up residing in Chuck's brain again -- if not next week, then early next season. Considering the fact ".. Versus The Colonel" aired as a penultimate episode at a time when Chuck's future looked bleak, I'm puzzled about how well-suited to a grand finale this felt. Will next week's episode be akin to a long denouement, albeit one with the surviving Roark likely threatening the smooth-running of Ellie and Awesome's nuptials?

Overall, this episode was about as good as Chuck has been. It could have been funnier, the Buy More storyline could have been stronger, and Roark's masterplan could have been tighter, but it was oodles of fun and offered the audience a few leaps forward in terms of its mytharc and relationships. Perhaps the episode's lasting legacy is in effortlessly reminding us how brilliantly the core triumvirate work, as scenes with Chuck and Sarah kissing in bed, or Casey choosing to accompany Chuck to a social gathering (with no work excuse for doing so) were genuinely touching and rewarding moments. For me, the dynamic between Levi, Strahovski and Baldwin has always been the core reason I watch Chuck and put up with the juvenile Buy More larks.

A really excellent episode. Next week's finale has an uphill struggle on its hands trying to surpass "... The Colonel."


27 October 2009
Virgin1, 9pm


written by: Matthew Miller directed by: Peter Lauer starring: Zachary Levi (Chuck), Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah), Adam Baldwin (Casey), Joshua Gomez (Morgan), Scott Krinsky (Jeff), Vik Sahay (Lester), Bonita Friedericy (General Beckman), Tony Hale (Emmett), Ryan McPartlin (Awesome), Sarah Lancaster (Ellie), Mark Christopher Lawrence (Big Mike), Scott Bakula (Steve Bartowski), Julia Ling (Anna), Arnold Vosloo (Vincent), Chevy Chase (Ted Roark) & Ron Poniewaz (Truck Driver)

HEROES 4.7 - "Strange Attractors"


[SPOILERS] My thoughts about Heroes' "Strange Attractors" are analogous to those of previous episodes this year: a trio of competent, entertaining subplots, each with at least one relevant development to impart, and nothing more. Season 4 is definitely trying a slow-burn style we haven't seen on the show before, as there's nothing to get terribly upset about (unlike the slothfully messy season 2), but there's a pervasive sense of tedium at times. I want this season to roar into life, but someone's churning the gearbox.

Claire (Hayden Panettiere) is grappling with her sexual feelings for Gretchen (Madeline Zima), as I'm sure many fanboys are "grappling" with themselves over the pair's lesbian kiss in episode 5 (ahem). Here, as Claire and Gretchen are kidnapped by the sorority sisters and abandoned in a slaughterhouse as part of a creepy initiation test with two vacuous Valley girls. As Claire and Gretchen wander around the house of horrors, trying to interpret clues left behind to succeed at various challenges, they're both attacked by Becky -- the head sorority girl who's actually an invisible pest sent by carnival barker Samuel (Robert Knepper) to ensure Claire's isolation. Complications are sure to arise from the fact Claire manages to prevent Becky strangling Gretchen with a metal chain, but the invisible girl gets away after a brief fight witnessed by the co-ed airheads.

The most irrelevant storyline came courtesy of Mr. Bennet (Jack Coleman), whose plan to get teenage life/death-dealer Jeremy's (Mark L. Young) life back on-track hits a snag. Despite having convincingly made the death of Jeremy's parents look like monoxide poisoning, local cops are aware of Jeremy's reputation in the community and decide to keep him in for questioning. Bennet decides to summon Tracy (Ali Larter) down to Hicksville, to pose as Jeremy's "Aunt Tracy" after he (somehow) managed to forge credible ID to backup this lie. City slicker Tracy arrives and tries to convince the indomitably insular Jeremy to let them help him. Outside, Samuel appears to Tracy and transports her to his carnival, imploring her to release Jeremy into his charge. Even working girl Tracy is half-tempted to join the carnie, after hearing Samuel's alluring talk of safety and protection with his mindful family.

Finally, Matt (Greg Grunberg) is alarmed to discover that Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is growing more powerful in his mind and has found a way to control his body while he's unconscious, or asleep. After finally revealing his mental torment to wife Janice (Lisa Lackey) and telling her to leave town while he battles his psyche's squatter, Matt discovers that he can erase Sylar by getting drunk. It's an amusing, if on-the-nose symbol of Matt's alcoholism (he's literally drinking his inner demons away, geddit?), but it worked quite well. The twist, that Sylar has managed to gain full control of Matt's body while he was in a stupor (their situation reversed) was an inciting way to end things this episode.

Overall, "Strange Attractors" was impossible to hate, tough to love. A few moments prodded our understand of the season's story arc along (the spinning compass is just a means for "supers" to find the carnival, boringly), and there was enough to keep you interested to see what happens next. I'm still intrigued by Samuel, mainly because his objective to gather the characters together (to be acts in his travelling carnival?) doesn't appear to be that malevolent. He appears to be offering them genuine sanctuary from the difficulties of social integration as Übermensch. In the closing moments, it's even possible to cheer for him, as he uses his ability to bury a police department containing cops that killed poor Jeremy by dragging him through the streets tied to the back of a squad car.


26 October 2009
NBC, 9/8c


written by: Carlos Coto directed by: Tucker Gates starring: Jack Coleman (Mr. Bennet), Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman), Ali Larter (Tracy Strauss), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Randy Flagler (Deputy Gill), Robert Knepper (Samuel Sullivan), Lisa Lackey (Janice Parkman), Erin Allin O'Reilly (Fire Breather Mom), Kat Purgal (Allison), Mark L. Young (Jeremy) & Madeline Zima (Gretchen Berg)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

STRICTLY COME DANCING 7 – Week 6



I've given up watching Strictly Come Dancing live on Saturdays. It's on for too long, it moves too slowly, there are no particularly good or bad celebs to love or love-to-hate, and the lack of advert breaks is actually a bad thing in Strictly's case. I don't think I'll defect to X Factor, but I find you can watch the iPlayer replays of the dances (see below) and pretty much get your fix in 10 minutes flat. Anyway, we're approaching the halfway point of the show, so let's see what the dancing diva's were up to this week:

Natalie Cassidy & Vincent Simone


American Smooth: I appreciate she puts the effort in and really performs, but there wasn't much sex appeal about this. A long, boring, strawberry red dress and a stern face. Bland.

Zoe Lucker & James Jordan


American Smooth: She's good to watch, even in the ballgowns, because Zoe's clearly having a great time. Elegant and refined beauty.


Craig Kelly & Flavia Cacace


Samba: Finally, we have a long overdue breakthrough! Flavia was back to her sexy best in a sparkling blue dress that was basically two offcuts sewn together across her iconic abdomen. Lots of body shape, hair down, great fun.

Ricky Groves & Erin Boag


American Smooth: Custard yellow dresses aren't really my thing, but I guess Erin made it work with the open-back and ample bosom. Quite light and air, very pleasant.


Laila Rouass & Anton Du Beke


Samba: Laila's probably the best at looking great in dresses that actually hide a fair bit, and this pure white outfit was pretty groovy. The lady version of John Travolta's iconic suit?

Phil Tufnell & Katya Virshilas


Samba: Katya has that excitable schoolgirl vibe to her, don't you think? The sea green dress was hot – fluffy skirt, long blonde locks, slender legs, lots of those quick waist twists the ladies tend to do, and booty shaking. Sizzling and fun.

Jo Wood & Brendan Cole


Samba: As older women go, Jo probably raised some blood pressure in nursing homes across the country. You could see hints of the '60s sex-kitten here at times, I guess.


Ricky Whittle & Natalie Lowe


Samba: Awful colours threatened to make Natalie look like a trifle, but when you have legs this long and know how to move your body, I think all men go colour blind. Of all the new pro dancers, Nat's making the best impression – really fast, fun, enjoyable, sexy stuff.


Jade Johnson & Ian Waite


Samba: Wowzers! Jade certainly impresses this week with a silvery web-like dress that looked like it had been drizzled over her body by a giant spider. Lots of leg and plenty of gyration.

Ali Bastian & Brian Fortuna


American Smooth: I think Ali's a good match with Brian because both have a funny mannequin look to their features, don't you think? Anyway, Ali's dance was again very good, and she somehow even made a tangerine orange dress look quite hot.

Chris Hollins & Ola Jordan


American Smooth: As Brucie said, this was a rare week where Ola covered her body, but she still looked great in that silvery-pink ballgown that hugged her waist.


The Result


It came down to Jo & Brendan vs. Jade & Ian, and was there any doubt that Jo would be walking straight out the door? No, not really. A good result.

DEXTER 4.5 - "Dirty Harry"


[SPOILERS] This episode came within an inch of a four-star rating, but there was something about it that denied it that acclaim. Maybe it's my uncertainty over the surprise decision to kill Lundy (a great character arc denied for a quick shock?), or the fact this episode played out fairly predictably, when all's said and done. But it was still enjoyable, and there were a handful of moments that were series highlights, particularly coming from Jennifer Carpenter.

Lundy has been murdered and Debra badly wounded, but while the cops believe the Vacation Killer is to blame because the circumstances match his m.o, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) isn't convinced. Instead, he theorizes that Lundy was getting dangerously close to the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) and was duly murdered as a result, with Trinity pinning the blame on the city's other resident evil. This nicely split the narrative: the likes of Quinn (Desmond Harrington) and Angel (David Zayas) essentially chase the wrong felon, but still managed to cough up a worthwhile result after Angel feeds reporter Christine (Courtney Ford) false info to draw the Vacation Killer out; and Dexter feels a desire for revenge because Trinity's hurt someone close to him, so he begins parallel investigation in secret, using Lundy's cassette tapes to guide him...

There was some great work from Jennifer Carpenter this week, as she grieves the death of Lundy, blamed herself, pushed everyone close to her away (including dumping boyfriend Anton) and her raw emotions eventually lead to a fine moment at the scene of Lundy's murder, joined by her brother. Carpenter was genuinely heartrending as she confided in Dex that she thinks she's "broken" and to blame for all the bad things that befalls her family and friends. Her meltdown was even enough for Dexter to suggest he's the one who's broken, but his quiet admission didn't strike a chord in Deb (as her sibling appears to have the perfect family life) -- but the suggestion that Dex was about to unburden his guilt on her, by telling his sister the terrible truth of his existence to make her feel comparatively well-adjusted, was handled well. Both actors did a great job in this moving scene.

The highlight of "Dirty Harry" was seeing Dex piece together clues to predict where Trinity will next bludgeon a man to death. Once again, the episode was interspersed with creepy scenes of Trinity going about his daily life, preparing for his kill by questioning a hotel security guard about his routine and buying his choice murder weapon (a hammer) from a hardware store. Coming relatively early in the season, it was a surprise to see Dex get so close to capturing Trinity, as he arrived at the correct hotel and saw Trinity in the midst of a kill on the security cameras.

Indeed, Dex saw Trinity's actual face on a monitor and, while unable to prevent Trinity completing his three-kill ritual, he even managed to tail Lundy's killer through the city streets as he returned home from his misdemeanor. And, somewhat expectedly, Dex was amazed to discover that supposed loner Trinity actually lives in a quiet suburb with a beautiful wife and kids -- essentially making him a disturbing echo of himself, albeit an older version who's found a way to successfully camouflage his true self and move unnoticed through society for three decades.

Considering the fact we're not even halfway through the season and Dex already knows Trinity's identity and address, I'm going to assume he'll put his desire for revenge on hold and try to see what makes Trinity tick. As this season's focus is on seeing if Dexter can juggle family and his "dark passenger", I think it's very likely Dex will befriend Trinity in an effort to understand and learn from him... before exacting revenge for Lundy and Deb when he's served his purpose. In season 3, Dex became a mentor for the morally ambiguous Miguel Prado, but maybe this season it's Dexter's turn to become the protégé of a superior killer? But will someone like Trinity be open to the idea of passing on his wisdom to a kindred spirit, or is he far too cautious to risk the complication of an apprentice?

Overall, "Dirty Harry" was again very enjoyable and definitely above the irresolute standard of season 3. It still lacks the raw edge of season 1 and the compelling drive of season 2, but things are developing rather nicely and I'm glad the relatively bland subplots aren't overshadowing things. Angel and LaGuerta's (Lauren Vélez) romance was made public knowledge, prompting Captain Matthews to promote Angel out of homicide, and that's at least interesting fallout from their relationship. Rita (Julie Benz) also discovered that Dex has kept his bachelor pad (where he still keeps his knives, saws and blood slide trophies), and his lying now threatens their marriage.

Did this one meet with your approval?


25 October 2009
Showtime, 9/8c

written by: Tim Schlattmann directed by: Keith Gordon starring: Michael C. Hall (Dexter Morgan), Julie Benz (Rita Bennett), Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan), Desmond Harrington (Det. Joey Quinn), Lauren Vélez (Lt. Maria Laguerta), David Zayas (Sgt. Angel Batista), James Remar (Harry Morgan), Preston Bailey (Cody), Courtney Ford (Christine Hill), John Lithgow (Arthur Mitchell), Olivia Burnette (Pam), Julia Campbell (Sally Simmons), Ryan Christiansen (Officer Hanson), Brando Eaton (Jonah Mitchell), Asante Jones (Officer Reece), Jeff Leaf (Clerk) & Vanessa Marano (Rebecca Simmons)

FLASHFORWARD 1.5 - "Gimme Some Truth"

[SPOILERS] Bad title aside, this was a marked improvement for the beleaguered series. Pertinent questions were asked, new relationships were revealed, the investigation took a notable step forward, the melodrama was excised, and an imperative threat was unleashed. It still had some problems (like the fact Joseph Fiennes sleepwalks through his scenes), but "Gimme Some Truth" was a decent hour of TV...

The crux of the episode concerned a political hearing in the Senate about the government's response to the blackouts, chaired by Senator Joyce Clemente (Barbara Williams), a derisive skeptic who has a bad relationship with Agent Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance) and ridicules his office's "Mosaic Project" and wants block the multi-million dollar funding his team need to continue their investigation. It doesn't help that the expensive undertaking is based solely on the flashforward that Benford (Fiennes) experienced; full details of which he can't remember because he was inebriated at the time, although to admit as much would damage his credibility even further.

We also get to meet President Dave Segovia (Peter Coyote*), who has a close relationship with Wedeck because he aided his succession to the presidency by covering up an indiscretion with a woman called Renee Garrigos six years ago (paying her $125,000 and getting her out of town). Wedeck's efforts got Segovia into the Oval Office, to the chagrin of his competitor Senator Clemente, hence her animosity toward Wedeck. In a fun dramatic turn, Wedeck decides to play dirty to keep Mosaic up-and-running, so he tracks down Renee and blackmails the President with photographic evidence of their affair, and forces Segovia to push his financing through the Senate.

In supporting stories, the Mosaic investigation gets hold of 18-months worth of satellite footage over Somalia (supposedly the scene of a blackout test in 1991), and they notice the sudden construction of five bizarre towers in the desert. I wonder if those towers are still there? Hopefully a trip to Africa is in order. It seems likely these towers sent out some kind of "pulse" that causes blackouts, so were towers used in 2009's global blackout or has the technology progressed beyond their need?

The main character-based storyline focused on Agent Janis Hawk (Christine Woods), whom we learn is a closeted lesbian engaged in a healthy relationship with a woman called Maya (Navi Rawat). Suddenly, Janis' bewilderment that her flashforward showed her heavily pregnant getting an ultrasound makes more sense. Maya herself discovers the truth of her girlfriend's vision by searching the Mosaic online database, and the couple ponder what it could mean for their relationship. Do they decide on artificial insemination? Or does Janis have a drunken fling with the hunk at her martial arts class?

The whole episode was actually a flashback to 39 hours earlier, as the teaser showed Mark, Wedeck and Demetri (John Cho) being attacked in their car by a gang of Chinese assailants carrying sub-machine guns and RPGs. The story actually did a very good job of making you forget this attention-grabbing teaser, so by the time of its encore at the end of the episode, it still came as a surprise. It was just a shame the director (Prison Break's Bobby Roth) thought it necessary to totally undercut the drama by playing a karaoke tune over the top!

Still, I found it slyly amusing that the CIA earlier blamed the Chinese for the blackout (as they only suffered 0.5% fatalities, as most of their population were asleep), and while that seemed an utterly ridiculous, xenophobic theory... this episode later gave us Chinese assailants as the show's first boogiemen. Even stranger, they may have been sent to assassinate Wedeck on the orders of the President, no? But perhaps not, because some Chinese men also attack Janis in the street, leaving her shot and bleeding out on the road, as a novelty alarm clock gift from Maya painted circles in her blood. Would the President have ordered a hit on all of Wedeck's team? That doesn't seem likely to me, so I'm more inclined to believe someone within the government heard about Wedeck's funding success and sent in the heavies. Maybe Senator Clemente? It was also fun to hear that her flashforward showed her as President -- but was she lying to unsettle Wedeck, or is she a more dangerously ambitious character than we expect?

Overall, "Gimme Some Truth" was definitely the best episode of FlashForward yet, certainly in terms of giving us juicy drama that felt compelling and pushed the story along in a fresher way. Maybe there's a correlation with the fact the Benfords were somewhat along for the ride, with Courtney B. Vance and Christine Woods shouldering most of the narrative. The latter was especially good, making Janis far more plausible, interesting and likeable away from the office -- where she was just the cute, practical, power-suited FBI chick cliché. Oh yes, and a mystery texter reveals to Olivia that her husband was drunk in his flashforward -- and the only person who knew that was Wedeck, yes?

There could be hope for this series yet; I'm actually excited about the next episode. Did everyone else get a kick out of this?


26 October 2009
Five, 9pm


written by: Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin (story by Barbara Nance) directed by: Bobby Roth starring: Joseph Fiennes (Agent Mark Benford), John Cho (Agent Demetri Noh), Brian F. O'Byrne (Aaron Stark), Courtney B. Vance (Agent Stanford Wedeck), Sonya Walger (Dr. Olivia Benford), Christine Woods (Janis Hawk), Barry Shabaka Henley (Agent Vreede), Lee Thompson Young (Agent Al Gough), Omid Abtahi (Bureau Agent), Talia Balsam (Surgeon General Anita Ralston), Emerson Brooks (Connelly), Michael Cavanaugh (SETI Chairman Warren Moore), Peter Coyote (President Dave Segovia), Nilson De Macena (Tae Kwon Do Instructor), Scott Kelly Galbreath (Jim), Mieko Hillman (Renee Garrigos), Frank John Hughes (Press Secretary), Christopher Mack (Little Boy with Renee), Micole Mercurio (Maureen), Michael O'Neill (Director Keller), Navi Rawat (Maya), Mel Rodriguez (Oscar Obregon), Amy Rosoff (Marcie), Michael J. Silver (Randy), Glynn Turman(Senator Noland), Michelle Tuzee (Broadcaster) & Barbara Williams (Senator Clemente)

* Best known as the dad in E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial; the suburbs of which look suspiciously similar to those being used as the Benford's neighbourhood to me.

Monday, 26 October 2009

24: Season 8 Promo



"You're lucky I'm retired."

Damnit, 24. This show is like a carousel you can't help jumping back on, even after you've grown a little weary of the ride. I thought season 7 was a return to form that outstayed its welcome in the final quarter -- as most seasons of 24 do these days, purely because the show's no longer a spring chicken. Like many people, I finished watching and felt a slight burden lift from my shoulders. Don't get me wrong, I still love this show, but it sometimes becomes work to watch it through to the end, as only the first 12 episodes are generally on-point, and the back-half usually feels half-improvised.

But here's a minute-long promo for season 8, and I'm already feeling my stomach knot in exitement. Jack has a cute toddler grandaughter (so we've jumped forward in time a few years), Kim's back as a main player, Rene returns (yes!), Chloe's back (boo!), it takes place in New York City, the aesthetic's gone a shade darker from the bluey-whites of Washington D.C, and it looks like good fun as usual. What say you?

P.S: Fox's legal eagles are swooping and taking this promo off YouTube, so apologies if it's currently unavailable. I'll try and add new embed codes when I can.

DEFYING GRAVITY 1.1 & 1.2 - "Pilot" & "Natural Selection"


[SPOILERS] Space is a broad canvas that many different artists have painted on, offering us their individual perspectives -- from George Lucas' fairy tale fantasy of Star Wars, through Gene Roddenbery's human commentary of Star Trek, Ronald D. Moore's allegorical Battlestar Galactica, and Stanley Kubrick numinous sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey -- to name just four bright stars in the galaxy. There's certainly room for a human relationships drama with a celestial backdrop, but Defying Gravity ironically fails to get off the ground...

It's 2052 A.D. NASA are launching a six-year mission around the Solar System in a spaceship named Antares, to be manned by eight astronauts: Israeli doctor Evram Mintz (Eyal Podell); Canadian biologist Jen Crane (Christina Cox), German pilot Nadia Schilling (Florentine Lahme); chief engineer Maddux Donner (Ron Livington), who infamously left two colleagues to die on the surface of Mars during a previous mission; landing pilot and documentarian Paula Moales (Paula Garcés); theoretical physicist Steve Wassenfelder (Dylan Taylor); commander Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba); and pixie-like geologist Zoe Barnes (Laura Harris), the inexperienced astronaut who slept with Donner while she was a rookie.

Inspired by the excellent 2004 BBC docu-drama Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets, this multi-national production was pitched as "Grey's Anatomy in space" but it's unstable in its twin desire to be a space-faring adventure and a tight relationship drama. Many of the characters are romantically entangled with colleagues, or at least have a sexual history together that causes tension, but the constant flashbacks to reveal their backstories are mainly distracting.

It's difficult to get excited about the current mission, or feel anxious about its tribulations (a crazy doctor, someone blown out of an airlock), because the show always has one eye on tedious events that happened months ago. In fact, I'd argue that ditching the flashback structure and telling a linear story (training to mission) would have built more anticipation and interest. Space is the final frontier, but all sense of a frontiersman spirit in the face of the unknown is suffocated by Defying Gravity always looking in the rear-view.

There are a few things that keep you watching: the special effects are crisp, accomplished and largely convincing (save for the occasional obvious greenscreen shot), particularly in HD; and there are hints of a mystery relating to something called "Beta" stowed as cargo, together with the suggestion NASA have an ulterior motive for the whole mission. But on the opposite side of the scale are its dull relationships, often atrocious dialogue, and a non-linear structure that doesn't help its cause. There are also some unintentionally amusing moments of ridiculous drama, too -- like when Donner slugged a superior, jumped aboard a shuttle, blasted off into space, then talked through his windscreen to a crazy Indian doctor sat atop Antares' exterior hull! I guess hopping on shuttles is like hailing a taxi mid-century, and nobody aboard the orbiting Antares could have dealt with the problem?

Ironically, Defying Gravity feels too weightless to grip anyone but the most easily pleased. Any hint of a sharp edge has been smoothed over -- assumedly in a misguided attempt to appeal to a female demographic. The sadness being that most women watching are likely to be just as bored by Maddux/Zoe as the guys watching. And its few glints of intrigue (the phantom baby, Maddux's recurring dream of Zoe floating naked into space) aren't central enough to make me confident they aren't idle flourishes. Maybe it'll improve once the mission is significantly advanced, the fog of the "Beta" mystery dissipdates, and the flashbacks becomes infrequent (or actually have greater baring on people's decision-making, a la Lost), but I'm not convinced the quality of writing is strong enough to chart a worthwhile course through the stars.


21 October 2009
BBC2/BBC HD, 9pm


written by: James D. Parriott directed by: David Straiton (1.1) & Peter Howitt (1.2) starring: Ron Livingston (Maddux Donner), Malik Yoba (Ted Shaw), Andrew Airlie (Mike Goss), Paula Garcés (Paula Morales), Florentine Lahme (Nadia Schilling), Karen LeBlanc (Eve Weller-Shaw), Ty Olsson (Rollie Crane), Zahf Paroo (Ajay Sharma), Eyal Podell (Dr. Evram Mintz), Maxim Roy (Claire Dereux), Dylan Taylor (Steve Wassenfelder), Peter Howitt (Trevor Williams), Christina Cox (Jen Crane), Laura Harris (Zoe Barnes), Charles Haid (Maddux's Father), William C. Vaughan (Arnel Poe), Leanne Adachi (Suki Cho), Lara Gilchrist (Sharon), D. Neil Mark (Walker), Adrian Hough (CAPCOM) & Michael St. John Smith (ISO Man)

WHITE COLLAR 1.1 - "Pilot"


[SPOILERS] Arriving on the airwaves with little fanfare is USA Network's frothy White Collar, a crime series about a FBI agent and a master criminal who work together to crack "white collar" crimes. The everyman Fed is Peter Stokes (Tim DeKay), the guy who caught notorious conman Neil Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) and sent him to jail for four years. This pilot opens with Caffrey escaping his super-max cell a few months shy of his release date, and when Stokes realizes the humane reasons for Caffrey's prison break and is given a lead in a current case thanks to Caffrey's expertise, he arranges for Caffrey to be released into his custody as a consultant...

It's classic buddy cop stuff, with a twist, as both men may be opposite sides of the same coin but there's no 48 Hours-style animosity between the pair -- even thought one's esponsible for the other's incarceration. Instead, Stokes and Caffrey feel more like half-brothers whose lives drifted in opposite directions, and the only real antagonism is by-the-book Stokes' jealousy that Caffrey's self-assurance can blag him a $700 per month residence with a munificent millionairess and her sizzling 22-year-old granddaughter.

The "Pilot" did a brilliant job of laying out its premise and making you like the characters, while the storyline about an art thief known as "The Dutchman" was actually more sophisticated than you'd expect from a show with a knockabout tone. There were some fun moments and interesting twists to the case, and writer Jeff Eastin managed to weave in some clever touches while imparting some fun insider knowledge about the art of forgery.

But its greatest assets are its leads, with both actors playing to their strengths. Tim DeKay always makes for a likeable everyman (see: Carnivale), but he's also believable as a Federal agent of skill and moral decency. Matthew Bomer is also very good as the handsome, rebellious swindler, channeling the roguish charm he brought to his role as Bryce Larkin in a few episodes of Chuck. Most promisingly, there's a fun dynamic between the two actors and their partnership is undoubtedly the main reason to stick around for more.

Overall, there were only three minor concerns about this pilot for me: one, it felt too long at an hour (without adverts), and would have been much snappier as a traditional 43-minutes; two, lesbian FBI agent Diana Lancing (Marsha Thomason) didn't really click with me, so I'm pleased to hear Thomason's been replaced by The Middleman's Natalie Morales post-pilot; and three, for me it was obvious who would be the villain once I noticed Mark Sheppard's name in the credits!

White Collar doesn't really beg to be watched, but this was an enjoyable start and I really enjoyed watching DeKay and Bomer together. They reminded me of the Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio characters in a Catch Me If You Can sequel set in modern times. Bomer's character even chose to wear a Brat Pack-styled suit straight from the swinging '60s. And if any of that sounds appealing you should grab this show by its collar.


23 October 2009
USA Network, 10/9c

written by: Jeff Eastin directed by: Bronwen Hughes starring: Tim DeKay (Peter Stokes), Matthew Bomer (Neil Caffrey), Tiffani Thiessen (Elizabeth Burke), Marsha Thomason (Diana Lancing), James Biberi (Gaines), Anthony Bradford (FBI Rookie), Diahann Carroll (June), Alexandra Daddario (Kate), Tony Devon (Calabrese), Michael Gaston (Thompson), Billy Griffith (Prison Guard), Mike Houston (Customs Official), Derek Milman (FBI Technician), Christopher Moser (Customs Agent), Norman Outlaw (Prisoner), Kim Shaw (Juliana), Mark Sheppard (Curtis Hagen), Stephen Singer (Vincent), Antwon Temoney (Prisoner), Rob Tode (FBI Audio Tech #2), Denise Vasi (Cindy) & Mark Vincent (Spanish Guard)