On the D/L

May 3, 2014 | Posted by in TV

Family Guy Season 12 Episode 18 – “Baby Got Black”

What is going on here? This seems to be getting better and better. This episode was by far the funniest of the season to this point.

The main story here is that Jerome doesn’t like the fact that Chris starts seeing his daughter Pam because he’s white and Jerome doesn’t want his daughter going out with a white guy. It’s a clever inverse on what I’ve seen before with forbidden love coming from the white parent not wanting their child going out with someone of a different race.

Naturally the episode tackles it in true Family Guy style where Peter says a lot of things that are racially insensitive without realising it and exacerbating the situation. One thing that impressed me was that the episode managed to make a pretty solid point about racism that actually made sense. I know, Family Guy actually made a cohesive point for the first time in years.

As far as jokes go, they were spot on. Many laughs came from Peter, Quagmire and Joe’s challenge to see who could stay awake the longest and I got a kick out of the childlike racial insensitivity from Peter. I also felt that they made fun of the overlong songs that have permeated the show in recent years.

Overall, a laugh riot from start to finish that actually told a good story for once. Truly great form from a show that has definitely rediscovered the magic it once had. I only hope that they can keep up this momentum in the coming infinite seasons.

Friends With Better Lives – Season 1 Episode 4 – “Pros and Cons”

It was an improvement over last week but that’s not really saying too much, it probably did enough for me to drop it quite yet but the show has been warned, that day draws near…maybe.

The story this week is that Kate has unwittingly slept with -and somehow paid- a male prostitute which seems to breach some kind of moral code for her and causes her to feel ashamed and want her money back. Despite the unlikeability of Kate this plot does manage to amuse at points, maybe I just like to see embarrassing things happen to such an insufferable character.

Predictably the genuine laughs come from James Van Der Beek’s Will who spends the episode obsessing over a jacket that Lowell has borrowed and not returned, it serves as something of a microcosm of his divorce where he lost a lot to his ex wife. There’s also another subplot about a rat in Bobby and Andi’s house as well as Jules potentially being in an advert, I have nothing to say about either of them other than we finally see Bobby and Andi’s child when we’re 4 episodes in, I felt that was worth noting.

Overall, I wouldn’t say it was good but it was a lot better than last week. I found myself laughing more than once so that’s a little bit promising. I will tune back in next week.

The Tomorrow People – Season 1 Episode 22 – “Kill Switch”

Only one episode to go after this one and it’s shaping up to be an exciting finale. There’s a lot going on here without it all feeling overstuffed with content.

It turns out that the tracers implanted into members of The Tomorrow People’s body give Bathory the ability to kill them whenever he wants and he chooses to do so once an hour until he runs out victims unless they turn Roger in. Natalie is the biggest detractor to keeping Roger safe and wants to turn him in to save the group, she’s so adamant that she convinces Russell to join her cause by way of manipulation. I can see where they are coming from as there’s a way they can stop their people dying but at the same time what makes anyone think they can trust Bathory to hold up his end of the bargain? Bathory has no reason to cooperate since he has pretty much all of the leverage. All the same it was interesting to see the internal conflict reach a head in this episode, it’s been bubbling for a while so it was bound to happen sooner or later. It was good that Russell wasn’t quite a willing participant, his face clearly full of regret when he betrayed Roger, it’s very in character for him after a few episodes of him acting a little out of character.

There are quite a few subplots here as well such as Marla learning self defence from Roger which I thought was good, the two actors have great chemistry and seem like a real married couple. Not much else to say about it other than it was a nice little character moment. Speaking of character moments, there was a particularly effective scene where Stephen was remembering a tender moment he had with Hillary, she will be sorely missed in this show, by me at least.

Jed is further going nuts in this episode, going to a government official to try and rat out Ultra to have them shut down which goes about as well as you might expect. It’s worth noting that the government official is played by the magnificent Michael Hogan -Colonel Tigh in Battlestar Galactica– who spends his one scene being incredulous, nobody does incredulous quite like Michael Hogan, it was a personal highlight for me. As is common when someone seems to be a raving madman they are committed which means that Marla has to bust Jed out as he is their best chance of finding a cure for the tracer. He and Irene spend the bulk of the episode investigating that and come to an interesting conclusion that I won’t spoil.

John may be depowered but he is far from useless here, he more than holds his own but decides that he’s a liability due to the fact that Cara is protecting him so he leaves. He talks to Astrid and goes back though, Astrid again serving as the voice of reason and their romance plot is furthered. I think that they make sense as a couple since Astrid has proven that mentally she’s more than a match for John, I really liked that she forced him to stop feeling sorry for herself by using the example of her saving his life even though she is only human. Astrid is just someone that people want to listen to because what she says makes a lot of sense most of the time. That particular character is well utilised I think.

Cara and Stephen decide to go and be all gung ho with a plan to shut down the transmitter that allows Bathory to kill them, you’d think that the concrete they all hide under would block the signal enough but hey, this is science fiction so I’ll let it slide. The action is great and Cara is used well here, I like that she shows yet more emotion and admits that she’s scared and questioning every decision she’s ever made.

As for the ending, it was excellent and has me in great anticipation for next week’s season (series?) finale. I won’t spoil what happened but it was nicely downbeat with shades of hope, hopefully they can make good use of what is set up here and deliver something really exciting.

Overall, loved this episode. The characters were all used well, the story was tight and well paced and the events all tied together nicely. There is a lot to resolve next week but I’m confident that these writers are up to the task. Also, please let it have a second season. It hasn’t been confirmed whether or not they’re cancelling it after this one so there is still hope.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Season 1 Episode 20 – “Nothing Personal”

This show continues to run strong, I always wanted to live in a world where I looked forward to this show and now it seems that I do, happy days.

Most of the plot serves as a continuation of the war on HYDRA that started a few episodes back. Ward has effectively kidnapped Skye -he doesn’t know that she knows that he’s doing that to begin with- and taken her in the bus to decrypt the hard drive containing said bus’ sensitive data that they’ve gathered over the season. Ward is straight up threatening in the scenes where he’s pretending not to be evil. He doesn’t ham up his villainy as some might expect, quite the opposite in fact. He seems like the same old Ward but the audience knowledge that he isn’t is what makes him more threatening, I was always expecting him to turn on Skye at any moment which really ramped up the tension.

Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill makes a welcome return in this episode, she’s a great actress and Maria’s a great character who hasn’t been seen on this show since the pilot. This episode gives her a more substantial role which has her teaming up with Coulson and helping him to get Skye back. Coulson and Hill play off each other excellently and clearly show their mistrust for one another as well as their mutual respect. Hill is also very badass shown by her stalemate with Ward where she proves without a shadow of a doubt why Fury picked her to be his right hand woman. We also get the return of Adrian Pasdar’s Glenn Talbot who seems to be a pretty accurate version of the character, his glued on moustache is a little distracting though.

Seeing Deathlok again was also great and the episode manages to remind us that the guy used to be human, I was really impressed by the moment of realisation where it occurred to Ward that he is as much of a drone following orders as Deathlok is. I wonder if he’s reconsidering his position as HYDRA clearly finds him utterly expendable whereas Coulson never did but I definitely feel that it’s too late for Ward’s redemption so they best they could probably do for him is some kind of heroic sacrifice.

I love how this episode continues with the theme of Coulson being a man who is fracturing, Fitz and Simmons are seen to have noticed it too and Maria Hill’s harsh realities talk clearly doesn’t help matters. He is still doing all he can to hold it together and keep the organisation that he believes in alive but there must be a point coming where he realises that this isn’t possible and more and it’ll be interesting to see where that takes him. What May finds in the episode is something that’ll only make that moment come sooner.

In summary, this episode was great. Each character is given good moments and there’s little to no Fitz!Simmons related annoyances going on -save for some infuriating pancake talk-. The story is tight and doesn’t feel bogged down by the ample guest cast. A strong effort all round.

Supernatural – Season 9 Episode 20 – “Bloodlines”

Backdoor pilots always annoy me because they often don’t show any respect to the show that is serving as the springboard for this other part of the world established.

This episode is no exception to that rule, Sam and Dean are rarely in this and when they do appear their presence is mostly passive. Nothing is done to further their story and they aren’t given any distinctive moments.

Turns out Chicago is effectively a Supernatural creature warzone with different creatures in control of different parts of the city, the corruption runs deep which offers the explanation for nobody ever being aware of this. The episode serves as something of an origin story for a man named Ennis who is brought into this world after the death of his almost fiancé which causes him to have a head full of vengeance against all of these creatures. His origin is incredibly trite, matching the beginnings of pretty much every hunter we’ve seen and that includes Sam and Dean, there’s even the cryptic phone call from his father.

We are also given an obvious Romeo and Juliet comparison with Violet and Julian which is just not something I’m in the mood for. I understand that the hope is for this to be a CW show and therefore we get pretty people in starcrossed lovers scenarios but I’m just a little burned out on all that crap after seeing it almost everywhere I look.

Ennis is likeable enough as a character and would be a good recurring Supernatural character but I just don’t think he’s interesting enough to carry his own series, I suppose his supporting cast are designed to help but I don’t have anything good to say about them in all honesty. The premise is theoretically interesting, a demonic gangland setting is a cool idea and there’s lots of potential for conflict and over the top craziness.

Overall, I didn’t like this much at all. It didn’t feel like an episode of Supernatural but that’s probably because it isn’t one, it’s an episode of another show with Sam and Dean popping by every now and again. As I said above their presence is largely passive, only serving as a plot device to tell Ennis not to go into this life which is pointless since of course he’s going to. Sam and Dean’s function in this story could have been served by any other hunter characters. If this spinoff happens I’m not sure I’m interested in seeing it based on this clumsy outing.

Arrow – Season 2 Episode 21 – “City of Blood”

With only two episodes to go, the pace of this episode is unrelenting as it juggles the many plot threads that have been in play for quite some time.

The episode picks up a week or so after the shock ending from last week and begins with Moira Queen’s funeral. Oliver is noticeably absent from these proceedings which leaves many to wonder why. Chief among them is Diggle and Felicity who try to locate Oliver but since he doesn’t want to be found, he can’t be. This forces Diggle to ask Amanda Waller to search for him. I actually thought she agreed to it a bit too easily but considering the city is at stake I guess that makes sense, plus I bet she’ll call on Diggle for a favour at some point.

Oliver spends a lot of this episode moping which I found a bit tiresome to be honest, he seems all to quick to give himself up to Slade and let himself be murdered so that all of this can end. Has he gone completely insane? Slade isn’t going to give up his crusade after creating an army of super beings to take over the city because Oliver gave himself up. I like that it took Laurel to snap him out of it after she gets proof on newly sworn in Mayor Sebastian Blood’s involvement in Slade’s scheme and decides to abandon the secrecy over her knowing his identity.

Oliver and Laurel’s scenes in this episode are great, it’s interesting that Laurel has fully accepted Oliver’s other life and now wants to be a part of it in some way. After their conversation, Oliver is driven and committed to stopping Slade. I would have preferred that Oliver’s reaction had went the other way and he would be hell bent on revenge but have to be stopped by those around him since he’s no match for Slade in terms of strength. I did really like when Oliver was ready to fight back though, his scene with Sebastian Blood was particularly excellent.

Thea attempting to leave town makes sense, she needs distance from those who lied to her and feels that she has nothing left. There is something of a reconciliation with her brother but it’s not enough to stop her. Isabel’s seizure of the club was the last straw for her and the Queen family’s new financial situation should make season 3 pretty interesting.

We get some insight -via rapid exposition- into Felicity’s past and the kind of life she had growing up but it is fleeting. I hope that season 3 will give us more time to really explore Felicity as a character. Also, the island plot is furthered by the use of the submarine and the attempt at salvation this gives them. There are of course complications in the form of Slade but we won’t know what goes on until later.

A very good and well paced episode with lots of character development. One thing Arrow never does is forget about the characters and the part they play in the overall story. As I said above, Oliver’s persistent nonsensical moping I could have done without but thankfully the episode ditches that fairly quickly -just not as quickly as I would have liked- and gives us the proactive Oliver back. I want to see the final two episodes now.

The 100 – Season 1 Episode 7 – “Contents Under Pressure”

Very much a return to form this week, it has ditched -at least for the moment- all of the love triangle crap and has resumed the focus on the drama of survival.

Finn is near death, poisoned by a Grounder knife wound which is nice and convenient as the kids are holding a grounder prisoner. Bellamy has the tough task of torturing him for information, specifically on how to cure this poison. I really like that this isn’t taken lightly and that Bellamy doesn’t take any enjoyment from it. His anguished expressions as he’s forced to hurt the prisoner are particularly telling.

They manage to fix the radio and contact The Ark, allowing Clarke to talk to her mother and general communication to happen. This is rocky at first as Clarke is still annoyed with her mother but she pushes that aside to listen to her medical advice for the good of saving Finn.

The grounder remains silent for almost the entirety of the episode, even when he’s being stabbed and beaten which I found pretty impressive, clearly this threat will be a difficult one. I liked that it took Octavia putting herself in harms way to bring salvation for Finn and I wonder why The Grounder feels such a connection to her.

Further complications on The Ark come from the announcement that there aren’t enough escape pods for everyone to escape to the surface, judging by the realities this show has been facing up until now I don’t expect a quick fix to come along so it seems likely that many people will have to die again, not a happy prospect by any stretch of the imagination.

To conclude, when this show keeps the relationship stuff in the background where it belongs in such a life or death situation it’s excellent, the characters are well written and act maturely in the face of danger, seemingly able to push aside resentments to get the job done. I really do enjoy this show and this was a strong episode.

The Big Bang Theory – Season 7 Episode 22 – “The Proton Transmogrification”

May 4th is this weekend and that can only mean one thing, Star Wars Day is upon us. This is the perfect show to give us an episode that pays ample tribute to that.

We have two A-Plots this week, the first being the death of Professor Proton -he’s not dead in real life but he is in this show- and Sheldon’s inability to cope with this since he considers the man a friend and a mentor. The second plot is the characters celebrating May 4th by having a Star Wars viewing party. There’s also a subplot where Bernadette and Amy make a Death Star cake and discuss how they got into science.

Despite the fact that the episode is about a death it still manages to be absolutely hilarious and heartfelt at the same time. I really like how Sheldon on the surface is trying to embrace the practicalities of someone dying -i.e. there’s nothing I can do about it so I don’t see why I should go to the funeral- but it is something that affects him emotionally and missing the funeral seems to make it difficult for him to find closure on this issue. This manifests through dream sequences where he’s haunted by Professor Proton appearing as Obi Wan appears to Luke in ghost form -complete with Jedi robes- which is just hilarious, the interactions are both emotionally deep and amusing. Professor Proton’s dry wit around his lack of knowledge of his own appearance keeps this from becoming too melodramatic and Sheldon reacts to all this as you might expect him to. However there is room for growth from Sheldon as well in a scene I won’t spoil but is particularly effective.

The Star Wars references are all spot on, they range from food related puns with the character names to setting aside time to complain about The Phantom Menace, it reminds me of several seasons ago when the show would constantly reference specific “geek culture” things that would be understood by those interested in what they were talking about, it feels as if they haven’t done an awful lot of this lately so it’s nice to have that back.

Overall, loved this episode. It was funny and emotionally poignant with some great character moments from Sheldon and the others. By far the strongest episode of the season I would say.