The Morning Round-Up: 'Pam Am,' 'The Good Wife' & 'Fringe'
Once again, it's time for a (late) morning round-up, with brief thoughts on, in order, "Pan Am," "The Good Wife" and "Fringe," all coming up just as soon as you check my Spider-Man fanny pack...
"Unscheduled Departure" was, I believe, the first "Pan Am" episode to spend the majority of its time on the plane, where even Colette and Ted's journey through the jungles of Port-Au-Prince was tied directly to something happening on the plane. And I don't think it's a coincidence that this was one of the stronger episodes to date. When you put all the regular characters together in the same story and force them to work together, it's more interesting than five minutes of Kate being a spy, five minutes of Laura blushing as she fends off some guy's advances, two minutes of Maggie's eyes widening for no particular reason, etc. I was especially glad to see so much of Colette, who's been largely sidelined since the Berlin episode, and who remains a much more interesting character (and performance) to me than the characters the writers have spent lots of time on. I also didn't exactly miss the spy angle this week, though it wound up being useful in keeping their refugee in America.
Temporarily replacing Sanjeev (who may as well be a cardboard cut-out, for all we've gotten to know him) with Ted's abrasive Navy buddy also did well to remind us that this is not a normal crew for 1963 and that most Pan Am men wouldn't tolerate what the stewardesses pull weekly. At the same time, my biggest complaint with the episode was how easily everyone got out of being punishment for bringing the refugee on board (and leaving a passenger's corpse behind in exchange). Dean's conversation with Juan Tripp is turning out to be so magical that I think they're going to need to show it to us in its entirety some week to justify all the perks he gets out of it, and I don't buy that the women's "I am Spartacus" moment would have worked; someone would have been punished for this, even if it wound up being someone other than Colette.
Where "Pan Am" spent the night keeping everyone in relatively close quarters, "Death Row Tip" sent "The Good Wife" ensemble off in many different directions in terms of story and tone. It was a definite something-for-everyone episode, from the comedy of Eli and Mickey's Santa Claus-loving client (and Peter's mother not knowing how to turn on Alicia's computer in her search for incriminating evidence) to the drama of Alicia struggling with working on behalf of a truly vile killer to the usual sexual tension whenever anyone gets within a 5-foot radius of Kalinda Sharma's pheromones.
For me, the highlight was the A-story. Last week, I noted that Alicia often winds up as the still, calm center of a cast of more colorful characters, but she does have feelings of her own that aren't always tied to Peter and/or Will, and it was nice to see her struggle to do her job in light of her personal opinion of the killer. It also provided good guest acting work from Mark "Ding!" Margolis (aka Tio Salamanca from "Breaking Bad") as the priest and Michael Irby (Charles Grey from "The Unit") pulling another variable ethnicity out of his arsenal as the killer. But I will certainly never object to watching Kalinda flirt, especially when it's in a less convoluted storyline than what she was up to with Blake last year.
Finally, Ryan McGee continues to echo most of my thoughts on this season of "Fringe" (here's his review of "And Those We've Left Behind"), but I wanted to bring up the latest episode for a few reasons. First, Stephen Root and Romy Rosemont were so fantastic as the husband and wife - not all real-life spouses are good at playing a couple on screen together - and had very strong characters to play. Even if the story as a whole so strongly echoed the Peter Weller plot from "White Tulip," it was still a reminder (as was the John Pyper-Ferguson episode from earlier this year) that Monster of the Week stories can be just as gripping as the arc stories (and sometimes moreso) if the execution is really good. (In hindsight, I'd much rather watch the best of the "X-Files" standalones over the best of their mythology shows.)
Along those lines, this was an episode that didn't need to have anything to do with Peter's return to the timeline, even though his return was ultimately used as the explanation for why the machine started working. And I say that because, like Ryan, I am still not feeling the rewriting of the timeline, or the introduction of a third universe, or whatever it is we feel this is. I have no attachment to these versions of the characters (other than Peter), and while John Noble is doing some very good work as this frightened, bitter version of Walter, the only episodes this season that have engaged me have been the ones that had very little to do with the larger arc. This week's episode is the last one before the show takes a long winter break, and I'll be curious to see what kind of cliffhanger we end on, and whether it points to a return to something resembling the status quo or not.
What did everybody else think?
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
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