Alpha returns in Dollhouse's riff on zombie movies
Todd VanDerWerff Saturday, Dec 12, 2009 1:44 AM
If nothing else, "A Love Supreme" seems decidedly intent on getting Alan Tudyk cast in Quentin Tarantino's next movie. It's got the weird musical choices on the soundtrack, the use of odd locations and the decidedly atypical manner of Alpha's speech patterns. As Tudyk drops back in to the series, now bent on killing off as many of Echo's prior romantic engagements as possible, he seems to be coming in from some other show about serial killers who wear snappy suits and offer up droll patter as they dispatch their victims. I realize that sounds a lot like "Dexter," but it's a little less concerned with its hero's sociopathy and more with him being wicked cool.
[Full recap of "A Love Supreme," the second of Friday's (Dec. 11) two "Dollhouse" episodes after the break...]
'Dollhouse' offers up an episode that might have made a great pilot in an alternate universe.
Todd VanDerWerff Friday, Dec 11, 2009 10:02 PM
One of the hardest things to determine when coming up with a serialized TV series is figuring out where to start the story. Some stories suggest, automatically, where to begin. There was pretty much nowhere else to start the story of "Lost" than on that beach immediately after that plane crash, and "Battlestar Galactica" needed the horror of the nuclear holocaust of the miniseries to kick off its story. But most series end up caught up in trying to decide what is the perfect point to balance having just enough backstory (but not too much!) and just enough room to move forward (but not too much!). This, honestly, is kind of an underrated component of the whole serialized TV machine, since it's hard to judge these things from just the pilot and the first few episodes. But it often seems like the serialized shows that suck viewers and critics into the world of the show straight off are the ones that manage this balance, and the ones that don't suck us in are the ones that never quite figured out the best place to begin.
[Full recap of Friday's (Dec. 11) first "Dollhouse" episode after the break...]
Pre-credit sequence. When last we left the castaways, they had just blindsided John, leaving Shambo confused and doubting the validity of her nocturnal visions. It's Night 30 and Shambo is pretending to be impressed at John ouster, even after Russell approaches her and attempts to calm her down. "I'll do whatever it takes to win this game," says Russell, who reminds us that he's been lying to everybody all game. We're well-aware, Russell. Shambo, slightly placated, tells Russell that Dave has to go next. Russell mostly ignores her.
[Full recap of Thursday's (Dec. 10) "Survivor: Samoa" after the break...]
None of this two-week, multi-hour finale stuff for “Glee”: The show managed to tie up loads of loose strings – from Emma and Schue, to the competition, to Quinn’s dishonesty – in the one tidy hour of “Sectionals.”
It kicks off with Rachel suspecting that Puck is the father of Quinn’s baby because she noticed Puck moving to the aid of the pregnant cheerleader after a fall. And because she thinks she’s “a little psychic.” She stirs the pot by telling Quinn that she should have the baby checked for Tay-Sachs disease if the father is at all Jewish (this checks out, by the way), and ultimately tells Finn of psychic suspicion, because she’s still got mad hots for him.
Meanwhile, the rest of Glee knows Quinn’s secret anyway – Mercedes told ‘em – but want to suppress Rachel from spilling the beans because they’re pawing their way to sectionals and can’t bear a shake-up. Schuester, who can’t go to the competition because of Sue’s previous blackmailing attempt, has recruited Emma to travel with the group as advisor, and departs mentioning “I don’t know what the future holds for me or for us.” (Hey, FOX, are you listening?)
Too bad, all for naught. Finn soon gets punchy with Puck, dumps Quinn, quits Glee. Quinn, who’s strong suit was never crying, cries. Rachel feels bad, tells Quinn she’s sorry for her loose lips, and reveals her feelings for Finn. Quinn tells Puck she’s raising the baby on her own. And off to sectionals we go!
The songlist that Sue Sylvester leaked to the rival high school took effect, and the urban all-girls school rips off Mercedes’ solo moment, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls,” and the group’s “Proud Mary” (with wheelchairs!), while the deaf school provides the evergreen Deaf People Can’t Sing joke on “Don’t Stop Believing.”
McKinley is crushed, near defeat, until Finn arrives an hour before their performance, with sheet music to his new personal anthem “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. He was inspired after Schue’s anti-pep talk to him that being a leader, being special and “the bigger man,” sometimes “sucks.”
Rachel, naturally, was ready with a new showstopping solo, Barbra Streisand’s classic “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl.” Even as it’s lip-synched, here’s a lesson in breathing, folks.
As the judges of sectionals debate the winner, the kids confront/are confronted by Jane Addams Academy for Girls coach (Eve! Again!), who has good intentions of coming clean about cheating and ripping off the crew’s songlist. That doesn’t happen, but what does happen is that the coaches from both rival high schools tell Principal Figgins that Sue Sylvester was the one who leaked the songlists to them. Figgins apparently grows a pair in about five seconds, dismisses Sue as the Cheerios coach and reinstates Schue as the leader of Glee. Sue vows revenge in a storm of many mixed metaphors.
All this, and the group wins the competition, on their own merit, too.
What of Emma’s wedding, then? She had pushed off her wedding for a few hours so that she could play advisor to the team, the last straw for Ken, who finally sees the light that, one, she’s just settling for him and, two, she’s always had eyes for Will. Schue arrives in the ultra-tacky-decorated VFW hall for the nuptials, only to find Emma, beautiful bride Emma, alone, after being dumped. She reveals that she’s resigned from McKinley because of the shame she has about the whole Ken thing and because every time she sees Schue, she’s heartbroken. Will tells her he’s “just left my wife.” She gives it pause, but at that moment, is having none of it, since this all “just” happened. In the reference to Mercedes' song, "I'm going."
And Schue has left Terri, true, though in clashing with him at home, she tries to make her case, mentioning she’s started going to therapy. She asks if his love is gone forever and Schue, leaving that door open, says he doesn’t know.
Later, Glee presents Schuester with the trophy and a very special performance of one of Kelly Clarkson’s newer singles “Life Would Suck Without You,” which then inspires him to run down the hall (in slow-motion, no less) to find Emma before she departs. He finds her with her packed box, sets it on the floor, and sets a kiss on her lips. She smiles, just as we all did, since we’ve waited for this thing to happen all season. and end scene.
We are promised the next big hurdle for the group, Regionals, when the season starts back up on April 13.
Props to the show’s writers for continuing its development on cheerleader Britney, this show’s Ralph Wiggum: she said she wasn’t keen on Emma being Glee’s advisor because of a certain “keeping that bird in my locker” incident. Puck keeps bringing the pain with a “Fight Club” mention and, in a moment of songless panic, Artie delivers by offering to “improvise some of my def poetry jams.” And no one, not even the show’s creators, don’t know what a city comptroller does.
With the finale only a week away, two go home, but not the ones you might expect
Liane Bonin Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009 9:23 PM
It’s the show before the finals! OMG! I am exhausted before the show even starts. Maybe watching elimination Wednesdays could count as a workout, because they have become pretty nerve wracking. The truth is, at this point you don’t really want anyone to go because the bar has, truly, been set so high. Not even Mollee. No joke.
[Full recap of Wednesday (Dec. 9) night's "So You Think You Can Dance," including the results and your Final Six after the break...]
One dancer is injured, but does that mean itâ€™s the end of the road?
Liane Bonin Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009 1:34 AM
Final eight. Or, um, seven. One of the girls is missing. And it’s (racking my brain, racking my brain) Ashleigh! No! This can’t be happening! Or maybe it isn’t, because Cat, who is dressed like a 1980s pirate who chooses to wear her ill-gotten gold as ugly shorts instead of burying it (though really, I’d suggest burying those shorts or at least melting them down for cash or a nice necklace), isn’t mentioning it. At all. She yacks about next week, and then this week, and I have just about decided that Ashleigh is dead and everyone’s too broken up about it to say anything or I just imagined she wasn’t in the intro and I’m having early onset dementia, when she finally tells Ashleigh to come onto the stage. So, at least I know she’s not dead. That’s a good thing.
Ashleigh, it turns out, has injured herself. In rehearsal, she accidentally popped her shoulder out of its socket and then got all war commando and popped it back in. Go, Ashleigh! I knew the girl was tough. Anyway, she’s not dancing tonight and seems pretty broken up about it, but we can still vote for her. I hope she gets the pity vote. She looks so sad when she’s not wearing high heels and a ridiculous sequined dress. Poor Ashleigh.
Anyway, everyone else can dance, so let’s get to it!
[Full recap of Tuesday's (Dec. 8) "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]
I lost my favorites in this season's "Amazing Race" relatively early on when Justin & Zev mislaid their travel documents during a leg they actually won. I lost my guilty pleasure favorites a couple weeks later with the Poker Girls ran up against a task that required more physical strength than they collectively possessed. And my other favorite went out just last week, when Team Globetrotter (or Big Easy, to be specific) hit a mental block on a Roadblock.
So I entered Sunday (Dec. 6) night's "Amazing Race" with only a minor vested interest. Given the choice, I'd have said I was rooting for Meghan and Cheyne, Team Tetherball. Probably Team Miss AmeEricka, Brian & Ericka, would have been my second pick. But I wouldn't say I was invested in any real way.
Fortunately, Sunday's finale was a really compelling episode, generating ample tension even without a rooting interest. The finale made good use of its final destination, Las Vegas. All three teams had advantages and seemed to have captured momentum. And even if the tasks weren't necessarily exciting or creative, they were shot in a way that had me perched on the edge of my couch, tapping my knee nervously. And when the winning team reached Phil Keoghan, I found a way to be happy for them, which I might not have been with a weaker finale.
[Recap of the "Amazing Race" finale, with spoilers, after the break...]
After taking two weeks off following the disastrous January Jones and disappointing Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosted shows in mid-November, it was a relief that the "SNL" crew came back with a much better effort. "Gossip Girl's" Blake Lively made her debut as a host and in what might be a surprise to some, showed some great comedic skills. For many, the show was just a pit stop before "New Moon's" Taylor Lautner hosts next week, but there was a bunch that really worked tonight. And, as always, a good chuck that didn't.
The Salahis Just Can't Stay Away
Obama (Fred Armisen) appears at a Pennsylvania event while the infamous Salahis (Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Wiig) show up behind him, crashing the event. Taking photos, posing, while Obama has no idea. Best moment is when the secret service agent asks them what they are doing and they shoo him away like "It's all good" and he believes them. Then, a second agent appears behind him and they all start taking photos of each other. Meanwhile, of course, Obama has no idea what's going on. Finally, an agent comes on board to take them all off. One beat later, they return with fake mustaches. The agents come back AGAIN ready to carry them away, only to have Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) come on and just OK the whole thing. And yes, they start taking photos again.
The punch line? The Salahis, Biden and the agents ask Obama to stop during his speech and take a group photo. He complies as though it's no big deal and then returns to his speech. Oh, wait, he got it wrong. Can they try that again? And, the nice guy Obama is, he takes it one more time. Cue "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night..."
Grade: B -. Great idea, but went on way too long. Love that "SNL" is non-partisan (remember that Fox News) but do we seriously need to see them mock Obama every single show? Really?
'Dollhouse' wraps up its two-parter with more Topher than you can shake a stick at
Todd VanDerWerff Saturday, Dec 5, 2009 1:55 AM
"The Left Hand" pays off nearly every moment set up by "The Public Eye" in spades. It ups both the political commentary (Daniel Perrin's brain scan is revealed to show himself to be "very ambitious for a junior senator" - a comment that could have been taken from a right wing blog in the thick of the presidential race last year, but he's also revealed to be a dupe running only on his family name, which, again, George W. Bush) and the action, but it's mainly an episode about the ways we can never really know the people we love the most. If "The Public Eye" brought the insightful commentary on the World We Live in Today that I love from this show, "The Left Hand" was an hour of payoffs both action-wise and emotional.
[Full recap of the second of Friday's (Dec. 4) "Dollhouse" episodes after the break...]
'Dollhouse' returns to FOX with a two-parter. Part one introduces Summer Glau's Bennett
Todd VanDerWerff Friday, Dec 4, 2009 9:57 PM
"I think her bad guys are badder than my bad guys." - Echo
"The Public Eye" is like the "Dollhouse" version of one of those Daily Kos diaries where the diarist rants about how the Obama administration's incremental pragmatism has crushed said diarist's greatest hopes and sold out the political left. Though it was produced quite a while ago, it's on a Joss Whedon show, Whedon's a renowned lefty, and there are just too many parallels throughout to think that it's not a bit of "be careful what you wish for" storycraft. Also, like any good Daily Kos diary, there's a little George W. Bush bashing thrown in for good measure. Though, to be fair, very few Daily Kos diaries have two women beating the crap out of each other underneath a bridge somewhere in the D.C. area (though more should).
[Full recap of the first part of the "Dollhouse" return after the break...]