Watch Revolution – Pilot Online S01E01

Pilot

Revolution - Pilot Online S01E01 The premise of Revolution is simple. One night, all the lights go out. The pilot opens on Ben Matheson coming home to his young family, telling his wife that ‘it’s all gonna turn off’, and then downloading computer files to an external flash drive. Moments later every vaguely electronic device goes kaput, from airplanes to household batteries, leaving the Americas (and presumably the rest of the world) in the dark.

The way the show starts out, it is present day until something blacks out the power and it never comes on again. ‘Twilight’s Billy Burke plays Miles, the uncle of Charlie that may know how to turn the power on, or at least why it stopped working in the first place.

However, the narration in the beginning said that modern medicine isn’t really working without technology… so is Danny just benefiting from a left over inhaler because it doesn’t require a plug, merely a pump action? The good news is for all of the minor quibbles I have over the technology, I never really dwelled on it. I was far more focused on getting to know the characters.

Favreau brings a lot of strong energy to Revolution, giving appropriate weight to moments like that opening sequence and delivering action that is more notable and big than is normal for network TV – a sword fight Miles has with multiple foes is incredibly fun and cool, and instantly helps Burke (bringing the right world-weary vibe to the proceedings) establish that yes, the dad from Twilight can play a kickass hero.

The 15 year gap serves to highlight some differences between the older and younger generations: those who remember the world “before” and the new generation who have never used a computer or watched television. Also by jumping ahead 15 years the bleak desperation of the immediate aftermath of a world plunged into darkness is avoided, in favour a of discovering the new social and political landscape the show has created for its characters.

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Watch Veep – Tears Online S01E08

Tears

Veep - Tears Online S01E08Armando Iannucci made it clear with last week’s episode that “Veep” will be steering away from anything resembling real issues. While a pregnant Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) at the end of “Baseball” opened the door to a potentially inspired direction for the show, one episode later it was explained away by Meyer having a miscarriage, as the veep and her team moved on to the next issue that was plaguing their office. The show’s established theme is that the office of the veep is essentially powerless and even meaningless, and as a result it doesn’t have much to say about the political climate in Washington except for how it operates on the most superficial level. The recurring theme is that those in Washington who wield power and influence are stupid, assholes, self-involved or all three at once. Listen, we get it, but we hope as “Veep” moves into season two it has a bit more to say as they are running out of non-issues to try and mine for laughs.

The waterworks proved beneficial for Selina as she went from a toxic asset to the President whose endorsement a low-level congressman didn’t even want, to a DC power broker who was suddenly the most popular woman in Washington.

This is another example of Veep’s obsession with how appearance, in politics, outweighs any actual politics. But the real star of this episode was not any member of the regular cast. Instead it was a newcomer, Congressman Roger Furlong. Played by the excellent Dan Bakkedahl, Furlong is a foul-mouthed volcano who is a gift to the “Best Lines of the Night” section below.

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Watch Chuck – Chuck Versus The Baby Online S05E08

Chuck Versus The Baby

Watch Chuck - Chuck Versus The Baby OnlineYvonne Strahovski hadn’t had a whole lot to do in this final season, but the show finally made up for that with the terrific “Chuck vs. the Baby.” Sarah got to righteously kick some ass again, we got a few more pieces of her origin story, and her larger journey of the series seemed to reach the finish line in the same way Chuck’s did last week.

So here we are, one night before the ball drops on 2011, with NBC burning Chuck episodes in the hopes it can finally clear more valuable real estate for such fine programming as Minute To Win It. (Fine: YOU explain why it aired episodes on both December 23rd and tonight. It’s been extremely lonely here in TV Club land this week, people. Todd turned off the lights a while ago, and I’ve been in here cold and scared.) While “Santa Suit” was both a season and series highlight, “Chuck Versus The Baby” was an inevitable step down. It finally gave Yvonne Strahovski the spotlight that she’s needed all season, but featured a series of events that had little connection to the season or her character to date.

Through numerous flashbacks, we learn that Sarah left the baby in the care of her mother (Cheryl Ladd), even though it meant cutting ties with her broken-hearted mom. With Ryker still on the hunt for the kid (now named Molly), that puts Mama Walker in danger. What follows is a brawl through Sarah’s mother’s house that involves breaking some furniture and a wall, even if it ends a bit randomly with Ryker happening to turn around and stare at the fight going on the front lawn. Sarah is reunited with Molly, while Alex and Morgan are still trying to gel back together, with some help from Ellie and Awesome.

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Watch Chuck – Chuck Versus the Santa Suit Online S05E07

Chuck Versus the Santa Suit

Chuck - Chuck Versus the Santa SuitMaybe it’s a case of post-episode excitement bias, but at this very moment, I’m just going to come out and say it. “Chuck Versus the Santa Suit” might have been the best episode of the entire series. Yes, I said it and I’m not taking it back. Daniel Shaw’s return was spectacular, and the episode as a whole was extraordinary. Everyone, and I mean everyone brought their A-game tonight as the entire cast (how rare!) was featured in the episode, and each and every character somehow took part in taking down Shaw, even if they hadn’t a clue that they were! And who would’ve thought?! Frankly, it was Ellie, Jeff, and Lester who saved the day! The only negative aspect about this episode is that we only got Brandon Routh back for a single week!

All of this is a way to say that “Chuck Versus The Santa Suit” is the reason I watch Chuck, even at this late, wildly imperfect stage of the game. I’m not a fan of “Show X used to be soooo much better” discussions, because such arguments often come from a viewpoint that it’s inherently correct to trash what’s new in favor of what’s old. It’s about a perspective rather than a true analysis. While such a statement could be true, I often find the rationalization for it false. Chuck probably peaked in Season 2, but that hardly means that what has come after has been a total waste.

I will never be one to complain about the existence of new episodes of “Chuck,” and/or the existence of new episodes of anything I like this close to Christmas and New Year’s, but I feel bad that “Chuck vs. the Santa Suit” had to air this late in the calendar year. This is the best episode of the new season by far, and one of my favorite episodes of the series, period, and I imagine the ratings are going to be significantly lower than even the lousy numbers the show’s been pulling so far on Friday nights. This is one every “Chuck” fan has been waiting for in some way, and a lot of them may miss it or not get to it for a while on their DVRs.

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Watch Terra Nova – Occupation & Resistance Online S01E12 (Season Finale)

Occupation & Resistance

Terra Nova - Occupation & ResistanceIt’s the finale “Occupation / Resistance” — in which this blogger finally realizes: Lucas is reprehensibly despicable.

Between the two-hour long stress of the “Terra Nova” season finale, and the power outages at Candlestick Park for Monday Night Football and the Pittsburgh Steelers game (don’t hate), tensions were running high for me as our time-traveling pioneers dug their heels into their prehistoric home and waged war against the future. And some of it was relatively legit.

This is not to say that the finale was a great episode, and the premiere was equally great, with simply crap in-between. Certainly not. Rather, the premiere offered a glimpse into a potentially great series that could occur, and the finale behaved like that series had happened. But of course, it hadn’t. The finale was as riddled with horrible plot holes as what had come before – why didn’t the colony prepare for the face that the invaders might use an explosive? But there were glimpses, certainly.

After the big speech to conclude last week’s episode, the entire population was prepared to fight for their new home. Unfortunately, they weren’t expecting the onslaught that came through the portal. It’s a great way to start the episode: strip your protagonists of all their advantages and have them claw their way back to freedom and safety. A far more exciting scenario than simply having Terra Nova wait for an attack for the entire first half of the episode, which I have to admit, was what I was expecting.

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Watch Grimm – Let Your Hair Down Online S01E07

Let Your Hair Down

Grimm - Let Your Hair Down
On this week’s episode “Let Your Hair Down” of Grimm, Nick and Hank begin investigating the murder of a drug dealer that’d been living deep in the woods. It turns out he was strangled (and WOW was his broken neck gruesome), and forensics ran the hairs found on his body to discover that they belonged to an old missing person’s case. Holly disappeared when she was seven and has been missing for nine years. She’s been living in the forest, and pretty much kills people with her hair like some deranged Rapunzel. Hence the episode title: “Let Your Hair Down”.

This was a definite twist on Rapunzel. Disney singing Mandy Moore this was not. What would happen to a Blutbad child that grew up in the wild? We have heard stories of feral children but a feral child that is a Blutbad? Only in Portland, Grimm world.

They see weird traces in the bush. But Bigfoot wouldn’t fit in a sleeping bag. The local authorities say there have been a series of drug dealers up in the woods that have got lot of campsites raided. Food and clothing. The latest victims ran a dog grooming salon.

Since this is Portland, Oregon, there’s a big marijuana grower out in the woods. When two hikers make the unwise decision to walk near his crop, this guy just takes them captive at his camp. This initial scenario didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why is he growing pot so close to hiking trails? Wouldn’t a far less-travelled location be a better idea? Or were these hikers really off the beaten path? Grimm establishes none of those details, but has the Rapunzel Blutbad swing in, kill the pot farmer, and disappear, leaving only a few hairs behind for Nick and Hank to begin their case.

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Watch Law and Order SVU – Lost Traveler Online S13E09

Lost Traveler

Law and Order SVU - Lost TravelerIn the newest episode of NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, Benson and Amaro interview the distraught parents of a missing Romani child who disappeared on his way home from school, who are distrustful of the police. The initial investigation leads Fin and Rollins to the powerful leader of the Romani community, but he denies any involvement. The family remains hopeful their boy will be found, especially after they discover his cell phone is still active. With the help of a new TARU tech and a meddling newspaper reporter, the detectives narrow the perpetrators to a mentally challenged neighbor, throwing the tight-knit Romani community into turmoil.

The seriousness of the episode was broken by the appearance of TARU Tech Leo Gerber, played by Gilbert Gottfried. While I find Gottfried a humorous person,  this was a casting misstep, one that rivals the casting of Noel Fisher as the equally annoying TARU Tech and murderer Dale Stuckey. Gottfried’s voice is grating (it works very well when he is doing humor) and it made his acting abilities even worse. This is one character that I am not looking forward to seeing again. In Gottfried’s defense, he gave them what they seemed to have wanted; he can’t help it that someone tried to write in a lame comedy interlude into this otherwise serious episode. Casting does get extra points for bringing in former cast member Dean Winters’ brother Scott to play a smarmy detective.

Olivia and Nick are called in by a cop who is very unsympathetic toward Nikko and his “gypsy” parents. The parents say their son was something of a loner. His teacher backs this up, but fellow students aren’t too sympathetic. The father, Thomas, was charged in an altercation with a coworker, but the lead eventually brings a man named Rombaro into focus. Nikko’s parents had been paying him, but stopped shortly before the kidnapping. He’s an interesting character, but claims he couldn’t harm Nikko.

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Watch Prime Suspect – Underwater Online S01E08

Underwater

Prime Suspect - UnderwaterPrime Suspect, we hardly knew ye! Or did we know ye too well? Hard to say. The point is that the amount that we knew ye was not optimized, Pareto or otherwise. You were better than bad, better than mediocre even, but you never quite reached the sainted hallmark of good. Episodes in recent weeks have shown improvement, but “shown” and “improvement” are not the words that teachers write on the report cards of their best students. You generally strove hard for greatness, though, and there’s some honor in that. I say “generally,” though because this week’s episode was a stinker, shot through with clichés that undermined the tension it was so desperate to whip up. There are a few more episodes before the inevitable, and I hope that the remainder will stick with the realism of the series to date. I’ve been generally favorable of the show, and I’d hate to see it go out with this sort of indignity.

Underwater” was a bit of a departure from the standard Prime episode, smartly dealing with the at-times toxic relationship between Jane and Reg by placing them into an unknown area and forcing them to work together; while putting the rest of the cast on the backburner.However, it is nice to see that no matter how heated the arguments get between these partners, they can put their differences aside and work together as a team to protect a little girl.

Speaking of working together, the shootout in the hotel room was intense and very well done. Over the course of watching this drama, I’ve realized how scary and scarce these gunfights the police have to deal with are, and when they decide to write one into the story it grabs your attention and sends adrenaline pumping through your body.

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