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31st Century Fox
Futurama has a history of great anthology shows that deal out daring stories. Still, the last episode of the season leaps nimbly over that bar and lands with its hands, flippers, and fins triumphantly in the air. Futurama goes absolutely friggin’ nuts over nature documentaries and it’s grim and great.
In “31st Century Fox,” the plot kicks off with the Planet Express staff asking for new uniforms after Mothzilla attacked their closet in Tokyo. Apparently, the Professor promised them new ones a year ago and never delivered on it, so they head to ‘Nvasions ‘N Such Space Uniforms in the Garment District. I know I bring this up a lot in my reviews, but the clever signs are my favorite part of the Futurama humor.
The initial visit to the Garment District provided a few humorous sight gags towards the beginning of the episode, particularly when the Planet Express crew were trying on different uniforms. It seemed like kind of an odd way for Bender to stumble into the fox hunting getup, but I suppose it’s not all that unreasonable for the Futurama ‘verse.
Each segment was made as if it were part of a nature documentary being narrated by Phil LaMarr. It begins with salmon and then continues to the Pinta Island Tortoise and The Elephant Seal, and while clearly best watched (and perhaps written…) while incredibly high, they manage to succeed regardless of what state you’re in. It’s really just three amusing vignettes seemingly made on a lark, and the entire affair seems almost like an idea rather than a full-fledged episode. Still, some of jokes are pretty great and it’s pleasant to see the show go somewhere new, even if it’s not really a direction anyone hoped for. Oddly, the first third of the show is probably the weakest, despite being written by the most veteran of its writers—the other two were written by first-time writers who’d been working as writers’ assistants—and are genuinely pretty great.
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Creatively speaking, the pilot episode of Saving Hope raised a lot of questions about the direction of the show. While the second episode provided a window into the future direction of the show, more issues cropped up as well.
For starters, Charlie moved his hand when Alex played the song from the night they first said “I love you.” I’m glad that he showed progress, as it gives viewers hope that he won’t be in a coma for the entire series. That would get tiresome after a while.
But I didn’t appreciate that the idea to play the track for him was delivered by his incredibly creepy ex-wife. Seriously. The rubbing on his chest and all Alex did was ask her to stop? There should’ve been a girl-fight complete with hair pulling. Show some emotion, Alex!
Another ongoing problem that the show has is the supporting characters on the show. Through two episodes, these people are so underdeveloped that I have trouble remember most of their names without a trip to IMDB. While most of them are merely forgettable, there are a few characters that are fairly painful to watch. This week, they decided to devote some time to tracking Dr. Lin’s embarrassing courtship of Dr. Goran. (Yes, I had to look up both of those names.) Lin’s attempt at being just as cocky as he is in an attempt to get him into bed was so off-putting that it will take a few episodes of really quality work to get her in my good graces. For the record, she’s not capable of work on that level.
Donnie or Marie
In “Donnie or Marie” the show whittles the suspect pool down to two candidates: Richmond’s campaign manager Jamie Wright, and Richmond’s campaign adviser/ex-mistress, Gwen Eaton. It’s a “final two” scenario set up by last week’s closing shot, focusing on Gwen and Jamie, unnoticed amidst the crowd of onlookers following Richmond’s campaign speech.
How Linden and Holder do detective work throughout this episode is, they sit around in their car and make up wild theories and then act as if their wild theories are correct, and eventually — because the show is like this — they turn out to be correct. So they get Roberta to admit that Chief Nicole is an abusive lover and breaker-of-bones, and eventually twist her around into giving them this elevator footage that supposedly didn’t exist, which shows who the person is. (Also, it sounds like Roberta wasn’t the one that put up the haunted-tree picture, but whatever. I have a theory about that.*)
Although, technically, I’m not sure why it can’t just be considered the penultimate episode leading into the “real” finale that airs next week, but “Donnie or Marie” pushed viewers towards two possible killers. And, no, the Osmond pair did not special guest star and sing out who the killer was.
Are they the killers, or simply involved, and someone else is in on it. Michael Ames certainly seems to be important again, forgotten for much of the show’s run (he’s been in four episodes before tonight), but important enough to become a major anchor to the whole murder-a-teenage-girl conspiracy… but again, the important conversations that could reveal any tidbits about this happen off-screen or transferred via mind powers between characters in the many long scenes of people just staring at each other, or the conversations we only get one end of.
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Welcome to Bushwick (aka The Crackcident)
It was sweaty and thick in Bushwick this week, when the girls of Girls met for some partying. Hannah asks in the beginning of the episode – “how good can it be?”, and at the end it may be only Hannah that is really happy and kind of satisfied.
The warehouse party is one big game of hipster bingo — Indian-style braided headbands, high-waisted shorts, feathers (courtesy of Jessa, naturally), spirit animal hoods, and Adam with an ugly shirt. Yes, we finally see the shirtless Adam out in the wild, wearing a shirt, and we begin to understand why he doesn’t because frankly, that is one ugly shirt.
What is it about parties that captures a certain spirit of boundless possibility? As Jessa says, it’s the hope that each one might truly be the best party ever, that’s what drives us to put on lipstick and venture to potentially dangerous points unknown. Jessa says this while dressed as an extra from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and so I am inclined to believe her. She is ready to dance, as is this episode’s golden days of MTV-esque title sequence.
You see there are two sides to every story, and it looks like up until this week’s episode, we’d only been getting the “Adam is a total douchebag” story from Hannah’s perspective. However, Lena Dunham managed to find a way for us to sympathize (ever so slightly) with the shirtless potential sociopath. He’s just misunderstood! Why, you ask? Because Hannah never took the time to understand him. So what better time than a warehouse party in Bushwick?
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Game of Thrones really delivered what’s arguably the best battle sequence ever produced for television tonight. There were a couple amazing episodes of HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific, sure. But capturing a World War II battle is working from a well-documented blueprint. It’s not like there are any historical photos of a wildfire explosion, you know? “Blackwater” took place on land and at sea. There were advanced special effects and good ‘ol fashion sword fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Plus, Blackwater had pivotal moments for so many Thrones characters — from Tyrion to Stannis, from Joffrey to Sansa, from Cersei to The Hound … they were all battle tested tonight.
And not that we don’t love Arya, Jon, Daenerys and the rest, but I couldn’t even imagine cutting away from the castle siege story for a second. Even before the fighting started, when we hopped around the castle and checked in with everyone, I was hoping that we wouldn’t leave. “Blackwater” was written by author George R. R. Martin himself and directed by Niel Marshall (The Descent, Centurion, Doomsday); a man who definitely knows how to “do more with less” and came in during the eleventh hour to triumphantly oversee this series’ most ambitious production yet.
But the Lannister’s have one ace up their sleeves: the savvy mind of Lord Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage.) “I’m the captain of the ship, and if the ship goes down, I go with her,” says Tyrion. “That is good to hear, though I’m sure many captains say the same while their ship is afloat,” says Lord Varys (Conleth Hill). Varys goes on to warn the Hand that Stannis has pledged himself to the “dark arts” and will likely rain woe on the few who survive inside Kings Landing if the walls are breached. “I believe you are the only man who can stop him,” he says.
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How I Wet Your Mother
Well the tables have turned with The Simpsons falling behind the Comedy Central animated show in “How I Wet Your Mother.” The snowy setting of Homer’s original dream, the landscape of Homer’s subconscious mind, and the gravity-defying slow battle between Professor Frink and Chief Wiggum all helped create a more precise satire of the film.
I thought the beginning of this week’s episode of The Simpsons with Smithers in the supply closet was quite funny. It is amazing how hard it is to get quality supplies at work! When I started at my firm, I asked my assistant to get me some nice fine point, gel pens or roller points and she kindly advised me that we only had ball point. I could either get them on my own or put in a special request, which is just another way of saying get them on your own. Let’s hope that things are a little better over at Fox. Like Homer, my instinct would have been to raid the supply closet rather than close the open door. I loved the accordion post it bit with Lenny.
The second act has Homer quickly put together that his bedwetting is probably tied to his betrayal of his co-workers, but his problem persists even after they forgive him. When Marge is turned off by his Confidence Man Adult Diapers (ha!), she takes a night walk and meets up with Professor Frink, who has invented an Inception device. This is quite a lot of plot development in a short time, but the episode hums along so well in this act that it does not seem rushed. The gag about Homer napping with a many-armed Apu was the weakest joke in this segment, but most of the others, particularly the nerdy ones about the poles of Mars and the Adobe Acrobat update, were strong enough to carry all of the plot mechanics along. None of the jokes here were extraordinary, but there were few enough stinkers that they had a cumulative strength.
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