Heroes – Season 2, Episode 2 – Lizards

October 3, 2007

The story is still moving a little slower than I would like and it seems to be taking some detours with stories that seem disconnected, however, the show has earned some leeway.  After all it’s only the second episode and there’s plenty of time for the plots to come together.

The show picks up after Sulu’s murder with Parkman as the detective brought in to investigate.  He picks up on the symbol that has been weaving its way through the show since the beginning and the trail eventually leads to Mama Petrelli.  As we all expected she has some powers of her own as she pushes Parkman out of her mind when he picks up on her thoughts attributing the murder to revenge.  Even though she’s attacked while in custody, my money is on her faking.  She’s a great character and my guess is that she’s either going to end up the saviour or the villain.

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Heroes – Season 2, Episode 1 – Four Months Later

September 25, 2007

This is the one season premiere that many of us have been waiting for (at least with no Lost for a while).  Book 2 of the saga of our Heroes begins with 3 great words “limited commercial interruption”.

In the opening scenes we are immediately reintroduced to the main characters and get to see what’s happened to them in the months since we last saw them.  Mohinder is lecturing about a virus that affects only heroes while trying to lure The Company out of hiding, Claire and her father have moved to a new town in California (with strict instructions to not participate in class and that there is no cheerleading allowed), Parkman has recovered from being shot, gotten divorced, taken in hero-finder Molly and joined the NYPD, Hiro is in 1671, Nate is a drunk who drove his family away and waits for his brother to return and Peter is an amnesiac found in a locked container on a ship.  There are also a whole bunch of new characters including on-the-run murderers from Mexico, an overrated hero from Feudal Japan who looks amazingly like Sark from Alias, Claire’s new boyfriend and many others slated to be introduced over the next few weeks (go Veronica Mars).
This season is titled Generations and as eluded to last season, there is a rich mythology behind the show involving the previous generation of heroes including at least Nate and Peter’s mother and father, Linderman and George Takai.  We’re told there are 9 left and if the notes received by Mrs. Petrelli and George Takai are any indication they are slated to die soon.  For George in particular that death comes very soon.  Definitely cool.

Not a lot of action to kick start the season but still the same great characters, cool stories, tight mythology and the launch of what I have no doubt will be one hell of a murder mystery.

As an aside, there’s a cool new blogging tool called Altcaster for running a real time interactive blog perfect for TV shows.  I’m probably going to give it a shot in the next week or 2.  Anyway, Spoilerfix.com used it for the premiere of Heroes so check it out and let me know what you think.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+


Avi’s Fall Preview 2007 – Monday Night

September 12, 2007

Wow! Is Monday just packed with TV goodness.  Here’s my network by network, show by show breakdown of what I plan to watch on Mondays:

ABC

9:30 – 10:00 – Samantha Who? – A great cast of  likable TV veterans including Kelly Bundy, Barry Watson, Jean Smart and Jennifer Esposito and a pretty neat concept of a horrible person who gets amnesia and tries to change her life makes this show sound promising.  I’m not sure there’s enough meat on the show to last a few seasons but given its pedigree I’m definitely going to give it a try.  (Starting October 15th)

CBS
8:00 – 8:30 – How I Met Your Mother – One of the best sitcoms on TV.  Rather than go into detail of my love for all things Robin Sparkles I’m going to paraphrase this from Entertainment Weekly’s article that I think perfectly captures the awesomeness of this true mash-up show:

The chummy New Yorkers of Friends, hanging out in the bar from Cheers .  The experimental structure of The Office with the comfort of a laugh track.  The pop culture references of Gilmore Girls and the random in-jokes of Arrested Development.  The sweetness of The Wonder Years and the overstuffed pace of Seinfeld and The Simpsons.  Even a mystery for the Lost fans.

On top of that one of the best ensemble casts on the airwaves.  If you haven’t watched go rent seasons 1 & 2 and get ready for some great slap bat sessions.  (Starting Sept. 24)

8:30 – 9:00 The Big Bang Theory – I stopped paying attention when I saw it was from Chuck Lorre the creator of Two and a Half Men.  Nerds living next to a hot girl.  It’s getting some good reviews even from people I know hate 2 1/2 but I’m on the fence whether to give it even a single viewing.   I guess I’ll decide on September 24th.

NBC

8:00 – 9:00 Chuck – This show has gotten great buzz from the critics so I’m going to have to give it a try.  The premise as it reads – computer geek downloads government secrets into his brain and is chased by bad guys – sounds incredibly silly but so did university student turns spy (Alias) and high school girl solves mysteries (Veronica Mars).  I read the show was very well received by my fellow comic geeks in San Diego so I’m going to definitely check it out. (Starts Sept. 24)

9:00 – 10:00 Heroes – One of the standout shows from last season and I expect great things from the new season and new cast member Kristin Bell.   (Starts Sept. 24)

10:00 – 11:00 Journeyman – I liked Vorenus’s understatedness in Rome and it will be interesting seeing him carry this story of a time traveller solving Quantum Leap like problems but within a larger story arc.  It’s a good fit with Heroes and compared to the other Monday at 10:00 shows like CSI Miami (yuck) or the Bachelor (bigger yuck) it’s a no brainer which one wins the time slot for me.  (Starts Sept. 24)

Fox

8:00 – 9:00 Prison Break – I pretty much decided at the end of last season that the show had gotten way too stupid and gone on far longer than the premise should allow.  This year they’re in a Panama jail and I’m not sure I care if they stay there for ever.  Still, I’m this invested I have to watch at least a couple of episodes to see if it can recapture some of the fun of the first season.  But 2 episodes to change my mind is more than generous.  (Starts Sept. 17)

9:00 – 10:00 K-Ville – As much as I don’t think I need to watch another cop show, this one stars Anthony Anderson who was just fantastic on The Shield and takes place in New Orleans after Katrina.  It may be a bit too real for some viewers (it films on location) and frankly may be difficult to watch at times but I applaud the creators for ignoring controversary to tell stories in a town that 2 years later has fallen off the front page but still is dealing with the aftermath of the diaster. (Starts Sept. 17)

The CW

8:00 – 8:30 Everybody Hates Chris – I’m still behind in this show and haven’t seen most of season 2 but I do recommend it.  (Starts Oct. 1)

8:30 – 9:00 Aliens in America – Family with geeky son takes in an exchange student from Pakistan and hilarity ensues.  It isn’t the show that instantly jumps out for me but the early pilot I saw (before they recast the father role) actually was pretty entertaining with a mixture of laughs and sweetness.  The lead, Justin, is just great as is the mother who I instantly remembered from Caroline in the City.  I’m not sure the enjoyment will endure but it gets at least a few viewings in my schedule.  (Starts Oct. 1)

Bottom Line:

Here’s what I’m going to be watching:

8:00 – 9:00 – Chuck

9:00 – 10:00 – Heroes

10:00 – 11:00 – Journeyman

11:00 – 11:30 How I Met Your Mother

I’m going to record: Samantha Who?, Prison Break, K-Ville, Everybody Hates Chris and Aliens in America

I’m on the fence about The Big Bang Theory.

I absolutely will not be watching:  Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, 2 1/2 Men, Rules of Engagement, CSI: Miami, Girlfriends or The Game.


What I Watched on my Summer Vacation – Part III – TV News I Missed

September 7, 2007

Although I took a hiatus from writing about TV news, I sure didn’t stop following it.  Here are some of the big TV news announcements of the summer and my thoughts on them.

  • Veronica Mars Cancelled by the CW – Not a huge surprise but still a disappointment.  As much as I wasn’t crazy about season 3, especially the last few non-arc episodes, Veronica Mars was a great show.  I watched a couple of season 1 episodes this week now that it’s in syndication and all I have to say is that the first season truly was a brilliant feat in episodic storytelling and I’m going to miss it.  Of course what this paved the way for was…..
  • Kristin Bell joins the cast of Heroes – Fanboys went crazy at this news, myself included.  Veronica the superhero.  How cool is that!
  • The Sopranos ends with a black screen –  I admit I rewound the PVR a few times and swore at the TV.  At first I was disappointed with the ending but as I thought more about it I did appreciate the lack of closure as consistent with the uniqueness of the show.  Now a few months later I’m back to disappointed but still looking at the series as a whole it’s hard to be upset for long.  It will truly be remembered as one of the best shows to ever air.
  • Jericho gets renewed for a second season – After being cancelled by CBS, a network that has demonstrated little to no patience for a show that isn’t a procedural, a viewer campaign sending nuts to the network convinces the powers that be to renew the show.  I’m super happy about this.  After a very slow first half of the season (ironically, the half where the ratings were good), the second half began to kick butt with twists, turns, deaths and a compelling story that drew me in every week.  Even though it’s only been renewed for a few episodes to give it a chance this may be enough to ignore my initial bitterness and get me to watch a CBS show this year.
  • Battlestar Galactica is going to end after season 4 – I think it’s great that the show is already crafting an ending allowing it go out at the top of its game but I’m not ecstatic about the recent news that SciFi may spread the final 20 episodes over 2 years.  At this point I just want it to start.  January still seems a far way off.
  • Isaiah Washington fired from Grey’s Anatomy – Handled badly by all parties at the end of the day I just don’t care.
  • Emmy Nominations Announced – There isn’t much I can add to the confusion and outrage expressed by any one – critic, fan, etc – over the silly nominations.  No Friday Night Lights.  No The Wire.   No Lost.  No Battlestar Galactica.  Lots of Boston Legal and Two and a Half Men.  Do the nominators actually like TV?  I’m happy about the 30 Rock, Sopranos and Office nominations as well as Brothers & Sisters acting nominations.  Also not too disappointed by the absence of 24.  But what about The Shield and the brilliant Walton Goggins.  I guess this isn’t the year the Emmys become relevant.

Just a few highlights from the summer.  It’s great to be back.  My Fall Preview entries are coming next week.  Let me know your TV news highlights from the summer.


Heroes – Season 1, Episode 23 – How to Stop an Exploding Man

May 25, 2007

I’ll admit this episode wasn’t my favourite of the season.  It seemed to wrap things up a little too simply and had a few too many flaws for me.  Specifically why Sylar needed to confront Peter to get him to explode (was it to set himself up to replace Nathan in the future?) or why Peter couldn’t just fly off himself given his ability to absorb other heroes’ powers or why Hiro didn’t lob off Sylar’s head or why Parkman thought his mind reading power would be of value fighting Sylar.  Lots of holes.

Still, I love the show with its really rich mythology and there’s definitely some promise in the set up for next season.  The background that is being hinted at around the older age of Heroes is intriguing and I understand we’re going to see what happened to the previous generation next year.   I like that the show has its intricate background but still is able to end a season wrapping up most loose ends for the story (just like in comic books and on Buffy).  The characters may be a bit cartoonish but they are likable and I enjoy visiting with them every week.  That’s really all someone can ask for.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B-

Avi’s Season Rating: A-


The Past Week in TV

April 27, 2007

This week has been a little crazy for me and I haven’t had much time to write so I’m going to instead give some quick hits on what I’ve watched and what I thought.

24 – That’s it.  Despite writing last week that I was likely going to stick it out for the last few episodes of the season after this week’s borefest I’m done.  There is nothing redeeming remaining about this show and there are enough good shows to watch that I don’t have to distract myself with this crap.  Avi’s Episode Rating: C-

Heroes – The reason I don’t feel a need to waste cycles on 24.  After way too long a hiatus (that felt even longer because of the amazing previews) Heroes finally returned with death, action, answers and another crazy cliffhanger.  As a comic geek I have to admit that I let out a “cool” when I heard Linderman give us his Watchman-esque plan to save the world.  I followed that with a “wow” as Linderman and Mrs. Petrelli alluded to their time as heroes likely in some form of Golden Age Justice League (or Justice Society for you fellow comic fans).  The death of Isaac, Claire meeting her father, Nathan as the future president – all great moments that set us up for the final scene of Hiro in the future and next week’s glimpse into the future.  Avi’s Episode Rating: A

The Sopranos – I liked the first 2 episodes of the season better but I enjoyed Tony and Paulie’s amazing adventure although it does sadden me to see Junior’s story really coming to an end.  I’m still going to stick with my prediction that Tony is going to retire before the season ends.   Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

American Idol – I didn’t watch the performances this week and only saw part of Wednesday’s telethon but I have to question the decision to bring back Kelly Clarkson.  Backed by the legendary Jeff Beck she pretty much puts all of the contestants on this season (and most of the previous ones) to shame.  The only one with any commercial potential to be the next Kelly Clarkson is Jordin.  End rant.  Another good moment was the Simpsons scene where they judge Simon which had me crying I was laughing so loud.  Annie Lennox was pretty good too.

I’ll get back to writing more regularly for the next couple of days.


Heroes – Episode 17 – Company Man

February 26, 2007

I don’t want to write too much about this episode since it hasn’t aired for most of you.  For those of us fortunate enough to be in Canada and who couldn’t give a crap about the Oscars, this aired tonight.  Let me just say that if you are a Heroes fan, you do not want to miss this episode.  Not only do you get to find out lots of answers but it’s a hell of an exciting hour also. 

Stop reading now if you want to know nothing about what happens. 

OK you were warned.

Here are some of the questions we get answered:

  • What is HRG’s job? 
  • Who was HRG’s partner before the Haitian?
  • Who gave HRG Claire?
  • Why does HRG keep mindwiping heroes?
  • Who does HRG report to?
  • Is HRG really trying to protect Claire?
  • Who is HRG’s new partner going to be?
  • Is HRG responsible for giving heroes their powers?

I think that’s enough to whet your appetite.  Don’t forget to watch, you really won’t be sorry!!!

Avi’s Episode Rating: A+


What I Did on My Vacation – See Lots of TV Stars

February 1, 2007

While I was vacationing in Florida I took a side trip to the FX Show in Orlando. In addition to having lots of comics for me to buy there were also lots of celebrity guests. Here are some of the stars who were there. The Veronica Mars picture is actually from another convention but she was there and I’ve never posted it so here it is.

Me and Kristen Bell

Me and Kristen Bell

Firefly Panel

Firefly Panel

Sylar and the Cheerleader

The Cheerleader and Sylar
Believe it or not – The Greatest American Hero

The Greatest American Hero in the flesh


Top 10 TV Shows of 2006

January 1, 2007

 It’s been a great TV year.  I’ve spent the last few days making my list, watching the episodes twice all in preparation to give you my top 10 TV shows of 2006.  So without further ado…

1. The Wire – When this show completes its 5 year run after the next season, it will likely be the best show to ever air on television.  This doesn’t mean it will be my favourite – after all it’s not an easy or even particular entertaining show to watch compared to the typical TV fare.  It is, however, the most fascinating, compelling, best acted show ever and this season exceeded even the high bar set by past seasons with its examination of the Baltimore school system, the rise of the next generation corner boys and their leaders and a study of the politics of being mayor.  The thing I find most amazing about this show is its ability to juggle multiple storylines, a cast of 30+ actors – all leads and supporting at the same time – and the way it doesn’t force feed the viewer with simple, pat resolutions to complex situations.  This show is frequently compared to a great book in terms of its pace and complexity but for me The Wire would not be as brilliant in any other medium where the quick cut scenes and the power of the actors transcend any printed page.  I have to give a special shout out to the 4 actors playing Michael, Naymond, Duquan and Randy.  Their performances gave their stories the gravity and heart that made this season one of the best.  It’s going to be a long wait to find out what happens next.

2. The Shield – I’m shocked that I haven’t seen this show on that many best of lists from this year.  In its fifth season, The Shield was at its best, using the unbelievable Forrest Whitaker to paint our Strike Team into a corner from which they did not emerge unscathed.  Bringing to a head all of the storylines from the previous 4 seasons, including the amazing pilot episode, the season concluded with a moment that I saw coming and couldn’t believe was happening at the same time, changing the show forever and setting the groundwork for the new season.  What more could a viewer ask for!

3. The Office – It’s blasphamy to say this in many TV circles but the US version of The Office has now surpassed the original in my books.  I could mention the obvious moment of the past year – the season ending kiss between Jim and Pam which was the best season finale of last year.  I could mention the amazing Steve Carell who brilliantly can be an incompetent buffoon one minute and an effective regional manager who has the loyalty of his staff the next.  I could talk about all of the great episodes from the past year balancing laughs, cringe-worthy moments and emotional scenes simultaneously.  Instead I’m going to focus on what truly has made this show unique from its British counterpart – the amazing work that has been done to make the supporting characters integral parts of the show.  This show would not be as great as it is without Stanley, Kevin, Angela, Creed, Phyllis, Kelly, Oscar, Toby, Roy and new additions Ed Helms and Rashida Jones.  Every week this is my favourite show to watch and I’m sure this won’t change in 2007.

4. Battlestar Galactica – I watched the entire series since the summer and all I have to say is wow!!!  It’s hard not to agree with the mainstream critics who say that this isn’t just great sci-fi but great drama that should appeal to everyone.  2006 saw some brilliant moments for this show including the introduction of Pegasus, the birth of the first Cylon-Human baby and the truly game changing season 2.5 finale which jumped ahead a year in the settlement and Cylon occupation of New Caprica.  I love how the show is able to paint its characters into difficult situations that seem to have no solution and no easy answers, often forcing them to make hard decisions.   Unfortunately this means sometimes the show has to take an easy way out sometimes (Roslin’s cancer, death of Admiral Cain for example).  Still week after week the show is excellent, character driven, action packed TV.

5. Heroes – Although we’re only 11 episodes in, I have high hopes for this show.  As I’ve written before I’m a comic fan so I was somewhat predisposed to either love the show or hate it with nothing in between.  I’m glad it turned out to be the former with great characters, fun mysteries with forward momentum every single week, great villains and cliffhangers galore.  It’s still a little early to know if this show will have the staying power to be great in its 2nd and 3rd seasons but for now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

6.  Everwood – An unfortunate casualty of the WB-UPN merger (One Tree Hill and 7th Heaven, don’t make me laugh), Everwood was able to wrap up its storylines in a way that not only pleased fans of the show but was consistent with the way we expect the characters we’ve come to love over the show’s 5 seasons to behave.  It also served as an amazing bookend to the first season with Andy talking to his wife, Amy’s grand gesture to win back Ephram, Nina and Andy getting together, Ephram finding his calling in Everwood and the Brown family at peace with their past and future.  Here’s hoping the rest of the series makes its way to DVD very soon.

7.  Friday Night Lights – It’s appropriate that this show follows my previous favourite family drama on this list.  Friday Night Lights has a richness in its stories of the people who make up the Dillon Panthers and the community that worships them, that doesn’t exist on any other show today.  The characters are 3 dimensional with the actors who play them transcending their archetypes of the dumb jock, the arrogant jock, the tough coach, the newbie quarterback and the hot cheerleader.  Like Everwood, this is a show about a town and the families in it.  Jason Street is a definite standout in the cast and I also have to acknowledge the show’s matter of fact integration of religion into its fabric which contrasts with the heavy handed portrayal in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. 

8. The Sopranos – After starting with a bang, the show kind of meandered a bit as it ended the first 1/2 of the 6th season.  Still, The Sopranos remains event television and Edie Falco truly did the work of her career this season as her character finally acknowledged the life she’s led with Tony.  Gandolfini also had amazing moments especially his interactions with AJ.  Those who thought it wasn’t violent enough or moved a little too slow don’t hold much weight with me.  I have high hopes that Chase and company will bring this show to the conclusion it justly deserves.

9. Veronica Mars – I’m not sure if I’m crazy yet about the new format of shorter story arcs but Veronica Mars continues to uniquely mix teenage angst with family drama and film noir each and every week.  Last May’s finale was one of the best edge of your seat episodes ever wrapping up old storylines and showing why the characters on this show have us tuning in. 

10. Lost – I worry about Lost and season 3 to date hasn’t made me feel more confident that the show knows where its going or will be brought to any form of resolution.  However, as long as Abrams, Cuse et al continue to include jaw dropping moments like Michael shooting Ana Lucia and Libby, the destruction of the hatch and the introduction of the Others I can forgive some of the weaker moments and the limited story momentum.  Concept wise I still love the show including the formula that mixes flashbacks with life on the island and I’m glad ABC decided to run it uninterrupted for the duration of the season since the frequent reruns last year didn’t help with momentum issues.  It remains true escapist TV entertainment and I hope the remainder of season 3 is as good as the fantastic back half of season 2.

Honourable Mentions: I’m going to give an honourable mention to Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and Dexter.  All were great this year but making a list is about drawing lines and this is where drew it.


Best of TV 2006 – Best New Show

December 20, 2006

Here are my nominees for the Best New Show of 2006.  Remember the nominees are my picks based on my favourite shows of the year, hence the omission of Ugly Betty which despite it getting lots of love from critics is likely going to make my worst of list.  Also, the show must have actually be on for the full season so ones that have been cancelled are ineligible.

Now on with the nominees:

  • 30 Rock (NBC)
  • Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
  • Friday Night Lights (NBC)
  • Heroes (NBC)
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

30 Rock is one of those shows that has grown on me as the season has progressed.  I watched the first couple of episodes and found them okay but not great.  But all of a sudden something started to click with me in particular the brilliance of Alec Baldwin, the over the top a little goes a long way Tracey Morgan and the sarcasticly hysterical Tina Fey.  Throw in Dean Winters as Tina Fey’s girl friend and we’re nearing perfection.  Now that it’s been added to probably the best Thursday night comedy lineup ever it’s drawing power is compounded.  Only place it loses marks is the annoying Jane Krakowski.

Brothers & Sisters started off horribly.  I liked the cast generally (especially the amazing Sally Field) but just found that after the first few weeks I really didn’t care about their stories.  Then something changed and his name is Greg Berlanti fresh off the fantastic and still missed Everwood.  He took over and suddenly the show seemed to have some soul as the relationships between the characters started to matter and their interactions took centre stage.  Still, as much as I’ve come to enjoy the series when I watch, I don’t particularly miss it between episodes.

I’ve written multiple times about my love for Friday Night Lights.  I can tell you right now that this show will be on my best of the year list.  It’s as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking often in the same episode.  Kyle Chandler’s performance is dynamic and understated and I need to highlight the actor playing Jason Street as truly the best find of the year.

Heroes is also a shoo in for my best of the year list.   I’m a comic book geek so I came into this show with high expectations that were greatly exceeded.  11 weeks in and the originally separated and unbelievably interesting characters (with Hiro as the breakout) are starting to intertwine around interesting mysteries (Save the Cheerleader, Are you on the List) with weekly cliffhangers that leave you anxious for the next episode.  This show is going to be a huge hit on DVD and will likely result in many viewing marathons.  After this year’s lackluster and meandering Lost season, this show has become the must see serialized drama.  I can’t believe it’s another month until it starts again.

I’ve put Studio 60 on the list because I think it still holds promise.  Still, it’s my disappointment of the year.  I loved the pilot but the episodes since haven’t lived up to the premise.  There have been many moments of brilliance and the few episodes before the break (since the John Goodman episodes) have started to pick up steam.  I still detest the Harriet character and the show’s preachy approach to religion that seems to be a talking point in every episode.  (Contrast this heavy handed approach with the intelligent integration of religion as a backdrop in Friday Night Lights.)  As I write this I need to acknowledge that maybe this show shouldn’t be on my list.  If I had time to watch Dexter perhaps this show would have been replaced with what I hear is a great program.

And the winner is:

  • Heroes (NBC) with Friday Night Lights being a close runner up.