Mr. Dickens, Meet Mr. Twain. Miss Hannah, Meet Mr. Spock. Agt. Scully, Meet Mr. Dickens.

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Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Holiday, Movies, Television, Travel

Greetings and salutations, cats! Gorgeous winter days still on the San Diego coast. So lovely, in fact, Dr. Lucy, Little Lindy and I have been whizzing around Coronado Isle in a juicy little breezer some wheat left running outside The Del. Fellow ghosties, want to cause some trouble? If you can get out of your haunt -I can for short bursts- snag a convertible, throw on a scarf and buzz the burg. Coppers won’t know from nothing when they see an empty flivver with nothing but fluttering silk flying down the flug! If you can get to a casino in that breezer for a little hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps (a separate, sipping glass for the schnapps) over a hand or two of invisible poker, even better!

Note to all wheats: don't leave it running! Photo: J.S. Devore

Speaking of winter and wagers, I’ll bet more than a few of you reading this are winter babies. The birthday season is as bonkers as the Hollywood awards season right now! I’m guessing Spring Fever manifests itself in more than just a good dusting and cleaning. A little May Day barney-mugging, anyone? Zowie!

Walt Disney, Woody Allen, Edgar Allen Poe,  James Joyce, John Steinbeck, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and funny enough, apropos to my situation, both Charles Lindbergh and one Miss Ida Lupino -that hoofer being the reason I’m here at The Del forever- share a February 4th birthday. As monumental, literary birthdays go though, today marks a doozy: the bicentenary of the midnight birth of one Charles John Huffman Dickens. All the world has its knickers in a bunch over this one, Dr. Lucy and Moi included. We’ve been up since the midnight hour celebrating and let me tell you, Lucy’s knickers are in more than a bunch; she’s plum in love with Mr. Dickens! She’s just bonkers for anything Victorian, has read The Old Curiosity Shop nearly a hundred times and has decided to head back home, up San Francisco way, this Christmas to partake in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party, in full costume of course. She’s also trying to revive the practice of mutton chops. Few have the personality and the face to pull off the fluffy, Victorian sideburn; but those who can, should!

Sorry, Lucy. He’s taken. Photo: J.S.Devore
As it happens, Dr. Lucy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Highmore & Hazel Devereaux of San Francisco, were quite the lucky ducks and actually attended a public reading by Charles Dickens himself in 1868, during his second U.S. reading tour, at Steinway Hall in New York! What’s the topper to that? They were seated right next to one Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain at the theater! According to Lucy, to this day Highmore & Hazel still regale the tale of the Big Apple Happenin’s to anyone whom will listen. Wouldn’t you? Mark Twain and Charles Dickens in one go? Wild stuff! Twain found Dickens’ oration remarkable enough to write about and the San Francisco Alta California found that account interesting enough to publish. Lucy’s dapper pop has saved his copy ever since and still reads dramatically from it at all social gatherings.

 

Quoth Twain of Dickens:

 

He strode — in the most English way and exhibiting the most English general style and appearance — straight across the broad stage, heedless of everything, unconscious of everybody, turning neither to the right nor the left — but striding eagerly straight ahead, as if he had seen a girl he knew turn the next corner. He brought up handsomely in the centre and faced the opera glasses. His pictures are hardly handsome, and he, like everybody else, is less handsome than his pictures. That fashion he has of brushing his hair and goatee so resolutely forward gives him a comical Scotch-terrier look about the face, which is rather heightened than otherwise by his portentous dignity and gravity. But that queer old head took on a sort of beauty, bye and bye, and a fascinating interest, as I thought of the wonderful mechanism within it, the complex but exquisitely adjusted machinery that could create men and women, and put the breath of life into them and alter all their ways and actions, elevate them, degrade them, murder them, marry them, conduct them through good and evil, through joy and sorrow, on their long march from the cradle to the grave, and never lose its godship over them, never make a mistake! I almost imagined I could see the wheels and pulleys work. This was Dickens — Dickens.

"That fashion he has of brushing his hair and goatee so resolutely forward gives him a comical Scotch-terrier look about the face." -Mark Twain Charles Dickens Photo: U.S. Nat'l Archives

If you read Twain’s entire account, you’ll note he wasn’t nearly as taken with Dickens’ delivery as he was with his attaboy writing: Mr. Dickens’ reading is rather monotonous, as a general thing; his voice is husky; his pathos is only the beautiful pathos of his language — there is no heart, no feeling in it — it is glittering frostwork.

Orating the written word is, in my experience, a difficult act to undertake, and endure. Ever listen to NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac? That’s some tough gum to chew! No matter how jazzy the wordsmithing, it’s meant to be read silently or performed, not taken as a dry recitation, like a spoonful of cinnamon, and especially not by the writers themselves. Very few can do justice to their own bon mots. Funny story, in fact, if not loosely related.

I floated myself up to the City of Angels one evening back in the early-Naughties for a celebrity, short-story reading at The Getty Center.  A week-long event, I chose to attend the night that the cat’s pajamas of cerebral celebs was reading: Leonard Nimoy! Well, wouldn’t you know it? I got there, looking smashing in a chiffon, beaded Nikki tea dress, feathered headband and hot pink ankle booties, and that darned management had changed the line-up: John Lithgow would now be reading selections. Selections from what, I can’t recall. Now, I do love me some John Lithgow, but I was there for Spock and anyone who tends to sign off their texts, tweets and jaw-flapping with an LLAP knows Lithgow just won’t do when Nimoy is in one’s sights. (Sorry, Dr. Solomon.)

Already in Brentwood and not about to turn down free museum booze, I settled contentedly into an empty seat in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium … until a plump Betty with a nasty, Rachel Maddow, barber cut came and sat on me. (Ghost tip: never arrive too early for public functions. Wait until curtain for a truly empty seat.) Once I was finally nestled in my own plush, velvet cushion and Lithgow commenced to orate, I became raw-ther bored, raw-ther quickly. Scanning the hall for this n’ that, I saw what a sartorial mess L.A. can be. Sure, there were a few snazzy twists out there, dolled up in their glad rags; but there were also a lot of slugburgers. Gentlemen, jeans and tees, no matter how expensive or in vogue, are not appropriate evening wear … even just to listen to someone read.

Nimoy at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper Ft. Lauderdale. Even in the '70s, decidedly not a slugburger! Photo: FL State Archives

Anyhoo, as I was marveling at some woman’s long overdue, salt-and-pepper roots, another noggin caught my peripheral vision: a closely buzzed, peach fuzzy head of sharp and intelligent proportions. Lo and behold, in the row below me and three seats to my left sat Mr. Leonard Nimoy! Applesauce! I was done for! I spent the rest of the night sitting on the lap of some boorish, old, art history wanker from U.S.C. (Lucky him and he didn’t even know it!) and rubbing Spock’s skull with my flat hand and breathing lightly into his ears: not pointed in real life. He never even twitched, by the way. That is one cool butter n’ egg man!

Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock Photo: BBC

So, long way around … Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Dickens! Dr. Lucy, Little Lindy and I have been celebrating the birth of your brain since the stroke of midnight this February 7th, starting with a Netflix marathon of the BBC production of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson, a.k.a. Agent Scully. Talk about a snazzy twist! We followed that up with a version of Nicholas Nickleby featuring the resplendent and beauteous Anne Hathaway and the modernized iteration of Great Expectations with the ever-regal Gwenyth Paltrow. Tonight, we shall wrap up your filmic fete with an Old Hollywood viewing event: A Tale of Two Cities and Mystery of Edwin Drood, both 1935 productions. We shall end the night honouring you, the man whom once took the pseudonym of Boz (Who uses pseudonyms, anyhoo?) with what Lucy and I equally believe to be the single greatest testament and flattery to your remarkable chef d’oeuvres: A Muppet Christmas Carol!

Thank you for letting me be a part of this!  -Rizzo, A Muppet Christmas Carol

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Love Leonard Nimoy, too? Send Hannah a happy LLAP @JennyPopNet!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

Torchwood: Miracle Day – Is It Truly A Miracle That Torchwood Is Back?

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Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

 

 

I have always been a fan of all things Torchwood, and I have been awaiting this program eagerly since I first heard of its return last year. I will say I was not a huge fan of the last Torchwood Series, Torchwood: Children of the Earth. I felt it was very dark, like most Torchwood, but lost something with the execution. For Torchwood: Miracle Day, I was not expecting too much, being brought over to America, and I guess I can say, I still feel the same way to an extent.

 The episode started off great, with the CIA doing research work on Torchwood, and then everything going blank. I also noticed some links from the scenes with Oswald Danes, played by the always incredible Bill Pullman. Maybe it’s just me, but they did say that the time he was convicted of the murder was around the same time Gwen (Eve Myles) joined Torchwood. Things that make you go hmmm!

 I do like the series so far. I think the best new character introduced is Rex Matheson, played by Mekhi Phifer. He had probably the best line, forgive me if it is a bit misquoted, “What is it; Wales is the British equivalent of New Jersey?” He tended to get the best lines. I can really see him and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) constantly butting heads.

I am so glad they brought back Rhys (Kai Owen). Gwen is embracing motherhood, which I was really not sure would happen. Also, I enjoyed Captain Jack’s meeting with Ester Drummond (Alexa Havins), and giving her Retcon, which seemed to give her about the same effects as Gwen experienced the first time she was given the drug. I can definitely see some flirtation going on between them!

I think the show has a decent beginning, sticking to the basics, but giving nods to the fans with references to the 456 case, and some other comments on the show. They introduced an interesting concept. Now we will see more of the execution, involving my favorite character, Captain Jack Harkness. I will write again after a few more episodes, and hopefully we will see some great Torchwood action!

Watch new episodes, Fridays at 10pm ET
For more information about Torchwood: Miracle Day, visit the official Starz website.

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Finale

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Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

Erin Willard reviews the latest episode of Primeval. Airing on BBCAmerica, Primeval indulges sci-fi fans with a prehistoric twist.

 

Photo courtesy of BBCAmerica.

 

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

What a great finale!  Well, if you watched series 3.  If not, all of the impact of Danny’s return and Ethan’s identity was lost on you and, well, I’m sorry.  It was brave, or at least an interesting choice of the showrunners to take that tack – did they not care about new viewers, or was this a lovely gift for the faithful? 

As a faithful who was fairly disappointed with series 3, I was taken completely by surprise and delighted to see Danny return through the anomaly.  And WOW what a great twist to have Ethan be his long lost brother!  I frankly don’t remember how often it came up in the third series that Danny’s missing brother was the reason he joined the police force, beyond the introductory episode. Hopefully, I wasn’t the only one to have a great “OMG!” moment when Ethan’s identity was revealed.

So, Helen is definitely dead, according to Danny.  Given his reappearance, it’s nice to have her, literally and figuratively, laid to rest.  But the memory of her character will apparently live on, since she had several documents in her hand (excuse me?) and Phillip’s name was on every one… Okay, that could be interesting. 

Phillip was wonderfully creepy with his “Danny seemed erratic to me” line.  It was very reminiscent of Doctor Who’s “Doesn’t she look tired” line about Harriet Jones, eventually causing her downfall.  Danny was lucky, if you can say it, that he decided to follow and protect his brother, and protect others from him, thereby sparing himself from whatever devious plans Phillip may have had for him. 
When Primeval returns, Danny and Ethan/ Patrick could certainly return, but if they don’t, it was nice to have that storyline tied up so nicely.

Interesting setting, the retired prison.  So convenient that the anomalies seem to always appear in remote locations.  Regardless, it was a nice and creepy, multilevel classic-for-hunt/chase site.  As for the anomalies themselves, Connor’s toy was a solid upgrade to the ARC’s anomaly tracking abilities.  I loved his line when he found that an anomaly had a date from the 1800′s and they shouldn’t be worried – expecting no creatures, except maybe an “Oliver Twistasaurus.”  The anomalies occurring more frequently and developing twins was a neat effect, especially as it made some of them undetectable – another cool revision. 

More to build on is always good news for this type of show. Was anyone really surprised that Matt is from the future?  No more than I was surprised, meaning not, that the mystery man was Matt’s father.  Honestly, we’ve seen this already, not only in movies like the ”Terminator” series, but in this very show, with the extremely scary creatures from the future we saw during the last series. Yes, yes, the future will be horrible, all because of one man, blah blah blah.  Could be Phillip, could be Connor, we’ll just have to see.

The strength of the Danny/Ethan reveal and the changes in the anomalies outweighed the “meh” response I had to the Matt part of the story, and I hope we will see more of this when the show returns later this year. 

Overall, a very well done season finale, and a return to the level of season 1.  Here’s hoping for more of the same.

Thanks to Simply Television for sharing this review by @Loster21

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 6

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Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

Erin Willard reviews the latest episode of Primeval. Airing on BBCAmerica, Primeval indulges sci-fi fans with a prehistoric twist.

 

Photo courtesy of BBCAmerica.

 

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

 

Now that I have decided to see this show as one that, as a friend says, demands that it not be taken seriously, I am enjoying it more.  I have to laugh, though – the poor wedding planner gets eaten in the first few minutes and is never even mentioned again?  That is just patently unfair.  She wasn’t even wearing a red shirt.

After the prologue we were greeted with another mystery man scene.  If you are a LOST fan you have probably, like me, decided that the terminal mystery man (whom we now know was Matt’s father, not a big shocker) is Daniel Faraday’s uncle.  The man looks and acts so much like Dan, and I suspect he’s a time traveler… but now he’s gone, and I must let go and move on.

Speaking of mysterious characters, what the heck is Ethan’s story?  As Lester pointed out, he’s from 1901 but can drive a car and seems perfectly at home in 2011.  If he’s found he’ll be sent to prison in 2011, presumably for kidnapping.  That would be an interesting trial… According to old police records, he was a “notorious anarchist” back in the day, and used to stake out buildings before breaching them.  Through this information Becker is able to find his lair.  Hmmm, really?  Ok, right, stepping back and enjoying it for what it is.  And why not.  It was nicely creepy to have Ethan visit his old home, remembering a voice telling him he had to help his brother, and telling the woman “I’m not that boy!”  Not a bad set up for future scenes.

Just one irritating thing for Connor this week, and it was early on, when he started chatting about Emily.  Unfortunate, too, because that came right after the very nicely creepy “it’s stalking us” line by Matt.  Abby got irritated by Connor but turned to him to tell him to be quiet, allowing Connor to save her from the charging dog-like creature.  That move by Connor redeemed the immediately preceding silliness, thank goodness.  The mention of getting married was cute, and Jenny’s suggestion that he actually ask Abby to marry him before planning the wedding was equally cute.  Speaking of which…

Jenny!  It was lovely to see her again (though I still wish she were still Claudia), and I hope it didn’t throw off too many new viewers.  For we veterans it was nice to see her back, and I believe equally nice that they didn’t recruit her back to the ARC and that she was allowed to get married.  There were so many places where they could have put a foot wrong with that storyline, and I’m happy to see that they managed it so nicely.  Other than, of course, having the wedding take place at all when creatures were roaming, and having ARC personnel attend the wedding instead of being appropriately armed and keeping guard against the creatures.  I did love that the women – Abby, Emily, and Jenny – did particularly well against the creatures with the weapons at hand.  Quite nicely done.

Emily’s story wasn’t very exciting this week, I hope we had some need to know that she was in an arranged marriage.  Primeval is no Downton Abbey.  Talking with Emily, however, did give Matt a chance to tell her that “something is going to happen with the anomalies,” very ominous if not terribly shocking.

Jess was slightly less annoying this week.  It was silly for her to bring snacks to Becker, but ok, she has a crush.  She was really quite brave to stay with him and defuse the bomb, and gave Becker and us to see the brave and tenacious side of her character.

Overall a satisfactory episode when viewed from the stop-taking-it-so-seriously-it’s-not-LOST vantage point.  I am even quite possibly looking forward to the next episode.

First published by Simply Television on 1/29/11

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 5

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Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

Erin Willard reviews the latest episode of Primeval. Airing on BBCAmerica, Primeval indulges sci-fi fans with a prehistoric twist.

 

Photo courtesy of BBCAmerica

Photo courtesy of BBCAmerica.

 

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

 

Oh YAY it was better!  Far fewer ridiculous lines, most of the time spent investigating, another decent-looking and -sounding monster, and – could it be? – movement on the Matt/Mystery Man front, tying in with Ethan!  Please don’t get our hopes up for nothing… But as for this week’s episode:

The BlairWitch-style opening was fun, and added a bit of something different to open the programme.  I was pleased that they are continuing, in an admittedly very minor way, to show that these incursions are actually being noticed, and it harkens back to the other good episode of the season, with Connor’s geeky friend.

“Creepy village people” is a hackneyed element but one that hadn’t yet to my recollection been used by the series, so
no discredit there.  They did drag it out a bit longer than necessary in the pub, but mercifully only for a few extra beats. It was nice that they were able to add a new twist to the anomalies by having one affected by chemical dumping, and somewhat easier by having that dumping done by villagers.   Perhaps it was a little too pat to have the perpetrators get eaten, but as they do have a number of storylines to work on, adding “prosecuting villagers for homicide through creature” would be more than this show could manage at this point.

I’m hoping that the reason that Phillip doesn’t want Connor in the field is a good one… “the animals are a distraction.”  Given his suspicious behaviour, it wasn’t clear if Phillip’s stated interest in the anomalies was itself a distraction from his clear animosity towards the animals, but this episode seemed to support that he is indeed focused on the anomalies.  I wonder if we’re supposed to wonder why he took over Jess’s spot and how he was able to make the anomaly appear, if that is in fact what he did.

Connor is still being written as goofy.  I am hopeful that, as things at Prospero become suspicious as they most surely will, the showrunners and writers will do something interesting with Connor.  He’s extremely bright and survived a year in the cretaceous period; surely they can do something with that.  Nice moment when we thought Abby might have been eaten… “Don’t shoot, there’s petrol everywhere” was good, “they just want to go home” was not.

Still hating the ridiculous way they write for Jess.  Is she smart, or is she not?  I’m starting to dread her appearances.

“I should be out there looking for them both.  This Ethan guy is dangerous.”  An example that the actual lines are still pretty dismal.  But it’s nice that they have Matt finally concerned with quickly locating a man he was told was a homicidal maniac.  Which brings me to another good part:

I LOVED the twist about Ethan, it’s great that they’re making something out of that group-of-travelers storyline.  It had good potential which was seemingly disregarded in its first two episodes.  Maybe they were trying to lull us into a state of not expecting anything interesting, which made the twist all the more surprising.  “I am the future, I am the past” was nicely creepy, and “I’m gonna make them see what I’ve seen, and suffer like I’ve suffered” was somewhat intriguing.  They are going to have to work hard, though, to escape this being a rewrite of the Helen story.  It was reassuring that the Mystery Man referenced her in this episode.  It felt like a nod to those of us who’ve watched the whole series, a confirmation that they realise we are wary of a revisit of the single-person-troublemaker scenario. 

We didn’t have the Mystery Man last week, but he was back for some crucial lines in this episode.  So, Ethan may be responsible for destroying the world?  “One life above billions of others…  Ethan is to blame for what happened… This has never been about fighting an army.  This isn’t about battles, money, power… it’s about one person with enough knowledge to bring down the entire world.”  Could it be that they really will tie this all together?  Or maybe it isn’t Ethan, maybe it’s Phillip.  Or Connor, for that matter.

Overall I was pleased that this episode had some good elements, and I’m hopeful that it will continue to get better.  There is so much potential here.

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 4

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Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

Photo courtesy of BBCAmerica

cross posted at Simply Television

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

The creatures in this episode looked and sounded very cool. When you want to watch a show like Primeval, you’re most likely going to be looking for cool creatures and effects. Well hooray, these were really pretty good. They moved well, the skin was well done, the sounds were interesting. They even did a nice job of piling them up when they were sleeping in a small space. I didn’t even mind too much when they used footage more than once. I haven’t re-checked but it certainly did look like it had been done, and more than once. But again, the CGI was done so well even that cost-cutting measure can be almost entirely overlooked. If you’re watching only for the effects, you will likely be pleased, if not overwhelmed, with this episode. Now for the rest of us…

Directing and editing were good this week, as the chase scenes moved along well enough, and I did feel a certain amount of tension on more than one occasion during the hunt/chase scenes of the episode. The writing, I’m sorry to say, was still a giant load of dinosaur droppings, right from the start of the episode. How in the world did the creature
 get inside of the machine? We even saw the outlet and didn’t see the creature, which was obviously ten times too big to fit into the machine without sticking out the back. The students leave the classroom even though their teacher said he’d be back in one minute. Sure, they’re rule-breakers, but really? They don’t even say, “Hey, Mr. Teacher has been gone for longer than a minute.” When the boys are running from the creature, why don’t they just hide in the lockers as they did earlier in the episode? When Becker found five of the creatures, inexplicably SLEEPING just this side of the anomaly, what does he do? Does he zap them while they’re safely sleeping? No. HE STEPS INTO THE CENTER OF THE GROUP. To – what? Get a better view? And hey, now that we’ve rescued the boys, let’s not get them outside to safety. Let’s employ them to help. I must say, if Becker had been killed, the show would have been as well. He’s the one seemingly-normal one in the group; he’s the constant. Kudos for NOT killing him.

The whole woman-from-the-past/Ethan story line is nearly intolerable. Ethan is homicidal, but no need to rush into finding him, we’ve already waited overnight, let’s have some coffee first. “I prefer tea.” Oh for God’s sake, really? Oh no worries, HERE’S ETHAN NOW, who has somehow been able to find woman-from-the-past. Inside a building. Upstairs inside a building. I have a tiny bit of hope that they can explain it, but they better do a good job and do it fast. And don’t get me started on how well his jeans fit her, though that’s not a writing issue, it’s just silliness.

Philip could be an excellent, closet-malevolent character, but they keep denying him the opportunity because the story lines are so underdeveloped. No one seems to be suspicious of him, despite last episode when he changed the security system so only he could override a lockdown. In this episode, they’re shocked and saddened that he wants to kill all the animals. Come on, HE’S HEAD OF THE SCIENCE DEPARTMENT. Does he not want to have someone, oh I dunno, STUDY THEM? The patents that could potentially be derived from the studies would alone fund the project for years. Lester was able to change Philip’s mind, pointing out that once word got out about what he had done, Philip would be known as “Burton the Dinosaur Killer”. Meaning that maybe SOMEONE would think they should have been studied instead of destroyed. But not, apparently, anyone at the ARC; they just feel sorry for the creatures. And here’s another thing: in last week’s episode Connor called him an idiot for not training him properly. In this episode Connor called him the most brilliant man in the world. It’s just so frustrating to see them flailing around at this.

Jess’ character is still irritating. She was willing to stop and talk to Abby while in the middle of helping Connor WHO WAS IN DANGER OF BEING EATEN. But hey, Abby needs to talk to her. Really? REALLY?

Oh, Lester. I like Lester. I like the way they’ve written for him. I find it so interesting that the character we all hated in previous seasons and who was mostly a caricature of the snarling bureaucrat is now the one for whom they save their best writing work. Maybe because he has so few lines.

At this point, I blame the show-runners. If they are not telling the writers to write to the lowest common denominator, then they should be stopping them from doing so. They toss in a little bit of a sexual reference to make sure we don’t think it’s actually a kid’s show. Honestly, if they didn’t, I’d suspect wrong programming. I would say it was brave of them to have the school-aged girl killed by a creature. But really, I’m starting to think it’s brave of them to continue to produce this show and NOT claim that it’s for school-aged viewers.

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 3

Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

 

So, did the rebooted series continue its upward trend in writing quality?  The opening sequence?  Absolutely.  The following ten minutes or so was worrisome but had potential, which was crushed by the horrible writing throughout the balance of the episode.  Infuriatingly horrible.  The kind of writing that at best has me sighing with disappointment, and at its nadir has me yelling at the screen, “WHAT?  WHAT?!!”

First, kudos for what I did like, after the opening sequence.  Loved the theatre, and all the sets and locations.  Loved the time travellers’ costumes and hair.  Loved the new creature – “arborial raptor” or “tree creeper” depending on your era - from a distance. Also loved the sound the creature made.  Unfortunately the creature in closer scenes looked ridiculously like a person in a well-made lizard suit. We were given some potentially interesting information from the Matt/Mystery Man conversation this week, who we learned is terminal.  I found what I felt were key lines:

(MM to Matt): “You’re close now.”
(Matt to MM): “Might be Phillip, might be Connor… Someone could be dangerous without knowing it.”
(Matt): “Was it worth it, your whole life just waiting?”
(MM): “Of course, think what’s at stake!”

Hmmm…. here’s hoping that the danger is something worthwhile.

The next scene with the time travellers was fairly well written; the “it’s what Charlotte would have wanted, she understood the rules” had a nice sense of mystery and promise.  Then WOW did the episode go shockingly and relentlessly downhill after that.  Matt ran into the anomaly after the woman, BUT FIRST TOOK OFF HIS TRACKING DEVICE.  Because… I’m sorry, there’s no credible reason.  Becker refused to believe that Matt had gone into the anomaly and continued to look for Matt in the theatre for an exceedingly long amount of time because… Matt knew the rules and wouldn’t do that?  Becker simultaneously didn’t want another team member to die but thought it best to leave a team member on the other side?  And this delay allowed us to experience such great lines as “this is Matt we’re talking about”?

And the whole ARC lockdown was nearly intolerable.  If it turns out that Phillip is being extra protective of Connor because he is secretly Connor’s father, I may have to start campaigning for the immediate cessation of filming.  I cannot fathom an explanation for why Phillip reprogrammed the system so that he was the only person who could stop the lockdown procedure.  He is meant to be brilliant.  Even if he intends to have every creature killed, it doesn’t explain why he would have made that change in programming at any point earlier than the last possible moment.  And some of the worst lines: “How long do I have, Jess?”  YOU WROTE THE PROGRAM.  “This could look really bad on my cv.”  HAR HAR, WHAT A LARF.  And Connor’s reply to Phillip’s potential reveal about New Dawn – “Now’s not the time for last words.”  The whole thing was just a mess.  To have that storyline concluded with Phillip calling Connor brilliant for being able to break through his unpenetrable firewall – BECAUSE IT WAS CONNOR’S SYSTEM AND CONNOR’S TRAP DOOR.  Connor wasn’t more brilliant than any other computer hacker, he just happened to have access BECAUSE HE BUILT THE ORIGINAL SYSTEM.  Really, what a phenomenal waste of writing.  Surely they could have come up with some better way to show the suspicious behaviour of Phillip and a reference to New Dawn than this.

Then there’s the woman, and the creature.  I’m meh about the Group of 15 who apparently spend their lives going through anomalies trying to find a way back home.  There is potential for something good there, but did we really need a whole new group to deal with, along with the mostly-new cast, new ARC, and at least two mysteries (Phillip’s whatever-he’s-doing and Matt’s whatever-he’s-secretly-investigating)?  Becker wants to turn her in – to whom?  Why would they not take her to the ARC?  Why wouldn’t at least certain hospital staff understand the issue about the anomalies?  If the ARC isn’t going to have a big enough medical staff to cope with injuries (presumed, since Matt took her to a hospital instead of directly to the ARC, WHERE A MEDIC IS ON STAFF, as we saw once the locked down room was opened in the ARC debacle.  The number of inconsistencies in all of this makes me think, with a shudder, that this will be the new fun in watching this show: How Many Easily Avoidable Inconsistencies Can We Find This Week?

One just has to laugh at exchanges like the one between the woman and Matt while trying to take down the creature: “Shoot it!”  “It’s out of range…”  “Shoot it!”  Hello?  IT’S OUT OF RANGE.  And hmm, why was Matt standing so close to the glass that the creature could obviously have gone through?  To make for a wonderful chance for the woman to save Matt, of course!  And how she did it was totally unclear.  And yes, let’s tie up the creature, it could never possibly escape… Oh no, it’s escaping!  What an eye roller.  I did, however, laugh out loud at the creature looking exactly like a piece of road kill.

Which brings us to the worst writing of all.  Matt TAKES THE WOMAN HOME.  She desperately wants to return to her group, but heck, let’s just wait until tomorrow.  And better yet, we’re all in danger while Ethan’s out on the loose, he’s a homicidal maniac, so by all means, LET’S LOOK FOR HIM TOMORROW.  If we go now, we might be able to find him more easily, and send you on your way home, missy, so yes, LET’S JUST WAIT.

Honestly, just abysmal, and that poor writing completely overshadowed everyone else’s fine efforts in this production.  Please oh please, someone tell the writing staff that it’s okay to do better.  We, the viewing public, are ready.

No favorite lines, obviously.

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 2

1

Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

 

Oh, excellent!  I love it when shows actually get better after their first episode.  Given the very long hiatus and the reorganization, the series 4 premiere might as well have been a pilot, and it was a woefully uneven one.  Episode two was much better, primarily because it focused on the creature and the chase.  The fact that a creature was on the loose and that the ARC had no idea about it was handled deftly, which made me respect the writers more.  Flushed down the toilet as a baby creature well before the ARC was created, and killing homeless people and therefore going unnoticed was a two-part explanation that worked for me.  I also enjoyed the way it was detected, by Connor doing online research, which absolutely suited his character.  Bringing back one of Connor’s old friends was a nice touch, because it gave us, and Connor, an opportunity to see what might have become of Connor had he not been brought into the project when it began a few years ago.

I loved that Connor was allowed to act in a much more mature manner than in the previous episode.  He and Abby had lived in extremely harsh circumstances for a year, which should have had quite a maturing effect, so when he tried to capture the creature himself in the last episode, it was completely tiresome.  Although he was belligerent and impulsive again in this episode, he handled the emergencies in a very mature and take-charge manner which better suited what I felt should have been his revised persona.  Let’s hope that the writers continue in this vein with that character, as there is more than enough silliness coming from the Jessica character.  Thank goodness she did a masterful job of handling the lockdown of the docs area when they had located the creature, as it was the one and only time she wasn’t being uncomfortably cloying.  She has a major responsibility and is supposedly quite bright, so the snooping on Matt for no particular reason was uncomfortable.  And really, sitting in between Abby and Connor on the couch?  What is THAT all about?

Matt was all right this episode, but he did get saddled with a couple of clunkers.  Standing still and reassuring Abby that “I won’t let [Connor] get hurt” was ridiculous.  And the fact that he showed up at the docks and chasing after the creature without any of the EMDs that he made such a show of in the first episode was similarly ridiculous.  But Matt’s place as leader was redeemed in my view when he ordered the military of the team (who DID bring the EMDs) to use flares first to direct the creature before using the EMDs, as the steel containers would cause the EMD charges to ricochet.   Ah, OK, good strategy then.  Of course that also set up the rather eye-rolling bit when the military man couldn’t hit the giant creature that was only feet in front of him.  It was a lame way to bring in a redshirt element to the episode.

It’s still unclear why Alexander doesn’t want Abby and Connor on the team, but that will likely be developed, hopefully after the writers continue to develop the mostly-better writing demonstrated in this episode.  It was a nice touch to have the “arc” of the mysterious man talking with Matt occur early on in the episode and not near or at the end.  I appreciate that they have that element of mystery, but it would be overbearing to continue to have those scenes be the cliffhanger of the week.

So, spending most of the episode chasing after the creature, making Connor more mature, giving some decent capture strategy, not keeping the mystery man to only the end of the episode, all definite improvements.  Just fix Jessica, move along the Alexander and mystery man subplots, and cut down on obvious scene setups, and this show may really be a winner.

Favorite line: “It could be any one of them, it could be all of them.”  Yes, I admit it, as a forever-LOST fan, I can’t resist the mystery.

Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 1

Category : Entertain Me, Reviews, Television

cross posted at Simply Television

 

Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.

 

Primeval returns to tv on January 1 in the UK (ITV) AND in the US. (BBCAmerica). This review is chock full of spoilers, so don’t read until you’ve watched. Americans, be advised that the UK refers to “seasons” as “series.” Thanks to Simply Television for sharing this review with Good To Be A Geek!

Welcome back, Primeval. While still not recapturing the magic of series 1, this new series has improved on the effects enormously, and has added new cast members and a new ongoing mystery to the mix to revive the show that had been left to die, along with three major characters, at the end of series 3.

Whether through wisdom or availability, the characters who return to this series are the most well-equipped to bring back some of the excellence of series one. First, though, a memorial for the lost crew members. I will never forgive whoever decided that Cutter should die, because he was the heart of the group, and the show never regained its intensity once he was gone. Steven was also a wonderful member of the crew, very Race Bannon for you Jonny Quest fans, but at least his heroic death was well-managed. Helen was creepy and had a better story line in series one than she was saddled with after, particularly once she killed her former husband. Claudia was wonderful, Jenny was a loser but was coming along, pity she was the same person. I never cared too much about Danny Quinn or Sarah Page, so their absence isn’t a problem for me at all.

Now for the returnees. Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearritt) is lovely (though I’m hoping her hair goes short again), smart, knowledgeable about animals, capable, brave, and plucky. Connor Temple (Andrew Lee Potts) is also attractive, relatively smart, and in the first half of this episode is brave but not silly. Silly worked well when he was new, and even throughout series two and three, but after spending a year in the Cretaceous Era had become more serious while not losing his energy and enthusiasm.

I was SO sorry to see the return of silliness in the second half of this episode, which actually began when they didn’t IMMEDIATELY run into the newly-opened anomaly. It truly ruined the whole tone and momentum of the Connor/Abby storyline for me. That was redeemed somewhat by their outrage at being told that they would no longer be working the “front lines” of the anomalies, and their lovely scene outside the company apartment. I was really glad that they resolved the question of whether or not Connor and Abby were a couple by his look to the empty space next to him in bed, and their kiss outside. They each have a lot to offer the show, and I hope the plan is to keep them on.

I’m glad they kept James Lester (Ben Miller) on as the manager of the ARC. He is a great snarky bureaucrat with a history that spans the series, necessary in my view. Likewise the dishy Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield) was necessary not only because he was a good representative of the soldier faction of the team, but because he had first-hand knowledge (and self-imposed guilt) about the disappearance of Connor, Abby, and Danny.

As for the new cast members, hmm… I like Matt Anderson (Ciaran McMenamin) as the not-overplayed new head of the team, and I’m pleased that the new mystery involves him, always good to involve the main character. Likewise New Mysterious Man looks nicely intellectual, making us wonder if he is working for good, evil, or something in between. Phillip Burton (Alexander Siddig, nice to see back on Earth from Star Trek DS9) may prove to do well as the billionaire geek and potentially overbearing co-sponsor of the ARC, and it will be interesting to see if he has a hidden agenda. Finally, my least favorite new character, Jess Parker (Ruth Kearney). Irritating as the overeager techie, if they would allow her to play the part seriously, she could be an asset.

Other than the despised dino-capture segment (though the effects were brilliant) and the sometimes-clunky dialog (“You need to remember how many friends I’ve lost!”), this premiere gives me hope that this show will return to its glory days of series one.

Favorite line: “It’s a beautiful world, Matthew, but for how much longer?”

Ooo!

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