Gotham: Viper

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GOTHAM: 1.05 “Viper”

Oh, Gordon, Gordon, Gordon. What have you gotten yourself into?

Well, let’s just say that Gordon is certainly in the thick of it now. Not only does he have to pretend that he’s in line with Falcone and Fish, now he’s going to be controlled by Maroni. This is what you get for keeping the moral high ground and not killing a weasel. (Though, to be fair, I don’t think I’d want to see him kill a weasel anyway.)

This pull and tug should be an interesting one to watch Gordon maneuver. How he’ll be able to successfully play both sides while still staying true to his moral code should be…well…frankly impossible. But I’m sure it’ll be something he can do at least for a while.

What I found interesting as a slight side note in this vein was Bullock’s reaction when Gordon returned after his “lunch” with Maroni. There was his usual off-the-cuff comments about Gordon’s behavior, only to be followed up with genuine interest and care about what kind of personal matter would have held Gordon up mid-case: “Is it Barbara?” Could it be that Bullock is starting to actually care for Gordon, beyond the general “let’s not get killed” attitude? Interesting development.

Meanwhile, the case this week was just disgusting. It’s a good thing I watched Fringe all those years, so I could be warned about some gruesome deaths. Watching these people’s bones just crumble beneath them (starting with their skulls and jawbones), was just awful. I guess, based on the last few episodes, we better get used to some brutality in Gotham. It may be at an 8:00 time slot, but it’s not holding anything back. (And next week’s Halloween episode looks suitably creepy.)

Once again, though, the bad guy wasn’t necessarily trying to be a bad guy. I mean, he was because he was trying to kill people. But like the Balloonman a couple weeks ago, he was just trying to do good by exposing the bad. He wanted to stop people from making the drug; they wouldn’t so he took matters into his own hand. I’m not quite sure yet how Bruce Wayne Enterprises would have funded such a project — I suppose that corruptness has yet to be discovered, and our new “middle manager” is holding the secret to that.

Speaking of the Waynes, Bruce actually had a role this episode. I’m a little nervous about Bruce’s role in the series, actually. I don’t mind his scenes, but I just don’t think that there’s any room to grow. Or actually, there’s a ton of room — years before he becomes Batman. The only problem is that the series will try to speed up the process to avoid his becoming boring, and that could prove problematic. (If it were my pick, I would have started the series a season or two before the Waynes were killed, so we could really get to know this empire — and then the deaths would have had that much more impact, and Bruce’s determination would have aligned with our own.)

As for Fish…eh. In the first scene with Fish, I could tell she was training her little girl to be Falcone’s new dish, so she has a mole and, potentially, a way to kill him. So I found the last scene to be no surprise. Well, except for maybe her transformation. She looked stunning with her new makeover. Kudos to the costume, hair, and makeup department. A classic beauty. So classic it reminded me of an earlier era — probably the one in which Falcone’s mother lived.

*Photo by FOX

What’s on Tonight: ‘Big Driver’ on Lifetime

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You know me. I’m a sucker for new Lifetime movies on a Saturday night. And tonight, Lifetime combined two of my guilty pleasures: TV movie thrillers and Stephen King.

If you don’t know the story of Big Driver, which is based on a novella by King, here’s a quick summary:

Marry Me: The Pilot

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MARRY ME: 1.01 “The Pilot”

There weren’t many shows I was really interested in seeing going into this new fall season. One was Gotham, which has piqued my interest and kept me coming back for more. Another was A to Z, mainly because of the cast; that one’s doing alright in my book but needs to grow into itself.

The last was Marry Me, solely because of who was in it and who created it. Ken Marino was great in Party Down, and both Casey Wilson and her off-screen hubby David Caspe won me over with Happy Endings (Wilson acted, Caspe created — just like they do in Marry Me). I didn’t know much more about the series, other than that it was about a recently engaged couple, and I suppose that after the pilot, we don’t know much more than that now either.

That being said, I enjoyed not knowing. The episode certainly had its ups and downs. Marino’s Jake was pushed very early on into a supporting role to Wilson’s antics as Annie. While I still expect Marino to hold the title of “straight man” to Wilson’s humor, I do think he is going to grow so that this engagement — and show — becomes a 50/50 partnership.

There’s also a little work to be done elsewhere. A few of the jokes were predictable (of course, Annie’s proposal would have some devastating ending, and of course Annie and Jake ended up at the same place afterward), and the characters were oddly introduced before we actually saw them. As someone new to the series, I didn’t hang on to every word of Annie’s rant, so while I got that she insulted all her friends and family, I was playing a little catchup to remember what she said about whom.

But, it’s clear that Jake and Annie have chemistry, and that’s going to be keeping me coming back. Marino and Wilson do a great job playing off each other when they can be their fast-talking, reactive selves (think of their off-shoots of conversation during the last, real proposal). And without some complicated reason for the show’s being (think A to Z‘s “story” of Andrew and Zelda or the horrible narration in Manhattan Love Story), it doesn’t have any issues with becoming another likable comedy that can define itself into whatever role it wants.

So I’m saying “yes” to Marry Me — at least tentatively. If it took three proposals to get Jake and Annie right, I think I should at least give it that many tries too for a solid commitment.

*Photo by NBC/Greg Gaynes

Gotham: Arkham

GOTHAM: 1.04 “Arkham”

I made a bit of a mistake while watching this week’s Gotham. I only half watched the episode while multitasking. For many shows, this isn’t an issue. Actually, for most shows, this isn’t an issue. But there are a handful that require your full attention (Switched at Birth, for one, given the subtitles). While I’m not convinced Gotham is one of these shows, apparently this episode did require more attention than I gave it.

I’m sorry, Gotham. And readers.

The reason I bring this up in all its TV-reviewing shame is because, since I didn’t give it my full attention, all the politics around Arkham (including the Waynes’ roles in it) got a little confusing for me. Too many plans. Too many turf wars. Too many people involved claiming to be on one side or another. In the end, we got a mobster compromise, which is disappointing for the moral folks still around — which, from what I can tell, is only Gordon and Bruce, and probably Alfred and Barbara. (Ok, that’s not fair. Bullock has morals; they’re just a little looser than most.)

Despite this, I enjoyed the episode. Ben McKenzie continues to shine in this role. While it was such a small part of the episode, his scene with Barbara was incredibly well done. The ugly murders continue to be ugly and horrifying, just as they should be.

And while I had originally been nervous about Cobblepot’s role in the show, I really like where they’re taking him now. It seems to be rather advantageous that “nobody looks for a dead man.” I like that he’s with the other mob team now, and he has something to hang over Gordon’s head — which has yet to be seen whether this is a good or bad thing.

Considering that the show is still taking a very episodic approach to the season, as opposed to an overall story arc, they’re doing very well with it. It’s certainly one of my favorite new shows of the season.

The Vampire Diaries: Yellow Ledbetter

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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 6.02 “Yellow Ledbetter”

Let’s be honest. All we really care about in this episode is Damon and Bonnie. So…I’m going to wait until the end of the post because I probably have the most to say about it.

We’ll start with Jeremy’s new gal pal Sarah. I have little interest in her, but clearly her father must be someone huge — maybe our new volunteer cop/vampire killer — because otherwise, why would she bring it up? So really, that’s about all there is to say about her and Matt’s new boss…so I’ll move on.

Caroline and Enzo’s trip to see Stefan was a wee bit boring, but there was one great thing that came out of it: Enzo. I loved Enzo in this, and I loved his declaration at the end of the episode, that he planned to make Stefan’s life hell if he didn’t do everything in his power to bring Damon back. Stefan, to me, is still dull as wood. Somehow forcing him to interact with Enzo, who he originally killed, is fantastic. I’m excited to see how this progresses.

I was sad they killed off his little girlfriend, though. This show could use some new folks who don’t know the ins and outs of the supernatural. She was cute. I suppose she did cause a roadblock, though, with Stefan and Caroline. But hey, they’ve got to drag that out anyway, don’t they?

Then there was Elena and Ric. I was personally surprised he was so eager to jump in and help her forget her love for Damon. Considering that he was Damon’s best friend and seems to be rather responsible, I would have thought he’d try to convince her otherwise — at least take an episode before trying. But there we were, reliving all the wonderful moments between Elena and Damon. While usually flashbacks bore me — either they don’t have the same effect the second time around or they’re just time-wasters — I thought the writers did a great job with this. By flipping back to these huge moments, we got to remember every moment the ‘shippers salivated over — and what a big deal it will be when Elena forgets him. We were left just as sad.

Now, it will only be a matter of time before Damon comes back and Elena hates him because she doesn’t remember she loved him. And we all know that will have to happen.

We just don’t know how. Damon and Bonnie are stuck on May 10, 1994, the same day as a solar eclipse. They’re in an empty town with no magic. Or at least it appears. Bonnie thinks she can relearn her magic. And after the final scene where a crossword puzzle was mysteriously completed, the town may not be so empty.

Of course, I’m desperately trying to figure out how they’re going to get out. It must have something to do with the eclipse — when day meets night (I’ve watched way too many series and movies with riddles and prophesies that include references to eclipses). But what else they’ll need to do — or who else they’ll need involved — is up in the air. Plus, according to Bonnie, this place was made for one. Would two people even get out?

There are more questions than answers at this point, but in the meantime, I’m loving seeing Bonnie and Damon interact, and I just adore the 1990 callbacks. The music. The clothes. It’s great. And Damon making pancakes, that’s just hilarious.

So good episode, but where are we going from here? There’s a lot to do but not much going on at this point — at least for those in the present day. What do they have to do while Bonnie and Damon have their hidden timewarp hideaway? Let’s get to Thursday already and find out.

*Photo by The CW/Richard Ducree

Harley Keiner meets “Girl Meets World”

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As you know, I’m a Boy Meets World fan. And I’ve been keeping tabs on Girl Meets World (meaning I’ve been watching every episode each time they pop up on my season pass TiVo recording) just to see some of our old favorites reappear. I’ve already spotted Minkus, who is character Farkle’s father (yes, his name is Farkle Minkus), and just recently I saw another BMW face: Harley Keiner.

I must confess, I didn’t immediately recognize Harley. For one, he was going by Harvey (there is one episode when Cory goes out on a date with TK, Harley’s sister, and she lets the cat out of the bag that his name was actually Harvey). Second, he’s grown up a lot, and it takes a minute for you to recognize him. I did a double-take at the dimples. Then I recognized a certain tone of voice with a familiar, “How you doin’, boys I own?” By then, I was sure I was right, only to discover that “Harley” was written on his janitor’s uniform the whole time.

It was kind-of an exciting addition. I certainly wasn’t expecting it. My eye was focused more on Ms. Thompson, the cafeteria lady, than the janitor. But I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him. According to E! Online, this won’t be Keiner’s — er, I mean, Danny McNulty’s — only appearance on the series, so I’m excited to see more (and check out his Twitter account for a few more pics). My only complaint was that we didn’t get to see more recognition or callbacks from Cory about this memorable guy. After all, he was the one who bullied him throughout his young high school years.

And while Harley himself was a callback of BMW years, the storyline was even more so. While wrapped up in a Great Depression history lesson, we were asked to remember the Forgotten, those people who do so much and you forget about. It reminded me of Cory’s own remembrance of the cafeteria lady of his youth, who passed away. That particular lunch lady got her own wake, as each student took a rose from their cafeteria tray and put it on her station. Then there was the librarian who was being forced out of the school, that they signed the petition for. Both women took a special interest in their kids, if I recall, and Cory made sure they weren’t forgotten (with the help of Topanga, of course).

There are still larger characters I’m waiting to appear — Sean, Eric, Cory’s parents, and perhaps we’ll get another appearance by Feeny. That’s all if Feeny is still alive. I maintain my theory that the iconic teacher, principal, and professor may have passed on, despite his appearance on “Stay in School” posters. But there was still something about that first appearance in the pilot that was mildly haunting and sentimental. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

*Photo by Disney Channel/Kelsey McNeal

Gotham: The Balloonman

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GOTHAM: 1.03 “The Balloonman”

The first moment a corrupt businessman flew up into the sky, JC turned to me and said, “What a DC Comics way to kill someone. They always come up with the most horrifying ways to do so.”

And really, it was. Not only was the idea of helplessly floating up into the sky to die absolutely horrifying (raise your hand if you had nightmares — or if you wanted to look up whether such a crime was feasibly possible from a physics standpoint), but on top of that, the body that gets splattered into the ground when it comes back down.

That being said, the episode could have used a little work in tracking the mastermind behind the weather balloon crime. While the method was unique, it was easily forgotten in the first half hour as we followed up with Bruce Wayne, Selina, Cobblepot, Fish, and Montoya. Perhaps the most glaring error in Gotham thus far is not realizing when a character needs to disappear (in a non-murder sense) so that something else can shine. While Fish might have her own story arc, it was so unrelated to the rest of the events that it really had no place in last night’s episode. That would have been better served later, in an episode that had a little more room to breathe.

The same goes for Bruce Wayne. While I did enjoy seeing him realize that vigilantes that kill are criminals and vigilantes that don’t may be welcome, we didn’t need to see multiple scenes with Alfred to get his development across. By minimizing some of these roles now, we can develop everything around them and give them a bigger space to play in later — and a bigger role in the process.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the episode. I think I could spend day after day watching Bullock and Gordon interact. While I know many of you are still adoring Donal Logue in the show (as am I), I’m still constantly impressed by Ben McKenzie, probably because in comparison, they’ve actually given Gordon depth of character. Don’t worry, I think Bullock will get there, he’s just not there yet — and that’s a writing flaw, not an acting one.

I don’t have much more to say about this week’s Gotham. It looks like Cobblepot is going to be an interesting one to watch in the future. My guess is that he’ll be some sort of informant for Gordon, now that he’s working for another mobster. And actually, I didn’t mind that storyline, despite my past complaints about him. So for now, I’ll just look forward to next week.