Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chuck review

I finally watched the Chuck premiere last night (as I mentioned previously, my DVR wigged out and I missed last Monday's premiere, but NBC was kind enough to rerun the episode last night so I was able to catch it then) and I have to give it a resounding ... well, now, that was pretty darn good!

Nerdy guy with no life gets all the CIA's and NSA's superduper top secrets downloaded into his brain. Wackiness ensues. If you want a better recap than that, go here where my favorite recapper is doing this show. There are definite similarities between Chuck and Reaper - slackerish guy gets radical change to his life/destiny thrust upon him, becoming marginally cooler and helping to save the world (gosh - that's pretty much the broad stroke on Bionic Woman too, eh?) - and while I didn't laugh out loud at Chuck, I think the writing is better and the acting is better. Plus, there's Adam Baldwin, which is always a good thing. In fact, there should be more Adam Baldwin, but in the sense that he should be in more scenes, not that he should gain more weight. He's not exactly at his Firefly fighting weight these days.

I'm working on my report card for the new fall shows. Of the ones I've seen thus far, based solely on the premieres: Chuck gets an A-, Reaper gets a B, BW gets a C and Moonlight gets a D+. We'll revisit in a week or so to see how the class is faring.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Moonlight review

I just finished watching the premiere of Moonlight and I have to give it a resounding ... that was awful. David Greenwalt is SO grateful that he is no longer connected with this show. The best thing about it was that it made me want to dig out all my Angel DVDs and watch them again.

Let's get the "oh no, we're not ripping off Angel in any way" issues out of the way. This is a show about a vampire private detective who lives in Los Angeles. The guy was turned into a vampire by a particularly vicious and beautiful female vampire with a thing for children. There are numerous swooping overhead night shots of L.A. in between scenes. The vampire detective drives a big old convertible. Yeah, nothing like Angel at all. (And as the cherry on the sundae: tonight's episode guest-starred Rudolf Martin, the actor who played Dracula on a Season 5 episode of Buffy, as a college professor who is obsessed with vampires.)

Other problems: Bad writing (the voiceovers are particularly trite), bad acting by everybody (even Jason Dohring who is doing Logan-as-a-400-year-old-vampire except his vampire does not have 1/10th the edge Logan had). The female lead, who looks like a Kate Winslet knockoff, has bad hair and her American accent is all over the place. The green screen shots with the male lead driving his convertible at night are extremely fake-looking. The "next time on Moonlights" were set to a Celine Dion song (ack! I think my ears are bleeding). And last, but certainly not least, it was just BORING.

Because I have a soft spot for television vampires (and for Jason Dohring), I'm giving it two more episodes before I clear it from my DVR. That's the best I can do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bionic Woman, 2007 style - review

I just finished watching the premiere of Bionic Woman and I have to give it a resounding ... meh.

The baseline story is sort of the same: Jaime Sommers (this time a bartender, not an tennis player) is in an accident (car, not sky-diving), gets bionic legs, right arm and an ear. Because that's not quite enough, she also gets a new right eye, super-healing powers and a combat-training upgrade because it's a secret, slightly shady research lab who fixed her up, compliments of her slightly shady researcher-surgeon boyfriend. Who is 39 years old to her 24, which is slightly shady too. Blah blah blah - what have you done to me; blah blah blah - this is kind of neat being able to leap tall buildings at a single bound; blah blah blah - if you train me, maybe I'll help you with your secret agenda.

The best thing about this new BW is that Jaime Sommers is not the only one: Starbuck is the first woman they bionicked up and she is all kinds of badass. Wow - Katee Sackhoff is slammin' hot here and evil to boot. Unfortunately, I read somewhere that she is not going to be in that many episodes. That's too bad. Maybe they should have gone that route: making the story of the first and evil bionic woman the focus of the show.

Additional items of note: Good stuff - Badger is an evil genius scientist! Chief is a prison guard! And Miguel Ferrer is running the shady research facility. Bad stuff - The fight scenes are over-edited to the point that you can scarcely see what's going on. Pull back the camera already and let us watch!

I can't say that I'm giving up entirely on this show, but I don't think I'm going to add it to my DVR queue. If I catch an episode, that's fine (if Katee is there), but I'm not going to sweat it if I miss any.

Reaper review

A young, well-above-average-looking college drop-out, who works a drudge of a job and has a loyal cadre of misfit friends, has thrust upon [third person pronoun] a calling to fight against supernatural forces. It’s Buffy, right, the show nearest and dearest to my heart? Well, yes, but it’s also the CW’s new Reaper, which premiered last night and which has been racking up quite a few comparisons to BTVS.

Upon his 21st birthday, Sam discovers that his parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born, and now Old Nick (Ray Wise, clearly enjoying himself) has come to collect what is due. He gives Sam a new job as a bounty hunter (Sam is a floor clerk at some amorphous big-box store) , collecting souls that have escaped back to earth from Hell. Sam’s buddies think this new gig is cool and soon this 2007 version of the Scoobies is sleuthing, tracking and sucking demons back where they belong. There’s also a love interest from whom Sam feels the need to hide his new otherworldliness: she looks like Hilary Swank and is played by Missy Peregrym (most recently Candice, the shape-shifting bad girl from Heroes. Guess we won’t being seeing Candice so much this season).

I was pleasantly surprised by Reaper. I thought the two main characters, Sam and his best friend “Sock,” had great long-time friend chemistry and were fairly funny. I even laughed out loud three times – that’s a lot for regular TV for me – although it may have been more due to guest director Kevin Smith’s hand on the helm than from the writing. Time will tell. While I won’t spend precious time recapping this one for you (sorry!), I am more than willing to keep it on my DVR record list until further notice. Pretty good job, CW (although I’ll still never forgive you for canceling Veronica Mars)!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Heroes recap: "Four Months Later" – airdate 09/24/07 (S2E1)

Well, FM’s Fall ’07 Television Season is off to a portentous beginning: my DVR crapped out and I (a) missed the Chuck premiere entirely, (b) missed the first ten minutes of the Heroes premiere entirely, and (c) while I did watch the rest of Heroes live, I don’t have any notes because I didn’t dare press Pause to write anything down. This will be a sketchy recap at best, unless I can watch the episode online and fill in the blanks. (Maybe I can get Chuck that way too – and then if it’s terrible, I can clear the DVR of that show.) I did reboot the machine and hopefully that will work. Tomorrow’s Biggest Loser will be the test, I guess.

I’m guessing that at the start of this episode we see Claire’s dad dropping her off on her first day of school in their new hometown, Costa Verde, California. I’m also guessing that he tells her to keep a low profile because we see her not raising her hand when she knows the answer and staring longingly at the cheer squad (who are practicing in their uniforms – who does that, except movie and TV cheerleaders?). A cute-ish sort of guy approaches her, asking her if she’s an alien or a robot. I guess that means he’s edgy and a little weird. Claire certainly thinks he’s weird. During gym class, the Mean Girls pick on Claire and some other loners; after everyone leaves, Claire attempts a back somersault off some scaffolding, breaking her leg. Being Indestructo-Claire, she snaps right back, just as Edgy/Weird walks in, nearly catching her. At the "Butler" family dinner that night (that’s their new incognito name), conversation is stilted and awkward, everyone trying to make the best of it. Claire is having a tough time, though, and doesn’t think she can handle it. She sneaks a call to Nathan later for some cheering up. Oh, and Edgy/Weird is totally peeping-tomming her while hovering in midair. He can fly too, just like her real dad.

Her real dad, however, is in no mood to cheer anyone up. He is scruffy and bearded and drunk, and I’m guessing that he didn’t win the election. Earlier that day, he tossed his mother out of Peter’s apartment: she thinks her younger son is dead and blames her older son for killing him. Wait! Wasn’t Angela willing to sacrifice Peter for Nathan last season? She is evil AND fickle! (And what was her power again? Can't she see the future or something?) Nathan says they can’t be sure Peter’s dead and he’s keeping the apartment for when he comes back. As he throws his mom out, she sees a torn photograph stuck to the wall in the corridor. It’s her face, with that half-helix shape drawn over it in red.

Apparently that’s not so good and she goes to meet Hiro’s dad (George Takei!) who also got one with his face on it in his morning newspaper. He found it during a conversation with Ando about Hiro’s multi-month (?) disappearance. Ando is worried but George is finally proud of his son and will wait for him to return. But then he gets this photo, which means he’ll be dead in 24 hours. Ando thinks that’s terrible and George asks him to fetch a sword. Angela shows up while Ando is on his errand; she and George agree that they’re in big trouble – one of the remaining original nine empowered folks seems to be picking off the rest [Linderman, Peter’s dad, Simone’s dad, etc.]. Angela skedaddles with a very sour face. (They do need to start killing people off – there’s too many to keep track of – and I don’t mind if she takes a powder.) Just as Ando gets back with the sword, a Dark Stranger wearing a hoodie appears on the rooftop. George seems to recognize him/her and is surprised that it is whoever it is. Without further ado, the Dark Hooded Stranger tackles George and they both go over the side of the building. When Ando looks down, only George is crushed and bleeding on the sidewalk; the DHS is gone.

Hiro, meanwhile, is still in Japan of several centuries ago. He meets Kensei, his all-time favorite hero, who turns out to be that cute, short blond bad guy from Alias. Hm. Not so much Japanese, then. This guy is actually Kensei, but he’s a Brit who landed in Japan to make his fortune. He’s not much of a fighter but does like to drink. Hiro is horrified and tries to come to terms with this, explaining that Kensei must fight Whosis and Whatsisname, and marry the sword smith’s beautiful daughter. Then the sword smith’s beautiful daughter comes up, grabs the sword from Kensei, slugs him across the face, and heads out to rescue her father since Kensei won’t do it. Hiro is gob smacked. (I know this Kensei is going to end up having a power because the damn “next time on Heroes” spoils it, so either Hiro convinces the reluctant gaijin to become the Kensei of legend OR Hiro himself becomes the Kensei of legend and confuses the heck out of the timeline. I’m just guessing.)

Who else? Molly Walker now has two daddies with Mohinder and Matt Parkman, living in Mohinder’s NYC apartment. Parkman finally got his detective badge (he cheated and mind-read the answers; Molly is disapproving) as well as a divorce from his wife (who also cheated, if you'll recall). Molly is having horrific nightmares of the Big Bad she alluded to at the end of last season. Matt wants her to tell him how to find this guy so he can protect her, but Molly is afraid that the Big Bad will kill Matt so she's not talking. Meanwhile, Mohinder is in some foreign city, taking a meeting with a representative from The Company that Claire’s dad used to work for. (This Co. rep is SO familiar – he’s been in everything, including playing Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day.) After some wheeling and dealing, Ned Ryerson says they’ll pay for Mohinder’s expensive research if he’ll help them with their tracking and training/eliminating other empowered people. That night, Mohinder calls Claire’s dad to let him know that The Company has taken the bait: he’s in. Oh, Mr. Bennett (I should say “Noah,” but it sounds so strange), don’t you know that Mohinder can’t do anything right? Not my first choice as an undercover operative.

We also get introduced to a new hero, Maya. She and her brother, Alejandro (see what I mean about too many people? And we don’t even get to Niki – I guess that’s fine, actually – or DL or Micah, and whatever happened to Claude the invisible guy? I liked him. But I digress.) are trying to get to the U.S. from some Central or South American country that I missed because of technical difficulties. Maya has Mohinder’s father’s book and she wants a cure for her dangerous power. We don’t exactly see the power but we do see its aftermath: when she’s assaulted by some skeezy guys, they end up dead with blood-filled eyes … and the five or six innocent immigrants in the back of the truck end up dead too. She pretty much hates her power. Alejandro promises they’ll find help for her.

The final scene I think takes place somewhere in Ireland (?). Some thuggy-looking guys with suspicious Irish accents open up a freight container. One of them thinks he’s looking for a shipment of iPods; the stupid “next time” spoils us enough to know that the boss guy is not, in fact, looking for iPods. What they find, however, is a shirtless Peter Petrelli (methinks Tim Kring has been reading some fanfic), chained to the container wall. When one of the thugs threatens him, Peter hits him with a burst of energy/lightning/something, sending him flying. The remaining thugs demand to know who the frack (not really) he is. But Peter, surprise!, has amnesia and doesn’t have a clue. He also has a pendant in the shape of that half-helix around his neck. That can’t be good for the home team.

So that’s what I can recap for you, using only my memory. If I can get the episode online, I’ll go back and correct the errors. Feel free to comment, annotate and correct me in the comments. And please, think happy thoughts for my poor little DVR!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deadwood recap – “A Lie Agreed Upon, Part 2” (S2E2)

The dropping: Jane comes back to camp with plenty of witty repartee, Al mends fences, Wu’s pigs get lots to eat, Alma makes a decision and I have to google “bundling board.”

BAD LANGUAGE AHEAD

Al, getting his ribs wrapped by Doc, attempts to get some scoop on Bullock’s condition while, for his part, Doc persistently asks after Al’s kidney stone symptoms. Al is determined not to seem weak, however, and declares a moratorium on the subject. Over at the hotel, Bullock and Alma sit tensely in her room. He grits out that these are their choices – leave the camp together or stay in camp and completely sever all connections – and the decision must be made tonight so as not to humiliate Martha any further. He says that Alma must be the one to make the decision because he doesn’t feel he can be trusted to have much sense about now. (Seeing how he looks like he's been poleaxed, I think he's probably right.) Alma is taken aback and says she needs some time to think.

At the hardware store, Charlie and Merrick help Trixie put Sol to bed. Charlie muses that maybe he’d better go get some more weapons to back Bullock’s play to get his own gun back. His hunch proves pretty accurate as Bullock stomps in just then to have a word with Sol. However, Sol is still drunk and doped and in no mood for his partner’s death wish bullshit, telling him that running away with Alma won’t solve any of his problems. As they wait outside, Trixie (ever the opportunist) offers Charlie a “quick, open-air blowjob.” He bemusedly turns her down. Tagging along with Bullock, Charlie quickly realizes the sheriff is on a kamikaze run after Al and Dan; suddenly Charlie staggers, exclaiming that he feels faint. It’s enough to distract Bullock, who offers to take him back to his freight office to recover. Good job, Charlie.

At the Gem, Adams is a not-killing Bullock proponent, spouting some more complicated politics as evidence, something about Yankton thinking Bullock has support in Montana and using such as leverage. Al can apparently decipher his meaning better than I can and considers the alternatives. Dan, on the other hand, starts getting all het up over Adams’s interference. Alma is mulling over her options with Mrs. Isringhausen. Mrs. I speculates that running away with Bullock would be exciting for sure, but also dangerous, and when Alma plaintively asks if perhaps some happiness might be mixed in with the excitement, Mrs. I says she can’t really allow as to it. Joanie and Maddie bring their girls to the new Chez Amies cathouse: there’s decorating work to be done before they can get down to their true calling.

Trixie chastizes Sol for getting involved in Bullock’s insanity, declaring she enjoys sucking prick to today’s activities. Sol (still a little stoned) says he’d settle for a vigorous hand-holding, and that makes her giggle. Doc is autopsying someone (Bummer Dan maybe?) when Calamity Jane makes herself known outside. He comes out to find her upside down in a mess of ropes by which she tied herself to her horse in an attempt to keep from falling off while drunk. He tries to undo her and gets a “Jesus Christ, you’re bad with your hands!” for his pains. After examining her, Doc says that she must stop drinking or she really will kill herself. Cut back to Alma and Mrs. I: Alma is shocked to suppose that Bullock might have meant only the two of them leaving camp together, leaving Sophia behind. “She’s part of my life!” she exclaims, near tears. Whatever, Alma. First you hired a whore to play nursemaid to the girl; now you’ve hired another nanny so you can screw the handsome young sheriff whenever you like. I find it difficult to believe you're suddenly overcome with maternal feeling. I’m so over Alma.

Bullock has been telling Charlie about how his brother was killed and his subsequent run to Mexico to retrieve his body. Charlie agrees: “Wrong to let’em lay there. [beat] Unless you’re a Mexican.” Adams’s sidekick shows up late (?) and Adams is all angry about it for some reason. Dan pounds a huge drink of whiskey and proceeds to put a serious beat-down onto Adams’s sidekick. When Adams tries to break it up, Al calls him off, so instead a frustrated Adams grabs Slippery Dan, who is drunk and cheering on the fight, and impales him on a stuffed deer head. “Eeeeuuuw!” says the crowd. “He just twelve-pointed Slippery Dan,” marvels Tom Nuttal. Dan Dorrity doesn’t leave off punching the sidekick until Al grabs a shotgun and fires off a round into the ceiling. “Next one’s to your head,” says Al, “Do not doubt me.” Dan is stunned, “Well that’s just fucking great, fucking beautiful.”

Jane is regaling Bullock and Charlie with tales of her travels, but Bullock has lingered as long as he can stand it. They reluctantly bring Jane up to speed on current events and she’s ready to help, especially seeing how it’s against that “Limey cocksucker.” Charlie is certain that Jane’s help will be no help at all but there seems to be no way around it. Dan is crying in his room, certain he’s lost Al’s favor. Al reassures him that the two of them are together for the long haul and they spit and shake on their renewed alliance. This is a great scene and I hope that we get some back story along the way to find out how Al came into Dan’s life. Alma has grown a backbone and decided she is not taking orders from another man; she’s staying in camp with Sophia. Blah blah blah. Just have to scratch that itch elsewhere, I guess.

Al is pursuing a home remedy with Dolly, the luckiest Gem whore in the world. You’ll just have to watch it. In the meantime, Trixie sees Bullock, Charlie and Jane advancing on the Gem and reports to Sol, wild. (Bullock is so not Trixie’s favorite person ever.) Dulled faculties notwithstanding, Sol cowboys up and has her fetch him a gun. Standing in the street in front of the Gem, Bullock calls out Al (who, being in the middle of another blowjob monologue, is going to have to take a moment to make himself presentable). Bullock is definitely on a suicide run here but does feel guilty about Charlie and Jane’s involvement: “I wish the fuck the two of you would let me finish this the way I prefer.” “Well,” drawls Jane, “we wish the fuck you’d find something else to wish for.” The campfolk gather, anticipating the showdown. Trixie sends Sol ahead with a revolver while she keeps a rifle for herself; she aims the rifle, muttering “selfish cocksucker.” I think she’s aiming at Bullock! As Sol staggers up, Jane rolls her eyes. “A hardware Jew at less than full force – now they’ll be fucking quaking.” Jane, how I've missed you!

Finally, just as everyone is getting antsy, Al strolls out of his saloon, carrying Bullock’s gun and badge. He holds it out to the sheriff and turns on that fatal Swearengen charm; Bullock is entranced, wide-eyed, silently accepting his gear. When he’s recovered a little, Bullock shyly asks if Al found his hat. Now Al rolls his eyes (or the one that’s in good enough shape to roll – he looks awful) and tells Dolly to toss down the hat. Bullock puts it on and turns to the hotel in time to see Alma pull the curtains shut. She’s obviously made her decision and he accepts it, big eyes shiny. At the close of the episode, Bullock enters the house he built for his wife and her son. Martha has waited up for him and, after she asks if he minds that she removed the bundling board he had installed there (he doesn’t mind), they go up to bed together.

Next episode/previous episode

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh, the shame of it! Guilty pleasure

I was listening to my iPod on the drive into work, which I always do because the radio in my town is pretty bad and the morning programs are simply horrible. I ask you, why do radio stations assume that their listeners want to hear moronic DJ banter in the morning? The last thing I want to do before I've even had caffeine is listen to inane talk from people who are not nearly as smart or funny as they think they are.

Then this one song came on that made me laugh out loud, glance around sheepishly, and then sing at the top of my voice. It was truly the lamest song on my playlist and I reveled in it. What is this embarrassing song, you ask, your curiosity piqued? Well, let’s run down the top contenders:

It’s not a song by Duran Duran. In seventh grade I discovered this Fab Five and have been a stalwart fan ever since. Their Rio album is fantastic and, while they’ve wavered in some of their other offerings, their 2004 singles were pretty darn strong for such aging New Romantics. (Plus: John Taylor? Still very pretty.)

It’s not a Bon Jovi song either. Another ‘80s mega-band who has actually done really well with their comeback, these Jersey boys’ 2005 hit, “It’s My Life,” prompted me to purchase several tracks off 1986’s Slippery When Wet from iTunes. I was singing “Living on a Prayer” on this morning’s commute as well but I’m not ashamed of that. (Also, Jon Bon Jovi? see above re: John Taylor).

It isn’t from N’Sync or the Backstreet Boys. I like to jog to N’Sync because they’re peppy little fellows. And I only have two BB songs: the one featured in Napoleon Dynamite and the one with that half-concept (movie monsters)/half-dance video.

It’s not even by the Pussycat Dolls. I would normally draw the line at these pop-harlots but a dear friend of mine made me a CD which had the Dolls on it, as well as a bunch of fun music from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Here it is: I am very embarrassed to say that the most cringe-inducing song on my iPod is “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” by the Cutting Crew (1986). It’s a terrible song by a one-hit ‘80s band, one of those synth-heavy, not-quite-a-ballad monstrosities so prevalent in the mid-1980s. It’s awful … and I sing along every time it comes up – which is not often, thankfully.

So, ‘fess up: what’s the guiltiest pleasure on your iPod?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Deadwood recap – “A Lie Agreed Upon, Part 1” (S2E1)

The dropping: Bullock gets mad at Al. Dan gets mad at Adams. Cy gets mad at Joanie. Al gets mad at the world.

REMINDER – Salty language in all Deadwood recaps. If you are easily offended, please read something else.

Since this is the first episode of the second season, there’s a lot of bouncing around to check in with all the characters – bear with me as I bounce around too. A stagecoach, full of whores and who I presume are Bullock’s wife and child, rumbles down the road to Deadwood. At the hotel, Alma Garrett boots Sophia and her tutor (who is this person and where did she come from?) out of her room so she can knock boots with Bullock. Adams is reporting to Al: the governor has appointed only Yankton men as the new territorial commissioners. No-one from the Hills, gripes Al, fretting. (Note: Titus Welliver has lost some weight since last season and is looking good!) Over at the Bella Union, Joanie is fidgety and excited about the coming stagecoach since the arriving whores are her new girls. Ellsworth (I love Ellsworth!) is getting impatient waiting for Bullock to give him the go-ahead to send Alma’s gold out of camp, plus he is agitated by the fact that the hotel’s thin floorboards do nothing to mask the bedstead-banging coming from upstairs. Al grabs his whiskey bottle and chugs straight from the bottle, a sure sign that he is getting frustrated. He feels cornered by the politicos, hates the new telegraph poles and feels Bullock may not be carrying his own weight with regard to protecting the camp. “Change is bad” is Al’s motto.

Alma and Bullock have some post-coital talk, both of them all a-glow, and I’m really ready for this storyline to move along. (Another note: Alma does not shave her armpits. I’m sure it’s historically accurate, but I don’t really want to look at it.) Finally putting his pants back on, Bullock emerges from the hotel just as someone is shot (off-screen) at Tom Nuttal’s bar. Perched on his balcony, Al decides that the sheriff is the best target for his rancor: “Good luck trouble didn’t jump out earlier … might have found find you mid-thrust in other business.” Bullock glares at him, infuriated, and the tension in the street increases ten-fold. There’s gonna be a fight, and Al is purposely starting it to get Bullock’s head back in the game.

Bullock and a now-deputized Charlie Utter quickly clear up the mistaken-identity shooting at Nuttal’s bar. Bullock heads back to the Gem to make Al pay for his insults, Charlie following to watch his back. Overseeing the thoroughfare from his own balcony, evil Cy Tolliver watches the coach come in, Joanie and Lila, Cy’s new favorite whore, flanking him. The stagecoach pounds down the road past a drunken Calamity Jane who rears up her head and shouts “Cocksucker!” Good girl, Jane! Trixie, having a cigarette at the door of the Gem, runs to get Sol when Bullock comes in. As Bullock heads upstairs, Charlie takes position at the bar, with Al’s flunkies taking their places there as well. Upstairs, Al is having difficulty taking a leak – my guess is either prostate trouble or kidney stones. After a couple minutes of chit chat in which Al brings the new political issues to Bullock’s attention, Al (who is an old hand at reading people) realizes that Bullock is actually in love (or thinks he is) with the widow. Bullock can’t handle the taunting and decides that fighting is better than more talking, even though Al tries to give him an out.

This is an ugly, violent fist fight, and they soon go over the balcony into the muddy street below. All the sidekicks in the bar rush out, Dan charging in to Al’s aid; he is about to kill Bullock until Adams restrains him, saying it isn’t Dan’s fight. Nervous Johnny has an itchy trigger finger and shoots Sol in the shoulder and Charlie along the side of the face. Al gets back on his feet before his opponent is able to and is poised to knife Bullock in the back when the stagecoach pulls up in front of them. The little boy stares wide-eyed at the combatants. Al sees the boy and stops cold. He snarls “Welcome to fucking Deadwood,” and staggers back to his saloon. Bullock picks himself up and greets his wife and stepson, first reassuring them that he’s all right, then falling flat on his face. Mrs. Bullock and Merrick take him to the hardware store where an impromptu triage station has been set up.

Joanie brings her “whore friend” Maddie to speak with Cy - who is completely out of his head with rage and hurt that his favorite girl is actually leaving him. Joanie stays calm, however, and he finally lets her go without any actual violence. At the Gem, Al is in rough shape, screaming in pain as he tries to put his shirt back on. Dan is furious with Adams for coming between him and Al, his jealousy papable. Doc Cochrane (yay! It’s Doc!) has got Sol good and drunk so he can dig out the bullet in his shoulder; Mrs. Bullock is tending to Charlie’s grazed face; Merrick is trying not to throw up at all the blood (his expressions are priceless); and that weasel E.B. Farnum takes it all in before scurrying out to make his report. Al, in great pain, doesn’t really want to deal with E.B.’s smarm and sends him off for more information, after doing a pretty good E.B. impersonation – hee hee! Adams tries to clear the air with Dan but Dan is not having any of it. Al looks really fracking bad.

An upset Alma is putting together a welcome basket for Bullock’s family, speaking rather snottily to Mrs. Isringhausen, Sophia’s tutor (seriously, where did she come from?). Apparently Alma thinks right now is the best time to deliver this basket, while everyone is still bleeding and in shock. Ellsworth tries to talk her out of it but it’s always all about Alma and, because he carries such a huge torch for her, he accompanies her. The scene in the hardware store when Alma meets Martha and William Bullock is incredibly awkward. Alma babbles; Martha knows something strange is going on but not to what extent; Bullock, still dazed, doesn’t know what to do with himself; and Charlie, Merrick and Ellsworth look like they’d rather be anywhere but here. Finally Alma leaves. Thank you.

I can’t even recap the scene with Cy, Joanie and the whores on the balcony. Cy is so scary and horrifying and I just know he’s going to do something awful some time soon.

Bullock walks his family to their new house. It’s a really nice house and I can’t figure how he had the time to build it in the last seven months (later, Alma will mention that Sophia has been with her for that length of time so that’s how I know how long it’s been) between establishing his hardware bidness and sheriffing the town. I know: willing suspension of disbelief. Bullock refuses to go into the house with his family, saying he has to go see to the camp. Martha softly and gratefully thanks him for taking care of them; her eyes ask him to choose them over Alma. Bullock can’t bear it and walks stiff armed back through camp. He looks like he’s about to lose his mind. Instead, he goes straight to Alma’s room and, without speaking, wraps her in his arms. This is a man with a conflict. Plus, he’s gone and left his gun and badge at Al’s.

Next episode/previous episode

Monday, September 17, 2007

Y: The Last Man, Fables and Torchwood

Just to prove that I am still watching and reading things that score high on the cult-meter, here are some short thoughts about:

Torchwood - Season 1 is now showing on BBC America and two episodes into it, I'm already developing a crush. Think X-Files meets Angel but with Welsh accents and the delightful tendency of British television not to get hung up on girls snogging girls and boys snogging boys. Fantastic. Apparently this is a Dr. Who spin-off but so far you don't need to know the parent show - which is great because I've not seen a Dr. Who episode since the days of Tom Baker. My only quibble is with the male lead, John Barrowman: he is an American-raised Scot - which explains how good his accent is - but he plays Captain Jack a little too Tom Cruise for me. Hopefully he'll move away from that a bit as the series goes on.

Fables: Storybook Love - I didn't love this one quite as much as the previous two Fables trade paperbacks. I guess I just wasn't as interested in the quickie stories bookending the main story arc. SPOILER Pluswhich I think they killed off Bluebeard way too early END SPOILER. I did like seeing Bigby in his Big Bad Wolf body tho'.

Y: The Last Man - Unmanned - There's a quote on the cover of this book from RevolutionSF.com: "This is why God created comic books." Now, I'm no expert but they may be right. This book is incredible. A plague has killed off every single male - man and animal - on the planet, except one guy, Yorick, and his pet spider monkey. One plot thread follows these two on their quest to reunite with Yorick's girlfriend (oh, yes, and also to figure out why they were spared). But as important are Yorick's mother, a U.S. Representative, struggling to rebuild her nation's government; the mysterious Agent 355 who is keeping an eye on Yorick (but to what purpose is not clear); and Alter, a single- and bloody-minded Israeli colonel. Again, I'm late to the show with this series but I am absolutely hooked. In fact, it's been a couple of weeks since I stopped by my comic shop ... perhaps I'll swing by tomorrow for Vol 2., Cycles.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Midwestern Mouse



No matter how much you like your job, being on vacation is always better (apologies to my boss if she’s reading this). That being said, the Mouses don’t usually go to glamorous beach-and-sand places where the drinks come with little umbrellas. Where do we go? Well, most recently, we went to the Midwest, specifically Minnesota and Wisconsin . Did it rain? Yes. Were there mosquitoes? Yes. Was there frost on the car in the morning? Yes. Gosh, it’s an awful lot like Maine! We went because my aunt and uncle, Terry (she of the Italian beef recipe fame) and Kenny, live on a 200-acre farm not far from the upper Mississippi near the Wisconsin border. The last time I had been there was 26 years ago at Christmas; it’s much nicer to go in September when you can fish and bike and drink beer and float on the rivers.

After arriving in Minneapolis and picking up our fabulous Suzuki Grand Vitara rental car (the motor sounded like a moped when we’d go uphill), we stopped briefly in Hastings, MN, the first town on the Great River, just so we could see the Mississippi and get a feel for what was in store. We had lunch in Red Wing (famous for this as well) at the Staghead and then climbed Barn Bluff for great views of the river and town. Continuing south along the river, we passed through Lake City, Wabasha (setting for the Grumpy Old Men movies) and Kellogg (we were too late for the reputedly amazing LARK toy store and museum). We ended up in Winona for the night where there’s not too much going on even with the college in town, but we found Bub’s (pronounced “Boobs” – hee hee), a great place for a beer. Dinner (meh) was at Jefferson’s, an old train depot.

Since we had planned to get to the farm a little after noon on Sunday, we drove a loop away from the Mississippi through Stockton (ravaged by the August 18th flood), Rochester (home of the Mayo Clinic) and Lanesboro. Lanesboro is tiny and adorable and appears to subsist entirely on tourism: you can ride bicycles on the converted rails-to-trails and you can paddle/tube the Root River. You can also have handmade brats with grainy mustard, sauerkraut, spaetzle and home-brewed root beer at Das Wurst Haus, all served to live accordion music. After that brief lunch, we made our way to the farm where we settled into the Granary (which they’ve converted into outstanding guest quarters) and then drove to the boathouse on the Mississippi. We took a tour of the river’s backwaters (ducks, geese, egrets, white pelicans, cormorants) on their pontoon boat; Kenny is an avid sportsman and conservationist, and has a wealth of knowledge about this area. Dinner was sauerkraut and Canadian bacon pizza at Happy Joe’s – way better than it sounds, I promise - and Fat Squirrel beer, bottled by the New Glaurus brewery. That night, tucked into bed in the Granary, we fell asleep to the coyotes singing in the fields.

On Monday it rained and rained, so Terry and Ken took us on a driving tour of the area. The flood and mudslide damage from the “big rain” was just unbelievable on both sides of the Mississippi: railroad tracks knocked off the ties, roads and bridges buckled, whole houses swept off their foundations. After checking out the rain-drenched view from Great River Bluff State Park, we had Chicago-style hotdogs for lunch, picked up Hmong egg rolls for dinner and stopped in for ice cream (I tasted the cult flavor Blue Moon but went with something chocolaty and caramel-y instead). The rain let up enough for us to take a walk with the dogs on the farm’s tractor road, edging around the recent washouts, and then it was a tasty stir-fry and those egg rolls for dinner.

The next day was sunny and clear, with wind gusts up to 35 mph. Ken and Mr. Mouse attempted some fishing anyhow; the fish were deemed “sparse” upon their return. We four then went over the river to Wisconsin for a 22-mile round trip bicycle ride on the Great River State Trail from Midway to Trempealeau and back again, taking a break at the hotel in Trempealeau for Fat Squirrel beers and sandwiches we’d packed. Mr. Mouse had to buy the first round of beers: Ken bet him that Terry would be able to talk non-stop for the whole 11-mile ride. The return trip was much quicker as the wind gusts were at our backs, but I was still wishing for padded bike shorts by the time we were done. Dinner was a fish fry: crappie and bluegill filets, none caught that morning.

Wednesday was also sunny and clear, but not windy and thus deemed perfect for floating on the Root River from Lanesboro to Whalan. Terry and Ken have the coolest little one-person float-boats (also these) I’ve ever seen: a metal frame with a backed seat, mounted on two pontoons and steered with two oars. So very fun. The river was a lot higher than normal, due to all the recent rain, so it was hardly necessary to row; this trip usually takes five or so hours but we did it in under four. The boys fished off and on, while Terry read in the calm stretches and I just bobbed around, admiring the scenery. After putting the gear away, the boys and I headed to the Mississippi for some pre-dinner fishing and then we all had dinner together (with lefse!) at the boathouse.

We left Terry and Ken’s farm the next morning for some exploration on our own, heading across the river to WI. During breakfast at a diner in Stoddard, we saw an ad for the Vernon County Fair in Viroqua, so off we went for a couple of hours. After continuing south on the Great River Road to Prairie du Chien, we took scenic 60 East along the Wisconsin River, passing through Spring Green and Sauk City, before arriving in Madison. We had burgers and beer at the Great Dane Brewing Company (Mr. Mouse’s burger had one beef patty and one bratwurst patty and was served on a pretzel dough roll). We then had postprandial beers at a great bar, the Old Fashioned Tavern, located at the feet of the beautiful capitol building.

Friday was our last full day. We had breakfast at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner in a funky Madison neighborhood, and then explored the University’s campus a bit. The school is huge, but quite pretty, located on the shores of Lake Mendota. We headed out of town along the lake shore and then hightailed it via the interstate back to the Mississippi River, where we continued on the Great River Road, but this time going north. We passed through Alma, Pepin and lovely little Stockholm, finally crossing the river one last time at Prescott. After checking into our hotel (located right next to the behemoth Mall of America), we drove into Minneapolis since we had gotten tickets to the Twins game that night. We got a great parking spot and then stopped for pre-game beers at Dan Kelly’s Irish pub (and watched the first inning of the Red Sox v. Yankees game) and Hubert’s sports bar (across the street from the Metrodome; second inning of the Yankees game). Although the Twins lost to the Tigers 4-2, we got to eat brats and drink Summit ESB, and Mr. Mouse scored a blaze-orange Twins baseball hat for me, offering the girl sitting next to us $5 for it. We left a little before the game was over and quickly made it back to our hotel for a nightcap in the bar (and the 8th and 9th innings of the Yankee game).

That was it. We had to get up EARLY the next morning to scrape the frost off our car before turning it into Budget where they had misread the starting mileage and thought we’d put 5,000 miles on it (it was more like 900). It was an easy trip home again and now we’re slogging through the laundry and battling post-vacation depression. It was a great trip. And I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that it won’t take another 26 years before we go back.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Guest blogger book review: Skinny Bitch

Loyal readers, today I have an extra special treat for you: my very first Guest Blogger, LyndaLove. Lynda is one of my BFFs (is someone over the age of 14 allowed to use that term?) and is very funny. She's very pretty too, but I guess you can't so much tell that from just writing. Anyway, she sent me this email today and I think it qualifies as a book review.

I was just reading Friend Mouse and it's all book reviews. Gosh, you read a lot. You know I don't really read, but I did read Skinny Bitch. It's a diet book that's a couple of years old written by two women, a former model and a former modeling agent. It recently became a hit again after Posh Spice (what I'll always call her)/Victoria Beckham was spotted carrying this book around. Of course, I bought it.

I was hoping for diet advice like, drink your gin with DIET tonic. Or, skip dessert and just have a menthol cigarette. Or, get your friends to eat more so by comparison you look thinner. Those are all things a skinny bitch would do, right? But no, it's a Vegan all organic diet and you only eat when you are hungry. Sigh. I bet Posh Spice was disappointed too. I skipped right over the chapter that tells us how we make animals suffer and then we eat them. Throughout the book there is some weird gratuitous cursing. And for me to notice that, it must really be gratuitous. Some of my favorite lines from the book were like, "stop being such a cheap asshole and buy organic already!" That's gold. At the end of the book they admit that they needed a catchy title and they are not bitches, and don't want anyone reading to be a bitch. They also say you won't get skinny necessarily, just healthy.

What I took away from the book: I've started eating organic fruit for breakfast. I'm buying cage free natural chicken and eggs and I switched to organic yogurt and veggies. They kind of scare you into it, which I suppose is okay.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Book review: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

I cannot believe that I have never read any Terry Pratchett before - it's a travesty! This book came highly recommended both by my friend Kevin C. (who loaned his copy to me) and by fellow blogger and blogcritic Katie (who is MUCH more prolific than I and yet still took the time to put a comment on this humble post of mine) and I loved it. Pratchett writes like a more sophisticated Piers Anthony during Anthony's early years, before his Xanth books became all puns and no story.

Guards! Guards! takes place in the murky city of Ankh-Morpork on Pratchett's fantastical Discworld. A sinister cabal of wizards, in an attempt to take over the city, has summoned a big old dragon. Their hopes of controlling the beastie are soon shown to be futile as the dragon decides that it wants to be king. It is up to the limp Night Guard, led by disillusioned and drunk Captain Vimes, to rescue the city. To this end, the Guard enlists young Carrot, a human foundling raised by dwarves, and an orangutan who just happens to be the Librarian of the University's Library.

I lost track of the times I laughed out loud while reading this book. Pratchett's descriptions of the city's state of decrepitude and the cravenness of its citizenry are very funny, and he is spot-on about libraries and bookstores:

"The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can be readily proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one of those that looks as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more staircases than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookstore is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read."

and
"Books bend time and space. One reason the owners of those aforesaid little rambling, poky secondhand bookshops always seem slightly unearthly is that many of them really are, having strayed into this world after taking a wrong turn in their own bookshops in worlds where it is considered commendable business practice to wear carpet slippers all the time and open your shop only when you feel like it."

Anyone who has ever been in a really local secondhand independent bookstore knows exactly what Pratchett is talking about (thanks to Kevin for reminding me of the quotes).

Once again I have discovered a book that has led me to many others: according to these guys, there are 41 Discworld books, including six more that focus on Vimes and his Night Watch. If the town library is sufficiently stocked, I may never write about television again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

So, is the t.v. broken or what?

I know: the heading just above reads "... a recap blog for ... t.v." Seems a misnomer seeing how there's been no television show even mentioned in thirteen posts. Has this turned into a literary blog with randomly-sprinkled movie reviews and recipes? Fear not, loyal reader - I promise I will not stray too far from my chosen path. It's just that it's been summer and the t.v. viewing has been for crap.

But rejoice! For the new fall season is nearly upon us and I have assembled my list of shows that [may] bear watching:
My mom will be horrified having read that list - too much t.v.! Truly, she's right. Pluswhich, there is no earthly way that I could possibly recap ALL those shows: I'm only human (and, until the Mouses win Powerball, I gotta keep my day job). I am going to pick up my recaps of Heroes and Lost for sure, and Mr. Mouse wants me to add FNL to the recap list. Of the others, I plan on recording DH and fast-forwarding through everything that is not Nathan Fillion; watching The Office is a rule in my house; and my gut tells me I probably won't get through more than one or two episodes of Chuck - Adam Baldwin notwithstanding -and Reaper.

That leaves Pushing Daisies and Moonlight as the possible new shows I'm going to want to watch, and despite the Jason Dohring factor I'm not holding out much hope for the one about the vampire detective in L.A. Been there, done that and own all five seasons. (They keep saying that it's nothing like Angel but you have to admit the comparison is unavoidable.)

So, what shows are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Book review: Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Last book read on vacation (916 pp.)/finished at home 8/27/07 (maybe 8/28/07).

I don’t even know where to start on this one. This is a massive book, set, variously in Massachusetts in the early 1700s, England in the mid- to late- 1600s, and Germany, France, Holland and Northern Africa in the late 1600s. It is ostensibly an historical fiction, dealing with Natural Philosophy (the beginnings of science), the complicated British and Continental politics of the time and the establishment of a financial system. But there is also anti-slavery commentary, alchemy, a fair amount of sex and, if I’m not mistaken, there may be a time-traveler or some other ageless magical being. This book is a real chimera.

The cast of characters is enormous and includes both real people (Isaac Newton, Samuel Pepys, a preadolescent Ben Franklin, John Locke, Nell Gwyn, Christiaan Huygens, King Charles II and his brother James, the Duke of York) and fictional personages. Three of the fictional folk are the characters around whom this book revolves: Daniel Waterhouse (erstwhile scientist, courtier, Puritan and associate of important people), Jack Shaftoe (syphilitic beggar/soldier/adventurer) and Eliza (former concubine in a Turkish harem and, after her rescue by Jack, spy and financier). Daniel has the greatest amount of pages and Jack has the least, which is too bad since I found Jack to be the most entertaining by a long shot.

Daniel is deeply involved with the Natural Philosophers and the alchemists (and when Stephenson started reproducing Newton’s geometric proofs I started skipping ahead a few pages) and also with the intrigues surrounding Charles II (again, as I am not well-versed in 17th century British political history, I did some skipping ahead here too). Eventually, long after Jack has liberated her from the Turkish harem, Eliza becomes entangled in the Duke of York’s personal and political machinations (skip, skip). Jack is a rake and a scoundrel, a soldier and a Vagabond, and he is slowly going insane from the “French pox.” I didn’t skip any pages while Jack’s story was on the front burner, but Stephenson abandons him on a Turkish slave ship, possibly soon to be dead, about two-thirds of the way through the book.

Daniel and Eliza’s lives do end up intertwining towards the end, and I would assume that their connection will continue, as Quicksilver is only Volume One of The Baroque Cycle. I would hope that Jack would reappear too as otherwise his character got pretty short shrift. Unfortunately, as I have no doubt that the next two books in this Cycle, The Confusion and The System of the World, are as immense and convoluted as this first one, I just don’t think I’m going to be able to find out for myself. Sorry, Jack.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Book reviews: Mike and Psmith; Blandings Castle and Elsewhere

Fourth and fifth vacation books, finished 08/22/07.

I made a small miscalculation here with my P.G. Wodehouse selections: Mike and Psmith and Enter Psmith are not, as I thought, separate novels. In fact, they are the same novel, so I ended up shortchanging myself with regard to Psmith – who is a truly hilarious character. (As a consolation prize, Lord Emsworth of the Blandings Castle stories is nearly as entertaining.)

Mike and Psmith is the fluffy story of two English schoolboys who meet each other on their first day at a new school. Mike is a solid, stolid, loyal cricket-whiz; Psmith is an elegant, eloquent, debonair dude. The two quickly band together to take over the school, doing battle with bullies, crotchety school masters, perceived blackmailers and stout nightwatchmen with aplomb.

Blandings Castle and Elsewhere is a collection of six Blandings Castle short stories, five Mulliner in Hollywood stories, and one miscellaneous story about a very smart young woman who is not quite ready to be married. I didn’t care that much for the 1930s British POV on Hollywood, but I very much liked the Blandings Castle stories: Lord Emsworth is an elderly country lord who worries about his prize-winning pig, has multiple power struggles with his overbearing sister and his Scottish head-gardener and – this actually made me snort out loud – “invariably wished [that his youngest son] had been something entirely different in manners, morals and appearance, and had been the son of somebody else living a distance away.”

Having had just these small tastes of Wodehouse, I am anxious now for more – for more of the fabulous Psmith, more of the eccentric inhabitants of Blandings Castle and also introducing myself to the world of Wooster and Jeeves. Luckily, Wodehouse wrote 96 titles during his 70+ year career so I shall be easily satiated.

You know, this vacation list I selected has so far been amazing: I have found 1-2 more books I want to read for every one I have read!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Superbad - mini-review

Finally, finally, I went to see Superbad last night. I even got Mr. Mouse to go with me and, wonder of wonders, he didn't fall asleep in the theater: he's now 2 for 4, having stayed awake for Superbad and Knocked Up, but having fallen asleep (and snoring) in Little Miss Sunshine and the second Austin Powers movie. I guess he's an Apatow/Rogen fan. Well, me too!

Everyone who is interested in this movie already knows the plot: three high school seniors, two of them best friends since kindergarten and all three dateless dorks, go on a quest to obtain alcohol for a house party in order to score chicks. One of the guys, the dorkiest of all, manages to get a fake I.D. and becomes "McLovin," a 25-year old Hawaiian organ donor. (McLovin rules, by the way.) It's a cleverer, funnier Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, sans Neil Patrick Harris, but plus some actual sweetness not usually found in movies with this many dick jokes. And, boy oh boy, are there dick jokes! I can't imagine how much fun the filmmakers had when they sat down to imagine and then draw the dozens upon dozens of penis pictures for the two montages (all vital to the plot, of course). It's pretty friggin' funny.

Jonah Hill (also recently in Knocked Up and Accepted) plays Seth, an obnoxious kid who tries to make up for being a fat undate-able dork by pure brazenness, although there's honest fear underneath all his obscene bombast. Michael Cera plays Evan pretty much how he played George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development (sweet, loyal, often put-upon) but since exactly six people ever watched AD when it was on*, I suppose that's okay. The kid who plays McLovin is a total newcomer to the movies, apparently found at a casting call; he steals every single scene he's in. And while I've read reviews complaining that Seth Rogen's dumb cop was played too broadly to be believable, I still found him dang funny. He looks good too, like he's lost some weight.

What can I say about the language? A friend warned us that the language was really raunchy (something about setting a new record for the f-bomb, which I can't believe) but Mr. Mouse and I both agree that after watching a season of Deadwood, the Superbad language hardly registered. Not that we would recommend this movie to either of our mothers, mind.

At any rate, I really enjoyed Superbad and found it much funnier and better-paced than Knocked Up, which in turn I thought funnier than most of the dreck that passes for mainstream comedy these days. I hope this summer's successes help make Seth Rogen a real player in Hollywood. Oh - and the funk music is just outstanding! I'm going to have to raid the soundtrack for my iPod for sure.

* Go rent Arrested Development right now! Brilliant, irreverent and so very funny!