Sunday, November 30, 2008
Nice to find out where the Haitian's been most of this season. It was also nice to find out that he was chasing down a Level 5 escapee whose power (invulnerability) and relationship to the Haitian (his brother) make it clear why the Haitian was the best used hunting him down instead of partnering with Bennet.
Hero: No time lost finding Hiro
When it was revealed that Parkman and Daphne's job was to find Hiro, I groaned, thinking they were about to depart on yet another multi episode detour away from the main narrative. Needless to say, I was relieved when Hiro showed up at their door before the scene even ended (of course, they got detoured anyway, but more on that later).
Villain: Elle's personality
Over the last two episodes we've see Elle filled with self-loathing over helping create Sylar and anger at him for killing her father. Ultimately, she let it all go and moved on. She remained kittenish and playful afterwards with Sylar, but I got the impression from that she had turned a corner. Then this week, she's urging Sylar to stand up for himself and embrace the serial killer within...um, wasn't she horrified at herself for following the orders that created that serial killer just a few episodes ago? The same serial killer she hated for killing her dad?
Okay, I get that she's a sociopath with wild mood swings, but this teetertotter approach to her character is driving me nuts. The problem is that if the writers are going to swing her around this wildly every week, it makes any development of her character essentially meaningless, because ultimately, she'll just ignore it and act completely different in the next episode. Kristen Bell is one of the best actors on the show; its a shame the writers don't give her better, or at least, more consistent material with which to work.
Hero: HRG's a badass
There's definitely always been the implication that Bennet's got some physical skills; after all, he's lasted pretty long as the "one of us" side of a partnership alongside more powerful people, and all those escapees seem to fear him despite his lack of powers. So it was fun to see Bennet display some of those skills to Claire.
Villain: Where's Meredith?
Meredith was brought in this season to keep an eye on Claire while HRG was off hunting escapees. Then, she partnered up with Noah for, as far as we know, one case, before Noah was reassigned to protect Claire. But now Meredith is nowhere to be seen. It seems to me that having someone with a power helping protect Claire would make Bennet's job that much easier (after all, one of us, one of them) and we know Bennet trusts Meredith, at least, with Claire's well being, since he brought her in to fulfill the same duty he's now doing solo. Her absence, with no explanantion given, in this episode was a major flaw.
Mohinder: Wasssss onccccce a maannnn...
This is more an aside than anything else, but Mohinder's transformation and cocooning prior to the eclipse made me think of the GI Joe movie, in which Cobra Commander slowly transforms
into a giant snake and spends most of the film moaning that he "wassssss onccccce a maaaaannn."
Villain: Nathan and the eclipse
I'll admit this a nerdy nitpick, but when Nathan and Peter came crashing down in Haiti, Peter mentioned their was an eclipse the first time Nathan flew. Except Nathan flew for the first time at night, when goons were ramming his car and crippling his wife. Maybe the power-activating eclipse happened earlier that day, but I was always under the impression that Nathan's manfiestation and that accident occured a few months before the pilot and its eclipse.
Maybe Nathan's been lying to Peter about the first time he flew, so Peter thinks it was the same day as that eclipse? Nathan was, after all, deeply ashamed of flying away from the crash that injured his wife. Otherwise, it's a pretty glaring inconsistency.
Hero: Peter and Nathan together
Continuity snafus aside, it was fun to see Nathan and Peter hanging out together. For brothers whose family is central to the show, the two often seem to find themselves on opposite ends of the story, so I appreciated seeing them working together and bickering about past events.
Hero: Bennet's glasses
I don't know if it was a direction or something the actor improvised, but I liked how Bennet removed his glasses when comforting Claire and then, after leaving her room, put them back on, resolved to extract vengeance.
Here: Daphne's secret
When Hiro showed up at Matt's door, I was so excited they wouldn't be going on a detour that when Parkman idiotically read Daphne's mind and sent her running, my rage was all the greater, because now there was going to be a detour brought on by character stupidity.At that point, I officially got fed up with the mysterious secret that Arthur used to control and scare Daphne and, assuming it wouldn't get resolved anytime soon, was all prepared to label teasing it again a "villain" of this episode.
But surprisingly, they did finally reveal her secret this episode, and it actually turned out to be a pretty good one. Years of movies and TV shows had me initially suspcious of her bumpkin father, but in the end, it turned out to be something simple yet effective: it makes perfect sense why she would be so scared of someone who could take away her power for good.
Villain: The cliffhanger
Dr. Bitz pointed this out to me, and I suppose I should technically wait until next episode to decry it, but there's just no good way to resolve that cliffhanger. Love 'em or hate 'em, Sylar and Elle are fan favorites and two of the best actors on the show, so I'm fairly certain neither one is going to die. Which means Bennet will either miss or not take the shot, and there's no explanation I can think of for why he'd do either that wouldn't make him less of a badass. So its either kill a fan favorite or wussify Bennet: neither option is a very good resolution.
The Setup: At Ikea-parody "Shøp" the Simpsons run into Apu and his wife Manjula. Their infatuation with Maggie convinces them to have a baby.
Homer: Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the internet and all.
Homer: Man, the last nine months sure were crazy.
Bart: I'll say. I learned the true meaning of Columbus Day.
Marge: I enjoyed a brief but memorable stint as Sideshow Marge.
Lisa: I became the most popular girl in school, but blew it by being conceited.
Bart: And then I learned the true meaning of winter.
Marge: I knew you had your hands full with the babies, so I baked you some banana bread.
Apu: Oh hallelujah, our problems are solved. We have banana bread.
Teebore's Take: Definitely an improvement, and one of a handful of episodes that features a change to a character's status quo that sticks. Also, the zaniness (in this case, the octuplets getting sold to a zoo to perform in a variety show and Homer and Apu's subsequent attempt to break them out) actually has a point, as it satirizes the media spotlight that often gets thrust on "multiples" specifically and celebrity babies in general. The Simpson family getting shoehorned into Apu and Manjula's story doesn't seem as forced as some supporting cast-centric episodes do, considering they did host their wedding, making the Simpsons more than just familiar customers to the Nahasapemapetilans.
Selling the octuplets to a zoo where they perform in a variety show before Homer replaces them by unicycling past cobras with Butch Patrick on his shoulders is pretty zany, but the zaniness is mitigated a bit by the fact that its done, in part, in the service of satire.
Aside from a few insensitive quips, Homer spends most of the episode actually helping Apu and Manjula, both to get pregnant and later, to steal back their babies.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
DVR: all the convenience of recording shows without the thinks-for-itself self-programming (and the inherent fear of death by robot uprising therein) of Tivo.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Speaking of robot uprisings, I'm behind a few episodes, but so far, this show has really stepped it up a notch in the second season, with some interesting new plot developments and clever writing and directing. (John's still too much of a whiner, though...)
Pizza Hut's breadsticks
The episode of Saved by the Bell in which the gang decides it's better to have Zack drive drunk than to let Screech drive. Hilarity ensues.
The 25th Anniversary GI Joe figures: now into its 26th anniversary year, Hasbro just keeps pumping these gems out. And now they're making exact replicas of all the vehicles I never had as a kid, like the Cobra Rattler and the GI Joe SHARC.
Old Godzilla movies
Christopher Walken in Batman Returns
That time Gentlemen of Leisure VP Hulk pretended to be a robot in a clown suit whilst juggling circus animals
Monday, November 24, 2008
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comics. I mean A LOT of comics.
The pusher to me falling off the wagon and needing a stronger daily fix – MARVEL.com.
You see, Marvel has an online service that allows you to read thousands of their comics for a modest monthly fee (About $5/month with a yearly membership).
Currently they are boasting 5000+ issues available online with each weekday adding 5 more. Mostly, they have digitized older comics such as the first 100 or so issues of their flagship titles such as Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, and Fantastic Four, but they also try and get you hooked on their current monthly titles by offering you a taste to the tune of the first 6-10 issues of a newer series.
Now keep in mind I’ve only been a member for a month. Here’s what I’ve read so far –
As Opalnan pointed out – Hulk’s hiding in a circus by juggling elephants. A lot of the dialogue is repetitive and boring but the introduction and interaction of many marvel mainstays keep me wanting to know more.
Black Panther 1-18
Written by the guy behind such cinematic gems as House Party and Boomerang, Reginald Hudlin. I was a huge fan of Christopher Priest, his Quantum & Woody series as well as his take on the Black Panther, but I think Mr. Hudlin take the Panther to an epic level and handles his royalty and place in the Marvel Universe with skill and respectability.
Ed Brubaker is a genius. When I originally heard Bucky was the new Captain America I was dumbfounded. There was no way Marvel could make that seem realistic. In steps Brubaker. Not only did he legitimize Bucky as a bad ass, but the sense of foreboding in the first dozen issues of the series is tangible with the knowledge that Steve Rodgers will be dying off.
Civil War: The Confession 1
Brilliant short story examining the dichotomy of war.
I feel this series could have been great had it been allowed to run its course. After all, Emma was evil. Figuring out how she got there would have been glorious.
Moon Knight 1-10
Great design / Batman ripoff. I love how the writer full acknowledges how pathetic Moon Knight was and uses it as a storytelling device to showcase the characters' seeming insanity.
Also read - Astonishing X-Men 1-9, Books Of Doom 1-6, Bullseye: Greatest Hits 1-5, Various issues of Fantastic Four, House of M 1-8, Punisher Bullseye 1-5, Dr. Strange - The Oath, and dozens of others. I need a girlfriend . . .
Friday, November 21, 2008
The Setup: After showing up at work 26 hours late, Homer skives off early to go bowling with Lenny and Carl, wherein his rage at Mr. Burns helps him bowl 300.
Burns: Turn around, Simpson
Homer: No! I can't get in trouble if I can't see you.
Smithers: I'm afraid he's got us, sir.
Lisa: Dad, what she's saying is, you've had your moment in the sun and now it's time for you to gracefully step aside.
Homer: Lisa, I know what's going on here. They did it to Jesus, and now they're doing it to me.
Marge: Are you comparing yourself to Our Lord?
Homer: Well, in bowling ability.
Ron Howard: Look, I'd love to help you out, Homer, but I'm taking my kids to the zoo.
Homer: That's great -- even big stars take their kids to the zoo.
Howard: Well, it's a different zoo, containing animals *you've* never heard of.
Howard's daughter: Daddy, we're missing the fantastipotamus. She only sings twice a day.
Teebore's Take: I remember greatly disliking this episode, but it's more boring and scattershot than anything else. The best bit is the first act, with Homer's bowling of a perfect game, Marge's hilarious over-the-top concern for Lenny ("Oh, no, not Lenny -- not Lenny!!" and her subsequent shrine to his well being) and Lenny's inadvertent attempts to jinx Homer by ordering a banana split that cost $7.10. After that, it's pretty blah as Homer meanders his way into and out of fame before the final act (which is notable for giving Maggie the most attention she's received in an episode since season three's "Streetcar Named Marge") ends in the zany fashion we've come to expect.
Homer sleeps through a day-and-a-half, eats several mouthfuls of toxic waste, survives a jump off the top of a skyscraper, and is single-handedly rescued from drowning by Maggie.
Homer casually ignores Maggie at the beginning, uses his anger at Mr. Burns to help his bowling game, and is generally annoying and arrogant during his 15 minutes of fame.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I'm going to assume that Arthur already has the teleporting ability we witnessed when he popped back from Africa to chat with Sylar and that he didn't take it from Hiro, since Hiro clearly still has his powers and thus far, Arthur leaves a person dry when he nabs their abilities. The last thing this show needs is a villain with time travel abilities, because the "why didn't the he just go back in time and..." game is hard to enough to play with a good guy who at least has morals and guidelines.
Villain: Arthur didn't take Hiro's power
I'm happy he didn't, but why the hell didn't he? I know the episode later established definitively that Arthur can touch people without taking their power (so its a conscious decision on his part) but why wouldn't he take Hiro's power? Obviously, he wanted to wipe his memory, and we can assume he would have taken his power eventually if he hadn't been distracted by the eclipse painting, thus allowing Ando to get them the hell out of there, but why wouldn't he steal Hiro's power and then wipe his memory? Sure, I can come up with some answers to why that scene played out the way it did, but I shouldn't have to; that's the writer's job.
Villain: Sylar's power
I'm reluctant to complain about this, because for once the show made a point of explaining how someone's power works, and furthermore, the explanation involved a long-running question (if Sylar's power is to know how things work, how does that translate into the ability to do whatever he's figured out? After all, I know how a car works, but that doesn't mean I could build one...). But I am going to complain about it, because I would have liked for the explanation to be a little more clear cut and not filled with so much ambigous psychological mumbo-jumbo. Ultimately, I think they were trying to say that Sylar's power is like Peter's: he can use empathy to absorb someone's power without taking it away or slicing off their head. But of course, this makes us wonder how Sylar ended up with two "base" powers (intuitive knowledge and empathic power absorption) when everyone else just has one.
Villain: Hiro as a ten year old
Really, my problem has nothing to do with him thinking he's ten. 10-year-old Hiro, sadly, isn't a whole lot different than 28-year-old Hiro, but with so much else going on in the main Primatech vs Pinehearst story and stories peripheral to it, his storyline remains a distraction from the main events going on elsewhere. Once again, Hiro finds himself involved in a plot as far removed from the main narrative as possible. And from the sounds of upcoming episodes, his story is just going to continue to meander further and further away from the main plot.
Hero: Sylar's new clock sound effect
The creepy "ticking clock" sound effect used to underscore times when Sylar was in "harvest" mode is one of the show's best technical effects. So I thought it was pretty cool that they built on that idea by using a more triumphant (but still kind of omnious) "clock chiming" sound effect when he absorbed Elle's power. Hopefully this new sound cue will be used in much the same way as the old ticking was.
Hero: Nathan not as stupid as his brother
Sure, it can be argued that Nathan was more informed about Arthur's true nature when he barged into Pinehearst than Peter was, but I like to think Nathan's refusal to immediately embrace his father (literally and figuratively) is a sign that he's smarter than his brother.
Hero: Sides are chosen
I'm a sucker for those uber-cheesy "lines are drawn, sides are chosen" lineups, so of course I loved this episode's completely over-the-top flashing of a "Hero" followed by a "Villain." It suggests the climatic, powered free-for-all fight that we've been waiting for throughout the show's entire run is drawing ever nearer. Of course, I know we're probably not ever going to get that much-yearned for super brawl for three reasons:
1. The "Villains" side is ridiculously lopsided, with Matt and Daphne the only ones with any kind of offensive power alongside power-less Peter, defensive Claire, useless-power Nathan and Ma Petrelli with her vague dream powers.
2. The promos for next week suggest an eclipse occurs that takes away everyone's powers.
3. This is Heroes.
But I'll wait until that brawl officially doesn't happen to officially call it a "villain."
Hero: Claire's the catalyst
This revelation (while not nearly disguised well enough to warrant the final reveal, what with Arthur's comments, his file on Claire, and Knox and Flint going after her in this episode alone) almost makes you think these writers actually do map some of this stuff out beforehand. Now we know what it was that Sylar saw in Claire's head that made her different from the others, we know (presumably) who the "Chosen One" Kaito referenced in his video will to Hiro is, we can speculate as to why Kaito would even tell his idiot son about the formula (because even if it fell into the wrong hands, Kaito knew they'd still need Claire) and it even recalls the flashback scene in season one in which Kaito hands off an infant Claire to Bennet (though I don't think I'm quite ready to believe the writers had this plot reveal planned out that far in advance-they just made the best of the available material, something a good retcon should do).
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Setup: Inspired by the chivalry on display in a Zorro film, Homer begins challenging everyone to a duel when he feels his honor has been affronted; after a Southern duelist agrees to his challenge with pistols at dawn, the family flees to Homer's barren boyhood farm house (yes, the same one we last saw burning to the ground...).
Marge: Well, I'm not crazy about the plutonium or nicotine, but it is very nice to see Bart eating his vegetables.
Zorro: No, no. It's a "Z." I am Zorro. "Z" for Zorro! I have come to return King Arthur to the throne.
Bart: It's a history lesson come to life!
Lisa: No, it isn't. It's totally inaccurate.
Bart: Quiet! Here come the Ninjas.
Between that and this list of the movie's credits, I'm fairly certain the Simpson family watched the greatest movie ever created (at least until Homer and Ron Howard's movie about a robot driving instructor who travels back in time (for some reason) and whose best friend is a talking pie gets made, at least):
Zorro ................................. John Byner
Robot Zorro ......................... Shawn Wayans
Mrs. Zorro ........................... Rita Rudner
Scarlet Pimpernel ...... Curtis "Booger" Armstrong
King Arthur ......................... Cheech Marin
Man in the Iron Mask ................ Gina Gershon
Wise Nun .............................. Posh Spice
Stupid Nun .......................... Meryl Streep
Time Traveler #1 ......... Stone Cold Steve Austin
Orangutan at Dance ..................... "Puddles"
Gay-Seeming Prince ................. Spalding Gray
Man Beating Mule .................... Eric Roberts
Mule Beating Man ........................... "Gus"
Hiccuping Narrator ......................... Pele
President Van Buren ................. Robert Evans
Corky ............................ Anthony Hopkins
Voice of Magic Taco ............. James Earl Jones
The Producers would like to thank:
Film Board of Canada
The Philadelphia Flyers
The Makers of Whip Balm
Mr. Robert Guccione
The Teamsters Pension Fund
AAABest Bail Bonds
Mr. and Mrs. Curtis "Booger" Armstrong
Robot Zorro? President Van Buren? James Earl Jones voicing a magic taco? Awesome!
Teebore's Take: I always think of this as the Tomacco episode, but the Tomacco doesn't really show up until the last third. This episode actually features a standard three act structure, surprising for this era: Homer dueling (act one), trying to raise a crop on the farm (act two) and dealing with the Tomacco (act three). The funniest bit (aside from the awesome Zorro film suggested by the credits that appear fleetingly for only a second or two) is probably the repeated sight gag of Homer always managing to get pinned under his overturned tractor. As such, this episode finishes the first disc of the season in a manner befitting the episodes before it: nothing terrible but nothing entirely memorable or hilarious either.
The Simpsons suddenly starting a new life on a farm? Plutonium-forged vegetable hybrids? A cadre of demented, addicted farm animals attacked the house? Yep, this definitely the zaniest episode of the season thus far, despite the traditional structure.
Jerk-ass Homer Quotient:
Homer's glove-slapping duel-challenging in the first act is prime jerk-ass material, and while the Homer of the second act is more the lovable oaf of the past, by the time he's trying to get everyone addicted to Tomacco he's back in jerk-ass form.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I enjoy a good retcon probably more than the average comic book reader, and while I certainly enjoyed this episode, it really wasn't what I was hoping it would be. Filling in the background regarding Arthur's survival and further attempts to rationalize Sylar's reformation (more on that later) are appreciated, but I was also hoping to get some background as to what, exactly, Arthur's motivations and ultimate goals are. Forty-some odd episodes into this show, and we now have two mysterious companies running around, still with no clear purpose or goal. Why was Primatech formed in the first place? What was its ultimate goal? When was Pineheast formed (before or after Arthur was "killed" by Ma Petrelli)? To what end was it created? Along with all that, the show is crying out for more background on the relationship between the ElderHeroes and their relationship to the Company(s). I didn't expect this episode to answer all those questions, but I was hoping it would answer SOMETHING. Unfortunately, it really didn't answer anything.
Hero: Linderman retcon
This episode was basically a series of retcons. A successful retcon is one that doesn't intentionally or obviously contradict what's already been established. A good retcon is one that not only succeeds, but actually makes you wonder if it wasn't planned all along by building on or adding to something small in previous scenes.
The revelations involving Linderman in this episode are an example of a good retcon. Knowing that Arthur ordered the attack on Nathan that crippled his wife (and caused his ability to manifest) casts much of Linderman's interactions with Nathan later in season one in a new light, especially the scene where Linderman healed Nathan's wife. Before, it was viewed as an additional manipulative element to get Nathan to go along with the plan. But after this episode, that scene can also be viewed as an act of contrition on Linderman's part, setting something right that he inadvertently caused. By casting the season 1 villain in a more sympathetic light it further villifies Arthur, the current villain, without having to kill off more villains.
Hero: At least they're trying...
I'm fairly "meh" regarding the season long push to reform Sylar, but I at least appreciate the effort the writers are going to in order to sell it. This is definitely a writing staff that doesn't seem above simply telling us "yeah, Sylar was remorseful all along. He's really not that bad a guy" instead of showing us that, so I'll give them credit for trying to sell the idea.
Unfortunately, the Sylar retcon in this episode, was, barely, a successful one and certainly not a good one. And I can question how successful it truly was, as I'm pretty sure the idea that the Company in general and Bennet specifically being not only aware of Sylar but understanding how his power works contradicts some of Bennet's interactions with Sylar in the first season. But it's been awhile since I've seen those episodes, so I could be wrong. Maybe it all fits. I'm also curious to rewatch Sylar's scene with Elle from earlier this season (when he tried to take her power and she inadverntently freed the Level 5 inmates) to see if any of the relationship we see here is either hinted at or outright contradicted. I'll take back a lot of what I've said about the writers if it was hinted at, but I think the best we can reasonably hope for is that it wasn't outright contradicted by this episode.
The best retcons are the ones that make you think, maybe, the writer(s) had it planned all along. The problem with retconning remorse and an uncontrollable hunger into Sylar is that we actually know for a fact this wasn't planned from the beginning. Sylar's development from season 1 boogieman to a member of the show's principal family of characters was born out of the work the actor did with the character and the fan's response to it. But Sylar the character existed (and appeared) on the show before the actor was even cast, so we KNOW those kinds of development wasn't planned. This makes it all the harder for us to buy the idea that during all those scenes in season 1 of Sylar being EEEVVVIIIILLLL (like when he captured and tortured Mohinder or killed his mom) Sylar was actually remorseful and just being driven by the Hunger.
Still, points to the writers for at least trying to show us the development of the character instead of just telling us he's always been that way, because the writers say so.
Villain: What, ultimately, was the point of Hiro seeing all this?
The episode made a point of framing what we saw as a "spirit walk" experienced by Hiro; to what end? Hiro might have learned Arthur was still alive, intent on warning Angela, but he's too late for that, even if Arthur hadn't attacked him. Sylar's relationship with Elle doesn't have any bearing on the plot. Meredith's backstory, while interesting to see, was so detached from the central narrative that I think there has to be something in it that will become important later on. If so, hopefully that will tie in with why Hiro needed to watch this episode along with the audience. Perhaps later episodes will offer meaning to this plot point; in the meantime, its a big unanswered question.
Hero: Meredith crashing the train
While fact that the train crash where Claire used her powers herocially for the first time was caused by her birth mother is more or less superfluous to both plot and character, it's the kind of "connect the dots" moment I love in an episode like this.
Not a bad episode, but rather a disappointing one, for what it didn't show us. Though your mileage may vary as far as the ongoing Sylar rehabilitation plot goes, and will definitely color your enjoyment of this episode. I'm also hoping the seemingly unrelated and inconsequential Meredith storyline herein was setting up something for the future that warrants placing it alongside backstory for two of the show's main characters.