Friday, April 20, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x19: "To Our Deaths And Beyond"

Written by Peter Blake & Iturri Sosa
Directed by Scott White

Ra's (to Bruce): "Today is not the day I die."

To be fair, having Bruce be the one to kill you in the first place always seemed like a flawed idea, Ra's. What I will somewhat commend the show was the restraint they took in resurrecting him, even if the character has popped up in flashbacks and dream sequences and we've had the likes of Sofia, Jerome/Jeremiah and Poison Ivy to keep us entertained over the last few months.

Having Bruce's blood be the thing to bring Ra's back did make some sense but it also felt a rather quick way to have him re-enter the fray and give us a doom laden portent of future events as well. So we know in the next month that a fire is going to cleanse/destroy the city and Bruce will emerge a Dark Knight, which has been the subtitle for this entire season. We still however don't know if these remaining three episodes will be our last for this show or if there's more to come.

What we do know is that Ra's seems to like Bruce enough to want him to remain alive and throughout this episode he also rigorously tested Barbara's resolve, forcing the latter to step out (temporarily) from her narcissism and prove herself worthy enough not to killed. Barbara might have lost the Demon's Head but she certainly reaffirmed her relationship with Tabitha and managed to retain her loyal Sisters of the League, which was an achievement in itself.

The focus on Barbara and Bruce this week meant also testing Selina's own loyalty issues. Here she showed that she was more focused on the bigger picture and actually was more sensible than both Bruce and Barbara at times. I like that Selina was the voice of reason here while the team up between Alfred and Tabitha while acquiring Ra's's knife was one of the funniest moments from the episode. I can't be the only one hoping those two work together again, right?

As for the rest of the episode, nice little subplot with Ed and Leslie this week. I like that Ed has realised that Leslie is using him but at the same time made her aware that something else has awoken in her, given her recent shooting of Sofia Falcone. While I don't ship the pairing, I don't hate it either and I do like that Ed initially looked like he was about to betray Leslie before turning the tables on both Oswald and Grundy.

For Nygmobblepot fans, I imagine this episode might have stung a little but in terms of betrayals, even Oswald should be able to get over this one, considering his own plans to betray Nygma beforehand. Even Ed himself told Oswald he held no grudge with him at all, so maybe next season they'll work together on something without a betrayal in the mix.

- Speaking of Sofia, is she going to play any kind of role in the next three episodes or do they plan to wake up her next season, assuming we get one?
- Leslie might want to come up with better solutions because some of the people in the Narrows clearly need to do something more productive than betting on cockroach eating contents.
- Do we know if Gordon and company have made any effort to try and apprehend the likes of Scarecrow, Tetch and Firefly?
- Chronology: Not long from where That's Entertainment left off.

To Our Deaths And Beyond certainly felt a bit of a filler episode compared to the previous batch of episodes we've had in the second half of this season. Still though the main plots were entertaining enough and the finale seems to be set up rather nicely as well, even if we have a two week break before the ball starts rolling there.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 25-28 Reviews

A great selection of episodes as the Joker impersonates royalty and one of my favourite original baddies makes their debut as well.

1x25: The Joker Trumps An Ace

A few senseless crimes here and there is nothing too new for the Joker but this time around, it seems that he wanted to go a little bigger with his escapades and befuddle the Dynamic Duo. We had him shrinking vans seemingly only then to snatch the Maharajah of Nimpah as well for good measure. This one ends on a pretty good cliffhanger when the Joker's latest accomplice tries to appeal to the Clown Prince to spare Batman and Robin, only for the latter to put them in a gas chamber. 7/10

1x26: Batman Sets The Pace

I liked the way both Batman and Robin got out of this particular bind but the highlight of this episode was of course, the Joker trying to pass himself off as the Maharajah of Nimpah in order to swindle money out of the Gotham City State Bank in order to discredit Batman before the latter and Robin were able to work out what the Joker was planning all along. It's not a classic two parter for the Clown Prince but it's a lot of fun nonetheless. 7/10

1x27: The Curse Of Tut

As much as I love this show's take on our classic villains, it also truly excelled itself with it's own creations and none better was timid professor, William Omaha McElroy turned criminal King Tut - having suffered a blow to the head and convinced that he's now the former Egyptian Pharaoh. In this first part, Tut has his acolytes making doom laden announcements in the park while also successfully managing to kidnap Bruce Wayne, who ends the episode bound and gagged to a gurney and doomed to go over a cliff. 8/10

1x28: The Pharaoh's In A Rut

The second part of this excellent story maintains the quality of the first part as Bruce saves himself but Tut doesn't hold off in arranging to have the billionaire playboy kidnapped again. Only this time, it's Batman who ends up being captive to Tut along with a fallen Nefertiti. Both of them are put through the Pebble Torture resulting in Batman having to do the Bat Dance while Tut himself is eventually reverted back to his original personality. It's easy to see why this character would later to go on to influence the similarly themed Maxie Zeus for the comics but this show got there first and while I like Zeus, Tut is just that bit more interesting, especially when you take Victor Buono's larger than life performance into account. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns and Death In Slow Motion/The Riddler's False Notion

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Review of Empire's 4x12: "Sweet Sorrow"

Written by Eric Haywood & Jamie Rosengard
Directed by Eric Haywood

Lucious: "I love you."
Cookie: "I love you too, that's all that matters."

I've seen a lot of praise for this particular episode and having just watched it there, I can see why. The main plot revolved around Cookie, having seen her suffering a heart attack with Lucious trying and mostly failing to get her to take things easy and for Cookie to do her best to maintain her independence.

It was nice to see Lucious in the caregiver position this time around, considering we had Cookie in that role for him earlier in the season. I did like that he brought in both Carol and Candace to look after their sister when he wasn't around. The show doesn't give us enough scenes with Cookie and her sisters but when it does, they're gems and seeing the three of them squabbling was very entertaining without it going overboard.

More importantly, it showed us that heart attacks run in the Holloway family as the ladies father had also suffered one when they were younger and it also set up the seeds for Cookie and her sisters mother to be introduced in a later episode. We already know that Alfre Woodard will be playing the role towards the end of the season, so I like the set up here for her impending arrival.

Meanwhile following Andre's revelation about causing the car bomb, this episode did have him on the outs with his family but at the same time, he was also the one to expose Eddie's takeover plan to both Lucious and Cookie. I did like that Eddie actually admitted his treachery to both Cookie and Lucious before they ran him out of the company. Of course, I don't think this will be the last we've seen of Eddie this season though.

As for Jamal, his attempts of cultivating good PR for himself went south pretty fast but I did like that he was supportive for Becky and her decision to have a termination. I also that J Pop was written pretty sympathetically and stepped up for Becky as well. You know an episode is on to a winner when the B-plot is as enjoyable to watch as the main plot.

- Jamal was interviewed by Good Morning America's Robin Roberts while Eddie and his second wife, Celeste interacted with Lupe Fiasco at the start of the episode.
- I wonder if Candace and Andre have ever talked about marrying spouses who are a white. Both Cookie and Carol teased Candace again over that.
- Standout music: Tiana and Hakeem's Big Shoes.
- Chronology: From where Without Apology left off.

Sweet Sorrow excelled with all the scenes Cookie had with Lucious, Carol and Candace while the Jamal/Becky bits were also effective. I'm intrigued to see how Eddie will also strike back now that the Lyons are aware of his plans and the sooner we see Cookie's mother, the better too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, April 13, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x18: "That's Entertainment"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Nick Copus

Gordon: "It's a long way down. You sure you'll outlive me?"
Jerome: "Oh, I'm sure because I'm more than a man. I'm an idea, a philosophy and I will live on in the shadows of Gotham's discontent. You'll be seeing me soon, Au Revoir."

Last time he was taken out properly, it was in The Last Laugh and back then, Jerome waxed on lyrically about how he'd live on because he was an idea that couldn't be suppressed. This time around, he made sure that his insane legacy would remain in the family as Jeremiah's fate took an exceptionally expected turn in the last scene of this episode.

Unlike some of the more avid fans, I have no issue with Jeremiah actually assuming the role of the Joker but I am surprised that Jerome's potential final act of malice wasn't saved for the finale. Then again, I guess with Gotham's fate lingering in the air, perhaps the showrunners want a Joker hook to help secure them a fifth season but whether or not it works out for them, we won't know until next month.

There is a chance that for now, Jerome might have some life left in him but truth be told, I'm actually hoping his death this time actually sticks. Jerome has been fun to watch as a character but if Jeremiah really is going to step in as the Joker, then Jerome needs to remain dead in order for Cameron Monaghan to help sell the performance as the 'good' twin becoming the city's most iconic and dangerous of criminals.

As for Jerome, I think we all guessed that his hijacking of the festival and demands for both Jeremiah and Bruce was a way to distract Gordon from the main plot of the episode. The laughing gas storyline served a few purposes but mainly it was Jeremiah who really has suffered the worst of it and Oswald got the chance to save the day by actually working with Gordon, even if Jeremiah had spotted his betrayal coming a mile off.

I quite liked the grudging team up with Oswald and Gordon in this episode. The former stopped the city from descending into the brink of madness, if not entirely for selfless reasons while the latter actually got some decent shots into Jerome and even took the latter out. On top of that we also got to see Bruce fighting Firefly for the briefest of moments in this episode as well as Selina stopping by for some birthday cake.

Meanwhile away from the madness of Jerome's latest actions, Barbara found herself getting more and more into being the new Demon's Head while Tabitha's attempts to take some sense into her ended badly for the latter. I'm not surprised that Barbara would believe her own hype but I also don't think Tabitha should be too trusting of those blokes who are claiming to be working for Ras either. Either way, it seems like this storyline will be coming to a head in the next episode.

- Alfred pretty much gave Bruce a proto-Batmobile at the start of this episode.
- We've got a new mayor who managed to survive this episode. Whether he survives the rest of the season will be interesting to see.
- No Leslie, Nygma or Butch/Grundy in this episode.
- Chronology: February 19th, considering that's meant to be Bruce Wayne's actual birthday. The episode didn't seem to specify how old Bruce is meant to be in this episode.

That's Entertainment was certainly entertaining enough, if not as much as the previous two episodes. I get that some fans might not like the Jerome/Jeremiah/Joker twist but after years of skirting around the issue, I'm just glad some proper progress has been made on the matter. Whether it's enough to secure the show a future beyond the four remaining episodes of this season, it's hard to tell though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x18: "The Good, The Bad And The Cuddly"

Written by Marc Guggenheim & Phil Klemmer
Directed by Dermott Downs

Beebo (to Mallus): "Beebo want cuddles."

Now those are three words I didn't expect to be using for a quote for this review. Then again, I also didn't expect that a deadly demon such as Mallus (pronounced Malice) would be taken out by the Blue God himself, Beebo in deluxe formation but at the same time, this is the sort of madness I've come to love with this show as well.

Trading Zambesi for the Wild West meant we got to see Jonah Hex once again but he was the tip of the iceberg for allies for the Legends in this finale. Having Jax, an alternate Kuasa, Helen of Troy, Ava and Nora after Ray/Damien went back in time and the latter chose to sacrifice himself to save his daughter proved to be a great thing when Mallus himself rounded up some vikings, Romans and pirates to help deal with the Legends as well.

Of course the use of the Totems was going to be Mallus's undoing but having Sara, Mick, Amaya, Nate, Zari and Wally merge together as a giant Beebo though still has to be seen to believed. Never have I see an epic battle in a comic book show and not been able to keep a straight face and yet, it was a satisfying way to actually take Mallus out of the equation once and for all.

As the season has progressed, the Totems have been so instrumental and Mallus has grown as a threat but so have the Legends. The amount of people who were willing to fight for them and Ava's rousing speech as well showed that they've truly grown as a team. Even Rip's sacrifice at the start of the episode as well was a testament to his belief in the band of misfits. I didn't expect Rip to die in this one but he wasn't the only exit we got here.

Two deaths, both for love with Rip and Damien to one side, this episode also had Amaya go back to Zambesi and while I knew it was inevitable, I was a little surprised that Nate didn't go with her as well. I do hope this isn't the last we've seen of Amaya though, even if it's unlikely she'll be a regular again next season. While it took me a while to warm to her and Nate as a couple, this season did sell the pairing better and I loved Amaya's interactions with Sara and Zari as well. Even though Ava will be a regular next season, we do need another regular female character on board the Waverider.

As for the last moment of the episode, trust John Constantine to show up with a demon's head to warn the gang they've botched up again. Seeing Gary dressed as Constantine was a little bit surreal though Zari's comparison to an orangey menace made me laugh. Now how John will work as a regular next season, I don't but it's definitely clear the supernatural content is going to be upped a bit when the show comes back.

- It's been five years since Jax last saw the Legends. He's now a father. I'm glad he came back for this one. I also found the flirting with Zari and Jonah pretty sweet as well.
- Calling it now: we're going to get a Ray/Nora romantic pairing next season. I'm also wondering if Constantine and Gary have a thing on the side too.
- The gang arguing about how to pronounce Mallus's name and the latter's irritation over them getting it wrong.
- Chronology: 1942 & 1992 Zambesi, 1874 Salvation and 2018 Aruba.

The Good, The Bad And The Cuddly was a sublime way to end this season. It probably could've done with a few more minutes but it was action packed, emotional, funny, clever and surreal in equal measures. We should all be praising Beebo that this show has gotten a fourth season.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, April 07, 2018

My Review of Empire's 4x11: "Without Apology"

Written by Matt Pyken & Joshua Allen
Directed by Dianne Houston

Cookie: "I still run this bitch."

Oh Cookie. This week she went from one problem to the next one showing that she really did run both Empire and her family and then the episode ended with her getting a heart attack. Considering everything she's had to deal with since coming out of prison, it's probably surprising that this didn't come much sooner to be honest.

This episode alone, Cookie had a minor problem to deal with in ageing girl group 3 Black Divas who she tried to give a new contract to so they wouldn't cause Empire any bad publicity only for Lucious to nearly ruin her plan before the two of them banded together to actually get the ladies back on board by buying the rival label they were going to sign to.

I liked the focus on the older group and they certainly seemed to be justified in wanting to get a little even with the mistreatment they had experience at Empire. It was also amusing seeing them perform to uninterested people in the mall to getting a spotlight at Leviticus when they decided to play ball with Lucious and Cookie.

However the bigger storyline revolved around Andre finally confessing to his family about his involvement in the car explosion. It was inevitable this would happen and the results were delightfully explosive as Lucious rightfully lost the head with Andre while Hakeem and Jamal were unable to handle their brother's confession.

I didn't however expect the end scene with Cookie having a heart attack though. The scene was nicely shot but also reminded me of something more recent in my own family as well. However I don't think a heart attack will be the thing to take Cookie out of the mix from this show, not for quite a while though.

- Eddie and Wife No 3 are working with that app guy (who was also on Arrow this week) to take over Empire. Eddie also seems a little too interested in Tiana, who sensibly turned down Hakeem's proposal of marriage.
- I liked Jamal and Becky talking about the latter's pregnancy, even if she did end things with J Pop.
- Standout music: Three Black Divas more polished Can't Rock With You and Tiana/Jamal/Hakeem's Beautiful.
- Chronology: Not long from where Birds In A Cage left off.

Without Apology certainly had a little more to it than the previous episode. While I'm not entirely thrilled about Eddie and his wife plotting against Empire, I'm not too shocked by it either. The Andre scenes and the older girl band though were the highlights this week.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, April 06, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x17: "Mandatory Brunch Meeting"

Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Jerome (to Jeremiah): "I guess it's like what they say, we could all just go insane with just one bad day."

Had it not been a few weeks ago, I think the reveal of Jerome having a twin brother would've been a genuine shocker but in these days of the internet, it of course had to leak and somewhat dilute the surprise a bit for those who stumbled upon it. Saying that though, I can see where this one is going.

Also played by Cameron Monaghan, Jeremiah Valeska seems to be the more stable of the twins, having been sent to St Ignatius when he was a kid in order to get away from his homicidal twin and adopting the name Xander Wilde while also living as a reclusive architect in a place that looks as wild as anything a reclusive in Gotham would live in.

I liked that Jeremiah had anticipated that Jerome was coming for him and quickly positioned his right hand woman, Ecco into getting Jerome before the latter could get him. Of course, it was also obvious that Jerome would make sure to have both the Scarecrow and Tetch on hand while Gordon and Bullock also stumbled upon Jeremiah's hiding place.

Performance wise, I think Cameron did a good job in separating the two brothers reasonably well but the interactions between Jerome and Jeremiah made it pretty clear how this show will be handling the Joker storyline in it's last slew of episodes as well. After all, Jerome did talk about everyone having one bad day and I think that day is going to be pretty imminent for Jeremiah rather soon.

Of course when we weren't getting a brother reunion in this episode, we were seeing Jerome setting up his Legion of Horribles by recruiting the likes of Mr Freeze, Firefly, Oswald and Grundy to his cause as a rather unfortunate businessman then came to a grim end with the effects of a new laughing gas that leaves one hell of a smile on your face. Actually, the Grundy bit was Oswald's effort and that took some persuading but those two had some brilliant scenes in this one.

Outside of the Jerome storyline though, we had an interesting plotline with Leslie and the Riddler. First of all, I am not in the slightest bit surprised that Lee and Ed are hooking up and while I don't ship, I actually don't hate either. I do imagine however the Nygmobblepot are probably seething with this development though.

I'm not entirely sure what Leslie's angle here is though. I don't believe she has real feelings for Ed but at the same time, why is she encouraging him to up his bank robbing quota? I did like the Riddle off between the pair of them and despite her motives, I think Leslie might have at least spared poor Lars an awful fate but I do think if she's trying to micromanage the Riddler, it's going to inevitably backfire on her.

- With this show recasting both the Scarecrow and Ivy this season, the original actress to play Firefly reprised her role for this one.
- I know she's not meant to be Harley Quinn but Ecco certainly looked the part. It also seems that Hugo Strange will be resurfacing fairly soon as well.
- No Selina, Barbara, Tabitha, Lucius, Sofia or Ras this week.
- Chronology: Not long from where One Of My Three Soups left off.

Mandatory Brunch Meeting certainly gave a little game change to the Jerome/Joker plotline with the addition of Jeremiah into the mix. The storyline though is pretty compelling and the subplot with Leslie/Riddler also worked well with the episode, though I assume those two will also be tangled into the main storyline pretty soon now.

Rating: 8 out of 10