Wednesday, September 30, 2009

He's Reborn? (Doctor Who Season 5 Spoilers)

This might constitute for October, it might not, depending on what other juicy nuggets I can find. Reminders that the likes of Alun Vega, Planet Gallifrey, Life And Combom, Blogtor Who etc have covered a fair chunk of this information via their blogspot and photobucket accounts in the last few weeks. About four or five episodes have been filmed since Season 5/Season 1/Season 31 went into production in mid July.

Unknown Character (Terrence Hardiman), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) during a take.

Male fans seem to appreciate Karen Gillan in her robe, quite a lot from the online communities I've been frequenting the past month. She is pretty, I do admit that.

Location filming at a private house on Llandaff Green. It seems that the episode currently being filmed is in fact the first one.

The evidence is seemingly behind Matt Smith's lovely red robe as he's seen wearing Tennant's converse and brown pin-striped pants.

Another picture shows that this might be the neighbourhood in which he meets up with Amy Pond. Though we've seen no pictures of Karen Gillan today.

Annette Crosbie is the latest actor to sign on to the series (and I bet it will be a while before DWM announce her casting as well). Unsure of her role. Maybe a neighbour of Amy's? Grandparent perhaps?

There's been a few spoilers circulating as to how Eleven and Amy are supposed to meeting. One that has done the rounds has been Eleven meeting a younger version of his latest companion before meeting her in the present day. A bit like The Girl In The Fireplace, then.

Expect more Season 5 set spoilers as they become available and more interesting. Opinions on these blog would be appreciated.

ETA: Also according to someone on GallifreyBase, here's Season 5 writers/directors/blocks. Not sure how true these are.

written by STEVEN MOFFAT

written by MARK GATISS
(WW2 Dalek story)


written by STEVEN MOFFAT
(The River Song story)


written by STEVEN MOFFAT


written by NEIL GAIMAN*


written by STEVEN MOFFAT

* Neil Gaiman has said on his Twitter page that he is NOT writing for Season 5. Tis a shame. Remember the list isn't a proper confirmation, just what I found from a poster on GallifreyBase.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Time Crash"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Graeme Harper

Fifth Doctor: “Who are you?”
Tenth Doctor: “Oh brilliant. I mean, totally wrong, big emergency, universe goes bang in five minutes but brilliant.”
Fifth Doctor: “I’m the Doctor and who are you?”
Tenth Doctor: “Yes you are, you’re the Doctor.”

Okay so given the fact that in the space of three seasons that this show has thrown many a thing that could be deemed fan fiction in our faces, is the meeting of two Doctors really enough to shock us?

After all, we’ve had The Doctor turn human, kiss every single one of his companions (including Captain Jack) and RTD did make a lot of slashers happy by playing up the homoerotic tension between The Doctor and The Master in the last three episodes of the third season as well the fact that we’ve had Daleks versus Cybermen but a collision of Doctors is always going to be something special.

Cohesively, “The Three Doctors” had the strongest of plots with Omega but “The Five Doctors” tugged at certain strings and “The Two Doctors” was also something fun to behold. I would mention “Dimensions In Time” but like many people, I really do want to deny that particular spoof’s existence.

Twenty three years after his departure in “The Caves Of Androzani”, Peter Davison’s dashing, if somewhat mixed Fifth Doctor is back and as a result, we’re treated to seven minutes of sheer geekiness as Davison sparks off brilliantly with David Tennant’s Doctor. In fact, it’s probably the first time since “Last Of The Time Lords” that the Tenth Doctor gets to have a bit of fun.

Of course there’s an element of confusion to be had as well. The appearance of the Fifth Doctor can only spell an array of disaster and while Tennant gets to act like a geeky fan boy (not much acting required), Davison’s Doctor isn’t pleased to see a younger version of him swanning around in his TARDIS and acting like he’s been sleep deprived for a month.

The Doctor is pleased to see his older self but he doesn’t have any problem in giving his fifth incarnation a dressing down. Now for everyone who thinks wearing celery is as lame as having to eat the stuff, there’s a little bit of teasing at the vegetable’s expense.

Teasing aside, there does seem to be a merging of two worlds (TARDISES?) and it’s up to the memory of both Doctors in order to solve things. While the main danger plot doesn’t convince as much, it’s the last moment of the serial that will really hits home for a lot of viewers.

Now we know that writer Steven Moffat and David Tennant are big fans of Peter Davison’s tenure on the series and there’s a nice bit of lip service just as the Fifth Doctor begins to leave. Plus the way this ties into “Voyage Of The Damned” is quite nice. Maybe next time The Doctor will play attention to putting up his shields.

- Although not credited, the last scene in “Last Of The Time Lords” with Martha opens up this scene rather nicely.
- Unsurprisingly enough both David Tennant and Peter Davison are titled in the credits for this. That would be the first time for two men in Doctor Who, credit wise.
- There are mentions of Nyssa, Tegan, the Cybermen, the Mara, Time Lords with funny hats and The Master so this could be set before “The Five Doctors” for the Fifth Doctor.
- Oh and The Master is gay. Not really, but the joke was too good to pass up and come to think of it, the Fifth Doctor had the most interactions with The Master outside the Third Doctor.
- This is also available on the Season Four DVD box-set due out on November 17th 2008. Thank God for YouTube because I actually fell asleep when this originally transmitted.
- This was also directed by Graeme Harper who directed Peter Davison’s departure in “The Caves Of Androzani”.

Quote, Unquote

Tenth Doctor: “Cos you know what, Doctor? You were my Doctor.”
Fifth Doctor: “To days to come.”
Tenth Doctor: “All my love to long ago.”

The more I watched “Time Crash”, the better it seems to get. All these mini-scenes from Doctor Who add to the show and seeing as Steven Moffat himself said this was cannon, I’m more than happy to agree with it. It’s nostalgic without going overboard and it was for Children In Need to boot.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Infinity Quest"

Written by Alan Barnes
Directed by Gary Russell

Martha (re Balthazar): “I know he was rotten to the core but still.”
The Doctor: “Oh I left him a way out.”

One of the cool things about a show like Doctor Who is how unrestricted the storytelling can be. Not only do we have spin-offs, audio plays, books and comic strips to compliment the weekly televised adventures but now we can also the pleasure of an animated feature along with it.

Designed as thirteen three and a half minutes episodes that were aired weekly on Totally Doctor Who, The Infinity Quest is something a lighter tale with The Doctor and Martha as they take on the nefarious Balthazar and his quest for the infinite. The infinite of course being the nifty concept of getting your heart’s desire.

Of course The Doctor doesn’t really believe in the infinite but it doesn’t stop him and Martha from opening the story by stopping Balthazar from destroying earth and free a giant robotic bird named Caw either way.

However despite a brief stay at Volag Noc, Balthazar is no sooner out of the intergalactic slammer when he uses Caw to trick The Doctor and Martha in aiding his quest for the infinite. They have to find four data chips in order to get the exact location and Caw doesn’t exactly have to go to great lengths in order to get them interested in doing Balthazar’s dirty work.

Nope, it seems just the thought of actually stopping the baddie from achieving his goal is enough to do and soon enough The Doctor and Martha nab the first data chip in the middle of an oil war between pirate lady Captain Kalico and her treacherous matey Swabb.

Of course the flipside to this then is that Kalico is killed as they collect the first data and this also happens when they land in their next location with the less savoury Mergrass. The common thread in this quest is that The Doctor and Martha seem to be caught in the middle of big galactic wars.

In the second one, it’s a war between mankind and a bug like alien race known as the Mantisphid. There are some ethical moments between whether or not the Mantisphid are deserving of living after they’ve slaughtered the majority of the human race to claim ownership of the land they’ve acquired.

Although in my opinion The Doctor doesn’t owe the Mantisphid anything, he does decide to save them from extermination by posing as a pirate and pretending he was responsible for all the carnage. This is probably the only part of the story that made me visibly cringe. David Tennant’s very funny but he does get a little too OTT with this particular segment.

Fortunately things pick up much better when The Doctor and Martha wind up as prisoners on Volag Noc. Now I know The Master may have quipped about The Doctor being a menace but I was genuinely impressed with the number of convictions he managed to notch up in his 900 plus years of existence. Jail sentences on Volag Noc are certainly harsh though.

Martha on the other hand is her awesome. Without The Doctor for a few minutes she deduces that Gurney isn’t the real governor at all and we also don’t have to wait long for The Doctor to get assistance from real governor Locke in escaping the joint. However there is a brief moment when The Doctor does have to save the other prisoners from being completely wiped out.

As for Balthazar, well it doesn’t take him long to re-emerge and take The Doctor and Martha prisoner before Caw winds up dying. The flipside for The Doctor is that he is left to perish in the snow while Martha is forced to find the infinite with Balthazar, who as a villain isn’t that particularly original.

Nope Balthazar’s heart craves for destruction and loads of riches. Martha’s meanwhile craves for The Doctor and her crush on the Time Lord is really emphasised here like it has been in many Season Three episodes. Of course when she spots the real Doctor, she’s smart enough to snap out of it and not believe anymore.

Balthazar on the other hand just winds back in Volag Noc. Well Caw did have to find a way to redeem itself and this was a perfect way to achieve that. The Doctor and Martha on the other hand just decide to head to a new location given that the infinite seemingly no longer poses a big concern.

Also in “The Infinity Quest”

As an episode this got the same opening and end credits as the series does, except for the animated TARDIS.

Kalico: “You two might want to hold on tight – to the rail.”
The Doctor: “Ay, ay Captain.”

Martha got scolded by The Doctor for her pirate impression. In all fairness, it was his that was really bad.

The Doctor: “These are warplanes?”
Mergrass: “What do you expect in a war zone?”

Kelvin: “I don’t want to die.”
Martha: “Well you didn’t.”

We got a mention of the Nestene from “Rose” and the Racnoss from “The Runaway Bride”. I’m not sure where the great vampires’ part comes from though.

Mantisphid Queen: “What have you done, Doctor?”
The Doctor: “Taken the rap for you and ended your war.”
Martha: “They’ll never believe you.”

Scanner: “No scanning of criminal activity.”
Martha: “Well obviously.”

So in his 902 years of existence, The Doctor has managed to acquire an outstanding 3005 convictions which included traffic violations, evading library fines and planetary demolition. Naughty boy!

Gurney: “Don’t you get it? He’s escaped; your friend let him out.”
Martha: “We’ve only been here five minutes. Nice one, Doctor.”

The Doctor: “How did you find us? It’s very tricky tracking a TARDIS.”
Balthazar: “I had insider information. Have you met Squawk?”

Balthazar was played by the wonderful Anthony Stewart Head who appeared in the Season Two episode “School Reunion” as Mr Finch.

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “This isn’t a taxi.”
Balthazar: “Set the controls or Miss Martha here gets skewered.”

Martha (re The Doctor): “He’ll be back.”
Balthazar: “He’s a thousand light years away in the cold.”

The DVD of this had trailer for Season 3 on DVD, Season 1 of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures’ episode “Invasion Of The Bane as well as interviews with David Tennant, Freema Agyeman and Anthony Stewart Head.

Martha (re heart’s desire): “What did it show you by the way?”
The Doctor: “Doesn’t matter. Didn’t work anyway.”

This serial is supposedly set after the televised episode “42”. To be fair, I don’t think there was really any references to the adventures that Martha has had with The Doctor so far anyway.

As a set of thirteen mini-episodes, this is okay but when viewed together as one big thing, “The Infinity Quest” is a mixed bag. On the positive side the animation is terrific (and life like) and there are great performances from David Tennant, Freema Agyeman and Anthony Stewart Head and there’s an overall sense of fun. On the flipside, the story isn’t terribly exciting and Balthazar does feel too much like a one note villain, despite Anthony going above and beyond to make him interesting. Still points for the effort and the overall sense of fun that was clearly had in the making of this special.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Pudsey Cutaway"

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Euros Lyn

The Doctor: “Go on. What do you think?”
Rose: “Who are you?”
The Doctor: “I’m The Doctor.”
Rose: “Where is he? Where’s The Doctor? What have you done to him?”

Set in between “The Parting Of The Ways” and “The Christmas Invasion”, it was generously nice of Russell T. Davies to give us a little taste of the Tenth Doctor a month before David Tennant made his presence very much felt during the 2005 festive season.

All in the aid for Children In Need, the not so imaginatively titled “Pudsey Cutaway” sees Rose not dealing with the fact that The Doctor can regenerate at all. Given that this series has been designed for newcomers in a big way, this was a nice thing to play on as it’s easy to see why Rose isn’t coping so well.

She’s travelled with The Doctor for a whole season and nearly died courtesy of the Daleks and the energy from the TARDIS. With the man bobbing up and down like an overexcited school boy, this should’ve given her a big hint about the art of regeneration. Rose naturally assumes this man has stolen her Doctor.

The thing is Rose doesn’t exactly make any strong attempts to uncover the truth. Sure she’s quick to remember various things during the first season but her fear rather than anger or curiosity is highlighted somewhat more. Also because this is only seven minutes long, halfway through Rose does realise that the man standing in front of her is the same Time Lord who just snogged her a while ago.

David Tennant is good in this. Okay so his performance in this piece isn’t on the level of Christopher Eccleston but “The Christmas Invasion” sorted that one out. Right now in his seven minute scene, he’s cute, funny, enthusiastic, mysterious and just a little dangerous to boot. It’s also worth pointing out that like his predecessor, this new Doctor is able to flit back and forth with these gamuts of emotions quite expertly.

When he’s not persuading Rose that he’s really The Doctor, he asks if she wants to go home. When Rose didn’t provide an answer quick enough he decided to go back to the Powell Estate on Christmas Eve. Again this would lead in nicely to a certain episode and while he doesn’t forget about Jack, The Doctor isn’t exactly in a mad panic to go back and save him. That’s one negative point against The Doctor.

Sometimes I wished we had seen a little bit of Jack in the second season but the dangerous part comes when The Doctor starts behaving erratically and speeds up the TARDIS. Although Rose is perfectly within her rights to freak out she should be grateful that this Doctor isn’t going to strangle her anytime soon. That would definitely add to the tension between The Doctor and Rose right now.

- Rose mentioned her experiences with Gelth, the Slitheen and Nanogenes when attempting to assert her cleverness.
- The Cloister Bell went off at the end of this scene. That will occur in future episodes of the series.
- I loved the CIN ads both David Tennant and Billie Piper did during this special scene. You can find them on YouTube if you look real hard.
- The Doctor telling Rose about their first encounter/word in “Rose” was a nice shout out.
- If The Doctor knew Jack had to rebuild the Earth, how did he think Jack was going to do it?
- This is the first anything really with David Tennant’s name in the Opening Credits. I’m so glad it was featured on the Season Two DVD because I missed its original broadcast.

Quote, Unquote

Rose: “Can you change back?”
The Doctor: “Do you want me to?”
Rose: “Yeah.”
The Doctor: “Oh.”
Rose: “Can you?”
The Doctor: “No. Do you want to leave?”
Rose: “Do you want me to leave?”

As mini-scenes go, “Pudsey Cutaway” is a lot of fun and over the next few years, it would be little things such as this that would continue to add to the joy of watching Doctor Who and even reviewing it. It was a nice way of briefly introducing David Tennant before “The Christmas Invasion”.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 1x11: "To Love Is To Bury"

Written And Directed by Nancy Oliver

Sookie: “I rescind your invitation.”
Bill: “Sookie, don’t please. Sookie, please.”

I hate to admit but if there was ever a time in which Bill should’ve had his invitation rescinded by Sookie, was now the best time? I can already guess that when the killer strikes at Sookie again, she’s going to regret giving Bill the heavy ho.

In fact a lot of the reasons why I find Sookie giving Bill his marching orders wrong are down to the fact that she’s unaware that he made a vampire. That really would be the best reason for such an action. Here it was because Bill and Sam got into a scrap (after Bill caught Sookie and Sam kissing) and she was largely mad at Bill not being by her side.

Sookie and Sam really did get close in this episode. Last week she spent most of her time fuming at Sam for not being honest with her about being a shape shifter. This week, they’re flirting, teasing each other and playing detective. Now, here are two people who really should be friends and nothing more.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of their scenes together were enjoyable but I just don’t think of Sookie and Sam as a couple. The fact that both of them are complicated and wanted simplicity also seemed rather drilled out as well.

As a detective team, they found out more about one of the victims that either Andy or Bud have been able to come up with all season. So, the girl in Sookie’s visions turned out to be a fang banger and Sookie used some gentle blackmail to get a bigoted officer to fax over a picture of the dead girl’s brother that conveniently will be spotted at the worst time.

If I hadn’t read “Dead Until Dark”, I might have been shocked to learn that Rene was the killer but maybe it’s appropriate. I’ve noticed in past episodes that Rene does have his own anti-vampire attitude, even if it hasn’t been as overt as Arlene, Jason or anyone else on the show, it’s been there.

Plus in the previous episode, he made his stance on vampires clear to Sookie when he danced with her and Jason filled him in all on Amy’s V addiction as well. I so wanted Amy to get her comeuppance but not through being another in a long line of victims from Rene. Being strangled to death while high – does that constitute as painless?

Amy didn’t exactly go out on a high in this episode, even if she was off her face. She spent way too much time attempting to justify her actions towards, was pretty abusive towards Jason and even after grovelling with a slap up, she still managed to get Jason to go on one last V trip with her. Jason really should’ve booted her out the door.

However once again, because Amy got killed, Jason was in the firing line. The interesting thing is that now he’s convinced he murdered Amy, along with Maudette and Dawn but adamant about not killing Adelle. Even though Jason has done a lot to annoy as a character, it’s really hard not to feel bad for him here. It’s also like all of Sookie’s possible defenders have been pulled away from her. Except Sam.

Speaking of Sookie’s men, Bill was largely separated from his girl due to his new duties as a maker. I gotta say with angst flowing all over the place, why would any vampire want to turn a teenager into one of them? Jessica proved the point that it’s not necessarily a great idea.

Deborah Ann Woll is a good piece of casting for the role of Jessica. Delightfully bratty, Jessica’s non stop tantrums about wanting to kill and basking in a newfound sense of liberation versus vampire obligation which included brushing up on her swearing gave Bill plenty of ripe opportunities to look on exasperated at the girl. Of course, brattiness only works in moderation, so Jessica will have to get good characterisation if she’s a keeper.

I also couldn’t help but love both Pam and Eric sort of taking pleasure in Bill’s task. It’s clear that he feels responsible for Jessica but she’s a teenage girl and while some of Eric’s methods worked a bit, Jessica is going to be hard work for Bill. Plus, Sookie is going to be pissed when she finds out that Bill made Jessica.

Also in the pissed stakes was Tara. Drinking and driving always gets you punished and being belligerent to Kenya got Tara locked up for the night in jail. Tara does seem to be on a slight destructive course but Lettie Mae seemed too cold for me. If it was for Tara, Lettie Mae might be dead during her alcoholic bouts.

With Lettie Mae callously washing her hands off Tara, it was interesting that Maryann stepped in and was keen to save Tara. Nice to know the naked woman with a razorback has a name, a purpose and a house you could literally get lost in. However the trailer for the next episode strongly indicated that Maryann might not be all that she seems. Tara really can’t catch a break, can she?

All in what seems like a lifetime since he’s had anything big to do; Lafayette now added blackmail to his list. You know, I don’t endorse blackmail but come on, how could anyone not be angry with a senator like David Finch? Lafayette certainly was and warned him accordingly.

The problem with David was on one had, he slamming vampire/gay rights but on the other, he’s sleeping with men and needing V. He’d be doing a better service for his constituents if he actually told the truth. Lafayette might be playing a dangerous enough game in trying to take on David but boo to hypocritical closeted politicians all the more.

Also in “To Love Is To Bury”

Nancy Oliver was a script writer for Seasons 3-5 of Six Feet Under, writing some incredible episodes like “Untitled” and “Ecotone”. It’s great that she directed this one as well.

Bill: “I find myself doubting whether you were ever truly human.”
Pam: “Thank you.”

Bill was supposed to have sex with Jessica as a part of his ritual with her. He even slept in the ground with her.

Jason: “Yankee bitch.”
Amy: “Dumb fucking hillbilly.”

Lafayette (re David): “Did you just hear what he said?”
Terry: “I can’t listen to politicians no more. I get a seizure.”

Jason got bailed on by Hoyt having to attend a baby shower (he seems to enjoy them) and Rene going on a date with Arlene. Before or after bumping off Amy?

Amy: “I did what you said. It was all my fault, Jason. I’m so sorry.”
Jason: “You made dinner for me?”
Amy: “I’d do anything for you.”

Sam: “Do you love Bill?”
Sookie: “I think I do but where is he? If vampire politics are more important to him than me … I don’t know.”

The girl in Sookie’s dreams/visions was Cindy Marshall, a waitress in Big Patty’s Piehouse. Her brother was called Drew, aka Rene.

Jessica (to Bill): “You’re supposed to take care of me and you suck and that’s funny because you do.”

Tara: “Fuck you. You’re not my mother. Get out of my sight, you evil bitch.”
Lettie Mae: “I love you.”
Tara: “No, you don’t. You never did.”

How come Tara didn’t recognise Maryann the social worker as the naked woman she nearly ran into? The character of Kenya also features in the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Jessica (to Bill/Eric): “I don’t obey anybody. Those days are over.”

Eric (re Bill): “You want to stay with your maker, don’t you?”
Jessica: “No, he’s a dick. Dick, dick, dick.”

There was an interesting scene between Eric and Bill where they argued over Sookie. And was I the only thinking that Jason’s bed sheets looked like bin bags?

Tara: “You’re not a Jesus person, are you?”
Maryann: “No, no, nothing against religion but I’m not a Jesus person.”

Sookie: “You are fun. It’s one of the reasons I’m still working for you.”
Sam: “Yeah?”
Sookie: “It’s not for the tips or high class clientele.”

Standout music: Ryan Adams "Two" and The Cowboy Junkies "To Love Is To Bury".

Andy: “This is the worst confession I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Jason: “Fuck you, Andy, it’s all I got.”

Chronology: A few hours after “I Don’t Wanna Know” finished up.

“To Love Is To Bury” has all the trappings for a good set up to the finale. Sookie’s definitely in clear and present danger, Bill’s got the responsibility from hell and our main focus point for the second season is also making herself known.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Brothers And Sisters - Season 4 Cast Shots

Thank Christ. ABC have finally released cast shots for Brothers And Sisters fourth season. Thanks to marea67 for alerting me on LiveJournal.

Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) with longer but just as cute hair as last season.

Scotty Wandall (Luke Macfarlane) with his arms folded.

Justin Walker (Dave Annable) exuding some testerone there.

Ryan Lafferty (Luke Grimes) certainly looking better with shorter hair. Hopefully that means some better storylines as well this season.

The entire Season 4 cast out in the sunshine. Maybe the new season will be upbeat, despite the rumours surrounding Kitty. God, this is going to be good.

More cast photos here ...

My Review of "Club Dead"

Written by Charlaine Harris
Released in 2003

Sookie: “Okay, I’d hoped to avoid this, but ... Bill, I rescind your invitation into my house. Eric, I rescind your invitation into my house.”

If you think that quote is dramatic enough, it should give you a very good description for how the third book plays out. Sookie and Bill may be ship-worthy on the series, True Blood but the books have been more conflicting with me.

There are a lot of problems with Sookie and Bill as a couple on screen but I think the biggest one has to be Bill’s possessiveness. It’s never going to be an endearing trait and territorial as he is, this book actually doesn’t feature him a lot in. Though that’s more than compensated with the fact that he’s virtually mentioned every second page.

We’re at the stage that in Sookie and Bill’s relationship, things have gotten progressively sour between them. Bill’s attempts of cataloguing a vampire directory for the Queen Of Louisiana and his attempts of keeping this from Eric, Pam and Chow had Sookie threatened by them.

Worse than that for Sookie was Bill being kidnapped, which meant that Sookie had to team up with Werewolf Alcide in Jackson, Mississippi. This is the book that has Sookie with not one suitor but three of them and each of them have their pros and cons.

Alcide could arguably be the best man for Sookie. Not only does she have the pleasure of being with him in the daylight but he’s a bit of a confidence booster, has the sister from Heaven (seriously, try not liking Janice) and can more than deal with the dark world that Sookie’s been sucked into. Even his little moments of jealousy and bitch ex-girlfriend Debbie aren’t strong enough deterrents.

Then there’s Eric. Now I’m someone who’s always preferred Angel to Spike in the Buffyverse but given that Eric is very much the latter, I’m finding myself baffled with how much I like him. It’s probably down to the fact that he’s less territorial and there’s more playfulness with him compared to Bill.

Out of the three of the suitors, Bill is the one who fared worst in this book alone. While it’s not his fault that gay vampire Russell Edgington decided to snatch or that Lorena enjoyed torturing the hell out of him, it’s the fact that he intended to ditch Sookie for Lorena that’s bothersome and the rape scene in the trunk (despite him being hazed and hungry) that screw him over.

In fact it’s a combination of all of these that had Sookie rescind his invitation at the end of the book along with Eric. There’s more than enough times in the book where Sookie openly expressed her growing apathy with Bill and Eric bringing constant danger to her, so it’s a pretty organic decision that’s made.

As for the plot with Russell, it’s one of the things that falls apart here. Sure, Sookie gets the home invasion from hell and even Eric isn’t unscathed but the ending with Bill giving Russell a piece of the vampire directory did feel like an afterthought. Faulty plot developments can be forgiven for some good character moments and dialogue and that’s where the book is strong.

- It seemed a bit of a coincidence that Tara would also be in Jackson with vampire Franklin Mott. I wonder if we’ll see her and Sookie’s dance routine on the series.
- This book gave Bubba some fun stuff to do, though apparently he can take instruction a bit too literally. Like stuffing a corpse in Alcide’s closet.
- Taboos aren’t much to vampires. Despite his constant lusting for Sookie, Eric actually had some downtime with a male vampire as well.
- Chronologically, this story took place around Christmas, so it’s about six or seven months since Sookie and Bill first met each other.

“Club Dead” is a riveting read and while it would be nice to have some more development on the other characters in Sookie’s life besides her vampire suitors, it’s hard to knock it that much. Plus, kudos for Sookie getting to stake Lorena.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brothers And Sisters - Season 4 Sneak Peeks (Spoilers)

Damn it, ABC, less than a week to go and no cast shots. This bites. Oh well here are some nice premiere pictures of Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) that go some way to amending that.

In the space of the previous three seasons, we've had Kevin and Scotty go from boyfriends to exes to boyfriends and a married couple. This season we're getting them in the role of parents. As steps go, it does seem to be the natural next one and while some of the previews have indicated that Kevin is more enthused that Scotty, I am hoping this doesn't completely mirror Kitty/Robert in Season 3.

ABC have released five previews which can be watched here ...

The Season 4 trailer can be viewed here ...

Overall thoughts, I'm so looking forward to the fourth season. I know some people aren't loving this show as much as the first season but it's still got my attention.

Meanwhile for UK viewers, Season 3 is available on DVD from October 19th. Attitude magazine gave it a 4/5 rating, which was nice of them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's: "The Movie"

Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui

Buffy: “How do you know all this?”
Merrick: “Because it is your birthright and I’m a part of this. You come with me to the graveyard and I will show you.”

So this movie’s been released for the last seventeen years and it’s taken me now to review it? My bad but hey for a movie that’s supposed to be so abysmal, my urge to chuck things at the screen during its duration was nowhere to be seen. What do you make of that?

It’s been documented enough times on the series that prior to being a slayer, Buffy was little more than Cordelia. Apparently learning that your destiny is to slay vampires can be traumatic, humbling and increases your savvy. Buffy went through virtually all three of these emotions within the movie.

For the first few minutes we saw Buffy as a cheerleader with shallow mates, a dumb jock boyfriend named Jeffrey and obsessing about a school dance while taking the piss out of stoners Pike and Benny. Then Merrick showed up and she was forced to confront the fact that her destiny was a lot bigger than wanting to marry Christian Slater.

Maybe I’m a sucker for slayer/watcher scenes because all of Buffy and Merrick’s scenes were an absolute joy to watch. Her attempts to reject her birthright ran absolutely true and despite tension between Buffy and Merrick, there was some wonderful moments where they actually bonded with each other.

The scene where they discussed jobs and Buffy’s gentle poking about Merrick making a joke was endearing. Then again in a totally weird way, so was Merrick showing Buffy that catching a knife meant that she was chosen. Yeah, that’s a real convincing argument there.

Kristy Swanson might not have garnered the same acclaim that Sarah Michelle Gellar would deservedly get during the series run years after this movie but I had no problem adjusting to her Buffy and similar enjoyed Donald Sutherland as the otherwise doomed Merrick.

In fact Merrick’s death about two third into the movie struck a chord for me. The first time Joss Whedon has murdered a beloved character in his popular franchise. That should’ve been foreshadowing for some of the deaths we would have to endure on the series itself.

With Merrick dead, the only other person Buffy had in her corner was Pike. Luke Perry isn’t a bad actor, though he does seem to vary with certain roles. Here, he’s quite enjoyable, quirky and even a bit cute. Pike’s also sort of Xander like in a way but that might just be me. I certainly had no problem with him spending time with Buffy than the vacuous bloke she was dating in the movie.

Pike also proved himself to be useful in the fight where Lothos and his pals showed up at the school dance. Cheesiness aside from Rutger Hauer, even he’s more fun than some of the vampires we’ve seen on the series. His minion who lost an arm courtesy of Pike, not so much.

If there is a flipside with the movie (a serious one, aside from the inherent cheesiness and lack of depth provided for Buffy’s pals), it’s that Lothos and Buffy don’t actually have that big a confrontation. Yes she killed him quite publicly and he did blather on incessantly about them being connected but it did feel he died too easily in the end.

The actual vamp attack on the dance was hilarious in a sort of bad way. I laughed my head off with some of the other kids getting knocked and even Pike’s stoner mate Benny didn’t get to enjoy being a vampire for all that long. Plus the vampires didn’t exactly exude that much menace but if you don’t take things too seriously, you’ll find this movie is a lot more palatable because of it.

The end scene with Buffy and Pike sharing a dance before they left Los Angeles was nice. It’s almost a shame that Pike never actually made it to Sunnydale but at least we have this movie to enjoy him in.

Also in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”

I loved the slayer dreams we got to see in this movie. Too bad none of Buffy’s predecessors were mentioned by name though.

Pike: “What’s your name?”
Buffy: “Buffy.”
Pike: “Yeah, figures.”

It’s funny watching this movie and seeing the likes of David Arquette, Ben Affleck and Hilary Swank, the latter who played the most irritating character of the movie.

Benny: “I got a newsflash for you. Another shot of this and I’ll have sex with you.”
Pike: “Yeah and you’ll never call me.”

Buffy (to her friends): “How do you not tread on the Earth? You kind of have to, right?”

Merrick talked of wanting to be a bookmaker, which Buffy instantly dismissed. She wanted to be a buyer.

Buffy: “I never hit anybody before.”
Merrick: “Well, you did it perfectly.”
Buffy: “I didn’t even break a nail.”

Amilyn (to Pike/vampires): “You ruined my jacket. Kill him a lot.”

One of the places that Buffy and her friends hung out was a coffee bar called CafĂ© BlasĂ©. It’s where her and Pike introduced themselves, despite first meeting in the cinema.

Lothos (to Buffy): “Has our time finally come, have you ripened so fast? Come closer, look at me.”

Merrick (to Buffy): “Remember about the music. When the music stops, the rest is …”

The rest is silence. Buffy used that silence to get from Lothos thrall at one point in the movie and Amilyn was still alive by the end of it.

Buffy (to her friends): “Guys, I think reality stepped out of here about five minutes ago.”

Pike: “Will I get my ass kicked if I ask you to dance?”
Buffy: “Maybe.”
Pike: “You know, Buffy, you’re not like other girls.”
Buffy: “Yes I am.”

Pike was actually in some of the pre Season 1 comics that Dark Horse used years ago. I also loved the news cover at the end of the movie.

Pike (to Buffy): “We’ve got a problem. I got a bag full of solutions. What do you want to do?”

Lothos: “You are just like the other girls.”
Buffy: “Maybe I’ll surprise you.”

Standout music: “I Fought The Law” by Mary’s Danish was the one I found most interesting.

Lothos (to Buffy as he dies): “Now I’m really pissed off. Oops.”

Pike (re mess of dance hall): “Did I do all that?”
Buffy: “No.”
Pike: “Did you do all of that?”
Buffy: “Yeah I did.”

Chronology: The movie was released in 1992 but maybe for continuity with the series (despite this movie not being referenced in the show), let’s say 1996.

For a movie that’s supposed to be so bleeding awful, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” isn’t actually that bad. Okay, there are some segments that are seriously cheesy and the vampires aren’t going to illicit fear but if you don’t take it too seriously (even though there are some emotional moments), it’s actually a lot of fun.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 1x10: "I Don't Wanna Know"

Written by Chris Offutt
Directed by Scott Winant

The Magister: “There’s no help for you, child. Meet your maker.”
Jessica (to Bill): “Please don’t let them kill me. Please, I don’t wanna die.”

As punishments go, Bill certainly didn’t have much in the way of options, did he? Either spent five years encased in a coffin with chains or turn a frightened teenage girl into a vampire. Neither were appealing, especially given that teen vampires would have an eternity of angst to greatly irritate. Though I suppose better than the vampire getting his teeth pulled out for feasting someone else’s human.

I’ve heard and read that in episodes to come that Jessica is a character worth getting invested in. She was one of two major characters for the next season to be introduced in this episode and to be fair; it was hard not to feel for her. All she wanted to do was go to a party. Thanks to the Magister and Bill, she’s going to be a vampire forever.

Given that I hated the actor during his Heroes gig (Danko, ugh), Zelcko Ivanec was actually a lot of fun in this episode, instilling the right sense of terror, respect and even having an odd moment where he could be snarky to Bill. He also meant business in a big way.

We saw how vengeful he could be to disobedient vampires and he certainly had no problem reminding Bill of his place on more than one occasion. He also openly express his own contempt towards human and seemed a touch uninterested when both Bill and Eric, to a lesser extent tried to explain the Sookie/Long Shadow situation.

Bill may not have wanted to turn Jessica into a vampire but there was no way he was going to get away from the Magister without having to do something drastic. Jessica’s practically going to be the daughter that Bill’s never wanted. Also given how angry Sookie was in this episode, Bill making a vampire is going to be another thing that will piss her off to no end.

Sam of all the times and ways you could’ve outed yourself as a shape shifter, did you have to do it while protecting Sookie? It’s nice to have it finally out in the open but damn, Sookie’s gut reaction was to think that Sam was the killer. At least he managed to persuade her that he wasn’t.

Ten episodes in, it’s feels like we’ve gone from knowing nothing about Sam to getting one almighty information dump on him. That could be construed as lazy writing or too much at once but I enjoyed knowing more about Sam. When he dials the righteousness down a notch, he’s actually a good person to have around.

He explained more or less everything he felt Sookie should know about being a shape shifter (I’m betting there might be some bits he edited) and in flashbacks, we saw him first change into a dog and then get abandoned by his parents. That to me does explain why Sam has some trouble opening up to people.

While Sookie spent most of the episode acting like Sam betrayed her, I have to admit that I sided with him a little more. The way he outed himself, though not deliberate was bad timing but given how Sookie of all people reacted to him, I get why he didn’t tell her. Seriously, Sookie some sensitivity wouldn’t have gone amiss during those scenes with your boss.

Andy on the other hand more or less tried to stick it to Sam that he suspected him of being dodgy. One advantage of Tara’s drunken state was that she actually Andy to back off from Sam but even she wasn’t helpful. Sam had a hard time with the ladies this week. Sookie was mostly furious at him and Tara wanted to use him for sex. I was glad Sam yelled at both of them this once.

However while Sookie might have been furious with Sam, she really did let her temper dampen Arlene’s engagement party. Even Claire Fisher would’ve told her to cheer the heck up. At least Terry and Rene tried to cheer her up in their own subtle ways but Sookie was pretty much a grouch this week.

It also didn’t help that the killer then tried to attack her in the dark in Merlotte’s. Sam showing up to rescue seemed convenient but if he wasn’t the killer in the books, I don’t think he will be here. Either way, Sookie had better prepare herself for a showdown.

Speaking of showdowns, goddamn it, Amy. Why the fuck couldn’t she have just let poor Eddie go? Was it really necessary to have killed the poor guy? Jason saw the light almost way too late. At least he was going to let Eddie go. Amy, despite her ridiculous claims of using Stockholm syndrome to keep Eddie had always intended to stake him when his usefulness ran out.

Eddie warned Jason in the previous episode that Amy was nuts and the meticulous way in which Amy reacted upon discovering that Jason had been keeping Eddie in True Blood was telling in its own right. Amy doesn’t like to be lied to, she certainly doesn’t like people getting the better of her and her killing Eddie was her own warped way of retaining the upper hand.

By killing Eddie, Amy’s basically signed her own death warrant. Eric made it abundantly clear last week that he would retaliate against anyone who wronged a vampire and the way Lafayette freaked out over Eddie’s disappearance strongly suggested that Amy was in deep shit. Then again, so is Jason too.

When it comes to shit, Tara’s also has put up with a lot of it. Going to Miss Jeanette for an exorcism was the worst possible thing she could’ve done. Finding out for definite that the woman was a fraud did not do her self esteem the world of good. Great for roughing up the fraudster but Tara really should’ve called the police on her.

Faith might be a wonderful thing but lulling someone into a false sense of security (kind of what Jeanette has done with Lettie Mae) is a seriously stupid thing to do. Tara would’ve better off using the law rather than getting drunk and nearly running over some strange woman with a boar. I know who the woman is but I’m playing dumb until next week, okay?

Also in “I Don’t Wanna Know”

I love it when shows cast great likeness in flashbacks and the young actor who played Sam looked very similar to Sam Trammell.

Sam: “Bill asked me to look after you while he was away.”
Sookie: “Did he ask you to do it buck naked?”

Is this the episode in the first where Sookie and Bill haven’t interacted at all? I think it is.

Amy (re Jason/True Blood bottles): “Why wouldn’t he tell me about this?”
Eddie: “I won’t tell him if you don’t.”
Amy: “Withholding information is tantamount to lying and I can’t have that in our relationship. This is so beneath us.”

Sookie (re shape shifting): “Can you turn into another person?”
Sam: “Humans are too complex, despite what you might see at the bar.”

Sam mentioned a grievance with werewolves and warned Sookie to avoid them. Even better was raising the question of what else exists out there. It’s a bit like Being Human in that respect. Sam’s condition is hereditary.

Miss Jeanette (to Tara): “The demon will take on any form to stay alive. It knows your weaknesses; it preys on your fears. Only you can destroy it. Don’t let it fool you, Tara Mae. You stand up to that demon.”

Sam: “What do you want it to look like?”
Terry: “A debutante ball.”
Arlene: “Hug your neck. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

More flirting between Terry and Arlene in this episode. Terry also mentioned his cousin Portia, who’s Andy’s sister in the books.

Miss Jeanette: “Don’t touch me.”
Tara: “Don’t touch you? I could kill you, you fake, lying bitch.”

Terry: “Guilt’s a useless emotion or so I’ve heard.”
Sookie: “I just wish Bill was here.”
Terry: “There’s some dead people I wish was still around too.”

Although she’s credited as Woman on Road in this episode, Michelle Forbes character is actually called Maryann.

Jason: “I told you Amy wasn’t a psycho. The more time you spend with us, you’ll see. She’s an amazing woman.”
Eddie: “What changed her mind?”

Sam (to Sookie): “You’re right, I didn’t trust you. I trusted my instincts and they were dead on.”

Standout music: Dr John’s “I Don’t Wanna Know About Evil” and CC Adcock’s (who appeared in the episode as the entertainment for Arlene/Rene’s engagement party) “I’m Ready”.

The Magister (to Bill): “Well you haven’t bored me. That works in your favour and you seem to be obedient to your sheriff.”
Eric: “For the most part.”

Jessica: “Are you a Christian?”
Bill: “I was.”
Jessica: “I’m a good girl. Jesus will take me home to Heaven.”

Chronology: Takes place where “Plaisir D’Amour” left off.

“I Don’t Wanna Know” is wonderful. It’s like every near the finale type of episode should be ripe with plenty to get into – Bill making a vampire, Jason becoming hopefully aware of Amy’s sociopathic nature, Sookie learning more about other type of supernatural being and the killer getting closer to her. Plus naked Maryann and the pig. I wonder how that’s gonna pan out.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Much Hankering For The 80's Can You Get?

Warning: This blog contains spoilers for the upcoming sequel to the Sex And The City movie. You've been warned.

From here are spoilers in italics and my opinion of them, not in italics.

- Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) are happy newlyweds for a while. But at some point, Big loses a lot of money in the recession and CareBig (as I like to call them) are forced to move in with Charlotte and Harry. Big heads to the Middle East (hence, Morocco) to try to make enough money to support Carrie and her shoe habit.

Great, another show/movie on about the recession. I'm all for realism and it would be better than the shameless product placement of the first movie, that's for sure. Big moving to the Middle East, come on. Surely Carrie can wean off the Blahniks just a tad.

- Us Weekly
found a casting notice which read, “Big takes a job in London, living alone in a one-bedroom apartment. Big gets really low and ends up in bed with another woman. After she leaves him, Carrie discovers she is pregnant.” Oh geez, can you imagine Carrie as a single mother? And why can’t Big stop f**king everything up?! [Us Weekly via Celebuzz]

Carrie pregnant does seeem like a next step to me. Her and Big seperated again is less thrilling. Actually I've never been a big Carrie/Big fan anyway but the writers certainly do take the 'will they-won't they' thing too far nowadays with most TV couplings.

- As you may have figured from the ugh-tastic ‘80s stylings that were revealed this week, there will be a flashback to when the girls first met! A little awkward now that they’re all older, but can’t wait to see how they wrote that scene!

This could be the funniest moment of the movie. We know that they only became friends with each other later in life, so it would be nice to see how that all originated from.

- A British paper zoomed in on Kim Cattrall‘s script and figured out that Smith Jerrod (i.e., Jason Lewis, the Absolute Hunk) is back in the picture. But Samantha Jones will also lust after British actor Max Ryan, who plays a sexy architect. Samantha will allegedly be poppin’ hormone pills since she’s well into her 50s now, but she’s still got an enviable body for any age. [NY Daily News]

Sam and her toyboy back together? Ah, why not! The hormome pill plot is likely to be played for laughs and seriousness as well.

- Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) apparently struggles with raising her children and accuses her adorable, not-so-hairy husband Harry (Evan Handler) of cheating on her. She runs off with her daughters Lily and Rose, but it turns out that Harry was just meeting with a contractor because he was building her dream house. So they get back together and live happily ever after. Boooring.

Damnit, after Miranda and Steve in the first movie, let's hope these two aren't apart for too long.

- Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon) leaves her workaholic lawyer life behind when she gets sued for malpractice and instead she bonds with little Brady and opens up a restaurant with Steve. How old is Brady now—16? Since when are Miranda and Steve foodies? The only food moments I recall with them are getting pizza and that time that Miranda ate the chocolate cookie out of the garbage ... which I guess could make for an interesting restaurant concept?

Reminds of Lynette/Tom's restaurant venture in Desperate Housewives. Not too sure about this one. Why can't her and Steve just retain seperate jobs and stay together?

- It’s also rumored that Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) will marry wedding planner Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone). Just imagine what a gay wedding planner could do with his own wedding! Plus, Liza Minnelli is going to sing at their wedding reception! Eep! [Brisbane Times]

As a gay man, I can't relate to either Stanford or Anthony and to be honest, I've never been that fond of either. Plus these two can't stand the other so them marrying does seem to be a bit of a stretch as well. Still it's more likely to be a small subplot anyways. I'll stick to Kevin and Scotty on Brothers And Sisters.

Production for Sex And The City 2 has begun and will be released during summer 2010.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x28: "Retreat Part 3"

Written by Jane Espenson
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Andrew: “If there is a spy among us, I will find him or her. Or it. The puppy has always struck me as a little bit dodgy and it would be a great disguise. And no one will suspect why I’m documenting our little community, because, because I have a history of this kind of thing.”

Yeah and for all we know, it could be Andrew who is the secret mole in the group. Seriously, “Storyteller” again? Oh well if something works well enough first time around, there’s no reason why it can’t be used again.

Andrew’s still not the best character in this series and the writers adoration of him is something that I can’t fathom but I promise that this review won’t devolve into an Andrew bashing one. That’s mainly because there’s actually a lot in this issue that really gripped me.

I can understand the pros and cons for the slayers to return their power to the Earth or whatever it really is that they’re trying to do. Unfortunately the cons are just sticking out more and more for me as a reader. I should say that Buffy and company thought of a worse time to actually do this but that can always be countered with a ‘would there be a good time to do it?’ response.

The answer to that question would be no. Clearly, apart from the fact that removing the magic from within the slayers and Willow now makes them as vulnerable as any non powered human, there’s also the fact that the girls in question aren’t being given a choice in the matter.

Granted they didn’t choose to become slayers either but does stripping them off their power really help matters? It’s not Twilight and his gang are devoid of their own supernatural tricks. I just can’t help but think that by doing this, Buffy is going to end up seriously regretting it in the long run.

Throughout the issue we did see many of the girls doing manual labour and grumbling about how being just human was now a disadvantage. It also didn’t help that Andrew kept waving his camera in their faces as well. Geez, Andrew perhaps a little subtlety on that one.

The best conversation from a slayer perspective on this new outcome was seeing Buffy and Faith interact. Out of the slayers, they are the two who could recognise being normal as more of a good thing. They’ve been through a lot more than the other girls and Faith did sound relieved at the idea of not having that kind of strength.

It was nice to see Buffy and Faith bond on this kind of level. The fact that there’s been civility between them this whole arc is a great thing but as much as they might enjoy being unburdened, they shouldn’t get too used to the idea. They’re gonna need all the strength, natural or super when Twilight figures out where everyone has been hiding for this arc.

The other great conversation came during Buffy and Xander’s alone time scene. The fact that Buffy felt the splinter was supposed to show readers that she gaining some of her humanity back or at least opening up some more. It’s hard not to love a more open Buffy compared to the closed off woman who’s dominated later seasons of the series.

One person who definitely wasn’t enthusiastic in the slightest about losing her powers was Willow. The fact that Willow saw herself as magical and admitting that to Oz should support the fact that her being stripped of power could be a good thing. Her eyes even flared black when she accused Oz of being a fake.

She can disagree with him all she likes and show that she’s scary but you gotta love Oz during this issue. He told her everything she needed to hear and entrusted her to look after Kelden. Oz really can’t do wrong, can he? Tibet and Bay have been more than good for him.

Willow’s searching for something – a baby, normalcy, etc. Can she and Kennedy achieve without their powers or even together? You’ve got to notice there’s been very little interaction between the two of them or even Kennedy with Oz come to think of it. I’m not saying it as an anti-shipper but I do wonder if Willow and Kennedy actually have a future together.

The same sentiment can now also be echoed for Xander and Dawn. Buffy walking in on them kissing might have been shocking for her but not for me. The writers have teased this long enough and given that Dawn is an adult, it’s not actually inappropriate what she and Xander are doing. However I don’t know whether I’m for or against this hook up, even though I like both characters. I guess we’ll have to wait and see with this one.

As for Andrew, his documenting skills played a good part of this episode. He wanted to find out if there was a mole and fair play, he did make the effort. It was funny that he considered the idea of the puppy when that suspicious looking cat was constantly going around in virtually every scene.

Needless to say when the gang did realise it was the cat, it disappeared. No doubt this was Amy, which means that Twilight won’t be far behind. Having seen the covers for the next two issues, Buffy and the gang are so screwed. Still for all the recent negativity surrounding these comics, things are picking up.

One last nugget in this episode – Willow finding out that Buffy killed her in the future. I loved the way Willow turned the situation on its head by taking the angst out of Buffy having to tell her. It was never going to be an easy thing for Buffy to confess but Xander was right in encouraging Buffy to come clean. Willow promising to do her level best to stay on the right however will not be easy for her.

Also in “Retreat Part 3”

The cover of Buffy and Willow meditating while Giles kept a watchful eye on them is one of Jo Chen’s stylish covers.

Giles: “This had better be a demon attack.”
Andrew: “It is.”
Giles: “It is?”
Andrew: “Well, it could turn into one.”
Giles: “Go to bed.”
Andrew: “No you don’t understand … there’s a spy in our midst.”

Andrew’s increased his geeky collection with a bust from Hellboy and Aliens as well as a Storm Trooper hoodie.

Andrew: “Tell us about the giving up of magicks, Oz’s exotic mate, Bayarmaa.”
Bayarmaa: “It’s not about ‘giving up’ the magic. It’s about redirecting the energy into the Earth instead of holding on to it. If you are really at peace, the boundary between you and Earth melts away.”

Faith: “You miss what we’re giving up, don’t you?”
Buffy: “You don’t?”
Faith: “It got to me. What we had to do. What I had to do. I’m not strong enough to have to be that strong. Good riddance.”

Who was the red head that was threatening Andrew (not that I blame her)? It didn’t look like Leah or Willow as far as I could tell.

Dawn: “How do you know? That’s what it says on Claymores but maybe the Chinese label the other side?”
Xander: “Humans point to the danger, not the safe. It’s a thing about humans.”
Dawn: “Maybe we should point to the safe sometime.”

Buffy: “What big secret would that be?”
Xander (re Willow): “The one I heard you tell Giles on the submarine because I was listening. About killing her in the future.”
Buffy: “What – what if telling her makes her evil?”
Xander: “What if not telling her makes her evil?”

Weapons wise, the Scoobies seem to have landmines and rocket launchers, so they at least a bit of an advantage. Loved Andrew’s little Dark Willow drawings as well.

Willow (to Buffy, re future death): “Sorry, because I know you meant this to be all dramatic and cleansy, and I know it must’ve been terrible for you. But that … if it was a possible me, I don’t think it still is.”

Next issue, “Retreat Part 4” is out on October 7th.

Niggles aside, I still think that this arc is a step in the right direction. “Retreat Part 3” definitely had a lot to recommend in it and although it’s taking a while, at least we know that the next two issues are going to brim with plenty of chaos when Twilight and his gang descend on Tibet.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Review of "Living Dead In Dallas"

Written by Charlaine Harris
Released in 2002

Bill: “I am a vampire, Sookie. I have been a vampire far longer than I was human. I have upset you many times. To tell you the truth, sometimes I can’t understand why you do what you do sometimes, because it’s been so long since I was a person. It’s not always comfortable to remember what it was like to be a man. Sometimes I don’t want to be reminded.”

Second book in the thrilling Sookie Stackhouse series and can I just say that Harris doesn’t waste time in delivering these books? It seems that every year since 2001 she has had a book out. It’s definitely not a bad thing, given how much stuff does seem to get crammed into these books.

The first book dealt with Rene going around murdering fang bangers in a bid to get to Sookie, so it’s interesting that we seem to have three storylines going on around here that also involved Sookie one way or the other. Namely with her being put in harm’s way as much as possible.

The death of Lafayette is interesting, given that he’s now a pivotal character in the series. Here his death put Andy in the frame and Sookie in an unenviable predicament to clear his name. Sookie’s dislike for the Bellefleur family did intensify in this book, though the reveal of Bill being related to them did serve as a good ending.

The reveal of Mike along with Tom and his wife being responsible for Lafayette’s death did feel a little rushed but they did get a comeuppance at the hand of a maenad named Miss Callisto.

That was the second storyline involving Sookie. Callisto attacked her at the start of the book and paralysed her with fear towards the end. The fact that she made it out of this alive could suggest that she’s a future threat. Her bonding with Sam however raised some interesting questions about the shape shifting bar owner.

Arguably the strongest plot in the book involved the Fellowship. Yes, these nutters were pretty prominent in True Blood’s second season and here they play a bigger role than Callisto or Lafayette’s murder. Here, they were interested in conveying a message by getting legendary Godfrey to kill himself.

It was through this storyline that we got a trip to Dallas, met Stan, Isabel and Farrell and found out just how whacky and dangerous Steve and Sarah Newlin really are. Bill warned Sookie at the end of the book that the Fellowship would be problematic for them for years to come. Given that they got a little trigger happy after their Godfrey plot didn’t go exactly to plan, I reckon that Bill is right on that one.

Another note worthy thing about the book was the Sookie/Bill/Eric love triangle. I have to admit that I actually like Bill a lot less here than I do in the TV series and there were some passages in the book where I found myself frustrated with Sookie not standing up to him.
I don’t usually fawn over perceived bad boy characters but this book made Eric more interesting that Bill too. He was more manipulative in contriving ways to get close to Sookie (showing up in Dallas, getting her to suck a bullet out of her, kissing her during a local orgy, etc). The fact that he’s more playful and less possessive with Sookie than Bill is also a plus.

The rest of the characters aren’t given much to do. Sam’s relationship with Callisto aside, he’s underused (and barely blinked when Sookie told him about the shape shifters who helped her against the Fellowship) and Jason is surprisingly more likeable here than the first book. Tara and Eggs are also introduced but aside from encountering Callisto and having their memories wiped, not much goes on with them either. Pam at least brings the snark whenever she pops up.

- Some names for the bottled blood are Life Flow and Pure Blood. I think True Blood does sound better.
- Bill is technically a great-great-great grandfather to both Andy and Portia. Portia even tried to use him to get into the orgies.
- The covers of these books are being redesigned with some crafty models, inspired by the True Blood series. They look great.
- Eric in pink and Lycra is by far an image I don’t think I can erase from my brain.

“Living Dead In Dallas” is a fine second book for the series. While everything is delightfully from Sookie’s point of view, I do want to see her interacting more with her Bon Temps co-workers and friends as well as the variety of vampires and other creatures on the series.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 1x09: "Plaisir D'Amour"

Written by Brian Buckner
Directed by Anthony Hemingway

Pam (to Sookie): “I’m beginning to understand the fuss everyone’s making over you.”

Well, Pam, I think one of the reasons why such a fuss can be made over Sookie is down to her knack for trouble coming after her ever since she got involved with Bill. Not that I blame him at all for her crappy misfortunes of late.

Long Shadow was a prized dunce. Anyone else would’ve darted straight out of Fangtasia rather than try to attack Sookie. What was he hoping to achieve? Even if he had succeeded in strangling the girl, he’d still have to face up to Eric’s wrath and something tells me that’s not pleasant either.

Bill might have done him a favour by actually staking. Although it’s been seen before with the trio’s deaths, vampires certainly do die gorily on this show. Back in the days of Buffy, all you had to worry about was breathing in vampire death. Here, Sookie got bathed in Long Shadow’s blood and even had bits of him in her cleavage.

The death of a vampire had to have consequences. Pam wouldn’t let Sookie leave Fangtasia because she knew that Eric and Bill (but mainly the latter) were in deep shit over killing one of their own. Bill lied to Sookie, presumably to protect her because she thought everything was her fault. It wasn’t his best of moves.

Eric didn’t seem all that sympathetic when stopping with Chow and Pam to Bill’s in order to let the latter know that he had a tribunal on his hands (while Bill was playing golf on the Wii). He even took some pleasure in trying to disrupt Bill’s parting kisses with Sookie as well. I think Eric really does want to sabotage that relationship. His interest in Sookie is more than professional even if he does look down on humans.

Sookie and Bill’s parting scene was pretty sweet, filled with some tenderness that we’ve seen enough times. Any time something terrible has happened to Sookie, Bill has been there to protect or reassure her. Because of current circumstances, he then put Sam in his place.

Why would Bill do that? He’s not shy in telling Sam how much he doesn’t like him and also how threatened he is by Sam’s attraction to Sookie. However as soon as Sam revealed himself to be a shape shifter by the end of the episode, it all made sense. I assume that Bill was aware of this, because other than that, I can’t think of any other reason why he’d want Sam to protect Sookie.

Sam being revealed as the collie who had been popping up all season certainly wasn’t a shock but it was nice to finally have that answered. Sookie and Sam’s mutual shock when the latter was spotted naked at the end of the bed was comical more than shocking. I can’t wait to see Sam fill in the blanks for viewers on shape shifting and the like.

Sookie might be sympathetic to Sam with this new bit of information but I doubt it will make any difference to Andy. Why did Sam have to go and lie about his family being nudists? I suppose he should’ve realised that Andy was actually going to go and do his job at this point.

When Sookie wasn’t taking her anger out on Andy, she was actually bonding with Amy (prior to making up with Tara). I really did enjoy Sookie and Amy’s scenes together. If Amy wasn’t such a whack job, she’d have the potential of being the best thing in the world for Jason.

Eddie saw through her immediately and even though Jason suspected that she might have abducted vampires before, it didn’t stop him from succumbing to more V trips either. The sex quotient certainly went up a notch with Jason and Amy’s antics but while he was able to admit to loving Amy, after she prodded him, it was like everyone else was pointing out how bad that was.

First off all there was Rene exploding on Jason after the idiot nearly got Rene injured over a tree and then Eddie frankly told Jason that Amy was nuts. Jason, continuing his streak of being thick refused to acknowledge what Eddie had told him. I liked Eddie more and more as this episode unfolded but while Amy has Jason under her thumb, Eddie’s screwed one or the other.

Of course, Amy herself is also in deep shit. Eric was able to spot the guys who torched Malcolm, Diane and Liam and made a point of letting everyone know in Merlotte’s that he’ll retaliate if crossed. Amy herself even looked a little spooked by Eric’s warning. However I don’t think it will be enough for her to let poor Eddie go. Damn it, Amy. Someone should tell her what happened to Long Shadow.

In other news, poor Tara. She really does believe that all it will take is an exorcism and her life will get back on track. That’s really tragic but although I still don’t believe she has a demon, I can see why she now wants an exorcism. She’s having more difficulty than usual to connect with people and even Lettie Mae seems to be reaping the benefits of being exorcised.

Her scenes with Miss Jeanette were also even more telling. Jeanette had Tara convinced that she had to pay more in order to get rid of the demon she is supposed to have inside. Sam was generous enough to actually give her the money for the exorcism as well. Too bad that it still feels like Tara is being scammed to me.

Also in “Plaisir D’Amour”

The annoying Ginger seems to have had a lot of glamouring done to her. Pam initially didn’t want to do more but did instead of taking her.

Eric: “Humans. Honestly Bill, I don’t know what you see in them.”

Sookie’s cat Tina got a far nastier demise in this episode than she did in the book. Sookie spent a lot of time in blood during this episode.

Eddie: “What are you gonna do to me?”
Jason: “Yeah, I was kinda wondering that myself.”
Amy: “We’re gonna drink from him.”

Tara: “You’re one hell of a saleswoman, aren’t you?”
Miss Jeanette: “Next time you’re alone, stand in the mirror and count backwards from ten. If you can get all the way down to zero, then I’m wrong. But if you can’t stand your own company for ten seconds, how are you gonna expect to do it for the rest of your life?”

Tara and Sookie made up in this episode with very little fuss, which made me glad. She is the best friend that Sookie needs right now.

Amy: “Why is it that we all need to be loved but that when someone finally says I love you, people just run scared, hmm? I love you Jason Stackhouse, whether you like it or not. I’m not afraid to admit it.”

Tara: “Don’t you knock? What if I was doing something in private?”
Lettie Mae: “I taught you that was a sin against God. If I walk in on you doing it, it’s your problem, not mine.”

Arlene didn’t do much in this episode, except for going on about her engagement and wangling Sam for a venue for a party. Oh, Arlene.

Sookie: “Then while you make up your mind, how about I tell you what you can get for me, Andy Bellefleur? I’d love to have whoever’s killing off my family’s head on a platter. Think you can arrange that for me?”

Sookie (re Jason): “You are way too good for him. You know that, right?”
Amy: “Course I know that. I’m not stupid.”

Standout music: “Plaisir D’Amour” by Joan Baez and “Walking The Dog” by Rufus Thomas.

Bill (re Eric): “Tell me, do you enjoy living halfway up his backside like you do?”
Pam: “Yes, it’s nice. You should try it.”

Eric (to patrons): “Oh before I go, a word of advice. We know when a human has wronged us, we can smell it. So do not make the mistake of letting the pretty blonde vampire lady on television make you feel comfortable. We may not have retaliated yet but we know who you are. Have a nice night.”

Chronology: From where “The Fourth Man In The Fire” left off.

“Plaisir D’Amour” is certainly a fine episode, another incredibly strong one for the series as well. At this point, I think I’m beginning to lose objectivity with these reviews due to the greatness of the series.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Merlin - Season 2 Promotional Photos 2

Merlin (Colin Morgan) sort of smiling, sort of pensive.

Arthur (Bradley James) looking dashing and wounded.

Morgana (Katie McGrath) on a throne.

Gwen (Angel Coulby) looking gorgeous as ever.

More Season 2 cast shot photos have been surfacing and don't they look great? They can be seen here as well ...

The trailer has also surfaced and we've got the likes of Mackenzie Crook, Colin Salmon, Adrian Lester and Sarah Parish to look forward to as well as the returns of Lancelot and Mordred ...

Season 2 premieres Saturdays at 6.40pm on BBC1 from September 19th.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Desperate Housewives - Season 6 Promotional Photos 2

ABC have finally released some more Season 6 Cast Shots of the ladies of Wisteria Lane.

Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher)

Bree Hodge (Marcia Cross)

Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman)

Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria-Parker)

Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delany)


Season 6 premieres on ABC from September 27th at 9pm. Airdates for UK and Irish transmission have yet to be confirmed.

More cast shots can be seen here ... and here

My Review of "Dead Until Dark"

Written by Charlaine Harris
Released in 2001

Bill: “What are you?”
Sookie: “Hey, I’m not dead. What I am is telepathic. I can hear people’s thoughts.”

I had originally planned to wait until Season 1 of the series had actually finished on FXUK before reading this but Easons went and imported all nine books with new covers, hinging on the True Blood promotional shots and I found myself unable to resist and bought the first two books. I’ll be getting the rest within the next month.

The basis of the series is pretty fun. A telepathic waitress in the humble town of Bon Temps whose life gets more complicated when she hooks up with a vampire, who are now out of the coffin and it’s just about accepted by the locals – what’s not to love?

Sookie and Bill’s love story is hardly new terrain in the classic human/vampire romantic pairing and the Bill in this book isn’t as sympathetic as Stephen Moyer has portrayed him onscreen but you can buy into Sookie and Bill’s attraction to each other. Bill certainly does have a Southern gentleman charm about him.

It’s just too bad that everyone else isn’t quite as eager to give them a chance. The locals disapprove and bad boy vampire Eric is also delightful in sticking his oar into proceedings as well. Plus while the series may be overt with it, the allusions to gay rights/marriage etc are fairly prominent in this book as well, though not in a heavy handed way.

The main mystery of the killer slaying various vampire groupies (also known as fang bangers) does drive some passages very well and I did find it satisfying that it was revealed to be Rene. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s played out on the series as well, given that I have four more episodes to watch.

In regards to the other characters, they’re pretty good. Jason is fairly consistent as is Arlene, Sam but there’s very little of Lafayette and there’s one moment in the book where Andy’s crassness is really anger inducing. Then there’s poor Adelle Stackhouse. Even in print her death is still sad to read.

- Tara doesn’t feature in this book at all. She appears in the second one though Alan Ball has clearly made her into a bigger character. Like with Lafayette.
- Amy Burley is also someone who isn’t that big a deal. And Sookie was more confrontational in the book about Arlene’s prejudices.
- The sex scenes with Bill and Sookie are somewhat more aggressive here, especially the graveyard sex scene.
- Is Bubba the vampire supposed to be a certain dead king of Rock and Roll?

“Dead Until Dark” is a captivating book. I really wish that I had read this years before learning that it would become a television series. I guess better late than never though.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Monday, September 07, 2009

My Review of True Blood's 1x08: "The Fourth Man In The Fire"

Written by Alexander Woo
Directed by Michael Lehmann

Sookie: “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through today? A friend would ask.”
Tara: “Don’t tell me how to be your friend.”

These cliff hangers really can take a lot out of you. Sookie has had the misfortune of either nearly being killed or walking into to find someone killed and while it’s definitely getting formulaic, I don’t think the are going to stop anytime soon.

With this episode there was the fear of Bill being done in once and for all. I’ve done something I shouldn’t have and went and read the first book, Dead Until Dark. However even if I hadn’t done that, I still didn’t think for a second that Bill was actually dead.

However Malcolm, Liam and Diane presumably are along with some unfortunate fang banger to boot. As deaths go, vampires when killed certainly do look suitably grisly on this show. Now if this was Buffy, they’d just be dust with no fuss. Even the skeletal remains of The Master have nothing on the gnarly corpse that Sookie had to see here.

Unfortunately for the first quarter of the episode, Sookie was convinced that Bill actually did die and it certainly did little to improve her mood. I was actually shocked when she started yelling at Tara. Granted Tara was an episode too late with the ‘I can’t believe you let a vampire bite you’ reaction but even then, I thought Sookie was being way too harsh.

Of course, Sookie has had to endure a lot of shit in the space of a week, so there was something of a relief when the thing that clawed its way out of the grave was Bill. Without sounding like a shipper, I have to admit that Sookie and Bill’s graveyard sex scene was actually quite hot. Sure we’ve seen Buffybot and Spike do the nasty in a graveyard but this was something else.

The more Sookie seems to sleep with Bill, the more enamoured she becomes. She really does change a lot personality wise too. She was too perky the next day in Merlotte’s when telling everyone that Bill was alive. Sam didn’t exactly do much to contain his sadness over Bill surviving either, did he?

Then there was Sookie and Bill babysitting Arlene’s kids. I don’t really like Arlene’s bigotry (something that Sookie even addressed twice) but I can understand why she wouldn’t be so keen with Sookie having Bill over with Coby and Lisa. Rene on the other hand seemed less fazed about Bill around the kids.

As for Bill and the kids, nice wholesome family fun apparently can be order of the day. I think the fact that he was a vampire automatically made him intriguing to Coby but it was sort of hilarious seeing Lisa trying to coach him into being a better boyfriend for Sookie. By the end of the night, even Arlene seemed less tense about Bill. Then again, she did get engaged to Rene so that would improve a lot of people’s mood.

Fun times might have been had with Bill but Eric finally popped up in an episode where he felt more like a character to me. Granted all he did was order Bill to bring Sookie to Fangtasia but it was certainly better than anything else we’ve seen Eric do so far. Still not completely sure of him though.

Sookie’s second trip to Fangtasia almost seemed delightfully mundane – finding the halfwit dumb enough to steal $60,000 from Eric. It would’ve been almost anticlimactic if Sookie hadn’t made herself a deal with Eric. Nice of her to try and protect a human suspect but bad in the sense that Eric will only too well make her stick to her end of the bargain.

Bruce and Ginger made for okayish staff members, though the latter was somewhat annoying in her attempts of flirting with Eric. The end reveal of Longshadow being the culprit was interesting. That being said, there’s no way he’s going to do that much damage to Sookie, what with Bill, Eric and Pam all there to help her out.

As for Jason and Amy, god damn it! I really wanted to like Amy, I really did. At the start of this episode she was earning some massive brownie points. She managed to make Jason a lot more interesting and sympathetic than we’ve ever seen him be and she even got him to open up to her as well and they didn’t even have proper sex, just touching and no naughty stuff. Hell, she even managed to get into Arlene’s good books as well and I doubt that’s something easily achieved as well as snagging a job at Merlotte’s.

So, where did it all go wrong? The V addiction of course. It turned out that Amy had worse withdrawal problems that Jason but at least Jason was realistic enough to know that Lafayette wouldn’t sell any to them. Amy however got around that problem by kidnapping poor Eddie (one of Lafayette’s clients, who clearly had a thing for Lafayette), which is damn proof that I’m beginning to feel sorry for vampires in this show.

I shouldn’t really be surprised that Jason would go down a darker path, given everything we’ve seen with him so far on the series. I was just hoping that Amy would’ve been more of a calming influence instead of being the person who brings him further down a slippery path.

Speaking of slippery paths, I loved the cat and mouse antics with Sam and Andy in this episode. Sam really should stick to one story. He told Terry that it wasn’t him running naked in the woods and then made up some naturist crap to get Andy off his back. He would’ve been better off sticking to one story and committing to it. I wasn’t surprised that Andy then went to check up on Sam’s little fable. Sam, you idiot. First you piss off Tara (though she was out of line with the racist comment) and then this.

Tara was also another person who had a rotten time of it. Most people would be delighted to see their mother kick the booze if she was a raging alcoholic like Lettie Mae but Tara’s no idiot and she had every right to be suspicious of her mother. I don’t buy Lettie Mae’s U-Turn either.

Sure, it’s a well constructed act. No booze means a lot of hoe cakes, renewing your church ties and even throwing subtle hints to your daughter about the demon being gone. In the end with all the crap that Tara went through in this episode, I bet Miss Jeanette saw her coming again. Damn, Tara, you don’t have a demon but what you do have are two opportunistic vultures around your neck.

Also in “The Fourth Man In The Fire”

Another interesting vampire myth was Bill telling Sookie that it’s a longer process to die due to sunlight after she told him about her dream of him burning up.

Amy: “You’re an extraordinary being.”
Jason: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

This was another episode where Steve Newlin was spouting off about his avowed hatred towards vampires. At some point, he’s going to descend on Bon Temps, right?

Amy: “You never talk about things to anybody? You don’t even talk to your sister?”
Jason: “Least of all her. She brings out the worst in me.”

Arlene (re Amy): “Sam, I think we might have found a replacement for Dawn.”
Sookie (to Jason): “Looks like you did too.”

Due to reading the first book, I know for a fact that Amy has a bigger role on this show than the book. Then again, so does Lafayette and others. I also liked that little scene with Terry and Arlene in this episode as well. I think he fancies her.

Hoyt: “You look mighty pretty tonight, Tara. That colour suits you.”
Tara: “Fuck you.”
Hoyt: “I’m sorry, was that sexist?”

Sookie: “What’s it like to sleep in the ground?”
Bill: “Well, it’s not exactly comfortable but it is safe.”

Eric really did know how to unnerve Bill. Then again, I wouldn’t be that comfortable just making themselves at home in my bathtub either. And Eric is Sheriff of Area 5, giving him more clout over Bill.

Tara: “A grunting sound. Like a farm animal?”
Sam: “No, it’s athletic. Like tennis players when they serve.”

Arlene: “Would you be a bridesmaid for me again?”
Sookie: “Why of course. You hardly have to ask.”

The fourth man in the fire actually was a man – Mike Spencer’s assistant, Neil who had dreaded Sookie outing him as a fang banger back in “Cold Ground”.

Andy (re Neil): “Jesus, Bud, the kid was creepy. What nineteen year old goes to work for a funeral home?”
Bud: “I worked in a slaughter house when I was fifteen.”

Andy: “You’re a naturist?”
Sam: “No, no, good lord, no. My folks were, I’m embarrassed to say, they spent most of their lives in a nudist colony.”

Standout music: Greg Laswell’s “Comes And Goes” (he’s being used a lot on US TV nowadays) and Johnny Cash’s “The Fourth Man In The Fire”.

Lafayette (to Tara): “Trust me. This world is filled with things we’ll never understand.”

Eric (to Bill, re Sookie): “Honestly, did you think you could keep her to yourself?”

Chronology: As per usual, this takes place from where “Burning House Of Love” left off.

“The Fourth Man In The Fire” is certainly a fun episode. Having Bill use fake fangs to amuse Coby and Lisa, coupled with graveyard sex, more trips to Fangtasia, and references to Heroes all add to an episode brimming with utter brilliance. Too bad that Amy and Jason’s little antics are going to cost them dearly.

Rating: 9 out of 10.