Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x14: The Night Lila Died

I know it was a double bill season finale but I'm reviewing both of the final episodes seperately (next one on Monday), so here are my thoughts on the first half of the finale.

Written by Michael Foley
Directed by Laura Innes

Kangaroo Court: Oh, Rebecca - your lying, manipulative, scheming antics were eventually going to catch up with you and how appropriate that it would be in the final run of episodes for this happen. Aside from the fact that you were a terrible friend to Lila (who is actually more annoying than you are) but Wes finally wised up to your dubious charms and Laurel, Connor and Michaela were more than happy to confront you on your true involvement in Lila's demise. Also it seems that threatening the Keating 5 only results in being tied and gagged and left in the bathroom as well. Even Annalise looked shocked when she walked in on that moment.

With Friends Like These: Let's be honest - both Rebecca and Lila are terrible friends to each other. Rebecca has a horrible tendency of trying to bring people to her questionable level and Lila was just a vacuous spoiled trying to live on the wild side before realising she actually loved her loser boyfriend, Griffin. In flashbacks, we saw Lila and Rebecca's horrible friendship fall to piece and the latter getting revenge of sorts by sleeping with Griffin and making sure that Lila caught them. I want to feel bad for Lila, considering she ended up dying horribly but she's actually pretty annoying to be honest.

Getting Tested: With Connor being a "drug addict", Oliver thought it would be a great idea for the pair of them to get tested for STDs so that they then could have sex without any worries. A reasonable enough request and one that saw Connor's sexuality partially explained onscreen with some backhanded comments from Michaela and Asher on safe sex but on the plus side - Connor's gotten the all clear. As for Oliver, if I wasn't spoiled already, I could've easily guessed what would be revealed about his outcome in the second part of this finale. More on that in the second part of this review too.

Changing Judges/Lawyers: Oh Annalise - you send your boyfriend up shit creek and when he isn't getting denied bail and his ass handed to him in prison, at least you try to do the right thing by getting a better judge for him. Nate has every right to piss with Annalise but I did like that he's going to follow her advice and get a better lawyer for himself (I smell big guest star next season) and I also liked Asher's role in the judge's downfall and the rather direct way in which Frank informed both Asher and Bonnie that he was aware of them sleeping together. It's the little moments really.

Confession Is Bad For Trials: Obviously of course it is but I really liked the case of the week. Not only did it break up the flashbacks and current fears of Rebecca with the Keating 5 (minus Asher) but it was twisty enough to keep general interest going. The show could've easily had Father Andrew being an actual paedophile instead of one who ended up killing a fellow priest for the crime in question, so points there for the twist and the great scenes that Andrew also had with Annalise. While this is likely the last case of the week for this season, I thought it was a solid and engaging ones. Sure we've had better ones but this was still great stuff though.

Next episode, we finally found out who murdered Lila.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - Episode 6 Recap/Review

Well, last night's episodes were a mixture of some quirky loveliness with one show and utter trauma with another. For those of you've seen this week's episodes, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Cucumber: Lance Edward Sullivan - 1966 - 2015. And all of a sudden, this episode opened up like Six Feet Under and I suddenly became very worried and with good reason. This was the episode where Lance was going to do and given that his entire life story from being born, losing his mother, coming to terms with his sexuality, reconnecting with his family and getting back to the present day, his doom couldn't be more spelled out for him.

Watching this episode was an hour of pure dread from start to finish but before you think that's me being negative, it's actually not. Yes, I knew that Lance was a dead man and sadly while being killed at the hands of a self loathing and despicable Daniel wasn't a shock to me, this was also the show at it's most engrossing, traumatic and insightful yet. I'd even go as far as to say that this could be the best thing Russell T. Davies ever written as well.

With allusions to the Doctor Who episode, Turn Left, a character dressed like Daenerys from Game Of Thrones, the previously mentioned Six Feet Under reference and the appearance of Hazel from Queer As Folk, Davies admitted he wanted to write an episode where a death felt like a death and he certainly accomplished that goal with this hour of television. Lance's death was unfortunately imminent from the moment he didn't follow Hazel's advice to go home (and the fact that something's been off with Daniel from day one) and tragic to watch as his life flashed before his eyes with Henry being one of the last people he saw before dying.

Cyril Nri has been great on the show but here in this episode, he was truly exceptional as was James Murray, despite my absolute vitriol for Daniel. Then again, so was Vincent Franklin who realised albeit too late that Henry loved Lance.  It's a shame that Lance in the way he died but as a piece of television, this was something truly not to be missed.

Banana: After the intensity of the parent show, it's nice that Banana went for something lighter with Amy's story. If the parent show has primarily centred on the male characters, then the spin-off (excluding the first episode) has been all about the ladies - Scotty, Violet, Sian, Helen, Sophie and now the adorably quirky and slightly paranoid Amy.

Played by Charlie Covell (who actually wrote this episode and Helen's episode from two weeks ago), I absolutely loved watching Amy onscreen as she went on a nervous but lovely date with policewoman Kay (TNia Miller), who also found out was the woman to arrest Daniel for Lance's murder.

I have to admit, I related a tiny bit to some of Amy's paranoia, though the thing about checking that switches and stuff are off before leaving is just common sense. Despite one or two moments where it looked like she might have blown it with Kay, I did like that the episode ended on a positive note but aside from the fact that we didn't see Amy in the parent show, I also noticed that both Freddie and Dean were absent from both episodes this week.

Tofu: A very emotional episode and actually the best one we've had as well. A lot of the episode seemed to be focused on the cultural impact of Queer As Folk. I caught bits of the show in my teens (I would've been about 14 when it aired, maybe slightly younger) and watched the full thing when it was repeated years later and I loved the comments from the usual suspects about the show and the comparisons that Cucumber has gotten to it as well (though props to Julie Hesmondhalgh for Tale Of Two Cities comparison as well). I also found Gary's (the vlogger guy's) comments particularly touching in this one. All in all, a very emotional draining week for the shows with Amy's adventure adding some needed levity to proceedings.

Next week, it's Lance's funeral and then we get to meet Aiden and Frank.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

American Horror Story - First Season 5 Spoilers/Scream Queens Adds More Victims

It's been an interesting few days for Ryan Murphy's projects. With Glee airing it's double wedding episode, both of Murphy's other shows have had some interesting spoilers revealed.

Yesterday afternoon, Lady Gaga not only announced that she will be a series regular in the upcoming fifth season of American Horror Story, but also that the subtitle for the upcoming season will be Hotel. I'm not Gaga's biggest fan but I have to admit that she's actually pretty perfect for this show and given that Ryan Murphy has talked about the forthcoming season being something of a reboot, this could be a good thing for the show. Right now, Gaga is the only confirmed cast member for Season 5 but the cast and crew of Freak Show will be at Paleyfest next month, so hopefully some more details will emerge. The idea of a hotel setting is also pretty too, right?

Meanwhile for Scream Queens, several other cast members have been announced. As regulars, viewers can expect Diego Boneta (Rock Of Ages) as a handsome but bookish guy, Glen Powell (The Expendables 3) as a popular jock who gets all the girls. Also added to the cast are Lucien Laviscount (Coronation Street), Skyler Samuels (American Horror Story: Freak Show), Niecy Nash (Getting On) and Billie Lourd (Star Wars: Episode 7, daughter of Carrie Fisher). Meanwhile IMDB have names for certain characters but seeing as it's that site in particular, I'm going to wait for a better confirmation source. Either way, it's nice that we're getting some lovely male totty on this show as well as some brilliant female characters.

You know it's going to be very interesting watching both American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens almost side by side towards the end of this year.

AHS: Hotel Announcement:
Scream Queens Castings:

American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens will air on FX and FOX from October 2015. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Weddings

A roundup of some of the shows I've seen over the last few weeks.

Arrow: I'm on Sky1 pace and the second half of the third season has started well enough. It's nice that we've Oliver actually survive his confrontation with Ras but the sooner his team become privy to that fact, maybe the better. Other than that, the flashbacks have been fairly okay (just realised that Tatsu is actually Katana) and I'm actually enjoying Laurel's slow but gradual evolution as the Canary as well. However the less of Vinnie Jones on my screen the better - as Brick, he's just dreadful. Ray's journey to becoming a hero is also developing nicely enough too.

Broadchurch: Series 2 has largely been a bit too hit and miss for it's own good and while the trial was painfully dragged out and had a terrible result, I did like the community banding together to ex-communicate Joe nonetheless though. On the plus side, at least the Sandbrook stuff got resolved and Hardy and Miller continue to shine as a double act. I'm not sure if commissioning a third series is entirely wise, given how this series struggled but I can also see why ITV might want to keep this show going for a bit longer too.

Girls: In the real world, Adam dumping Hannah for someone who is less annoying (even if she makes pretentiously boring YouTube videos) would be seen as a good thing. In this world, we're supposed to actually sympathise with Hannah, even if yet again, Jessa proved to be an awful friend by her own admission in Adam's new lover. Other than that, there was some witty-ish one liners from Shoshanna and Marnie going on about her dull as ditchwater relationship with the reject from Mumford & Sons. I think Ray might have done something but it's hard to remember, considering he's about as riveting as paint drying.

Glee: The last two episodes have been interesting. First of all, we had the transitioning for Beiste and it was dealt with well enough (even though it's a storyline that deserved more care and preparation with it) and then we had the weddings of Santana/Brittany and Kurt/Blaine, which I actually really enjoyed seeing, even if the latter's could've been a series finale treat. I do think they're forcing the Rachel/Sam pairing though and the absence of Quinn in the wedding episode stuck out like a sore thumb.

Looking: I'm really liking this season a lot. I like that we're seeing some tiny bits of growth with some of the main characters and I like that even though Patrick and Richie are no longer a couple, there's an effort being made to still have them interact in ways that don't feel trite. While the last episode I watched didn't feature Dom, I do like the budding relationship between Agustin and Eddie more than the current one with Patrick/Kevin. Overall, while the show isn't gripping, it has somewhat improved a little this year.

Scandal: Dear show - I've somewhat tired of Olivia, Jake and Fitz. Honestly, Liv could do better than either of them at the moment and eventually one of them (Jake mostly like) is gonna have to stand aside and hopefully sooner than later. Aside from that, the rest of the recent episodes have been good - anything involving Cyrus/Michael, Mellie snapping out of her depression and of course Huck's desperate attempts of interacting with his son too. All of this though feels like it's trundling along until we get to a particular plot thread I've already been spoiled for.

The Flash: Arrow is excellent but The Flash is just that tiny bit better. The last two episodes saw a cold/hot team up of villains resulting in a Prison Break reunion and then we got the introduction of gay villain/eventual good guy, the Pied Piper and while Hartley is a massive jerk, he's also pretty fun to watch as well. I also like that Iris is now a proper journalist (betting she learns Barry's identity by the end of the season) and that there are tiny advancements on Harrison's past as well as Robbie lurking in the shadows as well.

- Calista Flockhart has been cast as Cat Grant, the Anna Wintour style boss for Kara in the upcoming Supergirl series.
- Joel Gretsch has left MTV's Scream series.
- UK viewers will be able to see the sixth season of Community on SonyTV from next month onwards.
- Jonathan Groff will reprise his role of Jesse for the series finale of Glee and an episode prior to it.
- Lucien Laviscount will be regular in the upcoming anthology series, Scream Queens. Also added to the cast are Niecy Nash, Skyler Samuels and Billie Lourd.
- UK drama Dates will air on the CW.
- Cuckoo will get a US remake with YouTube actor Flula Borg in the title role. It'll air on NBC.
- Christina Aguilera will be appearing in multiple episodes of Nashville.
- Jennifer Hudson and Rita Ora will be in the season finale of Empire.
- Lena Dunham will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Scandal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 1x17: "Red Hood"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Nathan Hope

Bullock (to Gordon): “When crooks become more popular than cops, that’s anarchy.”

Last week we got the Joker or did we? This week, it was the chance for the Red Hood gang to rock up and make an impression on the criminals of Gotham while garnering admiration from the regular folk as well with their slightly Robin Hood esque manner. While there was choice moments clearly lifted from a certain Nolan movie, this was a solid enough episode for the gang’s introduction.

I like that we went from at least three of the five gang members all becoming the Red Hood at different points in the episode – each with different enough motives and the actual taking out the gang completely just proved that they were mostly an inept bunch, even if the last shot meant they inspired one person to rise up and be counted for.

While we have had better origin stories in the last three episodes, I do think everything consistently known about the Red Hood legacy was set up nicely enough though. We got some great zingers from Bullock and Gordon was at his best too with dealing with the gang as well but it was mainly the other plots that held more bite to them.

Fish for example willingly gouged out one of her own eyes just so that the Dulmacher and his minions couldn’t take it from her. I found that pretty gruesome and daring of Fish to do but wouldn’t she have been better attacking that smug intermediary than harming herself though? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. Either way, losing an eye aside, this plot has done wonders overall for Fish as a character though.

Speaking of wonders – Barbara is a lot more interesting hanging around Selina and Ivy than she is interacting with most adults. Unfortunately, she could’ve waited a few more years before giving the girls advice on using their feminine wiles and the constant drinking around them seems to have put Selina off her as well. Perhaps Barbara should slow down on the boozing in front of kids then.

Keeping with the kids – I wasn’t too shocked that Alfred’s old friend turned out to be working for Wayne Enterprises. Bruce certainly got under their skin last week and I’m not too shocked they decided to strike back. I was a little shocked though that Alfred got stabbed but at the same time, I don’t see Bruce losing another parent just yet though.

As for the plotline with Oswald, Butch and acquiring booze from Maroni – eh, it was an okay enough little subplot but again, this felt like another episode where much as I love the character, I don’t really think Oswald was actually needed. I however love the fact that he’s constantly uncertain about Butch’s motives and Butch himself seems to be revelling in the fact that Oswald can’t figure out his actions either.

Also in “Red Hood”

Another terrible comedian in the nightclub this week. Maybe they should just give Bullock a job there.

Alfred (re Wayne manor): “I like it here. It’s good for me.”
Reginald: “I can see that.”

Great this episode gave us a tiny bit more insight into Alfred’s past.

Oswald: “You must take great pleasure in watching me fail.”
Butch: “On the contrary.”

Ivy: “You sure must go out a lot.”
Barbara: “I used to.”

Not so shocking that Ivy gravitated towards green colours with the dresses and that Barbara suggested black for Selina.

Barbara: “You’re a true beauty, something you can use to your advantage. Your appearance can be a weapon as powerful as any knife or gun.”
Selina: “Yeah? What good it’s done you?”

I was getting some serious American Horror Story vibes when Fish was witnessing the various people being used for body parts in this episode.

Fish: “You will take nothing from me.”

No Nygma, Essen, Leslie, Montoya or Allen in this episode. Or Falcone and Maroni, despite both being mentioned.

Oswald: “Perhaps it’s not our friends but our enemies who define us. To Fish.”
Butch: “She got what she deserved.”

Chronology: Not long from where “The Blind Fortune Teller” left off.

Not quite as amazing as the previous episode, but “Red Hood” was a solid enough episode with a great shock and a satisfying origin story for the gang in question. Next week’s episode looks set to bring back another familiar face from earlier in the season as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, February 23, 2015

First Look: Empire

This show might be halfway through airing it's first season (and already commissioned a second one) but now that it's come to my attention, I am really hoping a UK broadcaster gets the rights to air this one pretty soon.

Empire - a 12 episode series, starring Terrence Howard (Crash, The Brave One) as Lucious Lyon - a former drug dealer turned CEO of a hip-hop label named Empire Entertainment whose life is about to fall apart when he's diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and his outspoken ex-wife, Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson (Person Of Interest) re-enters his life after a spell in prison for drug dealing, intent on getting her share of Lucious's ill gotten gains while attempting to bring her family back together.

A family containing three sons, all of whom are vying to be Lucious's successor when the latter dies. The sons are Andre (Trai Byers) - the oldest one, married to his childhood sweetheart, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), a talented gay singer/songwriter in a relationship with Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) and seen as the black sheep of the family and finally, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), the fame obsessed younger brother desperate to claim the family throne.

Watching the trailer, this is certainly an interesting series and one that has been something of a ratings juggernaut for FOX. Created by Danny Strong and Lee Daniels with music from Timbaland and guest appearances from the likes of Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love, Empire has been something of a critical darling as well as one of the biggest drama hits of the year and with the mixture of music, soap opera fun and a plethora of diverse characters, it's definitely one to watch out for.

Season 1 Trailer:

Empire airs Wednesdays 9pm on FOX for US viewers. A UK broadcaster has yet to be confirmed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

EastEnders - 30th Anniversary Live Week

Well, that was some week. Never have I been that gripped by a soap but between February 17th-20th 2015 and in the space six episodes (regular/flashback/live inserts), BBC1's EastEnders celebrated it's 30th anniversary with a slew of unforgettable episodes with revelations coming thick and fast.

First of all - Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater). We've waited 10 months and have had various clues, elements of misdirection and secrets being spilled out by various characters as her death became all consuming and factored in nearly every character going. After initially making it look like Jane (Laurie Brett) in the hour long episode on Thursday, the accompanying flashback episode recalled Lucy's last moments - which involved being robbed by Ben, thumped by Jake, slapped by Abi and tackled to the ground by Denise, it turned out that while she did indeed die at home (which Lauren cryptically revealed through a card and a later discussion with Peter), it wasn't Jane who delivered the killer blow.

Instead that honour went to Bobby (Eliot Carrington) who hit his sister with a music box while Jane then placed the body to be found at the commons instead. While I can understand that some people were not happy with this reveal (I was certain it was Abi until Tuesday's episode ruled her out), I actually think it's pretty satisfying. Whether it's sign that Bobby is a future sociopath or it was a horrible accident, I don't know but it confirmed that current showrunner Dominic Treadwell-Collins wasn't joking when he said that it was going to be devastating on the Beales - and it truly was as Ian painfully pieced things together and realised that instead of murdering his daughter that new wife Jane was instead trying to protect her adopted son.

I've seen this show do some amazing moments of television beforehand and throughout the week, it was relentlessly good and grim stuff with the Beales but Friday's episode certainly took the show to a whole new level. The arguments between Ian, Jane, Cindy and Peter upon learning that Bobby killed Lucy were superb and the letter that Lucy had written was utterly heartbreaking when Cindy read it out to Ian. Lucy was a nightmare and not the nicest of people but the loss of the character and the revelation of Bobby's role in her death (as well as Jane's role in concealing it) undoubtedly changes things forever for the Beales. Ian might have forgiven Jane but he certainly won't forget and Peter's inability to accept things will only facilitate Ben Hardy's exit from the show. DTC was telling the truth about this story being a changer for the show. I just didn't realise how right he was going to be after all.

Of course to keep with the Beales for a moment, another thing happened - Kathy came home for all of a minute. Yes, despite the fact that the character was killed off back in 2006 off screen and we've been stuck with Ben ever since, I was genuinely surprised to see Gillian Taylforth back on the show (last seen in Hollyoaks) and her little moment with Phil certainly has me curious as to how Kathy can rejoin the Square but it was one in a series of shocking moments. Others included Lauren's swift exit, the live bloopers ("how's Adam?"), Mick nearly killing Dean, Dot being arrested for Nick's death, Ronnie finally waking up from her coma, the arrival of Richard Blackwood's mysterious Vincent, Kim giving birth prematurely in the ladies of the Queen Vic and Linda proposing to Mick as well as Ian and Jane's second eventful wedding. This certainly was not been a dull week in the slightest for the soap.

Creatively, the show has never been better and with the returns of characters like Martin, Kathy, Peggy, Tanya and Christian, a recreation of the opening scene from the first episode in the anniversary episode and other glorious little nods, this whole week managed to honour the show's rich thirty year history along with signalling various plot points for the future. Aside from the slew of impressive episodes, we've also had the Gogglebox style Back To Ours series in which 13 former/current cast members got to rewatch some of their highlights, an after party special that could rival Doctor Who's 50th one (possibly), a feature on the whole Lucy Beale storyline, a Graham Norton special and a chance to rewatch the first ever episode, courtesy of the Red Button service.

It's been thirty years and the show has gone from strength to strength but in terms of anniversary stories, this truly represented a golden age in storytelling for the show and both the cast and crew, as well as current EP Dominic Treadwell-Collins really should take a bow. An utterly wonderful week of episodes. Here's to the next thirty years.

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x13: Mama's Here Now

Was this a penultimate episode or what? Given that the finale is essentially a two parter, I guess it was but this was certainly an eye opening episode as certain things came together quite nicely.

Written by Erika Green Swafford & Doug Stockstill
Directed by Michael Listo

Getting Things Done: And the Emmy for Best Guest Star .... had better go to Cicely Tyson in the next seven months. As Annalise's mother, Ophelia, she was certainly the best guest star the show has brought in so far and the scenes between her and Viola Davis were basically a masterclass in acting goodness. No stone was left unturned as we learned that Annalise used to be called Anna Mae and that she had been raped by an abusive uncle, who Ophelia later ended up killing. While the commentary on men taking things from women wasn't particularly subtle, there was an element of it that rang true enough to explain the strained dynamic between mother and daughter as the latter would step up a gear in order to fix the problem that she caused Nate. Leading into ...

Attack Of Conscience: Michaela. Last week it looked like she wasn't particular bothered about an innocent man being sent down for Sam's death. This week was thankfully a change of tack as Michaela used her own smarts and sex appeal to get information on Nate's current predicament (which ain't looking good but nice of the show to give us some naked Billy Brown though) before Annalise stepped in, had a cryptic exchange with Nate before slyly encouraging him to switch lawyers with a little note she easily managed to slip him. I think this episode might have my favourite one for Michaela. We need to see more of these kids good side and this was a great way of doing it.

Hi, Rudy: Okay, I actually thought that Rudy wouldn't be introduced until much later. I wasn't actually expecting a Wes/Laurel team up to meet the bloke in a mental hospital and I certainly wasn't factoring that he might have actually played a role or know something about Lila's death but this episode proved otherwise. It also proved that Rebecca is shady as hell as the episode ended with her actually tracking Wes's phone. Maybe she did kill Lila after all. At least the last two episodes will finally put this storyline to bed and possibly Rebecca in a bodybag or jail if she's guilty.

Nearly A Couple Again: For Coliver shippers (first and last time I ever type that) - myself included, it's amazing that the cutest thing in this episode with the two of them was Connor not having sex with Oliver. And why? Because it showed character growth on Connor's part by him not wanting to take advantage of Oliver's drunken state and also it came after Connor introduced Oliver to Laurel, Michaela and Wes (that scene was a little too short) and both of them worked together to help Bonnie get an advantage on her case. Now this is how you write an LGBT relationship. Much as I enjoy your shows, Ryan Murphy - take note here.

HumpR Strikes Again: I love the fact that this show made up a gay app/cruising site and I love that they found a way of using it again in another episode. This week, it looked like an unconventionally good looking nurse was going to get fired/her place of work sued for rape on a male patient, only for it to turn out that the patient and another guy were attempting to scam the hospital for a payment. While Bonnie nearly made a balls of the whole thing at the start of the episode, she eventually got her groove, landed a victory for her client and even had sex with Asher (which Frank witnessed). Overall, a really great episode for the character - which makes me wonder if she's going to be revealed as Lila's killer in the next two episodes.

Next week, it's the two part finale as we finally find out what happened to Lila and get to see what's set up for next season.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - Episode 5 Recap/Review (And Screwdriver)

The timing for these episodes this week couldn't be at a worse time. Following the Live episodes of EastEnders 30th anniversary (blog on that tomorrow), I had to Plus 1 the two main shows but while neither were the show at their best, they were still watchable though.

Cucumber: Feeling 'Nervous' anyone? Well, this week, Henry's pesudo-porn/vlogging empire came to a thankful end of sorts - first through Adam and his mates realising that Henry was surplus to requirements and secondly, due to Cleo reading Henry the riot act about children, sex and constantly having to think in one of the most beautifully written speeches I've ever seen any television show. I'm glad this plot line was wrapped up pretty fast and also in a way that didn't come across as overly moralistic while at the same time not entirely making light of the situation as well.

In terms of other plots - hardly much else really happened this week. We got to meet Freddie's parents, who realistically weren't delighted with the idea of Henry living with their son and then we had a nice bonding session between Henry and Freddie where the former realised that he wanted Lance back after all. A good thing, considering that Leigh turned out to be somewhat racist but sadly, Lance is too fixated on Daniel to consider taking Henry back.

The low point of nearly every episode so far has been Lance fawning over Daniel. While it's not an unrealistic story, it's a fucking depressing one with Daniel just being unpleasant and nutty in each episode. The whole wanking thing as well should've been a wake up call for Lance but sadly, it wasn't. No offence to James Murray but the sooner Daniel buggers off, the better far as I'm concerned.

Banana: A somewhere in between kind of episode for me. It's one that's not quite as good as either Scotty or Helen's, is probably on a par with Violet and Sian and marginally better than Dean's. On the plus side, Luke Newberry, everyone.

The guy's build up a nice fanbase courtesy of the now cancelled In The Flesh and here he plays a slightly snobbish free spirited guy named Josh. A guy who is both fixated on Freddie and desperate to get his best friend, Sophie (Chloe Harris) to call off her wedding, which she does predictably at the last minute of the story.

It's not a bad episode as such but like it's parent show, it's had to come from a massive turning point episode and it doesn't really feel that big though. Still, it's nice to see Newberry on more television though and I did like the banter with him and Harris throughout the episode.

Tofu: Ah, an episode about Teenage Lust. Various cast and crew and usual suspects discuss at lengths their first times, their crushes as well as their consumption of porn. I found it interesting that people like Jake Bass were talking about the younger female fans they've generated and how even porn stars too have succumbed to being shipped by the Tumblr generation as well. Other than that, this wasn't the most riveting installment we've had.

Screwdriver: Out of all things that aired last night in relation to this franchise (is that the right word to use here?), this was undoubtedly the highlight of the bunch. A wonderful 15 minute treat which saw both Cleo and Adam sitting in a pub as the former grills the latter on how much porn he's actually seen, when he started watching and what can be done in relation to impressionable children watching it as well. You know that bit earlier in this blog where I said the Cleo/Henry scene in Cucumber was one of the most beautifully written scenes? Yeah, well this whole fifteen minute scene surpasses it with Julie Hesmondhalgh just firing on all cylinders as the Screwdriver and various other sexual acts and attitudes towards sexuality are discussed in a frightening frank and brutal way. This is literally the best fifteen minutes of anything I've seen in recent times and easily the best thing that Russell T. Davies has penned for any of his new shows as well. You'll be amazed by it.

Next week, can Henry win Lance back from Daniel? Oh and we meet Amy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Doctor Who - Series 9: Missy Returns For Opening Two Parter

Yup, you've heard correctly. The delightful Michelle Gomez will be appearing again in Doctor Who's upcoming ninth series, reprising her role as the Master (or Missy), according to the BBC website.

Michelle will appear in the first two episodes of Series 9 titled, The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar and going by some of the set pics, it seems that Missy has a vortex manipulator at her disposal and a pink shirt as well.

According to Steven Moffat, in relation to the character's return ....

“Everybody hide - Michelle Gomez as Missy was an instant hit last year, so she’s straight back to plague the Doctor and Clara in the series opener. But what brings her back into their lives is the last thing they’d expect.”

So something tells me that Missy might be a reluctant/unlikely ally for both the Doctor and Clara before reverting to her usual ways. The episodes are written by Steven Moffat and will be directed by Hettie MacDonald who previously directed the third series episode, Blink.

Also reappearing in the opening two parter are both Jemma Redgrave and Clare Higgins. Redgrave will be reprising the role of Kate Stewart, last seen in Death In Heaven (she'll also be playing the role for an upcoming Big Finish series called UNIT: Extinction) while Higgins either could be reprising the role of Ohila, the leader of the Sisterhood of Karn from the minisode, The Night Of The Doctor or playing a whole new character altogether. This is the second two parter to be filmed for the upcoming series, with work on Toby Whithouse's two parter already in completion.

Other cast members announced for the opening two episodes of the currently filming story are Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, Jami Reid-Quarrell, Aaron Neil, India Ria Amarteifio, Joey Price, Dasharn Anderson, Harki Bhambra, Demi Papaminas. Also seen in recent filming pictures was Coal Hill, so looks like Clara hasn't entirely given up the day job as well but after a few weeks of nothing too exciting to report, spoiler wise, I'm glad we got something to go on today.

Series 9 News:

Doctor Who's ninth series continues to film and will air on BBC1 and BBCAmericafrom August 2015.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 1x16: "The Blind Fortune Teller"

Written by Bruno Heller
Directed by Jeffrey Hunt

Gordon: “Why did you kill your mother, Jerome?”
Jerome: “Oh, you know how mothers are? She just kept pushing.”

First of all, let’s get one thing cleared up. Despite the trailers for this episode, we were not introduced to a younger version of the Joker. Instead we were introduced (for the second time since the show began) of the possibility of a younger Joker. Only this time, Jerome was far more overtly shown as a possibility than the comedian from the opening episode.

Personally, I could get down with this possible version that we met here. Cameron Monaghan might be a bit young for the role but boy, did he certainly exude all the creepiness that you would expect any future version of the Clown Prince to have in spades. That chilling laugh as Jerome confessed to killing his promiscuous snake charming mother certainly sold me onto him. Even the unflappable Leslie seemed visibly creeped out by the guy.

I know a lot of people (and I even include myself in this too) weren’t exactly jumping up and down over the idea of another Joker teaser but given that this was the second time in the space of sixteen episodes and the first where it was actually a plot point, I do think that Gotham is showing a remarkable level of restraint. It’s got to be so tempting to add that character in the show in some capacity but realistically they know it’s probably better to tease his existence every now and then and not go beyond that just yet.

The episode itself not gave us that second Joker possibility but it also introduced Haly’s Circus into the mix and gave us both John Grayson and Mary Lloyd, both of whom came from warring families (and relatives sleeping with dead Lila). I liked the snarky back and forth between John and Mary, especially at the bemusement of other characters witnessing and the hints of a little Robin in the future were done subtle enough not to bug even the most easily irate of viewers as well.

Of course because of Lila’s death and the eventual reveal of Jerome and the title character’s involvement (Cicero, who also turned out to be Jerome’s father), this episode explored an interesting dynamic with Gordon and Leslie. She rightly called him out on his hypocrisy and he was quick to also point out her own impulsiveness as well. Either way, the two of them continue to have excellent chemistry with each other and just click in a way that Gordon never did with Barbara.

Speaking of Barbara, she finally re-emerged this week, looking worse for wear and being the weak point in an otherwise excellent episode. While I didn’t give a crap that she seemed miffed at spotting Gordon and Thompkins playing tonsil hockey at work, I was a little amused that instead of kicking Selina and Ivy out of her pad, instead she took dating and fashion tips from them. Bloody hell, sort yourself out, Barbara and fast, okay?

As for the rest of the episode – I really love that even when it looks like she’s beaten down; Fish knows how to rise again to power. She gave a moving and realistic speech that got her fellow prisoners to rally behind her and her pluckiness even paid off. As for who the manager is, well I think that one has been spoiled by the trailer for next week, hasn’t it?

Last but not least – Bruce too proved his mettle by going up against the condescending board members at Wayne Enterprises and it was a pretty glorious character moment for him as well. Perhaps Oswald who can’t seem to get his club to be a success should ask him for some advice. Now I love kooky Mrs Kapelput as much as the next viewer but Oswald, she’s bad for business and glassing clientele is also bad for business. At least Victor Zsasz and a seemingly brainwashed Butch might be able to help Oswald turn his luck around.

Also in “The Blind Fortune Teller”

According to some spoilers online, this was originally intended as a season finale. It’s a strong episode but maybe not a finale one though.

Mary: “The Graysons are a bunch of arrogant buttheads, that’s the problem.”
John: “The Lloyds are feckless drunkards is more like it.”
Leslie: “So, it’s a family feud?”

I’ve been saying this a lot but I really want this show to defy/ignore canon altogether and have Leslie as Gordon’s endgame lover. She’s way too much for this show to lose. Even Nygma seemed impressed by her in his brief appearance this week.

Fish (to her fellow prisoners): “We have one simple choice. We die here alone on our knees or we stand up and fight with our family.”

Gordon: “How do you feel about your mother’s love life?”
Jerome: “I feel fine about it. If not for my mother’s love life, I wouldn’t be here, would I? Sex is a healthy human activity.”

I loved Bullock’s reaction to the circus folk at GCPD but Essen’s reaction to Gordon using Lila’s snake as a tracker was utterly hilarious.

Leslie: “There are plenty of things in this world that cannot be explained by rational science.”
Gordon: “Yeah, people who enjoy folk dancing for instance. Ghosts don’t exist.”

Jerome: “Did you find out who killed my mother?”
Gordon: “You killed your mother, Jerome.”

Standout music: Between Gertrud’s singing and Oswald’s piano skills, it was a little more memorable than usual.

Gordon: “You’re an unusual woman.”
Leslie: “You just don’t know that many women.”

Bruce (to board members): “My youth is not relevant.”

Chronology: Somewhere after the events of “The Scarecrow”.

This episode was a genuine blast. “The Blind Fortune Teller” might get the accusations of being a desperate ratings grabber of an episode but aside from the fact that we were given no definite answer on Jerome’s future identity, the episode alone was just brilliant from start to finish. However it has come to my attention that it’s literally been yonks since we’ve seen Montoya, Allen or Dent so perhaps some of those characters should return fairly sharpish as well as Gordon getting back to trying to solve the Wayne murders. Other than that though, this was undoubtedly a season highlight.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Review of Weekend (2011)

Written And Directed by Andrew Haigh

Russell: "You're obsessed with concrete. You're absolutely obsessed with it."
Glen: "But why would you want *concrete* when you can have whatever you want?"

Trust Film4 to provide a tonne of film centering on various relationships that would all be inevitably better than a certain movie in the cinemas and this little gem from 2011 is one of those LGBT movies that I had been wanting to see for a while now.

A simple story, starring both Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) and Chris New (Garrow's Law) as Russell and Glen, the movie focuses on both men meeting up in a nightclub on a Friday night and spending the rest of the weekend getting to know more and more about each other as the latter intends to leave for America to pursue his art.

It's an engrossing film with plenty of great character beats and pauses and some genuinely thrilling sex scenes between Cullen and New that have a certainly authenticity to them as the two of them comes to terms with who the other partner really is and what both men actually want out of their own lives. The comments on how both gay and straight people conduct themselves versus relationships is acutely thought out as well and rings more than a little bit true as well.

While the movie does end on a little bit of a downer, it's nice that the connection forged between Russell and Glen does feel genuine and the last moment where a memento of their first morning spent together is a nice way of ending this movie. At 97 minutes long, it's nicely fleshed out without feeling needlessly padded and as a one-off encounter, it's perfect too. Almost like real life in that way.

- Andrew Haigh who wrote and directed this movie also went on to co-create HBO series, Looking. This movie certainly feels quite similar to that show in so many ways.
- Apparently for the semen scenes, they used liquid soap and carrots. The coke both Russell and Glen snort is also glucose powder.
- It's nice that we got to see both Russell and Glen's friends and fellow co-workers, albeit briefly in the movie.
- I thought with the way Russell was cataloguing previous sex encounters and stories on his laptop that he might be trying to write some kind of erotic fiction or just a book.

Overall, a terrific movie. Definitely one of those little gems you have to watch (though probably not at 1.15am like I did last night) for yourself, Weekend is a tender, insightful, playful and without trying to be, a rather sexy movie too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x12: She's A Murderer

Well, that was another shocker of an episode. Seriously, I did not see that last scene coming. Then again, I don't think even Annalise did and she orchestrated the whole thing.

Written by Erika Harrison
Directed by Bill D'Elia

I Bet You The Boyfriend Gets Falsely Accused: The idea of Nate being a suspect in Sam's murder isn't shocking. I would've been shocked if no-one (including Hannah) hadn't considered him a possible killer. However what was unexpected that in an effort to save her students and herself, that Annalise got Frank to plant incriminating evidence to make it look like Nate might be a killer. Even for Annalise, that wasn't just cold. It was practically Arctic. Hopefully though Nate isn't actually sent down for Sam's death and that Annalise has a clever way of saving her boyfriend, otherwise she's the worst girlfriend ever seen on television. Perhaps Nate really should've asked his girlfriend if she had blood on her hands after all. Oh and the last scene where Annalise called her mama was another unexpected little moment.

Worriers: Aw, it looks like Connor and Annalise have lots in common, according to the latter. Out of all the kids and short of a gagging order, Connor really seems like a loose cannon (with Michaela not far behind) and made no bones about voicing his mistrust over Annalise multiple times throughout the episode, which Annalise managed to overhear. I liked that she got Connor to open up to her face about his doubts surrounding her and I liked that she actually played on the whole 'worrying/sleeping around' traits they mutually share but with three episodes left, I think it's going to take more than another pep talk to stop Connor from actually cracking. If Hannah doesn't figure things out soon, then Connor might end up dooming them all. Or Michaela. Or Bonnie.

Don't Let Them Ruin You: Bonnie should get royally humiliated in court more often. Hannah embarrassing the crap out of her suddenly resulted in Bonnie piecing things together about the scales being off the trophy and the Keating 5 (who aren't Asher) constantly in a state of panic and hushed whispers. She deduced that they actually killed Sam and that Annalise was helping to cover for them and wasted no time in confronting her boss over her discovery. Now this is a side to Bonnie I want to see a lot more of. She's better with a backbone and not as the weeping wreck we saw at the start of the episode. A great episode for Bonnie and one where she even cleared the air with Asher too.

More To This Than She's Letting On: And the Rudy storyline continues a little in this episode as between worrying about future jail time, working the least amount on the case of the week, Wes was also spending some of his time trying to learn more about the previous occupant of his humble abode, which kind of irritated Laurel and also revealed that Rebecca had actually called the cops on Rudy the night he left the place. I'm not sure where the show is going to go with this storyline but I wasn't surprised that Rebecca knew more than she told Wes last week. With three episode left to go, will this plot be wrapped up in the finale too (along with Lila's killer revealed) or will it bleed into the next season?

Too Many Scorsese Movies: Unlike the previous episode, the case of the week wasn't particularly a riveting one. In fact, I found myself mostly tuning out of it and the only things that were actually memorable were Asher's terrible mafia accent, Frank taking the piss out of him, Annalise's clients believing that she killed her husband/wasn't broken up about it and that was basically it. Oh and the fact that mafia folk were being stitched up by the government but outside of that, it was merely filler to all the craziness happening. Out of the twelve episodes that aired so far, I actually think this is the weakest case we've had, aside from the one with Ana Ortiz earlier in the season. However aside from that and the lack of Oliver, this was still an incredible episode to watch. Only three to go now.

Next week, Annalise's mother shows up. I'm not kidding.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - Episode 4 Recap/Review

Now this was more like it. A week where all three episodes were on fire and the result was some of the best television ever made. I'm not kidding. All three shows genuinely were that magnificent to watch this week.

Cucumber: It was date night this week as Henry, Lance, Cleo, Freddie and Dean all had planned nights outs of sexy hi jinks and various excursions, with each of them taking various interesting twists and turns. Maybe it's timely with the release of a certain movie, but I found Dean's kidnap role date with a couple of bears utterly amusing until he managed to inadvertently wreck their relationship and perhaps it was the reduced screen time, but this was the first I actually enjoyed Dean in either show. Maybe less is more with the character at times.

Then there was Cleo, who wanted to give her new vagina (in which we got quite a detailed rundown of her surgery in a way that didn't feel like it was trying to be edgy, so kudos there) a test drive with Brian (Ardal O'Hanlon) and while it didn't pan out so well, it led to a beautiful performance from Julie Hesmondhalgh while Freddie's hook up with Anna (Haruka Abe) led to some details about his sex life with men and the latter's growing annoyance with anal sex as well. All in all some great scenes throughout the episode.

However the best and worst dates plots were courtesy of Henry and Lance. If last week was the episode where I finally clicked with Freddie, then this week was the one where it happened with Henry for me. A genuine turnaround episode and easily Vincent Franklin's best performance yet, I loved the twists Henry's date with French spouting Rupert (Rufus Hound on great form) took and the conversations about sex and pornography Henry would later have with Leigh (Phaldut Sharma) led to some of the best moments the show has produced so far.

Last but not least, the Lance stuff. I get why he didn't want to have sex with Charlie (Adebayo Bolaji) and he even turned the poor guy gently but I am at a point now that much as I like Lance, I absolutely hate his scenes with Daniel. It's nothing against James Murray but the character just rubs me up the wrong way and seeing Lance fawn over him at least twice per episode is actually making me cringe. Other than that, this was easily the best and most character driven episode (maybe not with Dean) the series has done so far.

Banana: If there was an episode well timed, it was certainly this one. In recent times, the UK have now brought in laws which means that people who engage in revenge porn can be jailed for their actions and while this episode didn't tackle that bit, it did however provide a great look into a very thorny topic nonetheless.

Bethany Black was the star of this episode, having briefly appeared in the parent show as trans woman Helen - the victim of a jealous ex, who decided to share some of their intimate videos and pictures online when she spurned his attempts of friendship and as a result found herself being publicly humiliated by her former lover.

I personally think this episode was the best one that this series has offered so far, even managing to surpass Scotty (who we haven't seen now for a little bit) and Black herself was brilliant from start to finish. The one thing I truly loved about this episode is that while Helen had to deal with her co-workers not being that supportive, her own family really came through for her in the end. I seriously wanted to cry at the end of the episode. A wonderful half hour that should be watched by everyone.

Tofu: This episode dealt with the topic of coming out as gay, bisexual and trans and handled it well. It made me think back to my own experiences (I came out when I was 18 properly). I can't imagine actually coming out as publicly as one person - a video blogger did to his 23,000 subscribers but it does sort of highlight that things are changing since I've done it myself and I think this episode successfully highlighted that with the choice of people here, including Andrew Hayden-Smith, Jake Bass and Bethany Black, all of whom had their own interesting coming out stories here.

Next week, Lance might actually get in there with Daniel while we also meet up with drifting apart friends, Josh and Sophie.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Faking It Is A Watchable Teen Drama

I talked about this show before and while I saw bits and bobs of the first season, last night for UK viewers, the second season of MTV's Faking It started up and it was a fun reminder of why the show has a lot to offer.

Enemies Unite As Allies: In the opening episode for the second season they certain did. It seems that Lauren had an irritating boyfriend who was about to expose her secret, so Shane decided to help her out by kidnapping the guy, having him bound and gagged in Amy's garage and making it look like he was into BDSM. Not that it really worked anyways as Amy, Karma and Liam all learned that she was intersex anyways but it did seem like her and Shane reached an understanding of sorts in relation to their usual frenemy dynamic. I do think this show's depiction of Lauren's struggles are to be commended and it's nice that the awful boyfriend got his own just desserts as well.

But Friends Are Still Awesome: They are though, aren't they? I like the dynamic with straight Liam and gay best friend Shane and I also like that over the course of the show's first season (and despite the terrible premise initially used to promote the series), the show has actually shown that Amy is in love with her best friend, Karma and while the latter doesn't share the same feelings, I do like that Karma was keen to actually be there for her friend though. The whole Amy sleeping with Liam plot is one of those things the show could've avoided doing to be honest but hopefully it's something that's resolved early (especially as it seems Lauren is now aware of it) and the season itself actually sees Amy getting a girlfriend as well as more screen time for the irrepressible Shane as well for good measure. Oh and the more partial/actual nudity the writers want to do with Liam, the merrier too.

Faking It might not be the sort of show you find yourself desperately wanting to binge or setting the SkyPlanner for but for a teen show, it's actually fairly solid stuff and definitely better than MTV's usual outputs.

Season 2 of Faking It continues to air for UK viewers, Wednesdays at 9pm on MTV.