How To Get Away With Murder: A Show for the Lowest Common Denominator

I’ve now seen the first two episodes of How to Get Away with Murder, the first one because I was mildly curious, the second because I had to make sure the show was actually as bad as I thought it was. The second episode did not disappoint, it didn’t just match the idiocy of the first episode, it blew the first episode out of the water.

The show revolves around a group of law school students who decided they care more about their “criminal law” class, than they do about graduating law school, as they seemingly cut every other class they have to join their professor on daily field trips.

The professor, Annalise Keating, is a law school professor by day, and a criminal law attorney… also by day. How does she perform two full time jobs, you ask? Well she uses her criminal law class for trial preparation, killing two birds with one stone. Somehow these law students consistently come up with strategies for her active cases, though they don’t seem to actually learn criminal law in their criminal law class, and have no actual experience that would reasonably explain how they could come up with strategies that actual attorneys couldn’t figure out. I digress, back to the classroom.

Part of the interest I had in this show was to see how realistic it is compared to my personal experience in law school. Based on what I’ve seen so far, not only do the writers not know what goes on in a law school class, they do not understand the very function of a law school. Law school doesn’t teach you how to be a lawyer; I will guarantee you that there is not a single lawyer who would tell you that law school prepared them to be a lawyer. Law school is meant to teach you the very basic concepts of various fields of law, and to prepare you for taking your state’s bar. The latter is what’s most important for the school, as bar passage rate will determine a school’s ranking the following year. So, Professor Keating’s class falls so far into the realm of complete nonsense, that it’s impossible for me to take this show seriously.

What’s worse, the poor students have yet to learn anything about actual criminal law. Professor Keating introduces the class as “Criminal Law 100, or, how to get away with murder.” First, there is no such thing as criminal law 100. There is just criminal law, in fact, there is no graduate school that teaches any level 100 classes. Next, are they really only going to focus on homicide? What about every other part of criminal law? Finally, they’re not even learning about homicide. They’re learning about obscure trial strategies that have nothing to do with criminal law. The first lesson they learned was that the best defense to Professor Keating’s case is to: 1) discredit the witness, 2) provide the jury with a different suspect, and 3) bury the evidence. This isn’t criminal law, this isn’t even evidence. This is bullshit that will never be on the bar, and will ensure that her students fail. I honestly don’t know how this woman still has a job with the school, surely another professor from her department would have had to sit in on a class at some point and think to himself, “what the fuck is going on here?” This is far from the only problem with the show, there’s so much more.

The next issue is that every single character is unsympathetic and difficult to care about. Some characters are written poorly, others are performed poorly by the actors, but whatever it is, the characters are a catastrophe. The writers attempt to present Professor Keating as a strong, determined woman who’s good at her job and doesn’t take shit. What I actually get from the show is a self-absorbed, manipulative woman who’s overly and unnecessarily intense 24/7. Viola Davis does her best with what she’s given, but what she’s given is unsaveable crap.

The next big red mark is the male protagonist Wes Gibbons. This character is just a complete train wreck. I don’t know what kind of direction Alfred Enoch is getting but his performance is stiff and lacking in any realism or subtlety. It’s almost like he’s just reciting the words from a page and then raises or lowers his voice based on whether the page says that he should be angry or happy while he’s talking. To add to the poor acting, there is some shit writing going on, I honestly don’t know anyone who speaks the way the people on this show speak, including Wes Gibbons.

I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse, but all the characters suffer similar problems, it’s like they’re all just caricatures of stereotypical tv show law school students, instead of seemingly real people. In the first episode, Wes is walking down a classroom (which is way too big for a law school classroom) and hears one person say that he clerked for Chief Justice Roberts (bullshit, he’s a 1L and this isn’t Harvard, there’s no way in hell he got that job) and another student “nerdily” debating the merits of two famous lawyers (again this would never actually happen on the first day of a 1L class). These aren’t characters that attempt to resemble real people, these are characters that attempt to draw the attention of the lowest common denominator audience, by satisfying this audience’s precepts, instead of challenging the audience in any way.

The show attempts to create twists by introducing, you guessed it, a mystery murder that the students are trying to cover up. But there’s nothing about this plotline that is remotely interesting. The flash forward scenes that show the students attempting to hide the evidence is poorly cut and jumps all over the place. In the words of great Roger Ebert, “To the degree I do understand, I don’t care.”

The amount of issues I have with this show is almost limitless. It’s devoid of substance. It sacrifices plot and storytelling for forced drama. It has characters that no one could possibly care about. And, it feels like it’s made specifically to attract an audience of lowest common denominator instead of trying to make something great. I honestly find the show so bad that it’s almost enjoyably laughable. I find myself watching the show and laughing to myself about how silly the whole situation is. The hilarity might not be caught by all, as my brother tried to watch the show and only found it cringeworthy and dreadful, and couldn’t understand why I was laughing the entire time we watched the first episode.

I won’t tell you not to watch the show. Maybe, like me, you’ll find the show to be so bad that it’s hilarious, or maybe, like my brother, you’ll find it unwatchable. That’s for you to figure out, but I warn you there is nothing redeemable about this show.

Doctor Who Anniversary Special: Redemption Comes to the Doctor

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I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this episode did not go at all the way I expected, and I couldn’t be happier about it. When I heard Capaldi was cast as the next Doctor, I had very specific expectations of what that Doctor would come off as (Malcolm Tucker, anyone?). I pictured the story here ending with the inevitable destruction of the Time Lords and Daleks and the 11th Doctor being brought back to a dark mental state as he must once again relive the horrors of the decision he made so long ago. But, that’s not at all the way this went.

We start off being acquainted to Clara’s new life in London as a school teacher, but not all things change as she runs to the Doctor the moment he calls for her. No sooner do they plan their next trip than the entire TARDIS is kidnapped by UNIT and brought to the museum where there is a message and a new mystery waiting for the Doctor.

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At the same time, we see the events that unfold in the last moments of the time war. The War Doctor (John Hurt) has decided that he cannot abide the violence of the time war anymore and steals the last forbidden weapon of the Time Lords in order to put an end to the war. The final weapon is a galaxy eater, and is so advanced it has taken on a consciousness of itself and judges the user of the device.  Meanwhile, the 10th Doctor finds himself in medieval England courting Elizabeth I, while trying to uncover the identity of a shapeshifting alien who may or may not have taken the shape of the queen.

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Events are set in motion that put the three Doctors together in medieval England, at which point, the War Doctor reminds the other two that the screw drivers are scientific instruments, not water pistols and it makes no sense to point them like weapons. The three eventually team up to save the world from the invasion of the shape shifting aliens, while simultaneously showing the War Doctor what he becomes if he decides to use the device. In Doctor Who fashion, the Doctors manage to come up with an idea to negotiate a truce between the aliens and the humans, and to re-write their own history so that the War Doctor never detonates the device. Instead, in a moment of wonderful nostalgia, all 13 Doctors (yes, 13!) surround Gallifrey in their TARDISs and displace Gallifrey to save it from annihilation by the Daleks. Seeing all the doctors make their way onto the screen one by one, and the quickest of shots of the next doctor, brought a joyful tear to my eye.

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So the Doctors manage to change the course of events for Gallifrey and save the Doctor from the unspeakable act that has haunted him for centuries. Though, because of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, the War Doctor, the 9th, and the 10th will not remember the change in history, and it is only the 11th Doctor who becomes saved from the guilt of what no longer happened. The true genius of the decision to take the episode in this direction is how it ties in with the casting of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor. As I said above, I originally figured he would come out as a darker Doctor who is once again plagued by the decision he had to make. But no, it seems that Capaldi’s Doctor can once again be a more mature Doctor, one who isn’t afraid to show his age and intelligence again, because he is no longer guilty of what he did. This my whovian friends, is an adventure I cannot wait to be a part of, but for that we must wait until the Christmas Special. I hope all of you enjoyed the special as much as I did, because it was something truly wonderful. Or, to put it more simply, as the 9th Doctor would say incessantly, “FANTASTIC!”

Ambassadors: A New Side of Mitchell and Webb

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Today we’re going to take a trip across the pond to look at a new show from two of my favorite comedic duos: David Mitchell and Robert Webb. I’m telling you right off the bat that I’m biased towards the success of this show and went into the first two episodes hoping I’d like it. Some of you might know Mitchell and Webb from their Mitchell and Webb sketch comedy show (here’s a peak). And, of course, they’re the minds behind the genius that is Peep Show. Also, let us not forget that Mitchell is part of what might be the best panel show in Britain: Would I Lie to You?

So you can imagine how excited I was to be getting new material from these guys, yet, deep down, I maintained the worry that they would continue their dynamic from Peep Show and have Mitchell be the smart, yet anti-social loser, while Robert plays the lovable idiot. After two episodes, I’m happy to report that this does not seem to be the case. Their characters so far have actually been vastly different from what I’ve gotten used to, and yet, there’s still a hint of familiarity there for long time fans to cling to.

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The Ambassador

David Mitchell plays Keith Davis, the british ambassador to a fictitious central asian country called Tazbekistan, an islamic nation where, for some reason, they speak russian (kudos to the show for at least attempting to get everyone to speak real russian instead of just gibberish). Keith Davis is a man who has to make complicated decisions, and will reluctantly do the moral thing over the politically advantageous thing. In the first episode we see a confrontation between him and Neil Tilly, his right hand man, who accuses him of making decisions for his own political gain over what is actually right, and shuts Neil down pretty hard… sort of. Similar to Mitchell’s character Mark on Peep show, we see the ambassador with an ability to be conniving when he needs to be, but that’s where the similarity pretty much ends. Unlike Mark, Keith is kind and loving with his family, and actually cares about his job and the people around him. Having said that, he does have that tinge of darkness to him. In the first few minutes of the show, he’s on a hunting trip with the right hand man of Tazbekistan’s President and accidentally kills an ibex, the national animal of Tazbekistan. He proceeds to pay off his hunting partner and blame the french ambassador for the death, with whom he is competing with for a helicopter contract.

We also see the selfless side form him (SPOILERS) at the end of the episode. He finally wins favor with the president, and uses his favor to free a british political prisoner who would be executed for his crimes, thus losing out on the helicopter contract to the french and getting berated by his boss. This is the kind of choice Mark would have never made unless there was some way for him to also take advantage of the decision. We also see that Keith is warm and loving with his wife and daughter, something that is not at all found in Mark.

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Neil Tilly

Robert Webb, plays Neil Tilly, Keith’s right hand man in the embassy. Neil as a character is even more different from Jeremy, than Keith is from Mark. Neil is presented to us as the moral guide for Keith, constantly pushing keith to make the human rights decisions over the politically advantageous decisions. He also, inexplicably loves living and working in Tazbekistan, a country that mostly every other visitor hates with a passion. We also find out early on that he is being blackmailed by an unnamed party who are threatening to send photos to his boss that show him paying someone off. In exchange for keeping the photos from his boss’ hands so that he can remain in Tazbekistan, Neil is forced to hand over whatever limited amount of state secrets he has access to. Again we have a character that is far more complicated than Webb’s previous character. On the one hand, he pushes Keith to save the prisoner’s life over getting the helicopter contract, yet on the other he divulges secrets to his blackmailer so that he can stay in the country. We also still have the wonderful chemistry between Webb’s and Mitchell’s characters that we’ve grown used to over the years. Webb and Mitchell play off each other perfectly, in a way that could only be done by two people who have been around each other so long. The scenes where just the two of them are dealing with each other might be some of the more golden moments on the show.

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The rest of the cast is pretty strong too, but there are a few too many for each to get their own section. There’s the cook, who is perpetually determined to only make pilaf and other tazbeki food over anything british. Isabella is an embassy employee who works under Keith, but her intelligence and drive makes her confrontational with Keith as she tries to circumvent him whenever she can. Natalia is a third employee at the embassy, and a tazbeki native who helps organize events and handles the social aspects of the embassy’s dealings. She’s a bit naive to the intentions of other brits who visit the country, but strong enough to deal with them when she figures out what they want from her. The best supporting character however, might be the tazbeki president’s right hand man, Jamatt. He clearly comes off as the brains behind the tazbeki operation, and winning favor with him is gaining favor with the president. He too likes to walk the fine line between personal gain and gain for his nation. He’ll take a bribe on something that’s not so serious, then present faux rage for the “escape” of a prisoner who the country is better off without anyway. Finally, the President himself is a pretty great character. In public he comes off as the generic powerful military President, complete with all the machoism that comes with it. And yet, in moments of privacy and, more importantly, drunkenness, he will open up and be more serious about the issues ailing his country. Overall, Ambassadors has put together a perfect ensemble and is different enough from other political satires that it still feels fresh. I highly recommend people watch it, but it might be a bit difficult to do for people outside the UK. Hopefully my non-UK readers will find a way to watch it, because it’s a truly fun show.

For now though, here’s a small clip for your entertainment.

Arrow is the Most Confusing Show on TV

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Before you all jump on me, I need to clarify. When I say this show is confusing, I don’t mean because of its complexity. I’m not even remotely saying this is the second coming of Lost, in fact the show is just the opposite: pretty straight forward with a few, mostly predictable twists. No, when I say this show is confusing, what I mean is that I can’t figure out why I’m still watching it.

I thought I would’ve finished with the show so early on, and yet every week I find myself still watching, and I can’t figure out why. The acting is the epitome of what I expect from The CW. The casting clearly emphasized looks over actual acting ability, just like every other CW show, including its other DC adaptation, Smallville. One doesn’t have to look further than the protagonist to know what I’m referring to. Stephen Amell was definitely picked for the role because of his model-like looks and his Adonis physique, which the show writers remind us of in every episode by throwing in a scene of Ollie working out topless. He’s basically a mobile action figure with movable joints and kung-fu grip. His acting though is way below par. It’s almost like the guy has only 3 preset facial expressions: (1) the slight smirk, (2): the blank stare, and (3) the super hero scowl. Mr. Potato Head can produce more emotions on his face than this guy. I don’t want to keep slamming Amell, because he’s by no means the only one. With a very few exceptions (John Barrowman and Emily Bett Rickards to name two) all the actors are pretty much in the same boat. This especially applies to the main cast’s biggest addition  Colton Haynes (playing Roy Harper) who’s so stiff and bad that he could give Hayden Christensen a run for his money on worst performances. And yet I still watch the show…

Another thing that would normally put me off on a show is the writing, and this show gets pretty offensive with what it considers quality writing. Some of the dialogue is truly cringeworthy, and the few times when it’s not, the writers make it so heavy handed that it ruins whatever quality the scene had. The first example that comes to mind is the conversation in S2E02 between Ollie and Felicity Smoak. Ollie brings her up to his floor in his company and makes her his assistant, which she disapproves of. He explains that he can’t go down 18 floors every time he needs to discuss with her how they’ll be spending their nights and she delivers a pretty good line of dialogue saying, “And I love spending the night with you…” Obviously she meant spending the night helping him be Arrow, but the wording clearly comes out wrong, and it’s a great little joke. Then they go and ruin it by making the joke more obvious and making Felicity countdown from 3 before continuing the conversation. Why couldn’t they just have her say the line, pause for silence with an embarrassed look, and then continue the conversation. Instead, they have her verbally acknowledge the mistake she made and give us the play by play of her recovering from the faux pas. This is just one example of a countless number of similar instances, and yet I keep watching through the cringe.

I think I’ve narrowed down my reason for watching to a couple things. The first is there aren’t many superhero live action tv shows, so it’s fun for fanboys to have something, even if it’s not the best something they could have. I mean, if someone asked me to name my favorite superhero shows, I’m pretty sure I could rattle off 10 animated shows before I mention a single live action show that I would consider to be on the same level of quality (Batman: TAS for the win). Seriously, what have we had in the last two decades? Off hand, I can think of: Season 1 of Heroes (and that’s a show about superheroes, and not a comic book adaptation of a known superhero), The Tick (a show that died too soon RIP), Lois and Clark (had its issues but certainly watchable), Smallville, and that’s pretty much all I can think of (I think there was a Blade series too, but come on, who even watched that). So I think the show gives comic book fans an extra platform to enjoy their favorite characters from, so the sins of the show are forgiven somewhat.

The other thing that makes the show watchable is that the overall story-arc isn’t really that bad, it’s actually, dare I say, kind of good. It helps the show that they have a solid preexisting storyline to work off of, and of course they add a bit of their own crap to add some novelty to the show. Green Arrow’s origin story is actually a pretty good one, and easy enough to film for tv. Rich boy gets stuck on an island where a ton of bad shit happens to him. Rich boy returns to his home town a changed man and decides to fight crime with a bow and non-lethal arrows. From there, the writers just stretch it out, adding interesting plot lines to what happens on the island (Deathstroke trained Green Arrow, WHAAAA?). And they’ve really stretched out Ollie’s evolution into Arrow, extending now into the second season in which he only recently decided to change his alias from The Hood to Arrow, and the subsequent decision to not kill anymore. So you have that, and then you get a bunch of cameos of other characters in the DC universe: Deathstroke (as noted above), Huntress, and (soon enough) The Flash. Finally, the story has shown a slight willingness to kill of quasi-important characters. Sure we’re never going to see Ollie die, or any of his assistants, and probably no one else form his family, but the show has had some interesting deaths that I won’t divulge.

Overall, I’m still confused by the show. For me, the cons of the show clearly outweigh the pros. And it’s not even one of those shows that one would consider to be so bad that it’s good (Airplane Repo on Discovery, anyone?). It’s certainly not a show that I ever recommend to people when they ask me what shows they should start, but it’s also not one of those shows that I vehemently disapprove of when someone says they watch it. I honestly can’t explain why I’m still sitting through it week to week, and this post is becoming an anomaly as well in that I’m neither recommending people watch the show nor telling people not to. Watch it if you want, I guess, but all I can do is wonder why I’m still invested in it (and I am) and also curious as to how many people are in the same boat as me. I really don’t think I’m the only one.

DOCTOR WHO IS FINALLY BACK!

ImageI’m so excited for the return of Doctor Who that I’m not even going to bother to think of a clever title for this post. And right off the bat, I have to say I’m so happy they brought back using the face of the current doctor in the title sequence. Let’s face it, we all start to get a little tired of what was basically the same exact intro for the last six years. They actually changed it starting with the Christmas special (the one that reintroduce Clara Oswald) but I never wrote anything about that one so I’ll just relate my joy to you now.

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Next, I’m going to warn you now that there be spoilers for the rest of this post. I love what they’re doing with Clara so far. Not so much the overall theme that there is something weird about her life that The Doctor needs her to be his companion so he can figure her out (we got enough of that between River Song and Amy Pond already, I think) but the fact that she’s the best combination of the above mentioned characters. She’s a regular person like Amy Pond, but thanks to the odd set of events that occurred to her in this episode, she’s become a computer savvy genius. So we have the commonality and sassiness of Amy Pond, mixed with the wit and intelligence of River Song.  I also can’t begin to say how perfect Jenna-Louise Coleman’s chemistry is with Matt Smith. Her flirtatious nature and quick wit works perfectly to counter Matt Smith’s quirkiness and boy-like charm. The only thing that would make this better would be reintroducing Strax to the situation (“Sir, please don’t discuss my reproductive cycle with enemy girls!”).

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Anyone who watches the episode can see how perfect their chemistry is from their first interaction over the phone. Just in the way Clara asks her question about the internet, we get a perfect sample of her playfulness. Most people would call IT and complain that they can’t seem to connect to their wifi. But not Clara, what does she say? “Ah, hello, I can’t find the internet. It’s gone, the internet. I can’t find it anywhere. Where is it?” As if the internet is an actual object that a complete stranger on the phone can help her locate. This is then only matched by the look of shock and excitement in The Doctor’s face as he hears her recite “run you clever boy and remember” in an attempt to remember the password to the stupid wifi. Their flirtatious chemistry continues  through the entire episode, from arguing over who can hack the enemy’s computers better, to Clara questioning whether The Doctor pitches the same line to everyone he wants to get into his “snog box” (I’m sorry Sexy, I don’t know why Clara felt the need to insult you like that). I can honestly say I’m more excited to see Clara interact more with The Doctor than I am to find out her secret. Can’t wait for next week to get here!

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To top it all off, we get the return of a potentially great villain that was introduced during the Christmas Special: The Great Intelligence, who happens to be the mastermind behind all the wifi villainy of this particular episode. Just rethinking about the episode gives me frightful thoughts of what being on the internet right now might do to me. He seemed a great character and it’s good to see that his story is not yet over.

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On a final note, BBC announced that Tennant, Piper, and John Hurt will all be involved in the 50 year anniversary special for Doctor Who, so Who fans have even more to look forward to this season. GERONIMO!

Revolution: A Turnover on Fourth Down

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I’ve got a thing for the epic NBC dramas. I watched all of Heroes, even after the show completely fell apart and everyone else abandoned ship. And I watched all of Kings, a show that might have succeeded if it weren’t for the writer’s strike. So when the ads started popping up for Revolution, I naturally got excited, thinking I might get something as epic as the first season of Heroes (say what you will about the rest of the show, season 1 was amazing). So when that first monday night rolled around I excitedly plopped down in front of the tv and started to watch… and it didn’t stick. But I didn’t give up, I figured I’d give it the old “three strikes” try and watch a couple more episodes to get a feel for it before I cast it aside. But episode three went by, and I still wasn’t hooked, but the preview for next week looked promising, so I changed sports to football and decided I’ll give the show four downs instead of three strikes. After last night’s fourth episode however, I just can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing compelling me to watch the show any further, also I can’t think of another sports analogy that would give the show more than four chances.

Cliche after cliche after cliche

Maybe AMC and HBO have spoiled me as far as what I can expect from a drama series, but the cliched feel to Revolution is what’s most disappointing to me. There are too many to count, so let’s just look at some of the big ones from the last few weeks.

Forbidden Relationship

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Combine Romeo and Juliet with a non-vampire non-werewolf version of Twilight and you basically have the generic developing relationship Revolution between Charlie and Nate, or not Nate, who the fuck knows or cares. Two people have learn to have feelings for each other though they should be each other’s natural enemies, and the woman finds herself conflicted as the two male characters she cares about keep wanting to kill each other. I’ve always complained that Romeo and Juliet really doesn’t make sense as a love story as the two characters were 13 and 12 and only knew each other for three days, yet that’s still more believable than the nonsense going on here. She meets the good looking guy who has somehow maintained a perfectly quaffed head of hair (more on that later), he pretends to like her to get close to her uncle, betrays her, rats her friends and family out to the militia who want to kill and capture them, and yet they still care about each other. Obviously I don’t even have to watch another episode to know what happens from here. The guy cares for her, she’ll learn to care for him, his relationship with the militia will make him conflicted during different points on the show and he’ll have to make the decision of whether he’s more loyal to her or the militia. He’ll slip up a couple times early on, but eventually he’ll choose her. “What a great twist!” will say no one ever.

The rogue was once the villain

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Everything, well close to everything about uncle Miles is something that could come out of a book entitled “Loner with Redemption Arc and a Heart of Gold for Dummies”. He’s gone through every cliched twist you’d expect his character to go through so far. First it’s “I don’t know your uncle, I’m just an ignorant barkeep who minds my own business,” which very quickly changed to “Just kidding, I’m your uncle and I’ll naturally trust you because you claim to be my niece, and I’ll reluctantly join your scooby gang even though I know it’ll make everything worse for both of us.” That makes him quickly devolve from mysteriously good fighter and cold-blooded killer to “I’ll reluctantly accept Charlie as my external compass even though I know much more about the world than her, and her decisions will inevitably come back to hurt us in the end. So even though I know I should kill this guy so he doesn’t come back for us, I’m going to listen to a teenage girl who has no worldly or military experience.” Next we get, “I’m actually mostly responsible for everything that’s happening, but I refuse to talk about it, because god forbid something in my past might reveal something helpful to everyone.” And finally, this last episode gave us “I’m the one who secretly took your mom from you, but only the audience will know until there’s a big reveal, followed by an argument in which I’ll rationalize the decision as a hard, yet correct decision that you’ll eventually agree with (these are actually the next two cliches).” Take every rogue, loner, or vigilante out of pop culture, pull out their most generic traits, and you have something closely resembling Miles.

Surprise! Mom’s not dead, she just abandoned you

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I’ll make this one quick, because this was such an expected twist that it doesn’t deserve much comment. Episode 1, mother is dead, father is killed, brother is taken, uncle is found, and they’re chasing after the brother. Episode 2, mom is mysteriously alive, and she’s with the main villain dun dun dun. Oh but wait, she’s not with him voluntarily, so that’s okay. Episode 4, MILES IS THE ONE WHO TOOK HER OMG NO WAY I WONDER WHY HE DID IT! Oh right, because he used to be in charge of the fucking militia, and is obviously partially responsible for most of their actions up until his departure. I mean come on, even if they didn’t show Miles in that last scene taking the mother, we already know that he was second in command of the Monroe Militia, he’s obviously responsible whether or not they show him do his dramatically revealing turn to face her/the camera. Or that Danny saved Captain Neville from being crushed. It would’ve been so much better if the captain said “what would your father do, your father wouldn’t leave me here to die.” and Danny would respond, “He wouldn’t, but I’m not my father,” and just left him there. But no, we have to go with whatever’s most obvious.

Convenient Flash Backs

We remember this from Lost all too well. Current events reach a dramatic point, and right before the climax, boom, flash back to something that is somehow relevant and might conveniently fill what otherwise would be a plot hole. Again, it’s not even worth talking about, it’s just bad direction. In episode 3, Miles knows the militia commander coming after them, so let’s flashback and explain that he’s one of the founders of the militia. Miles knows Monroe, so let’s flash back and have Monroe reveal himself as the car passenger by showing the “M” mark on his forearm.

There are so many more cliches but you guys get the picture. There’s the asthma that only conveniently kicks up when the brother needs to be hindered in some way. There’s the Heroes-style secret villain lurking in the background (Sylar) who knows more than the other characters and will make a dramatic entrance at one point forcing the scooby gang to join up with the militia in order to stop the secret villain. Anyway, I’m done with cliches, let’s move on.

The Writing

The writing ranges from average to truly horrible on the show. The dialogue is never great, and the cast isn’t strong enough to carry the dialogue the way it is. Even when you expect good acting, it just doesn’t come through, which we see most clearly in the interactions between Rachel and Sebastian. We know Elizabeth MItchell from Lost so we hope to expect some level of acting ability from her, but her talents aren’t enough to redeem the poor writing. Perfect example is in episode 2, when we see her for the first time at the end. The door to Rachel’s room opens, clearly on its own as Sebastian’s arms are behind his back. Sebastian comes in and says “Rachel, they treating you well? I told them anything you want. Wine? Ice?” They start off coyly (I’m using the term loosely) acting like she’s a guest who he hasn’t seen in a long time, but no she’s his prisoner. From episode 4 we know she’s been his prisoner for a good majority of the time since the power went out, Sebastian obviously visits her on a regular basis to try to get the information he needs out of her. So to have that silly banter in the beginning is just ridiculous, realistically serving no other purpose than to try to confuse the audience one last time before we know whether she’s there volitionally or not. We see bad writing like this again in the latest episode in the scene between them. This time he manages to open the door by himself. She asks him what he wants. He says, “Rachel as if you don’t know, as if you haven’t known what I’ve always wanted.” She responds, “We really have to play this game?” Her response really doesn’t make any sense, it’s not a game, it’s a point of fact, he’s saying he’s there because he wants the same thing he always wants when he comes over: the information. Having her reply with “We really have to play this game?” is the writer’s attempt at what I guess passes for wit on this show. We then have what looks like a torture expert come in and apologize in advance as he pulls out his various torture tools, yet she doesn’t have a single mark on her face the next time we see her.

Or we can look at the the writing in the captured Charlie scene, I’m picking on episode 4 because it’s freshest in my mind, but it’s the same in all the episodes so far.

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So, Charlie and her rough riders killed one of this guy’s dogs. So he hunts them down, traps them in a diner, sneaks into the diner, pulls her out of the diner, with no one remaining in the diner being able to follow a guy who’s carrying someone, and evading Miles both coming in and going out. So Charlie is tied to a chair, with a crossbow aimed at her head and tied to the door, set to go off if the door opens, and the guy claims he’s doing all this because they would kill him first if they had the chance. There’s absolutely nothing about the scenario that makes any sense. First, they have no idea where he lives, if he’s afraid they’re going to kill him, why would a preeminent strike make more sense than just staying indoor until they pass. Second, the crossbow scenario doesn’t make sense. Is the crossbow there to kill her as vengeance in case they kill him first? Is it there as a warning for no one to enter? If the former, then the crossbow should be aimed at her chest, bending her head to the side would have probably done just as easy a job of saving her than ripping the chair off the bolts enough to move to the side. If it’s to preempt her friends from coming in as a warning, then how the fuck would they know not to come in. There are numerous instances like this that make no logical sense or are just surrounded by poor writing, I won’t burden you with the rest of them.

Miscellaneous issues

There are a bunch of other little tid bit issues I have with the show. Like, if we’re in a post-apocalyptic world, how does everyone have the time and products necessary to be so perfectly made up and have such perfect hair. Charlie and her crew have been trekking through the wilderness for days, yet the women still have perfect hair and make up, clothes are still clean; they want us to accept the reality of this world, but the characters don’t adhere to the rules of that reality, it’s ridiculous. There’s some pretty bad casting going on. With the exception of Giancarlo Esposito, none of the main cast can really carry this show, and Esposito can’t do it on his own, the show is just too bad for that to happen.

Point being, I gave this show more than a fair shot, and it flat out fails. The show does nothing but leave me saddened that I’ve wasted 4 hours of my life watching it, but better to have learned late than never. If you were wondering whether to watch, then just move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Hello, I’m the Doctor! – Doctor Who Series 7 Premiere

It feels like it’s been forever since Series 6 ended; the craving for new episodes made worse with each passing day. It got especially bad once the previews for the new series started popping up all of the internet. It was hard, keeping myself satisfied by re-watching old episodes was working less and less. By finally I was able to feed my addiction with the Series 7 premiere, and it did not disappoint.

Save…Us. SAVE US!

Man does Moffat know how to start off a series, and started it off big this time. Within the first five minutes, the Doctor Who universe takes us back to Skaro and gives us the Dalek Parliament, complete with every single dalek form that we’ve seen recently (including some of the rainbow colored ones…mistakes were made). So we have the gang back together, trapped on a dalek ship, and only alive because for once the daleks have something on their mind besides killing the Doctor. The gang now has their first assignment for the series: go down to the Dalek Asylum (a planet where crazy daleks are dumped) and turn the force field back on so the crazies don’t escape and kill all the “sane” daleks (though, to my dismay, we had no cameo appearance from the magnificent dalek Caan, I miss you, you little bugger). And of course, in Doctor Who fashion, what follows is some zany action, some cleverness, and a lot of running.

Amy and Rory

I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to go in this direction, but once again Amy and Rory find themselves in relationship-related trouble. This time, they’re filing for divorce. I love them as companions but this Ross and Rachel on again off again relationship is starting to feel a bit forced (I immediately regret making this reference and apologize to everyone. I’m disgusted with myself right now). First she forgets she loves him, then she forgets he exists, then he has to wait around for 2000 years, then time stops and she forgets him again, and now she dumps him. Poor guy just can’t catch a break. So they’re broken up, and it turns out Amy gave Rory up because she thinks he wants kids, but after Demon’s Run she doesn’t. Two minute of conversation later, while the Doctor is saving everyone, and they’re back together and happy again. One would think that if they found the time in a life threatening situation to sort out their issues, they could have done it before the Doctor showed up. Like I said, it felt like a forced, and possibly unneeded plot point. But no matter, they’re back together.

On the plus side, Whovians may remember that Series 6 established that Amy became a model during the time that the Doctor was traveling by himself, and it was fun to see them bring that back for us in the first Amy scene where she’s posing for photos. Also fun to see an always appreciated Night of the Hunter reference (though they marked her hands wrong).

Also, Amy once again starts to/actually does take the form of the enemy. In Series 5, Prisoner 0 takes her subconscious, then she almost became a weeping angel when it ingrained itself in her eye, then she’s taken by the vampire fish people to be made into one of them, then her mind is used to set up the Pandorica scene. In Series 6 it turns out that up until Demon’s Run, she was actually just a doppelgänger made of “the flesh.” And now she almost turns into a dalek clone; she just can’t stay out of trouble, can she?

Oswin (major spoilers below)

Oswin may have been the brightest moment of the episode, which is saying a lot considering I loved the episode. She’s a tech savvy girl who crash landed on the Dalek Asylum and has spent the last year causing trouble for the daleks, while stuck in her little space ship. She’s clever, she’s pretty, she’s cheeky, and she can flirt with the best of them, as both Rory and the Doctor have the pleasure of finding out. The gang’s mission now b ecomes two-fold: turn the forcefield back on, and save the girl, all without getting killed by the daleks. As the episode progresses, questions start popping up of how she’s been able to survive this long in her little ship with minimal to no supplies. And, as smart as she is, the doctor finds it hard to believe that she’s been able to hack into the dalek system so easily. The devastating moment comes at the end when the Doctor gets to the bottom of the situation. The reason she’s survived this long, and can mess with the daleks so easily, is because those bastards made her a dalek. “Is it real to you?” The Doctor asks her, “It’s a dream. You dreamed it for yourself because the truth was too terrible.” And then we see what they’ve really done with her.

The cockpit she thought she was in, was the dalek body the whole time. They didn’t just turn her into a dalek clone, like what was happening to Amy, they took her mind and transplanted it into a dalek shell. This doesn’t get her down though, sometimes the facts just don’t really tell the truth; her body may be dalek, but her mind was still human, and this is how she decides to go out. “I am Oswin Oswald, I fought the daleks, and I AM human. Remember me.” She then gives the order that the Doctor loves to give so often, and tells him to run back to the teleporter as the Asylum explodes around him. She finished off with one last favor to the Doctor and erased his existence from the memory of all daleks.

What a bittersweet ending to the Series Premiere. We lose Oswin, but then again, she wasn’t really there at all. The Ponds are back together with their marital issues out of the way, and, most importantly, Doctor Who is back on tv, though I find it a cruel punishment to make me wait a full week for the next episode. It feels so good to be back in the Whoniverse, and I can’t wait for the rest of the series! Especially because we’re all still waiting for Dorian’s prophecy to come true, “silence must fall when the question is asked.”