Friday, September 30, 2016

My Review of Empire's 3x02: "Sin That Amend"

Written by Cherien Dabis & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Craig Brewer

Jamal: "That man was being so polite."
Cookie: "I don't trust polite people, stupid."

I have to admit that last week's episode didn't really pull me in and wasn't exactly the show at it's best but this episode certainly was a step in the right direction.

First of all, the best moment this week was seeing Jamal, Andre and Hakeem all together in one scene. Okay, that's hardly unusual but the reason why the scene stood out more so this week was because all three of them acknowledge their current problems and promise among themselves to get themselves back together. Then the episode ended on that note.

Seeing Andre getting arrested by two asshole cops at the end of this episode was something I could do without. Given the current political climate, I can see why the writers went with this storyline though and given that Andre was doing was just simply collecting the rest of his things from his old home made it even tougher to watch.

Another brilliant moment for Andre this week though was his scene with Cookie. Cookie's never been able to deal with his bipolar (despite her best attempts at trying) but I loved seeing her trying to reach out to him this week, even if her mind was elsewhere.

Cookie had something of a balancing act this week. When she wasn't resisting Lucious's OTT attempts of wooing her back (and going over past history in flashbacks), she was also trying to get Jamal back on track with his music and butting heads with friendly politician, Angelo (Taye Diggs), who by the end of the episode even managed to rub Lucious up the wrong way as well.

I do like that Cookie is still standing her ground with Lucious, even though I am seriously loving the flashbacks between the two of them. Their history continues to be such a compelling part of the show, even if Cookie is better off not letting Lucious back into her life and with Angelo around, Lucious will probably have another obstacle in his mission to get Cookie back too.

- It's pretty obvious the show plans to go somewhere with Hakeem/Nessa too as they've set Shyne up as an obstacle for them. I kind of love that Anika is afraid of Leah as well. We also heard Rhonda and Becky could be on the way out if she listens to her boyfriend.
- Tariq's webcam in the bear plot came to an abrupt end. I did like his inclusion in the Lucious/Cookie flashbacks. Angelo is also the new Berry too, right?
- Standout music in this one was Hakeem/Nessa's Remember My Name and Biz Markie's Just A Friend.
- Chronology, not long from where Light Into Darkness left off.

This was a far better episode than last week's opening one. Sin That Amend had some glorious character interactions, better music and the flashbacks were superb. Good one, show.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Review of American Horror Story: Roanoke: Chapter 3

Written by James Wong
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Matt: "What did you do?"
Shelby: "I don't know what you're talking about."

After last week's non event of an episode, this one finally cranked things up a notch with a nice backstory and a gory death to boot, along with our protagonists being terribly divided with each other towards the end.

First of all - the death. Nope, it wasn't Flora who is very much alive and with Priscilla but it was of course, her father Mason. Mason is one of those character who was obviously going to die but even I'm surprised with how quickly he was dispatched of here and in the manner too. His death while not shown onscreen was certainly gory and the episode ended up with Lee predictably arrested for the deed she probably did not commit.

The less predictable aspect was the fact that Shelby called the police on her sister in law but after seeing her husband have sex with feral witch Gaga in the woods probably influenced her decision to rat out Lee. Seeing Shelby with a bit of a nasty side was certainly a shock but after the underwhelming previous episode, things certainly jolted here.

We finally got a backstory for Kathy Bates menacing Colony leader - Thomasin White, also known as the Butcher and wife of John White. It seems her people and son (Wes Bently's Ambrose White) grew tired of her poor leadership and decided to send her to the woods to starve to death, only for Enchantress 2.0, I mean Gaga to feed her a heart and claim her soul, resulting in Thomasin coming back stronger and more malicious than ever.

Bates simply works in the villain role and strange accent aside, delivered here with more substantial dialogue and stuff. Her confrontations in this episode with Shelby, Matt, Lee and Leslie Jordan's medium, Cricket (that hair though) were certainly a highlight as was Cricket himself. While I do find that medium types like him can be objectionable people in some regards, the character certainly brightened up some scenes when he wasn't filling in Thomasin's backstory and confirming that Flora is alive too.

The narration scenes in this episode seemed to exposing some more cracks between our three heroes. With Lee, she certainly tensed up a lot when recalling the events and thanks to the interviewer of the piece, we also learned that she had another daughter named Emily that she lost as well.

- Although we didn't see him onscreen, Cheyenne Jackson was the one interviewing Shelby/Matt/Lee this week. Still have yet to see Evan Peters and Finn Wittrock and get a title sequence.
- The word 'Croatoan' got bandied about this week but it didn't have that much effect though.
- Some Coven vibes were felt from this one as well with Gaga's character and Thomasin having to wear that head piece as punishment.
- Apparently the sixth episode will turn this season on it's head, but I'm guessing the shock will be that our narrators aren't so reliable.

Chapter 3 certainly improved on things a little. After last week's non event, this episode managed to up the creepy content, give us some actual answers and show us other sides to our heroes as well. Not to mention that Kathy Bates makes for an excellent villain of the piece.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Review of Gotham's 3x02: "Burn The Witch"

Written by Ken Woodruff
Directed by Danny Cannon

Ivy (to stranger): "Something happened. I changed. Grew. I'm different, inside and out."

Last week saw the somewhat 'death' of Ivy Pepper and departure of Clare Foley from the role and this week saw the origin of Poison Ivy and the debut of Maggie Geha in the role. However, despite this week's episode title being about another prominent female character and the focus being on that character, it was the newly changed Ivy that generated the most attention and interestingly so.

Emerging from the waters, a little scattered brained at first, Ivy went to a random stranger's house who made the mistake of trying to help by her. Said stranger asks her a few necessary questions, comments on her beauty (which surprises Ivy) but makes the cardinal error of throwing away a withering plant, which later becomes the very thing that Ivy killed said bloke with.

I know the changing of actresses and ageing the character has been something of a divisive thing but to be honest as much as I'll miss Foley in the role, I do think Maggie Geha is off to a promising start. If the show can show a little restraint and not go overkill on the temptress angle with Ivy, then there's some real potential here to do something really interesting with the character.

How Ivy will go on to interact with the rest of the characters now, I'm not sure. I know there's an upcoming plot with Bruce we could all do without but other than that, I do wonder will she cross paths with the likes of Oswald, Nygma, Barbara and Tabitha as well as Selina once again. Either way, I'm interested to see where the show will now go with the character.

As for the main plot itself, once again both Gordon and Valerie worked together in order to 'catch' Fish, only this time around, it was Valerie who kind of got the better with Jim. I did notice that like with Leslie back in the second half of the first season, the writers just threw Gordon and Valerie together. Speaking of Leslie, she popped up right at the end just at the very moment when Gordon decided to move as is often the case with television shows these days and romantic entanglements.

Getting back to Fish though, I guess it's a good thing the episode didn't kill her off. It would've been the easiest thing to do but ultimately would've made her return completely pointless to boot. That being said, Oswald did come close to taking her out before she managed to manipulate him (without using her powers). Fish also made off with Hugo Strange when she wasn't holding Bullock hostage, so there's another future plot brewing there.

I have to admit, it's a good thing this freak plot hasn't been overdrawn. The mini-arc mantra the show's been adopting since last season has worked in it's favour but with Fish out of the city, I guess it's time to move on a little. Except for the fact that Alfred and Bruce have just encountered the latter's clone and there's still the sort of threat of the Court of Owls (never officially confirmed onscreen) in the background too.

- A few absences with Selina, Nygma and Tabitha sitting in this episode out. Maggie Geha has also been promoted to regular status. Barbara also popped up briefly to wind up Gordon and Valerie.
- Given the way that Oswald has been managing to rile citizens these last two episodes, I know which plot they're going to do next with him.
- Owls lady has a name - it's Katherine. She also promised Bruce that he wouldn't see her again but somehow, I doubt that.
- Chronology, not long from where Better To Reign In Hell left off. Next week, Mad Hatter time.

A solid episode but nothing too extraordinary either. Burn The Witch might have focused on a literal witch hunt for Fish but it was really Ivy and the four minutes of screen time that I think most people will remember about this one, along with that last scene with Bruce and his double.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Class - Everything You Need To Know

It's less than a month to go but finally, some concrete information in relation to upcoming BBC3 series and Doctor Who spin-off, Class has been confirmed as yesterday the cast and crew took part in a Facebook chat. Here's what we now know for definite.

- The characters are Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), a physics teacher with maybe an evil streak, the hapless leader and gay Charlie (Greg Austin), the passionate and caring Ram (Fady Elsayed), wise and mentally strong, April (Sophie Hopkins) and child prodigy Tanya (Vivian Oparah).
- The characters are charged by the Doctor to take care of a great responsibility against some alien creatures.
- Expect a gay sex scene in the third episode and also expect this show to be quite bloody in parts.
- The first two episodes will drop on BBC3 from October 22nd. They are titled For Tonight We Might Die and The Coach With The Dragon Tattoo.
- BBCAmerica however will not air the series until 2017 as they are pairing it with the tenth series of Doctor Who. Canada however plan to air it to coincide with UK transmission.
- Peter Capaldi will be appearing in the first episode as the Doctor.
- Other cast members include Jordan Renzo, Pooky Quesnel, Nigel Betts, Anna Schaffer, Paul Marc Davies and Shannon Murray.
- Lucky people can see the first episode from October 20th at Class World Premiere in Shoreditch, London.

A trailer for the series however seems to be a bit further off but one will be seen at NYCC from October 5th-7th, which the cast are attending for the BBCAmerica panel. There will also be a Doctor Who panel with Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas in attendance with some exclusive footage for the year's Christmas special and Series 10. Speaking of the Christmas special, it's been confirmed that Matt Lucas will be appearing in it as Nardole and that it will be directed by Ed Bazelgette (The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived) and so far, that's all that's been confirmed.

Press Release:

Class airs Saturdays on BBC3 from October 22nd and will air on BBCAmerica from Spring 2017. Filming for Doctor Who's tenth series continues.

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 3x01: "We're Good People Now"

Written by Peter Nowalk
Directed by Bill D'Elia

Annalise (to the Keating 5): "We're good people now. Say it to yourself until you believe it.”

Continuing with the onslaught of catching up with new shows, the third season of ABC's popular crime series came back with an interesting bang, a shock (unknown) death, a break up and several interesting flashbacks and one of the better cases of the week.

The flashbacks first are somewhat scattered but over the course of the summer, you've got Annalise and Wes realising that Frank somewhat set them up with the Wallace Mahoney public shooting, but it led to a scene where the two of them exorcised that particular demon and came to peace with one another, which was nice.

The other flashbacks though, ranged from Annalise giving Laurel an ultimatum to cut Frank out of their lives (which Laurel seemed to actually do), promising Connor not to give Oliver a job (which she later went back on), refusing to loan the newly poor Asher any money and helping Michaela out of a DUI as well.

In the present day though, there were bigger problems to be had. First of all, Oliver did ask for a job from Annalise, managed to bag one and then dumped Connor when the latter didn't blow up over Oliver sabotaging his attempts to get to Stanford last season. I have to admit, I found the break up scene with Connor and Oliver somewhat odd but right now, seperating them might be a good thing. I do however hope that it's not a pernament one though.

Of course the big buzz about this episode was the body found in the Keating house at the end. Who's come a cropper this time? Is it Frank? Nate? Oliver? Wes's new girlfriend? Someone else? Either way, it generated a pretty strong reaction from Annalise and this season is apparently promising that every episode until the mid-season finale will rule out a potential victim as well.

As for the main case of the week, it was one of the better ones we've had. We had an immigrant named Kareem taking the fall for his daughter's possession charge and despite some moments where it looked like Michaela and Wes were going to crack the case, things went pear shaped towards the end of things. It's still one of the better cases we've had though.

As for Frank, well he's certainly in no-one's good books these days. Even Annalise had an unsuccessful attempt to take him out, which also makes me wonder if he won't be the body found. Then again, I'm not sure how he can get back into Annalise's good books after the events of last season though.

- Mr Drake, the fellow law student in the class and Wes's second in command seems to be a non fan of the Keating 5, who not so shockingly are the lowest scoring members in Annalise's actual class.
- Nice to have Lauren Velez on the show as Soraya. I hope the show utilises her well before she leaves. I also don't think Frank is the one sending the 'killer' posters to Annalise.
- What Frank has lost in hair. Connor seems to have gained a little. Annalise seems to have a new look as well.
- Excluding flashbacks, we've jumped ahead four months since the events of Anna Mae.

One of the stronger opening episodes I've seen this week. We're Good People Now saw Annalise wanting to change a new leaf but things slipping back into murky territory once again. I'm curious as to whom the body will end (please not Oliver) being.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Review of Empire's 3x01: "Light Into Darkness"

Written by Malcolm Spellman And Joshua Allen
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Lucious (to Bella): "Wait til we show them how dark hell can get."

And this one certainly started off darkly too. Last season we had the cliffhanger of Anika and Rhonda about to go over and one of them certainly did. Because there was no way this show was going to murder a pregnant woman, it was Rhonda who ended up taking the fatal dive and died within the first two minutes of the episode.

My thoughts - damn it! I really liked Rhonda and thought her and Andre were a great team and regardless of it being an 'accident', this makes Anika a killer in respects. Anika already caused Rhonda to miscarry and now she caused Rhonda's death and having Lucious cover it up as a suicide adds further insult to injury along with the lack of an onscreen funeral.

However we did get to see Rhonda haunting a distressed Andre towards the end of the episode and I'm hoping that Andre exacts some revenge on Anika within the first half of the season. Speaking of Anika, she gave birth to a girl named Bella and was forced to move in with Lucious in order to make the marriage convincing, which only further enraged Cookie and Hakeem in the process.

I'm not surprised that Lucious claimed Bella as his own and it's certainly leading to a battle of sorts with him and Hakeem but I'm also intrigued to see how dark Lucious can actually make hell because he's done quite a bit of that in the previous two seasons. As for his half-brother, Tariq, I'm not big on the character. Right now, he just seems a bit annoying and will inevitably fail to get Lucious though he did succeed in needling everyone else during that dinner scene.

As for Cookie, this wasn't her best episode. While she had some lovely moments with her sons and sisters, most of the episode was her just sniping at Lucious for marrying Anika. I do think she made a good decision by trying to put some distance between her and Lucious and not rising too much to Tariq's taunts though.

As for Jamal, I like that they're continuing on with his trauma but at the same time, he's willing to forgive and even help Freda while pulling Lucious apart (nothing different there but still great to see). I also seeing him working with Shyne's daughter, Nessa during this episode as well. Oh and when Hakeem wasn't trying it on with Tiana, he also seemed enamoured with Nessa as well.

- New regulars this season are Morocco Omari (Tariq), Xzibit (Shyne) and Bre-Z (Freda). Kaitlin Doubleday is now a special guest star.
- I think they're setting up a moment where Leah might actually pose a danger to Anika later in the season.
- There was a time jump in this episode, given that we skipped Rhonda's funeral and Jamal shaved his hair. We also got flashbacks to younger versions of Lucious, Cookie, Carol and Candace.
- Standout music in this episode included Jamal's Need Freedom with Nessa.

We've had stronger opening episodes but Light Into Darkness was a good way of getting things started. I'm sad to see Rhonda go but I'm hoping her death will spur Andre into action against Anika. As for the new regulars, so far I'm a little meh on them.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Review of American Horror Story: Roanoke: "Chapter 2"

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Michael Goi

Flora (to Lee/Mason, re Priscilla): "They're going to kill us all and save me for last."

Week two of the creepy house in North Carolina and things are not moving as fast I kind of hoped they would do. While there are still some nice jump moments and the talking heads/re-enactment stuff still holds up well, this really should've advanced things better than it had.

On the plus side, we did get a glimpse of Kathy Bates leading a tribe of colony folk with both Wes Bentley and Lady Gaga at her side. Shelby observed them placing a pig's head on some unfortunate bloke before burning him alive before legging it out of there when she startled Bates's savage character.

Of course, despite reporting this to the police, they proved once again to be ineffectual but at least Shelby wasn't the only one having strange encounters in this episode. Lee was getting to see entrails all over the house with blood when her daughter Flora wasn't talking about her not so imaginary friend Priscilla wanting to kill them all.

Needless to say, that certainly soured things between Lee and her ex-husband. Lee then taking Flora and the child going missing as part of the cliffhanger. Not bad stuff but the sort of thing you could see coming a mile off though.

On the plus side, at least we also got some more screen time for Denis O'Hare this week. We learned that his character is called Dr Elias Cunningham, who moved into the house to research a book on a group of murdering sisters/nurses named Bridget/Miranda (Matt encountered one of their crimes in a dream) and quickly moved into a smelly cellar when shit got too creepy for him.

If you were hoping that the show would at least try to come up with a reason for Shelby and Matt to be stuck in that house, then this episode offered one. It seemed that thanks to that dodgy realtor/banker, they can't leave the house without selling the thing. It's not the greatest reason but it does at least make some sense though.

- Still no opening credits. FX's secrecy with the marketing this season is starting to grate now. It's not maintaining the mystery in a good way.
- Evan Peters, Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson still have to show up, not to mention we don't have names for Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga or Wes Bentley's characters.
- Why don't Shelby and Matt try taking photographs of their strange encounters?
- The nods to Murder House seem apparent every episode now, don't they?

Chapter 2 really could've benefited from pushing things a little forward. I do like the new format but unlike last week, I found my attention drifting at times. The characters need to be a bit smarter. Lee in particular this week was monumentally reckless with bringing Flora back to the house.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Review of Gotham's 3x01: "Better To Reign In Hell"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Nygma (to Oswald): "Details can be distracting. Sometimes a simple solution is best, so no matter what she's planning, just remember, penguins eat fish."

Ah, yes, that piece of information that every viewer of this show deduced back in 2014 when the series debuted and we were glimpsing the dynamic between Oswald Cobblepot and Fish Mooney. Of course, it was nice of Edward to reiterate the point during his brief encounter with his pal whilst still being stuck in Arkham.

Speaking of Oswald, my love for the character knows no bounds and this episode sure as hell maintained. Whether it was just him being an actual friend to Nygma (fanservice or not, their dynamic is fantastic), reminding Tabitha repeatedly that Butch's affections for her are keeping her alive, quibbling with Barbara over club ownership or even highlighting the GCPD's spectacular incompetence, he had a lot of moments worth getting into with this episode.

Of course, it was his obsession with figuring out Fish's next plan and trying to take her out that was his main priority in this episode. His machinations with that one put both Gordon and new reporter gal, Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung getting more screen time here than she has in Once Upon A Time) in each other's orbits but truthfully, Oswald might be the least of Fish's problems right now.

It seems that her newly acquired powers come with a price and the one she's paying is imminent death. I like that there's an obvious consequence to Hugo Strange's meddling with science for Fish and her band of mutants but at the same time, it might a bit of a cop out if she does eventually peg it though. We at least need another confrontation between her and Oswald before that probably happens too.

However with Fish being a problem for enough characters this episode, we had the pairing of Gordon and Valerie and it's an okay enough pairing. Valerie has a decent charm to her as a character but Gordon is as crap a bounty hunter as he was a cop with most of his plans going spectacularly awry yet again. His antics in this episode resulted in Peabody getting kidnapped by Fish's men before being aged to death by Marv for good measure. A fate that also kind of befell Ivy who unwisely incurred Fish's wrath towards the end of this episode but she's not gone from the game just yet.

As for the rest of the episode - Barbara and Tabitha with their own nightclub has potential. I still don't really care for them as a couple (from an LGBT perspective, other DC shows have done so much better) but I did like them mostly standing on their own ground with the mob squad trying to muscle in on them though.

Then there's Bruce. First of all, his doppelganger was skulking about the place, spying on him but not really aware of his existence (though he managed to freak out Ivy). I'm guessing he won't be too long for the series either if all the other experiments are on the way out too. However, the real Bruce managed to get himself kidnapped by the Court of Owls after his little outburst at Wayne Enterprises. Someone really needs to do something about the security at Wayne Manor right about now.

- Barnes is back as Captain and Lucius has joined the GCPD. Gordon initially tried to get back with Leslie but balked when he realised she had moved on with Mario Falcone.
- Valerie Vale is the aunt of Vicki Vale (who I assume we'll meet later in the season).
- Selina really does know how to flit from groups of characters to other groups of characters and do it so effortlessly. Babs and Tabs nightclub is called Sirens by the way.
- It's been six months since the events of Transference. This season's subtitle for now is Mad City.

A solid and engaging premiere episode. Better To Reign In Hell certainly felt more like a set up piece and while it arguably had too much going on in some parts, it was nonetheless as enjoyable and as bonkers as we've become accustomed to with this series.

Rating: 7 out of 10