Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hail the Fingers Of Fury!

If a writer has writers' block, then a blogger will suffer from Blogger Clog, and that's certainly the case here. There are numerous reasons for my infrequent posting, perhaps most importantly this goddamn illness, which, while little more than a cold, has been hanging around for weeks. Hard to be prolific when one side of my head feels heavier than the other. On top of that is a much busier than usual week at work which has drained me of much energy, and oh God this election this fucking election it's driving my brain crazy with the excessive checking of the politiblogs, so much so that, even though I've been enjoying his updates, if Andrew Sullivan writes "know hope" one more time I'll either turn violent or cry or cry violently. It's the classic split between his faith and my atheism; he can know hope all he likes, but I'll not relax until Obama's inauguration. People who know me will be very familiar with my fatalistic tendencies. ::takes break from hard minute's blogging to check

Another reason, which is probably the main one if I was willing to sit and poke at my ossified brain in order to find out, is my attempt to finish reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Though I'm wary of saying anything about it for fear of angering her many many fans/followers/cultists, I have to say it is about to defeat me. No, Randian visitors, her worldview has not dominated mine, as if it had been dismantled and bested by a philosophy of vast strength and power, like the machines that conquer and crush the rocks and mountains of the earth. I'm just, well, really really really fucking bored by now. Her insanely florid prose might have amused me before, but by now, after being shouted at in a self-pitying and mean-spirited tone for 700 pages, I might not be able to make it. But I must! For am I not a human being? Is not my mind the Alpha and Omega, the force that can harness nature and bend it to my will, able to withstand this mighty onslaught, bearing the winds and rains of her ideas and rising, triumphant, like a Titan, like the owner of himself and his destiny, masterful and immortal? Fuck you, book! You shall never defeat me!

However, I do just want to get it over and done with by now, if only because I need a break from it. I'm glad I'm reading it, especially at a time like this, when one presidential candidate is bellowing "Socialist!" and running from person to person like Kevin McCarthy in the first two versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the world's most powerful Objectivist, Alan Greenspan, is talking about how there is a flaw in the world that makes his free market ideals untenable (I'm totally paraphrasing; please don't correct me, people). Before reading Atlas Shrugged I would have thought his comment rather cheeky, blaming people for the market disaster and not The Market itself, but now I see his point (though I don't necessarily agree with it). If I'm reading Atlas Shrugged right (again, don't comment, I don't need clarification just yet), the Objectivist creed would work just fine as long as everyone was "moral" by Rand's code, but after many many years Greenspan has apparently discovered that people (i.e. traders and bankers and economists and anyone who deals with money anywhere in the world ever) won't abide by that code of behaviour, and will in fact take as many short cuts as possible to fill their pockets with as much Fat Bank as they can. I see where he's coming from. I think he's a bit tapped to be suddenly saying, "Oh, it's humanity's fault for this and not mine for coming up with a system of economics that doesn't take into account actual human behaviour as it really actually exists for reals, but instead bases its assumptions about what people are like on the idealised ramblings of a writer from the 50s who had a weird thing for dominatory industrialists and smokestacks and trains going into tunnels and which therefore cannot possibly work," but I do see where he's coming from. Thanks for the recession, jerkwad.

So yeah, it's been interesting to listen to Republican and conservative thought with a new, deeper understanding of where it's coming from, and to finally comprehend why followers of that creed hate taxation as much as they do even though I think they're wrong, and so I do owe a debt of thanks to Ayn Rand for giving me such a long-winded peek into that mindset. Sadly, my brain is dying from the melodrama and the hate and the victimhood, and I just want to get it over with so I can move onto something fun (I got John Hodgman's new book two days ago and it's begging to be read). Until then, time I would devote to blogging is being taken up with enduring the endless Rand-ting, so it's like another blog slowdown, and one I really don't want to endure but will because I'm stubborn like that and hate leaving books unfinished (especially when I'm 700 pages in). I will get back to the planned post about Mad Men, and some Face/Offs I've been looking forward to as soon as I can, but for now, I must complete this mammoth task.

In the meantime, here is the other thing that has totally possessed my mind over the last week, but luckily it's a thing that is making the brain very very happy. Marnie Stern, super-genius guitarist, has just appeared on my Radar of Unbelievable Awesomeness with her new album This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That (which is a phrase attributed to Zen philosopher Alan Watts, according to AV Club). It is absolutely incredible, easily on my 2008 best list along with Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State and The Family Afloat by Bound Stems and several other lovely works. Stern's guitar playing is unlike anything I've heard before, and strumming along to it would be the most insane Rock Band challenge ever (especially as Zach Hill's drumming is almost as complex and frenetic). This is her new single, Transformer, and it should be number one across the planet.

Even better is her song Ruler, which you can find on her MySpace page. Thank you for keeping the book cooties from smothering my brain, Marnie Stern.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Week In TV Year II (Week 7)

As I have already said, I've been taking my time on this one for several reasons, but one of the most important ones is that The Shield was so great last week it overwhelmed my brain in much the same way that Lost does when it's on. Except for one notable exception, this week was pretty poor, and my enthusiasm for some shows is waning. It doesn't help that I started writing this while the wonderful In The Name of the Father was on Sky Movies, distracting me even more (and holy shit, Mark Sheppard plays one of the Guildford Four!), and tried to finish it while The Incredibles was on. That's my favourite film of the decade we're talking about. How could I not get distracted?

Non-Shield Highlight of the Week:

As this week's Friday Night Lights ended, and the final slow-motion shot of "Smash" Williams faded to black, Canyon said, "My God, it really is back on form." I couldn't agree more. Though we enjoyed the second season more than many, this third season has been exceptional even by this show's high standards. The latest episode was just about perfect, and was filled with examples of how the showrunners have upped their game this year.

Part of it is the shorter season. This time there won't be any Carlotta missteps, or new characters not given a full arc (I'm still upset at how Santiago was treated). Sticking with the core characters and seeking to build upon old tensions rather than introduce new ones, the show has done the miraculous and made a season that feels like the first season while telling stories that are new enough to feel fresh but have expanded from previous concerns. The best example of that is Matt Saracen's relationship with his grandmother. Though his position as QB1 is now endangered, and has generated a great deal of turmoil for himself, Coach, and the Dillon fanbase (who are jerks, let's be honest), we still have the old, unresolved arc featuring his grandmother's illness informing his every choice.

That story should have become boring a long time ago, but while season two featured that awful Carlotta plot, this season sees Matt reaching out to his mother in an act of desperation, and from there we find out more about him, his family, his capacity for forgiveness, etc. Carlotta told us nothing other than how teenage boys get horny and make mistakes. This new plot has been a revelation in more ways than one. Most importantly, it's given Zack Gilford a chance to show what he's capable of, which seems only fair after season two gave Taylor Kitsch numerous opportunities to shine. His scenes with his mother, played by the ever-excellent Kim Dickens, were a joy to behold. I'm glad the showrunners got around to giving Gilford a shot at the prize.

Another consequence of the shorter season is the chance to finish arcs conclusively. Next week we'll find out what Jason Street has been up to, but for the first four episodes we saw Smash get a second chance to get into college. Last week I admitted I was getting a bit sick of the constant doubts Smash had, but luckily this frustration was assuaged by this week's conclusion. By the time Smash gets his phonecall of acceptance, he's really earned it, having faced down every obstacle going. If he didn't make it, it might have been "realistic", but it would also have been wrong.

The whole point of Coach's philosophy, and Smash's confidence, is that hard work and dedication bring you what you want, and this was the perfect dramatisation of that. My misgivings faded as Coach delivered yet more stirring speeches about living up to his promise, and the last five minutes of the show were viewed from behind a veil of happy tears. It was exactly the ending we had hoped for, and justified everything Smash has gone through. If only all TV could be like this.

What the Hell Just Happened? Disaster of the Week:

As this season has progressed, you'll note that my fondness for Fringe has increased from my initial position of slightly optimistic reticence, with much of that interest based around Dr. Walter Bishop and The Observer, that bald Easter Egg I love so much. In the first season of Alias, created by J.J. Abrams and often written by Fringe creators Kurtzman and Orci, I remember the pilot episode being one of the strongest hours of TV I've seen, and that first season containing pretty much no clunkers, so confident was the showrunning team. Though the Fringe pilot was nowhere near as good as the first hour of Alias, it was still compelling, and the premise grew to be more interesting than I had first thought by the time The Observer showed up. So how the hell did last week's episode turn out to be so feeble, even though it opened with such nasty events as brain-cooking and blood tears?

Much of it comes down to a truly crappy script, which was little more than a list of cliches of forehead-slapping overuse, with serious misjudgements throughout. I'm not sure which was worse: the scientist who, when rumbled, shoots himself in the head; Olivia's rogue investigation and sudden random and hilarious aggressiveness; the race against time kidnap plot (also used this week in CSI), and much more. Perhaps the worst crime was sticking Lance "Intensity" Reddick with some dialogue of look-away-it's-so-awful clunkiness.

There were other problems, though. One scene at a horseriding club was lit so badly you could see shadows on the floor even though it was supposed to be filmed during late-afternoon, and other scenes were blocked terribly, with characters pulling guns on each other in a room so small the camera almost gets in the way. I understand that the show has to make the most of its budget, and the shooting schedule is tight, especially as development on the show would have been affected by the writers' strike, but it still seemed amateurish. These egregious errors are above and beyond the main problems; that it was sluggish, boring, silly, littered with tonal errors (having a main villain played, by Canyon's least favourite actor Chris Eigemann, with outrageous mustache-twirling evilness), and criminally over-writing Walter so that he is almost annoying. Almost. I'm sorry, but even though he went a bit far, having him get upset over microwaving a papaya to death because it's the friendliest of fruits made me laugh too much to get angry at him.

Fringe is away for three weeks, what with sport and elections and whathaveyou. It's a good job the fourth episode was so freakydeaky, because otherwise I would be walking away after this. It wasn't as bad as Knight Rider (surely impossible), but maybe it was approaching Flash Gordon levels of awfulness. It gives me no pleasure to say that, and the only thing that makes me feel better about that judgement is that I refuse to believe the show is going to sink. Surely this is an anomaly. I'm just hoping the number of bad episodes don't end up outweighing the good.

Slowly Improving Show of the Week:

As I had hoped, this week's Mentalist was definitely organised around a central location, a sort of bland office complex that featured last week without being named as the CBI HQ.

Other notable features of the episode included more screen time for Gregory Itzin (working as the pencil-pushing jerk I had hoped he would be), more panicky reactions from Patrick Jane upon being confronted with a gun, and some humour. It's babysteps, but the hour went much quicker than some of the other shows we watched this week. Spotting some of Derren Brown's techniques helped (the fumbling disarming of a gun-toting Eastern European was particularly welcome), and I hope we see more of his team using elaborate lies to fool the criminals into giving themselves up. That said, I still don't think I'd recommend it to anyone who's not a huge fan of procedurals, though. It's still not quite there yet, but it's a little victory that, five episodes in, it's managed to create an episode that is arguably more entertaining (if less well constructed) than this week's episodes of House (not as bad as I had feared, but a little dull) and CSI (would have been better if the serial killer introduced this week didn't get arrested at the end).

Heartbreak of the Week:

Oh Friday Night Lights, how you torture us. Tyra and Landry's ill-fated love was never meant to be, only beginning because of the murder/rape plot that annoyed the fanbase so much. This week, Tyra definitively moved on, leaving a heartbroken Landry behind with nothing but his slowly weeping guitar for solace.

Yes, the murder plot might have been handled well but was not welcome on the show. Yes, it was a contrived way to get Tyra and Landry together when in real life there is no way she would ever want to be with him. But who cares about that when we get to see acting of the calibre displayed by Adrianne Palicki and Jesse Plemons? Fuck it, they could have been abducted by aliens for all I care. Seeing Landry's heartache and Tyra's sadness over the consequences of her decision was one of the acting highlights of the season so far.

Your Sex Is On Fire of the Week:

And so were the words to transpire, whatever that means. Yes, this week House finally had bisexual Thirteen have some gay sex, because in TV land, as Canyon pointed out during the hectic sex scene (which was as hot as a fever), bisexual means lesbian, but a lesbian that the male viewers have a chance with. I really doubt that having lesbian smooching and the attendant rattling bones hinted at in trailers means twenty million more viewers tune in, but even if the opening felt unusually exploitative for the show, it kinda matched Thirteen's desperate effort to live her life to the full before she dies. Sort of. Well, it was edited really frantically. Luckily, it's not forever, but it's just tonight, oh we're still the greatest. The greatest! The greatest! And YEEEAAAAHH Yo' sex is on fiyah!

Yeah, you know Kings of Leon are the shit.

Actor We Love of the Week:

Lee Pace is always great on Pushing Daisies, but we want to give him a shout out this week, just cuz.

Actually, it's more that we just saw him in The Fall (directed, of course, by... TARSEM!), and he is unnaturally great in it. Let's hope that the imminent cancellation of this lovely show frees him up for more great work. For instance, the West End loves American actors lately, Mr. Pace. Some are very close to pie shops. Plus, you can stay at our house while you are here. We have a very small bed that only slightly smells like cat vom. You'll love it.

Improbably Attractive Biologist of the Week:

Evil David Esterbrook, evil CEO of evil pharmaceutical company Intrepus, is more than happy to hang around while a woman is injected with a compound that will turn the strontium capsules in her head into a weapon, but he won't be doing any of the injecting himself. Instead, he has an improbably attractive biologist to help him out.

As you can seen, the improbably attractive biologist is wearing a HazMat suit, and if you think she took off the helmet and shook her long black hair out like the stereotypical sexy librarian who lets her hair down to the amazement of all the horny chaps nearby, you would be right.

Sudden Romantic of the Week:

Though Landry and Tyra get the award for most heartbreaking relationship failure of the week, Dwight Schrute's agony over the imminent marriage of Angela and Andy came a close second.

That he kept undercutting that pain with such horrible treatment of Phyllis was perfect, but even better was his pathetic but noble attempt to make it up to her at the end.

Of course, there were other romantic developments in this episode, but this was the one that seemed to get forgotten in the rush to squeal with delight over the other stuff.

Worst Performance of the Week:

I'm beginning to think that the Fringe showrunners made a huge mistake in casting Anna Torv to head their new show. Though all of my affection for the show rests with either John Noble or Lance "Intensity" Reddick, I'm willing to open my arms to allow others in. No one has stepped up yet. Kirk Acevedo's tics irk me, Blair Brown is as shaky as she was during Altered States, and even though I thought he was okay opposite Patrick Stewart in Mamet's A Life In The Theatre, I'm otherwise baffled by the appeal of Joshua Jackson, especially in a role as poorly written as this one.

Torv, on the other hand, has shown little spark of life in Fringe, which we attributed to the lifeless role of Olivia, who has been asked to swallow her grief over her lover's death and possible betrayal (and, you know, the fact that his consciousness is living inside her brain or something). This week, however, Olivia has been re-written as an angry young lady, all guns drawn and snarly, telling tales of her evil step-dad and going after nasty pharma-jerks who abduct women to make their brains a big radioactive weapon, or somesuch. (Check out this week's appearance of The Observer, who seems to find Olivia's inept flirting more interesting than someone's head exploding in the opening scene. He truly is inhuman!)

While I would definitely say Olivia needed a revamp, and pronto, and while I would accept a mid-flow personality change as a quick fix to what must have been an obvious problem with the template for the show, did the showrunners realise that Anna Torv can't really pull it off? With the whole episode revolving around her dangerous past and sudden no-nonsense attitude, her acting quirks were on full display, and warning bells sounded throughout.

While I'm not able to discuss her acting technique using technical terms, and though a lot of what was wrong with that episode is down to the shockingly poor script, it was still a dispiriting display of faux-rage and stroppy, confrontational bluster, none of which convinced. Though Torv's voice is possibly the most soothing thing currently on TV, hearing her spit sarcastic and furious lines at her co-stars just made us laugh in incredulity. Her goofy reaction to the scientist's suicide was amusing too; this picture does not do justice to the WTFness of it.

In other venues, I'm sure Ms. Torv is just fine, and she must have done something right to get the job, but so far this role seems like a bad fit. Perhaps it's unfair to compare her to Jennifer Garner, whose work on Alias was so consistently impressive (shut it, haters), but she had some warmth or lightness that Torv desperately needs. Of course, perhaps she is not meant to portray that, in which case the character needs to be rethought, as she can't do tough guy, so it's going to be a problem if Olivia 2.0 is meant to go all Horatio Caine week after week. Nevertheless, Torv is on probation until there is another change, because right now, Angry Olivia is still good for a few laughs, which harms the show's atmosphere, but holds our attention more.

Magnificent Insanity of the Week:

It's official: America's Next Top Model has lost its mind. Words cannot describe the lunacy on display. I'll let this photo montage do the explaining for me.

There really is nothing else to add.

Troubling Development of the Week:

We've been thinking it for a while now, and this week might have set our opinion in stone: Ugly Betty is now officially boring. While we're a week behind on Pushing Daisies out of regrettable error, we're not up to speed with Betty mostly because we just don't care about the majority of the storylines currently running. While Claire Meade's incarceration was amusing, this week's prison sub-plot just made me wish I was rewatching Arrested Development, an urge more pronounced after Jeffrey Tambor turned up on CSI the following week.

The biggest problem the show has this season is that there is very little it can do that it hasn't done before. The O.C. had a similar problem in its middle two seasons, after the crazed first burned through major arcs in the space of a couple of episodes. Eventually the show had nowhere to go, and the penultimate season ended up filled with clanging plot failures like Sandy's descent into evil, Marissa's infinitely boring friendship with the world's most depressed surfer, and Ryan's war with the adorably named Volchok. Ugly Betty is in similar trouble. Other than the attempted murder of Christine, which was done and dusted in two and a bit episodes, we've wasted hours (or thereabouts) on Hilda's affair and Daniel's son, both of which are the most tedious sub-plots of the year so far.

A large proportion of each episode is now given over to stories that don't go anywhere, merely offering cloying moments of grief from minor characters who are unhappy over events that don't really matter. Don't believe me? Watch how often Daniel mentions his son over the rest of the season. Also, Hilda made her true love go back to his wife to try to make it work out? Yeah, I'm sure that the guy who was crazy about you and didn't want to be with his wife any more is real happy about that decision. It was all so dull that even her son looks like he wishes he was on Heroes or something.

Of course, while The O.C. had a similar quality dip, it found its feet again for a mostly entertaining fourth season, but that was by ditching the dark plots and going all out with the weird (alternate realities?), which might have annoyed the purists (if there is such a thing as an O.C. purist) but kept us happy. How can Ugly Betty go that route? It's already cartoony, and until now has worked by maintaining that slightly hysterical soapy semi-dramatic tone. Turning it into an out-and-out comedy might make it more fun in the short term, but it might finish the whole thing off as well. It's worth a try, though. Even the happy-making return of Gio became a meta-comment on how much the show has begun to annoy us.

My suggestion is the same as I've been saying for a while now. Give Marc and Amanda more to do. Make Claire Meade a catty matriarch again. Give Wilhelmina something else to do other than plot to takeover Meade Publications every week. Betty's fine for now, but her family is dragging the show down (plus, Justin is realistically snotty as a teenager, but he's also zero fun). Give Daniel a victory or two, or bring back his tacky lad's mag (dozens of story possibilities flew out the window with that decision). Most importantly, make it funny again. Jokes are flopping lifelessly to the ground with depressing regularity, and it's making the show a chore to watch. I'm not sure how much longer we're going to stick with this, and I bet we're not the only ones.

Shurely Shome Mishtake Moment of the Week:

Olivia Dunham spends much of last week's Fringe being grumpy about her birthday, which is later explained away as a consequence of her abusive stepfather beating up her mother so much that Olivia ends up shooting him. He nearly dies but somehow survives (is Mad Science responsible??!?!?!?), before disappearing. His only contact with Olivia is sending her a birthday card every year since. That the whole speech was only lacking a reference to the screaming of the lambs was not the worst thing about it, nor was the cliche of Olivia transferring her anger of her stepfather over to her investigation of Evil David Esterbrook. It was the fact that she shot someone when she was nine and grew up to become an FBI agent.

Oh sure, she did it in self-defence, but surely there has to be some rule that someone who once tried to kill someone else, no matter what the circumstances, should not rise through the ranks of the FBI to become an agent. It just strikes me as being highly unlikely. No doubt someone somewhere knows that it's actually mandatory or something, but until then, I call bullshit.

Gratifying Performance of the Week:

We're a week behind on Pushing Daisies, and rumours of its imminent cancellation are sapping our enthusiasm, but that doesn't mean we're not getting any pleasure out of it. The episode from two weeks ago, with Ned, Chuck and Emerson visiting Olive's convent featured many amusing moments, but most pleasingly it gave Anna Friel a chance to show off her acting skillz. Wracked with doubt about her place in the world, and whether or not she should have received a second chance at life, she is saved from a potentially terminal depression by the news that Aunt Lily is actually her mother. Her tear-soaked reaction was almost enough to set me off.

I've been waiting for years for Friel to live up to the promise of her Brookside performances, and regrettably she's not had any roles good enough to give her a chance to show off what she can do, but Chuck is perfect for her. I especially like that even though she is becoming more unhappy as the show progresses, she is still cheery enough to hide it convincingly. Plus, the way she keeps waving at Olive is adorable.

Here's hoping we get to see a full season of endearing character moments like this.

Distracting Embonpoint of the Week:

It is my sincere wish to be as progressive about gender politics, the insidious male gaze, and the negative impact of the objectification of women as possible, but Catherine Willows' breastal area seemed way way larger than usual this week, causing me to lose focus on the plot.

This, in turn, made me feel like a lecherous wanker for getting so distracted. Was I being irrational? Am I no better than some Daily Star-reading creep whose favourite word is PHWOAR? Surely I'm better than this, I thought as I rewound subsequent scenes several times because I had become so anxious about my distraction and the psychological consequences of my sudden fascination with the boobs. It was upsetting me so much I had to blurt out my suspicions about a size increase to Canyon, who, thankfully, had been thinking the same thing. Not that I'm saying, "It's okay for me to be staring at boobs because my wife was as well," but it did make me think I was onto something with my suspicions. And I'm not judging Marg Helgenberger if she has indeed had cosmetic surgery. That's her choice, and more power to her for doing it. Good on her. Not "Good on her for having bigger boobs. Or not, if she's not done anything and I've made a mistake." Just, you know, good on her for doing what she wants to do. If it is what happened. I'm not saying it definitely is. I'm not the kind of guy who gets obsessed with these things. It's just idle curiosity. So, what happened? Cosmetic surgery (not that there's anything wrong with that)? Or just that top she is wearing? It could just be shadows. Not that I'm insinuating she has small boobs normally. I've never really thought about it one way or the other, to be honest. They just caught my eye this week, which is unusual. It's almost aberrant, you could say. Me noticing her boobs, that is, not the boobs themselves. I'm sure they're as great now as they have always been. Though of course I don't go around saying, you know, "Hey, boobs are great! Yowsa boobs!" And I certainly don't think women are expected to have cosmetic surgery done. It's totally their choice and it's none of my business. Of course, I also think that wanting to enhance boobs is totally acceptable, and I would never suggest otherwise. And it's not just for women either, or wymyn, should I say. Men can have them too, if that's what they want, certainly if they are intending to change gender, which, again, is supercool with me, and I would never think to make any disparaging comments about that either. Which is getting me away from my question about Catherine. Now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure it's an optical illusion or something to do with the lighting, and I'm reading too much into things, which is more than likely. It's the culture we live in, you know, obsessed with body image and looks and what-have-you, reducing people to their parts instead of dealing with them as a whole. It's so terrible. I never ever do that. Except this one time. And earlier on when I was going on about all of the hott gay sex in House. But that was just me pointing out the show using sex as a ratings winner, in an exploitative manner, otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it at all, because of course I don't want to seem like I watch TV just to ogle anyone, because I totally don't. So, we're settled with this, right? It's just a very nice top she is wearing, and I should be ashamed of myself for being so interested in it. Good. Glad we're clear on that. [/torrential flopsweat]

Distracting Groin of the Week:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Holy shit! Don Draper is 150% more man than most! (Believe me, that bulge next to the AMC sign is not the pleats.)

He could appear in the porn version of this show. As Dong Draper.

Inaccurate Depiction of Bloggers of the Week:

CSI wandered into dangerously luddite CSI: Miami territory last week, with our heroes hingeing their investigation on the comments section of an art blog. While a serial killer left macabre posed corpses around Las Vegas, an immoral blogger (seen below, with more hair than is usual for bloggers) made vodcasts about the project, leading the killer to post comments about how awesome he was.

I say the blogger was immoral because, in a bit of judgemental stereotyping, the blogger was more concerned with the statement than the crime, though he got the message after being pulled in to lay a trap for the killer. If this was CSI: Miami the blogger would have been the killer, and he would have broadcast the murders on The YourTube, the sick bastard. He would also have been a pedophile. And a terrorist. CSI: Classic was not as bad as that, but it still chafed.

Still, the thought that the police were going to trace the IP addresses of the commenters in order to find the killer must have made the hearts of many bloggers soar in much the same way that the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back did, with fantasies of finding abusive jerkoffs and making them apologise for being douchey. Ah, how lovely the internet would be if everyone had some goddamn manners.

Shock of the Week:

Hard to believe, but last week's Heroes did not totally suck. I'm not saying it qualifies as good, but it was intentionally amusing at times (as well as unintentionally), and contained some surprises that actually worked until you thought about them for a moment, instead of seeming like contrived nonsense right off the bat. I have no idea what last night's episode was like (I intended to get this finished before it aired, but I'm still feeling super-rough), but this episode managed to be flawed but fun. Things to like: Hiro's tantrum after getting hit over the head with a shovel for the second time...

...Daphne trying to ignore the power of Parkman's turtle totem...

...Pops Petrelli's power being a new variant on Peter and Sylar's power absorption, and best of all, Peter going down like a punk in the final scene.

Things not to like: Daphne wondering how Parkman could know so much about her which is stupid as, even though it's not the reason for his knowledge, she has just read a folder on him pointing out he is telepathic; Adam also going out like a punk, with much crying and whining and dessicating...

...Peter not reading his dad's mind before getting powersucked; the utter lameness of Pops Petrelli's Association of Evil Individuals...

...Hiro's power suddenly freezing Daphne, even though it has been established that he can't, which also means that last week's fake-out murder of Ando was just as stupid as expected...

...all of the deeply boring Puppet Man plot, especially finding out that Meredith went after him even though she knew he could control her body...

...and everything involving Tracy, Nathan and Suresh, who are an Unholy Trinity of boring stupidity.

Still, that's a lot more in column one than in recent weeks. I strongly doubt the show is ever going to be what we hoped it would be, and some viewers are never going to warm to it, such as a disgusted Canyon, who barely made it through this installment, but it might get to the point where it makes sense once in a while, something the second season seemed to render impossible.

Guest Stars of the Week:

Just recently I made a comment about how CSI often blows the mystery of the week by casting guest stars who are obviously going to be the killer, but this week convention was shirked, meaning Alex Kingston really was a grief counsellor, and Jeffrey Tambor really was just a snotty artist. The killer turned out to be just some guy doing a weak Kevin-Spacey-in-Seven impression.

Tambor is one of those rare Scientologists its okay to like, such as Beck, Chick Corea, and mid-to-late 90s Travolta. It's always a treat to see him on TV, and he was lots of fun here. Kingston did an equally good job as the counsellor who ends up facing off against Gil following a misunderstanding, but even so I was worried that the show was suddenly employing two guest stars.

It's a bit of overkill that suggests the showrunners were eager to distract the viewer from the new character, who would otherwise be the biggest deal in the episode. Speaking of which...

Unorthodox Introduction of the Week: character Riley Adams, played by Lauren Lee Smith, arrived at CSI HQ with an aggressive attitude and a malfunctioning sense of humour. As Lee Smith appeared in the credits, replacing Gary Dourdan, we discussed how difficult it would be for her to fit in with the fanbase's expectations, who treat in-show change with a range of emotions running the gamut from thwarted yet undeserved entitlement to seething indignant rage.

Perhaps the CSI showrunners realised that, and didn't bother creating a likeable character, knowing it would all be for naught. Better to just alienate the audience on purpose and win them over in the long term (I wonder if naming her after a famously unpopular character who joined a show late in its run was part of the plan). Also, I noted that Riley is the first permanent team member added since Holly Griggs (not counting Greg, who was promoted. Griggs, of course, was murdered in the pilot due to Warrick's negligence. So far Riley is the total opposite of Griggs, which makes the whole thing nicely symbolic. Or cyclical. There's a point being made here, but sadly the grogginess is making it hard to find.

Model of the Week:

We've decided on our favourite for this cycle. I had been convinced that Lauren Brie was going to win for sure, despite being partially covered in an almost inedible rind, but it was not to be. As is now the way with ANTM, we got to see her being a big bitch two weeks ago, and not long after she was SENT! HOME! Unfortuately the same happened to the awesome Joslyn, leaving us kinda bereft. Now, we're not sure she can pull it off, but we're totally rooting for Analeigh, who has been adorable and is getting better every week.

Her CoverGirl ad this week was possibly the best in the show's history, and her in-house diplomacy has been a refreshing change from the usual catty shenanigans (Marjorie and Samantha have been moved to our Shut-The-Fuck-Up Corner). Of course, Elina will probably win now that Tyra has made it her mission to break her spirit and mold her into something else as if she were V and Elina were Evie, but we're hoping Analeigh (and therefore justice) will win out.

Grisly Moment of the Week:

Was it Pops Petrelli yanking a tube out of his throat after absorbing Adam's power?

Or Fringe Mysteriously Experimented-Upon-Person Emily Kramer after her head exploded due to some particularly Mad Science involving Strontium or something?

Or the eerie image, from CSI, of a child suspended in a tank filled with carbon monoxide?

That wasn't gross, but it was deeply unnerving, especially as it brought back uncomfortable memories of Vincent D'Onofrio's elaborate murders in The Cell, which was, of course, directed by... TARSEM!

Silly Bet of the Week:

Not only does he have a name guaranteed to make Brits laugh for all the wrong reasons, Wayne Rigsby (played by Owain Yeoman) bets Mentalist Patrick Jane that he can't seduce the widow at the funeral they are staking out. For crying out loud, not only is he The Mentalist, but he's played by Simon Baker.

Yum! He's such a mischievous hottie. No woman could resist his Amazing Powers of the Brain and his sexxy waistcoat. Bet lost. (Actually, Rigsby kinda wins, but only because the widow is a murderous psycho and Jane has to put her away using psychology and subterfuge. Bad luck, Mentalist.)

Hitchcock Reference of the Week:

Having an obvious but non-showy Vertigo reference in Pushing Daisies was very welcome.

You see, later that week we watched Eagle Eye, and the hamfisted way D.J. Caruso visualised his rip-off of the big finish of The Man Who Knew Too Much, with a CG overlay of a sheet of music with a big note sticking up where the bomb is going to go off, was just horrid. Just showing the tower, identical to the one in Vertigo, is the way to go.

Intensity of the Week:

Even from a distance...

...Lance Reddick brings it.

I'm really startled by how much this week has disappointed me, stripping me of all of my enthusiasm for this project. It's not just me, either. Brian Michael Bendoom was harder to track down for comment, but after leaving numerous messages for him, he got back to me to say...

...and to be honest, I think he's being generous. Be better this week, TV!