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Showing posts by: Corrina Lawson click to see Corrina Lawson's profile
Tue
May 24 2016 12:00pm

The Top 10 Castle Episodes of All-Time

Castle ended this month, after eight seasons on the air, amid a swirl of controversy. The show chose not to renew Stania Katic’s contract, and plans for Season 9 included Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) as the lead, with no Kate Beckett, despite the fact the show was based on the relationship between the characters. 

Despite all this, however it got there, the series finale contained a happily ever after.

The controversy of its ending distracted from the fact that Castle had an excellent run. The quality remained high, up until it’s last two seasons, despite the fact Castle and Beckett first got together at the end of Season 4—putting a lie to the adage that once characters get together, the show falls apart. More of my choices for top ten episodes are in Season 5 than any other season.

What really seemed to spell doom for the show, instead, was a switch in showrunners after Season 6, when creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller stopped helming the show. That quality drop was clear when I began making my list, and no episodes past Season 6 made the cut—though one from Season 7 is an honorable mention.

So, here, in sequential order, are my picks for the best ten episodes of the series, with a few honorable mentions at the end. 

[See which episodes made the list!]

Mon
Apr 18 2016 10:30am

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

The Strangler Vine by M.J. CarterThe Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter is the 1st Blake and Avery Mystery, set in the untamed wilds of nineteenth-century colonial India. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for “Best Novel.”

“You’re a better man than, I, Gunga Din.”

That’s one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, from the movie Gunga Din, in which three movie stars—er, British soldiers—take on the Thuggee cult. The first time I watched Gunga Din, I was inspired to look up the Thuggee cult, and was surprised to learn it was a real thing and not a Hollywood invention.  

And, of course, “Gunga Din” is also a poem by Rudyard Kipling, which concludes that the title character is superior to the British officers to whom he’s given his life.

It was good to be reminded of that as I read The Strangler Vine.

[Read Corrina Lawson's full review of The Strangler Vine here!]

Fri
Jan 22 2016 1:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.13: “Project Reborn”

Heroes traveling through time to save the world from destruction! Go!           

No, not the premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

I’m talking about the finale of the Heroes Reborn miniseries, which aired in the same time slot as DC’s newest superhero show. There has been a lot of hype about Legends and little about Heroes Reborn, which may explain why there are no plans for another season of the Heroes reboot. In the real world, Project Reborn has been a failure.

And yet, despite the show’s flaws—the uneven pacing, the shallow villain, the numerous plot holes—the show brought home the ending in style. That was one enjoyable hour of television.

[Like a phoenix from the ashes, it was Reborn...]

Fri
Jan 15 2016 4:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.12: “Company Woman”

All season, Erica Kravid (Rya Kihlstedt) has been a mustache-twirling, one-dimensional villain convinced that her plan to rescue a chosen few from the End of the World™ is morally justifiable.

I’ve gotten used to that.

But instead of using the show’s penultimate episode to show how our heroes gather to save the world, Erica’s backstory takes center stage.  In a callback to one of the original series’ best episodes, “Company Man,” this one is called “Company Woman.”

Uh…thanks?

All the callback to “Company Man” did was remind me how good the first season of Heroes was and how meandering this miniseries has been.

[From Heroes to zeros...]

Fri
Jan 8 2016 3:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.11: “Send in the Clones”

Two episodes left in this mini-series, and we still don’t have the twins united. That’s a good indication of everything wrong with this show.

It had an intriguing start that centered around Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) and his twin grandchildren, with several characters meandering in and out, but the two-part time travel episode where Hiro (Masi Oka) finally appeared actually got me excited for the show.

Of course, that’s just when the show went off the air, blowing away any momentum it had. I have to wonder if NBC thought they could just sneak in the last three episodes, because I’ve seen so little marketing for the show’s return. Do they already consider it a failed experiment?

Either way, tonight featured a few advances in the story. Too few, but we’ll take what we can get. We have three basic plots that intersect:

[I can be your Heroes, baby...]

Fri
Nov 20 2015 4:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.10: “11:53 to Odessa"

With 3 episodes left in this “event” miniseries, we break for the holiday season being no closer to saving the world than when we began. Tommy is still without his memory or real allies, and Malina is stuck with our mass-murdering psycho, Luke. Okay, he’s reformed now, but I’m with Noah—no reason to trust this dude (though Zachary Levi is at least making me feel his pain).

“11:53 to Odessa” is more about moving pieces into place than pushing the story forward. That’s more than a bit frustrating after all the momentum of the flashback Odessa episodes.

So, where do we stand?

[Let's find out...]

Fri
Nov 13 2015 12:30pm

Heroes Reborn 1.09: “Sundae, Bloody Sundae”

Last week, I wished for more character development from the mustache-twirling villain of Heroes Reborn, Erica. I’m not sure viewers got that, but we sure got something.

In a scene straight out of Game of Thrones, Erica shot and killed a deer and was later seen butchering it.

I guess this was meant to show the depths of her commitment to letting the worldwide disaster take place and thus ensure the survival of a hand-picked number of the human race but it was so weirdly out of place that it colored what was mostly a fine episode.

Why did a deer decide to wander in front of Erica’s home? Why did she happen to have a rifle handy? Isn’t there a law against weapons discharge in a public place? And what the heck was the overall point of the scene, save to inspire me to a possible Erica/Tywin Lannister fanfic in my head? (They bond about irresponsible children and the joys of killing and butchering one’s own food.)

[She better lock her bathroom...]

Mon
Nov 9 2015 5:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.08: “June 13th – Part Two”

As I was watching the second part of “June 13th,” it occurred to me that the date has a double meaning, not just referring to the bombing, but also to Nathan and Malina’s birthday.

Given that these are the kids who will save the world, that’s not a coincidence.

I expected this second part to provide a number of answers to what’s gone before in this series. I had no expectations that it would include revelations on the level of the twins but, still, the episode managed to include several surprises and throw just enough confusion on the present that I wish I was binge watching the show rather than viewing it week-to-week.

Part 2 also provided some lovely character moments, including Noah mourning future Molly while past Molly is working with him, Otomo and Miko’s parting, and Hiro’s sacrifice for his newfound family.

What did we learn?

[Let's find out...]

Mon
Nov 2 2015 1:45pm

Heroes Reborn 1.07: “June 13th – Part One”

I had several theories about what would happen when Hiro and Noah went back in time to Odessa on June 13th.

One, I doubted they would stop the bomb. Two, I thought that Noah was the one who mind-wiped himself.  Three, I hoped Claire would be alive.

Right on one. Two remains to be seen but the Magic Eight-Ball tells me it’s likely. Three?

There, the show threw a total swerve.

Claire was dead. But she was pregnant. With twins. Which she died giving birth to.

These kids are totally Tommy/Nathan and Malina aka the kids who will save the world from epic catastrophe.

My next question: Who’s Daddy?

[And have we met him?]

Fri
Oct 23 2015 12:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.06: “Game Over"

“Game Over” was the best episode of the reboot so far, and not just because it reunited Noah and Hiro.

It’s because the storylines finally overlapped, collided, and the stakes became even higher. The fact that the two deaths this episode felt more like side issues is indicative of how much was packed into this hour. Halfway through the mini-series, all is in motion.

Noah and Quentin attacked the secret Renautus facility looking for answers after a little waterboarding of Harris. Ren and Miko also converged there after determining that’s the real world location for the person Miko must rescue. Of course, that person turns out to be Hiro, as speculated since the beginning.

[Welcome back!]

Fri
Oct 16 2015 3:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.05: “Lion’s Den”

Quick cuts between multiple plotlines seems to be one of the trends in episodic television, the theory being that viewers might forgot about one of the main cast members if they’re ignored for an episode or two. Or perhaps they’re worried viewers might tune out if the episode doesn’t focus on their favorite.

What’s lost is the ability to dig deeper into a character. Lost did this so well, memorably with the episode focused on Locke in season one, perhaps one of the best episodes of network television ever.

That’s the problem Heroes Reborn had for me last night. I was most invested in Noah, Quentin and Taylor’s attempt to confront Erica and Erica’s plans to commit genocide but that’s primarily because I’m invested in Noah from the previous incarnation of Heroes. Part of the reason I’m so invested is Noah? Because he received one of those spotlight episodes early on in that series.

For instance, take our Jedi and Padawan. The fact that I have to keep looking up their names (Farah and Malina) and instead refer to them as their function is a clue that they’re not fully realized characters. They’re plot devices with clichéd dialogue to toss out to the audience, like “When the moment comes, you will be ready, I promise.”

Once that line was said, I turned to my husband and said, “Well, that’s it. The mentor’s gone this episode.” And, of course, the pair was separated, with Farah’s fate in doubt, though the padawan has a mysterious letter with instructions about said saving of the world. Why these instructions couldn’t have been passed along during the trek in the Northwest woods is not made clear.

[That might have made more sense...]

Fri
Oct 9 2015 3:00pm

Heroes Reborn 1.04: “The Needs of the Many”

The visual of humans being hooked into part of some machine has become cliché. How do I know this? Because the Heroes Reborn scene last night immediately reminded me of similar scenes in two recent films.

One, in Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, is played as horror. The other, in The Lego Movie, is played for laughs.

Not having a big budget like Scorch Trials, Heroes Reborn went with a sterile white room. The reveal should have had emotional resonance, given Molly Walker’s self-sacrifice to avoid being cog in the Machine. Alas, I’ve seen it before.

When Heroes first arrived on television, it offered something different. Now, the world’s caught up to its stories. That’s crystal clear by the use of the word “inhuman” at the end of the show, the same word that’s being used to describe the people whose powers are evolving in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Forget the past, save the future” would be good advice for the show overall, because it seems too much of the same instead of going for something new.

I’ve enjoyed watching the revival but I remain uncertain what it has to say.

[And that's a slippery slope for a TV show to stand on...]

Fri
Oct 2 2015 11:00am

Heroes Reborn 1.03: “Under the Mask”

If the two-episode premiere was mostly setup, the third episode took those seemingly random plotlines and turned up the pressure. In the process, the show has started to overcome the problems that plagued the original series: cohesion and lack of forward momentum.

And this episode did it well enough to overcome the “people with powers hunted even though they didn’t do anything” trope. If the rest of the season retains this quality, I’ll be impressed and pleased.

I’ve been familiar with the above trope since I started reading X-Men comics in 1980 and mostly it bores me. Yet by the end of last night’s episode, I was at the edge of my seat, horrified by what happened to Molly Walker.  Kudos to Francesca Eastwood for making me care. (And, yes, she’s the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fischer.)

[She wasn't feeling lucky...]

Fri
Sep 25 2015 2:30pm

Heroes Reborn: Good Enough to Pull Viewers In

The first season of the original Heroes rightly became a phenomenon. It contained a cast full of appealing and multi-cultural characters, a central mystery, a freaky villain, and a wonderful finale that tied up all the disparate plot threads.

Alas, Season 2 arrived and instead of a continuation, it was more like a reset, as characters who’d grown instead reverted to where they were at the start of Season 1. I bailed at the end of this season with a sad sigh.

But I’m totally on board with a reboot that might fulfill the promise of the wonderful first season.

Does Heroes Reborn do that?

[Click through to find out!]

Tue
Jul 28 2015 1:00pm

The Essential Jim Gordon Stories, Or, When Gordon Became Batman

In the current storyline in DC’s Batman and Detective Comics, Jim Gordon’s shaved his mustache, ditched the overcoat, and done some serious body sculpting for his new job—the pilot of a new robotic Batman suit that is protecting Gotham, because the real Batman is feared dead from a final confrontation with the Joker.

I thought Jim Gordon had reached the height of popularity when an entire show, Gotham, was built around him.

No. Not even close.

Because now he’s Batman.

It’s quite a pinnacle for a character introduced in 1939, who stayed in the background for decades, and then was shown as an ineffective bumbler in the Batman (1966) television show.

[Every bat has its day...]

Wed
Jun 3 2015 3:00pm

Now That You’ve Watched Daredevil, Read These Comics

Daredevil’s thirteen-episode season was a non-stop crime noir thrill ride populated by characters that stayed with me long after my binge watch ended.

The bad news: a second season won’t happen until sometime in 2016.

The good news: the comics listed below will help pass the time until then. It’s no coincidence that the first four creative runs are similar to the television show. The television show drew heavily on these stories for inspiration for storylines, atmosphere, and characters.

The last run listed? It’s just pure comic fun that should be read anyway.

[Let's start at the beginning...]

Sun
May 31 2015 8:30pm

Fresh Meat: Stay by Victor Gischler

Stay by Victor Gischler is a thriller about a stay-at-home dad who must juggle his home life with his military past (available June 2, 2015).

Stay by Victor Gischler is the pulse-pounding story of a special operations officer defending his family from a mob conspiracy and a dangerous hit man from his past.

But what sets this book apart from the usual action tale is that the hero, David, is also a stay-at-home dad.

This contrast is what attracted me to the book. Stay delivered on that promise, with domestic scenes of getting kids to school mixed in with a minivan car chase, a tense sequence on a boat in the waters around Manhattan, and a climax at one of New York City’s conference hotels.

The story moved so quickly that I read the book in one sitting, as the bulk of the action takes place in one very long night in Manhattan, with only one small bit of respite as David recovers from his exertions on the boat.  

[Don't skip this quick hitting read!]

Thu
May 14 2015 2:30pm

Batman Eternal: The Only Gotham Story You Need

Setting is character. The iconic image of Batman on the rooftops of Gotham City, protecting his dark, violent world tells the reader all they need to know about what kind of person this masked man is.

The television show Gotham has, to mixed success, attempted to make the city as much of a character as any of its citizens, though it labors under the handicap of not being able to use Batman or any of the city’s costumed heroes.

For that, readers need Batman Eternal, a 52 chapter story published in weekly installments last year. This year-long story, written by all the talent currently writing the Batman books, creates and epic story about Gotham and all its myriad facets.

Batman Eternal features every aspect of Gotham: the mob, costumed heroes, the colorful villains, the GCPD, the press, and the supernatural corners that lurk in the darkness. While an ambitious a story with a large cast could seem intimidating to a newcomers, each plotline has a tentpole that hold the elements together and provides its own point of view the city and its citizens.

[You'll be tearing through the pages in no time...]

Tue
May 5 2015 4:55pm

Gotham Season Finale: 1.22: “All Happy Families Are Alike”

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz ) has so much to learn about his own parents./ courtesy FOX

It started, as the Batman legend does, with the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne in front of their young son, Bruce.

What Gotham promised to viewers in the premiere was a story about Jim Gordon’s fight to bring order to a chaotic city, Oswald Cobblepot’s quest to become Gotham’s crime lord, and Bruce Wayne’s dedication to finding justice, if not for his parents, for his city.

The season finale brought these plotlines full circle, with Gordon desperately trying to save Gotham from being a war zone, with Penguin confronting his rivals, with Selina possibly taking a step away from Bruce and to the dark side, and with Bruce and Alfred discovering part of his father’s legacy.

Unfortunately, the season-long journey to this point meandered, sometimes into utter ridiculousness. Promising ideas, such as Gordon recruiting detectives Allen and Montoya as allies, fizzled.  Penguin’s arc eventually stalled. Everyone but Bruce and Alfred forgot about solving the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

I wondered if the finale could possibly be good enough to redeeme the season and bring me back next year.

[Drum roll please...?]

Tue
Apr 28 2015 3:30pm

Gotham: 1.21 “The Anvil or the Hammer”

Barbara Kean in Detective Comics #500 / DC Comics

I know, a lot happened last night on Gotham, particularly the gang war set up for the finale of this season, but first, let’s talk about a character whose failure to become more than cardboard is indicative of Gotham’s overall failings.

In all her incarnations, Barbara Kean has never come off well. In the 1970s, she didn’t even have a name, she was simply Jim Gordon’s late wife and Barbara Gordon’s mother. She was finally given life by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano in 1981, in the classic “To Kill A Legend” story in Detective Comics #500.  (Brennert complained of receiving no compensation for co-creating Kean when Gotham added her to its list of characters.)

In Batman: Year One, Frank Miller wrote Kean as a long-suffering wife, a pale shade of Detective Sarah Essen, Gordon’s true love. Eventually, the elder Barbara died in a car accident. Sometimes Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon was her daughter, sometimes her niece. More recently, Kean was written as slightly mentally unbalanced due to terrorization by her firstborn, the unhinged Jim Gordon, Jr.

The first reports of Gotham cited Barbara Kean as a doctor, a definite step up in her characterization. I’m not sure what happened to that angle, but instead, we’ve gotten Barbara going from Jim’s supportive girlfriend to drug-addicted girlfriend of Detective Renee Montoya, to passively floating through life, to Selina’s fashion consultant, to outright victim.

Gotham 1.21: The Anvil or the Hammer, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, Milo Ventimiglia as Christian Grey, the Ogre

[She's pretty in pink...]