Sorting through the DVR: Animal Practice, Emily Owens M.D. bite the dust; Last Resort & Nashville get a season pass

Why can’t you be on a GOOD show? (Jordana Spiro & Zach Gilford)

Today NBC officially cancelled Animal Practice, but I cut it out of my DVR schedule two weeks ago.  Not only was it painfully not funny, but it was making me start to dislike two actors whom I normally like very much: JoAnna Garcia Swisher and Justin Kirk.  They deserve better.  Over the years I’ve learned the difference between giving new shows a chance and watching them despite the fact that I hate them.  So, after one episode Made in Jersey got the boot (both on my personal DVR and the CBS schedule) because it was just atrocious.  I tried to stick with Mob Doctor (another show that I was watching mostly due to the likability of Jordana Spiro and Zach Gilford) but after three episodes of crappy mob stories combined with even crappier cases of the week, I just couldn’t anymore.  Other shows that were swings and misses for me: 666 Park Avenue (which I found SO boring and slow), Emily Owens M.D. (which makes me so sad because Mamie Gummer is so great whenever she guests on The Good Wife but this show is no good), Revolution (which may have suffered for not having ANY actors that I wanted to watch and definitely suffered under the weight of Tracy Spiridakos’ bad acting) and (though I’m still watching because I’m pretty convinced it’s going to be canceled sooner rather than later and I want to get all the man-candy in while I can) Chicago Fire is just a glorified rip off of Third Watch which wasn’t great to begin with. Continue reading

Fringe: An Indelible Mark

Broyles and Olivia discover that John still has the lessons that Marjorie taught him, if not the actual memories of her.

You guys, I love this show so much.  What started out as a purely sci-fi creepy crawly fest has turned into something with depth and emotion and heart.  At the end of last night’s episode of Fringe, Broyles (on our side) tells Olivia that he believes “there are people who leave an indelible mark on the soul” and no other show has shown this in a more poetic way.  There have been other characters on other shows that go missing without a trace, and their presence is always felt, but never with the subtlety that Peter’s is felt right now.  Yes, Walter is having visions and hearing Peter’s voice, but beyond that, it’s the noticeable changes in Olivia and Walter as characters that are really interesting.  We see how Peter loving Olivia has softened her up and made her more vulnerable and open.

Dr. John reacts to the two Olivias.

On last night’s episode, Faux-livia and the Fringe division from the other side asked Olivia to help them with the case of a serial killer (we’ll call him Killer-John) who freezes his victims from the inside out.  The other side wants to bring our version of the serial killer, a psycological profiler and professor (we’ll call him Dr. John), to their side in order to get inside the killer’s mind.  It’s all kept very under wraps, they drug him before they take him across Peter’s bridge and make sure that he doesn’t see anything that would indicate where he is, but when he starts to see little clues that are the same as his life – a photograph of his father in particular – he freaks out and Olivia is forced to tell him the whole truth.  In doing so, we see one of the ways that Peter has affected her without her even being aware – she opens up to Dr. John about her abusive stepfather in a way that we have never seen her do before (even Faux-livia thinks it’s an act).

While I'm glad we have the red hair on Faux-livia to help tell them apart, Anna Torv's performance almost renders the wig unnecessary.

I am loving the contrast between our Olivia and Faux-livia.  Our Olivia is so fragile and quiet and cautious whereas Faux-livia is all bravado and ego and eye rolling.  The way that Anna Torv is portraying them is brilliant.  We can see their similarities and see them recognize certain things about themselves in each other, but also see the ways in which they are constantly surprised by how their other half acts and problem solves.  It is really subtle and yet totally clear.  (Sarah Michelle Gellar could learn a few things from Torv for her performance on Ringer.)  I also like seeing the way that the alternate versions of the fringe division react to one another – Alt-Lincoln telling Olivia that he knows she must hate being on their side because that’s how Faux-livia would feel – they know each other and yet don’t know each other.  I like watching them eye each other skeptically.

Faux-livia walks Dr. John through Killer John's house.

Dr. John can relate to Killer John because he has those feelings inside him as well (fantastic performance by John Pyper-Ferguson in the scene when he’s telling Olivia about relating to killer John).  He has the same urges to kill, to take people’s happiness, the same struggles to relate and yet, when he was a boy a woman found him and accepted him and taught him how to step into the light so Dr. John thinks that he can help Killer John, the alternate version of himself (and it was definitely an alternate version.  Dr. John got a chance to see what would have happened to him had he not run away from his abusive father and found Marjorie.  It was pretty powerful).

Killer John and Dr. John come face to face with their alternate realities

Killer John was jealous of Dr. John’s ability to “step into the light” so he hooked him up to his antifreeze machine (which also hooked into him; I think it allowed him to drain his victims of their happy feelings and feel them himself) and asked Dr. John to tell him about his happiest memories.  Only, in doing so, in taking in all of Dr. John’s experiences, he learned what Dr. John had learned that stopped him from becoming a serial killer: empathy.  And that empathy for his victims was too much for him to bare and he shot himself in front of Olivia (this is the second suicide on TV this week – the other was in Prime Suspect – can we please do away with this trend?).

Walter reenacting Steve Steigman's "Blown Away" poster while trying to drown out Peter.

The draining left Dr. John without memories of his little trip to the other side or Marjorie.  Killer John sucked them out of his mind.  But what she taught him, about stepping into the light and feeling compassion and empathy, that stayed with him.  Which is what led Broyles to his statement about people leaving imprints on our souls.  It’s these subtle reminders that Peter is there, somewhere in all of the people he touched when he “existed” that I love.  I’m not as big a fan of what’s going on with Walter – hearing and seeing visions of Peter – but at the same time, I find it intriguing that the more that Walter tries to shut him out, the louder and more prominent Peter gets.  Like Walter’s inability to believe in him makes his presence stronger.  I don’t know why that’s striking me, but it really does.

 

“Kennedy, help me.” – Walter   ”Lincoln!” – Lincoln Lee.  Total LOL moment.

Fringe: My weekly dose of gross returns

EWWWWW!

All this week, I’ve found myself feeling very tepid about the return of some of my favorite shows from the past few seasons.  That all ended Friday with the return of Fringe.  I had butterflies in my stomach as Olivia and Faux-livia exchanged fringe division files across the bridge that Peter created between their universes.  The action this week was set in our universe and we got the return of Lincoln Lee (who I know showed up on our side at some point but I can’t for the life of me remember when it was) whose FBI partner was killed by a sort of translucent guy and it’s SO awesomely gross.  You can see his bones and blood vessels through his skin!  SO cool.  In the end the fringe division discovers that the translucent people are actually a new form of shape shifters.  No need to plug these guys into the wall, though I’m not quite sure I understand how they work.

Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) follows Olivia (Anna Torv) after she tries to give him the brush off at his partner's murder scene.

The case leads Lincoln to Olivia and fringe division where he is initiated into those “in the know”.  Overall, Lincoln is fairly calm about the whole thing, only really freaking out when he realizes that fringe division is telling the victims’ families that their loved one is missing instead of giving them the closure they need by telling them that they’re dead.  (This led to my favorite line of the night.  From Walter:  ”People die.  It happens.  Sometimes they even die twice.”)  I think I really like Lincoln.  I will hate him if he comes between Peter and Olivia, but right now, I like him.  He’s got principles.  And in the end, he proves to be an asset to the team, bringing a new sort of out of the box thinking with him.  I liked the way that Olivia matter of factly showed him the ropes not only in the lab, but on the bridge between the worlds.  It was so simple and shocking and yet not all at the same time.

The observer shops for some "Peter erasing" materials but ultimately doesn't use them.

There was a lot of talk of holes in lives and missing pieces and there were flickerings of “Peter” every now and then.  Those flickers lead the observer who saved Peter when he was a boy to create a device that will erase him from time entirely.  Poor Walter is all alone (Olivia makes the best observation, saying that he’s not always there because he never had anything to tether him to the world) and living in the lab.  In the end, the observer does not actually use the device, looking saddened by the idea of definitively erasing Peter, which gives me hope that Peter will return quickly.  I am also emboldened by the fact that Walter is seeing visions of Peter in mirrors and televisions.  Come back to us Peter!

Critics Choice Television Award Nominees Announced

Can Cat Deeley make the inaugural Critics Choice Television Awards seem relevant? I guess it's worth a shot.

TV doesn’t have near as many award shows as film.  But never fear, the Broadcast Critics Association is jumping on that bandwagon and filling up the holes left by the Emmys myopic presentation.  The inaugural Critics Choice Television Awards will be presented on June 20th and streamed live on VH1.com (and aired on ReelzChannel on June 22nd).  Cat Deeley is set to host, which is an excellent decision as she is, by far, the best reality host currently on the air.  The nominees are an almost embarrassment of riches and definitely seem to skew outside of the typical Emmy/Golden Globe nominees which is refreshing.  I’m not surprised.  Critics are far more likely to actually think about who they are nominating rather than going with rating trends or shows that are popular in the media.  Hopefully the winners will be a little varied and new.  However, being a new award, the Critics Choice Television Awards may not hold much weight and could just end up meaning less than nothing for the nominees and winners.  These things take time to gain importance.  Will these awards be a precurser to the Emmy nominees (which are released on July 16th)?  I think I’d be ok with it if they are.  The nominees are after the jump. Continue reading

Fringe Season Finale – Wait, Where’s Peter?

Future Peter and Olivia: still adorable (Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv)

Last week’s penultimate episode of Fringe ended with Peter waking up in the middle of a war zone sometime in the future full head of hair in tact (Joshua Jackson will be very lucky if he ages as well in real life).  While I as shocked and in awe of the turn of events, I was also a little bummed that the writers were falling back on jump into the future trope that so many other shows have been doing lately (Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters, there are others).  I have been so consistently impressed with Fringe’s imagination and innovation and the whole future thing feels done.  Well, last night’s season finale restored my faith. Continue reading

Fringe Starts the Machine

Walternate and Brandonate (John Noble and Ryan MacDonald) start the machine.

Every time we get a glimpse of the other universe on Fringe I wonder if I would have so much disdain for the alternate versions of our heroes if the whole story had been told from their perspective.  I mean, Walternate is Walter, but with an ice cold demeanor that just makes him so creepy.  I wonder if we had learned his story first, would I be so creeped out?  Yes.  Yes, I would.  He’s creepy.  God, even Brandonate is creepy and evil.  I have grown to like Fauxlivia a bit, but I think most of that has to do with the fact that she’s a mother now and I can’t be mad at her for that.  She definitely showed that she is capable of love when she was in our world and I sort of feel bad that Walternate is using her like a puppet the way he is.

Olivia and Nina (Anna Torv and Blair Brown) confer regarding the machine.

So Walternate and Brandonate used the tiny blood sample from Fauxlivia’s son to extract Peter’s DNA and turn the machine on.  The first thing the machine did was make a rancher, his right hand man and a whole herd of sheep disappear.  Nina’s panic that the machine came on was pretty unnerving.  If there’s one thing that Nina has always brought to this show it has been a calm, rational center in the middle of all of the weird alternate universe stuff.  If she’s freaked out, you know it has to be bad.  Because the machine “turned on by itself” everyone assumed that Peter was no longer necessary to turn it on – of course, they don’t yet know that Peter has a son. Continue reading

Fringe: Animated and High on LSD (Updated)

A new addition to the Fringe worlds - Inside Olivias mind.

I think last night’s episode of Fringe was perhaps its riskiest, most romantic installment to date.  In a way, it was a sort of hero’s quest to find and rescue Olivia from herself.  The story told in this episode was complex and yet told with a simplicity that this show doesn’t often use.  There have definitely been past episodes of Fringe that have left me more confused than I like to admit, but this episode made total sense within the universe the writers have created.  It all added up to a story that was powerful, sweet, dynamic and that moved the story of the season forward just enough to keep me completely hooked. Continue reading

Fringe: “A Compassionate Soul Vampire”

The "Fringe" team

Before I get into this week’s episode, I’d like to point your attention to an article that ran in last week’s Entertainment Weekly extolling the virtues of Fringe.  It comes from a place of true passion and devotion and states everything good about this show in a clear, concise way.  Hopefully, if you’re not already watching this show (shame on you!) it will get you to give it a try.  In a way, I wish I could watch Fringe with new eyes and see each episode without the knowledge of the ones before them in order to be able to tell you why its so good from that perspective, but I can’t.  All I can say is that I’ve been a dedicated viewer of Fringe since the beginning and each week it gets deeper and more interesting and more impressive in its storytelling and characterizations.  It has been a worthy commitment in my opinion and one I’m glad I’ve made. Continue reading

Faux-livia Bugs Out on “Fringe”

Fringe gets gross. (Those bugs ate their way out of that guy!)

First of all, one of my favorite things about Fringe is how gross it can be and this week’s episode was no exception.  Did you see those bugs eating their way out of their host humans?  Totally gross.  And totally awesome.  I am also loving the alternate universe plot and the way the three actors with characters in both universes are handling it.  Despite the fact that the original and alternate versions of these characters grew up in completely different universes, they still come from the same DNA.  It’s an interesting case of nature vs. nurture and each actor’s take on that debate is really great to watch.

Not only does Faux-livia smile more, she has red hair (vs. Olivia's blonde).

Anna Torv plays Olivia in our world as closed off, timid when it comes to emotions, and yet totally fearless when it comes to her job.  Faux-livia, on the other hand, is quicker to smile, more willing to let herself make emotional connections and in general just more open.  As the two worlds get closer and cross each other more often, Torv has started playing Faux-livia closer to the vest and making Olivia almost raw to the touch.  There are beautifully subtle differences in the way she looks at each world that may seem imperceptible but give each character her own personality.  I still think Faux-livia is oddly jarring and insincere whereas our Olivia is overly cautious but somehow that makes me love her more.  Our Olivia needs a hug.  Faux-livia needs to be shoved out a window. Continue reading