POV USA - 23/10/2006
Welcome to the "second" "week" of POV USA, and things have taken a drastic slump, as your reviewer (that's me) has completely given up on one show and failed to watch the last episodes of another. Well done, me.
Still, things are going improve in a matter of weeks - and I promise I'll stop moaning about this at some point - when I actually get my own broadband connection at home.
Six Degrees: S01E03 - A New Light & S01E04 - The Puncher
I didn't even bother with this. I know this is appalling behaviour on my part, but various factors contributed to my failure to keep space with Six Degrees, the main one being this show's unmitigated shitness. I'll be picking it up again before the Christmas break, though, as I'm a glutton for punishment. And chips, I'm a glutton for chips, too. And pasties.
Heroes: S01E03 - One Giant Leap
Right, one show dropped and unfortunately I've also fallen behind with the excellent Heroes, as episode 5 is airing tonight and I've only seen up to 3, but never mind.
Anyway, episode 3 continues to build up the interest considerably. We're still getting to know these characters, so the main bulk of the episodes still don't feel like they're fully in their stride as many of our characters are still pottering about not doing a great deal of interesting things. Nathan and Peter Petrelli (the flying brothers) are a good example of this. So far, Nathan is buzzing around his politician brother waffling on about being able to fly, where as Peter is trying his best to keep quiet about it, so as not to affect his chances of winning a Congress election. Which is fine, fair enough, but their relationship is just not interesting in the slightest and neither character really sets the screen alight. Tiresome "but you are my brother you must listen to me", "yes, but our mother - who is both our mother for we are brothers - is a cleptomaniac and is ruining my chances of being election, o brother of mine", "but brother, we can fly, we are flying brothers, you are my brother and we can both fly, can't you see?" is getting a little... well... tired.
And so, let's talk about Hiro. Hiro, one of the few characters who has so far elevated this show from ok to great. His wide-eyed, yelping enthusiasm and infectious excitement is a joy, and the fact that he has BY FAR the coolest power doesn't harm his cause, either. At the end of the day, if you can bend space and time then you're always going to be ace. Anyway, Hiro has now neatly set off one of the early story arcs after his brief jaunt into the future and the witnessing of both the gruesome death of Isaac Mendez (premonition artist man) and the detonation of a nuclear bomb in down-town New York. He knows he needs to stop this and he's doing just that, with his best mate on tow. Fascinatingly, Hiro still has his comic book from the future, and so his current activities are all documented and available to him which raises some interesting questions about self fulfilling prophesies, and whether he'd even be doing all these things (such as saving a little girl from a messy death - a death she would've been in no risk of if it wasn't for Hiro's involvement, anyway - or jumping on a plane and heading for America) if he didn't have his comic telling him that he's destined to do these things.
But so far these episodes have been basically ever-so-slightly dull build ups to some absolutely mind blowing cliff hangers. Last week we saw a nuclear detonation on American soil... and this week we join our cheerleader Claire after an incident with a sexually aggressive jock type person, which led to her being impaled through the head on a spike. By now we know she's invincible, so when this happened I didn't think anything of it... I thought that at best she's get up and seriously freak Jock-boy out with her healing routine. BUT NO. Instead they cut to her pulling the piece of wood out of head, apparently some time after the inclident... and then the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal she was on an autopsy table. Sans organs. SANS ORGANS.
Apart from being both equally super cool and utterly DISGUSTING, this is a very interesting plot point. Until now, however, I was under the impression that her powers extended to just healing. The fact that she can still be alive without the presence of any of the vital organs raises huge questions as to the true nature of her abilities. What is it that keeps her alive? Is it her brain? Can she be killed if her brain is sufficiently destroyed? Is she destined to live forever? And isn't this quite a major ability to have considering she's meant to be the first step in a new phase of evolution? Anyway, needless to say I'm more than a little interested to see how they resolve that one, especially considering that everyone will think - nay KNOW - she's dead. Apart from sinister dad, that is...
Anyway, phew, all this and I've not even mentioned Mark Parkmann, the cop with the power of telepathy. Last time we saw him he was on the scene of the latest gristly Sylar murder and doing a damn good job of letting his powers incriminate him. The arresting officer, who's clearly eager to please her superiors, seems to believe his story and signs him up to assist her in her FBI investigations. Interestingly, they seem to kill Sylar in their first mission together, which is interesting as we know that a Sylar type killing happens in 5 days time... I think it's safe to assume he's not actually dead. I'm so good at predictions.
7/10 - The twists are getting better and better, but the episodes still feel like they're simply not doing enough and could possibly be relying on those cliffhangers a bit too much.
Episode 5 - 'Hiros' will air in the US on Monday 23rd October - episode 4 and 5 will be covered in the next edition of POV USA.
Lost: S03E02 - Glass Ballerina & S01E03 - Further Instructions
Oh, Lost give me some of that sweet, sweety candy. You make everything better with your unique brand of WTF and I am delighted that you exist. Kiss me.
There are two episodes to cover this week, so I'll try to curb my rambling as much as possible, but with two excellent episodes such as this, it's going to be tough. Anyway, episode 2 - The Glass Ballerina - was Jin and Sun centric and took on the task of following our intrepid sailors Sayid, Jin and Sun, as they slowly realise that Jack and co. could well be in the shit. Meanwhile, we see more of the shenanigans from everyone's favourite captives, as Sawyer and Kate are put to work, like the dogs they are. Aside from pointless speculating on why they're breaking up rocks and moving them a very small distance, the most significant information to come from these scenes, is that Alex Rousseau (daughter of stir crazy lady Danielle and The Others' former kipnapee) seems to be in the throws of descent. It's been hinted at in the past, but her link to Carl (last seen in a cage next to Sawyer) almost confirms this. She's a rebellious teenager, and it seems obvious that at one point she's going to join the Losties. Other than that, Sawyer got some lip smacking hot action with Kate, and has apparently managed to size up The Other's weaknesses during the violent beating he subsequently endured. It's clear that these two are going to have an escaping opportunity soon, but whether they go for Jack could well be another matter.
Back to Jin and Sun, and the main theme seems to be that Sun is a lying, deceitful HARLOT. This sits very uncomfortably with me, as I'd always seen Sun as a shining beacon of lovely perfection, but ever since we learnt of her pregnancy in 2x16 - The Whole Truth - there's been this niggling feeling about her fidelity. Sure enough, the flashbacks reveal that she's been getting down and dirty with the Korean Lex Luthor, and this eventually led to her father finding out. Ouch. Her father, Mr. Kwon (head of the Paik Heavy Industries which has ties with the Hanso Foundation and the DHARMA initiative - spooky), orders Jin (completely unaware of the affair) to kill the shiny topped Lothario, which eventually leads to the suicide of the aforementioned Korean Harry Hill. Double ouch. All this unpleasantness is set the backdrop of The Other's thwarting an ambush attempt from Sayid and Jin, and Sun shooting an Other right in the GUTS, which was ace.
Writing out that brief synopsis really makes me realise what a nice, tightly plotted episode it is, and it's something I noticed in episode 1, too. It wasn't mind blowing, but everything slotted together really nicely, we got some excellent character development and the flashbacks were actually relevant to the main island plot, which is something that season 2 did tend to fail on. However, it is true that it would've been more of a mediocre episode had it not been for the last scene, which probably ranks as one of the best endings to an episode on the show so far. Ben's natter with Jack was *very* revealing, and we learn that The Other's clearly know what's going on in the outside world, and this was clearly shown to Jack in the form of a video of the Boston Red Sox winning the world series in October 2004. This is a final confirmation that the events on the Island appear to be set in 2004, and their current time-line is in November 2004. Also - and this is truly fascinating - Ben Linus (formerly Benry, formerly Faux Henry Gale) has lived on the island all his life... Assuming DHARMA appeared on the island in the late 70s/early 80s, this would mean that he pre-dates them! This character just gets better and more interesting every minute he's on the screen.
Episode 3, Further Instructions, finally gets round to showing us what happened to the excellent trio of Mr. Eko, Locke and Desmond after their Swan Hatch implosion. That, coupled with the fact it was co-written by the equally excellent Carlton Cuse and features Locke flashbacks, meant I was expecting a significant episode. Personally, I wasn't disappointed.
If I was to find fault with anything, it would be the fact that we have no idea how Desmond and Locke were thrown clear of the hatch apparently unharmed, whilst Eko was not, and I think a nice flashback wouldn't have gone amiss. Having said that Lost has not left me cold with *any* of it's resolutions to mysteries, so I have faith that we will get an answer and a satisfying one at that. A bold claim, I know, but I have faith in The Island. Having said that, Locke's muteness did seem a little odd, as it didn't really last all that long, nor was it really explained why he was suffering from it.
It has to be said that this episode really felt very off kilter. Lost has given us different feeling episodes in the past, but none have quite left me feeling quite as disorientated as this did, most probably because of the excellent dream sequence, induced by Locke. Ian Somerhalder returned almost a year after his last appearance as Boone, as he acted as Locke's escort through an airport departure lounge. There was a huge amount of foreshadowing going on here (Boone seemed to speak with a knowing authority about the status of many of the Losties), as Locke tries to figure out who needs 'saving', which turns out to be Eko.
The scenes up to and including when Locke finally locates and saves Eko from the jaws of a polar bear were utterly ace, with some impressive shots of the imploded hatch and surrounding crater showing some impressive location work, as well as the lovely cave in which Eko is finally located. It's been a while since Lost has given truly excellent one-off locations like that (except for perhaps the false fishing villiage), as time and money are hugely tight, so it's refreshing to see something different from week to week.
Unfortunately, the CG limitations are all too obvious in the polar bear scenes, and the cut aways to the snarling, obliviously modeled, beast really jarred badly. Obviously something like this is harder to do than, say, the stunning plane crash in A Tale of Two Cities, but they managed more convincing effect than this in the bear's previous appearances, so I can't help but feel it could've been directed much better to render it a little more effective.
Meanwhile, the flashbacks reveal that Locke continued through his life to be a big gullible FOOL, as he allows an undercover police officer to infiltrate his newly found hippy commune/weed growing 'family'. As with TGB, the flashbacks really feel part of the episode, in a way that hasn't always been achieved in the past, and in this case we have the running theme of John being a hunter, so we see how we 'became' a hunter as part of the commune and re-birth back into a hunter on the island. It's a crucial turning point and see the start of an exciting sounding rescue operation to The Others' camp. Get in!
And that leaves Desmond. Not a great deal happening with him this week, except highly entertaining conversations with Hurley (who, suspiciously, was the only one to talk to him) and a fascinating bit of foreshadowing as he predicts Locke's rescue speech before it is made. This is an interesting development, especially considering the hints given by producers about time not being quite what it seems on The Island... Personally, I'm just pleased another sci-fi element has been chucked into the mix.
This episode also finally saw the introduction of 2 new characters, in the shape of Paulo and Nikki. Now, I realise it must be hard to introduce two new characters like this, especially since we're supposed to believe they've been among the survivors all this time, but these two waltzing in to the scene when Locke, Hurley and Desmond arrive back at the camp was seriously jarring. This wasn't really helped with wholly unsubtle acting from Kiele Sanchez especially. I hope things improve with these tow new regulars, or I may start wishing for a couple new murders...
Only 3 more episodes to go until the 3 month winter break (GAH), so I fully expect things to hot up soon in readiness for some suitably excellent cliff-hanger.
8/10 - The standard was more than maintained in episode 2 and taken up a notch in episode 3, but still seems desperate to break free of it's chains and get properly exciting.
Episode 4 - 'Every Man For Himself' will air in the US on Wednesday 25th October - this episode will be covered in the next edition of POV USA.
And the winners are...
After last week's star studded ceremonies, POV USA's awards continue into a blinding second edition. No free booze.
Show Of The Week: Lost
Character Of The Week: Hiro (Heroes): Wide-eyed, over excited enthusiasm, coupled with Doctor Who style SKILLZ. This character is just pure class.
The 'What A Load Of Old Arse' Of The Week: Six Degrees, simply because I couldn't be BOTHERED.
The 'Actor Most Trapped In a Wet Paper Bag' Of The Week: Kiele Sanchez and Rodrigo Santoro: An awkward introduction to Lost, and not helped by shakey acting.
Honourable Mention: Yunjin Kim (Lost): An excellent performance in The Glass Ballerina, handling a significant development for the character with style.
More Lost! More Heroes! And I think I'll get round to The Office, too.