iZombie Season Finale: Oops

publicity still from iZombie
iZombie aired its season finale on June 9 and although titled Blaine’s World, it could just as easily been called Oops. It is not just Liv who makes mistakes, there are a number of characters who misjudge the situation and this miscalculation gets em in the rear, like Blaine when Liv injects him in the nether regions with Ravi’s cure toward the end of the episode. Ultimately, the heroine herself is the victim of her own impulses by the time the credits roll and the audience can only shake their head and wonder at the irony of it all.

Since Liv discovered in the previous episode that the cure seemed to be working in the last lab rat, she has been fighting off the urge to take the remaining two doses. While the show’s main plot deals with Major in danger and Cameron stupidly selling the thumb drive back to Vaughn Du Clark, the other plot threads are Liv’s desire to take the remaining dose of Ravi’s cure, Peyton’s vanishing act, Du Clark’s next move in his marketing of Max Rage and Evan Moore’s working at Meat Cute.

The police follow Cameron’s false trail, where he pretends to fear for his life while selling back the thumb drive only to discover that he really is in danger of dying and the cops learn what Du Clark was so desperate to hide. When the police grab Cameron, they find out that he murdered Nate and Teresa and that he did make a copy of the thumb drive, despite what he told the red head in the green dress.

Liv goes down to tell Ravi what she and Clive learned from the thumb drive and he is not there. She watches the cured zombie-rat drinking water and Ravi calls. He is concerned about Major and Liv learns that Peyton has still not shown up. She sends a text to Major, telling him that the brains he gave her are monkey brains.

DeBeers’ flunky intercepts the text and he realizes where his astronaut brains are. Liv has one of the two doses in her hand preparing to inject herself when Blaine calls her to demand his brains back. She takes the astronaut brains to DeBeers in exchange for Lilywhite, the villain gives her a hooded man that is supposed to be Major and it is not.

In the meantime, her fiancee has escaped from the freezer, collected his newly purchased guns and grenade, and turned Meat Cute into a blood-soaked scene of retribution. Blaine returns and plants a knife in Major’s stomach, leaving him to die slowly in front of the recently vacated freezer and goes to stop the music. As he turns around Liv shoots him in the side.

After a brief interaction, where he tells Major that Liv is a zombie, she injects DeBeers with the cure hoping that he dies. She then scratches the dying Major turning him into a zombie. The show moves into irony mode when her brother Evan comes to work at the shop just as Lt. Suzuki blows the place up to plant and alter evidence at the crime scene.

Liv gives Major the last of the cure and gets a call from her mother from the hospital. She learns that Evan needs a blood transfusion or he will die and she is the only match for his rare O negative blood type. Since she did not take the cure Liv cannot provide the needed blood. As her mother’s voice fades in telling her to follow the doctor, the camera zooms in for a close up as Liv says no.

iZombie delivers a season finale that takes the audiences’s breath away. The whole episode is full of those moments where bad or impulsive decisions come back to haunt the individual who makes them. Liv has the biggest “oops” moment when she learns that wasting the cure on DeBeers was a big mistake, perhaps almost as much as her giving the cure to Major, and that this will cost her brother his live.

The big question here is…Will she scratch Evan? Even more importantly should she?

11 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Stitchers: Episode Two (Recap/Review)

ABC LogoAs Stitchers moves further into the first season with episode two, things are starting to come together. Although there is still a feeling that the series is rushing, by the end of this segment, Kirsten agrees very quickly to become a more permanent part of the program after being “lied” to.

The the full article at Viral Global News…

Wayward Pines: The Prisoner Updated?

Wayward Pines banner
Coming late to the Wayward Pines party, the first thought after watching the premiere episode is that this show is an updating of the superlative, and before its time, British series The Prisoner, “Who is number one?” Starring the intense and brilliant Irish actor, director and producer Patrick McGoohan. In some ways the only thing missing from Wayward Pines is the big plastic balloon-like ball which used to chase down and capture the odd “inmate” from the village who managed to get past its boundaries and almost escape.

*It should be pointed out that The Prisoner was remade in 2009 and released as a six episode mini-series. It was met with a mixed critical reception, much like the original 1960s series.*

This Fox series is not just The Prisoner revisited though. There are hints of Twin Peaks, American Horror Story and Cape Wrath, aka Meadowlands in the US throughout the show’s plot and if one looks hard enough, more off-beat and odd television show’s may be spotted like Eureka or even at a stretch The Stepford Wives film.

Of course, Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke is this show’s version of Number Six. In the 1960s show, the “agent” is someone who has opted to get out of the system. His “defection,” which is in fact a resignation, is not allowed; hence his incarceration in the quaint yet disturbing village. As far as we know Burke has not tried to leave his organization. He has had some sort of meltdown after failing to stop a bombing where over 600 innocent people died. His Secret Service Agent is mired in a world of guilt, regret and pathos.

A car accident leaves him injured and disoriented in the “town” (village) of Wayward Pines. As he stumbles about, after checking himself out of the deserted hospital, it becomes apparent that this place is not what it seems. By the end of the show, he has learned that the area is surrounded by a tall, seemingly never ending, electric fence with signs that warn death is imminent if the boundary is crossed.

As this first episode shows, Burke’s life is pretty screwed up from the word go. His guilt, from failing to stop the bomber and his affair with a partner who is thought to be missing has consumed him. Discovering that she is in Wayward Pines, along with the dead tortured Secret Service agent who is also missing, Burke learns that this town is a prison where people listen to what is happening and questioning things can be fatal.

“There are no crickets in Wayward Pines,” says the back of a bar bill that Juliette Lewis’ character, Beverly, hands Ethan in the Biergarten. Of course the same slip of paper has an address where he finds the other missing agent dead and decomposing. Later in the episode, Burke hears crickets and leans towards the foliage where the sound is emanating. He discovers a metal box and this is responsible for the cricket “sound effects.”

After leaving the hospital Burke tries to call home twice and leaves messages for his wife. Away from the town, the Secret Service tell Theresa Burke (Shannyn Sossamon) that her husband is missing and that there was no sign that he was even in the car at the scene of the accident. By the end of the show Mrs. Burke checks the answer machine and it holds no messages from her husband.

Thus far Wayward Pines is four episodes into its first season and looks very promising. Binge watching will allow the viewer to catch up on events and see just how strange things may turn out. The cast includes the superb Juliette Lewis and English actor Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Hunger Games) and Terence Howard (Iron Man, Empire) and of course Matt Dillon as Burke.

Show creator Chad Hodge has come up with an interesting show that appears to borrow from a few existing examples of the weird and wonderful. Producer M. Night Shyamalan directed this first episode and has obviously set the tone for the rest of the first season, which may still turn into an updating of The Prisoner. Time will tell whether this new show finds the audience it deserves.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Between Episode 3: Here There be Tygers

Between Tumblr page headerThe third episode of Between, titled Crossing Lines, could just as easily been called Here There be Tygers. Since the Stephen King short story has to do with school children and fear of the unknown, also a tiger, and the opening sequence of this week’s show features a “man” eating tiger. Of course the brilliant shot of the youngster’s blood stained shoe was never beaten in the rest of the episode or the series for that matter, but the feline predator does make an appearance later on in this show.

This week has Chuck gunning for Ronnie, literally, since he believes that Lana was murdered by the drug pusher of Pretty Lake. It also has a contrite, at first, Wiley thanking Adam for saving her life. This feeling of gratitude does not last long and changes to anger when, saving her life once again, Adam inadvertently blows up the girl’s money.

The kids of the quarantined town have learned that burning the bodies got them nothing but video coverage on the news. The Prime Minister shows the footage and then reveals that there is something in the air at Pretty Lake so, despite the promise made last week, the fence will stay up. Not long after this announcement the power goes out.

Meanwhile Ronnie asks Stacey, who is having an affair with him, to tell her boyfriend Chuck that he did not kill Lana as he was with her when it happened. She refuses at first and then relents. The two head to town and the second they see Chuck, and his armed goons, she hits Ronnie and lies to Chuck.

Back at the farm, Frannie has been left to milk and feed the cattle on her own. Gord leaves to stop Chuck from killing Ronnie. In a stand-off at the Creeker’s residence, the power is cut and Chuck’s boys all begin firing. Gord is hit and ends up staying in town overnight. The tiger finds its way to the farm and Frannie. She has a life and death confrontation with the animal and emerges the winner.

Adam and Wiley decide to cut the fence and escape now that the power is off. Finding a section with no guards, he makes an opening and they crawl through. Spotting a sign that warns of a minefield, the two stop. She wants to chance it and Adam throws Wiley’s backpack into the field. The instant the bag hits the ground it explodes in a shower of damaged money.

By the end of the episode, Adam and Wiley have gone their separate ways and Chuck has jettisoned his cheating, lying girlfriend. Amanda fesses up to setting the supermarket on fire and Mark finally shows up, driving a beer truck and declaring that he is Santa Claus.

Since Ronnie has been cleared of Lana’s murder, it will surely be only a matter of time before accusatory fingers begin pointing Merk’s way. Wiley has decided to grab the baby and leave her older sister to look after the other children. In a way, the title of Crossing Lines is quite apt. Everyone, it seems, spent the entire episode crossing those boundaries that should be left alone. Although the tiger allegory is also omnipresent in show as well.

It should be mentioned that the best bits of the show were the ones with the tiger in. Especially the battle between the animal and Frances.

There really has not been a whole lot of improvement overall and the show may never make it to a second season. None of the characters are that likable so far and as pointed out before the story has not been set up very well. Still, this is one of those shows that fits the bill if there is absolutely nothing else on the telly.

5 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

iZombie Episode 12 (Recap/Review)

promotional poster for iZombie
Before going into just what happened in episode 12 of iZombie, we must take a moment to thank horror author Michael West who mentioned this brilliant series via a Facebook post. Thanks Michael, this comic book based show on CW is full of topical jokes, pop culture references and on top of all that, zombies. Win, win, super win.

Read the full article at Viral Global News…

‘Stitchers’ ABCs Answer to Scorpion?

Promotional still from Stitchers
It may seem a bit unfair to maintain that ABCs Stitchers is the network’s answer to, or version of, Scorpion especially since the premiere has apparently taken several things from other shows as well. Scorpion, with its cast of socially inept geniuses, including the real life leader of the group Walter O’Brien (played by Elyes Gabel), is the closest match in terms of characters. It could also be said to borrow heavily from The Bridge with its “autistic” female lead, played very well by Diane Kruger, who is another social inept because of her mental issues.

Stitchers stars a group of relative newcomers with Allison Scagllioti (Warehouse 13, Redemption) being the most senior member of the cast in terms of experience. Emma Ishta (I Smile Back, Manhattan Love Story) is the incredibly attractive lead, Kirsten who suffers from “temporal dysplasia” which does not seem to really exist at least not according to Google. In the series it is an inability to sense time and also appears to prevent the individual suffering this mental problem unable to “feel” normal emotions, e.g. love, despair, grief, et al. There is a similar affliction which is a common symptom of ADHD but that is not mentioned in the show.

After the premiere’s teaser, or open, we meet Kirsten who is being accused by her housemate Camille (Scagllioti) of tampering with her PHD project. Unsurprisingly, Camille is also a brilliant student, again along the lines of Scorpion, with its genius level IQ cast of characters, and as Kirsten cannot prove her innocence she is suspended from the PHD program until she can be cleared.

She is approached by the local police about her “father” who apparently killed himself. She claims he was murdered, but never really explains why she knows this. After Camille suggests, sarcastically, that Kirsten should hack the police computer via the Head Instructor’s office computer which she then does, the temporal dysplasia suffering PHD student is kidnapped.

The upper graduate learns that her abductors are a “secret” government agency that puts or “stitches” someone’s consciousness into the brain of a recently deceased individual to pull out memories and help solve crimes. Not just who murdered the victim but, as in the first episode’s plot, other information that can solve other problems/crimes.

Ayo, the head of this secret agency’s LA branch (played by Sola Bamis) recruits Kirsten and the man who runs the stitchers program, Cameron (Kyle Harris) immediately fills the slot reserved for a “will they, won’t they” type interaction.

While the overall plot may seem new, it does appear to borrow from a lot of other shows, at least two of which were Eliza Dushku vehicles; Dollhouse and Tru Calling especially the latter show where the recently deceased were aided by the show’s heroine.

As mentioned above, the CBS summer replacement show Scorpion is the most obvious influence on the series as all the incredibly intelligent leads are socially inept, although heavier on the geek ratio, “Star log date…” It also seems to borrow a little from Prometheus where scientists “trick” the decapitated head of an alien into believing it is still alive in order to harvest its memories.

The show even appears to borrow from Avatar to a degree in that the protagonist enters another’s consciousness via similar methods as in the James Cameron film. This show could still prove to be entertaining and interesting enough to revisit as the season continues. Certainly all the main actors are attractive and if the writers can control their attempts at clever topical and pop culture references the series could be successful.

After all, who does not want to watch a beautiful blonde heroine waltz about in a skin-tight “cat-suit?” Joking aside, it would be nice to see more of Scagllioti, and not in a cat-suit sort of way, as this actress was brilliant in Warehouse 13. Yet, another “time will tell” new show that may not overcome their apparent lack of originality. Stitchers airs on June 2 on ABC Family.

30 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Aquarius: David Duchovny in Search of Manson

Promo shot of Aquarius

Period drama used to mean anything that dealt with the time of Jane Austin, pantaloons, Mr. Darcy and Tara. With the long running success of AMC’s Mad Men, it now seems that the 1960s has replaced the earlier horse drawn romantic boilers. Consider, if you will, that the only other period piece to come from AMC, apart from Halt & Catch Fire set in the 1980s (which some people must like since it has come back for a second season) is the network’s nod to patriotism Turn: Washington’s Spies which is another of those dismal attempts to look back at America’s Revolutionary War which has also been brought back, rather inexplicably, for another season. Aquarius, stars David Duchovny as the “hip” detective in search of Charlie Manson “pre-Helter Skelter.

Once again, the 1960s have been revisited and unlike Mad Men, which really celebrated the “good old days of endless cigarettes and three martini lunches,” Aquarius looks at the more unpleasant side of the time. Sure this was the era of “free love” dropping acid and “tuning out and turning on” but it also had the Black Panthers militaristic movement, enough racial prejudice and hatred to sink a far few battleships and the “establishment” vs the hippies.

In one scene, the undercover narcotics officer, referred to as a “Narc” (and you will really show your age if that term means anything to you at all), becomes an underling for Detective Hodiak and one of the other cops asks if Shafe (played by Grey Damon) is going to get a hair cut. The Vietnam war is in full swing and a lot of protestors are heading for countries outside the US borders in order to avoid the draft.

On a side note: Has anyone else noticed that “Hodiak” rhymes with Zodiac as in the killer who tormented the police through the 60s and 70s? Surely this name choice is no coincidence.

NBC has opted to run the show on Hulu where one can “watch the full event series.” A bold move that either signifies supreme confidence in the show or just the opposite. Thus far, several sites have reported that the viewing figures for the show are “disappointing.” Rather an odd prognosis for a show that just opened on 28 May via the network but can be viewed in one fell swoop on Hulu. How are audience figures adequately counted in this instance?

The network advertises that the entire season can be watched, not only online via Hulu, but via on-demand and “on the NBC app!” Surely it is too soon to really say whether the figures are good, bad, or indifferent.

Aquarius does seem to be fairly interesting, combining real people, Manson for example, with fictional ones in order to take a look at the “run up” to the Sharon Tate murder (as well as Jay Sebring and a number of others) and just how “Charlie” got started. The show features a cop who may, or may not, be an recovering alcoholic, an undercover officer along the lines of Frank Serpico and a black “militant” Muslim in the stamp of Malcolm X.

Not wanting to watch the entire series in one go, I opted to take in the first two episodes via Hulu. Overall the show is not bad and of course it goes without saying that Duchovny is incapable of giving a bad performance. Casting Brit actor Gethin Anthony as Charles Manson has annoyed some but, to be fair, it is early days yet and he may still fit the bill.

As this is a fictional telling of Manson’s journey before he got the world’s attention for the murders committed by his “gang” the tale can go pretty much where it wants. Never mind that in reality, Charlie was a short (5’2″) scrawny, and unattractive, psychopath who used drugs and his delusional belief that he was a prophet of doom to rule a group of misfits and antisocial teens and young adults. By the time the murders took place Manson was a 32 year old institutionalized career criminal who discovered music, instead of religion, while in prison and was “really quite good” on a guitar.

The show is entertaining to a degree and it can be seen in its entirety on Hulu, on-demand, and on the NBC app, as stated above. The actors all turn in some satisfactory performances and the series does have a pretty decent “60s feel” to it. For those who do not want to watch the whole “period” drama at once, or who do not have the time, it can be seen on the network on Thursdays.

30 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith