Wednesday, November 28, 2007


27.1 Pretty pictures galore!
First up, quite literally a few minutes before I checked email (to find that Budjette had sent me the same image), I saw the new Joker up on AICN.
So this is just one of the many reasons why movies constantly engage and surprise me.
Who would have thought that someone who I first saw in one of those pretty boy-with-an-edge roles (in Gil Junger's 10 Things I Hate About You) would later evolve into an Oscar contender (for Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain). Said someone would then go from gay cowboy to Clown Prince of Crime.
Who’d a thunk?

27.2 Also up on AICN, this Kingdom of the Crystal Skull snap. (It’s one of three, so get on over there, if you want to see the rest.)

27.3 And from the official Watchmen website, a couple of stills that look as if this was the neighborhood Dave Gibbons drew his panels from, instead of the other-way-around reality: a custom backlot in Vancouver, BC, built with, as Zack Snyder puts it, “the vernacular of Watchmen.” (These are two of four, so get on over there to see the others.)

27.4 Then, before I leave you to it, NBC recently announced Chuck got the early Christmas present of a back nine, bringing it up to a full 22-episode season.
More Bartowski nerdly madness! That’s great news.
Now if only the WGA strike gets resolved in the next few weeks, so this Christmas the studios and networks can display some goodwill to all those who live and die by the pen.

(Images courtesy of Empire and [Empire Joker cover]; IMDB and [Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull image]; [Watchmen images]; and [Chuck image].)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

a.k.a. “PIMP MY BOOK” (2)

Thanx to everyone who’s checked out Pelicula.
And thanx to those who’ve left comments here at the Iguana.

To Martin: I’m glad you loved what you saw in the first four chapters, and I’m really glad that ritual got you the way it did.
What can I say? Lovecraft and the Al Azif (a.k.a. the Necronomicon): a winning combo.
I’m stoked that you’re enjoying the tone and the mash-up of elements and genres. As I mentioned in Afterthoughts (23), Pelicula involved a lot of firsts for me, and I’m pleased as punch with it.

To I.K.Ida: Thanx for liking the Penumbra novellas. Hope you’re enjoying Pelicula too.

To those who haven’t checked it out, go to the website designed by the very excellent Carl Vergara. Updates are weekly. Then leave any comments you may have back here.

Thanx again, one and all.

(Image from Pelicula website, website designed by Carl Vergara, Habagat icon designed by the equally excellent Ian Sta. Maria.)

Season 1 Episode 5
Written by Katherine Lingenfelter
Directed by Peter O’Fallon

Being the Halloween installment of Pushing Daisies, this one plays like one of those apparently supernatural revenge deals that turns out to be a Scooby-Doo episode.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, this plays like Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, minus the overly Gothic Hammer touches and the flying heads.
Despite that less-than-flattering description though, this turns out to be another great episode, and certainly a better viewing experience than Sleepy Hollow.

The whodunit plot involves Olive’s past as a prize-winning jockey (winner of the… wait for it… Jock-Off 2000), and the unfortunate death by trampling of John Joseph Jacobs (Groove’s Hamish Linklater, also seen on The New Adventures of Old Christine).
When the other jockeys from the Jock-Off 2000 wind up getting trampled by what they believe is the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs (complete with fire-breathing horse), Olive begins to fear for her life.
As it turns out though, and no big surprise here, the real killer is Mamma Jacobs (Barbara Barrie, from TV’s Barney Miller, Suddenly Susan, and Bryan Fuller’s past show, Dead Like Me), long embittered by her son’s ruined career.
And John Joseph isn’t really dead, though he is taller now…

Meanwhile, the episode’s subplot involves the childhood event that traumatized poor Ned into the Halloween-o-phobe he is today.
Halloween was when he found out that his father had moved on after his mother’s death. Moved on quite literally, to a new home, and a new wife, and a couple of new sons. (The scene with little Ned and Digby in make-shift ghost costumes made from blankets, as they stand outside Ned’s dad’s new home, while Ned’s dad walks away with his new family, is heart-breaking.)

Sure, this one’s got some hiccups: Mamma Jacobs actually took the time and effort to rig a horse with some fire-breathing apparatus? And in the climactic chase sequence, Olive and Chuck run out of the house? The killer’s on a horse, for Pete’s sake. This would have been a wonderful time to ignore Sidney Prescott’s words of wisdom and run up the stairs.
But hey, some of the best bits of Pushing Daisies are the personal bits after all, and here, we see Ned coming to terms with his Daddy issues (as Lost has proven, there’s always a lot of dramatic traction to be gained from Daddy issues).
And you gotta admit, Emerson’s imaginary phone call with the money is a riot.

(Image courtesy of

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Season 2
Volume Two: “Generations”
Chapter Six: “The Line”
Written by Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Okay, this is more like it. Despite the number of subplots in this chapter (the only major characters we don’t see here are Parkman, Nathan, and Micah, and Elle drops off the radar), this episode actually moves.

So Claire tries out for the cheerleading team, but the squad leader Debbie (Veronica Mars’ Dianna Agron), who is of course, a b!tch, doesn’t want Claire on the squad, despite one cheerleader, May (Janel Parrish), putting her neck out for Claire.
So this screws up Claire’s lie to Mr. B about being part of the team. West then hatches a plan to humiliate Debbie, so as to somehow get Claire on the squad.
On a night when Debbie’s drunk and terrorizing the new recruits, Claire pulls her off to talk to her in private. West, in black, with a balaclava on, swoops down from the sky, picks Claire up, then drops her to lie bleeding on the school steps. Debbie runs, but West swoops her up as well.
When next we see Debbie, she’s telling some cops that Claire was there, bleeding, and that there was a flying masked man. But Claire shows up and says she’s fine, and of course she didn’t see any flying masked man. The cops find the bottle Debbie was drinking out of, and she gets suspended from the squad for being intoxicated on campus.
May then asks Claire to fill the now vacant spot on the squad.
Mission accomplished (though West is getting Claire involved in some potentially troublesome activities).

Meanwhile, we see Monica emulating some gymnastics (first we had Bring It On, now we’ve got Stick It) in the battery of tests Mo is letting her undergo. She’s at the NY Company digs and Mo finds out from Bob that he wants Monica injected with an experimental vaccine for the virus: Bob would like to see if they can take away Monica’s powers without harming her.
Mo however, immediately sees some of the other possibilities: Monica could die, or she could wind up getting injected with a variant of the virus that could finally cross over into the human population. Or, even if they manage to take away her powers without harming her, they’d still be taking away abilities without her consent, powers she truly seems to be enjoying.
But Bob gives Mo some tap dance about needing to do bad things for the greater good, and Mo actually gets into the room, about to inject Monica, when he makes a choice, and confronts Bob. Mo smashes the injection, says he’s not gonna do it, and that he’s taking Molly away. Bob says if Mo won’t inject Monica someone else will, and there’s plenty more of that experimental vaccine. Mo smashes the vials of the vaccine that are in the room, then storms out.
Later, Mo finds he can’t move Molly since she isn’t stable yet. Bob meanwhile, makes an interesting turn-around, apologizing, and telling Mo that in his need to deal with a menace (apparently one Adam Monroe), he overstepped some bounds. Bob says this is what Mo is here for, to check the Company’s choices and decisions. Bob entreats Mo to stay.
Bob then returns Monica to New Orleans, with a cover for her absence (a surprise seminar at Burger Bonanza HQ) and some contact numbers, and a video iPod, so she can insta-learn stuff. Cool.
Oh, and Bob sticks Mo with his new partner… Niki (or is that Jessica?). Ulp.

Over in feudal Japan, Hiro, Kensei, and Yaeko, find the swordsmith (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa; Mortal Kombat and Elektra), but he tells them that, under duress, he’s helped White Beard make some guns, and that the fiend plans to use them for a little coup. Hiro realizes that if this happens, the way of the samurai will die, so this is something that they need to stop.
Hiro says that Kensei will return to destroy the weapons.
During their escape though, Hiro saves Yaeko from a bullet, and teleports her away. Yaeko instinctively knows Hiro had something to do with their miraculous transport away from White Beard’s camp. She also realizes that Hiro was the one who was wearing Kensei’s armour at key moments in the past, and that it was his qualities that she fell in love with. When Yaeko asks Hiro point blank if he loves her, he says “Yes,” and they move into a kiss.
But Hiro freezes time, and for a moment, worries about the space/time continuum, but throws caution to the wind in favour of love, and kisses her anyway.
Naturally, who sees this pivotal kiss but Kensei.
It’s at this point, as Hiro says in his teeny scroll account, that this kiss was what fractured time, that the story runs out of scroll, and Ando is left dangling.
But we get to see more though, and when Hiro finally finds Kensei, Kensei confronts Hiro, calling him on his betrayal. Hiro says it was an accident that he fell in love with Yaeko, and that she fell in love with him, but that he would no longer act on that love, and that that kiss was their last.
Hiro says Yaeko is Kensei’s true love, and that Kensei needs to stop White Beard’s plan to take over Japan. At first, Kensei seems to agree, but he knocks Hiro out, and we see that Yaeko and her father have been captured by the baddies. Kensei walks away, leaving the three to the enemy.

Over in Odessa, Mr. B interrogates Ivan (Elya Baskin, Peter Parker’s landlord from the Spider-Man franchise), the man who trained both Mr. B and Claude way back when. Apparently Ivan knows where Isaac’s paintings are, but refuses to tell Mr. B. Ivan even offers Mr. B his life back, to return to the Company.
Mr. B however, uses the Haitian to erase Ivan’s memories one by one, starting with his memories of how he and his wife of 35 years, first met.
This is a chilling sequence of scenes, as we are reminded of how cold and ruthless Mr. B can be. The torture continues until Mr. B threatens to erase the memories of Ivan’s deceased daughter. “It’ll be like she never even existed,” he says. So Ivan caves and tells him the paintings are in a warehouse, the place where they “tagged the liquid man,” or something like that.
Then Ivan assumes they’re just going to have the Haitian erase the memories of his being interrogated, but Mr. B knows that if Ivan displays memory loss, that will indicate the Haitian’s involvement, and the trail will lead right back to Mr. B. So he does as Ivan once taught him, to make it look like he was never there. That this was simply a home invasion that ended badly.
Ivan makes one last ditch plea for Mr. B to rejoin the company, and tells him that if he doesn’t, and instead chooses to make this mistake, that Mr. B will damn himself to Hell. In what’s arguably the biggest shocker of the episode, Mr. B shoots Ivan in the head.
When they get to the warehouse, we get to see some of the other six paintings: what I managed to glimpse were: what appeared to be a vial, perhaps containing the vaccine; a blonde banging against a wall (being blonde, it could have been Niki; I don’t think that was Elle or Claire); there was what appeared to be a sword fight between Hiro and Kensei; then a man with what looked like a plaster over a broken nose, shooting a gun.
That makes four, and I saw another one displaying three figures, but that went by too quickly for close scrutiny. I seem to have missed one painting altogether.

And, as Sylar and the Wonder Twins near the border, Alejandro makes his distrust of Sylar obvious, but Maya insists they must trust Gabriel, as God sent him to them.
As they cross the border through an unfinished part of the perimeter fence, they’re stopped by the Border Patrol. Maya starts to freak, and her powers kick in. Alejandro tries to calm her, but Sylar says to let her be, and everyone, including Sylar, starts to die. Sylar makes Maya drive off, leaving the Patrol boys to croak.
Presumably, Alejandro was able to calm Maya down in time to save Sylar’s life, because the next time we see them, Alejandro is beating Sylar up. Maya stops her brother, and Alejandro makes an ultimatum: ditch Sylar, or I walk.
Maya still stubbornly says they need Sylar since he can take them to the dead Papa Suresh, so Alejandro relents, knowing he could never leave his sister. He says the next time Maya loses it though, he isn’t going to take her hand, and he’s gonna let Sylar die.
Maya then leaves to find something to clean Sylar’s lip. While Maya is away, Sylar talks to Alejandro in English, saying that when he gets his power back, he’s going to kill both the Wonder Twins, and that right now, Maya’s his new shiny toy.

Caitlin meanwhile, convinces Peter to take her with him to Montreal, as she was in the painting, and what’s more, she wants to kill the b!tch who roasted poor Ricky.
The next time we see the lovebirds, they’re in Montreal, where Peter and Caitlin stand before the door in the painting, a door that appears to have the “Godsend” sigil over it (something I missed last episode). Inside is a note for Peter saying that they were right about the Company being a threat. The note is signed: Adam.
Still confused, as he knows no Adam nor any Company, he embraces Caitlin, pleading out loud to know who he is, and to know what the future holds.
Suddenly, they’re in a deserted green screen New York, one of those post-apocalyptic deals with crumpled pieces of paper flying about a ghost city.
Peter finds an evacuation notice dated June 14, 2008. “That’s next year,” he says.

Okay, so on the plus side, we finally get to the heart of the feudal Japan subplot, and the love triangle is exposed. Not really new, certainly, but Dave Anders and Masi Oka sell the whole friendship-betrayed-over-a girl riff, and they sell it well.
It was also nice to see more of Mr. B’s back story by meeting Ivan, the man who trained Mr. B and made him who he is today. And while it was sad to see Ivan go just when we’d met him, it also brought back home the reality that Mr. B was (and apparently still is) a cold-blooded killer. To make matters worse, he is quite possibly even more dangerous now, as he’s fighting for something very precious to him: family. (And of course, he does look very dead in that eighth painting, so he’s fighting for his life too. Wouldn’t it be richly ironic though that if in doing all of this, he actually ends up causing the very death he’s trying to prevent? That he is, in fact, damning himself to Hell, just as Ivan warned?)
It was also interesting to see a human side to Bob (unless that turn-around was all a ruse to pull the wool over Mo’s eyes, and get in on Monica’s good side; one video iPod, presto, BFF).

On the down side, it appears that while Volume One had the NY explosion as the Big Bad Threat, right now we’re looking at what seems to be an epidemic, presumably the virus making that cross-species jump.
It just seems that Volume Two is a little too soon for us to have yet another looming doomsday scenario, though I hope the writers can ease this one out of the bag without the audience getting Season 1 déjà vu.
All in all, and despite my apprehensions about the bigger picture, this was a good episode, and I’m hoping the ones to come can balance all the subplots as well as this one does.

(Images courtesy of; TV Guide Heroes cover art [1 of 4] by Jim Lee, courtesy of


Man, you blink and all of a sudden, it’s time to buck up for another Oscar rush.
Below are the shortlists for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature, from which the final 3 and 5 nominees (respectively) will be chosen.

Best Animated Feature Film shortlist
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters

Bee Movie
Meet the Robinsons
Shrek the Third
The Simpsons Movie
Surf's Up


Best Documentary Feature shortlist
Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen's The Rape of Europa
Weijun Chen's Please Vote for Me
Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body of War
Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's War/Dance
Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side
Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's Nanking
Bill Haney's The Price of Sugar
Daniel G. Karslake's For the Bible Tells Me So
Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire
Michael Moore's Sicko
Steven Okazaki's White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Peter Raymont's A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman
Tricia Regan's Autism: The Musical
Richard Robbins' Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience

Congratulations one and all, for achieving Oscar shortlist status, no mean feat, that.
Nominees for the 80th Academy Awards will be announced on January 22, 2008. Awards night is set for February 24, 2008, to be hosted by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, who also hosted the 78th Academy Awards.

(Jon Stewart image courtesy of

Season 1 Episode 6
“Chuck Versus the Sandworm”
Written by Phil Klemmer
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill

It’s Halloween and Chuck and Morgan are about to observe a long-standing tradition of wearing a sandworm costume (what Ellie refers to as a “two man sea cucumber”), but first Chuck has to deal with rogue prodigy Lazslo Mahnovski (American Dreams’ Jonathan Sadowski), who’s built many a gadget for the intel community, including Chuck’s watch, and Nerd Herd mobile. (Think scruffy post-millennial Q.)
There’s also the small matter of an interview with Buy More HR, for the assistant manager position. Big Mike wants Chuck for the position, as Harry Tiberius Tang has “the charm of a prostate exam,” but Morgan and his screw-ups could be the anchor that’ll weigh Chuck down to a watery fate.

There’s some good stuff in this episode, as issues of trust pop up when Lazslo makes Chuck aware of the fact that in all likelihood, he’s being bugged. This ties in to a framed photo Sarah gives Chuck, of both of them (Sarah in a slave Princess Leia outfit) at the Comic-Con. Of course, they’ve never been and it’s a Photoshopped deal.
There’s a nice poignant moment as Chuck considers this piece of fiction, of a couple that doesn’t exist, a moment that becomes even more poignant when Chuck finds a bug behind the picture.

There’s also Chuck needing to come down hard on Morgan at work, when Big Mike reminds Chuck of his duties. In a personal crisis, Morgan is tutored by Capt. Awesome in a neat montage, as Awesome teaches Morgan to grow up, to be a “tucker” and to “tame the mane.”
Then, when Chuck misses the HR interview since he has to stop the Santa Monica Pier from going boom, Morgan makes a great speech to try and get Chuck the job (stating that Chuck is “brave,” “loyal,” “has a great vinyl collection,” and “can quote The Wrath of Khan”). Despite the Trek knowledge though, Tiberius Tang gets the job.

The episode winds down with a send-up of the romantic comedy climax, as Chuck races to the Halloween party, as Morgan sits there, a morose half-sandworm, till Chuck arrives, Morgan saying “I thought you wouldn’t make it.”
Sarah then shows up in her slave Leia outfit and takes a picture with Chuck, so they can preserve a real moment in their relationship.
The episode closes with Chuck and Morgan continuing an inane, rambling conversation about what kind of sandwich one would take to a deserted island, since Chuck wants to torture Casey, who he knows is listening in on the bugs that are certainly somewhere in his room.

(Images courtesy of

Friday, November 23, 2007


24.1 So talks regarding the WGA strike are set to resume next week, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Here’s hoping the networks and studios don’t decide to play Scrooge, so this mess gets resolved before Christmas.

24.2 It’s official: Cloverfield is indeed the title.
And as much as I’m glad they stuck with it, I can’t help but wonder whether this was the real title all along, or whether they went with it since that was the title most people had already associated with the movie.
At any rate, the official one-sheet is out, as well as a trailer attached to prints of Beowulf.
And regarding the last two images above, witness the sinister might of Slusho!
The provided captions for the photos are as follows:




(Cloverfield OS courtesy of; Cloverfield images courtesy of and; Slusho! images staged by Greg Yaitanes, under the supervision of Joe Pokaski, courtesy of

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Like many a horror geek, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is on my list of all-time best horror movies. And while The Guardian (the 1990 horror movie with Jenny Seagrove, not the recent Costner-Kutcher starrer) was a passable effort, it certainly wasn’t an Exorcist. Then there was Friedkin’s collaboration with Joe Eszterhas on the erotic thriller Jade, which was a big let-down (though it was cool hearing Loreena McKennitt during a key scene).
Despite all that post-Exorcist disappointment though, I was nonetheless looking forward to Bug, initially knowing nothing beyond that it was directed by Friedkin, had Ashley Judd and Harry Connick, Jr. in the cast, and boasted a kick-a$$ one-sheet.
Now that I’ve seen it, I can safely say it’s a nasty little number by Friedkin, and though I did find it a disturbingly riveting piece of cinema, it also clearly isn’t for everyone.

The film’s basic set-up is standard: lonely woman (Judd as waitress Agnes White) meets a mysterious drifter (Michael Shannon as Peter Evans), who enters her life, with tumultuous results. Where Friedkin and screenwriter Tracy Letts take Bug though, is hardly “standard.” I can’t really say any more than that, lest I spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it.
I can say that Friedkin takes Letts’ script (adapted from his own critically-acclaimed and Obie Award-winning play), and with a controlled and confident hand, presents us with a taut exercise in conspiracy and paranoia, a chilling portrait of love and personal disintegration with fantastic performances by Judd and Shannon.
Judd’s always struck me as not just a pretty face, but as a capable and talented actress as well. Here, she takes one of those terribly unglamorous roles (working class, accent, drug use, no make up) and embraces the character, inhabiting Agnes White.
Shannon, who starred in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky and Alex Turner‘s Dead Birds, does no less. His Peter is one of those tightly wound, internal performances, like Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar from Brokeback Mountain; the sort of character you can sense has vast, uncharted depths beyond the nondescript façade, depths that we see begin to leak out as the film gradually unspools. (Of course, Shannon already nailed the part of Peter in London and off-Broadway, and though that may give him an unfair advantage, let’s not hold that against him.)

For all my praise though, given what Bug is ultimately about, and the manner in which the narrative unfolds, this is definitely the sort of film that will leave some with the impression that nothing’s happening beyond two people yakking in a motel room.
But there is something here, beneath the celluloid skin. Along with David Lynch’s Inland Empire, Bug is one of the most unsettling films I’ve seen in recent memory, the sort of cinematic experience that leaves a residue.
If you’re adventurous with your cinema, or are a Friedkin or Judd fan, or want to see a fearless performance by Shannon, then you may well want to check this out.
If however you like your movies safe and Hollywood-engineered, then Bug may not be the film for you.

(Bug OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of; images courtesy of Lionsgate and

Monday, November 19, 2007

a.k.a. “PIMP MY BOOK”

First off, to everyone who stopped by at Komikon 3, either for the kind, encouraging words, to have their stuff signed, or to pick up the Penumbra novellas, my humble thanx.

And now, just to make this sound official:


Fame is a power many dream of possessing. It is a power Luis Conrado is very familiar with, especially when he assumes his super-powered alter ego Habagat.

Having the power to fly with the eagles, the strength of a hundred men, and the ability to withstand pain and injury can sometimes pale in comparison to the shining, blinding power of fame.

Standing in that blazing spotlight for too long, Conrado does not notice the ones standing in the shadows. The architects of his fame. The ones who hold the true power.

>>> Read the first four chapters of PELICULA at:

Also at the site, a gallery of the super-hero Habagat. With illustrations by Carlo Vergara, Ian Sta. Maria, Kajo Baldisimo, Bow Guerrero, Ronnie Tres Reyes, Dennis Crisostomo, Arvie Villena, Reno Maniquis, Oliver Pulumbarit, Aldin Viray, and Edgar Tadeo.


The seed for Pelicula was innocuous enough: very casual talk about some Internet rumour or other. Somehow, that spark collided with my long-abiding interest in live-action superheroics, and a novel was born.

Having completed the trio of Penumbra novellas (Takod, Craving, and Parman), I felt ready to tackle a longer story, and Pelicula appeared to have enough meat to warrant a novel-length treatment.

What ultimately emerged was not only something I hadn’t exactly anticipated, it was also a lot of things I’d never really attempted before in my fiction: it was a parody, a satire, a romance, and had gobbets of words and dialogue in Filipino and Taglish.

I’m proud of Pelicula, and extremely thankful to three individuals who helped in its genesis and in getting it to where it is today: Nida, who saw it first in its entirety and gave it a thumbs up; and Carl and Budj, for all the support and help over the years.

And now that it’s toddling off onto the World Wide Web, I can only hope it amuses, entertains, and enlightens you, just as much as it amused, entertained, and enlightened me, in the process of putting it all together.

David Hontiveros
November 2007


David Hontiveros is a National Book Award-nominated and Palanca-winning writer, with three horror/dark fantasy novellas (under the Penumbra imprint) out in the market.

His short fiction has appeared in such publications as Story Philippines, Philippine Graphic, and Chimera, while his articles and film reviews have been published in Philippine Graphic, the Manila Times, Mirror Magazine, and Manual.

So, if you want to check out Pelicula, just surf on over to the website.
The Penumbra novellas (Takod, Craving, and Parman) are available in bookstores, and if you don’t see them on the shelves, please ask for them.

(Image from Pelicula website, website designed by Carl Vergara, Habagat icon designed by Ian Sta. Maria.)

Season 1 Episode 4
Written by Rina Mimoun
Directed by Adam Kane

This could very well be the best episode since the Pilot.
Opening with another flashback to Ned’s private school days, we see the faithful Digby make the three-day journey to find his master, “guided only by the compass of his heart.” He even saves lives and property along the way. It’s a nice, moving little sequence that sets up an episode that delves into the power of love, and how it can overcome any obstacle.

Even as Chuck bakes another pie (tart apple filling) for her aunts—a pie that Olive again intercepts, planning on delivering it so she can continue to lay her plans of exposing what she believes is Chuck’s faked death—a one-winged carrier pigeon smashes into the Pie Hole’s window.
In the bustle around the dead pigeon, Ned inadvertently touches it, bringing it back to life. (“It’s a miracle bird!” shouts Olive.) There’s some panic as Ned and Emerson wonder what will pay for the pigeon’s return (another bird, as it turns out), followed by a crop duster crashing into a nearby building.

What follows involves several symbolisms and parallels—a birdcage as metaphor for the house Chuck’s aunts live in; a one-winged bird, a one-armed man, a one-legged woman; love that is meant to be, but only at a distance—as most of the show’s characters (save Emerson, perhaps) witness and experience the potency of love.
There is even the (heh) daisy chain of Digby loving Ned who loves Chuck who loves her aunts, while Olive also loves Ned, and then comes to love Chuck’s aunts too. Emerson, of course, loves money…

This one’s directed by Adam Kane, who also directed the first episode of Heroes’ sophomore season where the story is actually allowed to breathe, “The Kindness of Strangers.” It’s the episode where I feel Season 2 took its first genuine step towards rehabilitation, getting past that awfully cluttered sensation that pervades the first three episodes. And though I am aware that a big reason for that is the script, I’d like to think that Kane also had something to do with this welcome turn-around.
Kane began as a cinematographer (he worked on the Heroes pilot), then went on to his directorial debut with “.07%” from Heroes’ first season.
Kane’s an excellent choice for Pushing Daisies, which is, by its very nature, a very visual series. Kane’s experience as a cinematographer clearly serves him well here, as this episode looks gorgeous.
Here’s hoping we see more of Adam Kane the director, not just here or in Heroes, but elsewhere on the cathode ray—or silver screen—landscape as well.

Parting shot: Kane was also the cinematographer on Jim Isaac’s Skinwalkers (review in Archive), and also shot Isaac’s upcoming feature, Pig Hunt.

(Images courtesy of and [Adam Kane on the set of Heroes].)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


22.1 So Heroes has experienced a 15% ratings dip. The confluence of that viewer slippage and the on-going WGA strike has already placed the spin-off series, Heroes: Origins, on the network shelf for the meantime; see Afterthoughts (21).
There’s another direct effect of these two hammer blows though that we’ll also be experiencing shortly.
As I’ve mentioned before, Volume Two: Generations, is comprised of 11 episodes, and that’s still on the table. What we will be seeing on December 3 though, will be a chapter that will sport an alternate ending from the one originally devised. The new ending will “function as a potential season finale,” and provide Heroes with “a clean slate” when it returns to production on Volume Three (the start date of which is entirely dependent on the length of the strike).
Aware of the dissatisfaction fans have expressed over the current season, Tim Kring replied: “The message is that we’ve heard the complaints—and we’re doing something about it.” (Read what else Kring has to say about Volume Two’s troubles here.)
So that’s good. Now we just have to get the networks and the studios to be fair with their writers, so this strike can be resolved, hopefully sooner than later.

22.2 And on that note…

“If this strike lasts longer than three months, an entire season of television will end this December. No dramas. No comedies. No “Daily Show.” The strike will also prevent any pilots from being shot in the spring, so even if the strike is settled by then, you won’t see any new shows until the following January. As in 2009. Both the guild and the studios we are negotiating with do agree on one thing: this situation would be brutal.”

That’s from a great New York Times op-ed piece (“Mourning TV”) by Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof. Read it in its entirety here.
And if you want to know more about the strike, check this blog out.
Again, here’s hoping this mess gets resolved fairly and quickly.

“Yes, I’m picketing my own show. So surreal.”
Heroes creator Tim Kring, from the picket line

(Images courtesy of [Sendhil Ramamurthy and Greg Grunberg on the picket line] and [Damon Lindelof and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry on the picket line].)

Season 2
Volume Two: “Generations”
Chapter Five: “Fight Or Flight”
Written by Joy Blake & Melissa Blake
Directed by Lesli Glatter

So we kick off this chapter with Mo and The Biggest Loser (aka Parkman), who basically coerced Molly into finding the Sauron baddie/Nightmare Man (aka Parkman’s runaway Pop, Maury), thus putting her into some kind of coma.
It finally sinks in that, Oh gosh, I really shouldn’t have asked a little girl to do that, huh? (No arguments from Mo or me, Biggest Loser.)
Irritatingly, it also takes a little convincing from Mo for Parkman to go down to Philadelphia to find Papa Sauron Parkman (codename: PSP; I’ll start calling him Maury next time). “But I don’t even know what I’m facing,” Biggest Loser says. Well, Molly didn’t know either, and you made her face him. Idiot.
Parkman then decides to see what Granny P can tell him, since she knows PSP personally. But, off-camera, it seems Parkman gets nothing out of her. (Presumably since she knows how to deal with a mind reader like Parkman.)
Parkman runs into No Longer Beardo Nathan at the police station, and wham! Team up time. Over Parkman’s initial protestations, Nathan convinces Parkman that he can help in Philadelphia, and that if PSP is the reason why Granny P is in jail, then he has every right to be in Philly.
So they get on down there (and it’s unclear whether Nathan actually flew both of them there, though that’s entirely possible) and they find PSP (Alan Blumenfeld) in the apartment.
PSP appears surprised that his son has turned into the cop he sees before him, and he says he’s proud. But Parkman’s still pissed and just wants to know what happened to Molly. PSP claims he did it to protect himself and that he also received a death threat.
When Parkman tries to read PSP’s mind, he gets that same effect he had when he tried to read Peter’s mind in Season 1. So it turns out that PSP is also a mental mind dude. PSP also tells Parkman that reading minds is only the beginning.
PSP admits that he was part of the previous generation of Heroes, with Linderman, the Petrellis, et al. He also says they tried to make a difference in the world, but that things went wrong. He then says he’d like to show Parkman something in the other room.
When Parkman follows him there though, PSP’s abilities kick in.
He traps Parkman in a waking nightmare: in a prison cell, where a baby appears, then the ex-Mrs. Matt (yahoo!). Ex-Mrs. Matt claims that when she told Parkman the baby wasn’t his, that he read her mind and knew she was lying and still left anyway. When Mrs. Matt leaves the cell with the baby, Parkman tries to stop her, but the guard—who speaks backwards, by the way*—gets into a fist fight with him.
Meanwhile, Nathan finds himself on top of the Deveaux building, in post-explosion NY, where he finds someone who he at first thinks is Peter, but is actually Monster Face Nathan, who sneers and taunts him, saying he failed everyone. Nathan and Monster Face Nathan get into a fist fight.
As it turns out, it’s actually Parkman and Nathan fighting each other, and when Parkman realizes it’s all a Jedi mind trick, he apparently projects his thoughts to Nathan to stop fighting, which Nathan does. (Ooooh, Parkman’s repertoire of Jedi mind tricks is growing! And he presumably also has the potential to make people face their worst fears, as PSP apparently can.)
They find the room in shambles, and PSP long gone. Frustrated that his pops ran out on him again, Parkman throws some stuff on the floor, and what should they find, but another piece of that damned photo, the fragment showing Bob’s face, with the “Godsend” sigil scrawled on it. So they make the assumption that PSP really is the killer and that his next target is Bob.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Monica is interviewed by the cops, but claims she doesn’t really remember much about the whole Rey Mysterio incident, including what the robber looks like. The cop shows her a picture of the schmuck, who’s apparently robbed three other fast food joints in the area, but Monica wants to keep her nose clean, so she lies and says she doesn’t really remember the guy’s face. Cue disgusted cop-who-can’t-really-do-his-job-because-other-people-aren’t-willing-to-help to leave Burger Bonanza.
When Monica gets home, Micah’s playing the piano. Double M share a moment at the piano (apparently Monica’s mom played but no one’s touched the piano since she passed away). But even as Micah is playing, Monica starts to unconsciously play as well, and when Micah points this out to her, she’s just a little bit freaked out. (So it looks like she doesn’t need the TV to insta-learn.)
Later, she’s practicing the tomato flower thing again, when Micah shows her an issue of 9th Wonders, where the character “St. Joan” appears. It seems St. Joan is a “muscle mimic” (okay, cool, but “insta-learn” has got a certain ring, methinks) and can learn to do anything just by seeing it happen.
To show Monica that she isn’t alone, Micah shows her his technopath powers, then goes on to say this freaky powers thing runs in the family, telling Monica that D. L. could walk through walls, and then indicating Niki has powers too, though he doesn’t specify to his cousin what those powers are.
In a nice little bit, Monica says she’s been praying to God and says, “Of all the things God could have given me, it’s this?” Micah says maybe they’re meant to do something with these gifts.
To test her abilities, Double M go on a little field trip, and Monica tries the Double Dutch after watching some girls do it. She does the routine like a pro, and the Double M share another moment.
Later on still, in a far more practical application of her power, Monica starts to train Bruce Lee-style by watching the tube (I guess that was Enter The Dragon, though I’m not entirely certain), and Micah sees her and thinks it’s super cool. (Like me, the little dude realizes that martial arts will be far more useful than the Double Dutch.) Monica says this is their little secret, then shoos him off to bed.
There’s a knock on the door, and who should it be, but… (More on that later.)

Over in Ireland, who shows up looking for Peter but… Veronica Mars!
Actually, it’s Kristen Bell playing Elle, and we quickly see that she’s where Peter got his new sparkly blue electro-powers from. Just as she finds out where Peter’s at, Ricky gets wind of the blonde American searching the docks for Peter.
So, after seeing Peter and his sister in liplock, Ricky tells Peter to hide out for a spell at Caitlin’s flat, while he deals with this snoop. Dumba$$ Peter allows himself to be convinced.
At the flat, Peter finds out that Caitlin likes to paint to relax. Then there’s a little snogging before Peter says he thinks he should open up that box already, as it’s probably high time he discover who he is. But when he does open the box, the only pertinent things inside are a passport giving him his name and listing his gender as female! (Apparently a gaff that didn’t get rectified before the episode aired, though this will be fixed for the Season 2 DVD set; which is kind of sad, actually. That would have been quite the plot twist…) There’s also a plane ticket to Montreal.
Frustrated, Peter suddenly begins to see glimmers of a painting on a blank canvas. He grabs a palette, a brush, and some paint, he then proceeds to do the freaky white-eyed painting thing, much to Caitlin’s worry.
When his eyes snap back to normal, he’s a little freaked out too at the painting that’s suddenly in front of him, a painting of two people (backs turned to us so we don’t see who they are) in front of a door. In the distance is what appears to be a church, and the street signs are in French. And hey, people speak French in Montreal, don’t they?
Unbeknowest to them though, Elle appears at the pub and when Ricky doesn’t seem to want to be of help in her search for Peter, she electrocutes his Irish a$$ till all that’s left of him is a crispy critter. (Poor Ricky.)
Caitlin gets the call, they go over to the pub, she breaks down at the sight of her brother, and Peter, knowing this is all his fault, vows to find who did this to Ricky…

And before we leave that subplot for the week, we should note that at one point, Elle says she works for a Company. We also see her get a call on her cell, telling her to leave off in the search for Peter (after she’s admitted that, yes, she killed someone). Before she hangs up, she calls whoever is on the other end of the line, “Daddy.” (So either she’s got a kinky sex thing going on, or her father is Bob… Or maybe PSP and she’s Parkman’s half-sister. Or maybe someone else altogether and the writers are just making us think Bob or PSP. This is Heroes, after all.)

In another subplot that was MIA last chapter, Ando consults some expert dude to help repair the damage that some of the teeny scrolls have suffered over time.
We pick up with Hiro and Kensei getting the last bit of the map that will lead them to Yaeko’s father.
There’s a nice little bit where Hiro sees Yaeko’s hand in Kensei‘s and he notes that everything is happening as it should and that the lovers are indeed falling for one another, but we of course can see his crestfallen face as he suffers the pain of a breaking heart because history needs to unfold as he knows it did.
They then head off to face White Beard and Yaeko insists on accompanying them, since she has been sword-trained, after all. Hiro and Kensei agree, and the three look upon the vast forces of the enemy.
And that’s all for that subplot.

Finally, Mo, panicked that Molly’s vitals are falling and he can’t seem to help her, calls Mr. B, who’s with the Haitian and walking in some vaguely dodgy green screen environment (either they’re already in Odessa or they’re headed there). Mo is at a loss and thinking of going to the Company to save Molly. Mr. B warns Mo against this course of action, but Mo feels this is the only way to save her life.
So he brings Molly in and she’s hooked up to some machines and stuff, when Bob asks Mo to go on another field mission to bring in another powered someone, giving him a taser for good measure. Mo says he needs to be here with Molly, Bob says Molly’s welfare is top priority, and he needs Mo out there to help others like Molly.
The discussion is cut off though when who should go apesh!t in the hall but Jessica, whom Mo recognizes as Niki. Jessica slams Mo into the wall, then proceeds to throttle poor Bob. Mo of course, tasers Jessica.
When Niki comes to, she’s restrained to the bed. Here is apparently the first time Mo discovers that Niki suffers from MPD. Once Bob leaves the room, Mo tries to set Niki free, but she says that she’s here of her own free will, and that she believes this is the only place where she can get the help she needs.
The next time we see Mo, he’s at… Monica’s front door! And he says he’s here to help her with answers to her questions. (So either he’s here because he’s deluded himself into believing the Company can truly help because of the Niki episode, or he’s here to warn Monica. It better be the latter, Mo, or you may as well join Parkman in the Biggest Loser camp.)

Again, we have an episode that’s less cluttered than this season’s initial chapters, since we lose the Sylar/Wonder Twins subplot, and there’s no sign of Claire either. (Boo! Hiss!)
Curiously, we also don’t see Granny P, even if she’s mentioned when Parkman says he got nothing from her. (Boo some more! Hiss some more!)
And then… no Mrs. B or Mr. Muggles. (Boo even more! Hiss even more!)
Seriously though, I can live with these sorts of decisions—it’s not like I need my Claire fix every episode—if the narrative’s rhythm felt natural, but the whole Feudal Japan subplot is beginning to feel really stretched out, so much so that hardly anything happened with the love triangle this episode.
That feeling is exacerbated by the fact that we also are missing a lot when it comes to how Kensei and Hiro are getting that map together. We see them returning, all tired and out of breath, for a battle we missed in its entirety, just as we missed the whole battle with the Angry Ronin. (I realize we’re probably missing all this stuff due to budgetary reasons, but it just leaves me with this feeling that I’m being gypped by seeing zero action, and that the plot is lurching forward in this horribly awkward zombie march. I mean, if we’re not gonna see any samurai action anyway, then why is this subplot taking so long to reach its culmination? Hopefully we see some sort of samurai action next time we touch down in feudal Japan.)

On the plus side though, the Double M dynamic continues to be a nice sight to see, and Dana Davis and Noah Gray-Cabey are delivering some great performances. Mo just better end up doing the right thing by helping Monica…
The fact that the muscle mimic in 9th Wonders is called “St. Joan” though, does not bode well, does it? I mean, Monica has been portrayed as a God-praying sort…
And hey, Gray-Cabey is, in real life, a prodigy, and has reportedly been playing piano since he was a year and a half old! Wow.

Before I leave off this chapter, I should also point out that at the moment, I’m not entirely convinced that PSP is the actual killer as that seems too easy somehow, but hey, we’ll see…

* After seeing the episode, I found out that the whole backwards-speaking guard thing was due to Parkman’s dyslexia. Brilliant.

Parting shot: This episode was helmed by a familiar name from way back in the Twin Peaks days: Lesli Glatter (though back then, she went by “Lesli Linka Glatter”).
Haloo! So great to see your stuff again, LLG!
Incidentally (1), I thought that the backwards-speaking guard was a nod to Twin Peaks, instead of a reference to Parkman’s dyslexia.
And, incidentally (2), among Glatter’s other television work, is a number of Gilmore Girls’ episodes, on which she first worked with Milo Ventimiglia.

Parting shot 2: Incidentally (3), we reportedly have Oprah to thank for Noah Gray-Cabey trying out acting, as he did his piano prodigy thing on her show and some agent or other saw him, and well, here we are now.
Hurrah, Oprah!

(Behind the scene images—of episode director Lesli Glatter, and stars Milo Ventimiglia and Kristen Bell—courtesy of

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Season 1 Episode 5
“Chuck Versus the Sizzling Shrimp”
Written by Scott Rosenbaum
Directed by David Solomon

An “Evening of Morgan” (Chuck, Sarah, Ellie, and Morgan enjoy sizzling shrimp and Enter the Dragon) is cut short when Chuck spots Chinese agent Mei-Ling (Gwendoline Yeo, who was seen as Xiao-Mei on Desperate Housewives, and heard as Mercy Graves in the two-part opening of The Batman’s current season) disguised as a waitress at the Bamboo Dragon (“Home of the Sizzling Shrimp”). Tasked by Casey to go over a bunch of files to try and uncover why Mei-Ling is on US soil, Chuck ends up standing Ellie up, and worse, leaving her alone with Morgan.
The next morning, Ellie’s pissed. This has been happening a lot lately, Chuck going MIA, and she makes sure to remind him about the following evening, the siblings’ own October version of Mother’s Day.

Meanwhile, over at the Buy More, Big Mike implements a 24-hour sales competition: first prize, an iPhone, and second prize, a large pizza with two, count ‘em, two toppings! Despite the tantalizing allure of second prize though, Morgan knows he’s screwed, ‘cause he sucks at sales.
So he asks Chuck to help him out, but Chuck’s already been told by Casey that tonight will be his first stakeout at the Bamboo Dragon. And he can’t help Morgan the following evening either, since it’s the Bartowski Mother’s Day celebration. So Chuck says he’ll help Morgan after his “date” with Sarah.

That evening, an elderly man in a wheelchair, identified as Ben Lo Pan (James Hong, recognizable to SF fans the world over as Hannibal Chew, the eyemaker from Blade Runner), arrives at the Bamboo Dragon, followed by Mei-Ling. Chuck flashes on Mei-Ling’s weapon, and realizes she’s here to assassinate Lo Pan.
Casey and Sarah go into the Bamboo Dragon, while Chuck is told to stay in the van.
Inside, gunfire breaks out, and Lo Pan wheels himself out of the restaurant. Chuck sees Lo Pan and decides to help the old man, getting him to his limo.
Just then, Chuck witnesses Lo Pan’s bodyguards take a bound and gagged Chinese man out of the Bamboo Dragon and stuff him into the limo’s trunk, before it speeds off. Mei-Ling arrives and demands to know where the limo is headed, but of course, Chuck doesn’t know.
Before Mei-Ling runs off as Sarah and Casey arrive, she tells Chuck that Lo Pan is Triad, and she was here to rescue her brother.

Chuck is feeling guilty about inadvertently helping the bad guy, but is told by Sarah and Casey to stay out of it, as Mei-Ling is now a rogue element (the Chinese government did not sign off on the assassination/rescue mission, despite Lo Pan’s threat of killing Mei-Ling’s brother, who works for the Chinese consulate).
At the Buy More, Mei-Ling calls Chuck, demanding his help to get her brother back. So Chuck talks to Casey and Sarah, and proposes that they help Mei-Ling, if, in exchange, Mei-Ling would defect to the USA. Casey says if she defects, he’ll personally help save her brother.
So when Mei-Ling tries to get at Chuck, a stand-off that ends with the Chinese agent holding a gun to Chuck, he gets Mei-Ling to agree to the whole “defect to save my brother” deal. (After all, should she still be loyal to a government that was willing to let her brother die?)

As the agents lay out the rescue plan, Ellie is busy in the kitchen preparing for Mother’s Day. But when Chuck’s expertise with security systems is needed once again, he gets drafted to be the eyes and ears of the op. Chuck goes along since he owes Mei-Ling, but insists he needs to get back home by eight, or Ellie skewers him.
Of course, the rescue goes awry, and all three agents are caught by the baddies. Though Casey tells Chuck to just go home and not call the cops, Chuck tails them back to the Bamboo Dragon.
Chuck creates a diversion with fireworks, gets inside the restaurant, and sets the agents free. While the agents make short work of the baddies, Chuck stops Lo Pan from wheeling away a second time.
Chuck, of course, misses the Mother’s Day dinner.

While all that action goes down, Ellie and Morgan share an “I miss Chuck” moment, and Morgan tells Ellie he’s currently the lowest seller at the store, and rather than have Big Mike fire him, he’d rather commit seppuku and resign.
And when Chuck gets back home, Ellie confronts him. Chuck is extremely apologetic, but despite Ellie’s disappointment, she gets it: Chuck’s in love with Sarah, and this is the first really good thing to happen to him in a really long while. She also says that Chuck’s always been a good brother and a good friend, and that he shouldn’t lose that, girlfriend or no girlfriend.
So Chuck asks to re-schedule Mother’s Day, and Ellie agrees.

The next morning at the Buy More, Morgan is about to resign, has in fact, already handed in his resignation letter, when he suddenly gets a big sale, courtesy of Ellie, who decides to do her gift shopping early. The sudden sale boosts Morgan to second place, so he rushes to retrieve the resignation letter (and his large pizza with two toppings).
It turns out though that, a) there is no pizza—and no iPhone either—as Big Mike just wanted to motivate the employees, and b) Big Mike wouldn’t have accepted the resignation in the first place, as Morgan is currently filling the Hispanic employee slot.

Meanwhile, Mei-Ling bids her brother goodbye, and officially defects.

And at the Mother’s Day dinner (to which Ellie invites both Morgan and Sarah, making a break from the tradition of just both siblings celebrating), Chuck explains to Sarah its significance: it’s the anniversary of the day their mother left, abandoning them with a father who wasn’t really there, even if he was.
So Mother’s Day is a celebration of the day when it became abundantly clear that they only really had each other. Now though, Ellie is willing to open up that special day to include the other special people in their lives. (Sadly Capt. Awesome couldn’t get off work.)

Once again, what’s clearly doing it for me in Chuck are the character moments, and in this particular episode, we get to see the toll all this secrecy is taking on Chuck’s personal life, how juggling the secret agent stuff, Buy More, his friendship with Morgan, and his relationship with Ellie, is exacting a price.
And not only is it clear that Chuck’s having a hard time with all this, but it’s also plainly evident that both Morgan and Ellie miss having him around.
Yes, Chuck isn’t perfect (some action bits are better than others), but as I’ve said before, it’s an entertaining hour, fun and funny, while being dramatic too.
Chuck’s a sweet ride, people. You should really check it out.

(Images courtesy of
Lt. Maria LaGuerta

Season 2 Episode 4
Written by Scott Buck
Directed by Nick Gomez

It’s week 3 of the Bay Harbor Butcher investigation and Miami’s in the grip of the worst heat wave in recent memory. Oh, and Masuka’s just found something that could break the case wide open.
All that pressure gets Dex rattled enough to meet Lila on his lunch break, hoping she can do the sponsor thing and get him calm and centered. She doesn’t really help, though Dex does discover she works with “found art” (though in Lila’s case, it’s more like stolen), with pieces in her studio that are fairly disturbing, mannequins apparently eating each other and the like.
When Dex mentions to Rita that he may not be getting much help from Lila, Rita suggests that maybe Dex would be better off with an older, male sponsor, and Dex says he’ll consider it.
He eventually meets with Lila, and says the sponsorship is over.

Asking around about Masuka’s find, Dex finally gets the answer from Deb: algae found in the garbage bags. And when he gets to talk to Masuka, Dex finds out that a marine biologist is being brought in to examine the algae, which could tell them where the Butcher keeps his boat docked.
Dex doesn’t quite get it, but knows he has to do something about it. And a chance, throw-away comment by Angel tells Dex what he has to do: sabotage the freezered morgue so the bodies will quickly decompose in the heat, taking the algae with them.
He’s about to make some plans when Lila shows up at the station, asking for another chance. Lila insists there is no absolute good, and no absolute evil. Dex, wanting to just get her off his back, shows her the inside of the morgue.
Expecting her to be repulsed, Lila is instead fascinated by the corpse she is shown. When Dex asks her what she thinks of the Butcher, Lila says “whoever did this is just like you and me.” She goes on to say that everyone has both good and evil in them, making Dex realize that Lila, of all people, can see him, can see through the mask, and is apparently not revolted by what she sees.

Later that evening, Dex busts the cooling unit, making it look like it was carelessness on the garbage men’s part. The following morning, Lundy, Masuka, and the marine biologist arrive to find the bodies badly decomposed, the evidence compromised.
Dex is hopeful for the first time in weeks, when Masuka says it’s a good thing Lundy had the rocks kept apart from the bodies. Apparently, the algae was found on the rocks used to weigh down the garbage bags containing the bodies, rocks that are assumed to have been picked up in the area where the Butcher’s boat was docked. And the biologist’s taken the rocks and could have results soon.
So poor Dex could still be screwed.

Meanwhile, advise from Lundy gets Deb to chance an encounter with Gabriel (Dave Baez) from the gym, leading to some casual sex that Dex walks in on.
Another conversation with Lundy gets Deb to consider having a real relationship with Gabriel, and when they see each other in the gym again, and Gabriel suggests he wouldn’t mind hooking up once more, she suggests a real date instead. Gabriel agrees, and a date is set.

Meanwhile still, Pasquale (Jake 2.0’s Judith Scott) has a shirt from her fiancée that she wants analyzed, since she can smell another woman on it. She asks Dex first, but so as to help overload Masuka, he directs Pasquale to him. But when Masuka doesn’t give her the results she’s looking for, she has a meltdown in the middle of the station.
In the wake of this very public display, LaGuerta is put back in charge of Homicide.
Later on, in what is quite possibly the most shocking moment of the episode, we see LaGuerta in bed… with Pasquale’s fiancée! She then proceeds to dump his a$$. Now that she’s maneuvered Pasquale into a meltdown, she’s got what she needs: her job back.
Of course, it could not be as premeditated and cold-blooded as all that, but one must admit, that’s the way it looks.

Over on the Rita front, Cody (Preston Bailey) is having nightmares about the Bay Harbor Butcher, and Dex tries to assuage the little guy’s fears by telling him the Butcher only goes after bad guys and doesn’t go after kids. Still, Rita is incensed that this Butcher is giving her son nightmares and wishes only the worst to befall him.
Rita is also visited by her mother, Gail (Poltergeist’s JoBeth Williams; hurrah!!), who never really liked Paul, and has been at a distance for a long time. And though Gail casts her vote for the Butcher—who is, after all, cleaning up Miami’s streets—she tells Rita Dex is a very good actor, and that she senses he’s keeping a secret. (Hopefully, Rita will think it’s the drugs issue, though something tells me she’s going to assume it’s some sort of torrid affair with Lila…)

There are also subplots involving the investigation of a number of Butcher victims who don’t seem to have criminal records—in which Angel has to deal with a woman who claims her husband never killed anyone—and Doakes’ special ops past as a Ranger (though the latter seems an ill fit in the episode).
Despite that quibble though, this episode is a particularly good one, with developments in both Deb and LaGuerta’s lives (I mean, wow, I so bought into the whole LaGuerta standing up for a sister-in-the-force thing, but it looks like she’s really a stone-cold b!tch), while the Butcher investigation continues to get downright hairy for Dex.
And hey, I love Poltergeist and I love JoBeth Williams, the obvious chemistry between Williams and Craig T. Nelson a large part of what makes Poltergeist so special. I hope she hangs around Miami a while.

(Image courtesy of

Friday, November 9, 2007


If you are—as I am—a David Lynch devotee, you’ll understand when I say that sometimes, to even attempt a brief synopsis of his films is sheer folly. Well, Inland Empire is one of those times.
The best I can say is, Nikki Grace (Lynch collaborator and co-producer Laura Dern) is an actress poised for a career-defining role, via the project On High in Blue Tomorrows, directed by Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons).

Now, since this is a Lynch film, this is hardly the only thing Inland Empire is about. Lynch’s latest is a three-hour odyssey that twists its way deep into one of the director’s labyrinthine cinematic constructs where the terms “time” and “linear narrative” are meaningless.
All things Lynchian are here: the odd tangents in conversation; characters moving and dancing backwards; the eerie, unsettling soundscapes; the set-up from his bizarre sitcom Rabbits; the dream logic; the strobes; the beautiful women. All these and more keep us company as the film’s narrative slips and slides across the screen in that peculiar, surreal hopscotch way that is vintage Lynch.

Inland Empire is also a chance to spend time with some great performers, from more past Lynch collaborators—Twin Peaks’ Grace Zabriskie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’s Harry Dean Stanton, Mulholland Drive’s Justin Theroux, and Wild At Heart’s Diane Ladd (also Dern’s mother)—to newcomers to the Lynch universe like Cabin Fever’s Jordan Ladd and a nearly unrecognizable Julia Ormond. (There are also some great, but brief cameos that I’ll keep under my hat for your maximum, delighted surprise.)

Additionally, this is, hands down, one of the scariest horror movies I’ve seen in many a moon.
That could be an odd statement, but if you consider that many of Lynch’s feature films function like art house horror movies—they expertly rivet the audience to a place of pure dread and foreboding, without resorting to masked killers, long-haired contortionist ghosts, or psychopathic torturers—I think it’s a fair assessment.
The fact that Inland Empire can, in some sections, both scare and unsettle, while in others, move emotionally, is testament to Lynch’s artistry and genius (and Dern’s amazing turn).

The beauty of a storyteller like David Lynch is that, I know I can give him my hand and my complete trust, certain that no matter how dark things become, no matter how strange and uncertain the turns the tale takes get, that the end point will always be a place where things will make some sort of bizarre sense.
The feeling I get with Lynch is that he will always take my hand and allow my fingers to feel the edges of the narrative, and from there, give me enough to intuit the story he is telling, to feel the tale’s geography so I can fathom it in its entirety and make of it what I will.
As clumsy as my attempts are to convey my feelings of a Lynchian experience, film critic Michael Atkinson puts it in these terms, “[Inland Empire is] one of the rare films that teaches you—obliquely—how to watch it.”
I think Atkinson’s sentiment is the same thing I was talking about, but put in his words, and I think it’s a common characteristic of all of Lynch’s films. It’s all in there, hidden in the shadows of the creepy, surreal bits, all there for us to find, so long as we’re alert, and aware, and willing to look towards the dark for the answers.

Watching Inland Empire is like stepping through a massive cobweb. Walking away, you still feel the strands and shreds clinging to you, and try as you might, your mind still tells you they’re there, on your skin, even after you’ve frantically brushed yourself off.
Actually, the best of Lynch’s ouevre can leave you with that feeling. The fact that Inland Empire is a three-hour mainline of Lynchian sensibilities just makes it stand out all the more.

Now, given that one of Inland Empire’s backdrops is the equally surreal world of Hollywood film-making, it cannot help but recall Mulholland Drive. But there are also elements and flourishes that hearken back to Lost Highway, as well as Satoshi Kon’s brilliant anime mindf*ck, Perfect Blue.
If you loved any (or all) of the above, chances are, you’ll love Inland Empire too.

Parting shot: And if you thought Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko and Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever cast rabbits in a sinister light, well think again…

Parting shot 2: This is the first film Lynch chose to shoot on digital, and the results are just as visually arresting as his previous works.

(Inland Empire OS and UK quad courtesy of; DVD cover art of Limited Edition Two-Disc Set courtesy of; image courtesy of

reVIEW (30)

At best, I have vague recollections of the Jay Anson novel (creepy) and the 1979 film adaptation (not so creepy) starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, so the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror is going to be judged pretty much on its own merits, as it should be, without comparisons to either of its previous incarnations.
Produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes (who also produced the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hitcher), and helmed by first-time feature director Andrew Douglas (whose previous film was the documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus), this version sees Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity, Van Wilder: Party Liaison) and Melissa George (Mulholland Drive, TV’s Alias, and the upcoming 30 Days of Night) as George and Kathy Lutz, the beleaguered couple allegedly driven out of their home by demonic entities a mere four weeks after moving into their new Long Island residence.

Like the Platinum Dunes remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror is clearly of that slick (and slickly-edited) breed of Hollywood horror movie that isn’t necessarily horrifying. The script (by Scott Kosar, who also retooled the Massacre script) doesn’t really help either, giving us no real sense of character deterioration on George’s part. One minute he’s fine and they’ve just moved in, then he sees the ghost of a little girl, and the next day, he’s doing a Jack Nicholson in The Shining, all dark and moody and borderline psychopathic.
To be perfectly fair, Reynolds does a creditable job of channeling his dark side, effectively erasing his hokey comedic TV sitcom self, but the problem is, he’s like a light switch: outside the house, he’s fine; in the house, he’s definitely not. We get no sense of any sort of encroachment on George’s personality, say, as he drives up to the house. All we have is Good George, and Bad George. The script shows no finesse when it comes to this aspect of the story.
The sense of the house as an entity onto itself, the true brooding monster of the piece, influencing and tainting those within, is also decidedly absent. There is no sense of the house as the source of the evil, of the house as a separate, sinister character. It’s just there, for the quick and the dead to run around in.

And though the young cast members, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, and Chloe Grace Moretz, as Billy, Michael, and Chelsea Lutz, respectively, are capable young actors, none submit any breakthrough performances, and character actor Philip Baker Hall (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Gus Van Sant’s colour remake of Psycho, and TV’s Millennium) is seen too little of, as Father Callaway, who does a bad job of blessing the haunted house and is chased off by a horde of flies for his troubles.
As a result, the film becomes a series of scares (some passably effective, some not) that not only doesn’t cohere properly, it also doesn’t seem to build up towards the film’s climax. We jump from Day 1 to Day 15 to Day 28 (or at least, that’s what it feels like).

Strangely, the scenes that seem to work the best are those that don’t involve scares per se, but those that have Bad George terrorizing his stepchildren, actions that tread the thin line between discipline and abuse. These scenes are scary in an entirely different way than flitting ghosts or bleeding walls.

Sadly though, when all is said and done, The Amityville Horror doesn’t really add up to a whole lot, and is yet another black mark on the score card of Platinum Dunes’ horror film remakes.
Even worse, Bay and company have more remakes in the pike: Near Dark (which originally had Heroes’ flying Petrelli, Adrian Pasdar, and an Aliens contingent consisting of Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein) and The Birds.
You’d think that Bay would steer clear of Hitchcock, but the man apparently has titanium balls and an ego the size of Texas…

(The Amityville Horror OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of

(The above is a slightly altered version of a review originally entitled “Another 28 Days Later.”)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Season 1 Episode 3
“The Fun In Funeral”
Written by Bryan Fuller
Directed by Paul Edwards

We kick off with a flashback to Ned’s time in private school, immediately following his mother’s death, where he quickly establishes the whole one-minute window deal by experimenting on some CGI fireflies.
We then settle down to the heart of this episode’s matter: Louis Schatz (Brad Grunberg, real-life brother of Heroes’ Greg), brother of Lawrence (also played by Grunberg), suspects foul play in his brother’s death, and hires Emerson to get to the bottom of it.
Here are the facts: the dead Schatz brother was caught pilfering family heirlooms from the funeral home’s clients, a crime which was made public, causing a furor and an avalanche of hate mail demanding items back. Louis suspects that Lawrence was murdered by one of the disgruntled family members.
What no one knows, except for Emerson and Ned, is that Lawrence was the unfortunate living being-in-close-proximity when Chuck was not returned to her deceased state after the one minute window.

Emerson tries to get Ned to interview Lawrence without Chuck present, but she manages to be at the morgue. When Ned sees who the dead body is though, he panics and rushes out. Annoyed, Emerson makes it clear to Chuck what keeping her around cost. Chuck, confused and guilty about the circumstances of her return from the dead, keeps her emotional distance from Ned.
Later on though, Chuck says she’d like Ned to talk to Lawrence, and she’d like to be there too, so Ned can apologize, and she can say “Thank you.” (Emerson, of course, wants to be there so he can find out where all the family heirlooms are, so he can make some kind of profit from all of this.)

When they talk to Lawrence though, it turns out that it’s Louis who knows where the heirlooms are, and the whole investigation was to throw suspicion off him. Chuck also finds her father’s watch in Lawrence‘s possession.
Emerson is just getting down to planning Louis‘ surveillance, hoping he’ll find out where the loot is, when Louis is discovered in The Pie Hole’s refrigerator, now just as dead as Lawrence. In a panic, Ned calls Emerson, who says someone’s framing Ned, and that that someone already probably called the cops.
Cue cops knocking at The Pie Hole’s door.
So Ned touches Louis, and they tell him he’s gotten into Heaven, but Heaven’s about to close in a minute, so he’s got to hustle. Ned, Chuck, and the reanimated Louis scramble to Emerson’s car, which he pulls into the Pie Hole’s back alley. They also manage to find out that Louis choked on his food when he was once again accosted by an irate family member demanding a Civil War heirloom be returned. The minute runs out though before they can find out where the loot is hidden.

Upon hearing about a Civil War heirloom, Chuck recalls one of the hate letters mentioning just that, a letter written by Wilfred Woodruff. So they know who inadvertently caused Louis‘ death, and who attempted to frame Ned.
First though, they attempt to get Louis‘ body back to the funeral home, where he died. The place is all locked up though, and they break in through a basement window. Emerson however, gets Winnie the Pooh-stuck, much to Chuck’s amusement.
There’s minor panic as Ned bumps into a number of cadavers in the basement, though he quickly touches them again.
There is, however, someone else in the basement: Wilfred Woodruff (That ‘80’s Show’s Eddie Shin), who has found his family’s Civil War saber (there’s also a funny flashback to show us how an Asian-American connects to the Civil War).
Apparently, Woodruff was there the day Lawrence died, and seeing Ned run out of the funeral home, simply assumed Ned had murdered Lawrence (thus, the frame-up). A duel ensues, Woodruff armed with the saber, Ned, with some funeral home equipment.
With a little help from Chuck and Pooh-stuck-in-the-window, Ned wins the duel, and finds the loot.

Chuck then takes it upon herself to match hate letters to missing family heirlooms, and sets about gift-wrapping each item so it can be returned. Emerson also sees the error of his ways… and vows to lose some weight.

In the episode’s subplot, Olive sees Ned and Chuck kiss (through a sheet of plastic wrap) and gets light-headed, inadvertently becoming the object of Alfredo (Find Me Guilty’s Raul Esparza) Aldarisio’s attention. Alfredo’s a traveling salesman who sells homeopathic cures for all sorts of illnesses, including depression.
When Chuck is given some samples of Alfredo’s wares, and upon discovering from Louis Schatz that her aunts spiraled back into depression just as the Darling Mermaid Darlings were about to make a splashy comeback, she decides to anonymously bake them a pie, and mixes a few drops of happiness in the recipe.
But when The Delivery Boy (Malcolm In The Middle’s Victor Z. Isaac) sees the address is out of his regular area, he refuses to deliver it. Feeling sympathy for the pie and its intended recipients, Olive takes it upon herself to deliver the pie herself.
She then meets the Darling Mermaid Darlings, and is regaled of tales of their dead niece Charlotte, who happened to be the childhood sweetheart of the “Beaver Boy” next door, who grew up to be a Pie Maker.
That’s when it all clicks in Olive’s head: now she believes that Ned faked Chuck’s death, and that there’s some nefarious reason behind the conspiracy.
And in her fixation on Ned, Olive remains oblivious to the attention being paid her by Alfredo…

If you frequent the Iguana, you know I love Pushing Daisies, and this episode’s no exception.
Sure, this one’s got some defects (the motivation for the frame-up seems a little muddled, and just how did Chuck get into the funeral home anyway, given that the door was supposedly locked and Emerson Pooh had jammed up the window?), but the writing continues to be funny, and the romantic tension is still both taut and touching, and the stylized look of the show remains some of the best eye candy primetime TV has to offer.
Oh, and Jim Dale’s narration is just plain brilliant.

(Image courtesy of

Season 4 Episode 12
“The Cannes Kids”
Written by Doug Ellin
Directed by Mark Mylod

Whereas Season 2 brought the boys to Sundance, this season’s finale sees them in the heady celluloid market place that is Cannes.
Everyone (particularly E) is staying positive about selling Medellin for some big bucks, while the person most anxious about getting a deal, “sober for one year now despite having all these topless enablers around me” Nicky Rubenstein, is stuck back in the States under house arrest.
When they get to the hotel though, who do they see but Prince Yair, who came this close to producing Medellin back in Season 3’s “The Prince’s Bride.” Yair is no longer married, and wants to get into the film releasing business big time, and he’s willing to make a deal for Medellin, sight-unseen.
Ari doesn’t really like the idea, as this’ll be Yair’s first crack at distributing a film, but Nicky calls Ari and tells him to take the meeting.

At Yair’s yacht, Johnny does the Macarena, and Yair lays out the deal. $35 million, before anyone else sees a single frame of film. $35 million, is of course, the total budget of Medellin, and that would recoup everyone’s money.
E is willing to entertain the notion of taking the deal, but everyone else is leery of Yair, so Ari (aka “Master of the Universe”) stirs up a little wheel-and-deal action.
He drops a word or two in Dana Gordon’s lap. Then, who do the boys run into but Harvey Weingard, who got screwed by them a second time, over Medellin, in this season’s “Malibooty/Sorry, Harvey.”
Harvey’s still pissed off, but when Ari sees Dana watching from a distance, he throws his arms around Harvey, making Dana think Harvey’s the power player angling for Medellin. So Dana bites and sets up a morning meeting, hours before the Medellin premiere.

At the meeting, Dana plunks down $15 million, but that’s way below what Ari’s aiming for. He says $50 million, Dana balks in very colourful language, and is walking away from the table when Vince says, “The offer’s $35 million.” Dana says she isn’t authorized to make that big an offer.
Some wrangling takes place, and Turtle gets a call from Johnny. When Johnny asks how things are going, Turtle says, “Great. It looks like they’re gonna get $50 mil for Medellin.”
As it turns out, Johnny’s back on Yair’s yacht (more on that later), and automatically passes this little nugget onto Yair.
Back at the meeting, Dana can go no higher than $28 mil, so Vince and E agree to put off getting their money back till the film makes a profit, and though Dana still has to make up some of the difference on her end, the deal is struck. As everyone is going off for a drink, Ari gets a call from Nicky. Yair just called him and Nicky sold Medellin for a whopping $75 million. (Nicky’s also about to fall off the wagon in a very big way.)
Now Ari just has to break the news to Dana…

This season winds down at the Medellin premiere, where the audience pretty much gives their thumbs down—and some boos—to the film (just as E feared they would). Dana thanks Ari for not having bought the film, Billy gets vocal, and Yair backs out of the deal, since no papers were signed.
Harvey sidles up to the boys, and agrees to buy the film, since he actually agrees with E that there’s something in Medellin.
Of course, he agrees to buy Medellin for $1. (As Ari points out after they take the deal, Harvey did wonders for Shakespeare In Love when he took his scissors to it…)

Meanwhile, it’s actually the episode’s Johnny Drama subplot that leads up to the episode’s final scene.
It turns out that Drama’s a big thing in France because of Viking Quest, and he meets Jacqueline (Julia Levy-Boeken) on Yair’s yacht. Jacqueline (along with the rest of her family) is a huge Viking Quest fan, and she’s so ready to get into bed with Drama.
When they get back to the hotel though, the room Drama’s given (after a mix up with his reservation) is far too small for his taste and doesn’t align with the ideal image in his head of his bedroom encounter with Jacqueline. So he goes off to complain, leaving her in the room to wait for his return.
And in true Johnny Drama fashion, gets kicked out of the hotel.
He subsequently tries to hook up with Jacqueline again, but can’t seem to find her. He eventually returns to Yair’s yacht, but she’s not there either. Drama ends up spending the night at the yacht, which is why he’s there when Turtle makes that ill-advised comment about Medellin’s going price.
It’s at the red carpet of the Medellin premiere that Jacqueline shouts at Drama from the crowd, and he takes her up in his arms and whisks her off to the beach. Drama misses the premiere, but ends up having long, hot sex with Jacqueline on the beach, which is where the paparazzi and passersby are rushing off when Vince and the boys exit the premiere with the $1 Medellin booty.
They flock to the beach as well, where they cheer Johnny on, and we close on another season of Entourage.

Parting shot: Season 5 is tentatively scheduled to air in mid-2008, provided the WGA strike ends soon. Let's keep our fingers crossed...

(Images courtesy of