Sunday, August 30, 2009

TV Review Eureka "You Don't Know Jack"


Memory. It's a weird thing. While there are no guarantees of an item sticking, some people can get things to be held onto for a long time. Tess (Jaime Ray Newman) decides she can increase the odds of retention by creating a StoryNest. Think of a time capsule, and you get the idea. Upon first glance, this does not seem too bad. Give townspeople a glowing orb and tell them to think of a special time or person. Once compiled, they are stored together in one central spot. Dr. Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston) throws the project into chaos, and hilarity begins!

I have to feel a certain degree of sympathy for Fargo. After all, it's better to be thought of as a person highly capable than a consistent mistake maker. Therefore, the solution is a simple one. Put in a memory where he is deemed smarter, and remove those which have him acting like a birdbrain. However, more than a few are hit with selective amnesia. Jo (Erica Cerra) forgets the soup she orders, and what kind. No biggie. The trouble arises when those who work at Global Dynamics forget about the once a year cleaning of their facility.

Allison (Salli Richardson Whitfield) and Jack (Colin Ferguson) are trapped inside the lab where Tess works. In order for them to get out, Allison needs to override the system. Obviously, Jack cannot. Cue the flashbacks!

For viewers who are not regular fans of Eureka, each set of clips relate to a particular theme. The writers did a clever thing. A few characters no longer with the show are added in. Ed Quinn was nice to have back, even if it was only here and there. Frances Fisher shows up in a scene from "Bad to the Drone". Matt Frewer is in one too. My guess is that most clips are from the first season. Even Christopher Jacot pops up when Frances Fisher does. If his name is not familiar, he walks into Cafe Diem with Fisher.

Jordan Hinson does a nice turn as Zoe tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She is not far from graduating high school, and most people in town are way beyond where she is now. Clarity comes, but the answer is still waiting to be fully discussed.

Allison gives birth! A daughter named Jenna, after Nathan's mother She wisely decides to use Nathan's last name of Stark. The baby is his for sure. The blessed event is made even more delightful with Grayston's reaction. Maternity leave now places Tess in charge for a while.

Vincent (Christopher Gauthier) has an advanced degree, who knew?! A nice little tidbit which explains how he comes up with such interesting menu items.

Due to the Labor Day weekend coming up, it will be two more weeks before a new episode appears. However, there is a special item planned. August 4th is a day of Viewer Choice Eureka shows. Fans will at least be able to see past favorite moments. They can also catch some of those episodes they never saw the first time around.

Find this as a part of Blogcritics.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Duped"


Calling all science fiction fans! While the plot this week is typical, go gt the Artifact, the two guest stars are crowd pleasers. Erica Cerra and Niall Matter, whom Eureka fans know as Jo Lupo and Zane Donovan. Neither showed much in the diverse range department, although Matter has a bit of cleverness in a trapped room scene with Joanne Kelly, playing Secret Service Agent and Artifact grabber Myka Bering.

Cerra and Matter portray a married couple who win at the casino. This wouldn't be unusual, since a victory now and then keeps people coming back for more. However, the streak is so high that it gives Artie (Saul Rubinek) cause for concern. Bering and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) head for Vegas to find out why. If only things were this simple.

The Warehouse, you see, contains all sorts of stuff. Each is unique in form and function. One rather large object is a mirror with ties to Lewis Carroll. Who? The author of Alice in Wonderland. Mirrors are made to reflect. This one in particular has the reflection come alive, in a manner of speaking. Astute viewers will recall Pete playing ping pong against his backwards image a few episodes back. The writers take the concept a but further by scripting an interaction between it and the mirrored disco ball from Studio 54. Suffice it to say there is trouble ahead.

It seems Carroll does not write a sweet story about a girl who dresses up to have tea with her closest friends. Alice is actually descending into madness with Carroll scribbling down the details. Poor Myka gets caught in the middle, literally. An Alice who needs a psych ward badly flies inside Myka's body while the real one is trapped in the mirror itself. Artie figures out the truth by a certain body movement. Here's a hint - Pete tells you what it is in the scenes before the opening credits.

Joanne Kelly plays a double role this time around, which gives audience members a chance to see a new side of her. It's markedly different than the uptight federal intelligence officer she typically plays. A nod to her stint on The Dresden Files, perhaps. With the little black dress, though, McClintock should have been wearing a tux. Come to think of it, Matter should have had one on too. The casino is classy, befitting high rollers. I can't think of a man alive who does not look good in a penguin suit.

McClintock tends to get some of the best lines, and the "Let's stay together" is a clever one. Since he doesn't actually sing the line, the effect isn't coming off as cheesy.

The kiss between Cerra and Matter is old hat. They play a couple on Eureka whose commitment is deep. I would not be surprised to find out they are dating when the cameras are off. McClintock and Kelly kissing is another issue altogether. More than likely, they enjoyed the moment. She is an attractive woman, and he has been an actor long enough to know how to lock lips. Emily Deschanel would likely agree. The chemistry with those two on Bones was nice to watch. I digress, though.

Claudia (Allison Scagliotti Smith) returns, and her camera is critical to cracking the case wide open. She now knows about McPherson, the old friend of Artie's who is reeking havoc ("Implosion"). For now, she and Leena (Genelle Williams) have not come into direct contact with the man. This is a good thing. This guy is ruthless, and will stop at nothing to rule the day. Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) and company are going to have their hands full once everybody meets again.

Artie and Mrs. F know all too well a Warehouse agent is easily killed in the line of duty. Any loss is heartbreaking, and this causes them extra concern. Everyone is critical to the team. Pete and his compassion, Myka with her logical precision, Claudia's gadgets, and a working knowledge of the system by Artie along with Mrs. Frederic. Even Leena contributes by a strong intuition, although this might be better described as extra sensory perception.

While only a handful of episodes are left in this season, talk on the Internet says a Season 2 renwal has taken place. This might be a good time for actors identified with cast members to show up. As in Bones people. John Francis Daley or Michaela Conlin come to mind. The Dresden Files lead character makes a lot of sense for a show with odd goings on. Rubinek is known for his work on Frasier. David Hyde Pierce? Admittedly, he poses a problem since he works on Broadway. Scheduling conflicts, not his acting ability. Pounder, I believe, was on ER sometime ago. There's boatload of folks who can be added, however I will mention one name in particular. Laura Innes, who longtime fans know as Dr. Kerry Weaver.

See more at Blogcritics.

Music Review SIX PACK by Straight No Chaser


Straight No Chaser might just be the best group you've never heard of. Why? They are not exactly the same type of regular music people typically found on the radio. In fact, they hit their biggest stride last year with the release of The 12 Days of Christmas. The song, not an album.

A bit of a background is in order. Fall 1996 at Indiana University. Ten guys form a group dedicated to singing a cappella. In other words, no accompaniment to speak of. Which is as difficult as the image implies. One goof, and the audience instantly knows it. A couple of guitars and a keyboard would at least cover up part of the bad singing, but this form of vocal performance relies solely on what comes out of someone's mouth. Perhaps the best way to describe a cappella is to imagine auditions on American Idol where the contestants which viewers get to vote on are chosen. Everyone simply sings, whether or not they should be.

Dan Ponce, who founded the group, has two requirements for those who wish to become members. First, they need solid vocal chops. The bigger issue, of course, is the ability to blend well with everyone else. Second, personality is absolutely critical. If they are going to perform in front of other people, it helps if the audience likes them. Did it work? This is an understatement. Lou Rawls has had this group for an opening act. Footage of their efforts can be seen on YouTube where they are singing in front of crowds at Wrigley field. Chicagoans appreciate them. Even Carnegie Hall is not an obstacle. The National Championship of Collegiate A Cappella bestowed first prize on these guys. With the release of their third album, 50 000 copies were sold.

The only thing which stands in their way is graduation. After all, this is a college group. No worries, those who are leaving make sure to handpick the next set. This helps the dream continue. About those YouTube videos - Indiana University decided a 2006 reunion was in order for the original team. Randy Stine, a member, produces a DVD and posts clips for the guys to enjoy. Needless to say, "The 12 Days of Christmas" got more watchers. Try to get seven million in 2007 alone around your mind. Craig Kallman, CEO and Chairman of Atlantic Records, saw them too. The rest, as they say, is history.

Six Pack is an EP of six selections which are not in the holiday genre. Both popular and classic songs make up the collection, which just might help increase sales. While the success of Holiday Spirit might not be duplicated, proceeds should not be too shabby.

"Rehab" kicks off things. Originally by Amy Winehouse, it's a good choice. Opening notes pop with a kicky beat, entrancing and fun. Jerome Collins, the soloist, sings the actual song, but everyone has a part to play. Several can be heard in the background contributing an "Ah". They make a pleasant harmony. Some split off into a fresh group, which is also delightful. Clapping helps keep a strong rhythm going.

"I'm Yours" mixed with "Over the Rainbow" hit a few snags. What is first heard is a caribbean type beat. From what I could tell, this just might be an original arrangement. Where did it go wrong? The mix. I expect to hear a song which someone else covers with a version matching the familiar. As in, Judy Garland sings The Wizard of Oz. The bits Straight No Chaser threw in clashed with what they started out with.

"Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours" is my favorite song. Not only does it sound like the Motown hit, the fun is contagious. Jerome Collins solos again, and I almost thought he was a carbon copy of Stevie Wonder. From the opening to its end, this is flawless. One small item- "I was Made to Love Her" is listed on the cover as the other half of the group. Not only it not on the CD listing itself (when it gets played, a list comes up with titles to show where the listener is exactly), it never played! Whoops.

"You Send Me" has Ryan Ahlwardt as the soloist this time. A much slower tune, it works with Ahlwardt's tenor voice. There is a crooning which makes for a nice earful. Some noises akin to bullfrog croaks are a bit offputting, but this is a personal thing. Another may like what I am not keen on. The ooohs and ahs are a sweet touch.

"Can't Take My Eyes Off You" should also be something of a ballad. The pop version which these guys come out with sounds a bit off. I have to wonder if perhaps the issue is having all ten performers singing this. What I keep hearing is a crying baby and a train passing by. The words are lost in the background of those.

For the most part, I like this CD. There is no question of anyone's singing ability. Yes, some stuff could use a bit more refinement. It could simply be due to the songs chosen for a cappella versions. What works for words, lyrics, and a band is different than vocals only.

Also on Blogcritics.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Music Review 9 to 5 The Musical Original Broadway Cast Recording with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton


The world of Broadway Musicals has always been filled with adaptations of television shows along with films. In a way, this makes things a lot easier. Why? Theatre is a lot more freeing. While productions do not anywhere near the big budgets of say, a Steven Spielberg flick, actors are not confined to standing in certain places for the camera. Plus, the interaction with a live audience can be a thrilling experience.

One of the more recent shows to appear on the Great White Way is 9 to 5 the Musical, based on the film with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. Dabney Coleman is also known for his role, although he was never intended to be in a starring part.

Dolly Parton writes the score for the stage version, which basically means she put the music together. Since she is also part of the film, her job is pretty much taken care of. However, her contribution of one or two more songs is not a bad idea.

Dolly Records put together the Original Broadway Cast Recording of 9 to 5: The Musical. If the producers of this show wanted to get actors who are reminiscent of the movie actors in the same roles, they succeeded. The only problem is having the actors sing in full character. Now, presumably, anyone who is cast in a Broadway show has decent vocal chops. I just think sometimes the songs do not reflect their true abilities.

"9 to 5" is the show opener, and the one song most people recognize. The entire cast sings. Stephanie J.Block, who plays Judy (think Jane Fonda), is the standout voice. Judy shares her personal life with the audience in an attitude of determination and perserverance. After hearing her, you like her that much more.

Whoever cast Marc Kudisch as the Dabney Coleman role of Frankin Hart did a great job! The first time he solos is on "Here for You". Talk about a solid baritone voice. It says not to ignore this guy. The vocal strength alone is enough to put him in Tony consideration.

Kathy Fitzgerald first can be heard in "Around Here", where Judy is getting her introduction to the office. Fitzgerald handles the role of officious Roz, Hart's assistant, with the right notes of nitpicky and alpha female.

However, Fitzgerald shines best in "Heart to Hart " where she envisions herself as the only woman Hart ever needs. The song is campy, but audiences are going to smile at Roz and her efforts.

Megan Hilty, who is Doralee, could not be anybody but the person Dolly Parton played in the movie. She has the hardest role vocally. Trying to pull off Broadway lyrics and music isn't easy. The gentle pleading in "Backwoods Barbie" does much to reinforce the idea of there being more to her than meets the eye.

Allison Janney is perhaps the most well known actress in the entire production. Formerly of the television show The West Wing, this is Janney's first adventure in song. As Violet, the part played by Lily Tomlin in the film, Janney does not quite carry off the part vocally too well. It might have something to do with the way the songs are set up. However, "One of the Boys" works for her voice decently enough.

This CD with its selection of tunes gives anyone who listens a clear insight as to how the show is performed. There are stronger productions out on Broadway, but this grouping is not too bad for what it has. Solid acting more than likely helps draw in a crowd night after night.

Published on Blogcritics.

TV Review Eureka "Shower the People"


There's just no telling what life may bring. Each season is a time of new beginnings and a point at which things may come to a close. For Jack (Colin Ferguson) and Henry(Joe Morton), the concept is understood all too well. As the Sheriff, Jack Carter has seen his share of crimes being committed by all sorts of people. No matter how much he may like the person, a lawman has no choice but to put his badge first. Good thing evidence can show the truth and clear a suspect pool of the ones who don't deserve the close scrutiny.

Henry Deacon, the town's mayor, sees it slightly differently. Why not? After all, he once spent time behind bars for nearly closing down Global Dynamics, a research lab which employs more than a few local citizens, for good ("A Night at Global Dynamics"). When confronted, he stepped up to the plate of responsibility. Jack made the arrest himself. Another could have, but Jack knew his friend deserved better.

This week's episode is a powerful one. To start with, a woman drowns in her car. A stretch? Well, maybe not. She might be more likely to be discovered in the engine since that's where the radiator is. However, this is science fiction. One allows a few liberties. The next woman's death helps connect the dots. Almost. Fargo (Neil Grayston) performs the autopsies. He IS a doctor, but the true cause of death is made by Jack adding in one more piece of the puzzle. A sauna is part of it, but you should watch to understand everything.

Tess Fontana (Jaime Ray Newman) gets hurt in the process, which ups the ante of suspense a bit. It's about time something serious happened to her. Giving Jack the elevator scene is a nice touch. Shouldn't CPR include compressions? Ferguson is solid as he realizes a woman he cares for is in trouble, and the emotional blow is hard on him. Grayston is pitch perfect as Fargo recognizes he has the unenviable task of delivering tough news of a hard reality.

Henry has a worse time. The return of a computer who bears the exact image of the woman he loved and lost now has a glitch. Morton and Billy Campbell (The 4400, Once and Again) are nicely suited for the conflict between science and the heart. Kim 2.0, or Tamlyn Tomita as fans well know, is on a mission to deliver information Global Dynamics needs, and badly. Campbell's character, Dr. Manlyus, understands how critical the data retrieval is. Morton sees only his lost love. A tearjerker ending? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how one perceives the situation.

On a lighter note, Allison (Salli Richardson Whitfield) has her baby shower! This poor woman is ready to pop with child number 2. The father is Nathan Stark, although he has long since vanished from the scene. No, he did not abandon her outright. A certain particle accelerator was responsible ("I Do Over"). This celebration of new life is highly amusing. As Allison's birth coach, Jack gets a new appreciation of what the parenting experience is like.

Zoe (Jordan Hinson) and Vincent (Chris Gauthier) returned! they have a fun restaurant scene together. Once more, though, no Zane Donovan (Niall Matter). Drat.

Less than five episodes to go before the season finale. Couldn't Zane be brought back and Tess sidelined for at least one of those episodes? Newman can act, but she's been around since episode three ("Insane in the P-Brane"). It's long past time for her to be written out of something.

On Blogcritics.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review Small Dog Big Life by Dennis Fried


Small Dog Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius by Dennis Fried, is an unusual book. It is the story of Genevieve, a Papillon, who has placed her memoirs down on paper for the world to read. What is a Papillon, you ask? A dog who walks low to the ground and has ears which reminds anyone who sees them of a butterfly. In fact, the word "Papillion" is French for butterfly.

Genevieve is quite the clever canine! She knows she has a story to get out but knows she cannot do the job on her own. Enter Dennis Fried, to whom Genevieve barktates the story of her life along with a few tips on living life to the utmost. Why wait until death to introduce others to just how great she really is?

The logical place is to begin at the beginning. Born to Chloe, Genevieve is one of many in a litter. December 19, 1997, to be exact. A couple of her siblings were actually half relations, but they are all raised together until ready for adoption elsewhere. To make this a true menagerie, a cat is added into the mix. I have to appreciate the biting wit as this strange creature is distinguished from the dogs by being too ugly for membership in the canine variety.

Some background is also provided as to the background of Dennis and Katrina, Genevieve's new family. While each grows up with a dog, their histories could not be any more different. Dennis gets his heart broken by a significant loss and vows never to repeat the experience. Katrina, on the other hand, has always had a dog around. She quite reasonably expects this to continue upon her marriage to Dennis. It will not surprise anyone that there is a brewing clash ahead. Suffice it to say the resolution of the conflict is well worth the read.

While this has twenty chapters, this book is an easy read. A few of the chapters are laugh-out-loud funny. For example, "Dog and Driver" is a step-by-step lesson on the proper way for a dog to assist the human in maneuvering the vehicle. Waiting on the blinker to come on is a helpful signal for steerage. Put hind paws on the lap of human and front on the wheel itself. By shuffling one's paws, just the right amount of pressure is applied. Voila, task accomplished!

"Weather (or Not)" describes life in Florida as one rainstorm away from disaster. The best place to be is, obviously, the bathtub. Our doggie heroine hates rain with everything she's got. Therefore, she is far more likely to stay in the washing receptacle than somewhere else.

"Party Animal" is a celebration of Genevieve's first birthday. She would be completely oblivious to the significance except for one thing. Dennis and Katrina plan a surprise party for her at a store catering to dogs. Between the members of Genevieve's dog family and the humans, people abound. Leave it to a dog to appreciate a cake with liver in the icing. After cake and presents, games are then required. I have to wonder how in the world someone would think bobbing for cookies is enjoyable. After all, does anybody like soggy cookies? Musical chairs rounds out playtime.

"Paw Park Etiquette" is a cute chapter. The physical language of dogs takes on a new dimension as they interact with each other. After one confrontation, a local park creates a section just for smaller dogs. SUC's (sports utility canines) have to converse among themselves. Do you ever wonder if your dog has a personality of its own? Go to a dog park and see. Watch how they interact among others, if at all. Some are natural mixers; others stay aloof, far away from dogs and people.

For the most part, this is an entertaining read. The terms cute and quirky certainly fit. More than likely, though, there will be some who are not going to read this. They may not like small dogs and so picking up the autobiography is pointless. Others could be cat people. Fair enough. I suspect the numbers will be be decent with dog lovers.

Also published on Blogcritics.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Implosion"


Can you say Boom? If so, this is a pretty good indicator of where this week's episode goes. Not only do Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) find themselves smack in the middle of another assignment, the past of Artie (Saul Rubinek) comes to light. Throw in a strong guest star, and the recipe is properly mixed and ready for baking.

The Artifact sought this time? Part of a sword. It's a circle which fits over the blade and comes to rest down near the hilt. Put in plain language, it really goes atop the handle. Why so important? Power. Whoever uses it is fairly indestructible. Not to mention having the ablity to vanish and appear at will.

Under ordinary circumstances, this would hardly be an issue. Pete and Myka go and get their prize, and head home to the Warehouse. This time is a little different. Japanese officials want to give it to the President as a gift. Our thrilling twosome are to run interception at the Japanese embassy. Things don't quite go as planned. Astute viewers will know whodunit in about the first ten minutes.

Simon Reynolds is back as Dickenson, Myka and Pete's former boss. He knows even less about happens in the place in South Dakota than his agents. While I haven't seen Reynolds in much, his attempt to balance work duties and personal feelings is pitch perfect in this episode. Dickenson cares, and the nuances make Reynolds a valuable member of the cast.

Allison Scagliotti-Smith is off, so Claudia doesn't show up. They fixed the credits! Nowhere does it say her name, either in opening or a guest star role. Good. To put her in when she isn't only confuses viewers.

The real nailbiter this time has to do with Artie's past. Why am I not surprised he's a former NSA agent? Whoever wrote the script put in a dingbat line -Artie was a codebreaker! Uh, that's what the National Security Agency DOES. Honestly. Twenty years ago, he alledgedly sold secrets to the Russkies. A name change was in order to keep them from coming after him, but Dickenson had no choice but to act on information he received. Now, a logical conclusion is Artie as a particular type of agent. Think about your classic spy flick, and you'll easily come up with the same conclusion. This has yet to be considered, but it works.

Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) also returns, as the baddie in question could be a man named McPherson. Little is known about what happened to get him on the government watch list. However, the guest star is already known. Roger Rees. Not bad! The chemistry between him and Rubinek is potent. Artie and McPherson were both in love with the same woman, but that's nothing compared to their current clash. Watching these two is delicious, but Rees looks like he's in his 20's. Sheesh. Granted, the lighting was dark. Two more McPherson episodes are on the way, with one being the season finale. As far as I know, there WILL be a Season 2. Nothing indicates Rees is back then, though. Keep in mind this is a summer show. Things could change.

Speaking of lighting, what's with the green lights for science fiction? Eerie is one thing, but to use the same color all the time isn't the smartest idea in the world.

As Leena (Genelle Williams) points out, working for the Warehouse is dangerous. Some have died already. Artie understands this all too well, and so is reluctant to share of himself to Pete and Myka. Miss Curlytop, or Agent Bering, is frustrated at not having every detail so she can be prepared. She correctly points out she is hardly a redshirt. Then again, this is a new experience.

If the rest of the season is anything like "Implosion", viewers will be highly entertained. Seven episodes, and this show has gotten its feet where they need to be. More background should come up, as Pounder, Reynolds, and Williams play characters whose lives are not fully developed as of yet. Also, look for more top name guest stars in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV Review Eureka "Ship Happens"


As Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) and the rest of the town discovered last week, a spaceship landed in the middle of an open field after sending out signals for weeks. The problem was trying to figure out whether they were from a friend or a foe. Only Henry (Joe Morton) deciphered the clues - a flag appeared on the bottom. American.

Henry tells Jack (Colin Ferguson) he is responsible for building the thing. Twenty years ago, to be precise. A person tumbles out, and there's a doozy of a shocker - it's Kim Anderson! This would be the woman Henry lost a while back. One problem, she died. Which Zane (Niall Matter) is able to confirm after a check of the records.

I cannot be entirely sure whether this is the same actress who created the role. For some strange reason, an Internet search yields nothing on the topic. However, I will say this. Whoever claims responsibility for this script is to be commended. A character returns, but the storyline is true to her original death. The premise has Kim 2.0 as a computer who has memories of the original project Henry and Kim worked on. She's not a ghost. Or time traveler, for that matter.

Joe Morton shines as he attempts to figure out if his long lost love is right there in front of him. The scientist knows better, but the man struggles with all too human emotions. He's not the only one.

The show stealer this week? Fargo (Neil Grayston). He is only one of many who has an item used to make the spaceship landing pad. The townspeople teamed up to bring in much needed items ("If You Build It). A converter is swapped by accident, so Fargo snatched it back! Which wouldn't have been a problem except the guy dies. Oops. Grayston's panic as he realizes he could be in big trouble is highly amusing. So is the slap Jo (Erica Cerra) gives him to make him focus. The guilty look he displays at the ultimate Global Dynamics scene is even better.

Only in a science fiction television series would there be a bathing of cast members in a green light. Why is a little tricky to explain. It has to do with a computer virus which attacks anyone in direct contact. Disaster puts Zane in grave danger- you'll have to watch to see what happens.

A nice moment occurs as a street sign is highlighted to reveal its name of Archimedes. This man is credited with tons of discoveries, the most notable being his contributions to the field of mathematics. More than likely, his work is used for the data transfer out of Kim 2.0's memory bank into a research file. She also uses it to demonstrate how long the process would take if she wrote everything out.

Now, I have to wonder if the Artifact is planning to come back into play. This ran through storylines from the past two seasons as highly coveted. Beverly Barlowe (Deborah Farentino) vanished from Eureka in the quest to keep it out of the wrong hands ("A Night at Global Dynamics"). While I am not eager to see her character return, Kim Anderson has me at least considering the continuation of the storyline.

Tess (Jaime Ray Newman) and Jack hold hands during a meteor shower. This seems a bit odd for them to be a couple. Newman is decent, and I have to admit liking her onscreen persona more than Frances Fisher as Eva Thorne. Still. The purpose of her being in town is something of a mystery, and any purpose remains elusive. She should leave before too long, and give viewers a much needed break for a bit.

Jo and Zane are turning into a power couple, as this week clearly demonstrates. These two are a good team. The bad boy versus the strong willed woman. Both are having their edges softened, which is hardly a bad thing.

What happened to Zoe (Jordan Hinson) and Vincent (Chris Gauthier)? They give value to the show by bringing a balance to the work going on at the lab. Gauthier is especially fun as he throws many a zinger at the other cast members.

For a show which has become extremely popular, these last few weeks are duller by comparison with the first two episodes this time around. Only about a month of shows are left before the season comes to a close. The best just might be on their way.

Found as well on Blogcritics.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Burnout"


An artifact and an agent. Basically, that's the latest episode of Warehouse 13 in a nutshell. Of course, this does not describe everything which takes place. Then again, perhaps it does.

Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are sent to a police station this time in hopes of finding out what exactly happens to cause an explosion. While they can safely say electricity is involved, the mystery depends upon the discovery of a Tesla gun. One of their victims is a warehouse agent! Or was, anyway. It will be up to Artie (Saul Rubinek) for purposes of identification.

Good thing Claudia (Allison Scagliotti-Smith) is around. She is able to tweak a machine for reconstructive methods. The idea is a clever one - put a bunch of pictures together in a flat layout and combine. Think of it this way. Remember those magazine photos where each tiny piece helps to make one big picture? Same principle. It just goes a step further and gets identical images to cancel each other out. In other words, two photos with a right hand are practically laid on top of one another so only one appears in the final composite.

Even more compelling than the mystery itself is a woman named Rebecca. Not only does she have a relationship with the dead agent, she has a secret of her own. If Roberta Maxwell looks a bit familiar, you might recognize her from Dead Man Walking, where she played the mother of Sean Penn's character.

Kelly and Maxwell are two women whose onscreen personas are struggling with a loss. The difference is how long each has had to deal with it. For Kelly, the Myka Bering persona sees a former partner die as a result of a mission gone wrong. Is Myka responsible? Maybe. Although, this has not yet been fully talked about. For someone with a take charge personality and handling things by the book, the sight of Kelly staying put and leaving Myka in a state of helplessness is more than a little disturbing. Maxwell takes on the role of a person who has been around long enough to take whatever comes her way in stride. Could Rebecca return down the road? More than likely, although not necessarily in person.

Poor Eddie McClintock! Not only does he get thrown through a truck while trying to snatch an artifact ("Elements"), he gets hurt again this week with an artifact attached to his body. Being the lead role, the chance of him not lasting through the season is a little remote. However, anything can go on short of death. I will give him this, the transformation into an evil entity isn't bad. The scariness factor is there without any viewer having to hide under a blanket.

Half of the premiere season is over, with a handful to go before the finale. The stories are solid, usually. Guest stars often help in drawing viewers to this science fiction quirky drama. It shouldn't be long before a well known face shows up again. Rumors are more from the scifi world are due for an appearance. Who? watch and find out!

Can be found on Blogcritics.

TV Review Eureka "If You Build It"


Ships and smart cars and zombie teens oh my! Amazingly, all three of these are in the same episode of Eureka. Leave it to the brains to make cars which practically drive themselves to various destinations without any effort on the part of the owner. How? By means of computer programmed streets. Think of cars which have the ability to park with the touch of a few buttons. It already exists in some cars on the market. Add in voice command and hands free steering and you get the idea. Sort of. The visual image is easier than any written description. Go watch.

Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), the town Sheriff, is hardly comforted by the newfangled vehicles. Zoe (Jordan Hinson), his daughter, is behind the wheel. She's a sensible young woman who still goes through her share of teenage troubles. This is mild compared to the sudden rash of stuff stolen suddenly. A cute moment takes place since Jack's desk chair is among the missing. He notices, but not before he falls to the floor. Investigation is required.

The set designer should be pleased with the efforts of crew to turn a field into a towering junkyard. Large metal piles give historians a gleeful look into modern day culture. Even the kitchen sink! How perfect. Each stack forms a small mass, and they are laid out nicely in a pattern. Could they be waiting for something?

Salli Richardson Whitfield does a smart turn having to deal with the possibility of danger ahead. Allison, her character, takes her job seriously. There must be preparation for an attack. Throw in raging hormones via pregnancy, and nerves are bound to fray. Jamie Ray Newman, or Tess Fontana, as viewers are well aware, plays her scientist role with passion. A chance like no other could be looming, so why in the world would a gun be raised? Better an outstretched hand. General Mansfield has given orders. He doesn't appear onscreen often, fortunately. Barclay Hope is a decent actor, but he works better on an occasional basis. Loaded weapons are just in case.

The drama builds while townspeople wait on the whatever. I won't ruin the surprise, but it's where the thing came from, rather than what it actually is. Henry (Joe Morton) steps up just in time - the absolute last minute. My favorite part is the downward flop. You'll see it when you watch.

Fargo (Neil Grayston) and Larry (Christopher Jacot) provide the comic relief. The car with more than a few quirks only serves as the catalyst for their ongoing feud of hatred. It takes Jo (Erica Cerra) to figure out the car is only a metaphor in regards to Fargo's relationship issues. He's a nice guy, but useless when it comes to being around women. Too bad. A sly reference to Knight Rider pops up in the form of Tabitha, the talking car who is more than a bit of trouble. A certain trunk scene is laugh out loud funny. Even better is the line "What goes on in the trunk, stays in the trunk". Jacot and Grayston play off one another with perfect precision.

Zane's back! Niall Matter delivers the snark, but also has a great range of emotion. He is completely believable when he shatters the misconceptions of Jack in regards to the town trouble. With Zane around, Tess and her mania are balanced out. Perhaps she can go on a hiatus before too long? For someone who is only supposed to be a recurring character, Newman has been consistently in each episode since her first appearance in "Insane in the P-Brane". Consider who she replaced. Frances Fisher and Ed Quinn. Those two were much stronger.

Half the series is left before the season finale on Sept. 11. now that what's coming has pretty much arrived, the storyline should probably turn to why. Rumor has it two characters from the previous two seasons are scheduled for a return. While it could be anyone, more than likely these won't be unknown persons.

Stay tuned!

also published on Blogcritics.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Book Review Oishinbo A la Carte Fish Sushi & Sashimi by Tetsu Kariya


Oishinbo A la Carte Fish Sushi & Sashimi is another manga story collection by Tetsu Kariya with Art by Akira Hanasaki. It continues the story of the hunt for the Ultimate Menu. Yamaoka Shiro may not be the hardest worker at the Tozai News, but he has an impeccable palate when it comes to food. Thus, he is given the assignment of finding the best in Japanese culture to be part of a celebration for the paper's 100th anniversary.

Easy enough, right? Well, no. A rival newspaper is in competition to serve up its own version called the Supreme Menu. Kaibara Yuzan, Shiro's father, is leading the other search. Since father and son don't get along anyway, the constant contact with one another does not exactly help matters. Yuzan does not appreciate just how fine a taste his son has. Worse, he has nothing but what seems like contempt for his offspring.

There is, perhaps, one small silver lining to the conflict. As much as Shiro might resent the condescension, he is generally pushed to greater heights. Most of the time. After reading this, I think readers will understand why Shiro is angry on a regular basis. He has people who are too quick to state out loud just how worthless they believe he is. Very rarely is there a word of praise.

Fish is the theme this time. For example, which flounder makes the best sashimi? There has been a long standing school of thought to favor the left handed flounder. Whether it not it holds up will be for the reader to discover. Salmon turns out to be a serious topic of discussion when both sides have to prepare it in an official contest. Shinko Kohada proves problematic as Shiro is challenged to prepare it in a way other than sushi.

Relationships are more closely explored in this volume. Shiro and Kurita Yuko, the other Tozai News employee assigned to the Ultimate Menu preparations, would hookup just fine if left to their own devices. One of their coworkers uses a flower illustration in an attempt to make them more of a couple. It backfires. This won't surprise any regular fan of this series.

Despite the intended focus to be Shiro and his Menu hunt, a stronger portrait is painted this time of women. I found them particularly disturbing. Why would it matter what a guy does in his spare time if he is not actively dating someone? I get the impression these aggressive females have never heard the term stalking. Even worse is the fight between Shiro and Yuko after a misunderstanding.Two people working on the same assignment should be able to go on separate tasks once in a while without the other person getting upset.

A lesson on how to prepare grilled salmon skin is also included.

Previously published on Blogcritics.

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Elements"


Items stolen from an auction is perfectly reasonable. After all, they would be sold for a pretty good amount of money. Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) soon realizes there is an unusual history attached. Send in the retrieval team! For Mkya Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), the task is made a little easier by a tip about two men who were high bidders for the final piece in a collection. Gilbert Radburn (James Naughton) is one potential suspect, but the more interesting is Jeff Weaver (Joe Flanigan Stargate Atlantis)

Why? Artie knew Weaver's father once. If the son is anything like him, our intrepid investigators should watch their backs with everything they've got.

This week is another one of those with a well known guest star so audiences will be drawn in. Does it work? The fact Flanigan was the lead role of a science fiction television series a while back helps somewhat. The fact of SG Atlantis having its series finale already has more to do with the story coming to a close than acting strength. So far, two actors connected to a scifi show have been part of Warehouse 13. One Ticia Helfer and Flanigan. They are from two different series, obviously. However, the hope is that fans will tune in even more to see a favorite celebrity in action.

The setup, although compelling, is a bit problematic. Chances are any viewer with common sense can narrow it down to one of the two men listed above. Equal are the odds of Naughton or Flanigan taking the role of villain. Who the culprit turns out to be is a surprise which is nicely laid out plot wise. I have to hand it to the writers for picking such a simple premise of using four elements to work as one. Each gives a unique power to the person who has them all. The special effects when they do is particularly nice.

Nielsen, though, has a bigger problem than whether or not his two field operatives bring back the artifact in question. He knows them well enough to realize they are fully equipped to do so.

Claudia (Allison Scagliotti-Smith) once kidnapped Nielsen for her own purposes ("Claudia"). The security breach is cause for concern. Worse yet, the woman has a brother,Joshua, a brilliant researcher who is now without a clue as to his next steps. Since the choices are limited as regards to safety, Artie finds him a job in Switzerland. This might be the last of Tyler Hynes, but this is also scifi. Anything can happen down the road.

Perhaps the character to watch this week is Leena (Genelle Williams), the psychic who runs the bed and breakfast ("Pilot"). She is quick to notice other people's emotions and quicker to understand what those mean. Williams might not have the same instant recognition the others have, but her appearances are always worth the wait. It is going to be interesting to see what her backstory is.

Much better job on the credits this time! For once, the top three characters have their pictures out beside the names of the actors portraying them. Hynes was left off the guest star list completely. Whoops! He appears in two episodes back to back, so it's not as if viewers would not recognize him. Could it have been left off on purpose, since the writers planned his exit well in advance of the character exiting? Possibly, but I don't agree with the reasoning if so.

Scagliotti-Smith has shown she has the acting chops to be an integral part of this cast. Claudia is a sassy genius who provides a stark contrast from the easygoing Pete and straightlaced Myka. She lives by the use of street smarts, which should prove very interesting to the Warehouse workings.

On Blogcritics.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

TV Review Eureka "Its Not Easy Being Green"


Just so you know, Kermit is not among the guest stars this week. I do hope someone is paying him royalties for the use of his most famous song title. Aliens? Well, not exactly. There is a bowling match between Fargo (Neil Grayston)'s team and a team led by Bismarck (actor name not available). Some clever pranks arise out of these two groups, from a ball which splits - and tackles split pins to an exploding ball to fill the immediate air with white powder. Nobody gets hurt, which gets Jack (Colin Ferguson) happy.

Tess (Jaime Ray Newman) and Allison (Salli Richardson Whitfield) have a request for him. Get back energy sources from different parts of town so a laser can work. The name for the stuff is barely pronouncable, but a problem arises. Nuclear power cells go missing too. It's not too hard a guess as to the culprit when Big Ed (John DeSantis) has the job of cleaning. He more or less gets Global Dynamics sterile with organisms specific to the situation.

Duncan (Jeff Pangman) is back, despite being told he got Lexi (Ever Carradine), Jack's sister, pregnant with twins ("Insane in the P-Brane"). He uses his skills as a doctor in the World Health Organization to repair prank damage. Sutures aren't needed, but body cream is.

After nearly getting eaten by the green gook, he and Lexi plan to leave Eureka and get back to their real work. Carradine adds one more layer to the Carter story, but she needs to move on. She's not the science geek most are, and she would be wrong for a cop. Could she be back? Maybe. A script could have her use a webcam to let Jack and Zoe (Jordan Hinson) see her babies being born.

Part of this episode is a tribute to The Blob. Although I haven't seen the movie, I am assuming the idea is not quite a carbon copy. Every television show which uses a topic from say, current events or other popular broadcasts, still has to make things work for the regular show and its characters. Having Grayston attacked in the shower is funny. The soap is artistically placed to get past the censors. I only wonder how many takes it took....

Aliens is also given its due. One scene has Jack underground as he tries to freeze the slithering goo into compliance. In a way, Ghostbusters pokes its head out and says hi. For all the seriousness of the situation, enough lighthearted moments happen so viewers are not cringing beneath blankets.

The 'something's coming' storyline is still playing out. Since over half the season is on tap, this just might be all the way through to the finale in September. Zane Donovan (Niall Matter) will hopefully be back by then. He isn't the lead role, Colin plays it. However, he is a vital part of the community. Ever since his girlfriend Jo (Erica Cerra), the deputy sheriff, had an identity issue ("Your Face or Mine"), Zane vanished and hasn't been heard or seen since. Tess is hardly a replacement. Lucas (Vanya Asher) is back, though, but Zane is just plain eye candy.

Published on Blogcritics.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Claudia"


When Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) leaves the Warehouse in South Dakota, it's not necessarily an emergency. After all, the responsibility of uncovering the reason behind strangne behavior involves some travel. The Farnsworth is a different story. What is this? Perhaps the best way to describe it is a slim metal box which lets people communicate. Slightly less advanced than a cell phone, it only works between the base of operations and the user. Artie knows better than to not have one of these devices with him at all times.

Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are, therefore, concerned when they see his Farnsworth on his desk. He's nowhere to be found in the building. It's the second clue something's wrong since returning from an assignment to find the Warehouse door left open. A camera of sorts helps out with a play by play of the last person to see Artie.

Alison Scagliotti makes her debut this week as Claudia Donovan, a young woman who has revenge on her mind. She blames Artie for the presumed death of her brother Joshua. Now, science fiction is known for its twists. Suffice it to say there is a special place for those who depart life before they are meant to. I get a sense of Ghost, although not quite the same concept. By the time Pete and Myka give Artie what he needs to help, it is not in time to stop more trouble from coming. Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) tells Artie that Claudia breaching security is troubling. He knows his options, although she never states them directly. While Claudia is intended to be in more storylines this season, it remains to be seen if Joshua will as well. More than likely, he should be in one more. At some point. With nine more episodes to go, it could be a while.

In a way, the interaction between Joshua and Claudia is a nod to the work Sean Maher and Summer Glau did when Firefly was still on the air. Come to think of it, Simon Tam, who Maher played, was a vest guy on most occasions. I've seen more than a few of those in regards to this show. The closeness between brother and sister is how they get through even the toughest of times. A family bond is greater than any bump in the road. Viewers also find out Pete has a sister. It's possible she's deaf, since he learned to read lips from her. The actual line can be taken more than one way. Maybe one day she will show herself.

One of the Firefly writers, Jane Espenson, is also a writer for Warehouse 13. What are the chances a former cast member will show up? Let's see. Adam Baldwin is a series regular on Chuck. Not being the lead, he has wiggle room. So does Alan Tudyk. Between Dollhouse and V could be tricky. Morena Baccarin is also on V, probably a character in most episodes. Summer Glau is free, with her last show being cancelled. Nathan Fillion is the lead on Castle, good luck getting him on anything else. Gina Torres and Jewel Staite might be available. So could Ron Glass. Sean Maher? This could be fun....

Only time will tell. Keep watching Warehouse 13!

Available on Blogcritics.

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Magnetism"


Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) are both good at being Secret Service agents, but they could not be any more different in terms of their approaches to working a case. Pete gets 'feelings', even though he may not know exactly what's coming. All he understands is he needs to pay attention. Myka, on the other hand, is a list maker. She plans (or tries to) well in advance what her next steps should be. They make a decent team, if only they could be TOGETHER in terms of the worthiness from not being carbon copies.

The latest adventure takes these two on a road trip. Unionsville, Colorade, has seen a few people act weird as of recently. A nun who thinks she can fly - I have to wonder if Sally Field was watching. One lady who smashes ashes against a hospital wall, and a youth who destroys his violin while in the midst of a lesson. A connection exists- but what? All Artie (Saul Rubinek) can say is an artifact needs retrieval. Gee, you think?

I didn't find too much which stood out in this episode. Pete goes to an AA meeting, alone. Assuming his record is known for its problems, I have to believe Myka is all too aware of his past. Nobody, except Artie, talks about it. Eight years is a long time to be sober, and the writers are smart enough to recognize all it takes is one sip and all manner of mess breaks loose. The cause is pretty obvious - Pete having his dad die before he could see his son grow up ("Pilot"). This, coupled with guilt over not issuing a warning beforehand, drives him to drink. Maybe. McClintock is good at showing strong emotion, so vulnerable is not difficult.

While the artifact is surprising, the twist from the town Sheriff (Cornell Womack) is the bigger one. Most of the people affected have a reason for odd behavior, except him. My best guess is a past military experience.

The break in to Warehouse continues! Leena (Genelle Williams) is around when an attempt is made through the electrical grid. No clue as to exactly who, but it may not be too long before the culprit is revealed. Whoever is responsible has brains, though. Dickenson (Simon Reynolds) got accused when it looked like the hacker was him ("Resonance"). Or, at least, came from his office.

Allow me to make a suggestion. There are only three characters who are seen each week for sure. Pete, Myka, and Artie. With regards to Leena, Dickenson, and Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) - popping up from time to time is known as recurring guest star status. Why not leave their names off the opening credits? I'm talking about the episodes they end up not being in.

Previously found on Blogcritics.

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Resonance"


Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) may work for the government, but at least their Secret Service assignemnt was a simple one - protect the President. What may have gone unspoken was understood, that your life could be forfeit in the process.

Warerhouse 13, however, is a whole new ball game. Artifacts are collected over time and kept in one spot. Every so often, an item goes astray and has to be retrieved. Generally speaking, this means post haste. A series of bank robberies take place in Chicago. This is not an uncommon occurence. Criminals who do not use a gun enseure Pete and Myka are on the case. They just have to deal with Agent Bonnie (Tricia Helfer Battlestar Galactica) of the FBI, who is not happy to have help.

Seeing McClintock and Helfer face off is a sweet touch! It wasn't too long ago each played a goverenment agent - he in Bones and she in Burn Notice. Kelly is the tough as nails operative who goes by procedure. A three way conflict reminds viewers there is a cop feel to the science fiction.

In the midst of this, Artie (Saul Rubinek) is having issues of his own. Someone breaks through the firewall and locks on the computer array. Leena (Genelle Williams), the bed and breakfast owner and a secret keeper herslf, is nearby when Artie breaks the news of where the hacker is located. Hello Dickenson (Simon Reynolds)! He who would like nothing better than to have Lattimer and Bering work for him again. The instant I hear this, I had to wonder if Dickenson himself is the actual culprit. Why? A computer person does not have to use his or her own computer to do the task in question. Seems to me Artie might consider this.

Yet another toy is uncovered in this episode when Artie's camera flattens Dickenson literally into a cardboard cutout. Whether or not the former boss is involved is for you to find out. There is, though, a conspiracy afoot. Or so it seems, anyway.

Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) may not not be the head of the food chain when it comes to the Warehouse. The obnly thing anybody knows for sure at this point is a falshabck to Artie's younger days suggests he has already met this person or group during his career or lifetime.

Since this show wants to draw in viewers badly (premiere season, they are hoping to get a new one down the road), guest stars are coming from other science fiction shows and peope who are recognizable. You may not remember the name, but there is an aha! feeling of seeing the actor somewhere before. How cool would it be for a Fringe type moment when Leonard Nimoy popped up in the Season One finale? For the record, nothing I've seen has suggested Mr. Spock is on the guest list. A well known face of the hacker may just be what brings in even more viewers for a fresh season.

Does this show deserve one? Maybe. I need to see more episodes first, but I do enjoy watching. So far, anyway.

Bering gives us a glimpse into her personal life. A cell phone call from home rattles her greatly. Pete, the observant type, inquires as to why. We find out her dad is not the easiest person to be around. She compares, in fact, him to the main character in The Great Santini by Pat Conroy. Hmmmm..... should we get to meet this person, I have an idea for the actor. Kevin Tighe. Desoto from Emergency and more recently Locke's father on Lost. Watching Tighe is not always comfortable, which is why I think he could do well in the part.

There is also a hint of some scandal in Bering's life. Could she have been having an affair with Sam, her now deceased partner? It's not out of the question, although not much is known yet. All anybody knows about the Denver incident was is something goes wrong and Sam ends up dead.

With Fringe on hiatus until who knows when, this is the show to watch! What it needs more than anything, however, is a viewership which is consistent up to and including the finale.

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