Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TV Review CSI:NY "Blacklist (Featuring Grave Digger)


Technology can be a great thing. For example, cell phones are often used to signal help when it is needed the most. Emergency crews know ICE, or In Case of Emergency, connects them to someone who can answer questions about prescriptions or medical history should the actual victim be unable to communicate. The Internet opens the world up to everyone by web sites and email. A Global Positioning Device can guide those who require direction.

However, the same technology can also be potentially hazardous for anyone who is involved in some sort of wrongdoing. Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) finds this out the hard way when a dead man's body is discovered in the Bronx. All in a days' work? Maybe, except the victim's profession was a hospital CEO. The possibility of a revenge statement is not out of the question. Especially after an oncologist at the same hospital nearly dies of anaphylactic shock. Somehow, a special request to leave salad dressing off due to its containing peanuts never made it to the chef. There's a reason why, of course. A clever culprit named Victor Benson (Greg Germann Ally McBeal) set everything up, but the true mystery is why.

Sinise does a nice job of setting up his character for the tension of a law enforcement professional who knows not where Benson will strike next. The story for Mac, though, is even more stressful. Benson identifies to an extent with Mac's father. The Taylor patriarch fell ill with cancer, and so Mac resigned from the Marine Corps to be at home in Chicago with him. Astute viewers will notice the woman playing Mac's mom is Gail O'Grady. How fitting that a former cast member of NYPD Blue is around this show. Mac makes a promise to his dad to join the ranks of NYPD and start performing another kind of service.

I have to admit, my first thought of who the killer was focused on Sid (Robert Joy). He wasn't in this episode, which hardly helped. Even though the chance of the current medical examiner breaking the law is pretty much unthinkable, it still took me a minute to decide he was out of the running. A crime show without some sort of autopsy makes little sense, but the focus was on cybersecurity rather than the victim himself.

On a more positive note, Danny (Camine Giovinazzo) is showing progress after getting paralyzed from the waist down in a random shooting incident ("Epilogue"). Lindsay (Anna Belknap) tells Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) Danny can feel movement in a toe. This is not full strength, but at least he can still be part of the lab. Seeing Danny and Adam (AJ Buckley) work side by side as they use facial recognition to try and track down a criminal is a delightful view.

I cannot say for sure just how long Danny is going to be in the wheelchair, but Giovinazzo gets a lot of credit for being willing to take on such a role. Marriage and a new baby is difficult enough without adding illness on top of things.

Flack (Eddie Cahill) is back at work, but barely hanging on since his girlfriend, Det. Jessica Angell(Emanuelle Vaugier) was killed in the line of duty ("Pay Up"). He's sure he would be worse off if he were to simply stay home day after day. Mac is wise to be concerned right now, but there could come a time when Flack goes off the deep end and nobody will be able to stop him.

The only people who seem sane are Stella and Hawkers (Hill Harper). The season's early yet, so this could change later. Considering how much of last season focused on them, the writers probably figured to move the meatiness elsewhere.

The episode title has a caveat. It features Hangman, which I assume refers to the music. Haunting, it well sets the stage for working through memories fresh and therefore painful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TV Review Castle "Inventing the Girl"


New York has all sorts of interesting activities to take part in, so it stands to reason Castle this week would use one as a plot point. The dead person is one Jenna McBoyd, a model whose rising star is snuffed out by something sharp. In other words, she has been stabbed. Since Fashion Week arrived, there is an easy list of people Caste (Nathan Fillion) aand Beckett (Stana Katic) should talk to. A label in Jenna's clothing gives them a place to start.

Most of the guest stars are playing roles which could, in theory, be played by anyone. Harper's Island fans will notice Matt Barr, formerly Sully, as Travis, Jenna's husband. Travis plays a much bigger role than you might think. I won't spoil things by revealing it here, but let's just say the final interrogation scene has a major twist.

Martha, the feisty mother to Castle, played wickedly well by Susan Sullivan, has her own substory as she tries out for a Broadway play. It's been a while since Martha last performed, so auditioning is even more important than it might be normally. She gets hired, but for a different role altogether. The scene on the couch between Castle and herself is touching with just the right touch of maudlin.

The part where Martha holds up her headshot was perfect. It's obviously of Sullivan as she is without the flaming hair and troweled on makeup. I remember seeing Sullivan years ago as Maggie on Falcon Crest. She really is adept at portraying a multitude of characters. Now then, when is Robert Foxworth going to make a guest appearance on this show? Chase and Maggie for a mini reunion. It has the potential to make an episode memorable.

Beckett was a model once, who knew? The picture is on the Internet, apparently. She may try and hide it from Castle, but you know it's only a matter of time before he runs across the dreaded photo. At any rate, Beckett will soon have other things on her mind than Net stuff. She is about to read the book where she serves as the inspiration for Nikki Heat, the main female character. This should keep going thruogh several scripts.

No mention of Becket's mom this week. Sooner or later, though, it will come up again. Mom is long dead, a victim of homicide. Others were killed around the same time, hardly unusual. Cities tend not to limit themselves to one person a day. However, somebody worked in the same company. Relevance? Perhaps not much. It does prove a potential link, which could mean a serial killer. Lanie (Tamala Jones), the medical examiner, could say for sure. She hasn't. Yet.

What happened to the chief (Ruben Hudson-Santiago)? He may not be critical to the plot as a whole, but he serves as a reminder that cops answer to authority and live by a code of conduct. They cannot run willy nilly into a crime and make assumptions as to whodunit. I assume he'll be back before too long.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TV Review Castle "The Double Down"


New York is well known for its wealth of things to do, hence the title of City That Never Sleeps. No wonder this week's episode is built around one of those - specifically, basketball. The scene of the crime? Not exactly. There are actually two victims, which only heightens the mystery surrounding them both.

At first, more than one crime scene does not seem too unusual. This is a big place with lots and lots of people living in it. More than a few others visit on a regular basis, so it stands to reason multiple victims could be killed at the same time. Leave it to Castle (Nathan Fillion) for some unique insight and a mountain of laughs.

The writers use Castle as a way to poke some fun at the world of language. Victim #1 has writing on her face, with one word misspelled. Fillion has some wonderful lines when he harps on the topic of proper grammar in front of Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and later, a witness brought in for a round of questioning. Considering Fillion is playing a bestselling novelist, the cheeky delivery is a nice ironic touch.

Even better is the bet between Castle and two others who are direct underlings to Beckett. Ryan and Esposito are partners, which makes them the perfect foils. Seamus Deaver and Jon Huertas portray likeable guys who enjoy the business of being a cop. Let's just say the winnings involve a certain article of clothing in addition to losing one's follicles. Only time can decide whether or not return is made.

More than once, Ryan's girlfriend has been mentioned. Will we get to see her before the season is complete? Perhaps. They don't sem to been together long, so I am wondering if she understands what it is really like to get involved with someone in law enforcement. A realistic view means knowing Ryan could get shot, or be killed in the line of duty. Having her pregnant is also a possibility. I'm sure Castle could give Ryan a few tips about parenthood.

The guilty party is a bit of a shock. It's not particularly complicated when the solution is revealed, but the result is unexpected. Of course, it all depends on how much attention was paid to begin with.

Lanie (Tamala Jones) is hot! The medical examiner has always been pretty, but a certain dress she wears is eye catching. The red shimmering sassiness is a fun visual concept. My favorite line out of the entire episode is Lanie's response to noticing Castle appreciate her loveliness. It's slightly risque, but this show is on late enough to not have to worry much about censors.

Martha (Susan Sullivan) and Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) provide a bit of calm as a respite from the grittiness of homicide. These two strong women walk through life with their heads held high, no matter how trying the circumstances. They give Castle a home life, while Beckett is still wrestling with the death of her mother. She was a homicide victim, too. It's entirely possible the culprit will only be revealed at the season finale.

Compared to the premiere, this is a little lackluster. A crime takes place, and people try and solve it. Granted, the midseason point has yet to arrive. Since Stephen J. Cannell and Michael Connelly kicked things off last week ("Deep in Death"), it's time for a few well known actors to keep viwers tuning in. The easiest ones would be former castmates. Fillion and Sullivan come to mind first. I also think Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who plays the chief, could bring abroad those he's worked with. More than likely, they are ones everyone recognizes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

TV Review CSI:NY "Epilogue"


The gang from the NYPD crime lab is back! To say they went out last season with a bang is an understatement. As they sat in a bar in memoriam to Det. Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier), somebody opened fire. Who was undetermined, but the whole place got nailed ("Pay Up").

As the premiere opens, viewers are shown clips from the previous season's finale just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Were people hurt? No kidding. The bartender gets killed, and others slightly injured. I think they need medical attention rather than the morgue or an extended hospital stay. Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) has his legs shot, causing paralysis. It could be temporary, but Mac (Gary Sinise) now has a case to solve with a field investigator out of commission. At least Danny can work in the lab.

Giovinazzo pulls out the stops as his character attempts to deal with his new situation. For someone who works well on the streets. This is a major blow. He knows the chances are dicey, and he's angry someone has the gall to do him harm. For her part, Anna Belknap has a huge job to do as Lindsay, a colleague now his wife. Hard enough with a new baby, but a cranky husband increases the tension. Watching her attempt to give Giovinazzo's character a well deserved kick in the butt falls a little flat. Still, the reminder of hope not being entirely out of reach is a credit to the writers.

The gang copes with the aftereffects of the attack in different ways. Flack (Eddie Cahill), still grieving over Angell since they were dating when she got killed, hangs out at a bar to be among people. He later tells Mac it's better for him to be on the job, which is probably accurate. Chemistry between Sinise and Cahill is solid, and the concern versus determination talk is a touching moment.

Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) and Adam (AJ Buckley) have sex! I admit Buckley is hardly unattractive. The pairing, though, is unusual. What will happen down the road? It's anybody's guess right now. Anyway, Adam's quirky yet brilliant lab tech persona has another issue to deal with. There's a new scientist in town - Halen Becall (Sarah Carter). Becall is a crime scene clean up technician, meaning she comes in behind the lead crew and puts things nice and tidy again. This woman is memorable for a couple of reasons. She has an unusual first name - Haley would have worked just fine. While it's a different actress, I cannot help but notice a resemblance to Kendall, a former colleague. Did she get hit by the budget cuts? Bess Wohl must have decided to move on at any rate.

Carter and Buckley are going to be a fun pair to watch. She plays the eager beaver who wants more than anything to have Mac Taylor as her boss. He portrays the experienced pro whose job is shaky enough without having to fend off a competitor. To his credit, Adam gives Halen the recognition she deserves after an important discovery is made. Carter is supposed to be a regular cast member, although this sounds more in line with a recurring role.

Hawkes (Hill Harper) takes his job to a new level by volunteering with an ambulance service of sorts. My impression is that he is sent on patrol to various parts of town when his turn comes up in the roster. As a former medical examiner, the training helps.

In a nice twist, Jake, one of the guest star characters, is played by Andrew Lawrence. Older brother Joey took on Clay Dobson, who jumped from a building with his hands cuffed to set up Mac on charges from Internal Affairs ("Past Imperfect"). The scene in the interrogation room between Jake and Mac is solid, just like the show itself.

Tune in Wednesdays at 10pm for all new episodes of CSI:NY!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TV Review Castle "Deep in Death"


He's back! For the second year in a row, Nathan Fillion returns with all new episodes of his hit television show Castle. The premise is simple enough. Fillion is Richard Castle, a bestselling author whose work is strikingly similar to crimes committed outside the written page. Once the police figure out they most likely have a copycat killer on their hands, the author is teamed with a female detective, Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) so his expertise can be used as a way to close the book, as it were, to many more crimes. The chemistry between Fillion and Katic cannot be stressed enough. it's almost Moonlighting, only with more wit.

When we last left these two. Castle had something to tell Beckett. This was not just any random piffle, but it concerned her deceased mother. ("A Death in the Family") Hard enough under regular circumstances. However, Castle knew Beckett told him to stay away from the case, since it was clear homicide. If he chose to ignore her, their partnership would be over.

Whoever hired these two actors made a smart move indeed. Watching Fillion try and redeem himself while Kantic seethes in a steady rage makes me want to see much more. There is a touching vulnerability of each person having to confront feelings long thought buried. I look forward to seeing more of this storyline. A serial killer might be involved. Why maybe? A major metropolitan city has things go on each day where more than one person gets hurt or dies. I'm not willing to connect the dots just yet.

A man dies and his body is found in a tree. Welcome to New York. Somehow, this seems perfectly natural. The ride to the morgue brings a twist which I'll let you watch for yourselves. The rumble almost gives everything away, but the medical examiner (Tamala Jones) and Castle are surprised anyhow. Go take a look.

Stephen J. Cannell and Michael Connelly make guest appearances in this episode. They play themselves, in a nice clip which discusses motive. Poker playing is only a prelude to the undercover gambling in Chinatown with the Russian mafia. Speaking of, Beckett speaks Russian! She explains by mentioning a semester in Kiev to her astonished colleagues. Considering how unusual Katic's name is, I think she is probably part Russian herself.

Part of the reason this show works so well is the glimpses of Castle's home life. Daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) and mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) provide a good balance to offset the grittiness of police work. Each is strong in her own right which helps when being thrust into the spotlight upon Dad's success.

Could Beckett's dad show up sometime later? Perhaps. The actor would have to be old enough to have fathered a woman now in her 30's. Kevin Tighe of Emergency fame? Sixty's or mid to late fifties would work. I get the impression Castle no longer has a living father.

Now that the first season has gotten its kinks out, it is time for some of Fillion's former castmates to show up. Firefly has some nice ideas, but it could be a bit tricky prying a few away from other series. Adam Baldwin is a prime example. Chuck takes up most of his time, and he's critical to the plots each week. Sean Maher makes sense, as does Alan Tudyk. Of course, Tudyk ahas Dollhouse and V on his plate already. Morena Baccarin is a series regular on V, so she's out. Jewel Staite? It could work. Gina Torres was supposedly in this episode. I don't recall seeing her, so let me know in the comments if you did. Once Summer Glau finishes with Dollhouse, she could be available for Castle.

Here's another idea. Somebody could come from Desperate Housewives, except Dana Delany. She is far too involved right now to appear anywhere else. My best guess is a dead person. Easy enough to retrieve one.

Sullivan is known for her work as Maggie on Falcon Crest. Robert Foxworth would be a great guest star! Lorenzo Lamas is getting his own reality show, but Ana Alicia is an option.

Tune in Mondays at 10pm for all new episodes of Castle!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Nevermore"


Any television episode titled "Nevermore" has got to have some references to Edgar Allen Poe. I just hope the estate of one of the darkest mystery writers get paid royalties as a courtesy. Most of the references this time are visual, always a nice touch.

The artifact in question is a two parter. The pen and the notebook which Poe used to compose his legends. The key is the black ink, which causes a nasty reaction if absorbed int the bloodstream. So who gets it? Myka (Joanne Kelly)'s dad! Played by Michael Hogan, Colonel Tigh to Battlestar Galactica fans, has an understated role as the crusty patriarch, but it works fine. He gets a book in the mail with Poe's writings. Since he touches the pages, he gets affected.

A boy in Portland OR gets the pen. the prep school attendee finds out words really do have power, and he uses it to destructive effect after being bullied gets to him. Write a word on paper, and the person who reads it must suffer the consequences. Here's where the illusions come into play. The Cask of Amontillado is revenge for a plot discovered. Clever! The Raven, obviously, is an escape route. The Pit and the Pendulum is almost cheesy, but memorable. The first note, however, is just payback.

Hogan and Bering have a few touching moments as the parent finally accepts what the child does. He knows nothing about her true job description, but understands she helped save his life. Perhaps next season can focus on Pete (Eddie McClintock) for a bit. This is different in that Pete's dad is dead, but he has a sister and, I assume, a mom.

McPherson (Roger Rees) returns! Rees and McClintock have a tension filled scene at the top of the episode, which works well in setting the mood. Back at headquarters, Artie (Saul Rubinek) and Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) wait with bated breath. The part where Artie speaks french to convince the Montreal cops they should close in quick is a nice touch! Rubinek is a native Canadian (as is Kelly), so the dialect is easy to accomplish.

I do have one nit. Diction, Diction, Diction! Kelly describes an artifact during the scene where Bering, Lattimer, and Rees confront each other. While I hear "lantern" fine, the owner's name got mangled up. Surely a trained professional can communicate effectively.

McPherson, naturally, blames Artie for his own actions. If Artie gave secrets to the Russians ("Implosion"), has it not occurred to anyone he was a double agent at the time? The woman Artie loved chose McPherson ("Implosion")! No, it's something else entirely. What is anybody's guess.

The Season finale is next week, which should be a big one. Especially if the Internet chatter is true, and the ending is only the start of a cliffhanger. Anything can happen, and don't be surprised if past guest stars show up. Hint, Hint to the creative team - Valda would be a nice treat to have stick around for a bit.

Tune in Tues. Sept 22nd to find out how Warehouse 13 finishes!

Previously published on Blogcritics.

TV Review Eureka "Have an Ice Day"


Allison (Salli Richardson Whitfield) has gone on maternity leave. Tess (Jaime Ray Newman) is in temporary charge. Just another day in a town where most people are geniuses when it comes to scientific principles. Easy, right? Wrong!

Forget the fact Henry (Joe Morton) would have made a better choice for head person. After all, he has been part of the works since day one. Fargo (Neil Grayston), might be young, but he has been the assistant of Nathan Stark long enough to understand how things work. It seems Henry is helping out NASA with a project. The nice thing is that Joe Morton directed this episode, so he is still part of the process. Bring in Taggart (Matt Frewer).

Yes, the animal guy has returned. A trip to Australia gives him a detour into the world of ice. First of all, nice to see Frewer onscreen again. He is an expert at taking a few seconds of air time and making each one memorable. Fans of his will be delighted to know he is in the Syfy version of Alice in Wonderland coming in December. Remember The Tinman? This should be a new classic. Frewer plays the White Rabbit.

Back to the plot. Ice Rings function much like those of a tree, and tell much about civilization as a whole. Global Dynamics wants to study it. Taggart is heading the project. The system used for the purpose has been designed by Zane (Niall Matter). Yes, two recurring characters are back now. About time for both,

the writers wisely chose to fit in a storyline about Taggart leaving town without saying goodbye ("A Night at Global Dynamics"). Jo (Erica Cerra) was bereft, since she and Taggart once dated. now, what does new boyfriend do about a rival who comes as a blast from the past?

matter is pitch perfect while he basically turns his back on Jo. There's a reason, but it's not the obvious. Some clever film splicing puts Zane in a potentially compromising situation. I would not want to ruin a decent plot, but Zane goes back to his roots as troublemaker. There is something amiss, however. Why in the world is Jo around when Jack (Colin Ferguson) thinks the worst? Professional judgment is compromised by her emotions already. Jo should have been barred from working the case, as any good boss would do.

Zoe (Jordan Hinson) takes her college entrance exams. The twist comes from an aptitude test of what someone might be good at. Did a number get input wrong? Results are supposed to be highly accurate, but she gets some which make little sense. Lucas (Vanya Asher) just might get his heart broken before too long.

Speaking of Newman and Hinson, they may be signalling some cast changes. Newman is going to be a series regular on Eastwick. More than likely, Tess will be out the door with the finale next week. it's time for her exit anyway. Dying? I have no clue. It's been a close call before ("Shower the People"), but anything can happen on a science fiction show and does.

Hinson also has a new show under her belt. Hank, starring Kelsey Grammer. She's not the lead, so perhaps she can do both. After all, Eureka is a summer series.

Also published on Blogcritics.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV Review WH 13 "Breakdown"


Things happen in the warehouse but never like this! Pete (Eddie McClintock), Myka (Joanne Kelly), and Claudia (Allison Scagliotti Smith) have a serious situation on their hands after an incident with a self working vacuum. No, it didn't suck up a file belonging to Artie (Saul Rubinek). Worse. The cooling system got thrown offkilter. Add to that a can of sticky string and you start to get some idea of the picture.

Speaking of, Leena's house is an artifact! In theory, anyway. Pete realizes something might be inside, and the one the agents typically stay in is a newer model. A certain painting becomes critical to getting the intrepid trio out of a trap.

Bouncing balls made for one of the more lighthearted moments. Of course, these are not just any toys. It seems they were created as a death weapon. McClintock gets buried, which is a great visual scene.

Where is Artie, you ask? Out. He turns over a bunch of files to higher ups, but this is only the beginning. Send forth the Regents! This is the group which supervises the missions of Artie and his minions. Put it this way - Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) reports to them as well. They are none too happy at what has been taking place with a few of the assignments and are now ready to call Artie on the carpet.

A key member is perfectly cast. Mark A. Sheppard, who science fiction fans know as Romo Lampkin on Battlestar Galactica , is introduced to viewers by the name of Benedict Valda. I can't help but think of either eggs, the traitor, or Dirk Benedict when it comes to the premiere moniker. The latter half is pure fiction.

Sheppard is spot on as the guy who wants Artie to get the job done right. He never yells, but the near menace is felt just the same. Were the writers thinking of Lampkin when Valda started to describe Artie's assumed sins? The pacing and list sharing of where Artie went wrong works for someone trained as an attorney.

The Regents themselves are a surprise. Ordinary looking folk, but with a whole lot of power. Again, Sheppard has a nice bit with the "What did you expect?" line. The softly spoken group of people who made an impact without standing out in a crowd gets the point across. Will we see Valda again? It's hard to say. He would probably do best popping up from time to time rather than each week.

By the way, is Artie married? He mentioned a father a bit back, but I thought I heard him mention a Nina in the small talk with Mrs. Frederic. Of course, it could very well be Leena.

Underlying all is McPherson, who Artie used to be friends with. He is taking his training as a former warehouse agent and reeking havoc. Artie might just be the only one who can stop him. Roger Rees does not make an appearance this episode as the cunning villain, but his picture shows up with the word 'wanted' written across it. He's completely ruthless, which should make for some interesting viewing.

With only two episodes left in this season, I have to assume McPherson shows up in both. Rees apparently signed a contract for a threeper. The Secret Service agents and their junior partner might be in for more than they think. Every mission so far has been fairly tame. McPherson is willing to kill anybody who gets in his way, which he has already proven ("Implosion"). What's to stop him from trying to kill one of the Warehouse agents?

Keep watching for more missions and answers to the biggest questions Tuesdays on Syfy!

Also found at Blogcritics.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Music Review Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Transmigration


Transmigration is a series of orchestral compositions which are performed by a well known group. Robert Spano is famous, and correctly so. He was born in 1961, and grew up playing instruments such as flute, violin, as well as the piano. Since he also came from a musical family, it only makes sense for him to make music his full time career. After graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Spano conducted a many a venue until being employed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

This is his eighth year as the ASO conductor, and Spano has already been lauded in the press for his strength in leading the team of musicians to take on several creative pieces and put them on a scale of international merit.

Within their latest CD, Spano and the ASO take on the subject of death and all its facets. Five unique selections go through the journey for both those who pass on from this life to their next and the ones left behind. Each piece is different so listeners can choose which is the favorite.

Samuel Barber is responsible for "Adagio for Strings", which is exactly what it sounds like. This work is likely to be the selection when someone of great public importance has died. Although the name might not be familiar to some, perhaps the occasion is. During the time when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was announced deceased from polio, Barber's music could be heard playing on the radio.

From the soft opening notes, one is prone to feel a tugging at the heartstrings. I have to mention they are so quiet that hearing them is a bit on the tricky side. After a while, it does improve. The thump thump of the cello suggests something interesting is on its way. This sets the tone for some haunting overtones. if feeling melancholy is the intention, Barber has succeeded.

"Elegy", composed by John Corigliano, is a nice piece. it is loosely based on a Broadway show about Helen of Troy. A flute trilling calls those who hear to a solid attention. I am reminded of a soft light which shines throughout a field, perhaps not unlike a sunrise. Considering this is a reflection of dying, Corigliano can easily suggest a life has been extinguished far too soon. The horn blowing says the person is about to leave Earth and rise to heaven. I enjoyed the crash of drums - it's sign of not forgetting the impact the person made. At its peak are two double forte (extra loud) climaxes for a full orchestra.

Samuel Barber has another work on this CD - "Agnus Dei". The sweet sounds might best be described as coming from angels. I have to wonder if these could be interpreted as recently departed souls who are now guardian angels for the survivors left behind. An attempt at comforting, maybe? The familiar Latin prayer is set to music in a choral setting.

"On the Transmigration of Souls", put together by John Adams, was created at a particularly poignant time in our nation's history. During the aftermath of the events of September 11,2001, the memories were so fresh in people's minds that a special bit of music was needed. Comprising the text is some randomly chosen names of the victims, quotes from missing persons signs, and personal reminiscences. This is probably the most haunting of all the selections, with bells ringing out and quickly rising to a crescendo. A strong message of remembering sails through the air.

Jennifer Higdon is responsible for "Dooryard Bloom". Higdon first premiered in 2002 with her Philadelphia Orchestra premiere of "Concerto for Orchestra". After the resulting rise to fame, most of her fans will probably remember her "Blue Cathedral", the piece she composed after her brother passed on.

If the title seems to ring a bell, it's because it comes out of the "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard" elegy by Walt Whitman. Lilacs play a prominent theme, but so do the two organs which open the music. The baritone Nmon Fod sings lyrics which take listeners to a place of peace. Until the drum rumbles through, that is. When things calm down, a gentle harp reminds listeners of each day being a precious one.

Previously on Blogcritics.

TV Review Warehouse 13 "Regrets"


The title of this week's episode says it all. When Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are sent to a prison in Riverton, it is for the purpose of investigating the death of a prisoner who commits suicide. As it turns out, our victim is the fourth in the past two months. He killed a young woman during a hit and run, but there is more to the story. No surprise.

An inmate (Joe Morton Eureka), the self titled "Messiah" has been telling others that any regrets should not be a part of life. Although his message appears non-threatening at first, followers take on something of a cult status. Pete and Myka quickly sense they have a much bigger mystery on their hands. The impending tropical storm only adds to their uneasiness. I have to smile at the line where Pete mentions bones. A reference to his past work on Bones, maybe? Since there is supposed to be a Season Two, it might not be a bad idea to have one of the cast members from that show make a guest star appearance.

Back at the Warehouse, Artie (Saul Rubinek) is busy at work, trying to compose a piece of music for his father. Even though the elder Nielsen is still alive, there is a distance between them. A regret? Perhaps. Artie hopes he can shorten the gap with music to soothe the soul. Leave it to Claudia (Allison Scagliotti-Smith) to mess up his plans.

She tries to tighten a light bulb which has started to flicker. Who needs a ladder when Alessandro Volta's coat is stored nearby? The magnetic properties let her climb the closest structural support beam and screw the bouncing bulb back in place. One problem. The coat is uncontrollable. Before long, things start flying. Artie gets inventive to free her from her precarious perch.

This comedic bit is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark storyline. The prison where Myka and Pete are sent has a special secret. Hallucinations are fast in their arrival. If one is not careful, the effect is devastating. For example, Pete sees his firefighter dad appear and accuse him of a death sentence. Why? Years ago, Pete sensed a snag in the works. He decided not to warn his dad, and his male parent went on to a life in heaven ("Pilot"). This is nothing to feel guilty about, Pete was only a kid at the time. McClintock works the poignancy angle as he comes to terms with his loss. One can easily see just how much he cares.

Myka has her own loss to deal with. Sam, the partner who died while they both served as Secret Service agents on Presidential detail ("Pilot") shows up again. He blames her, even though it was really his own fault. Viewers get to see how events unfolded through a flashback sequence.

All in all, this was one of this drama's best works. There was a glimpse into each of the main characters which is revealing. Is this the end of their stories? Probably not. Pete has not shown much of his family beyond his dad. Myka, for her part, is going to have to live with Sam's death for the rest of her life. Even though she does not cause it, it happens pretty much in front of her. At least Pete is spared the visual memory.

Only three episodes remain for the season. Be sure and catch them Tuesdays on SyFy!

Also on Blogcritics.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Manga Review Manga Guide to Calculus by Hiroyuki Kojima


The Manga Guide to Calculus, by Hiroyuki Kojima and Shin Togami of Becom Ltd., is an ambitious attempt to help those who are not inclined to like mathematics much to understand its importance. Whether we realize it or not, all of us incorporate math into our daily lives. Think about this - when going out to eat, do you try and figure out the tip? Or, check the weekly paper to clip coupons in order to save on your grocery shopping? Most people want to get the best value for their money. Understanding math concepts can be a big help.

The authors wisely use the idea of a story to get their point across. Noriko, the main character, is hired by the Asagake Times as a new reporter. When she meets her boss, Mr. Seki, it's not what she is used to. Seki is math minded to a large degree. He sees the world in terms of calculus, and doesn't understand anyone who cannot be swayed to its good side.

Seki is an interesting character, but I also believe he has an obvious flaw. This guy seems to be not much older than Noriko. Should he be in charge of a newspaper department? Make Seki about five years older than he is right now and it would help in the credibility line.

While the formulas are a little tricky, the calculus concept is simple enough. Every fact is related to another fact in some way. One just has to figure out how. For example, advertising on television has a cost involved. Run a commercial during an episode, and people go out and buy the product. The more bought, the more money made. What's the key? Bring in more than what it costs to make the ad, and profit! Knowing calculus helps one to figure out if more commercials should be made, or, if the profit is so huge, less ads need to be run.

The real life examples aid with comprehension. I understand those much better than any formula listed. Technically speaking, calculus is fairly close to algebra. It just takes longer to finish the process.

Beyonf the number stuff, there is also a story about relationships. Noriko wants to cover the hard hitting stories without first learning the basics of being a reporter. Seki must employ all of his patience in his dealings with her. There are a few times where her frustration leads to aggression. By no means is this acceptable business practice, yet she manages to keep her job. Since this is a fiction story, one must allow for some breaks from reality.

Mr. Oblivious Seki is also not noticing his latest member of the team has something of a crush on him. All he thinks about is calculus, which does a lot to explain why he is not too far up the corporate ladder.

Overall, both writers do a decent job of keeping readers entertained with a tale which should keep them interested from beginning to end. Math has never been my strong suit, so it's hard to tell whether or not the formulas work. Perhaps the best way to describe calculus is to think of it as pattern interpretation. Is there a trend occurring? The outcome can be worked to try and decide if it looks positive or negative. Things are charted over time, and then examined closely.

Can be found on Blogcritics.