ALPHAS S01E01 – “Pilot” (11 July 2011) – The Syfy channel debuted their newest show, this time tackling superheroes in a ‘realistic’-ish setting. The good news is that thus far ALPHAS does not seemed to be plagued by the issues HEROES had from the get-go, and although I don’t think this series will last too long on this network (it is, after all, just as evil and quick-handed with the axe of cancellation as Fox), it has potential. I’m not in love with it, nor do I generally dislike it. On the positive side, “Pilot” does a fantastic job of setting up the characters and making them truly individual people instead of a collective symbol, like much of HEROES was. They all have their own distinct abilities that are tackled in a interesting enough way that even often drawn abilities (e.g., psychic, strength) feel nearly fresh. What interests me with ALPHAS is the sort of real-world application of humans with abilities above and beyond what people can do, and throwing these far-fetched characters in a sort of procedural, ‘let’s-catch-the-bad-guy!’ type of show. Also cool enough is the introduction of a rival gang called Red Flag, made up of people with their own abilities but, of course, make up the villainous role of the show. Out of the cast of characters, I enjoyed Gary the most, primarily for Ryan Cartwright’s performance which was fun and charming, a pretty big success considering the character has the potential to be insufferably annoying. Nina, Hicks, Rachel, and Bill have yet to really make an impression on me, other than ‘strong-angry-black guy’, ‘needs-to-wear-a-bra-girl’, ‘sensitive chick’ and ‘I’m-emotionally-scarred-and-look-like-Jack-Shepard-dude’. Sort of a nice way to put it. “Pilot” isn’t extraordinary, and it doesn’t especially grab a viewer and compel them to stick around. As of right now, I’m uncertain whether or not I’m going to continue watching and/or reviewing the show, but at the very least, it was an well put-together episode that introduces the good guys, bad guys, and the basic set-up of the show. Score: 7.0/10
RESCUE ME S07E01 - “Mutha” (13 July 2011) – After what feels like an eternity since RESCUE ME graced our screens, “Mutha” isn’t terribly awesome to signal the beginning of the end (this being the final season and all), but it does mark a somewhat change of direction for the show. It’s clear by the episodes closing minutes Tommy is committed to staying sober and quite clear on his stance of keeping Colleen off the wagon. Speaking of Colleen, Black Shawn’s proposal was a bit humorous, but also a bit odd. Kind of like every episode of RESCUE ME, really. A not great beginning, but a good enough set up of Tommy’s determination to be good and have a happy ending, even in the wake of 9/11’s tenth anniversary. Score: 7.8/10
TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY S04E01 – “The New World” (08 July 2011) – In 2009 Russell T. Davies delivered TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH, a five-episode third series of the DOCTOR WHO spin-off to critical acclaim. After Davies’ run on the successful British time traveler series ended in early 2010, the brilliant man was already hard at work bringing TORCHWOOD to America. Teaming up with the Starz channel, we now have MIRACLE DAY, and it’s classic Davies. One day, no one dies. Death stops entirely. This of course creates problems – the population skyrockets, our understanding of the world is altered, no one knows who or what started all of this and how long it will last, etc. All very clever, very reality grounded problems to a spectacular science fiction concept. “The New World” is a fine re-introduction to the world of TORCHWOOD, and a brilliant way to call in American audiences. In Washington, there are rumblings about an organization called Torchwood, now fallen, and with this new phenomenon, the surviving members of Torchwood resurface. Captain Jack Harkness is back with an unexpected consequence to this new world order, and Gwen Cooper, fresh out of pregnancy world, is ready and anxious to get back into the field of bazooka-wielding, car chasing, run-for-your-life alien mayhem.
“The New World” excels in the script department, but that shouldn’t exactly be a leap for Davies. However, despite a great script that accomplishes quite a lot in one hour, the episode feels a bit flat. It fails to generate gusto, really. I wasn’t terribly engaged in the narrative, and a lot of scenes that should have been powerful or dramatic (such as Captain Jack’s much awaited return) didn’t pack the punch it should have. This is regrettable, but entirely possible to overlook. After all, we have nine more episodes of TORCHWOOD awesomeness. And I, for one, absolutely cannot wait. Score: 8.9/10
TRUE BLOOD S04E02 – “You Smell Like Dinner” (06 July 2011) – Last week’s season premiere did a fine job introducing the audience to the arc of the new year, but “You Smell Like Dinner” ends up being the superior episode, despite potentially being boring with not lots of happenings going on. I enjoyed all the character stuff – most of it, at least, cos I still don’t give a damn about Sam or his brotha Tommy (though I am interested to see his relationship with fellow shape-shifter chick grow) – from Sookie acclimating herself to a year later to Eric’s getting a classic comic book mind wipe. It was great seeing Tara again, and looking more gorgeous than ever; Lafayette and Jesus were a joy to watch as well, although I do hope to see their storyline gain some momentum in the episodes to come; flashbacks reveal a small portion of the last year in regards to Bill’s rise to power, and it is surprisingly hilarious (cue screencap); and Hoyt and Jessica’s messed up unstable relationship. I’m sure I missed a subplot or two, there’s plenty going on, but point is, “You Smell Like Dinner” was a really nice episode centered around the characters more than plot and gave them room to have their moments. Luckily, the following episode will be much the same. Score: 9.0/10
TRUE BLOOD S04E03 – “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin?” (10 July 2011) – Poor Jason just can’t catch a break. In a surprisingly hilarious episode of TRUE BLOOD, Jason is getting his skin chewed on and his penis rode by a bunch of crazy people. Still, I find myself oddly interested to see how his whole arc turns out. Andy’s V-addiction still is immaterial for me, but it is unfortunate that he isn’t given a strong subplot this season, like his determination to show what freaky crap is going on around town in season two. Still, his “fuck it” attitude in the car was hilarious, and nearly worth the subplot. Nearly. As for Arlene’s uninteresting subplot, I don’t remember the significance of that raggedy doll that showed up in the season three finale and has reappeared here; let’s see how this develops. But most importantly of all, every scene with Sookie and a mind-wiped Eric was hilariously written and acted. Even if this season sucks mega loads, the scenes with Alex and Anna are terrific, and definitely going to be a series highlight. I can honestly say I am really looking forward to the next episode; after all, plots are heating up, and looks like there’s going to be some change on the horizon. Score: 9.5/10