01 October 2011

The Watcher: 09/23/11 - 10/01/11

The Watcher is now being moved to Saturdays to accommodate the wide range of shows I watch Thursday and Fridays. Thus, for this week, you've got double helpings of Fringe, Nikita and Supernatural! Awesomeness, no? Honestly, it's a little sad not to see Smallville included on the list below. After 10 years, it's all over. Blimey. No spoilers, no reviews, nothing.

BREAKING BAD S04E11 -"Crawl Space" (25 September 2011) - Wow. One of the best episodes of Breaking Bad ever, I believe. There is not one single bad not in its body. Riveting from beginning to its ohmygod end, "Crawl Space" is just one of those experiences where your jaw drops, your mind is buzzin' a thousand miles a second, and you understand you're watching truly great writing, acting, and directing right this second. Those final four minutes are a thing of beauty. The drums in the background. Bryan Cranston's spine chilling laughter as he realizes there's no way out. And most of all, the emotion that Betsy Brandt conveys when she looks at Walt with horror and fear as he looses his mind - the shot of her bend down and then back away will forever be etched into my memory. What a outstanding episode, leaving me excited as pizza to see how this wraps up and sad the season is almost over. Wowness. Score: 10/10

FRINGE S04E01 - "Neither Here Nor There" (23 September 2011) - After an explosive third season, possibly the strongest of any science fiction series I've seen since Firefly, Fringe returns with a iffy premiere that I don't really care one way or another for. In fact, here we are days later, and I can't recall much of the plot. There's a funny bit with Walter asking Astrid to video tape a victim's anus for clues concerning their death, and hints that Peter's presence may still be banging around in Walter's head, but overall, meh. I did like the bunker that now stands as the bridge between both worlds, where these two universes can meet and assist, etc. That will lend itself to some interesting stories, along the way. No appearance of Walternate, yet - interested to see where that goes now that Peter is gone. This revised version of Lincoln Lee was great as always, and I hope to see him grow into the Other World's more kickass Lincoln Lee as the season progresses. "Neither Here Nor There" felt very much like a Pilot, minus Peter. We see this whole new world through Lincoln's eyes. Olivia is still that reserved, stoic individual because without Peter that closed wall never crumbled, and because of that, Olivia doesn't really become the anchor of the hour - it's Lincoln. Not a wholly successful premiere, but it's great to have Fringe back. If this is the final season, I really hope there's a plan in place. Now that the two universes have converged and are working together, more or less, where does this go? Is the ultimate endgame saving the earth from itself? Undoing the damage the Walter's have committed? Score: 7.8/10

FRINGE S04E02 - "One Night in October" (30 September 2011) - Now this is more like it. Firstly, props must be given to Anna Torv for portraying two distinctly different Olivia's, both with their own physical and mental quirks. Without difficulty, one could look at the two Olivia's and instantly tell who is who, and not because of some telling sign like the hair - it's Anna Torv's exquisite performance that sells these two individual versions of the same person. Great job, Ms. Torv. This week's case looking at the different choices of one man from both worlds is both fascinating and utterly rich - in Our World, the man in question is a professor of murders, and in the Other World, he's a serial killer. Like Dexter...sorta. It's shown that through choices and experiences, although they are fundamentally the same man with the same cravings and desires, it's those experiences that form the choices that make our lives different from another. When the two professors come face to face, it's great writing and great acting on screen in full awesome glory. And we got the return of Other World kickass Lincoln Lee! Yay! With more hints of Peter's eventful return to the world thanks to a not-so-thorough job from an Observer, I'm as psyched as ever for more Fringe. Score: 8.9/10

NIKITA S02E01 - "Game Change" (23 September 2011) - Nikita was the surprise show of last fall, with every indication being that it would be mildly entertaining with a far-too-skinny Maggie Q in the lead. Turns out, the new and revamped Nikita was super entertaining, with two strong female leads that were very well fleshed out, boasting great action sequences, engaging character dynamics, and so-so B plots. Point is, I liked the show, and with the once allies Nikita and Alex now on opposing sides, the whole glue of the show has turned over from a year ago, surely to bring up interesting stories. First and foremost, the frenemy dance between Nikita and Alex at the end was definitely an episode highlight, and I hope to see similar battles happen again. Ex-Division operatives Michael and Birkoff also are given great moments to shine, and Birkoff gives us the single best laugh of the night. With the exception of the Nikita/Alex feud and the Magneto-esque vibe of the Percy-caged scenes, "Game Change" didn't feel all that much like a game changer. Instead, felt like a back burner episode instead of a premiere. Nikita needs more of the "umphf" to make it must-watch TV. Still, excited to see where this goes, what with changing allegiances every other episode and possible new organizations to explore. Score: 6.7/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E01 - "Meet the New Boss" (23 September 2011) - In a season where Sam was soulless, anarchy was all the rage in Heaven, the Mother of All came to the surface, and Purgatory was the #1 hotspot on everyone's list, the final story to be told was Castiel's slippery slope into going loco. "Meet the New Boss" shows the repercussions of Castiel's misbguided journey to be the New God in town, to right the wrongs God did when It vacaed over two years ago. In less than forty minutes, Misha Collins successfully shreds the fun, free-spirited Castiel we all know and love and replaces him with a mean, devilish, vengeful Angel with a bit too much power in his hands. Catiel is truly frightening. And then to make matters even more messed up, Sam's hallucinating, not knowing what the hell is real or not, giving us a (surprise!) appearance from Lucifer, taunting Sammy that everything around him is nothing more than an illusion. Obviously not true, but one hell of a gorgeous torture device. In the end, as Castiel winds down his killing spree weeks later, the power becomes too much for him, his host body is about to explode, and he sees his wrongdoings. In what appeared to initiate a season-long arc for redemption, Castiel instead became consumed by the Leviathan who decided to stick around in the meat suit instead of being flushed out like the other Purgatory inhabitants. Uh-oh. A strong opening that allows Misha Collins to shine. Now I just hope Dean doesn't continue to be as obnoxious as he was last year. And guest appearance from Death! Always something special to watch. Score: 9.5/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E02 - "Hello, Cruel World" (30 September 2011) - What's this? Four episodes in a row now that are all linked together without standalone adventures? It's pretty nifty, if I say so myself. "Hello, Cruel World" is a great episode that sees the departure of Castiel (presumably) early on as his vessel is about to explode thanks to the mighty power of Leviathan (am I the only one who felt bad for the dude who's the vessel? That guy's wife and kid will never know what happened to him), and the possible demise of Bobby (yeah, sure, whatever). Two episodes in, and already you can see the series having showing its balls. It amazes me that even after seven seasons, Supernatural doesn't cease to impress me. The fallout of this Purgatory plot brings us Leviathan, multiple Big Bads that swim through the water system and infect people, using them as hosts to further whatever their leaders big plan is. We're still early in the season, so details on the Leviathan are scant, but already they are an impressionable, lethal foe that definitely feels like a worthy adversary. The Winchesters are going to have their hands full. And the pre-season comments from the showrunner about how this year will have Sam and Dean on the run a lot more makes perfect, beautiful sense here: the Leviathan are everywhere, and they have a bone to pick with the Winchesters for some yet-unexplained reason. Basically, the boys are screwed. This season will be awesome. I'm also curious as to how Castiel's 'death' will be dealt with, what this means for Heaven and the whole Angels on earth/where's God? business. Excitement! Also, everything involving Sam's hallucinations of Lucifer was absolutely awesome, and it's great to have Mark Pellegrino back on the show. And finally: Benito Martinez! Always makes me happy to see Shield vets get some work. Score: 10/10

TERRA NOVA S01E01/S01E02 - "Genesis" (26 September 2011) - Well, you can definitely tell two things with the series premiere of the mucho expensive Terra Nova: 1) Steven Spielberg's hands are all over this baby, and 2) it looks expensive. Hopefully the money invested in this thirteen-episode premiere season will be worth it, but "Genesis" doesn't do much to make one super excited. Not to say I didn't enjoy myself - I quite did. But there doesn't seem to be enough unique qualities to make Terra Nova stand out. The family dynamic that is at the heart of the series already feels a little stale, a little forced, not really real or fluid (especially in regards to the teenage son who I would not mind get toned down a peg or two). Part of me wants to forgive that based solely on the fact a series about dinosaurs with dinosaurs in it is being transmitted on national television, and it's going a long way in making me overlook the less great elements of the premiere, like the choppy second half or lack of 'real'ness to the characters and dialogue. The important part is that I liked what I saw with Terra Nova, disgruntles aside, and the subplot involving the symbols carved into the rock would make me tune in again no matter what. I want to see where this is going. The only disappointing thing is that with all the hype and money put behind the production, we didn't get a product that pushed the boundaries more. Although, I guess it makes sense that the better wager is to stay safe with a series boasting a hefty budget. Oh, and the special effects were very pretty. Score: 7.5/10

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