IR TV Review: STAR WARS – THE CLONE WARS – FINAL SEASON – EPISODE 7 (“Dangerous Debt”) [Disney+]

The doubt of doing the right thing revolves in the progression of what is being fought for. Like the last episode “Deal No Deal”, Episode 7 of the Final Season of “The Clone Wars” entitled “Dangerous Debt” borrows in the movement of what Ahsoka Tano needs to prove and what her path is. While there are some interesting moments, the story drags a little. Perspective for the most part is needed. This shows at one point in understanding the inclusion of the sisters Martez that Ahsoka now finds herself with. The interesting thing that the writing does here is place a previous event which might have been fleeting to other characters before that in a split second changes the perception elsewhere. The problem is that the moment in the episode could have had much more resonance. There is less soaring cinematics here than one would think. There is definitely room for them but unlike early episodes it seems to be rushing the story back and forth quickly when it doesn’t need to.

The true story we want to watch is Ahsoka’s pull versus and against for using The Force. That is the true existential element here but 3 episodes into her arc in this season, it is not emotionally tugging enough. Ahsoka is very smart. She left the Jedi Order for a reason. But watching people fail even though the instinct is to help is an interesting quandary. We need to see more of that. It is in this case that flashbacks, even briefly would be acceptable, even for an ardent follower of the show. “Dangerous Debt” refers to a shipment of spice that Ahsoka’s new friends dumped impulsively that lands them on a prison planet under criminals. There is an interesting small story point playing with a voice that sounds all too familiar but the time frame is all wrong. There is a plan for Ahsoka but it would be interesting to see a little bit more of those quiet moments balanced with the awe sometimes Star Wars has.

C

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER – EPISODE 10 (“We’re Not Getting Away With It”) [ABC-S6]

The paranoia of mystery depends how bathed the characters are in guilt versus survival. With the episode “We’re Not Getting Away With It”, “How To Get Away With Murder” uses the aspect of who is smarter. Granted the aspect of people working behind the scenes has always been a part of the game that is being played. The interesting purveyor here is letting the doubt sow while very smartly highlighting Viola Davis as Annalise only briefly. The aspect of her physical change is undeniably (perhaps she was starring in a movie at the same time) but that idealism shift is supposed to reflect the turning of the screw. Everyone in this series has their intentions but most seem on the level save for someone who skirted the edge of hard core ethics and a student that doesn’t seem in his right mind. The best aspects within the redemption inherent in a series is the notion of sacrifice. However that progression needs to mean something. Everyone, as the dominoes fall and people start to try to see sides, comes down to the element of selfishness with glimmers of both hope and betrayal. The important detail in this episode is how many lines in key moments are not answers, not denials but not admittance either. In the course of rebuilding a crime that they are at the center of, the team interestingly enough is disjointed which is the whole point. It is just a matter of what Annalise ultimately actually wants to do.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HARLEY QUINN – EPISODE 1 (“New Gotham”) [Warner Brothers Animation-S2]

Harley Quinn, by her own admission, is a hellion but she sparks by the beat of her own drum. As the 2nd season of the animated show enters with the first episode “New Gotham”, the beauty of this kind of cartoon becomes clear. It is an adult cartoon and embraces it, none more than Kaley Cuoco, who brings a degree of flagrancy in Quinn embracing that inner party girl that we always knew was within Penny. The introduction of the 2nd season shows a lawlessness in play. In many ways, the set up is inspired by “Escape From New York”. Considering in another life, Snake Plisken would have been Quinn’s surrogate father, the comparison definitely plays to the texture. Like “Birds Of Prey”, the aspect has Quinn out on her own but with a band of misfits. Poison Ivy, like any good roommate on a dark “Clueless” adventure, understands the impulse that Quinn deals with her decisions but not the logic.

As the episode progresses, the idea that permeates is that there has to be some order within anarchy (i.e. “Escape From New York”). The episode (and the series) does not back off from the language and the gore which is refreshing while the comedy (especially the sushi irony with a shark wanting a human roll per se) is decidedly dark on purpose. That said, the comedy is fairly freewheeling and more in the context of what psychotics might talk about. Ultimately, all kidding aside, the overall motivation is power. But Quinn, in her best traits, knows how to subvert power. Her interlude inside a bar to all the underlings of other crime lords is inspired in many ways. Harley wants to have her own little world because oddly enough that is where her peace lies. In “Birds Of Prey” it was her apartment until it was demolished. In this episode, it is an abandoned mall where she has her own sled pulled by her hyenas and she kidnaps sushi chefs. Happiness is a state of being and with this episode, chaos is Quinn’s favorite as long as it has the simply pleasures.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DOLPHIN REEF [Disney+]

While many nature films sometimes struggle for a sense of personality or go for the essence of shock and awe with the degree of technical prowess, the essence of the humor of the situation is touch and go. With some celebrity narrators it works and, at other times, it seems either too wooden and lacking in connection. In “Dolphin Reef”, there is a different approach. Whether it is better or not remains to be seen. But Natalie Portman brings herself to the reading. Having met her many times, there is a sense of fun but balance with an essence of value and seriousness behind her presentation. She is not afraid of making a joke at her own expense, if it is the right one. That is why many of the vignettes work here because it waxes at times both funny and maybe a little awkward but always heartfelt. “Dolphin Reef” isn’t inherently about the dolphins but more about the community of animals that make up this area. It starts off following a young male Dolphin named Echo with his mother. Having in the past few years become a mother herself, that essence of the story seems very authentic and plays very well on Portman’s behalf. This is a piece of artistic work that she can show her children and definitely balances within the Disney structure that maybe has been too slick in its docos lately. Many of them have felt like certain mirrors to BBC’s productions (which are sometimes done in concert). This one feels more Disney which is helped by the fact of Portman’s continuing collaboration with the Disney company. The circle of life as shown through the different ideas of life both with fear of night, cleaning spots for turtles and an especially fun mantis shrimp which has to deal with falling debris from parrotfish, This gives the short feature a nice balance leading into a story of humpback whales which revolves around to mating and protection in the animal kingdom. Considering her real world advocacy and rightfully so, it is also nice to see Portman reflecting in the narration of the natural course in the wild since there is balance in nature.”Dolphin Reef” is inherently watchable as it is a story of family but it also doe not shy away from the comedy of life.

A-

By Tim Wassberg