IR TV Review: “Perpetual Infinity” (STAR TREK – DISCOVERY) [CBS All Access-S2]

The aspect of loyalty is a concept that unbalances itself many times with “Star Trek: Discovery”. The idea of trust and the greater good can be mired by thoughts and perceptions of selfishness and the intricate values of altruism. In ”Perpetual Infinity”, the idea of what is for the greater good and what simply necessitates survival is what is the key in capturing The Red Angel. Without revealing any plot points, the texture of who we pretend to be always reveals itself in essence who we truly are. Michael Burnham hides her emotions to protect herself from the loss of her mother. Spock hides his emotions because of emotional pain Michael inflicted on him as a child. While the mythic is not as much in play here as the previous episode, the aspect of loss of choice and the resulting idea of consequence takes over the episode in many ways. The fluid dynamics of time have to figure in with what is happening. But the stubborn aspect of Michael’s bloodline in the feeling that every problem can be fixed is undeniable. But as Spock references two aspects of literature in the episode including one to Macbeth, the proof is in between the lines. The texture of tragedy is only a short time away. The future is fluid and is always changing but every possible outcome has a foreboding nature, as evidenced in Christopher Pike, possibly Michael and eventually and most heartbreakingly Spock. It is just in what lays ahead…come what may.

By Tim Wassberg

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IR TV Review: “Saints Of Imperfection” (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY) [CBS All Access – S2]

The building of path interrelates to a spirit of trust. The series so far this season has been building on the basis of faith, or perhaps in a more esoteric way, trust. The mythic overtones whether in intimate relationships or in large scale pursuit paths define much of what is happening to the crew. The search for Spock is no uncertain terms is one of redemption for multiple characters, not just Michael Burnham. This episode interrelates a certain idea of the spore drive and its unintentional side effects. Tilly plays a big part in this and Mary Wiseman’s portrayal is starting to play a big deeper, which is of undeniable strength. Some characters intersect and go in and out of the story so perhaps there is too many working parts. But in league with some of the insights on faith and science that Sonequa spoke about in the character, the path becomes both more clear and more puzzling, especially when a certain type of radiation is detected towards the end of the episode. The key in this review is not to reveal any more of the plot points then needed. But ultimately the idea comes down to the path we choose. Now granted some of the dialogue can border on the melodramatic when it might need to be at times, more cutting. But in serving the story, especially with these amounts of special effects for a weekly show, the line needs to be walked. But in an unique way with the slow motion codas at the beginning and end, the tale of Discovery continues to be shaped in small bits.

By Tim Wassberg

Assimilating Tactics: Returning Television Shows – Spring 2010 – Review – Part I

The returning aspect of genre shows a couple series trying to find that strain to be able to keep their impact pertinent while still having enough stories to tell. “Burn Notice” still has that edge to it but with Michael being in Miami almost three years and running out of excuses, the idea looms. With Chuck, it is similar but has the small miracle of reinvention with a new challenge. “Fringe” has the most still moving because it allowed the most mysteries yet to be solved. While not “Lost”-sized, it does give enough, although Walter is starting to be normal. Still good writing across the board on all three show a wonderful quality.

Burn Notice The aspect within Michael Weston is his ability to create change. The split season adheres to this with Fiona almost losing her battle with both the affections of her spy as well as her life. The interim of more spy mercenaries keeps the barbs coming but the essentials of what keeps Michael in place ultimately will come down to Fi. The aspect of her almost being killed should have affected him more but something truly needs to come to a head. Sharon Gless’ mother character is becoming more aware giving the piece a boost from another area (especially when Tyne Daly, her Cagney & Lacey co-star) shows up in an episode. With the importance of his burn starting to wane, despite the show still moving with pace, the question becomes one of an end date unfortunately, because like LOST, “Burn” needs a goal to reach for which will allow for an intention of purpose since, because its characters are not ones to wait, seems a forgone conclusion.

Chuck With the limitations of our intrepid bungling hero getting his training wheels taken off, one would figure that the possibilities were endless. However two things need to give cadence to prudence. And this lies in the budget because taking Chuck further requires more creativity. While he doesn’t turn out to be the spy in motion everybody hoped he would be because his emotions got in the way, the dynamic has changed somewhat because he is now gaining a little bit of respect while still saying all the wrong things. The best thing to keep moving is the Sarah/Chuck romance which always needs that “will they/won’t they” possibility to keep it going. While the Rachel Bilson romance had possibilities, the show runners decided to keep it Sarah centric. However in flashback mode, we learn that it was Chuck that placed a kink in letting work get in the way of his dream girl. Ultimately a new play both for Chuck and Sarah comes into play that creates an interesting dichotomy even though it might be one to alienate some of the viewers. However, the casting of Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh is a smart movie but for him and the show because it gives a rival suitor that can supplement overt genre fans. The question of course is where to go. “Chuck” still does have a story to tell but is it enough to keep NBC from cancelling it. After all “My Name Is Earl” was just starting to hit its stride when the plug was pulled so nothing can be taken for granted.

Fringe With the aspect of the other side being relegated away from the forefront and Agent Dunham’s limp moving more and more away, the connection of mythology has been playing lighter with subtle hints unlike last season where we saw a tinge of her powers on top of the building. The one realization that is not even subtle anymore is the fact that Walter actually seems to have brought Peter back from the other world since he seemed to have died there. This is not spoken outright but the conclusions seem clear. Walter, as played brilliantly by John Noble (who deserves an Emmy nomination) seems to becomiing more congnificent which drives down the elements of comedy but make him more resilient character since he is now starting to realize what he has wrought over the years. The aspects of the past and essences of time travel are now being examined but not truly brought to light although the interim images are now having pertinence with the seahorse mentioned directly in passing.

Light, Darkness & Stop Motion: Returning Fall 2009 Television Shows – Review

The aspect of mythology within some shows can often create a weight that they are unable to pull out from. While the ideas might be just, sometimes a simple idea combined with a cinematic superlative can be much more effective. The balance of this can be found in the latter two shows below on Cartoon Network which while not always on the mark are riveted by moments of brilliance. The key as always is balance.

Heroes The reflection of last year’s Jekyll & Hyde solution to the Sylar Problem created more plot holes than deemed inherently necessary. Despite this, the opening elements of Season 2 seemed to have a bit of epic in them before the progression reconstituted to a more “Carnivale” setting which was less than impressive. All the characters save really for Claire have undergone so many changes that their intentions and wants are quite unnecessary at this point. Sylar’s consciousness and mind grabbing in the life of the all powerful Matt is almost reduced to mere melodrama which doesn’t not intensify the viewer. The writing tends to be on the wall and the reality is that if one can see the lines then the possibilities of the show are in trouble. Despite its lore and the greatness of its first two seasons, unfortunately “Heroes” seems to have worn out its welcome because it didn’t make the stakes high enough. Disasters need to happen and villains (and heroes) must fall.

Dollhouse The conception of where the series leads depends on its ability to show a rebellion of sorts. The mythic conception of the show requires that there be inherent risks. This possibility begins but its outcome is unsure. The inception of this season begins to show the cracks in Echo (played by Eliza Dushku) as well as the false back perceptions of characters like Madeline and especially Sierra. The stakes start to be elevated in terms of having something to lose. The motivation of this series is that control will eventually be lost causing something undeniably bad to happen. However, the story progression still has not reached full stride despite the fact that its potential continues to grow. The problem becomes time because despite fan support, the maintaining of such a complex show is sometimes a quandry in itself.

Batman: The Brave & The Bold The continuation of this play against the norm works because it is a little out there. To initiate the season, a musical episode both made fun and embraced the zany element with Neil Patrick Harris guesting as “The Music Meister”. Actually the execution wasn’t too bad and offered an interesting dichotomy within the structure not unlike “Dr. Horrible” by extension with a bit of the old Warner cool look. The obvious parallel works in “The Phantom Of The Opera” while in the second episode the intent of a “Death Race” places villians and heroes in an all new structure. The genre game begins in earnest but unlike stayed and true formats, Batman overall has been done before. However, this new approach offers something quite niche but ultimately creatively inventive as the long as permission holds.

Robot Chicken The interim of this popular stop motion series depends greatly on being able to make fresh elements without retreading too much ground. This becomes more difficult over time as the creative team must bring into being new and decidely different comic approaches to material. Granted “The Dark Knight” is referenced more than a couple times in the first episodes and the Thor entry, only in play because of the impending movie, misfires. However a “Dark Crystal” rap parody despite being a bit outside the collective consciousness is surprising fresh. The banging robot and Stallone hitting the head with a girly magazine mumbling “Here we go!” still gets great response. The aspect becomes how far do you push? The Dr. Suess parody involving a blue elephant and crackhead kangaroo is gut busting but undeniably might run too far while Captain Kick Ass cleans up shop. The series is touch and go but still has a consistent funny.

Space, Witches & The Unknown: New Fall 2009 Television Shows – Review

Genre always take a perspective in the personification of series. Sometimes it is based within the vision of space or within the confines of the mind. Others can permeate inside sheer fantasy. However the base has to be humor belied with realism. The problem with some of the new shows is lack of balance from either side.

The Forgotten Following the short lived element of “My Own Worst Enemy”, Christian Slater jumps right back into the fray under the perceptive leadership of Jerry Bruckheimer. This angle is what sold him. His character here however, although specific, melds into the background. Slater is playing him effectively but not overwrought which he can do if he really wants to. This allows the series to breathe and highlight the other people in the cast, especially the two women on his volunteer team. Now granted this is a procedural but the aspects of the volunteers’ aspect, although noble, has the intensity of being a little thin. The reveals of the victim despite this show a very distinct and efficient use of story which is ultimately what Bruckheimer’s company is very good at. The stories from the aspect of a John Doe who is the head of a internet company that sold to a Jane Doe who is part of a “Parachute Kid” conspiracy have real world relevance today. More importantly, it doesn’t depend on the aspects of the paranormal to motivate the plot…yet. If this show can keep this real world stability then the essence of the show might continue.

Stargate Universe The influx of this franchise has retreated in the aspect of being re-initialized. The forward momentum in thinking places this new birthing as a parallel to “Enterprise” which was a good show with a well balanced cast that couldn’t find its audience due to over saturation. “Universe” begins out with an interesting theme in terms of the essence of distance but despite quite good character arcs, there is a lack of true suspense. Like “2010” it gives us something interesting in terms of reveals but nothing is truly groundbreaking. Giving the audience a identity through the young video game wiz brought from Earth is a step in the right direction but ultimately seems too forced. Having hung out with the creators before they began starting the show at the TCA Summer Press Tour, the enthusiasm is there. The stakes have to be higher beyond simple theatrics and soap perceptions. The key is danger from beyond and inside which is what the show seems angled to attack but without a concurrent perception of pace, its ability might falter.

Eastwick The aspect of witchcraft and a modern intermingling of the devil’s presence which was so richly captured in the 1987 film begins here with a verve of perspective but loses its way in the motivation of its lead character. The one angle that was always intrinsic of Darrell Van Horn was his ability was to truly capture the intentions of his muses: the witches, before they begin to turn on him. The first couple episodes begin to build this but the writing staff is trying to balance the normal lives and loves of these women with who they inherently are. The three actresses here have the possibility and capture the spark every once in a while and Paul Gross as the new Darrell has the unfettered ability to make it work. However, at a certain point, the writing for him loses its way because of a lack of planning. He becomes less of the devil than he truly needs to be and that is problematic. Moments like when one of the witches is sliding and singing on the piano really capture the feeling of inhibition whereas the most underused character in the form of the bookish newspaper reporter falters by the wayside. What could have been utterly exceptional in a wonderfully guilty way instead comes off as a stale with a stalled state of potential.

Crash – Starz – TV Review

“Crash”. based on the Oscar winning film of the same name, revolves in a structure of redemption and perceptions of honor. As the second season opens, Dennis Hopper’s character returns to LA focused on maintaining his sobriety but also longing to track down the person responsible for his daughter’s death.

The inherent dichotomy of the series, especially in the first two advance episodes, is built to interact the structure of several interweaving experiences meant to serve one major storyline. While this is admirable, the stories involved do not come across as overtly dramatic or if, in irony, any way stylized. A hustler runs a trick, because of his own shortcomings, on his girlfriend. A billionaire has a born again moment feeling as if he was touched by God. A man who had utterly destroyed his wife emotionally asks for a second chance. These all form into a caricature that if placed well can be inherently visceral and mythic but, as is, doesn’t really excite. Maybe the restart of this season is meant to burn slowly (and having not seen the first season, that might be the case). However with a no-holds-barred angle within Starz, the boundary even in these first two episodes (“You Set The Scene” & “Always See Your Face”) always needs to be pushed. “Sons Of Anarchy” is pushing the levels further and further while still being on basic cable. The ante seems like it needs to upped.

The intro of the second season is twirled with The Doors’ “Turn Out The Lights” that gave the show rhythm. It needs to find more of that, either with a confrontation of some sort (which may be coming) or simply an inherent conflict. Eric Roberts joins the cast here as a billionaire who has a new relationship with life but the angle is overplayed without showing a true chicanery behind this thought or a real acting challenge. A man like this thinks the same despite any falsehoods. The key is to create the paradox of that. “Crash” inherently needs to rip its heart open and show its intensity leading through the second season. Out of 5. I give it a 2.