IR TV Review: DOOM PATROL – EPISODE 4 (“S*x Patrol”) [DC Universe-S2]

The reasoning of “Doom Patrol” resides in what is the more bearable path, what life allows and what it takes to keep motion and emotion alive. While the texture of last season has not yet built this season, the eccentric nature of the comics is allowing itself to be seen. Each individual character knows that they are on a teetering path with one specifically trying to find the right way to evolve while the others look in the rear-view mirror about what holds them back and propels them. After the texture of Mr. Nobody which provided a wrap around shield , this season seems to lose itself in the insular when there are much bigger questions to ask. Hopefully those ideas are building. Vic is finding his way but it is undeniably not the most engaging conversation. Cliff’s problems are a little more variant but is restricted whether the story exists in the real world or his imagination. Rita too has her own issues. What is interesting is that that story crossing with Dorothy and her nature is the most interesting diametric of the season. In this episode “Sex Patrol” the story is more about trying to rescue a friend…and a rather esoteric one at that. Crazy Jane has some of the best bits in the episode but the reasoning is tricky. A small scene inside a tech platform with one of her personalities is one of the most dynamic in the episode because it paints what is going on in her head. A new personality not seen before comes out for a moment and it is a siren. The reality is that the adventure inside Jane’s head is the most interesting one. The battle for the primary is of course an overlay from Season 1.

The antagonist of the episode is interesting enough but almost seems like an abstract proponent that one would see in an “American Dad” episode. It is not that it is bad…it is simply very much out of left field. As the episode culminates, the reason for the actual tempest of sorts is two fold but they definitely react against each other. Another highlight is a small song that in context is the best idea of the episode if it pays off in a later episode which seems a possibility. There is some imagery that speaks to it especially with the hanging of a disco ball. What is missing in a certain way is a little bit more of the heartstrings or strife. Dorothy commands the compelling moments but the family really needs to work around her. “Sex Patrol” is an allusion to an almost tangent story line that no doubt was inspired by “Poltergeist”. Now whether the comic story was pre-80s is a matter of discourse. That said, hopefully the story that the season wants to tell reflects back with a more encompassing idea that takes advantage of its strengths. All the characters have more to explore but they need to be focused in an undeniable way. Most of last season’s story was existential without the characters actually realizing the path until it was right upon them. Dorothy needs to find her fate and the road can diverge into many paths.

C

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HARLEY QUINN – EPISODE 9 (“Bachelorette”) [Warner Brothers Animation-S2]

Whereas in the last episode “Inner [Para] Demons” Harley Quinn seemed to go off the rails in terms of trying to show a coping mechanism, the follow up episode “Bachelorette”[Episode 9], throws the pendulum back again. Season 2 is very much like that in “Harley Quinn”: trying to throw the viewer one way and then volleying back the other way. In “Bachelorette”, Harley is overcompensating again but it feels more real in a liberated way. She takes the Ivy bridal party which includes some interesting people who don’t really want to be there like Catwoman and Mr. Freeze’s girlfriend (Harley killed him in an episode earlier in the season) and puts them in a small space, one of these being a childhood friend from Ivy’s childhood who absolutely does not care. Harley tries to be as fun and inclusive as she can which is an interesting play of thoughts for someone who in the episode before wanted only to destroy. Harley Quinn does have some bi-polar issues but is obviously not being treated in any way so she is coping as best as she can whereas Ivy is finding balance (though she still likes to wreak havoc).

What the episode does brilliantly without shying away is showing the real attraction that Ivy and Harley feel towards each other. What is interesting is reaction and triggers. The irony is that Harley takes them to the Amazon island of Wonder Woman which is only women. In fact this place of purity of spirit has been corrupted since Wonder Woman in the age of the lost city of Gotham has left. It is like the mirror universe but not quite. But what Harley does to jump start the party opens the floodgates, both literally and figuratively but plays back to the ideal of who she really wants to be versus the same perspective of Ivy. It is an interesting conundrum, especially leading to the season finale in the next episode. This kind of depth would have been interesting addition to the “Birds Of Prey” movie though maybe mainstream audiences weren’t quite ready for it but in this context along with the other shenanigans, this narrative flow is dynamic though a little unbalanced in the overall season arc.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DOCTOR WHO (“Nikola Tesla’s Night Of Terrors”) [BBC America – S38]

The relevance of Doctor Who reflects in its ability to show its perspective of life giving a little bit of cheeky adventure sometimes with a heartfelt story. The dexterity of most of the episodes requires a little more mythology understanding than others. But placing it in an interesting perspective (especially today of most days) is an interesting angle. The episode “Nikola Tesla’s Night Of Terrors” has the team going back in time per se pursuing an alien trying to track and take advantage of Tesla’s inventions specifically his invention of distributing energy wirelessly. The Doctor shows up when something doesn’t quite feel right. While most of the posturing is done relatively for comic effect, there is some scenes especially between Tesla and The Doctor at one point, that seems almost romantic which is interesting to say the least but also telling to the Doctor’s psychology as well.

The reflection that builds, as always, functions with elements of some orb and a couple aliens. But it is the elements of invention, especially in Tesla and his assistant who sees his potential that speaks volume. The fact the Goran Vinsic, straight from “Timeless” plays the inventor is no idle casting. The irony for fans of that defunct show is interesting. The idea of which the Doctor and her comrades know is if it ever comes to fruition. The enthusiasm and heart and especially the rivalry with Thomas Edison and Tesla is well played, especially in the passion vs. commerce discussion. The parallel in this moment reflects in Elon Musk whose Space X today did an abort launch test blowing up a rocket on purpose after launch to show the abort system of the Dragon Capsule. Now whether or not he will achieve commercial space flight or going to Mars doesn’t diminish what he has done but will people remember his name in 100 years. The parallel of Tesla (which Musk’s production car is named after) who doesn’t get as much credit as Thomas Edison is an interesting parallel. But it is a nice homage which “Doctor Who” doesn’t forge. In fact, it embraces it with a bit more subtext than usual while still delivering the episodic thrust needed to keep The Doctor on her way.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: STAR TREK – SHORT TREKS (“The Trouble With Edward”) [CBS All Access]

The texture of “Short Treks” in the Star Trek Universe allows for those short vignettes that allow us to see perceptions into more of the lives of perhaps those that have continued on in the night. The first of this new season: “Q&A” examined Spock’s first day as an ensign on Captain Pike’s Enterprise. With the second entry: “The Trouble With Edward” we are treated to the genesis of what caused the Tribbles to become what they did. In its treatment of this lore, it is half human error and half problem solving gone wrong. Pike’s head science officer (played in a nice homage by Alita’s Rosa Salazar) is given the captain’s spot on her own science ship which has to deal with a famine/starvation situation on a planet on the edge of Klingon space.

Everything seems to go wrong mostly because of the crewman who creates the Tribble trouble in the first place because of his stubbornness, ego and slight lack of talent. Archer voice H. Jon Benjamin is a perfect foil in this way since he doesn’t mind playing the depreciation because it works as a form of satire. Salazar is good but she can be much more fluid an actress in a different situation than this small journey allows but it is great to see her being given the opportunity overall. Ultimately, “The Trouble With Edward” is a nice little tome within the pantheon and definitely brings to bear the reproducing situation of these animals, especially when it is a funneled as a food source. As usual, the human condition creates the problem against its best wishes. Plus it is good to see flaws since not every crewman is perfect. The added bonus after the credits also shows the humor that sometimes is not allowed to shine through in such a specific way on an episodic show per se.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: MURDER IN THE BAYOU (Episodes 1 & 2) [Showtime]

The notion of documentaries continues to evolve. In making true life a cinematic experience without losing the weight of what is being examined by real people talking to real people, the complication of human behavior becomes more and more defined, especially when the full truth is not know. In the first two chapters of the limited docu series “Murder In The Bayou”, the deaths so far of 7 women are revealed in various structures. They are all connected, had connections to the wrong side of town, many had drug problems. Their murders, which have been the basis of a New York Times article, have been poured over but no set arrests have been made. What the docu-series does is not lay blame but through interviews with all the accused and the victims paints the idea of a town with a secret to keep but oddly enough why it is doing so.

The story inevitably leads to a local criminal/strip club owner Frankie who provided drugs to some of the girls in exchange for tricks. His interview footage is interesting because more is obviously happening below the surface but he is not reacting. In many interviews with known criminals, there is either remorse or egotism. Here there is neither. The approach of moving with each of the victims’ families is wrenching but also deeply raw. There is pain, anger but also reflection and selfishness in a certain way.

The reflection on the local law enforcement also provides an interesting perception. In many parishes in Louisiana, the law enforcement on the area is the end all/be all as the documentary states. The essence of what happens in small towns in Cajun country is an interesting sociological experiment. Everyone knows everyone and yet everyone seems to be point fingers either way. Like a Deep South version of Twin Peaks, many of victims confessed to family members (as related to interviewers) that they had an idea what was coming. When the media starts looking closer, the response becomes more stilted because of the microscope but the blend of class consciousness but also such a mystery in a small town makes the beginning chords of this docu-series both intense, deeply sad but also intriguing.

B+

By Tim Wassberg