Monday, September 29, 2014

Family Guy Season 13 Episode # 1 "The Simpsons Guy" - Recap and Review


The Couch gag in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode The Simpsons Guy

Peter starts a cartoon strip “For Pete's Sake” in the local newspaper. His anti-feminist tone gets him in trouble and the Griffins are forced to leave Quahog, Rhode Island.

On their way, their car gets stolen. The Griffins discover that they are in Springfield, home to arguably the most popular animated family - The Simpsons.

The Griffins run into Homer Simpson at Kwik-E-Mart. Homer offers them accommodation and takes Peter to Chief Clancy Wiggum to have a missing report filed. As is his wont, Clancy tries to get bribe money and Peter's refusal results in Wiggum refusing to file his missing car report.

Brian meets Santa's Little Helper in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

Back at the Simpsons' house, the family members get acquainted with each other. Brian is surprised that Santa's Little Helper (SLH) is nothing like him. He is just a docile and sweet dog, in other words a regular family dog. He and Chris take SLH for a walk and Brian mistakenly unleashes SLH. SLH promptly runs away.

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Lisa tries to help Meg regain her sense of self esteem. After making a checklist of items (most of which Meg is not good at), Lisa finally suggests playing the saxophone. To Lisa's surprise, Meg proves to be a superior player.

Bart Simpson and Stewie Griffin with Bart's favorite slingshot in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
The most interesting interactions are the ones between Bart Simpson and Stewie Griffin. After making a suitably epic entrance, Bart introduces Stewie to his all powerful weapon - the slingshot.

Mystified and awed at Bart's simple arsenal, Stewie starts hanging out more. Bart teaches the art of skateboarding to Stewie.

Stewie Griffin learns skateboarding from Bart Simpson in The Simpsons Guy crossover episode

They run into Nelson Mandela Muntz, the local bully. As usual, Nelson pushes Bart around and an enraged Stewie kidnaps Bart's tormentor and looks set to inflicting some true horror movie style.

Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin car wash service and then pilot a plane to find the stolen car

Homer and Peter decide to take things into their hands and try to recover the latter's stolen car. Homer suggest that they should think like a car to find one. This results in both of them drinking gasoline at a gas station.

When this strategy fails, Peter notices a lady filling gas in her car. These shenanigans results in a porn video that proves to be quite popular. They also organize a car washing service and then take to the skies.

Peter Griffin offering Pawtucket Patriot Ale to Homer Simpson in Springfield in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

Things go smooth for Peter and Homer, until Peter introduces the Pawtucket Patriot Ale to his new friend at Moe Szyslak's bar, Moe's Tavern. Homer claims that the ale is a copy of his favorite Duff Beer. The discussion soon becomes unfriendly and a legal case is filed by The Simpsons. 

The judge, Fred Flinstone (“The Flinstones”) awards the case in Simpson's favor.

Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson having a chicken fight in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

The Griffins leave Springfield shortly, but not before Homer and Peter have had a Family Guy style chicken fight.

This was one of the funniest The Simpsons/Family Guy episodes I have seen. As Chris correctly commented about crossovers, this episode did indeed bring out the best in both these shows.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the episode:
  1. Jaden Smith reference
  2. Bart's entry
  3. The Griffins discussing about which state Springfield belongs to.
  4. Homer's entrance at Kwik-E-Mart
  5. Peter referring to Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon as a funny sounding Cleveland
  6. The final punch between Homer and Peter as well as green colored weapon used by Peter was a reference to the Superman-Doomsday fight from “The Death of Superman
  7. Stewie kidnapping Nelson, Jimbo and Principal Skinner
  8. Comic Book Guy's appearance and his comment - Worst Chicken fight ever
  9. The closing scene with Stewie writing on the blackboard.
The best part was the court scene in which the similar counterparts from both shows were seated together. As much as I like Family Guy, The Simpsons are in a class of their own.


Lisa Simpson offers her saxophone to Meg Griffin in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

It was a great episode that finally acknowledges how much Family Guy has been inspired by The Simpsons. Must watch for fans of either show. 

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The Strain Season 1 Episode # 12 "Last Rites" - Recap and Review


Stephen McHattie as Quinlan the ancient vampire hunter in FX The Strain Season 1 Episode 12 Last Rites

This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip it, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) pays a visit to the sick business tycoon, Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde). Eldritch reminds him that The Master owes him in return for all the help he has done as per the deal. Thomas responds that the Master does whatever he pleases. Eldritch claims to be still having faith that he will get his due.

Flashback to Albania in 1967. The younger Abraham Setrakian (Jim Watson) is still in pursuit of the German strigoi, Thomas Eichorst. Miriam Setrakian (Adina Verson) is concerned about her husband's obsession with tracking down the German tormentor.

Abraham is fooled into a trap laid by Eichorst and his wife is turned into a strigoi. Abraham makes the difficult choice of killing his beloved Miriam and then carves out her heart as a reminder and inspiration to continue his quest/mission.

Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mia Maestro and Kevin Durand as Eph Goodweather, Abraham Setrakian, Nora Martinez and Vasiliy Fet hunting vampires in FX The Strain

Back in the present, Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) tries to comfort Abraham about their failure to end The Master's life

Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) gets the drop on Alonso Creem in his car. Gus needs money, ammunition and has decided to procure his supplies from Alonso. Things get out of hand, when they come under attack by vampires.

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Quinlan (Stephen McHattie), the hooded guy dressed in black (we saw a long time ago), reappears just in time to save the day. His crew kidnaps Gus.

Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) returns to the pawn shop and explains her plan to broadcast Eph's message to the world.

Richard Sammel as Thomas Eichorst the German Nazi strigoi vampire attacking Abraham Setrakian's pawn shop in FX The Strain Season 1 Episode 12 Last Rites

Just as Eph finishes his first ever speech, Eichorst leads an attack on Abraham's pawn shop. The turned Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy) attacks Nora's mom, Mariela Martinez (Anne Betancourt) with his stinger. As the good guys make their escape from the shop through an escape door, Nora decapitates her now infected mother.

In the closing scenes, The Master arrives at the Stoneheart Group building and secretes his body fluids into Eldritch's mouth. Eldtrich quickly regains his vitality and is able to walk and enjoy the rain on the patio. His assistant/bodyguard Mr. Fitzwilliams (Roger R. Cross) is surprised and concerned with this sudden change in his employer.

The Strain has got to be one of the most pondering shows on TV. Having read the novels on which the series is based, it baffles me to as to why the show has been scripted this way. Things have been moving too slow right from the beginning and this episode is no different.

Nothing much happens of note, except for Gus' kidnapping and the death of Nora's mother. On the plus side, at least we have one less unnecessary character, thanks to Gabe.

Corey Stoll and Ben Hyland as Eph Goodweather and his son Zach Goodweather in FX The Strain

The scenes showing the budding romance between Vasiliy Fet and Dutch Velders feels like more of the filler material that we have been seeing as part of the show. To his credit, Kevin does provide some humor in his interactions with Corey Stoll's character, Eph Goodweather.

Jim Watson gives a good performance as the younger Abraham Setrakian. Credit to the make up department for making Jim's Setrakian look like a credible younger version of David Bradley's older one.

Another nice touch was Thomas Eichorst's reflection vibrating in the mirror.

Hopefully, the season finale will ratchet up the tension that has been sorely missing so far in a show about vampires and humans racing against time to stop a fast spreading infection.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Gotham Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot - Recap and Review

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Detective James Gordon and Harvey Bullock with the rest of the cast in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

The episode starts with a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), pick pocketing couple of Gotham citizens. One of her victims gives chase. Selina makes her escape and soon becomes a witness to the mugging of a family.

The family in question are the Waynes after an evening at the movies. Thomas (Grayson McCouch) and Martha Wayne (Brette Taylor) are murdered, leaving behind a heartbroken Bruce (David Mazouz).

Detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) form a team at the Gotham Police Department. Both are the polar opposites of each other.

James is a rookie, idealistic and enthusiastic. James is engaged to the beautiful Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). 

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Detective James Gordon and Harvey Bullock arrive at the crime scene of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Harvey is a world weary cynic and is termed lackadaisical by his partner. He seems to have been intimate with the local gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).

They are assigned to the Wayne homicide. Arriving at the scene, Jim comforts a grieving Bruce and promises to catch his parents' killer. Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) arrives and takes Bruce home.

Harvey wants to wash his hands off the case, due to the high profile of the victims involved. Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart) are also a couple of detectives from another detective unit and are itching to take over the case.

Working on a tip from Fish Mooney, Harvey and Jim track down a suspect, Mario Pepper (Daniel Stewart Sherman). Mario tries to flee and is shot dead by Harvey, as he is about to kill Jim.

Jada Pinkett Smith as gang boss Fish Mooney with Robin Lord Taylor as her right hand man Oswald Cobblepot in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Mooney's right hand man, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor)  is ambitious. He pays a visit to Renee and Crispus and informs them that Mario was made a scapegoat by Mooney and the mob kingpin, Carmine Falcone (John Doman).

Renee informs Barbara about this and conveys her suspicion that her fiancee was a willing part of this conspiracy. An enraged Jim accosts Mooney and is overpowered by her henchmen. Harvey tries to rescue Jim and instead becomes a hostage himself.

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Just as they are about to be killed, big boss Falcone intervenes and saves their lives. Falcone and Jim's father, once the district attorney of Gotham, were friends and this is the motivation behind Falcone's rescue.

Mooney realizes that Oswald is the police informant and gives him a good beating. Oswald is set to be executed by Jim as a test of the latter's loyalty to the existing power hierarchy in the city. 

Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon with Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot The Penquin in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

 The conscientious Jim pretends to do away with Oswald and warns him to never set foot in Gotham again. Oswald swims to safety and immediately starts his life of crime across the shore.

Jim also visits Bruce at the Wayne Manor and informs him about the truth about Mario Pepper. He promises to keep looking for the real killer.

The pilot episode started off slow, but picked up steam at around the midpoint. I was skeptical about the show and thought it to be just a cash grab attempt.

The episode turned out to be better than expected. The show has scripted as a city crime drama. As an analogy, it has more in common with The Dark Knight, than with Batman Begins or The Dark Knight Rises.

David Mazouz as a young Bruce Wayne with Grayson McCouch and Brette Taylor as his parents Dr Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

The acting is solid, if not exceptional. Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor make the best impression. Jada in particular is excellent as the ruthless gangster. She exudes beauty and brutality effortlessly. She is effective in the scene with Robin's Oswald, when she assaults him as a punishment for his disloyalty.

Robin is also good as Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penquin, as he is called by others (much to his distaste). His beating at the hands of Mooney leaves him with a badly injured leg and is a nice nod to the supervillain he will eventually become. 

Speaking of supervillain, there are a bunch of them in this show. In addition to the aforemtioned Selina Kyle, we also have Edward Nygma a.k.a The Riddler (played by Cory Michael Smith) and a very young Ivy Pepper a.k.a Poison Ivy (played by Clare Foley). These two are nothing more than cameos and I am sure we will seeing more of them in the upcoming seasons. Right now, the spotlight is on Oswald Cobblepot/The Penquin and Selina Kyle.

Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle the future Catwoman in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Selina seems to be the audience surrogate as far as Bruce's personal journey is considered. Just as she was a silent witness to the murder of his parents, she spies on their funeral ceremony and is seen outside the Wayne Manor in the closing scene. It appears that Selina is stalking Bruce with some definite goal(s) in mind.

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue are adequate as James Gordon and Harvey Bullock respectively. Both are one note performances as the idealistic and the veteran cops. The actors could use some humor. In fact, the show itself will do better with more levity.

David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee as Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth do not get much screentime in the pilot episode. It does look like Sean's version of Alfred is a bitter old man. We will get to know more of Alfred's backstory in the upcoming episodes.

On the plus side, the show did not waste time in getting to the meat. In fact, the Wayne murders happened at the third minute after the episode began. Here's hoping that show maintains the same tempo in terms of screenplay and does not follow in the foot steps of the FX Vampire Horror show “The Strain.

A good start and hopefully the show will get better as the season progresses.

Recommended watch for fans of the Dark Knight/DC Comics.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

BBC Sherlock Canonical References in Season 2 Episode # 1 "A Scandal in Belgravia"


Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 2 A Scandal in Belgravia

Dear Readers,

After a significant gap, we return for another post about the Canonical References in BBC Sherlock. 

Scripted by Steven Moffat, “A Scandal in Belgravia” is based on the original story: A Scandal in Bohemia.  Here are the references to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories:

1. John is seen typing about a case involving a pleasure cruise – In The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, Sherlock Holmes mentions to Dr John Watson: “Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson,” said Holmes in a reminiscent voice. “It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared…”.

2. John Watson is seen typing the details for a case titled The Geek Interpreter - Reference to the Canonical Story: The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

3. John Watson is seen typing the details for a case titled The Speckled Blonde - Reference to the Canonical Story: The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

4. When Sherlock asks John not to mention the unsolved ones on his blog, John replies: “People want to know you are human” – Reference to this line spoken by Dr John Watson in The Sign of the Four: “There is something positively inhuman in you at times.”

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5. John points out to Sherlock about the success of his blog and advises him: “This is your living, Sherlock. Not 240 different types of tobacco ash” – This is a bit far-fetched, but this reminded me of the advice given by Trevor Sr. to Sherlock Holmes about being a detective in The Adventure of the Gloria Scott: “I don't know how you manage this, Mr. Holmes, but it seems to me that all the detectives of fact and of fancy would be children in your hands. That's you line of life, sir, and you may take the word of a man who has seen something of the world.”

6. Sherlock asks John if he is going to title their latest case as “Belly Button Murders”. John replies: The Navel Treatment” and Sherlock groans audibly –

Sherlock Holmes writes about Dr Watson's writing style in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: “..since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to facts and figures.”

Sherlock Holmes tells Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange: “Your fatal habit of looking at everything from the point of view of a story instead of as a scientific exercise has ruined what might have been an instructive and even classical series of demonstrations. You slur over work of the utmost finesse and delicacy, in order to dwell upon sensational details which may excite, but cannot possibly instruct, the reader.” 

Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson in 221 B Baker Street in BBC Sherlock

7. Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) discovers some severed thumbs in the fridge –


Dr John Watson writes about Mrs Hudson in The Adventure of the Dying Detective: “Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman.”
Possible reference to the Canonical story, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb in which Victor Hatherley, the titular hydraulic engineer has his thumb severed by Colonel Lysander Stark.

8. A highly palpitating client faints in front of Mrs Hudson – In the Canon, many clients are exhausted by the time they arrive at 221 B Baker Street. Holmes/Dr Watson have to revive their strength, sometimes with the help of brandy. Examples - Thorneycroft Huxtable in The Adventure of the Priory School and Alexander Holder in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet.

9. Sherlock instructs his prospective client: “Tell us from the start. Don’t be boring” – Sherlock Holmes comments about the nature of Lord Robert St. Simon's impending visit in
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor: “This looks like one of those unwelcome social summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie.”

10. Sherlock questions the DI Carter (Danny Webb) as to why his suspect would call the police and consult a detective, if he had really committed the murder successfully without an eyewitness. Carter replies: “He is trying to be clever. It’s over confidence.” – In
The Adventure of the Retired Colorman, Sherlock Holmes explains the reasons for Josiah Amberley hiring his services, even though he has murdered his wife and Dr Ray Ernest: “He felt so clever and so sure of himself that he imagined no one could touch him. He could say to any suspicious neighbour, "Look at the steps I have taken. I have consulted not only the police but even Sherlock Holmes."”.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 2 A Scandal in Belgravia

11. Sherlock's observation that his client has “the right sleeve of an Internet porn addict”. Later, he deduces that he is being summoned to Buckingham Palace by observing the finger nails, boots and other details of Mycroft's agent - Sherlock Holmes writes in A Study in Scarlet: By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs—by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.

12. Sherlock deduces that his client has “the breathing pattern of an untreated heart condition” - In The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, Sherlock Holmes deduces that John Hector McFarlane is an asthmatic by observing his breathing.


13. Harry, the Equerry (Andrew Havill) makes the statement: “Client is illustrious in the extreme.” – Reference to the title of the Canonical Story: The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.

14. Sherlock refuses to take the case without knowing the identify of his client by stating: “I am used to mystery at one end of my cases. Both ends is too much work.” - In The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, Sherlock Holmes states to Colonel Sir James Damery: “I am accustomed to have mystery at one end of my cases, but to have it at both ends is too confusing. I fear, Sir James, that I must decline to act.”
 

15. Harry mentions that his employer enjoys John's blog and in particular the story of The Aluminium Crutch – In The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, Sherlock Holmes brings out the large tin box and explains its contents to Dr Watson: Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminum crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife.

Lara Pulver as Irene Adler in BBC Sherlock Season 2 Episode 1 A Scandal in Belgravia

16. Sherlock explains to John about getting prepared for their meeting with Irene Adler (Lara Pulver): “I am going into battle, John. I need the right armor” – In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes explains about the importance of disguises to Scotland Yard Inspector, Athelney Jones: “You see, a good many of the criminal classes begin to know me,—especially since our friend here took to publishing some of my cases: so I can only go on the war-path under some simple disguise like this..”.

17. Sherlock’s first words with Irene Adler: “Ms Adler, I presume” – This reminded me of A Study in Scarlet, in which Sherlock Holmes’ first words with Dr John Watson are “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive”.

18. Sherlock explains to Irene Adler: “Noises are important. Noises can tell you everything” – In The Adventure of the Three Gables, Sherlock Holmes deduces that Susan is overhearing his conversation by listening. He explains: “I have been listening to her for the last five minutes, but did not wish to interrupt your most interesting narrative. Just a little wheezy, Susan, are you not? You breathe too heavily for that kind of work.”


19. Sherlock utters “Vatican cameos” just as he starts to fight the agents at Irene's place – In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes mentions as being “exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the Vatican cameos”.


Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 2 A Scandal in Belgravia

20. Sherlock Holmes uses “The Process of Elimination” to guess the name of Watson’s current girlfriend, Jeanette (Oona Chaplin). – Hilarious reference to Sherlock Holmes’ classic quote from The Sign of the Four: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”


21. At 221 B Baker Street, Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) remarks about Sherlock complaining about John’s absence – Sherlock Holmes writes in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: “The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association. I was alone.”


22. Irene Adler fakes her death by passing off a dead body with a “bashed in head” as her own corpse - Possible reference to the plot of The Valley of Fear. In this novel, John Douglas/Birdy Edwards kills Ted Baldwin by bashing his head in with a hammer and then tries to get away by using Ted’s dead body as his own. 


I will be posting the rest of the references in the next post.

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