Friday, October 31, 2014

Elementary Season 3 Episode # 1 "Enough Nemesis To Go Around" – Recap and Review

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

The episode starts with a quick recap of how Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) was offered a position with MI6 at the end of Season 2. 

Cut to the present. It has been six months since Holmes has joined MI6. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) has become the sole consulting detective for NYPD. Her current case involves Elana March (Gina Gershon), a suspected leader of a drug cartel. Joan has Karen Lloyd, a key member of Elana's cartel, arrested while Elana is having lunch with her.

Joan finds new love in the form of Andrew Mittal (Raza Jaffrey) after helping him find his missing pet lizard. During their date, Joan notices a young woman (Ophelia Lovibond) following her.

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Karen and her police escort are murdered in the elevator, just as she is leaving to the court. Even after a lapse of two months, Joan is still working on the case, when she receives a tip from one Montcliffe Ekuban.

Joan is pursued by the same young woman she encountered earlier. Joan confronts her and the two engage in a brief single stick fight. Joan overcomes her opponent and deduces that she works for Sherlock. The lady introduces herself as Sherlock's new partner.

Joan realizes that the name refers to two persons famous during the Victorian era. She visits the old brownstone to find Sherlock in a mask at work.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes with Ophelia Lovibond as his apprentice Kitty Winter in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

Sherlock informs Joan that he has a new protege, Kitty Winters (Ophelia Lovibond) who has been shadowing Joan for the past week. Joan is angry with Sherlock for leaving her with just a note, instead of a personal farewell. She asks Sherlock to stay off her case.

Sherlock approaches Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) to renew his consulting for the NYPD. Gregson clarifies that while he has always respected Holmes for his talent, he has never considered him as his friend. He also informs Holmes that he needs to get Joan's consent before he can start working for NYPD again.

The person of interest in the case is one Kevin Elspeth, suspected to be a hit man on March's payroll. He has been staying in the hotel, when the murders took place.

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

Despite Joan's clear message to the contrary, Sherlock starts working on the case. He has a theory about how the murders were done and passes on his idea to Joan.

Holmes tries to patch up with Joan at her apartment. He reveals that his failure of getting addicted to heroin was what prompted him to return to London. He tries to offer his assistance in solving the case as a “sounding board”, but is rebuffed.

Joan is used to solving cases all by herself and proceeds to achieve success with this one too.

Guest star Gina Gershon as Allison March, a suspected leader of a criminal enterprise in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

The best performance was given by guest star Gina Gershon. She projects subdued but very real malice, especially in her scenes with Joan Watson. 

Lucy Liu continues to be the main lead of Elementary. She hogs the limelight from the first scene and deservedly so. She makes a far more believable detective than Jonny Lee Miller.

Jonny Lee Miler Sherlock Holmes locks on the wall in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

Speaking of Miller, the only difference is that he is clean shaven now. Otherwise, it is business as usual with the same old exasperating body language, mannerisms and the locks on the wall. Yes, those locks.... they are back.

The latest addition to the cast, Ophelia Lovibond is adequate in her role. It is her character itself that is more appealing than the actress. Kitty Winter appears in the original story “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client” as a bitter former mistress of Baron Adelbert Gruner.

Ophelia Lovibond guest stars as Kitty Winter Sherlock Holmes new apprentice in CBS Elementary Season 3 Episode 1 Enough Nemesis To Go Around

Sherlock Holmes enlists her help but unknown to him, she has an agenda of her own and throws vitriol on the Baron's face. It will be interesting to see if Elementary's version also has an ulterior motive.

The mystery component was OK. The episode was good by usual Elementary standards i.e. it was not boring for the most part.

Recommended only to fans of the show.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode "Non Est Asylum" - Recap and Review

NBC Constantine Matt Ryan 2014 TV Show poster wallpaper image picture screensaver DC Comics Hellblazer character

As the pilot episode begins, John Constantine (Matt Ryan) has been institutionalized in Northern England. He receives shock treatment and attends counseling sessions with Dr Roger Huntoon (Miles Anderson).

Constantine is bored out of his wits with the pedestrian life at the institution. He does not have to wait for long. During one of the group therapy sessions, he notices a lot of beetles moving in a particular direction and follows them.

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At the end of the trail, he finds a possessed girl and proceeds to exorcise her. She was writing a message on the wall, when she was interrupted. The message reads: “LIV DIE”.

Lucy Griffiths as Liv Aberdine with Matt Ryan as John Constantine in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv Aberdine (Lucy Griffiths) is a young woman, who is the person referred to in the message. After a long day at her work, she is about to leave in her car when she is attacked. The ground near her opens up and couple of cars go under.

John arrives in time to save Liv. But he is not alone. Constantine's guardian angel, Manny (Harold Perrineau) is looking out for him. John gives a suspicious Liv his business card and advises her to look him up, should she find herself in mortal danger.

The stranded Liv finds help from her friend Talia (Julia Lehman), who works nearby. Talia lives in the apartment opposite Liv's. As Liv enters her apartment, she notices a stranger lurking in the shadows.

Harold Perrineau as Manny Constantine guardian angel  in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

An unseen assailant tries to enter Liv's apartment and is foiled by the inscription on her door. The unlucky Talia becomes the victim. 

Convinced about the seriousness of the danger surrounding her, she agrees to take Constantine's assistance. John takes her to a safehouse, that belongs to Liv's father, Jasper Winters. John had promised Jasper that he will keep Liv safe.

Soon, Liv starts to see dead people, including her dead grandmother. John explains to her that she has inherited these powers from her father.

Charles Halford as Chas Constantine closest friend in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum 

John's closest friend Chas (Charles Halford) is along for the ride. He is the one who inscribed the spell on Liv's door.

Constantine discovers that Furcifer is the demon trying to kill Liv. He decides to take the fight right back by baiting Liv. He also takes the help of a hacker/computer expert Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies).

In the final showdown, Furcifer possesses a security guard (Victor McCay). Constantine is about to destroy the demon after entrapping it, when it tries to trick him by using his guilt over his failure to save a young girl, Astra (Bailey Tippen).

Victor McCay as the security guard possessed by Furcifer demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv uses her new found powers and informs Constantine about Furcifer's tactic. Constantine proceeds to destroy the demon.

The NBC show got off to a great start with the first episode. The production values are surprisingly good for a pilot. Credit goes to the director Neil Marshall and the script by David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone.

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I have enjoyed the werewolf horror movie Dog Soldiers by Neil. He continues his good run with this episode. Goyer redeems himself after the unmitigated disaster of Man of Steel.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine with sunglasses in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Constantine is an antihero and not a regular run-of-the-mill superhero per se. He is a self proclaimed Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts. He also has a wicked sense of humor and an attitude to boot. 

The casting of Matt Ryan as the titular character is one of the best casting choices among the TV shows I have seen in the recent past. He is spot on as the smooth talking con man/exorcist. Matt's Constantine has a great sense of humor and this makes a world of difference to a viewer like me.

It also helps that Matt has the acting chops and charisma to make for a genuinely appealing lead. Despite the fact that Constantine suffers from typical leading man fallacies such as angst over the past etc., Matt made an impression. I find his performance far more enjoyable compared to the leads in other DC comics based shows like Arrow, Gotham and The Flash. 

Helmet of Fate Dr Fate DC Comics reference in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Another enjoyable aspect was the cameo by the Helmet of Fate. As fans of DC Comics might be aware, it is used by Dr Fate.

I am not familiar with the history or background of the character of John Constantine, except the 2005 Hollywood movie starring Keanu Reeves. The movie reportedly features significant changes to the character.

The NBC show returns the character to his roots as a blonde British at home in the UK.

Talia possessed by a demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

The music, cinematography and the makeup greatly enhance the horror aspects of the show. Kudos to the cast and crew for delivering a great horror show. Talia's possession reminded me of the classic Sam Raimi movie Evil Dead.

A recommended watch for fans of Constantine/DC Comics/Horror genre.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - Teaser Trailer

Avengers Age of Ultron movie sequel poster image wallpaper picture robert downey jr iron man sequel marvel cinematic universe

The trailer for the upcoming movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is out. The ensemble cast includes Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Mark Ruffalo as  Bruce Banner/The Hulk and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. 

Joining the regular cast are James Spader (as the voice of Ultron), Elizabeth Olsen (as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver).

Andy Serkis is also seen in the trailer, but it is not clear what character he is playing in the movie. 

As fans of Marvel Comics will know, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the children of Magneto. This is interesting as Quicksilver was recently portrayed by Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I am curious to see if Aaron proves to be a better impersonator than Peters, whose turn I enjoyed very much.

It seems that Tony Stark has created a robot that goes against his maker and it is upto The Avengers to stop it. We can also see The Hulkbuster in action. Thor also manhandles Stark in the trailer.

I have read on the web that Iron Man will be the main antagonist in Captain America 3, which is reportedly based on the popular Marvel Comics storyline, “Civil War”. In that story, Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on the opposite sides of a Superhero Registration Act. The trailer strongly indicates to these turn of events.

Tony Stark also speaks the line: This is the end... The end of the path I started...” and Natasha replies: Nothing lasts forever”.

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Robert Downey Jr. has been earning hefty paychecks and it is not much of a stretch to imagine that Marvel Studios would like to cut down on their expenses. This probably explains why Chris Evans is featured more prominently than Robert Downey Jr. in the trailer. 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode # 2 "Massacres and Matinees" - Recap and Review

Sarah Paulson as Bette and Dot Tattler the Siamese twin sisters in American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees
As readers might remember, at the end of the last episode, Detective Bunch (Dane Rhodes) tried to arrest the Siamese twin sisters, Dot and Bette Tattler (Sarah Paulson). He is killed by Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) and the rest of the group help Jimmy to bury the body.

Bunch's disappearance does not go unnoticed and compounded wit the series of murders , a curfew is imposed. Local cops check with Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), since Bunch's last known assignment should have ostensibly led him there.

Concerned by this official scrutiny, Jimmy accompanied with Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) exhume Bunch's corpse.Amazon retrieves the cop's badge and gives it to Jimmy.

Michael Chiklis as strongman Wendell Dell Toledo with Angela Bassett as triple breasted Desiree Dupree in American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees

Strongman Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and triple breast hermaphrodite Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) are the latest recruits. Dell is a figure from Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates)'s past, having fathered Jimmy Darling.

Dell has just killed someone in Chicago and is desperate to join the group. His physical skills and no-nonsense attitude convince Elsa to make him in change of the security.

Dell proposes to introduce matinee shows, due to the curfew. Despite Elsa's objection, he goes ahead and starts to post  advertisements.

The idealistic Jimmy  tries to get local people familiarized with his friends, in the hope that the town will accept them as one of their own. He takes them to the local diner. The patrons and the diner employees are not comfortable with their presence and quarrel ensues.

Michael Chiklis and Evan Peters as strongman Dell Toledo and Jimmy Darling in American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees

Dell observes these developments and orders  the group to leave the diner. He drags jimmy out and roughs him up. He reprimands Jimmy for exposing the group to the town folks, as it would eliminate their curiosity and would impact the ticket sales.

The infuriated Jimmy complains to Elsa and exploits her thirst for fame to get rid of Dell. Jimmy plots to have him arrested for the murder of the local cop, by hiding the cop's batch in Dell's trailer. The shrewd strongman turns the tables on Jimmy by incriminating Meep (Ben Woolf) instead. 

The cops take Meep into custody and the same night return his corpse in a body bag.

Jessica Lange as Elsa Mars in American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees

In the meantime, the matinee show happens on schedule as Dell had planned. Dot's singing talent proves to be a hit with the audience, much to the chagrin of Elsa. To get even, Elsa visits the sisters in their tent at night time and tries to turn Bette against Dot.

There are two other secondary storylines in the show and both came together nicely to promise a exciting new thread in the future episodes.

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As seen in the previous episode, rich socialite Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy) and her son Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) tried to purchase the Tattler sisters and failed.

Dandy is one really bored chap. Even the delicious looking Escargot, prepared by their cook, Nora (Patti LaBelle) does not excite him. To get some much needed excitement, Dandy kills the neighbor's cat and dismembers it.

Frances Conroy as Gloria Mott the socialite in American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees

His real intention is to become a thespian. In desperation, he tries to convince Jimmy to join the group. Jimmy turns him down.

Gloria is driving along, when she notices Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) walking along. Twist has been busy himself and has added two more murders to his collection - a toy store owner, Mr. Hainey (Tony Bentley) and his employee.

Gloria enlists Twisty's help to make Dandy happy. Twisty attacks Dandy and returns to his hideout in the woods. His hostages, Bonnie Lipton (Skyler Samuels) and Corey Bachman (Major Dodson) make an escape attempt.

Bonnie runs into Dandy, who has followed Twisty all the way from his house. Instead of saving her, Dandy takes her back to Twisty and advises him to make better restraints for his captives.

Michael Chiklis as Dell Toledo the strongman of the Freak Show in American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode 2 Massacres and Matinees

The show continues its strong run in the second episode. The acting talents are enhanced by the latest additions -  Michael Chiklis and Angela Bassett. The returning actors are excellent as well.

I personally liked Peter Evans, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange. Each is effective in their roles - Evans as the high minded Jimmy, Sarah as the talented & independent minded Dot and not-so-talented & naive Bette, and Lange as the attention craving and jealous Elsa.

As the story moves forward, each actor gets to display their acting chops as their characters face the consequences of their actions. Jimmy is heartbroken to see Meep's dead body as a result of his own scheme to dispose of Dell. Elsa has to come to terms with the rising popularity of Dot among the group and the ticket paying customers.

Fraulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities Freak Show American Horror Story Season 4 circus carnival tent entrance wallpaper photo image screensaver

I also liked the clear contrast between Dell and Jimmy. While Dell is purely motivated by his greed to make money, without any concern about the impact of his actions on the concerned people. Jimmy is more of an idealist and wants his group to be accepted as part of the human society. Both actors deserve credit for bringing out these aspects of their characters well.

The production values are top notch and the recreation of the 1950s has been done with taste and dedication. The sets, the costumes, the props - all combine to create a classic period feel to the happenings onscreen.The music adds to the eerie atmosphere.

Kudos to the cast and crew for delivering such an engrossing episode.

A must watch for fans of Horror.

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Image Sources: Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, FX Network

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