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Archive for September 22nd, 2009

I spend more time in the fandom of this show than I do for any other.  I also admit that in a perfect world, I’d be writing it and the Leonard-Penny relationship would have never been an issue. 

But I don’t write it. I’m also not a fanfic writer or even much of a fanfic fan ( though I’ve read some doozies in my life for various fandoms). But I am a WRITER, so even if I might prefer Penny showing Sheldon the ways of the world, it’s not my place to question the writers of this show about their choice. After all, it annoys me when a world I have crafted so meticulously over time gets ripped by a vocal group of fans without knowing what the ultimate endgame is. While I believe I know what the endgame for this show is, I really don’t have a clue. Plus, Chuck Lorre surprises me more than most sitcom writers.

The guys have returned from the arctic looking like wooly mammoths ( except Sheldon, who looks like Evil Spock from ” Mirror Mirror”). They settle in at home, and Leonard goes to tell Penny he’s home. Broken sitcom convention # 1: Normally, there would be some give and take, with the couple’s kiss coming towards the end of the episode ( see: Ross and Rachel, Friends, ” The One Where Ross Finds Out”). These writers have Penny and Leonard making out before the credits.

Turns out, Sheldon believes he has proven String Theory at the North Pole. Also turns out that his comrades have fudged the results to make him happy ( seriously, Sheldon in close quarters for three months? I’m in love with Sheldon, fer chissakes, but I would have gone along with the sled dog plan myself). This has Sheldon confronting the very happy at the moment Leonard, who admits to it quickly, and also admits to the plots they came up with to murder Sheldon ( really did like the idea of tying someone to four different sled dog teams and yelling mush). Heartbroken, Sheldon retreats to his room, where Penny attempts to cheer him up by first singing ” Soft Kitty” ( ” I’m not sick.” ” I don’t know what your sad song is.” ” I don’t have a sad song, I’m not a child!”), then trying to relate a story about losing out her spot as head cheerleader. She also manages to spoil a bit of Star Trek, which causes Sheldon to cry even harder.

After suffering the humiliation of informing the Physics department that he did not, in fact, prove string theory, Sheldon is mocked by Kripke at work- twice. Devastated, Sheldon resigns and takes off to Texas, where Mom is. Penny insists that Leonard goes and bring him home ( all S/P shippers together- awwwwww). It doesn’t take much- Mary Cooper just insists that evolution is an opinion, which sends atheistic Sheldon into a tizzy, and he heads home, where this will promptly be forgotten by next week.

The show ends with Leonard and Penny in bed together, where, let’s face it, it’s really weird.

Jim Parsons can do no wrong. The show always works best when Sheldon is the center of the episode and we are forced, along with the rest of the cast, to try and balance Sheldon’s unique world view with the structure of ” normal” society. This took it one step further. Sheldon is a character very much in control at all times, and it was fun to see him breakdown a bit. Everyone has their breaking points. We just discovered Sheldon’s.

As for the other story, Leonard and Penny- I’m curious to see where this is going to go, I admit it. I want to see how this idea, so unpopular with a segment of the show’s fandom, plays out. I know a lot of people complain of the lack of chemistry between Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, especially since the chemistry between Parsons and Cuoco is electrifying. But I find they do have chemistry together. I enjoy their scenes together. I find their chemistry quieter, less intrusive than non-existant. It’s atypical of the sitcom standard to put the less explosive couple together.  The fangirl in me may be disappointed, but the writer in me is curious to see what the writing team has in store for us.

Grade- A-

PS- I could handle a spinoff of just Sheldon’s mom. Laurie Metcalf is a genius.

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The talk sucks.

This little nugget from Barney explains the relationship talk so well, don’t you think?

See, Barney and Robin’s kiss at the end of last season caused Lily to a have a ” woo” moment, but they played it off as neither of them really wanting to take it forward. Except they have sex all summer long. That info makes Lily crazy, and she begins to pressure them into having ” the talk”. Robin insists they’ve tried to have ” the talk”, but neither of them likes “the talk” , so whatever. Why do they have to define it? Lily can think of one reason- you don’t end up going to a hockey game with built like a Mack truck Brad ( ” Wow, there are really six of them…” Robin exclaims after seeing his six pack) and having Barney going to the game to punch Brad in the face. So Lily tries the next logical step- lock them in a room until they have ” the talk”. And when push comes to shove, they decide to lie. Except the only people they’re lying to is themselves. Barney and Robin are a couple. Just don’t tell them that.

The other story, Ted, starting his new job at Columbia as an adjunct professor ( ” P-R-O-F-… F?”) gives us a schizoid douche Ted, as he changes his mind about what kind of professor he is going to be thirty times in ten seconds ( “You can call me Ted. Professor Mosby. T-Dog. Don’t call me T-Dog”). Turns out his ” class” is really Economics 305.  But as we know, the mother is somewhere in that Economics 305 class.

The show was uneven all through its fourth season, with some really great moments in between totally suck ass moments. This episode is a smashing return to form. It plays with the concept of relationships needing specific labels while admitting that the labels help the rest of the world know what you are. The show, for all it’s comedic brilliance, has been one of the best examples of the masks we place on everyday to impress a society that judges. Barney and Robin refuse to label their relationship for themselves out of fear and past mistakes, but in their own way label themselves as the iconoclasts they pretend to be. Lily’s obsession over the Barney and robin dynamic fits with Lily’s desire to be perceived as New York Typical ( even her double dating couples fantasy was oddly Americana- camping? Can you see Lily camping?). Even a woefully underused Marshall was complicit- he sees Professor Ted as Indiana Jones, and gets him a fedora and bull whip. But it’s Ted, so worried as always of what people really think of him, that learns a lesson. Late for his class, he doesn’t have time to think about a persona. He just talks about architecture.

Grade: B+

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I was one of those people last year who was on the fence about Fringe. I found the first half of the season unbearably slow and antiseptic. That all changed as the season went on, and the last two episodes sealed it for me. I even placed the series on my One Hundred Greatest Television Series list. So I was eager to see what the season premiere would hand us.

What it handed us was a wallop of emotionally charged story telling with a dose of “Ohmigod did they just do that?” horror.

It turns out that this show is a worthy successor to my beloved and late X-Files.

We start with the piercing sound of metal on metal, and then a guy staggering out of a car crash, bleeding from a head wound. He runs off as a crowd gathers. He gets access to an apartment building and promptly kills a man. He then takes out a contraption that seems  to plug into the soft palette of the mouth, causing shape shifting. He takes on a new body, leaving the old one on the floor. Then he leaves.

Meanwhile, Peter and Walter are having one of their cute moments at a grocery store. It’s Peter’s birthday on Friday, and Walter has it in his head that Peter needs a birthday custard. Peter insists he hates custard. Walter, in his permanent state of self loathing psychosis, neglects to register this. Seems alternate universe Peter adored custard. This world’s Peter just wants to get the hell out of the grocery store. He gets his wish with a phone call.

This is where we meet Agent Jessop. She’s been assigned to find out about the car crash. Seems the shapeshifter  has crashed into a FBI issued SUV. Peter arrives with Walter, angry and panicked. Jessop tries to get some answers about Peter’s relationship to the FBI, but Peter is having none of it. The SUV belongs to Olivia, who is nowhere to be found. Jessop and Peter argue about what she needs to know ( apparently, nothing, it’s classified) while Walter fiddles with the SUV. Suddenly, Olivia crashes through the windshield, unconscious and bleeding.

This all happens before the title card.

Olivia is rushed to hospital, clinging to life, Peter and Walter on her tail. the doctors inform our beloved Bishops that Olivia won’t make it. Walter refuses to believe this information, and we get a beautiful scene of Walter, helplessly and lovingly standing over a shattered Olivia, with Peter mournfully observing through a window.

 Jessop heads off to FBI headquarters, where Broyles confronts her. It’s a routine accident, and she is ordered to sign off on the report. Broyles then crashes Peter’s pity party, and informs him that he is off to Washington. seems that the government wants to shut down Fringe division. Peter himself then questions the existence of Fringe. We then see Jessop at a computer, trying to get into the Fringe files. She uses a stolen password to get access.

Rachel ( the fabulous Ali Graynor) shows up to execute her sister’s living will, and she tells Peter to say good bye. Peter does so, only to be shocked by Olivia suddenly waking and speaking in greek. She cannot recall anything that happened to her, but knows instinctively that she is in danger and begs Peter for her gun.

Peter returns to FBI Boston to discover that his credentials have been revoked. Jessop then rescues him, taking him with her. She gives him the file on the accident, but expects answers about FRinge. Peter tells her that they do nothing. Jessop is going after a guy she believes is involved with the accident, but discovers a dead body. Peter calls in Walter, who gets into it with an M.E. Jessop gives him the body to take to his lab.

A new guy walks into a shop. He asks the man at the counter for a Selectric 251. He is informed it never existed. The new guy insists. The counter dude tells him it’s been six years, and he won’t be waiting forever.  The new guy sits at the typewriter and types in that he has finished his mission and asking for extraction. Then, in a mirror, he sees his answer. His mission is not over. Finish it. And kill her.

Charlie shows up, and gives Olivia a story about his days as a police officer in which he was shot and hospitalized in the line of duty. He also tells her that she now has a gun under her pillow. Olivia finally admits being afraid, and that she cannot load her gun.

Walter has Astrid making custard as he performs an autopsy on this mangled body. Turns out our dead guy was a victim to a shape shifter.  He then shows Jessop and Peter a video of experiments he and William Bell did on a girl a while ago. They were trying to make her see God. They got a tale of the shape shifting mercenary.

Broyles in front of the senate is a hoot. He refuses to be talked down to by Senators who know jack about what he does, and tells them that he has spent his whole life protecting them from fears both common and strange. Unimpressed, they pull Fringe Divisions funding. Broyles meets Nina outside, where she tells him to save the day. And they kiss ( nearly died at the kiss).

Jessop and Peter are called into a mortuary with a body matching wounds that Astrid has red flagged. Jessop informs him that her father was a soldier and that he was adamant that he always finish his mission. Peter then clicks on the fact that the shape shifter’s mission was Olivia, and he flies out of there like a bat out of hell.

The shape shifter, though, has now taken over Olivia’s nurse, and is asking leading questions to Olivia, who really cannot remember a thing about the accident or anything else from that time. Disappointed in getting no new information, the shape shifter attacks Olivia. Jessop arrives and shoots the shapeshifter, who takes off through a window. Peter, Jessop, and Charlie all head to the hospital’s underbelly. The shapeshifter gets behind Charlie, who shoots. Jessop and Peter both run to where Charlie is, and he’s standing over the dead body of the nurse, broken contraption beside them.

After a nice Olivia and Peter moment in which Peter brings her flowers and they talk, Peter hand Broyles the shape shifter gadget, and tells him to use that to save Fringe’s funding. Our last moment is Charlie in the hospital basement. He’s lugging something to the incinerator. Turns out- it’s Charlie. Charlie is no longer Charlie, it’s the shape shifter.

Overall, a thrilling, quick, tight episode. I’m still unsure about our new agent, Jessop. She’s shown with a bible at the end. Is she looking for something to confirm end of days? Our regular cast is in good form, and the story is now taking real shape. I’m not much for mythology shows, but I’m totally getting wrapped up in this one.

Grade- A

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