NBC’s The Blacklist: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

NBC’s action crime drama thriller has been met with a lot of critical praise and was one of the first renewals of the 2013-2014 television season.  I have yet to cover the show, though I do have a lot to say about it.  So I just decided to do one big post like I’ve previously done with other shows. 

PROS

  • JAMES SPADER

James Spader does some excellent work here, and gets a lot to work with in terms of acting due to the shows Spy aspect.  James Spader is an excellent leading actor and remains the most consistently wonderful aspect of the show. 

  • THE CAST IN GENERAL

The casting for this series is really inspired and has a lot of “Oh hey that’s ______ from _____”.  The main cast is filled with a lot of talent, and the guest actors are also really well casted(to name a few of the guest actors we have David Zayas from “Dexter”, Justin Kirk from “Weeds”, and next week Lance Reddick from “Fringe” and recently “American Horror Story”).  The shows also recently added Rachel from “House of Cards”(UPDATE ON HoC REVIEW:  I’m working on a Season Two review which should by up by the end of the week.  Maybe, I’ve often made review promises I’ve had trouble keeping so don’t quote me on that) and Skinny Pete from “Breaking Bad”.

  • SOME GREAT IDEAS AND SOME GOOD EPISODES

The show has some really nice ideas, and there have been some pretty good episodes.

  • MUSIC

This show has some excellent musical choices,

    CONS

  • LACK OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Despite the show having some great casting decisions, outside of Red and Lizzie none of the characters have really done anything.  There’s no real emotional attachment to any of them.  Harry Lennix’s character really serves no purpose aside from always telling Red that if he messes up that he’ll go to prison every single episode.  There just really aren’t any interesting characters aside from Red and Lizzie, those are really the only two characters I can name.  The show needs to give us more of the side characters if they really expect us to care about them.

  • SO MUCH REPETITION

Let’s write an episode of the Blacklist, together now…

    STEP ONE:  Lizzie’s husband has planned a trip/date night for the two of them.

     STEP TWO:  Flash to show bad guy doing bad stuff.

     STEP THREE:  Lizzie get’s called in by the FBI for a mission, can’t go on date, her husband gets mad.

     STEP FOUR:  Red informs them of the bad guy but makes sure not to tell them too much.

      STEP FIVE:  Red is threatened by Harry Lennix.

     STEP SIX:   Cue Lizzie and Red going undercover.

     STEP SEVEN:  Plot thickens, bad guy realizes something’s up.

     STEP EIGHT:   Ermahgerd they’re all going to die, LOL not really Red saves them.

     STEP NINE:  Red reveals something to Lizzie and Lizzie alone.

     STEP TEN:  Lizzie’s husband’s sad, Lizzie ponders something, Mike from Homeland does stuff, and Red acts cool.  All while really catchy music plays in the background. 

It’s just like the same episode every week with minor changes. 

  • RED’S HER DAD…NO UNCLE..NO MOTHER…NO HE’S HER CHILDHOOD PET…NO HE’S HER SLED FROM WHEN SHE WAS A KID!

The whole “How is Red related to her?” has been drawn out so long, I honestly just don’t care anymore.  Nothing they do will really be that surprising unless she’s failed female attempt at cloning himself which would be pretty awesome and weird.  There’s this whole government conspiracy which I’ll admit isn’t that new and inventive but it’s much more compelling than this storyline.

  • TEN EPISODES, AND TWENTY TWO VILLAIN OF THE WEEK EPISODES TOO MANY

This series premise works best as a short 12-15 at the most episode season with fewer Villain of the week episodes.  The story’s got a lot of potential, the pilot was brilliant and some of the early episodes were really entertaining.  However there’s just so much boring filler that it’s just kind of made it easier to switch over to “Archer” for the first thirty minutes.

 

OVERALL

The series is one with a lot of potential, an excellent cast, and there have been some really fun episodes.  However the boring filler episodes far outweigh the fun spy episodes.  The show needs to get it’s priorities straight and stop having so many “Super cool bad guy guest stars and everything changes…but not really” episodes. 

ORIGINAL GRADE:  +C 76%

ACTING EXTRA CREDIT POINTS:  4

FINAL GRADE(WITH EXTRA CREDIT):  B- 80%

 

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The Following “Fly Away” MAJOR SPOILERS/REVIEW: SPOILER ALERT This Episode is Hard(l)y Even Trying to Be Good

MAJOR SPOILERS…

This season has been less of a hate watch more of a torture watch, seriously the show has gone from stupid guilty pleasure to straight up hard to watch horrible.  This episode is however fun in the fact it’s completely shamelessly awful, and actually makes things a bit more fun to watch.  This episode perfectly embodies all of the reason “The Following” has failed to be ambitious network television attempt at trying to do a cable television type series. 

Funnily enough “The Following” yet again tears a page out of the “Dexter” season eight handbook with pretty blonde serial killer tries to tempt her grumpy serial killer lover into leaving to go to South America with her.  I found this incredibly amusing, first serial killer turned lumber jack now he’s got false hopes of running away with his blonde serial killing girlfriend to a South American country!  “Dexter” Season Eight isn’t just a season, it’s a state of mind.

The Venezuelan escape plan leads to some of the most amusing scenes in the shows history with dead prostitute’s serial killer in training daughter Mandy.  The writers really aren’t trying with this one, are they?  Here’s a paraphrasing of one of my favorite scenes from the episode…

LILLY:  Oh hey Mandy.

MANDY:  Hi Lilly.  Have you talked to Joe? 

LILLY:  No, why?

MANDY:  He might not want to go to Venezuela.  I do want to go, I like you people.  Can I go?

LILLY:  Yes sweetie you can go, you’re family now.

MANDY:  You should talk to Joe.

This is literally how the scene plays out, there are several other scenes with her in this episode that are quite similar to this one.  I was like did a real human being actually write this?  Did someone actually sit down at the computer and write this scene, and if so were they writing this scene with the intention that it would be hilariously bad due to the show’s reputation?  I really feel bad for the actress because she seems to be genuinely talented, but this character is perhaps one of the most hilariously badly written characters on the show(SPOILER ALERT:  She doesn’t go to Venezuela even though she very much wanted too, no real explanation she just leaves with Joe and Emma, poor Mandy).

Now out of absolutely nowhere Mike has decided to go crazy while Ryan is the “Woah, dude you shouldn’t do that” guy.  This absolutely ridiculous, like where did this come from?  The whole point of the season so far has been that Ryan’s going crazy and Mike’s trying to get him to stop and start thinking rationally.  Now this episode he goes and starts shooting and beating serial killers to a bloody and almost dead pulp, seriously guys this has to be a joke!

“You want to know makes me squirm, you dead and me doing it to you”

                                                                    -Mark(Creepy Twin #1)

Jesus Christ, this is not a joke.  This is an actual line of dialogue from the episode, word for word, yes the phrase “doing it” is used and yes it is used in that context of the word.  AHHHHHHHHHHH!  This has to be a joke, c’mon this show has to be trolling us!  There’s also casual usage of necrophilia in actual episode(what fun! NOTE THIS IS SARCASM).  Luckily Mark-y Mark gets his comeuppance by the episodes end when he gets shot and has his face beaten up.  He might even die(probably not), I was actually going to give the show some props if they had actually killed him off, but they didn’t. 

I have a question, what was the point of killing off Debra last season?  I mean they replaced her character with an actress that looks just like her, and has the same basic function.  I like Valerie Cruz, but this character is 100% useless when they had a character that served the exact same purpose last season.  

The episode had been leading up to the possibility of Joe maybe dying, and if they had done it I would have been really happy with the show.  Of course he manages to get away at the last second through his mole in the FBI(Fake Debra’s wife, who says the evil lesbian trope is dead?).  I mean are they f*cking kidding me, this is why people are so pissed off by this show!  That sequence with the FBI arriving was f*cking epic and they just kill it with “Oh he got a call and left, oh wow that guy that’s face has been plastered all over the f*cking news?  Wow I didn’t notice the resemblance.”.  So, so, so stupid. 

The acting is pretty good though.  The story itself is clusterf*ck and pretty laughable, but at least it’s well acted.  This episode felt like I was getting my brain stampeded over by a group of bulls.  Overall, this episode has entertainment value.  That’s really all I can continue to write without going insane. 

GRADE:  Um…This episode was funny to watch, and uh yeah.  Let’s be generous and just give it a C for Classic Poe.

 

 

The Walking Dead(Comic Book): Is “All Out War” the Epic Thrill Ride We Were Promised Or Is It an All Out Snore?

MAJOR SPOILERS…

Hey it’s a comic book related post, so no one can say I don’t make good on my promises(even if it is several months after I make them).  I know there are a good amount of people unsatisfied with the current status of the “Walking Dead” comics as they’re getting maybe a tad bit ridiculous(but I mean really it’s a book about zombies where at one point an eye patch wearing serial killer in an army tank attacked a group of people living in a prison, so yeah), but I’ve got to say I haven’t been having the same issue.  Is the book the best thing ever?  No, but it’s still been a hell of a lot of fun to read.  Having just recently caught up on “All Out War” as we’ve now reached the mid-point, I have a lot of thoughts about it.  Some of them good, some of them…not so good.  So read on!

PROS

  • HOLLY’S BACK(AS A ZOMBIE)

It’d be a fucking crime if I didn’t mention the Holly scene.  I mean wow, that was brilliant.  For those who have scrolled on having not read the recent issues but want to know the full extent of the scene it goes like this:  Holly got kidnapped a few issues back by Negan who mistook her for Andrea, last we saw her she was totally fine(you know aside from the whole being kidnapped by a group of psycho creeps).  So Negan decides he wishes to talk to Rick, and is using Holly as a bartering chip to do so.  Rick agrees to talk and Negan sends her over, she’s got a bag over her head and she’s got her throat all tied up.  So the good doctor Denise takes off the mask, BAM Holly’s a zombie, BAM Denise get’s bitten, BAM the Alexandria Safe Zone gets bombarded with explosives.  This scene should go down as the scene that defines the phrase “Well that escalated quickly”. 

  •  NE-F*CKING-GAN

Negan, Negan, Negan, oh what a lovely character.  Negan, despite his murderous tendencies, is such a fun character.  Never since Debra Morgan have I seen such a creative cusser.  One of the things I love about Negan is how he reacts to some of his followers.  His face when that one guy tries to emulate him by saying how hard he gets from all the murder and death, killing the guy that was going to rape Holly, and all of his interactions with his bat/occasional lover Lucille are just gold.  Negan may be a bad dude but he has some morals, he may be a larger than life super villain but he shows signs of humanity.  I really hope he survives “All Out War” or at least that Lucille get’s a new owner. 

  • MAGGIE GREEN WAR MACHINE

Maggie becoming leader of the Hill Top is awesome.  It’s nice to see a female in charge, Maggie’s the best.  Let’s just hope she doesn’t get killed and that she and Sophia can have some happiness once this whole thing ends.

  • CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

We’ve got to see a lot of side characters get some more focus in this story.  Heath(poor Heath lost a leg and his girlfriend all in the same day), Holly(albeit short lived), Eugene seems to be getting some(hopefully after all this he and Rosita can finally get together), and Aaron(now it seems he’s the only gay man left on Earth with poor Eric dead).  It’s nice to see some of the side characters get some development, and hopefully most of them will survive.  I hope to see more of the supporting characters in the future. 

  • EZEKIEL & JESUS

Jesus man, and Ezekiel.  How cool would it be if Ezekiel, Jesus, and Michonne all became a team and just kicked the shit out of some zombies together, and they could bring Shiva back too(because why not?).  I honestly feel like Jesus and Michonne would be a better pairing though as both are just straight up badass thugs.  Though the thing I like about Ezekiel is that isn’t all badass, he’s got heart, and he’s a bit of a scaredy cat.  Hopefully he fairs better than Michonne’s other lovers(Tyreese, Morgan, her zombie boyfriend). 

            CONS

  • HEY ISN’T THIS LIKE…

The exact same thing that already happened with the Governor.  I mean sure there are a lot of differences but it all feels too similar.  This feels too much like it’s “Made 2 Suffer:  Electric Zombie Boogaloo”. 

  • SURPRISE DEAHTS NOT SO SURPRISING

There haven’t been any major deaths so far(I wouldn’t call Denise’s death or Holly’s that surprising from a character perspective), but I feel like we’ve all kind of grown numb to death.  I mean I feel like unless they kill off Rick no death will surprise me.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by Glenn’s death, but if Maggie, Andrea, or even Carl died I wouldn’t be all that surprised. 

  • LOTS OF FLASH, NOT A WHOLE LOT OF SHOCK

There’s been a lot of pretty explosions and fighting but I can’t say anything all that important has happened, of course we’re only half way through the story. 

         OVERALL

In spite of some flaws I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed AOW, could it be better?  Yes, it hasn’t exactly lived up to the epic buildup.  However I’m excited to see what all this could lead too. 

GRADE:  B 85%

House of Cards 2×02 “Chapter Fifteen” Review/MAJOR SPOILERS

MAJOR SPOILERS…

Zoe Barnes is dead, long liv….NOPE!  Zoe Barnes is dead, as is any chance she had at taking down Underwood, though you might not want to tell Lucas that.  House of Card’s second hour deals heavily with ramifications of Zoe’s death, while also sheading more light on new characters like Jackie(played by Molly Parker of “Dexter” and “Deadwood”).  So how does “Chapter Fifteen” compare to the excellent(perhaps even one of the best season openers I’ve ever seen) season opener?  Quite nicely actually.

The character of Jackie compliments the show quite well I must say, and is certainly gearing up to be one of my favorites.  Parker portrays a ruthless politician but does it while making the character extremely likable and very sympathetic.  In the hands of a lesser actress the character could be a 2-dimensional cold blooded business woman with no time for emotions, but Parker’s performance elevates her beyond that and as a result has made her one of my favorite characters.

Oh our poor little Lucas, things our not going good for him.  Just in case you had any doubts about the finality of Ms. Barnes demise, we get to re-witness it multiple times via security footage in this installment.  While Lucas doesn’t necessarily serve as a threatening enemy to the Underwoods, the actor does an amazing job of portraying such a broken down character.  “It couldn’t have been an accident” was a such a heartbreaking line, and he did an excellent job of delivering it.  While Lucas may not be as compelling an antagonist as Zoe, it’s nice to see a broken down puppy dog antagonist every once in a while(possibly the strangest sentence I’ve ever typed). 

Wright and Spacy continue to deliver excellent performances.  I’ve noticed that Stamper’s role this season has been extremely insignificant(I’m currently on episode seven and while it’s gotten a bit more important it’s still very meh.  I feel like there’s an interesting character arc somewhere in Doug Stamper just waiting to be unleashed).  Though Rachel(hot ex-prostitute involved in the relapse of Peter Russo) gives the show some nice visuals at least. 

Overall, this was a very good episode and a nice little breather from the last episode.  I’m going to just skip to Episode Seventeen for my next review(2×04) because I completely forgot what happened in Episode Three.

GRADE:  A- 93%

House of Cards Season Two Premiere: “Chapter Fourteen” Review/MAJOR SPOILERS

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW…

Holy f*cking shit.  What a fantastic episode, “House of Cards” is back and with it’s best episode yet.  “Chapter Fourteen” is a superb hour of television, and possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen.  “House of Cards” has had it’s problems, the middle part of Season One in particular, but it ended so great I was incredibly excited for it’s return.  It didn’t disappoint, instead it delivered one of it’s best episodes. 

 

“Chapter Fourteen” delivers various shocks and twist in an organic and exciting way.  To start let’s address the elephant in the room, the sudden and shocking death of Zoe Barnes(played by Kate Mara).  I can’t say I didn’t expect Zoe to bite the bullet this season, but this soon in the season premiere of all episodes.  I love Kate Mara, and Zoe’s character was excellent, but her death has to go down as one of the most surprising and exhilarating moments in all of television.  Knowing now how the scene ends now, makes the scene all the more brilliant.  Frank asking her to delete the messages and contact information is given more meaning.  Zoe may not have been perfect, but in the world of D.C. she was practically a damn saint, and Francis killing her solidifies his place as a monster.

 

The scenes with Claire are always fantastic, but Robin Wright’s performance in this episode is absolutely superb.  It’s all of the subtleties in Wright’s performance that makes her shine, the scene where she see’s the news report reporting Zoe’s death in particular was a standout scene.  There’s always been this whole debate I’ve had with myself as to whether or not Claire knows about the full extent of Francis’s actions(murdering Peter Russo for example), and this scene doesn’t so much confirm it but her behavior regarding the news definitely seems to suggest it.  Also her scenes with Gillian were also amazing. 

 

This season seems to be going down a route similar to the second seasons of “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad” in that it’s protagonist(the oh so sketchy Frank Underwood) is having the walls begin to close in on him.  While everything seems alright now for Frank, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the season’s end Lucas makes some shocking discoveries.  If I’m correct and HoC goes down that same route this is certain to be one hell of a thrill ride.

 

Overall, this was a stunning premiere.  Without a doubt the best episode of House of Cards yet.  I’m hoping to review all of the episodes one by one this year.  Right now I’m watching episode two, so by tomorrow Chapter Fifteen’s review will be up.

Parks and Recreation “Chris and Ann” REVIEW/MAJOR SPOILERS

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

Breakfast doesn’t fix everything, most things yes, but there do exist things that cannot be fixed by a delicious place of syrupy pancake goodness.  Thing’s like the departure of our sweet perfect little innocent sophisticated baby Ann, and y’know Chris, but mostly Ann.  Our sweet little Ann is leaving Pawnee, and if you think that she’s going to just get a few hugs and a cake and be right on her merry way, well there’s only one thing I got to say:  KNOPE!

This episode was a beautiful swan song for Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe’s characters.  This episode absolutely blew Community’s farewell to Troy out of the water.  The episode brought back some old faces to help say goodbye to Leslie’s beautiful sunflower Anne, and it was all quite majestic, the episode showed us all why we love the Leslie/Ann dynamic. I know a lot of people find Ann the least funny of the group, but isn’t that kind of the point? She’s around all these people with such dynamic personalities, and she’s always been the voice of reason, the show’s straight woman. Her and Leslie just compliment each other so beautifully.

The farewells were just superbly written. From Larry’s heartfelt advice which went pretty much unnoticed, to Ron’s “I enjoyed some of our time together”, and of course we couldn’t not mention April’s terrific scene with Ann. While the April/Ann scene may have felt a tad bit forced, I still absolutely loved it. It was just so nice to see the two finally sort of hash it out a bit(in a non confrontational way), and reveal their true feelings for each other. Also quick “Hey Ann, we used to date” goodbye was perfect for his character, I may give Andy a bit of shit sometimes(it’s not that I don’t like him, it’s just I find him the least entertaining of the group, and preferred April single) but this was a great moment.

The only real problem for me was the getting gifts for Chris storyline, it fell a bit flat and was dragged out a bit too long. The rest of the episode was amazing. Leslie’s party, her going back to her promise to Ann in the first episode, the familiar faces(though I was hoping for a Mark Brandanowitz cameo somewhere in there), and the final scenes between Ann and Leslie. The two sitting over the “pit”/park(in homage to the Season One finale, as well as the Season Two finale with Mark leaving) was super sweet, and then the final goodbye was just heartbreakingly amazing. This is how you send off a character. Absolutely perfect. Now I want some pancakes.
GRADE: A 95%
+Everything
——————–
-The Chris gift storyline was weak.