26 December, 2013

My Top 3 Movies of 2013


I really wanted to do a top 10 list but this was a shitty year for movies, in general. And four or five of the movies that may end up as Oscar contenders have yet to be seen by yours truly. So, instead of forcing some kind-of-good movies onto a list of 10, I'm going with the three I think are superb representations of their genre.

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23 December, 2013

The 2013 'Most Beautiful Woman in the World' Tournament


[Editor's Note: BuzzFeed is going to be pissed they didn't think of this first --HGF]

There is no longer room on the Internet for another year-ending Top 10 list. (I'm just so glad I went through nine slideshow photos to discover that your best show of the year was 'Breaking Bad'.) I see these lists all over the Internet for all types of things: books, TV shows, movies, sports moments, etc. But for some reason the most important thing of 2013 is continuously overlooked.

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22 November, 2013

The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 4.16: 'Trompe le Monde' & S4


“And the worst part is?  You’ll never be able to look at yourself the same way again.  You’ll know that you killed for malice.  And that changes you.” - Lena Smith, to Annie, at the end of “Let’s Dance”. 

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16 November, 2013

Review - WHITE COLLAR 5.5: 'Master Plan'


With my new massive Weekly Spew column taking up the majority of my time, expect shorter and shorter 'White Collar' reviews.

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14 November, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.15: 'There Goes My Gun'


So wait … what is Annie’s new plan now then??  What is she planning on doing now that she’s let herself get captured by Henry ... just sweet talk him into coming back to the U.S. so they can prosecute him?  I suppose we’re not supposed to understand it till next week.

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10 November, 2013

Eli's Weekly Spew: November 3-8, 2013


Welcome back to my horrendously long and time-wasting weekly column where I display to the whole world how much of a Hermit I am. I mean, seriously, how lame do you have to be to watch all this TV, write about all of it, and not get paid a dime?

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08 November, 2013

Review - WHITE COLLAR 5.4: 'Controlling Interest'


Normally I don't let anything slide. I criticize, nitpick and critique, lamenting that the episode in question was either terrible or good -- just not as good as it should have been.

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The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.14: 'River Euphrates'


"COME on, THINK!!!" - Calder, to Auggie.  Truer words have not been spoken, for maybe this entire season of Covert Affairs thus far.  And it applies to essentially every character on the show, save for Barber and Rossabi.

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01 November, 2013

Review - WHITE COLLAR 5.3: 'One Last Stakeout'


As much as I absolutely love Neal and Mozzie working together on a con or to steal something, it's starting to get a bit old.

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The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.13: 'No. 13 Baby'


I may have jinxed myself last week when I said I'm still enjoying Covert Affairs more than Homeland.

Never in the entirety of this series did I think I’d ever be yelling at Annie to walk AWAY from Auggie’s door.  But I was tonight.  Emphatically.

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25 October, 2013

Review - WHITE COLLAR 5.2: 'My Man Caffrey'


If only I could have Mozzie's toy monkey pound out this review for me...

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The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.12: 'Something Against You'


You know, this episode was really going pretty damn well until they had to ruin the ending by going out in the very last frame with HELEN.  Current reigning queen of unnecessary and grating TV characters (well, in my world anyway).  I swear I haven't had this visceral a reaction to a TV character's presence on screen since, oh right, well Dana and her stupid boyfriend Baby Dex every Sunday night on Homeland.


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21 October, 2013

Review - WHITE COLLAR 5.1: 'At What Price'


Things going through my head during the first 12 minutes of the Season 5 premiere of WHITE COLLAR...

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17 October, 2013

Twitter Tips: When to Reply, Retweet, and Favorite



The world is full of adventures and wonderment and journeys on which to go, and loot and experience along the way to collect. Those things are complicated enough without having to figure out the proper time to utilize social networking options.

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09 October, 2013

GeekFurious the Podcast - Episode 201: Coming Clear


Vlad and Magnus talk about many topics (this is a very chatty podcast, more like how we talk privately) including Star Wars, fake outrage, writing your own stories, fan fiction, Agents of Shield, Metallica, writing "strong female characters", Chuck, Breaking Bad, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and much more.

This is an extremely long podcast with no edits. Even the things that cause us problems are left in. Only listen if you love listening to us talk or if you have nothing better to do. Or if you are really into hearing two guys talk for hours about how self absorbed people are or how hyper romantics can't let go.

About an hour and forty seven minutes in, we think the podcast isn't being recorded. Fun times. Also, at some point I say that I'm glad I broke the heart of a girl who loved me. I definitely should have cut that part out of the episode. Even though I tried to explain what I meant, it sounded much better in my brain. Wow. I'm an awful human being. -- Magnus

Click play below.


Or RIGHT CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file.



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06 October, 2013

The Baseball Drinking Game!


Do you hate the new fall TV schedule? Are your real football and fantasy football teams in the tank already? Are your kids going off to college, leaving you with no responsibilities? Is your wife leaving you?

While you see these things as a problem, I see them as an opportunity -- an opportunity to watch more baseball and drink more beer. AT THE SAME TIME!

I mean, what's better than that? Who needs  new episodes of How I Met Your Mother or watching your favorite football team either sucking once again (How 'bout dem Cowboys!?) or committing murders (allegedly)?

What you need is the 'Official Baseball Drinking Game', from the beautiful mind that brought you the 'Chuck Drinking Game' and the 'Archer Drinking Game'. While technically you have to be 21+ to play, nobody said that the players in the baseball game have to be. So go crazy at your son's little league game!

On to the rules...

1 SIP OF BEER:

--ERROR: The great thing about this game is that it's fully customizable. You can increase the amount of your drinking based on whether it's a throwing error or a fielding error if you so choose. The official scoring quality in Major League Baseball is so terrible, we may as well drink to it! Usually we drink because we want to numb the pain from our mistakes. Now we'll drink to theirs.

--HIT-BY-PITCH: If someone is plunked in the ribs, you get to feel their pain in your liver!

-INTENTIONAL WALK: If you're a true alcoholic and patriot, you'll take four swigs of beer in honor of the four pitches out wide.

--STOLEN BASE: If you're playing with a friend, steal their beer and take sip from that one instead of your own. You're probably a cheapskate drinking Natty Ice, so you'll enjoy the high-class beer your friend is probably drinking.

--MOUND VISIT BY PITCHING COACH: Drink 3 if the manager makes a mound visit and actually keeps the pitcher in the game. This would have been especially fun if you were playing this drinking game during the Grady Little/Pedro Martinez fiasco in Game 7 the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees.

--STRIKEOUT LOOKING: Think this is excessive? Just be glad that I didn't include all those swinging strikeouts, too -- because if I had, that would be 36,710 sips of beer if you watched all 2,431 games this season. Either way, on average, there are 15.1 strikeouts per game (only of which about 4 are of the looking variety).

--EACH EXTRA INNING: As soon as each full extra inning starts, take a sip. Because maybe the game isn't resolved but one thing sure is: you're hammered. Or, if you happened to be at this game, you probably had to get your stomach pumped and are now deceased.

--PITCHER SPITS: This could be dangerous. It seems unfair to penalize you based on someone else using a different drug, but thems the rules.

--FANS CLAP/CHEER FAN CATCHING FOUL BALL: I hate when fans go crazy because some other fan caught a foul ball. It's not that hard. Especially with a glove or without one if you have any semblance of hand-eye coordination.

--FOUL BALL OFF BATTERS' FOOT: Another foul-ball related thing that angers me. It angers me because it slows the game down as the batter has to hop around and walk it off until the pain subsides. So while you're waiting for the game to resume, enjoy your beer.

--WILD PITCH/PASSED BALL: The pitcher is getting wild, so why shouldn't you? Drink some beer and go crazy! Good thing this drinking game didn't exist during THIS GAME.

2 SIPS OF BEER:

--DOUBLE PLAY: If you want to get real crazy with drinking on double plays, I have a brilliant idea. You know how each fielder has a corresponding number to them when you keep score? Like if there's a groundout to the second baseman, you would score the play 4-3. So if the second baseman starts the double play, take 4 sips. If it's the shortstop, take 6. (third base 5; first base 3; pitcher 1; catcher 2). If an outfielder starts the double play, than prepare to be drunk sooner rather than later.

--GROUND-RULE DOUBLE: Drink 4 if it's because a fan touched the ball. Drink 8 if it's because the ball is stuck in the ivy at Wrigley Field.

--TRIPLE: This should be 3, shouldn't it? Consider only 2 here as a favor. However, if the triple completes a batter getting the cycle, than you have to continue drinking until you pass out and die. So if you witnessed THIS CLASSIC, you are no longer with us. What a great call by the announcer there.

--HOME RUN: Double it to 4 if you think the guy hitting it is NOT on steroids. If the pitcher hits the home run, take a shot. Not that you asked, but here are my three favorite pitcher home runs of all time: 3. Jose Fernandez ... 2. Kerry Wood ... 1. Matt Cain/Cole Hamels

--SACRIFICE BUNT: Because the only explanation for a manager calling for one of these is that THEY ARE DRUNK too.

--4-PITCH WALK: Throw a god-damn strike! No? Fine, I'll drink. Four-pitch walks make me want to hurt someone, but they also make me fondly remember THIS (0:52 till 1:10).

--HITTER BREAKS BAT: Now that Mariano Rivera is retiring, these will be far less frequent. If we get enough, maybe we can make one of THESE. But since we're drunk, it might not come out quite as well.

--CAMERA SHOWS 2 PITCHERS WARMING UP: Double-barrel action in the bullpen equals double-fisted sips of beer. The majority of the time one pitcher be a lefty and one will be a righty -- but if that's not the case, than double it up again and drink 4.

--UMPIRE THROWS BALL TO PITCHER: These rules are just getting more random and ridiculous, aren't they? If this rule gets you mad, just know that it makes Russell Martin 10 times more angry.

--OUTFIELD ASSIST: This rule is sponsored by the great Rick Ankiel (making his second appearance in this drinking game), providing one my all-time favorite single-game accomplishments. Now that it appears Rick Ankiel's career may be over, Yasiel Puig may be the new sponsor.

--SOMBRERO: For you non-baseball nerds, this is when a batter strikes out three times in a game. This is a major problem if you are an Atlanta fan during the playoffs or an Adam Dunn fan anytime he plays baseball (or probably even tee-ball).

--STRIKEOUT ON 3 PITCHES: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night.

--CAUGHT STEALING: Self-explanatory. This is not a joke: if Billy Hamilton is caught stealing, buy a 30 rack and get to work -- you have a lot of drinking to do.

FINISH YOUR BEER:


--STRIKE OUT THE SIDE: It doesn't have to be in order, either. In fact, keep drinking after each following strikeout by that pitcher in the next inning until he gets an out another way.

--HOME-PLATE COLLISION: If the ball actually jars loose, you don't have to drink. If the best catcher on the planet breaks his ankle, you don't have to drink, either. Too soon, Giants fans?

--EJECTION: If the manager continues to throw a tantrum after being ejected, grab another beer and continue chugging until the argument comes to an end. If the announcer says: "he's really getting his money's worth", than you can stop chugging.

--BLOWN SAVE: This would have been a devastating rule to Cubs fans back in the Carlos Marmol era.

--INFIELD-FLY RULE: If you don't know that the rule is, than you aren't a baseball fan. If you are one of those stupid idiots that don't get why this rule exists and think the rule should be abolished, I think you should be abolished to hell where you belong. If your favorite team throws objects onto the field in protest of one of these calls, you are absolved from drinking. Because Braves fans have suffered enough on this front.

--PITCHER USES ROSIN BAG: I pitched for over 10 years and was on a team that made the Division 1 Massachusetts State Championship game (was supposed to be played at Fenway Park, but got rained out and moved to Lowell where the Lowell Spinners minor league team plays) and I don't ever remember having to use one. Hell, I don't even remember seeing more than a few. Can Massachustts not afford rosin bags?

On a side note, fuck you Malden Catholic High School. (We, Marlborough High School, lost 2-0. Had bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning and didn't score. Had we tied it in the 9th, I was pitching the 10th). Our starting pitcher in that game, Jim Fuller, pitches for the AA Binghamton Mets.

--HITTER RE-APPLIES PINE TAR: Insert George Brett pine tar joke here. Or, instead, insert beer down your throat.

--POP-UP IN THE INFIELD, PITCHER DOESN'T POINT UPWARDS: OK, let me explain this seemingly crazy one. It annoys me that whenever there is an infield pop-up, the pitcher feels inclined to point upwards like a maniac to tell everyone in the world it is a pop-up -- as if everyone on the field and in the ballpark didn't know this already. If they don't do it, it's a miracle. It's also a good excuse to finish your drink.

--PITCHER ASKS FOR A NEW BALL: I used to do that all the time when I pitched. Maybe the seems didn't feel right or the ball felt too big. If you don't feel comfortable with the ball, you gotta get a new one. And YOU gotta get a new beer, cause you have to finish yours every time you see a pitcher asking for a new pearl.

--GOLDEN SOMBRERO: The KING.


TAKE A SHOT (or SHOTGUN A BEER):

--GRAND SLAM: These following occurrences happen so rarely, that it only seems fair that the penalty is either to take a shot or to shotgun a beer. If they happen in the ninth inning or later, I apologize, because there's a good chance you're already smashed.

--BALK: If Joe West is umpiring the game, you may want to set aside a shot glass before the game -- because it will be getting used.

--CATCHER'S INTERFERENCE: As you can see from this article and chart, these are rare birds at a baseball game. Celebrate accordingly! Pay close attention to when Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury are hitting, because they are the kings at drawing these babies.

--OBSTRUCTION OR RUNNERS' INTERFERENCE: Not sure the difference between the two rules? Hell, no one is. Just know that if either are called, drink up.

--ROBBED HOME RUN: These are just so beautiful. If you think the catch is better than THIS ONE, THIS ONE or THIS ONE, you are required to become an alcoholic. Make sure you watch that second one in slow-mo, because it is breathtaking.

--RUNNER PICKED OFF: This rule is sponsored by Mark Buehrle, one of the three best fielding pitcher's of all-time (Greg Maddux, Jim Kaat and Buehrle in some order), who is a legend at the pickoff. OK, seriously, watch this play, and tell me I'm wrong.

--HOME RUN OVERTURNED: If either a home run is overturned or a double is changed to a home run on instant replay, you must drink.

--BUNT FOR HIT: One caveat, the batter has to be trying for a bunt single. So if it's a clear sacrifice bunt situation and the batter reaches on a hit anyway, it doesn't count. EXCEPTION: Billy Hamilton. Now that the fastest man ever on cleats is in the majors, you are required to drink if he reaches base on any bunt. Good luck with that, Reds fans.

--DROPPED POP-UP: If you see a botched pop up, you must pay for the mistake. You know, kind of like this embarrassment to the game of baseball, where the best fielder on the team cost the most underrated and unlucky pitcher on the planet a win earlier this season. I'm not bitter about this play, I swear.

--MULTI-HOME RUN GAME: If someone hits their second home run of the game, take a celebratory shot. Just hope they don't hit another.

--UMPIRE MISSES CALL: As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that this rule belongs in the 2-Drinks category, because the state of umpiring in baseball is wretched. Oh well. Drink up!

--WALK-OFF HIT: Players often get pies in the face after getting the game-winning hit. Since wasting a pie if you're not rich is a crime against humanity, you get to have a shot glass shoved in your face instead. 

DRINK ALL THE DRINKS:

--TRIPLE PLAY: Or, if you don't think finishing every ounce of alcohol you have in your house is a good idea, take three shots instead. Because that's always a good decision.

--INSIDE-THE-PARK HOME RUN: After the inside-the-park HR, watch the replay and count how long it takes the batter to score. However many seconds it is, you must chug a beer for that same amount of time.

--HIT FOR THE CYCLE: If someone hits for the cycle, maybe you should do the same. I'm thinking sip of beer, finish your beer, take a shot and then shotgun a full beer. That's the real cycle right there.

--BENCH-CLEARING BRAWL: Because who doesn't love a good fight in which nothing happens? Sometimes, though, punches are thrown. It's glorious.


**If you want team-specific rule modifications for your favorite team, e-mail me at Eli.rosenswaike@gmail.com or message me on Twitter @EliRosenswaike and I will accommodate your drunken needs (not your sexual ones).

I'm also open to new rules that I missed, so post them below and we can get even more drunk than we already are.



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02 October, 2013

Review - SOUTH PARK 17.02: 'Informative Murder Porn'


Last week the SOUTH PARK writing core group of one shoved their libertarian bullshit down our throats with a deft hand only a moon-landing-hoax-screaming-besotted-conspiracy-nut and fake-Navy-SEAL who was also once the governor of a Midwestern state could deliver.

In this episode, adults need their investigative murder porn. Kids fight the creeps with content blocking apps. Cable companies suck. No one actually wants DirecTV. Minecraft is about punching trees and building shit.

Here's what our heroic writing core of one was trying to say:

Some of you really love creepy sex shows about people doing creepy sex things to people. It's somehow legal and really popular. Minecraft is about exploring. Burger King changed its name to Fries King even though they make the worst freedom fries on the planet. That last part wasn't in the episode but it's important.

If I had to rate this one, and virtually every popular show on primetime TV says I do, I'd give it:

95 out of 100

Don't bother commenting on this article. I've pre-banned you all.

P.S.

How DO YOU tame a horse in Minecraft? I play Terraria. Actually, don't tell me. I'll figure it out the old fashioned way. Wikipedia.

P.P.S

This episode may actually have been trying to say that the awful things we watch on TV or play in video games don't actually cause us to become terrible people. Maybe it's just a few bad people on the planet who do bad things and we over hype those events due to our 24-hour news cycles which are just entertainment information porn.

Also, cable bundles force you to buy channels you never watch. It's actually how these channels stay in business. So. Is. That. Bad?

I take it back. This was about shoving libertarian ideology down our throats.



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26 September, 2013

Review - SOUTH PARK 17.01: 'Let Go, Let Gov'



Trey Parker kind-of pushes his quasi-right-wing agenda in the season 17 premiere of SOUTH PARK.

Cartman bitches about the NSA spying on him as he continuously transmits his every thought to the entire Internet. He then infiltrates the NSA to get all their info and share it with the world. Meanwhile the NSA spies on everyone and everything. Also, Alec Baldwin's a douche.

This is Parker's somewhat commentary on Edward Snowden and people who may be overreacting to the information he leaked, since people are already sharing all of their activity with the world. I say somewhat because the story never pulls the trigger on its message, seemingly fearful of saying what it really feels.

What Parker doesn't seem to understand, due to major Big Mac blockage in his brain, is that the people have always shared their lives with those around them. The Internet just makes that sharing wide-scale. The problem is the government's collection of that data and subsequent use of that data against anyone they consider a person of interest, violates basic Constitutional rights. We the people can say whatever we want, wherever we want. The government needs a court order to record it. And those court orders must be available for public scrutiny. At present, that's not how the NSA, and other agencies like it, are operating.

At least right-wingers will have an episode to rub their crotches all over.

If I had to rate this episode, and the NSA agent spying on my every move says I don't, I'd give it:

42 out of 100

Not a good start, but I do love the show and will never quit it! Bring on the hate.

P.S.

This episode only exists because Edward Snowden exposed the government for its Constitution-raping practices. He has made Comedy Central millions.



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19 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.10: 'Levitate Me'


Editor's Note: This marks The Plopper's final review on this blog... ever! I'm just kidding, she's been awesome. But seriously, if she ever sends me two completely different versions of the same 20 page article, I'm going to hunt her down and smother her in cake.

Well, here I am, letting out a long, frustrated, conflicted sigh.  Episode 4.10 of Covert Affairs, “Levitate Me,” was – in THEORY – a badass episode.  In theory.

It had all the individual ingredients for a badass episode, after all: Annie stealing cell phones from small children, Annie faking her own death, acknowledgement that Danielle actually still exists rather than having been sucked into a black hole once she got to San Francisco early last season, some A&A sweet talk, a Radiohead song, a surprise Eyal scene, etc.  Even the title of the ep sounds super cool.  Oh, and fiiinnally the focus of the ep was back on our main character, with some good Auggie & Joan scenes as well.  Every single one of these ingredients, taken on its own, is awesome.  If I had seen the Danielle postcard scene or the Eyal scene on their own, out of context, I would be completely engaged by them.  But when all these ingredients were added together to make episode 4.10, the final product still somehow managed to come out of the oven just ... a bit half-baked for me.

Why??  What’s wrong with me??  I mean seriously, is it me??  Am I just expecting too much out of this show?  I should go back and watch these first 10 eps of season 4 in order again during the month hiatus.  Because as I see it now ... everything was humming along quite nicely through 4.06.  I had my quibbles with those eps, as I always do, but overall, the storylines made sense.  The character motivations made sense.  I was WITH these guys.  I was with their plight.  I felt their struggles and their happiness and pain and everything along with them.  I was on the same wavelength with both heart and mind.  And then, ep 4.07 happened.  And 4.08.  And 4.09.  And we started to go down a weird path.  Strange things started happening, and they didn’t stop.

A random guest character who we’d spent almost zero time with previously (Helen), convinced Annie to make major life decisions after only a couple fairly robotic conversations.  Annie and Auggie broke up for no good reason.  A&A decided their breakup was a mistake, but with no explanation.  Teo took over an entire episode (two eps, sorta) and we kind of forgot who the star(s) of the show was (were).  Teo died right after we got to know him, but OFF camera and with almost zero time devoted to it.  Henry continued to be the puppetmaster behind ALL of this, but without ever giving a great explanation as to WHY he blames our characters for his son’s death.  Annie & Auggie acted like star-crossed lovers with insurmountable barriers between them, but I wasn’t quite sure why those barriers were so insurmountable.  Annie risked her entire *life and career* to avenge the death of a guy she was friendly acquaintances with, at best (Teo), and to help out her (ex)boss Arthur.  (A boss who, let’s not forget, was ready to sell her down the river in two seconds when she was in that coma accused of treason last season).  And finally in the end, Annie literally went through with giving up her *entire* life and identity because of the mess she had now gotten herself into with all this crap.

I don’t know what’s happening here.  I don’t feel like I’ve been with these characters in much of what they’ve been doing since ep 4.07.  I feel like I’ve been watching them do a bunch of shit, but none of it makes much sense.  It’s like I’m observing from outside but I don’t entirely speak their language.  It makes it all seem haphazard, and it results in me not being totally invested in it.  It lessens the impact of all of it for me by a huge amount.

Can we step back and take a moment to compare eps 4.07-10 with LAST season’s equivalent eps, 3.07-10?  Why did those eps in S3 have SUCH an impact on me mentally and emotionally, while these ones from S4 did not?  They actually had some major similarities.  Last season, Simon was in the Teo role.  I’ve been complaining that this season, the “Teo Braga Saga” ep(s) leading into Teo’s death felt like an obvious manipulation to me.  But if you think about it, ep 3.07 last year was EXACTLY the same thing, but for Simon instead.  Cuba, a.k.a. “the ep where we really get to know Simon Fischer right before they kill him,” was an extremely similar story structure.  So then why did THAT story work so well for me while these S4 episodes did not??

Here is my diagnosis: Annie’s struggle in those S3 episodes was PERSONAL.  The eps where we got to know Simon were not actually about Simon so much as they were about ANNIE, and her journey into this new weird space where she was trying to work a long con on a target for the first time ever, but she was also kinda falling in love with him.  It was about HER journey in both her career and personal life, with Simon as an integral part.  When Simon was killed, ANNIE was affected by that in every way possible, both mentally because she had fallen in love with him and also physically when she was nearly killed too, not to mention being betrayed/framed by her own boss to boot.  So then by ep 3.10, when Annie was out to get Lena in Russia, we were SO WITH her.  We were with her in every step she took because we got the full impact of all of this on her character, and by proxy we felt it *with* her.  And we felt Auggie and Joan’s struggles as well, as people who care about her.  And then that final showdown scene between Annie and Lena in that cabin in the woods in Russia was AMAZING.  It was completely badass because everything had built to that moment in a very clear and meaningful way.

Now let’s look at S4.  Who has this season actually been *about*??  For the first 6 eps, it seemed like it was about Annie and Auggie and their struggles with everything going on around them, including Henry.  It felt like it was told from their perspective.  They were doing well in their personal lives, but their work life was clearly becoming a huge issue.  Ep 4.07 should have been focused on them as well, but it ended up being more focused on Helen, and the way the story was told there just didn’t accomplish its goal of convincing us that A&A would break up over the events in that ep.  And then suddenly eps 4.08 and 9 just seemed to to focus away from Annie & Auggie entirely.  Suddenly Teo and Arthur were the stars of the show, and A&A and Joan were just supporting characters.  Annie was like an impartial third party, a therapist and go-between for Teo and Arthur in their struggle with Henry.  She was just on the sidelines looking vaguely concerned and trying to help.  The last scene of 4.09 is what really cemented this for me: It ended with Arthur watching Henry kind of speak to him through the television.  It was like the “Henry vs. Arthur” element of the season kind of came out and took center stage and said, “Yes that’s right, I am the star of season 4!!”

How did Annie relate to any of this other than having gotten herself pulled into it by letting Henry manipulate her with that damn folder in scene 1 of the season??  It’s been established that this woman is WAYY too dedicated to her job, so I GET that, don’t get me wrong.  But these last couple eps leading into 4.10 have just been so focused AWAY from her and her motivations that all of this stuff started to feel impersonal to me and I felt myself disconnecting from it.  I know Annie’s relationship with Teo was supposed to have been established as something that would have sent her over the point of no return when Henry framed Teo and then when Teo died, but as usual the writers were trying to shove so many plot points into these episodes that we just didn’t get enough time devoted to that relationship and story, or Annie’s personal investment in it, for it to be convincing.  It was like somehow Arthur and Teo’s family therapist (i.e. Annie) began fighting all their battles FOR them, but I wasn’t ever fully convinced as to why she cared so much about her “patients” that she’d risk her entire LIFE AND CAREER to become their own personal warrior against Henry.

At some point in ep 4.10, Annie makes a statement to Auggie that Henry is also responsible for breaking them up, so that was another way the writers were trying to establish her personal stake in all of this.  But was their break-up *really* Henry’s fault?  Assuming we’re to buy the reason A&A broke up to begin with, wouldn’t Helen have been someone who could have shown up at any point and broken them up in this exact same way on her own??  Henry may have been the catalyst to speed this up, but he was NOT the actual cause of the root problem to begin with.  Their jobs are going to be stressful and challenging to their relationship no matter what after all; if it’s not Henry it’ll just be someone or something else.  I just didn’t buy that as being a valid personal motivator for Annie to *quite* this extreme extent.

So then, all of this somehow culminates in Annie pushing herself into such a corner in eps 4.09 and 4.10 that her career is about to be obliterated unless she can find some sort of permanent way out of the whole mess.  Calder somehow goes from “I’m bringing you in for possible treason” to “O.k. I’ll help you fake your death so you can keep working to bring down Henry” in a SPLIT SECOND with exactly ZERO screentime devoted to how he gets there.  Yes, we had Auggie making progress on convincing Calder of Henry’s evilness leading into it, but at that moment in time in his convo with Annie, he clearly still needed more convincing.  And yet, what Annie says to him in this scene somehow does the trick, magically, but we don’t know exactly how, because apparently the writers (or editors) didn’t have enough time in this ep to devote to that part of the story.

And then, we wind up with a final sequence starting with Annie’s letter to Danielle and ending with that great Eyal scene that SHOULD have been fucking amazing.  It should have been just as amazing and ass-kicking as that final showdown with Lena in 3.10.  That Annie/Eyal scene *was* amazing out of context.  Out of context, I LOVED it.  But IN context, it just didn’t feel properly earned.  I didn’t fully see how we got there.  I didn’t feel like I was with Annie’s struggle, or feeling her feels in every damn thing that led INTO it.  I was left outside of Annie’s head this time, unlike last season.

My cousin put it quite well in a text to me about that scene: “It made me sad and nostalgic for the character connections of yesteryear.”  EXACTLY.  This scene actually depressed me.  I just watched the ep for the 2nd time and it actually seriously got me choked up.  It bums me out like hell because it gives me a flash of how brilliant, and emotionally and mentally impactful this all COULD have been, if anything building UP to it had made sense and resonated with me.  Because like I said, in *theory*, Annie being forced into a position where she has to fake her own death and go dark/rogue IS FUCKING AWESOME.  This sets us up for something that COULD be amazing and ass-kicking in the back 6 episodes.  But my confusion on how the hell we got to this point makes me feel like both my heart and brain have been pushed out of the whole thing.  It’s like I’m looking at a list of ingredients that could blow my mind if they were combined together in a way that made sense and gelled, by some master chef who could turn them into a masterpiece.  But they just ... weren’t this time.  Not this season.  Not in these first 10 eps, at least.  I was teased for the first 6 eps into thinking we were on our way there, but then somehow the train went off the tracks and it never quite got back on.  And I’m fucking BUMMED about it.

Just a few random thoughts before my grade:
  • Annie spelling out “LMFAO” in the IMing scene had me LMFAO.
  • Another issue I’ve had with CA S4 is that I’ve been able to see nearly every “twist” coming from miles away lately.  It seems like the last major turn we were shocked by was when Annie killed Seth, and that was way back in ep 4.02.  And in that vein, I dunno how effective it was to put in that second flash-forward to the elevator scene in 4.05.  It had us guessing that Annie would fake her death, but I would MUCH rather the writers have spent the eps leading into 4.10 focusing on properly building up to HOW Annie would come to that massively monumental decision about her life to begin with.  Bring us into her head, guys!!  She is the MAIN character, right??  Why does this seem so impossible lately??
  • BOTH Katie and Shelby point this out to me and it’s a great point: What the hell was the deal with the scene where Annie steals the clothes in the store to change her outfit??  The new outfit looked almost exactly the same as the old one!!  And she had already miraculously gotten the blood stains out of the original one!!  Did she just want slightly cuter clothes for the rest of her mission??
  • Auggie putting Henry in a headlock.  BWAHAHA.
  • The CIA putting THAT much trust in Henry at this point, after previously being imprisoned for treason??  Come ON man.

GRADE: O.k. hold up.  Now that I’ve seen all 10 eps of the summer season, these are the grades I’d give each ep:

401: 87
402: 94
403: 89
404: 88
405: 90
406: 91
407: 60
408: 68
409: 71
410: 75

I know I changed some of them, but now that I see where it was all headed, I’m realizing that maybe I was too optimistic on a few of these before seeing the rest of the season.  4.10 as a standalone episode would get a higher grade because it was a very entertaining ep, but taken in context of the whole season leading into it, it’s a lot less effective.

I have a feeling a lot you might disagree with me on this.  A lot of you probably thought 4.10 was super kick-ass and you’re gonna wonder why I have to be such a freakin’ downer.  Well, I dunno why.  But season 3 (the first 11 or 12 eps) set my expectations of this show REALLY high.  Maybe I should have kept them lower??  Sigh.  Tell me in the comments.

The Plopper



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18 September, 2013

Review - SUITS 3.10: 'Stay'


Considering even I'm sick of using these reviews to complain, I'm sure you are too. Who cares if the summer finale wasn't just the way I wanted it or that there were some nitpicks here and there.

I had fun watching it. And that's all that matters. It's an entertaining show with some great characters and sharp dialogue. Not much to really complain about when I really think about it.

To no one's surprise Rachel is staying and not going to Stanford. Disappointing story-telling wise in that it was obvious from the get-go that's how it would turn out. But what choice did the show really have? I'm not too invested in those two as a couple, but I'm going to have to live with it because it's a huge part of the show.

I am glad that Harvey has a love interest again. Because when you really think about the show's past, he really hasn't had too many. He's hooked up with a few women from time to time, but for the most part he hasn't cared too much about them. It's nice to see Harvey vulnerable and it's a nice distraction from the constant Mike and Rachel drama. And it doesn't hurt that I love Scottie.

The second that Sheila told Louis not to touch the files, we all knew that he would look for Mike Ross' file. But I'm glad he did, because it adds a potentially great dynamic when the show returns. With everything staying the same, we needed a shake-up and now we got it. Cool.

Last thoughts: Donna is awesome, I miss Katrina and I still feel like Jessica isn't utilized enough on this show.

What did you all think of the summer finale?

QUOTES OF NOTE:

--MIKE: "And second of all, people actually have girlfriends after high school, which you wouldn't know because emotionally you never graduated."
--HARVEY: "Well I guess you're the expert, because the only thing you graduated from is high school."

--LOUIS: "I've just been wam-bam candidate man. I mean, any woman who has been repeatedly Litt up would demand exclusive dominion over my body."

--SCOTTIE: "After meeting you, I'd say there's an 80% chance there's a roofie in there."

--HARVEY: "Because he's a lying son of a bitch, you're a piece of shit and this is the end of this deposition."

--LOUIS: "Give me a deed, I'll do it. Give me a mountain, I'll climb it, Give me a Katy Perry song, I'll sing it."


RANDOM RAMBLINGS:

--Scottie (Abigail Spencer) is impossibly gorgeous.

--Apparently there are only four REAL lawyers in New York: Harvey, Gary Cole, Eric Close and Abigail Spencer. They just keep receycling these people. I half-expected to see Daniel Hardman in this one.

--The "call your mom for a box of tissues" line wasn't Harvey's finest work.

--Assuming payphones still exist, I don't think a quarter is enough to make a call anyway.

--I found it implausible that Stephen Huntley was stupid enough to admit to Donna that he was lying. Oh well.

--Where can I buy that glossy photo of Louis?

--Is Louis right? Is Fed-Ex AM delivery a scam?


THE GRADE: B

2013 Summer Movies in Review



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11 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.09: 'Hang Wire'



Last week I mentioned that I’d be out of the country for Covert Affairs eps 4.09-10, but that I’d do everything I could to watch them while away.  I managed to do that tonight for 4.09, late of course, so I figured I’d post a short version of my usual review.

Instead what it seems to be though, rather than short, is fairly long, but just shitty instead, with less cohesiveness in my thoughts.  Err ... maybe “shitty” is not the right word.  What I meant to say is “amazing.”  You should definitely read it.  Here are my quick and shitty/life-changing thoughts:

Remember early on in season 4, when Henry met Arthur for lunch and literally spelled out for him, “I am going to kill your son because you killed my son” ?  I’m paraphrasing of course, but that is essentially what he said.  In my review of that episode, my question to his declaration was, “WHY??”  Given the person that Henry has been for this entire series since the beginning of season 1, it makes complete sense that he’d eventually wind up as a “big bad” for our characters.  But have we ever once had it explained to us in any of these episodes, just exactly WHY Henry blames Arthur for Jai’s death??  Other than Arthur being in charge at the time Jai died??  At that time the answer was no, but I heard some good theories on it from fellow fans.  Fast forward to ep 4.09, and I just realized, we STILL don’t know the answer to this question!!  Do we??  Did I miss something?  We shouldn’t have to still be guessing and theorizing on the motives of the bad guy at the root of the *primary* ongoing story arc this season.

And what about Henry’s rundown of his ENTIRE evil plot to get his revenge on Arthur - from beginning to end - to Annie right before he had the helicopter blown up?  Reminded me a bit of the Scooby Doo-esque ending of nearly every ep of ‘Castle’, where the criminal explains every detail of their crime and their motivations for committing it, to Castle and Beckett.  “And I would’ve gotten away with it too if not for you meddling kids!!”  Only with Henry, I'm still confused on his motivations.  And then he purposely lets Annie go to see how she handles it.  I mean of COURSE she was gonna get Teo out of it, she’s the plucky protagonist who can get herself and her buddies out of any pickle!!  (Until they get shot in the leg).

And speaking of Baby Teo – my first reaction to his death was, I have to give points to the writers for bucking the norm on #5 from HGF’s article, “TOP 10 Stupid Things TV and Film Makers Do”:  “Arm and leg bullet wounds are shrugged off even though they can be extremely painful, result in broken bones, and cause severe blood-loss that can kill just as easily as any other wound.”  Good job, Covert Writers.  I think??  That is assuming that Teo doesn’t show up alive again later in a “shocking twist.”  Because if that happens, the points the writers earned here plus every point they’ve ever earned for anything else ever will be taken away.  Because not only is this one of the most cliché things in all of spy TV shows and soap operas, it has now been done on THIS show in THIS season once, and most likely twice as of next week’s ep when Annie fakes her own death.  Probably.  AND it would completely invalidate the impact that Teo’s death was supposed to have on Arthur and the rest of our characters.  Kind of like that time Annie and Auggie broke up for no reason and then made everyone cry, and then 5 seconds later changed their minds and everything was fine again.

Back to Teo.  My other thought on this is, assuming he IS really dead, it makes me even more annoyed with LAST week’s episode, 4.08, a.k.a. The Teo Braga Saga.  Because at the time, my cousin pointed out that she felt like the writers were manipulating us into caring as much as possible about Teo so that killing him off later would be more impactful.  And hey look!  It only took them one week to prove her right.  It seems.  Though it happened in an oddly rushed, off-screen manner.  Which is what makes me a bit suspicious.  And just WHAT was the deal with all of Annie and Teo’s conversations in this ep??  Her comments about not wanting to “lose him” on the rooftop struck me as the typical tactic Annie takes when trying to turn a target/asset.  So I didn’t think much of it.  But then later in the car ... I don’t know.  Was that just more bonding to make us more sad when Teo died?

O.k. last thing I want to touch on here: I’m starting to realize that nearly the ENTIRETY of the almost absent character focus or insight we’ve gotten on Annie this season has come from Henry Wilcox’s observations on how she reacts to his “challenges”.  And every single time, Annie has responded by shrugging it off.  Even in this episode, when she finally starts to concede that *maybe* she’s made some mistakes along the way in letting her heart lead over her head, she ends that statement with a sarcastic quip that she should’ve let Teo kill Henry instead of stopping him.  While it did make me laugh, it also somewhat invalidated the ONE time she actually seemed to take two seconds to consider what he was telling her.  Though she did make the same statement to Teo himself later in the ep, in a serious manner.  Maybe it sunk in a little after all?  OH and I genuinely liked Teo’s comments to her about wishing he could go back to the days when he could be carefree, but then per usual, Annie responded with her typical: dead silence and/or change the subject.  Like hey, what does Annie think about this?  Who the hell knows!!  We rarely know the answer to that question these days.

And then this made me think: I have a bad feeling that we may end up getting zero insight at ALL into what leads to Annie’s decision to fake her death next week (4.10), other than the standard plot points: “Must get out of Germany.  I’m a wanted criminal.  Must escape Henry.  Must fake death.  Must dye hair brown.” (robot voice).  A + B = C.  Zzzz.  And that will be … INFUUUURRRRIATING to me.  We’ll see; I can’t judge it before I see it.

Here are a few of my other random thoughts:

  • Do you love that the episode where we finally find out Calder is a “good guy” also involves TWO major “Calder drives his Jag in a douchey manner” scenes?
  • For her first couple scenes, I felt like the lawyer character was someone who must have been on a previous episode of CA.  Turns out it was Homeland.  I guess the spy shows are running together for me now.
  • Who is it that gets to decide in each episode whether Annie gets to wear sensible shoes vs. heels? I can never quite figure out the logic.  Sometimes it depends on her cover, but not always.
  • Is it possible in ANY circumstance to survive a jump from a building that high??  That was a little insane.
  • "Care to explain where you’ve been for the past FIFTEEN HOURS!?"  Joan’s Calder-smackdown was pretty amazing.
  • My cousin Katie’s comments on the method in which Teo was framed for the missile/helicopter bombing: “What was the plan on leaving the missile launcher with him??  The cops were going to find him passed out with it and go, ‘Well, looks like it’s definitely this guy who launched the rocket and then took a nap!’”  Mystery solved.  This made me laugh really, really hard.  I guess the assumption would be that he got knocked out from the blast itself??
  • Auggie’s gratuitous shirt scene.  Seriously.  I don’t even know.  Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Auggie’s phone convo with Annie about taking time off in the Galapagos islands, where no one can find them – Was that little reminiscent of Simon, Annie and the Maldives in “Glass Spider”?  I know Auggie’s plan was more of a vacation ... I think ... but still.  Was that on purpose?

Anyway I know I mainly just listed complaints here, but overall I thought this ep was better than last week and the week before.  I’m going to write a more cohesive review of 4.10 when I get back from my trip on Weds 9/18 that will probably somewhat cover both of these eps.  This was such a set-up episode that I’m kind of lost on what grade to even assign to it. 

GRADE: 80.  I think. 

Let’s be honest, I should’ve given 4.07 a 60.  And I should’ve given 4.08 a 70 (I know, still a bit better than HGF’s grade).  Right now I’m at about an 80 for 4.09, but at this point I’m mainly just concerned about what 4.10 is gonna bring to the table after all this.  I’ve already got thoughts on what I’ll write in my review for that one, if it goes the way I think it’ll go.  Maybe it won’t.  Maybe they’ll surprise me.  Maybe.

Tell me how shitty my review was in the comments section.

The Plopper

2013 Summer Movies in Review


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10 September, 2013

GeekFurious the Podcast - Episode 200: 2013 Summer Movies in Review


Vlad and Magnus discuss the summer movies of 2013 that we saw (and some we didn't) and name the winners and losers. Discussions are timestamped below for your convenience.

WARNING: while we tried to stay away from spoilers, you may want to avoid some discussions anyway (Star Trek definitely has spoiler talk).

DISCUSSION
00:00 - INTRO
14:00 - 2013 Summer Movie Discussion begins
14:27 - GI Joe Retaliation
17:16 - Fast & Furious 6
18:33 - Iron Man 3
22:37 - Quick mention of This is The End's potential effect on The World's End box office
22:58 - Man of Steel
24:22 - We talk about the problem of building up characters in movies vs. television
26:57 - Wolverine
28:58 - Star Trek Into Darkness
37:27 - Pacific Rim
43:24 - Before Midnight
54:17 - World War Z (and a bit on Shaun of the Dead) aka "Magnus hates zombies"
1:10:51 We skip through a bunch of movies & some We're the Millers talk
1:12:36 The World's End and an overall discussion of the trilogy (this is long)
1:40:37 Top 3 Summer Movies from Vlad and Magnus and the outro

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04 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.08: 'I've Been Waiting for You'


I mean ... look ... Covert Affairs ... here’s the thing.  This episode was better than last week.  By a comfortable margin.  But, was it everything I look for in a great ep of this show?  Eh, we’re not quite back to that place yet.  I’ve still got a few bones to pick.

First off, I love baby Teo.  Anyone who has read any review I’ve written of any episode involving our Sweet Puma Cub knows of my undying love for him.  So when I saw from the previews that this week’s ep seemed to be Teo-heavy, I was happy.  Especially because watching Helen take over last week’s ep was like watching a cat screech its nails across a chalkboard for a full hour, culminating in the equivalent of that Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial with those horribly sad mistreated animals, i.e. the “A&A break up for no reason” scene.  “I’ve Been Waiting For You” was supposed to be like a palate cleanser for that, if you will.  It was supposed to soothe my aching CA-fan soul.  And it did, somewhat.  But oddly enough ... the Teo-heavy nature of this episode ended up kind of *annoying* me as well.  Partly.  I felt o.k. with it until about halfway through the ep, at which point I realized that this was going to be the entire episode.  This was IT.  I mean, for the most part.

Let me explain.  We spent all of last week’s ep dumping HUGE HORRIBLE stuff on our main characters.  Helen was really alive, Auggie was freaking out, Annie had to go on a whole mission with Helen, Helen convinced Annie her whole life was going the wrong direction, Auggie inexplicably decided the same thing on his own, A&A broke up, everything was suddenly horrible and dark and gloomy.  And then, this week, we spent almost ZERO time actually dealing with ANY fallout from that.  We got a slightly angsty and awkward mission set-up scene from A&A at the beginning, and then boom, at the end ... well ok.  Hold up.  I’ll address the end in a few mins.  Let’s talk about the rest of the episode first. 

It’s not that I don’t care about Teo’s plight - about his mission to avenge his mother’s murder, his mission to stop the ALC, and his relationship with Arthur.  I DO care.  I just don’t care about that AS much as I care about our MAIN freaking characters.  All I ask for is an episode that is a little more balanced to cover BOTH of these bases.  We got some plot movement on the “Henry Wilcox is funding the ALC” plotline, the little prisoner field trip fake-out scheme was fun, and Manolo Cardona even got me a little choked up in his scene with Arthur in the forest.  That was all entertaining enough.  I just wish that Teo and Annie could have talked about SOMETHING else at some point in this ep (the damn hotel room maybe??) other than Teo’s daddy issues.  Yes, we touched a tad on Auggie and Arthur lying to Annie, but barely anything at all.  Once again, we got an episode where all the character focus went to someone OTHER than our main character(s - including Auggie this time).  As happens pretty often on this show, Annie seems to exist for no reason other than to enable OTHER characters to get real deep and confront THEIR own issues with themselves and their cohorts.  Annie just watches from the sideline and gives sympathetic looks and wears cute shoes and runs around crashing trucks and dodging bombs and shit.  Annie, honey, I want more for you.  I’ve seen glimpses in the past that we can get more, but I can’t help but constantly feel like those were just teases for something that’s never going to happen.  Like the elusive backstory on Joan’s pill addiction that we’ll likely never get.

Anyway.  Let’s get to that ending now, shall we?  The truck blows up, the mysterious bad guy disappears, Teo’s buddy dies, Teo feels sad/pissed, Teo runs.  Annie comes home, finds her apartment totally ransacked, and runs over to Auggie’s to warn him.  Calder shows up before Auggie can even start to do a proper sweep of his place, but before Annie runs to hide from Calder, we get Auggie’s “Wait Annie!!  I decided everything Helen said was wrong!!”  OK GREAT Auggie well I’m glad you finally pulled your head out of your ass on that one, but WHY!!?  HOW did you come to this decision??  WHAT was it that led you to realize that everything Helen said was wrong??  Oh, sorry!!  We didn’t get to see any of that because we spent the ENTIRE EPISODE on Teo.  We had to spend the whole thing focusing on a character that for all we know, could very well end up dead a few eps from now.  Remember, no matter how dreamy he is and no matter how much we love him, he’s not a series regular.  He’s only a guest star.  We can’t get too attached (remember Simon and that hail of bullets?).  That convo between Joan & Teo about him joining the CIA after all this felt a bit foreboding to me for some reason.

I don’t think I would be nearly as annoyed right now if this was, say, ep 4.03 or something.  Early in the season, we’ve got more time for episodes like this.  But this was 4.08 – there are only TWO episodes left of the summer season.  We only have approximately one, maybe 1.5 more episodes until Annie somehow finds herself faking her own death (err, most likely, based on all the obvious clues we’ve been given so far).  I feel much less like we can afford to spend an entire ep focusing solely on a guest star this late in the season.  This ep reminded me a lot of eps 313-15 last year, when 95% of the episode time was spent focusing on friggin' Megan and Khalid instead of giving proper focus to our main characters.  Maybe I should just be happy that at least I LIKE Teo, unlike Megan and Khalid (blech).

Do any of you watch ‘Castle’?  Anyone who watches 'Castle' will understand what it’s like to spend 97% of every single episode suffering through the case-of-the-week, in the desperate hope that they’ll give us like TWO MINUTES of general character development time or Castle/Beckett time before the ep is over.  And that’s if we’re lucky.  CA, thank GOD, is NOT normally like that at all, because the mission-of-the-week is rarely boring and the ongoing plotlines are a *bazillion* times more engaging.  But I swear to god, this week, I felt that exact “COME OOONNN!!” feeling I get from‘Castle’ nearly EVERY week.  Again, I totally get that we can’t get character time in every episode of a given series, but the closer we get to the end of the season with so many unresolved issues, the more frustrated I get.

Here are my general ramblings:

  • Teo’s story to Annie about doing deep cover work w/the ALC … I’m not sure if that is yet another clue about Annie faking her own death in 4.10.  It’s not like Annie can pretend to be someone else with Henry after she’s “dead.”  We’ll see.
  • Again we have protective Joan in this ep, which I continue to enjoy.
  • Annie punching Teo in the hotel room was pretty hilarious.
  • Again Manolo Cardona did a really good job with the scene in the woods w/Arthur.  I got a little verklempt.
  • Uggh effing Calder in the helicopter.  And smashing apartments.  And everywhere.  I had hoped we’d find out in this ep that maybe he’s actually a good guy, but no dice.  I’m still convinced he’ll eventually wind up on Annie’s side though.  Otherwise that flashforward scene from the elevator just doesn’t work, unless he’s *actually* shooting her.  But there’s no way in hell they’d shoot her nearly dead AGAIN.
  • So Henry essentially killed Teo’s mom, eh?  Sucks but I mean ... Henry is responsible for EVERYTHING bad this season, so, duh.  It’s like my friend Shelby said the other day ... I’m paraphrasing but it was something like, “They can’t just make Henry responsible for SOME of the bad things, he has to be responsible for ALL of the effing bad things.”  I’m totally fine with having a “big bad” this season, but I feel like it worked a bit better with Lena last year, because we didn’t KNOW she was bad until 3.08.  But I guess in the end, she was kinda responsible for all the bad things too.
  • The prisoner truck-crashing scene was kind of ... awkwardly filmed.  I laughed when it crashed because of the way poor Piper was having to throw herself around in that thing during the “crashing” hahaha.  And the guy shooting at the truck, conveniently a HORRIBLE shot until the second Teo finally got out of harm’s way.
  • So the flash drive has been found!!  Uh oh.  This honestly seems like a much bigger bit of plot movement than ANYTHING that happened regarding Teo and Henry.  And it happened in the last damn minute of the episode.  Grrrr.
  • Where the hell do A&A go from here?  Well, at the very least, they’re back in a place where they are fully out in the open with each other that they still WANT to be together.  But I have a feeling they will need to stay “broken up” for now in order to take down Henry the way they are planning to.
Bottom line: This episode was better than last week.  But there was still a good deal left to be desired, for me.  If I were Randy Jackson I’d say, “It was just aiight for me, dog.”  It’s like HGF said in a comment last week – This show has shown me that it’s capable of pretty great things.  I just want it to live up to what I know it’s capable of, that’s all.

GRADE: 80/100

[Editor's note: The Plopper's being too generous. We, the executive group at this blog, give the episode a 60 out of 100. Last week's was crap too. We now return you to your scheduled program.]


I know this is only 3 points higher than last week, but if I had last week’s grade to assign all over again, it would be lower.  I probably would have given it like a 73, tops.  Maybe my opinion of 4.08 will change depending on what happens 4.09 & 4.10, but I won’t know till we get there.  What do you guys think, am I just being a dick??  Are my expectations too high??

NOTE: I will NOT BE IN THE U.S. for eps 4.09 and 4.10.  Clearly I should have checked with the PTB at USA channel on CA’s summer schedule before planning my vacay.  I’m going to do *everything* in my power to watch those eps from Europe.  Pray to the sweet puma gods for me; I hope I’m successful.  IF I can make that happen, I *might* do a super quickie short review of 4.09 (tho it’ll be late bc of timezones).  Then, I will be back home the day AFTER 4.10 airs.  Not until the afternoon though.  My plan is to have a FULL review of 4.10 (or maybe both eps together) up by late Wednesday, 9/18.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

The Plopper


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29 August, 2013

Review - SUITS 3.7: 'She's Mine'


I could be negative. I could complain about how obvious any of the following occurrences were in this week's episode...

1. Stephen betraying Donna. No way!
2. Rachel getting into a law school nearby, negating the need to go to California. No Way!
3. Another twist in the Ava Hessington case. No way!

But if you're a regular reader of my reviews, you know that's just not how I roll. I'm always so very positive. So while it wasn't surprising there was yet another twist in the case, the twist itself was surprising. And it helped save what appeared to be another slog of an episode on the Ava Hessington case.

I think most of us knew Stephen was going to hurt Donna. That was obvious from the beginning. But I just didn't think it would happen this way. I knew he was using her and just being a dirtbag, but I didn't think it was to help cover up a mass murder that he helped orchestrate. Good stuff.

But thank goodness we had the ridiculous mock trial shenanigans to lighten the mood and have some fun this week. That was just brilliance. I thought the last few weeks the show under-utilized Louis, but it was all just a brilliant set-up to the mock trial involving the cat. If you didn't enjoy that insanity, than I don't know why you watch this show in the first place.

Not only was it funny, but it resulted in Louis getting the associates back (which I think we all wanted) and it let Rachel have an episode to shine in a story NOT involving Mike. I appreciated that, because I wish she was given more to do other than stories centered around her relationship with Mike.

I've been complaining about the Ava Hessington case for weeks now, but for the first time I'm somewhat interested in what happens next om that front. But I do what it all to end sometime this millennium. This is getting more dragged out than who killed Rosie Larsen on 'The Killing' or the origin of the Smoke Monster on 'Lost'.

QUOTES OF NOTE:

--HARVEY: "But you're never going to convince a jury that the number one didn't know what the number two was up to."

--JESSICA: "Believe me, I can convince anyone of the fact that a number two can betray a number one behind her back."

--LOUIS: "Rachel, you know how tough it's been for me this year. I lost the associates, Mike made a fool out of me, I saw Harvey's name go up on the wall and I went home."

--NIGEL: "This is not a criminal trial!"
--LOUIS: "Well it should be. Where were we?"

--LOUIS: "Holy shit, we're in trouble."

--HAROLD: "He said: 'He might as well of left his cat with Michael Vick.'"


RANDOM RAMBLINGS:

--Top Secret Shredding Day! I think that would make me WANT to come in the door even more.

--A Radio Frequency Identifier-Integrated Circuit ... really? If my mom knew about those, she would probably get one.

--Poor Mike, at the wrong place at the wrong time -- incurring the wrath of Donna.

--I had forgotten about Harold. Rachel's take-down of him was top-notch. He's a fun character, although he was so completely inept that there's no way he would have gotten a job anywhere.

--Why do men have to be so macho and fight other dudes when they are mad? I could be saying this because I'm a scrawny bitch who can't defend himself. But who knows?


THE GRADE: A-



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28 August, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.07: 'Crackity Jones'


I feel … weird … right now.  And confused.  And cold.  And alone.  Somebody hold me.  Please.  Tightly.

I finished this ep like 15 minutes ago and I think I’ve now set a new record for the longest time I’ve spent sitting on the couch post-ep, staring into space,  trying to get my head around it and to decide whether I enjoyed it or whether I want to drag my TV into the front yard and set it on fire.  I mean obviously, if you read my review of last week’s episode, you know that I was NOT particularly thrilled with the insertion of the “OMGAASH Helen’s really alive!!” storyline.  But still, despite that, I went into this ep with an open mind.  I swear.  I gave the writers the benefit of the doubt that this Helen character could wind up being interesting for the storyline, and that her presence could force our main characters into confronting feelings and situations that they would not have otherwise.  i.e., character development.  I’m a *huge* fan of character development, so if that’s where this gets us, I can be extremely forgiving.

And after watching “Crackity Jones”, I see that this is indeed exactly where the writers were going with it – to push the story, to push our characters, and to give them some insight on themselves, their situation, and each other.  Which is a GOOD thing.  So then why did this ep feel so ODD to me??  So ... kind of ... off?  I’ve been texting back and forth with my cousin while writing this and I think with her help, I’m starting to diagnose the sitch.  Or at least some pieces of the sitch.  Here’s my take: This episode required a LOT of exposition and flashbacks to get us up to speed on who Helen is, how Auggie wound up thinking she was dead when she really wasn’t, what Arthur’s doing with her, and why the hell we should give two shits about ANY of this to begin with.  So as a result, we ended up with an episode of Covert Affairs that starred some random-ass chick who we’ve barely even MET before today.  It was an ensemble effort, yes, but Helen’s screentime had to have been at least equal to both Annie and Auggie here.

So start with that jarring and foreign situation, and then add to it the fact that the amount of time that had to be spent on the flashbacks took away essential story time that was needed to show Annie and Helen’s relationship build and develop on that mission to Lyon.  Crucial time that we did NOT get.  Instead, we got a quicky mission, plus two and a half dialogue scenes.  And this is between two characters who have not only never met before this mission, but have every reason to dislike and distrust the HELL out of each other from the get-go.  Yet somehow it only took a couple chats with Helen to convince Annie that the entire way she’s living her life right now might need a complete overhaul??  Really??  It’s one of those things that ... I would imagine, when you’re mapping out a storyline, makes sense in theory.  In the writer’s room you’re like, “Yeah ok so Helen shows up and she tells Annie her story, and then Annie starts to doubt her sitch,” and then yadda yadda yadda A&A break up.  BUT when the rubber hit the road here, the writers didn’t allow themselves enough screen time to execute this in a convincing way.  The dialogue between Annie and Helen even felt strangely forced to me at many points, like overly on-the-nose.  I’m pretty sure this is because they needed to move these characters from 0 to 60 in their relationship with so few scenes.

So THEN, we get back home from the mission, and Annie goes to Auggie’s apartment for their H2H.  And while Chris and Piper played the HELL out of this scene – major kudos to both of them for that - and it gave me plenty of angsty feels ... it still somehow didn’t seem ... right.  It didn’t feel natural or organic to how I imagine *I* would be acting in that situation, or decisions I would be making.  The events of this episode were plenty to plant seeds of doubt for both Annie and Auggie, sure.  Even plenty for Annie to decide she needs time to herself to process all these crazy developments.  But to call it quits for good??  If you put yourself in their shoes, is this situation even close to enough to make you decide, “Aiight.  That’s it.  Fuck it.  I’m outtie.”  (mic drop)  ?  After ALL that they’ve been through over all these years and that bond they share and everything??  Not even close, for me.  Granted, I do get that in break-up type conversations, the way one person says a little something and then the other party kind of agrees with it, and once that little snowflake starts, you keep pushing each other until it becomes a huge snowball avalanche and you can’t get yourself out of it.  Because neither of you has the balls to be the one to be like “OK JK JKaaaayyyy I didn’t mean it I don’t really wanna break up!!”  I get that, and I think that’s part of what was at play here.  But still, it just wasn’t enough to convince me that they’d go anywhere near this far.  And I’m being 100% honest when I say that I don’t have an issue with A&A breaking up IF it feels organic to the progression of the story, and IF it’s something I can absolutely believe the characters would and should be doing, based on their circumstances.  My issue with this episode is that this was not the case.  It felt much more manipulated and manufactured than it did organic.

There’s another thing I noticed about that final scene too.  It’s of very minor importance to the scene itself, but it reminded me of something I’ve been observing and irked by for quite a while now.  And please forgive my comparisons to other spy shows again, but it’s how my though process works - One thing I always found interesting about ‘Alias’ was that Sydney Bristow was written as a tough character, but she was also allowed to be very “girly” in many ways.  And that was nice, but she was almost TOO girly, in the sense that the woman bawled like a baby every damn time you blinked an eye.  Going back and watching old eps now, the amount of crying Sydney does drives me INSANE.  And that’s the main reason I loved Annie’s long-lost cousin Sarah Walker so much on ‘Chuck’ – She was tough as nails, and rarely showed her emotions, UNTIL the series progressed and the character developed *naturally* from a pretty cold and ruthless spy, to basically kinda opening her heart as a result of Chuck’s influence and impact on her.  It felt right, it progressed naturally, and it was fun to watch.  And she never came even CLOSE to being the weepy baby Sydney was.  She was well-balanced in that sense.

And like Sarah Walker, one thing I’ve always appreciated about Annie Walker is her LACK of weepiness.  Not only that, but she has a cocky swagger about her, that type of cockiness that’s actually even a level or two above what she probably deserves to give herself credit for, that I don’t recall seeing in female characters all that often.  Maybe I’m crazy, but this seems like a traditionally very male quality to me, like Jeff Winger on ‘Community’.  Or every guy on ‘Gigolos’.  Point being, it feels like an interesting change of pace to me, and I like this about Annie as a character.  And her tough-ness is a good thing, but sometimes she can seem like the exact inverse of Sydney Bristow to a fault.  i.e. In the interest of the writers making her “tough,” she can almost border on beyond human sometimes.  Like she’s some sort of robot who can get through anything with barely a quick brush of a little dust off her shoulders.  Like that time she returned home from the Russian prison after the Simon/Lena/nearly-dying debacle and she was just like, “Ok well that was lame.  Next?  No prob.  Back in action and better than ever.”  She never had any sort of emotional breakdown, she never hit any rock bottom, she never had PTSD, nothing.  She just kept on going.  It’s always seemed very odd to me, and it’s hard for me as a human audience member to relate to someone with such super-human cyborg-like powers.

And then, in the break-up scene with Auggie, we saw Annie break down FAR more than she ever has before, that I can remember.  And it was nice to see her finally having some real normal human emotions, BUT even this was quite interesting in terms of the way the scene was filmed.  She started to break down but then she stood up and walked behind the couch, and we could tell that she was crying, but we couldn’t see her face.  The point is that she was trying to hide it from Auggie, but at the same time it almost seems like the writers/director/etc. didn’t want the *audience* to see it either.  And then when she left the apartment, the focus at the end was on Auggie.  I think that was to show him breaking down after she left, but it still struck me as kind of interesting.  Like the writers themselves are afraid to let Annie act like a normal human being with real emotions, every once in a damn while.  I dunno, I could just be in a bad mood at this point and being too nitpicky.  But it’s one more thing adding to my constant nagging feeling that CA’s lead character is the LEAST fleshed-out character on the entire show.

UGGH holy shit this review is so long already.  Let me just do a few other quick random observations before my summary/grade:

  • Watching Auggie look people in the eyes in flashback scenes is always weird, isn’t it?  And in this ep we got him running too.  Without tripping and stuff.  Kinda fun.
  • The transition from the Auggie->Arthur punch to the flash of the title screen thing made me LOL.
  • The way Annie approached Sabino also made me LMAO – “I’m the owner of the missile launchers you stole??  I want them back.”
  • Ha, I love that Myers-Briggs got a shout-out in this ep.  I took one of those many years ago, but at my company they’ve run through several other assessment methodologies since then.  We’re currently using one called LinkUp.
  • Convenient that Helen’s cover for this ep’s mission gave an excuse to let Michelle Ryan use her real accent.
  • Ok that was the best Barber scene EVER, right??  He even came within an inch of going full-on Abed.  “Cool.  Cool cool cool.”  Frankly, he was probably the only bright point of this entire depressing episode!!  Thank you, Barber.  And Auggie took his words to heart, too.
  • The fight scene underwater was kinda cool.  With the bullets going through the water.
  • Ok so it was already obvious to pretty much all of us that the flashforward they keep giving us from ep 10 is Annie faking her own death.  This episode just punches us in the face with it 50 times in case we hadn’t already figured it out.

Ok.  Now for the grade.  I re-watched this ep while writing my review, thinking it might change my feelings on it.  It didn’t.  As a matter of fact, I was even more annoyed on second viewing. 

GRADE: 77 out of 100

I’m so freakin’ tired right now I almost reverted back to my letter grading system on accident.  Is 77 super harsh??  My network just went down so now I’m in a SUPER bad mood, right at the time I’m assigning the grade.  That doesn’t help.  What did you guys think of the ep?  Will I need to fake my death to hide from you after this??  Will my network ever come back up so we can POST this review??

The Plopper



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27 August, 2013

Create Secure Passwords to Protect Against Hackers


After reading this article about new and more powerful password hacking tools, I decided it was time you all learn how to best protect yourselves the best possible way when creating passwords.

Use the Smash & Grab technique!





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21 August, 2013

Review - SUITS 3.6: 'The Other Time'


This is the case that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends ...

Some people starting caring about it (not knowing what it was), and they'll continue watching it forever just because ...

THIS GOD DAMN CASE NEVER ENDS!

Hell, even when episodes are set 10 years ago, the case is still prevalent. There's just no end in sight here.

Despite my annoyance of the Ava Hessington case's refusal to go away, this was a solid episode. Basically, it comes down to this: Flash forwards = stupid and Flash backs = useful and interesting (even if they did a poor job of making them all look 10 minutes younger, let alone 10 years)

But the main criticism I had with this one was that we didn't really learn anything new by going back in time. We already knew why Harvey left the DA's office and we pretty much already knew that him and Donna hooked up one time and one time only. And there was no big revelation regarding Mike and his douchebag friend Trevor. I mean, how crazy is it that 10 years prior Trevor was getting Mike into trouble?

I really don't want this show to try to humanize that piece of crap. Not going to work. But any episode that brings back Mike's grandmother is good in my book.

And what a tease ... I thought we were going to learn the full extent of the can opener and the only thing we learned was that they were looking for a new ritual and a waitress happened to walk by as Harvey stole her can opener. I should have known better and not gotten my hopes up.

And yet another shock ... Harvey appears to be going back on his word on taking over the firm and things are on the verge of going back to status-quo. That's USA Network for you!

One last note: Sorry for not posting a review last week. I started writing it, but needed to take a break and just never got back to it. This isn't exactly a groundbreaking take, but reviewing a show can really sap your enjoyment of it. That's definitely at play with me and Suits right now.

QUOTES OF NOTE:

--DONNA: "I'm not into you, I'm Donna."

--EVERYONE: "I'm here, you're here -- do your job."

--HARVEY: "I don't want to find out what kind of lawyer I'd be without you."

--DONNA: "You really do need me to stop doing things like this ... in the future."

--DONNA: "OK, listen Rainman -- you wear lifts in your shoes, you want braces but you don't have the balls and you have a cat ... that you love more than it loves than you.

RANDOM RAMBLINGS:

--Louis is the creepiest dude ever and a complete snake, but it's hard not to love him anyway.

--I'm starting to think Donna is more valuable to a law firm than Harvey would be.

--HAHA, I love that the random dude in the elevator called Louis an asshole. Who doesn't hate that guy?

--At first, I was thinking that Dean could go *$#% himself, but then I realized that he pretty much had every right to be furious and take it out on Mike.

--Cameron is a terrible lawyer. How does he still have a job?


THE GRADE: B



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