39 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Fringe: The Arrival (2008)
Season 1, Episode 4
As the series suddenly gets interesting...
8 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was lukewarm toward this series until this episode. I'd watched the first few, found it reasonably enjoyable but not great, not really grabbing me, and figured I'd give it one more shot before giving up (since I'm not a big TV watcher, and require a series to be more than just reasonably entertaining for me to spend time watching it).

Well, I'm very glad I did stick it out, because with this episode, it just got a whole lot more interesting. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but there were a couple of seriously jaw-dropping moments - the encounter between Peter and his father's friend was one of them, and the other was at the very end.

And now, rather than being on the point of giving up on the series, my only indecision is "Do I have time for just one more episode tonight? I know I've got to do work, but just one more...?" So yes, I think I'm hooked.

If you've watched the first couple of episodes and been undecided on whether it was worth continuing, do yourself a favour and don't decide until after you've seen this one. Things are taking a major turn into mind-bending WTFery, and that's always a good thing in my books.
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Fun as long as you don't take it at all seriously
15 August 2011
I'm kind of astonished by all the harsh reviews of this one... I found it pretty entertaining, albeit in a very silly way.

I think the only way to approach a movie like this one is to realize right from the beginning that ordinary rules of logic are not going to apply, and stop expecting things to be remotely realistic or plausible, because they're not going to be. It's a deliberately ridiculous, over-the-top, screwball comedy, and if you expect any sort of realism or logic from it, then yes, you're going to be disappointed. It seems like some of the other reviewers were expecting something a little more serious and sensible, and I could certainly see how this film could be jarring if that's what you're after.

But if you're just looking for something campy and fun, and are prepared to completely suspend disbelief, then it's definitely worth watching!
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Supernatural: Let It Bleed (2011)
Season 6, Episode 21
A powerful episode, marred by a senseless ending
6 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
For the most part this episode was intense, suspenseful and quite well done - up until the very last few minutes.

Dean's final act with regard to Lisa and Ben makes no sense at all. Removing their memory of him is not going to protect them in any way - quite the reverse! The reason Crowley targeted them is because Dean cared about them - which he still does. Their feelings for him had nothing to do with it. So they're still just as likely to attacked by Crowley or other supernaturals as before - more so, if anything, since Dean's probably angered Crowley considerably, and there's no reason he'd hesitate to make good on his threat to them. The only difference is that now they have no idea what's out there or who to call on for help if something does come after them - so they're actually much more likely to get hurt or killed than they would have been otherwise. They just won't have any idea why it's happening. How, exactly, is this an improvement?

Of course, all that only applies if you assume that the world of Supernatural operates on actual logic. But many past events have shown that logic takes a back seat to drama, emotional impact, and sometimes even mere convenience, so this may have simply been a way of writing them out of the show in a suitably angst-producing way, while leaving open the option of bringing them back at some point if the plot requires it. But in actual story terms, it makes no sense at all, and weakens what would otherwise have been an excellent episode.
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Dollhouse: Man on the Street (2009)
Season 1, Episode 6
6 April 2011
OK, I was lukewarm about this series up until this point. I'd finally started watching it on Netflix because I'd enjoyed a lot of Joss Whedon's other work, but Dollhouse really seemed to be kind of sub-par for him... until now.

This episode is orders of magnitude better than anything that came before it. Breathtakingly intense, and full of alarming twists, turns and shocks that easily rival some of the best of his work on other shows, not to mention hints of much more interesting plot elements than anything seen in the series thus far. He even took what appeared to be a setup for a classic Whedon trope (terrible things always happen to happy people) and twisted it in an entirely unexpected direction.

I don't know if the rest of the series will be able to maintain this standard, but as of now, I'm completely hooked.
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Awesome cheesy fun!
16 February 2011
I can't believe the low ratings this movie has gotten! My girlfriend and I just watched it and we loved it. Sure, it's incredibly cheesy and silly and over-the-top, but you can pretty much tell that from the cover and the entire basic premise of it, so anyone who isn't looking for something completely ridiculous should have known better than to watch it in the first place. I mean, come on. Bollywood martial arts movie! Was anyone really expecting high art? For what it was - a completely silly, campy, somewhat insane piece of fluff - it was really pretty awesome. Tremendously entertaining, with some great comedy, cool fight scenes (though it took a while to get to them - my only real complaint is that it was longer than it really needed to be), enjoyable music and dance scenes, and even something resembling an actual plot. Maybe you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it, but if you are, it's a ton of fun and I'd highly recommend it.
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Could have been better, could have been worse
11 January 2011
It was interesting to see Supernatural tackle fairy lore, which actually has a lot more horror potential than most people realize. If you look at old-school, traditional fairy lore, it's actually pretty dark, and includes some pretty nightmarish creatures. It was the Victorians who began to romanticize them, and then Disney made the cutesy image of the little sprite with wings universally known to the point where that's the only image of fairies that most people have these days. But if you read some of the older tales, or listen to still-current ones in rural Ireland or Scotland, fairies are anything but cute and harmless.

I liked that they touched on a little of that, with the presence of the Redcap who was stalking Dean (Redcaps are a particularly nasty sort of fairy from Scottish folklore, who are known for eating lost travellers, and dye their caps red with human blood), but I was a bit disappointed that they couldn't resist throwing in the Disney version of fairies as well - though I have to admit the fight scene with that one was hilarious, as was the way it was resolved.

The parallels between UFO and fairy abductions have actually been pointed out by quite a lot of people before this - I've seen that topic dealt with by everyone from folklorists to science fiction authors.

Overall, a pretty entertaining episode, though not one with a lot of substance. But someday I'd love to see a show that took full advantage of the horror-potential of traditional fairy lore, without feeling the need to include the stereotypical Disney image.
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A really interesting, thought-provoking episode
16 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I really liked this one, and more so the more I think about it. It had a perfect blend of serious character development and humour, poking fun at Dean's metamorphosis into a Grumpy Old Man, but also delving seriously into Bobby's frustration with his disability, and the dark side of immortality.

I think a lot of my favourite Supernatural episodes have been the ones with the most moral complexity, that don't have clear-cut heroes and villains, and operate more in shades of grey than black and white. And this one is a good example of that. Patrick is a really fascinating character - a villain who's not altogether villainous, and despite being 900 years old, remains very human in some ways. He had no qualms about taking years of people's lives in his magical game, but didn't want to play anyone he knew he couldn't beat without killing them, deliberately folded despite having a better hand when playing the old man who wanted a few more years to see his granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah, and tried to talk Sam out of betting all his years because it was basically suicide.

And it was his humanity that made the ending so heartbreaking - he gave in to Lia's wishes because he knew she didn't want to go on and didn't want to see her suffer, but you could tell it was tearing him apart to do it. Her soft "Thank you" as her years caught up with her, and his head in his hands afterwards, made me tearier than any Supernatural episode since Heart.

I also really liked the handling of Bobby's situation. So often we're subjected to the stereotypes that disability is somehow worse than death, with the implication that disabled people are automatically useless and can't possibly find any meaning or purpose in their lives - and that's very much the view Bobby starts out with. I was initially worried that the episode was going to play into that, with Bobby somehow nobly sacrificing himself to get Dean's years back, on the basis that oh, he's disabled, it's not like he's got anything to live for anyway. But instead we get Dean - having had a taste of being physically less capable than he's used to - telling Bobby that he's not useless and that he doesn't want to hear any more suicide talk.

And he's right - from what we've seen over the span of the whole series, hunting isn't only, or even predominantly, physical. That's certainly a part of it, but there's also a ton of knowledge, research, intuition and investigation that goes into it, and with Bobby's level of knowledge, he's anything but useless. The mental side of hunting is just as important as the physical.

All in all, a really excellent, well-balanced episode, that leaves the viewer with a lot to think about.
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Supernatural: Heart (2007)
Season 2, Episode 17
Brilliant but flawed
23 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There were many things I really loved about this episode, but also a few things I found frustrating about it.

Like Roadkill - in fact, more so, if anything - this one hits peaks of emotional intensity the series rarely has to date. At risk of making an unintentional pun, it was really heart-wrenching. Most of the twists in it weren't really quite as surprising as the writers might have hoped - I guessed the identities of both werewolves well ahead of when they were revealed, although I certainly didn't guess the eventual ending - but that really didn't lessen the impact.

And the acting, from both the main characters and the guest star, was really impressive - probably Jared Padalecki's best performance to date. Also - very, very hot sex scene. Very. As in, it's going to take a cold shower for me to stop replaying it in my head.

So what didn't I like about it? The ending - and no, not just because it was a tearjerker. I have no problem with difficult choices and epic angst levels, or killing off likable characters, IF it makes dramatic sense within the story. But the problem here is that - it DIDN'T.

Here's why: The whole episode took place over the span of one full moon. Usually that's defined as three days, although in this case I think they stretched it out to more like a week. But still, that's a relatively short time. Plus, they didn't figure out Madison was the werewolf, or that she didn't know she was and thus wasn't at fault, until a couple of nights into that period. So what you have is a span of barely a few days, during which we're supposed to believe that the brothers "looked everywhere" and "tried everything" and are ready to give up on there being any possibility of a cure, despite Sam's feelings for Madison.

Come on! Who the hell would write off the life of a loved one with that little time and effort? Particularly when it looked like they spent much more of the time on stakeouts and guard duty than on doing any actual research.

Even the idea of locking her up for the period of the full moon each month (a la Oz from Buffy) was dismissed on the basis that she'd probably eventually find a way out - but even if it wasn't a permanent solution, doing something like that could have bought them some time to search for a cure.

I could see Dean giving up that easily, since his usual response to anything supernatural is to kill it unless there's an excellent reason not to (and sometimes even if there is), but it just felt incredibly unconvincing to me that Sam would have, when he's not only by far the more compassionate of the two but also apparently in love with Madison. To me, that made the whole ending feel contrived - like the supposed necessity of killing her was really there not so much for any valid reason in the context of the story as because the writers wanted to crank out maximum angst from the episode by any means necessary, regardless of whether it actually made sense for the characters or the storyline.

Basically, it turned what was in every other respect a really outstanding story into a cheap exercise in emotional manipulation - and more so because they've done essentially the same thing before. The whole series started out with a double dose of what's variously been called the "Disposable Woman" or "Women in Refrigerators" trope - female characters who basically exist just to die horribly, thereby generating motivational angst for a male character. So having that device used yet again, and under such unconvincing circumstances, shattered the mood of what had up until that point been a really stellar episode, instead leaving me feeling "Oh hell, not THIS again!"

I'm still giving it a high rating, because of the overall intensity and the quality of the acting, but it could have been perfect if the writers hadn't decided to sacrifice logic and plausibility for a little more "Deus Angst Machina"...
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Supernatural: Roadkill (2007)
Season 2, Episode 16
One of the all-time best episodes
23 February 2010
I really, really loved this one. It may begin in standard horror-movie format, but it becomes so much more... Like Bloodlust (another favourite of mine), it nicely challenges the at times simplistic, black-and-white hunter ethos, with Molly's difficult questions about the nature and fate of spirits after she discovers what the vengeful spirit that's stalking her was like as a living man.

There's not much I can say about the ending without spoiling it, except that it was amazing - I think this was the first episode of Supernatural that actually had me in tears, not just because it was sad but ultimately because it was beautiful.

I think this is probably my very favourite episode to date, and an excellent example of the depths this show is capable of when it wants to go there.
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Supernatural: Tall Tales (2007)
Season 2, Episode 15
An entertaining change of pace
23 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Considering the intensity and angst levels of most of season 2, this episode was a refreshing break in the drama. I imagine it must have been a lot of fun for the actors too, being able to basically play parodies of themselves in each other's distorted recollections.

About the only thing I really didn't like about it was the idea that it's supposed to be possible to kill what amounts to a deity with... a pointed stick? Come on, staking vampires at least has some folklore behind it, but I'm not aware of any myth that suggests you can stake gods, or even demigods. That part sounded a bit too contrived - basically just an attempt to force-fit a mythic archetype into the monster-of-the-week mold.

I don't know if the above really counts as a spoiler, but I figure, when in doubt, better to spoiler-tag than not...
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