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Notable for the guest star
This episode is a bit jarring and out of sync with Homicide's standard format and not one of the shows strong episodes.
However, it is an interesting episode for fans of Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice etc).
Bayliss and Pembleton are tapped by Giardello and the FBI to anticipate and assist in the hunt and capture of a spree killing working his way up from Florida north on I-95.
The twist reveal that concludes the episode is well supported by visual and audio evidence hidden in plain sight throughout the episode, which, considering the potential ridiculously clichéd nature of the reveal serves as a counterpoint and a bit of nyah-nyah-so-there to naysayers.
While a weak episode for Homicide it must be noted that this would be a standout episode for any contemporaneous (or even more modern) crime show.
Aaaaand It's BACK
This episode finally meshes all the exposition and new characters into a pleasantly action packed, funny, heartrending and thoroughly entertaining cocktail reminiscent of the best episodes of the past.
Rex and Jack get snippy about who's in charge, Esther and Gwen bond, loads of jokes and comments about British English and American English fly fast and furious, action and conspiracy are rife hand in hand with opportunistic jokes. It's good times.
This is also the by-now-infamous episode with a sex scene cut down by the BBC. Now, to be clear, there are two scenes interwoven, Rex having sex with a female character and Jack having sex with a male character. Both basically involve chitchat, kissing (with implied oral sex between Jack and his partner) and then quick cuts with thrusting.
Really, the best part is post coital drunk Jack calling Gwen all maudlin and desperate because he's still mourning Ianto and drunkenly attempting to confront his new-found mortality in the face of everyone else suddenly having a chance to out live him. Gwen (inadvertently?) hangs up on him to talk to Rhys and her daughter Anwen via videochat.
Plot wise the team learns that a drug company has a suspiciously ginormous supply of a painkiller that is not a narcotic and therefore perfectly tailored to the brave new world. It's pretty firmly established by the end of the episode that if the company isn't the *actual* big bad then it and the big bad are totally BFFs and play golf on the weekends.
Meanwhile Dr. Juarez confronts a cop in her E.R. over not being able to charge anyone with murder as she has a patient whose husband strangled her so hard and thoroughly that her brain was rendered to mush and her hyoid bone is powdered, the roughly 50% of otherwise non-viable pregnancies that naturally spontaneously abort no longer are resulting in children being born with horrific birth defects, China and India are introducing contraceptives into the water supplies and at least one doctor with a religious agenda is freaking out over it all.
Jack confronts Danes. Danes becomes the drug company's unofficial spokesperson in return for protection from the mobs. The team attempts to spread word about the role of the drug company but are stymied at every turn. Jack and Rex have a spat over TW's mortality rates and Rex tries to argue that TW no longer exists. Later Jack sneeringly calls Rex out for running off in a huff and accuses Rex of, 'not liking his jokes too gay' whereupon Rex claims that he just doesn't like it 'when a man in his forties acts like he's in his twenties'. Esther freaks out a bit as she's not used to the field and worries she's slowing everyone else down, she's also worried about her older but unstable sister and how she'll do without Esther in her life now that Esther is on the run with TW.
It's the best episode of Miracle Day to date, the disparate group is actually becoming a team and finally making some progress on discovering more about the Miracle. The past members of the team are acknowledged more than once including Jack's relationship with Ianto, and the action is most enjoyable. Danes is a slimeball extraordinaire.
A highlight for me was the verbal interplay between Esther and Gwen early on that acted as a shorthand primer/reminder that the original audience and heart of the show are British and the newcomers are the Yanks. Esther serves as Gwen's de facto translator and such things as the difference between American lemonade (flat) and British lemonade (evidently fizzy) are brought to light in a nice nod to the show's new international audience.
Bottom line? If you were upset or annoyed by the first two episodes being slow, exposition heavy, 'Americanized' (still not sure just what that means, or losing the feel of the old Torchwood, reserve judgement until this episode at the least.
Torchwood: Miracle Day: Rendition (2011)
More action less exposition!
Jack, Gwen, Rhys and their baby daughter arrive at an airport escorted by local police, Rex,and another CIA spook. Rex splits up Gwen's family, this is one of the few logical things Rex does, although admittedly his actions grow more logical as the episode continues.
Gwen and Jack load up on the plane along with Rex and his female compatriot. They are offered refreshments by an amusing bit character I shall dub Danny the conflicted gay steward.
Gwen bawls out Jack for taking his sweet time coming back and leaving her stewing, she mentions that she felt like she'd been pulled out of a fairy story. She asks Jack if his absence had made things easier, Jack doesn't answer. She does grudgingly admit that she missed him.
Danny is skittish around Gwen and Jack assuming they're terrorists as they're the only ones in large transatlantic aircraft and they're in handcuffs guarded by CIA agents - not much of a stretch really.
Jack and Gwen bitch out Rex for strong arming them instead of just asking them for help. Then Jack launches into a tirade about morphic fields and points out that the event behind Miracle Day occurred simultaneously worldwide.
Rex's compatriot overhears the exchange and contacts her handlers who respond with a single directive, remove. It is also revealed that one of her handlers, a middleman, is overseeing Esther and Rex's section. Shortly after the flunky on the plane rats out Jack's theory a team of strangers cleans out Rex's office and Esther is setup for espionage charges, she manages to flee the CIA building and make contact with Rex at the US airport where their flight lands.
Jack demands refreshment and Danny is authorized to give them water, Jack puts up a fuss and claims that as an American and a member of the great trade hegemony he should be allowed a frosty cola. The other CIA agent takes the opportunity to slip Jack a fatal mickey. Seriously some of the best scenes are between various people on the plane and hapless but sympathetic Danny.
Jack rapidly sickens while the other agent puts up a minimal objection to the accusation of poisoning. Gwen and Jack make an educated guess that Jack's been poisoned with arsenic. Rex calls his doctor and he, Gwen, Danny and a female flight attendant set about Macgyvering a recipe for a keylation solution. It also burns like a son-of-a-bitch sending Jack into shrieking paroxysms but saving his life. Gwen gets to punch out the poisoner and then gets cuffed and dumped back in her seat by Rex-the-not-quite-a-total-idiot Meanwhile a shady and ambitious PR/pharmaceutical rep shows up and interacts with the incredibly creepy Dane Oswald a recently released death row inmate. He shoots her down when she offers to represent him and make him rich. Dane earlier appears on a national live news show and breaks into a sobbing apology for his actions claiming he'd been too frightened before to apologize. Whether his reaction is an act or genuine it softens hearts in surprising places. Dane is played by Bill Pullman and the scene is pretty hard to watch, he basically completely loses it.
The rep then approaches Rex's doctor about a regulation regarding pain medication. The doctor has rightly surmised that in the brave new world of post-Miracle Day existence pain killers will be needed in unprecedented amounts to keep patients that should be dead from suffering in unimaginable agony. She also, earlier, rewrites the rules for her E.R. intake and triage to reflect the need to rotate out those with minimal injuries ASAP to save beds at her hospital. The medical community also realizes that human beings have become massive petri dishes for the development of virulent drug resistance microbes. A very short scene mentions that Israeli scientists and some others suspect that something like an alien virus may be responsible for the Miracle. It is also discerned that humans are still aging.
This episode has a great deal more action, though, admittedly no helicopter chases on open beaches ending with explosions.
The race to save Jack is surprisingly action packed as is Esther's escape from the CIA. There is one fight scene with Rex and Torchwood facing off against the poisoner and her fellow goons.
I was pleased that Gwen and Jack at least put up a fuss about being Shanghai'd out of the UK by US government spooks. Sadly no logical explanation was forthcoming though it was mentioned that both the US and UK governments were asking questions and Rex had to load Jack and Gwen quickly if he hoped to get them to US airspace.
There is no further explanation as to why the Retcon might not have worked on Esther.
One scene that bothered me but was so amusing I didn't really bother is after Esther and Rex hang up at the airport Rex proceeds to baffle the poisoner's crew with bullshit as he uncuffs Gwen and Jack. But this leads to the fight scene and the poisoner's neck being snapped like a twig, lemme tell you seeing a woman with her head on backwards trying to walk is enough to do your head in.
For the record I'm an American but I have family in the UK and have watched Torchwood regularly from the first season on including the audio dramas.
Considering that this is an extraordinarily British show trying to make the tremendous leap to the transatlantic mainstream the writers have done a competent job of defining what Torchwood is while introducing the complexities and unforeseen problems inherent in a world where no one dies.
Critically injured patients, horrifically maimed and burned patients, the cancer riddled etc not only don't die but also appear to fail to heal. It is projected that within as little as four months human society will have collapsed as no one continues to die and babies continue to be born leading to a world wide food supply failure.
The opening episode is necessarily exposition heavy but most of the exposition is handled competently during high action sequences such as when a CIA Agent Rex Matheson played by Mekhi Phifer takes two lengths of steel pipe to the chest while driving in the rain at night and yammering away to his assistant Esther, he survives a punctured heart and collapsed aorta. Later he and Esther also relay a great deal of exposition via phone while Rex races around tracing the term and eventually the institute Torchwood. A lot of the exposition occurs via phone calls between the two while Matheson traces Gwen Cooper to an isolated cottage in Wales. Jack Harkness himself even shows up and provides more background while speaking with Rex's assistant after she digs up information on Torchwood and the two survive an assassination attempt, until, of course, he Retcons her.
The opening episode closes with Jack pointing out that while the rest of humanity is no longer dying he is no longer healing. The remnants of Torchwood are then rounded up by UK police officers and transferred into Matheson's custody to be transported to the U.S. in order to investigate Miracle Day.
A few things that were nice continuity wise were that Jack claims to be an FBI agent and introduces himself as Agent Owen Harper at one point and while investigating Torchwood it is revealed that they have authority over 456 cases and above. Whether that is literally a reference to the villains from Children of Earth or not hasn't been revealed yet but was a nice nod either way. There were also a couple incidents of Wales 'bashing' by Rex Matheson (who, to be fair, is established to be a prick as in the opening he is crowing over a job opening he will receive as his rival's wife has been diagnosed with cancer) which I assumed was meant to be a shout out to the area but it was a bit weird. They did convey the perpetual American confusion over the U.K. vs. England Vs. Wales etc which was cleverly done.
For me, there were a couple of inconsistencies.
One, the apparent failure of the State of Kentucky to schedule the execution of one character at 12:01 AM on the day of his execution. While it is not a requirement that a prisoner be executed as soon as possible on the scheduled date that is usually how it is handled AFAIK.
The second was the fact that somehow the CIA not only had the unilateral ability to capture or draft citizens of the UK (Jack states in the opening episode of Torchwood season one that he's a citizen) but that they can do this to persons privy to extremely secure highly classified information and activities. How the hell does that work? Rex does refer to the action as a 'Rendition' which is further confusing as a rendition is usually defined as a translation or interpretation unless someone is making soap or otherwise dealing with animal fat. In a word, WTF? Further, Matheson cites what is evidently a U.S. code of some kind to do so, one would think that, if the CIA were able to legally do this, they would cite some kind of U.N. or U.K. law in order to do so as it's awfully difficult to argue for U.S. sovereignty on foreign soil over foreign citizens. O.o Third, after being Retconned Esther shows up late to work and brushes it off as 'I had some things to do' at the C.I. freaking A. I mean, really now, I worked fast food in High School and that excuse wouldn't have flown THEN.
The final niggling point was the apparent failure of the Retcon Jack uses on Esther. It may be that this is an unforeseen side effect of Miracle Day, that is just as people don't seem to be healing from fatal injuries or conditions they also are now immune to Retcon? Alternately it could be that the episode actually occurs over more than 24 hours which is reasonable as in the opening Rex is driving at night, roughly a third of the episode later Esther is digging through the CIA archives at night (this may be the same night) and later after a roughly 8-10 hour flight by Rex the remnants of Torchwood are taken into custody by Rex Matheson - at night outside the old Hub in Cardiff.
Additionally Esther's memory may be jogged when someone brings her a file about Torchwood the following day when she arrives late to work. She seems to be confused about the role of Torchwood shortly thereafter while speaking with Rex over the phone but not as confused as one might expect after being Retconned. Finally this is the first episode of 10 it's entirely likely that this will be addressed in the next episode Rendition.
All in all a very watchable and surprisingly well handled opening episode complete with a helicopter chase and rocket launchers. Good times :)
Move over Shaun of the Dead
I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of ZMD at the Revenant Film Festival in Seattle this past weekend (sept 26th). I had seen clips of the film at the Crypticon Horror Convention in June and was eagerly awaiting the movie. I was NOT disappointed.
The movie is a blast for any horror fan, laughs, scares, and gore abound the story is tight and coherent and the effects are laudable and professional. There are a lot of timely political jokes and themes but do not shy away, this is not Michael Moore + Zombies. No one is egregiously bashed but the message is clear, timely, and hysterical.
Move over Shaun of the Dead you've got competition. The fact that this flick has not had a wide release (as of yet) is astounding. In a world overrun by low brow derivative 'horror' this is a true gem of intelligent, dedicated, independent creation. A salute to smart horror fans the world over.
GO SEE ZMD!
The Breed (2001)
If you can look around, over, or through Woodbine's horrible acting...
It's a great movie. Bai Ling and Adrian Paul deserve huge amounts of credit for maintaining their roles and carrying the miasma of authoritarian Gothic goodness while that idiot Bokeem Woodbine savages every line he has, fails to even swear in an appropriate or at least believable manner and basically attempts to single-handedly ruin the movie. His performance is atrocious.
That said, the movie is quite good. It has a cold war/Eastern Bloc/orwellian vibe with hints of art deco and the 40s thrown in as well. the plot is interesting and fairly innovative.
Anyone who is a fan of films like blade runner, citizen X, etc would do well to check this out as well as any mainstream horror fans. Don't let Bokeem get in the way its definitely worth a view. For an extra treat rent or buy the DVD and check out the audio commentaries.
Everything below the line is my review from '07 regarding the first season of Torchwood. While I won't say that the about face in the quality of the show was overnight or revolutionary but it did happen and was noticeable. From the poorly justified train wreck of a show unleashed on audiences in the first season to the current excellent run of Miracle Day, and particularly the gut wrenching Children of Earth this show is solid entertainment.
Yes the first season is highly ridiculous in many ways, it's still extremely watchable and if you can get past that then keep going because each season is, imo, better than the last.
********************************************************************* I suspect this was a good idea on paper. However the truly gratuitous sex and poorly paced swearing are distracting, yes you're an adult show that can do those things but an intelligent viewer still wants justification.
The characters are unlikable and two dimensional at best, the hero is only any good when he's playing off the Doctor and his Companion in Dr Who. Otherwise he lacks the charisma and appeal of a lead for an entire series, although he is wonderful in Dr. Who. Plus his story is mishandled, his missing two years which played an important motivation for his character in the Empty Child are not addressed at all.
The plots and subplots leave the characters tarnished and unlikable, they are shallow, bitter, and angry, and seem willing to violate every trust between each other and their significant others.
Jack Harkness was great in his reappearance on Dr. Who for the last three episodes of season three, if Torchwood doesn't get off its rear and start producing the quality we know is available at the BBC then it should be quietly muffled and not renewed.
As it stands it is a travesty to link this mismanaged, half assed, quick cash in of a train wreck to Dr. Who in anyway.
White Noise 2: The Light (2007)
Shame on Keaton
If I were Michael Keaton and I watched this film I would pack my bags and go to producing. Nathan Fillion succeeds immeasurably, his character is admirable, sympathetic, BELIEVABLE, and heroic. You actual feel for Abe and his pain, you share his sense of aghast horror at the events in the opening scene, he manages to lend credibility and draw the audience into a story that is like any sf or horror story, unbelievable.
Keaton's performance on the other hand was flat, wooden, and ridiculous.
The film was also put together in a much more coherent and believable way. Instead of obscurity and disjointed exposition this story flows and maintains an excellent sense of tension and intrigue. Well done Nathan Fillion and company.
This is definitely one of the rare occasions where the sequel stomps the original.
The Last Sin Eater (2007)
Small but excellent
First off the budget is small so be kind. Its a pretty solid story although it probably could have been fleshed out and feels a little disjointed in places. It is still a solid film and an excellent addition for fans of Christian films, unlike many Christian films it does not whitewash its message.
The best part of the film is the performance of Peter Wingfield as the Sin Eater. While he is almost a minor character as far as screen time his performance makes the film. His voice is so sorrowful in his scenes (he is hidden for the majority of the movie) that you could just sob for him. His pathos is spot on. He is not overly dramatic but succeeds in selling the believability of the film.
The Void (2001)
Not so bad
Okay, its got no budget, that said. Its pretty dang impressive. The chemistry between Amanda Tapping and Adrian Paul is endearing and believable. Their scenes together are utterly believable, and okay yeah the black hole doesn't actually appear until the last ten minutes or so of the flick and it's pretty silly but hey its a low budget flick, I mean if you pay attention there's only like three locations. That said, its a lot of fun, well worth renting or buying if its under $10. Plus for any Adrian Paul fans its well worth it as he has numerous entertaining one liners. So don't go into it expecting Armageddon and you're good to go. And Amanda Tapping has a great line, "I guess that's what you get when you build a relationship on sex and tuna fish sandwiches".