Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Supernatural 5x5

Fallen Idols.

After the first 4 drama heavy episodes of this fifth and possibly final season of Supernatural, we are thrown into a much lighter fare, and in some ways this is relieving for the viewer. It is also very telling to long term viewers, showing us exactly how far the show has progressed since it originally aired.

Yes that’s right folks, we have a genuine Monster Of The Week here. Or rather God of the week. Not that deities are a problem for the Winchester boys, they have fought and killed Gods before, but never have they come across one in such a menacing and pure evil form.

This one is in the form of Paris Hilton.

Yes you read that right. Supernatural has always kept its guest stars to a minimum and if they are famous, then the show tries not to push them down our throats. But with this episode, Hilton doesn’t fade away into the background, she is there in your face, saying look at me I’m Paris Hilton guest starring on Supernatural. While that may sound outrageously unpleasant, it works well in the favour of the episodes main themes of celebrity culture.

This malevolent God used to lure people into the ancient forests of eastern Europe, but its forest was destroyed and now it seeks out its victims by posing as the people they most admire.
The opening sequence shows two best friends who have seemingly discovered the Porsche that James Dean crashed, it builds up the menace as we know something horrendous is about to happen, and it does, one man leaves the room momentarily and hears the roar of an engine and screeching tyres, he returns to find his best friend’s head smashed through the top of the windscreen as if he had crashed.

Sam and Dean arrive in town. Dean thinks the car is haunted and even mentions the famous car from Stephen King’s horror story Christine. Dean is still looking over Sam’s shoulder, while I feel he is right to do that given recent events, his behaviour comes off as aggressive and mean rather than concerned. Sam is feeling this pressure too.
Another death occurs, this time a man obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, and the only witness to this grisly murder swears she saw a man with a beard in very tall hat do the deed. The brothers discover there is waxwork museum in town, they head over there and find out each of the dummies has a genuine item that belonged to the original person. Lincoln’s hat and James Dean’ keychain. So they burn the items, believing this will solve the problem and end the killings. This scene has Dean ripping it out of Sam for the person he admires in the museum, none other than Ghandi, Sam tries defend his ‘Idol’ but Dean just finds this hilarious. It is nice to see some humour back in the show, after so much doom and gloom. Obviously a certain amount of darkness is required as the apocalypse is looming, but the lightness of touch here is well received.

Upon returning to the museum Sam is attacked by Ghandi, leading them to realise this is more than ghosts of famous individuals coming back. A call from the perplexed local law enforcer proves this, two girls claim their friend was dragged off by socialite Paris Hilton.

Sam And Dean race back to the waxwork museum and find the girl, they also get their asses hand to them by Paris, who is revealed to be a God posing as peoples idols. Eventually they get the upper hand and defeat the creature.
I think Hilton did a decent job playing a spoilt and vain monster. This is well within her acting range.

All in all, a lighter more comedic based affair, which is a refreshing breath after the recent darkness. And Sam finally forces Dean to stop treating like a child, and try to think of him as an equal, this is important and I wonder how exactly this will affect the status quo between the brother’s.
I have missed episodes like this one, getting to see monsters from folklore and the unique take the show always has on them was fun in the past, and I know the show is focusing on the arc plot at the moment. And while this may not have been the ideal showcase for return to these types of story, I really do miss these types of episodes.
Angels and Lucifer are great for the show, but Supernatural used to be about two brother’s driving across the USA killing demons and creature from our nightmares. The biggest problem at the moment is this; nothing has really been scary or frightening for the viewer for some time. Supernatural has really changed over the years, mostly for the better, but I do find myself missing the things that made me fall in love with this show in the first place.

7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Smallville 9x03 Rabid


Well, I wasn’t expecting anything quite like this from what was essentially a filler episode with no relevance to the main arc. Every now and again this show can surprise viewers by throwing out a blindingly brilliant episode when you least expect it, this is one of those times, in the past Smallville has used stunt casting and brought in popular DC characters to boost ratings and popularity. This episode does neither of those things, instead it use an age old concept that has proven popular for decades, some people complained about it having nothing to do with Superman.
I’m sorry, but who doesn’t want to see Superman battling Zombies?

That’s correct, this week’s villain wasn’t a meteor freak or non beard stroking Kryptonian, Clark and Lois faced off against hordes of zombies in the Daily Planet. On paper I can see why some might have an issue with this, the idea isn’t exactly original in its design. However, what this lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in excellent execution.

Opening sequence. Clark awaking, confused and weak, he enters the deserted streets of Metropolis. We all know this was lifted straight from Danny Boyle’s sublime 28 Days Later. If Smallville wants to start paying tribute to great movies that aren’t comic related why not? As long as it is done properly. Which this was. My only issue was the red eyed Zombies, maybe using the traditional Kryptonite green would have been a better fit. A minor point.
Clark makes his way to the Daily Planet, and in a creepy scene, discovers Lois has turned into a zombie of sorts with all the requisite biting, snapping and snarling. A fantastic opening tease.

I don’t always pay that much attention to the opening credits, but it was nice to see a few scenes on there stretching all the way back to Clark’s heroic deeds in season 1. It is good to see the show hasn’t forgotten where it came from 9 years ago.

On with the episode. I have to admit, the reasoning behind the zombie invasion was somewhat of a letdown, but I will get to that later. We see Tess being attacked in another great sequence that wouldn’t have been out of place in a decent horror flick. She ends up hospitalised and this leads Lois onto the case.
This episode has some significant character development for some, particularly for Lois and Oliver.
Our Green Arrow has truly fallen at this point, leading up to some truly tragic events in the next few episodes. We see Oliver at his lowest, thrill seeking by letting the police chase him, drinking and generally being unpleasant. Yet still he comes across as a semi comic relief, I think this comes mostly from Justin Hartley’s mischievous smile and wit. His Resident Evil line is priceless. But it is during his brief conversation with Lois in the elevator, when he confesses he still has feelings for her, we can really sense his pain, Oliver doesn’t want to be in this situation but his life has forced him on this downward spiral.
Lois doesn’t have too much to do in this episode, no one does really, there is one very revealing scene for her. When she and Clark are trying to escape the Daily Planet bullpen, Clark valiantly struggles against the oncoming storm of zombies, from the expression on Lois’s face she might have seen Clark using his powers to defend her. Now she never brings it up, it is good to see her working out that Clark Kent could very well be the Blur she has fallen in love with. Plus she makes a scary ass Zombie!

As with the past few episodes, the people Clark turns to for help are Chloe and Dr Hamilton. The relationship between Chloe and Clark is still strained with every sentence they share, but they are united in saving lives as always. Emil Hamilton is coming into his own with each passing episode, he is a good addition to the supporting cast and his awe of Clark is charming. The part where Clark whisks him away from Watchtower at superspeed was another highlight. They solve the problem by getting an antidote into the water supply, an antidote made from a sample of Clark’s blood. After the blood is extracted we pick up the story from the beginning of the tease, Chloe and Emil take the Queen Industries jet and let a huge amount of the antidote out into a brewing storm above the city.

This leads to a magical scene where Clark holds the zombie Lois as the curing rain falls all around them, we get a real sense of Clark’s blossoming feelings for Lois, just seeing the way he holds her. So everything turns out alright and the city is cured of the plague. But before the episode is over we get two more revelations.

The scene where Clark berates Oliver for failing to protect Lois, I certainly got the sense what Clark was trying to tell him was finally sinking in, and then Oliver put his Green Arrow costume on the ground and set fire to it. Maybe Clark shouldn’t have been so hard on him, because Oliver is even closer to the edge than before.

The reason behind the zombies, a toxin released by one of Major Zod’s soldiers, against the Major’s wishes I might add. And he is not a man to displease. The purpose of doing so is possibly the feeblest part of this episode, the soldier’s hope to prove there was a Kryptonian in Metropolis, but how did he know Clark would then let someone take a sample of his own blood to cure everyone? This could suggest a real callousness from Zod’s men, or the writers not really thinking beyond the concept.
The soldier’s reward for thinking outside the box? Zod decapitates him. For some reason, I like Callum Blue as Zod, I’m just not sold on Zod as this year’s main villain.

My real highlight from this episode is a short scene between Clark and Oliver, after the motorbike chase with the police. Oliver really tells Clark what he thinks of the new hero act, he compares Clark to a god but not in a nice way. He sees Clark in such a negative light.
At time Smallville can let genuine character changes seem insignificant, but the relationship between these two heroes has completely broken down. Hopefully Oliver will get to a better place, he needs a new costume after burning the old one. Maybe even a sidekick…

All in all, a truly great episode. Great effects, top notch acting from everyone involved, and like I said earlier, Superman fighting Zombies! If the season can maintain this quality and that is a big if because the first 3 episodes have been outstanding, we are in for the best year of Smallville ever.

9 out of 10

Here Come The Reviews

From today onwards I will be reviewing Smallville, Supernatural, Dexter, Californication, Stargate Universe. Even if no one reads them, I will have enjoyed writing them.