June 13th, 2008


Fear Itself: "Spooked"

Hoo boy. This second episode of Fear Itself was, to put it lightly, a complete mess. It had no sense of subtlety or suspense, the plot was incoherent and the ending was shout-at-the-TV bad. Ex-cop turned private dick Eric Roberts stakes out a cheating husband from a house across the street, a haunted house that shows him all his worst memories and bad things he's done in an attempt to make him kill himself. Or something. The haunted house's motivation keeps changing, to the point where it would have been better to not mention anything at all, really.

Turns out his worst memory is accidentally shooting his brother dead with his cop dad's pistol when they were kids. No wait, that's not it. The worst memory was when cop dad, for -- and I cannot stress this enough -- NO REASON AT ALL, decides they can't tell anyone what happened and he and little Eric Roberts bury his brother in the woods and just tell everyone the boy went missing. Um, what? Again, cop dad gives no reason, saying only, "It's better for both of us this way." Hokay. Cue the guilt phantoms!

Eric Roberts' partner, played by Larry Gilliard Jr. from The Wire, does nothing through the whole episode except preen, listen to music and talk about mackin' the ladies. You know, like all young black men in Hollywood movies. Then at the end he accidentally shoots Eric Roberts. Who dies with an ambiguous smile on his face for, once again, NO REASON AT ALL. Cue end credits!

No, seriously. That's exactly how it ends.

I can't believe Brad Anderson, the director of Session 9, one of my favorite horror movies of all time, had anything to do with this. Oddly, his name isn't listed on the IMDB page for this episode. Maybe he had them take it off.

The scenes from next week's episode look even worse. A man mysteriously trades bodies with an imprisoned killer, then tries to get out of jail to protect his family. Oh, did I mention the good guy and his family are white and the maniac is Hispanic? Thanks for the civics lesson, Hollywood!

I think I'm done with this show. Off the DVR list it goes.

R.I.P. Tim Russert

Tim Russert died of a heart attack today at the age of 58.

Russert struck me as a very intelligent man who always seemed to have a good humor about him. As someone who watches the news regularly, I found him in many ways to be the face of NBC and MSNBC news, and I'll miss seeing his round, friendly, often smiling face. His analysis of the current election season will also be missed. I'm not sure who they'll tap to moderate Meet the Press now, but whoever it is, he or she will have some very big shoes to fill.

Addendum: Hearing Keith Olbermann's voice tremble as he talks about Russert and reads statements from colleagues and politicians on MSNBC right now is utterly heartbreaking.

Doctor Who: "The Unicorn and the Wasp"

Ah yes, the traditional, once a season, Doctor-meets-a-famous-historical-figure-and-influences-them-in-some-history-making-way episode. In season one it was "The Unquiet Dead" with Charles Dickens. In season two it was "Tooth and Claw" with Queen Victoria. In season three it was "The Shakespeare Code" with, well, Shakespeare. While they're not necessarily the apex of any given season, they are routinely charming.

"The Unicorn and the Wasp," where the Doctor meets Agatha Christie and Donna accidentally gives her a ton of plot ideas, is no exception. A delightful episode, especially for fans of Christie's brand of drawing room mystery. Though once again the alien threat, a giant shape-shifting wasp, is more silly than frightening. But overall, lots of fun.

Season four seems to be trending upward after getting off to a rocky start with "Partners in Crime," "The Fires of Pompeii" (which admittedly wasn't as terrible as "Partners"), "Planet of the Zoidbergs Ood" and "The Sontaran Stratagem." And the next episode, "Silence in the Library," looks downright awesome.

Also, this season's Bad Wolf seems to be the oft-mentioned Medusa Cascade. I'm eager to see how that plays out. And just what the heck it is!