Thursday, November 10, 2011

"CSI" Season 12, Episode 7: That ol' brain drain

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM

This week "CSI" was a bundle of ideas thrown together in a lightning fast explosion that couldn't balance interesting with 'followable.'

We had a fast food joint car accident, a war veteran's corpse being de-brained postmortem, a doctor murdered in his car, and a professional fighter who committed suicide.

And then of course the clincher: The brains that ended up all over the place.

In a web that even Charlotte couldn't untangle, one scene had an extra brain with no body, one scene had a body with no brain, and any attempt by the CSI's to try to locate which brain went where only made everybody run in circles.

Interesting idea, though I think it would have been better if they had they stuck with the original "We may have a brain thief" thought. Instead, we got a plot where the person who committed suicide had donated his brain to science to be tested for disease, and somebody somewhere wanted to make sure to switch that brain out to cover up something. Still intriguing, just a lot more complicated.

But, as interesting as the plot was, it stepped all over itself. People crisscrossed in and out of the spotlight so fast it was hard to keep track of everybody involved, let alone try to figure out who was responsible. As more and more people ended up dead the pool narrowed, but it was a constant parade of names, even more so than usual.

Now that I think of it, I'm not really sure they even wrapped up why the brain switching happened in the first place. I think the trainer was doping his athletes and that's why he wanted to switch the brain, but they ended up only getting him for the murder of the doctor who he hired to do the brain switching. I don't think he actually ever confessed to hiring the doctor though. Anyways, like I said, it was a hard episode to wrap your...wait for it...brain around.

Also, apparently the crime lab can now use their iPhones to take pictures of shoe impressions, email them back to the lab, and use them for comparison purposes. Now come on, the resolution on the iPhone isn't that good, and I have a feeling that kind of shoddy work wouldn't hold up long in court. I digress, however.

Oh, and then there was the Hail Mary pass football that was found in the fast food accident driver's car. The problem was the show spent so much time hammering to death how it wasn't an important piece of evidence that you just knew it was going to end up being important. And it did break the case, which would have been clever if I hadn't already been hit in the head with passes from that clue for the past 40 minutes.

We finally also got some, drum roll please...character development! And since we get so precious little of it, let's dig into it a bit.

I have to be a man and admit I was wrong: We finally got introduced to Russell's (Ted Danson) son, Charlie (Brandon W. Jones). We had a few scenes of the two of them together, and one where Russell talked to his wife on the phone (so I was wrong on two counts it seems), but I wasn't sure what to make of any of the interactions. His son was late for the basketball team's curfew and then got suspended for a game, and him and Russell laughed about how they were both new kids on a 'team' and were weird. We already knew Russell was weird, so I'm still thinking there is something to keep an eye on about his family. Regardless, I am shocked with how much I am enjoying Russell's character, so kudos to Danson and the creative team behind him for finally creating a new enjoyable supervisor.

The other important piece of the puzzle that we finally got was what appears to be Catherine's (Marg Helgenberger) get out of jail free card. In an oddly brief scene with the Sheriff (Barbara Eve Harris), who checked in to see how Catherine was doing after being demoted from supervisor, she told Catherine that she recommended her for a new research position that would require her to leave the team in Vegas.

That was all we got, which was a little bit of a letdown. Catherine isn't gone yet, but after her explosive argument eons ago at the start of the season, I was really hoping for more of a blowout, not an outside force changing her career plans. Time will tell, time will tell.

Anyways, perhaps the writers let the ideas go to their heads this week, as it ended up being a pretty lackluster episode overall. There was a shocking eleventh hour twist though, which the show is doing a good job at capturing again, so at least that was something notable.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"South Park" Season 15, Episode 13: Attack the stuffing mines!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 4:00 AM

There’s usually at least one low point in every “South Park” run, and this week just didn’t do it for me.

It was a great concept, and a pretty funny idea, but it just seemed the longer the episode went on the more it got caught up in itself and stopped being funny. Add to the fact that it felt like several other out of this world warfare plots, and you end up with perhaps the most lackluster episode we’ve seen this half a season.

Thanksgiving was the theme of the day: The show started with a Native American guest speaker in class. He assigned a report that all the kids had to do on the truth behind Thanksgiving. Cartman, lazy as always, insisted that they could learn just as much about Thanksgiving if they watched the History Channel instead of reading.

The History Channel ended up being the butt of most of the jokes, and it starts off pretty spot on. From mocking the channel’s oversensationalism and sometimes laughable incredible use of ‘credible’ historians, it was off to a good start. The professor of DeVry University joke was well done, even if it was somewhat run into the ground.

And it was funny, but the laughs were very top loaded, and the episode just spiraled out of control from there. Kyle accidently predicted that aliens were involved with Thanksgiving, and that both the Pilgrims and the Indians were alien races that met on Earth to make a peace treaty that up until now was keeping intergalactic peace. Now, with the leader of the Pilgrims sucked to earth through a wormhole, the Indians were free to attack the stuffing mines.


Weird? Yeah. It was, and it just kept going and going, without ever really hitting any high point or bringing in any more laughs. It drew in some other targets, including “Thor,” but like, did anybody really go see that movie? I understand the History Channel spoofs, but I was under the impression Thor made enough of a mockery of itself. The Natalie Portman ‘wormhole’ bit was somewhat entertaining, at best.

Especially with the timing of the episode, the latter half of it just seemed off kilter. Several times the show pointed out that Thanksgiving was still a few weeks away, which only further honed the point that it seemed a little early. Was there really nothing else more newsworthy or time sensitive for SP to piss on this week? I mean, “Thor” and Natalie Portman? I know you can do better than this, and you’ve been doing it for most of this part of the season.

But, it just seemed like a good idea that was undercooked. I liked the whole Pilgrims and Indians planet worlds they built up, but it felt all too familiar even as crazy as it was. It wasn’t as funny as the Go God Go saga, and it even echoed back to the Pinewood Derby episode. Now, if they had brought back everybody’s favorite Thanksgiving character, a certain Mr. Starvin Marvin, then I think I could have really gotten behind this episode, and he would have fit the alien theme to boot.

Anyways, if this is the low point for the back half of the season, I’ll take it. I just hope Matt Stone and Trey Parker are back with something a little more relevnet and pointed next week.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"South Park" Season 15, Episode 12: Occupy the restroom!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Poor Cartman.

Usually the one throwing the insults, this week was a giant blow against the overweight and rabble rousing force behind many of South Park’s more extreme moments.

And, in true SP charm, it came with a take on the Occupy Wall Street movement that was spot on genius. See, all the students in South Park Elementary took the Presidential Fitness Test, but apparently one student was so fat and out of shape that he made the school’s scores the lowest in the nation. Who else would have connected current politics with those dumb high school p.e. tests we all had to go through? I really enjoyed how they played with the idea-it’s nice when we are reminded the boys are just 4thgraders after all.

The students, led by Butters and Jimmy, decided that they, all being in the 99% that passed the test, shouldn’t be held accountable for Cartman’s 1% pulling them down. Off to the Fitness Test offices they headed, in hopes of appealing the scoring decision.

Occupy Red Robin soon commenced, in what is some of the best commentary on the whole movement that I’ve seen. It was spot on, and hilarious, including the police taking up blocks of streets(and including a Bon Jovi concert for the overworked officers) and the media reporting on it like there was no tomorrow. Even Michael Moore made an outrageous appearance, which was worth it for the sight gag if nothing else (and he was quite a sight.)

We all had Clyde Frog dolls growing up, right?
  • We all had Clyde Frog dolls growing up, right?

Cartman, soft skinned as always, turned to his lovely stuffed animals for support after all the kids started ripping into him. We saw the return of Clyde Frog (SP is sure bringing in a lot of older references this half of the season, but I’m liking it), Polly Prissy Pants, and even Peter Panda(got to love the pun).

In what seems to be revenge for him bringing the scores down, one by one, his beloved stuffed animals are met with disastrous fates. He ends up hiding in shelter at Tolkien’s, after the realization that he is getting blamed for a test that was unfairly made by President Obama. In his head this rationalizes out that all black people are immune from any criticism, and while he made that point several times it was still pretty spot on given the political movement discussions of late.

As the episode reached the end it did begin to lose sight. The protesters (who by now had erupted into ‘class warfare’ between the 5th graders and 4th graders, ending with some funny percentage jokes) were much funnier then Cartman’s plot line, and I hate to say it, but I called it that Cartman was really the one killing off all his stuffed animals.

There wasn’t really any point there, Kyle simple noted that Cartman finally killed all his play toys after the rest of the kids made fun of him and told him to grow up. It just was too predictable: Few characters on the show are brave enough to fuck with Cartman, and it even echoed Mr. Garrison’s self-sabotage of Mr. Twig eons ago.

The way the ending was set up it did feel like it was parodying somemovie or another that I just couldn’t place, so that may have to do with my disconnect.Happens sometimes.

Ending aside, South Park has continued its good streak, and managed to give a fair shit on current politics while at it. I’d put it ahead of last week’s Broadway spectacle, but it’s still trailing behind my season favorite Lemmiwinks adventure. But, what do you all think? Did the ending work for any of you? (Did anybody catch the reference I missed?) And what are your thoughts on this half of the season so far?

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