3. The Doctor (Matt Smith) plays caretaker to a mansion where Madge (Claire Skinner) and her children, Lily (Holly Earl) and Cyril (Maurice Cole), where the family takes shelter from bombing in London during WWII.
2. Madge is hiding from the kids that her husband, a pilot, was killed in action until after Christmas, and the Doctor plans to cheer up the family with a trip through a time-space portal inside a large Christmas gift but it all goes wrong when space-travelling tree harvesters show up to wipe out a forest full of trees with souls.
1. Smith is too manic in a handful of scenes, making the Doctor more irritating than mysterious or exciting, and while Skinner does an excellent job as a widow protecting her family and saving the day, the Doctor doesn’t have much to do and “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” falls well behind the 2010 “A Christmas Carol” as a quality yuletide “Doctor Who” offering.
Season 8, various episodes
5. Butt-head: “The Olive Garden kicks ass, too. If you leave that place hungry, you’re just stupid.”
4. Butt-head, while watching a video by indie pop band Avi Buffalo: “I think this is music for, like, white people who have never had anything bad happen to them. They decided to rebel against their parents by making even softer rock. These guys were like, ‘That music in the elevators is too balls out for us.’ If you, like, cut out all the music and then got rid all of these white people, this would make a really good screen saver.”
3. Beavis: “My favorite flavor is blue.”
2. While watching a mother wearing cleavage-revealing clothes featured in “True Life: I Have Embarrassing Parents 2:” Butt-head: “God gave her that body?” Beavis: “God’s like, ‘Don’t drag me into this.’”
1. Butt-head: “You said, ‘hard.’”
Season 1, Episode 12: “Afterbirth”
5. “American Horror Story” is the most wonderfully twisted family show ever: The season began with the Harmons, a broken family trying to heal, and ended with every member of the family dead and loving it.
3. Ben reunites with dead wife Vivien (Jessica Lange) and dead daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and the trio team up with old maid Moria (Frances Conroy) to scare a new family out of the house before the ghosts, including Kurt Cobain wanna-be Tate (Evan Peters), can kill them.
2. Vivien finds her stillborn child in the care of ghost Nora (Lily Rabe), the wife of the abortionist/Dr. Frankenstein Dr. Montgomery (Matt Ross) who built the house and delivered the Vivien’s twins at the cost of two-thirds of their lives, and reclaims the kid in time for the dead Harmons to settle down with Moria for a Christmas tree decorating party.
1. Constance (Jessica Lange) steals the Antichrist child to raise him and three years later the little bugger is murdering babysitters while his foster mom is out for a hair appointment and viewers, especially the General, yearn for more.
5. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” continues director Guy Ritchie’s fusion of 21st-century special effects with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 19th century detective — a winning formula with the original, which grossed more than $524 million worldwide in 2009.
4. Robert Downey Jr. is again enjoyably pithy and arrogant as the title character, Jude Law returns as the unflappable companion Dr. Watson with cheerful aplomb and newcomer Jared Harris (of “Mad Men” fame) is excellent as Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.
3. Unlike the original, however, the cast’s considerable charms — even the addition of Noomi Rapace (the original “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”) — I was bored by the bare-knuckle brawler incarnation of Holmes and at the risk of being called a fuddy-duddy and bore, I longed for a more cerebral take on Holmes akin to to Steven Moffats’ “Sherlock” BBC miniseries that set the master detective in 2010.
2. The “bullet time” scenes with exploding tree bark were tedious and fight scenes in which Sherlock contemplates the fight in slow motion and then fights it immediately after reminded me of a Bizarro World version Fox Major League Baseball’s hideous pitch-by-pitch recaps in which the same at-bat we just saw live is instantly replayed in fast-motion.
1. That said, the cast does their best with a lukewarm offering, which is worth something, though I’m not sure if it’s the price of admission.
“Sherlock Homes: A Came of Shadows”
Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan and Noomi Rapace
The General’s Grade: C
Season 1, Episodes 11 and 12:
“Occupation” and “Resistance”
5. The dinosaur show without dinosaurs produced an invasion without an invasion in a finale that skipped right over action to occupation.
4. This kind of nonsense shouldn’t be a surprise as “Terra Nova” has been dull and disappointing since its debut.
3. Lucas (Ashley Zukerman), Taylor’s (Stephen Lang) whiny son with daddy issues, invades Terra Nova and takes over, apparently, with a single explosion (at least that’s all that is shown on screen) and the Shannon family, led by their milksop patriarch Jim (Jason O’Mara), escape with the aid of Wash (Simone Kessell), who sacrifices herself in a lightening of the cast payroll devoid of any dramatic flavor.
2. Jim goes back to the future to blow up the portal and Taylor and company repel Lucas, with an assist from Skye (Allison Miller), who shoots Lucas for being a creepy wimp.
1. The professional critics at TVGuide.com debates whether “Terra Nova” should return and the Cancellation Bear at TVbytheNumbers.com lists the show as a “toss up” for renewal, but the General has no such conflicts: The execution order would be signed with only a pang of regret for not getting to see Allison Miller once a week.
Season 1, Episode 11: “Birth”
5. They had a regular ghost-a-palooza at the Murder House in the penultimate episode of the first season of “American Horror Story.”
4. Vivien (Connie Britton) is released from the mental ward but goes into labor three months early — in the house, of course.
3. All the house’s ghosts participate in the birth — including the abortionist Dr. Montgomery (Matt Ross), his wife Nora (Lily Rabe), the nurses slain in a spree killing and others — as one kid is stillborn but the other, likely the Antichrist, survives but the troubled birth adds Vivien to the ghost roster.
2. Violet (Taissa Farmiga) tries to get rid of Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears), but succeeds only in learning that Tate (Evan Peters) murdered them and raped her mother, so she breaks up with him.
1. I’m still riveted by the “America Horror Story,” but it must be getting awfully crowded in the spirit planes of Murder House and one wonders how long it wil be until Ben (Dylan McDermott) either joins them or takes Vivien’s place in the looney bin.
Memphis Paul Russell, the Sultan of Spreadsheets, formally joins the staff of General Tso’s Revenge. Memphis Paul has already penned a few posts, but he’ll be stacking his own paragraphs soon under the byline holstein4life.
Here’s what there is to know about our man, a close, personal friend of General Tso from their days in the basement of Herriott Hall at D+ University. Memphis Paul helped come up with the name for this blog. He shows strong bias for premium cable programs and streaming services. He’ll be writing on those topics and others for the site in future days.
Here’s what he has to say about himself:
“I said that I would write an autobiographical sketch because I had heard that you were a serious man, to be treated with respect. But I must say no to you and let me give you my reasons. It’s true I have a lot of shows I enjoy watching on television, but I wouldn’t enjoy watching them for very long if I reviewed “Two Broke Girls” instead of HBO, which I consider a high-quality vice. But “Two Broke Girls” is a dirty business. It makes no difference to me what a man watches on TV, you understand. But reviewing TV shows and movies is a little dangerous. I’m a superstitious man. And if some unlucky accident should befall HBO, if “Game of Thrones” executive producer George R.R. Martin should be beheaded at Comic-Con, or “The Wire” creator David Simon should produce a sitcom with Chuck Lorre, or if “Deadwood” creator David Milch should become co-producer on “Once Upon A Time” … then I’m going to blame some of the people reading this blog … and that, I do not forgive. But, that aside, let say that I swear, on the souls of the cast and crew of “The Sopranos,” that I will not be the one to break the peace we have made here today.”
Season 1, Episode 12: “Marine One”
5. Claire Danes was magnificent in the finale of “Homeland,” playing Carrie with perfect tone of a brilliant CIA analyst besotted by bipolar disorder but still right about a larger plot against the Vice President (Jamey Sheridan).
4. Saul (Mandy Patinkin) finds the truth in Carrie’s madness and confronts an amoral VP about his order of a drone strike on Abu Nazier’s (Navid Negahban) compound but ills Nazier’s kid who was learning English from POW Brody.
2. “Marine One” deserves recognition for exemplary and accurate portrayal of mental illness — including the use of electroconvulsive therapy as a humane tool in the treatment of some disorders — and Danes truly deserves an Emmy on the strength of her performance as a woman on the edge throughout the series.
1. “Homeland” started slow and wandered off into subplots that became nothing — Saul’s marriage problems, for example — but it picked up in the final six episodes and turned into an outstanding thriller series that earned the preseason praise and beyond.
Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6:
5. I can’t quite decide what to make of “Hell on Wheels.”
4. It is, at times, visually striking, moody and well-acted (especially by Tom Noonan, who plays the former Union soldier turned impassioned preacher).
3. Yet, it’s also dull, muddled and not particularly interesting with tedious rumination on race relations and man vs. machine.
2. In that way, it reminds me of the much-heralded film “There Will Be Blood.”
1. I didn’t like “There Will Be Blood,” in which here was almost no blood, and I feel close to writing off “Hell on Wheels,” but another show that was a mixed bag in the early going this season, “Homeland,” has taught me to give a chance to a show with a few positives amidst some blight so I will keep watching a week at a time, one finger on fast-forward itching to hit stop.
Season 1, Episode 10: Number Crunch
5. “Person of Interest” turned in its most impressive and suspenseful showings before the holiday recess and makes exciting promises for its return next month.
4. Finch’s (Michael Emerson) machine turns up four numbers people who lifted money off a drug dealer (and senator’s son).
3. Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch are too late to save two of the thieves, but find a connection that helps save the others while CIA spooks pressure Det. Carter (Taraji P. Henson) to lure Reese out in the open.
2. Carter turns Reese over, but when the spooks try to eliminate Reese permanently, she helps him escape to a waiting Finch.
1. Reese and Finch have quite the Scooby gang assembled — corrupt cop making amends, Fusco (Kevin Chapman), and now Carter — and the series’ second half appears poised to add a government spy hunt for Reese, a network of collaborators and perhaps more on the origins of Reese and Finch in addition to the usual mystery of the week.
Memphis Paul, the Sultan of Spreadsheets, responds to a recent Rick Reilly column on ESPN.com.
Rick Reilly of ESPN.com asks the site’s readership (apparently without sarcasm) whether they would prefer Tim Tebow or Tom Brady.
I guess the point of this story is to cause a reaction or make people think.
My reaction is to think ESPN is dumb.
Memphis Paul, the Sultan of Spreadsheets, pinch-hits for General Tso on this week’s “Homeland” issue.
Season 1, Episode 11: “The Vest”
5. The penultimate episode of the first season was strong and nicely set up a finale.
4. Claire Danes shines as a manic Carrie in “The Vest.”
3. Still ailing from the aftereffects from the bomb from the previous episode and off her anti-psychotic medication, Carrie becomes obsessive about getting a green pen from hospital staff.
2. Danes straddles crazy and awesome in a scene that highlights her range.
1. She is acting nutty, but she has a point: A green point is worth fighting for, apparently just like America.
Season 6, Episode 11: “Talk to the Hand”
5. It’s hard to imagine another show could be as plot-free as “Entourage,” but “Dexter” may have reached that point.
3. Even in “Mad Men,” the strength of that show is not the plot — plot isn’t a weakness — but is not what makes it a good show.
2. It’s the likable characters in “Dexter,” even if the hero (Michael C. Hall) is a serial killer.