On Movies: ‘Avengers 2: Age of Ultron’ expanded trailer


There are many things to enjoy in this trailer. My favorite moment, however, is when the Avengers are hanging out trying to lift Thor’s hammer. I love the look on Thor’s face when Captain America actually jiggles the hammer, proving he just might be worthy.

5-sentence review of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Fractured House’

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” | Season 2, Episode 6: “A Fractured House” | Date: Oct. 28, 2014

  1. What a dull, plodding and sloppy show like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” needs is cheap soap opera romantic melodrama.
  2. Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) used to be married to Lance (Nick Blood) and now that they’re reunited as outlaw S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, they use every opportunity to squabble as if the field mission is such a wonderful place for former spouses to work out the differences.
  3. Then there is the whole Clarice-Dr. Lecter relationship between Skye (Chloe Bennet) and traitor, Grant (Brett Dalton) and — watch out! — great is loose and more dangerous than ever.
  4. And finally we have the tortuous science nerd longing between Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), that’s gone on so long I can’t imagine anyone cares whether they get together or not.
  5. The real news this week was the trailer for “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron” was released during the commercials, which, when you think about it, is perfect for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,”  a series that is essentially a 22-hour trailer for Marvel movies.

5-sentence review of ‘Sleepy Hollow: And the Abyss Gazes Back’


Sleepy Hollow” | Season 2, Episode 6: “And the Abyss Gazes Back”
| Date: Oct. 27, 2014

  1. Memphis Paul, co-founder of General Tso’s Revenge, were teleconferencing during the Monday Night Football Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Racists when my TV autotuned to “Sleepy Hollow.”
  2. “You’re still watching ‘Sleepy Hollow’?’ Memphis Paul asked incredulously.
  3. I was, I said, but I could not offer a good reason why.
  4. I watched the first few minutes of what appeared to be Crane (Tom Mison) and Mills (Nicole Beharie) doing yoga.
  5. I was momentarily transfixed by multiple gratuitous shots of Beharie’s cleavage, but when the scene passed I went back to watching the football game, during which I promptly fell asleep.

5-sentence review of ‘The Blacklist: The Mombasa Cartel’


The Blacklist” | Season 2, Episode 6: “The Mombasa Cartel” | Date: Oct. 27, 2014

  1. NBC wants you to believe the big reveal in this week’s episode of “The Blacklist” was that Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), the worst FBI agent ever, kept her amoral former husband Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) locked in a room for an untold period of time.
  2. Except that anyone paying attention already knew Tom was in that closet and if you didn’t, you are as stupid as the writers think you are.
  3. This show is in marked decline in quality.
  4. The biggest problem is not enough James Spader, whose performance as Red is the only reason to watch the series — and even that is quickly being diminished to scenes of him taking his hat on and off.
  5. The next biggest problem is they mysteries have obvious answers or aren’t good enough to be compelling and thus must be let out with an eyedropper over 22 episodes instead of getting on with the story.

5-sentence review of ‘Gotham: Spirit of the Goat’


Gotham” | Season 1, Episode 6: “Spirit of the Goat” | Date: Oct. 27, 2014

  1. “Spirit of the Goat” was the best episode of “Gotham” to date, by which I mean it was actually good against five previous mediocre-to-poor episodes.
  2. I am convinced this episode was better largely because there was less Jada Pinkett Smith, who plays mobster Fish Mooney, and is very bad in the role.
  3. Without Pinkett Smith’s Fish stinking up the place, I appreciated the dynamic between Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) and the subtleties of the performance of Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot.
  4. Heck, I was even interested in Carol Kane playing Cobblepot’s creepy, smothering mother, who watches her adult son bathe.
  5. So the way forward for “Gotham” is clear: Kill Fish Mooney and let the other characters, and the audience, breathe.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Four Walls and a Roof’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof” | Date: Oct. 26, 2014

  1. I’m becoming immune to the senseless violence of “The Walking Dead.”
  2. By “immune” I mean “desensitized to.”
  3. And by “desensitized to” I mean “bored by.”
  4. After about 30 minutes worth of build-up, the Hunters — survivors who have resorted to cannibalism —  confront Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his merry band of righteous murderers, who dispatch the Hunters in full splattervision.
  5. I would like to say this skull-stomping session had any kind of emotional resonance or even advanced what passes for a plot on this series, but really it was just more of the same.

5-sentence review of ‘Madam Secretary: The Call’


Madam Secretary” | Season 1, Episode 6: “The Call” | Date: Oct. 26, 2014

  1. When a bloodthirsty regime threatens to kill 50,000 people in West Africa, a priest uses his connection to Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s (Téa Leoni) husband to get an audience with her.
  2. Elizabeth gives a rousing speech about the pending atrocities to a panel of foreign leaders, indirectly disobeying President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine), who told Elizabeth intervention was not a national priority.
  3. Elizabeth scrambles to make a deal for ground troops from the African Union backed by U.S. air support, but the priest who sought the McCords’ help is connected to drug trafficking.
  4. The priest argues to Henry McCord (Tim Daly) that the only way to save lives in the war-torn nation is through bribery and using refugees as drug mules, but Henry is angry over the deception and Elizabeth nearly loses her job after tying the President to a drug dealer.
  5. The short of it is everybody lives thanks to Elizabeth’s signature deal-making — a dramatic move I have largely criticized in watching this series — but somehow I found this episode more affecting, with strong writing that thoughtfully considered the reasons why the first world does not always rescue the third world.

5-sentence review of ‘Gracepoint: Episode 4′


Gracepoint” | Episode 4 | Date: Oct. 23, 2014

  1. I think I would like “Gracepoint” better if I could binge watch it the way I did “True Detective” and “The Wire,” uploading great gulps of plot and character.
  2. I like the series a lot and it’s easily the best narrative on television this fall despite a small audience that has shrunk each week since its debut.
  3. “Gracepoint” is miscast on network TV.
  4. The network TV audience is much like the talk radio audience: They’re interested in quick and simple, things that comfort them and reassure what they already believe.
  5. “Gracepoint,” though inferior to “True Detective” and “Fargo,” isn’t meant for a general audience because they don’t want it; This show belongs on FX or Netflix.

Morning Mixtape: ‘Glory of Love’ by Peter Cetera

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These Morning Mixtapes are a misnomer on weekends. I posted a photo of Elisabeth Shue in this week’s Saucy Sunday. She ditched Danielson at the beginning of “Karate Kid II.” That’s a shame. But Danielson fell in love with another girl overseas and was backed by this terrific love song by Peter Gabriel, one of my favorite slow dance songs.