5-sentence review of ‘Doctor Who: In The Forest Of The Night’


Doctor Who” | Series 8, Episode 10: “In The Forest Of The Night” | Date: Oct. 25, 2014

  1. In interviews before Series 8 began, Peter Capaldi mentioned that we would struggle to understand his incarnation of the Doctor until midway through the series and that has proven to be spot on.
  2. In both “Flatline” and this week’s “In The Forest Of The Night,” we finally begin to understand the testiness that accompanies the 12th incarnation of the Doctor: He’s got a lot on his mind, what with always averting the end of the world and often the universe.
  3. Clara (Jenna Coleman) received rare insight into the stresses that beset the Doctor in “Flatline” and by “In The Forest Of The Night,” she seems more empathetic to his burdens.
  4. I enjoyed the Coal Hill School children’s interaction with the Doctor and his seemingly lack of interest yet passionate effort to rescue them, especially the special girl who sees the visions of Earth’s magical tree protectors.
  5. I liked “In The Forest Of The Night” perhaps the best of Series 8 so far and the teaser for next time suggests I might have been onto something with Clara being the villain behind the scenes this season.

1-sentence review of the ‘Constantine’ pilot


Constantine” | Season 1, Episode 1: “Non Est Asylum” | Date: Oct. 24, 2014

  1. “Constantine” is better than the 2005 movie by the same name starring Keanu Reeves, but not as good as the tepid “Gotham” series on Fox; Neither of these statements are high praise.

1-sentence review of ‘Bad Judge: Knife to a Gunfight’


Bad Judge” | Season 1, Episode 4: “Knife to a Gunfight” | Date: Oct. 23, 2014

  1. “Bad Judge” is such awful television I am going to result to a horrible pun in my final review of this putrid series starring the otherwise talented Kate Walsh: I exercised bad judgement watching “Bad Judge” for more than one episode.

1-sentence review of ‘The Blacklist: The Front’


The Blacklist” | Season 2, Episode 5: “The Front” | Date: Oct. 20, 2014

  1. I am beginning to think it is not worth burning an hour of TV time on a show in which James Spader is only seen for about 4 minutes and the rest of the supporting cast is so poor and uninteresting as to make me think I was watching another “Law & Order” clone.

5-sentence review of ‘Scorpion: Plutonium Is Forever’


Scorpion” | Season 1, Episode 5: “Plutonium Is Forever” | Date: Oct. 20, 2014

  1. I still remember the first time I saw “Carlito’s Way,” with the 1993 film in which Al Pacino plays a reformed crook trying to escape his former life.
  2. My heart raced as Carlito tried to make it to the train and escape the mob with his girlfriend and unborn child, only to be gunned down in the final moments.
  3. To this day, I still hope — even though I’ve seen the film many times — that Carlito makes it, even though he never does.
  4. What’s this got to do with “Scorpion,” the middling CBS procedural and this week’s story about a nuclear meltdown avoided in the final seconds?
  5. Well, I guess that feeling I have about “Carlito’s Way” never comes up when I’m watching “Scorpion;” I don’t empathize with the characters, I never really feel like they’re in danger and I even though I know they’ll always come through in the end, I kinda hope they’ll fail because that would at least be something different.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Strangers’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 2: “Strangers” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The word that comes to mind after “The Walking Dead” introduced a band of cannibalistic hunters who eat Bob’s (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) leg is “gratuitous.”
  2. It was gratuitous even in the context of a show that is largely about inventive ways to smash zombie skulls.
  3. The obscene violence of the series doesn’t ruffle me too much, but it is a problem as it goes forward.
  4. It comes at the expense of character development and story (which I realize no one cares about because they’re mostly in it for the juicy squish of zombie mayhem) and it forces the series creative team to get grosser and more vile with each episode.
  5. I wonder when it gets to be too much for the audience, but with episode ratings that shatter cable TV records and eclipse most broadcast shows on the same night, maybe blood-spatter cruelty and soggy monsters is what people really want.

5-sentence review of ‘Madam Secretary: Blame Canada’


Madam Secretary” | Season 1, Episode 4: “Blame Canada” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. This week, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) avoids war with Iran by meeting with an Iranian official in the basement of the Canadian embassy.
  2. McCord is magic that way, neatly solving every political crisis without too many consequences.
  3. Also, there are tensions with Canada over an oil pipeline and McCord threatens to revoke the visas of every Canadian-born NHL player if the Canadians don’t knock it off.
  4. I like any episode that implies the Canadians are getting tough with the United States, regardless of the issue.
  5. “Madam Secretary” is the perfect Sunday show — an unspectacular drama with good performances, just enough mystery to keep you paying attention without getting you very excited before bedtime.

5-sentence review of ‘Black-ish: Crime and Punishment’


Black-ish” | Season 1, Episode 5: “Crime and Punishment” | Date: Oct. 22, 2014

  1. I applaud the creative team of “Black-ish” and ABC for airing “Crime and Punishment,” a humorous episode about the highly charged topic of corporal punishment of children.
  2. Obviously, the episode was written and recorded well before Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse for allegedly whipping his son to the point of causing cuts and bruises, but that added extra poignancy to an episode took an amusing look at the tension felt by modern parents to discipline children in a meaningful way and whether that involves spanking.
  3. Jack (Miles Brown) plays a hiding game which worries his parents, especially when he does it in public places such as the mall and mom Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) promises dad Dre (Anthony Anderson) will spank the boy upon his return from work.
  4. Dre agonizes about the decision, consulting his father, Pops (Laurence Fishburne), who predictably favors whuppings, but Dre ultimate eschews violence and has an honest conversation with his 6-year-old son, telling him he’s disappointed the boy won’t stop — a disciplinary move that has the desired effect.
  5. The result felt earnest enough rather than a typical phony sitcom 30-minute solution, and the episode provided a largely amusing but thoroughly thoughtful discussion on a very charged issue.

5-sentence review of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Hen in the Wolf House’

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” | Season 2, Episode 4: “A Hen in the Wolf House”
| Date: Oct. 21, 2014

  1. My favorite moment in the episode was when May (Ming-Na Wen) slammed Skye (Chloe Bennet) against a wall and told her to chill out because Coulson (Clark Gregg) had a plan.
  2. My second favorite moment in the episode was when Coulson got in Skye’s face and told her to shut up and take orders.
  3. My third favorite moment in the episode was when newcomer Bobbie Morse (Adrianne Palicki) beat the crap out of a bunch of Hydra agents with metal staves, proving that Palicki totally could have played Wonder Woman if somebody had picked up that pilot a few years ago.
  4. My least favorite moment was when Skye and Coulson hugged and Skye had a good cry because her father is A) alive and B) a homicidal maniac.
  5. Checking the scorecard, that’s three things I liked against one thing I didn’t, which is a respectable result for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a show I only watch because of its vague connection to much-better movies based on Marvel Comics characters.

5-sentence review of ‘The Flash: Things You Can’t Outrun’


The Flash” | Season 1, Episode 3: “Things You Can’t Outrun” | Date: Oct. 21, 2014

  1. Gosh, I love watching “The Flash.”
  2. It feels like curling up in bed with a fresh stack of comic books and a bottle of pop after a trip in town to Montross Pharmacy with my dad on a Saturday afternoon.
  3. The show is rich with do-gooder earnestness and light on the dark, gritty gloom that permeates so much of pop culture and especially the superhero genre.
  4. “Things You Can’t Outrun” was a touch sappy with a few too many dead mom and dead fiance warm fuzzies and I’d like to see the Flash expand his powers — how about vibrating through walls or, in the case of the mist monster this week, a little swirling arm action.
  5. But every comic book has a few subplots to keep us interested in the next issue and “The Flash” series definitely leaves me hungry for more.

5-sentence review of ‘Mulaney: Halloween’


Mulaney” | Season 1, Episode 3: “Halloween” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. Fox halted production of “Mulaney,” reducing its order from 16 to 13.
  2. When I read that, I thought, “Can you imagine watching 13 episodes of this show?”
  3. I tried to watched three.
  4. I should emphasize “try.”
  5. I made it through John Mulaney’s standup about how Halloween is unsentimental and I thought, “Why the hell am I watching 13 seconds of this show?”

1-sentence review of ‘Family Guy: Baking Bad’


Family Guy” | Season 13, Episode 3: “Baking Bad” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The title was “Baking Bad,” but there were no references to “Breaking Bad” and that was a shame.
  2. There was a joke about North Dakota, which was a joke I’ve actually heard.
  3. I mean what are the odds that someone is going to make a joke about North Dakota that you’ve already heard?
  4. Maybe there’s just the one joke about North Dakota.
  5. The joke, by the way, was: “North Dakota. We’re not even the best Dakota.”