The Mindy Project – “The Devil Wears Lands’ End”

October 15, 2014

Season Three, Episode Five

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Grade: A-

While no one believes that The Mindy Project is a great show, the fact that the show itself understands that is why it has survived thus far. Working through its many flaws, once in a while the show can capitalize on some solid, stand-alone episodes such as this one. Sure, the Mindy-Danny relationship is a rocky roller coaster that I cannot believe is still working (but it is because this is a sitcom), but they’re good together for the show. The Jeremy-Peter rivalry has been an ongoing plot for a handful of episodes and this time around we see them team up together. This is as good as The Mindy Project gets.

So there’s a new hospital administrator (Niecy Nash) and the gang are off to a terrible start when they arrive at her meeting late, plus it didn’t help that Mindy’s cell phone (Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”) goes off, interrupting everything. The result, their practice is scheduled to work the graveyard shift and everyone is blaming Mindy. Naturally, Mindy feels like she can save the day by taking Jean out on the town. While they do have a great time together, Jean leans in and kisses Mindy on the lips, something unexpected but also something Mindy doesn’t reject. Now Mindy’s in a whole new conflict: they were taken off the graveyard shift but now Jean is making moves on Mindy. What’s a girl to do?!

Then there’s the B-story, which being a beer pong enthusiast myself, enjoyed probably a bit too much. What really works in the B-story is that something emotionally real actually happens. Peter and Jeremy have been feuding the past few weeks, but this was their first opportunity to team up. And team up they did at the Dartmouth beer pong tournament! Note: The scene where Morgan is trying out to be Peter’s partner is hilarious as he can’t even throw a ping pong ball into a bucket.

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We get the frat house vibe at the beer pong tournament, a vibe we’ve become accustomed to with Peter’s character. But Jeremy soon realizes that Peter is bothered by the group calling him by his nickname “Lefty.” Why “Lefty”? Because throughout college his girlfriends have always left him for other friends. Oof, that hurts especially because Jeremy is right there next to him, but Barf makes it his goal to have Peter win the beer pong championship, which he does! So Peter gets to pick his own nickname, “Diarrhea.” Okay, it’s not the best name to pop into Peter’s head, but you actually feel like something important was accomplished in this story-line.

Now back to Mindy’s girl problems, we learn that Jean has a wife who are on the verge of breaking up because of Mindy’s kiss. I guess that somewhat makes sense, even though it’s a bit weird that Jean came onto Mindy in the first place. The only way to fix this problem is for Danny to pretend he’s going to commit suicide because of this (not so) huge problem! Yes, you can always depend on Mindy to be dramatic and to over-react to every situation she’s in. But just like the beginning where Mindy cries herself out of a speeding ticket, Danny does his best impersonation of Mindy and lies his way out of their predicament. Mindy couldn’t be any prouder.

While a lot of this episode was silly, it was enjoyable and funny throughout, which is more than I can say about last night’s New Girl episode. I wonder how many whacky situations the writers have up their sleeves when it comes to Mindy and Danny’s relationship. And though Morgan was terribly missed for most of the episode (his Iggy Azalea ring-tone joke was great), it was important for Peter and Jeremy to be back on the same page. Will Jean be a reoccurring character? Probably not, but The Mindy Project certainly doesn’t have a shortage of cameos.


Homeland – “Shalwar Kameez”

October 14, 2014

Season Four, Episode Three

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Grade: B

I feel like this was a very polarizing episode, for good reasons, so let me start out with why this was a very solid episode of Homeland. First off, Homeland was always at its best when it dealt with the trauma of being in the CIA and the military and how it can affect your personal life. We’ve seen how it affected Carrie, Brody, Saul, etc. and now we’re seeing it affect Quinn. Plain and simple, Quinn has had enough. Everyone has a breaking point and he’s no different, but it’s not so easy to quit the CIA. And while the show obviously couldn’t allow Quinn to walk away from all the action, his story-line is what gives Homeland its depth and a character audiences can really support (because Carrie is too much of an asshole).

But then there’s the bad, which involves the writers of the show penning in some kind of Quinn/Carrie romance. I don’t know if this was a call from the producers, the writers, or some high executive at Showtime, but how could anyone think a Quinn/Carrie romance would be good for the show? Was there any person in the world who tuned into Homeland week-after-week for the Carrie/Brody romance? I was actually enjoying the way Carrie was looking at younger, handsome guys for a fix to keep her mind off of the job for at least a portion of her night. But Quinn? Is that really a story-line we want to see for the whole season?

Now I’m not saying that it’s completely unimaginable that Quinn could have a crush on Carrie, but it could’ve been done more subtlety and not so soon in this new reboot of a season. But back to the action, Carrie is in Islamabad because she hates her child and needs to boss people around. Her team doesn’t particularly like her yet (and they probably never will), especially the man who was supposed to replace Sandy until Carrie stole it. But there’s good news: Max and Fara are back! They use Fara to try and get to Aayan and even though the set-up fails, she immediately recognizes that something has spooked Aayan. The big guns come in (Carrie) and she gives him an offer: Tell them his story for a safe passage to America to continue medical school. It’s quite the offer, but I’m pretty sure he’ll need a bit more convincing.

Since the first episode, Homeland has certainly toned down its action and suspense. Saul comes back to make sure the transition between Carrie and her new boss runs smoothly (and so they have something to talk about: Saul and Boyd used to be engaged), and if Saul does indeed leave Islamabad I’ll be a bit sad because the chemistry between Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin is spectacular. But we have two things happening thus far. First, the romantic link between Carrie and Quinn, which I assume won’t end well for Quinn (just saying). Then there’s the result from the drone strike and the repercussions within the country and the involvement from the CIA. Tensions are still high and a lot of people are trying to save their asses.

I can’t imagine Homeland toning down the story-line between Carrie and Quinn. If the past was any indication, they kept on pursuing terrible story-lines no matter how loudly I yelled at my television screen (I’m looking at you Dana Brody)! But for what it’s worth, it’ll be great to have Carrie and Quinn working together again, even if that means we won’t see Quinn and his building manager hanging out by the pool anymore. So long building manager. You were too good for Quinn, even though he did defend you by breaking a guy’s cheekbone at the diner.


The Walking Dead – “No Sanctuary”

October 13, 2014

Season Five, Episode One

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Grade: A-

Last season provided us with a cliffhanger unlike any other we’ve experienced with The Walking Dead. That’s mainly good, since the last few seasons of this wildly popular show has been mediocre at best. So after Rick and company seek out Terminus as a sanctuary, they realize it’s everything they feared. So the final moments of season four had our characters locked in a train car at Terminus, but we all know that our heroes are going to break out of it somehow, right?

First and foremost, the most surprising thing about the season premiere is how quickly Rick and company are able to escape Terminus. This is coming from a show that dedicated way too much time to Woodbury and particularly The Governor. I expected this story-line to be dragged out for at least half a season, but instead we witness the fall of Terminus in what felt like a blink of an eye.

While the sequences were quite engaging, it still had the Walking Dead tactics I’m getting tired of. Like when the two men are killing off people from the train car and we see our main characters at the end of the line. As each man falls we get closer and closer to Glen’s turn to be knocked out by a baseball bat and then cut open (which arguably is The Walking Dead’s most violent scene ever). But mid-windup, there is always another distraction that keeps Glen’s head intact. Come on now, even if someone was talking to them they could’ve kept slaughtering the group.

There’s an explosion, and we take a step back to follow Carol, Tyreese, and Baby Judith as they’re the only ones from the group who aren’t trapped in Terminus. They bump into a Terminus citizen, tie him up, and receive information that his people have at least some of their friends captive. Carol goes camouflage style with a herd of zombies and sees the horror of Rick, Daryl, Bob, and Glen tied up and dragged away. For a while now, Carol has been as cool as a cucumber in tough situations. She took it among herself to eliminate the spreading disease. She barely flinched when Rick sent her off on her own. And now Cool Carol caused the explosion that had the citizens of Terminus running right into the herd of zombies. Carol rules!

So as expected, everyone gets out of the hell hole that was Terminus (and without a single death!). They meet up in the woods to an emotional reunion with Carol. Daryl and Carol forever! They make their way back to Tyreese and Baby Judith (Tyreese ends up killing the guy captive) and there’s another emotional reunion with Judith, Rick and Carl. Hooray for the good guys! But what’s next? That’s what we’ll have an entire season to discover.

In a way, I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t get more development from the people who were a part of Terminus. If it really was once a sanctuary but then turned into a slaughter-house, that’s a story I would’ve liked to know more about. But this does put the show where it’s most comfortable, on the road with all sort of unknown dangers lurking around every corner. And the whole gang (minus Beth) are back, assuming they’re headed to Washington D.C. so the scientist can spill his knowledge on the zombie-virus that everyone’s infected with. It’s just episode one into the new season, but I’m already excited for things to come.


Movie Review: The Maze Runner

October 10, 2014

The Maze Runner (2014)
113 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter

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Grade: B-

Fox Films hopes that The Maze Runner will become the next teen hit on the big screen, and though it won’t ever reach the popularity of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, it’s still pretty good. The novels were written by James Dashner and throws you right in the middle of the events that make this film so compelling.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an industrial elevator without a clue how he got there. In fact, he can’t remember anything, not even his own name but soon learns that’s not out of the ordinary. When he reaches the surface, he’s greeted by a few dozen teenage boys including Alby, the leader of the group. There are a few things he explains to Thomas: They live in a simple society called the Glade, everyone has to pull their own weight, and no one except for the Runners are allowed to cross the walls.

More about those walls, it’s revealed that the group of boys are stuck in the middle of a gigantic maze with huge walls confining them. Night time is when it’s the most dangerous for the boys. At dark, the walls close up confining them in the middle. This is also when the layout of the maze shifts and when the Grivers come out (giant spider-like robotic creatures). While the rest of the boys are doing well, Thomas doesn’t buy into feeling content like most of them. He’s different. He shows tenacity, courage, and most importantly he’s curious. This gets him in trouble with the bully of the society, Gally, who blames every incident on Thomas and the way he constantly breaks their rules. But Alby and a handful other boys see the one thing that Thomas has brought them: hope.

Visually, the film is superb, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with Wes Ball in the director’s chair. The massive walls that enclose the teenagers are as intimidating as they sound, and the deeper they explore into the maze the more thrilling. Most of the film is a fun, suspenseful ride with plenty of action and surprises along the way. But the major flaw of the film comes towards its conclusion when we’re finally given the reason for why these events are happening. It’s not nearly as convincing as you would hope for, and it’s a shame because it really does ruin the film from being top-notch entertainment. I’m not even sure if I want to catch the sequel, knowing how this one ended. Can I ignore the main reason why these teenagers are fighting for their lives to survive a giant, dangerous maze? Isn’t that the whole point?

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New Girl – “Micro”

October 8, 2014

Season Four, Episode Four

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Grade: C+

I just wish that there would be an episode of New Girl where the gang just hangs out at the loft and talks about nothing the entire time. I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy the first five or so minutes every week before the story-line is established. The cast has such great chemistry together that their conversations feel so natural and they understand their characters so well that everything just passes by like a warm summer breeze. It’s easy, natural, and on top of it all it’s really funny.

In “Micro” the gang is hanging out at the bar and judging women as they pass by from the size of their breasts. Jess is offended by the guys’ comments and try to take a stand that she’s not as shallow as they are and wouldn’t reject a guy just because of their looks. Soon after, she’s talking with an incredibly handsome man and plans to go out on a date with him. But there’s one problem, he has a micropenis, which is a real medical condition (was there anyone who didn’t do what Schmidt, Nick, and Coach did?). While I love the set-up to this episode’s plot, it all falls apart.

Jess wants to prove to the guys so badly that she’s not shallow like them, that she actually makes a bet with Nick that she would date Matt for at least a month. This predictably backfires when it’s not his micropenis that’s a problem, it’s his personality. I enjoyed this story-line but the character of Matt just didn’t cut it for me. Was he a douche? Sure, I guess… but just a few episodes ago Jess was hanging onto dates with far worse guys than Matt, so where’s the consistency?

In the B-story, Schmidt and Coach compliment themselves and each other about being so good looking, so Winston and Cece decide to mess with them, pinning them against each other for the one open modeling spot from Cece’s agent (oh yeah, that’s right. Remember when Cece was a model in the show?). The result is some hilarious physical comedy from Max Greenfield and Damon Wayans Jr., but I’m not entirely satisfied about the way things end (with a purchased billboard of Schmidt in Koreatown.

The moral of the episode is that everyone has their own micropenis that you shouldn’t judge, though on top of their micropenis they could just turn out being a terrible person. I like that we keep exploring Jess’ adventure in being single, but how about the rest of the group? Nick needs more screen time, plain and simple. And I find it hard to believe that Jess and Nick shared so many awkward moments in the first season living together, and now all of a sudden they don’t. Yes, I understand they’re trying to steer away from that story-line, but that was the best story-line the show ever had.

New Girl Character Rankings:

Jess (B-): I like how she had the guts to make a bet with Nick that she would date Matt for a month, but boy did that backfire at her! She still has her heart in the right place by believing people shouldn’t be shallow and to not judge someone just from their looks, but who doesn’t?

Schmidt (B+): After all that, he gets a billboard in Koreatown (plus $500). Not too shabby for once being a fat kid and for not actually landing a model gig.

Coach (B): The duo of Schmidt and Coach proved that they definitely work well together, and I never doubted it. While Greenfield delivers one-liners better, Wayans Jr. is the physical comedy champion.

Winston (B+): Winston absolutely OWNED the first few minutes of this episode. Nothing was better than his proud comment, “I just put $5 in the jukebox. We got a Paula Cole rock block coming our way.” Plus, I sure hope we get some more classic Winston and Cece mess-around in future episodes.

Cece (C): A “C” for Cece, because her only purpose this episode was taking the joke on Coach and Schmidt to the next level, making it somewhat authentic that one of them could actually land a modeling job.

Nick (D): I almost forgot Nick was even in this episode. A crime to the hilarious Jake Johnson.


The Big Bang Theory – “The Hook-Up Reverberation”

October 7, 2014

Season Eight, Episode Four

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Grade: B

The Big Bang Theory has certainly shifted away from showing the characters in their work settings, which is partly because a number of them are in career transitions. I do miss the gang being served by Penny in the Cheesecake factory and doubt we’ll get more laughs with her new position. And they flirted with the possibility of Sheldon teaching graduate students, which I still feel had great potential. In “The Hook-Up Reverberation,” we get a glimpse at the excitement the four main characters feel when they think about buying a comic book store.

Though it wasn’t going to be their own. They were going to invest to help Stuart get his comic book store back up and running, which brought up some interesting topics since everyone is currently in a relationship. Speaking of, we finally get to see Emily this season! Raj brings her over to meet the gang and she’s warm and welcoming towards everyone except for Penny. Why? Because Raj told her about their drunken hook-up from years ago. Sure, Raj wants to be completely honest with Emily, but that’s probably something you could leave out just to prevent situations like this.

But that does bring up the interesting question between these relationships: are they all completely honest with their past hook-ups? It’s doubtful that Penny and Howard will every be absolutely truthful in that field, but that’s okay (for the most part). It does get Leonard concerned, but we already know they’re a mess of a couple. Funny thing is that the worst couple of the show, Sheldon and Amy, are completely disqualified from this situation, but I guarantee Amy would kill to take part in the act. Also, I found it hilarious that Amy couldn’t fathom that no one has ever told Penny they hated her to her face.

The C-story is becoming extremely annoying: how Stuart and Howard are fighting for his mom’s love. Sure, it’s hitting Howard hard that his mom no longer nags him like she used to, but this ongoing story-line isn’t as funny as the writers think it is. In addition, I have no idea where they can go from here. So Stuart moves into the house? Unless they’re planning on writing Stuart and Howard’s mom off the show, I don’t see why they’re spending so much time here.

In the end the gang realizes they shouldn’t invest in the comic book store, which doesn’t matter because Howard’s mom already gave Stuart the money he needs. Also, it looks like Penny and Emily are going to take their dislike for each other to the next level in future episodes. I don’t hate that idea, but is this really the best that can happen between the girls? Do they always have to be fighting with one another every episode? Just thinking about this is making me want to have a dinosaur-chicken salad sandwich.


Homeland – “The Drone Queen” / “Trylon And Perisphere”

October 6, 2014

Season Four, Episode One and Two

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Grade: B

After the death of Brody at the finale of last season, Homeland was finally ready to start over. So “The Drone Queen” acts like a complete reboot of the series, where if you haven’t watched a single minute of Homeland you’d be able to pick it up right from the season premiere. The title refers to what everyone calls Carrie as she’s the station chief in Kabul. There has been a transformation of Carrie throughout the years, and while there’s no doubt that she’s really good at her job, it’s frightening how little remorse she feels when she messes up.

And that sets up the plot of this fourth season. Carrie gets questionable information from Sandy (Corey Stoll) and orders a bomb strike that kills 40 people in Pakistan attending a wedding. Their target is among the people killed, but the nation goes into a rage seeking revenge for such a vicious attack. Carrie and Sandy have to face the music and defend their actions to Lockhart, but before that is able to happen we get a vintage Homeland sequence of pure thrill. Watching Sandy sneak out of the office to meet with “X” you could feel the eyes all over him as he walks through the streets. One thing after another goes wrong: the locks have changed, his contact isn’t answering, a group gathers in front, then Quinn reveals that his identity has been leaked and he’s all over the news. Uh oh.

The result of this scene is jaw-dropping, with a mob surrounding the getaway car with Quinn and Carrie inside. Sandy gets dragged from the vehicle and then is beaten to death as Quinn and Carrie barely escape. While I was disappointed because I thought Stoll’s Sandy would’ve made a great addition to the season’s cast, this just proved how high the stakes are and how the consequences for Carrie’s actions are incredibly dangerous. This also gives us some of the best moments from Quinn, who is clearly a vulnerable guy who has one foot out the door. Why is he sticking with Carrie and carrying out these dangerous missions any longer? He’s not the same hit-man he used to be, but that’s what makes him such a great character.

Speaking of great characters, Homeland has produced many in its first three years, but unfortunately Carrie is no longer one of them. She used to be, but now it’s becoming too challenging to like her. I get that she’s the show’s anti-hero and while she can thrive in her professional life, her personal one is a train wreck. But really, she’s becoming more and more difficult to watch because of her toxic personality. Sure, she’s gone through hell and back with the whole Brody story-line, and she’s already mentally unstable as it is. And I can get that she’s become immune to feeling sympathy for killing innocent civilians during a bombing when she’s watched many colleagues and loved ones die fighting terrorism. But almost drowning your baby?!

Yes, that was the most shocking scene of the premiere and even though it’s very much likely something her character would do, I just wouldn’t show it if I were part of the creative team. I do like how Carrie is set up as the bad guy in season four for bombing the wedding, but the scene where she almost drowns her baby is too much. It’s to the point where I feel like she should pay for her actions and karma will have her accidentally overdose on her meds + wine. But this is Homeland and if Carrie’s careless actions have only turned into promotions, then drowning her baby might win her mother of the year.

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One more thing I want to touch upon from the season premiere is Aayan, played by Life of Pi’s Suraj Sharma. He plays a Pakistani medical student whose uncle was the target Carrie and company bombed. As expected, his life is turned upside-down when he’s the lone survivor of his family from the bombing, but when his roommate uploads his video from the wedding to Youtube, his life becomes even more chaotic. It’s not very clear how Aayan is going to play into the whole season, but he’s someone on the other side of Carrie who we can truly feel for, though I don’t know why he’s holding so many drug vials. Either way, I’m invested in his story-line.

Last but not least:

  • So will Lockhart get the boot and will Saul return? Because we definitely need more Saul!
  • Quinn is easily everyone’s favorite character. I mean, how can you not like someone who sticks up for his plus-size, one night stand?
  • I really liked the lounge scene with the Navy bomber and Carrie. Homeland has to continue showing the trauma behind such military acts, since we know we won’t get any emotion from Carrie.
  • Carrie is right though, she’s better off out of the States, away from her daughter and family. As much of a burden she’s putting on Maggie, it’s for the best.

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