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TV Review: Lucifer S3E3 Mr. and Mrs. Mazikeen Smith

Realizing she wants more from life, Maze heads to Canada for a tricky case; Chloe worries Maze is being targeted by a con man; Lucifer and Chloe discover their target may be closer then they realized.

Lucifer puts the focus on Maze in this episode that’s beyond entertaining and evidence that we need more Maze-centric episodes!

Having to go after a con man, who may be a murder, Maze heads to Canada, and from there the jokes are pretty non-stop and we get to see her badass self.

For those unaware, Maze is no longer just Lucifer’s enforcer/right hand woman, she’s also a bounty hunter trying to make a living, so here she’s focused on that and then some. But, even though she’s focused on making some money, she also is enjoying the chase to some extent. It’s cute, it’s entertaining, and it’s Maze at her best. She kicks ass, she is beyond flirty with a dangerous sexiness about her. There’s teases of BDSM and she delivers it all in a way that you’re not sure if you should be scared or go along with it all.

The humor in the episode is awesome, placing Maze in the snow and cold, a place she shouldn’t be and there’s some good jokes of her being in Canada but it’s not constant. The episode does a fantastic job of balancing action, humor and sexiness and does it all in an hour that seems to flow by.

The episode also breaks the usual formula of their being a murder and then the team has to solve it while the greater storyline plays out. We get a different type of story which shows the show can do more than its usual schtick. More of this please.

A solid episode that puts the spotlight on a character who definitely doesn’t get enough screen time. It shows that the series has a solid cast and any of them can take the lead and continue to entertain.

Overall Rating: 8.45

TV Review: Gotham S4E4 A Dark Knight: The Demon’s Head

Bruce puts lives at risk to uncover the meaning behind his prized knife from the auction; Ra’s Al Ghul proves his deadly devotion; Sofia Falcone is on a mission to win back Gotham from Penguin.

Gotham focuses a bit in this episode as we move into four main focuses, what’s with the knife, who’s Ra’s, Sofia Falcone vs. Penguin, and Penguin vs. Riddler.

The first two plot threads feel like they get amble time to play out and a lot of that is used to explain things and why they matter. All of this is actually pretty decent. How Ra’s is presented feels like it’s a bit more grounded than what we’ve seen in other iterations with a focus on myth more than anything else. Presented as a legend there’s something that works and works better than say a guy with a giant cold gun. And that presents some of the issues and hurdles this series has, the fact that it has to balance these two settings, the fantastical and the real. This episode is a bit more on the real side.

That is helped a bit by the Falcone plot which has Sofia going through her own history and out of all of the current plots, this one has the most potential. The series feels its strongest when it sticks to the “mob wars” type storyline and hopefully we get more of that this season.

Then there’s the Riddler vs. Penguin storyline. The quicker this is over, the better as it not only feels played out but it’s downright silly. In the comics we recently had the Joker vs. Riddler and that feels like Shakespeare compared to what’s being presented on the small screen. It’s bad. It’s really bad. Frustratingly bad. The acting is silly, and it took me out of the rest of the episode which was an improvement.

There’s some brutal stuff here as Ra’s kills quite a few to get in a position that he clearly wants. Is it weird to say, more of this and less of the other rogues?

 

The episode has some ups and downs and isn’t good but isn’t bad too. There’s bright spots, and in this episode we’ve gotten more of those than low points.

Overall Rating: 6.65

TV Review: The Gifted S1E2 rX

Blink goes into shock after exerting her powers beyond her limits; Caitlin and Exlipse must find a sepcial serum that will help Blink recover; Reed faces some difficult choices about his family; Polaris runs into some trouble.

The Gifted gives us an interesting episode that feels like it’s three or four different parts most of which is pretty good. After the first episode I was a bit let down by what was set up, but this second episode seems to have brought things better together and actually given us something new and interesting when it comes to mutants and the live action X universe.

The bad of the episode continues to be Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker whose acting is just horrid. It’s better than the first episode, but that’s not saying much. Thankfully, we don’t get a lot of him, but his scenes at least are interesting to give more of a ominous police state aspect of the show. I’m fully expecting a torture scene as he’s renditioned in the future.

Speaking of police state, Lorna Dane’s scenes are interesting as she’s introduced into the prison population. It’s basically “Mutant is the New Black.” We also get the classic green hair, so maybe “Green is the New Black?” But, these scenes are key in that they give us more of an insight into how mutants are treated. It’s some intriguing things.

But, the thing I thought was the best was the focus on Blink and her powers going out of control after the last episode. It’s a cool scene and where that goes is impressive in that it’s something new. Where it goes is really cool in that the portals put them in a threatening situation and things escalate which creates tension for each time a portal opened. There’s also some fantastic visuals to it all.

The episode is much better than the first and did so while balancing so many different story threads. The visuals were top notch and the plots kept me engaged. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the second episode and it shows a lot of improvement.

Overall Rating: 7.65

TV Review: Lucifer S3E2 The One With the Baby Carrot

Lucifer removes his wings; Linda worries that Lucifer is neglecting his own well-being; Lucifer and Chloe must put their differences aside to solve a case that Lucifer has taken a sudden interest in; Detective Pierce’s past is revealed.

Lucifer continues its big picture story while it also gives us an interesting “who did it” that involves comedians and joke stealing. It’s a decent crime and there’s lots of twists and turns but that’s not the most entertaining aspect of it all.

The episode does a solid job of continuing the big picture story of puppet master out there that Lucifer’s looking for and that search also has to do with the new character Detective Pierce. I want to see more of what that’s about which is a good thing as the character wasn’t too likeable to start. I think there’s more there, but we’ll see where it’s taken.

But, the entertaining aspect of the episode is really Lucifer and the rest of the characters as they do some stand up and their usual quips. Detective Douche especially gets a bit of a spotlight and Ella is her usual energetic self. The cast of this show is really where it’s at and they’re able to take stories which in any other way would be rather boring and make them fun and something I look forward to.

There’s also some solid introspection about Lucifer himself and his newly returned wings. A mystery is turned into a character study of sorts and the episode ends in a way where we look to get the devilish Lucifer we like back. The season is a solid one so far with its two episodes and usual, it’s getting better with each one.

Overall Rating: 8.0

TV Review: Lucifer S3E1 They’re Back, Aren’t They?

After waking up in the desert with his wings, Lucifer and Chloe try to figure out what happened to him; newcomer Lieutenant Marcus Pierce makes a poor impression due to his stern demeanor; Lucifer finds himself in another compromising situation.

Lucifer kicks off its third season picking up where the second left off. We left Lucifer in the desert with his wings returned. Who did it? Why did they do it? Why are his wings back? These look to be the big mystery of the season if the first episode is any indication.

The episode is the usual “who did it” when another body is discovered in the desert where Lucifer was dumped.

From there things weave around numerous plot threads like Lucifer having his wings back, his brother losing his, their mother taking off, and so much more. This is an episode whose goal is to set up what’s to come and it does that in a pretty solid way. There’s a couple of bumps here and there but as usual the episode flows well and keeps things entertaining. New elements like Lieutenant Marcus Pierce help expand the show and shift things a bit from its usual formula, though that’s stuck to pretty closely even with new elements.

As always, Tom Ellis steals the show with is portrayal of Lucifer and his delivery is what makes the show a must watch. When it comes to a cast and how well they work together, this is one of the best on television today.

This episode is a good one and does a solid job of setting things off for the season and makes it clear as to what we should expect. Lucifer keeps things interesting and always is able to give us something new while also sticking to what it does best.

Overall Rating: 7.95

TV Review: Gotham S4E3 A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks

Gordon travels to Miami hoping to convince Carmine Falcone to help him fight the Penguin, only to have his daughter follow him back to Gotham.

Gotham is all over the place with this episode that has Gordon focused on stopping Penguin and Bruce’s story circling with the reveal of Ra’s Al Ghul last season. Both stories are ok with Gordon’s being the stronger of the two.

Whenever Ben McKenzie‘s Gordon has dealt with John Doman‘s Carmine Falcone the series has felt like it has found its footing. As a whole the show does better when it focuses on the “street level” crime fmaily drama and seems to derail any time it deviates. What’s interesting is the introduction of Crystal Reed as Sofia Falcone, a new femme fatale for Gordon to flirt with. If the show just focused on this, it’d be stronger for it.

Instead we get some side questions.

The first involves a superfan of the Riddler, Myrtle Jenkins, who springs him from Penguin’s ice cage. It’s a little weird and while the acting is entertaining, it doesn’t quite jive with the more grounded and serious segments involving Gordon.

Then there’s Bruce who I’m now dubbing the “Douche Knight” in his quest to solve crime and purchase a knife that leads to Ra’s Al Ghul. The acting as usual is atrocious and Bruce is played as a childish dick as opposed to an arrogant and aloof playboy. It’s weird and definitely a different way of depicting the character, sadly it just doesn’t work as again it’s a weird tone in between Gordon’s story and Riddlers.

And that’s the issue with the series, it wants to do everything and doesn’t commit to one thing. The tone and vision is all over the place. If the show focused on one thing it’d be stronger (any one thing) but by trying to cover all tones, settings, and characters, it doesn’t do any of them well and feels like it’s a bit ADD about it all. A more focused series would be a stronger one.

 

Overall Rating: 6.50

TV Review: The Gifted S1E1 eXposed

A suburban family is forced to go on the run when the children are discovered to possess mutant powers.

After a lot of hype and build, The Gifted has debuted bringing the world of the X-Men to live action television. The Gifted isn’t bad, there’s just a lot of strange choices though.

The real draw of the show is really how it ties into the greater X-Men universe. You have Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, aka Magento’s daughter, James Proudstar, Blink, mentions of the X-Men and Brotherhood. Hell, even the X-Men animated series theme song rings for a bit. The series goes all in when it comes to tying itself into the greater X world and that’s some of its strongest aspects, because beyond that, this is a series dragged down by bad acting, laughably bad writing, and questionable choices as to its focus.

With only one episode to go by, it’s hard to completely judge the series’ direction as far as its focus, but this first episode is torn between two stories. The first is a family who must go on the run when they discover their two children are mutants. The second story is about about a mutant underground fighting for survival in a world where the X-Men and Brotherhood are missing. Both are interesting topics and direction but the two together becomes a muddled mess at times.

The family aspect can be interesting as the Strucker family must go on the run and the father is a prosecutor who was focused on mutants committing crimes and knows how bad it can be. I’ll skip the idiocy to name the family Strucker, the same last name as the villain in Captain America: Civil War. But, a family slightly “racist” coming to grips with their children being mutants and also a father facing his past actions, all while on the run, that can be interesting and itself would be a solid television show.

Then there’s the mutant underground led by Polaris who is taken off the board too early. This would be a more straightforward X story, and still can be good. That direction’s strength would be exploring the world and name dropping.

The two together though is too much and explores too little relying on the “name dropping” but not diving enough into the characters themselves. And why are you naming two main characters Lauren and Lora!?

And that bad choice is amplified by bad acting and writing. The most prominent of this is Reed Strucker learning about his kids in a car. Actor Stephen Moyer is usually better than this, but the fact this take was used makes me wonder what else was filmed, because this was not good. Just overall, beyond Amy Acker as Kate Strucker, the acting is rather sub-par.

The first episode isn’t bad but it’s also not good. I’ll stick around the see where it goes as it feels like it begins to come together later on but as an episode whose goal is to get me to come back for more, it barely pulls that off.

Overall Rating: 6.4

TV Review: Gotham S4E2 A Dark Knight: The Fear Reaper

Gordon attempts to bring in Jonathan Crane to prove that the GCPD is still powerful; Selina and Tabitha must consider risks that come with joining Barbara in the weapon business.

Gotham generally is on the right track but it seems much like the first, the second episode throws in just enough to cause the episode the trip over itself.

When the series focuses on the police, corruption, and Penguin, it shines. You can see this to some extent towards the end when Penguin recruits the police directly, though I still am scratching my head as to where the Feds are during all of this? The series as a whole has been solid when it keeps things somewhat grounded. In this case, with it more mob focuses, that’s entertaining and I want to see more of it. Even Gordon’s focus on bringing in Crane is decent enough and uses the character well and delivers a take on the character that feels like a mix of different versions we’ve seen.

The other part of the episode is Tabitha and Selina possibly making a deal with Barbara and Ivy’s thrown in there too. This too works well as the internal politics and dynamics are interesting. It plays nicely into Penguin’s new rules for the city as well. Again, sticking with this would be solid.

Again, where things go wrong are Bruce Wayne and his transition to Batman. Not only does Alfred need to come save him but Lucius Fox steps in with new equipment for Bruce and the series doesn’t even attempt to make it all interesting. Instead, lines about rock climbing feel like they’ve been taken directly from Batman Begins, a rather silly thing that reminded me of the far superior movie.

 

 

Much like the previous season, this one feels like it’ll have a lot of ups and downs. If it focuses on just the police it’s entertaining and a show I want to watch. Wen it focuses on Bruce, something just doesn’t click. The writers feel like they’re committing to the later, so we’ll need to suck it up and deal with it, hopefully it’s to a minimum.

Overall Rating: 6.75

TV Review: Gotham S4E1 A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina

Detective Gordon suspects that Jonathan Crane has resurfaced; Penguin hosts the grand opening of his new Iceberg Lounge; Bruce begins his vigilante watch.

Gotham has returned with a mix of an episode that picks up where last season left off. Bruce is well on his way to becoming Batman and Penguin is making his moves to take over the city… in a way. There’s good and bad in this episode, a lot of good actually and that’s a bit surprising based on the promotional material leading up to this season.

I’ll start with the bad. As usual it’s everything having to do with Bruce Wayne and his becoming a vigilante. It’s hard to ignore that he’s maybe 15 or 16 and there’s little push to stop him from doing what he’s doing. There’s also the fact he’s either really good or really bad at everything he’s doing. He either trips and stumbles into a fight or is able to disappear like a ghost. He confronts Penguin and in a rather awkward exchange it’s clear he’s investigating the new set up I’ll discuss more below.

All of the above isn’t helped by the fact that David Mazouz still hasn’t grown as an actor. Everything is delivered in a bland, boring, monotone way. When everyone else is so full of life, it stands out, especially when actor Sean Pertwee is so good in everything he does as Alfred.

Lets get to the rest of the episode though….

There’s a new status quo in Gotham and now all crime is being licensed through Penguin’s associates with the blessings of those in charge like the head of the police and Mayor. It’s a head scratcher that would work a bit better if it wasn’t so blunt and out there. Everyone knows about this and the Feds haven’t stepped in?

What’s good about the storyline is that it dials back the villains focus which was escalating and getting a bit silly. Instead it’s more mob vs police and a focus on corruption grounding things a bit. But, the cat’s out of the bag so there’s still colorful characters like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and the Riddler (on ice). The episode is the strongest when it focuses on the police and their dealing with this new status quo. Bullock and Gordon especially stand out and have through the series. It just gets derailed when things shift towards Bruce.

So, the first episode sets things up but it’s a mixed bag. There’s glimpses of a solid series and then things get silly again showing those behind the series don’t seem to know exactly what type of series they’re doing. Hopefully we get more of the Gotham police and a little less of masks and cowls.

Overall Rating: 7.0

FOX Invokes The Holocaust to Promote The Gifted

The Gifted is one of my most anticipated television shows of the fall. Airing on FOX, the show brings Marvel‘s X-Men to the small screen after a half dozen big screen adventures. The story follows a family on the run after they discover the children are mutants.

It’s not too surprising that the show was one of the many properties that was being pushed at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Con goers were treated to an ARG like building wrapping on the Hilton Bayfront parking lot urging individuals to be tested and giving a tie-in website fans can check out.

When I first saw the above a quick take was it was nice that someone had ponied up the money to raise HIV testing awareness. That same thought crossed others I chatted with later at the show. It wasn’t until Sunday as I was wrapping up my convention the show’s promotion took a more ominous tone.

Often at the convention the local trains are wrapped with promotions and apparently without thought as to what it invokes FOX chose this promotion for the show.

As someone raised Jewish (not practicing) the visual of trains with bars on the window and the words “Mutant Transport” isn’t something that gets me to want to watch the show, it’s something that gets me to want to turn away and run.

In today’s world with Anti-Semitism front and center (arguably on the rise) in so many ways, it feels like a mistake and obliviousness to invoke the Holocaust to promote your show. This doesn’t say mutant roundup, this screams gas chamber. This isn’t some cheeky promotion like the building wrap, this is a vision of a possible future. Like so many X-Men comics, I flashed a future where I’m on one of those trains.

The Holocaust isn’t something that has to be avoided, Oscar winning films have touched upon the subject, but to use its imagery to sell a television show feels shallow and diminishes the deaths of millions for a cash in, especially when early press has said it has a “Civil Rights” tone. Add in trains like this and Mutants aren’t stand-ins for the Civil Rights Movement or in today’s comics LGBT. Instead the trains make it an allegory for today’s Jews who “hide among” the people and bring doom according to many on both the left and right. In a year where I’ve questioned what I am due to my Jewish roots, Mutant might be the closest to reality. Attempting to hide lest I be run out with pitchforks, burning torches, and avoiding pogroms.

At a convention where so much of it is bright, sunny, inviting, fun, this train wrap wasn’t just a stumble but an outright fumble by a company that has done some impressive marketing surrounding the X franchise.

The Gifted is set to begin airing on October 2, 2017.

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