The Hunger 24 Daniel Brochu. A serial killer stalks the...



The Hunger 24

Daniel Brochu. A serial killer stalks the residents of a high rise apartment building.

  • The visuals are great, but sometimes they feel like overkill. The fact that every single shot seems beautifully crafted can be distracting if you just want to follow the story as it unfolds.
  • Anthony Michael Hall is quirky as the lead. Sometimes seeming miscast, he appears absolutely perfect for the role by the end. Maybe because have a better idea of what that character actually is.
  • You could almost imagine that this was a pilot for a low-budget, trashy show about an angel of vengeance. Which, based on this, looks like it could be fun.

7/10

Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.3 Anne Haney. Intriguing...



Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.3

Anne Haney. Intriguing puzzle, worthwhile pay-off.

  • This one opens with a mystery. And a compelling mystery it is. A planet’s population has been wiped out, but there are two survivors… How? Why?
  • In order for this story to work, the viewer has to be puzzled at the start and - more difficult - satisfied at the end. With this as a yardstick, the episode is a success. The reveal at the end is sad and memorable.
    John Anderson
    ‘s performance makes it work. Makes you care.
  • Picard is slightly ahead of his crew on this one. Without guessing exactly what is going on, he is still able to out-maneuver whatever working against them. That’s fun to watch.
  • Troi gets a b-story that goes nowhere. It merely serves to punctuate the actions in the a-story. She is sick, somehow affected by the planet, but other than giving Picard a valid reason to stick around, this storyline serves no purpose whatsoever.
  • “Good tea. Nice house,” says Worf at one point. One of my all-time favourite Worf-moments.

9/10

Benched 1.12 Yvette Nicole Brown. Terrific season-ender....



Benched 1.12

Yvette Nicole Brown. Terrific season-ender. Terrible series-ender.

  • When a show you love gets cancelled, it’s unrealistic to hope that they will tie up all their storylines the way you want.
    Instead, you have to expect cliffhangers. Things going badly for characters you care about, because the intention was to keep telling the story.
  • So it is here. Nina does some major growing, makes some major decisions, but bad luck gets in the way at the very end and our last shot of her is an unhappy one.
  • Aside from that… this is a very funny and very satisfying episode. The jokes come thick and fast, and the plot is busy and fast-moving.
    There’s a great b-story with Phil and Morris that really brings the guard into the ensemble in a meaningful way.
  • This was a good show. It got better and better as it went on and really found it’s feet. It’s just a pity more people didn’t find it.

10/10

Orange Is The New Black 3.13 Delightful season-ender. Brings...



Orange Is The New Black 3.13

Delightful season-ender. Brings lots of closure.

  • This is a great episode for Piper, whose storyline had a low-key start this season. All her scenes here were excellent, as she goes after suspects in the theft of money belonging to her illegal business. The resolution was cold-blooded. And awesome.
    Absolutely love the ongoing character arc where she gets darker - and more dangerous - every season.
  • Other storylines which had a stealthy start this year came to fruition here, as well. Cindy, Morello and Caputo are examples of three characters who end the season in a very different place to where they started. And the writing all season was so subtle you didn’t even realise they were on a major path to change. In each case, it seemed as if their goals/destinations were something else. Very impressive writing.
  • Healy had some big scenes, too, but he has been on a journey since day one and these pivotal moments were just the latest markers for this likeable but deeply flawed man.
  • The ending at the lake was a bit overlong and self-indulgent, but it undeniably gave the viewer a warm and fuzzy feeling.

10/10

The Incredible Hulk 3.4 Sandra Kerns. Enjoyable...



The Incredible Hulk 3.4

Sandra Kerns. Enjoyable middle-of-the-road Hulk episode.

  • A lesser-example of something the show normally does really well: create a fully-rounded ‘world’ with interesting people for David to interact with. When the show does this properly, you honestly feel as if these character will have a life after David moves on. As if it’s a crossover with another television series.
  • For some reason, this particular ‘world’ that David is temporarily part of doesn’t have the ‘spark’ that so many others do.
  • It’s not the cast. Both L.Q. Jones and James Crittenden are good as mismatched brothers on the rodeo circuit: one a cowboy, one a clown. There’s a lot tension between then, and the actors make it work perfectly. One of the best scenes in the episode is a fight between them.
  • And it’s not the story: David discovers that one brother has been stealing cattle to pay off gambling debts, which makes him a target for the rustlers. Cue: plenty of drama some entertaining Hulk action.
    Meanwhile the other brother is hiding a serious illness. The good drama there, too.
  • The episode probably falls down when it comes to creating a believable rodeo environment. The opening minutes are a stock footage montage, and the same generic stock footage (from the 60s!) pops up a lot throughout the episode. Now, I understand that it’s hard to fake a rodeo with some big sheds and a horse, but this constant use of old documentary film leaves me cold.
  • On the good side, the story zips along and it’s another instance of David being a great TV hero: coming into people’s lives, really caring about them and setting them on the right path before moving on.

6/10

Tour of DutyPictures used in the end credits for season one.



Tour of Duty

Pictures used in the end credits for season one.

Mike Hammer 11 Uninvolving murder-mystery. It starts off with...



Mike Hammer 11

Uninvolving murder-mystery.

  • It starts off with Mike trying to save a model from a fire and failing. He then takes on the case of finding out who killed her and why.
  • Turns out her father was a master counterfeiter and the murder might have been an attempt to bring him out into the open. Or something.
  • There are quite a few twists and turns in the story and, after a while, it is genuinely hard to care. Especially as we get further and further from the dead model (which was our original hook).
  • Part of the problem is the casting of Shannon Tweed as the dead girl. We see her picture everywhere and - having seen her name in the opening credits - we know that she isn’t really dead! And when the script reveals her to be alive in the final act… all element of surprise is gone.
  • The opening paints Mike in a heroic light: taking on a case with no client just to see that justice is done, etc. But, as soon as it switches to being a story about ‘perfect’ counterfeiting plates it seems less interesting.

5/10

Have Gun - Will Travel 1.16 A middle-of-the-road romcom by Gene...



Have Gun - Will Travel 1.16

A middle-of-the-road romcom by Gene Roddenberry.

  • A predictable, generic story that is clearly meant to be more amusing than it actually is.
  • Hired to find a missing girl, Paladin soon discovers that she is more captor than captive. He brings her and her reluctant beau back to a wedding(!?!) where the young man comes around.
  • The comedy is in broad strokes. Both the romance, and the constantly-bellowing father-of-the-bride. He’s larger than life. Meant to provoke chuckles, instead he provokes annoyance.
  • What is enjoyable, however, is Paladin himself. He’s a shrewd businessman and - even if the people he meets here are one-dimensional - a good judge of character.

5/10

St. Elsewhere 1.3 Third episode is the best so far. Packs real...



St. Elsewhere 1.3

Third episode is the best so far. Packs real emotional punch.

  • The main story here is about a couple who are told that the child they are expecting will have Down’s Syndrome. News that causes them to debate about whether or not to have an abortion.
  • Maureen Anderman and Tony Bill are simply superb as the couple.
  • Dr. Peter White is the focus of several strong scenes. Running theme: he is volatile, under pressure and making mistakes.
  • The sharp contrast between him and Morrison is pointing out - in dialogue - near the end of the episode.
  • Auschlander gets a good storyline, too. Ostensibly about the care of a dying patient, we see in the closing scenes that his own mortality is ever-present in his mind.
  • The last scene of the hour - a wonderful scene - is a card game between him and the patient.
  • Before that,  there is a chat between him and Westphall, who is calling in (on his way home) to chat with his buddy. He has no reason to be there, no purpose, really… just friendship. A short exchange that speaks volumes.
  • The episode’s biggest emotion punch caught me unawares. In retrospect it is obvious where the storyline was going and the scene that delivered it was set up so that the revelation was inescapable, yet - somehow - I was so absorbed the drama that I never thought ahead and found myself giving a short audible gasp. That’s great storytelling. 

10/10

People Like Us 2.5 Emma Kennedy, Robert Webb, David Roper. Like...



People Like Us 2.5

Emma Kennedy, Robert Webb, David Roper. Like all the best episodes of this wonderful show, this is both funny and poignant in equal measure.

  • We are in a bank for this installment, and the focus is largely on three characters: two managers and a new employee.
  • Some of the highlights include: Elaine trying to explain to a young couple exactly what a mortgage is; and the manager trying to remember the password to get into the vault.
  • The script has some nice digs at the corporate mentality, with pointless assessment meetings taking place on an ongoing basis.
  • The ending is bittersweet as we see one character elated at the prospect of promotion, this being the only character in the whole place completely oblivious to the branch’s impending closure.

10/10

Perfect Strangers 2.7 Karen Lynn Scott. A good story, well told....



Perfect Strangers 2.7

Karen Lynn Scott. A good story, well told. Funny, and with a lot of heart.

  • Balki thinks he is in love, but Larry can see that the girl (a student in Balki’s night-class) is just using him to do her classwork.
  • Plenty of opportunity here for the types of comedy unique to this show: scenes where Larry is explaining things to his naive cousin, and scenes of physical comedy between the boys.
  • Often, Larry’s view on things is wrong/skewed and the comedy comes from the quirks of his bad advice. But this is actually a story where his instincts are right-on-the-money and Balki refuses to listen.
  • A brooch (a family heirloom) becomes the subject of a brief-but-hilarious chase around the apartment, when Larry tries to confiscate it before Balki can give it away.
  • This is a really well-constructed script. No b-story, no padding. Each scene drives the story forward in a meaningful way. Perfect.
  • The ending is sweet and full of emotion. Great performances from both leads, particularly Bronson Pinchot.

9/10

The Mary Tyler Moore Show 3.22 A remarkably honest and mature...



The Mary Tyler Moore Show 3.22

A remarkably honest and mature script about a troubled romance.

  • The first half is all build-up: Mary gets a phone call from an ex-boyfriend visiting town, and agonises over whether or not to meet him. The second half shows us what they are like together.
  • It’s a really well-written and well-performed episode. It plays more like drama than comedy most of the time, as the emotions feel real. Especially in the closing scene.
  • The comedy that is in the episode comes from Ted. Ted Knight is in fine form here.

9/10

Moonlighting 3.1 Paul Sorvino, Brynn Thayer. There’s a very slim...



Moonlighting 3.1

Paul Sorvino, Brynn Thayer.

  • There’s a very slim story in this one. David’s father is getting married and David knows the bride-to-be from an old one-night-stand. That’s it.
  • Most of the screentime is just David and Maddie. Mostly they’re arguing. She thinks he’s being immature and selfish (and she’s right!).
  • He finally comes around. End of story.
  • There’s also a minor twist.
  • At least there are some funny lines, and great chemistry between the leads.
  • First-ever credit for Brynn Thayer who’s very good here and will go on to star in many TV shows.

7/10

Forever Knight 21 Cali Timmins. Two very good stories in...



Forever Knight 21

Cali Timmins. Two very good stories in parallel. One a flashback to 1966.

  • Most of this episode is set in 1966 and follows Nick as he befriends a family, while searching for an old book that might offer him a cure. He promises to get them out of East Berlin in exchange, and the drama comes from the race-against-time that follows: Lacroix, you see, has set the secret police onto them!
  • The other story involves a crazed gunman taking Natalie hostage at police HQ. It’s a more generic cop story, but it works really well here because Schanke is hidden under a nearby desk, waiting to pounce.
  • The start is great. Both storylines are up and running really fast. And if one doesn’t grip you, the other one will. Each alone could easily sustain an hour, but paired together like this they form an exciting episode.
  • The visuals are impressive. The East Berlin scenes are beautifully filmed.
  • The ending is great! Nick, alone, listening to his voicemail. Ever the lonely hero.

10/10

Knots Landing 1.7 Les Lannom, John Dennis Johnston. A...



Knots Landing 1.7

Les Lannom, John Dennis Johnston. A Karen-centric story about a biker gang.

  • When bikers start terrorizing the neighbourhood, Karen leads the fight to stand up to them.
  • A story-idea that doesn’t really fit in with the KL brand. Even in these early days of self-contained stories.
  • The best thing about it is the character-writing for Karen and Richard. She’s heroic and stubborn, and he’s the guy we enjoy disliking (for, in this case, advocating capitulation).
  • And Val gets a lovely speech wherein she throws her support fully behind Karen, highlighting the strong bond between them.
  • There are two problems with the story. First, it’s a cliche that belongs on more action-driven shows. Second, it’s a story that doesn’t have an easy clean-cut ending. The biker gang clearly have the upper hand all the way thought. So, in order to end it, the script contrives a kidnapping and fist-fight to bring a climax where we are led to believe the villains willd o jail-time. But it feels hollow and unlikely. Up to this, the gang have played with smart with their intimidation.

4/10

Sledge Hammer! 2.1 Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to...



Sledge Hammer! 2.1

Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to season one, the show returns by poking fun at the insanity of TV.

  • The best parts of the episode are all the digs at other TV shows: The Cosby Show, Matlock, Max Headroom, ALF, etc. There’s even a reference to the show’s own ratings. Very sly, very clever, very funny.
  • Other than that, the episode is very much driven by Sledge’s (unique) personality. His outrage at a ‘wimp’ cop provides many gags in the first half, while his resistance to brainwashing is a source of much humour in the second half.
  • Third - and last - the laughs come from a selection of very strong one-liners. Often these are impeccably set up by Anne-Marie Martin, who excels at playing ‘straight man’ to David Rasche in this episode.

9/10

Sledge Hammer! 2.1 Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to...



Sledge Hammer! 2.1

Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to season one, the show returns by poking fun at the insanity of TV.

  • The best parts of the episode are all the digs at other TV shows: The Cosby Show, Matlock, Max Headroom, ALF, etc. There’s even a reference to the show’s own ratings. Very sly, very clever, very funny.
  • Other than that, the episode is very much driven by Sledge’s (unique) personality. His outrage at a ‘wimp’ cop provides many gags in the first half, while his resistance to brainwashing is a source of much humour in the second half.
  • Third - and last - the laughs come from a selection of very strong one-liners. Often these are impeccably set up by Anne-Marie Martin, who excels at playing ‘straight man’ to David Rasche in this episode.

9/10

Sledge Hammer! 2.1 Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to...



Sledge Hammer! 2.1

Cheerfully ignoring the shocking ending to season one, the show returns by poking fun at the insanity of TV.

  • The best parts of the episode are all the digs at other TV shows: The Cosby Show, Matlock, Max Headroom, ALF, etc. There’s even a reference to the show’s own ratings. Very sly, very clever, very funny.
  • Other than that, the episode is very much driven by Sledge’s (unique) personality. His outrage at a ‘wimp’ cop provides many gags in the first half, while his resistance to brainwashing is a source of much humour in the second half.
  • Third - and last - the laughs come from a selection of very strong one-liners. Often these are impeccably set up by Anne-Marie Martin, who excels at playing ‘straight man’ to David Rasche in this episode.

9/10

Hunter 4.11 A good story from two of my favourite writers: Roy...



Hunter 4.11

A good story from two of my favourite writers: Roy Huggins and Joe Menosky.

  • The high point is the conclusion, particularly the final two scenes which are excellent and very, very powerful.
  • The case-of-the-week concerns the murder of an old flame of Rick’s and there are quite a lot of flashback scenes to tell us about her and flesh out her very interesting character.
  • Rick and Dee Dee work separately here, as they have a difference of opinion as to how to proceed. There’s some nice dialogue between them about this, when she comes back to report that ‘her’ suspect has been telling lies. A short scene illustrating, I feel, one of the strengths of their partnership and why it works so well.
  • Great performances from the guest cast. Kim Morgan Greene is perfect in a very challenging role.
  • The solution comes at the right time in the script, at a point when the audience is just about to make the same conclusion Rick does. The mechanism that prompts him (an undamaged statue) isn’t wholly convincing but it’s a minor quibble in a strong story. And it does get the detectives to a very sad and worthwhile ending.

9/10

Mission: Impossible 096 Arlene Martel. A simple story with some...







Mission: Impossible 096

Arlene Martel. A simple story with some intricate plotting.

  • A terrorist serving a life sentence is about to be pardoned, and the IMF must work to prevent that happening by sowing seeds of distrust on both sides of the arrangement. The terrorist must be convinced that his pardon is a lie and that escape is his only option. That escape attempt can then be used to get him killed.
  • Broadly speaking, it’s a basic task: lying to both sides. The details of the plot involve fake listening devices and dummy explosives.
  • There’s no major tension, other then the arrival of a thunderstorm while Barney is transferring some nitroglycerine. The first act ends on a dramatic note, when Jim’s cover is apparently blown, but the tension dissipates quickly with a weak explanation in act two.
  • The best thing about the episode is the always-stunning Arlene Martel as the terrorist’s woman (to use Paris’ description). As we watch her doomed efforts to plan her man’s escape, one cannot help but feel a tinge of empathy for her. Something the ever-cold IMF team clearly do not. Although Barney does hold her back at the end, thus saving her from sharing her lover’s fate.

8/10

The Hardy Boys Mysteries 10 Cesare Danova, Elyssa Davalos....







The Hardy Boys Mysteries 10

Cesare Danova, Elyssa Davalos. Fast-moving, mysterious and fun.

  • In Egypt, Frank sees a girl’s purse being stolen in the street. He chases the thief and gets the purse back for her. Except… she doesn’t want it back, and runs off. What’s going on?
  • This one is a lot of fun, with a lot of interesting things happening from the start and some major story points left unexplained until late in the episode, thus keeping the audience guessing.
  • Production values are good. Footage from Egypt looks fantastic and is seamlessly matched with the main action. Sets look great, too.
  • Chemistry/Banter between the two leads is excellent. And all of the comedy in the episode hits the mark.
  • Great guest cast. Always great to see Cesare Danova or Elyssa Davalos.

9/10

Peter Gunn 1.5 Whit Bissell. This one positively zips along,...



Peter Gunn 1.5

Whit Bissell. This one positively zips along, with action and atmosphere at every turn.

  • Peter shows up to meet a guy - a low-level crook - but the guy has been murdered. And our hero is nearly killed himself searching the victim’s place.
  • This is one of those stories where the villains think the hero has something - or knows something - and he has to spend his time dodging bullets while trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
  • Jean Inness shows up in the final scenes and - as the pieces fall into place - it becomes quite a touching and sad story.
  • Enjoyed the scenes with Peter and his girl. Nice, easy, cosy vibe.

7/10

Soap # 038 Except for the final scene (a very sad death) this is...



Soap # 038

Except for the final scene (a very sad death) this is an average episode.

  • The reconciliation between Mary and Burt seems awkward, as is the idea that they would cheat on one another. Even by accident. Hopefully this is the end of this particular story arc.
  • The Chuck/Bob scene is funny. Maybe their best one.
  • The Burt/Danny bag scene at the start feels forced.
  • Elaine’s death is sad. I liked the character, but I guess the writers didn’t think they could do anything else with her.

7/10

Taxi # 038 A slim idea for a story with some good comedy bits in...



Taxi # 038

A slim idea for a story with some good comedy bits in the second half. And a touching ending.

  • Reverend Jim buys a horse.
  • Funniest moments come in the second half when the guys visit Jim at home. Alex’s efforts to crack a walnut are particularly amusing.
  • The eulogy at the end is genuinely sad.

7/10

Space: 1999 # 015 Doesn’t work. Too slow and too silly. A party...



Space: 1999 # 015

Doesn’t work. Too slow and too silly.

  • A party of Alphans (that we’ve never met and consequently have no reason to care about) has disappeared. All the early scenes involve the regulars talking about them and then searching the planet for them. Talking and walking… for scene after scene after scene. Boring.
  • John and Helena disappear from the narrative early on and the focus shifts to Alan and Sandra. This is a welcome change - as it is always good to see Alan at the forefront - but they accomplish nothing much, either. He’s brave, she’s scared, that’s about it.
  • Eventually both Alan and Sandra are attacked (she’s kidnapped!) and we then begin to see what the story is about: the missing Alphans have been regressed to cavemen!
  • There then follows a lot of grunting and screaming, to fill out the hour.
  • The production values are superb, and there is a valiant attempt in the final scene to bring meaning and depth to proceedings, but this is a bad episode.

4/10

Sliders 043 Dawnn Lewis. Excellent. A fast-paced...





Sliders 043

Dawnn Lewis. Excellent. A fast-paced balls-to-the-wall sci-fi/fantasy thriller, showcasing a dark side to our beloved characters.

  • With an alien parasite inside of her, Maggie goes on a rampage through the city. And she’s leaving death and destruction everywhere, while the Sliders give chase.
  • It’s a story you’ve seen before but the SLIDERS version tells it well, zipping along and adding elements unique to the show.
  • First, it is revealed that finding the symbiote/parasite might help the world they are on, and put an end to it’s forced organ donor programme.
  • Second, the three core Sliders debate among themselves about whether to stay on this world to find/help Maggie if the timer runs out. This is a fascinating and dark discussion, of a type that would never have happened if the Professor were still alive. The show and the characters have evolved. And gotten more grim.
  • And I must say - much as I enjoy the earlier, cosier version of the show - this is a great development moving forward. Perfect example: that downbeat ending. Damn.

10/10