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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Has Officially Begun: Royal Pains is Back!

I was super psyched to watch Royal Pains last night and catch up on the goings-on of all our Hamptons friends. First, where we left off...

Hank stayed in the Hamptons for the winter camped out at Mrs. Newberg's house while Evan was off gallivanting around Europe with Paige. Jill left the Hamptons for the first time for Uruguay and Divya called off her wedding with Raj while contained in a hazmat truck because they might have contracted the plague from their dance instructor. Also, Boris evicted Hank and Evan from Shadow Pond and Marissa left as well. Eddie is in jail in Florida and you're all caught up!

As the show opens we see Hank running on the beach with a beard! I have some friends who left their facial hair grown for the winter, but Hank must have kept his well-trimmed, because he didn't seem to have a very full beard. Then we see him at the barber, clean-shaven. He thanks the barber, who thanks him by charging him $30. Hank balks a little, but realizes that when the barber raises the price of a beard shaving, summer must have truly arrived!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True Blood: Faeries and Witches and Vamps, Oh My!

True Blood
Season 4, Episode 1
"She's Not There"

Listen, I love Sci-Fi and horror and epic fantasy novels, television and movies but, I. DO. NOT. LIKE. VAMPIRE. STORIES. I didn't like Anne Rice's Chronicles in the '90s, nor have I read the Twilight novels. I don't watch Vampire Diaries; I haven't even read the Sookie Stackhouse novels. but I like True Blood. I like it a lot. Due to my anti-vampire bias, I was a latecomer to the show but I spent last spring becoming a fan before Season 3 started and now, I'm hooked. Its not because of the vampires per se; its because this world of Bon Temps, Louisiana is gritty, and nasty and corrupt and filled with complex people (living and dead). At the end of Season 3, we learned (finally) that Sookie is of the fae and she followed Claudine down the rabbit hole.

"She's Not There" picks up with Sookie arriving in the FaeryLand section of the Greek Parthenon or wherever the fuck this is (or whatever dimension this is). A few things happen in quick succession. First, Sookie runs into Barry the Bellboy (you'll remember him from the strange trip to Texas where Eric, Bill, and Sookie tried to free Godric from the clutches of the Fellowship of the Sun (a cult like organization that had just taken on Sookie's brother, Jason, as the newest God warrior). Anyhoo, Barry was the bellboy in the Vamp hotel they stayed at and was unique for having the same telepathic powers as Sookie. However, he was much less comfortable with his abilities. Here though, in FaeryLand, Barry is super psyched to not be a freak and is totally digging his male Faery Godmother, Lloyd (gender labels be damned!). Second, Sookie is wary of this trippy light fruit everyone is eating, even though it tastes like pure happiness ... sounds like a box of Mallomars on a winter night. Third, Sookie sees Rocky Bobby's daddy standing around, eating light fruit. Oops, here Gary Cole is playing Granddaddy Earl, Sookie's long lost grandfather. Once Earl gets over his initial confusion as to why this hot chick is hitting on his old geezer ass, he is even MORE confused to learn he has been sucking on the light fruit for Twenty Years! He only thinks 2 weeks have gone by so we've quickly established that time pretty much stands still in this FaeryVerse.

Credits. These credits always ... disturb me. I don't know its just a feeling. Okay, fast forwarding the credits.

Burn Notice: Its Awkward When You Mix New Friends and Old

Burn Notice
Season 5, Episode 1
"Company Man"

I'm so excited for the return of Burn Notice; its serves as the official start of my summer! Lets get right into it.

Michael (Westen, in case you are silly and have never watched this awesome show) is now working with the CIA, not yet as an Agent but rather as a CIA asset (the USA Network missed an opportunity to have Annie Walker serves as his contact but whatever, I'll let it slide). And what is he doing for the CIA? Oh you know, the regular. Travelling the world, hunting down parties to the massive conspiracy (or covert network as Michael v/os) that led to his, and I guess many others, burn notice. He wears lots of suits and shoots lots of guns and we see lots of people rounded up. We'll soon find out that its been a busy 6 months since the last mini finale. As we finish the ass kicking montage, Michael, along with Max, his CIA contact (played by alleged heartthrob Grant Show - my sister had a poster of him on her wall from his Ryan Hope days ... he looks much more bloated here than I remember him), head in to some nondescript building to round up the 31st of the conspirators. A quick first impression on Max, he is clearly jealous of Raines' (the "boss", played by awesome H!ITG! (Hey! Its that Guy!) Dylan Baker, who I loved best in Kings - a great NBC show that should have aired on SyFy and not broadcast TV, sporting a horrible beard) affection for Michael and I think this will be an issue down the road. After some banter about how Raines is grumpy, the clock is ticking and Max clearly has an inferiority complex about Michael's skillz that killz (rarely), we get to the first useful spy trick of the season to put towards your future criminal behavior (this show really is a fun textbook for burgeoning thieves and spies). We learn that RFID security is easy to get around if you have a gecko (again USA Network missed a perfect product placement by not having the GEICO mascot v/o this scene). The gecko is a piece of "complicated electronics but a simple principle, any key can be copied, even a digital one." Good to know Michael. Thanks!

The latest bad guy's name is Hector, Hector Oh (Oh? Oh realllly) though he denies it, he says he's Tim. Michael gives him the choice of the "easy way" or the "hard way" -- you will always wind up hurt or unconscious with Michael and the "hard way" (though rarely killed). Hector plays dumb (poorly. And being all sweaty and shifty doesn't lend you credibility "Tim") but then tries to come at Michael and Max with a knife ... has he never watched this show before? -- Michael will eat you up like a big cup of yogurt and spit you out -- but rarely kill you. Michael kicks Hector's ass and Max subdues him with some sleepy time injection. Michael calls in a medical emergency and we see them using the old, "CIA posing as an ambulance" trick to get Hector out of the building they just broke into. Hey, Raines' command center is in the ambulance, convenient. Raines tells Michael, over Michael's protestations and pleas that he needs answers, that he is going to be sitting out of the interrogation of Hector. Also, he's sending him home for a rest!

EM:WLE: Tiny White Guy Meets Big Black Girl

I managed to watch the latest installment of EM:WLE last night and it the process, got my husband interested too. He pointed out something a little strange though. If Chris lives with the fatestants for 90 days, how can he do more than four of these amazing transformations in one year? Curious, right? But rather than dwell on it, let's get to LaRhonda's amazing transformation. When we meet LaRhonda, she's a large, unhappy woman, with some sort of secret that has led her to be fat for her whole life. She coaches some sort of flag waving team (my high school didn't have a band or anything, so I'm not really very knowledgable about these things) and that's what she's doing when Chris enters the gym with a drum - my guess? Chris was definitely a band geek in high school! LaRhonda tackles Chris and they head to California for boot camp. We see LaRhonda's first weigh-in - on the loading dock as usual since the scales inside the Health and Longevity Center aren't really big enough. It seem like kind of a weak excuse to me, since they could have put a scale like the one on the loading dock inside, but I guess it serves its purpose of shaming the fatestants. This time, we don't see any cooking classes, just some medical testing and the first workout where Chris kicks LaRhonda's ass until he thinks she might quit, but she tells him she won't, after telling him that she was molested when she was 8 and never told anyone and that's why she's fat. And then we're back in Oklahoma. Chris moves in and they go grocery shopping together. Chris explains the important of eating breakfast as well as the need to eat the colors of the rainbow when eating veggies, to which LaRhonda replies "taste the rainbow", which is the Skittles tag line, if I am remembering correctly. At the 90 weigh in, if LaRhonda loses 100 pounds, her phase one goal, she gets, a new car! (insert Bob Barker intonation here). And, after the usual commercial break, we learn that at 333 pounds, she has lost exactly 100 pounds and the new car is all hers!

Chris leaves, which usually cues all sorts of drama, but LaRhonda's lapse doesn't seem to have hurt her very much, because at the 180 day weigh-in, with a phase 2 goal of 60 pounds, LaRhonda loses...60 pounds. Really? Twice in a row she's lost exactly the right amount? Not much happens before the 270 day weigh-in, where we learn that LaRhonda must lose about 50% of her original body weight to qualify for the skin removal surgery. This time, she gets to weigh in inside the California facility. And with over 47% of her original body weight lost, she's a candidate, woohoo! She meets with the plastic surgeon who shows us that she has about 5 inches on skin that can be removed (ewww!) and with that, LaRhonda gets to say goodbye to Bertha - yes, she named her stomach.

On Day 365, in front of her friends and family, we find out that LaRhonda has lost 202 pounds. You go girl!

So, I learned a few things this week. First, Chris explained that for the first 90 days of the program, they took her out of work and made exercise and eating right her full-time job. So, that's why it seems like none of the fatestants ever work. Aha! Second, Chris Powell will sleep anywhere and uses a guitar as an alarm clock - that's how he wakes LaRhonda up for her workout at 6am.

This will be my last post for a while as I am about to be on maternity leave for a while. Hopefully, Chris Powell will be my motivation to get rid of all this baby weight, either than or my office's Biggest Loser competition. But either way, I will be back in August and will likely start recapping again then. If I have a chance in the midst of baby-craziness, I'll try to do some blogging about Royal Pains! If not, see you all on the other side.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Suits: Another Bromance? Really?

Episode 1: Suits (Pilot).

So despite getting pretty much panned by the New York Times, when I noticed that it was 10:10pm, and I was about to start cooking last night, I thought, why not watch Suits. I missed the first 10 minutes and was a little confused about the drug plotline (which I continue to be confused by eventhough I have now seen the beginning), but either way, I decided to keep watching. To be perfectly honest, I don't think it's worth writing a recap of this show. The gimmick for those who haven't seen it, is that Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) has the ability to remember what he's read and if he understands it, he never forgets it. This has allowed him to take and pass the bar exam on a bet, even though he's never been to law school. A word to those not in the know, the bar exam has nothing to do with being a lawyer! Anyway, he winds up at an interview with Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), who is impressed by Mike and offers him a job on the spot, but now has to lie to everyone because Mike didn't go to Harvard (the only law school that this firm hires from - huh!?!?), but he didn't go to any law school. Lots of random things happen in this episode, but in the end, by using their two skill sets, Mike and Harvey manage to win their pro bono case. Here are some issues that I had with the show. While I applaud USA for their (usually) excellent summer fare, I am beginning to get a little tired for the "bromance"-centric nature of these shows. I think the original series to really do this was House. The relationship between House and Wilson was clearly the reuslt of knowing each other for a very long time. By the end of the first episode of Suits, Mike and Harvey are best buds. Presumably, this episode happened over the course of a week or so. A little bit of a rush, no? Was it love at first sight for these two? With the glut of these type of relationships out there (White Collar, Psych, Franklin & Bash), this one felt a little forced. Second, the "B" plot, with Mike as a pot-head who was being chased by the cops because his best friend set him up, or something like that, seemed completely unnecessary. I liked the relationship between Mike and Rachel, the paralegal, but not enough to save the show. The other lawyer characters felt a little off too. Jessica Pearson, the managing partner, and Louis Litt, Harvey's rival, were both sketched pretty thinly. Also, drug testing in a law firm - this seemed to only be brought up to further the B plot. If you liked it, enjoy, but this show will not be On My DVR this summer. SB out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Falling Skies" Minicap

Falling Skies has a fan in me. TNT's newest original programming, a 10 hour event that promises to be better than NBC's The Event, Falling Skies is fantastic TV fun. Despite the urge to think this is a mid-series ER episode, what with the unlikely alien invasion, chaotic battle scenes and Noah Wyle (I feel LP shooting daggers at me but, come on, ER had some crazy episodes in its day), we know this is not ER because we are in Boston, not Chicago. I forgive you if you were initially confused.

EM: WLE: Ummm, I missed it

So, I had been watching EM:WLE live for the last two weeks. This week, I wasn't home to watch it and (GASP!), I hadn't set my DVR to record it, so apologies to all of you. I tried to watch last night on On Demand, but no luck there either. I'll try ABC's website, but if not, we'll just skip a week and pick up with the morbidly obese and their transformer next time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Covert Affairs: "Bang and Blame"

Annie's going back to school! A mole is leaking names of high value CIA recruits and Annie is sent back to the Farm to complete her training in firearms, graduate and, oh, also root out the mole. Another solid episode in CA's sophomore season, "Bang and Blame" closes a nice plot line from the Pilot (the completion of Annie's training and actual graduation from the training program) but also does a nice job appreciating what she has been through as an active spy for more than a season. Several parts of the episode were very reminiscent of when Harry Potter has to return to Hogwarts after battling Death Eaters in the real world and deal with stupid charm spells in Flitwick's class ... if that makes any sense to anyone that is not a Harry Potter fan.

The full recap to come.

Covert Affairs: "Good Advices"

Covert Affairs
Season 2, Episode 2: "Good Advices"

And we're back. And it seems Covert Affairs is stronger than ever. the season premiere drew 4.56 million viewers and dominated Tuesday night! We open on an empty CIA office; oh that is never good. Seriously, is the operational floor of CIA headquarters ever deserted? Jai appears to tell Annie she is late for a meeting whose time was moved up -- uh oh. Maybe your little Starbucks run wasn't worth it? SURPRISE! its Annie's super secret birthday celebration. A celebration she is particularly surprised about since her birthday is not for 6 weeks. After some hi jinks over the fat Asian guy not getting cake (way to stereotype fat Asians show), Fat Assign Guy blows out the birthday candle and proceeds to stuff his fat face. Side Bar: My job has LOTS of birthday cake-based celebrations and I have learned, NEVER, EVER blow out the candles -- the germophobes will HATE you. Wave at the candle or clap or wave a combustible paper plate next to it. Anything, just for the love of god, don't blow.

Auggie, being the all knowing (but not all seeing, *rim shot*) CIA spy that he is, knows that Annie will not be around for her actual Birthday. In fact, here comes Joan now to tell Annie she is going to Paris! France, not Texas though that is not the first thing Annie verifies (with the CIA, it would be the first thing I'd verify). Annie's assignment, cultivate a new asset who works for the Syrian embassy in France. After Joan reminds Annie to keep her receipts, wait, the CIA doesn't have an American Express Black card the girl can use?!?!, Annie is on her way. Cut to an Annie Surveillance Montage. See Annie follow Selma (the asset) around Paris, she her shop, see her take inconspicuous photos holding the camera at her waist as every casual photographer does. Smooth. Following Selma into a museum and flirting with Auggie (who does some more self-deprecating blind guy humor), we learn that Annie cannot multitask and loses the asset to be. Annie Surveillance Fail!


Joan has been summoned to jury duty. Auggie is pedeconferencing with her as he asks her if she is sure she wants to go -- he knows a guy, tech nerd babble babble. Joan doesn't think she'll ever get picked for a jury. I smell wacky jury duty hi jinks to come.Wait, Auggie is in charge while Joan is indisposed? Is there no one more senior? What can go wrong.? Back in Paris (France, not Texas, keep up), Annie has followed Selma into a show store where her credit card is embarrassingly declined. its embarrassing even in another language. While this is going, Annie opts to switch bags with her, instead of, you know, actually make contact with her. Annie explains to us, through an exposition telephone call with Auggie that its psychologically better if Selma discovers the switched bag and reaches to Annie instead of the other way around. ooookkk? I think someone just wanted to buy a EUR6,000 bag. As Annie is expositing, she is also looking through Selma's planner and finds some numbers (NUMBERS! LOST! HOW I MISS YOU!!!! COME BACK!!!! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!!!) . The numbers are 43-59-14-17 in case you are curious or if its important later. As Annie is explaining the womanly bond of expensive handbags, Joan comes into Auggie's office, unannounced, and says that she does not in fact share the woman gene Annie, stop being a silly female. The Langley brain trust brings Annie up to speed on the fact that they understand Chemical Kanan (awesome name and nice hat tip to Chemical Ali from Iraq war fame) is going to be in town and Selma will likely know where. get on the asset cultivating Annie!!!

As Jai is having a freakout about Auggie being charge (I don't like it when Jai and I agree), Annie is (finally) making contact with Selma Devrient, the soon to be asset. As the ladies exchanges bags, Annie somehow convinces Selma to stay at the cafe and down a bottle of wine with her. Oooh, how very French of them. Selma is kind of a desperate woman seeking companionship where ever she can find it. My examples in support of this characterization are (i) her agreeing to split a bottle of wine in the middle of the day with a complete stranger; and (ii) her agreeing to have a date with a man that she doesn't even know; and (iii) her agreeing to blow off said stranger date to attend a Black Tie affair with even bigger stranger woman. Who goes to Black Tie affairs with stranger?!? French Weirdo.

As Annie and Desperately Seeking Someone Selma approach the bar at the Black Tie Affair (didn't they just finish at least 1 bottle of wine), Annie has to fend off a "French Pig", straight from central casting. When DSSSelma goes to the ladies room, Eyal Levine - the swarthy Mossad agent last scene in Switzerland when he and Annie had to clean up a dead drop gone bad - appears out of thin air and has been apparently following Annie all day. Why do you ask. Oh, hear comes the answer now back from the ladies room. Remember the stranger Selma met and blew off to come to the black tie affair with Annie? His name was "George" and this is him! Oh Hi George ... if that is your real name (which it is not). Say it with me: TWIST!

While Selma is getting in trouble for being at the Black Tie Affair with 2 complete strangers she just met by her Syrian boss who was also at the party, Joan is trying to discreetly talk to Auggie via her cell phone while the voire dire is beginning at her jury duty. Of course, she gets in trouble with the judge and its all very awkward. Let me just say Kari Matchett is very funny in this episode with the awkward body language and the dread most of us (ok, maybe just me) feel at having to serve jury duty when you know, just know your job needs you horribly. The thing is, its disconcerting for me to find her funny because its kind of like when your parents try to be funny. It makes you squirm a little bit and you'd rather they just play the roles you have assigned them in your head. Joan Campbell is not funny. Don't throw me off show!

As the Black Tie Affair ends, we see the American, the Israeli and the Frenchwoman get into a limo (sounds like the start of a horrible joke), DSSSelma breaks it down for the worst spies their respective country's have to offer - "do you think I think its just a coincidence that 2 wonderful foreign strangers pop into my life right when Chemical Kanan is coming to town; I am way too much of a loser for that to happen to by coincidence" (a paraphrasing sure, but fairly accurate). She tells them she will sell her access and what she knows to the highest bidder, Au revoir bitches.

Annie wins the bidding war at EUR50,000 and then we get to see her sitting in the Parisian diner, sitting in the Parisian diner, sitting in the Parisian diner. As Annie heads to DSSSelma's apartment to find out what's up with the standing her up in the Parisian diner, she runs into Eyal and they quickly determine that DSSSelma promised them both the information. That little desperate minx. Oops, DSSSelma is dead. See what being dishonest gets you? its get you dead. Let that be a lesson to you kids. As they are checking the apartment, the would be assassin knocks Eyal over -- wait, what kind of self-respecting assassin doesn't shoot an intruder at the scene of his own crime but rather knocks him down like they are fighting to get to the last pudding in the fridge? Lame. Anyway, the fact that Eyal is not dead allows us to chase, chase, chase the assassin across some French rooftops. Assassin is hardcore and decide to plummet to his death instead of letting Eyal help him up. Annie's reaction to the splattered assassin? Run away. Smartest thing the girl's ever done.

As Annie wanders Paris in a daze of failure, she gets a Happy Birthday video text from Cut Throat Bitch and her kids. Awwww. This gives Annie her a-ha moment (fitting given CTB's House-connection). Annie cracks the Numbers! The Numbers! are code for a train that Chemical Kanan will be arriving on. Since Auggie can't get through to Joan, who has had her cell phone confiscated, Jai does some nice peer pressuring into getting Auggie to push the button to allow Annie to extend her stay in Paris a wee longer and to try and get a picture of CK (CK, terrorist fragrances for men). With the help of Eyal, who said he was leaving but totally come back to help Annie in train station, Annie gets the picture of CK. Of course, Eyal promptly boosts the photo while Annie and he bond in another cafe about how their secret lives destroy their family relationships. I want to take a break here and mention how much sexual chemistry Piper Perabo has with everyone she is on screen with. Seriously. She is one minute from doing it with everyone she meets. That's probably a good trait for a spy. Anyway, I digress. As Annie realizes the photo has been boosted, she comes back to the table (she gone to the potty) just in time to see Eyal getting thrown into a van. Eyal has been kidnapped by a Mercedes-Benz product placement. What a horrible commercial for Mercedes. "The Mercedes Sprinter, the official vehicle of kidnappers and terrorists." Talk about going after a niche market. Annie explains to Auggie that she is going to save Eyual because she is the only one looking out for him; um, I assume Mossad is probably looking out for him too, you mother hen.

Rescue Plan! First, Annie blows up the Sprinter as to create a diversion. it works but as she is untying Eyal, a guy barges in on them. How rude! Kung Fu Annie kicks his ass and Annie and Eyal try to make a frantic break for it. however, Annie ends up getting surrounded with several guns pointed at her head. Until Eyal saves the day by shooting one kidnapper dead and snapping the neck of the other, Mossad style (I don't really think there is a different style in snapping necks but it does sound cooler).

Wrap Ups! Annie and Eyal are saying goodbye and Annie is fretting over not having a receipt for the EUR 500 car ride out to save Eyal's ass. Eyal helpfully writes out a receipt for her but when she looks at it, its a birthday wish. Nice! But hey, how about the freaking receipt she needs. Do you know how much EUR 500 is in USD? More than a stupid birthday card is worth. Joan, still stuck in jury duty and clearly about to be put on a case, finally succumbs to how crappy jury duty is and uses a stranger's cell phone to text Auggie to get her as out of there. The Judge immediately gets a note delivered to her and Joan is released. Hopefully, the stranger saves that text from his cell phone to help spring himself from the torture of sitting a jury trial. Joan and Auggie look over the pictures that Mossad has generously returned to the CIA (even though the CIA took the pictures) and Joan gives a "pep talk" about how putting your friends in danger always sucks. Go Team! I hope Joan is part of the CIA Career Advancement Mentoring Program. Last scene, CTB is giving Annie her very own cupcake for her birthday and Annie spills the beans about really being in Paris (France, not Texas). Clearly, Eyal's talk of secrets from family being bad has gotten to her. However, she doesn't mention the CIA/spy part so, you know, baby steps.

See you all next week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Covert Affairs: "Begin the Begin" ...ning of Season 2!

Welcome Back Covert Affairs fans ... I know you are out there and I know you feel shame but DON'T! Its Summer! its time for the USA Network to carry us away with beautiful people doing impossible tasks in unlikely scenarios. Let's get to it shall we and see if my sexy proposition proves it self out

Cut to the opening scene of episode 1 of Season 2, Covert Affairs. Annie Walker (played by the "Golden Globe nominated for her work on Covert Affairs," Piper Perabo) is in a tiny bikini, walking the beach looking thoughtful, as you do in a tiny bikini. Turns out that Annie is having some flashbacks to the immediate aftermath of Season 1's finale, in which her lost lover, Ben Mercer, had been shot in the back as they were embarking a helicopter at the end of an asset extraction in Sri Lanka. We see her in the ambulance, we see her crying, we see Ben flatlining. Ben's dead baby, Ben's dead ...


Ben's not dead; he's in a wheelchair! On the beach! With Annie! They kiss. Also, they are at the US Naval Base at Guam (fun fact, Guam K-Mart is the world's largest K-Mart). Do me a favor, scroll back to my opening sentences: beautiful people (check!); impossible tasks (ever push a wheelchair on the beach? check!); unlikely scenarios (do you think a lot of tiny bikini beach walking goes on at THE UNITED STATES NAVAL BASE AT GUAM?!?! check!).

Back in his hospital bed after the sexy beach walk/push, Ben is being debriefed by Annie in such a manner as to make me think she is going to be debriefing his underwear in a second ... even though they are in a hospital bed where there is a duty nurse watching them ... hey? Where'd that duty nurse go?!? Uh oh, duty nurses probably just don't disappear from their station at the US Naval Base at Guam. RUN!

Luckily, Ben and Annie take my advice because 2 of the worst goons ever bust in a door and begin machine gunning the fuck out of the clearly empty hospital bed and room. Dumbasses. As Annie helps a hobbled Ben down some stairs they make a quick duck into a different floor entry way. As the goons go to bust down the door Annie opens it on them and shocks the one with CPR paddles, electrocuting his ass and sending him flying. To be fair, she did not shout "Clear!" which I think makes her move slightly underhanded.

Anyhoo, the dynamically hobbled duo run outside towards the US Naval Bases' front gate and just as they are going to be killed, the one guard on duty AT THE US NAVAL BASE AT GUAM shoots their assailant dead. Whew, thank goodness they were somewhere where an entire military garrison consisting of one soldier and a crappy duty nurse was stationed.

OOOOH, an updated opening title sequence with each cast member's face being displayed next to their name (very handy when recapping). Sadly, Peter Gallagher's eyebrows do not get their own separate cast billing. =(

Ben has been moved to Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland. And for his troubles has to deal with Jai Wilcox calling him an "asshole" (talk about the pot and the kettle buddy). I like that basic cable no longer has any fear of the FCC and can use "asshole" gratuitously. I use it gratuitously throughout my normal day so it makes me relate to the show's realism. As Annie heads to leave to go back to her job as super spy, clearly dreaming of her future with Ben by her side, Ben clearly makes the shady face of foreshadowed mischief. (pssst, Annie. Don't make any wedding plans with this guy just yet). Just to catch you up if you didn't watch last season and really? What else were you doing? Ben hit it and quit it with Annie some time ago in an exotic island, up and leaving her one morning and never telling her that he was a super secret spy in a deep BlackOps world. This experience was the entire catalyst for Annie joining the Company and being plucked from the Farm (think I read enough CIA spy novels?), seemingly for her killer language skills but really, just as bait by Arthur and Joan Campbell (the husband and wife team that run this section of the clandestine service of the CIA) as to lure Ben in from the cold since he had gone some what rogue. I'll save you an entire season worth watching and just tell you, it worked! Here we are.

Annie is returning home after being away, her cover story being that she was off hunting blah blah nonsense for her blah blah cover job of Smithsonian Museum artifact hunter blah blah Lamar, Missouri. Annie lives in the guest house of the home owned by her sister (played by the awesome Anne Dudek, who will always be Cut Throat Bitch to me and so shall be here, or CTB) and CTB's shady husband. This scene serves only to tell us that CTB's house was broken into while Annie was away, BTW thanks for the postcards from Lamar, Missouri that you clearly aren't aware you sent (smooth move super spy - its called keeping your cover story), but no worries, nothing was taken. Annie kind of freaks out and goes to her batcave, er, guest house and opens her spy safe, conveniently hidden in her couch cushion (I only keep crumbs, change and the remote in my couch cushion). Seems that all of her spy possessions are safe (see what I did there) and sound. While I clearly suspend by disbelief while watching this show, c'mon, the CIA doesn't know that the home of one of its operatives who was almost killed in both Sri Lanka and on the US Naval Base at Guam was broken into?!? Sorry. Disbelief re-suspended.

Back at the office, Joan and Annie have a girl to girl chat on whether Annie is ready to go back to work. Always the professional (when not trying to bed the hobbled CIA operative in a hospital), Annie says, yep, bring it on. New Job: Annie will be the new handler for an asset named Nadia, who is also the 79th ranked woman tennis player in the world. She is also the mistress of an Estonian trafficker named Morozoff ("Estonian Baddie" since I cannot confirm the spelling of his character's name) who is in town with her for the BMW DC Invitational (not a real tennis tournament, from what Google tells me). Annie is to deliver some flowers to Nadia at her practice and Nadia, using prearranged code words, is to tell Annie if she has new intel to deliver. Through a cool story telling device whereby Auggie v/os whats going on, we see the action play out. Oops, Nadia uses the wrong code words. Annie takes this for a sign that she is trouble. Auggie just thinks Nadia's an asshole (see the negative influence this show has had on me) asset that forgot the right words and that assets are like horrible children that make your life horrible. Okay grandpa, settle down. Anyway, Auggie tells Annie that if she must pursue this nonsense with Nadia, then head tail her (advanced spy driving maneuvers FTW) to her hotel and see if she can make contact. She does. In a sauna, sexy spy sauna time. Ew, Nadia is eating chocolate in the sauna -- not sexy and probably very melty. Gross. Anyway, she denies needing help but Annie sees the abuse on Nadia ... on her ankle, and her shoulder? Who abuses people in their ankle? Weirdo Abuser! Joan is telling Annie that they can only help Nadia if she requests help; did she? Um, she said, "leave me alone." Now, I'm no spy but that seems the opposite of "help me." BUT, what do I know. Joan greenlights surveillance on Nadia to be done by Annie, Auggie the blind guy and some IT nerd, who makes sexually suggestive equipment jokes. Nerd.

Meanwhile, Joan and Arthur are having a conversation that Arthur needs to hire an outside lawyer named Chet Liguardi, who will bankrupt them but probably keep Arthur from going to jail. Oh yeah, I skipped over this but Auggie's old flame, Liza Hearn, has been publishing weak stories about Arthur maybe being a corrupt seller of secrets. he is toxic to be around and now, with this whole Chet Liguardi business, probably poor. See, CIA heads are just like us, they have financial woes as well.

Ok, back to the worst assembled surveillance team ever. Annie hears what she thinks is a gun shot and goes bounding into the building where Nadia has just entered. Except, it was champagne being uncorked and there is a party going on in Nadia's honor, thrown by the Estonian Baddie, and boy, is Annie embarrassed. Joan, however, is not so much embarrassed as she is pissed and tells Annie the next day that she is shutting down Nadia as an asset and for her punishment, Annie has to review back issues of the Montreal Gazette for increased signs of chatter or some such post-9/11 worry stuff.

Cut to CTB's house to where some hardcore carpet cleaners have shown up in order to treat the carpets that Annie arranged to have ruined, with the help of CTB's clumsy kids and some grape juice. Hardcore Carpet Cleaner is really a CIA tech guy and seems overly pleased himself when he gets CTB to vacate the house so that they can sweep it for bugs (the electronic kind). Dude, you used a bunch of scary words and showed the soccer mom a gas mask. Not a terribly tough nut to crack; you didn't kill Osama buddy (GO SEAL TEAM SIX!!!!)

Back to Annie. So remember when Joan told her to stop working the Nadia angle; yeah, Annie apparently doesn't because here she is doing that thing they do on TV when keeping surveillance where they use a high speed telephoto lens and take 15,000 pictures a second of the same fucking thing because the guy isn't moving at all. Yeah, she's doing that. When she goes to tell Auggie about how the Estonian Baddie is still handing around Nadia's practice, Auggie tells her that she is paranoid and there is a fine line between being suspicious (good for a CIA agent) and paranoid (bad for everyone). Then, he tells her to go take the day off. Not so much my thing but for the women out there, Auggie has been doing chin ups and is all sweaty. Auggie is pretty ripped for a blind guy.

So, on her day off, Annie goes to the hospital to see Ben and ruh-roh, Ben is gone and according to the nurse, no one name Ben has been here. CIA SPY MAGIC! Obviously when your super spy boyfriend disappears on you, again, you go to your bosses house and try and demand answers. I think someone took the girlfriend to girlfriend scene a little too much to heart before, hmm? Anyway, Joan, in her good graces, does not bitch slap Annie for the breach in protocol but she also doesn't let her inside either (which I found very funny for some reason). no, instead they talk about spy stuff on Joan's front porch - I sweat these people never met a secret they weren't itching to have others find out about. Annie is making her demands on where Ben is but Joan decides to turn it into a secret spy mind trick thing; which Annie passes by successfully deducing Ben's general welfare without Joan telling her anything specific. Well done grasshopper. Annie and Auggie meet in the cleverly named bar, "The Tavern." As they begin to discuss Auggie's investigation results on the attach at the US Naval Base in Guam, Annie has a very House speaks to Wilson "a-ha" moment and tells Auggie they have to go. Hey, dude didn't finish his beer. Chillax super spy. No, ok.

As we revisit the v/o storytelling device, this time its Annie doing the talking and Auggie doing the (blind) walking. Annie has deduced, somehow, that Nadia is not the target but the assassin and Estonian Baddie is the target.


But, yep she's right. The handgun is sitting right there in Nadia's open gym bag during the BMW DC Invitational. Subtle Tennis Assassin. While Auggie is getting Estonian Baddie to safety, via some funny blind man at, the tennis match humor, Annie has decided Tennis Assassin is a is a sympathetic character and needs help. She intercepts Tennis Assassin in the tunnel after the match (which Tennis Assassin wins) and convinces her to not shoot Estonian Baddie but rather, come in and let the CIA protect her. Oh, there's coach, HI coach! Shit! Coach is shooting at us. Oh yeah, Tennis Assassin forgot to mention her new tennis coach is really FSB (new version of Russian KGB). Shoot shoot shoot. Run Run Run and Annie and Tennis Assassin Turned Not Assassin escape out the front of the hotel, jump into a car and speed way. TATNA: "How'd you know the engine would be on." Annie: "I didn't. Some of this is improvised" HA! Funniest exchange of the episode. Assassin Coach also jumps into a car who's engine is conveniently running and off we go. not before taking out a bunch of stereo-typed Russian drivers, playing chess on the trunk of waiting cars. Oh Come On. The Russian drivers are playing chess?!?! For shame show; the cold war has been over for some time now. Let's stick to making fun of terrorists.

Where were we. Oh yeah, chase, chase, chase. Nadia is muttering foreign words. Apparently they are Estonian curses and they are the only Estonian Annie knows. In her defense, I don't think I would learn much beyond the Estonian curses either. Annie does some super spy driving moves and gets Assassin Coach to crash herself into a tree. I like the arm pat Annie gives Nadia afterwards like she is consoling her over a lost puppy and not escaping a murder plot.

Wrap-Ups! Joan goes to her door and I swear I thought it was going to be Annie dressed in pajamas for a sleep over but no, its Chet Liguardi who Arthur has apparently hired (way to speak to your wife about that decision buddy) and who insists on starting work that night, at Joan and Arthur's house. ooookay. I think Chet might be homeless but that probably won';t come out until a later episode. He definitely has some social interaction issues, but maybe that's just how the actor was playing him. Nadia has to begin a new life; that includes no more tennis playing. Eh, she was 79th -- no big loss. At least she gets to eat chocolate without Assassin Coach yelling at her. They have a cute conversation about how Estonians only aspire to live and nothing more, way to paint a bleak picture of Estonian life, hopes and dreams Covert Affairs. Ooohhh secret meeting between Arthur and Ben. Ben can't see Annie but Arthur would like him to pick up his work where he left it, except now he'll have the CIA resources behind him. But, yeah, no more contact with Annie -- maybe in a few years. If you're good. Arthur's eyebrows have nothing to say on the matter. Arthur is kind of a dick, but I like that about him. And, we finish on Annie inviting Auggie out for a drink at The Tavern; except the creepy blind stalker is already standing behind her. And we fade out on the two with the best chemistry on this show.

This is a fun show; mindless but moves along well. It would never last on a broadcast network and would never even get picked up by HBO but its perfect for USA Network and its perfect for the summer!

See you next week when I promise to get the recap up sooner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

EM:WLE - Too Many Revelations

When I finished putting my daughter to bed last night and turned on the TV, I was happy to note that EM:WLE was starting in half an hour. So, I jumped around a little, waiting for it start and then settled in for another hour of "transformations" as Chris Powell loves to say. This week's episode focused on a 500 (well, 498, but that's not really worth the nitpicking, right?) pound man, Dana Baker, a bachelor who lives alone and loves to sing. Do these people have jobs? The first fatestant (thanks to Mr. C for the term!) was a school teacher and last week's was a kid, but at 44 years old, you would think this guy worked for a living. Anyway, to truly showcase how big this guy is and how ripped Chris Powell happens to be, we see Dana huffing his way through water aerobics in the pool at the YMCA, with his tremendous man-boobs literally floating underwater, as Chris bounds out of the locker room and canonballs into the pool. They hug, awww. Cut to commercial.

Chris and Dana fly to California to go through the whole evaluation process, with Dana quipping that he hopes they got him a second seat on the plane, no kidding! So, Dana weighs in at just about 500 pounds and Chris clearly has his work cut out for him. He goes through the medical testing process and then the test kitchen to eat a healthier version of his beloved ribs and then its on to the gym. Several times I thought we were going to see a Biggest Loser-esque puke fest or some fainting, especially when Dana eyes rolled back in his head and could barely walk, but seemed to make it through the workout and be excited for what was to come.

They head back to Tennessee, where Dana's house has been transformed into a gym and his old fridge has been replaced and filled with healthy stuff. Chris moves in for the month and things seem to be going well, until Chris opens the fridge and finds ginger ale (and not the diet version) and some canned fruit in syrup, I think. Why you'd buy that and then keep it in your fridge is beyond me, but there's clearly alot going on with this guy. Chris basically blows a gasket, chucks the soda and canned fruit outside and then goes through Dana's car and trash, getting more and more pissed off as he finds more and more fast food wrappers. And then its time to get down to the heart of the matter. Dana eats because he was abused and no one in his family even knows. Well, millions of people know now. Chris thanks Dana for telling him and then the show continues. WTF!!! Is this guy going to get some therapy or something? Is that it? I've seen revelations on BL. They are usually of the "my daddy didn't love me" variety and Jillian would talk those to death, until they decided that, yes, they were worth it and someone was going to love them now that they were skinny. But sexual abuse? That goes a bit deeper, dontcha think?

Moving on, at the 3 month mark, Dana loses one pound more than the goal that Chris set for him of 110 pounds. Not too shabby. Dana then walks a mile and a half across a pedestrian bridge, barefoot. Ewwww. Can you imagine what's on that bridge? Then some homeless dude starts yelling "faaaaaaaaaaaaat" at poor Dana who's walking barefoot holding bags of fruit punch and steak. Chris, defender of the fat, asks his camera man and producer, I guess, if he can do something about it. He gets all up in the homeless dude's face and presumably the guy stops heckling. Chris leaves Tennessee and Dana goes to California to sing with his brother. Over the next 6 months we see Dana get more outgoing and happier with himself, but he also has a breakdown and when he returns to California for his 9 month weigh-in, he has not lost enough weight to qualify for the skin removal surgery. Also, we get to learn a little more about the inner workings of the show. Apparently, Chris is paying for the fatestants food. They submit receipts for reimbursement and get paid back. Chris is disappointed that Dana did not lose that much weight and starts looking at the receipts and sees all of the charges for pizza and ice cream and gets upset. And now, it's time for another revelation. Dana reveals to Chris and however many other people are watching the show, that he's gay and he's been hiding it for 45 years. Chris is very excited about this. Maybe this will be another 110 pound weight off Dana's back. But either way, please tell me I'm not crazy, but how many of these bombs is this guy going to drop in one hour! Geez. Anyway, it's now 10:50, which must mean that it's weigh-in time. In 365 days, Dana has lost...cut to commercial. Groan. Okay, 203 pounds and he's about to faint. He's still a big guy, but that's like a whole pretty big person he lost.

Dana thanks Chris and the show ends with the little declaration that he came out to his family and they love him as he is. Awwwww.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Biggest Loser, I mean Weight Loss Edition

In contrast to my esteemed colleague, Mike, I find that there is very little that I am interested in watching this summer. I am waiting patiently for Royal Pains to start at the end of the month (which I hope to blog about) and trying to prolong the season of Friday Night Lights, which I know is nearing its end and fuming at the prospect of no Mad Men this summer. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I kind of enjoyed EM:WLE last night. As a fan (I'm not really sure that's the right word) of the Biggest Loser, I thought this was just going to be a knock-off show for a different network and while there were some things that were the same, like the fact that after the commercial break (yes, I watched live, GASP!), the show picked up 45 seconds earlier than where it left off, which I find extremely annoying and that everytime there was about to be a reveal of some sort, the show cut to commercial, I actually found this to be much more realistic. First of all, losing a significant amount of weight over the course of a full year, is far more doable then 12 weeks. Second, these people featured on the show are living in their own houses with their temptations and family lives. Third, they only get to see the Bob Harper-like Chris Powell every three month after the initial three month phase. I have to imagine, that these people do a much better job of keeping the weight off then their BL counterparts do.

Also, I did like the fact that the show addresses that there are other complicating factors for these incredibly overweight people, by making the whole skin removal surgery part of the show. It seems that technically, the "contestants" are supposed to lose a certain percentage in order to be eligible for the surgery, but in the very first episode (I watched the last half an hour randomly last weekend), Rebecca didn't lose the correct percentage, but still got the surgery.

I can't say with certitude (a little shoutout to my disgraced Congressman and the ridculousness of "Weinergate") that I will watch every week and when I do I will blog more about the content of the individual show, rather than the general aspects of the show overall, but I was happy to have something to watch as the long summer of reality TV stretches out before me and I am happy to watch something from the Extreme Makeover franchise without Ty Pennington running around like a chicken with his head cut off.

Have a great summer and keep checking back for more!