"Law and Order: CI"
The detectives were called to a hotel room where a dead woman was found, a Ukrainian blonde that we had seen at the beginning of the show with her baby, and video surveillance showed that she had gotten off the elevator with a man but that another woman, dark-haired and unable to be identified, had been in the elevator with them. They found emails on the dead woman's computer that pointed to her as having been on a website for married people looking for something extra on the side. Hmmm, where have I heard of this before?
They ended up finding the man who was last with her, a married writer who was being blackmailed. He had woken up the next morning to find the girl dead, with a picture of him and the dead girl next to him. He already had a girlfriend on the side, but when she didn't show the night before, he had hooked up with one of the two women he had met at a bar. He had taken money from his wealthy wife to pay off the blackmailers, but the backstory from the guy and his girlfriend didn't quite mesh, so while he was already in jail, the girlfriend was taken in for questioning, and she showed up with her lawyer. We later found out that the girlfriend and the lawyer were in a lesbian relationship and were actually the ones involved in blackmailing married men who were cheating. After the man hung himself in jail, the detectives found out that he had met the girlfriend during a session of speed dating, and the girlfriend had already been involved in seducing and taping her sessions with married men, who were then blackmailed for their silence.
In a sting operation, the bartender at the bar purposely made an incorrect identification of the girlfriend as having been one of the two women at the bar with the guy. It turned out that the girlfriend was supposed to have blackmailed the guy, but instead, she let him fall in love with her and she developed feelings for him as well and was therefore unwilling to blackmail him. It was then revealed that her lawyer was actually the unidentified woman in the elevator and that she was the one who had killed the blonde in order to finally extort the money out of the man.
"Law and Order"
There were two drunk girls who had gone back to reclaim their car from a parking garage, but after they were refused possession of their car because of their inebriated state, one slept it off in the garage while the other wandered off and was reported missing. The detectives discovered that she was picked up by a guy in a cab, who turned out to be a pimp, and the cabbie reported that he dropped them off at a hotel that was known to be a workplace for prostitutes. Surveillance cameras showed that one of the hookers came out to pay the cabbie, so the detectives tracked down who she was and contacted her parents. They said they had previously sent her to rehab and so the detectives tracked down her former dealer, who led them to the hooker - Melinda. They also found the body of the dead girl but couldn't hold Melinda so let her go, hoping she would lead them to the dealer, who they thought had killed the girl. Sure enough, she did meet up with her dealer boyfriend and both were taken into custody. During the course of the trial, it turned out that the dealer boyfriend thought he had accidentally killed the girl after raping her, and he and Melinda, who had witnessed the rape, had both put the body in a bag. When the dealer boyfriend had gone to scout a place to dump the body, Melinda had noticed the girl in the bag moving, and she was jealous of her boyfriend's interest in the girl, so she ended up killing her after all.
There was also a side story that started during the voir dire segment about a member of the jury who became infatuated with the female ADA. That had been mentioned in the previous week's preview, so that had been the story I was interested in, but it ended up being a very small part of the show. Because the juror actually spoke to the ADA before the trial was over, she wanted to report the contact to the judge, but the male ADA didn't want her to because it would derail the trial and they'd have to start over again. So there was a bit of story about the fact that they didn't report what they should have and did that bring about the guilty verdict that was eventually revealed. However, I wouldn't have thought that one juror's improper conduct would have made a difference, especially since it had no impact on the other jurors. Sure, he would have been kicked off because he obviously showed a bias for the ADA, but there should have been two alternates, so the trial and deliberations could have continued with them. I don't think one juror's actions, given what they were, would have caused a complete mistrial.
So I've been struggling with these two shows since the beginning of the season. Sometimes the episodes were just ok, which happens, but usually, the good outweighed the bad. But this year, I've found myself less and less interested in the shows, especially with Sam Waterson's changed role on "Law and Order". I've found myself plodding through the tapes with the feeling that I was watching mostly out of loyalty and habit. I don't think that would have lasted much longer even if there wasn't much else on TV I was watching, but especially given the volume of shows I watch, I really don't have the time, inclination or interest to keep watching two shows that I have to almost force myself to watch. I noticed that Kelly Giddish, who I know and liked from when she was on "All My Children", was going to be on the following week's "Criminal Intent", and while that might have normally kept me interested, even that wasn't enough. I'm figuring on continuing to watch "Special Victims Unit" when new shows are broadcast because I still like their cast and stories, but as for these two flavors of the franchise, I'm out.
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - first hour
Cromartie, the terminator who came through the time portal with them and is specifically after John, posed as an FBI agent and showed up at the school district office looking for a list of new students in an effort to track down John. When the man refused, Cromartie killed him and did the search himself. He then ended up at John's school. Cameron was tracked down by a hall monitor, who gave her a slip of paper to say that a policeman wanted to see her brother. When Cameron got a peek at him in the office, she recognized him and got one of John's friends to answer the summons instead. Cromartie was fooled since the friend was not a match for John's image and left the school. The friend later told John about the deception, and when John asked Cameron about the matter, she said it was Cromartie but that he will have moved on to another name and school and wouldn't be back. She told John that they couldn't tell Sarah about it or Sarah would immediately move them to another city.
Derek found the other terminator's brain stem/chip that Cameron had kept in her room, and he outed her to John and Sarah. Derek said that he thought Cameron sold his team out to the terminators and got them killed. Cameron defended herself by saying that the chip contained video and audio of everything the terminator did, and she thought it was important to keep the record of where he'd been and what he'd seen and done. John was disturbed that Cameron had kept this secret, and when he questioned her about lying, she confirmed that she was capable of lying when the mission required it, even if she had to lie to John - at least the teenage John. She had previously stated that her orders came from adult-in-the-future John.
John obtained a high-tech game system in order to try to hack into the chip. Cameron tried to help him by explaining what kind of power it needed and that they had to only give it enough power where they could tap into the video and audio, but that too much power could reactivate the higher functions of the chip. John was able to get into the chip, and they started to watch its visual record. It turned out that the terminator was using the name "Vick" and that he had a wife who was a city manager. When John questioned whether the wife could have really never known his true identity, Cameron responded ominously with "she would not be the first human fooled by a machine". When their address showed up in the video, Derek and Sarah decided to go have a look and see if they could get any more information.
As John was able to watch more of the video on the chip, it appeared as if Vick killed the wife and left her in the woods. Sarah insisted on going to find the body, even though Cameron didn't understand why since she was already dead. They found the location on the video and eventually the body, but it turned out not to be the wife. Instead, it was a woman who had opposed the wife's pet project, an automated traffic lights system that had been pushed by Vick in support of Skynet. Derek wanted to blow up City Hall, but John decided instead to develop a virus that would crash the system so its backers would withdraw their support and shut the project down.
As John continued to watch more video from the chip, he was disturbed by how Vick acted, how he could fake tenderness and accurately portray being human in order to get the wife to do what he wanted with regard to pushing the project through. John was even more disturbed when Cameron pointed out how "effective" Vick's technique was when he brushed his hand against the wife's face, and Cameron noted how much the wife liked it. Even with all the disturbing observations that Cameron had made, she was eventually exonerated of Derek's accusation as the chip showed that one of the freedom fighters had been tracking the wife, unbeknownst to the rest of the team. Vick had noticed and followed him back to the apartment and killed the entire team, minus Derek.
As Sarah and Derek tried to figure out how to get into City Hall to plant the virus, Derek mentioned that there were tunnels underground into City Hall, which he knew very well because those were the very tunnels he used in the future. They were in fact able to get in, and Sarah uploaded the virus, but the system had a built-in security feature that rejected it and sounded the alarm in the process. Sarah and Derek were able to get away from the security officers who came after that, but not before Sarah stopped Derek from unnecessarily killing one of the officers, who was already unconscious. It's interesting that as much as Derek rails on about Cameron being a machine and having no feelings, he has pretty much turned into an unemotional, unthinking killing machine himself. It's Sarah's sense of humanity, not his own, that saved the security guard's life.
As John tried to figure out a way to alter the virus to work, the extra power ended up activating the higher functions of the chip. Once awakened, it identified John and was attempting to take over John's laptop so that it could contact others to relay the information, but John managed to unplug everything before it could accomplish that. But this event gave John an idea. If Vick's chip could do that, then so could Cameron's, so he wanted to use Cameron's chip to take over a traffic light and then infiltrate the system that way and take it down. Derek relayed his worry to John that she might take over the entire system and then not want to come back out, that maybe it wasn't the program that would become Skynet but rather, it was her instead. John pushed aside Derek's concerns, and after Cameron talked him through how to take the chip out, he and Derek went to a traffic light and plugged her chip in. She did indeed get in and take the entire traffic system down, causing massive confusion and accidents because of the scrambled traffic light system. Derek took out her chip and wanted to destroy it, but John said no. He put it back into Cameron's body and tenderly caressed her face, stopping abruptly when her system finally rebooted.
Sarah contacted the person who had bought the computer from Andy's partner (the name on the card that Cameron had obtained). She also made it clear to Derek that she knew he killed Andy and that she was not happy about that and threatened him if he ever lied to her again.
In the previous chips from the video, it appeared that Vick was protecting the wife, which seemed odd, but apparently, it was only for as long as he needed her. Ultimately, there was video proof that Vick did in fact kill the wife.
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - second hour
The date was April 21, 2011 - Judgement Day. Two boys were playing baseball in a park. We find out later that it was 15-year-old Derek teaching his 8-year-old kid brother Kyle how to hit a baseball. Kyle saw what he thought were fireworks overhead, but it was really the missile launch, and after that, Derek took Kyle underground to protect him.
Sarah communicated with the person who had the computer (Sarkissian), who said it would cost her $500,000 to buy it. Sarkissian was then seen at the house of the man who made Sarah's fake IDs. He said he was looking for her and that she might have been responsible for killing the guy's uncle. The nephew didn't show any sign of cooperating until Sarkissian's men killed all of the nephew's cohorts.
Meanwhile, FBI agent James Ellison visited Charlie. He talked to Charlie about the rapture and quoted Revelations. He also said that he knew about Sarah and Skynet and believed her story and just wanted to talk to her. He told Charlie that he thought Sarah was alive. He had to have been hedging his bets because he *did* know that Sarah was alive - she saved him from the fire. However, Charlie was not cooperating and also inadvertently alerted Ellison that another FBI agent (Cromartie in disguise) had already come to talk to him. Charlie then went to see Sarah, to tell her about Ellison's visit and that he believed her, but Sarah dismissed Charlie and told him to leave and not come back, that he could be putting them all in danger.
Sarah and Cameron were examining the diamonds that they had found at the freedom fighters' apartment, and Sarah hoped to use that cash to pay for the computer. She and Derek were stood up at the designated meeting place, but when they returned home, they found Sarkissian waiting for them. He told Sarah that he knew who she was, so now he wanted $2 million, and if he didn't get it in 24 hours, he was going to turn her in. When Derek threatened him, he said he had people watching John at that very moment.
John was otherwise occupied with other more mundane and personal matters. He was on a school field trip to a science museum, and he ended up telling Cameron that the next day was his birthday, and he was sad that Sarah had forgotten. However, mundane turned dangerous when Cameron noticed a man (one of Sarkissian's men) watching John. Later, one of John's friends saw her shutting the trunk of a car and asked what she was doing. He thought she was kidding when she said she was stashing the body of the man she had killed who was the owner of the car, but whereas the friend thought she just had a strange sense of humour and was just joking, John looked at her in surprise and horror, and the two of them drove off.
Ellison looked up the name of the other FBI agent that Charlie had given him, and when he saw his picture, he knew that he was false because he recognized him as the guy who had been a client of the murdered plastic surgeon. He left his office just as Cromartie arrived looking for Ellison because Ellison had Sarah Connor's file.
The girl who was at the fake-ID-making nephew's house who Cameron had kind of bonded with showed up with blood-stained clothes. She was now helping them, presumably as an act of revenge against the people who were killed in that house by Sarkissian and his men. They all went in search of Sarkissian, who ended up holding John hostage. Derek took a little girl hostage, but she turned out not to be Sarkissian's daughter. Derek managed to shoot Sarkissian anyway, but he at least covered the little girl's eyes, so I guess Sarah's humanity was rubbing off on him. John went in search of Sarkissian's computer and took out the hard drive, hoping to find some information about the computer they were looking for.
Back at home the next day, John spent hours tediously decrypting all the files on the computer. Derek came by and revealed that he knew it was John's birthday and offered to buy him some ice cream and told John he had something to show him. Derek took John to a park, where in the background were the two kids we saw earlier playing baseball. Derek revealed that he knew John was Kyle's son, and he also told John who the little boy was. It was a nice moment as John's eyes welled up while watching his father, but I was wondering how sentimental you would get seeing your father as a five-year-old.
Ellison had gathered a SWAT team to storm Cromartie's apartment. As the saying goes, you're going to need a bigger boat. One by one, Cromartie killed all of the men, but I loved how they showed the sequence. One of the men was thrown out the door of the second story apartment and landed in the swimming pool. The view was from the bottom of the pool and the man landed and the water around him started to tinge red from his blood. From that angle, more and more bodies dropped into the pool, making the water redder and redder. By the time we got the topside view again, there were just dead bodies strewn in the pool and in the surrounding area. Only James was left alive, and Cromartie was standing next to him, but he left without killing him. Charlie had heard the call go out while in his ambulance and arrived to see Ellison standing over the dead body of one of his colleagues. Charlie was appalled at seeing all the dead bodies.
John was back in his room working on the computer again when Sarah came in and said it was time to take a break to celebrate John's birthday. John was surprised and happy that she remembered after all. John told her that there were other people who had apparently been interested in buying the computer as well, so maybe one of them had it. Both he and Sarah were shocked, though, when he pulled up a passport with Sarkissian's name on it, and the picture on the passport was not that of the guy that Derek had killed. Instead, Sarkissian was apparently the cashier at the internet cafe Sarah and Derek had gone to. Sarah had told John that she had sent Cameron to get a cake for him. As Cameron was getting into the car, she saw a guy watching her, who turned out to be Sarkissian, and when she started the car, it blew up.
I had started out really liking this show, but I wasn't sure they would be able to sustain my interest. I'm still interested in the story, but I've also found some very frustrating things about it. The main story is really three-fold: 1) Cromartie is trying to find John to kill him; 2) Sarah, John and Cameron are all trying to hide John to prevent Cromartie from finding and killing him; and 3) Sarah, John and Cameron are trying to prevent the birth of Skynet and the arrival of Judgement Day. Most of the events of each episode are basically in support of one or more of the three main storylines. Of course, you're going to have the side stories as well, but I think they've strayed too far in those storylines. I'm ok with the side story about Ellison because it ties into both Cromartie and Sarah, but I can't for the life of me figure out why Cromartie didn't kill Ellison. He killed the entire rest of the team, and as I recall, Ellison was trying to reload a gun when Cromartie had his gun pointed at Ellison. But then Cromartie lowered the gun and walked away. OK, so other than Ellison being one of the main cast and his female co-hort being expendable, what was the reason for keeping him alive? Cromartie doesn't exactly have compassion, so he wouldn't have left him alive the same way Sarah convinced Derek not to kill the security guy. Ellison was obviously still a threat to Cromartie, so he really should have taken him out. Ellison wasn't the only one who was surprised and confused when he was left alive.
Then there are the two side stories at John's school. What is the deal with the girl who jumped to her death and what about the make-shift doors and what they meant and what was going on with her parents? And what's going on with the other girl, the blonde one, that John is interested in now who shares a class with him and freaked out when John mentioned somewhere she supposedly had previously lived?
And then I completely didn't understand why it mattered that the girl from the nephew's house came to help them. Could they not have done that without her? Other than driving the car, what real help was she to them? Did she provide any assistance that they could not have done themselves? Why was she even brought back into the story - just to show that all the people at the house were killed? It really made zero sense to me.
You also have the stuff from the future, which was interesting as it related to some of the events we know, but we don't know what the torture chamber was that Derek was subjected to. We also don't know everything that happened between Derek and Cameron, and while they keep dropping hints about Cameron's ability to turn on a dime, that hasn't really gone anywhere.
When it comes to something like "Desperate Housewives", which is all about having multiple storylines going at once without any all-encompassing story arc, it makes sense to weave in and out of stories, but even they would resolve stories here and there and then start new ones. For this show, it's not about having a bazillion storylines that don't get resolved. ("Lost", anyone?) The side stories are really supposed to be filler, like the B story, that keeps your interest but doesn't distract you or detract from the main story.
And then comes my biggest complaint. In the last hour of the nine-episode arc, we're introduced to a new face - Sarkissian. Ah, but it's not really him, it's just someone using his name. It's really this other dude. Surprise! Ummm, yeah, surprise that you threw a new face at me at the last minute and then pulled a switcheroo because I didn't recognize him. Some of my recap and especially the very end was done with the assistance of the official website. I apparently never realized that the guy who invaded the nephew's house was supposed to be Sarkissian until I read their recap. OK, maybe it was just me being bad at recognizing this stuff. But then I really didn't get the ending, with the name and face on the passport not matching what they knew, and I had no idea who the guy was that was watching Cameron before she went kablooey. Thanks to the official summary, though, I know now, but I shouldn't have to rely on a written summary to know what's going on in the story. To me, that's just sloppy "aren't we cool" trickery writing.
One of the things I have really enjoyed is Brian Austin Green. I was skeptical when I first found out he'd be on the show, and I wasn't entirely happy that he would be playing a character as pivotal and connected as Kyle's brother. But I've been really happy with the direction they've taken the character, and I've been really impressed with his performance. He's certainly grown a lot as an actor since his "Beverly Hills 90210" days, but then, that was a long time ago.
There doesn't seem to be any indication of whether the show is being picked up. 9 episodes seems a bit short for a first season, but I'm not sure how much of that is because of the writers' strike. They seem to be done for now with the current cliffhanger. We probably know that Cameron isn't dead or deactivated or whatever. She might need some of that skin-growing stuff that Cromartie has, but her system should be able to reboot fine - a little explosion shouldn't take her out. I think I generally want the show to come back, but I can't say I'd be terribly upset if it didn't. If it does come back, though, I hope they can get back the excitement of the first two hours of the show.
"Back To You" - Tuesday episode
They had two episodes of the show that were completed prior to the writers' strike that they hadn't previously aired for whatever reason, so the two remaining shows were aired on two consecutive nights.
A news anchor at the station (Ed) had died, and Kelly had been asked to do his eulogy but she was confused about that because she didn't know him very well. Gary, on the other hand, knew him *really* well but was not asked, so he expressed his upset at that throughout the episode as a running gag. Chuck had already decided he wasn't going to the funeral, so after a bit of cajoling, he finally convinced Kelly to let him watch Gracie while Kelly went to the funeral.
Montana showed up at the funeral dressed in black - but her dress was short and sparkly and revealing. She was funny because she didn't understand what the big deal was - she was wearing black like she was supposed to.
Another running gag was that Ryan kept not really knowing who Ed was. He initially thought it was one person, but then he saw the person at the funeral. Then he thought it was someone else, but then he saw *that* person two seconds later.
Unbeknownst to Kelly, Ed had told his country club friends that he was sleeping with Kelly. Marsh found out that Ed did that to hide his being gay. Gary didn't believe that because he knew him so well and that they spent a lot of time together and even vacationed together. One of the other people commented that at least Ed had never given him a ring, because that would have cemented it, and Gary surreptiously took off the ring he was wearing, so apparently, Ed had a thing for Gary that Gary never caught onto.
Ed had been Kelly's mentor, but he had been a difficult and demanding teacher, so Kelly's speech referred to her experiences with that, but everything she said was a double entendre that all the country club friends took to mean that she was referring to their sexual relationship. After she made a number of comments, which were really funny, Marsh went up and told her the truth, and she was really embarrassed. However, the focus was taken away from her when a celphone started ringing from inside the coffin. Marsh had taken Ryan's phone earlier to try to get a picture of Ed so Ryan would know who it really was (don't they usually have a nice picture of the person at funerals?), and Marsh had accidentally dropped it in there and left it. Later, when Gary was at Ed's graveside, the phone rang again, and Gary leaned in closer to hear it. I kept expecting a "Carrie" moment there.
Meanwhile, Chuck wasn't having much luck with Gracie. She was initially annoyed that she had to have someone watch her in the first place, and then she was bored with everything Chuck came up with to do, most of which were entirely too juvenile for her. Then Chuck's date from the previous night showed up, and complications arose when Gracie asked questions and Chuck and the date each had differing answers. Chuck eventually took Gracie to the hotel bar, where she was having much more fun, though she didn't heed Chuck's advice about the nuts on the counter. They turned out to be wasabi peas or peanuts or something with wasabi because she complained about how spicy they were. Do hotel bars or any bars for that matter really have wasabi something on their counters? Kelly found them at the bar, and rather than being mad as Chuck had expected, she actually was happy because after the day she'd had, she really needed a drink.
"Back To You" - Wednesday episode
At the end of the newscast, Chuck said that a longtime employee was retiring and so he wanted to thank him and wish him well, but he got his name, his job and everything else about him completely wrong, for which Kelly gave him a hard time. The group was going out together for dinner before the evening's newscast, but Gary wasn't allowed to go. Even though he'd had a great hard-hitting interview earlier in the day, he was given his next assignment - to cover Anthrocon, a convention for furries. He was told that he needed to cover the furry formal being held that night, and he referred to furries as the people that Trekkies beat up. I'm going to disagree with him. Furries are the people that other fandom people are *afraid* of.
And yes, Anthrocon is real. They even mentioned this particular "Back to You" episode, though I'm a little surprised they liked the episode. Yeah, it tells their point of view, but the con attendees also did some questionable things. But that comes later.
The group had previously talked about a new anchor on another TV station, and he happened to be at the restaurant where they went for dinner. He came over to the table to say hello, and as much as Montana seriously tried to flirt with him, he ended up asking Kelly out for drinks after the night's newscast, which made Montana seriously jealous. She was really funny during that whole dinner scene.
When Gary was conducting on-camera interviews with the furries, he was making comments and asking them all kinds of questions which were ridiculing, condescending and demeaning. However, when he was finished and went back to his car, he was surrounded by a menacing group of furries.
Chuck was jealous about Kelly's date, and he even thought that the anchor was asking her out solely to lure her to his station. When he bullied Ryan into calling the anchor, who Ryan had shown a total, complete and utter man-crush for, they found out that the anchor really just wanted to get to know Kelly for personal reasons.
One of the running jokes on this show was that Marsh was trying to come up with a signature sign-off line, but he was just trying random things on the air, which Ryan didn't like. It was like he was trying to come up with something like what Chick Hearn used to say, but Marsh's were totally random and unrelated and bizarre. At one point, he ran one past Ryan and said, "work for you?" to which Ryan responded "not for long", which made me bust up.
During the late newscast, they went to Gary and Chuck said he must have some really funny footage that he pretaped, but Gary said no he didn't and he was very serious as he was talking about the furries on air, with a group of them surrounding him. He made the comment that people should come down and see for themselves and they should call their friends and family and the police, and he acted like he was being threatened and was in serious danger, like if he didn't say the right thing, he was in for it from them. At the end of the show, he was sitting with a sketch artist describing the furries that menaced him. He was really good in this episode.
After the newscast, Kelly was talking to Ryan about something that Ryan did not want to talk about, and I can't remember what it was - maybe it was about calling the other anchor. Anyway, Ryan faked a phone call and took something out of his back pocket and held it up to his ear and said, "Hello?" Kelly pointed out that it was his wallet, so he said it was an iWallet! That was just too funny. Don't give Microsoft any ideas!
Because the anchor was quite a bit younger than Kelly, she got nervous and wanted to cancel the date, but Chuck told her she should go, to which she retorted that why didn't he go instead, to which he responded, "I would but Ryan would scratch my eyes out". He finally convinced her that she was still attractive and interesting, and she finally agreed to go.
Looking forward to new episodes of this show, which should start airing in April.
And speaking of new episodes, "The Big Bang Theory" comes back this Monday, March 17 with an all new episode at 8pm. The show had previously aired at 8:30pm. I'm already loving the previews I've seen, so I'm so excited that we get new episodes. YEAH!!!!!!!! Geeks Rule!