Orphan Black Hits the Ground Running in Season 2 Premiere, “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed”

Orphan_Black_Season_2_Epsiode_1_Diner_Scene Orphan Black "Nature Under Constraint and Vexed" Season 2 Premiere Tatiana Maslany

[Spoilers ahoy for Orphan Black Season 2 Premiere “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” and prior. You know the drill.]

Let’s be honest – did anyone not spend about 5 minutes in the first half of the season opening thinking “Wow. So much Felix butt.”, because I did. It was just out there and everything. I kinda love it. Isn’t that what the show is all about – just putting it all out there, up front and then driving ahead full tilt? Continue reading

J on Why Laura Benanti’s Baroness Was the Best Character in The Sound of Music Live

I guess you could call me a purist.  Scratch that.  I am a purist.

I have nurtured a loyal and passionate love for The Sound of Music since I was four years old.

I’ve seen the stage play three times.  I’ve seen the film more times than I can count.  I’ve researched Rodgers and Hammerstein’s creation of the musical.  My copy of Charmian Carr’s memoir is dog-eared from repeat readings (she played Liesl in the movie, and almost didn’t get cast because her eyes were too blue).  I’ve been to the Sing-Along Sound of Music three times and counting.  So yeah, The Sound of Music is one of my favourite things.

Naturally I was both excited and skeptical when I heard about The Sound of Music Live event on NBC.  After watching it, I have a lot of thoughts.

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On Orphan Black, and Why It’s So Compelling

Hello, loyal readers and new viewers!  It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything here, but I wanted to break the silence to talk about Orphan Black, a show that has certainly grabbed our attention and interest here at The Viewing Party.  (Be warned: the following contains mild spoilers up to episode 1×09.)

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J Shares the Castle Love Forever and For “Always”: A Review of the Suspense, Revelations, and Grand Romance in the Season Finale 4×23

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Things happened. Big things. Things that are meaningful and irrevocable and wonderful. So let’s jump right in as I try, like so many fans out there, to make sense of my Castle/Beckett feelings.

We begin with Beckett clinging to the edge of a building, calling out for Castle as she loses her grip.  Just as all hope seems lost, we cut to three days earlier. Oh, season finales. After discovering what appears to be a gang-related murder in an alley, Beckett, Castle, and the boys soon discover a link to Montgomery’s home and the files he was trying to keep hidden. Drama, stolen glances, and intensity ensue, highlighting how much Castle, Ryan, and Esposito love Beckett in their own ways. Each of them will do pretty much anything to support Beckett and keep her safe, and we see this play out throughout the episode. Of course, Castle is keeping a secret about the files and the case, and we all know that it’s only a matter of time until it comes out.

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Castle and Beckett Resurrect Their Romance…and Some Zombies! J on Castle 4×22 “Undead Again”

We’re heading in the right direction, people.  I mean, sure, we’re celebrating the fact that Castle and Beckett are even talking to each other at all, let alone talking about their feelings, but after the last few episodes we’ll take what we can get.  It’s no secret that I was getting a little sick of the constant evading, concealing, and inability to communicate, and I was thoroughly fed up with Castle when he said this would be his last case working with Detective Beckett.  I knew it wasn’t going to prove true, but somehow that made it even more annoying.  Enough already!

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can comment on the actual episode.  I felt that “Undead Again” was all about one person knowing better than another and pulling the wool over their eyes.  This plays out in the zombie storyline, but also more significantly in Castle and Beckett’s relationship.  In terms of the zombies, we (or the characters) are fooled into believing that they might actually be the walking undead.  When that theory is debunked, we see the case of one “zombie” being manipulated into committing a crime against his will and without his knowledge.  See: pulling the wool over his eyes.  As for Castle and Beckett, they simply can’t keep up their charade any longer, and there are many layers of the charade: first and foremost is the fact that they’re in love with each other and not acting on it, second is Beckett hiding from Castle that she heard him say he loved her last year, third is Castle hiding his knowledge that she heard him, and fourth is Castle hiding info about Johanna Beckett’s murder and Kate’s shooting (which will most certainly come up in the finale next week).

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J Talks Conviction and Kookiness on Community 3×15 “Origins of Vampire Mythology”

While I normally don’t write stand-alone reviews for Community, I enjoyed last night’s episode so much that I think it is warranted.  “Origins of Vampire Mythology” struck just the right chord of funny, sweet, and weird, and pretty much summed up the essence of all the main characters.  Having been slightly underwhelmed by the two-part blanket/pillow fort battle that preceded “Origins of Vampire Mythology” (maybe I just don’t like to see Troy and Abed fighting), this week’s episode was a perfect example of why I love Community so much: the genuine wackiness and heartfelt earnestness of the characters.

Everybody is earnest in what they do: Annie genuinely wants to help Britta, even if she goes about it in a questionable way; Shirley is there for her friend Jeff in his time of need; Troy is lovable and loving, and is sometimes a doofus; Abed is Abed.  Even Jeff, who is egotistical and self-serving to the extreme, pursues his egoism and self-promotion with conviction and zeal.  The show doesn’t apologize for who these characters are, and as a result their study group/friendship is both believable AND a barrel of laughs.

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Lanie is the Star of “The Limey” (If Only Someone Would Follow Her Advice): J Reviews Castle 4×20

As was to be expected, nothing in the way of relationship advancement happened in “The Limey”.  However, I actually liked this episode better than last week’s for a few reasons, not the least of which is that we got some real character development on the part of Kate Beckett.  While “47 Seconds” followed Castle closely through his childish reaction to finding out Kate’s secret, this week we go home with Beckett, seeing things from her point of view and gaining insight into the character.  I wasn’t happy with the lack of discussion between Castle and Beckett (no surprise there), but watching Beckett grapple with her feelings is far more interesting than Castle pouting about her betrayal.

 

Lanie was really the best part of this episode in my opinion.  She tells it like it is, and always has.  She’s been aware of the attraction between Castle and Beckett from day one, and has never been shy about encouraging her friend to go for it with “writer boy”.  In “The Limey”, we not only see her supporting Kate, but also confronting her about her feelings for Castle.  And when she does, it doesn’t take long for Beckett to admit to those feelings.  In the course of the initial conversation in Kate’s apartment, this moment happens almost casually, but it’s actually a huge deal for Beckett!  She has been denying her feelings and declaring she isn’t ready for ages, so the fact that she owns up to being crazy about Castle is a really big step for her.

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Bright Colours and Dueling Divas: J on Castle 4×18 “A Dance with Death”

It was nice to have Castle back after a three-week hiatus, especially because this season seems to be flying by. While I could have done with a slightly more engaging plot, I will let that slide given the big things that seem to be in store for our favourite crime-fighting pair in the episodes to come this season. “A Dance with Death” was light and not particularly memorable, but had some small moments and side storylines that definitely deserve a mention. And so. To begin.

Beckett in blue

For the most part, I was digging Beckett’s brightly-coloured wardrobe this episode. She’s definitely much more casual this season (and has been following an ever-increasing casual trajectory throughout the show) but we don’t often see her in those popping colours. From bright orange to electric blue to berry pink, this says a lot about what she as a character is comfortable with. Often when Beckett feels unsafe, threatened, or vulnerable, the dark colours and turtlenecks come out in great abundance. Here her wardrobe tells us that she is totally comfortable with herself, her job, her relationship with her co-workers, and her relationship with Castle. This might be lulling both Kate and the viewer into a false sense of security since I have a feeling one or both of the big secrets being kept by Castle and Beckett are going to come out before the end of season 4. But for now, hooray for colour!

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Never Take Advice from a Potential Mass Murderer: J on the Dos and Don’ts of Castle 4×16 “Linchpin”

The plot thickens in "Linchpin"

Like last week, this review is mostly going to focus on characters and relationships because to be honest I wasn’t particularly interested in the whole double-agent, CIA, massive conspiracy, WWIII plot line.  Of course, that’s kind of the norm for me when I watch Castle; I’m much more invested in Rick and Kate’s romance than in any of the cases that they solve.  There were definitely some moments I liked in this week’s conclusion to the two-parter, but on the whole I don’t think either “Pandora” or “Linchpin” will break any records for favourite Castle episode.

My main criticism (I’ll get it out of the way now, and then move on to the fun stuff) is that the episode itself was, well, a little bit boring.  As far as Castle’s two-part cliff-hangers go, I didn’t like this year’s installment nearly as much as the ones that preceded it.  The stakes just didn’t seem as high (or I wasn’t made to feel they were as high), and I know that’s really weird to say given that World War Three was the potential outcome of this episode.  I guess what I mean is that a stronger impression is made when the characters’ lives are more directly involved in the case…like the crazy guy murdering people in the name of Nikki Heat, stalking Beckett, and blowing up her apartment in season 2.  Even last year’s two-parter felt more personal (though on a much larger scale), perhaps because Castle and Beckett were locked together in a freezer and then faced with a dirty bomb about to blow up in their faces.  But mainly I think those episodes worked really well because it was all up to Castle and Beckett to solve the case and save everyone.  Here, there were too many double-agents and shifting allegiances to keep track of; Castle and Beckett could barely do anything but observe and get carried along by the CIA.  If they have absolutely no clue what’s going on (which they didn’t until the very end of “Linchpin”), then neither do we, and I think that’s what diluted the episode’s overall impact.

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A Tense (and Somewhat Confusing) Cliff-hanger: J on Castle 4×15 “Pandora”

Stana Katic, talking about the end of this week’s episode “Pandora”, joked that the creators of Castle are forcing Rick and Kate to face each of the elements to see if they survive.  So far we’ve had fire (in 2×17/2×18 when Kate’s apartment blows up), ice (3×16/3×17 when they get locked in a freezer) and now water as their car plunges down toward Davy Jones’s Locker at the end of 4×15.  And of course, in true cliff-hanger form, that’s how the episode ends.  I can only imagine that next season’s two-parter will involve them being buried underground but narrowly escaping (as they always do).

Actually, in a lot of ways “Pandora” reminded me of the previous Castle two-parters, and not just because it concluded with the same nerve-wracking “to be continued” ending.  Plot-wise, I sort of saw it as a combination of the double episodes of season 2 and season 3 as well.  There’s definitely a Jordan Shaw-esque quality to Sophia Turner, the bedroom-voiced CIA agent who has a history with Castle.  Beckett’s jealousy over Castle bonding with Jordan and being impressed with her cool gadgets in “Tick Tick Tick” and “Boom” is definitely reflected again here: she’s just oozing with jealousy!  And the broader themes of terrorism and national security in “Pandora” bring to mind last year’s two-parter in which a dirty bomb threatens the city of New York.  However I also found that I wasn’t quite as invested in the plotline as I was during either of those two stories.

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