Thursday, July 30, 2009

Burn Notice and Royal Pains Get Renewed

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) provides informative spy tips on USA's website.

USA is rockin' da house with ratings this summer, soaring to the top spot amongst ad-supported cable stations. The Hollywood Reporter credits this success to the Thursday night one-two punch of Burn Notice and Royal Pains, which on July 9 had over 7 million viewers. Those are serious numbers for basic cable fare, and well-deserved.

As a reward for keeping USA on the map (and giving parent company NBC something to actually be proud of), Burn Notice and Royal Pains have received renewals for 16 more episodes each. That's a startling fourth season for Burn Notice and a second season for newbie Royal Pains.

USA has struck gold with a winning formula, a focus on interesting characters that are big on quirks and charm. You've got USA forerunner Monk, with its OCD germaphobe detective Monk, the PI and fake psychic duo of campy Psych, the double whammy of unorthodox homocide detectives Goran and Nichols on Law & Order: CI (with their droll and long-suffering female partners Eames and Wheeler), and cynical hothead US Marshal Mary Shannon with uber intellectual partner Marshall Mann on In Plain Sight.
Dr. Hank Mark Feuerstein Ezra Miller Tucker Royal Pains screencap images photos pictures screengrabs capturesRoyal Pains scores with the charm of Mark Feuerstein and regular players like mature-byeond-his-years Ezra Miller.

USA has won with audiences by not taking themselves too seriously, intermingling show characters on their promos, and offering the occasional sly wink to their fans. Recently a USA promo had the Psych characters discussing the show's similarities to new series The Mentalist on CBS, acknowledging the online mini-furor over the latter's alleged ripping off Psych.

Viewers feel like their part of a cool clique on USA, and it's been a successful campaign for the network. It also helps that the shows are damn entertaining, and you don't worry as much about them being canceled after three episodes. NBC, take note.

Watch Burn Notice and Royal Pains on USA Thursdays, starting at 9/8c.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cake Boss -- "A Blindfold, a Bikini, and Breathing Fire"

Cake Boss Tiki cake a blindfold a bikini and breathing fire Mauro Castano screencaps images bakery photos pictures screengrabs Libby KleinMauro Castano works on the fire-breathing Tiki cake, on Cake Boss.

Tonight's Cake Boss episode, "A Blindfold, a Bikini, and Breathing Fire", once again included two fantastic cakes and some light-hearted competition amongst the Cake Boss staff. First up was a client who throws a big birthday bash every year, and challenges Buddy to top himself each year with a bigger and more challenging cake design request.

This year it's going to be a Tiki-themed party, and the client wants a Tiki mask cake with fire incorporated somehow. A fire-breathing cake is no easy task, but Buddy's got an inspired idea--to combine a real life firebreather with a cake Tiki mask.

Cake Boss Tiki cake a blindfold a bikini and breathing fire Mauro Castano screencaps images bakery photos pictures screengrabs Libby KleinIt's a complicated design, on a large cake that has to feed over 100 people. Buddy and his Cake Boss crew get to work making the cake, filling and icing it, and then building little Tiki idols and pinapples and tropical flowers. The centerpiece is a large Tiki mask, made with wooden supports covered in rice crispie treats and cake. Buddy inserts a metal cylinder into the Tiki mask's mouth, then covers the whole thing in icing and fondant--and strong wishes that it will all hold together.

The finished cake is huge and dramatic, with lit torches at all four corners. The partygoers and client enjoy the cake, but Buddy is excited because he can tell they have no idea how much cooler (or hotter!) it's all going to get. When it's time to serve the cake, Buddy introduces the firebreather. This talented (and crazy, as Buddy claims) guy holds a flaming stick in front of the Tiki mask, then blows through the opening, making the flames erupt forth in a rush. It's a fantastic effect, and looks as if the Tiki mask is definitely breathing fire.

The crowd goes wild, and Buddy is pleased that he's met yet another challenge.

Daniella the artiste gets a lot of credit for the second Cake Boss project. Buddy introduces "My cousin Vinny" (Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei, anyone?), who's ordering a cake for his wife-to-be for the bridal shower. Vinny wants one of their signature "luggage" cakes, but it's not long before the bride's mother and sister (Buddy's mother-in-law and wife) show up to change the order.

Buddy can't go against his wife, so he changes the order. He's upset that they didn't all consult together before placing the order, however. I feel sorry for Vinny, who seemed so excited about actually making some decisions about the cake's design.

Daniella Storzillo Cake Boss dragon cake a blindfold a bikini and breathing fire Chinese, culture and cannolis screencaps images sculpting pictures screengrabs photos capturesThe shower is a jewelry theme, so Buddy sets Daniella up with an ornate jewelry stand--a gold frame and vintage style burgundy dress. Daniella went to art school and did a lot of sculpting there, so she's an expert with the modeling chocolate. She whips up a near-identical replica of the jewelry stand, with patterned cloth and gorgeous folds of material and little delicate flowers. Buddy is impressed, and it's the crowning jewel of the multi-tiered cake.

The Cake Boss crew also whips up edible jewelry, a purse, and a gorgeous black high-heeled shoe to adorn the cake. There are screenprinted pictures and added embellishments and the cake is absolutely gorgeous. Buddy's happy that the cake fits perfectly into the party decor and that the guests all love the result. Even poor out-voted cousin Vinny.

In the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Carlo's bakery, Buddy hears that Mauro's complaining about all the work to be done. Buddy chastises him for whining about an easy job like icing the cake, and says he could do it blindfolded. So they make a bet--if Buddy can ice a cake blindfolded, with a flower on top, Mauro has to don a grass skirt and coconut bra and serve pastries to the guests in the bakery. If Buddy can't, then he has to wear the skirt and bra. Mauro agrees.

Despite all the work Mauro was complaining about, the Cake Boss crew gathers around as Buddy ices the cake blindfolded. He starts with a small, two-tier round cake. He gets the icing on the sides and the top, and smooths it all out. He then adds icing trim around the perimeter of the top tier. He gets definite oohs and ahhs of approval from the Cake Boss crew when he even forms a perfect flower for the top--and mounts it without screwing up any of the icing.

The finished product isn't perfect, but it's shockingly good, and Mauro's forced to accept defeat. In a white tee-shirt and his white baker's pants, with an added grass skirt and shell bra, Mauro joins the rest of the crew downstairs to hand out Hawaiian leis and cupcakes. Everyone has a laugh, and Buddy is happily surprised by how well the customers respond. So a cake-frosting dare turns out to be an entertaining event for everyone at Carlo's Bakery.

Watch Cake Boss on TLC, Monday nights at 10/9c. Check your local listings for encore showings of "A Blindfold, a Bikini, and Breathing Fire" and other repeat episodes.

PHOTOS: Mauro Castano works on the Tiki cake, Cake Boss, c2009 Libby Klein, TLC; Daniella Storzillo sculpts a dragon head on a previous Cake Boss episode, screencap c2009 TLC.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kings -- "The New King: Part Two" Recap

King Silas Benjamin Ian McShane Kings The New King Part 2 screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesWell. Tonight was the finale of Kings, at least as far as we know. "The New King: Part Two" would have been the lead-in to a new season, and as such, there are a lot of things left hanging. For some reason--perhaps just pure hopefulness--I thought that the storyline was going to wrap up more than it did. I had thought there was even a chance that David (Christopher Egan) might be king when all was said and done.

I'm not sure if the creators knew ahead of time that the series would probably be ending. The episode seems very muddled, with motivations lost in the push-pull for power. Characters really did not go the way I had thought they would, and it was a disappointing end to a fascinating show.

It's funny how I was just writing about Torchwood and how far you can push a character before they become irredeemable. In many instances, despite his sometimes violent decisions, we as viewers felt respect for King Silas (Ian McShane). He had a passion, a will to serve God and the people, and a plan for peace.

King Silas Benjamin Ian McShane screencaps Prince Jack Benjamin Sebastian Stan Kings The New King Part 2 images photos pictures screengrabs capturesAnd Prince Jack (Sebastian Stan), while he had his spoiled-brat moments, he seemed to be the most affected by David's goodness--and then the sacrifice of his lover. While it's true that Jack was always on the edge of darkness, with all the torture his parents put him through, but circumstances leading up to this had indicated a change for the good.

But in "The New King: Part 2" we get a Silas that seems to capitulate to God's will, finally--and then he turns on it again in his rabid quest to be the man in charge. And we get an angry and vindictive Prince Jack, who now seems happy to go along with his uncle's violent and destructive machinations. He even had a man shot in cold blood for disagreeing with him, and then threatens to blow away his sister when she speaks up.

Certainly Kings has not painted Silas and Jack as perfect characters. But there was a point when they seemed redeemable. I can see how Jack's lifelong frustration with being kept down, kept out of the family spotlight, in fear that he would never reach power has made him go a little crazy. But when he was just a couple episodes ago saving David from a firing squad (albeit by killing others) and talking about bringing peace to Gilboa, it seems odd for him to now be only concerned about getting rid of Dad and getting himself the crown.

David Shepherd Christopher Egan Kings The New King Part 2 images pictures photos screengrabs screencaps capturesAnd then we have David and Princess Michelle (Allison Miller). I thought Michelle's abandonment of David during the trial was the closest you can get to unforgivable. David understands her family and the pressure she would be under, and I thought he might forgive her if she explained about the baby. But in "The New King: Part 2", Michelle doesn't explain, doesn't tell him about his child--but he just forgives her out of the blue. David has always been the purest character, and not as likely to hold a grudge, but this seemed a leap even for him.

David and Silas get into an actual physical altercation this time, as Silas just can not believe that David didn't have this planned all along--with God. David and Michelle seek refuge in the church, looking to Reverend Samuels (Eamonn Walker) to advise them. He lets them know that David must hide in Gath, where Silas can't find him. Michelle can not go with him, as it would be too dangerous for both of them.

The twist on this is that William (Dylan Baker) has had Reverend Samuels killed. So the question is whether the reverend is a ghost, or if he survived the wounds due to divine intervention. The fact that he disappears when David and Michelle blink leads me to believe he's hanging out in the spirit world, where he can haunt Silas as well.

Queen Rose Benjamin Susanna Thompson Kings The New King Part 2 images photos screencaps screengrabs pictures capturesQueen Rose (Susanna Thompson) is the most consistent in "The New King: Part 2", doing whatever she has to to maintain the throne and have all of the pieces fall into place the way she wants them. She gets Princess Michelle banished for a year--in order to help her hide her pregnancy, of course. Where Michelle is going to go remains for our imaginations.

Prince Jack Benjamin Sebastian Stan Kings The New King Part 2 photos pictures images screencaps screengrabs capturesAnd Jack, oh Jack. I have to give him credit--he didn't run from what he had done, and stayed to face the consequences. He tells Silas that everything has been taken from him, and there's nothing to live for anyway. Rather than kill him, Silas sentences him to life in closed quarters with his wife whom he does not love. He's expected to produce an heir which Silas can raise in the "right way". I'm not exactly sure how they propose to force him to have sex with a woman he does not desire, but no one ever said Silas was thinking clearly at this point.

So, to sum up--Princess Michelle is exiled. Prince Jack is banished to his room. David is running through the fields of Gath, followed by the prophetic butterflies that have marked him as the true heir to the throne. Reverend Samuels has been killed and now floats around as a spirit, trying to exert influence to further God's plan.

Andrew Cross Macaulay Culkin Kings The New King Part 2 screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesAnd William will no doubt meet a bad end, as his creepy son Andrew (Macaulay Culkin) defects to the winning side--divulging his father's escape plans and asking to take Jack's place by Silas' side. I'll say one thing for him--he's learned how to play with the big dogs on Kings.

So there it is, the end of a royal era. I might have been able to forgive the misfires in this episode had they smoothed out in another season. But as it is, this is all we are left with. A few rumors and a lot of public pleas for renewal of Kings float around the Internet--and ideas for other networks to pick it up. It's rare for another station to pick up a canceled show. It happens, but I'm not holding my breath.

It would be nice, though, to watch more of the drama unfold with this exemplary cast of characters on Kings.

Watch full episodes of Kings on the NBC official site.

See more Ian McShane:


PHOTOS: Ian McShane as King Silas Benjamin, Sebastian Stan as Prince Jack Benjamin, Christopher Egan as David Shepherd, Susanna Thompson as Queen Rose Benjamin, Macaulay Culkin as Andrew Cross, Kings screencaps, c2009 UMS, NBC.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The End of Torchwood

I'm still stunned over Day Five of Torchwood: Children of Earth. And I know a lot of fans are angry over the way things have turned out. I'm not sure how I'll feel in a few days or even a few weeks, but right now I feel somewhat betrayed.

It's not that Torchwood: Children of Earth was bad TV. It was compelling, and suspenseful, and heartbreaking. But after all we've been through, to get the ending we got, just seems extraordinarily cruel. And part of a sort of character assasination they've been doing with Captain Jack from the start.

I've written about it in great detail in my Torchwood review over at AC, because this blog format doesn't so easily accomodate such long-winded rants. But I hope you'll indulge me and take a peek at the article, and let me know what you think.

Is it the end of Torchwood? The show will most likely go into a fourth season, with perhaps another mini-series, but how much can we hope for at this point? Obviously we'll have to change our expectations completely. Because the Jack we began this journey with is not the Jack we've ended with.

See all of my Torchwood posts.

PHOTO: Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood: Children of Earth Day Four screencap, c2009 BBC Wales, BBC America.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Torchwood screencaps: Jack, Ianto, and the End of the World

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesTorchwood: Children of Earth Day Four -- Jack and Ianto stand up to the 4-5-6.

I'm still reeling from tonight's installment of Torchwood: Children of Earth. It's a no-win situation with the 4-5-6, bargaining children for the safety of the planet. And then there's Jack and Ianto, two lone figures standing up for what they believe in--for what Ianto has convinced Jack is the right thing to do.

*SPOILER ALERT* Don't scroll down if you haven't yet seen the fourth episode of Torchwood: Children of Earth. You can read my recap of Day Four here.

*CLICK* all Torchwood pics for larger versions.

Johnson Liz May Brice Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screengrabs images pictures photos screencapsJohnson's not so certain of her mission, now that she sees what the government's been up to.


John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesJack is determined to scare the 4-5-6 off.


John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesIanto believes in what they're doing, and believes in Jack.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captures John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures guns shooting aliens screengrabs captures
Once the virus is released, Jack and Ianto try to take the 4-5-6 with them.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death guns shooting aliens dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesBut the glass is bulletproof.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captures virus Gwen Cooper Eve Myles Paul Copley Clement McDonald dying arms death killed Torchwood Children of Earth screengrabs captures pictures images photos screencaps remnant
Jack holds a dying Ianto, as Gwen holds the dying Clement.

Johnson Liz May Brice screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs Torchwood Children of Earth Day FourTurns out even the Ice Queen has a heart.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captures tears virus crying John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death tears virus crying dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captures
Ianto tells Jack he loves him. Jack promises Ianto he'll never forget him.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesThey are helpless before the 4-5-6.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four kiss virus lips screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesJack gives Ianto one final kiss.

John Barrowman Captain Jack Harkness Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd death dead floor dies killed Torchwood Children of Earth Day Four screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capturesThe brave stand-off is over.

See more Torchwood screencaps.

Tomorrow night we find out what happens to Torchwood and to the Children of the Earth. Tune in to BBC Americat at 9/8c.

PHOTOS: John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Liz May Brice as Johnson, and Paul Copley as Clement McDonald, Torchwood: Children of Earth Day Four screencaps, c2009 BBC Wales, BBC America.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Listener Replaced By Law & Order

Toby Logan Craig Olejnik The Listener screencaps blue eyes imgages photos pictures screengrabsIf you've been watching the Canadian import The Listener, tonight's your last night to catch it on regular TV. Due to excruciatingly low ratings, NBC is pulling the last five episodes and replacing it with reruns of Law & Order. I'm not sure if another Law & Order rerun is what NBC needs, but The Listener wasn't obviously doing them any favors either.

Scheduling may have been an issue, as it was up against CBS's hit The Mentalist, albeit in reruns. I personally started watcahing USA's Royal Pains in this time slot, figuring I could always catch up with The Listener later. The truth is, The Listener just didn't suck me in all that much. It seemed fairly low-rent and kind of slow. Maybe this is because we've all gotten used to in-your-face-jump-cut-mania types of programming, but it also may just be that it's not done that well. Judge for yourself:



For those of you that did enjoy the hypnotic stare of Craig Olejnik, NBC will be airing the final episodes online. Canada's CTV will air the remainder of the series on TV and may pick up a second season, so US fans might have a DVD issue in the future to look forward to.

Thanks to Zap2It and Yahoo!Canada for the news.

PHOTO: Craig Olejnik as Toby Logan, The Listener screencap, c2009 Shaftesbury Films, CTV, NBC.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Torchwood Full Frontal: Captain Jack Naked

Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos chained up images pictures screengrabs captures cuffs boundA chained-up Captain Jack faces his enemy in Torchwood: Children of Earth

*SPOILER ALERT* Tonight on Torchwood: Children of Earth Day 2, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) got put through the ringer. We have to say, though, that he looks pretty good for a guy that's died several times this week already. The Torchwood creators went for realism and fangirl squee when they crafted this Torchwood episode, keeping Jack in the buff after being blowed-up-real-good on Day 1. (Read my recap of Torchwood: Children of Earth Day 2.)

Kept captive by evil soldier Johnson (Liz May Brice), Captain Jack languishes in a cell, arms chained to the wall. We get a tantalising glimpse of our hero on the security cams, and it's full frontal Captain Jack. Some low-res screen and lettering action keep these pics from being too risque, however.

*CLICK* all Torchwood: Children of Earth pics for larger versions.

Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude full frontal photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 full frontal naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures

Captain Jack demands to see his captor, and is surprised when she appears in a hole in the ceiling of his cell.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos chained handcuffs images pictures screengrabs captures Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos handcuffs chained up images pictures screengrabs captures

Johnson appears, to coldly let Jack know that if she can't kill him, she can contain him.
Johnson Liz May Brice soldier Children of Earth Torchwood pictures photos images screencaps screengrabs

It's a terrifying scene as Captain Jack is helpless to avoid the concrete that fills his cell.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos chained images pictures shirtless screengrabs captures Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs concrete captures

Later in the episode, Jack gets up from the rubble that was once his cell. Thanks to Ianto, Gwen, and Rhys, he's free once again.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs shirtlesscaptures Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude shirtless photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures

Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures shirtless Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures shirtless screengrabs captures

Captain Jack has been through a hell of a lot this day.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos shirtless images pictures screengrabs captures

Gwen and Ianto are happy to see the boss's heart is still tickin'.
Gwen Cooper Ianto Jones Eve Myles Gareth David-Lloyd smile Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captures

Captain Jack's never been shy, and we love him for it.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures

Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos shirtless images pictures screengrabs captures

Gwen tries not to stare, but...
Gwen Cooper Eve Myles Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 looking at Jack screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs

She sneaks a peek...
Gwen Cooper Eve Myles Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 looking at Jack screencaps images Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd photos pictures screengrabs Gwen Cooper Eve Myles Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd looking at Jack screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs

Nope, nope, wasn't looking!
Gwen Cooper Eve Myles Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 looking at Jack screencaps images Ianto Jones Gareth David-Lloyd photos pictures screengrabs

A few more of Jack and his lovely backside, making his way to the car.
Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures shirtless screengrabs captures Captain Jack Harkness shirtless John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures screengrabs captures

Captain Jack Harkness John Barrowman Torchwood Children of Earth Day 2 naked screencaps nude photos backside images pictures shirtless screengrabs captures

Hope you enjoyed the naked Captain Jack Harkness full frontal goodness. You can find more Torchwood screencaps here.

Watch Torchwood: Children of Earth on BBC America this week, at 9/8c.

PHOTOS: John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones, Liz May Brice as Johnson; Torchwood: Children of Earth Day 2 screencaps, c2009 BBC Wales, BBC America.

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