Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Arrow' Recap: Oliver Brings the Family Together at 'Year's End'

Arrow Year's End Season 1 Episode 9 Merlyn Moira screencaps photos recaps

In the "Arrow" episode "Year's End," Oliver tries to celebrate Christmas with his family and rescue hostages at the same time -- just another day in the life of our hero. This week, the island flashbacks gave viewers more information but led us astray when it came to the big reveal at the end.

It doesn't take long for Oliver to realize that the Queen family, who used to have a "Christmas tree in every room," isn't celebrating the holiday. Thea confesses that once half the family was lost at sea, no one felt like celebrating anymore. Despite her reluctance to revive the old traditions, Oliver charges on ahead with throwing a lavish party for the season.

Meanwhile, Arrow and Diggle are enjoying the way that the criminals on the list are starting to surrender the moment they get a visit from the hooded vigilante. Their success is short-lived, however, when another archer starts killing the guys they've already put out of business. "The Hood" gets blamed, but thankfully Detective Lance still has a brain and realizes the black arrows and pointless murder don't fit his nemesis' M.O.

Oliver gets an untraceable phone to communicate with Lance, asking for one of the crime-scene arrows so he can investigate. At first the detective refuses, but once he gets thwarted by his superiors and thrown off the case, he gives in. Oliver gets help from Felicity to track down the purchaser of the arrows, but he's lead to a booby-trapped warehouse, where he narrowly escapes being blown to bits.

As usual, the Queen family party doesn't go as planned. A recently threatened and tense Moira tries to warn Walter off of his continuing investigations, and he insists she tell him the truth about everything. Thea acts out by skipping the party to fool around with her new dopey boyfriend and tells off Oliver when he throws the kid out of the house.

Weirdly, Tommy decides the best way for Laurel to get over her holiday blues is to join another awkward event at the Queen house. She takes Oliver aside to tell him that she's been holding back committing to Tommy because of him. Oliver tries to ease her mind by giving her his blessing to move on, but we can see it hurts him to do so.

Diggle interrupts the party to inform his partner-in-justice that the mysterious archer has just taken five hostages, demanding Arrow's presence for ransom. Oliver slips out, suits up, and zip-lines his way into the booby-trapped building the police have been unable to breach. He frees the hostages and sends them up to be rescued from the roof.

This week's flashback revealed that the island was once a prison colony for China, until the military group that captured Oliver came in to eradicate everyone. Only the stranded playboy's friend and his torturer survived, and they're now using one to catch the other. The two get lured into a trap, and the original Arrow gets captured while Oliver escapes.

Back in real time, Oliver gets his butt handed to him by his newest adversary. He gets nailed by several arrows and knocked around badly, but plays possum long enough for a sneak attack that buys him time to escape. He phones Digg for help just before passing out. Back in the warehouse, his bigger, stronger foe unmasks himself to surprisingly reveal Malcolm, Tommy's dad and big honcho in the secret organization that controls Moira.

Oliver wakes up in the hospital. Moira, Walter, and Thea are there, buying Digg's story that Oliver was in a motorcycle accident. It's not exactly how he pictured it, but he's drawn the family together finally. Unfortunately, it's not long before Malcolm's men are whisking a drugged Walter away to some secret holding area, keeping him on ice for Moira to retrieve once their master plan is complete. A master plan that Moira ominously reveals will kill "thousands of people."

Catch up on all the recaps here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

'Arrow' Recap: Oliver Can't Stop Helena's 'Vendetta'

Arrow Vendetta Season 1 Episode 8 Helena

Last week's episode of "Arrow" once again had Oliver's sister, Thea, imploring him to open up to someone. In Episode 8, "Vendetta," our hooded hero unfortunately opens up too much. While it used to take superheroes years to reveal their secret identities, Arrow feels comfortable making it a second date sort of thing.

After his first-date bonding with Helena, Oliver decides he can put her on a better path to justice. At first, she's not interested. She doesn't want any romantic entanglements, or anyone getting in her way; Oliver did just that when she tried to execute the main Triads and get the gang to go to war against her father. It takes some schmoozing, but Arrow finally convinces her to give both archery and killing less a try.

Things seem to be going swimmingly, especially when Oliver is able to cross a bad guy off his list and hers with a death toll of zero. Of course he tells her about the list, and introduces Digg -- who is none too happy that Oliver is pouring so much trust into an unstable girl who could turn on them at any time.

Helena Ollie naked Arrow Vendetta photos pics screencaps

Helena and Oliver's bliss gets tested when they run into Laurel and Tommy at a restaurant and the girls suggest dining together. Things get awkward when Laurel tries to force Tommy to take her earlier suggestion and ask Oliver for a job at his new nightclub. It gets more awkward when Helena realizes that Laurel is her new boyfriend's former love. She thinks he still has feelings for his ex, and she angrily ends the relationship after dinner.

Tommy and Laurel have their own fight, but he shows up at her apartment to apologize. He explains that he's embarrassed and freaked out about losing his trust fund, but more worried about losing her. Laurel apologizes for forcing the issue but assures him he won't ruin his "street cred" by asking his friend Oliver for help. The two look to be back on track to serious coupledom.

Meanwhile, Walter seems to be reconciling with Moira. That is, until his employee Felicity ignites his suspicions about his wife's secret money transfer that was shadowed by an "NSA-good" organization. Felicity shows him a symbol she uncovered in association with that group, and Walter searches his own house. He finds a little hidden diary with the symbol and seemingly blank pages, just like Oliver's dad's book. With help from Felicity in revealing the invisible ink, Walter now has his own list of names to ponder.

Shirtless Oliver Arrow pecs biceps muscles Vendetta Season One Episode Six photos pictures pics screencaps

Helena enjoys every minute of her father's discomfort as she continues on her revenge trip, taking out four Triad heavies. Oliver's too late to stop her, but he's at her home when China White shows up with several assassins to retaliate against Helena's dad. Thanks to Arrow's help, the murdering mob boss nearly escapes with his laptop -- until Helena catches up to him. Oliver intervenes but nearly gets Helena killed by her father instead of the other way around.

Arrow carries a wounded Helena to safety, and the cops arrive in time to pick up her dad and his computer full of incriminating information. He's going to jail, and Helena doesn't have a family death on her conscience, but she's not grateful. She warns Oliver that his feelings are meaningless to her and that if he ever gets in her way again, she'll reveal his secret.

A dejected Oliver allows Digg his "I told you so" moment and apologizes for letting his loneliness cloud his judgment. He gets some good karma back when he and Tommy have a bro-hug moment after Tommy fesses up about his pauper state, and Oliver happily offers him the general manager job at his new club. All seems well, but Arrow knows he'll see Helena again, and we're guessing he'll run into China White again after he wounded but didn't kill her.

Catch up on all the recaps here!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

'Arrow' recap: Oliver Fights To Change Two Family 'Legacies'

Arrow Legacies Season 1 Episode 6 screencaps Ace poker mask robbers

"Arrow" likes working on parallel themes, and this week's episode "Legacies" focuses on how every individual has the power to change a bad pattern. With a little push from his partner, Digg, Arrow strays from the list on a different sort of mission but still finds himself face to face with his father's misdeeds.

The flashback this week had us back in that island cave with a trapped Oliver starving to death, burning pages of his father's notebook to keep warm. He hallucinates an image of his father, who even in our hero's mind is still lecturing him about being a disappointment. We learn that Oliver always thought his father was strong, brave, and better than him. We also finally learn how all those names appeared in that notebook -- they were there all along, in invisible ink, revealed when they neared the heat of the fire.

Back in real time, Oliver is ready to cross the next bad guy off his list when Digg presents him with a more immediate problem -- a gang of bank robbers who recently shot an off-duty cop. Oliver isn't interested in anything aside from The Plan, so Digg tricks him into showing up at the hospital and meeting the victim's wife. He sees firsthand how it's not just big business hurting good people. Arrow decides to give tracking down violent bank robbers a try.

A lead on one robber's high school ring and a bit of research reveals a family on a crime spree. Oliver learns that the father worked for Mr. Queen for 15 years, before the factory work was sent to China and all the employees were laid off with no severance. Feeling even more guilt for his family's deeds, Oliver finds the man at a local bar and offers him a job -- and a chance to change the dangerous path he's headed down. The father strongly considers packing it in, but his family convinces him they need that "final score" to make it all worth it.

Meanwhile, Oliver's friend Tommy is trying to woo Laurel into a real relationship. When flashing his wealth around doesn't impress, and he gets no time from his busy crime-fighting bud, Tommy turns to Thea for a bit of girl advice. She doesn't realize it's Laurel at the time and offers up directives to show interest in the lady's interests -- and pour his heart out. Turns out it's sound advice, and Tommy makes some headway toward convincing a cynical Laurel that he's sincere. There's a small wrinkle when a jealous Thea gets drunk and throws herself at Tommy, but his sweet handling of the incident helps impress Laurel even more.

Arrow tracks down the criminal family mid-robbery and tries to take them down himself, but a security guard intervenes and the father is killed protecting his son. It's a parallel to his own life that Oliver had hoped to avoid: a father who died for his son before making up for his own mistakes. Digg assures Oliver it's not his fault, but it's another harsh reminder that even a vigilante with the best intentions can sometimes inadvertently cause more harm than good.

After blowing off another series of family engagements to do his work as Arrow, Oliver realizes he's also causing harm at home. His mother has the pain of having her son alive but not really back. At the end of the episode, he finally takes the time to bond with her again, taking her out for hamburgers and a moment away from stuffy dinners and fundraisers. They share a laugh as loving mother and son, but we know there are so many secrets between them that a true heart-to-heart is impossible for now.

Catch up on all the recaps here!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Catch up with 'Arrow' Recaps Here!

Welcome, "Arrow" fans! If you're new to the show and want to catch up, or missed an episode, or if you just want a refresher before the next installment, this is the place.

[CLICK HERE for Season 2 Recaps!]

Bookmark it and you'll always know where to turn for the latest adventures of our favorite hooded hero.


Episode 1: 'Arrow' premiere recap

The pilot episode introduces us to Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who was shipwrecked on an island for five years before being rescued. In his time on the mysterious island, he's developed some scary and useful skills, and embarks on a secret quest to rid the city of corruption and violence.

Episode 2: 'Honor Thy Father,' Dishonor His Memory

The "Arrow" episode "Honor Thy Father" delves deeper into Oliver's emotional scars, his past on the island, and the dual life he must now lead.

Episode 3: 'Lone Gunmen' Face Off

In the episode "Lone Gunmen," Oliver faces a deadly assassin who's also targeting the men on his father's list.

Episode 4: Laurel and Oliver Work to Free 'An Innocent Man'

Arrow tries to work with Laurel and show the "new Oliver" he's become, but it turns out she doesn't much like the new guy either. After revealing his identity to Digg, it also appears Arrow's vigilante career may be over.

Episode 5: Is Oliver Permanently 'Damaged'?

"Arrow" takes us back to the island, and we find out how Oliver got those nasty scars, and how he found his own honor code. We also discover the hooded hero's plan to get himself out of being arrested.

Episode 6: Oliver Fights to Change Two Family 'Legacies'

In this week's episode, "Legacies," Arrow strays from The List and tries to help one of his father's victims turn away from a life of crime.

Episode 8: Oliver Can't Stop Helena's 'Vendetta'

In the "Arrow" episode "Vendetta," Oliver tries to put Helena on a less deadly path to justice. He opens up his heart, but will his readily-given trust be misplaced?

Episode 9: Oliver brings the family together at 'Year's End'

In "Arrow" episode "Year's End," Oliver relives memories of the island, tries to revive Christmas celebrations with his family, and is confronted by a dangerous new archer and adversary.

Episode 10: Oliver tracks a fireman-killer and nearly gets 'Burned'

Oliver struggles with the physical and emotional scars from his battle with the Dark Archer, but Laurel draws Arrow back into action with a case involving a string of murdered firemen.

Episode 11: Diggle learns the hard way to 'Trust, but Verify' 

Oliver gets caught in the middle of a rift between his mother and sister, Diggle finds out his former commander might be involved in some seriously criminal business.

Episode 12: Oliver saves the city from dangerous 'Vertigo'

In "Arrow" episode "Vertigo," Oliver has to save his sister from jail time for her DUI, and bring down the drug lord who made the dangerous Vertigo hallucinogen that caused her car crash.

Episode 13: Oliver and Laurel feel the sting of family 'Betrayal'

In "Arrow" episode "Betrayal," there's a new villain in town, and he's ready to use Laurel to help him take out the vigilante archer standing in his way.

Episode 14: Wounded Oliver re-lives his own version of 'The Odyssey'

In "Arrow" episode "The Odyssey," our hero gets shot and relives a flashback of his mission with Slade to get them both off the island.

Episode 15: Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity go after the murderous 'Dodger'  

In "Arrow" episode "Dodger," Oliver and Digg get help from Felicity to track down a thief who straps bomb collars to his victims and forces them to commit his heists for him.

Episode 16: Oliver saves his worst enemy's life in 'Dead to Rights'

In "Arrow" episode "Dead to Rights," Oliver discovers the attempt to assassinate Malcolm, and works with Felicity and Digg to intervene.

Episode 17: 'The Huntress Returns' to Blackmail Oliver

In "Arrow" episode "The Huntress Returns," Oliver is forced to make a choice between trying to redeem Helena and saving the lives of innocent people.

Episode 18: Criminals Pray for 'Salvation' From a New Vigilante 

In "Arrow" episode "Salvation," Oliver, Digg, and Felicity face one of their toughest tests when a vigilante starts kidnapping perceived criminals and executing them online--and he can't be traced.

Episode 19: Oliver and Diggle Both Deal With 'Unfinished Business'

In "Arrow" episode "Unfinished Business," the city is taken over with a new, deadlier form of Vertigo. Oliver must track down The Count again, while Diggle is distracted by pursuing Deadshot.

In "Arrow" episode "Home Invasion," Oliver makes hard choices with the best intentions, only to have it backfire and hurt the very people that mean the most to him.

In "Arrow" episode "The Undertaking," Malcolm's plot is finally revealed, Oliver finds Walter and learns the truth about his mother.

Episode 22: 'Arrow' Recap: Oliver and Felicity Land in Serious Trouble When They Try to Prevent The Undertaking

In "Arrow" episode "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Malcolm takes care of loose ends as The Undertaking is about to get underway. Unfortunately, one of those loose ends turns out to be Oliver.
Episode 23: Who made the ultimate sacrifice? 

In the "Arrow" season finale, "Sacrifice," all of our heroes come together to try and save the city, but not everyone will make it out alive. 

Watch "Arrow" on the CW, Wednesday nights at 8/7c.

PHOTO: "Arrow" screencap, c2012 CW, fair use.

'Arrow' recap: Is Oliver permanently 'Damaged'?

Arrow Damaged Season 1 recaps screencaps Oliver Queen Laurel Lance Detective lie detctor test arrest photos

Last week "Arrow" made a startling move: Our hooded hero was caught on camera as Oliver. It's tough to continue your career as an avenging vigilante if your secret identity has been blown and you've been arrested for murder. This week's episode, "Damaged," had a surprising way of working itself out of that corner.

Torture, rescue, entrapment

"Arrow" sent us back to the island in flashbacks again, this time to show us Oliver getting captured by the mysterious soldiers on the island. In their commander's tent, he's shown an old photo of his hooded Asian friend in military garb and asked for information. Oliver refuses to give up anything, even when he's brutally tortured by a scary dude in tactical garb and a two-color mask that comic book fans will know as Deathstroke, a.k.a. Slade, enemy of the Teen Titans.

Oliver's friend shows up to rescue him, and we get a hardcore throwdown between the island warrior and Deathstroke. The original Arrow wins the fight long enough to get his protege out of danger and into a cave. He lets Oliver know he's impressed that he survived the nasty torture without betraying him moments before he traps the young Mr. Queen inside the cave with a large boulder and draws the pursuing soldiers away.

Free as a bird...or an Arrow

Back in the present day, everyone in Oliver's life is worried about his impending incarceration -- except for him. As he tells his new partner in justice, Diggle, getting caught was part of his plan. He knew suspicion would fall on him eventually, and so he wanted to do it on his terms. He has Laurel, patron saint of lost causes and a glutton for punishment, represent him in court. She gets him home confinement with an ankle bracelet, and he throws a party.

What seems an obnoxious lack of decorum by his family and friends is all part of setting up an alibi for Oliver. He sends Digg on a mission to break up an arms deal -- as Arrow. Once the police get reports that the man in green has struck again, while their suspect is partying in front of a hundred witnesses, the prosecution has no choice but to drop all charges. Oliver's joy is almost short-lived, however, when an assassin bursts into his room and tries to kill him. Luckily the broken monitoring bracelet sends Detective Lance to the scene, and he shoots the assassin at a very opportune moment.

Damaged Goods

Arrow Damaged screencaps Laurel Lance tears glassy eyes Katie Cassidy Ollie photos

In the process of defending him, Laurel finds out about Oliver's nasty scars and realizes that she wasn't the only one going through hell after that fateful boat accident. After inspecting those scars personally, she also finds out that she's still attracted to her ex, but after one smoldering kiss, they both agree that getting together's not going to happen. After all, Oliver also just found out that Laurel's mom left after her sister's death, so that's one more reason for her and Detective Lance to hate him.

Oliver doesn't blame them and encourages Laurel to think that he's just damaged goods, incapable of being some Robin Hood assassin. He's playing a part, trying to keep his identity safe, but we get the feeling he's probably more emotionally scarred than he realizes.

Moira's secrets

Meanwhile, Walter tries to figure out more about his wife's secrets and sends his most trusted security expert down to the warehouse to move the boat wreckage to a secure location. When he gets the news that his guy got into a car "accident," he calls Moira in for a pow-wow. She tells him he's in over his head and he has to stop messing with powerful people. He's totally stunned that she's been lying to him for so long and packs his bags for a business trip to Australia with an indeterminate return date.

Moira goes and confronts her mysterious rendezvous partner about the recent death and attempted assassination of her son. When she gets a "sorry, it's just business" reply, she threatens to turn off her "good soldier" persona and go postal on them if they ever harm any of her family. We're guessing this will just inspire them to make her the first target.

Arrow lives to fight another day

Oliver's clear to be Arrow again for now, but Laurel, Thea, and Detective Lance still have varying amounts of suspicion about his identity. What do you think, "Arrow" fans? Which one of them will find out the truth first?

More Season 1 Recaps here!

PHOTO: 2012 "Arrow" screencaps, "Damaged," CW, fair use.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Arrow' recap: Laurel and Oliver work to free 'An Innocent Man'

Arrow An Innocent Man screencaps Season 1 recaps Laurel Lance Katie Cassidy photos

The premiere season of "Arrow" has been running at a breakneck pace, and episode "An Innocent Man" overflows with twists and reveals some of the biggest challenges Oliver has faced yet. The rich playboy at first seems to have leapt several hurdles in his quest for justice and in embracing the new-and-improved Oliver, but events take a sharp turn to put Arrow in serious jeopardy.

The secret identity blues

Revealing his secret identity to Diggle at first doesn't initially go as planned for Oliver. The groggy and wounded bodyguard takes a swing at him, calls him a vigilante murderer, and scoffs at the idea of working together. We wonder if Digg is going to turn him in, but Oliver arrives home without incident.

That is until he's taken to task by Laurel, who was waiting at his home to find out if he was OK. It's clear that leading a secret life sometimes means you leave the people you care about hanging, and Laurel accuses him of being supremely selfish. The only good news is that his sister Thea seems to be on his side, and she suggests that Oliver start showing Laurel the "new guy" that he feels he's become.

New recruits to join the fight

After catching a story on the news about Peter Declan, a man about to be executed for murdering his wife, Oliver learns that the victim worked for one of the bad guys on his list. He sets up a scary shadowy-guy-in-dark-apartment meeting with Laurel and tells her to look into the case. Though she's a bit uncomfortable with his methods, she goes ahead and follows the leads with his help, but even tying a bribed witness to train tracks doesn't get them enough evidence for a stay of execution. Detective Lance figures out that Laurel's been helping out Arrow and he lectures her, earning a sharp retort that the police never did their job right in the first place.

Reassured by the fact that Digg didn't turn him in, Oliver makes another stab at recruiting him. He tells him the truth about how his father killed himself in the lifeboat and says that going through the list is about helping the people of the city, as well as righting the wrongs his own family has committed. He also drops the bomb that the assassin he just killed was probably responsible for Digg's brother's death.

Impulse control

Laurel visits the prison to try to reassure her client Declan and gets caught up in a prison riot designed to end with her death. She helpfully adopts the dumb-female-victim role and instead of taking cover, runs directly into the crowd of rioting prisoners. Luckily Arrow, who's donning a ski mask, has shown up just in time to rescue her, but she has to save him from pummeling her would-be assassin to death. She later tells her father that she agrees with him on the dangers of hanging with Arrow, that he's a cold-blooded killer. From his rooftop perch, Oliver overhears; all his previous joy at working with Laurel evaporates.

Striking a balance

Throughout the episode, we're given flashbacks to the island, where the hooded figure forces a starving Oliver to kill his own food. He also warns the remorseful young man that a helpless bird won't be the only thing he has to kill to survive. We see how his transformation began and how the "new Oliver" is really not fit for normal society.

Enter Digg, who has considered Oliver's offer and accepts -- but not as his "sidekick." He feels that Arrow needs someone to balance him out, to keep him from permanently becoming that scary, remorseless guy that struck fear into Laurel's heart earlier. Oliver doesn't have time to enjoy the new partnership, however, as Detective Lance arrives to arrest him. A review of the security footage from the sniper attack revealed our hero's costume grab in the hallway, evidence that he's Arrow.

Secrets on top of secrets

If that wasn't enough shock for one episode, Oliver's step-dad Walter does a little digging into a 2.6 million discrepancy in his company's books and discovers his wife has a shell company with a mysterious warehouse. He visits the location and is stunned to find the wreckage of the Queen men's boat inside.

Meanwhile, Moira has another secret rendezvous with the shadowy figure in the limo, who turns out to be played by John Barrowman, a.k.a. Captain Jack from "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" fame. As they go over the names of the men Arrow has targeted, Moira realizes he is "targeting the list." What will happen when Oliver's arrest reveals he is Arrow?

More Season 1 Recaps here!

PHOTO: 2012 "Arrow" screencap, "An Innocent Man," CW, 2012.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Arrow' recap: 'Lone Gunmen' face off

Arrow Lone Gunmen screencaps Oliver Queen Deadshot Stephen Amell

The third episode of "Arrow" amped up the pressure on our hero, Oliver Queen. With a deadly assassin targeting his own hit list, a wayward sister getting busted for shoplifting, and his bodyguard getting way too close, Oliver realizes it's all too much even for a budding superhero to handle alone.

The threat
Arrow visits another villain on his list to offer up a chance at redemption, but a sniper takes out the target before he gets a chance. Grazed by the deadly bullet, Oliver heads back to his hideout to nurse his wound, only to realize the bullet was also poisoned. Luckily, he learned about some herbal antidotes from his mysterious hooded friend back on the island. A friend, we see in flashbacks, who helped protect him from some other, scarier dudes in the jungle.

Once he's recovered, Oliver does his own investigation of the crime scene, and the clues lead to the Russian mob. Because he speaks Russian and has the right tattoo, the famous playboy is somehow able to pass himself off as one of their own -- including a background check into his false identity. One of the mobsters gives him a lead on the assassin Deadshot (Michael Rowe), a lethal killer for hire that tattoos his victims' names all over his body.

Family and friends
Oliver is still struggling to help his troubled sister and decides to enlist his mother's help. Thea doesn't seem too interested in Mom's new discipline, until the two finally have a heart-to-heart chat and share a memory about Dad. Both agree to try to have a better relationship.

Meanwhile, Oliver decides to build a night club over his secret Arrow base to provide cover for all of his late-night outings and an excuse for his being in the run-down neighborhood. While scoping out the competition at a former rival's club, Oliver learns about Laurel and Tommy -- and decides to be totally cool about it. After a fight breaks out with the owner, he also learns that Laurel can kick some serious butt, thanks to her dad's insistence on self-defense classes.

Acting alone
Arrow gets the jump on Deadshot at the murderer's favorite hotel, but with a little help from his arm cannon and swift moves, Deadshot escapes. Our hero does manage to snag the bad guy's laptop and learns his next target: An auction, where businessmen bid to buy another company, that his own family is attending. Knowing he can't protect everyone from his deadly adversary, Arrow sneaks up on Detective Lance and forcefully passes along the information about the possible hit.

Despite their best efforts, several people are shot, though Detective Lance manages to save Walter's life, and Digg gets Oliver's mother and sister out of the building. Oliver dons his Arrow gear and heads up to the sniper's perch, confronting Deadshot in an arrow-to-bullet showdown. A well-placed arrowhead plunges into Deadshot's elaborate strapped-on monocle, but the bad news is that a snooping Digg has gotten shot with one of those poisonous bullets.

Oliver makes a bold decision, taking Digg down to his Arrow lair to get him the antidote for the poison. As the episode "Lone Gunmen" fades out, we see that Oliver has decided to reveal Arrow's true identity to his bodyguard.

More Season 1 Recaps here!

PHOTO: 2012 "Arrow" screencap, "Lone Gunmen", CW, fair use.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

'Arrow' recap: 'Honor Thy Father,' Dishonor His Memory

Now that "Arrow" has introduced many of the main players in the pilot, the episode "Honor Thy Father" gives us a deeper look into Oliver Queen and the new duality of his life. We also get more of an understanding of what happened to the former irreverent playboy on that island. Throw in a new villain, family drama, and two shadowy figures, and viewers have another entertaining installment of the comic book series.

Dead to me
While Oliver is nursing his own emotional wounds from five years on the island, Thea lets him know that he wasn't the only one who suffered. When he once again refuses to open up to her, she takes him to the back of their property to show him the two grave markers that were put up for her father and brother. While he was gone, she used to talk to Oliver's grave in a way that she feels she can't now that he's here.

Rather than confiding in her, however, he visits his ex, Laurel, to try and mend fences. He tells her his previous brush-off was meant to protect her, not hurt her. The two share an evening of conversation and ice cream, and Oliver lets her know that no amount of apologizing from him will ever make up for her sister's death. It turns out to be lucky that he's there, when several assassins burst in to kill Laurel and prevent her from continuing a civil case against their murdering crime boss.

Digg is catching on
To appease his mother, Oliver finally concedes to having bodyguard Diggle at his side. The ex-military man lets his slippery charge know that one more escape and "your mother won't have to fire me." Having Digg around comes in handy in the attack on Laurel, and fans got a fantastic fight scene where Oliver's bodyguard really shows his mad skills in the combat department. Martial artist and ruthless assassin China White gets the jump on him, however, and it takes a precise knife throw by Oliver to scare her off and save Digg's life.

Oliver tries to shake it off as a "lucky throw," but Digg isn't buying it. We can also see him carefully appraising his client's every move, not convinced when Oliver turns on his "useless playboy" act to fool everyone into thinking he hasn't changed since his ordeal on the island. It's a good bet that Digg is eventually going to be an important ally in Oliver's quest.

Honor thy father
In dual poignant scenes, Oliver says goodbye to his father. We see him in flashback, alone and scared on the island, dragging his dad's body farther onto land and then covering him with stones. Back at home, he talks to the grave marker Thea showed him, promising his dad that he'll continue on the quest to right the wrongs his father and others committed on the city. In order to honor Mr. Queen's wishes, however, sometimes he'll have to dishonor his memory. No one can know what Oliver's up to, and he's forced to accept that he can't be the responsible heir his mother wants him to be until his mission is done.

We learn in the flashback that the little book Oliver carries, with the names of corrupt people his father gave him, was originally his father's. The front inside cover of the book carries a circular symbol, one that we see later with a shadowy figure Mrs. Queen is speaking with at a secret meeting. She nervously tells the mystery villain that it's quite clear now that Oliver knows nothing about them and that he doesn't know that the boat was sabotaged. We're not sure if she's merely a frightened pawn in a larger game or willingly a part of the murder plot on her family.

Future dangers
Oliver is always in danger of getting caught and nearly gets nabbed by Laurel's policeman father. Though his daughter feels The Arrow is helping fight crime, Detective Lance doesn't like vigilantes and vows to bring the archer to justice as soon as possible.

Both Oliver and his alter ego now have to be cautious of a return from China White, who escaped from Laurel's apartment. There's Digg's suspicions, and his mother and Walter's watchful eyes. Then there's his friend Tommy, who's keeping the secrets of Oliver's fighting skills for now but doesn't appear to be all that comfortable with his friend's new incarnation.

Then there's the mysterious man in Oliver's flashback, a hooded archer who looks a lot like Arrow does now. In his first day on the island, our hero is struck through the shoulder with an arrow from this cloaked figure. Is he the reason for all of Oliver's scars? Is he still out there?

More Season 1 Recaps here!

PHOTO: 2012 "Arrow" Screencap, "Honor Thy Father", CW, fair use.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Arrow' Premiere Recap

In the "Arrow" premiere, we're introduced to Oliver Queen, a looking-worse-for-wear wild man on an island, who lights a bonfire to catch the attention of a passing ship. The horribly scarred refugee gets rescued and brought back to civilization, where it's revealed he's a well-known playboy who was famous mostly for partying and irresponsible behavior--five years ago.

What happened in those five years? We're not sure, but somehow Oliver picked up some badass military/martial arts/superhero skills that he's hoping to use to wipe out all the corruption and violence in the city. He quickly readopts his useless trust fund boy persona as a cover for his nightime jaunts of scaring/killing bad guys with his mad archery skills.

Oliver has a plan, but it's not easy readjusting to being back home. His mother has remarried and his step-father is running the family business. His kid sister is angry and rebellious and turning to recreational drugs. He's happy to see everyone again, but doesn't yet know how to let them in on what happened to him.

Mom's happy he's home, but Oliver is giving serious side-eye to her new husband.

As the pilot unfolds, we learn that Oliver was on a boat trip with his father, and his girlfriend's sister Sarah. Apparently he invited Sarah for a little cheating rendezvous, but it ends in tragedy when the boat breaks apart in the storm. Oliver, his father, and another man survive, but Sarah is sucked down into the water.

Their hope in the lifeboat diminishes, and so Oliver's father decides his son is the one who needs the food and water that remains to survive. He shoots the other raft survivor, then himself, but not before revealing to his son that he's been a bad person in his life. He has a list of people that have been complicit in ruining their city for personal gain, and wants Oliver to get back home and right the wrongs he's committed.

Needless to say, Oliver's ex Laurel has conflicting emotions over her boyfriend's return. She clearly still has feelings, but considering how he betrayed her and was indirectly responsible for her sister's death, it's tough to feel happy that he's back from the dead. Her father, police detective Lance, hates him even more. He's also extremely determined to hunt down the vigilante with the bow and arrow that he feels is just as dangerous as the bad guys he's taking out.

Home sweet castle...the Queen family mansion.

Oliver's best friend Tommy tries to get him back into the fold of partying and enjoying life, doing his best to conceal the secret that he got hot and heavy with Laurel a few times. Oliver attempts to reintegrate to help with his cover, but he's not in town long before he's kidnapped and interrogated for information on what he knows about his father's business.

This is where we get to see Oliver turn assassin, taking guys out left and right, and Tommy catches a glimpse. Luckily he backs his friend up in the story to police that the hooded guy with the arrows saved them from the kidnappers. Tommy doesn't seem to know exactly how to handle this new side of his bar buddy, and we're left wondering if this will come back to haunt Oliver later.

After the kidnapping, Oliver's mother insists he have a bodyguard, which makes life a bit more difficult for carrying on Arrow's secret work. Though Diggle is an ex-military man, Oliver manages to give him the slip a number of times, in order to sneak off to one of his father's old factories that he'll be using as his superhero lair.

The final big twist of the episode comes when we learn that Mrs. Queen was the one who had her son kidnapped and questioned. Clearly she's hiding some part of the family secrets Oliver's dad warned him about.

Watch "Arrow" on the CW, Thursday nights at 8/7c.
Catch up on all the recaps here!

PHOTOS: Screencaps of "Arrow" pilot, c2012 CW, fair use.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'The Good Wife' Catch-Up, Plus More Season 4 Spoilers

"The Good Wife" kicks back into high gear this Sunday, and we'll be jumping in to the results of four different cliffhangers from Season 3. Don't remember all the nuts and bolts of the spring finale? You can head over to Yahoo! TV and read my recap, where you'll also get a peek into how Season 4 will be handling some of the big issues.

So what other SPOILERS do we have for Season 4? Well, for one thing, Kristin Chenoweth will not only appear in the Season 4 premiere, but will have a continuing arc on the series. It had previously been thought that her storyline as a journalist might be cut short due to an on-set injury, but thankfully she's reportedly back to filming scenes on "The Good Wife."

For more good news on "The Good Wife," the talented Maura Tierney will guest star on the show as a wealthy businesswoman who could become the Big Money behind Peter's campaign for governor. Tierney lost a lead role in "Parenthood" due to a battle with cancer, but she continued on with "Rescue Me" and it'll be great to see her here. One of the things I love most about "The Good Wife" is all the opportunities for good characters it provides for actresses we admire.

One of the spoilers I'm less happy about is that apparently Alicia will have to defend her son in court after "a run-in with a state trooper." I'm hoping that Zach is not at fault in this instance, because I've never been a fan of his punky, rebellious teenager regressions.

In other casting news, John Shea ("Gossip Girl") will be coming on the show as Cary's dad, a guy who kicked his son out of the house at 18 so he could learn to fend for himself. It will be interesting to see how impressed he is with what Cary has been up to--we're guessing it's not going to be a perfect relationship.

Don't forget to check out "The Good Wife": Where we left off, and what's in store for Season 4 before you watch the Season 4 premire on Sunday, September 30 at 9/8c.

PHOTO: Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in "The Good Wife," screencap c2012 CBS, fair use.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Partners' Doesn't Suck!

Brandon Routh, Michael Urie, David Krumholtz, and Sophia Bush star in "Partners".

When I saw who the three male leads for "Partners" were, my first thought was, "Oh, please don't suck!" After all, I've loved David Krumholtz all the way from short-lived "Chicago Sons" to "Serenity" to "Numb3rs". Brandon Routh was a perfect, gorgeous "Superman" and brought some uber sexy bad boy goodness to "Chuck". Last but not least, we have the fabulously funny Michael Urie of "Ugly Betty" fame, where he had fantastic catty chemistry with firecracker Becki Newton.

Having never watched the epically long-running series "One Tree Hill", I'm not familiar with Sophia Bush, so you all will have to let me know how her TV history rates. She didn't bowl me over in the "Partners" premiere, but she did fine, and a pilot isn't usually the best judge of acting. Like with most series, this first episode had a bit of that "trying too hard" vibe, something Matthew Perry over at "Go On" is still fighting with a few episodes in--and I know he's a good actor.

"Partners" focuses on the lifelong friendship between Joe (Krumholtz) and Louis (Urie). Their bond is so strong that it threatens to interfere with Joe's relationship with his fiancee Ali (Bush) in particular, and to some extent Louis' relationship with his boyfriend Wyatt (Routh). At one point, Ali complains that Joe called Louis immediately after she and Joe had sex for the first time. Louis adorably explains the shared excitement: "You were so out of our league!"

There's plenty of cliche gay/straight humor here, but everyone is so good-natured and likable that the playful banter is entertaining, even if it isn't ground-breaking. When Wyatt confesses, for example, that he feigned understanding one of Joe's manly metaphors because he was afraid he'd seem "too gay" otherwise, Louis pertly replied, "You're a male nurse and you DVR every program on Bravo. That ship has sailed."

Routh's character was most surprising, perhaps simply because my most recent impression of him was of his worldy, ruthless, scheming character on "Chuck". Here he's sweet, soft-spoken and sort of airhead-y, with perfect knowledge of his good looks but not so swift with the innuendoes. He's something of a "lite" version of Joey from "Friends", and I'm not convinced he or the writers quite have a handle on his character yet.

The "Partners" pilot had plot turns you could see coming from a mile away, but I don't think plot twists are going to be the point on this show. A lot of critics have been referring to the show as an old school sitcom, and it doesn't seem like a bad thing to return to simpler times. After all, "Partners" was pleasant, with appealing characters, and I laughed throughout the episode. No complaints here.

There's a possibility this fluffier fare could wear out its welcome, but for now, I consider it worth tuning in for the next episode. It'll be a nice way to spend a half hour.

Watch "Partners" on CBS Mondays at 8:30/7:30c.
PHOTO: Screencap of "Partners" pilot, c2012 CBS, fair use.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is Sigourney Weaver the Weak Link in 'Political Animals'?

The pilot episode of "Political Animals" was pretty bad, made all the more disappointing by the wonderful cast mired in that awfulness. Based pretty strongly on the Clintons as far as framework is concerned--failed presidential bid by former wife of philandering president leads to job as Secretary of State--the show pushed forth an odd mix of weighty dialogue, blunt humor, and in-your-face sex scenes.

Sigourney Weaver, as "bitchy" politician turned America's sweetheart Elaine Barrish, sadly came off the worst in the pilot. As she traded barbs with her ex (Ciaran Hinds) and a critical reporter (Carla Gugino), and laid down words of wisdom to her sons (James Wolk and Sebastian Stan), it felt like an overwrought performance in community theater. I love Weaver and have tremendous respect for her as an actress, so it was very hard to accept as the hour wore on that I was finding her performance the weakest on "Political Animals."

To be fair, the writing has to shoulder some of the blame. There's too much of an effort to be slick, ballsy, and smarter than everyone in the room. The same could be said of someone like Aaron Sorkin, but the difference is that he pulls it off with rapid-fire, clever dialogue. "Political Animals" just comes off as cliche, and perhaps due to the "limited series" constraints, tries to load in too many issues-of-the-week like "woman in man's world" and "gay son thrust into spotlight." Then there's sibling rivalry and an alcoholic mother (Ellen Burstyn). One son has a bulimic fiancee, the other a drug problem.

Stan played the troubled, rebellious gay son to heartbreaking perfection in the short-lived series "Kings," but despite the striking similarity in roles, he seems merely reduced to a succession of bad choices here. At no point in "Political Animals" do you get the sense that anyone is an actual person. It's just a series of fiction tropes paraded on screen.

The show has two female lead characters and a cast with an excellent pedigree, and a few lines of humor actually hit the mark, so I tuned in again for the episode "Second Time Around." As I watched this episode, I started to realize that this is a series on USA, a network that prides itself on taking serious topics and lightening them up with humor and silliness. The tone of the show, including Hinds' scenery chewing caricature of Bill Clinton's easy charm and bravado, started to make a little more sense.

Once I let go of my expectations of a serious drama, and accepted scenes like the dorky "Words with Friends" competition between the former president and Gugino's cynical journalist, "Political Animals" became more enjoyable. The one-liners and insults landed better in "Second Time Around," and we viewers started to get a better feel for Barrish and her ex-husband's relationship.

Weaver got a better handle on her character and relaxed into her flirtations and political machinations more. But thinking back on her roles in films like "Working Girl" and "Ghostbusters," she's never been a natural at comedy. "Political Animals" isn't quite a comedy, which makes it even tougher. You feel a certain lack of conviction when she announces these "tough political lady" speeches in a melodramatic hands-on-hips pose. Gugino's more sly, understated delivery is better-suited to the wink-wink vibe this show seems to be going for.

After its second episode, "Political Animals" ends up being a decent bit of Sunday evening fluff, but it's sadly not yet what I would have hoped for from a story so rich with possibilities. I'm guessing Weaver and Hinds wouldn't have signed up for a long-terms series, but it's a shame because the material might have been stronger if these plot lines had been allowed a more natural timeline to develop. Following the same story from the point of view of the political figures involved as well as through the eyes of a journalist is an intriguing prospect, and could have filled up at least a few seasons worth of episodes.

Have you been watching "Political Animals"? What do you think about the series?

PHOTOS: Sigourney Weaver and Ciaran Hinds as Elaine Barrish and Bud Hammond.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brits Take Over the Emmy Awards

TV snobs fans have often considered British TV to be superior to those series made in the States, and many of this year's Emmy nominations seem to follow that logic. Something that is perhaps more telling, though, is the fact that in the Outstanding Drama Series category, no network TV shows made the cut. So it may not be that it's just British series that are in favor, but anything made by cable stations.

The freedom of cable TV allows creators to come up with edgier, more adult material, and that's just the sort of thing Emmy voters are going to be checking boxes for. Popularity of a given show doesn't always translate to awards, but it definitely helps a series to get noticed. In thinking about how a stuffy upstairs/downstairs PBS drama like "Downton Abbey" got to be so popular, I came to the conclusion that viewers are appreciating these shows for the same reason I always have--the variety of human experience.

Britain hasn't exactly been untouched by tabloid journalism and obsessions with thinness and physical perfection. Fortunately, this hasn't transferred completely into their films and TV, where less-than-perfect people are still allowed lead roles and romantic storylines. I think a lot of viewers don't even realize why they are so attracted to a British series. But that emphasis on building a character, someone with flaws and virtues and yes, even a big nose or freckles, gives us people we care much more deeply about. Physical perfection is nice to look at, but hard to identify with, and rarely sucks us in the way a truly unique character does.

Want to read more about the British actors and series nominated for Emmys? Head over to my Yahoo! omg! piece: "Britain is the New Sexy--Dramatic UK Actors Scoop Up Emmy Award Nominations."

PHOTO: Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Season 2 of "Downton Abbey," screencap c2011 Carnival Films, ITV, PBS. Fair use.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cool Batman Gifts for 'Dark Knight Rises' Fans

Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Batman Figure

There's good news if you're looking for an awesome 'Dark Knight Rises' action figure to add to your collection. The bad boy pictured above is $17.99, but for a limited time, he's FREE if you load up your cart with $99 worth of other Batman goodies from our sponsors over at Entertainment Earth.

Scroll through for some highlights of "The Dark Knight Rises" and Batman collectibles available:

Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Batman FigureBatman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters BATMAN Figure:From Christopher Nolan's 3rd installment of the Batman trilogy - The Dark Knight Rises comes this ultra detailed, movie accurate Movie Masters 6-inch Batman action figure! This 6-inch scale Batman action figure is designed with authentic detail and supreme quality. The Batman action figure comes with a Batsignal piece! Collect all Batsignal pieces to build a complete Batsignal that not only lights up, but it also projects on the wall! Ages 14 and up. CLICK to Order $17.99 Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Batman Figure from Entertainment Earth! Act now and you can get him for FREE if you spend $99 or more!

Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Bane Action FigureBatman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters BANE Action Figure:From Christopher Nolan's 3rd installment of the Batman trilogy - The Dark Knight Rises comes this ultra detailed, movie accurate Movie Masters 6-inch Bane action figure! This 6-inch scale Bane action figure is designed with authentic detail and supreme quality. The Bane action figure comes with a Batsignal piece! Collect all Batsignal pieces to build a complete Batsignal that not only lights up, but it also projects on the wall! Ages 14 and up. CLICK to Order $17.99 Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Bane Action Figure from Entertainment Earth!

Dark Knight Rises Batman Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head Dark Knight Rises BATMAN Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head:Just look at the detail on Batman's awesome costume on this Dark Knight Rises Batman Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head! Standing a solid 7-inches tall, and inspired by Christian Bale's portrayal of the Caped Crusader in Christopher Nolan's blockbuster film The Dark Knight Rises, this Wacky Wobbler makes a great collectible for fans of the movie and Batman alike. When you see just how stylized this cool-looking bobble head is, you'll want to collect Bane, too! Ages 5 and up. Bane Bobble Head sold separately. Ages 5 and up.CLICK to Order $12.99 Dark Knight Rises Batman Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head from Entertainment Earth!

Dark Knight Rises Bane Wacky Wobbler Bobble HeadDark Knight Rises Bane Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head:While Tom Hardy's portrayal of Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises has been the subject of much controversy and debate, there's no arguing just how awesome and detailed this bobble head of Bane looks! Standing 7-inches tall, the Dark Knight Rises Bane Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head features all the necessary details, like the mask that muffles Bane's voice and the bulletproof vest underneath his olive-green jacket. Modeled after the more menacing version featured in the Christopher Nolan movie, this highly collectible Bane Bobble Head is so cool looking you'll want to collect the Batman Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head, too! Ages 5 and up. Batman Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head sold separately. CLICK to Order $12.99 Dark Knight Rises Bane Wacky Wobbler Bobble Head from Entertainment Earth!

Batman Arkham City Mr. Freeze Deluxe Action FigureBatman Arkham City MR. FREEZE Deluxe Action Figure:The Arkham City Mr. Freeze Deluxe action figure stands at a detailed 7 1/4-inches tall. Welcome to Arkham City, the maximum security "home" for all of Gotham City's thugs, gangsters, and insane criminal masterminds. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, it's filled with the most murderous villains from DC Comics' Batman universe. But Batman is ready to tackle it with all his gadgets and his greatest - and most dangerous - allies. Which is good, because he'll need all the help he can get when he faces the dangerous Mr. Freeze! Ages 14 and up. CLICK to Order Batman Arkham City Mr. Freeze Deluxe Action Figure from Entertainment Earth! 

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Dark Knight Rises Catwoman Pop! Heroes Vinyl FigureDark Knight Rises CATWOMAN Pop! Heroes Vinyl Figure:Modeled after Anne Hathaway's Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises, this stylized Dark Knight Rises Catwoman Pop! Heroes Vinyl Figure stands 3 3/4-inches tall. Keeping the collector in mind, the Catwoman Pop! Vinyl figure comes in a displayable window box. When you see just how cool this little vinyl figure looks, you're going to want to add Batman and Bane to your collection, too! Ages 5 and up. CLICK to Order $9.99 Dark Knight Rises Catwoman Pop! Heroes Vinyl Figure from Entertainment Earth!

If you want something a bit more detailed, and extravagant, and heck, sexy--you can also get that free action figure with one simple stunning purchase:

Dark Knight Rises Batman ArtFX Statue

Dark Knight Rises Batman ArtFX Statue: 

*Breathtaking ArtFx statue based on "The Dark Knight Rises."
*Over 15-inches tall on a rocky display base that includes a light-up Bat symbol! 
*Display him with either a grapple gun or his EMP rifle! 

Behold the Dark Knight! Kotobukiya presents this breathtaking ArtFx statue based on The Dark Knight Rises. Sculpted by Mic, Batman The Dark Knight Rises towers over 15-inches tall (1:6 scale) on a rocky display base that includes a hidden light-up Bat symbol! Perfect for both longtime Batman collectors and fans of the movie, this Caped Crusader looks fantastic on his own or next to other dynamic Kotobukiya Batman statues (sold separately). 
With interchangeable parts, you can display him with either a grapple gun or his EMP rifle! 

Featuring a beautifully detailed sculpt recreating Batman's specific appearance in the The Dark Knight Rises film, this version of the Caped Crusader faithfully renders the hero's intricate armored Bat-suit with cape and cowl. Standing ready for action, the world's greatest detective oversees Gotham City from the top of a rocky landscape. Staring down his enemies with his trademark scowl, Batman holds his flowing cape in front of him with his left hand while his right wields one of his wonderful toys. 

The Bat was reinvented with 2005's Batman Begins, and its two sequels have further evolved the Dark Knight. The third part of a trilogy by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises pits Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne against both Bane and Catwoman. To celebrate that movie release, you can acquire a unique incarnation of the big-screen hero for your shelf with the Batman Dark Knight Rises Statue!
CLICK to Order Dark Knight Rises Batman ArtFX Statue from Entertainment Earth!

If you have any questions about the Batman and "The Dark Knight Rises" collectibles you see here, or Entertainment Earth, leave a comment or tweet me @ValerieDavid and I'll help you out!

  Entertainment Earth

Saturday, June 16, 2012

'What Not to Wear' - Kathy

I confess that when I first saw promos for Kathy's makeover episode on "What Not to Wear," I thought to myself that I was glad they had finally decided to feature a woman in her 50s or 60s. Then the commercial revealed that Kathy was 45.

I'm guessing a lot of home viewers were shocked at Kathy's age, but this was no mere lapse of style on her part. The episode revealed that this mom of three had not only survived a bout with cancer, but had lost her husband a little over a year ago.

Stacy got choked up as she and Clinton talked with Kathy about her life, and how she hadn't made any time for herself because all she was focused on was being well for, and taking care of, her children. Our two favorite stylists let her know that her family now thought she deserved a little time and attention for herself.

Going through Kathy's wardrobe didn't take much time. It consisted mostly of sweats and T-shirts, and what my mom refers to as "pumpkin sweatshirts." There seems to be an extraordinary amount of women in the U.S. who enjoy donning shapeless sweatshirts and tees with cartoon characters or holiday themes like pumpkins, Christmas trees, and snowmen. Into.the.trash!

Like most women, Kathy didn't like her body shape, and felt comfortable hiding inside of big, baggy clothes. Shown a mannequin with a pretty print teal dress, Kathy protested, "But I'm 45!" I guess we have to blame fashion magazines and Hollywood for perpetuating the myth that you can only look good when you're 20, but it's still sad to see so many women who believe more than half of their life should be spent in "old lady" clothes.

Stacy and Clinton assured Kathy that, while they didn't want her to be uncomfortable, they wanted her to try out a few different things to find a dress or outfit that made her feel pretty. They wanted to prove to her that being happy about herself would make those around her happy, too.

Despite her claim that she was dreading the shopping trip, Kathy actually proved pretty savvy in finding clothes that fit and flattered her shape. The problem was that she still wasn't comfortable seeing herself as attractive, and so left things behind in the store that she felt had one tiny flaw or another. Stacy and Clinton later assured her that a dress with a gapping neckline (which it honestly didn't have) could be tacked with a bit of thread or fixed with a little cami underneath.

While the clothes were a big shift, showing Kathy that her previous boxy shape could be transformed into a vavoomy hourglass, the hair and make-up pushed this over into one of the most stunning makeovers in "What Not to Wear" history.

Once she had her dark hair and rosy make-up in place, Kathy looked like her own daughter. As she embraced her teen girls in the final reveal, you could finally see the resemblance between the mom and her children. Her whole posture and demeanor changed, and her perky personality came shining through.

Friends and family were thrilled at Kathy's new look, and in her "What Not to Wear" video update, Kathy confessed that when she went to work, she was actually refused entrance because the person at the door didn't recognize her!

This was one of "WNTW"'s finer episodes, that reached its loftier goal of transforming a woman's life through clothes--in a way that is about so much more than the clothes. Kathy learned how much her daughters love her and want her to be happy, and that rather than feel guilty about what her children have gone through, to be proud of how she's come through it all for them.

I'm not sure how anyone could have watched this episode without shedding tears. Kathy was one of the sweetest makeover participants who had been dealt a lot of trauma in her life, and still managed to give everything to her children and to cancer charity work. Stacy and Clinton asked for extra hugs during the in-studio reveal; they were so happy to have worked with such a kind and deserving client.

My only complaint about the episode was my usual "What Not to Wear" complaint. Gals with glasses always miraculously have 20/20 vision after their makeover. Kathy's glasses definitely needed an upgrade, and I was looking forward to seeing what modern frames they'd choose for her, but instead she just ditched the glasses like an ugly duckling-to-swan character in a romantic comedy.

Not everyone out there can wear contacts or have eye surgery, and getting glasses to fit your style and face shape can be a real style challenge. It's frustrating that "WNTW" most often deals with this issue by avoiding it completely.

PHOTOS: Kathy, before and after, "What Not to Wear." c2012 TLC.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Unforgettable," "Rob," "A Gifted Man," "NYC22," and "CSI: Miami" Cancelled

It's tough to be a TV series on CBS these days. The network is so successful that a show with millions of viewers will still get cancelled--as it doesn't have as many millions as the series ranked above it. More importantly, there's the almighty ad demo, and most of these shows unfortunately lost ground on that coveted younger audience as time wore on.

"Unforgettable" fans aren't happy, and they're a pretty sizable bunch, considering the show was averaging about 11 million viewers per week. It's tough enough letting go of a favorite show, but the mystery of Carrie's (Poppy Montgomery) sister's murder will now go unanswered. While I feel for the viewers who enjoyed this drama, the show was lacking some important qualities, which I discuss over on Yahoo!TV: "Should CBS's 'Unforgettable' Be Forgotten?"

My only regret about the loss of the rookie show about rookie cops, "NYC22" is that poor Adam Goldberg just can't seem to catch a break. First there was cancelled series "Relativity" back in '96, which ironically also starred Poppy Montgomery. Then there was short-lived "The $treet" with future movie star Bradley Cooper in 2000, followed by the blink-and-you-miss it comedy "Head Cases" with Chris O'Donnell.

Goldberg also appeared in "Friends" spin-off "Joey," and 2009 series "The Unusuals" with Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner. Goldberg has practically made a career out of quickly-cancelled series. Once again he brought that intriguing blend of dark comedy and pathos to "NYC22," but the show just seemed to be trying way too hard to be "edgy" and "cool" and we literally forgot to watch it after 2 episodes. The Sunday night timeslot couldn't have helped its viewing numbers, either. Plus we want to smack the person who thought Leelee Sobieski made a believable policewoman.

"A Gifted Man" never quite gelled with audiences either--it was an odd premise that wasn't executed very well. "Rob" actually had decent numbers, but since it lost a lot of its "Big Bang Theory" lead-in, CBS will be looking for something better. And I think we can all agree that "CSI:Miami" has had a good run. Eventually three versions of the same show gets to be too much for any network (see "Law & Order").

PHOTO: "Unforgettable" finale screencap, c2012 CBS.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Think I Am a 'Smash' Convert

As you may recall, I was a bit perplexed by all the critics showering "Smash" with praise when it first premiered. Since the writers were looking at multiple episodes of the new series, I gave them the benefit of the doubt that the show would improve. It has. Oddly, it still maintains some of the same flaws it had at its inception, but it's reeled me in with its soap-y, sing-y charms.

Anjelica Huston and Jack Davenport are still the highlights of the series, particularly since both characters have been given more material to work with as the show progresses. Davenport's sleazy director character Derek is less of a well-worn caricature now. I really like that despite the whole casting-couch storyline and badass womanizer vibe, we get to see how Derek absolutely cares about the work. He's creative, passionate, and works hard on his vision while dealing with a whole lot of temperamental artistic types.

I said on Twitter last night that Huston elevates every scene she's in. Your eye just goes right to her, with that trademark severe bob and red-lipped Mona Lisa smile. She's got gravitas, but with a wicked little glnt in her eye. I like that we got to meet Eileen's granola-Greenpeace daughter, who chastised her mom for getting a bit too ruthless in her quest for Broadway success. I also treasure that she's got a hunky bartender boyfriend with a shady past who is both exciting and also a surprising source of capital for Eileen's Marilyn venture.

I still want to enjoy the writing duo of Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom (Christian Borle), but I'm not sure how I feel about their romantic subplots. Maybe it's a theme they're working with, but "Smash" is awfully heavy on love triangle/cheater storylines. Nearly every character seems to be involved in one, which gets a bit ridiculous after awhile.

After the debacle of the adoption storyline, "Smash" writers took an even more insane route by having Julia engage in an affair with a former lover. This seems completely implausible. It also sets up even more scenes where her teenage son acts like a punk and disrespects her at every turn. Oh joy.

The only way this sort of character development will work for me is if she realizes it was all a sham and moves on as a divorced woman. Otherwise, "Smash" is trying to convince me that a woman who cheated on her husband twice with the same guy--in what sounds like a long-term affair on the first go-around--is still this happy housewife who wants to stall her career in order to adopt a baby? Not gonna believe it. If she's a flawed woman who was trying to talk herself into the idea of being in a "perfect marriage," then I could understand some of the stuff that hasn't felt right since the pilot.

Aside from the overabundance of love messes, "Smash" is captivating with its insider look at trying to get a musical off the ground. I knew that productions don't just appear out of thin air, but to see the extent of work, reworking, tryouts, workshops, meetings, planning, blocking, more tryouts, more workshops, more political machinations--it's all so fascinating. This is the really good stuff on "Smash," the meat of the show.

"Smash" has also done a great job of dragging out the competition between Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katharine McPhee). There's so much drama as the girls edge each other out at various times, for different roles/favoritism/tryouts, and then both get thrown over on "Bombshell" for a "star." It definitely shows how mentally tough you've got to be to make a living in the creative arts.

Empathy for the aspiring leading ladies, as well as all the players trying to get their own dreams realized, is a great draw for the show. It give you something to believe in, to hope for. We want to see the day when that Marilyn musical is finally realized, and we have no idea who's going to be in it or what exactly it's going to look like when all is said and done. That's good drama.

All I ask is that you send Julia's son off to college. Please.

Check out: Why Are Critics Raving Over Weak 'Smash' Pilot?

PHOTOS: "Smash" screencaps, c2012 NBC.


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