General Recaps

Pretty Little Liars– This has definitely taken the spot of show of the summer. It’s one of those oddly addictive shows where you can’t help but keep watching. A part of me was really into it, wanting to know who A was (we never actually saw Allison’s body, so there’s every possibility A is her) and the other part was frustrated. For one thing, the show was suffering from the “awful main character” syndrome that seems to be an issue with a number of ABC Family show–Amy of Secret Life, Emily of MIOBI. I find Aria’s entire story utterly uninteresting. Her parents are going through a pretty awful divorce and all she can think about and be upset about is the teacher she’s obsessed with. The other big issue I had is the fact that the actresses are fairly awful. But I do like Hannah and to a slightly lesser extent Emily and the tension building from episode to episode was well done, even if not every individual plot line was.

Huge– I might only like this because I like Nikki Blonsky, but I’ve enjoyed this show (and I think Blonsky will be singing this week!!!). Not the best show of summer, but not bad either. I particularly like the most recent bit of information about Will’s past, though the one character I’d really like to see more about is Shay. We’ve only learned a little about her and she’s such a crazy character that I want to know more about where she’s coming from.

Melissa and Joey– Entertainment Weekly summed this show up perfectly. It’s like being in an episode of “I Love The Nineties.” The show is completely formulaic and not particularly surprising or funny. ABC Family doesn’t seem to do half hour comedies well and this show surprised me considering how well their one hour teen dramas are doing. It just didn’t seem to fit. My friend says they’re trying to capitalize on the people who liked the movie Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence starred in and also perhaps target the nostalgic twenty-somethings who watch the channel and then pretend not to. I get the strategy, but the show just doesn’t cut it.

Royal Pains– This show has sort of hit a plateau, which isn’t to say it’s bad, but only to say it hasn’t gotten any better. I’ll be honest and say that I like Dr. Emily Peck as well as Paige, though both characters interrupt the main character romances that were set up in season one (you know, the will they won’t they that was Ross and Rachel but is now Hank and Jill, Divya and Evan). I like how Evan’s growing up somewhat and I find Hank to be a little too perfect. I’d like to see more facets of his personality beyond “hi, I’m perfect.”

Covert Affairs– It’s like Alias without the mythology stuff (thankfully, because despite my like for Lost and its mythology, the Alias stuff just didn’t stick for me). I kind of like it, though I am hoping for the show to step back for the formulaic stuff and look more at the bigger story (specifically, Annie’s love interest). Other things I’d like to see: Auggie’s action days (the recent episode with the girl he liked was pretty great), a female for Perabo to play off of (maybe a rival spy), more about Annie’s family, and more depth into the characters.

Drop Dead Diva– This show continues to surprise me. How many different story lines can you come up with about a dead person who is living in someone else’s body? It turns out, a lot of them. It may not be the best quality show out there, but it continue to churn out interesting, albeit preposterous, episodes. (Maybe a bit more insight into characters like Kim and Fred would be nice.)

Project Runway– This is quite the season. I’m not sure if or how the extended format affects things or even helps things, but I’m not complaining either. This season is a pretty good one. I think there are a few really talented designers, though there are others that are just ridiculous (the diaper shorts?). The first episode was ridiculous with its “you’re not on the show yet” challenge. Why was everyone freaking out? Are you on camera? Are you competing in a challenge? Then by definition, you are on the show. The benefit is in theory, the girl who got kicked off in that first episode should be able to tryout for the show again. What I greatly enjoyed though did not necessarily agree with, was Tim’s dressing down of Gretchen this week. Sure, she’s arrogant and hot headed, but to say that she bullied them into listening to her was unfair and from what we saw, untrue. She didn’t force anyone to do anything. We didn’t even see much arguing. And now, the cast that already hates her is bound to turn mean. And yeah, she’s pretty full of herself but her record did (at the time) kind of give her a right to be.

Weeds– Well, this show just continues to take strange turns. I know the writers think it’s a great idea to ditch everything and start over, but I miss the dynamic of the original seasons and the rest of the cast beyond the Botwins. And the whole mallet murder…yeah, I don’t even know what to do with that. Still enjoyable but perhaps straying father than I would like?

Leverage– This past week’s episode really showed off just how excellent the writing talent on this show is. Basically, we see the tale of how a specific dagger was “stolen” through the eyes of each of the characters before they had met and worked together. The brilliance of this was showing how each person’s memory was the same, but different. Little details, accents, etc all highlighted the individual characters, their abilities, and the overall dynamics. Even though they’ve turned to good, they still take pride in their abilities and their pasts. I for one would love to keep learning more about them. Though I don’t think they can quite utilize this specific format again (what are the odds that they all foiled each other on another heist?), I hope they find a way to use a variation of it. At the same time, I love how we’ve seen a number of episodes that highlight particular characters. Always strongest for me are the ones about Parker (since they’re the only ones, besides Nathan, where we delve into the characters’ pasts as well as their psyches), which we’ve had a few of lately. I hope to learn more about all of the characters. I will say that I miss Jeri Ryan on the show, not that I want her to replace Sophie, but maybe as an occasional guest spot or addition.

So You Think You Can Dance– Did you see it coming? Lauren Froderman beating out Kent Boyd? There’s only one reason this did not surprise me. My friend has a theory that the contestant who is set up as the clear winner from the beginning (of any reality show, not just SYTYCD) is virtually never the actual winner of the show. Perhaps the audience doesn’t like being forced into a decision or the contestant gets to cocky or just doesn’t show growth because they are already so strong, but for whatever reason, it seems to be true. (I can’t think of examples off the top of my head right now, but I’ll come back with them.) I for one am glad because Kent couldn’t seem to manage the few things the judges asked of him in terms of improvements whereas Lauren seemed to get better by the week without ever really misstepping.

Psych– I’m noticing one particular thing missing for me this season. Specifically, that is the heart of the show. Where are the emotional aspects? What happened to the will they won’t they dynamic of Juliette and Shawn for example? Can we learn more about Spencer’s mom or maybe Juliette and Lassiter’s pasts? It’s still entertaining but it’s not quite as solid as it used to be.

Rachel Zoe Project– What is with the obsession over Taylor? Whether or not she actually stole some clothes (which really just doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons), get over her. It’s like not a moment can go by without them mentioning her and usually bashing her. Yeah, she was a whiner, but are you really pretending she didn’t ever do any work? I’m not even sure why I enjoy the show but I do and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Ashley. The truth is, even without Taylor, there is still chaos, but it does seem to be more outer office chaos rather than internal (but then again, Rachel is healthy, which is a change, and she is not putting an employee in the unfair and awkward position of choosing who gets to go on a trip).

Rookie Blue– Another actress I’m enjoying these days is Missy Peregrym. I like that her face is actually expressive. You don’t need the camera to zoom in as close as possible in order to get a sense of how her character is feeling. Not every plot is excellent, but a lot of them are. It would be nice to get to know more about Gail because right now she’s ridiculous and I would love to know more about each of their pasts. I like watching the rookies blunder, I like things about training and learning. If anything, I’d like some flashbacks of them actually training.

Burn Notice– Aside from not believing that Fiona and Michael are as attractive as they’re meant to be, I’m not enjoying this show as much as I did in previous seasons. I think the main reason is that it feels like the same arguments are rehashed every episode and the emotional element that I mentioned was missing in Psych is also lacking in this one. I hope it gets better, because this new story with Jessie finally knowing the truth could be interesting.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager– Do you think Adrian is going to have a miscarriage? That’s the only other storyline that I think could be really interesting since they’ve lost the opportunity to do the abortion plot (not that I’m surprised). All the other storylines, meh. I’m glad to see a little less whining from Amy though.

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Large-Scale Review

Heroes– So the current season’s part two is now in swing and what do we think about it? Not a fan of this whole Claire as a lesbian thing. As I’ve said before, I don’t mind people being gay, I mind when shows make someone gay just for the sake of having a storyline. If a character is gay they should actually be gay, not just a sudden “new thing” to try out. I think the story about Hiro being slightly out of his mind was pretty funny. I’m frustrated by the Sylar storyline because he had the opportunity to find love and be with someone with Elle and then he just killed her, so it feels like this storyline has been done and over again. And the Samuel in love thing was forced. Crazy stalker!

Castle– This was a great episode, dealing with Beckett’s mom’s murder but leaving it open-ended so that we know there’s more mystery to come. Not much else to say since the show isn’t super deep or anything but though Beckett is slightly funny looking, they’re dynamic works so well. (I love Nathan Fillion!)

White Collar– I’m not sure how I feel about this newest Kate bit since it feels like such a build up for such a let down. But I get the sense that there’s more coming with that and maybe what they have us thinking about Kate now isn’t the entire truth.

Human Target– Having watched two episodes now, I am no more pleased than I was with the first episode. There just isn’t enough personality and heart in the show to make me care. (I will say that I have this suspicion that the bad guy–girl–of this last episode may not be as dead as she seems. What are the odds that she had a parachute under that jacket?)

Friday Night Lights– I don’t think this season is as good as the previous ones. The newer characters are not very interesting and Julie, as the only real carrying over high school student, remains as dull as ever. And now the racial tension stuff feels a little over the top.

Burn Notice– I’m thrilled that Fiona is still there (not that I ever expected otherwise). I felt so bad for his mom in this episode and she made some good points. How do you decide whose life you can ruin?

Bones– I didn’t like the part about Booth’s obsession about it not being JFK though I understand the reasoning, it’s naive of him to think that the US has no secrets. Not that I’m paranoid like Hodgins but I’m sure there are some things they don’t want us to know or that they keep secret for reasons of security. But it was sweet of Bones to lie (even if it isn’t logical).

Grey’s Anatomy– So…welcome back Izzy. I’m kind of proud of Alex and a little irritated at Mark for being angry at Lexi. Arizona and Calley are super-cute and even though making her gay was also a little forced, they’re a cute enough couple to make up for it.

Private Practice– Wooahh Naomi. That’s all I can really say.

Vampire Diaries– I’m not sure how I feel about this newest episode. Elena was still a whiny baby, not that I was expecting much more. Stefan was still dark and broody (though interesting to see his history with Bonnie’s family). I’m kind of glad Damon got beaten up. Sad about Gina Torres though.

Project Runway– This season is definitely proving better (and more talent-filled) than last’s. I don’t understand how Ping is still in the competition but maybe the producers told the judges to keep her as long as possible for entertainment’s sake? I guess I’m okay with that for now, as long as someone truly awesome doesn’t get booted in her place.

Legend of the Seeker– Another good episode this week. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Sister Nikki taking all of his powers since that cuts out a large portion of the book (either they’ve completely changed everything about the rest of the book series or Richard needs to get his magic back which may mean that Nikki dies). I guess they decided they had to make the han-acquirement more TV friendly because it is WAAAY more gruesome in the book, but I understand, it is syndicated TV. Don’t love Leo but I do like Cara’s interaction with him so good and bad for the new seeker. And if they are returned to Richard then what? My final question: if prophecies just appear on the walls does that mean we won’t be seeing Nathan Rahl ever? That would be a shame.

Burn Notice: Long Way Back

Recap: Thanks to Strickler, there’s been movement on Michael’s burn notice. Fiona decides she can’t stay in Miami.

Fi enters Michael’s place. He’s looking at some pictures of Fiona. He brings up the moving. She says she’s going home (to Ireland). If he didn’t see this coming he hasn’t been paying attention. He’s too busy with himself to have time for a relationship between them. He says he’s doing this because the longer he waits the more danger everyone around him is in. She says he shouldn’t pretend this isn’t about everyone else, it’s about him.

Michael meets his agency contact. His file just landed on the deputy director’s desk. His contact is the liaison, he’s not doing the review. He dislikes Weston and hopes he’ll be permanently dismissed. But he does tell him to stay out of trouble.

Michael gets home to find Fiona pointing a gun at him. Realizing it’s him she puts it down and Fi introduces her brother. (He has to resume the cover id he was using when he last met Sean.) It turns out someone wants to kill Fi. She seems to lack suitable arms. Before she can even make the call “bloodthirsty hooligans” show up. Her brother wants to fight (surprise them with the numbers) but Michael insists they leave. Her brother recklessly shoots someone, giving away their position. (Fiona’s been keeping it a secret that Michael’s Irish because her family would be upset to find out that she’s working with an American spy.)

They go to Sam and Sean starts questioning him. The reason this guy is after her is that she was searching for her younger sister’s killers. O’Neil told her about a bombing he was going to do and she stopped the attack. Michael tells Sean and Fiona to stay put because they’re daces are known. Fiona says she’s not one of his clients so of course, the subtitle given to her is “the client.”

Michael meets Strickler and they discuss what they’re going to do. Strickler says the truth needs proper handling. He can’t just say whatever he wants, he will give him a particular “side of the story.”

There’s apparently very little on O’Neil. He has a big crew reputation but he’s freelancing. They’re at his mom’s house and a knock at the door reveals a real estate agent. His mom is selling the house! It seems everyone is making big changes.

They case a house just bought by one of O’Neil’s associates. He spots O’Neil and then sees that Fi is following him and O’Neil knows it. She thinks he’s alone. But when Sam tries to call, she doesn’t pick up. So Michael sends Sam’s girlfriend’s car off the roof of the parking garage to distract them. She gets away.

Michael yells at them. They admit that they screwed up. Michael says he’ll approach O’Neil undercover, as an American. He shows his American accent and Fiona’s brother thinks it’s a bit “dodgy.”

Michael sits down with O’Neil and plays a tape of Fi and Sean talking to say he could help find Fiona. He says he wants to have O’Neil do what he’s hired Fi to do once he kills her.

Strickler shows up at Michael’s with a script of what he does. There are lies. Michael says no. Strickler says this is about getting his job back no matter how. Michael then gets a call from Strickler saying he’s changed his mind.

Sean thanks Michael for being an honest man who is protecting his sister. He can’t lose another sister. When they meet O’Neil, the man tries to force Michael to tell him but Michael is prepared. Fi, Sean, and Sam are hidden and train lasers on O’Neil. Sean wants to take O’Neil out then but Fiona begs him not to because it’s too dangerous.

It turns out O’Neil wants to bring Fi back to Ireland where all her old enemies want to bid on her. She would raise his profile.

If you can replicate someone’s signature bomb you can make it look like they’ve been somewhere they weren’t. So they recreate O’Neil’s favorite bomb.

Michael talks to his mother, he’s clearly angry about her moving even though he hated the house. She saved a box of stuff for him that he agrees to go through. (It’s a cute but unnecessary moment.)

They talk about Fi going home. She’s nothing like the person she was when she left home. Her friends and family don’t know her. Before they can do anything Fiona is kidnapped. Michael isn’t killed (he’s told his has some high friends). Sean is bleeding out but doesn’t want to go to the cops because it would make it harder to find Fi. Michael realizes Strickler has some connections and goes to demand he tell him where Fiona was. Strickler says he helped him by saving him. (He got rid of Fiona because her reputation was hurting him in getting back.) Michael refuses to give up on Fiona and shoots Strickler. Sean is finally stable.

They go to the docks where Fi is being held. Inside O’Neil taunts Fiona while she is tied to a chair. She knows he’s auctioning her.

Sam says he’s freeing Fiona no matter what happens. Then they attack. He holds Fi to get her to the boat but she head butts him and dives into the water. O’Neil tries to follow her but his men insist he has to get to the boat. Which is just where Michael wanted. They call the coast guard to inform them that men with guns just got onto a boat.

Fiona’s in the water not moving and Michael pulls her out. She’s okay, just a bad wound on her arm.

At home, Maddie tells Michael she took the house off the market. Michael is clearly not ready to say goodbye. He hides his friends and clients.

Sean overhears Michael’s real name and says he always thought Michael was “one of them” and he knows he’s right. Michael was outed as an American, meaning he can’t return to Ireland and neither can Fi.

Michael gets a panicked call from his agency contact. the man is freaking out because now that Strickler’s dead someone has come to town to clean up the mess of all the things Strickler was involved in. Someone is following him. They’re not safe, they need to meet.

Michael goes but his contact is dead by the time he gets there.

“It’s not the enemy you see that gets you, it’s the one you don’t.” Michael is in trouble but he doesn’t even know from who…

Seriously, these story lines are run through so quickly on this show…

Previous Episode

Burn Notice Friends Like These

A piece of advice from Michael about cons–it’s the little things like batteries that will save your life, not the big guns.

Fiona doesn’t like that Michael is going along with Strickler, but Michael sees it as his only way back in. Strickler says that he knows Michael isn’t comfortable but so long as he does the job, he promises that Michael will get his job back.

Heist are like parties, the worst part is cleaning up. Close up on the cleaner, who cleans up by blowing the building from a place that they’ve just awtched being robbed. He wants Michael to find out who the buyer is for the stolen items. Sam is preparing for a date, but he had time to look up the license plate. With the necessary information, they narrow down the location where the cleaner must be staying (specifically at a place that doesn’t ask for ID) which is across the street from an old age home. Sam has an idea about how best to set up surveillance: with an inside man. But the only person who will fit in at a place like that is…Michael’s mom (who has apparently been out of sorts since the roof started leaking, she thinks it’s because of the time Sam blew up the house, Fi’s helping clea up). His mother agrees to the con. Fi disapproves.

Barry calls Michael. He wants to call in some favors and he wants Fiona’s help as well. Someone stole his client list and accounts. The thief wants $5 million or he will sell the ledger. He kept it in a locker with his girlfriend’s will and papers. Michael concludes that Amy, the girlfriend, put a tracker on the paper, and that’s how they find it.

Field ops range from 22-55 so people don’t pay attention to older people. Sam reminds her to keep a low profile. So she of course gets Bingo.

They go to Amy’s house and discover that she’s never left town. Fiona breaks in but someone has already been there. Amy, Barry’s “Special Lady” comes out and tells them they are trespassing. She tries to hit Fi, who punches her. Fi explains that Amy will be killed to cover the tracks. Amy doesn’t believe her so Fi demonstrates by throwing a brick in the car to show that it will explode. Amy reveals that she was bribed with $100,000.

Michael and Sam break into a pre-furnished house and search. Once you’ve checked all the usual places a pro would use, you need to give up or break the walls. Fi lets them know they have company but they realize that if they leave Sam’s ledger will disappear so they decide to point a gun at the guy instead. He walks in, tries to fight Michael off, so Michael knocks him unconscious. They kidnap him as a solution. Barry wants them to torture the guy but they conclude that torture will only get the first lie. They tell Barry to avoid his clients while they work to get the information out of him. Michael needs to ask Sam for the vila he was going to use for his date.

His mom calls to tell Michael that the cleaner showed up. Fi sets up a tail while Michael goes to help Sam with their hostages. 9 kinds of rum, Sam is upset, he doesn’t get to drink it with the date. They keep the man and his girlfriend separate.

Sam sits with the girlfriend and laughs while reading the paper. She gives him the silent treatment for a few minutes and then breaks to ask what they want. Her name is Natalie and she doesn’t know anything, she just wants to protect her son. She starts crying that he’s going to kill her.

Michael goes downstairs where he sees that the guy is the type to shutdown when confronted so you have to avoid confrontation. Michael brings him a cigarette, apologizes, talks about a friendship. If the guy tells him where the ledger is he’ll go free, if not, well. If he doesn’t show for the sale…the money will disappear. When the guy doesn’t crack, Michael leaves to plan.

Fi followed the cleaner to a park where she thinks the deal is going down. Michael thanks Fi and she tells him to stop it.

Michael sends Fi in to talk to Natalie to give a softer approach. Fi states exactly what we’re thinking: Fi softer? Fi needs to become a friend. She reveals that she’s been letting people uses the places she works as a real estate agent for off the books to make some extra money. The guy came, threatened her and her son, and has been using her for real estate and rape. Fi says she wants to take him down. There was a condo that he looked at more than once. Michael and Fi go check it out and find a safe in a fireplace. Cracking the safe the wrong way will burn everything inside, done right and it will freeze everything.

Sam goes down to interrogate the guy again, now with the knowledge that his name is Milo. Again with the cigarette. The guy doesn’t seem to be cracking and then makes an escape attempt, only Sam let him get ahold of a fake gun. They just need to find the last guy.

They look at the park to plan. Fi talks to Strickler with dislike and Michael tells her to chill.

Fi tells Natalie she will see her son again if she helps. Barry has tracked down a general area where Milo’s partner is. Natalie showed him a place in the area and then Fi tells her to call her son to talk to him.

Michael and Sam show up, pretending to be part of the operation (since no one knows each other this works). The guy however is not a fool and shoots at them, but they heard the click of the gun so they hid. He had instructions to kill anyone who entered the site. The deal is set for 5. The guy reveals that it is actually Natalie who is lying. Milo is really the guy whose kids have been taken hostage. Michael and Sam rush to reach her, trying to call her on the phone, but she doesn’t hear it. Natalie asks Fi to take the cuffs of because she has to pee. Fi agrees but the keys are missing so she goes to look for something to pick the lock. Michael comes in and slaps Fi across the face to pretend he’s angry but then explains to her that Natalie is really the mastermind.

Sam explains to Milo the fake murder plan. He should keep screaming once they remove the tape until they shoot and then he can’t make a sound. Fi comes in and “helps” Natalie escape. All goes as planned. They get Barry to tell them where to go so that they can set up the tail so that she won’t notice it. With 3 cars following, they can take turns staying behind her and not be noticed. They can also pretend to pass her and really remain with her. 30 minutes later and nothing has happened, until they see a guy who has come around three times on a bike. He drops something that Natalie picks up. They exchanged keys. He’s openingĀ  a locker, he has the ledger now. Fi follows Natalie while Michael follows the buyer. Natalie uses a group of children passing by to escape, knowing Fiona won’t shoot.

Barry has the ledger back. He’s thrilled and his mom comes up with a good aliby as to why he hasn’t been talking to his clients. He has been cleansing in a clinic that doesn’t allow electronics.

Time to finish up Strickler’s con. Fi comes in and says she can’t help him, she doesn’t want to work with Strickler. Working with someone like him will change Michael and she doesn’t want that. She tells him to do what he has to do, she just can’t stay in Miami and watch.

Working with a friend you trust is the best thing, but losing that partner to politics and personal issues is sad so you have to lock them away. Michael succeeds in getting the pictures Strickler wants, though Strickler won’t tell him what he needs to know. Michael gets a call from an intelligence contact who will be in touch to set up a meeting.

Strickler tells him this is just the beginning.

Next Episode

Burn Notice

There are too many episodes to go through each one of the Burn Notice, so I’m not going to bother trying to catch up.

Instead I’ll give you my general thoughts:

Burn Notice is typically very witty (I particularly like the parts like you could by product X for $200,000 or you could get some tape and a pencil for $2.00) and it has managed to keep you guessing after two seasons, which is nice and not as easy to find as one would hope.

All the characters are sarcastic and some of the lines are bad, but its usually due to a corny bad guy trying to be cool rather than an expectation that people really say things like that. “What’s a little girl doing in this big bad place…”

I like that Michael’s not infallible, he’s not superman. He’s good enough at what he does that everyone has heard about him and wants his help) but he gets caught and is at other people’s mercy enough that you feel like he could be real. But he’s definitely the kind of resourceful everyone wishes they could be.

I love his mother, Maddie, who goes from kooky to clever. She manages to extract the information Fi and Sam can’t decide how to get, doesn’t let them fool her when they pretend Michael is fine, manages to bring the family together. I think if she was in more of the show she would get annoying, but as it is we’ve got a good balance.

A clever aspect of the show is the way they label people as we meet them. Like in this week’s episode, when Michael meets Strickler he is labeled “Agent to Spies.” Do spies have agents? Often the actual label isn’t clever, which, for me at least, is part of the fun. This is such a small detail, that could easily have not been put in the show, but adding it just adds something.

Though, I don’t think Michael or Fiona are attractive in the slightest. Fiona looks like she’s never been out of the sun and Michael has a funny, pucker face. It wouldn’t bother me so much except they constantly have people react to Fiona as though she’s the most attractive woman in the world and well, she’s not.

The show does have some of those “story lines are too rushed” moments. (Like why not keep the detective around for longer. Could have had Fi be jealous or something. And he made friends with his rival way too quickly.)

All in all, I recommend the show. It has a “How to be a Spy” Handbook feel (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be a spy?) and manages to do things like tell you what is about to happen without ruining the moment.

(Click here for episode summaries.)

Own Burn Notice Today: Burn Notice: Seasons 1-2