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Monday, April 18, 2016

Thomas Crown? No? But I Like The Pierce Brosnan Remake. Three Week Roundup Review: The Catch #TheCatch #ABC #Shondaland #3weekroundup

Thomas Crown? No? But I Like The Pierce Brosnan Remake. Three Week Roundup Review: The Catch #TheCatch #ABC #Shondaland #3weekroundup

All pictures courtesy of ABC unless otherwise noted 

It's that time once again. Finally, after purging myself of most of the postmortem season reviews for the mid-season replacement shows I watched, I can get back to doing some other posts. A potato planting post is coming soon for those of you who are following my gardening advice. Also, there should be a supplies post for stuff you might want to get before the season kicks into gear. But for now, we've got a few new very late season additions, including ABC's new The Catch (#TheCatch). Remember, Scandal also premiered very late in the season. Does Shonda keep a steady track record of late premieres turned potential phenomenon or is The Catch a dud similar to Off The Map? Let's find out together.

Redhead Alert! 
The Catch centers around Alice Vaughan played by the always lovely Mireille Enos of The Killing fame. The head of her own private investigation firm, she specializes in protection and fraud investigation rather than the run-of-the-mill cheating spouse cases. For those not in the know, private investigators often do a lot more than follow people; in fact, many rich and famous persons hire firms to do thorough background checks on new contacts. Many political candidates keep high-class PI firms on retainer as a rule to help them vet potential "friends and donors." Alice runs a firm of that caliber based in LA. Shonda has a knack for basing her shows in big cities ripe for scandal and high-class intrigue. Rarely, however, has she tackled what some refer to as "The Two Bigs," New York and Los Angeles. Seeing as how it is the land of the rich and famous, this opens the door for potentially huge guest stars if the creator and showrunners ever decide to take the show that way.

Alice, as the lead investigator and head of the company is at the top of her game as shown in the opening moments of the series premiere. Thinking she's an art gallery worker, one of the partiers at the gallery opening speaks/flirts with her about a painting upon which the show is partially based. In this famous painting a woman is shown being taken in rapture by a lover whose face is turned away from the viewers' gaze as he buries himself within her neck. The sadness of the painting is that the woman doesn't appear too taken by her lover's passion, instead giving back a sad, almost depressed look as she cradles the nape of his neck. The man explains to Alice that he believes the woman is saddened not because she doesn't enjoy her lover but because she knows and realizes that love is the greatest con of all, a cheap parlor trick that lasts but a vapors stay (ooo! I went all fancy with it. Yeah, remember I am still an actual writer. I'm capable of more than just this silly blog). Before ever celebrating the capture of such euphoric feelings she mourns the loss of them, not to protect herself from ever falling in love again, but to remind herself never to take it for granted. This may seem off-topic but it plays heavily into the thrust of the show.

This photo was taken off someone's twitter feed and is the painting in question. 

When Alice tells him that what they're viewing in the gallery is a fake and takes him back to the real one locked in the back, she lets him slip off her security badge to go steal the painting. A thief, the man cuts the real painting from the canvas, rolls it and stuffs it into his jacket. The plan all along, Alice, her team and the cops catch him outside red-handed on the red carpet as she throws him down to the ground and cuffs him (note: PIs are not allowed to arrest people).

Her show-'em-you-a-badass moment nailed, in the very next scene we are inundated with talk of her forthcoming nuptials and her black business partner Valerie Anderson. In a few months Alice is set to marry one of the most charming men she's ever met. Loyal, honest and a business owner, her man understands her and fully understands her disdain for all things traditional wedding, but it is the jaded, soon-to-be-divorced Anderson who pushes her to do things the traditional way: the cake, the gown, the big show of affection.

From Left to Right: Alice, Valerie, Danny, Sophie
Rounding out her personal team is Danny Yoon her personal assistant and constant law breaker who only does bad things for good reasons and with his boss' blessing. She also has a new add to her team in Sophie Novak a lawyer with a myriad of specialties that will be revealed throughout the series just as her background in computer hacking was in the second episode. Essentially she is like the Huck to Alice's Olivia to put it in Scandal terms (though I doubt she goes as far as to kill). They assist her with anything and everything and aren't tethered to a desk as Alice works to prevent her clients from being conned. While they work their normal routine cases, forever seeking to expand their client base, the one gotcha case that keeps coming back resurfaces with yet another game.

Technically, the gotcha case isn't just a case but a person, someone very skilled and crafty in the game of sabotage, thievery and manipulation. A master con-artist, the person sends them a message nearly each time they get ready to make a big move. In the form of a riddle or clue, one would suspect him of being The Riddler--where the hell is Batman when you need him? Oh right, trying to kill Superman. I forgot. Anyway, not only have Alice and her team never captured this person but they've never actually seen him and don't know what he looks like. Still, they've chased him on multiple big jobs for months, dating back to before Alice hired Sophie.

With yet another big client now as the target of this hidden antagonist, Alice and her team try to thwart an exchange of confidential company data for a large firm that caters to rich clientele and manages their financials. If Mr. X gets access to it, he gets access to wealth in access of 100 million dollars.

Much to the chagrin of Alice and her team, the exchange goes smoothly as the man comes, makes a quick distraction, subverts the attention of the mark's shadow and uses a child to deliver payment for the small USB. To taunt Alice, we see the man in question pass right by her back as she searches the outdoor plaza for who could have committed such a skillful deception.

Irked by the man's escape, she finally returns home to her fiance. As it should come to no surprise to you now (it was the selling point in the advertisements) the secret Mr. X she's been chasing for the last few months is none other than her fiance, currently operating under the name Christopher Hall. Played by Peter Krause of Six Feet Under and Parenthood fame, Chris has been long-conning her for over a year. Yes, the con is on Alice, as opposed to him having simply fallen in love with her on his own. His angle: work her for not just her money (of which she has over a million dollars personally) but access to her client list and influence on suspicion. The closer he is the less faults she can see. Unfortunately after taking her money and getting the jumpdrive, he is told that the job has finally ended.

The person to who he reports is Margot Bishop, another member of his three-person con ring and lover. They go back years into their youth when they hustled pocket change and wallets from purses and pockets. Far more upscale now, they deal in the millions. Reginald Lennox rounds out their team. Yes, he's the bald black guy. He's also the muscle and the cleaner, both literally and metaphorically. After Margot tells Peter that the con must end immediately, like tonight, she orders that he break it off with Alice and has already tasked Reginald with cleaning after Peter leaves, and boy is he thorough.

Awaking to his fiance, Christopher gets dressed and stares at her until she comes to. His thoughts on more than just the con, he shows an inkling of true love. For but a moment it is he who plays the role of the woman in the painting, both satisfied with his great con and unwilling to see it end. A proposition, he asks her to run away with him now, get married, leave her business behind and never come back. They'll start a new life somewhere. Impulsive and crazy, she thinks it sweet and nearly falls for it but decides that she must at the very least capture this taunting figure who has screwed over her clients and team. And as they depart so ends their relationship even though Alice doesn't know it.

When she gets to the office, she stresses over the proposal, letting it slip that he asked her to leave everything because he wanted her. Even knowing what it meant for them, her girlfriends/workers tell her to go get her man. She leaves only to find that she can't contact him on the phone, is unable to leave him a message, his car at work is still there, but his personal business she stood in a mere day prior is nothing more than an empty space ready for rent. At home she finds that Reginald has cleaned the place from top to bottom. Not only are his clothes and personal effects gone, but there are no pictures, no fingerprints, no hairs, no DNA of any kind, he probably doesn't even have a half-empty shampoo bottle left for her to use. It is as if he never existed, precisely what Margot wants. Alice's thoughts: Oh my god, he conned me... and I gave him all of my money!

And so begins the game of cat and canary (you thought I was gonna say mouse, didn't you? Funny enough, I think one of the working titles for the series was Cat and Mouse). Out for revenge and professional street cred, Alice pursues her ex-fiance in hopes of doling out his comeuppance. She's been led astray the entire time, from his fake name to his fake reason for meeting her. His real name is Benjamin Jones and he didn't meet with her and Valerie to vet their company on whether he should use them for his investigative needs, the con was always on her. Why it took a year to get some names, or why he slid so deeply into her and her life (ha! Sorry, I should keep this blog PG-13 at the least) is a mystery unto both Alice and the audience set to unfold over the remainder of the season. One thing was for sure though, not only does she feel hurt and betrayed all classic signs of a love still very much alive, but he has that feeling, too. He still loves her. To prove to her his sincerity (or to brag about his skills, whichever) he goes back and steals the painting from the beginning as he told her once that he'd buy the real thing for her one day--mind you the painting in question is worth millions.

The second episode opens with that very problem: If this is the real painting then how can she return it to the art gallery without looking suspicious and keeping her rep intact amongst her clients. As if this all weren't bad enough, just as she discovers her sweet Christopher Hall is this sleazy Benjamin Jones, an ex-Interpol current FBI agent Jules Dao comes to question her about said man. She's on pins and needles about any new man suddenly coming into her life and telling her stuff, so she doesn't quickly share what she knows, instead pushing forward with her own investigation.

The chase not the only focus of her life, she still has other cases and in the second episode focuses on her own Innocence Project surrounding a young guy accused of killing his much older sugar mama. Having been acquitted of the crime and marrying a journalist who believed in his not guilty verdict, he still wants to clear his name and get the money rightfully owed to him through the old woman's will. Alice thinks the guy did it but because certain evidence wasn't allowed to be viewed by the jury he got off. Needing a win and to make sure her BS tracker isn't still on the fritz, she pursues info to back his guilt.

Unfortunately, she finds evidence to the contrary that points to the woman's disowned son. Her instincts still off she even runs into Benjamin on assignment in his next con. Not to be outwitted again, she allows him to steal something from her that links to the first thing he stole. A jumpdrive (yeah), as soon as he inserts it into the laptop, not only is Sophie able to backdoor hack into his computer but she manages to drain all of the accounts of the money he stole before any of their clients noticed it missing. Out ten million, he, Margot and Reginald must figure out how to come up with the money fast as they have a huge debt to pay off to some not so nice people. They start working on their next con which involves a Middle Eastern princess.

As Ben continues his life of crime, Alice and her team follow-up on the rich woman's son, even finding a cache of jewels and stolen merchandise said to have been taken in a house robbery the night the woman died. The riches found stuffed in her son's favorite canoe he kept at their beach house, she now knows it's the son who does himself no favors by running. Still, her gut says something different leading her back to the woman's house where she finds evidence pinning the young playboy to the crime after all. Double jeopardy in play, she escapes when his journalist wife comes to find them, only to push her husband down the marble stairs, killing him. Her reason: "He would've ruined my reputation. I believed him. I believed him." The symbolism is strong with this one.

I'm Benjamin Christopher Michael. Yeah, Michael
Realizing Christopher/Ben always read through the obits of a particular newspaper to assume his next identity, she puts a specific obit in that matches the back-story he told her to see if he'll bite. In the third episode he does bite, taking the name Michael as he works a con on the princess. The con: Get the princess to use her family's wealth to invest in two massive real estate ventures in downtown LA. The two tallest apartments in LA recently built for grandeur and high-class living, each building is worth 150 million dollars. She can have a place in each for a holding fee of five million. From a female-oppressive country the young woman isn't allowed to control the money herself, instead having a bodyguard who holds her purse strings of the inherited fortune from her recently dead parents split amongst her and her brothers. She relies on him to make the deal for her.

The problem is that while the offers are real, the deal and the hosting of the investors meeting are all fake. Reginald seduces the real estate woman so he and the team can host their own house showing all set up for the princess. Ben brings her to the showing along with her bodyguard where a deal is immediately struck. But at this meeting Ben learns that the bodyguard tells the princess the deal is for eight million each (one in each building). He's skimming a total of six million dollars from the account. Ben convinces his crew that if they out the bodyguard's dishonesty he can slip in and procure an even bigger payoff. As simple as Margot pretending to have been duped as well and letting her purchase amount slip, the princess is convinced and the plan goes off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, Alice moves on to her next case while keeping Ben in her sights. As Valerie's divorce crawls along, her soon-to-be ex comes in with his sister who participated in a faulty clinical trial for new medications for MS. She wants Alice and Valerie to prove that the company administering the test drug lied in their published results that declared no one experienced any side effects so she can sue the company for feeling dizzy, passing out and putting herself in harm's way. Alice risks going to get a drug sample thinking a rival company may have sabotaged it. But when she sneaks in as a test subject, she accidentally gets pumped full of the drug. She rushes out, grabbing a drink of orange juice to replenish her blood sugar, as a trace on the credit cards of the new Benjamin/Michael turned up his location.

Special Agent Dao. I'm French. 
Alice arrives at the location just as the side effects kick in, making her med-drunk as she stumbles through the restaurant. Meanwhile, Ben sits to have dinner with the princess. He slips out for the bathroom and is confronted by the bodyguard who tries to kill him but ends up dead at the hands of Margot. She and Reginald sneak the body out the back as Ben sees Alice at the front. She gives chase but in her state collapses a few times, once into a bloody floor. Receiving info earlier from Agent Dao that Ben killed a woman in cold blood, this only confirms her suspicion. Her side effects also confirm the sabotaged drug trial as she was fine until she drank the belladonna-laced orange juice. The doctor had a wife who also suffered from MS and tried scuttling his own drug trial as a way of earning a do-over so he could re-fabricate the drug.

Unfortunately, Ben got away with the princess who will be leaving LA soon. But in a heart-to-heart phone conversation at episode's end, Ben and Alice talk to each other where he lovingly warns her not to pursue him and she lies in agreement as she plots to follow him to the ends of the earth to capture the one man that fled with her love.

What's my grade? Honestly, it's hard to tell at this point. I haven't been watching it live on Thursdays which can influence my grade, but from what I've seen so far I'll have to give it a B-. Listen, I'd love to rate it higher, but this show feels very much like the other failed Shondaland show from a few years ago, Off The Map--a doctors without borders drama with a Grey's Anatomy tone. It's not as grabbing as How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal and it has more of a Private Practice feel to it, a show which I didn't care for. And I was quite surprised by Shonda's choice for the lead. I know there's other producers/creators of the show, but with her streak of minority casting I fully expected, nay hoped for maybe a Latina or Asian woman in the next lead role. Of course that's just a personal "oh rats!" moment and I am a fan of Mireille Enos; in fact, I think the cast is good and the story also supplies a nice twist. As stated in the title, to me it has a very The Thomas Crown Affair circa-1990s feel to it with the sexy law enforcer chasing after the sexy thief, but I actually don't think it goes far enough in that direction. I can't put my finger on it quite yet but I know that something is missing from this show to push it over the top into greatness. Can't say it's earned it's role as the closer for must see Thursday night TV the way ABC bills its lineup. Maybe it is the cast chemistry as I know that the two leads were both aged up considerably from the pilot.

Should you be watching? Eh, I don't know. This is one of those shows that is so difficult for me to recommend because it doesn't immediately jump out as being for a particular audience. Hate to be repetitive but that problem of it missing something and me being unable to determine what that is, is very rare for me. I'll say sure, see it and judge for yourself. You might enjoy it. It is a fun show that moves quick and gives everyone a side to cheer for but I'm not sure it'll be your new addiction from season to season. So far it has yet to hit that special stride. The Catch airs Thursdays at 10pm eastern on ABC following Scandal.

What do you think? Have you heard of and seen this show? Am I wrong about it being addictive? Is it your new favorite show? What do you like best about it? And if you haven't seen it, do you think you'll tune in for an episode now? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "No, ma'am. I'm agent Carl Hanratty. And your boy, well... he's in trouble."
'What did Frank do?'
"Frank Abagnale Jr.'s been forging checks"
'Oh, well that shouldn't trouble anybody. I'll just write a check to cover his debts. Uh, how much?"
"1.4 million dollars."

P.S. Did I paraphrase that from the movie, you bet? And me having mentioned The Thomas Crown Affair, you thought I was gonna go with a quote from there, didn't you. But no, in honor of Leo Dicaprio's first Oscar win I went with the classic Catch Me If You Can. Fun facts abound here: In the movie Leo played real life conman Frank Abagnale Jr. In it he courts an innocent young woman he cons into believing he's a doctor. The girl is played by Amy Adams, a red head. Mirielle Enos plays a redhead in The Catch. He also had a brief sex scene with a flight attendant played by Ellen Pompeo who happens to star in Shondaland's flagship show Grey's Anatomy. He also starred in the film Django Unchained which featured Kerry Washington, who stars as Olivia Pope in Shondaland's Scandal. Six degrees of idea separation. Yeah. Suck on those lemons for a while.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Oh My God! They Killed Kenny [Insert Female Series Lead's Name] #SleepyHollowFinale #TheBlacklist #Review #Recap #NBC #FOX

Oh My God! They Killed Kenny [Insert Female Series Lead's Name] #SleepyHollowFinale #TheBlacklist #Review #Recap #NBC #FOX

All Blacklist pictures courtesy of NBC unless otherwise noted. 

I want to try making this as short as possible but you all should know how that goes by now. To begin, I don't know how much I'll mention about Sleepy Hollow as I wasn't that thrilled with the season (potential series) finale. I will, however, say that I thought the writers and creators made a very interesting and bold decision. In fact, that seems to be the trend as The Blacklist made the same decision less than a week later. And that decision? Kill off one of the leads.

It's interesting to me how the current in-thing to do on series this season is to either kill off one of the main leads or change the character so radically that they are barely recognizable (cough *Olivia Pope* cough). But I find it even more baffling that the victims have been all women so far. Now I am not usually one to point out sexism, but that, I do believe, screams of sexism.

All Sleepy Hollow pictures courtesy of FOX unless otherwise noted

Let's back up here and recap the two episodes. On Sleepy Hollow (#SleepyHollow) the "witnesses'" three season journey finally came to an end when, in an act of desperation, they managed to free themselves from that strange waylaid void that existed as the once prison for a banished god. But in escaping they came back with Pandora's box intact, which she'd later use against her god/ex-boyfriend. The problem? The box, for whatever reason, required the soul of one of the witnesses.


Yeah. If it felt like a very strange throw-in to the series that's because it was. From what I've read, Nicole Beharie (the actress playing Abbie Mills) wanted to leave the show for whatever reason. Looking at the underside of the business let's remember how rare this is. Usually an actor likes to keep the steady paychecks rolling in, especially if they are the lead of their own show (I'm lookin' at you Grey's Anatomy. You know you should've died with Derek or, hell, even four seasons ago). Not only that but when they do decide to leave a show after being the lead it's usually after they've put quite a few years in; both casts of Friends and Seinfeld shrugged at another season until Seinfeld saw that final season paycheck and the Friends cast somehow negotiated what is still the biggest group contract for a show ever. Not to mention that this is a woman, an actress saying she's done with a network show, let alone a person of color. Literally, it is nearly unheard of, especially since the roles for black women are so few and far between. With that said, she was building an impressive resume before she got the show.

Talking to my Dead Ex-Captain/Sheriff 
But with all of that said I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that Nicole Beharie has built up a very long list of rumors within the industry referring to a very nasty or not-very-good attitude. I wouldn't normally give much credence to such rumors, however, this personality seems to have been confirmed by Beharie in an interview where she mentioned growing up as somewhat of a bully due to her size. She was small but needed to make a point that she wouldn't be picked on, ending up becoming bad herself. I say that to say that maybe the producers wanted her gone for that reason. Remember, this is only speculation.

By now you realize that the box took Abbie's soul, dooming her to death in a twist that came out of left field. As I'm sure many viewers like me thought through the episode, this would be a huge plot for next season. Hell, Crane himself was dead, so was his wife as she was stuck in purgatory for a full season and a half. They killed "Harold" (the Asian guy) and killed Orlando "the Black captain guy" Jones twice... or was it thrice? I don't know. They love killin' Black people on this show. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be visiting Sleepy Hollow anytime soon. I suppose Abbie's just dead dead as opposed to dead but... It should also be noted here that since this is the lowest-rated show on the network, the show itself will probably be dead soon, too. Still, if it manages to come back it will have been a very bold choice for the narrative as it completely changes the show and puts a coffin nail in the "will they/won't they" of Abbie and Ichabod's relationship--a dynamic naturally inherent in this type of show.

While Abbie's death was unpredictable, it came on a dying show that few people watched so maybe the word bold is misplaced and overused in reference to it. However, The Blacklist's (#TheBlacklist) decision to kill off Elizabeth Keen defines the very word.

On Thursday's episode Keen (played by Megan Boone) gave birth to her hurried baby with Tom while on the run from the villain Mr. Solomon. Having escaped the church where she and Tom were supposed to wed, they got into a car chase through the city ending in Tom strategically crashing the car into the back of a truck. A distraction, it supplied a split second for them to escape. Though they made it to a Kangaroo Hospital setup by Red at the last minute where Keen delivered her baby, the crash not only caused secondary internal damage to Keen but only temporarily paused the chase. Mr. Solomon was sent to do one thing: retrieve Keen, and he'd succeed no matter what.

I'm Not As Good At My Job As My Sly Grin Suggests
Well, he failed. In fact, his plans led to the death of Keen. The injury caused by the crash shutdown Keen's internal organs (her lungs) causing the doctor to have to induce a medical coma until they could get to a real hospital. But on their way to the hospital the doctor and Red lost her. She never awoke from the coma and died in the middle of a roadside standoff between Red and Mr. Solomon during the absence of Tom who stayed behind to take care of their newborn baby. And that's all she wrote.

This twist came out of nowhere. The very premise of the show was partially built on the relationship between Keen and James Spader's Red. She's in the synopsis of the show. Not to mention his relationship with her subtracts a huge subplot/mystery of the show as we are left with the question of why he wanted her in the first place. We spent a full season believing he was lying about not being her father, another season thinking he may have killed her father and this season not knowing why he was around if he was never going to reveal his relation to her. Yes, they tried to distract with the plot about the Fulcrum and blah blah blah. That turned out to be a weak overarching plot for the season as it didn't explain why he'd stay around for her after her memories of the Fulcrum could not be recovered.

Lizzie, at this point even I don't know. 
Not only are we left with her death leaving a gaping hole in the show, but we also are left with a very unsatisfying feeling on how she left (if this is the last we see of her). The season seemed more to push her to the side in some instances within the last few episodes, which was probably due to Megan Boone's real life pregnancy. However stripping away her FBI status was something many viewers saw as fixable so long as the writers came up with something great. Now that she's gone, it's difficult to see how the show will maintain its thrust. With his sole reason for turning himself in and working with the FBI now gone, why would he continue?

Behind the scenes, for weeks we've heard talk of a spin-off show, which--pardon me, I meant completely pointless, unnecessary and superfluous spin-off--will be headed by a female lead and focus on Keen's widowed ex-hubby Tom and, presumably, the new baby. While the events of the episode centered around Mr. Solomon will certainly give the two of them real animosity (Solomon is set to be the main villain), it seems like they sold the cow instead of the milk. First off, while I know that Spader was the star and selling point of the show, I thought this show was still female-led with Keen. Are they aiming to have a woman in a Red-esque role? What is the point to spinning off this show in the first place? And was there any conversation about keeping Tom on this show instead of spinning it off? Granted, I don't know much about the show yet as the rumor leak continues, but it sounds like something similar to White Collar or ABC's The Catch, but I'm probably completely wrong on that.

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly 

Back to Keen's death, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the writers struggled to write in Megan's real-life pregnancy. What I wonder is if having her first child made her less inclined to spend hours and hours away from her newborn child. If that is the reason she left, then I can fully understand. But any other reason would seem very arbitrary. Plot-wise, it wouldn't make sense for her to have faked her death and not end up with Tom again if she truly was in love with him and wants to raise her child. This makes it all the more curious on why they'd make this narrative decision. We'll see if the show can recapture the sizzle it once had without her, but from here it looks to be very choppy waters ahead.

What do you think? Do you think Sleepy Hollow will return for another season? What about The Blacklist? Do you think that was a bold decision or a foolish one to get rid of Keen? Or is she really dead? If she isn't dead, who do you think faked her death and why (maybe she did it to get away from Red as opposed to Red doing it)? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "Wait, so you're saying that you faked your death?"
'Yeah! I've done it. I've done it before and I'll do it again.'
"What the hell kinda craziness is that?"
'I try to fake my death at least once every two years. Need to see if the right people gon' show up to my funeral. Plus, it's the best way to get a free meal. I be up in that post-funeral reception.'
"Hell naw!"

P.S. Ok, that isn't technically a quote from anything yet. It's actually from another comedy I'm working on right now, but don't yet have a name for. I don't know if it'll stay in the finished manuscript but we'll see. I'll think of something better next time.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shade And Betrayal Come In All Hues Postmortem Review: Shades Of Blue #ShadesofBlue #NBC #Postmortem

Shade And Betrayal Come In All Hues Postmortem Review: Shades Of Blue #ShadesofBlue #NBC #Postmortem

All pictures courtesy of NBC unless otherwise noted 

It's that time again. Excuse me if I get completely off track as I just finished the American Idol series finale and I am still reeling from the crazy goodness of that extravaganza of talent and ridiculousness. But for those of you who didn't know, Jennifer Lopez had more than just American Idol playing on Thursday nights. In fact, I would argue that her second show occasionally eclipsed the talent show in flat-out entertainment value, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

As mentioned in a previous post but bears mentioning again, I was unable to do my 3 week roundup reviews for the first three episodes of new shows for most of the mid-season replacements. That includes this show which I actually wasn't keen on seeing because it was yet another cop show and I thought it'd be another procedural and I am so tired of the case-of-the-week format that has sustained broadcast TV for so long that I want to smash my head against the wall just thinking about it, but I digress. For one, I need my brain to create stuff and live. For two, these walls I have around here have a very nice paint job and I don't wanna mess them up with a splattering of my brains. So, without further ado of this postmortem review, Shades of Blue, you're on deck.

In this Ryan Seacrest-produced NBC drama, Jennifer Lopez plays a tough New York detective that's not completely law-abiding. As a hint of her dealings, she calls her fellow detective/officers/unit her crew instead of the aforementioned police lingo. Fast and Furious has a crew. Ocean's Eleven has a crew. Police... should not be a crew, but as we learn, these cops are dirtier than Linus' blanket.

Heading this crew is her captain played by veteran mob-actor Ray Liotta who looks as if they dug him out of whatever grave he was in and pushed him to one of his finest performances really since Goodfellas. Old, graying, pissy with baggage no parent should ever have to carry, he snarls and emotes his way through the role of pseudo-villain as he orchestrates his crooked cops' lives like an involved Godfather. Everybody is supposed to get taken care of under his watch, even Lopez's teenage daughter who flaunts her innocence through much of the show until her mother's secrets catch up to them both.

Joined on the crew are a few other possibly recognizable faces, chief among them being Drea De Matteo who most people might remember from either The Sopranos or Sons of Anarchy. The middle-aged, mom with kids, a job that overworks and underpays her, and a husband that doesn't appreciate her, she struggles to reclaim some sanity and sexiness after discovering her husband cheated on her with some young piece of... well, I mean, you know. Like most of the crew, she has been in it for years and trusts Liotta's judgment.

The crew rounds out with Vincent Laresca who plays Carlos Espada, and fairly newcomers Hampton Fluker as Marcus Tufo (the 30-something black guy) and Santino Fontana of CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame. Right off the bat I recognized Fontana who plays the best friend/possible love interest if only Rebecca would get her stuff together on Crazy Ex, and knew that something would have to give as that show had a full season order of 18 episodes way back in December. Of course I was right as his character dies early into the season. But before we jump to his death, we begin with the addition of one more crucial cast member who kicks off the show.

Michael Loman played by newcomer Dayo Okeniyi of Hunger Games fame is a detective rookie just assigned to Liotta's unit. The trusted one, and the only one currently without a partner to call her own, Lopez is assigned to show him the ropes, get him acclimated to his new duties as a detective and ease him out of his role previously as a beat cop. Things go sideways on their first call-in during the opening minutes of the series premiere when they burst in on some black drug dealers and the young cop caps one of the guys. Quick-triggered, as it turns out the thing the man had in his hand wasn't a gun but a video game controller. He just murdered the guy in cold blood. From the outset, the show doesn't shy away from the controversial subject of police misconduct and influence in minority communities. This is made all the worse because Loman is black. 

Instead of following his own instincts, he allows Lopez to take the reigns at covering up the crime in a very Training Day-esque scene-staging. "You heard a call for help, you went in, he shot at you, you shot back." This becomes a very important part of the series as it helps build Loman's character as the by-the-book, repentant cop. Not only does he, over the course of the series, go to the man's funeral and nearly confesses to his family, but he grows an immediate distrust of his fellow detectives in the precinct. He isn't part of the crew yet, and doesn't know of the underhanded criminality they routinely employee to grease their own palms. In any case, his erratic behavior not only leads to some of the other detectives disciplining him like an unwanted stepchild (they had to handcuff him and put him in the back of the car to keep him from confessing at the funeral) but it also earns unwanted attention for Liotta and Lopez's crew from Internal Affairs as well as the FBI.
"Who came in the door first, Loman?" 

For clarity's sake, Loman's actions did bring more heat from the FBI onto the crew, but the Feds already had their eye on Liotta for a while. And there lies the show's major conflict. Looking at the most involved and trusted, yet the one with the most to lose, the FBI pursue Lopez's character. Enter Special Agent Robert Stahl and his Asian partner who really isn't given much to do outside of give him side-eyes and tell him that he's getting too close to Lopez before she ultimately ends up sleeping with him in the season finale. The deal? Stahl and his partner tell Lopez that she must now serve as an informant for them to bring down her boss and her crew in exchange for some form of immunity and protection for her teenage daughter.

Special Agent Stahl

See, they also have something over her head that Stahl abuses behind the Asian woman's back. They know that the girl's real father is actually a criminal who went down for a crime ten years ago. As it turns out, not only did he not do it, but he was framed for such a crime by Liotta and Lopez. Why? His imprisonment served as her ultimate escape from a physically and emotionally abusive man who beat her so bad for two years that she nearly lost the baby (her daughter) when he pushed her down a flight of stairs. While he isn't set to see parole in a few years still, Lopez has yet to even tell her daughter that this man is her father; in fact, she's lied to the girl for years and told her varying lies that her father either ran away and abandoned them, or that he's dead. She wants to keep her daughter innocent and safe from even knowing this evil man. They catch Lopez trying to deal some illegal stash to an undercover agent which they can bring her in for at any time. Cornered, she has to navigate the treacherous waters of betraying her "family" while not letting the FBI take out the people who trust her.

Lopez's daughter; Totally believe she's her daughter. Lopez is old enough to be her mother in real life

You interested yet? While this show is not anywhere near the sophistication of Scorsese's The Departed or the Asian film on which that was based Infernal Affairs, the atmosphere does call back to those two films--a mole in a trusted organization trying not to get caught while doing their own dirt. As said before, it also mixes elements of Training Day into the mix as Loman continues throughout the series to pursue real justice even if it comes against his fellow officers. Just remember, however, that while those are very potent films involving crooked cops and undercovers, this does play on NBC broadcast TV which does needfully water down the premise, while maintaining a great level of drama.

The story pushes forward at a good pace as we learn that practically before Lopez can even get out of FBI custody, Liotta knows that there is a rat in his crew. His suspicion arises from strange behavior from some of his underlings coupled with chatter he's hearing from the IA's and DA's office and a failed job. Turning to his right-hand woman, he goes to Lopez to voice his frustrations, turning the heat up on her as she is very close to being caught. Panic intensifies when she suggests that they give everybody a lie detector test (call Maury! Call Maury!), only to have him turn to her as the first participant. She takes the test, cheats and passes but doesn't remember that she has a tell he ID'd way back in the day when he helped frame her daughter's father for a murder she accidentally committed as a uniformed officer. She brushes her hair behind her ear. Even seeing it, he pushes it to the back of his mind in favor of easing his thoughts. He doesn't want it to be her as he knows he'd have to kill her if it was, and she's like a surrogate daughter for him. Talking with his wife, he reminisces about his daughter's suicide. He feels partially at fault for it because he told her she was a waste of space before she decided to take her life. Still, he might have to do what he's gotta do.

Her daughter's father.
Meanwhile, as Lopez "helps" Liotta try to uncover the rat, two major things happen: Liotta gets a call from another crooked cop in IA he's good friends with (there's a twist there that I'll let you have all to yourself) about a big "job" coming their way, and Lopez's ex's cellmate gets out of jail. Tackling the cellmate first, as soon as the man gets out he goes to see his new girl, and decides that he's over not seeing his child (from his old girl). He kidnaps the child and is ready to escape but is confronted by Liotta. All the time he's out he lets bits and pieces about the frame-job that Lopez did years ago. Honestly, I'm probably remembering a little of it wrong as it gets slightly confusing in the early episodes. Just realize that he's got info that can possibly get Lopez's daughter's father released as the man is innocent.

At the same time, Fontana is internet-dating a Brazilian woman and begins taking Portuguese lessons from a prostitute he and his partner Marcus busted a few weeks earlier. Secrecy is not his friend here as the meetings are quickly suspected of being handler meetings by Liotta. To help clear Lopez from further suspicion, the FBI helps concoct papers that says the guy is an informant, which leads Liotta to pursue him for questioning. But before he can get to Fontana, Stahl and his Asian partner pick the guy up and offer him protection from his boss. He doesn't take it, escapes and meets up with the rest of his crew at a construction site where the ex-prisoner/kidnapper has taken the child. While Liotta watches, he manages to free the child and wrestle the gun from the guy. The man goes over the side of the railing and falls to his death. Liotta confronts Fontana with the forged papers about him being an informant before pushing him from the building, too. Not a full splat, Liotta has to kill the boy a second time later in the hospital minutes before Lopez can get there and save him.

With the first casualty on their hands, Stahl and the FBI want to get Liotta fast before more people die. Lopez tries to cut a deal where they can capture him doing this big job Liotta has on good word will be huge. He nearly turns the job down when the man behind the curtain sends him, as his first mission, a kidnapped man in a trunk. The hook: the man is the significant other of an armored truck dispatcher. The trucks move evidence mostly for law enforcement. A huge movement of drug money ceased by the DEA in a recent raid will be coming soon and this unmet puppeteer wants Liotta and his crew to rob the truck. So, they hold the kidnapped guy ransom against the dispatcher who is supposed to make sure that no one sees the truck going off its route.

The FBI wants to catch Lopez's crew in the act of taking the money. However, because Agent Stahl has a very bizarre obsession (we're talkin' buying and dressing a prostitute as Lopez) with Lopez, she manages to sex him into a deal where she and her crew have immunity, and only Liotta goes down. Guilt ways on her, but this is the best she can do.

Not satisfied, or jealous of her partner's sexual exploits with Lopez, Stahl's Asian partner goes to the courts and submits some evidence the FBI has on Lopez's daughter's father which exonerates him of the crime. He's released immediately on the basis that he won't sue the city of NY. Dangling free, he goes to her to immediately contact this daughter that he's always known about but who knows little about him. Now Lopez has to deal with this just as she, Liotta and the crew prepare for the robbery. Her daughter talks to the man, comes to hate her mother for keeping them from each other (she found out about him before he got out of prison) and sees none of the violent tendencies of which her mother speaks.

Meanwhile, Lopez sabotages the FBI's gotcha when she learns that Stahl never really went to his superior with the immunity deal for the rest of the crew outside of Liotta. She tries stalling their vehicle so they can't come and removes her wire so the FBI can't listen or track her. All of this backfires. Not only does the crew arrive at the heist of the parked armored truck, but rookie Loman arrives, too, as he was doing some other police work that led him to the truck. Also, the Asian FBI agent is left to watch the building where the puppeteer's men were keeping the kidnapped man. No movement all day, they raid the storage locker after the heist only to realize that the man has been dead for quite some time.

Lopez quarterbacks everything but convincing her rookie that they have to do the heist to keep Internal Affairs off his back (the heist is a payoff to a crooked cop), proves difficult, especially after two people get shot in what was supposed to be an easy job.

Some Serious Stuff Just Went Down 
The money then goes missing only to appear again as a bargaining chip for Lopez, then Liotta, who both negotiate deals where they separately turn themselves in and return the money in exchange for immunity for the rest of the crew. We end with Stahl having accepted Liotta's deal before Lopez's, making for a helluva cliffhanger. But the final frame is electrifying as Lopez is confronted one last time by her daughter's father who has returned with a gun after she tried paying him to stay away from their daughter. While I would normally spoil it as I've done in my other postmortem reviews, I'll hold off on that this time. Why? Because this series, unlike many of the others I've done is not an anthology (from what I know) and it has already been green-lit for a second season. Which means you can catch the whole season OnDemand or at and determine if you want to tune into a second season sometime next year.

What's my grade? I give this one a solid A-. Since when can Jennifer Lopez actually act? Like, when dat happen? It's crazy how this year is the comeback year of both Jennifer and Ben Affleck from that embarrassment that was Gigli over a decade ago (acting wise). She sizzles on the screen with bits of Enough, Selena and something completely new that she's finally dug deep down to put on screen. Her performance is helped by veteran Ray Liotta who, while sometimes turns in a subpar performance, is given a meaty enough role not to phone it in like he's been doing for the last dozen years. The writing can be a bit crisper, but then again who am I to talk? The plot twists and turns in plenty of great ways that may give you pleasant reactions of "wow" and "didn't see that coming." Best of all, unlike my initial thoughts, it isn't another case-of-the-week series. Don't misunderstand, that element is there; however, unlike many of the new series trying to break free from this format, employing a more involved overarching tertiary plot (think The Blacklist, Minority Report, Limitless, Second Chance, etc.), here the secondary plot is the focus while the weekly cases are edged toward the back. You won't care as much about the guy trying to take over the new drug territory so much as you will Lopez trying to keep from being caught by her boss. The only problem I can see from this format is the possible trouble a second season will have with keeping the drama alive with a new tension.

Should you be watching? Yes. For one, if you haven't overdosed on your supply of gorgeous women with Kerry Washington, Jaina Lee Ortiz (Rosewood), and Kaley Cuoco heating up the TV airwaves weekly, then adding Jennifer Lopez to that can't hurt. Also, as said, this is the best acting Lopez has ever done, and it's already coming back for a second season. Not the gritty True Detective that HBO has given us, it doesn't take nearly as many prisoners as one might expect broadcast television to take. In this day and age where every protagonist drifts toward a morally ambiguous center, Lopez's Harley makes a great female addition to the haul of uniquely flawed characters.

What do you think? Have you seen Shades of Blue? If not, do you think you'll tune in after this review? If you have, did you like it and what was your favorite part of the season? Are you excited for it to come back for a second season? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "Oh? That's a very interesting... outfit for a first date."
'You like it? It's kinda embarrassing but I actually had my dog pick it out for me.'
"Oh? Hm. You know dogs are colorblind, right?"

P.S. Thank god dogs don't much care about TV... or do they? Even if they did watch the show and couldn't tell the colors, I'm sure they'd be just as ticked as me that a show called Shades of Blue rarely ever shows anyone wearing blue, let alone multiple shades of it. Zero fashion sense. I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

So The World's Ending, Huh? Eh! I'm Cool Wit' That. Postmortem Review: You, Me and The Apocalypse #Postmortem #NBC #YMATA

So The World's Ending, Huh? Eh! I'm Cool Wit' That. Postmortem Review: You, Me and The Apocalypse #Postmortem #NBC #YMATA

All pictures courtesy of NBC unless otherwise noted 

Greetings, everybody! I'm back once again with another postmortem review of a show that went off the air at least a week ago and that few people watched, and that you probably couldn't give a damn about, so you know this review is gonna be good. As mentioned in one of my previous postmortem posts, since I didn't get to do a 3 week roundup on many of the new mid-season replacement shows, I decided that because many of these shows will only have 10 episodes and wouldn't normally have an extra back-order of episodes anyway, why not do a full review of the entire season. On deck next: You, Me and The Apocalypse.

Sigh! Where to begin. First, I guess I should commend NBC for trying something different in the last few years as far as the foreign acquisitions and rights department goes. If you haven't seen this show or don't know what I'm talking about, let me tell you. This show is a co-production between the American arm of NBC's parent company and a British TV production company. For those who don't know, which is virtually everybody because next to nobody here in America bothered watching it, NBC tried a very similar setup with Amy Poehler's brother's show Welcome To Sweden for not one but two surprising summer seasons. The show was made both for American and Swedish audiences, and was broadcast both in America and Sweden. Mixing familiar American comedy stars with Swedish stars, that show was an even harder sell as half of it was spoken in Swedish and highlighted the cultural differences of a fish-out-of-water American in a foreign country. Ultimately, it got canceled late last summer in the middle of its second season as American audiences could never adjust to the difference in humor, filming styles and the language barrier (half of the show was subtitled, which a great swath of filmgoers have yet to adjust to).

NBC, being the brave company they try to be, forged on with this idea, this time doing the same thing with You, Me and The Apocalypse (#YMATA), this time hoping that a mid-winter start, even more recognizable stars and a prime Thursday spot would help the British dramedy adjust to American judgment. So, did it? Does it hold up to American standards of comedy and storytelling? Well, while I can see this becoming an oft-used trend in the next decade rather than adopting British versions of shows (example: Graceland), I think NBC's experiment in foreign relations is off to a rocky start.

We begin each episode with the same scene to setup the premise of the show, which is also explained in the very title and gets redundant really quick. An asteroid is hurtling toward earth and will hit at any moment, destroying all life as we know it. The only people who may survive this catastrophe have huddled together in an underground bunker. The narrator of this madhouse (and a madhouse it is) explains to us how crazy the people within the walls of the bunker really are. From there, each episode focuses on one of the group, diving farther into their personal story while still maintaining a healthy glance at every other characters' back-story leading up to their encapsulation in the bunker. Following me still? I know, that was worded poorly but I'm not gonna fix it to make sure you were paying attention, because it gets weird and hella tangled from here. Bear with me as this thing's got a lotta characters and they're all important.

We re-begin with our supposed narrator, Jamie. A very, very... very average looking white British bloke, he starts each day by creating a video for his video blog to his missing wife. Seven or so years ago, he got married to a beautiful black woman who subsequently disappeared within one year's time. He knows not where she is, if she was captured, killed or the like. He only hopes that he finds her one day because he is madly in love with her still. He works at a bank in Slough. The manager, he has never fulfilled his potential and is afraid to leave because of his sweet mother and because he fears he might miss his wife's return if ever she came back. Well, before the world learns of this deadly asteroid, all the feces hits the fan in his life when he is brought into a federal office on suspicion of being someone else. As it turns out, he has a twin brother. Not just a twin brother, but the best kind of twin brother, an evil twin brother. Whoa! Like, yeah. We all want an evil twin brother or sister, right? Naturally, he had no idea.

Yeah, I'd probably search for her forever, too. 
Revelations keep coming (see what I did there? Biblical reference) when he finds out that not only does he have an evil doppelganger roaming the world, but that his missing wife is with this guy. His thoughts: She thinks he's me. He returns home to talk to his mother about it and gets even more mind-blowing news when he learns that his mum is not really his mum. She found him somewhere and figured, "A baby? You mean I get to have the responsibility of looking after a tiny human all by myself, watching them grow up, being there for their heartaches and pain, getting all the blame for if and when they turn out to be a crap human being, and possibly not having them really give a damn about me in my old age? Hells yeah!"

And then the news hits. And we switch from his story over to one of the recognizable stars. Jenna Fischer of The Office (American version) fame returns to TV in this show. Here, she plays a prisoner brought in on charges of having hacked the NSA in the USA or maybe it was the FBI. It was one of them. Hm? I really need to start paying more attention to shows I don't particularly care about. Anyway, she goes to what looks like a max security prison where, in her first day, she unknowingly makes friends with a Nazi played by another recognizable star Megan Mullally of Will and Grace fame. Apparently Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds character branded her on her forehead as she proudly wears a swastika smack in the center. Fischer pleads for mercy as she is not the person who actually hacked the Pentagon(?) and just wants to see her dying husband again. He's got some disease and it's all sad and crap because he's bedridden. Turns out, her son was the hacker but she had to take the wrap because... family (oh yeah. I'll be using that again very soon). She hasn't even had a fair trial but with her new buddy the Nazi ,she will survive the prison.

And then the news hits. And we switch from her story over to the story of a White House scientist adviser. This bespectacled American gent advises the president that he has two plans to ensure the survival of the human race. His first plan is to Armageddon the hell outta that asteroid. We're seriously talking Bruce Willis going down in flames to Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss A Thang" while that big sucker blows up to smithereens, and Ben Affleck can come all the way back to earth to make as many Batman films as he wants. The second plan is a bunker full of young women chosen from the billions on earth and supplied with enough food, water and a DNA bank to carry on human diversity. Working with a black general who sounds like he is from Britain but is supposed to be an American, the plan does not involve any men being saved, including the president, though the commander-in-chief doesn't fully understand that and thinks that the leader the new world will need is him, because... ego.

I'm a Science adviser guy. 

And we switch again from his story to another story of a Vatican priest played by the biggest star and current Grinder Rob Lowe. Let me stop and say that the incestuousness of TV right now is at an all time. Jenna Fischer was getting around, spreading her talent everywhere she could. Because after this started, two weeks later she appeared on The Grinder playing Rob Lowe's ex-girlfriend who wanted him to give up acting before he became The Grinder. Then a week after that, she appeared on Debra Messing's show Mysteries of Laura, who we all know is friends with and worked for years with Megan Mullally. Get yours, Fischer! Back to Lowe, he plays the 12th angry guy in the room (you better get that reference; that's too classic not to get. That's high school classic) when considering sainthood for people (Mother Teresa is used as an example). With the apocalypse on the horizon and no Jesus return in sight, he is given the new task of finding and possibly debunking claims of people being the Messiah around the world. He is paired with a young, black (oh yes, the chocolateyness in this cast is important) nun who has her own doubts about her faith and whether being a nun is what God wants from her. This mission is the perfect place for her doubts as they embark on an international journey to debunk fake messiahs.

Nice sunglasses, svelte figure. Yeah, I'm kind of a hot priest. 

And then we switch back to Fischer's prison and that's when all hell breaks loose. After the comet is announced (I know a comet is technically different but I got tired of using asteroid), the prison goes nuts as there is only a month left before the world ends. Suddenly, the prison doors open and people escape. Fischer and Nazi escape together only to be picked up by the hacker that broke her out and lo and behold, the White Horseman that rescued her is Ariel, Jamie's evil twin. He's a computer hacker and halfway worships Fischer for hacking the CIA(?). He has plans for the both of them and worst of all, doesn't believe the government's "lie" that the world will soon end. Yes, he is dumb. Yes, he is a conspiracy theorist with an odd but very real and understandable fear of germs. While this fear is not always utilized in the show, it does come into play every so often.

Ariel and a buddy of his break Fischer out of jail and Megan (Nazi lady) comes along with them against Ariel's wishes. They eventually ditch her and Fischer's rescue turns into a kidnapping because she only wants to see her son but Ariel wants her to teach him all of her hacking tricks of which she has none. Only when he finds this out do they split, she gets away and Ariel guns for her son.

Ariel the baddie... with a total germ phobia. 

Cut to his brother Jamie back in Great Britain. Still in shock from the many revelations laid upon him in the last few days, he and his best friend (a black guy with a funky afro; again, the blackness is strong in this show. Me likey. And it's a hint at the big twist) embark on a journey to find his wife, but to do that they have to find Ariel and to do that they have to find his birth mother. The hunt for his birth mother leads him to an old house where he runs into Ariel's second white girlfriend who nearly kills him because of the whole twin thing. She tells him where his real mom is--a mental institution and he and his friend go to rescue her. The most interesting thing here is that out of all the characters that play a role in this show and don't die immediately, this woman is the only one who shows up for a few minutes and then is never mentioned again. Just had to point that out for viewers. Anyway, they rescue the mum from the institution because she would have to know where Ariel is, right? Not only does she say that she didn't give Ariel up and leave him in a parking lot like she did our venerable hero Jamie, but she continues talking with him and knows Ariel hates Jamie. Why? Because he heard about Jamie throughout his childhood. Why? Because their birth mum believes Jamie is the savior returned, yeah, that guy Jesus. Awww snap!

Cut to the priest and the black nun roaming around the European Union looking for real messiahs and debunking them. Still paying attention? OK, because it's about to get intense and I'm not slowing down. They review many different would-be "Christs" for the church and Rob Lowe even tries to stop a man who was a priest abuse victim as a child from jumping off a building. People are losing their minds and clamoring for any faithful thing bolted to the ground. They go to a cult in Spain where the leaders are worshiped as new messiahs (plural), and forced to get married under their law in order to enter into the kingdom of paradise here on earth--a requirement for entering after death--only to realize it's a sex cult. Nope! Not for them. 
There's a woman who helps people in her town and feeds the poor and takes care of the sick but it turns out she just steals free food and medicine from shipping containers filled with the stuff but that sits and would rot because of improper approval for the food. There's even a little girl in a hospital who is about six or seven years old and wears a giraffe costume all the time. The locals think she is Jesus returned because she's been able to predict certain things for people and generally makes them feel good, but her mother--a black chick--argues that she's a kid and that's what kids do. They say funny stuff that sounds deep and smile a lot, making people feel good. She tells the nun something about four horsemen before Rob Lowe helps sneak her and her mother out of the hospital away from the crowd. All of them are denied by him as being the new Messiah.

And back to Fischer who partners once again with the Nazi to get across country to her son before Ariel does. They run into trouble through their rich shenanigans as they sneak into people's house, steal clothes, outwit and escape the FBI trackers and try contacting her brother. Even Megan Mullally's husband Nick Offerman of Parks and Rec fame makes an appearance as a cross-dressing hillbilly in the middle of nowhere. He comes to realize that Fischer has a sizable bounty on her head which he plans to collect because it's his patriotic duty... and, you know, the money can buy him a lot of nice dresses. Still the two escape and manage to go to Megan's house where the same thing happens with her White Power husband and kids who seek to turn her new friend Fischer in for the reward. Well, Fischer manages to escape with the sneaky help of Megan and is back on the road.

Unfortunately, we switch back to Ariel's plan to find that he's got the kid already. He wants to force the kid to tell him the secrets and first starts by playing nice, which quickly devolves into death threats. Only when his chubby, hairy friend tells him that the apocalypse is real--info earned from a hack into credible scientists' computers--does Jamie start plotting. He figures that if it's real then the government has a backup plan to keep humanity going. Whatever it is, he wants in. Get ready for your first twist because here it comes.

"Girl, that sound crazy as hell!"
We hop over to the government workers storyline where he is bulling forward with the plan to Deep Impact the meteor (yes, now I'm calling it a meteor. I know the difference between a meteor, meteorite, and meteoroid. Don't roll your eyes at me. Yes, I know it's significantly smaller than an asteroid, but still... I'm usin' it) and nuke it into oblivion. But he's also working with the president to prepare the bunker. Well, it turns out that the black general he's been working with is not just his workmate but his boyfriend. They've been white house gay for quite some time and even live with each other in a nice, modern-chic apartment. But then one day, he suddenly gets a call from his sister who tells him that his nephew is in trouble because he may have been kidnapped by a crazy hacker dude. Whaaa! That's right, he is the brother of Fischer's character and the uncle of the great hacker who bypassed the DEAs(?) security and is now being held captive by Ariel. As it just so happens, no sooner does he learn this then does he learn that she has broken out of jail and is a wanted fugitive, and has Ariel contact him about trading the boy in exchange for a spot in whatever life-saving thing they have planned. A calculating scientist, he isn't cold-hearted. Even against his boyfriend's wishes, he decides to go and save the boy for his sister's sack, even though he swears he can't do anything about the reward on her head. In the last minute the black guy comes and helps his boyfriend save the teenage boy from the evil grips of Ariel, leaving the White Horseman fiend for dead in some museum place. But Ariel doesn't die. Instead he's picked up by a mysterious woman. You ready for the next twist, because it's a doozy? I'll give you one paragraph to let your mind percolate before I tell you, as we cut to...

The priest and the nun. Going about their business, technically married but not stressing over it, they continued their search for the new Messiah. Well, while on their search the priest sees a woman die on TV in what many people in the world deem a cruelly hilarious way to die--a literal ton of bricks from a building fall on her and crush her to death as she is spouting off gobbledygook about the end times. Is it funny and unexpected? Yes. Did they have to make cruel jokes about it, make it into a gif and put hilarious Three Stooges/Scooby-Doo cartoon music to her death? Well... no. But did that make it funnier? Sadly, yes. Now I feel ashamed of myself. The priest recognizes the woman as his one and only booty call from way back in the day before he joined the priesthood as a young lad. Though it's not his official duty, he feels he needs to go to the town to pay his respects. So, he and the black nun go there and try to visit her grave/funeral to pay their respects. You ready for this? Here we go.

The woman in question is Jamie (and Ariel's) birth mother. She died shortly after Jamie brought her back to Slough and went to his bank for whatever reason outside of which she died, LOL--so ashamed. So ashamed of myself. As it turns out he was Jamie's father the whole time but never knew he had any offspring, let alone twins. The moment he went into the priesthood, he pretty much abandoned any connections with his family. It gets more intense as I will be jumping around here. Ariel awakes to an old lady who has him strapped to a hospital bed and is about to steal his blood. She has been tracking him. "Why?" "Because I need your blood. So I found you through your uncle." Huhh? He was raised by the crazy lady who believed his brother was the Messiah. He knew of no uncle. Oh, but he has one. In fact, he has a Fraternal twin uncle and aunt, the very same who are currently a White House science adviser and an escaped domestic terrorist prisoner on the run with her Nazi buddy. That's right, everybody's frickin' related. To clarify, Rob Lowe as the priest is the older brother to Fischer and the gay scientist dude. He is also the father of Jamie and Ariel, unbeknownst to him. Ariel was admiring and kidnapped the hacker who happens to be his young cousin. Now, the old lady who has him strapped to the bed is actually his extravagantly wealthy grandma who faked her death after killing her husband in the 80s. Yes, this is all part of the plot because... family.

But it gets better because remember how I made a semi-big deal about all the black people? Well, as Priest Rob Lowe is about to leave with his black nun pseudo-wife, Jamie tells him about how he lost his wife years ago and that she was spotted last with his brother Ariel. As it turns out, he shows the photo to the nun and she realizes that the giraffe-costumed kid from the hospital has a mother who happens to be Jamie's wife. Aww snap and aww snap again! Not only is Jamie's wife currently still alive and not with Ariel, but she has a kid who could potentially be his or Ariel's. Step back and look at the map and you'll see that this white half-American, half-British family is essentially the Kardashians as far as taste in partners go. Jamie married a black woman, who he later finds out knew, was raised with and quasi-loved Ariel. They're little bi-racial black baby (though, to be fair the girl looks more Hispanic than anything) is running around half-predicting the future for people. The priest is now currently married (though half-unwillingly) to a black nun, both of them realizing that they do have romantic feelings for each other and sex it up before returning to the Vatican where they wrestle with their faith and whether they should continue their calling or flounce their vows to be with each other before it all ends. The scientist guy is in love with his gay black White House general. Wanna guess what race Fischer's sick husband is? Well, he looks Middle Eastern, so... yeah. But he might be mixed with some Black, so you never know. But to jump ahead a little, Jamie's adoptive mom throws caution to the wind and marries his best friend, the funky-haired black guy. So yeah, the whole family has Jungle Fever, save for the rich old white lady.

I'm your daughter, daddy. 

Speaking of the old white lady, she happens to have a very rare blood disease and needs new blood from a family donor to stay alive. She also has a bunker ready for the apocalypse--well, would ya look at that. Ariel convinces her that his blood wouldn't be nearly as good for her as her great grandchild's the giraffe girl, as her blood is even younger and fresher. She agrees because she is just as evil as he is and she lets him go to find the little girl. His plan is not only to get the girl but his girlfriend/Jamie's wife back. As it turns out, he and the black woman were somewhat hooligans. 
He learned all sorts of criminal trickery and became a hacker to play a game on Jamie. Knowing he always had a twin and hearing how perfect Jamie was and how blessed he was and his importance made him super jealous, so much so that he set out to ruin the man's life in as many ways as possible. He hacked into his records to make sure he didn't get into any of the colleges he wanted, he made sure the man felt less than special at any turn. In his most devious plan, he sent his own girlfriend to go and seduce Jamie, make him fall in love, get married and then willfully disappear and break his heart. Problems arose when the girl actually did fall in love with him after realizing he was a good, honest person. When she discovered she got pregnant just after their wedding, she fled not because that was part of the game but because she didn't want to have her child used as a pawn. But Ariel still found her after that and kept her under his control for a while before she could escape with her daughter. Both Ariel and Jamie have been looking for her ever since, but she watches Jamie's videos-to-her every day with her daughter and tells her that Jamie is her father. My mind was blown after that.

Now, to start wrapping this up, as you can guess now as the show makes no secret about it during its repetitive starting scene, most of the family makes it into the bunker. From the time you learn that Jamie has a twin (twins running in the family) the question arises of who narrates the show from the bunker at the end. For me, it was kind of a giveaway the entire time, which actually made me a little upset, but I digress. Also, Rob Lowe's priest doesn't make it as he is murdered by other Vatican priests, but don't worry his now pregnant black nun wife gets in. Also, Fischer's sick husband plays hero as someone must close the bunker door from the outside, so he doesn't make it either. He was sick and dying anyway so it wasn't a great loss.

What is my grade? I will actually give this one a B+. I know, that seems very high doesn't it, especially for a show that I barely gave a damn about and only halfway paid attention to while watching. But I will qualify this rating by saying that it definitely isn't for everyone. Here's the thing: I grew up watching a few British comedy shows, so I understand and appreciate their sense of humor. I get it. The shows are also filmed differently over there and you can definitely tell, so you might have to adjust to that. It's like that weird too-real-for-life HD thing but it's not actually HD. Sometimes it can look like it's filmed on a personal family camcorder. And even I'll admit that it took me quite a while to start paying attention to this show in any meaningful way. But with that said, I enjoyed the acting performances from most of the Brits and Americans. A lot of the humor is more shake-your-head-worthy than LOL but you might still get a few good chuckles. But the plot does keep you on your toes and plays all the contrivances very tongue and cheek like most British humor. They know it's ridiculous and aren't ashamed of it, which is what makes it so fun. It's a love story about family and revenge... and the apocalypse. In this day and age of everyone talking about the end of the world, what more could you want?

Should you be watching? Well, that's the question, isn't it. Unlike Second Chance or The Family, I feel as if this series was far more of an event series than anything ready-made for a second go-around. I have trouble seeing it coming back for a second season and still maintaining all the wackiness that made the first season so enthralling. Yes, they can be trapped in the bunker while the world doesn't end or they could get out of the bunker during an apocalypse that actually isn't that bad, but I can't think of how they'd make it as entertaining, so I can't recommend you watch it in hopes of having a second season, especially since the ending can be interpreted somewhat as a cliffhanger. But if you watch it solely as an event series, a miniseries that told a nice little story and is contained in those ten episodes, you might enjoy it. You can find it currently on NBC OnDemand on most cable and satellite providers, as well as on and probably on Hulu very soon. Just don't expect it to return to the airwaves anytime soon.

What do you think? Did you see You, Me and The Apocalypse? If so, what did you think? Was it funny with its British humor sensibilities or did you not like it as an American viewer? Or did you think the whole thing was contrived and cliche and you hated it? Or did you not see it at all? If not, do you think you'll take a look now? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "So, I had a revelation last night."
'Oh yeah?'
"Yep. God spoke to me."
'What'd he say?'
"He told me to stop being an ass about things."
'God knows his stuff.'

P.S. No, that doesn't just go for religious people. That goes for everybody. Chill out, people. Sometimes, it's not the end of the world if you don't get your way. Speaking of which, why am I not more popular by now? Get on that, people! I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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