Tag Archives: Recap

Season Premiere: Project Runway Season Five – “Episode One”

“Episode One”

July 16th, 2008

You may have noticed that I have never quite blogged about Project Runway in the life of Cultural Learnings, which is for two main reasons. First and foremost, I’m late on the uptake, having only discovered the series in its fourth season. And, second, the strange lack of a Canadian simulcasting means that I’m always delayed in getting my hands on the more recent episodes.

But I won’t let that be a barrier to the only reality competition series to ever win a prestigious Peabody Award. There is something about Project Runway that just clicks in this genre, primarily because these people are actually capable of creating interesting fashion design for both those who know what’s good (Not me) and those who have no idea beyond their own personal taste (That’s me, FYI). It’s got just the right balance of interpersonal conflict that’s expected from reality television and, more importantly, people being outright challenged to complete the tasks at hand.

And for the show’s fifth season, there’s no surprises: it’s the same Heidi, the same Tim, the same diverse/crazy group of contenders, and the same types of challenges and editing. All of that might change for the show’s eventual shift to Lifetime in the Fall, but for now? Familiarity is a darn good thing.

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(Mid) Season Finale: Battlestar Galactica – “Revelations”


June 13th, 2008

Since New Caprica, Battlestar Galactica has been a series defined by the intersection of two races – of their people, their beliefs, their actions and their futures. At odds with one another from the moment the Miniseries began, humans and Cylons have slowly but surely centralized into two groups of people who are searching for a greater purpose and a greater understanding. When the Cylons occupied humanity on New Caprica, Caprica Six and the other Cylon leaders felt that they were meant to co-exist – of course, one cannot force such a peace as easily as they had hoped.

No, it takes the right moment for that to happen, which is perhaps the very definition the show’s purpose in the first half of its fourth and final season. It seems as if the search for Earth is, in fact, that point of intersection: conveniently for the series’ narrative, the human desire to discover a new home on Earth requires the discovery of the Final Cylon models, the discovery of which is the goal of the current batch of renegade Cylons. And so we have spent nine episodes bringing these two groups together, now finally reaching the point where all the pieces are in play.

We started the season with a mysteriously untouched viper and four newly found Cylons, and they return here to ask the question of everyone on each side of the conflict: are you willing to accept the intertwined fate of these two peoples, or will old wounds win the day? As the driving force behind a tense showdown with an infinite number of potential outcomes, “Revelations” proves something we knew all along: that few shows on television can have us questioning everything as easily as this one, and that no show on television can measure up because of it. Plus, after all the questions are over, we’re left facing an answer we never saw coming, and a future that waiting seven months for will be, well, a frakkin’ bitch.

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Preparing for ‘Revelations’: Revisiting Battlestar Galactica Season Four Thus Far

It’s apparently streaming on SciFi.com, so I’m avoiding any and all discussion of anything even close to tonight’s midseason finale of Battlestar Galactica, “Revelations.” All signs point towards an intense and dramatic hour of television, so I’ll definitely be bracing myself for something engaging this evening. For now, however, thought I’d leave some links to my reviews of each week’s episode (With a pull quote!) so that we can remind ourselves what’s happened so far, and mentally prepare ourselves for what should prove a most stimulating forty three minutes.

After the jump, meanwhile, you can see how my views on certain episodes may have changed over time.

BSG Season Four So Far

“He That Believeth in Me”

“I actually quite loved the episode: laughed out loud, gasped in horror, loved the acting, etc. It’s just that after such a huge revelation, what was put on the screen was everything we had already imagined as fans of the series dealing with a year-long hiatus. And, well, that’s kind of a let down.”

“Six of One”

“You see, everyone’s a little bit Starbuck right now. Everyone sees a path ahead of them that they know they want to follow, and yet at the same time it seems as if everything is heading in the opposite direction. Everyone is worried about what will become of them if things don’t go their way: Roslin is worried about dying as the nobody she once was; Adama is worried about losing everyone around him and dying alone; Lee is worried about the runaway train he’s on away from his life, essentially; and the final four Cylon models are worried about, well, everything.”

“The Ties That Bind”

“I’m not saying that what we saw from Nikki Clyne last night was revolutionary performance, but Michael Taylor managed to draw from her past in order to craft, at the very least, an intriguing point of representation. Cally, through anti-depressant fueled journeys, becomes a loose cannon – she is suspicious and paranoid in her altered state, and begins to suspect Tyrol is hiding something. Upon investigation, she stumbles across his biggest secret, and all of a sudden Cally has gone from nuisance to all-out ticking time bomb.

And then it went off, much sooner than I think any of us expected.”

“Escape Velocity”

“…while certainly a lighter episode on plot than we are used to, there was nothing overly objectionable about its content. Considering that the themes of the season are very much returning to the opening of the second season and the division within the fleet along religious lines, it is good that we are seeing more of both politics and people relating to this development. While I do think that a few of the storylines felt like they were getting either too much or too little time, and that there were certainly some balance or editing issues to deal with, the end result is a decent setup for the things to come.”

“The Road Less Traveled”

“Last week felt totally wrong when it comes to the central conceit of the season: the blurring of the line between human and Cylon is integral to defining the series moving forward, and this week we return to the concepts of shared destiny and identity within the context of the series. The result is a sharper episode, one that feels like we are, indeed, traveling down a particular road as the two storylines missing last week converge.”


“I am kind of wary on “Faith,” if only because on a plot level it didn’t even live up to the low standards that I provided for it. It is one thing to spend a quarter of the episode with a very character/mythology driven story for Laura Roslin, that’s earned considering the show and Mary McDonnell’s respective pedigrees; the big problem is that the dramatic payoff to the Demetrius payoff was neither suspenseful nor dramatic on a broad plot level. We already knew what Kara Thrace learns from the Hybrid, we pretty well presumed what was going to be the end result of their journey, and outside of a random leg injury I never felt like anything was truly in jeopardy.”

“Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”

“Here, we have everything: the subtle character moments (albeit in smaller number than episodes past), the haunting thematics, the secret agendas, the political intrigue, the mythology of the series emerging, the cliffhanger endings, and most of all the kind of acting that you just don’t get on other shows these days. The episode leaves us with so many unanswered questions that you’d swear we are leaving for a lengthy break starting now as opposed to in (likely) a month’s time.”

“Sine Qua Non”

““Sine Qua Non” is an episode about losing control, or losing some element which is integral to existence. The latin meaning of the phrase, at least according to my extensive knowledge of using Wikipedia, is “without which (there is) nothing.” For various characters in our universe, this phrase has distinct meaning, and the episode does a strong job of emphasizing this fact in both subtle and broad fashions.”

“The Hub”

“it’s hard to screw up what the show does best, an intersection of human and Cylon combined with meaningful action sequences and a spiritual journey for humanity’s dying leader. There’s a certain diversity in the episode’s tone that could turn some off, with some strangely humorous or laid back sequences, but when much of it was given to Mary McDonnell and James Callis it was at least in good hands. By grounding itself in both the ongoing plot and the series’ central characters and themes, the episode can’t help but provide momentum into the final episode of the year.”

So that’s the season so far…but are all of these pull quotes still representative?

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Cultural Learnings Prepares to get ‘Lost’: Season Four Premiere and LiveCast Tonight!

Okay, so I might not have time for a huge Lost-related posting, but I’ve got some relatively exciting news for this evening. Starting at 11 EST, myself and David Chen from The Watchers will be broadcasting live through UStream (That’s the fancy link to your right) about the Lost Season Premiere. I hope to be able to have a post up before that with some of my thoughts on the episode, but tune in for a lot more detail and some really cool stuff all around.

In the meantime, if you’re still craving for your Lost fix, I figured I’d take us back in time to Cultural Learnings’ coverage of the end of Lost’s third season oh so many months ago.

Where Does Lost Go From Here? – May 24th, 2007

Just a day after the mind-blowing season finale, a review of which you can find below, I posed the question which we still don’t have a definitive answer to. It’s clear that the island’s drama will remain the central focus, which is about what I had figured, but the potential balance between flashforwards and flashbacks remains an important question we will discover in the future. For now, revisit my initial thoughts on where the fourth season could go.

Reviewing the Finale Ratings: Lost, 24, Heroes – May 24th, 2007

One of the big questions still floating around Lost’s return is whether or not the series is going to perform in the ratings. As it stands right now, it remains totally up in the air, but with nothing else on television and only Celebrity Apprentice as competition, methinks that the juggernaut still has plenty of life left in it despite Heroes’ slight advantage back in May.

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Brothers & Sisters – “An American Family”

“An American Family”

October 7th, 2007

You may have noticed that, until today, Sunday was recap free here at Cultural Learnings. However, based on stats and my own general interest in the shows the night has to offer, Brothers & Sisters has earned a coveted spot in the lineup. Of course, I use a very relative form of “coveted.”

And as far as family activities go, there is nothing more American than a road trip. Considering that the last road trip the Walker family took resulted in the discovery of an incredibly valuable plot of land and roadside bar antics, in spite of Tommy being present. With Justin being transfered to San Diego after his accident in Iraq, the Walker family (A more desirably group including Kevin, Kitty and Nora) descends onto the city in their minivan. And yes: Nora Walker is a total backseat driver. And it is lovely.

But what this episode really represents is a return to the show’s successful formula: faced with a crisis, the Walker family devolves into a mess of neuroses which sends them into a tail spin. It’s a formula that could be hopelessly grating, but the stellar cast always manages to elevate the material. In this case, the road trip ran into a political land mine, Tommy ran into a young and blonde land mine at Ojai, and Sarah ran into an ex-wife/Rebecca related land mine while meeting with Joe.

And do you know what? When a show does these things with this much grace, I can’t possibly complain.

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