Tag Archives: Tricia Helfer

Series Premiere: Human Target – “Pilot”

“Pilot”

January 14th, 2010

Airing two nights before its American premiere (Sunday at 8pm ET) may seem like a big deal for Canadian viewers of FOX’s new series Human Target, but it’s not as if the show’s pilot has been an unknown quantity. The pilot was basically presented in a condensed form as the show’s trailer back when it debuted at last Spring’s upfronts, and since the show was held for midseason it’s been “out there” for long enough that every beat of the show’s first episode was predictable.

Of course, part of the show’s charm is that every part of it is predictable: even if you had never seen or heard of the show before, chances are you knew that the inaugural voyage of a futuristic bullet train was not going to go smoothly. It is a show that has no intention of being surprising, nor upending expectations based on its genre: this is a lightweight action thriller of a television show that creates weight through intense action sequences and strong production values as opposed to subtle character development. By building that show around three very likeable and talented actors, and by crafting a relationship between them that has just the right balance of mistrust and respect, the show creates the kind of “setup” that promises to be exactly what you expect it to be.

There’s something comforting about that, something that has proved to be an admirable quality with other series that I’ve grown to be quite a fan of – I’m hopeful the same happens here.

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Review: Battlestar Galactica – “The Plan”

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“The Plan”

October 27th, 2009

There has been an odd lack of excitement surrounding “The Plan,” which isn’t exactly surprising. On the one hand, the show’s finale proved somewhat divisive, which could have turned some fans away from revisiting the series. On the other, there is more long term interest in a project like Caprica which could run for multiple seasons than a one-off movie, which might have fans focusing more on its impending premiere. However, I really shouldn’t fit into either of these camps, as I’ve yet to get truly excited about Caprica (although I am certainly intrigued) and I quite loved the finale. And yet, nonetheless, the DVD release of The Plan (in stores today, October 27th) snuck up on me in a way I had not anticipated, and its release seems to lack the fanfare one would expect for what will be our last time spent with this universe (or this time period in this universe).

Perhaps it is best that one goes into this one with low expectations, however. As someone who loves this show, having written an undergraduate thesis about it and spending four hours writing about the series finale into the middle of the night with no regard for my personal health, the purpose of this film should excite me. Promising to explain the Cylon plan to destroy humanity, and to detail how the individual Cylon models came to play their roles in the first two seasons of the series, one feels as if there is some really compelling material to be had here, the kind of stuff that would have me wishing I could go back and rewrite my chapter on the Cylon/Human binary all over again.

And yet, “The Plan” is a qualified failure, raising some intriguing issues but in an indulgent fashion that in its relentless need to fill in the gaps of where this is happening relative to the show’s narrative proves more distracting than informative, more confusing than enlightening. I feel as if there is an intriguing narrative waiting to be found somewhere in this mess of a two-hour television movie, but that narrative is lost when it is so clearly segmented to fit into the series’ existing structure. While we’re busy playing the game of “spot which footage was from the show and which was shot new for the movie,” there’s something interesting going on here that’s just not coming through as clearly as it needed to.

In individual moments, this feels like Battlestar Galactica – as a whole, it feels like a DVD extra where you can click a button and see what the Cylons are busy plotting at that particular time, something which would be more interesting if they hadn’t tried to turn it into a motion picture event.

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Warehouse 13 – “Pilot” and “Resonance”

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“Pilot” and “Resonance”

July 7th & July 14th, 2009

I fell asleep watching the Warehouse 13 pilot.

It’s a true story. I was there, trying to get through it, but I was exhausted from being up early and the pilot wasn’t really engaging me on any level. It wasn’t that it was bad, or that it actually put me to sleep (I consciously paused it before conking out moments later), but the fact remains that there was something about Warehouse 13 that wasn’t really connecting with me.

However, upon finishing the Pilot last night, and digging into “Resonance” this afternoon, I can say quite emphatically that the show is more than capable of keeping me awake. No, it’s not a replacement for Battlestar Galactica by any means, but it doesn’t try to be. What it represents is Reaper with less comedy, Fringe without the mythology, and every crime procedural you’ve ever seen with a sense of whimsy that’s often sorely lacking on those shows. It has no grandiose ideas about its position in the television world: what it delivers is what it sets out to achieve, a light-hearted but nonetheless resonant piece of dramedic television.

And in the middle of summer, when television often feels like a wasteland, a weekly trip into the depths of Warehouse 13 is something I’m already looking forward to, if not particularly obsessing over.

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Burn Notice – “Scatter Point”

“Scatter Point”

August 7th, 2008

When it comes to integrating the Carla storyline, it is generally used in one of two things thus far in Burn Notice’s second season: either to allow Michael opportunities to show off various skills and technologies that aren’t really applicable to normal missions, and to serve as a distraction from his more pressing client obligations.

What we see in “Scatter Point” is both of these examples, along with some further answers about Carla’s whereabouts and Michael’s ability (or inability) to track her down. And yet, while it may distract Michael, it isn’t really distracting for the review; this episode isn’t quite as indulgent as last week’s, which offered a bit more to just kind of sit back and enjoy, but this remains an example of how Burn Notice can maintain its quality while delving into somewhat more serious storylines and with an extra hint of danger to the proceedings.

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Season Premiere: Burn Notice – “Breaking and Entering”

“Breaking and Entering”

July 9th, 2008

USA Today’s Robert Bianco, having seen the first two episodes of Burn Notice’s sophomore season, has fairly harsh words for what he views as the show’s shift in tone with the arrival of a more serialized plot development:

So what’s gone wrong? Like so many series today, Burn Notice has overburdened a fragile structure with a weighty continuing story…Unfortunately, the added depth has made the show less interesting, not more. And the time spent on the continuing story means the episodes’ capers are woefully underdeveloped.

However, after watching the premiere, I don’t really understand where he’s coming from here. He seems to argue that the tone of the series has been irrevocably changed from its previous standards, but the show was well within its comfort zone for the entire hour. Burn Notice is a show built on its clever set pieces, its charming interaction between Jeffrey Donovan and his wingpeople (Gabrielle Anwar and Bruce Campbell), and a tone that maintains humour while retaining consequence.

And if anything, the latest bump in the road for Michael Weston does all of these things – even if his trips to see his mother remain as pointless as they’ve ever been, Michael being held hostage by Tricia Helfer’s Carla is no more or less dramatic or grave than last season’s various individuals hired to kill our protagonist. For him to completely skirt the obvious danger that a burned agent as himself would be in would be much too unbelieveable.

The show has never been all about accuracy or tonal consistency, rarely proving a slave to what Bianco calls “comedy-tinged mystery.” And while I won’t argue the point that there are dangerous roads to be followed, I will argue that Burn Notice has not taken that exit: it’s still a fun and enjoyable summer series.

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The Top 12+ Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

The Top 12 Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

This post has been delayed a bit after getting captured between my new and old computers, but I think it’s for the best. When the Emmy Nominations are announced in just over a week’s time, more names will be added to this list, but what this list allows us to do is spread out the disappointment. That these contenders won’t even have a chance in front of a panel, though, is its own tragedy, and the more time I had to embrace this fact the more I realized how much this process hurts.

And it’s not that it’s not fair: while it may not always produce results I like, the current Emmy system is perhaps as close to democracy that they could possibly achieve. The reality of popular and patronage-dominated shows performing well at the Emmys will not go away anytime soon, so we should be thankful that there were some pleasant surprises as I discussed last week. But at the same time, we can’t help but feel it: that the people who were snubbed at this end of the process deserve recognition, no matter how they get it.

So, without further delay, and in no particular order, my Top 12 2008 Emmy Snubs…and let’s hope the list doesn’t grow too greatly next week.

1. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

What more does she need to do to get noticed? Britton moved herself to the supporting category to avoid juggernauts like Sally Field or Glenn Close, but at the end of the day the category proved to be even more difficult to break into unless you’re heavily featured in a popular show or an award show veteran. She gave a fantastic performance through an uneven season, the constant rock the show could lean on. She makes weak storylines solid and good storylines great, and if that’s not a great supporting actress I don’t know what is.

2. January Jones (Mad Men)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

January Jones is the victim of her series’ plot – the show’s pilot, the episode most voters would have seen, doesn’t actually feature the character of Betty Draper, revealing her existence only at episode’s end. While someone like John Slattery was able to ride his reputation to a nomination, Jones doesn’t have the name recognition and is unfairly snubbed here. She did some amazing work embodying the 60s housewife, especially in “Shoot,” and that this portrayal won’t be seen by the judges is a disservice to the ensemble nature of the series. While I’m happy for Christina Hendricks, that was Jones’ spot.

3. Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies)

Category: Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

With all three of his primary co-stars breaking into their respective Top 10 lists, forgive me for being upset that my favourite was left off. Not known for his comic work, McBride’s Emerson Cod has been a delight. He’s a knitting private detective, for cripes sake, and he has adapted maybe best of all to the witicisms and whimsy that this world entails (albeit it through cynicism and sarcasm). The shortened season robbed him of a showcase episode (We got hints of a baity fatherhood episode), something that the other actors by comparison had, but that doesn’t mean that the show’s most consistently hilarious character should get snubbed. Here’s hoping the voters smarten up for the show’s second season.

For more snubs including performers from House, Lost and Battlestar Galactica, click on through.

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