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Tag Archive: House MD


Strategic Operations Bureau

If you aren’t watching this season of Major Crimes, last night you likely missed the best episode of television this year, which made us do a double take as to whether this was a midseason finale special cliffhanger ratings booster.  It wasn’t.  Likewise, it was the best TV pilot we’ve seen in ages (more on that later).  And add to that one of the most satisfying conclusions that The Closer and Major Crimes writers James Duff and Mike Bercham have concocted yet.

Directed by The Closer, Major Crimes, Dallas, and NYPD Blue director Michael M. Robin, the episode “Two Options” took an almost Dragnet approach to a police procedural and crammed more drama into an hour of TV than we thought possible.  And the climax might have caused someone to claim it as the best stand-and-cheer moment since Eowyn killed the Witch-King at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reviewers write about new seasons and finale episodes all the time, but it takes a great hour of regular programming to cause you to stop in your tracks and tell everyone about it, especially in the week full of press briefings leading up to Comic-Con.

Major Crimes Two Options and SOB

For regulars of the series who haven’t watched the episode yet, we’ll just note that everyone gets his and her moment–Sharon, Louie, Andy, Mike, Julio, Buzz, Amy, Taylor, Rusty, Dr. Joe, Cooper, and even Fritz.  Although if we worked in the actual district attorneys’ office in Los Angeles we’d probably not be too happy with the portrayals of last years’ Deputy D.A. Rios or last night’s D.D.A. Gloria Lim.

That brings us to our prediction.  Allow us to summon the ghost of Carnac the Magnificent.  (Drum roll, please).

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By the borg.com Writing Staff

As the spring TV season winds down, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect back on this season’s viewing, looking at what ultimately made our “must watch” list, and what didn’t.  Look back to see our reviews, then check out our weekly lineup!

Let’s start with what didn’t make it for us:

  • The Firm.  Although we enjoyed the performances, and the overall series mystery seemed intriguing, the focus on courtroom melodrama bogged this one down.  The fatal moment, though, was an episode in which the Rules of Criminal Procedure were so wildly distorted as to kill any suspension of disbelief.  Note to courtroom drama writers: We’ve all watched twenty years of Law & Order.  You need to step up the writing if you want to succeed.
  • Terra Nova.  This series just lost us.  The pilot was serviceable and showed us the great potential the ideas behind this series had, but episodes quickly devolved into a weak combination of weekly world-destroying strawman threats (yawn) that just felt more and more incredibly contrived, and a confusing (and, IMO, un-needed) effort to create a dark, mysterious, earth-shattering plot with shadowy characters and alignments similar to the epic Lost.  The last two episodes we watched (in January) were literally painful to watch, mainly due to the largely wasted potential that a time-traveling colony in the Cretaceous era. WeI’ve heard that the last few episodes in this season showed promise, but we won’t be tuning in unless we hear some positive buzz on the show once it starts again in the fall.
  • The Killing.  This is the only show that Jason can remember where he actively rooted against it succeeding.  The first season treated viewers with such contempt for their intelligence, after a promising pilot and first couple of episodes, and that means any resolutions for the plot or characters are unimportant.

Hanging on by a Thread:

  • Once Upon a Time.  This one is still nabbed weekly by our DVR, but we missed a couple of episodes during the holidays and never bothered to get caught up again.  There was nothing really wrong with it; we were enjoying it–but other series (see below) bumped it from the tight nightly schedule.
  • Ringer.  See OUAT, above.  The ongoing soap opera gained momentum after the midseason, but ultimately fell victim to things that held our attention a little bit more.  Escalating outrageousness and cringe-inducing (in a good way!) plot twists raised the stakes for the series, so this one deserves a marathon to get caught up.
  • Falling Skies.  Our review of this summer series here at borg.com remains unchanged; we saw great potential, and though the series had its issues, it also had its positive aspects, and we’ll be tuning in this summer when episodes resume on TNT on June 17th at 9pm Eastern Time.  Hopefully the second season comes out with a bang and delivers on this series’ massive potential.  And you can catch a promising glimpse of the season opener here.
  • 30 Rock.  One of the favorites of past years, it isn’t at the top of viewing lists anymore, though if the episode focus is on Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, it can still be magic.  Because it only streams on his computer, it is tough for Jason to watch now.

So, what are the big winners this season at borg.com?

Lost Girl.  We are loving this lighthearted adult urban fantasy!  Satisfying world building based in European fairy lore combines with strong performances by the supporting cast to make this a weekly guilty pleasure.  It’s like Buffy for grownups–what Angel was trying to be, only done right.

Awake.  Launched in the same Thursday night time slot as The Firm, (which also hosted another fine debut series, Prime Suspect), this paranormal crime drama only gets better.  Jason Isaacs makes a compelling lead, and the series writers have wisely increased the genre stakes for the series, giving it extra pull.  They’re teasing the paranormal plot out very slowly, but when the moments hit, they pack a wallop.  We’re looking forward to seeing the mystery build.

Grimm.  Elizabeth’s personal favorite this season!  After a compelling pilot, this series has taken a while to get going.  But, as with Awake, they’re finally starting to really build the ongoing genre plot, adding complications to the established “monster murder of the week” formula.  New characters and a stronger focus on the otherworldly underbelly have given Grimm a much-needed boost, and we were happy to see that it’s been picked up for another season!  Friday nights just haven’t been the same without Chuck.  One thing we’d like to see more of, please: strong women characters.

New Girl.  C.J.’s favorite comedy of the past ten years and favorite series of the year.  He still cannot believe each episode is only a half an hour, since the writers crammed so much into each show.  Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is as put-upon as any classic female comedy lead in the Mary Richards variety, and is as brilliantly funny, smart and zany.  The supporting cast only got better throughout the first season, but the funny stories didn’t really explode with humor until they finally linked-up Max Greenfield’s Schmidt with Hannah Simone’s Cece.

Psych.  Still occupying the top spot in our must-watch lineup, the second half of the Psych season really delivered.  From beginning (the great season re-opener guest starring Cary Elwes) to end (that CLIFFHANGER!), with very few missteps in between (not sure what to make of “Let’s Do-Wop It Again,” with Shawn in the hospital and minus Keenan Thompson), all around, the show’s still got it.

The Walking Dead.  The second season of this series just got better and better, with deeper storylines, clever surprises, and a real aura of uncertainty around favorite characters survivability.  And the season finale was one of the best of the year (Michone!!!).  It’s the one series I simply cannot wait to resume in the fall.

Community.  This is Jason’s only show he will watch in real time.  The characters keep developing and adding depth and when the writers create a personality quirk, it is in service of character and not the story of the week.  He would visit the Greendale campus (and did as a background extra) to see all the characters, but attending Greendale would be the worst decision of his or anyone’s life except for those that want to learn to make a diorama.

House, M.D.  After Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) drove his car into Dr. Cuddy’s home we thought this series was pretty much done for.  We still had doubts that we’d need another season after House’s prison stint.  Then BAM!  This last season is on par with the best of its eight season run, especially because the writers have let Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) be Wilson, Chase (Jesse Spencer) be Chase, and Russian bride-in-name-only Dominika (Karolina Wydra) almost make it as House’s single perfect mate.  Although Charlene Yi and Odette Annable are fine as Drs. Park and Adams, the show still struggles with the one note Cameron/Thirteen replacement role.  We wish we had Amber Tamblyn back.  Although Omar Epps’s Dr. Foreman pretty much vanished, Peter Jacobson’s Dr. Taub continues to amuse to the bitter (?) end.

Fairly Legal.  Although we’ve fallen behind thanks to new diversions like Awake and Lost Girl, the sophomore season of this unusual, lighthearted legal drama continues to entertain. Star Sarah Shahi is cute and engaging (although we liked her better as a cynical cop in Life and as Gus’s adrenaline junkie girlfriend in a guest spot on Psych), even if her harried approach to life gets a little exhausting.  We’re hoping for a bigger role for Gerald McRaney this season.

In Plain Sight.  We’ve let the final season of this solid crime drama get backed up on our DVR, but from what we’ve seen so far, they’re going to round the series out nicely, with the same sharp dialogue and complex relationships that have given this series staying power despite a history of scheduling mishaps.  It’s nice to see Tangie Ambrose (Agent Parmalee) get a stronger role, Tia Carrere is always fun, and all things considered, I think everyone prefers baby Norah to Jinx and Brandi.

Parks and Recreation.  April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer and Ron Swanson continue to be three of the best characters on television.

A few other shows we’re thinking about, but haven’t mentioned here before:

  • Surburgatory. Jason has no clue what makes this interesting.  He laughs and that’s a big part.  The supporting cast (Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell (SNL) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is just so, goofy and fun. Mostly, it is earnest father and daughter relationship of the two leads, Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy.
  • Modern Family.  The second season of this award-winning series was side-splitting.  Better than the great comedic actors and fantastic use of the “mockumentary” format is the terrific writing of the scribes behind the show, particularly Jeffery Richman  & creator Steven Levitan. The stories of the three households making up the dysfunctional Modern Family intertwine effortlessly to create the funniest half-hour on network television.
  • CSI (Crime Scene Investigation).  After a dozen seasons in the bag and numerous cast changes, CSI could easily be slipping off of most people’s radar, especially with the mid-season exit of long-time favorite Marg Helgenberger.  And though it will never likely recover the viewership it enjoyed when William Peterson was on the cast, the new additions of Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue has been a breath of creative fresh air.  After missteps with recently departed cast, especially the badly conceived Dr. Ray Langston character portrayed by the excellent Lawrence Fishburne, the series seems to be back on an even keel and cranking out the crafty, clever alternative plotlines to the rote procedurals currently on the air everywhere else. Amen.
  • Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.  Only four episodes in, but having James Van Der Beek play a cartoon version of himself, keeps paying funny dividends.  If that lasts, this will be a keeper.
  • Mad Men.  Jason got rid of his cable and finding this show in a legal manner can be tough, but he knows it is worth it.
  • Archer.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy spy situations or give me death!”
  • Bob’s Burgers.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy burger joint situations or give me death!”

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you have yet to recover from Mardi Gras, you’ve a yen for more jambalaya and gumbo, and you didn’t find the baby in your king cake, there may be hope for you yet.  Consider it another strand of purple, green and gold beads, if you will.

In case you missed it, 2011 was a banner year for Hugh Laurie.  Depending on where you’re from and what medium you lean on the most, you may know Hugh Laurie as the brooding genius doctor who entered his eighth season on House, M.D.  If you’re an Anglophile you may know him as part of a classic comic duo on the British series A Bit of Frye and Laurie, who then performed piano and sang as part of a vaudeville revival in Peter’s Friends, and performed various characters in various Blackadder series.  Costume drama types may know him as Mr. Palmer, one of the best performances in Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility.  Or if you’ve really been following Mr. Laurie you might have read his 1998 spy novel The Gun Seller, Laurie’s first foray into fiction writing.

But what connects all this to February in Louisiana is Laurie’s debut album of soulful jazz, New Orleans blues singing and old-time piano playing.  Let Them Talk is an album you wouldn’t expect from a British actor, who speaks in real-life with an accent as English as they come.  Of course, some would be surprised from his perfectly done American accent on House, M.D., that Laurie is even British at all.  Adding certified blues musician to his bag of tricks as actor, comedian, and author, Laurie proved himself from all angles to be a true renaissance man.

Actors excel at “faking it.”  They get to pose as anyone else, and just as Laurie can play 19th century gentleman and modern new England doctor-turned-ex con, it may be no surprise that Laurie could fake it as a musician.  Yet, faking it is no where close to what is going on with Laurie and Let Them Talk.  Not only is Laurie a spirited pianist and guitar player who knows his stuff, he also knows what good blues is all about and you just can’t fake soulful sounds like Laurie was able to record onto this album.

As New Orleans blues is concerned, Laurie will fully admit he doesn’t have the street cred to begin with.  As he states in the liner notes to the album, “I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south…. If you care about pedigree then you should try elsewhere, because I have nothing in your size.”

Yet Laurie proves that a life-long love of a genre plus skill can equal if not the real thing, then something pretty darned close.  Laurie can quote numerous influences and idols from classic jazz and blues, but his singing favorites he narrows to Ray Charles and Bessie Smith.  At times, you can hear Laurie and his soul-sister/vocalists conjure up the sounds of both on this album.

His choice of music is a mix of gritty and street gospel.

With St. James Infirmary is a familiar tune played here with a classical twist that moves into a down-and-out anthem of despair straight out of the Great Depression.  Laurie then sweeps into a honky tonk romp with a Cab Calloway-vibed back-up band.

You Don’t Know My Mind is a party of pure zydeco rhythms.  Laurie’s vocalizations are as strong and powerful as any singer then or now, and his sound and feel echo a bit of Tom Petty when Petty has dabbled off the beaten track from Southern rock.  A pretty cool duet those two would make.

Not surprisingly Six Cold Feet is Laurie at smooth traditional blues with a nice sultry saxophone beckoning the listener to some ill fate at the crossroads ahead.

Buddy Bolden’s Blues is as classic blues as it gets, and Laurie hilariously shows he can play a great Leon Redbone (or maybe it’s just Laurie and Redbone both reaching back for inspiration from the same old singers?

In the next song on the playlist Laurie may have created a contender for best-ever version of Battle of Jericho thanks in part to Jean McClain and Gennine Jackson’s soulful background echoes.  The ever-building spiritual is sure to stick with you long after your first encounter and beckon you back for more.

Laurie’s meandering piano takes backseat on After You’ve Gone to Mac Rebennack’s rousing sounds, accompanied nicely by Robby Marshall on clarinet.

Laurie takes Stephen Foster’s Old Folks at Home and mixes honky tonk piano with early vestiges of Chuck Berry in his version he calls Swanee River, sneaking in from outta nowhere an Italian virtuoso violin sound that twists itself into a “devil down in Georgia” wrap-up at the end.

In John Henry Laurie sings back-up vocals to Irma Thomas.  In a lot of albums you can get annoyed when the featured performer steps away and other performers take over.  Not so on this album.  Laurie’s deference of sorts is well placed and well timed and his selection of performers is well made.  If Laurie’s album is credible, it’s in part to the sharing of roles between the singers and instrumentalists on each song.

If Police Dog Blues, Winin’ Boy Blues and the Whale Has Swallowed Me show off Laurie’s voice as the featured musical element, Tipitina is Laurie showing off his best piano playing.  It’s that master playing you see Laurie performing in Peter’s Friends and at the tail end of select episodes of House, M.D.

That's one bad hat, Laurie

They’re Red Hot is Laurie performing a quick-paced (and short) Robert Johnson tune, which is bound to be fun to hear in-person in concert.  (Check out his website for a list of concert dates stretching up the West Coast beginning in May).  Baby, Please Make a Change features Sir Tom Jones in a solid Louisiana blues tune.

Finally, the title song Let Them Talk features Laurie almost quietly poking fun at himself and the audience that may be skeptical of an Englishman delving into the taboo classic sounds of The Blues (how dare he!).  It’s a nice finale and reminds this listener of the piano playing and singing of Billy Joel on Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

Maybe best of all, Laurie’s reverence for this genre of music brings together honest and modern interpretations of traditional folk songs, spirituals and blues, all with deep American roots, and manages to offer a fresh and entertaining collection to accompany you as you while away the weekend on your porch with a cold glass of lemonade or sweet tea.  If Laurie is a faker, he’s a faker of the best kind.

Let Them Talk is available everywhere records are sold, online and at certain Starbucks coffee houses.

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