MAD MEN 4.9: The Beautiful Girls

This week’s MAD MEN was all about the ladies, and the myriad ways these diverse females – from daughter Sally to colleague Peggy to lover Faye to crusty matron Miss Blankenship – find to vex Don.

Nothing like a little roll in the hay, and Don (Jon Hamm) and Faye (Cara Buono) wreck his place – or at least a lamp. Unbelievably, he has to leave to meet officials from a laxative company. She prefers to keep her afternoon confidential, suggesting building a “Chinese wall.” (That means she wants to maintain a strict separation between their fiefdoms.
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NIKITA 1.2: 2.0

This episode of NIKITA had something of a split personality, which was fitting, considering that it told two stories; one set in the present, and one dredged from the past.

In the present, Percy (Xander Berkley) had hired out Division as a protection service for war criminal Mirko Dadich (Kristof Konrad). Division is supposedly holding Dadich in “protective custody” while he awaits trial, but Percy is after nuclear materials that Dadich hid before being arrested. Percy also engaged in literal pimping, when he ordered Michael (Shane West) to procure one of the young female trainees to serve as a… er, companion for Dadich, who was fresh out of prison and feeling a bit…frustrated. Michael took it upon himself to pull Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) out of class, had Amanda (Melinda Clarke) doll her up, and then delivered Alex into the lion’s den. A smart kid, Alex quickly realized what was expected of her, and she managed to alert Nikita (Maggie Q) that Dadich, the very target Nikita had been hunting on her own, was in the room with her.
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Sarah Jane and Jo: Together Again for the First Time!

Details are leaking out about “The Death of the Doctor,” a two-part story to air in the forthcoming fourth series of THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES that will feature guest appearances by Matt Smith as the Doctor and Katy Manning reprising her role as Jo Grant, erstwhile assistant to the Third Doctor, appearing alongside series star Elisabeth Sladen.

The official story synopsis reads as follows:

“When the Doctor is declared dead, old companions Sarah Jane and Jo Grant meet for the very first time, and join forces to discover the truth. As an interstellar conspiracy gathers around UNIT HQ, Clyde finds that he holds the fate of the Time Lord in his hand – quite literally.”

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HELLCATS 1.2: I Say a Little Prayer

HELLCATS upped its game this week when it wasted no time diving into the backstories of its two leads, Marti and Savannah, showing just how similar they are by contrasting their problems with their mothers.

As the qualifier tournament began, Marti (Alyson Michalka) was horrified to discover that her mother, Wanda (Gail O’Grady) was trying to get backstage, which really freaked out Marti. Which was what Alice (Heather Hemmens) had in mind. Which horrified Lewis (Robbie Jones), who realized that Alice was not only mucking with Marti, she was endangering everyone’s scholarships. Which Alice didn’t care about, because she’s a trust-fund baby who doesn’t need any scholarship. Alice needed revenge against Savannah (Ashley Tisdale), because Alice was in line for the captaincy before Savannah transferred in.
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SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA 21.1: Young at Heart

There was something about the premiere of SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA that immediately put me off, and I’m damned if I can figure out what it was. I simply was not real interested. I suppose it’s because no one in this cast was immediately colorful enough to capture my attention. This bloodless group has the misfortune of following up probably the best season ever, SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS. That one was packed with larger-than-life personalities. Everybody in this edition – with the exception of Coach Jimmy Johnson – seems rather bland. Even the location felt non-descript: a generic seaside beach that looked interchangeable with any of the previous seasons’ tropical settings.
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COVERT AFFAIRS 1.11: When the Levee Breaks

The second hour was not really a “dramatic finale” of a two-parter so much as the denouement of the season as a whole. But there was a recurring theme in both hours: each episode began with seemingly mild-mannered men running for their lives. In the opening hour, it was that pharmacist/mule at the airport. And in this installment, it was a science teacher at a private school in Hong Kong.

Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey) was not doing any running when he surrendered himself at Langley. “My name is Ben Mercer. I’m a former CIA operative,” he declared. “I want to come in from the cold.” He didn’t exactly get the cold shoulder after two years in the wind, but his reception was hardly heart-warming. He was immediately strapped into a polygraph. Please. As if a superspy like Ben would even break a sweat beating such a phony and useless device.
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COVERT AFFAIRS 1.10: I Can’t Quit You Baby

The so-called two-hour finale of COVERT AFFAIRS was actually two separate, back-to-back episodes, so it’s only fair to address them individually. You can read my impressions of the actual final hour here. But in the opening hour, Annie was sent to London in order to become a “mark” and get recruited into a smuggling operation.

But before that, Annie (Piper Perabo) agreed to a much more dangerous mission: conducting a field trip for her niece Chloe and 30 other third-graders at the Smithsonian, where Annie supposedly works. After spending much of the episode trying to convince Annie to bail on the outing, and how much he dislikes children, Auggie (Chris Gorham) predictably ended up stepping in and guiding/playing with the kids when Annie was stuck in London. Wow, irony sure is a cruel mistress, eh, Auggie?
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MAD MEN 4.8: The Summer Man

Is Don getting a clue? This week he seemed intent on cleaning up his act in general, and sobering up in particular. He even started keeping a journal. I immediately wondered if this was part of some organized get-sober campaign, but perhaps he was inspired by discovering that Roger is writing a book. Anyway, as Don struggled to redefine his place in the world, Joan tried to hold on to spot in the SCDP hierarchy.

Don (Jon Hamm) wrote his journal longhand because typing felt like work (Don’t I know it, brother!). “Gain a modicum of control over the way I feel. I wanna wake up.” One of his first observations: They say as soon as you have to cut down on drinking, you have a drinking problem. As I have been noting all season, he certainly has been losing his touch. Throughout the episode, Don was aware of people drinking casually at the office; aware of the bottles on his sideboard. He tried to resist with coffee. It seems that he also began swimming, at the New York Athletic Club (a real place; an uncle of mine used to work there), but he was coughing after swimming just one pool length. Undaunted, he fired up a smoke the second he stepped outside the building. And since this is 1965, waiting until he was out of the building was actually a remarkable act of restraint.
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NIKITA 1.1: Pilot

If the third time’s the charm, what does that make the fourth time around – old hat? The latest iteration of Nikita (a.k.a. La Femme Nikita) takes the form of NIKITA on The CW. And while it is one heckuva sleek and sexy form, we’ve seen all before – and some of it (much) better.

The basic skeleton of the story remains the same as French writer/director Luc Besson created for the silver screen in 1990’s Nikita: A drug-addicted street kid (Anne Parillaud) is arrested for killing a police officer and sentenced to death. But a secret government agency sees something in the amoral girl, fakes her death and spirits her to a secret facility where she is instructed in everything from how to kill with her bare hands to which fork to use at a dinner party. Then she sent out on missions as a covert assassin codenamed Nikita. She falls in love with her cover and the man is executed by her government handlers, causing Nikita to rebel and escape. With a few variations, those events play out in the 1993 American remake Point of No Return (which inexplicably designated Bridget Fonda’s assassin “Nina”) and the TV series LA FEMME NIKITA, which ran for five seasons on USA and posited that Peta Wilson’s Nikita was wrongly accused of killing the cop.
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HELLCATS 1.1: A World Full of Strangers

For a world full of strangers, there was an awful lot about HELLCATS that was familiar. It would be easy to compare The CW’s new cheerleader drama to ABC Family’s MAKE IT OR BREAK IT — so I will. Provided I can also point out the similarities to Fox’s GLEE.

HELLCATS follows Marti Perkins (Alyson Michalka, of the pop group 78violet) a hard-working law student on scholarship at Lancer University who is so poor that she has to ride her bike everywhere (What, you thought she was just being green?) Marti’s opening narration tells us that she depends her scholarship for tuition and housing, so when it is canceled (for reasons that were never quite clear to me) she’s in a bad way. Directed by the campus to look into “unconventional scholarships” from “odd little groups,” Marti discovers that a cheerleading scholarship is available — and the Lancers coincidentally just lost Alice (Heather Hemmens), one of their flyers.
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