Take a deep breath, Night Shifters: It’s time for a catch-up blog, in which I get to be even more long-winded than usual…
Dean Winters (ex-oh, never mind, he’s been on just about everything in prime time…) made a return visit to LIFE ON MARS, where he played Sam’s father, Vic, alongside Jennifer Ferrin (ex-Jennifer, AS THE WORLD TURNS) as Sam’s mother, Rose. Sam’s birthday was approaching, which meant that little 1973 Sam was about to turn 4, and wanted to see his Daddy on his big day. Unfortunately, Vic was involved in a kidnapping plot — and of course adult Sam was on the case under his pseudonym, Detective Luke Skywalker. I liked Sam making an oblique QUANTUM LEAP reference when he wondered if he was “sent” to 1973 to make sure his father doesn’t go down the criminal path. How much does Sam miss his father? He sniffs the guy’s coat! But the perfect moment of the episode came when Sam recalled playing basketball as a kid — and fantasized about icons from the 1970s Knicks, including Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Phil Jackson. Sam also got some insight into father’s struggles to make ends meet and why he was constantly on the road during Sam’s childhood. And can I just compliment LIFE ON MARS for consistently employing soap actors? Last week’s cameos by Grant Aleksander (Phillip, GUIDING LIGHT) and Elizabeth Hubbard were far too brief, but welcome.
Back in the present, SUPERNATURAL built on last week’s Anna Milton’s story with the revelation that she is actually a fallen angel. A rebel in heaven, she chose to fall so she could experience human emotions. During the fall, she became separated from her angelic “Grace,” and the race was on between heaven and hell to recover that celestial power. I really enjoyed that creator Eric Kripke is willing to tackle a story about heaven and angels. It’s long been the accepted unwritten “rule” of fiction that while you can address hell and demons with impunity, viewers/readers would be “offended” if anyone tried to depict heaven. That’s garbage, and I’m glad Kripke’s series is “going there.” He has even given heaven a political structure! And even angels have to take the existence of God on faith — because only four angels have ever seen the face of God. That’s wading in with both feet!
Mark Rolston is playing lead baddie Alistair with a kind of soft-spoken Marlon Brando-inspired voice. (And when I hear the name Alistair I can’t help thinking of the late PASSIONS…)
The major revelation of the night, however, was that Dean spent 40 years in hell (because time travels at a different rate Down There), and he finally told Sam what happened. He spent 30 years being “sliced and diced” by demons, and then was restored only to begin the torture all over again. Eventually, Alistair was able to tempt Dean into ending his suffering by letting someone else take his place on the rack. So the victim became the tormentor. Alistair even noted that Dean had promise as a demon. But now Dean faces a different kind of torture: the memory of what he did. “I wish I couldn’t feel a damn thing,” he told his brother.
Raw feelings were on display in spades on DIRTY SEXY MONEY. Brian desperately wanted Andrea to fight her cancer, but she felt content to try to live with the terminal diagnosis.Nick and Lisa were having trouble getting over their separation, and in classic soap fashion, Lisa jumped to the wrong conclusion after learning Nick was talking to Karen in his office. Lisa tracked Karen to a charity ball and took a swing at her! The two mixed it up in an all-too-brief catfight before Nate literally jumped into the fray and separated them. He was brave to get between those two hellcats!
On the subject of catfights, nobody tell Mala, but I gave her treasured NCIS a pass the other night because I had the impression from promos Brenda and Kelly were going to tangle on the refurbished (but not improved) 90210. But instead of hair-pulling, I saw peer-pressure angst and product placement run amok. In fact, the products weren’t so much placed as they co-starred in the episode — complete with loving closeups. That one…texting device (no, I’m not pimping it here) almost had enough airtime to compile an Emmy reel. Shame the actual humans did not fare quite so well. Dethroned Queen Bee Naomi was reduced to playing gopher for some mean girls. Meanwhile, Annie hated being a Queen Bee and dressed up like a giant Wildcat. Tabitha’s story about Jean-Luc and the chihuahua completed the animal theme. If you ask me, the TV in the writers’ room must have been tuned to Animal Planet that week. So where was my catfight, huh? The old pals had a pretty good verbal sparring match, in which Brenda pointed out they have had nothing in common since high school. Then Brenda, who was performing in Macbeth, fell off the stage and broke her arm, precipitating the confession that she slept with Ryan. Apparently Kelly didn’t want to take on a one-armed foe, because she sniffed, sighed and walked out. (Boo!) At least the episode ended with a good song: Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.”
That tune led nicely into the sinister FRINGE, which opened with a musical prodigy being kidnapped by a mysterious woman who uses flashing colored lights to disable her victims. Luckily, Walter once did some investigation into creating a system of flashing lights that would hypnotize consumers into buying products. The advertising firm that commissioned Walter’s work was never identified, but we just know it was Sterling Cooper, right?! Walter got to get out of the lab and do some field work — by returning to St. Claire’s mental hospital to get information from a former fellow inmate.
This story gave John Noble a chance to really emote and widen his performance, and he really took advantage of the opportunity to grow in his portrayal of Walter. Strangely, he seemed more lucid inside the asylum, becoming almost a voice of reason. But Noble effectively transformed Walter’s body language into a beaten-down, broken prisoner the moment he heard the gates slam. Walter had to go inside because fellow inmate Dashiell Kim was declared 10-27 — “criminally insane with knowledge of state secrets.” After getting back out, a gravely serious Walter recalled his struggle to get through to the brain-addled Dashiell, and asked Peter a heartbreaking question: “Is that what it’s like to talk to me?”
Finally, I want to mention LIFE, which, the last I checked, is now scheduled for Wednesdays at 9 o’clock. It’s totally worth the detective work to track down this quirky cop series. When you find it, your reward will be to watch the burgeoning opposites-attract romance between hottie detective Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) and lumpy Captain Tidwell (Donal Logue). This week their halting courtship took two steps forward: They went to dinner — and the shooting range. And the gunplay-as-foreplay scene was hot! While standing in close proximity, each took a turn firing the other’s weapon, then they holstered each other’s guns. Good thing their beepers went off before there were any…er, misfires.