Browncoats Unite!

Comic-Con International: San Diego 2012 has come up with the first bit of good news for Browncoats in as long as I can remember: The creators of the cult series Firefly will gather for a 10-year reunion in San Diego — and the Science Channel will tape it for a one-hour special to air on Nov. 11.

I know what you’re thinking: The Science Channel? Well, they’ve been airing reruns for the last year or so, and piling up gangbuster ratings, so they figured it was worth the investment to dish up a little treat for its loyal Browncoats.
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NBC buys Wonder Woman TV pilot

Could this be the real reason that Wonder Woman was redesigned last year to wear the leather jacket and black tights I don’t like? Deadline reports that NBC has picked up David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman pilot. At this point, this does not mean that an actual series will be on the air this fall, just that NBC has agreed to pay for a pilot and has the option to go to series.

No one (except Kelley, of course) knows what WW will wear yet, but the description of the show argues against her wearing the traditional star-spangled bathing suit, since this is a reimagined version of the character. Her current costume certainly is more realistic, and would be far more forgiving for any real actress to wear and perform stunts in. (Then again, Lynda Carter managed just fine on ABC’s THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WONDER WOMAN from 1975-’79.) Also, there is no mention made of Diana originating on Paradise Island. The synopsis given goes like this:

“A reinvention of the iconic DC comic in which Wonder Woman — aka Diana Prince — is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life.”

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THE CAPE 1.1, 1.2: Pilot/Tarot

I was prepared to hate NBC’s newest superhero series, THE CAPE. After all, it looked pretty campy, and I just happen to hate circus settings, so things did not look good at the start. Luckily, THE CAPE improved steadily over the course of its inaugural hour.

THE CAPE is refreshingly free of overt camp and snarkiness; at least the initial two hours played the story straight. And the tale was a surprisingly straightforward superhero origin tale: Vince Faraday (David Lyons) was a cop wrongly accused of a crime, and then presumed dead in one of those amazingly unlikely explosions in which no body is found. But he survived, and undertook special training with a mentor to mold himself into a living weapon to strike at his nemesis, corporate mogul Peter Fleming (James Frain) a man so powerful he is untouchable by conventional justice. Vince keeps his true identity a secret in order to protect his loved ones from that menace (who has a sort of villain name of his own, being known as the murderer “Chess”), and yearns to clear his name so his son can grow up proud. That’s a lot of comic baggage for one show. Toss in a sexy sidekick, and you have a TV show.
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Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 12/16/08

HEROES wrapped the first half of its season last night, with Sylar in control of the Primatech complex and determined to show HRG, Claire, Meredith and Angela who the real villains are. But the good guys were determined not to go down easy; Claire revealed that her healing power could be negated by sticking something into the back of her brain, and suggested Sylar should have the same vulnerability. HRG/Noah set other bad guys (including the Puppeteer) free from Level 5 to act as chum for Sylar, but ended up trapped in a cell himself alongside Meredith, who was losing control of her fire power (thanks to an adrenaline injection from, of course, Sylar). Meanwhile, Sylar confronted his “mother” Angela, and in an inversion of the classic Marlon Brando line from On the Waterfront, lamented, “I coulda been a nobody, instead of the monster I became.” 

Ando also was not happy with his current state. Wanting to save his friend Hiro, who was trapped 16 years in the past, Ando injected himself with Mohinder’s power serum, hoping that desire would influence the power he would get. My problem was, Ando getting powers completely ruined what was cool about him — namely, that he was “just” human. He was the sidekick who kept the self-styled “master of time and space” Hiro grounded. Ando was the real person, who served as counterweight to the flashy powered people. Ando ended up with the power to supercharge other abilities, but to me he simply got the ability to negate his own uniqueness. “Yatta!” he crowed, while I cringed. One of the reasons HRG is my favorite character is that he knows he’s human but doesn’t let that slow him down. He’s still awesome. He knows what a literal monster Sylar is, yet he doesn’t hesitate to go after him with just his wits and handgun. (At least Claire’s tip gave him something to work with; though I find it remarkable that Noah didn’t know about the “sweet spot” in the back of the brain!) Claire’s Daddy complex was dramatized by her bid to save HRG from the cell, even though she knew it was a trap. (She also wanted to save her biological mother, Meredith, too, just not really as much). And Noah is no dummy, which is why he realized the glass of the cell was bulletproof but not heatproof. (Luckily, they were not locked in Flint’s old cell, which did have heatproof glass). Will Noah’s 29297 code become a cult number, like the ones from LOST

Some random observations:
•Daphne’s quip, “Back in a flash!” was an obvious shout-out to DC Comics’ Flash, the “fastest man alive,” who routinely used his superspeed to travel in time (albeit usually with a “cosmic treadmill”).
•It was great to see the wonderful George Takei back as Kaito, and to learn how the formula got torn to begin with.
•Ando (and Daphne) rescued Hiro, thus bookending the volume – which began with Hiro fearing that Ando would kill him in the future, but ended with Ando saving him in the past.
•Loved Tracy calling Hiro “Pickachu,” and then him punching her out. hated Tracy picking up Mohinder by the side of the road at the end.
•Recognizing that Nathan is in trouble and for some reason not flying away, Peter injected himself with the formula to restore his powers. Like how Nathan pointed out that went against everything Peter was arguing.
•At least we know Sylar is not a Petrelli after all. The house was getting crowded with sudden offspring. 
•Claire should know that removing the glass from the sweet spot will revive Sylar, so she should make sure it stays there. (Unless the exploding Meredith jarred it loose.) 

So what was the final body count?
•Arthur Petrelli (still dead, but is it permanent?).
•Meredith (Death by fire? Really?).
•Knox.
•Puppetmaster.
•Supersoldier.
•Doyle (metal man).
•Echo De Mille (played by GENERAL HOSPITAL vet Kiko Ellsworth).
•Sylar. For now. Until the glass shard is pulled out of his brain.
•Primatech Paper. 

Volume 4: “Fugitives” kicked off right away. Jumping ahead three weeks, Nathan went to the president (played by STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION‘s Michael Dorn), to get government authorization to round up people with abilities and put them in camps. And President Worf actually went for it! The previews of the “new season,” which starts Feb. 2, shows abnormals trussed up in orange jump suits and hoods like prisoners at Gitmo! From “heroes” to dehumanized sheep…. 

Loss of humanity — or, perhaps more accurately, lack of humanity – was a theme on the winter finale to TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. T:SCC is supposed to be about saving humanity from extinction, but I perceive precious little humanity on the show. Perhaps I don’t watch regularly enough to pick up on the nuances. For instance, Riley’s story is mitigated by Jesse’s cruelty — is Jesse supposed to be an example of becoming what you hate so much? Losing her humanity to protect mankind? Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen (ex-Kendra, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) returned as Jesse, who revealed she brought Riley back from the future in order to lure John away from “her.” But is that Cameron or Sarah? Jesse slapped Riley around, which further makes her a monster. When Riley slit her wrists, she was trying to take away her own humanity. See the theme? Ellison was contracted by Catherine to teach the terminator now known as John Henry right from wrong. Ellison knows the toaster is a pitiless killing machine, yet he still engages it? We also got a bit of backstory as Ellison revealed his wife had secretly…er, terminated a pregnancy. 

Sarah pursued a woman with her own secret: Eileen was a woman using the online identity “Abraham” — or was she? Actually, “she” was a man living as a woman to hide from the mysterious forces that wanted to silence her blog. I suppose there could be another message about humanity there, but I think it was just overly complicated. What was important was Eileen’s observation that Sarah cannot feel the fear of almost dying anymore. She’s she mother of the future of mankind, but is she losing her humanity? That’s a question worth pursuing. Sarah followed Eileen’s clues to a warehouse in the desert, where she kills a guy pretending to be an air-conditioning installer, but not before getting herself shot in the leg. (Can I just point out how much I hate the cliché of having two characters wrestle for a gun that then goes off between them, so viewers are supposed to wonder who got shot. Hint: It ain’t the hero!) Anyway, Sarah dragged herself out the front door and looked into the sky to see what appeared to be a prototype of the Hunter-Seekers we see in the nightmare future. The show ended with a poorly edited sequence of Sarah wincing under bright lights for several moments before passing out. Was that supposed to make me want to turn in again come January? It was a disappointing wrap. 

SURVIVOR: GABON — EARTH’S LAST EDEN wrapped Sunday night with Bob, the physics teacher from Portland, Maine, winning the $1 million over Sugar and Susie. This was the first time three finalists pleaded their cases to the jury. Corinne carved a place for herself in SURVIVOR history with a self-consciously mean-spirited, spiteful screed for Sugar, calling into question Sugar’s sincerity about grieving for her late father. Despite Bob’s dominance of the late-game challenges, his win turned out to be a real… well, survivor’s story, because he literally survived an ouster vote. He tied with Matty and so they had a one-on-one fire-making challenge, which Bob won. He then went on to triumph before the particularly venomous jury this season. Not a bad season, but nothing to really set it apart as particularly memorable. Except that it was light-years ahead of SURVIVOR: AFRICA, which was terminally dull.

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 10/7/08

So I decided it’s time to check in with TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (time…get it? Ah, never mind.) If I didn’t know better I would think this show was taking cues from Sunday night’s MAD MEN, with its mother fixation. Sarah had to act as substitute mom for Marty, a child she rescued from a terminator. Unfortunately, once you get past her specialties — making stacks of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and pumping shotguns one-handed — Sarah doesn’t really have much to offer. As Marty himself noted, “You kinda suck at it.” Still, the frightened little boy inspired her enough that by the end of the episode she’d uncovered enough hidden reserves of maternal instinct to comfort Marty as he read scary passages from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (even if she was uncomfortable with his hug). John also is growing more confident; in his case, he’s marching toward becoming the savior of mankind. I like this season’s less-sniveling version of John. He’s taking charge and making decisions, and his mom is deferring to him. Cameron had nothing to do this week, as the emphasis was on John and Uncle Derek, who “introduced” John to Martin Bedell, whom Derek remembered will be an important ally of John’s in the future. (I love writing about time travel because it often calls for such strange sentences!) Derek’s flashbacks also gave us more glimpses of the future, including John’s Daddy, Kyle, once again played by former GENERAL HOSPITAL LuckyJonathan Jackson. Not only does Jackson sort of resemble Michael Biehn, who played him in the movie, I noticed for the first time that Jackson actually kind of sounds like him, too.

Catherine was back again. Shirley Manson‘s Scottish accent kept creeping into her dialogue, but I guess one could argue that a cyborg could be forgiven for having trouble mastering dialect. (Then again, it’s supposed to have a computer for a brain, right?) When the liquid menace changed shape to kill off employees of the nuclear power plant, Bobbi Sue Luther played that version of the T-1001. She was actually credited as “Bar Skank” for her trouble! (But that may not be her most unusual credit: If you imagine her with green skin, you might recognize her as the Orion Slave Girl from STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE.) Juxtaposing the final battle against a non-Cromartie T-888 with Marty reading from Oz really worked, because the passage was pretty creepy (dealing with the eye-plucking crows and flying monkeys). Did you catch that John used “Baum” — as in L. Frank Baum, creator of “Oz,” — for his fake identity? Guess that book really was his favorite.

Which brings me to one of my favorite shows, HEROES. This episode was pretty dense with plot, meaning a lot happened. Future Peter showed “our” Peter the world of tomorrow, overrun by super-powered beings thanks to a formula created by someone in the present day. Was it Mohinder or the person who had the formula stolen? In the present, Dr. Suresh was re-enacting The Fly for us, his body mutating as a result of experimenting on himself. In the future, Mohinder hides behind a big hoodie, so presumably the mutation really messes him up.

In that future, Claire capped Peter (with the Hatitian’s help). “Our” Peter absorbed Sylar’s power, which led to the major revelation of the season, as far as I’m concerned: an explanation of Sylar’s power! He has the ability to “know how things work.” Which explains why he was rooting around in Claire’s brain — he was figuring out how it worked. Remember how happy he was when he appeared to find something, and then absorbed her power? He was figuring her out. I’m not sure what fixing the watch really had to do with Peter’s assuming the power (especially since it was a matter of repairing two gears), but perhaps it was simply a way to focus. And it was revealed that Sylar’s power comes with an all-consuming hunger to learn how things work — meaning Sylar kills because he is driven to it by his ability. And now Peter has that compulsion, as brother Nathan learned, the hard way! Speaking of Nathan, once again he was president in the future. I’m getting the feeling this guy isdestined to be prez!

Other revelations from the future: Knox gets his strength from absorbing fear. Future Sylar insists on being called Gabriel and has a son called Noah. (Who’s the mommy?) Matt and Daphne are married and have a daughter(!). And Gabriel will blow up Costa Verde, Calif., apparently killing Knox and causing Daphne to die in Matt’s arms, like the painting indicates. Claire and Peter survived because they cannot die, but did Gabriel make it? The explosion came right at a break, and I confess the ensuing Lexus commercial thoroughly confused me, because it depicted a salvage operation at a disaster site that could have been Costa Verde. I wonder if that was fortuitous or planned. The boys at MAD MEN would know… In the present, we learned that Tracy has identical sisters named Nikki and Barbara, and Dr. Zimmerman claimed he manipulated their DNA to give them powers. Elsewhere, Angela manipulated Hiro and Ando into unearthing Adam — who was not happy. Well, who would be, after being buried alive for who knows how long?

LIFE opened with the discovery of a scientist who had been frozen solid by liquid nitrogen. The big visual moment — Crews accidentally shatters the poor guy — was sort of anticlimactic, because we just saw the exact same thing during the HEROES recap. But a frozen corpse is just the sort of quirky crime MacGuffin I’ve come to expect from LIFE, which started the season with a series of bodies stuffed into trunks. This week’s colorful characters included animal-rights activists who wore leather shoes made from human skin (“Jim shoes”). Last night was Reese’s turn for some important stuff — she finally asked her father directly if he sent an innocent man (meaning Charlie) to jail. When he threw her out without denying it, she faced a devastating realization. Sarah Shahi did a nice job demonstrating anger, disappointment and consternation, and when a distraught Reese somehow managed to snag her hair in the car door, I think I fell in love a little. From my perspective, LIFE will now be about tougher-than-nails, sultry Det. Dani Reese and her trusty redheaded sidekick. That’s life.

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 9/16/08

How many of you are waiting for a member of the royal family to sweep you off your feet? It looked like GOSSIP GIRL‘s Blair was going to get that chance, but all was not right in romance department. It appeared that Marcus was more interested in taking on the mantle of lord of the manor than assuming the position with his girlfriend — and we already know Blair is not interested in being “queen of her castle.” It was interesting that Vanessa is getting romantic advice from a 14-year-old. But I guess that’s better than Nate getting money from Sugar Mommy Catherine. As for what she’s getting from Nate…well, this is a family blog…. But I can mention the agita she got from seeing her boy toy embracing Vanessa on the street. The streetside embrace between Serena and Dan was also witnessed — by a little spy (sorry, contributor) to the Gossip Girl web site, who flashed a cell-phone snap of LonelyBoy smooching S. all over the “interwebs.” Blair was not happy because, in a moment of clarity, she pointed out that Dan and Serena’s issues were not settled. (In fact, they hadn’t even been discussed!) 

Speaking of things that cannot be discussed, the infamous Chuck Bass was having a little problem with the ol’ internal plumbing, and tried calling in a “contractor” from Japan, but she was unable to get him…er, unclogged. Serena diagnosed the problem as fallout from his emotional attachment to Blair, but Chuck wasn’t buying it. “I don’t have a romantic bone in my body,” he sneered, as he plotted to hook up with Blair one last time. “You are not using Blair as sexual Drano,” Serena shouted. But who says no to Chuck Bass? Certainly not Nate, who returned to his newly-minted BFF, cap-in-hand, to beg for the cash infusion he had earlier spurned. Nate obviously was not the suitor Chuck had wanted to come crawling back, but the whole unsavory incident was worth it to see Chuck puffing on…something…while literally wearing a smoking jacket. 

Another hilarious scene came when three tween girls confronted Dan after reading about his reunion with S. on GG. They were a microcosm of fandom — and a good-natured tweak from the show. It’s nice to know the-powers-that-be don’t take themselves too seriously. One thing I take seriously is cliché abuse, and while I was extremely disappointed to see the ol’ stuck-in-the-elevator gambit, I was heartened that the show didn’t wait until someone was pregnant to cut the power to the lift. And extra credit for Serena insisting that Dan drop her name with building security to get them sprung faster. What’s in a name? Apparently, rescue squads. 

A name also has power in the fashion world — at least when that name is Eleanor Waldorf (welcome back, Margaret Colin, ex-Margo, AS THE WORLD TURNS). Little J learned that the hard way. She also learned that while she has spunk, Eleanor hates spunk! At least she did, at first. Later, in the dark with Jenny holding a flashlight, the fashion mogul admitted she fears going out of style, and even took Little J’s suggestions to heart. (Eleanor must be a fan of the movie Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension, in which Dr. Lizardo says, “Character is what you are in the dark!”). 

One character who is really growing on me is Jessica Szohr‘s Vanessa. For the second week in a row I felt really bad for her; she’s the loyal friend who’s there to backstop her pals, but overlooked when nobody needs to be picked up and dusted off. She patiently listened to Nate’s tale of prostituting himself for the sake of his family, but didn’t judge him. She went on to concede him to Catherine so that the naughty Duchess would not send Nate’s father to jail out of spite. Vanessa obviously does not have a spiteful bone in her body. 

Vengeance was also in short supply on ONE TREE HILL, where the characters dealt with last week’s shocking murder of Quentin. The most important/difficult part was telling little Jamie that his buddy was gone forever. Haley and Nathan told him that Q went to heaven, but Jamie did not understand — meaning he was not being treated like a standard precocious TV kid. (Plenty of other shows would have had the 5-year-old cracking wise.) Instead, Jamie was sad, but still seemed a bit uncomprehending of the full magnitude of the situation. (How could he understand?) His scenes with Dre were touching and age-appropriate — and the bit where Jamie gave him his brother’s jersey was oh-so-OTH: anvils away! 

The rest of the show was your standard death episode, with various characters feeling guilty about not being there to help, good times deferred and things left unsaid. Brooke, in the throes of an existential crisis of her own, held the “life sucks and then you die” position. Are we supposed to believe that the gang is still buying sullen Brooke’s story about falling down the stairs? She gets her face caved in, turns into a virtual hermit who wants to trash her store’s inventory and spouts reams of crime data — but she fell down the stairs? She refuses to wear makeup to cover her disfigurement — one might expect her to want to hide an embarrassing reminder of her clumsiness, whereas Brooke flaunts her scars like a badge of (dis)honor. That freaky mirror makes her seem even more like the Joker! But it was no laughing matter when she stood with Jamie while he draped his homemade cape over Quentin’s coffin. I predicted last week that Q would be buried with the cape that Jamie was making, so that’s a win for me, if not OTH. 

I despise the fact that Q was killed, but from a storytelling standpoint it was textbook: Let the audience gradually get to know a character, then take him away after we learn to care about him. Conversely, the only thing I care about in the Grandpa Dan/Nanny Carrie debacle is that they somehow manage to kill each other. I don’t care about Carrie’s dead son (if that is indeed the secret in that grave) and her loss is no excuse for stealing another mother’s child. I also didn’t care about the new girl, Samantha Walker a.k.a. the Shoplifter. The anarchy seal prominently displayed on her backpack is too in-your-face, but oh, so OTH. Could her raw talent for writing mark her as the spiritual successor to Q — another lost bird, this one to be nurtured more by Haley? 

And, finally, how ironic was it that a technical snafu prevented me from taping/viewing TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES? Very. I missed the debut of Leven Rambin (ex-Lily, ALL MY CHILDREN) as Riley, John’s new love interest. Can she possibly compete with Cameron for his affection? Will my VCR reveal itself to be a disguised liquid-metal T-1001 bent on driving me insane? Tune in next week…

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 9/9/08

“Dan and the mother are in a book club? Now there’s a novel twist.” — Gossip Girl

This was a funny episode of GOSSIP GIRL, thanks to lines like the above, and the show’s willingness to take Blair down a peg or two. While she went to great lengths in her quest to become the “consort” to Lord Marcus, she remained unwilling (or unable) to surrender in her battle with Chuck. So fans got to see obsequious Blair and Queen B Blair. Chuck and Blair plotting and manipulating at cross-purposes? That’s how true villains make love — none of this “I’ll bring her pretty flowers” sensitive nonsense. Chuck pulling the rug out from under buddy Nate by offering the family money —that’s the Chuck we love to hate. Chuck banked on Blair not knowing Marcus’ mother (a.k.a. the Duchess). And, thanks to clever plotting (actually, storytelling born of miraculous coincidence…we’d never been told about his parents, so they could have been anyone) he introduced her to the Duchess, providing Blair the chance to put her expensively-shod foot in her mouth — twice. Turned out Catherine (the well-preserved Madchen Amick, once TWIN PEAKS’ battered Shelly) is Marcus’ stepmom — and the older woman Nate is…er, servicing. And Catherine has a sharp tongue, as when she told Blair Marcus would never end up with “a lowly Waldorf.” The look of utter shock on Leighton Meester‘s face was worth the price of admission. And when she spotted Nate and Catherine rolling around on the library floor, Blair’s crying of “Oh, my Effing God!” actually sounded believable. And believe that Blair the Queen B — as in Bitch — is back. Her eyes bore holes in Chuck as she hissed “You lose,” after turning the tables on his plan. Finally, can Dan please get Serena a box of chocolate-covered strawberries every week?

The thing to remember about the second-season premiere of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES is, it was never the plan for this episode to be a season-opener — that’s just the slot where things got jammed up by the writers’ strike. Rather than return with just a couple of episodes, the-powers-that-be decided to hold the leftovers and add them to the new fall season. But since the last-aired episode ended on a cliff-hanger, they had to use the follow-up episode.

Now, no one expected a chintzy little car bomb to take out Cameron, but it did have the effect of rebooting her programming to its original mission, namely, terminating John Connor. This was bound to happen sooner or later, and on one level I’m glad the producers got the story out of the way. On the other hand, the tale did feel more than a little rushed. Essentially one long chase, the episode ironically opened with too much slow-motion and confusing editing. Eventually, Sarah and John managed to trap Cameron, and in the only scene of real acting in the story, Cam (Summer Glau) begged John not to deactivate her, pleading, “I don’t want to go,” and, “I love you.” She almost had him convinced until she miscalculated with the “love” line. (How ironic for a computer to miscalculate!) John looked like he wanted to believe her, and, yeah, she’s hot, but she is, y’know, a robot. (Naturally, one wonders why SkyNet was churning out terminators that look like cute girls, but apparently even in the future sex sells.) John resisted her ploy and de-chipped her — only to plug her back in instead of destroying her. Apparently, John is the “Terminator Whisperer,” because his puppy-dog eyes (plus a little timely tinkering with a screwdriver) convinced Cam to override her Terminatrix imperative and go back to protecting him. So, will this be the technique that FutureJohn uses to reprogram all the terminators he sends back to protect himself?

The most significant development was the introduction of a new Big Bad, in the form of Shirley Manson, lead singer for the band Garbage. At first she appeared to be a mysterious, hot-tempered Irish woman. Then she revealed herself to be a urinal — that is, a liquid-metal terminator disguised as a urinal. She’s probably a T-1000, but we’ll have to wait to see if she’s a more-advanced T-X. Though it was a surprise to see the upgraded model unveiled in this episode, I knew it was only a matter of time before SkyNet stopped trusting the job to clunky old T-800s and stepped up to the newer models.

ONE TREE HILL took a step backward this week with a dark, sad episode that featured the ugly story of Brooke getting beaten in her store and Grandpa Dan battling Nanny Carrie in the battle of “Why Won’t You Both Just Die?” villains. And then there was the shockingly unnecessarily death… <[p> But let’s start with the best part of the episode: Jamie. I’ve said it before: I loathe precocious child actors, but Jackson Brundage can really bring it. Whether it’s riding in a car seat, measuring his ears or trading rhymes and bustin’ a move with Quentin, Jamie is too cool for school.

Now for the uncool stuff: Brooke was savagely beaten (but was she raped?) by the intruder from last episode. However, as she told Deb, “I’m not gonna cry.” I am sure that was supposed to be some kind of “strong woman” statement, but it was undercut by her lament that she didn’t want to let the press get involved. That comment made her sound petty — almost as if what was really worrying her was the potential for unflattering photographs. She asked Deb to teach her how to use a gun, implying viewers can expect a revenge storyline (in which, I predict, she will stop herself from killing her attacker because he’s “not worth it.”) Peyton had one doozy of a blonde moment when she believed Brooke’s ludicrous story about falling down the stairs on her face. (Seeing this story, I’m inclined to believe the writers fell down the stairs — on their brains!)

In contrast, this was Q’s Best Day Ever: He was finally having fun playing basketball again; Jamie decided to make him a superhero cape; he got an A+ from his tutor, Haley, and told her he wants to have children someday (even a little girl!)…. As the evidence started to mount, I realized there was no way this was going to end well. As soon as he pulled into that lonely gas station, I said, “They are not seriously going to kill Quentin in a random robbery, are they?” They did. And he died. What a terrible waste of a character. It’s true the writers had pretty much derailed his hoop dreams with the hand injury, but there was an opportunity to demonstrate that there is more to life than sports — Nathan cannot let go of his NBA quest, and he and Lucas and Skills not only coach basketball, they constantly hark back to their halcyon days as state champs. Everyone either plays basketball or wishes they did (or cheered for someone who did). Why couldn’t Q have gone to college? From the previews for next episode it appears the rationale was to set up an emotional story about Jamie dealing with death. But there should have been another way (how about letting Grandpa Dan succumb to his alleged heart condition?) I’m also going to predict Q will be buried in his new cape.

My colleague, Mala, called this OTH’s “Jump the Shark” episode, and even though I have only been watching since last season, I’m inclined to agree….