Thursday, July 17, 2014

Satisfaction – Pilot – Advance Preview: “Middle Class Malaise”




It seems as though the USA network is going through a bit of its own mid-life crisis . Sure they still have quirky character driven shows like Suits and fun action packed dramas like Covert Affairs. But with Psych and Burn Notice in the can and White Collar being on the way out very shortly it feels like the dog days of USA’s ‘blue skies’ formula may be coming to a grinding halt. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

It started with last summer’s premiere of Graceland. It was definitely a darker and grittier show than anything this side of an SVU marathon that airs on the USA network and continues with a bold choice to get into the original scripted comedies game(if you haven’t watched Playing House do it now and thank me later). While Rush (Satisfaction’s lead-in) definitely still very much fits the mold of what USA is known for its very obvious that the network is trying to branch out while still trying to maintain a balance of what their viewers want (formulaic as it may be).

Satisfaction, or at least its pilot, is a curious case. At first blush this show seems a little bit like HBO’s Hung but instead of economic hard times being the mitigating factor in the male lead becoming a gigolo; it’s a mid-life crisis or perhaps a bout of depression or maybe even a bit of both. But dig a little deeper and you come to find out you don’t actually know what’s going on due to the endless parade of plot twists as well as a slew of moments you can live vicariously through (everything from the hero on plane that is stuck on the tarmac and actually getting off it, to telling your boss what you really think of him and your job).

In the pilot we meet Neil Truman (Matt Passmore). He seems to have the quintessential upper middle class life: a loving wife, a neglected daughter who is desperate for her parents’ attention, a great job and nice house in a nice neighborhood. But from the very first scene you can tell that this family is going through the motion. No one is happy and everyone just seems to eking out their niche in this mundane existence. But this family is full of surprises.

After years of soul crushing investment banking, Neil Truman has had just about enough. He knows that he spends way too much time at work but he doesn't know how to correct this problem until a series of events leads him to quit his job and sets him on a new path of “enlightenment” unfortunately that moment is cut short when he discovers his wife is having an affair. It seems as though his world is about to come crashing down all around him. Maybe the old Neil would have just left to go cry in a corner but not this new Neil. This Neil actually confronts his wife’s lover. He gets his ass handed to him in the confrontation but he does learn that this affair is more of a business arrangement.

Simon (Blair Redford), his wife’s lover is a male escort. For some reason this isn’t a deal breaker to Neil and he keeps his knowing about Grace’s cheating a secret. He goes about his life for a little while harboring the secret and being passive aggressive. Until he realizes that he has Simon’s phone. He answers it and goes out on a date (and has sex with) one of Simon’s new clients. The date is a revelation to Simon and gives him a little insight into just why his wife might have been seeing Simon. But it doesn’t stop at just one date he goes another as well and gets a job offer to boot.

Grace getting suspicious of Neil goes to his old workplace to discover he quit and is a rising YouTube star thanks to the stunt he pulled on the airplane. She manages to convince his boss to give him his job back and the family seems to be getting back on the right track. Heck they are even spending quality time together around their neglected pool.

Simon does manage to hunt Neil down to his place of employment and threatens him. Simon wants his phone back or at least access to his contacts online. But Neil hands it right back to him and in more adult manner by threatening to get the IRS to audit Simon and it isn’t clear if Neil is doing it out of spite or because he wants to stay in the gigolo game.

Right when it seems like things are going great and Neil and Grace are in a good place, Grace makes a call to Simon and Neil sees it (because he still has the phone) and the episode fades to black with a curious look on Neil’s face and everything up in the air.

Themes of hypocrisy, the meaning of life and the pursuit of happiness are the main themes presented in the pilot but it barely scratches the surface despite the premiere being quite long. I’ll wager a guess that the crux of what the show wants to explore is, what does happily ever mean and how is doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. Or maybe it’s a scathing satire on married life at the midpoint in life. Perhaps it’s morality play on the ethics of lying… I’m not quite sure what Satisfaction is striving to be but I know I like it. While the topic of bad marriages might feel done to death on TV Satisfaction feels more complex and gray.

The tagline for the show asks an interesting question: Would you risk your marriage to save it? From a marketing standpoint, I don’t know if the show is being properly explained or perhaps it’s that the network is not quite sure how it wants to proceed with the subject material. But from a casual viewer standpoint I’m intrigued and the way the pilot ends I definitely want to know more about these characters.

Satisfaction premieres tonight at 10 PM on USA.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Young & Hungry – 1.03 - Young & Lesbian – Review: “Silly Shenanigans with a side of Store d'oeuvres.”


Hey there all you fans of ABC Family’s Young & Hungry! Are you ready to talk about this week’s episode? I know I am! This week’s episode saw one of the show’s executive producer and former Disney star, Ashley Tisdale guest star.

Jenny Lee wrote this week’s episode and Arlene Sanford directed the episode. I found this combination to be a tad bit underwhelming if I'm going to be absolutely honest. I know it’s only the third episode but after last week’s episode where I definitely saw hints of things gelling and coming together it seemed as though things were falling apart and was even rougher than the pilot. Something that makes matters even worse is that this was supposed to be the fourth episode of the series, so yeah, let that sink in.

Anyway… I have to say I didn't think I would find this week’s setup at all funny or charming and I really didn’t during the first watch. I don't know, maybe I'm a tad bit too uptight but I just don't find pimping the help out amusing. None of the things that make the show worth watching for me was heavily featured; instead all of the things that I don't really care for at the moment were on display.

But during the second watch I loosened up and since I knew where the story was going and could relax knowing there weren't too many offensive things, I enjoyed it a lot more and could watch in the mindset of a casual viewer who falls in the targeted demo.

Anyway… I have to say I didn’t think I would find this week’s setup at all funny or charming and I really didn’t during the first watch. I don’t know, maybe I’m a tad bit too uptight but I just don’t find pimping the help out amusing. None of the things that make the show worth watching for me was heavily featured; instead all of the things that I don’t really care for at the moment were on display.

But during the second watch I loosened up a little and since I knew where the story was going I could relax knowing there weren’t TOO many offensive things. I decided to just enjoy it and try to watch it in the mindset of a casual viewer that falls into the show’s targeted demo. And wouldn’t you know it; it did become somewhat mildly entertaining.

The setup for this week’s episode was almost like something right out Three’s Company. I could totally see Jack Tripper in Gabi’s role with Mr. Roper being Elliott’s in position. Elliot sets up Gabi on a date with Logan Rawlings (Ashley Tisdale), a magazine editor who is Josh's only chance of making a coveted "30 Under 30" list of a magazine. When goes Gabi goes out for drinks with Logan she realizes it is a date and tells Logan that she’s not gay but she will help her win her girlfriend back. Supposed hilarity ensues.

There was just a criminal underuse of Aimee Carrero as Sophia in this week’s outing. But what little we did see of her was just great. I love Sophia’s knack for summing up Gabi’s trouble in such a succinct manner. The character of Yolanda was also short changed as well though the character did manage to get in a pretty good quip aimed at Elliott.

I guess this was just the episode where they decided to put Elliott front and center. In my humble opinion, Lee just didn’t bring it. If it ever were the time for him to channel his inner Lloyd this would have been the episode. I feel that Elliott was the weak link in this episode and annoyed me out of everyone (and during this episode, honey let me tell, that is saying a lot).

I was also let down on the food front this week. While it was clever, they could have have named off a few more of the dishes Gabi prepared. This show is based on a food blogger turned personal chef. That’s their hook. They need to play up this aspect a little more.

But at least Gabi was her adorkable self and it was even toned just like I hoped for last week. I think this episode really showed a pretty cool side of Gabi. While I do think it is pathetic that Gabi would go to such great lengths for Josh, I also found it pretty nice that Gabi went out of her way to help someone get back together with their ex despite being put in such an awkward position (and on purpose might I add). Though I was not a fan of the trite and cliché stereotypes she was spouting and about lesbians.

After last week’s breakthrough on the Josh front with him laying down the law with Caroline I was expecting a little more. I was sorely disappointed. I just can’t seem to like the character of Josh. The material written for him just comes off as annoying and wishy washy. I think that John Sadowski is playing the character of Josh in a ‘too cutesy’ manner. But he did come off better than Elliott in this episode so there’s that.

The guest stars were the best thing about this episode for me personally. I thought it was really cool getting to see Ashley Tisdale and Jessica Lowndes again. It been awhile since either of them has been on my TV screen (and in both cases I have CW to thank for those controversial decisions in cancelling their respective shows). I really hope if the show gets a season 2 that they can concoct a reason to bring these two back on the show.

My final thoughts in regards to this episode are that I need them to develop these characters at a faster rate, everyone still feels very one dimensional and the dialog falls flat a lot of the time. I really hate the laugh track, so much so that I plan on watching next week’s episode on with the closed caption going.

I would also love for them to find a way to feature the character of Sophia and Yolanda more, since this is a comedy and those two have the timing and delivery down cold. What’s that old saying? You’ve got to accentuate the positive and all that jazz. I think this episode could have gone a little deeper and done a little better if they actually made Gabi’s character bisexual. But that’s just my two cents. Here’s hoping next week’s episode is better.

Grade: C+

Awards

Character of the Night
• Gabi

Best Character Interactions
• Logan and Judy

Most Memorable Moment
• Elliott throws the pillow of the balcony because Logan doesn't like it

Line of the Night
• Logan: Oh. You're just like me. I love a good, hard liquor.

Scene of the Night
• Josh being adorkably charming with Logan during her interview.

Bonus Points
• No Caroline in this episode!

Miscellaneous

Truth Bomb
Gabi: Yeah, I live paycheck to paycheck; I know a little something about pressure.

Best Food Pun
• Logan: That last spoonful of salted caramel crème brulè was so rich it should have a trophy wife.
• Yolanda: Oh, please, let me get some bread for that bologna.

Favorite Running Gag - Yolanda giving Elliot the business
Yolanda: Elliott, why don’t you be a less crouching tiger and a little more hidden dragon.

Style Spotlight - I really liked all of the ladies shoes in this episode.

Connect with the Show
Facebook
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Show’s hashtag: #YoungandHungry



Be sure to tune into Young & Hungry every Wednesday night at 8 pm on ABC Family.

What did you think of this episode? Do you think the show is getting better? What was your favorite scene from this episode? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments. You know I love you for reading…

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beauty and the Beast - 2.22 - Dejavu - Review: Those who fail history are doomed to repeat it.


Hey Beasties! Are you ready to discuss the season 2 finale of Beauty and the Beast 2x22: Déjà vu? I know I’m not. But I also know I have to do it. I can’t believe that season is actually over. I feel a little empty inside and have no clue what I'm going to do with myself on Mondays at 9 pm now (I'm open to suggestions, by the way). I found a lot to love and not a lot to nitpick so that’s always great. I guess it’s time to dig in, so let’s get to it.

If I had to make a long story short I would sum up it a little something like this: Gabe went on a killing spree. Cat became obsessed with her ancestor, Rebecca Reynolds’s journal. Tess questions her relationship with JT while keeping point on the Gabe manhunt back at the 125th and JT got gravely injured. But all’s well that ends well because by episode’s end Gabe was dead, JT was doing just fine, Tess sorted out her feelings and VinCat finally a little uninterrupted alone time.

I was a little disappointed with Sherri and Jenny’s last of the season outing last week and was totally prepared to be bummed out by Brad Kern having his hand in the last episode of this season. But luckily this episode was not written as solo effort by Brad Kern, he got an assist from Roger Grant (one of the writers that have grown on me over the course of season 2). The pacing in this episode was (as it has been in the case of almost all of the episodes since we got back from hiatus) was frantic, tumultuous, lopsided and if I'm going to be totally honest, a little disjointed. I get what Brad and Roger were going for with the flashbacks but it just kind of fell flat for me personally both as a storytelling device and the execution of it on the technical side. The heart of the story was nice but the dialog was a little stiff and kind of boring.

But hey at least one thing didn’t disappoint me and that was most the directorial execution which was provided by Stuart Gillard. While I was not a fan of the flashbacks, I thought everything in the present day was breathtakingly beautiful and stunning, even the interior shots were well composed, lit and blocked. The performances he pulled from the Fab Four was great, especially Kristin Kreuk’s. You guys know I could drone on for days about the technical stuff so I will just move on…

The theme that I loved the most that was presented in this episode was team work and this theme applied to almost everyone in the episode. Any good Beastie knows that Cat and Vincent are better together than they are apart when it comes to accomplishing a goal. I also love that we revisited the idea of destiny and fate and how in the end Cat and Vincent always choose each other AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL AND SETS THEM APART.

Another theme presented in this episode was of course the title, déjà vu. Not only are we at a similar point from last season, Cat is going through something eerily similar to what her ancestor Rebecca went through as well. I wasn't a fan of Gabe and Vincent rematch at first because it felt too ‘been there, done that’ but that actually turned out to be one of my favorite things about this episode. Some recurring elements that came back into play yet again were the gem, the collar, Rebecca Reynolds and her journal ‘Big Brother’ style surveillance and the taskforce. The motifs of being in control and learning from others mistakes was front and center as well (I can only hope the writers, executive producers and any other network powers that be will take the latter lesson to heart).

On to the meat and potatoes of this review…

Cat was on fire this episode. I was a little put off by her obsessiveness over the journal at first (and that was probably due to it being in my top three least favorite plot devices of this season of Beauty and the Beast). I loved her desperation and conviction. But as the parallels droned on the use of the journal and the flashbacks grew on me. I loved seeing Cat take charge of a situation and handling it competently. I do feel the use of this plot device for drawing the parallels was a tad bit heavy handed but it served its purpose well. Kristin Kreuk really brought her A game in this episode. I felt her pain, her rage, her hopelessness and her determination to not let history repeat itself. The best Cat moment for me had to be when Vincent’s blood from the vials is all over hands and she realizes that the plan ISN'T right. That they need to do this TOGETHER or it won't work. I also like when Cat questions herself and tells Tess that it doesn't feel right putting the plan into motion without Vincent. She finally realizes it isn't about which one of them saves the other more often or who sacrifices the most, it’s about them being together and when they are together there is almost nothing they can't accomplish. It warmed the cockles of my heart to be honest. I was shocked that Cat was the one to kill Gabe (again) in the end because damn she literally just saved his life (for a second time, friendly reminder for anyone who is keeping score).

While I feel like I saw more of Allister than Vincent during this episode for some reason, I found everything to do with Vincent to be on the mark. OK, first of all, I love the continuity of the big, blue, fluffy robe when we got to the first present day scene of the episode. Secondly, I’m glad they finally showed a little something, something off in that robe again and that little something, something happened to be Jay Ryan’s abs (they have been sorely missed). I have to say that I found Vincent to be full of wishful thinking and quiet seething rage this whole episode. It was fun to see the domesticated side of Vincent that knows how to cook and apparently can cook very well. It was also a nice change of pace to have Vincent telling Cat she needs to relax and stop worrying. It was interesting to see Vincent take on Gabe once again, especially since Gabe now had the upper hand by being a stronger beast. The fight scene was fun but not nearly long enough. I really wanted Vincent to be the one to kill Gabe, especially since Gabe was once again a beast. I thought maybe that was the point of making Gabe a beast again so Vincent could get a cathartic release and with that bury his animal instinct for at least a little while. Guess not. But I’m glad that killing Gabe together brought Cat and Vincent closer together (wow, that was a very odd sentence to write).

I’m a little miffed about everything to do with JT in this episode. For starters, he didn’t get nearly enough screen time. Secondly, I absolutely hated the way Tess treated him for the majority of the episode. Especially since this episode started the morning after the important chat with Tess about sexual compatibility and everything seem perfectly fine (well, until Gabe beasted out and escaped). Lastly, they actually thought that it would a good idea to tear him to shreds and string him up. Oh, wait, also the fact that no one ever bothers to thank him and show him a little appreciation for all the amazing stuff he does. I’m still shaking my head about this. I’m ever going to be over this particular part of the episode.

Speaking of disappointing material for a character… Every single time Brad Kern has something to do with the script the character of Tess gets super wonky. I don’t know what it is. Maybe he doesn’t like the character. Maybe he doesn’t understand the character very well. Maybe he just likes drama for the sake of drama. I don’t know and I don’t care. What do care about is having Tess in character and explored and fleshed out a little more. All of this stutter step and stop with the character’s development and storyline has been frustrating and it is almost always at the hands of Brad Kern. Tess was out of character for most this episode and it infuriated me. Tess was pushing JT away. Why? I have no clue. Tess was feeling unsure about her relationship with JT. Why? I have no clue. Tess suddenly wants a relationship like Cat and Vincent’s. Say what now? Not only that but she confesses it at the worst possible time. Tess if anything has a laser light focus and a propensity to bottle up her emotions for better or worse. But at least Tess being good at her job and the best gal pal ever didn’t change or was impacted by this kerfuffle and her breakdown over JT and interactions with him at the hospital totally made up for it.

Gabe did not go into that good night without a fight. I found the material written for Gabe to be hammy as hell but Sendhil still managed to knock his performance out of the park. I wish that we’d had more time of Gabe being the actual big bad and had gotten a more gradual descent into madness but it is what it is. I loved Gabe taunting Vincent. The best villains are the ones that can get inside our heroes heads and Gabe certainly knew how to push Vincent’s buttons. When he attacked JT I knew there was no going back. There was absolutely no way Gabe would not end up dead (as it should be, you touch JT and somebody should pummel you until your heart stops beating). Gabe was a man with absolutely nothing to lose. His job and the power that it provided was gone. There was no chance of him getting back with Cat and worst of all he’d intentionally turned himself into the thing he hated the most. Cockiness was always Gabe’s problem and in the end it was his downfall. I loved the look on his face when the collar and gem was snapped onto his neck and all the smugness drained from his body. Priceless! That was probably one of my top five screencaps from the episode.

Grade: B

Awards

Character of the Night
• Cat

Best Character Interactions
• Cat and Vincent

Most Memorable Moment
• JT strung up in the rafters torn to shreds.

Line of the Night


Scene of the Night
• Cat and Vincent work together to put an end to Gabe once and for all.

That Awkward Moment
• That awkward moment where I was traumatized for 20 minutes of the episode thinking JT wasn't going to make it.

Auf Wiedersehen
• Beth
• Agent Reynolds
• Gabe (and good riddance in this case)

Highlights

• There were so many VinCat smooches and little happy moments jam packed into this episode.
• Every member of Team Beasties got a moment to shine.
Gabe is dead!
• The sense of purpose and urgency
• We were renewed for season 3 so this is not the end of the road for our beloved show.

Lowlights

• The flashbacks weren't actually flashbacks, more like Cat's imaginative re-enactments.
• The heavy use of the "flashbacks".
• The technical execution of the "flashbacks"
• The "romantic" parts were very bland and chaste (Beasties deserved to be shown a little more than that after this season)
• Sendhil is no longer in the cast. He was awesome when it came to interacting with the fandom and I will (and hope you all will as well) support him in any of his future endeavors because once a Beastie always a Beastie.
• This hiatus is going to be a bitch BEAST

Miscellaneous
Style Spotlight – You probably already guessed it... Cat's blue leather motorcycle jacket.
Crackpot (or Not) Theory of the Week
• JT is going to become a beast sometime during season 3

Surprise of the Night
• Agent Reynolds aka Bad Bio Dad makes an appearance

Spotted: Captain Ward actually being a reasonable man and assuming actual control of the precinct. Good for him.












Tweets of the Night







Shameless Plugs and Self-Promotion
BATB Podcast (now with improved sound quality)
BATB Podcast Fan Page
BATB Podcast Email
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Thank You Beasties
I just want to take this time to thank all the Beasties who have taken the time to stop by and read my reviews. It means so much me to interact with you guys even when we don't see eye to eye about things. I had a blast reviewing this season and made some friends and had some great experiences. While I may love the story of season 1 better than season 2, this season will always have a special place in my heart because it was the season when I found the place where I belong and it’s right here in the BATB fanmily.

I will try my best to find plenty of fun things for us to do over the long hiatus, I promise. I have two pretty cool things in the works for the following two weeks. One is a highlights and lowlights recap of season. The other project is a roundtable discussion featuring some fandom favorite reviewers. I’m definitely going to find time to review every single episode from season 1 over on my blog as well. A review will be posted once every two weeks starting at the end of August.

I also want to have a Netflix live streaming event as soon as season 2 is available and I will tweet more details as the time gets closer so be sure to follow me on Twitter if you haven't done so already.
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What did you think of this episode? How does it stack up against the rest of the episodes from this season? Is this way you imagined the season ending? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments. You know I love you for reading…

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Young & Hungry – 1.02 – Young & Ringless – Review: “Close Calls and Spaghetti with meatballs.”


Hello, lovers of ABC Family’s newest comedy Young & Hungry! Are you ready to talk about episode 1x02: Young & Ringless? I know I am. This week’s episode was written by creator and executive producer David Holden and directed by Phil Lewis. Yes, THAT Phill Lewis! I thought this week’s writing was much improved from that of the pilot and I really liked the composition and blocking in most of the scenes. Just so you know, I'm a behind the scenes/technical side of things kind of gal if you hadn't guessed that already.

The setup for this week’s episode was that Gabi begins her first official day as Josh's chef and wants to leave the memory of her one-night stand with Josh behind her. Caroline accuses Gabi of stealing her engagement ring. On top of all of that Gabi must prepare an elaborate dinner for Josh's Chinese investors in a type of cuisine that she is not familiar with even though she said she was on her resume.

I thought the setup between Caroline and Gabi was classic as was the twist that Elliot was the actual culprit. I honestly don’t like Caroline but I think Josh deserves her. While I might not like Caroline, I do absolutely love her catch phrase:But you understand, right? It just screams west coast socialite to me for some reason.

The episode opened with my favorite character and character interactions of the series so far, Sophia and Gabi and Sophia respectively. I love how Sophia is so blunt and matter of fact yet does it in gently prodding manner. Someone should scold Gabi for having sex with her boss because it was something that was very inappropriate and unprofessional but at the same time stuff happens and sometimes you just need a good laugh to keep from crying.

I do love the way that Sophia makes being young, broke and struggling in an expensive city such as San Francisco look easy and effortless while simultaneously providing viable and creative options if anyone in the audience happens to be in the same situation as the gals.

I just knew it was going to be ‘one of those’ episodes when the third scene in started with a poorly executed dick joke. I hate everything about Caroline and Josh's relationship. The less time spent focusing on their relationship the better. It makes my skin crawl, to be honest. Caroline is so annoying, self-centered, self-obsessed and egotistical that she constantly gets the 'ugh' noise from me every time she appears on screen.

I was honestly hoping that show would tip a hat towards Frasier and have the other woman in Josh's life be unseen, I think that trope is priceless and helps the audience form a bond with show by giving them a slot on the show where they a say in the show via their imagination.I'm sorely disappointed they didn't take this route. Nothing against the actress, only the supplied material and missed opportunity.

Gabi tries to make the best of her official first day and goes about the tasks of making breakfast and trying to get things prepared for the night's very important business dinner. Josh comes down for breakfast and because apparently no episode is going to be complete (at least for some time) without an awkward talk/misunderstanding between Gabi and Josh because they have one and I nearly die of second hand embarrassment from Gabi's side of the chat.

After a not so smooth recovery from that fiasco, she heads upstairs to deliver Caroline's breakfast and an oafish encounter ensues. Shortly there after Caroline comes charging downstairs to accuse Gabi of stealing her ring. Elliot and Yolanda quickly brush Gabi aside but Josh stands up for Gabi and the rest of his staff saying he trusts them but in the next breath explains it's because he has the penthouse wired.

Caroline and Josh go to fetch the footage and Elliot confesses to Gabi and Yolanda that he has the ring and it stuck on his finger. Gabi wants to help but Yolanda wants to see him beg first,which he does. The problem is solved by applying hemorrhoid cream to Elliot's finger. The situation is under control before Caroline and Josh return and Yolanda says that she found it the vacuum. Just when things seemed to be all smoothed over Gabi begins to babble and makes the situation even worse. The realization that this is actually Gabi's first day causes Caroline to demand to see all of the footage of from the moment Gabi first set foot in the penthouse (i.e. the night of the trial dinner where Gabi and Josh had sex).

Luckily, Josh is able to pull a smooth move and orders a masseur for Caroline as a distraction to give him some time to delete the incriminating evidence from the footage of the trial dinner. But that backfires because Caroline couldn't continue the massage because her masseur had on brown shoes with a black belt. Josh tells Caroline politely that he has reviewed the footage and didn't find anything. But Caroline insists on seeing the footage.

That's when it happened... Josh got a little bit of character growth. He stood up to Caroline and forcibly told her that if they are going to be married then she is going to have to trust him and take him at his word. It showed that Josh is capable of having a spine but I'm conflicted because he only grew that spine in order to lie to his fiancée. At any rate it turns Caroline on and Josh takes further advantage of the situation and demands that she attends the dinner as well and making out and heavy petting ensue (in front of Gabi) on a desk.

In something they actually hope becomes a staple, Sophia swings by some words of encouragement as well as everything Gabi needs to make the dinner for the Chinese investor. Oh, and some illegal fireworks for good measure. Gabi breaks down and sophia lifts her up and I find myself swooning at this adorable friendship. Sophia has a a habit of stating all of the bad stuff first and then goes says something charming last. I like that setup. It also helps us get some comedic insight into Gabi's life without making it seem like boring exposition.

In the last stretch of the episode we had Gabi pulling off a spectacular dinner in the requested style of Jiangsu cuisine. But just for good measure she decided to cook up some spaghetti and meatballs and apple pie for dessert just in case the investors were tired of the traditional cuisines of the native lands. Turns out, they WERE and Gabi's alternative was a hit and help set a happy mood. Josh stops Gabi as she heads home and it was his turn to have an awkward conversation based on a simple misunderstanding. I really liked what he had to say but I'm still not on board with Josh ever being good enough for Gabi. Sorry, not sorry.

My finals thoughts are this episode was much better than pilot. I feel like the cast is beginning to get a better feel for each other. Gabi still annoys me a little and I feel like they should tone her “adorkableness” down (by like A LOT). There definitely was not enough of Sophia. My biggest disappointment is that Yolanda and Elliot still are very much stereotypical caricatures. I do love the diversity of the cast (especially because it is so small) but they need to dig deeper and do better.

Also, there is one thing I really want them to tone down and that is the ‘slut shaming’ that Elliot is constantly spewing towards Gabi. She made a mistake and Josh is just as, if not more guilty as she is. But of course Josh is the boss so he gets a pass. I don’t like that and it needs to stop. It’s not even that funny.

Grade: B+

Awards

Character of the Night
• Josh

Best Character Interactions
• Elliot and Yolanda (when Yolanda gets the ring off of Elliot’s finger).

Most Memorable Moment
• Gabi strikes her power pose in front of Elliot, Yolanda, Caroline and Josh

Line of the Night
• Yolanda: If you want to stay on my good side, and you do, keep your things in the laundry room, the kitchen clean and please stop singing.

Scene of the Night
• Sophia explains her “workout” regimen that consists of jogging around town to score free stuff such as coffee, donuts and toilet paper right after she ribs Gabi for sleeping with Josh.

Most Improved Character
• Josh

Miscellaneous

Best Food Pun
  Gabi: How does Josh like his eggs?
  Elliot: Like you, over easy.

Truth Bomb
Yolanda: Damn, I never thought I'd see the day a white girl gets fingered before the black housekeeper.

Favorite Running Gag: Something happens to a cheap clothing item Gabi owns and she announces the price.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Phill Lewis made his movie debut in the 1989 cult classic Heathers?

Style Spotlight: I really liked Gabi’s “diamond” necklace. It may be ‘so 2009’ but I loved it.

Things That Need to Go
• The laugh track

Connect with the Show
Facebook
Twitter
Show’s hashtag: #YoungandHungry

Be sure to tune into Young & Hungry every Wednesday night at 8 pm on ABC Family.



What did you think of this episode? Are you starting to warm up to the show? Who is your favorite character so far? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments. You know I love you for reading…

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Beauty and the Beast - 2.21 - Operation Fake Date - Review: The Nuclear Option.



Hey Beasties! Sorry the review is late, AGAIN. But if I’m going to be honest, I struggled with this episode and didn't really know what to make of it, let alone how to write about it. I've seen even the most veteran of reviewers kind of adjust the format for this particular episode. But without further ado let’s dish about Beauty and the Beast episode 2x21: Operation Fake Date. This episode was definitely a whirlwind. A lot of the things that needed to happen happened and a lot of things that didn’t need to happen happened as well (cough *that date with Gabe* cough). This episode was cute, funny and very frenetic but a little nonsensical. I liked this episode but I didn’t love this episode and it definitely wasn't what I was expecting and I will get into that in just a bit.

If I had to sum up the events in this episode briefly I guess it would go a little something like this: A deeply deluded Gabe tried to win Cat back while also nearly exposing the existence of beasts to Cat’s old high school friend turned reporter, Beth. Heather was planning her bachelorette party and hiding her post traumatic stress in true Heather fashion – avoidance. Meanwhile Cat and Vincent continued their quest in getting Vincent exonerated and finally succeeded. Also, some mysterious G-Men came into play and managed to take a sample of Vincent’s blood.

So this week’s episode saw Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin return to their writing duties and I have to say I was shocked to discover that they were the ones who wrote this episode. It didn’t have any of their usual hallmarks, AT ALL. The structure definitely deviated from their norm as I found the dialog for the most part to be very bland and unmemorable. The episode’s pacing was a little wonky as well. Also, JT and Tess also seemed to be very out of character to me. This episode was should have been a little darker in tone overall and not just in some spots. This just didn’t seem like a penultimate episode until the last five minutes and Sherry and Jenny are just so much better than usually. This episode felt just felt thrown together and a little disjointed and edging towards unbelievable at times.

Fred Gerber returned to the director’s chair this week and I was shocked again that this was his handiwork. I’ll chalk it up to the fact that a lot of scenes were trying to cram way too much into them whether it was intentional or not I do not know. But what I do know is that this episode felt crowded and cramped on so many levels and visual was the one that annoyed me the most. I will say that Mr. Gerber pulled out some fine, subtle and nuanced performances from all the actors.

The most aggravating theme of all that this show loves to explore reared its ugly head with a vengeance in this episode, the men in Cat’s life and their weird obsession with being her knight in shining armor. I also noticed that themes of fate, destiny and a fear of repeating the past. Which I find odd seeing as how the powers that be are trying so hard to recapture the first season’s vibe after deciding the show needed to be a soft reboot and the beginning of this season which started out fine and turned into a hot mess (but that’s none of my business, though).

This week’s episode opened with something that I wasn’t expecting, comedy. I mean come on, Vincent in that awful mustache that really didn’t disguise him very well and Cat with her blonde wig was hilarious. As was Vincent’s brutish manhandling of the baby carriage. Right down to Agent Knox’s comments about how Cat and Vincent were being so good at following protocol all the sudden. Luckily for them (and us) he comes bearing good news, the murder charges are getting dropped and all Vincent has to do is turn himself in. Well, that seems like a pretty simple task. But it’s Beauty and the Beast and things are NEVER ever that simple or easy.

We left that scene to abruptly cut to a scene that featured JT and Tess at a place called Lizzy D’s Closet. It turns out the place is a sex shop. JTnT awkwardly banter about bachelorette party staples, just whose responsibility is it to be doing all this stuff for Heather and for good measure JT even managed to bash Heather for not filing charges against Gabe (Oh, don’t worry, I don’t condone that and I have a few words to say about it later). Tess is seemingly frustrated that JT isn’t into any of things in the sex shop but that gets dropped because Tess is being stalked by Cat’s old high school friend, turned reporter, Beth. She’s looking for confirmation about some juicy details that Gabe has told her about Vincent. JT and Tess treat her like she’s crazy and insinuates that Gabe has an agenda but leaves that for Beth to discover for herself.

From there we were treated to a scene at the hostel where Cat and Vincent are staying. Tess once again has to break the bad news to Cat that Gabe has done something that might put a wrench in her plans to get exonerate Vincent. But never fear, Cat always has a plan and it’s usually a plan no one likes. She goes on and on about how she has power over Gabe and that she is sure she can convince him to get Beth to drop the charges. Cue everyone’s groans and eyes both from ¾ of Team Beastie and the audience.

So Cat sashays on over to Gabe’s place where he is so delighted to have Cat around he decides it’s a good idea to start day drinking. He drones on about how everything he has done was to protect Cat. Yes, even getting Heather kidnapped. But Cat’s not there to talk about that. Gabe sees an opening and tries to exploit it. If he gives Cat what she wants then she has to give him something he wants. What does Gabe want? He wants a real chance at winning Cat back.

I seriously puked in my mouth a little bit at that point it wasn’t the last time it happened while I watched this episode. What the F@#%? Are you serious? Gabe must be completely delusional to that he thinks Cat would honestly go for this? This is our evil, genius, master mind villain that we have wasted so much time on? Apparently, the lights are on and nobody’s home at this point but whatever. Cat agrees but knows that hard part wouldn’t be going on the date with Gabe; but getting Vincent to stand down and not freak out.

Vincent reacts (as does JT) as any normal person would to the news. But Cat manages to persuade everyone that it will be just fine. And as it turns out, it was just fine, right down to the perfectly chaste peck on the lips at the end of the night. I should say everything was fine until a cake swapped didn’t go unnoticed and caused Gabe to go back to Cat’s place just in time to overhear her talking about the farce of date she just went on with him.

So the next day, at the press conference where Vincent is turning himself in, Beth asks an inappropriate question that makes her look like she’s off her rocker (and probably got her press pass revoked) about Vincent’s DNA and the FBI’s involvement and cover up. This sets off alarms and with the help of a phone call from Heather, Cat manages to piece together the puzzle of what caused Gabe’s change of heart. In a last ditch effort Vincent spills the beans to Agent Knox about what he is capable of. But it’s too late to back out of the deal; Vincent still has to go jail.

After the fiasco that was the press conference it seems Beth is not pleased with the lack of a reaction from Vincent. Gabe calls her and reassures her that there is more to the story and he has proof that he can show her. But they are interrupted by a phone call from Cat. Beth takes it but not before Gabe tells her that Cat is in love with Vincent.

Meanwhile, Heather is throwing a bachelorette party (even though she has yet to set a wedding date). Cat and Tess invite Beth to it to try and talk her out of writing her story and getting all the information to make an informed choice. We find out that Heather hasn’t told her fiancé that she was kidnapped and she realizes she is suffering from post-traumatic stress. It felt like a big step backwards for Heather by having her deal with her stress in such an old!Heather manner, which of course is avoidance of painful topics.

But it is understandable to a point. But why would you allow someone to roam free after they did that to you? Gabe knows where you live. Gabe has a sick obsession with your sister. If anything I’d be paranoid that he was plotting to do something even worse and would do everything in my power to thwart such a person. But hey everyone handles traumatic events differently. Anywho… by the end of the night Tess and Beth are on more friendly terms and Heather is ready to file charges against Gabe if it comes to that. But not before Agent Knox calls to inform Cat that Vincent is missing.

During that time Vincent gets taken out of his cell by some mysterious G-Men. They say they work for/with Knox but it seems doubtful. But Vincent wanting to be a model prisoner goes with them without a fight.



In a panic Cat rushes over to Gabe’s place to confront him wither her suspicions. What follows in screaming match that turns physical and (nearly) fatal. Gabe lost deep in his delusion keeps insisting that everything he has done was to keep Cat safe and furthermore wants to spare her the same fate her ancestor Rebecca Reynolds had to go through, killing her beast. But Cat finally snaps and unleashes all of her fury and beats Gabe past an inch of his life. She panics and tries to revive him.

But let’s get back to Vincent real quick. Being very suspicious and cautious Vincent feels the government guys out tells him he won’t be doing anything of interest until Agent Knox arrives. Hearing someone approach he asks if it’s him. But surprise, surprise he hears Cat’s voice and freaks out and runs to the other room to reveal Gabe’s place being surveilled. He wonders why but doesn’t get much time to process as hears Cat confirm that these men do not work for Agent Knox. He tries to escape but he gets tranquilized into submission. When he wakes up he has a chat with one of the G-Men and makes them offer to kill Gabe if they let him go. They go for it. And off Vincent goes to finally rid himself of the Gabe only to discover Cat had beaten him to the punchline.

But Cat, of course, begs Vincent to save Gabe. Vincent obliges and manages to revive him through a process right out of Pulp Fiction. Cat is relieved that she didn’t kill him and JT (who stopped by to help but ended up only providing snarky commentary) is mildly annoyed that they let the bad guy live to see another day.

I found the talk about Cat being the one to beast out and Vincent being able to save Cat from herself melancholy and downright odd. I was actually thankful that JT interrupted that painful chat with a phone call from Agent Knox. Agent Knox called to let Cat and Vincent know that exoneration went through but that he wasn’t the one to thank. I’m honestly a little miffed that we didn’t have much of a chance to let the news sink in before SOMETHING else happened.

But inevitably something else does happen. At least the next big threat waited a few beats. JT keeps an eye on Cat as she informs Gabe that he is defeated and that they have won because Vincent’s exoneration went through and Heather is willing to come forward and put him behind bars if he doesn’t stay in his place and out of the hair. And just to add insult to injury Cat said she went on the date looking for the man she once cared about but sorely disappointed to find missing in action. I honestly think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It seems as though we’re wrapping up all the events from this episode in a nice tidy little bow when we see Vincent and Agent Knox finding an empty “lab (?)”. But nope, it’s revealed those so called good guys took a sample of Vincent’s blood.

That little nugget gets swept aside for another time and we head to JT and Tess who are guarding/babysitting Gabe. JT has a goody bag from Lizzy D’s closet because he is bound and determined to prove to Tess (and Cat and Vincent) that he is edgy once and for all. Tess confesses that she was overcompensating and assures JT that they are not sexually mismatched. Which gets them in the mood but they realize that they’re still at Gabe’s place and that he has been taking a super long time in the bathroom.

WELP! When we, the audience get a glimpse at Gabe’s reflection in the mirror we see the oh so familiar yellow glowy eyes staring back at us. Gabe is in the process of becoming a beast once more. Just JT and Tess go to check on Gabe; he beasts out and escapes by jumping through a window and disappearing into the dark and stormy night.

A blissfully unaware Cat and Vincent are back at the hostel and packing up trying to decide whether or not to stay one more night. Cat is reading Rebeca Reynold’s journal and her escapes with her beast Allister. Vincent assures her that that won’t happen to them and initiates a make out session that looked like it was definitely going to lead to something more (but we’ll never know because they faded to black and cut to something else).

The last scene of the night begins with Beth waiting. A calm, cool and collected Gabe shows up. Beth asks about the serum and he admits that he didn’t bring it. Beth thinks the story isn't real and informs Gabe that she won’t be writing the story. Gabe tells her that everything he told her was true and that by morning, everyone will know the truth. Beth is confused. Gabe beasts out and rip’s Beth’s heart out and that’s where we end our episode.

Grade: C+ (Please don’t hate me… but I just couldn’t find this episode as awesome as so many of you did. I try really hard to be the bright spot in Beauty and the Beast reviews but I just couldn't this week.)

Awards

Character of the Night
• Gabe (he took revenge to a whole new level and finally did the thing I’ve been wanting him to do all season long, show his true colors).

Best Character Interactions
• JT and Tess

Most Memorable Moment
• JT threatens Vincent with the tranquilizer gun
• JT snorts at Beth’s “ridiculousness” when she talks about supercharged DNA.

Line of the Night
• Agent Knox: We’re involved because this is a federal case not a plot in a comic book.

Scene of the Night
• Gabe becomes a beast once more/Gabe rips out Beth's heart.

That Awkward Moment
• That awkward moment when you think your significant other is more sexually experienced than you. – What the hell was up with JT this episode? He was extra sensitive and acting really weird. So what if your lady is more adventurous in bed than you, just ask for some lessons and lay back and take it all in, duh.


Miscellaneous

Have You Ever?

Have you ever seen a sex district as cute as this?

Bright Spot: Gabe is once again a beast so surely that means his demise is imminent. Or at the very least we can now shove off into a corner without wasting so much screentime.

Easter Egg Alert
Beyond Anger is a real book.


I Call Shenanigans
Beth didn't have to die. She could have been an awesome asset to Team Beastie. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to add another lovely lady to the cast. Full disclosure: I really like Annie Ilzoneh. Like A LOT.

Fun Fact #1:Public Relations and Event Planning Management are two different things especially in a major city like New York.
Fun Fact #2:Lizzy D’s Closet is unfortunately not a real place in NYC or Toronto.

Style Spotlight – It’s a tie. I really loved Cat’s black and gold dress (despite where it was headed) and Heather looked tastefully stunning in her blue dress with subtle cutouts (which is so on trend it hurts).







My Favorite Tweets of the Night






Shameless Plugs and Self-Promotion
BATB Podcast (now with improved sound quality)
BATB Podcast Fan Page
BATB Podcast Email
My Blog

What did you think of this episode? How does it stack up against the rest of the episodes from this season? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments. You know I love you for reading…

PS: I would like to highly encourage you guys to tune into the podcast this week to hear the full story about the highlights and lowlights of this episode according to Kristen and I.