Archive | December 2018

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 7 + Season 1 Finale

As these two episodes were aired together, I’m going to review them together.

Episode 7 was one of the best of the series as, much like the previous episode, it kept things simple and there was one main plot–Greg’s idea to cut back on screen time.

Ironically Greg comes up with the idea to cut back on screen time whilst he’s reading an article on the harmful effects of screen time on his phone. This is hilarious and realistic, as is the moment when the girls call out Greg and Em on their hypocrisy when the former proposes the idea to them.

To pass the time that screens are no longer taking from them, the family splits into two: Greg and Sophie & Em and Chloe (plus Brad), which I think is another element that made the episode a solid one. Greg is taking Sophie to a party where a boy she has a crush on will be and on the way they get lost and realise how dependent they are on their devices for travelling. Meanwhile, Em and Chloe have a girls day with Brad present by catching yabbies and Em realises how dependent she is on technology when it comes to keeping her children safe.

The episode ends with Greg abandoning his screen time promise by going into Sophie’s friends house to watch TV and with Em and Chloe successfully catching a yabbie that the latter wants to keep as a pet. Overall I felt the ending was realistic as screen time can be given up temporarily but in this day and age, it can’t be forever. Overall this was a solid episode as it touched on a relatable issue that affects everyone and was handled in a realistic way.

The season finale revolves around Greg and Em’s efforts to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Em’s plans for their anniversary are to stay in the same crummy hotel they stayed in while they were dating, whilst Greg’s anniversary gift to her is “Grem Lager”.

Obviously their plans go awry when the Grem Lager breaks in the suitcase and ruin’s Em’s lingerie, and the motel they’re staying at is shooting an illegal porno movie, which leads to the police busting in on a naked Em in a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, Brad helps Terry and Marlo track down an Uber driver who gave them a low rating, whilst he’s searching for love…again.

Brad eventually finds the Uber driver, a Russian woman by the name of Nadia, and Terry and Marlo talk to her to try and figure out why she gave them the low rating. She tells them it’s because of Terry giving her the life coach voucher on the presumption she needed life coaching. Whilst Terry and Marlo are trying to smooth things over, they give her a Turkish Delight ANZAC biscuit, which causes an allergic reaction. Brad ends up saving her life by giving her an Epipen and they connect and get together. Overall I found this subplot to be ridiculous, and Brad taking Sophie’s dating advice unrealistic, however it was good to see Brad finally finding someone. In regards to Greg and Em’s subplot, I found it all very predictable.

Overall the Season Finale didn’t really feel like a finale until the final moments where Greg and Em perfectly sum up their married life and the show’s characters whilst pretending to pick each other up, and they end their anniversary by enjoying fish and chips with the family, Terry and Marlo, and Nadia. These final moments perfectly summed up and ended the season by fulfilling the premise of the show by displaying how Greg and Em make their 15 year marriage work.

Overall I felt How to Stay Married wasn’t as good a show as I thought it would be, the premise is promising however I felt it was poorly executed for the most part. That being said I welcome any Australian-made show that isn’t a “reality” show. I hope the show improves in the second season if there is one.

 

Stray Observations:

-Brad’s “regular customer” from the Births, Deaths and Marriages office reappears as Terry’s life coach “patient” in episode 7 with her current name being Siri Apple.

-Greg and Em got married on the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured. Depending on the time difference with the capture and when the news of it would have been reported, their wedding day would have been either 13th or 14th December 2003.

Best one liners:

  • “You look like a panda with shiny lips” (Chloe to Sophie on her make up [Episode 7])
  • “I’ve seen this place in my dreams…it didn’t go well” (Chloe to Brad inside an abandoned house on their girls day [Episode 7])
  • “One dictatorship ended, another begun” (Greg to Em on their wedding day being the same day Saddam Hussein was captured [Season Finale])
  • “They’re not night terrors I enjoy them” (Chloe to Sophie on how she sleeps [Season Finale])
  • “I’ve seen more convincing performances in a Bunnings commercial!” (Em to Greg on his attempt to start a fake fight [Season Finale])
  • “If our white goods could talk!” (Marlo to Brad on the make-up laundry sex her and Terry have [Season Finale])
  • “I could get hauled in front of the Uber tribunal” (Brad to Terry and Marlo on their request to speak with the Uber driver who gave them a low rating [Season Finale])
  • “I’ve got a few problems Sophie you’re gonna have to be more specific!” (Brad to Sophie when she asks him what his problem is [Season Finale])
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Charmed (Reboot)–Season 1, Episode 9 (Jingle Hell)

Well this was one hell (no pun intended) of an episode and mid-season finale!

The episode picks up where we were left off with Mel coming to in the tattoo parlour to see Jada standing over her, telling her that one of the Sarcana overreacted and knocked her out. Meanwhile Hunter and Parker travel to Bucharest to steal the Amulet of the Archangels from a church where they are almost banished to hell by the church’s priest via a religious staff. As most of the series so far has combined magic and science, it was good to see it also combine religion as well. Although it didn’t completely go without science in this episode as Parker’s mother and Macy’s boss, Julia, comes up with a cure to Parker’s condition by using the amulet to drain the sisters of the powers and suggests to him he gives Maggie the amulet as a Christmas gift.

The sisters are later seen getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating their tree and drinking coquito. It is then that Macy reveals that the Galvin only suffered from a broken leg from being hit by a car at the end of the previous episode and that he’s going out of town, only to be surprised when he arrives to wish her a Merry Christmas and get a Christmas kiss only to fall over himself. Whilst this is going on, Mel and Maggie are also discussing their father as he is visiting, which leads to both of them and Maggie revealing what their fathers are like to each other. This would be a more insightful moment of character development had both their respective fathers appeared on screen.

Parker then comes to visit to give Maggie the amulet gift, which ultimately leads to his downfall as Mel notices it change colour, then Parker taking it off her later and ultimately discovering what it is when she looks it up in the Book of Shadows. Macy also suspects he’s a demon when Parker shakes Galvin’s hand and his protection mark glows and makes Parker wince. As Macy is calling Mama Roz to get advice on what she saw, Hunter sneaks up on her, knocks her out, hides her in a shed and shapeshifts into her. Ultimately it fools the sisters and Harry for a while, but not the house (at first).

The cat really comes out of the bag when Macy calls for Harry when Hunter-Macy is right in front of them and attacks Harry. As Hunter is shapeshifting into Harry and then Maggie in an effort to kill the sisters, Parker uses his demon self to protect Maggie and the Sarcana (in crow form) attack Hunter and send him away. Parker than takes Maggie away to explain himself but Maggie doesn’t believe him. Although it’s unexplained how she got back to the manor, Macy, Mel and Harry try to comfort her. Keeping up Marisol’s tradition of opening Christmas gifts at midnight, the girls go to the tree to open Harry’s gifts only for Hunter to surprise them and Parker to surprise him with the staff and try to banish him to hell. Parker is unable to do so due to his illness so the sisters do it for him, only for Hunter to take Harry down with him. Just as the sisters are trying to deal with it all, Galvin reveals he has seen the whole thing and therefore now knows the sisters are witches.

This episode for me was the strongest and a fantastic mid-season finale as it lead to the climaxes of all of the story arcs—Parker’s demonic nature has finally been revealed to the sisters, Galvin knows the sisters are witches, the crows at the scene of Marisol’s death have been revealed as the Sarcana, and Harry has possibly been killed (again). All of these plot climaxes will provide endless possibilities for the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next episode and the remainder of the season goes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Madeleine Mantock’s acting chops were well and truly on display in this episode as she is portraying both Macy and Hunter impersonating Macy.

-Harry’s cooking skills were again on display in this episode with his Christmas fruitcake.

-The reason for the presence of the crows throughout the pilot were finally explained.

-The scene between Parker and Maggie at the gazebo is very reminiscent of the scene in the original series between Phoebe and Cole at the cemetery, where Cole explains himself to Phoebe after his own demonic nature was revealed.

-This is the first Christmas themed episode of Charmed ever as the original series never had a Christmas themed episode.

 

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 6

This episode was a huge improvement from last week’s.

This episode kept things single with one major story and going sans the kids and Terry and Marlo. This episode focused on Em’s high school reunion.

Throughout the episode Em hangs out with old schoolmate, Clea. After having a run in with an old teacher who accuses her of plagiarising a poem in year 12, her and Clea break into the principal’s office to find a key to a time capsule where her poem was buried. Throughout all of this, Em is trying to remember what Clea’s nickname in high school was, an answer Clea doesn’t provide. Em ends up finding the time capsule and her poem (as well as other questionable contents) where it’s revealed her “poem” is in fact Billy Joel’s The River of Dreams. In all honesty, this reveal didn’t surprise me, I knew her poem would have been plagiarised but didn’t know what it would be from. That being said the lead up to it was hilarious.

Meanwhile Greg is hanging out with a bloke named Tiz, a man in a tracksuit binging on kebabs and finds out that he was Em’s ex-boyfriend in high school, not the dapper Adam Sharpe. Although it wasn’t as obvious a reveal as Em’s “poem”, the revelation still didn’t surprise me. In fact the only real twist for me in this episode was the reveal that Clea is a “klepto” and hence her high school nickname “Clea the Klepto” was established. Also, I found Clea and Brad’s act as a “married couple” didn’t really add anything to the episode.

Overall this episode was an improvement as the story and the characters were kept simple. I hope there’s more episodes without the kids and Terry and Marlo.

 

Stray Observations:

-Em’s maiden name was Dawson.

-According to Clea, an AMEX won’t work when “jimmying” open a door, apparently Mastercard is better.

 

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 5

In all honesty this review is going to be short as I felt this was the weakest episode of the series so far.

This episode revolved around the impending hard rubbish collection day in Greg and Em’s neighbourhood. The impending collection day, along with Em realising there isn’t enough space in the house and there is an unused cubby house in the backyard, inspires her to not only do a good clean out but also have Brad move in there both for more space and so Sophie can have her room back.

Over the course of the episode Greg and Em battle over throwing items away, but what the fight really demonstrates is the constant tug of war we all have with ourselves–holding onto the past without being trapped in it and simultaneously moving forward into the future. While I felt this metaphor was played out well, it is dragged down by the weak writing of the rest of the episode.

I enjoyed the moment where the cubby house is burnt down as it is a good pay off of advice Em gave to Chloe earlier about getting rid of her own stuff. It also provides a way for the Brad subplot to keep going. I also liked the reveal that the joint Brad and Greg were smoking was in fact an old cigarette.

Jokes wise, there were solid one-liners and the running gag of Terry and Marlo collecting hard rubbish was hilarious. The latter specifically worked well as it provided a long overdue backstory into the supporting characters. However the hose joke fell flat as it was too slapstick and cliche. Another moment that fell flat was Em’s phone conversation with Amir whilst he’s doing some form of yoga–it had a lot of potential for a great gag, but instead his presence was wasted as the audience isn’t told why he’s calling or he’s doing yoga whilst on the phone. Also the presence of Verity, Brad’s latest girlfriend fell flat as she didn’t really add anything to the episode other than the stereotype of a hipster (or hippie it was hard to tell).

I’m hoping the remaining episodes show improvement.

 

Best one liners:

  • “God it’s like a headache commercial in here!” (Em on the phone to Amir walking through her noisy house)
  • “I’m keen to hear more about the beard oil!” (Amir on the phone to Em, overhearing her conversation with Verity)
  • “I was planning on doing a stargazing ab crunch tonight” (Greg to Em on the stuff in the backyard he doesn’t use)
  • “Are you saying Gillie was the first to witness our love?” (Greg to Em on his Adam Gilchrist memorabilia hanging over his bed when they were dating)
  • “You’re the hard rubbish find of the century!” (Marlo to Terry on finding hard rubbish and how they met)

How to Stay Married–Season 1, Episode 4

This episode managed to be both hilarious and relatable.

The A story this week was Greg being a coach on Sophie’s basketball team and Em believing that she hasn’t been around enough due to her new job. Throughout the episode, something is clearly up with Sophie, even more so as it’s revealed that she hasn’t scored a goal all season and is apparently getting worse. Em’s effort to be at the next game are hindered by work.

This episode is the first time that Em’s workplace and bosses have made an appearance since the pilot. Although I love Judith Lucy and she does get some great one liners, I can’t help but that her character is only used for an occasional punch line. Also, although it was good to see John Wood play a comical character for once, I found his sexually fascinated, fake-posh accent character a little too cliche and over the top. Not to mention the scenes of Em giving Morrie CPR after having a heart attack to be too much of a frankly outdated sexist cliche. I’m also not sure whether I liked the fact that there was no mention of whether he lived and the fact that the joke went nowhere afterwards.

Once Em eventually gets to the game, Sophie reveals to Greg at a crucial moment at the end of it that she hasn’t scored a goal as she is embarrassed to shoot, as she needs a sport bra. I found this revelation to be relatable, well done and very sweet. I also found that the basketball game in its entirety illustrates how over the top parents can be at children’s sports competition, which is both a sad commentary on what parenthood is like these days but also realistic.

I found the B story of Chloe taking $50 out of Greg’s wallet and using the money to exert power over her classmates to be funnier and more interesting than the A story. That being said it wasn’t strong enough to last for the whole episode so I feel the writers did a good job with this one. This subplot marks the first time that there has been a focus and character development on Chloe and she was hilarious, Vivien Turner definitely has a bright acting future ahead of her.

Overall I felt this episode was a little weak with its writing, especially with the A story, but nonetheless hilarious and relatable.

 

Stray Observations:

-Apparently there was a supplement scandal in the under 14s girls basketball league in the past.

-According to Chloe’s school principal, it’s easier to download and use an app to order the kid’s lunches rather than the “old fashioned” way of using real money. I really hope that doesn’t happen in real schools.

Best one liners:

  • “Don’t read her diary…but if you do text me!” (Em to Greg on Sophie)
  • “I love money the way guns love Americans!” (Audrey to Em on Morrie’s low-quality book making lots of money for the publishing company)
  • “I know not who Matthew Flinders is and I don’t care to find out!” (Chloe to her classmates on trying to get one of them to do her school work for her)
  • “She’s created a team of minions and enslaved half of prep!” (Chloe’s school principal to Greg and Em on Chloe’s behaviour)
  • “I’d rather stick my nipples in a garlic press!” (Audrey to the publishing company’s receptionist on doing a reading of Morrie’s book)

 

Charmed (Reboot)–Season 1, Episode 8 (Bug A Boo)

This season just keeps getting better with additional but not so mind-blowing twists.

This episode kicks off with the sisters battling with Jada, at first I thought this was a training exercise a’la the simulations via Harry’s training orb. When I found out it wasn’t, I was a little disappointed as it didn’t really feel like a Charmed battle at all. As they leave the anti-climatic battle, Jada stabs the Scythe of Tartarus into the ground and a hand pops out.

As usual the episode than shifts to focus on the sisters’ personal lives–Maggie volunteers at Aptitude Match, a dating app, Macy is working crazy hours and Mel’s focus is on witchcraft duty with Harry and Charity (her personal life wasn’t focused on it’s pretty much non-existent at this point).

Macy becoming a workaholic to close herself off from dating wasn’t much of a subplot, it was more of a way to delay the inevitable with Galvin. Once Macy finally admits she wants Galvin and finally admits that to him, things become more interesting for a moment when Galvin is hit by a car on his way to meet her at The Haunt. Whether he was hit by a demon or if it’s due to the protective magic cast on Galvin remains to be seen.

This week’s witchcraft duty focuses on cicada demons trying to find their ideal mates via the Aptitude Match app. Once Maggie realises the app is how they’re finding their mates, it didn’t surprise me that the female CEO of the app turned out to be the queen cicada. While the cicadas and the way they lay eggs were gross, I felt that the vanquish–Macy crushing the queen via a machine in the basement was way too easy and anti-climatic, especially after the stakes were raised when Macy was held hostage by them.

Meanwhile when Mel tries to fight Jada again, this time alone, Jada reveals that she is a half-whitelighter/half-witch and is part of a group called the Sarcana, a group of rogue witches who use their magic beyond the Elders’ rules. According to Jada, Marisol supported the Sarcana and they wrote a spell together. Mel destroys the Scythe and corrobates Jada’s story to Charity when she reveals she found the spell Jada mentioned. In contrast, Charity describes the Sarcana as witches who use unsanctioned magic and reveals they were founded by an Elder. Harry also reveals that his charge, Fiona (mentioned in a previous episode), was Charity’s younger sister and was part of the Sarcana and encouraged her to come out as a witch, only to leave her high and dry when it all went wrong.

Throughout the episode both the Elders and Jada try to convince Mel that their side of the story is the right one. Charity even asks Mel to join the Sarcana, whether it is purely an undercover mission remains to be seen. When Mel goes to what appears to be the Sarcana headquarters, she is knocked unconscious by another member who reveals that Fiona is in fact alive. This was the twist of this episode and while it’s a good one, it doesn’t hold a candle to last week’s one, nevertheless this story arc is an interesting and compelling one.

On the Maggie-Parker front, Parker is being pressured by his father to get a plasma transfusion to get the sisters’ DNA. Clearly Parker is falling for Maggie, but the most interesting aspect of this subplot is Hunter looking out for Parker as I feel it will present interesting problems for them and their father down the road. Although they aren’t seen with it, Maggie and Mel donate plasma at the end of the episode, and with Macy’s blood, they have the DNA they want. I feel that Alastair’s plan to have Maggie work for them to get her DNA was a hit-and-miss.

Overall this was a solid episode although it was letdown by its anti-climatic vanquish.

 

Stray Observations:

-This episode confirms that Harry and Charity had an affair, although this wasn’t really a surprise. Interesting how Mel was the first to call him out on it.

References to the original series:

  • Jada is a half-whitelighter/half-witch like Paige.
  • Harry and Charity had an affair which mirrors Piper and Leo’s initially forbidden romance, as well as Patty and Sam’s.
  • The basement was on level P3, a subtle reference to Piper’s club.

 

 

Charmed (Reboot)–Season 1, Episode 7 (Out of Scythe)

Well damn! This week, the writers threw in its biggest twist/spanner in the works yet, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

This episode kicks off with the owner of a wine store being attacked by a shadow demon and something taken from him during a blackout. It then cuts back to the sisters—Mel is using Harry’s training orbs to fantasise about Parker, she is later snapped out of it by Mel and they discuss whether to tell Macy about what they witnessed during their time travel last week, and Macy puts the mysterious key she also found last week around her neck. Harry then calls them downstairs for breakfast.

At breakfast Maggie mentions the house settling, which leads to Harry figuring out that there was a hellquake the previous night. This discussion is brief and quickly moves on to the sisters’ “normal” lives. Macy is dealing with her new boss, Julia, telling her to fire Galvin to alleviate the lab’s budget issues, while Mel is working as a bartender at The Haunt to bring in money after losing her job due to the consequences of altering time to protect Niko.

Macy’s subplot was barely visible in this episode to the point where I actually forgot about it and I personally found it to be a cliché, especially when she tries to fire him but can’t because he’s actually proving he loves and is good at his job. Mel’s subplot was also barely visible but had more solid ground as it lead to both character and story arc development—Mel realises that she wasn’t that happy at college as she was merely following in Marisol’s footsteps rather than finding her own path, and the woman she met at the bar (Jada) that seemed interested in her was an electrical demon. But I’ll get to that.

Throughout the exploration of the sisters’ personal lives, I actually forgot about the opening scenes of the episode until the mysterious man from the wine store showed up on the sisters’ doorstep and faints on Maggie. It is revealed that his name is Leon and he is a satyr, tasked with guarding one of three shards of the Scythe of Tartarus. Leon has a half human-half goat appearance and is able to conjure flowers, floral crowns, butterflies and wine out of thin air, the reason for this choice in these scenes isn’t known but it does provide a good comedic moment and insight into his character.

The sisters unfortunately don’t arrive in time to prevent the second shard from being stolen from Sela, an Egyptian fertility goddess, nonetheless it provided a great opportunity to introduce another new magical being to the series. Now that two out of the three shards have been taken by the shadow demons, the third has to be found and the sisters discover Marisol had it and the key Macy found and has been wearing activated the shards. The fighting scenes between the shadow demon and Maggie over the shard were well done, and a great twist was added when Jada shocked Mel and took the shards away from both of them.

The final moments of the episode contained the biggest twist so far—Parker is the shadow demon and a half human-half demon. In all honesty this twist simultaneously surprised and didn’t surprise me—there were hints that Parker had a dark secret throughout this episode however this seemed to be legitimately explained, and although I had previously suspected he was a demon in earlier episodes I thought it would be too much of a given. No matter how I or any of the viewers feel, it will certainly make for an interesting story arc and I wonder how different or similar it will be to the Cole-Phoebe story arc that took up the majority of season 3 of the original series.

The end of the episode also raised a lot of questions—who is the electric demon (Jada) and what does she want and plan to do with the shards? Is Jada Marisol’s killer? What are Parker and his family’s plans for the sisters? Why was Marisol chosen to guard the third shard? I’m hoping these questions will be answered in future episodes.

Overall this was a solid episode with the introduction of new magical beings, character development in all three sisters, and great twists.

 

Stray Observations:

-Harry’s cooking skills are demonstrated again with his very delicious looking British bacon buttie.

-Harry cleaning his training orb after Mel reveals Maggie was using it to fantasise about Parker was hilarious.

-Apparently Harry’s “hair of the dog” hangover cure actually contains dog hair.

-Maggie is vegan-ish.

-According to Maggie, hers and Mel’s parents weren’t together for very long.

-Harry has a fear of insects.

-The shadow demon can walk through walls/doors but still has to walk up a flight of stairs.

-Maggie’s powers are expanding to the point that she can read a demon’s mind/feelings, although as the demon was revealed to Parker, it could be argued that her powers are limited to humans/half humans and is a hint to Parker’s demonic nature.

-Maggie is considering a psychology major to expand on her telepathic/empathic powers.

 

Best one liners:

  • “Do I look like a debaucherous wine-swilling goatboy?” (Sela to the sisters)
  • “Did we really throwdown with a satyr last night?” (Macy to Mel and Harry)

 

References to the original series:

  • Parker is half human-half demon and has just started a relationship with the empathic and youngest sister, Maggie. This is clearly the reboot’s version of the Cole-Phoebe season 3 story arc.
  • Satyr—in the original series, a satyr was a magical being that lured nymphs into the open by playing music. In this series, a Satyr is a half human-half goat magical being chosen to guard one of three shards of the Scythe of Tartarus.
  • Maggie chooses to study psychology, Phoebe majored and eventually graduated with a degree in psychology. The degree helped Phoebe get her advice column job and she even went on to pursue a postgraduate degree in an effort to be a better columnist.