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Sunday, April 24, 2005
TV Round-Up
This one could be a lengthy one. You have been warned.

Enterprise: In A Mirror Darkly, Part One
Visits the Star Trek's mirror universe are nothing new. We've been there in the original series in the classic episode "Mirror, Mirror", we journeyed there five times over the course of DS9 and the latest Shatner novels have been just full of jaunts into the mirror universe. So, the fact that Enterprise planned to visit the mirror universe wasn't exactly what I'd call earth shattering or ground breaking.

But it's how Enterprise visited the mirror universe that is ground breaking. In each of our previous visits to the mirror universe, we went through to the other side with a familiar character. And a lot of the tension in the episode came from character from our universe trying to get back the familiar, safe universe we saw week in and week out. Not so with Enterprise's journey to the dark side. Instead, we go over into the mirror universe and follow the adventures of the Enterprise crew there.

It's an interesting risk for the show. Becuase it means that you aren't having at least one sympathetic character the audience can identify with. And it's not like the classic TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" where we start in our universe, go to a parallel timeline and then set things back on track by episode's end. Enterprise takes a bigger risk--there is no huge reset button at the end of this one. We're going dark and we're not looking back.

And you know what--it worked.

Yes, I have to admit that Friday evening as I watched this episode, my internal little Trek geek was going crazy. References to "Mirror, Mirror" "The Tholian Web" and actually seeing a Tholian on-screen! An attack by Tholians using their web with more than two ships slowly building a web! Small references to events that have taken place over the course of Enterprise as a series being slightly tweaked. A new look at first contact (brilliantly marrying the footage from First Contact with newly shot footage). Even a new, darker opening credits for this one. Wow, wow, wow, it was all good. And the cast was having a great time, hamming it up. Special props have to go to John Billingsley who clicked as the mirror version of Phlox. Phlox here was dark, nasty and vicious--but yet he got such a thrill out of his job. It was creepy and completely compelling to watch all at the same time.

But there was also a lot of other fun things happening here. The dark, moody, bitter Tripp, the Captain's woman Hoshi, the traitor T'Pol with her mid-riff bare. Reed's turn as Archer's number one goon. Reed invents the agony booth. Porthos is a rotweiller. The ship being slightly redone in the exterior shots and the, the music really added to the mood.

About the only thing I didn't find all that compelling or convincing was Archer in the mirror universe. I will admit I did question why Archer didn't just kill Forrest to get him out of the way. And I do wonder how it is that Vulcans are slaves in the mirror universe now but don't appear to be later in "Mirror, Mirror."

But when an episode is actually this much and as entertaining as it was--and since we get more next week--I can leave those aside and whole heartedly say that I really, really enjoyed this episode. And I can't wait to see more next week. It's also episodes like this one that tie together elements of continuity from the original series and do it a compelling, interesting fashion that make regret that the voyages of the Enterprise crew have been cut short. Again, I think this show was just hitting a creative stride and it's episodes like this one that confirm it for me.

Alias: Another Mr. Sloane
Last week, when we had the dramatic reveal that there was a second version of Slaone running about the globe, played by Joel Grey, I felt sure the writing staff was trying to take the easy way out. They'd fallen so in love with the idea that Sloane be the one who pay for the hit on Sydney that they'd gone with it, without thinking through how it would all play out on screen, once you got past the jaw dropping moment of--holy cow, Sloane ordered the kill. I was a bit skeptical about how the new, evil Slaone clone would turn out, but so far, I've got to admit they seem to have some kind of handle on just where all this might be going. Not that they can't drop the ball--they've done that before, big time. (For example, see last year's epiosde that explained why Syd had lost her memory for two was a good concept ruined by the fact they took an extremely easy way out of the storyline).

So, we find out there's a second version of Slaone running about--one who is obsessed with Rimbaldi in the same way our Slaone was for years until Nadia came along. Interesting that in a week in which Enterprise goes "what if" and jaunts over to a parallel universe, Alias does sort of the same thing with Slaone. Let's play "What if?" with Sloane. What if he'd kept following his Rimbaldi obsession--where would he be now? He'd still be hiding out, playing out his agenda to assemble--what exactly? I'm not sure what we assembled here or why we had to have the wriggling in your seats scenes of Michelle Forbes having her hands sanded down with a belt sander. (Between that and Jack's interrorgation on 24, it's not been a good week for fingers on spy shows).

I will give the show credit. Any time you can get Ron Rifkin out there, doing something besides acting like Snidley Whiplash, it's a good thing. And we get to see a range here. From his cool, calm in talking to Nadia to his rage at beating Grey Sloane's henchman to death to his dark obsession at gaining access to the Rimbaldi artifacts again, Rifkin was compelling. He was interesting. The character worked and was far more entertaining that he's been, quite frankly, all season.

Veronica Mars: Weapons of Class Destruction & Hot Dogs
I'm slowly becoming convinced that whatever was in the water JOss Whedon was drinking, Rob Thomas has found some as well. With the early renewal of Veronica Mars, obsessive fans (like myself) can now focus on the myriad of mysteries that are supposed to be resolved by the end of the show. And just as you think you've got it all figured out, Thomas and his writing staff throw in a new twist. In the past two weeks, Duncan runs away when he finds out Vernoica is keeping a file on him and Weevil breaks into Lilly's bedroom to find a message written in a decoder pen. I love how this show just drops in tid bits of the story and then makes them pay off later. And how even the mystery of the week stuff is fun to watch. There aren't many shows that can balance the needs of an on-going storyline with the needs of an episodic television story and have all the parts be compelling, entertaining and totally watchable. And as addictive as it has been. I am loving where this story is going and can't wait to see more. It's just one reason that Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. EST may be the best hour of TV.

And just when I think I've figured out who killed Lilly Kane, they throw another red herring into the mix. At this point, I have no clue, though my money is on Duncan. But then again, that makes too much sense....

House: Babies and Bathwater
I'm not quite sure what I expected of the final battle between House and Vogler, but this wasn't quite it. After five weeks of it's my way or the highway, for Vogler to just take his money and go home seemed a bit anti-climatic. I did agree with Cutty that really no one one here...they lost the chance to do good with his money and House aliennated himself from the hospital staff and his staff a bit more. So, I'm hopeful that as the rest of season one plays out, we'll see some of the fall out of that. How great would it be to see House not able to do an experimenetal treatment because the hospital didn't have the funds from Vogler? That might be a tricky little dilemma.

Meanwhile, two sets of parents come in, each dealing with very different baby issues. And there are no good choices, no good answers. Just a lot of heartache and sorry. And some hard choices to make. Wow, seeing the couple struggle with trying to save the baby and the mother was just heartbreaking. And to see the new father hold his premature son in his arms after the mother died in trying to save reminded me of ER's best hour "Love's Labor's Lost."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/24/2005 01:39:00 PM | |
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