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Showing posts from September, 2010

Criminal Minds: JJ

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None of the new fall shows have piqued my interest sufficiently to get me to, like, watch them, let alone recap them, so I’m switching gears and turning my attention toward Criminal Minds, CBS’s workhorse crime procedural about a gaggle of smart, adorable, boundlessly likeable FBI agents who profile serial killers. For the most part, crime procedurals simply aren’t my bag, but Criminal Minds, now in its sixth season, is a notch above the rest of the pack, thanks to consistently solid writing and an excellent cast.

Let’s give this a try, shall we?

A pair of smarmy young thugs are arrested in connection with the disappearance of Kate Joyce, a young woman who vanished while partying with friends in Atlantic Beach, Maryland. Kate was last seen leaving a club with the guys, Sydney Pearson (Michael Welch) and James Barrett (Christopher Marquette), who admit to having consensual sex with her, but deny any wrongdoing; the Natalee Holloway parallels are obvious and deliberate. The local pol…

Covert Affairs: When the Levee Breaks

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A chemistry teacher named Anton Sabine gets kidnapped by armed thugs in Hong Kong. Shortly thereafter, Ben Mercer saunters up to the front gates of Langley, introduces himself as a former CIA operative, and surrenders, claiming he wants to come in from the cold.

Annie and Joan observe Ben’s interrogation. Ben confirms that he left the CIA two years ago during a mission in Sri Lanka, in which Jai was his handler. Ben’s assignment was to ingratiate himself to a dangerous arms dealer named Felix Artigas. Ben had planned to accomplish this by handing Anton Sabine over to Artigas for the purposes of making chemical weapons. After he fell in love with Annie, Ben was suddenly infused with a more noble spirit and decided he couldn’t ruin Sabine’s life in that manner. Instead, he went rogue and smuggled Sabine to Hong Kong.

Annie tries to grill Jai about his past with Ben. Jai claims he’d love to tell her everything, but the information is classified. (Annie grouses, “The problem with …

Covert Affairs: I Can’t Quit You Baby

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A medical supplier named Donald Ridley is detained by Customs while flying back into the United States from London with a crate of undeclared diamonds in his possession, intended to finance Angolan insurgents. For whatever unfathomable reason, Arthur brings evil old Henry Wilcox out of retirement to consult on the case (Arthur: “I may not like you, but I respect your talent.” Henry: “Isn’t that funny? I like you, Arthur, but I don’t respect your talent at all”). Outstanding! Everything’s more fun when Henry’s around. Annie and Auggie are a couple of nice kids, but it’s the supporting characters -- Henry, Jai, Joan, Arthur -- who really make this show zip right along.

A chatty young vice-consul at the Embassy in London named Vivian Long (adorable former child star Anna Chlumsky, who has evolved into an adorable adult) has been routinely providing Ridley with a highly fishy surplus of assistance in easing his shipments through Customs. The CIA suspects Vivian is complicit with the…

Psych: One, Maybe Two, Ways Out

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Summer finale time, folks: Shawn and Gus walk along the waterfront, eating ice cream cones while Shawn mopes about how Juliet is now happily dating Declan. I hope Juliet continues dating Declan, just so we can have Nestor Carbonell around on the show for a good long stretch. He’s awesome. Anyway, as they chomp on their ice cream (Shawn contemplates opening an ice cream shoppe, and yes, he does pronounce the superfluous “e”), a slinky, black-clad, gun-toting babe (Franka Potente, hooray) approaches and claims she needs their help. Her name is Nadia, and she works with Ewan O’Hara, Juliet’s covert-operative brother (introduced in last season’s “You Can’t Handle This Episode”). She needs to find her former mentor, a man named Strabinsky (Jon Gries), who disappeared off the grid a while back, so he can help her erase all traces of her past missions and go on the run.

As Nadia explains this, a helicopter zips overhead. Someone leans out and fires an assault rifle down at Nadia and t…

Covert Affairs: Fool in the Rain

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At the annual assembly of the World Trade Organization in Toronto, an amiable Persian man named Yahya (Mousa Kraish, who, by the way, has a totally adorable personal website, which makes me suspect he might be chock-full of personality) slips away from the rest of the Iranian delegation and pops into a taxi, instructing the driver to take him as close to the United States as his limited funds will allow. Next stop: the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

To distract herself from thoughts of Ben, Annie stays late at the office, steeped in unnecessary busywork. Joan convinces her to take a few days off to clear her head. Back at home, Hurricane Danielle bursts in on Annie while she’s taking a relaxing soak in a sudsy bath to rant incoherently about how Michael’s brand-new job is conflicting with their planned anniversary getaway. Note to Annie: Find another place to live, stat. Danielle goes on at some length about Michael’s utter selfishness, while the brief spurt of bonhomie I felt …

Psych: Shawn 2.0

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We open with Shawn listening to an audio book: Internity, a teen-geared saga about vampire doctors. Aaaaaaand it’s already clear the Psych writers are fully caffeinated and at the top of their game this week.

This week’s crime: An elderly woman, Lucy Friedman, died at an outdoor Philharmonic concert. The Santa Barbara Police Department assumes the death was due to natural causes, but Shawn notices a can of bug spray beside Lucy’s corpse. He suspects her death is linked to two other recent cases in which aerosol cans were found next to the bodies. Before Shawn can dazzle the SBPD with his insights, his thunder is stolen by the arrival of famed criminal profiler Declan Rand, who proclaims that Lucy was murdered, then immediately sets about flirting shamelessly with an instantly-smitten Juliet. Why, it’s Nestor Carbonell! Nice to see him and his fabulous eyelashes back on my television screen (as Shawn puts it, Declan has “the most impossibly dark eyelashes on any man ever”). The…

Covert Affairs: What Is and What Should Never Be

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We open with the plot already in full swing: Annie lies sprawled on the concrete floor of a warehouse, injured and dazed. There’s a gun and the dead body of a young woman nearby. Annie picks up the gun and gets to her feet, looking confused as all hell. While she tries to make sense of the situation, a group of uniformed police officers swarm the warehouse, guns drawn, and order her to drop her weapon.

Annie is taken into the custody of the FBI. Back at Langley, Joan and Arthur (hi, Arthur! Good to see you -- you were missed last week. Stick around for the rest of the season, will you?) discuss the situation. Joan expresses concern for Annie’s safety. Arthur, being Arthur, is more concerned about still being able to use Annie to draw out Ben Mercer.

Special Agent Rossabi (Noam Jenkins), the Fed who arrested Annie in the pilot episode after she and Auggie were caught breaking into the morgue, interrogates her about the incident in the warehouse. Joan arrives, in the flimsy guise…