Legends: New TNT Series

TNT rolls out its brand new undercover series called Legends later tonight. Starring Sean Bean as a deep cover undercover operative for the FBI, the series has a strong production team behind it. Howard Gordon of Homeland and the X-Files is on board, as is Brad Turner of 24 and Hawaii Five-0. That looks like an impressive lineage.

As the pilot episode begins, Bean as Martin Odum has been deep undercover with a right-wing militia group called the Citizens Army of Virginia. His cover ID is Lincoln Dittmann, a disillusioned construction worker who has lost his family and his job due to the recession which he blames on the US Government. He’s itching for payback/revenge in the form of action and starts to agitate to do something more important than deliveries and maintenance. But before he can be admitted to the covert action wing, he must undergo more vetting and be granted approval by the founding father.

The local head roughs him up a bit, and plays with his head to see if he’ll break under pressure. He doesn’t, but just then, this outpost is raided by the ATF.

Odum/Dittman and another guy get busted (for show) by the ATF. Next thing you know we are back in the San Fernando Valley in California. Odum is called in by his handler Crystal (Ali Larter) and she reports to Yates of the CIA who is played by Steve Harris. While at HQ in LA, we meet the rest of the crew, Odum gets a call which he takes as Dittman and is told to report to Chicago for an assignment, and he will finally meet the ‘founding father’.

So inside of the first 15 minutes, we’ve gone from Virginia to California to Chicago. The CAV is going to blow up a meeting of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) which would place all of the world’s leading bankers in one place. That sounds ominous and that’s your set up.

I like Sean Bean. I think he carries plenty of menace when’s he’s supposed to be bad (Patriot Games) and plenty of rough-hewn charisma when he’s supposed to be good like when he played Boromir in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Ned Stark in Games of Thrones. Here he has the role of a smart and tough operative who needs a new cover and back story for each assignment that he takes. Which brings us to a problem. A mysterious stranger asks Odum, Who are you? Which means, Who do you think you are?

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Murder in the First: Season Finale – Blunt the Edge

So Murder in the First wrapped the cases and the season tonight. The final episode was called Blunt the Edge. I’ve got two questions – did you notice that the po-po interviewed Salter (once) and Mrs. Harbach (twice) in this episode, but they did not show us any interview with Bill Wilkerson. That’s the first question. The second question is bit easier to answer. The phone that was used to capture Blunt’s confession to Wilkerson, belonged to who?

I’ll answer that one myself – Wilkerson. But considering that we did not see Wilkerson hand the phone off to the police, it seemed a bit underhanded. Enjoyable? Of course. But still it was a bit of dramatic sleight of hand. Conceived in such a way, that we could not have seen it coming, whereas the fake bug in Wilkerson watch was easy to expect. Of course that woman standing on the steps as Blunt walked in to police HQ had the phone. If they hadn’t had made a point of showing her to us, I wouldn’t have wondered who she was. That is, until she handed the phone to Hildy Mulligan. Then again maybe it was simply a micro-recorder as there is a likelihood that the voice recording could have been overheard, captured and then downloaded to a recorder rather than a cell phone. Then again, the warrant did specify that a cell-phone would be in play.

Okay, we already knew that a) Blunt killed Strauss as he had admitted it to English and Mulligan. We also knew that English had told Blunt that he would get him for the Nyers murder. As I watched the dominoes marched in like a processional, it was clear that the script would end with Blunt in the police lockup. If any one was going to kill him it would have happened early on.

Right off the bat, the episode opened with Blunt and the lawyer Hertzberg giving Mrs. Harbach the half million. So I knew that would be one of the fatal flaws. I just didn’t expect the police to get on to that so fast. And talk about dollar wise and penny foolish. Blunt is giving Mrs. Harbach a half million – did they have to make the Harbachs pay for the medication (and the entry was dated before the Nyers murder) and well before Mrs. Harbach got the money.

Second – the business about the gun. Didn’t that seem far too easy? The gun was traced back to a detective who gave it to Salter who gave it to Blunt who gave it to Wilkerson who gave it to old man Harbach. I can hear the dominoes falling.

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New Thoughts on the Final Season of The Killing

I’m still digesting the last two episodes and the overall Final Season of The Killing. But I can offer some insights. Please consider that these are not meant to be all-inclusive or absolutes. As you all know, they’re just opinions. First the Positives or Pro reactions.

About the cinematography – I really liked the slow-moving aerial shots which served as the indicators of the transitions of both time and place. Yes, they were repetitive, but they brought forth the tranquility that exists outside when you step away, and place yourself ‘above’ the fray. While often the transition was bringing us toward a cauldron like St. George Academy, or the Stansbury home, or even Linden’s ‘set apart’ island home, the aerial shots served as a respite, by breaking the tension. With the silence of elevation with just an occasional bird noise along with some mild musical scoring, it was like a brief easing off the gas pedal emotionally speaking. A chance for the viewer to grab some light and lightness of feeling which always follows the dark and the darkness.

And the closeups. One of my readers liked the aspect of the closeups which seemed to come with far greater frequency in Ep 5 and Ep 6 than earlier. Probably different directors. You know, closeups are really a dual mechanism, or offer an alternate perspective.

On the one hand, closeups brings us right up close to the actors or characters and we see everything – a tremor, a tic, and a quick insight in that instant when the characters eyes change according to what they’re thinking. Like a smile that starts but is halted before it is noticed. Or the downturned mouth. We see with a greater clarity their hesitance to say something, or even we know visually that they struggling with their thoughts. An example that offered a complete silence as a reaction was when Linden pulled a gun on Holder. She needed the release of violence, or a chance at violence because a storm was brewing inside of her. She couldn’t hold on to that thought as she collapsed under the weight of her own action.  Holder’s face conveyed shock, anger, revulsion, and more than a trace of pity. It was straight forward. His partner hadn’t trusted him. His disappointment as well as all the other emotions  were so obvious on his face while he said nothing. He just left.

On the other hand, the closeup pushes everything else out of the picture. The loss of the depth of field which creates a blurred and indistinct background gives us only the character to focus on. The external distractions simply blend in to nothingness. I think it heightens the intensity and is a very powerful stylistic choice.

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Murder in the First: S1 E9 – Family Matters

Only one episode remains in the San Francisco murder cases on Murder in the First on TNT. As I surmised at the end of the previous episode’s write-up – that even though Erich Blunt walked free on the charges of murdering the Strauss woman and the unborn fetus

Blunt: Still think I did it? Mulligan: Yeah. We do. Blunt: Well, you are right. I did kill that dumb bitch.

Blunt: Still think I did it?
Mulligan: Yeah. We do.
Blunt: Well, you are right. I did kill that dumb bitch.

- the police (Inspectors English and Mulligan) had heard with their own ears – You were right, I killed the dumb bitch, words that should never have been spoken, were spoken by Mr. Blunt.

I also gave my thoughts on who might be gunning for Mr. Blunt. I was wrong about Ivana West. I had said that she might be peeved because Blunt might fire her. Rather than having that happen, West and the nerdy programmer that Blunt had taken advantage of – founded their own competing company. West looked rather pleased with her self as she gave Blunt the news. Blunt told his Corporate Counsel David Hertzberg to immediately prepare a law suit. On what charge?, the lawyer said. I don’t know, think of something, was Blunt’s snarled reply.

My second choice was Bill Wilkerson, the pilot of the Blunt jet, and also a former lover of Ms Strauss. His motive would likely come from the fact that Blunt had a hand in destroying his marriage. He may have cheated on his wife, but he still loved her. From all appearances, he is none too pleased with Blunt.

My third choice was Lt. Kono. I picked him because he didn’t seem that obvious and he had a relationship with DA Perez.As I said last week, that fact has remained pretty submerged. Until this week, when we saw Hildy Mulligan who was coming down in an elevator to the parking garage. What she saw when the doors opened was Kono and Perez kissing deeply. She stayed in the elevator, without being seen, and kept the fact to herself.

Okay that’s where I am. The show opened with Blunt being interviewed by Larry King, and we clearly saw that West was displeased about what Blunt said – he claimed to have run the company even while he was in jail. Wilkinson was angry as well. And so was DA Perez. So the show set them up as aggrieved parties.

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The Killing: S4/E2 – Unraveling

The Killing S4 E2 is called Unraveling. An excellent title seeing how Linden is wound up so tight it seems she likely to snap or crack or unravel at any moment. While unravel is a fair term to describe as a possibility for Linden, I think she compares much more like a piano wire just about ready to snap. It was fairly exciting to see her take on both Gregg Henry’s Detective Reddick and Joan Allen’s Colonel Margaret Rayne verbally in this episode.

Searching for clues in both the Stansbury beach house as well as the main house, Linden and Holder discovered another woman’s clothing. The search also revealed some photographs of the Stansbury daughter that had been killed. A simple bit of deduction showed that the pictures were likely taken by someone with a zoom lens and the proper angle to shoot the images which led them to the neighboring house.

Which leads to the neighbor, a photographer. He was the one who had phoned the police on the night of the shootings. He is different; he’s peculiar in the way that artists often are. Of course he worked at giving off that vibe as well. When Linden and Holder ask him about a couple of the photos, he said, So she kept them…

After a minor scuffle, Holder had him in handcuffs, as Linden searched the house. As expected, since he had admitted knowledge of the photos, and since he had already described himself as a photographic artist, it was not surprising to find more of the pictures. In fact a huge number of them covering an entire wall.

This kind of ‘display’ is usually symptomatic of a classic obsession meaning either a pervert or even more seriously – a pervert with murderous tendencies. Ross admitted to being a loner, and he had inherited the house when his mother had passed. So he had opportunity and means – but not necessarily a motive – at least so far.

But I am troubled because even with an obsessive amount of photos, plus the knowledge that the brother knew about the photos – neither of those make him a killer. And he’s already a known entity to the police. It is just the beginning of the second episode, so I think it is too early. Plus the show’s DNA suggests that we be strung along for a while.

If we go back to the woman’s clothing – a new avenue of investigation opens. It seems that this woman, named Kat Newton (she’s played by Eve Harlow – a grand stage name if there ever was one) has left finger prints all over the Stansbury house. Not only that, Kyle Stansbury denied knowing her, AND she had a few entries on the police files for some minor crimes and one about a physical assault charge, that was dropped because the victim declined to press charges. And who was that? Mr. Stansbury.

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Outlander – New TV Series on the Starz Network

What if your future … was the past?

That’s the tagline of the new original series on the Starz NetworkOutlander.

Adapted from the international best-selling books authored by Diana Gabaldon, the series spans romance, history, science-fiction and adventure. The epic is set in the Scottish Highlands, and begins just after the end of World War II. So that makes it 1945.

A married couple, the Randalls, separated by almost five years of the war, is finally united. They decide to visit the highlands for a second honeymoon vacation, which is the best way for them to reconnect after the war.

So the highlands it is – with its special light, clean air, and the craggy mountains, streams,and the grasses, and of course the ruined castles – all make for a superb backdrop to the story. Besides what you can see and feel and touch, there’s the Scottish folklore filled with tales of ghosts. Off they go and they pass a high peak which was known as a place where back in the day, the British soldiers sat in hiding ready to rush down from their protected armaments to ambush and do battle with the Scottish rebels.

Of course there was a Druid-like ruin with a massive stone that our heroine Claire was attracted to. After visiting it with her husband, she went back the next day and touched the stone – and in a blink of the eye, she had time-traveled back to the same place , only 200 years earlier.

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the KILLING: Season Four Episode One – Blood in the Water

Back for its fourth season is the KILLING. Formerly, this was an AMC production, it is now available via Netflix streaming service, and all six episodes are currently available. So you can watch them consecutively in one long day, or two a day for three days, or spread them out as you see fit. For the record – this post will just be about the first episode, of this, the final season.

Yes, we are back in Seattle with its dark and threatening skies, and leaden clouds,  with the ever-present gloom and it’s chilly atmosphere. And that’s just the people. Detectives Linden and Holden return in what might be called the 2014 version of ‘the never-ending story’.

When we last saw them, at the close of the third season, Detective Linden had just executed Skinner, who was the serial killer of young people that they had been hunting, as well as Linden’s former partner, lover, and boss. As Holder would say, “He was on his knees when you shot him. No one will ever believe it was self-defense.”

So they had to dispose of the body, and get their stories straight, because despite Linden’s feelings of guilt, she still felt that shooting Skinner was justified. Holder would later say – You want to go to prison? Is that it? I ain’t going to prison. That is after Linden arrived home with Skinner’s blood still in her hair, on her hands, and on her clothes, and she had to shower it all away. Later Holder would arrive at her house, so they could go over the details and console each other. He told her to get a few hours of shut-eye before they went in.

I aint going to prison

I aint going to prison

So begins the KILLING – Season Four Episode One called, unsurprisingly, Blood in the Water. So despite Reddick’s questions and generally smart-assery, the two detectives stayed stoic and they said that had not found Skinner.

But a new case, a savage family murder is their next call. A family of four, The Stansbury’s had all been brutally murdered. All shot multiple times. Each one shot in the face as well. The fifth member of this family was found with a gunshot wound, that had not killed him. He was found unconscious but alive, with a gun near his hand.

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