Quantico – Episode 1-02 America: Review

You know, when you sit down to describe a television show, it is not often that the term exhausting comes to mind. The exception to that theory would be if you are discussing the ABC-TV series Quantico.

Using the flash forward / flash back model that worked so well for the fans of How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico seems like HTGAWM on speed. We are continually switching back and forth between FBI Trainee dorm life, class rooms, lecture halls, and case studies. I’m talking about the events of 9 months previous when the new recruits arrived and began their training at Quantico.

There’s all sorts of alliances and rivalries, flirtations and competitions, and all of that is not confined to the agent trainees.

We have come to discover that there is an analyst class their as well. Plus who knows what is really going on between the Training Supervisor Miranda Shaw and one of the lead instructors Agent Liam O’Connor.

There’s Nimah and her twin. They are not known by their fellow classmates, but Miranda knows about them. Then you have Ryan Booth who is also posing as a trainee but he is somewhere above that as he is spying on Alex Parrish. O’Connor knows something about that too – as he’s the one running Booth.

Then we have Shelby (the blonde Georgian), who has a crush on the analyst Elias. Simon is set up as the FBI Academy’s first ever gay trainee but he has his eyes on Nimah, while another male student pursues him.

Have I mentioned Nathalie? She wants nothing more than to get the best of Priyanka Chopra’s lead character Alex Parrish.

We bounce around from lectures, to training exercises, to jogging. What we don’t get is seeing anyone study, sleep, or even eat.

I tell you it is exhausting.

Meanwhile in the flash forward present Alex has been named the prime suspect in the Grand Central Station bombing.  But, as she says … If I am the bomber why would I leave a room full of evidence in my own apartment?

That makes a lot of sense to me – but she has only said this so far to Nathalie. Alex and Nathalie also have a scene where they are fighting. Nathalie is trying to capture Alex, and Alex is desperate to escape. This was the single worst ever fight scene editing that I have ever watched.  The apparent use of stunt doubles and stand-ins was never ever more apparent.

You never saw a face in the fight. And when the fight became a chase up a fire escape then across roof tops, every leap led to a rolling, tumbling landing with each and every angle carefully arranged to conceal the faces.

I mean why have a chase and a fight scene that are so obviously staged and using doubles – which I understand, and then ruin it all with some crummy editing.

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Quantico – New TV Series on ABC

Did you catch the new ABC-TV Series called Quantico which premiered on Sunday night?

I did. I especially wanted to see this one because the lead actress, Priyanka Chopra, is one of Bollywood’s leading stars. I also saw her in person last spring at the IIFA held in Tampa. On the surface, it seemed like a bit of unusual casting for American TV – an Indian actress portraying a FBI Agent; but in the name of fairness, I should tell you that Priyanka attended high schools in both Newton, Massachusetts, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

As the show opens, a woman is lying unconscious on a slab of concrete in what looks like the very recent aftermath of a huge explosion. I’ll return to that shortly. But before we can learn anything, we flash backwards 9 months and we cut quickly to Augusta, Georgia, where a blond girl is walking about a large mansion which still has all of its content but the major furniture pieces are all covered with sheets – signifying that it is likely that no one lives there.

And before we can learn anything about her we cut to Oakland, California where we see the original woman from the opening, now jogging. She returns home, and we learn that she is on her way somewhere as her mother conspicuously tells her (and us) You’re going to be late for the train – I printed your ticket. But something is amiss. This woman had concealed some papers under the corner of a rug in her bedroom, and, moments later, as the taxi begins to leave, the cabbie says to her, Train station, yes?, and she says, No – the airport.

In my opinion, this was a bit ham-fisted. We are now thinking – why is this woman going to a unknown destination that she’s been very careful to keep from her mother. Call me suspicious, but while this was not all wrong it came on too quickly and seemed forced. Did we really need to know that she has secrets this early – basically within the first two minutes of the series?

Cut to the airplane which is flying across the country to Washington DC. This time the girl from the slab, and then Oakland, will meet a guy on the plane. It could be she is telling more lies but we will have to wait and see. He buys her a drink.

Flash to Salt Lake City, then to Manhattan, then to Logan, Ohio. In these places we meet a guy in the Mormon Tabernacle, then a gay guy, then a woman who looks Middle Eastern. She will need to buy something in the convenience store in order to use the bathroom. There she locates a concealed phone wrapped in plastic and hidden in the toilet tank. She changes from wearing a dark scarf into wearing a black hijab head covering. Before driving away in a different car than she arrived in.

We know nothing about these people, but you get a feeling about them that conveys that they are all up to something that’s not readily apparent. Now don’t forget we are still in the flashback mode – which places us some 9 months in the past. We then cut to a car parked in the airport garage. Two people are having vigorous sex. It is the Oakland jogger and the guy she met on the plane.

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Bollywood & Tampa = The IIFA Show at Raymond James Stadium

One thing that must be stated upfront – they sure know how to put on a show. The Tata Motors IIFA Awards at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium,

as part of the videocon d2h IIFA Weekend was simply unforgettable. Yes, it started 100 minutes late. Yes there were missed cues, technical snafus, and other mistakes – but damn, this was one thrilling show.

The Green Carpet Walk (which was supposed to start at 4:30 but didn’t) hit a high point when Deepika Padukone hit the greens just a bit before 8:00 PM. The crowd ate it up.

Following her was Kevin Spacey – yes the very same Kevin Spacey who also is recognized the world over as Francis Underwood of the Netflix Series House of Cards. Later, Spacey would don a lungi and dance with Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor.

There was Priyanka Chopra, and Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan on the carpet too. Let’s not forget Anil Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, and John Travolta either.

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Girl Rising: Day Three at the IIFA in Tampa, Florida

Ruksana was a small child, living with her parents, on the streets of an unnamed Indian city, They were so poor that they hadn’t a proper home, instead they lived behind and below plastic sheeting, and corrugated cardboard, and pieces of wood or bits of tarpaulin. Life in this city was described by the narrator (speaking as an adult Ruksana):

This place teemed with life. With so many people each going their own way like thousands and thousands of different rivers.

As poor as they were, Ruksana’s parents sacrificed what little they had to keep her in school. They deemed that an education was the only chance for Ruksana to escape from the endless chains of poverty that go on for generations and generations in some parts of the world.

Then later, when urban planners, government ministers, city health inspectors, and private developers put their heads together, the shanties, and street dwellings came down. The people were displaced under the guise of urban renewal.

Now the narrator spoke again in the voice, or thoughts of a young Ruksana:

With thousands and thousand of rivers, we are now adrift.

It was a heart breaking moment. The narration for this particular segment was made by Indian actress Priyanka Chopra. What’s more, this segment also included another famous voice, that of Liam Neeson.

The film is called Girl Rising and it is the story of nine girls from Peru to Nepal, from Sierra Leone in Africa to India, Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Haiti. Their stories are remarkable.

Here’s a description of the film from the website www.girlrising.com:

From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, Girl Rising journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams. Prize-winning authors put the girls’ remarkable stories into words, and renowned actors give them voice.

The voice actors included Anne Hathaway, Priyanka Chopra, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto, Alicia Keys, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, Cate Blanchett, Chloe Moretz, Kerry Washington, and Liam Neeson.

To say the film has impact is just being truthful as well as being an understatement. As we hear in the film in the voices of some of the girls portrayed: I am change. I am my own master now. I feel as if now I have power. I feel I can do anything.

Said another way: One girl with courage is a revolution.

And from the trailer: There comes a film – about changing the world – one girl at a time.

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7 Khoon Maaf

She mates, then she kills...”, so said federal investigator Alexandra Barnes (played by Debra Winger) in the 1987 classic film Black Widow which starred Theresa Russell as the predatory Catharine Peterson who would marry wealthy men, then collect the inheritance and or insurance benefits upon their death. The Peterson character was a gold digger, plain and simple. Sorry, make that a murdering gold digger.

But what if the woman was already wealthy and she married again and again for love. Only to find that her husbands were flawed men and she would be disappointed over and over. In 7 Khoon Maaf, a February 2011 film directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the wife is played magnificently by Priyanka Chopra. She meets, marries, and murders her first six husbands.

While her motives differ from Russell’s Black Widow portrayal, the results are the same. A wedding is always followed by a funeral, which is followed by another wedding.

However the 1987 Black Widow was told as detective story with the cop (Winger) becoming suspicious then having to prove the case. In 7 Khoon, the police have only a small role. This film isn’t about the detection of the crimes. Instead the mystery is about whether Priyanka’s Susanna will ever meet and marry the right man.

This film was an adaption of the short novella called Susanna’s Seven Husbands written by Ruskin Bond. Bond himself appears late in the film as yet another prospective husband.

What is really interesting about the film is that Susanna is ably assisted by a trio of family retainers – a butler, a cook, and a third man who is a jockey and all-around jack of all trades. As Susanna ages, so too do these staff members whose loyalty goes beyond all boundaries. They are not only the household staff, they also serve as Susanna’s surrogate family, but they are also complicit in the murders themselves. In one chilling episode we watch the 3rd husband brutalize Susanna and while this is going on, the household staff is busily and calmly digging a grave that this man will soon be in.

Bhardwaj has delivered to us a drama, or maybe it is a black comedy that is heavy on the side of the black or darkness, and light on the side of comedy. But I guess that is the whole point of a black comedy – you’re not  expecting laughs – instead you get the chills.

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