In the first few minutes of “Eight Slim Grins”, a bearded man grabs Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) from behind. This character has shown up in several flashback scenes, as well as appearing to track Jane in the first two episodes. In short order, she elbows him and flips him onto a chair; he picks up a chair leg and knocks her tooth out. Spoiler alert: they fight some more. When he’s finally shot by a sniper, he falls to the floor, tells her not to trust anyone, and dies. In retrospect, his advice seems a little redundant for someone who’s had her memory wiped, received a full body tattoo, and been dropped in Times Square wrapped in a duffle bag.
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It tends to be the norm that, when recreating the life of a legend in biopic form, the rendering comes out all wrong. This is not exactly the case with 1994’s Madonna: Innocence Lost, a TV movie that aired on Fox and emphasized the early beginnings of the singer’s (portrayed by Terumi Matthews) career. Its largely accurate, if not highly stylized, interpretation of Madonna’s hand-to-mouth existence as a ragamuffin of the downtown New York scene from 1980 to 1983 possesses the sort of terribleness you would expect of a TV movie—but it’s the kind of trash diet that leaves you feeling fulfilled, somehow.
Change is inevitable. It is everywhere and in everything. But some change is more foreboding, more catastrophic: the loss of a loved one, a divorce, and major injury.
To the characters in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, those very human changes mean perhaps just as much as they do to any fictional character, but as Marvel’s Inhumans expose their powers and their capabilities, change will be much more challenging, at the personal level, for those evolving into some other form of human; it will also mean enormous change for those still constrained by their traditional humanity.
NBC has a habit of trying the same idea over and over again. Two years ago, the television network used their popular singing competition, The Voice as the lead into a high-concept crime espionage drama The Blacklist. This concept worked well enough for the network to try a similar series: Blindspot. As in The Blacklist, a person with a great deal of information surrenders to or is found out by the government. That person make reference to an agent (out of the blue) to work with, thus beginning a series of adventures in which the agent and the person with info solve crimes and capture bad guys.
In both cases, neither drama stands up to critical examination: plot holes, insane coincidences, and conveniences saturate the scripts. The big question is: will Blindspot be able to have the same draw as The Blacklist? At this point, it is too early to tell. There are a few differences between the shows that merit notation.
Yesterday it was reported widely—and briefly—that over 700 Muslim pilgrims were massacred when human stampedes erupted on a ritual journey to Mecca. I stress “briefly” because every few years we hear of such semi-suicidal, lemming-like massacres among the Hajj-driven faithful, yet journalists, always afraid to trespass into sociology, never offer any rational account for civilians trampling one another. The reports are conveniently brief, relieving us of the responsibility of an explanation. Usually, some clueless middle-manager is blamed, and the story ends. One Saudi official proclaimed the tragedy was a sign of “God’s will”, a rather unsatisfactory explanation of urban planning so poor that it spurred rampant manslaughter. The tragicomedy thus seems inscrutable and exotic: when overpopulation and religious delusion merge, the faithful will be smothered by their own faith, the masses crushed under their own mass.