From Dusk Till Dawn- episode 1

This is one of those things that I heard about and was originally baffled about it. From Dusk Til Dawn is great source material. But expanding one film into nearly 13 hours? Seems excessive.

But the first episode lends depth to characters; emotional motivation for detectives on the trail of the Gecko brothers, Richie’s “mental illness as supernatural power” or “supernatural power that presents itself as mental illness”, Seth protectiveness over Richie.

The first episode takes place almost entirely at a liquor store (which I had thought was a gas station… whatever) where Richie takes hostages while Seth tries to make arrangements with a drug lord (“Carlos” played by Wilmer Valderrama). DJ Cotrona does an awesome George Clooney impression throughout the episode. Cotrona does a great job the swagger is dead on Clooney without being overdone. Zane Holtz interpretation of Tarantino’s character, Richie Gecko, seemed slightly more camp to me. The first 10 minutes is stretched into 45, but aside from digging deeper, there isn’t too many liberties taken. Richie takes hostages and has an itchy trigger finger, and quickly starts hallucinating serpentine vampire girls.

Don Johnson plays Earl McGraw a Texas Rangers after the Gecko brothers, along with partner Freddie Gonzales (Jesse Garcia). The length of time available allows us into their mindset (tenacious law enforcement officers) by exploring into their background like in scenes of Freddie asking McGraw to be his young daughter’s godfather. McGraw discussing how much of his daughter’s life that he missed while on the job. McGraw telling Freddie to get the Geckos if he has to follow them to the gates of Hell. It’s still stereotypical, but it’s good enough. 

The quicker you get over it and remember that this is Robert Rodriguez’s project which translates into “this is very good looking camp” the easier it will be to enjoy. 

Certainly worth a look, especially for fans of the source material.

There are some overused tropes the “mental illness/supernatural power” thing, the hyper-sexualized Latina, tenacious LEO with a personal vendetta. 

The (original) film was released in 1996. I’m not entirely sure when this takes place. There were also 2 knock off sequels and the making of documentary Full Tilt Boogie spawned from that flick, do we need 13 episodes of it? It remains to be seen.

Male Objectification Monday: Michael Ealy

Best known for his roles in Barbershop and Seven Pounds, Michael Ealy came to my attention in the STILL NOT OFFICIALLY RENEWED SERIES “ALMOST HUMAN”… sorry for the caps, I’m panicking a little bit. He also had recurring roles on “The Good Wife” and “Californication” 

But, like I said, he caught my eye as the “disco-faced” sometimes unstable DRN police robot, Dorian.

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Although the plot revolved largely around Karl Urban’s character, John Kennex, Dorian added much needed humor -usually at John’s expense. He also had some deep plotlines himself, compassion for other DRN models, increasing aggravation that he’s the only DRN in the field and can’t relate to MXs, evolving to be a better police officer, a better partner..

But we aren’t here to talk about what a great character Dorian is, or what Michael Ealy added to the role (great delivery, sometimes a musical interlude, acting like a robot that acts like a human)… we’re here to look at Michael Ealy:

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And just for good measure, suited up:

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Ealy is appearing next in Think Like A Man, Too and then hopefully reprising his role as Dorian! Because I neeed him on my TV screen. 

Funfact: He also played a detective in 2012’s Underworld:Awakening

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And I don’t know why exactly, but this picture is so cute

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Almost Human- Episode 12

Episode recap + review! + bonus Science and Tech side notes and links!

In the first scenes we see a wealthy chrome in his natural habitat: Virtual Reality golfing in his large house, when a badly disfigured man jumps up behind him. He administers a syringe that gives the man a seizure and then he sucks fluid out of the man’s body with another syringe.

At the station, Kennex receives a call from a woman he’s seeing, Samantha. He had a bad date, she kept taking phone calls and ignoring him. Dorian answers the phone and says, “Kennex can’t talk right now. He’s waving his arms and mouthing ‘no’.” Then Dorian tells Kennex that he’s boring. Stahl comes up and says that she’s been tipped about a possible homicide. EMTs said it was a heart attack, but he was a Chrome and Chrome’s don’t have congenital defects. Curiously, the body is still at the scene even though there are no crime scene techs and Stahl was tipped off by another Chrome, which means someone should have been there or the body should have been removed from the scene before it started to decay and stink up the place. Anyway, Dorian finds the injection point. The wound was contaminated by DNA of 7 different people. Who all died of the same “natural causes.”

Stahl runs down leads and pays a visit to a Chrome Club looking to obtain surveillance footage. She faces off with a snarky blonde and a handsome man asks her about her decision to be a cop. Which apparently is a long story. Anyway, he gives her the footage. She brings it back to the station and she and Maldonado look it over while talking about Stahl’s recent experience with Chromes. Stahl, usually resentful of her upbringing tries to avoid Chromes and she says that she forgot that they’re people, too. Maldonado says it’s important to be around people who are like you and understand you. To which point, Stahl says, “Is that why you keep John around.” Maldonado: “Nah, lost a bet.”

Stahl sends footage to John

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Facial recognition is reading him as 2 of the 8 victims. They also look up his Bitcoin exchange- Almost Human loves Bitcoin, however, virtual currency hit snags this week as Mt. Gox, an exchange site for Bitcoin, got hacked and lost possibly 6% of the total money invested in Bitcoin. This was due to the malleability of transaction numbers and history. Back to the plot; Rudy figures out that he’s stealing parts of people’s faces, he’s using nanobot plastic surgery. Face lifts at an atomic level. A doctor involved in the trials is questioned. The trials didn’t go well. Donors experienced arrhythmia and died, recipients were horribly disfigured. There seemed to be a lot of them. Why did they keep doing this? Kennex and Dorian find out that the person performing the surgery will need “an actuator.”

Back with the killer, he’s blackmailing his doctor into continuing the procedures. Turns out he volunteered for the original trials. He gets some new eyes at the expense of a barista.

Dorian is antagonizing John again, “They more flaws you have the more human you are. You’re very human, John.”  They’re on their way to meet an informant, “Di Carlo” (who turns out to be a little person- Bad Santa actor Tony Cox, in an exo-suit of an overweight woman). They’re at some kind of trash burning, Mad Max, punk rock Fight Club. Anyway, Di Carlo gives up the location of the actuator. They find out the man wants 10 procedures and there have been only 9 victims. They extrapolate who the next victim will be. Stahl and some others keep an eye on him, the murderer knows he’s been discovered and heads out to search for another victim.

After some leaps in logic, Kennex figures out that the killer is a DMV employee, Eric Latham. Stahl surmises that he has Body Dysmorphic Disorder and that’s why he is consumed by this need for perfection. She says he’s inundated with images of perfection and unable to cope. Which for this world means not just media but being designed from birth to look beautiful. He’s trying to speed up the procedures so that he can meet a woman, Judy, who he met online and is scheduled to meet face to face. With irony that hits like a brick, she’s blind. He meets her briefly,before the police arrive. Eric kills himself in front of John.

Kennex is thinking about Eric Latham and he decides to take a chance and ask Stahl to go have a drink. But she’s already heading out with the man from the Chrome Club, and we’re treated to a “brooding and staring off at happy people in the night while 80s music plays in the background” closing sequence. I don’t mind 30 seconds of angst.

I was really happy with this episode, there was a good balance between all the characters. Stahl, Kennex and Dorian all got to show their particular talents. Stahl got to show her investigative skills instead of somehow landing on tips and watching TV. And it addressed privilege and class. Stahl is a Chrome and having this privilege doesn’t make her a bad person, it also doesn’t make her a better person, either. Right now there is debate about using DNA of 3 people (male female and an extra donor woman) to replace mutated mitochondrial DNA and prevent birth defects. But there’s a question of “where does it stop?” and opening the floodgates for “designer babies”.  And on the surface you might say, “who wouldn’t want this? I don’t want my children to have degenerating vision/predisposition to kidney disease/go bald when they’re 17.” But what we end up with is what you saw in this episode, technology used to further divide a class line as well as race lines (all white people, dark haired males, mostly light haired females. Episode before last followed the same pattern, with the exception of one family), engineered to look perfect, have no physical failings and be geniuses. They look down on Stahl for being too blue collar, they’re meant for industry. They are meant for preserving a superior way of life for themselves. Well, that’s terrifying.

But on a smaller scale, aren’t we doing that already? People partner with someone “like them” in some capacity, if they choose to breed the child will be a product of the coupling with whatever benefits and negatives that comes with. And what’s seen by negative to some is not always the case, such as the instance of Deaf couples selecting embryos that are more likely to be Deaf. Sitcoms joke about superior cells used to make babies, such as Caroline Channing donating her “Ivy League eggs” on CBS’s Two Broke Girls while Max’s low rent genes are a dime a dozen. How far is the next step, really? The Chinese are already trying to crack the genetic code for genius by analyzing samples from individuals with IQs over 160. And if you can get it, will you be considered a bad parent if you don’t?

Anyway, a 45 minute sci-fi drama just made me think about the implications of designer genetics. I wish they would officially renew it, because it’s really good. Well, most of the time. And Kennex and Stahl are still dancing around each other, we still don’t know what’s going on “over the wall” and we don’t know where Anna is. Next week is the finale and I can’t imagine this will all be wrapped up neatly. I would miss Rudy and Dorian the most.

Almost Human: Episode 4

“The Bends”

Almost Human gets back to it’s Dredd influence in this episode that has Detective Kennex investigating a violent gang that creates designer drugs from algae.

The episode begins with a man (wearing a wire) and a “cook” getting a meeting with a drug Kingpin, known as the Bishop. Turns out the man is wearing a wire. Undercover. The two infiltrators end up dead.

Dorian and John are having a meal at a Japanese restaurant. Well, John is. Dorian (who doesn’t eat) wants to leave. John shows off his knowledge of Japanese culture and says it’s rude to leave before finishing a meal and that they will leave when he is done. Dorian speaks to the chef in Japanese and orders John a LIVE snail. Eat up. Don’t be rude, huh? (John, to his credit, eats the slimy creature.)

Back at the precinct, it is discovered that the man killed was a cop… but that he had no current undercover cases. So what was he doing there? Was he dirty? If he was, why would he have been wearing a wire. The man’s name was Cooper, he was a friend of John’s (who he hadn’t seen in 5 years) and his trunk was full of drugs. Cooper’s boss comes in to speak to Maldonado and he tells her that recently Cooper had been going off the rails. 

John doesn’t buy it. After getting a tip from Coop’s wife, they head up to a remote cabin to search for clues, anything to give away Cooper’s motivation. And they find a receiver that Cooper’s wire was transmitting to. The show doesn’t dwell on it, but they listen to the meeting, Cooper trying to get the Bishop to say that he distributes “the Bends” and the hear him about to die on the recording.

John demands that Maldonado send him in undercover. Maldonado declines. Says he can’t pull it off. He doesn’t have the background in chemistry needed. But they know someone who does. Rudy! The man who refurbished Dorian! They prep him as best they can in such a short time… which is not well. But after some bumps (like introducing himself by his real name), Rudy get’s to create and proves himself valuable. He even gets to meet the real Bishop (Coops boss, Alex).

They figure out it’s an inside job when Rudy is forced to swallow the anti-serum to the liquid GPS that Rudy had choked down earlier. With no way to track Rudy, Kennex and Dorian start ummm… questionably legal investigative techniques.

Rudy pulls a daring escape when “the Bishop” gets concerned that his henchman isn’t answering his phone. He escapes with a bullet to the arm. Dorian saves him by decapitating an android. John catches Alex. And then later he begrudgingly takes them to a cop bar for celebratory beers.

But to go into more detail: When John and Dorian press the Henchman for info about Rudy’s whereabouts… they out and out torture him, shoving fingers into his bullet wounds (you can tell me they ‘had to’ I might agree). But Alex is blatantly unable to escape, flee or fight John. He is immobile could be easily detained… but he shouts at John and tells him that he’s a Captain and he’ll get away with it, says that no one will believe in John. And John shoots him dead. Just like that. The show seemed to brush it off, and no one from the department asked about the circumstances (even though investigation would have shown the Alex was sitting on the ground bleeding where John shot him in the chest), just ‘yay, it’s over’. Does John have less faith in the system he helps uphold? was he overcome with a need for revenge? I NEED TO KNOW. Because without knowing the internal motivation …and frankly, maybe even with it… that was MURDER. 

Minka Kelly’s detective Stahl is still largely relegated to the sidelines while John and Dorian do all the investigating. But next week’s sneak peeks make it seem that is changing.

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Dorian and John’s buddy cop awesomeness is awesome. That live snail thing was epic. Dorian, as a synthetic, is not viewed as a real cop (even though he does all the cop stuff John does), so John taking him to the cop bar (after Dorian’s all banged up and has exposed glowing purple wires protruding from his face, making it obvious that he is a synthetic) is pretty rad. Because they are friends. And they can count on each other. John has proved that he’ll risk himself for Dorian and that he values him… but John has also proved to be unstable and vengeful.

What do you think so far?