REVIEW - How I Met Your Mother - S09E03 - ‘Last Time in New York’

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This week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother, ‘Last Time in New York’, was only alright. It continued in the same vein as the previous two episodes, with Marshall and Daphne making their way to New York, Barney and Robin freaking out about their wedding, and Lily trying to cheer up Ted. Despite the liberal use of flashbacks in this episode, the new format seems to be growing stale.

Lily discovers Ted’s list of things he would like to do in New York before moving to Chicago, and we got to see some new flashbacks, as well as some from previous episodes. While it’s nice to be nostalgic every so often, the show seems to be trying to cash-in on its glory days, reminding long-time viewers how good it was (remember when Marshall ran Lily through with a broad sword?) to distract them from how lackluster it has become. Usually I like flashbacks in shows (and How I Met Your Mother is certainly the master of the flashback), but in this case I would consider the argument that flashbacks are just sloppy writing. The show is clearly trying to keep itself fresh (and fill time) under the strain of the new format they have gone with for this season, and I understand they have to use flashbacks in order to do this, but my question is what else have they got up their sleeves? Cue nice plot bomb at the end of the episode...

Anyway, apart from this little gem of information at the end, the rest of the episode wasn’t that interesting. Marshall and Daphne are continuing to bicker as they make their way to New York, and Barney and Robin fear the imminent arrival of their elderly relatives/their post-marriage sex-life. Here’s hoping Barney’s little revelation will make the next episode (I’d say episodes, but I’m not that optimistic) more interesting.

Review by Heather Bale.


REVIEW - The Big Bang Theory - S07E01 & S07E02

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The seventh season of The Big Bang Theory kicked off with two episodes back to back. Some time has passed since the end of the last season, but Leonard is still at sea and Raj can still speak to women. 

The first episode was... okay. It was by no means bad, but it wasn’t great either. Not quite what you would expect for a season premiere, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect after the rather disjointed season six. There are three separate story-lines going on in the first episode, the most interesting one revolving around Sheldon, Penny and Leonard. Sheldon is missing Leonard (although he won’t admit it), and has been using Penny to fill his place. They bond, and it’s nice. When Sheldon finally caves and they call Leonard it seems he is not missing either of them at all - he’s having the time of his life partying on the boat. Not much more about Leonard’s time on the boat is revealed, so I wonder whether this has been a regular occurrence or a one off.

Anyway Raj is still hung up on Lucy, so Howard takes him out to meet women, and Raj shares a bonding moment with Mrs Davis. It was reassuring to see that they haven’t backtracked on the whole Raj can speak to women thing, but apart from that it didn’t seem all that significant. I know they are going to bring Lucy back at some point (I don’t know how long she’ll be back for though), so I don’t see a relationship between Raj and Mrs Davis forming.

Meanwhile Amy and Bernadette go away on a conference together, but end up squabbling after they insult one another’s partners. The highlight of this storyline was watching the two girls celebrating when they realise men are hitting on them because they find them attractive, and not just as a way to get to Penny.

In the second episode Leonard arrives back from his sea voyage a couple of days early, and decides not to tell Sheldon so that he and Penny can spend some time together. Sheldon, being the observant person he is, quickly discovers that Leonard has returned and decides he can no longer trust what Leonard tells him. 

When Leonard left on his sea voyage at the end of last season, I was not sure whether they would do a time jump like they did between seasons two and three, or have a few episodes wherein Leonard is away (like Howard at the beginning of last season), but Leonard was only away for one episode. Not much was mentioned about what happened while Leonard was away, except that both Sheldon and Penny seemed to miss him, were spending lots of time together, and Leonard did not seem to miss them. I assume they showed Leonard partying for a reason, hence why Leonard did not come back in the first episode, but I am wondering what they are planning on doing with this bit of information about Leonard’s time away. I really hoped they would use Leonard’s absence to progress the Penny/Leonard relationship more. I know it would be hard to do when they are separated from one another, but perhaps it would have been nice to see Penny missing Leonard more. She did say she had been missing him a lot, but I wanted to see her missing him. I’m sure they could have achieved this if he had of stayed away for just one or two episodes more, but they must have their reasons for bringing him back so soon.

Finally there was a cringe-worthy storyline involving Howard and his inadvertent consumption of estrogen. Howard becomes weepy, emotional, and concerned about his outward appearance. In other words, he behaves like a ‘woman’ - don’t get me started... I am rather disappointed The Big Bang Theory would stoop to such lows. I have been a fan of the show since the beginning, and have watched as the quality of the comedy has declined in order to produce a few cheap laughs. I know that the show is currently the most popular sitcom in America and would probably like to retain this title, but I don’t think it needs to reduce itself to pandering to the masses in order to be popular. After a rather shaky start to the seventh season, here’s hoping The Big Bang Theory gets some direction and picks up its game for the rest of the season.

Review by Heather Bale.


REVIEW - How I Met Your Mother - S09E01 & S09E02

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In the hour-long season nine premiere of How I Met Your Mother, we are introduced to the new format of the show for the final season: it is going to take place across the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding (a time period of about three days). We get to watch as each character deals with some issues on their own, as well as how they all respectively meet ‘the mother’.

Marshall and baby Marvin, who have been in Minnesota spending time with Marshall’s mother before their big move to Italy (which may not happen now, since Marshall has been offered his dream job as a judge), are trying to get to New York in time for the wedding. All of this is complicated by the presence of Daphne (special guest star Sherri Shepherd), a brewing storm, and the fact that Marshall’s mother may spill the beans to Lily about Marshall’s job offer before he gets to New York to talk with her. Although the spars between Marshall and Daphne are humorous now, as well as the idea that it’s not going to be easy for Marshall to get to New York, I really hope they don’t drag it out too long. I understand it will take a few episodes, I just hope it doesn’t take most of the season - I want to see Marshall interact with the other characters, not just his new acquaintance.

Lily is missing her husband and son after their week apart, and turns to a stranger (Ted’s future wife) for comfort. Although I wish Ted would hurry up and meet her, I am glad the mother is getting screen-time and we are getting to know her a bit better. I think they may be trying a little too hard to make her out to be the perfect woman for Ted, and a perfect fit for the group, but hey, after what they have put Ted through for the past few years I guess he deserves the perfect woman.

Meanwhile, Robin and Barney have to overcome some hiccups in the hours leading up to their big day, such as finding out they may share a mutual relative, and the news of James’s (Barney’s brother’s) divorce. It seems the writers really want to push the idea that Barney and Robin are ‘meant to be’.

These aren’t the only things that may cause friction for Barney and Robin, as it seems Ted still has feelings for Robin (surprise, surprise) and may do something stupid in order to prove his love (again). Given the fact that Ted is supposed to be meeting his future wife in the next few days, I hope the writers are quick to resolve this whole ‘Ted loves Robin’ issue so his attraction to his future wife seems genuine and not just a rebound thing.

All in all, I am hesitant about how the final season will progress. I know How I Met Your Mother loves using flashbacks and flash-forwards, so hopefully we will see plenty of these in order to prevent the new format from growing stale, and to learn more about Ted, his future wife, and their relationship together.

Review by Heather Bale.


REVIEW - Sleepy Hollow - S01E01

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The classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman is given an apocalyptic make over in Fox’s latest supernatural thriller. Sleepy Hollow is the story you know and love with an apocalyptic twist. It’s also probably the most fun you will have watching television this season.

The pilot begins in the American Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane beheads a mysteriously powerful horseman but not before being wounded himself. Ichabod passes out and when he wakes up the war is over, and has been for some time; it’s 2013. Ichabod meets Lieutenant Abbie Mills, whose partner was killed by a headless horseman that just happened to wake up at the same time as Ichabod. Abbie and Ichabod team up to figure out what’s going on only to discover that the headless soldier is actually one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and if he recovers his head he will kick start the apocalypse.

There’s no escaping the fact Sleepy Hollow is a little bit ridiculous but that’s part of its charm. The gothic genre is at it’s best when it embraces the kitsch side and runs with it and Sleepy Hollow seems be doing just that. There’s a headless horseman roaming the streets of a seemingly normal contemporary town, it’s hard to take that seriously. Yet somehow Sleepy Hollow drags you into the absurdity and soon enough devil-like horned creatures seem perfectly reasonable.

The pilot suffers the same pitfalls as most sci-fi/fantasy pilots, in that it’s fairly heavy on exposition. There are a lot of moments where people stand around explaining information that will probably make more sense later on. But in-between the bouts of exposition we get a sense of the kind of show Sleepy Hollow could be. The effects are not brilliant but that just adds to the classic horror feel that this show exudes. While the pilot had a number of large scale fight sequences, it was during the smaller moments that Sleepy Hollow really shines.

Abbie Mills is a fantastic female lead (not to mention a woman of colour) and the interactions between her and Ichabod are incredibly entertaining. The chemistry between co-stars Nicole Beharie and Tom Mason is magical. Much of the enjoyment to be found in the pilot comes from the relationship between Abbie and Ichabod and it will be the development of this relationship that makes or breaks this show. That and watching Ichabod attempt to negotiate the intricacies of the modern world makes for enjoyable television.

The story is familiar enough to be recognizable but there are enough differences to make it entertaining. Taking the simple story about a small town and adding an apocalyptic threat should be enough to sustain the story past one season. And the threat of an unknown enemy – anyone could be evil – makes this show incredible suspenseful.

Honestly, I wasn’t completely sold by the pilot but there is enough there to keep me watching. I really want this show to be amazing and the pilot gave me hope that it can be. Let’s hope it lives up to it’s potential before Fox cancels it.

Review by Yvonne Popplewell

More of Yvonne’s work can be found at her blog.


REVIEW - Burn Notice - SERIES FINALE - S07E13

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How do I even begin to describe this episode? It was heart breaking. Beautiful. Cyclical. Emotional. Brilliant. You will definitely cry.
This week's episode ended the era that was burn notice. Seven amazing seasons with incredible plots, and it seemed as if the writers had been planning everything meticulously to culminate and fall into place during this final episode.
There were cheeky little reminders of how it all started, with familiar lines and relationships. There were sacrifices and second chances. There was humor and the strengthening of friendships.
Micheal’s original characteristics that define him so well return, however, so does an immediate death wish. He is broken, feeling guilty, ashamed and worthless, and it seems to the point where he can never come back.
Michael is then given the ultimate second chance, a chance that came at the ultimate price. It is at this point that Michael breaks out of his death stupor, and his cunning and will to live pours out of him in his attempts to get rid of James once and for all.
As James attempts to use everyone that Michael loves against him, even 3-year-old little Charlie, Madeline’s strength and devotion to her children shines through. The regrets she has obviously felt surrounding the issue of her late husband, and her urge to protect them, accumulates into one act of pure love.


Sam, Jesse and Fi continue to relentlessly support Michael and his family, and towards the very end of the episode, there is a slight window left open for a possible spin of as Jesse and Sam carry on the legend of Micheal’s amazing work with the citizens of Miami.
Michael and Fiona realise the obvious fact that they are supposed to be together, and decide that if they are going to go down, they are going down fighting, and together.
The episode then comes in a wonderful full circle, as Michael asks Fiona what he supposed to tell little Charlie of his past when he is older. Fi's reply is to tell him the truth. She says, “Start with: My name is Michael Weston. I used to be a spy...”
The loyalty of the audience and they way this show hooks anyone who watches it really is a testament to the people behind the scenes, particularly the writers. This show has engaged and entertained so many people over its seven seasons, and it sure is sad to see it go.

Review by Emma Laarkamp


REVIEW - Pretty Little Liars - S04E12

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The biggest ever to be revealed on Pretty Little Liars had fans everywhere screaming at their Television screen.
Starting with magic eight balls, then a tiny coffin with a Mona doll and a trick box with a saw, it was clear A was up to some of her/his own magic tricks this week. A has threatened to make Mona disappear for good. The Liars are afraid to have another find another body and so they have made it their mission to find Mona before A. Toby manages to track down Mona thanks to Shana.
Wren is no where to be in site yet Shana had been in his place packing up the rest of his stuff and sending them to Melissa Hastings address. What's with that? Did Melissa have your own plans to possibly protect Spencer and Wren was in on it? You just can't trust anyone anymore.
The A clues lead the liars to Ravenswood where a magic show is being held, Aria found herself in the show while Emily was the one caught in the disappearing act. This is when the episode really took off and we were all left in suspense as the Liars rescue Emily. Two red coats appear, Spencer chases after one and Aria fights the other. Those tips from Jake must have helped. Aria discovers one of the red coats to be Cece Drake who falls to her death only to disappear seconds later. Spencer followed the red coat to what seems to be the new A lair.
Allison is alive and is red coat from what the story is telling us but we had a feeling right? The creepy ex-sororiety mother Mrs Grunwell explains to the girls that Allison is hiding from A who had been stalking and harrassing her in the past. When Allison was buried alive, Mrs Grunwell knew Ali was in trouble came just in time to pull her out of the ground she was buried in and take her back to Ravenswood. That's where she was last seen.
The episode came to the end with another black hoodie revealed. Well from what we can tell so far, Ezr 'A' appears at A's new lair dressed in a hoodie and is obviously angry about something. Are the Liars hit on A's trail or Ezra in this case and thats why he is chucking a tantrum?
All this time Wilden has been portrayed as that creepy older guy who has a thing for younger girls but what if Ezra was seeing Ali. Just think about it, Ezra was in the first episode at the funeral so he must of had some connection to Ali and he most likey saw Aria as an opportunity to get closer to the girls. He clearly has a thing for young girls and might be "board shorts".
You never know Aria could be in on it too. So many thoughts.
Also we saw Caleb get on the bus to help out Hanna in Ravenswood but will most likely not be returning anytime soon as the spinoff begins in October.
What did you think of the summer finale? 
Review by Jessica Tisdell