October 6, 2015

SVT Super Chiller #2, The Ghost in the Graveyard: Psychic Twins Network

Posted in books tagged , at 6:13 pm by Jenn

Is your part wide enough, Elizabeth?

Is your part wide enough, Elizabeth?

Summary: It’s spring break in Sweet Valley, but the kids at SVMS aren’t as excited about that as they are about Caroline Pearce’s big news: A new family is moving in, and they have a boy in the sixth grade. The twins go meet him as soon as the family arrives, and learn that Sam Sloane was born in Sweet Valley and originally named Sam Burroughs, but he was adopted when he was nine months old, after his birth parents died. The twins invite him to some boat trip the SVMS students are taking.

Sam goes exploring by himself and finds it weird that so many things in town are familiar to him. There’s even an abandoned house on McClarendon Street that seems to draw him in. That night he has a long-recurring dream about an old man trying to reach him in the ocean. I’m sure Sam is thrilled to spend the day on a boat after having a nightmare about the water. He finds the marina familiar, and tells Elizabeth. She tells him to let it go, basically. Then Sam encounters a fisherman who recognizes him and says to tell his father hello. Sam is justifiably freaked out.

Even though Elizabeth and her friends are nice to Sam, he feels lonely, since he doesn’t know anyone (and only girls are talking to him). It doesn’t help that Lila’s rude to him, so he’s not exactly on the good side of SVMS’s popular crowd. Jessica is surprisingly nice, standing up for Sam and putting forth an (ultimately fruitless) effort to show him that not all of the Unicorns are jerks. Lila mocks Sam later, and Jess is so mad that she decides to get revenge on her best friend. More on that later. Also, Jessica then immediately goes back to her normal ways, ditching Elizabeth when they’re supposed to cook dinner together.

The twins throw a pool party, and Sam reluctantly comes, even though he still doesn’t feel comfortable hanging out with strangers. I feel you, Sam. Though he acts like no one likes him, which isn’t true, since Elizabeth keeps reaching out to him. The kids start talking about reincarnation, since there was a movie about it on the night before, and Sam announces that he thinks that explains his familiarity with Sweet Valley. The idea inadvertently leads to Sam making a good impression on everyone – he says he thinks he was in the circus in a past life, then wows everyone with his juggling skills.

The next day, the twins go to McClarendon Street with Sam, who wants to figure out why it’s so familiar. Elizabeth wonders if it’s where Sam’s family lived before his parents died. Sam thinks he sees someone in an upstairs window, but it’s only there briefly. The kids learn from a neighbor that he house belonged to a mean rich guy named Jeremiah Seever, not someone in Sam’s family.

Sam decides to check out a cemetery and see if he can find his birth parents’ graves. He finds a whole mess of Burroughses, including a 12-year-old boy named Michael who had the same birthday as Sam. Sam sees someone in the cemetery and gets spooked…because the person has his face. If I were Sam, I would go straight home and tell my parents that we had to move immediately, no matter what. And even if they thought I was having a breakdown and sent me to a psychiatric facility, I would be okay with it, because at least I would be away from this creepy town.

Sam, however, goes to the library, where he runs into Elizabeth and tells her what happened. He thinks the person he saw in the cemetery was a ghost. He convinces her to go the cemetery with him the next day. Liz tells Jessica everything at home and gets her to tag along. The “ghost” appears again, but obviously it’s not really a ghost, just a kid who looks exactly like Sam.

He’s David Barton, he’s Sam’s exact age, and he was adopted as a baby. Yep, Sam and David are identical twins who were separated and never knew about each other. It’s like The Parent Trap, only slightly less disturbing (the parents hated each other so much that they never told their kids about each other and gave up a kid each to never have to see each other again! That’s messed up!). Sam thinks David is the reason he finds Sweet Valley so familiar. I guess David’s been giving off psychic vibes or something.

The boys go to Sam’s house, where they learn that Sam’s adoptive parents had no idea that he had a twin. David’s parents, however, did – they were just unable to adopt both boys. After their parents died, the boys were supposed to live with a great-aunt, their only remaining family. But the aunt realized she was too old to care for both boys, so she gave Sam up. Wow. Did she flip a coin to decide which one to ditch? Then she broke her hip and realized she couldn’t take care of David either, so she gave him up, too. David’s parents knew about Sam, but by then he’d already been adopted, so they couldn’t take him as well, though they wanted to. It doesn’t explain why they never told David about his brother, though.

Sam and David are immediate BFFs, realizing they have a ton in common. Since their birthday is coming up, they decide to have a party together. They spend the night together at David’s, both having Sam’s recurring dream, which David has had for years, too. They find a picture of their parents outside the house on McClarendon Street…and there’s a face in the window.

Both sets of twins go to the house and find an old man tending the garden. The boys recognize him as the man trying to reach them in their dreams. He introduces himself as P.J. and reveals that the Burroughs family did own the house. It was owned by the boys’ great-grandfather, Peter, who was buddies with Jeremiah Seever. The two went into business together but had a falling out when each thought the other was cheating him. They ended their partnership, and Seever lied his way into getting ownership of the house. He even kicked out Peter’s widow and children. What a lovely man. The boys ask P.J. about Michael Burroughs, but this turns out to be a bad move. P.J. gets mad and splits, seemingly vanishing.

Sam and Elizabeth decide to find out more about Michael by looking through records at City Hall. Ah, the days before the Internet. They learn that Michael died the day before his 12th birthday…which was exactly 30 years ago today. And remember, Sam and David have the same birthday as Michael. Seriously, I would be out of that town so fast.

There are no records on how Michael died, so Sam goes the library the next day to do more research. Guess how Michael died? He drowned. Guess who drowned with him? His grandfather, Peter J. Burroughs, AKA P.J. Guess who appears to be a ghost? YEAH. Also, Michael looks just like Sam and David. Sam, get the heck out now! Sam ignores me, instead calling David to give him the news. But David and his father have gone out sailing, which is a bad idea on the day before your 12th birthday when your lookalike relative drowned exactly 30 years earlier.

Sam rushes to the Wakefields’ house, because of course, and Elizabeth tries to call David and his father at the marina. Too late – they’re already out on the boat. The weather’s currently nice, but by the time Sam and the twins get to the marina, there’s a storm. David and Mr. Barton’s boat is close enough to shore that the kids see it capsize. David falls overboard, and Sam suddenly feels like he’s drowning. There’s that psychic twin power. He passes out, waking up to learn that Mr. Barton has been rescued but David’s still lost at sea.

While waiting for hours for news about his brother, Sam falls asleep and has his recurring dream. Now he knows that the man in it is definitely P.J. This version of the dream is different, though – he finds David and takes him to a beach house. When Sam wakes up, he tells everyone that David’s okay and directs them to his location. David tells them that he knows he was rescued but doesn’t really remember what happened. The only indication of who saved him is a shirt the kids recognize as P.J.’s.

The boys think that the face in the photo was P.J. trying to warn them. Sure, okay. However, the face is no longer in the picture. Instead, there’s a door that the boys think they didn’t see before because it’s now covered in ivy. Jessica and Elizabeth randomly show up, and the kids enter the door and find a room full of Seever’s things. Included are legal papers detailing how Seever and P.J.’s holdings were split up when they dissolved their business. It turns out the Burroughses’ house never legally belonged to Seever, and since Sam and David are the only living Burroughses, they now have a house to take care of. I imagine that’ll come in handy when they’re in college and want to throw huge keggers.

First, though, the boys decide to have their 12th birthday party in the house. They dress alike, wearing name tags so people can tell them apart, but Jessica and Elizabeth quickly figure out that they’ve swapped name tags just for the fun of it. I guess identical twins have some sort of twin radar about other sets of twins. The party’s a huge success, and I guess now Sam has a bunch of friends, both at SVMS and David’s school. And then we never hear about him again. I’m going to tell myself that it’s because Sam switched over to David’s school and lost touch with the twins.

The B-plot is about Jessica’s oddly complicated attempt to get revenge on Lila. She’s inspired by the talk of reincarnation and decides to pretend she’s the reincarnation of a woman named Lillian Barnes who used to live in Sweet Valley. While Lila’s spending the night, Jessica pretends to talk in her sleep about wanting to get her gold back. Elizabeth (who’s in on this) tells Lila that Jessica often has dreams about a gold mine. Lila puts the pieces together, deciding that Jessica-as-Lillian can lead them to gold that was stolen from the real Lillian.

Jessica lets Lila hypnotize her (or attempt to), supposedly cementing her claim that she’s the reincarnation of Lillian. She says she lived in the house on McClarendon Street. Then she tells Lila she had a dream where she remembered burying the gold at the house. When Lila digs it up, she finds a note telling her that Jessica played her. Lila runs off, upset, and Jessica’s stuck at the house, trapped by locked gates. There’s some psychic twin crap about Elizabeth feeling that Jess needs help, and going to rescue her, but whatever.

Jess and Lila make up, but now Elizabeth wants revenge on her sister for her constant flaking when she’s supposed to help cook dinner. She and Lila team up to scare Jessica after Sam and David’s party, though as far as revenge goes, it’s pretty weak. Then Elizabeth uses reverse psychology to get Jessica to cook dinner on her own, thinking that Liz would use the opportunity to get revenge if she cooked by herself. But Jess can’t cook, so she feeds the family cheese sandwiches. What a dumb plot.

Thoughts: Sam learned to juggle in gym class. What kind of weird school did he go to?

Sam knows his birth parents’ last name and has a picture of them, but he doesn’t know their first names. That makes no sense!

How can there be another person in the world who looks just like me? [Sam] wondered.” Dude, you’re hanging out with IDENTICAL TWINS. There’s your answer. That school you went to was worse than I thought.

October 4, 2015

The X-Files 1.19, Shapes: Werewolf? Therewolf

Posted in TV tagged at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Is that Josh Groban?

Is that Josh Groban?

Summary: It’s storming as two men on Two Medicine Ranch in Browning, Montana, head outside with guns and flashlights. One of them finds a dead cow outside a barn. He’s attacked by some sort of growling creature, which the other man shoots. But suddenly the creature isn’t a creature – it’s a Native American man. Mulder and Scully are called in to question the shooter, Jim Parker, but they’re not allowed to talk about the lawsuit he’s filed against the Trego Indian Nation. Jim thinks he’s being accused of murdering Joseph Goodensnake, a member of the Trego tribe.

Jim tells the agents to examine his son, Lyle, who he saved from the creature. Jim insists that he only shot because he thought Lyle was going to be killed. If Joseph killed the cow, then Jim is sorry about how things turned out, but he thinks this is the end of the story. Alone with Mulder and Scully, Lyle tells them that he’s felt for a while that he’s been watched by something that wasn’t human. The animals seemed quieter than usual. “It was like nature herself was terrified,” he says.

Scully checks out the scene of the shooting, deciding that Jim couldn’t have mistaken Joseph for an animal at such close range. She wonders why they were called in to investigate such a normal-seeming case. Mulder follows a set of footprints that turn into paw prints. He also finds what looks like skin, though Joseph’s body showed no indications that any of his skin was missing.

The agents go to the Trego reservation to meet Sheriff Charles Tskany. No one wants to help them find him, since the FBI hasn’t proven to be helpful to Native Americans in the past (i.e., Wounded Knee). An elderly man tells Mulder that the FBI doesn’t believe in Native Americans, so why should they believe in the FBI? “I want to believe,” Mulder says, of course. He asks for help finding information on something that could leave human tracks, then animal tracks. The man says Jim killed that something.

A woman blurts out that that the Tregos are too scared of a legend to help find Joseph’s killer. She’s Gwen, Joseph’s sister. She’s also not too happy with the FBI, who never help when they’re needed, but show up when they need help. Tskany has arrived, and he takes the agents to his office, which is guarded by two Tregos. Tskany explains that they’re guardians of the dead who escort souls to the next world. Mulder asks about the legend Gwen mentioned, but Tskany doesn’t want to teach Tregos 101. He’s only following the law and letting the agents examine Joseph’s body.

As the agents get to work, Tskany tells them that the Parkers and Goodensnakes were fighting over land boundaries. The Goodensnakes felt that the Parkers’ cows were grazing on their land, so they filed a lawsuit. Scully sees wounds on Joseph’s body, but they’re not from the night he died. Mulder looks in Joseph’s mouth and sees fangs. He asks for Joseph’s dental records, which don’t show fangs. Scully thinks they can be explained away by calcium deposits.

Tskany and Scully figure that Jim mistook Joseph for an animal. Mulder wants to do an autopsy to see if there are any other abnormalities in Joseph’s body. Tskany refuses – if they anger the body, Joseph’s soul won’t be able to move on. Mulder asks Tskany if he believes Joseph’s spirit is in the room with his body. Tskany’s more concerned with answering to his people than the FBI. They can keep investigating, but they’ll have to do it without Joseph’s body.

Mulder and Scully watch preparations for Joseph’s funeral, discussing why they’re really on this investigation. Mulder reveals that the first X-File, initiated by J. Edgar Hoover in 1946, involved people shredded by what seemed to be an animal. The offending animal was cornered and shot, but a human body was found. Hoover locked up the case and never brought it up, since it was so bizarre. But more killings have occurred every eight years, and can be traced back as far as the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Long story short: Mulder thinks they’re dealing with werewolves. Scully tells him that’s impossible, and lycanthropy is just psychosis. Even if Joseph was able to transform into an animal – and that’s a big if – he’s dead and his body is about to be burned: “End of mystery.” The agents approach the ceremony, but Gwen doesn’t want them there. She tells Scully that Joseph was her only family. She’s supposed to give away all his things to show her sorrow, so she gives Scully what looks like a paw.

Mulder asks Tskany his opinion of what really happened, off the record. Tskany’s on Team Scully – it doesn’t matter, and Joseph’s dead, so the agents should go home. Mulder asks if Tskany believes in shapeshifting. Tskany’s like, “Maybe this isn’t the right time and place to talk about this crap?” The ceremony takes place after dark, and Lyle makes an appearance to show his respects. Gwen and Tskany tell him to leave. Lyle says that he wishes more than anything that Joseph could be there.

At the Parkers’ ranch, Jim’s outside smoking when the wind suddenly stops. He’s attacked by the same creature that attacked Lyle, only this time there’s no one there to kill it. Now Mulder and Scully have another body to examine. Tskany reveals that Gwen and Lyle both disappeared after the funeral. Mulder finds a clump of fur and more skin. Scully’s spooked by a caged mountain lion, then finds another body.

Tskany pulls a claw out of Jim’s body, and Mulder notes that it’s not from any animal he’s familiar with. Scully brings Lyle to the crime scene; he’s alive but appears to have spent the night outside. She takes him to the hospital while Tskany tells Mulder that he thought the killings were over. Mulder guesses that he was trying to cover things up, and thought it would all end after Joseph’s body was cremated. Tskany doesn’t know what’s going on, but he knows someone who can help.

At the hospital, Lyle tells Scully that he got drunk and passed out (uh, naked). He didn’t talk to Jim, but he had a vision of Jim sitting on the front porch. Scully tells him that Jim’s dead, trying to pull on her own experiences to offer sympathy. Lyle worries that his presence at Joseph’s funeral caused the Tregos to retaliate.

Tskany takes Mulder to see the elderly man, Ish, who was a witness to the 1946 killings. Ish is pleased that Mulder, unlike other FBI agents, is open to Native American legends. He explains that Watkins, the 1946 victim, was attacked by a Manitou, an evil spirit that can turn a human into a beast. A Manitou’s victim can be normal until he’s overtaken by a desire to kill. Ish saw Watkins as the Manitou, and almost gave in to Watkins’ pleas to kill him, but he was too scared.

Mulder wonders how the attacks could continue if Watkins was killed. Ish says that Watkins’ son also had the characteristics of his father. Tskany wonders where it started, if the condition can be passed through bloodlines. Gwen could have it, and could have killed Jim. The three men hurry off, managing to catch Gwen as she’s stealing Ish’s car. She admits that she was going to mess with Lyle after the funeral, and when she got to the Parkers’ ranch, she saw Jim being killed.

Mulder calls the hospital to talk to Scully, who’s on her way back to the ranch with Lyle. A doctor tells Mulder that there’s something “unsettling” in Lyle’s blood – traces of Jim’s blood type. This could only happen if Lyle had ingested Jim’s blood. Mulder and Tskany hurry to the ranch, where Scully has brought Lyle home. He feels sick…sick with BLOODLUST! Out come fangs, claws, and fur. Apparently Scully can’t hear Lyle growling through the door (or maybe she just thinks he’s throwing up).

When Mulder gets to the ranch, the house is quiet. He sees scratches on the wall. Outside, Tskany finds the mountain lion, who doesn’t appreciate having visitors. Mulder sees a furry creature running through the house and shoots at it. He follows it upstairs, where he finds an unharmed Scully. She’s not sure what happened, but she’s lost her gun. The agents creep around for a while until Lyle leaps at them and Tskany shoots him. Scully’s shocked that Lyle was the creature – she thought they were attacked by the mountain lion.

As Tskany’s saying goodbye to the agents the next day, he tells them that Gwen is moving away. She doesn’t have family on the reservation anymore, and the legal issues with the Parkers are obviously no longer a concern. Tskany thinks she was also so spooked by Jim’s attack that she wants to get away. Ish tells Mulder that he’ll see him again in about eight years, not realizing that David Duchovny will barely be on the show in eight years, so no, he won’t.

Thoughts: Ugh, werewolves. The only werewolf I’ve ever cared about is Oz from Buffy.

Apparently the Manitou as believed by the Algonquins is not a furry, fanged creature that wants to kill you. So…the writers couldn’t have come up with a different word here?

No one seems concerned that the Parkers have a caged mountain lion on their ranch. Is that not a weird thing on a ranch? Maybe everyone’s just glad it’s in a cage.

October 3, 2015

BH90210 10.7, Laying Pipe: The Pink Moment

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

There's fire at Marta's show. Steve's not a fan

There’s fire at Marta’s show. Steve’s not a fan

Summary: For once, we start someplace other than the After Dark. Donna’s on her way to the boutique when she encounters a homeless man who spent the night outside the store. He says, “Kenny and Louis,” then apologizes and runs off. At the Peach Pit, Steve and Janet ask Kelly and Dylan to be their baby’s godparents. They’re good examples of integrity and loyalty. Janet considers this an important position; she was close with her godmother. The four will be heading to Ojai to speak to the pastor who will be performing the wedding. Dylan laughs at the idea of Steve driving a minivan.

Nearby, Matt’s talking to Walter about getting clemency for Pete. Kelly tries to strike up a conversation with Matt, but when he brings up Pete, she changes her mind. Matt thinks she should work on compassion before she becomes a godmother. Dylan and David go with Steve to pick out a minivan, basically the last thing Steve wants to have to do. Dylan mentions that Steve didn’t tell Janet a lot of the details of Dylan’s past when his name came up for godfather. This car-buying trip is made worse by the fact that Steve’s trading in his Corvette.

Part of Gina’s deal to keep her mouth shut about Mel going to the strip club is that she gets to be his personal trainer/fashion consultant. He finally convinces her to just accept money and go away. Steve gets the minivan without trading in the Corvette, deciding instead to sell it. The potential buyer offers $28,000, annoyed that Steve didn’t disclose an oil leak. Steve won’t take the money, telling David that Janet agreed to let him keep it.

Gina wants to spend Mel’s money on Dylan, but he has to go to Ojai. She’s happy about Dylan being the godfather until she learns that Kelly’s the godmother. “Why is it that every single road leads back to you and Kelly?” she asks. She envisions them playing Mommy and Daddy to Steve and Janet’s child. She urges Steve to turn down the role, but of course he won’t do that. At the boutique, Donna blows Noah off, telling him she might not move in with him after all (since he got her arrested and all). She’s stunned to see that the homeless man has died outside the store.

At the beach apartment, Donna wishes she’d given the man food or water when she first met him. Kelly and Noah try to convince her that it was a chance encounter and she didn’t have any responsibility to help him. Donna, however, thinks the man crossed her path for a reason. She wants to find out more about him. In Ojai, Steve and Janet do a run-through of their wedding. The pastor tells Kelly and Dylan that they’re part of a “spiritual support system” for their new family. In the baby’s eyes, “[Kelly] and Dylan will be linked for life.”

At the After Dark, a woman tells David she’s interested in buying the Corvette. She recognizes David, because apparently he’s a big celebrity now. When she offers $28,000, David calls Steve to get an approval on the deal. Janet answers and it quickly becomes clear that she never said Steve could keep the car. She tells David to sell the car, and he agrees to pretend they never had this conversation.

Donna and Noah visit a coroner, who tells them that they’ll hold on to the homeless man’s body in case someone comes to claim it. If not, he’ll be cremated and his ashes will be disposed of. Donna hates how “anonymous” the situation is. She and Noah look at a picture of the man with his wife and daughter when he was younger. In Ojai, Dylan tells Kelly that he’s happy to be linked to her for life. He talks about the “pink moment,” the time in an Ojai sunset when everything goes…well, pink. Janet interrupts to tell them they’re going home because Steve’s cheating on her with his car. Kelly and Dylan decide to stay back for a while.

David hangs out with the car buyer, Marta, who’s a performance artist. He agrees to go see her work the next day (though he’s probably more interested in taking her to bed). She records him saying that he thinks the guy should pick up the check on a date. Walter waits in Matt’s office for news on Pete, who has just ten hours left. Kelly calls to let Matt know she’s spending the night in Ojai…with Dylan. Gina flips out and heads to Ojai before she winds up with another Mexico incident on her hands.

Donna and Noah go to a bar to ask if anyone in the area knew the homeless man. Someone IDs him as Willard Reiner, a thief who swindled everyone at the bar and left his family. He guarantees that no one will be sad that Willard’s dead. Dylan chats with the pastor, confiding that the last time he was in Ojai, he was with Toni. Now he’s discussing marriage-related things again, but with another couple. The pastor guesses that he has feelings for Kelly and is feeling guilty. The pastor thinks he’s right to move on and find someone other than Toni to watch the sunset with.

Gina’s credit card is rejected at a gas station, so she calls Mel to demand more money. Donna’s decided to stop the search for information on Willard, since he was a jerk. Noah thinks she needs to stop holding people to such high standards. Guys, I don’t think he’s talking about Willard anymore. On the way back to Ojai, Steve gets called “sir” by a guy in a Corvette. Janet tells Steve that who he is as a person is much more important than the car he drives. But if it’ll make him happy, he can keep the Corvette.

Kelly and Dylan check the news for any updates on Pete, though she’s happier being in Ojai than back with Matt. But when the news comes that Matt got Pete clemency, Kelly’s proud of her boyfriend for saving a life. Dylan encourages her to call Matt instead of watching the pink moment – in fact, if she’s going to watch it with anyone, it should be Matt. As they’re hugging, Gina shows up, yelling at them for being inside when they were supposedly going to watch the sunset.

At the Peach Pit, Steve tells David that they need to get the car back from Marta. He accuses David of using the Corvette to pick up women. David denies it, but really, that’s kind of what he did. Off-screen, Donna and Noah run Willard’s obituary in the paper, which leads them to his daughter, Wendy. She tells them how he was a bus driver who was hit by a drunk driver. Two kids – Kenny and Louis – were killed, and though it wasn’t Willard’s fault, he blamed himself. Wendy’s grateful that Donna worked so hard to reconnect the family. Donna’s realized that Noah was right about her standards, and now she just wants to be happy with him.

David, Steve, and Janet go to Marta’s performance space, where she plays David’s voice as part of her piece. It’s called “The Chauvinist,” and will be an hour of deconstructing “in an effort to reconstruct.” And what are they deconstructing? The Corvette. With a chainsaw. David makes sure Steve kept the money, because that there’s a final sale. Kelly returns from Ojai and congratulates Matt on Pete’s clemency. He wishes she’d been there to share the moment with him, but he’s happy she didn’t stay with Dylan in Ojai.

Gina learns that Mel stopped payment on her check, which is a pretty dumb move on his part if he hasn’t already told Jackie what’s going on. Dylan tries to smooth things over, but Gina tells him she doesn’t trust him. Tell me again why they’re together? After Dylan leaves, Gina calls Jackie to let her know what Mel’s been up to. Dylan goes to the beach apartment and sees Kelly and Matt having fun through the window.

Thoughts: Luke Perry directed this episode. So…good for him.

I don’t get why this is called “Laying Pipe.” Also, the next episode is called “Baby, You Can Drive My Car,” which makes more sense for this episode.

The West Wing did Donna’s storyline just a few weeks after this episode aired (“In Excelsis Deo”). I…I can’t believe The West Wing did a plot from this show. I think my head just exploded.

The pastor is played by Ken Jenkins from Scrubs.

There was no point in Kelly calling Matt to tell him she was staying in Ojai, other than to have Gina freak out about it. How dumb.

I wonder what the patient in Mel’s office thought hearing his side of the phone conversation with Gina. “Who’s Gina? Why does he hate her? Did she stop flossing?”

I feel for you, Steve. I feel so old when people call me “ma’am.”

September 29, 2015

SVU #44, Love Me Always: Jessica’s Status as a Black Widow Is Solidified

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:03 pm by Jenn

One of the worst covers of the series

One of the worst covers of the series

Summary: Clay’s trial for killing Officer Riviera is approaching, and Jessica is reluctantly staying away from Nick, who’s hiding out in case Clay wants to have him offed. Jessica’s been ordered to stay away from the trial, and I think it’s really cute that Nick believes she’ll listen to him. She shows up at the courthouse in disguise, pretending to be an old woman. Nick, however, is a trained detective, not to mention her boyfriend, so the disguise doesn’t fool him.

Jessica’s barely able to keep her mouth shut during the trial, since Nick’s testimony doesn’t go well. This is doubly depressing for Nick, since he goes through with his plan to commit perjury, lying that he (not Jessica) heard Clay admitting to killing Riviera. With things looking bleak for the police, Nick convinces the prosecutor to offer Clay a deal if he turns on the head of the mob organization he works for. This almost succeeds, until Clay hears Nick sneeze behind a two-way mirror and refuses to cooperate in anything he’s involved in. I don’t know how Clay knew it was Nick, but whatever. Also, he threatens to kill Nick.

Jessica tries to find out where Nick’s hiding out, so she can visit him. The police chief tells her a story about how he and his then-girlfriend were separated because they witnessed a crime, and it was super-difficult and blah blah blah, I thought it would end with the girlfriend being murdered, and a lesson for Jess that you don’t mess around when it comes to dangerous situations. But the chief and his girlfriend are now married and have been happy for decades, so I guess the lesson is that Jessica should get what she wants because what’s better than two people in love, even if they’d be risking their lives to see each other?

The police chief has Jessica followed so someone can slip her the address of the safehouse where Nick’s been hiding out. Jessica thinks she’s being followed by a hitman sent by Clay. It’s really dumb. Nick and Jessica are allowed to spend some time together, and she decides she can’t live without him, so they should get married, and then she can go with him into witness protection. Nick’s like, “But your codependence with your twin!” Jess is willing to leave Liz forever if it means she gets to stay with Nick. He doesn’t really respond, just telling her not to come to court when the verdict’s read.

Of course, Jessica doesn’t listen. This time she disguises herself as an old man. I kind of wish she’d resurrected Perdita del Mar for this. The chief tells Nick, in so many words, that he needs to break up with Jessica so she won’t want to come with him to witness protection. Jessica gets kicked out of the courtroom, but Nick manages to sneak away for one last makeout session. Then he’s dragged back to the courtroom, just like in a nightmare Jessica had, and she freaks out about never seeing him again.

She’s right to freak out: The verdict is read and Clay is sent to prison, but a masked gunman appears and shoots Clay. Jessica is back on campus at this point, so she and Elizabeth rush to the courthouse. Unfortunately, it’s too late: Nick’s dead. Now I’m sad. I liked him, and Jessica’s going to be devastated. Plus, this is, like, her fifth boyfriend who’s died. You suck, ghostwriter.

Hey, remember Todd? He still exists. Elizabeth runs into him and they chat about nothing for a little while before he heads to a session with a school therapist. Finally, someone in this town is getting well-needed counseling! Todd is still struggling with Gin-Yung’s death. He’s not as interested in basketball anymore, so his counselor advises him to find a new activity. How about music? When Todd heads to the music building to see what’s available for him to try out, he sees Dana. He thinks she’s hot. We don’t care, Todd.

The writers have suddenly decided that Dana needs our sympathy, so they let us know that all her friends hate her (because she ditched them when she was dating Tom). Also, she’s struggling with cello lessons, and everyone thinks she’s a jerk because she kept Tom and Elizabeth apart. Apparently everyone at SVU ships Tom and Elizabeth. Ugh.

At least one person has sympathy for Dana: Elizabeth. She tries to chat with her, but things go south when she brings up Tom. Liz gushes about how Tom is such a great guy for not just wanting to have sex with girls – he wants real relationships with them. Dana’s confused, so Elizabeth tells her that Tom said they never slept together. Dana gets offended, because why would a guy she was completely in love with deny having sex with her? She makes it clear that they humped like bunnies.

Elizabeth is humiliated that Tom lied to her. Now she can never trust another guy! Wow, Liz. She feels like he betrayed her. Not to go all Ross Geller on anyone, but they were on a break. But Elizabeth never let a little thing like facts get in the way of indignation, so she dumps Tom. Buddy, she probably did you a favor. But don’t think this means Elizabeth’s going to run back to Todd – after she bombs a recital and risks her scholarship, Dana runs into Todd, who asks her to get coffee. Todd, no! This is a bad idea!

Danny spends the whole book feeling horrible for the way he treated Isabella, and worrying that he’ll never get to talk to her again. Her parents consider moving her to Switzerland, but Mrs. Ricci decides that she should stay in Sweet Valley so Danny can visit her. Danny makes it his mission to bring Isabella out of her coma, so he plays her favorite Elvis songs and sprays her favorite perfume in her room. It’s actually kind of sweet. And somehow, it works! Except Isabella has total amnesia and can’t remember who Danny or anyone else is! GASP!

Denise is still furious with Winston for kissing visiting prep-schooler Brenda, though Winston maintains that she kissed him and he didn’t reciprocate. He’s desperate to make things up to Denise, so he goes to Bruce for advice. Yeah, read that sentence again. I wonder why this plan doesn’t work? Bruce tells Winston that Lila always responds to expensive jewelry, so Winston should win Denise back with something shiny. Winston gives this a try, not realizing that the ivory figuring he bought her was made possible by the death of an elephant. Wow, romantic.

Winston gets some advice from some random girl in his dorm, who tells him to think about Denise specifically, not women in general. He needs to do something to remind her why she fell in love with him in the first place. Winston’s brain interprets this as “buy her a cheeseburger and use that as a metaphor.” Denise finds this ridiculous, but when she sees how sad her reaction makes him, she feels bad. She decides to drag out her anger a little longer, but eventually forgives him after he serenades her with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It’s a kind of funny moment where all the girls in the dorm hear him singing outside Denise’s window and chant for her to take him back. So at least one couple in Sweet Valley is happy.

Thoughts: Brenda is described as a “brunette ringer for Jessica.” Does that mean there’s yet another Wakefield lookalike in Sweet Valley?

Nina (who has one unremarkable scene in the book) eats cottage cheese on toast. Is that a thing?

Isabella studied aikido. Sure, she did.

Why have Winston get relationship advice from someone we’ve never met before? Why not, say, Nina?

Elizabeth goes to the movies in a “short gold summer dress.” Wrong twin, ghostwriter.

“I mean, what does my sex life have to do with you, Elizabeth?” This might be the first thing Dana’s ever said that I agree with.

September 27, 2015

The X-Files 1.18, Miracle Man: Touched

Posted in TV tagged at 3:10 pm by Jenn

Poor Samuel doesn't even get his name above the title

Poor Samuel doesn’t even get his name above the title

Summary: There’s been a car accident in Kenwood, Tennessee, in 1983. A man brings a young boy to one of the victims. The boy takes the victim’s hand and starts talking about separating light and darkness, and people rising up. The supposedly dead victim isn’t so dead anymore. In the present, Scully shows Mulder footage of a tent revival service. Mulder’s already familiar with the people involved – Reverend Calvin Hartley and his adopted son Samuel, an alleged faith healer.

The agents give some exposition: Hartley claims to have found Samuel on a riverbank when he was a baby. As a child, Samuel supposedly brought someone back from the dead. Now he heals people through touch every week. Recently, though, he was accused of murder. The footage shows Samuel attempting to cure a woman’s cancer. Just minutes later, she was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead, but not of cancer.

Mulder and Scully head to Tennessee for the next healing service. A sheriff leaves his wife in their van while he checks things out. But things end before they can start – Samuel’s unable to make it to this service. His father announces that he’ll be back in two days for a super-special miracle mission. Scully wants to go backstage, but Mulder would like to wait and see if someone brings out Elvis.

As Hartley leaves, Scully and Mulder flag him down, asking to meet Samuel. Hartley admits that he doesn’t know where his son is. His assistant, who’s wearing about an inch of makeup on his face, hurries him off. The agents then meet the sheriff, Daniels, who complains that the Hartleys use the money from Samuel’s miracles for material things, rather than helping their town. He’s on Team Samuel’s Killing People.

Scully notes that no autopsies have been performed on the people Samuel’s supposedly healed. Daniels says that Hartley has gotten them blocked on “religious grounds” (and the coroner is a big Hartley fan). The agents are able to get the bodies exhumed, but a band of believers (led by Vance, Hartley’s assistant) descends on the cemetery. The Miracle Ministry considers itself the latest victim’s family, so they should be able to stop the exhumation.

Before the agents can put up a fight, Daniels tells them that Samuel’s car was seen downtown. They abandon the exhumation and head to a bar where Samuel was just in a fight. He doesn’t seem to object to being arrested for murder; he’d just like to finish his beer first. Mulder asks what evidence the sheriff has against him anyway. Daniels says that they know Samuel killed his latest victim; the investigation will focus on how.

Samuel agrees to talk to Mulder and Scully, babbling about guilt and innocence and pride. That pride allowed the devil to mess with him. “God has given me a special gift,” Samuel says. “Did he buy you all that jewelry, too?” Scully replies. Samuel accuses her of lacking faith. He insists that he can see people’s pain – he saw it in the woman with cancer, and he can see it in Mulder. He knows Mulder’s pain is related to a sibling.

Samuel continues that Mulder had a sister who was taken by strangers. If Mulder had come by earlier, Samuel would have been able to help him, but now his power is gone. As Samuel is arrested, he tells Mulder that God watches His flock and gives answers every day. Mulder needs to keep his eyes open. Samuel’s bail hearing goes poorly because the defendant himself doesn’t want to be released. As the judge sets bail at $100,000, the courtroom is swarmed by grasshoppers. Samuel’s like, “See what I said about y’all not having faith?”

Scully studies a grasshopper as Mulder reads about the plague of locusts in the Bible. She thinks a swarm of insects is normal for the area. Mulder, of course, believes Samuel’s for real. A bunch of people went to him for treatment and were cured after being told they couldn’t be. Scully says there’s a medical precedent for spontaneous healing.

Vance summons the agents to the Hartleys’ house, where Hartley insists that Samuel’s innocent. “His power comes from his ability to feel,” but not everyone sees that as a gift. Scully wonders why Daniels thinks the Miracle Ministry is a fraud. Hartley reveals that Daniels’ wife has an incurable condition, so Daniels is just annoyed that Samuel can’t help her. Mulder spots a little girl outside and runs out to find her, but no one’s seen her. Samuel watches him from a window.

Vance greets a family at a healing service, promising to try to get a woman named Margaret placed in the front row. Backstage, Hartley encourages Samuel not to forsake his gift. As a preacher, Hartley uses his gift, but it’s nowhere near as important as the miracles Samuel performs. The Hartleys and Vance say a prayer before Samuel makes his appearance.

Mulder and Scully are in attendance as the service begins, and Scully can’t help herself from noting that an offering’s being taken. Hartley introduces Vance as a man who saw the face of God but was left on Earth to continue God’s work. Vance says he owes his life to Samuel, so I guess he was the guy in the car accident in the first scene?

As Samuel takes the stage, Mulder spots the little girl and chases after her again. Samuel prays with Margaret and her family, but after a minute she has a seizure. Scully examines her, but it’s too late – Margaret’s dead. The believers follow her body to the hospital, where Vance leads a prayer for her. Scully learns that Margaret had MS but had never had a seizure before. She thinks Margaret had an embolism, and there was foul play. She asks Margaret’s father to agree to an autopsy.

While Margaret’s parents confer, Scully tells Mulder that she was raised Catholic. She knows that “God never lets the devil steal the show.” Mulder recognizes this as a line from The Exorcist. She asks him about his strange behavior at the service, but he just says he thought he saw someone he knew. Scully guesses that he keeps thinking he sees his sister. Mulder denies that he’s delusional. Scully agrees – he’s just a victim of the power of suggestion.

Margaret’s parents approve the autopsy, so Scully gets to it. She thinks Margaret died from a lack of oxygen to her cells, possibly because she was poisoned. Mulder heads to the police station and asks Samuel straight out if he poisoned Margaret. Samuel says he didn’t, but he still takes responsibility for Margaret’s death.

Mulder thinks Samuel’s punishing himself for not being able to save people. He knows a jury won’t find him guilty. Mulder asks Samuel to examine his pain again, and though Samuel says he can’t do that anymore, Mulder knows he’s lying. He asks if Samuel made Samantha appear, then if Samantha’s alive, or if it was a trick. “A trick of the devil?” Samuel asks with a smirk. Mulder requests that Daniels release Samuel from lockup – he doesn’t think Samuel’s killing people.

A deputy lets two men into Samuel’s cell, where they beat him up. The next day, a deputy goes to Daniels’ house to tell him that Samuel’s dead. The story is that two people were picked up for rowdy behavior and beat Samuel while they were sharing a cell. No one’s allowed into the building. Scully notes that Mulder has a look on his face like he lost his keys and is trying to figure out how to get back in the house.

The agents break in and, after Mulder sees grasshoppers in an air vent, they head to the roof. Mulder realizes that there’s a trail of food from the ventilation system to the courtroom. He thinks whoever left it was responsible for the grasshoppers and the murders. Elsewhere, Vance has a vision of Samuel, who accuses him of the murders. Vance appears to be unhappy with the life he’s had to live for the past ten years, though he’s only alive thanks to Samuel.

Mulder, Scully, and Daniels head to the Hartleys’ house with a warrant to investigate Vance. They were able to connect him to a pesticide containing cyanide. By the time they get to Vance’s room, he’s drunk cyanide and is babbling about betraying Samuel. He insists that Samuel appeared to him and forgave him. Vance takes one last breath and dies.

Sometime later, Scully types up her field report, stating that Vance tried to sabotage the ministry from the inside. Scully doesn’t think Samuel ever performed any miracles. But the case isn’t over: Daniels calls to tell the agents that Samuel’s body has disappeared from the morgue. An employee claims that she saw Samuel walk out. Daniels isn’t sure what to tell his wife after all these years of insisting that Samuel was a fraud. Also, the DA has some questions for him about Samuel’s death.

Mulder and Scully head back to the service site, wondering if Hartley will continue his ministry even without Samuel. Scully hopes that Hartley didn’t take his son’s body to make everyone believe another miracle occurred. Mulder thinks he sees Samantha again, but this time, instead of chasing after her, he heads back to D.C. with Scully.

Thoughts: Samuel is played by Scott Bairstow, Ned from Party of Five.

Hartley’s license plate: B HEALD. Well, it’s no 1BRUCE1.

This episode could have been done a lot better. They didn’t spend enough time on things that should have been better developed. Where did Samuel come from? When did he start exhibiting his ability to heal? Why didn’t we get more about Daniels and his wife? Was Daniels ever a suspect because he resented the ministry? Actually, was anyone other than Samuel ever a suspect? There wasn’t much of a murder investigation there.

September 26, 2015

BH90210 10.6, ’80s Night: The Naked Truth

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

No. Oh, so much no

No. Oh, so much no

Summary: David’s radio show is so popular that everyone at the After Dark now listens to it while he’s broadcasting. He urges a caller named Tony to dump his girlfriend, and when Tony hedges, David does the deed himself. In case we’ve forgotten, David’s a jerk this season. At the beach apartment, Donna informs Kelly that the Patches – the parents of her rapist – are there. Kelly refuses to talk to them, but they tell her they’ve forgiven her for killing Joe. They hope she can forgive them for what their son did. Kelly says that what Joe did was unforgivable.

A guy who lives across the alley from the After Dark comes to complain about the noise caused by Noah and Gina’s new after-hours business. Gina butters the guy up to get him to calm down. She reminds Noah that they need to keep things going so he can afford all the nice things Donna wants. Noah tells her they’re moving in together. At the Walshes’, Matt watches a news story about one of his clients, Pete, who’s been sentenced to death for rape and murder.

Donna goes by the After Dark, where Noah and Gina pretend they’ve been working on a theme for a Halloween party. Noah quickly comes up with the idea for an ’80s night. Gina runs out to get “accessories.” Noah gives Donna a nice bracelet purchased with the money he made from strippers. How romantic.

Kelly goes to court with Matt, who’s super-nervous about arguing such an important case. After all, a man’s life depends on him. Matt calls Pete’s brother Walter to the stand for Pete’s appeal. The brothers had a rough childhood with an abusive father. Pete confessed to Walter after he murdered a woman named Pam, and Walter turned him in to the police. In the ten years he’s been in prison, Pete has changed, and Walter pleads for the jury to spare his life.

Steve wants to turn the Walshes’ into a haunted house for Halloween, partly to get in touch with his inner kid. Janet already has plans for the holiday, going out with some old friends. In fact, she’s going to play with their band. Steve’s like, “I thought I was the wild and crazy one.” Back in court, the prosecutor plays a recording of Pete’s rape and murder confession. He relays his crime as if nothing major happened. Kelly leaves the courtroom, unable to hear it.

At the club, Tony asks David to help him get his girlfriend, Amber, back – the breakup was a huge mistake. David thinks it was the right thing, since Amber doesn’t love him. Tony begs David to fix things. Dylan calms him down, then tells David he’s being an idiot. David ignores him, then announces that the topic of that night’s show is “old friends and when it’s okay to tell them to go to Hell.”

Donna and Noah flirt boringly, and she complains that he works too many hours. Noah’s just happy that she has no idea what he’s been up to. He tries to make sure that the same goes for Dylan and Gina. Dylan’s back bugging David for his behavior, calling him reckless. David says that he just gives advice, and if people take it, that’s their responsibility. Dylan points out that he doesn’t have any training in counseling people, so he could really screw things up for someone.

Janet comes home to a haunted house that she admires until it scares her. She gushes about how great the band rehearsal was. Steve doesn’t think this is the right time for her to be revisiting things she did in college. Janet points out that he’s getting ready for Halloween to impress kids, so he’s not exactly demonstrating the kinds of mature, adult activities they should be participating in. She’d really like him to be supportive.

At the beach apartment, Matt apologizes for bringing Kelly to a trial that involved rape. She tells him about the Patches’ visit and their quest for forgiveness. She wonders if Matt would want Joe executed if he’d killed her. Matt says that he wouldn’t – the death penalty is immoral and isn’t applied fairly. Kelly’s disgusted that he would be okay with her killer getting to live. She hopes he loses Pete’s case.

Noah calls Gina in the middle of the night, asking her to grab Dylan’s key to the DJ booth and bring it to the After Dark. Otherwise the strippers won’t have any music to dance to. Gina gets the key and makes the delivery…then notices that Mel is at the club. Also at the club: Donna, who wanted to keep Noah company while he worked late. She starts to storm out but is stopped by police. The club is being shut down, and Noah’s in trouble for prostitution, operating without a license, and disturbing the peace.

Gina rushes Mel out the back door as the police cuff both Noah and Donna. They think Donna’s a hooker. Gina heads back to the hotel, putting Dylan’s key back on his keychain and getting back into bed with him to pretend she was there all night. When Dylan’s woken by a call from Donna, Gina learns that she was arrested. Kelly thinks that Matt’s doing something immoral by defending Pete. He introduces her to Walter, who’s hanging out with him until the verdict comes back.

Noah and Donna are released from lockup, and Donna gives back her new bracelet, since it was paid for with strip-club money. She leaves with Dylan, refusing to talk to Noah. Donna heads to the Peach Pit, where David’s telling Nat about his latest meddling in people’s lives. She tells him that he’s being a jerk and making fun of people. What would he say if a teenage girl called him and asked if she should give in to a boyfriend pressuring her to have sex? David’s behavior worries her.

The verdict is in, and Pete’s appeal has been denied. Walter blames himself for basically sentencing his brother to death. Kelly feels bad. Gina tells Noah that they made $4,000 the night before, even with the police breaking things up. She tells him he can have all of it, first making sure he didn’t tell anyone that she had anything to do with the strip club. Dylan arrives, announcing that he’s shutting down the strip club. He was fined $40,000, and his probation could be in trouble. The guys bicker about who works for who, and Dylan demands that Noah pay half the fine.

It’s Halloween! The haunted house is a hit, though some kids run away screaming before Steve can give them popcorn balls. Janet gets ready for a band performance, which Steve objects to. She can’t believe he’s being such an overprotective father to her after being so immature so often. She wishes he would come to the performance, since it’s so important to her.

David goes to see Amber, telling her he was wrong to force Tony’s hand. He asks her not to blame Tony for David’s actions. Kelly goes to see the Patches, wanting to talk about forgiveness. Meanwhile, the club holds its ’80s night. A bandana’d Dylan tells Gina and her crimped hair that he woke up in the middle of the night and noticed his key missing, so he knows what she’s been up to. She promises that the strip club is done and she won’t be lying to him anymore.

On air, David apologizes for giving bad advice to his callers, blaming his personal problems. Now he’s going to work on getting people together. He also seems to want to make up with Dylan. Noah tries to ease Donna’s worries, telling her that the criminal charges have been dropped, so he just has to pay the fine. Donna doesn’t think they should live together – she can’t trust him. Noah notes that he came clean, but she reminds him that he didn’t tell her while it was going on.

Matt joins Steve at the haunted house, which he thinks is about to have a new wave of visitors. Matt points out that it’s 9:15, so the kids are probably in bed. Steve says that he used to believe in capital punishment, but after talking to Kelly about Pete’s case, he’s changed his mind. Then Steve puts on his best Miami Vice outfit and goes to the club to see Janet play. His conversation with Matt helped him remember that he doesn’t have to be a responsible parent all the time. After all, kids have bedtimes. Janet just wants to make sure his costume isn’t from his own closet.

The band plays (Janet’s on bass, by the way), and Steve’s the most excited person in the audience. Gina sneaks out to call Mel, looking for some gratitude, since other people at the strip club got arrested. He tries to brush her off, so she asks what David and Jackie would say if they knew where he was the other night. She’s going to need some hush money.

Kelly returns from the Patches’, telling Matt that she “gave them what they wanted.” Whether it was genuine or not, she knows it was the right thing to do. Matt hopes she can forgive him, too, but Kelly has no sympathy for Pete. Matt says it’s his fault if Pete dies; it means Matt couldn’t save him. Kelly says that they shouldn’t see each other until the case is over.

Thoughts: Steve’s objection to Janet playing in a band is…? He never explains it.

No judgment, but I’m going to guess that Donna was mistaken for a prostitute because of her clothes.

Yeah, they don’t call a lawyer and give him a verdict over the phone. You have to go to court and get everything on the record. Nice try, though.

Who looks at his keychain when he wakes up in the middle of the night?

Donna dresses up as Madonna. Oh, I get it!

Noah looks like an extra from Wet Hot American Summer.

Janet’s friends’ band is called Zaftig Figure. That’s not bad.

September 22, 2015

SVT #39, Jessica and the Money Mix-Up: Making a Racket

Posted in books tagged , at 6:16 pm by Jenn

How could someone not notice a big stack of cash in this thing?

How could someone not notice a big stack of cash in this thing?

Summary: With Alice out of town on business, Ned is relying on the kids to help out more around the house. Jessica is, as expected, not on board. She gets a lecture about being more responsible, which makes her feel bad that her father doesn’t have faith in her. Ned gives her the chance to prove herself by asking her to deliver an envelope containing $500 to someone named Mr. Hopper. She’ll need to do it soon because Mr. Hopper is about to leave his house.

Jessica heads out on her errand, but she’s delayed by Caroline, who has some supposedly juicy gossip. It’s not that juicy. By the time Jess remembers what she’s supposed to be doing, Mr. Hopper has already left. His neighbor was asked to keep an eye out for Jessica and let her know that Mr. Hopper will be back late, but Jess can come by in the morning. You know, if Mr. Hopper had just asked the neighbor to take the envelope from Jessica, we would have been spared the rest of this book. But that would be too easy.

Even though the next day is Saturday and Mr. Hopper is leaving really early in the morning for a week out of town, Jessica sucks it up and plans to go see him then. She stashes the money in the cover of a tennis racket she finds in a closet at the Wakefields’ house. But in the morning, the racket’s gone. Steven tells her that it actually belonged to his friend Peter Moore. Ned was annoyed when he opened the closet the night before and the racket fell on his head, so Steven took it back to Peter.

After recruiting Elizabeth to help her, Jessica rushes over to Peter’s house, where she learns that his father is off playing tennis. The twins pretend they just wanted to borrow the racket, not mentioning that there’s a fat wad of money inside. Peter loans them his mother’s racket, probably wondering why his friend has such weird sisters. After searching a few tennis courts (apparently there are a bunch in Sweet Valley), Elizabeth sees that Mrs. Moore’s racket is from the Sweet Valley Country Club, so that’s probably where Mr. Moore is.

She’s right, and the twins stalk him to the club’s restaurant. Jessica pretends to be a busgirl while she tries to get her hand in the racket cover. Mr. Moore catches her, so the twins do an actual smart thing: They tell him exactly what’s going on. Mr. Moore apologetically tells them that the envelope isn’t there.

Jessica now has a week to figure out what to do about the money before Mr. Hopper comes back. She decides that they’ll just need to earn $500 and pretend it was never missing. (And I say “they” because she easily guilts Elizabeth into helping her.) The girls create an odd-job service calling Helping Hands, planning to make $500 in seven days by washing cars and mowing lawns. All while going to school, doing homework, attending Unicorn meetings and Booster practice (Jess), and working on the newspaper (Liz). Sure.

Of course, Jess doesn’t like doing manual labor, so Elizabeth gets stuck with the brunt of the tasks. Not that it really matters, since there’s no way they can make that much money that quickly. The twins’ last chance to earn back the money is a radio contest Jessica enters. If she’s called, she’ll play Name That Tune with five Johnny Buck songs for a chance to win $1,000.

Amazingly, Jessica gets picked. Ned’s on the phone when Jess is supposed to call the station back, so Elizabeth pretends she has to make an important phone call, I guess because Ned wouldn’t give in if Jess asked. Jessica gets four of the five songs right, but she’s so focused on the prize that she calls the last song “A Thousand Bucks” instead of “A Dozen Bucks.” No money for Jess.

Jessica decides that it’s time to come clean. As she’s about to tell Ned that she lost the money, she sees him leaving the house, accidentally dropping something on the floor. It’s the envelope, and all the money is still inside. She figures that he found the envelope and either forgot to tell her or held on to it to teach her a lesson. Elizabeth is disappointed that her detectiving turned up the wrong answer (she thought Steven took the money from the racket and lost it somewhere in his room).

Jess admits to Ned that she lost the money, so he starts to tell her that he had it all along, only now he can’t find the envelope. She lets him know that she found it. Apparently he forgot to talk to her about it all week. Then he tells her that she should always come to her parents when she screws up so they can help her fix it. Yeah, right! They’ll lecture her about it and punish her. The real lesson here is never give Jessica any responsibilities.

Thoughts: To make $500 in seven days, the girls would have to make just over $70. Neither seems to think this is unreasonable.

Ellen tried to get the Unicorns to change their official color from purple to red. And she didn’t get chased out of town by a mob with torches and pitchforks?

It’s 1990 and Jessica’s still listening to records. NO.

September 20, 2015

The X-Files 1.17, E.B.E.: “I’m Wondering Which Lie to Believe”

Posted in TV tagged , , at 2:29 pm by Jenn

Welcome, helpful friends

Welcome, helpful friends

Summary: A pilot flies over Iraq, surprised to see something else darting through the sky 25 miles away. It doesn’t show up on radar. Suddenly there’s a bright light, and the pilot’s crew warns that he’s being attacked. The pilot fires and hits the object. In a NATO surveillance station on the Turkey/Iraq border, soldiers are awakened by explosions. They report a downed plane that, again, isn’t appearing on radar. The object remains in the sky.

In Reagan, Tennessee, a truck driver finds his radio cycling through stations on its own. He turns it off and hears people on his CB talking about seeing lights. Suddenly the truck loses power. The driver pulls over safely, then checks out the sky for lights. The truck doors open by themselves and the driver fires his gun inside.

When the sun comes up, Mulder and Scully check out the area, trying to figure out if the truck was struck by lightning. Also, the lights everyone saw could be from swamp gas. Mulder collects a possibly radioactive sample. He wonders why whatever they’re dealing with singled out the truck driver. Scully thinks he was hallucinating because he was tired. But Mulder has two stopwatches that tell him time is acting funny in the area.

The agents interview the truck driver, Ranheim, whose story doesn’t match what he said he saw the night before. He starts coughing, leading Scully to suspect that that plus his fever and veteran status add up to Gulf War Syndrome. Ranheim denies being in the Gulf War but admits that he’s been feeling sick since his encounter the night before. A local police chief interrupts the interview to tell Ranheim that he can go – the police won’t be cooperating with the investigation.

Out of options, the agents prepare to return to D.C. via bus. A woman borrows Scully’s pen as Mulder notes that soldiers often reported seeing UFOs in the Gulf War. Maybe UFOs cause Gulf War Syndrome. Scully thinks the soldiers just mistake classified aircraft for UFOs, and they get sick from the fumes. Mulder replies that there could be weapons onboard those aircraft that make people sick. When they get back to D.C., he plans to speak to some contacts – the Lone Gunmen.

The agents meet with the Lone Gunmen, one of whom, Langly, claims to have eaten breakfast with JFK’s shooter. Byers says that a Russian man is being put into power by the most evil force of the 20th century. “Barney?” Mulder guesses. Byers means the CIA. Frohike thinks Scully’s hot. Scully doesn’t think the government could orchestrate a huge conspiracy. Byers believes that there’s a network within the government controlling all their moves. To prove his theory, he pulls a magnetic tracking strip out of a $20 bill.

Mulder asks about Gulf War Syndrome and classified aircraft. Byers and Langly laugh at Mulder’s theory that UFOs cause the illness. “That’s why we like you, Mulder,” Byers says. “Your ideas are weirder than ours.” The agents head back to FBI headquarters, where Scully laughs off Mulder’s willingness to listen to such paranoid people: “I don’t know how you could think what they say is even remotely plausible.” “You think it’s remotely plausible that someone might think you’re hot?” Mulder replies.

Scully’s pen no longer works, so she takes it apart to look at it. Inside she finds something that you definitely wouldn’t find in a regular pen. Mulder heads home and turns on a blacklight, signaling to Deep Throat that he wants to meet. The two men convene downtown, chatting about baseball while Mulder eats sunflower seeds. Deep Throat turns away from tourists taking pictures of the monuments. Mulder asks about the pen, which seemed to contain a listening device. Deep Throat gives him files and tells him he’s undertaking “a dangerous task.”

Mulder takes the files to his office, where Scully tells him that she looked into Ranheim and his trucks. His manifest lists auto parts, but the weigh stations he visited on his route show weights that don’t match his cargo’s weight. Also, Ranheim’s real name is Frank Druce, and he did serve in the Gulf War. He’s been treated at the VA hospital three times in the past year – he didn’t just start getting sick the other night.

Mulder ties the Iraqi plane to Druce, guessing that Druce is transporting the aircraft. Scully asks for more information on Deep Throat, unsure of whether they can trust him. After all, things aren’t as they appear to be. Deep Throat could have planted the bug. Mulder refuses to believe that Deep Throat would break his confidence. Scully reports that the truck is now heading toward Colorado, so the agents plan to track it down.

Deep Throat’s waiting for Mulder when he gets home. He reveals that 17 UFOs have been spotted in Georgia. Mulder thinks they’re monitoring the place where the Iraqi plane wreckage is being held. Deep Throat starts to leave, and Mulder thanks him for risking his life to give Mulder information. When he opens Deep Throat’s newest package, he finds a picture of a UFO in the sky over an Army vehicle. Scully examines the photo and reports that it’s fake. The shadows and colors of the UFO’s reflections can’t be real.

Mulder accuses her of being determined not to believe. Scully replies that he’s too determined to believe. She’s never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief. But others won’t have the same respect for him that she does. “The truth is out there, but so are lies,” she warns. She returns to FBI headquarters, leaving her bag unattended while she gets coffee. Oh, Scully. Mulder tells her that he had the photo analyzed further, and she was right about it being fake. They can’t trust Deep Throat anymore – he’s gone to great lengths to mess with their investigation.

Mulder meets with Deep Throat at an aquarium to confront him over the photo and his lies. Deep Throat admits that he wanted to throw the agents off the right track. Some secrets need to stay secret because people aren’t ready to know the truth. Mulder lists a bunch of conspiracies, wondering when they’ll end. He guesses they won’t, as long as people like Deep Throat keep covering up the truth.

Deep Throat says that he knew he would have to throw Mulder off the trail once he started looking into the aircraft. A lie was the best way to do so. Deep Throat admires the fish, telling Mulder that if a shark stops swimming, it’ll die: “Don’t stop swimming.” He didn’t plant the bug, but he knows whoever did is still listening.

Mulder goes home and tears apart his apartment, looking for other listening devices. He finds one inside a lightbulb and another inside an electrical outlet. When Scully shows up, Mulder shows her the bugs, telling her that they should move on from their investigation. He writes her a note saying, “We have to find the truck.” Scully agrees.

Mulder drops Scully off downtown, where a man watches her as she hails a cab, and another man follows Mulder. Scully goes to Dulles Airport, buying tickets to Chicago and L.A. Mulder tries to lose his tail on his way to an airport in Baltimore (BWI, I guess). The two meet up on a stopover in Vegas, then drive to Washington State to catch up to the truck.

There’s lots of driving, and then suddenly the radio goes crazy and there are lights in the sky. The agents’ car stops near the truck, which Druce appears to have abandoned. Mulder and Scully check out the cargo area and find a little lab perfect for holding an alien life form. Mulder thinks it was rescued. But his stopwatches don’t show that anything strange is going on with time, so the light show must have been a hoax. He thinks the government is using his beliefs against him.

In a hotel, Mulder checks with hotlines that handle UFO reports, and marks on a map where some have been seen. They follow the route the truck has taken. The agents next head to Mattawa, Washington, coming across a group of people waiting in the woods for a UFO. A guy thinks it’ll appear there because aliens are drawn to a nearby power plant. The agents see Druce at the power plant, which Scully notes is highly secured.

Mulder calls the Lone Gunmen to tell them they could run a picture of an extraterrestrial biological entity (an E.B.E.) on the front page of their paper. All they need to do is hack some IDs so Mulder and Scully can enter the power plant. When they’re unable to access a classified area, Scully decides to come clean about their identities. Mulder makes a break for it and runs around until he’s captured right where the possible alien is possibly being held. Possibly.

Deep Throat arrives and calls off security. He tells Mulder that the alien is dead. After Roswell, a bunch of countries held a conference where they agreed that if an alien landed in one of their nations, that country would have to kill it. Deep Throat served in the CIA during the Vietnam War, and was responsible for killing an alien shot down by the military. He feels horrible for shooting an innocent creature.

When Deep Throat met Mulder, he found a way to atone for what he’d done. Maybe someday, the truth will be known thanks to Mulder. Mulder looks in the alien’s cell, which is empty. As they leave, Deep Throat notes that he’s quiet. “I’m wondering which lie to believe,” Mulder replies. Scully rejoins her partner as Deep Throat walks off into the fog.

Thoughts: The Lone Gunmen were originally only supposed to be in one episode, so instead of finding an actor to play Frohike, the show used an assistant director who’d previously done a little acting. They also used his name, Tom Braidwood, for Mulder’s ID at the power plant. Scully’s fake name, Val Stefoff, came from another assistant director (who’s actually a man).

More trivia I just learned this week: Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat) is the father of Melora Hardin.

Mulder pronounces “data” like “dada.” Don’t do that, Mulder.

Just for the record, since I know it comes up in the future, Mulder lets Scully drive in this episode.

September 19, 2015

BH90210 10.5, The Loo-Ouch: After Hours

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:38 pm by Jenn

It's always a classy party with this gang

It’s always a classy party with this gang

Summary: Two kids at the Beverly Royale wake Dylan up with a prank call, pretending to be from a radio station. He tells them he’s a federal agent and is tracing the call. Apparently this isn’t the first time they’ve called. Dylan decides to get some writing done, but Gina turns on the TV to watch Gone With the Wind. He reminds her that she has her own room now. Gina’s annoyed that he doesn’t want her around now that they’re done with sex for the night. She’s even more annoyed when a guy in the hallway mistakes her for a hooker.

Steve and Janet meet her parents for dinner, finally revealing her pregnancy. They’re not any happier to learn of the couple’s engagement. They think Janet’s too young to settle down, and Mr. Sosna even goes so far as to tell Janet that she’s disgraced the family. David’s still trying to convince Robyn that he’s not a horrible person; his show just makes him seem that way. He encourages her to just not listen to it. Then they walk into the Peach Pit and find everyone wearing shirts with David’s face and the words “if you’re gonna play…you might as well score.”

At the Walshes’, Steve complains to Matt and Noah that it’s hard to plan a wedding when the bride’s family has practically disowned her. They’re also planning for the baby and looking for a place to live. Matt and Noah offer to let them live at the Walshes’, though one of the guys will have to move out. Both guys wonder if their girlfriends will want to live with them. Matt then goes to see Kelly to let her know that his living arrangements could change soon, so maybe hers will, too. Kelly shares the news with Donna, who hasn’t heard from Noah on the subject yet.

Speaking of Noah, he runs into Gina, who then spots the guy from the hallway. She suggests to Noah that they run an after-hours business to make more money. Noah will be able to pocket all of it, cutting Dylan out. And all they’ll have to do is let women take their clothes off at the After Dark! Sounds like a great plan to me!

Janet and Steve have lunch with Rush, who apparently never learned that a) Asia isn’t just one big country, b) Janet is Japanese, not Chinese, and c) not all Asian waiters are Chinese restaurants are Chinese. He thinks Steve and Janet should hold off on getting married – they should have the baby and “see how it goes.” Steve’s never listened to his father before, and he’s not about to start now.

Gina and Dylan fight a little before a maid named Maria brings the pranking boys (her sons) by to apologize to Dylan. He figures that they were caught by the same employee who used to catch him pulling pranks. Dylan puts them to work giving the hallway guy early-morning wake-up calls every 15 minutes.

At the Walshes’ house, which is full of decorations for Janet and Steve’s engagement party, Donna wonders why Noah hasn’t asked her if she wants to live with him. Steve and Janet bicker about their parents’ issues. Donna mentions that at least Samantha’s happy. Steve snarks that she’s a double threat to Janet’s parents, since she’s a Caucasian lesbian. A woman named Karen shows up, having heard about the engagement party from Samantha. She’s Samantha’s partner, there for the party in Samantha’s absence. Suddenly Janet starts having pain.

Gina and Noah go over the details of their new business: For $30 a head, the After Dark will be a strip club. Gina’s going to network using contacts from Pia’s book. Noah admits that he needs money for his own place. Gina’s like, “Yeah, I guess you don’t have a sugar daddy to put you up like I do.” She’s excited to make back all the money her mother allegedly took from her.

Dylan gets a little revenge on Maria’s sons by putting a crab in one boy’s backpack. This plot is dumb. Janet and the baby are both fine; her doctor thinks she just had a panic attack. She advises Janet to try to avoid stress. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll happen. Mrs. Sosna shows up, having been called by Donna, and now seems willing to go easier on her daughter and future son-in-law. Steve avoids an awkward moment by introducing Karen as his adopted sister.

David and Robyn have gotten things back on track, though she’s worried that he won’t call if she doesn’t sleep with him. After all, he’s mentioned that on his radio show. David assures her that there’s no pressure, and even invites her to the engagement party so she can meet his friends. At the Walshes’, Matt tells Kelly that he knows of a townhouse that would be perfect for them to live in together. Kelly likes how things are currently and doesn’t want to make any big changes.

Noah tells Donna that he won’t be able to make the engagement party, since things are so busy at the After Dark. Donna forces him to talk about the possibility of moving in together, but Noah’s not interested right now. Dylan surprises Gina by setting up her suite as a movie theater so they can watch Gone With the Wind together. She barely keeps him from seeing Pia’s book of potential strip-club clients.

Mr. and Mrs. Sosna drop by the beach apartment, where Mr. Sosna eyes Steve’s “if you’re gonna play” shirt. The Sosnas want Janet to move back in so they can help her with the baby. They’ll even look after the child while Janet goes to grad school. Steve can visit. Janet tells her parents that she already has things planned out and will be raising the baby with her soon-to-be husband.

Dylan’s chatting with Maria’s sons when he learns that Maria has been fired – a guest found the sons’ crabs in her bathtub. Dylan begs Maria’s boss to change his mind, but he refuses. Kelly tells Donna that Matt asked her to move in, but she wants to keep living with Donna. Donna remarks that at least Matt asked, unlike Noah. She feels like this is their first big test after getting back together, and they’re failing.

The engagement party is supposed to be a luau on the beach, but rain sends the guests to the beach apartment. Karen’s annoyed with Steve for saying that she’s Samantha’s daughter rather than her partner. Steve asks Rush to keep up the lie, but this is the first Rush has heard that Samantha has a partner. Oh, and the first he’s heard that Samantha’s a lesbian. “No wife of mine was ever gay!” he exclaims. You’re wrong there, Rush.

Donna asks Dylan to let Noah have a night off from running the club so he can come to the party. Gina gets rid of her so Dylan won’t find out that there’s anything happening at the After Dark. The Sosnas arrive, and Rush puts on a big show of pretending Karen’s his daughter. “She’s a wonderful actress,” Karen tells the Sosnas when they ask after Samantha. “She can fake anything.”

Then things get worse: Rush thought he was coming to a bachelor party, so he hired a stripper, Trish. Steve pretends she’s a prospective nanny. Trish is a big fan of David’s and asks him to sign her chest. She asks if he and Robyn slept together after their third date, as he’d talked about on his show. David says yes, so Robyn’s done with him. Also done: the Sosnas, after a fight between Rush and Karen over who’s had better sex with Samantha ends with Rush asking Karen to join him in the bedroom.

Steve decides to cut his losses by telling the Sosnas that Karen is Samantha’s partner. They don’t care – they still think he’s an awful choice in husband and father. Mr. Sosna reminds Janet that she wanted to go to grad school. Janet replies that her life has gone in a different direction, but she’s happy. She knows her parents are disappointed in her, not in Steve. Mr. Sosna confirms this.

Dylan and Gina head home, where she quickly calls Noah to warn him that Dylan’s on his way to the After Dark. Noah’s still auditioning strippers and doesn’t feel a sense of urgency. Gina’s plan B is taking off her clothes to get Dylan to stay with her. The next day, Dylan takes Maria and her sons to an afterschool program. Now that her boss won’t have to deal with the kids, he agrees to give Maria her job back. Andrew, the guy who runs the program, suggests that Dylan volunteer.

Matt and Noah decide to flip a coin to figure out which of them moves out of the Walshes’ house. Kelly and Donna stop them, not wanting a coin to decide their futures. Noah reminds Donna that she didn’t want to live with him before, so why would he ask again? Kelly tells Matt that she’d like to live with him, but she doesn’t want to change her life just because Janet and Steve’s new life developments make her feel left behind. As Noah flips the coin, Donna catches it and announces that they’ll live together.

Steve and Janet gather her parents and Rush at the beach apartment to try to smooth things over. Apart from anyone’s race or class, they love each other and want to be together. Steve insists that he would have eventually proposed to Janet even without the baby. They’re going to focus on their family and not worry about whether their parents support their decisions.

Gina’s sex plan was so successful that Dylan tells her she doesn’t have to leave when they’re done. She decides she has a pretty good boyfriend after all. But this time she’s the one who leaves, since there’s work to be done at the club. Well, really, the work is mostly done, but Gina still gets to collect a wad of cash. Elsewhere, David tries again to make up with Robyn, telling her that the person he was in high school would never act like he does now. Robyn wishes she’d met the high school version of David.

Thoughts: There are three recognizable guest stars in this episode:

  • Karen is played by Lisa Thornhill (Celeste Kane on Veronica Mars).
  • Trish is played by Jaime Bergman.
  • Andrew is played by Robb Derringer (currently Sloane on General Hospital).

Gina, you can complain about being a kept woman or you can reap the benefits, but not both.

Hey, Donna, maybe Noah hasn’t suggested living together since the last time he did, you kept saying no and slept with someone else. Remember?

Karen, look at the bright side: You do look young enough to be Steve’s sister.

Best scene in the episode:

Karen: “Can you tell when a woman fakes an orgasm?”
Rush: “Yes, absolutely.”
Karen: “That’s not what Mom said.”
(Matt, in the background, loves this)
Rush: “I got something you don’t have.”
Karen: “Penis envy?”

I want to watch The Karen and Rush Show.

September 15, 2015

SVU #43, The Price of Love: Nick of Time

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:19 pm by Jenn

What...what is happening here? Is this supposed to be Nick? There's no way that's Nick

What…what is happening here? Is this supposed to be Nick? There’s no way that’s Nick

Summary: The book starts just where the last one ended, with Jessica and an unconscious Nick in the house where he tried to sting Clay. Nick regains consciousness, and Jessica tells him some of the things Clay said while he was out – namely, that he killed another cop, Riviera. Nick swears her to secrecy, deciding that he’ll pretend he heard the confession so Jess doesn’t have to testify and get involved in the whole mess. Unfortunately, until then, Nick and Jess will have to pretend they’ve broken up.

Jessica decides to make the fake split look more realistic by flirting with Clay. This seems like a foolproof plan. Lila thinks Jessica’s insane, considering what Clay did to Isabella. She tells Nick about Jess and Clay’s possible new relationship, which makes Nick go all Todd on Clay. Nick then covers up his jealousy by screaming at Jessica – in public – that she’s a slut for hooking up with another guy so soon after their breakup.

This doesn’t convince Clay of anything, or if it does, it doesn’t really matter. After all, Clay almost killed Nick, and with Nick…you know, not dead, Clay has a problem on his hands. He tries to have Nick kidnapped off the street, but Nick manages to get the attention of some nearby cops. Clay gets away, but Nick passes along the information that he killed Riviera, so the police are now on the lookout.

Since Jessica is a potential target, Nick enlists a young cop named Graham to be her bodyguard while posing as her new boyfriend. Jessica objects, even when Graham turns out to be cute. She’s pretty awful to him, making it clear that Nick is much more awesome than he is. I don’t think Graham really cares. Graham is a pushover, actually; he helps Nick and Jessica get together for a date when they’re not supposed to see each other. Thanks, Graham.

Despite the fact that Nick is staying in a hotel and using a “light disguise,” Clay is able to track him down. He brings along Nelson “The Nose” Karl, the head of the whole Sweet Valley drug empire. I’m curious whether he’s called “The Nose” because he has a large one or because he does a lot of cocaine. Nick escapes and leads Clay and Karl straight to where a bunch of cops are waiting for them. They’re not the smartest criminals, are they? Also, there’s an appearance by a helicopter, which supposedly takes the criminals by surprise, because bad books and movies always forget that helicopters are loud and can’t exactly sneak up on people.

So this means things get to go back to normal for Nick and Jessica, right? Wrong. There isn’t enough evidence to put Clay away without Nick having to testify, and Nick can’t be protected even after Clay’s in prison. He’s decided he needs to enter witness protection. Jessica wants to go with him, but Nick refuses to make her leave her life. They won’t be able to see each other ever again. There’s a super-dramatic scene where they say goodbye to each other. I would be more interested if I didn’t know what happens in the next book.

Elizabeth and Tom spend the entire book not talking about whether he slept with Dana. Elizabeth is freaking out about the idea but won’t bring it up. Tom notices that Elizabeth is upset about something but can’t get her to tell him what it is. This goes on FOREVER. Elizabeth finally asks the question…and Tom lies. Freaking A, Tom. I can’t take this plot anymore.

Winston gets a ridiculous plot involving a bunch of prep-school girls who visit SVU. They’re all in love with him (though I think it’s mostly because they go to an all-girls’ school and are so desperate for any kind of male interaction that they’d take anything). The girls act like rowdy six-year-olds. They have an actual food fight. And one of them, Brenda, kisses Winston while Denise is watching. This plot is exhausting.

Danny should have the most interesting storyline in the book, what with Isabella still being unconscious in the hospital, but it goes nowhere. Remember how Danny was accused of stealing a test he accidentally picked up? He’s supposed to meet with the professor about the incident and whatever kind of punishment he faces for it, but instead, she realizes that he didn’t do anything wrong. The professor’s suddenly so nice to Danny that I was sure she was going to try to seduce him and kick off a completely different plot. But no, she just lets the whole thing go. And then Danny realizes that he’s not mad at Isabella after all, and he wants her back. She’ll have to wake up first, of course.

Thoughts: The girls on Winston’s hall only get a few hours’ notice that they’re all expected to house overnight guests. I would walk out and spend the weekend somewhere else.

Winston tells the prep-school girls that he has a degree in sexual chemistry. First of all, that’s so weak. Second of all, THEY’RE UNDERAGE, EGBERT.

Jessica wears black velvet jeans. Why do I feel like Lila tricked her into buying those, making her think they were fashionable?

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