Good Omens is Immaculately Divine

June 12, 2019 at 4:49 PM | Posted in Books, TV | Leave a comment

What if an angel and a demon band together to stop Armageddon?

This is the premise of Good Omens, a new TV miniseries on Amazon Prime. Good Omens is based on the 1990 book written by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett.

I’ve read the book years ago and since then I’ve been waiting for it to be adapted on screen. There have been plans on making it into a movie years ago but it didn’t push through. Thankfully, this time it finally got made as a miniseries. The six-episode TV adaptation was written by Neil himself so most of what’s in the book remained intact, apart from a few tweaks here and there. The humor in the book was not lost in the adaptation either.

Good Omens is about an unlikely friendship between an angel named Aziraphale and a demon called Crowley. They’ve known each other since the beginning of creation (i.e., since Adam and Eve were created). Aziraphale first started as the angel guarding the Eastern Gate of the Garden of Eden while Crowley was the serpent who tempted Eve. Eventually they were sent to Earth by their masters to do their respective jobs – Aziraphale doing God’s work and Crowley tempting humans into committing sins. They’ve been on Earth for so long that they’ve come to love the world.

But their love for the world was about to come to an end with the arrival of the AntiChrist, who was expected to start a war that would lead to Armageddon. Not wanting for the world to end, Crowley and Aziraphale formed an alliance to stop Armageddon from happening.

On the back of that premise were a milieu of characters, celestial beings and hilarious scenarios that added flavor to the story.

Good Omens_Aziraphale and Crowley

Generally, TV and film adaptations tend to lose some of the magic of a book’s story but the Good Omens adaptation was so right in the mark that I’m fully satisfied with the outcome. The performances weren’t bad either. David Tennant was brilliant as the fun-loving, rebellious demon Crowley while Michael Sheen was ever the finicky angel Aziraphale. They played off on one another so well that it’s hard not to love the budding friendship between their characters.

Jon Hamm nailed it as the Archangel Gabriel. His character’s addition to the show despite not being in the book was a good choice. He perfectly fit the description in the book as a “pompous jackass.”

I also love the fact that the series’ choice of background music consisted mostly of Queen’s greatest hits, which was obviously a nod to a specific humor in the book.

Since the book was first published in 1990, it’s interesting to note that in several scenes in the TV adaptation, the show seamlessly mixed old technology with modern conveniences that didn’t exist during that period. Smartphones could be seen in some scenes alongside with vintage tech like rotary phones and answering machines. In the series, heaven was depicted as a modern skyscraper with glass walls and pristine interiors, while hell was a dank basement of the same building.

There were other contemporary touches in the show that made it quite timely and inclusive: God and Archangel Michael were played by women and Adam and Eve were played by black actors.

There were several scenes in the series that really stood out for me, such as Crowley and Aziraphale dancing, Crowley riding through the M25 ring of fire, Aziraphale and Crowley’s friendship depicted through spanning centuries, and of course The Beginning. The twist in the end was also a surprising delight.

There are speculations around the internet that there might be a second season of the series but for me, the fact that it got made in the first place is good enough. And well-made it is.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Series Finale Review: A Situation More Nuanced Than the Last Six Words

April 10, 2019 at 12:09 AM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers of the series finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Read at your own risk!

“This is the song I wrote.”

The last six words uttered by Rebecca Bunch before our TV screens faded to black. That’s how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended its fourth and final season.

It’s been one hell of a crazy rollercoaster ride for viewers like me who watched the series through the years. From the moment we saw the show’s main character Rebecca Bunch sang and danced her way to West Covina, California up to the time when she finally found love in an unexpected place, it had been a joy to watch her grow and become a better person. Her journey to personal development had been the best part of the series for me, and the final season delivered that perfectly.

The show’s series finale culminated in Rebecca finally finding love – not in the form of romantic love – but in something else. Throughout the entire series, fans had been rooting for Rebecca to be with either Josh, Greg or Nathaniel. When I started watching the show, I didn’t ship Rebecca with anyone at all. I was more interested in her crazy antics – how she would find ways to manipulate situations to her liking and how she would get out of the mess she created. But when Nathaniel came into the picture in season 2, I started shipping her with him.

But this final season, I came to realize that she didn’t need a romantic partner at all. I was more concerned about her mental well-being. She was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and it’s more important for her to take care of herself first and be better than have a boyfriend. So I was glad that in the finale that she didn’t choose any of the three men. Instead, she found love in songwriting. I wasn’t surprised by this at all.

In the second season, it was revealed that most of the musical numbers in the show were just all in Rebecca’s head. That’s the way she lived and how she arrived at decisions sometimes. She just made up all the songs in her head. So all that hidden talent finally burst out and with Paula’s help, Rebecca was able to take the first step and write the songs that’s been in her head for some time. That’s her ultimate love. I had an inkling about this after I saw the episode where she joined a community theater. I predicted that she would become a songwriter in the end and I was right.

What resonated the most for me from the final episode was the scene where Rebecca was studying to become a songwriter and she said, “When writing songs, it’s important to tell your own story.” I couldn’t agree more. As a frustrated writer, I’m constantly faced with this predicament. I’m a copywriter by profession and I write stories for other people. But I have my own stories to tell and they’re something that need to be written eventually. But I digress…

While the finale was fitting for Rebecca, I couldn’t say the same for the other characters. When it came to time jumps, the show struggled to make the story tight. I had a problem with the show’s first time jump in the previous season mainly because there was not enough build up on the storylines, especially with Valencia’s story. She was straight in earlier seasons and now she’s suddenly gay? How did that happen?! I wished there was a backstory on that.

This season’s time jump saw Darryl and her girlfriend (I don’t remember her name) having a baby. Nathaniel quit his job and went volunteering to a foreign country. Josh had a new girlfriend as well and Valencia and Beth got married. I’m fine with these overall but when it came to Heather and Hector as well as White Josh’s story, it was pretty lame. I would’ve wanted for them to have something more substantial than Heather and Hector getting a new hot tub and White Josh’s house being burned to the ground. And what was that all about George’s ponytail? I don’t get it. For me, that was unnecessary.

Overall, the finale was good as it tied up Rebecca’s story perfectly. The last six words were also fitting as the fade-to-black ending was immediately followed by the concert special where the cast performed select songs from the show. The ending meant that the songs in the concert special were the songs that were in Rebecca’s head. The first song played in the concert special (“West Covina”) was the first one she wrote. So it had that seamless transition.

I only wished the concert special was longer. But oh well, I could just settle with listening to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtrack…

My Top 5 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Songs

October 27, 2018 at 9:23 AM | Posted in Music, TV | Leave a comment

I’ve been listening a lot lately to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend original soundtrack. I guess I’m enjoying the show’s music as much as I can since season 4 is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s final season before it goes off the air for good.

I admit I was rather late when I started watching this TV show. I started watching it when season 2 was already airing on TV. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a musical TV show this good. Since watching the first season, this has become one of my favorite shows on TV.

And one of the main reasons I love it is because of the musical numbers in the show. The songs featured in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are all original and co-written by the show’s co-creator Rachel Bloom. I have a lot of favorite songs from the show and it’s really tough to pick just five. But I managed to come up with a list of my top five favorites (in no particular order).

 

  1. JAP Battle

This rap song is absolutely fantastic and infectious with brilliant lyrics. It’s about a face-off between a small law firm in California and a large Manhattan law firm.

 

  1. You Stupid Bitch

There’s nothing more gut-wrenching than making mistakes and blaming yourself for them. And this song perfectly sums up what Rebecca Bunch (a.k.a the crazy ex-girlfriend in the story) is going through at the time.

 

  1. Santa Ana Winds

This is kind of a throwback to ‘60s music with its catchy tune. I never thought a song about wind can be this funny. Also, this was right about the time I’m starting to ship Rebecca with Nathaniel.

 

  1. Strip Away My Conscience

With a sound reminiscent of Chicago, this song is flirty, sexy and raunchy. Lots of shippy feels about this scene between Rebecca and Nathaniel.

 

  1. Where’s Rebecca Bunch?

This is an ensemble musical number which I really love, partly because of the period costumes featured here. I also love the contrast between the old and the new, with lyrics about Twitter hashtags while the cast were in a period setting.

All for Nothing: The X-Files S11x10 “My Struggle IV” Review

March 25, 2018 at 11:22 PM | Posted in TV | 1 Comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!

 

At this point, the “My Struggle” story arc in The X-Files revival is already beyond saving. Series creator Chris Carter has made a major mess out of his own mytharc in seasons 10 and 11. His stubbornness to write this revival mytharc himself has caused the franchise a lot – series low ratings, a mired reputation and a lot of angry X-Philes.

The season 11 finale of The X-Files titled “My Struggle IV” was supposed to wrap up the William storyline and tie the loose ends that the show introduced since “My Struggle I.” But instead, we got a feeble attempt to explain away the story. The episode was so problematic that to say it was a big disappointment would even be an understatement.

Before the finale aired, I already set myself for a major disappointment. That’s why I wasn’t even surprised when I first watched it. But there are several plot points I want to highlight, and what I think made the finale such an epic fail.

  1. The New Syndicate

What was the point of introducing Erica Price and Mr. Y as part of The Syndicate only to kill them off so quickly? These two seemed to be part of the top brass but we hardly knew them. And considering the power they held, you would think they would have a pretty tight security at their Purlieu Services facility. But how come Mulder easily got pass the guards and kill Mr. Y? Was it that easy to defeat the Syndicate now?

  1. Mulder Against the Syndicate

Mulder suddenly became a one-man killing machine? I just find it unbelievable that Mulder could easily fought off the guards at Purlieu Services all by himself and got away unscathed, even after killing Mr. Y.

Photo credit: screenrant.com
  1. The Pandemic

Tad O’ Malley, the conspiracy theory nut we first saw in season 10 was back in the finale. Only this time, the pandemic has yet to happen. This is where this plot got confusing. I presumed the scene where Scully warned Tad about the pandemic happened before “My Struggle II” but I could be wrong. But the main question here is what would happen when the Spartan virus strikes in the future?

“My Struggle II” ended with Scully saying that they need William’s DNA to save people from the virus. Through her visions, Scully knew in the season 11 finale that William is still alive after the Cigarette Smoking Man shot him. But how would they find William when Mulder was already dying in that scene and Scully’s supposed to be pregnant with her second miracle baby? This could also mean that CSM survived the multiple gunshots he took from Mulder. If that’s the case, how would they explain CSM’s burnt face? His face was burnt from the missile blast in season 9, and in “My Struggle II,” CSM’s face still showed signs of that burn and he wore a mask to hide it. But in “My Struggle IV,” his face looked completely healed.

If the show gets renewed for season 12 (which I highly doubt), how would they go about that story, especially without Gillian Anderson on board? The season 11 finale left that hanging.

  1. Monica Reyes and Skinner’s Deaths

Monica Reyes might have connived with CSM, but it’s clear from the finale that she was also working against him to help Mulder and Scully. After all the build-up on Monica’s apparent betrayal, we were left with an underwhelming scene of her attempt at redemption. She was fatally shot on the head while in the car with CSM – by Skinner no less. I would have preferred her death to be justified with a grand gesture of redeeming herself, not the way it played out in the finale.

Skinner’s death was also underwhelming. A proper face off with CSM would have been better than him getting run over by a car. Skinner and Monica deserved better than that.

  1. The Elephant in the Room

Chris Carter seemed to have forgotten about the supersoldiers infiltrating the FBI in season 9. The show’s revival series never addressed this important plot. Instead, we had FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh back to hating Mulder and Scully after he mellowed down enough in season 9 to help them escape in the season 9 finale. Why the sudden change of heart? And what happened to the supersoldiers?

As a side note, Kersh also wanted to shut down the X-Files division. This was not a shocker since it’s not the first time the basement office had been shut down. But since the X-Files have been digitized by Purlieu Services, who would be handling them now that Erica and Mr. Y are dead?

THE X-FILES: Guest star Miles Robbins in the “My Struggle IV” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

  1. William

Honestly, I never liked William. He’s a terrible kid. He had two girlfriends and has been living the life of a juvenile delinquent. Just because he has supernatural powers he couldn’t understand it doesn’t mean he has an excuse to behave badly. Why did he have to scare the truck driver when he needed him in the first place to get to Norfolk, Virginia? He should have known better that displaying his powers in public would tip off the Syndicate who was after him.

Also, he kept pushing away Mulder and Scully and insisted they couldn’t help him but he wanted his other girlfriend to run away with him? How could his girlfriend help him at all when she’s not even in that position to protect him from the Syndicate?

  1. Cigarette Smoking Man’s Death

I don’t buy CSM’s death for a second. First of all, Mulder shot him multiple times on the chest. For all we know, CSM might have been wearing a bulletproof vest so shooting him on the chest would be useless. It would have been more effective if Mulder shot him on the head to make sure he’s really killed. Besides, CSM unbelievably survived a missile blast in season 9 so it’s highly plausible that he would survive the gunshot wounds.

To be honest, I would actually prefer CSM to stay dead after season 9 ended. He could have just appeared in seasons 10 and 11 in flashback scenes. I would have liked to see a new set of villains introduced in the show instead of resurrecting old ones.

Photo credit: xfiles.news
  1. Skinner’s Revelation to Scully

Practically everyone was expecting to see Skinner tell Scully about William’s real father. But we were robbed of that. Instead the big reveal happened off camera so we didn’t see how Scully reacted on that. I would have liked to see how Scully would take the news.

This also goes to show that CSM was really William’s father – not in the biological sense but still a father figure nonetheless. I was expecting this to be a lie. After all, the tagline of “My Struggle III” was “I want to lie.” So who does this pertain to now?

And the fact that CSM injected her with alien DNA without her knowledge in the “En Ami” episode which resulted in her pregnancy still doesn’t sit well with me.

  1. Scully’s Revelation to Mulder

I’ve read theories online prior to the finale that Scully might be pregnant. This stemmed from the last scene in “Nothing Lasts Forever” episode where Scully whispered something to Mulder. In that scene, Scully said that what she whispered was her leap of faith forward and she wanted to do that together with Mulder.

It was also hinted in the “Plus One” episode where Mulder and Scully stayed at St. Rachel’s Motel while they were solving the doppelganger case. For Catholics, St. Rachel is the patron saint of childless wives. She was the sterile wife of Jacob but gave birth to two sons in her late years.

The pregnancy theory was an unpopular opinion but when I thought about it, I really think it’s possible that Scully could get pregnant. And true enough, in the finale, Scully revealed to Mulder that she’s pregnant and he is the father.

Photo credit: spoilertv.com

I know some fans find this ridiculous considering that Scully is 54 and barren. But people are looking at this the wrong way. It has never been a normal pregnancy for Scully even when she was pregnant with William. She was previously abducted and experimented on by the Syndicate. Thus, her reproductive system must have been altered to make this second pregnancy possible.

What I don’t like in this scene was the badly written dialogue. Scully seemed to have dismissed William easily after he was shot by CSM and fell into the water. But what I think she meant when she said that William was only a lab experiment and that she was not a mother to him was that she was trying to explain to Mulder what Skinner told her in the car. She was still reeling from the news that Skinner told her and barely had time to process it.

She was trying to explain to Mulder that she was not a mother to William in the truest sense because she gave him up for adoption. She gave birth to him but she wasn’t able to nurture him. The words just came out wrong. Blame it on how Chris Carter wrote this.

Photo credit: seat42f.com

You could see from the expression on Scully’s face in the end that she was still struggling to accept that fact. What Skinner told her was a lot to process. She was also struggling to let go of William as he asked them to. And she knew deep in her heart that William is alive because she saw visions of the scene in the dock before it happened. This was after she’s done talking with Tad about the pandemic. But I would have preferred that she insisted on finding him still even though he doesn’t want them to.

I know the feedback from fans about the season finale is divisive. And I agree with most fans that the finale was a disaster. The mytharc has been ruined forever by the show’s creator. I may be an MSR shipper and while I’m happy that Mulder and Scully will have their own baby and be together, I don’t watch the show solely to ship them. The mytharc stories still matter to me.

When I look back at the early seasons of The X-Files, there have been many great mytharc episodes written by Chris Carter. I first got hooked on the show after watching “Duane Barry” – a mytharc episode written and directed by Carter himself. He also wrote some of my favorite episodes of the show – “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” “Paper Clip” and “Anasazi.” What happened to him now? He has lost his touch on the mytharc.

The mytharc could have been saved if Carter just handed over the reins to the show’s veteran writers like Glen Morgan and James Wong. Both writers have a track record of writing compelling mytharc episodes. And if Frank Spotnitz was available for season 11, I would have liked for him to have written some of the episodes. But Carter is very possessive of his creation and doesn’t seem to want to let the other writers handle the mytharc in the revival.

The X-Files_11x10

Photo credit: vulture.com

Only time will tell if Fox decides to renew the show for season 12 even without Gillian on board. But if that happens, I won’t be watching it anymore. For me, the show has always been about Mulder and Scully and no one else. It’s a shame that Gillian’s last appearance on the show was tainted with this bad season finale. Season 11 should have ended with a bang and possibly on a positive note.  Now it just left most fans with a bad taste in their mouth.

If The X-Files continues to do season 12, it would further ruin the franchise because we all know Carter would want to write the mytharc episodes himself again. I think if there’s any slight chance to save this revival, it would be for the show to make a third and final movie. But Chris Carter has to step away from it and let the show’s veteran writers write the script.

 

Age is Just a Number: The X-Files S11x9 “Nothing Lasts Forever” Review

March 16, 2018 at 9:46 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!

 

We’ve all seen it one way or another. An aging actress takes matter into her own hands and subjects herself to surgical procedures just to look younger.

This is the premise of episode 9 of The X-Files season 11 titled “Nothing Lasts Forever.” It tells the story of a ‘60s movie and TV actress named Barbara Beaumont who wants to stay young and beautiful – at all costs.

In this X-File case of the week, Mulder and Scully investigate a murder in the hospital involving surgeons illegally harvesting human organs. Apparently, someone knows about the doctors’ illegal activity and they are ambushed during a procedure. Mulder thinks it’s an X-File but Scully thinks it’s just a regular case of organized crime.

It turns out that human organs are being stolen from the hospital by a cannibalistic cult led by Barbara and her scientist husband Dr. Luvenis.  The cult eats human organs that help them become beautiful and live forever. Barbara and her husband are actually both 85 years old but they look like they’re still in their 30s.

But who’s the vigilante who killed the doctor at the hospital? It’s a young devoted Catholic woman named Juliet whose sister Olivia is a member of the cult. Juliet is trying to save her sister and atoning for her sins by killing those who are involved in the illegal harvesting.

While investigating the case, Scully also reflects on her faith. She’s a practicing Catholic and spends most of her time in this episode inside a church. There’s a lot of whispering in these church scenes between Mulder and Scully that it gets so frustrating because I could barely hear what they’re saying.

Somehow I feel that Scully’s reflections in the church are rather out of place from the rest of the story. I don’t understand what Scully’s story about her brother has to do with the case. And the case itself is banal, despite the blood and gore in the episode. However, Fiona Vroom’s portrayal of Barbara is quite memorable that I don’t think I can ever listen to the song “The Morning After” without remembering that gross and gory scene.

Photo credit: denofgeek.com

The only thing that resonates for me about the episode is the final scene between Scully and Mulder. This is the only part in the final church scene that I understand at least:

Mulder: Well, I may not believe in God but I believe in you. Therefore, I speak to him through you. Through the  transitive property of equality. If “A” equals “B,” and “B” equals “C,” therefore, “A” equals “C.” Reason and faith in harmony. Isn’t that why we’re so good together?

Scully: Are we together?  You know, I believed I could protect our son, and I failed. I believed that we could live together, and I fled. I gave up on that, too.

Mulder: If only you’d fled earlier. You know how many times I’ve envisioned that scenario, where you left that basement office before I even needed glasses? You’d have your health, your dog, your sister. You’d be Kersh’s boss at the FBI, and be married to some brain surgeon and have a bunch of kids that you wouldn’t have to give up.

Scully: Mulder, I don’t begrudge you any of those things. That’s not what I was talking about.

Mulder: Well, what are you talking about, Scully? Because I don’t know if any God is listening but I am standing right here, and I am listening. Right beside you. I’m all ears. That’s my choice.

And then the scene shows Scully leaning over to Mulder and whispering something in his ear. Viewers of the episode are not privy to what Scully whispered to Mulder. The internet was abuzz after the episode aired because the final scene could have explained the status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. When Scully asks Mulder if they are together, Mulder doesn’t answer.

Photo credit: tvtime.com

Are they getting back together or will they stay apart? The scene is further fueled by what Scully says after the whisper:

“That’s not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle. That’s my leap of faith forward. And I’d like to do it together.”

To which Mulder answers:

“I’ve always wondered how this was going to end.”

Considering that this is the penultimate episode, I also wonder how the season will end.

 

Side Notes

  • So it was Scully who broke up with Mulder after all. I’m guessing she wanted to break away from the darkness and Mulder “chasing monsters in the dark” like what she said in the I Want to Believe That’s why she fled.
  • My guess on what Scully whispered to Mulder would be something like finding their son William and creating a cure for the Spartan virus to save humanity. To me, that would be Scully’s way of saying they should get back together. But there are theories circling on social media that what Scully whispered could be that she’s pregnant with Mulder’s child (they slept together in “Plus One” episode, remember?) and that she wants to keep the baby and raise it with him. This is also plausible in my opinion.
  • I miss the deadpan banter between Mulder and Scully. That’s why it’s so good to see that again in this episode in the scene where Scully asked Mulder about his “bifocals” (or “progressive lenses” as how Mulder puts it).
  • Mulder only noticing Scully’s new haircut after three episodes in with her sporting that hair was hilarious! By the way, I still prefer Scully’s long hair in earlier episodes. It looked natural on Gillian Anderson. The new short hair makes it look obvious that Gillian is wearing a wig.
  • Both Mulder and Scully used to wear glasses in earlier seasons of the show, although we only saw them on rare occasions. In fact, the pilot episode of The X-Files showed Mulder wearing glasses. So Mulder saying Scully leaving the basement office before he needed glasses was an oversight by the show.

 

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