Work experience days 1-2

April 21, 2010

After reading several of my CJS colleagues’ experiences on their work placements I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and relay whats happened to me at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton in the last couple of days.

After a short settling in period and being introduced to some of the reporters, I was thrown head first into the action. The Echo newsroom, like several others I imagine, was manic due to the volcanic ash crisis.

Unlike some of the other news rooms I have visited in the past, the echo’s is gigantic and very impressive. There are HD tv’s everywhere, a well-stocked cafeteria and some gym facilities that I will endeavour to check out by the end of my two weeks.

But unfortunately, there was no news ed, as he was stranded in Egypt due to that bloody volcano. Two different people have filled in over the past couple of days and what could have been a problematic situation has turned out absolutely fine.

On my first day I was asked to find people who were stranded or otherwise affected by the ash crisis straight away. I managed to get a hold of someone in Florida and then talk to someone who had taken planes, trains and automobiles to get back from Dubai, as well as tentatively make contacts in the air freight industry to look at their problems.

But then after about an hour in the newsroom I was whisked away to Portsmouth Ferry port to interview people arriving from their own odyssey’s home from various distances. Although this was a great opportunity for me, I was slightly disappointed I was unable to follow-up on the leads I had found, but I learned that you always have to go where the story is.

After the ferry from Caen came in I spoke to a man who had endured a 42 hour coach trip from Dubai to Paris and also interviewed the father of a 19-year-old who had been charged almost twice the amount he paid for his holiday to get home.

But journalism is a fickle mistress, and when the ferry from Bilbao came in at 4.30pm I failed to convince any of the weary travellers to talk to me, which thankfully was not costly due to the success of the reporters I was working with.

My reward for my seven hour stint in Portsmouth was a joint byline with the reporters, which I was pleased with. But I still feel I could and should have contributed more with the second ferry and I hope to get a similar chance again soon.

After the hecticness of Monday, Tuesday reminded me of the grass-roots side of journalism as I was sent with two other work experience students to conduct vox pops for our electoral focus spreads. Together we cornered people in Romsey, Fareham and Gosport where despite getting brushed off more times than I can count, we were successful at getting six people from each place to give us their views on the upcoming election.

Today I am working on a couple of stories while I have been told I will be going to the airport this afternoon to cover the ash crisis from another perspective. I hope it will be another productive day.

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Destiny Found

April 12, 2010

Welcome back to a regular edition of Curtinho’s blog on the finest US tv has to offer. This week will be focusing on Lost, Chuck and Flashforward!

So where else to start than the behemoth that is Lost. With episode 11 of the final season last week, we now have only 7 hours of Lost remaining! What a cruel day in May it will be when it all ends, but hopefully the show can pull off a spectacular finale. And if last weeks ep is anything to go by, we should be expecting something very good indeed.

Happily Ever After was one of the best Lost episodes I have ever seen. And by no coincidence whatsoever, it was Desmond centric. Desmond is probably my favourite character on the show, and I have yet to see a bad episode that he is featured in, but generally he brings out the best, such as The Constant, which featured at no.3 in my Best moments of the first five series in last weeks blog (And here it is again. Any excuse…).

We saw Desmond this week in the Alternate universe, with everything he ever wanted. A well paid job which enables him to travel the world, the respect of his superiors, peers and underlings, and the approval of Charles Widmore. But Desmond knows there is something missing. And all it took was a British rock star to show him the way. Thats right, Charlie was back!

Desmond was assigned a job by Widmore to bring Charlie to his sons musical event. However, Charlie, as any drugged up rock star would, refused to go. He claimed to have seen true love in the shape of a blonde woman when he almost died on the plane. And he decided to show Desmond what he meant by forcing the car they were travelling in to crash into a river.

Desmond and Charlie have quite the history

This showed Desmond glimpses of the other world, including Charlies tragic death (also in last weeks Lost best moments, am I psychic?). With these new-found visions, Desmond sets out to find his long lost love from the real timeline, Penny. With a bit of help from the welcome return of Daniel ‘Widmore’ Faraday, and despite the obstacle of Eloise ‘Widmore’ Hawking, who still knows everything about the timelines, Desmond succeeds. He meets Penny at the very stadium he told her he could not be with her in the real timeline, a very nice reference. But this time he asks her out on a date, before making plans to show the other passengers of 815 the real timeline. He is a man on a mission.

And it affected his on island self too. Back in the normal reality, Desmond awakes to find Widmore has kidnapped him and taken him back to the island. But his initial anger fades after his alternate experiences, and although he is taken away by soulless Sayid, Desmond appears willing to do what he can to save the world. Ironic for a man who spent three years doing just that reluctantly.

This episode was fantastic, and it changed the direction of the season completely. Now there is a clear link between realities, and of course it had to be Desmond who would bring them together. Henry Ian Cusick is just a great actor, and his chemistry with Sonya Walger’s Penny is the best on tv anywhere. Where they go from here will be very interesting, but it seems Desmond has become the alternate realities Locke, searching out the Losties to show them ‘the truth’. Godspeed Desmond! 9.5/10

Desmond and Penny's famous photo

Chucks mid-season finale was also a great episode this week, and very significant. Not only did Chuck tell Sarah he loved her, but he also saved her life and killed an enemy for the first time. Long time fans will know about Chucks aversion to guns, but he was forced to shoot Brandon Routh’s Agent Shaw to save Sarah from certain death. Shaw had gone rogue and joined the Ring after learning that Sarah had unknowingly killed his wife on a CIA mission five years before. And Chuck and Sarah ended the episode by finally getting their relationship together. And it’s about time!

The episode was testament to why Chuck is great television. Not only did it feature exciting action scenes and nice twists, but also great comic relief. Joshua Gomez’s Morgan completely stole his scenes with great aplomb as he campaigned hard to be brought into the spy game, finally succeeding after helping Chuck save the day. He was joined by everyone’s favourite gruff-but-lovable agent Casey, who was reinstated after capturing the director of the Ring. With the gang all back together the only problem is the three-week wait before the resumption of the series. Grrrr. 9/10

Zach Levi's Chuck finally got his heroic moment

Finally, to Flashforward. This show divides me. On the one hand, it can be pretty bland and drag on for part of its 40 minute time. Dont get me wrong, the story is still entertaining, but it gets a bit bogged down sometimes and focuses too much on the smaller issues. But then every time it hooks me back in with a crazy killer twist at the end of the episode. Last week it was a message for Dimitri that was recorded in 1991, and this week it was revealed that an agent we all thought was 100% loyal and dedicated to the team has always been a double agent, despite all the emotional scenes she has been involved in with her pregnancy and other outside-CIA matters.Whatever will they do next. Decent episode though, built on the previous twists well and revealed a little more of what is to come. 7/10

Finally, the final two moments in the Lost countdown. In second place, the last-minute twist that fooled everyone. I am talking about the stunning ending to the third season finale, Through the Looking Glass. The Jack moments we all assumed to be flashbacks were revealed to actually be Flash forwards, when he met Kate in a car park. This was the moment we realised that Jack and Kate had gotten off the island!

And finally, and aptly during a Desmond centric week, we have my no.1 Lost moment of the first five seasons. From the second season finale and first Desmond centric episode, Live Together, Die Alone, the moment that Desmond realises he crashed the plane that brought the Losties, and averts a catastrophic disaster all thanks to the inspiration of a love letter he found from his beloved Penny.

Until next week, “I’ll see you in another life brother”.

Lost in the Post

April 4, 2010

Ok. So this blog thing hit a bit of a bump along the road of Cardiff School of Journalism’s busy second term. It turns out its pretty hard to keep up with shows let alone write about them, but I have 5 weeks off now and then exams ahead of me, which means I should have the chance to set it right. And this is attempt no.1.

So let’s get down to it. This post will focus solely on LOST and how the new season has gone so far. I have been having weekly discussions with my associate Mr M.T. and we both agree that it has been a good season so far. Perhaps it is not moving at the same speed as last season, but when there are a lot of questions to answer, you can forgive the producers for slowing down and making sure the attention to detail is spot on.

So now we have had 10 episodes of the final season. And here is what has happened so far condensed into somewhat easy-to-understand sections.

So we left off in season 5 with Juliet hitting the nuclear bomb 8 times to detonate it in 1977. It was hoped this would counteract the electro-magnetic pocket of energy on the island, rendering it inert and therefore preventing flight 815 from crashing in 2004.

And it did. Sort of. Season 6 opened in similar style to season 1, with focus on the plane ride. But this time it didn’t crash! Wowza! And that wasnt the only difference. There was Boone, but no Shannon. Hurley was far more positive. There was no sign of Michael or Walt. And perhaps most importantly, Desmond was on the plane! Oh yeah, and the ISLAND WAS IN RUINS UNDERWATER!!!!

But while this was all being shown to us, we saw the 1977 Losties transported back into the island in the present day. Jacob had just been killed by Ben. And Juliet died tragically in Sawyer’s arms. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Hurley and Jin were all soon captured by the Others and taken to the mysterious Temple, under the leadership of the equally mysterious Dogen.

Meanwhile the Man in Black, impersonating John Locke, was revealed to be the Black Smoke Monster. Now his rival Jacob is dead, he is seeking to leave the island. But to do that he needs the 6 remaining candidates to replace Jacob to leave with him, or so he says. These are Hurley, Sawyer, Jack, Jin or Sun and Sayid. Interestingly enough they are all numbered on the candidate list. And they just so happen to correspond to some numbers we have seen throughout the series…

Terry O'Quinn is the Man in Black in John Locke's form.

So far the MIB has ‘recruited’ Sawyer, Jin and Sayid to his fold, along with several of the others, after attacking and killing the residents of the temple. Jack and Hurley escaped and are currently on the beach with Sun. They are joined by Jacob’s assistants Richard Alpert and Illana, and the enigmatic Benjamin Linus. The two sides have recently been extended to three, after Charles Widmore managed to return to the island, setting up a stronghold on the Hydra island. Not only has he kidnapped Jin, but he has also brought Desmond back to the island (!!!) in an effort to prevent the MIB from succeeding in his plan to leave the island.

The line between good and evil has never been more blurred, and which side is which is still impossible to tell. The MIB claims not to want to hurt anyone, but freely kills if he needs to. Jacob is still appearing from beyond the grave to the Clairvoyant Hurley, but is as hard to fathom as ever, and his frequent interferences in the Losties lives have led to much pain and suffering.

The Flash-sideways world as it is known as has shown a vastly different reality for our friends without the island. Jin and Sun arent married, Sawyer is a policeman rather than a criminal and Jack has a son.

Evangeline Lilly's Kate remains a fugitive in the Alternate timeline.

Some have criticised this season as not living up to expectations, but i will strive to support it. The flash-sideways universe is very interesting and has thrown up some wonderful twists such as Sawyer and Miles as cops, and the Jack episode was wonderful. How anyone can criticise this season after the Richard Alpert episode is beyond me as well. It was one of the best hours of television I have ever seen, combining a touching back story with some exciting reveals about the islands mythology, namely that the island serves as a cork to keep the MIB’s evil ‘bottled up’ so to speak.

Henry Ian Cusack plays the one-and-only Desmond

With a Desmond episode up next we can only expect better things, (you may have guessed I am a bit of a Desmond fan) and with only eight hours of Lost to go, the answers are coming thick and fast.

Now when I left off last time I had reached number five in my top 10 Lost scene countdown. Today I will give you four and three.

At number four we have a tragic moment from the Series 3 finale. Desmond had foreseen Charlie’s death for almost half the season but had always been able to intervene. He then saw Charlie drowning after pushing a mysterious underwater button that allowed a rescue boat to come to the island. And so this time Charlie had to die, sacrificing himself to save the others. A powerful and poignant scene, but not without a twist….

And at three in the countdown, possibly the most romantic and heart warming scene in Lost history. After Desmond finds his mind switching between 1996 and 2004, he is in need of a constant factor present in both timelines to anchor himself in the present. And who else would that constant be than his long lost love Penny, whom he hasn’t seen in 3 years. It is almost enough to bring a tear to your eye.

Well I hope you enjoyed the return of my blog. I will endeavor to get back on track with regular shows in midweek. Until then, adios.

Behind the Times

January 28, 2010

Yeah so I’ve been woefully slow this past week and a half with my blog, with lots of work on my plate, for which I apologise. But now I am back, and with a nice update for you all.

How I Met Your Mother had a pretty recognisable guest star last week in Amanda Peet, who played a new employee at Marshall’s work. Peet’s character was a potential spanner in the works of the Marshall-Lilly marriage, kissing Marshall while they were alone at work. Marshall’s instant confession to Lilly led to him not being believed, but the truth eventually came to light leading to a really sloppy girl fight. And girl fights should NEVER be sloppy. An average episode really, Barney was underused, but i guess he can’t carry the show, while Ted and Robin were stuck in a mildly amusing but not great sub-plot about a college drinking game. But we’ve seen it all before. 6/10

Bang Theory was good though, mainly because it devoted the entire 20 mins to Sheldon’s neurosis. After their flat was burgled, Sheldon went a bit manic in the security department, even electrocuting himself with a net trap, before deciding to leave for pastures green. Again, the ending was a little cliché, but it was the far funnier of the CBS line up, and THE MAN DESERVES AN EMMY! 8/10

The Office went and did a clip show, so it’s not even worth mentioning. Evil, evil things.

Modern Family continues to impress week in week out. Ed O’Neill is seriously good as the miser with a heart of gold patriarch, and watching him come out of his comfort zone when suspecting one of his buddies to be gay was hilarious. But not as good as Eric Stonestreet‘s Cameron. Pure brilliance. Everything this guy does is camped up to just the right level. If you havent watched this yet, do it, it’s the funniest comedy on tv right now.

Double Chuck scoop now, featuring some pretty cool guest stars. Brandon ‘Superman’ Routh turned up as new head of operations Daniel Shaw. He brings something new to the show, a little bit more of a human edge to the boss role. Plus the hints at the tragedies in his life (wedding rings, sad glances when accused of never caring about anyone etc) promise some substantial character development. The actual storyline focused firstly on Chuck trying to save Captain Awesome from The Ring, who have mistaken him for a superspy. Then Chuck was sent on his first solo mission to Paris, where he had to deal with Ring agent Stone Cold Steve Austin, while setting up a new romantic link with Hannah, played by ex Smallville alumni Kristin Kreuk. Very very hot. Zach Levi still slays me every time. Meanwhile Josh Gomez‘s sub-plot in the Buymore as the new assistant manager trying to control ‘Jeffster’ is comedy gold. A combined 8/10 for some funny stuff that just hints at getting a little emotional soon. Just stop with the same last scene every episode! AAARGH

House and Castle reviews will follow at the weekend, but for now let us turn our focus to the LOST Top 10 Moments. At No.6  we have a brilliant bit of Ben. In a tight contest between two of his interactions John Locke, i plumped for the one which i feel was slightly more shocking. Here we have Season 3’s ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’, where Ben leads Locke out to the jungle and promptly does something that no one saw coming. Awesome.

But now we enter the top 5, and this is where we get to the real deal of quality television. And at no.5 we are not disappointed. One of my favourite elements of a character is self-sacrifice, and here Sawyer shows that he is all about being a hero really.

Thats your lot for now, but check back on the weekend for more reviews, previews and LOST moment views!

Modern Medicine

January 17, 2010

Hello everyone. I would like to be serious for a moment. I have a confession to make. I was wrong. The Office does not start again until next week. This is unforgivable as a TV blogger I know, and I will be having stern words with myself. I am sorry to all those who were waiting patiently for “Office Gossip” and I ask you to be a little more patient.

But to more positive matters. Modern Family was still on. The funniest show of the year so far continued with another solid episode. This week saw nice but dim dad Phil put the blame on his son when a pornographic photo is found on the PC, which led to some very amusing father-son talks. It was quite hard to tell who was the 10 yr old at times.

The funniest new show on TV

Elsewhere patriarch Jay struggles to let go of his giant stuffed dog-butler doll (yeah I felt weird typing that) but forces himself to please his wife. Finally the stand out characters, gay couple Mitchell and Cameron, endured hosting a Mexican wedding in a situation that got more absurd (but funny) by the minute. While this episode did not hit the heights of a few weeks ago, it was fun and very enjoyable. Cameron is a work of the highest calibre writing and continues to slay me every time. And like all my favourite shows, it knows how to pull off a comedy song… 7/10

Now to the floundering Scrubs. It’s so bad. Not even the brief return of Zach Braff could breath life back into this weeks episode. The storylines seem dated and tired, and if i have to endure another “Lucy doubts her ability as a doctor” episode i might just lose the will. But she did, and she eventually pulled through. I know it’s not a particularly linear show but where does her confidence go I wonder… Elsewhere JD and Elliott squabbled about the impending birth of their child and Dr Cox struggled over whether or not to sign a will. In the end it all worked out happily. You could use just those last couple of sentences for the episode and it would be more entertaining and well worth the time saved. It looks like Scrubs will end soon, and it’s probably a very good thing. 4/10

Young JD - A reminder of the funnier times

Castle on the other hand had a bit of a revitalising week. The murder of a bridesmaid at the wedding of one of Castle’s old flames put the fire back into the show. Although the mystery was wrapped up fairly simply in the end (it felt a little bit too quick and simple after some filer leads in all honesty) the dynamic between the lead characters was back to its best, and the opening skit was very funny. This episode might be the shot in the arm the series needed as its been flagging somewhat recently, and i liked the more realistic approach. Also, i might not have mentioned this before, but the supporting characters in this show are some of the best around. If they were consistently given good storylines by the writers then this show would be in no danger at all. However, it’s looking a little nervy atm as to whether it will get another season. A Few more episodes like this and there should be no problem. 8/10

Still the King - Nathan Fillion

While waiting for various shows to start I’ve also been checking out a couple of others. This week I watched the office set sitcom Better Off Ted and the latest Courtney Cox vehicle, Cougartown. Although Cougartown was a little surreal, it had some good moments. But i was very impressed with Better Off Ted, which I will endeavour to go back and watch from the start. Either way, watch this space for some updates on those shows when and where I can.

Finally, no. 7 in the greatest LOST moments, and this week it’s a little bit of Deja Vu. Once again we have a Sawyer and Jack moment, but no fighting this time. In fact, this moment is from the first season finale, a time when relations between the two characters were arguably at their most strained. But tensions were instantly thawed by Sawyer’s actions here, as he reveals to Jack some secrets that he learned from an encounter with an old man in a Sydney Bar. It also marks the start of Sawyer’s path towards redemption, one of my favourite themes. Enjoy the vid! See thee later.

Back to Basics

January 14, 2010

Welcome back TV fans, finally we have shows again!!!! And let’s get right into it with the 100th Episode of How I Met Your Mother. The episode gave us little hints as to who the elusive mother actually is as Ted goes out on a date with her roommate (played by Rachel Bilson of OC fame) and subsequently finds that his future wife has a lot in common with him despite not meeting her. Elsewhere Barnabus Stinson is struggling as he contemplates giving up his suits to score a night with a very hot bargirl. In the end he has his cake and eats it as only Barney can, after a brief musical interlude…

The episode was by no means a classic but the musical number was fantastic. The characters felt a bit subdued however, probably because of the focus on giving away clues about the mother. It was still enjoyable, but I’m hoping for a better showing next time around. 6.5/10

It’s CBS sibling The Big Bang Theory also disappointed somewhat. In an “episode of two halves” we had Leonard and Howard double dating in what could be described as the most boring and pointless phase of the Leonard-Penny relationship yet. On the other (plus) side Sheldon agreed to be Raj’s wingman with outstanding results. If Jim Parsons does not win an Emmy this year it will be a bigger scandal than Watergate. He is so convincingly socially stunted, and his Green Lantern Lantern and Hulk hands antics were a joy to behold. But the highlight was during the ending credits when a girl very much suited to him offers herself on a plate to which he obliviously disregards. Fantastic. 7/10

The Cast of TBBT

Where to next but the big return of Chuck. And what a return it was. Chuck, now with the upgraded Intersect computer in his brain, kicked a lot of ass with kung fu and is finally on his way to becoming a super spy. In a “3 episodes in 2 days bonanza” his antics included foiling a drug deal, taking down an arms dealer (played by a quite hilarious Vinnie Jones) and preventing the assasination of a fictional South American dictator. All that and he still works at the BuyMore Superstore.

Vinnie Jones, arms dealer!

If there was a draw back it was that the show runners are still dragging out the Chuck-Sarah relationship. While teasing us with the revelation of Sarah’s true feelings, they then took us right back to square one when Chuck started putting his patriotism above his feelings for once. Unfortunately he spent the majority of the three episodes trying to make up for this leading to a formulaic Chuck-Sarah stunted conversation at the end of every episode. Just make it happen already! Or shake it up a bit (Kristin Kreuk as a love interest for Chuck cannot come in soon enough). Still, a very good showing on average, with a couple of brilliant references including everyone’s favourite Rocky 3 ending pastiched by Chuck and Casey. 8/10

Finally, House returned with a touching episode featuring an undercover cop who collapses during a drug deal due to loud noise. It causes the team all kinds of problems as the man’s condition worsens but they are unable to fully investigate without blowing his cover, and can’t get anything out of his “real bad guy” associates on where he has been and what he’s been doing. The episode ends tragically despite the cop successfully pulling off a bust and bringing the dealers to justice.

House and Wilson - Just not meant to be...

On a much lighter note, this episode was backed up with some great comedy as House’s staff try to convince Foreman that he earns less money than them, only for him to reveal at the end of the episode that he was playing them the entire time. But more importantly, House and Wilson compete for an attractive new neighbour. Wilson tries the old-fashioned approach, but finds that she believes that House and Wilson are gay, to which Wilson strongly refutes. So House being House plays the “dejected lover” card and almost gets sympathy sex. He is only stopped by Wilson sinking to his level and proposing marriage to House while he is having dinner with the lovely lady. Comedy gold. A great episode with just the right balance between drama, humour and tragedy. A solid 9/10

Well that is that for the first half of this weeks review, but check back on the weekend when The Office, Castle, Scrubs and Modern Family will all be put through their paces after their return from a winter break. Adios

P.S. You didn’t think I’d forgotten the LOST countdown did you? Here at no. 8 of Curtinho’s top 10 LOST moments we have what was the first big mind f**k that LOST sent our way…the revelation that John Locke was in a wheelchair before the plane crashed. Enjoy.

Chucks Away!

January 10, 2010

Right, I’ve done the LOST preview, so it’s time for another returning show to get the Curtinho treatment. And this time its returning much more soon. Tonight in fact! It’s CHUCK! The greatest geeky action/comedy/romance/drama on television right now, and after a long hard battle it’s been recognised and returned to NBC’s line up, with an increased number of episodes to boot.

Chuck has been running for two seasons now, but looked in danger last season when ratings began to drop. Luckily, a strong end to the season creatively, and a partnership with sandwich chain Subway, convinced the NBC execs (who i might remind you seem to think its a good idea to keep renewing Heroes, so that shows how much sense they actually have) that Chuck deserved a third season, although they only ordered half the usual amount of episodes. However, a poor showing from their new shows this season and Heroes further rapid decline into awfulness led to Chuck going from 13 episodes to 19. WOOP

So what is Chuck about? It’s about a bit of a nerd named Chuck Bartowski who’s stuck in a dead-end job in the tech division of a PC World type shop. He is very intelligent, but was thrown out of the prestigious Stanford College after he was framed for cheating by his best friend, Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer). A few years later he received an email from Bryce, now in the CIA, that downloaded the entire US Government’s secrets into his brain. This was part of the Government’s plan to gather all CIA data into one computer, called ‘the Intersect’ and put it in agents heads. Now they lie dormant in Chuck’s head until he sees something that triggers a ‘flash’ and he recalls something out of the vast database.

Thus Chuck became the Governments top asset, and so needed protection. He gets this from gruff NSA Colonel John Casey and sexy CIA Agent Sarah Walker. While they are assigned to protect him, they usually end up fighting and capturing various international felons as Chuck flashes on bad guys week in, week out.

Left to Right: Joshua Gomez, Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski

On a more personal level, Chuck is a likeable and trustworthy guy, surrounded by a core group of friends. These include his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her husband ‘Captain Awesome’ (Ryan McPartlin), his best friend Morgan, and fellow employees Jeff and Lester aka ‘Jester’! (Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay)

Chuck spent the majority of the first two seasons looking for a way to get the Intersect out of his head, while struggling with his feelings for Sarah, his ‘cover girlfriend’. While both were obviously attracted to each other, they could not persue a relationship because of the situation, unless Chuck had the Intersect removed. Meanwhile, a secret underground organisation called ‘Fulcrum‘ was trying to find track and use the Intersect for their own diabolical plans. Chuck eventually killed two birds with one stone with a little help from his estranged father. Not only was the Intersect removed in the second series finale, but he also blew up Fulcrum’s base.

Adam Baldwin aka Col John Casey

However, things are never that easy. One of Fulcrum’s bosses staged a revenge attack on Ellie’s wedding, triggering a chain of events that culminated in Bryce Larkin’s death, the revelation that Fulcrum was part of a wider organisation called ‘The Ring‘, and Chuck having an updated Intersect in his brain. But this time, it’s not just information in there, but skills such as Kung Fu as well. Now he can be a real spy!

Main Characters:

Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) – Lovable Geek who has suffered throughout his life after being abandoned by his parents and unjustly thrown out of school. He is very protective of his friends and family, and although clumsy and foolish at times, he is brave in the face of danger and often proves vital to the success of a mission.

Agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) – Very clever, very brave and very sexy. She has a murky past, as the daughter of a con artist, and joined the CIA to stay out of prison. Clearly has feelings for Chuck but always in two minds because of her professionalism.

Col. John Casey (Adam Baldwin) – Tough NSA agent. Typical no-nonsense soldier and very patriotic. Although he often shows frustration towards Chuck for his clumsiness, he is very protective of him. Also his dry wit is comic genius.

Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez) – Chuck’s best friend and colleague. The nervous geek who looks up to Chuck for his greater social skills. Morgan is very awkward yet very funny. He is oblivious to the Intersect and as such often gets in the way of Chuck’s missions. But he is another lovable loser who provides not only the comic relief but also the heart of the show.

Season Three is full of promise and features guest star appearances from stars such as Brandon ‘Superman Returns’ Routh and the very lovely Kristin ‘Smallville’ Kreuk as well as tough men Vinnie Jones and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Chuck’s new found skills might make it easier for him to deal with them, but whether they make a difference to his personal life is still very much up in the air.

Finally, No. 9 In the top 10 LOST moments countdown, and this one is a real beaut. From the first season finale, the soon to be doomed launching of the raft. I give you ‘Parting Words’.

Oscarfest 2010: ‘Nowhere Boy’

January 9, 2010

Welcome back all. Today see’s me start a special project that I’ve been thinking of doing for a couple of months. In a slight sidetrack from the world of Television, I will be embracing film once again, with my Oscarfest 2010 project. I will be going to review every film nominated for best picture, then previewing and predicting my oscar tips, before finally concluding with a review of the ceremony and reaction to the results.

And so i begin with Nowhere Boy. I was intrigued by this film because of my love for the band that, in my opinion, are the greatest of all time, The Beatles. For those who don’t get the title reference, Nowhere Boy focuses on an adolescent John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), and the women in his life, namely his aunt and mother.

Aaron Johnson

The film also touches on the makings of the Beatles, featuring Lennon’s attempts at starting a Rock and Roll/Skiffle band that leads him to meeting Paul McCartney and George Harrison, teaming up to become the Quarrymen. But this is only an entertaining sub-plot.

The real drama in this film derives from Lennon’s interactions with his mother figures. On the one side he has his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), with whom he lives. She is emotionally distant and very strict and even chides John for being silly after he cries and seeks comfort from her after learning of the death of his Uncle George, with whom he had a strong bond.

Kristin Scott Thomas

Then there is John’s mother, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff). The complete antithesis to Mimi, she is fun-loving, vivacious, care-free and shares her son’s musical leanings. Although estranged from John at the beginning of the film, their relationship is mended as they spend more time together, and she teaches John how to play the banjo and the guitar.

John goes back and forth between the two throughout the film. He resents his aunt for her rules and discipline, but distrusts his mother for ‘abandoning’ him as a boy, and never telling him she lived ‘just down the road.’ He also grows jealous over his mother’s flirtatious nature with his friends. Things come to a head with a quite superb domestic between the women, where the true reason’s John came to live with his aunt and not his mother are revealed. The fallout of this event is pleasantly surprising but it culminates in a poignant tragedy, sad but befitting to the film.

Anne-Marie Duff with husband James McAvoy

I had heard a fair amount of hype about Nowhere Boy before seeing it from sources ranging from Empire magazine, to the fashion and music orientated (check out their blogs, they are very good). This hype was fully justified. In terms of acting performance, the three leads have set a benchmark that will be very difficult to beat in 2010. Johnson is superb as Lennon. He brings out the arrogance and exuberance of his youth while keeping him emotionally grounded beyond his years.

And then we come to the women. If Thomas or Duff are not nominated for Best Supporting Actress it will be a crime against film. Either one of them would comfortably have walked into my nominations and one would have won it, after a lengthy decision process (sorry Zooey). Thomas is perfectly cast as the hard-boiled and emotionally reserved aunt. The gradual thawing of the icy character was done very well to her great credit, and by the end it’s not hard to believe that she always loved Lennon.

Duff on the other hand has a totally different character to contend with, but pulls it off with consummate ease. Duff brings just the right amount of emotional imbalance to Julia. Even when in manic mode, there is a feeling of unease emanating from Julia, hiding the problems within. Duff also brings an uncomfortable hint of sexual tension between Julia and John, but although slightly disturbing, is very effective and brings something extra to the film. It is a marker of excellence to both actresses that the only criticism my colleague Tom and i could find was that Duff looked a bit young for the role.

A very arty looking Thomas Sangster

The film is padded out with good performances from the supporting cast. Although Thomas Sangster doesn’t quite look McCartney enough for me (probably because i can’t shake the Love Actually image from my head), the boy can sing and Sangster and Johnson portray the complex beginnings of the Lennon-McCartney relationship very well. Likewise, David Morrissey is well cast as Julia’s resentful husband Bobby.

Finally, praise for the director Sam Taylor-Wood. For her first feature film she has achieved what so many are still trying to do. Making an emotionally engaging and constantly entertaining picture that surely must be recognised during awards season this year. Unfortunately, she has also given herself quite the job to do next time around, as expectations will be very very high indeed.

P.S. What blog involving John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison (And Ringo Starr obviously!) would be complete without this. Enjoy.

Just Because I’m Losing Doesnt Mean I’m LOST

January 5, 2010

Welcome back to the first blog of the year. And this one is a special edition. A certain show is coming back in less than a month, and I’m fairly sure you can tell which one it is from the title of this post. Thats right. LOST!

Lost has been the epitome of awesome for at least three of it’s five seasons (Two was good but not great and Three was awful). If you stuck with it through those murky middle days then you have been justly rewarded with some fantastic drama, mystery, romance and, in some cases, a bit of depression and frustration (Why did they kill Juliet? Why do they answer questions with more questions??)

And now it is back for its sixth and final season. And it’s promising a lot. As the final season, surely it will be full of answers to even the most insignificant of questions, as well as the biggies. This is the one that will go down in history, either as a spectacular finale or a disappointing dud.

To all those unfamiliar with the programme (Where have you been? Shame on you!) i will now attempt to recap each season through the medium of tweets (140 characters for each season)

Season 1: Plane Crash. Island. Smokey. Polar Bear. Jack. Locke. Flashbacks. Connections. Ethan! Others! Raft. Escape? BOOM WALT! Hatch? Dynamite! BOOM

Season 2: Hatch? Open! Button. Numbers. Desmond! Save the world. Tail Section. Reunite. Others again. Henry Gale. Trap. Dont Push Button! Implosion!

Season 3: Ben. Surgery. Tables turned. Escape! Juliet. Spy. Answers. Future. Flashes. Boat. Mission. Charlie. Sacrifice. Rescue? Off the Island!

Season 4: Lies. Split. Widmore. Constants. Faraday. Physics. Flash Forward. Oceanic 6. Michael! Soldiers. Boat. Bomb. BOOM! Helicopter. Escape! PENNY!

Season 5: Time Travel. Awesome! Dharma. Fakes. Suliet. Return. Rumbled. Incident. Death. Nuclear Bomb. Reset? Statue. Rival. Jacob! Ben. Death!

If you can follow all of that, well done to you.

The Characters of Lost

Now for a little more in-depth preview. A few brief main character profiles for you:

Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox): The de facto leader of the survivors.A doctor. Been through the mill. Was a man of science, but has converted to faith. We last saw him in 1977 dropping a bomb down the hatch shaft trying to reset time and stop the plane crashing n the future. Started well but is a bit one-dimensional and boring. Always seems to be moody and depressed. Hopefully he will be more exciting in the final season.

John Locke (Terry O’Quinn): The man of faith. Believes it is his destiny to be on the island. It restored the use of his legs. But he left the island after the oceanic 6 went, in an attempt to get them back, before being murdered by Ben. His body was returned to the island on flight 316, and he was resurrected. That is until Illana and her team revealed his dead body in their big box. Locke’s impersonator was last seen manipulating Ben into killing Jacob. Good twist, reinventing a very good but tiring character.

Ben Linus (Michael Emerson): As said above, he killed Jacob at the end of last season. The former leader of the others. Manipulative and deceitful and very very morally ambiguous. Does appear to care about some people, and refuses to harm children. Not necessarily evil, but certainly will do anything to get his way. Brilliant from the start of his tenure. Best villain on tv.

Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly): Lead female. Jack and Sawyer’s love interest for a while as part of ‘the triangle’, which was really interesting. For a while. Then got boring as Jack began to mope and Kate appeared more and more flakey. Murdered her father for beating her mother. Always on the run from the law until she is saddled with a baby. Grows up a lot. Last seen trying to save Juliet from being dragged into the electro-magnetic shaft. Very attractive but needs to make decisions this series or she will just become annoying.

James ‘Sawyer’ Ford (Josh Holloway): Con-man and also very morally ambiguous, but has a heart of gold deep within. Damaged from father killing mother and himself at a young age. Hunted and eventually found the con-man responsible for it, but became him in the process. Responsibility turned him into a strong leader. Loved Kate, then loved Juliet, agonisingly watched her die slipping from his hands down the shaft.

Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes (Jorge Garcia): The comic relief. Hilarious character, full of pop culture references. Millionaire who thinks he is crazy because the dead keep visiting him. The most morally driven character. Not a bad bone in his body. His closest friends have all died on the island. Peserverent. Last seen helping Jack drop the bomb down the hatch shaft.

Jacob (Mark Pelligrino): Very mysterious character. Has appeared at various points in the characters lives and physically touched some of them. The figurehead of the others hierarchy, though it appears none have ever seen him. Also appears to be the force of good on the island. Has a rival, the man in black, is very pessimistic about people, and engineered Jacobs death.

So there we have it. These characters will soon be returning to our screens for what promises to be one of the most exciting television seasons of all time. Will it deliver? Only time will tell. And in Lost, time is all relative.

To build it up just that little bit more, I will be doing an extra feature over the next month, my top 10 lost moments. And we kick it off with the moment from the season 5 finale that we had been waiting 5 years for. Jack and Sawyer finally coming to blows! See you on the flip side!

Review of the year – The final chapter!

December 31, 2009

So Here We Are. The end of the decade. And what better way to end it than with a series of blogs by CJS students. Sure, there’s Fi’s views on food (Fi-Fi-Food-Fum? what a name that would be), or Alex and his ‘popular music’. There’s even a spectacularly late effort on Team of the decade from Nick, no stranger to the late show. But wouldn’t you all rather be reading about the best US TV of 2009? Thought not, but here it is anyway!

Best Actor – Jim Parsons- Dr. Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons

A somewhat easy decision for me this one. Jeremy Davies was brilliant as ‘Daniel Faraday’ in LOST this year, but appeared in too few episodes to make it a fair contest. Hugh Laurie has been tearing up America for years as ‘Dr Gregory House’, and deserves recognition for it, but its time for a new winner. Likewise Steve Carrell and The Office. No, this year, Jim Parsons picks up the award for his consistently funny displays as ‘Sheldon Cooper’. Some may argue that Sheldon is a secondary character, but for me he is one of the three main characters in the show, and has equal billing with Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco. He plays the socially disconnected genius brilliantly, and gets my nod even if the Emmy’s wont give him an award.

Best Actress – Elizabeth Mitchell – Dr. Juliet Burke

Elizabeth Mitchell

Tough. Alyson Hannigan is very good as ‘Lily Aldrin’ on How I Met Your Mother, as is Kaley Cuoco on Big Bang Theory, but they are often outshone by their male costars a little too easily. Julie Bowen has been hilarious on Modern Family, but I’m going to go down the more dramatic route and give it to Elizabeth Mitchell for her turn as Juliet on LOST. She beat off strong competition from LOST co-star Sonya Walger in her new show as ‘Dr Olivia Benford’ in Flashforward, but Juliet was the best female character on LOST this season, and in my view, US TV. Simply a very talented actress in a great role.

Best Supporting Actor -Neil Patrick Harris/Michael Emerson – Barney Stinson/Ben Linus – How I Met Your Mother/LOST

Neil Patrick Harris

Michael Emerson

A tie. I could not choose between them as one is brilliantly funny and the other so chillingly disturbing. Although the field is packed with great supporting actors like Rainn Wilson and Ed Helms as ‘Dwight Schrute’ and ‘Andrew Bernard’ respectively in The Office, Joshua Gomez as ‘Morgan Grimes’ in Chuck, Jack Coleman as ‘Noah Bennet’, the only good thing about Heroes last season, and Robert Sean Leonard as ‘Dr James Wilson’ in House, but there are only two real choices. Neil Patrick Harris is comedy. Everything he did in 2009 was gold, including hosting the Emmy awards. ‘Barney Stinson’ is a masterpiece of a character, and Harris, the best supporting comedy actor around. But to highlight him as overall best supporting actor over Michael Emerson as ‘Ben Linus’ would be unjust. Emerson has convinced the world over the past few years that he is Ben Linus, a character so devious, manipulative, unfathomable and unpredictable. Simply put, he is fantastic, and he will have a hard time avoiding being typecast.

Best Supporting Actress – Lisa Edelstein – Dr Lisa Cuddy – House

Lisa Edelstein with co-star Hugh Laurie

Yvonne Strahovski runs her close as ‘Agent Sarah Walker’ in Chuck, as does Jenna Fischer as ‘Pam Beasley’ in The Office, and Stana Katic as ‘Kate Beckett’ in Castle. But Lisa Edelstein wins for her classy displays as House’s muse. She also brought some surprises to the table this season, albeit some as part of a hallucination. But this season saw Edelstein portray ‘Cuddy’ as a new mother, and it was really believable. Very good actress in a very good role.

Best Show – Chuck – NBC

Zach Levi, Josh Gomez and Yvonne Strahovski - the cast of Chuck

The big one folks. LOST was great this year, but it ended a little bit sloppily and wasnt as good as last year. House was also really good but again the ending was the problem, as it got a bit congealed and too complicated with too many hallucinations, it’s not Dallas you know! Castle had a great first season, but is running out of idea’s in its second, and Heroes should be cancelled immediately. But Chuck was the perfect Dramedy this year. Great storylines, a cast including the best neurotic lead actor around (Zachery Levi) and the hottest lead actress (Strahovski). Great cameos from the likes of John Larroquette, Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula, a great supporting cast. It also featured an episode based around the DELOREAN people!!! A hands down winner, and so glad its been picked up for an extended third season starting Jan 9th!

And Finally… The Top Five Moments of 2009

Number Five – LOST –  Season 5 Ep. 11 – ‘Whatever Happened, Happened’

A great scene from two of the funniest LOST characters trying to explain away the complicated time travel element of the show.

Number Four – House- Season 5 Ep. 20 – ‘Simple Explanation’

Very touching episode that features the death and funeral of ‘Dr Lawrence Kutner’ (Kal Penn), and the best use of pop music in a show ever

Number Three – LOST – Season 5 Ep.17 – ‘The Incident’

The climax of the season finale, featuring Juliet’s death that both completely shocked me, and genuinely made me feel sad.

Number Two – South Park – Season 13 Ep. 9 – ‘Butter’s Bottom Bitch’

A genius series of moments where the Chief of Police goes undercover as a prostitute to put a stop to South Park’s recent wave of night-time activity. Unfortunately there is no video available, but go watch the episode as it is well worth it!

Number One – LOST – Season 5 Ep. 17 – ‘The Incident’

This scene is no. 1 this year because not only does it reveal to us the mysterious ‘Jacob’ (Mark Pellegrino) for the first time along with his rival, but it has generated the most hype about the next season of any show i have seen before. And it was brilliant as an opening scene. Pure magic from LOST again.

Well thats your lot for this year, but please check back soon in 2010 for the resumption of my tv blog when America kicks itself back into gear and starts showing TV again!