Fringe Recap: Ep 3.2 "The Box"
Thursday, September 30, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

Hello, and welcome to another Fringe recap. This post contains spoilers for this week's episode, so consider yourself forewarned.

"What's in the box? What's in the boooooxxxxx!?" - Det. David Mills, Se7en

This week on Fringe, boxes feature heavily into the plot. There's the box tied to the main plot - an ugly thing that looks like a rejected prop from the Stargate series, which causes some pretty gruesome nose bleeds and brain explosions when opened. Then there's the safety deposit box that William Bell left Walter Bishop in his will. Both boxes have world altering properties - the former is one of the missing components to Walternate's Peter-powered universe destroyer, and the latter contains every single share of Massive Dynamics stock. In other words, Walter is now the sole owner of the company. I can't wait to see the look on Nina Sharp's face when she finds out.

Alt-livia has gotten together with Thomas Newton, who you may recall was the frozen head the mercury-powered hybrids were seeking out back in season 2. Newton removes Alt-livia's ugly neck tattoo with this really nifty laser gun (and boy if they had those over here, you can bet there'd be approximately 40% fewer tramp stamps out in the world). Alt-livia thanks him by getting all bossy and asserting her place as top dog on the Earth 1 mission. Newton doesn't look thrilled by the young whippersnapper usurping his authority, but for now he just equips her with a bunch of personnel files on the Earth 1 Fringe Team and a tome of pop culture. Fun Earth 2 fact: they have Patsy Cline but no Bono. This... does not upset me much.

They discuss the brain-exploding box seen being dug up by the gang of thugs in the cold open, and it's revealed that Newton was the one who hired them in the first place. Alt-livia is not pleased, as the box has gone missing. She berates Newton for a bit, before flouncing off to go mess with the Fringe team's heads some more.

Broyles and the team discuss the Peter-powered universe destroyer machine. Broyles wants to learn more about the machine, but Walter, clearly bothered by the destruction he witnessed in Earth 2, wants to just let sleeping dogs lie. Peter may not be back on very friendly terms with Walter yet, but he does voice his support for Walter's position, before heading off to a bar with Alt-livia in tow.

Alt-livia clearly didn't get the memo that Earth 1's Olivia Dunham is a no-fun wet blanket, because she smiles just a little too much and flirts just a little too aggressively with Peter. Peter seems to realize something is off, but hey... you can't really blame the guy for figuring that when your girlfriend suddenly likes normal things like listening to Patsy Cline songs and slow dancing, you shouldn't look that gift horse in the mouth (I do not approve of Alt-livia's methods, but I will agree with her that "Crazy" is a great song). Alt-livia uses her feminine wiles to plant a seed in Peter's subconscious that maybe he DOES just want to study the universe destroyer design diagrams some more. You know... for science and whatnot. This gross moment is thankfully interrupted as they are contacted by Broyles to go deal with the brain explosion situation at the house where the box was first seen.

The next day after investigating the crime scene, the team has split up. Peter and Walter are off to Massive Dynamics for the reading of William Bell's will, Alt-livia is off snooping around for clues at one of the thug's apartments, and Astrid is back in whatever box they store her in when she's not delivering lines of exposition. After a hilarious scene involving Walter bear hugging Nina Sharp, Peter finds out from Broyles that Alt-livia is in the field investigating without him and heads off to find out what's up. Meanwhile, the third thug from the cold open has spotted Alt-livia and apparently plans to follow her.

We jump back to the lab. While fondling the victims' brains with Astrid in the lab, Walter is suddenly struck by inspiration and realizes how the MacGuffin works. He goes on to demonstrates how harmonic music like Mozart's Marriage of Figaro calms brain waves, while other kinds of music make the brain waves go crazy. So, in short: the Miami Vice theme will make your head explode. This comes as no surprise to me. What does surprise me is that the writers stoop to using the phrase "Silent, but deadly," just so they can set up Walter for the easy fart joke. Boo, show. I know you're better than that.

Alt-livia is back in her apartment, studying up on Olivia's mannerisms and reviewing her personnel file. Apparently Alt-livia doesn't have a photographic memory like Olivia - I thought that that would be a genetic thing, but it's possible that Olivia's ability is tied into the Cortexiphan trials somehow. In any case, the third thug shows up toting the box, and Alt-livia promptly murders the poor deaf bastard.

She might be great at marksmanship, but Alt-livia is just the worst criminal mind ever. Why would you shoot someone in the head in your kitchen, when you've got a perfectly good tub in the other room where you could do your execution? Stupid and messy. Maybe I'm just spoiled by Dexter Morgan with his nice clean plastic sheets.

Minutes after getting blood everywhere in her kitchen (enjoying picking those brain particles out of your cereal bowl, you psycho), Alt-livia is interrupted by Peter's arrival. Again, instead of pretending she's not home, or making up some excuse to get rid of him, she just lets him into her apartment, even though she's just stashed the thug's body in her bathroom. Worse, she answers the door in a tank top and she's all wet, which... that is no way to get rid of a man quickly, hon. Alt-livia's next brilliant move is to sex up Peter on the couch - because that's a good way to make sure he doesn't want to leave at ALL that night. What exactly is Alt-livia's plan here? Just thrust her boobs in his face every time he starts to turn towards the bathroom, where blood is now seeping out from under the door?

Luckily for Alt-livia, Newton has been busy unleashing the box on some poor unsuspecting souls in a subway station downtown, so before it gets too far or Peter has to use the bathroom or whatever, their cell phones go off. She and Peter hustle off to go help. There's a bit of fake tension involving Peter defusing the sonic bomb in the box and a runaway train, but honestly... the show isn't about to kill off Joshua Jackson, so we're all pretty sure Alt-livia will save him at the last possible moment. She does and we find out at the end of the episode that this was all one long con set up by Walternate and Alt-livia to pique Peter's curiousity enough so that he ends up working on the universe destroyer machine after all. With Peter actively engaged, Walternate sends Alt-livia her next objective: some kind of similar mind game with the new owner of Massive Dynamics, Walter Bishop. Dun dun!

This week's episode was chock full of good stuff. We get some more fun nuggets about how Earth 2 differs from Earth 1. Astrid actually had a few quality moments - she's best on the show when she's serving as Walter's confidant, and this week she pushes him to explain his version of the Peter-napping story to his not-son. Perhaps Peter may yet forgive Walter for his actions in the past. Most interestingly, we now have Walter with the full force of Massive Dynamics technology and money at his disposal. Will Walter be tempted to cross the metaphorical line that William Bell wanted him to? Will Nina Sharp's relationship and support to the team change now that Walter is in charge? Will the Fringe team upgrade their lab? Most importantly, will Walter have the Massive Dynamics scientists busy genetically engineering cows that produce chocolate milk? These are all things that make me excited to see the next episode.

Summary: Your Bose headphones cannot protect you from the awesome sonic power of The Box.

Grade: A-
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NFL Week 3 Breakdown
Sunday, September 26, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Week 3! Let's get to it.

NFL schedule makers FTW. For a third week in a row, we were treated to some really exciting matchups. More importantly, they were significant matchups. Some of that is of course dumb luck - who would have guessed this preseason that in one particular week 3 game the Chiefs would be the one looking to take a huge lead in their division and stay undefeated while the San Francisco 49ers would be the ones desperate for their first win? Nevertheless, props to the schedule makers for games like Atlanta/New Orleans and Miami/New York, both of which were nail biters (with one going into OT) and both of which could have major divisional implications further down the line. Tonight's Green Bay/Chicago matchup will hopefully be a thriller as well.

Nice win, but.... So the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots may be 2-1 to start the season, but boy have they looked ugly doing it. New England's defense looks atrocious (who gives up 30 points to the Buffalo Bills?!). Cincinnati's struggles on offense are very troubling - something is clearly not right with Carson Palmer this season. Both teams look like they're doing just enough to beat teams they're supposed to walk over, and neither has shown any indication that they have what it takes to pull out the tough wins against more worthy opponents. Similarly, you can give the Vikings props for succeeding in a "must win" game for them, but honestly... it's still the Detroit Lions we're talking about, and the passing game continues to look incredibly suspect for the third week in a row. When you talk about a Vikings team that needs great defense and an awesome day from Peterson to overcome deficiencies in the passing game, it's like we're back in 2008 all over again (except now they're paying their QB 13.5 million a year to be merely adequate).

Personnel decisions. Let's talk about the Denver Broncos for a minute. After drafting college phenom Tim Tebow in the first round (despite indications that he would be a work in progress at best for several years), many people said that it would be the make-or-break decision that defined Josh McDaniels's tenure in Denver. However, I think that there are several other personnel decisions that warrant closer examination.

First let's look at their RB situation this week: starting RB Knowshon Moreno was out with a hamstring injury, and replacements Correll Buckhalter and the newly-acquired Lawrence Maroney combined for 16 rushing attempts, gaining only 32 paltry yards. Maroney failed to convert a 4th-and-goal from the one yard line. Meanwhile this week, Peyton Hillis, who they had unceremoniously shipped off to Cleveland despite the fact that he showed flashes of real ability in previous years, happily racked up 144 yards on 22 attempts, with 1 TD, against the fearsome Baltimore Ravens defense no less.

The one personnel decision I won't question was the decision to bring in Kyle Orton in the trade that shipped Jay Cutler off to Chicago. Orton is playing out of his mind right now, posting a career best 474 yards passing this week. However, the Broncos failed to score on five trips inside the 20 yard line. Perhaps having a few more talented weapons for Orton to use might have made the difference - say, perhaps... star WR Brandon Marshall, TE Tony Scheffler or, again, human bowling ball Peyton Hillis (again, watch the video of him literally running over Ravens defenders, and then tell me that 4th-and-goal from the one doesn't end differently for Denver with Hillis in the back field). Unfortunately, Denver got rid of all those guys. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow has been bumped to the 3rd string QB position, which speaks volumes about where his development is at this point. For every good personnel decision Denver makes (Orton, drafting Demaryius Thomas), they seem to make 2-3 questionable ones, such as trading away their first round pick in 2010 to move up in the 20o9 draft to select CB Alphonso Smith (who they got rid of just one year later).

On the flip side, let's examine the personnel choices of Denver's AFC West companions, the surprisingly 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs. While I'm not sold yet on the Matt Cassel experiment, he did have a nice rebound week (250 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT). More importantly, part of the Chiefs' success can be directly linked to the excellent decisions they've made in constructing a team via the draft. 2010 draft picks S Eric Berry, versatile RB Dexter McCluster, CB Javier Arenas and TE Tony Moeaki have been major contributors in the first 3 weeks. There are other players from recent drafts also powering the Chiefs along: WR Dwayne Bowe, RB Jamaal Charles and CB Brandon Flowers. While the Chiefs could still fall back to earth as the season progresses, you have to like the young talent that Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has installed in Kansas City.

Studs of the week. Each game the Saints draw lots to see who is going to be the team stud that week. This week, little spark plug Lance Moore drew the winning chit, with 149 receiving yards, a 72 yard punt return, and 2 TDs. Another week, another 125 yds and 2 TDs for Chris Johnson. Michael Vick rewarded Andy Reid's confidence in him with a dominating performance against the Jags (17/31, 291 yds and 3 TDs passing, plus a rushing TD). Numbers aside, Vick showed good patience in the pocket and even more impressive, he hasn't had a single turnover this year. Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzales might have been injured this week, but the Colts offensive machine marched on, with Austin Collie stepping up big time (12 catches, 172 yds, 2 TDs). Brett Favre might have been subpar for a third week in a row, but Adrian Peterson looked like his old self, ripping off a huge 80 yd run, on his way to a 160 yd, 2 TD day. Anquan Boldin finally had his break out week against the Browns, posting 142 yds and 3 TDs.

Duds of the week. Welcome to Duds of the Week, the all-kicker edition. This week Sebastian Janikowski single-handedly overcame his team's excellent effort by missing 3 of 6 FGs, including what would have been the game winner. Instead, the Raiders are now 1-2. Meanwhile, Garrett Hartley botched an easy 29 yard FG in overtime and helped bring about the Saints first loss of the season (against a division rival, no less). Hartley also has misses from 46 and 32 yards this year, which is simply unacceptable. Per Peter King and other media types on Twitter, the Saints are already making arrangements to bring in a new kicker.

Teams I like this week. Okay, okay, I'm sold... the Kansas City Chiefs are legit. The Pittsburgh Steelers can apparently put anyone behind center and win. Their defense is simply amazing this year. Imagine how terrifying they're going to be when Big Ben comes back. Along those same lines, the New York Jets look like they might be clicking on offense finally, and I believe they will definitely be a better team when Santonio Holmes returns from suspension in week 5. Most importantly, Mark Sanchez is showing that he can be more than a game manager, that they can count on the passing game for a few wins this year, versus last season which was about running the ball and defense. Lastly, I must give credit to the Dallas Cowboys this week for stepping it up and winning in decisive fashion in their "must win" game this week.

Teams I don't like this week. The New York Giants are a team in turmoil. 5 personal foul penalties and 3 turnovers suggests that this is a team that has no discpline. Eli Manning looks like he's regressed as a QB, and several players look like they've already given up just 3 games into the season. I also don't like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who commit the double sin of being terrible and being boring to watch. This is why no one goes to their home games. David Gerrard looks awful this year. Meanwhile, looks like the Mike Singletary honeymoon is over in San Francisco, because the 49ers look like a team without direction or motivation. Finally, as I predicted last week, the Houston Texans were exposed on defense. Every team is going to have weeks where their offense is going to struggle, and the sign of quality teams are those who can make something happen in the other areas of the game to pull out the win.
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Fringe Recap: "Olivia"
Thursday, September 23, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

Previously on Fringe: EVERYTHING. The show opens with an attempt to summarize the entire myth arc of the show in 45 seconds. I assume this is an attempt to help new viewers follow on with the new season, but honestly... if you haven't been watching the show, you're probably not going to start now. Fringe happens to be scheduled in The Timeslot of Doom up against the hip and funny Community, the surprisingly good Nikita, and the ratings juggernaut Grey's Anatomy, not to mention Thursday Night Football later in the season. I'm not sure how many new viewers you're going to convince to jump on at this point, especially since what makes the show great - intricate sci-fi stories that span across multiple episodes - is exactly what makes it hard for new viewers to get on board.

Nevertheless, for those of us who have been eagerly awaiting the show's return, tonight's episode was a lot of fun. Part of what makes stories set in alternate universes fun is not only focusing on what's there (e.g. the World Trade Center towers) but what isn't there. It's noteworthy that William Bell, Nina Sharp and Massive Dynamics itself don't seem to have equivalents on Earth 2. Meanwhile, you have to think that it's only a matter of time before we run into Earth 1's version of Lincoln Lee (a.k.a. Burn Victim Guy).

We pick up season 3 right where we left off last season, with Olivia imprisoned on Earth 2. A psychiatrist is treating Olivia, trying to convince her that rambling about evil twins and alternate universes sounds a touch crazy. During these scenes we get a mix of exposition (again, for those who have never watched the show), plus some interesting tidbits about the other Olivia (a.k.a. Alt-livia), including the fact that she's an Olympic gold medal winner in marksmanship and that her mother is still alive in this universe.

Meanwhile, Walternate is busy colluding with the nerd scientist from Massive Dynamics (who in this universe seems to a lot less Sheldon Cooper and a lot more Dr. Mengele), trying to inject Olivia with Alt-livia's memories. Despite the fact that it could kill her, Walternate is hellbent on pushing his agenda, and he orders another dose of the whatever-it-is-MacGuffin serum given to Olivia.

Olivia is dragged into a brightly lit room and strapped to a table. However, before they can complete the procedure, she tricks her captors with the oldest trick in the book (the good old "Ah, my heart/stomach/whatever hurts!") and quickly turns the tables on them. As she flees the complex, necks are stabbed and throats are punched and it is awesome. She makes it outside and flings herself off the side of Liberty Island into the water. Despite the fact that there are literally twenty armed men chasing her on a well equipped island, I guess no one thinks to, you know, go get a boat or anything, so Olivia is able to easily doggie paddle her way to freedom.

Cut scene. Hey, it's Bubbs from The Wire! Hooray! Andre Royo looks pretty good when he's not all done up like a heroin addict. He's minding his own business, chilling in his cab (cleverly sporting an advertising tent on top for the hit musical Dogs) when Olivia throws her bedraggled self into the backseat and promptly hijacks him at gunpoint. Poor Bubbs - even in this universe, he can't catch a break.

Olivia spends the rest of the episode alternating between threatening to murder Bubbs and his whole family and cruising around town trying to figure out a way to get back to Earth 1. At the same time, Alternate Fringe Division is busy zeroing in on her position. It's interesting to note that Charlie and Lincoln seem to buy the story that Olivia is really their Alt-livia and is merely suffering from some kind of head trauma. It's also interesting that even in this world, poor Astrid is given nothing of value to do aside from delivering lines of exposition.

The stress clearly gets to Olivia, because she breaks down sobbing in a gas station restroom, before she ends up blowing it up. It's all very sad and hilarious at the same time. Olivia Dunham, domestic terrorist and public menace!

Finally Olivia is out of options and demands that Bubbs drive her to a safe house nearby. At this point, there are a lot of clues that the MacGuffin serum is starting to take effect - she starts to forget about her love for Peter, she is suddenly a world class shot (a nice callback to that seemingly throw away fact about Alt-livia's marksmanship), and she magically knows the way to Alt-liva's mother's house. When Olivia sees her mother (played by the awesome Amy Madigan) alive, she breaks down and it seems like she's completely taken over by Alt-livia's memories and personality. Oh noes! Honestly, after the trauma of the last 3 episodes, you can't really blame poor Olivia for giving in - in this world, her mother is still alive, her partner Charlie is still alive, plus they have dirigibles and vacations on the moon! Earth 2 rocks. I want to live there.

Olivia ends up driving back to Alternate Fringe Division with Charlie, already displaying the tics and mannerisms of Alt-livia. Bubbs is still outside as he watches them drive off and for a minute you think that maybe he'll follow them, but instead he just drives off in the other direction, probably to go call his good friend, the sober and serious James McNulty, to tell him about his crazy day.

The episode ends as we transition back to Earth 1, where Alt-livia is busy making creepy eyes at Walter and macking on poor, sweet, clueless Peter. It's a testament to Anna Torv's acting that the season 2 finale kiss gave me a thrill, and now seeing her kiss Peter just makes me scream, "Noooooo! Get away from him, you whore!" at the screen. The Bishops walk off, completely unaware of the traitor in their midst.

All in all, this was a great start to the season. It'll be interesting to see how long Alt-livia can fool the team. I suspect that Walternate has no intention of bringing Alt-livia back to Earth 2, which is why he has Olivia all primed and ready to replace her. I also enjoyed seeing Andre Royo again, so I'm hoping he will pop up again in the inevitable episode where Olivia recovers her memories and tries to get back to Earth 1.

Summary: Always have a safety word installed with your loved ones, in the event that an evil doppleganger from another universe tries to take your place. For the record, mine is "banana."

Grade: A-
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Detroit 1-8-7 Recap: Episode 1
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
ABC, in their infinite wisdom, realized that there was a dangerous shortage of cop dramas on television. Fearing that viewers might be overwhelmed by the trauma of original programming such as Pushing Daisies or other such shows, they quickly commissioned Detroit 1-8-7 so that Americans could get their weekly recommended dose of hot cop-on-criminal action.

The show opens with our first four stars: Jon Michael Hill (playing Det. Washington), Michael Imperioli (Det. Fitch), and Michael Imperioli's eyebrows (lefty and righty). A helpful graphic tells us the name of each character and how many years they've worked in homicide. Of course, the fact that Washington barfs at the crime scene, answers a personal cell phone call in the middle of a family death notification, and basically wanders around wide eyed and bushy tailed the whole episode mostly makes the "Det. Washington, 1 day, homicide" graphic redundant.

Pretty much all the graphics in this show are redundant - it's like they think the entire audience is composed of morons who have no idea how traditional narrative works. There are only two homicide cases in the episode, each of them worked by the same detectives throughout, and yet they feel compelled to caption not only which case is currently being shown, but also where they are in the investigation process. Yes, show, I know that the "Bullet Train" investigation is in the autopsy phase, because the two detectives from the train murder scene are present and they are in the fucking morgue.

The minute we meet Sgt Langford (James McDaniels), we know he's too old for this shit. This fact is confirmed by his grizzled veteran demeanor, the overly helpful graphic that tells us he's been in homicide for 30 years, and the fact that he's introduced by Marvin Gaye on the soundtrack. Because Langford is clearly too old for this shit and is buying an Italian villa in anticipation of his retirement, it instantly puts him on the top of my death pool, along with the bushy-tailed rookie, because this is a pilot episode and in a cop drama pilot someone on the main cast has to be expendable.

Also in the cast are Tough Lady Boss (played by "Hey It's That Guy" actress Aisha Hinds), Tough Hot Latina Cop (played by Natalie Martinez) and Cocky Stud (played by D. J. Cotrona). Rounding out the cast is Langford's partner Det. Mahajan (Shaun Majumder), who has no clear stereotypical role yet.
My favorite part comes at the beginning of the episode where a random beat cop makes a remark about being glad that the crack heads stay in their crappy neighborhoods to kill each other over drugs versus coming out to the suburbs where he lives. Tough Hot Latina Cop gets up in the guy's grill, all, "I grew up near here! Everytime I come to one of these murder scenes I pray it's not someone I know!" It's supposed to be like she put Suburban Cop in his place, but he kind of has this look on his face like, "Uh, this is sort ofmy point, lady."

Two rather dull homicide investigations end up converging into one case. Long story, short, a guy gets paroled and decides that murder/suicide is the best way to reunite with his wife and kids. He gets the wife, his parole officer and some other random guy, but gets talked down off the proverbial ledge before he can kill his kids and himself at the end.
The show hits pretty much all the expected dramatic points: the interrogation scene where Fitch applies an unconventional approach to break the suspect, the dramatic car chase (complete with flaming car of peril!), and a hostage standoff (again, helpfully captioned "Hostage Standoff" for the viewers) in which Fitch single handedly disarms the situation by empathizing with the suspect and walking slowly at him with his hands up, until the suspect turns his weapon over. This is of course total fantasy, because who wouldn't look at Michael Imperioli's smug face and NOT instantly shoot him?

Detroit apparently has the worst procedures ever when it comes to handling known violent offenders, because the suspect breaks free at the precinct at the end of the episode and grabs a gun from a passing cop (don't they have holster straps and safeties?). In the confusion, Rookie McBarf gets his fool self shot, just as he receives a call from his wife telling him their first child is probably born. It's not clear if he's dead or not at the end of the episode, and really, it doesn't matter. The episode doesn't really focus on one character, so losing a cast member isn't that impactful for the viewer. If anything, it's just one more emotional trauma for Det. Fitch to drag around, because Fitch is the designated character who "doesn't play by the rules" and who has a mysterious and tragedy filled past that informs who he is.

Look, I know it's a pilot episode, and usually those are concerned more with getting all the relevant characters on the board and properly introduced to the audience so we know who they expect us to spend 22 weeks with than with telling a great story. It's possible that the show will get much better next week. However, I didn't see much in this episode that makes me want to tune in again.

Summary: I still can't believe they canceled The Unusuals. They HAD a great cop drama already, and it was way better than Detroit 1-8-7.

Grade: C-
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NFL Week2 Breakdown
Monday, September 20, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Well, after a rusty first week out of the gate, it was good to see many NFL teams start clicking better in Week 2. There were some really exciting matchups this week, so let's get right to it.

"Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Clearly Peyton Manning was still upset about the loss the previous week to the Houston Texans, and he decided to take all his rage out on the poor visiting Giants. I say "rage", but despite my pithy section headline, it was more HAL 9000 than Incredible Hulk, as Manning methodically and relentlessly made the Giants defense suffer. Short of running across the field at halftime, pinning younger brother Eli to the ground and mercilessly wet willying him until he screamed, there wasn't much more Peyton could have done to make poor Eli suffer that night. The Giants need not panic about the loss - Peyton has made better teams look more foolish in his career - but the one thing that happened during the game that SHOULD concern the team is the way Brandon Jacobs behaved. He had already been quoted in the press complaining about losing the starting job to Ahmad Bradshaw. Last night, in a fit of childish anger, he tossed his helmet into the stands, almost striking a fan and then engaging in a shouting match with the startled and angry fan.

Reports of your demise were greatly exaggerated. So after the media panic of last week, you would have thought that Mark Sanchez was just one more poor game away from being cut from the Jets for being unable to live up to their expectations as a QB. Sure, Sanchez looked hurried at times and he certainly had poor numbers, but people forget how often over the past few years the Baltimore Ravens defense has made otherwise capable QBs look like frightened bunnies in the pocket. This week against the much more vulnerable Patriots defense, Sanchez looked clutch, making some great throws and coming away with 277 yards and 3 TDs.

Speaking of premature demises, Sanchez's teammate LaDanian Tomlinson has looked excellent over the past few weeks. Though he's sharing the load with RB Shonn Greene, LT has shown flashes of his old speed and he's converted some big first downs for the Jets. I think that if the Jets get LT more involved in the passing game and get Santonio Holmes back in a few weeks, they're going to be a much better offense than people think. They're still a work in progress, and they certainly aren't doing Sanchez any favors by having a very conservative offensive game plan, but this team may still live up to the hype. The real test will be how they perform next week versus the tough-looking 2-0 Dolphins.

Reports of YOUR demise, however, were completely accurate. Once upon a time, Trent Edwards looked like a very promising young QB for the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, ever since the massive hit a few years ago that hit him with his first NFL concussion, Edwards has never looked that good again. After just two weeks, "Captain Checkdown" (as he's not so kindly referred to in media circles) has been benched, probably for good, barring some massive meltdown by Ryan Fitzpatrick. At this point, it already looks like a lost season for the hapless Bills, who are probably just counting the weeks until they finish at the bottom of the NFL and have the chance to draft a Jake Locker type to be their savoir.

Meanwhile, down in Carolina, Jimmy Clausen (the rookie QB the Bills certainly could have drafted if they wanted to) has been given the starting reins. Poor Matt Moore may have finished strong last year, but starting 0-2 in a division that has the Saints, Falcons and the surprising Tampa Bay Bucs is pretty devastating. We all knew it was only a matter of time before Clausen would get the start in Carolina, but Moore squandered his chance to have a great year that would have set him up to go start for another team in 2011. The door may still be open to Moore if Clausen struggles greatly, but we'll see.

Studs of the week. Pity the poor Detroit Lions for their two heartbreaking losses (both games they could have won) and their vicious upcoming schedule. But don't pity them for drafting Jahvid Best, who is responsible for the team's first 5 TDs of the year so far. This week he put up some heady numbers (78 yds rushing, 154 yds receiving, 3 TDs). The way he runs certainly invokes memories of another Lions RB great from the past.... Meanwhile, though I can never forgive Michael Vick for the dogfighting incident that sent him to jail, I must acknowledge how much he has improved since 2006. Though his stats weren't as flashy as other QBs this week (284 yds, 2TDs), he finally (FINALLY!) looks like he's learned how to be a pocket QB, versus a great RB who happened to throw on occasion. His passes have touch on them and he has shown a willingness to look downfield even after forced to scramble out of the pocket (the old Vick would have looked at his primary receiver, seen him covered and immediately scrambled with the ball). That was a lesson that Donovan McNabb had to learn once upon a time.

Speaking of McNabb, he looked great against the Texans, putting up 426 yards and 1 TD (and indeed, he would have been over 500 yards if Joey Galloway makes that catch in the end zone). Unfortunately for McNabb and the Redskins, Houston QB Matt Schaub out-dueled him, putting up 497 yds for 3 TDs.

Tim Tebow who? In two weeks, Kyle Orton has over 600 yards passing and certainly looks like the QB of the future.

Lastly, the entire Pittsburgh Defense (though particularly the high flying Troy Polamalu) simply dominated the Tennessee Titans, forcing 3 INTs, 4 fumbles, and 1 starting QB benching.

Duds of the week. Houston's offense looks great and they're at 2-0, so you can't argue with those results. However, their defense deserves a dud of the week, for again leaking like a sieve against opposing QBs. In the first two weeks they've given up almost 900 yards in the air. Meanwhile, Matt Cassel seems to be the only thing not working out for the Kansas City Chiefs (10 of 22, 68 yds, 1TD in week one and 16-28 for 176 yds, 0 TD and 2 INT for week two). When you pay a guy that much guaranteed money at the most critical position in the game, you expect him to perform as good if not better than the guys around him. Unfortunately that's not the case, and I think it's going to hurt the Chiefs long term.

Teams I like this week. Chicago is 2-0, and it's looking like the Martz-Cutler marriage is already paying dividends. Matt Forte certainly has benefitted from the new offensive scheme. Imagine how scary this team might be if their offensive line were any good. We'll see how much I still like them after they face their first real test when they play the Green Bay Packers this weekend. I also like the Miami Dolphins, who look really tough on defense. If Henne and Marshall start really clicking, we might just have an exciting 3 way race in the AFC East. Josh Freeman is quietly becoming a star down in Tampa Bay, and the Bucs are looking good these first two weeks. Last, I like the Saints, who I think will benefit in the long run from having to actually break a sweat to win a game this year.

Teams I don't like this week.
The Dallas Cowboys look really shaky after their 0-2 start. This just doesn't seem like a team with the mental toughness to win when the going gets tough. Countless media analysts have commented on the lack of leadership in the locker room, and that's definitely a bad sign. Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to pay the price for their decision to abandon a team-first concept by embarrassing themselves courting Favre this off season, allowing him to skip camps and so forth. I think the Vikings are too talented not to bounce back and make a run at it all this year, but they've got a lot of work to do. Last and certainly least, the Cleveland Browns are in big trouble. If you can't beat the Chiefs or the Bucs, then how can you expect to win any of the next 5 games against the Ravens, Bengals, Falcons, Steelers or Saints?
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NFL Week 1 Breakdown
Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
It's that time of year again, where the pigskins fly with abandon and burly men attempt to wrangle one another for our amusement. Which means, of course, that it's time for my usual NFL weekly breakdown posts to return.

Keep in mind that it was Week 1, and a lot of teams sure played like it, so while I had to pick teams I liked this week and teams I didn't, don't think that these are season-long predictions. There will be teams that struggled in week 1 that will probably get a lot better in the coming weeks (maybe Indy, Dallas, Minnesota), and teams that played well but could always fall apart later on (Seattle, Houston, Miami).

Uh, about that crown we handed you... So, there were several people ready to coronate the San Francisco 49ers as the NFC West champs going into the season. At the same time they seemingly wrote off the Seattle Seahawks, who once upon a time dominated the division for several years in a row during the mid-2000s. Of course, it's only week 1, but Mike Singletary cannot be happy with his team's performance. Some in the sports media had predicted that this would be the year that Alex Smith justified his first round draft pick status, but after a decent start, he looked confused and panicked in the pocket.

Meanwhile in the AFC West, many were also praising the Oakland Raiders and picking them to make a playoff run. Again, it's only one week and there's certainly no shame in losing to the Tennessee Titans. However, it was the WAY the Raiders lost that should cause alarm. The game wasn't close at all, Jason Campbell was under heavy pressure the whole time, and the defense was helpless to stop Chris Johnson.

Welcome to Heartbreak City 2010. I understand the actual NFL rule about possession while making a catch, and by the letter of the law, yes, the Calvin Johnson catch in the end zone was technically incomplete. But boy... when a guy makes a clean catch with two hands, plants both feet and then falls, still holding the ball, with his knee hitting cleanly before he rolls over, it's hard to stomach the fact that that isn't a game-winning catch just because he seems to lose the ball as he pushes himself up. While they lost, they could have at least taken solace in the fact that they actually showed some sparks of life, playing occasionally solid defense and actually putting points on the board. Unfortunately, Detroit can't seem to get a break. They also must deal with the pain of knowing that their young QB Matthew Stafford may now be out for up to 6 weeks. When you look at the schedule of the next 6 games, it's a fairly horrifying list of teams: Philadelphia, Minnesota, Green Bay and the New York Giants, with only the St Louis Rams looking like they might at least allow Detroit to stay in the game. It could be another long frustrating season for the Lions, since a 0-6 start is looking likely. When you have a schedule like this, you have GOT to win games like the one against Chicago.

There is no B-R-E-T-T in "Team". Can we please stop acting like there are no consequences to skipping training camp now? Because there were several plays in the Minnesota/New Orleans game where a QB who was in training camp shape and had weeks of work with his receivers might have pulled out a victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Brett Favre took a couple critical sacks because he was simply unable to avoid a lone defender rushing him. He was also clearly out of sync with his receivers, which isn't really surprising given that he's barely played with them since last January. Of course, the blame doesn't fall solely on Favre. You also have to question Brad Childress, who allowed the "One man really is more important than the other 52 guys" atmosphere to take hold of his team. The reasoning behind allowing one person to skip the hard work that the other 52 guys are expected to put in is that a guy like Favre will win you 2-3 more games a year simply by his presence in the lineup. However, you can't really look at the game from Thursday without wondering if perhaps Tavaris Jackson, who put the time in in training camp working with the first team offense, might have made those one or two extra plays that might have made a difference in the extremely close game.

Studs of the week. If you heard a scream coming from somewhere in Alexandria, VA this Sunday, it was probably me, watching Arian Foster destroy my fantasy football team in two different leagues. Foster posted obscene numbers (231 rushing yds, 3 TDs) while powering his team to victory over the Colts. However, Peyton Manning did his best to overcome his defense's failings, throwing 433 yds for 3 TDs. Meanwhile, while Green Bay's vaunting offense stuttered at key moments in the end, Clay Matthews (7 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble) played like a beast on defense, making several key plays to help his team squeak out the win. Matt Forte was just the worst last year, fantasy-wise, but he came out roaring this season with 201 yds from scrimmage and 2 TDs. Finally, the last stud of the week award goes to the doctor that operated on Wes Welker's knee, since the speedy receiver seems to have made a miraculously recovery from his devastating knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

Also candidate for stud of the week: the Titans' cheerleader-devouring mascot.

Duds of the week. If he wanted to validate the Eagles' decision to trade Donovan McNabb or keep Michael Vick in the #2 slot, Kevin Kolb (5/10, 24 yds passing) sure failed. The Eagles starting QB made some very poor throws and didn't look comfortable at all in the pocket, before leaving the game with a concussion. To make matters worse, the team instantly perked up when Vick took the reins. Rookie RB CJ Spiller was supposed to be the one bright spot on the Bills lineup, but he finished the day with just 6 yds on 7 carries.

Teams I like this week. The New Orleans Saints look just as good as last year, and played some tough defense against the Vikings. Also, I still worship at the altar of the Breesus. I also like the Seattle Seahawks, who stomped on the 49ers. If you look at their schedule, Seattle could conceivably post a 8-8 to 10-6 record this season. Finally, I like the Houston Texans, who not only showed they could get over the mental hurdle of defeating their hated rivals (improving now to 2-15 against the Colts), but also that they have a rushing game to go with their normally awesome passing game.

Teams I don't like this week. I had hoped for better things for the Oakland Raiders, not only because their fans have suffered so long, but because I have always had a soft spot for QB Jason Campbell, who I think has never gotten a fair chance in his career. Alas, they look like the same team that hasn't won over 4 games in last past few seasons. Meanwhile, for the love of God, will someone PLEASE take over clock management from Andy Reid, because he costs this Philadelphia Eagles 1 to 2 victories a year with his bizarre mismanagement of the team time outs. Lastly, I see that the Dallas Cowboys are the same undisciplined team that squandered their talent last year. Foolish penalties, mental mistakes, lack of focus - these all speak to a team that needs a firmer hand than perhaps Wade Phillips can provide.

photo credits (ohgoddontsueme)
- Cheerleaders (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
- Megatron's non-catch (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
- Arian Foster (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)
- Jason Campbell gets sacked. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
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New Show Alert! Terriers on FX
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

I'm popping out of my self-imposed blog hibernation to let you fine folks know that there's a new series out there that you might enjoy. The advance word on FX's new series Terriers has been pretty positive (Televisionary, a site that rarely goes wrong, calls it one of the strongest new series of the season).

The show in a nutshell: an ex-cop partners with his buddy to run an unlicensed private investigation business. Hilarity (and edgy "stuff") ensues.

Reasons why you should watch this show:

1) It's got Donal Logue, who I've loved all the way back to his "The Tao of Steve" days. He's the kind of charming actor who can carry a show as a lead, and he will likely bring a unique spin to the character.

2) His partner in crime (and charming-ness) is played by Michael Raymond-James, who you probably remember better as Rene from season 1 of True Blood.

3) The show runner is Shawn Ryan, and this show seems to have some of the same excellent aesthetic that his previous series, The Shield, had. I'm not sure how great he'll be at bringing the funny, but obviously he knows how to produce gritty dramatic moments.

4) It's hosted on the FX network, so when they promise an "edgy" show, you actually believe it based on the network's other offerings.

5) I've got a really good vibe about this show, and really... have I steered you wrong yet?

Check it out. It airs tonight at 10pm EST on FX. You can grab the trailer here:

*image from
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