“Sleepy Hollow” 2/23/2015: Yankee Doodle Abbie

Sleepy Hollow!

Abbie Mills is not impressed with the new Fox series Oz 1781.

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Katrina von Tassel Crane, occasionally functional witch and former member of the Sisters of the Radiant Heart, let her son’s machinations and his death sway her over to the Dark Side, then hopped back in time Quantum Leap style into the body of her 1781 self so she can secure his gestation and childhood, even if she has to kill her own husband to do it. The goodly Lieutenant Abbie Mills time-jumped behind her Army of Darkness style and was swiftly imprisoned by Redcoats for the crime of Unsupervised Blackness.

In tonight’s season finale, “Tempus Fugit”: it’s a time-travel episode! And one of the series’ best romps to date, featuring a new kind of Abbie/Crane team-up, the return of the Hessian, a visit from a Founding Father, a selfie that saves the day, and bittersweet closure in case of unfair cancellation.

For those who missed out, my attempt to hash out the basic events follows after this courtesy spoiler alert for the sake of time-shifted viewers…

Right this way to go forward to the past!

My “Mad Men” Season 6 Finale Predictions, 100% Accurate on Some Alternate Earth

Stan Rizzo, Jay Cutler, Mad Men

Cutler and Stan (Harry Hamlin and Jay R. Ferguson) rush to the nearest TV to see what’s in store for their characters.

So far Mad Men‘s sixth season has been my least favorite. Though I’ve read articulate complaints elsewhere online, I’m still having trouble nailing down the exact reasons for my diminished excitement. I even procrastinated the last few episodes for days after their respective airdates instead of rushing to catch them immediately for the sake of spoilers. I trust that Matthew Weiner and his team have surprises and shocks in store for us in the future, but I’d rather have them five episodes ago than idle impatiently till next year’s final season.

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“The Office”: And They All Lived Happily Ever After

Michael Scott, Steve Carell, The Office, NBC

“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that the point?”
— Pamela Beesly Halpert, May 16, 2013.

Our family spent this evening bidding farewell to the quotidian saga of The Office after seven solidly engaging seasons, one apocryphal season we endured out of customer loyalty, and one mostly improved bonus season to make up for that one. Of all our ongoing TV series, it was the only one we watched unanimously. Whenever the Dunder Mifflin staff spent another work day together, we spent quality time together, like the families of days past that gathered around the old-time radio, the puppet stage, the family plow, or whatever other objects past generations thought were worth gathering around. (Well, at least we did this after my son was old enough to appreciate it and binge-watched the early seasons over one summer vacation.)

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The “Falling Skies” Season 2 Finales You Won’t See on TV in Our Reality

The first nine episodes of Falling Skies‘ second season have been a tense thrill ride, except arguably the one episode that was devoted entirely to people chatting in cars. And, granted, fans of special effects may also noticed to their chagrin that last week’s episode, “The Price of Greatness”, didn’t feature a single live Skitter. I also find it immensely distracting every time two characters ostensibly hundreds of miles apart just happen to bump into each other. Otherwise, thrills have been a-poppin’ and tension has been mounting.

The addition of special guest stars Terry O’Quinn (Lost) as the first post-apocalyptic politician and Matt Frewer (forever Max Headroom in my heart) as an unthinking military man was certainly a step in the right direction away from staleness. Based on the promo for the season finale (enclosed below), it’s safe to say we can expect great, hopefully unpredictable things are in store for us. So far, I’ve been pretty satisfied with where the show has been steered of late, thanks in large part to season 2 showrunner Remi Aubuchon, whose previous work on NBC’s Persons Unknown was a big hit in our household and apparently nowhere else. (I still think of the show every time I’ve seen Reggie Lee pop up in other things like Grimm and The Dark Knight Rises. Seeing our heroes undergo Level 2 would’ve been a real treat.)

What if things had gone differently? What if Aubuchon hadn’t been available to helm Falling Skies because he was too busy wrapping up Persons Unknown season 3 after it magically found an audience? Imagine infinite versions of the show by infinite showrunners, perhaps in worlds where the fates of many a TV creator ran along a much different career track than they have in the reality we know and love.

In some of those alt-Earths, the Falling Skies season 2 finale, titled “A More Perfect Union” in our present reality, might be reimagined by those alt-producers like so:

Joss Whedon: One of the Overlords is finally given a name and a distinct, engaging personality. Season 2’s Big Bad is revealed at last, and happens to be the CEO of an evil galactic corporation. The season concludes not with another cliffhanger, but with a satisfying firefight that looks really expensive but was done on a shockingly modest budget, while at the same time offering deep-rooted closure to the season’s ongoing themes of distrust between allies and compromised freedoms. Also, because Tom has a happy relationship with Anne and is a great father to his boys, he obviously has to die quickly and brutally at the end. Season 3 will see the show renamed Maggie the Skitter Stomper, and Hal coping with his grief by developing unhealthy addictions to black clothing and expensive hair care products.

Chris Carter: Tom and Anne’s relationship is immediately downgraded back to irritating will-they-or-won’t-they status. The finale introduces four new kinds of aliens, six new supporting characters, and eight new conspiracies, ending after much sound and fury with an alien-war cliffhanger and a “To Be Concluded” placard. It is a placard of lies.

Amy Sherman-Palladino: After nineteen straight episodes of near-flawless heroism, Tom spends some time revealing all his fatal flaws and making sure we know he’s no hero to be praised or followed. This culminates in a harsh argument with Weaver in which both characters are required to recite entire speeches’ worth of dialogue at each other, longer than the Declaration of Independence and at 400 wpm. Weaver eventually convinces Tom about his wrongness just in enough time for the two of them to nab a pair of empty front-row seats at the Charleston Elementary production of My Fair Lady, in which li’l Matt closes the show with a heartbreaking rendition of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”. Eliza Doolittle is played by his new harnessed girl-pal from two episodes ago, who’s seen the error of her ways and begrudgingly joined the 2nd Mass after all. Forgiveness and healing are all but certain, as are countless tossed-away joke references to hip, erudite topics such as The Fantasticks, Secrets and Lies, Tamagotchi, The Decameron, and Steve Urkel.

Shonda Rhimes: Fifteen minutes of relationship angst and forty-five minutes of sex scenes. Noah Wyle will glisten and preen like he’s never glistened and preened before. Every female character will become insufferable.

Dick Wolf: The finale is a fully self-contained episode, except half the cast die or quit the rebellion. Their replacements in season 3 will be played by desperate but totally terrific Broadway actors at half the cost.

Alfred Gough and Miles Millar: Hal suddenly realized he’s still in love with Karen, was meant to be with Karen, and will never give up waiting for Karen, even though the best viewers will waste countless hours disagreeing with him via the Internet. All other characters will moan, groan, and keep pointing him toward Maggie in vain. Pope’s chaotic-good repartee will become three times zingier, and Pa Mason will spout more aphorisms than ever. Frustrating cliffhanger ending is mandatory, and won’t see full closure until eight episodes into season 3.

Vince Gilligan: Tom goes underground to meet the dregs of what’s left of American society. He discovers a way to destroy the invaders from within once and for all, but it may require him to sacrifice the life of one of his sons. He goes forward with it anyway, as the darkness begins to form slowly in his once-pure heart. Anne is strangely on board with every bizarre decision he makes. The Noah Wyle that America once knew and loved as the benevolent Dr. John Carter gets really scary to watch.

Frank Darabont: The first fifty-eight minutes will be the characters standing around wreckage, staring into space meaningfully, pausing to reflect and mourn at length, holding conversations about compromised freedoms, and ending every other sentence with, “…but at what price?” The final two minutes are super awesome alien wartime nonstop explosion cinema extravaganza that blows the fans away, costs $60 million to film, and requires a now-penniless TNT to cancel all its other original series except Franklin & Bash, whose two stars are willing to forgo paychecks and work for vending machine snacks.

Veena Sud: One solid hour of everyone standing, staring, pausing, and generally hanging out on lots of dull grey sets. Smiles are forbidden. Dale Dye and all other officers above Weaver will admit they’re no closer now to understanding the aliens’ motives than they were when the invasion began two seasons ago. In the only real plot development of the entire episode, Tom is relieved of command when he admits he has no idea how to use a gun, and has just been getting really lucky all this time.

Thankfully none of these realities are ours, for we live in the greatest reality of ALL TIMES. Enclosed for posterity is that brief season finale promo that may or may not contain all the hints we need to predict what’ll happen this Sunday night.

My amateur predictions:

1. Charleston will burn.
2. A minor recurring character will die. The easy money’s on Tector.
3. The firefight will look spectacular.
4. Lourdes hopefully stops mourning and gets back to representing for the faithful.
5. Just as the battle is nearly lost, Ben returns with a veritable cavalry.
6. Pope quits and leaves for good, and then returns again, and then quits and leaves yet again, and so on.
7. My wildest prediction, most likely to be wrong — Dai will have at least three whole lines. You heard it here first.

My “Mad Men” Season 5 Finale Predictions, 100% Accurate on Some Alternate Earth

Mad Men has already thrown a plethora of unexpected twists and pivots at us this year, but has one more hour at its disposal to see if it can top itself even more outlandishly. One can only hope the season 5 finale, “The Phantom”, will join the ranks of “The Wheel” and “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” as another finale to end all finales.

I’m terrible at guessing what happens next in any given show. Like all other failed prognosticators, that never stops me from trying. I may look weird keeping a book by my side while I watch, for something to occupy my time during commercials or sex scenes, but rest assured I’m otherwise paying attention, keeping mental tabs as best I can with my aging memory, and harboring my own half-baked theories about what ought to happen next. Fortunately, whatever happens is usually much more stunning.

Momentary pause here for courtesy spoiler alert before I proceed. If you’re not caught up through the June 3rd episode “Commissions and Fees”, or if you just don’t care, your exit strategy should be executed right about now. Please allow me to have you escorted to safety by this authentic 1960s artifact, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

The Ghost of DC Movies Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

And now, on with my false prophecies about “The Phantom”:

* With Mrs. Pryce left behind in surprise financial dire straits, Pete offers to buy her green Jaguar as a gesture of charity, albeit for a song. For some reason the car starts just fine for him. Pete spends his long drive back to the suburbs with all the windows down, the radio cranked up, and imagining himself a Real Man. Halfway home he’s pulled over for doing 80 in a 25 MPH zone. The Jaguar is impounded. Pete is not happy.

* The funeral is a somber yet extravagant affair. With Lane’s overseas colleagues all declining to attend and Mrs. Pryce unable to speak, Don steps to the podium and delivers a eulogy that was written by Megan in about six minutes on the back of a funeral program. It is the Greatest Eulogy of All Time. Pete fumes with envy.

* A suddenly lucid and desperate Roger proposes to six different women: the twin models who witnessed his heart attack, Peggy’s brash friend Joyce, Don’s receptionist Dawn, his ex-wife Mona, and li’l Sally. We have to wait until next season to find out which one said yes. Pete overhears Roger’s end of the phone conversation, then stomps away muttering like an angry child about how he wishes he could go out and remarry every two years.

* Two months into her new job, Peggy is flourishing as a creative force at Cutler, Gleason & Chaough. Shockingly, Ted Chaough has proven not to be a lech. She later attends a business mixer with one of CGC’s major clients, the life insurance company that employs Pete’s commuter buddy. She has a chance encounter with Pete’s one-time fling, Mrs. Commuter Buddy, who’s attending the party dutifully with her husband. Casual small talk escalates into a tearful confession. Peggy somehow puts two and two together from the scant clues, makes a beeline for her old offices, kicks Pete right in his Campbell Soup Cans, and exchanges strained pleasantries with Don on her way out. Pete cannot breathe for the rest of the day.

* Don rehires previously laid-off copywriter Danny Siegel (Danny Strong) to handle the Jaguar account for him while he himself, emboldened by the Dow deal, decides go after a bigger fish than Jaguar: the great and powerful Rolls Royce. Don is convinced that their Phantom series (we have episode title!) is Where It’s At. By episode’s end, Don can’t close the deal without Megan’s help, but she refuses because of auditions and ambitions and such. The chase proves to be just another Dulcinea that teaches us the real “phantom” is the fleeting nature of happiness or business success or absolute manhood or whatever. Pete’s only moment of joy in the episode occurs when he realizes Danny is the first adult male he’s ever met who’s punier than he is.

* Betty and Henry have a mild argument or something. No one cares.

* Ed “the Devil from Reaper” Baxter calls Don, tells him he has some nerve!, and awards him with Dow’s business. All of it. After a series of fake meetings and fake intense arguments, Roger formally announces Ken will be handling the account under extreme duress, but totally solo due to fictional client mandates. Pete’s blood boils.

* The bigwigs at Heinz announce they’re so in love with the work that Michael Ginsberg and Stan Rizzo have done for their baked bean ads, they’re moving all of Heinz’ other accounts to the firm, including Big Catsup. Pete finds an excuse to leave the meeting abruptly with his face red and hot steam whistling out his ears, even though this subplot has virtually nothing to do with him.

* Trudy puts on the frumpiest dress she owns and announces she’s pregnant again. She wonders if perhaps they’ll need to move into a larger house even farther away from Manhattan, possibly as far as western New Jersey. Pete responds by climbing to the top of a water tower, wielding the trusty rifle that he obtained years ago in exchange for a duplicate chip-‘n’-dip set, and begins firing indiscriminately at innocent passersby. He doesn’t hit a single live target, but shatters the window of a beauty shop, where the bullet destroys a Clearasil display. Pete’s father-in-law is not happy. After he runs out of ammo, Pete throws his emptied gun at Trudy (missing by a wide margin), slips off his perch and onto the ground. The authorities toss him into a paddy wagon and wave him off. Our last sight of Pete is him clawing at the windows and frothing at the mouth. Trudy is later consoled by her new neighbors, Troy and Abed.

* The firm name is changed to Draper Sterling Cooper Harris. Pete’s head explodes.

My 2012 Season Finale Predictions, 100% Accurate on Some Alternate Earth

Another springtime tradition draws near as my regular TV shows each race toward their season finales. I never know how any given show will end, but it’s fun to pretend I do. Here, then, are my incorrect predictions for what’s in store for me over the next month. If any of these are remotely accurate, I’d be grateful if someone in charge would PayPal me a fraction of the ad revenues.

Community: Chang becomes the dean of the all-new all-different (read: even more destabilized) Greendale College. A shattered ex-Dean Pelton seeks a new degree and joins the study group. Troy and Britta still don’t hook up, but we discover a good reason why. The climax will be the destruction of the air conditioning annex in some sort of wormhole-based implosion that fits whatever the episode’s satirical target is. R.I.P. John Goodman’s character for arc-closure purposes, along with Pierce Hawthorne in some hideous yet hilarious manner that Dan Harmon will reveal to Chevy Chase after the episode airs, in the form of a TwitPic of his pink slip.

The Office: James Spader’s imminent departure was previously announced. Mindy Kaling’s Fox deal is reportedly reaching fruition. A spinoff is allegedly being constructed for Rainn Wilson. Other exits aren’t unlikely if the show is renewed. All signs point toward one inevitability: a natural disaster wipes out Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, taking out half the cast. Those left standing at the end — Andy, Erin, David Wallace, Kevin, Oscar, Creed, Cathy the annoying temp, Nate from the warehouse, and a hastily rehired Todd Packer — relocate for season 9 to the scenic Utica branch, where hilarity can hopefully ensue after they pick up the pieces. If for some reason Parks & Recreation isn’t renewed, Rashida Jones returns as their new boss, Karen.

Parks & Recreation: Leslie loses the election because moving her out of the department would compromise the show’s basic premise. Somehow her loss is all Jerry’s fault, but the team holds their pre-planned victory party anyway with a little help from Donna’s cousin Ginuwine. Meanwhile, Tom fails one last time to win Anne’s heart, which is fine by me. The final scene in four words: either “Ben proposes to Leslie” or “Chris has a coronary.”

Mad Men: Reply hazy; try again later. It doesn’t help that I’m currently two episodes behind.

Once Upon a Time: In the final flashback, the dwarfs and fairies locate Charming, free him, and escort him to the comatose Snow to snap her out of it in the usual fashion. As they reunite and make wedding plans, elsewhere a rebuked Evil Queen pulls the trigger on the whole “Curse” plan…which, of course, comes with a price.

Meanwhile in the present-day real world, Henry’s stunt finally convinces Emma to believe, and I finally lose the urge to throw things at my TV. When she attempts to leave town forever for her seventh or eighth time — this time with Mary Margaret, David, and still-comatose Henry all along for the ride — she pushes her li’l jalopy so hard that the engine explodes. Everyone else is scraped and bruised, but the impact leaves Emma dead…for one whole minute. In homage to the Buffy season 1 finale, momentary clinical death is good enough to fulfill the terms and conditions for breaking the curse, leading up to a final scene of everyone remembering everything, capped with a tearful reunion between Grumpy and Amy Acker.

In the long term, Season 2 has everyone coming to terms with life in the real world despite knowing what they know and who they were. In Season 3, Our Heroes — now teamed up with a remorseful Regina, who’s at long last aware that all her problems were entirely her super-evil mom’s fault — finally find a way back to the Fairytale World, which in their absence has become a smoking crater ruled by some new evil dictator. My vote is for Jafar.

The Simpsons: Absolutely nothing of consequence occurs, except maybe another great couch gag by outside artists. My vote is for Studio Ghibli.

This list fails to include the several shows I abandoned this season. I assume their finales will also involve wormhole implosions, or cameos by Charlie Sheen. Good luck with those.

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