28 January 2011

The Vampire Diaries S2 E12 "The Descent"

Spoilers Ahead

Which is worse: a creature for whom killing is part of its nature (and at times is necessary for its survival) or one that has no control--or remorse--over its capacity to end lives? "The Descent" raised this question for me and, although no answer was forthcoming, the question is still on my mind. Welcome to the latest edition of Vampires vs. Werewolves.

After a long hiatus, the show picks up the morning after the events of "By the Light of the Moon," with werewolf Jules waking up in human form in the woods, her mouth bloody. It doesn't take long for her to find the campsite of corpses (or I should say parts of corpses). But rather than being shocked or upset at the discovery of what she did in wolf form she calmly steals (clothes) from the dead and starts piling up the pieces for an impromptu bonfire.

Suddenly a cop pulls up (we won't ask why a cop shows up out of nowhere in the woods) and Jules freezes. She's crouched in front of a burning pile of body parts and she's already been spotted. As he approaches, she starts crying and telling him that a wolf killed all her friends and miraculously didn't leave a scratch on her. As the cop (believing the pretty, distraught lady) heads to his car to call for help, Jules bludgeons him with what I hope was a large branch. What's another murder, right?

Elsewhere it seems as though things are back to normal for Elena and Stefan. Well, for Elena anyway. While she's convinced they can trust Elijah and that everything will be okay, Stefan's not so sure. He wants to find a way to get in touch with Isobel, reasoning that she can help them fight Klaus. Stefan has also started dosing himself with vervain in order to build a tolerance (as Katherine did).

Elena tries to enlist Damon's support against Stefan contacting Isobel, but Damon happens to agree with his brother. He's also slightly preoccupied tending to a very sick Rose. Although he gives her blood to drink, telling her "blood heals" the wound on her shoulder looks even worse. He asks Elena to watch over Rose while he goes out, but when Elena tries to talk to him about Rose he acts unconcerned and claims he doesn't care what happens to her.

After her busy morning of killing witnesses and destroying evidence, Jules decides to check in with the Sheriff (re: Mason) and get lunch at The Grill, which also happens to be where Alaric is. He gives Damon a call to let him know what's going on. It's a busy day for Alaric (does he even teach anymore?) because the next moment Stefan shows up asking for a way to find Isobel. Alaric relents and gives him an old, possibly useless, number.

Damon, meanwhile, has shown up and proceeds to have a highly unsatisfying exchange with Jules in which he promises not to kill her if she tells him how to cure Rose (whom he doesn't care about. At all. Really.) Jules tells him to bite her (I truly hope he does) before informing him that the only cure for Rose is a stake through the heart. I'm not sure why he doesn't follow her out of The Grill and rip her spleen out her back but, alas, she shows up again later, alive and well.

Back at Casa Salvatore, Elena is helping Rose as her condition worsens. And we finally get to see Damon's room! It's actually really nice, traditional but not fussy or old-fashioned (I approve). The book by his bedside is Gone with the Wind, which at first I found funny but when I thought about it more is actually pretty sad. Gone with the Wind is set in Damon's time and reading it would be like reliving his human life. Clearly he's longing for (or stuck in) something long past. Not good.

But as bad off as he is, Rose is even worse. She has fever and pain. She switches between lucidity and delirium. And she either can't keep blood down or she gorges on it. When she's lucid she talks about how she wasted her life in fear and urges Elena to fight Klaus and Elijah. When she's delirious she thinks Elena is Katherine and tries to kill her. After Elena locks herself in a sunny room, Rose gives up and wanders off, killing a couple of people along the way (when she's aware again she's horrified at what she's done).

This brings us to my big complaint about this episode: the pacing. Damon leaves Elena with Rose in the morning. It somehow takes him until noon to get to The Grill and confront Jules for all of thirty seconds. Elena calls him sometime in the morning or afternoon (once Rose starts behaving strangely), telling him to come home. He doesn't show up until after dark. Where has he been and what has he been doing for so long? I also like how he gives Elena an annoyed glare when he realizes Rose is gone and Elena doesn't know where. Stupid human--couldn't even watch an out-of-control vampire--pff. Also, does Elena not go to school anymore? These might be minor issues but they take me out of the story, and that's a problem.

Anyway, when they catch up with Rose after her sickness-induced killing spree, Rose is in a shambles, begging Damon to "make it stop." He, not caring about her at all, picks her up and carries her home. She's calmer when she wakes up later and she takes a moment to tell Elena that she knows she's scared but she has to fight. She also reminisces about being human, claiming the memory of it is the only thing that's kept her going and tells Elena that Damon wants to care but as soon as he does he runs away from it. Then she loses it, screaming in pain. At this point Damon kicks Elena out.

Alone with Rose, Damon cradles her against him and induces a pleasant dream (handy skill that) where Rose is human again and in the place she's happiest. In the dream Rose is happy, the pain is gone, she's unafraid, and she's excited about maybe seeing her family or Trevor again. She thanks Damon for all he's done for her. In reality, tears run down his face as he stakes her. Once again a vampire character I like ends up dead. It's uncanny.

While the other vampires and weres get their hate on, Ty and Caroline are bonding. He's grateful to her for helping him get through his first full moon and she's happy to have been there for him. She tells him about the results of a werewolf bite and he can't believe she would risk it. But before they can get too into it Matt arrives. He misses Caroline and it seems she misses him too as she returns the kiss he initiates. But when she pulls away she's distressed and runs off. Later he confronts her about it and she blurts out that she loves him. That only confuses him more, as does her disappearing act when he looks away for a moment. But the day isn't over yet for Caroline. Waiting for her as she returns home is Ty, anxious to talk about why she risked his bite. His incomprehension of her desire to help him sets her off on a rant about how she cares about him whether he likes it or not. In the middle of it he kisses her. And she returns it. And after she pulls away she's distressed and runs inside. It's hard not to feel sorry for Caroline.

We might be feeling even sorrier for Caroline next week, though. After leaving Caroline, Ty meets with Jules at her request. He doesn't seem impressed with her or her assertion that Caroline helped kill Mason. But when Jules informs him that Caroline's been lying about there being no other vampires in Mystic Falls, Ty might be willing to overlook his distaste for Jules. Meanwhile she also tells him that a bunch of her hirsute pals are on their way to help kick vampire ass. Perfect.

Cut back to Damon as he returns home after burying Rose. Elena is waiting for him and he makes it clear she's the last person he wants to see at the moment. It comes out that he feels guilty about Rose's death because Jules had been after him, but instead of dwelling on it Damon snaps at Elena and orders her to leave. She agrees to go but not before pausing to give him a comforting hug. The look on his face ranges from confusion to anguish to near-tears. If you're an emotional sap like I am it's pretty heartbreaking to watch. And if you're not you can still appreciate the acting skills on display here.

At her place Elena finds Stefan. He's been AWOL most of the episode and it turns out he's been trying to get in touch with Isobel (which we and Elena already knew). He didn't find her but he did get in touch with--ta da!--Uncle John/Elena's biological father. This is going to be interesting. Maybe Katherine will come at him with a knife again.

The episode ends with a woman driving at night and coming across a body in the road. She gets out to see if he needs any help and it turns out to be Damon--lost (metaphorically) and drunk (literally). He compels the woman not to move and starts rambling, claiming he has a secret, saying he doesn't know if he'll kill her, and generally wallowing in a world of hurt. The secret turns out to be that he misses being human more than anything and there's (obviously) nothing he can do about it. Okay, can someone please tell me what is so great about being human that vampires are eternally brooding over no longer being among the mortal? Yeah, who could possibly prefer eternal youth and health, superhuman strength, and hordes of teenage fangirls? Especially in this mythology where vampires can walk in sunlight and killing is optional. Sorry, Damon, but get over it.

Of course he doesn't get over it. Instead he tells the woman she can go. An instant later he's grabbed her and is tearing into her neck. This is a great scene. The fast cuts and the heavy music--very nicely done; there's no doubt that Damon really is lost. (Should I worry that I find him completely hot in this scene?) The last shot is of Damon looking up, mouth bloodied, eyes dark red. Can he come back from this? Probably, but let's hope he doesn't rush it.

I still haven't decided which creature is worse: the one that's out of control and doesn't care or the one that kills deliberately but feels bad about it. Maybe it doesn't matter. But if I had to choose sides I'll always go with the vampires. I'll just have to smack them if they start whinging about not being human.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans until the vampire emerges, then dark, red eyes; dark facial veins; long fangs. A dead vampire looks grey and extra veiny.

Strengths: Super strength, speed (unless it's inconvenient to the storyline). Ability to move silently.

Weaknesses: Stakes, vervain. Sunlight unless wearing a daylight ring. Werewolf bites.

Mythology: Vampires have the ability to enter one another's heads and influence their dreams.

Sound Bites

Stefan: [warning Damon not to cause trouble] There's a lot of people here.
Damon: Damn--there goes my plan to rip her spleen out her back.

Rose: I'm sorry.
Damon: You went on a murderous rampage. It happens.

Damon: I feel, Elena, okay? And it sucks.

Damon: I can't be what other people want me to be. What she wants me to be.

The Vampire Diaries, S2 E12 "The Descent." Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Directed by Marcos Siega. From The CW.

24 January 2011

The Gates S1 E10 "Little Girl Lost"

Spoilers Ahead

I suspect if The Gates had included more episodes like "Little Girl Lost" the show might still be with us. Alas, most of the episodes were like "Identity Crisis," which is probably why it ended up on the scrap heap (you never know with networks).

We start with Claire and Dylan as they come to the terrifying realization that they can't find Emily (or Christian) anywhere. They can't turn to their fellow vampires for help so they go to Nick. His first thought is to get the FBI involved but Claire and Dylan are convinced that Christian will kill Emily if he gets any hint of that sort of thing. So it's time for a secret investigation.

While Dylan and Nick start tracking down leads, Claire is forced to stay behind in case Christian calls or returns. The menfolk follow one of Christian's aliases to a house where they find a dead couple and Emily's stuffed lion. The show gets high points for creepiness with this scene. As our heroes are trying to figure things out Christian calls Nick. At first he wants Nick to stay out of it, claiming that this is between himself, Claire, and Dylan (and that Emily is just collateral damage). But then he tells Nick to ask Claire and Dylan about St. Louis.

It turns out Dylan and Claire adopted Emily in St. Louis after Claire killed her junkie parents before discovering the infant. They decided they wanted to make things right for the baby, as well as for themselves, and they tell Nick that Emily made them human again. Claire claims she accepts responsibility for her crimes and is ready to accept any course of action Nick deems appropriate--but he just has to help them find Emily first.

The investigation back in full swing, it doesn't take them long to discover Christian's hideout. He's surprisingly easy to subdue but not quite forthcoming with information. When Dylan demands to know where Emily is, Christian claims that after what he's done with her they'll never get her back. As they continue to interrogate him, Christian turns things back on Dylan and Claire, telling stories of their evil deeds (making sure to mention that Claire has been out hunting with him recently) and asking Nick why he believes they're any better than he (Christian) is. When Claire insists they're nothing like Christian he suddenly declares he's willing to negotiate. He'll tell them where Emily is if they kill Nick. Right now.

This is definitely an interesting scene. You can imagine Nick's fear as he's trapped with two loose and desperate vampires who see him as the only thing between them and what they want most. You can relate to the vampires as well--what human parent wouldn't do anything they could to get their beloved child back? And for a second there it looks as though Dylan's going to go through with it (some nice vampire action here) but then he regains control of himself. But he hesitated long enough to show Nick that Christian is right--no vampires are completely trustworthy--not even the ones who are supposedly your friends.

The next bit is not quite as interesting. As Christian goes on about how the others are no better than he is and at least he acknowledges what he is, Nick suddenly clues in to where he took Emily. Because Christian keeps mentioning the suffering of his victims' families, Nick figures out that Christian took Emily back to her biological family. This was a little too quick and neat, as far as I'm concerned. It would have been nice if they'd spent a little more time searching for Emily.

In any case, this revelation sets Claire and Dylan up for something of a custody battle. They find Emily happily visiting with her aunt and uncle and excited about learning about her biological mother. Aunt and Uncle always believed that junkie mom took off years ago with the baby; Claire and Dylan's story is that Emily was neglected and abandoned. Of course the biological family expects "Piper" to live with them from now on. But Claire and Dylan have adoption papers and the law on their side (it's interesting to note that Nick backs the vampires on this--insisting that human Emily go back home with them even though he knows what they're capable of). Of course, auntie isn't going to give up that easily and even though she allows Emily/Piper to leave with Claire and Dylan she makes all kinds of comments about how often she'll be visiting. I'd like to know where concerned aunt was when the baby was being neglected by her addict parents--why wasn't she making a big deal then about taking care of Piper? Whatever--I'm with Dylan and Claire on this one: the family that raises you is your family. If Emily wants to know about her DNA she can wait until she's 18. In the meantime, possessive "aunt" can just back off.

Anyway, while all this is happening Sarah is at home, ticked off at Nick for his secretiveness and for taking on a case of this magnitude without telling her what was going on. She clearly doesn't like being kept out of the loop. She's also downing Devon's special "relaxing" tea like it's water.

There's also some drama among the teens. Brett wants Andie--she just wants a friend. Andie wants Charlie enough to tell him she's not quite human; he can't deal with it and cuts Andie loose. Lexi wants Brett and was using Charlie to make Andie jealous. Does anyone really care? Maybe the producers thought teens and parents would sit down and watch the show together, so they covered all the bases and threw in a bit of something for everyone. It doesn't work.

The episode ends with deputy Leigh driving out to the deserted countryside just outside the Gates and letting Christian go. Before she leaves she informs him he's not welcome back anytime soon. Christian seems pretty pleased about the situation--until he notices Claire coming out of the darkness. She's the one who arranged for his release and she makes sure she puts a stake right through his heart. And another bad guy gets what he had coming.

Aside from certain pacing issues, this really was a decent episode. The acting (aside from Emily) is good, the story is interesting, and there are some great vampire moments (plenty of fang). Unfortunately I have a feeling that'll be the last of episodes like this.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans. Long, sharp fangs when the vampire emerges.

Strengths: Super strength, speed. Heightened sense of smell.

Weaknesses: stakes, sunlight, blood lust.

Mythology: A stake straight through the heart will kill a vampire.

Sound Bites

Dylan: I should have done a proper job and finished him [Christian].

Claire: Tell him.
Dylan: [to Nick] Christian violated my wife. So I tried to kill him.

Christian: Chief Monohan, my name is Christian. May I call you Nick?

Dylan and Christian: The night is young and we have forever!

The Gates, Season 1 Episode 10 "Little Girl Lost." Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Directed by Steve Shill. From ABC.

21 January 2011

True Blood Season 4 Teaser Trailer

The teaser is well done, if minimalistic. But I've got to say it's really easy to go wrong with witches (even the great Whedon didn't get it right). I've got a bad feeling about this...

19 January 2011

True Blood S3 E11 "Fresh Blood"

Spoilers Ahead

I have a confession to make: I'm not in love with Season 3 of True Blood. I don't know if it was a weak season or if it's been tainted for me by the generally disappointing Sookie Stackhouse books or if I've simply become too critical. But other than a few standout scenes throughout the season I don't feel any burning need to go back and watch again. In fact, watching episodes a second time has left me overwhelmingly...bored. Considering I'll happily sit through Forever Knight marathons, that's just plain sad.

Anyway, the big news in "Fresh Blood" is Eric's plan for Sookie. After being chained in Fangtasia's basement, Sookie is quickly rescued by a bitter Yvetta (who is somehow pissed off because Eric didn't leave anything to her in his will). Meanwhile Bill is upstairs fighting with Pam, who is weaker than he is but is holding her own by spraying colloidal silver into his eyes. Sookie manages to overcome Pam with a silver chain and then threatens her with the colloidal silver in order to get information. Considering how much of the Magister's torture Pam withstood, she crumbles pretty quickly in the face of a little water and silver cocktail.

Eric, meanwhile, is busy confronting Russell and convincing him not to kill them all...yet. Russell is skeptical but the possibility of being able to walk in the sun (after drinking fairy--aka Sookie--blood) is too tempting to resist.

After getting away from Fangtasia Bill and Sookie have a relationship talk as she drives. Sookie claims she no longer trusts Bill or Eric. She also admits that she does have some feelings for Eric, although she doesn't believe they're anything to do with love. She and Bill then play a game of 'what-if', where their life together would be completely different (she'd be a real estate agent and he'd teach third grade). Just as Sookie declares their ideal life would be Eric-free, Eric and Russell appear in the road ahead of them. Sookie slams on the brakes and Russell brings the car to a complete stop. So much for their happy thoughts.

Back at Fangtasia, Eric has Bill start a fight with him in the parking lot while Russell escorts Sookie inside. Once they're alone Eric lets Bill in on his plan. Inside Bill is restrained while Eric informs Russell that drinking Sookie's blood will allow him to walk in the sunlight. Sookie did say she no longer trusts Bill but the way she's always so quick to think the worst of him--and even Eric--is just annoying (and senseless). Despite Bill trying to signal her with his eyes she decides the vampires are clearly sacrificing her and reacts like a bratty teenager, screaming at the top of her lungs that she hates them. I was never a huge fan of Sookie but season 3 has just killed her for me. Since killing her off isn't an option can she please be put under some kind of personality-altering spell to make her less whiny and stupid?

Anyway, Russell buys Eric's story and agrees to take Sookie's blood--if Eric will go first. Bill reminds them that if they drain her their first taste of fairy blood will also be their last. There's a sweet moment between Eric and Pam where you really get a sense of the bond between them. I'd love to see more of these. Then he approaches Sookie. Eric at least tries to be gentle, and there's another lovely moment when he caresses the side of Sookie's face. Russell of course has no patience for this and just grabs Sookie and chomps down. Eric hesitates for a second as though he wants to pull Russell off her but then his fangs come out and he bites alongside his enemy. A minute later, as everyone else watches on the security monitors, Eric steps outside into the sunlight. A look of amazement crosses his face as he steps into the light and then he turns and beckons to Russell. What Russell doesn't see is that Eric has started sizzling and is praying that Russell won't notice.

Russell is crying in joy as he walks into the light while inside Pam is crying with sorrow, knowing that her maker is about to die. Meanwhile Bill shouts at her to let him go so he can give blood to Sookie, who is now unconscious. As Russell approaches Eric, the younger vampire turns so that his scorched face comes into view. In an instant Eric has cuffed them together with silver handcuffs. Then he tells Russell to be brave: they're going to die together. Eric is kind of awesome.

In other news this episode, after his V trip with Jesus, Lafayette starts hallucinating demons; Jason decides Crystal being a werepanther is okay by him; Hoyt and Jessica resurrect their romance with a bite (good scene); Sam is drunk and angry and pisses off or alienates everyone in the bar, including Tommy who he fires and kicks out; Holly and Arlene perform a magical ritual but Arlene still doesn't lose the unwanted baby; Tara confronts Andy about lying over who shot Eggs; Tara and Sam connect emotionally and physically; Tommy breaks into Sam's office safe; and Summer and Maxine scheme to get Hoyt away from Jessica. Despite so much else going on, none of it is really that relevant this episode--although it's all clearly setting up future conflicts and storylines. Just keep the point form in mind and you'll be caught up.

I did enjoy most of the vampire scenes this episode and a couple of the human-only ones as well. But I can't get excited about any of it. There's no moment that's so fantastic it has me riveted to the screen (or anxious to watch it again). There's nothing that makes me scrutinize it from every angle and annoy all my friends with constant analyzing (actually, that's probably a good thing). I'm not saying that True Blood has been bad this season; I guess I'm just saying meh. Maybe that's worse.

Fang Files

Appearance: Super pale humans with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will. They cry blood.

Strengths: Super strength, speed, fast healing.

Weaknesses: Silver. Sunlight. Staying awake during the day.

Mythology: Vampire blood (V) is used as a powerful drug and aphrodisiac by humans. It is believed that consuming fairy blood will make a vampire immune to sunlight; in reality it only offers temporary protection.

Sound Bites

Pam: Don't leave me alone with this idiot immigrant!
Yvetta: Idiot? [laughs] In Tallinn I was cardiologist.

Russell: [after Eric tells him why he killed Talbot] My my--to lose the one man I ever loved because you miss your mommy and daddy, well that is a kick in the pants.

Tommy: [to Sam] Look at you all drunk and yelling. You're nothing but Joe Lee in a Sam suit.

Russell: Soon there will be anarchy and then there will be me.

True Blood, Season 3 Episode 11 "Fresh Blood." Written by Nancy Oliver. Directed by Daniel Minahan. From HBO.

13 January 2011

He's a doll

I'm not generally one for these kinds of collectibles (the exception being my Kill Bill Go-Go, which is just too awesome not to have) but this Damon doll looks pretty good. Not quite as smouldering as the real thing but it does come with a sun-protection ring and an intense stare. Tempting...

To find out more and pre-order your very own, click here.

12 January 2011

Moonlight S1 E13 "Fated to Pretend"

Spoilers Ahead

Woo hoo--Mick is human and Josh is gone--the stage is finally set for romance between Mick and Beth! Only, not so much. Prepare to be disappointed.

Despite it being only temporary, Mick is thoroughly enjoying being human again (see last episode), sleeping in a real bed instead of an industrial freezer, spending time in the sun without getting sick, and eating all his favourite foods. He even gets to enjoy a sunny picnic at the beach with Beth, who informs him that she's had feelings for him for a while. Mick still seems reluctant to do anything about it, though.

While Mick ponders the consequences of mortal-vampire relationships, Mo (Beth's boss) puts a damper on Beth's night by calling her into work (a hot story is about to break). But Beth's night gets worse when she finds Mo dead from a gunshot wound to the head and Mo's ever-present computer missing. She and Mick discover that Mo was in the presence of a vampire before she died, although she wasn't drained of blood. The mystery gets even more complicated when they find Mo's USB drive and discover she was working on three stories, one of which involved Josef and a charity scam. In order to find Mo's killer they're going to have to investigate the key players in all three stories, starting with Josef.

I was thrilled to see the lovely Ksenia Solo (Kenzi on Lost Girl) take on a role as a politician's daughter in one of the stories being investigated. We also get to meet the new DA, Ben Talbot (Eric Winter, The Mentalist), who starts out as kind of an ass but ends up being okay. I just hope he's not being set up as competition for Beth's affections. More likely that was the long-term plan before the show was cancelled.

The three mysteries are actually pretty interesting, particularly how they intertwine and relate to Mo's murder. Unfortunately, things really fall apart at the end with an unbelievable and clumsy conclusion. It turns out the murderer is a vampire, who--for no good reason--proceeds to vamp out in a particularly non-subtle way, kidnaps Beth and the new DA, and leaves Mick for dead. There might be an argument for kidnapping Beth, but the DA? Why not just kill the guy? And why wouldn't he check to make sure Mick was dead? How did Mick not bleed to death as he lay unconscious for two hours with a huge chunk of glass embedded in his thigh? What was the murderer doing for the hours it took for Mick to wake up, take care of his wounds, go back to his place to get weapons, and argue with Josef (including convincing Josef to turn him again since he obviously can't fight a vampire as a mortal)? Why wouldn't Josef do his best friend Mick a favour and fight the murderer on his behalf (something that would be a piece of cake for an ancient vampire like Josef) rather than turn Mick (wasting more time) and robbing him of his hard-won and much-loved humanity? Why would the killer bother blindfolding the DA (so that he doesn't end up seeing any of the vamp action that ensues when Mick and Josef eventually show up, of course). And why did it take all this for Mick to finally see the disadvantages of being human--what, he didn't already know that humans are weaker than vampires? Too many questions and no satisfying answers.

I did, however, immensely enjoy the scene where Josef turns Mick. Strange that with all the vampire shows and movies to choose from, we so rarely get to see any actual biting (often we see the lunge or the blood or the aftermath, but not the bite itself). I happen to enjoy it when vampires act like vampires and a good bite is a big part of the appeal (drinking blood out of a glass, while probably a necessity for the good guys, is just too... domesticated).

But speaking of unsatisfying, the end of the episode brings us full circle with Mick and Beth sharing another picnic, only this one is on a rooftop at night. The conversation comes around to their G-rated relationship. Mick claims he doesn't want Beth to get hurt but she turns it back on him, pointing out that maybe he's the one who doesn't want to get hurt. She calls him on using vampirism as an excuse for keeping them apart. As she stalks away he grabs her and finally kisses her. It's a good kiss too, and it looks like things are at last moving forward. Except that when it ends he tells her he still needs time to figure things out. Huh? I'm so not a fan of people (or characters) who over-think emotions (seriously, who believes you can weigh the pros and cons of love? If you feel the need to do that you're not in love). The show has officially gone from tantalizingly stretching out the tension between Mick and Beth to coming up with lame excuses to keep them apart. Fail. There are three episodes left and I'm starting to worry that Mick and Beth will never get together. So much for romance.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale humans until the vampire emerges, then ghostly white eyes with reddish bruised-looking circles around them and long, elegant fangs. Prone to growling and eerie screeches when fighting.

Strengths: Heightened senses. Super strength and speed. Ability to easily jump great heights. Ability to move silently.

Weaknesses: Sunlight (makes them increasingly sick). Stakes (paralyze).

Mythology: Cold is soothing to vampires. Vampires can eat food but it is flavourless to them. Animals are instinctively frightened of vampires. The Cleaner takes care of scenes of vampire carnage in order to keep their existence secret from humans. A blood exchange is needed to turn a human.

Sound Bites

Mick: I... am in love with her.
Josef: Yeah. Yeah you are. Now go do something about it before it's too late.

Mick: People always hide things in the last place they think anyone else is going to look.
Beth: Tampons!
Mick: Excuse me?
Beth: I always hide my nice jewellery in a box of tampons.
Mick: Yeah, okay. I'll admit that's the last place I would look.

Josef: [being questioned about Mo's death] Well, was her body found in the La Brea tar pits?
Beth: No.
Josef: That was the only person I killed this week.

Beth: How long since you've had a donut?
Mick: 1952.
Beth: Two words: Krispy Kreme.

Moonlight, Season 1 Episode 13 "Fated to Pretend." Written by Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman. Directed by David Barrett. From CBS/The CW.

07 January 2011

Pinocchio:Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater

Minor Spoilers Ahead

Those of you who are familiar with this blog know that I'm a huge fan of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer (words such as 'genius' and 'fantastic' may have been applied). So you'll have a pretty good idea of how excited I was about the sequel (hint: very). I even got a pdf review copy this time (thanks, Van!), although I'm going to have to go out and buy a hard copy too. Not just because I'm obsessive about my book collection; it was that good.

I was immediately drawn in by the cover artwork of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater (henceforth referred to as P:VS 2). The cover of the original was good but this one just blew me away. I get excited that way about art, especially when it includes a wooden puppet in a classic Shakespearean pose holding a smoking vampire skull. If that doesn't entice you to delve into the book, you probably shouldn't be reading a blog about vampires.

P:VS 2 starts off with a clever re-telling of not only the first P:VS, but also Carlo Collodi's original story. Finally--a recap that's creative and interesting rather than merely annoying exposition. From there the sequel begins and, much like P:VS, the story is full of all you would expect and more: drunken debauchery, fortune telling, armed puppets, magic, ghosts, romance, adventure on the high seas, use of the word 'vainglorious,' daring rescues, family bonds, The Merchant of Venice, and a fire eater. The further in I got the more engaging I found P:VS 2, and toward the end I was scrolling through the pages as quickly as I could to find out what would happen next. I had to go back a few times to take in the artwork as well as the action. Ultimately it ends on a cliffhanger leaving the impatient among us counting the days until the next volume comes out (no word on that yet).

The artwork is just as good as it was before (although still only in black and white), and Higgins makes good use of the page, although panels are occasionally cramped. There are some particularly nice panels--a streetscape divided into four rectangles (like a triptych, only four rather than three sections--is there a word for that?); vampire slaying displayed jaggedly; insets highlighting details. Higgins also plays with perspective, approaching scenes from different angles with much success. And of course, some of the best artwork is of Pinocchio himself (his facial expressions especially are great). It's amazing how much personality can be imbued into a character who really is wooden.

Other characters are successful to varying degrees. Some stand well on their own and are strong enough to carry the story when Pinocchio is occupied elsewhere. Others aren't well-enough developed--by the time they start getting interesting they're gone. More attention could have been paid to some of the lesser characters, given there were 177 pages to work with. The vampires also have a tendency to blend in with one another rather than having distinct personalities, although that's probably deliberate and, in any case, works in the context of a plague of bloodsucking fiends.

None of the few weaknesses I've mentioned detract from the overall awesomeness of the book. It's disappointingly seldom that a brilliant concept is well executed. I'm happy to say P:VS and P:VS 2 are exceptions to that. Hats off to Jensen and Higgins for making me root for the slayer. Let's just hope they don't make us wait too long to find out what happens next. [EDIT: According to Van it looks like P:VS 3 will be out around mid-2012. Doh.]

Fang Files

Appearance: Undead human, with ragged claws and pointed teeth. Cloaks (similar in appearance to monks' robes) are favoured attire, although they will branch out when the occasion calls for it.

Strengths: Subterfuge, strategy, blood lust, magics.

Weaknesses: Stakes, pointy wooden objects (they burst into flames when staked, then turn to dust).

Mythology: Vampires are cursed beings robbed of their humanity; they need blood to remain immortal. One drop of cursed blood will turn a mortal into a vampire. All vampires seem to owe allegiance to (and work for) "The Master."

Text Bites

Vampire: We are too many, puppet. Our master will be so pleased with a gift of your dismembered corpses.
Minion 1: Please the master!
Minion 2: Corpses!
Minion 3: Yay, it's dismembering time!

Pinocchio: I love your outfit. It's so sparkly.
Vampire: Why, thank you. I wanted something that took away from the whole morbid undead thing.
Pinocchio: [taps his elongated nose]
Vampire: Oh...

Read my review of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater; drawn by Dusty Higgins and written by Van Jensen. From SLG Publishing.

05 January 2011

Cold Blooded Vampire Ice Cube Tray

"Build it and they will come." Never a truer word spoken when it comes to the people who make the reams of vampire merchandise available to purchase. Apparently they operate under the philosophy that slapping a pair of fangs on something or using vaguely goth-esque packaging will, as the Brits say, have the punters lining up. In principle I'm not opposed to fun merchandise (hell, I'd kill for a Wolfram & Hart t-shirt or a neon Fangtasia sign) but these ice cube trays leave me cold (har har). First of all, how many of these things are you going to need to make enough drinks for you and your vamp-loving friends (one tray makes two sets of fangs)? Secondly, the result is not 'cool ice fangs' so much as Dracula's dentures in a glass of cleaning solution. Meh. But hey, if you're into them, that's all that really matters.

Cold Blooded Vampire Ice Cube Tray, $US7.99. Available here.

04 January 2011

Trailer: Midnight Son

I've got to say, of all the trailers I've seen and posted lately, Midnight Son stands out the most. From what I can tell the story looks well developed, the acting is decent, and the production values are high. And the "Midnight Son" of the movie's title is easy on the eyes, which is not always a given when it comes to vampires (although always much appreciated). Even less common in most vamp flicks are interesting human characters, which (again from what I can tell) seem to be in abundance in this movie. Definitely high on the must-see list.

Want to find out more (like how to get this film into your local theatre)? Click here.

03 January 2011

Trailer: The Death of Alice Blue

So many vampires, so little time. But I think it'll be worth fitting in The Death of Alice Blue. It's indie, it's Canadian, it's got a great tagline ("And you thought you had a dead-end job"), and it co-stars one of my favourite actors Kris Holden-Ried (currently playing Dyson on Lost Girl, but I've been a fan since I first saw him on Riverdale...) What more could you ask for?

Alice Blue website.