January 20, 2022

THE ‘HOW I MET YOUR FATHER’ STORY BEGINS—A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Should you give this reboot a shot? Based on the two episodes it premiered with this week, I think there’s enough to make it worth watching. Here’s why…


The opening of HOW I MET YOUR FATHER (HIMYF) immediately took me back to McLaren’s, where we spent so much time with Ted and Robin and Lily and Marshall and Barney in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (HIMYM). It was a pleasant surprise to find that they decided to use the title theme from the mothership, albeit a different version of it. Yes, it lacks the energy of the original ‘Hey beautiful’ by The Solids, but it still serves as a link to that universe, setting the tone for this reboot. This simple, but effective detail was lacking in other recent revivals/reboots/sequels—GOSSIP GIRL, DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, AND JUST LIKE THAT…


Speaking of which, the missing feature in the SEX AND THE CITY revival, Kim Catrall shows up in HIMYF, in 2050, looking as fabulous as Samantha Jones. It was another pleasant surprise, since we were probably expecting only a voiceover of the actress playing the older Sophie, like the late Bob Saget’s, as the older Ted Mosby. There are probably reasons why they’re not showing us Sophie’s son. But let’s not get into spoiler territory. 


The show takes then us into a very different Sophie’s life in the present day. I think they could have done more align the younger and older versions of Sophie, with a few common traits, even if a person can change significantly in 28 years. In 2022, she takes an Uber, on her way to a big date with a Tinder guy that she’s been looking forward to. In the cab, she meets Jesse and Sid—the Uber driver and his best friend, like the start of the great friendship between Robin and the gang in the original series. We subsequently meet the others, Sophie’s best friend and roommate, Valentina; Valentina’s new boyfriend, Charlie; and Jesse’s sister, Ellen. And we see the new McLaren’s—Sid’s bar, Pemberton’s. The showrunners decided against featuring McLaren’s from the original as the new gang’s hangout, so as to differentiate this show, even if they have established a different link with HIMYM. Again, let’s avoid spoilers. Also differentiating this show is the assortment within the group, which naturally reflects 2022. While the original show had all white, heterosexual, cis-gendered people in the main cast, this group is more diverse, including one LGBT person. They’ve also avoided the one jarring element from the original show that has not aged well at all—a Barney Stinson-esque character—which must have been a no-brainer.


It actually works in the reboot’s favor to have some of the soon-to-be-friends just getting to know each other, because the actors don’t seem to have immediate chemistry as one might have hoped, and like we saw in the original. And the stiffness doesn’t seem intentional, as several interactions seem quite strained. It will probably take a few episodes, if not an entire season for them to loosen up and find their grooves with each other. This doesn’t necessarily help the humor in the show at the outset, with some punchlines falling a little flat. Yet, I see potential, even if it’s not instantly captivating beyond the nostalgia factor. There’s a certain honesty in the stories that the show is trying to tell. At the heart of it, it’s being set up as a coming-of-age story of this group of inevitable friends, with a heavy dose of romantic comedy. Moreover, the formulaic format, which goes back to FRIENDS and shows that came before, can work well. And beyond the friends-become-family theme of the show, like the original, it has the hook of how the lead character met the co-parent to their child/ren. There is a bit of a spin on that hook, which keeps things a little fresh, while staying true to the original concept, and also taking the style forward.

The multi-camera sitcom style—‘taped in front of a live studio audience’—has become something of a dying art, and it’s nice to see an attempt at it, even if the laugh track doesn’t seem to be from a live audience. Yet, the familiarity of sets that are very evidently soundstages, and the confinement of the action are quite comforting—something that will be nice to sink into every week, at least for the next eight weeks.  


Hopefully there will be more than just the 10 episodes of the first season. It would be unfortunate if they have to rush into revealing who the father is, because a show like this is more about the journey than the destination, especially since it will probably take the entire first season for these characters and actors to really gel. I’m not invested in them yet, but I am looking forward to seeing more of them and how they settle into sweet spots of being more natural with each other. With the small nuggets of information we’ve already received about these characters, the show is being set up to really flesh them out. And I think that will be worth watching. It may not be the next best comedy, but it could definitely become a nice, enjoyable series that’s like comfort food, but hopefully not as predictable. 

January 10, 2022

THE ‘DEXTER: NEW BLOOD’ FINALE—A FITTING CONCLUSION

Spoiler alert: Please read on if you’ve seen the finale of DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, or if you don’t care about spoilers

The DEXTER fan in me was terribly sad when Dexter Morgan’s fate was finally revealed in Sunday’s finale of the revival series, but it was definitely a fitting conclusion, as it tackled a very big part of the central character’s journey

 

When it was announced that DEXTER would be revived, a part of me was glad that we would get a chance to see a conclusion different from what we saw with the end of the original series back in 2013. However, I was more thrilled as a fan of the show, and the captivating world it used to take us into season after season. Sure, the last couple of seasons were quite messy and lacked the quality and sharpness of the first few years, but it was still an entertaining ride, right to the end. The end itself though was way too much of a downer—the darkest part being the death of Debra Morgan, who was my favorite part, and arguably, the heart of the show.

 

No revival was going to bring her back to life, but DEXTER: NEW BLOOD did a pretty good job of including her. It was a simple but very effective way to bring Jennifer Carpenter back as Deb—using her as the voice of reason in Dexter’s mind, just like Harry Morgan had been through the original series. Moreover, Dexter’s imagining of his late sister was very true to who she was—blunt, sharp-tongued, and always saying it like it is. In fact, Debra’s retorts in Dexter’s mind were significantly more entertaining and fun than Harry’s ever were, and imaginably so, since he was more about the code, while Debra was more about calling Dexter out on his nonsense. It was a perfect refresh to the tool that was used to shed light on the protagonist’s state of mind. And it worked especially in this revival, because there were several moments in it when Dexter conveniently twisted the code in order to suit his urges, while slipping off the wagon, after ‘staying sober’ for so many years.

This was also what led us to question whether one could really root for this Dexter, who lacked a sense of process and slickness, which was what made him such a fascinating anti-hero to root for earlier. In that sense, we could already see the flaws in Dexter that Harrison would eventually see, and begin to question his new-found ‘dark-passenger’ bond with his estranged dad. That, I’ll admit was a little too rushed towards the end of the season. In just a couple of episodes, we went from Dexter telling Harrison the truth, to Harrison leaning on his dad, to Dexter making him view the gruesomeness of his kills and Harrison becoming disillusioned in the end. It was a rich turn of events, and was the right way to go in terms of what was to happen, even if the how of it was expedited a bit too much.


The Harrison angle itself was the best possible hook for a revival series, especially if it wasn’t going to bring back any of the original series’ characters. With Debra dead, of course, there wasn’t much else to bring back. However, Harrison was a link to Dexter’s past that could not be severed, despite a decade between the father and son. And the damaged nature of Harrison as he begins to understand the man that he’s growing into was a perfect way of bringing this character into the revival. Jack Alcott’s extremely sincere and endearing portrayal made the character work almost instantly when he first arrived in Iron Lake. And it probably even helped us suspend our disbelief when father and son all too conveniently slipped into a regular life and routine, after barely touching upon Dexter’s abandonment. Harrison’s need to belong and his desperation for affection and family probably overrode his desire for answers. And then, the show quickly shifted focus to him being more concerned about his darkness than about how his father left him. It’s not like they forgot about it completely, but it was ignored for the most part. 


Thereafter, the mirroring of a complicated father-son bond in the whole Kurt Caldwell storyline might have been a bit on-the-nose, but in retrospect, it was simply a driver as ‘big bad’ storyline that actually wasn’t the focus of the series at all. Still it wouldn’t have hurt if the villain had been a little more compelling and captivating while they were at it. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that Caldwell as a character was among the weakest DEXTER villains we’ve seen in all nine seasons of the original and the revival combined. Hence, it was almost a relief that his story was put to rest before the finale.

The finale itself was intense, and brought out the best in Angela as a character who was a formidable part of the revival. And it was effective conclusion to the series that was essentially about a very damaged and complicated father-son relationship. Harrison seemed horrified upon seeing Dexter chop up Caldwell more than anything he had already seen, and one got the feeling that he was questioning whether he could really relate with his father, who had probably revealed too much too soon. And Dexter’s killing of Logan did seem like it would be the most off-putting thing for Harrison. Was killing his dad a difficult thing and a bit extreme for Harrison to do? Definitely, but he did have some darkness, a violent streak, and had begun to understand the ‘code’. So it wasn’t too far-fetched, especially if you think of what humans are capable of doing in the heat of the moment, when they’re not necessarily thinking straight (remember when Deb shot LaGuerta?). Even Dexter acted recklessly in killing Logan, but it was clear that he’d been thrown by the mention of Batista, and wasn’t exactly thinking strategically. It was all just the situation getting away from these characters.


Is it possible that Harrison would regret killing his father, even though Dexter pretty much gave him his blessings? Absolutely. There’s a lot to unpack with that character still. While he may have got some closure about his father and the abandonment, he’s still to come to terms with who he is, after he understands it completely, and make peace with what he’s just done. So there is potential for NEW BLOOD to continue. The obvious way forward would be for Harrison to embrace some kind of a dark passenger, while Dexter becomes his voice of reason. However, after he realized how much he disapproved of his father’s actions, would he continue to embrace the darkness and the killer within? That would be a tricky path to tread, if at all there might be more. I’d be up for it, even if I’m not sure what a continuation of this story might look like without the now late titular killer doing what he does.

Rest in peace, Dexter Morgan.

September 23, 2021

ADDISON MONTGOMERY: 10 ‘PRIVATE PRACTICE’ EPISODES YOU MUST WATCH BEFORE SHE RETURNS TO ‘GREY’S ANATOMY’

This is meant essentially for those who didn’t follow the GREY’S ANATOMY spinoff, PRIVATE PRACTICE, which was centered on Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, after she left Seattle at the end of GREY’S season three... A cheat sheet of episodes that will help you catch up with the character’s story that you might have missed, and would want to know the highlights of, before we see her again on GREY’S ANATOMY


A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Kate Walsh was going to reprise her role as Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery in the 18th season of GREY’S ANATOMY, much to the delight of fans of Addison, such as yours truly! A lot of us loved her through her short two-season role in GREY’S. We all know how she made her splashing entrance during the tail-end of the season one finale, and how she left Seattle to relocate to Los Angeles at the end of season three, hence exiting the show. However, not all GREY’S fans actually watched PRIVATE PRACTICE, the spinoff that Addison became the lead of, which ran for six seasons. Over those six years, those who only continued to follow GREY’S saw her occasionally in Seattle through seasons four to nine of GREY’S, as Addison made appearances during crossover episodes. If that’s all you saw of her, you may have briefly got glimpses of where she was in her life, what her career looked like, and so on. However, her role in those episodes were mostly about the patients that brought her back to Seattle. There may have been some nostalgia between Addison and Mark Sloan, and between Addison and Derek Shepherd, but it had little to do with updating the GREY’S audience with her life as it was. In fact, the last time we saw her in GREY’S ANATOMY, she was playing an alternate version of herself in an ‘alternate reality’ episode that imagined a different scenario for several characters back then. (Incidentally, nine of the series regulars that season are no longer a part of GREY’S presently.) Addison was clearly in the rear-view mirror for GREY’S, and didn’t even make an appearance when PRIVATE PRACTICE was about to end, nor was she mentioned by the folks in Seattle. 

Now it’s been a while since even PRIVATE PRACTICE ended, so even those of us who did watch the spinoff have not seen her since that show ended back in 2013. That was when season nine of GREY’S was on. According to the GREY’S timeline, it means that even for those of us who saw her in PRIVATE PRACTICE, it’s been over nine years in the life of that character. Any number of things could have happened since then. The writers could make her backstory anything they choose to, for it to serve their plans for the character in the present day. And what we’ll see of Addison in GREY’S season 18 could be an Addison even PRIVATE PRACTICE viewers won’t recognize.

Yet, some of you who didn’t watch that spinoff, might want to know the key highlights of that already-established backstory that wasn’t seen on GREY’S ANATOMY. One option is to binge all of PRIVATE PRACTICE (you’ll also discover a whole lot about Amelia Shepherd in the process). However, that’s over 100 episodes. So why don’t I just help by narrowing it down to the episodes that give us the most significant milestones of Addison Montgomery through her six years in PRIVATE PRACTICE. They will help you gain insights into Addison’s relationships with her parents, and especially with Amelia Shepherd, her sister-in-law, who was a very important person in her life when they were both in Los Angeles. These episodes will also show you how she met and married Jake Reilly, and how she came to be a mother to Henry.

These are the episodes you should to try and watch before Addison returns to GREY’S sometime during the 18th season (which might just be in next week’s premiere itself; we don’t know). The episodes are categorized into ‘must watch’, ‘should watch’ and ‘additional viewing’. There are 25 in total, but only 10 are must-watch episodes. You can skip the others if you like. 

Episode synopses, courtesy: IMDb and Wikipedia

Season 2, episode 15: ‘Acceptance’ | ADDITIONAL VIEWING

When Addison’s brother Archer suffers a seizure, Addison and her best friend and colleague Naomi search for a cause and a cure. In their quest they call Derek Shepherd for help.

GREY’S ANATOMY season 5, episode 15: ‘Before and after’ | ADDITIONAL VIEWING

Naomi, Sam and Addison rush Archer Montgomery to Seattle Grace and meet with Derek and Mark to save his life.

Season 3, episode 9: ‘The parent trap’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison performs a complex in utero surgery, proving not only her talents to her father but also finally giving them some common ground.

Season 3, episode 10: ‘Blow-ups’ | MUST WATCH

Tensions rise even higher between Addison and her father, ‘the Captain’, when her mother, Bizzy shows up. Addison walks in on Bizzy kissing a woman, Susan, who's been Bizzy's personal assistant for 20 years. Addison struggles to come to terms with both her mother's lesbianism and the realization that the Captain is not quite the scoundrel Addison assumed him to be.

Season 3, episode 13: ‘Shotgun’ | ADDITIONAL VIEWING

Things heat up between Addison and Sam as they develop true feelings for each other, but Addison is determined not to hurt Naomi.

Season 3, episode 19: ‘Eyes wide open’ | MUST WATCH

When famed neurosurgeon Dr. Ginsberg and her team pay a visit to St. Ambrose to save the life of Kayla, Addison is shocked to see Amelia Shepherd, Derek's younger sister, on the team. But Amelia's presence causes strife between Addison, Sam and Pete when she claims she can save Kayla's life after Dr. Ginsberg declares nothing can be done.

Season 4, episode 2: ‘Short cuts’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison decides that she and Sam can't keep their relationship a secret, and tries to tell Naomi, but doesn't until the end of the day resulting in Naomi telling her to back her up with the merger. Addison also pushes Amelia to go visit Derek, eventually buying a plane ticket for her to go to Seattle.

Season 4, episode 13: ‘Blind love’ | MUST WATCH

After Susan collapses at the wedding, Addison rushes to save her life. While talking to Susan, Addison finds that she is going to die and calls Bizzy. Susan flat-lines when Bizzy arrives, and Addison does not help her because of the DNR she signed, enraging Bizzy. Addison finds her mother in her hotel room dead, after committing suicide because of Susan's death.

Season 4, episode 14: ‘Home again’ | SHOULD WATCH

After Bizzy's death, Addison heads to Connecticut to arrange her funeral. After coming back to the practice Sam and everyone else realize that they should all be with Addison for support and head to her side, except Sheldon and Violet. When finding out that Bizzy had already arranged her own funeral, Addison is surprised to find that she had arranged for her to give the eulogy.

Season 4, episode 19: ‘What we have here…’ | SHOULD WATCH

Sam and Addison contemplate whether or not to break up, because of Addison wanting a baby, and Sam not wanting a baby. Violet finds out that Katie dropped the lawsuit, but now the medical board is reviewing her license and she could lose everything.

Season 4, episode 22: ‘…To change the things I can’ | MUST WATCH

Addison decides to take her life in a new direction and try things that she has never done, so she begins talking to a man, Jake Reilly, whom she met in the supermarket, eventually accepting a date with him. She even accepts an offer to go to Fiji with him, but does she go?

Season 5, episode 5: ‘Step one’ | MUST WATCH

Addison starts IVF treatments with Jake and decides that she isn't going to tell Sam until she's pregnant. She begins acting hormonal because of the IVF, and eventually does tell Sam.

Season 5, episode 6: ‘If I hadn’t forgotten’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison takes one step closer to motherhood when she finally chooses a sperm donor.

Season 5, episode 8: ‘Who we are’ | MUST WATCH

The Seaside Wellness group stages an intervention for a defensive and volatile Amelia Shepherd, who has resurfaced after disappearing on a 12-day drug binge with her boyfriend, Ryan. During the intervention, Amelia mercilessly attacks her friends one-by-one, and Addison, in particular, has trouble seeing her sister-in-law in her present condition.

Season 5, episode 10: ‘Are you my mother?’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison seeks out adoption when she finds out that there is no longer a chance of her getting pregnant. She meets with a woman who is seeking someone to adopt her baby; later that day Addison gets paged to the delivery room where the woman gives birth, and is heart-broken when the woman doesn't pick her to adopt her baby. Addison and Sam decide to break up.

Season 5, episode 13: ‘The time has come’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison and Jake go to a medical conference, and Addison gets drunk and pursues Jake, but tells her she isn't ready for sex.

Season 5, episode 16: ‘Andromeda’ | SHOULD WATCH

Jake reveals to Addison that he has feelings for her, while Amelia is revealed to be about twenty weeks pregnant.

Season 5, episode 18: ‘It was inevitable’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison tries to show Amelia that having a baby is one of the most wonderful things in the world, when Amelia continues to put off an ultrasound. Amelia eventually agrees. Later, Addison gets a call about a woman who picked Addison to be the adoptive parent of her baby.

Season 5, episode 20: ‘True colors’ | ADDITIONAL VIEWING

Sam begins to realize he still feels obligated to help Addison with Henry even though they aren't in a relationship anymore.

Season 5, episode 22: ‘Gone, baby, gone’ | MUST WATCH

All of the doctors of Seaside Health and Wellness go to Amelia's aid when she begins labor, but everyone is forced to put their personal feelings aside when Jake tells them that Amelia wanted to give her baby's organs up to other babies. After hearing Amelia in pain, Addison goes into help her. Addison and Jake sleep with each other after Amelia's surgery. Later, Sam proposes to Addison, proclaiming he's ready to have a family with her.

Season 6, episode 2: ‘Mourning sickness’ | MUST WATCH

Addison gets a call from Derek, who tells her that Mark Sloan was taken off life support, after which she tells Amelia, and confesses she wants Amelia to take care of Henry if she were to die.

Season 6, episode 3: ‘Good grief’ | MUST WATCH

Addison continues to grieve over Mark, and doesn't know if she should talk to Jake about it, but eventually decides to tell him everything about her past.

Season 6, episode 6: ‘Apron strings’ | SHOULD WATCH

Addison gets worried when Henry's biological mother comes back and starts wanting to see Henry more and more. Later, Addison finds out she is being sued. After Addison's mentor finds out that she is dying, she gets her affairs together, only for Addison to find out that the mentor had a daughter, and promises to hand deliver a letter to her. When Addison returns to visit her mentor, she finds that she has died, and goes to find her daughter to explain everything that had happened. At home Addison proposes to Jake.

Season 6, episode 7: ‘The world according to Jake’ | SHOULD WATCH

After Jake doesn't say anything in response to Addison's proposal, she makes him promise to never say anything about it again. After gaining some perspective and ‘talking to’ his late wife, he eventually tells Addison that if she still wants to spend the rest of her life with him, then she should ask him again. She does and is presented with an engagement ring.

Season 6, episode 13: ‘In which we say goodbye’ | MUST WATCH

Addison marries Jake, and she adjusts to married life, while there are major life events for others, including Amelia. The friends and colleagues at the practice say goodbye.


As someone who really liked how her story in PRIVATE PRACTICE ended, I just hope bringing her back to GREY’S doesn’t mean they undo her ‘happy ending’. In fact, it would be a pleasant surprise if we even see Henry and Jake as well. Now wouldn’t it be nice to see Benjamin Bratt on GREY’S ANATOMY!