Friday, February 26, 2010

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) Photo Gallery

Below are images from the upcoming HBO miniseries about World War II U.S. Marines called, "THE PACIFIC". Produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman; the miniseries stars James Badge Dale, Jon Seda and Joseph Mazello:

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) Photo Gallery

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"THE ILLUSIONIST" (2006) Review

Below is a review I had written on the 2006 movie, "THE ILLUSIONIST":

”THE ILLUSIONIST” (2006) Review

Neil Burger wrote and directed this loose adaptation of Steven Millhauser's story called "Eisenheim the Illusionist”. This story about a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna starred Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell.

The movie’s plot focused upon the romance that had first formed between the magician Eisenheim (Norton) and his childhood friend, the socially superior Sophie, Duchess von Teschen (Biel) – a romance that ends up threatening the political plans of Crown Prince Leopold of Austria-Hungary (Sewell) and Chief Inspector Uhl’s position with the Vienna police and his role as the Crown Prince’s henchman. ”THE ILLUSIONIST” began in the middle of the story – with Chief Inspector Uhl revealing Eisenheim ‘s background and childhood friendship with Sophie. The movie continued with the events that led to the Crown Prince’s interest in the magician – Eisenheim’s arrival in Vienna, his reunion with Sophie during a performance and a special performance by the magician for the Crown Prince and his entourage, in which Eisenheim embarrasses the prince for a brief moment. Sophie appears at Eisenheim’s quarters to warn him about his actions at the royal palace. The two end up declaring their feelings for one another by making love. After Sophie reveals Crown Prince’s Leopold’s reasons for proposing marriage – he needs her Hungarian family connections to build a power base strong enough to usurp his father from the Imperial throne – both come to the conclusion that Leopold would never let her go. Even if they decide to make a run for it, the prince would hunt them down and kill them. Realizing this, Eisenheim decides to unfold plans that would allow Sophie to escape from Leopold’s clutches and guarantee the couple’s future safety and happiness.

I have never read Millhauser’s story about Eisenheim. But I must admit that I became enamored of Burger’s cinematic adaptation since the first time I saw it. The story possessed many elements that made it entertaining and unique for me. One, it had plenty of romance, due to the romance between Eisenheim and Sophie; along with the love triangle between the two and Crown Prince Leopold. It had intrigue from the plot centered around the Crown Prince’s efforts to rid Eisenheim as a rival for not only Sophie’s affections, but those of the Austrian people. It had mystery thanks to Eisenheim’s mind-blowing magic, Chief Inspector Uhl’s attempts to expose it, and the tragic events that dominate the film’s latter half. And Crown Prince Leopold’s plans to dethrone his father, along with his competition with Eisenheim for the Viennese public’s affections gave the movie a political tone. It simply had everything and Burger managed to combine it all with a superb script.

The cast in ”THE ILLUSIONIST” contributed to the movie’s superior quality, as well. Edward Norton was superb as the magician Eisenheim. Despite being the movie’s main character, he did a great job in conveying the character’s many personality facets – including his love for Sophie (which makes this role one of Norton’s most romantic), and his contempt toward both Crown Prince Leopold and Chief Inspector Ulh Even more importantly, Norton managed to convey some of these emotional aspects of Eisenheim’s personality, while retaining the man’s enigmatic nature. Jessica Biel literally glowed as Sophie, Duchess von Teschen. Frankly, I believe the character might be one of her best roles. Biel had portrayed Sophie more than just an elegant and charming woman from the Austro-Hungarian ruling class. She revealed Sophie’s inner sadness from her earlier disrupted relationship with Eisenheim and fear of facing a lifetime with the odious Crown Prince. Speaking of which . . . kudos to Rufus Sewell for portraying one of the most complex screen villains in recent years. Sewell’s Leopold was not simply a one-note villain who sneered at everyone he deemed inferior to himself. The actor portrayed the prince as an ambitious and emotional man who desired respect and even love from the public and those close to him. Yet, despite this desire, he seemed capable of returning such feelings to others, especially Sophie, due to his arrogance and vindictive nature. But if you had asked me which performance in ”THE ILLUSIONIST” really impressed me, I would have to say Paul Giamatti as Chief Inspector Walter Uhl. Giamatti either had the bad or good luck – it depends upon one’s point of view – to portray the most complex character in the movie. This is a man torn between his curiosity over Einheim’s talent as a magician, his ambition to be more than just a policeman, and his sense of justice and outrage toward the tragic event revealed in the second half. Giamatti’s Chief Inspector Ulh is a man literally torn apart over toward whom he should direct his loyalty. And the actor did a superb job in portraying every nuance in the character. In my opinion, he managed to dominate the film without being its main star.

I really do not have much to say about the film’s production values. Granted, production designer Ondrej Nekvasil; along with costume designer Ngila Dickson, and art directors Stefan Kovacik and Vlasta Svoboda, did an admirable job of re-creating turn-of-the-century Vienna on the screen. And yet . . . aside from Dickson’s elegant costumes, I found the movie’s Viennese setting to be slightly colorless. And empty. The setting lacked the color of that particular period shown in other movies like 1969’s ”THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU, LTD” and 1976’s ”THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION”.

Despite my complaint against the film’s colorless production designs, I have to give kudos to Neil Burger for writing a rich adaptation of Millhauser’s story. He also did an excellent job of conveying his vision of the story through his direction of the crew and a cast of talented actors that included Norton, Biel, Sewell and Giamatti. ”THE ILLUSIONST” is a beautiful and mysterious love story filled with magic and political intrigue. After nearly four years, I still find it enjoyable to watch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"When Irish Eyes Are Talaxian" [R] - 4/9


Part 4

It did not take Neelix very long to brew a fresh pot of his special blend of coffee. However, he felt surprised that someone would actually request a cup. Or a pot. Being a shrewd person, the crew's preference for replicated coffee over his own had not escaped his notice. Nor the pot of freshly brewed coffee that always seemed partially full. Even when Captain Janeway visited the Mess Hall.

Neelix filled an empty canister with the brew. The doors to the Mess Hall slid open. "Seven," he greeted the newly arrived ex-Borg. "What are you doing here?"

Seven-of-Nine slowly weaved as she walked toward the galley. "Neelix." She regarded the Talaxian with heavy-lidded eyes. Neelix noticed that she did not seem her usual precise self. "Have you seen . . .?" The former drone scanned the Mess Hall, wobbling on her high heels.

"Seven, are you feeling well?" Neelix asked.

The blond woman gripped the edge of the galley's counter to steady herself. Her usually confident voice now slurred. "Of course, I'm fine." She flapped her hand in the air. "I'm merely . . ." Again, she glanced around. A conspiratorial smile touched her lips. "I'm . . . I'm merely looking for some . . . have you seen the Commander?"

One of Neelix's bushy brows quirked upward. "The Commander? You're looking for Commander Tuvok?"

"No! No!" Seven shook her head. Several strands of her well-coiffered hair loosened. "Not that commander."

The only other commander aboard Voyager happened to be the First Officer. Only why was the obviously inebriated Seven searching for Chakotay? "Ah! If you are referring to Commander Chakotay, I haven't seen . . ."

Once more the Mess Hall's doors slid open. "Neelix!" A jovial Harry Kim burst into the room with one of the Delaney sisters on his arm. Which one, Neelix had no idea. Wearing a huge grin on his face, Ensign Kim continued, "There he is! The man of the hour! Say Neelix, do you have any more Valax around?" His eyes focused on the canister sitting on the galley's countertop. "Is that it?" Ensign Delaney giggled.

Neelix sighed and replied, "Not exactly, Harry. This is coffee." He picked up the canister and shook it. "Would you and Ensign Delaney like a cup?"

Harry dismissed the offer with a wave of his hand and leaned over the countertop. "Are you sure there's no Valax? Jenny and I were looking forward to more." His eyes fell upon the ex-Borg. Harry smiled. "Seven! What are you doing here?"

An annoyed expression flitted across Seven's face. She heaved a gust of breath. "Why is everyone so conce . . . con . . . concerned . . . over my pres-s-sence in the Mess Hall?"

"I'm not," Jenny Delaney replied cattily. She received a glare from the former drone.

Neelix added, "Actually, Seven is looking for Co . . ."

"Who cares?" Harry said, interrupting the Talaxian. He leered at the blond woman, much to his companion's displeasure. "Say Seven, how about joining me for a little bottle of Valax in Holodeck Two?"

"Hey!" Something like a cross between a pout and a frown appeared on Ensign Delaney's face. "What about me? I'd like some Valax too!"

Harry shrugged. "Okay. Both of you can join me. I won't mind."

The stellar cartographer slapped the Ops officer's shoulder. "I would. I'm not in the habit of sharing my men!"

Seven snorted, taking Neelix by surprise. He had never heard the ex-Borg snort before. "Why not?" she shot back. "It seems to be the only way you can attract a man."

Something like a growl escaped Ensign Delaney's mouth. "Why you Borg bitch!" She released Harry's arm and started toward Seven with hands formed into claws.

Time to end this fight before it starts, Neelix thought. Forever the diplomat, he stepped in between the two women. "Now ladies," he began, "there is no need for this fighting. It's unbecoming on a Starfleet ves. . ." Seven shoved him out of the way, causing Neelix to slam against the galley's counter. Soon, she and Jenny were engaged in a catfight. By some miracle, Ensign Delaney managed to hold out against the former drone. Neelix wondered if the Valax had affected Ensign . . .

The sound of rattling pots and pans cut into the Talaxian's thoughts. He glanced across the countertop and spotted Ensign Kim rummaging through his galley. "Ensign Kim. Harry! What are you . . . Harry, there is no more Valax!" Neelix sighed and realized that the young officer had not heard him. "Mister Kim! Please, I need your help." Realizing he would not receive any from the Ops Chief, Neelix tapped his combadge. "Neelix to Andrews. I need your help in the Mess Hall. There seemed to be a . . ." A fist snaked out and clipped the Talaxian's chin. Darkness soon followed.


Yellow-orange eyes snapped open. Tom sighed with relief at the sight of his friend gaining consciousness. "Neelix? Are you awake?"

The Talaxian slowly eased into a sitting position. Blinked his eyes several times. "Where . . . where am I?" He glanced around.

"Sick Bay," Tom replied. He explained that Ensign Andrews had responded to a summons from the Mess Hall. Which led to the discovery of an unconscious Neelix stretched across the floor. "He beamed you to Sick Bay. What happened?"

Shock welled inside Tom, while Neelix revealed a fight between Seven-of-Nine and Jenny Delaney. Over Ensign Harry "Eager" Kim. Tom could not believe his ears.
The Doctor, on the other hand, looked concerned. "Seven didn't injure Ensign Delaney, did she?"

"No. I'd say that the fight was evenly matched." Neelix swung around, until his legs dangled from the biobed. The EMH pressed a hypospray filled with anglesic into his neck. "Surprisingly, Ensign Delaney managed to hold her own against Seven."

Recalling his wrestling match against Megan Delaney, Tom was not surprised. Fermented Leola root mixed with alcohol, obviously brought out brute strength in female stellar cartographers of Irish descent. A voice from the other side of Sick Bay cried out, "That's my sister!" Megan erupted into a burst of giggles and then demanded a cup of Irish coffee.

"Irish coffee?" Neelix repeated, looking confused.

The Doctor dismissed the question with a wave. "Another Earth drink," he said airily. "Where is the coffee you were suppose to prepare?"

"I guess . . ." Neelix glanced around once more and shrugged. "I guess it's still back in the Mess Hall. I could go get it . . ."

Right on cue, the doors to Sick Bay slid open. The tall, dark figure of Ensign Andrews strode inside. "I came to check on Neelix," his deep voice rumbled. "He might be looking for these." Andrews held up a silver carafe in each hand.

"The coffee!" Neelix cried happily. He took the carafes from Andrews and handed them to the EMH. "Here you go, Doctor. Of course, I'm still curious as to why you require my coffee."

The Doctor sniffed. "You'll see." He filled a cup with Neelix's coffee and added several drops of the new inaprovaline from a hypospray. "Here you go, Ensign," he said, handing the cup to Megan. "It's that Irish coffee you wanted."

Megan glanced at the cup in the Doctor's hand with suspicious eyes. "That doesn't look like coffee. And the whipped cream is still missing!"

Tom decided it was time to butt in and took the coffee from the Doctor. "It doesn't need whipped cream," he added in a whisper. "This is Neelix's special blend of Irish coffee. With Valax." He gave Megan the full blast of his blue eyes. "Won't you try it for me? Please? I gave Neelix the recipe."

"We-el-ll," Megan slurred. She smiled and burst into giggles. "All right, Tommy. Just for you."

The Doctor muttered, "Oh please!" Tom seared him with a death glare worthy of Kathryn Janeway and Owen Paris, combined.

Megan took a cautionary sip. "Hmm!" she murmured. "I can even taste the Valax." She then proceeded to consume the rest of the coffee. The four men held their breaths. Megan smiled and declared, "Now that's good coffee!" before she weaved slightly and slumped to the floor. The empty cup rattled beside her.

"It worked!" the Doctor crowed.

Both Neelix and Ensign Andrews looked confused. "What worked?" the former asked.

Tom explained the Doctor's antidote for the Valax. "Apparently, this version of inaprovaline only works orally and with your coffee. How soon can you make more?"

"I'll get on it right away," Neelix replied. He slipped off his biobed. "Meanwhile, I'll serve this coffee," he waved the other carafe in the air, "to Harry, Seven and Ensign Delaney in the Mess Hall."

Andrews spoke up. "They're not there. At least they weren't when I found you."

Tom sighed. The entire situation was fast transforming into a major headache. Harry, Seven and Jenny's disappearances meant more people to search for outside the Holodeck. He took the carafe that the Doctor held and handed it to Ensign Andrews. And he grabbed the other one from the Talaxian and placed several drops of inaprovaline inside. "Okay Neelix, you return to the Mess Hall and begin making more coffee. Doc, give him the inaprovaline, so he can add it into the coffee. Also, help us search for more stragglers. Neelix, once you finish making that coffee, get hold of the Security detail and all of you can serve it to those already inside Holodeck One. Meanwhile, Andrews and I will . . ."

"Jarvis to Andrews," a female's voice crackled from the Security ensign's combadge. "I've found Lieutenant Torres."

Before Andrews could respond, Tom interrupted. "Paris to Jarvis. Where is she?"

"Inside Jeffries Tube 37, Deck 3."

Tom ordered the computer to initiate a site-to-site transport of B'Elanna from the Jeffries tube to Sickbay. "Unable to comply," the computer's voice responded coolly. "Transporters are off-line."

"One. . .two. . .three. . ." Tom muttered under his breath, utilizing the meditation exercises his wife had learned from Tuvok. He never thought he would have to use them. Until today. He finally calmed down and tapped his combadge. "Paris to Engineering. Can someone please explain why the transporters are down?"

Joe Carey responded, "Sorry Tom, but we had to re-route power from the transporters and the replicator system. The ship's external sensors proved to be even more damaged than we thought. And that last ion storm also damaged part of the inertial dampners."

"Wonderful." Tom turned to the others. "I'll be in Jeffries Tube 37 if any of you need me. Meanwhile, I suggest that all of you see to your tasks." He quickly marched out of Sickbay. Both Neelix and Andrews followed close at his heels. The trio soon came upon Turbolift 2 and Tom pushed the button to summon it. "I swear to God," he murmured under his breath, "if I have to go through another day like this . . ."

Neelix asked, "Did you say something, Tom?"

"Huh? Oh, nothing Neelix. I was just . . ." Tom immediately clamped his mouth shut as the turbolift doors opened. Sprawled inside was Voyager's answer to a male model - Ensign Larson. Who wore nothing below the belt and a satiated expression on his face.

"Heavens!" Neelix exclaimed. "What happened to him?"

Tom smirked. "Isn't it obvious? Looks like someone finally got his or her way with the ensign. Not that he seemed to be complaining."

"What's that he's holding?" Andrews added. He stepped inside the lift and removed a small object from Larson's hand. "It looks like a hair comb. Does anyone know to whom it belongs to?" He held it up for the others to see.

The smirk on Tom's face immediately disappeared. He had last seen that comb stuck in Kathryn Janeway's auburn tresses. And he was not the only one who recognized it. "That belongs to the Captain!" Neelix declared. "How did Larson . . .?"

"I think we can pretty much guess how he got his hands on it," Tom curtly interrupted. He took the comb from Andrews and gave the other two men his version of the Paris stare. "Now, as far as we are all concerned, this never happened and we have no idea of who owns this comb or how it ended up with Larson. Clear?"

Neelix frowned. "Yeah, but . . ."

"I understand perfectly," Andrews replied stoically.

The two Starfleet officers stared at Neelix. Who immediately caved under the hard stares. "Neelix?" Tom said. The Talaxian nodded and Tom relaxed. "Okay. Andrews, help me get Larsons to the Doc. And Neelix . . . well, you know what to do."

While Tom and Andrews lugged the heavy ensign back to Sickbay, dark thoughts ran rampant through the pilot's mind. One day, he promised himself. Somehow, he would pay B'Elanna back for talking him into volunteering for Command duty. And when he did, she had better look out.


After he and Ensign Andrews delivered Larson to Sickbay, Tom headed for Jeffries Tube 37, on Deck 3. There, he found Crewman Jarvis standing next to the opened hatch. Tom heard loud sobbing emitting from inside. B'Elanna.

"I don't know how long she's been here, Lieutenant," the tall woman said to Tom. "I was just passing by when I heard loud crying and found Lieutenant Torres inside. I tried to convince her to leave, but . . ." Jarvis ended her litany with a shrug.

Tom nodded and climbed inside the Jeffries Tube. There he found his wife huddled against the tube's wall. Tears flowed from her eyes and she was using her skirt's hem to wipe them away. Tom sighed. This does not promise to be easy. "B'Elanna," he called softly. "B'Elanna, it's me. Tom. It's time to go."

B'Elanna shot back in an emotional voice, "Leave me alone!" Ah, Tom thought to himself. It heartened him to hear a touch of Klingon in her tone.

"I won't go away. You need help. The Valax that Neelix made is affecting you." Tom held out his hand. "C'mon. Why don't you join me? So you can get a little help."

Sable eyes filled with tears, stared at Tom. "Why should I? You don't want me. You want . . ." Loud sobs filled the Jeffries tube. "You want he-e-er!"

A thump against the tube's hatch reminded Tom that Crewman Jarvis stood just outside and could hear everything. He crawled back to the entrance and ordered the guard to join the search for other stragglers from the Holodeck.

"But sir," Jarvis countered, "the transporters are down. Won't you need help in getting Lieutenant Torres to Sickbay?" Despite her words of assistance, Tom thought he detected curiosity and a touch of smugness in the guard's eyes. Jarvis seemed anxious learn the identity of 'her'.

Tom retorted, "I can get her out on my own, Jarvis. Check with Neelix in the Mess Hall He might need your help."

"But sir . . ."

"That's an order, Crewman!" Tom barked in his best Paris command voice.

The security guard flinched. "Yes sir." Then she gave Tom a nervous nod before leaving. Probably to spread the word to her fellow guards that Lieutenant Paris' roving eye had resurrected. Tom wondered how long it would take to live down this latest rumor-in-the-making.

Another sob from B'Elanna interrupted Tom's thoughts. He crawled closer to his wife. "B'Elanna? B'Elanna, please! There's no 'her'. Just you and me. Sweetheart?"

"Huh?" B'Elanna peered suspiciously through her tears. "What did you call me?"


B'Elanna continued in a wavering voice. "You never called me 'sweetheart' before. Is that what you call . . . call Me-ea-gaa-an!" More sobs wracked her small frame.

"How did you know that was . . . ?" Tom sighed. "Never mind." He never realized that B'Elanna was capable of so many tears. "B'Elanna . . . B'El . . . B'Elanna, please stop crying! You have nothing to cry about! Nothing happened between Megan and me. I swear!" Loud sniffles from his wife followed Tom's declaration. He reached out to touch her arm. "B'Elanna . . ." She shrank back. "B'Elanna, I promise you there is nothing going on between me and Megan. Nor have I ever called her sweetheart."

"Then why were . . . were you kissing her?"

Tom took a deep breath. The memory of his wrestling match with Megan loomed in his mind. "I wasn't kissing her," he finally said. He crawled even closer to his wife. "I was . . . defending myself."

B'Elanna replied in a passive whisper, "It didn't look like you were defending yourself."

"For crying out loud, B'Elanna!" Tom's outburst caused B'Elanna to shrink back against the wall in a most un-Klingon manner. He quickly softened his tone. "I swear B'Elanna, I'm telling the truth. Megan had drunken too much Valax and began . . . well, she began groping all over me. She would have done a lot worse . . ." From a particular point of view, Tom thought inwardly. ". . . if I hadn't fought her off."

Another sniffle followed. B'Elanna's dark eyes grew wide. "Honest?" God! She almost sounded like Naomi Wildman.

Tom moved toward her until he was close enough to gather her in his arms. "Honest," he whispered back. Then he began to stroke her thick hair.

"Tom?" B'Elanna pressed her face against his chest.

He replied, "Hmmm?"

"What's that next to you?"

The Doc's new inapprovaline. Tom had almost forgotten. "It's uh, coffee. Irish coffee. With a little of Neelix's Valax in it." He paused momentarily. "Would you like some?"

B'Elanna nodded childishly. "I like Neelix's Valax."

She was not kidding, Tom later realized. Neelix's coffee, mixed with the Doctor's antidote must taste like Valax. Or coffee with Valax. The possibility relieved Tom. It meant that the others would not hesitate to drink the coffee. It took three cups of coffee to knock out B'Elanna. Tom had enough trouble drinking one swallow of the stuff without gagging. If that was how Valax taste, Neelix could keep it.

Eyeing his unconscious wife, Tom tapped his combadge. "Paris to Engineering. Are the transporters systems back on-line?"

"Negative," Carey responded. "They're still offline. But the inertia dampners are now working at 85."

Tom sighed. "That's thrilling to hear. Paris out." He glanced at B'Elanna's inert form and sighed once more. He seemed to be doing that a lot, lately. With the transporters offline, it seemed he had no choice but to carry his wife to Sickbay. Then he remembered. This Jeffries tube was located on the same deck as the Paris/Torres quarters. Leaving his wife in their bedroom would be a lot quicker and easier on his back. Still, it promised to be quite a haul. Tom wrapped an arm around B'Elanna's waist and began to haul her toward the tube's entrance. While muttering obscenities to the universe at large.


Monday, February 22, 2010

"Phoebe Halliwell and the Nexus Theory"


Recently, I watched the ”CHARMED” Season One episode called (1.15) "Is There a Woogy in the House?". In this episode, Phoebe Halliwell’s childhood fear of a boogeyman in the basement called the ”Woogeyman” proves to be true and it ends up taking possession of her and a few others – including her sister Prue’s ex-boyfriend, Andy Trudeau. Following this experience with the Woogeyman, Phoebe came to a conclusion regarding her moral compass.

The episode began with an aftershock from a previous earthquake. The aftershock not only revealed Phoebe's childhood fear of something called the "Woogyman", it has an ongoing source of amusement for her two sisters. That is, until a violent earthquake unleashes a long-dormant shadow demon on the day Prue has plans to hold a dinner party for her boss and a Bucklands’ customer. The latter first takes possession of a repairman, summoned to investigate a strange odor from the manor’s basement. After Prue and Piper leave the manor, the Woogeyman uses the repairman to summon Phoebe to the basement and she also becomes possessed. Phoebe’s strange behavior not only manages to ruin the dinner party, she also summons the Buckland’s client – a Professor Whittlesbey, who knows a good deal about the manor’s history – to the basement and the Woogeyman. Professor Whittlesbey becomes possessed. After Prue and Piper find themselves locked out of the manor by Phoebe, the two set out to discover what Professor Whittlesbey was hinting about the manor, when the dinner party first began. Unfortunately, the possessed professor ends up being arrested after she had physically attacked her assistant, Josh. Prue and Piper learn more details about the Halliwell manor from Josh:

Josh: You know, I’ve met people like that. (He looks at Piper.) A spiritual nexus is a point of incredible energy.

Prue: Equidistant from the five spiritual elements.

Josh: That’s right. The place or thing that could be swayed either way.

Piper: Either way?

Josh: Yeah. Either to be a source of undeniable good or undeniable evil.
Uh, look ladies, I’m gonna follow her and make sure she’s okay. Feel free to browse around our office if you think it will help.

In other words, Prue and Piper came to some conclusion that because the manor was situated in the center of this Nexus – shaped as pentagram – it was the source of great power that can be a source of good or evil. Once Phoebe managed to banish the Woogeyman, she came to a conclusion about the Nexus and her moral compass:

Phoebe: I’m beginning to wonder if I have a good one [dark side]. (Prue and Piper stare at her.) Well, I am. I mean, up until now, I didn't even think I had a dark side. I mean, not any more so than anyone else.

Prue: Yeah, well the important thing is the good side won out.

Phoebe: Yeah, but I must have been more susceptible than either one of you, otherwise he wouldn’t of chosen me, right? Right?

Piper: You were the only one that was born in the house, that makes you more connected to it. That spiritual nexus thing.

Phoebe: That’s exactly my point. I could go either way. Good or evil. Kinda freaky.

What in the hell was Constance Burge thinking? What on earth made her think that someone would be stupid enough to buy such a theory straight out of Sunday school for eight year-olds? Phoebe could easily turn good or evil, because she was born above the Nexus? That was Burge's idea of characterization?

It was bad enough that Prue got the elements mentioned in the episode wrong:

Prue: Okay, to find a way back in, we have to know what we’re up against. The professor said that a true spiritual nexus sits equidistant from the five basal elements. So, that’s earth, fire, water, wood and metal.

Then she added:

Prue: Looks like it’s not just on a spiritual nexus, but a wiccan one as well. Which means it’s a battleground for good and evil.

The spiritual nexus beneath the manor was definitely not a Wiccan one. Wiccans are associated with the following five elements - earth, fire, water, air and spirit. The five elements mentioned by Prue in the episode are the following - earth, fire, water, wood and metal. These elements are associated with Chinese philosophy, not Wiccans.

But it got worse. At least for me. By the end of the episode, Phoebe claimed that because she was born in the manor (in other words, above the manor), she was more susceptible to being possessed by the Woogeyman than her sisters. What . . . a . . . load . . . of . . . crap! If for this reason Phoebe was more susceptible toward evil, then one might as well say the same about the others that ended up possessed by the Woogeyman – the repairman, Professor Whittlesey, one of the Halliwell neighbors . . . and Andy Trudeau. And I am certain that not one of them was born inside the manor. If Piper or Prue had been inside that manor alone instead of Phoebe, the Woogeyman could have easily possessed either of them.

Why do I find this Nexus Theory about Phoebe hard to swallow? It does not make any sense to me. That is not good characterization. I do not even know what to call it. Phoebe was more prone to evil . . . and therefore more prone to be possessed by the Woogeyman? Had it ever occurred to Constance Burge or the episode’s writers, Chris Levinson and Zack Estrin, that Phoebe ended up possessed, because she had the bad luck to be in the manor alone with the repairman?

First of all, the series has managed to prove that all four sisters had personality quirks that made them easily prone to evil. Prue’s anger, pride and arrogance made her very susceptible to evil. Probably more so than the other three sisters, due to her anger issues. Piper's inability to deal with loss and her selfishness made her easily susceptible to evil. Phoebe's selfishness and willingness to use shortcuts in life made her easily susceptible to evil. And Paige's self-righteousness and sadistic nature made her susceptible. Everyone – whether in real life or in fiction have personality traits that makes them susceptible to evil. Why Constance Burge could not accept this and instead, used this Nexus Theory to describe Phoebe's flaws eludes me. Perhaps Burge wanted an easier plot device to describe Phoebe's personality . . . instead of good old-fashioned, well-written characterization.

I cannot deny that I have always enjoyed "Is There a Woogeyman in the House?". It has always been one of my favorite episodes from Season One. But this theory about the Nexus and Phoebe's moral compass nearly ruined it for me. It is a crap theory, supported by bad writing. Instead of recognizing that just about anyone - namely any sentient being can choose a path of good or evil, given the right circumstances or emotional button pushed. But Constance Burge and this episode’s writers decided to resort to easy and sloppy characterization by feeding the viewers this black-and-morality crap that the Nexus would explain Phoebe's occasional delinquent behavior. It seemed like a bad ending to a pretty good episode.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: The Lightning Thief" Photo Gallery

Below are photos from "PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: The Lightning Thief", the recent adaptation of Rick Riordan's best-selling novel. Directed by Chris Columbus, the movie starred Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario:

"PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: The Lightning Thief" Photo Gallery