Television

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e04 – Blood & Money

“Miss Fisher’s,” as a rule, doesn’t do children in danger episodes. There’s been at least one other one, maybe another (but I don’t think really think so), but this episode opens with a kid buried in a shallow grave. It’s very intense right off.

Though it’s also got some post-war things to work through and they’re not as intense as usual so it sort of evens out.

Essie Davis’s client this episode–though Dr. Mac (Tammy Macintosh) is also going to have need of her)—is young Jarin Towney. He and his brother live on the very mean streets of Collingwood, where they hear of heroic Miss Fisher and her golden revolver. It’s pretty awesome to hear about the lore; Davis is a real-life (non-powered) superhero, she should have a fan club.

Towney’s aforementioned brother is missing; will Davis take the case and find him? Pretty soon, Macintosh is calling with some bad news—that dead boy in the shallow grave from the cold open? They find him near her hospital.

And it turns out there are three boys missing in total, so even if it’s not Towney’s brother, there’s still something very unpleasant going on.

The prime suspects are a nurse (Diana Glenn) and a severely disfigured war veteran (James O'Connell), who Davis and Ashleigh Cummings espy being up to strange shenanigans but maybe not illicit ones. Macintosh and her boss, Dan Spielman, are trying to get a donation to the hospital to fund a veteran rehabilitation program and the dead kids thing is really not helping. So Davis is doubly on the case.

And not just because she’s the Collingwood girl made (quite) good.

It’s a good mystery, with some excellent twists, and a decent enough finish. Besides the danger to the kids, there’s also the surprising unpleasantness of Hugo Johnstone-Burt’s subplot. He’s been cast out of home because of his conversion to Catholicism (for Cummings) and he’s keeping that situation secret from her. It’s the darkest Johnstone-Burt’s ever had to go and it’s rather affecting.

No drama for Nathan Page and Davis this episode, just the comfortable flirting—though there is a touch of some significant, which Cummings interrupts. It’s a good episode; Towney and Davis are excellent together.

When you think about it, it’s kind of a surprise she hasn’t assembled The Esplanade Peculiars yet. She does live at 221B, after all.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e03 – Murder & Mozzarella

So I thought this episode was one of those pre-1980s Mafia stories where they never referred to the Mafia by name because they call it the Camorra here but the Camorra is actually a different Italian criminal organization. The more you know.

Miss Fisher (Essie Davis) and Inspector Jack (Nathan Page)—or should I say, Inspector Johnny—versus the mob was not an episode of “Miss Fisher’s” I was expecting. But I also wasn’t expecting Page to have another chaste love interest… you get the impression he spends most nights drinking with Davis.

But no. He’s off at an Italian restaurant making eyes at comely widow Louisa Mignone, who’s making just as many eyes back. We finally get to see Davis jealous. And Page reveling in it; well, at least as much as Page would revel in it. Until things get serious with Mignone, whose restaurant is part of a feud.

Mignone’s father-in-law Vince D'Amico is both chef and mob boss and he says the other Italian restaurant has been stealing their recipes. Given the other restaurant’s chef, Annette Serene, is super-mean, it seems possible. In fact, D’Amico and his family are sure Serene’s family had D’Amico’s son (and Mignone’s husband) killed. Because they take cooking very seriously.

There’s also kids Danielle Horvat and Paul Pantano—then Robert Mammone, who’s Horvat’s father and Serene’s son-in-law—he’s also a widower—plus enforcer Alex Andreas.

It’s a very full episode, which director Peter Andrikidis maneuvers quite well. Especially since there’s also the big subplot about Ashleigh Cummings finally convincing Hugo Johnstone-Burt to convert to Catholicism and it turns out he’s all for it once he discovers Cummings has to do whatever he says because he’s the husband. Cummings, on the other hand, thinks maybe the Church has got that one wrong.

Really good performance this episode from Page—the closest he’s had to a showcase maybe ever—and the finale’s excellent.

What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s02e07 – The Return

It’s a team episode—or more of one—with Nick Kroll returning from the first season. Kroll was a posh New York vampire who was in love with one of Matt Berry’s hats. Unfortunately, that hat was cursed and Kroll’s having some very bad luck. He’s living in a sewer with one rapping sidekick Mike Dara and another sewer-dwelling vampire sidekick (Christine Ebadi, in some truly icky makeup).

Kroll guilts Berry and Natasia Demetriou—following a hilarious talk about their evening out at the terrible “talkes”—into inviting him over. He’s so anxious to get out of the sewer, he beats them home, with Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén playing reluctant hosts.

There’s some great banter—plus Novak’s harsh assessment of why Guillén’s still a familiar and not a vampire (he’s like the last donut left, everyone’s sure there’s something wrong with it)—before they end up inviting Kroll and company (of course he brought the entourage) to stay the night.

Or day. Whatever.

Unfortunately, Ebadi really wants to eat Guillén and since she’s a hardier vampire than most, she’s not scared to lurk around during the day. They get into a big argument and Guillén’s all of a sudden got to worry about Novak finding out about the whole “vampire slayer” thing.

Meanwhile, Mark Proksch has an amazing subplot about his online trolling activities.

Writer-director-show creator-source movie co-creator Jemaine Clement has a great time with the episode; it feels like he wanted to give Proksch a good solo adventure—the show’s really exploring the energy vampire mythos—while taking advantage of guest star Kroll’s antagonistic chemistry with the rest of the cast. And it moves Guillén’s vampire slayer subplot forward for the first time in quite a few episodes.

It’s kind of overshadowed by the last episode Jackie Daytona peak, but it’s still fantastic.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e02 – Murder & the Maiden

Season three’s Jack (Nathan Page) jealousy is a lot less morose than previously. He’s jealous for Essie Davis’s history with Royal Australian Air Force captain Rodger Corser but it takes a while before Page lets it hinder he and Davis’s working relationship. Even when Corser’s withholding evidence in a murder case—a woman’s body is found outside the fence and the RAAF’s official position is it can’t have anything to do with them.

The mystery is a very complicated one, involving White Russians and Red Russians and the local communists and Fisher agent Travis McMahon’s potential girlfriend, Kasia Kaczmarek, and a missing pilot. Turns out the missing pilot was knocking boots with not missing pilot Tom Hobbs and the rest of the base—Corser aside, apparently—suffered a mass wave of homophobia.

Meanwhile, Hugo Johnstone-Burt wants to set the date for the wedding with Ashleigh Cummings but he also doesn’t want her to keep her job, which isn’t cool with her.

Also this episode—for the first time, I think—Davis refers to Cummings as her assistant, not her companion, suggesting Cummings becoming a detective in her own right. Very cool.

Shame the year is 1929 and Black Tuesday is imminent.

Davis does an excellent job with the Corser subplot; it takes most of the episode for their full history to come out and even Page can’t fret about it once he hears the whole story. Corser’s… fine, though a little less compelling a Phryne fellow than usual. He’s a bland flyboy type, which makes sense since they knew each other during the war, but he hasn’t got any of the burning internal passion. Maybe because he’s a bit too much of a dick to Page in the RAAF vs. coppers peeing contest.

But it all works out, with a very well-executed final action sequence—Tony Tilse’s direction is quite good—as well as a lovely finish.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e13 – I Am Legends

Did you know you needed a “Legends vs. Zombies” episode of “Legends of Tomorrow”? Because I did not know I needed such a thing. I also didn’t realize I needed to see how much range Adam Tsekhman can exhibit on the drop of a… carrot. I’ve always liked Tsekhman but in a comic relief sort of way; they’re underutilizing him. They really need to bring in tough Tsekham.

And give him Amy Louise Pemberton as a partner.

But Pemberton and Tsekham in a bit.

Following the disappointing Animal House 2020 episode they did, the Legends find themselves stuck in England because hellspawn Olivia Swann had to betray them out to evil sisters Sarah Strange and Joanna Vanderham.

The Legends only have 24 hours of immortality to get to the ship and stop the sisters, only they’re stranded in Constantine Manor and Matt Ryan doesn’t believe in cars. Bumming rides is his thing. You’d think he’d know a teleportation spell.

Anyway, on their way to London to a time bureau safe house (weird but welcome Rip Hunter mention this episode), Vanderham figures out what they’re doing and sends zombies to destroy them.

So the episode’s the Legends fighting their way to London, figuring out how to do it without enough gas, Ryan and Tala Ashe argue-flirting, and Tsekhman trying to save the day with Pemberton’s help.

Pemberton, who usually just voices the ship’s computer, gets to do an in-person performance and she and Tsekhman and perfect together. Also more bi-inclusivity for “Legends.”

But it then turns out Sara (Caity Lotz) has been lying to co-captain for life Ava (Jes Macallan) about not seeing the future and the Legends are in real trouble. Can they defeat Swann, Vanderham, and Strange not to mention a swarm of zombies?

On one hand, they’re the Legends, on the other hand, it’s the second-to-last episode of the season and there is some required dramatic tension.

Really good episode. Makes up for Animal House 2020 flopping so hard.

Perfect cliffhanger too. Oh, and the costumes. Great costumes.

And whoever thought to put in the George A. Romero zombie.

And the Trash (from Return) zombie. Just wonderful touches.

Frasier (1993) s02e03 – The Matchmaker

Being cishet, it’s not my place to say whether The Matchmaker has aged well. It seems to have aged well. The episode, guest-starring Eric Lutes as Kesley Grammer’s new boss, who happens to be gay and thinks Grammer is into him (because Peri Gilpin lets him think it, as she’s mad Grammer viciously slut-shamed her earlier in the episode), goes over to the Crane apartment for dinner and it’s a hilarious sexual orientation confusion event.

Grammer doesn’t just have no idea—he thinks he’s setting Lutes up with lovesick Jane Leeves—but he’s going to actively weave more and more confusion. When Grammer eventually has to tell Lutes he’s straight, he also has to clarify John Mahoney is straight as well. And David Hyde Pierce, because Hyde Pierce shows up out of the blue because it’s a show trope and hangs out to sabotage Leeves’s setup with Lutes.

Joe Keenan’s script does an excellent job setting up the jokes throughout–not quite Eddie muffins but definitely deliberately paced ones; like when Mahoney recommends Lutes the bar to hang out with “young cops.”

It’s real funny.

It starts strong too, first a fire alarm and then Leeves’s heartache, the episode’s already in good shape when it gets time for Grammer to tell Gilpin about Leeves’s problems. And after Grammer’s a dick about Gilpin recommending a man to Daphne, which doesn’t get him any sympathy at all, quite the opposite, Keenan’s got the stage set for a perfect “revenge” moment for Gilpin.

Interestingly… the show leaves Gilpin and Grammer’s relationship in a very precarious place. I assume it’ll be back to normal next episode, of course. Weird how no matter how bad things get, seven days later they’re back to how they were before….

Gilpin also gets a great showdown with Hyde Pierce. Her writing’s much better this season.

Keenan’s a first time credited writer too—though he goes on to write a couple dozen total as well as executive produce for multiple seasons… so he’s clearly found his niche.

The one Maris joke doesn’t land well though, because low-key sexist jokes are still okay.

Also, bully for Lutes, who’s got a fairly bland part but he does deliver the killer one-liners when needed.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e01 – Death Defying Feats

“Miss Fisher’s” season three premiered almost a year and a half after the second season concluded, so the opening run-through—confirming returning cast members and breaking the show’s usual murder sans Miss Fisher intro—makes sense. Ashleigh Cummings is at a magic show with Travis McMahon and Anthony J. Sharpe, Essie Davis is getting ready for her dinner date with Nathan Page; everything is as it should be.

Until Pip Miller (who isn’t Jon Voight but looks enough like him I thought they’d “scored” Voight as a guest star) shows up at Davis’s door and she cancels plans with Page… and when the guillotine act at the magic show results in an actual decapitation. Then everyone’s evening is ruined.

Davis and Page meet at the magic show and Page is in a bad mood because of the stood-up dinner date, which is going to be his subplot through most of the episode (at least until we find out more of the story with Miller, who’s the magic show’s new investor). But he’s glad to have Davis along, as she used to perform in magic shows and knows how the tricks work. So they can ascertain quickly the guillotine was tampered with and the magician’s assistant murdered.

Grant Piro’s the magician; he was also engaged to the victim. Other suspicious characters around the show are prop guy André de Vanny, contortionist Eloise Mignon (who’s gets a fantastic sequence), and Kate Mulvany. Mulvany’s father used to own the magic show and she’s been teaching de Vanny tricks, which suggests they might be trying to get the show back (to Davis and Page). But Mignon and de Vanny have something else going on too. So lots of suspects and entertaining ones.

Plus there’s Page being very jealous of de Vanny, Cummings taking her investigating up a notch—to the point beau Hugo Johnstone-Burt has to finally take notice of it and appreciate it—and then a fantastically tense conclusion.

Tammy Macintosh makes a couple appearances—she’s now the coroner, which is a great way to keep her around—and Miriam Margolyes, who’s also got history with Miller, is around. It’s a very fun, very steady episode, with some great twists and turns, both in the mystery and the subplots.

Though it really doesn’t seem like Johnstone-Burt and Cummings’s engagement has made much progress in the sixteen months since their last appearance… ditto Page and Davis, but with the latter it’s part of the charm, with the former… you just wish Johnstone-Burt would get his Protestant head out of his ass.

Frasier (1993) s02e02 – The Unkindest Cut of All

First yay, Lily Tomlin as caller cameo. Second yay, writer Dave Hackel (a seasoned sitcom vet who only will end up writing this one episode) knows how to give Peri Gilpin some great material. Very different from last season—she’s not desperate here, she’s just enthusiastically sexually active.

Third yay… the episode’s all about adorable dogs, whether it’s Jack Russell Terrier Eddie or all the Jack Russell Terrier puppies he unintentionally fathers… it’s wall-to-wall adorable dogs.

The accidental fathering, leading to Kelsey Grammer trying to get rid of a box of puppies, including hawking them on air, is just the setup for the main plot. Eddie runs away after Frasier (Grammer) takes him down to get the boys cut off; dad Martin (John Mahoney) follows Grammer down, they get in a fight, Eddie runs off.

What’s really nice about Hackel’s script is how much he sets up the eventual heart-to-heart between Grammer and Mahoney; from the first scene, he’s laying out Eddie muffins (what you call a Chekhov gun in “Frasier”). Just little things. Even Mahoney being exasperated with Grammer, just in Mahoney’s banter with Jane Leeves are Grammer’s sock ironing requirements.

There’s also time for a couple really nice David Hyde Pierce scenes, one with Leeves, another with Mahoney and Grammer while they look for Eddie. Hyde Pierce’s second scene involves him just doing voice work for the majority of his time there and he’s absolutely fantastic. Voice work, physical work, Hyde Pierce never walks away with “Frasier” and the show never spotlights him to the extent it’d ignore another actor but it can’t help being a showcase for him. He’s so good.

And Hackel does an excellent job with the heart-to-heart. Mahoney doesn’t go in for the psychiatry stuff, which causes some major resistance to Grammer wanting to make observations but once they get talking, things get worked out and quite nicely. There’s even a cute resolve with Eddie.

Before the subsequent funny end credits scene.

It’s a very good episode; Rick Beren’s direction is strong; I wish Hackel would’ve written another.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s02e13 – Murder Under the Mistletoe

Murder Under the Mistletoe is the “Miss Fisher’s” Christmas (in July) special I obviously needed but didn’t know I needed. The episode opens with Essie Davis taking the girls—Ashleigh Cummings, Miriam Margolyes, Tammy Macintosh—to a ski lodge; Southern Hemisphere, snowy summers. But when they get there, of course there’s a murder—people are finally giving Davis crap for finding murder wherever she goes—and then they get snowed in. So everyone’s trapped up there with a killer.

Lots of great suspects—Simon Burke, Greg Saunders, George Shevtsov, Alicia Gardiner, Sylvie de Crespigny. There’s also teenager Emily Milledge, who proves you can be Goth in the 1920s. There’s a big backstory—there was a mine collapse in 1919 and it killed a bunch of the workers; widow de Crespigny married mine co-manager Burke; who does he co-manage the mine with—Margolyes. There’s a lot of good Margolyes stuff this episode. Anyway… Milledge is de Crespigny’s daughter.

There are secrets and flashbacks and Ruby Rees coming home from school early and having to hang out with the boys (Richard Bligh, Travis McMahon, and Anthony J. Sharpe, which is adorable). Plus Macintosh gets a bunch to do and not just doctor stuff.

Great direction from Tony Tilse, really fun script from Elizabeth Coleman.

Nathan Page and Hugo Johnstone-Burt brave the snow storm to get to the lodge and assist in the investigation, but the episode focuses on the multiple suspects and the entire cast being in grave danger. There are numerous murders throughout, including one with a complicated Rube Goldberg setup to get the job done.

Really good villain.

Great postscript with the titular mistletoe figuring in.

It’s a perfect Christmas special.

Also—there’s a John Noble cameo; he plays Margoyles’s since deceased husband in the flashback scenes. It’s very cute to see Margoyles opposite a husband.

Oh, and Cummings—she’s doing the full investigating again. “Miss Fisher’s” season two—with this episode as its victory lap—did a lot of character development on Cummings. Did a little on everyone else, but a lot on her and rarely spotlighted it, just let it happen. Very nicely done indeed.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s02e12 – Unnatural Habits

The episode opens with Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Ashleigh Cummings on their day off, Johnstone-Burt in his civvies somehow clashing with Cummings in her regular clothes; they’re fishing and dreaming of their honeymoon.

Rude awakening when they discover a dead body in the water. Even ruder awakening when it turns out to be the latest in a series of dead girls who worked at a Catholic convent’s laundry. Somehow the convent’s abusive treatment of the girls, which horrifies touring Essie Davis and Nathan Page—the show takes a deep stab at Catholic hypocrisy (well, some of them)—but then it manages to get even worse as we slowly find out what’s happening to the girls and who’s doing it to them.

But running up against the Church means Page’s ex-father-in-law and boss Neil Melville gets involved, especially since he’s just gotten a promotion; Melville bans Davis from investigating and reassigns Page.

Also back this episode are Page’s ex-wife, Dee Smart, who’s openly hostile to Davis at this point, and her cousin fiancé Daniel Frederiksen. Miriam Margolyes is around too—turns out her cook was one of the missing girls—and has some great scenes with current girl-in-crisis Alice Cavanagh. Very nice work from Margolyes this episode. Shayne Francis and Sally-Anne Upton are excellent as the meanest laundry bosses.

There’s eventually a big action sequence where Davis and her sidekicks arm up—turns out butler Richard Bligh has been assembling an arsenal for just such an occasional—and try to save the day while Melville has the cops dillydallying in fear of upsetting the Church.

All the outstanding story threads from the season get resolved here and the episode ends on quite the tease. Writer Ysabelle Dean does a good job fitting in a bunch of content but it some of it is still very rushed. The investigation leads Davis all over the place, from the laundry to high society to the docks and so on. Nice direction from Tony Tilse, who’s really able to ratchet up the tension in that big action finale.

One of the two main villains—motivated by pure greed—doesn’t get the best performance, while the other one gets a phenomenal one. Though maybe the suspicious behavior is less obvious when the solution is confirmed instead of suspected….

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