Game Review: ‘Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars’ (3DS)

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars may have bucked the third-person shooter trend in Ghost Recon games, but in doing so it gave gamers one of the best titles on 3DS in 2011. Instead of your typical shooter, handheld gamers got a turn-based strategy game that was more akin to Advance Wars. Shadow Wars shows off its worth in picturesque landscapes that are subtly enhanced in 3D. The meaty single-player campaign will give you more hours of gameplay than several console games on the market. The only downside to this awesome 3DS title is the lack of a true-handheld multiplayer experience. Handheld multiplayer was not meant to be restricted to one unit. Passing around your 3DS takes away from the experience. Regardless of the multiplayer foible, Shadow Wars is by far one of the must have games for 3DS owners.

Ghost Recon Shadow Wars

Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars follows the prototype for a military soldier story. There is an evil threat lurking from amidst the former Soviet republic. You and your team of six soldiers must travel through Eastern Europe (primarily Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) to figure out what the threat is and stop it.

Missions primarily consist of your complete six-person roster, but specific offshoot missions will involve fewer characters. The story doesn’t amount to much. Most of the time, you’ll click through dialogue filled with cliché evil dictators. However, you’ll want to take on as many missions as you can get because the level design and gameplay is just that good.

This is a tile-based game that you play from an overhead view. Bunkers, rivers, trees and cliffs are all broken up into movement squares. Gamers start out with a basic two-man team of a soldier (who may remind you of Duke from GI Joe) and a sniper. It gives you a chance to really learn the combat system. Later on, gamers also have access to a medic, an engineer, a gunner, and a recon soldier. The medic and the sniper were my two strongest characters to use. Sniper really helps to weaken enemies from long range, while the medic is just as invaluable as you would expect in any battle. The gunner carries heavy arms and can take out tougher soldiers but is limited in range. The engineer and the recon soldier are the only other characters that offer any nuance. The engineer can setup turrets and the recon soldier can move around invisibly.

The grid system lets you know how many spaces you can move as well as what distance you need to be at to fire. You also can view the breakdown of enemy movement stats as well. As the game progresses in difficulty, you will find yourself eyeing the enemy movement squares more than your own. Knowing where your enemies can move to will help you decide how best to move your players around. The grid also shows how much damage you can do to a given enemy depending on the distance. This is broken down in red, orange and yellow squares – red for the most damage.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars

Difficulty increases at a moderate pace allowing you to really get a feel for the battle system. I think one board took me nearly an hour or more to beat, without losing a player, on the most difficult level. You will play for several hours before you even have the chance to call in an air strike against a few moving tanks. But, what’s really great about this game is that each level feels really different. Although you’re basically out in the wilderness (except in underground facilities), different land formations and bunkers always keep the game fresh. There are also defensive and offensive bonuses for attacking when you attack from a building or tree square. However, this can also limit movement.

Between levels, gamers will have the chance to upgrade their team. You will able to give them additional weapons or stronger guns. Choosing your upgrades well translates into very noticeable results. You will have to choose wisely when upgrading your long-range sniper, heavy gunner or your medic (who of course dies quickly).

Unfortunately, where this game could have succeeded most it failed. The multiplayer is limited to one system. So you have to pass around your 3DS to your opponent to play. It’s such a strange thing to see in this day and age. I can understand no download play and requiring each player to have their own game, but pass-around competition on a 3DS is just wrong. With the diversity of maps, this would game would have ranked up with Advance Wars if not for that misstep.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is by far one of my favorite titles to hit the 3DS in 2011. Hopefully, Ubisoft turns this turn-based take on Ghost Recon into a franchise. Having said that, the developers had better not leave out a better multiplayer system if they do go franchise.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 22, 2011

Rating:

8.5 / 10

Game Review: ‘Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2′ (Nintendo DS)

Level grinding is one of the guilty pleasures of RPG gamers. If you are a JRPG player, then level grinding is an absolute must. One of the joys of playing Pokémon games is the ability to capture and level up seemingly infinite varieties of Pokémon. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 embraces all that is great about Pokémon, but adds in a few spices to the turn-based fighting. Instead of simply collecting and leveling up monsters, gamers can synthesize more powerful beasts by combining two different monsters. This small touch of weapon smithing makes Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 a level grinders’ fantasy game. There may be a few nagging problems with the synthesizing process, but overall if you love JRPGs you’ll enjoy this Dragon Quest offshoot game.

This RPG starts off with the typical RPG story: a nameless, obscure character rises up from the dregs of society to become a hero. In Joker 2, your nameless hero hitches a ride aboard an air ship traveling towards a monster scout tournament. A monster scout is more or less a Pokémon trainer. You have the ability to unique talent to bond with monsters and make them fight battles for you. But, when the game begins, you are not a monster scout yet. The captain and crew discover you aboard the ship and you’re forced to work off your tenure. Then, the ship crashes on a mysterious island. As fate would have it, you’re given your first monster and soon learn that perhaps you are not as obscure as everyone thought you were.

The game does follow a basic passable story. You have to gather up as many monsters as possible and find all the ships passengers who have been dispersed around the island. The farther inland you get, the more difficult the monsters become to fight. Along the way, there are several NPC monsters that offer witty dialogue. A few of your shipmates also add some jovial moments when they start to rely on the young upstart to help save the day. Your air ship becomes your home base. You can return there at any time to rest, buy items or weapons, store machine parts or visit the bank. Players can also store their monsters there.

Gamers have three active spaces for monsters that can be used in battle. You are also given three additional reserve spaces so that you can quickly swap monsters in mid-battle without losing a turn. In the early stages of the game, most monsters are ranked level F. As you begin to get more powerful monsters, D level or higher, the monster may take up more than one roster space.

The world map is used to quickly hop from one region to the next. This becomes very handy when you need to heal your party by returning to the ship or when you want to synthesize new monsters. Later on, you can also teleport to specific areas within a region.

Battles are turn-based encounters. You can tell your monsters to go all out or strategize and have one of them focus on defending or magic attacks. Before you get the chance to synthesize, however, you will want to focus on scouting monsters. This function works very similar to Pokémon except without the Pokéballs. Once you choose the scout option on an enemy monster, a circular meter will appear in the middle of the screen. Each one of your monsters will then scout the targeted monster. As they scout, the circular meter will increase to show how effective each monster was in recruiting the enemy. Weakened enemies are easier to scout. However, the process is still somewhat unpredictable. Sometimes you can capture a monster by filling the meter with as little as 30% while other times you will have to get it past at least 50%. You can scout a monster more than once if it fails the first time around within a particular battle. But, if the targeted monster becomes “offended”, scouting will no longer work and you will just have to kill it.

About three hours into the game, less if you’re not a hardcore level grinder, you will get the opportunity to synthesize new monsters. There are also rewards for synthesizing monsters that are more rare. It’s a nice nuance to typical Pokémon hunting. When you combine two monsters you get to choose which attributes carry over. You can also choose some of the new attributes that may be unique to the new monster.

Unfortunately, the process does feel somewhat tedious. Gamers have to get their monsters to at least level 10 before they can be used in the synthesis process. Once you create a new monster you have to start back at level 1. It gets really annoying since you have to go all the way back to your ship (even though you can warp there, mentally it is frustrating) if you want to begin level grinding with more than the six monsters you have in your active and reserve roster. You end up losing a lot of time repeatedly going back to the ship to get your monsters from storage.

Overall, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is nice interlude into the Dragon Quest world. The synthesizing process can be grueling at times, but leveling up to create new beasts is its own reward. If this game had a deeper story to help pass the time while level grinding, this game would have been much more engaging.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Genre: RPG
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: TOSE
Release Date: September 19, 2011

Rating:

7 / 10

Blu-ray Review: ‘Planet Earth Special Edition’

Planet Earth fans can be broken down into three categories: those that watch primarily for the animals and wildlife, those that prefer the more geo-centric episodes and those viewers that happen to like them all. Although BBC Earth branched off into several other nature documentaries, Planet Earth has always ranked at the top with the broader audience. The series dynamically shifted between wildlife and geological topics, keeping the documentary fast paced and engaging. Also, it covered just about every interest area ranging from the rain forest and jungles to the frozen tundra and aquatic life. BBC’s recently released Planet Earth Special Edition Blu-ray release collects the entire groundbreaking series, along with over seven hours of additional bonus material.

If you don’t know by now, Planet Earth is the most eye-opening natural-life documentary of the new millennium. The Blu-ray Special Edition features the original series (and tons of bonus content) on four discs. It also includes two additional discs that are new to home video.

Disc 5 contains “Planet Earth: The Future”. This bonus series was not included on the original release. It features three segments: “Saving the Species”, “Into the Wilderness” and “Living Together.” It’s a capstone of sorts for the original series exploring where the natural world is going based off of ecological changes. This disc alone is an exceptional addition to the series, however, Disc 6 has three new expansion documentaries that are a marvel to watch.

Disc 6 contains “Snow Leopard: Beyond the Myth”, “Secrets of the Maya Underworld” and “Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert”.

The “Snow Leopard” follows a Pakistani journalist who takes BBC Earth into the mountainous regions of Pakistan in search of the elusive snow leopard. The snow leopard has a natural camouflage that allows it to blend in with the rocks. The documentary starts off with a lot of exposition. Since it is difficult to locate the animal, the first fifth of the segment focuses mostly on the crew. Once the animal is spotted, we start to get a glimpse of this magnificent creature. It’s one of the moments where you have to be thankful for Blu-ray technology. Since the animal is so well camouflaged, the HD visuals really help you to see its discerning features. Later on, locals accuse the leopard of killing livestock so the documentary team goes out to prove the leopard’s innocence. This is very different from most Planet Earth documentaries but still great. Coincidentally, the documentary team ends up meeting with a scientific research group who has been tracking the leopard as well. Apparently, the team stumbled onto the first snow leopard collaring project in over 20 years. It’s a sad scene to see one of the leopards hit by a tranquilizer, but you do get to see the animal up close in 1080i. Then, it is let loose.

The “Secrets of the Maya Underworld” segment focuses on underwater cave exploring. This is primarily a geological documentary with little wild life. The research team uncovers fossils of ancient animals (in one case an elephant’s relative), proving that certain underwater regions used to be above sea level. The documentary explores the Yucatán as scientists research the impact of cosmic events on the Mayans.

The third documentary, “Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert” is the most true-to-form Planet Earth piece. It is more a classic wildlife documentary on an elephant herd that also features a few baboons. While it is not as exciting (depending on your taste) as watching some of the African continents more dangerous animals it is a nice addition to the Planet Earth Series.

The sixth disc also has a meath preview of narrator Alastair Fothergill’s next project: Frozen Planet. The documentary team catches some great polar bear mating activities. In one case you get to see two bears fight over the same female bear. Then Fothergill says, “Female polar bears are high maintenance.” One of the bears becomes extremely bloody when he protects the female from another potential suitor.

If you haven’t picked up Planet Earth yet, the Planet Earth Special Edition is the perfect chance to add such an amazing documentary to your collection. It has a little something different for all nature lovers. One note, the storybook packaging is slightly more flimsy than the typical jewel case. If you are not careful, the individual disc sleeves will end up with an opening on both the side of the sleeve and the bottom. You can still tuck it away in the box so that is just one word of caution.

Planet Earth: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Planet Earth: Special Edition

Starring: Narrated by David Attenborough
Directed by: Alastair Fothergill
Studio: BBC
Release Date: October 4, 2011

Rating:
9.5 / 10

Exclusive: Hung Season 3 Episode 5 Preview Clip: ‘We’re Golden’ or ‘Crooks and the Big Beaver’

We’ve got an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode of Hung that may shed some light on last week’s cliffhanger.

At the end of Episode 3.4, Lydia (Ana Ortiz) flashed her cop siren on Ray (Thomas Jane) after Logan (Kaitlin Doubleday) wrote him a check.

In this clip, we see just what happens after last weeks arrest.

Hung airs Sundays at on HBO.

Supernatural Season 7 Episode 6 Review: Endearing Laughs & Breakups in ‘Slash Film’

The Winchester brothers got back to the mudblood business of facing Leviathans in Supernatural’s “Slash Fiction” episode. It was an episode filled with laughs and especially endearing moments for Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), but happy moments ran thin for Sam (Jared Padalecki). Now, the brothers have “broken up” once again – just when Leviathan hunting was on the upswing.

“Slash Film” began with Sam and Dean robbing a bank. Were the brothers simply hard up for cash or trying to lure the Leviathans out? The Winchesters shoved all the bank workers into the vault, smiled for the security cameras and then shot their prisoners with semi-automatics.

Needless to say, it wasn’t the Winchesters. The Leviathans got a few scraps of DNA from Sam and Dean and used it to take on the Winchesters’ bodies. It looks like their doppleganger powers are more powerful than we imagined. Also, it was revealed that the Leviathans could use the DNA as a sort of computer record to access emotions and information from the Sam and Dean’s past.

The Winchesters were then listed on the FBI’s most wanted list and a national manhunt began to find them. Getting caught massacring innocent people and having the video shown on CNN will do that. It seems that the Sam and Dean’s days of impersonating FBI agents may be over.

While Sam and Dean went on the road to hunt down their dopplegangers, Bobby was left to torture the Leviathan that Donald Stark (James Marsters) helped the brothers capture at the end of “Shut Up, Dr. Phil”. Bullets, chemicals and bruises did little to affect his prisoner. That’s when Bobby got mad and sliced off the Leviathan’s head with a machete. It worked, albeit temporarily, to give Bobby a few moments of peace. Happy with the interlude, Bobby decided to take a break. And who shows up just when Bobby went upstairs for a respite? Sheriff Jody (Kim Rhodes), who Bobby saved from the hospital in “Hello Cruel World”, knocked on Bobby’s door bearing gifts of a late night meal. My hero.

Sam and Dean were not fairing so well. Dean had to ditch his car since the Leviathans impersonating the Winchesters were also using the brothers’ famed ride. Dean referred to his car as Baby and proceeded to make a Swayze reference: Nobody puts Baby in the corner. Since Baby had been temporarily ditched (along with Dean’s music collection), Sam decided to put on the radio. “All Out of Love” by Air Supply came on. Sam was about to turn it off, but Dean told Sam to leave it on. Then we had one terrific laugh-out-loud Dean moment. Dean passionately lip-synced the song. When Sam caught him, Dean tried to cover it up. A few moments later, Dean started wailing again. Those kind of great moments keep this show fun amidst all the chaotic events going on.

Sam eventually realized that the Leviathans were leaving a trail of murders that matched Sam and Dean’s early cases. Now, the two were hot on the trail of their dopplegangers.

When we cut to the Leviathans in one of Dean’s favorite diners, we had another great moment. Ackles and Padalecki played Dean and Sam acting as Leviathans acting as Dean and Sam. Whoa. It was terrific to see the Leviathans psychoanalyzing Sam and Dean as Sam and Dean. The Dean Leviathan said that Dean equated burgers to sex and was disgusted at the idea that the real Dean considered himself a “damn comedian” with a “hero complex.” Leviathan Sam mocked real Sam for being a Satan visioning misfit “who has two thumbs and a full blown bats in a belfry.” Later on, the Leviathan that Bobby captured took on Bobby’s form when Bobby touched it.

Eventually, Bobby’s house guess accidentally discovered the way to stop the Leviathans. While cleaning Bobby’s cabin, she accidentally spilled a Borax chemical cleaner on it. Borax worked like acid on the Leviathan.

Over in Iowa, Sam and Dean were arrested just when they were about to confront their dopplegangers. But a kind sheriff decided to give Dean his phone call that would eventually save the Winchesters lives. Dean got the Borax 411 from Bobby. When the sheriff saw his officers eating other officers and shape shifting, he decided to free Dean from his cell so that the brothers could take down the Leviathans.

Everything went off without a hitch, except for one thing. Leviathan Dean revealed to real Sam that real Dean had killed Amy (Jewel Staite). It resulted in the fall out that led to the two brothers separating once again. Does anyone have a count on how many times Sam and Dean have broken up and gone their separate ways?

It looks like Crowly (Mark Sheppard) may be helping the Winchesters on their Leviathan hunt in the future. The current ruler of Hell tried to broker a deal with the head Leviathan but instead was shutdown and called a bottom-feeding demon. Crowly always does what benefits him the most. He will probably give the Winchesters a nudge in the right direction so that they can take down the Leviathans permanently.

‘Chuck’ Season 5 Premiere: Chuck vs. the Zoom

The final season of Chuck began just as it should, with Morgan, the new intersect, saving Chuck, Sarah, and John Casey on a mission… a mission under Carmichael Industries. The gang has gone freelance, which is making for one incredibly entertaining hour of comedy and is sure to make the final season a season worth tuning in to. It seems running their own spy organization isn’t as easy as they may have thought, no matter who the intersect is. Freelance and Morgan as the intersect are exciting journeys to take, especially since Joshua Gomez is not mimicking Levi as Chuck with the intersect. But it would be interesting to see Awesome with the intersect as well or even Chuck again, who seems so naked without it.

Intersect or not though, Awesome and Ellie must assist in a mission before this season is over. And only time will tell just how long Morgan has the intersect and what happens after that. There are plenty of changes for each of the characters in season five and only 13 episodes left of the series to explore those changes, so every episode counts.

“Guys, please don’t leave me behind, I have a plan!” – Chuck

Fast forward to the mission of the hour, Morgan getting quite protective over Sarah in the middle of the mission was so incredibly adorable and equally hysterical! Not a laughing matter though is this season’s enemy, Decker. First on his to do list to bring down our favorite spies, interrupt their mission and freeze all of their assets. Payback’s a bitch as Casey said. How do you feel about Decker being this season’s villain?

Back at the Buy More, Jeff and Lester have their own scheme going on but there was too little of a focus here to care to connect at this point. The season premiere of the final season of Chuck is all about Chuck, as it should be. Chuck is in a new chapter of his life that not only involves his own freelance spy agency and owning the Buy More (both bringing financial woes) but a marriage. And watching Chuck and Sarah open up as a married couple is one of the most beautiful gifts the writers have given us. Morgan helping Chuck in planning a surprise for Sarah… we all knew how that was going to plan out but we still loved every moment anyway. It’s just that good. Also, who else laughed aloud discovering Morgan’s T.I.T.S acronym? And what were your favorite references last night?

The season five premiere of Chuck was just as exhilarating as many expected it to be. The comedy and action formula that makes this show what it is shined through and certainly satisfied. There were a number of moments between certain characters that just made you smile (i.e. Morgan an Sarah’s handshake) and that smile is going to get wider and wider until the very end. Awesome job on the premiere. There are so many changes happening in the world of Chuck, that setting everything up for the final premiere may have seemed overwhelming but job well done. Next week looks even better.

Watch Chuck The Final Season Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.

‘Fringe’ Season 4 Episode 5 Advance Review: Novation

Peter is back in the universe with Walter, Olivia, and the rest of the world… but how? That’s what’s on his mind in next week’s all new episode of Fringe. In the first few moments of the episode, we find Peter talking with Walter in the holding facility that Broyles has set up to share his knowledge of the two universes and the classified information that goes along with Fringe division. Though there’s more confusion aroused than any kind of interrogation. After all, Astrid and the others have no idea about Observers that Peter mentions. That brought quite a laugh. Peter is so close and yet so far away… and vice versa. What a terrible state.

With no Observer to pull Peter out of the lake as a child, Peter dying in both universes, and a nonexistent paradox here, Peter is a bit dumbfounded as to how he is back. It is hard to say that Peter will find the answers that he is looking in the same time span that it took Walter to find a solution for his sleeping troubles. We can only hope. Perhaps Walter will find his sleep easier anyway now that he’s gotten quite a bit off his chest after a visit from Nina at the lab. We find out just why Walter has held such a hatred for Nina all this time in this time line… and if Walter’s words aren’t the most heartbreaking to hear, I don’t know what is. It seems that Walter’s heart is broken into a million little pieces in any universe or time line. Sad. Where oh where is John Noble’s Emmy and the Emmy for the writers? Phenomenal.

Speaking of Nina, there is also more of a revelation as to what her relationship with Olivia is. No, she is not her Aunt, for those wondering. Though with what is shared, it wouldn’t be surprising if viewers began begging for a flashback of that point in time that is briefly discussed! And iewers will learn of William Bell’s state of being in this time line… although this one is quite predictable, so don’t get too excited.

Meanwhile, a female shape shifter has targeted former Massive Dynamic scientist, Malcolm Truss (guest star, Arye Gross) for help. If you’re just as bored with the shape shifter stories as many viewers are, 1) This episode will not stand out and 2) Get used to it. More shape shifters are on the way…. from the other universe. So the question is, how has the other universe’s time line changed, if at all? Past and present Massive Dynamic scientists should also be questioning their safety, as any number of them could be of good service to the shape shifters on the way.

As far as action goes, the excitement does not go above the level of a gun chase but the type writer is back, so we all know what that means! There is quite a lot of action to anticipate. All of that action could possibly confirm what the episode of this title implies… that this time line is a replacement or substitution of the time line we are all so familiar with. Though that’s just one theory of many that will arise after the airing of this episode. So while next week’s episode is not necessarily mind blowing or a stand out of the season by any means, look forward for a small handful of revelations and developments coming your way.

Watch Fringe Fridays at 9/8c on Fox.

Project Runway Season 9 Finale – Designers ‘Make it Work’

Last night’s finale of Project Runway Season 9 was filled with “Make it work moments”. The final designers could not have been more different. Each one had his or her own point of view that is not typical on today’s fashion runways. Both the designers and judges had their work cut out for them.

Tim started the episode with a “gift” of 500 dollars that the designers could use for whatever they needed at Mood. Usually the twist in the end is that the designers have to complete an additional look. The gift seemed to help each designer enhance his or her collections with new looks rather than get stressed out with added pressure.

When the runway show day arrived, everyone was emotional and a bit delirious with exhaustion. They managed to share a moment of calm camaraderie before the real chaos of the show sank in. As the designers scrambled back stage we got a glimpse of the crowd littered with celebrities, musicians and fashion elite as well as past PR contestants. The Judges were the usual Heidi, Nina and Michael with guest judge designer L’wren Scott.

Kim was the first to hit the runway. The collection as a whole was urban with ease. My least favorite look was the modern sweat pant. I don’t think it was very flattering. Her cream pants with the sheer top was stunning and the judges agreed. The pieces went from urban casual to elegant evening effortlessly. The judges raved about her looks; they were sophisticated and sexy, but most of all it read: Kim.

Next up was the emotional basket case Joshua. His collection was edgy, a first for Joshua. It was almost like a sophisticated wild person look, which is his exact personality. His plastic pieces were done really well. Michael commented that Joshua “likes” everything and put everything in his show. With his new found editing skills Joshua was able to pull it off. Nina even commented that his collection was editorial. All of the judges loved Joshua’s material choices and thought it was the best designed.

Viktor was next. Everything in his collection was beautiful. The prints he made were the perfect colors and the way he laid them on the body was flattering and interesting. He was always the most talented in terms of construction, and his collection showed it. The white leather jacket with the pearl details was one of the best looks of the entire season. Michael loved Vikors tailored pieces, but he wasn’t feeling the sheer pieces. Michael questioned the practicality of a see-through dress. Even Nina called the sheer pieces a “missed opportunity.” Unfortunately after all his beautiful work that last minute sheer dress may have lost him the title.

Anya was last to present. She showed off a collection of cool beach glamour. It was beautiful, effortless and the prints were gorgeous. Her green/blue underwater print dress was stunning. Anya was the designer with the most work to do and she thrived under the pressure, which impressed the judges. Heidi commented on Anya’s repetition of the simple necklines, but was impressed with her print choices. The judges wanted her to push herself to design clothes that were more universally wearable. In the end, you cannot deny the overall coolness of Anya’s collection.

Anya took home top honors as the winner of Project Runway Season Nine. She deserved it. Anya was never bitter or caddy and she was always wiling to help the other designers no matter what. She should be proud of herself. I’m sure she will look back on this season and have no regrets – except maybe for the time she lost her money.

There are certainly going to be disappointed fans. Vikotor had the superior skills, Joshua had the superior vision but Anya had the most superior overall vibe which is the perfect seed for a successful brand. Even though every woman may not be able to wear everything Anya produces, they still want to wear it. I know I can’t wait to see her collection on Piperlime.com and “scoop me up some” super cool caftans.

Congratulations.

Shameless Prepares to Get ‘Wet’ in Season 2

On Jan. 8, Shameless returns to Showtime for Season 2, and the cast is getting ready to get wet. In this new teaser poster, the Gallagher family is shown up to their normal carefree shenanigans.

Shameless stars Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, and Cameron Monaghan. The Season 2 premiere will be followed by the premiere of House of Lies, featuring Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz.

‘Grimm’ Series Premiere Review: Pilot – A ‘Supernatural’ Rip-Off Without The Charm

It would benefit no one to compare NBC’s new fantasy show Grimm with ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Sure, they both debuted less than a week from each other and take their cues from fairy tales, but while Once Upon a Time is aimed at the family-centric crowd looking for a dash darkness to the Disney spin on the legends, Grimm is custom-made for an older audience. Thus, it would be more appropriate to compare it to one of the shows it’s facing head-on on the Friday night at 9pm Eastern timeslot: The CW’s Supernatural.

While Supernatural is definitely showing its age (being on the air seven seasons will do that to you), it is still not without its charm. Sure, we immediately get that it’s a procedural about brothers who investigate the unexplainable but the reasons that show works are the solid writing (by introducing a pretty awesome mythology that runs across several seasons) and the fact that it is anchored by two fantastic lead performances by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. And let’s not forget that they are also surrounded by amazing character actors, like Jim Beaver and Misha Collins, who populate the supporting roster. All-in-all, Supernatural is a solid show.

Grimm is not a solid show. It is not the worst show to debut on TV this Fall and it is certainly not the worst show to debut on NBC (The Playboy Club and Whitney certainly win in that department). Instead, it may be one of the most boring. It has a similar mythology to Supernatural; a young man discovers that he comes from a long line of monster hunters but this time the twist is is that he’s a descendant of The Brothers Grimm. As it turns out, the fairy tales that the brothers wrote were actually investigative accounts. And like Supernatural, the show takes place in America (Portland, Oregon to be exact).

Grimm begins to depart from its better competitor by committing the biggest cardinal sin a television show could make: casting an underwhelming lead. Miscasting is the inevitable downfall for any show and this one will sink quick thanks to the hollow performance by Dave Giuntoli who plays Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt and Grimm relative. He has the good looks to rival Padalecki and Ackles (he sort of looks like a shorter Brandon Routh) but none of the chops, as evident in an early scene in the pilot episode where he and his partner (played by the much better Russell Hornsby) discover a murdered jogger who was dressed in all-red. At that moment, it becomes apparent that Giuntoli was going to be charmless and wooden throughout the rest of the episode, as if he was told he was playing freaking Pinocchio.

Midway through the pilot (which was ultimately about the personal discovery and The Big Bad Wolf mucking things up), I had had enough of Giuntoli, so I paused the episode and Googled him. I discovered that his claim to fame was participating in MTV’s Road Rules: South Pacific and Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Challenge. The guy is a reality star — not a real actor. That means he took the role from someone who had actual skills, some up-and-comer who could have been the next big thing on TV, a la Jon Hamm. Just image if ABC had decided to cast Snooki as Snow-fracking-White in Once Upon a Time. That would be infuriating.

What’s more infuriating is that Grimm was co-created by David Greenwalt, who also co-created Angel and was a writer on Buffy. He could have come up with an entertaining show. Instead, we’re given a shit lead with a pilot episode to shrug at.

If you didn’t get the message by now, let me say it explicitly: “pass” on Grimm.

Score: 5.0/10