ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, Episode 13 (Tiny)
Here was a perfectly good episode. The main character happened to be a guest star — the Giant of “Jack and the Beanstalk” fame. Wherein he was the villain in his first appearance, this episode has him as the hero. He starts as Anton, the young (by giants’ standard) and inquisitive rebel who does not feel like he fits in with his family, and it is only at the end of the episode, after many years, a massacre of his family, lies, and imprisonment, that he finds a family that he can belong to. The giants have a philosophy of work for work’s sake (or “it is the journey that defines us, not the destination”) that took a long time to register with Anton. This story was well told, and the character of Anton was well-explored. Furthermore, we got to see Prince Charming’s arrogant twin brother, learn Prince Charming’s actual name (David, fitting for a shepherd turned royalty and whose mother was named Ruth), and have a nice twist on the character of Jack.
The main characters got a break this week, but their stories were still advanced enough that we did not miss them. We got to see Snow White and Prince Charming be heroes and yet have some relationship issues all the same. While they were the main couple in the first season, they have shifted into the “beta couple” position now that they are back together, which gives space for other relationships to take the lead spot. Who is going to fill that role remains to be seen, however. For now, the other plots are just as interesting, and it is refreshing to watch a show that is not all about romantic pairings. Emma, Henry, and Mr. Gold are off on an adventure to find Baelfire in New York City, which is set up nicely in this episode and should pay off this weekend. Regina, Cora, and Hook are conspiring together, but we have yet to find out for what. Belle is still without her memory and now the stranger is trying to take advantage of her.
With this show being a weekly serial, it is refreshing to watch a self-contained storyline every so often. None of the main characters were left out entirely and we have some idea of what might happen to them in the next episode, but they were thankfully not the centre of attention this week. This week was bedtime story, complete with a relatable cuddly giant.
REPUBLIC OF DOYLE
Season 4, Episode 5 (The Heroine)
I really wish I had more to say about this episode, but I just really enjoyed it for what it was: a mystery followed by an undercover rescue operation, with a heavy dose of romance between the leads. After three seasons, Jake and Leslie are letting their guards down with their relationship. Raw passion? Yes. Care and love? Yes. Mutual respect? Getting there. This episode has proven that Leslie is more than a match for Jake when she is freed from the rulebook of being an ordinary police officer. The main reason that she has disliked Jake in the past is because he is unconventional and thus hard to trust. She can always trust him, but it has taken her a long time to realise that.
Season 6, Episode 6 (Murdoch and the Cloud of Doom)
The fun thing about Murdoch Mysteries is that it is a historical drama without being too full of itself. It knows it is playing with the past. Why not make references to the present? Why not remind us how ridiculous the present might seem compared with the past? Why not make fun of the past? In this episode, a scene with a gas mask alone is hilarious. Things provided by the city are never top-quality. Nothing but the cheapest for the city’s finest policemen!
It might seem odd to have an episode about bioterrorism in 1900, but knowing how chemical warfare was gaining momentum and how it would play such an important role in the First World War made the episode quite scary. Those constables with five broken gas masks for the dozen of them? It might be funny, but thinking that most of them would still be young enough to fight in the war in fourteen years made the joke harder to laugh at. Inspector Brackenreid desperately trying to protect his sons? Those boys may avoid being gassed in Toronto in 1900, but they will be in the trenches soon enough. Their father won’t be able to protect them then.
Love and reason prevail for the episode, but sadly, not for the future of warfare.
Season 5, Episode 14 (Reality Star Struck)
Happy Valentine’s Day! For us, a gift basket of laughter, mystery, and misunderstandings, accompanied by a bottle of romance. Everyone had their own issues when it came to Valentine’s Day: for Castle and Beckett, it was gifts for their first Valentine’s Day as a couple; for Ryan, it was having a wife who wanted to make babies instead of love; for Esposito and Lanie, it was deciding whether or not they wanted to give their relationship another try; etc. All of these stories were humourously added into the main plot involving a murdered young businesswoman who starred on a reality series. The more they investigated the murder, the more they discovered that there was very little real about the show at all.
The problem with “reality” television is that it is just as unreal as a scripted show, except that the characters are playing fictionalized or sensationalized versions of themselves and living in constructed worlds so as to maximize ratings. While taken to the extreme, The Hunger Games is very real in our society. People are not themselves on television — even if they use their real names and jobs. They have a character that they are playing. Taken to the extreme, everything about a reality show is scripted except the actual dialogue. “Reality Star Struck” does a good job of poking fun at this. Castle may be a scripted show, but it comes across as much more real.