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Claymore: Chapter Three

The third volume of the “Claymore” series is arguably more focused than previous installments, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Though it’s nice to have a batch of episodes that tells a contained story for once – in this case, Clare’s battle with a sadistic Claymore named Ophelia – none of them are especially memorable. After teaming up with four other Claymores in the second half of Chapter Two, Clare just doesn’t seem as interesting when she’s on her own. In fact, I was beginning to hope that the rest of the series would revolve around this newly formed group taking down the Organization that has targeted them as potential Awakened Beings. Those familiar with the manga would probably tell me to relax, because that’s exactly what happened in the original story, but with only 12 more episodes to go, here’s hoping the gals reunite sooner rather than later. After all, for as much fun as it is to watch Clare get chopped to pieces only to be resurrected Darth Vader style, the last thing we need is for the story to slow down just before it approaches the final stretch.

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Battlestar Galactica: The Oath

Man, after three and a half seasons of following this ragtag fleet around space, it’s sure hard to watch them tear themselves apart. Like most mutinies, this episode was brutal. The survival of the human race is already teetering on the edge of the abyss, but now there’s a civil war brewing and things are getting ugly.

At the center of the coup is Gaeta, and Alessandro Juliani really shined in this episode. It was fun to watch him orchestrate the uprising from the CIC, throwing a little comment in here and there in order to get the Admiral to do what he wanted. It wasn’t until Bill sent the private down to take a look that Gaeta had to make his move and overtake the command center. It was a brilliant (if devious) plan.

This episode felt like one from the first couple of seasons where the show would get bogged down in minutiae, but given the limited number of episodes remaining (7), there’s no guarantee that Bill and Roslin will emerge unscathed as the leadership of the fleet. In fact, both of their lives are in danger — Bill has to survive a grenade blast and Roslin has a viper on her tail. This brings me to one of my problems with this episode: I don’t like unnecessary sacrifice. Never have. There was no reason for Bill and Tigh to stay on Galactica other than to show how big their balls are. They didn’t do anything to delay the troops from entering the hanger and the raptor would have gotten away with or without Butch and Sundance on board. Now, it may work out in the end — i.e. Bill does something on Galactica to save Roslin’s life on the raptor — but it still doesn’t make Bill’s decision to stay the right one.

The other problem with this episode was Gaeta’s failure to account for the President. Lee and Starbuck were able to walk right up to her door — no marines — and take her to safety. Didn’t Gaeta have a plan to capture Roslin? Didn’t he and Zarek want to tie up that loose end so that she wouldn’t…um…I don’t know…escape and find a way to broadcast a speech to the entire fleet? You could see Gaeta’s frustration as he finally isolated her wireless signal and ended her speech. Given how smoothly his plan was executed, the failure to deal with Roslin feels more like a plot hole than a misstep by Felix.

Otherwise, the episode moved the plot forward quickly and was suspenseful throughout. It’s tough to watch members of the fleet kill each other off, but it makes sense that there’s a sub-section that is still harboring distrust and resentment towards the Cylons. After all, it wasn’t long ago that these same Cylons killed billions of humans back on Caprica and the other colonies.

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Killing Hitler: The True Story of the Valkyrie Plot

If you went into Bryan Singer’s “Valkyrie” without knowing anything at all about the many plots to kill Hitler throughout his reign of power, then you probably enjoyed the film a hell of a lot more than those who were already familiar with the history of those events. Indeed, you may have walked out of the theater with an interest in learning more about what really happened…and that’s where “Killing Hitler: The True Story of the Valkyrie Plot” comes in. While it does flesh out the events prior to Claus Von Stauffenberg’s actions in a manner which “Valkyrie” fails to do (kids today don’t know nearly as much about World War II as you think they do), the proceedings are a bit dry. It does indeed serve the purpose of educating viewers in a less dramatized fashion…and, more importantly, without the distraction of having one of Hollywood’s top actors playing the part of a German officer…only WWII buffs will be left breathless. And possibly not even them.

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Make ‘em Laugh: The Funny Business of America

Simply put, the three-DVD set of PBS’ six-part special on comedy in America is a must-have for any fan of comedy. Hosted by Billy Crystal and narrated by Amy Sedaris, “Make ‘em Laugh” traces the origins of the wiseguy, the oddball, the breadwinner, the satirist, the pratfaller, and the groundbreaker in incredible detail, combining footage of the masters at work (both movies and TV) with interviews of dozens of comedians, writers and producers. (Holy cow, was Jack Benny’s writing staff an All-Star lineup of funny.) It’s all very informative, but if the set has one flaw, it’s in each show’s tendency to stop the timeline around 1989, which results in the omission of several prominent modern-day comedians (Bill Hicks, Patton Oswalt and Sarah Silverman, to name a few). That will happen, of course, when trying to condense 80 years of comedy into six hours. Each disc also contains extended interviews with dozens of comedians, and a couple bits of guys telling their favorite jokes. Great stuff, across the board.

Click to buy Make ‘em Laugh: The Funny Business of America

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Bullz-Eye’s TV Girlfriends, Round One: Hot and Smart

Bullz-Eye TV Girlfriends: Hot and Smart

Our inspiration was innocuous enough: as fervent “24″ watchers – and occasional haters – the entire Bullz-Eye staff fell head over heels for one of the terror thriller’s female leads. Smart but challenging, tough but vulnerable, every minute that she wasn’t on screen – provided Jack wasn’t killing or maiming someone, of course – was just wasted time. Eventually, we declared her to be the official girlfriend of Bullz-Eye, because she was the only girl we could all agree on. We’re talking, of course, about…

Chloe O’Brian.

Chloe O'BrianWhat, you were thinking Michelle Dessler? Nina Myers? Kim Bauer? First Lady Sherry Palmer? Mandy the bisexual assassin? Good guesses all, but none of them hold a candle to Chloe and her delightfully quirky “personality disorder,” as her supervisor Bill Buchanan succinctly put it. Once we had christened her, though, we wanted more girlfriends. Eventually we went all “Big Love” on the boob tube (oh man, do we deserve to be slapped for that one) and started appropriating women from dozens of shows to join our burgeoning harem.

And now, our harem is having its debutante ball, its season premiere, if you will. We have hand-selected 100 women from the last 40 years of television and put them into ten categories, based on personality type, career, intelligence (or lack thereof) and even marital status. We’ll unveil a new list each month, and you, gentle reader, will tell us which ones you would most like to have as your girlfriend. Once we’ve whittled the list down to one girlfriend from each category, we’ll pit them against each other and get the hell out of the way.

With that in mind, it is our great pleasure to introduce the first group: Hot and Smart.

Liz Lemon (Tina Fey, “30 Rock”)
Liz Lemon With her quirky sense of humor, social ineptness and those sexy librarian glasses, Liz Lemon may be the only true-blue nerd on our list. That, of course, is anything but an insult. As the head writer for NBC’s “TGS with Tracy Jordan,” Liz doesn’t have a whole lot of free time to date, and even when she does go out, chances are she’ll figure out a way to sabotage the whole thing. But Liz’s foibles merely make her that much more endearing, even if the incessant “tick-tick-tick” of her internal clock understandably makes us a little nervous. Then again, there are worse things in life than settling down with an attractive, intelligent and successful woman who loves junk food, “Star Wars” and a good joke. Her boss, Jack Donaghy, still suspects that Liz may be a lesbian, but we’re not ashamed to admit that the mere possibility only heightens our interest in her. Plus, she kind of looks like the beautiful (if slightly crazy) Sarah Palin.

Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson, “The X-Files”)
Smart, tough, beautiful – Scully is an insecure man’s worst nightmare. She challenged and contradicted Mulder at every turn, and even though she was usually some version of wrong, it never deterred her. Always the skeptic, she somewhat grounded her partner by demanding some sort of logic and scientific proof. Wrangling Mulder was like herding cats, but Scully might have had a little feline in her as well – she avoided death on several occasions leading to the theory that she was, in fact, immortal. It’s more likely that she was just too stubborn to die. She stared down countless psychopaths, supernatural beings, aliens — you name it — and always came back for more. This quality — her fierce and undying loyalty — was her greatest trait. True, the woman could be a giant pain in the ass, but Fox always knew that she would have his back, and that’s why he eventually fell in love with her. And really, who can blame him?

To see the rest of Bullz-Eye’s Hot & Smart TV Girlfriends and vote for your favorite, click here. We will announce the winner – and the nominees for our next group, Pretty, Vacant – on Friday, February 27.

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