“Timeless” A New Television Show That Will Work Your Mind

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If it’s fall, then it is time for the new programs to hit the television screen from not only the traditional networks but also cable and streaming services. Most of the time the programs presented – especially by the traditional network outlets – are simply retreads of past programs that do little to engage the audience or test their thinking capabilities. But there are some programs that have come out that might be worth checking out. We’ll take a look at a few of them over the next couple of weeks, but let’s start with the best of the lot.

NBC has been the purveyor of some excellent programs over the past few years. It’s been three years since The Blacklist premiered on the Peacock Channel and, just last year, NBC put on another fine action-drama with Blindspot. They may have topped themselves, however, with their most recent entry, Timeless.

Timeless is the story of Lucy Preston (actor Abigail Spencer), a college professor with an ailing, bedridden mother and her stay at home sister, Amy, who takes care of her while Lucy attempts to gain tenure and follow in her mother’s footsteps. Things take a turn, however, when the college she teaches at (and where her mother was quite famous) refuses to grant her tenure, leaving her in a difficult spot. That changes when Homeland Security calls Lucy in for a project.

Coming into a warehouse, Lucy is dumbfounded to meet Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph), a brilliant scientist who has been working on undisclosed “experiments” for the government. According to Homeland Security agent Denise Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey), one of Mason’s projects was a time machine that, after a raid by terrorists led by Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic, who has been making an excellent living playing bad guys of late…or is he…well, not yet), has been stolen. Flynn and his cohorts have taken the time machine back to May 6, 1937.

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As a historian, Lucy knows the significance of the date. It is the day the Hindenburg exploded upon landing in Lakehurst, NJ, but she still doesn’t understand why she’s there to help Mason and the government. Mason explains that, with her knowledge and background in history, she is the best person to send to make sure that history doesn’t change, lest something happens and the “future” from 1937 is altered. Mason explains that there is a creaky prototype of the “Mothership” (the time capsule stolen by Flynn), but it only holds three riders; going along with Lucy on the trip are Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter), a military man (probably Navy Seal from his apparent expertise) who has recently lost his wife and will provide the muscle for the team, and Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett), a computer wizard and engineer on the creation of the “Mothership” who can handle the prototype and get it to and from whatever period of time they have to enter and return.

Upon reaching the flight line where the Hindenburg is landing, the threesome notice that the ground crew (the men catching the lines dropped by the dirigible to anchor the ship) are keeping the ropes off the ground, long thought to have been a theory as the cause for the grounding of the ship and the subsequent spark that set off the hydrogen gas in the blimp. The trio also see Flynn among the ground crew (having told them to keep the lines off the ground) and make chase, but are unable to catch him. Thus they have failed in their mission – keeping history the way it is known – and now must figure out why Flynn wanted to change it.

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Doing some research, Lucy learns that many noteworthy people – bankers, politicians, royalty and the elite – will be on the return flight of the Hindenburg to attend the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in England (which actually was supposed to happen in “our” history) and that Flynn is potentially looking to destroy the ship at that time to have the maximum impact on the future. Meanwhile, Wyatt hooks up with a reporter who reminds him of his deceased wife (and who was supposed to be one of the people killed on the ground in the original history of the crash), who doesn’t quite believe their story but does help them on their trek.

Our set of adventurers eventually end up in jail after killing one of Flynn’s associates (and finding a detonator in his pocket) and, in an attempt to escape to stop Flynn from destroying the Hindenburg, Rufus – who had previously stated to Mason that he didn’t want to go on the mission because as a black man “there isn’t a time in history that was good for me” – causes enough of a ruckus that the police come in, billy clubs brandished, ready to beat him senseless. This gives Wyatt enough time to pick the lock and, with Rufus’ help, immobilize the guards to stop Flynn.

The threesome board the Hindenburg and find the bomb, but are unable to stop it from exploding. They do, however, save everyone on board after forcibly taking over the ship and making it land, thus giving the passengers the quickest way off. During the resulting hubbub, Lucy comes face-to-face with Flynn and, to be honest, this is where it gets a bit interesting.

Flynn tells Lucy that he is looking to preserve history for the better, not destroy it, and tells her to ask Christopher about a certain group known only as “Rittenhouse.” He also shows her a diary that, to Lucy’s horror, is in her handwriting and apparently talks about the trips that are in the future. Wyatt comes upon them and tries to shoot Flynn, but he returns fire and misses Wyatt but hits the female reporter behind Wyatt after he jumps out of the way and kills her. With the Hindenburg now destroyed, the adventurers return to present time not knowing what they’ll find when they get there.

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much wrong other than some altering affected by the crew’s forcible crash landing of the blimp. The team has learned that Flynn is there to alter U. S. history but, even though the history of the Hindenburg has been slightly altered and the passengers who were killed in the original history survived (while none perished in the new historical trek), there doesn’t appear to be much out of line. Christopher sends the team home, at which point the show takes another stunning turn for one of the characters.

Lucy returns home and calls out for her sister but, to her utter amazement, her mother calls for her and comes out of the kitchen. A flabbergasted Lucy breaks down in tears at the sight of her mother in vigorous health (remember, she departed with her mother bedridden), but she still wants to know where Amy is. Her mother doesn’t know what or who she’s talking about and, to Lucy’s horror, she picks up a photo that used to feature the three Preston women that now just features Lucy and her mother. As the pilot ends, Lucy is called back by Christopher as Flynn has taken off to another point in history in the “Mothership.”

The second episode – which dealt with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – is pretty much along the same lines, but a couple more twists are tossed in. Rufus and Mason now seem to be in cahoots as Mason has Rufus recording all the interactions between him, Wyatt and Lucy while they are on their missions, with those recordings going to the shadowy group that Flynn talked about with Lucy after the Hindenburg crash. Second, upon returning from the Lincoln mission, Lucy learns that her father in her original history met and married one of the survivors of the Hindenburg disaster and that is the reason why Amy doesn’t exist. This also leads Lucy to wonder about her OWN background (logically) and, lacking an answer on that front and returning home, finds another change in her history as her mother is throwing a party for her wedding engagement (imagine if you walked in and your mother was doing THAT for you!).

Personally, I’ve always held a fascination with alternative history (if you’ll remember, I was also big on The Man in the High Castle last year) and this show definitely taps into that vein. It goes back to the conundrum about a variation of the Grandfather Paradox known as the Hitler Paradox – if you could go back in history and kill Hitler before he begins World War II, would you do it? The problem with these types of questions – and something that is done well in Timeless (albeit only to Lucy right now – it is supposed to also affect Wyatt and Rufus at some point) – is that changing any point in past history would have an effect on what occurs in the future.

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Without Hitler and let’s just add in World War II also, would the United States have achieved all it did as a world superpower? Would there have been the Korean War, the attempts to stop the Russians and the Domino Theory? Maybe someone who died in WWII would go on to commit worse atrocities than Hitler? Would nuclear weapons have been developed? There’s plenty to think about there (and it does apply to everyone’s life – change one thing in your past and it would alter who you are today).

Timeless taps into this uncertainty and, while Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus are attempting to keep history as they know it correct, there are just enough things that they don’t or can’t prevent that it still has an impact on the present day world (Lucy’s sister disappearing, her mother healthy, etc.). What happens, for example, if they come back from a mission and Wyatt’s wife is suddenly alive? Does he quit? And what about Rufus? What is his purpose and why is he recording the crew?

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The possibilities are endless with this show. Future episodes are looking (and this is from my own knowledge of history and the titles of each episode) at the Manhattan Project, the siege of the Alamo and the Watergate burglary, but there is a wealth of situations that could be investigated. The characters are what keep you interested, critical for any drama, as you try to figure out if Lucy goes mad at some point from all the changes in her personal history, which in some way causes Flynn to start his criminal (hey, we’ve yet to figure out if it is criminal or not, remember) actions, can Wyatt overcome the loss of his wife and the mystery of Rufus (not to mention Morgan, Christopher and this mysterious organization).

Airing at 10PM on Mondays after The Voice, Timeless is a way to test your mind and expand your thinking while being entertained at the same time, making it a fresh show amidst the mindless banter out there (really, do we have to see Kevin James doing a new version of King of Queens? He really isn’t that funny to begin with!).

When Worlds Collide: Tonight’s Clinton/Mutant Debacle

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On Tuesday, the United States will be six weeks away from electing its next President of the United States. With this in mind, the Commission on Presidential Debates (yes, there’s actually such an organization) will be conducting four debates over the next 30 days or so. One of those debates will take place between the two men who are hoping that the person who chose them as their running mate dies a quick and painless death so that they are saved from a job that Texas’ John Nance “Cactus Jack” Gardner, one of the Vice President’s under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, called “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” The other three, unfortunately, will be contested between the Democratic nominee for President, former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee for President, the Orangutan Mutant that is called Donald Trump.

Tuesday night in Hempstead, NY, NBC news anchor Lester Holt will be in charge of a 90-minute, no interruptions debate between Clinton and the Tangerine Nightmare, featuring their replies to the subjects that he has chosen. Those subjects for the debate have been gaudily titled (and completely non-descriptive) “America’s Direction,” “Achieve Prosperity” and “Securing America” (this is unless the aliens from Independence Day land on the major cities of the world – then Holt might come up with some other questions under the equally gaudy title “Aliens in America:  What to Do?”) and two 15-minute segments will be devoted to each topic. Both candidates will be required to respond to Holt’s inquiries and answer in a serious, straightforward manner…and if you believe that, you haven’t seen what’s been going on in the political arena for the last 18 months.

From the time the first candidate announced his intentions of running for President (can you guess who it was? Ted Cruz was the first major candidate to announce his intentions for the Presidency in March 2015), the 2016 Presidential campaign has been a shit show of epic proportions. The sheer size of the Republican cadre of candidates – eventually it would reach 17 nominees – ensured that, whoever emerged from the rubble, that person wouldn’t even have a plurality of support FROM THEIR OWN PARTY. Then there were the Democrats, who basically wanted to anoint a candidate instead of nominate them by running her (Clinton) against a few wannabes and never-weres.

As the poet Robert Burns wrote, however:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!)

Once the GOP clown car started reaching its capacity, along came pseudo-businessman Cheeto Jesus, who immediately shit in the punchbowl, smacked the hostess of the party on the ass and double dipped his chips in the guacamole. From the time he started his campaign – where he announced that Mexicans were “rapists, drug dealers…and some, I assume, are good people” – this misogynous, racist, xenophobic jerkoff brought the vilest excrement from the bowels of his twisted soul. A wall to block Mexicans that stretches across the entire Southern U. S. border…banning Muslims from entering the U. S., then dropping that to “just having a registry” for them…insulting veterans by saying that Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because “I like for my war heroes to not be captured”…saying that the usage of torture such as waterboarding was “mild” and we would have to do worse (what? Shove bamboo under fingernails? Flail the skin off the genitals?), including going after the families and children of “suspected” terrorists and enemy combatants. And THIS is just within the first few months of the announcement of his nomination…he’s since gone on to other lulus that defy description (a “test” of an immigrant’s knowledge and devotion to the country? That’s already done, you asshole…it’s called a citizenship test).

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Under normal circumstance, this lunatic would have been launched to the curb. But you know what happened? 14 million lunatics who hold the similar racist, misogynist and xenophobic ideas finally felt like they could come out of the closet and join Herr Drumpf as he looked to start the First American Reich (such newspapers and websites as Stormfront, The Daily Stormer and American Renaissance – all white nationalist or Nazi groups that represent the bottom of the bucket of humanity – all have announced their support). That 14 million people – a sizeable chunk of the Republican base – could think that such ideas are what the United States were built on is simply stunning in its ludicrousness. But, it worked for Mr. Oompah Loompah and he’s the nominee.

On the other side, Clinton was supposed to simply have to go through the motions and the Democratic nomination would be handed to her as a reward for her embrace of President Barack Obama after he defeated her in 2008. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation:  people started to look at other options.

Whether because of her long history in the nation’s consciousness (a Clinton has been a part of the federal government or running for federal office pretty much since 1992 – almost 25 years now) or because of her duplicitous nature (Clinton is always going to give just enough information but not give you a full description unless forced), Democrats looked to Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders, a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” caught the eye of many who, for the first times in their lives, were looking to elect someone other than a Bush or Clinton (remember, Jeb! Bush was running on the GOP side) to the Presidency (yes, I know Obama isn’t one or the other, but Clinton served in his Cabinet for the first term…we’ll count that).

Sanders would prove to be a proverbial thorn in the side of Clinton as he pushed for a progressive agenda that, instead of taking years to create, he wanted done YESTERDAY. In the end, Clinton would be able to parry away the assault of Sanders to earn the Democratic nomination and be ready for the challenges that the run for the White House present.

Thus, we come to a crossroads with two candidates who couldn’t be more despised by people both inside and outside their parties. These will be the two people who are the choices for the 45th President of the United States (sorry, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein). Thus, how will the resulting debate between the two work out?

Considering what occurred in the GOP debates, Drumpf is not a debater at all. In fact, his debate style could be condensed into a bullying, narcissistic cacophony of horseshit that flows from an entrance point on his face that doesn’t let up. It isn’t factual and it certainly isn’t worried about having to answer for being a lying sack of scum. In fact, the bar is so low for Drumpf that basically all he has to do is show up and not drool on himself to be able to allow his cabal – the “basket of deplorables” – to claim he won.

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Clinton, on the other hand, has to stand there and take whatever mockery that comes out of the Orangutan Mutant’s mouth and not reply. She has to stand there and present her extensive knowledge of virtually every aspect of running the country and, when Holt is finishing getting retouches on his makeup and eating a doughnut, try to demonstrate to him and the country that her opponent is basically a walking Lie Machine. Clinton could probably walk on water to open the debate, then be criticized because she doesn’t know how to swim.

Then again, we could actually have a debate between the two candidates. In that case, Drumpf has already lost – there is no earthly way that he can handle the high level discussion necessary to comprehend the issues presented – and Clinton will blast a hole in his candidacy the size of Australia. Then Commandant Drumpf will not show up for the other two debates (October 9 and 19, if you’re wondering) because he’s “being mistreated” by the press.

To call what will occur on Tuesday night a “debate” is a misnomer. It is better to call it what it will actually be – a debacle – because there will be nothing of substance answered, neither candidate will be called on their obvious lies or even the mildest “stretches of truth” and Holt will kiss both candidates’ asses rather than be a journalist and pose tough questions and follow-up questions (look at the bullshit titles for the segments and tell me that NBC wasn’t focus-grouping those for a couple months now). If we get the Drumpf of the GOP debates, he loses. If he as stated previously can keep from dribbling saliva down one of his Chinese-made neckties, then he’s “presidential.” There’s not a damn thing Clinton can do to make herself more “likeable” because 30 years of public exposure has already cemented the public’s opinion of you.

And that’s the sad thing. A debate is what happens when you want to learn the stances of two (or more) people who are running for office, what they will do once elected. Instead, the Presidential debates have become the latest sideshow of the swirling vortex of sewage that was once known as our political system.

Goin’ South: Pick For the Next NASCAR Champion and Why NASCAR’s Popularity Died

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After a week like the one the world has been having, everyone just needs to step off this weekend and let their minds dwell on less testy matters. The start of college basketball season has been a nice salve for me as it is always interesting to watch the next crop of multi-million dollar NBA pros ply their trade…I mean, play for the honor of the school they are attending. Add in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA college football and the plate is pretty full.

I happened to glance at the calendar and realized this weekend is “Championship Weekend” for NASCAR, the venerable stock car racing body in the United States. On Sunday, four men (and we will get to details on them in a moment) – four-time champion Jeff Gordon, defending champion Kevin Harrick, “wild child” Kyle Busch and “steady Eddie” Martin Truex, Jr. – will be eligible to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in the final race of the “Chase for the Sprint Cup (oddly enough, also its final race…a new sponsor takes over in 2016).” Usually I would have been all over this – who doesn’t like a good stock car race? – but, as I have grown older (and NASCAR has made mistakes), it isn’t a priority to me anymore.

One of the problems with NASCAR is that the season lasts WAY too long. Beginning at the start of February with preparations for the Daytona 500, NASCAR only takes about three weeks off between then and almost the end of November, when they conduct the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. That’s nine months of week-in, week-out events and they all can’t be “edge of your seat” entertainment. There’s more times than not that the product put on the stage is more a solution for insomnia than bringing somebody back to life.

Secondly, there is this manufactured “Chase for the Cup” as a method of determining a champion. About ten years ago, NASCAR thought they needed to add some drama to their method for determining a champion. Some years a driver would win so much that, by the end of the season, said driver had already locked up the championship and made the final race of the season a snooze fest, something that didn’t set well with NASCAR brass from a fan perspective as well as a television (advertisers) perspective.

To counteract this, NASCAR came up with the “Chase.” Using a variety of different point qualifying methods over the years, essentially after 26 races (leaving the final 10 as a “playoffs”) the top ten racers would be separated from the field and deemed the “only” drivers who could win the Sprint Cup. This “playoff” system has been derided by many old school fans of the sport but can be given credit for drawing some eyes towards the battle for the championship over the years (usually after some big crash has caused a fight between the drivers while in the pits).

Thirdly, if you haven’t seen a race on television lately, the reason is that it is harder to find than a virgin in the infield at Talladega. With the current television contract (split between the Fox Television Network and its Fox Sports 1 cable outlet and NBC and their cable side, NBCSN), there are at least four different networks you’d have to search over to find the race. If you don’t have the proper cable package, you might not get NBCSN or Fox Sports 1; that means you’re going to miss some races that have been shuffled off of the major network to these cable sister stations.

Finally, have you looked at attendance at the tracks over the past couple of years? There is hardly anyone in the stands for some of the biggest events on the schedule. It is almost expected that some areas like Kansas, Kentucky or even California might not be able to fill the grandstands (due to location or just plain boring racing), but when such popular racetracks as Talladega and Bristol have empty seats, something is going wrong.

The problems facing NASCAR aren’t exclusive to that sport alone, however (OK, having races somewhere in Kansas might be, but we’ll let that alone for now). Much like the National Football League, with the advent of HDTV and internet services, fans are more likely to stay at home – where they can see pretty much everything going on rather than just when the race screams past them for the umpteenth time – and kick back in their recliner to watch the event. Count in cheaper beverages, not having to pay for a ticket (a family of four could spend as much as $400 to attend one race) and not having to deal with pre- and post-race traffic, it isn’t hard to see why attendance is down and, perhaps, even viewership (due to the television contracts and the different stations).

OK, if you’ve reached this far, you’re probably interested in a prediction on who will win the Ford 400 (look, you have to have a bigger name for your Championship Event than this!) on Sunday. Let’s break the four contenders down in their “Pros and Cons.”

Jeff Gordon

PROS:  This Sunday is the final race in what will eventually be a Hall of Fame career for Gordon. The four-time NASCAR champion would like to go out on top with a fifth championship and there is a sentimentality factor for the fans to send him out that way.

CONS:  For the past few years (he won his last NASCAR championship in 2001), Gordon has been hanging on the edge of the game. Sure, he gets a win once in a while and, for the most part, always was in the Chase for the Cup, but he never was a serious contender. If Gordon was to win the championship, the screams of “FIX!!!” would be heard at racetracks from Fontana to New Hampshire.

Kevin Harvick

PROS:  The defending champion of the series, a likeable character nicknamed “Happy” (once a tongue-in-cheek ode to his temperamental outbursts), Harvick would demonstrate that his 2014 title wasn’t a fluke. He’s been at or near the top of the leaderboard all season long and has won three races over the course of the season.

CONS:  While leagues may like dynasties, NASCAR fans don’t (just ask six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who won five of them in a row). Harvick also rubs some people the wrong way with his attitude towards other drivers, especially when he uses the same tactics. Thoughts are if he hadn’t caused a huge wreck at the end of the November Talladega race, he wouldn’t even have made it to the Round of Eight in the “Chase.”

Kyle Busch

PROS:  One of the most winning drivers in NASCAR and its different racing series over the past decade. Huge talent that has never been this close to claiming a championship. Has a racing pedigree with his brother, Kurt, also winning a NASCAR Cup title. Won four times over the course of the season.

CONS:  Bratty, arrogant, pompous – these are a few of the kinder adjectives used to describe Busch. All those wins hasn’t exactly bought him a great deal of respect from the fans, either. Missed a great deal of the season after a crash at Daytona in February broke his leg; he needed a waiver from NASCAR (and a bit of hard work on his part) to even make the “Chase” to begin with.

Martin Truex, Jr.

PROS:  The epitome of hard work. A single car team from outside the South (the Furniture Row team Truex drives for is based in Denver, CO), Truex has been able to bring this team to the precipice of the goal of any competitor – being a champion. One of the most popular drivers with both fans and fellow drivers in the garage…don’t think that anyone would begrudge him winning the title.

CONS:  Who? Truex isn’t exactly the fan-favorite like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and he nor his team have the history of being among the best in stock car racing, a field that is dominated by three or four large teams for the most part (racing teams operated by Hendricks, Gibbs and Childress, for the most part). If he were to win the title and not win on Sunday (the champion will be determined by who finishes the highest amongst these four men in the race), his one win would be the least by a champion since Matt Kenseth in 2003.

I’ll probably tune in for the final 20 laps or so of the race on Sunday, but I certainly won’t be glued to it as I might have been in the past. While the story of Gordon is nice, the story of the “underdog” Truex is a better story, so I’ll be rooting for him. Hey, it isn’t like they won’t be starting the next season in a month or so anyway.

“Blindspot” A Grey Story That Keeps You Guessing; “Quantico” Misses the Mark

If the calendar has passed the Autumnal Equinox, it must be time for the newest television shows to hit the airwaves of the traditional television networks. Usually these new programs are retreads of past tropes (cop shows! buddy comedies! fish out of water situations!) or are as intriguing as watching a hangnail, which is pretty much the reason that many viewers have left the traditional networks for the various cable, pay networks (HBO, Showtime, etc.) or the growing streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). Still, there are a few shows that will break out for the networks and make it worthwhile to watch commercials.

It is estimated that the major television networks call for somewhere between 20-60 “pilots” to be filmed that will give them a crop to go over and decided which are worthy of airing (or, on the other hand, give them fodder for what used to be the “slower” summer schedule). Cable networks may be counted in this as, once a network has decided to pass on a particular project, it may be revived by such networks as TBS, TNT, FX and others for their channel. This doesn’t stop the cable networks – nor the pay networks or the streaming services – from doing their own thing, however, so it’s conceivable that there could be somewhere around 100-150 pilots out there, of which potentially just 20-40 make the cut.

In 2013, there were a grand total of 26 new series’ (comedic, dramas and reality) that premiered on the major television networks. Of that number, only seven (including the outstanding The Blacklist and the iffy Brooklyn Nine-Nine) survived to come back the next season. In 2014, the number of premieres stayed almost the same (25) as did the survival rate (8). For 2015, the number has dropped to 17 and, by the end of the year (hell, maybe by the end of October), we’ll probably have a good idea as to how many of those will come back for a second season next fall.

One of those that should have a long shelf life (or the potential is there for it to have one) is the new NBC series Blindspot (Mondays at 10PM Eastern Time). From the start, the show lays down its premise very well – after Times Square is cleared out due to a duffel bag left in the street, an amnesiac woman emerges from said bag completely covered in intricate tattoos on her naked body – in that this Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) is the key to something. That’s where the story gets a bit grey, though, and it serves to pull the viewer into the program while giving out drips of information along the way.

FBI Special Agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), the lead investigator following Jane Doe’s – rescue? capture? recovery? you’re really not sure – apparently has a tie to whoever tattooed Doe as one of the decorations on her back addresses her to him by tattooing his name on her directly. Weller discovers after questioning Doe that she doesn’t have any recollections of who she is, who was the artist behind her tattoos or why she was in the bag in Times Square. As Weller – and the audience – finds out deeper into the program, these aren’t the only mysteries that Jane Doe brings to the table.

In the premiere episode, one of Jane Doe’s tattoos – a few lines of a Chinese dialect hidden behind an ear – are translated by Doe (amazing the FBI agents around her, including Weller) as an address in New York City. Heading to the address with Doe in tow (who is understandably quite interested in figuring out what the hell is going on), the FBI finds that a Chinese national is plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty. At the same time, we learn a bit more about Doe as, while she is attempting to stop a man from beating his wife in the apartment complex, she shows off hand-to-hand combat moves that would make Jason Bourne proud in taking down two attackers.

The investigation – into both the Chinese national’s plot and Doe herself – continues, where we learn that Doe COULD be a “black ops” agent trained by the Navy Seals. Meanwhile, the FBI team rushes to the Statue of Liberty, where Weller and Doe take the terrorist down as Doe unlocks a part of her memory – her undergoing weapons training with an unknown bearded gentleman – and prevent the attack from taking place.

While we won’t get into the gist of the second episode (a fascinating story about a former military pilot who hacks a drone to carry out attacks on U. S. soil against those who wronged him), you’ll get enough from the first two episodes to see that this is a show that will have some staying power. Overall it is a “grey” story in that the characters all have some faults that they have to work through, the heroes aren’t all wearing white hats and the bad guys aren’t all twirling their mustaches. For Weller, it is the disappearance of a childhood friend that drove him to join the FBI; for other agents on the team, it is in how much they can trust Doe; for Doe herself, it is who she actually is and if she’s actually a force for good or a tool put in place to cause eventual catastrophe.

The only thing that might derail Blindspot is if it becomes an episodic “Terrorist of the Week” show. Sure, we need to know what happened to Jane Doe, but the team doesn’t need to stop a terrorist from destroying the Five Boroughs every week or stop some sort of crime. Through the usage of the tattoos covering Doe (that seems to be the directional after they are translated by the supercomputer built by the scientist working with the team), we’d like to see them give us more information about the characters and have them grow along with our knowledge of Doe. As long as Blindspot can keep me guessing, I am going to be hooked on the show.

The same cannot be said for the new ABC show Quantico (Sundays at 10PM Eastern Time). The open of the program introduces us to first generation Indian-American newbie FBI agent Alex Parrish (superb Indian actress Priyanka Chopra), who is lying amidst the rubble of a massive terrorist attack in New York City (apparently it has become OK again to depict the Big Apple as the target of terrorists, but that’s an argument for another time). After being plucked from the wreckage by fellow agents and New York’s finest, they put her to the task of identifying from her FBI training class the person who is responsible for the attack.

Here is the first problem with Quantico. From the Incident Command Post in New York, we are whisked back to when Parrish heads off to training with the FBI at its namesake headquarters. Along the way, we are quickly introduced to other members of her class:  a gay man, a Muslim woman, a “legacy” whose parents were both FBI agents and, of course, a hunky guy that Parrish meets on the plane to Quantico and has sex with in his car upon hitting the ground in Virginia (Parrish doesn’t believe she’ll ever meet the guy again; she’s slightly surprised when he shows up in her training class).

The problem is the constant “time hopping” back and forth of the program. Just when you’re beginning to get a gist for what is going on in “real time” (the terrorist attack), you’re pulled out of the situation and plopped back to when the major players were at Quantico undergoing training. While there are moments that push along the plotline (SPOILER ALERT:  a suicide in the premiere episode, driven by an exercise in investigation, brings out plenty of information), the overall feeling of the “school days” of the FBI agent-wannabes is that’s where the writers and producers want to push the “sexy” side of the story, with more emphasis on individuals hooking up than their coursework. Instead of concentrating on one side or the other, you’re never really sure what is supposed to be the main story that is being told by the writers.

By the end of the first episode, it is pretty easy to deduce what is going to happen. Parrish, as she is shocked to learn, is believed to be responsible for the terrorist act and is taken away in cuffs and leg irons on the order of one of her FBI instructors Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkins). While they are driving away from the scene of the crime, the driver whips out a stun gun and zaps the guard sitting beside the driver and busts Parrish out; the driver is Parrish’s Quantico class director Agent Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis), who informs Parrish she is being framed for the terrorist attack and has to find out who actually did it (it is still a member of her graduating class from Quantico) and who is setting her up to take the fall.

The major problem that I have with Quantico is that I normally don’t like when my television programming is 50/50. You’ve got to be able to pull me in with a solid story and a raison d’etre before you start pushing different storyline arcs at me. In the case of this program, the writers have admitted they wanted to do a soap opera-style Die Hard; for me, that’s a no-go. I’d rather have the action than the bed-hopping, backstabbing and other “intrigue” that shows up in the soap opera genre. Put this together with the “time hopping” and I have to admit that Quantico is either something I’ll watch in passing or won’t bother tuning into again.

Are We Seriously Considering Donald Trump for POTUS?

I’ve tried to hold off of this one for quite some time. It seems that the mainstream media (and read that as the major television networks of ABC, CBS and NBC while adding in CNN, MSNBC and Fox News) has been all over the Presidential campaign of billionaire Donald Trump. Yes, the man who used to come into your living rooms with the television reality show The Apprentice…the man who came online with something called “Trump University” that apparently taught you how to be just like him in the business world (and which has brought about as many lawsuits as “students” it educated)…the man whom the comb over (or a traditional hair color) seems to have bypassed. As such, I had held out on doing ANYTHING closely resembling giving Trump any more attention.

But it’s gotten to be a bit much, especially after reading the papers of late.

When the campaigns opened up on both sides of the aisle for the President of the United States in 2016, we all knew it was going to be an ugly situation. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had taken her beating in 2008 – and her subsequent stint as Secretary of State for the man who beat her, Barack Obama – like a good little soldier and seemed a shoo-in for the Dems (quite honestly, something the GOP used to do all the time). Then, like the cherry blossoms along the Potomac, there were the perennial grudges brought up about Clinton by her opponents, which brought Bernie Sanders – your crazy uncle who happens to have a seat in the U. S. Senate – out of the woodwork. Throw in former Governors Lincoln Chaffee and Martin O’Malley and former Senator Jim Webb and you have a veritable “Who?” of the former Secretary of State’s opponents.

The GOP, though, is the crème of the crop. The “Clown Car,” the “Buffoon Bus,” or the “respected statesmen and businesswoman who may be the future leader of our nation” came to the forefront. After getting crushed twice by the Black Man Who Shall Not Be Named, the GOP decided to throw the door open and let the “Crazy Carousel” spin around and let more individuals leap into the fire. What they didn’t plan on, though, was the public getting behind one of the offbeat members that hopped on the ride.

On June 16, Trump entered the race for the Republican Party’s nominee as President in 2016 and immediately set himself apart from the field. The usual term you would use is “distinguished” himself from the field, but there is little about Donald Trump that is distinguished. As we all know by now, Trump made his infamous comments about how the truckloads of Mexicans that are violating our borders illegally are here to rape our White Women and bring drugs to little Suzie and Bobby, something that might have been a part of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles but was too unbelievable to make the final cut in that classic film.

In the past, that would have been enough to push whatever candidate uttered those inept lines into the catacombs of history, if not a little white room with a special suit that had arms that tied in the back and a sedative drip in the carotid artery. Because it was DONALD TRUMP, however, it attracted attention from those who have been searching for someone who could say what they wanted to say but couldn’t say it because they might have to answer for it. Since then, the commentary has become even more ludicrous.

Trump would then go on to deride those who he believes aren’t “war heroes,” priceless information from a man who used every bit of his Daddy’s money to ensure that he didn’t get drafted during the Vietnam War. The expected outrage over that didn’t materialize because the person he was talking about, 2008 Republican Presidential nominee and the senior Senator from Arizona John McCain, adhered to former President Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment and didn’t kick up a fuss over the situation. Moving on, Trump dismissed pretty much everyone who has come within radius of his campaign as “idiots,” “stupid,” “imbeciles,” or, worse yet, suggest that they “crucified” him during a debate with questions because the moderator was on her menstrual cycle. If you listen to Trump, the entirety of the U. S. is the most ignorant species in existence…except for HIM, because he’s going to BRING THE THUNDER against our allies and enemies and “make America great again.”

To this point, none of these things have slowed the Trump bandwagon down. My final point here should, however, end any hope for his candidacy with the GOP and, if they are insane enough to go ahead and nominate him, earn him and them a crushing defeat in the general election. Trust me, however, I’m not holding my breath on Trump ending his candidacy anytime soon.

The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday the attack of a Hispanic homeless man by two South Boston brothers. According to police reports, Scott and Steve Leader were on their way home from a Red Sox game when they happened across the Hispanic man sleeping on the street near a bus stop. The report states the brothers “urinated on the man’s face and then started rummaging through his belongings.” Once the Hispanic man woke up, the brothers then allegedly beat him with a lead pipe and kicked him in the torso, requiring hospitalization for a broken nose and bruised ribs.

Scott Leader, after being apprehended, told the police it was “OK to assault the man because he was Hispanic and homeless.” “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” he allegedly told the police. His brother Steve showed his displeasure with the arrest by pissing on the cell door and both brothers allegedly threatened the law enforcement individuals who processed them. Currently the twosome are in a Boston jail being held without bail.

What was Trump’s reaction to these fine examples of Boston manhood? “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate,” he remarked. “They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

All I can say, after everything said previously, is…are we seriously considering Donald Trump to lead this country?