Thursday, February 23, 2017

Better Than Expected, Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls Are Fun!


The Good: Very real chocolate flavor, Inexpensive, Protective canister is nice
The Bad: Very low on nutritional benefits
The Basics: Surprisingly delightful, Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are the flavor worth picking up!


I love trying new (to me) snack foods. When I picked up the Snakkers Espresso Creme Filled Wafer Rolls (reviewed here!), I thought I would absolutely love them. At the time we bought that canister, we also picked up a canister of Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls. The genuine surprise for me was that both my wife and I found the Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls to be vastly superior to the Espresso flavored wafer rolls. Despite our enthusiasm for the other flavor, the Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls had a more accurate chocolate flavor to them than the Espresso and that made them easy to solidly recommend!

Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls taste sweet and good and make one wish for a chocolate-coated version for even more chocolate flavor. As they stand, though, they are well worth trying and stocking up on.

Basics

Snakkers is the U.S. imprint of a Greek manufacturer with a long history. The Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls come in a metal canister that houses about fifty cookies. Each cookie is a 4 1/4" long by 3/8" in diameter tube. The wafer cookies are kept well-protected and outside removing the first two to three cookies, the cookies seem to remain incredibly well-intact!

Ease Of Preparation

Eating Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls is not a real challenge, simply open the canister, pull out a tube and consume! Once one selects a cookie, all you have to do is stick it in your mouth and chew; there is nothing complicated or foreign about eating these cookies.

Taste

Opening the canister, the Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls smells strongly of chocolate. In fact, opening the canister emits a chocolate flavor that is distinct and real; these smell just like fresh-baked brownies.

On the tongue, the Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are dry and chocolatey. As the wafer rolls crack open and one gets access to the center, the Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls taste strongly like chocolate frosting. The sweetness is not at all generic; the flavor is very much chocolate and sugary, which is delightful.

The Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls leave a slightly dry, strongly sweet aftertaste in one's mouth after they are consumed.

Nutrition

Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are intended as a sweet snack, not a full meal. Four of these cookies (weighing 32 grams) represents a single serving and they are not at all nutritious. Made primarily of sugar, wheat flour and palm oil, these cookies are not at all an all-natural food product. The Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls were produced on equipment that forces them to add a disclaimer about peanuts, sesame seeds and tree nuts. Obviously anyone with a milk allergy should avoid them, though there are also allergy warnings for soy, egg, and wheat!

Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls have 150 calories for a single serving, 50 of which are from fat. A full serving represents 13% of one's RDA of saturated fat, though they are cholesterol-free. The Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are exceptionally low in sodium for a cookie, having only 15 mg (1% RDA) per serving. The Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls have 2 grams of protein, but no other real nutrients. As one who is working on getting heart-healthy, I wish they had been even a full gram of dietary fiber.

Storage/Cleanup

Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are easy to care for and clean up. Unopened, they have a pretty decent shelf life. The canister we picked up a month ago had an expiration date of July 28, 2018. Kept sealed, I am sure they would have lasted at least that long. As cookies, they can leave crumbs, but because the cookies are found in a metal canister, they have little breakage until one bites into them and generates crumbs then!

Overall

Snakkers Chocolate Creme Filled Wafer Rolls are wonderful and worth stocking up on for anyone looking for chocolate wafer cookies in a cool shape! These are perfect with coffee, chocolate milk, or adorning ice cream!

For other reviews of cookies, please check out my reviews of:
Seth Greenberg’s Orange Brownie Crunch
Chips Ahoy! Birthday Frosting Filled Cookies
WhoNu? Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

6.5/10

For other food and drink reviews, please visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Who Truly Cares If Agent Carter Gets Her "Hollywood Ending?!"


The Good: Direction is fine
The Bad: Lack of character development, Predictable plot, No astonishingly good performances
The Basics: "Hollywood Ending" resolves Agent Carter in a way that barely connects the series to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


When it comes to missed potential, Agent Carter might well take the cake. As the show entered what would end up being its series finale with "Hollywood Ending," it seemed like the show had played every possible "spy television" conceit to the detriment of the characters, the performers and, indeed, the plotline to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead of being a smart show that started to weave the threads that would lead into the blockbuster films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and connect the years between Captain America and the early scenes of Ant-Man in a compelling way), Agent Carter instead played out as a heavy-handed rip off of Alias (reviewed here!). "Hollywood Ending" merely continues that latter trend.

"Hollywood Ending" starts in the very last seconds of “A Little Song And Dance” (reviewed here!), so it is tough to discuss the explosive finale of the penultimate episode. "Hollywood Ending" is burdened at the outset by forcing the show to explain in a plausible way what Zero Matter is (after all, Frost and Wilkes can hear voices from it) and resolve the character of Jack Thompson. Thompson is either an incredible spy or exactly the type of person who would be a HYDRA seed within the nascent S.H.I.E.L.D.; figuring that out could plausibly link Agent Carter to Captain America: The Winter Soldier (reviewed here!). Sadly, "Hollywood Ending" does not do that.

As Jack Thompson prepares to detonate the Gamma Bomb, Peggy Carter holds him at gunpoint before a force knocks them all over. Entering Manfredi's facility, the SSR team recovers an apparently healed Dr. Wilkes and witness the Zero Matter going into Whitney Frost's body. Rescued by Jarvis and Stark, the SSR team is extracted. Manfredi, however, is frustrated by Frost's personality change with the Zero Matter and he turns to Howard Stark for help. Wilkes is concerned about separating the Zero Matter from Frost, while Stark wants to separate the two and take custody of the Zero Matter.

To get the equations that Whitney Frost is developing, the SSR team sends Manfredi to get her out of her room. While Carter and Sousa are getting photographs of her work, Frost menaces one of Manfredi's men and is shocked when his man actually has been extorted by the Feds! Getting the data back to the SSR, the team figures out that Frost is building a device to create another rift, without uranium. When the Rift Generator is created and activated, Frost senses the Zero Matter and it leads to an explosive climax for Peggy Carter's SSR team and Whitney Frost!

"Hollywood Ending" puts a human face on Joseph Manfredi, which humanizes the villain right before he is to never be seen again. Manfredi is in love with Whitney Frost (albeit in a generic way that is entirely independent of who she has become) and that allows him to willingly work with the SSR team. But the connection between Manfredi and Frost is tenuous at best and the most real moment for Manfredi is when he realizes that his man is on the take and he is genuinely shocked.

I am one who is very much for tolerance and inclusion, but "Hollywood Ending" goes for politically correct in a way that even I find troubling. Sousa is a great choice for an administrator, but using him as a field agent in a situation where the team might have to move quickly is somewhat ridiculous. A man with a serious limp who walks with a cane is not ideal for a clandestine mission where speed might be essential. Sousa is a good character, but a poor choice for infiltrating Frost's home.

Agent Carter takes on something of a ridiculous quality in "Hollywood Ending" through the technology that is being created. Whitney Frost is in psychic communication (presumably) with beings from the dimension that the Zero Matter is from. As such, she begins creating incredible calculations and equations for a device that will allow her to create rifts. It is beyond the realm of reason to believe that in 1947, even Howard Stark has the equipment on hand to manufacture the Rift Generator. That an advanced dimension would work on analog technology as opposed to transistors and digital or even more advanced technology is preposterous.

"Hollywood Ending" resolves the Isodyne case and completes the story of Agent Carter in a way that fans might want it to continue, but those who enjoy a serious story are not likely to. After all, viewers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were led to believe that Peggy Carter spent much of her life pining for Steve Rogers. While Agent Carter does a decent job of disproving that, it does not do so in a way that provides those invested in the franchise with viable alternatives to Captain America for Peggy Carter. Given how much of Agent Carter's second season hinges on some semblance of romantic entanglements for Peggy Carter, the lack of genuine emotional spark for Carter and her suitors is somewhat unforgivable.

Ultimately, "Hollywood Ending" is what the name promises; most everything gets wrapped up nicely, but Agent Carter ends at a point that might be aggravating for other series's, but just seems passe for the spy drama genre. Viewers are supposed to care who the shooter is in the final scene of the episode, but the villains are like the heroes in Agent Carter; unless they are someone who is seeding into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character is dead and gone long before the major action people care about ever begins.

"Hollywood Ending" resolves Agent Carter with even a minimal sense of style, making for a particularly lackluster season and series finale that leaves the blase prequel to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the very bottom of the franchise.

For other series finales, please visit my reviews of:
"What You Leave Behind" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"Thank You" - True Blood
"Goodbyeee" - BlackAdder Goes Forth

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agent Carter - The Complete Second Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season of Agent Carter here!
Thanks!]

0/10

For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Our Two Cats Who Like Soft Food Love Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food!


The Good: Cats seem to enjoy it, Fairly good ingredients, Does not smell bad
The Bad: Does not entice our kitten, Comparatively expensive.
The Basics: Friskies Turkey & Giblets Dinner Pate cat food is enough to delight two of my three cats!


Over the years, my cats have become more and more acclimated to wet cat food. Wet cat food was not something that I used to get; it was usually so expensive compared to the dry cat food and I've long lived on a budget. But, as the price has come down and my cat Elim has had special needs that require him to eat wet cat food in order to maintain his weight and get him up to a healthy weight, I have bought more and more wet cat food. One of the new staples around my home has been the Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food. The Turkey & Giblets Dinner Pate is a cat food that both Elim and Timber seem to enjoy, even if our newer cat, Evie, does not go for it.

Basics

Friskies Turkey & Giblets Dinner Classic Pate comes in a metal 5.5 oz. single serve container. Supposedly, Elim for his weight and age should eat two of these containers per day! Even on sale, that would be a pricey endeavor, though $1/day might not seem pricey, it adds up compared to dry cat food that Elim and Timber are used to. Ironically, the directions state that kittens might need twice as much of a serving, but Evie (our one and a half year old) cannot be enticed into eating even a little of the Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food.

Ease Of Preparation

The Turkey & Giblets Dinner Classic Pate opens up easily enough in the 5.5 oz. metal container. The small metal container has a thin aluminum lid that easily pulls off. Opening the container reveals the food inside. Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner looks like a lump of ground beef, dark brown with a fatty gravy around the edges. This cat food may be dispensed into a cat's food dish by either smacking it against the bottom of the dish or spooning the contents out into the dish. Alternatively, this wet cat food may be eaten right out of the can, though the metal edges are sharp and that method is not recommended for cats.

Elim And Timber’s Reactions

The Friskies Turkey & Giblets Dinner Classic Pate smells generically meaty, not specifically like turkey. Despite that, Elim and Timber both go for the Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food pretty much the moment I open a can. When I plate it, both cats will stand around the plate to eat it until the other is done. The cats both seem to love the Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food and will eat it whenever it is out and they are hungry!

The Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food does not leave either cat with any sort of smell on their breath.

Nutrition

The Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner is very nutritious for cats and it has nothing noticeably bad in it. Considering that the primary ingredients are meat by-products, water sufficient for processing, and turkey, the Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner Cat Food seems pretty good. According to the guaranteed analysis on the container, there is a minimum of 10% crude protein and 5% crude fat and no more than 1% crude fiber, 3% ash, and 78% moisture. This is food appears to be wheat-free and it most definitely requires refrigeration after it is open!

I cannot afford to give Elim and Timber this regularly, though Elim gets it quite often - especially since our local discount store started stocking it pretty regularly. Hard cat food has clear dental benefits that the Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner does not have. When the cats chew (to split into bite-sized pieces) their hard cat food, it scrapes plaque and tartar off their teeth. There is no such physical operation going on with this cat food.

Overview

Friskies Classic Pate Turkey & Giblets Dinner appears to be loved by two out of my three cats, which makes it well worth giving to most cats!

For other Purina cat foods, please visit my reviews of:
Beyond Barley, Egg & Cranberry Recipe Cat Food
ONE Smartblend Healthy Metabolism cat food
Friskies Mixed Grill Classic Pate Cat Food

7/10

For other pet product reviews, please visit my Pet Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Borg Take On "Camelot/3000" In Legends Of Tomorrow!


The Good: Decent plot development, Special effects, Most of the performances, Fun and dangerous tone
The Bad: Virtually no character development
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow goes forward and back in time with "Camelot/3000," which allows Ray Palmer and Stargirl to become real heroes!


One of the issues for television shows these days is that the television-watching audience has become far more sophisticated than they used to be. Viewers today are much more savvy about serialized arcs, so they tend to be able to handle long arcs and they appreciate a good story that develops over quite a few episodes. Because of the binge-watching phenomenon, individual episodes have to stand on their own and hold up as part of a larger season's story better than they used to. Legends Of Tomorrow has been having some trouble in its second season finding a flow that works for the show episode to episode. One hilarious episode is followed by an intense and violent episode, which is followed by a dark, but predictable, one. "Camelot/3000" treads toward the serious, which is good given how dire the stakes are becoming in the season.

"Camelot/3000" follows on the events of "Turncoat" (reviewed here!), which had a pretty long denoument with Rip Hunter returning to the Legion Of Doom as their tool, while the Legends celebrated Christmas aboard the Waverider. "Camelot/3000" returns Rip Hunter, villain, to the narrative and allows the Legends Of Tomorrow to become a part of Arthurian myth.

Opening in Detroit in the year 3000, Rip Hunter arrives where he meets Charles McNider. McNider does not give up the fragment of the Spear Of Destiny that he possesses, but Hunter realizes that it is probably inside the scientist. Arriving at 3000, Heywood and Jiwe disagree on the nature of their relationship. Jiwe is upset because McNider was Dr. Mid-Nite in her Justice Society Of America and after they discover McNider's corpse, Jiwe clashes with Lance. Lily Stein's daughter created an algorithm for finding the pieces of the Spear Of Destiny and it points the Waverider crew to 570 Britain. While in 3000, though, Dr. Stein stole something from Dr. Mid-Nite's laboratory. When in Britain, the Legends encounter Guinevere and Palmer talks his way into the court of King Arthur. At Camelot, the Legends find Stargirl acting as Merlyn and she explains how the J.S.A.'s final mission went down.

When King Arthur tracks down his mysterious Black Knight, the knight turns out to be Damien Darhk. Darhk and Rip Hunter take control of Arthur's mind and hold Camelot ransom for the fragment of the Spear that Courtney (Stargirl) hid. Fortunately, the object that Stein stole from Mid-Nite's lab is the telepathic control device Rip Hunter is using. Stein uses Rory as a test subject, but the test only informs Stein that Hunter and Darhk are coming in force on Camelot. As Guinevere steps up to lead the remaining knights, the Legends search for the last piece of the Spear to take it from Stargirl. When Heywood checks his manuscript, he realizes Palmer will die in the past and the Legends have to decide whether or not to leave him and save reality or let Palmer become a hero.

By the point of "Camelot/3000," Legends Of Tomorrow has created a web of temporal anomalies that are pretty extraordinary. It seems like a huge stretch to believe that the season can be resolved without it actually undoing the entire season. The adventure in Camelot for Legends Of Tomorrow is, at the very least, fun.

"Camelot/3000" unfortunately minimizes Sarah Lance. Lance continues to get played as a one-note character. It's fun watching Lance seduce historical women and the chemistry she has with Guinevere is good. But it seems like that is the only note the writers are playing with the character. Lance has the potential to be a great leader, but most of the second season, she has been relegated to a simple assassin or temporal lech. Fortunately, by the end of "Camelot/3000" writer Anderson Mackenzie finds more for her to do as an inspirational leader.

Legends Of Tomorrow smartly raises the stakes with the big picture - as Lance recognizes it - with the last fragment being put in play. The addition of a mind-controlled army - it is like a Borg invasion! - could have been a mess, but Legends Of Tomorrow manages to pull it off by having the characters play to their strengths. Dr. Stein is not a traditional fighter, so having him try to hijack the technology Hunter is using to win the day makes a lot of sense. The episode makes surprisingly good use of Stargirl and Ray Palmer . . . two characters who have been either entirely undeveloped (in Courtney's case) or underused - Ray Palmer hasn't had a truly decent arc since Hawkgirl left at the end of the first season.

While "Camelot/3000" has a long build-up, the resolution to the episode is well-executed, even if some aspects of it are predictable. While it might be tough to believe the season might not simply get undone in some fashion by its end, "Camelot/3000" is almost enough to make the viewer believe that the Legends actually have the potential to end up as legendary characters!

For other works with Caity Lotz, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
"Invasion!" - Arrow
"Invasion!" - The Flash
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 1

6/10

For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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So Much Unresolved! Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic Is Unsatisfying.



The Good: Great start, Decent artwork
The Bad: No time for reflection or genuine character development, Three incomplete stories (and a villain origin story!)
The Basics: Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic starts to tell an intriguing and solid story before diverging into two other, completely unresolved, side-narratives!


Recently, I have begun enjoying Daredevil books again and it is interesting to me to catch back up with the vigilante. The whole Marvel Now! reboot of Daredevil was fraught with problems and it was somewhat unsurprising to me when I picked up Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 1 - Chinatown (reviewed here!) and discovered that Matt Murdock (Daredevil) was being returned to New York City and his secret identity was restored. In other words, the writers over the last decade pretty much wrote Daredevil into a corner and lacked a sustainable model for continuing the book. So, following Chinatown, I was actually eager to pick up and read Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic.

Not being overly familiar with a wide variety of titles, I am not sure if Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic marks Elektra's return to Marvel Comics in the new Marvel Now! framework, or if it is merely her first appearance in Daredevil since the reboot. But, fans of the long arcs of the Daredevil character will no-doubt be psyched then Elektra pops right up in Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic. Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is a trade paperback anthology that compiles four issues (6 - 9) and the Annual #1. Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is very easy to pick up and read, though readers have to know going in that the Daredevil storyline has been reset so only Foggy Nelson knows that Daredevil is Matt Murdock (so Elektra, in this incarnation, would not know Daredevil is blind). Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is essentially three stories, with no real connection between them, which is frustrating especially considering where the first story ends!

At 2 A.M. in Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil is waiting for Elektra on a buildingtop when she appears, more violently than Matt expected. Daredevil was expecting Elektra because she appeared in a night court case that Murdock was working in his capacity as A.D.A. and Elektra and Matt went out for a drink afterward, so he is surprised when she attacks him. Daredevil is saved from being murdered by Elektra when Blindspot comes to his rescue, but he sends his apprentice away. Once alone, Elektra reveals that she is searching for her daughter and is convinced Daredevil knows where she is.

Elektra gives Daredevil a phone, supposedly with a video on it, that shows Elektra's daughter Iona, being trained by The Hand, while Daredevil watches. When Matt takes the phone to Foggy (the only person around who still knows his dual identity), Foggy tells him the phone is empty, which makes Matt suspect Elektra is playing him. When Daredevil reveals that the phone was empty to Elektra, she chases down the person who gave her the phone and is triggered with a simple phrase. Daredevil believes he knows who is behind programming Elektra. Abruptly, though, Elektra is out and Daredevil heads to Macau to recover a briefcase that Black Cat is trying to sell on the black market there. Aided by Spider-Man, Daredevil fights through gamblers and thugs from New York to Hong Kong to recover the case . . . only to have Spider-Man extort him for information once it is in their possession! The book climaxes with Echo rushing to aid Daredevil when she is at a concert where the audience is transformed into creatures through the use of sound waves. Preventing Daredevil's superhuman hearing from picking it up, Echo learns from the veteran hero that this is probably the work of Ulysses Klaw and they set about to stopping his latest attempt at propagation.

Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is intensely unsastisfying, not only because the book is capped off with a pointless backstory for Melvin Potter (where Daredevil is barely present as a tangent character!) and an adventure with Echo where she completely dominates the narrative and Daredevil might as well not even be in it, largely because the set-up for the book is so good . . . then abruptly dropped. The Elektra and Daredevil story is completely a set-up story and it is an intriguing one. Elektra has been programmed by someone with the express purpose of hurting the assassin and rattling Daredevil. Great! Daredevil thinks he knows who the culprit is, so the next logical step in the story should have been for him to hunt down his suspect and get to the bottom of why Elektra was being used as a pawn. No such luck for readers of Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic changes to a completely different story.

The climax of that story - spoiler alert! - puts Daredevil in a position to take out a number of significant villains in the street-level criminal world of the Marvel Universe. So, readers are prepared to see how Daredevil takes out Tombstone, Wilson Fisk and Black Cat (among others), but when they turn the page, Echo is on a date! Seriously?! After one strong set-up and one set-up at the end of a winding, pointless narrative, the book ends with Daredevil as a guest star in his own book and it's not even truly worth reading.

On the plus side, in addition to the return of Elektra, Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic marked the first time I recall that the Night Nurse, Linda Carter, popped up in a Daredevil book I had read. Between that an a reference to Black Cat, my slowly-growing knowledge of the Marvel Universe is finally coming in handy!

Beyond that, the only real positive aspect of Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is the artwork. All of the characters are recognizable and there is a decent sense of movement panel to panel, especially in the fight scenes. Elektra looks amazing, as expected, and that helps her story pop. Macau and Hong Kong make for interesting settings for the second story and they look good as well. Echo's portion of the book has a different visual style and that helps characterize it and K.L.A.W. nicely. It might not be the most compelling story, but it is rendered in a visually distinct way.

Ultimately, though, it is not enough to save Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic. Daredevil: Back In Black Volume 2 - Supersonic is far more frustrating a read than it is intriguing or well-developed.

For other works by Charles Soule, please check out my reviews of:
Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis
Inhuman Volume 2: Axis
Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage
She-Hulk: Law And Disorder
She-Hulk: Disorderly Conduct

3.5/10

For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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"Attack On Gorilla City" Sets Up The Flash Team As Fools!


The Good: Special effects, Most of the acting, Jesse/Wally subplot
The Bad: Predictable plot, Character defects, Light on character development
The Basics: "Attack On Gorilla City" is an important set-up episode for The Flash, which puts Gorilla Grodd in the driver's seat and makes fools out of most of the main characters.


The Flash has had very few conceptual missteps in its two and a half year run, but one of the problematic aspects of the series has been its treatment of Gorilla Grodd. Last seen in the second season episode "Gorilla Warfare" (reviewed here!), Grodd was removed from the narrative of The Flash when, rather than use Grodd to help in their struggle against Zoom, Grodd was sent through a portal to an alternate universe. "Attack On Gorilla City" returns Grodd to the narrative as Barry is forced to journey to Earth-2 to confront the displaced gorilla.

"Attack On Gorilla City" is preceded by "Untouchable" (reviewed here!) and the prior episode climaxed with a portal opening and Jesse Quick appearing to ask Wally West for help. "Attack On Gorilla City" promised the chance for viewers to see the Earth-2 Harrison Wells again and the episode introduced Solovar to the television universe of The Flash, which is something fans of the book have been waiting for!

Two weeks after Harrison Wells went on an expedition into Gorilla City on Earth-2, Jesse Quick crosses over to Earth-1 to get the help of the Flash. Jesse Quick wants The Flash's help in saving Harrison Wells - who is the only member of the expedition team who is still alive - and Barry agrees because one of the headlines from the future he is trying to alter involves a gorilla attack. Barry, Cisco, and Dr. Snow prepare to go to Earth-2 and Julian Albert tags along. In Central City, Kid Flash and Jesse Quick speed off to stop a robbery and Jesse seems to recognize just how Wally West has changed in her absence.

Barry and his team walk into a trap and are captured. There, the Flash and Vibe's powers are dampened and Wells arrives - manipulated by Grodd. Grodd wants The Flash to overthrow the gorilla king, Solovar, who plans to wage a war on humankind on Earth-1. Solovar arrives at the cells and he refuses to let the Flash's team go. Barry steps up to fight Solovar in combat (the gorilla's justice) to try to save his friends.

"Attack On Gorilla City" affords the writers of The Flash a chance to poke fun at Tom Felton. There is an allusion to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (reviewed here!), which Felton was in. As well, the whole set-up for Harrison Wells in Gorilla City is very King Kong.

For a contrived parallel universe episode, "Attack On Gorilla City" has a fairly decent set-up. The idea that the evolved gorillas living in Earth-2's Gorilla City need Wells to open a breach is a good one. What makes little sense is Grodd's story; why the Earth-2 gorillas would want to wage war on Earth-1 before conquering their own Earth first makes no sense. Similarly off is Cisco's plan for The Flash in the combat. Cisco advises Barry to punch Solovar, but it takes a while for them to work up to the obvious solution to a giant telepathic Gorilla holding a massive metal shield; lightning throw.

Tom Cavanagh clearly has fun returning to the role of Harrison Wells after playing H.R. for so many episodes (and in "Attack On Gorilla City"). Unfortunately, Cavanagh is not able to hide his smirk while playing Harrison Wells as possessed by a gorilla.

The Jesse Quick and Kid Flash subplot in "Attack On Gorilla City" is fairly well-executed. The two characters have decent on-screen chemistry. "Attack On Gorilla City" has a decent balance of their scenes with the Earth-2 scenes. Their relationship-building is balanced nicely against The Flash's philosophical speech and combat.

The special effects in "Attack On Gorilla City" are exactly as good as one expects from The Flash. The combat scenes are excellent, but even the set designs and special effects for the setting are pretty impressive.

"Attack On Gorilla City" is a trap episode and part of the problem with the episode is that the traps are so obvious that it is astonishing how stupid the S.T.A.R. Labs team is by comparison. Despite the idiocy of the protagonists, "Attack On Gorilla City" manages to have good pacing, direction and plot development enough to set-up the next episode well.

For other works with Keith David, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Rick And Morty - Season 2
Cloud Atlas
The Princess And The Frog
Gamer
Coraline
Mr. And Mrs. Smith
Crash
The Chronicles Of Riddick
Dark Fury
Barbershop
Requiem For A Dream
Pitch Black
Princess Mononoke
Hercules
Gargoyles - Season 1
Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters"
Platoon

5.5/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Even Worth The Expense, Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Coffee Should Be Enjoyed!


The Good: Caffeinated, Aromatic, Strong without being overly bitter
The Bad: Comparatively expensive (but worth it!)
The Basics: One of the perfect whole bean coffees worth tracking down, Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Coffee is delightful!


I love coffee and the truth is, sometimes when I find a great coffee there is a hedging of bets within my mind. There is a calculus for the cost versus the quality and far too often, the brand named coffees that are recognizable and established (especially those based upon coffee chains) often are a bit more expensive than their quality warrants and the result is that the consumer is paying more for the brand name than the quality of the beverage. That is not at all the case with Lavazza Super Crema Espresso coffee. While Lavazza Super Crema Espresso is a little more expensive than some other whole bean coffees, the quality justifies the price; it is worth the expense.

Super Crema Espresso is a Lavazza coffee that is available in bulk (I found mine at my local discount store in a 2.2. lb. whole bean bag!) and that makes it worthwhile on both the flavor and expense fronts, as well as being an environmentally decent way to get the coffee!

Basics

Lavazza is a premium coffee company that recreates (supposedly, I've never been, so I can's speak to its authenticity!) an Italian coffee experience. We found the Super Crema Espresso in a 2.2 lb. bag of unground coffee beans.

The Super Crema Espresso Blend is an aromatic blend that smells, appropriately, of coffee. We blended it for use in both our percolator and espresso machines and found virtually no difference in the flavor quality between the two, making it a great, versatile coffee for consumers who like a lot of gadgets!

Ease Of Preparation

Super Crema Espresso Coffee is easy to prepare, but because it comes in whole bean form, it is not as easy as some coffees. After opening the bag, pour an appropriate amount of Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Coffee into your coffee grinder - I still highly recommend the Cuisinart Supreme Grind coffee grinder (reviewed here!) that I have been grinding with for over a decade since I first found it! After grinding your beans, measure out one heaping tablespoon for every two cups of water in your coffee maker. Super Crema Espresso Coffee is intended for automatic (drip or percolating) coffee makers. This is NOT an instant coffee. As a result, it needs to be brewed and I use a Hamilton Beach machine (reviewed here!) with a Crucial Coffee #4 Permanent coffee filter (reviewed here!). Despite living in fear of it, I have also used the Lavazza Super Crema Espresso in my Mr. Coffee Cafe Espresso Maker (reviewed here!), with good results.

Consult your coffee maker's instructions for how to brew the coffee. However, as far as the basics go, you'll need a coffee filter, which you put the Super Crema Espresso Coffee in and then brew through your coffee maker. The directions recommend making a pot at a time and serving it within twenty minutes and brewing complete pots does seem to net a more unified taste to the coffee (nothing too weak or too strong, no surprise sips that are uncommonly bitter - which has not happened at all with this coffee!).

Taste

The Super Crema Espresso has a very bold, dark coffee aroma to it. The rich scent of coffee is strong and inviting to anyone who loves a potent cup of coffee.

On the flavor front, the Super Crema Espresso is dark and flavorful. Ironically for a coffee called Super Crema, this Lavazza coffee has a very smoky flavor to it. The Super Crema Espresso rides the very edge of coffee flavor between "dark roasted" and "burned" in a strangely delightful way. The Super Crema Espresso is powerful and dark, but does not finish bitter like most very dark roast coffees!

The Super Crema Espresso does not have an enduring aftertaste, either. The dark, roasted coffee flavor fades from the mouth after only about a minute.

Nutrition

This is coffee, not something that appears on the nutrition pyramid! Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Coffee does not contribute anything to one's daily recommended allowance of anything. In fact, the bag does not have any ingredients list that I could find.

The Lavazza Super Crema Espresso is a caffeinated blend and it feels like it! This has enough caffeine to pop one's eyes open between the taste, aroma and caffeine. Because it is a caffeinated coffee, it appears to not have undergone any of the chemical processes that sometimes cause complications in decaffeinated coffees.

Storage/Clean-up

Super Crema Espresso Coffee ought to be stored sealed in its bag with the top firmly closed. Coffee is known to absorb flavors of food nearby it, so keeping the bag tightly closed is highly recommended. There are different schools of thought on refrigerating open coffee and I have a very clean refrigerator with a lot of ways to segregate coffee, so I tend to come down on the side of refrigerate it. The container makes no recommendations on that count, though the bag of Super Crema Espresso Coffee I bought in December 2016 would not expire until April 13 2018, so I doubt it would go bad - especially in its unground form - long before then!

After brewing, coffee grounds ought to be disposed of. These grounds may be thrown in the trash when used or put in a compost pile, if available. Coffee grounds make great compost.

Overall

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Coffee is pretty much perfect; it has a strong coffee flavor without any of the bitter detractions one usually finds in very dark blends. That makes it worth the price and a great value for anyone who loves dark coffee blends!

For other coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Lavazza Gran Crema Espresso Coffee
Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw Dark Roast Coffee
Celestial Seasonings The Godfather Black Tea Concentrate

10/10

For other food or drink reviews, please check out my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Fitz, Simmons And LMDs Abound In The Wonderful "Self Control!"


The Good: Amazing performances, A couple of good character moments, Some actually awesome reversals
The Bad: Derivative plot
The Basics: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. provides one of the best episodes of the series with "Self Control."


Sometimes, a show takes a turn that makes it pretty much impossible to discuss what comes after. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. did that in the first season when HYDRA was revealed in "The End Of The Beginning" (reviewed here!). With the climax to "The Man Behind The Shield" (reviewed here!) being what it was, it is impossible to discuss "Self Control," the subsequent episode, without revealing what that climax was. It is also tough to discuss "Self Control" without addressing the serious problem with the revelation at the end of "The Man Behind The Shield."

"Self Control" follows the unsuccessful attempt to rescue May from The Watchdog facility where Radcliffe had her and, apparently, the framework. "Self Control" opens burdened by the problem that followed that mission, as Fitz and Simmons - in questioning the timeline of their mission - came across a disturbing discovery . . . that the new LMD monitors had been disabled. In Simmons and Fitz coming to believe that Coulson, Johnson, Mack, and Mace had been replaced with LMDs, everything that follows is called into question. Or, it could have been. "The Man Behind The Shield" ended with LMD Coulson and LMD May, a scene which did not include either Fitz or Simmons. Genre fans who are inclined to believe that 4 LMDs infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters is a ruse and Fitz and Simmons are actually inside The Framework are pretty much debunked by the scene that has neither of them in it. So, "Self Control" opens with the viewer credibly believing that in our reality, all of the main field agents and the current Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been replaced with Life Model Decoys.

Aida is at her facility with the unconscious, framework connected S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, where she has Anton Ivanov (The Superior) in her clutches and she begins to cut him up. At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Fitz and Simmons agree to keep quiet to the LMDs about their nature in order to survive the infestation. Coulson and Mace decide that the Inhumans should all be brought to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, which is part of their plans to kill the Inhumans for the Watchdogs and Aida. When LMD Coulson visits LMD May, he is shocked that May is repulsed by his nature.

Fitz and Simmons begin to experience real tension when the LMD detector goes off when they go into a lab alone. After a tense stand off, Simmons convinces Fitz to slit his own wrist and when he does, he attacks her to put her in the Framework. When Daisy makes preparations on the containment module, LMD Mack becomes concerned because he knows what she will find . . . an army of LMD Daisy's waiting to go online! When Daisy and Simmons reunite, Daisy is able to convince Simmons of her humanity and gain her trust at the same time. Aida finds that she is in conflict with Radcliffe over her two prime directives, so she finds a way to resolve the paradox. As the LMDs set the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Daisy and Simmons, the pair works to escape the base and save the Inhumans from extinction.

"Self Control" is somewhat disappointing in that the LMDs have been programmed differently from LMD May. As a result, all of the principle actors have to perform far more robotic and menacing. Clark Gregg, Jason O'Mara and Henry Simmons all rise to the occasion of playing robotic and . . . sparkless. Their characters fail as LMDs as none of the three characters seem at all like the main characters, they seem like robots.

The best performances in "Self Control" come early from Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. The tense scene between the two in the lab is astonishingly good. Henstridge's reaction after Simmons makes the attempt to shut down the LMD Fitz is incredible. De Caestecker gives his performance of the series in the scene where Fitz convinces Simmons of his humanity. His tears look incredibly real. Henstridge shows the most pure moment of relief when Simmons hugs Daisy and that is pretty wonderful.

"Self Control" is the first episode of the season that gives Daisy an awesome role and actually relies some on her character. For the first time in a long time, Daisy mentions hacking . . . she started as a hacker. While there is a bit of plot derivation - Daisy being human (or Inhuman) in the lair of the enemy has been done multiple times now - but it is refreshing to see Daisy actually act like Daisy for a change. What makes little sense - outside the "cool factor" - is the big fight sequence Daisy is involved in. Daisy has the power to use her Inhuman abilities and yet the fight with Mace goes on far longer than it ought to have.

The episode climaxes with LMD May being given a pretty awesome role as well. Ming-Na Wen blows her brief part in the episode out of the water.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had some rough episodes in the fourth season as the show has tried to find its groove. The season was limited in its opening by getting off on the Ghost Rider tangent - which only served the purpose to introduce the Dark Hold and allow Aida to create the Framework. But "Self Control" takes where the show has meandered and made something truly awesome, setting up an alternate-reality episode for next week that could be awesome.

For an episode that utilizes a lot of reversals, "Self Control" is one of the best that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever done.

For other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Ricardo Walker, please visit my reviews of:
"BOOM"
"Lockup"
"The Ghost"

9/10

For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of all the episodes and seasons I have reviewed!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Churros For Dogs?! Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Are A Take-It Or Leave-It Dog Snack!


The Good: Healthy, Great dental benefit for dogs, Good ingredients, Low breakage factor
The Bad: Not Myah's first choice (when she is given one), Expensive, Not a great or distinctive scent
The Basics: Myah was initially intrigued by Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks, but that interest faded pretty fast . . .


When it comes to dog treats, my Siberian Husky does not care about changes in product lines or when I get her treats on clearance because a company has changed its focus. So, when I picked up the big bag of Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care dog treats for Myah at our local grocery store because they were clearancing a bunch of their pet food lines, Myah was just happy to get something new. Or, at least, Myah was initially excited by these treats. But, variety does not last long with dogs. It did not take long for Myah to become entirely indifferent to the Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care.

Myah tried the first two Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks eagerly, but it has been a chore getting her to try the other sixteen. In fact, it is only when our cat Elim makes moves to eat her treat that Myah will consume the Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care dog snacks now.

Basics

We picked up the 20.7 oz. bag of Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Large Dog Snacks at our local grocery store on clearance for just under seven dollars - the eighteen treat bag would have cost more than thirteen before that! That is a bit expensive, though it is on par with dog treats for bigger dogs, like Myah.

The Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks dog treats are hard stick treat that is roughly cylindrical with fins for aiding in cleaning a dog's teeth. The very mealy dog treats are fairly textured and brown. Each tooth-cleaning treat is 4 1/2” long and 7/8” in diameter. The Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care treats are hard enough that they help brush the dog's tongue and teeth when they chew them . . . but getting Myah intrigued enough to bite into one now is a tough sell.

Ease Of Preparation

The Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care treats are a ready-to-eat dog treat and only requires one to open the bag to dispense. The bag is resealable to keep the treats inside fresh.

Myah’s Reaction

The Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks smell mealy and grainy, which is appropriate given that these are a grain-based treat. Myah ate the first two Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care dog snacks eagerly, but she does not go for them anymore. I was pretty shocked, because the first treat worked amazingly well to clean off Myah's tongue and teeth. Even without a strong or distinctive scent, the Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care did what they promised, but to get the dental benefits, a dog has to want to eat the treat. Myah tired of these after only two!

Nutrition

Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks dog treats are healthy-enough to recommend without any serious health detractions for the dog. With at least 6% crude protein, 2% crude fat and no more than 1.5% crude fiber and 15% moisture, the Purina Beneful Healthy Smile Dental Dog Snacks offer some decent nutrition to dogs. Made primarily of rice, wheat flour, and glycerin, Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks appear to have nothing bad in them. They do, however, have enough preservatives to make them last; ours would last until August 2017 if Myah decides to be finicky about them.

As with all dog treats, it is highly recommended that when you give your dog Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks, you make sure they have a decent supply of clean water available. Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks treats are not intended to replace dog food.

Overall

Myah is largely indifferent to Purina Dentalife Daily Oral Care Dog Snacks, though when she does eat them, they are very good for her!

For other Purina dog treats and foods, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Purina Waggin' Train Chicken Jerky Tenders
Beneful Dental Dog Snacks Stars
Beneful Originals With Beef

4/10

For other dog products, be sure to visit my Dog Product Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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"Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" Is Fun And Flirty Supergirl!


The Good: Decent performances, Good special effects
The Bad: Predictable plot, Contrived character conflicts
The Basics: Supergirl opens the door to magic with "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" and makes a generally fun episode that sidesteps its biggest potential problems!


The DC Comics Television Universe has done a fairly good job on The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow of having a pretty decent scientific base (the Legends Spear Of Destiny conceit aside - it hasn't been revealed yet, so it's possible it will still be pulled off with a scientific explanation). It was very hard, going into the Supergirl episode "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" to see how that might be maintained on Supergirl - a show that was pretty well packed with aliens and alternate dimensions. Magic had not come up in Supergirl before, but in Superman comics, Mr. Mxyzpltk is from an alternate dimension and he utilizes magic - which is why Superman is vulnerable to him. How Supergirl could bring Mr. Mxyzptlk into the narrative without acknowledging some aspect of magic was instantly a problematic conceit with the episode.

"Luthors" (reviewed here!) introduced Mr. Mxyzptlk in its final moment, which leads into "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk." While Supergirl has been toying for several episodes with a "will they or won't they" romance between Kara and Mon-El, Mr. Mxyzptlk showing up was a pretty obvious wrench into their potential relationship.

In the moment after Kara and Mon-El kiss, Mr. Mxyzptlk arrives to try to woo Kara. He illustrates impressive power to teleport and (apparently) create objects and he teleports Mon-El to the DEO in his underwear. When Kara tells Mr. Mxyzptlk she is not interested in marrying him, he disappears and when visiting the DEO, J'onn identifies the new alien as a 5th Dimensional being. Alex is a bit miffed to discover that Maggie hates Valentine's Day and at the alien bar, Winn is bullied until he is rescued by Lyra, a refugee from Star Haven.

When Alex turns to Kara for advice on how to deal with her Maggie problem, Parasite suddenly attacks. Mxyzptlk rescues Mon-El and Supergirl, but they quickly realize that he is the cause of the return of Parasite. In going through the DEO archives, Winn finds an artifact that tests high in 5th Dimensional energy and Mon-El takes it to try to use against Mxyzptlk. When Alex tries to do a romantic night for Maggie for Valentine's Day, it backfires on her, but leads them to a bigger truth from Alex's new love. When Mon-El calls Mxyzptlk out, they end up in a duel and Mon-El discovers the DEO artifact has the ability to contain the power of the 5th Dimensional being. But Mxyzptlk destroys the artifact, which puts Kara in a bind in order to rescue him. To save Mon-El, Kara agrees to marry Mxyzptlk.

"Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" is odd in that some of its humor immediately is based upon incredibly Victorian values. When Mr. Mxyzptlk teleports Mon-El to the DEO, he is teleported in his underwear and the idea that that level of undress - or any level of undress - would upset him is a very human, very Victorian, notion. Similarly, Mr. Mxyzptlk - in helping Supergirl to stop three gunmen - makes an oblique reference to the film X-Men (reviewed here!). How the DC Television Universe justifies Marvel Comics movies within their narrative is unclear.

The relationships in "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" are engaging, though the two main ones fall into very predictable arcs. Mon-El and Kara fight through much of the episode, fighting over Mxyzptlk and his attempt to woo Kara. This allows both Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood to play some wonderful angry chemistry between them for their characters. Kara is upset over Mon-El's jealousy and lack of trust and when Kara agrees to marry Mxyzptlk, the more subtle levels of upset that Benoist is able to play shows real range for her!

The other big relationship in "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" is between Alex and Maggie. The relationship has a pathetically simple problem/solution. Alex has a bad past history with Valentine's Day and Alex loves it. Alex is not honest with Maggie about how much she truly wants to spend Valentine's Day with her and Maggie, it turns out, lied about how she came out in her early backstory. Both of these problems are incredibly simple and could have been entirely avoided if they were honest with one another from the outset. The only reason they were not seems to be to create exactly this type of dramatic tension down the line, which is disappointing and immature.

In "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk," Winn is written virtually identically to Cisco Ramon on The Flash. In fact, Winn's arc with Lyra is essentially Ramon's ongoing fantasy with Golden Glider or any of the metahumans he has had a crush on. Jeremy Jordan plays Schott well, but he is reciting lines written essentially for another character.

Mxyzptlk himself is an interesting, if horribly misguided, character. "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" manages to completely sidestep the whole "magic" conceit by explaining Mxyzptlk as a 5th Dimensional being whose powers only appear as magical. Unfortunately, Mon-El believes that the only way to banish a 5th Dimensional being is to get it to say its name backwards, but there is no scientific reason that should work and it is not satisfactorily explained within the episode.

Despite that, "Mr. And Mrs. Mxyzptlk" is a fun and generally satisfying Valentine's Day episode of Supergirl!

For other works Barry Nerling has been in, please visit my reviews of:
"Compromised" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Legends Of Today" - The Flash
Robocop
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Tin Man

6/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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