Painkiller Jane: Higher Court and Friendly Fire

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In the spirit of Broken Frontier’s quest for excellence in reporting and reviewing, it’s Two For One Week at the TV review bunker.

And that means two Painkiller Jane reviews for the price of one.

Don’t all of you clap at once, now hear?

Painkiller Jane, Review #!: Higher Court

To paraphrase that writer of extremely long books and extreme Victorian party animal, Charles Dickens, "It was the best of shows, it was the worst of shows."

I will now describe the show in 75 words or less, firstly because I catch you up on the action really, really quickly, but also because I need to write this review while my six year old son is watching Johnny Test:

Maureen’s boyfriend takes the Express Elevator of Death from a penthouse bar. Why? Who knows. Then Jane goes toe to toe with a neuro who can make you see anything he wants you to. Connor King nearly kills the bunch (too bad he can’t hit the broad side of a barn), and Jane figures out how to use the news of their deaths to ensnare the bad guy. Like salsa with that chip, Mr. Neuro?

Whew! 75 on the dot.

The show was the best because the action sequence where Connor King thinks that terrorists have infiltrated the gang’s HQ was really well shot and the action and suspense was probably the best yet in the show’s run.

The show was the worst for two reasons: 1) inability to suspend disbelief, and dialog that would make a pork rind wilt.

As I intimated above in the recap, you’d think that a trained agent who really thinks he’s under attack would be able to at least wound a couple of the bad guys, or maybe even take one of them out. Well, that didn’t happen. I also sincerely doubt that even the robust PKJ would be able to put down the even more robust Connor King.

Then there was the stilted dialogue. While most of PKJ is relatively well written, one line at the end of the show stood out because it fell flat as a pounded flounder. The neuro of the week was able to make you think what he wanted … in other words, he played mind games on you. When he was chipped, he looked toward Maureen and said, "What have you done to me?"

To which she replied with all the gravitas of an athlete delivering a life message to a teen advocacy group, "We changed your mind … about changing people’s minds."

Tell me that anyone would ever say such a thing, even in their wildest dreams.

But overall, the show delivered in interesting premise and the visuals and special effects made it fairly believable.

But that brings us to the second part of Two For One Day at the review bunker!


Painkiller Jane, Review #2: Friendly Fire

In this case, it was simply the worst of shows … there was little that qualified as best.

And I will try to drop my word count to 50 words (Johnny Test is nearly over):

Jane, Maureen, and Riley wind down their evening revelry watching Maureen get a chameleon tattoo on the small of her back. The tattoo provides the key element when a shape shifting neuro tries to mimic Maureen so he can get Jane to reveal the location of NICO.

Whew … beat the count by three words. Do I ROCK, or what?

All right, I didn’t mention that Jane was captured and detained in a hospital, ostensibly to be studied by the very Hans & Franz-ish Dr. Baumgartner (Jane … Ve vill pump you up…) after it is revealed that she killed Riley as part of a neuro-inspired fit of rage.

You followin’ me?

On to the review … A shapeshifting neuro? Haven’t we seen this before, like in every comic, show, or movie imaginable? There is Mystique from all three X-Men films, Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes (Spaceman Spiff, dinsaurs, etc.), Ranma of Ranma ½, Fullmetal Alchemist, and even knock-offs like Transformers. Heck, Dr. Sin even created a copy of Jonny Quest’s bodyguard, Race Bannon to steal secrets (okay, that’s really not shape shifting, you get where I’m going).

So, while it isn’t out of bounds to go there in Painkiller Jane, it is really out there to think that a shapeshifting neuro could completely bamboozle Jane by forming exact copies of all her cohorts. What should have given it away from the start was that Jane never saw any of her friends in the room at the same time.

In the end, Jane was able to figure out that Maureen wasn’t Maureen because she didn’t have a tattoo that Jane saw her get … it was one of her last memories before she was captured and shipped off to the hospital.

There were enough funky plot twists and crazy reveals in this episode that if felt like you were on a roller coaster, but the coaster was in a fun fair that seemed fairly familiar (how is that for awful alliteration?). Because of the nature of the show the viewer almost immediately started asking, "Who is the neuro of the week and why is he doing what he is doing?" Once it because obvious that the neuro could make Jane think he was anyone he wanted to be, then it became an exercise to try to guess how Jane was going to trip him up and get word to her friends (who never stopped trying to find her, by the way).

Now for the two questions on the tops of everyone’s tongues:

#1: Was the show any good?

Yeah … it was okay. But it left me wondering why Jane didn’t make an overt effort to exorcise her own fears of being a neuro (and the adverse consequences that it might have on her career) when she was given such an intense look at what those consequences might be.

#2: Was I able to decipher the plot device that would give the bad guy away so early that it rendered later plot twists moot?

Oops! Johnny Test is showing credits. Gotta go.

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