Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

My photo
Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: I Think Elena Posses a Good Question

(2.10, "The Sacrifice")

Why should everyone sacrifice themselves for her and she not do the same?

Oh right, because her plan was stupid and wouldn't actually "save" anyone if it had worked.  But still, friends, family, boyfriends, and stalkers should all give some thought to her thesis.  Might make them reconsider some of their life choices.

What am I talking about, no they wouldn't.

And if all and sundry weren't so hell bent on keeping Elena from being Claus' ritual victim, then Stefan wouldn't have gotten stuck in the tomb with Katherine.  How cool was that!  All the plans and spells and self-sacrifice from all parties involved and in the end, because Elena was being dumb, the first solution ended up being the outcome; another vampire had to go in and get it.  And having the audience watch Stefan listen to Damon and Elena's argument was much better than having the viewer watch them argue for a second time in one episode (thought their fight at Slater's apartment was pretty hot).  I think Damon is sincere when he says that he is going to find a way to release Stefan, but it's obvious that Stefan knows that doesn't mean Damon won't flirt with Elena while Stefan is stuck (but by the looks of that preview fidelity isn't on anyone's mind), making this all a very entertaining turn of events.  So, thanks Elena, for being so silly this episode.

I hope Rose isn't gone forever, I like having a character around who isn't particularly involved in all things Elena, but isn't as obnoxiously boring and infuriating as Bonnie.

Speaking of Bonnie, that way to make an insufferable character less so is not to add another equally insufferable character for the first to interact with.  Was I supposed to care that Bonnie accidental/intentionally sucked the life out of witchboy trying to be competent-witch (instead of just regular Bonnie witch-lite)?  Wait, now I don't remember, did Luca live?  Bah, not important either way.  And while Jeremy's attempt to get the moonstone from Katherine without Bonnie straining her feeble witchy power was noble (I guess), I wonder what Jeremy sees that I missed.  She is pretty, but is he into her lively personality, her sense of humor, her unique perspective on world geo-politics, her ability to make more than one facial expression?  What?  It isn't even like she is damaged enough to be all tragic-and-in-need-of-comfort/protection which would make so much more sense for Jeremy since he has a teeny white-knight complex.

Um Tyler, Caroline might be helping you through your werewolf transformation and all, but that doesn't mean she wants to do you.  And Matt is your best friend, so interrupting their "I miss you" conversation (which was so adorable!) was mean on two levels!  I'm trying not to get too annoyed, because life just kind of sucks for Tyler.  He's kind of a dick anyway, and now he's a werewolf, and according to Mason's journal and video being a werewolf is endlessly painful, so he needs all the help he can get, but I would just appreciate it if he doesn't mess with Matt and Caroline, who need to get back together now.

I'm mildly intrigued by what Elijah is up to.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Weekend Fling: Parks and Recreation, Seasons 1 and 2

I watched the pilot of Parks and Recreation when it aired; I wasn't impressed.  Jennie advised me to give it another shot, and reviews I read said it had improved immensely, so I gathered up all my love for Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones (I still maintain that Karen was awesome!) and queued up my Watch Instantly.

So glad I did, because this shite is funny.  The racist Town Hall murals sight gags are completely worth watching the show for.

Those, and the rest of the writing.  Like when Leslie marries the two male penguins.  Or when the whole office goes on a hunting trip.  Or Jerry's mugging.  Or my personal favorite Duke Silver.  I could go on.

From what I can tell, the conceit of this show is "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," because no one's intentions are as good as Leslie Knope's and no one ends up in as many hell-ish situations.  I mean come on, the premise of the show is turning an actual pit into a park, Dante would be all over this.  Or maybe he wouldn't be interested in the bumblings of a small-town's bureaucracy ridden government through the perspective of their Park's Department.  Leslie is unfailingly optimistic in the face of tax-payer antagonism, co-worker apathy, and continual personal embarrassment, but her determination, hard-work, and occasional bouts of drunken-ness prevent her from coming across as either cloying or sanctimonious.

The gem of Parks and Recreation is Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).  Ron is the head of the P&R department, a breakfast-obsessed loud and proud Libertarian who wants nothing more than to do as little as possible.  He's not just lazy, he is lazy out of principle.  And that is the element that separates Parks and Recreation from The Office: self-awareness.  The characters have their flaws, they make mistakes, and often end up with a mess on their hands, but for the most part, they know their flaws are flaws, that their mistakes are their responsibility, and that they have to clean up their messes.  At this point, particular personality aspects have not devolved into caricature; for example, Tom Haverford's (Aziz Ansari) attempts to pick up women are still viewed and commented upon as creepy and desperate, not jovially dismissed as a fixed and worn affectation.

The only character who is really clueless is Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt, in yet another wonderful dumb-but-lovable-guy role that he does so very very well).  Andy is essentially a kind person, just a little dim. The slow evolution of his relationship with surly and disconnected April (Aubrey Plaza) demonstrates a possibility for development, giving me hope that Andy won't degenerate into a one tick pony whose buffoonish behavior pushes the line of cruelty.

The weak link in this show is Mark Brandnawitz (Paul Schneider), but since he won't be a regular in S3, I don't really feel a great need to spend much time here talking about how Mark was boring.  Boring, boring, boring. Okay, I'm done.

But can I get an amen for Adam Scott's recurring role as Ben Wyatt?  I am in love with this guy, am terribly disappointed that Party Down got cancel, and his character is perfect for Leslie!

So really, is it January yet?

The TV Girl

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Walking Dead: A Show With Bite

Haha, I feel so punny this afternoon.

Okay, I'll stop.  Sorry, I'm sick and I think all my over the counter meds are making me loopy.  If this ends up making no sense, then I'll amend it when I'm not, ya know, on the verge of zombie-ism.

I had a professor who told my American Lit. class that he could write an entire book of analysis on the first sentence of Moby Dick.  This professor has since passed away, so out of respect for the dead, I won't repeat what I actually said about his claim, but I was rather dismissive.  Watching AMC's The Walking Dead last night, I realized that he might have been onto something, because the opening scene of the pilot seemed to be the whole show. (BSG was kind of like this too.)  In near silence, we watch a sheriff make his way through a fly-filled shanty town in search of gasoline, and coming upon a small girl zombie, he shoots her in the head.  In the most unimaginably changed circumstances we will adapt due to the innate human desire to survive, but how well we adapt, who we become in those circumstances, will depend on what core values we retain for the time we considered normal.

But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

The general details of the first three episodes are: the sheriff is Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who awakens after a shooting to find out that a virus has ravaged the population and created a race of zombies ("walkers").  A nice man and son give him a run down of the situation, point him towards Atlanta, where survivors are gathering in safety and numbers under the benevolent care of the CDC.  Rick makes his way south, radio-ing out to anyone who can hear, which happens to be a camp that tries to warn him not to go to Atlanta, but they get cut off.  The camp is where his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), son Carl, and his partner Shane (Jon Bernthal) are, playing family, because Shane has stepped into Rick's role as husband and father.  Trapped in the zombie over-run Atlanta, Rick is rescued by a group of survivors in the city for supplies (on a mission from the camp) and when they all get trapped, he organizes an escape.  Too bad they leave a truly horrible redneck handcuffed to a pipe on the roof of the building, because no sooner is Rick reunited with his family at the happy camp in the woods, he decides to go back to the city to retrieve roof dude, who it tuns out has cut off his own hand to escape being eaten by zombies.  Lori puts an end to her fling with Shane, who, um, doesn't take it well, much to the detriment of asshole-Ed's face.

So far, this show is just plain cool.  As atmospheric as all AMC shows, but there isn't an imbalance of substance and style.  The zombies are gross, creepy, and perfectly nightmare-ish: the upper-half zombie crawling across the grass that Rick eventually shoots was super nasty.   The dialog is spare, precise, and purposeful: the fear of making too much noise and attracting the walkers puts a special emphasis on what is said and not.  The characters are determined to carry on but aware of the desperation of their situation; the discussion about the missing tools highlighted that while most recognize the necessity of co-operation to survive it doesn't make everyone into happy share-y people.  The whole thing comes together kind of like an excellent monster movie from times gone by: enough gore to make it exciting, enough intellect to make it interesting.  

While it kind of hurts to see her as a (unknowingly) cheating wife, I'm thrilled to see Sarah Wayne Callies again.  I missed her.

I have to say this though, I HATE SHANE.  I might get over this, I might be having an extreme reaction, he may turn into a great character, who knows.  Right now, I am in hate.  He obviously had feelings for Lori beforehand, and he used the aftermath of a plague to act upon them, which is so cowardly.  He told Lori Rick was dead for pete's sake, that is like premeditated creep.  (My conception of Shane's thought process: "The world is coming to an end and surviving would be a total win, but I think my number one priority should be nailing my best friend's wife.")  Now, I'm not saying that Ed didn't need to be dissuaded from abusing his wife and daughter, and that on that level there wouldn't have been a bit of vindictive joy in Shane kicking his ass, that is if Shane's actions had had anything to do with protecting Carol or the other members of the merry-band-in-the-woods!  But it didn't.  Angry at Lori's rejection Shane behaves just like Ed: physically dominating a party not responsible for his disappointment.  In fact, Shane might be worse than Ed, because Shane pretended that what he did was for the greater good, not the selfish brutality of a weak man that it was.  At least Ed is upfront that he is a piece of shit.

But doesn't every show need a character for me to hate?

The TV Girl

Monday, November 8, 2010

Supernatural: One Step Forward, A Step and Half Back

(6.06 "You Can't Handle the Truth" and 6.07 "Family Matters")

The last two episodes of Supernatural have had some good moments, some not so good moments, some pluses, some minuses.  First, the pluses.

I'll admit it, I kinda dig Robo-Sam.  As we now know (though we may have guessed) Sam's body and mind may be here on earth, but his soul is still trapped in a cage in hell with Lucifer and Michael.  And if Sam and Dean work with Gramps Campbell to round up creatures for Crowley, then the new king of hell will make Sam all whole again.  Not only is Soul-less-Sam a little bit awesome, with the willingness to kill with only minor hesitation and all, this is a chance for the show to do something really interesting.  No-Soul-Sam is a separate being from dearly departed Sam Winchester, and that opens a new field of possibility for the show, and I for one hope the writers take advantage.

While I understand and agree that is was necessary for Dean to take his father down off the pedestal, I sort of got choked up when he finally said something good about John after so many seasons.  We've all read the Aeneid, we know heroes cannot carry their fathers on their backs forever, but his desire for his father's respect and affection was his defining motivation for so many years, it seems that without finding some empathetic understanding of his father's strengths and weaknesses, that Dean will always be adrift.  (And doesn't that seem to be the big problem, that while other people have been trying to force him into a role, Dean has been purposeless.)

And I though I have SERIOUS problems with the little old overarching storyline for this season (which I'll get to in a sec) I will not argue with more Mark Sheppard.  I get a little giddy every time he shows up on screen, so fine, let the boys be Crowley's bitches for now.

But make no mistake, I think that Purgatory-is-where-supernatural-creatures-go-when-they-die-and-Crowley-wants-to-find-it is hands down, without a doubt, barring none, THE STUPIDEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED ON THIS SHOW.  Not every episode is the best ("Bugs"), some plot  developments have crossed the campy-line into the shamefully preposterous (Anna's grace is in a tree), but I actually got up and left the room (to get another beer) when Alpha Vamp dropped his knowledge on wee little Sam and Dean.  Not only is it the lamest idea ever (days later I'm still dumbfounded by this choice of storyline), but they made it so frakking obvious how weak it is.  I say the following as a decently intelligent person, a scholar, a TV junkie, and a truly disappointed viewer:
  Some of us didn't go to cut-rate state schools, we actually read "Purgatorio" and if the show wants to make up it's own definition of Purgatory they are free to do so (as much of a mistake as it is) but leave Dante out of it.

I'm so angry I could spit, and I don't think I realized it until I wrote this.

Yet Little Women taught me that I should not let the sun go down on my anger, so, I will end on a positive note.  How cool was it when that dentist murdered his pervy patient with the drill?

The TV Girl

Friday, October 29, 2010

Supernatural: Season 6, You Need a Little Help from Your Friends.

And as anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows, I consider myself a dear and loving friend to Supernatural.

I fully support Sera Gamble taking over as show-runner.  I will forever love Eric Kripke for the 5 glorious seasons he gave me, but I think that we can all tell from the end of S5 that he was done, ready to say goodbye and move on.  (Despite it's over-the-top sappy-ness, I really liked "Swan Song" and I accept that Chuck is God, even if I wouldn't have done that.)  But the truth right now is that the show is trying to find a new rhythm, and for those of us attached to the old rhythm, this is distressing.  Okay, I'll tone down the drama-queen.  Not "distressing," but rather, vexing.

We are 5 episodes in S6 and so far things have been incredibly uneven.  The plausibility to Sam returning from Hell got stretched a bit too far by the sheer randomness of Samuel Campbell (ya know, their grandfather) being "pulled down" from Heaven.  (WTF?)  The opening sequence in "Exile on Main Street" highlighting Dean's average (and as far as I'm concerned soul-crushing) life with Lisa was well done, but that indicated that they were developing a semi-functional life together, so how on earth are we supposed to remotely believe that Lisa would be cool with him hunting and just showing up when he can.  I mean, seriously?  (And we all saw how well that worked out last episode.)  The opening of "Live Free or Twihard" was probably the best Twilight parody ever, and if they had gone for the funny with the rest of the episode it wouldn't have been so terrible, but they didn't and we were subjected to one of the worst episodes of this show.  (The list now stands: 1)Racist killer truck, 2) Ghost ship, 3) Vampire Dean.)

The best episode so far has been "Weekend at Bobby's" and since Jensen directed it (good job btw dude) we basically got an entire episode devoted to an awesome, but secondary, character.  I'm not complaining, I adore Bobby.  I think it was great to get a picture of his life as every hunter's bitch, and I wanted to high-five him when he chewed out Sam and Dean for being all complain-y about each other, it was a good release of frustration for character, crew, and audience alike.  That episode is the kind of episode that made Supernatural a can't-miss show for me. Both funny and frightening, the emotional focus of the episode fit into the flow of the show, but the story focus was a specific problem that could be finished up by the end of the episode.  It didn't have anything to do with "Alpha" demons, Sam and Dean came through and saved the damsel in distress (aka Bobby), and we were invested in what happened.

Obviously I'm holding onto my hope that Supernatural can work out the kinks and make it through this transition.  Fingers crossed for tonight.

The TV Girl

Terriers: If This Show Gets Cancelled Because People Won't Watch, I Will Be Really Displeased.

I don't think I'm totally out on a limb to say Terriers is the best new show this season.  (Feel free to cast your vote in the comments, but I warn you, I'm pretty sure about this.)  Other people are all into that I-like-being-the-only-one-who-knows-about-cool-shows bullsh*t, I'm not so into that.  First of all, if you really think something is worthy you should want to share it.  Second, because shows with low ratings tend to get cancelled!

Terriers revolves around the messy cases and messier lives of Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-Jones), unlicensed private investigators who just don't know how to say "no" in their own self-interest.  Lest you get any idea about boring white-knights, that's not this show.  Hank is a recovering alcoholic who was fired from the police force, Britt is a (semi-) reformed burglar, and they always take the job for the money, at least initially.   Our heroes are trying to keep their personal affairs from becoming as murky and unpleasant as their professional prospects are quickly becoming, but without too much success.  Hank's ex-wife Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn) might be trying to move on, but Hank isn't exactly ready to let go and Britt's relationship with his vet student girlfriend Katie (Laura Allen) is less perfect than it looks.

I really really don't want this show to get cancelled, and I'll give you my Top 5 reasons why.

1) There just isn't enough noir on TV.
Since we lost Veronica Mars a few years ago (RIP), there really hasn't been a show with a good old-school Maltese Falcon vibe.  A crime-fighting show with an onion-like mystery and a maze of ever shifting alliances is a welcome antidote to the ripped-from-the-headlines earnestness of Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds, etc.

2) This shite is funny.
Murder, drug overdoses, poisoned land, none of this should be humorous, but  Terriers is proving that it can be.  Hank and Britt spend a great deal of time overtly mocking the bromance concept and they are damn good mockers. The episodic mysteries tend to be on the more silly side (That giant bail jumper? Hilarious!) but without being completely ridiculous (The bank vice president?  Not so hilarious.), so the viewer never feels bogged down by intractable disaster.  Plus, for the most part, the characters are intelligent people (which doesn't mean they always make good choices), so they can follow each other's trains of thought, they can spar, they can expose the irony their lives are mired in.

3) There is a shaddy dude in a tan suit.
Come on, you see a guy at a construction site wearing a tan suit, you have to know what he's up to.  At least I do.

4) The color palette.
Okay, this seems stupid as a recommendation for a show, but I love the look they've achieved: everything is so sun-drenched it's bleached out; Hank's little truck is the cutes p-o-s ever; and the costuming is minimal and genuine (it actually looks like these kinds of people would wear these kinds of clothes).  All of the production components come together to look neither too shinny for the genera nor too stylized for the themes.  As a viewer you can almost taste the salt and corruption in the air.

5) Steph.
The addition of Hank's mentally troubled sister (played by Donal Logue's real-life twin sister Karina Logue) is brilliant.  Steph is literal and forthright, providing wonderful contrast to the other characters' evasiveness and lies of omission.

There you have it, my pitch for Terriers.  If you've been looking for wit and intrigue, you've been given a gift, but I suggest you jump on board NOW before F/X gets chop-happy.

(On a side note, I only watched one episode of The Shield.  I couldn't do it.  But I really like the shows made by the people who made The Shield.)

The TV Girl


Reason to Watch Terriers 6) Now that he's not on SuckBlood, Michael Raymond-Jones is really hot.

Reason to Watch Terriers 7) The title song is terribly catchy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If Fat People Can't Kiss on TV, Then Skinny People Shouldn't Eat.

I don't watch the show Mike & Molly.  I don't have a great interest, and my queue is already overflowing with shows that I have fallen behind on, so a new sitcom isn't on the top of my list of things to watch.  But far be it from me to stay silent on a controversy!  And this article I found on Yahoo really really angered me:

You don't want to see fat people kissing, don't watch!  TV is free will; no one can force you to watch a show you don't want to.  I love that in this article Preachy McMeany-Pants encouraged fat people to walk more just paragraphs after she said she doesn't like seeing fat people walk across the room.  So, get more exercise, just make sure the skinnies don't see you?  

(Now granted, the above writer was responding to this article, which actually points out a trend in entertainment that is worth thinking about:  )

I'm okay with the fact that the majority of people on TV are more attractive than me, and in fact, I think that might be part of the escapism that most people are tuning in for.  I think that there are many interesting debates one could have about weight and entertainment, but "should fat people kiss on TV?" isn't one of them.

So let me bring up another side of the issue: how about shows that go out of their way to glorify slothful behavior without any consequences?

Gilmore Girls, 30 Rock, Cougar Town all present women and men who eat and drink extremely unhealthy foods and beverages without participating in any sort of regular exercise and are still somehow a Size 0.  Lorelei and Rory ate every single meal either out or had it delivered, were constantly chugging caffeine, occasionally made a huge production of getting a minimal amount of exercise and were both rail thin.  In every single episode, Liz Lemon mentions some gastronomic monstrosity that she consumes on a regular basis and it isn't until SEASON 4 that she even tries to go to the gym (which she never makes it to), yet she is trim and her hair has the body accomplished by a well balanced diet.  Except for Travis, every character on Cougar Town is booze-soaked, yet not a one of those calories seems to stick.  Don't get me wrong, I have at one point in the past or the present throughly enjoyed all of these shows, but when people are up in arms that there are fat characters on TV who are not stoned in the street for their morally reprehensible physical state, then it seems utterly dishonest to convey the idea that what you put in your mouth has no effect on body, that if you were just one of the blessed then you could behave however you choose and would perpetually be the precise example of socially dictated beauty.  If the mere presence of fat people on TV "glorifies obesity," what  message does it send to have skinny people who make all the behavioral choices that lead to obesity?

The TV Girl

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Weekend Fling: Caprica, Season 1.0

I admit it; I’m a total slacker.

Why do you think underachievers and misfits appeal to me so much?

But even when I’m slacking I’m still watching something.

Let me say this right off the bat: Caprica is not Battlestar Galactica.  For those of you, like me, who still feel the void of BSG these years later; don’t look to this show as a quick and easy replacement.  Honestly, that’s why I didn’t watch it at first; I didn’t want to be overly disappointed in this show by comparing it to another show so loved.  Since Caprica is a prequel to BSG, with a common character, there is no way to divorce the two shows, and one shouldn’t.  Luckily for the audience (that luck based on hard work by those who make this show) Caprica can hold its own.

I would say that the number one reason Caprica stands on it’s own two feet is the eclectic but amazing cast.  Can someone explain to me why Polly Walker (Rome, State of Play) and Paula Malcomson (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) haven’t been together on a show before?  I ask because once you see it, it is the most logical thing in the world.  Two of the most engaging, thoughtful and precise actresses on TV, in one place, now that is a bargain people!  (If Polly Walker were to be on SoA I would probably have a heart attack of joy.)  In other hands, these roles could devolve into shrill caricature, but the textured and interesting characters that we are meant to have are presented to us naturally and fully-formed, even if we are just getting to know them.  Polly Walker’s Sister Clarice Willow, the schoolteacher with a subversive agenda, is dark and ruthless but not a hollow menace.  Paula Malcomson’s Dr. Amanda Greystone may be spiraling into insanity because of her grief for her dead daughter Zoe and our feeling of that insanity is so real because it is the quiet erosion of a soul, not hysterical gestures from a Dr. Seuss book.  Then there’s Zoe Greystone, played by Alessandra Torresani, who was Anne Veal for one episode of Arrested Development before the character was recast.  The Zoe we see is actually a digital Zoe, a copy of that the real Zoe made of herself for some sort of religious purpose before being blown up by her boyfriend on a commuter train in the pilot episode, and digital Zoe is put in the body of the first Cylon, that her father Daniel is developing for the military.  You with me?  Zoe, as we know her, is a total brat, but not because she is portrayed in a bratty or whiny way.  She is the bratty of an arrogant self-righteous 15-year-old, therefore a fairly typical teenager, but now that she is stuck in a killing suit, we follow the metaphor of growing up and accepting our responsibility in the world without the typical show’s belabored melodrama.

The male side of the cast isn’t half bad either.  Eric Stoltz as Daniel Greystone, the determined genius industrialist, and Esai Morales as Joseph Adama, the mob lawyer slipping into addiction and despair, are both simultaneously understated and raging; neither yell frequently but both radiated repressed fury and thwarted expectation.  For me, the standout is Sasha Roiz as Joseph’s brother Sam.  Sam Adama is so riddled with contradictions that the character shouldn’t ring true, but somehow, and I think it’s because of Roiz, he does.  Sam is a mob enforcer but his perfect honest with his partner Larry about what he does removes much of the sleaziness one normal associates with such a profession; as a surrogate father to his nephew Willie (That’s right, before Admiral Bill Adama protected the human race, he was called Willie.  Frakking awesome.) his approach of ethics-based circumvention of the law is fairly admirable; and his participation in his Tauron culture and religious tradition does not strike the viewer as cheep or false in anyway.  Sam is interesting, and I like interesting.

The large thematic concerns of the show are still developing.  While the overarching questions are present (what is reality? how is one to have faith in the face of competing religious claims?  if family is our primary love do the living or the dead demand more of us?  what is our ethical responsibility to society?), they and all others are in a gestational stage, but so far Caprica has established rich ground for these discussions to unfold.  The march towards the Cylon War promises to be a thought-provoking one.

Oh, and James Marsters is terrorist, so if that isn’t enough to get you to watch, you might be a lost cause.

The TV Girl

Monday, September 27, 2010

Top 5: Cops I Would Want to Save Me

Like always, Jennie and I were talking (we are always talking, just ask her poor husband), and yesterday's topic was FBI agents on TV you would want to hook-up with.  So this got me thinking about how there are a plethora of cop (in the broadest sense of the term) shows, but if (a fictional) I were in (fictional) danger, who would I want to (fictionally) investigate my case and eventually save me?  (Obviously, fictional me has been either wrongly accused of some dastardly deed because of a vast and nefarious conspiracy, or has been  unwittingly targeted by a madman.)  This is of course a list based on (fictional) me being involved in a (fictional) local incident, not international (that would require spies), and (fictional) me wanting my (fictional) situation resolved within the bounds of the law, and therefore badges required.

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, The X-Files
With these two I feel that no matter the circumstances I could be returned to my family and friends intact:  Mulder has the openness to follow the case no matter how strange it may become, while Dr. Scully could treat any injuries I might sustain, so I wouldn't bleed out on the way to the hospital.

Kate Beckett, Castle
Not only do I trust that Beckett would get the job done, since she is one smart chic and does not accept failure, but also, after she saves me we could go shopping and she could show me where she buys those super-comfy sky-high heels that she manages to run in while after bad guys.

Seeley Booth, Bones
Should necessity arise, I will gladly accept the assistance of a former Army snipper with an excellent ability to read people and the unending patience to put up with all the crazy around him in order to get to the truth.  In fact, I would be quite grateful for that assistance.

Keith Mars, Veronica Mars
Ethical, determined, awesome sense of humor: Keith Mars has the knowledge of the underworld (from his PI days between stints as the sheriff of crime-ridden Neptune CA.) to navigate avenues beyond traditional police work, but the upstanding nature to see that justice would be done, for (fictional) me.

Olivia Dunham, Fringe
With her combination of tenacity, cool discernment, receptivity to the impossible, and psychic ability, Olivia is practically a superhero, and would be my best chance of getting home alive in the event that something truly bizarre happens to me, but I demand that it be this-universe-Olivia assigned my case, because I don't trust alternate-universe-Olivia one bit.

And just for good measure:
Gibbs, NCIS
He's the most alert cop around, and no pesky thing like sleep would be distracting him from assuring my safety.  Who doesn't want that?

The TV Girl

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top 5: Phrases/Words That Eventually Drive Me Nuts

I think I'm in kind of a combative mood.  You know that if you watch a show for a long period of time you get accustomed to the patterns, especially the language patterns.  Well, I pay a lot of attention to words (even though not always the attention I should to my own), and sometimes, when I hear the same word/phrase over and over it crosses the line from familiarity to frustration.

Supernatural: "The Pit"
I get that they didn't want to be saying "hell, hell, hell" all the time, but somewhere in S3 I developed a tick everyt time Sam, Dean, anyone said "the Pit."  It just makes me think of BBQ, at the same time making me think everyone on the show is a hillbilly.

Undercovers: "Sexspionage"
This show hasn't even started yet, but the advertising alone (I work in an office and listen to the radio ALL DAY LONG) is making me want to smack whomever is responsible for this one.  How did the actors possibly get a usable take saying this stupid quasi-word?  I feel genuine sympathy for the cast, I find this word so repugnant.

Dexter: "My Dark Passenger"
This is just me being cranky, because in describing Dexter's need to kill there isn't really a vocabulary to draw from, and since it is kind of the premise of the show, this indescribable phenomena is going to get talked about a lot.  But somewhere around mid-S4 I thought I would develop a dark passenger of my own if I heard that phrase one more time.  I could save myself the crazy by not watching 7 episodes in a row, but why should I have to change?

30 Rock: "Blerg"
Jennie convinced me that this should be on this list, and while it is not the most overused word/phrase on 30 Rock, Jennie contends, and I agree, that is the most offensive because it's obvious that the writers hoped that it would make it's way in common diction, which very sadly, it has.  This meaningless and deadening string of letters might be one of the reasons I've pretty much abandoned this show.

Lost: "Dad"
I really am a cranky-pants today.  I have one more season of this show to get through, and it pains me to think of how many times I'm going to have to hear "Dad," "Father," or "Pops" through this last push to the finish line.  I will try and be generous and say that this is a situation where one of the central themes of the show can overwhelm the viewer (and in my case make said viewer somewhat homicidal) , and it isn't that there is anything wrong with the words derived from pater.

That is my rant for the day.

The TV Girl

How I Met Your Mother: Why Hello Old Friend, How Have You Been?

( Season 6, Episode 1, "Big Days")

I try to be an honest person, so in that spirit, HIMYM and I parted ways last season.  The last episode I watched was "Girls Vs Suits" and I loved it.  From all I've read and heard, S5 wasn't the best, but I didn't break-up with this show out of disappointment or boredom.  It's more like HIMYM and I took separate vacations; some time apart to remember the love.

This is a long way of explaining that I have no idea who Don was and why Robin could possibly be so upset that they broke-up, and no idea that Marshall and Lily had decided to try and have a baby.  But isn't that the joy of love, that despite some distance you can always go back?

Okay, I will stop doing my Ted impression.

I did enjoy the S5 premier, and am glad to re-enter HIMYM to my weekly rotation.  I'm happy to know that even if we don't know who The Mother is, we at least are getting a clearer picture of when and where we are going to meet her.  I adore that Cindy was redeemed by finding the person she is happy with, and (as a character) was not left in the heap of Ted's-exes-that-are-bitter-and-crazy.  I applaud Barney for giving Robin the insensitive criticism she needed to at least wash the hair she insisted on eating food from.

And if anyone could ever for a second debate that Marshall and Lily are an amazing couple, please re-watch their conversation at the end of the episode.  People who should have babies are the people who would be happy with each other even if they couldn't be (natural) parents.  Again, amazing.

HIMYM, thanks for taking me back.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Seriously, Bonnie, Shut Up!

(Season 2, Episode 2, “Brave New World”)

In short, Damon knows something is up with the Lockwood men and he wants Stefan’s help to figure it out.  Caroline is a vampire, and Matt loves her, so she is going to try and control it.  Elena and Jeremy aren’t terribly committed to their anti-Damon plan, since both cave and have conversations with him about the future.  Stefan and Elena enjoy a sweet kiss on a Ferris wheel, living their lives in preparation of the trouble headed their way courtesy of the currently MIA Katherine.  Oh, and Bonnie is a bitch.

I can’t stand Bonnie.  While it is cool that she can set people/vampires on fire with the power of her mind, she is such a preachy brat.  SHE IS THE REASON CAROLINE IS A VAMPIRE!  It was her idea, her insistence to give Caroline Damon’s blood, so, by the chain of causality, it is her fault that the carnival worker that she shared two words with (and seemed extremely upset over his demise) got all drained and un-alive.  Maybe Bonnie can go on another vacation, go bore someone else with her self-righteous prattle.

Caroline on the hand, is pretty sweet as a vampire.  She took on Damon without insecurity or self-pity, a great display of a former victim asserting her power to her former victimizer.  Plus, if anyone is anal retentive enough to control blood lust, I think it’s Caroline, and now she knows that Matt is in love with her, so she has a good reason to not be all murder-y and therefore she may live a bit longer than supposed.  Do I detect a hint of future kissing between faithful Stefan and remade Caroline?

I mean, if TV has taught me anything, nothing spells doom for a couple like a Ferris wheel. 

The TV Girl 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sons of Anarchy: I Don't Know What to Say

(Season 3, Episode 1, "SO")

I'm not joking.  I really have no idea what to say.

I have been thinking all weekend about last week’s premier, about what happened, what didn't happen, and what this season will be like, and I have no more of an idea than I did days ago.  But let me give it a try.

In short, Gemma is stuck in a motel in Oregon until her legal situation clears up, and in trying to get away she stabs a guy in the crotch, so to avoid her doing any more damage Tig takes her where she wants to go: to her senile father for a visit.  Drunk and grieving Jax is pretty much in a waking coma, tries to break-up with Tara, but she convinces him that is a mistake, and then after a wake-up conversation with first Piney and then Clay, he pretty much beats to death a guy who fell out of the van of shooters that drove up to Half-Sac's wake and opened fire, hitting some bystanders and then running over Hale.  Able is in Ireland.

That might be the worst plot summary ever, and part of the reason is that this episode wasn't really so much about individual events, (up until the end) and much more about the untenable silence that follows great tragedy and the seething asphyxiation when we are trapped by our own choices.  I felt lightheaded by the end of this episode, because I was holding my breath along with all the characters.

One thing that made the overwhelming tension easier to endure before it exploded in a tidal wave of bullets is the reunion of Opie and Jax!  I know they worked their shit out last season, but the small ways that they care for each other are really amazing moments.  Opie literally picked Jax up when he couldn’t walk on his own power, and Jax untangled Opie from the barbed wire that would damage him and that separated him from his brothers.  These two actions were so flawlessly executed (the former in the background of the scene when it takes place) as natural expressions, not obnoxious metaphor, making the loyalty that they represent much more vivid.  

On a less depressing note, Kurt Sutter promised on Twitter that since female viewership increased with this season’s premier that we will get more naked Charlie Hunnam, so that is a win!

I’m trying to look on the bright side, because this is going to get dark. er.

The TV Girl

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: That Shite Was Out of Control!

Where do I begin? 

Maybe I should begin with explaining that yes, I watch this show, and yes, I love it.  A couple of months ago, when my friend Becca found out that I watch it she replied, “well, you were unemployed and sick last year, so I guess things can happen that you wouldn’t expect.”  I suppose that is the most logical explanation to someone who has never seen this show, and I think most people I know will be perfectly willing to leave it there, pity me behind my back, and just ignore this post entirely.

Their.  Loss.

This show is awesome.  But, if you have read this far, you already know that. 

In short, uncle/daddy John Gilbert survived being stabbed, but Stefan threatened to turn him into a vampire if he didn’t leave town.  Jeremy survived his suicide attempt, because he didn’t take enough pills to kill himself and Anna’s blood actually healed him, but now Elena decides he needs babysitters to keep him from trying to off himself again.  Tyler’s uncle shows up for mean-Mr.-Mayor’s funeral and to help Tyler understand the family “curse.”  Caroline isn’t recovering from her massive car accident fast enough, so hypocritical Bonnie has Damon give Caroline his blood and it’s really cute how happy Caroline and Matt are when she is all awake and alive.  Stefan figures out that Katherine is impersonating Elena, they fight, they flirt, they talk, and she reveals that she is back for him.  Damon and Katherine hook-up but he stops it to ask her a question and before he asks it, she tells him that she never loved him and she always loved Stefan.  Damon drunkenly confronts Elena about “their thing between them” and she rejects him too, so he breaks Jeremy’s neck, but luckily Jeremy was wearing the super-special Gilbert anti-mystical-death ring, so he isn’t all dead.  Poor Caroline though, is going to be a vampire, since Katherine smothered her to death with a pillow while she was still full of Damon blood.

Since way-to-good-for-him vampire Anna is no longer with us, Jeremy is better off to still be human, but now he needs a new storyline.  Revenge upon Damon for killing him?  Hunting down his uncle for murdering his girlfriend?  Whatever Jeremy does, I hope he gets to hit/stab/kill something, just like the rest of the male cast.

Bonnie needs to get on down from her high horse.  Sorry that her Grandmother died, it was very sad, but you cannot decide one minute that you need Damon to save someone’s life and then give him a magic migraine because you know just how evil he is.  As far as a moral compass, Bonnie kind of sucks: she is just too wishy-washy.  Now she has no credibility whatsoever, because it is her fault that the only of the two semi-normal characters is now way not normal!  Poor Caroline, and poor Matt, everything just goes wrong for them, and their darling relationship is the only thing that isn’t depressing for them, and now she can’t go out in the sun.  Low blow show, low blow.

Can Caroline join the “Let’s Stop Katherine” group?  Damon will need some help whenever his drunken despondence after having his heart ripped out by Katherine and then stomped on by Elena turns into hell-bent revenge.   Seriously, boy took quite a beating this episode, it was brutal.  My question is, ultimately whom is he going to blame, Katherine or Stefan?  I hope both!  Wait, that makes it sounds like I don’t like Stefan, and I do.  I just like Stefan and Damon’s combative/competitive relationship, so Stefan’s need to be untied with his brother in the face of danger to Elena is noble but not totally to my taste.  But Elena hates Damon now, so that sets us up for lots of tangled loyalties and shifting alliances.


The TV Girl

Monday, September 6, 2010

Top 5: Movie Mistakes I’ve Made for Men (of TV)

Okay friends, time to air some dirty laundry.

I promise, the only name I’m naming is my own, but I doubt I’m the only one who has done this.  In fact I would bet that everyone has done this at one time or another.  Is there anyone out there who has not watched a terrible movie because of a TV crush?  If you saw Made of Honor (which I DID NOT) you have no room to judge me.  I fully admit that for the love of a TV boyfriend I have willingly endured hours of insults to cinema.  And the winners are:

For Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights I’ve watched The Covenant and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  The Covenant was terrible, but I didn’t expect much, so whatever, I wasted part of my afternoon.  For me, the real offense here is that Wolverine didn’t have to be bad, but man was it ever.  Kitsch as Gambit was brilliant casting and then he is barely in the movie, so there I am, sitting through some boring fight scenes and totally unbearable “story.”  And while I probably would have seen this movie anyway, my expectations would have stayed in check if he hadn’t been in it, hence why the disappointment stings so much more.

For Jensen Ackles of Supernatural I’ve watched Devour, My Bloody Valentine, and 10 Inch Hero.  I liked My Bloody Valentine; I thought it was an entertaining horror movie that actually gave me the creeps.  Other than that, Jensen has made some poor poor life choices, and I have been right there along with him supporting them, so obviously I’m an enabler.  It has kind of turned into a game, watching movies he’s in just to see how bad they are.  Devour is incomprehensible: somehow it involves some incest, a mind-control video game that causes kids to kill, and the devil.  I’m fairly sure I was sober when I watched this, but trying now to remember how all these pieces fit together, maybe I wasn’t.  I think we are all better off it I don’t try to explain 10 Inch Hero, but I assure you, it isn’t porn.  It might be less embarrassing for all involved if it were porn.  Oh well, I think that movie is where he met his wife, so at least that is a win for someone.  For me, I have some memories to repress.

For Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek and Fringe I’ve watched Urban Legend, Cruel Intentions, The Skulls, and Gossip.  I think this list kind of dates me a bit, but age isn’t my problem when I look at this list.  What I realize is that other than Gossip, I don’t regret my choice to watch these movies.  I don’t even regret that I watched Urban Legend last Halloween, or that I will most likely watch it this Halloween.  Seriously, it’s one of the most amazingly bad horror movies!  But as much as I enjoy Mr. Jackson’s body of work, I don’t think a one of these stands out as timeless art, and if my mother had any idea what I was doing with my time when I was supposed to be in high school, I think she would have a, well, problem.  In the what-else-could-I’ve-done-with-my-time ledger of life, I think my mom might have a point.

For Adam Brody of The O.C. I’ve watched In the Land of Women.  I put this on my list because this movie is so bad!  This cancer-ridden family-drama/running-shoe-ad quarterlife-crisis is a really wretched movie.  I shudder every time I see it on the shelf at Target, occasionally, when a crossword clue escapes me, I wonder if I actually lost brain cells in that hour and a half, and it makes it so I have to admit to one extra Kristen Stewart movie I’ve seen that could have been avoided.  Adam Brody, you owe me.

For Scott Speedman of Felicity I’ve watched Underworld, and Underworld Evolution.  I kind of enjoy Underworld more than any person should.  It is one of my top go-to rainy-day movies.  The whole thing is so over the top and ridiculous, even more so than I could have imagine when I rented it for the first time because I needed a Scott Speedman broody-face fix.  And the second movie is just as awesomely bad as the first.  But, because I watched the first two I felt compelled to finish the series, and Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans isn’t fun-bad: it’s just atrocious: horrible story, wretched pacing, lame fight scenes, all over just a turkey of a movie.  So, while I should thank Scotty-boy for being in two awful-but-amazing movies (especially because at the time I watched the first one, I had no idea I saw future TV boyfriend Wentworth Miller!), I have some discomfort with the chain of causality that led to Underworld 3: Lame of the Lamest.

Honorable Mentions: Movies I watched for a TV boyfriend that turned out to be good despite what I thought going into it.

For Bradley Cooper of Alias and Kitchen Confidential I watched The Hangover, and laughed until I couldn’t breath.
For Benjamin Mackenzie of The O.C. and Southland I watched Junebug, and experienced a well-made journey with a dysfunctional family, as well as my introduction to the brilliant Amy Adams.
For John Krazinski of The Office I watched Away We Go, and was pleasantly surprised by how sweet and entertaining this potential hipster-black-hole was.

I wish I could say that looking at this has made me learn my lesson, but I have to admit: I will probably always watch bad movies for my TV boyfriends.  Nathan Fillion's opus White Noise 2 is looking very tempting right about now.

The TV Girl

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stuff I'm Not Remotely Qualified to Talk About: Sandman Adaptation

I'm being totally honest and upfront: I've never read Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

It has been recommended to me by people I trust very much, and today I was thinking that I need a new reading project (you know, so my brain doesn't rot from watching too much TV), so maybe after work I'll metro down to the comicbook store in Union Station and pick up a copy.  People seem to love this thing, so I'm game.

Here is what I'm interested in/hesitant about at the moment.  A few sources are saying that Eric Kripke is the top choice as show runner, should these talks to develop a show from this source ever come to fruition, and it is here that  I'm torn.  Kripke gave me Supernatural, one of my favorite shows, but because of that, I know what Kripke is capable of, and I don't know if I'm prepared to sign up for a few more years of being dragged through the emotional wringer week after week.  Supernatural gives me more than enough faith in Kripke's ability to put together an amazing show, but the prospect of once again being sucked into a world that often feels like a desolate wasteland is a bit too daunting for me right now.

But, of course, once I actually read this thing and have any clue what I'm talking about aside from my own speculation and insecurity, then I may very well change my tune.

If you are interested in an actual informed opinion, I would suggest:

The TV Girl

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall Forward: What Will I Be Watching?

Maybe I'm stuck in the past, maybe I just feel so overwhelmed by all I missed last season, maybe I'm just super persnickety right now about what I want to watch, but for whatever reason, nothing starting this fall is really grabbing my attention as a must-watch.  I already have a semi-commitment to 10 hours of  new TV a week, which doesn't include Saturday DVD-fests or any old loves rekindled (hey it could happen), so while I know that I have juggled so many more shows in the past, as an older and wiser girl (right!) I shy away from overextending myself for anything that doesn't really call to me.  But, I will attempt (for at least as long as it takes me to write this) not to be an intensely skeptical lady.  Here are 4 shows that if I try a smattering of the new-fall-shows-buffet will be on my plate.

Terriers, F/X, September 8, 2010
Now I admit, the buddy-fake-cop premise is a bit overdone at the moment, and while I was funemployed for what felt like forever it never occurred to me to solve crimes in my spare time, but F/X has earned a lot of credibility with me, so if there is a chance that I could get another SoA-caliber show I have to at least take a look.  Plus TWoP compares it to Veronica Mars, so I have to evaluate the verity of that statement.

The Event, NBC, September 20, 2010
High-concept disparate-storyline conspiracy shows exhaust me (seriously if I don't finish Lost soon I will be found in some sort of very angry coma), and even the ones that I've loved eventually burn me out.  Jason Ritter tends to be a snooze, and Laura Innes has already had WAY too much of my time during the brief period when I watched ER (uuugggg, high school and trying to fit in), so why even try with a show where nothing about it really appeals to me?  Two words: ZELJKO IVANEK!!!  Seriously, this dude is walking awesome.  He is hands-down the best part of Damages S1, wields power with aplomb on True Blood, and was Juliet's bastard ex-husband on Lost for one episode until he got hit by a bus (a moment of that show I genuinely enjoyed!), so even if this show is a total train-wreck, he will be amazing.

Undercovers, NBC, September 22, 2010
Thanks to Fringe JJ Abrams has earned back much of the respect that I used to have for him, so I feel like I would just be being contrary if I don't at least see what the pilot of his new show is all about.  That he is back to the spy-genera doesn't fill me with a ton of hope, but when Alias was good, it was quite good, so history is kind of on his side.  Also, the lovely Gugu Mbatha-Raw (the female lead) was Tish Jones on Doctor Who S3.  You know, Martha's sister.  I feel like I should support her American endeavor.

No Ordinary Family, ABC, September 28, 2010
I admit it, I'm a sucker for super powers and Julie Benz.  Now, that doesn't mean I was willing to watch Desperate Housewives (man, some of my dearest loves have demeaned themselves on that rot), but when the world hands me the opportunity to see my dearly-dead-Darla/Rita, the Commish himself Michael Chiklis, the truly hilarious Romany Malco (Weeds hasn't been the same without you), and The O.C.'s Autumn Resser (Taylor!) all in one place, and with super-powers, it would just be rude to reject such a gift.  I don't believe cast is everything, but when it is a cast like this, it is a start.

Anything looking particularly intriguing to you in the coming season?

The TV Girl

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top 5: Worst Shows to Watch While Eating

"Experts" say that you should not eat and watch TV at the same time.  It seems like common sense to me that if you sit for 15 hours in front of your television and snack constantly that it is most likely that you become unhealthy and not last as long in this world as you could, but I quite enjoy to share my dinner with fictional characters (they do all the talking and I can focus on my food).  Sadly some shows, some of my favorites, don't lend themselves well to mastication, and of my current queue, the following are the shows that have a "Beverages Only" warning on them.

As I said semi-recently, I find Fringe just a bit too icky to watch while eating.  Most episodes start with the imaginative and gory death of someone, but that is usually the least of your worries.  You have about 20 mins before Walter starts dissecting that person and then running some super unpleasant experiments on that poor soul.  Don't start thinking you're in the clear for snack time, because I can 90% guarantee you that before the episode is over, something/someone is either going to ooze, melt, or explode.  Yes, it is as appetizing as it sounds.

Modern Family
As with many documentary style shows, some of the funniest moments of Modern Family are the facial expressions and the background action, so if you're distracted by something, like a piece of amazing veggie lasagna, then you can miss the priceless glimpses of Phil's "I'm so hip with the youth"-face or the split second when it looks like Mitch is actually going to voice his amazement over what goes on around him.  Would you be able to forgive yourself if you missed the domino-esque disaster of Luke's birthday because you didn't allot time earlier in the evening for your meal? (Thank the bestest ever higher power for TV on DVD for the endless re-watch!)

Sons of Anarchy
Between shootings, road accidents, beatings, rape, and mutilation I just don't think there is a human being out there with the guts of steel necessary to consume food for the 42 glorious minutes of an SoA episode.  Maybe I am just a weakling who is unable to enjoy my lo mein when a full back tattoo is removed with a blowtorch, but I treat this show like swimming; do not attempt until 30 minutes after a meal.

The Big Bang Theory
I learned my lesson with this show during "The Vengeance Formulation"(3.9) when Kripke sabotages Sheldon's radio interview and I choked on the green peas I was eating.  For a second I thought I was going to die, but considering how funny that scene is, I figured it was my time.  My mom was still laughing while she slapped my back.  TBBT is just too funny, it is a serious health risk.

I know what you think I'm going to say, "Dex slicing up faces and stuffing body parts in trash bags is revolting" but I can handle that.  No, what I find immensely stomach turning is the opening credits.  I don't like to watch people eating at all, so a super-up-close shot of  a egg and ham-steak breakfast makes me feel nauseated just writing the words.  I think the opening credits are wonderfully done; the intense scrutiny engendered by the sharp focus on the mundane morning ritual perfectly prepares the viewer for the tone and approach of the show, but for me, it is the ultimate appetite suppressant.

I'm realizing other people might not have this problem.  Oh well, good for you people out there who have much stronger constitutions than I.  God, I sound like a Victorian.

The TV Girl

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Weekend Fling: Doctor Who, Season 5

Early last week I tweeted:

In 48 hours I have seen two representations of memory and reality.  One was awesome, the other was Inception.

Now, I have no desire to get into my opinions on Inception (cinematography=amazing, story=lame) but the AWESOME was the day-long Doctor Who Season 5 marathon on BBC America two saturdays ago.  The network showed the entire season before premiering the season finale, and yes, I spent all day in my room watching glorious hour after glorious hour.

There could have been some awkwardness in the transition from David Tennant to Matt Smith as the Doctor, but I think that Matt Smith jumped in with enthusiasm, charm and determination.  More open than Christopher Eccleston, more reserved than David Tennant, Matt Smith portrayed his Doctor with sadness, but without self-indulgence (thank you very much post-season 4 “specials”) and with necessary severity, but without harshness.  Lucky for Matt Smith he has some good material.  More than the performance, I really like Doctor Eleven.  He is appropriately reticent with River Song (Alex Kingston) because he knows how she will die and isn’t comfortable at all with her familiarity, which I think was a wonderful avenue on which to take things; at the end of “Amy’s Choice” he tells Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) that he is “The Dream Lord” but he doesn’t wait around for their sympathetic looks and reassuring pats on the back; and his gentle comfort of Amy at the end of “Vincent and The Doctor” is a wonderfully sweet close to an episode that in and of itself is an amazing response to the gross negligence that was “The Waters of Mars.”

But what is a Doctor without his companion?  I am beyond in love with Amy Pond.  Amy is brave, funny, forthright, loving, and refreshingly un-needy.  She wants to travel with the Doctor because, well, that is what she wants to do, not because she blindly follows men about (Rose), she is being bombarded by responsibilities that are not her own (Martha) or that she hadn’t yet learned to embrace her own life (Donna).  Amy loves her fiancé Rory, isn’t ashamed that she makes money as a kiss-o-gram girl, is beyond not-insecure about River and the fact that she herself will be replaced, and she genuinely just wants to see what is out there.  I think all of the companions have fantastic qualities, but Amy has an infectious confidence that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

In contrast to previous season’s fixation on prophecy, inevitability and destruction, this season explored memory, choice and fortitude.  Not every episode was a winner: I wasn’t terribly impressed by “They Hungry Earth” or “The Cold Below” and because “Blink” is one of my favorite episodes (S3, you are so beautiful) and therefore I think the Weeping Angels should have been left to all their single episode magnificence, but overall the stories were campy, compelling, and hopeful.  “The Beast Below” was an absurd plot, but was an interesting statement about physicality and nationhood, Robot-Rory protecting the Pandorica for two thousand years (without going insane like The Doctor said he would) was a not terribly subtle but very show-appropriate way to drive home the point that our devotion to what we believe is what makes us human and what will determine our reward in the next life (and make no mistake about it, Rory being willed into re-existence in “The Big Bang” is a second life), and the whole amazing speech about how our greatest trials are our greatest achievement in “Vincent and The Doctor” brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. 

A lighter touch, a bit of genuine joy, and a bowtie: what a season.

The TV Girl

P.S. How can you not be obsessed with this girl?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Question: Bianca Lawson

How long can Bianca Lawson play a teenager?

Not that she doesn't look amazing, but really, she was a high schooler on Buffy and Dawson's Creek over ten years ago!  How is it possible she is on Pretty Little Liars?

Maybe my real question is: who is her dermatologist?

The TV Girl

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fringe: How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

Two friends asked me what I think of Fringe.  Here are a few, not nearly all, of my thoughts, assisted by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

(If you are not finished with Season 2, don’t read this!)

John Noble, I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. 

No, seriously, John Noble as Walter Bishop/Walternate is an amazing performance of an amazing character/s.  I wonder where John Noble's Emmy/Golden Globe/Peabody Award nominations and wins are, but then I remember that award-voting-bodies cannot find their asses with maps and miner’s hats.  At turns vitriolic, self-pitying, brilliant, and endearingly befuddled, Walter is one of the most challenging characters on TV.  Ask yourself if you would do anything differently if your child had died?  Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t go to an alternate version of your reality, take your dead son’s doppelganger back to your own reality, cure his fatal disease and then not fight back when your grief-stricken wife refuses to let you take him back to his real home?  And would you ever be whole again?   The answer that Fringe offers is, no.  As tragically human and complex as Walter is, he is not whole, literally and figuratively.  He kidnaps Peter out of love, but no matter the motivation, such a great violation tears his soul apart, and it is because of the man he sees himself becoming that he asks William Bell to cut out the parts of his brain that contain the knowledge of how to get to the alternate universe.  As a viewer, every time I want to throw my hands up in disgust that anyone could be so selfish the next scene makes me realize that no punishment could compare to that Walter inflicts on himself.  And then there is Walternate, the man Walter would be without Peter.  Mad with power, trying to kill the son he lost in order to punish an entire universe for the crime of one man, and now holding dearest Olivia captive in a dark cell, Walternate is a despot who has lied and bent a world to his revenge driven will.  It would be too easy for Walternate to be a caricature of an evildoer, but John Noble’s gravitas prevents parody.  Faced with our choices is it better to be permanently pshycologically fractured or utterly devoid of human compassion?

But when feeling out of sight from the ends of Being and ideal Grace, then there is Astrid.  And Agent Broyles.  And alternate-Charlie.

The beauty of Fringe is balance. One example of that is that the core-trio (Walter, Peter, Olivia) is balanced by the satellite trio: Astrid, Broyles, and Charlie.  Unfortunately, this balance was disturbed in S2.  I think that the Charlie storyline at the beginning of S2 was handled poorly.  I think it was a mistake to have Charlie killed and replaced by a shape-shifting agent from the other side, but having made that mistake, the show should have explored all the possibilities.  Instead, almost immediately shape-shifted-Charlie is killed off.  But I applaud his return via alternate-Charlie, because now there is a chance that the empathetic but grounded, supportive but tough, and serious but self-deprecating triumvirate of Astrid-Broyles-Charlie can guide where Walter wanders, act where Peter questions, pull where Olivia pushes.

And most of the episodes, I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet need.

As I just said, I don’t think every moment of Fringe is impeccable, but for 90 % of S2 I couldn’t rip myself away, like “Brown Betty.”   A drug addled Walter spins Ella a film-noir inspired yarn that he ends as a dower morality tale, but Ella counters with a redemptive fairytale.  Silly?  Yes.  Brilliant?  Yes.  More than meets the eye? Of course.  This whimsical, but poignant episode uses mystery-genera tropes to explore the impact of point-of-view upon narration, to compare the weight of emotion versus reason, and has singing!  By the end of the episode we see that the depth and truth of human failing is accessible to a child, but for the adult, who has lost the faith in mercy inherent in childhood, forgiveness is a continual journey rather than an isolated act.  And it is this blend of the esoteric and earthly that makes Fringe more than a sci-fi show, more than a family drama.

My one major complaint: Fringe is a bit too gross to watch on a full tummy.  But despite that, Fringe, I love thee with the breath, smile, tears.

The TV Girl

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Glee: What I Will NOT Be Watching This Fall

I have to admit a dirty little secret.

The afterglow of my Gleegasm has worn off.

Glee is not a total train wreck: without a doubt Jane Lynch is one of the most brilliant actors working today, (But didn't we all already know that? 40 Year Old Virgin, The L Word, Party Down anyone?); the Hummell family tugs on my heartstrings; and man those musical numbers are (for the most part) magical.  But the exceptional parts of this show do not add up to a cohesive whole.

While I was watching the finale I kept thinking "this doesn't make any sense."  If the penultimate episode was about how New Directions could beat Vocal Adrenaline with a funk number, then why on earth did every single group member (and the faculty advisor!) have a nervous breakdown and then not perform a funk song?  Why is New Directions the underdog when they can pull fully formed professional performances out of thin air with absolutely no rehearsal?  Why, why, oh why would you give a baby to a woman who lied and manipulated her way into the life of the teenage daughter she gave up at birth only to decide that she has no maternal feeling for said daughter?  I think Quinn and Puck might have committed an act of child abuse by handing over their child to such a horrible person.  Why couldn't someone have come up with a better send of for Jonathon Groff than a horribly boring set piece that reduced the "unstoppable competition" to a labored solo?  Why are we beating this dead-horse of Kurt-Finn-Rachel?  (Give Kurt something to do!)  Why is this show so freaking didactic?

I appreciate the over-the-top quality of Glee; there is nothing wrong with abruptly shifting from character to character, using songs instead of dialogue is a bit tiresome but usually executed well, and the intense sincerity of all the characters contrasts nicely with their complete lack of definable principles.  But there is no excuse for a show with continuous storylines where one episode has nothing to do with the one that came before and has no effect on the one that will come next.  I should not come to the end of a season and say "what was the point of that?"

If someone can tell me what the point is, please do.  I plan on hitting up You-Tube for the song performances next season, and skipping the irrelavent plot (or lack thereof) and "character development."

The TV Girl

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shameless Promotion of a New Show: Huge

Some of you out there may not be into ABC Family. Some of you might think that a show about fat kids at a summer camp cannot possibly be good. Some of you should be catching up on Supernatural or Chuck.

But, one of my dearest dearest dearest friends in the entire world who I have loved and loved for almost 10 years is in the pilot episode of this show. So for her I am going to watch.

Oh, and I like ABC Family shows.

Check out what it's about:

The TV Girl

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Made a Promise

The summer is here again, and a whole TV season has come and gone with very little commentary from me. Do I not care to write anymore? Have I suddenly developed interests that command more love than that I have for the idiot-box? Has every show sucked so badly that I have no intention of picking up my remote again?

The real question is: do you give a shite?

The answer is no, you don't, and you shouldn't. (The answer to the above questions is no, also, just in case you do care.) Why I have been the world's worst critic and blogger is of no concern. The past is the past, time to concentrate on the future.

So, as I catch up on this last season, I will write up my general thoughts and complaints. As dearly loved summer series air I will do my best to nit-pick and obsess over what could be or what should be. With god as my witness, I will never go silent again.

Oh, and that promise...yikes, I hate this. 4 years ago I made a promise to a friend that when Lost ended I would watch the whole thing. I was trying to be a good friend, give that person the benefit of the doubt, and I did this when Season 2 was getting trashed in reviews, so I thought it would be cancelled that year. Joke's on me. So my big project this summer is to make it through all 114 episodes. I might die. But if I do, my conscience will be clear that I have tried to stand by my commitments.

But I will need lots of breaks from this project with wonderful fluff like Drop Dead Diva.

The TV Girl

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Weekend Fling: Damages, Season 1

Some shows stay with you for years after you first see them, becoming a part of who you are, and informing the way you watch all subsequent TV, but some shows slip past you, making no impact on your memory and by the time the season is over you wonder if you actually watched the beginning.

Damages S1 is the second type of show. For 13 episodes Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) whined, Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) schemed, Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) grandstanded, and I tried to stay awake. In all honesty, at points I didn’t stay awake.

Patty Hewes is the sharpest, most-manipulating, hardest-ball playing, one-way train to crazy-town of a lawyer. She is hell-bent on destroying Frobisher, a billionaire who defrauded his employees by convincing them to reinvest their pensions right before he dumped his stock when he got a tip-off from an SEC inside man that his company would be charged with fraudulent accounting. Combating Patty is Frobisher’s lawyer, Ray Fiske, whose mild manner and Southern drawl intensifies his ruthless professional capabilities. Patty hires Ellen, not because she is a recent law graduate at the top of her class, but because her boyfriend David’s sister knows something (without knowing it) about the case. In the pilot, it is revealed that David has been/will be murdered, setting up the show’s structure of alternating the plot between present and past time, therefore attempting to convince us, the audience, that we think we know where the show is headed, in order to make the “shocking twists and turns” that much more so.

The problem is that even in an entirely straightforward linear narrative, we would always know exactly where this show is going. Well-worn elements plod along easily recognizable narrative tracks, neither asking the audience to give anything, nor offering anything in return. The conclusion of the “who killed David?” plotline is so obvious, and so clichéd, that I was almost embarrassed for whomever wrote it. In fairness, there is one genuine surprise, and two semi-surprises, over the course of the season, and I won’t spoil them, but I won’t pretend that they are good enough to make the show worth watching.

Essentially, Damages S1 is an exercise in hypocrisy: the morally outraged crusader-for-the-little-guy is a devious, deranged, puppy-killer; the devout Baptist is a deeply closeted homosexual; the family man is an aficionado of coke and hookers; the ingénue is a stone-cold bitch. But, again, the “true” personalities underneath the public façades are so predictable that they read like just another façade. There is a dead core to this show; there is nothing vital and real for the audience to invest in, or even be intrigued by. Even the opening credits seem designed to repel the audience, like Tephlon. Gray pictures of stone buildings flashing quickly by, accompanied by muted, unidentifiable music, presenting a false door without any enticement to walk through.

I will give this endorsement. For those of you out there who value performance and acting craft above other mimetic components, the cast of Damages is exemplary. From the strongest to the weakest (you know who you are) each and every actor brings their personal best to the role they inhabit. Given that, it really is a shame that the show is so cold and boring.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Please Tell Me You’re Watching: Life Unexpected

“Pilot” “Home Inspected” “Rent Uncollected” “Bong Intercepted” “Turtle Undefeated”

Because I am slowly but surely falling in love with this show.

First of all, do you see how pretty my city is? If I wasn’t actually living in Portland at the moment I would be so homesick seeing all the shots of the bridges and downtown and the tree-lined streets. How can you not be jealous?

Hometown pride bragging aside, Life Unexpected seems to be on its way towards becoming a delightful and heartwarming family-drama. 15-year-old Lux (Brittany Robertson) is placed in the custody of her birth parents Cate (Shiri Appleby), a radio personality, and Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), a bar owner, after the court rejects her petition to become an emancipated minor. In the first five episodes we have met the extended family: Lux’s boyfriend Bug and best friend Natasha; Cate’s radio co-host and secret/not-so-secret fiancé Ryan (Kerr Smith), her many-times married mother, and her ego-maniacal sister; Baze’s long-time friend Math, who teaches at Lux’s school, his employee/friend Jamie, and his affluent parents with whom he has a bit of a strained relationship.

One of the best aspects of this show is that all of the characters are flawed but not in the aren’t-we-so-quirky way. As much as Lux wants the parents she suddenly has in her life, she is understandably hesitant to trust the people who gave her up at birth, and she is only just becoming aware that the defense tactics she employed to keep herself safe and sane in the foster-care system have consequences when applied to people who care about her and are trying to do what is best for her. Cate often blunders into upsetting Lux, her insecurity and long-term habit of avoiding personal attachment spurring her into overcompensating behavior and artless choices. Baze is the maturity-deprived man-child that our society is breeding like rabbits, but the responsibility of sudden paternity has impressed upon him the need to grow up, which will probably be a long process. Lux is resourceful and independent, but she has as much growing to do as her parents, whom it would be easy to deride for their imperfection. On both sides of the familial equation is the most important attribute: effort. All of them want to be a family, so they try again after each setback. And effort is what real families need to survive.

Of course, Life Unexpected is young and new. There is always the possibility that these characters won’t grow, that repetitive storylines will sink the series into stagnation, and that everyone will be exposed as ultimately selfish and weak. But growing pains and fine-tuning notwithstanding, all indications are that this show can be enjoyable and interesting for the foreseeable future.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top 5 Favorite: TV Meta-Reality

The prevalence and relevance of pop-culture references is a badge of honor for many TV shows; both helping to confirm that the created-reality of fiction is approximate to the real-reality it mirrors, as well as distinguishing the characters who are aware of topics and trends from those who aren’t. I have a special place in my heart for the moments when TV characters talk about actual TV shows, because it can be such a wonderful moment of meta-reality, fiction that incorporates fiction that is really created in the real world.

Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

The geek-gods of TBBT talk about TV and movies quite a bit, but in last night’s episode (The Large Hadron Collision) Sheldon truly outdid himself. Angry with Leonard for planning to take Penny to Switzerland to see the world-famous super-collider, Sheldon responds to Leonard’s invitation to play a car game with the suggestion that Sheldon will name famous traitors throughout history and Leonard can rank them in order of the heinousness of their crimes. In the second round Sheldon offers Rupert Murdoch, Darth Vader, and Leonard. When Leonard asks Sheldon why Rupert Murdoch is on the list, Sheldon’s answer is simple: “He owns Fox and Fox cancelled Firefly.” In his unbelievably crazy way, Sheldon spoke up for all of us who are still holding a grudge (7 years later) against network buffoonery that deprived the world of more outlaws-in-space glory, and all it takes to make this case is a fictional character commenting on a real person’s treatment of fictional characters.

Dwight, The Office

Near the end of Season 3 Michael assumes that he will be getting a promotion to the corporate office in New York that he, and others, are interviewing for. Therefore, because he is the smartest man ever, he bids farewell to his Scranton-based employees and names Dwight as his successor. Dwight now has a problem, namely, who will be his number 2? But have you forgotten that Dwight is always prepared? He knows whom he wants to do for him what he did for Michael: “My ideal number 2? Jack Bauer. But he is overqualified, … and fictional, … and unavailable.” How brilliant is this? Not only do we find out that Dwight watches 24, but we as an audience get to imagine Kiefer Sutherland in a mustard-yellow short-sleeved button-up shirt, and because the small scene is so well written, with “fictional” as the middle disqualification, it takes us just the barest second to realize that a fictional character is recognizing the fictional nature of a character on another real TV show.

Giles, Buffy

Somewhere in Season 5 (I can’t remember where exactly, but now I will start re-watching from the beginning in order to figure it out), the Scooby-Gang poses a question to their fearless guider: “how bored were you last year?” Giles’ response has become one of the most memorable of Buffy lines: “I watched Passions with Spike.” This is the most un-Giles-like Giles-statement in the entire series, and is an amazing example of using fiction to illuminate other fiction: we know just how lost Giles was without a job (either as librarian or Watcher) because he spent his time watching the ridiculous dregs of daytime television. With one line, anyone who has seen even two seconds of Passions, THE WORST SOAP OPERA EVER, immediately recognizes that Giles was in the depths of one of the scariest existential crises in Buffy.

Lester, Chuck

As a show Chuck is riddled with sly in-jokes, allusion to TV and movies, and tributes to geek-dom. Personally, I love the scene in Season 1 where Morgan and Lester are playing the “name-that-show” game on the TVs at the Buy-More. During the battle-royal, both need only a brief glimpse to correctly identify their target. They name each show so quickly that I missed it the first time I saw the episode, but Lester takes a second to comment on one of his answers: “The O.C. Season 2, highly underrated.” More than a beautifully self-serving defense of another of Chuck producer Josh Shwartz’s shows, Lester’s fandom gives a funny little bit of dimension to the character that up to that point was just kind of creepy.

Abed, Community

Abed is obsessed with TV and movies, to the point where he recasts his friends in “roles” from whichever show/movie he is currently fixated on. At first I found the whole conceit a bit off-putting, it seemed like it could be a comedy-version of Dawson Leary’s immensely annoying movie addiction, but I was totally wrong. As a character Abed allows Community to both discuss objectively and participate subjectively in the nature of created reality. A fictional character is told by other fictional characters that he is confusing fiction with reality, but his awareness of the difference of between other-created-reality and his own real-created-reality forces the audience to ponder whether Abed is very confused, or much smarter than the rest of us. And them. See?

Honorable Mention:

Quinn, Daria
On a road trip with Daria to bail Jane, Trent, and the rest of Mystic Spiral out of a small-town jail, Quinn says one of those things that makes us realize that she isn’t all bad: “We can be home in time to watch Buffy.”

The TV Girl

Monday, February 8, 2010

Please Tell Me You're Watching: Castle

Sometimes someone else says (most) of what you want to say before you get around to saying it, therefore, I would like to direct your attention to TWoP's article on Castle, one of the most entertaining shows on TV currently.

(Click on the post title.)

The TV Girl

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chuck: God I Love This Season!

“Chuck vs the Pink Slip,” “Chuck vs the Three Words,” “Chuck vs the Angel de la Muerte,” “Chuck vs Operation Awesome,” Chuck vs First Class”

Just to get my piddley complaints out of the way, I must say that I miss Anna (Julia Ling) and I am sorry Emmett (Tony Hale) got shot in the face in the first episode (even though he was a total wanker). But I think that we can all live with these losses.

Okay, now to get my minor quibbles out of the way. I know that no true Chuck fan is supposed to say this, but I don’t like Sarah very much, and kind of hope that Chuck ends up with a much better girl, therefore, all of the state-of-our-relationship-talk/profession/rambling in the first two episodes was kind of boring to me (really, how many times can Chuck tell Sarah that he is in love with her!). I won’t harp on this too much, since I am know I am in a very small minority here of people who think Sarah is an emotional barnacle who messes up her job on far too many occasions. I enjoyed the 3rd, 4th, and 5th episodes where there were far fewer declarations of undying devotion and much more super badass spy-ness/retail misery.

Spy-ness/retail misery that involved Armand Assante as the funniest 3rd World dictator ever, a little more of Casey’s background, the most pathetic fight-club in history (started in the Buy More by Jeff and Lester, of course), and multiple in-flight battles where Chuck held his own.

Chuck being given a bit of independence is what is a huge part of what is making this season so good. Two seasons was about as far as they could keep up Chuck-as-idiot-savant-on-a-leash shtick, so it was about time the government trained him up and required him to live up to his potential (in all senses). The more-confident-and-capable-Chuck might give Casey and Sarah less to do as his handlers, but the possibility that Chuck will get to someday use his sweet nunchuck moves kind of makes up for that. I never thought I would say this about anyone who played Superman (my least favorite super-hero), but Brandon Routh’s Daniel Shaw might be just what this show needed: an outsider to set Team Bartowski in place for a future on more equal footing. But, Chuck will still barely hold a gun, so it isn’t like he has changed that much.

For me, the best thing about this season is that it has shown Awesome as more of a fallible person. Completely unable to lie and susceptible to fear in the face of danger, when kidnapped Awesome proves to be simply a decent guy who just wants to do his job, take care of his wife and take a ride on a stationary bike. It was nice to see the admiration grow between Awesome and Chuck as each recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of the other.

Keep it up Chuck!

The TV Girl