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

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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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How I Met Your Mother: 100 Never Looked So Good.

"Girls Vs Suits"

I cannot tell you how much I wanted Rachel Bilson to be The Mother. I adore her; she is funny, cute as a button, and she proved as Summer Roberts on The O.C. that she is fully capable of playing a loving foil to a guy who can get wrapped up in himself. HIMYM better have someone spectacular in store after giving me the possibility that The Mother could be Rachel Bilson and then ripping it away. Not cool HIMYM, not cool.

And just for the record, if I had a roommate who was so indie-quirky-cool, I would have a complex too.

You know what complex I am tired of? Robin's desperate need to be told that she is the hottest girl anywhere. Not saying that Robin isn't very pretty, but for the love of pete, every time this happens Robin seems shallower and shallower. Have a little dignity, like Lily.

But Barney's big musical ode to his suit complex was beyond cool, in the dorkiest of ways. Yay for showcasing NPH's many talents and for making something that can be so artificial (a big musical number in a sitcom) seem like such a natural thing. Of course Barney would proclaim his love for his traditional attire in a traditional rousing Broadway tribute. Barney does all things in style after all. I kind of want to high-five Barney for banging the bartender under false pretenses, because any woman dumb enough to think that problem with her former boyfriends was that they wore suits is just setting herself up to be lied to.

The TV Girl

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dollhouse: WTF!

"Getting Closer"

I am not going to write right here the ridiculously mind-blowing reveal from this episode. (Yet. Soon I will say all.) I am still a bit in shock. But I must say that I am very proud of Joss and Co for pulling out all the stops as this series comes to a close. The little show that almost is about to become the little show that isn't, but not before they throw some seriously curve-balls at us.

Wow. Really? But I mean...

The TV Girl

Friday, January 8, 2010

If I Ruled the World: The Golden Globe for Best Drama Would Go To…

Sons of Anarchy.

The critics can have Mad Men. They are welcome to drool over the perfectly coifed sexcapades of Don Draper and Co. Admittedly, Mad Men has quite a bit to recommend it, but I know the truth. I know that the best drama on TV currently is Sons of Anarchy.

It’s not Lost either. And it has never been Grey’s Anatomy. It was Battlestar Galactica, but sadly, that’s over with now. (And I am not entirely sure the time parameters for awards; so since the show ended in March would any of the last season be eligible for nomination?) I would be willing to make the argument for Friday Night Lights.

But really, there is nothing else like this gun-running Greek tragedy: action show about the give and take between outlaws, their rivals, and the law; family drama about the blessings and burdens of paternal inheritance; existential exploration of the consequences of violence and the fumbling for redemption; black comedy about the conflicts of normality and misanthropy; love poem to bygone ideas of autonomy. All of these elements, themes, and principles are circumscribed by one simple truth: choice is ALWAYS contingent on knowledge.

Expertly written and perfectly performed, the show moves with the inexorable pull of inevitable destruction, and yet each moment is startling and fresh; though you always feel deep in your gut that something bad is going to happen, you never know when or to whom. The smallest looks, comments, even interpretations of tone of voice, become the catalysts of sequences that tiptoe on the edge of doom, and sometimes, fall over that edge. There is no room in this created universe for a smug sense of triumph or obnoxious self-reference to one’s own cleverness. This is a stark light shown upon the human soul, exposing its unending intricacy. The self-satisfied need not apply.

The final moment of Season 2 is the most representative image of the show: Jax’s shattering scream of despair as he watches the boat containing his infant son flee out into the ocean, observed by the men who are at once both the cause and the solution to such ruin.

Right now Hulu is re-airing Season 2 in batches of episodes, and you can rent Season 1 on DVD. But if this all sounds like too much for you, stick with office politics and social-frustrated desire.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

V: This Show Needs Work.

“Pilot” “There Is No Normal Anymore” “A Bright New Day” “It’s Only The Beginning”

Before I say anything remotely rational about this show, I have to get something out:

I want to punch Tyler Evans/Logan Huffman in the face! I’m not sure who annoys me more, the character or the actor, but either way, 4 episodes in is not too late for a recast and maybe then I would despise the character slightly less. I wouldn’t say that any of the performances on this show so far have been stellar, but this kid is overdone, awkward and shrill. TSCC got canceled, so go get Thomas Dekker (who might not be the greatest thing out there, but at least would be a vast improvement) and after a week or so no one will even remember.

Okay, I feel better now.

V seems to be one of those shows that has a great deal of potential, and whether it will live up to it is kind of in question after the first 4 episodes. On the plus side: the female leads, Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin, are wonderful actresses; Morris Chestnut is rather attractive; the theme of national sovereignty vs. international cooperation is a rich field for investigation and discussion; the concept of “universal health care” is highly topical; and most importantly aliens are ridiculously cool. On the minus side: Alan Tudyk was too quickly revealed to be an alien and then too quickly killed; everyone seems to know too much and too little at the same time; any exploration of existential/spiritual complexities looks as if it will be quickly white-washed over into simplistic didactic preaching; and worst of all no one seems to be having any fun.

There are two things (aside from recasting) that I think V could do in order to become the awesome alien show it looks like it should be. The first is that there needs to be some sense of levity; self-deprecating banter, whimsical reaction to alien contact, I would even take a Star Trek reference, anything, just some sort of alternative to the “serious” tone. Without any balancing effects, serious becomes self-important, and sincere become self-righteous, all too quickly, which makes for an amazingly boring hour of TV. The lack of humor on this show is made even more apparent by journalist Chad Decker (the mystically un-aging Scott Wolf) commenting that the alien Visitors have an unexpected sense of humor. I don’t hold out much hope for this, but maybe I can hope that as the series continues that the actors will relax a bit. Everyone seems strained. The second improvement I would suggest would be to focus on the pace of the show. As I said above, everyone seems to know too much and too little. If one FBI agent and a priest can find out so much information about the Vs in one night, with the help of a defector V, then it makes it rather implausible that this “resistance” has been thwarted for so many years. Compressing the action of the episode into a single or a few days and then skipping weeks of time between episodes can jars the audience and make for uneven storytelling if not handled with care and attention, which this show is not at this point. Most importantly, we need to know something about the characters. Everyone is a bit flat, so a great deal of information has been thrown at the audience without any great incentive to care. Have the Vs kill Tyler and then Agent Evan will have the whole vendetta-of-a-mother motivation. Maybe not the most original, but it would be something.

There won’t be new episodes of V until the end of March, and I am willing to stick with it, give the show a chance to find its feet. Not every show has an ugly-duckling ending, but this one could.

The TV Girl

Monday, January 4, 2010

Life Unexpected: Why I Will At Least Watch The Pilot, And Probably Get Hooked.

Judge me if you will, but I am one of those people out there who really misses the good old days of The WB network: the combination of soppy earnestness (Dawson's Creek), indie-rock montages (Felicity), and paranormal ass-kicking (Buffy), with costuming all supplied by J Crew and writing that didn't suck. I'm not saying that there isn't merit in the sex-up, glamed-out shows of The CW (I kind of enjoy The Vampire Diaries), but there no longer seems to be any happy medium between the atrociousness of The Secret Life of the American Teenager (Worst. Acting. Ever.) and the STD-merry-go-round of 90210. The possible exception to this might be Greek. But even there, doesn't quite feel like the old days, and it is a totally different network. Sorry, tangent.

Does anyone else besides me remember when it mattered that people had sex?

So you tell me that there is going to be a show starring Shiri Appleby (most beloved Liz of Roswell) and Kerr Smith (darling darling Jack of Dawson's Creek) and it matters not how preposterous the premise looks or how high the "very-special-episode" probability is, there is no chance that I will miss it. This show might suck, and might die a quick death, but for at least an hour I am going to revel in a possible revival.

Plus, I think it is set in Portland OR, so woo-hoo to my hometown/current residence!

The TV Girl

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Top 5 Favorite: Old Dudes Whom Kick Ass

Let’s face it; we live in a youth-centric culture. I am only 26 and sometimes I feel like my life is over. So, I have decided to combat this ridiculousness by pointing out some of my favorite men of TV who make a strong argument that gray hair should be a prerequisite for badass status.

Bobby Singer, Supernatural
Bobby is now confined to a wheelchair, and you know why? Because he managed to overpower the demon who had possessed him and stabbed himself instead of Dean. Bobby is stronger than demons and willing to sacrifice himself for his might-as-well-be-son. This is just the latest example of his four seasons of being an awesome hunter; he approaches mystery with a cool head, never hesitates to make the tough call, and always comes through for his family of friends.

Jack Bristow, Alias
I haven’t watched Alias in years, but while spending weeks upon weeks sick in bed I decided to re-watch from the beginning, and I had totally forgotten that Jack is a stone-cold killer. Determined to protect his daughter, Jack unapologetically pummeled, tortured, and killed anyone who threatened her safety, and in the processes helped unravel conspiracy and catch bad guys. I wouldn’t want him for a father, but I would really want him for a bodyguard.

Bill Adama, Battlestar Galactica
Commander Bill Adama was on the eve of retirement when the Cylon’s struck the 12 colonies, leaving his small collection of ships the last vestiges of humanity. Instead of golf and fishing (or whatever retired people do) Adama led the crew of his ship, and thereby all the others, with both kind understanding and the expectation of excellence. He never hesitated to shot if required, he beat the living crap out of Tyrol to prove a point to the crew, and had the force of personality to turn the tide of a mutiny with his words.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS
Being a former sniper would probably qualify Gibbs for this list anyway, but the fact that when he isn’t cracking dirt-bags he builds full-size boats in his basement by hand which really makes him a super badass. Without wasting a word Gibbs relentlessly pursues the truth with the help of his unflinchingly loyal team, not only making the world a safer place, but also making the people around him better.

Rupert Giles, Buffy
For years Giles protected Buffy: guiding her as a slayer, loving her as a parent, eventually freeing her to be an adult. While not the winner of every fight, Giles always faced danger with bravery. For me, it is one single act that cements Giles as awesome: killing Ben at the end of Season 5. No one ever found out, but Giles did what had to be done, ending the life of Glory’s human vessel. Even if Buffy had been alive to do it, she never could have, and he never would have asked. Like a true hero, Giles took upon himself great responsibility without any recognition.

Honorable Mention: Clay Marrow, Sons of Anarchy
While I know that Clay is a multi-dimensional character, I cannot help but hate him for killing Donna, therefore I cannot call him a favorite of mine, but I do feel that I should mention that for being a senior citizen, Clay is one scary mo-fo.

The TV Girl

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best of My Life: Joss Whedon

As KP so rightly points out to me, the end of the year always brings a slew of “Best of the Year : …” lists, and while I am a huge fan of making lists, I think I will write something a bit different. Since people mistakenly believe that 2009 is the last year of the decade (it isn’t, sorry folks), there have also been quite a few “Best of the ’00 : …” lists, but I am not writing one of those either. I have no great inclination to look back upon the last year of my life, and I have done a poor job of chronicling my last year in TV, so I will start off the first day of the new year by telling you about the man who has had the biggest (TV) influence over my last 10 years, laying the foundation of my love for TV.

I think I can say that Joss Whedon saved my life.

My father died when I was 12. Needless to say this did not go over well with me. An introverted kid thrown into ridiculous depression was kind of a recipe for disaster. But there wasn’t any disaster disaster, because I had an emotional outlet in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For one hour a week I was able to not only escape into entertainment, but was also able to imagine that no matter how bad my life was there was a future where I would have friends, fall in love, grow into a functional adult. And that is one of the things that art does for us; it presents us with an opportunity to conceive of that which we had not before. I cannot say that I was entirely self-aware about this at the time. I didn’t fully understand that the relationship between humor and tragedy isn’t only one of convenience, it is one of necessity. At a time when I could see nothing even remotely amusing about my existence there was a picture of reality where there was always light to balance the dark.

On the less pretentious-English-major side of things, watching Buffy, and subsequently Angel, gave me a common interest with my sister, who is 13 years older than me. Having siblings in such a different age bracket can lead to distant relationships, but mutual fandom bridged that gap for us. For my 6-years-younger brother and me it was Firefly. When I went to college I met two of my best friends to this day because of Joss Whedon’s shows. (Hi, Lauren and Mandy!) When I needed to understand complex literary devices I had a large pool of intricate plots and rich characters as examples from which to draw. There is an episode of one of Joss Whedon’s shows to fit whatever I am feeling or going through; he is much like The Beatles or John Donne in that way. The laptop I am writing this post on is named Mal, in honor of my favorite space cowboy.

While I have talked here about the very personal influence Joss Whedon has had on my life, let me point out just one aspect of his influence on TV. The casts of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, (plus Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog) span the TV landscape: How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Kitchen Confidential, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Chuck, Gossip Girl, Criminal Minds, Bones, Spaced, Supernatural, Alias, V, Dexter, Mad Men, Greek, Legend of the Seeker, Veronica Mars (which Joss also guest starred on), Battlestar Galactica, Leverage, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and many more I am sure I have forgotten. I think I will make a chart of all this.

So this is from where I step into the next year and (according to everyone else) the next decade.

The TV Girl