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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My Weekend Fling (Part 1): Sherlock

Dear Emily,

Thank you so much for your television suggestion.  I am very sorry that I eyed you quizzically when you first told me that this mini-series was good; your taste is excellent and I shouldn't be so judge-y judge-y.  I am very sorry that I was always busy/tired whenever I had the chance to watch this with you and Jennie.  I am very sorry that I joined in with making Benedict Cumberbatch's name into a litany of dirty phrases.  I am very sorry that despite my enjoyment of this series I will continue to make fun of Mr. Cumberbatch's name.

Love always,
Andrea / The TV Girl

Monday, January 24, 2011

Legend of the Seeker: Sorry About That Cancellation Thing...

I have to say a proper goodbye to this cheesy and amazing show, and while it was not the most painful of untimely deaths in 2010 (that honor goes to Terriers), I'm really quite unhappy about it. (For a while I avoided watching the last couple episodes because I knew that was all I was getting and I knew it wouldn't be enough.)

First of all, how does a Saturday syndicated fantasy show get cancelled?  Wasn't Xena on for like a million years?  Isn't Kevin Sorbo wielding terrible dialog somewhere out there as I speak?  So what's the deal?  I thought the whole point was that this type of show could run forever, entertaining geeks and the hungover without interruption.  Why are we fans deprived of the spiffy adventures of Richard, Kahlan, Zed, and Cara?

I will never have a (satisfactory) answer to my query, and so be it.  That's the way it goes sometimes.

But what a second season we had!

I'm not saying that anyone should really try and follow the logic of this show.  You'd need a huge white board and a rainbow of colored markers to keep track of: what magic does or does not work on which people; whose dead, whose only thought to be dead, whose alive and then very quickly killed off; which back-story was correct, which got rewritten, which got re-rewritten; which set of people were good, which were evil; what town was besieged, what town was besieged but saved, and so on and so on.  The episode "Creator" was kind of like a mini mid-S2 round up, like a highlights clip show, and that kind of helped.  But comprehensibility wasn't exactly the point of Legend of the Seeker.  The point was the triumph of good over evil through crazy sword battles, magic, and love: the ridiculous-ness was part of the fun.  In utterly improbable ways over-the-top-cheesy villains met their match no matter what the odds, be it disease ridden hordes from hell or entire brigades of revenge-bent soldiers or single-minded mummy or insanity inducing sand, because the Seeker, the Mother Confessor, the Wizard of the First Order, and the Mord Sith are the sharp-object-brandishing messengers of right and truth. Damn it.

And in the spirit of completely ridiculous and total awesome: Richard and Kahlan's love can literally defeat Death and heal the veil between the world of the living and the underworld?  I'm not always the biggest cheerleader for Richard and Kahlan, they are sometimes a bit to earnest for me and I adore Cara (but more on that later), but I have to admit that as sappy as it was, Kahlan's grief over stabbing Richard in the heart (which was amazing!) producing another Stone of Tears was a wonderful ending, very much in line with the tenor of this show.  The world was set to right, Richard and Kahlan's abstinence-based relationship continues, Zed got to be proud of his grandson, and though a new threat loomed unforeseen in the background, all was well!


What I really want is a resolution for Cara.  Cara turned out to be a great character: she was moody, hostile, sarcastic, prone to violence, unapologetic and at the same time loyal, defiant, resourceful, courageous, ardent.  And it was so obvious that there was more of a story for her.  The two last episodes, which proposed an alternative universe in which Cara had never become Mord Sith showed just how important she was.  I guess it is a matter of debate if she could have been a genuine competitor for Richard's affections, it was like that was always there as a possibility (Cara at one point says she loves Richard, and Richard always always defends Cara), but really the show never got around to it. I think Richard and Cara would have been a great couple, but regardless, no chick that bad-ass should be relegated to a sidekick (and woe unto anyone who called her so), but that is kind of the impression the viewer is left with.  It's just such a shame.

I know that of all the people I know, no one will really love this show the way KP and I do.  It was silly and fun, and kind of like a Saturday morning cartoon for grown-ups.  So thanks Legend of the Seeker for your labyrinthine plots, your endless supply of outrageous characters, your heartfelt dialog, and all the general merriment you gave us.

The TV Girl 

KP Recommends: The Cape

My friend KP left this as a comment on another post, but I didn't want it to get lost, because I think she makes a good point.  I've only watched the pilot of The Cape, but I enjoyed it.  And with what she says (because I trust her taste despite her affinity for Lie to Me) I am totally willing to play catch-up.

The TV Girl

I don't understand the recent hate that The Cape has been getting. Despite some of the pedantic, predictable dialogue, the show has it's purpose and does it well. It's not something incredibly witty nor will it have blow your mind plot lines, but it's a story about your typical superhero (without the campiness too often found in No Ordinary Family) who is fighting to prove to his son that one good man can make a difference. And this is a familiar premise I can embrace and I'm surprised that more people can't or don't.

And on a side note, casting is strong. While I'm on the fence about David Lyons, I love James Frain as the villian, Jennifer Ferrin as the suffering wife and of course, Summer Glau as the mysterious Orwell.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rapid Rant: TV is Made Only for Women?

I wish that I hadn't taught an acquaintance the term 'TV-boyfriend" because she proceeded to repeat this to her husband ( "I never heard this phrase before Andrea was talking about the fact that she won't watch Off the Map even though Zach Gilford is on it"), and her husband proceeded to 1) ask me to explain the term (which I think is odd, seems pretty straightforward to me) and 2) tell me how TV was made only for women and aside from sports there wasn't anything on TV made for men.

Who to the what now?

You must be kidding me!

This happened over the weekend and I have tried to just forget the incident as stupid shit people say sometimes. Obviously I've failed in this attempt, and partially that is because his main argument in support of his ridiculous statement was "even on procedural shows there always has to be some stupid love story."  Ugggggg.  I hate hate hate this argument.  (And this instance wasn't the first time I heard it, hence my breaking down into bitch mode.)  Please tell me how "smoking hot female law-enforcement agent falls for brilliant but damaged middle aged boss/co-worker" isn't blatant male wish fulfillment (or in any way remotely plausible)?  Please explain to me how men who have chosen to get married, and thereby pledge their love and fidelity to one woman for the rest of their life, dismiss any romantic storyline as "only there because women need it."  Strangely I've never heard a guy make any complaints about male characters who are womanizers; no one seems to be bothered by those whose copious coupling is devoid of emotion and little more than recreational sport.  Take the former common complaint along with the later telling silence and what you get is a fictional landscape where love is negated from the human experience, leaving you with flat characters, stagnant stories, and limited insight.  Basically, you have Cops.  (Which is fine if that is what you want.)  But of course, on bad shows you have all those deficiencies plus romantic plots.

But how about the fact that many shows airing now/recently are thematically structured around the father-son relationship or the brother relationship?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that women are excluded from these types of shows, and in fact some, like Fringe, Sons of Anarchy, and Supernatural, are among my favorite-st of favorite shows.  I'm just saying that their very existence attests to both the creative and marketing desire for male viewers.

And I'm not even bothering to mention the flood of bromances on TV.

I grant that women watch a great deal of TV (and some of us are damn proud of it), that there are shows designed with a predominantly female audience in mind, and that there are shows that have an added bonus for me because of attractive male leads.  I also openly admit that I get super attached to the romantic pairings on my shows.  But it is wholly disingenuous to, um, REALITY to say that the only thing for men on all of network, basic and premium cable TV  is sports.

The TV Girl

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Internal Debates: US Remakes of UK Shows

I think about TV much more than I write about it.  Lately I've been thinking about US remakes of UK shows, and for good reason.  There are a rash of remakes: Being Human is premiering tonight on SyFy; Shameless debuted last weekend on Showtime; Skins is coming soon on MTV.  So, do we accept this re-colonization of America?

In general I'm going to say: no.  The US needs to get its shit together, make better shows and not just wait around to strip shows from across the pond of the funny accents and socialized medicine.

I'm not trying to be a snob.  This isn't a Brit-just-do-it-better thing.  There are some British TV shows that are just as awful as some American TV shows (please see Hex if you think I'm wrong, that show is terrible).  And The Office stands as a remake more than equal to the original (even if it is a bit long in the tooth).  That's always kind of the sticking point: there is a show that transfered continents well, so doesn't that mean it's a good thing to keep trying?

No, because for some reason whoever is in charge of these projects keeps forgetting that Britain is a different country.  Britain is a distinct and particular culture with its own political system, class distinctions, social order, ethics and values.  In the case of Shameless, America does not (as of yet) have an accepted social class of professionally unemployed people living on the government assistance that mainstream viewers are willing to accept as glorified/normalized in a show.  The entire premise of the show literally doesn't translate: we have no frame of reference to understand such a show when it is set in America.  As far as Skins is concerned, I can't help but think that a network that produces such gems as 16 & Pregnant and Jersey Shore won't actually understand that Skins wasn't about the fact that Tony & Co did drugs and had sex but that it was about how people construct family in the face of shocking neglect and the difficulties of loving another person when you have no example of sacrifice.  MTV is a lowest common denominator network, pandering to voyeurism and narcissism, so the likelihood of a Skins remake as funny, affecting, honest, and textured as the original is slim to none.  Need anyone be reminded of the unmitigated disaster that was the American version of Coupling?  And what exactly is the point of American Top Gear?

This sword cuts both ways.  There would be some epic failures if British TV producers started to remake American shows willy-nilly.  There is no way that you could take the premise of a show like Friday Night Lights, transfer it to Bristol and expect to have an equal show.  How I Met Your Mother is just as much about living in New York City as it is about finding the love of your life, and when the setting is that intrinsic to the story you can't just pick it up, move it across an ocean and thing you will have the same entertainment result.  There is a reason the foreign chapter of Sons of Anarchy is in Ireland not England; let's face it, historically the Brits were the conquerors, they aren't as virulent about their freedom as we (and the Irish) are and Jax's hunt for that is in some ways distinctly American.  How awful would Sam and Dean traversing the lake district and the moors be?

So why not just watch the originals?  Watching the originals gives you a chance to experience the perspective of a nation that is deceptively similar to America but essentially distinct.  Thanks to the internet and Netflix it isn't like it is impossible to get foreign TV.  When I watched Skins S1&2 over 2 years ago I pieced together each episode one YouTube video at a time (most of which had Spanish subtitles, so I learned some new words, yay!) and it was absolutely completely worth it.

Okay, I might watch Being Human anyway, just because.  Maybe The Office lightening can strike again.  Plus I haven't gotten to the second episode of The Cape.

The TV Girl