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, September 12, 2011

Doctor Who: Someone Said It Better

(6.10, "The Girl Who Waited")

I cried and cried watching the most recent episode of Doctor Who.  I thought it was beautiful.  But, I'm not feeling super articulate about it, so I encourage you to click the link below for Kyle Anderson's review on Nerdist.  He says what I would say, if I wrote as well as he does.  Enjoy!

Kyle Anderson's "The Girl Who Waited" Review

The TV Girl

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sons of Anarchy: Wedding Bells and Bullet Holes

(4.01 “Out”)

The boys are out of prison, Jax with some fun new scars.  Otto’s still inside, and happens to find a razor blade in his boiled egg (I’m not sure how that works, but ok), which he turns on his wrist, but he’s found by a guard.  Charming changed in the time they were away.  Opie is getting married.  Jacob Hale is building a fancy new sub-division, the type of McMansion development that Charming has been so lacking in. Tara had her baby!!!  (Thomas, named after Jax’s deceased brother.)   And there is literally a new Sheriff in town.  Riding through town on their way to the welcome home party at the garage, the Sons are stopped by Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar), instated during the time of incarceration, and unwilling to see any cuts on the newly paroled riders.  After the happy reunions at Teller-Morrow (where Gemma gives Jax a paper bag containing “the one he picked out”) it’s back to business.  Even with tidy profits, it’s time to renegotiate SAMCRO’s place in the deal between them, the Irish, and the Russians.  Since they have a tail, everyone rolls out: Clay, Jax and Opie to the meeting with everyone else providing a distraction for the all too easily manipulated cops.  While his employees are being played, the new Sheriff is attending a super secret meeting with an odd looking man whose renting the top floor of his building: ASUDA Potter.  He explains to Roosevelt the design of the governments RICO case involving SAMCRO, the Irish and the Russians, which is progressing nicely due to a highly placed FBI agent within the Russians, and asks for Roosevelt’s cooperation, as Charming will most likely be the site of the showdown.  All cop, Roosevelt accepts.  At the meet with the Russians, the FBI agent observes Jax agreeing to the “it’s all just business” apology offered for his shiving in prison (hence the new scars), a new deal is struck and Opie invites them all to the wedding, a lovely pretext for sneaking off to look at guns.  Back to Charming for um, reunion time.  Pillow-talk topics include: (for Gemma and Clay) Unser’s declining health, Clay’s declining health, and retirement; (for Jax and Tara) getting married, how to raise their boys, that John Teller was a coward not to take his sons out of the life, and how Jax just needs to bide his time and save some money so that the can leave SAMCRO and never look back.  Now in the infirmary, Otto is handed a scalpel as another prisoner is wheeled in next to him.  (This can’t possibly end well.)  Also on the list of things that are most likely HUGE mistakes, time for Opie and Lyla’s wedding.  All the gangs are there (on reservation land, so cuts allowed), and Lyla emerges looking much more like the bachelor party entertainment than the bride, but after a few (thankfully) short and awkward vows, Opie and Lyla are pronounced man and wife.  During the reception Chibs and Juice sneak off with some of the Russians (including an un-miked FBI agent) to look at the guns. Otto unhooks the cuff on his bed.  Clay and Jax take Putlova off to fire off a few from a particularly lethal looking handgun. In the warehouse, they test the merchandise on the Russians who brought them their, killing them all.  Otto shoves the scalpel through the ear and into the brain of the man strapped in the next bed, saying, “this is for Jax Teller.”  And out in the woods Clay shoots Putlova’s bodyguards before the others hold him down so Jax can stab him repeatedly in the chest, which is just business after all.  The now dead FBI agent is the last body to be dumped onto the new Hale development sight.

Well wasn’t that just a hi-we’re-back bitchslap?
I mean that as a compliment.

I admit that I find the details of who-has-a-deal-with-who-and-for-what-and-why rather hard to follow on this show: it’s always very intricate and usually changes in the time it takes to flip the safety off.  Therefore it was rather helpful to introduce two new law enforcement characters to explain to each other where the criminal enterprises of the Sons stand.  Without seeming forced or condescending, we got a quick update to bridge us from the previous seasons, and part of the organic presentation was the initial strength of our new lawmen.  Potter, a smoking, paranoid, motorcycle-riding wisp of a dude, is a bit odd, but in now way quirky or cutesy.  He’s like the anti-Stahl: patient observation and quiet cunning instead of furious proclamations and half-baked ideas.  He admits he needs Roosevelt’s help because his team has no credibility in gang warfare, while Roosevelt has vast experience.  He doesn’t strong-arm what he needs, but there’s no doubt (to him or to us) that he is going to get it.  One look at his extensive walls of photos and relationships is enough to make clear that this man won’t be taken in by any Jax Teller triple/ quadruple/ whatever –crosses.  And Roosevelt, what a welcome addition to Charming.  He’s the savvy, upright, committed Sheriff that the town (and the club, because without the law, there’s no such thing as outlaws) so desperately needs in the void left behind by David Hale’s untimely death.  But as a transplant, and therefore without Hale’s hometown attachment to Charming, Roosevelt stands a better chance of protecting the town because of his emotional distance. 

But there is another new character, even if he won’t have any lines.  Emily the Roommate can tell you I was genuinely distressed over whether or not Tara was going to have an abortion.  (I missed the video that would have put me out of my misery sooner.)  It’s not just that I’m Pro-Life, but also that it would have been out of character for Tara.  And it would have just upset me to no end to see Tara have a similar look to the one on Lyla’s face when Opie mentioned expanding their family.  Welcome Thomas Teller, I’m so happy to meet you.  Now please make yourself useful and help you dad propose to your mom.

Seriously, Jax’s proposal to Tara was so frakking prefect I wanted to die inside.  Not some over-the-top declaration of adoration everlasting, but rather a humble acknowledgment of the family that they already are, Jax unreservedly opened himself up to Tara’s rejection by letting it show in his eager expression and halting sentence just how important her answer is.  And as much as he avows that Tara is his savior, brought to him to take him out of the violence of his life, he came to her having thought out her needs, demonstrating to her that he’s asking her to marry him so that he can be her husband, not with the expectation that she will simply be his wife.  Perfect.

And it was nice to have that perfection for half an episode, because at the end we had to question if it had all been a lie.  Where exactly does Jax think he can go where the repercussions of this won’t follow him?  The merits of eye-for-an-eye justice are debatable.  Putlova tried to kill Jax, so within the context of their criminal world, Jax killing Putlova makes sense, and could possibly be something that everyone could move past.  Slaughtering all the Russians is more of the scorched-earth approach, and given that one of those Russians was an undercover FBI agent, the landscape surrounding SAMCRO now looks to be as salted as Carthage after Cato finally got his way in the Roman Senate. 

Sons of Anarchy, how I have missed you.

The TV Girl

Monday, September 5, 2011

Top 5: Shows I Watch Alone

On the opposite side of the spectrum from when last we spoke, there are some shows that don't lend themselves well to happy fun let's-get-together-and-watch-that-show parties.  It's not that I want to keep certain shows to myself (I do not get the pseudo-hipster attitude of NOT telling people about awesome things) but rather that some shows, usually the ones that I am particularly engaged in or attached to, are not ones that I want to watch with other people.  At least the first time that I see an episode.  Some shows I have to let be mine first.

Sons of Anarchy
KP visited a couple of weeks ago and we were trying to figure out a show to watch while we were hanging out.  There was a quick mutual agreement that SoA, though a favorite of us both, just wasn't something you watched with someone else.  Part of the brilliance of SoA is that it reaches inside of you and claws at all the things that make you human.  It's visceral, terrifying, and I wouldn't give it up for a second.  But, well, it's just a private experience.

The truth is that when I started watching this show no one I knew watched it also.  Therefore I watched it on my own and by the time other people I knew started watching I was too far ahead to invite them over for new episodes on a Friday night.  Now, the idea that there would be other people around when new information trickles in about Peter, or Olivia absorbs her next in a never ending parade of blows, or Walter makes his latest food request just seems too strange to me.

Game of Thrones
I'm too fucking involved in GoT to watch it with anyone else.  I rejoice, I cry, I yell, I bite my nails, I stop breathing, sometimes I even get to laugh.  I exclaim my love and hate at the screen.  I panic for what has happened, what is happening, for what is yet to happen, for everything.  I can't say that it is a pretty sight.  It would annoy the living bejesus out of someone to be watching this with me, and it would annoy me to try and tone down my reactions.  I was once told that a sign of maturity is to recognize and live within your limitations.  I consider it the hight of maturity for me to watch GoT alone.

Dexter is all about honesty: are we telling the truth or are we lying?  Because so much of the show is about exposing the truth you end up as a viewer feeling a bit exposed yourself, and in that it is a little uncomfortable to glance over and see a loved one.  Dexter leaves you feeling raw, edgy, kinda giddy and very much in the mood for a bit of solitude to mull over the state of your being.

Legend of the Seeker
I'm fairly sure that if anyone saw just how unabashedly I love this silly little defunct fantasy show that they would disown me in a heartbeat.  (Actually, LilBro might have watched a few minutes with me before deciding I was a lunatic and he had better things to do.)  They might be right to do so.  But, to save both myself and them from the pain of separation, I'll just keep LotS for rainy days when family and friends are out having real lives.

The TV Girl

Friday, September 2, 2011

Top 5: Shows I Enjoy Watching Collectively

I've been having a really rough week.  The kind where you want to cry all the time and you don't know why.  Everything that everyone says makes you hurt but not because they're mean or rude, just because, well, because.  In that frame of mind I feel this ridiculous need to justify myself, to explain not only why I am NOT ashamed of the amount of TV I watch, but also why I love to write about it.

TV can connect you to other people.  It's more than if you have show in common you have an easy conversation topic with another person (You watch Fringe? I watch Fringe! So that thing with Peter, what's that all about?), even though that is amazing for socially awkward people like me, and I have friends with whom I can have lengthy conversations entirely about TV.  (Every time KP and I hang out in a group our friend roll their eyes when we start talking TV, knowing if they don't intervene we won't stop.)  It's more than that.  Recommending a show to a friend lets them get to know you better; you trust them a bit more by granting them access to your opinions and thoughts, when you agree it becomes a bond, when you disagree it become fodder for debate and seeing things in a new light.  When you watch a show with someone you create the memory of that act, and when you watch that show later it makes you think of that person.  I adore the texts I get from friends that say "I was watching such-and-such today and it made me think of you."

So in the spirit of TV as act of community, these are shows that I prefer to watch with other people.  I will watch these shows by myself, but if I have the chance to share them with someone else I will, because it makes already enjoyable shows so much more enjoyable.

Burn Notice
For Sis and LilBro this is like OUR show.  I'm not sure how, I'm not sure why, but somehow it became our go-to show to watch when we're all in the same place, usually only a few days at Christmas now that we're all adults and such.  And without them I just don't enjoy the show as much.  I still like it, just not as much.  Sam seems funnier when my brother is there to laugh with me.  Michael's schemes seem more outlandish and fun with my sister cheering along too.  At this point it almost feels like a betrayal to watch Burn Notice on my own, like I'm cheating myself and my siblings out of the lazy hours, bottles of wine, and random bullshitting conversations entailed in watching.

Battlestar Galactica
I will watch this show anytime, anywhere, with anyone or with no one.  While I do not love it any less when flying solo, watching BSG with other people is one of the supreme joys in my life.  I can tell when, where, and with whom I watched every episode of this show, and all of that information informs my relationship with Battlestar Galactica.  The mini-series was an adventure in Christopher and Calah's apartment, our second semester of grad school,  their infant daughter alternatively laughing hysterically or crying depending on how much attention we were paying to the show.  The first time I saw "Unfinished Business" I only caught half the dialogue because Jennie, Jason and I were occupying a table at the Knight's of Columbus in Dallas where Tom was tending bar and it was a raucous night.  (Of course, the immensity of that episode wasn't lost on us, we understood even without the sound.)  The revelation of the final five Cylons has less impact on me than I think it should have because I was watching by myself on Mal in the middle of the night, in my room in the apartment shared with the roommate who frightened me.  The finale was extra sad because it was the end of "BSG Viewing Party at the Russells'."  Watching BSG together made a little fleet out of me and my loved ones, no matter how far flung we get.

The Office
Awkward humor is so hard for me to take, even though I love many shows that revolve around awkward people doing awkward things that make me feel awkward.  Therefore, I'm more likely to turn off an awkward-humor show if I watch by myself.  (At least the first time I see an episode.  Re-watch isn't as bad, but that necessitates getting through it the first time.)  The Office is the best example of that personal phenomenon.  If it's just me I get about 2 minutes in and bury my head in my arms and then can't watch anymore.  If I'm watching with a group I bury my head in my arms, but the solidarity with others keeps me going, and I'm better off for it.   This is a show where without other people it wouldn't have happened and I'd hate if I'd have missed the many wonderful seasons (and don't forget that this show was really wonderful for a long time) of the Dunder-Mifflin bunch because I get going when the going gets uncomfortable.

Doctor Who
A major theme in Doctor Who is the fundamental need for communion.  The Doctor always has a companion, things go to complete fuckery when he doesn't.  So it makes sense to me that traveling with the Time Lord is just more fun when my blue box (aka my blue couch) is occupied by more than me.  Especially since I spend so much time while watching Doctor Who going "wait, what the bleepedy-bleep just happened?!?"  It makes me feel less like a crazy person when there is someone to hear those exclamations.
Also, Doctor Who has the tendency to float you along on jaunty adventures and quippy dialogue only to sucker punch you with devastation and tragedy (Davies, I still don't forgive you for Donna); the comfort of a watching companion or two gentles the experience because there is a hand to grab when something exciting is happening but also someone to pass the box of tissues when your heart (inevitably) breaks.  Plus, accent decoding is much easier with multiple ears.

The O.C.
This show is so ridiculous and awesome and awesomely ridiculous that it demands to be watched with others.  The Cohen-Atwood-Cooper-Roberts blended family is always a joy to watch, but it gets so much better with a friend to simultaneously roll their eyes at Marissa's dumb-ass-ery or get a little equally verklempt at those perfect Ryan and Seth moments.  I have happily spent many an afternoon cleaning and organizing to the background of soapy sunshine and emo antics, but the full glory of The O.C. (the touching family moments, the funny declarations of love, the sad sad car accidents) really comes into being when observed in conjunction with good friends.  And by good friends I mean people who have an equal lack of shame and love of upper-middle-class drama.  Or just people who drink as much as you do.

The TV Girl

Ringer: Show I Will Actually Watch This Fall

Every Fall, when new shows start and old friends return, I am full of optimism.  I believe that I will find time to keep up with dear loves and add the shiny new shows into rotation.

Yeah, um, we know that doesn't happen.  But for ever so many reasons I can say that I am genuinely excited about Ringer and that for ever how long it lasts (wow, that's not optimistic) I will be a faithful and diligent little viewer.  I mean watch the trailer for this show and tell me for real that you aren't at least interested enough to watch the pilot.

The TV Girl