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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fringe: Ummm, WHAT!

(3.19 "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" and 3.20 "6:02 AM EST")

So, Bell and Olivia are not cohabitating in her brain so well, and in order to keep her consciousness from disappearing Bellivia, Walter and Peter take some LSD and send their consciousness into Olivia's to find her.  Surprisingly to them, but somehow this didn't shock me too much, Olivia's brain is a hostile place, and everyone tries to kill them, both as regular 3-D people and as really cool animation.  Peter figures out that since Olivia runs and hides when she is frightened, and wouldn't you be frightened if someone shoved their brain into yours, Olivia is hiding in the last place anyone would ever look for her, her home on the military base in Jacksonville.  While zeppelining there, Bell tells Walter that he believes Walter is a different man then when he was young and that he will make the right choices for the future, and Peter unlocks a room where a man he's never seen before is hiding.  Peter finds Olivia, she stands up to her fear of her step-father, and Bell fades away, leaving Olivia as the sole proprietor of her body.  Everyone comes down from their high, and all seems happy, until Olivia tells Peter that the man in the locked room is the man who is going to kill her.  AND if that wasn't bad enough, Walternate uses Henry's (Peter and Faulivia's super cute super baby!) blood to turn on the machine, turning on the machine Over-Here as well, causing wormholes across the eastern seaboard, signaling the beginning of the end, and our heroes are at a loss how to stop or even contain the wormholes.  Nina sends Olivia off to find Sam, hoping he has some way of turning off the machine.  Peter decides to go into the machine to try and turn it off, which despite the pain it causes him, Walter agrees to help him do.  Over-There, Fringe Division registers the energy emissions that are "healing" Over-There and Fauxlivia figures out that Walternate has turned on the machine, despite the fact that it will kill Peter.  Unwilling to accept Walternate's decree, Fauxlivia leaves Henry with Lincoln, breaks into Liberty Island and tries to get Over-Here.  Peter's attempt to go into the machine doesn't go so well, as the machine shocks him into a coma.  Sam finds Olivia, and takes her off to save the world (in the next two episodes).  Fauxlivia didn't make it Over-Here, and is now the new tenant in Olivia's cell.  All in all, really sad for everyone.

Now, we all know that Olivia has some rather enhanced observational abilities, but she know whose going to kill her?  If this guy is locked up in Olivia's mind then it seems like he is someone she knows, but as far as we know she didn't tell Peter that she is convinced a guy she's met before is going to kill her.  But considering that there seems to be no end to the ridiculous bullshit Olivia has to go through, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Olivia does know that there is a man that is going to kill her.  I would think that this is part of next season's story, but who knows, in the last two episodes of this season we might have an answer.

Or we may not even have answers to the questions we have now.  (Or maybe the Lost reference struck too much fear into my heart.  It probably wasn't intended to strike fear, now that I think about it.)  As best I can understand, the machine works by fixing one universe with pieces from the other, which will leave one whole and one destroyed.  (I have to wonder if sheep are really worth 6 billion lives, but I guess I should wait to experience a totally breakdown in the laws of physics before I judge.)  Peter probably couldn't get into the Over-Here machine because Walternate turned on the Over-There machine first, which means Fauxlivia is Over-Here's only hope, but Peter's coma is probably more than a coma, so he might be able to figure it all out.

Even if he doesn't, I have a feeling that Walternate made a HUGE mistake pissing of Fauxlivia.  She just doesn't strike me as a girl who takes kindly to someone trying to kill her baby-daddy and then locking her up in a dark cell.  Olivia just wanted to go home and make the best compromise for everyone, but Fauxlivia is probably going to bust out and go all revenge-y on Walternate.  Plus when Lincoln finds out his dear unrequited love is his boss' captive, I foresee he will take it poorly.

Alright, problems solved, let them take care of it, and Over-Here can live happily-ever-after.

Wow, what an unsatisfying conclusion to this season that would be.  Unfortunately we've reached that point where we just have to wait to see how this season is going to turn out: the big reveal is waiting for us, as soon as all the pieces are in place.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Texting with LilBro

I had to share this because it's still making me laugh.  This is part of a text conversation between me and my little brother.

The TV Girl

Friday Night Lights: God May Open a Door, But Your Phone Won't Work

(5.1 "Expectations")

I watched all of S4 over the weekend, and while I have many thoughts about it, I'm not really ready to voice those.  So I've decided to just skip ahead to the new(-ish) episode from Friday.

Having said that, do I really have to put up with another whole season of Becky?  Maybe spaced out week to week she won't make me want to offer up myself to invasive medical research.  Maybe.  I don't know that there is much hope that she will get any smarter, but in smaller doses I may find her relentless desperation slightly less oppressive.  I'm sorry her mom went to work on a casino boat and that her step-mom didn't want her around, but... ok, I'll stop.

So, Tami is the guidance counselor at East Dillon, and she finds the teachers somewhat apathetic and the parents rather absent.  Becky is going to live with Billy and Mindy, since no one else wants her.  Billy is going to assistant coach the Lions, because he wants to be around the good influence of Eric.  And no one can question what a good influence Eric is, since not only did he manage to make the Lions into a cohesive team that can win (more than twice), you've got to give him some credit for Vince's wonderful advice to Jess' brother about responsibility.  After a last Crucifictorious performance and a trip to the Landing Strip, Landry and Julie went of to their respective colleges.

Buddy Garrity in his full on Buddy-Garrity-mode is just priceless.  Of course he knows that Ruckle is a Welsh name, because he has probably lifted Hastings' fingerprints and knows every detail of his life, since little pesky hiccups like personal privacy or human dignity won't stop Buddy in pursuit of the perfect football team.

On the other hand, how uncomfortable is Billy's guilt?  Not that we aren't kind of used to this, since Billy's entire life is one overcompensation after another, and letting you kid brother take the fall for your illegal activity is a shit move, but Billy introducing himself to the Lions was downright painful.  It would be really nice if by the end of this series Billy had a tiny bit of self-respect.

Did I miss the part where they said what college Julie is going to or did they not actually say it?  Julie isn't be written off the show, since she is the daughter of the main characters that would be a little awkward.  Looks like there will be more mistakes and meltdowns from dear Julie, who despite her tendency to be a bit unpleasant I can't seem to really dislike.

But this may have been the last time we see Landry, and can we just take a moment to appreciate the wonderfulness.  Landry wasn't often the hero, never really got the girl, and his band lacked stage presence, but was good-hearted, kind, willing to forgive, and appreciative of his blessings in life.  Nothing showed Landry's character better than his farewell to Mrs. Saracen.  He took the time to say good-bye to his best friend's grandmother, to give someone who had influenced his life the respect she deserved.  Lance, best of luck at Rice, you deserve it.

Here is my problem, not with the episode, with my life.  I want to watch The Chicago Code (which means catching up with the whole season so far because it got away from me).  I would like to enjoy this final season of FNL the way it was intended, week by week.  These two desires conflict, because of Matt Lauria.  I don't know that I can concurrently watch an actor play characters in such vastly different circumstances without my suspension of disbelief suffering.  I sound like I'm begrudging someone their success, and really I'm not: I like him and one of my great joys is seeing actors and actresses I like on new/different shows.  I'm just afraid that in this instance my experience of one or both shows will lessen.  Anyone (hint hint KP) have any advice?

The TV Girl

Monday, April 18, 2011

Game of Thrones: Lions, and Direwolves, and Stags, Oh My!

(1.1 "Winter is Coming")

I'll be honest, I have no idea how to talk about this show.  My head is thrashing back and forth between that-was-different-than-the-book nitpicking and did-you-see-that-shit giddiness.  Please bear with me if this post ends up being total gibberish, I'll find it before the season ends.

Now that I have excused myself from being coherent, organized, or focused, Game of Thrones was damn cool television.

What you need to know: Ned Stark (Sean Bean) rules the North from Winterfell where he lives with his family: wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), sons Robb (Richard Madden), Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), and Rickon (whose name I cannot find on IMDb), daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams), and bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington).  When Ned's mentor John Arryn dies, Ned's lifelong friend King Robert (Mark Addy) travels to Winterfell with his wife Cersei (Lena Headey), his son Joffery (Jack Gleeson), and Cersei's brothers Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), to offer Ned the position of Hand of the King (a truly thankless job).  Across the sea, Viserys (Harry Lloyd) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) the surviving children of the Targaryen King that Robert defeated 15 years before are engineering their return to Westros by marrying Daenerys to Kahl Drogo (Jason Momoa), the leader of a large and powerful horse-lord tribe.  When Ned and Catelyn receive word from her sister Lysa Arryn that John Arryn was murdered, they decided Ned must accept Robert's offer and find out the truth of what's going on in the capital.  Unfortunately, Bran finds out a truth when he catches Jamie and Cersei having sex, a discovery for which Jaime throws Bran out of a tower window.

Now let's all try and remember there is no way, no possible way, for every detail from this massive book (the first in a massive series) to make it into a TV series.  That said, I am blown away by just how much they managed to get into this first hour, and how well they did it.

So what's different?  The most noticeable thing to me is that they have aged the Stark children.  In the book Robb and Jon are 15, Sansa is 11, Arya is 9, Bran is 7 and Rickon is 3.  To me, Robb and Jon look more like 18 or 19, Sansa says she is 13, they say Bran is 10.  I'm inclined to think this was a good decision on the parts of Misters Benioff and Weiss.  While it might stunt the emotional impact of certain events, it will be less distracting in the long run when it comes to wars and marriages, since the viewer will not have to keep reminding him/herself that the characters are barely older than children.

The second most obvious change is they have made Catelyn's hostility towards Jon completely out in the open.  In the book (at this point) Catelyn treats Jon with repressed hostility, not the open contempt she looks at him with when he was cleaning up the arrows from Bran's target practice, and Jon was included in the feast for the royal family, though he was no allowed to sit with his siblings, while in the show Catelyn does not allow him to attend, on the pretext that his presence would offend the Queen.  Here is where I have to admit my bais, where my opinions formed from the book influences the way that I'm watching this show, because I think making Caetlyn's attitude towards Jon so apparent is a spectacular choice on the show runners' part.  Jon is one of my favorite characters and Catelyn might be my least favorite.  (I'm actually hoping that the show can maybe make me hate Catelyn less, but that won't happen if they stick to the source material.)  I think that the way she treats Jon exposes her pride and folly, and that the viewer now has a very good grasp on the principles from which she is going to make her future decisions.

A third difference as we move medium is Jamie's prominence. In the book Jamie is one of the main actors who shapes events: it is his (impulsive) choices that others must respond to, and if particular characters are not directly reacting to something he did, they seem to still be talking about him.  But for all that, I found, Jaime to be almost absent, like he was in my peripheral vision and I knew he was there but I couldn't see him.  (Part of this is undoubtedly narrative structure, since Jaime does not speak in his own voice until the third book.)  It seems like they are trying to establish Jaime as a character and not just an idea and in the scene between him and Tyrion they did an excellent job of solidifying the former and introducing the latter.  

And what an introduction!  Tyrion Lannister announced his presence in all of his drinking, whoring, witty magnificence.  I will refrain from saying Jamie and Tyrion's interaction was sweet, because well, facilitating your brother's orgy so that he isn't late to dinner is pretty icky, but on the sliding scale of Lannister-dysfunction, it shows that Jaime does care for Tyrion.  Tyrion is such an interesting contrast to Robert; a man who has to indulge in his appetites in private rather than public because his gifts are intellectual rather than physical. While I think that the whole cast (so far) is superb, Dinklage's sly delivery and watchful demeanor are exemplary.   

On a really silly note, they weren't what I was expecting, but I really liked the opening credits.  It was like a Lego map, a tiny whimsical moment in what will most likely turn out to be a less than light series.

All in all, a great start.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Internal Debates: If I Could Magic Myself Somewhere

I wanted to write something cheerful for a friend of mine, she is embroiled in a debate over a very controversial issue, and while she is unshaken in her conviction, I think her spirit needs some lightening, just for a moment.

And that is what I'm here for people: distraction!

Well, that, and totally logical arguments supporting my undeniably correct opinions.

So, if I were a character (that did not already exist) on a TV show (that does exist), which show would it be and what would me character be like?

It wouldn't be Chuck; since I cannot be Sarah, as a female character I would end up either evil, heartbroken, or both.   And seriously, what would be the point of being a character on Chuck if I couldn't make out with Chuck?

It would be pretty fun to hang out in Neptune, CA with Veronica Mars, her being of the quick wit and mystery-solving disposition.  But Veronica had a plucky female friend (Mac was the cutest!) and I don't know that I could be an adversary knowing that there was no way I could beat her.

There is a lure in the possibility of being a gun-toting badass on Sons of Anarchy.  If only there wasn't a high likelihood that I would be kidnapped at some point...

I think that I would have to go with... Fringe.

There are obvious reasons for wanting to be a character on Fringe: getting stoned and listening to music with Walter, your job would always be interesting and never really tied to a desk, plenty of travel, maybe getting replaced in someone else's life, pregnancy only takes 9 hours not 9 months, zeppelins.  The drawbacks include impending doom and constant peril, but what is life without a little risk?

But what would my character be like?  What would I do?  Does it not seem odd to anyone else that Walternate has no adversary Over-There?  Yes, Over-Here as an entire universe is his adversary, but is it possible that his control of Over-There is so ironclad?  I think I'll just write myself in as one: scientist, former protegee of the Mad Secretary, after discovering his true nature becomes opposed to his version of events and starts rouge counter-agency to foil his plans.  Kind of like a mirror of the relationship of the ZFT to Over-Here Fringe Division was in S1.  My character would be a bit on the angry side, but resourceful and determined.  Definitely a redhead, Fringe could use that.

This is officially as close to fan-fiction as I will ever come.  Shame.

The TV Girl

Monday, April 11, 2011

As Through a TV-Screen Brightly: Friday Night Lights and My Relationship With Texas

I'm going to say up front: this is about me more than it is about TV.  Much more.

I lived in Irving, Texas (a suburb of Dallas) for 7 years.  I attended an amazing college for my undergraduate degree and my graduate studies. (University of Dallas forever! Go Crusaders!)  Pretty much every day that I lived there I thought about how happy I would be to leave.  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and to say that Dallas was a culture shock would be a huge understatement.  The pretty much year-round heat and humidity left me constantly sunburned and frizzy haired, not to mention depressed.  As a centralized population city girl I was used to walking where I needed to go, so the seemingly ever-growing suburban sprawl that required constant use of a car aggravated me as wasteful and ugly.  My suspicious, ironic and detached heart could never truly believe that the boisterous, opinionated and polite Texans were genuine, I was always waiting for them to expose their "real" side.  For the first few years no one could understand what I was saying because they claimed I talked too fast (and somehow in order to accommodate the drawl-ers and slow my speech I turned into a mumbler, which now aggravates the hyper-angry DC-ers).  In many ways I never acclimated to Texas.

But, all this said, I had a really wonderful life there.  I got an outstanding, and  reasonably priced, education.  I met people who I have loved and who have loved me more than I could have possibly imagined beforehand.  I found that bar that will always be my favorite, no matter where I go.  I was constantly over-reaching, over-extending myself and getting knocked down, requiring me to be constantly growing into a better person.  I cried a lot, but only because there were a lot of challenges that I needed to rise to, and for the most part I at least tried.  My days were as unpredictable as the Texas weather: brightly sunny one moment, storm-ravaged the next.  Though I often screamed in frustration, I equally laughed with joy.

I cannot say these things about my life now, and for the longest time I simply assumed that my previous condition was entirely circumstantial, completely about what my life was without any relation to where it was.  This assumption came crashing down at 1:30 AM this morning, as my desperate insomnia drove me back to a long lost love: Friday Night Lights.

I'm sure it won't be surprising to hear that I fell away from watching Friday Night Lights right around the time I moved away from Texas.  It had nothing to do with the quality of the show or my attachment to it, I was simply in a head-space where I wanted to move on from the life I had in Texas and watching a show set there made me feel like I was hanging on to something that I shouldn't.  But when the fifth and final season was released on DVD last week, and NBC prepares to air it starting this month, I realized that I missed this show.  So thanks to Netflix Watch Instantly (have I mentioned how much I adore this service) I was able yesterday to pick-up right where I left off (which I am embarrassed to say was in the second half of S3).

The Taylors, the Collettes, the Rigginses, the Garritys and the Saracens were all right there waiting for me.  And as the hours passed (with the hope of sleep become more dismal) and as I once again became enthralled with the uncertainty and expectation of the game, the harsh realities of small-town politics, the triumphs and trials of loves both enjoyed and sacrificed, and all the amazing humble beauty of FNL, something inside of my finally cracked and I saw that Texas, as a place, was important, in particular, to me.

Needless to say I cried.

It is hard to hide under all that sky and that kind of exposure creates a very certain type of people, a very distinct culture and tradition.

Friday Night Lights is essentially sincere, but not in a cloying way.  Texas is not a place for cynicism, which is part of why I always felt so out of place there.  You are supposed to say what you mean and mean what you say.  It's considered inappropriate to disregard things that you see as a problem with a glib comment and a shrug of your shoulders.  The presumption that one should live a life of integrity and courage in conviction is why Texans are tough but not hard.  Tami Taylor's tenacious and loving discussion with her daughter Julie about sex struck me as a painful contrast to my own flares of righteous indignation followed by indifferent refusal to try and address a difficult situation.  I used to be tough, now I'm just hard (or maybe more accurately, brittle).

I wondered what woman could honestly say she wouldn't want to marry a man like Eric Taylor, and I realized that there were women who had never even met a man like that.  For Texans being a man isn't about how expensive your car is or how much power your job allows you to wield; being a man is about being responsible, devoted, honest, and respectful.  This isn't to say every guy I met in Texas was a saint, but rather that there is societal understanding that men should be men and not boys: anchored by family and determined in purpose.  I realized I wasn't finding this in DC in part because there was no expectation of it.  Holding doors open is frowned upon, dismissing other people is par for the course because no one can possibly be in as big a hurry as you are, and what you do for a living is the first thing you inform people of after you introduce yourself.  When Joe McCoy not only rejected Coach Taylor's attempts to put aside personal differences and do what was right for Joe's son JD, but went on to maneuver Eric out of job simply for personal revenge, all I could think was "that's a typical DC d**k move."

When Billy convinced Tim that he should go to college because his children and Billy's children needed the familial example that they had the option of choosing better for their lives, it suddenly occurred me that the parents I hear talk about why their child needs to go to this college or that college is so that they can earn a certain amount of money, so that they can make the connections to get the prestigious job, so that the neighbors don't gossip about whose child is more successful. What do I want my children to value, the freedom that comes with an education or the paycheck that comes with a degree?

The DC area is not a cesspool of depravity and vain-glory.  There are plenty of wonderful people, an incomparably interesting and significant history, and those cherry-blossoms really are all they're cracked up to be, I promise.  But it is not a generous place.  It is a sad statement of how far I've come from when I lived in Texas that I needed a TV show to get me to see that.

The TV Girl