Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Winter Premieres

Now that the holidays are officially behind us (and by "officially" I mean that you have finally taken down your Christmas tree and/or Hanukkah bush after a month of watching it slowly die in your peripheral vision from your permanent spot on the couch... honestly, who has the time...) we can finally get back to what's important: the upgraded television season!

Upgraded how, you might ask? Three words. Justified, Spartacus, Smash. See how that worked?

We'll also Touch on some other new shows. See how that worked? ...Bueller? Bueller?

My genius wit not withstanding, let's try to get to business.

Top 3 Returning Shows:

Downton Abbey - This isn't exactly a surprise. Since the second season has already run in the UK, those of us across the pond have already been showered with reactions and reviews of the new season. The general feeling going in was that the second season was something to be excited about and that it followed well in first season's footsteps. For once, our "feelings" didn't steer us wrong. Despite the fact that in it's first season this show somehow made early 20th century Yorkshire the most exciting place on earth (cleaning the estate's fireplace is QUITE the job, let me tell you), second season has decided to add even more excitement, in the form of the first World War. And yet, somehow, even the trials of war cannot compete to the battle fought in and around Downton. I am constantly awed by how this show pushes and pulls my emotional state, most times by the mere lift of a tea cup.

If you haven't tried it yet, get on the ball (yes, even you males)! First season is available for free on Netflix or you can buy the season on iTunes. You can also catch up on Season 2 here.

My favorite recaps are here.

Justified - This show never ceases to amaze. Unlike most shows on television nowadays, it just keeps getting better with age. It's third season is off and running and there's not a bit of slack left in second season's wake. It's a good thing too. With the cop procedural churning right under it's surface, a show like Justified could seriously wander into tedious, murder-of-the-week territory if not handled carefully. Fortunately, it is handled with the utmost care by it's writers, producers and outstanding cast. I admit, I was a little biased going into this show. I'm a bit of a Olyphant fan-girl, but in the end, it was the show's beautiful writing and its flowing, exciting stories and deep, complex characters that held my interest.

Seriously though, this doesn't hurt much:

- At this point, we've only seen the premiere episode of the second season. Let me be honest. I was a little underwhelmed by the first episode. However, I think I'll chalk that up to it being a "set-up" episode for the new season. Spartacus and his loincloth gang of miscreants are about to start their journey south, gathering even more lioncloth'ed miscreants as they go. That should make for one terrifying army, don't you think? I can already see the Romans turning tail from the sight of hundreds of battle-ready ex-slaves in dirty diapers. Hey, I'm not complaining, just pointing out the obvious. Diapers aside, the idea of Spartacus on the move is preferable to the idea of his gang skulking in the sewers under the streets of Capua. Honestly, with how dirty those upper streets are, can you imagine what the underground must be like? *shutter*

As for our "new" Spartacus, he will take some getting used to, I believe. He's much younger than Andy Whitfield, which makes his take on the character seem less experienced and less hard-edged than Whitfield's portrayal. He did a great job in the premiere episode, balancing the tough, unyielding nature of the character with a slightly soft, empathetic tinge. Spartacus would not be the hero we love and want if he did not protect and lead those around him. McIntyre did a good job of showing that aspect of the character, but I couldn't help but miss the greater show of it that Whitfield gave us. It was still a great hour of television and I am sure that McIntyre will eventually grow into the role and make it even more his own as time goes by. Until that time, and contrary to the critique above, there is little to dislike about the show in general. There is not a whole lot that raw, bloody battle scenes and a whorehouse massacre can't cure.

Honorable Mention:

White Collar - I just love this show. To me, it can do no wrong and neither can it's two leads, Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay. They play off each other so beautifully, there is never a boring episode, no matter the plot-line. I could watch these two silently playing a game of chess for an hour and never once look away or feel bored in the least. All the supporting cast are key and perfect as well. Simply put: this show makes for a light, fun television adventure every week. I just wish it aired year-round.

The Lesser:

Californication - I adore the character of Hank Moody (David Duchovny) but after 5 seasons, this show doesn't have much of a story to tell. At this point, the only redeeming quality is Hank himself. It used to be that he was the crudest, most offending character on the screen - and that worked since he was also the most enigmatic and delightful as well. Unfortunately, in recent seasons he has been overshadowed by the ever-increasing offensiveness of his supporting characters. I enjoy a little naughty in my television programming as much as the next sad, single gal but this show, much too often, leaps far over the line of "naughty" and crosses into something much different. This fact is beautifully represented by a scene from Sunday's episode, where Hank and his gang are sitting down for a lovely house dinner and the conversation strays so far into the nude and crude that Hank, of all people and who is practically hiding his face in his hands, is the one to point out the boorish turn in the dinner conversation. Considering Hank as a character, that's saying something.

I will continue to watch the show, since I have been committed for the past 4 years to Hank Moody and all his lovely complexities, but the show has definitely lost it's greater appeal to me.

Alcatraz - Not bad, but not great. I would recommend trying this show if you don't have anything else to watch instead. With a dance ticket as full as mine, I am catching up on this show online when I have the time. My feeling is indifference. The mystery/mythology behind this show may eventually come to something exciting and worthy of some follow-through, but I have yet to be completely hooked by this show. The guest stars, the Alcatraz 1960's flashbacks, along with Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia, are only the highlights. Give it a try if you so desire, but don't go in with high, Lost-like expectations.

Being Human
- Let's concentrate on what's great about this show: the acting, the music and the genre. That about covers it. Unfortunately, acing those three things does not a great show make. Nothing is terrible about this show. The writing's decent and the cinematography is pretty... oftentimes too pretty for the subject matter. Maybe that is one of it's lesser flaws. The lighting, coloring and atmosphere of the show is too perfectly put-together for such a dark and morbid central idea, namely that if you fight every minute of every day to be normal, you just can't be... especially if you happen to be a vampire, werewolf or ghost. No amount of witty banter or comedic situations involving the merging of these three supernatural beings can wipe away this underlying truth: you will never have a normal life and you will always hurt those around you. A great idea to explore, certainly, and that is what makes this show enjoyable to watch and these characters so fun to root for. But such an exploration is messy and chaotic and though the story line often becomes such, I have always felt that the show should look gritter and more raw in order to portray the mind-sets of it's central characters.

Despite it's weaknesses, I do enjoy watching the show and rooting for the characters. Sam Huntington in particular does a great job making his character relatable and his problems, wolfing out once a month aside, connectable even to us "normal" humans. He also often acts as the comic relief, as much as a show like this can have a comic relief, and he is a great counter to Sam Witwer's struggling, brooding vampire.

The Trendy Two:

Recently there has emerged a new network trend, in which the network airs the pilot episode of one of their new series, one with "hit" potential, about a month or so before it actually starts airing. What do I think of this strategy? I think it's a good idea. It's basically the testing phrase, on a national scale and I can't imagine that advertisers wouldn't want a decent piece of that. It allows the viewers to get a look at the show early (and therefore the networks to get early reactions to the show) and if you get to push it off a good platform (like the Superbowl), then why ever not? I decided to partake in this new trend and hopped over to Hulu to check out the below two new shows.

Smash (NBC) - Obviously I cannot speak for the masses, but after watching the first episode, I believe that NBC might have found it's much-needed saving grace. Depending on your preference (or lack thereof) for musicals, I would strongly suggest giving this show a look-see. The cast is stellar: Katharine McPhee is gorgeous and her voice is just lovely, Debra Messing and Angelica Huston are spot-on and I just cannot look away from Jack Davenport. I can already tell that his character, who is a brilliant, very hard-edged and unbending director, is going to be my new favorite, love-to-hate character on television this winter.

Oh, and the music? So far, so wonderful.

If you're interested, and you should be, you can check out the first episode here.

(FOX) - Jack Bauer's... I mean, Kiefer Sutherland's new show left less of an impression on me than Smash did. It wasn't terrible but any stretch of the imagination, but I would not be surprised if it takes awhile to find it's footing, if it does at all. It was an interesting hour and Sutherland shines onscreen as he always does, but I'm not sure the "numbers of the week" format will keep my interest. The father-son relationship is key for this show to survive, but since the son doesn't talk, I'm not sure how much of a connection the viewer is going to be able to make with him. That will depend on the young actor and how he grows into the role and how well he communicates his characters feelings without speech. It is a great deal for a young actor to take on and I'm interested to see how he develops the character.

You can watch the pilot episode here.

That about covers it. I am watching and enjoying The Finder, as well. It's a fun little show that is covering for Bones while it's on hiatus. Geoff Stults is adorable and a pleasure to watch. You can catch up on the episodes here and read a greater account of the new show here, by one of my favorite writers, Maureen Ryan.

Til next time, TV-connoisseurs!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mid-Season - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The fast-paced holiday season is luckily always balanced out by a stall in new television programming. This allows for a nearly audible brain-shift in priorities for television zombies such as myself, wherein we can, for a couple blessed weeks, stop obsessing over how Elena just NEEDS to stop fooling herself and just KISS Damon already... or how it's possible for a show with a cast like Ringer to be so utterly boring... or how down-right A-MAZING Emily VanCamp is at getting Revenge. Instead, we use our otherwise wasted brain-power to concentrate on the important things, ie; stealing holiday goodies from the workplace, mentally forcing ourselves to go the gym to work off said holiday goodies, shopping endless hours for the perfect present for our boss (what, we can't BUY a work promotion?) and making sure our homes are the picture of gaudy (or classy) holiday celebration. And, if you're like me, discover that somehow our DVR is still filled to the brim with recorded shows (damn you holiday specials!).

Despite the onslaught of holiday responsibilities, let's find some time to sit back and discuss the first part of this television season.

Let's start with what DID NOT work for me:

A Gifted Man - I tried, I really, really did try. I adore Patrick Wilson and I have respected Jennifer Ehle ever since I first watched the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, but this show was just too slow and God-awful boring. Despite Wilson's tremendous acting presence and even his semi-interesting character, there was still not enough to keep me hooked. After four or so episodes, I let it go.

Person of Interest - This show had the same problems as A Gifted Man: great cast, tedious plot lines. I just cannot seem to get into procedural dramas. No matter how you spin them, they are just about as moving as a paper clip documentary. Even Jim Caviezel's manly stubble and bad-boy, emotionally damaged lead couldn't keep me interested. Far worse, Michael Emerson was horribly under-used and his "side-kick" character too constricting for his considerable talents. After five or so episodes, I let it go the way of A Gifted Man.

What's NOT WORKING, but I'm still watching anyway:

Ringer - This is simple. My loyalty to Sarah Michelle Gellar and my interest in nearly all the male leads (Kristoffer Polaha, Ioan Gruffudd and Nestor Carbonell) are the only things tying me to this show. There are such things as good soap opera dramas... and this isn't one of them. I hate to say it, mostly because I hate to dig at anything SMG is attached to, but the truth cannot be denied; this show is a mess. I hold to the small hope that perhaps the story will get better and the twists and turns of the incredibly moronic plot lines will start making some sort of sense, but more than likely I hope in vain. I'll keep watching, but if this show fails to improve, any possible second season will have a hard time making it onto my 2012 list (and let's be honest, a second season pick-up is highly unlikely).

Supernatural - See previous post regarding this show. Season 7. *sigh* I will NEVER stop watching this show. I love the characters too much for that. However, even with Sup-shaped beer goggles on I can see the problems with this show, problems that started half-way through Season 6 and followed us into Season 7. Let's hope the writers start showing our boys some respect, cause I've just about had it with all the doom, gloom and hellfire - and not even a hint of sunlight on the road before or in front of our characters' beloved Impala.

Grimm - Grimm is one of fall's two new ventures into fairy tales and unfortunately it's the one that isn't working out very well (see Once Upon a Time below). The lead, though easy on the eyes, is less easy when it comes to the acting part of his job. As the viewer, you can't help but feel like there's nothing really to him. He gives off little to no emotional weight, especially in the high-intensity situations that he often finds himself in. Where a normal person would ogle, scream and dart away to commit themselves to the loony-bin when they see a suspect shift and morph into a feral, fairytale creature, our lead merely stands there looking confused and constipated. One of the few saving graces to this show is our lead's unwilling "side-kick", a reformed werewolf who loves Christmas and plays the cello. Actor Silas Weir Mitchell brings to Grimm all the heavy emotion that our lead fails to deliver - and he's a wonder to watch. I will keep watching if only for him, and for the Buffy connections that got me to watch in the first place.

What I am LOVING:

Revenge - This is such a given, right? If you've been anywhere near a water-cooler lately, you'll have heard of the soapy greatness of this show. To be honest, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this show as much as I have. It creeps up on you and despite your best intentions (you WERE going to watch only Emmy-worthy shows this season, right?), you can't get enough of VanCamp's cold-eyed stare and merciless hunt for revenge. And the fact that the guy from Roswell (Nick Wechsler) plays a lead character in the show doesn't hurt much either. This show is fun, campy and despite what you may think, actually a lighter fare than some of the other shows on television right now.

American Horror Story - The word "insane" barely covers it. This is one of those shows that you cannot even find words to describe, mostly because you have no idea what in the hell is going on. And somehow, it works. You can't hate crazy like this, and you certainly can't ignore crazy like this. This should have been an unmarketable show, a show that normal, non-psycho humans would take one look at and place in the "DO NOT TOUCH - NIGHTMARES" pile at home. As it turns out, my generation (and the one before it and the one after it), love bat-shit crazy shows. Go figure. And you know what? This is the most fun I've had cringing on my bed since watching the first three Freddy Kruger movies back-to-back at the tender age of 13. Bring it on, Ryan Murphy. We can take anything you throw at us - even a dead serial killer in a rubber sex suit.

2 Broke Girls - Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a sitcom-lover. I mostly stick to dramas, they are just more my speed. Every now and then I run across some really great comedies; How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, New Girl, Happy Endings. 2 Broke Girls is one of these hidden gems, like Revenge, that you just didn't see coming. I enjoy this show SO much and thank goodness I watch it alone, in my own home, because I would hate to laugh like this in public. Kat Dennings is my hero and I want to be her so much it hurts. I don't know much about comedy; not the timing or chemistry or any other important aspect that makes it work - but whatever it needs to work, and work well, 2 Broke Girls has it in spades.

Once Upon a Time - I heard bad reviews on this show before I even saw one scene of it. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. And I am so glad I did. This show may not be for everyone. Fairy tales are everywhere right now and it's only logical that people are going to start digging into our modern representations of them. In the end, it's all about the writing. Good writing can take a horrible idea and make it into gold. Bad writing can take a great idea and turn it into poo. That's the simple truth of all writing, whether it's for novels, movies, television, plays, etc. Of course, thousands of other aspects go into the making of, let's say, an episode of television. It doesn't all hinge on good writing, but it will come to nothing without it. I trust these writers. These are LOST writers and producers. Even if they were serving up some crappy procedural (ie: see Person of Interest), I would still give it a try. And I am loving Once Upon a Time. You can tell that the few episodes that have aired have barely scratched the surface of the mythology behind this show. I am already seeing the beginnings of Lost 2.0: Storybrooke Island. And there's nothing wrong with that; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I can't wait to see where the writers will take us with this tale. Every episode is exciting adventure; pretty, emotional poignant and even passingly clever.

Looking Forward:

Justified - The FX promos are blowing me away, and that comes from someone in the television promo business. January 17th can't come soon enough. I am in desperate need of my Timothy Olyphant fix.

Spartacus - This is such a bittersweet return. With the passing of its first season's star, Andy Whitfield, a sad cloud hangs over the show. However, Whitfield's replacement, Liam McIntyre, is a force to be reckoned with in his own right. And he looks eerily similar to Whitfield. I am very much looking forward to the return of the show and I can't wait to see how McIntyre stands up in this role. Plus: blood, sex, tears! Returns January 27th on Starz.

Downton Abbey - And here I thought I was the only one who watched British period mini-series. Apparently I am not the only one who appreciates great writing and even greater acting, British-style. This show's first season received critical acclaim and it's second season is said to be just as good. Watching snotty, uptight British nobility sip tea and recite class prejudices will be a great counter to Spartans bloodying Roman nobility, also over class prejudices. Returns January 8th on PBS.

Alcatraz - I know next to nothing about this show - but the few things I do know, I'm totally on-board with: Alcatraz (ever since The Rock, anything dealing with this prison-island is a good thing, in my opinion), Jorge Garcia (this guy can do no wrong in my book), and creepy, mysterious ghosts (always a good hook). Premieres January 16th on FOX.

Of course, there are so many others I am not mentioning, but still chugging away at; The Walking Dead, Terra Nova, Happy Endings, The Vampire Diaries, Dexter, Castle, Glee, and countless more. But our days are not endless and I do have a job, after all. For the record, I am watching and enjoying all the shows listed above - they just don't hit on my fall highlights list. But that doesn't mean they aren't worth watching.

Here's hoping your holiday is full of candy, cheer and perhaps enough downtime to catch up on your backed-up DVR, because a clean DVR is a happy DVR.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Supernatural Round-Up

We all know (and if you didn't know, now you do and shame on you), that Supernatural was set to end after five seasons. That was Eric Kripke's (the creator) plan. He set up a five-season plot arc for the Winchester brothers, with the fifth season culminating with the final battle against Lucifer. A battle that had five seasons of set-up; five seasons to develop and bring these two wonderfully complex characters to their ultimate destined stopping place, or at least to the most important place of their lives.

But the television industry (coughhollywoodcough) is a twitching, ever-changing machine and even the best laid plans.. yadda yadda yadda. As you probably figured out (and if not, shame on you) that Kripke's five-year plan has been extended. Five seasons has now become seven, with the possibility of more to come.

A year ago, you'd find a cupid shaking your hand in greeting before you would find me doubting the decision to keep Supernatural on the air. However, three episodes into the seventh season, I'm not so sure. And that's hard for a long-time fan like me to admit.

Now, Supernatural has never been the brightest show on television. The cinematography, if fact, is deliberately set to portray the bleakness of these characters lives. It's a horror show - one that is the everyday life of these brothers and hunters. But in past seasons, there has always been an outline of light in an otherwise dark hotel room. That outline could be a talking, stuffed bear or a naked, hugging cupid. It could be a forced walk through TV Land or ancient demons disguised as an old couple in Christmas sweaters. But there was always something, and more often than not each episode would show that outline of light, even if it was as simple a single line of dialogue or a 1-second Dean reaction shot. That is one of the reasons this show is so great. It can take such a depressingly dark story and with one look, give that story (and the audience) hope.

I realize that we are only three episodes into the seventh season, but people, the outlook is bleak. The end of the sixth season was no fluffy cake-walk and I was hoping things would turn around in the seventh season. We were told that the show was getting back to the basics - back to the fundamentals that made it great in the first couple of seasons. That sounded promising, but the monster of the week format only really worked for this show while it could laugh at itself (and on occasion have the characters laugh as well). With the added background mythology, that is what helped make the show work. Without it, it's just another procedural. And like Dean, I HATE procedurals.

What will happen to this show and these characters if the writers can't screw in a light-bulb for us? As Mo Ryan deftly points out, Dean has already suffered from anti-characteristic behavior, behavior that funnily enough, recalls an earlier, less sympathetic version of the character. IF this is what the producers mean by "going back to the basics", then I am NOT on-board.
Of course, the doubting part of me takes up only 50% of my brain. The other half is just happy and grateful to have the opportunity to continue watching two of my all-time favorite television characters, despite the fact that the writers are now slowly leaching away all the light in my life - curiously akin to the what they are doing to their characters' lives.

Here you have a couple write-ups that agree with this line of thinking:

Sandra Gomez at wonders if Dean went too far in last weeks episode. SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not read unless you're caught up with the show.

Mo Ryan over at AOL is one of my favorite writers. She's amazing and wildly perceptive when it comes to the writing on shows. She too is worried about the path the show is going down and better articulates the problems that such a dark outlook can produce for the audience and the for development of the characters themselves.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall TV is Here!

Ok people, the fall TV season has officially begun. Last night saw some of the first premieres of the season, one of which I will be happily (Oh, Damon, how I've missed your evil, tortured charm) returning to, The Vampire Diaries, and the other a new show that has received some good reviews so I'm going to try it on for size (Nikita).

I haven't had a chance to try Nikita yet, but I excitedly took in The Vampire Diaries premiere last night and it did not disappoint. The episode, entitled "The Return", was one of their best hours to date and it gives me hope that the show will offer up even better fare this year than it did last year. Nina Dobrev should get a nice pat on the back for her work playing both the sinister Katherine and the not-quite-pure-as-the-driven-snow Elena. Switching back and forth between the two must have been a pretty challenging job but she pulled it off surprisingly well. You could definitely see how much fun she was having while playing Katherine. As for Paul Wesley, I was expecting the usual from him and his character (you know, the brooding, the TORTURE, etc, etc), but to my surprise I found Stefan to be nearly as exciting to watch as Damon. What with his recent walk on the dark side, it seems Stefan has become a little less one-dimensional, a little less frowny-forehead and a little more "not gonna take any more shit from NO ONE". Also surprisingly, Paul Wesley seemed VERY up to the task of playing Stefan in this new light. Which is to say, not completely blood-crazy evil and not completely broodingly calm and collected, but something in between the two sides of him we've already seen. All in all, everyone did a great job on the episode and I was completely entertained.

Ian is still my favorite though. But, no surprise there. He is EW's Sexiest Beast, after all.

As for the rest of the upcoming season, I have quite the pile of shows. I'll be watching my usual: Life Unexpected, Parenthood, Castle, Chuck, House, Glee, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Bones, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist, Smallville, Supernatural, Human Target and Dexter.

But I also have a couple new shows that I'll be trying out as well: Boardwalk Empire, Hawaii Five-0, Lone Star, The Event, Undercovers, No Ordinary Family and The Walking Dead.

I am particularly excited about The Walking Dead, which will premiere on AMC on Halloween night. Nothing like a zombie comic book for television material. I might have nightmares for the rest of the year, but it'll be totally worth it. Check out the trailer-like promo below and tell me I'm lying:

Throughout the season, I'll pop in here and let you know my thoughts on the new shows. A Yea or Nay on my part could save you a lot of viewing time, let me tell you. Until then, TV-watchers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

American Torchwood? Yes, Please!

If I could kiss all the executives over at Starz, I would...despite the very real possibility of a harassment suit. Not only are they rocking two of my favorite shows on television right now, Spartacus and Party Down, but they have also just finalized a deal with BBC One to air a fourth season of Torchwood. If I didn't have an easily-wrinkled, A-line dress on right now, this would be the moment where I got down on my knees and thanked one of my many gods, Russell T. Davies, for working to get us even more hours of alien insanity with the Torchwood team. We'll get a 10-episode season, which will air in the summer of 2011. Woo and hoo, I say.

Of course, the "team" right now is but a shadow of it's former self, what with the death of three out of the five main characters. With Owen, Toshiko and Ianto (*sob*) dead, there are more than a couple positions to fill for the new series. Like every other Torchwood fan, the first question that came to mind when rumor of this possible Torchwood renewal starting flitting around cyberspace, sans TARDIS, was "Will John Barrowman play Captain Jack?". I'm not ashamed to say, if the answer to that question had been "Nope, he's moving on to sing and dance besides Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway", I would have cursed my gods, then immediately proceeded to a Broadway ticket line. But as we now know, John Barrowman will indeed fill the oh-so-sexy shoes of Captain Jack Harkness once again. Sad for Broadway, wonderful news for Captain Jack fans. Eve Myles will also return as Gwen Cooper. So the two primary roles are safe and filled and we'll hopefully soon hear about the casting of the rest of the team.

Also, if you were worried about how an American version of the show might affect the *ahem* sexuality of Captain Jack, your worrying is for naught. BBC executives promise that Jack will be as he has always been; a lover of males, females and aliens alike. "Capt. Jack's sexuality is certainly not going to change. Whether it's a man, woman or alien, Capt. Jack is a gloriously sexually active being." Amen to that, sista! Seriously though, it would be a complete travesty to change even the smallest aspect of John Barrowman's legendary character, but a change in that particular department would have been unacceptable. One of the best things about Capt. Jack is his uncanny penchant towards flirting with anyone or anything that crosses his path. It is one of the most attractive and unique aspects of that character, not to mention the catalyst for most of the comic relief in the show.

Click on over to my favorite TV blogger, Maureen Ryan, to get more scoop on the pick-up of the show. It's to have an "international" vibe. Hummm, sounds fancy. And you know what else is fancy, Mr. and Mrs. Show Producers, Georgia is fancy. Particularly the Atlanta area. It's very fancy and even better, it's cheap to shoot there. Imagine that? *hinthintnudgenudge*

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ramble, Ramble, Doctor Who, Ramble

I know I have been pretty absent lately. Maybe it's because I just haven't felt like writing. Maybe it's because I've been spending all my free time discovering that falling for Battlestar Galactica was NOT, in fact, the last step into total geekdom, but that instead the BBC cult series called Doctor Who claims that honor.

It's not like there's a absence of things to blog about. There's the recent, polarizing Lost series finale. There's my constant worry over what I'll fill all my free time with now that all my shows are off the air until this fall. Oh, and as I mentioned above, there's my last step into what I will now refer to as Level 1,000,000 Geekdom; my surrender to Doctor Who and consequently my surrender to the lovely, charming and wholly miraculous David Tennant. So, to keep this blog afloat, some bullet points. Because honestly, who doesn't love bullet points?

  • Let's start with Lost and let's be sweet and simple. I loved it. Yes, I'm one of those. Call it denial or whatever you wish but I thought the finale, though not totally flawless, was still a great finale. I didn't watch it and immediately regret spending six years of my life theorizing and discussing the grand and oftentimes headache-causing mythology of show. Even if the finale did end up being less than great to me, I would still look upon the last Lost years as mind-blowing, eye-opening and generally a fun and educating experience. For The End, the writers obviously made the decision to sideline the Island mythology and instead focus on the characters, which, yes, did leave the fans with many Dharma notebooks full of unanswered questions but left us also with an intensely emotionally and spiritual finale. I know many fans feel differently, but that was a satisfying choice for me. Lost changed the face of television. It opened a door for epic series, showing the networks that high-concept shows can and will attract a large and devoted audience, depending on the quality of the writing behind the show.

  • Legend of the Seeker was cancelled. The series finale aired last weekend and I could not be more disappointed with the decision to end the series. For a syndicated show, it was extremely well done. The beautiful location (New Zealand) and the magnificently choreographed fight scenes were only a couple of the great aspects of the show. The main actors were brilliant in their roles and watching Craig Horner slowly become the Richard we know and love from the books was always thrilling. Of all the cancelled shows, this one hit me the hardest. I believe it's a horrible waste of potential, seeing as there were several more books of material to work through.

  • On the other hand, Chuck was renewed!!! This was actually very unexpected and I could not be more happy. Chuck is one of my favorite shows and Zachary Levi is slowing becoming one of my favorite actors to follow and watch. He's been touring around Europe all summer and his pictures and videos from the trip and absolutely priceless. The fact that he is obviously a huge nerd only makes me adore him all the more.

  • Now, to the most important and life-changing news. Doctor Who. Yup. I fight and I fight and I fight against it but there's just no helping it. I'm not just a Level 1 nerd. I am so far past that, it's not even funny. Akin to my slow acceptance of BSG, I finally gave in and watched the first episode of Doctor Who. And then I watched the next one. And the next one. And so on. I love it. I loved Christopher Eccleston as the first Doctor. So much so that when David Tennant took over the role for Season 2, I was not happy. Not at all. Of course, it took all of two episodes to change my mind. He was brilliant and wonderful and he made the character his own in such a way that when I stopped watching, even for a couple hours, I missed him. The character of the Doctor is such a intoxicating idea, as if Russell T. Davies looked into the heart of a regular, everyday woman and saw the one man that would be worth an eternity (literally) of trouble and sacrifice. And then he wrote him out and the Doctor was created. And then he decided to create a different version of that same man, and Captain Jack Harkness was created. I watched Torchwood before I saw even one episode of Doctor Who, so when John Barrowman started his run as Captain Jack in the first season of Doctor Who, it was the first time that I realized I could actually miss a television character. Watching him being introduced for the first time was like a soothing balm to my soul, something I didn't even realized I needed until that moment. There's just no other way to describe it. This is such an amazing show, filled with such unique and layered characters and focused so keenly on our subconscious fears and desires it feels like the writers know you better than you know yourself. Like Battlestar, the alien worlds and impossible technologies, the spaceships and the time-travel, are not what the show focuses on and they are not the aspects that keep you watching. This is a show about being human, from the point of view of an ageless alien. And it's REALLY good. I dare you to try it and not love it.

  • On a similar note and due to my adoration of David Tennant, I have been working my way through the BBC TV adaptation of Hamlet. Working my through, because it's a 3 hour modern production so it's taking me awhile to get through it. Nevertheless, it's breathtaking and groundbreaking. David Tennant is mesmerizing in his turn as Hamlet and I've never enjoyed watching this tragedy as much as I am now, with Tennant starring. I've always been a big Shakespeare fan, but this version certainly takes that fandom to new levels. I'm now of the opinion that David Tennant should play in EVERY Shakespeare play. In fact, he should just play every character in every play. No joking.

Well, all this David Tennant talk is making me miss watching Doctor Who, and seeing as I still have half of the fourth season to go through, I think I'll get back to it. The lord of daydreams is calling my name...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jane Slayre. Really?

One day last year, most likely as I whiled away some slow hours at my desk by doing what I do best; surfing the vast labyrinth of online entertainment news, I came across a review or news item or something of that sort about a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, at this point in time I had recently fallen in love with the Jane Austen classic, thanks in large part to Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kiera Knightley. I enjoyed the adapted BBC miniseries just as much as the recent adaption by the brilliant Joe Wright and as I spent the majority of my life 100% sure I would not enjoy a story that seemed, by mere cover-judging, horrendously boring, I was shocked to discover that the story was in fact a not-so-hidden (just from me, as it turned out) treasure of beautifully written characters, not to mention the surprising intensity of such outwardly boring scenes like a group of prissy nobles sitting and talking in a room together. Who knew you'd be on the edge of your seat with something like that, eh? Not I , that's for sure.

Anyhow, even though I had found the movie versions of the classic novel to be both stimulating and highly satisfying, I had yet to crack open the actual book, despite my undying love and devotion to all things musty, old, and book-like (to this day, I walk into a bookstore and am immediately soothed in both body and soul). So when I ran across the news that a well-received spoof of the original had been published, I decided to first finally read the original and then try out the Seth Grahame-Smith, zombie-infused version (which seemed far too possibly, ridiculously hilarious to pass-up). I read the original, both bored at times (as I originally suspected) and interested also, especially when scenes came along that weren't in either movie version, but which included all the best aspects of the Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy relationship. Finally, I finished (yay for me) and after stopping by three different bookstores who were sold out of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I found a copy and started on the bloody-good, rip-off version. It was slow work, I admit, since even though the zombies spiced up the story a bit, I felt like I was merely re-reading a story I had just read. My reading was slowed even further, stopped in fact, when some unpleasant vandals broke into my car one night and stole my bag, which contained my one copy of the book and also my lovely Phantom of the Opera bookmark that a friend of mine (Mrs. Kiwi herself) had given to me as a gift. Blasted hoodlums! My quest for sophisticated and classic, literary self-schooling (my reading tends toward the less sophisticated and more towards knights and dungeons and dragons) had been foiled and I have yet to find the will (or let's face it, the overwhelming desire) to buy another copy.

Since that first novel by Grahame-Smith, which combined classic literature with eyebrow-raising and giggle-inducing horror, there have been several other books written in the same style. Ben H. Winters changed Sense and Sensibility to include "...and Sea Monsters" and Grahame-Smith wrote another historical adaption in the form of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. The movie rights for P&P&Z were sold and the film is now attached to Natalie Portman and now Steve Hockensmith will soon release a prequel to P&P&Z called Dawn of the Dreadfuls (see video below).

This all seems like a very long and round-about way to discuss both this new trend of classic literary spoofs and also the news of yet another Supernatural-ifed classic novel; Jane Slayre. I know, right? Is it just me or is this getting a bit ridiculous? Don't get me wrong. I love the reinvention of history as much as the next Buffy fan. One of my favorite short stories involves a slayer, her watcher, General Sherman and the re-writing of his historic burning from Atlanta to Savannah to include the motivation provided by the dangers of vampire nests too near to a recent battlefield. Needless to say, re-writing history is more often than naught a very fun and interesting exercise... but this is getting to be a bit much, don't ya think? You can only do something so many times before it gets old. And I'm starting to feel old, people.

What about you? Do you think I'm being too harsh or are you sitting beside me in my camp, enjoying the fire of literary indignity? Has anyone else attempted to read one of these re-tellings, or have you too been foiled by easily-broken, car-window glass and an unlucky parking space?


The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.