Friday, August 30, 2013

Fall Television Part 1: Nerdtastic Sci-Fi

        Now that summer is finally at a close, we can look forward to moderately cooler months with much cooler television programs.  Instead of listing every single new show I'm excited about, I thought I'd highlight a few of the most intriguing.  For today, I will focus on shows with a fantasy/sci-fi element.


       Jonathan Rhys Meyers is back as a Victorian era Dracula in NBC's new show conveniently named Dracula.  Premiering October 25, the spin on a classic character, especially in the hands of the charisma-overloaded Meyers has promise.  Check out the trailer here.

Almost Human

      I am absolutely ready to geek out over J.J. Abrams's next big show Almost Human.  Following a "broken/special" cop played by Karl Urban (Bones in Star Trek) and the almost human robot played by Michael Ealy, Almost Human comes from a long line of great shows from Bad Robot.  This looks like the perfect choice for fans of Fringe. Watch the show November 4th, but first check out the trailer here. 

Sleepy Hollow

      Ichabod Crane finds himself plucked from his time and placed in a modern Sleepy Hollow, burdened with the same supernatural problems.  Fox's Sleepy Hollow looks rather great and has received a fair amount of buzz.  Check it out on September 16th.  Watch the trailer here.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

      Once Upon a Time lost a lot of its magic in the second season, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in its Wonderland spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I hope it captures the whimsy and romance it alludes to. Watch the trailer here.

Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D.

      Okay, I have to say I will be at least checking out Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  It's a given I shouldn't really have to explain.  Watch the trailer here.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Broadchurch Buzz


        Broadchurch, a tense British show featuring many players including David Tennant and Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who fame, amassed a great deal of critical and commercial success across the pond.  Following a murder mystery and the small community affected by it, the show will be premiering on BBC America this August.  Check out a trailer for the series (already greenlit for a second season) here.  I know I am very intrigued to see what all the overseas buzz about Broadchurch is about.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Mixed Man of Steel

Man of Steel
           I went into Man of Steel yesterday with relatively high expectations.  While Superman isn't my favorite of the super hero legends (with his lack of complex, human weaknesses), the trailers built Man of Steel up as a human story worth seeing.  So the question is, was it?
          I'd say Man of Steel is worth seeing, but is not without flaws.  All of Clark Kent's human moments (growing up, facing his powers...) are told in glimpses and flashback.  These moments are the best part of his story and we are only given tastes of them.  Though I wanted more, I was at least able to enjoy what the film gave, especially the scene when young Clark is overwhelmed by his power, saying "The world is too big." Diane Lane as his mother tells him, "Then make it small."  The power of the film is in these human moments.
          A huge portion of the film focuses on Krypton, which is an interesting spin, especially as General Zod is a formidable foe for Superman.  Scenes with Lois Lane are a bit too rushed, as are scenes with both Clark's biological and adoptive fathers.  Instead, huge portions of the film are dedicated to destructive battle scenes.  I'm all for some action, but there must be plot and character development to accompany it.  (See Star Trek Into Darkness) Instead, sometimes Man of Steel just gives us more destruction.  Spoiler Warning: While the movie controversially allows Superman to kill a foe, in truth Superman probably accidentally hurts and destroys huge chunks of a city during his extended battle with Zod.
          The end of the film offers a glimpse into what the next film may look like, paying homage to his roots.  Even though I didn't absolutely love the film, I liked Henry Cavill as Superman, loved some of Hans Zimmer's music, and appreciated the almost poetic portions of Kent's backstory.  I would certainly see a sequel.  I would also see this, just because:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: A Fresh Approach to Entertainment

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

           I'd heard of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries before, but finally pressed play on more than just the first episode (bare in mind episodes are 3-7 minutes each and posted on Youtube). Believe me, the series gets better and better. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries follows Lizzie Bennet, a mass communications grad student living at home with her marriage-crazed mother, stoic father, crazed sister Lydia, and sweet sister Jane.  Lizzie chronicles her adventures and misadventures in  her vlog.  As a huge Pride and Prejudice fan, I was impressed with the fresh modernization of the story. No unforgivable changes were made, and in fact, some made for happier endings for certain characters and more realistic problems in the 2010's.  While the formidable Darcy doesn't make an actual appearance until episode 59 (out of 100), he is a strong presence in Lizzie's life.  The emphasis on friendship and sister relationships certainly honors a focus of Jane Austen's.  All in all the series was just plain addictive. Start watching here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Orphan Black: Constantly Upping the Game

Orphan Black

               I don't want to spoil Orphan Black if you haven't seen it.  The fun of the new sci-fi/crime/British/American show is in not knowing and in constantly being surprised and invested.  When I first saw BBC America role out its mysterious ad campaign for the show, I wasn't sure what to think of it.  Trust me, it is better that way. Minus the fact that it (rather unnecessarily) adds gratuitous scenes that make it mature audience only, Orphan Black is entertainment at its finest.  Twisting genres and expectations, it zigs and zags as it pleases and keeps the audience coming back for more.  By the second episode, I was hooked.  Though the season isn't done yet, it has already been renewed for a second season by BBC America.  Huge props go to Tatiana Maslany, who plays'll see.  Watch, guess, and geek over Orphan Black.  After all, just who is Orphan Black?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Parenthood Renewed!


        NBC renewed the brilliant, heartbreaking, poignant, award-deserving Parenthood for a 22 episode season.  Yay NBC!  This past season was, for the most part, brilliant even though it was shortened.  Now we get a full season of Bravermen fun.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thor: The Dark World Trailer Drops

Thor: The Dark World

         Thor was a surprise to many people when it came out a few summers back.  Somehow, it managed to be incredibly entertaining and sincere, avoiding cheese. (Impressive, when you consider there was literally a rainbow bridge).  After Loki, Thor's ultimate villain/brother/anti-hero took on the Avengers, the demand for the sequel intensified.  We all threw down the dvd and demanded another.  We got our request, as Thor: The Dark World is due this fall.  The trailer just debuted today and heavily features Thor dealing with a darkness older than creation.  He reunites with Natalie Portman's Jane, but is ultimately made so desperate he turns to Loki for help.  For all the Loki fans, this should be good.  Loki's chance for redemption is what makes him such a great villain.  Check out the great first trailer here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fringe: A Fantastic Binge


        When J.J. Abrams's Fringe debuted in 2008, I didn't give it a fair chance.  It wasn't Fringe's fault, I was just new to college and didn't make the time to watch the sci-fi gem.  Shame on me.  For a few years now, I've wanted to return to the show about fringe science that questions the boundaries of technology, science, and human imagination.  Thanks to Netflix, who recently gained the rights to stream the show, I have begun what is sure to be a fantastic viewing experience.  I'm about 9 episodes into the first season of the show, which follows F.B.I. agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) as she is recruited into a much larger and fantastic world.  Agent Dunham is joined by Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a genius scientists whose practices caused him to be institutionalized.  Rounding out the group of misfits is Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), Walter's son and Astrid (Jasika Nicole), a fellow agent.  The team investigates everything from kidnapped prodigies to plane crashes to people with unique powers.  The show is part crime show, part mythological arcs, with a huge helping of science fiction and conspiracy thrown into the mix.  The blend is brilliant, reminding me of Lost and Alias in the best possible way.
          Fringe deserves the title of a cult-hit.  As much I should have been watching Fringe from its initial creation, I love zipping through episodes and seeing the interconnected stories clearly.  It is a glorious binge so far.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Great Gatsby and the Great Ad Campaign

The Great Gatsby

            If you've turned on your television in the past few days or been to a movie, you've surely seen the bombardment of advertisements for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.  Honestly, I don't mind it.  The ads may not be quite as profound or moving as I Dreamed a Dream playing out over landscapes and revolution tragedy a la Les Mis, but every time a promo comes on, I find myself unable to change the channel.  The soundtrack, produced by Jay Z and featuring music from Florence and the Machine, Jack White, and the like, adds to the pull of the adaption of the beloved novel.  Gatsby is proving to be one of my most anticipated films of the summer.  Here's hoping the promos live up to the fun and drama they promise this May.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rupert Grint goes Into the White

Rupert Grint Into the White

         Rupert Grint (of Ron Weasley fame), along with David Kross (War Horse, The Reader) wage a personal war when both German and British soldiers are trapped in the bitter and cold wild during WWII in Into the WhiteThe questions rage.  Who is the real prisoner of whom?  Who is the enemy?  Can they survive alone or together?  The conflict, which is based on a real story creates quite a unique situation.  I am very excited to see this film either when/if it hits U.S. theaters or when it appears on blu-ray.  It is already available on Amazon on Demand for around ten dollars.  Watch the trailer for Into the White here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Call the Midwife: Surprisingly Wonderful

Call the Midwife

              While I can be drawn into the clipped heels and vowels of a good British program as much as the next anglophile, I didn't immediately seek out the British import Call the Midwife.  I'm not sorry for it either, considering I got to marathon through the short first season and jump straight into the second, which airs on Sundays at 8:00 on your local PBS station.  Based on the memoir of Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in 1950's East London, Call the Midwife is shockingly great.  Considering how close the 50's are to present day, it is quite a shock to see the conditions of life and labor.  With weekly cases and drama, the show sucks you into the lives of the hard working nuns and young midwives as well as the everyday people who keep them so busy.  The music and atmosphere of the show takes you back to a foreign time that wasn't so long ago. More than anything, the show has a big bleeding heart that causes your heart to bleed right along with it. Check out the first season of Call the Midwife on instant Netflix.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten

Doctor Who and The Rings of Akhaten

          In last nights episode of Doctor Who, titled The Rings of Akhaten, The Doctor once again encountered themes of religion, science, and love.  This time, The Doctor and his new and very mysterious companion Clara (she's died twice already, but doesn't seem to remember/be the same person) find themselves on a planet that worships and sings to a god (actually an alien) to keep it asleep.  The real meat of the episode came with Clara's backstory, where we found out the importance of a leaf (it set up the meet-cute between Clara's parents) and that Clara's mother died, but not before promising she would always find Clara.  There is significance in learning Clara had a normal upbringing, considering the mystery surrounding her.  I could feel the theorists heads churning throughout the episode.

         Here is why I love even the less exciting episodes of Doctor Who-the show always gives you something deeper to chew on and encourages you to not only think and question with your mind, but also your heart.  Whatever your believes, Doctor Who forces hard thoughts.  For example, yesterday's episode questions the origin the universe and the commitment of faith.  While I can disagree with some of the theology and theories of the show, I appreciate that it isn't afraid to go into the deep and dangerous depths. That's just it though.  The Doctor's companions always question him, so of course the viewers (who are a sort of companion on The Doctor's adventures) should question him and the show.  I'm grateful Doctor Who respects the intelligence and depth of its fans.  Keep it up Doctor Who, we'll follow along, just be prepared for questions.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Impossible: Possibly the Best Film I've Seen in a LONG Time

The Impossible Naomi Watts and Tom Holland

             See The Impossible.  See it now.  It is the kind of moving, transformative story that most films wish they were.  The fact that this film didn't sweep the Oscars makes me all the more removed from them.  Naomi Watts stars as Maria, the matriarch of a family of three young boys and wife to Ewan McGregor's Henry.  The family takes a vacation to Thailand, all the while fretting over life at home.  Two days into their vacation, their world is crushed as the tsunamis strike.  With staggering realness, the film follows Maria and her older son Lucas (Tom Holland) as they fight through the flood and debri.  Maria is extremely wounded and must rely on her young son to take care of her.  Lucas (Tom Holland) goes from boy to man as he literally carries is mother up a tree, drags her to a hospital, and tends to the wounded and lost.  Don't get me wrong, Watts deserved an Oscar for her performance as Maria, but man did Holland carry the film.  His perspective and growth is what holds the audience in a suspension of hope. His relationship with his mother is the force of the film. The fact that he didn't even get a Best Actor or even Best Supporting Actor nod is ridiculous.

           While I won't spoil the film entirely, I will say it is based on a true story and is both tragic and beautiful.  Every part of the film reveals the ugliness and beauty of the humanity with such potency as the family fights to find each other once again. I was beyond affected by The Impossible, whose name in part comes from a line in the film about the wonderful and impossible mystery of knowing which of the shining stars are dead and which are still living.  Their lights all still burn.  In this film of disaster and survival, there couldn't be a better metaphor.  Watch the movie, listen to the fantastic soundtrack, and witness The Impossible.

Doctor Who: Monks and Motorbikes are Cool

Doctor Who The Bells of Saint John

           Doctor Who fans rejoice.  The Doctor is back, and we have yet another strange thing to be afraid of.  This time, The Doctor battles malicious wi-fi which sucks you into an eternal cloud if you click on it.  Along the way he meets Clara, a modern nanny who wants to travel the world but stays where she is out of love for the family, who lost their mom.  Clara isn't as she seems, as Whovians know.  The Doctor has already met different versions of her, and in both stories Clara dies.  Well, not this time.  Using wit and a smidge of computer hacking skills, the Doctor saves himself a new companion and sets up the second half of the season as a great way to introduce the mystery of who Clara is.  It's refreshing to have a mysterious character other than The Doctor.  Jenna Louise Coleman is more than equipped to play the next companion. I only hope that Matt Smith stays on for a while longer.  Rumors are swirling about a departure next year.  For now though, Whovians rejoice, for monks, bowties, Jenna Louise Coleman and Matt Smith are all cool. Geronimo season 7! Get ready for the next chapter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Television Marathons: Burn Less Calories, More Brain Cells

Deep in Phase 4 of Television Marathoning

         Watching television shows is no longer a sprint followed by weeks of waiting.  Now days, thanks in huge part to Netflix and Hulu instant streaming along with the occasional box set, we can blissfully marathon through seasons of television in days.  Is it healthy?  Maybe not.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!  Yes, I will warn you there are side effects.  People tend to speak in slightly affected accents and expect footmen after barrelling through three seasons of Downton Abbey.  If you start watching Community you'll find yourself inserting "Troy and Abed in the morning" into inappropriate situations.  Catch vampire fever and cram three seasons of Vampire Diaries then try not to sound you're thirteen when you tell everyone, "No seriously, it's not cheesy.  It's one of the best shows of television."  Speed through Scandal and your sudden overconfidence will cause you to start giving Olivia Pope style speeches about how equipped you are to handle any and everything.  Sure, you'll sound insane when you start ranting to all your friends about the smoke monster, but you'll be blissfully unaware because you'll be deep in Phase 4 obsession of your show.

         That brings me to The Phases of Television Gorging:

Phase 1: Watch episode one of a series with many, many episodes.  The pilot intrigues/amazes/or at least peaks your interest.

Phase 2:  You "accidentally" watch six episodes in a row, only stopping when absolutely necessary.

Phase 3:  You confuse real life with the show.  This means when characters inevitably die/betray each are unreasonably devastated.  Ugly crying and anger soon follow.

Phase 4:  You're beyond saving, so deeply invested in the series your priorities have shifted.  Sleep is overrated, you have to find out what happens to Amy and The Doctor as they battle the Weeping Angels.  You cannot sleep when Sydney Bristow may have finally destroyed SD6.  They need you.

Phase 5:  The show ends.  You cannot move on.  Your life is confusing to you.  The show either completed, was canceled, or there are no new episodes except for on actual television.  Nothing is as it was.  (If said show is Sherlock, you curse the calender and wait, wait, wait.)

Phase 6:  You find a new show to consume in giant bites.  Rinse and repeat, let the phases start again.  Sunlight and real life are overrated anyhow.

           Don't be ashamed.  While we all must live in the real world and venture into the outside world, for those random stay-cations or lazy weekends, give in to the call.  Press play on episode 1.  If you don't like it, just pick another show!

         Looking for a show to marathon through? I'm considering The West Wing for myself, so that I'll start speaking unnaturally fast.  A quick list of shows I'd recommend include:


1.  Lost -It remains one of the most profoundly moving shows on television.  It valued characters even more than its elaborate plot and inspired a new wave of television.

2.  Doctor Who-I am all about spreading this wonderful gem from the U.K. about a clever, silly, and sometimes tragic time traveling alien who saves the earth and shows us what it means to be human.  Don't start at episode 1.  Watch Blink first, then jump in at Season 5 (Trust Me, Doctor Who regenerates and reinvents, it is a good place to start).  When you get hooked, you'll go back and watch Seasons 1-4 of the reboot, and maybe even the old school episodes (Doctor Who turns 50 this year).


3.  Alias-Created by the mastermind of Lost, Alias follows the very lovable, but fierce Syndey Bristow (Jennifer Gardner) as she takes down the organization she thought was the CIA by playing a double agent.  Part spy thriller, part story of friendship and love, Alias is well worth a marathon.  The pilot is genius.  One of the best pilots, period.


4.  Scandal-Just watch it.  The hype is not a joke.


5.  Sherlock- This British show stars Benedict Cumberbatch (the new villain in Star Trek Into Darkness) as Sherlock and Martin Freeman (Bilbo) as John in a modern spin on Sherlock Holmes.  Beyond smart, this show is easy to watch, considering as there are only 6 episodes.  Each one is like a film.  Watch it and then wait in earnest for season 3.

Friday Night Lights

6.  Friday Night Lights- I need to marathon through this one.  I've seen many of the episodes, but never managed to see them all in order.  You don't have to love football to obsess over this very heartfelt show.

The Vampire Diaries

7.  Vampire Diaries- Surprise yourself by how good this show is.  I dare you.


8.  Community- Last summer, I watched all the episodes available and LOVED IT ALL.  A comedy with the chops to have video game , D&D, paintball, and even cartoon themed episode is worth a view.  Without being cloying, it makes you laugh and cry.

Downton Abbey

9.  Downton Abbey- In marathon form, you will become beyond obsessed with the sometimes trivial, but weirdly entertaining world of the wealthy Brits.  If you've already seen the episodes and are going through withdraw, watch Call the Midwife.  I recently watched the 6 episode first season in a few days.

Once Upon a Time

10.  Once Upon a Time- While the second season has been mixed, the first season of the show is very addictive when watched in a few days.

Game of Thrones

11. Game of Thrones- Way better to watch in marathon.

The Pillars of the Earth

12.  The Pillars of the Earth and World at End- Both ten part miniseries which will suck you into royal and church intrigue before you can help yourself.


13. Firefly- Just watch it.  One season of awesomeness.  No excuse.  Do it.  I ended up watching the show in a day and the movie the next.

The IT Crowd

14. The IT Crowd- British comedy at its best.  I can still re-watch this show many times over and love it.

          There's so many more out there.  Everything from Veronica Mars to Cougar Town.  Happy watching!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Anna Karenina: Fluffy Pastry Pagentry

Anna Karenina

          You know when you are describing something, and you're not sure you want to call it strictly bad or good, and so instead you select the slightly prickly "interesting" as the best word to convey how you feel about said something.? Well today, after watching Joe Wright's adaption of Anna Karenina, I choose "interesting" as the way to describe it.  In this Anna Karenina, Keira Knightly, playing a paranoid, much less sympathetic version of her character in The Duchess, is in a loveless (on her part) marriage and seeks the excitement and attention of an affair with a young military man.  The problem of course, is that the affair ruins lives and hurts people, not that Anna really notices.  She comes across rather horribly.

       Depicted in a movie within a theater for large portions, Anna Karenina comes across as all glossy gimmicks and glittery pageantry with few moments of clarity and character and relationship development. As a viewer, you are given very shallow portraits of scenes.  Sure I could see that Anna's life was like a stage and the idea of her always being watched was a metaphor, but all in all the gimmick detracted and distracted from the human side of the story.

          The true redeeming portion of the film follows a young land owner (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers the true meaning and nature of  love.  Many of his scenes are free in nature and much more soulful.  Joe Wright, who once directed Pride and Prejudice, is capable of so much beauty and soul.  Why then, did he create something with about as much depth as a fluffed pastry?  Instead of beauty and soul we got pretty and  showy.

          I wouldn't say I disliked the film altogether.  Instead, I enjoyed it the way one might enjoy a small pastry.  It was pretty and partly good (all due to Domhnall Gleeson, who you may know as Bill from Harry Potter), but it just didn't fill me up.  I did enjoy the bit of Matthew Macfadyen playing Anna's brother, if only because it was such a departure from his role as Mr. Darcy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness is "Better...Than Everything"

Star Trek Into Darkness 

               An international trailer for the highly anticipated Star Trek Into Darkness is out.  Watch it here to make guesses about which baddie Benedict Cumberbatch is playing and witness the destruction he unleashes on a future earth.  According to the trailer, it seems that Cumberbatch's character is a top agent who feels wronged by Star Fleet commanders.  Either way, he seems rather high on the bad guy scale as he says, "I will walk over your cold corpses," and "I am everything."  (Is there any creepier alliteration than "cold corpses," said in an intense British accent?)

            Perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch's character will make Star Trek Into Darkness everything.  I am more excited for this movie than any other this year, that much is certainly true.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Mindy Project Project

The Mindy Project

             The Mindy Project had a bit of a rough start.  In the beginning, it couldn't quite figure out what it was, shifting between work comedy, romantic comedy, and something in-between.  Comedies take time to really develop their characters and brand of humor, but man has Mindy Kaling's The Mindy Project become amazing.  It's now consistently funny, with goofy and endearing stories and characters.  Luckily, it's managed to stick around despite non-gargantuan ratings.  If you haven't watched The Mindy Project or given the comedy a second chance, it's your assignment.  Get it done stat. You'll regret it if you come in too late to this hilarious hodgepodge of a show.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Review

Oz the Great and Powerful

            In the flood of fantasy-adventure films, Oz the Great and Powerful stands out with its flawed title character, endearing sidekicks, and plotting witches.  With respect and love for The Wizard of Oz, the film moves quickly, keeping the characters and plot tight and engrossing.  In short, the movie never dragged or dulled.  Visually stunning, Oz the Great and Powerful, unlike the poor Tin Man,  possesses a heart, which is more than most films of its nature can boast of.

          To his credit, James Franco does a fine job as the con-man from Kansas with a wicked smile and a heart deeper than it appears. You root for his character to mature and learn.  I don't wish to spoil the fun with the witches, though I will say that Michelle Williams carries her role with flair.  As a side, Zach Braff 's monkey was fantastic.  He should churn out animation characters all the time.

          All and all, I'd say hop on the tornado and take a trip to Oz the Great and Powerful.  If you're anything like the kid who sat a row in front of me, you'll have quite a ride.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Divergent Casts Four

              Divergent, the movie adaption of Veronica Roth's young adult series, has found its Four.  Four, the soulful main character opposite of Tris (Shailene Woodley), will be played by Theo James.  James currently stars in CBS's Golden Boy and is probably most remembered for playing a young man with an untimely end in Downton Abbey.  Like The Hunger Games, Divergent has cast many notable actors including Kate Winslet. In a world full of "just like Hunger Games", Divergent stands out as a unique story on its own.  Tobias "Four" is a fan favorite in the series.  While I was surprised by the casting, I cannot really pass any judgement  Here's hoping he does the role justice.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Veronica Mars and the Maybe Movie in the Making

Veronica Mars and the Maybe Movie

          Though never a huge hit, Veronica Mars now boasts cult following which includes its creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell.  Veronica Mars was a show that ran for three years and featured a teen sleuth with sass and spunk to spare.  Since it ended abruptly in 2007, there have been many rumblings about the possibility of a movie.  Most of those rumblings ended sadly, with no movie in sight.  That may change now, thanks to Kickstarter, a way that Rob Thomas and crew are raising money for the film.  Veronica Mars must receive at least 2 million dollars in the next month to get the green light.  If this idea is successful, not only will we get a great movie (if you've seen the show, you know it'll be great), but we also may gain a revolutionary new way to influence entertainment.  Somewhere out there, a Firefly fan is already plotting, I promise you that.
         To donate, check out this sight here.  Already the donation amount is up to over one million dollars, which is a huge boost from earlier in the day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Vampire Diaries Burns

Elena about to burn.

          After a conversation with another Vampire Diaries loving fan (sister shout-out), I had to finally post a quick reaction to the shake-up in the past few episodes.  Spoiler alert to those not yet caught up.  Jeremy really is dead and Elena, the heart, soul, and compassion of the show burned down her life, her memories, and even her house.  It was painful on many levels.  Elena has lost everyone close to her: Father, Mother, Real Father, Brother, Aunt, and even Alaric.  She and Meredith Grey could exchange horror stories, truly. Still, for her to burn down the center of all of her human moments, it was painful.

         Here is my concern. Elena burned her past and turned off her humanity.  If the heart of the show loses her heart, what happens to the show?  I appreciate the depths Vampire Diaries takes its characters and its ability to spin good and bad characters.  Still, what happens to the heartbeat of the show?  Perhaps Caroline will step it up even more than she already has, though personally, I'd prefer Caroline spend more time with Klaus.  Maybe Matt, the tenderhearted human will fill the void.  All I know is that Vampire Diaries better get on track.  I liked vampire Elena, but Elena without humanity, that's another story.  She may as well be Katherine.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inspector Spacetime

Troy and Abed at the Spacetime Convention

            The return of the beloved (though in danger) Community hasn't been perfect, but last week's Inspector Spacetime changed all that.  Community is all about spinning and referencing geek pop-culture.  Early on, its characters discussed their love of Inspector Spacetime, a celebration/parody of the 50 year old Doctor Who, a British show about a time traveling alien with a perchance for saving humanity.  In the most recent episode, the characters travel to a Inspector Spacetime convention.  The episode plays with the cult-following while highlighting the reason for the relationships of many of the main characters.
           Give Community a chance, especially now that it's in danger of cancellation.  At its worst it is still better and more endearing than most comedies.  At least let Insecptor Spacetime

Sunday, February 24, 2013

World Without End

World Without End's Cruel Beginning

         Netflix can easily snatch hours of your life with the mere suggestion of a show.  Last week, I gave the mini-series World Without End, based on Ken Follett's sequel to The Pillars of the Earth a chance.  Eight hours of my life later, I still agree it was time well-spent.  The series follows the city of Kingsbridge right before and during the outbreak of The Black Plague.  The kingdom is in turmoil as the old king is murdered by his wife, causing a mysterious knight to appear in Kingsbridge and claim sanctuary in the monastery    This knight brings with him the wrath of the queen, causing great trouble for the already struggling town.  Kingsbridge is heavily burdened with corrupt church and city leaders bent on their own power instead of the good of the people.
                With a sort of Game of Thrones lite-flair,the series is engrossing.  Yes, it has caricatures of villains, especially Cynthia Nixon's evil shrew of a woman, but World Without End also has a very unique, morally questioning king in Blake Ritson's Edward III.  Its main characters Merthin (Tom Westin-Jones of Copper) and Caris (Charlotte Riley of Wuthering Heights) have enough spark to carry the drama through, even in some of the more frustrating plot lines.  What I most appreciated in the story is its ability to make me both watch in horror at the capacity for corruption and recognize that corruption still exists in the confines of modern society.  For moral questions, political and historical intrigue, and human drama, check out World Without End.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Game of Thrones: Season 2 is Released

Daenerys in Game of Thrones

                  Game of Thrones season one was not a flawless story.  It was equal parts epic, complex, dire, and even at times disgusting.  The gritty realism of George R.R. Martin's blockbuster series makes the fantasy epic unique, but it also highlights the depravity humans are capable of sinking into without censor.  In short, it is for an adult audience only.

               Season 2 debuted last year, but if you are like me and don't have HBO, Game of Thrones Season 2 released today.  I am interested to see a new chapter for the broad spectrum of characters including Daenerys, Rob Stark, Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Arya as they all, in their own way, battle for power, even if the power is simply a power over themselves.  Check out a trailer for the season here.  For those already caught up with the first two seasons, season 3 debuts on HBO in March.

Downton Abbey: A Response to the Season Finale

Downton Season 3 Finale

                 I suppose I should warn you not to read this if you haven't seen the season three finale of Downton Abbey, though like most of us, you were probably already aware of the spoiler that sent Downton Fans down another death-filled tear fest.

              The episode is cruelly lighthearted until the bitter, stab you in the heart end.  A fair is in town for all the servants who did not accompany the Crawleys on a Scottish adventure to visit Rose, Lady Susan, and Cousin Shrimpie (Yes, that is his name, and yes, it is quite amusing to watch so many proper characters say it so solemnly, as though it isn't as ridiculous as it is).  Minor and major developments occur, with Thomas taking a thrashing to protect Jimmie, leading to their friendship.  Branson, the only family representative left behind, is caught up in an awkward opportunist's guilty trap, managing to escape the greedy hands of the new servant Edna.  Ms. Patmore and Isobel are both tangled, rather needlessly, in one-episode and it's done "romances."  All in all, besides the continued evolution of Branson into a confident and capable man and the redemptive friendship of Jimmie and Thomas, not much of consequence occurs back at Downton, barring this:

Carson and Baby Sybil

          Seeing Carson pluck up baby Sybil causes one of the three best "AWE" moment.  What then, are the other two?  Back in Scotland, Cora and Robert's relationship is secure, Rose gives her feuding parents quite a ride, Edith fights feelings for her (complicated order) editor, and Mary tries to dance a jig while eight months pregnant.  The second "AWE" moment came courtesy of Bates and Mary discussing how truly remarkable Anna.  It was sweet payoff for their long way to happiness relationship.

Bates's proud love of Anna
            The episode constantly reminds us of Matthew's view of Mary.  He sees the best version of her, whereas others bring out her worst.  It is a cruel reminder of what life will be for Mary if she doesn't have Matthew.  Can she always be Matthew's girl?  It is a good question, considering what follows.  Mary manages a successful birth of the new Downton heir (with a shocking amount of hair, go figure), causing Matthew to want to do his own jig.  Seeing the family so happy and whole is sweet, but boy is it bitter.  Seeing Matthew at his happiest is all the more bittersweet and "AWE" inducing.

Matthew holds Baby Crawley
            Now for the worst part.  Unlike the death of Sybil, the finale does not give us time to see the family grieve.  Instead, while racing to tell others about the birth of his baby, Matthew is struck straight off the road.  The final scenes show Matthew lying dead as blood pools near his head while Mary sits, happy and unaware with her sweet child.  Ouch, Jullian Fellows, ouch.  Sure, I get that it opens the story to new possibilities  but what if I don't want those possibilities?  Dan Stevens chose to leave, as did Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil), but boy did they leave great roles and holes in the Downton world.  Downton has been so heavily permeated by Matthew's solid, morally strong character.  It is impossible to imagine life in Downton without him.  His death isn't an "AWE" moment at all.  It is difficult and sudden, and almost too cruel.  To quote Martha "Come war or peace, Downton still stands and the Crawleys are still in it."  How will Downton stand though, losing such a foundation?  Next season will have many questions to answer.

Lady Mary and Matthew, together and happy.


Once Upon a Time: How THAT Character Changes Everything

Neal from Once Upon a Time

           If you watched last Sunday's "Manhattan," you are probably still reeling from the big reveal, a reveal that everyone, non-seers included, called.  Neal is revealed to not only be the father of Henry, but he is also the one and only Baelfire (what a name), son of Rumpel.  The reunion didn't go quite as Rumpelstiltskin planned, with Neal determined to show his father how truly hurt he was by his father's actions.  (Never fear Rumpel, if he's still hurt, he still cares.)

         The horrible problem that arises for Rumpel is revealed in the flashback to his life in Fairy Land.  Apparently, a seer not only predicted the long separation of Rumpel from his son, but she also said that the boy who would lead Rumpel back to Baelfire would essentially be Rumpel's undoing.  Cue current day Rumpel staring ominously at his freshly labeled grandson Henry and son Neal/Baelfire while Henry meets his dad for the first time.  Needless to say, I really hope Rumpel can stay on the straight and narrow, or at least not totally fall into his former Dark One ways.  Perhaps he will make a great sacrifice for his grandchild and son, perhaps not.  Time will tell on Once Upon a Time.  

         I'd argue that Baelfire's reveal added a much needed freshness the show hasn't seen since last year's premiere season.  The possibilities for the rest of the season are limitless, especially as August is set to return. Too bad a little pesky, pretentious show prevents a new episode next week.  I'd much prefer Once Upon a Time's next chapter than the Oscars. The twists are much more fun.