The Strain :: As Seen On TV :: What we do to survive

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As Seen On TV :: Sunday, September 8, 2014

In this installment of “As Seen On TV” I will give a three-sentence review of the ninth episode of season one of The Strain, where we witness what people do to survive, and we learn about love and sentimentality, and how they can inhibit survival.

This feature will include SPOILERS, so read at your own risk and consider yourself warned.

Please share your thoughts in the comments to the shows I mini-review – I welcome all reactions, debate and discussions. Oh, and bring on the TV show recommendations, old and new.

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The things we do for love, and for survival, come to light as a Father is reunited with his son, a woman is betrayed by her lover, a young man tries to stand up to the ultimate evil paying a permanent price, and a near broken villain is given a new lease on (after)life in the ninth episode of season one of The Strain – “The Departed

Eph’s son is dropped off by a very irresponsible friend of the family and is almost dinner for his douche of a Stepfather, but luckily Eph and Setrakian and their posse of slayers show up just in time to save him. Eph sends him off to Setrakian’s Pawn Shop hideout in order to clean up the dead douche mess, wait for his wife to show up, and have sex with his sometimes lover and always work partner, Nora. My favorite character, Vasiliy, accompanies Dutch back to her place where she finds her lover has robbed her and her building has been overrun by infected, so they head back to Setrakian’s where Setrakian praises Vasiliy’s lack of sentimentality (and Vasiliy assures that he has feelings).

Questions for next episode – is Eph’s ex a vampire now? How did Setrakian’s hands heal, and did they heal enough for him to ever do woodworking and carving again? Will we see the vampire rebel alliance again? Will episode ten finally be the end of Eph’s wig?

And a question to readers who are fellow fans, were you disappointed in the Master’s face, now that we’ve seen it?

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The Leftovers :: As Seen On TV :: If you had one wish, what would it be for?

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As Seen On TV :: Sunday, September 8, 2014

In this installment of “As Seen On TV” I will give a three-sentence review of the finale episode of season one of The Leftovers, which my husband and I have deemed “What the Fuck” all season long. We hoped for some answers, but were mainly left with more questions, and a wait until season two for (maybe) some of those answers.

This feature will include SPOILERS, so read at your own risk and consider yourself warned.

Please share your thoughts in the comments to the shows I mini-review – I welcome all reactions, debate and discussions. Oh, and bring on the TV show recommendations, old and new.

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The Remnent make a cruel statement, a baby is abandoned, a wish is made and possibly granted, and we get to the end of a season with no answers on the season one finale of The Leftovers – “The Prodigal Son Returns”

Through it all, Kevin (played amazingly by Justin Theroux) has been my favorite character, so I was grateful that this episode spent so much time with his character, and that he was the last one to be touched by Wayne, who granted one last “wish” as his own dying wish, to ensure that he was not a fake. So, what did Kevin wish for, is it my guess which is to have his family back, or at least a version of his family back? Nora almost left, but finding Wayne’s magic baby on Kevin’s doorstep may make her stay, though why would Tom leave the baby there, and did he leave somewhere with his Mother, and will she leave the Guilty Remnants now, after their horribly cruel way of making people remember their departed ones (it was so unbelievably horrible what the did)?

Bring on season two.

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Ne Me Quitte Pas :: Nina Simone
from the finale

Dream :: Al Green
from the finale

Doctor Who :: As Seen On TV :: What if your favorite story was real?

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As Seen On TV :: Saturday, September 6, 2014

In this installment of “As Seen On TV” I will give a three-sentence review of the third episode of the new season of Doctor Who, in which the Doctor gives Clara the choice of their next destination, and she chooses to visit the character of her favorite childhood story, Robin Hood.

This feature will include SPOILERS, so read at your own risk and consider yourself warned.

Please share your thoughts in the comments to the shows I mini-review – I welcome all reactions, debate and discussions. Oh, and bring on the TV show recommendations, old and new.

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Robin Hood versus the Sheriff and his dreaded robots, and a Doctor who does not want to believe on episode three of this season’s Doctor Who – “Robot Hood”

I find it rather irritating that as we near the end of Clara’s companionship the writers seem to finally sort out how to write her, and I find myself really liking her. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she picked one of my all-time favorite childhood story characters, too; I have always loved the Robin Hood story, and this one did not disappoint, he was swashbuckling, handsome, cocky, full of heart and life and love, and yes, sadness, too, as any great hero is (and yes, I believe he was real, I think the Doctor did, too). I like the rough edges of this version of the Doctor, the ego and the doubts, the struggle to have them so present together, and I also am cheering that there seems to be a new over-arching element, The Promised Land, this Doctor’s Bad Wolf, or crack in the wall.

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Orange Is The New Black :: Favorite TV Thursday

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Orange is the New Black
Favorite TV

A Little History:

Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan that first aired on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Lionsgate Television, is based on Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, a memoir about her experiences in prison. Orange Is the New Black stars Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, a woman imprisoned for transporting drug money. The series also stars Laura Prepon as Alex Vause, a drug dealer and Piper’s ex-girlfriend; Michael J. Harney as prison counselor Sam Healy; Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette, a fellow inmate; Kate Mulgrew as the inmate cook “Red,” and Jason Biggs as Piper’s fiancé, Larry Bloom.

On June 27, 2013, Netflix renewed Orange Is the New Black for a second season to be aired in 2014.

Orange Is the New Black generated more viewers and hours viewed in its first week than either of the other high profile Netflix original series, House of Cards and Arrested Development.

Personal Recollection:

I am not sure what hit me harder about this show, the writing, the characters, or the amazing actors that make up a primarily female cast (hurrah!). Each episode is packed with a roller coaster twist and turn of emotions that has me laughing at one moment, intrigued the next moment and in tears the next. Each and every character is incredible, from the main focus characters to the supporting cast – seriously some of the best acting and characterization I have ever seen on television.

The back stories are moving and a constant reminder that how we perceive people initially is rarely who they really are. We all have our stories. We all have our commonalities. We are all flawed and beautiful and ugly and violent and kind and a million things in-between.

I also have an admittedly big character crush on Alex Vause (Laura Prepon).

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Beyond that, though, the show is inspiring to the point that it makes me want to do something to help, in the real world kind of way. It does not just make me feel, but makes me want to take action. It also lights that never quite out fire in my belly to want to teach, too, not just from books, but about seeing past exteriors, and about how your past and present can impact your future, and that every choice, and every action, matters.

Netflix released the entire season at one time, which is their original programming policy. Because of this “binge watching” has become “a thing”, and though I have partaken in binge watching television series, I do think that some of the enjoyment and reactions to the art of the writing, plotting and acting is diminished by racing through episode after episode. For this series I have taken my time, and even have three more episodes left to enjoy. That said, I am already restless for the release of a second season.

From a music perspective, the opening theme song, Regina Spektor’s You’ve Got Time, delivers an emotional gut punch, especially paired up with the eyes and mouths of inmates that flash by as the song plays. It is chill-inducing, and at times, brings the feeling of tears to my eyes.

Some other great inclusions have been Jem’s Keep On Walking (episode 10), Leagues’ Walking Backwards (episode 9) and Glósóli by Sigur Ros (episode 4).

Keep On Walking :: Jem

Walking Backwards :: Leagues

Glósóli :: Sigur Ros

You’ve Got Time :: Regina Spektor

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Coffee and TV :: As Heard on TV

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Music and television can sometimes be very delightful bed fellows when the right mix of a song on a soundtrack, and  a cinematic scene connect and click and move the viewer. Often, though, shows will use a song to force a mood or emotion on the viewer, which ends up feeling too heavy handed and manipulative to me. Or, another televised musical failing to me, is when a show includes too many songs in an obvious attempt to promote the network/companies musical artists via their other properties. I love well done music videos, as this space will attest, but when I tune in to watch an actual televised, scripted program I do not wish for it to feel like an extended mix video. Sometimes, though, the music really works and the viewer is overcome by the chill-inducing, moving moment and the song used sticks with you, haunting you in some ways, leaving you to chase after it for days after trying to experience the feeling again.

There have been a few lately that have done just that to me, moved me and left me wanting more. Here are five of my recent favorites that had me on the quest to find them, with the show they helped to accompany:

1. Come As You Are :: The Civil Twilight from SyFy’s Defiance:

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2. Sister Song :: Perfume Genius from Netflix’s Hemlock Grove

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3. To Wish Impossible Things :: The Cure from E4’s My Mad Fat Diary

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4. The Killing Moon :: (The) Silent Days from Fox’s The Following

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5. Casino :: Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio from ABC’s Nashville

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Coffee and TV :: “Don’t say that you love me” :: Cinematic Music moment on FX’s The Americans

Tusk :: Fleetwood Mac

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The Americans :: Wednesday’s on FX

I tuned in to the new show The Americans because of my long-standing love of Keri Russell, my fascination with movies and television that portrays the 80’s in a non-stereotypical way, and also my interest in political intrigue stories. I was drawn in, nearly immediately, by the music, and then hooked completely by the story, the cinematography, the acting, the characters, and did I mention the music? Well, the music is definitely worth repeating. The musical star of the show was definitely Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, which was used to open and close the show, but honorable mention’s need to be made for Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight, and Juice Newton’s Queen of Hearts, both songs which played a pivotal role in revealing parts of these complex characters.

In the Air Tonight :: Phil Collins

Queen of Hearts :: Juice Newton

I look forward to more episodes, more story, and more music.

Forget it, she already did :: video of the day

Late at Night :: Buffalo Tom, featuring a scene from “Self-Esteem“, episode 12 of My So-Called Life

One of my favorite cinematic music moments on television is the ending of episode 12 of the short-lived series My So-Called Life. This scene to me, both the parts of it with dialogue, and the parts with just the Buffalo Tom song, encapsulates what it is like to be a teenager in that kind of first time love that consumes everything, and how it can change everything, for bad, for good – usually for both.

Coffee and TV :: “Sweet Dreams” :: Cinematic Music moment on Fox’s The Following

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) :: Marilyn Manson

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The Following :: Monday nights on Fox

I am a huge fan of movies and television that utilize music in an effective way to the point that the inclusion of a song, or songs, add to the drama of the cinematic scene, making it an unforgettable pairing of song and scene. This week’s premiere of the gritty, serial killer drama The Following, at one such cinematic/music moment when during the opening “escape” scene Marilyn Manson’s cover version of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics became Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams (Of You). There was no dialogue used, but the viewer was already chilled and uneasy, and this was due to the cinematic song choice. It was riveting, and I was hooked immediately by this detail, feeling chills chase up and down my arms and spine, ready to be moved along, intrigued and most likely scared.

Bravo for this cinematic musical moment of television.

Sweet Dreams (Of You) :: Patsy Cline

Coffee and TV :: On-Screen Mondays

Time to review Mondays TV line-up with some mini-reviews to go along with them. I am going to skip Dancing with the Stars, as I tend to limit my reality television consumption to The Voice, and some of Ramsey’s cooking shows. I am also skipping the CW’s 90210, as even though I did once watch the original, this revamp has never interested me, and the one time I did try to sit through an episode, I could not get through it.

Castle, ABC Monday’s at 10pm (PST)

Starting with my favorite Monday night show, Castle returns for it’s fifth season with its main characters, Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, waking up together after finally confronting their feelings for each other, and well, consummating said feelings. I, along with many other fans of this show, have been impatiently waiting for this to happen, ever frustrated with the misunderstandings and near misses the two have been through, though also secretly enjoying the hell out of all that sexual tension and slow build emotion (I did mention before that I am a fan of the slow reveal). Now though, the tough stuff begins, and we all wait to see if they can manage a relationship without the show jumping the proverbial shark, which often happens when the two leads finally wind up together. I know that has been Nathan Fillion’s concern in the past when asked about the possible pairing’s fate, though I personally think they can pull it off. The show is well-written, if not at times a bit predictable in its crime-stories, it is the characters that are witty and wonderful. They are the reason I watch and get so fired up when Monday night rolls around. Nathan is delightful as Richard Castle, whip smart, clever, a single parent who is a good father, flirtatious, emotional and so damn funny, oh, and he’s a writer, too (swoon).  Nathan is one of my favorite actors out there, so I may be slightly biased, but I do love his character. Stana Katic is equally fabulous as Kate Beckett, strong and smart detective who has a troubled past. She is complicated, flawed, did I mention strong? (oh how I love strong female leads). The show also has a great supporting cast, my favorite being Castle’s daughter Alexis, played by Molly C. Quinn. I love the father/daughter dynamics and also have thoroughly enjoyed watching a smart, stubborn girl grow up, making strides and mistakes along the way. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, what new twists and turns await especially Beckett has her over-arching four season story arc seemingly comes to a climax, or adds on another layer of complications and complexity.

How I Met Your Mother, CBS Monday’s at 8pm (PST)

Confession #1: I like everyone in the cast except for Ted, which is similar to how I could never stand Ross on the somewhat equivalent Friends, except for the fact that this show is supposed to be all about Ted. To me, though, it is all about Barney, Robin, Marshall and Lily (and the actors who play them). Confession #2: Despite my caring for the other four characters, I am as tired of this show as the kids must be of sitting on that same couch listening to Ted explain to them, in the longest way possible, how he met their mother. Yes, it was a workable premise at the start that actually became something better than I initially expected, but it is time for it to come to an end. I am ready to meet the mother, see Barney and Robin tie the knot (or not), and be satisfied in the knowing that Marshall and Lily stay together and raise a family. It is time, it is. Would it be too much to hope for that this could be the season that the kids finally get to return to their lives? We can always see them again, perhaps as a crossover to Joss Whedon’s upcoming show about S.H.I.E.L.D., where perhaps Robin works now, changing her name to Maria to finally hide her Mall-tour pop singing past.

Partners, CBS Monday’s at 8:30pm (PST)

I wanted to like this show, I really did. It has a likeable cast, especially with the inclusion of Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie, Brandon Routh who I loved in the film Dylan Dog and David Krumholtz, who I have enjoyed in many things. Also, I am usually cheering on shows that include well-written gay characters. This show seemed to have both a promising cast and an interesting premise, but it is missing the well-written anything. The pilot is full of nothing but stereotype after stereotype that border on insulting and are really not funny. I feel as if a group of writers sat together and threw around ideas of what a gay man would do and like and feel, based on no real gay man, just caricatures, and here’s our gay man. I mean South Park, a show that often boasts at being insulting, does not stereotype as much as the pilot to this show does. It was painful, embarrassing, and yes, insulting to watch. Maybe it will get better, though I am not sure I want to try again. This was honestly the worst pilot we watched.

2 Broke Girls, CBS Monday’s at 9pm (PST)

One of my least favorite shows that premiered last season, the other being Whitney, Whitney Cummings herself being the common connection between both shows. 2 Broke Girls turned me off near immediately in last season’s pilot due to flimsy written characters and a rape joke. I tuned in again after that for one reason, and one reason only, Kat Dennings. Kat is one of my favorite young actors and I have enjoyed her in a myriad of film roles, most especially Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Defendor, and Daydream Nation. Kat Dennings cannot save this poorly written sitcom, though, even when she transcends the bad, and often insulting (yes, that word and feeling again) dialogue. Will I tune in to see if season 2 brought about any improvements? Maybe just the season premiere, but if it continues the way it started, then it will definitely be off my watch list for good.

Mike & Molly, CBS Monday’s at 9:30pm (PST)

Confession #1: I never gave this show a chance because I hated the fact that this show’s premise is centered on the two lead characters weight. Despite the fact that I loved Melissa McCarthy in Gilmore Girls, and had missed watching her on my TV, I did not want to see her in a role that is written as a “fat girl” character. Her weight was never part of Sookie, the character she played on Gilmore Girls, or ever talked about. Plots did not revolve around her size, suggestions of dieting, complications of dating because of her weight, or anything. She was just a person like everyone else in the fictional town of Star’s Hollow, complex and full of attributes and flaws, their physical bodies never part of the writing, or show. Confession #2: I have heard that the show is entertaining, and that the lead character’s weight is not the topic of conversation or plotting any longer. That and the fact that I do want to support McCarthy’s career, I may give this show a chance at some point, maybe even this season. Please leave a comment if you have seen the show, and let me know your thoughts, pro or con.

 

Hawaii 5-0, CBS Monday’s at 10pm (PST)

The show that my husband asks me “why are you not watching this“, Hawaii 5-0 starts it’s third season. I did see the pilot, and I did enjoy it, and then I lost track of it. It is a show my husband really enjoys, and since we have similar taste in TV, I will give it another shot eventually, probably doing a catch-up of past seasons when some of my favorites go on hiatus.

Gossip Girl, The CW Monday’s at 9pm

Julia and I watched Season 1 of Gossip Girl, back when it first aired, and liked it. The show may have been about breaking boundaries and shock value, but that first season had its share of tender moments and well-written characters, as well. Perhaps that is due to it being based on a book series, but I did enjoy the characters, and stories, especially Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester), and parents, as well as ex-lovers, Serena’s mother Lily (Kelly Rutherford) and Dan’s father Rufus (Matthew Settle). There were some issues that I thought were handled relatively well, including suicide, coming out, eating disorders and addiction. I found myself caring about some of these characters, and even enjoyed the over-the-top moments and guest stars, including Georgina Sparks, played by Michelle Trachtenberg who I have loved since her role of Dawn, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After season 1, though, we stopped watching. I do not remember why, most likely thought the show fell off our time and radar. I have no real idea if the show maintained any of what I enjoyed about the first season, and I am not quite sure I will tune-in for this final season, though I may just do a start at the start viewing of it at some point and see for myself.

Bones, FOX Monday’s at 8pm (PST)

Adding to the list of “why am I not watching this” is Bones. I have seen a few episodes here and there, and loved all of what I saw. The show is made-up of so many things I love, too, a strong female lead, a unique take on the procedural genre, and a talented supporting cast of characters. Oh, and I have always been fond of David Boreanaz, even if I was always on “Team Spike“. I will get around to really watching this, especially knowing that it is on Netflix streaming; it is only a matter of time.

The Mob Doctor, FOX Monday’s at 9pm (PST)

This is one of the pilots that I have not seen yet. Despite the lukewarm to cold reviews it has gotten, I am interested in giving it a shot, primarily because I have always had an interest in mob stories, and again, I love a strong female lead, especially if she is complicated, and full of both good and bad sides. Stay tuned and I will weigh in later, once I have given it a shot.

In a surface, “judge a book by it’s cover” way, I do think The Mob Doctor has the best promotional poster of all the new shows this season.

The Voice, NBC Monday’s at 8pm (PST)

I am not much of a reality show fan, at all, but I love The Voice. Perhaps it is because I love music so much, and I get drawn in to cheering on struggling singers, though I loathe The X-Factor, and have some major issues with American Idol. The Voice, though, I truly love. I love the idea of judging people for their art and not their looks (though, yes, I do know that initial auditions are a “casting call” as much as an audition, and that physicality may be a factor at that juncture). I love the idea of successful artists helping struggling artists, art helping art has always been close to my heart. I also really love the judges, with the exception of Christina sometimes. I will be watching all season, cheering on my favorites, and yes, even posting something once a week, starting next week, about the show and my favorite singers.

Here is a sneak peek at one of my favorites, so far:

Revolution, NBC Monday’s at 10pm (PST)

This is the show that everyone seems to already love to hate, or so it seems on most social media sites at the moment. For me, the pilot did some things right and some things poorly. I will start with what I loved: Sword play! Yes, I loved the sword fighting and the fact that I was watching a TV show with well-choreographed swordsmanship, something that does not happen very often. The pilot also featured two favorite actors of mine, Bily Burke, and no, not just because he looks a bit like my husband, and Elizabeth Mitchell, though sadly she will not be a regular character. What I did not like? Mainly I did not like that it felt as if we learned too much in the pilot, once again a show that seems to not know how to master a slow reveal, except I know both J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke do know how (see Lost, Supernatural, Fringe, and even Felicity). There are also some significant scientific foibles that may, or may not, be resolved as the show progresses. I will be watching, though, as long as it lasts (with the bad reactions to the pilot, I have my doubts about this show making it). I love J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke’s other TV shows, and Favereau did a good job with Iron Man, and Swingers, a long-time favorite film, so I will hang on and give it a real chance. It could very well be way more than the pilot has us believing, or should I say assuming.

Warehouse 13, SyFy Monday’s at 9pm (PST)

The SyFy network is not just the destination for so bad they are good (at least to us) creature features, they also have some actual well-written and enjoyable TV shows. Warehouse 13 is one of my favorites, a part procedural, part mystery, part supernatural, and part alternative history with some occasional time travel thrown in to the mix, how could I not enjoy it? Claudia, a computer hacker and musician with a past history of mental illness, the youngest member of the team is my favorite. Her father/daughter type relationship with head of the team Artie is warm and vulnerable, and realistic, and one of my favorite components of the show. I also love the dynamics of real friendship that make-up this show in lieu of romances, something that is rather unique, and more than a little refreshing. My favorite friendships, thus far, have been Claudia and Steve Jinks (“Jinksie”), and Myka and H.G. Wells, who in this incarnation is a woman who wrote as a man, and who lived her stories.

Alphas, SyFy Monday’s at 8pm

Another SyFy network show, and yet another show that I cannot help but wonder “why am I not watching“, especially since I do thoroughly enjoy a behind the hero super hero story, an ensemble cast and shows on this network.

So, what are you watching on Mondays this season?