Friday, October 17, 2014

TV Review: 2014 Fall Season

It’s time to talk TV.

The new fall season is in full swing, and I have been pretty happy with most of the season premieres of my favorite shows so far. There's also one new show I really like, and another I'm not quite sure if I'll keep watching.

***Possible Spoilers***

Returning Favorites

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

The first four episodes of this series have been so good. So far, each episode has been better than the last. Agents had a really rocky first season, and I’m glad that it is getting a second season, because it’s becoming the show I’m sure Josh Whedon and his brother envisioned it could be. The show really needed S.H.I.E.L.D. to break up the way it did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so the characters could go in new directions. It needed the shake-up. When the first season ended we didn't know what was going to happen to a few important characters. We didn't know the fate of Fitz. Was he going to live or die? We got the answer, and I’m so glad they didn't make it simple. Fitz and Simmons were mostly in the background last season, and what they've done to Fitz’s character is heartbreaking. And actor Iain De Caestecker has given his character such depth. The scene between him and Ward in the second episode was amazing. I'm also glad they're giving Simmons more of a major part in the agency.

I like the new characters who have joined 'the agency formally known as S.H.I.E.L.D.' I especially like Lance Hunter. I also like the fact that there are characters who didn't know Fitz before Ward tried to kill him and Simmons, and they aren't trying to coddle him. I feel that is helping Fitz recover quicker.

I'm curious to see what happens with Ward. Will he help his former associates, or will he stay true to Hydra now that Garrett is gone? Does he really love Skye, or is it just an act? Hmmm.

My verdict: Loving it

Arrow

I love Arrow. For someone who was never (and probably never will be) into comic books, I certainly love many TV series and movies adapted from comic books. Arrow is one of my favorite television series based on a comic book character. I was a bit put-off by Stephen Amell’s acting in the first season, but I now attribute that to Stephen showing how uncomfortable Oliver was when he came home after five years on a remote island (well, he wasn’t on the island the whole time, we’ve recently learned, so I guess I should say 'the five years away from his family and friends'). I don’t really notice Stephen’s acting now, which is a good thing. It means he’s settled into his character. There are so many characters I like in the show, and I like the direction they’re taking them. Except for Sara. I just have to say, why? I liked her so much, and they had to do that? I understand the purpose is to help further Laurel’s transition into the Black Canary, but I have to say it again, why?

I'm excited to see Thea again and find out what's going to happen with her story. I'm not quite sure why Malcolm Merlyn is still a villain now that he completed his goal of destroying The Glades. What does he want now? That's what I want to know.

My verdict: Loving it

The Big Bang Theory

I’m so on the fence with The Big Bang Theory. I think it can be very funny, but then it will throw in crude bits that really turn me off. I remember when I first started watching it, I thought that Sheldon was one of the best fully developed, quirky characters I had ever seen on television. I loved watching him to see how he would respond in different situations because his socially skills were so underdeveloped, and Jim Parsons portrays him so well. Now, after a full seven seasons, going into its eighth, it’s a bit annoying how little he’s changed. Yes, he has a girlfriend, but he doesn't have any idea of how a normal  relationship should be (although you could argue that there isn't really a "normal" relationship). I don’t feel he’s learned anything about how to treat people or how to associate normally in social situations after these many years, now I’m just annoyed by him.

I think it’s funny that Howard was the character who was hard to like before he married Bernadette, and now Bernadette is the one who’s hard to like. She can be so mean to people if things aren't going her way. Amy is another character who was funny to begin with, and now I find her absolutely annoying. I sometimes wonder if Mayim Bailik ever reads some of her lines and thinks, “I am a highly educated women with a Ph.D. just like Amy, so why are they portraying Amy this way?”

Verdict: It’s okay. I’ll keep watching if they continue to have scenes with geeky grammar discussions.

Castle

I have to confess that I watch Castle mainly because I like Nathan Fillion. The show is entertaining and I enjoy watching it, but to me it’s really Nathan, as Rick Castle, that makes this show so watchable. I enjoy the episodes most that show how geeky Rick is. I love that they could actually have an episode with an invisible man. That’s what makes it entertaining – that and Nathan Fillion.

Verdict: I’ll keep watching

Doctor Who

We’re more than half way through season 8, and so far I’ve liked most of the episodes. In fact I’ve been happier with the majority of this season’s episodes than I was with all of episodes during Matt Smith’s tenure. Although Matt Smith really grew on me, I didn't really like Stephen Moffat’s heavy-handed timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly stories, or his big mysterious story arcs.

I have liked the story lines of most of the episodes, although “Kill the Moon” got a little bit too “out there” for me. When the Doctor said that the moon was actually an egg I even groaned out loud.

I love Peter Capaldi as the Doctor; however, I really don’t like the personality the writers have given him. He’s supposed to be a more cantankerous Doctor, but I don’t like how they've made him mean, hard-hearted, and almost unfeeling toward everyone around him. I know it’s strange to like the character but not his personality, but a lot of it has to do with Peter’s wonderful acting.

This season still has a mysterious story arc threading through it, but we haven’t been hit over the head with it, and I’m actually excited to find out the answer to this one, instead of groaning every time a new question comes up and no answer is given.

I like Clara much better this season. She has more to do, and her character is being developed more, especially since they’ve added a boyfriend to the mix. There’s also another small mystery involving her and Danny that I’m looking forward to discovering the answer to. I guess another mystery is if Jenna Coleman, who plays Clara, will even be back for season nine.

Verdict: Happy with most of the episodes, happy with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, hope that the Doctor grows more likeable

Nashville

And the “soap opry” continues. I’m not sure if there’s one happy character on this show. Even Rayna and Luke, who are newly engaged, are not completely happy. There are so many plot lines in this show, and we see each character in each episode get more and more miserable. I know there’s a joke that there “ain’t nobody happy in a country song,” but I’m sure that isn't actually true about every person living in Nashville, specifically those who sing or write country music. Come on Nashville – let someone be happy about something! You may ask why I keep watching if that’s the way I feel about the show, and I’ll tell you – it’s all about the music. There have been a lot of good songs written specifically for Nashville, and I like good songs. That’s also how it was for me with Glee. That show has become ridiculous, but I kept watching through the second and third seasons because I liked the music. That’s not the case anymore with Glee. I just check out the music on iTunes now and buy what I like without watching the show. However, there are a few characters I really like on Nashville, and I will probably keep watching because of them. It would be nice if the writers gave some of them a little bit of happiness. Or maybe a lot of happiness. There’s only so much of watching miserable people that I can take.

Verdict: Watching because of the music, hoping for some joy to come into someone’s life

Once Upon a Time

I really was not looking forward to having the characters from Frozen on Once Upon a Time, especially since the writers said that they weren't going to make major changes to the characters like they have with every other fictional character that has shown up in Storybrooke, because they don’t want to offend or anger Frozen fans. It’s funny how the writers feel they can’t mess too much with these brand new beloved characters because they feel the audience won’t like it, but they feel they can mess completely with other beloved characters that have been around for more than 100 years (I’m specifically thinking about how they made Peter Pan a villain – hated that).

I want so much to like this series as much as I did the first season, but I think that ever since their original concept was resolved at the end of that first season they've been grasping at straws trying to keep the show going. I feel they must have been worried about what to do with the show when they decided to bring in characters from Frozen so they could get that fan base to watch it. One problem with having brought in these brand new characters is not everyone has seen Frozen (yes, shocking, I know *wink*), and there are some fans of Once Upon a Time who don't what he deal is with Christoph's relationship with Sven (the reindeer), or why the heck there are rock trolls. You can't just figure these things out from Once Upon a Time, you have to have some background from the movie.

The first few episodes have had sparks of light where I like where it's going, such as the romance between Emma and Hook (although I am one of the few who actually liked Neil and was not happy with his fate), but those sparks are few and far between. I do have to say though, I was afraid that they were going to make Regina evil again after what happened in the season finale in the spring, and I’m glad that they didn't go that route. I like Regina and I liked that she was changing. It would have been sad to see her regress.

The plot line of Regina wanting to find the author of the book so she can ask for a happy ending is an interesting idea, but it annoys me that they’re making these characters’ fates depend on some outside force. They should be responsible for their own actions and their own happiness. And I don’t think they've ever indicated that someone was writing the book to make them do what they do. I assumed that the book was written about what they’ve already done - a history of the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest. However, I could be wrong about that. I do recall August putting in new pages, but it’s been so long ago that I don’t even remember the specifics about it. I just hate that Regina is basically blaming someone else for her unhappiness instead of taking full responsibility for her own actions and accepting that not everyone gets what they want.

Verdict: The addition of the actual Snow Queen has made the Frozen plot line more interesting, so I’ll keep watching. I’m also curious to see who the next big bad will be in the second half of the season.

Reign

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be watching this series. I’ve been sticking with it primarily because it’s based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots (oh, so very loosely based), and I love British history (well, in this case it’s Scottish history, Scotland wasn’t part of Great Britain then). But deep down it’s still just a CW series. They did actually put a bit of real history in one of the last episodes of the first season when they killed off Henry. King Henry II of France actually did die from injuries suffered in a jousting accident. But other than that, there is very little else in the series that is based on actual historical events. And, even though I'm glad that they got something historically correct, I'm sad that Henry's gone, because he was actually one of the most interesting characters, and now the stories have become quite bland. I have fast-forwarded through to the end of the last two episodes, which tells me I'm no longer really interested in the show. I was looking forward to the coronation of Francis, but even was boring. Not enough pomp and circumstance for me. 

Verdict: Up in the air about this one


Sleepy Hollow

I am loving this new season. Tom Mison is even more endearing than he was last season. I do wish he would change his clothes, but I understand that it really is part of his character. Clothes really do make the man. He wouldn't be Ichabod Crane running around in jeans, a t-shirt, and a leather jacket (well, maybe the leather jacket would be good - *wink*). I like that every episode has a “villain of the week,” and that the threat of that villain is resolved by the end of the episode, but that the series still has the over-arcing theme involving the threat of the apocalypse hanging over their head.

All of the characters are interesting and well developed, and I loved that they even gave the headless horseman a character, as well as a face (in a fashion). I hope that this series continues for a long time. It’s so Buffy meets National Treasure meets Grimm. Definitely my kind of show.

Verdict: Loving it

Grimm

I’m still waiting for the season premiere of Grimm. This is one of my favorite TV series, and it’s hard to wait so long for the first episode of its fourth season. I’m looking forward to a great season.

New Series – Sticking with For Now

I started with a longer list of new shows to watch than I have in many years, but so far I've only remained interested in two.

The Flash

It shows a good actor when you see them in a series (or movie) and you really despise their character, and then you see them in something new and you adore them. Grant Gustin played a despicable snob in Glee, and did a good job making you dislike him. When I first saw him in Arrow last season, I just loved his character.

The pilot of The Flash was very fun. Most screen adaptation of comic books are dark and the superhero is brooding, but this series is more upbeat and lighthearted. I like that. I am very interested in the mystery that surrounds Harrison Wells (played by Tom Cavanaugh). I have my theory about him, but I won't reveal it here. I will tell you if I was right. I look forward to seeing Barry grow into his 'superheroness,' and hope that the season doesn't have a slump in the middle like Arrow did in its first season.

Verdict: Like it so far

Forever
Here’s the main reason I started watching this series:

Yes, that’s me with Ioan Gruffudd at a Fan Experience convention. You think that he’s good looking on screen? He is 10 times more handsome in person, he's incredibly nice, and he has a beautiful smile.

Now, about the series itself. Did I say that Ioan Gruffudd is good-looking? Sorry. I’ll get back to Forever. Ioan Gruffudd. *sigh* I just can’t seem to stay on topic. 

Okay, I will now get to my actual review of Forever. The show has an interesting premise, but at its heart it is really just another procedural drama, of which I'm not really a fan  (except, of course, in the case of Castle, Grimm, and Sleepy Hollow). Procedural dramas need to have a unique slant to them in order to hold my interest. (You know, “famous mystery writer works with a New York cop to solve real mysteries,” or “Portland cop just so happens to be a ‘Grimm’ and can see the true nature of fairytale-like creatures," or "Revolutionary war hero wakes from the dead over 200 years later, along with the Hessian soldier he beheaded, and he is one of the witness spoken of in the Bible who will stop the apocalypse."). So, unless the cases are really interesting, I’m not sure if the immortality concept (and Ioan Gruffudd) will be enough to keep me watching.

Oh, and there is one more thing I like about this series: Judd Hirsch. I just like him. That's all.

Verdict: On the fence

New Series – No Go:

I watched the pilot episodes of a few other new shows, but wasn’t impressed enough to continue with them. I’ve already posted how I feel about Selfie, and here is a summary of how I feel about the new series of which I've only watched one episode and have little desire of seeing more.

Gotham 

I've never been a fan of Batman. I liked Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, but I didn't care much for his two sequels of the reboot of the Batman franchise. And I never got into the Batman franchise that started years ago with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. So, I’m not that interested in the origin story of how James Gordon became Commissioner Gordon. I’m sure there are many Batman fans who are so excited to see familiar characters from the comics (many when they had only their real names and not a moniker that started with “the”), such as Detective Gordon, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, etc. However, I quit watching the series after the pilot episode because I found that I really didn't care about any of the characters, nor in finding out how they became who they are when Bruce Wayne eventually takes on the moniker “Batman.”

Verdict: Not interested in Batman enough to find out how these villains became villains (or why they already are)

How to Get Away With Murder

Oh, what to say about this one. I can understand how many people may like this series. Viola Davis is a great actress, the supporting actors are good, it’s an interesting premise, and the pilot was well-written. It's also unique to have flash-forwards instead of flashbacks as many other series have. I just couldn't get past how unethical everyone is – just to get a “not guilty” verdict for a client. If this is the way our judicial system is really run, then I have little hope for the integrity of the lawyers in this country. Yes, I know it’s fiction. Yes, I know that a drama series needs drama, and the writers have to keep it interesting and keep the audience coming back for more, but I’m more interested in watching an episode of Snapped on the Oxygen channel and hearing about real murder cases than watching this show. I may give it another try, but then again, why?

Verdict: I’ll stick with Snapped

The Mysteries of Laura

A bit of a warning: this review is long and has a few tangents that are quite random (because I am nothing if not random). First of all I have to say that the only reason I was interested in checking out this series is because I like Josh Lucas, who plays the titular character, Laura’s (played by Debra Messing), ex-husband. I really like Josh Lucas.

I’m going to go off on my first tangent to tell you where I first saw Josh Lucas. Josh was in an Australian series called Snowy River: The MacGregor Saga in the 90s. The series was based on the popular Australian film, The Man from Snowy River, and Josh played Luke MacGregor, the American nephew of Matthew MacGregor, who is the “man from Snowy River” (even though his name is not Jim Craig as it was in the movie). Luke comes to Australia to make his fortune in gold, and has many an adventure in the Australia outback. (Tangent inside of my tangent: Josh’s cousin was played by a young Guy Pearce (Memento, Ironman 3), and Hugh Jackman was also in the series for one season). I loved the first season of the series. Loved it. Mainly because of Guy Pearce and Josh Lucas.

Snowy River: The MacGregor Saga
From right: Guy Pearce, Andrew Clarke, Josh Lucas

End of first (and second) tangent.

So, back to The Mysteries of Laura. As I indicated earlier, I’m really not into “cops who solve a mystery every week” type of series unless they have a unique slant. However, nothing particularly singular has jumped out at me in The Mysteries of Laura yet, and the characters haven’t grabbed me. I wonder why Laura can't be a competent mother and a competent cop. When her twin boys need her to be home with them, she complains about having to leave work to be with them. I want to see a woman who loves her job and still wants to be with her kids. And I certainly don’t want to see a mother who can’t keep her sons from urinating in public in Central Park. I don’t think it’s funny. What I do want to see is Josh Lucas. So, if I do decide to watch more episodes – it will be because of him. However, I don’t know if that’s enough for me.

Third and final tangent: Debra Messing is an interesting actress. She is very likeable, and can be very funny. Many loved her in Will & Grace, and I’m sure the networks feel having her star in a series is a good way to guarantee a hit (I just wish she could have helped Smash get a third season, but that’s another tangent we won’t make in this post). I liked Will & Grace for the most part, however, it’s really hard for me to watch Debra’s acting in Will & Grace because she always seems to smirk whenever she or the actor she’s playing opposite says anything funny. I have performed in many comedies on stage, and you just can’t smirk when something funny happens. You have to stay in character. I know it can be hard sometimes not to laugh at something funny when you’re acting (and it must have been hard not to laugh acting against Megan Mullaly and Sean Hayes), but you can actually see Debra trying not laugh. If you've never noticed it before, just go back and watch an episode of Will & Grace, and watch her mouth when she delivers a funny line, or when she’s reacting to Will, or Karen, or Jack deliver a funny line. The corners of her mouth go up like she’s trying not to laugh. So, as I watch in this show, I just wait for her to smirk. I'm not watching a character, I'm watching an actor act to catch her being a bad actress. It's very distracting.

Verdict: Nope (And what's with the title? In the first two episodes I saw I didn't notice anything particularly mysterious about Laura.)

New Series - I Couldn’t Even Watch the Entire Pilot

Selfie – I already posted about this show. It’s very annoying, and wastes the talents of Karen Gillan and John Cho. I don’t know if it will last long. However, you never know what America will watch.

Red Band Society – I thought I’d give this series a try, and couldn’t get past that it was all about teenage drama in a hospital. My definition of *yawn.*

Are you happy with your favorites still? Are there any of the above shows I decided to stop watching that you think I should give a second chance? Any shows you think I should give a look?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Big Bang Theory Discusses Verb Tense

I love it when characters discuss grammar in television and movies. It doesn't happen often, but it can be very funny when it does.



You can stop watching around the 2:30 mark, because even though The Big Bang Theory can be very funny, it can also be very crude - and I hate that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TV Review: Selfie


***Possible Spoilers Ahead (if you consider what happens in the first five minutes of this show spoilers)***

I am always excited when the new fall TV season rolls around. I look forward to new episodes of my favorite series, and I look forward to viewing the new series that have caught my interest.

One of the new series that I wanted to check out was Selfie. I didn’t want to check out Selfie because of its premise, but because it stars Karen Gillan, who played Amy on Doctor Who. And we all know how I love me my Doctor. Though I was not a big fan of Amy’s character on Doctor Who, nor too fond of Karen’s acting at first, I grew to like her at the end. So, I was curious to see how the ginger-haired Scot would fare doing comedy, and an American accent. I was also curious to see what the show would have to say about social media. I have very mixed feelings about social media, and I wanted to see how a modern sit-com would deal with the quite ubiquitous phenomenon still very much in its infancy.

When I found out that the pilot for Selfie was available to view online prior to its premiere on network television, I thought I’d take that sneak peak. I watched about the first five minutes of the episode and I’m ready to write it off already. When I have to watch the main character throw up twice into two barf bags on board an airplane and then walk down the aisle of the airplane carrying said barf bags and then watch as the bottom of the bags break, spilling the vomit all over the said main character, then I am done. That, to me, is not comedy. It’s just gross. So far I don’t like Karen’s character, which is where I was with Amy – but she was on a series that I already liked, so I kept watching. So far, for me, Selfie has nothing to recommend it. 

I have not finished watching the episode, and I’m not sure I will. I like my comedy to be clever, non-childish, non-vomiting, and entertaining. 

To sum up - I have no idea what Selfie says about social media - I just couldn't get past a girl walking through an airplane, covered in her own vomit, while everyone laughs at her. What does that say about our society? Nothing I'd like to acknowledge or watch in a television show.

Unless I hear that the show has gotten rave reviews by critics and audiences alike, Selfie is off my viewing list.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I am Now a Tweeter

When I started my other blog, What People are Saying (whatpeoplearesaying.wordpress.com), my friend told me that Twitter would be another perfect place to post quotes (what with the 140 character limit and all). Well, it's taken me a few years, but I finally did it. I am now tweeting. If you'd like to follow me, you can find me at sukillama. I tweet more than just quotes, but doesn't everyone? ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance: The Group Routines Have It


The top 20 dancers have been whittled down to the top 10, and there have been some good routines, but so far my two favorite have been two group routines. The first was choreographed by Travis Wall. He was impressive as a contestant in the second season, but he has proven himself to be one of the best choreographers the show has ever had.



I love the song, "My Immortal" by Evanescence, and this group routine with the top 7 girls was choreographed so beautifully by Stacey Tookey.



My favorite dancers so far are Ricky and Jessica. I feel pretty confident that Ricky will win. He is an incredible dancer, and he's very likeable. If they select both a male and a female winner this season again, I hope the girl will be Jessica. I've been really impressed by her. However, I think it will probably be Tanisha. She's also a very good dancer.

I'm looking forward to having the top 10 dance with the all-stars. I love seeing dancers from past seasons coming back.

Into the Woods Trailer


Here's a first look the film version of Into the Woods coming out in December. It looks gorgeous; I just hope the actual movie is as good as the cinematography.

Of course we didn't get to see Johnny Depp as the wolf in the trailer. I'll bet we won't see him in any trailer at all. It will be held as a surprise for those who see the film.