American Horror Story might just win me back

My sporadic webiste postings notwithstanding, I’m still devouring TV on a regular basis and very much looking forward to the new fall season.  I have been particularly intrigued by the promos and artwork for American Horror Story: Coven.  I was beyond uninterested in last year’s Asylum and didn’t even make it through the first episode, but for some reason, everything that FX is putting out to promote the new chapter has me kind of excited.  Below is the latest teaser.

American Horror Story: Coven premieres Wednesday October 9th at 10pm on FX

TV Discovery: Orphan Black

Tatiana Maslany as Sara just at the moment that everything changes for her in the pilot.

Tatiana Maslany as Sara just at the moment that everything changes for her in the pilot.

There are far too many channels on TV for me to keep up with all of the new shows as well as the ones that I have been watching for years, so sometimes I get a bit behind (I still haven’t watched the new season of Arrested Development!).  Luckily, we live in an age where re-runs aren’t always a bad thing.  That is how I came to know, and passionately love, Orphan Black. The BBC America show is very clearly filmed in Toronto (standing in for New York) which always sort of irks me, but it is good you guys.  Like sit-on-the-couch-for-10-hours-straight good.  The season 1 finale aired on Saturday and BBCA did a re-run of the entire season beforehand.  I am blown away.   Continue reading

The Big C: Hereafter – Ruminations on the truth & consequences of death

the-big-c-hereafter-3The Big C is a tough show.  It’s always been a tough show.  It is a show about a woman with cancer learning to live her life through that lens.  People die on this show.  Not because of something supernatural or even un-natural (such as murder), but because they get sick and they die.  That is heavy, heavy stuff.  That the show was able to explore all of this heavy stuff with a sense of humor (gallows humor most of the time, but still) is miraculous and beautiful.  But this latest installment, The Big C: Hereafter – what Showtime is calling a “limited series event” – is something else entirely.  Because it’s not about a woman living with cancer, it is about a woman actively dying of cancer.  And it is sad.  And it is stunning.  And it is compassionate.  And I believe that it is some of the most revolutionary television I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Ugh! Last Night’s Glee

glee12n-5-webLast night’s episode of Glee is pretty much the reason why I’m so ambivalent about this show.  There were 10 minutes in there that were actually pretty good and moving and affecting.  But it was 10 minutes that didn’t really belong to the show.  It felt like 10 minutes that could have been plucked out and put into another, better show about teenagers and worked.  But Glee has lost all good will with me, so instead of being affected or moved, I was just annoyed that the show was trying so hard.

maxresdefault891If Glee weren’t made up of a bunch of caricatures who were more concerned with their racist cats than their boyfriends; If the show didn’t have an “issue of the week” mentality; If the earnestness felt earned and true rather than cloying; If the writers hadn’t worked so hard to create an admirable portrayal of a teenager with Down Syndrome only to pull the rug out from under that portrayal for no real reason except shock value; If Glee was a better, different show, they could have made this episode mean something.  As it stands, they basically shoehorned a “shocking” event in the middle of more ridiculousness and the whole thing failed in my opinion.  This doesn’t even take into consideration the WTF of Bieste suddenly wanting to get with Will and the stupid “catfishing” of Ryder plot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this show should stop with the earnest, cloying, “lesson of the week” structure and just focus on being about wild, well-rounded characters who burst through stereotypes and cliches to feel real.  Except that this show will never be that.  That would make too much sense.

Homeland: Proof that risky story telling pays off

Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) meet up for a drink before everything gets blown to smithereens (metaphorically this time)

I liked the first season of Homeland.  It was a tense thriller with a strong (meaning well-defined) female character at its center starring one of my favorite actresses – what’s not to like?  It definitely had moments of surprise, but for the most part, the plot seemed to sort of chug along to inevitable conclusions – No one believed Carrie about hero Brody’s involvement with a terrorist, Brody does not go through with the bombing of the Vice President et al, Brody still looks like a hero and Carrie gets locked away in the loony bin.  These endings felt set up from the beginning.  But all of that left me wondering where the show was going to go during its second season.  I find that character based shows can often go on indefinitely because you can always put your character in new situations to react to.  But Homeland, while it has great characters, wasn’t really a character based story in its first season.  It was the story of a C.I.A. Agent trying to take down a spy and capture a terrorist.  From the outside, it appeared to be plot driven – but don’t tell the Homeland writers that.

Carrie with her new surveillance partner Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend). Is he going to stick around now that there’s no one to secretly surveil?

Last night, Homeland basically blew up its main plot!  After finally being proven right about Brody’s nefarious intentions, Carrie and Saul set up a new surveillance (welcome back Virgil & Max!) to see if they could ferret out his handler and build a case against Nazir.  However, after “bumping into” Brody and then having one drink with him, Carrie brazenly called him out as being a spy and took him into custody.  WHAT!?!?  I don’t think I was ever necessarily bored with Homeland, but I certainly had become complacent to its awesomeness and the end of last night’s episode ripped me right out of my comfort zone.  Homeland just threw the rule book out of the window.  It proved that taking risks and subverting an audiences expectations just draws them in even more.  I cannot wait to see how the writers get themselves out of the corner they’ve painted themselves into.  For the first time in a long time, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next.

Finn (Timothee Chalamet) and Dana (Morgan Saylor) adorably try to stop being adorable.

P.S. What’s going on with Brody’s daughter Dana and the Vice President’s son, Finn?  I mean, I know what’s going on – they’re being totally adorable and teenagery and awesome – but in the grand scheme of things, how will it fit in?  One of my absolute favorite relationships on this show is the one between Brody and Dana.  They have a great connection and a great honesty between them that is really refreshing.  But she trusts her dad a little too much and is bound for some great big hurt and that makes me really sad.  It also makes me think that her relationship with Finn is more than just a cute aside.  Am I being too conspiracy theorist?

The Vampire Diaries: The gang’s all here!

Yup, Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) a vampire for sure now.

How good was last night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries?  I know some people aren’t fans of the fact that Elena is now a vampire, but let’s be honest, it was bound to happen sometime.  I really appreciate the fact that the writers took the chance and made her a vampire this early in the series.  (Especially if it means we’ll eventually see a Katherine/Elena show down – I know, Katherine is older therefore technically stronger, but Elena has love on her side. . . oh who am I kidding, Katherine would kick her ass.  I still want to see the fight though.)  Last night’s episode proved that this was a really great decision.  Making Elena a vampire has made it necessary to put the love triangle on hold for the moment, has given Damon and Stefan a new way to have the same philosophical disagreement about what it means to be a vampire (Stefan wants to get Elena started on an all-animal diet immediately, Damon thinks she needs vampire food AKA human blood from the vein in order to survive), Caroline is no longer the baby vampire on the block so it gives her a chance to take the lead instead of always being in Elena’s shadow, and it has given Bonnie and Jeremy a chance to make googly eyes at each other again which makes me very happy. Continue reading

Sons of Anarchy Loses One of Its Own

[I know I have a blanket "spoiler alert" on this site, but if you don't want to know who died on last night's episode of Sons of Anarchy, please stop reading until you've seen the episode.  Then come back and tell me how you feel.]

Charlie Hunnam, Tommy Flanagan, Ryan Hurst & Kim Coates

I follow Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy, on twitter so I knew that there was going to be a death on last night’s episode and I knew that it was going to be someone important.  I hate that I knew this going into the episode.  I hate spoilers in general, but these teases almost bother me more than knowing exactly what will happen.  There was no element of surprise in the episode despite not knowing exactly who was going to die.  It made me feel less impressed with Sutter for following through on the element of danger that he set up in the premise of the show itself.  It made the other storylines of the night feel superfluous and also annoying because I was just waiting to find out who was going to die and that made the episode feel disjointed to me.  Instead of being like Ned Stark’s death on Game of Thrones – something that felt completely unexpected and brave of the writers because they killed off the perceived main character of their show – Opie’s death felt overly plotted and yet utterly random at the same time. Continue reading

Returning Shows Quick Takes: Parks and Recreation, Castle, Bones, How I Met Your Mother

The list of returning shows that I watch is astronomically long.  It’s a serious problem and depending on how the new crop of shows do, I may have to make some cuts.  While most of the shows that I’m really looking forward to haven’t premiered yet – shows like The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Revenge and Homeland – a few of my favorites are back.  But are they better than ever?

Parks & Recreation: Still my favorite sitcom I think.  I just adore the characters so much.  On last week’s premiere I felt like a few of them were a bit too much like caricatures than actual people (especially Ron and Tom) but hopefully things will even out a little bit.  I really liked Leslie’s realization that outside of Pawnee, IN she doesn’t have much of an influence and that she used that realization to have more of an influence in Pawnee.  The big fish/little pond story has been done before, but never with such an optimistic fish.  Regardless, this show still cracks me up. Continue reading

New Show Reviews: Go On, The New Normal, Revolution, Last Resort, The Mob Doctor

I guess that the official start of the Fall TV season has come and gone since both NBC and Fox have premiered both new and returning shows over the past couple of weeks.  Although, I think it would be epic if no premieres occurred until after the Emmys (which are this Sunday 9/23 – mark your calendars).  I mean, what a great kick off to the season that would be!  Anyway, that’s not the case.  On top of the fact that NBC used the summer Olympics to give a sneak peak at Go On and Animal Practice, multiple premieres have been available online for a few weeks and I have watched them all.

Last Resort: Technically, Last Resort doesn’t premiere until next Thursday, but I caught it online earlier this week (on Hulu – love that site!) and I loved every second.  That doesn’t mean it’s perfect – far from it – but I am totally hooked.  I am so glad to see Scott Speedman back on TV and in a character who is far different from those I’ve seen him play before.  While, like Revolution, there are a lot of characters and different threads being set up in the pilot, I am interested in where these stories are going and intrigued about who these characters will turn out to be.  I think one thing that really separates the handling of such large casts of characters is that on Last Resort they are compartmentalized very definitively and separately – there is the submarine crew (headed by Andre Braugher), the island inhabitants, the NATO workers, and the people in DC.  I’m excited to see all of these threads weave together and split apart.  But, I’ll be honest, like with the beginning of Fringe which I basically stuck with simply because I am a big fan of Joshua Jackson, I watched Last Resort mostly for the Scott Speedman factor and that will probably keep me coming back until the show itself finds its legs and grabs me. Continue reading