Monday, June 28, 2010

We provide a little....Leverage

It's officially summer so I have officially started my summer tv homework (detailed here). First up: Leverage. Despite having a bunch of friends who sing its praises, I've never seen it before. Chalk it up to airing on TNT, looking like an Oceans 11 rip-off, or because of Christian Kane's bad hair, but I just never summoned the motivation to watch it before now.

But good news: I like it!

I'd describe it as The A-Team meets Ocean's 11: it's a team of people working together on cons and heists, but instead of stealing stuff for themselves, they have clients on whose behalf they seek revenge for wrongs committed by corporations and greedy rich white guys. At least, that seems to be the pattern so far.

I'm about halfway through the first season, and so far each episode has been a stand-alone: the team performs one independent job an episode. I'm wondering if every season is going to follow the same format, or if later they'll introduce some kind of season long plot arc. While each episode is definitely plot driven (and sometimes a bit convoluted), I guess they are going more for overall character arcs. But there doesn't seem to be much to that other than Timothy Hutton's alcoholism, attraction to Sophie, and semi-mysterious past with the loss of his family.

But it's summer, so who cares! We all like to turn our brains off when watching television, and Leverage is fitting the bill. We've got a team of misfit thieves working for poor common shmoes amid a twisty turny plot. Works for me! Actually, there is one thing I would change:

Seriously, Christian. Cut your damn hair. It's not hot. It's stupid.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Birthday Blogging: Blog, you're my Constant.

It took a flurry of emailing, discussing, debating, but the TV Slutters have finally figured out how to celebrate our blog's fourth birthday (they grow up so fast). Each of us will be picking an episode from one of our favorite television show's fourth season to blog about. It's a blogging free for all: as long as the show had at least four seasons, it's fair game. As for me, since its recent series finale marked something of the end of an era, I decided to go with what I consider the best episode of all LOST time: the fifth episode of the fourth season, The Constant.

In my mind, The Constant represents LOST at its best. Mind-blowing science fiction mixed with a personal story that may be small in terms of the number of people affected, but massive in scope. In fact, rewatching the episode, I was struck by how self-contained it was. After all, this episode opened up a lot of broader mysteries: why must you follow a specific trajectory in order to get to and from the island? Why are only some people affected by the jumps through time? Who on the freighter was helping Sayid and Desmond? What else does Daniel know about the island that he's not telling? Why is Charlotte such a bitch? But we also have the beginning and end of a story: Desmond jumping through time.

But first, a brief recap for those whose memories are a bit hazy. We pick up with Sayid and Desmond heading to the freighter (just revealed in the past episode by a dying Charlie as not belonging to Penny Widmore, Desmond's love). Juliet, Jack, Daniel, and Charlotte wait back on the island for word that the others got to the boat safely. While traveling there, Desmond suddenly finds himself back in 1996 at boot camp for the Royal Scottish Army. He then jumps back and forth between 1996 and 2004 with none of his current memories. During these adventures he finds 1996 Daniel who explains that his consciousness is travelling back and forth through time. It's chaotic, and his brain will basically explode unless he finds the constant in the variable equation: the one thing that he can cling to in the past and present.

Desmond figures out that his Constant is Penny, since she is his one true lurve, and he makes 1996 Penny promise to take a call from him on Christmas Eve 2004, even though right now she hates his guts because he dumped her. Next time Desmond jumps back to 2004, he makes the call from the freighter and Penny picks up, as promised. They both tearfully declare their love for one another and Penny tells Desmond she has been looking for him for three years and will never stop until she finds him and the island.

Ok, so maybe the recap wasn't that brief, but you know what? I don't care. This episode was awesome. The number of characters was relatively small; sure we meet some of the people on the boat, but for the most part, we are dealing with Desmond, Daniel, and Sayid. The mystery of Desmond's consciousness leaping through time is begun in the episode, and by the end, it's solved. He talked to Penny, his constant, and stabilizes in 2004 with his memories intact. Done and done. Sure we don't know the why (why he started jumping through time in the first place), but the episode has such amazing emotional and characterization pay-off, that we don't really care about the answers. In fact, I think the LOST writers were striving for something like The Constant with their finale, but just slightly missed the mark. The audience was still left asking questions despite the emotional drama, while in The Constant it was enough to see that small resolution of Desmond and Penny, just two simple people, finding one another.

I don't remember LOST having a central love story before The Constant. Sure, some people were invested in Kate's choice between Jack and Sawyer, but since I find basically all three of them insufferable, I wasn't that into it. We'd seen romance before, with Sayid/Shannon, Charlie/Claire, and Hurley/Libby, but it wasn't until The Constant that we got into the real epic love stuff. I mean, there's a reason Penny is named Penelope: she spent years waiting for a lost wanderer to come back to her. Of course, she wasn't really content to just wait, in the end Penny goes and gets her man. But with The Constant, fans got the kind of "soul-mates who are destined to be together" crap that works so well to turn the wheels of a story.

And I gotta say, that tearful phone conversation between the two of them? Incredible. The two characters aren't in the same room, the actors sure as hell weren't in the same room, but when Desmond and Penny finally find one another across the phone lines, I am sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

OMG, you guys. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.

And I cried watching it again this time. Especially since I saw Desmond and Penny to the end, coming back to this moment, to this beginning, was incredibly touching.

So, yeah, The Constant. Pretty amazing television. Even if you have never watched an episode of LOST before, I suggest you check it out. And if you are a fan, you should revisit it, since there are a ton of little easter eggs in there shouting-out to other parts of the series. Now excuse me, I need to go get some more tissues. My eyes are just watering from allergies....yeah, right.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Checking up on the Doctor

We're halfway through the new season of Doctor Who over on BBC America and I thought this might be a good time to see how the new season and the new Doctor are doing.

In a word: disappointing.

Aside from the first episode and Amy's Choice a few weeks back, I gotta say I'm not terribly impressed. And I had such high hopes for Steven Moffat! He of The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace, and Blink! But somewhere, it's all gone wrong. Maybe it's having a newbie show runner, or deciding to go with mostly all new writers and directors, but from what I've seen so far, Doctor Who has committed the cardinal sin of any sci-fi action adventure show.

It got boring.

I'm watching the episodes because I feel that I should not because I am genuinely excited about them. I find myself doing other things (like the dishes, god help us all) while it's on, and they tend to languish on my DVR until the middle of the week when I finally get around to it. And I still don't really care about Amy. In this past week's episode, (SPOILER ALERT) when Rory got killed, I was just....disgusted? I mean, they had just killed him two episodes ago, brought him back, and then what, decided to kill him again? And I'm sure he'll be back anyway so should I really care?

Jacob, who recaps the show for TWOP, has hinted that there are very awesome things to come, but they seriously better kick it into gear fast. I don't think I would ever stop watching the show all together, but I'm in serious danger of losing my child-like love of it. Right now, I can't think of anything sadder.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Terra Firma

I've recently returned from vacation. This time it was a cruise through the Eastern Caribbean with stops on islands like Barbados, St. Maarten, and Dominica. But the cruise departed and ended in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My friends and I decided to get there a day early and stay a day late just to make sure there were no problems with our flights, and we had a hotel right across from the port where the ship would depart (and arrive back).

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but it's primary language is Spanish so we were unsure what kind of television options there would be. Thankfully, all the network and basic cable channels were there, including USA. When we arrived in San Juan, we were exhausted after a long day of flights, and all we really wanted to do was relax in our hotel room. So the Memorial Day Law and Order: SVU marathon on USA was just the ticket.

On the ship, the television options were much more limited. We got a TNT movie channel, and the ship had a complimentary movie channel, but other than that Carnival had appropriated most of the channels for their own programming. And I was not interested in watching a constant ad for a $30 on a video of "my cruise" which includes about 20 minutes of old people doing a Funky Chicken/Macarena hybrid dance. And no, I am not making that up. So when we made it back to terra firma in San Juan we all had only one wish: please let there be more Law and Order: SVU on.

Hurray! It's a little blurry, but you get the picture. Literally. Those feet belong to me and my friend Patrick, btw.

Oh, thank god for USA. Yes, they were running ANOTHER SVU marathon, this one with a "co-ed" theme, meaning that all the crimes involved high school or college age kids. The show is delightfully fucked up, and it's the television equivalent of chicken soup: a dietary staple and sure to make you feel better. After all, no matter how tired or sick or annoyed at something you may be, at least your life doesn't suck as much as it does for the people on that show.

So thanks USA, and thanks Law and Order for being there when I need you. Although I really shouldn't be surprised. After all, the sun never sets on Law and Order. Or CSI. Or NCIS. Ugh, stupid procedurals, now I'm getting annoyed at you all over again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Secret Girlfriend of the Week: Supermom!

Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights, y'all. She's a force of nature.

Mother's Day may have been last month, but I just can't help but love a woman who is essentially a supermom. Not only is she the principal of a high school in Texas, but she is raising two kids (and trying to keep in line a husband who will do anything for the football team he coaches), and is also dealing with a school and booster group who hates her guts because she did the right thing by abiding by redistricting regulations.

Her life is rough.

But she handles it all with grace, wisdom, and most of all, sticks up for herself at every opportunity. Even when the entire student body booed her at a recent pep rally, she didn't fall apart and didn't waver in her belief that she did the right thing (and she did). She fights tooth and nail for her kids, both biological and the ones at her school, and woe to anyone who picks on her family. As her daughter said in last night's episode, "She's good in crisis. She's pretty much built for crisis."

Tami Taylor can do it all. Oh, and did I mention she's really hot?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Daze

We're past Memorial Day, May sweeps, and season finales. Also, So You Think You Can Dance has started back on FOX. This can all mean only one thing:


Let's hit the beach, yo.

But don't think that the blog will go silent this summer, oh no. There is still lots to watch and lots of news out there to be shared. Ausiello is already hinting at spoilers for the next season of Glee, and there is sure to be lots more news on new and returning shows.

And like any good student, I'm giving myself a summer reading watching list. So here it is, my television goals for the summer:

--Catch up on Fringe (I've only seen Season 1)


--Sons of Anarchy

--True Blood Season 2 rewatch (there are still some episodes in the middle I never saw and since I don't have HBO I may need to wait for the DVD for Season 3)

--Deadwood rewatch

Ambitious? Sure. Impossible? Nah. Not with my trusty Netflix subscription! I'm also kicking around the idea of getting into Burn Notice, but to be honest none of the USA network shows have really grabbed me. But still. How can I say no to Bruce Campbell?

What shows are you guys going to watch this summer?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Is She a Marilyn, a Jackie, or a Saffron?

Thanks to our constant friend and sometimes contributor, Jason, for the following post!


It's always cool to see someone going back to their roots. This is especially true for someone who started off in humble beginnings before making it big. The latest to rep the "still showing you some love" philosophy? The always stunning Christina Hendricks, who got her first big start in a sci-fi show before jumping to the big leagues. (Read: show that wasn't canceled by a stupid network that may or may not rhyme with "sox" after only half a season.)

While the world has come to know and love her, some in more clandestine ways than others, as Joan from AMC's Mad Men, those of us in the geekier trades have always known Hendricks as Saffron/Yolanda/Brigitt, the sorta-wife of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Joan, Sterling-Cooper's resident queen bee of the office girls, is easily one of the highlights of the show and Hendricks' newly-minted star status supports that.

Insert your own joke about "support" here.

In Firefly, Hendricks' recurring character was a con-artist who took on a variety of docile, dormant personalities in order to marry unsuspecting men, only to swindle them out of their money, valuables and presumably self-respect. Not so much a black widow as an old-school femme fatale, she showed her acting chops by playing a variety of manipulative emotional states and yet still managing to be a pretty fully fleshed-out character.

Yes, I'm a dude. Emphasis on "fleshed".

Ms. Hendricks has since left the world of space ships and special effects mostly behind in favor of up-dos and 1960s secretarial pools, but she recently reprised her sci-fi turn in the new music video for Broken Bells' "The Ghost Inside", playing an android girl who makes some hard choices to achieve her dream. Catch the frankly pretty cool and surprisingly emo-free video here (Ed also, below).

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thank you for being a friend

Rue McClanahan died today, at the age of 76.

For the three people in the world who don't know, Rue played Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls, possibly the best sitcom ever to air on American television, and certainly one of the most formative shows of my childhood and college years.

I can remember, first, watching Designing Women (RIP, Dixie Carter) and The Golden Girls with my parents, sitting on the bed watching the TV in their bedroom (it was a big deal to get your own personal bedroom TV, and I always felt so grown-up and fancy when I got to watch theirs). Later, when I got to college, I discovered what was practically a Golden Girls cult -- every night at 11:00pm, the halls would just empty, and you could hear the opening strains of the theme song from every room on the floor. My roommates and I LOVED that show, as did practically everyone else in my graduating class, to the extent that one of our class skits (...don't ask) was performed in full costume to that theme song. Some of my happiest college memories are crowding around my little 13-inch TV with my friends and hallmates, all in our pajamas, singing along and getting so excited when we got the long version of the song (which you can tell is coming if you get the initial shot in the credits of the plane touching down against the setting Miami sun).

But, as I'm sure everyone on the Internet will be posting in some form today, the Girls mean more to me than just happy college memories. That show taught me -- and a generation of women -- that ladies of a certain age can be just as spunky, sexy, intelligent, and exhilarating as any young thing just turning 21. I think a large part of my being comfortable hitting my thirties was due to the lessons the Girls instilled in me -- that the older you get, the more fun you know how to have.

Besides, where would pop culture be now without the Girls? I think we can all agree that Betty White is a national treasure, and there's no overstating the debt Sex and the City owes to the show.  If you strip it down past the Manolos and the fabulous bars and the glamour, at its heart SATC deals with four women facing the prospect of passing the age at which women are culturally considered beautiful (and relevant), and embracing both their fabulous lives and the primacy -- and necessity -- of their friendships with other women. Samantha, in particular, owes her existence, in large part, to Blanche Devereaux's fearless, fierce confidence in her own beauty, self-worth, and desirability.

So goodbye, Rue McClanahan, and thank you for sharing Blanche with us. Thank you for teaching me that being beautiful depends on believing in yourself first, and that life gets better the longer we live it -- especially if it's shared.

Thank you for being a friend.

(picture source 1, source 2

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Oh are making me sad :(

Oh Glee. You have brought me such entertainment and giggly moments, but last night’s episode just made me so sad. It is clear that the old Glee is gone. We are left with a Glee that is all about performances and ZERO about plot development. I think the producers/directors/writers missed the boat completely when they analyzed why we all liked the show. The music is great. And last night’s performances were not bad, at all. In fact, the rendition of Another One Bites the Dust was one of my favorites of the year. But the plot HOLES and rollercoasters are so awful it’s hard to not get mad at the show.

[SPOILER ALERT]Let’s start with Jesse and Rachel. First they broke up. Which was ok, Jesse was right to dump her for trying to seem like she had 3 guys at her disposal and their break up rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart was great. Then they get back together with no real explanation. We find out he’s a spy. Then Jesse disappears for a week, and then with no warning or build up dumps Rachel, switches back to his old school and then eggs Rachel? WTF? Do you not have script advisers? Now I am aware that the reason Jesse was not in the episode two weeks ago was because Funk was originally written to go before Theatrically. They decided to reverse the episodes leaving a giant “Where’s Jesse” hole.

Additionally, let’s discuss the disappearing/ reappearing baby bump. As other commenters on this blog have pointed out, the show makes random decisions when Quinn is pregnant. Last night's episode put her at 89 months (no that's not a typo). And consistently Quinn has had no bump in the music numbers until last night. The Funk and bizarro baby bump grinding ballet just made me uncomfy. Are the makers of Glee confused about how a woman slowly get's larger??

Finally, the Sue/ Mr Shu thing made me want to HURL. The very nice friends I watched with had to listen to me scream, cover my eyes, and beg for the scenes to end. It was the most cringe worthy moment on television this year.

The teaser for next week's makes even less sense. On what planet would a regional competition allow a judge to be from a school compeeting. COME ON!

The music overall was musical numbers.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

This just in via Twitter...

And now I sound like an advert for mobile phones.

Whedon Alums: Where Are They Now?
Link is to a story highlighting 2010-2011 shows that feature actors from the Whedonverse. Notable examples include:
  1. Julie Benz (aka Darla from BtVS) in No Ordinary Family, which looks like a rip-off of Disney's The Incredibles.
  2. Summer Glau (aka River from Firefly) in The Cape, another attempt to bring comics to the small screen.
These are both sci-fi/fantasy shows, which does make me a bit nervous. But with the loss of Lost and the (unheroic) end of Heroes, there just might be the fanbase to support them. Good luck, ladies!

And as a speical bonus, check out what Whedonverse writers are up to at this link: Whedon Writers II - The Revenging!