Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can't blog...too full.

Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, Hawaiian rolls, cranberry sauce...all these things were on my plate. And then there was the pie. My aunt makes the BEST pumpkin pie I have ever had. Oh, and the pumpkin crisp that my stepmom made. My point, is that there was a lot of food to be had. And now you expect to blog about television??

Oh, fine.

Like most American families, television plays an important part in my family's Thanksgiving tradition. I headed over to my aunt's house a couple hours to early to help prepare the dinner and she and I worked to a soundtrack of various holiday tunes. Of course, then my Dad showed up and then it was all, "why are we listening to this crap when we could be watching the Law and Order: SVU marathon?" So the music went off and the television went on. And yes, through our Thanksgiving dinner, we had SVU in the background. An episode with Chevy Chase, maybe? Still--it could have been worse. They all really like NCIS which I cannot stand.

After dinner, we all retired to the family room where the negotiations began. I say negotiations because we had to try to get 6 people of differing ages and temperament to agree on a movie to watch. Action, drama, comedy, classic, animated, musical...all genres were considered and all were rejected. So we went for the stand-by: Harry Potter, baby. Order of the Phoenix, to be exact. We may be a family and we may have our differences, but we all love Harry Potter.

Through the movie my aunt lapsed into a tryptophan coma, my Dad surfed his online Porsche forums, my stepbrother-in-law Scott and I pointed out various bits of HP related trivia, my stepmom played with her netbook, and my stepsister studied and read the newspaper. But the important thing is: we were gathered as a family. And without the television, it probably wouldn't have happened.

What you expect us to sit around and actually talk to each other? This was Thanksgiving, not an intervention. Yeesh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I've got some Bones to pick

...see what I did there?

Now, I'm a fan of Bones. The mystery, the science, the sexual tension between the brainy gal and the hunky guy (it could totally happen), and of course the LOLs. Plus, I'm a late convert (I couldn't get over my David Boreanaz = Angel 4eva!!1!!11 fixation for a while), so the formula hasn't started to bug.

HOWEVER. There's always a 'however,' amirite?

The one thing that constantly sticks in my craw is how stone cold the killers always are. The first time Bones and Booth question the killer, inevitably he or she seems like a totally normal person who is not shifty or sweating or, I don't know, already halfway to Paraguay, bitches! Spoilers for last week's episode follow. (Can they still be called spoilers? Catch up on your Hulu queue and quit whining!)

Por ejemplo, this week the killer was a "chocolate engineer" who shoved his lying girlfriend into a vat of chocolate that was to become the World's Largest Chocolate Bar. He then proceeded to stick around for the ceremonial unveiling and cutting of said chocolate bar, upon which her putrefied corpse was discovered (yum!). And then, when the FBI came snooping around he was nothing but helpful, going so far as to provide the personnel file that eventually cracked the case.

Already I can think of several ways he could have been a better murderer. Maybe he couldn't have planned it any better - it was a crime of passion kind of thing, I get that - but you gotta follow through. Like, I don't know, pull the damn body out of the chocolate! And if you don't, leave town! And if you can't, do whatever you have to do to impede the investigation until you can! C'mon, guy, show some initiative.

Obviously, I'm not mad at the character. He's going to spend the rest of his life in prison and is also imaginary. I am a little disappointed with the writers of the show, cause this is not a one-time thing. More like an every-time thing. I realize it's tough to come up with plots week after week after six seasons of weeks. But completely neglecting the psychological impact that murder has on a person (while having a psychologist as one of your main characters/plot drivers) is just. Plain. LAZY.

Nevertheless, it's still an enjoyable hour of television. I will continue to watch the show and allow it its foibles. Also, Mr. Nigel-Murray is totally my type (British and slightly anemic).

Ryan Cartwright, CALL ME!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blasphemy! Well, not technically. But still!

Once upon a time, there was a camptastic movie about a cute blonde fighting monsters and falling in love with Luke Perry. This fluffy bit of teensploitation would have passed unnoticed into the annals of goofy movies, trotted out only to fill late-night airtime during the week before Halloween. But the writer of this movie had a vision - a vision so powerful it would become the gold standard for SciFi/Fantasy television for years to come. And so, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was rescued from the very jaws of banality by its creator, one Mr. Joss Whedon.

Even after the cult favorite cum damn near best show ever was canceled after seven seasons, Joss continued his brilliant work in the form of the Season Eight graphic novels. Now however, Warner Bros has (in a characteristically original move) decided that the ongoing series needs a reboot - sans Joss. I will pause, to give you time to clutch your pearls in horror.

I guess it only makes sense. Buffy still has a rabid avid following, so a major motion picture makes sense. However, they can't/won't have the original actors for the roles. For example, David Boreanaz doesn't look like an ageless, immortal vampire anymore - he looks like someone's dad (mostly because he is). So if they can't extend the franchise, they'll just start from scratch. Why not a fresh view? Why not a new writer?

Here's the thing - Joss Whedon is Buffy. I'm not saying he dresses up in short skirts and goes out staking vampires every night. Though that would be kind of cool, I don't think he really has the legs for it. What I mean is, if Warner Bros goes forward with this project - and it looks like they will - they should count on exactly 0% loyalty from the previous fanbase. The reason we love Buffy is not because she's "witty, tough and sexy." It's because Joss was a helluva writer who created fantastic characters in a richly developed world, and always always kept us guessing.

So by all means, try your best Warner Bros. I sincerely hope your new writer, Whit Anderson, does right by this concept. But realize that, before you have selected a director, before you announced your cast picks, even before a single reel of film has been shot, you are facing an uphill battle. Because Buffy fans know what we want out of our teenage vampire hunter dramas. And we want Joss.

For your reference...
Point: Joss who? Meet the writer of the new 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' film (LA Times)
Counterpoint: The Ridiculous Quest for a Joss-Less Buffy Movie (TV Overmind)

Updated to add...
Email from the blessed keyboard of Joss Himself: Joss Whedon Reacts to Buffy Movie News

Friday, November 19, 2010

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown.

It shouldn't be a surprise that my geekiness extends beyond television. So I am sure that the sentence, "Maggie loves fantasy novels" is not shocking to you. After all, I am right in the middle of an epic reread of the entire Wheel of Time series (a series so long that the author actually DIED before he finished it) and that takes some serious commitment. So I'd say I'm more than a casual fan of fantasy.

So imagine my delight when I learned that one of the best examples of the genre, The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, was being made into a television series. And not by just any crappy network. We're talking HBO here. Which means three things are guaranteed: adult language, adult situations, and nudity. To which I say: WOO!

Because Martin's novels are not your average medieval fiction. Sure there are knights, kings, big fights, but there's also extreme violence, plot twists, and a delicious depiction of political jockeying. There's also a bit of magic here and there with witches, and did I mention the dragons? No? What about the incest? Everyone loves a good incest subplot! And don't even get me started on the under-age marriage.

The thing that's truly great about the novels, and what I hope they retain for the show, is that NOBODY is ever safe. Any character can die at anytime. Oh, you really like that character right there? Too bad! He/she just got an axe to the face. Or were horribly poisoned. Or had their throat slit. Or any other manner of delightfully gory death. I've heard this levied as a criticism of the novels, but to me, it's what steals the show. The constant surprises are why I stick around. Even though the latest book has been pending now for...let's see...five years. Seriously, get a move on, Martin. But you know I will preorder that shit as soon as a release date gets updated on Amazon.

HBO has been rather stingy with teases of the show (titled Game of Thrones and premiering in early 2011), but there is some interesting content up on the show's homepage, and just showcased an entire gallery of pics from the series and a set report. Instead of just listening to me blather on about it, I thought you might be interested to hear from some other fans of the books.

From my co-worker, Bill: What struck me most about the photos was the sense of grit. Martin stressed the poor, brutish, nasty, and short aspects of life in his novels, and I loved how no one quite seemed fully cleaned up. The photo of Jon Snow (pictured on the left) really brings that home. He has that pale skin our Shakespeare professors assured us was a good thing (Look ma, no syphilis!), and appears to have not bathed in a week. This photo of Jon Snow and Sam Tarly (pictured middle), presumably at the Wall during training for the Night’s Watch really jumped out at me. THAT was the world I had envisioned when reading the series.

From fellow William and Mary grad, Dorilyn: So far, it looks awesome to me. HBO shows have a really high production value, so I know the costumes and sets will be top notch. Normally I worry when the cast is largely unknowns, but I understand HBO's thinking and George R. R. Martin had a say in who was picked. I think Jaime and Cersei (pictured) look fantastic.

Regarding Cersei, Bill also had to say, "she looks, well, scary." Don't underestimate her just because she's blonde, y'all. Also, don't tap that. People who sleep with Cersei tend to have horrible things happen to them.

More from Dorilyn: I'm a little concerned about Daenerys (pictured) because I know they had to age the character because of what happens to her. Avoiding spoilers, part of the reason she is what she is, is because of the horrible things that happened to her in her formative years. I know the book deals with a lot of very adult themes (and again avoiding spoilers), I hope that HBO manages to convey all of them. I'm concerned about what will be left out to make the show suitable for a wider audience. Some of the adult themes are essential to the plot and I think the show would suffer if they were left out entirely. I also hope that "fantasy" label doesn't scare people off. From the previews I've seen, I think they're going for more of an intrigue/action slant than the magic and dragons slant, which is probably good for attracting viewers. I think that the people who tune in for the pilot will be hooked.

Thanks, guys! I think you hit the nail on the head. To respond to Dorilyn's comment about the adult themes, as I noted above, HBO is famous for adult themes and has never really shied away from something before (anyone who has watched Deadwood can tell you that) so that was kind of the one thing I wasn't worried about. I think part of the appeal of pay cable shows is that we can get all the violence, sex, and foul language we want and not feel as guilty about it because it's a little more classy in the presentation--and we are choosing to have it in our homes, unlike broadcast cable (of course, you could always just CHANGE THE CHANNEL PEOPLE but I digress). Game of Thrones is definitely not going to be for everyone, but as for me, I say bring it on!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Glee Post

Last night marked another episode of glee devoted to spotlighting a guest. Last night was the "Gwyneth Episode." Gwyneth Paltrow played a spanish speaking, singing substitute who is "down with the kids" in last night's new glee. I personally am getting sick of the guest spotlights. I get it that celebrities want to be on glee, ie Olivia Newton John, Britney Spears, John Stamos..the list continues, BUT do we have to devote an entire episode to them.

I will be the first to admit that the music in last night's episode was good. The episode began with an fun rendition of the School House Rock classic "Conjunction Junction." I thought that was uber cute. Though Gwyneth, who "sang" most of the episode's songs, voice randomly changed throughout the episode. Go back and listen to the music, you can almost pinpoint the notes they used "another" voice. It actually made me laugh at the television. We all know Whitney loves her some musical theater so I thoroughly enjoyed the Hot Honey Rag from Chicago. Lea Michelle was ok and Gwyneth can't really dance, but I love the song so it is hard to mess up. Additionally, I ADORED the Umbrella/Singing in the rain mash up. The dancing and water was really nice and I thought the mash up was put together well.

Now on to the most bizarre moment in glee history, the dream sequence. Dear Glee, please STOP DOING DREAM SEQUENCES. I have picked up on this, how have they not. For some reason in last night's episode they decided to do "Make'em Laugh" (also from Singing in the Rain). Mr. Schu in his flu ridden state has a crazy dream where him and Mike Chang ran around doing the cheesiest physical comedy bits. I get that it was suppose to be cheesy. But stuff that would be cheesy on stage, doesn't come off that way on TV. It was awful, didn't fit and seemed stupid. NO MORE DREAM SEQUENCES.

The plot was ok. Kurt got further into his relationship with the new boy, who is super cute. That was some good character development. Than there were some silly sub plots involving tater tots, sue being the principal randomly, and Mr Schu getting fired for two minutes. It is ridiculous that Glee can't extend any plot line across multiple episodes. In most cases each, plot is tied up really nicely by the end of the episode. Right now, the only plot ongoing is the Kurt and the gay footballer. Maybe they will shock me in upcoming episodes.

What were your thoughts?

On a side note, lots of people ask me (and other tvsluters) "why does whitney still watch glee." And after months of BSing an answer I finally have one. I love the music from season one. When I am in a horrid mood, nothing picks me up like "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Defying Gravity." I do have some favorites from Season two and I am slowly learning to love some show stoppers from season three. I truly do love the idea of glee and there are some great songs behind it. That is all! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Being a fan of both television and travel is hard. When you're doing one it's hard to do the other (at least if you're me). When traveling, it's difficult to keep a routine or schedule so that you can get catch all your prime time favs, which can sometimes mean having to wait days to see the latest episode of your favorite show. But the one good thing about coming home from a long trip? Your DVR is full of new episodes of your programs!

But then you encounter the classic dilemma. What to watch first? After all, television shows aren't like children, we can and do pick favorites. So I present for your reading pleasure, Maggie's "back in town priority viewing" breakdown:

1. Glee: despite the kvetching about the show, Glee still remains appointment television for me. Sure it has flaws, but it's just so fun, and when the time came to actually fire up the telly upon my recent return from vacation, Glee was in the first position. And yes, I did enjoy the episode "Never Been Kissed." At times the dialogue and situations lapsed into cliche, but the performances were so strong, I bought it. Also, the Warblers are adorable. They're my teenage dream for sure.

2. The Vampire Diaries: This show has no business being so awesome. I remember watching the pilot last year and thinking it was so so, but since then, it has been more consistently amazing than any other show on television. The plot moves along at such a furious pace it seems the writers are in danger of running out of ideas, but they never do. On so many shows it seems like NOTHING ever happens, but on Vampire Diaries, secrets don't stay hidden for long and pretty much anybody could bite the bullet at anytime. Each episode has OMG moments, and you can never predict what's going to happen. Who would've thought Vampire Diaries would be so fucking cool?

3. Supernatural: this show has also had its problems this season, mostly with pacing, but I can't help it. I can't resist the pretty.

4. Masterpiece Mystery: Sherlock: And as I write this post, I am watching my fourth television program of the day, BBC's Sherlock. I've already raved about the show, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I couldn't wait to catch up on the most recent episode. Brilliant brits running around solving puzzles? Perfect for a first day back.

What's the first thing that you always watch when getting home?