Monday, June 27, 2011

Sucking, but in the True Blood way.

Warning: this post contains discussion of the entire third season and the fourth season premiere of True Blood!

I watched a lot of True Blood today. And when I say a lot, I mean like 10 episodes. First I had to finish my Season 3 rewatch so I'd be all caught up and then I had to (and I mean had to) watch the fourth season premiere.

True Blood isn't for everyone, of course. It's got more violence, gore, sex, and bad language than almost any other show on television. Add to the that vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches and it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Of course those are also all the reasons that I love it. To me it's a big old addictive tangle of fun.

When I originally watched the third season, I remember thinking that it was a huge hot mess...but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. After my rewatch, I still enjoyed the hell out of it but it was easier to follow the (many) plot threads that wound throughout. But there are a couple things I am hoping the fourth season can sustain/improve upon.

First, I'd like the fourth season to do a better job of making the secondary (and tertiary) characters a part of the bigger plot. Sam, Jason, Jessica, even Lafayette seemed to languish in subplots that were separate from what was going on with Sookie. Second, I am hoping Tara will stop getting shit on by the plot-gods. I mean seriously. How much crap can one person be expected to take? I cheered for her when she left Bon Temps at the end of the third season because she needed a fresh start and to get the hell away from that place. As much as I took a certain sick delight in the character of Franklin (who might be the most fucking crazy person on this show EVER), watching him repeatedly torture and rape Tara made my feel like I was watching one of those Hostel-like movies. Not good for the soul. Finally, I want the show to continue with introducing the hierarchy and politics of the vampires. What is The Authority? Who makes the kings and queens? Basically, I have a lot of questions about the vampires and I want answers dammit.

So how did the fourth season premiere shape-up? In a word: it was great but a little ridiculous at times. But really doesn't that go for the entire show? There were some huge surprises (the fairies aren't all sparkles and light! Bill is the new king of Louisiana!), and hints were laid of the season to come (witches!). We got a glimpse of Tara in her new life in New Orleans as an ultimate fighter and lesbian (!!) and Jason is actually a deputy. God help us.

Of all the shockers, the revelation that the fairies aren't what we were led to believe is, to me at least, the most interesting. My favorite writer over at TWOP, Jacob, wrote a really interesting article about fairies (ney, faeries) over at Smart Pop and I really recommend you check it out. Despite the weirdness of the opening scene from the season premiere, when Sookie and her grandaddy go from fairyworld to Afghanistan and running away from IEDs, it's clear to the audience that our expectations of fairies are going to be completely subverted this season. I say bring it on. And again, that's firmly in the True Blood wheelhouse, and kind of the point.

I was pleasantly surprised the show decided to flash forward a year, it was weird to think that so much had happened in Bon Temps since the show began and yet it had only been about a month in the actual timeline. It was a brilliant move to propel the show forward and allow the characters to develop quickly. Some might call it lazy (as some of the characters will completely change and the writers aren't burdened with the mess of actual storytelling), but I have a feeling this season is going to center around showing us exactly how all these characters ended up where they are.

Oh, and add two more things to my season four wishlist: Sookie and Eric actually get it on (hawt) and more Alcide please!
I mean, really. Don't you want him on your television too?

PS: Just adding one additional comment that I noticed other people had made on some message boards. When Sookie and Grandpa were fleeing the fairy land...yes. It did resemble an old school Star Trek landscape. Who knew fairy land looked so much like Southern California?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anyone missing Glee as much as I am? No one? Okay, I'll just... be over here, then.

Pic stolen from courtesy of ROFLrazzi. Not safe for work productivity.

Double Dose of Summer Song Competitions

The age of the summer hiatus from new television has ended. With the influx of all things "reality" the summer is a perfect time to start a new hit show. This summer I have permitted two new reality shows into my world. Keep in mind, with reality shows I am always picky. I only begin watching based on word of mouth and only continue watching if they are spectacular! That being said, I have nothing but great things to say about the two summer song competitions I have fallen in love with.

The first is The Glee Project, airing on Oxygen. For those of you who have fallen my ever increasing disdain for Glee, you may be slightly surprised by this. However, the Glee Project personifies all the things I fell in love with Glee in the first place. This show is a singing/ performing competition to win a guest spot on glee. Each episode the kids perform in a team music video. The producer of the show (and glee) choose with the vocal producer and the choreographer who is not performing well and select a bottom three. The bottom three then perform for Ryan Murphy (executive producer for glee) and he chooses one to "not call back." I like this show because its about the music, but also honest in the way Murphy says "I can write for you" or "I just don't see a character coming from you." The kids appear VERY real, and not trained broadway or theatre or even movie actors. Each also REALLY has a personality.

Additionally, I have fallen for Platinum Hit on Bravo. Yet another in the series of cookie cutter reality shows Bravo has released, Platinum Hit is a song writing competition. To be honest, the songs are good and these writers are talented. Two weeks ago I loved a song soo much I downloaded it off of itunes and have been singing it since. It is interesting because the songwriters are decent performers too. It's actually really interesting to watch the creative process of the song. The only week point for me is Jewel, and though I know other people adore her, she seems just so Blah as a host.

I strongly suggest filling you summer void with these two hits!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Franklin & Bash

Well...I know as a contributor I have been lacking, however, my newly developed passion for Franklin & Bash has brought me back to posting. When I first saw Zack Morris was trying yet another law show (I believe this makes 3), I was disappointed. Another flop for Zack :( However, the inclusion of Brekin Meyer lead me to watch.

I was incredibly impressed. Clearly, the plot is simple, two jokester adult teenagers who act as lawyers, winning cases in shockingly immature manners. The writing is reminiscent of early Aron Sorkin. The dialogue is fast paced and generally witty, with a modern geeky technology twist. Both Meyer and Gosselaar (who I will now stop referring to as Morris) are actually great in their roles. Granted they are quite similar to their early 90s immaturity, but it works.

Joining the already 90s powerful cast is Malcolm McDowell as the powerful head attorney who looms power over everyone. Essentially, the same character he plays in entourage, but with a tad more comedy. I am also incredibly impressed by the anti social misfit supporting cast of Kumain Nanjiani (who plays an agrophobic paralegal) and Garcelle Beauvais (who plays the former felon turn legal aid). I would definitely check this show out.

TNT wednesdays at 9pm :)

James Bond: “You’re Doing It Wrong”

Guest Blogger Jays on his favorite cartoon of the moment (borderline NSFW). Filing this under the "cartoon roundup" because... well, because I can.

Monkey Sri


I don't have a lot of appointment television shows – the rise of online reruns and DVRs has pretty much killed my need to build any kind of a schedule around what's on TV. That said, every now and again a good show crops up that resets that particular urge. The latest example of this for me is Archer.

Sexy, sexy explosions!

Archer is an animated comedy on FX about the missions of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), specifically agency super spy Sterling Archer. In addition to the rogues gallery of soviet-era ne'er-do-wells and the occasional modern day terrorist, Archer must also contend with his chief rival at the office (and ex-girlfriend) Lana Kane, a variety of office pencil-pushers more concerned with bureaucracy then saving the world, and his boss who also happens to be his inattentive, abrasive and over-sexed alcoholic mother, Malory Archer.

Archer combines the visual style of the 1960s James Bond movies with modern technology (GPS, cell phones) and conventions (the staff is forced to endure sensitivity training) to frankly hilarious result. It's sort of like what would happen if Mad Men took itself less seriously and featured more espionage and stereotypical eastern European super villains. You know, aside from Betty Draper. <Rimshot> In tone, it's a spiritual successor to Arrested Development, both for its irreverent sense of humor and its casting; Arrested Development alums Jessica Walter, Judy Greer and Jeffrey Tambor all play lead characters.

The title character himself is played with dripping nonchalance by H. Jon Benjamin, who also voices the lead in Bob's Burgers. Sterling Archer is renowned as the most dangerous spy in the business, despite being only moderately bright and way more concerned with his own hedonism than with anything else. He also has the unfortunate distinction of having the least threatening codename in the world, "Duchess". We later learn this was the name of his mother's favorite dog. Additional leads are played by Aisha Tyler as Lana Kane, top female agent and light years more competent than Archer but still not as highly recognized as him, and Chris Parnell as nerdy Cyril Figgis, the ISIS Comptroller and Lana's new boyfriend.

The show takes every trope of a classic spy movie and runs so far with it that it ends up in another genre. The James Bond references are intentionally mashed into the more modern dysfunctional family sitcom. And like its predecessors from that oeuvre, the show doesn't shy away from visual sight gags that are intentionally suggestive. The show has yet to meet an entendre that it couldn't double or triple.

Yup. That Photo of Malory and her dog is referencing exactly what you think it is.

Where the show's standard stock in trade really is, however, is the sex. There's no shortage of people talking about it, people having it and people doing weird things with it. Secretary Cheryl makes no secret of the fact that she enjoys asphyxiation and is often drawn with red finger marks around her neck that go uncommented on by her uncomfortable coworkers. HR Director Pam states on many occasions that her goal is to get one of her coworkers to sleep with her and she's not terribly particular on which one. And it's the rare episode that goes by without someone mentioning Sterling Archer's repeated prostitute addiction, courtesy of lines like these:

Archer: Oh my God, Cyril, you killed my hooker!
Cyril: Call girl! She was a call girl!
Archer: No, Cyril – when they're dead, they're just hookers.

And then there's the bondage, which occurs more often than you'd think…

There is actually a point to this scene, but it doesn't end up where you want it to.

Just finishing its second season, Archer has officially been renewed for season three, which will begin next year. Season one is available for instant watch on Netflix.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Guest Blogger Mac Tackles Teen Wolf

I've been waiting for an extraordinary paranormal show since Buffy ended. I got my hopes up for The Gates, for the American version of Being Human, and every time my expectations were dashed. Well, sign me up for one more potential heartbreak, because Teen Wolf looks like it's got the potential to be pretty awesome.

So far, they've shown the one-hour pilot followed the next day by the first 'real' episode. They pleasantly defied my expectations. The pilot did what it had to; at the risk of damning it with faint praise, it performed its necessary and dull task of defining most of the show's parameters adequately. Many main characters were introduced and their relationships were established. They revealed the, for some reason, freezing cold and constantly raining California town of Beacon Hills. And the paraphysics were lightly touched upon (in short, what powers he gets for being a werewolf). It's all done with a laudable degree of organic-ness, and a spoonful-of-sugar's worth of comic relief.

Speaking of, let me introduce you to, in my opinion, the real star of this show: Dylan O'Brien. This guy's acting is what's going to keep me coming back week after week.

Seen here, perfecting his Barack Obama "Staring hopefully into the future" pose.

He plays Stiles, the best friend, son-of-the-sheriff, comic relief and exposition rolled into one. Currently possessed of no supernatural gifts, he nevertheless balances energetic comedy, palatable plot-progression, and in the first two episodes alone, quite a few touching friendly "sidekick" moments. Think Xander and Willow at once. Actually, don't think that. I did, and now it's all I can think about...

Anyway. The show tries to star Tyler Posey as the eponymous Teen Wolf. Shirtless in every preview. I assumed his acting would be wooden, as he clearly exists to be eye-candy. What actually happened… was interesting. As it turns out, I wasn't entirely wrong. He plays the "straight man" for a great deal of the comedy of the show, and he's a natural. Someone wrote him a great many scenes where the appropriate reaction was "confusion" or "blank incomprehension". This person deserves an Emmy. Or possibly a Nobel. Don't get me wrong, Posey has a few scenes where he has to actually act, and he manages to get through them without being hammy (especially the scenes where he's adorably in love). It's just that the producers know what he's good at, and they know how to get it out of him.

Ladies and one-in-ten guys? Is it working?

In conclusion, though I've focused on the characters, the show really has a lot to offer. There are already several mysteries for the main characters to solve, from figuring out the specifics of "being a werewolf" to a good old-fashioned whodunit, as well as many intriguing clues. I can't wait for the next episode to see if any of my guesses are correct.

The show airs on MTV on Mondays at 10pm EST

Friday, June 03, 2011

1-2-3-4, Can I have a little more?

With the start of summer comes the official end of the 2010-2011 television season. The ashes are still smoldering on the battlefield as some shows emerge triumphant (seriously, Vampire Diaries had on the best seasons ever), some shows floundered (Glee--I want you to sit in the corner and think about what you did), and others crashed and burned.

But if you just squint your eyes, you can see the remains of one of my favorite shows this season. Not many people watched it and it didn't get a lot of attention, but it was quietly brilliant. Which is unfortunately not enough to cut it these days and it was canceled after it's first year.

I am talking about Detroit 1-8-7, an ABC drama that went inside Detroit's homicide division and told some of the best stories on television.

I know what you're thinking. "But Maggie, you hate procedurals and there are already so many cop shows on tv, why on earth would you even watch this or mention it since it doesn't even exist anymore?"

I am glad you mentioned that, imaginary blog reader. The answer is that you can still watch episodes of Detroit 1-8-7 online, and honestly, it's a show worth checking out. Just because some shows didn't last long, doesn't mean I don't enjoy them. I still love Pushing Daisies, Firefly, Freaks and Geeks and Wonderfalls.

Detroit 1-8-7
is way grittier than those shows, but Michael Imperioli was genius on it and created one of the more unique characters in recent memory. In fact, everyone on the show was great, the stories were interesting, and Detroit was as much a character as any of the cops. Lord knows I rag on Detroit, but the city has personality and if you think about it, serves as an allegory for America itself. Think of it this way: Detroit is to Detroit 1-8-7 as Baltimore is to The Wire. In fact, Detroit 1-8-7 is like a network version of The Wire. It has less profanity, is easier to follow the plot, and is just as compelling.

So give it a try. You've got all summer; think of this as part of your summer viewing list. I defy you not to root for Detroit by the end.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's back!

The other day I was randomly flipping channels, and I discovered something interesting. First, that there is NOTHING good to watch at 3:00 in the afternoon, and second, that there are like 10 channels of VH1.

Remember VH1? It was like MTV for the older crowd. For those who couldn't handle Beastie Boys and the constant screaming teenagers. Also, it had Behind the Music which was like the most melodramatic show ever and was good for hours of entertainment. Especially when they tried to convince me that Ricky Martin was straight by going on and on about his former relationship with this woman and how he would always have feelings for her. Nice try, Behind the Music. You can't fool me! No man who shakes his bon bon like that is straight.

ANYWAY, there I was flipping channels, and I landed on VH1-23 or something and lo and behold! They were showing Pop Up Video! I was obsessed with that show when it initially aired; I loved all the little behind the scenes nuggets (which I was never really convinced were true) and the wry sense of humor of the bubbles. Also the little noise the bubbles made when they popped up. I thought it was cute.

And guess what? Pop Up Video is coming back! I have to admit, this news left me positively giddy which is probably an over-reaction, but who cares? I cannot WAIT for them to tackle some Gaga videos. And apparently they are also doing some hip hop videos. But wait. Do people who watch VH1 even watch hip hop videos? Well, they will now. Now if they will only run another I Love the 80s marathon....

Tell me more! But let's pick a less creepy song...