Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Buckle in, friends -- it just got AMAZING. Seriously, The Ringer just released the best casting news ever. Better than Britney on HIMYM that one time. Better than Linda Hamilton as Chuck's mom. Better than Khal Drogo, y'all.

What on earth, you ask, could be better than having Buffy back on my TV?


In case you hadn't already cleared your calendars and stocked up on popcorn for The Ringer, which premieres on the CW in a mere two weeks (!!), I hereby give you Exhibit A: Jason Dohring.


Now, it's no secret that we here at TV Sluts love us some Jason Dohring. So the mere promise of getting to watch him work his magic would be enough to lure me in. But add in SMG, secret twins, Manhattan socialites, and Nestor Carbonell as a shady FBI agent? As Chandler would say, could there BE any more reasons to watch this show??*

Seriously, y'all. Tune in. Tuesdays, CW, 9pm. We can't let him get away again!

*I mean, maybe if Scully showed up?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Friendship really is magic!

OK, hear me out on this one... My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

WAIT, COME BACK! This is totally legit, y'all. For reals. For serious.

Anyone who's anyone on the internet knows that this show has soared in popularity on the wings of a meme - oh, 4chan. I will never, ever, ever visit you. My favorite manifestation of MLP-madness is the "brony," e.g. a macho "bro" who enjoys this show. I would have never watched it (psst, the entirety of season one is currently available on YouTube), except to find out what the bronies were all raving about.

In many ways, MLP is a classic kids show - adorably anthropomorphic animals deliver morals and lessons direct to your doorstep! Somehow, this show does more. I think the good people at TV Tropes say it best: "[MLP] is a rare example of how to update a retro cartoon the right way: with clever self-aware humor, a more streamlined art style, and strong characterization." If you've seen even a bit of the original series (which was little more than an extended commercial - take that, Pokemon, we had the idea first!) you'd never expect the update to be as good as it is.

Not to mention the hilarious little extras,
like the pony fandom has dubbed "Dr. Whooves!"

Honestly, though, I should have expected as much from the brilliant Lauren Faust - she of Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends fame. Although skeptical at first of taking on MLP, Faust realized it was an opportunity to prove "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness." And that's what really draws me in - I've previously bemoaned female stereotypes in cartoons, and the need for more interesting and diverse characterization. Ms. Faust, have you been reading my diary?

For more information, read this article by Faust on the Ms. magazine blog - My Little NON-Homophobic, NON-Racist, NON-Smart-Shaming Pony: A Rebuttal. Yeah, apparently someone went there. This is why we can't have nice things.

I know, Fluttershy. I know.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Space Nerds Rejoice! Cosmos is Returning!

In which guest blogger Jayowolf tries to pretend he is as nerdy as me. Bitch, please.


As strange as it sounds, Fox announced plans last week to order 13 new episodes of the classic science program Cosmos. Only they want Seth MacFarlane to take over for the show’s original progenitor/talking head Carl Sagan. Wait, what?

It’s true, Carl Sagan and Seth MacFarlane don’t really occupy the same space. One man is a progressive visionary who’s ideas about using television to explain his wonky and sometimes almost un-relatable brain works all the while to some wicked cheesy music. The other is Carl Sagan. [rimshot – hooray for cheap jokes!] But in this case, MacFarlane has been pretty enthusiastic about taking on the classic early 1980s science miniseries about the creation of the universe and what it means for mankind. Per his statement to the New York Times:

“We’re obsessed with angels and vampires and whatnot,” Mr. MacFarlane, 37, said in a telephone interview, “when there are many more exciting and very real and much more spectacular things to be excited about, that are right in our own planetary backyard.”

Unconfirmed early production stills suggest a more whimsical approach to the show this time around

Full confession, I was a huge fan of the original Cosmos series. It’s pretty much what got me interested in science fiction and shows and movies about space travel to begin with. The miniseries used what was, at the time, cutting edge special effects to show just how massive the universe was and in the process how utterly fantastic creation could actually be. It truly exemplified the adage about truth being stranger than fiction by illustrating very clearly and concisely how incredible the universe is and how limited our knowledge of it can be. And while the special effects really, really don’t hold up (not to mention the music), I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see this series updated.

Seriously. It was mostly just Carl Sagan on a Barcalounger that was supposed to be flying through space.

The thing about the original series, however, isn’t that it was Carl Sagan being his nerdy, astronomical self and just assuming that the rest of the country was as interested in pulsars and quasars as he was. Cosmos was made in the late 1970s and aired in 1980, at exactly the same time the world was staring down the very real possibility of an escalating Cold War that could turn into nuclear holocaust pretty quick. Cosmos was very intentionally made to try to help pull the world back from that brink – Sagan’s idea was that if humanity could get a clearer view of where we fit into the entirety of existence, it might help cooler heads to take their fingers off those red buttons. Science is sometimes rightfully accused of being obtuse and inaccessible, but this show was science at its most beautiful; used not just to inform, but to move.

Cosmos was unabashedly optimistic, despite all the immediate evidence in the world at that time pointing to a particularly pessimistic future. If that sounds like a similar environment to what we’re experiencing now, I suspect that may be part of the motivation for bringing the series back.

Done correctly, programs like Cosmos can literally remake how we think of ourselves and the universe we live in. At a time when it doesn’t feel like the world is on the right track, it is the ultimate way to encourage a view of the bigger picture. There is no stronger argument for creative thinking then allowing people to really wonder at how vast yet interconnected the universe is. More importantly, at least from my memory, it is also a powerful way to encourage people to think differently. If there’s a stronger way to tell a young kid that the universe is vast and limited only by his young perception of it and thereby encourage him not to just follow the path in front of him but look for others as well, I don’t know what it is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Curiosity Killed the Bible

Last Sunday, The Discovery Channel debuted their latest program: Curiosity. You can't claim that the program isn't ambitious; each episode tackles one the "big" questions of science, technology, and culture. For example, the first episode asks the question, "Did God Create the Universe?"

See? When the Discovery Channel does something, they certainly don't half-ass it.

Next week's question is "Alien Invasion: Are We Ready?" Spoiler alert: NO. Please. If a civilization that had achieved space travel came to Earth and decided they wanted it, they would so just kill us. Just saying.

Oh, right the show. I really enjoyed the first episode. Every episode has a celebrity host and the first one was hosted by Stephen "Motherfucking" Hawking (with a little help from the new Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch). The episode started out with tracing the history of astronomy and when it got to current theories went waaaaaaaaaaay back in time to the Big Bang and what started it.

Another spoiler alert: the show (well, Stephen Hawking) concludes that God doesn't exist. Sorry, guys (cue the sad trombone). Let me see if I can sum this up. Basically, right before the Big Bang, all the matter, energy, and space in the universe was compressed to a infinitesimally small single point, like a black hole. It was so dense in there that time itself did not exist. And if there was not time, there was no God.

I know, right? This is some heavy stuff. But that's just Stephen Hawking's opinion. He once recommended a restaurant to me and I thought it was terrible so you have to take his ideas with a grain of salt.

The show and the content are fascinating and the production values are stellar. There are awesome special effects and graphics, and the difficult concepts are explained well for a layman, but not substantially dumbed down. You need to pay attention, but I am such a nerd I was kind of riveted. And the celebrity hosts are easy on the ears.

So tune in this Sunday to find out how badly mankind will get its ass kicked by the aliens! Curiosity airs Sunday evenings at 8:00pm EST on The Discovery Channel.

Where's your god now? Oh, wait...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Television’s Favorite Gingers: Special Birthday Edition!

Guest blogger Jayowolf is back again, with more gingery goodness!


If you listened at all to public radio last week, you likely noticed amongst all the talk from the nation's elitist cultured chattering classes that Lucille Ball's 100th birthday was August 6th. The Queen of both comedy and "B" movies (seriously, she was an early scream queen in the Fay Wray tradition) left an impact on entertainment that we're still feeling today.

It's hard to overstate how significant Ball's career was. Most of modern television only operates the way it does because of her ideas for how to film a television show in a way that would be seen as new and different. I Love Lucy was the first show ever to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. It was also the first show to provide a profitable business model for running a show in syndication, proving that re-runs of a show could still generate money. It was the first one shot on 35mm film, the first to use the now-standard three-camera set up, and the first one ever (yes, EVER) filmed in front of a live studio audience, establishing the gold standard for sit-coms for the next 50 years.

Much is made today about cracks in the glass ceiling and it's frankly kind of shocking to realize how many of those cracks were first made by Ball. She was the first woman to run a studio independently. Even though she initially partnered with her husband, Desi Arnaz, once they divorced she not only bought out his stake in the production company but remained as studio head. Every time a modern female producer steps into her office and contemplates the pile of scripts in front of her, she is really only echoing what Lucille Ball accomplished 50 years earlier.

Also, she's hiding chocolates in her mouth. Because that's what women do.

The irony of watching Ball's signature character, the somewhat hapless and zany housewife Lucy Ricardo, is that most of what the character was guilty of doing the actress behind it was pulling off amazingly. For every joke about how horrible Lucy the character was with money, Lucy the woman was running one of America's most profitable institutions. Desilu Productions is responsible for some of the most popular and profitable sitcoms in TV history, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and My Three Sons.

They also didn't stop at sitcoms. Do your television tastes skew more toward the thrilling action adventure hour? Desilu was the producer for Mission: Impossible. For your language requirement in college, did you study Klingon? Thank Desilu; they produced Star Trek when no one else would take the show. Also get help – no one needs to be fluent in Klingon.

Finally, this. Just because.

But because the Network giveth and the Network taketh away, it's also fair to credit Ball with being the first network axman. Under her leadership, Desilu only produced shows that she believed would capture long-term interest from an American audience. Which means the shows that weren't performing up to her standards ran serious risk of being cancelled perhaps quicker than they would be under other production companies. Every "brilliant but cancelled" show that you've complained about/missed/blogged ad nauseum over owes part of its death, at least spiritually, to Ball's keen sense of giving the public what it wanted over taking too many artistic chances.

Ball was fond of saying that you couldn't teach someone comedy; it was something that a person either had or lacked. The jury is still out on whether or not the same is true for business and executive acumen (rumor has it both our current president and the guy who had the job before him both have differing opinions on the subject) but Lucille Ball's success in both arenas certainly suggests that she pretty much always had the upper hand with us, even if her characters made us believe otherwise.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Thunder cats HOOOOOOOOOOO!

Well, everything you've heard is true: Cartoon Network has created a new Thundercats. But here's the good news--it doesn't suck and is in fact awesome and better than the original.

Speaking of the original, I definitely watched it, but there's not a lot I remember about it. Here's all I can piece together from the far reaches of my brain:

A bunch of cat people crash-land on a planet in a spaceship. They are:

Lion-O: steroidal whiny man-child


Cheetara: hot babe

Panthro: badass


Oh, and there's also a bunch of lizards and some creepy blue evil wizard dude. And of course the sword.

My understanding is that the plot of the new series is going to be a bit different (and darker thank goodness). We start in the city of Thundera where the Thundercats have been the ruling species for generations. But the lizards are not happy about this and there are strange rumors about an evil known as Mumm-Ra and "technology". Lion-O is the only one who really believes that these rumors might be true, as the other inhabitants of Thundera are content to be total jerks. Oh, except Cheetarah and this one old cleric dude who encourages Lion-O to believe in himself. I should also mention that Lion-O and Tigra are brothers and both princes of Thundera (as their dad is the King), but Tigra for some reason can't be the heir so Lion-O is the king-in-training. That part is kind of confusing to me.

But, whatever. The plot is not really important here. What is important is that the show has awesome fight and battle scenes (though the premiere draws a bit too heavily from the Lord of the Rings movies) and the quality of the animation and writing is pretty awesome. There's lots to like here and I feel that everything that was great about the original series is even greater and everything that sucked has been improved. Including Snarf. He's gone from the most annoying character in the history of animation to pretty freaking adorable. Mostly because he can't talk.

I'll leave you with a two interesting tidbits about about the new series:

*One of the executive producers was also the producer of Avatar: The Last Airbender

*Larry Kenney (the original voice of Lion-O) is voicing Lion-O and Tigra's father, Claudus. I find that one particularly fun.

Thundercats airs on the Cartoon Network Friday nights at 8:30 EST.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Soul Eater

I know what you are thinking. "What's this? A post about anime that is NOT written by Monkey Sri? Has the world gone mad??"

No, dear readers, the world has not gone mad. The fact of the matter is I, Maggie Cats, have decided to dip my toe into the anime pool.

I admit that until this point I have not been an anime fan. It's not that I don't like it, in fact I have a little previous anime experience...if you think of Robotech, Sailor Moon, and Unico as anime. The truth is that I always felt like you couldn't lightly get into anime; everyone I know who is a fan is a serious fan, you know what I mean? I just never thought I had the time or the patience to get into a whole new fandom.

Recently I decided that was stupid. If I wanted to watch a little bit of anime, I would dammit! So when Netflix recommended that I watch the anime series Soul Eater, I figured why not. And so I gave it a try.

Like most anime, it's a very different story than we are used to and doesn't reply on our Western cultural tropes. Which is honestly, part of the appeal. Briefly: the show is set at the "Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA)," and revolves around three teams consisting of a weapon meister (teenager badass) and human weapon (another teenager who can tranform into a badass weapon). Trying to make the latter a "Death Scythe" and thus fit for use by the academy's headmaster, Lord Death, aka The Grim Reaper, they must collect the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch, in that order; otherwise, they will have to start all over again. That's only the very basics of the plot though, the bigger focus is on the DWMA stopping evil witches and demons from spreading madness throughout the world. It's got awesome fight scenes, a bunch of plot surprises and twists, and while some of the characters annoy (mostly the male teenage ones, natch), for the most part it's an exciting, addicting, and really well-made series.

As my first real crack at anime I found it relatively easy to get into the world of the show. A couple things didn't necessarily translate well (boys get bloody noses when they are attracted to someone?? Whatever), and of course many of the women had RIDICULOUSLY large boobs, but the differences are part of the appeal for anime. You never know what to expect, and that is something I really like. Also, the first three episodes were pure set-up and intended to introduce the show's main characters. So if things seem a bit slow at first, stick with it and the plot soon picks way up.

For people who are not really into anime (yet), Soul Eater is a great gateway into the world, and I really recommend the show. The entire series (about 50 some episodes) is available on Netflix.

They may look like kids, but half of them turn into weapons and the other half will kick your face in. Fun for the whole family!