Monday, October 31, 2011
Cute homicide detective turns supernatural hunter…really, where do you go wrong with a premise like that? Add in the fact that some beautiful women are actually ugly demon chicks in disguise and Big Bad Wolves can reform, and I think we might have something entertaining on our hands!
Grimm is putting a new twist on the well-known stories from the Brothers Grimm. In this telling, homicide detective Nick Burckhardt (played by David Giuntoli) learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters known as “Grimms,” who fight to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. Upon learning of his destiny, he has to protect every living soul from the sinister storybook characters that have infiltrated the real world. Personally, I think this is a pretty tall order, but I guess someone has to do it.
In the first episode, Nick Burckhardt is kicking along in his regular life pretty well. He seems reasonably good at his job, he has a girlfriend he wants to propose to, and things seem pretty normal. Enter weirdness.
It starts out with poor Nick seeing some pretty weird stuff...a gorgeous woman on the street whose face morphs into weird demon like features, a suspect at the police station who doesn't look exactly human, etc. Then in rolls Aunt Marie, the woman who raised Nick after his parents died, complete with her Airstream trailer. Turns out, she is sick and dying, presumably from cancer given the bald head. Although she could also just be badass and rocking a bald head, one never knows.
She quickly tells Nick that some weird shit is about to go down and then they get attacked by some creepy demon dude with a scythe. Demon guy is identified as a “Reaper of the Grimms,” conveniently inscribed on his killer scythe (Grimm Reaper, Reaper of the Grimms…ok, I buy it). Luckily before Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) falls into a coma, she tells Nick to check out her trailer to find out all about what the heck is happening to him. Apparently aforementioned trailer holds all the answers. He checks it out and the answers are less than forthcoming.
Later Nick runs into a reformed Big Bad Wolf (technical name of Blublot??), played by Silas Weir Mitchell. Over a couple of beers (yes, Big Bad Wolves drink beer too…who knew?) Big Bad Wolf sheds a little more light on what the heck is going on.
Eventually, Nick gets his grove back, at least somewhat, and decides that he can use his new supernatural knowledge to solve crimes, in this episode a missing person case. Of course, he gets a little help from his friends, his homicide detective partner and his new Big Bad Wolf buddy.
Like always, some critics liked it and some didn’t. The common complaint: some people didn’t seem to love the blending of cop shop procedural stuff and the supernatural perps. Personally, I didn’t mind it. I think it will be interesting to see how Nick attempts to work around the detective rules and regs while using his supernatural knowledge to solve crimes. I also liked the idea that the Grimm storybook tales are actually way more cautionary than one could have ever expected. I am looking forward to seeing all the different characters from the books take their places as good, bad, or indifferent during the course of the show. Plus, there are weapons and fighting, which is always cool!!
Overall, I think this was a decent first outing and I am looking forward to the next episode. From what I can tell, Nick is going to have two partners from here on out, his homicide detective partner for the cop stuff and his Big Bad Wolf partner to help him with the supernatural side of things. From the previews, it looks like we can expect some funny moments in both of these partnerships…and really, who doesn’t like a little funny with their supernatural. I think it will be fun to see where this goes.
Grimm airs on NBC on Fridays at 9 pm.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Act I! Vivien and Ben’s realtor says they need a fluffer to sell the house. The pun is clearly intentional, because characters are going to say this word about 10 more times throughout this episode. Ben says the fluffer will have his work cut out for him, since the house was egged last night. We see that the culprits are the dead 70s twins from the pilot. Kinda lame thing for ghosts to do, honestly. Elsewhere, Addie says she wants to dress up for Halloween as a “pretty girl”, but Constance says she can be Snoopy. Tate gives Ben an alibi for why he was in the house the night of the home invasion, conveniently leaving out all the demon-summoning he was doing. Ben agrees to keep the show’s plot moving along by still seeing Tate as a client as long as it’s not in the house. Yup, sounds professional. Though, clearly, this is not the last bad decision that Ben is going to make. Meanwhile, OldMoira is carving pumpkins and asks for Halloween off so she can go visit her mother. Viv’s greets the newly-arrived fluffers and OMG you guys it’s TOTALLY Spock and Mr. Spock, looking alive and hale again!
Act II! The fluffers are still bickering in death as they debate how to get the house ready for sellers, agreeing that the gazebo has got to go. They both taunt Ben about whether he built it himself. Ben nervously cuts his finger and Mr. Spock offers to treat it for him. They go to the bathroom where Mr. Spock’s wandering hands try to get into Ben’s pants. Man, everyone’s after Ben, aren’t they? Upstairs, Addie hides under Violet’s bed and jumps out asking if Violet will make her over. Addie, now prettified, goes back home and argues with Constance over her new, more adult appearance. Constance is not a fan of this and it all turns directly into the Tennesse Williams drama hour. Back in the house, Violet is attacked by the gimp in the basement! Kidding, it’s just Tate in the costume. Tate expositions about the origins of the house – turns out one of the girls in the 20s who sought out Dr. Montgomery the abortionist for his services had a boyfriend who wasn’t so pleased. The BF stole the Montgomery’s baby son, killed him, called the family to taunt them and then mailed the baby back to them in mason jars because the CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE! Seriously, this was gross. But not as gross as Dr. Montgomery deciding to try to rebuild (yes, you read that right) his son by sewing the baby parts back together and adding some animal bits as well. Tate says the MonsterBaby still lives in the basement, which explains a bit. Also, still gross.
Act III! Ben is unburdening himself on Tate. Between this and the patient who killed herself last week, Ben is the worse therapist ever. That night, Constance sitcoms herself by realizing the error of her argument with Addie about letting her trick-or-treat as a “pretty girl” and gets her a full face mask of a super model. This is both touching and really, really creepy because the mask is an uncanny-valley kind of horrifying. Ben and Vivien dress as vampires (not the sparkly kind) and Vivien confronts Ben about the mistress, having gone through Ben’s cell phone bill at Spock’s earlier suggestion. “Hayden is over,” he says immediately, natch, before Ben’s cell phone goes off and it’s Hayden calling. Spock interrupts by going all Tim Gunn on Vivien’s costume. Man, Zachary Quinto just came blitzing out of that closet, didn’t he? The “dunking station” is back, sending Spock and Mr. Spock into a fit, as they both see the gimp lurking in a shadow behind everyone. All the excitement gives Vivien stomach cramps. Ben and Vivien rush to the hospital leaving Violet alone in the house.
Should end well.
Act IV! Violet reads manga and ignores the trick-or-treaters, unaware the gimp is watching her. The American Eagle bullies are back trick-or-treating as slutty somethingorothers and mock Addie in her “pretty girl” outfit. Addie runs after them, right into the middle of the road where she promptly gets hit by a car. Like, hard. Honestly didn’t see that coming. EMTs try to treat Addie, but Constance, appearing honestly distraught and horrified, pushes them off, insisting that all they need to do is get Addie onto the lawn in front of the house. She drags Addie there herself, sobbing all the way. Doesn’t seem to do the trick, though, as Addie is still and unmoving even on the lawn. This is actually a really gut-wrenching scene and I’m really intrigued to see what they do with this development. At the hospital, Ben and Vivien talk to the doctor who is doing an ultrasound and tells them that the baby is…
Thursday, October 27, 2011
That's the central premise of ABC's Once Upon A Time. The former fairytale residents have been zapped into the "real world" where they live boring lives without any memory of their former existence. Their only hope is Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter, Emma (House's Jennifer Morrison), whom it was prophesied would put in motion their salvation on her 28th birthday.
The most unbelievable thing about the show is that Jennifer Morrison is supposed to be 28.
Of course I was attracted to the show; who doesn't love story book characters? And as it has many of the writers from LOST attached to it, I was hoping for a twisty story that would keep me guessing. I've read a lot of other reviews of the show; some loved it, some hated it. But for me, it's not that easy. Let's just say that while I recognize the show has many faults, I still found myself pulled into the story and am looking forward to the second episode.
One thing that other reviewers have identified as a fault is the show's bleak tone. If you're looking for a happily ever after, this isn't the place you're going to find it. But that's actually kind of the point. Sure, it's a bit depressing to identify our world as the most horrible place you could possibly be sent to...but that's the course this show wants to follow. Whether you agree with it or not, that's your call. But at least Once Upon a Time is straight forward with their point of view.
Something that did pleasantly surprise me was how much time we actually spent in the fairy tale world. Based on the previews I was pretty convinced we would only see the fairy realm in the very beginning of the show, but the time was close to equally split between the two places. In the fairy world, Snow White and the Prince worked with the other magical people to devise a plan to defeat the Evil Stepmother/Queen/Witch. Sure, it didn't really work out (or did it???), and those scenes were pretty tense as Snow White had developed a quality anxiety disorder, but still. Magic, yay! Based on the previews for the second episode we'll still spend more time in the magical world as we learn how Snow White and Prince Charming met. I am holding out hope that the show will be structured similar to the later seasons of LOST, where we follow characters in two separate time lines and places.
So overall, I would recommend the show. If you're someone who is bothered by fairy tales not adhering to their traditional structure, or the idea of someone thinking the world we live in is the worst possible hell imaginable, you might want to steer clear. But I recommend you at least check the show out and see if you can get past the bleakness. I think with a little time to grow (and based on the ratings it's not going anywhere soon) we might be surprised how it ends up. Maybe happily ever after?
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8:00 on ABC.
Oh, and if you dig stories about fairy tale people in "the real world" I also recommend you check out the comic/graphic novel series Fables. Word on the street (i.e. the internet) is that ABC originally started to develop a show based on Fables several years ago and while that deal fell through, I think Once Upon a Time is the result. There are some similarities but enough differences that it doesn't feel like a complete rip-off.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Act I! Vivien and Ben, in a rare show of common sense, have decided to move out of the house. Unfortunately, no one wants to buy. Turns out the scariest thing about this show is actually the Los Angeles housing market. Meanwhile, Southern Belle is stealing more of Vivien’s silverware, taunting SexyOldMaid and lecturing her about dignity. SexyOldMaid is not a happy camper and wants to “move on”, but can’t for some unstated reason. This is actually a really good scene and can I just say, sidebar, that I would watch the HELL out of a sitcom about these two characters?
Considering at least one of them is dead, "BFF" has a whole new meaning.
Regardless, we soon are with Ben as he “listens” to an extremely boring patient and starts to zone out, only to suddenly wake up in his yard with blood on his hands. Speaking as a former therapist myself, I can only say we’ve all been there. Ben goes back inside to see blood stains on the floor and SexyMaid cleaning up with her ass. Well, okay, maybe not using her ass per se. But given its prominence in the camera placement, it’s surely doing some of the work. Ben fires SexyMaid but she refuses to accept. We should all try that next time our bosses threaten to cut us loose. Moving to…
Act II! Ben deals with his suddenly missing patient and the cop trying to find her, only to have his mistress from back in Boston show up unexpectedly saying she didn’t get the abortion she claimed to have last episode and she’s decided to move to LA to be with Ben because she will NOT BE IGNORED! Vivien takes a Most Murderous Places in Los Angeles Where You Should Really Never Live bus tour. Three guesses as to whose house is the last stop. The Exposition Bus gives us some history –the house was built in the 20s by a milquetoast doctor for his snobby east coast wife. When they fell on hard times Lady Macbeth convinced her husband to start performing abortions to make ends meet. Man, the economy really does a number on all of us, doesn’t it? Almost as if some writer intended there to be a cruelly ironic connection between past and present, exactly as Vivien hears about this she starts noticing that she’s spotting pretty badly. What could possibly happen in…
Act III! Viv’s OBGYN/McGuffin-Supplier breaks the bad news: no moving for this family. Vivien’s nascent pregnancy is too unstable to handle the stress. Ben faints just to prove this point and the OBGYN orders an ultrasound of him. Not sure if that’s clinically appropriate and frankly, if I were Ben and Viv, I would ask to see the doc’s medical license again. Later Vivien is hunting for apartments in the LA Times (I guess Craigslist was down) when there is a knock at the door. GASP! It’s Lady Macbeth, wearing modern clothes but still talking with an early 20th century Mid-Atlantic accent. She says she wants to buy the house, so Viv takes her for a tour but she vanishes after saying she couldn’t put up with all the kitchen’s modern high-end appliances, thus further proving exactly how this show could never happen in the real world. How will we wrap this episode up? Only in…
Act IV! Turns out Ben didn’t kill his boring patient – she only got mad at him for not listening to her so she cut open her own wrists to get Ben’s attention. Again, we’ve all been there. Vivien and daughter Blossom check out new apartments, but Blossom totally has this post-second wave thing going on and says she wants to keep living in the house because it’s where they showed they were strong independent women by fighting off the home invaders together. Not exactly what Gloria Steinem had in mind, but okay. The OBGYN tells Ben that he was being drugged with Laudanum, the same thing the 1920s doctor was using for abortions back in the day. It’s unclear how an ultrasound deduced this. Ben’s mistress comes back and yells at him about how they need to be together. Basically, Ben is dealing with every crazy woman stereotype this show can think of. How to solve the problem? BurnVictim kills the mistress with a shovel. Then together they bury her in the back yard where they nonchalantly discover a skeleton.
Unbeknownst to them, Southern Belle and SexyOldMaid are watching and Southern Belle is all like, “now you’ll never leave” which is actually kind of sad, but then Ben buries the mistress right there by the cover of daylight and builds a gazebo on top of her. Like, in all of three hours. That’s some productive guilt he’s got.
Next time! The Gimp comes back and Sylar…I mean Spock guest stars. No word on if these two things are related.
Monday, October 24, 2011
But I think I found a show that is actually hazardous to my health. The Walking Dead.
The second season is in full swing, and while I am "enjoying" it, the show is so goddamn tense that I can feel my blood pressure go up as soon as the title card appears. It's not that it's going to rot my brains* but more like I am going to have a heart attack while watching it. I think I am in a perpetual state of stress when it's on and that can't be good for you, right?
Why so tense? Basically I expect anyone on the show to get attacked and horribly killed every single second it's on. And I mean everyone. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the "main" character Rick bit it (ha, "bit it") and lord knows the kids aren't safe. And don't even get me started on the gross stuff. I can take a lot, but cutting open a zombie's stomach to make sure it hadn't eaten a tween....I had to fast forward that shit. I actually have to fast forward a lot of show because I just. can't. take it.
But don't get me wrong. I'm going to keep watching. This is quality drama people! Just don't watch it while eating beef fajitas. Or if you have a heart condition.
Friday, October 21, 2011
--Beavis and Butthead return to MTV. Yeah, you read that right. It's been 14 years, but Mike Judge is bringing back B&B to our television starting next Thursday night, October 27th, over on MTV. And I couldn't be more excited. Beavis and Butthead was my first introduction (at the age of around 13) to adult humor in cartoons and metal music. Sad but true. So break out the TP and get ready for the boys to tackle Jersey Shore. If Daria makes an appearance it will be just about perfect.
--With all the new shows I'm watching this season, I'm afraid I've had to let some go from the DVR season pass. With the number of shows available for viewing on the internet and On Demand, there's just no keeping up with everything. But that's what winter hiatus was made for, amiright? This year's DVR casualties:
See you guys in December!
--Finally, if you like your tv cop mysteries smart, sexy, and British, check out Masterpiece Mystery this Sunday evening. They're showing the second of three Case Histories starring Jason Issacs (another of my secret boyfriends) as Jackson Brodie. He's an ex-cop now PI who solves the mysteries the police can't, but is still traumatized from the unsolved murder of his own sister when they were children. He puts on a gruff exterior but tends to get way too emotionally involved in cases for his own good. Once again the Brits school us on drama, and it's definitely worth checking out.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Really, if we can have multiple police procedurals that are “ripped from the headlines”, I see no reason why we can’t also have multiple horror serials ripped from, well, something gross. Zombieland was always intended to be a television show anyway (why else do you think “Zombie Kill of the Week” was a thing?) and done right it could be a nice combination of The Walking Dead’s subject matter merged with the deadpan humor of horrible people being horrible to each other, a la Arrested Development or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Zombieland clearly would differentiate itself as serving as the comedic answer to The Walking Dead’s insistence on taking itself so darned seriously.
The thing is, watching The Walking Dead, you can tell that there are occasionally scenes that the show wants you to find funnier than they actually are. The problem is that all the gravity of the show with its high-gloss premise about Humanity and Dealing With Tragedy tends to hold down the chance to really push a few good ol' fashioned LOLs. This is unfortunate, given that (as every student of Greek tragedy knows) comedic scenes can be used to make the tragedies that befall them immediately after feel that much greater. We’re never more affected by the big horrible event than if that event happens immediately after we’ve just been laughing at the wacky, good-timiness of it all.
So what do you all think? Do you prefer your undead monsters with the hearty weight of serious tragedy behind them or are you excited to see a little a little more slapstick action in your weekly zombie apocalypse?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I kid, I kid. Good for you Zach! Of course a lot of people had already figured this out as he had been photographed around town for a while with his "special friend" Jonathan Groff (Glee), but it was news to me and apparently a lot of other people.
On his most excellent blog, Zach said that his was inspired to come out by the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, who had made an It Gets Better video earlier this year. Zach stated that he wanted to "live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action." Sounds good to me, and good for him. I have a feeling this won't impact his career at all and all the publicity might even help it.
And well, a girl can still dream right?
Monday, October 17, 2011
My candidate for craziest new show this fall is, by far and away, American Horror Story. The newest television outing from producers Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy is the story of a family – Ben, Vivien and their teen daughter Violet – as they move to a new, extremely haunted house in Los Angeles in an effort to get past their damaged life back east. With a pedigree that is equal parts LOST, Twin Peaks and (believe it or not) Glee, the show is basically a classic horror story gone way over the top.
Pretty much every gothic archetype is here. Creepy Victorian house that was once the scene of a murder and is now on the market for a steal? Got one. Scary presence in the basement? Check. Eerie girl-child with Downs Syndrome who likes to tell people, “you’re going to die in there”? Yup. Fading Southern Belle neighbor with a deep secret? But of course. Ambiguity about exactly which characters may actually be living or dead? Natch. They’ve even thrown in a burn-victim survivor (or IS he?!?!) to make cryptic comments whenever Ben goes for a run.
American Horror Story shares the same basic genetic code as its older, more show-tune-y sibling in that it wants to throw everything it can at you as quickly as possible so that you’ll like it. It doesn’t so much as jump from plotline to plotline as run through them at high speed. One moment we’re learning about Ben and Vivien’s faltering marriage but then we need to see how Violet is dealing with the American Eagle models who are beating her up at school but there’s also Addie, the developmentally disabled girl who seems to have a connection with the mysterious presence in the basement of the house but wait, did we also tell you about the maid is both a middle-aged woman and a sexy, early twentysomething at the same time and then it’s time for the first commercial.
But where the show really drives into Capital “C” Crazytown is the sex. In only two episodes, we’ve seen Ben have an affair in his own marriage bed, the maid in her straight out of Fredrick’s of Hollywood uniform masturbating in between laundry cycles, several shots of Ben’s naked rear end, a nurse being sexually assaulted, Jessica Lange getting intimate with a young man several decades her junior and Ben (yes, again) masturbating and crying while fully naked and presumably wondering what he’s going to have to do on camera if this show makes it to season two. And that’s all not even counting Vivien’s love scene with what is either her husband or possibly the disturbed teenage boy who’s stalking her daughter or possibly a ghost. Dressed as a gimp.
I don’t know if American Horror Story is any good, but I can say that after two episodes it is entertaining. Despite high production values that would normally dictate otherwise, the show wisely banks far more on a pervasive eeriness for its scares than on CGI monsters or effects. If the show can get some of its more ADHD tendencies under control, this could be a seriously spooky and effective TV show.
Friday, October 14, 2011
10/13 Day, also known as X-Files Day. I didn't find about this until yesterday evening when I was too tired to post about it on the blog. But today is a new day and I am sure Chris Carter will not mind if I give him some props a day late.
So happy belated X-Files Day! According to the X-Files Wiki, the series is rife with references to the numbers 10 and 13 as they represent the month and date of Chris Carter's birth (and Fox Mulder). It's also the name of Carter's production company (you know, "I made this" and all that).
Hmm. I can't really think of anything else to say about this other than 1) any excuse to talk/write/think abut The X-Files is ok by me and 2) it gives me the perfect pretext to post some pictures of Mulder and Scully. Oh, and to ask the immortal question: David Duchovny, why won't you love me?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I've spent the last week down in Florida where it poured rain (well for a few days anyway) and I was trapped in a rented townhouse with no internet. Can you imagine? What kind of rental property has NO INTERNET??
Thank god for smart phones.
But the good news is I am back and ready to go! Except I haven't actually watched any television in like 5 days except for The Golden Girls and Law and Order: SVU, my old vacation stand by. Not that there's anything wrong with those shows, but I don't think they really make for gripping entertainment blogging.
As I don't have any new shows to review right now (or really anything else to blog about), I've pulled some interesting tidbits from other sites that I thought you might want to check out. Enjoy!
--Entertainment Weekly tackles one of the questions that has been bugging me about Revenge: just hot old is Sammy the Dog?
--Jim Henson's The Storyteller has been on my Netflix queue for ages, mostly because I have vague memories of it terrifying me as a child. Who doesn't want to relive those precious memories? USA Today has a neat article about a graphic novel version of the show.
--Finally, Mo Ryan over at AOL TV announced in her Q+A column last week that the second season of BBC's Sherlock would be broadcast in the States starting May 6. Yay! More excuses for me to speak/type the name Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is seriously the best name of all time. Also: Bilbo as Watson! This show is just delightful.
Monday, October 03, 2011
I know you were expecting a well-thought out blog post about whether the new television program Terra Nova is able to successfully explore its themes of redemption, isolationism, and family bonding, but instead you are getting: yay dinosaurs!
Seriously, I will put up with a lot to get me some dino action. Especially when there is chomping involved. Because ever since Jurassic Park came out in 1993 (dear god I am old), I have had a thing for dinosaurs and chomping.
Ok, fine, it's a tv blog so I will put forth a little more effort. But not a lot. Hence, quotage from wiki:
The show begins in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation. At Hope Plaza, a massive ring shaped structure in Chicago, scientists discover a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the late Cretaceous period on the prehistoric Earth of an alternate reality, offering a chance to save humanity. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy, and Zoe) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway.There's some interesting stuff here: for LOST fans there are mysterious man-made etchings outside the Terra Nova walls, there is a splinter colony that might or might not be up to no good, and the leader of Terra Nova, Commander Tyler, might or might not be telling everything he knows about this strange new/old world.
Sure, the family drama is your typical tv stuff (I really hate hate HATE the word "trope"), but the characters are all likable and the show even managed to make the "angry teen boy" and "nerdy cute teen girl" stuff relate to the overall plot. And did I mention?
The two hour plot played more like a movie with impressive special effects, good set-up, and hints at mysteries and plots to come. There has been some general bitching about the quality of the dinosaurs, but this isn't Steven Spielberg people. Come on. And there is one scene involving some teens being terrorized by dinosaurs that was particularly well made and tense.
So it looks like there's another show for you to add to your list this fall. Man, I hope all you people have a DVR or you are really screwed.