Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recapping AHS: Who's Your (Baby) Daddy?

OMG you guys –shit just got real. We begin six months ago, as the Harmons are moving in. Lady Macbeth is moving through the house weeping and deeming everything “all wrong”. She seems confused as to where she is and why the furniture that isn’t hers is so cheap, which just goes to show how successful Ethan Allen Furniture would have been in the 1920s. A shadow-y man enters and she demands to know what’s happened to her baby. The man says he will help her and we cut to the first episode and the first of what would become many Gimp/Vivien slash scenes. As Ben does his naked walkabout from that night, he actually passes the gimp leaving Vivien’s room, walk of shame be damned. The Gimp goes downstairs and unmasks to reveal… Tate. Meaning that in addition to every other bit of crazy, this story now has a ghost who’s impregnated his girlfriend’s mom.

Act I! Vivien, Moira and Marcie, the real estate agent, look at the old pictures of Lady Macbeth and hilariously suggest that maybe the ghost was just a doppelganger. That disappeared from the kitchen. Marcie is worried because Sleazy from last week hasn’t returned her phone call about an offer on the house. Heh. In a flashback, Spock has coffee with a girlfriend and talks about his problems with his husband, who no longer wants a baby like they originally planned. Instead, he’s been distant, distracted, sleepwalking and making sexy talk online with guys at an S&M social network. They really do have one of those for everyone, I guess. GF suggests that Spock do something to make married life interesting again, so Spock checks out a sex shop and looks at really painful toys. The clerk suggests buying the gimp outfit, which is meant to dehumanize the wearer and is also very slimming in black. That night, Spock dresses as the Gimp and approaches Mr. Spock, who laughs off the seduction saying he prefers leather, not rubber. The two argue and somehow Mr. Spock gets even more naked before storming off to hook up with hotleatherman25 or something.

Somewhere, a repressed Star Trek fan's head just exploded for joy.

Spock cries and we flash confusingly forward to Lady Macbeth crying in the same position before Hayden yells from the other room that she’s ghosting over here and would you please keep it down? Hayden’s had a busy afterlife, hooking up with all the other ghosts in the house, including Constance’s murdered husband. She tells Lady Macbeth that she’s dead, get over it, but Lady Macbeth doesn’t remember killing her husband or herself. They bond over the fact that they’ve both lost children, Lady Macbeth to a psycho and Hayden to Ben and his shovel, and they get angry that Vivien is going to have two – maybe they should take them from her?

Act II! Vivien is going to bed when she thinks she hears something in the hallway and then the red rubber ball rolls toward her out of the darkness. Hayden’s disembodied voice is suddenly laughing while making lights spark and generally acting like something out of Craig T. Nelson’s homeownership nightmares. Cut to Halloween of last year, the GimpTate is killing Spock when Mr. Spock walks in. Beat downs ensue and, as was foreshadowed back in episode one, Mr. Spock gets the business end of a fireplace poker up his, well, business end. GimpTate explains to Lady Macbeth that they were going to have a baby, but now they’re not, so if they’re dead, maybe a new family will move in that can give Lady Macbeth her baby back? Back again to our time, Violet is playing in the basement with the red ball and talking kindly to something in the darkness. Ben is worried because Violet hasn’t been to school in two weeks. And she’s stopped eating. And feeling sullen. Aw crap, Violet’s totally dead, isn’t she? We’ll have to wait to find out for sure, because in the kitchen Vivien is telling Moira about having hallucinations. Moira tells her not to worry, it’s not that she’s going crazy, the house is just wicked haunted by at least 11 ghosts. Vivien is all “oh HELL no” and grabs Violet, saying they’re leaving pronto. They try to drive off, but the ghosts of the two home invaders from Episode 2 are waiting in the backseat and scare them back into the house.

Act III! Ben is pissed at Vivien for trying to take Violet out of state to Florida. I’ve been to Florida. I’m on Ben’s side on this one. Ben says maybe the hallucinations are the result of mad cow disease, which one gets from eating raw brains, done anything like that lately, honey? Upstairs, Violet and Tate have apparently just had sex because they’re more or less naked and in bed, marking the first time this show has not gone with the sexy. Tate tells Violet he’ll always be there for her, but she can never tell Vivien about the ghosts in the house. Meanwhile, Vivien is going all Roswell, claiming that everything is a giant conspiracy between Ben and Hayden to get her out of the house and also there are ghosts. She asks Violet to corroborate, given the home invasion, but Violet lies and says that she never saw anything ghostly that night. Vivien calls Marcie over then pretends to get a migraine so she can steal Marcie’s gun from her. Smooth move, actually. That night, as she tries to sleep someone is in the room with her, moving in the shadows. Vivien hits the panic button (literally) and grabs the gun, shooting wildly and accidentally hitting Ben as he comes in to see what’s going on.

Act IV! The cops arrive, including Luke the security guy. Ben says the bullet didn't hit him. Possibly a plot point, possibly just bad writing. We'll see. Luke tried to get in because he doesn't trust Ben, but also because he wants to sex Vivien, who is apparently the new Ben in terms of needing to have someone try to have sex with her in every episode. Upstairs, Vivien is struggling under the Valium that Ben gave her to calm her down. Hayden starts yelling at Vivien, saying that Ben is pathetic. Vivien (and all of us) agree. But then Hayden wants Viv's babies and brings GimpTate for yet another round of But-It-Was-Just-A-Dream sex ending with Ben and Luke having to hold Vivien down and call in the men in the white coats. Ben's had Vivien committed because she's a danger to herself and the babies. Vivien is walked out of the house in dramatic slo-mo, shooting Violet a deathlook on the way out for not backing her up.

Make 'em pay... make 'em all pay...

One final flashback to Tate and Moira in the basement with dead Mr. Spock and a rapidly dying Spock. Moira instructs Tate, still in the gimp suit, on how to kill them both to make it look like a murder-suicide. Tate remarks that it’s kind of romantic; this way they’ll be together forever and btw he’s still totally not gay. Also, how is that Basement so clean and free of blood stains? This is, like, the 25th murder to happen down there.

Next week – The Pope shows up. Seriously, you guys, the mothereffing Pope.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monkey Sri recaps (squee-caps?) Glee

Since Whitney's in Thailand, I thought I'd pick up our reviews of everyone's my favorite show - Glee. Spoilers, AHOY!

Last week, Finn took the trash talk to a new level when he outed Santana in a crowded hallway. Word got back to one of Sue Sylvester's opponents in the special election that she had a lesbian as head cheerleader, and he decided to use this information in an attack ad against Sue. Santana was forced to tell her parents (before they saw it on TV) and deal with the fall-out afterwards. The episode centered around the gleeks showing their support for Santana by singing songs by various female artists.

As usual with Glee, they handled this delicate issue with all the subtlety of hitting their audience in the face with a two-by-four. The boys all sang girl songs. At one point, Santana was visibly tearful. After the ad aired, some jock was harassing Santana and literally all the glee girls showed up to defend her. And then they broke out singing "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry.

 Seriously?

HOWEVER. I still loved it! I totally buy the clumsy, sincere, naive efforts of the glee kids to be accepting and/or tolerant. When you are in high school, you are clumsy, sincere, and naive. And at the end of the day, I prefer to hear this message (as it were) loud and proud than to have it couched in clever writing and thoughtful commentary. The message itself it too important to be missed by the little teenage gleeks all over the world - that it's OK to be gay.

A couple other of my faves (Kurt, obvy, as well as Coach Beast) also got their own subplots. AND when Rachel did something reprehensible, she was actually punished! So, a highly satisfactory episode all in all. I can't wait for Sectionals next week!

Ignorance is Bliss

There's a lot of ways to enjoy your favorite television shows. There are some shows that are best viewed on the surface alone. For example: America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, or any other soapy guilty pleasure. These are not the kind of shows that you need to commit to an in-depth analysis. Somebody gets beer thrown on their weave, somebody gets engaged to a French prince, somebody gets tossed off a building and miraculously survives...these are all things that we just accept.

On the other end of the spectrum you have shows like LOST that are just begging you to analyze them. The writers seem to cry out "please spend hours of your life nitpicking every second of this show so you can truly appreciate how clever we are!" There are special websites, books, and countless fan forums dedicated to uncovering the mysteries contained in the 44 minutes of air-time. And in cases like this, unearthing those little tidbits adds to the pleasure you derive from watching.

But what about the shows in the middle? For me personally, there's a lot of shows where I want to just watch superficially, but it seems like everyone else enjoys picking them apart (perfect example: Glee). This is a problem, because in a lot of cases I find that the more I learn about a show or the more people talk about it...the less I enjoy it. Right now I am struggling with this the most regarding the second season of The Walking Dead which aired its midseason finale on Sunday evening.

I visit a lot of websites that talk about tv (duh), and many of them post recaps of The Walking Dead. As soon as the recaps are up I intensely devour them...but here's the thing. The recaps tend to contain color commentary pointing out the show's flaws and many times it's things I don't particularly notice. For example, I didn't really notice that Season 2 of The Walking Dead was more "talky" or that the reason the farm still has running water and electricity was never addressed. Mostly because whenever I watch the show I am in such a constant state of anxiety it's all I can do to keep my eyes on the screen. But when these flaws are pointed out to me--it kind of ruins the show.

See, normally I would watch this season and think that it showcased some nice character work. But the internet tells me it's boring, repetitive, and overly talky.
I know what you are thinking. "Aren't those kind of flaws obvious and shouldn't you notice them on your own?" But what you don't realize is that I possess this great skill of turning my brain off at will and just...enjoying what I am watching. Except now all I see when I watch interactions between Laurie and the male characters is the inherent misogynism. And the lack of complexity of the secondary characters. Or how it is that Carl got shot in the chest and a few days later is up and wandering around. Argh! Can't I just watch a show about zombies chomping on people in peace?!

You and I both know the solution. Stop reading other people's opinions.  But have you ever tried to not read your favorite blogs? I'm not sure I possess the necessary willpower. I'm going to have to give it a try though because in this case--knowledge is definitely not power. Really all knowledge is doing is popping my zombie fun balloon.

And I like my zombie fun balloon. I like it a lot. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Here we are, the day after Thanksgiving. I've had more pie than I care to admit (and tomorrow's morning run will make me pay the price), and there's been little blog posting or tv watching this week. Most of the shows have already had their midseason finales and we're now in the purgatory known as "winter hiatus." While it will give me a chance to catch up on some shows that had to fall by the wayside (Gossip Girl, Fringe), there's not a lot out there for a tv-lover right now--especially on a holiday evening.

But wait! What's that? Emerging from the television shadows...it's shiny, and fabulous, and teetering about on ridiculous claw shoes...it's Lady Gaga! Yes, the new queen of pop is here to rescue us from the doldrums of holiday programming with A Very Gaga Thanksgiving.

The show was a strange mix of classic holiday styling and over-the-top Gaga. I was actually surprised by the lack of cray-cray; but of course there was a bit. During a piano rendition of Hair, Gaga gradually added more and more wigs to her head until she resembled that dude from the kid's book about the guy who wore lots of hats.

That's the one. 

And I'm not quite sure how Bad Romance fits in with Thanksgiving. But it was the moments where Gaga demonstrated her jazzy swinging side that really impressed. The show kicked off with an appearance from Tony Bennett and a duet version of The Lady is a Tramp that blew my socks off. And around the middle, Gaga sang Orange Colored Sky to fit in with the autumn theme which was fabulous. Remember how Rob Stewart was releasing all those Great American Songbook CDs? After watching the Thanksgiving special, I hope that one day soon Gaga does the same. Our newest tv slut, Clovis, had it right when he said her voice was made for the blues. 

The special was filmed in Gaga's old elementary school--a private Catholic school that is apparently the most opulent school EVER. The special would cut between full dance and band performances (restrained from her usual pageant though) with diners sprinkled throughout, to Gaga at the piano alone or with just a few onlookers. There were also some segments of Gaga doing crafts with children, Gaga chatting with Katie Couric, or Gaga cooking with a famous chef; in Valentino no less. 

 Fried turkey and waffles...mmmm.

Oh, and as for the fashion: girl looked FIERCE. She pulled out the classy stops on this one--looking suave, expensive, and appropriate. I guess Grandma wouldn't really get it if Gaga hatched herself from an egg like on the Grammys.

In short, the special had a lot of surprises, some amazing songs, a couple of cheesy moments, and the telling of some pretty emotional stories, usually when Gaga was talking about her family. If you missed it I would recommend looking for it online--especially if you want to hear what Gaga sounds like unplugged with some real meaty American classics. And I don't just mean the turkey.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recapping AHS: Less Teeth! Less Teeth!

We being in 1994 with Constance talking to Burning Man, only he is unburned and being sympathetic. She says “they” are going to charge her with childhood neglect and take her boy away from her. Unburned Man says he loves her (!) and will do anything. Constance gets all steely and says, “then do it, like we discussed.” He goes to the attic and sees a red ball rolling across the floor to him from the darkness, just like Addie used to always see. Burning man talks gently to “Beau”, a severely disfigured boy who is chained to the wall. Burning Man quotes Shakespeare and then stabs the kid when his back is turned. And the ghost meter climbs.

Act I! Ben and Vivien are with the doctor and Viv wants to know, only half-jokingly, if the baby has hooves in the latest ultrasound. Doc says nope, perfectly healthy, and oh btw it’s actually twins! Surprise! (I will love this show forever if one of them looks like Ben and the other actually comes out looking like a gimp. This show is just crazy enough to pull that off, too.) Back home, the real estate agent is showing the house to a sleazy stereotype straight out of central casting. Sleazy encounters SexyMoira and innuendos all over the place. Moira is more than willing to play this game, encouraging him to dig up that damn gazebo and put in a pool because she “likes it deep.” Uh huh. Whatever, he asks them to call him, but Burning Man, now burned again, is in the kitchen saying he also wants to buy the house. The agent overreacts and pulls a gun from her purse, saying many men would like to rape her if they had the chance. Personally, I think she’s overreacting and, more importantly, so does Vivien who offers to show Burning Man around the house. Later, Vivien retreats upstairs and tries to sleep but somehow she’s having sex with the Security Guy instead but then it’s not him, it’s Ben but no, it’s really the Gimp again. Gimp gets around. Then the sex gets less sexy and more rape-y but then it was all a dream. Meanwhile, Violet is in the bathroom trying to cut her wrists but Tate stops her. He asks if she believes in ghosts and Violet is all, “um…” At dinner, Violet sasses her parents about their impending divorce and talks more about suicide. Vivien mentions that Burning Man wants to buy the house and Ben looses his cool. The next day, Sleazy comes back with only Moira in the house, who takes him to Violet’s bedroom and gives him a blowjob. Afterwards, Ben meets them in the hallway and Sleazy says the reason he wants to buy the house is to tear it down and turn it into apartments.

Everyone does their part to help sell this house, okay?

Act II! Burning Man is in his own apartment and Ben is stalking him for a change. Burning Man wants the house because it was the last place he was truly happy. Flashing back to 1994, Unburned Man confesses to his wife that he’s in love with Constance and thinks Wife should take the girls so he can move Constance in. Wife seems to actually take this pretty well, considering, except later that night she sets fire to the house, presumably killing herself and the girls and scarring Burning Man. Back in the present, Vivien takes the Murder Tour again to learn more about Dr. Montgomery and Lady Macbeth – turns out the Doc actually got their dismembered baby somehow back to life by using the heart of one of “their girls”. Lady Macbeth sees for herself in the nursery and the kid just ain’t right. When she comes back downstairs, she has blood on her shirt and says that the kid wants nursing, but it’s not milk he’s after anymore and that she tried to kill it, but it can’t die. Lady Macbeth produces a gun and shoots her husband in the head before putting the gun in her own mouth.

Act III! Back at the hospital, Vivien says she’s been feeling ill anytime she leaves the house, but once she goes home it’s all fine again. Plot point! In the house, Constance meets Burning Man in the basement, maybe because Starbucks was too far? Burning Man still loves her, but she taunts him with her new boy toy and says he’s weak for letting the house get the better of him. Burning Man tells her the new owner will tear the house down and what happens to the ghosts then? In the attic, Violet sees the red ball rolling toward her before the ghost of Beau attacks her. Tate is there and shoos his brother away, telling Violet all she needs to do is tell the ghosts to go away and they will. Then Tate shows her a stash of gay porn he found in the wall that he says is hot but he’s totally not gay, as well as a box of old photos of the house. The murdered ghost nurse shows up, but Violet dismisses her successfully.

Act IV! Constance visits Sleazy and reiterates what is becoming another theme of the show, how often people move from the east to California. She tells him he can’t tear the house down, but Sleazy says the only thing he wants from women is either sex or a sandwich, so which is she going to give him? And oh HELL NO, you do NOT talk to Constance like that.

Let's all congratulate ourselves for hating on a completely one-dimensional character.

At the house, Constance comes looking for Tate, but he recoils saying that the therapy has helped him realize how much he hates her. Watching Jessica Lange go from evil bitch to shattered mother in the space of two minutes is honestly one of the best things about this show. Constance finds Beau in the attic and comforts him, saying she won’t let them take him from her and calling him her “beautiful boy.” You’d think maybe things would have been better if she’d shown her dead children this much affection when they were alive. Constance confronts Moira about the house, Moira falsely believing if Sleazy buys it, he’ll find her body in the backyard. Constance tells her about his plans to tear the house down and they scheme. That night, Sleazy returns for more blowjobs. Moira leads him to the basement. That basement sees more plot than Eric Forman’s. Anyway, pants off; Moira on her knees; moaning. Sleazy winces, saying, “less teeth” and we can quickly see exactly where this is going. As Sleazy screams in pain, Burning Man suffocates him with a plastic bag. Constance watches, saying she finally has an appreciation for Moira’s “talents” and to ditch the body before he dies because no one wants a dickless real estate developer haunting the place. Because that would be silly. Upstairs, Violet shows Viven the old pictures she and Tate found and Vivien sees the picture of Lady Macbeth, remembering her as the person touring the place a few weeks ago. Gasp!

Next week – we learn who the gimp is and Spock returns. Exciting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

News-y Update! Bryan Fuller's Munsters Is On!

As we "reported" about a year ago, Bryan Fuller of Pushing Daisies fame has been developing a reboot of the classic TV show The Munsters. News came in today that it's now official: NBC has picked up the Pilot. The full story is here.

I've said before, I'm completely in favor of this. Bryan Fuller is kind of like the family-safe version of Tim Burton; an alternate reality version of the man where instead of growing up hiding in his room because he was frightened of suburbia, he actually had a circle of friends in high school. Fuller has proven himself really adept at mashing up sweet and innocent with a really wicked dark streak underneath it all. I'm looking forward to seeing how "striking visuals mixed with classic archetypes" plays out for him in this case.

Fuller, seen here accepting bets on how often the word "kooky" gets used in the first episode.

The natural question to ask, obviously, is who is the world could possibly take the role Herman Munster and do it seriously. Fred Gwynne was that role for so many people and there just aren't a lot of actors out there with the right physicality because Hollywood is convinced for some reason that every person must be between 5'5 and 5'10. Although I could see Christopher Lloyd doing a pretty awesome Grandpa.

And seriously. Hire Betty Draper as the scary one. We all know it's a perfect fit.