Monday, January 30, 2012

Revisionist History with Maggie Q

Ever somewhat late to the game, I’ve been taking advantage of my Netflix subscription to watch season one of Nikita, the CW spy show that is now in it’s second season. My fellow TV Sluts have talked about Nikita before, but since it’s been a while and, as far as I know, I’m the only one who’s watched more than an episode or two, I wanted to reflect on a couple of things about it.

The first is, like all the other reviews here have mentioned, that despite seeming like a pretty tired conceit, the show manages to kick some serious ass. The acting, for the most part, is solid and believable and the plotting and pacing of the show make it fun to watch. There isn’t a lot that’s truly innovative in terms of bringing much new to the scene (hot chick who kicks butt getting revenge on a secretive and high-tech pseudo-government hit squad is pretty much standard femme fatale fair for the spy genre), but it gets points for delivering the required notes well. Also, I re-read what I just wrote and realized that it says something about my entertainment choices that I’m even comfortable using all those nouns in the same sentence.

The big thought that I had watching this show, however, was something along the lines of, “Damn. This is what Dollhouse should have been.”

Also? Less Eliza Dushku. Kthanx.

Dollhouse suffered from two things – the lack of interest in a main character that was constantly becoming someone else and Joss Whedon being a notorious slow-starter. Anyone watching Dollhouse knows that by the time we got to the part about why we should care, namely the brilliant post-apocalyptic future that the Dollhouse technology would create, it was hard to go back to the mission-of-the-week episodes. What viewers needed to see right at the start was Echo already trying to take down the Dollhouse and already struggling with what it meant to be a new personality stuffed into some other girl’s body. Instead, we got a season and a half of just wondering how it was that Echo was going to start to lose her shit with each mission. Nikita, by contrast, gets to jump right in to the interesting stuff on her show. And, really, how she broke out isn’t nearly as interesting as what she’s doing to do now as a damaged nobody with no real skills except for infiltration and murder. Following her through season 1 as she struggles with wanting to exact her revenge but also rebuild herself back into an actual human being and not just a programmed killer is honestly compelling. Had that kind of ex post facto development been applied to Dollhouse, I’m convinced the show would have done better.

So, for people like me, the fans of Dollhouse who don’t have a lot of promotional options aside from being crabby little cheerleaders for a show that could have been awesome but ultimately never really got on its feet, Nikita offers a nice, cozy alternate reality version of the show, one that has the same intrigue and overarching sense of dread, but without all the sloppy plotting. And, thankfully, no Fox Entertainment executives.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is The Finder a keeper?

There's a midseason replacement on Fox, called The Finder. It's a spin-off of the popular (at least with this reviewer) Bones. It's pilot was actually an episode of Bones late last season, and it survived in mostly its original form until it was picked up in January.

The show isn't bad. I've seen the first three episodes, and there's good stuff there. The main character is "quirky" but actually manages to pull it off without being annoying or trite. Who knows how long it will take until it gets old, but it hasn't yet (and the quirkiness of Temperance Brennan from its parent show has yet to stop amusing me). The mystery and the twists aren't bad. Here, however, are the weaknesses that the show is going to have to overcome.

It's incredibly formulaic. Not quite as bad as House, but bad. Thus far, it's been a little "fairy tale" with its happy endings. And then there's Willa.

Teen angst. Apparently "in" this year.

What I don't get about Willa is that she doesn't seem to be a part of the actual show. Every other character plays some role in the eponymous "finding." Willa tends to wander off and do her own little storyline and occasionally get some advice from the main characters. She's not, in my opinion, particularly likable. Objectively, her life isn't as bad as they treat it like it is, and I simply lack sympathy. She strikes me as the boring genre of tragic heroine whose flaw is that she simply goes with the flow and does what's expected of her and what's easiest so she doesn't have to think or make any decisions. I know far too many people like that in real life, and talking with them makes me want to smack them one. Why would I watch that in a TV show?

A big draw is the love interest, Isabel, a Deputy US Marshal. Refreshingly unpretentious, she and The Finder are already in a relationship of casual sex when the series starts. I could be alone, but I am bored with the traditional "will they/won't they" and I'm grateful for the change-up. She also pulls off that difficult trick of being very powerful without giving up one iota of femininity. Her squeal of glee at getting a beautiful pair of designer shoes increases to a cackle of delight when she discovers that they are knock-offs, and she'll be able to bring in the counterfeiter. There's also something else I like about her, but I'm having trouble putting it into words...


In short, I'm gonna keep watching it for a while. It's good, and I definitely recommend watching the Bones pilot and the three episodes that are currently available on (just search for The Finder, and the Bones episode will pop up, too). I'm just not holding out a ton of hope that it'll really draw me in.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sherlock, Series 2 - now with even more hoyay!

Let's not dwell on the fact that I've seen the first episode of Sherlock already, though it's not due to air on BBC America for some months yet. You don't ask, I won't tell. What I will tell is this - it's bloody brilliant. Spoilers ahead!

Moriarty: "Oh no!" 
Me: "Oh, yes."

The first episode, A Scandal in Belgravia, focuses on the one of the very few significant female characters in all of the Holmes canon: "The" Woman, aka Irene Adler. While the original Ms. Adler only appeared in one short story, she exhibits a keen intellect and nerves of steel - in short, the very qualities Holmes so admires in himself. In the end, she is able to get the better of Holmes and he ever after regards her as the finest example of the fairer sex.

Modern audiences, however, would never be satisfied with this somewhat bloodless admiration. They want romance, they want passion. In short, they want sex. So Sherlock gives the people what they want with a lusty lesbian Ms. Adler, a dominatrix who's sideline is selling national secrets. To be honest, I was a bit miffed that the (all male, mind you) writing team felt that they needed to make sexuality Ms. Adler's defining characteristic. But then this happened...
Ms. Adler: Are you jealous?
John: We're not a couple.
Ms. Adler: Yes you are.
John: Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but for the record, if anyone out there still cares - I'm not actually gay.
Ms. Adler: Well, I am. Look at us both.

And we both know who's taking him home. 

The implication being that neither Ms. Adler nor John swing Sherlock's way - yet, they both seem to love him. We later find out that Ms. Adler is attracted to Sherlock - her admiration for his intellect rises above her sexual preference. Will John follow suit someday? No, probably not. But this definitely gives the fan-fic writers plenty to work with. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - hoyay keeps the fan base strong.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Glee Squee-cap by Monkey Sri

Several days late... or just leaving time for people to catch up via the internet? You be the judge.

We open with a Mercedes/Sam remake of "Summer Loving" from Grease. This is one role that I think Rachel would actually be better in - Sandy is insufferable, high-maintenance, and has a super annoying voice. The high point for me, of course, when Kurt pipes in with the classic Rizzo line, "Cause he sounds like a drag."

Getting to the main story line, this episode is ostensibly about Will asking Emma to marry him. Yadda yadda yadda, Ginger supremacist parents cause Will to have doubts, yadda yadda yadda, synchronized swimming proposal and Emma says yes. The more interesting story line, IMHO, is the fact that Becky (head cheerleader and Sue's sidekick) decides to pursue Artie romantically.

It definitely made me uncomfortable, but I thought it was well done. Artie calls the Gleeks out about how they talk about acceptance, but they don't seem to extend that to Becky because she has Down syndrome. And he's perfectly happy to spend some time with Becky - inviting her to a rehearsal, taking her to Breadsticks. But when Becky hints that she wants something more physical, Artie freaks and runs to Sue for advice. She promptly schools him by saying what she always does - Becky just wants to be treated like everyone else, and he should tell her how he feels. In the end, Becky's heart is broken, and we've all taken a few minutes to question our assumptions about people with intellectual disabilities.

In other news, this episode was somewhat Kurt-light and Rachel-heavy - including a eye-roll inducing proposal from Finn to Rachel as the last scene. Will she say yes?!? Who the hell cares? I WANT MORE KURT AND BLAINE, DAMMIT!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That’s All She Wrote – Summarizing Season 1 of AHS

Ah, Murder House. We hardly knew ye. With the end of Season 1, we find ourselves with something of a rarity in modern television – a complete story. Not wanting to leave it all behind too quickly, I offer a few thoughts and ruminations on the Little Season That Could (Seriously Prove It Could Out-Crazy Everything You Thought).

Classic family fun!

First, let’s start with the big revelation that while American Horror Story will indeed be back for a season two, the creators have revealed that not only will the next season feature a new story, but also a new family and a new location, one that is supposedly heavily hinted at in the final episodes. (My money is on Virginia as a new location. Constance seemed to love it there.) Confounding it all even more, apparently some of the actors we’ve seen through season one will return playing new parts. Just proving once again that with this show, the crazy doesn’t have to end with the brain-eating pregnancy.

I’m actually in favor of this move. With the season leaving the Harmons all dead, but finally happy, I can’t say that I was too excited about seeing them becoming some kind of ghostly avengers throughout season 2. Plus, keeping the cast while changing the story, effectively making them into something like a rep company, is certainly innovative.

But enough of this insider, Industry talk. Now that we’ve seen an entire story from this show, it’s fair to ask what was this whole thing really about? There are a couple of very firmly established themes – the most obvious being childbirth and motherhood. Every single female character, with the possible exception of Addie, has some kind of direct exposure to motherhood, whether that’s the literal pregnancies of characters like Hayden and Vivien or the more ephemeral ruminations on being a mother that were slyly given to Moira and even Violet, once she realized that as a ghost, she would never grow old and have a child herself. The show has no qualms about needling at the fear of motherhood, something that a lot of people actually have. The creators of the show even specifically mentioned Rosemary’s Baby, the ultimate motherhood-as-horror tale, as an inspiration when writing the storyline.

GAH! BABY! KILL IT WITH FIRE! Oh hey wait...

Another theme that comes across more subtly, if anything about this show could be called subtle, is the theme of relocation and, by extension, how California is a land of transplants. All of our significant characters began their lives on the Eastern seaboard before moving to Los Angeles. The Harmons relocate from Boston after Ben’s affair, only to be followed by Hayden who does the same. Constance makes numerous references to having grown up in Virginia, a proper southern belle. Even Norah Montgomery (Lady Macbeth, as I’ve been calling her) is a member of Philadelphia society before being uprooted and brought to the wasteland of culture that is 1920s southern California. Unfortunately, this theme isn’t really developed much insomuch as it serves to draw a significant point about the most major theme of the show, home ownership and how owning someone else’s house means you may be literally keeping a part of them and their emotional baggage with you.

It makes sense that in 2011, a show called American Horror Story would be about the very real, very common and very normal fear of being trapped in a house that you can’t get out of, not because of a demonic force that doesn’t want you to leave, but because your own finances are working against you. Early on in the recaps I made a crack about how the scariest thing about this show was the Los Angeles housing market, but it points to how much we in modern America have come to fear the things that are supposed to make us feel safe – owning a home, having a child, raising a family. Effective horror stories have always been about making the safe feel scary; that’s why so many of them from the 80s and 90s were set in suburbia, rather than in the dark forests. We’ve become too discriminating in how we view horror and we have too many smart ways of getting out of sticky problems in our heads. We all know to avoid the bear in the woods or the shark in the water. It’s much creepier when the thing we have to avoid is the place where we’re supposed to feel comfortable.

A completely un-ironic view of the longevity of the American dream.

So while AHS certainly was never a show that pulled its punches, I do think it has been effective in that it picked up on the zeitgeist to help us see what scares us the most right now. For that reason alone, I’m looking forward to seeing what Season 2 scares up for us.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Firm

Since I'm a lawyer, people assume I'm a big John Grisham fan. The truth is, I've read maybe two or three of his books, but wasn't really impressed. Perhaps it's because I was reading them when I was younger, but I found them overly complicated and wasn't really emotionally invested in any of the characters.

The movie, The Firm, however, will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first R-rated movie that my Mom took me to see in the theater and I remember she covered my eyes at the sex scene. When I was 13 years old (in 1993). Still, I appreciate her taking me to see something that was rated well above my age group. Though now that I think about it, she probably took me because she wanted to see it and didn't have anyone to go with her.

But no matter. The point is, it's been almost 20 years since the film version of The Firm came out, so when NBC decided to make a prime time drama of the same name I was kind of perplexed. Was there some kind of public outcry for a tv show to revisit a story that was relevant almost a generation ago? Or is NBC just so desperate for shows that they are digging far into the bottom of the barrel?

Whatever the answer to that question, the outcome is a positive one because the two hour pilot to the firm didn't suck--in fact, it was kind of good.  I realize that many critics disagree with me on this point (including Mo Ryan, whom if you don't read you really should), but hey. I didn't get to have a blog that has 17 followers by going along with what everyone else said. And I liked The Firm, so there.

Of course, it seems the American people disagree with me since almost nobody watched it. Oh, well.

FYI, this is how all lawyers look out of windows. They teach us this at law school so we will appear as creepy as possible.

You should watch the show and then maybe it will stick around! Here are the basics: Josh Lucas (the cute guy from Sweet Home Alabama) plays Mitch McDeere, a lawyer. Shocker. We pick up ten years after the events of the book and film, where Mitch worked undercover for the feds to bring down a powerful and shady law firm with huge mob connections. Turns out after he got the necessary evidence to get the firm for overbilling (apparently the new mail fraud), the big mob boss who was represented by the firm decided that Mitch and his family had to go and put out a hit on him. So Mitch, his wife and kid, his private investigator brother, and his feisty Girl Friday assistant (played by Juliette Lewis) all go into witness protection. 10 years later, the mob boss is dead, and Mitch decides it's time to come out of hiding and become a sole practitioner working on criminal law and tort cases.

That's where the tv series picks up.

Turns out Mitch has a friend from law school who works for a big firm in town and wants him to join to create their criminal law division. The pilot is concerned with several subplots, namely: will Mitch once again join a big firm? Is the mob still out to get him and his family? How short will Juliette Lewis' skirts get? And why is EVERY LAW FIRM EVIL?

The pilot also concerned itself with a couple of Mitch's current cases, so you get your dose of legal drama. Including a case involving a young girl that may explain why that new law firm is so eager to add Mitch to their payroll....

What do you mean the mob is trying to kill us? We're so likeable!
Overall, I thought the show was enjoyable. The actors are all good, oh and it totally has Six from Battlestar Galactica! It's always nice to see Tricia Helfer again. In fact, there are a lot of familiar faces here. But anyway, the show made deft use of flashbacks to explain things to the viewer (most of which I already told you here), and I think it's worth checking out. I want to know more about the mysteries surrounding the new firm and I think Mitch's cases and associates are interesting. I'm not sure this will ever rise to the level of say MUST SEE TV, but a solid drama with twists and turns may be just what the doctor ordered. And who doesn't love a good old evil corporation?

The Firm airs Thursdays at 10pm on NBC.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Downton Abbey: the costumes may not be as ornate, but the drama is still ripe.

You guys. YOU GUYS. Downton Abbey is back!

Most of the girls reading this are going, "SQUEE!" and most of the guys are going, "whaaaa?"

Downton Abbey, Masterpiece's latest BBC costume drama import, has become something of a sensation here in the US.  Women (and gay men) all over the country swooned over the amazing costumes, the relationships, the upstairs/downstairs drama, and the breathtaking scenery of Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed.

After a long wait, the second season finally began airing on Masterpiece Classic* last night, and without hardly a chance to breathe we are dropped right back into the action. Literally, as we start the second season with the heir-apparent to Downton, Matthew Crawley, fighting for survival in the trenches of France. Last season ended with the announcement that Britain and Germany were at war, but with the current season WWI is properly underway and all the young men of Downton are potential soldiers. Mr. Carson, the head butler, sees his male staff gradually whittled away for one reason or another, and things at the manor house are changing--for better or worse.

I won't give away a lot of the plot movement and twists here, I figure if you have made it this far in the post you probably watch the show and if you don't WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.

The season premiere set a stunning number of subplots in motion and saw many of our characters making big changes. I thought it interesting how this season so many of the plots circle around outside forces--the war, people arriving at Downton, etc. Last season it seemed most of the drama came from Downton itself, and the question of who would inherit when the current Lord (and Earl) Grantham kicked the bucket. Of course when an outsider did come it was drama-rific (Mr. Pamuk, anyone?) but this season the war is driving everything. Which, hello, it was the War to End Wars. Of course it's touching every facet of British life.

To sum up: last night's episode was meaty, with the characters constantly moving and making decisions. Not always smart decisions (EDITH) but sometimes really excellent ones (Sybil). A lot of new doors have opened and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Did I mention Maggie Smith is in the show?
Oh, and for those who are about the clothes (which is basically everyone who watches the show), I love how we are gradually moving into flapper territory. Or as close as British landed gentry would get to flapper. It was also interesting to see how even the upstairs folks are starting to dress more simply--I don't know if you heard, but there is a war on. 


*May I just point out that I thought dividing Masterpiece Theater into a bunch of smaller segments a few years ago was kind of dumb? People don't think of it as Masterpiece Classic or Masterpiece Mystery. They think of it as Masterpiece Theater. Except now we don't get the full theme song. Which is the first movement from Jean-Joseph Mouret's First Suite in D, in case you were wondering. I might have it on my iPod. Shut up.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Secret Boyfriend of the Week: It's elementary, my dear tv slut!

We're all big old nerds here at the tv blog. It's no good denying it, I think the ship has pretty much sailed on that one. So is it at all surprising that we're big fans of the BBC series Sherlock (which airs over here on Masterpiece on PBS)?

Probably not.

After all, you've got adorable British boys, logic, snark, and a modern update of classic British literature.

And what do you think would happen if it was announced the Sherlock himself was going to join the biggest sci-fi franchise in the world? Because that is exactly what happened. Sherlock, i.e. Benedict Motherfucking Cumberbatch has signed on to the new J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek movie.


The internet rumor mill is going full force in the wake of the announcement, with people predicting that Cumberbatch will be taking the role of Khan* that was originally going to be played by Benecio del Toro. Whether it's Khan or not, seeing Cumberbatch play a villain is definitely on my wish list. Add to that Star Trek, and well I think I might be coming down with the vapors. Where's that fainting couch I ordered?

And I didn't even tell you yet about how he is the voice and motion capture actor for the dragon, Smaug, in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.

This picture is so wrong. And yet, hilarious.


Monday, January 02, 2012

Recapping AHS: Season Finale!

This is it, you guys – the season finale. Apologies for the long post, but the episode was a big one and it ran longer than earlier ones. Does the big finish crazy do justice to the long, strange trip we’ve seen so far? Check it out…

We begin with our weekly dose of flashback irony, as Vivien prepares to leave Ben nine months ago in Boston. Intercut between their sad debate about whether or not they’ve tried enough to keep the marriage together, we see clips from the past 12 episodes. Ben insists that moving together to the new house will restore their hope. Connie Britton nails this scene, crying softly while her idiot husband drones on in rose-colored tones about how great life will be there. Cut to today as Ben frantically searches the house for the ghosts of his wife and daughter, unable to find them.

Act I! Constance has been babysitting the newest Harmon for Ben until after Vivien’s funeral. She is insistent that the kid not be allowed back into the house. Ben says they’ll be fine and Constance asks what we’ve all wanted to ask Ben since this started – “after all you’ve seen, how can you still be so blind?” Flashback to a few months ago, Ben calls Constance to say he can no longer see Tate after he started going into Violet’s room. Addie is coloring at the kitchen table. This is important simply because Addie is awesome. In the house, Vivien is adjusting to ghost life and chatting with Old Moira, who reminds her that Ben can’t see her unless she wants him to, so kindly stop hiding under the table every time he walks into the room. Moira suggests that maybe Vivien’s keeping herself so involved because she wants Ben to see her, but Vivien says she and Violet will not to appear to him because they want him to leave with the baby and raise him somewhere safe. Vivien asks Moira to make her some tea, but Moira gently tells her no, saying that they are equals now and she can get it herself. Later, Ben tells the baby that everything will be okay and his aunt will be there for him soon. Then Ben lays out the keys to the house and puts a gun to his head. Before he can pull the trigger, Vivien appears and stops him. She tells him she forgives him and that the baby needs a father. Violet joins her echoing the call for Ben to leave. Ben fetches the baby, but is stopped on the stairs by Hayden and the two home invaders, who throw a rope around Ben’s neck, hanging him from the chandelier and killing him.

Pictured: The Audience's ambivalence about Ben's fate.

Act II! It is several months later and Marcie the real estate agent is showing the house to Miguel and Stacy Ramos and their teenage son Gabe. Stacy wants to know why the house is priced so cheap. Marcie whitewashes the story of the Harmons as a “tragic love story”, which I’m betting was the rejected first name for this show. Gabe is fine with it, saying he doesn’t believe in ghosts and takes his own tour of the house on his skateboard before getting tripped up by the exploding snaps from the two 70s twins who promptly vanish.

Act III! The two LAPD Detectives are back, apparently having moved on from “solving” Travis’s murder to trying to figure out what happened to Violet. Constance recounts how she found Ben’s body shortly after he died. Flashing back, Ben and Vivien are reunited in death while Constance is pissed that the child is missing. Constance finds the baby in the basement (natch) being cradled by Hayden. Travis slits Hayden’s throat and gives the baby to Constance. Constance lies to the police, saying she believes that Violet ran away with him, when in fact the little tyke/demon is upstairs taking a nap. Back in the house, Gabe finds Violet in his (formerly her) room, listening to his music, which she deems awful. She introduces herself as “a ghost of my former self” and a neighbor and flirts while Tate watches from a distance. Downstairs, Miguel and Stacy put together their kitchen before getting intimate and talking about maybe having another child. Ben and Vivien are watching all of this and can see right where this is headed. They decide that the Ramoses can’t suffer the same fate as them and they need to do something. Moira offers to help, saying that while the house has many spirits, not all of them are angry or vengeful.

Act IV! Miguel, waking from a sound sleep, leaves his bedroom in a trance to go downstairs and play with fire, just as Ben once did. Stacy is left alone when the Gimp appears. Stacy screams and runs down the hall, only to have Beau suddenly jump at her from the trapdoor to the attic. Downstairs, Vivien and Burning Man’s wife tell Miguel that he needs to wake up and save his family. Young Moira leads him to the dining room, where the grotesquely carved up Black Dahlia tells him this isn’t a dream. Upstairs, Stacy is hiding in the bathroom when one of the murdered nurses comes out of the water. She is chased by the Gimp into the basement, where she finds Miguel. Vivien stops the Gimp who reveals that he is Ben. Vivien scolds Ben for “preying on the new meat” before they’re barely moved in, then she eviscerates his torso, spilling his entrails onto the floor. Yes, for realz. Vivien gets a wicked moment where she gets to say to the Ramoses, “you have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to do that.” Vivien, once again, is the audience surrogate. Ben responds by shooting her in the head. Now utterly gory, they turn to the Ramoses, telling them both to run. In Gabe’s room, Tate attacks Gabe with a knife, saying he has to kill him for Violet. Violet appears, telling him she wants to say goodbye to him, distracting him enough for Gabe to run. Once he’s gone, Violet vanishes, leaving Tate alone. As the Ramoses all flee the house in fear, the Harmons watch from the porch, lamenting that some other poor family will just move in next.

Act V! Marcie is again selling the house and getting pissed that it’s still on the Murder tour. Inside, Ben is cleaning up his former office. Tate appears asking if they can talk, but Ben calls him a psychopath and says he’s not worth it. He also says psychology doesn’t work, which actually explains why it was that Ben was so terrible at it. Tate tries to apologize, finally admitting to all his crimes, but to no avail. Elsewhere in the deserted house, Vivien hears a baby crying in the basement. She finds her stillborn infant son in the arms of Lady Macbeth, who clearly has no aptitude for parenting, but insists that the child is hers because “arrangements were made.” Vivien convinces her to let her hold him and the child settles as she sings to him. Vivien brings him to the kitchen where Moira is cleaning out of boredom. Vivien asks if she’d be willing to be his Godmother, calling Moira a “great addition to the family.”

We don't often get to say this about this show, but "awwwww..."

Christmas music begins and we see the Harmons and Moira happily decorating a tree together using old ornaments they found in the attic while Hayden and Tate menace at them from the darkness of another room. We flash forward to three years later – Constance tells her hairdresser that she has adopted a young boy named Michael, the son of “distant cousins” who died in a car accident in Virginia. Constance says all the tragedy in her life was preparing her for Michael, himself destined for greatness and in need of a great mother. Coming home, Constance finds her nanny dead in a pool of blood while little Michael, resembling Tate, rocks in a chair with bloody hands and grins wickedly. “Now what am I going to do with you?” Constance mutters.

dun dun DUN!

Coming soon - Season 1 wrap up and what's ahead for Season 2?


Happy New Year, fellow tv sluts! I hope you rang in the new year in a fun and safe manner and are ready for a clean slate. I know I am.

So let's do this thing! First post of 2012. And what better way to do it then starting out with a most excellent HBO show all about second chances and finding the strength the change your own life. I'm talking about Enlightened, a show that I hadn't heard too much about when it aired, but now that the first season is over and award-season is starting, it seems to be generating a fair amount of buzz.

Here's the official description from HBO:
Amy (Laura Dern) is a self-destructive health and beauty executive who has a very public workplace meltdown. After three months of contemplation and meditation at a treatment center in Hawaii, Amy returns rested and ready to pick up the pieces of her old life and reshape the world she left behind. That includes delivering well-meaning, but generally unwanted advice to her mother Helen (Diane Ladd), with whom Amy is now living; her slacker ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) whose only solace comes from recreational drugs; and the crew of awkward co-workers Amy finds herself reassigned to.  The series follows Amy as she navigates an unconventional path between who she is, who she wants to be...and what everyone is willing to tolerate from her.
The "meltdown" in question is more of a psychotic break, but has the distinction of being hilarious, horrifying, and yet realistic all at once. This is the kind of thing that it's difficult to come back from, after all, yelling "I will kill you, you motherfucker!" at your boss is not the greatest strategy for career-advancement. 

Girl, we've all been there. Well, not literally there, but we've all felt like we've been there.

 My main concern was that when Amy came back from her spiritual retreat she would be a stereotypical hippie asshole. You know, the kind that looks down on everyone around them who isn't as spiritually awake and is totally judgey. But Amy's not like that all--she's just trying to make her way in a world that expects her to go batshit crazy at any moment.

The central arc of the show is whether it's actually possible to find spiritual peace living in our bullshit corporate world. Sure, it's easy to be one with the earth and your feelings while sitting on a deserted beach in Hawaii, but when you need to go back and meet with Human Resources at your giant company, can you maintain that serenity? And there's enough cracks in Amy that you see her struggle to maintain her cool. Sure, she sometimes loses it, but those are the most real moments.

I'm about halfway through the first season and so far I am loving the show and am super impressed with Laura Dern. Other than her role in Jurassic Park, there's not much she's done that's been on my radar, but this role (which she helped create) is something really special for her. Amy is a very flawed protagonist, but darn it, you can't help but root for her. Don't we all dream about becoming the best possible version of ourselves? It's not a question of whether Dern will be nominated come awards time, only whether it will be in the drama or comedy category. Personally, I think the show is more of a drama; the humor is more of the "pointing out the foibles of normal life" variety rather than "oops I fell off my chair."

If you've got HBO, you can catch Enlightened on On Demand, and it's Netflix and DVD releases are pending.

Happy New Year, and maybe this show can help you keep those resolutions.

Apparently spiritual retreats are great for your hair. Sign me up! I can kumbaya with the best of them.