Friday, May 31, 2013

Hemlock Grove

Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that Netflix is getting into original programming. They've got an engrossing political drama with House of Cards and a cult-favorite comedy with new episodes of Arrested Development. But how are they going to capture that ever-elusive young male demographic?

Let's see...I know! Monsters, teenagers, and boobs!

And credit where it's due, Hemlock Grove is actually way more than just monsters, teenagers, and boobs. It has a depth of storytelling that frankly surprised me. But it's still kind of derivative. Not of cheesy horror slasher flicks, but of the whackadoo twisty scariness that has become its own horror subgenre. I'm talking Twin Peaks and American Horror Story style horror--where you have to pack as much "WTF" and "Huh?" into an episode as you can. Hemlock Grove has that part down. WTF truly abound.

In case you aren't familiar with what I'm talking about, here are the plot basics (no real spoilers here):
In the shadows of a rusted Pennsylvania steel town, the mangled body of a teenage girl is discovered. As they hunt for a monster among them, rumors mount and many of the eccentric residents become suspects, from the newly arrived gypsy family to the wealthy Godfrey clan. In the twisted world of Hemlock Grove, everyone hides a dark secret. From director Eli Roth (“Hostel”) comes a chilling supernatural series based on Brian McGreevy’s novel.
The two main characters are both teenage guys; one is the recently arrived in town, Peter Rumancek, whom everyone instantly believes is a werewolf because his index finger is longer than his middle finger. Yes, really. Also, he and his Mom are gypsies, so there is a lot of gypsy racism. Yes, really that too. Side-note: is being a full-on gypsy still, like, a thing? That people know enough about to be racist about? Because this is news to me. Anyway, the other main character is Roman Godfrey, the rich, lazy, and weirdly fetal looking heir to the Godfrey empire which is currently run by his mother, Olivia Godfrey. Oh, Roman has a thing for blood and is saved from being a horrible person due to the love, kindness, and fierce protection he shows for his giant, mute, possibly part-cyborg younger sister.

Cue the "huh?" comments we talked about earlier.

That's Roman. Did I mention he's played by a Skarsgard? Buzz Feed gives him 8 skars on their Skarsgard hotness ranking. Please check out that link btw. It's amazing.

And don't let the Eli Roth name check turn you off--there is some gore here, but it's nowhere

near the torture-porn levels that his movies are known for. Most of it is telegraphed and you can close your eyes, hide behind the Pillow of Fear (PoF). For the most part, you aren't going to see anything worse than you would on all those network crime procedurals. 

I think it's fair to say that Hemlock Grove is basically Diet Twin Peaks (tastes great, less filling). There's a lot of similarities: set in a small remote town filled with obviously crazy people, supernatural stuff going on that people seem to accept as normal, a large cast of teenagers and adults whose lives all intersect, an out of state investigator, and a central murder mystery that drives the action.

Or should drive the action. Because the problem with Hemlock Grove is that when things are NOT focused on the big question: "who is killing all these young girls?" then things tend to meander. And wander. And become unfocused. Just like these sentences! Sure, there are other questions and mysteries at work here, and I was actually surprised we got as many answers as we did, but the hunt for the killer should be the main focus of the season. Things don't really pick up until the third episode when Dr. Clementine Chasseur, an investigator from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (yes, really--what, was the FBI busy?), arrives in town and starts doing some digging. But then she's in and out of the story and it's not clear where things are heading.

Having said all that, there was a good amount of resolution in the final episodes and I devoured the entire series over a weekend. If there is a season 2, I'll watch it.  It may not have the cultural impact of Twin Peaks, or be as scary as American Horror Story, but there was enough in Hemlock Grove to keep me coming back for more. If you're a fan of the genre, I say give it a try. Otherwise, you might want to look for something else for your summer viewing.

They're so polite in Pennsylvania!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Margarine Is Indestructible

Beware of all caps. I got unreasonably excited during this episode, so if all caps or excessive exclamation points bothers you or hurts your eyes, abandon all hope ye who enter here. And suchlike.

Vamos a empezar.


We begin this week's episode with a board meeting to strategize the SCDP frankenfat presentation.

One part dick-measuring to two parts pissing contest. Dash of marking your territory. And stir.

Ted's strategy is to sell Fleischmann's on the taste factor, emphasizing that it costs more than Blue Bonnet because it tastes better. Don disagrees and thinks they should take the stance that price is irrelevant because the question is whether or not margarine tastes better than butter (it doesn't). They argue about the market share, which is much higher than butter.  Pete thinks they should go on taste alone.

Don beckons Peggy and asks her which she'd choose if she were in the market for margarine (blech), and Peggy responds that she'd buy the cheaper one. Ted asks which one she thinks would taste better, the cheaper one or the more expensive one. Pete chimes in to say they can't tell the client their product is expensive, and Peggy's trying to figure out which person in the room she'd rather side with, and which person is actually in charge, so she demurs from making an actual choice. Really didn't matter to her, leaving Don and Ted annoyed that she didn't side with either of them. Well, that was certainly a...creative response, Peggy. Now how about something useful? 

Did we miss something here?

I bet Peggy doesn't even buy margarine. And look at those lamps! Hahaha!

Harry advises Pete to go see a head-hunter while things are going reasonably well for SCDP because Harry feels like SCDP is a hot mess.

Cut to Megan on the set of All My Children (or whatever), sporting terrible blonde wig, enacting an office scene (ha!). In true soap opera form, Megan is portraying Collette, her regular maid character's sister.  Apparently Collette is having an affair with Arlene's character's husband. Oh, irony. The director is giving Megan crap because he doesn't feel like Megan is making the two characters distinct enough. WTF. It's a crappy daytime soap, not the Orphan Black auditions.

Back at la oficina, Don walks into Peggy's office and wants to know why Peggy didn't look at the options they presented her in the meeting and form an opinion.  It's what professionals do. Don is such a dick. Don wants Peggy's opinion and Peggy doesn't want to give an opinion because does her opinion matter, really? Really, does it Don? Or do you and Ted just want to prove that one of you is right all the time? Peggy tells Don that Ted doesn't belittle her, and Don basically tells her to wait and he will. 

At a swank fundraising affair, Betty's out smoking in the hallway.  Henry's off making phone calls and over slinks some tux named Stuart, who hits on her. Betty rebuffs his advances, but he's insistent.  Betty's lost a pretty significant amount of weight and she's feeling much better about the way she looks. But Stuart can dream on.

I'm back, bitches.

Peggy comes home and finds that Abe has been stabbed. Stabbed. The police officer gives Abe a hard time because he won't identify the ethnicity of his attacker. Peggy is angry with Abe for not being more cooperative with the popos. Abe is angry with Peggy for siding with the "fascist pig" cops. Peggy tells Abe she's willing to let him do whatever he wants, and Abe gets even angrier with her. Peggy threatens to sell "this shithole."

Don comes home to his wife (for a change) and they awkwardly discuss their day. Megan explains to Don that she just can't manage  what the director is asking of her, and Don decides to skip dinner and go watch the teevee. Their marriage seems kinda ovah.

In a cab on the way home, Henry and Betty talk about the evening. Henry noticed that Betty received a lot of attention from admirers, particularly the pervy Stuart. Henry demands to know what Stuart said to her, and Betty demurely evades the question until Henry insists she tell him. This turns him on for some reason and they suck face in the car. 

At SCDP the next morning, Margaret has brought her son into work for him to spend the day with Grandpa Roger. Would he like to meet his Uncle Kevvy, I wonder? Playdate?

Over at Pete's, Pete's having a clandestine meeting. OMG, IT'S DUCK PHILLIPS!!! Remember Duck Phillips? Holy crap!  Pete is meeting with Duck at Pete's to talk business. Duck's found Bert Peterson a job. Duck offers a marketing job in Wichita and Pete's reluctant to move to Kansas. Duck's concerned about Pete's lack of a role in the management structure at SCDP and he wants to know what happened with Vick's. Ha!

Let's explore my humanity in a way in which I don't end up wearing a bathrobe all day and drooling.

Duck tells Pete if he can get to a higher position at SCDP, he can get him a better offer than Wichita. Pete wants to spend more time at the office, but Mother has run amok. 

Don's on his way to join the Francis fam for some family bonding to visit Bobby at his summer camp. Yes. Don Draper goes camping. It's like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Except more rustic.

Don pulls up at an Esso gas station out in BFE and calls for the attendant, who ignores him. He gets out of the car and repeats his request to the attendant for assistance, and the attendant is distracted by a fine female ass leaning into the front seat of her car. Don joins him the admiration. Please, dear Lord, let that be Betty. HAHAHA. OMG IT'S BETTY! YES!! 

Betty's lost, so she pulled over at this station to find Bobby's camp. WHICH HAPPENS TO BE THE SAME ESSO STATION THAT DON HAS PULLED INTO. PERFECT. Don has forgotten how hot Betty is Betty has forgotten how mad she is at Don. 

Howdy, lil lady. Are you lost?

They are hot for each other cordial as they try to figure out where they are going. The attendant gives Betty some directions and Betty wants to know if there are any street names. Of course there aren't any. You're in BFE. That's the point of camp, Betty. Don gallantly instructs Betty to follow him in his car. PLEASE, PLEASE LET THEM HAVE HATE SEX. PLEASE. 

Why, hello, stranger. 

Back at the office, Fleischmann's wants more market share figures. Ted drags Peggy into an office and asks her WTF she was doing during the presentation. Peggy said she was sticking to the plan. The plan where...the plan where she doesn't say anything to Don about his margarine idea... Right? Ted tells her, no, that's not what I meant, dammit!  She touched his hand during the presentation! Gasp! And then she smiled at him! Gasp! You can't do that, Peggy! I should never have kissed you. Peggy says she thought they were forgetting about that. Ted says he hasn't forgotten.  What an old tune. The boss in love with is protege. OMG!! He is in l'amour with her!! Squee!!

Pete asks for Joan's advice on a personal matter. He's trying to find his mom a nurse because Mother is proving difficult. Joan tells him she's not sure how she can help, but she will try. Then he tries to ask her out, unaware that Joan is now seeing Bob Benson.

This conversation isn't a vague come-on. Okay. Yes, it is. And it's also not necessarily vague.

The second half hour starts off with Megan's swingy costar Arlene arriving at Megan and Don's apartment. They have some wine and some girl chat, but who cares? We all want to see Don and Betty screw. 

Back at band camp, Don's trying his awkward best to be a better dad. Don's snuck some hooch into camp and sits on the porch with Betty. Don says he never went to camp and Betty reminds him that he's been to camp with her family. He meant during his shitty childhood during which they had to go to the bathroom in an outhouse and trap possums for dinner. Like every day. And not for funzies. Anyway, Betty talks about the time that Don went camping with the Hofstadt fam and Don got into an argument with Betty's dad. After which, Don and Betty went into the woods and made Sally. That explains so much. Don and Betty say goodnight, and Betty holds his outstretched hand for a moment. You think Don's going to go into her cabin, but he doesn't move.

Hey, stud.


But then she leaves the door open.

Then Don goes in.



Those lazy, hazy, horny days of summer.

MEANWHILE, Megan confesses to Arlene that she is feeling lonely in her relationship with Don.  Oh, the irony. Arlene kisses Megan and Megan gets angry because feels like Arlene is taking advantage of her. Arlene feels like Megan asked her over for sexy time, but Megan insists she isn't into lady bits. Arlene leaves. Poor Megan. She is getting pwned all over the place. Also, I feel Megan already had this convo with Arlene when she and her husband asked them to swing. Jeez, Arlene. Get a clue.

Anyway. AFTERWARD. Betty is smoking a cigarette and Don confesses that he has missed her. Betty feels sorry for Megan because Megan doesn't know that loving Don is the worst way to get to his heart. Betty's figured out the best way to hold Don's attention is to have sex with him a bunch while he's married to someone else. Betty Francis learning curve FTW.

Betty also lets him know that this is not going to be A Thing. I'm sure Betty's figured out that the only real way to hold Don's attention for any span of time is to be his mistress. Don wants her because now she's unattainable. 

Riot grrrll!

Okay, Don and Betty sleeping together is total fan service, but you know you saw that, ahem, coming. I hope she gets preggo again. And has to lie to Henry. Hahahahahaha.

At Peggy and Abe's, someone threw a rock through their bedroom window. Peggy's worried that someone saw Abe talking to the police and they're retaliating. Peggy tells Abe she's scared to live in this neighborhood, and Abe agrees to put the house on the market. Peggy decides to sleep in the living room that night because she's afraid to sleep in the bedroom.

The morning after, Margaret's mad at Roger for taking her son to see Planet of the Apes on Don's recommendation. Margaret's son is having nightmares, and Margaret is pissed. Margaret tells Roger he has to call Mona the next time he wants to see his grandson and that Mona has to be there.  I think Margaret is overreacting just a smidge. At camp, Betty's having breakfast with Henry and he politely says good morning to Henry, who apparently doesn't suspect. Don goes over to a far corner and eats breakfast all by his lonesome. 

At Joanie's, Joanie's going to the beach with Bob Benson. Joan tells Bob that Pete is looking for a good nurse for his mom. Then Roger shows up. Roger has no idea who Bob is and Bob is like, I work for you. I'm the smarmy guy in accounts. Remember?

Roger comes up with a lame excuse for why he's dropping in unannounced because Bob of course cannot know that Roger is Kevin's father. All seriousness aside, WTF is up with Bob's shorts?

You guys! Guess if I've paired these snazzy shorts with socks and sandals. Go ahead. Take a guess.

I get that this was the fashion, but what is the pattern on those? Trout? WTF.

PEGGY HAS A BAYONET. Which I find hilarious. Because it is World War I. There's apparently a riot going on (in Spanish) outside, which is not in fact WWI. Abe comes in and asks Peggy what's going on. Peggy turns around. THEN PEGGY STABS ABE. 

In the ambulance, Abe tells Peggy that her activities are "offensive to his every waking moment" and basically breaks up with her while he's struggling to stay alive. Most epic break-up ever. I have about had it with Abe, but I was hoping that Peggy could at least do the dumping this time around. Nope. No such luck. To top it all off, the EMT hears it all. Now Peggy has been publicly dumped by a guy who is bleeding out. Sorry, sister. However, I do enjoy that Abe got stabbed a bunch in this episode.  That kind of filled me with glee.


At Megan and Don's, Megan tells Don that she's unhappy and that he feels distant. He kisses her, and they seem to reconcile for the time being.

Roger presents Joan with some Lincoln Logs for Kevin. Joan tells Roger that he can't drop in on her and act like Kevin's father whenever he wants. It's better for Kevin to think that his father is Greg, although Greg is in Vietnam. That's right, Roger. An absent rapist jerk-off is a better father figure for Kevvy than you are.

Bob enters Pete's office and tells Pete he's aware that Pete needs a nurse for his mother. Bob gives Pete a recommendation for a nurse. That's a nice gesture, but I still think Bob is on the make. 

Peggy knocks on Ted's door the next morning. Abe got stabbed, but he's going to be fine. Peggy tells Ted that she and Abe have broken up, in the hopes that he'd be willing to have a relationship with her.  It's not a completely far-fetched hope, since Ted did tell Peggy he was in love with her and she's seen many a coworker leave his wife for a younger woman (:coughcoughRogercough).  Peggy's not so lucky (when is she, really?). Ted basically rebuffs her, and Peggy leaves his office, blinking back tears. 

Okay, this has gotten real old.

Different guy. Same story. The final scene shows Peggy standing in the hallway between Don and Ted's respective offices. Perhaps realizing that they're the same French actress in two different wigs?

Oh, Peggy. What can I say?

New episode next week. Let's watch to see if Peggy catches a break, or if her dreams of  eventually finding a fulfilling relationship come crashing down in a burning pile of rubble and hellfire. 

Which lucky cast member will get stabbed next week?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thursday Nights Bite

Hellloooooooooo, people! Say hello to our guest blogger for today, Peanut Em&Em. Clovis and I have known Madame LePeanute for more years than we care to admit to, and she's graciously volunteered her services to blog for our squirrel friends here at TV Sluts. Peanut Em&Em has prepared some peanut buttah for us, in the form of a Vampire Diaries review. Enjoy!

It’s 8:30 Thursday night and my house is silent.  The boys are in bed and my husband is downstairs on the elliptical.  I sneak into the family room, turn on the TV, and quickly mute the volume.  My God, I don’t want to get caught.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I see that my DVR has successfully begun recording one of the worst shows on the CW (Ok, I admit that’s not saying a lot).  I guess it’s time to come clean. Hi, my name is Emily and I am addicted to The Vampire Diaries.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, let me take this second paragraph to catch you up on the first 3 seasons.  The series revolves around Elena Gilbert, a human high school student, and her vampire admirers, brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore.  Elena is not just your average high school girl though.  Oh no, she has some supernatural blood in her as well; she is the doppelganger (twin) of Damon and Stefan’s first love, the vampire Katherine.  What an amazing love…square?  Add to that that in each season someone different is trying to kill “poor” Elena while Damon and Stefan try to save her.  And with that, you’re all caught up on the first three years of TVD.  Welcome to the Vampire Diaries family!

There’s enough of me to go around, boys.
I hope by now that you are thinking the same thing that I have been thinking for the last three seasons.  If someone is always trying to kill Elena, and she’s hanging out with vampires anyway, why didn’t one of the Salvatore boys just turn Elena into a vampire?  Well, thank God at the end of season 3 they finally did just that.  With fragile Elena now a rough and tough vampire they had to step up some serious evil this season.  In season 4 we have seen the return of just about every baddie that wanted to kill Elena over the years with the addition of our new super baddie, Silas.  Silas is the first immortal ever created and also happens to be stronger than any other supernatural creature in the Vampire Diaries universe.  (Where the heck are they going to go from here?)

The Season 4 finale finds Elena and the boys facing off with Silas.  Elena’s best friend Bonnie, the witch, (Of course Elena’s best friend is a witch!  Oh and by the way, her brother is a vampire hunter.  Take that willing suspension of disbelief.) is attempting to put a spell on Silas to turn him to stone so that the boys can drop his body in the lake effectively ending Silas’s reign of terror.

Certainly things could not go according to plan.  Enter Emily’s favorite vampire Damon, played by Ian Somerhalder.  I’ve loved Ian since he was Boone on Lost.  He’s pretty.  Unfortunately, somewhere between Lost and The Vampire Diaries he forgot how to act.  He has taken a page from the acting style of Joey from Friends.  Remember that episode where Joey was explaining to Rachel how he acted in the emotional scenes on the soap opera?   He used the “smell the fart” technique of acting.   He would by squint up his eyes and pretend he smelled a fart, that way he looked like he was feeling the emotions of his character.  That is how my boy Ian plays too many of his scenes in TVD, including the scene where Elena finally confesses her love for Damon (well, for this season anyway).

You’re my brother and I (takes a deep breath) love you man.
So where does that leave poor Stefan?  He is left to deal with Silas’s body.  Season 4 ends with Stefan about to throw Silas into the lake wrapping everything up with a nice bow.  Or not, because we quickly find out that the blanket containing Silas’s petrified body contains only rocks.  What?  You’re kidding me!  Oh no, it gets better.  Silas shows up and goes on to tell Stefan that he is his doppelganger just before he locks Stefan into a safe and sends him to the bottom of the lake.  Not possible, Stefan is a doppelganger too?  No, you read that correctly, we now have two sets of twins.  This reminds me of a lesson I learned early in my writing career.   If you write yourself into a corner, don’t have your character’s phone ring in order to dig yourself out of the hole.  It’s too obvious.  Really, 2 sets of doppelgangers?  The phone’s ringing TVD and it’s on the bottom of the lake.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I will be tuning in this fall to see how you dig yourselves out of this one.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Every Time We Get a Car, This Place Turns into a Whorehouse

So, I didn't watch Mad Men when it aired Monday night, because I thought, you know what, I bet watching Don Draper flail about this week will be equal the normal amount hot messery we've come to know, love and expect. I found myself really groovin this episode. I liked the bad trip dream-like quality about it, and the relative unpredictability of the plot. It felt like an ordinary day-in-the-life, but there was the added element of Don being disoriented (and stoned) throughout, so the timeline was a little disjointed (which I dig) and there was a hint of unreliable narration when the story was being told through Don's POV.  Since he's got a shaky grip on reality, there were some scenes where you weren't sure if they were happening for real or in Don's head, and in others, you could see that what was happening maybe was really happening to the other people in the Mad Men world, but Don had a totally different way of experiencing it, and Don seemed unable to tell what was real and what was not. 


The episode's called "The Crash" and so I started it, sitting there wondering if THIS IS FINALLY THE EPISODE WHERE EVERYONE DIES IN A HORRIBLE, FIERY PLANE CRASH. But nay. I spent most of this episode waiting for Don to drop dead of a heart attack.

The episode beings with Ken Cosgrove shitting his pressed Brooks Brothers pants in a car. He's in said car -- an Imapla -- driving significantly above the posted speed limit, with gun-wielding drunk Chevy reps, who seem to either be in the mob or a frat. They point a pistol to his head and urge him to go faster. Because what doesn't go better with alcohol than a fucking pistol? Cosgrove's level of job satisfaction is sinking at an exponential rate.

In creepy news, Don's stalking Sylvia and chain-smoking outside of the Rosens'. Arnie's back, and Sylvia's back to making him his dinnah.  Draper sucks at stalking, so he legit leaves his cigarette butts out in the hall way, as if this is some nicotine-laden version of pissing to mark his territory.

Cosgrove walks into the meeting at work, limping on a cane and Don calls him a cripple. A. Cripple. It's unclear whether the crash we saw at the beginning of the episode caused him to limp, but that crash we saw looked very much like a head-on collision and I'm surprised that anyone came out of that with only a limp. Is there a worse crash happening later in the episode? Oh God, I hope so. So, while we wait for people to die in horrific ways, let's have a meeting and see where were stand with Chevy, huh, gents?

Chevy has tabled all of SCDP's ideas for the campaigns, so creative has to work the weekend to come up with something suitable. Ted's secretary comes in and calls him out of the meeting, and then the door opens again. It's Dawn! She says Dr. Rosen is on the phone for Don. Eek. Did he see all those cigarette butts in the hallway and put two and two together? No! It's Sylvia. Arnie SAW all those cigarette butts and he thinks she's smoking again. Don tells Sylvia he needs to see her and Sylvia tells him no. She's freaked out about last week and tells Don to leave her alone. Don begs to see her and she tells him she's afraid of him. Then Don throws his phone and destroys his in-office wet bar. Oh, no! Not the wet bar. Then he cries. And then he coughs in a congestive heart failurey way.  Then Dawn calls him on his extesion, asking if he's all right. "I'm fine," he sobs. "I'm just...just...crying because I'm so happy."

Mr. Draper, I've got the Cleveland Heart Clinic on Line 1.

Cue flashback to Don dying of pleurisy at a whore house back in the 30s. Teen Don is banished to the cellar of the whorehouse so he doesn't get the hookers sick. Wouldn't want any nasty chest colds complicating that clap, now would we?

Over at the Fat Betty Francis house, Sally Draper has boobs! Betty's blonde again! Betty hates Sally's skirt because 1) it's too short and 2) she figures Sally got it from Megan.

Betty: "Where did you get that?" 

Sally: "I earned it." 

Betty: "On what street corner?" 

Betty: 1; Sally, 0

Frank died. He did not in fact "beat this thing." 

Frank: 0; Pancreatic cancer, 1. Too soon?

Everyone in creative at SCDP is getting a shot in the ass today! Are they getting vaccinated against polio? Heavens, no. They're all getting caffeinated roids in the office, courtesy of the firm,  "to help the creative process" with Chevy. The doctor, who looks  like two Zach Galifianakises duct taped together, says it's "a proprietary blend." A proprietary blend. OF FUCKING LSD. They're getting this "proprietary blend" of caffeine, wood alcohol, acid and turpentine shot directly into their ass cheeks. 

Now available as a convenient suppository!

Doc asks Don if he has a heart condition. He says no. Ha! That's what you think, Draper! Who cares? I'm sure it's totally safe. 

Anyway, so they're all high. They're all high and they're all going to die. Don coughs some more. Again. Not congestive heart failure. Not at all.

Don spies Peggy comforting Ted, and he spies Ted's secretary, Moira. Moira reminds Don of someone he once knew and he asks her during the episode if he knows her from somewhere else, and Moira coyly responds that she doesn't. 

All this hacking reminds Don of his first visit to a medical professional: Aimee, a lady of the night who works in the brothel where he's living with his stepmother. The hooker diagnoses him with a chest cold and nurses him. You're left wondering at what point this is going to turn into sexy time, because Don is disoriented and keeps having flashbacks. His cough reminds him of being ill as a child, and being nursed through it, not by a mother or a stepmother, but by a PROSTITUTE. Aimee brings him soup and keeps him in her bedroom until he is well. Ahem. Yes, although gumpy and sickly as a lad, Dick Whitman grew to be a handsome and powerful man, with the help of a bowl of Campbell's and the love of a hooker named Aimee.

Paul Pfeiffer, is that you?

So, everyone in the office is stoned, except for Peggy (who later gets drunk) and Ginsberg. A wigged out Cosgrove tap dances for Don and does a spoken word piece about all of the work he has to do for Chevy and how he has to kowtow and be a yes-man for Chevy and for SCDP. In case you missed the metaphor, Cosgrove is tap-dancing for Chevy. Don tells Cosgrove that this is his job. Apparently, everyone who works for Chevy is a drunk idiot and they're taking Cosgrove out every night, exploring the world of gang bangin and liver failure. 

Don is totally disoriented. He comes into the creative workspace, free associates with his fellow smackheads, leaves, has a flashback of Aimee, and somehow he's missed an entire day. It's now Saturday and he has no idea what is going on. Peggy and some of the other employees are back from Frank's funeral and Don wants to talk soup. There is also randomly a hippie girl doing the I Ching in creative. Don wants Peggy to go into the archives and go into 1958 - 59 for soup. SOUP.

Don goes into his office and the random hippie girl is there, being all love childey. Rainbow Sunbeam stole a stethoscope from one of the doctor's offices upstairs (prolly Rosen's; he can't keep track of his shit) and listens to Don's heart. She says, "Oh, I think it's broken" and Don says, "You can hear that?" No, you silly rabbit. It's the stethoscope that's broken. 

Don calls home and gets Sally, surprised that she's there, apparently forgetting that he has the kids on the weekend. Megan tells Don she has to leave, but Don can't come home. Megan is leaving so she can see a play with her agent, and she leaves Sally to babysit so she can earn herself some boots.  Meanwhile over in creative, Ginsberg, Peggy and Stan playing drunk/stoned William Tell. Ginsberg stabs Stan in the arm. This is exactly what Don meant when he said, "Go look up soup."

Peggy drags Stan away to patch him up and then he starts hitting on her. She drags out the old "I have a boyfriend" plea and snogs Stan. MOAR in-office action for Peggy. FTW. Stan wants her to sex him, and becomes maudlin and relates the story of his cousin Ralph getting killed in Vietnam.
What? No pity sex for ole Stan?

Peggy says she's had hella sorrow in her life, but you can't dampen it with drugs and sex. 

Like hell you can't.

Stan compliments Peggy's ass and she leaves the room. Go look up soup, Peggy!

Don't creeping around outside the Rosens' instead of being home with his children, and Sylvia just has the radio playing, likely because she knows Don is out in the hallway, listening at the door and...being weird. 

So, it's now the middle of the night, and there's a strange black woman in the Drapers' apartment. Megan isn't back yet, and Don is still...somewhere...looking up old soup ads and obsessing about Sylvia. This woman says she's Sally's "Grandma Ida" and that she raised Don. She's lying. She didn't effing raise Don. The hookers raised Don.

"Grandma Ida" knows enough generic rich white people trivia to get Sally to trust her enough to let her stay, but she's conning Sally. Grandma Ida tells Sally that Don gave her the key and told her to come over. Yeah, in the middle of the night. We all know Don's losing it, but it wouldn't go quite that far, even if she did somehow know him in his Dick Whitman past. But, Sally is still very much a child and isn't mature enough to handle situations like, you know, breaking and entering. 

Don's down in the archives looking up soup ads, and he comes across and ad, featuring a woman who reminds him of Ted's secretary/Rainbow Sunbeam/Aimee. In the flashback, Dick's recovered from his illness, and Aimee stars hitting on the lad in a molesty way. So. Don got raped a bunch.

Hey, Teenage Dream. You got my heart racin' in your skin tight knickers. . 

Bobby wakes up and finds "Grandma Ida" trying to steal the television set. "Grandma Ida" scams Bobby into telling her where Don keeps his watches. Sally decides to call the police, and Grandma Ida catches her and takes the phone away from Sally. Grandma Ida takes the hint and skedaddles, and Sally gets up to (hopefully) lock the door. 

Don writes up a prospectus and calls Peggy and Ginsberg into his office. He's sweaty and passionately pitching his idea. Don reveals he actually has not been working on Chevy, but has been working on a way to get Sylvia to acknowledge his existence. He asks for their opinion on his campaign, and they tell him it's great. He runs out, presumably headed off to Sylvia. Also, Rainbow Moonstone or whatever her name is banging Stan in one of the offices, and Cutler is watching! Peggy gives up and goes home.

Back at the apartment, an incoherent, sweaty Don is practicing what he's going to say to Sylvia. He plans to stop into his apartment to get some smokes, and he finds way more than cigarettes waiting for him. Don finds Megan there, and Bobby, Sally and Genie are up. There are also two cops there. This would be bad enough, if it weren't for the fact that Betty and Henry are also in the apartment. The cock, he is blocked. Grandma Ida is some kind of klepto and she robbed a bunch of people in the building and Don has to go down to the police station to ID his stuff. Betty yells at him and Sally says she wants to go home.

Then Don passes out. 

He has another flashback to the whorehouse, where Aimee's having an argument with her pimp. The pimp tells her to get out, and she claims she's owed money. She says she "took that boy's cherry" and that the pimp owes her five dollars. That's all it was worth, Dick. Five. Dollars. Don's stepmother asks him if that is true and he denies it. Wicked Stepmother doesn't believe him and beats him with a wooden spoon.

It all makes sense now.

The next morning, Don runs into Sylvia in the elevator. He is stoic and doesn't talk to her, and thus begins the longest awkward elevator ride in the history of television. Sylvia seems as though she about to say something, but Don's attitude is like, "Whatever, bitch" and they don't speak. At FBFH, Sally wants to talk to Don. He reassures her that he didn't have a heart attack. Sally says "Grandma Ida" sounded like she knew a lot about Don, but, as Sally says, ""Then I realized I don't know anything about you." Don, sympathetic to another child having her trust and innocence violated by an adult, tells Sally it wasn't her fault. Don says he left the door open and that it was his fault.

Don't worry, children! This looks like a job for Captain Subtext!

Monday morning and zero work got done on Chevy. Don (who showered) enters Ted's office with Cutler (and if you haven't noticed Cutler is played by Harry Fucking Hamlin, Cutler is played by Harry Fucking Hamlin). Rainbow Sunshine Moonbeam was actually Wendy, Frank's daughter. It was Frank's daughter that Stan screwed. HAHAHAHAHA!!  Don promises to continue on Chevy on his function as creative director, and he says that's all he can do. Then he walks out of Ted's office.


Yes, children. That is what. After witnessing years of Don acting like a complete cocklord to his wife, his children, his ex-wife, his mistresses, his coworkers and his bosses, you keep rooting for the SOB. 






Stay tuned for more office intrigue next Sunday. 

Who, me? Just biding my time, Daddy-o.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Office Finale

Last week, The Office passed into the great beyond. I confess that I stopped watching when Michael Scott left; if that makes me a fair weather fan, then so be it. But contributing blogger Cheryl has stayed with the show through the good times and bad, so I asked her to weigh on the finale episode. 

When Maggie asked me to write my thoughts on the final episode of The Office, I really didn’t know what I was going to say. A lot of ink has already been spilt (bandwidth dedicated?) discussing the topic. People have called it moving and heartfelt and a fitting goodbye to old friends and all of that is true. But I can tell you what the show has always meant to me and why I’m personally going to miss the pants off of it.

I’ve always had a…healthy appreciation of television. My brother is fond of saying that I mark my life by it. While that isn’t exactly true, I can see where he’s coming from. Just like certain songs can instantly take you back in time, certain TV shows have always had the same effect for me. For example, the first season of Friends will forever remind me of my freshman year of high school, sitting outside on the steps with my friends before school on Friday mornings, discussing the episodes together. Dawson’s Creek was always forbidden in my house so, while I snuck a few episodes in here and there, I never really got into it until college when my best friend down the hall and I bonded over gummy bears and our love of Joey and Pacey.

And The Office? It reminds me of growing up. I didn’t always care for it. As cliché and pretentious as it is to say, I, like everyone else, was a big fan of the British version. I didn’t see how anyone could top the genius that is David Brent. Why would you even try? Add to that the string of failed British adaptations NBC had at the time (Coupling, Teachers) and I was sure it was going to be terrible. I ended up watching it anyway, because I was just that douchey, and felt vindicated when the pilot was less than impressive.

That would have been the end of the story except that Christmas my roommate got an iPod and downloaded and forced me to watch “The Fire.” I was hooked. It was the beginning of a love affair that would see me through what were hands down the most formative years of my life thus far. Yes, in its later seasons, it lost focus. Michael left, Jim and Pam lived their happily ever after and got boring, the antics became a little too big, a little too unbelievably wacky, but in my mind the show is so tied to such a significant time in my life that I could never quite give up on it. Even when episodes lingered on my DVR for weeks, sometimes months, I just didn’t have the heart to cancel that season pass. And the last episode was more than enough reward for my faithfulness.

The absolute highlight had to be the return of Michael. He was Dwight’s Best Man! And he’s got a family! One he loves so much he had to get “two phones, with two numbers and two bills” just to hold all the pictures. It was everything he had ever wanted, and everything we’d always wanted for him. I was just about as happy as he was that he “finally had a family plan.” Being a family man hasn’t given him any sense though and we got a few classic Michael Scott blunders to prove it. Could his opening line have been anything but “that’s what she said?” And his comment as he watched over Dwight and Angela and Jim and Pam talking with each other after the wedding – “I feel like all my kids grew up…and then married each other. Every parents dream.” So touching. So creepy. So Michael.

The other familiar faces I was happy to see at the wedding were Ryan and Kelly. As super, crazy hot as Sendhil Ramamurthy unquestionably is, I have to admit, I was sad when Kelly chose his Dr. Robbie over Ryan. Ryan endangering the life of a baby to occupy the hot doctor’s time thus leaving Kelly alone long enough for him to whisk her away is the most fitting sendoff I could imagine. Five’ll get you ten, they break up before they get out of Pennsylvania. God love ’em.

Due to some clever finagling by Jim and Pam to ensure everyone would be in town, Dwight and Angela’s wedding weekend coincided with a reunion panel PBS organized for fans of the documentary. Which gave that audience the chance to ask the questions that we, the real audience, have always wanted to ask (admit it, as disturbing as the hearing that woman say she’d let Jim do anything was, you’ve totally thought the same thing). And while we never did find out what was in that teapot letter, we did find out that Jim and Pam’s marriage is stronger than ever after the beating it took over the past year and that Pam did have something up her sleeve to repay Jim for that gorgeous video he made for her – a grand, romantic gesture that may have, in fact, out-Jimed Jim. She sold the house he bought without her permission without his so they would have a clear path to Austin and his waiting job at Athlead.

(And as happy as I am that Jim and Pam moved to Texas, even make-believe Texas, if anyone can give me a plausible reason why a professional sports management company would have a base in a city without any professional sports teams, I’d really like to hear from you.)

At the end of the day though, The Office was about…an office and there’s really no other place they could have ended it. The final scene finds everyone gathered together because like Angela says it’s probably the last chance they’ll ever get. As they all get drunk off of Meredith’s hidden stash, we’re given moment after moment of feels: Pam answering the phone with one last “Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam.” Dwight calling her his best friend. Jim thanking the doc crew for giving him the chance to see himself grow up and become a husband and father. Then saying everything he has he “owes to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job.” Pam telling the camera she can’t stand to watch the documentary and see how long it took her to notice what she had, and that she wants people to learn from her mistakes and be brave. Dwight refusing to accept Jim and Pam’s resignation, but firing them instead so he could give them severance. The song Creed sang over all of it.

It was funny bordering on silly and heartwarming bordering on schmaltzy – just like the show always was at its best and the most perfect goodbye it could be given.

Type O Negative: Tastes Great, Less Filling

Almost a year ago, I told you that NBC was developing a new series for the 2013 television season based on Bram Stoker's Dracula--with a few "made for tv" changes. And guess what? NBC announced at their recent upfront presentation that they have picked up the series and would air Dracula this Fall on Friday nights at 10:00.
I need a coffin *this big*

I am sure most of you are familiar with the original Dracula tale in some form, either from the novel or its many MANY adaptations. Needless to say, NBC is taking some creative license with the story. Over on the show's website, the network describes the plot as follows:
It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night - useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan... until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. From the producers of the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning hit Downton Abbey comes Dracula, a twisted, sophisticated and sexy take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, proving that some stories never die.
Ok, so a few things. First, Dracula poses as an American? What the hell? Jonathan Rhys Meyers has never really done it for me (too skinny!), but one of the things he has going for him is a natural Irish (or fake English) accent. But they're going to make him sound like an American? FAIL. Also, it's from the producers of Downton Abbey. WHAT. Let's just hope that means the costumes will be awesome.

The only footage we've seen of the new show is the trailer. It looks interesting, but let's be honest. It's going to fall into the "so terrible it's good" category for sure. Just like The Tudors (which for the first season was really just terrible).

There's an "empire of lies!" She will "find him and destroy him!" Love is his obsession and revenge is in his blood!


But y'all know I will watch the shit out of this show for real and the guy who plays Jonathan Harker looks kind of hot. Also, sword fighting! Hurray! Rhys Meyers is no Gary Oldman, but I suppose he will do for a network television version of the titular vampire, and I see a lot of potential for new stories in later seasons using the original Dracula premise as a spring board.

PS: I am trying to figure out the logic behind airing the show on Fridays. I suppose they want to pair it with the similarly supernatural-themed Grimm....but Friday night is kind of a loser night for tv. Maybe they are hoping to get the nerd losers who never leave the house. (pause for you to make a joke about how I will be watching it on Fridays for sure)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Everyone Gets Flirty on Mondays

So apparently my last Bates Motel recap didn't post properly, despite my attempts to get it to schedule. It's up now, and you may want to read it before reading this one below. Or not, depending on your tolerance for confusion. 

The Creepy County, OR, Coroner’s Office is carting Shelby’s body out of the house while the local teenage hippie constabulary watches from the motel. Inside, Mother tells the police that she’s convinced that Abernathy, the Dapper Man, is the one who put the body in her bed. “Why do crazy people keep gravitating towards me?” she hilariously asks while cradling herself to Norman. The next morning, Dylan and Norman cart the dirty mattress out for burning. Dylan believes that Mother will “make a meal out of this for a year” while the dirty hippies that Dylan brought with him are smoking down on the porch of the motel. Mother tries to put an end to it, but what can you do with dirty hippies? When Dylan inadvertently admits that his job is helping to process the very dope the kids are smoking, Mother comes to the end of her rope and announces that they are moving.

There goes the neighborhood.

The next morning, Emma has arrived at the motel early to help Mother organize the office. Mother tells her to trash everything not related to the original deeds to the motel.  At the same time, flowers arrive for Mother with a note saying “see you soon…” Creepy Abernathy is hitting his stride, obviously. Mother tries to call the sheriff to tell him about the warning, but the cops are less than eager to help.

In town, Bradley approaches Dylan to ask him if he would get her inside her dad’s old office at Gil’s place. Dylan agrees and there is a ton of flirty eyes going on between them. Dylan, buddy, don’t do it, man. Mother, meanwhile, visits the real estate agent who sold her the motel to get him to re-list the motel and yell at him for not telling her about the highway bypass when he sold it to her.

Mother is cleaning the hotel rooms when Abernathy drives by slowly, not wanting to waste a single creepy stereotype. Late, desperate for a reprieve, Mother is googling “safest cities in America” when Norman arrives home with his stuffed dog. Mother’s a little creeped out by Norman’s new hobby, but she tries to be supportive. Norman tells Mother how good he’s doing in school and that he really doesn’t want to leave. Later that night, Norman is looking up dream interpretation about drowning someone when Dylan oversees him. Norman confesses that he has been dreaming about drowning Bradley in a bathtub, but not to worry – he doesn’t want to hurt anyone in real life, “except for you once in a while.” LOLs! But no. He’s nuts, Dylan. Get out.

At the Motel, Emma spies one of the teenage hippies with his dope. Mother has told her not to let any of that kind of thing happen, so she meekly goes to put an end to it. The teenage hippie reluctantly agrees after she plays to his good nature and there are more flirty eyes happening. Stay with this one, Emma. 

It’s bad when the drugged out kid in the dirty motel is a better option than your current love interest.

In school, Norman’s guidance counselor praises him for a short story he wrote and offers to help him sell it to a local literary publication. She asks him to stop by later so she can “help” him with it. The story is about a man who’s on fire on the inside and the counselor is intrigued, calling Norman an “old soul.” And yes, she’s making the flirty eyes too. Because why not, really?

That night the hippies hang out playing late 90s Goo Goo Dolls songs on their guitar (seriously) when the sheriff arrives looking after Mother’s call earlier in the day. The sheriff says he’ll look into the florist, but tells Mother that Jake Abernathy doesn’t have any records on file and doesn’t seem to exist. There’s not much he can do, but he’ll have the house patrolled to keep her safe.

Dylan meets up with Bradley and offers to pack up her father’s office and bring the stuff to her given Gil’s antipathy towards her father. Bradley tells Dylan that she really wants to see her dad’s office one last time, because memories. Dylan is moved by her and agrees to smuggle her into the office in person.

Emma arrives at the motel for work to find a pot brownie left for her by Gunner, the teenage stoner with an apology note. Later in her shift, she decides to give the brownie a taste and, naturally, devours the entire thing.

Mother, meanwhile, is showing Norman a picture of a charming little cottage on the beach that she’s found in Oahu, which, btw, is listed as one of the safest places in the country. Norman tells her that he’s not moving and she can’t make him. In the ensuing fight, Norman tells her that she’s crazy and it’s about to get worse when Emma enters the room, strung out and telling everyone she thinks the motel office might be bugged because she feels like she’s being watched and OMG you guys, do you know how the stairs feel? Yup, she’s high.

Later, Dylan sneaks Bradley into the office through the roof when Remo starts shooting at them, thinking they’re burglars. He isn’t pleased, but lets them have ten minutes. Getting into the office, Bradley gets emotional over her father’s death and starts searching through the desk, ostensibly for an old pocket watch of her father’s. In the process, she finds love letters written to her father not by her mother. “Why would he do this?” she asks. “People are complicated,” Dylan tells her and hugs her.

"How can I possibly make all my relationships more complicated? Hrm..."

Later, Mother comes to Norman’s room and asks to sleep in his room after being weireded out by what happened in her room. Norman tells her he’ll take the floor, but she insists they can both fit in the bed. Anyway, they reminisce about sleepovers they used to have when Norman was a kid and would watch movies in her bed before snuggling up and going to sleep.

Yup, this happened. Sometimes I just don't have the words, you guys.

The next day, Norman tells his guidance counselor that he doesn’t want to submit the story for publication, saying Mother wouldn’t like it. The counselor says he doesn’t really need to tell Mother, telling Norman that she can tell there’s trouble in his home life and that maybe he needs something of his own.

Mother comes to her real estate agent asking about the open house she’s asked him to schedule for the motel. He tells her that there’s not going to be a market for the motel and that she’s underwater and should probably just walk away from it. Mother looses her temper, attacking him with her purse and threatening to sue him before storming off. And who should be waiting for her in the backseat of her car but Abernathy who holds a gun to her neck and tells her that Shelby owed him over $150,000 from his last sex trade sale and that Mother is going to make good on the money by tomorrow night or he’ll kill her and her family.

Season Finale next week, kids!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Everyone Cries When They're Stabbed

So, I just spent the better part of the last view days mainlining the Canadian gem of a show, Slings & Arrows, to the detriment of all else. Yes, yes, the first season is ten years old, but if you missed it the first time it aired on Sundance, the entire series is back on Netflix streaming. I am an uber geek and I own a box set, but if you, unlike me, spend your money on things like food, rent and bills, you can also get it on DVD from same. 

Slings & Arrows, people. OMG. Where to begin.

Slings & Arrows is a cynical behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on of The Stratford Festival  a fictitious Canadian Shakespeare festival in the equally fictitious New Burbage, Ontario. No one can ignore the fact that the show is mocking the famous and successful mecca of North American theater. However, most of the actors and writers on the show are Stratford vets themselves. Uber hottie Paul Gross portrays Geoffrey Tennant (no relation to David), the unstable yet brilliant artistic director of the New Burbage Festival, who fights the good fight against forces that would destroy good theater: apathy, pretension, commercialization, mass marketing, cynicism, corporate interference, cliche, musicals and Darren Nichols.

If you want to say something to the proletariat, just cover it in sequins and make it sing.

Geoffrey is given the job as artistic director after his former friend and mentor, Oliver Welles (Stratford mainstay Stephen Ouimette), is killed after he falls into the road drunk and is hit by a pig truck.

But not to worry, Oliver's ghost appears to Geoffrey after his death to guide him as he directs, and only Geoffrey can see him, lending more credence to everyone's belief that Geoffrey is insane. Before Oliver's death, Geoffrey hadn't seen Oliver in over seven years after Geoffrey walked off stage during an apparently incandescent production of Hamlet, which Oliver directed. Geoffrey had a mental breakdown and left, and Oliver lost his edge and began staging trite, predictable productions which relied on special effects and big-name stars as draws, rather than relying on honest productions with a core group of solid, gifted actors. Further complicating things is the fact that Geoffrey's former love, Ellen Fanshaw (Stratford and Shaw Festival vet Martha Burns), is still at the festival, but she's getting older, thus is playing Gertrude and boinking men half her age in a desperate attempt to feel young again.

Each season, the show focuses on one main production of a Shakespearean play, and OMG we get to watch brilliant acting not only from the cast, but also from the "company" of players when the productions are ready for previews and performance. Although they can't show one or two entire Shakespearean plays during the performance episodes, we do get to see scenes from these productions, which are no less magical on teevee than I'm sure they would be in real life.

The show was written by Susan Coyne, Bob Martin and Mark McKinney of Kids in the Hall fame, who also stars as starched-shirt managing director, Richard Smith-Jones. 

The first season focuses on Hamlet, and stars Rachel McAdams as Kate/Ophelia. If you can watch her turn as Ophelia and not get chills, then you my friend, are dead inside. DEAD. DEAD LIKE YOU'VE BEEN HIT BY A PIG TRUCK.

 You mean after this I'm going to make The Notebook?

The second season features The Scottish Tragedy and Romeo and Juliet, and the third features a hysterically bad original musical and King Lear. I can't even begin to talk about how good this show is, and if you like theater, black comedy and good TV, you must get all over this forthwith. The acting is phenomenal and the writing is sharp-witted and wickedly funny. I just love Canadians. Even when they say "fuck" every other word or are supposed to be drunk or partying, they are SO ADORABLY DORKY. 

Fabulous Canadians appearing on S&A:  writer, actor and filmmaker Don McKellar as the uproariously pretentious Darren Nichols; actress, writer, director Sarah Polley as Cordelia/Sophie (her father, Michael Polley, appears in each episode as well); actor and erstwhile Gilbert Blythe, Jonathan Crombie, as Geoffrey's understudy in Season 1 and Lionel Train (yes) in Season 2; Warehouse 13 star Joanne Kelly as Sarah/Juliet; the late William Hutt as Charles Kingman/Lear and the late Jackie Burroughs (Aunt Hetty on Road to Avonlea) in a minor but effective role during Season 2. 

Unlike some other shows about theater which I won't mention that try to push their preachy, phony agenda upon the masses, Slings & Arrows takes the stand that good theater does not have to be dumbed down to be appealing to the masses. It carries the message that overwrought, overly thought-out and (dare I say it) overly theoretical productions are not good theater; they are simply dishonest interpretations that are more about the director and his/her enormous ego than anything else. In Geoffrey Tennant's mind, the play is the thing.

There are only three seasons, but the story feels very complete when you finally finish the last episode. Slings & Arrows doesn't take on social problems and try to correct them in "a very special episode" and that's what makes is so true and so goddamn fucking honest. It says within the tiny world of the New Burbage Festival and struts and frets its hour upon the stage with stunning brilliance.