Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Save the Cheerleader Save the Whaaaat?! Heroes Reborn comes to NBC in 2015!

When I began to hear whisperings about some kind of return for the departed show, Heroes, I knew right where to go for the full scoop. My friend Priya, who has an amazing blog called This Is What Comes Next, was a Heroes fan back in the day and was kind enough to provide TV Sluts with her thoughts regarding the return of the show. Personally, I didn't think there was big outcry from the viewing public for more Heroes, but whatever, NBC. Desperate times, I suppose.

I have a routine. Where most people start the day with the New York Times or the Washington Post, I always kick things off scanning the headlines to Entertainment Weekly. So of course when this came across my twitter feed yesterday I did a double take.

"Heroes Reborn."

My first thought: Really? Have we officially run out of good ideas?

My Second Thought: But it started out so well. Five years later can it be better?

And then, again. Is this really necessary?

The answer of course, is no. Jeff Jensen covers most of the bases in this EW.come article, but here are my two cents.

Heroes was one of those shows that had so much potential and so many great characters. Horn-Rimmed Glasses Guy, Hiro Nakamura, Mohinder and the cockroaches, the Haitian! I mean seriously it started with a bang (and with a relatively diverse cast) and then ended season one with this bizarre flat, budget strapped sad climax. I wanted so much more this show and can't actually pinpoint the moment where I gave up -- though I know I stuck around a lot longer than most.

There were too many characters, too many subplots and nothing ever came together in the way we all wanted it to.

This is the show that gave us Hayden Panettiere (who is awesome on Nashville) and Zachary Quinto (New Spock!) and for that I will be grudgingly grateful. But I'm not sure I'll be willing to go back. NBC is going to have to do a hard sell --and in a world where we have Arrow, Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (though its future is questionable) and other examples of tight storytelling for super heroes I'm not sure I need to go back.

For your information, Heroes: Reborn is only a 13 episode miniseries. So who knows, maybe Peter Petrelli (or whatever version that shows up) can save the world once more....but for the love of all that is important in the land of television lay off the time travel.

Want to know who from the original cast might be back? Look at this cast picture and see who hasn't worked in a while. Chances are they'll be in the new episodes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bits and Bobs

So many television-related thoughts have been running through my head. But none of them really seemed to warrant a full post all on their own. So screw it. Here's just a bunch of stuff from the news and that I've been watching that I thought you TV sluts might find interesting:

--Dearly departed Pushing Daisies might come back as a Broadway musical? With Kristin Chenowith?? OH HELL YES. Though the phrasing of the article (Bryan Fuller is "in talks") makes me think that I shouldn't get my hopes up.

--There is a lot of Veronica Mars: THE MOVE related news out there. We're only three weeks away from the big release (...and digital movie release which is happening on the same day) and I have my ticket! How about you? Please please dear lord let this movie do well. But! There is definitely more Veronica on our horizon, since Rob Thomas is starting a series of Veronica Mars novels picking up immediately after the movie.

The first, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, is available for pre-order on Amazon with a release date of March 25, 2014. Entertainment Weekly has a sneak preview of the cover art and some more information about the book, which is the first in a planned series.

--My favorite writer of everything tv, Jacob from Television Without Pity, has an essay over on Tor.com that is definitely worth checking out. In it, he discusses the dangers and pitfalls of communication on fanboards and on the internet. And he should know, he has worked as a TWOP forum moderator for years. Excerpt:
Working in the forums moderation business, which I have for over a decade, you see a lot of patterns. Some of them funny, most of them regrettable, a few mind-blowing (and no less so for their strange frequency), but most of all this, and it’s changed the way I read anything. It takes zero time at all to strike out at a fellow anonymous commenter for their perceived presumptions, and a whole lot of time to rectify that situation.
--The fan-freaking-tastic British drama series, Broadchurch, is being remade for American television (as Gracepoint) on FOX. Not much surprising about that--but David Tennant has signed on to play pretty much the exact same role he played in the British version, only as an American, and I don't think that has ever happened before. Check out this interview where he speaks out about taking on the role for a second time...but with an all new supporting cast, location, and story.

If you missed Broadchurch when it aired on BBC America, you can download the series over at Amazon or pre-order the DVD which comes out on April 1, 2014.

--The Winter Olympics are over....but there is still lots to talk about. My favorite topic? The figure skater's costumes, duh. The lovely ladies over at Go Fug Yourself have their usual critiques of the costumes up over at their website, and it is hilarious and definitely worth checking out.

--Oh, and then there is: Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, Fashion Mavens.

"I love her usage of proper head-banding." --Johnny Weir, who should do commentary for EVERYTHING IN LIFE.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Recapping AHS: To Hell and Back

So after 10 long episodes (and some of them felt longer than others) we finally get to learn about The Seven Wonders via an old-timey silent movie style classroom infomercial. AHS is nothing if not stylized. For those keeping count at home, the Seven Wonders are defined as seven act of significantly advanced magic. They include telekinesis, consilium (mind control), transmutation, divination, vitum vitalis (bringing the dead back to life through breath) descensum (“a perilous descent into the nether worlds of afterlife), and pyrokinesis. Attempting them can kill you, but successfully performing all of them will make you the next Supreme.

Cordelia and her freaky fucking eye sockets comes to Madison to see what Madison knows about Misty’s disappearing act. Madison is cagey as hell, refusing to let Cordelia touch her and possibly see what she’s done, but eventually relents only to find that Cordelia apparently still hasn’t regained her sight. Kinda makes that eye thing a problem.

GAH! Sunglasses, woman!

Meanwhile, Queenie finds a bloody mess in the conservatory and hears Marie’s murderous thoughts, but can’t find a body. Queenie decides to practice some early Seven Wonders training and invokes Papa Legba, but finds herself back in the fried chicken joint she left back in Detroit. There’s a line literally around the block and no one else working. Confused, she begins to help the eerily quiet customers before seeing Papa Legba in the corner who tells her that she’s been brought to her own private hell – no power, no respect, stuck in a place where no one thinks she can do anything. Papa is impressed that she made it to Hell, however, praising her ability. He tells her that if she can’t get out of Hell by morning, she’ll be stuck there forever. Pulling herself out, Queenie finds Papa in her room who tells her what’s happened to Marie – Delphine dismembered her and spread her body parts all around. Queenie still needs Papas help. Thinking quickly, Queenie points out that Marie is now going to be in breach of her contract, which removes her from the equation of what’s about to come. That means that Delphine needs to be removed too…

Weirdest employee review ever.

At Delphine’s old house-turned-tourist attraction, the original docent has been replaced by someone much more…Delphine-looking. Delphine has taken up the revisionist history banner, telling her version of her “the elegant and universally admired Delphine LaLaurie” to the tourists while posing as a tour guide in the house. When pressed about the murders and the attic torture chamber, she coldly tells the tourists that attic is off the tour and anyway it was all lies and the attic was only for “firm, but humane” correctional behavior. She praises herself as “a visionary ahead of her time” thus securing her a future contract with Fox News.

When the tourists leave, Queenie confronts Delphine who admits to murdering the old docent after she critized her tactics and, worse, her entertaining. “Nobody’s going to waste their time on some uppity Negro when there’s a fabulous party,” she mutters when the docent tells the group that oftentimes the murders happened while revelries were going on downstairs. Priorities. Queenie tries to give Delphine one last attempt at redeption, hilariously by suggesting that she volunteer with the Urban League. Delphine, however, has been watching the news about Paula Dean and Anthony Weiner(seriously) and thinks this redemption shit is bunk. Seeing that it’s not going to work, Queenie plunges a dagger into Delphine’s chest.

Part of me really hopes Kathy Bates just did this in real life to screw with people. 

In the school, Fiona is finally getting her portrait done under Myrtle’s artistic eye and realizing her mortality is closing in. She attempts a final honest connection with Cordelia, telling her that her power is still inside of her and she can’t lose it or regain it. She also gives her an old necklace that was her mother’s. When Cordelia puts on the necklace she suddenly sees the house, the girls all laying slaughtered and mutilated on the floors and impaled on the walls. In her vision, Cordelia sees a hale and healthy Fiona pull the necklace off Cordelia’s own dead body and leave the house.

Cordelia hightails it to the Axeman’s apartment. Cordelia tells the Axeman that she also saw Fiona with a plane ticket in her purse, fleeing the country with her new health and leaving him behind. The flight leaves in two days and, given that he doesn’t exactly have a passport, clearly she’s not planning on him joining her.

Knocking things off the To-Do list, Cordelia then divines from Misty’s shalls that she is entombed in the cemetery. Cordelia brings Queenie to the crypt and has her pull the coffin from the grave. Misty’s body is still inside, but she isn’t breathing. At Cordelia’s urging, Queenie breathes life back into Misty, bringing her back from the dead.

At the school, Zoe and Kyle have returned: apparently Florida didn’t agree with them when Kyle angrily killed a homeless man and Zoe had to bring him back to life. Par for the course for that relationship, really, but Zoe is now convinced that she may be the next Supreme. Just then, Misty returns and begins to literally bitch-slap Madison across the house. What follows is a seriously awesome girl fight through the house that was one of the only real exciting moments this entire season. The awesome gets even better when the Axeman interrupts the fight to kill the girls and the girls collectively throw him across the room LIKE A BOSS. He’s covered n blood, which Cordelia divines is Fiona’s.

In a flashback we see Fiona coming to the Axeman after Cordelia left him. Axeman tells Fiona that he wants to take her out of town to go catfishing – he has a vision of them living together forever in a cabin by the river. Fiona laughs it off and tries to change the subject, but the jig she is up. Axeman finds the plane ticket in her purse, just like Cordelia said, and confronts her angrily. Fiona points out that with the next Supreme dead she has 30 more years of vitality – it’s not like she’s going to waste it in a rustic cabin by a river with him. And that’s when the Axeman lived up to his name, buring his axe into Fiona’s back over and over again before throwing her body into the swamp

Cordelia sees the entire scene. She tells the girls that Fiona really is gone, her body was thrown into the swamps and fed to the alligators. “Even I can’t bring back someone once they’re gator shit,” Misty demurs. The girls(and Kyle) are pleased that he’s gotten rid of Fiona for them, but they’re not about to let the Axeman go free either.  They descend on him, cutting him literally to pieces together in what almost passes for sisterhood.


Somewhere else, Delphine is thrown being thrown into the cages in her own house, although she is dressed in 1830s clothes. Delphine screams as a fully unharmed Marie Laveau stands waiting with a white hot poker while standing over Delphine’s daughter, also imprisoned in a cage. When the daughter complains of being thirsty, Marie cuts Delphine’s throat and gives her the blood to drink. Marie is confused, though – she doesn’t want to torture Marie’s daughter and doesn’t know why she’s doing it or even how she got there. “You will do as you are commanded,” Papa Legba suddenly appears. Turns out, Hell is a funny place and Marie and Delphine are both condemned to spend theirs together. “Eventually,” Papa says. “Everybody pays. Everybody suffers.”

In the school, Fiona’s portrait is hung with care as Myrtle and Cordelia tell the girls that Fiona shirked her responsibility to name a successor. Which means each of the girls will be tested – they’re all going to have to compete in the Seven Wonders. 

And may the best witch win.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The XXII Winter Olympiad


I know it might come as a big surprise to all of you, but I'm a huge geek about the Olympics. Is there any better way to chastise yourself for being a lazy slob than by watching insanely good-looking and fit people compete for medals in insanely difficult sports? WHILE YOU SIT ON THE COUCH AND SHOVE PIZZA INTO YOUR FACE? No. No, there is not. My post will be mostly photos since I'm sick right now and it's easier for me to click my mouse and upload photos and write snarky captions than it is for me to post a bunch of text. So, if you hate clipart, this is your warning to get out now. 

Curse that Yulia Lipnitskaya! Curse her! 

I can't get enough of that. 

The XXII Winter Olympiad is taking place in Сочи, Россия. If you aren't old still butthurt about Sputnik, I invite you to tune in. 
Sputnik is kicking your ass at figure skating, too.

First, let's talk about the opening ceremony. Aside from the slight mishap of the now-infamous Snowflake Malfunction aka Snowflake Gate aka Snowflake Meltdown, I enjoyed the opening ceremony.  I really liked the War and Peace ballet, but I am a dance geek and I took several years of dance so I loved it. IT'S THE FREAKING BOLSHOI, PEOPLE. And look, you've been saved actually having to slog through War and Peace. And what would  you rather see in dance form? Tolstoy or the Book of Mormon? I thought so.

Because shit never goes wrong in live productions.

And I'm sorry, America. You're not allowed to stage a ballet production of Natasha's ball. You'd turn everyone into zombies. 

You know you would.

The trip through Russian history was really creatively staged, although my one quibble was that I don't think Peter the Great was ever that nattily dressed. From what I understand, dude had sartorial issues. I wasn't totally in love with the jellyfish Swan Lake costumes, but it was a creative way to light up the dancers in a way that allowed them to move. 

This is what we did to Swan Lake, you guyz. 

At least Russia didn't subject the world to square-dancing Mormons. 

Seriously, America. Seriously. 

I also enjoyed the avant-garde-cum-Bauhaus Soviet set pieces.

Some people on the internet felt like the ceremony glossed over and romanticized a touchy part of Russia's history. Good thing Americans would never do that.

Like ever. 

And anyway we're used to much higher quality programming.

My favorite part of the opening ceremony was the Cyrillic alphabet opening. It was all so lovely and classy. Хорошо.

Bouncy castle FTW. 

If you couldn't find 'Murika in the Parade of Nations, or were confused about why we came in after Zimbabwe, I can offer you some handy and non-condescending (I promise) assistance. 

The Cyrillic alphabet consists of 33 letters. There used to be more, but Lenin got rid of them. The old style letters are still used by the Russian Orthodox church, much like how the Roman Catholic church still uses Latin. Абвгдеёжзийклмнопрстуфхцчшщъыьэюя. The United States is Соединённые Штаты Америки. So, as you can see, C = S and it falls right about in the middle of the alphabet there, after Zimbabwe (Зимбабве). 

But these...no. 

On to the events. As you may be aware, the Russians won the team figure skating event, which was held for the first time ever. Canada earned silver and the U.S. of A. earned bronze, thanks to an awesome short dance by Meryl Davis and Charlie White (who are from MICHIGAN) and solid performances by Jason Brown for the men and Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner for the ladies. But there was no catching the Russians.

A Russian pairs' team won gold every year between 1964 and 2010, the only year they lost. So...no pressure.


This is an event I haven't really paid much attention to in the past, but is very interesting for the modern Nordic elf: the biathlon. The biathlon is basically Lord of the Rings but on skis. 

Quick, Legolas! Frodo needs your help getting to Hot Cocoa Mountain!

The biathlon consists of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. I feel like this is something the Viking gods inventing after having too much grog at a festival during the Vimblewinter. Seriously, isn't shooting a rifle while skiing something you do when you're very drunk? Anyway, it's awesome and fascinating.

We will settle this dispute on the track of our forefathers at the biathlon! To Sochi!

Short Track

Despite my hatred for Apollo Ohno, his greasy hair, and his soul patch, I have always liked short track. One athlete to watch from the U.S. is J.R. Celski, who is from the Seattle area. One Russian athlete who has caught my attention due to his really sad and kind of puzzling story is Viktor Ahn. Ahn is originally from South Korea, but is skating for Russia after leaving the Korean short track federation. Ahn's won a bronze for Russia, but Sang Hwa Lee of Korea has won a gold medal in the ladies' speedskating. This is really an event to watch the Koreans, in both the ladies' and men's divisions. 

Have you been sneaking into the ENCOM program?



Figure Skating

I invite everyone to tune in the figure skating competition. The U.S. is not -- I repeat -- NOT going to dominate the FS events, but if you are a fan of the sport, you will see some really great skating from athletes from all over the world. Plus, come on. You gotta watch Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski commentate. You just gotta.

Tara: What do you think about you and I coming back as a pairs team?
Johnny: I enjoy being thrown.

From what I saw from the team event, the U.S. doesn't have much of a shot at a gold medal in anything but ice dancing, but Gracie Gold might pull out a silver or bronze in the ladies' competition. It really all depends on what happens the night of competition. We haven't seen the young Polina Edmunds skate on the Olympic ice yet, but she did well at U.S. Nationals and placed third over all. I'm expecting Ashley Wagner to finish in fourth or fifth place. Jason Brown MIGHT MIGHT place high in the men's competition. He's very artistically expressive and an entertaining skater to watch, but he doesn't have a quad and the men's field is so strong right now. But you gotta gotta gotta see his Riverdance free skate. Yevgeny Plushenko is back to attempt another gold medal at the age of 31, and based on his performance in the team event, there's no reason why he can't win. Plus he's hilarious.  However, I am sad that Maxim Kovtun wasn't appointed to the Russian Olympic team. He's an awesome skater and totes adorbz.  I don't think either of the U.S. men will medal, but they are very fine skaters. Look for Patrick Chan (CAN) and Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) to round out the medals in the men's singles.

River this dance, bigez.

The pairs' team of Castelli and Shnapir skated solid short and free programs in the team event, and while I don't think they can beat the Russian or German teams, they are a good young team with a great future. The pairs short dance was held Tuesday, with the Russian team of Volsozhar and Trankov easily ranking first with a short dance that screams Anna Karenina to me. They and the German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are favorites to win the gold.

Yeah, I can totally fix the sink when I'm done here. Two seconds.

For ice dancing, the big rivalry is between Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue and Americans Davis and White. *Ahem* And this is painful. Go...Blue. There, I said it. 

If you drop me, I swear. I bloody swear.

The teams themselves train together in the Ann Arbor area, but they are the two top ice dancing teams in the world right now. There was a silly rumor on the internet from a French newspaper, claiming that a Russian insider told the paper that the Russians and the Americans were conspiring to help the Russians win the team event so the Americans could win the ice dancing. 

The Russian skaters don't need help winning shit. Neither do Davis and White. Also, keep an eye on little Yulia Lipnitskaya. I've been watching Miss Thing this season, and her performances of her short and free skate at the team competition were the best I've seen her perform both routines. Her Schindler's List free skate was breathtaking during the team competition. Anything can happen in competition, so there may very well be a Russian upset against the heavily favorite Yu Na Kim (KOR). I heard a statistic the other day that I could not believe until I looked it up on Wikipedia and Wikipedia does not lie: No Russian woman has ever won a gold medal in ladies' singles. Ever. Will Yulia be the first? The gold is kinda hers to lose right now.

Obviously, there are many events I haven't mentioned here. I'm also a big fan of the luge (LUUUUGGEE), bobsled, speedskating, super G, super combined, Alpine skiing and ski jumping. They're even letting the LADIEZ participate in the ski jumping event in the Olympics now, despite the known risk to their uteri (which is... none). 

If you want to watch a lot of the Olympics and not just highlights, I'd recommend that you watch online on nbcolympics.com. Or if you have cable, head over to NBC Sports Network. You can watch regular old NBC, but they are only showing highlights and focusing on American athletes. Plus Matt Lauer is hosting for Bob Costas for a few days. So that should at least up your snark-o-meter. 

The problems that people had upon arriving seem to have been addressed, and barring a figure skating scandal a la 2002, this promises to be a successful Olympics. 


Since the Olympics are open to almost every country, that means every country that participates gets a chance to host. How else can people interact with people from other parts of the world, and maybe change minds or attitudes (and it goes both ways) if everyone just stays home? Personally, I'd like to be able to travel abroad without having to tell people I'm from Canada, so if the U.S. could be a little less judgey and bomby and a little more leading by example, it would be appreciated, I think, by everyone. Every country that gets the Olympics also gets the ParaOlympics, and by having them in Russia, this may bring some attention to the fact that disabled Russians are in desperate need of policy change from their government. I'm an incurable optimist, so you never know. Most of the Russians cheering at these events are proud of their athletes and they should be. No country is perfect. Except maybe Canada.

Eh. Maybe not.

What the Olympics are all about.

Also, I want these hoodies:

Next Olympics in 2018 is in Pyonchang, South Korea. Prepare your horse dance, my friends. You will be judged on technical points and grade of execution.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Another day, another new Syfy (by way of Canada) show.

This one is about werewolves. I know! How original! Based on the Women of the Underworld series of books by Kelley Armstrong, Bitten is a relatively entertaining and non-offensive entry into the supernatural drama genre. You probably won't love it, but you probably won't hate it either.

From the Syfy website:
Bitten is an emotionally charged supernatural thriller starring Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, Ted) as Elena Michaels, the lone female werewolf in existence. Desperate to escape both a world she never wanted to be part of and the man who turned her into a werewolf, Elena has abandoned her pack and taken refuge in a new city. There, she works as a photographer and hides her werewolf existence from her new boyfriend. When bodies start turning up in her pack’s backyard, Elena finds herself back at Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral domain. Torn between two worlds and two loves, she quickly realizes that – when push comes to shove – she’ll stop at nothing to defend her pack.
The concept is somewhat interesting--the show has been teasing out details of the how and what of the werewolves and addressing why Elena is the only female of the species, but there are still questions to resolve. Bitten also features a large ensemble cast of mostly white guys (an all too common occurrence unfortunately), so distinguishing between all the different characters is a bit of a challenge. But I have to give Syfy props  for creating a show with a strong female lead.

Elena can kick ass with the best of them and struggles with balancing her desire for independence with her duties to the pack, i.e. her family. It's something that most women starting out on their own can relate to--albeit with less fur, claws, and disemboweling. At least, I hope that's not how your adult life got started. Bitten also pairs well with the Canadian-import Lost Girl for a supernatural girl power block on Monday nights.

If it sounds like I am kinda "meh" on the show, well you're not wrong. I've actually read the first book in the series (also called Bitten) and from what I remember the series is tracking the book's plot pretty closely.

Maybe because I already have a general idea of what is going to happen it's difficult for me to get invested in the show, or maybe it's just that it it's kind of average all over. Nobody in the cast is particular bad...or particularly good. They've tried to dress it up with some sex scenes, but even those are only moderately hot. And it doesn't help that there isn't a lot of chemistry between the actress who plays Elena and the actor who plays Clay, the guy who supposedly has a "deep burning love" for her.

Maybe if we stare at each other hard enough, we can convince the viewing public that we are actually attracted to one another instead of wondering if we remembered to set the DVR for Scandal.

If you're a fan of supernatural dramas, it's worth checking out to see what you think. There are some original ideas here regarding the werewolf pack, what makes a family, and where your loyalties should lie. I will stick with it, but mostly because I am a sucker for any kind of creature feature.

Bitten airs on Syfy Monday evenings at 8:00 EST. You can catch all the aired episodes on the show's website here, or on On Demand.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Superb Owl

Hey, did you know that Super Bowl XLVIII was last week? Yeah, neither did Denver, apparently.

Look, no one thought that this game was going to be some down-to-the-wire, last minute Hail Mary kind of game, but it’s safe to say that no one also expected…that. A game that should have at least been a bit of a give and take quickly descended into a lopsided three and a half-hour long slugfest where Denver could barely manage to find its footing and Seattle somehow came out looking like an actual pro football team. 

Some games are won not because the underdog team did better, but because the favored team just couldn’t pull it together. This was not one of those games. Right from the start, Seattle ran roughshod all over Denver.  It’s worth mentioning that Seattle were the Super Bowl virgins in this game – not only has the franchise never been to the Super Bowl, but no individual member of the current Seattle Seahawks roster has ever played on a team that’s competed in the Big Game. Compare that with Denver, the older more experienced team that has not only a franchise history but also individual players with several rings in their possession. In Elite parlance, “It wasn’t supposed to go this way.”


To wit: the final score was a crushing Seattle 43 to Denver 8. Denver couldn’t even manage to get on the board until the end of the third quarter, quite the feat considering that Denver’s quarterback is the much ballyhooed Peyton Manning, a man who by himself has five MVPs and a Super Bowl win under his belt coming into the game to say noting of the fact that his family is genetically incapable of producing failures. (See: Manning, Eli; Manning, Taryn; and Manning, Archie; to say nothing of Manning, Cooper.) And yet, somehow during Denver’s opening drive, we got this:


That was essentially the first play of the game - a miscue whereby the QB fails to connect with his own snap leading to a ball flying so far over his shoulder that the first score of the game came less than 12 seconds in and was a safety awarded to Seattle on Denver's drive. It’s fair to say that Denver never truly recovered. In fact, by the first play of the second half where Seattle, already significantly ahead, managed a return from its own territory to secure yet another touchdown, the majority of the country was ready to turn off the Super Bowl to see what was going on over at Downtown Abbey. You hear that, England? America has given up its national pastime in order to see what your turgid melodrama is up to. Clearly, we’ve ceded the culture war to you. Well done, Queen Elizabeth. Regardless of how bored viewers were with the rapidly descending thrill of the game, you have to at least credit Denver with trying to put together something that would qualify as entertaining. They finally managed to score at the end of the third quarter, thus by at least ensuring that they wouldn’t be completely shut out of a game against a bunch of neophytes led by a Quarterback that is barely old enough to buy beer legally.

"Mom says if throw for more than 100 yards I get an ice cream before we go home."

As I’ve written about several times before, the Super Bowl is far less about sports than it is about entertainment. It is to the regular season what Glee is to a Ken Burns documentary on PBS. That’s part of the reason why advertisers pay so much to get an overblown commercial on that airtime – it is, in theory at least, one of the most entertainment-driven nights on television of the year. The worst sin that a Super Bowl can commit is to be boring and, unfortunately, that’s what we got this year, though I suspect Seattle folk found that boredom more bearable than their Denver counterparts did. Still, the job of the Super Bowl is to keep people watching and to provide a active night of television. To quote a tweet from a friend of mine, “Sucks to be the company that bought a fourth quarter ad this year.”

As it is, the most entertaining thing about Super Bowl 48 is the aftermath. There are so many pundits at the “What It All Means For Peyton Manning” Club that they’re going to start running out of beer soon. If it’s a truism that the Super Bowl needs to be entertaining, it’s equally true that for all the love that we as a country generally have for the Manning family, there’s nothing we like more than watching giants fall.  Whether or not Super Bowl 48 marks the end of a long and celebrated career for Manning (personally I think we’ve still got him around for a few years, but he’s veering dangerously toward Brett Favre territory here), the most exciting thing to see right now in this Super Bowl aftermath is the talking about it. 

Careful, Peyton - the Manning family eats their own weak in order to purify their powers. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


I have a poor track record with Syfy original drama series. Sure, I like their Canadian imports (like Lost Girl), and there have been some winners (Battlestar Galactica), but for the most part I find their shows like Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Haven barely tolerable.

So I didn't have high hopes for the new series, Helix. But the preview looked intriguing--kind of like that episode of The X-Files, Ice, where Mulder and Scully travel to the arctic to investigate a parasitic worm alien thing that was dug out of the ice.

And it turns out Helix is actually better than intriguing: it's tense, creepy, and the plot goes way past what I saw in the previews. Think of it as The Thing + Contagion + The Walking Dead = AWESOME.

From the Syfy show page:
Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind's salvation...or total annihilation. Helix is the product of some of the biggest names in genre television, starting with Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). 
The show takes what has become a standard genre plot (weird viral/parasitic outbreak in the arctic), and adds some cool twists by teasing out details of larger mysteries. What is the real purpose behind the experiments at the research facility? Why is the head honcho creepily obsessed with one of the CDC scientists? Who is the military engineer really working for? I'm invested in finding the answers which is more than I can say for most drama series these days.

Two other things that really make the show work. A certain percentage of the infected people become what the CDC calls "vectors." Meaning they seek to the spread the infection to as many people as possible....which in the Helix world means they become crazy feral monsters who run you down and vomit black goo into your mouth. Think fast zombies, but with less brain munching and more black fluid expulsion. Not only are the current survivors fearful of invisible microbes, they also have to watch out for their friends and colleagues.

This will certainly end well for us all.

The nature of the assaults (the vomiting of the black goo into the victim's mouth) is almost sexual in nature which only adds to the terrifying atmosphere. It's frightening in the same way the Alien moves are frightening--the assault is invasive and violating and all the scarier for it.

Helix is not for the faint of heart--while there isn't a lot of typical gun/knife/punching violence, as mentioned above there's lots of fluid spewing and claustrophobic tense scenes. But there's also a complex and interesting plot which moves the show beyond the typical Syfy series. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Helix airs on the Syfy channel Fridays at 10:00 pm EST and the pilot episode is available for viewing online on the show's home page.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Recapping AHS: The Unholy Powers of Benadryl

The Good old days of 1830. Madame Lalaurie is returning to New Orleans from Paris, “the jewel of civilization” and complaining about having to come back and the lack of intellect and inner light of the black people. Upstairs, a slave has injured himself and is bleeding profusely. The blood begins to give Delphine ideas and we all know where that is going to head. She strings up the slave and flays him in her attic. “I think I’m going to like it here,” she says gleefully.

In the modern day cemetery, the Coven mourns the “untimely” death of Nan, Fiona and Marie leading the Wailing Widow charge. Cordelia is taking it especially hard that she’s lost another student, although in fairness at least Madison came back. No one seems quite aware where Misty has gone to. “Probably shall-twirling down to the Everglades,” Madison helpfully offers. Arriving to pay their respects are Queenie, who has a re-headed Delphine on a leash. Queenie put her back together without scars, Kyle notes. “If I could have done you, you wouldn’t look like you went through a blender,” she tells him.

"I'm trying to muster up crying. Is this what crying looks like?"

In Atlanta, the Delphi corporation knows that the witches have been the cause of their problems. Hank’s father schemes to arrange a meeting with the Coven and pay them off to undo the spell, after which point they’ll come back and slaughter them to a witch. Yeah, no way ANYONE is going to see through that ruse. Either way, Fiona and Marie agree to a meeting, counting on the double-cross.

Delphine, meanwhile, is getting a little sick of this maid life, cutting the fingernails of the witches and cleaning the toilets and listening to Marie talk about how next time she’s going to sever her parts and scatter them. That is until the moment when one of the (black, natch) gardeners comes into the kitchen having cut his hands pruning the fig trees. Delphine, ever so graciously, offers to help the man – by taking him to Spaulding’s old room in the attic, trussing him up and seeing “what makes the n*ggers tick” by cutting off his toes one at a time.

Not a joke: She's seriously singing "This Little Piggy" before removing the digits.

Zoe meanwhile is casting a spell in the bathroom to reveal what happened to Nan and discovers that both Fiona and Marie were responsible. Madison is unhappy with all the attention that Kyle has been paying to Zoe and not her. She tries to intervene with a helpful blowjob, but Kyle rejects her, causing an epic witch tantrum until Mrytle stops them. Madison declares herself the next Supreme and announces the new order begun. Or something.

In the attic, the eviscerated remains of the gardener are causing something of a mess all over Delphine and the dolls in the room. “Not very robust, were you,” Delphine bemoans. Suddenly Spaulding appears, admiring her handiwork and admitting that he’s a ghost now. Delphine takes that news well, but then, she’s immortal so I guess it’s not that shocking. Spaulding tells her that he knows how to release Delphine by killing Marie through means of a magic concoction that he knows of that will render her invulnerable for a few moments.  But first, Delphine must retrieve an item for him.

Queenie is moving back into her old room which was taken over by Misty. Cordelia tries to approach her to welcome her back, but Queenie notes that since Cordelia’s husband shot her kind of puts a wedge between them. Queenie reveals that she, too, has been manifesting new powers just like all the rest of the young witches, even though she was shot with a silver bullet. (Is that a thing for witches?)

Feeling dejected and determined, Cordelia repairs to her conservatory where she mixes up a paste and spreads it around her eyes. Then she grabs a pair of gardening shears and raises them to her new eyes, the ones that gave her sight but took away her powers. Screaming, she plunges them into both eyes.  When Fiona learns what she has done, she finds Cordelia guarded by Mrytle who refuses to let her in. “Your daughter has become something you will never understand,” Myrtle says. “She’s a hero.” Myrtle challenges Fiona, calling her an enemy to the Coven and dares her to touch her daughter and see if Cordelia’s psychic sense has returned.

"I really need more excuses to use words like 'blanched' when describing the living conditions here."

In the attic, Marie has fetched the “magical” item that Spaulding needed – a rare doll that Spaulding is particularly enamored of from the 19th century. For her part, Spaulding gives her the special potion that will confer morality onto Marie – something called Benadryl. “Never speak its name aloud!” Spauling dramatically tells Marie.

In the conservatory, Myrtle calls Zoe to her, giving her a rare broach (or something – I don’t know fashion, I can’t tell you what it is but my friend insists that it’s by some rare designer that really exists) and tells her to hawk it for money then take Kyle and leave the Coven for their own safety. Myrtle warns her if she stays, Madison will kill both Zoe and Kyle.

At a very professional looking business park somewhere, the Delphi men have arrived in their Escalades and wait for the witches in a large conference room. It’s Marie and Fiona up against ten men. When the Delphi men ask if they don’t want to check for security or weapons, Fiona laughs. “I took down your entire company with less effort than it takes for me to mix a Rob Roy,” she says. The “negotiation” begins – Delphi offers to do whatever the witches want if they restore Delphi, offering that the war between them is outdated and a thing of the past. Each of Delphi’s directors have signed a 100-year truce that they offer to the women. Fiona counters that the only agreement that will work is if they agree to disband permanently. And give them a private jet and their private house in New Orleans. When no one seems interested in this, the waiter in the room reveals himself to be the Axeman and gets to what he does best, slaughtering every member of Delphi. (Marie, hilariously, plays on her iPhone through the carnage, apparently more interested in Words With Friends.) Fiona saves Hank’s father for herself, axing him personally at the end as Marie Instagrams the scene.

"This is so getting me new followers."

That night, Marie and Fiona toast to their success back at the house. Fiona heads out for her Axeman booty call, leaving Marie alone with Delphine and the “magic potion”. While it’s probably not great to mix antihistamines with champagne and Marie is clearly a little fuzzy from imbibing, Delphine has seriously overplayed her hand here and gets a surprise when she plunges a knife into Marie’s chest. Marie screams, but is more annoyed at having to pull the knife out than anything else and chases after Delphine, managing to only slip and fall down the stairs when Spaulding hits her over the back of the head with a doll. Turns out Spaulding was only interested in getting Marie out of the house and recommends that Delphine take advantage of the situation by burying the unconscious Marie in such a way as to ensure that she can’t get out of the ground.

But Spaulding’s not done being creepy! Guess who found Marie’s baby in the house and is thrilled to have a real LIVING doll to play with in the attic? <shudder>

Elsewhere in the house where no one can hear a woman falling down the stairs, Zoe and Kyle are packing to leave. Kyle is afraid to leave because he’s afraid that he’ll accidently kill Zoe like he did the dog. (Still not okay with that, btw.) Zoe tells him that she loves him and she’s not scared of him, just like any good woman about to enter into an abusive relationship. The two flee the house, running for the bus stop where they board a bus to Orlando (Don’t do it, guys! Seriously, the Mouse is scarier than certain death at the hands of a vengeful witch) and hopefully freedom.

Not the actual ending of this episode, but clearly what they're aiming for.

Recapping AHS: Guest Star!

Okay you guys – I admit, part of the reason I was so behind on recaps was because this season has been kind of, well, boring. Despite everything going for it, it’s just been hard to muster the interest, you know? So imagine my relief when we finally got an episode where things actually happened. It’s not the best AHS episode ever, but it is the best one this season so far.

Picking up where we left off, Fiona is offering Marie a cup of tea (and whiskey) and sympathy, offering her shelter from the witch hunters. It’s not clear if Marie has turned to Fiona because she really has nowhere else to go or just because she truly does recognize Fiona as an equal. (I’m hoping for the former – way more fun.) Either way, that night as she sleeps Marie gets a visit from the creepy as all hell Papa Legba who is the source of her immortality. (Thank you Voodoo Gods for finally bringing a scary character into a show that’s supposed to be about horror.) He tells her tonight is the night for her to pay her due, slaughter of everyone she currently knows and cares about be damned. To pay the price, Marie sneaks into the newborn ward in a hospital and selects an infant. Silly Marie – don’t you know babies are tagged so you can’t steal them from the hospital? Silly police who are here to stop her – Marie gets all magic-y and forces the two cops to kill themselves as she walks off into the night with the child.

Strange thing? Still hot.

The next morning, Cordelia angsts over the realization that Hank is the one who went all Columbine on Marie and her hair salon. Marie confesses that she hired Hank to kill the witches, so she’s got a bit of culpability here as well. “You were my sworn enemies!” she reminds them. Either way, Fiona reminds them, witch hunters don’t act alone.

Upstairs, Misty is singing to herself and practicing her Stevie Nicks-style shall turns. Fiona butters her up, though Misty is skeptical about Fiona’s newfound desire to share power with her as the potential new Supreme. To show exactly how magnanimous she can be, Fiona introduces Misty to her “old Friend, the White Witch.” Who is, yes, Stevie Nicks. For realz. Misty promptly faints upon meeting her. “You owe me five bucks,” Fiona tells Stevie. “I told you she was going to do that.”

Later, recovered from her vapors, Misty and the rest of the witches listen to Stevie perform Rhiannon on the grand piano and geek out along with Ryan Murphy behind the camera for getting Stevie on the show. Madison kvetches that she’s a big Eminem fan, so when does he play? “Marshall?” Fiona asks. “You’re not his type.” As she finishes, Stevie gives Misty her shawl and wishes her luck on the Seven Wonders test that she’ll soon have to pass.


Upstairs, the younger girls emote over why it is that Misty is suddenly supposed to be the next Supreme (ATTN: Writers – finish these conversations quicker. We don’t need to have this same scene in every episode.) and try to out-witch each other. Meanwhile, the older witches pool what they’ve been able to learn about Delphi Trust, the front company for the witch hunters. Turns out the family dates back to Old Salem and has been hunting witches since the colonial times. Fiona suggests a sideways attack by cursing their money supply and bringing them down financially, rather than coming at them physically. Cordelia wants to help with the spells, but Fiona says she is tainted and can’t help anyone due to her association with Hank. Marie and Fiona cast a spell involving a maze, herbs, mice and a lot of traps as, elsewhere, the SEC and the FBI begins to close in suddenly on Delphi.

The spell, however, takes a lot out of Fiona as she collapses. While Marie tries to help her restore her strength, Fiona asks Marie for her secret for staying young and healthy. Marie reveals that she sold her soul to Papa Legba back in the 1830s. “I thought I was the shit back then,” Marie says. Having just given birth to her first child, she didn’t accept the idea of death until one night when Papa Legba came to her and offered her eternal life in exchange for a price. Thinking she was just going to have to get occasionally sexy with him, she agreed without understanding what he wanted was a pure soul, which meant giving up her newborn child and then one child each year thereafter. File under “Devil, deals with.”

On the streets, Madison and Misty have joined the tail end of a New Orleans jazz funeral procession. Because that’s what you do when you’re young, powerful, and really enjoy eating grilled chicken on a stick, and when your show runners realize that you’ve done almost an entire season and not yet had this iconic piece of the city in a scene. Madison points out that Misty is about to be showered with gifts as the new Supreme and that everyone, even Stevie, was likely just playing her as the new power on the scene. As the funeral makes its way into the cemetery, Misty enchants two gravediggers at Madison’s request.  Madison wants to show Misty that she is just as powerful as Misty is and to do that, she resurrects the man about to be buried. Confused, the man stumbles out of his coffin. Madison convinces Misty to drop the shall that Stevie gave her into the coffin as a way of proving that she isn’t enslaved to anyone else as the new Supreme. Silly Misty does exactly this, turning her back to Madison just long enough for Madison to conk her on the head, drop her into the coffin, steal back the shall, and send the gravediggers back to their work, entombing Misty into a grave. “Stupid bitch,” Madison smirks as she dances away to the tune of the jazz band.

Now, now… more just like naive. 

Nan and Zoe have gone to the hospital to visit Luke only to be told that Luke has died. Nan takes the news hard and insists on seeing Luke’s mother, suspecting her part in his death. The two come to Luke’s house, planning to find Luke’s body and bring him to Misty to resurrect him. Mother tells them that she’s had Luke’s body cremated, producing the urn. (Luke only died, like, yesterday. That’s some quick service crematory service I must say.) Nan is…displeased and forces Mother to her knees. Zoe tries to intervene, but Nan sends her flying into the next room. Nan grabs a bottle of bleach and puts it into Mothers hands. “You have to be cleansed,” she tells Mother and magically forces her to start chugging the bleach.

In the conservatory, Mrytle is playing a theremin despite Cordelia’s attempts to angst herself into an early grave. “Don’t be a hater, dear,” Mrytle tells her when Cordelia asks her to stop making that god-awful creepy noise. Recognizing how defeated Cordelia feels, Myrtle suggests that maybe she should leave the coven and seek out a new life. “Your salad dressing is absolutely magical, maybe you could bottle it?” she suggests.

Fiona, mindful of Marie’s advice that Papa Legba comes to those who are desperate enough for him, prays for his attention in her room. Her devotion (and a few lines of coke) are apparently enough for him to show up out of the blue, mostly invited, like a creepy Adele. Fiona gets down to brass tacks – she doesn’t want to die and is willing to do what it takes to stay alive eternally healthy. Papa Legba says he’ll need her soul and one night a year she needs to perform a service for him, for example “could you cripple your child?” he asks. “Today?” Fiona responds. “Absolutely.” (Comedy!) But seriously, Fiona will do anything. It deal is struck and Papa moves in to seal it with a kiss, but pulls back at the last minute. The deal is off, he tells her. “You have no soul.” Whaaaaaaaa? Well, the Axeman, helpful spirit that he is, appears and points out that all they need to do is find the next Supreme and take her down. “Let’s just kill them all,” Fiona vamps.

Thank you, creepy voodoo man, for finally giving me something in this show to not want to think about when I'm falling asleep. Aside from that enema thing, that is.  

The next day, Nan can hear the thoughts of the baby that Marie stole. Trying to rescue it, she is stopped by Marie and Fiona. Despite needing the sacrifice, Marie has genuinely come to see the baby as being something like her own. Seeing a two-birds-one-stone problem here between Papa needing a pure soul for Marie and Nan who is suddenly a liability,  it’s to the tub where they unceremonially hold Nan’s head under as she struggles to survive. “Oh come on, you’re not the first witch to be drowned,” Fiona tells her because misery loves company?  Either way, Papa isn’t thrilled about Nan’s innocence. “She’s innocent. Mostly,” Fiona insists. “She killed the neighbor, but the bitch had it coming.” The argument is apparently persuasive as Nan’s spirit emerges and accepts Papa’s offer to take her to the other side. “Anywhere is better than here,” Nan says and goes with him.

Later, because we can’t just use Stevie Nicks once, Fiona listens to Stevie play the piano in the parlor, finally letting some of the horror that she’s just been complacent in seep in. And yes, the final scene is total emotion bait, but damn if it’s not beautifully shot and damn is Jessica Lange doesn’t sell all the emotional exhaustion that Fiona, a woman who would like to do the right thing but ultimately is always drawn in by her own dark impulses, is dealing with.