Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I'm not sure I can express how much I love this show. Will you like it? I don't know. But it's basically Maggie catnip. A heroine who is funny, smart, likeable, and yet awkward and realistic? Check. Romantic comedy? Musical numbers? CHECK.

Yes, it has musical numbers. But don't freak out, it's only like two or three per episode. And they're witty and funny and catchy.

A lot of you will probably find the basic premise troubling. From wikipedia: "Rebecca Bunch is a single woman who still longs for her longtime soul mate Josh, who dumped her after their summer fling during summer camp in 2005. In 2015, she restarts her pursuit of Josh after she spots him in New York City. When he tells her that he is moving to West Covina, California ("Just two hours from the beach, four hours in traffic"), Rebecca decides to move there too, hoping that it will give her a fresh start and hopefully bring her closer to the still-elusive Josh."

So yes, she pulls a Felicity and moves somewhere in pursuit of a guy. And while this is where the crazy part of the title comes in (because why would a normal woman follow a man she hasn't seen for 10 years across the country?), Rebecca was deeply and completely unhappy with her life in New York. So Josh is more like...a metaphor if you will. For the last time in her life she was happy. She's chasing the dream of happiness.

Or maybe she's just kind of crazy. Either way, when I see her I see someone I would love to be friends with. She thinks things real women think and does things real women do. Rebecca, played by the wonderful Rachel Bloom, could be me. And I love it. She's even a lawyer!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs on the CW Mondays at 8:00PM EST. You can catch up on the two aired episodes on the CW website, linked above.

Bonus video: my favorite song from the pilot, the "Sexy Getting Ready Song." Please note the Spanx.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Fall Premieres, Part II

Here we are, well into Fall premiere time and I have barely expressed my opinions on anything. What is going on? Has the world gone mad?

Let's just say that a combination of factors (and I'll be honest, one of them is laziness) have kept me from writing on the blog. These factors also include some unexpected surgery. On my face.

A little hole in the head hasn't stopped me from watching new shows and forming opinions, though. It's just kept me from having the time to tell you about them. But fear not, gentle readers! It's a rainy weekend, I'm stuck inside, so I'm going to give it to your straight. So let's get to it!

Scream Queens: Have you ever seen a Ryan Murphy show? You know, like Glee or American Horror Story? If you have then you know exactly what to expect from Scream Queens. Snappy, too-clever dialogue, characters that are more caricatures, blatant racism, misogyny, and homophobia but it's ok because it's funny and full of social commentary, right? RIGHT? Oh, and lots of gore. Buckets of blood even. So be warned.

Objectively the show is not good and doesn't really make much sense. But that doesn't mean it's not also awesome. It's not as fun as I had hoped, but it's still some fun and I'll keep watching through the end. If nothing to else to observe the shit show and see how things spectacularly fall apart. And if they don't it will be a pleasant surprise! And I admit, I am kind of intrigued as to who the killer is and just how they hell they are pulling off these increasingly ridiculous murders. There's a lot of eye rolling going on in the Maggie Cats household during this show, but there's also a lot of laughing and snorting.

And honestly, Jamie Lee Curtis knocking it out of the park every week is worth the price of admission alone. She's in on the joke and is just having a great time with her character and the circus going on around her. If you want some brainless Halloween-appropriate fun, you could do worse than Scream Queens.

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays at 9:00EST on FOX. 

Rosewood: Morris Chestnut is ridiculously handsome and charismatic. And that is pretty much the only reason to watch this crime procedural drama. It's kind of like House meets Bones meets...I don't know, something about a hot doctor who solves murders. 

So Morris Chestnut is Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr., a private pathologist living and working in Miami who contracts with the local police force to help solve murders. Is a private pathologist actually a thing? Like, you can take the body of your loved one to this guy and he will do a private autopsy? I don't believe this is actually a job. 

Anyway, the two episodes I've seen have had pretty run of the mill murders to solve, though the Miami locale means they are a bit flashier than other similar shows. Dr. Rosewood is surrounded by quirky and clever friends (and lesbians!) and his Mom and is very observant (like House, but slutty). And there is sexual tension with the homicide detective (of course) who has a tragic back story (of course) and so has trust issues (of course). Unless you're a fan of the police procedural drama, you can pretty much skip this one.

Don't look so smug, Morris Chestnut.

Rosewood airs Wednesdays at 8:00PM on FOX.

Quantico: You guys, I really wanted to dislike this one. Some of my favorite bloggers, Tom and Lorenzo, wrote a review where they basically grumped about how the show is a collection of all the worst trends on television right now. The overly pretty people, the season-long flashback plot device, the "nobody is who they seem" mysteries, and the ridiculous plot twists--it's all true. But, dammit, I'm still hooked and will have to keep watching.

The series' protagonist is Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra), an overly gorgeous FBI-recruit who is suspected of committing a terrorist attack. Flashbacks tell her story as well as the story of her classmates at the FBI Academy in Quantico.So basically it's How to Get Away with Murder but with terrorism and FBI stuff.

Let's say that I liked it in spite of myself and even against my better judgment. If you're looking for something to fill your conspiracy theory drama slot, you can do a lot worse than this. Well, at least as far as I could tell from the pilot episode. Time will tell if things stay interesting...or devolve into a big stinky mess.

If this is what the FBI recruit-class actually looks like I will literally eat my hat. I'll boil it first, but by Jove, I will eat it.

Quantico airs Sundays at 10:00PM EST on ABC.

Friday, October 02, 2015

October Netflix: New Seasons of Things

So, new seasons of things have been popping up on Netflix. I've watched halfway into a few of them.

One of the problems that plagues continuing series is that, after the first two seasons or so, the plot tends to resolve all the really interesting things that brought you to the series in the first place, and now it has to find new conflict. I'm going to rank the series in ascending order of how well they do that.


Running to a murdered plotline
I had such high hopes for Longmire's fourth season. The last one tied up who killed Walt's wife, and yet there was a cliffhanger.

And now, four episodes in, Walt's still avenging his wife's death, the cliffhanger got tied up too fast, and, worst of all, the nuance in the original seasons seems to be lacking.

A good example is the character of Jacob Nighthorse. In the first season, he was a polarizing figure in a moral gray zone; the constructor of a casino on reservation land, Nighthorse was a forceful advocate for American Indian rights while also being a semi-criminal land developer. Now he's been developed into a cartoonish crime lord who uses American Indian grievance as a recruiting tool for his thugs and justification for his actions. I liked Longmire for its lack of "good Indian/bad Indian" cliches, but now that's gone, I kind of don't want to see how the series finishes. 

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Apparently, my wife and I weren't the only ones saying, "put more gold-plated, pearl-handled revolver into this series!" It shows up a lot in Season 3.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries seemed to be floundering a little in its second season; while still entertaining, the major interpersonal conflicts between the characters had basically been resolved and stayed in stasis.

I was going to write that for the third season as well, but the series started picking up in the third episode, making the romantic subplots more nuanced and, frankly, stepping up the game in the "murder of the week" department. Still definitely worth watching.

The Blacklist

These are ridiculously ugly sunglasses that James Spader wears all the time in the second season, possibly as a conspiracy involving the costume designer to make me want to destroy my television in sartorial fury, allowing a secret organization to replace it with a new one that explodes or bugs my apartment or releases biological weapons, or all three.
So, when you have a show whose first season is based on being so over-the-top with cliffhangers, every-other-episode twists, reveals, false reveals, etc. that the plot doesn't just border on incoherence, it is in fact completely nonsensical, you can't really jump the shark. 

Seriously, if James Spader's character Reddington water-skied over a shark to prove his cojones to a Mexican drug lord so that the drug lord would provide Reddington with the Swiss bank account number of an autistic Kazakhstani albino who can crack uncrackable ciphers by comparing them to the bar codes on bulk packages of candy, that would really only be par for the course for this show. Nearly every major plot point of every episode would make you say "wait, WHAT?!?" if you took The Blacklist seriously.

But that's not why you're watching, right? You don't really care if Elizabeth Keane figures out who her real parents are or what happened on the night of that mysterious fire or what she means to Reddington, right? You're watching because James Spader is amazing as an oleaginous criminal mastermind with amazing monologues. 

And, if you haven't heard one before, a Spader Monologue in The Blacklist is amazing. They tend to go like:

Red, did you kidnap and/or murder a person I kind of cared about again?

Lizzie, when I was a young man, I spent a summer kayaking. Besides developing an attractive tan, I learned some valuable things about the way one has to move while essentially alone in white water rapids. One day, I was passing over a particular stretch when a bear catching a salmon distracted me...

And it goes on for five minutes, and maybe Spader will answer the question, but who cares? He owns the character so completely that the fun is in watching.