Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Office: Fandom Merit and Malarkey

There's an odd trend in fandom that I've had the displeasure of observing that has to be explained before talking about the current season of The Office.

1. During the first season of a show, it can do no wrong and fandom overflows with love and creativity.

2. During the second season a show makes tweaks. Fans begin to question what they saw in the show in the first season. Their creativity is no longer a celebration of what they're watching, but an expression of what they wish they were watching.

3. At some point shortly afterward, fandom sours. Because we all know the guys running the show should totally be following what every single member of fandom wants, even if it makes no sense.
Recently, on an internet community that shall remain nameless, there have been multiple posts that caught my attention regarding the direction that the writing staff of The Office has taken with several characters.. People are pissed because… Ryan's wearing stupid clothes and… Jim isn't pulling pranks?

I chalk a lot of it up to anti-shippers (not to be mistaken for 'non-shippers'). A recent roasting of Pam decried her decision to drop out of art school because IT'S HER DREAM!!!!!!!!! (Exclamation points are fandom's, not my own.) Since Pam's 'idiotic' choice, she's accused of devolving into an uncaring pregnant jerk who's more of an annoyance than a source of entertainment. I would say the same of those who have decided Pam made an 'idiotic' choice.

Pam's 'dream' was to become an artist and she followed that by taking a few courses and having her work in an art show where it received little to no attention. After doing some web design for Dunder Mifflin, she decided to go to art school in New York. She failed classes, wasn't enjoying herself… and she missed Jim. Her decision to return to Scranton wasn't failure; it was recognition. While Pam loves art, it wasn't her biggest dream anymore. Her dream became a future with Jim.

Pam is no less of an artist because she dropped out of art school and she is not a failure because The Office chooses not to show what's going on in the garage Jim converted into an art studio. It would be wonderful if Pam's art were to re-emerge, transformed, at some point later in the series because it would no longer be driven by a need to fulfill a dream, but will be the extension of a dream fulfilled.

As for her attitude, I took issue with her asking people not to wear perfume, but understand that it's a mockery of the selfishness of motherhood sometimes today. It also set up the vomit gag. Small sacrifices, folks. But what I think people are angry at – or at least what I saw a backlash about – was her slapping Michael. Some people think too highly of themselves and underestimate how they'd react if their own mother were dating their own boss and then watched said boss dump their mother on her birthday.

Plus, this show is ridiculous. If you don't acknowledge that, you're too lost to debate with.

Jim's decision to grow within the company has been deemed inconsistent with his character and now that he's hooked up with Pam, he's boring. Somewhere we've bought into this idea that a television show is boring if the main couple is together. You know what happens when a couple in the real world gets together? They enter into a new phase in their relationship called 'Dating'. Then there's the 'Marriage' phase. I know we're not used to believing that phase can work, but trust me, it still can. And when the 'Marriage' phase starts, sometimes it turns into the 'Two Kids and a Minivan' phase.

When a show goes south after their couple hooks up, it's the fault of bad writers who've decided coupling means death instead of seeing it as just a new phase in a relationship.

Jim, like many people in the real world, never really had a goal. The point when he decided he wanted to transfer to another branch to get away from Pam (when he thought he just couldn't have her) he started to toy with the idea that maybe he could grow within Dunder Mifflin and become a great salesman. Retiring as a salesman isn't everyone's goal, but people do it every day and they've had great (and often profitable) lives. Once Jim started a real relationship with Pam, his goal became making a life with Pam. With that comes the responsibility that often requires us to put aside things like playing daily pranks in order to work just a little harder to bring in the dough. He will never lose the jester inside, but he's learned to be more reserved about it.

It's called Growing Up, something many in fandom would benefit from.

Outside of this relationship come the 'favorite character' gripes. A lot of fans fail to recognize that their favorite characters are not necessarily the main characters and that it is main characters around which the core story revolves. I, personally, do not like Michael Scott. I suffer through most of his scenes outside of the office, but he is a main character and I have few justifiable complaints about his scenes – like in this past week's where I expected the great salesman that Michael Scott actually IS to actually HAVE a 45 day plan - but I understand when my complaints are JUST because I don't particularly like the character.

I've also never had any real strong feelings towards Ryan. He was the Temp, then he was Fire Guy, then he was that guy with no sales who got a high position at corporate, then he was the corporate guy who cheated and went to jail, and now he's the Temp again. He's a slacker who only THINKS he's intelligent because he went to business school. If you work in an office there's bound to be someone who went to school, got a high paying position, and doesn't know jack. But Ryan has pretty eyes, why did mean "new" Jim put his office in a closet!?

His growth has been limited because in society some people don't grow up. It's shocking to see people complain about his lack of growth as a character while failing to recognize the growth in others (also shocking, the lack of complaints about characters like Dwight, Kelly, and Angela, who also have had very little growth). It makes me wonder what fandom thinks growth is, or if what they really want isn't character growth, but character shifts: Their favorites in the spotlight while main characters get reduced to background characters.

Kind of like Heroes. Which most people hate because of the constant character rotation and near stagnancy with said characters while the plot rolls around in circles.

You want to know why most shows stall out after a few years? A lack of forward motion with the relationships and main characters on the show in an attempt to "keep the status quo" and eventually, it just angers the audience because... it's boring.

A stalemate with major characters is what stops a show dead in its tracks. All of these characters should be constantly evolving in one direction or another. For The Office, sometimes that growth comes in the form of a promotion, or a pregnancy; for their audience, that growth comes in acknowledging that maybe their favorite characters aren't as 'awesome' as in the fanfiction they write.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fringe: Observers of Time

It's no secret that J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are fans of anything having to do with time. Abrams is the mastermind behind the hit ABC series, Lost, that has spent the last five seasons zipping through time via flashbacks and flash forwards before introducing actual time travel – and all signs point to more time travel and even imaginary timelines (or alternate realities) in the final season starting February 2010.

With Kurtzman and Orci, the trio's new Star Trek movie this past summer literally re-created the franchise utilizing an alternate reality from which they catapulted the rebirth. They've re-launched an old science fiction staple and done with it something rarely seen – turned it into a mainstream commodity. That people are talking of time travel and time jumps within their favorite series not as some clichéd way around problems, but as a curious and interesting way to push forward through the boundaries of storytelling is not only an exemplary achievement, it's exciting.
Last season, the trio launched the FOX series Fringe, centered on FBI agent Olivia Dunham and her team's experiences with what the show has called "The Pattern" – a series of paranormal events culminating towards something massive. That something, it's been debated within the show, is the battle of two alternate realities over the right to exist. Who wins, and how, remains to be seen, but in all this there are a group of men who've been seemingly given the task of watching these events unfold.

One of these men, called 'Observers', has been photographed at various "Pattern" related incidents, and up until now their involvement has been minimal and mostly through the eyes of Walter Bishop. Many years ago, on a drive with his son Peter, they got into a car accident, from which they were pulled (or at least Walter was) from certain death by an Observer. This past week's episode 'August' began with a different Observer watching over a woman in a park before abducting her. His actions were the first time an Observer has been seen on the show actively participating in his surroundings, as opposed to just watching, so it begs the question: Why now? Why this girl?

The Observers themselves are oblivious as well and the rules are laid out – they observe time as it exists, like watching a movie, and only step in and act to course correct something that, through their observations, they've altered somehow (as with Peter's death). It would seem they are keepers of time, ensuring that the events in their history remain in their history, which implies that – at least in the Fringe world – the history of a world can be changed. Of course, with this ideology comes all the thoughts that predate Fringe through the other realms of Abrams and co, particularly Lost.

Are the Observers simply the end-result of our status quo? From a future world where one of the alternate realities has already won the battle? Or will their changes alter the course of history, leaving them marooned to a different future.

It stands to reason that the future winner of this reality show-down is not ours. Why send observers into the past of the reality that won? Those histories are written in books and taught to school children. The lost history, the history of the civilization that perished, would be far more interesting. What events in our universe were different from theirs; what chain of events lead to our universe ending while theirs continued?

It's obvious that The Pattern is an important chain of events, and for each important chain of events there seems to be an assigned observer. A man (so far) with amplified senses and advanced motor skills who lacks an emotional connection to anyone around them. Similar to the soldiers in Walter's manifesto, possibly the solders that eventually resulted from Walter's manifesto, taken by William Bell to the other side, the Observers can read minds and move at incredible speeds, yet, are incapable of love.

Except that they are. The random kidnapping of Christine becomes far less random once we realize that this particular Observer, named August, has been following the young women from the time she was a girl. Her parents died in a bridge collapse and August – when he realizes that she will die on a flight to Italy – can't let her die twenty years later because he feels something for her. He loves her.

Of course, her life would be an inconsistency in the history, the possibility of a different outcome and the other Observers require that she die to correct it unless, Walter warns, August can find a way to make her important. The complexity of her importance – that she is the reason for the death of an Observer, is understated. It isn't the girl herself, but the feelings she elicits in August, that cause his death. He is compelled not simply to observe, but to act by sacrificing himself, because of his love for Christine (the play on the sacrifice of Christ should not be lost on the audience).

August has observed, and because of him the others have observed to a lesser extent, humanity – something seemingly lost in them – and this humanity will be the path towards a new future. Christine is not the first anomaly. The fact that they have a hired hitman on call implies that the Observers are keen to the fact that they ARE changing something – because it is impossible to observe something without leaving your own mark on it.

Twenty plus years ago Walter got into a car accident – caused by an Observer – that resulted in his son's death. Through some deal made with the Observer sent to observe him and The Pattern, the Peter from an alternate reality was eventually brought into our reality ultimately changing the course of all history. Or did the Observer allow this trade because he knew it was always part of the plan.

Only time will tell.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gossip Girl: How to Succeed

Let’s be honest, I started watching Gossip Girl to see beautiful people swan around beautiful places in beautiful clothes getting with other beautiful people. This show did not have a lot to aspire to. Surprise! It vastly exceeded my expectations with its risqué banter, themes of loneliness and popularity, and the dark past of its characters. So, I cast aside my initial evaluation and prepared to enjoy. Surprise! It is now hammy and convoluted. Whether this is due to what many former O.C devotees refer to as the S3 spiral of hell or the much-feared college decline, things have gone badly wrong. So, me being an all-knowing TV goddess (ahem....) I have 5 rules for Josh Schwarz and Stephanie Savage to follow in order to make like Bart Bass and be a bad-ass billionaire successful mofo. *Please kill me now for the mangled, clichéd, and desperate analogy*

1. Bring Back Original Recipe Blair

Stop exploiting Leighton’s versatility. Just because she has the ability to do comedy, does not mean she should be relegated to these ‘hahaha’ storylines. This whole desperate quest to become Queen of NYU is a) ridiculous as Blair already cast aside her mignons and the Colony Club saying she wasn’t dealing with High School anymore; b) stupid as it’s not funny watching Blair be left lonely after her ‘dastardly scheme’ fails, it’s actually sad.
This whole NYU storyline could have actually given us character development rather than regression. Seeing Blair really struggle with the loss of her identity and status could have been moving as well as interspersed with comedy. We could have seen Blair coping with living with Vanessa, who she sees as the representation of her polar opposite. Imagine how much more poignant the last scene between them where they realise how much they’ve lost and how alike they are would have been. If the writers are looking for drama, rather than using Blair’s schemes to divide her and Chuck and cause the seasonly rift with Serena, why not have her relapse with her bulimia? Chuck is devastated she can’t trust him and Serena is torn between telling her step-brother or keeping Blair’s loyalty. This would utilise Leighton’s dramatic acting ability, incorporate Chuck and relationship drama, be a real issue with Serena that tests their friendship/loyalty/trust, and get the whole cast involved – Cyrus and Eleanor worrying about her, Nate because of his previous history with Blair, and Dan and Vanessa realising Blair is not an evil witch but a real person with insecurities and problems.

2. Stop With The Guest Stars

We know they aren’t sticking around, so there is no point us getting involved in their storylines. Nate’s Romeo/Juliet romance has no credibility as we know Bree is disposable. Ditto Hilary Duff (sorry, I just can’t see her as Olivia, she’ll always be Hilary Duff/Lizzie Maguire to me) and Dan’s relationship. This point is particularly emphasised by Scott. FINE, I’ll concede at least he had a valid reason to be there, but otherwise really, really? They could have at least cast someone attractive and had him even slightly resemble Lily/Rufus. Seriously he looked like the love child of Pete Wentz and Rosario Dawson.
Not only do these guest stars serve almost no purpose but they eat up precious screentime. A few people may tune in to see Hilary Duff and Tyra Banks, but most loyal viewers tune in to see the regulars. They stop the main characters interacting with each other. Nate and Bree seemed to exist in a completely different TV show. People seem to be acting in little 2/3 person bubbles. Where are the scenes from S1 where the NJBC was out in force and sparked off with the Brooklynites? For example a memorable moment would be at the white brunch when Blair told Dan about Serena sleeping with Nate

3. Kill Off Jenny, Rufus, And Vanessa

I feel apathy at best, hatred at worst for these characters. Each one is in their own way completely redundant in Gossip Girl. Rufus/Lily is done. They are married. We do not need to see their pathetic conflicts and Rufus acting like a baby. Vanessa is a judgemental hypocrite. While she is useful as a sounding board for Dan, I feel that the sage advice could just as easily come from Eric, seeing as these two are apparently family though I don’t think they’ve said two words to each other. Use this Van-Hump-Der-Bass family to create original drama/conflict/relationships. Jenny is, like the guest stars, part of completely seperate world to the rest of the main cast. Constance is now OVER, please see Friday Night Lights for the graceful departure of a character - Smash and Jason Street. If Jenny does HAVE to be involved, please give her a bath and a burger. She looks like a crack whore.

4. Storylines With A Point

All that secret child drama for what? A 5 minute reunion where nothing is discussed and consists mainly of Lily reassuring Rufus of his love. Seriously, just watch it.
Carter/Bree WTF?! A family feud involving someone’s sister and an altar and a zzzzzzzz. No one cares nor has this had any real impact on the main characters. Useless, useless, useless.

5. Chuck/Blair White Hot Sex

One of the hottest couples, and yet at most we’ve seen a few kisses. Where are the scenes from last year with the smouldering tension, the partial nudity and heart-breaking emotion? Ok, maybe not heart-breaking (please no break-up/back together drama) but I want to see some passion. I wanted to see the rest of kinky waiter foreplay. I want to see the infamous red tights make a comeback. I want to see how they deal with sex within a committed relationship. And no, I'm not a pervert! Yes, I like the sweetness of Blair cuddling Chuck in bed and the fact that TPTB are trying to show us that they aren’t just about the sex, but I think that was effectively handled last season with the I Love You drama. Also, on that kinda point but not strictly related but what the fuck was that ‘I didn’t say I love you because I couldn’t trust you’ bullshit. Please writers, read your own damn script and watch your own damn show.

So, there you go Gossip Girl. A few hints and pointers from a disappointed viewer. Tell me your problems with the new season. Rant and rave. I like to think the TV Gods will hear our pleas!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The End Is Nigh: Blackout Disaster

Soooooooooooooo, I have been without my computer/internet/life for nearly a month now (seriously, I KNOW – there should be some sort of condolence card available for the loss of my extra limb) and having not been able to watch any TV – I live in the UK so have to download all the shows I watch – it got me to thinking: When is the worst possible time to cut-off a TV show?


Friday Night Lights
Before we know whether or not they won/lost the State Championship. Seriously, this would have killed me...the anticipation, the anxiety, the trepidation, the downright desperate desire to know what happened would have given me a cardiac arrest. Would Coach Taylor live his dream? Would Matt Saracen finally prove his worth as QB1? Would I get to see Tim Riggins whip off his shirt in a fit of unbridled joy? Let me hear you say it CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE.

Gossip Girl
Right before the wedding of Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf. Now, this spot was under stiff competition from ‘Right before the unveiling of Gossip Girl’, but let’s be honest, we know GG is kick-ass (She’s Veronica Mars people, c’mon!) and while she/he/it is intriguing, Chuck and Blair are this antagonistic, conflicted, damaged relationship that in my little shippy heart want to see have the iconic ‘I dos.’ P.S. Sorry about the dodgy manip

One Tree Hill
Please just turn this off. Seriously. Now. I’m not joking. Right now.

Criminal Minds

The Hotch at gun-point by Foyet. Does he live? Does he die? Is he sliced up Boston Reaper style? How are Haley and Jack affected? Or does The Hotch take him down in a tense frenetic battle of the wills and skills?

Before we meet Dr. Gregory House. Because then we would never have met him and been introduced into his wonderful miserable, pain-addled, bizarre ‘everybody lies’ world.

Grey’s Anatomy
Before we hear Burke say his vows. *Pre-emptive duck* I know there are so many other moments to pick from – some dramatic, some romantic, some life or death, but in all my life, this has to be the most beautiful set of vows I have ever heard and to be deprived of hearing them would be a true loss.
"I could promise to hold you and to cherish you, I could promise to be there in sickness and in health, I could say till death do us part but I won't. Those vows are for optimistic couples, the ones full of hope and I do not stand here on my wedding day optimistic or full of hope. I am not optimistic I am not hopeful, I am sure. I am steady, and I know that I am a heart man. I take them apart and put them back together, I hold them in my hands. I am a heart man. So this I am sure, you are my partner my lover my very best friend. My heart, my heart beats for you and on this day. The day of our wedding I promise you this. I promise you to lay my heart in the palm of your hands. I promise you me. "

Right before the final showdown between Clark Kent, Davis Bloome and Lex Luthor. Now I know what you’re thinking – Why not Superman? Why not Doomsday? Hasn’t Lex died???? OK, first of all, I’m not huge on comic books and due to legal complications, Smallville can’t actually ‘show’ Superman and in Smallville, we see through the eyes of Clark Kent, not Superman. Second, Doomsday can never be killed. Fact. So, the fight would be pretty one-sided. Plus, Sam Witwer is fiiiiiiinnnnnneeee, and I actually laughed out loud at the rubber man ‘DOOMSDAY’ suit, therefore Davis with just the red eyes to show his transformation. Thirdly, I want Michael Rosenbaum back! In my mind, Lex never died! It was all real!Lex’s clever doppelganger fiendish plan.
I want these guys to have a real, honest to god, big fireworks, blood dripping, humanity in peril, evil versus good, up-tempo rock anthem playing, FIGHT! And with their shirts off, did you say?? Yes, I’m in totally agreement! LET'S GET NEKKID! *Dribble dribble*

The Wire
Ever. Seriously, the greatest TV series that has ever ended. Oh, if it could have lived forever. However, it kind of does because it was so true to life, it was almost a documentary and to this day I imagine the lives of new Avons, Stringers, Omars, Marlos, Kimas, Rhondas on the streets and in the offices of Baltimore.

So, what about you? Your worst TV disasters? Has technology ever failed you at a critical moment?
Share with me – Misery Loves Company!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Office: The Wedding Countdown Begins!

Watch this post--we'll keep updating it--for all the info from now on involving Jim and Pam's wedding. Last things first? We've got a lot to catch up on!

Updated 10/1: Here's a new promo showing Pam getting all giddy about cashing a check.

Previously posted info under the cut.


First of all, here's a non-spoilery promo guaranteed to tug your heartstrings without spilling the beans:

Kristin's minions put a video up this evening of behind-the-scenes Jam wedding goodness:

There's also the small matter of THE COVER OF ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BITCHES!

The cover story of EW this week is about the wedding, and it's pretty spoilery. We learn that Jim gives a very touching speech at the rehearsal dinner, one that would be flawlessly romantic if it weren't for the fact that he apparently spills the beans about the baby about one day too soon. To make matters worse, looks like Michael is the one who tries to save Jim from total epic fail territory--but of course, this is only going to get The Most Awesome TV Groom Ever in even hotter water. Since we know one of the lines from his speech is, "People told me it was crazy to wait that long for a date with a girl I worked with, but I think even then, I knew I was waiting for my wife," I think we (and Pam!) will probably be willing to let him and his loose lips off the hook. There are also some pretty terrific behind-the-scenes videos of John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer at their EW photoshoot--you can watch those here.

We know the details now about their bridal attire, which you can read about here.

We also know that after the wedding, it's looking pretty likely that Michael's going to be hooking up with Pam's mom, so, y'know, cringe and wait for the "your baby will be my grandchild" jokes. (Yeah, if the old watchword was bastard--thanks, Angela!--then the new watchword is Grandpa.)

What's even more exciting is that, for Jim and Pam, the wedding is only the first in what's bound to be a season full of juicy Jam stories, as we anticipate the birth of their baby in February. (Oh, and PS, I'm reminding Mindy Kaling via Twitter just about every day that said baby has to be a girl. Join in on the harassment if you wish.)

Pilot News: Jabrams & Co. Getting Back in the Spy Biz!

As we celebrate the anniversary of Alias's first episode, it is fitting that word got out yesterday that J.J. Abrams, the man who thought, "Hey, let's do a show about a kickass spy," is currently developing a new hour-long series based around the concept of a married couple who spies together.

Described as lighter fare than his most famous projects offer, this series sounds a little like a brighter version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Couple of thoughts--

Jabrams's most enduring series have been those with heavy plots and a side of romance. People forget that he was also behind the short-lived Six Degrees and What About Brian, both of which were practically intolerable. This series is being billed as an "action-adventure-romance." And with the main characters already coupled up, I'm skeptical about the potential OTPness of the whole thing.

That said, with the right leads with the right kind of chemistry (could Nathan Fillion get out of Castle for this?) and really strong writing, this sounds like an interesting concept. And of course I'll give anything from Bad Robot the benefit of the doubt.

Lost & Sesame Street: Brought to You By the Numbers...

My Google Alerts went nutso yesterday when a press release went out stating that Matthew Fox will be a guest on this season of Sesame Street. There's really not much to say here, expect that it's going to be pretty freaking exciting. Though we hardly think that Sesame Street will tackle Lost's complex themes, many of which are geared toward audiences older than pre-schoolers, it's always interesting and amusing to see how the children's show simplifies the concepts of grown-up dramas for its young viewers. It probably goes straight over the kids' heads, but at least their parents--and the fangirls watching mid-morning PBS--will be entertained.

For instance, here's their recent parody of Mad Men, in which the titled is translated quite literally as the muppets explore different emotions, including mad:

"Good work, sycophants," also cracks me the hell up.

So what will Foxy's appearance include? Maybe he will literally be lost on Sesame Street, and it can be a lesson in what to do if you get separated from your mommy. Maybe he'll play doctor and show the kids how to put on Band-Aids.

Or maybe Big Bird will be conned by Oscar the Grouch to climb to the rooftop of Mr. Hooper's Store. (Oscar would do it himself but he can't leave the can.) And of course Big Bird will fall off the roof into a crumpled heap of feathers on the sidewalk of Sesame Street. Somehow, Oscar will get Big Bird to Jack, who will do his best to save Big Bird, even going so far as to transfuse him with his own blood. (The episode could be brought to you by the letter O Negative.) Just before Jack goes to amputate Big Bird's leg, Big Bird decides to let Doc off the hook. He dies, tragically; his dying words are, "Tell Snuffy..."

Unfortunately, Snuffleupagus is off having a sexy picnic with Sayid.


Friends: Epic Musical Reunion!

On Tuesday, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow were on hand at a charity concert to introduce Sheryl Crow. Unfortunately, Sheryl found she had a tough act to follow after an audience member shouted out "Smelly Cat!" Lisa indulged the audience and performed a few bars of her classic hit.

Love it!

Source: Just Jared

Alias: Happy Anniversary, Vaughns!

Eight years ago, Sydney Bristow became a double agent, with Michael Vaughn assigned as her handler. Thus began two epic relationships--theirs, and my relationship with Alias.

Damn, I feel old.

Glee: Of Roads Not Taken, Bowling as Foreplay, and Epic Broadway Collaborations

It has come to my attention that a lot of the people who appreciate television romances also appreciate things like Broadway musicals and Taylor Swift songs. I'm not trying to speak for everyone, as I'm sure there are plenty of people who love them some TV but found themselves on Team Kanye, but it seems that enjoying plot expressed in lyrics and melody is something many fangirls have in common.

So you can imagine how unsurprising I find it that Glee has quickly become a show with a strong and active fandom.

Yesterday's episode was quite good, even if it was the third straight episode centering around somebody quitting Glee.

"The Rhodes Not Taken" had good romantic development on all fronts, with Finn and Rachel sharing another kiss and Will and Emma having their first disagreement. It was the first episode in which I really felt engaged in the Finn/Rachel dynamic (has "Finchel" caught on yet?), as allllll that angst landed on them.

Finally, as always, the strongest part of the episode was undoubtedly the music. Not only did this episode dispense with the dream sequence numbers--all of these numbers were legitimately being performed--but they also, of course, featured the megatalented Emmy-winning actress, Kristin Chenoweth, for whom, incidentally, my sister claims she would go gay.

Her numbers, particularly the duet with Rachel, "Maybe This Time," were pitch-perfect, ranging from the forlorn "Alone" to Carrie Underwood's bouncy "Last Name." All of them were thoroughly delightful.

What was perhaps most poignant about her guest appearance was how it led to the absolutely show-stopping final number, "Somebody to Love." With Rachel back in Glee, the club performed their first song as a group since the newbies joined up. It was nothing short of incredible, with just about everyone rocking a solo. Of course, the song belonged to Finn and Rachel, who showed their onstage chemistry with not only some pretty outstanding vocals, but choreography that was oh-so-reminiscent of their first outing in "Don't Stop Believing."

Lastly, if you had told me a year ago, as I baked a cake while listening to the Spring Awakening, Hairspray, and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown cast recordings, that I would one day watch Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Kristin Effing Chenoweth do such a pitch-perfect project together--and one that would set Trending Topics afire, no less!--I would have slapped you in the face. And not just because a year ago I had no idea what Twitter was.

Gossip Girl: Van der Humphreys: Imminent

So. In my fandom closet, I have a long history with soap operas. And right at the top of that list is Jake and Vicky on Another World. You know, before AW got cancelled and their characters were moved to another show, where they were both eventually killed off.

How, you ask, is this remotely relevant? Because back in the day, their big, splashy, on-location wedding was shot at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

So, naturally, when I saw the paparazzi pictures of the Gossip Girl cast filming at the Botanic Garden, my brain went, “Ooooh! Wedding!” Which I then realized was ridiculous, because the GG cast filming somewhere in fancy clothes is proof of absolutely nothing.

But lo and behold, the title for episode 3x05 is “Rufus Getting Married.” Yay!

I’m always surprised when I read comments online that people don’t care about Rufus and Lily. Really? Because I think they’re adorable. Maybe there’s less story potential for them now that they’re getting married, but I love them together. When they’re not having the same fight over and over. I don’t even care that their wedding squickily makes OTP Dan and Serena step-siblings.

Here’s a thought: Does the Van der Humphrey union mean the end of the Brooklyn loft? Or, more importantly, the end of those absurdly quick and convenient trips back and forth between Brooklyn and the Upper East Side?

The Stepdad Rufus potential looks to be really sweet, too. I love that he wants to be a real dad in the string of Lily’s husbands. I don’t read many GG spoilers beyond these set pictures. But I can only hope that Papa Van der Woodsen will surface soon, leading to all kinds of chaos, drama, and fatherhood smackdowns.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bones: Some of Us Are Patient. Some of Us Are Not.

Now that Booth and Brennan seem like they're finally at least on the getting-together path (however long that path may be), Bones has become somewhat of a waiting game. And while the fandom seems content--at least for now--to wait this one out, they're not quite so patient in other respects. Right now, for instance, I'm sitting here at my computer watching the Bones fandom flail around me as the ladies wait--perhaps in vain--for the elusive illegal Canadian upload links.

It's an interesting phenomenon, this Bones-from-Canada thing. It could be argued that this activity is hurting the show in the long run, as potential Thursday night viewers are tuning in to commercial-free streaming video online the night before; it could also be argued that the Canadian preview night is helping sneak-peekers promote the show on Thursday, before it airs in America to presumably more viewers.

I will admit that I usually watch the night before, and have thus far not watched or DVRed the show on Fox. But many fangirls do not fall into this category. Indeed, it must be true that most of the people willing to hit refresh, refresh, refresh after 11:00 eastern time just to watch the episode 20 hours in advance are probably going to want to see it on their larger screen and DVR it for posterity ... or just freeze-framing a Booth/Brennan brush-pass.

For me, the benefit of watching the night before is simple--I don't like other people knowing things before I do. I am a knowledge control freak. And anyway, you're bound to get spoiled on Twitter at some point on Thursday, so it's also a preventative measure. Thirdly, my Thursday nights are effing crowded, so getting Bones out of the way on Wednesdays is pretty much the only reason why I'm actually watching Bones at all.

When Fandoms Collide

One of the most fun things about fandom is when two (or more!) of them collide. Sometimes this happens in-canon, like when Lost shockingly married Kate Austen off to Mal Reynolds/Captain Hammer/Johnny from Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.

And sometimes, you have to use your imagination.

Like when Addison Montgomery and Temperance Brennan shared the cover of TV Guide last year. An inquisitive fangirl imagines how ridiculous such a crossover would look if it really happened. As I said then, "It always gets me in a good mood seeing my favorite characters from different television universes get together for one fantastic adventure or just a TV Guide photo shoot."

So one can imagine how sillyface I find this breast cancer awareness PSA from Funny or Die:

Because that's basically Bones, Lily Aldrin, and Lila Garrity feeling each other up.

I'm just waiting for the icons.

The Big Bang Theory: Somewhere Here There's a "Small Bang" Joke

On Monday night's The Big Bang Theory, the gang explored something significantly less novel that the writers probably think it is: boring first-time sex.

This plotline was tired when it happened to Ed and Sarah Shephard Carol on Ed six years ago. Yeah, in the fourth season, they finally did it, with disappointing results. It was only after they decided to be Just Friends, thus removing the pressure to perform, that they had the good sex and realized they'd prefer to do that some more rather than call it quits.

Literally the exact same plotline we saw on TBBT on Monday.

I mean, if you think back, even Ross and Rachel got off to a rocky start. I'm sure y'all can name even more examples of sitcom couples who took two tries to get it right.

The one thing I will say in favor of The Big Bang Theory is that even when it brings harried plotlines, it adds a level of delight by including some truly funny jokes, including the following winner from Sheldon:

"If you people spent less time thinking about sex and more time concentrating on comic books, we'd have far fewer of these embarrassing moments."

Also, I really hate Lewis Black. Why must he insist on talking in such a hateful tone? I am such a fangirl for Jon Stewart, but even I fast-forward through his insufferable segments. He is an intolerable man, and I hope he had a spider in his collection that paralyzed his character and then he got buried alive.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lost: I Believe I Heard Something About Jack and Kate?

So the Lost season six news is finally picking up, and there's excitement to be had! Of course, if you know me, you also know that that could only mean one thing...

Jate's back, people!

Yes, Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly have been spotted several times on set together--including once to film a touchy-feeling kind of scene:

"Jack and Kate appear to hug/kiss or something and hold hands but it was hard to make out all the detail," says one of DarkUFO's sources. Forget how excited I am about the possibility of hugging and kissing--HAND-HOLDING??!!?

As we all know, Jack and Kate are the rulers of tactile romance. Who could forget the epic glass!hands scene in "I Do," which is TOTALLY the most romantic scene in that episode, amirite?

Or how about the even more epic graspy!hands scene in "The Man From Tallahassee," which is basically as close as two people can come to saying "I love you" without actually using the words?

And, y'know, there's always the classic grabby!hands scenes in "There's No Place Like Home," where Jack refuses to let Kate get left behind by the chopper.

So, yeah, I'm jazzed about the possibility of adding one of those to the list. Hugging-slash-kissing doesn't hurt, either.

All in all, we still have no idea what to expect from Lost's sixth and final season. Spoilers seem to indicate now that rather than a standalone "course correction" premiere showing what would have happened had Oceanic 815 not crashed, we'll instead be seeing a full-on alternate timeline--or three. It appears that the premiere will pick up in three separate years: in 2007 with Sun, Fake Locke, Ben, and the new people; in 1977 with the aftermath of the Jughead explosion; and in 2004 with the safe arrival of Flight 815 to LAX. The photo shown above suggests that Jack and Kate share screentime at the airport in Los Angeles (notice their crashwear). Whether this is a casual brush-pass as they gather their stuff at baggage claim or an epic aiding-and-abetting situation has yet to be determined. Either way, I'm excited.

Some shippers, including myself, are fearful of the possibility of Kate ending up with Sawyer in one timeline and Jack in the other. However, I remain optimistic for two reasons. One is that the timelines will eventually have to converge and she'll still have to end up picking one. Second, I'm still hopeful that they'll use the alternate universe to further pursue the concept of fate, ultimately giving Jaters (of course, Jaters) the satisfaction of knowing that our OTP is, in fact, totally fate. Like in that Gwyneth Paltrow movie, Sliding Doors, where she ends up with John Hannah in both timelines. Except the epic Lost version.

In other unrelated-to-Jate Lost fandom news, check out the bitchin' cookie cutters I just bought:

I am imagining a party in which I serve airplane cookies decorated to look like Oceanic 815 (and, of course, broken in half). And look how easy it would be to slice off that thumb with a knife and make a perfect four-toed foot cookie. WHO WOULDN'T WANT A FOUR-TOED FOOT COOKIE?

Lost: Look Who's in the Premiere!

An interesting Lost tidbit under the cut!

That's right, y'all! DarkUFO confirmed that Desmond is indeed in the season six premiere.

Not exactly sure what that means (especially since if they're working the reset idea, Desmond would theoretically be shot back to the island), but I like it!

(More Lost flailing later tonight.)

Doctor Who: A Message to Lead Myself Here (Plus a General Message to Lead Y'all Here)

Hello, everybody! Yes, we know, we've been way too quiet this season. We have a couple of decent reasons--one is that I think we've all taken on a lot of TV this season ... [crickets] Just me, then? With all the watching I've been doing, I barely have time to digest it, let alone discuss it coherently. By the time I can even get the words, "Oh, my God, why didn't they use 'Bones and Booth fix the plumbing' as an excuse to throw a wet T-shirt contest?" out of my mouth, it's time to move on to, "Holy crap, Fringe really is using the same house as in "Home.'"

The other reason is Twitter. It's so easy to have a squee freakout in 140 characters! I can spaz about Jim's Office promotion and then move seamlessly into a brief analysis of Derek and Meredith's Grey's sexcapades.

(You can follow me on Twitter here, by the way.)

Anyway, from now on, I'm going to try to post very regularly, expanding upon my tweets of glee and bringing the fangirl flailing back where it belongs -- Chaos in General.

Our first piece of excitement comes, shockingly, from my real life. The University I attended for my Bachelor's is not my favorite place in the world. I could write a dictionary-length diatribe about my hatred of the school and the people who work there--and often, the people who attend there, too. See, my opinion of the student body is that they're selfish, overprivileged, and paying way too much for both their crappy education and their designer leggings.

And then today, I look out the window of a classroom and I see this:

Oh my gosh, when did this school get witty nerds!?!

For those unfamiliar with the awesome signified by Bad Wolf, it refers to an important part of Doctor Who, most often associated with Rose Tyler. The Bad Wolf loomed large over the first season of the modern series, with the words showing up all over the adventures of The Doctor and Rose. It was only in the first season finale that the true meaning became apparent--Rose herself was the Bad Wolf, scattering the words throughout the universe to lead her and The Doctor to that moment: "I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them ... in time, and space. A message to lead myself here."

The words continued to appear randomly throughout the next few seasons, a consistent if not constant reminder of the connection between Rose and The Doctor--and always a nice throwback to the sacrifices made in "The Parting of the Ways." Putting up the words "Bad Wolf" in huge letters on the wall of the Academic Center (and seriously, that had to take a good long while) is not only a nod to Doctor Who, but it's a deeper, more clever reference, since it used it in a way the canon would have used it to signify something important, as if Rose Tyler herself had actually scattered the phrase onto the campus. What I'm saying is if they had just thrown up the word "Dalek," I would have chuckled, but I probably wouldn't have felt the need to pull out my Blackberry and take a picture.

So not only did I "Oh, my God!" in an otherwise quiet room, my faith was restored that there actually are, as I said, witty nerds in my presence.

This witty nerd will be back tomorrow with quick updates about more stuff in need of a good flail. (Like The Office.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

True Blood: The Stand Out Episode

Every TV series has that one episode that everyone remembers, that provides mass debate and discussion and that is the authoritative commentary on what the show is about. For True Blood, I think that episode is 2-9 ‘I Will Rise Up.’

What a fantastic episode! I honestly think this the definitive, game-changing episode of the season and possibly the series. There is just so much to say about this episode – the storylines, the cinematography, the characters and the wider implications for the vampire/human world.

OK, while I obviously understand that TV is fiction and purely a method of entertainment, I take TV seriously and am emotionally and mentally invested in the shows I watch and over analyse anything and everything (hence this blog!). So while one could take True Blood at face value as a sexy Southern vampire show and the episode as just part of the ‘story’, I was thinking about why this episode is so revolutionary. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it was the ‘message’ of this episode. I could try to clumsily explain but I think it is best expressed by Jung “The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” This episode has relevance and meaning for not just the world of vampires, but the world of man and the reason for humanity.

But before we delve into the deep end, let’s take a swim in the shallow end of the pool. I have two words for you - Alexsander Skaarsgard. Oh. My. Good. Lord. What a delicious man!*Jumps out pool* So, back on topic *sigh*, the dream sequence between Sookie and Eric. This has stirred up mass debate and conflict. Many were put off by this new ‘schmoopy’ Eric, arguing that it was completely out-of-character for Eric and was honestly just quite cheesy. However, we must remember that this is Sookie’s dream i.e. this is how Sookie imagines Eric in bed. For me the most powerful moment between Sookie and Eric was the moment where they just lightly brush hands when Eric leaves Godric with Sookie. So much was said and unsaid in that tiny touch, in that infinitesimal caress.

Forget Bill and Sookie. Forget Eric and Sookie. The hottest new vampire/human couple in town is Hoyt and Jessica. Their sweetness factor is through.the.roof. It’s just such a cute tale of first love, but it’s not all sugar and spice. They’re going through some real difficulties but what I love about them is they don’t just use it as an excuse to break up and create more drama, they deal with it together and are growing up. In this episode, they are fighting the bigotry and hate of Mrs Foytenberry who is used as a foil to show us the bigotry and hate of the outside world. Their relationship shows us the ‘real’ issues a vampire/human couple face. Through their ‘supernatural’ problems, like Jessica’s hymen growing back, we glimpse into how they are as a couple and people and how together they work to find a solution. Too often with vampires, we assume they are these superior beings, but with Jessica we see she is just a scared teenage girl and through this, we glimpse their humanity.

There was FINALLY delevopment for the storyline of Maryann. If it wasn’t for the phenomenal work done by Michelle Forbes, to be honest I would FF through the Maryann scenes because there has seemed to be such little reason for this arc. You know I thought I would never hear these words out of my mouth but Jeez, am I glad there are no more orgies – seriously they were getting boooorrrrrrriiiiinnnnngggg. Now, this could have been deliberate storytelling by the writers to show us the banality of excess, but I’m slightly sceptical. In this episode, we were actually shown a glimpse into her psyche and what drives her.

However let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty. For me, Godric’s death is the most important event in the True Blood verse. I was struck by how delicately this was handled. I’m not sure how this event can be topped in terms of impact and emotion.

First we have the powerful imagery and cinematography. The sight of this child burning alive in blue flames against the background of the dusky dawn and the unknowing city. The audience were granted a rare chance in seeing someone with the utmost dignity sacrifice himself towards God. We saw this formidable 1000 year old ‘super human’ alight due to the effect of the sun next to this tiny innocent girl who stood by unharmed. It showed the true weakness of vampires – they are ultimately the dark.

This idea of light/dark is highlighted by the use of the Christian message of love and forgiveness. While I don’t want to get too over-involved in the discussion of religion (too many foot/mouth moments), I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions, I will underscore the different ways religion in particular the concept of sacrifice was portrayed. We had the act of war with Luke with the bomb, the frenzy of pagan excess with Maryann and the town; and then we had Godric, truly offering himself, still, willing and the true meaning of awe-some as in awe inspiring, breathtaking act of sacrifice.

One of the ways I think True Blood differentiates itself from other vampire shows, is that it not only tells us what it is to be a vampire, but what it is to be human. Alan Ball explores Life and all it means. Godric says “Why would you be so cruel?” when Eric is trying to convince him to live. For all the vampire benefits, the one that is the most sought after is eternal life. But through that one question, we see that life without end is meaningless and actually ‘cruel.’ We see the ultimate irony of how eternal life is perceived as heaven but in reality is the complete opposite - hell. Godric genuinely longs for mortality, for time with meaning, for life with meaning, for death with meaning. I believe in his last moments, like Pinocchio, Godric was bestowed the girft of life. Maybe not in body, but in soul. Where he expresses surprise in Sookie’s empathy – me=floods of tears. I hate to be all pretentious and slightly lazy by using a quote but Richter expresses eloquently what I am clumsily trying to explain “Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving another.” Godric and Sookie were truly never so exquisite as that fateful morning.

“I’m scared for you”. This quote shows us why Sookie is the bomb. A lot of people have criticised the character of Sookie, and while she has her faults, I think this episode shows her best nature and why Bill and Eric are so fascinated with her because at her core she is a compassionate soul, which both of them have so little experience of. She is so novel to them in their world of night, ego and cruelty. Particularly to Bill from what we have seen in his flashbacks with Lorena.

Ah, Lorena. Psychopathic bitch that she is, we see a certain, if not love, then bond with Bill. This bond of maker/makee is explored in the episode. We have the contrast of Bill/Lorena and Bill/Jessica compared to Eric/Godric. Bill and Jessica were both unwilling and their ‘turnings’ were violent, dark struggles. However, Eric sees Godric as his personal saviour, as his own god. This is almost reversed at Godric’s death. Godric till the very end is astounded and in awe of Eric’s vitality. The fact that Godric knows Eric still has ‘life’ left in him and so commanded him to leave is testament to their love and loyalty. We see their different outtakes on life - Godric is weighed by the burden of his years, Eric still has his joie de vivre and this ultimate disparity is encapsulated by their exchange: Eric “I would fight you now if I could.” Godric “I know.” It’s beautiful and reminds us of their history as warriors. They were not just brothers-in-arms, they are each others “Father, Brother, Child.” Godric says he’ll be all those things, and at the very end he is all those things to Eric and vice versa. The caress by Godric says it all. Such tenderness and hope. If anyone doubts whether vampires have feelings, this must surely prove otherwise.

And last but certainly not least, I must praise the acting in this episode which was absolutely stellar, in particular by Anna Paquin and Allan Hyde. Their exchange on the roof should be the one they both put in for the Emmys.

So, there you have it, my long, convoluted explanation of why you MUST MUST MUST watch True Blood, if not at least this episode. Cast aside your preconceptions of a vampire show, Twilight this certainly ain’t!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fall Season 2009: FlashForward

I’m a fan of Lost, Heroes, Alias, Fringe, X-Files – any story that can blend a little (or a lot) of science fiction and time travel into a complex and mysterious serial drama, and I’m sold. So it says something when I have to stop getting excited for FlashForward to take a deep breath and remind myself that these types of shows fail to deliver (except Farscape, bless you).

I often get the feeling that the show writers are a bit confused themselves. The starting idea is brilliant, they love their characters, and they keep a little something out of the mix to help stir things up in season two and three... and then, the flame sort of sizzles and you’re left with Alias’ Elixir of Life, or in the case of X-Files, some overly complex, muddled plot that involved bees, Super Soldiers and The Syndicate, I think?

Heroes is resetting again, apparently unable to build upon the season before and once more wiping the slate clean (not that I can blame them). Lost is nearing its finish line, and I am more and more convinced that we’ll be left with a lot of unanswered questions and a fairly unsatisfactory answer as to what the island actually is. And you can tell JJ and team learned because they started to go down the same path with Fringe and all of a sudden it was like someone smart finally said, “you know, let’s just get to the damn point and tell them there’s an alternate universe.” Thank you, Someone Smart!

The thing is, I like science fiction and time travel and complex and mysterious storylines. I like fully fleshed out characters and confusing relationships. But if I am going to commit to watching your show weekly, and hang on for the ride season after season to the finish, is it too much to also ask for a well crafted show arc? I want to think and question and be surprised when there are twists and also satisfied when there are answers. Hell, I’d be more proud to be a fan of writers that thought out a brilliant six seasons and just walked away at the end of their contract instead of getting reeled in by the network that decided they wanted to milk more from the cash cow.

So please forgive me if despite my excitement for FlashForward, I’m coming into it a little hesitant. I have no doubts the first season will be brilliant, but there will be ranting like no other if this show goes the way of most.

Now, all that said, here’s why I actually think this show is going to ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF:

1. I read the book, and though I already know the two aren’t going to be alike in much more than a layer of primer, the book was thought provoking and romantic (I know). It was the usual fate vs. free will main plot, but the subplot was all about reality now vs. reality future, relationships and hope. They also announced at Comic-Con that the novelist, Robert J. Sawyer, will pen one of the episodes.

2. Unlike the book, the “flash forward” takes everyone to April 29, 2010. For a television series, putting the flash 21 years in the future isn’t nearly as exciting, so good move there. What will happen when we hit the date? Or the better question, what will happen after?

3. It’s almost like the writers know the Lost fans are going to watch but are also coming in slightly bitter and suspicious, heh. They have already confirmed that we will not be facing “Island Time” with this series. It will progress in normal time. Praise be!

4. It has an impressive cast; among them, Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Gabrielle Union, and Losties Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger.

5. The writers have a five season arc (22 episodes each). And that means it will have continuity that actually makes sense, and satisfactory answers to questions that were set up episodes or seasons before. Hello! Music to my ears. Please stay true to this and I may actually have one additional show to add to my Best Shows Evar!1 list (hi, Farscape - also seriously, you all need to see this).

Unlike Lost, where a bracelet worn by two women and deliberately shown in one episode is there to MEAN NOTHING (argh, rant), Robert J. Sawyer himself had this to say about FlashForward, "I've had very fascinating conversations with David [Goyer, executive producer] about things that we're putting in the pilot that we hope most people won't notice, but are there so that when we play that card 10 episodes or five seasons down the road, nobody will be able to go back and say, 'That wasn't set up properly,'" Sawyer said. "That's the level at which this show is being thought out."

Guys, it might just make me cry of happy.

Season One premiers in the U.S. on September 24th.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fringe - New Season: New World

Any fan of JJ Abrams can tell you that he has a penchant for creating female leads struggling between two worlds. With 'Felicity' there was Felicity's conflict between becoming the doctor her father expected her to be, and becoming the artist her heart wanted to be.

In 'Alias' there was Sydney's battle between remaining a secret government agent to make the world a better place and becoming a regular woman, wife and mother, to live the life she'd always dreamt of.

On 'Lost' there is Kate's choice between playing into the bad girl fugitive lifestyle she thinks she deserves and being the good and happy family woman she desires to be.

With 'Fringe' there is literally a female lead struggling between two worlds.

The season one finale saw Olivia mysteriously escape into an alternate universe, of which we know very little, and the premier skipped past the events of her time there and thrust her, literally, back into this one with veiled memories of her meeting with Walter Bishop's previous partner, William Bell, among - possibly - other things.

The questions of how she got there, how she got back, what exactly happened to her during that time, who is this shape shifting soldier after her, and what do they want with her will be the context of the rest of this season. It is curious that she woke only when Peter sat at her bedside (much like she telepathically lit the lights on the puzzle last season with Peter standing behind her) and the words she muttered – in Greek – were words Peter's mother, an unseen force thus far in this story, used to recite to Peter on a daily basis.

Be a better man than your father.

The frustration of a show like this is speculation. Did Olivia meet Peter's mother? Or did Olivia somehow tap into some memory in the recesses of Peter's mind? And if she did, why? Is there some bond between them that allows her to tap into her powers? What exactly IS her power? The video of her as a child seemed to suggest – when compared to the images of Mr. Jones' artificially created time/space jump location from the prison cell – that she had herself made some sort of possibly natural time/space jump.

By doing so, did Olivia create the alternate universe that is predicted to destroy ours?

Or did she simply travel there? (Since they opened the doors to it -- Is our Olivia really OUR Olivia -- or did each universe's Olivia switch over? And while we're at it, just how alike ARE the two worlds? Is there a second Walter? Or is William Bell REALLY that world's Walter Bishop?) And will Peter eventually be forced to see Olivia as an experiment in order to prevent that from happening?

Alternate universes are an old staple of science fiction, and that Fringe comes from the same people who have more recently created 'Lost' and the newest 'Star Trek' movie, it brings to mind the same themes those works emphasize: fate and destiny and free will and the consequences that each brings.

And it brings us back to choices. If Olivia does have the ability to transport herself between the universes, is the proverbial grass greener on the other side? Does she have the responsibility to put Peter back in his universe? Or was it his destiny to be in ours? Most importantly though, does Olivia have the power to decide which universe survives the impending merge? Or does she have the ability to seal the alternate worlds permanently from one another.

And what are the consequences of it all?

At the heart of all these things is one woman with very real feelings and very real connections to the people around her – whether they are from this dimension or another – and the knowledge that her actions could put any one of them in danger, or eradicate them from existence will weigh heavy on her shoulders. But is it any different from her situation now?

One could argue that Olivia wants the same things Felicity, Sydney and Kate wanted before her: the freedom to choose the life she leads. To not have extenuating circumstances and the aspirations of others direct her paths, and to be able to ultimately walk away from the path her life had been on towards what she truly wants. And what Olivia wants is, whether you deem it to be misogynistic or a natural instinct, to be a regular ol' mom in an ordinary world.

Her character came to life midway through the first season with the introduction of her sister and niece, and she is most human, most empathetic, when she's cutting loose in those few moments outside of work, most especially with Peter and her niece. Her line of work, you could say, is what Walter Bishop and William Bell engrained in her as a child – the rules of some imaginary future army (much like Sydney Bristol in 'Alias') that would be beckoned when the time was right. Her life has become the byproduct of that.

But is that her destiny? Does she walk the fine line between these worlds protecting them both as some sort of superhuman soldier? Or can she walk away, creating a new life – a new dimension of herself.

It's a good thing we have another season to get closer to that answer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bones: Are Our Psychic Powers Stronger Than Cyndi Lauper's?

Must a girl do everything herself around here?

I haven't blogged about Bones all summer, a feat I'd feel more proud of if I had blogged about a ton of other things all summer. But now, with the premiere airing tonight "tomorrow," we've got tons to talk about.

And even if I am abstaining from Bones flailing--no, really, I am, ask anyone--that doesn't mean I don't see and hear things, and it doesn't mean my brain stops theorizing. Better to get these things on the blog (or at least out of Twitter) before the premiere airs.
Okay, here's what we know.

Cyndi Lauper's in tonight's "tomorrow's" premiere, playing Angela's psychic. She's involved with the case--which the critics agree is about as crucial to this episode as it was in "Critic in the Cabernet"--but the real intrigue of Avalon Harmonia is what she theorizes about Booth and Brennan. The opening scene, we think, is Avalon reading Brennan's tarot cards. She ruminates:

"I see a sick man in the hospital. He takes refuge in a dream life. You're there, in the dream, and you're helping him to create that dream life by telling him a story. You're both so happy in the story, so happy it's almost sad when he wakes up.... The man whose life you saved is really excited to see you again."

Brennan, of course, dismisses this, but it's hard for us, the audience, not to believe Avalon may be on to something when we see a following clip, in which Booth greets Brennan in her office with a hug and a very happy face.

From promos, we know that Brennan does have a fight scene, presumably the scripted one in the clinic that was also scripted to end in Booth rescuing--and then making out with--Brennan at the crime scene. (At this point, all signs point to that having been Hart messing with the fans, and I would be incredibly impressed if he managed to pull off hiding that big of a reveal.) We know there is a kiss of some kind, however, though we've been told that it's a mere forehead kiss.

I know a lot of fangirls who were disappointed by that, and to that I have two important points. #1: I learned the hard way, never get too excited about a Bones storyline that seems whoa obvious. And #2: This could actually be a really good thing.

Because we saw a little split-second scene of them on the street, in which Brennan jokes, "Do you want me to kiss you on the forehead?" and Booth agrees, closing his eyes and leaning toward her. She laughs it off, but we guess Booth's request was an effort to prove or disprove something Avalon said regarding the pair's relationship. We assume that later in the episode (perhaps once he's saved her?), she'll actually give him that forehead kiss, and it will validate for Booth whatever he's confused about. The point being, Booth doesn't need a crime scene PDA to prove what he feels for Brennan is real; it's even more poignant to show that he gets all fluttery inside just from a kiss to the forehead.

Speaking of Booth being confused, we know from another clip (also in the YouTube video above) that Sweets is trying to push Booth to revisit the feelings evoked from the "coma dream." Putting together a few key pieces of intel, it seems like Booth is having regular brain scans, and Sweets is analyzing them, in conjunction with therapy, to help Booth get back to normal. The joke I've been using is, Sweets says to Booth, in a different turn of phrase, "This is your brain. This is your brain on Brennan." We love what Cam tells Booth at the bar (heard on audio clips): "Be sure about your feelings, because if you crack that shell and you change your mind, she'll die of loneliness before she'll trust anyone ever again."

We also know, from the last clip included in that YouTube montage, that Brennan is familiar with this "coma dream" business. (Sorry, that's still hard to type without air quotes.) Booth knows she wrote it as part of her book. Whether we actually see a scene where they put these pieces together, or whether we get the idea that they talked about it before she fled to Guatemala, has yet to be determined. I think far more interesting that what Booth subconsciously experienced while under the knife is what Brennan consciously typed while sitting in his hospital room.

I think the end scene will be Booth coming to the realization that he definitely feels something epic for Brennan. It'll hit him like a slap in the face, but still being confused--and having heard what Cam had to say--he won't be sure enough to really act on this yet. (We, the audience, will be convinced, because it will corroborate Avalon's predictions and, subsequently, the "coma dream.") I think the "device" that's been alluded to will be Booth struggling to reconcile what he thinks he feels with what he knows about his relationship with Brennan, and we'll see this play out in the coming episodes as Booth, to use David Boreanaz's turn of phrase, "courting" Brennan.

A lot of people I know have their hopes up really, really high. The premiere has been getting good reviews, but I think it's important for everyone to try not to anticipate having a huge, massive squeefest. The difference between what critics think and what fangirls think can often be huge. I think it seems likely that the premiere is going to set up a strong season, with potential for a further build for Booth and Brennan, but I don't think viewers are in for a Booth and Brennan fluff party. I don't think they'll make out at a crime scene. I don't think they'll necessarily take the qualifiers off of their ILYs. So if that's what you're waiting for, you might want to exhale. I'm not saying it doesn't have the potential to be entertaining (Cyndi Lauper's accent could probably carry the entire episode by itself), but I'm concerned about a mass disappointment at about 11:30 tonight.

Oh, hell, what am I saying? You all liked the damn finale.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall Kickstart 2009: Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl is back for a third season tonight, and we're filled with anxious excitement. On the one hand, new storylines bring fresh promise to the show, which had a lagging season two. And on the other hand, we can't remember the last time a high-school based show successfully sent its main characters off to college. As just about everyone in the cast heads to NYU, we're cautiously optimistic about the fate of our beloved (and behated!) characters.

Excels At: Delicious drama. I've long argued that Gossip Girl is what The Hills would be if it didn't even try to be "reality." Between hookups, breakups, frenemies, and long-lost half-siblings shared with your ex-boyfriend, this show succeeds week to week at bringing the crazy. It's well-done, too. Even when the show reaches deep into the cliche jar (no, really, Serena and Dan share a half-sibling, who's now in New York looking for his parents), it puts a fresh spin and a Blair Waldorf smackdown on an old trick.

Needs Improvement: The end of the second season was hard to watch. Dan hooked up with a teacher, a move that could have been interesting if it wasn't so heavy-handed and creepy. Or if it had been Chuck. Chuck could've gotten away with teacher-doing. Nate probably could have, too, but he had his cougar-hookup arc earlier in the season.

Part of the problem was that the stories have begun to over-feature recurring characters. After the hugely awesome Georgina arc in season one, the writers began to introduce more and more characters to come in and stir up drama. In season two, Nate's grandparents came to make crazy, as did sketchball Aaron Rose, Poppy Lifton, Lord Marcus Beaton (and his aforementioned cougar stepmom, Lady Catherine), sucky friend Agnes, would-be rapist Jack Bass, noted sleazy Spanish teacher Rachel Carr, and bizarro-plotline driver Elle the "Nanny." And that list doesn't even count Scott, Lily and Rufus's biological son, who made his first appearance in the season finale.

Too much! Can we get back to the show where the biggest drama comes straight from our main characters?

Also, can someone please tell me what purpose Vanessa and Nate serve? They are so freaking useless.

Interpersonal Dynamics:
Most notably, Chuck/Blair seems to finally be officially on. It's exciting, mostly because it seems like they're still going to be up to no good, only now, they're kind of like this little mischief-making team. Which I guess they always have been. Look for their wily ways to get the best of them as the season progresses, as they struggle to keep from manipulating each other. (I think it can't be done.)

Dan and Serena is on the sidelines for a while, it looks like. Which is sad, but what can you do when you find out you share a half-sibling? We all know they'll figure it out in the end; for now, it'll be interesting to watch them grow as individuals for a little while.

And of course, there's Lily and Rufus, who are also finally official after two seasons of grown-up tension. We figure they're probably not over all of their problems, either, but it's more interesting to watch them try and figure it out together rather than continue the will-they-or-won't-they. The OMGSOMUCHSEXUALTENSION is really best left for the barely-legals. Also, just some early speculation? I wouldn't be surprised to see Lily get pregnant this year. Just throwing that out there.

Particularly Notable: Hilary Duff is joining the cast for an arc, where she plays an

Pay Attention To: Dorota. I'm still convinced she's Gossip Girl.

Overall Score: 3.5 Stars.

Season Two premieres in the U.S. tonight at 9:00 on the CW.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Supernatural is BACK BABY! It’s Apocalypse Now, and You’re All Invited!

Floods. Hurricanes. Swine flu. North Korea. And... fangirls?! THE END IS TRULY NIGH.

"Look Mr. Edlund. Yes I'm a fan, but I really don't appreciate being mocked." Well, I hate to tell you this Becky, but...

The season five premiere of Supernatural, 'Sympathy for the Devil', aired last night on the CW, and I might sound like a broken record at this point but why are you not yet watching this show?! The episode did not disappoint in ANY aspect: it had humor (oh, the postmodernism of it all!), drama, wtf moments, angst and everything else that makes Supernatural the best show no one's watching - and those who do watch it, well, they're crazy, as this episode establishes. SamLicker89, I'm looking at YOU.

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for SPN 5x01 'Sympathy for the Devil'. However, it also contains several MORE excellent reasons why you should give the show a try, aside from the ones I've already mentioned, so do keep reading and let yourself be convinced!


"What in the devil is your name?" "Little old Sammity-Sam!"

When season four ended, Sam and Dean were standing at the Boca del Inferno itself (oh wait no, that was Buffy), after Sammy accidentally set Lucifer free. Oops. Yeah, Dean's not going to be so quick to forgive and forget this one, and he spends most of the episode preparing us for the big angsty ending by telling Sam that his apologies aren't good enough. Very inappropriately this kept reminding me of a scene in Greek where Casey found out that Frannie is dating Evan. This upset her because Casey used to date Evan, but Evan cheated on her with Rebecca, who is now dating Cappie, who used to date Casey, who is Frannie's sorority sister, and Frannie told Casey to stay with Evan anyway, after which Casey slept with Cappie, but then Casey and Evan broke up and now Casey doesn't want to be friends with Frannie anymore, and then she... says her apologies aren't enough..... um, huh? What? This is SRS TELEVISION people, honest!

Basically it's all very angsty though. And see, as is the case of all good television friend-/ships, angst only serves to strengthen their relationship in the end. I KNOW this. But seeing Dean stand there and tell Sam that nothing could be like it was, that was a tough moment. I think honestly I only really like angst when I'm seeing it in retrospective so I know everything will be alright. And who knows what will happen to the Winchester brothers at the end of this season (which is in all likelihood going to be the last)? Even though my ideal ending for the show is the two brothers riding off into the sunset in the Impala, rock music blaring as they bicker, I just don't see it happening at this point. Sad smiley face.

Kodak moment!! Sort of. This is a random picture but it's one of the precious few smiles shared between any characters in this episode. Besides the crazy fangirl smiles of course.

As far as characters in this episode go, I must say Dean might have been a tad too emo, even for me. Of course the tense relationship between the brothers dampened any interaction they had with each other and other people, but he was just moping, and his voice was way deep, and was it just me or did his eyes seem smaller than usual? Don't get me wrong, if ever there was a time to be mopey this would be it, but even though we all love Harry Potter (right? RIGHT?!), we can all admit that he was a bit of a pain in Order of the Phoenix. This season definitely looks like it'll be darker than the rest, but then, we knew this. And in Supernatural, darker usually equals more absurd and black humor, so count me in. Ah the humor. I'll get to that in a moment. As for Sam in this episode, he was really a pleasant surprise. See, I've always been a Dean girl, it's never really been a question, but actually I was surprised by how much I understood and emphasized with Sam here. He's made some bad choices in the past year, but he's honestly had the best of intentions at any given time. He reminds me a lot of Jack Shephard when I really stop to examine it, and with all the crap he got this episode from fake!Bobby and Dean and the angels (indirectly), I think I'm actually on his side so far, loyalty-wise. I hope I won't have to take that any further though, because I prefer to just be on the Winchester side and leave it at that.

"You know your surrogate daddy's still awake. Screaming in there." Oh good... Meg is back. /sarcasm

Thank god Bobby was possessed. I mean, there's no way he couldn't have been but still!! He truly is their surrogate daddy, and unlike Dean, Bobby actually showed some compassion for Sam in this episode: "I ain't cutting you out boy. Not ever." I LOVE Bobby! He's my favorite non-main character and personally I think that he's a much healthier father figure than John ever was, and seeing him struggle against the demon possession because of his love for the boys (again, we've only ever seen John be able to do this, because of his love for Sam and Dean), and impale himself with the knife... Bobby is the anchor of Supernatural, I keep saying this, amongst all the deceit and bad blood Bobby has always been the one person who would never ever betray Sam and Dean (and implicitly us, the viewers). Him losing the use of his legs is horrible and I hate to see what it'll do to him, but I hope it'll only give him even more chances to be awesome. Kicking ass and taking names, wheelchair-bound – if anyone can do it, it's Bobby!

Before I continue though, I have to call out the writers. I'm sure other reviews will mention this too, but I just couldn't let it go. I mean I'll forgive the writers of Supernatural for just about anything because they're so over-the-top awesome, but how on earth do they justify Bobby ever getting possessed?! He was the one who gave Sam and Dean the charms to prevent possession, and if the boys were smart enough to get the tattoos surely a seasoned hunter like Bobby would have done it years ago! The only possibility would be if other demons grabbed him somewhere, ripped off his charm and held him down while he was being possessed...? I don't know. I'd like this cleared up. It seemed a bit rushed, but I suppose they had a lot to get through in this episode.

The Devil Wears Island. In a theater near you. SOON. *Muahaha*.

Oh, actually there is one more character who deserves a section of their own: Lucifer! Or rather, his pre-possessed (haha see what I did there?) vessel. It is, of course, our very own Jacob from Lost, and man... that's the best typecasting I have EVER seen. From THE Jacob to one of the most ambiguous figures ever, the fallen angel. I mean man, talk about irony. The episode was called 'Sympathy for the Devil', but honestly I don’t think we got to see a lot of that yet... I'm very intrigued by the way Lucifer will be portrayed on the show, because I don't doubt he will be interesting. We already know that Mark Pellegrino can bring the necessary depth to a character like this.

Now we're on the subject, did this remind anyone else of the scene with Ben and Jack in the church in '316'? Hmmm.

Speaking of vessels, Dean was informed that he is meant to serve as the vessel for Michael, the arch angel who is supposed to kill Lucifer. Eh. I'm sure fellow blogger Scarlett will agree with me that this wouldn't be... the best thing ever... exactly? I have a feeling that in the end, Dean will have to submit his body to Michael, and this will end up killing him/destroying his soul. And that would be a terrible thing to watch. Poor, tortured Dean's last minutes/scenes would not even be DEAN, it would be someone who possessed him, and the fight would indeed end up being bigger than the boys, but carry less emotional weight because of that fact. There is an alternative though: when Dean was talking about forgetting the angels and the demons and fighting to save the planet themselves, it might only have been empty words – but could they actually hold some promise of what's to come? They've got Cas (yay, btw!!) on their side it seems... so here's hoping!

Um... way to play into Becky's fanfictional assumptions there, Dean. OH COME ON everybody's thinking it!

Okay I think that's all the mythology stuff out of the way! Now I want to talk about the writers of the show, who are clearly on crack. Or something. EL-OH-effing-EL people!! Please do me a favor and watch the clip below. Even if you never want to watch another minute of this show you WILL want to see this. Basically someone's written a book series about the boys, and this girl is a fan. Like, a FAN...

*calms self* I have so much to say about this. First of all, the fact that the show exists within the show in the form of a cult book series with a group of "small, but dedicated followers" was first introduced in the season 4 episode 'The Monster At the End of This Book', and it builds on what I'm sure is a great inside joke within the writers' room responding to the fact that such an overwhelming portion of the real SPN fandom consists of screaming fangirls and Wincest shippers. In season 4, they took this joke as far as to make a few sarcastic comments ("Don't they know we're brothers?!" "That doesn't seem to matter."), but now apparently they've thrown out all pretenses and actually introduced a fangirl into the story! The writers have NO shame, and I love them to bits for it! What other franchise dares to take such royal piss out of their own fandom – and gets away with it?! I'm sure the "SamLicker89"s of the world realize that Wincest is bizarre, and honestly I think it's pretty neat that rather than condemning these fans' existence, the writers are actually incorporating it all into the story! Just like they're incorporating swine flu, and the hurricanes, and the other disasters. I like to believe that we're meant to associate crazy fangirls writing slash and coming out of the woodwork with the apocalypse. Oh my god you guys, SERIOUSLY, not just any show could get away with stuff like this! A character not only commenting on the show itself ("The demon stuff was getting kinda old") but writing honest to god pornographic incestual fanfiction about the main characters, on prime time network television! And this in the same episode as some of the most gripping, emotional material the show has yet produced. "Sam touched, no caressed, Dean's clavicle. 'This is wrong,' said Dean. 'Then I don't want to be right,' replied Sam, in a husky voice!"

This show is bat-shite crazy. I love it.

To finish off here, I could not have been more pleased with this premiere. I breezed through the show over the summer and after that I've rewatched a lot of it, and I only loved it more the second time around. The premieres have never stood out to me though, including the Pilot, so I wasn't expecting too much with this one. Also, I've never before experienced waiting for a single episode of the show before so I didn't know how much I would enjoy it as a weekly event rather than as a marathon show, but it's shaping up to be pretty epic! This episode had it all, including of course heaps of angst – which better be leading up to the hug of all hugs, and the SamLicker89s of the world better not have scared them off such showings of affection! I hope this is truly a sign that season five is going to be the BIGGEST, the BEST and the most BADASS (I couldn’t think of another b-word and I was on a roll. A BREAD-roll, omfg I’m so funny. They should really hire me on the show. For the lulz) season ever.

Score: 9/10. = IT WINS.

((Also this is the first post I've done where I succeeded in posting it correctly on the first try!! Yay me!))