Friday, August 28, 2009

The Office: Double the Fun?

I am so confused.

We've got so many conflicting and confusing set reports from The Office that some fans are beginning to wonder if we're being supremely messed with. While I highly doubt the show has the time, budget, or the need to film decoy scenes (especially ones that involve flying across the country), the reports and visual evidence I've seen are highly confusing.

So I thought we'd take a little time this afternoon to analyze what we've got here and try to make some sense out of it. Ready? Spoilers under the cut.


Jim and Pam get married in the fourth episode of The Office.

Jim and Pam have a rehearsal dinner (so sayeth Jenna) and a church wedding, complete with Halpert family members, Beesly family members, and the entire Office staff.

Jim and Pam get married in Niagara Falls, so sayeth Randy Cordray, a producer: "All I can really say is that the wedding does happen in Niagara Falls, and Jim and Pam decide that they would really like to get closer to the waterfall, and so to do that, they take a ride on the Maid of the Mist."

Jim and Pam are in their wedding clothes on the boat ride (including Jim's chopped tie, indicating it's the same day as the church wedding), and some local news outlets have said that they get married on board.

We know that at some point in the episode, Jim and Pam arrive in Niagara Falls; he's shown carrying an overnight bag, while she's carrying her wedding dress:

We also know Jim and Pam. In "Cafe Disco," they agreed that although the idea of eloping was nice, they wanted a "wedding wedding."

We know that Pam wants her parents to be at her wedding. (Duh.)

We also know they're kind of overwhelmed at the idea of a wedding wedding. Jenna said at the TCAs that "It's going to be a destination wedding, probably in Niagara Falls. By making it a destination wedding, the hope is that nobody from the office will come."

We know that, at their wedding, they're still trying to hide the pregnancy.

Sidebar: This never turns out looking good.

Okay, so this is what I've put together from all of these things.

The church wedding takes place in Buffalo. Perhaps they will retcon something and say that Pam is from there. (We know from "Job Fair" that she went to high school in Scranton, but perhaps her family is originally from upstate New York. Obviously, we know that Jim grew up in Scranton, in the house that he and Pam now own.)

Maybe they choose that location because the minister knows Pam's family and they can invite the entire office and hope that they don't all decide to make the four-and-a-half-hour drive (thanks, Google maps!). And, of course, Jim and Pam are shocked when the whole office does make the trip. (I wouldn't be. Who wouldn't want to go to that wedding?)

So, basically, between Michael making a toast and Pam's parents fighting, maybe the day doesn't turn out so perfect for Jim and Pam. I'm hoping that Michael manages to do one of his classic moves where he acts like an ass all day but then ends up saying something really sweet--like his "never ever ever ever give up" to Jim in "Booze Cruise." (And I'm hoping Pam's mom tells a story about a certain late-night phone call.)

Plus, they'll have to keep their biggest excitement--their daughter baby--under wraps all day, and that's gotta be hard. I mean, you can't tell me that the show's going to spend the entire Jim and Pam wedding episode without some precious acknowledgment of the fact that Halpert's marrying his daughter's child's mother, can you?

Enter act five: Jim and Pam sneak out of their own wedding reception to go on a little boat ride. They don't actually get married on the boat, I bet, they're just still in their wedding clothes because they snuck out of the reception. And this is where things get almost too precious to handle. They're alone (except for obviously the camera crew), they're married, and they can talk about how happy they are to be starting their family, etc. etc. etc. Romantic, precious, my dog perplexed at seeing me lose my shit...

That's my take on how all of this could fit together. They could also pull a Marshall and Lily and get married quietly before the ceremony. Only glitches there are that (A) Um, Marshall and Lily did that recently and (B) Jim and Pam obviously get super-drenched on the boat, yet in the shots from the church, they look fresh as spring meadow. So that doesn't seem very likely.

I'd say it was just an early start to their honeymoon, but they're in the same clothes, so it's gotta be the same day.

So, yeah, I'm betting it's a reception skip-out. Did I convince you?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Evolution of the Epic Bromance

This post will focus on something which is not quite shipping in the romantic sense, even though the concepts share a lot of the same characteristics: I speak here of the televisual "bromance". As most of you reading this will probably be girls, I assume that we're all familiar with girl-friendships (hos over bros, y'all! Holler!), and enjoy seeing and identifying with these on TV (eg. Peyton and Brooke from One Tree Hill, or Maria and Liz from Roswell). As for relationships on TV I'm sure we all wish we could identify, and spend a lot of time trying and failing to make life imitate art – Jack Shephards just don't grow on trees, damn it! But when it comes to m/m friendships (or relationships for that matter), we don't really have a lot of experience or understanding of how these work in real life. Men can have beautiful friendships but they usually remain a mystery to us women because of those damn sexual politics. That's right, I just used that phrase. What TV can offer us in this case then, is an exclusive fly-on-the-wall glimpse at boy dynamics. It's true that sometimes all we see is delusional women's interpretation of how male friendships should work (see: all fanfiction in the world), but it's none the less fascinating to us. It's why your boyfriend steals your Cosmo (and thinks you don’t notice): we'll never understand the opposite sex, and thus it fascinates us, and those on-screen male friendships help satisfy that need for understanding.

But look no further: in this blog I'll investigate the idea of this so-called bromance! I'll look at a number of prominent examples and use them to discuss different aspects of this idea, and maybe discuss sexual politics some more. You know... for the lulz.


Let's start by looking at some specific examples with actual brothers. Haha, like I would ever pass up an opportunity to discuss the Winchester boys, so I'll start there:

Sam and Dean Winchester – Supernatural
"All I'm saying, Sammy, all I'm saying is that you're my weak spot, and I'm yours." – Dean, 3x16 'No Rest for the Wicked'

I thought I'd start with these guys rather than beat around the bush with it, because the Winchesters pretty much define the epic bromance as we know it. Supernatural revolves around the relationship between Sam and Dean, and everything they hunt, everyone they save, somehow reflects something the brothers are struggling with, whether it be the boy they meet who is trying to save his little brother, or the spirit of a little girl who haunts her now elderly sister's family because she is lonely. It's underscored time and time again in the show that all the brothers have is each other, and they would literally rather die than be apart. There's no white picket fences in these guys' futures, no chance of them settling down with a pretty girl each and only seeing each other for Christmas and Thanksgiving, their bond is far too all-encompassing for that. And we eat this stuff up, because there's nothing more attractive to us romantic suckers than a guy who can not only show compassion for his girl but for his fellow man (for any guys reading: that's the key, btw. You're welcome), and because Sam and Dean are brothers they can do so without it having any romantic undertones. As far as canon goes, the need to assure the audience of the platonic nature of their relationship never arises because duh, they're related, and this "excuse" allows the writers and actors to go all out emotionally. It's interesting to note that this show is primarily written by men (though my sources tell me they tend to leave the big emotional scenes for Sera Gamble), and of course the actors are the ones who really bring out the intensity in the scenes written for them. It's delicious for us girls to get to watch these guys be so close, and without having to worry about love triangles or the usual shipper problems, because it will always be Sam and Dean, no question about it.

In fact, the actors themselves are so invested in the Sam/Dean dynamic that in the episode where they had to act indifferent to each other, What is and What Should Never Be (2x20), Eric Kripke says in the commentary that they struggled massively with the material, both telling him that the brotherly bond was so instrumental in tying them together that it scared them to watch it absolve and not being able to play off each other like they usually did. That's an epic relationship if I ever saw one.

Nathan and Lucas Scott – One Tree Hill
"Just playing walkie-talkies with my brother." – Lucas, 6x14 'A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene'

I'll use Nathan and Lucas as my second example of a literal bromance, because I think their dynamic is significantly different from Sam and Dean's. Unlike Supernatural, One Tree Hill is a show primarily focused on romance and complicated love triangles, and the Nathan/Lucas relationship is allowed to slowly develop and be cemented in the background. But that doesn't make it any less adorable, and only intensifies the squee-level of the scenes they actually do get together, like the walkie-talkie scene depicted above. Romantic relationships are great but on television their milestones are usually limited to: the first kiss, the breakup, the reconciliation, the other man/woman, the engagement, the marriage, the pregnancy and the birth. Of course those epic ships we all love so much tend to feature more heavy angst because it adds that extra depth and raises the stakes (Jate, I'm looking at you), but in a show like One Tree Hill it's all relatively straight forward. Lucas and Nathan, however, are more complicated because of the rivalry between them instigated by their father, Nathan's growing disconnection from his parents and relationship with Lucas' best friend Haley, Lucas' relationship with Nathan's ex-girlfriend Peyton, and the usual ABC of growing up. Especially in season 1 the conflict between the two brothers was a central part of the show dynamic. Like a ship that starts out hating each other, we wish for these guys to have their epic throwdown and then bonding session, but it has to come slow and steady, and One Tree Hill delivered. Nathan and Lucas succeeded where Keith and Dan failed, and it tugged at our heartstrings.

The ultimate resolution for these non-ships is usually a hug. In a ship it would be a kiss, and really the difference in the happiness these moments bring us is not that great. We just want the characters we love to be happy and together, in whichever way we choose to interpret that word.

Joey and Chandler – Friends
"All right, look! If this is just a big joke to you, then forget about it, all right?! This means something to me! And if it doesn't mean anything to you, then you should get out of there, otherwise you're just an idiot in a box!" – Joey, 4x08 'TOW Chandler in a Box'

I've discussed the close relationships between brothers – but when the characters are not brothers, the lines get a little blurry. I almost left these guys off my list but bumped them up over McDreamy and McSteamy, because, it's Joey and Chan! J and C! J-Man and Channie (6x02)! These guys defined awkward best-friend 4eva male relationships for the comedic generation. A lot of the humor in the Joey/Chandler relationship stemmed from the homosexual undertones and their "girly" way of being friends (i.e. they actually shared their feelings). Their friendship sometimes strayed into ambiguous territory, but it was always done with a laugh: the most significant moment (in my opinion; there were a lot) to show this is when they get the chick and get into a very domestic argument parodying parentage:

Joey: Well, anyway, I got to go change, I'm ah, meeting some of the cast for drinks.
Chandler: Excuse me?
Joey: What?
Chandler: I stayed home from work today while you were at rehearsal so somebody could be here with our chick!
Joey: Hey! Who was up from 2 o'clock this morning until 5 o'clock this morning trying to get her back to sleep?
Chandler: You don't think I get up when you get up?
Joey: Ohh, here it comes.
Chandler: Yes, here it comes! I'm stuck here all day, and then you come in and spend two seconds with us and then expect to go off gallivanting with your friends?! Well I don't think so mister!
Joey: Hey! I need to relax, okay? I was working all day!
Chandler: And you don't think taking care of our chick is work?
Joey: That's not what I said. Okay, I just meant...
Chandler: I know what you meant! (pause) You notice that ever since we got this chick, we've been fighting a lot more than we used to?
Joey: I don't know, maybe we weren't ready to have a chick.
(3x21 'TOW The Chick and the Duck')

Before Chandler and Monica got together (and to some extent after, as well), there was a lot of writing for Joey and Chandler as if they were a couple. Besides from Rachel and Ross they were probably the two friends who were closest and spent the most time together, and while for the most time the "relationship" insinuations were comically exaggerated, there was a lot of truth in it as well. Looking at Friends realistically is always a challenge, but if we try, we see two guys in a New York apartment, unlucky/unhappy in love and with their careers, who at the end of the day can come home to each other and take a deep breath because it's safe, and easy, and free of complications. That's what characterizes a true friendship and what makes life a little bit easier for us all, and it's nice to see that guys can also have it. For me personally I take a lot of comfort in the Chandler/Joey friendship because it reminds me of my own best friends, and it's always depressing to see those guys who only hang out to get wasted or play video games. Joey and Chandler's friendship is one for the ages, and it's influenced the televisual bromances that followed – for example Seth/Ryan, which I will discuss below.

Seth and Ryan – The O.C.
"Alright, come on buddy, get ready. For some old-fashioned Seth/Ryan Time." – Seth, 3x04 'The Last Waltz'

Like One Tree Hill, The O.C. is primarily about romance, But Ryan and Seth's relationship did a lot to define the show, and came to symbolize The O.C.'s over-arching theme: the merging of two worlds (Chino and The O.C., rich and poor, tough and touchy-feely, etc).

Seth and Ryan are like the odd couple, with their different backgrounds and personalities it shouldn't be possible for them to be friends, and yet they are. They have very funny, sarcastic scenes and their jokes are usually focused on Ryan's masculinity and Seth's lack of same. Like with Chandler and Joey, Ryan and Seth's close bond is sometimes indirectly (more or less) addressed in the show:

Seth (walking in on Ryan changing): Hey! Oh... sorry. I'm surprised that hasn't happened before. Not saying I'm disappointed it hasn't happened before just saying the mathematical probability of...
Ryan: Yeah. Crying during chick flicks... walking in on me getting dressed...
Seth: Yeah, what's your point? Okay, I'm not seeing what you're getting at. Do you work out?
Ryan: Not really.
Seth: Cool, me neither. I'm gonna go watch some hockey.
(1x24 'The Proposal')

But nothing is ever actually insinuated between them, and why would it be? Sure, there are Seth/Ryan shippers out there and by all means go for it, but it's always been clear in the show that Seth and Summer belonged together and that Ryan, at least, never considered a relationship with a man. We love this friendship because it functions as a Constant among all the Ryan-Marissa-Seth-Summer-Anna-Taylor-Luke-Oliver-Trey-Johnny-Kaitlin-blablablablaaaah drama. We never have to worry about it, or read anything into it, it's nice and relaxing, and I know I personally always get that "aaahhhh" feeling settling into some good old-fashioned Seth/Ryan time. It's just them. Nothing to get worked up about here.

Hurley and Charlie – Lost
"Just remember... I love you man." – Charlie. "Yeah whatever, I love you too." – Hurley, 3x21 'Greatest Hits'

My last example is one which might not have gotten a lot of screen time in which to develop, but it was one of those rare treats for Lost fans whenever these guys got to bond and remove us from all the seriousness for a while. This relationship was maybe not as epic in its entirety, but they sure had their squeeful moments! My top three are:

3. 3x10 'Tricia Tanaka is Dead'

Bromances on TV are often used for comedic effect, but sometimes the funny is interwoven with seriousness and melancholy, and that’s when it gets really great, in my opinion. This moment from the car is great. "Let's look death in the face and say, whatever dude."

2. 3x21 'Greatest Hits'

The last hug. Charlie has to make sure Hurley doesn't come along, because he's set in the sacrifice he has to make. It's heartbreaking, and poignant, and even if Charlie is doing this for Claire and Aaron it doesn't make his love for Hurley any less beautiful.

1. 1x07 'The Moth'

When Charlie and Jack emerge from the cave we get the romantic payoff when Kate hugs Jack, but the male fans (and us) also get their resolution, which they can enjoy without feeling emasculated, in the Hurley/Charlie hug followed by "Dude, you rock!" (It happens a while into the video but it's worth waiting for, just for the Jate hug!)

(But... what about the actual romances?)

Before we finish, there's a dilemma I want to address which inevitably comes up when you discuss bromances in this fashion: On one hand, you want to distance yourself from the hormone-ridden fangirls who over-sexualise everything from Shrek to Harry Potter, and thus you try to completely ignore the supposed homoeroticism in these relationships (as I have done so far)... yet on the other hand, is it really such a stretch to imagine that Ryan and Seth or Chandler and Joey could have been romantically involved? The intense feelings are certainly already there, and sometimes I wonder if the only reason shows choose not to go there is because of the political statement it would make, and the creators are, ironically, trying to avoid the drama. It's true that not every relationship is romantic, but the problem with television is that romance is always a factor in m/f relationships. Hence the triangles and quadrangles of doom. Torchwood intensifies this by making Captain Jack bisexual (above shown making out with James Marsters), but here it's just another extreme because he just has sex with everyone. Television shows simplify the world, and included in this we sadly have our token ethnicities, our token gays, our token white trash, etc. I suppose if there is a morale to this post it is that it would be nice once in a while to see some complexity and variation in television show relationships. Let's see a bromance that actually develops into a romance without the fuss and fanfare (see Willow and Tara in Buffy – they got it right). Let's see a friendship between a boy and a girl which is never anything else (Haley and Lucas from OTH is the best example I can think of here). Show the world that these issues are not such a big deal, and then move on.

In conclusion:

We all have our soft spots, and male friendships is one of mine. I'm not one of those people who need to make everything into romance, and in the cases I have mentioned above I think the relationships are as amazing as they are because romance plays no part in them. From Supernatural, where the brothers' relationship is the core of the whole show, to Friends where everything even remotely serious needs to be turned into a joke somehow, these bromances have touched me, and I hope you feel the same way. What is your favorite on-screen bromance? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

*Screen cap credits:,,,,
**And special thanks to Aly for looking over this post for me and helping me find a good Churley quote!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall Season 2009: The Mentalist

It only makes sense after lavishing over Lie To Me that I admit to watching The Mentalist, too. After all, it films at the WB, I work at the WB; oh yes, my loyalty streak runs true.

I know you’ve all heard of this show; let’s count how many times CBS can call it the number one new show of the season. Is it deserved? Is there some unique story or chemistry between the characters that pushes it ahead of the crowd? Is it really just Psych on a primetime network?

Excels At: Entertainment. There’s no doubt that the show is fun. You have your characters and their quirky relationships, the silly antics, and that gosh darn formulaic crime drama merriment. The show isn’t particularly deep, but in this case, it’s not a bad thing. The humor is enjoyable, the plotlines simple but engaging, and when facing another season full of angst-ridden, convoluted, mystery-driven dramas, this show hits good time breather out of the park.

Also, the cast is just pretty. And Simon Baker is apparently something akin to Australian gold dust, so let’s just say that the show is very easy on the eyes.

Needs Improvement: Really, the show is a ratings success, so I doubt there will be any shaking up of this formula. I don’t have much hope for the storylines getting less obvious, so my next request... character backstories.

It’s not all fun and games in The Mentalist; lead character Patrick Jane has a torturous background that seriously rivals that of most characters on TV today. Wife and daughter murdered by a serial killer Patrick was unable to capture when helping the police as a pretend psychic? Ouch. I know the Red John storyline is going to continue for a long while, but we really only learn anything about Patrick when it revolves around this plot, and the show and his personality do quite a 180 at those times. I think that’s the point, but some more continuity, some more building of character arcs would help this show build a solid base and will stand it apart from the average feel-good dramas.

And side note: for a show that plays on the word “Red” for its episode names, you’d think the Red John plot would be utilized a whole lot more.

Interpersonal Dynamics: Patrick Jane/Teresa Lisbon – it’s going to be slow to develop, but you know there’s something there already. He trusts her, which says a lot since he doesn’t speak about the Red John incident to just anyone, and she has a pretty difficult past of her own. Step one for bonding!

Wayne Rigsby/Grace Van Pelt – probably most people’s favorite couple. It’s adorable, it’s sweet, she’s innocent, he’s protective, and you know Grace is going to fall for him (to hell with regulations!) soon.

Kimball Cho – my new TV boyfriend; thus, the ‘ship is him and me. It’s awesome. There will be websites, you just wait. But really, you’ll find it hard not to love the juvie and military record backstory combined with the deadpan delivery style and dry wit.

The characters together never fail to amuse, and as a cast, they seem to actually like working with one another, and that very nicely translates as such on screen.

Particularly Notable: Not the best, nor my favorite episode, but “Red Handed” is one of those episodes that I remember often. Seeing Patrick at work in a casino with his observation skills, and the team’s interactions during the whole gift giving/returning scenes is great and a good example of the light-hearted humor that makes this show a winner.

Pay Attention To: The Red John plotline; a second season means more interaction, more development, and some more insight into Patrick’s past. Rigsby/Van Pelt; you know it’s going to happen.

Overall Score: 3.5 Stars.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fall Season 2009: Lie To Me

Maybe you heard of the show; it carried itself through its 13 episode freshman season quietly, had a wee bit of help here and there from the FOX promotions department, and tried its best to make up for its mid-season start as a show that suddenly seemed a little like a copycat, and was thoroughly trounced in numbers by The Mentalist anyway.

But it you’ve been keeping an eye on the TV (and really, why wouldn’t you? Have you seen all the delicious pre-season commercials that have started?), you may have noticed that FOX is making more of an effort to support this little show and give it the attention it rightfully deserves. So if you’ve toyed with the idea of catching up or just adding it to the TiVo list this season, or if you’re already a Liar at heart (okay, I tried. Prepare to see Lie To Me Fan written out a lot), here’s what you need to know:

Excels At: Seriously complex personal histories and deeply layered interpersonal relationships. The Mentalist, this show is not! Divorce, suicide, drug addiction, honesty, lies, cheating, spying, abuse – look what we discovered about our main cast in just 13 episodes. Then put all that backstory into their interactions with one another and it is genius.

And I put that first so you got all excited and didn’t back away going boo and boring at the science of the show. The Lightman Group, to which our esteemed group of characters belongs, helps solve crimes through (and pulling directly from Wikipedia here because the words are just so pretty) “reaching the truth through applied psychology: interpreting microexpressions through the Facial Action Coding System, and body language.” While Temperance Brennan may not approve of me referring to it as a “science”, exactly how do I learn how to do this? Imagine the possibilities. And yes, it’s as cool as it sounds. There are set-ups to trap, tests to engage, and voice and video analyses that I’d like to employ on my next date.

Needs Improvement: It can be cookie-cutter as a procedural drama; there are times when the ending is as clear as a smog-free Los Angeles day. And if you don’t know LA, a smog-free day isn’t common, but still, some more focus on the storyline and how it utilizes the science, versus “here’s a cool new psychology trick; how do we tell a story around it?” will be helpful as we move into season two. Also, more humor! There was some nice witty charm to the start of the season that definitely took a turn to angst and drama as the season progressed. I love the heart wrenching, but more personality quirks (give Dr. Foster junk food; she’s hilarious!) and light-hearted moments are on my wish list this season.

Interpersonal Dynamics: I’ll own up to being a Cal Lightman/Gillian Foster fan right now because it’s likely 9/10ths of what I’ll eventually write about this show will focus on them. Come on, he calls her “love”. But really, co-workers who trust each other implicitly, but who also try to keep their personal lives separate from one another because they know there’s something between the two of them that, if acknowledged or acted upon, could destroy their working relationship? Recipe for success!

Then there’s the Cal Lightman/Ria Torres dynamic. Teacher and protégée, but Cal is used to being followed and to being right, and Ria is stubborn and emotional. Some of the tensest moments in the season were the two of them butting heads.

And finally, Ria Torres/Eli Loker. Since he never lies, we know he has a thing for Ria. Will it evolve? Will he be able to climb up from the demotion to unpaid intern for his folly last year?

Even the guest stars – Cal’s ex-wife, his daughter, Gillian’s husband, Mekhi Phifer as an FBI agent – help add to the crazy dynamic between the main characters. Definitely the show’s strength is in its characters, their personalities, and their interactions.

Particularly Notable: I’d choose a Cal/Gillian moment, but when the storyline is tight, everything falls into place beautifully. “Blinded”, the second to last episode in the season, was a wonderfully set up and told story. When they (and we) all realize that Cal has been running a “long con”, and that all of them were pawns in his master strategy, it’s a particularly awesome moment. And it makes the scene between Cal/Gillian, after she’s been attacked, when he tells her that continuing this case isn’t worth it, so much more meaningful.

Pay Attention To: The new show runner. Shawn Ryan (creator and writer of The Unit and The Shield) takes over for season two. Expect more character development, harsh realism, and controversy.

Overall Score: 4 Stars.

Season Two premiers in the U.S. on September 28th.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Office: Game On, Folks, It's Wedding Time

If you were standing outside my apartment right now, you'd think there was a small animal dying in here. In reality, it's just me having a freakout on this lovely Sunday morning.

Under the cut are some spoilerific Office pictures.


Jim and Pam are getting married, y'all!

Between Jim's fancy new haircut and Pam's barely-there baby bump, I am just about dead with all of the excitement. (Also, what's going on with Jim's tie? Did he have a run-in with Abbey Bartlet?)

Aside from the fact that it's been a long time since I've been this excited about a TV wedding, I'm thrilled to see that the show seems to be doing this the right way. I was frustrated last year by the lack of Jim and Pam storylines, and it seemed that a lot of viewers translated the inattention paid to them as "Jam is boring." Now, though, it appears the show is putting the focus on the Halperts, with both their wedding and the February birth of their daughter baby constituting hour-long episodes. And with the fourth episode of the season chronicling their wedding day, we're told to expect to meet more of their family members, which I love.

Okay, side note. There's nothing weirder than seeing the wedding of the people you love and not recognizing anyone in the bridal party. But it's also strange when they have only their coworkers in their wedding. Like, seriously? Angela and Hodgins don't have any friends or family outside of the lab?

So it's nice to see that The Office might try to find a middle ground by introducing us to Jim's parents (you know, the ones with the bad taste in clown art) and other assorted relatives.

I spent a good part of my evening last night on the phone with Leigh, lamenting how shows are so reluctant to resolve "will they or won't they" that they wait far too long to get the OTP together. I get frustrated when ninety-minute movies don't have epilogues; when I've invested years into a television show and its respective relationships, they need to pay off in spades, not in a series-finale conclusion that ultimately doesn't resolve anything (*coughFriendscough*).

And really, God bless The Office for showing that it can be done. We're starting season six of The Office, and I think it's safe to assume it'll probably go to seven. We've got at least two more seasons to go, and yet the central couple is about to get married and have a baby. We're going to get to see their daughter child as a toddler. (Oh my God, you guys, imagine Jim playing pat-a-cake with a baby.)

And it really does sound like they're going to put the spotlight back on Jim and Pam this year. Paul Lieberstein specifically said, "Jim's cool and he's fun, but he's a goof-off, not a super-hard worker and not very ambitious. He's been very adolescent. He's going to try to step up. We feel like Jim is a big part of what we're focusing on this year."

Of all the fall premieres, this is the one I'm most looking forward to. I can't wait to see what's coming for this couple, can't wait to see their precious little daughter baby ... God, I can't even wait see a freaking promo, for crying out loud.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grey's Anatomy: Beating a Dead George With a Stick

Oh, come on!

That's what I said when the credits rolled on last season's Grey's Anatomy finale, and months later, I'm still saying it.

Going into last year's finale, we had some idea of what was going to happen. We knew Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight were both on the verge of quitting, and we knew their characters would find themselves on the verge of dying.

And while the finale itself was pretty good--ignoring, of course, Derek and Meredith's entire plotline--my mind was boggled by the cliffhanger. Because it's not really a cliffhanger when you can see it coming from about six miles away...and when you can say the second it fades to black how it's going to be resolved.

There's Problem #1: It was obvious.

More...We flat-out said here, here, here, and here that there was no way that Izzie was going to die.

The other thing is--of course they weren't going to go the whole summer without the staffing shakeup being leaked. And it wasn't even so much leaked as Shonda Rhimes talked about it publicly and T.R. Knight was on the damn cover of Entertainment Weekly. There's your Problem #2: The "cliffhanger" was further de-cliffhangered by the INEVITABLY OUT-IN-THE-WORLD news that Knight was peacing out of Grey's and Heigl was staying.

Obviously, not everyone who watches Grey's scours the internet for scoop, but, I mean, this was pretty much everywhere, no? Mainstream magazines, TV news ... I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a viewer who hadn't heard about this.

So then riddle me this.

Why is this promo all about OMGWHO'SGONNADIE?

Now, I'm not saying that the show should gloss over George's death just because we all know how it's going to turn out. It absolutely shouldn't do that. But given the fact that the result here is basically a forgone conclusion, they should account for that. Like, don't show promos trying to get us excited about OMGWHO'SGONNADIE? Guys, we know George is going to die.

And don't make us spend the entire premiere with more flatline-and-rally BS. Guys, we know Izzie's going to live.

Instead of making us wait another couple episodes for the conclusion we've all known was coming since before the finale even aired, why not try and show us what else you can do with this story, instead of manufacturing more tension that NOBODY is going to feel tense about? It's ridiculous.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Angst as OTProgress, Or Why Everybody Needs to Take a Chill Pill

If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a general trend in what several of us here crave from our favorite couples. If you’re new to us, though (or if you just haven’t been paying that much attention), we want to let you in on a slightly twisted secret:

We’re whores for angst.

Pretty much everyone here thrives on a good argument or drawn-out arc of episodes in which our OTPs are climbing uphill against a constant flood of bad news, slamming doors, and tears. Brennan's dating Booth's boss and gets in a fight with Angela about it? SCORE. Some of us enjoy it far more than the rest (Mae and Caroline, to get specific), but generally it’s an aspect of ‘shipping we all crave.

And do you know why? It’s because nine times out of ten (read: unless John Wells is running the show), angst and fighting results in cute reunion fluff and even the occasional dose of makeup sex.

We’d never really thought about taking this fandom truth and turning it into a blog topic until this very moment. But Mae and Enigma happen to be completely immersed in a faction of OTP ‘shipping that's been repeatedly misled and sent to the back-burner numerous times in recent years, so, even though things are ridiculously happy in their world these days, there are still a few people who tend to be notoriously trigger-happy when it comes to preaching doom & gloom at the slightest hint of relationship angst. The Chase/Cameron fans of House are totally lovable, but they've been pushed around for far too long and could honestly use a Valium most days with how easily some of them panic and determine the end is near.

(We're allowed to poke fun at them since, you know, we are them.)

When Ausiello came out with his spoiler column last night, it included this juicy little tidbit – which directly resulted in the publishing of this entry:

Question: I’m so happy Cameron and Chase are getting their old jobs back on House. Got any more scoop about them?
Ausiello: Their first significant fight as a married couple will take place in episode 4. And it’s not going to be pretty.

We immediately flew into a celebratory dance of anticipation and joy because, you guys, fighting is awesome! Non-pretty fighting is even better! Throw in the fact that we’re dealing with a married couple and you’ve pretty much landed yourself in a guaranteed arc of tasty, angsty goodness that will eventually resolve in the fluffiest of ways.

Very quickly, though, we thought of the trigger-happy and easily-panicked fangirls out there in the world - not just in House-verse, but scattered across all fandoms far and wide. And it occurred to us that we really need to put together a distinct list of examples proving just why it is that angst = awesome.

Alias' Sydney and Vaughn were great at the angst, but then again they were one of those "guarantee" couples you could pretty much ship without fear of failure because there was simply no way they weren't ending up together. They did a lot of fighting in the early days before they ever hooked up romantically, but some of our favorite moments from their post-"Phase One" days come from the second half of Season Two. In "A Dark Turn," the CIA calls Syd in for a secret meeting and it turns out Vaughn's under investigation as a possible double-agent and traitor to his country. She's torn between trusting her heart and fearing the worst, and it causes some major angst between the new lovers. But when she decides to trust him rather than risk their relationship by turning him into a mark, we're rewarded with the joy of hearing Sydney admit to a superior that Vaughn is someone she truly loves.

Season Two's "Countdown" also brought us a great argument after Sydney lies to Vaughn about a very important investigation, and they continuously disagree over how to handle the situation at work. But the end of the episode finds them on a bench in Griffith Park with ice cream. She admits to him that she lied, then tells him she's never had anyone to disappoint until he came along. It's all very sweet and perfect, and they walk away through the park arm in arm.

Mae's favorite angst from Alias, though, happens to be an entire season long. Sydney's two-year disappearance and Vaughn's subsequent marriage to a skanky whore in the meantime makes Season Three one of the most epically angsty and painful years of television on record. When Sydney confronts Vaughn in "The Two," screaming at him for giving up on their love and telling him how ripped apart she is without him, it leads to a bittersweet conversation one episode later where Vaughn tells her all about what happened to him after she supposedly died--he drank himself into a constant stupor, held conversations with her hallucinated ghost, and pretty much fell off the face of the planet all because, as he says, "I was so in love with you, it nearly killed me." The entire season carries on with more and more of the same, and it's just so achingly beautiful to watch because, holy shit, angst is delicious when it delivers such a pretty outcome in the end.

We love that scene. "I am horrible, Vaughn, I am ripped apart." Holy crap, it's delicious.

Even if we think on the lighter side, some of the best Jam on The Office this year was found in "The Surplus," where Jim and Pam disagreed on how Michael should spend the surplus. They're on opposite sides because they’re stubborn as hell, and they like anything that’s going to break up the monotony of the day—not because they don’t love each other. It shows how similar they are, how complementary their personalities are, that they both throw themselves into their little project (convincing Michael to spend the money their way), and that, ultimately, they both have a sense of humor about their jobs. We know that at the end of the day, they’re going to be just fine. What the show accomplished in showing this disagreement was to demonstrate how these two don’t have to always be on the same page—and even when they don’t get along perfectly, they’re still one of the strongest couples on television.

Another example of a angst-gone-good comes from Leigh's favorite show, Gilmore Girls. After finding a copy of "You Deserve Love" in Jess' bag, Lorelai can't help but poke fun at it to Luke. Instead of mocking something she thought to be so pathetically mockable, he's quick on the defensive. Why? Because it was originally his. The same book that caused him to "see her face" one episode earlier. Luke tears off a mini-rant as Lorelai looks on like a deer in the headlights and we're left thinking -- "wh-wh-what the fuck was that?" However, a few minutes later, we find out that none of that angst was meant to actually exist as angst -- it was all just a means to a squee-filled, jam-your-face-in-your-pillow type of ending. The episode ends up showing us another adorable byproduct of arguing/ranting -- the slow dance. Complete with touching and smiling and giggling and bodies oh-so-slowly getting closer. You can't help but love the fight after you know it ends up like that!

But really, let's get down to some super-serious business now.

If there’s any couple on television who knows how to fight, it’s Jack and Kate. From the gun case to the search party for Michael to the disintegration of their romantic relationship, these two have had some epic battles. (You want me to name some more? How about Kate ruining Jack’s chances to get “rescued” on the submarine? How about Jack refusing to save Tiny Ben? Jack sneaking the dynamite into his own pack? Jack finding out Kate’s a murderer? Jack wanting to blow up the island?)

Yeah, they fight. A lot.

One of their most epic fights is in season two, and the tension lingers for more than six episodes. Jack tells Kate not to come along on an A-Mission, and rather than follow his orders (which weren’t really his to make, even if he did have a point), Kate trails along behind the team and ends up getting kidnapped by The Others, who use her to threaten Jack, Locke, and Sawyer into giving up their weapons. Major bummer. Things continue to be awkward between Jack and Kate for a while, as they both sit in their respective corners and sulk. But what’s great is how they make up—Jack invites her along on a later mission to track down The Others, because knowing what happened last time, he knows they won’t try to kidnap her.

Now, Jack and Kate are (as usual) an outlier in our discussion, because unlike most of their counterparts here, they’re not together for most of these fights. So why is the angsting okay, when it seems to only drive them further apart? When their making up doesn’t involve crying and sexing and kissing in the rain? Because in the end, it’s making them stronger. They fight because they’re trying to survive on the island—together. And when they disagree on how to best achieve that goal of Not Dying, the arguments serve to highlight their differences, their stubbornness, and their individual trust issues. At the beginning, their arguments were almost entirely about trust, but as it’s progressed, they’ve become much deeper, about who they are as people: Is Jack a goody-goody? Is Kate a babystealer? Is Jack a child murderer? And if we say that at the end of the day, Jim and Pam and Chase and Cameron and Luke and Lorelai go home to each other, well, at the end of the day, Jack and Kate survive together. We fully expect them to spend the rest of their days arguing about who gets to go track down the Hostiles and who has to stay back at the caves with the kids, and we love them for it.

Now, we can’t do a list about angst and not jump headfirst into a discussion of these next two ill-fated lovers. Mind you, when we said at the beginning that all angst leads to fluff with the exception of couples under the thumb of John Wells, this is exactly what we meant. ER's Carter and Abby didn’t come out the other side of their final angst tunnel with their romance intact, but they sure did give us lots of beautiful examples of angst-as-love along the way.

In “Walk Like a Man,” Carter has just found out that Abby, a beleaguered alcoholic, has been drinking again behind his back. Things get pretty messy. Until they get adorable again. This epic fight of epicness, from the very beginning of their courtship, was largely about trust and respect and the strength of their new relationship. The fight culminates in Carter leaving Abby alone on the El platform, but is resolved at the end of the episode. And as they stand together on her stoop, smiling, we’re reminded that these are two really effed-up people who are going to have to work really hard to make this relationship function. But they’re willing to try, and that’s what matters. Well, at least for now.

Later, their fights get even more intense. Eric, Abby’s younger brother, has been missing for several days after his small plane disappeared off radar. Carter was scuba diving in Belize with his buddy when Abby called him with the news. By the time he got home on the red-eye, she was passed out drunk in bed. He takes care of her all day while she works her shift and searches for her brother, but when Eric is finally found alive and well, she disappears. This is what happens when her boyfriend finally tracks her down:

Yeah, see? So much fighting--and not about trivial stuff, y'all--and yet he still shuts down the conversation with an impromptu (and not entirely romantic) proposal.

Really, the fact that it all falls apart again and again – and never ultimately resolves – just one episode later is why you should never let John Wells touch your OTPs. They really did have some epically good angst-and-make-up situations in their three and a half seasons as love interests, and their breakdown is more of a testament to Wells's ineptitude and Noah Wyle's abandonment than to the failure of our laws of fighting.

And finally, to bring it back around to where this post even began, let's take a look back at House's Chase and Cameron. What’s interesting about fans being paranoid when these two fight is that, well, they have a very distinct and well-established pattern about it. Put them in a fight over Chase wanting a real relationship and Cameron resenting him for ruining their no-strings-attached arrangement, and you end up with Chase gifting her flowers in the locker room and making her blush. Want to spend several episodes pitting them against each other as he consistently tells her he likes her and she repeatedly turns him down? No problem, they’ll just end up kissing on his doorstep when all is said and done. And the cycle remains the same with every major tiff they have.

They spent the entirety of "The Itch" building toward a confrontation that left most people wondering if they were going to end up breaking up after all, but then - following their pattern step for step - Cameron comes around in the end and sets things right. You can't really hate on the angst when it's what gets you shit-eating grins and Chase playfully tossing a thong across the bedroom, see? But as last season wound down, they found themselves playing the angst game yet again:

See? The cycle continues. And this time, they actually did break up, you guys! That's some really bad angst. That was worth wondering if it would actually be okay. Of course it was, though, because this is what they do. When you can go from a bad fight/ultimate breakup to a marriage proposal in a matter of about fifteen minutes, you've got a pretty good track record with angst on your hands.

The final (and most ridiculous, yet strongest) example in this pile comes into play just two episodes after the engagement. Wedding plans get crushed under the weight of miscommunication and... well, sperm, but even with their wedding called off and everything seemingly crashing down around them, the angst serves its purpose to bring about the greatest payoff of them all:

The wedding was super presh and squeeful, and now these two newlyweds are approaching a new season where their first massive blowout awaits them. The beauty of it all? Now they can face more angst than ever before and yet it's barely even a legitimate threat anymore. Once vows have been exchanged, absolutely anything is resolvable until the minute a divorce is finalized. Married couples are far more immune to angst than everyone else -- and trust us, a blog surrounding that theory will be surfacing soon enough.

In conclusion, however, we feel it is important to make one thing very, very clear. Angsting is NOT will-they-or-won't-they. (Case in point: Bones has rarely had legitimate angst, but has thrived for four seasons on Booth and Brennan's sexual tension.) Angsting is trying to make the relationship survive, coming right up to the edge of doom, and then stepping back, realizing once and for all that they don't want to break up, they don't want to fall off the cliff.

And we beg of you to remember, they almost always step back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why You Are Not Yet Watching Supernatural (and 5 Reasons Why You Should Be)

Hey everyone! I'm Selina and I'll be joining the girls here at Chaos, yay! I am a loyal follower of this blog but I noticed that no one is talking about Supernatural! Having recently started watching this show myself, I thought I'd do my part to rectify that a little bit and hopefully peak a few readers' interest in the best show you're not yet watching! In this post I'm going to introduce you to Supernatural, tell you why your reasons for not watching this show are completely unfounded, and then give you the top five reasons why you should give it a go!

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Why. So. Seriousss?

Considering the copious amount of television I watch and the variety of genres I enjoy, there is a number of popular TV series that I don't watch, that I've never even given a chance: some I just haven't gotten around to, like Bones (I know, scandalous!), and some I just don’t really feel like watching, for whatever reasons. It's very hypocritical of me considering how hard I judge those people who refuse to watch Lost, but really, we've all got those shows that we know nothing about except that we won't like them so why even bother giving them a try? Supernatural used to fall into the latter category for me, and I remember meeting my housemate for the first time last year – she was also a big Heroes fan see, and doesn’t watch Lost, so I was already skeptical of her taste – and smiling benignly at the Sam Winchester poster on her wall... and then doing a double take because next to that was a Dean Winchester poster, as in, "Omfg-it’s-Jensen-Ackles-from-Dark-Angel zomg I luuuuurve him!!11" (as I am pretty sure was my exact reaction). But I never gave it much thought beyond that, I just drooled a bit on her poster and left.

The thing about me, though? I’m a pleaser. I'm not even kidding, I really, desperately want people to like me. So after a while of me and my housemate not really clicking, despite both being real-life fangirls and her being the first person I’d ever met who actually used the words "flist" and "fanfiction" in sentences, I borrowed some Supernatural from her in the hopes that we’d have something to talk about. And also partially to avoid studying for my exam. Heh.

So I watched the first episode... and was notably underwhelmed. Uh, okay, they fought a random demon. Come on, it was fine for Buffy and The X-Files, but we're in a post-Lost era now! Monsters of the week are not really going to cut it for me anymore. But whatever, it's not like I had anything better to do (ahem) so I kept watching. It has to be said that while I appreciate the first season more now after having caught up, the show doesn't really get amazing until about halfway through season 2, when it writers also realized that weekly monsters wouldn't cut it, and started making the show funny. I’m not a big gore fan, was never able to watch The X-Files, but after four seasons of Supernatural I'm pretty much immune to it. I watch for the relationship of the brothers, the snarky, self-referential humor (the highlights being the episode commenting on the writers' strike where two random guys run around with a video camera looking for ghosts and calling themselves the "Ghostfacers", and when Sam and Dean discover that they have fans on the Internet – it sounds stupid but it’s hysterically funny, I kid you not), I respect the show because it's not afraid to poke fun at itself but is still good enough to turn from hilarious to poignant and heartbreaking in a moment.

Supernatural isn't the most popular, or highest rated show out there. The cast consists of two guys, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who play brothers, so really there is no chance of an ongoing, developing romance, which I'm guessing is a BIG turn-off for most of you. Well, let me tell you something: romance? After watching half a season of this show you will wish ill fortune on all the houses of those darn women who come in between the Winchester brothers! Seriously, the story goes that Jensen and Jared met while shooting the Pilot, are now best friends, share a house and never fight. And it's really paid off in terms of the show because I've never seen two actors with better chemistry, and I've never cared more about a relationship that had nothing to do with romance whatsoever (Wincest, you say? Ew, I say). Trust me, you will want those ladies OFF your boys, and the brothers' bond will only grow stronger as the show progresses.

So to sum up: I understand your hesitance, if you don't like scary and you got your fill of fruitless shipping with The X-Files (ok, it bore a little fruit. Like, a grape... and a baby), but you will not be disappointed in this case. Here’s my top five reasons why you should join me in my Supernatural frenzy and catch up before the fifth and possibly final season, beginning September 2009:

It’s official: everyone wants a taste of Jensen Ackles.
(SPN 4x05 "Monster Movie")

5. The specials: Starting around the second half of season two, Supernatural begins to introduce a lot of "special" episodes: the writers' strike episode, the black and white "classical horror" episode, the Hollywood episode, the Christmas episode, the flashback, the time travel... et cetera. This is good because while the ongoing storyline is really interesting (especially in seasons 3 and 4) there's only so many original places they can go with that, but within the scope of one episode Eric Kripke (the creator) can go all out bat shizzle crazy, with amazing results that are not only cool on their own but actually matter in terms of character development (the drive to return the characters to status quo and therefore resorting to overlooking any development is generally a prevalent fault in the use of standalone episodes on television), and then blame it on some demon and kill it off, resolving the problem. There's a giant teddy bear, guys. Few shows can get away with stuff like that. It speaks to the brilliance of the writing.

"OMG Sam was lying, I so do not have moobs!"
(SPN 4x01 "Lazarus Rising")

4. The shirtlessness: Hahaha. No harm in saying what is definitely a key reason for Supernatural’s dedicated fanbase (I like to compare them to the Twihards). Jensen is supernaturally attractive, pun totally intended, and Jared Padalecki is pretty damn fine too, and while there's not a lot of shipping going on in the show, that doesn't stop them showing off their um, assets, and you can probably manage to forgive the girls that get in their pants along the way because they allow us to see some different sides of our beloved boys. There's a reason why the audience of such a serious, shipping-free, dark action/adventure show is 99% female. Just saying.

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki pour their hearts and souls into this show every single week, and all most people care about is their six-packs. It just breaks your hearts, doesn't it boys?
(SPN 2x02 "Everybody Loves a Clown")

3. The acting: It's funny that on this relatively narrow-reaching, unknown show, so much effort is just poured into its production every week, from everyone who's involved, but most notably (for the viewers at least) the actors. In most shows you'll have a decent sized cast to share the workload and the hours, but on Supernatural we've only got two regular cast members who are in almost every scene - every single week. And yet they manage to deliver amazing, funny, believable, heartbreaking performances. Every single week. You don't always see a great deal of consistency in- and attention being paid to characterization in shows like these, which you expect to focus on the action and monsters-of-the-week, yet Sam and Dean are both believable, multi-layered, understandable, surprising, relatable characters... a lot of shows could take a leaf out of SPN's book here! They are both incredible actors but Jensen Ackles especially stands out: his crying scenes are just top notch, and the range of emotions he can express on screen just make him so fully realized. You feel how much Dean cares for his brother, and how far he will go to protect him. Jared Padalecki is especially good at the humorous scenes, though Jensen's got some classic moments as well, but it's when they work together that they both shine the brightest. They just could not have picked two actors who worked better together, and the fact that they've gone so long and worked so much and yet the atmosphere is (as far as we know) still great on set just proves that fact.

There are precious few hugs between the brothers through the series, because when it finally happens it has to be ultimately cathartic for both the characters and the audience.
(SPN 3x11 "Mystery Spot")

2. The "Wincest": Ew, no, not like that. I understand why some people wish that the two guys weren't brothers, because if they weren't the show could in theory set up a pretty epic romance, but the fact is that they are brothers. Full stop. And I don't wish that they weren't, because if you ignore the crazy people that want them to be together-together, the "love story" that Supernatural tells is one of the most beautiful that's ever been told on television and this is largely due to the fact that they are already family. They're all each other have. "You're my weak spot, and I'm yours," Dean tells Sam. They can only get away with sappy stuff like this because they're brothers and a romance is completely out of the question, and I'm glad because it's just so cute! Watching them fight evil together, looking out for each other, sacrificing themselves to save each other because they know they couldn't go on alone, that's what kept me watching through the first season (which is pretty generic, but trust me when I tell you to stick it out), and which just continues to pull at my heartstrings every episode. Their bond is so convincing, and it’s probably partially because the actors have gotten so close off-screen, and partially because of how well they are able to channel their characters, but whatever the reason it's really made the show what it is, and is one of the main reasons the show has made such a positive impression on me.

"We know you've had it hard during the crippling writers' strike [but] who needs writers when you've got guys like us? Our team faced horrible horrors to bring you the footage that will change your world forever. So strap in for the scariest hour in the history of television."
(SPN 3x13 "Ghostfacers")

1. The satire: This is my top personal reason why Supernatural stands out among the masses of shows I've watched. See, sci-fi/fantasy shows tend to take themselves hella seriously, and in most cases they need to in order to keep the audience invested in storylines that are completely implausible to begin with, and that's fine but when we're talking about B-list shows we tend to get a lot of recycled storylines, developments and character stereotypes. Take teen shows for example – they've got five or six different ways they can develop the story: pregnancy, death, appearance of unknown/missing relative, marriage, time jump, etc., and they always use them all! It's so repetitive. But see, Supernatural is not above clichés of its genre, and doesn't try to disguise something as original but rather goes to great lengths to point out the recycling. Supernatural doesn't claim to be anything more than what it is, and therein lies its brilliance. Supernatural knows it resembles The X-Files, and is not above referring to Sam and Dean as Mulder and Scully. It knows that there are certain gay connotations about the two main characters, and is not above commenting on this ("Don't they know we're brothers?!" "That doesn't seem to matter to them.") within the show. One of my favorite moments of the entire series is in season two when Sam and Dean are looking into a mystery in Hollywood and they go through the CW lot, and as they pass the Gilmore Girls set, they cut to Sam/Jared Padalecki's face (Jared used to star on Gilmore Girls) looking uncomfortable. These little moments that just say "we know this is crazy, but just go with us and enjoy it" are very precious and I feel very flattered as an audience member whenever I catch one of their little hint hint wink winks... if you’re a Lost fan, I'm sure this will appeal to you too. Like Geronimo Jackson posters or the numbers on the hatch door, only incorporated into the script.

There. Are. No. Words.
(SPN season 1 gag reel)

Also, an honorable mention goes to the bloopers. Not really a part of the show, but Supernatural has the funniest bloopers I have ever seen – yes, better than the Alias bloopers! If you're still not convinced after reading this, find the season 1 bloopers on YouTube (I don't think they're too spoilery), and see how great an atmosphere there is on the set, it'll make you want to watch the show just cause of the positive energy that went into creating it!

And there you have it. Thank you for giving me a chance to convince you to give up your precious time on yet another TV series (as I'm sure you've all got plenty as it is), and I'm very excited to be with you here on Chaos - and for single-handedly establishing the little "Supernatural" link that now appears in the link to the right! So did I convince you? Have you already seen the show? Or do you share in the "CW snobbery", which I had no idea even existed before today?! Let me know what you think!

(Credit to Screencap-Paradise for the episode images used in this post.)

Lost: Speculation Roundup, Summer '09

As we head into the fall season, with spoilers and speculation for most shows spilling in at rapid rates, one show remains as elusive as ever when it comes to grasping the future. Even with a much-YouTubed Comic-Con panel, two frustrating almost-ARGs, and dozens of interviews with death-wishing Matthew Fox, Lost fans have little to go on so far.

Mind you, the cast isn't even back on set yet, so this silence is to be expected. But this season is particularly befuddling, because it feels like we have nothing to do. Think about the end of season three and the questions that arose from the famous "snake in the mailbox." How did Jack and Kate get rescued? Did anybody else get rescued? Who's at home wondering where Kate is? Who's in the coffin? What made Jack lose it? Is Christian Shephard alive?

I mean, I probably could have spent the entire hiatus just musing on the possibility of that little Jaby sitting at home missing his mom.

The end of season four brought more complicated questions, involving the island's disappearance, Ben's turning of the frozen donkey wheel, and Locke's apparent death. However, our fandom seemed capable of handling that. We'd spent the whole season being prepared for that finale, through Ben's appearance in Tunisia in "The Shape of Things to Come," the flashforwards revealing the lives of the Oceanic Six post-island, and the previous year's coffin question.

This year, though, and I know I don't speak for everyone, but there seems to be a feeling of a collective okay, huh? Because every question we could possibly ask: Is Juliet dead or alive? What about Sayid? Where did Ilana come from and why does she know so much? relies upon one bigger question:

Did Jack's plan work?

And I, at least, feel pretty incapable of answering that question, especially since, after five years with these guys, I'm sure Darlton will come up with something totally different than what I'm thinking. So today we'll round up the Lost news and discuss a popular theory on the future of the show, one that seems like the most likely explanation and yet one that is almost undoubtedly wrong.


Here's what we know. Some folks are returning. Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet will be around for a few episodes (with most of them being at the beginning of the season). Ian Somerhalder (Boone), Jeremy Davies (Faraday), and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie) will all spend time on the island. Emilie de Ravin (Claire) is returning for the entire season. And there are rumors floating around about short-term returns for both Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) and Greg Grunberg (The Pilot).

We know that the first episode of the season is called "LA X."

And that's pretty much it.

The producers have answered a few questions about season six, and have reassured fans that the last five years of the timeline will not be irrelevant, likely ruling out an explicit "reset," wherein Oceanic 815 lands safely in Los Angeles and everyone goes on as usual. (Damon Lindelof also said flat-out that season six will take place on the island.)

That said, this idea of a reset does have interesting implications. And we've been teased about it so much that to just say "Jack was wrong" would feel like a cheat, too. There's part of me that really does want to see a reset, to see what would have happened to these people without the island. Would Charlie have continued to use? Would Sawyer have continued to con his way across the country? And of course, if you're me ... would Jack and Kate live up to JJ Abrams's original assessment that those two know each other "within the context of a universal recognition"?

There are elements of a reset that would be awesome. There's the potential to seal the deal on the ever-present element of fate in Lost. If Jack and Kate (or anyone, for that matter) feel a pull to each other even after the reset, well, then that's going to force them to deal with this concept of destiny.

So I think what a lot of people--myself included--are expecting is something a little in between. How about an episode (or, most likely, the entirety of the two-part premiere) of course correction? Imagine it playing out like "Flashes Before Your Eyes," with the plane landing safely at LAX and watching everyone go on about their lives. Kate goes to jail, Jack buries his father, Charlie struggles to find another fix, Claire gives Aaron up for adoption...

And yet... It would be monumentally epic to have Jack see footage of Kate on the news and feel so compelled by it as to go to the prison and meet her. (Similar to how Faraday was moved to tears by the footage of the 815 wreckage in "Confirmed Dead.") And we know what has to happen here, too--

Charlie, Boone, Eko, the pilot--everyone who died on the island will die in the reset, too, as the universe course corrects. Our guys, perhaps with the help of Faraday, who, of course, was not on Oceanic 815, begin to put the pieces together and realize what's going on. Things get weirder and weirder in reset world, until finally--THUD--the universe rights itself and everybody wakes up on the island.

Couple of problems with this:

1. It doesn't account for Claire. Could the course correction jolt her out of whatever state she was in when last we saw her, hanging out with her dad in the cabin?

2. It doesn't account for Desmond. This reset would theoretically throw Desmond back to the island. Is that possible? How would that affect the story?

3. We still haven't addressed the fact that it was 1977. If they course correct back to the island, would they wake up in '77 or would they rejoin the rest of the team in this millennium?

4. We still don't know what's to come of Juliet and Sayid. Dead? Alive? Somewhere ambiguously in-between?

It's enough to make a person say, Screw it, speculating on this crap isn't even worth it. Hopefully with the cast going back to work soon, Dark's sources will start gearing up again, too, and we'll get more information soon. Surely by the time the premiere rolls around, we'll have a better idea of where this thing is headed.

There's also this casting tidbit, from Ausiello--

The first official piece of new casting for Lost’s sixth and final season has arrived — and it’s surprisingly detailed. Team Darlton is looking for an actor in his mid 30s to late 50s to play…
Lennon: Scruffy, edgy, charismatic, and slightly stir-crazy, Lennon can be deferential when it’s called for.

He’s the spokesperson/translator for the president of a foreign corporation. He’s a wily negotiator, and far more powerful than his lowly position would seem to indicate.

Now, Lost has been known to use business-type descriptions for their more mythological characters. Jacob's nemesis was described in the original casting notice as a "corporate raider looking to take over his next company." So I think it's less likely that he works for Widmore or Paik, which have been popular suggestions, and more likely that he's a Hostile or an Other or a member of the Black Rock crew. Definitely sounds like it could potentially be related to ye olde Jacob vs. Esau.

But how does that relate to this concept of the reset? In his last moments, Jacob assured Non-Locke and Ben that "they're coming," and I took that to mean that our heroes, those touched by Jacob, are on their way. Would a reset make this easier? Harder? Impossible?

This is so difficult!

Share your thoughts in the comments ... I could use some help here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Advice #3: Kitchen Confidential

As part of someone else’s series on shows to catch up on this summer, I offer you another casualty of FOX’s inexplicable business model: "Kitchen Confidential.”

A short-lived half-hour sitcom starring Bradley Cooper and based on chef Anthony Bourdain’s memoir of the same title, the show followed the life of the oh-so-cleverly named Jack Bourdain, head chef at the newly opened NYC hotspot Nolita and a recovering addict. The main idea was to show the comedy and drama (but mostly comedy) behind the scenes at a restaurant, from supplier problems (like when an order of rabbit meat shows up with the rabbits still alive) to coworker issues (do people prefer desserts or fish, and what will that question do to your staff dynamic?) to things that really have very little to do with food (such as inadvertently sleeping with your boss’s mistress).

Now, I am probably the only person who cannot stand Bradley Cooper in just about any incarnation. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice person in life, but I just don’t like him. And I’m not a fan of Jack, either, who seems to have to work very hard at staying sober, but not much else.

What does make “Kitchen Confidential” well worth watching is the rest of the cast. (Well, not Bonnie Sommerville, either—her waitress Mimi is one of the singular biggest pains-in-the-ass I’ve voluntarily watched on network television. But everyone else does.)

Nicholas Brendan as Seth, the pastry guy, tops my list for reasons to watch—I actually followed big, sweet, ol’ Xander from “Buffy” to this show. And yes, he’s basically playing the same character in a totally different setting, but that doesn’t make it bad—quite the contrary. He’s sweet, relatable, and fun to watch. And a little dose of our favorite Everyman, for people who miss said Mr. Harris. He’s also the happy medium between Stephen the British bahstahd and poor little Jimmy—manly enough by normal standards but plenty emotional and sensitive as need be. And he’s not above the wacky dating tactics that only work in sitcoms, to usually entertaining effect.

John Frances Daley gets major points here, too. I like him quite a bit in “Bones”—and I think that show does a better job of using him as the “kid” in a grown-up’s workspace—but, like Brendan with Xander, he’s good at this character. As Jimmy, the n00b chef from Mormon country, he’s worshipful of Jack and a bit of a moral compass-cum-punching bag for the rest, all while maintaining his good cheer. And I think he ends up with the one functional romantic relationship on the show, too. His cluelessness in many cases is overdone—but “Kitchen Confidential” is charming enough on the whole that it’s fun to watch, not painful.

John Cho is also in this, as Teddy, the fish guy. Disclaimer here: I’ve never seen “Harold and Kumar.” Either of them. Sorry, universe. So this was my first outing with John Cho, and I have to say I enjoyed it, to the point that I spent both showings of “Star Trek” reminding myself that he was called Sulu over there. But the guy is funny! And snarky, and you do come out with a new respect for people who make fish, as well as an odd subculture surrounding sushi and tourists. He and Nicholas Brendan don’t get used nearly enough, which is why their fish-versus-cake battle royal is one of my more memorable plots.

The other regular and recurring characters—Jack’s sous chef and bed buddy Stephen, the other waiters (a flamboyant man named Cameron and a chick who looks like Eva Longoria), and especially the incredibly dumb blonde but terribly sweet hostess Tanya and Jack’s sometime-romantic interest and fellow chef Becky—all have their moments, too. Becky’s the hot, tough chick chef that the guys all drool over, but when she takes things a step too far, you end up forgiving her along with everyone else. Tanya’s an airhead, but endearingly so—watch for the moment when she innocently comments that she’s going commando.

The guest stars, though, are a real treat. Frank Langella has a recurring role as Pino, Nolita’s owner. The inimitable Morena Baccarain shows up as an ill-advised one-night-stand of Jack’s (and why is it that outside of “Firefly” she’s always playing the chick with the crazy eyes?), as does P.J. from “My Boys.” Michael Vartan pops up as an obnoxious French chef…I could go on, but I’m technically at work at the moment and probably shouldn’t be fact-checking on IMDb.

I admit, I can find things to complain about with most of the characters and episodes. This show wasn’t like, say, “Arrested Development” or “Firefly” where you watch the aired episodes and cannot possibly fathom what the network executives were thinking to axe something so creative and unique and perfect and brilliant. As far as I know, this show never got the determined, passionate fan following that those two shows or Family Guy did (which probably helped with the whole cancellation thing), so it’s safe to say we shouldn’t expect any motion picture follow-ups or revivals, although it is out on DVD, so who knows?

But it was fun and diverting, which is in many cases just what a sitcom should be. The food was fun to look at (to a point—but then again, I’m a longtime vegetarian), and I suppose most people not me would say the same about Bradley Cooper. Anything with Xander Harris and Dr. Sweets on the regular cast roster is fine by me. Plus, it was clever and funny, and unlike a lot of sitcoms, had a sweet little heart in there somewhere. It’s also available in all its 13-episode glory on Hulu, so take a few hours before Labor Day and check it out!