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Category Archives: Entertainment

Netflix: great for 90s tv

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In a super secret vote around Christmas, the Senate decided to let streaming services like Netflix share what you’ve been watching. Soon everyone will know all of your guilty secret shows. Mother Jones outlines exactly what the new law says. Part of me thinks that this is just another invasion of my privacy, and I’m really not happy with information about what I chose to watch on my time can be sold. I’m hoping there’s a way around this. But the other part of me wants to laugh at whoever is looking at my streaming interests.

What will they find? Basically it’s been a lot of watching shows I missed in the “90s.” I say the 90s because most of these shows were actually the early 2000s, but in my mind that’s still “the 90s.” I’m going to give a hint to my age and say that I was in high school at the very end of the 90s. I was in college in the beginning of the aughts. You see, I used to be a very busy person. In high school I had an after school job. I was in color guard. I had a social life. In college I usually went to class, spent a lot of time writing papers, hung out with friends, partied occasionally, and slept whenever I could. Television, while always important as a way to relax, was never a priority. I spent way less time watching TV than I do now. In a way, I blame college. I learned to look deeper into the media around me; find what message a tv show or movie tried to convey and what it was saying about society in general. I was an English major with a Media Studies minor.

So I missed a lot. I certainly was never in front of my TV the same night every week to keep up with a show. I remember the first time I was super bummed about not being able to follow a show regularly. It was either Full House or Home Improvement, and I had to miss it because of softball practice (just another reason to hate softball). In high school I missed a lot of episodes of Friends. I also missed the whole Dawson’s Creek phase.

Now that my TV watching habits have changed (in that I both have more time for television watching, and I can watch what I want when I want), Netflix is providing me with the perfect opportunity to catch up on what I missed.

I’m starting with West Wing and Felicity. My husband may mock me for watching both (more so for Felicity), but I think this is part of the reason why Netflix streaming exists.

So while I don’t mind people knowing that I’m satisfying my younger self by catching up on what I missed, I am sad that our privacy rights are being eroded once again.

2012- a year in terrible shows

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Happy New Year! My resolution is to not ignore my blog for months. Sorry about that! I hope I haven’t lost too many readers.

Well, it is 2013. It’s a good a time as any to reflect on what I watched during 2012 (year 3 of being cable free). My husband suggested that I do a sort of round-up of all the terrible and guilty pleasure shows that I watched. I think I’ll take him up on that. There were some spectacularly bad shows that were on TV.

Let’s start off with the shows that I used to watch that just turned bad.

Raising Hope. I used to be a fan. I thought it was silly, but clever. It had good characters and hilarious plots. But, with the newest season starting this past fall I just couldn’t do it anymore. I got one episode in and gave up. Honestly, I haven’t even thought about this show in so long that I can’t remember what it was that made me remove it from the HuluPlus queue. I don’t miss it at all.

Fringe. Oh, Fringe, you were such a fantastic show for 2 seasons. Then the 3rd season came and shit just got off track. I’ll watch the 4th and final season at some point, but now isn’t the time. I have too much other stuff to watch to put up with your bizarreness right now. But, you are a JJ Abrams show after all. I should have known better.

The guilty pleasures are up next.

Hoarding doesn’t really offer much aside from voyeuristic television watching. It’s a way for us to sit comfortably on our couches judging other people’s lives. The show isn’t making a statement (unlike a show like Ru Paul’s Drag Race). Even if it began by making the mental illness of hoarding more widely known, it’s moved beyond that. It’s pure guilty pleasure watching. I’ll add Animal Hoarding and Freaky Eaters in with this as well.

*sigh* Toddlers and Tiaras. Another vehicle to judge the mentally ill. Speaking of judging people, feel free to judge me for actually paying money to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I make no excuses. That shit is hilarious.

There are two shows that I’ll throw in here that I don’t actually believe are terrible, but they are certainly guilty pleasures. I’m talking about Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. For me, Pretty Little Liars is still going strong, and I can’t wait for the next season to be thrown up on Netflix. Gossip Girl was a great watch for about 4 seasons. I caught up in time to watch the last few episodes, and I’m glad it ended. It went stale – although not as quickly as it could have.

And we’ll end with the truly terrible.
Netflix offers a lot of Korean imports. One of those is the adaptation of the manga Boys Over Flowers. My husband may disagree with me, but I thought it was terrible. Granted, I’ve never read the manga, but the tv adaptation was bizarre (and not in a good way).

New Normal. Ugh. Insulting and derivative. I can’t believe it’s still on the air.

My husband actually seemed to enjoy Animal Practice on a certain level. I enjoyed it on no level. Not even the cute monkey could save that show for me.

I debated about including Go On here. It’s not the worst, and it’s certainly not on a level with Animal Practice or New Normal. But, we stopped watching it for a reason; it just didn’t live up to our comedy expectations. I know many people would disagree and say that Matthew Perry is hilarious, but I bet those same people get a kick out of Two and a Half Men. No thanks. I’ll just be over here waiting for Community to return.

I gave Bridalplasty a try on Netflix. I watched about 10 minutes and then fast forwarded to the end to see who the “winner” was and what she looked like now. I feel sad for society that this show even happened.

See, even the kid from that show I gave up in 2011 is weeping for our souls.

And I’ll end this section with two anime I tried giving a try to last night: Kaze No Stigma was straight up boring for something that was supposed to be action packed and Rosario + Vampire seemed derivative in a weird way of Inuyasha but with too much fan service and a boring story.

Honorable mentions include: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (the last season or two has made this once interesting and fun show into a disaster), Extreme Couponing (belongs shelved somewhere near Hoarding), and Sister Wives (not included above because I think the show actually has something to say about society).

Here’s to another year of good and bad television for me to deem worthy or not.

Watch this on Hulu: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

If you’re a geek, nerd, otaku, or whatever then you definitely know about San Diego Comic Con. Scratch that, even if you’re not into comics or consider yourself a geek then you STILL probably know about Comic Con. It’s become a pop cultural mecca.

People from all over the country (and probably the world) congregate in San Diego for this convention to celebrate the entertainment that they love. Movies and TV shows are previewed, limited release toys are available, and people work for months on costumes to showcase.

It’s nerdvana for a lot of fanboy and girls. But what is now a huge convention for over 100,000 people, used to be a much smaller affair strictly for people interested in comics as an art form.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope has some pretty big names that helped put this documentary together. Two of those names are Morgan Spurlock and Joss Whedon. There’s lots of commentary from the likes of Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison, Robert Kirkman, and so many more.

I highly recommend it even if you’re not into documentaries. It’s well done and entertaining.

Unfortunately it looks like you have to have Hulu Plus to view it.

NY Times compares/contrasts #Netflix and #Hulu

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I’m experimenting with putting hash-tags in my title because these posts are getting bounced to Twitter.

I love the Amazon app. I’ve probably spent more money on entertainment because of it, but it’s still super handy. Breaking Bad, Portlandia, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Adventure Time, and so many other shows I can watch the day after they air on my TV via the PS3. I also own a Kindle Fire. I mentioned that this week I am going to Dragon*Con so I am in the process of selecting a couple movies to put on the device so I can watch on the plane.

But, Netflix does still seem to trump Amazon. I definitely wouldn’t consider dumping Netflix for Amazon Prime (which I don’t subscribe to).

I guess it all comes down to your preference and what you prefer to spend money on. But, do take a look at this article for a nice breakdown of what devices play which service, how much each catalog holds, and which app just works better.

Dragon*con actively turns a blind eye to a very real problem for women con-goers

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As someone who takes in a lot of television, movies, and pop culture I get super excited about conventions. I’ve only been to a couple in my lifetime one of which is Dragon*Con in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. I went in 2008 and had an absolute blast. I went to a couple Torchwood panels, sang along at the Buffy Horror Picture Show and the Doctor Horrible Sing Along Blog. I met Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto from the Torchwood series) and he told me I was lovely *blush*.

My husband and I are going this year as well and I’m super excited. We have costumes lined up (something I didn’t do last time) and I’ve got the app installed on my phone with the panels selected that I hope I can get to. I’m also pretty mentally prepared for the fact that it will be 4 days surrounded by a massive amount of people. I normally try to avoid crowds and I tend to get overwhelmed easily in them. That’s why I’m glad I was able to get us a room in one of the 5 host hotels. When I’m feeling like it’s all too much I’ll just retreat to my room.

One of the reasons I don’t like crowds (and there are a few as to why they make me nervous) is because you never know who you’re brushing up against. For woman it’s always on our minds that some creepy person may feel free to reach out and grab whatever they’d like. When there are this many people shoved together anything can happen.

When I went to Dragon*Con four years ago I never felt endangered, but I did recognize that taking extra caution was needed. Usually I was hanging out with one or more people, but occasionally I was on my own. And luckily nobody accosted or assaulted me. This year I’ll have my husband with me for most of the time.

Having seen first hand what a popular convention is like I applauded the Backup Ribbon Project. The incident that caused its founders to begin this project occurred the year I was at the Con. Basically two girls came across a man accosting/yelling at another girl and people were too afraid to step in and help her because they weren’t “official” in any way. The ribbons are for people to recognize those who are willing to help anyone in danger get them to a safer spot. They are also for people wearing the ribbons to know it’s ok to help anyone that looks like they may be in danger. From their website: If you take a Backup ribbon or you wear a Backup t-shirt, you are promising one very simple thing: You WILL be That Person to help out anybody being harassed. Gender, orientation, presentation is irrelevant. You WILL find a way to help, whether by directly intervening, getting help from elsewhere, or simply listening the person being harassed. You WILL be there for them. You WILL accept that they believe they have been harassed. You WILL NOT question them or doubt them, You WILL give them whatever help they wish.”

They have received reports about “backup” helping to break up fights and help others get to safety. Their goal is laudable. I’m not sure how anyone is against helping female fan con-goers feel safer.

Unfortunately the people running Dracon*Con don’t feel the same way. This post was made saying they won’t sanction or support it. The Backup Ribbon Project’s response is here. People are pretty outraged. Instead of helping to solve an actual problem (females DO get harassed at Dracon*Con and other conventions) they are trying to solve a potential problem. I recognize that it is possible that there may be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or other “bad” person posing as someone willing to help that takes advantage of the situation. However, the very real problem is that there is a lack of security at Dragon*con and a absolutely terrible to non-existent harassment policy. As the Backup project points out, their policy boils down to “don’t be a jerk.” To be clear, there is no policy in place to take any action against anyone that has harassed another member of the con. After reading the comments on the Live Journal post it appears that there is no training for security at the Con. There are no requirements or anything of the like. Badge and hotel key checks are great, but what is the ratio of security to con goer. The Backup Project asks some really great and pertinent questions in their response to Dragon*con.

I also agree with them and the other outraged attendees that this new policy makes me sad and angry. In a year that has seen women lose more and more of their rights it just makes me bitter. Having to see a fan convention that I am excited to go to turn a blind eye to a real problem for women is disappointing.

Miracle Day is proof Russell T. Davies can’t do BIG TV

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The Good: Gween Cooper as per usual. She’s a kick-ass woman who is competent and likeable.

The Bad: Mekhi Phifer’s sub-par acting. I liked him (most of the time) on ER, but I feel like he just didn’t do justice to his role

The Ugly: Russell T. Davies fucked with both mythology and the timeline of Doctor Who. As io9 points out, the period that Miracle Day spans is March-May 2011. This is the same time that we are introduced to Amy and Rory with nary a mention of this global catastrophe. The second screw up (in my opinion) comes with *SPOILERS* Rex becoming (seemingly) immortal by having been infused with Jack’s blood. It was established in Season 3 (“Utopia” I believe) that what Rose did in the season finale of Series One was basically infuse Jack with the time vortex which then made him a fixed point in time. In fact I think in one of the early episodes of Miracle Day Jack even says that it’s not his blood that makes him special. It’s like it’s in the very cells of his being. So it doesn’t make any sense at all for Rex to become like Jack via blood.

I had such high hopes for this 9 part series after Children of Earth. CoE was well paced, well acted, and compelling. I wish I could say the same about Miracle Day. It took about 6-7 episodes for me to really get excited about the show. Part of that was because the lack of what essentially made Torchwood – aliens! Where were the freaking aliens!? 7 episodes and we FINALLY get a glimpse of something other worldly. You know what else made Torchwood? The people. It just felt so lacking. We have Gwen and Jack who are the core of Torchwood and it feels like their presence on the show was diluted by so many other people. I feel like we never really got to see Torchwood at work.

Also, how long does RTD think it takes to fly between America and Wales (especially from the west coast)? Because clearly he thinks it’s a couple of hours judging by the amount of times Gwen and Jack fly back and forth.

It baffles me that RTD created good episodes of Torchwood the series and a couple good Doctor Who episodes, but when he tries to go big it fails (think back to the Series Four finale of Doctor Who. That was a clusterfuck of terribleness). Miracle Day is further proof that he isn’t good at BIG TV. He’s better at smaller and more intimate story lines. There’s nothing wrong with that! We need that. But big spectacle TV is not his forte and I wish he’d stop.

io9 has a great write up of the final episode which highlights the problems I had with this show. Instead of restating what they already wrote take a look for yourself.

Wikipedia quotes a Guardian author who also points out the flaws in this production:  “Other criticisms focused on Jack’s relatively minimal role, the unclear direction of the Oswald Danes storyline, the lack of an alien presence in the series, and the show’s expectation that the audience care for Rex and Esther, whom they have not had a chance to get to know. Commenting, “the series seemed to spend weeks looking at the consequences of the Miracle, running away from unnamed baddies, extraditions, deportations, and dangling character arcs” (wikipedia)”

Part of one of the dropped plot lines was the Soulless. I really wanted to see more and know more about this group. We saw the masks a couple times and that was it. Very disappointing.

And one final observation – Captain Jack was introduced in “The Empty Child” as omnisexual. He’s into men, women, and everything in between. He flirts heavily with Rose and alludes to being into the Doctor as well. Yet after this episode it’s pretty much men from there on out for Captain Jack. Oh he had a tiny thing with Gwen with, what I think, was more interest on her end. We know he had a grandson so he was with a woman (presumably long term) in the past. So why do we only see Jack with men on screen? To me it feels gratuitous. I’m thinking specifically of the fight turned makeout session with Captain John in Torchwood Series Two and the pretty graphic sex scenes in Miracle Day. It doesn’t feel authentic. It feels more like RTD getting to play in a big gay playground. I’m trying really hard not to sound homophobic, because I’m fine with Jack’s preferences. I really just want to point out the gratuitous nature of how we see Jack’s sexuality played out on TV.

Regardless, it took me so long to catch up with this now one year old miniseries because Starz pulled out from having their content as a Watch Instantly on Netflix and I never got around to putting it on my queue. So I checked it out from the library. Check it out if you’re a hardcore Torchwood fan, but I kind of wish I skipped it and could still pretend “Children of Earth” was the end.

Summer re-watching

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First I want to share that I have caved and started a Twitter account. I’m hoping to use it to post entertainment related things (and to enter giveaways). Don’t expect personal info from me. Anyway find me @shanbear216

This summer I’ve taken the chance to rewatch several shows. About a month ago I finished Grey’s Anatomy up to the season 8 finale. Some people say that the show jumped the shark with the unexploded bomb in the chest cavity or when Meredith drowns and has a miraculous recovery. Those two storylines were pretty ridiculous. I, however, agree with the most people that the show really jumped the shark with Izzy and her weird cancer. One of the best things about this show is relationships. When Izzy and George’s relationship took a weird turn only to fall into a place where we barely saw them interacting on screen the dynamics of the show shifted. Izzy and Alex having a shotgun wedding – I’m OK with that. But the Izzy hallucinating because of the weird cancer thing was just too much. Season six helped to restore balance in the show, but from there on out it was a little off. By the end of the 8th season it looks almost completely different. The end of the 8th season managed to capture my interest again. After the BIG season finale I’m definitely hooked. I want to see where everyone ends up (and if Mark Sloane is going to die as well…). Anyway, you can catch up with Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix with the latest season on Hulu Plus.

Now I’ve moved on to Doctor Who. I haven’t watched the early seasons in about 2 years when I introduced my husband to the series. I first discovered this series back in 2008. I was living with my grandparents for a few months. While they have a pretty nice TV and a digital cable subscription I still found myself with my laptop in “my” bedroom most times (especially because I felt bad watching TV past their very early bedtime). I saw the new series as a watch instantly and thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so glad I did! I was introduced to a fun, interesting, well acted, and sometimes cheesy show full of adrenaline and adventure. I moved out and into a new house just as I was finishing Season One (with Christopher Eccleston). I had no knowledge about “Classic Who” or regeneration. Yes, I was completely ignorant about what was to come. I thought David Tennant was going to be added as a new regular or something.

Cut to me with my jaw practically on the floor from shock at seeing Christopher Eccleston turn into David Tennant. I’m no where near being a young child, but I think the surprise regeneration is just as shocking. And I think it played a huge part in my deciding that the Ninth Doctor is “my” Doctor. I felt very much like Rose did when getting to know the Tenth Doctor. Ultimately I grew to love him in the role and was sad to see him go. But because I know how the show works now, and because it’s become so mainstream of a show, knowing when a regeneration is coming and knowing who the next Doctor will be has taken the surprise out of it. I’ll never get that feeling of “OMG I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WOULD HAPPEN!!!”  again. Sad face. But as always with the Doctor there are bigger and more exciting adventures ahead.

I’m in the middle of rewatching Season Three right now. I remember liking Marth on my first watch. I thought she was cool, and would be like someone I could be friends with. But I never really loved her the way I loved Rose or Amy Pond; even Donna for that matter. Why is this? And why is it that this is very common in the Whodom. I’ve come to some conclusions of my own. The Doctor originally is taken with Martha because she’s smart. In “Smith and Jones” she shows true intelligence and resourcefulness. I love her for that. Despite how much I like Rose, she never really became clever until the end of Season Two, and that was so that the audience would be all the more heartbroken when she left the show (that’s right! I see right through you Russell T. Davies!). Season Three also showcases some absolutely brilliant episodes. “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” and “Blink” are constantly cited as some of the best episodes that the series has to offer. On the downside of this season is it’s somewhat lackluster beginning – “Shakespeare Code”, “Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of the Daleks” are pretty lame. Plus there’s almost a rehash of Season 2 – The Doctor takes Martha to New New York (granted, that’s supposed to highlight how much he misses Rose), and a space station episode in “42”. It’s an uneven season which doesn’t help us fall in love with the newest companion.

This isn’t the only reason though. I think that the biggest reason the audience never connected with Martha is because the Doctor doesn’t love her. Respect her, yes. Care about her well being, yes. But he’s more reserved with her and seems a bit more moody. There’s even a joke among some about “emo Doctor” and how his emotional state is reflected in how much his hair is sticking up. When it lays flatter to his head the more emo he is. The Doctor is more of a dick to Martha than he ever was to Rose. I’m certainly not the first to notice this. Check out the book Chick Digs Timelords for more info. So it becomes really difficult as the audience to get attached to a character that the main character doesn’t completely share himself with (although it’s debatable as to whether the main character of the series is the Doctor or his companion(s)). Doctor Who can be watched on Netflix watch instantly (even after all these years!). You can even catch a lot of “Classic Who” through watch instantly as well.





Better late than never

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It’s sort of old news, but several places have reported that Netflix has started to pull as many viewers as cable. Obviously this news is unsurprising to me as I haven’t been able to understand why more people haven’t migrated to a cableless existence yet.

If you’re a DirectTV subscriber now may be the best time to try out how easy it is to cut the cord.

Even Library Journal is reporting that online sales are going to overtake retail sales. It’s ok, Librarians are usually behind the curve even when they think they’re on the bleeding edge.

Summer watching

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This past weekend I watched two great shows that I definitely want to recommend. The first is a SciFi alien drama that airs on TNT called Falling Skies. Noah Wyle (of ER fame) stars as a father of 3 sons surviving with a rag-tag group of civilians and makeshift fighters/army months after an alien invasion.

To me the show is like a great mix of Jericho, V (the original, not the remake), and The Walking Dead. It actually reminds me a lot of The Walking Dead TV show except with more action and plot development. There’s also no Lori so that’s a plus…although beware the “Carl Jr” who isn’t quite as stupid as Carl from TWD, but exists probably because Steven Spielberg (who produces this show) has some sort of requirement to have a kid and sappy family moments with him.

Seriously though, the aliens are creepy, there’s action in every episode, and there’s some good character development. The acting is pretty good too with the aforementioned Wyle and Will Patton (Remember the Titans) plus Moon Bloodgood (Terminator: Salvation). It has its drawbacks – mainly a lack of female characters (but, again, on the plus side I’d rather have less strong women than another Lori).

It’s not a watch instantly show, so I had to get it in DVD form. It is, however, available in Instant Video on Amazon. I might end up doing that for Season 2 – depending on how Season 1 ends (1 disk left to watch).

The other show that I checked out this weekend was Happy Endings. Yes, ok, the premise sounds like it’s trying to be a Friends clone. Six friends (including Elisha Cuthbert, Damon Wayans Jr. and Zachary Knighton) who spend just about every minute of every day together experience life in the city, relationships, friendships, and being co-dependent on one another. Seriously, there’s siblings, a married couple, and a failed relationship (aka. Ross and Monica, Monica and Chandler, and Ross and Rachel). Todd VanDerWerff at the AVClub didn’t think much of the show. But then again, he also liked Traffic Light and Perfect Couples. So…if lame comedies are your thing then you’re not going to like this show. Todd also thought this show would be better as a multi-camera show with a live studio audience. Yeah…2012 called 1995. They discussed it and agreed that if this format gave the world shows like Whiteny and that Chelsea show then it sucks and good shows are single cam now.  It’s true that the two central characters that the show focuses on are kind of lame, but that’s OK. It’s not about these two and the will they/won’t they plot; it’s about everyone else and how they basically riff off of each other.

I’m never quite sure how to describe a comedy. In describing a show like Community, Modern Family, or Happy Endings there’s a big failing. What the show is about doesn’t really get across how funny it is. And, of course, humor is subjective. If you’re not into pop culture references – or even references that the show doesn’t explain (because, really, nothing ruins a joke more than having to explain it) then Happy Endings isn’t for you. But I have the feeling that if you’re in the 20-40 year old demographic then this show may become required watching for you.

Anyway, It’s on Amazon or do what I did and check it out from your local Library!

Take My Money, HBO!

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I swear, I think or write about something and suddenly it’s everywhere!

Take My Money, HBO is a new website where you can type in a dollar amount that you would be willing to pay per month for a standalone subscription service for HBO Go. You have to have a Twitter account for it to work.

The network has already responded saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, dream on suckahs! They say they would lose money this way.

Maybe, maybe not. You have to look at how many people would cancel their cable subscription and opt for HBO Go (which, presumably, would cost far less than the HBO bundle you get with cable) versus how many new people would pick up the Internet only option.

Me? I’d actually be willing to pay up to $20 a month for it. Quality programming with a great back catalog? That’s worth paying close to what we pay Netflix in our house.

Sadly, HBO just isn’t hip enough.

Speaking of hip enough, I keep tossing around the idea about creating a Twitter to coincide with my blog- mostly so I can post stuff I don’t really want to expound on but still want to share.

Also, I’m working on a post about Deanna Troi! 😮 exciting, I know!