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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!

For your consideration

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The TV season is winding down with a lot of shows having already aired their Season Finales. Even shows like Game of Thrones is finishing. I guess that means I’ll have more time to check out shows I may have missed in the past few years and also checking out other shows going on now that just haven’t been on my radar.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, there were a couple articles on the web a few weeks back about HBO Go. I think it’s pretty obvious that I fall in the camp that believes HBO would be smart to turn this service into an exclusive subscription model without customers having to be required to pay for regular HBO service. The fact that HBO stands so smugly and makes remarks about how cord cutting is just a fad just points out how deluded they are. It’s a fact that GoT is a highly pirated show. Cord cutting and it’s actuality aside, people just don’t have money for frivolous things like adding on to their cable service for channels like HBO. Yet GoT is now a part of the cultural dialog and no one wants to miss out on it. Its a show that appeals to long time fantasy freaks like myself, but maintains appeal for the normies to develop a following as well. And, of course, we’re an instant gratification culture; why wait a year after the show has aired to get it on DVD?

Faboy.com has asked whose fault is the piracy? In their article they do mention that HBO’s president can’t very well say something like, “yes, we would be able to reach a larger audience. This streaming video thing is something we want to be on board with” as this will alienate the cable companies. I also agree with their statement that HBO needs to see the epic number of piraters as potential customers as these people will most likely pay to watch their content. I’m one of those people. I could easily pirate any show I watch through Hulu or Amazon Instant Video, but I don’t.

The fact that I don’t leads me to disagree with the flip side of the argument that creative freedom isn’t free and therefore if we want quality shows that require a large budget we should subscribe to cable and networks like HBO. Granted, I don’t know all the ins and outs of funding for TV shows and TV stations. However, I should think that opening up HBO Go to a wider audience will certainly help fund the expensive shows we like to watch. They get money and less pirating. Win-win situation, no?

Amazon Instant Video comes to PS3 – and it is AWESOME!

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My home TV and movie watching experience came even closer to being perfect yesterday (now if only HBO Go would allow people to pay to subscribe without having to have cable).

Amazon.com very quietly added their widget to the PS3 to keep Netflix and Hulu Plus company. It’s awesome because now I can supplement the shows I can’t get through Hulu and don’t want to wait until it’s available on Netflix by purchasing season passes for shows I can’t live without. I’ve actually been doing this ever since my husband and I bought an internet ready TV, but there were a couple drawback. The major one was that the Amazon Instant Videos were only watchable through a weird Yahoo! widget on a weird and random Yahoo! menu – separate from the rest of the Internet ready content Samsung provides. The second is an issue that was totally central to my house; our TV isn’t hooked up to the surround sound – the PS3, however, is. 

From the little that I played around with the new app it looks like the picture quality is improved, and for me the sound will definitely improve. 

I don’t always like what Amazon does (as a Librarian I have issues with the way they let Libraries lend their Kindle books), but this is really awesome. 

Again…now if only HBO would realize where a lot of their viewing base is….