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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Best Episodes from the shows I’ve watched this year

Salon is putting up their best episodes of 2011 so that got me to thinking about what the best TV I’ve watched this year has been. I’ll do my own top 15 list! I’m only counting shows that were new to me (sorry, Buffy). I am going to exclude reality shows because as I looked at each I would think “yeah, I like that show, but nothing really stands out to me as a fantastic episode that made great TV” (sorry “Jersey Shore”). Oh, and for the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to count shows where I watched at least a full season.

Here’s what I’ll be choosing from (and not everything will make the list):

Skins: Season 3
Damages: Season 1
Survivors: Season 2
Life after People: Season 1
Pulling: Season 2
Downton Abbey
Life on Mars (the US version)
10 Things I Hate About You
Sherlock
The Pillars of the Earth
Star Trek: the next generation:  Seasons 1-3 (and part of 4)
Ghost Whisperer: Seasons 1
Home Movies Seasons: 2-4
Portlandia Season: 1
Fringe: Season 1
Being Human (UK): Season 3
Leverage: Season 2-current
Community: Season 2-current
Parenthood: Season 1-current
Modern Family: Season 1-current
30 Rock: Season 4
Bones: Season 6-current
Family Guy: Season 9-current
Glee: Season 2-3
Grey’s Anatomy: Season 7-current
Parks and Recreation: Season 3-current
Terra Nova: Season 1
Revenge: Season 1(current)
Grimm: Season 1(current)
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6-current
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Doctor Who: Season 6
The Office:

Combine that with reality tv programming and shows started but not finished…yeah, I’d say I watch a lot of TV. What was the best?

15. Fringe: “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”
I seriously need to see more of this show because it is just smart SciFi. Not every story is gripping, but it’s always based on some sort of reality. I chose this episode as a favorite because we meet a reoccurring villain. It’s also a tense and exciting episode that highlights what this show does best. Not a watch instantly, but you can catch up via disk through Netflix and watch more recent stuff on Hulu.

14. Leverage: “The Rashomon Job”
This is one of those before they all met episodes crossed with a they’ve crossed paths before story. But in pure “Leverage” fashion it’s funny, interesting, and fun to watch. This episode really won’t hold with anyone that doesn’t know the characters because, really, this show is about them as people and how they interact with each other. It reinforces why each person plays the role they do in the group (or, you know, you could watch the intro credits to see who does what…but this is a more interesting way). I was recently very thrilled to discover that Amazon has recent eps online, so I pay per episode for this show.

13. Home Movies: “Renaissance”
Go watch this show right now. It will make your day. Especially if you’re a nerd and you get to the episode “Renaissance.” SciFi nerds and Fantasy nerds face off. It’s hilarious. It may be my most favorite animated show of all time.  Watch on Netflix!

12. Downton Abbey: “Episode 6”
I can’t wait to watch Season 2 of this show, and it’s hard to pick just one favorite episode. But what is it about penultimate episodes in British series? “Episode 6” was probably my favorite of the series. Political events of the times come to a head as well as two characters finally admitting their love. There’s all sorts of good drama in this episode of a fantastic show. Watch it on Netflix!

11. Sherlock: “The Great Game”
Ok, I don’t mean to litter this list with all British shows, but this is another great one. And again, I can’t wait for season 2. The first season is only 3 episodes long, but my favorite was the third, “The Great Game.” We learn more about both Sherlock and Watson and about their arch rival. It ends in a cliffhanger too! Available to watch instantly on netflix.

10. Community “Paradigms of Human Memory”
If ever there was a hard show to pick a favorite from it would be “Community.” I couldn’t fill this entire list with their episodes so I narrowed it down to two. The first is this one. Or maybe I should have picked “Critical Film Studies”? ARGH too hard! Human Memory is so great because it’s made up of a ton of flashbacks that never actually happened. That’s the genius of this show. And in the end the group comes together-which is what I like best. Hulu it now (yes, I just turned Hulu into a verb).

9. Grey’s Anatomy “Song Beneath the Song”
Aka the musical episode. Not every song is a hit, but Sara Ramirez’s rendition of “The Song” by Brandi Carlile moved me so much I asked my husband if we could include it as a reading at our wedding. We did. Any episode that can touch me personally is a good one in my book. This episode in particular is haunting and moving like the best Grey’s episodes are. I believe this is on Netflix, but it’s also a Hulu show.

8. Modern Family “Dude Ranch”
This is one of those shows where I say that I like it, but it’s hard to point to any one episode that really does it for me. Yet, there is “Dude Ranch” which opens up the 4th season. It’s kind of like the epitome of a “Modern Family” ep. Cameron is a drama queen, Mitchell is awkward, Phil just wants recognition from Jay, and Clare is a control freak. Yet they all come together as a family at the end…after an episode full of pithy one liners and tons of wit! Older seasons are available through disk via Netflix, but new stuff is on Hulu.

7. Parks and Recreation “Citizen Knope”
I’m not sure if I picked this episode because it is the freshest in my memory or not, but it’s still a great one. It’s the latest episode to have aired and in perfect Christmas spirit it’s incredibly sweet and shows all the Parks and Rec crew coming together to honor Leslie. It, of course, displays the same brand of humour the show always brings. I watch it on Hulu.

6. How I Met Your Mother: “Disaster Averted”
I think that this episode does what HIMYM does best. It utilizes the flashbacks in a smart way and also recalls past actions by the characters (2 slaps in this ep!). Kevin seems like a natural addition to the show which helps, and we get to see how Baby Eriksen came to be. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have to pay per episode on Amazon for this show.

5. Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife”
Penned by Niel Gaiman, it’s a sun in a season full of stars. I can’t think of an ep that I hated this season, but this one is definitely one of the best. The TARDIS takes human shape! How cool is that? It was a weird and wacky episode with the Doctor being very Doctor like. Amy and Rory are there which is cool too. In fact their scenes are really kind of creepy. Such a good example of what this show does best! I get my in-laws to DVR this for me, but now I own the 6th season on DVD and will definitely give it a re-watch!!

4. The Office: “Goodbye Michael”
Ok, I cried during this episode; the one where Steve Carell leaves the show. How touching was it to see everyone sing for him? And his farewell with Pam when he says (although we can’t hear  it because his mic has been given back) “that’s what she said.” The previous couple of seasons leading up to this weren’t exactly stellar, but it’s like I had a history with these people and the emotional impact of Michael Scott leaving was pretty great. You can catch up on Netflix or watch via Hulu. Your choice!

3. Doctor Who: “The Wedding of River Song”
I love getting the answers to questions that a show has set up all season long, and this episode answers a lot of them (not all, because that wouldn’t be fun). I also love how they bring back a lot of familiar faces. I can’t go into too much detail of the plot because that would take a ton of space, but I do like how everyone comes together in the end and things seem to work out.

2. Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Best of Both Worlds Parts I and II”
Oh man, what can I say about the season 3 cliffhanger and season 4 opener? I’m sure this episode tops a lot of lists for best TNG eps. I knew Picard’s transformation was coming, I just didn’t know how it would go down. There have been other episodes that feature the fine acting by Patrick Stewart, but this one really does a great job at highlighting his skills. Aside from the acting (which, really, was great all around) the story was pretty intense, smart, and compelling. It’s everything I look for not only in good SciFi, but in good television. All of Star Trek (classic to current) is on Netflix watch instantly.

1. Community “Regional Holiday Musical”
From Troy and Abed rapping to Annie subtly (?) mocking sexy Santa songs the last episode to air (for a long time) not so subtly pokes fun at “Glee.” It’s really a great example of their usual storytelling. It combines aspects from Human Memory by planting fake flashbacks and really shows how these characters all have an effect on each other. Also, completely hilarious! I think this episode really got me to laugh the most during this season. Go watch it right now on Hulu!

This was wicked hard to do! I had more than 15 but couldn’t quite make it to 20 so I had to pare it down. But I want to give an honorable mention to “Portlandia” for that song in the first episode. I also cut “Survivors” but that deserves a mention too.

A Buffy Retrospective

Ever since I first watched the series (which, sadly, was not as it aired) I’ve rewatched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” just about every year. That’s a lot of rewatches (which kind of annoys my husband). Every time I delve back into the world of Sunnydale I discover something new or I see how all the pieces were meant to fit together even when the set-up was seasons before. I marvel at the writers’ brilliance. I like stepping back and thinking about what each season’s them was allegorically. The first three are obviously about how school is literally hell. The fourth is all about college and growing up/letting go. The seasons afterwards seem to lose a bit of it’s messages and that may be why they’re not as enjoyable. As a whole, the last three seasons speak about the pressures of the world, how hard it can be to make tough decisions, and about being an adult in general.

My favorite season is the third. There are just so many great episodes in this season. We meet Faith in “Faith, Hope & Trick.” But there’s other great episodes like “Band Candy.” “The Wish,” “The Zeppo” (Xander’s best episode in my opninon), “Doppelgangland,” and ending with “Graduation Day 1 & 2.” I feel like this is the season where The Scoobies are united the most. If you’re into the whole Buffy/Angel romance of the series then this one is a high point (ok, except for the end because David Boreanaz has to leave to go do his own spin-off show).

In this rewatch I found myself more tolerant of Dawn for some reason. Yes, even in the fifth season where she is her most annoying. I also  enjoyed the entire sixth season more than usual. I’ve always loved “Once More With Feeling,” and “Tabula Rasa.” I’m also a fan of evil Willow’s arch. But, normally I really don’t care for the episodes that explore Buffy’s re-integration to the land of the living. Her sour attitude is a downer and doesn’t keep with the previous seasons. But, this go-round I felt more invested with her figuring out how life works. I guess because I’ve passed/am passing through that stage of my own life where it seems like nothing goes right, there are too many bills to pay, and oh my god why can’t I get anything right.!?!

And then there’s the seventh season. I don’t think I’ll ever come about to liking this season. It’s just so. effing. serious. Even their lighthearted episodes like “Beneath You” just seem like it has a different pace and tone than a usual Buffy episode. It’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” so there’s still humor and plenty of witticisms to be found, but this season just felt like it was all about the Big Bad. I guess when you have an endpoint in sight you need wrap everything up so that there aren’t too many loose ends. You don’t have time to set up sub-plots that send characters in different directions. Everyone needs to be in place for the finale. Unfortunately that leaves us with a super serious season that becomes obsessed with the end. On the plus side? After several times viewing this season I’ve learned to just ignore the annoying Potentials and focus on what the main cast is doing.

The only other show that has captured my attention and devotion as much as BtVS has been “Doctor Who”. They both are great examples of shows where there are characters to love, an over-arching season theme/mystery, fun to watch, and really well written (ok, most of the time. Each show has had it’s share of terrible episodes). I wish there were more shows out there like it!

If YOU want to watch Buffy for the first or millionth time, it’s available on Netflix!

When one season ends…

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If you want to call me a Whovian go ahead. I’ll gladly accept the title. I’ve been a fan since around 2008 and I haven’t been able to get enough since. The problem is that since cutting cable it isn’t easy to stay current. For most shows I don’t mind, but this is definitely one of my favorite shows of all times I’m talking about here. It’s also incredibly hard to avoid spoilers. So I get around this by having my in-laws DVR it for me. I cram in about 3-4 eps at a time when I can.

This past weekend I watched the last three episodes of the season.

Wow. I’m a little speechless. I knew Steven Moffat would take the show in a different direction, but he’s taken it to a whole other level than it was at from the previous season. At least he’s keeping it fresh….and really, really spooky. That whole thing with the 80s/”The Shining” hotel was wicked creepy.

My mind is still kind of reeling and digesting the season. Splitting it up was kind of weird, and the way I watch it broken up even more makes it even harder to take it all in. I can’t wait to get the entire box set so that I can spend a whole week just reveling in all that is The Doctor. And yes, I do watch the “Doctor Who Confidential” bonus features. You should sign the petition to save that show!

But when one show ends, another one begins. My in-laws also DVR “Dexter” for my husband and I to watch. We caught up on the first two episodes. The first episode of the new season felt like a reboot and a nice reintroduction while the second felt like a second first episode of the season. Midway through the second episode I remarked how I already like this season better than the last. No more Rita no more Lumen. It’s back to Dexter being Dexter. The show feels like it’s gotten back to it’s core with the added bonus of a really great theme for Dexter to chew over. Oh and Deb is the new Lieutenant.

Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow!

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Reverse the Polarity!

So I’ve been reading Keith DeCandido’s recaps of Star Trek TNG over at tor.com recently. As of today he’s up to “Conspiracy” (S1E24). Yes, I know, I’m a huge nerd reading about something I’ve already watched. I do this with Buffy too over at avclub.com. Except in that case Noel Murray was watching Buffy and Angel for the first time! How cool is that!? (And both shows are on Netflix watch instantly).Anyway, when Keith talks about  technobabble in a TNG episode he designates a section of his recap and labels it “Can’t We Just Reverse The Polarity?” I thought this was a pretty clever send-up to Doctor Who. I found a nice entry on tvtropes.org that summarizes the history of the phrase. Apparently it can be traced back even further to the 1960’s Batman. Huh. But I was right in thinking it was popularized by John Pertwee as the Third Doctor.

Doctor Who is a Netflix Watch Instantly too…in case you want to give it a watch…both Classic and New Who….it’s really good….I’m not biased….not at all……

*twitch*

FTW Friday

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