Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hodgepodge - Downton, Glee, Grey's, Once

Hodgepodge: TV Stew

I probably wrote "Hodgepodge" for the first time ever just now, even though I've used it my whole life and this gave me pause. A little glimpse into my upbringing: My family makes up words for things. Like really ridiculous words for things. My grandmother (and thus the rest of us) calls the bathroom the "hooby-dooby." True story. So you can imagine that I double-check words now and again. Turns out, this is legit. In case you are wondering (as I was) word origin: Hodgepodge comes from the Middle English hochepot, that is derived from Old French for stew.  Thank God for the internet. So let's TV stew it up!

Downton Abbey:  

Another fantastic installment. I am really enthralled with the pace of this show. The editing seems fast paced, nothing lingers more than it needs to... each scene does its work. Also to the credit of the director, words are splendid, but when a picture can tell everything with less work, he uses it. In Episode 3, as Sybil is seemingly conflicted about Branson's declarations of love, in between scenes having nothing to do with this, there is a short, maybe 5 second sweeping scene of Sybil on the open grounds (freedom, beauty, view of the world) that then pans to her looking at Downton Abbey (proper, rules, constricting). That five seconds probably says more about her frame of mind than all of the words she said in the show.

Other thoughts about this episode:

  • How does Mary not run down the aisle of the concert and jump into Matthew's arms when she sees he has returned from battle? And then they SING? about being the ONLY BOY and the ONLY GIRL? You can feel how much she wants to tell him everything right there. But she doesn't. Damn Mary and and all that British upper class restraint BS! 
  • What is up with Thomas and O'Brien? Why are they such close cohorts? I have my theories, and they seem to change. I now think it's probably 50% troublemaker kindred spirits, and 50% trying to rage against the machine. I know that Thomas wants out of the "downstairs" class and I think it is being revealed that O'Brien is not satisfied with her station in life either. But perhaps she recognizes that there is not much she can do outright, but she can push our Thomas right along. I think it speaks volumes though, that Thomas is still a perennial fixture downstairs, as opposed to us seeing him interacting upstairs. 
  • Oh, Ethel and her adventure. No surprise here, but I don't know what protocol is between military officers and servants - is this marriage unacceptable? I'm pretty sure, based on the fact that Ethel didn't go to him, but went to Ms. Hughes instead, a marriage is unlikely. 
  • Let's all start calling our motor vehicles "motors" instead of "cahs n' trucks," shall we? And we shall "order the motor" instead of saying "I need the cah." (*credit to JM)
  • And then there's this gem from Lady Violet upon viewing Mary and Edith singing together: "Well, now I've seen everything."
Just COME ON already


How I've waited until today to talk about Glee is something of a show of upper class British restraint in and of itself (you know, cuz I'm just like Mary). I have loved this show from the very first second. People who are the underdogs, freaks and geeks of life! Singing in the hallways! Hilarious and sometimes dark humor! I love all of it so much they should just call it The Lisa Show. Last week's episode might be my favorite of all. IT STARTED WITH SUMMER NIGHTS FROM GREASE! Right there, #1 show of all time. But what made it over-the-top special is that it actually had to do with the plot... Mercedes and Sam singing this song about their summer fling that everyone is just finding out about is perfect. Also perfect is Emma singing "Marry Me Will" in the halls of McKinley High to Mr. Schuster with Coach Bieste and Sue Sylvester as her bridesmaids, fascinators and all (aside: Sue's Fascinator will be the name of my new band). Add to this a fantastic Moves Like Jagger/Jumpin' Jack Flash mashup by the boys and a gorgeous rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by the ladies, and this would have been the greatest show ever if it stopped right there. However, Glee has an amazing ability to pull you into the emotions of the characters, even while we know all of it is pretty fantastical. The scene between Will and Emma when they have their honest discussion about her OCD and how that would resonate in their life going forward is powerful and Will says sometimes it feels "hopeless." And here is why Glee is genius: they can take a current, popular, bass-thumping synth dance song and make it part of a meaningful, romantic proposal. Using "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place" by Rhianna is not only such a perfect fit for these characters and this show, it also brings something deeper out of the song that had not been there before. Forget that the entire Glee Club and (I'm assuming) other synchronized swimmers learned an entire synchronized swim routine in a day, this was the most awesome scene in the best episode.

Mirrored but still awesome

Grey's Anatomy

Sometimes, no, most of the time, TV is a great escape. It lets you forget your life for awhile and watch other people deal with their problems. However, really good TV will make you think about the things you see and translate it into your own life. Sometimes you can learn a bit about how to handle a situation, sometimes these scenes show you how NOT to handle a situation. And sometimes what they put on the screen just feels very familiar and real and you may not learn anything new, but just appreciate the ride. There's no denying the power of that.

This is the first time I'm writing about Grey's here, but I have watched faithfully since day one. And I am not above telling people that I cry at just about every episode. Lately, though, these episodes have been hitting extremely close to home. Extremely close, like "hooby-dooby" close to home for me. Last week's episode was especially sob worthy (thanks for being there, Kleenex). First, there was a horrible story of an 11 year-old boy with an inoperable back tumor. I happen to be a mom to an 11 year-old boy who looked a lot like that boy on TV. The TV mom thinks the boy doesn't know what's going on. But just like in real life, the kids always know what's up. And this little boy on the TV was such a man about his situation, my mind couldn't help but leap to my son and how he similarly has handled awful life situations like a little man. *bursts into tears*. Concurrently, we are shown more of Adele's progression with Alzheimer's. Some might say that her walking to the hospital and yelling at Dr. Webber is over the top. A little, but more realistic than not. But when Meredith tells Webber to ground her in a memory to calm her down, I'm here to tell you that is the truth. When he starts singing Funny Valentine... that is honest, heartbreaking and anyone who has ever had someone close to them with this disease saw themselves there. I know that Grey's pushes all the emotion buttons, that it is (higher percent here)% emotion and (lower percent here)% reality or close to it. But when that power combo of emotion with a slice of reality hits close to home, you feel it. And if you're me, you sob like it's your family you're watching. Some sort of TV Catharsis ritual or something.

Powerful stuff right here

Once Upon a Time

I am still catching up on these, so there will be a lot more about this show going forward, but I am really enjoying it. There's some stuff that I don't like... some of the acting is not quite right, people in the "real world" not really doing normal things, etc. But obviously you need to suspend all sorts of disbelief for this show to work. Which is why I like the fairytale world so much better. Fully suspending disbelief is so much easier when dealing in that world. Sometimes I think they could have made a pretty good show just staying in the fairytale world. The couple of episodes I watched last night had me thinking about love at first sight in the real world. In Once Upon a Time, there is a dramatic encounter between Prince James and Princess Snow White... after Snow steals from him! So that was their "first sight," but they don't actually seem to be swooning. The dewey love stars in their eyes comes way later, like 10 minutes later after trolls and a walk in the woods. But they will always remember their first sight as being the dramatic reveal of Snow as thief. I haven't seen all of the episodes, but I am pretty sure they will refer to that moment as their love-at-first-sight moment. So I suppose that is true of real world, too:  the first time you saw your love, you may not have been in love in that moment, but it will be your love-at-first-sight-moment because you have grown to love them. Does this make sense? If so, then my love-at-first-sight moment involves my now hubby rolling a coin off his nose in a mean game of quarters. Ah, just like the fairy tales.

Playing quarters?

So today's entry has been a lot more personal than usual. TV has that effect on me most of the time... because IT'S AWESOME. Feel like sharing how TV effects you? Share your thoughts and comments below!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Downton Abbey - War Wives, War Lives

There's something interesting about watching The Good Wife back-to-back with Downton Abbey. Last week I talked about the various "Good Wives" on The Good Wife, and it would seem that is a good segue into talking about the good wives, bad wives and wives-in-waiting of Downton Abbey. For many of the female characters, the path to becoming a wife is all-consuming as well as challenging. But  this marriage business might be put on hold for others as the War changes their lives.

For simplification, seemingly the upstairs characters have more than love to consider: Mary must weigh class, financial security and the future of Downton Abbey itself in her consideration of becoming a wife. However, for all this logic, love weighs on her... and us! Don't we all just yell at the TV every time Mary and Matthew are on-screen together: "tell him!" and "why didn't you accept his proposal in the first place?" and "do it for love!" This is what gives Downton its drama: the struggle between what these characters should be doing to be happy and what they feel they must do to make others happy.

Poor Daisy is also caught in this pickle with William. The downstairs crew have their own set of considerations, but (at least for Daisy and Anna), honesty and love are predominant factors that can trump anything. Sweet, naive William is off to war and wants to marry Daisy. Daisy, who does not love William (yet?), is stuck giving him a promise to wed after the war due to the encouragement of Mrs. Patmore. You feel for both William (who is off the the horrors of WWI and loves Daisy) and Daisy, who can barely hold in any lie for anyone (see: Mary's Turk, Mrs. Patmore's absent soup). Daisy is doing the honorable thing, allowing William to go off to war with high hopes of marriage upon his return. However, the end of Episode 2 sees William suggesting they marry before he goes.  Drama Bomb!

Other juxtapositions of this are alive and well in the house. Of course there's Anna, whose love for Bates is unwavering to the point of saying to Mary that she will live her whole life loving him. In probably the most telling scene to highlight this theme, Mary says basically that that's their lot in life now: to move on and marry someone who is okay knowing that it won't be true love. Anna says she won't ever do that. She will live her whole life loving Bates and will never move on. (Damn that horrible, evil, very BAD almost ex-wife of Bates'. Hopefully she goes away soon.) Episode 2 also gave light to some history of "that blonde piece" Lavinia as she discloses to Mary that she did give evidence to newspaperman Sir Richard in order to save her father from crippling debt. Here is another example of 1920's English Highborn Problems... and Mary sees herself in Lavinia's actions and decides not to use this delicious information against her and Matthew's engagement. And again I must scream at my TV: "Damn you, Mary's conscience!"

While the roads to marriage are still prevalent, the world is changing and War makes for some interesting lifeplans. Sybil exemplifies this new world order in her rejection of Branson's declarations of love seemingly out of status concerns, but possibly because she is finding fulfillment in a career. And then there's Edith... where the heck does she fit in? She swings like a pendulum between cranky, spoiled brat ("my dress!" as poor Carson is having a heart attack), i.e. Old World and forward thinking bettering herself with life skills, i.e. New World. Last week we saw her using her new-found driving sKiLz by helping down on the farm. She was feeling good, feeling a part of something and that carried over into a smooch in the barn... possibly a roll in the hay?... with Mr. Farmer. Old World Edith would never, ever even BE on a farm, nevermind smooch a married farmer; New World Edith is devastated when Mrs. Farmer ends the deal. Is Edith crushed because she was in love? Doubtful. More likely it's because her raison d'etre has been taken away and she must float along again. But has the War literally invading Downton Abbey in the form of a convalescent center given her a puzzle for her puzzle piece? It must be so, since Edith has done the day to day caring of the soldiers so remarkably and quietly that everyone is stunned to hear that the soldiers give her all the credit for their comfort. Let's hope Edith has found her path and doesn't get sidetracked too quickly in this marriage business, as I am sure these convalescent officers will be propositioning her.

Now what about our penultimate good wife Cora? While being the good wife, she is increasingly asserting herself in ways that were not required previously. Standing up to both Mrs. Crawley and Violet as the true head of the household, she is finding new joy in having things go her way. However, it is difficult to watch this at times knowing that it is not all Cora's inner strength or even her own opinions for which she is fighting, but rather it is O'Brien who is leading Cora to these decisions. (Aside: what is UP with O'Brien's partnership with Thomas? What is the basis of this... is it just opportunists recognizing each other? Does O'Brien ultimately want Carson out and is plotting Thomas as a replacement? Curious.)

It is to Downton Abbey's credit that they pack so much intrigue, deep character development and plot movement into each and every episode. I think the key to the success of the show is that it is both detailed and fast-paced, and characters while being true to themselves, can evolve and adapt. I also thoroughly enjoy that while secrets are kept, just as many are shared among at least two or three characters. Lavinia's interlude with Sir Richard is quickly the topic of discussion and investigation between Dowager Countess Violet, Lady Rosamund and Mary. But as Dowager Countess Violet says, "I hate Greek drama. You know... when everything happens off-stage."

Other Discussion Topics:
- I am always riveted when seeing the unlikely but true friendship between Mary and Anna. Anna is really Mary's confidant, as she only entrusts Anna with her true thoughts and feelings. Anna is a good friend to Mary, not always telling her what she wants to hear but telling Mary her opinions truthfully. Mary is also a good friend to Anna, helping her in ways only she can (i.e. tracking down Mr. Bates!)

- Thomas. Oh, Thomas. What is going on? Did everyone smile as I did when Thomas arrives and there is a shot of the doorbells and Upstairs is ringing!  Brilliant shot, then punctuated with Carson looking at Thomas incredulously walking through the door. Aside: why does Mrs. Crawley hate Thomas so much? We all know he can be vile, but why does she look like she sucked a lemon every time he is mentioned? Is there history here that I am missing?
- Poor Mr. Lang and his PTSD. In a strikingly subtle juxtaposition, it is clear there is no convalescent home for those who were damaged in the war, not physically but mentally.  Where will he go now? He needs help and there's none to be had. Heartbreaking.
- Branson! What the flip?! So are we to believe that Sybil's rejection is making him more aggressive in his conscientious objections to the war? He serves up a story about a cousin, but the timing seems off on that being his reason for becoming more vocal/active against the war, since it sounds like that happened over a year ago. And Sybil caused his heart murmur only last week (<--see what i did there?). I think his plot to dump nasty stuff on the General was as much about being outlandish for Sybil than any statement he was trying to make about the war.
- Is there a better character on TV than Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess Violet? Just seeing her on-screen makes everything better.

So hit the comment section with your answers to my questions: Why does O'Brien keep pushing for Thomas? Why does Mrs. Crawley hate him so? Should Daisy marry William? Will Anna and Bates find their happily ever after? Will Mary and Matthew? Or will I have to scream at my TV forever?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good Wives

Late to this party, I know... but maybe you'll still want to talk about all of the good wives of The Good Wife this past Sunday night?

The Good Wives

As much as The Good Wife is always about what's happening with Alicia, this past Sunday's episode, "Alienation of Affections" was a strong episode for Diane.  In the opening scene, we get a very rare glimpse into her personal life as she is contemplating paintings in an art gallery.  Enter mysterious, charming, Australian stranger Jack and things are clicking until, oh he's there to serve her a grand jury summons. "You've been served" he says with all of his charm and then walks away. Wah-wahhh...  bummer.  I always root for Diane finding some type of personal lasting love interest, even though the show has made it clear in the past that Diane doesn't hold out hope for this: she is married to her career; the firm is her family.

The firm as family theme is prevalent in this episode, as the firm itself is being sued for 44 million dollars as a result of legal action being taken by a couple that sought divorce years ago, and now is blaming Lockhart-Gardner for actually instigating that divorce. "Alienation of affection" is the proper term. Oh yeah, 44 million dollars will make you find a seemingly ridiculous loophole in the books of Chicago, Illinois law and hire a superstar LA lawyer to fight that you really didn't come to the law firm to get a divorce after you caught your husband with a stripper.  This ridiculousness is not to say that Lockhart-Gardner's divorce specialist David Lee is above reproach.  David's been known to utilize some dubious methods, bend some bendy rules and be overall smug. But he has been able to be mostly autonomous and untouchable since he brings in the highest amount of revenue for the firm. But now, everyone is on the line, as Lockhart-Gardner is set up so that if the firm is sued, all partners are personally responsible for a chunk (We Are Family!). This does not sit well with anyone, especially Eli, a brand new partner, and all sorts of inter-company fighting ensues. Diane, in a fantastic scene that really shows her fortitude, has Eli and David sitting in front of her, bickering and she tells them both that basically she's on to both of them (what they want), their behavior is unacceptable, that they will not have it better anywhere else, and no one is leaving her family. Good onya, Mother Hen.

The case, while a great showcase for David Lee's smarmy sarcasm, is also a fascinating lesson in how far will people go to protect their money, career, reputation, and hinges on one crucial piece of paper. Alicia's name is in the computer as having submitted the entire file, but this one-page legal rider signed by the client that exempts the firm from being sued (basically), is nowhere to be found. While Kalinda is questioning Alicia on the events of that day back in 2010, she asks was this piece of paper filed with the rest of the documents or separately? "I don't remember" is Alicia's answer, 44 million dollars of tears welling up in her eyes. It was a really gripping moment, and anyone would be forgiven for not remembering something from years ago. But we are all invested in this firm as a family and we feel the pressure Alicia is feeling.  In swoops David Lee waving the rider signed by Alicia in 2010 that had been found in Cary's files and we all sigh a hefty sigh of relief and all is well. Right? Answer unclear. Earlier, David had dropped of a bunch of documents for Alicia to sign in regard to her own divorce proceedings and now Alicia suspects this is a newly created document with forged signatures and her own newly inked. Alicia goes to Diane with her suspicions and super-lawyer-mom tells Alicia that legally she only needs to rely on her best memory. Her best memory is that she signed the document and that she filed the document. Messy stuff this. Ultimately, it is information given to Diane from Jack that blows the case up for good, which makes for a good hero.

Meanwhile, Will still has this pesky indictment closing in on him as the State's Attorney's office (Mr. Florrick) continues their investigation into Will bribing judges.  We see Will meeting with several lawyers who are all doom-and-gloom. We also see Will meeting with Diane and when he starts to insinuate that if things get bad he'll leave, Diane, nothing if not loyal, tells Will that "we will fight it together." Will goes to Alicia and asks about Elsbeth Tascioni, who had defended her against the Treasury a few episodes back. A loud  cheer goes up from my couch (I'm the only one on it)! Elsbeth, as played by Carrie Preston is a fantastic character... seemingly absent minded but totally brilliant.

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And she doesn't disappoint. In all her flightiness, she gets special prosecutor Wendy off their backs for a bit by leaking information to the media that Wendy is really investigating the three most honest judges for bribery. Alas, at the end of the episode, Will is served papers from Jack in his office, serving (<-- see what I did there?) to let us know that crap is hitting the Will-fan soon, and allowing us some Jack and Diane bookend scenes... is there hope for Jack and Diane? I know what they should play at their wedding.

Burning Questions

  • Does anyone else think that IT guy is really suspicious? I mean, besides being rude and unhelpful? Especially when Kalinda was asking him questions - very defensive. Right before Kalinda comes in to ask Alicia about the events of the day, Alicia is shown gazing at a picture of her kids, and I had a brainstorm: remember how Alicia was having all kinds of computer issues and the IT guy was working on her computer but then he messed it up somehow? If memory serves me correctly, it had something to do with her password not working, so she recruited awesome tech-savvy son Zach to fix everything. I thought that we would find out that the IT guy was getting moolah to sneak in to files under Alicia's name and password and remove documents. I have a feeling - call it TV instinct - that this will resurface somehow. 
  • Did anyone else love Diane getting all swoony while watching badass Jack rough up a dude not wanting to get served? I have to admit, I was a little swoony myself... you know, for Diane.
  • Cary shows up at the deposition and is like some type of alter-ego nice Cary. His character has grown so much, this is a nice juxtaposition to be talking about a case from 2 years ago when he was hell bent and then vengeful. He's in a better place now, so he can show some grace. Oh, he's also out to get them, professionally so he can be nice now and bring down the hammer later.
  • I love, love, love Elsbeth Tascioni... do you?

Comments please!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Revenge is Best Served...

...on the beach, at a fabulous "low-key" clam bake, of course.  Only the simplest, most low-key clam bake ever! One that required a party planner and much electrical power.

Oh, the delicious twists and turns of last night's episode of Revenge!  Before I get to the recap, I need to tell you that my viewing was less than optimal:

                                                         Poor Nolan, stabbed and tied up... I think?  (No worries, new TV on the way!)

So there may have been some subtle visual cues missed.  But I really doubt it.

Appropriately titled "Duress"opens to the gang sitting around a beautiful table on the beach to celebrate Daniel's birthday. Whoa! Tyler is holding a gun and is aiming at... Emily! Time jump to days earlier and we see Emily apologize and make up with Nolan. Then Nolan lets Emily know that Tyler has the whale cam (Whale Cam... possibly the name of my new rock band?) AND all the videos collected on it. Horrible, right?  Not to game-runner Emily who declares, "or it could be the shovel for him to dig his own grave." Interesting... *wiggles fingers together ominously*.  Meanwhile, Conrad and Victoria meet with lawyers to discuss their divorce.  Among other things, we find out that Victoria was preggers when she signed that pre-nup (duress!). Here's where we get Maybe Queen Victoria Was A Commoner Once Clue #1: Conrad says "Marrying me was the best thing that ever happened to her." Back to Emily, who is now off to Daniel/Tyler's beach house to retrieve the whale cam (<-- must henceforth be said like rock star: "Whaaale Caam!") from Tyler.  She finds it in his duffle bag (the Duffle Bag of Secrets and Lies!) along with, oh yeah... an empty anti-phsychotic med bottle.  Bam. And if that doesn't tell us that Tyler is legit crazy, seeing him bust up the place when he discovers ""Whaaale Caam!" gone certainly does. Emily sees all of this, then tells Daniel and Ashley that Tyler is bonkers.  Daniel goes to confront Tyler and comes away thinking Tyler is, indeed, bonkers. Declan lets it slip that Jack had a thing for Emily... to Amanda. Amanda does her best jealous side-glances for the rest of the show. Emily and Jack build clam bake pit on beach, she has flashback to being Amanda as a kid with Jack. Emily tells Nolan she has the "Whaaale Caam!", Nolan tells Emily he contacted Tyler's bro and he is on the way, and the GPS Nolan put on Tylers phone tells us that Tyler is on a plane to Cali. Emily tells Nolan he should stop by the clam bake because it's just friends and family and he now qualifies.  Nolan is wicked psyched.  Until Tyler comes in the house and stabs him! And sees "Whaale Caam!" streaming on Nolan's computer AND sees where Emily keeps her gun. And then ties up Nolan and leaves. At clam bake, now everyone knows that Amanda is back in town.  Cue Maybe Queen Victoria Was A Commoner Once Clue #2:  When Conrad asks Victoria what she knows about Amanda being back, Victoria says "All I see is a pretty girl with cheap shoes and limited social graces."  Conrad replies: "Like someone else I used to know." Whooopah!  Time for cake... Emily goes to get the cake, Tyler pulls Emily's own gun on her and walks her out to the gang.  Tyler goes on a rant and starts demanding truth! Starting with "Connie", he wants to know what really happened with David Clarke. Emily and Amanda exchange looks, Conrad doesn't answer, Tyler puts gun to Emily's head and... and... Nolan shows up with Tyler's bro and cops. Good ending. Wait... only after the fact does Nolan reveal that there were no bullets in the gun the whole time, as Nolan calls Emily a true master. Also, the police find dead security dude Frank's wallet with Tyler's stuff (most likely in the Duffle Bag of Secrets and Lies) so he's going away for a long time. The show closes with Daniel telling Emily he can't imagine his life without her, setting us up for the proposal and more importantly, the tragic engagement party that started the whole series!

Now that we're all caught up, here are some things to consider:

- Is it a leap to think that Emily knew Tyler was going to show up at the party that night?  In hindsight, I am thinking that since Emily saw Tyler's rage, she intuitively knew that he was not going to just walk away.  She knew that Tyler would go to Nolan, thinking he had stolen the "Whaaale Caam!" back. So then she knew he might see anything that was happening in her house (since she positioned the "Whaale Caam!" on her mantle). She cleverly invited Nolan to join the party, knowing he would never miss it in a million years. But was there an extra place setting? No! With this line of thinking, though, are we to believe that Emily was willing to have Nolan die?  Because Tyler could have definitely just killed Nolan instead of merely stabbing and tying him up. Also, she would have had to not believe Nolan's GPS telling us that Tyler was on a plane. Not far-fetched, since Emily doesn't trust anyone or anything. And what about the gun?  I think it is a stretch to think that Emily would have known that Tyler saw that exact moment when Daniel was placing the gun in the desk for easy access (even though we know he did).  But she knew he could have seen it... so she took the bullets out!  Or, could we also assume that maybe she took the bullets out awhile ago, ever since Daniel found the gun?  Mayhaps.

- So, what are we to think of Emily and party-planner Ashley's frenemyship?  Early on, they were besties. Then Tyler shows up and woos Ashley into thinking she can partner with him for a piece of the rich pie.  Now Tyler is revealed to be crazy and criminal... where does that leave poor Ash?  The few scenes with Emily and Ashley lead me to believe that Emily knew Tyler had Ashley believing Emily was the enemy.  Though I am not sure if now Ashley regrets it all.  Will she go back to being likable, friend Ashley? Or now that she's had a taste of the other side, will she try to wile her way into the glamorous life? I like Ashley, so I am hoping they find a good story line for her (one that doesn't end with psycho BFs pulling guns at the party you planned. How rude!)

- When Conrad indicates that Queen Victoria may have had more humble beginnings, we all immediately heard the lyrics to Don't You Want Me Baby in our collective heads, amirite? "You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar/ When I met you."

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Queen Victoria as Vicki the hash-slinger? Awwww yeah.

- Shouldn't everyone have known something was up with Tyler when he showed up with The Duffle Bag of Secrets and Lies?  I mean, Daniel's Harvard roommate shows up with a duffle bag?  bitch, please.

What are your thoughts on the episode?  Sorry to see a villain as good as Tyler go? Dying to know about how Victoria and Conrad met? Let's chat about it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday Night Comedy Roundup - 1/3/12

Monday nights are must-see light comedy night for me. (I say "light" to differentiate from super duper heavy-hitting comedy like 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Community.) Starting with How I Met Your Mother (or, how I prefer to refer to it, "my friends that live in the box in my living room"), the new, snappy 2 Broke Girls and finishing with the fun and funny Mike & Molly.

How I Met Your Mother is like checking in with that group of people you used to hang out with: so familiar... you just pick up where you left off.  I haven't always liked the way they incorporate story lines just to drop them somewhat suddenly (i.e. no shot of Barney watching Robin on TV last night? Even when Kevin says "That's my girl!"? File that under 'Missed Opportunity' or "Hot Potato, Storyline Dropped Like a").  But I must say that the way the show has handled Marshall's father's death has been touching and realistic.  From the start, this story line was filled with shock, sadness, comedy, confusion and anger... a big ball of WTF.  I'm here to tell you that this is just like real life.  Last night's episode was no different.  Marshall visiting his dad's gravesite with a TV and tailgating supplies was on the surface, kind of goofy and could have been played for laughs only. But watching Marshall have his special time with his dad, watching the game, rehashing the New Year's Eve stories and ending up grilling burgers for lots of new cemetery friends and "neighbors",  the emotion came through, especially in the flashbacks to Marshall and his dad tailgating when Marshall was a kid. Roll in the Lilly pregnancy/daddy issues storyline and the more comedic, but no less inspiring Robin on TV storyline, and the just-for-laughs Puzzles Bar opening, and you have 30 minutes of well balanced jokes and fully felt emotion. A lesser show wouldn't have handled all this so deftly. Any comedy that can make me laugh and cry has it going on. (Full disclosure: I have been known to cry at On Star radio commercials, so shedding tears at the end of this episode of HIMYM is probably not surprising. But it truly was touching.)

2 Broke Girls is one of my new favorite "fluffy" comedies, if only because the plots are loosely staged around a series of funny one-liners.  I'm not watching it for any kind of fantastic acting or ground-breaking comedy, but the acting makes you care just enough to stay tuned and the zingy one-liners are just SO ZINGY.  It's like watching someone's (Whitney Cummings'?) stand-up routine acted out. Example: "Shame is overrated. Like Ke$ha. In fact, they should rename "shame" "Ke$hame". 'I just bought a Ke$sha album, I am so Ke$hamed." Good stuff!

Mike & Molly might be one of the cutest shows on TV right now.  That's not to say it's all sweet and rosey... they get down and dirty on this show too.  In a sea of wacky characters that make up the supporting cast (moms, sister, friends) the two lead characters of Mike and Molly (Billy Gardell and the incomparable Melissa McCarthy) are so natural and relatable, they ground the entire show. These two are the "normal" core around which everything else swirls. But no one is perfect on this show, and that makes it all the more watchable.  And Molly is at her best when despondent, drunk, mad or any combo of these.  Last night's episode focused on the supporting character of Carl, and funny things were said. But I think our time here would be better spent showing Melissa McCarthy doing what she does best, and the real reason I watch this show (p.s. she won an Emmy for this!):

(If video doesn't play above, click here to see hilarity.)

If you are wondering, I totally skip Two and Half Men.

Aside:  While watching these shows last night I saw probably 8,989 ads for Rob! starring that poor sap Rob Schneider as a guy who marries into a Mexican-American family.  Looks absolutely and horrifically cliche-filled awful. How the hell did this get through?!  They can't successfully make a Wonder Woman movie but they can put this crap on TV.  Ay dios mio!

Off Topic Mini-Rant:  So I have just caught up on every episode of Starz Camelot (Britishy, dreamy, lusty, supernatural good stuff with Joseph Fiennes no less) to find out that it is not renewed for another season! *shakes fist at Starz*  I guess this goes in the same bucket as The Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll, The Unusuals, Party Down and The Glee Project (maybe?) titled "Shows Only Lisa Watches".

Anyone else watching these shows?  What did you think of the episodes last night? In particular, is HIMYM doing a good job with Marshall and his dad? Is Mike & Molly as cute as I think it is?  Did anyone else on the planet watch The Search for the Next Doll?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is American Horror Story "the New Lost"?

Since Lost went off air, all networks have been searching for "the NEW Lost".  Tough challenge, that. Lost changed watching television forever. Full of brilliant zigs and zags, with characters you loved but couldn't always trust, a desperate situation and big ol' dash of supernatural, Lost made television viewing more active than passive.  What do those numbers mean? What's that happening in the background in only a split frame? And later, if x happens in this world, how does that effect the other dimension? And that was all while you were watching.  Post-Lost discussions online and at water coolers everywhere could last for days.  Lost also changed the playing field with season to season mind blowers.  Who can forget the Season 4 opener where you don't realize until the end of the episode that, wait a minute... these aren't flashbacks! they're off the island!  Flashforwards! Brilliant.  (So brilliant that it makes me hate the end all over again. That's probably a whole other entry, or even a whole other blog. But I digress.)

And now we have American Horror Story.  So while not exactly following the blueprint for Lost, I think it's probably some of the most progressive television we have seen since Lost.  Do I think Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk set out to duplicate Lost? No, not exactly. I think they developed a series in earnest, with only their true vision as a guide. Sure, they have borrowed freely from many different horror films (Rosemary's Baby, The Shining), novels (Frankenstein) true crime stories (Black Dahlia) and history/mythology (Roanoke, every ghost story ever told). But truth be told, American Horror Story is not like anything else on TV right now.  Each week, bit by bit, you learn more about the horrific murders and events that took place in the house and the ghostly inhabitants that now dwell there.  As well, you learn about the living people, namely the Harmon family that moves in and their chaaaahming neighbor Constance, and their own dysfunction through flashbacks.  And you learn about house rules. Anyone who dies in the house comes back as a ghost. Sometimes they know they are ghosts, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they can be seen as live people. Sometimes they have sex with other ghosts, and sometimes with live people. And sometimes the rules change. Try to keep up. And holy wow, do they pack a whole lot into each episode. After an entire season of watching the Harmons move in and then try to get out of the house, the finale saw a new family move in and move out... in one episode.  And that wasn't even the main part of anything.  Horror purists might say that much of AHS is predictable, has been done before, is too all over the place (frankenstein baby+teenage mass murderer+deformed child in attic+recently dead ex-mistress+the black dahlia, all in one place?  wha?)... and I can understand this viewpoint, but I'm not sure I agree. Yes, each episode was sort of Horror Cuisinart, but ultimately it payed off (mostly). Certainly the more layers of Lost that revealed themselves led to more complex and interesting episodes. And I think the same philosophy is true here. Only AHS had a lot more going on from the start. So ambitious!

Well now we know why they pact so much stuff into each episode. It has been revealed that each season of AHS will be its own story. None of these characters (alive, dead or *sniff* house-form) that we have grown to care about will be in season 2. Now that is some daring television.  It's a bit unsettling to be sure, and certainly a gamble on the part of producers and Fox Entertainment. As a lover of TV (did you know?), I think it's so exciting that there is a new method to this mad television series. Am I bummed that we'll never know what happens to Constance and the demon child? Yes. That we may never know what happens to the next poor saps that move into the house?  Sure. That no one will ever don the rubber suit again? Absolutely. But as much as I will miss the characters (including the house), I think AHS has to be credited for pushing television along and I am so curious to see what next season brings.

In an article on ew.com, Doc Jensen talks about "the next Lost" and how, in his opinion, it still remains to be found (for whole article click here).  He even calls out AHS, along with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones (two series you will see A LOT on this blog), as series that are trying but failing with viewership numbers to reach the golden Lost status.  Yes, I have likened The Walking Dead to Lost in that there are a bunch of survivors trying to get by, and who knows who these people are that crashed on this island have survived the zombie apocalypse?  And Game of Thrones is certainly smart and buzz worthy, but it is based on the brilliant books. Not a problem, just not original. Here's the thing:  when I think about Lost, I think about it being a series that was totally original, spectacularly different and actually raised the bar for television in general with its smart storytelling, etc. And yes, it was super popular. But I'm not sure that "the next Lost" is all about how many eyeballs see it.  (Aside: AHS is not doing too shabby and is also the most DVR'd show this year.) So, I think "the next Lost" could be here... "the new Lost" in the form of the boundary-pushing American Horror Story.  It's only been one season... I'm sure the eyeballs will come.