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!

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