Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heroes: still here, still mopey

Last season, Heroes had such a bad sophomore slump that its creator Tim Kring felt the need to apologize for it and I was even wondering why I liked the show in the first place. I don't remember where the show left off (which was a pretty time ago with the writers' strike and all) but I have to report that this season's premiere was definitely better than last year's. But that's kind of not really saying much. It still has a lot of the same problems but at least stuff happened. Let's break it down:

The possibly interesting:
- Mama Petrelli in charge of the Company. She's one of the few characters left that I actually find compelling. Her being Sylar's real mother is kind of lame though.
- The escaped "villains." I do also still like HRG, so seeing him deal with them could be fun.
- The new "speedster" girl. She got a much better introduction than last year's newbies and I think it'll be fun seeing her kind of compete with Hiro.

The questionable:
- I do still like Nathan too and I guess I'm glad he's not dead but the religious stuff was just strange.
- Why is Niki suddenly someone else? For some reason the writers/producers seem to want to keep Ali Larter but it seems like they don't know what exactly to do with her.
- Hiro and Ando. I'm glad they're still around to provide comic relief amid all the angst angst angst but Hiro was being stupid this episode and I don't know if I like the idea of Ando getting a power.

The totally lame:
- Peter, in general. I totally laughed when Mama Petrelli told him "You're not as smart as you think you are," because it's true. Peter is just so stupid. Everything he does is stupid. That's really all.
- Mohinder, also in general. Injecting himself with the serem and gaining a power -- all very 4400 (which I'm still kind of bitter about being canceled). And course it's more than he bargains for. What is he, becoming a bug? Can we also cut out the terrible voiceovers? And um, do we really have to endure a Maya-Mohinder romance? UGH.
- Matt randomly in Africa. Is this really necessary? At least he's not some other time period a la the failure that was Hiro in feudal Japan. Oh, and where did Molly shipped off to?
- All the different visions of the future. It's just too easy and too hard at the same time when they KNOW the world's going to end. AGAIN.

Just can't bring myself to care:
- Elle.
- Claire.
- Sylar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Still loving Gossip Girl

You know, I just wanted to mention how much I'm enjoying Gossip Girl this year. I'm so glad that Serena and Dan appear to be done for awhile...for some reason the show was kind of treating them like the one real romance of the show but I was never really that into it. Especially because Dan has just been sucking more and more. I'm not sure what I think about this new development with Serena suddenly morphing into Queen S. I always had the impression that Serena, back before she went to boarding school, was more the "it" girl that everyone wanted to be friends with not necessarily because she was mean but because everything came easy to her. Blair's the one who's had to manipulate and intimidate to gain her position. It'll be fun to see Blair and Serena battle it out for a little bit the books Blair was always feeling like she was in Serena's shadow. Hopefully it won't last TOO long though...I'm a fan of their friendship.

I am really glad that Marcus and Catherine are off the show though. I figured that it was inevitable but I totally didn't expect the way it happened. Creepy love polygon indeed. Last week I was a little disappointed at how Blair didn't seem to have any qualms about scheming against Nate for her own benefit but this week she kind of redeemed herself in getting the Duchess to pay off Nate's family's debts. But of course Vanessa had to go screw it up! Sigh. I felt kind of bad for both of them though...Vanessa for kind of just not knowing any better in general and Blair for always having such terrible boyfriends.

Speaking of terrible boyfriends, I also totally didn't see it coming that Chuck manufactured the whole Amanda situation in order to dethrone Blair and make her come back to him. In fact it was maybe a little too clever for him to get it all working. But it definitely worked like a charm and made Dan seem like more an ass than ever. It's funny, looking back at the pilot, who would have thought that I'd despise Dan and love Chuck? I mean, Chuck is still pretty reprehensible but he's just so damn entertaining. I think like Veronica and Logan, it'll be much more fun seeing Chuck and Blair keep sparring than actually be a couple.

Other thoughts: is Jenny going to change schools like she did in the books? I doubt she'll be leaving the show and I find her much more bearable now that she's not always social-climbing. How in the world did she get picked as a "project" last year though? If they had those files they would have known she was from Brooklyn and brough no perks along with her. Also, I've been wondering for awhile now how the heck Nelly Yuki went from being sabotaged to being part of the clique but maybe she's supposed to be like the brains of the group? It seemed she was the one in charge of all the files. And what is the deal with Penelope and Is and the other girls? (And where the heck was Hazel?) It almost seems like they're the ones controlling the school by picking their leader. That last scene with Serena asserting her new position over Blair was just bizarre. Leighton Meester continues to have the greatest facial expressions though. Her look of confusion/disbelief as Serena ties her scarf around her neck was so perfect.

Oh and check OUT those lockers. Geez, no ugly metal for Upper East Siders!

Friday, September 12, 2008

New fall shows: Fringe and True Blood

Fringe: I know I've said that I refuse to get sucked into another J.J. Abrams show, but apparently there's something that trumps my hate for J.J. Abrams -- my love for Pacey. Yes, Joshua Jackson is back on TV and I cannot resist. To be fair, Abrams has gone on record saying that he realizes how convoluted Alias and Lost got and that he's going to try to make Fringe a little more accessible, so maybe I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. A few things in the premiere had me a little worried though, not least of which was "the Pattern" which sounds suspiciously like it could devolve into a terrible Rambaldi-Dharma type conspiracy thing.

But beyond that, it remains to be seen whether the X-files-ish procedural aspect is going to work well. The lead girl, Olivia, played by Anna Torv, is a little bland but isn't as terrible as say, Jamie from Bionic Woman. But John Noble, as mad scientist (literally) Walter Bishop, and Joshua Jackson as Peter, his snarky genius son, are really great. Their dynamic was a lot of fun to watch. The beginning of the premiere was surpremely gross though...and as a non-horror-movie-fan, I hope there isn't going to be too much of that kind of stuff. Tentatively added to my schedule.

True Blood: I don't know why vampires are suddenly making a comeback, but this seemed like it was going to be one of the more interesting entries in the genre. Based on a series of novels, the title of the series refers to a synthetic blood beverage that's allowing vampires to come out into the public. The show takes place in Louisiana, which adds another unique element to the series (seems like all TV these days is about rich people in New York or California), although for some reason, the leads are played by a Kiwi (Anna Paquin), a Brit (Stephen Moyer), and an Aussie (Ryan Kwanten). (I'm not from the South so I can't comment on their accents.) A very blond and perky Anna Paquin plays Sookie, a local waitress who falls for Bill, a vampire returned to his hometown. The pilot sets up a murder that'll likely be an ongoing plotline, but other than that I can't say where the storyline's going to go.

I normally get into this kind of stuff but somehow I wasn't really hooked. Maybe it's because of the Twilight books (see my previous post) but I think I'm a little weary of this vampire true love stuff. I'm not sure Sookie and Bill's connection was that believable. And of course Sookie has a human admirer too, her boss Sam. Sookie does have some amusing coworkers and friends that could keep things fun, but I don't know. Unless buzz gets better I think I'm going to be shelving this one.

Project Runway - It's Already Fashion Week?

Amazingly I haven't posted about this season of Project Runway yet. Somehow it just felt extremely slow getting started and I wasn't really wowed by many of the earlier challenges or designs. It wasn't until Episode 6 (the drag queen challenge) that things really started to pick up and I was starting to pick out favorites.

I'm not sure what's up with the timing of this season though...we started off the week with half of the designers and on Wednesday night were only down to six but the Fashion Week show at Bryant Park was today. So all 6 collections were shown. I believe there are still two regular elimination shows left, so I guess that means there are 4 finalists this year, and 2 decoys? I find the decoy thing to be kind of annoying. They get eliminated but still get to do collections for Fashion Week and at the time of the show no one knows that they're not in the running to win, so it's pretty much the same as being a finalist, right?

Anyway, even though the winner won't be revealed for another MONTH, you can go look at the collections online. Also I read that the guest judge had to drop out at the last second and Tim Gunn filled in! Yay, Tim! I don't want to speculate too much but I had some definite likes and dislikes. Based on the challenges so far only, here's my rundown:

Leanne: Possibly my favorite and my current pick to win. I think she took a little while to kind of get into her groove, but she's made some of my favorite looks from this season. She does some really interesting things with shape and pieced looks while still remaining elegant and refined. Her car dress ROCKED and I totally loved the skirt she did for the NYC challenge. And her Diane von Furstenberg dress was just gorgeous. I also like that she's not really a reality-TV personality. While I did love Christian from last season, it's nice to see normal people succeed once in awhile.

Korto: She caught my attention much earlier than everyone else. She's really thoughtful and smart about her designs and she's been amazingly consistent. Again, not so much wild and crazy like we've seen from past winners Jay and Jeffrey and Christian, but really new and interesting things that women would actually want to wear. The seat belt coat was gorgeous (though I read that it was incredibly heavy!)

Kenley: Cannot stand her personality. I thought she was kind of cute during the first episode, but then I started to get more and more irked. Laughing at Daniel on the runway was just plain rude (especially since she claimed to be his friend) and she seems to be getting more and more defensive as the weeks go on. She can't take criticism and she can't stop interrupting the judges. Unfortunately, her designs have actually been alright. I'm not that big a fan...I didn't like the bubble dress thing that she won the NYC challenge with, and her look for this past week's challenge was terrible. I was kind of hoping she would get kicked off this week just so I wouldn't have to see her interview segments anymore...ok, yes I'm mean.

Jerell: This guy confuses me. He seems to put together these looks that don't seem like they'll make any sense and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. He's flip-flopped from the top to the bottom a couple of times and I can never tell when he's going to do well. I was kind of surprised by his win this week...I liked his outfit but I'm not entirely sure what it had to do with Sagittarius?

Suede: At least he's kind of weaned himself off referring to himself in the third person all the time but I don't really get his style point of view yet. He's been riding safely in the middle for most of the season, which might be a bad thing.

Joe: Honestly I don't think he really belongs at the top. He's not terrible but he has this sort of sportswear thing going that's not that new or interesting but has served him well in a couple of challenges. Sometimes I feel like he's just a little too literal with the challenge descriptions though.

Was kind of surprised to see Terri out this week. Her attitude has getting on my nerves these past couple of weeks and the other designers have been calling her out for always doing the same pants, but she was never in the bottom before this week and she was good at what she did.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I actually really liked the first two books in this series, Twilight and New Moon. I mean, they weren't like masterpieces of literature or anything, but I thought Stephenie Meyer created a really interesting world and I was extremely curious as to how she was going to resolve everything. But then with the third book, Eclipse, I started to get a little weary, and I was really glad to hear that the fourth book, Breaking Dawn was going to be the last.I didn't want to buy the book but I was dying to know what happened, so I read spoilers. And I was pretty shocked by how terrible it all sounded. I wasn't expecting much when I finally got around to reading it myself, but maybe because of that, it wasn't really as bad as the spoilers made it sound.

But here's my main problem with the Twilight books: I can't stand Bella.

I get that Meyer wanted Bella to be the ordinary girl that gets caught up in the extraordinary. But Bella's not just ordinary--she's BORING. I mean, what do we know about her? She doesn't like clothes or girly things, she's too klutzy to be athletic or into sports, she's not particularly good at school, she voluntarily left a life with her mother in Tucson and doesn't appear to miss anyone or anything from there, and she decides to become a vampire without much thought to her actual family and things that she might miss out on as a result of it. She really seems to have no interests in life except for Edward (and occasionally Jacob), and girls whose lives revolve around their boyfriends? Annoying. And girls who are annoying who get everything they want in the end? BEYOND IRRITATING.

Another problem I have is with Bella's narrative "voice." I guess this is kind of a problem with Meyer's writing, but I find Bella's descriptions of everything to be really...boring. The flowery language, the random details, the constant just doesn't keep my attention. And the section after Bella first turned should have been interesting, but instead I was just impatient for something else to happen. The part where Bella and Edward go out to test her abilities and hunt was just excruciating. Actually I kind of hated the whole first section of the book with the wedding and the honeymoon. Actually, I find any parts where it's just Bella and Edward and no one else to be pretty unbearable...

Which brings me to my last problem: I don't get why Bella and Edward are so obsessed with each other. I kind of think it's a good thing they have Renesmee now because I kind of wondered what the heck they were going to talk about for FOREVER. It seems like ever since Edward revealed he was a vampire all they've ever talked about is Bella becoming one. Now that she finally is, what is it about their personalities that make them a good couple?

So after all that complaining, why did I not think Breaking Dawn was all that bad? I think it was Jacob's section that saved it. I really like Jacob. Sure, he's stupid at times, and his obsession with Bella is yet another annoyance, but to me his character was just so much more fully developed, and I found the whole werewolf side of the story to be a lot more interesting. I liked how Jacob came around to deciding that he needed to protect Bella and the Cullens. I liked that Seth and Leah came to join his pack. I liked how we got to find out a little bit more about Leah and I liked her explanation of how she related to Rosalie. (I'm going to fanwank a happy ending for her too because, heck, everyone else got one.) And I even liked how Jacob and Edward came to be kind of friends. All throughout the series I was pretty neutral on Edward--I didn't like or dislike him particularly--but around Jacob he seemed much more real, and I could actually see what an honorable guy he really was.

So I guess you could say that I was on Team Jacob...sort of. Because I didn't really want Jacob and Bella together either. Jacob would always be second best and he didn't deserve that. The solution with him imprinting on Renesmee is maybe too convenient and definitely weird, but I guess it's the best Meyer could do without Bella having to lose anything. It reminds me a little bit of how I felt with the whole Jo-Laurie situation in Little Women. While I still groan whenever I think about Jo refusing Laurie's proposal, in the end I was ok with them not ending up together. But Laurie with Amy? I was so not ok with that for the longest time. The thing that changed my mind was this little TV show called Little Men from awhile back (based on the sequels to Little Women). I don't know if it was the casting or what but you could really see that Laurie and Amy were a good couple, and Jo and Laurie got to keep that great best friend relationship without any weirdness at all. So maybe I can be ok with this too, though who knows what Renesmee's going to be like as an adult. For some reason I imagine Dakota Fanning-like precociousness, which...ugh. Let's not think about that.

But you know, in general, for a vampire/werewolf/love saga, there's a pretty noticeable lack of loss and tragedy. No one important dies, and Bella gets everything she wants. She has Edward, she has Jacob, she has a daughter, she has immortality, she has a power, she even has Charlie (though for how long, who knows). And the lead-up to it all was SO anti-climactic. They got all those random assorted vampires to come from all over the world and there was no fight at all. All that time Bella spent learning how to fight and use her power and preparing to send off Jacob and Renesmee to South America and then...NOTHING. Since the very first book I've thought the Volturi were just lame and this only confirmed it. LAME.

Speaking of lame, Renesmee Carlie Cullen? I didn't think any fictional baby name could be worse than Albus Severus Potter but evidently I was wrong.

You know, after reading New Moon, I started to get worried about how the series could be resolved, and I came up with my own ending. It involved Edward getting killed, Bella eventually getting on with her life, finding out that Jacob imprinted on someone random, and then years later glimpsing the Cullens at some mall or something and meeting eyes with Rosalie. Okay, maybe that's a little melodramatic and just as cliched, and of course all the obsessed Bella-Edward fans out there would not have had it so, whatever. I'm just glad the series is over. I wonder why I get so into books and TV and things that I don't even really like that much...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Skins on BBCAmerica

You know, I actually almost gave up on Skins after the first episode. It's a British TV show now airing on BBC America (confession: BBCA is actually one of the reasons I upgraded my cable package) about a group of teenagers living in Bristol, England. The ringleader of the group is Tony (played by Nicholas Hoult, that kid from About a Boy!?), who's popular and manipulative and used to getting his own way. He's actually kind of a...mean girl?

The first episode is pretty much just all about the things he cares about: sex, drugs, partying, and getting people to do whatever he wants. All with British accents and slang half of which I couldn't really understand (BBC America actually subtitles some of the dialogue to help us Americans out). The episode ends with the whole gang somehow stealing a car and driving it in into a harbor and...not getting in trouble for it. (Well, except for the part where a crapload of drugs that wasn't paid for ends up lost in the water too.) I can't say I actually know what British teenagers are like but I was a nerd in high school and I just felt like it was all kind of too much.

But I decided to stick it out for another episode, and I'm really glad I did. The show does have some ongoing plotlines but each episode focuses on just one or two of the characters, and the tone of the show kind of changes to fit. The second episode is about Cassie, who's sweet and kind of spacey (she seems to begin every other sentence with "Oh wow") and who's just returned from a stint of treatment for an eating disorder. The episode has sort of a dreamy, indie film feel to it, and the ending was actually kind of moving. Cassie also has a crush on Sid, the endearingly hapless sidekick to Tony who's in love with Michelle, Tony's girlfriend and is oblivious to Cassie's feelings. She's my favorite so far and I can see Sid and Cassie being the couple to root for.

The third episode is Jal's. She's very straightforward and smart and is a hugely talented clarinetist, but struggles to get respect from her rap artist father and wannabe brothers. They do love her though, as the boys end up in the hospital going after the drug dealers that smash her clarinet and her father replaces said worth-thousands clarinet just in time for a national music competition. Jal's probably got the best head on her shoulders out of everyone and isn't afraid to call people out for dumb behavior (which there's kind of a lot of) but she can also be really supportive of her friends, as seen in the fourth episode, featuring Chris, the group's sort of class clown and party animal.

I've heard Skins described as being similar to Gossip Girl but I don't know that that's a really accurate statement. Gossip Girl is so much about New York and the world that they live in--the gossip and scandal and money and fashion. Skins, on the other hand, is definitely not glamorous. These teens are all kind of screwed up in their own ways and find themselves in really crazy, messy situations (sometimes literally--these kids can trash houses like nobody's business), but somehow their lives seem a little closer to average. So while it's a very different show from Gossip Girl, I think people could really enjoy both. Check it out on BBC America on Sundays (it also reruns throughout the week).

Word of warning though--along with the drugs and alcohol and language, there's kind of a lot of nudity, the likes of which we never get on American shows. I'd heard that Europeans were more relaxed about these things but I'm pretty surprised at what they can get away with...

Here's a video trailer:

Lots more at

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

90210 = South of Nowhere?

When I first read about the premise for the new 90210, the first thing I thought was, this sounds like South of Nowhere (a somewhat lesser known little show on the N that started back in 2005 and will be ending this year). And last night's premiere made the similarities even more obvious! I mean, let's see, family with teenage children moves to California from the Midwest (Kansas on 90210, Ohio on South of Nowhere). Annie is the sweet and innocent daughter, like Spencer, and Dixon is kind of a combination of Clay and Clay he's the black kid adopted into a white family and like Glen he's the athlete whose talent rivals that of the star jock of their new school, Ethan/Aidan, who has a connection with Annie/Spencer, even though he's already dating Naomi/Madison, who's the richest, bitchiest girl in school. And then there's Silver/Ashley, the kind of indie alterna-chick who befriends Annie/Spencer. Of course South of Nowhere ended up going in a very different and kind of refreshing direction while 90210 seems to be on the predictable route for now.

I hadn't expected much from this show, because honestly the early seasons of the original were kind of terrible too. And we didn't really get much. It didn't have the punch that shows like the OC and Gossip Girl had from the very beginning and they tried to cram way too much into the first two episodes. So far I like Silver (which isn't a surprise since I really liked Jessica Stroup on Reaper) and Dixon and Navid seem ok. Naomi looks way too old to be a teenager and Ethan so far is incredibly boring (which is a shame because I kind of liked Dustin Milligan in the two minutes I saw of him on that failed show Runaway from a few years back). And Annie...I was never a fan of Shenae Grimes as Darcy on Degrassi and I'm finding her to be similarly grating here. I wonder if they're going to have her character bring out the claws like we saw with Darcy. I also kind of wonder what's up with that drama chick...the character/actress was not featured at all in any of the promotional materials but she had her own little subplot. Are they setting her up to get written off the show so Annie can get the lead in the musical or something?

As for the non-teenagers...of course it was really fun seeing Kelly and Brenda and Nat again, and there was the name-dropping of Brandon and "Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez." The English teacher/Lacrosse coach, Ryan, is kind of cute (as obviously I'm now old enough to be crushing on the adults of a teen show), but I get a creepy feeling there'll be something going on with a student coming up. The parents are eh, whatever. Rob Estes is alright and Lori Loughlin is always the same. I am not a fan of the son-he-didn't-know-about storyline. The grandmother is hilarious, though maybe not as awesome as Lucille Bluth.

So it wasn't great. But it wasn't as awful as say, Secret Life of the American Teenager, so I'll keep watching it. Compared to the original 90210 though, the cast seems kind of lacking in eye candy. The girls are all way too skinny and none of the guys are exactly Luke Perry...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


The season premier of Gossip Girl had it's ups and downs, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited that it's back! Yay!

Best line so far: "Damn that motherchucker." (And you know the writers were giddy with glee to get to use it!)

:) Totally on Team Blair-Chuck! Team Bluck? Team Chair?

Yay for the start of a new Fall season of TV. And hopefully no writers strikes this year!!! In which case, yay for the start of a new FULL season of TV!!! :D