Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dollhouse: where does Joss Whedon belong?

So interestingly, I've never posted about Dollhouse. I'm a big Joss Whedon supporter (Buffy is still my favorite show of all time and I loved Firefly) but Dollhouse was a little different. I think the show got off to a bit of a rough start, with too many Echo's-mission-of-the-week type stories that kind of just showed Eliza Dushku's weaknesses as an actress and that sort of glazed over the whole concept of the dollhouse and imprinting and the moral and ethical kind of "stickiness" that made people uncomfortable. I also didn't find myself all that interested in Paul Ballard and his investigation and I found myself wondering where it was all going.

But because I had faith in Joss and his ability to develop characters and story, I stuck with it. Now that the series is over, I have to say that I'm really glad I did. For those of you who lost interest or fell behind, I highly recommend watching the rest of the series. And definitely, definitely watch the unaired first season finale ("Epitaph One") that's only available on DVD.

In a way, I think the cancellation was a good thing for the show. It was announced early enough that Joss and the writers could end the series in a way that would be satisfying for the audience and allowed them to do basically whatever they wanted (within the allotted number of episodes, that is). Any formula for the show was basically thrown out the window and it took on more of a miniseries type feel as the show started just going into overdrive. It felt a little like the last season of Battlestar Galactica as things just started being revealed left and right and things were getting twisted again and again. The series finale, "Epitaph Two", which aired this past Friday, finally meets up with the future that was revealed in the first season finale, "Epitaph One" and things are more or less resolved. I was satisfied.

What's kind of interesting about Dollhouse, a show about these blank "dolls" that can be imprinted with any personality, is that the characters and relationships among the characters were really the best part of the show. Adele, Boyd, Dr. Saunders, Topher...they were all very well drawn and developed over the course of the show. I was especially impressed with Topher's arc. I'd always liked him, but could see why others initially found him grating but somehow over the course of the series, he kind of became the series' ultimate tragic figure.

And of course the love story with Sierra and Victor (or Priya and Anthony) was so incredibly sweet and was almost the heart of the show. You just really wanted those two to end up together somehow. Also I have to give kudos to both Dichen Lachman (Sierra) and Enver Gjokaj (Victor) who were so incredibly versatile and convincing in the dozens of characters they had to play. (Enver was especially brilliant when Victor was given Topher's personality...he was so perfectly spot-on with the speech and mannerisms.)

So it's kind of hard to recap the entire series, and I don't really want to give too much away for those of you who still plan to watch, but I think this is one I'm going to remember. I am starting to wonder how Joss Whedon's ideas can best succeed though. He tends to come up with the kind of stuff that just can't get the ratings that network TV needs and wants, but that fans can become passionate about. I already kind of despair that TV has become overrun with all the CSIs and Law and Orders and NCIS' and I hate that it's hard for something different like Dollhouse to succeed. Perhaps Joss needs to take his stuff to cable?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

T^2: Sports ;-)

M: With a slew of big sporting events happening/coming up such as the Superbowl, Olympics, Australian Open, World Cup... What's your absolute favorite sporting event? (Can't cheat and pick one that encompasses many sports.)

My favorite has changed over the years (growing up I might've said NBA All-Star Game or women's figure skating in the Olympics or maybe even women's gymnastics in the Olympics) but I think at this point in my life, my favorite sporting event is opening weekend for the NFL. After 7 long months without any football, the beginning of football season and the potential of all that could happen is really exciting to me. Especially since I'm obsessed with Fantasy Football now. :) [I contemplated the NFL draft, too, because I love all the stories that go with the young'uns getting drafted. Actually all the background stories of athletes is one of the main reasons I loooooove the Olympics, too.]

I'm not much of a sports person and watch very few sporting events of my own accord. So I'd have to say my absolute favorite sporting event would be Olympic gymnastics. It's my favorite sport (to watch and to do) and of course the Olympics is the ultimate display. I wish I could watch more of other gymnastics competitions but television coverage tends to not be that great...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 3

J: Which shows have you given up on watching recently, and why?

Jennifer: I stopped watching Ugly Betty this season. There wasn't really any one thing or moment that made me stop, I just realized one week that I just wasn't enjoying the show very much anymore. The show has a lot of great characters, but somehow I just stopped caring about them, especially Betty, which is problematic since she's the main character. I've also stopped watching Scrubs (I tried a few episodes of the new incarnation but I think I'd really just rather leave it at last season's written-as-a-series-finale) and 24 (I didn't finish last season and I don't think I'll be bothering to start this season). Also this might not count but I also never really got enough into Flashforward and V and won't be watching when they return.

Mira: I gave up American Idol because I realized that I spent more time complaining about it than enjoying it. Except I cheated a little today and watched for 20 minutes to see Kristen Chenoworth (sp?). I've also unofficially given up 90210 and Melrose Place. The fake reason is because the shows are so stupid beyond description and I can spend my time watching better stuff. The real reason is because I fell behind and the episodes I missed aren't available on hulu/cwtv anymore. They're a very, very guilty pleasure but I'm sure with more time away from the shows I'll learn not to miss it anymore. (Kind of like when I gave up The OC.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

extremely early new show love

Life Unexpected has taken me by surprise. I guess I saw all the positive reviews for it and I recognized it was being compared to shows/movies I like such as Gilmore Girls, Juno, etc. Oh, and Everwood, which I didn't watch. But I still wasn't expecting much, and I was definitely proven wrong!

First episodes are tough with shows because there's so much to set up, but this was done beautifully and made me enjoy each and every scene in it. I was afraid that Shiri Appleby's character could be really annoying, but it turned out to be a perfect blend of screwed up and perfect. And the actress playing Lux (whose name I'm sure I will one day soon learn and remember) was way more likable than Rory Gilmore. :)

In any case, the show made me teary-eyed a few times and it made me laugh, too. So all in all, I'm looking forward to what should be a promising new show! :D Fortunately for Life Unexpected, it doesn't have to undergo too much scrutiny and comparison to Parenthood just yet since it's another 5 weeks before Parenthood starts. Though, premise of Parenthood may be more similar to Modern Family than Life Unexpected. For whatever reason, I've been lumping Parenthood and Life Unexpected together in my head. Okay, this is rambly. I'm going to bed. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

golden globes

Best Supporting Actress (Movie) - Hadn't seen ANY of the movies the nominees were in. But the second lady nominated for Up in the Air had a beautiful dress on!

Best Actress (TV series, Comedy/Musical) - Really wanted Lea Michele to win, but knew it was a long-shot. Instead, discovered that Toni Collette was Aussie?! Thought she was American this entire time. WOW!

Best Supporting Actor (TV Series) - Really wanted NPH to win, but once again, knew it probably wouldn't happen. Didn't know John Lithgow was in Dexter!

Best Animated Feature Film - I really wanna see all of these movies! Have only seen Up and not surprised it won. :) Yay!

(NPH presents! Yay!)
Best Actor (TV Series, Drama)
- Dexter is wiping the boards.

Best Actress (TV Series, Drama) - That's a lot of boob showing on Anna Paquin. Glad she didn't win. :) And extra glad Juliana won because I really like The Good Wife and she makes the show! (2nd jab at NBC/Jay/Conan fiasco.)

Best Actress (Movie, Comedy/Musical) - Woohoo! Odds were stacked in her favor, but I do believe there have been times when a person was nominated twice in one category and didn't win at all. I have yet to see Julie & Julia but I heard she was fantastic. So, yay!

Best Actor (TV Series, Comedy/Musical)
- Alec Baldwin and he's not here! Letdown.

Best TV Series (Drama) - Mad Men. We really need to get to watching this show! (Have it on DVD.)

Best Supporting Actress (TV Series) - Boo! a) I really don't like Chloe's dress. b) I really wanted Jane Lynch to win. Yeah, I'm Glee-biased, but Jane Lynch is really awesome.

Best Supporting Actor (Movie) - That reminds me, I really wanna see Invictus. Winner: Inglourious Bastards dude. According to my friend Jane, I really need to see IG, too.

Best Director (Movie) - Surprise, surprise. James Cameron. When you go into hiding for YEARS, then make a crazy big movie that's all blue and 3-d... :) J/K. But I'm not surprised.

Best TV Series (Comedy/Musical) - Ooh, I like these nominees as a whole. Whoa, Glee?!?! I was actually hoping for/expecting Modern Family this time.. LOL. Yay!

Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical) - Okay so I need to watch The Hangover, too. Quite surprising, even though there were murmurings of this happening.

Best Actress (Movie, Drama) - No surprises here either. I still need to see Blind Side, but I'm happy for Sandra Bullock! Ooh, she remembered to thank the Tuohy's this time. (She didn't at the People's Choice Awards.)

Best Actor (Movie, Comedy/Musical) - Haha, Sherlock Holmes = comedy? I guess it was funny. Oh, I was hoping that JGL would win for 500 Days, but RDJ was pretty awesome as Sherlock. And that's one of the few movies I have actually watched. :) I love RDJ's humor. Can't wait for Iron Man 2!

Best Actor (Movie, Drama) - I haven't seen any of these movies either. Good job, Jeff?

Best Motion Picture (Drama) - How about, whoever wins this, I'll add to my Netflix queue? Sigh, I guess it's Avatar to my queue. :) Well, it's a few months before it comes out on DVD anyway.

My favorite dress: Anna Kendrick (link)
Number of jabs at NBC/Jay Leno: III

Final words: I need to watch more movies this year! Sheesh. Awards shows for TV and movies are half boring when you haven't seen ANY of the movies nominated... Whoops.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

T^2: If you could be...

M: If you could pick a TV show & character whose life you would take (with all the good and bad storylines), whose TV show life would you choose? (Doesn't have to be a main character.)

Mira: After thinking long and hard about this question, and even contemplating changing the question to make it easier, I've decided I would want to be... Well, first here are some characters I considered:
  • Buffy from BtVS (too much dealing with yucky bad guys for my taste)
  • Rory Gilmore from GG (too annoying, plus her sleeping with Dean storyline still pisses me off); Joey Potter from DC (also annoyingly perfect and kinda boring)
  • Sydney from Alias (exciting and cool life but she woke up to Vaughn married to the annoying lady!)
  • Veronica Mars from VM (too much angst, if only she stayed with Logan...)
  • Casey from Greek or Lizzie McGuire from LM (this was tempting and fun-sounding, but kinda superficial)
  • Pam from The Office (just to be part of PB&J, but then she works with crazy people)
So I choose instead... Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. It's funny because I don't even watch this show (well, I'm a season and a half behind) but I really, really love Tina Fey and often think when watching her on this show or on anything else, "I want to grow up to be her." Except, I'm in my late 20's and I guess I'm maybe too old to grow up to be someone. ::sigh::

Jennifer: This is a tough question! It took me awhile to decide what about a character's life would make me want to take their life. Job/lifestyle? Boyfriend/husband/family? But then of course TV characters generally have quite a lot of drama/angst/trauma in their lives that I could probably do without...

In the end, though, I came up with two options that are maybe cop-outs because they're both in the sci-fi genre: Liz from Roswell and Jaye from Wonderfalls.

Ok yeah, Liz had a lot of ridiculous drama in her life but somehow I find the alien secret thing and becoming part alien(?!) to be pretty cool. And in the end she's with her soul mate (and if you want to count the post-season 3 book series ending, everything gets "reset" with everyone back in Roswell and the aliens no longer being "hunted").

As for Jaye, I think I more want to actually BE her rather than just take her life. I like her family, I like her one friend, I like her love interest, and I guess I kind of like her approach to life. As stated in one of the episodes, she's created this "stressless, expectation-free zone" around herself. Of course getting talked to by animal figurines and getting involved in all sorts of crazy hijinks is also kind of ridiculous but she kind of makes it seem fun...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jennifer's frustration-minimizing American Idol viewing strategy

I've expressed the many, many issues I have with American Idol multiple times. But as a self-professed TV/media/entertainment fan, it's a FORCE that's just hard to ignore. Of course, now that Simon Cowell is leaving the show, who knows what's going to happen? But last season I hit on a formula for keeping up with the show that requires a minimal amount of my time and frustration, so as season 9 begins, here's the plan:

1. Skip the audition rounds. It just takes up too much time and there's too much of the judges and Ryan Seacrest and well, cringing. Unlike on So You Think You Can Dance, where there are talented people that "aren't right for the show" that are worth watching, on Idol bad singing is just bad singing.
2. Once performance rounds start, either start watching late from DVR in order to fast forward through filler, bad performances, and judging; or better yet, just watch clips on the Internet the following morning of people/songs that interest me or that I read were good.
3. Skip the results show entirely. In my experience, there's absolutely nothing interesting that happens on them. Wikipedia gets updated with who gets eliminated pretty much instantly.
4. Watch Idolatry on This is actually my favorite part. It fills in the holes (from things missed during all the stuff I didn't watch above) and it's just hilarious. I love Michael Slezak and the editing is genius.

I actually thought last season was an improvement in terms of the actual contestants. Kris, Adam, and Allison were closer than ever to the kind of music I listen to in real life (though I doubt it'll ever really get there...) Will this trend continue?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 1

So in an effort to wake up this blog, Mira and I will be posing questions and answering them on Thursdays. Feel free to add to the discussion (or pose other questions) in the comments!

Which new/returning midseason shows are you looking forward to?

Jennifer - The new show I'm most looking forward to is Life Unexpected on the CW. It's been described as having an old-school WB feel, kind of along the lines of Gilmore Girls/Everwood rather than Gossip Girl/90210. It is slightly weird that Shiri Appleby is playing the mother of a teenager though...on Roswell she played a character a year younger than me! I'll also be checking out Caprica (the Battlestar Galactica prequel/spinoff) and Parenthood. Returning shows I'm looking forward to are Chuck, Greek, and Damages.

Mira - I'm on the Glee bandwagon. Though, I'd like to qualify that I saw the premier back in early summer when it first aired and was sorely disappointed to learn afterward that I had months to wait before I'd get to watch more! And now I'm stuck waiting yet a few more months before it comes back for the second half of its first season. ::sigh::

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Happy 2010! Here are some of my entertainment-related resolutions for this year:

1. Aim to blog at least once a week.
2. Stop watching trashy TV, e.g. The Bachelor, most things on MTV .
3. Catch up with Lost before the series finale (yes, I started watching it again, but more on that later. I just started season 5).
4. Catch up with Doctor Who (currently on season 4) and Torchwood (still on season 1, though I watched Children of Earth).
5. Make a better effort to attack my Netflix queue (currently nearing 300) and stop keeping discs over a month (waste of money).
6. Read more, especially books that I own but have never read/finished.
7. Go to at least 1 concert this year. Everyone makes stops in DC but I haven't been to any shows since I moved down here.