Sunday, February 28, 2010

a musical, a movie

I'll admit that I'm a little bit of a Broadway snob; I don't prefer to watch Broadway musicals off Broadway, especially not with a traveling cast. But I made an exception this one time for a few reasons: a-1) it's kind of hard for me to get up to NYC as often as I'd like, a-2) let alone make time for a Broadway musical while I'm up there!; b-1) I really wanted to see In the Heights, b-2) but didn't know any details on what it is about or anything (meaning, could it really hurt me NOT to see it on Broadway? Probably not!); c) the timing worked out; and d) I really wanted to see it!

So... why did I want to see it? It's a bit trivial-sounding, but the guy who wrote/composed and originally starred in it is Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Hunter alumn! He actually graduated a few years ahead of me, and I don't know that I remember him from my time in Hunter (though apparently he starred/was in most of the theater productions during those years), but I love hearing about successful HCHS alumni. Anyway, I'm really, really glad I got to see it in Baltimore. It reminded me of just how much I love going to see musicals, and I was unbelievably impressed with everything about In the Heights. The spoken word/rap by the main character, the colorful characters who represented real people so well, the way the storyline and characters were so seamlessly introduced and built upon, the elements of humor injected throughout, the gorgeous set... Everything! There was one thing that could make it better -- I really, really want to see it performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Haha, yeah, I know unlikely -- at least live. Fortunately a movie version is in the works with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his role as Usnavi, so perhaps one day I'll get my wish, kind of. :)

Now onto the movie. I'm not really sure why, but for whatever reason watching In the Heights got me thinking about the creative process behind composing/performing/writing. And somehow that lead me to think about a surprise movie I watched on TV in the past few months that I really, really enjoyed (and the more I think about it, the better I like it!): August Rush. I'm not sure why I didn't notice this movie existed when it was in theaters, but at some point randomly, I happened upon it on cable TV and watched it. In any case, the characters were so varied and fantastic (Keri Russell as the naive, young classical cellist completely controlled by her father; that guy who looks like Ewan McGregor as a wild, carefree rock musician; the kid who played Charlie in the Chocolate Factory movie as a poor orphan with incredible musical talents; Robin Williams as a crazed man who exploits homeless kids' talents for profit), the music drove the movie and it was fantastic, there was a couple and a family for me to root for (since I'm such a shipper), and there was a happy ending. My kind of movie! In any case, there was really no reason for this movie to pop into my head so randomly, but it did today, and now I really, really want to watch it again! Have I mentioned that I *really* like this movie? :)

Skins: Messy British teen life

My first impression of Skins wasn't entirely positive...I was kind of turned off by the large amounts of drugs, alcohol, sex, nudity, and just relatively consequence-free teen debauchery in the very first episode. But my general rule is to give a show at least 2 or 3 episodes before passing judgment on it and I discovered that there was something really fresh and different about the storytelling that completely reeled me in. Somehow I managed to let four seasons (or series, as they call it in the UK; there are 8-10 episodes per series) go by without posting about it again, so here goes my attempt to rewind and recap. A warning though, if you haven't watched the show and don't want to be spoiled, then stop here! I also mention some plot points from season 4 which hasn't started airing in the US on BBC America yet.

Skins' form of storytelling is that each episode focuses on just one character. The show is actually quite artsy--very indie-movie-like in its camera angles and music choices--and the tone and look of each episode depends on which character is being featured. Things have tended to lean towards the somber/dreary end of things because this is definitely a show that "goes there" with its issues but there have also been some great moments of lightness and humor amidst the messiness. There are ongoing plotlines, but seeing this world from the perspective of just one (or sometimes two) characters each week brings a new dimension to the idea of show being "character-driven."

Also, this is a kind of risky concept, but at the end of season 2 when the characters graduated from college (basically the 2 years of school right before university), the cast was almost completely turned over, and the show plans to do the same with the new generation of characters that was featured in seasons 3 and 4. Of course this leads to endless discussion of whether the first or second generation of characters and their episodes were "better" or whatever, but honestly I think that so far the writers have done an excellent job of creating a new group of very different characters.

The first generation was anchored by Tony, a master manipulator whose twisted schemes end up completely alienating his friends and, in a typical over-the-top Skins moment, gets hit by a bus in the first season finale. He suffers some mental damage and recovers over the course of the second season and semi-redeems himself. My favorite first generation characters was Cassie though. She's a very sweet and kind of spacey girl who has some issues with eating disorders and mental instability. She falls in love with Sid, Tony's best friend and sort of general sad sack, and they become one of my favorite couples of all time, despite some pretty terrible and annoying plot obstacles and out-of-character moments in the second season and somewhat frustrating open ending to their story. Sid actually dates Michelle, Tony's ex-girlfriend, who he's had a hopeless crush on for years, for a few episodes which I HATED.

But the funny thing about Skins is that even when the characters are doing things that you hate, the filming and music can be so beautiful that you can't help appreciate it. The scene where Sid and Michelle first get together was so incredibly gorgeous with the perfect background music (Untitled #3 by Sigur Ros). Another example of this is in the third season, the scene with Effy and Freddie in the lake. They're one of those annoying couples that say they're completely in love but I, as a viewer, am really hard-pressed to understand why, but that one scene was also gorgeous.

So I guess I jumped ahead to the second's more fresh in my memory anyway. Effy was actually in the first and second seasons as Tony's younger sister, and she was one of the few characters to stay in the show. She's definitely something of an enigma. In seasons 1 and 2, she was actually mute, choosing to express herself basically only in mysterious smiles, but showed that she can be even more crazy and manipulative than her older brother. When she returns in season 3, she's speaking now and has broken out as completely wild (you should see some of the outfits she gets away with) and utterly desirable by basically every guy she meets, including best friends, Cook and Freddie. The love triangle (or polygon...teen shows like this are always very incestuous) ended up kind of swallowing up the entire season, which I was not a fan of, because honestly both couples kind of suck. Cook is crass and rude and violent, and Freddie is a sanctimonious slacker. Freddie "wins" for now but I know the story's not over yet.

Anyway, outside of the evil love triangle, there are Katie and Emily, who are twins, which has always kind of fascinated me (I blame Sweet Valley High). Initially Katie is the dominant twin, dating a footballer and aiming to be popular at school, but Emily slowly begins to break out of her shadow. In one of the best storylines the show has produced, Emily falls in love with political and opinionated Naomi, who at first insists that she's straight but eventually falls in love right back. (Of course the writers manage to screw this up in season 4, like they feel the need to do with every relationship...) There's also Thomas, an African immigrant; Pandora, Effy's endearingly airheaded best friend; and JJ, a high-functioning autistic who's been best friends with Cook and Freddie since childhood.

The pattern the show seems to have developed is that the first season with a generation introduces the characters and sets up relationships, and then the second season basically just tears it all down and gets messy and depressing. With the first generation, Tony is brain damaged, Sid's father dies, Cassie spirals out of control and runs away, Jal gets pregnant, and Chris dies.

With the second generation, we're following a similar path in season 4. But one thing I've sort of liked is that the kids' actions are finally producing some real-world consequences. Sometimes I feel like the show sort of glosses over all the partying and trashing of houses and crashing of cars as just typical teen behavior, but in the first episode of season 4, Cook and Naomi are dealing drugs at a party and a girl from their school takes some and jumps to her death from a balcony in the club. Thomas is DJing the party and ends up getting kicked out of school and Cook, who confesses to selling the drugs to protect Naomi, is sent to prison.

The show is definitely far from perfect but I really admire and appreciate what they're trying to do with complex characters and controversial issues and there are some really transcendent moments of beautiful storytelling and film making. I also like that the writing staff is young and they hire mostly unknown actors that are playing their real ages. MTV is making an American version, possibly set in Baltimore, but I'm not sure how to feel about that. One of the British creators is involved so that makes me hopeful but I wonder how well it will translate. Plus MTV hasn't proven that it can do scripted programming. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

a book... or two.

I haven't had time to read at all -- my life's been crazy the past few weeks. Okay, that's a lie... There was a nice 1 week period this month when my life wasn't crazy. (During the crazy snowstorm. I didn't/couldn't go anywhere and I didn't do a single productive thing!) But in any case, for whatever reason, I still have been unable to make time to read anything. Well at least nothing worth blogging about. Truthfully, I haven't even been doing my reading for classes. ::sigh:: Haha, in any case, I have two books on my to-read list. Well, okay, I have a bajillion books on my to-read list. And another bajillion books on my shelf, bought and waiting to be read. But anyway, that's besides the point. I just picked up two books recently, off of recommendations from b-school professors (and because they were cheap on Amazon). Anyway, I almost never, ever read non-fiction books. Love fiction, hate non-fiction; that's how it's always been for me. We'll see if either of these two books change my opinion... Haha, I can't believe I'm reading recommended non-fiction business-related books... Makes me feel like a huge dork and unbelievably old. Especially given how much of my reading tends to revolve around children's literature normally.

So, here are the two books... We'll see what I think about them!
- Tough Choices, a memoir by Carly Fiorina
- Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School, by Philip Delves Broughton.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 8

J: In your opinion, what is the worst movie (or TV) adaptation of a book you've read? And on the flip side, which movie (or TV) adaptation did you think was actually better than the book?

Jennifer: I realize this is a pretty broad question but couldn't think of a good way to narrow it down, so interpret it however you like. My answer to the first part is possibly ridiculous because I'm going to pick young adult books that were made into TV movies. Obviously I shouldn't have had such high expectations of TV movies, but bad is bad. The first is A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors. All that needs to be said about that is that Mischa Barton played Vicky, the main character. Runner up is The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, a book with a totally ridiculous premise but was really engrossing and I thought written quite well. Another bad casting choice for the TV movie -- Kellie Martin. I actually don't mind Kellie Martin normally but I thought she was just so completely wrong for the role of Janie. These were so bad I've kind of blocked them from my memory so I can't even go into more detail of why I hated them!

As for adaptations that I thought were better than the book, I might as well keep with the teen genre and go with Gossip Girl and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The Gossip Girl book series was a phenomenon on its own but after reading the first few I realized that none of the characters were particularly likable. In my opinion, the TV series took the setting and the basic idea of the characters and went in a different and better direction. With the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I thought the books were fine although the writing was somewhat weak, but the movie was one of my favorites from that year. The movie didn't change much of the story at all but the casting was pretty darn near perfect with America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, and Blake Lively.

Mira: For worst adaptation, I'm going to go with The Golden Compass. It's too hard for me to go through adult books->movie/tv because those are easily displaced in my memory. Plus, it's hard for me to really remember how good those adult books might have been. But children's books I read over and over again. (I will comment that I was contemplating ALL of Nicholas Sparks' books to movies, minus The Notebook, which sadly I love. But on this hate list are: A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, and even though I haven't seen it I already hate Dear John. The only thing is... I can't really say his books are all that fantastic either... But at least two out of three of those movies, Walk/Nights, were excruciating for me to sit through.) Anyway, back to The Golden Compass. The reason this movie was so disappointing for me is because it has such great stuff to work with -- I thought that the actors and actresses picked for the movie were perfectly chosen, the special effects to create the world were beautifully thought out, and the storyline from the book quite fantastic, unique and interesting! But the movie itself just fell so short of what it could have been. It felt flat, it was just a nice story, and I was majorly disappointed in it. Overall it wasn't a terrible movie, and if it's on TV, I'm okay sitting through parts of it again, but... it just could have been so much better so for that... it sucks! :)

On the other end, I pick The Princess Diaries. It's similar to Jenn and Sisterhood (which I, too, LOVE!) in that the book(s) aren't terrible at all. In fact I really enjoyed some of the series. But it's very childish and Mia in the book is pretty one-dimensional in that she's a teenage girl who's just that, a teenage girl. Anne Hathaway does an excellent job adding depth to a character who actually comes off being much more mature in the movie than in the book. Julie Andrews as the grandmother brings to life a character that's just not that memorable to me from the book. Plus she plays royalty to the T! :) I love, love, love this movie. Also, this is a rare thing for me to say because I am a person who loves to re-read books (I've read most of my favorite books at least 5 times or more), but I'd much rather re-watch the movie than re-read the books in this case.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a song... or three.

So my musical tastes are very... mainstream. Well sort of. Mostly. But I go through phases with music I like to listen to. But right now, my current phase has me listening to a lot of American Top 100 pop music. I like to pretend that my musical tastes are way more sophisticated but really the bottom line is that they're not. Here are three songs that I hear on the radio *all the time* and that I seem to have very strong opinions about.

"Sexy Bitch" (radio version: "Sexy Chick") by David Guetta featuring Akon: I hate, hate, hate this song. I have no idea who this David Guetta dude is, by the way. But there are two reasons I really hate this song. First: the radio version totally cleans it up to "who's a sexy chitch," not "chick." Second: it gets stuck in my head for hours on end (especially because of the repetitiveness of "who's a sexy bitch") and drives me nuts. So needless to say, it's stupid, but I really cannot stand this song. And "chitch," what is UP with that?!?!

"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga: Anyone who knows me knows that I extremely unreasonably hate Lady Gaga. It's bothered me for some time because, well, I can't come up with a reason why I just hate her so much. It's not like her pop music is all that much better/worse than other dance-y pop music. But I hated "Poker Face," didn't like "Just Dance," haaaaated "Love Game" (um, hello, "I want to take a ride on your disco stick"?!), and wanted to hate "Paparazzi." Well, going on that track, I was inclined to hate "Bad Romance" as well. Somehow that didn't happen. I don't particularly like listening to "Bad Romance," but I begrudgingly was made to acknowledge the musicality of what Lady Gaga. Additionally, there's something kinda cool about her referencing Alfred Hitchcock in her verses, too. But really, this youtube clip is what made me realize that there is possibly more substance to her music (as least this time) than just crazy theatrics and singing weird lyrics.

"Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus: I will never cease to be a teenybopper. I loved Britney, I loved Backstreet Boys, I liked 'N Sync, and... I like Miley Cyrus. I don't know why. And I can't even defend this musical like, but I really enjoy "Party in the U.S.A." It's sad, huh? I think it is. But it makes me happy.

So obviously I have no musical high ground to hate/love certain artists/songs to stand on, but... These are just my random, recent musical observations. :) I may be exiting my pop station phase soon, though. "Sexy Chick" is getting way too much airtime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

T^2: Who is...

M: Who is your most hated fictional character? And on a similar (but different) note, who is your favorite fictional character to hate?

Mira: For whatever reason, it's easier to think of favorite character to hate... Anyway, I pick Rebecca Logan from Greek. I love Greek, first of all, and secondly, they've developed her into this fun character that's got lots of layers, but not necessarily easy to like. Similar to Paris from Gilmore Girls. But Paris was just socially awkward because she was the stereotypical uber-nerd, but Rebecca isn't like that at all. Instead she's this weird mix of extremely spoiled, and really smart in terms of understanding how life functions, but insecure in unexpected ways and emotionally stunted, too. If that makes any sense in a package. I love what her character adds to the show, both her good and evil sides!

Now to the most hated character... it's tempting to say Amy from Little Women (movie version, I've never read the book)... Or Bingley's sister from Pride & Prejudice (book and all tv/movie adaptations)... Or Dan from One Tree Hill (the father, he's utterly worthless as a human being character. So evil!)... Or April in Gilmore Girls (I blame HER for Luke & Loralie not getting married, but I guess the kid wasn't terrible.)... But instead I'll choose... AHA! I got it! It's actually a character in a Korean drama called All About Eve (Heo Young-mi). She's supposed to play the antagonist, but let me tell you, she was sooooooo evil. What pisses me off the most about her?? She didn't get what she deserved at the end. UGH! I hated her! The drama itself I really, really enjoyed but have been unable to watch again because of the evil girl. Even thinking about her makes me really mad!

Jennifer: I guess I'm the's much easier for me to think of characters I just plain hate. The first one that comes to mind is Joey Potter from Dawson's Creek. I hated her so much that the hate has transferred over to Katie Holmes, who of course is not helped by being married to Tom Cruise (ick). But I think the character I've most hated is actually Sylar from Heroes. Now I quit watching Heroes during the third season so I have no clue how what he's like now but I just could not tolerate him. He was a stupid villain and every time he was on screen I wanted him to get killed off.

That kind of brings me to the love to hate category. I think that in a way, all the best villains should be in this category. They're evil but you love reading about/watching them because they're complex and compelling. One complication is that a lot of love-to-hate characters end up being sort of redeemed in the end, like Spike on Buffy and Snape in Harry Potter. I didn't really want to pick one of those types so my pick is Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-files. It's been awhile so truthfully I don't remember how his arc ended but he was so evil and mysterious throughout the series. Runner up: Regina from Mean Girls. Heinous but so fun to watch!

Friday, February 12, 2010

5 Years of we like TV!

Can you believe it? It's been exactly 5 years since our very first post here at we like TV. And this is our 555th post! (If you were wondering why our blog output skyrocketed this week, it's because we were trying to get to that number.)

Mira and I had been friends since childhood and have always been very into books and TV and movies and talking about them so we started this blog back in 2005 as way to share our thoughts with each other. There have been some dry spells here and there, but amazingly 5 years later we're still at it!

We haven't actually gained much of a readership at all but I don't know that we were ever really doing it for popularity. For me it's just been a fun way to record of what my tastes and opinions have been over the years and the only place I get to do any writing. As a kid I actually wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but obviously that has not happened so it's nice to have an outlet for that side of myself.

So, living up to the name of the blog, most of our posts have been about TV. The top shows we've posted about are:
  1. Top Chef (36). I think there were a few stretches where I posted on it every week! Obviously reveals the foodie side of me.
  2. Gilmore Girls (27). Towards the end we had more of a love/hate relationship with this show (mostly hate when it came to Rory) but man were we invested in it...
  3. So You Think You Can Dance (24). Yeah, we're obsessed.
  4. Veronica Mars (24). Logan was hot.
  5. Friday Night Lights (24). Me watching a football show?!?
  6. Project Runway (22). Unlike with Top Chef, I'm actually not even interested in fashion in real life. But who doesn't love Tim Gunn?
And here are some of my favorite posts:
  1. Favorite "ships" - In which I list many of the TV couples I've "shipped" over the years.
  2. The problem with Lost - In which I vent my frustration with Lost. All my points are pretty much voided now but I'm amused by how fired up about it I was.
  3. So bad they're good: my favorite guilty pleasure movies - In which I list those movies that are "bad" but that I love anyway.
  4. Remembering Madeleine L'Engle - In which I fondly remember one of my favorite authors.
  5. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - In which I get angry at Twilight and suggest that Edward should have died at the end of the series (I know, blasphemy!)
  6. Harry Potter and the End of an Era - In which I sum up the last Harry Potter book and the series as a whole.
  7. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld - In which I discuss one of the stranger reading experiences of my life.
  8. Rewatching My So-Called Life - In which I relive the seminal 90s series on DVD.
  9. North and South - Mr. Darcy watch out! - In which I finally get over Colin Firth and my Anglomania starts kicking into high gear.
  10. My Favorite Songs of the 2000s - In which I list my 38 (I know, random) favorite songs of the decade, much of which is possibly unrecognizable unless you're also an indie music snob
You know, the past 5 years have brought a lot of change to how we all consume media. We now have DVRs, Hulu, iPods, e-readers, smartphones, 3-D movies...and anyone and everyone is sharing their opinions about it all on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I know we like TV is just another blip in the massive amount of chatter out there but I'm really glad we've stuck with it. Thanks to everyone who's dropped by our little corner of the web!

a book, a movie, a song...

It's funny. In creating this blog we decided it'd be a way for us to do what we did in conversation anyway -- talk about TV, books, movies, and music. However, I've noticed that our blog has become primarily TV-focused. I think there are multiple reasons for that: keeping up with TV can take up a lot of your "free" time (especially given the number of shows Jenn and I each follow!); TV is a constant life companion whereas books/movies are not (meaning there's always so much TV going on, whereas you really need to make time for books/movies. Plus, it's easy to write about something on TV at any given point in time, but books/movies probably should be blogged about soon afterward); music-wise, I tend to get nostalgic as opposed to move forward in my tastes (though Jenn does tend to extensively find new music); and I'm sure there are more excuses why I mostly blog only about TV. (Jenn points out that the blog is called "we like TV" with the rest in subtext, but I kinda think that we chose that as the title in creating the blog because it sounded catchier. But really, who knows? I certainly don't remember those details!)

In any case, as we embark upon our 5th year of existence on this blog (more on that later from Jenn!), I'm going to make a much more concerted effort to blog about the other things in addition to TV. It is my goal henceforth to blog about a movie, a book and a song monthly. :) And as you noticed, we're growing our blog a little, too, and inviting some of our esteemed readers to have "guest blogging" privileges. (Welcome, Burkie!) Looking forward to more of that as well!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Talk: Week 6!

J: I totally forgot about this last week! I even had a question in mind and everything but Thursday came along and it just slipped my mind. So here it is this week instead: Which reality show would you want to be on?

Jennifer: To clarify, I have absolutely no desire to be on TV and would never in a million years actually apply to be on any reality show so this is more a hypothetical, as in which reality show I would want to be on if it, you know, wasn't being filmed and broadcast on television. The easy answer for me would be the The Amazing Race. I love traveling and it looks so fun and exciting (though really tiring and some tasks look positively miserable). But the other show I think I would want to be on is Made on MTV. I'm too old now but during high school or college I think I would have loved the chance to be "made" into something that I so wasn't, like an athlete or performer of some kind or a girly girl. Of course this show usually involves a fair amount of pain, crying, embarrassment, or all of the above, but the kids almost always seem to feel better about themselves in the end. Though I guess that could be the editing...

Mira: It's funny, my other friend Jennifer also is obsessed with getting on The Amazing Race. I love scavenger hunts and puzzles and traveling, but the physical challenges, the eating challenges -- definitely not anything I can do. I'm definitely too afraid of too many things! (Case and point, I didn't go bungee jumping, sky diving, or canyon swooping with Jenn and the others on our New Zealand trip last year.) But this question definitely stumped me. My favorite reality TV show hands down is So You Think You Can Dance, but I wouldn't want to be on it! So anyway, this is the show I picked: Project Runway. I know it's kinda ridiculously ridiculous (yep, I just said that) because I have never sewn an article of clothing, nor have I ever fantasy designed anything, but in my head I could learn to and love to do those things. And I definitely think I'd be able to represent a point of view that is both accessible and wanted by the everyday viewer as well as unique and not commonly found in everyday fashions. In my head. :) Plus I love the idea of unique challenges that make you seriously think outside of your box, and I love making stuff, or the idea of making stuff.

A Blizzard, a Guestblogger, and a Movie Called Adam

gavin cardigan walked into jenn & mira's blog and said, "whoah! i don't think we're in Poor Yorick's Pub anymore!"

"go back to the Pub, gavin. i've got this one covered," burkie waved off his protagonist.

yep, burkie's in the hizzy! i , like mira & jenn, have been stuck in the hizzy for days waiting out 2 blizzards. yesterday was the one day i could get out, so i went to blockbuster® and picked up a bunch of movies. mira suggested this would be a good opportunity for me to guestblog.

so here i am. i watched Adam tonight. mira is the one who told me about this movie, which is a love story about a girl who meets a boy who has Asperger's syndrome. that's a formula that immediately sounds like, well, a formula. i think the writer/director (Max Mayer) did very good job of not falling into that trap. this is not a Lifetime movie of the week (not that there's anything wrong with that!), and it's not a gimmick movie. it's a movie about two people in a relationship and how they have to learn to manage that relationship with all that both parties bring to the table. it just so happens that one of them brings Asperger's to the table.

the performances were good. i'm not familiar with either of the leads (hugh dancy & rose byrne), but they were both charming and compassionate in their roles. too much so, of course, but this is hollywood after all (yes, even indie films are considered hollywood). i'm no expert on Asperger's. i have known a few people with Asperger's and i've read mark haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. i would think that those who have Asperger's or who have loved ones with Asperger's would be favorably disposed toward this film. you get to see adam's idiosyncrocies, his gifts, his struggles to manage social situations, his failures & successes, and his humanity. you really get to know adam himself rather than a person with Asperger's.

as for beth (rose byrne's character), she's an alarmingly pretty school teacher and aspiring children's book author, rebounding from a failed relationship with some pond-scum guy, and has just moved into adam's building. she is also dealing with some family drama (parents played by amy irving & peter gallagher). she meets adam while doing laundry and finds him "sweet and interesting." and while her character is probably a little be true, you can't help but like her.

as the relationship progresses, there are ups and downs, humor and anger, compassion and misunderstandings. the audience is being groomed for a desired outcome, but whether they get it in the end, well, you'll have to watch the movie yourself to get that answer. i will say that the movie did a good job of stirring my emotions at several points, but i was surprised that i never actually, um, suffered an allergy attack. i was expecting it and, when the movie ended and i never had such an attack, i felt almost cheated. i watched the alternate ending and the deleted scenes to see if an of them would trigger an attack. pretty pathetic, huh? still didn't work. overall, a good, sweet, and compassionate film and is certainly worth watching.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caprica: A Different World

Although I suppose one can watch and enjoy Caprica without having seen Battlestar Galactica, the series Caprica is a prequel to, it might kind of hard for me to not reference BSG in this post. So be warned as you read ahead.

I've heard BSG described as a "space opera" and I always kind of wondered about that description. I've watched my share of daytime and nighttime soaps and BSG, especially considering its military and political themes, didn't really have too much in common with those entities.

But Caprica? I think Caprica would definitely fall into some kind of soap category. The show revolves around two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (yes, Admiral Adama is here but is still a kid), and there are big corporations, mobsters, teenagers, cults...classic soap opera elements. The difference here is that Caprica is set in a very different but at the same time very familiar world. You could probably call it futuristic, as there are robots and artificial intelligence and computers that look like a sheet of paper*, but there's no indication of how or even if this world is related to our time or Earth at all (although BSG fans know where this is all going...)

*Is this what we're moving towards with the iPad??

And I've really been enjoying discovering the little ways Caprica is similar or different from our own world. For one, this is a polytheistic society, where those who believe in one God are considered terrorists. Homosexuality and group marriages appear to not be a big deal, but racism is still very prevalent. (There are "Twelve Worlds" and each planet seems to have one ethnicity?) The most popular sport is called Pyramid, which is some kind of ball game. Oh and the Graystones have this funny little servant-robot named Serge who totally cracks me up; it's very Jetsons.

Anyway, the show kicks off with a train bombing that kills two teenage girls, Zoe Graystone, and Tamara Adama. Zoe is the daughter of Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), the briliant and wealthy head of a technology corporation, who is a computer genius herself and member of a monotheistic cult. Tamara Adama is the daughter of Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), a lawyer who is part of the Tauron ethnic group and has connections to a Tauron crime organization through his brother, Sam. Joseph's wife is also killed in the blast. These two men initially connect because of their family tragedies but quickly become enemies.

Here's where more of the science fiction stuff comes in. Before her death, Zoe had been working on an "avatar" of herself that exists in a virtual reality type world accessed with "holobands" that were pioneered by her father's company. We don't know all the details of her plans for this avatar, but after her death, Avatar-Zoe continues to exist. Daniel learns about the avatar from Lacy, one of Zoe's friends, and "downloads" this avatar into one of his 6-foot robots intended for military use. Daniel thinks that this failed and that the avatar is lost, but Avatar-Zoe is now stuck. She's the first Cylon!

So yes, Caprica is a very different show from BSG but so far I'm very much enjoying it. It's too early to tell if it'll have the same kind of critical acclaim or pop culture resonance that BSG had (well, in the geek world anyway) but I'll definitely be sticking with it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

snowed in tv

As you may or may not know, Jenn and I are snowed in this week. Okay, I'm snowed in and not working, Jenn's snowed in and still going to work. And actually, being that we have all of two readers, my friend Burkie and Jenn's brother Kevin, you probably already knew all that. But whatever. Anyway, bottom line is, I've had a lot of time at home with little to do except avoid homework and watch TV. And I've watched a lot of TV. Additionally, we've been really good with the DVR lately at my house, so I haven't had DVR stuff to catch up on. So I've been watching a lot of random, crappy TV. Actually, in my case, for whatever reason I prefer to watch movies rather than TV shows... So here's what I've watched while being snowed in (Note: this is all on TV, not from my DVD collection):

The Princess Diaries
(and I own this on DVD!)
Bring it On Again (Yes, AGAIN meaning the sequel.)
Hanging Up
27 Dresses
Moulin Rouge
(I own this on DVD, too.)
And whenever I can't find anything to watch, whatever is playing on Lifetime Movie Network...hanging my head in shame, but you gotta admit, given that list of movies... not too surprising!

So question for our 2 readers (or anyone else, feel free to chime in!), what channel do YOU turn to when you're bored?

Monday Madness

Shows I watch that air on Mondays:
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Chuck (NBC)
Gossip Girl (CW, currently on hiatus)
Life Unexpected (CW)
Make it or Break it (ABC Family)
Greek (ABC Family)
Castle (ABC)
Damages (FX)

Shows I watch that air on Tuesdays:

What the heck??

hospital shows that i still watch...

Grey's Anatomy: I think this show has only gotten better with them losing George and Izzie (okay, so Heigl is only temporary gone) and gain Owen and Teddy! Plus I love that MerDer are no longer the tortured couple but fully functional and married on a post-it note. No big hoopla over marriage but completely comfortably accepted. I also love that they're developing the relationship between Meredith and the Chief, more and hence developing his character much more. And Bailey has romance storylines in the works! The Christina-Owen-Teddy love triangle could be really annoying but they've made it work. I think it works because nothing is kept as a secret and festering -- all 3 characters are pretty blunt characters and when something is discovered it comes out before the end of the episode. I appreciate that, A LOT. Ooh, and the last thing I do like is Arizona (who is one of my faaaaaavorite characters) taking Alex under her wings to do pediatric surgery. I've always loved the tidbits they've shown of Alex working with children/babies and so this is so fitting! All in all, there's not a storyline that bothers me this season. (Especially because the Mercy West-Seattle Grace merger isn't a main part of the storyline. Oh, and especially because Sloane's daughter Sloane has been gone for the last 2 episodes. That helps, too.)

Private Practice: This show sucks me in because of the complex relationships between all the characters. I don't particularly care about any of the storylines, especially not the Mia (Naomi-Sam's daughter) being preggers or Cooper-Charlotte fighting or Sam-Addison being attracted to each other. In fact, I really don't like a lot of these storylines! But, I love the dynamics between the characters and I love the characters. And I love the little episode-long storylines. For instance last week, a family had to choose one twin daughter to save with a needed blood transfusion (or something, I don't remember the exact procedure). Or Dale dealing with almost losing his daughter because her drug addict mother was making meth in the kitchen and the house exploded. Or -- ooh! Addison finding out that her cheating father wasn't the cheater, her lesbian mother was! And these are things I enjoy about the show that I don't feel guilty about enjoying the way I do when I enjoy watching 90210, or Melrose Place, or Gossip Girl. (BTW, I did force myself to drop 2 out of 3 of those shows.) To sum it up, I still love sexy doctor shows.

Unfortunately I dropped House sometime late last season. I heart House but I just lost interest in some of the full season storylines and pretty much all the side characters. Oh, and Wilson was getting annoying to me, too. So basically House and Cuddy weren't enough to keep me devoted.

Chuck: possibly unpopular opinions

After last season's finale, I was a little worried about Chuck. While giving Chuck the enhanced Intersect complete with physical abilities was a fun surprise, I didn't necessarily want to see him become Mr. Super Spy.

So I was relieved to see things kind of "reset" at the beginning of this season with him and Sarah and Casey in almost the same roles and cover stories (except for the Chuck/Sarah breakup, but I'll get more into that later). Chuck is still pretty much that same bumbling guy before the flashes kick in but at the same time, it's nice to see him learning and growing as a spy. I also really like that Awesome is in on the secret and thought that the episodes with him getting mixed up in Chuck's missions were some of the most fun of the series. And of course Casey is still in fine form--Adam Baldwin never fails to make me crack up. I loved the episode where he was Morgan's "enforcer" at the Buy More.

So speaking of the Buy More...I'm going to reveal a few possibly unpopular opinions I have about the show. The first is that, truthfully, I could do without Jeff and Lester and all their Buy More subplots. I know plenty of fans love Jeffster and I understand their purpose in the show being about Chuck balancing his normal and spy lives, but I just don't find their pathetic-ness to be all that entertaining. A small dose here and there I can handle, but I'm kind of glad we're not seeing them every single week. (I am a little sad that Anna Wu had to be excised from the cast though...)

My second unpopular opinion is that I'm not really a Chuck/Sarah shipper. I myself find this to be surprising because I generally ship even minor secondary couples but really, it doesn't make a difference to me whether Chuck and Sarah are together or not. Evidently last night's episode caused an uproar with some fans because they don't like that both Chuck and Sarah now have new love interests, but I wasn't bothered. I like both Hannah and Shaw--the two new pairings are pretty perfectly matched and the chemistry is there. And I mean, really, Chuck/Sarah is something that's not ever going to go away, and as I've read stated elsewhere, I don't imagine that Kristin Kreuk and Brandon Routh are about to become regulars in the cast anyway.

That kind of brings me to my third unpopular opinion: I'm not sure I even really like Sarah. I mean, there's nothing I find annoying about her (like I do with lots of other female characters), it's clear that she has a good heart and is basically all around kickass, but I guess I just find her a little hard to relate to. Don't get me wrong, I think Yvonne Strahovski is doing a fantastic job but for some reason Sarah's just not one of my favorites.

But overall, I really have to say how happy I am that NBC renewed the show for this season. And with the whole Leno-Conan fiasco, I think they're going to need to keep pretty much all the programming they have so hopefully it'll be safe for next season also!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Masterpiece Classic: Emma

I say this as a Janeite but sometimes I wonder, there have to be other novels out there worth adapting into movies/miniseries instead of always coming back to Jane Austen. I found the timing of this adaptation to be a little strange too because just 2 years ago Masterpiece had "The Complete Jane Austen" with new adaptations of 4 of the 6 novels (see my reviews of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park) but not Emma.

I mean, I'm not really complaining, Austen is Austen, and I actually really enjoyed this new version. I thought Romola Garai was a very good Emma--I liked her much more than both Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale. She had just the right combination of clever and spoiled but also good intentioned. Jonny Lee Miller was surprisingly wonderful as Mr. Knightley. Even though I've loved him in other things, I wasn't sure if he would be right for the part but I'm glad he proved me wrong. I loved the scene where Emma and Mr. Knightley dance. Great acting, because not a word was said! Michael Gambon as Emma's father didn't have much to do but was a nice presence and I was happy to see Jodhi May as Mrs. Weston. She's a regular in these period dramas and is always excellent.

One funny thing to note was that there were two former Edmund Bertrams (Mansfield Park) in the cast. Jonny Lee Miller played him in the 1999 film version, and Blake Ritson (Mr. Elton here) played him in the awful Billie Piper version from 2008.

Other than that I don't know that there's really much else to say about this. The production values on Masterpiece productions are always great, and I appreciated the length of the series (split into 4 episodes in the UK, 3 parts in the US) but it got me thinking that my favorite adaptation of Emma is actually...Clueless. I know, that movie is 15 years old now and I'm not discovering anything new but the more I think about it, the more I realize how inspired the way they moved the story to a 90s high school was. The sister's husband's brother becomes the ex-stepbrother, the secretly engaged suitor becomes the gay boyfriend, the farmer becomes the skateboarding slacker...even the title of the movie is perfect!

Anyway, Masterpiece is re-airing Northanger Abbey and Persuasion over the next two weeks, but after that there look to be some interesting programs coming up, including one co-starring Padma Lakshmi (of Top Chef, how random) and an Anne Frank adaptation. Lots to look forward to!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Snowy weekend viewing

Snowed in for Snowmaggedon here in the DC/Baltimore area, I spent the weekend catching on some of my "second tier" shows -- shows that I like and enjoy but don't necessarily watch on a week-to-week basis. Every once in awhile they pile up on my DVR or they start expiring on so I have to clean house.

Castle: I know my first review of this show was lukewarm but against all odds it's started to grow on me. Over the summer I mused on why I like British mystery shows but not American ones and it seems that I just had to find the right formula and I think Castle has it.

A big part of it is definitely Nathan Fillion, who I really love and who fits perfectly into the role of Rick Castle. I think the show does a nice job balancing his family life (his mother is a hoot and Alexis is one of the sweetest, least annoying teenagers on television) with the murder-of-the-week. I like the second-banana detectives, Esposito and Ryan, who have this funny sort of buddy-cop thing going, and Beckett has probably grown on me the most. She and Castle are of the classic will-they-won't-they dynamic but I'm not in any hurry to see them get together. The murders can get kind of quirky and outlandish, but somehow with the premise that Castle is a mystery writer, i find it all easier to swallow.

Bones: I know, another procedural? I've been lying all this time when I said I couldn't watch them! But actually I've been a fan of Bones for awhile. Again, it's murder mysteries, and while I guess the science-y stuff kind of appeals to me, it's really the characters that drive this show, not the mysteries. They actually have kind of a meta joke about it, with Edison, one of the rotating interns, always getting uncomfortable with the team being so open about their personal lives at work. But that's really the fun part. Cam and Angela and Hodgins and Sweets are all really fun and while I hated how Zack got written out of the show, I actually do really like all the rotating interns and how we're getting bits and pieces of their personal lives too (Wendell's my favorite though...because he's cute and I'm shallow).

Again though, we have a will-they-won't-they partnership at the center of the show with Brennan and Booth. As the show has gone on, you can see how the partnership has changed both their characters. They obviously have feelings for each other but who knows how long they're going to stretch out the sexual tension (hey, they did it for almost 10 years with Mulder and Scully on The X-files). It's funny though, my all-time favorite TV show is Buffy and David Boreanaz should be Angel in my head, but actually I think Booth is a much better role for him. He gets to be a bit more humorous, which he's actually pretty good at.

The Vampire Diaries: At first I didn't really like this. I'm kind of wary of all this new-wave vampire stuff (I obviously have issues with Twilight and True Blood is too gory for me), I was predisposed to not like Elena because Nina Dobrev annoyed the heck out of me on Degrassi and I thought the first two episodes were kind of boring. But my brother of all people told me that he was actually really liking it so I decided to give it another shot, and he was right. It's a pretty interesting little show. Yes, there's a doomed vampire-human romance at the center of it (Elena/Stefan), but it's not nearly as annoying as Bella/Edward, mostly because, to my surprise, Elena's kind of level-headed. Also, Damon, Stefan's brother, also a vampire, is the ambiguously evil foil to Stefan (the "good" vampire) that kind of keeps the audience guessing.

The side characters have also been improving. I could probably do without Caroline, one of Elena's friends, who was caught up in some gross stuff with Damon and now is dating Matt, Elena's ex-boyfriend, and Jenna, Elena's aunt, who just seems to be a a ditz who gets attracted to ALL the wrong guys in town. But Bonnie, Elena's best friend, comes from a line of witches, which is cool, and I've liked Jeremy (Elena's younger brother) and his arc, especially with Vicki dead.

The history/folklore angle is also kind of interesting. The town they live in, Mystic Falls, has a history of vampires and the townspeople knowing about it and fighting back. Elena herself is a look-alike of a vampire that Stefan and Damon knew (and fell in love with) in the 1860s when they were both "turned." The period flashbacks are kind of cheesy but the actors are obviously have fun with it.

Oh, and Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley are really pretty. I'll take them over Robert Pattinson any day!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

T^2: ????

Dunno where Jenn is and it's her turn to come up with a question but since she's not around and there's no question waiting for me to answer... Here's an impromptu Thursday Talk question. Hopefully she'll get a chance to post her answer soon!

M: With the impending snowstorm -- if you were stuck at home with only one movie to watch over and over again, what would it be? (IOW, what movie can you watch over and over again and not get sick of. I guess trilogies allowed.)

M: Sliding Doors. I truly think I could watch it over and over again. There are other movies I considered, but bottom line, I need it to be a happy (and emotionally satisfying) movie/ending without a single cheesy/corny/cringe-worthy scene in it. And happy movies are very often accompanied with at least one cringe-worthy scene. So Sliding Doors. Plus, I love Scottish accents! (The guy is Scottish, right?)

J: Yikes, sorry I dropped the ball this week. Thanks for taking over, Mira! I think my answer would be Little Women with Winona Ryder. It's kind of a strange answer because I don't know that I'd actually list it as one of my all-time favorite movies but I find it really comforting to watch. It kind of takes me through a whole range of emotions, with moments that make me laugh, cry, yell at the screen...I've already watched it countless times and honestly, writing this is kind of making me want to watch it again!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

10 nominees???

Oscar nominations were announced today. TEN Best Picture nominees. That's not normal, right? So weird. It's going to mean that "Nominated for an Oscar Best Picture" means absolutely nothing! (Okay, so maybe it already means little. But now it'll mean less!)

Full List of Nominees