Thursday, April 29, 2010

T^2: Theme Song!

M: Favorite theme song for a tv show? Favorite song from a movie?

I pose the question and then I stump myself. Then I thought about it for a few minutes and realized -- EASY! My favorite tv show theme song is hands down the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." (Link isn't quite the original.) It makes me sad that there are so rarely (if at all?) theme songs made for shows today. But how awesome was this song? Now here's the story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down... (Apparently this was my favorite in 2005, too. Read below.)

For movie songs, this is where I think mostly about how a song ties in with the scene of a movie. There are two songs that every time I hear them I flash back to that exact scene in a movie -- "Don't You Forget About Me," from Breakfast Club and "Like a Prayer" from Never Been Kissed. I'd also like to give an honorable mention to Dragonheart and its closing theme. I've never seen the movie but it's a fantastic score! Fantastic!

Jennifer: I actually wrote a post about this back in 2005. Unfortunately theme songs and even opening credits in general have been on the downslide since then so I don't have too much to add. I was really fond of the theme song from Wonderfalls, though, "I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls."

As for song from a movie, I really love the Gary Jules version of "Mad World" from Donnie Darko (which Adam Lambert covered on last year's American Idol) and "Falling Slowly" from Once (which Kris Allen, American Idol was SO much better last year). I also really like the theme from Requiem for a Dream (which seems to have become popular with male figure skaters trying to be "masculine") and "Clubbed to Death" from The Matrix. And of course there's always "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lost or: How I Learned to Stop Griping and Just Enjoy the Ride

This post is possibly not going to really be of interest to anyone, because at this point, there probably aren't very many people who need to be convinced that Lost is in fact worth watching, but my journey with the show has been maybe a little different from other fans so I thought I'd at least record some of my thoughts.

I started out loving the show. As a TV fan who loves serialized dramas, how could I not? Throw in a little mystery and science fiction and I was hooked. But I started getting frustrated with the show pretty early on. By the end of the first season I was getting annoyed with how slow the show was moving and by the second season I was writing a full-fledged rant about it.

My main issue was that I didn't see how the kind of story Lost was telling was going to work with the indefinite endpoint of a traditional network TV series. I didn't like the idea that the writers were just going to throw in more and more confusion and misdirection in an effort to keep the show going. Also, one of the things I especially hated was that with all this confounding stuff going on, instead of being given answers the viewers would just get subjected to even more flashbacks of say, Jack's daddy issues. I mean, I'm all for character development but there's a point where plot and well, common sense, start to get sacrificed. One scene in particular that I remember exemplifying this was from the season 3 premiere, in which Jack was captured by the Others and being kept in that underwater station with Juliet. Juliet comes to Jack with a file that has all these documents about his life. Instead of asking how and why she has this information, instead Jack asks if his ex-wife is happy?? Seriously?

Soon after this I stopped watching the show. There were just too many characters I didn't like (including random and infuriating new ones like Nikki and Paulo, who the writers later tried to appease the audience by "comically" killing them off) and I was finding the show to just be a chore to watch. But then the producers did something I never expected: they agreed with me, and set an end date for the show!

Now, this didn't bring me back immediately. It turned out that I wasn't the only one who hated the first part of season 3 and people seemed to mostly agree that the show was just getting better and better but it still took me over two years to decide to start watching the show again. I think part of me didn't want to get sucked in again only to have things go bad again, so I waited until last fall, just before the final season was set to start airing. I just finished season 5 yesterday and may or may not catch up in time for the series finale.

So I'm still quite a bit behind, but you know what? I'm not really worried about the show disappointing me anymore. As soon as the producers set the end date, things started to happen. Starting with the season 3 finale, they mostly stopped with the angsty flashbacks and started doing the much more plot-driving flash-forwards. By the end of season 4, the present and future timelines had converged. Season 5 gave us some of the most fun episodes ever with the time-traveling, and now in season 6 we're onto a new construct: the alternate reality "flash-sideways."

That isn't to say things still aren't confusing. I watched seasons 3-5 in about a 6 month period and I still needed a lot of help from wikipedia in keeping track of what things happened and when they happened. I can't imagine how anyone remembered anything between seasons of the actual airing schedule. And there are plenty of things that still confuse me if I think too hard about them, like probably most things involving Locke and Ben and that big wheel thing and all the time travel stuff...

But you know, that's the funny part. Now that I KNOW that the show is ending and that the writers are going to at least endeavor to give us a satisfying ending, I'm no longer fixated on "getting answers" and I can actually enjoy the character moments. Jack and Kate are still annoying and their doomed romance just makes me twitch, but Sawyer has been awesome, Desmond and Penny are wonderful, Juliet has really grown on me, English-speaking Jin is a huge improvement, and I really like a lot of the newer characters like Miles and Faraday and Lapidus.

Actually, I think the reason that Sawyer, Juliet, Dan, Jin, and Miles became such favorites of mine is that the episodes where they're stuck in the 70s and join the Dharma Initiative were just so unexpected and as fun as a show like Lost can be. I just love that even though they were the ones "left behind" they're the ones that actually make lives for themselves for three years, unlike the Oceanic 6, who were either torturing themselves or being harassed by Ben or Jack or whoever. I remember reading a spoiler a long time ago that Sawyer and Juliet fall in love and thought that was totally illogical but actually watching the episodes, it makes sense because Sawyer becomes a different guy. As LaFleur he's still as badass and snarky as ever but he's more settled down than he's ever been, and just so much more likable as a leader than Jack or Locke or Ben. Although, I guess, I kind of like Ben. I mean, I don't like him, but Michael Emerson has just done such a phenomenal job making that character complex and alternately sympathetic and loathsome.

Anyway, I've only watched the first two episodes of season 6 so I can't really comment on what's going on now that there are only four episodes left but I'm just enjoying the ride. No over-analysis here, no theorizing, no obsessing over little details. Maybe that's for some people, but not for me. The finale may or may not wrap up all the storylines, it may or may not make sense, but it'll be an ending, a PLANNED ending, which is more than a lot of TV shows get and really the only kind that a show like this should have.

See that? The entire point of this post was to validate that in my rant from over three years ago, I was right!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 16

J: What are some of your favorite non-fiction TV shows (i.e. news, talk, educational, how-to, etc. but not "reality" like Survivor or Real Housewives)?

Jennifer: I definitely have enough TV to watch with my scripted shows and reality competitions but if I'm bored and flipping through the channels, I'll tune into cooking shows on the Food Network (my favorite is Ina Garten but I'll watch nearly anyone besides Paula Deen, Sandra Lee, or Emeril) or America's Test Kitchen on PBS. I also like Mythbusters, What Not to Wear, and Dog Whisperer.

Mira: We watch a lot of Holmes on Homes, about a guy who goes and fixes all the bad jobs contractors do on people's homes. Russ recently got me to watch a few episodes of Life, but my favorite part of it are the last few minutes where they show all the crazy places the cameramen go to get the cool nature shots. Like drilling a hole through an iceberg and getting into freeeeezing cold water to get shots of the creatures underneath... Other than that, I prefer fiction and I prefer competition shows...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

T^2: Crushes

M: Who is your biggest fictional crush? Who is your biggest celebrity crush?

Mira: I pick Jim from The Office for my fictional character. I love him and Pam (I may have mentioned that a time or two on this blog). I don't watch the show but I love, love, love them so much! Enough that I sometimes wish I were Pam! So yes, I think that fully qualifies Jim as my biggest fictional crush. :)

For celebrity crush, I pick Michael Vartan. I loved him as Vaughn (the first few seasons) on Alias. I loved him as the school teacher in Never Been Kissed. I think he's extremely good looking but in a nice guy looking way. AND he's half French and fluent in it. But I say this with a 5-10 year younger than right now version of him in my head. I have no idea how he's aged and what he looks like now, nor do I know what he's doing or been in recently.

Jennifer: For fictional character, my pick is Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books. I was briefly tempted to say someone like Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) or Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) or John Thornton (North & South), but as Anne Shirley came to realize, you might think you're looking for those brooding, romantic heroes, but in the end what you really want is someone who belongs in your life. Gilbert is smart and practical and hard working but has a great sense of humor and can even be kind of snarky. I love love love Jonathan Crombie's portrayal in the Anne of Green Gables miniseries and the sequel. Gilbert is more of a lifelong, nostalgic kind of thing though, so my current fictional crush is Sawyer on Lost. I'm way behind, still in the middle of season 5 but I'm just really loving him right now. He's always been hot and witty and one of the only consistently likable characters on the show but I just watched the episodes where he's stuck in the 70s and he's just awesome.

As for celebrity? My celebrity crushes kind of turn over quickly because they're mostly actors and it depends on what roles they're playing. I guess some crushes that have lasted include Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Joshua Jackson, Jonny Lee Miller, James McAvoy, Richard Armitage, Christian Bale, Colin Firth? I can't really think of any one that trumps the others...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 14

J: The flip side of last week's question - which TV shows went on for too long?

I'm going to run the gamut with the CW (formerly known as the WB)...
1. One Tree Hill: I cannot believe this show is still on air. A good measurement for when a show needs to end is this -- if it's a show about high school kids, when they graduate high school; if it's a show about college kids, when they graduate college (thank you
Greek producers!); if it's a show about single people, when they all get married (ahem How I Met Your Mother)... Well One Tree Hill went through high school, jumped straight over college and now they're adults being weird and crazy and angsty just like when they were in high school? Okay, I truthfully am not in a place to truly judge -- I stopped watching before the graduated from high school... But here's where you know it REALLY needed to end -- the show is still going on without 2 out of 4 of the MAIN characters. Plus the mom of one of the characters started having an adult relationship (meaning completely legal) with one of the kids now turned adult.
2. Seventh Heaven: So I watched this show on and off for the first few years, back when all the Camden kids were kids. So a few years ago when I heard it was the series finale of the show (this was timed with the ending of the WB), I turned it on just for nostalgia. This series finale was beyond bizarro. Something strange like Lucy was preggerz with twins and so was Mary and so was Simon's girlfriend or something. Basically a LOT of babies were to come. Super duper corny, but hey!, at least it was over, right? Nope, WRONG. Over the summer the CW decided it wanted to pick it up again. So what was already a show that had aired too long became a show that was airing for even longer. So stupid!
3. Gilmore Girls: I know this was on my list last week, but as I said then, it was because I didn't get the full Luke-Loralie relationship that I wanted so badly. The real reason I didn't get this was because the show went on for TOO LONG. Seriously, Rory being a brat and sleeping with Dean and dropping out of college was unnecessary. Actually, all of Rory's college years were unnecessary (minus the occasional highlight of Paris-Doyle cuteness). Then April entering Luke's life; that, too, was unnecessary. Then Luke and Loralie breaking up because Luke wanted more time with April, more unnecessary. Then Loralie sleeping with Christopher in the 5 minutes she was broken up from Luke, even more unnecessary. THEN, Loralie eloping with Christopher, thus ending any hope for a Luke-Loralie relationship that season? UGH! EXTREMELY unnecessary.

1. 24: In the beginning part of me actually thought that 24 should start with an entirely new cast and story each season. But of course, TV execs never want to take that kind of a risk, especially with a formula that was so successful. It did keep working for quite awhile--Jack Bauer and his dammits are definitely cemented into pop culture history and season 5 with President and Martha Logan was actually pretty fantastic, but the past three seasons have just felt like overkill. I didn't finish seasons 6 and 7 and didn't even bother starting season 8. I hated that favorite characters of mine kept getting killed off, like Tony and Michelle and Bill Buchanan. And I especially hated that Tony's death was retconned to have him come back as a villain. I guess the show still has its fans but I don't know how many people are still getting excited by it. Thankfully this season will be the last!
2. Scrubs: This was a weird one. Last season it had a very complete finale, the episode was even entitled "My Finale," but then for some reason it was renewed and came back in an altered form without much of the main cast. I watched a few episodes of the new "Med School" format and while some of the new characters were interesting, it just felt...unnecessary.
3. The X-files: So I actually liked Agents Doggett and Reyes in the last two seasons but it was just stupid to continue the show without David Duchovny being on full-time. Thankfully he returned to finish out the series properly.
4. Alias: I mean, how many times did Sloane flip flop between being good and bad? The show was really only good for about a season and half; then there was that whole Francie-bot thing and Lauren as Vaughn's wife (worst character EVER) and things just spiraled downhill from there for 3 more seasons! I still shudder whenever Rambaldi comes up....

Friday, April 02, 2010

Life Unexpected: a new kind of family

First off, Shiri Appleby, who plays Cate, the mom of a 16-year-old girl on this show, Life Unexpected, was Liz on Roswell back in 1999-2002, a character that was actually a year younger than me. This makes me feel really...old.

Anyway, I was really excited for this show because the promos made it seem like a throwback to the WB-era teen and family shows (yes, like Roswell) that I loved back in high school. The CW seemed like it was shifting more towards things like Gossip Girl and 90210 so I was happily surprised that they picked up something like this that was more heartfelt and less, well, OMG.

And the show has definitely been delivering in that respect, but I have to say that I have not been as in love with it as much as I thought I might be. I do like the characters quite a bit, who are all layered and complex and figuring things out about themselves, and there's usually at least one moment per episode that really tugs at my heartstrings, but the problem is that it's felt so repetitive.

It's not necessarily unrealistic, but for a stretch there, it seemed like every single week had Lux getting mad at either Cate or Baze for something and running away. It was sort of like, we get it! Lux is damaged and has abandonment issues! Baze was a jerk in high school but he's trying to change! Cate is really good at messing things up! Ryan is a saint!

Things have been better over the past two weeks, but there are only two more episodes left in the season. I really do hope that it gets renewed though. I think there's still plenty of interesting story to explore (though I really don't want them to go there with Cate and Baze...I like Ryan and he's already been put through enough) and despite the repetitiveness, I still find myself watching it live every week, which is impressive considering how many shows air on Monday!


At first I thought that Parenthood was going to be a lot like Brothers & Sisters, a melodrama about a large white, affluent California family with four adult children. But now that a few episodes have aired, it's become evident that this show is actually sticking extremely close to its title. Whereas B&S is more about the siblings' romantic lives and relationships with each other, Parenthood's storylines are nearly all about well, parenthood.

There's Adam (Peter Krause, who I always love) and his wife, Kristina, dealing with their son Max, who's just been diagnosed with Asperger's, and their daughter Haddie, a "good girl" who's just starting to act out and have boy drama. There's Sarah (Lauren Graham, playing a sort of alterna-world Lorelai Gilmore) as a single mom moving her two kids back to her hometown and parents' house. There's Crosby (Dax Shepherd, surprisingly not bad), the overgrown child with commitment issues and a girlfriend pressuring him to have a baby, finding out that he has a son from a past relationship. And there's Julia (Erika Christensen, perhaps miscast), a working mom whose husband Joel is a stay-at-home dad, worrying that their daughter Sydney (definitely one of the cutest kids on TV right now) is more a daddy's girl.

And really, that's kind of all you need to know. The Asperger's storyline has been maybe a little different (executive producer Jason Katims has an autistic son) but the rest is generally pretty much what you'd expect. The acting is generally pretty good, the writing is strong even when the stories are predictable, and yes, the whole clan gets together for dinner and baseball games and pool parties way more often than real-life scheduling should allow for.

I guess I'm in the stage of life between being a child and being a parent so I can't say I much relate to any of the characters on this show, but so far it's been pretty enjoyable. But I get the feeling that this is one of those shows that I like now because it's something new but that I might tire of later on, kind of like I did with B&S...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

T^2: Unfinished Business

M: Top 3 shows that ended too quickly!

Mira: Haha, I had to say Top 3 because well I couldn't narrow it down to 1... :)
1. Jack & Jill (1999-2001): I'm a major shipper as is apparent on this blog. In any case, I loooooved Jack and Jill and was really pissed off how the show didn't allow them to end up together after Season 1. Then got canceled after Season 2, which had ended on a cliffhanger! I've never gotten the resolution I so desperately wanted... For those who don't know the show, it's about a guy, David Jillefsky, called "Jill" and a girl, Jacqueline Barrett, called "Jack." Starring Amanda Peet, Ivan Sergei, Sarah Paulson, Jaime Pressley, Simon Rex.
2. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-2007): Funny because this show also starred Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson. In any case, this show started at the same time as 30 Rock and had a similar premise -- backstage of a weekend variety show similar to SNL. 30 Rock was all comedy; Studio 60 was mostly drama, West Wing-style. I looooved how Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford played off of each other. I loved rooting for Matthew Perry and Sarah Paulson to get together. I liked Amanda Peet as the person in charge... But it tanked. And didn't even finish airing!
3. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007): This doesn't fully fit the category. The real problem with this show is that it was dragged out too long. So long that they had to ruin the perfect couple: Luke & Loralie! Then because it was dragged out, it was kind of abruptly ended at Season 7. The two sort of got back together before the end but not to the extent that I needed. I had 7 seasons invested in this relationship -- they should have been married with twins (a dream Loralie had in an earlier season) by the end! Not rebuilding a broken relationship. GRR!
Jennifer: I totally agree with Jack & Jill above, but here are a few more of mine.
1. Firefly (2002): Yes, I'm a Joss Whedon fangirl. I fully realize that most of his shows are pretty out there and just don't have a wide enough appeal to get the ratings needed to survive on network TV, but Fox really didn't treat this well at all and its premature cancellation really hurt. I loved the space western concept, and the crazy slang and cursing in Chinese, and it had that trademark Joss Whedon combination of humor and heart. The cast was just phenomenal (launching the careers of Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin and Summer Glau) and every single character was really memorable and well-developed. The consolation of course, is that somehow Joss got to make a feature film, Serenity, which was generally self-contained but in a way wrapped up some of the storylines from the series. But the series just had so much potential and I'm still sad that we only got one season out of it.
2. Kyle XY (2006-2009): I think one of the reasons I loved this show so much was that it reminded me of shows like Roswell and Dark Angel that weren't on the air anymore. But it definitely had plenty of its own merits too. Matt Dallas was so great portraying Kyle as he gradually learned both the good and bad of being human, and I actually loved when they introduced Jessi as Kyle's counterpart who wasn't so lucky. The Tragers really grew on me, and I even ended up loving Hillary. Of course Nicholas Lea was awesome as Kyle's mysterious protector, Foss, and I also loved the hints that Declan was kind of being groomed to take Foss' place. All the Zzyzx and Latnok stuff was sometimes kind of silly and ridiculous but things were actually going to an interesting place at the end of the third season when it was abruptly canceled. Also I was a big Declan/Lori shipper and I'm sad that their story wasn't really resolved. Evidently the third season DVD has a featurette discussing what the plan was for the rest of the series. I really need to buy all the sets!
3. The Middleman (2008): Another case of something being a little too out there. This was based on a comic book series, and was about a very straight-laced crimefighter/superhero called the Middleman, and his artsy, unflappable sidekick/apprentice, Wendy Watson. Together they fought generally wacky evil beings, like mad scientists and aliens and things of that nature. The show definitely embraced its kookiness and was just a lot of fun. It's unfortunate that it was canceled after just one season while that other ABC Family show that premiered the same summer (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) went on to become kind of a huge hit.
I'm going to cheat on the question and mention a few more. It seems I like to collect DVD sets of these kinds of "brilliant but canceled" shows...
4. Wonderfalls (2004): In a way, I'm ok with this only having had one season. (13 episodes were filmed and are in the DVD set but only 4 aired.) I read some ideas that Bryan Fuller had for the second season and they were pretty wild and I'm sure it would have been fun, but I think that just the one season is just pretty perfect and Jaye and Eric ended up together so I'm happy.
5. Kitchen Confidential (2005): Supposedly based on the book by Anthony Bourdain but it really just went in its own direction and was hilarious. On the surface, it was really just a variation on the workplace comedy, but I thought the kitchen setting was fresh and funny. Bradley Cooper did what he does best (be charming) and the supporting cast was hilarious, with Owain Yeoman and Nicholas Brendon and John Francis Daley and John Cho and even Bonnie Somerville. Another Fox casualty that canceled was after only 4 episodes (all 13 are also on DVD). Man, Fox really sucks...
6. Grosse Pointe (2000-2001): A 90210 parody, I was just upset that Marcy and Dave the Stand-In never got together.