Monday, June 28, 2010

Geronimo! (River wants to remind you about spoilers.)

I realized I hadn't done a proper Doctor Who post since David Tennant left and the new season began. Now that series five is over, I can do a no-holds-barred, spoiler-riddled, in-depth blog post, so beware! If you don't want to be spoiled, do not go any farther! I am putting this lovely picture of current Doctor Matt Smith and companion Amelia Pond, played by Karen Gillan, here to mark the divide. After the picture, spoilers. So don't keep going. Unless you are ready for spoilers. You cannot say I didn't warn you.

Aren't they precious? I mean, really.

I must admit I was a bit worried about Matt Smith. David Tennant was a fan favorite for four years, and I was afraid that he couldn't be properly replaced. I thought that Matt Smith was odd-looking, and I wasn't familiar with any of his past work.

Oh, how I was proven wrong. In action, Matt Smith's Doctor was every bit as charming, intense, sexy, and scary as David Tennant's, but with an even darker tone than any other, in my opinion. The feeling darkness is compounded by his youth; Smith is the youngest actor, at 27, to play the Doctor, Fourth Doctor Peter Davison being two years older when he began his run as the Doctor. The Eleventh Doctor is an interesting mix of contradictions, which is just how I like my Doctor.

Before I bore you all singing Matt Smith's praises, I'll move on.

There were a lot of really strong episodes this season, helped along by fantastic performances and amazing chemistry by the cast. Karen Gillan, as Amy Pond, is so much fun, and I absolutely love Arthur Darvill as her fiancé, Rory. While Amy's obvious attraction to the Doctor is something Rory obviously has a problem with, the two really do love each other very much, something we truly see when, after Rory is erased from history and Amy's memory is wiped of anything relating to him, Amy realizes that there is something missing from her life, something important.

We are also reintroduced to River Song, a character with an unknown relationship to the Doctor, first seen in series four's Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, two of the creepiest episodes. Ever. Seriously.

One of my favorites this season was Vincent and the Doctor, in which Amy and the Doctor visit Vincent Van Gogh in order to investigate something mysterious they see in one of his paintings. While the monster itself was really nothing special, it was one of the more poignant episodes I have seen on Who. The episode examines Van Gogh as a troubled man inevitably descending into madness. A scene near the end has the Doctor and Amy bringing Vincent to an exhibit of his artwork. I would be lying if I said I didn't cry during the whole scene, huddled in front of my computer. It may also be interesting to note that this episode was written by Richard Curtis, who wrote a movie I absolutely adore, Notting Hill.

Other standouts this season include the two-part The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, which reintroduced the delightfully creepy weeping angels, and the fan-frickin'-tastic two-part season ender The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang.

The reason I'm not mentioning more as standouts is because it all pretty much rocked. I, personally, didn't feel that any of the episodes fell very flat, and I have to give a hand to Steven Moffat, the new showrunner. Steven Moffat had written on Who in previous seasons, and has taken over after the end of the Russell T. Davies era. Moffat's previous Doctor Who writing credits include Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Blink, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, and The Girl in the Fireplace, all of which are episodes I have loved and watched over and over again.

So, go you, Steven Moffat! Here's to many more years of fantastic Who.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of zombies and daisies

There are really only three things that I remember about my dream last night.

They are, in order:

  1. A used bookstore in NYC
  2. My being in a band
  3. Zombie apocalypse
I don't know what that means, but as long as it's not prophetic in any way (except maybe the first and second parts) I should be okay.

I didn't receive the next disc of Wonderfalls today. Netflix had it in his head that I would be getting it Tuesday, but it is now Wednesday, and my poor little disappointed self can only take so much. I'll be putting my account on hold shortly after, anyway. Money's tight. :(

I've been on a Bryan Fuller kick lately, rewatching Pushing Daisies with a friend of mine who had never seen it and rewatching some of Dead Like Me by myself. I've said this before, but I feel it merits repeating: Bryan Fuller is brilliant. His style is so imaginative and awesome. I want more than two seasons of him at one go!

He's apparently working on a Pushing Daisies comic to follow-up the series, which is way way awesome! Can't wait for that. And, he's purportedly working on pilots for NEW shows, including one for NBC called Sellevision, based on Augusten Burrough's novel of the same name about a Home Shopping Network-type television company. He also has another NBC script in the works, a comedy about an animal shelter, entitled No Kill.

I would really love to work with Bryan Fuller someday. The idea of making beautiful television like his makes me a little bit giddy.

"Can't we say "alive again"? Doesn't that sound nice?" - Ned the Piemaker

ALSO! It's Joss Whedon's birthday! I totally would have done an all Whedon post in his honor if I hadn't just now remembered. But there we are. I suck as a fangirl. I am appropriately ashamed. Happy birthday, Joss. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is it Tuesday again?

Because it's Tuesday, I feel a strange compulsion to blog. Does this mean that I have (GASP!) developed a routine that involves blogging? Can I possibly have committed to a weekly blog updated....weekly?! Am I becoming, one small step at a time....RESPONSIBLE?!? I don't know what's gotten into me. This is the third week in a row I've posted on this blog and I don't know what to think of it. It's wigging me out a bit. But, it's possible this is just another neurosis that I've developed. But at least this is a helpful one.

Before I talk about television, the main reason for this blog, I feel the need to recount another one of Emily's Adventures with Balance, which today guest-starred the steps outside the office in which I work and God.

I was listening to NPR on my way to work this morning and getting bummed. There is so much crap going on in the world, and I found myself feeling utterly helpless. I have no power. There is absolutely nothing I can do to make this world any less screwed up than it is. And then it hit me. I'm a writer! Okay, maybe a sub-par amateur writer, who when sleep-deprived lacks her usually impeccable spelling capabilities, but a writer nonetheless. A writer can move mountains with the stroke of her pen! Make enemies fall in a sentence! And then I thought: The kind of writing that does that is really not fun. Maybe there's a way I could spin things as funny.

As soon as I thought that slightly inappropriate thought I stumbled on the concrete steps, taking a chunk out of my hand. I couldn't help but feel like I was receiving a karmic slap on the wrist. Sometimes God has a weird sense of humor. Grumbleowgrumble.

On to television!
The first disc of Wonderfalls arrived yesterday, and I've watched two and a half episodes already (I'll probably finish the rest today, actually, since I only work half a day). I really like it! It's just neat. It's similar in feel to Bryan Fuller's other work, but not quite so. I really like the protagonist, Jae. She's cynical and negative, yet has an endearing quality that I can't quite put my finger on. She reminds me a tiny bit of myself, were I more cynical and negative, I suppose. It's a shame that there are only fourteen episodes of this show, but it really is awesome.

It's definitely one of those shows that isn't for everyone, but I don't really get why. Why are viewers (and, as a result, networks) so afraid of the fantastic and imaginative? It seems to me that somewhere in the growing up process a majority of adults get the impression that nothing like that matters anymore, or that it's somehow bad to care about it.

The real world is cool and all, but there's no way it's cooler than fantasy world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's an addict to do?

Summer is here, and for television, that means reruns, bad reality shows, and the occasional miniseries. It can be hugely depressing for a TV addict. I mean, we need a constant stream of thought-provoking narrative and witty dialogue or we just can't go on. So to remedy this, I am filling up my Netflix queue with television that I somehow never got around to watching.

I'm starting off with the short-lived Bryan Fuller co-created (Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me) series Wonderfalls (2004). I was going to include it in my last post, but I didn't know enough about it to blog about, hence my summer viewing. The premise seems really cool, and Lee Pace is in it (my beloved Pushing Daisies piemaker), so I'm looking forward to it. (I was just struck with the notion of Bryan Fuller and Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams all working on a project together. I must place myself in the position to make that meeting happen.)

After that I'm going to finish Dead Like Me. I was over halfway through the second season, but for some reason never finished it. I was watching it on Hulu originally, and it's also on Netflix streaming, but my computer just can't handle it. It's rather sad, really. If anyone wants to send me the money for a new laptop, feel free. :]

After that it will be either Dollhouse, Studio 60, or The 4400. The 4400 because I remember thinking it looked really cool when it was on, but never saw it. That was before I discovered my voracious need for stories in television form. (And Summer Glau is in eight episodes, which is cool.) (Also, what channel did it even come on?)

In current TV news, I wanted to watch the NBC summer television event thing Persons Unknown last night, but wasn't able to. It seems like a pretty interesting premise, but not something to ask too much of. Considering I don't get channels with great summer TV like USA or SyFy, I'm having to make do with what is available.What are you watching this summer?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gone, but not forgotten; or, why are so many awesome shows cancelled?

It seems that as soon as I blogged the praises of the mystery drama Happy Town, with Amy Acker and Abraham Benrubi, among others, they were destroyed with the kind of heartless indifference that every TV fanatic is quite familiar with. (Sure, the first episode wasn't perfect, but it was just compelling enough for me to look forward to the next episode. I had hope!)
While this isn't nearly of the same caliber of other quickly cancelled shows, it got me thinking about great television that can't seem to make it. Here's a list of six great television shows that only had two seasons or fewer:

Firefly-- 1 season, 14 episodes

Those who know me probably saw this one coming, but there's no way this could not be on the list. Joss Whedon's Firefly was a show unlike any other (I mean, it was awesome. A group of misfits on a spaceship, and sometimes they steal things, oh and there was cowboy stuff too and guns and kung fu and horses), and developed a cult following. The following was so great that on its cancellation, the fans rallied, and a movie was eventually produced to give us a(n almost) satisfactory ending. The show also helped along the careers of the fantastic cast. The amazing Nathan Fillion now stars in his own ABC drama Castle (and it's awesome), Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk both had recurring roles in Whedon's most recent series Dollhouse, and Morena Baccarin stars in ABC's V (see my previous post).

Freaks and Geeks-- 1 season, 18 episodes
Freaks and Geeks was a true-to-life portrayal of high school life in the 1980s amongst those who kept to the fringe of society. I don't really get why it was killed so quickly, personally, but it helped launch the careers of most of its main cast, most notably James Franco, movie star (and now General Hospital regular, apparently), Seth Rogen, movie star, and Jason Segel, who co-stars on one of my favorite shows currently on, How I Met Your Mother. Oh, and John Francis Daley, who plays kid brother Sam, is now a regular on awesome crime drama Bones.

Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip-- 1 season, 22 episodes

Before I sing the praises of this awesome show about the goings-on behind the scenes of an SNL-esque sketch comedy show, I must first make a confession. I have only seen three episodes of West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin's acclaimed Studio 60. I know, I know. "But it's a television show about television! It would only stand to reason that you, as a television addict, would love it!" Yes, dear readers, it would. And yet. But it is on my list. There are so many television shows and only so many hours in the day. Aside from that, what I did see was great, and I highly recommend it. And, to all of my Sorkiphile friends, I will watch it, don't worry. :)

Pushing Daisies-- 2 seasons, 22 episodes

Pushing Daisies was a show that, even before the first episode aired, I knew would be unlike anything I had ever seen.
  1. It's simply gorgeous. The colors are vibrant and in-your-face.
  2. The plot is completely original.
  3. The characters are over-the-top and so much fun.
  4. Oh, and it had Kristin Chenoweth, my musical theatre hero. :]
I absolutely loathe the term "dramedy" (for really no reason I can discern), but I can't really think of anywhere else to put it. It really deserves its own genre of super-awesome fantasy/drama/comedy/musical. It's also a show that I kind of new was doomed to fail. As soon as I saw how amazing the story of a piemaker who could bring the dead back to life was, I was incredibly afraid of getting attached. Lucky for me, since it landed in the middle of the writer's strike, it was given a second chance and a second season. Never mind that they aired the last few episodes when it was all but impossible for anyone to actually see them. (Sound familiar, Browncoats?)

Dollhouse-- 2 seasons, 27 episodes

When I first learned of Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse, I have to admit I was a little giddy. I had just finished Buffy and Firefly, and the prospect of more Joss was just what I needed. The plot, just like all of his other projects, was completely original, an illegal group that imprinted various personalities on "actives". It starred Buffy's Eliza Dushku as Echo, one of the actives. This show somehow made it through one season and was given another, but was given the boot soon after. Bringing me to another edition of

Open Letters to Television (Creators)

Dear Joss,

I hope that now you have learned your lesson. Firefly aired on FOX and it was never treated well. The episodes were aired all out of order, and never regularly. The network simply didn't seem to care. Then comes Dollhouse, with a great premise and a great cast (thanks for bringing in Amy Acker and Summer Glau, by the way!). It might have lasted longer on a cable network (I'm sure that SyFy would love to have you), but instead you went with FOX. Again. I'm so sorry. I really hope that someday you will bring us another show that is as successful as Buffy. Have you considered teaming with JJ Abrams, another television hero of mine?
Dead Like Me-- 2 seasons, 29 episodes

Yet another show that is (am I totally boring you yet?) completely unlike anything else on television. Dead Like Me (created by Bryan Fuller, creator of Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies, two also very short-lived series)is about a group of grim reapers who go to people when they are about to die to preserve the person's soul so they can move on in peace. The show was another example of too fantastic for TV, like Fuller's other shows. Not only did it have interesting (and eccentric) characters and situations, it dealt with death in a way unlike anything else on television. It had Rebecca Gayheart for a little while (the original choice for Inara on Firefly, minterestingly enough, but she apparently had no chemistry with the rest of the cast.), and also starred Mandy Patinkin, best known (by me) for his role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride and as Georges Seurat in the original cast of Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George.