Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Special: 2 scary series for the price of basic cable

Holidays seem to bring out the best in TV and Halloween is no exception. Each season a handful of series get dressed up and show off their spooky sprits, the most popular being The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror (xxii) episode. For those of you who would like to be scared more then once a year the following series are perfect for you.

The Walking Dead-Sun. 9 AMC
Zombies, zombies and more zombies! I wasn’t a fan of these walking decaying corpses but then curiosity and good reviews, got the better of me so I had to watch the premiere last year and was immediately sucked in. Just four episodes into its second season and they have aped up the anti. A herd of walkers, a missing kid and a zombie autopsy (The grosses TV autopsy I have ever seen). With all that has happened so far it’s not just dramatic and scary but very tense and with a high gross out factor. The autopsy was bad but in its first season The Walking Dead had a scene in which Rick, the “leader” of the central story’s group of characters, had to walk amongst the “walkers”. To do this he had to smell like them so he can travel undetected. The way they did this was by chopping up a truly dead “walker” then covers themselves with the rioting, smelly insides. It was bloody and gross but worked. It aired a year ago but the image is still burned in my mind. What I like most about the series is how I have come to care about these people, including this one man who helped Rick in the first few episodes and hasn’t been seen since. Each member of the small group have there own reasons for being there and have lost someone they loved to the zombies but for the most part those that are left are still fighting, looking out for each other and just tying to stay alive.

Warning before you dress as a Zombie be aware of the consequences. Recently in Hollywood another movie was being filmed when there was a major accident and multiply actors playing fake zombies were injured and while at the hospital it was difficult for the doctors to determine real wounds for the make-up ones. There was also a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy were this happened, I’m just saying be careful out there.

Another amazing series to start watching now if you haven’t already is

American Horror Story-Wed. 10 FX
This new series brought to us by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (yes the men who brought us Glee and Nip/Tick) have done it again with another fascinating story. If you haven’t heard of it then you don’t look at entertainment magazines and wouldn’t be reading this anyway. Months before the series premiered it was the talk of TV junkies and now that I have seen the first few episodes I can finally add my two cents. Finding the right words to describe this crazy and weird new series isn’t easy but it is worth giving it a try.
I should start at the beginning. The House. The house is a character all its own, I would even call it the most important and main character. Each episode (so far) starts with a scene from the past. Each scene has a character from a different period of time in the houses history, including the 1920s, 1960s and 2010. I’m not giving anything away if I say these characters usually have an untimely horrific ending. This brings me to the present and the human characters. We start with a family. To make a long and confusing story short and simple after the husband, Ben (the wonderful Dylan McDermott) cheats on his wife, Vivien (Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton) they move with their teenage daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) across the country for a fresh start. Then I’m afraid to say things get weird….we are quickly introduced to other intriguing and complicated characters. There is Constance the eccentric southern neighbor (the always fabulous Jessica Lange), Larry a ex-resident of the house and burn victim/ex-convict, the maid who came with the house played creepily by two women Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge and a handful of actors that add to a already questionable mixture of well written characters. If I go into anymore detail I will be giving things away. All in all in the end I have to say this is the creepiest and strangest yet exceedingly satisfying series on TV right now.       

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What was once old is new again

Hollywood remakes:
I wrote in an earlier blog that I have been a fan of Chris O’Donnell’s for many years (NCIS: Los Angeles 301&302). What I didn’t say is that the first time I ever saw him was in the 1993 Disney film version of The Three Musketeers.  So this past weekend, as much as I thought I didn’t want to, I saw the latest telling of this great story that the film industry has brought us. In ’93 it was this nice and small yet fun adventure story with a wonderful cast. In 2011 the filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson has added more than any of the pervious incarnations that I have seen, including 1935, 1948 and 1973. There are a handful of new elements in this new take some I liked and some not so much. Unlike the '93 take on the story this new one brought back The Duke of Buckingham which was ok with me, but some of the 21st century special effects I could have lived without. For example the addition of these crazy DeVinciesque flying ships. They may have added a new element to the plot and were nice to look at but unnecessary. Then like with every other movie these days there was the addition of 3D! Full disclosure this was the fist time I’ve had to watch a 3D film and I enjoyed it but 24 hours later I realized I prefer 2D. I feel like it is easier to pay attention to the story being told and feel compassion for the characters on screen if I am not distracted by all the 3D hoopla. By the time the credits were rolling I have to say it was a fun ride. The story was good, the action/adventure enjoyable and the cast was worth watching but in the end I still prefer the one where I discovered one of my favorite actors a little bit moreJ.
Another remake I got to go see this year was Fright Night, original made in 1985. First I have to say that I had a lot of fun the night I got to see this vampire flick. I went with a couple of woman, one a friend I hadn’t seen in years and the other I just met. We got to the theater for the showing and the only other people besides us inside were a small group of teenagers. It turns out being the only ones in the audience made the whole scary movie experience so much better. The three of us actually got to scream and squeal at the screen. This was always something I wanted to do but never had the courage or chance until that night. David Tennent may have been the reason we went but screaming “DON’T GO UP THERE!” was very cool and a lot of fun. There were one or two scenes that I got to jump out of my seat for and other that were just plain silly. Although I haven’t seen the original in years this new version was just as good if not better and I strongly suggest taking a look when it comes to DVD on December 13.
There are two other remakes that I must mention before I’m done. Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black and Jason Segel was really cute and worth a look at if you catch it on TV as I did. And Footloose which is the one remake I have no interest in seeing. I just don’t think ANYONE can improve on the 1984 classic starring Kevin Bacon.
In the end Hollywood take my advice. Let’s cut down on the remakes, sequels and newly cast superheroes and get more original.

Monday, October 17, 2011

NCIS: L.A.305-Deadline

The main thing I got out of Hetty's and Callens conversation about who he is is that his father could still be alive and that Hetty knew Clara, Callens mother, which is nice to know but I thought there might be more. Ever since Law and Order first aired 20 years ago I have come to like storylines that can be riped from the headlines and this week was a good one. A unkown Lybian using the internet to help the uprising against Ghadaffi(have you noticed there are like a dozen ways to spell this guys name). he is a supporter of the rebels and belives in the cause so he tries to give advice. This all starts with the opening death of a local reporter who has been researching the man behind the mask and leads to the team, now completly back to normal including another screen appearance of Monty, the cutest police dog you have ever seen. I'm also pretty sure Monty is a Liberal, he only listen to NPR so that makes him more cute. We also get the return of Sam's and Callens wounderful partner banter, this time it was on pet ownership and I love how they think alike, "if it doesn't work with the fish,SUSHIE ":) This writing about a show every week is harder then it looks but I will try and keep it up even if it's just for my own sake and allows me to practice writing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The new fall season, so far: Dramas

Each TV season I try and watch as many new series I can, even if I don’t think I’ll like it. Although some I know I won’t like and avoid those all together. They usually end up being the first to get canceled so there is no point getting hooked (ex. The Playboy Club). Below are the Dramas that fit into my schedule.

Ringer- Tues. 9 The CW--- Ok so I started watching this because I have been a fan of Sarah Michelle Geller for years, how could you not love Buffy. By the end of the first episode I was intrigued by the entire show. Geller plays twin sisters but that is just the tip of the iceberg in this twisty tale of romance, backstabbing and murder. It’s not too late to check it out!

Person of Interest-Thurs 9 CBS---Ben from Lost (Michael Emerson) and the actor who has played Jesus and The Count of Monte Cristo (Jim Caviezel) how could you go wrong! This series has the same idea behind it as the 2002 movie Minority Report but takes place today and sometimes it’s the victim the two leads have to save, not catching the killer. My favorite part is that the two characters Reese and Finch are doing all this outside the government and police, so none of the people they help even know who they are. Taraji P. Henson plays a cop trying to find them. My favorite of the season, check it out so it doesn’t get cancelled.

A Gifted Man-Fri. 8 CBS--- The jury is still out on this one. I like the lead character, a successful surgeon too busy to help his dead ex-wife’s free clinic. The ghost of his wife is a good character, not sure about the rest of the cast.

Pan Am-Sun 10 ABC---Because they all wear uniforms, male pilots included, it is hard to tell the difference between the characters, not that there is much difference to see. Not a fan of the series or the 60s I suggest sticking with Mad Men to get that made in the 60s style fix, I will.

Unforgettable-Tues 10 CBS--Good ratings sometimes indicate a good time slot like this new series right after NCIS: LA. If you give it a try I suggest recording it. Like most reviews I have to agree that this, to put it simple is Forgettable.

Terra Nova-Mon. 8 FOX---Ah Mr. Spielberg after a lot of money and Fox pushing it back from TV season to season I have to say not  bad.  I like your summer season endeavor Falling Skies a lot more but I will continue to watch this and hope it starts making money. After all it does have all the items one needs in a post old earth that we have destroyed so now in order to save the human race we have to start over. There is teen angst, a nice family, bad guys who started the own community outside the new one of course, secrets lots of secrets  and a leader, in this case I think there might be two but they don’t know that yet. So I will watch and those that don’t should check it out.

Homeland Sun 10 Showtime---Mandy Patakins return to TV, I’ve met him a couple of times and as great a guy as you would think. Anyway this series has only had one episode so far but it looks like it’s going to be fun to watch. A series in which you have two leads that are supposed to be working for the good old U.S of A but we don’t know who, if either is the good guy/bad guy. Looks like from the coming attractions it is going to have money twists and turns so I will have to pay close attention. If you can afford premium cable check it out.

Revenge-Wed. 10 ABC—Once again another show that I didn’t want to watch but because of all the press I though I should and well I really like it, it is truly a primetime soap opera guilty pleasure. While watching the ads this past summer some wondered how the lead, a woman bent on revenge for what a group of so called friends did to her father when she was just a kid, would kill all these people without anyone noticing. Turns out she just wants to make their lives miserable At the beginning of each episode she picks her target and the viewer knows who is going down this week, kind of like a murder mystery where we already know the murderer but still fun to watch. Check it out and get sucked into this story of revenge.

Bedlem-Sat. 9 BBC America---One of my many British series that has yet to be Americanized. It is about a man who can see ghost and how they die and takes place in an old mental asylum that is now a high end apartment complex. Do I really have to say more? Check it out!

Speaking of Saturday night TV what has happen to it? My TWO magazines about Showbiz (Where I start to study each new season) didn’t even add it to the schedules this year! I know that the TV industry hell all of Hollywood only cares about 18- 45 year olds but that is NO EXCUSE to leave out everyone else! You know the people who have spent their whole adult life working and have the money to spend on the stuff in the commercials and don’t know how to fast forward through them. What about the Grandparents who have to baby-sit their grandkids because their parents are out? Don’t they deserve something to watch? And no they can’t stay up to watch Saturday Night Live even through they made it what is! Instead of bringing back Charlie’s Angels (which I haven’t had a chance to watch) let’s bring back Murder She Wrote. You know a nice non-tense series that you don’t really have to pay attention but tells a good story and is over in an hour. I’m just saying with the internet, viewers these days don’t fit into your nice little demographics box.  Give it another try networks you never know who is really watching you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The new fall season, so far: Comedies

I don’t work or get paid by any network, although I should.

For some reason since Friends went of the air it has been hard form me to watch comedies. It's not that I don’t like them and don’t have a sense of humor it just seems like while I have a handful of comedies that I watch and really enjoy, How I Met Your Mother is my favorite at the moment, I seem to watch a lot more dramas. That being said there are three this new season that has surprised me and a couple of others that I also find myself laughing with.
I have I certain criteria when it comes to watching a funny TV series. I don’t know exactly what it is but I CAN tell you that they better not have a laugh track and trust me you can tell the difference between recorded laughter and a real audience. Here are my new favorite sitcoms. If I like it must be good so if you have time give them I try and maybe we can keep them on the air for a long time.

2 Broke Girls-Mon. CBS—This one was a real surprise! I thought that a series about a poor waitress and an ex rich girl wouldn't make for great TV but I was wrong. The two leads have great chemistry and are fun to watch. All the co-stars that are part of this diner work well together. Oh and there’s a horse living in their Brooklyn backyard. Check it out!

Up All Night-Wed. 8 NBC—Now I am not a fan of TV shows about what goes into being a new parent but Christina Applegate and Will Arnett get to keep their wicked sense a humor in this charming new series. Maya Rudolph is hysterical as the single boss and friend of Applegate and her talk show within the show is hilarious. Check it out!

New Girl-Tues. 9 FOX—I like this quirky little series a lot and all I have to say about it so far is that Zooey Deschanel is cute and sweet as the New Girl. I just hope the guys she lives with each get their own personalities as the show progresses. Check it out!

Suburgatory-Wed ABC—Again another series that I wasn’t going to watch because the premise didn’t appeal to me and it’s still growing on me. I will say that if you like weird shows that have something you like about them but you don’t know why DVR this and give it a chance.

How to be a Gentleman-Already got cancelled and rightfully so.

And now we come to

Two and a Half Men 2.0-Mon. 9 CBS—Very funny, No Trolls. If you are a fan of Ashton Kutcher but haven’t watched this series in the past now is the time to jump on board.

That is it for the comedies. If you watch a new one and I don’t have it on the list tell me about it and I will give it a try. Coming up next The Dramas.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Entertainment Weekly,

As a child of the 80s thank you for reuniting two of my favorite casts. Growing Pains and The Princess Bride. I like to think they are two of the reasons for my life long love of Film and Television, so much so that I have The Princess Bride memorized and watch it whenever it is on TV. Both cast still look wounderful and I'm happy to see them together again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NCIS: L.A.-303

How dare Hunter mix up the teams, you know Callen doesn’t like change.
Deeks and Sam, Kensi and Callen, Eric I also miss the whistle. I love how each team member has there thing and once again in this episode Sam Hanna gets to use his excellent bomb making and defusing skills. And KABOOM! This show really likes blowing stuff up. Luckily the entire team made it out okay and they check on each other to make sure, so cute.  
And poof in the end Hunter is gone, it’s as if she was never there, which could mean she can always return. I think I actually might miss Hunters and Callens “banter”.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Introduction to Opera

Today’s lesson: Go out and do something new. If in your life something comes across your path that you’ve never tried and thought you wouldn’t enjoy, give it a chance, you might surprise yourself.
This weekend I saw nine operas in 90 minutes. Okay so it wasn’t nine full operas but what I saw was a nice introduction to what opera is and a sneak peak at how I would react to the genre. There were just four performers on the stage: A Soprano, A Tenor, A Baritone and A lone Pianist. There were no elaborate costumes and only a couple of set pieces.
It was Opera for Dummies. Instead of having to sit through a full length opera while having no clue to what they are singing or what the story is all about we heard one song from a handful of operas. With each song came a synopsis of the scene. Then the performers would return to the stage to sing and even play the role. Although the song and scene only lasted a couple of minutes the three actors made each character different from the pervious. There was love, sadness, fear, and even some humor. The voices mixed smoothly together as the piano played.
As someone who has never seen a full opera the main thing I learned from this experience was that it is all about the entire performance that each performer gives. Some of the songs heard that night were in English so a newbie was able to fallow the scene but because of the way The Soprano, the Tenor and the Baritone sung and moved I was able to follow the Italian just as easily.
Before this weekend the only thing I knew about The Opera was that they seem to be hunted by a Phantom.
Now I’m not saying going to An Opera is skydiving or climbing Mount Everest but it was something new to me and after I gave it I try I would like to do it again.