Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Taking Notice of Burn Notice June 29, 2007

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 6:08 pm

The Premise:

Michael Weston, a spy for an undisclosed government agency, is in Nigeria on a routine (for him) mission, when he suddenly learns that a burn notice has been put out on him. Apparently, “burn notice” is the espionage term for “being fired, being cut off from all of your money, and being tailed by government agents at all times.” The pilot episode follows Michael back to his hometown of Miami, where he feels very much not at home, thanks to his manipulative, hypochondriac mother. The only people he can rely on for help as he tries to sort things out are his ex-girlfriend Fiona and a retired, seemingly alcoholic agent, Sam. As he tries to uncover the mystery of why he was “burned,” he takes on private investigator type jobs to earn enough cash to rent a $200/month room above a nightclub and to buy supplies at various hardware and electronics stores to make MacGyver-style spy gadgets.

Sound like fun? It is. With the colorful backdrop of Miami, Burn Notice is a show full of exotic locales and beautiful people, including the main characters.

The Characters:

  • Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) – Michael is an experienced spy (he’s been working in the business for at least 15 years), so it’s no surprise that he knows how to handle himself in a variety of sticky situations. What sets him apart from the typical spy is that we see both his espionage and his personal life – sometimes even simultaneously. (One memorable scene in the pilot episode has him evading some agents that are following him while he drives his mother to a doctor’s appointment. Viewers can appreciate the irony that his stress over dealing with his mom’s diatribe about their dysfunctional family is compounded by the car chase that she doesn’t even realize is happening.) Despite his stand-offishness when it comes to family and romantic relationships, we also see that Michael has a soft spot for people in need. In the first episode these people include a little boy dealing with bullies and the boy’s wrongly-accused-of-a-crime father. This sensitivity, combined with his sense of humor and super spy skills, make Michael a character worth rooting for, especially given his newfound situation of being “burned,” out of work, and seemingly out of options.
  • Madeline Weston (Sharon Gless) – Based on the pilot episode, the main information we know about Michael’s mother is that she is a hypochondriac, a widow, and a nuisance – at least to Michael. She calls him 30 times a day and finagles him into doing her favors by catching him off guard, making him feel guilty, or when all else fails, crying on his shoulder. She also believes that Michael is the key to holding her family together.
  • Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) – Fiona is Michael’s ex-girlfriend, but because he forgot to change his emergency contact, it is she that the hospital calls when he arrives in Miami with a couple of broken ribs and other remnants of a nasty beating he suffered when things fell apart in Nigeria. She has her own espionage experience, as an IRA operative, which should be useful as Michael searches for answers about his burn notice.
  • Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) – Sam has lived in Miami for about a year and seems to spend most of his time tanning and drinking by the pool. Somehow, he has found time to stay close with a number of underworld and government contacts, some of whom provide leads for Michael in the pilot episode. Sam is not a very likable character thus far. Perhaps we will learn more about him that will humanize him in later episodes.

The Actors:

  • Jeffrey Donovan, the lead actor, was previously the star of the short-lived Touching Evil, also on USA Network. He has a dark and brooding look that makes him perfect for this type of character – a troubled detective or government operative – but he also has a sarcastic sense of humor to balance it out.
  • Sharon Gless, playing Michael’s mother, is best known for her role in the 80s detective show Cagney and Lacy. She was well cast in the role of Madeline Weston as she is a woman who is defying age. She also plays both Madeline’s manipulative and maternal sides very well.
  • Gabrielle Anwar – I remember her best as the main character in the 1991 movie Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, but she gained widespread fame by dancing the tango with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman a year later, in 1991. She has had less noticeable roles over the past several years, but perhaps 2007 will mark a career resurgence, since she is starring in Burn Notice and also appeared on the popular Showtime series The Tudors this year. Fiona has the potential to be a fun character with some Sydney Bristow covert operative moments. Let’s hope Anwar delivers.
  • Bruce Campbell – I remember him from the short-lived tv series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., but he is probably best known for his starring role as Ash in The Evil Dead trilogy. That was a campy horror movie, and he continues to exude campiness in the role of Sam Axe.

How Does Burn Notice Compare to the Other USA Network Original Series?

Burn Notice joins a lineup of detective/government agent-centric shows on USA: Monk, The Dead Zone, The 4400, and Psych. It is not as quirky as Monk, and Michael Weston seems to be much more mentally stable than Adrian Monk. It lacks the sci-fi elements of The Dead Zone and The 4400, but shares the government agent aspect of The 4400. So then, it is probably closest in theme to Psych, in that it centers around a likable, intelligent character who has unusual methods to make ends meet. Whereas Shawn on Psych pretends to be psychic while using his keen powers of observation to earn a living, Michael must depend on his martial arts and other training-acquired special agent abilities to get through each day without a credit card or a full time job. Both shows are also set beachside – one in L.A., the other in Miami.

I enjoyed watching Psych last summer, although its lack of a continuing storyline resulted in me losing interest after about five episodes. Burn Notice seems to have a better formula. It combines humor and action with a case-of-the-week and the ongoing mystery of the burn notice. I plan to stick around to watch it unfold, so check back next week for a review of the second episode.

I didn’t go into too much detail about the first episode in case someone reading this hasn’t seen it but is interested. USA is re-airing the pilot at least two more times this week:

  • Saturday 6/30 4:30 pm (Central)
  • Monday 7/02 10:05 pm (Central)

Check it out and let me know what you think!



Sabra and Dominic’s Rumbalicious Rumba June 28, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television,Videos — Emily @ 10:21 am

In case you missed it, or would like to enjoy it again, here are Sabra and Dominic dancing a rumba to the Pussycat Dolls’ “Stickwitu.” This cute couple made me forget all about how I’m normally annoyed by all things Pussycat Doll-related. Instead, I was too engrossed by their impressive technique and unmistakable chemistry. Needless to say, this was my favorite performance of SYTYCD: Week 3.


Sabra and Dominic’s Rumba: June 27, 2007


So You Think You Can Dance: June 27, 2007 June 27, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 10:48 pm



Hummingbirds, Astronauts, and Bette Midler Look-Alikes: All That and More, This Week on So You Think You Can Dance

Tonight didn’t have any awe-inspiring performances, but it did have some interesting – and surprising – moments. Let’s take a look.

A Word from Our Judges:

  • Debbie Allen is ready to see some twirlin’ and noticed a lot of camaradarie among the contestants.
  • Dominic has stood out the most for Mary. She says he’s “knockin’ my socks off.” I agree! He’s a lot of fun to watch, and he’s doing well outside of his typical dance style.
  • Nigel says it’s tough being a judge.

This week’s “get to know the contestants” segments will feature them telling us what their ambitions are outside the world of dance. There’s a lot of variety among these guys and girls when it comes to their life goals.

A note about my comments about each couple: I give my opinion of each performance before I listen to the judges so that they can’t influence my opinions. (I pause my Tivo). I’ll pick my best performances and the bottom three after I review each one.


1. Sara and Jesus: Sara wants to combine her dance and PR/journalism careers by doing freelance articles about dance. Jesus’ ambition is to help children in need, to “pay it forward.” They are going to krump! Lil’C, one of the creators of krump, was their choreographer. Their song: “It’s Okay (One Blood)” by The Game. It was definitely different from what we’ve seen from them the past two weeks. But they “worked it out” as Randy Jackson would say if he were a judge on this show. They had good attitude, and stayed in synch with each other. Plus, they sure looked cute!

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “Lots of energy”
  • Mary: “I LOVED it!”
  • Nigel: “a lot of fun, which is unlike krumping – I’m normally scared of it.”

2. Shauna and Cedric: the first new couple of the season (since their partners, Jimmy and Faina were sent home last week). Shauna wants to be a techno singer (maybe she and Ricky can be a duo), and Cedric wants to make toys and own a toy company. For now, they will have to settle for successfully performing a Mia Michaels contemporary dance. They danced to “I Thought We Had” by The Family Stand. This routine had some good moments, but overall it looked like a dress rehearsal. A couple of times it looked like they had messed up, as one or the other of them would pause and look confused for a moment. I think the choreography is more to blame for that than they are, but I’m not sure this will be enough to save Cedric this week. Shauna was the one who stood out for me. I did like the song.

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “Mia Michaels, you delivered these children, darlin.”
  • Mary: “Shauna, for what you were given, you did an amazing job… you were both dancing your heart out, but for me it still wasn’t good enough.” She was very hard on Cedric, saying he “showed no growth” and that basically he let down his partner again, as she feared would happen. I have to say I agree with Mary on this one.
  • Nigel: He agrees with Debbie that “Cedric is an inspiration for people who haven’t had formal training” and with Mary that “the choreography was brilliant for Cedric.” He admitted that perhaps the judges made a mistake last week by keeping Cedric in for another week.
  • Cedric spoke some words on his behalf that were very classy. He didn’t try to defend his performance or beg for votes. Instead he encouraged young dancers to not just learn one style but to study hard and be a versatile dancer. Whether or not he is sent home this week, I respect him for how he has carried himself amidst all the harsh treatment (much of it consisting of honest critiques) by the judges. In fact, he inspired Debbie to offer him a scholarship to the Debbie Allen School of Dance, to which Cedric responded, “That is what’s up!” This was quite an interesting, time-filling sequence.

3. Lacey and Kameron: Lacey’s ambition is “to make people happy through dancing.” Kameron wants to have a big family and be supportive of his kids the way his parents have been of him. This week they are dancing the “quick step.” I don’t even know what that is! In the practice it looked like they were imitating trotting horses. This should be interesting. Their song: “Big and Bad” by Big Bad VooDoo Daddy. Lacey looked pretty in her hot pink dress; Kameron looked kind of silly in his “old-timey” outfit. There were some fun twists and tosses, but I was distracted by Lacey’s silly facial expressions (and Kameron’s white shoes).

What did the judges think? (They all gave rather generic responses)

  • Debbie: “This shows your versatility once again.”
  • Mary: “I think you did an amazing job.”
  • Nigel: “It was really entertaining.”

4. Anya and Danny: Anya wants to set up an animal shelter, and Danny wants to be either behind or in front of the camera in some way. They pulled “hip hop” out of the hat this week, which is not a strong suit for either of them. It should really test their skills since they’ve basically breezed through before now. Their song: “Oh Timbaland” by Timbaland. I thought they started off well, got a little out of synch with each other in the middle, but ended strong by hitting some neat moves. Snazzy matching outfits, too!

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “Anya and Danny are the Dream Team.” She thought they “owned that.”
  • Mary: “We might have to give the other couples a handicap.” But she did feel like they could have hit some moves a little better.
  • Nigel: “Out of everything I’ve seen you do, that [hip hop] could be your downfall in style.” But then he added, “Well done.”

5. Sabra and Dominic: Dominic’s biggest ambition is “to do headspins… naked.” (Kat thinks he’s kidding.) Sabra wants to be a stand-up comedian because she thinks she’s “pretty dang funny.” This week they are dancing the rumba. Their song: “Stickwitu” by the Pussycat Dolls. I thought they did a great job. Same great chemistry and coordination that they showed during last week’s contemporary dance. Nice costumes, and they made me kind of enjoy that song, when I pretty much hate anything Pussycat related.

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “Call the fire department honey, that was hot!”
  • Mary: “The connection is truly there, and we can see it.” Then there was talk of the “hot tamale train” followed by delirious screaming.
  • Nigel: “You made it [the rumba] look fantastic. I cannot believe some of the lines you were getting out of it.”

6. Lauren and Neil: Lauren would love to be in NASA, in space, as an astronaut. Neil wants to sing and act in addition to dancing. This week they are doing the tango. During their practice there was talk of a “fat cat and a mouse.” Their song: “Tanguera” by Sexteto Mayor. Pretty dress. As usual, though, their expressions were overdramatic to me. Lauren was more impressive than Neil, also as usual.

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “This is a very different routine and style for you.” She wanted it to be “tighter.”
  • Mary: “I didn’t feel the passion so much together… It was a little bit sloppy.” I agree with Mary again.
  • Nigel: “It was pretty good.” But, he thought Neil “overdanced it.” I agree with Nigel, too.

7. Hok and Jaimie: Hok hopes to keep on creating, through painting and graphic design, in addition to his dancing. Jaimie enjoys writing and gains inspiration from her mom and sister. This week they drew “jazz” from the hat. I have hope for a good performance since Wade Robson is their choreographer. He has created a “love story about a hummingbird and a flower.” Their song: “The Chairman’s Waltz” from Memoirs of a Geisha. It was… interesting. I was creeped out by it, though, especially how Hok and Jaimie would flicker their hands around from time to time, and by Jaimie’s spiky hair – yikes! Maybe thinking it was odd was the point of the routine, since it had an Asian influence to it. A different culture can often seem strange, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. Something about it also reminded me of Pan’s Labyrinth. Upon re-watching this performance, I decided it was one of the best of the week. But Wade Robson was right: this definitely wasn’t simply a jazz routine.

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie: “It was brilliant.” And some other stuff about percussiveness and water.
  • Mary: “This was definitely a step up from last week.” Cheesiest line of the night: “Hok, you were soaring like an eagle.”
  • Nigel: He thinks that it was “brilliant and beautiful” and that Wade was a genius to choreograph the dance to accentuate their strengths.

8. Jessi and Pasha: Pasha hasn’t seen his mom and brother in ten years and wants to reunite with them. Jessi would love to be a performer like Julie Andrews or Judy Garland – a singer and actress. This week they are dancing the cha-cha. Hold on a minute – Kat waits until they’ve built up our anticipation of this routine to tell us that Jessi had to be rushed away in an ambulance Wednesday morning and is on doctor’s orders not to perform. Her replacement is Melanie, choreographer Tony Meredith’s assistant. She is a former ballroom champion, but it was a real shame that we didn’t get to see the beautiful Pasha and Jessie performing this sexy dance together. Instead we got the equivalent of Bette Midler (Debbie Allen’s comparison – not mine) dancing with him. Pasha’s song: “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez. I am hoping that Pasha will get a sympathy vote because although he did well during the performance, it’s a bit distracting to have him picking up a middle-aged woman and caressing her body. There’s a reason they set an age limit for the auditions. Let’s hope that Jessi’s medical problem is only a temporary one, and that she will be able to continue her dancing career, even if not this competition.

What did the judges think?

  • Debbie Allen: “The show must go on, and you went on and on and on.”
  • Mary: “You brought the house down tonight.”
  • Nigel: He thinks Pasha will get through no problem. He gives us an update that Jessi is having an irregularity with her heart and that she’ll be dancing for her life Thursday night, if she’s available. (It seems inappropriate to use the term “dancing for her life” when she is in the hospital, doesn’t it?)

What a downer note to end the night on. Perhaps they wanted to give Pasha every chance to gain votes. Going last would make him be fresh on the viewers’ minds.

Predicting who will be in the bottom three gets a little confusing with the whole complication of Jessi being there regardless. Does that mean that there may be 4 girls in the bottom three? I don’t understand how that will work. Oh well, here’s my rundown of the best and the bottom:

Best Performances

  1. Sabra and Dominic
  2. Anya and Danny
  3. Jaimie and Hok

Least Impressive Performances

  1. Shauna and Cedric
  2. Lauren and Neil
  3. Lacey and Kameron

Bottom Three Couples:

  1. Shauna and Cedric
  2. Lauren and Neil
  3. Sara and Jesus
  4. Jessi?

Who Will Be Sent Home:

  • Cedric – I don’t think he has proven that he deserves to still be in the competition, and I think the judges will keep their promise not to let his solo save him this time. Plus, he basically gave a concession speech after he and Shauna’s performance.
  • Jessi – It sounds like she will be in no condition to “dance for her life” on Thursday, so I guess that means we’ll be saying goodbye to her.

If Cedric and Jessie really do end up being the two who go home, then that will mean that all of my favorites are still alive. We’ll find out soon. I’ll post my reaction in the comments section after the results show on Thursday.

Related Links


Disturbing Cinematic Images That Will Forever Haunt Me June 26, 2007

Filed under: Memories,Movies — Emily @ 3:42 pm

Part of the magic of movies is their ability to leave an indelible mark upon us. Sometimes they make us see the world differently, sometimes they inspire us, sometimes they anger us. However, sometimes they just downright disturb us. These are the moments I would like to revisit now – the disturbing images that I would rather forget, but that somehow have always stayed with me since the moment my eyes first made contact with them and my brain processed them. For me, “disturbing” takes different forms, including scary, sad, sickening, strange, and shocking. And remember, these are disturbing images or moments – the movies themselves may not be particularly disturbing, although in some cases they are.

  • A fully naked, fully exposed Harvey Keitel caressing a piano in The PianoNeed I say more? I don’t think so. But this movie, and this scene, left such an unsightly impression in my mind, that I believe I have never watched a Harvey Keitel movie since then for fear that the man will unclothe himself again. I take that back. I did see Pulp Fiction and Red Dragon, but thankfully he stayed suited up in those.
  • Christian Bale’s emaciated body in The Machinist – Christian Bale is normally a beautiful man, so it was tragic and truly frightening to see his appearance in this movie. That’s not to say it was a bad movie. It was actually very good, if you could stand the sight of Christian’s gaunt frame and sunken eyes. Here are the details on his extreme weight loss, according to IMDb: “The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 180 pounds in weight down to about 120 pounds in weight to make this film. They also claim that Bale actually wanted to drop down to 100 pounds, but that they would not let him go below 120 out of fear that his health could be in too much danger if he did. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple per day. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He since gained the weight back for his role in Batman Begins (2005).” All I can say is thank goodness he regained his weight and his health, because Batman Begins, and especially Christian Bale in Batman Begins, is a wonderful thing.
  • Samara, the long-haired ghost-girl in The Ring, climbing first out of the well, and then out of Noah’s television and into his living room (and eventually killing him). The scene was so effective that I felt like she was about to take it a step further and climb out of the movie screen and into the theater!
  • The “sloth” victim in Se7en. This description from Wikipedia gives some idea of the repulsive nature of this scene: “the man is found tied to his bed, alive but suffering from severe mental and physical deterioration after spending a year completely immobile. Above the bed is the word SLOTH written in excrement.” However, that description is nothing compared to what the man looked like. He looked so inhuman that the detectives assumed him dead, as did the audience. The most horrific moment is when they hear him utter a gurgling breath. For weeks after I watched that movie, I would have to check behind my shower curtain to make sure “Sloth Man” wasn’t in my bathtub every time I went to the bathroom. If you’re interested in being given a visual reminder of what Sloth Man looked like, click here and scroll down the page until you see photos of him. They’re impossible to overlook.
  • Two particular death scenes in Saving Private Ryan – The only two things I remember from this movie, which I could only bear to watch once, are two very different, but equally gruesome death scenes. The first is very brief. We see a soldier hunkered down next to Tom Hanks’ character, and the camera pans away from him as he rolls over. Seconds later, the camera pans back to him as Tom Hanks’ character turns to talk to him. Shockingly, the soldier’s face is gone, as he has fallen victim to the enemy attack. The director left nothing to the imagination, but instead showed us a gruesome close-up of the realities of war. The second death scene that deeply disturbed me was much longer and involved a struggle between an American and a German soldier. After what seems like several minutes, the German soldier gets the upper hand and pins the American down. Rather than kill him swiftly, the German opts to make the American suffer a horrible, slow death as he slowly pushes his knife into his chest.
  • Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the head in Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino has one sick sense of humor. This scene is supposed to be funny, but I didn’t find someone getting shot in the head and having their brains splattered all over a car window very amusing. Perhaps this scene was all the more disturbing because real people die this way (in accidental shootings).
  • The scene with the random man wearing a bear costume in The Shining – The movie was disturbing enough without having to contribute to my fear of people in costumes. It doesn’t matter if it’s Captain Hook, Big Bird, or a college sports mascot. I always get a little nervous when I see someone dressed up as an animal or cartoonish character. Since this “Bear Man” showed up in a movie where there was also a scary old naked lady and creepy little girl twins, it was all the more disturbing.

These last three images are from my childhood movie-viewing, so they are probably considerably less disturbing than the previous items. I just wanted to make that disclaimer. Please, continue reading now…

  • Large Marge, the truck driver, reveals herself to be the victim in her story about a horrendous car accident, by transforming into a bug-eyed, monstrous ghostRemember this scene from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure? The movie was only disturbing in the same way that Pee-wee’s Playhouse was on Saturday morning, but as a small child, this scene really scared me.
  • Carol Anne stares at the TV, which is showing nothing but noisy static, and exclaims, “They’re here!” in the original Poltergeist – This little girl, Heather O’Rourke, was disturbing just to look at. Throw in a snowy tv screen and a creepy line, and you have enough to give me a recurring nightmare about nothing but tv static. Yep, it’s true. I had nightmares about tv static when I was little.
  • The two Nazi villains (was it two, or one?) slowly burn and melt away when they open the Ark of the Covenant and unleash God’s wrath upon themselves (Raiders of the Lost Ark) – This scene is disturbing in a similar way to the Large Marge scene. I was probably more disturbed by the unnatural special effects in both situations than by what they were supposed to convey. Claymation (or whatever this was) can be really creepy! See for yourself.

Please add your own disturbing movie images to the comments section.

External Link: For more disturbing movie memories, go to Filmsite’s alphabetical list of Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes.


The 4400: Fear Itself June 24, 2007

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 9:44 pm

Elevators, Clowns, and Germs – Oh My!

Tonight’s secret word on The 4400 : FEAR

Fear played a pivotal role in the main storyline about the NTAC agents trying to track down someone who was causing people’s worst fears to get out of control, but it also was a running theme in the subplots: Shawn feared what would happen if Danny takes Promicin, Tom feared he had lost Alana forever, Diana feared she wouldn’t be able to find April, the government apparently fears that Isabelle’s abilities will resurface, etc.

This isn’t the first show to tackle people’s fears coming to life. Similarly to last week, The 4400 has borrowed a page from the Joss Whedon universe. Last week it was from Angel, this week from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During season four of Buffy there was an episode with the same title as this one: “Fear Itself.” In that episode, the characters’ worst fears were coming to life because of a fear demon, whereas in this episode people’s fears are very real to them, but are only in their minds. The Buffy episode was far more humorous than tonight’s 4400. I’m sure there have been many other shows (and movies) to tackle the idea of fears coming to life. The question then becomes, how well did The 4400 do it?

Throughout the four season run of this show, I have been distracted at times by overly dramatic writing or acting. Sometimes it borders on near-comical it’s so dramatic. Some of those moments surfaced tonight. However, the opening five minutes struck a nerve for me, since I kind of have a fear of elevators and clowns. Let’s take a look:

The Set-Up

A woman freaks out on an elevator, as person after person appears out of nowhere and overcrowds her, to the point that she can’t breathe. As the doors open, we see her freaking out, but there is no one else in the elevator. Next up is a man running as if for his life, from something unseen. Suddenly we see from his vantage point, and there are creepy clowns chasing him around the city streets and holding him down in a fountain. Scary! I totally flashed back to It and Killer Clowns from Outer Space during that scene.

Next up was a doctor’s explanation for what is happening: “We all have things we’re afraid of… but we learn how to cope with them. In these people those coping mechanisms are turned off. They’ve seen their worst fears come to life.” Tom asks if the doctor believes a 4400 is responsible for these events, to which the doctor replies, “Someone or something is turning their pre-existing fears into unimaginable phobias.” Cue the intro, and consider me intrigued.

Meanwhile, in the Land of Subplots

  • Diana gets reinstated by the new head of NTAC, Meghan Doyle. Again with the La Dolce Vita banter? If only all job reinstatement interviews were so easy. Seen your boss’s favorite movie? Great! You’re back on the job. Will there be some greater significance to the movie poster, or is it supposed to provide insight into Agent Doyle, lover of foreign films? So far, it is only distracting to me.
  • Shawn moves back in with his mom and brother Danny. The Danny/Shawn argument about Promicin felt forced. Danny says “it’s always about you and me.” How is that, when they haven’t even had contact with each other in a couple of seasons? Things get more frustrating for Shawn when Kyle tells him that he took Promicin as well. Kyle claims that he and Danny both want to be part of Collier’s quest to make the world a better place.
  • Isabelle is sweet-talked into signing a form so she can transfer to a “nicer” facility for non-threatening 4400’s. Later in the episode (I am skipping ahead here to wrap up this, the shortest subplot of the episode) she is told she will never get her abilities back because the injection her father (Richard – and we still haven’t seen him this season!) gave her made her develop an allergy to Promicin. Somehow I don’t believe that’s really what the tests were about, or that that was the real result of the tests. Methinks these mysterious men in black suits plan to use her blood samples for some evil plan.

Back to the Search for the Phobia-Inducing 4400

Tom and his new partner, Garrity, find the link between a germaphobe in an apartment building and the phobia-affected people at the ATM: the father of an autistic boy in the apartment building who also happened to be at the ATM. However, as soon as we found out the father didn’t have promicin in his system, I figured that he had injected his son with it to try to heal his autism. Obviously it backfired, giving the son the unfortunate ability to magnify people’s greatest fears. Mama wasn’t too happy with daddy for that.

Brand-Spankin’ New Mythology

Cassie leads Kyle to the house of a strange man, who proceeds to tell Kyle the history of a group called White Light, which was founded in 1918 but didn’t last long before the members were killed in a fire. He shows Kyle the group’s scripture, which includes a picture of the Messiah they were waiting for. He bears a striking resemblance to Jordan Collier. There is one chapter written in “a code or something.” Hmmm.. It’s probably important. Cassie Dunleavy believes C ollier is the foretold “messiah who rises from the dead and passes out an elixir that changes the world,” that Shawn is “the healer who lays his hands upon the sick,” and that Kyle is “the shaman whose visions guide the messiah down the path to enlightenment.” So now a religious mythology has been added to the show. Will we receive more information about White Light, or was this story mainly a “rabbit trail” meant to distract us from the truth about Cassie, so that we would be surprised at the end of the episode?

The Big Finale: Out of the Mist and into Happy Endings with Cheesy Lines

Ok. So the “super slow-motion rising from the mist carrying the sedated autistic boy” was just a tad over the top. However, despite the badly timed commercial break, watching Shawn heal the boy was a touching scene. Then it was back to the cheesy lines as his dad said, “My son has been in a prison his entire life. I’m happy to trade places with him.” Dad has to spend time behind bars for the unfortunate risking of his son’s life by injecting him with Promicin.

Winding It Down

Looks like Tom and Diana are partners again, after the conversation between Tom and Meghan as Tom stares at the painting of Alana at the museum. Meghan (or Agent Doyle – which should we call her?), using her skills of perception to conclude that Tom can’t find any more leads in the pigments of the painting, tells him maybe the only thing he can do is to “let her go.” Apparently she has some letting go of her own to do, as she visits her dying father in the hospital at the same time we see Tom taking down pictures of Alana at his house. I am still afraid the writers are planning to romantically involve these two. But I hope that won’t happen and that we haven’t seen the last of Alana.

Who Is Cassie?

The big reveal at the end – that Cassie Dunleavy isn’t real but is instead “Kyle’s ability” – I suspected that early in this episode. It seemed odd that no one else was ever around when she was talking to him, and that she was so mysterious. Plus, we were reminded several times that Kyle hadn’t developed an ability. I’m not really sure what the point of an imaginary friend as your ability is. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Final Thoughts

All is all, this episode wasn’t a super exciting one, and it didn’t do much to advance the ongoing storylines. However, since I have finally overcome my unhealthy fascination with Kyle XY (I deleted my Season Pass after much deliberation last week), I am counting on The 4400 to feed my need for sci-fi this summer. I’m also looking forward to the premiere of USA Network’s newest series, Burn Notice, this Thursday. One final word: Kyle, Shawn, and Isabelle are all looking very attractive this season. Kudos to whoever was responsible for their new looks.


Related Link: Review of Season 4 Premiere, “The Wrath of Graham”


Eclaire’s Disney Fare: A Recommended Disney Dining Plan

Filed under: Disney World,Travel — Emily @ 10:36 am

One of my favorite things about a vacation is the food. Away from home, calories and carbohydrates suddenly become a distant memory, so instead of feeling guilty about choosing fettucine alfredo as your entree, you can eat all of it and order a slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake – topped with whipped cream – for dessert. However, when my husband and I planned our first trip to Disney World together, I had low expectations for the culinary choices I would encounter there. I figured, “Disney World isn’t about great food; it’s about great fun interspersed with mediocre burgers and fries.”

Well, let me just tell you – I was wrong! The food was one of our favorite things about our Disney vacation! If you are debating whether or not to include the Disney Dining Plan in your Disney vacation package, my advice is to go for it. We decided to splurge, and it was well worth it! The only catch is that you have to stay on Disney property (and again, I say splurge, and take advantage of all the perks that come along with staying on site). The basic idea of the Dining Plan is that for each day of your vacation, you get one counter service, one snack, and one table service meal. When we read about everything that came with the meals, we figured it would be way too much food to eat. But with all the walking we did, we had no problem eating anything and everything we could get our hands on.

One other thing I should mention about our trip is that we were joined at Disney World by my brother and his wife. Going with another couple made it all the more fun, especially at meal time. And since we sat down to order off a menu just about every night, the four of us had plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company – and try each other’s food!

Seven months is a long time to wait before posting a recap of my Disney dining experience, but even after all this time, I can remember it all like it was yesterday. That’s how good the food, the service, and the atmosphere were! Since I only started this blog in May of this year, I have a lot of Disney joy to catch up on. Stay tuned for more about my favorite rides, why I love the Wilderness Lodge, and more. But for now, here’s a look at my Disney World trip strictly in terms of the food:


Wednesday, December 13

  • Lunch: Roaring Forks (Wilderness Lodge’s cafeteria-style eatery that features breakfast, snack, and light meal options) – After arriving in Orlando around 11 a.m. and checking into the WL, we decided to grab lunch before heading over to Magic Kingdom. We weren’t expecting much, so we were pleasantly surprised by how good our sandwiches were. I had turkey and brie, and he had roast beef and blue cheese. We also shared a snack item, apple slices with caramel dip, which was also delicious.
  • Dinner: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (A counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland) – We had planned to eat at Terrace Noodle Station for dinner, but unfortunately it was closed the week of our trip, so instead we ended up eating burgers from this future-themed cafe. The burgers were surprisingly good, mainly due to the huge bar of toppings, including lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapenos, etc. To be healthy, I ordered carrot sticks as my side instead of fries, and they were nice and crispy. There are plenty of places to order burgers at Disney World, but from what I understand, Cosmic Ray’s is one of the best. Another nice thing about our dinner here was that we sat outdoors, in an area that overlooked the path leading from Tomorrowland to Cinderella’s castle. The view of the castle at night was truly magical, and with the temperature in the low 70s and a slight breeze blowing, the atmosphere was near perfect.

View of Cinderella’s Castle from Tomorrowland: (click thumbnail for larger view)


Thursday, December 14

  • Lunch: Yakitori House (a counter-service restaurant at Epcot, in the Japan area of World Showcase) – This restaurant’s atmosphere was more impressive than its food, but the food was good enough that I would eat there again. Once again, we sat outside, in an area meant to look and feel like a Japanese garden, complete with hanging lanterns, a koi pond, small bridges, and lush greenery. Our sushi rolls and Tonosama Combination (teriyaki chicken thigh, Sukiyaki beef, mixed vegetable tempura with shrimp and steamed rice) were a tasty light lunch that reenergized us for the rest of our day, instead of making us feel sluggish or overly full like a heavy pizza or burger meal might have.

Lunch at Yakitori House in Japan: (click thumbnail for larger view)
Lunch at Yakitori House in Epcot’s Japan

  • Dinner: Le Cellier Steakhouse (an excellent table service restaurant in the Canada area of World Showcase) – If you don’t eat at any other restaurant at Disney World, eat here! We had a wonderful dining experience in this cozy, dimly lit steakhouse. After running around through a literal downpour of rain for much of the evening, it was so relaxing and rejuvenating to sit down for an hour and enjoy some truly delicious food. Some of the highlights: cheddar cheese soup (their signature dish), filet mignon with mushroom risotto, and house-made raspberry and lemon sorbet.


Friday, December 15

  • Lunch: Pizzafari (a counter service restaurant at Animal Kingdom) – This colorful, fun restaurant is very much in keeping with the animal theme, with its butterfly chairs and its cheerful tribal music. The food was pretty good here (I had an Italian sandwich, a salad, and a frozen strawberry lemonade cup), and we continued our outdoor eating trend. Eating outdoors was definitely the way to go, since the echoes of pizza-eating children bounced off all the walls in a cacaphony of noise inside.

Lunch at Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom: (click thumbnail for larger view)
Lunch at Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom

  • Dinner: Coral Reef (a table service restaurant in the Living Seas area of Epcot) – The main draw of this seafood restaurant is its wall to wall, floor to ceiling aquarium. It did create quite a relaxing dining experience. We saw schools of colorful fish, a sea turtle, a shark, and some sting rays swimming past while we ate our dinner. However, if you are looking for excellent seafood, you have to look elsewhere. It seems that the restaurant spends more time creating the unique underwater ambience than on preparing their dishes. The food wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t as memorable as some of the other restaurants’ selections were. Our dinner consisted of crab claws and lobster bisque (appetizers), blackened catfish and pan seared tuna (entrees), and butterscotch crème brulee and cheesecake (dessert). Of all the items, the one that stood out was the lobster bisque.


Saturday, December 16

  • Lunch: Pinocchio Village Haus (a counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland) – This is my favorite place to eat in the Magic Kingdom. We ate here twice, once for a snack, and then for this lunch, which consisted of surprisingly good veggie pizza and some delicious chocolate cannoli. Both times we sat upstairs on the outdoors balcony. From there, you can really enjoy the sounds of this area of the park. We watched Cinderella’s Carousel and the Dumbo ride’s many flying elephants, but we were far enough away from it all that we could enjoy our conversations. The activity from below was more like background noise. The indoor seating at Pinocchio Haus is equally inviting. There are different rooms and levels, all with their own benefits and points of interest. I still remember sitting in the area that has a window overlooking It’s a Small World, when my family went to Disney World in 1985! So, yes, I have a sentimental attachment to this little German-style eatery, but I don’t see how anyone could walk in and not love it.

Lunch on the balcony of Pinnochio Haus: (click thumbnail for larger view)

Lunch on the balcony of Pinnochio Haus in the Magic Kingdom

  • Dinner: Les Chefs de France (a table-service restaurant located in the France area of Epcot’s World Showcase) – Although we spent the afternoon at MGM Studios, we decided to have a late dinner at Epcot rather than eat at MGM. (From all of my research, I found that the restaurants at MGM pale in comparison to all that Epcot offers). So, we stayed at MGM long enough to experience Fantasmic and then hopped on a bus to Epcot. This required a lot of walking, but that helped us work up an appetite for the huge meal we were about to eat. Les Chefs de France had a nice atmosphere, and our server was very friendly. We were glad to learn from him that all the servers at the restaurant were recruited from the original restaurant in France. This lended an air of authenticity to the atmosphere and the food. And what delicious food it was! Our appetizers were french onion soup topped with gruyere cheese – delicious! – and a plate of assorted cheeses, our entrees were perch and beef tenderloin (so tender and flavorful that even now my mouth waters to think about it), and our desserts were a chocolate tarte and crème brulee. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, but especially to couples dining without children. (The tables are quite close to each other, so for that and other reasons, it isn’t the most kid-friendly restaurant). An added bonus to our late dinner was that we were able to watch the beginning of Illuminations from our table. Since it was our third night to see the spectacle (by the way, it was by far my favorite of the firework/light shows at Disney), we walked out of the park after finishing our dessert rather than staying to watch the end.


Sunday, December 17

  • Lunch: Snacks at MGM Studios – Since we were running out of meal options (after using two counter service meals on our first night and doubling up on our table service meals to eat at California Grill – see below), we decided to skip lunch and instead just picked up snacks as we made our way through MGM. MGM is my least favorite of the four main parks, and I can say the same of the food it offers.
  • Dinner: California Grill (a Disney signature restaurant, which means that we each had to use two of our table service credits to eat here. It was well worth it!) – This was by far our most memorable dining experience. Located atop the Contemporary Resort, California Grill was excellent in every way – the food, the service, and the views. I could gush about it for pages, but I will try to contain my enthusiasm. First of all, this was our anniversary dinner (the whole purpose of our trip was to celebrate our five-year anniversary – any excuse to go to Disney World, right?). One of the perks of going through a travel agent (we used Small World Vacations), is that our agent made all of our dinner reservations for us, and let them know that this was an anniversary trip. So, shortly after we were seated in the smaller, quieter, and therefore more romantic Wine Room (we requested to be seated in there when we arrived), our waiter brought us complimentary champagne and wished us a happy anniversary. That was a very welcoming way to start our meal. From there we enjoyed an array of delicious and beautifully presented culinary masterpieces: big and flavorful sushi for an appetizer, lamb and scallops for entrees, and a cheese plate and a banana/butterscotch custard creation for dessert. We were there for two hours, and our server never rushed us. We took our wine out to the observation deck to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks, and it was very impressive from up there. Once back at our table and eating dessert, we were able to watch the Epcot Illuminations show. That was the 4th time we’d seen it, but from a different vantage point. One final word of praise for our California Grill experience was our mode of transportation. We rode a small boat to and from the Contemporary Resort from the dock at Wilderness Lodge. It was quick, easy, and once again, relaxing! Who knew that Disney World could be such a relaxing place?


Monday, December 18

  • Lunch: Tusker House (a counter-service restaurant located in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom – very close to the Safari ride) – This was our final meal at Disney World. 😦 I honestly can’t remember what I ate. Perhaps a turkey wrap and some corn chowder? The food seemed to be a bit healthier than at other places in Animal Kingdom, but there was nothing too special about it. We preferred Pizzafari over Tusker House. But the African village feel of this restaurant and the surrounding area made it a fun place to dine.

After a few hours in Epcot that afternoon, it was time to take our shuttle to the airport to head home. Needless to say, our dinner at the Orlando Airport Chili’s was less than impressive after all the excellent food we enjoyed at Disney World.


Final Thoughts

I hope that some of you reading this were reminded of your own dining experiences at Disney World, or for those of you trying to decide where to eat on your upcoming Disney vacation, that you are able to narrow down your many choices based on this information. Here are a few final words of advice based solely on my dining experiences in December 2006:

  • Best Restaurant: California Grill
  • Least Impressive Restaurant: Coral Reef
  • Best Snack in Magic Kingdom: cream-cheese filled sugar-cinnamon pretzel
  • Best Snack in Epcot (that is covered by the Dining Plan – most of the World Showcase food is not): Apple streudels and coffee, or pretzels and beer, in Germany. (Nice atmosphere, too.)


Bottom Line: If you are going to Disney World without children you should highly consider taking advantage of the Disney Dining Plan. No amount of food is too much for a Disney-sized appetite, and you will get to sample all kinds of different cuisine. If you have two or more children, you may want to consider more economical dining options. Whatever you decide, I am sure you will have a fantastic time!

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Now Playing on a TiVo Near… Me June 22, 2007

Filed under: Television,Tivo — Emily @ 8:21 am

You can tell a lot about a person by the car he or she drives, the clothes and shoes he or she wears, the hobbies he or she chooses… There are many sayings similar to these that suggest much can be read into someone’s personality or character by examining the things that are important to him or her. With the rising popularity of the DVR, and the adoration that DVR owners have for them (just google the phrase “I love my tivo” and you’ll see what I mean), I’d like to add another wise saying to the pile: You can tell a lot about a person by what is on his or her TiVo Now Playing list.

I present for your analysis, the five most recently recorded items on my Now Playing list, as well as the five oldest items (the bottom of the barrel, so to speak). I think this is an especially interesting undertaking during the summer, since from June to September the television landscape borders on a wasteland of “funniest pets and people specials” and appalling dating shows. Viewers must look beneath the surface and sift through the reality garbage to give their TiVo something worthwhile to record, so it won’t feel neglected (or insulted).

Most Recent Items on My Now Playing List

  1. So You Think You Can Dance (Recorded Wednesday, June 20 on Fox) – I have already watched this episode of my favorite summer diversion – check out my enthusiasm for it by clicking on the So You Think You Can Dance category on the right-side of this page – but I am holding on to it in case I decide to watch some of my favorite performances again. This is a recurring habit for me – holding on to a show I’ve already watched “just in case.” I will probably delete it once next week’s episode has aired, because then I will have a new batch of “just in case” performances to garner my attention.
  2. Superman: The Movie (Recorded Saturday, June 16 on Ion) – Last summer, before I went to the theater to see Superman Returns, I searched the tv listings in hopes that I could record and watch at least one of the previous Superman movies, to remind myself what I liked about them. Unfortunately, none of them were airing at the time. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because Superman Returns was so lackluster that watching one of the “classic” movies in the series would have only made the new one seem much worse. Now, a year later, I am ready to sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a Coke to watch the movie that started it all. I am sure that when I watch it, I will be flooded with memories from childhood of watching Superman and Lois Lane fly around Metropolis, Lex Luthor sneak around in his subterranean lair, and Clark Kent bumble around the Daily Planet. Should be fun!
  3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 3 episode “Amends” recorded Wednesday, June 13 on FX) – I recently rewatched this entire series on FX. For some reason FX skipped a handful of episodes during this time period. “Amends” was one of them, and I was especially interested in watching it because it introduced something called The First Evil that later played a pivotal role in the final season. This time around I made sure to record it. By the way, Buffy is one of my all-time favorite shows, so it’s really no surprise to find an episode of it lingering on my TiVo. To see my top ten favorite episodes of the series, click here.
  4. Fan’s Guide: Walt Disney World (recorded Tuesday, June 12 on the Travel Channel) – So I am kind of obsessed with Disney World. My huband and I went there last December to celebrate our wedding anniversary (that was our excuse for going, anyway), and we had a fantastic time. Ever since, I have wanted to go back so badly that I had to create a Wishlist item on my TiVo to record anything Disney-related to whet my appetite. This Fan Guide episode is the latest Disney show to air, and apparently it shows “how to make the most of a Disney vacation.” If you think Disney World is just for kids, think again, and consider going there on your next trip. Oh, and stay at the Wilderness Lodge!
  5. Batman Returns (recorded Saturday, June 9 on TCM) – In addition to my Disney World obsession, I am kind of in love with Christian Bale (ever since Newsies). Seeing him in Batman Begins (he’s the best Batman ever!) renewed my interest in the previous installments of the Batman movies. I watched the 1989 Batman about a year ago, and now I have finally gotten around to recording this one. I should also note that I am a collector of penguin-related items, anything from stuffed animals to socks to jewelry (weird, I know). That gives me two reasons to watch this movie: 1) To see how Michael Keaton compares to Christian Bale as Batman, and 2) To see Danny DeVito’s campy (and kind of gross) portrayal of The Penguin.

Oldest Items on My Now Playing List – I should comment here that for something to be at the end of my Now Playing list means that I either can’t bear the thought of deleting it, or that I’ve never been in the mood to watch it. The items from below are listed from very last to 4th from last.

  1. Arrested Development (the final four episodes of the series, which aired back to back to back to back on Friday, February 10 2006 on Fox) – I loved this show! It’s also on my all-time favorite shows list. So how could I part with the final installments of it? I distinctly remember that these episodes were aired at the same time as the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics. How rude of Fox! I haven’t actually watched these episodes since they originally aired, but thanks to my TiVo, if I wanted to I could.
  2. Everwood (the final two episodes of the series, which aired on Monday, June 5 2006 on the WB) – This was another show that I absolutely loved (I’ve finally found a family drama replacement for it in Friday Night Lights), so of course I couldn’t delete the final two episodes! Just as Fox mistreated Arrested Development, the WB’s decision to air the Everwood finale in June, after the regular tv season was over, was one of its rudest as well as one of its final acts before becoming the silly CW Network. On a side note, now that the CW has cancelled Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, it’s not even on my radar anymore.
  3. Modern Marvels (An episode about coffee recorded January 1, 2007 on the History Channel) – I love coffee, so of course I am interested in a show that covers this beverage’s 1,000 year history, starting with its origins in Ethiopia. I guess, though, that I’ve been too busy drinking coffee to actually sit down and watch this one. Eventually I’ll get around to it.
  4. About a Boy (Recorded February 1, 2007 on USA) – This movie starring Hugh Grant and Toni Collette is one of my favorites. I had seen it before I tivo’d it, but wanted to watch it again sometime. I haven’t yet, but when I do I know I’ll enjoy it.
  5. Cinema Paradiso (Recorded February 4, 2007 on TCM) – I’ve never seen this award-winning movie from 1988, but was impressed by its 4-star rating. Also, I can relate to its general premise about a boy discovering the joy of movie-watching – I also take joy in savoring a good film. I have a feeling I will watch this one on a rainy night when I can settle down with a blanket and a hot cup of tea. Seems to fit.

So there you have it. What do you make of me now?