Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Eclipse: A Love Triangle with Bite October 26, 2008

Well, a month has passed since I reviewed New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series. Once again, it took me far longer than most people to read the third installment, Eclipse. I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed it! I will frame this review in terms of how this book was a vast improvement over the previous one.

Bella

  • In both Twilight and New Moon, Bella was self centered and extremely annoying. She still had her moments in Eclipse, but mostly she started to grow up and act more mature.
  • Most importantly, she finally developed a conscience. Despite having strong feelings for Jacob, she realized that she would always choose Edward over him, and so most of her actions were based on that truth.

Bella and Edward

  • There was very little interaction between these two in New Moon, since Edward was off running around in the woods of North America trying to forget Bella while she was stoically going through the motions of high school while secretly pining away for him and being miserable.
  • There were more than enough Bella/Edward scenes in Eclipse. We had nostalgic conversations about Edward’s past, serious discussions about things like marriage and becoming a vampire, and plenty of cuddling and kissing. It was nice to see them as a relatively normal couple, going through disagreements, standing by each other during tough times, and often finding that their thoughts and feelings mirrored one another’s.
  • Thank goodness that Stephenie Meyer finally spared us the excessive praise that Bella as narrator previously lavished upon Edward. (I couldn’t believe how perfect he was, etc.)

Bella and Jacob

  • At times, Jacob’s aggressive tactics for wooing (is that a word anyone uses anymore – probably not, but you know what I mean) Bella were annoying and overbearing, but I guess that was the point. Jacob is the young, fiery werewolf to Edward’s experienced, play-it-cool vampire.
  • Jacob has come a long way from the annoying kid in Book 1. I count him as one of my favorite characters in the series. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy: unrequited love, a life of servitude to his tribe, the need to tie a change of clothes to his ankle (for the inevitable next time that he changes forms and shreds his other clothes to pieces), etc.

The Cullens

  • We still don’t know a whole lot about them, but I do like that each of their “how I became a vampire” stories is being revealed over time. Each one is interesting, unique, and sad, making me more sympathetic to them (as opposed to seeing them simply as a one-dimensional character).

The Pack

  • It was a small but surprising twist to learn that the pack had grown, when more wolves than expected showed up at the meeting with the Cullens.
  • I like the way the pack can hear each others’ thoughts, and how they use that ability as a tool during hunts and battles.

The Cullens and the Pack

  • The joining of these two rival sides and sworn enemies made for an exciting climax to the book!
  • It was intriguing and somewhat horrifying to finally witness what the wolves and the vampires were capable of, in terms of violence, strength, and speed.
  • I wonder if we will hear anymore about the consequences of Bella witnessing Edward’s brutal slaying of his opponents. It’s not every day you see your boyfriend decapitate someone by “lightly brushing his lips against their neck.” It seems like that would require more than a simple “I’m fine” as a response.

The Big Reveal

  • I must admit, I was kept guessing about who was behind the planned attack on Bella. I wasn’t sure who was training the newborns, and how that was connected to confrontations the gang had had in the past. I was happy with who the big bad enemy was, and with how it was revealed. There was plenty of tension and excitement to be had, which is much more than can be said about New Moon, which garnered no more than a “huh” from me.

What’s Next

  • I foresee some eye rolling on my part during the wedding festivities in Breaking Dawn, but I am highly curious to learn if and when Bella will be changed, and even more so, how it will change her.
  • What will become of Jacob? I will be very sad if we never learn more about him than what we were given in the epilogue of Eclipse.
  • I am still troubled by the idea of Bella having to leave everything she has ever known behind (namely Charlie and Renee), when she gives up her human life. But, I suppose she loves Edward more than either of them, so the choice to be with him forever at the expense of her parent-child relationships must be a fair trade-off for her.

Bottom Line: Eclipse has been my favorite book of the series so far. I have very few complaints. My main complaint is actually unrelated to the plot. Did anyone else notice the ridiculous number of typos in the book? The book must have been rushed through editing to get it published sooner – either that or they need to hire some new proofreaders. I found this very annoying. I can’t remember ever reading a book with so many glaring simple errors (“that” instead of “than,” “the” instead of “they,” etc.).

But anyway, I’d give the book an A. Good romance. Good adventure. Good suspense. Good twists. I am glad that I pressed on through the murk and mire of New Moon so that I could enjoy Eclipse.

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Most Bizarre Romantic Movie Montage Ever October 22, 2008

Filed under: Movies,Music,Videos — Emily @ 9:54 am
Tags: ,

Have you ever seen the movie Bride and Prejudice? It is a very entertaining Bollywood movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Not only does it transfer the characters and plot of the 19th century novel into a modern setting, but it places it in Indian culture. The result is a colorful, fun, and often amusing movie.

In the second half of the movie, Lalita (aka Elizabeth Bennett) travels to Los Angeles to visit a friend, and while there she and American William Darcy grow closer and continue falling in love. No scene better demonstrates the strange meshing of American and Indian culture that the movie possesses than the romantic montage that summarizes Lalita and Darcy’s time together in the U.S.

The first half is pretty standard, cheesy love montage stuff: staring across the dinner table, dancing around in a fountain, taking a tour of famous landmarks. The second half of the montage is where things take a bizarre turn. Imagine a beach scene, only instead of the usual shots of the couple running through the waves hand in hand, we get a full gospel choir, surfers swaying with their boards, and lifeguards doing background vocals. The montage ends in disturbing fashion, with the legions of robed choir members encircling and closing in on the seemingly oblivious couple. Yes, it is very strange. Is that what American culture boils down to? Gospel choirs, surfers, and lifeguards?

Despite the strange and humorous content of the movie, and this scene in particular, the movie is highly entertaining and well worth viewing, especially if you like musicals. There is plenty of singing and dancing to enjoy. This romantic montage will give you a taste of what the movie has to offer:

If you are interested in more fun movie montage resources, check out this article at cracked.com: “The ’80s Movie Montage Hall of Fame.”

 

TV Week in Review: October 13-17 October 18, 2008

Like last week, this week supplied plenty of new episodic television to watch. Read on for my thoughts, posted in chronological order, about the shows I tuned in to. Scroll down for the first ever poll on Eclaire Fare, and look for more to come. (This is a new feature that WordPress just added.)

  • How I Met Your Mother – I thought last week’s episode (in which the gang went to see Stella in New Jersey) was one of the best in awhile, so this one was mediocre by comparison. The variety of interventions that Ted, Lily, Marshall, et al have staged over the years was slightly amusing, but I was left a little confused by the end of the episode about what everyone had decided to do. Maybe that was the point. Based on the “one year later” ending, it looks like Robin didn’t take the job in Japan, and Ted didn’t move to New Jersey. Barney dressing up as “old man Barney” to pick up girls was pretty funny, only because Neil Patrick Harris is so great at portraying his character’s shameless manipulation and seeming lack of a conscious. (In real life people like that make me sad, so I wonder why it is funny on this show.)
  • Heroes – After last week’s lackluster episode, I was about ready to cancel my Season Pass to this show. However, I must say that this week’s installment has compelled me to keep watching. It was, by far, the best episode of the season. We didn’t have any of that nonsense with Peter jumping around in the future, or Matt wandering around in the desert. I found both of those stories, with Matt’s visions and Peter’s experiences in the future, very distracting, and felt that they convoluted the plot too much (i.e., at what point does the future change when something else happens in the present, and then what happens to the future versions of the characters). I am intrigued by the revelation that Daphne and Nathan’s spirit guide is not Linderman, but is in fact Matt Parkman’s father. (If you don’t remember, Mr. Parkman’s ability is that he can make people experience things that aren’t really there, as well as read their minds.) And I was further intrigued by the twist that followed – that Mr. Parkman is working for Mr. Petrelli, Nathan and Peter’s supposedly deceased father. He doesn’t look like he is in very good health, judging from his inability to speak (verbally at least) and his being bedridden. But he must be of sound mind since he is rounding up an army of formidable heroes, including Daphne, Matt, Hiro, and Adam (yay!). To what end? And who will they be fighting against? Perhaps Mr. Petrelli isn’t too happy with the way things ended between him and Mrs. Petrelli, or maybe he wants to regain control of The Company. That’s what her vision of the future suggested. I could say more, but suffice to say there is suddenly plenty of rich material for the writers to develop, and even better, it’s starting to make sense! Now if we could just bypass the silly puppet man story. I’d imagine that will only serve as a time filler next week, when we could be learning more information about the more interesting characters: Mohinder going all “Dr. Frankenstein meets mutant spider man,” Hiro stabbing Ando with a sword (I’m guessing he’ll teleport back in time to right that wrong), and Sylar trying to rehabilitate.
  • My Own Worst Enemy – I’ve already devote a separate post to this new show. To read my (mostly) positive review of it, click here.
  • The Mentalist – This was only the second episode of this show that I have seen. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the pilot. Mostly my waning interest was due to the clan of teenage suspects in the murder investigation of a surfer girl who washed ashore. (Didn’t that happen on Bones just a couple of weeks ago?) I tend to roll my eyes whenever television writers decide to make honor roll, Ivy League bound teenagers into (surprise!) remorseless killers. There is usually very little explanation for why the kids turn suddenly violent and psychotic. In this case, “she was gonna tell it” doesn’t cut it for me. So, my problem was with the particular case of the week, but I was still interested in Simon Baker’s character and his powers of observation. Patrick Jane is a quirky, very likable character. It was fun to watch him hang around the beach and draw everyone’s attention with his elaborate sand castle. What appeared to some to be him avoiding work was actually his way of collecting evidence. His trick of finding his co-worker’s hidden car keys was also entertaining. Is Baker enough reason to watch the show? For now he is. I’m interested to see if the supporting characters will be developed anymore. This week we learned that Teresa (Robin Tunney) dealt with her mother’s death and her father’s alcoholism as a child, and she had to deal with her emotions when the case they were working on involved a similar situation. So far, though, the other characters are little more than one-dimensional stereotypes whose sole purpose is to give Patrick Jane someone to impress and, at times, annoy. I’ll reserve my verdict until the show has had a chance to establish itself.
  • Fringe – This episode began with a frightening scene of a falling elevator (hmmm, that happened on Bones recently, too), caused by the electromagnetically charged guy who was riding on it. Agent Dunham and team commenced figuring out who was responsible and finding him before mad scientist Dr. Fisher could do more painful experiments on him. I felt sorry for this guy. He only responded to the ad because he needed more self confidence (that was certainly true), and he ended up unconsciously controlling all the electronics around him. I loved that we heard R.E.O. Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” not once, but twice, in this episode. Great ’80s song, and very appropriate for setting the tone here. We also received some answers about why Agent Dunham keeps seeing the presumed dead John Scott. According to Walter, during their previous experimental procedure, part of John’s consciousness crossed over into her’s, and the visions are her mind’s way of making sense of the “intruder,” since there is only room for one set of thoughts in her brain. Like all the “explanations” on this show, this one is a little hokie, but I’ll take it. I must say that I like Dunham more after this episode. Her interactions with John, her discovery of the engagement ring he had planned to give her, and her working through her grief and confusion all humanized her – something that had been lacking in previous episodes, in which she seemed too mechanical and stoic. I continue to be impressed by this show’s unique mix of humor, horror, conspiracy, and suspense. I loved the scene in which Walter rubbed his wool slippers on the carpet so he could shock Peter. At first I thought he was dancing to some music in his head, so when I saw that he was revving up for a demonstration of electromagnetic charge, I was surprised and amused. I only wish we had seen more of Peter in this episode. Maybe next week.
  • The Office – This was one of those downer episodes for me, with its focus on Michael’s sad personal life. (He wants to be a father, but Jan keeps pushing him away from his involvement with her child, and meanwhile his attachment to Jan is a deterrent to him moving on with a new relationship). But it did have its moments. Let me break it down a little. Funny: Andy mistakingly pegging Phyllis’ baby picture as Angela’s, and then telling Angela she was “being mean” (thinking she was being sarcastic) when she pointed out the funny looking picture that was actually hers. Awkward: Jan showing up for the baby shower with Astrid, when Michael had assumed she would call him to attend the birth. This was classic Michael/Jan dysfunction. Not funny: The “Dwight tests the $1200 stroller” story. It was too over the top, even by this show’s standards. Maybe it just pains me to see someone destroying brand new baby gear since it wasn’t too long ago that I went through that stressful buying process. Realistic: Jim and Pam having an “off day.” Of course this couple would have some hard times while they are doing the long distance thing. It was sweet to see their voice mail conversation at the end, though, when they might as well have been chatting with each other, they were so in sync. Sweet: The big hug that Michael gave Holly after Jan left. Holly’s tears were understandable, after how mean Michael was to her so as “to not offend” Jan. Good for him, though, for ignoring Jan’s out of place request that he not date Holly, and asking her out anyway.
  • Life on Mars – I am loving this show, particularly the clothing, the music, and the whimsical tone. Maybe not whimsical like Pushing Daisies, but it definitely has a more carefree, cheerful feel than other cop shows. Instead of everything being edgy and grimy, we get a suspect running out of a swimming club in a speedo, with Sam Tyler and his colleages chasing him down while decked out in similar swim gear, while fun and funky 70s music plays in the background. My favorite song this week was Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock,” which is both era-appropriate and thematically relevant, since Sam is trying to process everything on his own while everyone he knows is far away in another time and place. So it was nice to see him befriended by his hippie neighbor, who brought him lasagna sprinkled with her special ingredient (a little mary jane), and insisted that he dance with her. I am also surprised that I like Harvey Keitel in this show, since I have been disturbed by the very sight of him ever since I saw him in The Piano (picture him polishing a piano, completely naked – enough said). His character is a nice blend of political incorrectness, father figure in the department, and wise cracking tough guy. I’m not sure what to think of the little robot gizmo that kept showing up and giving Sam flashes of his life in 2008. That’s pretty bizarre, but I like that about this show.

The only show I haven’t watched yet this week is CSI. Well, I am also three episodes behind on Pushing Daisies. I’m not sure if I’ll ever catch up with it.

* If you answer the poll question below and choose “other,” please post which show was your favorite in the comments section so I’ll know what else I should be watching.

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My Own Worst Enemy Piques My Interest October 15, 2008

I started watching NBC’s new spy drama My Own Worst Enemy with low expectations, so maybe that’s why I was mildly impressed by the time the credits rolled.

But before I talk about the show, I need to back up a bit. Let’s go back to 1989, which is when I first saw Christian Slater. He played opposite Winona Ryder in the dark comedy Heathers. A few years later, I made it my quest to see every Christian Slater movie (he was quite the early 90s heartthrob). He wasn’t necessarily in many high-quality films, but I have fond memories of his work in Pump Up the Volume, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Kuffs, Untamed Heart, True Romance, and Interview with the Vampire. His distinctive looks and his wry, witty demeanor had him in high demand.

But then something happened. By the mid to late 90s, his status as a heartthrob was apparently waning, and he turned to bad action movies like Broken Arrow and Hard Rain. His filmography hasn’t improved much in the 2000s (let’s pretend Alone in the Dark never happened), but he has redeemed himself somewhat with his television appearances on The West Wing and Alias. So, the main reason I decided to check out My Own Worst Enemy was to not only support my one-time movie star crush, but to see if he could find more success on the small screen.

Now we can get back to the pilot episode of My Own Worst Enemy. I wonder if the casting director thought of Christian Slater for the dual role of Edward Albright/Henry Spivey after seeing him on Alias. After all, his guest starring role on that fun spy drama was a good fit for him. Unfortunately, the opening scene played out like a poorly done parody of of one of Sydney Bristow’s international missions: the generic pillow talk between Edward and his spy contact “with benefits,” the predictable “that’s not me sleeping in the bed – it’s a pillow” development, and the fake looking Eiffel Tower backdrop. The whole situation just felt forced. My outlook didn’t improve for the next 20 minutes, as I observed what appeared to be more Alias ripoffs. Mysterious elevator that transports unsuspecting employees to a subterranean top-secret spy headquarters? Check. Geeky tech guy who is almost too socially awkward to do his job (a la Marshall)? Check. Lightning fast trips to Russia and back in less than a day, with none of that pesky jet lag? Check. I was starting to wonder if I should even finish out the episode.

But then, after all the necessary set up and establishment of characters, things got more interesting. My Own Worst Enemy may borrow some tricks from Alias’s espionage bag, but it isn’t a carbon copy. The new twist that Enemy brings? Slater’s character, Edward, voluntarily entered a U.S. spy program in which he was given a split personality. Thus, when he was 20 years old, the organization created Henry, a friendly, devoted, decidedly normal guy. For the next two decades, while Edward was out killing people, keeping secrets, and further feeding his psychotic tendencies, Henry got married, had two kids, and settled into an unexciting desk job that required a fair amount of traveling.

The show picks up the story when Henry/Edward is 39, and suddenly, with no clear explanation, his brain short circuits, and Henry becomes aware of Edward’s existence. The second half of the episode took this idea and ran with it, resulting in many creative, surprising, and entertaining developments. Based on my assessment of the first episode, I think I can say with confidence that this show has a lot of potential. Christian Slater has been given an interesting character to work with. Not only does he play two distinct personalities (a smart but loose cannon vs. a naive but dedicated family guy), but he will also play each of those characters imitating the other from time to time. That sounds like it would be a lot of fun for an actor.

The split personality motif also creates a rich subtext for complicated storylines. The audience has much to learn: What happened in Edward’s past that made him want to become a split personality spy? If Henry’s persona was created by the government, how can he come to terms with the life he has created? Will Henry and Edward work together (communicating through videos that they send to each other) to advance their own agenda, or will they try to outmaneuver each other? What secrets is Edward hiding from everyone?

For now, I plan to continue watching. The basic premise, as of now, is that the spy organization (didn’t catch the name), Edward, and Henry all know of each other’s existence, and they are all trying to use that to their respective advantages. I’d expect much spy intrigue and complicated domestic life to ensue.

The supporting cast includes Madchen Amick (she’ll always be Shelly Johnson from Twin Peaks to me) as Henry’s cheerful, supportive, clueless wife Angie. So far her character has been pretty stereotypical. There is also Alfre Woodard as Edward’s boss Mavis. She seems well cast for that role. So far Henry’s two children have been painful to watch, probably due to weak scriptwriting for the family scenes, but it is worth noting that the son is played by Taylor Lautner, who will be playing Jacob Black in the upcoming Twilight movie. This is the first I’ve seen of the actor, and he seems well cast for the first installment of Twilight, based on his appearance, but I’m not sure how he will be playing Jacob in future movie versions of the books, after Jacob goes through his “growth spurt.”

So, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. Certainly, it had its poorly executed or overdone moments (such as the slow motion scene with uber-dramatic music when Henry was being led out of a hostile environment), but overall I am intrigued enough to tune in again next week. In case you missed the premiere, it will re-air Friday on SciFi and Saturday on NBC. Let me know what you think.

 

Iron Man Lives Up to Its Name

Filed under: Movies — Emily @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , ,

When I first heard that Robert Downey, Jr. had been cast in a super hero role, I was quite skeptical. I love RDJ, but he’s more romantic lead (see Only You) or wisecracking sidekick (see Zodiac or Good Night, and Good Luck) than bold and buff hero material. Now that I’ve watched Iron Man, I must say that I was impressed. Although I applaud Downey for his always impressive work, credit also goes to the screenplay writers, for giving him such rich material to work with. Most comic book movies are more flash and less substance. I’m not saying that Iron Man was deep, Oscar-worthy material, but we did get some interesting character development for Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Warning: I divulge quite a bit of the plot ahead, particularly the beginning of the movie, so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, read on at your own risk.

Tony starts out as a rich, carefree, irresponsible playboy, ditching an awards banquet to gamble, and having an endless supply of fast cars to occupy his time. However, he is a likable, endearing guy as well, and is always the life of the party. He wins over everyone from the beautiful and initially hostile reporter (who quickly ends up in his bed) to the uptight, all business military man (who ends up drunk and high-spirited).

Tony’s outlook on life, and on his weapons company, changes when he finds himself in a dire situation. After being seriously injured, abducted, and ordered to build a destructive weapon, he uses his genius, creativity, and will to survive to escape his captors. How? First he and his fellow inmate create some sort of glowing magnet that will keep him alive after the life-threatening injury he sustained (that’s a good enough explanation for me), and then they proceed to build a super cool suit instead of the missile they were supposed to be working on. The movie really picked up speed about the time Stark first dons his high tech armor, and it never let up after that.

The passage of time was difficult to follow during the movie (his three months of captivity seemed more like a few days), but that’s a small complaint in a movie that never had a dull moment. Another of the less enjoyable aspects of the movie was the occasional cheesy moment, but what’s an action movie without a few of these? I was a bit disturbed to see the normally goofy Jeff Bridges as the sinister Obadiah Stane, but I hardly recognized him with his bald head and frizzy beard. The other main character was Tony’s personal assistant, Pepper Potts (what a great name, as are all the character names in this movie! Plus, it was nice to see Gwyneth Paltrow again – it’s been awhile.). Tony’s interaction with Pepper is what allows us to see his more likable side.

The most impressive part of the movie? Iron Man! I’m usually only mildly impressed by gadgets and super hero suits, since I’m more interested in characters and plot, but what else can I say but that Iron Man was super cool? From the impenetrable suit to the flame throwers, to the super sonic flying ability, I was basically mesmerized by Tony Stark’s genius creation. It was also fun to see the evil Iron Giant that Stane’s team came up with. The iron on iron fight in the streets and on the rooftop was rather legendary.

I also liked that the movie ended differently than most super hero movies. Usually, our hero saves the day, then continues to wear his mask to hide his true identity, but as a bonus he gets the girl. This movie flirted with both of those stereotypical super hero motifs, but ultimately went in a different direction.

So, was it a four star movie? No, not really. Was it entertaining? Most definitely. Fantastic special effects? Certainly. Everything it promised to be? You bet. I must say, that Robert Downey, Jr. can do no wrong.

 

TV Week in Review: October 6-10 October 12, 2008

It took me until Saturday night, but I managed to catch up on all my tv viewing before the week ended. To celebrate this accomplishment, I’ve decided to rank the shows I watched (the individual episodes, not the show overall) in order from best to worst, followed by my assessment of the episodes.

1. The Office – Best show of the week. This was another great episode of my second favorite comedy (only 30 Rock can beat it), and I was glad to welcome back the half hour time frame. Best moments: Jim recording Dwight’s personal time with a stop watch, Jim taunting Dwight with a horribly ill-informed discussion of Battlestar Galactica with Andy, Dwight looking knowingly at the camera when Jim concluded that Dwight does take personal time during office hours (as the audience and Phyllis know too well, Dwight steals company time with Angela in the supply room). I also enjoyed the staff’s confessions of ethically questionable workday activities, and Michael’s continued awkward flirtation with Holly. Could anything have been more uncomfortable than when he was trying to talk to her about chastity belts during their lobster lunch? She handles his social faux pas better than anyone else.

2. Life on Mars – I was pleasantly surprised by this new show. The music, the acting, the cultural markers, the story. All of it was very well done. I’m not sure how long this show can continue its “trapped in a time warp/trapped in my head” motif, but for now I am happy to go along for the ride. I am also unfamiliar with the British version from two years ago. A brief summary: Detective Sam Tyler is on his way to rescue his girlfriend from a serial killer when he gets hit by a car. When he wakes up, he is in the same neighborhood, but it is 35 years earlier, in 1973. His clothes, his car, and his surroundings are all 70s style. He doesn’t know if he has time traveled or if this is all in his head, but he decides to play along and solve crimes as long as he is there. It was refreshing to see this new, “old” spin on a crime show. The show runners have done an excellent job invoking the 70s through music, hair, clothing, furniture, etc. Perhaps the most telling aspect of the time difference is the treatment of women. Annie Norris, of the female police squad, is ostracized and not taken seriously by the rest of the police force, despite having a psychology degree and a keen sense of observation. I am interested to see how the show will evolve, or if it will even be given the chance to finish out its season. Based on what I’ve seen, I hope so!

3. CSI – This episode played out as a “requiem for Warrick,” as well as a hunt for his killer. I would have preferred for it to take longer than one episode for the team to discover that the undersheriff was the guilty higher up mole in the department who murdered Warrick to protect himself, but instead they solved the case and tracked him down in a tidy 45 minutes. Stretching the investigation and/or manhunt out over two or three episodes would have given Warrick’s sudden death more impact. As it is now, I feel like “what was the point” since the case was solved so quickly. Perhaps, though, it would have been too painful to watch his teammates mourn his loss and search for justice for more than one episode. Warrick was always one of my favorite characters, and I must admit I teared up (along with Nick, my other favorite) a bit as Grissom eulogized him at the funeral. In this episode we learned that Grissom was like the father that Warrick never had, and that Warrick was fighting for custody of his son, so his son could have someone to look up to the way he looked up to Grissom. It was all strangely touching for a show that’s normally about guns, guts, and guilt. I’d imagine we’ll continue to feel the ramifications of Warrick’s death in the coming weeks, but we’ll also see the team move forward without him. I wonder how Lawrence Fishburne will be introduced onto the show. Maybe Grissom will turn his back on this dark and difficult job and join Sarah in a happier, less stressful life. I’ll be watching to find out.

4. Bones – While I was still entertained, this was my least favorite Bones episode of the season so far. The lab tech of the week was not very interesting (there are already plenty of characters with an overabundance of trivial knowledge on tv, most notably Grissom on CSI). As for the case of the week, I didn’t even recognize the “prodigal son/turned suspect/turned following in his father’s he-she footsteps” until I read it somewhere else. That was David Gallagher, little Simon Camden from that “thank goodness it’s not on anymore” show, 7th Heaven. He was convincing here as the minister to misfits who became part of the investigation into his father’s death. The he/she gender reassignment angle of the episode made for an intriguing mystery as Brennan and Booth put the pieces together. All that to say, there wasn’t anything wrong with this episode – it just wasn’t as outstanding as some of this season has been. I will miss this show very much until it returns later in November. It is my Wednesday night escape!

5. How I Met Your Mother – The “New York is so much better than New Jersey” bit has been done so much on tv that I rolled my eyes when it became clear that was where this episode was going, with the gang throwing a fit about having to go to New Jersey to hang out with Ted’s fiancee Stella. However, the writers did the running joke justice in this case. Marshall’s rant about how he’s a giant man in a city full of small spaces, and how New Jersey is full of mega stores and cup holders and dog t-shirts, was pretty classic. And despite being a suburb dweller myself, I can appreciate the humor in a New Yorker’s distaste for manicured lawns and discount store membership cards. However, it was nice that the episode ended with Ted reading a story to Stella’s daughter in the comfort of her suburban home. There are different benefits for different people to living in the city vs. the suburb. The subplots of Barney begging for a fist bump and Robin quitting her job/riding a bike to get it back/quitting for real were entertaining as well. So overall, this was one of the better episodes of this show lately.

6. Heroes – I’m still not seeing much that makes me want to continue tuning in. The best part of the episode came at the very end when Hiro and Ando freed Adam (David Anders) from the coffin where he had been trapped since the end of last season. How refreshing it was to see David Anders’ beautiful face – not even tainted by his underground captivity – after an episode full of ludicrous developments. Too bad his appearance only lasted a few seconds. Sadly, these few seconds will have me returning next week to see him again.

7. Kath and Kim – It wasn’t like I was awaiting the premiere of this show with fevered anticipation or great expectations, but what an utter disappointment! One word I could use to sum it up: AWKWARD. And not in the good Office way. Molly Shannon and Selma Blair are well cast in their roles as Kath and Kim, so that’s not the problem. The problem is that there are no likable characters on this show, save for perhaps Kim’s on again, off again husband. Kath and Kim are a materialistic, celebrity gossip-obsessed, self-centered mother and daughter. What’s to love there? Kath’s boyfriend, played by mockumentary favorite John Michael Higgins, is funny at times, but mostly – here’s that word again – awkward. I don’t find humor in Kim giving up on her marriage so flippantly, over having to microwave dinner instead of eating out. I’m not expecting a comedy to be a social commentary, but with the disintegration of marriage in American society, it’s not humorous to have Kim’s broken relationship be a running gag. The scenes at the mall were a nice change of pace from a studio lot set, but mall scenes have been done better by a much better comedy: Arrested Development. I don’t think there’s enough story here to keep this mother/daughter duo afloat for very long. Perhaps this type of humor played better for an Australian audience (the current version is a remake of one from that country that lasted for four seasons). Some may find similarities between the type of humor found in Kath and Kim, and that of The Office. The difference: the audience cares about most of the characters on The Office. We want Jim and Pam to get engaged. We want Phyllis to feel good about herself. We want Michael to finally fulfill his dream of being a father. I just don’t care about Kath, Kim, and their men. I don’t plan to watch this one again.
Next week, I look forward to the return of Fringe. So far it is my favorite new show this fall.

 

Heroes: To View or Not to View October 4, 2008

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 12:14 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Heroes has reached near cult status in certain circles, so the question of whether or not to give up on it at the beginning of its third season is probably near-blasphemous to its die-hard fans. However, I can’t be counted among the most faithful viewers. I was ready to quit watching after the first season, but then they had to go and hire David Anders for an ongoing role. I couldn’t abandon my favorite villain (Sark from Alias). So, here I am, posing the same question I did last year around this time: should I stay or should I go? This time around, I have compiled the pros and cons of continuing to watch the show:

Pros

  • David Anders is still on the show – This is really a weak starting point, since he has yet to appear this season. Adam, the eternally young mastermind of ethically questionable deeds, is still trapped in an underground prison, which is where the normally sweet Hiro left him in a particularly disturbing act of revenge at the end of last season. Why take one of the best actors on the show and literally bury his talents? Based on a synopsis of an upcoming episode, he’ll be back on top of the ground soon, but will it be soon enough to hold my attention?
  • The premise is always fascinating – Even before this show aired its first episode, I was highly intrigued by the concept of ordinary people discovering that they have extraordinary abilities, and I looked forward to seeing whether they would use those abilities for good or evil. So my issues are not with the premise, but with the execution of that premise (see my cons list, where I will list my gripes in detail.)
  • There’s nothing better to watch on Monday nights – I despise the so-called comedy of “Two and a Half Men,” I am highly irritated by the hype surrounding Dancing with the Stars, and as I’ve mentioned here before, I gave up on Prison Break long ago. But maybe I should just skip tv-watching on Mondays and read a book instead.

  • Peter and Sylar are interesting characters – It’s hard to wrap my head around these two guys’ abilities. Peter’s ability is that he can absorb any ability; Sylar has the ability to “steal” any ability, and since he stole Peter’s ability, he now can also absorb any ability. Right? Wait, then why does he still cut people’s head’s open? Okay, so the narrative isn’t perfectly clear, but it’s fun to see which talents these two will pull out of their hat when the need arises.
  • The music is pretty cool – I like how the show has maintained the same musical themes since season one. The music has the right blend of mystery, creepiness, and epic.
  • The special effects are impressive – There’s no arguing that the special effects department gets it right on this show. They make all of our heroes’ abilities look real, most notably Hiro’s ability to stop time. Every week the highlights of the episode revolve around what spectacle we behold on the screen, as we wonder how they did it.

Cons

  • There are too many characters – Claire, HRG, Sylar, Peter, Nathan, Hiro, Ando, Nikki, Matt, Mohinder, Mrs. Petrelli, and that annoying kid who manipulates machines. That would be enough right there. Then last year they added Molly (did we really need another annoying kid? At least they’ve shipped her off this season), Maya and her brother, Claire’s boyfriend Peter Pan, Elle and her father, the annoying kid’s “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” cousin (will they bring her up again?), blah blah blah. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of all of them, and usually I don’t even care to. Honestly, I am most interested in Claire, HRG, Sylar, Peter, Hiro, and Ando. I see the others as filler.
  • The plot is too convoluted – I like a show with a complex plot (aka Lost, Battlestar Galactica), but I also appreciate it when a show’s various plots carry over from season to season and have some sort of continuity and/or resolution. I don’t think we get that with Heroes. There’s always some new plot to destroy the world, but usually about the time crisis is (easily) averted, a new plot of destruction is already waiting in the wings. Will we ever have an answer about the future in which Adam’s virus killed most of the population? I assume since the vial was destroyed last season we’re to think that it didn’t happen. But what about Peter’s Irish girlfriend who got trapped in that future? What happened to her? And what about in season one when we saw Sylar as Nathan as President in another future? Was that averted as well? The writers are playing with “the future can be changed” motif too freely, resulting in lackluster plot arcs. If one simple act can readjust a chaotic future, then why should we be so concerned about the latest villain and his evil plans? Currently, we have Hiro and Ando (and another unnecessary new character) chasing after two parts of a dangerous formula that “must be protected at all costs.” That sounds awfully similar to the virus from last season. And then there’s Mohinder working on a formula that would give everyone the ability to develop a special ability. That sounds similar to what happened on The 4400 two seasons ago. Bottom line: there are too many lose ends for my taste.

  • Maya is unbearable – This “don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry and my eyes bleed black gook and kill you” character was by far my least favorite of last season. So I was thrilled when she was presumably killed by Sylar. Unfortunately, she wasn’t really dead, and now we have to suffer through a telenovela-style romance between her and the newly buff, super strong, and scabby Mohinder. I know the introduction of new characters is sometimes necessary to move the plot along, but couldn’t the writers at least make them interesting or likable?
  • There is no finality in death – Most shows use the “is he or isn’t he dead” cliffhanger from time to time, but Heroes abuses this to the extreme. I no longer question whether they’ve really killed someone off; instead, I wonder when we will see them again. Let’s take a look at the characters that have been “killed” on this show, only to show up soon after alive and kicking: Sylar, Peter, Nathan, Nikki, HRG, Maya, etc. I am sure I am forgetting some. Were this limited to the occasional hero, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. One reason superheroes are super is that they aren’t easy to kill – they bounce back. But is it necessary to revive characters that weren’t interesting in the first place? At least, it seems, Nikki actually died in that fiery explosion last season, and this season’s Tracy is one of several clones created by the same doctor. This is bad news for me, though, since I don’t care for Ali Larter’s performance on this show. Apparently, there will be an endless supply of new characters for her to play as the writers get tired of the previous one.
  • Matt Parkman is not an interesting character – The ability to read minds? Interesting. The guy who is able to do this? Not interesting. So far this season, my interest wanes the most when we see Matt on his spirit walk in Africa. It’s even worse than last season when he and Mohinder were playing “my two dads” to little Molly. I liked Greg Grunberg just fine on Alias, and he was perfectly cast way back when on Felicity, but I just don’t find him compelling in this role.
  • The acting (or is it the writing?) is often bad – If I sat down and watched Lost or 24, and then I immediately watched an episode of Heroes, there would be a clear difference in the quality of the acting and writing. Much of the time, I just don’t buy the emotion, fear, intensity, and resolve of these heroes. It’s like they are going through the motions, or reading through the script. If Jack Bauer paid a visit to Peter Petrelli, he would tell the boy to snap out of his daze and toughen up for the fight. The only person who shows genuine determination is HRG. He just may be my favorite character on the show, and he is played perfectly by Jack Coleman.
  • Hiro isn’t as funny as he used to be – During the first season, I appreciated the comic relief that Hiro brought to the otherwise grim landscape. And in season 2, I was mostly interested in Hiro’s story because it involved David Anders’ character. So far in season three, Hiro and Ando’s “follow that formula” hasn’t moved beyond slapstick shtick. The wide-eyed stares, the shoulder shrugs, the offering of popcorn to the silent Haitian when he foiled their escape. You would expect more gusto from a guy who was sadistic enough to bury someone alive.

  • Angela Petrelli isn’t a compelling villain – Season one Mrs. Petrelli was nothing more than Peter and Nathan’s loving mother. Season two we discovered that she was part of the axis of questionable motives. In the season three premiere, it was revealed that she is an evil mastermind who gave up Sylar for adoption and now plans to use his psychotic tendencies to her advantage. I’m not sure we’ve had enough of an explanation to make this leap. For one thing, I would think that Sylar falls somewhere in between Nathan and Peter’s ages. Wouldn’t they have noticed if Mama was walking around pregnant? I’m hoping there will be more to the story.

So, there it is. I came up with six “pros” and eight “cons.” I guess that means I’m leaning toward dropping this show from my weekly must-see list. Maybe I will watch another week or two and see if the season grows on me. But I’m not feeling very compelled. Any enthusiastic fans reading this want to give me some more reasons to stick around?