Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Ten Reasons I Love Parenthood October 19, 2010

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 12:26 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Yes, I love my children, but in this case I’m talking about the NBC drama currently in its sophomore season. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, after I watched the first few episodes, I let the rest of season one pile up on my Tivo, and at one point considered just deleting them all. Being over ten episodes “behind” on a tv show is very intimidating! Thank goodness I decided to give the show another look! I jumped back in at the end of July, and despite being busy having a baby and all, I managed to finish out the first season in just a few weeks. Now I eagerly await each new episode of season two. What’s so great about this show, which is yet another tv adaptation of the 80s movie starring Steve Martin? Let me give you ten reasons:

  1. Lauren Graham – Seeing her on this show makes me realize how much I miss Gilmore Girls. I loved the snarky dialogue, Luke, the overabundance of coffee, etc. Parenthood may not have a Luke, but there is plenty of coffee and clever scriptwriting. Former Lorelai Gilmore is at the heart of this show, playing the family’s underachieving daughter, Sarah Braverman. She’s a single mom to two struggling teenagers, works as a bartender, and can’t seem to maintain a relationship for much longer than the first date. She may have issues, but she’s sure fun to listen to. She often provides the commentary on how ridiculous some of the situations in the Braverman family are. I wonder how the show would have been different if the role had gone to Maura Tierney, as originally planned. I doubt the character would have been as funny and bubbly.
  2. The Adam and Kristina Braverman Family – Adam is the oldest Braverman son, and so everyone turns to him for advice and problem solving. Meanwhile, he and his wife have their hands full at home, with teenage daughter Haddie, and Asperger’s-diagnosed son Max. This family’s conflicts, conversations, and household atmosphere seem very realistic to me. I especially like how the writers handle Max’s Asperger’s syndrome. Aspergers and autism are becoming more common, so it’s good that a network show is dealing with them in what seems to be a realistic way. Haddie is a smartly written character as well. She relies on, is embarrassed by, and is trying to be independent from her family all at once.
  3. Zeek and Camille’s Marriage – I like the way the show handles the patriarch and matriarch’s relationship. They have been married for decades, but have never fully dealt with some major issues. As a result, they separate for awhile, then start going to counseling and trying to heal the parts of their relationship that aren’t working. I love Zeek’s character development: he started out as a stubborn, gruff man who wouldn’t admit anything was wrong. But because he loves his wife, he embraces the new mantra “I see you, I hear you,” starts taking ballroom dance lessons, and begins to see everything he’s been missing about his wife all these years. And Camille is skeptical but appreciative of his efforts. Such a sweet subplot, and it gives Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia something more interesting to work with than simply being the token grandparents doling out their wisdom and life lessons.
  4. The Stay at Home Dad – Taking a more realistic approach than Michael Keaton’s 80s hit Mr. Mom, Parenthood shows us a slice of life where mom (Julia) is the breadwinner (as a lawyer), and dad (Joel) takes care of the homefront and daughter Sydney. This is the least interesting family unit on the show, but it is still a nice change to see a dad dealing with things like play dates and house cleaning. As one would imagine, having a man in the mix of stay at home moms has led to some awkward moments, and some jealousy from Julia.
  5. Crosby and his Houseboat – The youngest of the Braverman clan gives us a taste of the opposite side of the spectrum. While (at least two) of his siblings are living the typical suburban family life, he is living in a cool houseboat, working at a music studio, going to parties, and trying to figure out how to parent the son he just found out he has. His Bohemian attitude and influence on the family add some flavor to the show. I’m not crazy about his girlfriend Jasmine, but they have developed her character a little more, so there’s hope her likability will improve. And their son, Jabbar, is about as cute as a kid can be.
  6. Mae Whitman – I can’t think of a more convincing teen actress on tv today than Whitman. She plays Sarah’s daughter, Amber. Amber is both rebellious and respectful of her mom, has a good head on her shoulders, and learns from her mistakes. Whitman previously played George Michael’s frumpy girlfriend Ann (or as Michael called her, Egg) on Arrested Development, and played another troubled teen on Andre Braugher’s short-lived show Thief. It is refreshing to see a young actress so comfortable and convincing on screen, in a sea full of mediocre young actors (with a few exceptions, of course) on all those CW shows.
  7. The Opening Theme – “May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true, may you always do for others, and let others do for you…” I love this Bob Dylan song – the tune, the lyrics, everything. And it’s the perfect theme song for this show that’s all about parents trying to raise their children well and prepare them for the world. I always watch the opening sequence, both because I enjoy hearing the song and seeing pictures of the cast at different stages of their lives (a la Growing Pains).
  8. The Music – The opening theme isn’t the only song to enjoy on this show. Music plays an integral role in setting the tone – from playful to melancholy to nostalgic, and everything in between. I was pleased to see that there is a Parenthood Season One soundtrack. I love shows and movies that use music to successfully engage the viewers (think Garden State, Elizabethtown, Dawson’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy). There’s also an element of product placement with the music, which is only slightly annoying, since I’m actually interested in knowing who is singing the song. For example, Ray La Montagne’s name has been mentioned more than once, such as when Adam was listening to him on the way to work.
  9. The Braverman house – Zeek and Camille’s house has a lot of character. It’s a big, old house with a large yard, and a guesthouse. Everyone gathers on the patio (surrounded by bountiful flowers and greenery) for family dinners. Every time I see it, I think how nice it would be to have a large house like that with plenty of room for the extended family to hang out.
  10. Jason Katims’ involvement – Sometimes I’ll watch a show just because I respect the person behind the camera. The first two names that come to mind are J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon, but not far behind them is Jason Katims. He is the man who brought us Roswell, Friday Night Lights, and Boston Public, all great shows in their own way. And he writes most of the Parenthood episodes, so I know they will be clever and enjoyable. And in the end, the balance of great writing, smart casting, and convincing acting are what make this show work so well.

If you haven’t checked this show out yet, I encourage you to do so. If you are a late 20s or 30 something family-centered individual like me, you won’t be disappointed!

 

Fall 2010 TV: What I’ll Be Watching September 17, 2010

The 2010-2011 television season officially kicks off next week, and it comes at just the right time for me. We took our time this summer finishing up episodes of our shows from last season, and last week we watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) season three of Dexter. That leaves us with only one week of wondering what to watch before our shows are back. Here’s a look at what I’ll definitely be watching this year, by day of the week (I always check out several new shows’ pilots, so it’s possible I may be adding a couple of shows to this list).

  • Sunday:
    • I won’t be watching anything on Sunday evenings, except maybe the occasional NFL game, if the Saints are playing.
  • Monday:
    • There’s no “must see tv” yet for me on this night. Although I still watch the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother, I lost interest in that show about a season and a half ago. I’ve watched most of the Lone Star pilot, and based on that I don’t think it’s worth investing another hour a week to. I am slightly intrigued by the Hawaii Five-O remake, since it stars Daniel Dae Kim, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the pilot.
  • Tuesday:
    • Glee – This was by far my favorite new show last season, and I can’t wait to hear (and download) more songs, laugh at more of Sue Sylvester’s snarky dialogue, and cheer for the rag tag team of misfit Glee clubbers.
    • Parenthood – I fell in love with this show over the summer. Lauren Graham is the main bright spot, but she is surrounded by an outstanding cast of colorful characters. I’m planning to write a “Why You Should Watch Parenthood” post pretty soon, so I’ll save most of my praise for that. Let me just say that the sub plots featured each week on this show seem like pretty realistic depictions of the situations families find themselves facing every day. Since I’m right in the middle of suburban family life, am in my early 30s, and have two kids, I suppose I am part of the target audience, and I’m enjoying every minute of this show that caters to me. Thanks, NBC!
  • Wednesday
    • Modern Family – It’s no surprise that I’m also a fan of this other new family show from last season. I was pleased to see it win so many Emmy’s this year – it is very much deserving. I laugh just as much at this show as I do at any of the other comedies I watch (there are several of them). I love how it finds humor in typical family situations, like the classic family sitcoms of the past few decades, but adds a healthy dose of sarcasm and satire to the mix. Perfect recipe!
  • Thursday
    • Fringe – I’ve been anticipating this show more than any other over the summer. Partly because I actually watched the season finale when it aired, and thus had to wait the full four months to find out what happens next, but also because it left viewers with a crazy cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see what crazy adventures Olivia, Peter, Walter, and Astrid find themselves in the midst of next. I’m also planning a “Why You Should Watch Fringe” post, so stay tuned for that if you have considered watching this show.
    • Community – This little comedy that could grew on me more and more with each episode last season. It has some silly moments that fall flat, but I mostly adore the characters, the frequent pop culture references, and the quirky tone. I liked it from the beginning since I actually teach at a community college. There’s a lot of reality in the show’s portrayal of community college campus life (except maybe for the paint ball war…), taken to the extreme, of course.
    • 30 Rock – I fell behind on this show for awhile last season. It lost some of its edge, spending too much time on Jack and his two girlfriends. Once it turned more attention to Liz’s disfunctional love life, this Emmy darling was back at the top of its game. Liz’s boyfriends on the show have always been hilarious, so I hope we will see more of airline pilot Matt Damon, who first showed up in last season’s finale. And how bizarre and hilarious is Will Forte as Jenna’s Cher/Jenna impersonating boyfriend. Greatness.
    • The Office – This show is past its prime, but as long as it still makes me laugh, I’ll keep watching. Honestly, Michael Scott isn’t the funniest thing about it, but he may be the glue that holds the supporting cast together. But really, shouldn’t the show just end when Steve Carrell leaves?
  • Friday
    • Supernatural – I haven’t watched this show in new episodes on tv since season two. Now it’s entering it’s sixth season, and after catching up with seasons three through five on dvd and summer reruns, I’m ready to jump back in. I’ll enjoy being able to enjoy reading about the show online without fear of spoilers – it has quite an avid fan base!
  • Saturday

    • Nothing interesting comes on Saturday nights!

So there you have it. I am watching fewer shows this season than I have in a long time – especially since there are no shows waiting in the wings, like Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica in recent years. There are eight shows on my list, but since four of them are half hour comedies, I don’t feel like I’m investing a lot of time in tv this fall. What will you be watching? Is my list missing anything that’s must-see for you?

 

Lost 6.1: LA X February 3, 2010

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Lost is back, and I couldn’t be more excited. Even just watching the one hour recap show reminded me how much I’ve missed the Island and all its inhabitants. There’s nothing else like it on television. There’s a lot of ground to cover from last night’s two-part season premiere. I’ll start with an assessment of the three main plot threads, and then move on to my theories, questions, rants, and raves.

Season six opened with Jack sitting on Oceanic 815 - only this time it didn't crash on the island!

Same Song, Different Lyrics

  • It was fascinating to see the parallel world created as a result of the bomb (if the bomb was, in fact, responsible).
    • The few seconds that the screen was white at the beginning drove me crazy! After so many months of waiting, those few seconds of waiting to see what happened were very intense.
    • What was with the cut on Jack’s neck? Was that just to indicate that he had recently shaved off his beard, or is it some hint about something else?
    • What was Desmond doing on the plane? And where did he disappear to when Jack returned from saving Charlie? Weirdness all around. If nothing else, those two incidents were like a repeat of history in the original timeline, only in a different location: Jack saved Charlie after Ethan left him for dead, and Desmond had a habit of popping up in unexpected places.
    • How creepy was it to see the island, the Dharma village, and the giant foot under water, in ruins? That was our confirmation that Juliet succeeded in setting off the bomb, destroying the island, and changing the course of history.
    • The cameos of dearly departed Losties were fun: Artz, Charlie, Neil, Boone… I wonder if Mr. Eko, Ana Lucia, Libby, and Shannon were missing for a particular reason, or simply because they weren’t available at the time of filming.
    • Apparently in this reality, Hurley is “the luckiest guy alive.” Winning the lottery was a blessing, not a curse. I wonder if he used the same numbers?
    • A few things that happened in this parallel reality were like echoes of previous events. After Jack saved Charlie, Charlie told him, “You shouldn’t have let that happen, man. I was supposed to die.” Just like he was supposed to die (and did) on the Island, despite all Desmond’s efforts to save him… Another echo was how Dr. Shepherd’s body disappeared. In this case, it was apparently never put on the plane, while on the Island, the coffin and the body were separated from the other wreckage.
    • It was interesting to see the Losties in this parallel universe pick up where we’d left them in their original flashbacks: Jack dealing with his father’s death, Kate still trying to escape from custody, Sawyer looking for his next con, Sun and Jin trying to keep up appearances, Rose and Bernard enjoying life together, Sayid hoping to reunite with Nadia, Charlie struggling with drug addiction, Hurley figuring out what to do with his lottery winnings, Boone dealing with his bratty sister Shannon, and Locke trying to maintain his dignity despite his paralysis. But fate seems to be interfering with the “natural” course of events, since all these characters are crossing paths: Sawyer helped Kate elude the security officers, Jack and Locke struck up a conversation about how “nothing is irreversible,” Desmond and Jack literally saw each other “in another life,” which are the words they parted with when they first met while running stairs in L.A.

Back in the Saddle Again (aka How Jack’s Plan Led Them Back to Where They Started)

  • But the premiere wasn’t as straight forward as “now the Losties are on a different path, one on which they never came to the Island.” Instead, after the first commercial break, the writers threw us for a loop, showing Jack and the gang still very much alive on the island, but apparently back in the present rather than still stuck in the 70s.
    • Hurley’s ability to talk to dead people came in handy, as Jacob delivered that message that Hurley needed to take Sayid to the Temple in order to save him from certain death. I wonder if Jacob will continue to communicate with the Losties via Hurley.
    • Juliet’s death was hard to watch, but at least she and Sawyer had a better goodbye than the heart-wrenching one when she let go of his hand last season. Josh Holloway got to show off his acting skills, as Sawyer agonized over Juliet’s fate, and said his tearful “I love you’s” and “goodbyes” to her.
    • Juliet’s final words were perplexing: “We should get coffee some time. We can go dutch.” Just the incoherent ramblings of a woman near-death, or something else – perhaps she was slipping away to the parallel reality where she and Sawyer weren’t on the Island, where their plan to change the course of events had worked. We have reason to suspect this, based on her next words being “I have to tell you something. It’s really, really important,” and based on Miles’ message from Juliet’s spirit that “it worked.” Regardless of the answers to these questions, Juliet’s death was one of the most memorable on the show.

The confrontation between Richard and Not-Locke was one of the most perplexing and disturbing moments of the premiere.

A Tale of Two Lockes (aka On the Waterfront)

  • The events on the beach in the present didn’t seem to be affected at all by Juliet’s efforts. But that didn’t make them any less interesting.
    • It was fascinating to watch Ben’s rollercoaster of emotions: he went from horrified that he actually murdered Jacob, to disturbed when he saw the real Locke’s dead body, to full freak-out mode after he realized that not-Locke is the one and only Smoke Monster. The master manipulator couldn’t believe that he had been outmanipulated, and he was clearly nervous about just what sort of creature he helped unleash on the Island.
    • Not-Locke is turning out to be a fantastic villain. He’s so calm, collected, and matter of fact: “I have good news. Jacob burned up in that fire. You have nothing more to protect…” Plus, he’s practically invincible – speeding bullets bounce off of him, and he can turn into his destructive smoke form to become a thoroughly efficient warrior. The only defense against him is encircling yourself with ashes.
    • I was hoping his conversation with Ben at the end of the episode would at least reveal his name, but it didn’t happen. Instead, not-Locke tormented Ben, telling him that Locke was very confused as he died, thinking only “I don’t understand.” His description of Locke was spot-on, and thus sad, especially in light of his tragic death, which allowed this Monster to rise to power. And we were left with yet another intriguing question: not-Locke wants the one thing that John Locke didn’t: “I want to go home.” Where is home for this Smoke Monster?!
    • The closing scene had Richard reuniting with an old acquaintance (not-Locke said “Hello, Richard, it’s good to see you out of those chains.”) I for one am ready to know Richard’s backstory. The “chains” part still makes me think he came to the Island on the Black Rock. Not-Locke quickly and easily knocked Richard out and carried him away, scolding the rest of the beach Others with a stern “I’m very disappointed in you!” What is going on?!

Hugo Reyes and the Temple of Doom (or Hope?)

  • The Temple – In typical Lost fashion, we met yet another group of island inhabitants that we hadn’t seen before. Actually, I guess these are just more Others, but we’ve never seen these particular ones, except for the flight attendant and the two kids (Zack and Emma) that were taken from Ana Lucia’s group. I wonder if the Temple will be this season’s Hatch, pivotal to the ongoing plot. It is appropriately mysterious, and the passageways beneath it are creepy, with all the whispering and crumbling ruins.
    • Jacob instructed Hurley to take the guitar case and its contents to the Temple. It contained a wooden cross of sorts, which in turn contained a piece of paper. I assume it was a list that included the names of Jack, Hurley, Kate, Jin, Sayid, Sawyer, and Miles, but one of the Others told Hurley it said “If your friend there dies, we’re all in a lot of trouble.” Perhaps if Jacob wrote all their names on the list, that means all of them must survive in order for some plan to work.
    • The Temple contains a healing pool known as “The Spring.” Apparently a dying person has to be held underwater for a certain amount of time (determined by the sands in an hourglass), and has a chance of being healed. Initially, the Others thought it hadn’t worked, but they were acting very strangely. By the end of the episode, after lying still and not breathing for several minutes, Sayid suddenly sat up and said “What happened?” So did the spring save him, or something else? We don’t have a clear answer yet.
    • “I don’t like the way English tastes on my tongue.” The apparent leader of this group of Others used a translator, but he does speak English. When Hurley informed him that Jacob was dead, the Others sprang into action, setting off a flare, and securing the Temple “to keep him out.” They must know what they are up against.
    • I’m also curious why the Others wanted to talk to each Lostie individually. They are a very mysterious bunch.
  • At the end of the episode, Sayid rose from the dead, or so it seems. Not sure what to make of this yet.

The Implications

  • Not-Locke is the Smoke Monster – Upon confirmation that the Smoke Monster can appear as people who have died, Lost fanatics everywhere rushed to their archives last night to study all the scenes from previous seasons involving dead people appearing to the islanders: Christian Shepherd “advising” various people, Mr. Eko’s brother, Shannon, Claire, etc. Can we assume that all these visitations were actually the Smoke Monster, and that they were all part of its plan to find a loophole? One of the more recent occurrences is when Christian guided Locke through the subterranean passageways and told him he had to move the island again to stop the time flashes. A lot to think about here… Another visit that comes to mind is Claire’s appearance to Kate in L.A., when she warned Kate not to take Aaron back to the island. If that Claire was actually the Smoke Monster, then it would seem that Aaron’s return to the Island would be a good thing for the Losties. But can the Smoke Monster appear off the Island, and is Claire even dead?
  • Jacob Leads the Losties to the Temple – Apparently all hope is not lost just yet. If that spring can bring Sayid back to life, then maybe the Others and the Temple have some more tricks up their sleeves.
  • Flash-somethings – In the early seasons we had flashbacks, and then last season we had flashbacks, flashforwards, and some flashes that were hard to label as either one. Apparently, this season we will have inter-reality flashes. (Producers Cuse and Lindelof refer to them as “sideways flashes” in this interview.) Whether it’s a parallel universe, a simultaneous reality, or whatever you want to call it, there seem to be two Jacks, two Kates, two of everyone. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it all, but I can’t wait to see where we are headed. This new storytelling device leads to all sorts of questions, but one big one is this: will these two worlds somehow converge, and if so, what will the results be?
  • Not of this World? – Where is “home” for the Smoke Monster, and will his/its name ever be revealed? The only “out there” theory I am considering right now is that the Island is alien in origin. Remember that “Little Prince” episode early last season? Check out this excerpt, in which I theorized about what it would mean if Locke were the Little Prince in question (the text in blue seems especially relevant now that we know the whole Not-Locke angle): 
    • Locke – At the end of The Little Prince, the Little Prince tells the Narrator that he must return to his home planet, and explains to him that “while it will look as though he has died, he has not, but rather that his body is too heavy to take with him to his planet” (I gathered this info from Wikipedia, since it has been years since I read this novel and I’m foggy on the details.) This reminds me of Locke, who has to die in order to make everything right again. Will Locke be reincarnated in a different body, or has his body been left behind while he’s actually still doing the Island’s work? One famous quote from The Little Prince sounds exactly like something that Locke would say: “One cannot see well except with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes.”
    • Just some food for thought… You can check out that full post here.

I could go on and on with my questions, but I’ll save some for the rest of the season, as we learn more. My favorite characters in the premiere were Sawyer (dramatic flair) and Hurley (comic relief). What did you think of the premiere? What questions are you dying to have answered? Any theories to share? To read more about the episode, check out the following:

 

24 Season 8: The First 4 Hours January 20, 2010

After seeing all the action-packed promos for this season of 24, I was more excited about the show’s return than I had been for a few years. And the two-night, four hour season opener didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of twists and turns, and perhaps more importantly, there were a lot of new but familiar faces.

The cast of 24: Season 8

The Players

  • The Veterans – Superman Jack Bauer, the glue that holds the show together, is back, but is initially more subdued than normal. He’s too busy being a grandpa to Kim’s daughter Terri to burden himself with unraveling an assassination plot. Of course, being the noble hero that he is, he soon finds himself back at CTU, playing a crucial role in the investigation. Also returning is the lovably annoying Chloe O’Brien, who has managed to survive since she first joined CTU in season three. With as quickly as the bodies pile up on this show, it’s quite miraculous that she is still around. Jack and Chloe are the only two characters who have been around long enough to be considered veterans. (Well, there’s Kim, but it doesn’t seem like she will be very involved this season since she’s already on a plane back to L.A. with her family.) I’m holding out hope that Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce will show up again. He’s the closest thing to an Energizer bunny (besides Jack, of course) that the show has. He’s constantly in harm’s way, but always manages to survive.
  • The Sophomores – Returning for a second season are President Allison Taylor (fresh off a divorce initiated by her husband, who couldn’t forgive her for sending their daughter to prison for her involvement in a murder), and her loyal sidekick Ethan Kanin. Also back in the game is Agent Renee Walker, although she’s no longer working for the FBI. When we last saw her in season 7, she was about to go off the books in her interrogation of a suspect, and apparently she crossed a line that sent her to a very dark place. So far, Annie Wersching is doing a great job of portraying Walker’s new personality. She is void of emotion, her eyes look empty, and she doesn’t seem to care about anything. It’s crazy to say, but in her current state she’s like a crazier, female version of Jack!
  • The New Players
    • The Hassan Family – This season’s initial crisis involves a plot to assassinat President Omar Hassan, the leader of an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He is in the U.S. to meet with President Taylor about promoting peace, disarming nuclear weapons, etc., but someone wants him dead, which throws a few kinks in the peace summit. He is joined by his wife (although it appears they have a loveless marriage) and daughter (who seems very loyal to her father). We soon learn that his chief of staff and brother, Farhad, isn’t as loyal as Omar would like to believe.
    • CTU: New York – The first six seasons were set in L.A., and last season was in D.C. Season 8 takes us to the streets of New York, and so we meet a new batch of CTU agents and analysts. (It sure is convenient that Chloe got transferred to this branch when Morris lost his job!) The head of CTU, Brian Hastings, seems to be as clueless as many of his predecessors, since junior analyst Chloe has a better handle on the situation than he does. And there’s the usual melodrama among the geek squad, with newbie Dana Walsh being terrorized by a former boyfriend who is threatening to expose her deep dark secret, and sneaky Arlo Glass, who spends most of his time either hitting on or spying on Dana. The one thing this CTU branch seems to have going for it is Agent Cole Ortiz, who is like a Jack-in-Training. He’s already pulled off a couple of Jack-worthy saves, so I have my fingers crossed that he will make it through this season.
    • Odds and Ends
      • Rob Weiss – He’s President Taylor’s new, young Chief of Staff. I’m not sure what to think of him yet.
      • Meredith Reed – She is the reporter who Hastings was convinced was working against Hassan, but it turns out the only thing she had to hide was the affair she’s been having with Hassan. Oops! That information is sure to resurface, especially since Farhad knows about it. I have a feeling he may use it to try to blackmail his brother.
      • The Villains – The first villain on the scene was President Hassan’s brother, Farhad, and as the plot thickened (by way of a series of tattoos on the assassin’s body), we were introduced to members of a Russian Crime Syndicate. The apparent leader goes by the name Bazhaev, and he has two sons, one who appears to be dying in a wine cellar, and the other, Josef, who is skeptical about getting involved with Farhad. One more thing about the tattoed assassin, Davros – I immediately recognized actor Doug Hutchinson as the man who played creepy Eugene Tooms on a couple episodes of The X-Files. Strangely, I didn’t remember until I read his filmography that he also played Horace Goodspeed on Lost. I guess it was the long haired hippie look that threw me off.

Familiar Faces

As I mentioned earlier, I was especially looking forward to this season because of some familiar actors who would be joining the cast:

  • Katee Sackhoff – Little Miss Starbuck seems to be playing a more feminine, weaker character than the fearless, aggressive Kara Thrace. But I am intrigued by her mysterious back story. Her name was Jenny, she was apparently poor and ran with a bad crowd, yet somehow she found a new identity as Dana Walsh and landed a job at CTU?
  • Freddie Prinze, Jr. – On today’s edition of “Whatever Happened To…,” we welcome back Mr. She’s All That, or if you prefer, Summer Catch. This former teen heart throb is hanging up his dancing shoes and picking up a gun. I must say, I like him as an intense, determined agent. He and Sarah Michelle Gellar have been married for almost 8 years now, and as a fan of Buffy, I kind of liked him more after they were together. All that to say, I’m glad to have him on the show.
  • David Anders! – Yes, I felt that the exclamation point was necessary. Ever since he played Julian Sark on Alias, I have had a major tv crush on David Anders, and his knack for accents. While even he couldn’t save the recent remake of Children of the Corn, I am hoping to see good things from him as a Russian villain on 24. I am even holding out hope that he will eventually turn on his father and help Jack save the day. Probably just wishful thinking, but that’s a much better alternative than Jack putting him in a choke hold and killing him!
  • Anil Kapoor – When I saw the 24 previews, I knew this was a familiar face, but I couldn’t place it. Then it hit me: “Who wants to be a… Mill-on-are!” President Hassan was the game show host on Slumdog Millionaire. So far he is doing an excellent job with this more serious role.
  • Mykelti Williamson – He’ll always be Fearless from Boomtown to me. I loved him on that show, and while he’s not nearly as likable here, it’s still nice to see him. And there’s still time for him to exhibit some more redeemable qualities.
  • Callum Keith Rennie – There must be a Battlestar Galactica connection on the casting staff, because joining Starbuck from that show is Leoben, one of the Cylons. He hasn’t made an appearance yet, except in photographs, but he will be one of the Russian villains.

Where Are We Going?

So, the initial storyline was introduced and somewhat resolved: the assassination attempt on President Hassan. With 20 hours still left, what can we expect?

  • Jack and Renee go undercover – In another convenient backstory detail, it turns out that Agent Walker was the FBI’s top undercover agent with the Russian mob. With one phone call, she swoops into CTU and is ready to go back into the field. Her decision to violently remove her contact’s parole bracelet at the end of the fourth hour was truly shocking. What in the world?! She is dead serious about playing her part, I suppose. It will be interesting to see Jack play the level headed one next to her crazy out of control self. Their goal: um, not sure yet. I suppose they need to find out what weapons the Russians plan to sell to Farhad, and what he plans to do with them.
  • The Russians and Farhad plot their evil deeds – There’s much to be discovered about this plot line, which has only just been introduced.
  • Presidents Taylor and Hassan continue their peace negotiations – I am sure that CTU’s investigation will continue to put pressure on these peace talks, and will threaten to end them. Then there’s the looming threat of Hassan’s affair becoming public knowledge.
  • Jack’s desire to get to L.A. – As Kiefer Sutherland said in a recent interview, Jack has a different mindset this season because he has something to fight for: a new, happy life with his daughter and granddaughter in L.A. So while he’ll still be fighting for truth and justice, he’ll also be trying to make it through the day in one piece.
  • CTU shenanigans – What will become of Dana and Cole’s engagement? Will Dana be able to get rid of her old boyfriend, or will he expose the truth? Will Hastings shape up as director, or will he be replaced? (If only Bill were still alive…)

It looks like this season is shaping up to be a great one. The only thing I didn’t like was when Jack got tortured in the basement by that cop who thought he was a cop killer. I thought it was too early in the season for such over the top melodrama. All the action leading up to and during Agent Ortiz’s heroic car swerving maneuver, which saved President Hassan’s life, was truly thrilling, and the turn of events afterwards was just as intriguing. What have you thought about this season so far?

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Winner is Revealed December 17, 2009

And so the season screeched to a halt this week, just in time for everyone to go home for the holidays. The finale didn’t have as much filler as I had expected, although I could have done without one or two of the musical guests. By the end of the night, we had seen performances of some of the season’s best routines, and the remaining contestants were eliminated one by one, until only the winner was left standing.

Joining Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman on the panel were Lil’ C, Tyce Diorio and Debbie Allen. They all chose at least one dance that they’d like to see again, but I think the producers do more of the selecting so that the finale ends up with a variety of styles and performers. It was strange that so many performances were chosen from the “Meet the Top 20” episode. As much as I hope they do such a preview episode in coming seasons, it seemed weird not to highlight more dances from the actual competition episodes. If I read back through my posts I’m sure I could come up with a handful that would have been very worthy of an encore in the finale.

Opening Number:

  • Top 20 (Hip-Hop) – “Scared of Me (Radio Edit),” Fredde le Grand feat. Mitch Crow – I didn’t remember seeing this one before, but apparently it was in the Top 20 episode.

Judges’ Picks

  • Lil’ C – Russell, Kevin & Legacy (Hip-Hop) – “Beggin’ (District 78 mix),” Madcon – I enjoyed seeing the three hip hoppers dance together again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Jakob (Contemporary) – “Tore My Heart,” OONA and Dave TweedsThis Sonya Tayeh routine was one of my favorites of the whole season.
  • Nigel – Phillip, Bianca & Peter (Tap) – “Take the ‘A’ Train,” Ella Fitzgerald – I admit that I fast forwarded through this one. I was never a huge fan of the tap dancers.
  • Mary (new piece) – Ashleigh & Ryan (Jive) – “Straight to… Number One (Duck’s Radio Mix),” Touch & Go – It was fun to see them dance together in their own style, to a piece that they choreographed. They have a bright future ahead of them in the world of ballroom! I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of them on Dancing with the Stars at some point.
  • Nigel – Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – The best performance from last night got this deserved encore. And this should have been the dance that won it all for Jakob.
  • Tyce – Mollee & Nathan (Bollywood) – “Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah,” Jodhaa Akbar – It was fun to see this bollywood number again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Legacy (Contemporary) – “Machine Gun,” Portishead – If they wanted to showcase a Travis Wall routine, there were plenty others more impressive than this one. I was surprised when Adam said it is strong enough to be nominated for an Emmy. We shall see…
  • Lil’ C – Channing, Ariana, Jakob & Nathan (Contemporary) – “Crying,” k.d. lang – I was impressed by this group of contemporary dancers when they first performed this, and I enjoyed it again this time.

Around this point in the show, a series of chaotic events occurred. Cat’s mic wasn’t working, then only 3 of the final 6 contestants came out on stage, and then suddenly a tearful Russell was hobbling out, supported by Ryan. It was a tense and confusing moment for everyone, and I felt so bad for Russell that what should have been a wonderful experience was marred by injury. But, the show went on, and the next time he came out on stage they gave him a stool to sit on. Unfortunately, Russell’s injury meant that they had to show replays of the judges’ picks that involved him. This was especially disappointing for Noelle, who missed out on her chance to have another moment in the spotlight.

  • Debbie – Noelle & Russell (African Jazz) – “Frog Dance,” Mickey Hart & Planet Drum
  • Mary – Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beats
  • Nigel – Top 20 (Jazz) – “Comanche,” The Revels – I am guessing they had already planned to just replay this performance, since Billy and Brandon wouldn’t be there to perform it (since they are eligible for next season’s auditions…). It was fun to see it again, as it was a great opening to the season.

Musical Guests

  • “I See You (Avatar theme),” Leona Lewis – I only made it through the first minute or so of this song before I fast forwarded. It was boring, and the images on the big screen behind her of the creepy blue people were just too much. I’m not sure I can handle going to see Avatar.
  • “Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert – I had trouble concentrating on his singing because of the giant tarantula blob on his shoulder, but from what I could tell, the song was mediocre, like most of the “hit singles” released by Idol contestants (Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson being the exceptions).
  • “I Am,” Mary J. Blige – I was amused that it was my husband who wanted to watch this whole performance. I do like Mary J., but this song wasn’t my favorite. (Maybe on a dance competition they should have more dance guests and fewer singers!)
  • “Louboutins,” Jennifer Lopez – Well, she certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even after having twins, J.Lo is still diva through and through. I wondered if she lugs that big shoe around the country with her for all her performances. The song was pretty weak, except for the catchy chorus, but I started to like it more when the chorus line of former SYTYCD contestants joined her on stage. I spotted Katee and Kayla for sure, and I think Courtney as well. Jennifer Lopez seemed very nice at the end, when she walked over to talk to Cat and declared herself a fan of the show, and mentioned that she had hand-picked some of her favorite contestants to perform with her. Maybe I shouldn’t give her such a hard time…

Countdown to the Winner

  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Jakob – runner up
  • Russell – winner

Well, I was spot on in my prediction of what order the contestants would be eliminated in, and unfortunately my worry that Russell would steal Jakob’s crown came to pass. When Russell’s name was announced as the winner, I simply said in a disappointed voice, “Oh no…” It was a let down, to see Jakob lose, when I feel like he deserved to win so much more than anyone else. Who but Jakob was consistently excellent and in tune with his performances and the audience? Who else wowed the crowd every time he stepped on stage? That being said, I am thrilled for Russell, and his reaction to the news of winning was a joy to see. He was so overwhelmed with excitement, and he certainly worked hard all season. There’s no arguing that he grew from the beginning of the season to the end, but it wasn’t necessarily always forward progress. I love that his parents seem so supportive, too.

So yes, I was bummed that Jakob didn’t win, because I thought maybe this was finally going to be the season that the best dancer was also America’s favorite dancer. But, I actually loved everyone in this final six, and Russell may benefit more from winning than Jakob would have. (Like Nigel said, Jakob needs to join a dance company pronto and become even more amazing.) I should also mention that I was proud of Kathryn for coming in third. She was a solid contestant all season, but somehow stayed under the radar. I think she was very deserving of that third place. I am considering going to see these guys perform on tour, so if I do, I’ll be sure to post about it.

So that’s it for my season 6 SYTYCD coverage. I’ll be back with more recaps, reviews, and rants in June, when season 7 kicks off. Hopefully my tv viewing schedule will be less cluttered then so that I’ll have more energy and enthusiasm about the show. How did you feel about the final results?

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SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 8 Results Show December 9, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness. We finally had a shake-up, after weeks of mostly predictable results. After last night’s performance show, I guessed that Ellenore, Ryan, Russell, and Kathryn would be the bottom four. I was right about Ellenore and Ryan, but wrong about the other two, who happened to be the ones sent home!

The Bottom Four

  • Ellenore
  • Mollee – sent home
  • Ryan
  • Legacy – sent home

I am thrilled that Mollee is no longer on the show. Every season there is at least one dancer who I simply don’t like. Dancers from seasons past who come to mind include Lacey and Lauren and Neil. Were they all season three?! I really think that Mollee survived this long because of her cutesy personality more than on the strength of her dancing. Sure, she has some impressive strength and balance, but she seems more suited for gymnastics than some of the dance styles she has performed. And I never thought too much about Legacy this season. I suppose I was impressed that he grew so much as a dancer in the various styles, and of course I noticed all those times that he performed shirtless. But he was never one of my favorites. So while I was definitely shocked when he was announced as the guy who was going home, I wasn’t sad.

I wonder if the results would have been different if Ashleigh had performed last night, and if Ryan hadn’t sweetly encouraged the audience to vote for her (instead of him). I really do think he would have gone home instead of Legacy, but perhaps Mollee would still have been eliminated. All this time I had thought that she and Nathan were so popular, but I guess they really weren’t. I was thrilled for Russell that he found out quickly that he had made it into the finals. And I am sure Ashleigh was relieved to have one more chance to prove she should be there. I am assuming that her doctor cleared her to dance again. I didn’t notice whether or not she danced the opening group number.

Our Finalists

  • Jakob
  • Ashleigh
  • Kathryn
  • Ellenore
  • Russell
  • Ryan

So, the finals should be quite a fun, exciting event. I’m assuming we’ll see Ryan and Ashleigh dance together, since traditionally all the finalists dance with each other. Although, since there are six dancers instead of four this time, they may have to chance up some of the usual way of doing things. I most look forward to Ashleigh/Ryan, Jakob/Kathryn, which are two pairings we haven’t seen this season. And, I am hoping that in the end, Jakob will be named the season six winner!

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 8 Perform

I’m still trying to figure out how we’re only a week away from the finale, but meanwhile, Ashleigh’s dislocated shoulder created all sorts of drama on this week’s top 8 performance show.

Kathryn & Ryan Disco (Doriana Sanchez) – I’m just not that into disco. It’s cheesy, and I don’t like it. That being said, Ryan was a good partner for disco, since he can easily lift just about anyone or anything.

Mollee & Jakob Viennese Waltz (Jason Gilkison) – When they first came out on stage, I didn’t understand Mollee’s butter yellow skirt. Usually a girl wears a beautiful flowing dress for a waltz. But I ended up really liking the performance, and the costumes gave it a more modern feel – well, more like a 1940s or 50s collegiate feel. The idea of a young couple in love, dancing on air together, was very sweet. That assisted hip lift (think that’s what they called it) was amazing. As usual, Jakob brought his partner up to his level. I’ve no doubt they will both be in the finale.

Ashleigh Solo – Poor Ashleigh, so anxious to dance, but forced to just stand there dressed in black, with her arm in a sling. 😦

Ellenore & Legacy Contemporary (Travis Wall) – This wasn’t my favorite Travis routine. I seem to recall another Mr. and Mrs. Smith themed dance on this show in a previous season. Does anyone else remember that? This dance seemed more character driven than dance driven, and while they did a good job, I wasn’t blown away.

Jakob Solo – Oh, how I love Jakob. I’ve considered going to see this season’s dancers on tour just because he will be there. The only other season I went to see the Dance tour was season three, when my beloved Pasha was dancing, along with Danny, Sabra, Lacey, Neil, etc. But anyway, back to Jakob. He really is an amazing dancer, and I thought he put a lot more energy and passion into this solo than the one he did last week.

Ashleigh & RussellHip-Hop (Shane Sparks) – Russell had to dance with Shane’s assistant, Rachel, who wasn’t nearly as pleasant to watch as Ashleigh would have been. There’s no way the routine could have been a smashing success with this last minute substitute, but Russell still looked like he had fun.

Mollee Solo – All I could think while I watched her solo was, “Am I watching a gymnastics routine?” All that was missing was the floor pads and a unitard. She was doing flips, cartwheels, balance moves, etc. That’s great if you’re competing in floor exercise, but this is a dance competition. I so wish Mollee would go home this week, but I don’t see it happening.

Kathryn & RyanCha Cha (Jason Gilkison) – This was a fun and surprising routine. These two really did have some great chemistry, and made the difficult routine look fun and mostly effortless. The closing flip that left Kathryn hanging upside down was eye opening. Sadly, I don’t know that this will be enough to keep Kathryn in the competition.

Legacy Solo – This seemed like a half-hearted effort to me. Perhaps this is a trend, though. Nigel said that at this point people aren’t “supposed” to vote on technique, but on who entertains them the most. Apparently, Legacy and Russell thought that silly props would charm viewers into picking up the phone. I would rather have seen Legacy do more of his crazy b-boy moves than chatting away on the huge 1990s cordless phone. This didn’t feel like “dancing for your life” to me. (Sorry, Leah…)

EllenoreSolo – I still enjoyed her solo, but it wasn’t as good as last week’s, and neither were her partner performances. She was riding high last week after her jazz routine with Jakob, but she may have trouble making it into the finals.

Russell Solo – This one started off well enough. It’s Christmas time, so a Santa outfit is appropriate enough. However, I wish he would have ditched the coat and bag and gotten down to krumping business, but instead he stayed in playful mode and spent the last 10 seconds taking his shoe off and on and pulling a stuffed animal out of his bag. This solo paled in comparison to the one that brought the audience to their feet last week.

Mollee & Jakob Broadway (Joey Dowling) – I’m writing this review after the fact, and I had to think really hard to even remember what this dance looked like. Then I remembered the overcoats that gave way to green, money-inspired costumes. This was just a so-so routine for me. At least Jakob (I mean, they) had an excellent opening performance.

KathrynSolo – This was a very pretty solo, and had me thinking that she’s the most technically excellent dancer left. Based on technique, and her ability to adapt to pretty much every style she’s been thrown, I just think she deserves to stay longer than Mollee.

Ellenore & LegacyHip-Hop (NappyTabs) – Um, not so much. I think I’ve mentioned before my discomfort with anything involving masks, so the beginning of this routine had me a little nervous. I don’t think it was a good idea to highlight Ellenore’s weirdness (particularly her “alien” language) in the week leading into the finals. America can’t identify with alien, mask-wearing Ellenore as well as quirky, theatrical Ellenore. This routine goes in the same category as the crash test dummies one from last season (Kupono and some girl who left early, maybe Ashley?) – “too weird and doesn’t translate well on stage.”

Ryan Solo – Lots of chest pumping and such.

Ashleigh & Russell Bollywood (Nakul Dev Mahajan) – Ashleigh would have been very pretty and convincing as a Bollywood dancer. Russell’s fill-in partner was actually pretty good, but I was just sad that he didn’t have his real partner to dance with.

My Favorite Performances

  • Jakob and Mollee’s Viennese Waltz
  • Kathryn and Ryan’s Cha Cha

Predicting the Bottom Four

  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Ryan
  • Russell

With Ashleigh’s injury and subsequent pleas for votes, who knows how the voting will go? I voted for Ashleigh, Jakob, and Ellenore. If I had my way, I’d send Mollee and Ryan home, but it may end up being Kathryn and Russell. I think Russell may have been forgotten in the midst of his partner’s last minute injury.

Here’s how I rank the top 8, from my favorite to least favorite:

  • Jakob
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Russell
  • Legacy
  • Ryan
  • Mollee

So how does my list compare to yours? Who do you want to win?