Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

David Anders: One of TV’s Unheralded Heroes February 10, 2011

Filed under: 24,Television,Vampire Diaries — Emily @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

He has played the son of a Russian mobster, the biological father of a vampire-loving teenager, an eternally young ne’er do well, and even the unfortunate victim of a corn-worshipping cult. But to me, he’ll always be Sydney Bristow’s charming, British-accented nemesis, Julian Sark. I’m talking about one of my favorite unheralded tv actors: David Anders.

Mr. Anders was one of the first celebrities who I investigated on IMDb, when I first discovered the website nearly a decade ago. Since I only knew him at the time through his character on Alias, I was surprised to learn that not only was he only in his early 20s, but he was from Oregon. In his role as Sark, he came across as much more mature than 20, and his British accent was so flawless that I had assumed he was really from England. Sadly, most of his subsequent roles haven’t featured such an attractive accent, nor have his characters met very satisfying fates. However, no matter how poorly written or short-lived a role is, if David Anders’ name is attached, I will always check it out. Let’s take a look at some of his work:

  • Alias – (2002-2006) – So far this has been Anders’ most impressive and memorable role. Sark was supposed to be a villain, but he was impossible to dislike! For awhile, the writers hinted that he and Sydney were half-siblings, and I wish that had been true. But at least he crossed over from the dark side in later seasons, to assist Sydney and company on some cases.
  • Heroes – (2007-2010) – Let me be clear. David Anders was the only reason I tuned in to season two of this show, which was already faltering big time by the end of the first season (and it only went down hill from there…) By the next season, Anders’ presence almost wasn’t enough to make me keep watching, the show had become so ridiculous. So when he was killed off with absolutely no fanfare, I immediately stopped watching, with no regrets. Even when his character was alive and well, this was not a villain you loved to love. He was annoying and selfish – not the best role for someone as attractive and charming as David Anders!
  • Children of the Corn – (2009) – Sadly, things didn’t get much better in his next role, SyFy’s tv remake of the classic ’80s horror movie of the same name. The original was campy enough (what was Linda Hamilton thinking?!), so why redo it? At least it gave me a chance to see David Anders again, in a slightly less annoying role than that of Adam Monroe on Heroes. As is usually the case in horror movies, Anders’ character didn’t meet a very good end.
  • 24 – (2010) – I had started to tire of Jack Bauer and company by the time this final season rolled around. (I never fully recovered from the bizarre direction they took Tony Almeida…) I was considering not watching, but then the names of the new cast started being announced: Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck was back!), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (that should be interesting…), and David Anders! So yet again, Anders became my motivation for watching a show. And his role as Josef Bazhaev didn’t disappoint. He was a “bad” guy, but he had the redeeming qualities of risking his own life to help his brother, and ultimately deciding to turn on his Russian mob father to help Jack save the day. It was a short-lived role, but a step in the right direction.
  • Vampire Diaries (2010-2011) – And now it appears that David Anders has found a new generation of fans on the CW. Many viewers of Vampire Diaries were probably starting kindergarten when Julian Sark first came to life on Alias. So to them, it’s not strange for him to be playing someone’s father on this show about a group of teenagers, two vampire brothers, and apparently a clan of werewolves (I stopped watching during the first season, so I’m not really sure what’s going on now…) But to me it’s very weird! He’s only 30 years old, and he’s playing father to Elena, who must be 18. Do the math. Then again, he has often played roles older than his real age. I did tune back in to this show to see him, but at the time it appeared to be his last episode (as had the episode before that, when he had been left for dead…) Plus, I admit to fast forwarding through the show and only watching his scenes. But I am glad that he is back on tv – hopefully for a prolonged stay this time.
  • The Riot (2011) – Perhaps this will be the year that Anders has a breakthrough year. He’s turning 30 in March, and he’s appearing in a feature length film called The Riot. It doesn’t exactly feature a top notch cast, but headliners Ron Perlman and Michael Clarke Duncan tend to have success in action movies. Based on the synopsis (four friends stick together and try to survive in a world “on the cusp of disaster”), it looks like he’ll be playing a good guy for once. Let’s hope this role will get David Anders noticed even more, so he can land some better roles, and I’ll only have to watch great shows to see him.
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Fall 2009 TV: What I’m Still Watching December 1, 2009

A couple of months ago, I gave an overview of what tv shows I would be watching this fall. Some of them were my returning favorites, while others were newbies that I wasn’t sure about. Now that the fall season is well underway, and most of these shows are about to go into holiday hibernation, I thought I’d give an update on what I’m still watching, and which shows have lost my interest.

Didn’t Make It Past the First Round

At the beginning of the fall season, I watched a handful of pilots out of curiosity, and had a reaction of either immediate disinterest or horror.

  • Cougar Town – So bad that it was painful to watch. Poor Courtney Cox – Monica Geller would be embarrassed by her character.
  • The Middle – Hidy ho, neighbor! This show was too “hunky dory” for my taste. It came across as a slightly desperate attempt to reach out to middle America. The result was a sometimes funny, but mostly contrived comedy that was a wannabe hybrid of Everybody Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.
  • Eastwick – I may have liked this show if it had a darker, supernatural element to it. Instead, it was mostly soap opera fluff with a dash of magic thrown in. I also found all three main characters unlikable, particularly the married one. I felt little sympathy for her when her husband threatened to seek full custody of their kids when they decided to get divorced. Who could blame him? She struck him with lightning! I wrote this show off by the end of the pilot, and it looks like the network has done the same, since I read they haven’t ordered the back nine episodes.

Still Sitting on the Sidelines

Some shows that I considered watching haven’t even seen any playing time. These are all shows I have watched off and on in past seasons, but so far this season the episodes are just piling up on my Tivo.

  • Bones – Actually, I only recorded the first episode of the season, and really only because Cyndi Lauper was guest starring. It’s still sitting unwatched on my Now Playing list. (I lost interest in this show about the time that Angela and Hodgins broke up. That was such a forced story.)
  • The Mentalist – I like the characters on this sophomore hit (and I love Simon Baker!), and I’m intrigued by the ongoing Red John investigation, but I just haven’t found the time to watch any episodes this season. I may catch up some in the next couple of months.
  • CSI – Ever since Warrick’s tragic departure, and then Grissom’s move to South America (or where ever he went to live in the jungle with Sara), this show has been a little depressing. I’m not a huge fan of some of the newer characters, although I like Laurence Fishburne just fine.  At this point in this veteran show’s run, I only watch the episodes that sound interesting to me. So far this season nothing has sounded too good.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I still haven’t finished last season’s episodes, much less gotten into this season’s. I guess this just isn’t Must See TV for me. It really never has been. I’ll probably do what I’ve always done, which is to catch up during summer reruns.

I finally started acting my age and stopped watching Vampire Diaries.

Cut from the Lineup

  • FlashForward – I really wanted to be excited about this show. Yet every week something was missing. I didn’t find any of the characters compelling, and wasn’t sure why it really mattered what they saw in the future and what they would do about it now. And it took them forever to introduce Charlie – I mean Dominic Monaghan’s character! In every preview, they would show him, but he didn’t actually have much screen time until several episodes in. By that time, I had already decided to bail. Perhaps this show was trying to do too much with too many characters. What worked for Lost doesn’t seem to be working for it. I have a feeling this one won’t make it past season one.
  • Vampire Diaries – All along, I felt too old to be watching this show. I rolled my eyes at all the exaggerations of teen angst, and the absence of authority figures. It seems like most of the grown ups were only introduced so they could be killed off (such as the football coach and the reporter). I was intrigued enough by the family dynamics between Stefan and Damon, and Damon really is a fun character. However, the final nail in the coffin was all the mumbo jumbo about crystals and such, and the secret society who vowed to protect the town from vampires. It was all a little hokey. Why not just stick to the formula of a teen who falls in love with a brooding but good-hearted vampire, who happens to have an evil, trouble-making vampire brother? The show seems to be a hit for the CW, and I am sure many fans will continue to enjoy it. I, however, am relieved that I now have one less show to watch on Thursday nights.

"Modern Family" is one of my favorite shows this season

Second Team

These are shows that I’m still watching regularly, but sometimes weeks after they air. In other words, they aren’t “must see.”

  • 30 Rock – Still funny, but I’m not compelled to watch it immediately
  • The Office – Continues to be hit or miss. I don’t like the direction the show has taken Jim’s character lately, portraying him as a fish out of water in his co-manager position.
  • Community – Community seems to be getting better with each episode. We just watched the Green Week episode, which was hilarious, particularly the montage sequence that had Senor Chang salsa dancing at the “Greene Daye” concert, while Shirley gave an inspiring speech about brownies, and Abed and Troy sang “Somewhere Out There” to coax their lab mouse out of hiding. Comic genius.
  • Modern Family – Modern Family also gets better with each episode. I love how it balances quirky and deadpan humor with characters that are actually lovable. I like all the characters on the show, which is very rare on today’s brand of sitcom. On the latest episode that I watched, which had to do with a “stolen” bicycle, toddler time, and the installation of a ceiling fan, I was really touched by the ending. Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria’s wine country getaway plans are spoiled when Manny’s father cancels his plan to take him to Disneyland. Rather than tell Manny the truth about his deadbeat dad, Jay sacrifices his and Gloria’s kid-free weekend, telling Manny that his dad wanted them to take him to Disney World, and that he had sent a limo to take them there. That was really sweet. And like Jay said, the most important part of being a dad is just showing up. Sniff, sniff. This show really deserves a post all its own, so I won’t praise it anymore right now.

Glee remains a joy to watch

My Must-See TV

  • SYTYCD – I’m still enjoying this show, although this season’s choreography and performances have been underwhelming, except for a handul of my favorite couples. I’m used to investing more time into this show during its summer runs, but since it’s up against so many fall shows, I’ve devoted much less time to blogging about it. I vote that they return to a summer-only format.
  • Glee – I am in love with this show. While some episodes are better than others, and some of the humor is just plain silly, there is plenty to make up for those small complaints. The musical numbers are always fun, Sue Sylvester is the funniest character on tv, and every episode ends on an uplifting note that has me either cheering for the characters or celebrating life itself. Can one little tv show achieve all that? Apparently so.
  • V – ABC, why must you be so cruel? Four episodes? That’s it? And now we have to wait until March?! I am disappointed to learn that the ratings have plummeted, and I hope that someone will generate enough buzz to get this show back on America’s radar. It is certainly worth it! I was fascinated by the first four episodes. It was very different from the 1980s miniseries, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I like both versions. In this new version, the acting is top notch, the cinematography and special effects are impressive, and the story is compelling and very applicable to our society’s current concerns (healthcare, vaccinations, terrorism, etc.). Perhaps they should have just made this into another miniseries, because it will be very disappointing if the show gets canceled before we know how it ends!
  • Fringe – How strange that this is the only one hour drama that I am currently watching (now that V is on a long hiatus). It used to be that I only watched a couple of comedies, and several one hour shows. Maybe I just don’t have the time anymore, or maybe there are more good comedies than dramas right now). With Lost and 24 scheduled to kick off in the next couple of months, my tv lineup will be more balanced. But for now, I remain fascinated by this scifi/thriller/mystery/drama. Olivia, Peter, and Walter are all characters that I care about, and the mysteries are a satisfying blend of disturbing and riveting. I got really antsy waiting for this show to return during Fox’s baseball playoffs coverage. I’m glad that at least one good new show from last season has continued to be successful.

So there you have it. I now have three must-see shows, plus another four comedies that I enjoy watching. That’s all that remains from an original batch of 15 shows that I was considering watching. Have you lost interest in any of this season’s shows? Which ones are you still loving?

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Thoughts on Last Week’s TV: September 28-October 2 October 7, 2009

Once again, I’m quite a bit behind on my tv blogging. I’ll continue to blame the fact that most of the shows I watch are on Thursday night, which means that I spend the weekend and the beginning part of the following week making my way through all of them. As I share my random thoughts about the shows this week, I’ll list them in the order that I watched them, to give you an idea of my viewing priorities.

  • Glee – After adoring the Kurt-centric “Put a Ring On It” episode, I had mixed feelings about this episode, which focused on Will’s attempt to breathe new life into glee club by welcoming back one of its former stars, played by the amazing Kristin Chenoweth. Meanwhile, there was a will she/won’t she subplot about whether Rachel would rejoin glee club. Chenoweth stole the entire show – it was great hearing her perform the song from Cabaret, as well as her bowling alley duet with Will of “Alone.” That being said, I was irritated by the over the top nature of her character. Sure, it was funny that she met Will in the mansion she was squatting in (she and her box of wine), but was it necessary for her to show up to class, rehearsals, and performances drunk all the time? And the part about her teaching two of the girls how to shoplift using their thighs was just odd. I’m still annoyed by Rachel’s diva attitude, but I must say that it was nice to have her back when the group performed “Somebody to Love.” I am really looking forward to this week’s “guys vs. girls” episode. Should be fun!
  • Fringe – How odd, that a bowling alley was pivotal in Glee and Fringe last week. It’s not often that I can find common ground between a high school musical comedy and a sci fi investigative drama. While Kristin Chenoweth was stealing bowling shoes and Finn was manipulating Rachel, Olivia was being rehabilitated by a wise bowling alley manager. I enjoyed watching her frustration grow over his instructions about bowling and tying shoe laces, until finally she focused enough to be able to walk across the room without her cane, and point her gun without her hand shaking. The investigation of the week also added another interesting layer to the show’s mythology, as we discovered that mysterious men are carrying top secret info about human culture to the strange albino man. Up until now I’ve assumed that he was friendly and wanted to help Walter et al, but now I’m not so sure. Is he from the parallel universe, or somewhere else completely?
  • FlashForward – I was honestly bored during this week’s episode, and found the strange mix of humor and drama off-putting. On one hand, you had the humorous account of the guy who was on the toilet when the world passed out, as well as in his flash forward. On the other hand, you have a father trying to decide how to tell his son that his mother is dead, and a little girl trying to process the disturbing vision she had of the future. However, I’m willing to stick with the show and see where it’s going. So far, I haven’t been drawn into the characters’ lives enough to care about them.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared my thoughts about this episode here. One thing I can say is that this episode drew me into the series more, because it introduced some new mythology and an edgier tone.
  • So You Think You Can Dance – The parade of auditions continues… I decided not to blog in detail about the auditions because usually when I do that, the majority of my favorites don’t end up in the Top 20. Instead, I’ll wait until Vegas Week, and then start sharing my thoughts on individual dancers. I would like to commend the judges for not belittling many of the wannabes. They give them constructive criticism and encourage them to keep practicing. So much nicer than the American Idol judges. (Mary was only out of line one time, when she joked with Mia that the “demons have been exorcized” after that guy in New Orleans looked like he was having a “conniption fit” on the stage.)
  • The Office – I rolled my eyes through much of this episode, which found Michael and Jim butting heads in their new positions as co-managers. Michael was behaving like a four year old, and Jim’s response was to stare at the camera like, “How am I supposed to deal with this?” Also not very funny was Pam asking peope for money instead of traditional wedding gifts. That was more sad than funny, even though it makes sense. They are about to have a baby, so they need dollar bills, not fine china. However, I was amused by Phyllis, when she told Pam that she would be giving her and Jim a birdhouse mailbox as a wedding gift. That reminds me of the oven mitt she made as a Secret Santa gift a few seasons ago. It was kind of funny how jealous Dwight was of Jim, and how he tried (but failed miserably) to start a revolt in the office. The best part of the episode was when Michael gave Jim a “World’s Best Boss” mug, and they shared a strong drink in Jim’s office. It was nice that they found some common ground – the stress that comes with making tough decisions. That was a sweet moment.
  • Community – This show continues to be uneven, but this episode was rather amusing. It was nice to see John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, Kath and Kim) as Professor Whitman, an accounting professor who had taken it upon himself to inspire his students to seize the day and live life to the fullest, by doing things like standing on their desks, walking around barefoot, throwing away their textbooks, and climbing trees. His performance was an appropriate satire of movies like Dead Poets Society. And I’m not sure what to think of that bizarre movie that Abed made for his film class, but it was certainly entertaining. My favorite part of the episode was Pierce (Chevy Chase) teaching football jock Troy how to sneeze like a man. Troy’s wimpy sneezes were funny enough, but then Pierce demonstrated a few different loud and in charge sneezes, and they were hilarious. I can relate personally to the phenomenon of the masculine sneeze, as my husband nearly brings down our house every time he sneezes.

And the ones that I haven’t gotten to at all: How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist, Dollhouse

What were your favorite shows last week? Any new shows that you have added to your weekly lineup? Any that you’ve already given up on?

 

Vampire Diaries 1.4: Family Ties October 5, 2009

Early last week I was about ready to give up on the latest teen vampire saga, but after last week’s episode, I’m afraid I’m ready to sink my teeth into Vampire Diaries. Here’s why:

  • Sibling rivalry – Up until now Damon and Stefan have only exchanged harsh glances and words, but in this episode they grew more violent and conniving. First they stabbed each other with a knife (you know, just some old fashioned brotherly squabbling), and then Stefan tried to poison Damon with an herb that will weaken him. This escalating rivalry piqued my interest, especially now that Damon is imprisoned in his family’s top secret basement herb garden. I don’t imagine he’ll stay there for long, but will it be Elena, Caroline, or his own cleverness that releases him?
  • Damon and Caroline’s “relationship” – For the first time, I felt sorry for Caroline in this episode. The writers humanized her by giving her more to do than just gossip or talk about boys. It’s sad to see her under Damon’s spell, while he totally uses and abuses her. For example, when she told him he could be very sweet when he wanted to, he showered her with kisses, but then in the same moment she asked him if he was going to kill her, and he answered with a matter of fact “uh huh.” Talk about a warped relationship. I wonder where they are headed, now that he has tried to kill her and said that he was so over her. And cheers for Elena, for having such an emotional reaction to discovering Caroline’s bruises and bite marks. It was nice to see her stand up for her friend and go into protector mode. And at the end of the episode, she also gave a distraught and emotionally wrecked Caroline a shoulder to cry uncontrollably on.
  • Pop culture references – I’m sure Twilight fans enjoyed this exchange between Damon and Caroline: Damon – “What’s so special about this Bella girl? Edward is so whipped.” Caroline – “You gotta read the first book first. It won’t make sense if you don’t.” Damon – “I miss Anne Rice. She was so on it.” Caroline – “How come you don’t sparkle?” Damon – “Because I live in the real world, where vampires burn in the sun.” Caroline – “Yeah, but you go in the sun.” Damon – “I have a ring. It protects me. Long story.” I don’t think this show can place itself on a pedestal above Twilight just yet, but it was fun to hear devious, spirited Damon basically dis Edward for being such a wuss, and call into question the vampire mythology of Stephenie Meyers’ series.
  • Bonnie the Flame Igniter – We’ve been receiving hints every week that Bonnie is psychic and has some witchy blood in her veins, but this week we witnessed her light candles with her mind. Seeing her reaction of surprise and disbelief was interesting. I wonder how her abilities will affect Elena, Damon, Stefan, and the rest of the town.
  • “Doesn’t it always come down to the love of a woman?” – This is the question Damon asks Elena after telling her the story of the “original Salvatori brothers.” They raced to save the woman they loved from a burning building, but were shot in the process. These are interesting details added to Damon and Stefan’s sketchy past. But it still doesn’t tell us how they became vampires. But the themes of love and revenge will obviously be important ones as the show continues.
  • The Music – I really enjoyed the songs in this episode, especially Viva Voce’s “Believer,” which was playing during the last scene with Damon and Caroline. Click here for a list of songs from this episode.
  • The Parents Have Arrived – One complaint I’ve had about the show is the absence of authority figures. Well, they all came out at once in this episode, and how convenient that they all seem to hold important positions in the community: Tyler’s father is the Mayor, Caroline’s mom is the sheriff, and Jenna’s ex is a local tv news reporter. I was glad that they finally showed up, but irritated that they all seem to be “evil.” Tyler’s mom nearly spit on Vicki for being from the “wrong side of the tracks,” Logan (Jenna’s ex) is a manipulative jerk who’s only getting back together with her to locate the missing watch, and Caroline’s mom seems to be the leader of some sort of secret society. So while the show has surpassed the Charlie Brown Syndrome (the absence of parents), it has now moved into Scooby Doo Syndrome, where all the grown ups are bad, mean, or down right evil. (The one grown up on each episode of Scooby Doo always turned out to be the villain.)
  • The Mythology Starts to Take Shape – Damon steals (or rather, takes back) a “very important crystal” from one of the town artifacts, and the grownups obsess over a missing pocket watch, which the sheriff says they will need since there have been “five bodies all drained of blood” Reporter Logan ends the episode by announcing what we already know: “They’ve come back.” These developments beg a few of questions. 1) Why did they leave in the first place? 2) What does a watch have to do with stopping them? 3) What does a vampire need a crystal for? 4) Who does this group represent? Are they good guys, bad guys? Regular people? Witches? Whatever the case, I find myself, for the first time, anticipating the next episode.
 

Thoughts on Last Week’s TV September 30, 2009

I had trouble keeping up with primetime tv’s official fall premiere week, since I was out of town (read: away from my Tivo) from Thursday to Sunday. I’ve finally finished watching most of the shows I recorded, and am ready to give my brief opinions on each one. Here we go…

  • So You Think You Can Dance – I had been underwhelmed by the season six auditions until this episode, which showcased a couple of unique performers – most notably the first guy. When he walked out in those golf pants with that goofy grin on his face, I was expecting the worst, but instead he was fantastic – a quirky, cute, Evan-esque dancer. It’s old news now, but I am looking forward to seeing Adam Shankman as the fourth permanent judge on the show. He is such a lively, encouraging presence on the panel. I’m anxious for the actual competition to begin, but at the same time, I’m enjoying these shorter episodes!
  • Glee – I’ve already written at length about this episode here. “Preggers” was my favorite show of the week.
  • Eastwick – I watched this pilot episode mainly because the show is filmed on the old Gilmore Girls set a WB Studios in Burbank. I’ve toured that set twice now and was interested to see how it looked on tv. Unfortunately, the set was the most interesting thing about this “Desperate Housewives meets Bewitched” concoction. A couple of notes about the Eastwick, formerly Stars Hollow, set: it was weird to see Lane’s yellow house in the background shots of the town square, and I’m pretty sure that Rebecca Romijn’s character’s art gallery is in Luke’s Diner. What a shame that such an iconic location is now home to such mediocrity. A show about witches and magic should have at least a slightly dark tone, but Eastwick was all about being cute and funny. But if cute and funny is what the writers are going for, it’s not really working. I was appalled with how self-absorbed the three main characters are. For example, the “mother of five” witch was acting like she was the victim after she struck her husband with lightning! Maybe instead of using her powers to make the ground rumble and lightning come from the sky, she should be using them to help her husband overcome his obvious problem with alcohol. Oh well, this is a fantasty show. It’s just not my cup of tea, and I won’t be watching it again.
  • Cougartown – Simply awful. Atrocious. I may have laughed one time. I only watched it in the first place to see just how bad it was. Now, it wasn’t as bad as the train wreck that was Cavemen, but it was pretty close. What is Busy Phillips doing on this show? Why is she friends with Courtney Cox’s character, and how old is she supposed to be? I am confused because I’ve been watching her on Freaks and Geeks recently. I know that show was made ten years ago, but on it she played a high school student, and now she’s playing a young professional who hangs out with cougars? Weird. “Gross” is the best word I can use to sum up this show.
  • Modern Family – This show has a lot of potential. It gives us a peek into the lives of three very different families: a seasoned married couple (no nonsense, yet paranoid mom and a dad who thinks he’s cool) with three children, including a potentially wild teenage daughter; a gay couple who just adopted a baby girl; and an almost senior citizen (a hilarious Ed O’Neill) who is married to a much younger, fiery Latin woman who has a son just as passionate as she is. It turns out that they are all related, too. I laughed many times during the pilot, including the scene in which the dad accidentally shot his son, his daughter’s boyfriend, and himself with a pellet gun; and the scene in which Ed O’Neill was mistaken for one of the mall walkers because of his wind suit.
  • Fringe – This wasn’t one of the strongest episodes ever, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. We learned that Olivia has developed some sort of super hearing from her interdimensional travel. As for the main story about a mutant human who was killing the locals, it was very much like an X-Files episode. It reminded me of the one where Doggett and some new female agent went underground to investigate a reptile man who blinded his victims with venom so he could kill them. While Fluke Man was the nastiest X-Files creature ever, this mole rat scorpion boy was pretty gross, too.
  • FlashForward – I was highly intrigued by this show, am am interested to see how it will develop. It is reminiscent of Lost’s first season: there are many likable characters who we will learn more about a little at a time; all the characters have been brought together by a catastrophic, and unexplained event; and there is a ton of information that we don’t have yet. How creepy was that one guy walking around at the baseball park when basically the whole rest of the world was unconscious? Who was that?! I look forward to seeing what role Dominic Monaghan will play.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared by thoughts about this episode here.
  • The Office – I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the season premiere. Too much of Michael being socially awkward, not enough interaction among the rest of the staff. I did, however, enjoy the unusual pairing of Toby and Dwight on their undercover mission to find out if Darryl was telling the truth about his work related injury. I loved that Darryl’s sister looks just like him, and that Toby got a chance to do something besides get insulted by Michael. I also liked Andy’s impromptu description of the makeshift cheese tray. Very random and amusing.
  • Community – Episode two of this new show introduced us to the hilarious Spanish teacher, Sr. Chang. My main problem with this comedy so far is that the funniest moments are always in the previews. The result is that when you watch the episode, nothing surprises you – kind of like when a movie trailer gives too much away. The show will be more successful when I laugh more often and am pleasantly surprised by jokes that weren’t in the promos.
  • Dollhouse – The season premiere left me feeling confused, as if I had missed an episode from last season. The thing is, I didn’t, so I hope they will fill in the blanks later on. The most compelling character now is Dr. Saunders, played by Amy Acker. I am curious to know who she was before she became a doll. And Acker is once again playing a tragic figure, as she did on Angel, since we already know her ultimate fate (if you watched the 13th episode, which didn’t air on tv). 😦   Why can’t they show the whole cast in the opening credits? Is it really necessary to see Eliza Dushku in 50 different costumes? She is only one small piece of the larger puzzle, and there are much more interesting aspects than her character. Oh, well. I’m glad that Paul Ballard is now her handler. Should add an interesting dynamic to their relationship.

Still on my Tivo from last week are a couple of other new shows (The Good Wife and The Forgotten), as well as the season premieres of The Mentalist and How I Met Your Mother. I’ll get around to them eventually. What were your favorite and least favorite shows last week?

 

Glee and Vampire Diaries Hit the Field September 29, 2009

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 11:59 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve compared Glee and Vampire Diaries before, but since the shows represent two very different worlds, it is surprising that they found themselves on common ground once again on last week’s episodes. This time the common ground was that of a football field, as the game of tackles and extra points played a pivotal role on both shows. As usual, Glee had a more successful and satisfying result with its story of the week than did Vampire Diaries.

On Glee, what started as Kurt’s after school activity of reenacting a Beyonce music video turned into him becoming the savior of the dilapidated football team. (He told his dad that the dancing he witnessed was actually part of his conditioning for the role of kicker on the school team. And strangely, “Put a Ring On It” ultimately was part of Kurt’s and the entire team’s warm-up on their way to winning their first game of the season.

In other developments, Terri confessed to her sister that she’s faking her pregnancy, and they started scheming to “get a baby.” Conveniently, cheerleader captain and celibacy club president Quinn discovered that she is pregnant. She lied to Finn, telling him that he’s the father (even though they didn’t ever technically have sex), because she’d rather have Finn be the father of her child than the real father, pool boy Puck, who she had a drunken fling with on a day when she was down because she was feeling fat. Unbeknownst to Quinn, Terri has her sights set on secretly obtaining Quinn’s baby and passing it off as her own in about 8 months.

After a low profile last week, Sue Sylvester had a lot going on in this episode, from her warped segment on the local news (she promoted caning and littering!) to her continued quest to bring down Will and his glee club. This quest brought her to the home of the increasingly odd Sandy Ryerson (the fantastic Stephen Tobolowsky), where she had two of her best lines of the night after observing the sad state of his residence, which includes shelves full of dolls (“They’re my everything,” he said with a straight face), a “casting couch,” and Sandy’s much too short kimono. Sue’s lines of the night:

  • “Well, isn’t this just lovely and normal.”
  • “Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floorboards.”

Not to be outdone, Sandy had a couple of good one liners as well: “I’m living in a cocoon of horror!” “Yesterday I ate nine cans of aerosol whipped cream.” Sue and Sandy’s pow wow led to a new partnership, with Sandy as the school’s art director, and Sue as his devious puppet master. Their first order of business was stealing Rachel away from glee club by offering her the lead in Caberet, while she was still nursing a fresh wound to her ego, inflicted by Will when he gave a lead solo from West Side Story to Tina. How dare a teacher encourage his students to come out of their shells by giving them a chance to shine? – I think I’ve made this sarcastic remark in reference to Rachel before. She is extremely annoying.

I loved everything about the main football plot of this episode, from Kurt’s shocking tryout (because of his musical accompaniment and his accurate kicking ability) to the last second team dance shuffle that led to their winning touchdown. Of course, it’s absurd to think that an entire team of jocks would agree to get their groove on with the game on the line, or that the kicker would be able to request a specific song every time he kicked an extra point, but I laughed enough to last me until next week’s episode, it was all so fun.

Unfortunately for the CW, I was little more than bored during last week’s episode of Vampire Diaries. Stefan and Elena grew more starry-eyed over each other, but he found some time to try out for the football team. His vampire quickness and reflexes make him a natural, and his star power gave him an in with Elena’s previously skeptical ex, Matt. Matt’s sister Vicki continued to perplex Elena’s brother, Jeremy, and things escalated to the point of a pre-football game brawl between him and Tyler. This situation presented Elena with a not-so-subtle clue that Stefan is different, when his hand healed almost instantly after a broken liquor bottle cut his hand. Damon, meanwhile, has himself a nice set up, since he’s glamoring Caroline into forgetting that he is feeding off of her. As far as she knows, she’s just dating Stefan’s hot brother. Damon used this relationship to receive an invite into Elena’s house. Now he can get in any time he wants. It’s hard to figure out what his game is, since he first told Stefan that he was going to try to put the past behind him and be normal like his brother, but then he killed the football coach to prove to Stefan that he doesn’t have an ounce of humanity left. I was rather irritated by this death, since the coach/history teacher was just about the only adult on the show. I’ve complained before about the absence of authority figures in Mystic Falls, and now that Mr. Tanner is dead, Vampire Diaries really is turning into Charlie Brown, with fangs.

Not sure why I’m still watching Vampire Diaries, but for the time being I will keep giving it a chance. Bottom line: on last week’s football-centric episodes, Vampire Diaries fumbled the ball, and Glee scored a touchdown. (Sorry – couldn’t resist at least a couple of football metaphors.)

 

Vampire Diaries 1.2: Night of the Comet September 18, 2009

The drama was spilling over in abundance on this week’s episode of Vampire Diaries. In one corner you have Vicki, who is having hallucinations of creepy vampires in bathroom mirrors when she isn’t being glamoured by their “parlor tricks.” In another corner, you have Elena fretting about whether or not she’s ready to pursue a relationship with a brooding guy who has serious family issues and a broken heart from his previous girlfriend. In yet another corner, Aunt Jenna is struggling to maintain control of her teen charges before one of them ends up dropping out of school and going into rehab for an out of control drug habit. And finally, there’s a comet flying over Mystic Falls, which could either be simply a ball of snow and ice, or more forebodingly, a sign of bad things to come.

Stefan and Damons first confrontation over Elena, in their family home

Stefan and Damon's first confrontation over Elena, in their family home

I enjoyed this second episode much more than the pilot. I was especially drawn to Elena and Jeremy’s guardian, Aunt Jenna. We saw a more realistic view of her struggle to establish authority over Jeremy, and her feelings of inadequacy. I always like to see some family drama unfold on these shows, and between Aunt Jenna’s run-ins with Jeremy, and Stefan’s icy confrontation with Damon after Elena’s impromptu house call, there was plenty to go around. I also like Elena’s ex-boyfriend Matt. I know he’s supposed to be the dull human boy to Stefan’s mysterious and sexy vampire, but I like his rugged charm and protective attitude toward Elena and his sister, Vicki. Speaking of Vicki, she is played by Kayla Ewell, who I spotted this week on an episode of Freaks and Geeks. It’s interesting to note that she plays a high school student on both shows, since Freaks and Geeks aired ten years ago! She was 14 then, and was adorable as a fresh-faced newcomer who wasn’t ashamed to hang out with the geeks. Now look at her. She’s 24, and is somewhat annoying as a feisty high schooler who is embarrassed to let anyone know that she had a fling with younger Jeremy.

Kayla Ewell has been walking the halls of high school for ten years, since before she was Vicki on Vampire Diaries, she played a student on Freaks and Geeks.

Kayla Ewell has been walking the halls of high school for ten years, since before she was Vicki on Vampire Diaries, she played a student on Freaks and Geeks.

As for the music in episode two, I was especially glad to hear “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. Since my main association for this song is Kayla and Kupono’s emotionally charged contemporary dance about addiction on last season’s So You Think You Can Dance, it was strange to hear the song in the context of a budding relationship. Strangely, the song works well in both situations. The concept of something/someone bringing you down can be a negative, as in the affects of a drug addiction or an abusive relationship, but in Stefan and Elena’s case, the idea of them bringing each other down was a positive one, because they were grounding each other in reality, instead of getting caught up in the drama of “what ifs” and “what abouts.” Melodramatic? Maybe. But satisfying and romantic? Definitely. I thought it was a sweet way for this “epic” couple to start their relationship.

So, am I planning to watch episode three of this supernatural teen drama? Yes, I am. I like the direction the show is headed, including:

  • Elena and Stefan’s moody relationship
  • Damon’s mysterious evil plan for the town (“it’s time for a wake-up call”)
  • The family dynamics in the Gilbert household, as well as the Salvatore home. (What’s the deal with the brothers’ guardian referring to them as “uncle”? Is he like their family protector?)
  • The music – It really does enhance the viewing experience. I already mentioned the closing song, “Gravity,” but here’s a link to the rest of the songs from the episode.
  • The Salvatore house – I loved that we got a long, lingering look at the old-fashioned and elaborate interior of Stefan and Damon’s family home. Vampire shows give us an opportunity to delve into the customs, fashions, and decorating trends of the past, and so I’m glad the props and set designers on this show have taken the time (and money) to do so. (True Blood has set the current standard in this area, but at least its teen counterpart is trying.)

What do you like or not like about this show?