Saturday, May 10, 2008

Outwit, Outplay Out-Entertain

I The past few episodes of Survivor have been so entertaining, I think this season has become my favorite. I am not sure what it is surpassing, at this point even the good ones run together. I am thinking either Amazon or Cook Islands was somewhere near the top. But now? Fans versus Favorites is so far above either, I can't imaging what would have to happen for a season to be any better.

Early on, the season was just okay. I could barely keep track of who the fans were, and all the favorites I actually cared about kept getting voted out, or losing any likability. By the time the merge happened, the only person I cared about was Eliza. Who of course, was being targeted. But, this is when things got.....good.

A few episodes back, Jason had found the fake immunity idol that Ozzy had hid earlier in the season. He tries to give it to Eliza to save her, which led to a brilliant exchange where she told him the stick could not be the idol was just a stick. It was a great scene, and at the time, seemed like the highlight of the season. Unfortunately, it led to Eliza's departure. I assumed I wouldn't care about anything that happened after that. But, this is when things got....even better.

When Eliza saw Jason's "stick idol" she also outed the fact that Ozzy had the real idol to the rest of the tribe. At this point, Cirie started (and others) started wondering about when they could get rid of him. Meanwhile, the rest of the tribe is targeting Jason, and even convince him to quit an endurance immunity challenge, by saying they won't vote for him. When he TOTALLY needed immunity. It was almost painful to watch him make such a mistake. But, Ozzy had gotten pretty arrogant at this point and was convinced everyone was still going to vote for him. Which, Cirie decided was a perfect time to blindside him. She got together everyone who didn't seem to be in love with him (including Parvati, Ozzy's friend) and voted him out....despite him having the hidden immunity idol and not playing it. Ozzy was completely shocked, and it was a great tribal council.

After a really good blindside, you expect a boring episode. But in this case....things kept getting better.

This time Jason was sent to exile island and found a new real hidden immunity idol. This was bad, because everyone wanted to vote him out. So, this time Natalie worked some magic and convinced him that she sent him to Exile to help him and that they are working together. Then, she voted with everyone else to get rid of him....despite him having the hidden immunity idol and not playing it. Jason was completely shocked.

So, of course, I thought there couldn't be three blindsides relating to the hidden idol in a row, right? But then, next week James was medivaced off and Erik won immunity. This meant, the 5 remaining women had to turn on their own alliance. Everyone but Parvati and Amanda planned to vote for Amanda. Afterall, Amanda had come back from Exile and emptied her bag, showing them she didn't have the hidden immunity idol. So, she couldn't play it. But what they didn't know, was that the idol was hidden at camp. So after Amanda proved to them she didn't have it, she dug it up, and then spent the rest of the day putting on an Oscar-worthy performance. The woman was practically in tears. At tribal council she went on and on about how awful it went to be going home. Then once the votes were cast, she whipped out the idol. Alexis and Natalie both knew it was one of them, and both looked sick. It ended up being Alexis, and it was a great tribal council. got even better this past week. Erik won much needed immunity and guaranteed his spot in the final four. The remaining women, who had been in a final four alliance were bummed that they had to start eating each other. That is when Cirie casually throws out, the idea of Erik giving up his necklace. Natalie thought it was the stupidest idea she ever heard, because who the hell gives up immunity? But, since she was out if that didn't happen, she gave it a shot. I was sitting at home, wondering why they were spending so much time showing Cirie and Natalie try to convince him when it obviously wasn't going to work. And did. Erik hands over the necklace. Then they immediately vote him out. I don't think anyone at the tribal council had a straight face. I almost felt bad for Erik, because I hate seeing people embarrassed. But it was highly entertaining.

At this point we are going into the last episode with four women I don't necessarily like, but who have all played a good game. I don't think I have ever said at final four I would be happy with any winner. The fact that they are all women makes it even better - I have been a little disappointed by the string of male winners lately.

I hope the finale lives up to the last few episodes. I am not sure how, but, hey. I have been saying that for weeks.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Unstuck in Time

Last week’s Lost was a slight let down compared to the previous week’s mind-blowing Sayid centered episode. However, last night’s awesome Desmond episode more than made up for it. Desmond’s last episode was one of the best of last season, if for no other reason than the introduction of time travel possibilities on/from the island. Last night’s episode went even further.

While flying on the helicopter, Desmond suddenly flashed to eight years ago, when he was in the army. Unlike most “flashbacks,” however, Desmond seemed to actually travel from 2004 in the helicopter to 1996. When he returned, he had no memory of anything that happened in the last eight years, or the island. This led to a lot of confusion, twists, and time travel philosophy – all of which resulted in a great episode. There was little focus on the actual island, but it didn’t really matter.

Something is clearly up with this guy. We already know he is a little “off” and have seen hints of his memory problems. Now, we learned that this is probably the result of time travel himself. After the current Faraday instructed Desmond to find him in the past, we learned that his past self has a perfectly working memory and seems quite smart. He even wondered why his future self wouldn’t remember Desmond. I am guessing that Desmond’s visit led him to start experimenting with time himself, resulting in the memory gaps.

The Black Rock
In 1996, we saw that Charles Windmore was buying a journal from the first mate of the Black Rock. Since this is the boat sitting on the middle of the island, we know it probably contains secrets about all the weirdness of the island. More interestingly, the previous owner was the Hanso family. This explains why Hanso founded Dharma to experiment on the island. It also suggests that Windmore had started looking for the island as well, and is probably responsible for the team on the boat. I don’t know if this explains who Ben is working for exactly, but it certainly answers a lot of questions.

Happy Ending
The last three episodes of Lost have ended with some type of “twist” at the end, along with reveals about the future. This episode had a simple happy ending. After past Desmond begged past Penny to give him her phone number, future Desmond was able to call her. Since we know Penny has been looking for Desmond for the last three years, and we know that Desmond has considered her his “constant” even before he was told that term. So, the fact that they connected at the end was really a beautiful moment.

The Time Thing
Two weeks ago, we were given hints that time moves differently off the island than on. Yesterday, it was revealed that off the island is December 24, 2004, the same time as on the island. However, it took a day and a half for the helicopter to get to the boat, even though the flight didn’t take that long. Also, Faraday pointed out that the Losties perception of time might not match reality. My new theory is that TIME is the same on and off the island, but some type of force field around the island causes it to take awhile to get there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Turn for the Better

Tuesday’s Jerricho finally sucked me back into the show. It took a few episodes, but it felt like the show was really getting back to its core idea; a show about a town struggling to make its own way when disaster strikes. The first few episodes of the second season seemed like a completely different show – the new government was running the town, the electricity was back on, and the citizens of Jerricho were no longer struggling just to find food. There were storylines introduced about various government conspiracies, but they did not involve most members of the cast, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Tuesday, made me care again. The plot focused on the Hudson Virus, the deadly virus spreading west towards Jerricho. Jennings and Rall, who is running things, did not want this information out and tried to destroy the supply of the vaccine that Dale had tracked down. This is when the show felt real to me, because it is when Jake and the other main characters bonded together to steal the vaccine back and administer it secretly.

I also really enjoyed the emotional scenes with Bonnie and Stanley. It was so sweet to see him tell her how he just wanted her to be happy, and to see Bonnie excited, and yet ambivalent about leaving home. The follow up scene, where Mimi promised Bonnie she would take care of Stanley almost made me tear up. Of course, this means that Bonnie is probably leaving for a while and I’ll miss seeing one of the best characters. But, it is almost worth it to see those scenes. It is rare to see families that just honestly care about each in a real way, and not overly sappy/corny.

The conspiracy side of the story, finally started getting interesting, since Robert Hawkins started interacting with Jennings and Rall. It seemed to raise the stakes a little, by letting that happen, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. However, that probably won’t be too far – ratings this season have been terrible, which means there is no way CBS is going to renew it for more than seven episodes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Back From the Apocalypse

When Jericho premiered a year and a half ago, I was a huge fan. But by the middle of the season, it seemed like the most interesting events had already happened. Judging by the ratings, I was not alone in losing interest in the show. Yes, some episodes had good moments, but as a whole I stopped caring. By the time it was cancelled last spring, I was almost relieved. It gave me an excuse to stop watching. Even though the cliffhanger had intrigued me, it was still not enough to really want a new season.

But, as everyone knows by now, the cancellation didn’t stick. Fans sent in nuts, and the show came back from the dead. Since those campaigns never work, I feel like the show has to succeed now, or any future save our show campaigns will be laughed at even more. So, I watch the new season opener the other night. I wanted to get back into it, but I just could not bring myself to care. A conclusion to the cliffhanger was rushed out and some new exposition set up a new storyline. The explanation to what I thought was most interesting - the new version of an American flag hanging – was the most rushed of all, and explained with a few sentences about how a new government was formed after the attacks. After that, I just couldn’t bring myself to care anymore.

A government contractor all over the town is rebuilding things. This total overrides the original idea of the show about a small town closed off out of nuclear attacks. Some general-type commanding everyone is much less interesting than an isolated town deciding what laws to follow and how to enforce them on their own.

The few highlights included the scenes with Mimi and Stanley. Those two had the subplot, mostly made up of pure character scenes. They were as entertaining as ever. I did miss Bonnie, and hope she is not totally erased. I also enjoyed Heather’s scenes, and was glad she was back. Her character was always one of the most likable, and I hope if Jericho continues, she ends up with Jake (instead of Emily who makes me crazy). The last highlight – a character eating peanuts. Of course.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Questions

I can’t quite decide what I thought of last night’s Lost. I definitely enjoyed it, but it was a little bit of a let down after last week’s incredible premiere. The show didn’t reveal another member of the Oceanic Six, instead focusing on who I guess are four new cast members – the people from the freighter who are there to “rescue” everyone. The show took a slightly different approach, showing four flashback scenes of each person. It felt a little odd, but in the end I think it worked. There is probably not much else we need to know about any of them. Plus, they were able to work in some new strange details about the flight/island.

  • The “rescuers” revealed that their primary goal is to find Ben - presumably, to hurt him. This is fine by me, and I am sure most of the characters on the show. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t just hand him over and then ask for a ride. Ben tried to save himself by showing that he knows all about the team who landed on the island. I almost expected him to reveal he knew everything because Jacob told him or some other mystical reason. However, the real answer was much more interesting – he has a man on their boat. I wonder just how much contact Ben has with the outside world. The new characters had a picture of him. Was it from on the island, or has he left it at some point?
  • Abaddon, who we were introduced to last week is revealed to be “in charge” of the rescue mission. However, last week Hurley didn’t recognize him, so obviously he does not reveal himself to the passengers, and does not get what he is looking for. Otherwise, he would not need to bug Hurley in the future. So what happened?
  • Naomi was supposed to be in charge of getting the rest of the team in and out. What exactly did she know that the others didn’t? And how is her death going to affect the “mission?”
  • In the past, Charlotte found a polar bear skeleton with a Dharma collar – in Tunisia. Does this mean Dharma had other locations where they were testing? Does she work for whatever Dharma is now? They could be their to get revenge on Ben. The gas mask that Dan had in his bag was very similar to the one Ben wore when he helped kill the original Dharma. But how would anyone off the island know that?
  • The remains of Oceanic 815 were found in the Indian Ocean? That seems like the wrong place for a plane flying from Australia to L.A. So, how did whatever the plane is get there. And how did the rescuers know that Flight 815 was connected to the island they were looking for?

Hopefully, I will get some of the answers revealed in the remaining episodes. If
not, I hope each episode is still exciting enough to simply enjoy the die.

Well, that was anti-climactic

That was my reaction to the first episode of Survivor: Fans v. Favorites. For weeks CBS has been promoting how Johnny Fairplay is going to be back, and how is the guy who told “the biggest lie in Survivor history,” etc, etc, etc. Then last night, not only is he the first person voted off, but he asked to be voted off? I didn’t quite believe him when he started talking about wanted to be near his pregnant girlfriend. It seemed very fake. For awhile I thought he was going along with Parvati’s scheme to fake out the other half of the team. But in the end he was voted off and he didn’t seem upset about it. The whole thing felt very staged, actually.

Other than that, not much happened. We barely saw the “fans” team. I don’t think I even know any of their names yet. I just picked up on the one woman who has been called “the crazy lady” by her teammates. I can already tell she is going to be annoying, but I literally did not see enough of that team to get an impression on anyone else.

The focus, was really on the favorites, which was a little annoying. I thought it was funny when they all were introduced and only half of them got real welcomes. The rest were polite applause as the fans tried to remember who they were and why they were there. Again, I’ll ask, Eliza? Amanda? Really? I liked both of them, but they seem like odd choices.

All the time spent on the favorites, showed how their tribe is already split. There is an alliance of Ami, Eliza, Jonathon, and Yau Man (who I am already rooting for), and an alliance of James, Parvati, Ozzy, and Amanda (who I am already annoyed by). I didn’t mind Amanda and Ozzy so much last time but the fact that they are already coupling and are so buddy-buddy with James and Parvati (who are also coupling) troubles me. We didn’t see much of Cirie, which I thought was weird. I hope it is not a bad sign, since I think she is a great contestant. Next week, I am sure she will become the swing vote and whatever alliance she chooses will point the game in one direction or another.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In a prison of boredom

I feel like an awful fan, because I have completely lost track of everything that is going on on Prison Break. I was already a little lost in November when the show went on hiatus. Now, that it is back, I have not been able to get back on track. This is probably a sign that I don’t really care that much about the show. But while watching, all I could think about was how I have seen everything before and never gotten pay off. It makes it difficult to stay focused.

Two weeks ago the show had a cliffhanger where Sofia found a suitcase in Whistler’s closet. I don’t think we ever found out what was in it, but she seems a little doubtful about trusting him. I guess that was supposed to be building tension to the cliffhanger? But, it really just confused me.

The rest of the story is just more of the same. Michael is digging a tunnel and there are now enough people breaking out of Sona with him to form a baseball team. I did laugh when Michael reported to Lincoln how many people have to come with him. But it all just reminds me of season one, when the same thing happened. I am sure this will result the same way – way too many characters on the run in different places.

I also realized at the end, I have no idea what the full plan is. Did they reveal it and I just missed it? All I know is they are digging halfway out and then need something else to happen. But I can’t quite figure out what, and I can’t quite bring myself to care. I am sure something will happen to get some people out, and something else will happen to stop others, and it will continue on and on forever. After so many set backs and so many new plans it is hard to keep caring.

Wildly Unrealistic

The writers of Wildfire must have heard my pleas from the other week looking for some Kris/Dani interaction because there has been a ton of it the past two weeks. I loved their conversation where they both admitted not having a lot of female friends in the past, and was pleased to see Dani supporting Kris even though Jean and Pablo are still angry at her for the match race. It is a little surprising, since Dani lost a lot from that race when she wasn’t even involved. However, she has seemed to move on and it shows character growth, so I am okay with it.

In the premiere, I was pretty neutral towards Juinor’s new girlfriend, but now I am starting to dislike her. She rolled her eyes along with Juinor when they were discussing their controlling fathers, but didn’t seem to have any problem with the wedding announcement or the politicians being invited to the wedding. That is definitely a bad sign when it comes to her relationship with Juinor. She also didn’t initially support Juinor’s desire to invest in the wind turbine, which was obviously done in a way to contrast her with Kris. Kris fairly quickly encouraged Juinor to take a risk for what he thought was right, and I think the idea was to show she was better suited to Juinor’s “free spirit.” As I have said, there is no way the show is going to let Juinor go off and marry someone else, and I think this is setting that up.

My one real complaint is this whole idea that Wildfire is going to make a miraculous recovery because Kris shows up. Now, I know that that is the point of the show. Kris has a bond with Wildfire and can get him to run faster than anyone else, blah, blah, blah. But seriously? That scene at the end where Wildfire jumped over a fence to get to Kris when he could barely walk the day before? A little too crazy for my taste. It was probably supposed to make me feel good, but I just rolled my eyes.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Visions of Silliness

I am not going to compare Eli Stone to Ally McBeal. That is way too easy a comparison and I like to think I am above it. There were some obvious similarities, what with the show centering on a young lawyer who starts having hallucinations. However, the Ally similarities were not why I didn't like this show. I actually DID like Ally McBeal for the first few seasons, but I was not impressed with Eli Stone.

The problem was that the show didn't seem to know what side of the fence it was on. It spent a great deal of time establishing that Eli's visions had some kind of meaning and were guiding him on what case to take. But only halfway through the pilot, they throw in his medical diagnosis of the aneurysm. I know they did that whole thing with the acupuncturist talking about how there are two reasons for everything, the scientific and the divine, but the whole thing felt rushed to make a point. The concept may have worked better if Eli was having visions and others suggesting he was a prophet for several episodes, and THEN get the aneurysm diagnosis. It would make him questioning the cause of his visions more powerful.

My second problem with the show was the trial itself. There was all sorts of press about the medical community protesting the case the show was presenting - about how vaccine's can cause autism. This is apparently something that is medically unproven. But aside from that, I had an issue with how Eli tried the case. He actually said in his closing that the jury should decide the verdict based on their faith even though he didn't prove anything. That seems like something that should not be said on a lawyer show.

There were some positive moments. I enjoyed the mother's joke about how the autistic boy was Eli's son - "Yeah, I was pregnant for eight years." Plus, anything with Victor Garbor is worth watching. However, I will never be able to see him without thinking of SpyDaddy - not that that's such a bad thing.

I'll probably keep watching, simply because there is not a whole lot to look forward to on television these days. If it improves, it could become an enjoyable show. If not, it will be my first sacrifice once the writers' strike is over and my usual shows are back on.

Lost and Wondering

Lost is probably one of the most complicated shows to blog about. This is mainly because there are a thousand different sites out there that write thousands of words analyzing every single line of dialog, studying screen captures of every second, finding metaphors in every characters' name. I think people spend more time picking each episode apart than people in my college literature classes spent analyzing novels.

Because of my general opinion that Lost is only enjoyable if you look at it like a fun escapist hour, this is not going to be one of those blog entries. I just don't find it as fulfilling as some do. When Alias, another JJ Abrams show, was at its peak, I did the over analyzing thing. And at the end of the day, it all came down to nothing. Even though JJ isn't writing Lost anymore, I still don't want to get too involved in a show that promises more mystery than it can probably answer.

All that being said, the premiere last night was certainly one of the top episodes - absolutely higher than last years opening episode. Season three was a let down at many levels, but the introduction of flash forwards in the finale made up for that. Season four started where that one left off, and while it hasn't answered any previous questions, it asked enough new ones that I don't care what the monster is at the moment. To summarize:

  • Who are the Oceanic Six? Or the rest of them, as the case may be?
  • Why did the leave some people on the island? And more importantly, why does the public think they are dead?
  • Why does Jack go from fairly together in his post island life to wanting to go back like he did in the finale last year?
  • If Hurley went with Locke, how does he end up "rescued" with Jack and Kate?
  • Who the hell is Jacob and why does his house seem to move? And why can only some people see him?
  • Who was the person Hurley saw in the cabin?

And what is actually most present in my mind -
  • is Desmond ever going to give Claire the note Charlie wrote before he died?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Depressing Girl

I decided to watch Hallmark’s “The Russell Girl” on Sunday night, not because I am a huge fan of their movies, but because I had seen a decent review of it earlier in the weekend. I also read some positive comments about it from Amber Tamblyn, who I am a fan of. Normally I would ignore an actor praising a project they worked on, since they are essentially required to promote the movie/show. However, in this case I was disappointed.

The movie started out with Tamblyn’s character being diagnosed with cancer, so you know the depressing tone of the movie right away. But “The Russell Girl” was not just depressing because a main character had cancer, it was depressing because everyone shown was way too unhealthy emotionally. It made it uncomfortable to watch – maybe some people enjoy watching characters who are hurting themselves and each other, but I don’t.

Most of the characters appeared to take steps forward towards the end of the movie, and I guess this was supposed to be uplifting. I don’t think the writing pulled this off though. There needed to be a stronger reason that the people were changing, and I just didn’t see that happening. It seemed more like the everyone got to the last third of the film, and decided they needed to act differently to create a good ending, rather then events unfolding organically.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Last Betty for now

Of course, Ugly Betty would air the last episode before a writers’ strike induced hiatus with a cliffhanger.

I must not have been paying attention to casting news for this show, because I had no idea that Gabrielle Union had been cast as a guest star, let alone that she would be playing Whilimena’s sister. I could tell there was something off about Renee after she started hitting on Daniel, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. I do like the idea of giving family to Whilemina, especially if it means restarting the Slater/Meade family feud. I will be eagerly waiting the return of this show to find out what Renee's secret is.

Which brings me to the Christina as a surrogate story, which is already starting to add to the show. Her slinking around Whilimena’s apartment picking up the dirt, is a good set up conflict for this new storyline with Renee. It is also nice, because it means that what happens with Whilimena will finally have an impact on the folks at Mode. She is too great a character to remain isolated for long.

Another thing that came out of this episode is Claire starting her own magazine. I love this idea. It will give Judith Light’s character something to do now that the murder trial is over, and I can imagine the situations it will lead to. I wouldn’t want a new magazine to take away from anything going on at Mode, but I think seeing more staff members around will be entertaining.

There is not really much to say on the Betty portion of the story. As I have said, her character interests me the least. I agreed with Daniel that she was being immature by not wanting to interview the writer of a “How to Pick Up Chicks” book, I knew he was playing her, and I knew the writer’s dating tips would work. And honestly, I had no interest in watching any of it. I would have much preferred to see more of Amanda writing her song. Amanda is not someone I would want to know in real life, but she has some of the funniest lines. A story like her’s – where she contacts her rock-star-biological-father by writing him a song – would only happen on Ugly Betty. This is what makes the show entertaining.

Chuck Sandwich

Chuck is definitely one of the shows I have missed the most as the writers’ strike drags on, so I was pleased with the “Chuck Sandwich” that NBC served up last night. Of the two episodes, I thought the first one was much better, although I liked the second one as well. This was mainly because I have wanted backstory on Agent Casey for awhile and because the dramatic stakes in the second episode were a little contrived.

As soon as I saw the flashback to Casey and his girlfriend I knew that she was going to end up being a spy as well. I also knew she was not going to really be dead (not that I can take too much credit for knowing that – they would not have started the episode with a flashback if the character was not going to be important. I was impressed with the way the show handled the reveal though. Letting her be good, without giving her and Casey a happy ending seemed fitting for the show.

Giving Casey a romantic interest and more of a backstory gave Chuck and Casey more bonding time, which played out very well on screen. So much of the show has been focused on the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Casey and Sarah’s relationship, that Casey’s place in the whole mess has gotten the brush-off. This helped make up for that. Chuck teasing Casey about Ilsa was one of the most humorous moments of last night.

The second episode had its good points as well. The storyline with Captain Awesome proposing to Ellie was sweet and the Buy More employees reacting to the robbery added to the joke quota. And I did have to laugh at the bad guy (so to speak) being revealed to be a pita delivery girl. Apparently in the world of Chuck, all women spies go undercover as food service employees in skimpy customers.

But since the premise of the show revolves around Chuck not being sent into hiding, we knew that episode would end with Sarah and Casey finding the receiver and no one finding out that Chuck is the intersect. This is not the first time the show has used this as the conflict of an episode, and I am sure it won’t be the last. But Chuck works best when the show acknowledges this will never happen and finds another source for their drama.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guilty Pleasure: Wildfire

When it comes to television, I have more than one "guilty pleasure." I think that term means different things to different people, so I'll elaborate. I have more than one show I am embarrassed to admit to watching, usually because they are meant for people a few years younger than me. One of these is the ABC Family series Wildfire. I don't know quite what it is about the show, I don't have any interest in horse and there are more than a couple plausibility issues with the plot. Regardless, I was still giddy about the premiere of Season 4 last night.

Season 3 ended last March, so the details of how it ended were not completely fresh in my mind. But I did remember the basics and the cliffhanger - Kris losing her jockey license, Dani losing her racing license, Kris leaving with almost everyone hating her, Raintree losing its horse. Oh, and of course, the final scene, with Kris walking down a highway and looking into someone's car window.

That last part was resolved right away, with pretty much a nothing conclusion. It was Dani in the car. This was obvious to anyone who has seen the previews since they reveal Kris is gone from Raintree when the series starts. If anyone else had been in the car, they would have convinced her to come home. However, I was a little disappointed that Dani being in the car didn't mean the two girls were about to have some 'Thelma and Louise'-like bonding experience. They did hug at the lead in to the credits, but other than that, it doesn't seem like there was a whole lot of interaction between the two in the months that passed before the premiere. Hopefully, now that Kris is back, the two will have that - I have always thought they would be better friends than enemies.

Meanwhile, Raintree farms was turned into a dude ranch for tourists and has given up racing. I am not sure this is so bad. The ranch was always in danger of losing money, and a plot like that can only last for so long without the characters looking dumb. This will sort of solve that. However, I don't buy for a minute that Wildfire is going to be retired. This show is fairly predictable, so I see Kris coming back, helping him get his times up, him winning again, her getting her racing license back, etc.

Speaking of predictable, let's talk about Junior. last night. As soon as I saw that girl on the side of the road, I knew she was going to be Junior's new love interest. But I will admit to being a Kris/Junior shipper, so I kind of hope that doesn't work out. And as much as the previews have shown "Junior's wedding" I don't buy that he will actually get married - unless it is the season finale and he is marrying Kris. However, speaking of Kris/Junior, I do feel a little bad for Matt. He spends six months pining for Kris and when he goes to see her all she cares about is her horse and Junior? It is a bit of a slap in the face.

In total, I was a little disappointed about the premiere, but I think a lot of that is because the premiere was trying to re-establish storylines. I am still looking forward to the rest of the season - I have high hopes that there will be some good stuff with Kris reestablish her connection with Paublo and Dani finally getting recognition for how awesome she is.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Free at Last

After seeing the previews for this week's Ugly Betty, I didn't think I would enjoy it nearly as much as I did. The clips of Betty acting "crazy" and Ignacio thinking she was pregnant seemed a bit cringe worthy. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely it played out.

To start with, America Ferrera did a fantastic job at becoming unhinged. I think that because she has been playing the same character for almost two seasons it is easy to forget that she does such a good job at it. When she gave a hysterical performance playing a drugged Betty, I was reminded of her talents. There were so many points where I was laughing out loud - her singing in the kitchen, her jumping on Henry in the elevator, and her complimenting Amanda's "sparkly" shirt. This also gave a Betty a chance to interact more with Gio. I know I just said last week that I was glad Betty and Henry are together. And I still stand by that. But America Ferrera has a lot more chemistry with Freddy Rodriguez than she does with Christopher Gorham. A lot of the appeal of Betty/Henry last season was the "will they won't they" factor. As what often happens, once they are together it gets a little boring. But Betty and Gio are at a more argumentative stage, and it is more fun to watch - and since my feeling about Ugly Betty is that it is all about fun, this is a strong factor.

This was all going on in the background of Claire's trial for Faye's murder. I have to say, that I love the way the this played out. I assumed that they would have Claire found guilty, mostly because it keeps the angst alive. But her being found not-guilty gives Judith Light a chance to have more storylines, she has done brilliant work in the past, so this is a definite plus. I also liked the twist that Claire only killed Faye because Faye had poisoned her perfume. It added to mythology that Faye was essentially a bitch and made Claire seem less cold-hearted. It was a little unrealistic the way the trial ended - hidden diary pages and poisoned perfume show up in court and there is a not-guilty verdict that day? Not very likely. But it let Amanda and Marc have a stake in the trial, and was a way to wrap up the storyline quickly. And again, it was definitely fun.

I'll talk more about the Christina as Whilemina's surrogate next week, since it seems like that story will really play out then. I love the idea, and think it holds a lot of promise for great storylines. I knew Christina would eventually end up being the surrogate, so it was a little tiresome to see the red herrings about other ways to raise money for her husband's surgery. For that matter, it is a little contrived to have Christina's husband show up out of the blue needing surgery. But, if that is what is needed to start the story going, I am okay with it. I'm glad to see that Betty already knows what is happening and is being supportive. We already had the plot where Betty found out about Christina helping Whilemina, and I didn't want to repeat it. It also shows how Betty has grown as a character, which I liked - a lot of shows aren't able to do that. But I have a feeling everything will be shot to hell when it is revealed who the father of Whilemina's baby is. Personally, I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unhappily Ever After

Ever since Sarah was killed off of Prison Break, I have slowly been losing interest in the show. With her gone, there is no way for Michael to have the happy ending I have been imagining for almost three seasons. The impact of this, is that I care less about what happens. Despite this, I still want Michael to eventually get out of SONA and for him and Lincoln to have some sense of peace. I had almost forgotten what had happened in the last episode before the hiatus, but most of it came back to me as the episode continued.

I was surprised to see Michael give up so easily when he was in "the box." When the general first put him in there, I thought about how I could actually see his mind working out a solution to this latest problem. But apparently the heat was too much for him. Even so, after he started spilling everything he knew about the company, I still thought he had a plan. There was something about the way he looked at Whistler (when the other prisoner was brought in to confirm the story), that felt like there was more going on. Unfortunately, that didn't really turn out to be the case. And unfortunately for Michael, trusting an authority figure (possibly the one authority figure that is not corrupt), did not help him save LJ or get out of prison.

There was not a lot of focus on Lincoln in this episode, but I did like most of what they showed. There is something very attractive about a man sacrificing something to save his children, and that is pretty much all Lincoln has done this season. Last night, his interaction with Sofia also seemed to take a step forward. This might have a lot to do with Sofia's lack of trust with Whistler. I don't buy for a second that he only had that secret apartment to set up a life for him and Sofia, and I don't think she did either. The story looks like it will end with Whistler proving himself loyal to the "company," and Sofia running off with Lincoln and Michael - whenever the escape eventually happens. At least there would be one couple to like happily ever after.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Online Entertainment

A few weeks ago I finally got around to watching Quarterlife online. The great thing about it being an online show, is that I had the option of doing this on my own time, instead of watching on schedule.

The short episodes (about ten minutes each) have a lot more entertainment in them than I would have expected. I think the short segments force the writers to cram in only relevant dialog and action into the show. The web show is created by the forces behind "My So-Called Life," a fact that is almost obvious. One of the main characters, Dylan, seems so much like Angela Chase grown up that it is scary. The show feels like what Friends would have been like as a melodrama. There is a core group of twenty-somethings living in a city. However, instead of sitting around coffee shows making jokes, they are talking (or video-blogging) about the problems in their lives. This is not as annoying as it sounds, almost all the characters are likable. One exception is Debra. I liked her character well enough, until the episode where she and her boyfriend, Danny, broke up. Her story changed from best friend/supporting character to depressed girl. I can certainly understand the dramatic reasons for this, but I have never found it interesting to watch a depressed person mope. To state it obviously, it is depressing.

I am much more interested in following Dylan. She revealed she was in love with Jed, but since he has also proven to be interested in Debra, I am hoping nothing happens with Jed/Dylan. No one deserves to be dating someone who is in love with someone else. When Eric was introduced, I was also against Eric/Dylan as a couple. I know a lot of people think two characters who fight are meant to be, but often people just fight because they dislike each other. Early on, this was what I thought described Dylan/Eric. But now that they have kissed, I am starting to see that they could be a couple. However, I also have a feeling Dylan is the type of person who is happier being miserable, so it will be interesting to watch her in a good relationship.

Fun Betty's Friends

Watching Ugly Betty never fails to entertain me. It is often over-the-top and often has ridiculous or unrealistic plots, but it is always hysterical and enjoyable. I think about half the lines are so out-there that I can't believe they can say them on prime time television.

This past week, was the first time I also saw the possibility of Betty and Daniel as a couple. I know hearing about the original version of this show that Betty/Daniel is the endgame and have never been happy about it. The relationship between the two seemed better as boss/assistant teaming up to succeed at the magazine. This past week, got me thinking there could really be something more. The way Daniel agreed to use healthy models because of how Betty felt, and the way that Betty was so upset Daniel was willing to sell out felt like a step forward for them. I have previously seen hints that the writers were trying to do this, but usually saw them as forced. This past week, the chemistry was just right. I still may not be happy about the two as an eventual couple, but if things continue in this direction, I will be willing to consider it in a couple seasons.

However, despite the show being about her, Betty is the character I am least interested in right now. I am happy she is finally with Henry, and hope that he doesn't actually leave at the end of the season, but her scenes are just not the ones I focus on. Who would, when there is so much else going on? This season alone there has been Alexis not remembering her sex-change, Amanda searching for her father, Bradford's death, and now Whilemina using Bradford's (sort of stolen) sperm to have his heir. Throw in Justin doing pretty much anything, or Marc and Amanda's banter, and there is almost no need for Betty's presence.

The Gossip Hour

It is almost strange how all the shows I was most excited about at the beginning of this television season didn't live up to my expectations, while all the pilots I didn't care about that much got better and better.

I already talked about Journeyman becoming one of my favorite shows, and now it is time to discuss Gossip Girl. Originally, I thought this just a bad imitation of The OC. Even with Josh Schwartz creating both shows, Gossip Girl just didn't seem to capture the essence of its predecessor. But it turns out, it just needed some time to catch its footing. After a few episodes, the characters got more depth, the adults got more to do, and the plots increased in depth. Meanwhile, I was hooked.

Last Wednesday's episode dealt with Blair's pregnancy scare. The idea is a little cliche (as are most of the plots on Gossip Girl), but I really enjoyed the way this played out. As bitchy as she is, I can't help but love Blair. As more sides to her personality are revealed, she becomes almost relatable. And even though their relationship is a little twisted, I am completely into her and Chuck as a couple. It is obvious she is more herself with him than with Nate, and there is always something very enjoyable about seeing two "evil" characters team up. In real life, I certainly wouldn't want to deal with them, but as fictional people it works perfectly for entertainment.

The episode ended with Blair ready to leave town to avoid a scandal. I thought it was great to callback the beginning of the series when Serena was returning to town after doing exactly the same thing. Instead of following through on this, the show went the more interesting route of having Serena stop Blair from leaving. If the writer's strike ever ends, I will be looking forward to seeing how Blair as an outcast plays out.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Survivor Cast Announced

Survivor is practically the only reality show I watch. And even though the writers' strike looks like it will be continuing long enough to push all the scripted drama's I like off the air, I refuse to watch any more. That is why I am glad this season of Survivor looks like it will shape up to be a good one. I was really excited when I heard the idea of "Fans v. Favorites." It is a nice twist on the All-Stars idea, which did not really work when Survivor tried it previously. Last week, CBS announced the cast, which suggests the season will live up to my expectations. I was a little disappointed that there will be twenty contestants (WAY too many), but other then that I am still excited about the upcoming season.

I usually never bother commenting on the new cast mates, because I don't think an online bio is ever enough to really gauge an opinion. This season is no exception, those contestants look pretty generic-the hot girl, the strong guy, the potential outcast, etc. But the "favorites" have all been on screen before, and for the most part left a strong impression.

I was a huge fan of Cirie from Exile Islands, Yau-Man from Fiji, and Jonathan from Cook Islands. All three of them were great members of the cast, who seemed "real" enough to provide entertaining commentaries. I would have been thrilled with any of them winning, and am glad they all have a second chance.

I am undecided about the rest of contestants from Cook Islands. Ozzy was great in challenges, and likable enough, but I don't really remember much else about him. A challenge monster as big as him, actually may become boring - it is much more interesting to see a close race in the challenges. Parvati was not one of my favorites. I am never a huge fan of women who come on the show with a strategy of "flirt to win." However, she did give some humorous commentaries so I am willing to hold out on giving an opinion.

I will admit to remembering very little about Eliza and Ami from Vanuatu. I know Eliza was painted as annoying, but I do recall pulling for her. Ami is the one who tried to form an all girls' alliance. I almost hope she succeeds with that this time. Survivor has been seriously lacking in female winners in the past few years, and the feminist in me would love to see another woman come out on top. However, I also remember Ami becoming obnoxious as the season went on, so I am not sure I am 100% thrilled was her return. Either way, both she and Eliza have a lot of promise for being great contestants.

The two members from the last season in China, are also toss ups. James, from this past season, also provided decent entertainment at some point, although I did not like him as much as the general population seemed to. There was definite moments where I wanted him voted off. Regardless, I am intrigued to see how he plays a second time around. I hadn't really thought much about Amanda, until the end of the season, but by that point really wanted her to win. I am hoping she does well and is more of a stand out character in her second chance.

As for Johnny Fairply (Pearl Islands), I have no idea what the producers were thinking. This is the guy who lied about his grandmother dying, not really to get sympathy, but to get attention. Putting him on the show again just seems to be asking for trouble. Maybe he will get voted out first, so I can enjoy a long strech of the season with a good twist and what seems to be a good cast (or at least half a cast).

Missing Journeyman

Tomorrow is the first Monday where it is hitting me that Journeyman is not on anymore. I know I originally said I was not a fan of the show. But after the first couple episodes, this series really started to improve. By the time the last episode aired last month, it had become one of the shows I looked forward to most. Once the show set up its premise, it became less about what Dan was doing in the past, and more about the character's relationships.

As we learned more about Livia, I started to like her more and more. The twist that she was from 1948 and jumped into the future not the past, was an intriguing concept that is not usually seen in time travel stories. I wish there had been more time for the show to explore it.

I also started become more involved in Dan's relationship with Katie. It is a nice change to see events from the perspective of the person left behind. Once she believed what was happening with Dan, Katie became less annoying and more sympathetic.

I am glad that despite cancellation, and the writer's strike, Journeyman still got a decent series finale. The last few episodes, were probably some of the best. The episode where Dan inadvertently changes the past so that Zach (his son) was born as his daughter gave me the chills. I knew that Dan would "fix" things, by the end of the episode, but it was still great to watch.

By the end, the show didn't answer every question about why Dan was time traveling, but that almost didn't matter. The last few minutes of the series, where Dan told Katie he wanted to continue traveling, but would always come home, gave enough closure for both Dan's travelling and for his and Katie's relationship. The very last scene, where Dan let Katie see him "journey" was a perfect ending.