Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 1

Ok, the best way to describe this show so far is that it makes me pee. What does that mean, you ask? Well, it could mean that I like Joss Whedon so much that every time he does something, the little girl inside me loses all bladder control and I wet my pants. (Not a bad guess) Or, it could mean that the show is well done and tense.

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but the second answer is the correct one.  Of course, I do love me some Joss.  Firefly was one of my favorite shows for that whole season that it was on.

So episode 1 of Dollhouse starts of with a confusing interview between two people we don't know at all yet and they don't seem to use names or anything to help us out.  Thanks.  The gist of the interview is that Eliza Dushku (who I'm sick of being told is attractive.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but her face bothers me.  I'll keep you posted as I work on better articulating my dislike for her face.) did something bad and she's facing the consequences, but anonymous-older-lady is offering her a way out with a tone that suggests major strings are attached.

Next thing you know, we're in the midst of a motorcycle "race."  I put "race" in quotes because in spite of the director's best efforts, they are clearly moving along at the break neck pace of 3-5 miles per hour (that's 4-8 kilometers per hour for everyone else not in the US.).  At one point, Eliza dumps her bike, no doubt because it's hard to keep those things upright when moving along at the pace of a two legged horse, then tosses off her helmet because that's obviously why she couldn't execute a ninety degree turn at top speed.  This kind of devil may care attitude is clearly being used to show us that she no longer has to deal with the consequences of making poor choices.  I can dig it.  She takes off after the other motorcycle with hair all flowing in the wind.  (by the way, anyone ever ridden a motorcycle before? Yeah, pretty much anything over 20 mph and you can barely keep your eyes open, much less race.  But she's not subject to real world consequences, so no helmet it is!  This kind of activity is heavily frowned on by my family.  Sorry Eliza, just one of the many, many reasons it never would have worked out between us.)

After that, she has to go get her treatment.  (I'm glossing over some stuff here because as your about to find out, it really doesn't matter.)  We find out that "getting her treatment" basically means that her memory is erased.  Seems normal enough.  Everyone is calling her Echo now, so that must be her name.  I can live with that.  She gets released into a house where she has access to what I can only assume is top quality medical care.  Being that I'm underemployed, I haven't been to a doctor in forever, so maybe things have changed.  In any case, I get it, this is the dollhouse.  It's a house full of dolls.  Got it.

The rest of the show reveals what will likely play out for the rest of the series.  Echo is a "doll" that gets programmed for "engagements." (don't call them missions!)  She is given new personalities depending on what the client needs.  These needs seem to range all the way from a romantic encounter to negotiating for the release of a kidnapped victim.  I won't spoil too much, but it looks like Echo is having some issues with these memory wipes and there's a potential for someone (probably not a main character) to die in every episode.  I'm ok with that.

That's not all though, we also have Battlestar Galactica's Helo (I'm not going to pretend like I know how to pronounce his real name) playing the part of Paul Ballard.  He's a cop (probably not totally stable) who has been assigned the task of uncovering this Dollhouse, an assignment his superiors seem to think is a bit of a joke.  I like him, but he seems like he could end up getting involved with one of these "Dolls" in the future which makes me think if he's not careful, he's always going to get typecast as the human that falls for the evil engineered beings on the other side.

So far, I'm enjoying this show.  I like Joss.  I like his style.  I'm waiting for the musical episode.  There's a few other characters on the show that I haven't gotten to yet, but I'm sure I'll get to know them better as the show goes on.  Unless they die.  Joss likes to kill important people in shows and I like that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Glee: The Report

So I finally found the time to write a post for this place and I was a bit torn because I'd actually been watching a lot of TV lately and I didn't know which show to write about. I thought I'd start with something new, even though it already has 8 episodes under its belt.

The rundown on Glee is this, the show hinges on firstly Will Schuester aka Mr. Schue who is a Spanish teacher and former high school stud and Glee club enthusiast. He has poofy hair, is married to the Devil (whose name is Terri and is currently faking a pregnancy), has a cringe-inducing tendency to rap and is having a flirty little thing with OCD-afflicted hygiene-obsessed school guidance counselor Emma (who doesn't even have a good trauma story to go along with her disorder, lame). Emma's engaged to Coach Tanaka in a horrible example of settling (and telling everyone you know you're settling - she refuses to tell her family and friends about their marriage) and chronic incompatibility.

Then of course the show has the kids in Glee Club who are typically, the outcasts. The star is Rachel Berry, this intense Tracy Flick character who's got a crazy set of pipes. She's got a huge heart-on for Finn, who is SO dumb, but so cute. He's also a little Schuester clone, because he thinks he's knocked up his girlfriend, cheerleader and president of the Celibacy Club Quinn Fabray (everyone on the show likes saying her full name) but actually she's up the duff with Finn's bff Puck's baby. Puck is total cougar-bait and a mohawked jerk but I love him. There are other kids in the Glee Club, obviously, but these are the main ones (more on that later).

So the show started as being about the club and how it's housing all these misfits and the struggle for Finn to join and how that clashes with his position as QB for the team. They try to play around with the whole school stereotypes thing. For the most part, it's pretty negligible (in my opinion) no matter how hard they push it. For one thing, the school team sucks! SO hard. I didn't go to American high school so I don't know how this works, but are you still popular as a jock if you are, in purely technical terms, losers? If I was part of a school with a team that sucked, I would not go about making those team players popular. Like, what would be the point?

Anyway, whatever, they're popular. The Glee kids, especially Rachel, are picked on and have no friends until they join the club and are forced to befriend each other. I'm being callous about it, but it's actually heartwarming how tight-knit and protective of each other they've become in the 8 episodes so far. So now they're friends and chummy, they can focus on SECTIONALS, the mythical pit stop on the road to REGIONALS, and winning those two things is obviously the answer to all of life's problems. Their practices aren't very realistic because they mostly just jam as if they haven't just gotten the music sheet (what do I know anyway, I can't even sing) and also Mr. Schuester raps. A lot. It's embarrassing.

But okay, the songs that they pick to sing are great! Some of my favourite Glee covers have been Rihanna's Take A Bow, Celine Dion's Taking Chances, Jazmine Sullivan's Bust Your Windows, a mash-up of Beyonce's Halo and Katrina & The Waves's Walking on Sunshine, just to name a few. It helps that the actors are mostly from music theatre or musical backgrounds, so they really bring it, vocally. Finn's a bit shaky and really can't dance (which is why I want Artie - who's in a wheelchair and in real life is part of a post-90's boyband - to have a miraculous recovery and take over as primo dancer) but he's usually a pretty good male lead. And they dance and wear matching costumes, it's great!

Now, I've kind of saved the BEST part of Glee because it is just pretty much the best reason to watch the show and that is Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester. Sue is coach for the Cheerios, an award-winning, high-maintenance cheerleading team that sucks up all the school money. They send their dry cleaning to Europe. So when Glee comes along and is all like "Please Principal, can I 'ave some more" she isn't pleased. Sue wears only track suits (except in the recent episode, where she wears a SICK maroon zoot suit, like a champion), is incredibly offensive, has her own segment on the local news (Sue's Corner) and is of questionable gender and sexuality ("I never wanted kids. Don't have the time, don't have the uterus.") She has the best lines, she's bad ass and the villain you root for. This clip is a little heavy on dramatic music, but it's got some great Sue bits (I love the random terror bit):

So, to sum up. The reasons I love the show are:
  1. The Glee kids. Each and every one of them is a special, precious snowflake (except those two nameless football players nobody cares about). Despite them being pegged into neat high school stereotype boxes they're real characters and I am genuinely invested in how Quinn deals with her pregnancy, whether Puck and his secret heart will get emotionally vulnerable, whether Finn and Rachel can ever be together. The other slightly second-tier kids are great too and the show has dealt with them like when they dedicated a whole episode to one of the characters Kurt coming out to his dad and owning up to his identity. But they definitely need more stage time - singing and character wise.
  2. The songs! Example, Glee covering Queen's Somebody To Love:

  3. Sue Sylvester.
The things I need this show to work on:
  1. The stupid adults. Some of them are straight up vile, like Terri Schuester and her alcoholic, moronic sister (props to the actresses for doing their job well) and some of them have the pallor of corpses and also I think lack a little consistency, like Ken Tanaka who has gone from a sort-of-sweet man who guilted an unwilling woman into marrying him to a jealous, possessive, pathetic half-man who needs to grow a pair. Emma I loved in the beginning, but her part in the whole marriage debacle is wearing down my goodwill for her. Also, her serious obsession with Will, which he doesn't discourage. GROW UP, EVERYONE OVER THE AGE OF 18 ON GLEE. Also, again, Will's rapping. He did the Thong Song. THE THONG SONG. And Emma basically wet herself with excitement. That is not how adults are supposed to act!
  2. The unevenness in how each character is weighted. We have enough material to write short novels on the lives of Rachel, Quinn and Finn. At this point, I'm starting to get tired. I want more Mercedes, more Artie, more Kurt, a little more development for the Asian Stutterer whose name I can't even remember, maybe some names for the faceless dudes and more songs where more people get to sing. Also, more Puck even though the 8th episode was about him, just because I like him.
I'm looking forward to the rest of Glee and to a more thorough episode-by-episode examination for the rest of the season (which will hopefully be shorter than this thing, boy howdy). Before I sign off, I'd just like to add that Gabe Liedman has a really funny recap up of the 8th episode on Videogum so check that out.

-- Syar

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jon, an Introduction.

It all started the other day when I started singing the same song I've sung my entire life when I can't think of anything else to sing.  Ba duh bup bup bup ba bah duh bup bup bup ba bah duh bup bup bup bup buuuuuum!  My fiance turned to me and asked me why I'm always singing the theme song to He-Man?  I stopped and thought about that for quite some time.  In my mind, I wasn't singing the theme song to He-Man.  I didn't know what song I was singing, I just knew it wasn't He-Man.  We live in a wonderful time where the internet can  solve pretty much any argument, so she pulled up the He-Man theme song on YouTube and I couldn't deny that I was singing the theme song, but deep down, I just knew that it wasn't that song.  When I was younger, I wasn't allowed to watch He-Man.  My grandmother told my mother that there were too many devil related things going on in that show and it was deemed unacceptable for viewing.  Sure, I saw a few episodes here and there, but I wasn't an expert on the show.

I thought about it for several days.  I tend to dwell on things like this.  I don't fully recall what reminded me, but it hit me that I wasn't singing He-Man, I was singing the theme song to Remington Steele! (Forward to the 1:00 mark if you don't want to hear the completely and totally awesome theme song for Magnum P.I.)  Tell me those two (He-Man & Remington Steele) theme songs don't sound alike?  Somebody got ripped off, that's all I'm saying.  I don't know what it is about that song, but I grew up loving it.  I wasn't allowed to watch that show either, but that didn't stop me from sneaking out of my room at night and hiding in the hallway during the theme song while my mother watched the show, oblivious to my presence.

My personal golden age of television has to be the early to mid 80's.  The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf, The Dukes of Hazzard, Magnum P.I., Remington Steele, The Fall Guy, Hardcastle and McCormick, The Greatest American Hero, Simon & Simon, Riptide, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, MacGyverGrowing Pains, Mr. Belvedere, Family Ties, Newhart , Charles in Charge, Out of This World, The Cosby Show, Night Court  just to name a few.  I think the thing I miss the most about those shows are the theme songs.  Theme songs just aren't what they used to be.

It's odd, we were never allowed to watch television on school nights, and until I graduated from high school and got a job to pay for satellite TV (seriously, this was my major motivation for getting a job), we didn't have much to choose from.  We didn't have a VCR.  Just a giant console television with some frayed twin lead wires running out to an old rusty antenna, loosely attached to the roof.  I would have to run outside and spin it around until we got a clear signal for some channels.  Maybe that is why television has always held a special place in my heart.

For that, and many other reasons, I decided to start this blog with some good friends and family to talk about what some say is a dying medium.  It's not dead in my heart though and hopefully it never will be.  I'll be watching new shows to find new loves and old shows to remind myself why I love television in the first place.  It won't always be pretty, but it should always be entertaining.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Television . . . I Guess I'll get the Ball Rolling: An Introduction

I love television. A lot of people do . . . I'm pretty sure I'm not a minority on this.

When I was growing up my father constantly told my siblings and I that "it turns your brain to mush". Consequently, we were never allowed to watch it on school nights. We didn't even have cable (no, this is not considered child abuse, I checked), so when my friends at school were talking about the latest episode of "Doug" or "Ren and Stimpy", I was trying to strike up a conversation about a re-run of "Mr. Belvedere" . . . a show that, apparently, no one my age has ever heard of . . . probably because they had cable. ( Did I mention I went to a private school with a bunch of rich kids)

Sometimes I think the TV deprivation I suffered through as a child has made me hopelessly addicted to it. My vice is sitcoms. I love them most of all. I like the old ones, the new ones . . . sometimes I even watch the bad ones (mostly to make fun of them).

When I was little I was a huge fan of "Gilligan's Island", (the aforementioned) "Mr. Belvedere", "I Love Lucy", and many others, I can't seem to think of at the moment.

Then when I was in my tweens I became addicted to Nick at Nite (probably because we finally got a satellite dish, thanks to my big brother). I watched "Newhart", " The Bob Newhart show", "Rhoda", "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "Happy Days" . . . the list goes on.

Finally, as I got older, I loved the shows most people loved: "Seinfeld", "Friends" . . . hmm, those are the only ones that come to mind at the moment.

Nowadays I watch "The Office", "Community", "Parks and Recreation" ( I know a lot of people don't like this one, but I think you should give it a chance), and "How I Met Your Mother".

So here we are, Myself, and a few other bloggers who also love Television have decided to write down our thoughts on episodes of different shows . . . some old . . . some new . . . whatever we feel like really.

We hope you enjoy it, tell your friends about it, tell strangers about it and so on and so on . . .

Posted by Madelyn . . . Fellow bloggers are welcome to edit any grammatical errors I may have overlooked.