Fox Comedy Block

So last night was the much-hyped fall premiere of Fox’s new comedy block. We saw the return of New Girl, which led into new show Ben & Kate, and then more New Girl to lead into The Mindy Project. And in a television first, Raising Hope actually premiered over Twitter, so basically the future is now. So let’s talk about them, shall we?

New Girl

The first episode centered around two events: Jess losing her job as a teacher, and Schmidt getting his penis cast off after several months and throwing a party. Overall, I really liked this episode. I loved the reveal that Winston really loves fruity girly drinks, and gets weird after having them. Probably my biggest laughs of the night came from that. I enjoyed seeing a new status quo for Jess, which hopefully will last more than a couple episodes but not the whole season. And of course I enjoyed Schmidt being weird with fire. It was a solid episode, but not as strong as some of last season’s.

The second episode revolved around Jess deciding to be a new person and try to juggle two guys. This was pretty great. I enjoyed seeing a less-neurotic Jess, who was more comfortable with sex. In general I thought the whole prudish angle was pretty tired, so I’m glad they benched it. And this being a sitcom, her whole scheme fell apart about as perfectly as you could hope so that was nice. I also really loved Nick’s conversation with “Old Nick” from the future. Schmidt’s attempts to hit on Winston’s sister were less funny, and his mom was severely under-used. Overall it was a good night for New Girl, though not perhaps a stellar one.

Ben & Kate

I would have taken “good” for this show however. Or even passable. But it wasn’t. It was effing awful. I really tried to like it, but I couldn’t! There was no character to latch onto! Kate was just kind of pathetic, Ben was dumb AND pathetic (and pretty annoying), the British chick lacked any charm at all, the black guy was funny-ish but had only two lines, and the little girl was five. Who am I supposed to care about?!? Seriously, halfway into the show my brothers were begging to change the channel, declaring it “the worst premiere I have ever seen,” and then later “the worst thing I have seen,” though this was acknowledged as exaggeration. I will possibly give it another try, but it’s unlikely.

[EDIT: While awful, my brothers and I would like to make it abundantly clear that Ben & Kate was still VASTLY superior to The New Normal, which had absolutely no redeeming value and should never be watched by anyone ever.]

The Mindy Project

I went into The Mindy Project with pretty low hopes. I never loved Kelly on The Office, and haven’t liked that show in about five or six seasons. So when I heard she was going to be the star of a show, I was dubious. But I actually really liked it. Having gone to Baylor, I met more than my fair share of girls who grew up on romantic comedies, and continued to watch them weekly if not daily. I’ve seen girls agonize over why they’re single, search desperately for Prince Charming, and put WAY to much value on a meet-cute than they should. I found Mindy to be certainly a bit pathetic at first, but unlike Groan & Hate up there, the show actually acknowledged it and drew humor from it. PLUS, probably my favorite scene was her suiting up to deliver a baby, proving that she is actually intelligent, competent, and good at stuff. So even though I found the supporting cast pretty weak, I’m confident they’ll develop as the show goes on, much as New Girl has done.

Raising Hope

Spoiler Alert: Jimmy and Sabrina get engaged. Personally I think it’s pretty sudden, considering they didn’t start dating until half-way through last season, possibly even more recently than that (I’m too tired to check). But then again, Jimmy’s ALWAYS loved her, and she definitely loved him even when she was dating Wyatt. Plus the whole like raising a baby together thing probably bonds you a bit quicker than just dinner and a movie, so I’m down with it. The episode was pretty solid. We got flashbacks, creepy photos by Frank, a fake orgasm, some genuine “awww” as well as some genuine “ewww,” and a song by Kate Micucci, so overall it was highly indicative of this great show.

 

And that’s all folks! I’m off to save the day one sick teacher at a time, buy the crap out of some Aquaman comics (among others), blast my abs into oblivion, and then try to make it through the next couple days without having a seizure as I eagerly await the release of Looper!

What I Want in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Series

Look guys, I’m gonna be real with you. I am struggling with what to write about. I know John was supposed to write about True Blood – but he is on a date because he and Jonah are actually IN THE SAME TOWN during the school year, for the first time, and deserve to take advantage of that fact. I was originally going to write about The Newsroom, but realized that my feelings are WAY too conflicted to make any kind of sense. And then I was going to write about the importance of writing characters with interesting, compelling, believable motivations, but it just turned into an epically long rant against The Walking Dead. [But seriously, no one on that show does anything for interesting, compelling OR believable reasons. Actually, no one on that show does ANYTHING.] So what do we do now?

WE TALK ABOUT THE NEW S.H.I.E.L.D. SHOW DUH!!

That’s right suckahs, ABC just announced that their new show set in the Avengers-verse helmed by Joss Whedon himself would be about S.H.I.E.L.D.! And I am beyond excited about the possibilities.

I mean, there are a couple other Marvel properties I would have loved: Runaways – the story of a bunch of teenagers who discover that their parents are supervillains – and perhaps even more: Young Avengers – a group of super-powered fan-boys and fan-girls who decide to become unlicensed and unofficial super heroes – and kind of suck at it at first. Both of these properties would have been super witty, self-aware, tons of fun, and skewed young. That being said, they could have also come across as too super-hero-y for mainstream TV. And so S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty much perfect.

For those of you who don’t know, S.H.I.E.L.D. is the international organization in the Marvel Universe dedicated to dealing with super human threats. They are led by Nick Fury – a consummate Badass, and Maria Hill – played by Cobie Smulders and sa-mokin’ hott. This show could go a LOT of different ways, so here is what want to see happen.

1. Give the villains powers, but not the heroes

For whatever reason, shows with super-powered protagonists seem to struggle on mainstream cable. Personally I blame Heroes. The first season was incredibly well-planned and plotted, and was just really compelling television. But later seasons got sloppy and silly and just plain dumb. Ever since then, similar shows have been poorly-received and short-lived. Remember that show about a super hero family? Yeah me either. Or The Cape? Or even Awake – which didn’t feature a “super-power” per se, but switching between universes is pretty dang close. Audiences seem to have a hard time buying into the central conceit of such shows – that super powers exist – and as such don’t watch. That being said, there might be hope. With Grimm and Once Upon a Time both on the air, there seems to be a certain returning tolerance for shows with stranger premises. AND, since this show would exist in the same universe as the THIRD best-selling movie of ALL TIME, audiences have pretty much already bought in.

That being said, I think it would be vastly more entertaining to watch normal people try to fight the crazies. At least at first. I mean sure, we could start with the Secret Warriors – which could actually be pretty cool now that I think about it… – but at some point that will probably just degrade into an all-CGI battle scene week after week. There wouldn’t be innovation or strategy so much as just punching and blasting. I would rather see normal people having to rely on their wits, their teammates, and some crazy technology to try to stop… I don’t know Kang the Conquerer from assassinating George Washington or something. I think this approach would be a good way to balance a grounded, believable cast with an interesting and powerful threat.

2. Make it like ALIAS, but make more sense

It has been well documented how much I love ALIAS. All three seasons. Yes. I am SO GLAD they only did three seasons. Because if they had gone onto say, five seasons, they probably would have brought in a terrible long-lost sister. Or they would have “killed off” Vaughn. Or Sydney’s mom would have randomly peaced out because her actress got bored. Or Jennifer Garner would have gotten pregnant. Gosh. Aren’t we glad they quit when they were ahead?

Anyway, just as the CIA had an evil counterpart in SD-6, so does S.H.I.E.L.D. have an evil counterpart in HYDRA – the Nazi organization from Captain America. This would be familiar for the audience, and could provide for a seasons-long villain in the vein of Arvin Sloane or the Smoking Man. And much like in ALIAS, there could be a double agent working for both organizations. Naturally, the perfect character for this would be Spider-Woman – who actually has been a double agent for both these groups in the comics – although I’m not sure whether Disney has the rights to her or not. But honestly, anyone could play such a role, which I think could be really interesting.

3. Bring on Sharon Carter, Mockingbird, and all kinds of random

Sharon Carter is a major love interest of Captain America. As IGN pointed out, this would be a great way to make her a strong, independent character BEFORE introducing her to the Captain. Then she might not feel so shoehorned into other movies, and would be a great addition with backstory and characterization – thus saving time in the movies. Mockingbird is the eventual wife (and then ex-wife) of Hawkeye, so we could do the same with her. Both these ladies are BADASS despite having no powers, and have fought alongside the biggest heavyweights in the Marvel Universe. These are both great characters in their own right, and given Whedon’s skill and preference for writing strong female characters, they seem like the perfect fit.

As far as “the random” is concerned, bring it on. The team can deal with Brother Voodoo and Dormammu, A.I.M., HYDRA, Dark Elves, The Runaways, the Young Avengers, Heroes for Hire, and whatever they want! Marvel has a HUGE cast of both heroes and villains, so we might as well explore them. I don’t want the show to feel too “fan-service-y” by bringing in fan favorites just for the lulz (like Smallville), but then again that show lasted TEN YEARS PEOPLE.

Ultimately, this show could go a LOT of ways, and I’m sure as more details are revealed, I will have more thoughts on the matter. But the fact is that I have loved everything Joss Whedon since I was ten years old, and the Marvel Universe for even longer than that. I absolutely adored the Avengers movie, and I am looking forward to this show more than ANY new show for this coming season. I hope it’s fun and weird and sassy and everything else I look for in my shows. Please God, just don’t let it suck.

True Blood Rantings (Both Good and Bad)

So my feelings on True Blood are pretty well documented. But that was at the beginning of the season, and now here we are with just two episodes to go. And honestly, it’s like a whole new show lately. Spoilers to follow.

Increasingly, last season is feeling more like a fluke. The audience knows it was awful. The creators seem to know it was awful. Even the characters seem to know it was awful. What little happened, has been barely referenced, or flat-out contradicted. All that weird Demon Fairy Army waiting to kidnap everyone? Forget about them. They’ve gone Cirque Du Soleil/Burlesque. Lafayette has a demon inside him? Gone. Everything else? Irrelevant. This is purely good news.

Of course, the season hasn’t been perfect. It started off with way too many plot lines. Literally, every character – and there are over a dozen – had their own, separate story (other than Bill and Eric, they teamed up). Gone are the days of lovable background characters, popping up to brighten up a show about death and sex and violence. Now, everyone needs a season-long arc, that’s mostly depressing. In my opinion, we should have had Eric and Bill off doing Vampire Things. Jason and Sookie investigating Fairy Things. Then we could have a smaller plot of the Human Supremacists fighting Supernaturals. We could still have Sam and Luna being angry vigilantes, but as they would be targeting ALL Supes, this would have been a good way to connect Alcide to the rest of the cast, instead of putting him off on his own again and again and again. In fact, done this way, the story could have also brought in Jessica, Tara, and Pam, as vampires were being killed too. The mystery of who was controlling the group could have been planted earlier, and done more subtly, and it could have been very Season One-esque – with twists and turns and a general sense of paranoia as you know that ANYONE could be behind all these awful things. And then finally, Terry’s stupid Ifrit storyline – if it had to happen – a) could have been less… “political,” if that’s the word for it, and b) could have been way cooler. We could have seen Terry and Arlene seeking help from Holly – the Wiccan – who in turn would have needed Lafayette. This ragtag group of mostly Normals could have gone on a mad-cap adventure, seeking help from Voodoo, Jesus (the spirit, not the God), and anyone else. This is kind of what happened anyway, but I would’ve liked to see them come together earlier, and resolve the plot line sooner as well. 

All that being said, recently the show has gotten very good. We resolved some plot lines, got rid of some characters, and realized that not every character needs to be in every episode. This latest didn’t feature Terry or Arlene, and only had about five seconds of Andy, LaLa, and Holly, and minimal Sam and Luna. There was no crazy Were-Grandma (aka “Ain’t No Skank” from Breaking Bad), or even any Alcide! Which, yes, I would normally consider a crime against humanity because he is SO UNBELIEVABLY FINE and frequently mostly/totally nude. But honestly I’m pretty tired of his character. For three seasons it’s just been “I’m Alcide. I hate being a werewolf. Eff this pack, eff that pack, I’m a loner with a sexy growl.” THREE. SEASONS. Enough already. 

Anyway, we’re really starting to get somewhere with all the Vampire Crap too! The destruction of the Tru Blood factories sets up an interesting new status quo for the world – which hopefully won’t be magically reset next season. Bill’s Face Heel Turn may have come out of nowhere, and be pretty out of character, but honestly “out of character” is a good thing when your character sucks ass. And random or not, it’s fun to see Eric as the moral compass of the show, and to see how Jessica reacts to her Vamp Daddy acting like her brainwashing, abusive, overly-religious Real Daddy.

Other good things: Russell, duh. His “conversion” was so obviously fake, it was about time he quit pretending. He and Steve are adorable and creepy together. Creeporable? Adoreepy? Whatever. And maybe I’m just dumb, but his plan to study Sookie’s blood rather than just drinking it all was actually not what I expected. And way more chilling. I mean, you can only die once, maybe twice on this show, but you can be cut open and healed and poked and prodded for mostly EVER, which is just creepy. 

Now, I’m not sure where the whole “Sookie being sold into vampire marriage” thing is going, or how/if it’s going to connect to the main plot. I hope it does, because plots should, in general, converge. Sookie has mostly won me over again this season, now that she’s killing vampires instead of boinking them. She goes out in the daylight again, and loves her brother, and isn’t having nasty dirt sex all over the place. Big fan. And I know a lot of people don’t like the fairy story line, and I can’t say I’m the biggest fan either, but I do really like Claude and his weird gypsy style and his “move over bitch we’re your family now, PS here’s soup, love you,” kind of energy.

Anyway, pieces are mostly in place for the finale, which looks to be/hopefully will be epic. We’ve got Bill and Eric and Jessica AND secret Luna and Sam IN the Authority, where there is also Emma the Puppy and a million craaaaaazy vampires, and some Olde Vampyr Acid Blood, and I’m sure hijinks will ensue. And in Bon Temps, Tara has MURDERED A SHERIFF, and I’m pretty sure it will rain crap down on everyone’s heads, including Jason and Sookie and LaLa et. al. 

So in conclusion, I am hella pumped for the finale, and if you were a fan but quit watching because it sucked for a while, I encourage you to catch back up on the season in time for the penultimate episode this Sunday. 

Comfort TV

OK, I fail at blogging. I’m sorry. I was supposed to have a new “This Week In” on Monday, but totally spaced. Because I was dying. I ran five miles, non-stop, for the first time since I was TWENTY ONE Y’ALL. And no one on Facebook even “liked” that. Also, it took me an entire hour, so I don’t know whether to be proud that I ran a solid hour, or sad that it took me twelve minutes to run a mile…

Anyway, to make it up to you guys, I have a “special” treat: TWO POSTS IN ONE DAY: One by your’s truly (that means me) and the other by John! (Your’s falsely? What’s up with that saying anyway?) So here I go: a list of my go-to shows when I’m in a bad mood. Or as I call them: Comfort Shows.

I’m sure we all have our own comfort routines. You know the ones. You got yelled at by your boss, you got stuck in traffic, you’re feeling totally under the weather, the drain is clogged, you can’t find your work assignment, and that darn scale just KEEPS GOING UP. All in all, you’re have a terrible day. In this situation, girls will put on their sweat pants, break out the icing, and watch either The Bachelor, a Disney marathon, or some sad movie that makes them cry. Guys… well guys will probably just try to nap it off actually. Or eat some seriously nasty junk and play X-Box until way too late and yell at the douchey little 10 year olds talking smack.

My comfort routine is thus: some Vanilla Coke, a bag of Tostitos, maybe some brownies, in my bed (probably not wearing pants), watching TV on my laptop. And here is what I’ll most likely be watching.

3) Archer

I’ve probably watched Archer more than any other series in recent memory. It’s just so fantastic. It’s Arrested Development meets James Bond. It’s got the style of the 60s, the Cold War politics and computers of the 80s, and the crazy technology and pop culture of today. It blends office humor with sexcapades with spy hijinks. It is insanely witty, featuring call-backs to episodes that happened years ago, references to obscure inventors and history, and excellent puns and nicknames. Each episode is only about 22 minutes, but so densely-packed with humor it feels far more substantial. Overall an excellent way to whittle away your day without even realizing it.

2) Better Off Ted

Another office comedy, strangely enough. Better Off Ted is the story of Ted Crisp, a handsome single dad who is middle management at Veridian Dynamics – your basic Evil Corporation. He works Veronica (Portia de Rossi), the Frigid Ice Queen Executive (who slowly thaws out over the course of the regrettably short two seasons), Linda – the perky, idealistic head of testing, and Lem and Phil – two brilliant but socially awkward geniuses. The cast has amazing chemistry together, the jokes are fast-paced and non-stop, there’s a very feel-good, saccharine vibe throughout, and the narrative structure, with Ted directly addressing the audience, really brings you in and feel connected. It’s a shame it only lasted two seasons, but it wraps up pretty decently.

1) Pushing Daisies

Nothing on the face of the earth has ever made me “awwwww” so much – and probably never will. Pushing Daisies is the story of Ned – a pie maker with the ability to bring the dead to life with a single touch. If he touches them again – ever – they instantly die again. If he lets them live longer than a minute, then someone else dies to balance the universe. In general his life is going pretty well. He uses his powers to buy old dead fruit at bargain prices, then brings them to peak ripeness with a touch. He also investigates murders with his private detective friend, Emerson. Ned brings the dead back to life, interrogates them, Emerson solves the crime, and they split the reward. The status quo is shifted dramatically however when Ned brings his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles, back to life – for good. They instantly fall back in love, but can never touch. This is a Bryan Fuller show, so the colors are unbelievably vibrant, the humor is pretty twisted – and yet still lighthearted, and the dialogue is crisp and sparkling. Warning: It may give you cavities, because it is sweet to the point of absurdity. But as a bitter cynic with a secret gooey optimist center, it’s everything I want in a show. It’s tragic, it’s sweet, it’s earnest, it’s endearing, there are tons of puns, repetitive names, and alliteration, it’s got Kristin Chenoweth… it’s just amazing. Lee Pace is so heartbreakingly pathetic you can’t help but want to give him a big hug and a slice of pie. The rest of the cast gets fleshed out to an incredible degree over just 22 episodes as well, and they have amazing chemistry. If I had a genie, I would probably use it to resurrect this show over any other – possibly including Firefly. That’s how much I love it.

And there you have it. Nothing groundbreaking or anything I guess, and nothing too deep – but who wants deep when your day has turned to total crap. You need to believe in the power of love! You need to laugh. You need some potty humor – but nothing TOO foul. So, next time you feel like you’re going to just cry and cry and cry, maybe try one of these?

Grimm Season One

 

So waaaaaaaay back around this time last year, I realized that there were two fairy tale shows coming to television: Once Upon a Time, and Grimm. The first had some of the creative team from LOST, as well as Jane Espenson of Buffy/BSG/Firefly/Caprica/Game of Thrones fame. Grimm had some of the creative team from Angel, so I was pretty excited – especially since I’m a HUGE fan of fairy tales. However, as I settled in to watching all the TV of the fall (and reviewing it), I realized that I only had room in my heart (and day) for one fairy tale show. So I picked OUAT, and forgot about Grimm.

In general, I was pretty happy with my choice. I mean Once is far from perfect. It’s almost always either way too cheesy, or way too serious, and struggles finding the right balance. The special effects are pretty mediocre, and some of the dialogue is incredibly groan-inducing. But in general I think it has a pretty solid cast. Ginny Goodwin is so heartbreakingly earnest that I can’t help but like her, and Josh Dallas really surprised me in his ability to play vastly different characters (or rather different versions of the same character). Jennifer Morrison does a good job too, and it’s always fun to see how they weave various fables and myths together, and trying to figure out who everyone is.

But this summer, with only Mad Men/Game of Thrones, and then later True Blood/Breaking Bad Sundays to occupy me, I was left with a bit of a gap in my TV schedule. So I resolved to watch Grimm, which was now available On Demand from our new cable. And honestly, I was surprised at how much I liked it.

The premise, if you’re not familiar, is thus: The Grimms are a race of monster hunters, named after the famous Brothers Grimm, collector of many of our most famous fairy tales. Nick – our hero – is one such Grimm, and apparently one of the last. When his aunt starts dying, he begins to manifest his “power” to see the monsters. Each week a new case comes up with a supernatural twist, and Nick must use his aunt’s knowledge – as well as his (reformed) Big Bad Wolf friend Monroe – to save the day. Complicating things – an evil Grimm Reaper and some witches, who are out to get him, as well as a girlfriend who wants to know what’s going on.

So let’s start with what I don’t like about it. Mostly, the “monsters” are really just woodland creature/human hybrids. There’s Rat People, Beaver People, Bee People, Bear People, Wolf People, Lion People… and so on. There are very few actual fairy tale elements. Sure, there’s an allusion to Cinderella here or Goldilocks there, but mostly it’s just animal people causing problems. It’s also VERY episodic – especially in the middle – so it gets a bit repetitive. In these ways, it feels a lot like the first season of Buffy, but without the sense of lightheartedness and fun.

That being said, I actually liked the dark tone of the series – especially after watching the campy, cheesy Once Upon a Time with its fairies and genies and dwarfs and talking grasshoppers. It was strangely refreshing to see a show where a Wolf Man kidnapped every little girl wearing red and kept them in his basement, fattening them up before eating them. And in general I liked the cast. Nick is pretty much your typical Stoic Hero, very much in the vein of Olivia Dunham or Angel. But, he is also surprisingly sassy, which is the easiest way to get me to like someone. He and his girlfriend are pretty adorbz together, and he has some decent comebacks. Monroe is the definite standout, as the most normal, calm, refined Big Bad Wolf you will ever meet. He’s also pretty badass when the occasion calls for it, and has great chemistry with Nick. And of course Sasha Roiz is somehow both chilling AND likable, as in Caprica.

I originally intended this to be a longer post, but to be honest I just scarfed down a Frosty and now I need a nap. So, my advice to y’all is to watch the first couple and last couple episodes of the season this weekend, and then watch the Season 2 Premiere on Monday on NBC! I most definitely will be.

Peace.

True Blood: Season 5

If there’s anything like a holiday just for the gays, it’s the premiere of True Blood. Actually, there probably is a holiday just for the gays, but I don’t know it. Is that bad? I don’t feel bad. Should I feel bad?

Never mind. I’m here to talk about True Blood, which – contrary to popular belief – is (sometimes) more than just sexy times. True Blood is also something of a case study in diminishing returns. The first season was, by my reckoning, fantastic. There was one central plot, around which the other plots revolved. It was simple: a serial killer is loose in Bon Temps, killing women who have had congress with the beast. Sookie is targeted, and seeks refuge in Bill. Jason’s girlfriends keep dying, and he is targeted by the police. Sure, there was a lot of other stuff going on – Bill’s punishment (aka Jessica), Jason and Amy kidnapping a vampire, Tara getting exorcised, etc. But there was, in general, a really tight focus. There was some really strong music, and a number of truly moving scenes – Sookie eating pie after her gran’s funeral sticks out as the best moment of the entire series for me. I liked how Merlotte’s was a central hub for the cast. Most of the cast works there (Sam, Tara, Sookie, Amy, Arlene, Terry, Lafayette), or is involved with someone who works there (Bill, Jason, Rene), or is investigating a murder there (Andy, Bud). It gave a lot of opportunities for characters to interact organically, and check in on everyone in one fell swoop. Yes, it was cheesy at times, and the romance moved way too fast, but it was a very good season, a blood-drenched, sexy murder mystery soap opera.

Seasons two and three were still good, although less so. The second season split the cast and the action in half for most of the time. Sookie, Eric, Bill, and Jason (and sometimes Hoyt and Jessica) were in Dallas attempting to infiltrate a violent Christian military camp (I guess that’s how best to describe it?), while Tara, Sam, Lafayette, and Andy held the fort in Bon Temps, dealing with a supernatural sex cult. Michelle Forbes was great that season, and the increased screen time for Eric was an obvious plus.

Season three brought us Russell, the vampire King of Mississippi, who was a fantastic villain. He was campy and over the top to the extreme. But he was also delightfully evil, and brought a sense of fun back to the show after a year of depressing arcs. In general there was too much vampire politicking, and the cast began to feel a bit bloated. Sam had almost nothing to do, and Tara’s arc was so mind-numbingly soul-crushingly dark, that I hoped she would die the True Death sevenfold. Then all of a sudden there were werepanthers who were also in-bred meth heads? And somehow Jason was involved? But by and large the season was solid, and we got tons of Alcide (actor Joe Manganiello) who is by-and-large the hottest thing I have ever seen, and a fairly compelling character with actual, you know, morals. Plus the mystery of Sookie’s powers deepened, with the fairy revelation being both a bit of a let-down, and still pretty cool. I have no idea how that works. Don’t ask me.

Season four, however, was bad. While the jump in the future was interesting, and made it look as though the show might shake things up, it ultimately mattered very little. Sam found a shifter girlfriend who, while being very attractive, added little to the show. Eric got amnesia and finally got with Sookie, but he was so childlike it was kind of creepy instead of steamy. Bill was a jealous bitch, again. Tara was a lesbian? A really pissed off lesbian? Who had no reason at all to be on the show God I hate her why won’t she just die. And of course there was a really terrible scene where all the vampires put on black Matrix leather and walk in slow motion to blow up a building. It was… the worst thing. I mean it. It was terrible. Cliché. Cheesy. Bad. BUT THEY SHOT TARA IN THE FACE THANK GOD YES.

So, finally on to the premiere of Season 5. In general, I liked it. It set up all the plot threads for the season, and boy are there a lot of them. You’ve got Bill and Eric on the run, which would have been great on its own, but look! More vampire politics! Yay. I don’t know why the show continues to shove this in our faces, when it is exactly no one’s favorite thing. Oh and speaking of fan-hate, Tara’s alive! As a vampire. Even though she hates them. So, chances are we’ll get to see EVEN MORE of Tara being angry. Thank God for that! (*Inserts gun into mouth, cries, realizes there’s more to life than television, cries more, buys tickets for Magic Mike, smiles, moves on*) Let’s see, what else… Sam watched some werewolf cannibalism, so there’s that… Alcide is either going to have to step up as pack master, or get killed, which could actually be interesting considering his disdain for wolves as a whole. Plus he doesn’t know Sookie killed Debbie, yet. How will that affect their relationship? Will they HAVE a relationship, with Sam taken and Bill and Eric on the run? Will Sookie go for a man with a body temperature? Does she deserve one? What else… Jason is in love with Jessica and Hoyt is mad at him. And while I like Jessica and Hoyt (and Arlene and Terry and Andy) they all just work so much better as background characters. I don’t need to see all their plot lines every episode. Just check in on their ridiculous little side-quests every other episode or so, and devote more time to a central plot. Like, say, the resurrection of the strongest vampire “alive,” who has a serious axe to grind with all the main characters?

So, ultimately as I said, I liked the episode. I wish we could have had more than just set-up for everything, but I’m sure we’ll get something this week. I wish Tara could have died and stayed dead. I hope Reverend Newlin does more than just stalk Jason. I want to see how his church reacts to his turn, and how he reacts to that. I want to see a weird buddy-cop/fugitive movie with Bill and Eric. I want Lafayette to go back to being sassy and fabulous. I want Sam to do something interesting for once. But things were set up pretty nicely, and I’m intrigued enough to continue through the season. Plus, you know, naked hotties.

Mad Men’s S5 Finale

So as it turns out, my weekly preview feature – “This Week In…” – is a lot of work, but is consistently the least-viewed part of the blog. I could be bummed out about it, but honestly it’s kind of refreshing. Because now I can have a consistent place to talk about, well… whatever! Like all the movies I’ve seen but not reviewed! Or specific TV shows! Or albums I like that are probably eight years old by now! The world is my oyster. Bitches!

Anyway, I want to talk about Mad Men. No, not some sweeping commentary of the show and what its popularity says about our culture. Why would you think that? No, I want to talk about last night’s finale, and a bit of the season as a whole.

Last night’s episode was fairly scattered, although not as much as some episodes have been. There was no Betty, which at this point in the show is always a good thing. Joan was barely featured, and Ken was completely absent. Peggy and Roger had maybe a minute each. So the major focus of the episode was Don, Megan, and Pete Campbell.

Don’s story revolved around a “hot tooth,” aka a toothache, that he refuses to get checked out. At first I thought it might be a symptom of some psychological issues, such as Don suppressing his guilt over Lane’s death or his increasing frustration with his marriage. I’m glad this wasn’t strictly the case, although he did experience hallucinations of his dead brother. I’ve read some complaints that this story line was NOT subtle, with Adam appearing and showing off his noose-bruise, and making hanging puns, right after Lane has hanged himself, but well, whatever. I didn’t notice his other appearances in the episode, so I guess the lack of subtlety was for my benefit.

Anyway, throughout the episode, Don is stuck dealing with Megan, who has become increasingly whiny this season. She has gone from confidently singing French in a sexy gogo dress, to dominating at advertising, to quitting to pursue her dream of acting. Since quitting SCDP, she sits at home, drinking, yelling, sulking, and fighting. As her own mother says, that is what happens when you have artistic dreams but aren’t an artist. She also tells Megan that she is a spoiled bitch and needs to stop chasing phantoms. While this is pretty harsh, there’s an element of truth to it. The world can’t support a billion ballerinas, and at some point you need to face reality and find the next best thing. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s part of growing up.

Megan ultimately sells out her friend – looking for a part in a SCDP-backed commercial – and asks Don to get Megan the part instead. Don (correctly, I think) refuses initially, claiming that Megan should want to be someone’s discovery, not someone’s wife. She doesn’t care, and Don gets her the part. As she begins filming, he walks away, finds a bar, and immediately is hit on by a sexy younger woman. She asks, “Are you alone?” And as the show ends, we see that look in his eyes and that smile creep across his face.

Meanwhile, Pete Campbell hooks up with Rory Gilmore again, who is depressed and going for electroshock therapy. Again. She claims that after the procedure, she will forget a lot, and hopes not to forget Pete. When he goes to visit her after, she has no idea who he is, but visits with him nonetheless. He tells her about “his friend” who keeps searching for happiness in one thing or woman after another, but can’t, because it’s all just “a temporary bandage on a permanent wound,” which is a beautiful image, and great thesis for the show as a whole. He then gets in a fight with Rory’s husband, kicked off the train, and goes home to Trudy – who tells him he can finally get an apartment in the city. And thus Pete’s transformation into Don Draper from Season One is complete.

Ultimately, the episode was solid. It looks like Don Draper Classic™ is back in stock, which will probably be more interesting than New Don Draper™, is also incredibly defeating to any optimist watching the show hoping for redemption. Pete Campbell and Marie Calvet both sum up the show nicely – the temporary fixes for permanent pain, and the consequences of not getting your dreams. I liked seeing Peggy Olsen, finally getting to fly on a plane… to Virginia… where she sees dogs humping instead of a city skyline. But the episode was still fundamentally unfulfilling. There was no big speech on nostalgia to wrap up the season. There was no coup of the evil corporation. There was nothing either incredibly uplifting, or heartbreaking. There was just… kind of more of the same. And while I think that the next season will still be fantastic, and the season as a whole was phenomenal, and some of the best episodes of the series have taken place this year, it just ended on a bit of a wet fart. If you know what I mean.