30 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 30 - Saddest Character Death

Here it is, the final day of the TV meme. The final topic of the day: saddest character death. Quite honestly, this was a duh the moment I read the topic. There has been one death - one in the pantheon of TV shows I've watched - that has affected me so profoundly, that it was a no brainer that it needed to be discussed. Be warned, however, what follows is a major spoiler for the Angel series finale that I discussed on Day 22.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, first introduced in Buffy season 3 as a incompetent Watcher for Faith who basically acted as comic relief, died in the series finale of Angel, "Not Fade Away." Normally, I'm OK with that type of thing, seeing as how it's nearly a given a majority of the cast is going to die or get really, really hurt in a Joss Whedon show. But Wesley? No, damnit! I wasn't a fan of Wesley during his debut season on Buffy, but when his character was brought over to the spin-off series Angel, he just "clicked" for me. Perhaps it was the writing, or the growing maturity of actor Alexis Denisof, but Wesley Wyndam-Pryce quickly became cemented as one of my all-time favorite male characters ever.

The first season and a half of Angel had Wesley continue being a bit of a buffoon, goofing up and making mistakes. It's not until Angel fires everyone at Angel Investigations and becomes obsessed with correcting a wrong that the grown up version of Wesley begins to emerge. But there's also a interesting aspect of Wesley that's introduced here, as well: he has always been the type of guy who can be very tough if need be - like a impenetrable shell, but he is also very vulnerable. Angel firing everyone and abandoning them was a harsh blow, and probably hit home emotionally what with his difficult family history.

[Note: nearly all characters in the Whedonverse have some troubled history with their parents, specifically the father. Wesley's no different, as he has always tried to please him with his accomplishments at the Council, but never to his fathers satisfactions]

The middle portion of season three is about where I began to love Wesley, and where his character arc changed in an entirely unexpected (but dramatically awesome) way. In the wake of a choice he makes that puts him at a crossroads with Angel, Wesley finds himself betrayed and his throat slit, clinging for life. By the end of the season, and the majority of the following one, Wesley becomes dark, physically and emotionally. His clothing reflects his moodier and more adult self, and he feels abandoned by the people he thought were his friends and family. He becomes tough, he becomes lethal, he becomes the best asset next to Angel.

The tragedy of Wesley Wyndam-Price begins here. His choice was made with the best of intentions, but it costs him everything. A chance with Fred, having his best friends be family, being happy. And from there, he goes downhill. Wesley initiates a 'relationship' with a sworn enemy, and stops at no limit to get information necessary to save the day. His tragedy is that once he's the happiest, that very thing gets stripped away. It's one bad blow after another. The final season of Angel brings perhaps the biggest tragedy of them all: the fulfillment of him finally being united with Fred, only to lose her. The thing that has taken over her body - he refuses to acknowledge that it's Fred, because he knows it no longer is.

And cue the reason this is the saddest character death ever. Taking into account all the pain, shit, and suffering this character has endured his entire existence, Wesley decides to spend his last living moments indulging in a fabrication, or "lie" as he said in the episode. He allows the creature inhabiting Fred's body to "lie" to him, to allow him a moment of [fake-ish] happiness. And the dialogue exchanged between the two...

Damn, I'm getting sad just thinking about his arc.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was a marvelous character, and his death - buried in the wake of a already jam-packed episode - is perhaps one of the most profound things on the show. Angel was a show about Wesley as much as it was about its title star, and I will always thank it for that. And with his portrayal of this awesome character, Alexis Denisof has received a get-out-of-jail-free card for any potentially bad roles he chooses in the forthcoming years.

One thing I will NOT forgive Denisof for, though, is marrying my girlfriend Alyson Hannigan. How DARE you!!!

The Complete List of the TV Meme (if you're feeling lazy):
Show That Never Should Have Been Canceled: Invasion
Show More People Should Watch: Chuck
Favorite New Season Show: Stargate - Universe
Favorite Show Evah: Doctor Who
Show I Hate: The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Favorite episode of favorite TV show: "The Eleventh Hour", Doctor Who
Least Favorite Episode of Favorite Show: "The Idiot's Lantern", Doctor Who
Show Everyone Should Watch: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Best Scene Ever: Doctor Who, "The End of Time, Part Two"
Show I Ended Up Loving: Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Disappointing Show: Heroes
Episode Watched More than 5 Times: "Revelations", Battlestar Galactica
Favorite Childhood Show: Batman - The Animated Series
Favorite Male Character: Angel, Angel
Favorite Female Character: Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars
Guilty Pleasure Program: One Tree Hill
Favorite Mini-Series: Dune
Favorite Title Sequence: Supernatural/Boston Legal
Favorite TV Cast: The Scooby Gang, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Kiss: Logan and Veronica, Veronica Mars
Favorite Relationship: Mal & Inara, Firefly
Favorite Series Finale: Angel
Most Annoying Character: Chloe, Claire, Claudette
Best Quote: Angel
Show I Plan on Watching: Fringe, Justified, True Blood, Carnivale
OMG? WTF Season Finale: 24, Day 5
Best "Pilot" Episode: "Serenity", Firefly
First Show Obsession: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Current Show Obsession: Fringe, Justified

Final Thoughts: Well, that was nutty. With the exception of being a bit behind those last few days, I thought I did this quite successfully. I'm a little tad disappointed with the overall lack of diversity in my decisions, but it just so happens that shows I love tend to have really, really strong aspects that I can't help but promote. Also, truth be told, I'm going to miss this meme a little bit. But on the other hand, I'm happy that I can now concentrate on writing a few more editorials that I've had planned for a while. Perhaps another like this will be on the horizon, but with a movie topic of the day like thing. Y'know, "Favorite Sci-Fi Film", "Favorite Romantic Drama", "Favorite Actor", "Favorite Quote", etc. I'd be game for that. But overall, I enjoyed my time.

Here are some other participants:
Jess at Insight into Entertainment
Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob
Rachel as Rachel Reel Reviews
David at Hoping For Something to Hope For

29 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 29 - Current Show Obsession

One day left of the TV meme, and the topic of the day is: current TV show obsession. Well, as of right now, I'm suffering from two TV-related obsessions, so I'm gonna jot both of 'em down instead of just choosing one.

I have one disc left to go [out of 7], and I can't help but say this show is freakin' phenomenal. For those unfamiliar with the show, Fringe has Special Agent Olivia Dunham team up with the rather cuckoo scientist Walter Bishop and his son Peter Bishop. Together, this team has been assembled to investigate 'strange' scientific cases, things that aren't covered in your normal procedural drama. Before watching the show, the most appealing aspect of the program was the scientific possibilities of crazy things being explored on a weekly basis - telepathy, moving through space and time, gene manipulation, pushing the boundaries of ethical science, etc.

But after going through nearly 20 episodes, the real heart of the show is the dynamic between the central team, watching how Olivia, Peter, and Walter interact with each other (as well as their lab assistant Astrid who isn't given nearly enough screentime until the final dose of eps). Especially interesting is the Walter and Peter relationship, as they are your typical estranged father & son combo. As the season progresses, even Olivia gains more depth than one would initially have speculated. Basically, it's a very intelligent show that's very cleverly written and splendidly acted by every member of the cast, main and guest-wise. Definitely recommended.

And by no means am I a man who likes his cop shows, but FX's freshman program Justified is bloody terrific. To my complete surprise, Timothy Olyphant (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) is magnificent in the role of Raylan, the show's main character who won't hesitate to shoot if necessary. Olyphant owns the role completely, and handles the burden of being the lead with relative ease. The acting greatness extends to the one-shot guest stars as well as the recurring character played by Walton Goggins (forgot the characters name, pardon) of SHIELD fame. Each 43 minute episode flies by like no time has passed at all, and you're eagerly left wishing the next episode would start basically ASAP. It's a testament to the intelligent writing that's filled with great characters and some truly excellent dialogue that's both real and hilarious simultaneously. Even if you don't dig cop shows as I did, JUSTIFIED is at least worth giving a chance to.

28 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 28 - First Show Obsession

The final days of the meme have arrived, and one of the last topics of the day is: first TV show obsession. Sorry to use this show repeatedly, but that would most definitely have to be Joss Whedon's Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. At a young age - 11, I believe - I was watching the show as it aired on The WB and then UPN. Concurrently, the early season DVD box sets were being released, and I quickly snatched those up [or, as I should more accurately say, my mum bought 'em with her hard-earned money] and watched and/or rewatched episodes. There definitely were points where I'd say it fell into a obsession.

By the time the fourth season DVD set came about, I knew all about aspect ratios, commentaries, special features, video quality, etc. And I was among the many disappointed with a lack of widescreen presentation, until the Season 4 set came with a note by Joss that basically said, "Look, they were shot in 4:3 fullscreen, and I want them preserved in their original aspect ratio." It was sort of a 'duh' moment for me, but helped me realize exactly how obsessed I was with the program (and DVDs in general). When the sixth season was released, I was a hound rushing through the set watching every bonus feature, reading every facet of information, listening to commentaries, renting analytical books on the series from the library (mostly by Nikki Stafford). And as Buffy ended with its seventh season, my attention was turned towards Angel for its final season, and I retroactively rewatched all the prior season episodes.

Buffy was a great show, and definitely worthy of being my first show obsession. I have multiple friends who, once they've watched a season or two, become hooked to the point they splurge on a Complete Series box set or buy them individually from Half Price Books or some other retailer. It's a highly addicting show, and I can't help but give Whedon, Marti Noxon, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Jane Espenson, and Jeffrey Bell (amongst others) their duo kudos.

27 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 27 - Best "Pilot" Episode

How often does a "Pilot" episode fully satisfy when compared to the rest of the series [if it's lucky enough to be picked up]? It's possibly the roughest episode out of the entire run, where all the actors are trying to 'get' their characters, and the writers are thrown into the tough spot of coming up with a way to introduce their programs mythology and characters in a fun, fashionable way that's assessable to all audiences. So to be faced with today's topic: best "Pilot" episode, a lot of thought and consideration must be put forth.

For folks looking for a bit more diversity in my decision making, my apologies, but credit must be given when its due. Mr. Joss Whedon, the man responsible for a large majority of my TV-lovin', created perhaps the most magnificent pilot with "Serenity', the first episode of his short-lived Firefly series on FOX. [Good news, though: my runner-up was another FOX show, Fringe, but I figure you'd be tired of hearing about that by now]

Why is it such a good Pilot? Because it hits all the right cords and all those things I mentioned in the opening paragraph. "Serenity" immediately introduces these wacky band of characters, and we instantly get them. The actors get them. The writer gets them. The entire hour and a half "Pilot" comes off effortlessly, like this was a stellar plotty episode from its fifth season or something. Everything is comfortable, from the characters dialogue, their interactions, to even the score and editing. It is, in a word, sublime, and by no coincidence one of the episodes I rewatch in the DVD set more often than the others.

Truth be told it's been awhile since I watched "Serenity", so I can't pinpoint a particular detail here or there that I think is truly fabulous, but the reason I love this pilot is essentially so simple: it works. The entire episode is one perfect introduction. If the remainder of the series was never picked up, I would begrudgingly be content-ish with this stellar episode. "Serenity" rocks. So does Nathan Fillion. And Joss Whedon.

26 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season Finale

A bit easier of a topic to handle than most, but again, there were multiple choices to fill the topic of the day: biggest OMG WTF? season finale. ABC's Lost definitely featured some big OMG WTF? season finale moments, and in particular I'm thinking "Through the Looking Glass" as a prime example of the writers power [although, me being a Season 5 fan, find "The Incident" to be the best OMG! moment]. And if I wanted to be original, I would say the season 3 finale of Supernatural where Dean's deal with the Crossroads Demon comes to pass would be a freakin' great choice. However, I'm gonna seriously have to go with a finale that to this day I remember being utterly amazed by.

The sucky thing about being Jack Bauer is even though you do really bad things for the greater good, one small (or big) bad thing can end up really screwing up the rest of your life. Such a thing occurred at the end of Jack's fifth really, really bad day. Back on Day 4, Jack invaded a Chinese consulate which resulted in one of the Chinese folks dying. Well, one of the Chinese government officials aren't too pleased with that, and try to hunt Bauer down until the end of the day when he fakes his own death and goes on the lamb (as the expression goes).

In the midst of all the crazy shit that happened to Jack all day in his fifth bad day, one would be amazed that there could be any more gigantic twists. Creatively, Day 5 has no predecessor. It's perfect. Brilliant. And then they add these last 15 minutes, and it becomes epic.

The Chinese have, as the government official from Day 4 remarks, "a long memory" (or something like that). Finally, Chang (?) kidnaps Bauer and puts him on a boat heading for China.


I remember being in New York for my 16th birthday, sitting in the hotel room eating Papa Johns with some refreshing Dr. Pepper and being utterly bewildered and gobsmacked by what I just saw. "NO FREAKIN' WAY!!!" Biggest, awesomest, most pleasing finale I had seen up to that point. Those 24 producers sure had balls, and I couldn't be more excited to see where that story went...

From a writing standpoint, it's a beautiful bookend to the first episode of the season, and also a sublime cliffhanger that leaves the viewer wanting more. For every halfway decent to bad episode of 24, Day 5 makes up for every single one of them. Oh, the awesomeness.

25 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 25 - Show I Plan on Watching

We're nearing the final few days of the TV meme, and the topic is: show I plan on watching (new or old). Well, that's sort of easy to suss out considering I just rented a bunch of TV seasons from the library and have a few more episodes of shows I need to catch up on. So, in no particular order of viewing, here is my list of shows I plan on watching (for the first time):

Title: Fringe
Season: 1
Status: Watched 12 out of 22 episodes
Comments: Created by the man who brought you Lost (J.J. Abrams) and the duo who wrote Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Star Trek (Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman), and starring a pretty Australian gal and that Dawson's Creek kid, Fringe is a pretty entertaining and always engaging program that's smartly written, beautifully shot, and magnificently scored (by Giacchino, no less). Admittedly, there are times where the show becomes rather formulaic with 'case of the week' type stuff, but then we're rewarded with a episode or two that delve deep into the shows growing mythology. It's already a guarantee that I'll catch up with season 2 before the premiere of 3, I might even end up buying 'em. Quite recommended for people who dig thrillers, hot girls, and mysteries.

Title: True Blood
Season: 2
Status: Watched the first 2 episodes
Comments: I'm not the biggest fan of True Blood, but I'm intrigued enough to continue watching. I bought the first season as a blind buy, but ended up selling it back for credit towards a new season set of Doctor Who. Although I've heard a lot of great things about the show's sophomore season, I didn't really have the money or interest to validate another blind buy, so I've held off for Netflix getting it, which they just started shipping on 22 June. From the little bit I've seen, looks like fun. Anna Paquin has already been naked once, Michelle Forbes is showing off her freaky side, and Eric's getting a little blood happy. So, all seems cool. If the show continues to interest me, I just might pursue season 3.

Title: Sanctuary
Season: 1
Status: Unwatched - Pending
Comments: Another show in the science fiction universe that has received generally favorable reviews, I know nearly nothing about it but two things: 1) Amanda Tapping of Stargate: SG-1 fame is the lead actress in this series, and 2) the show is nearly entirely filmed with blue & green screens (a la 300). Both of my bosses have seen the series and one even owns them on Blu-Ray, so that must be some indication that it's a good show, right? Right?!?! Well, on the bright side, it's not a blind buy, and I can at least just get a feel for what type of program it is.

Title: The Sarah Jane Adventures
Season: 1
Status: Unwatched - Pending
Comments: I love Doctor Who - in case that hasn't been acknowledged yet - and the people behind the new 2004-present series created this children-oriented spin-off. As far as I can tell, it has the potential to be both good and really, really bad. I know that one of the bad guys featured in Series 1 of Doctor Who make for a formidable foe, and that a newly constructed K-9 (a robotic dog that speaks) is more integral to the story than ever before in the mythology. I'm not exactly too keen on watching this show, but I do so for my love of all things Doctor Who related. Or perhaps my time would better be served just sampling a episode and deciding from there...?

Title: Carnivale
Season: 2
Status: 1 out of 12 watched
Comments: A long, long, long time ago I watched the first season of this HBO produced show that starred that kid from Terminator 3 - Nick Stahl. Honestly, I don't really know what to make of the program. The Apocalyptic, good versus evil theme really appeals to me, and from the first episode of the sophomore season is any indication, that theme will really be expounded upon here in its final season. But at the same time, there are plenty of elements that disturb me or just simply don't interest me. There's many characters that live in the carnival that I don't care for, such as Sofie, the gal who can 'read' cards. And then there's the scary folk: the woman with a mustache. Luckily, the good vs. evil element is strong enough to keep my interest. Besides, it's the last season; I can make it through, right?

Title: Justified
Season: 1
Status: 4 out of 13 watched
Comments: I typically hate police shows, with only one exception to the rule - The Shield. Most of the time, it's just the same old storyline week after week with never-evolving, cliche-ridden characters. Yep, much with the dislike. But turns out this little FX show, with Timothy Olyphant as the lead, is quite charismatic and addicting. I watched the first episode out of interest, and before I knew it I spent the rest of the night watching three more [until sleep deprivation took over]. Justified is, for all intents and purpose, possibly the best new show of the season (sorry SG-U). For being a seriously shot show, there's a surprising about of humor in every episode, and the cast is pretty stellar, such as the jaw-dropping awesomeness of Walton Goggins (ironically, a Shield veteran). Highly recommended, and a definite DVD purchase for me when it gets released.


I've also been on the look-out for the 2007 Sci-Fi Channel Original Series Flash Gordon online, so if you know any streaming outlets that offer the program, please let me know. After all these shows have been watched and I catch up with some others, I just might re-watch the first season of Lost and (possibly) all of Angel. Writing about those two lately have inspired me.

24 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 24 - Best Quote

Talk about mucho complicated. How can one possibly suss out their favorite quote amongst the pantheon of TV shows they love? Especially when you have Joss Whedon programs to consider, which is possibly one of the most difficult things to think over in the world because each and every one of his episodes have at least two highly quotable lines of dialogue. I was thinking about choosing a Scrubs quote, but I don't know those episodes nearly good enough to be like, "Hey! THAT quote is a goldmine!" Heck, I even thought about some Jack Bauer quotes, which he definitely has in-between beating up bad guys. I also contemplated a Doctor Who quote, particularly from this Series, because the Eleventh Doctor has had plenty of great lines this year.

So in the end I did choose a Joss Whedon show. Not out of service to the man, not because I feel obligated to 'cuz I love his shows, but because this one particular quote has resonated with me since I first heard it. I'm going to say right here, right now that this quote isn't the BEST quote of all time, a quote that all others must be measured by. Well, I guess in one regard it does. Before I explain further, here's the quote from Angel, Season 4, "Deep Down":

"Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh, and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be."

I can't think of a better definition of what a 'hero' should be. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, even the majority of the Watchmen folks fit into this category. A selfless individual fighting the fight to show the people of the world what life can be, what it should be, and a way to get there. When I sit down to write a paper, or a story, or read a book about a superhero, the bolded quote isn't too far from my mind. It's a beautiful monologue that Angel gives [to Connor, his son], and it also is a beautiful summation of the entire show from "City Of" to "Not Fade Away".

23 June 2010

Doctor Who - The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Written by Chris Chibnell
Directed by Ashley Way

Plot: It's the year 2020, a force beneath the Earth's crust isn't too pleased with the humans drilling into their territory and are forced to retaliate.

(S05E08/S05E09) As the fifth season of Doctor Who heads towards its final stretch, we're treated to a two-parter that brings back old villains from The Doctor's past and makes for some pretty decent - if a little underwhelming - entertainment. As a combined story, these two episodes will be looked back with respect for the story they were trying to tell, but I doubt they'll be much rewatch value warranted to 'em.

The Silurians (who made their screen debut back in 1970 with the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee) return to the Whoverse as a consequence of mankind. Granted, not like the humans were intentionally egging them on, but they get the blame anyway. Turns out that this giant drilling thingy Nasreen (guest star Meera Syal) and Tonys (guest star Robert Pugh) has been hitting the oxygen pockets for the Silurians downstairs home, and they aren't taken too kindly to that. So they come up, one abducting a child, Elliot, and bringing it below the earth (where Amy is, havin' been taken hostage relatively early on in the first episode). One Silurian is captured and used as leverage by the humans. From the Silurians point of view, they were the original owners of the earth, and mankind basically kicked them out of the way and took it from them - so, I can get behind their reasoning for not liking humanity. Frankly, I'm surprised we were introduced to some Silurians who were actually intrigued by mankind, and wished to broker some sort of peaceful agreement between the two races.

"The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood" rather show the worst of humanity, in a way, and The Doctor makes quick note of that. In the first segment, the captured Silurian Alaya declares she already knows the identity of the one who will inevitably kill her, and doesn't show the slightest bit of surprise when the driven-to-the-edge Ambrose (guest star Nia Roberst) shows up to do the deed. It's sad and unfortunate to realize the possibilities the peace agreement could bring, but it's even more disheartening to see The Doctor's faith in humanity unmet, which I'm sure pissed him off internally (he chose not to show it visibly). The very fact that it's the humans destroying the possibility for peace and now the aliens this time around makes this two-parter stand out amongst the rest.

But then again, the type of characters The Doctor was left with weren't exactly the ideal candidates for a situation like this. Although, perhaps that's the point...

As for the Silurians, I liked them, although I wish their storyline and culture had more time to develop and/or be explained. For two episodes with such titles that instill fear and promise of something spooky, powerful, and big, I was hoping the Silurians would be a bit more animalistic or, ahem, cold-blooded.

Nine episodes in, Matt Smith seemed to be getting the hang of being The Doctor, especially after his magnificent work in "Amy's Choice." Perhaps it's just me, but his performance seemed a little shaken in these installment,, a bit of out sync with what he has thus far established. It was like a small cold that quickly went bye-bye, seeing as how Smith's back with a vengeance in the upcoming episode. Eh, whatev. I still enjoy Smith's Eleventh Doctor, and I did enjoy his work in "Cold Blood" during the moment when he realized a peace agreement wasn't in the cards for right now. After being the focal point of the last episode, Amy gets sidelined in this two-parter, not really playing a integral part of the narrative. She gets captured early on in "Hungry Earth", and gets re-captured in the middle portion of "Cold Blood." However, those last five minutes or so nearly makes up for her lack of screentime - Karen does some magnificent work inside the TARDIS as The Doctor pleads for her to remember Rory and keep those memories. It's chilling but yet beautiful to watch.

Speaking about Rory, poor bloke. Arthur Davil had plenty to do the last two episodes, and similar to Karen, gets sidelined for the most part in this two-parter. I mean, Rory does have a potential moment of a cool storyline - what with being mistaken for a police officer - but that quickly gets thrown away as the story focuses primarily on The Doctor and the Silurians. It rather seemed like his Companions were more or less a burden on the writer than a complimenting factor.

In the end, "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood" were pretty decent episodes, but out of the entire series thus far, it definitely ranks as the last in the 'awesome' category. I guess the premise for "Hungry Earth", in which some sinister force is rising up from the ground, just held with it plenty of super terrifying possibilities, which I wish was delved into more. But the performances were solid, and the conclusion to the storyline satisfactory with a nice hint at what's to come, so overall, I can't complain all that much because they were absolutely two entertaining hours of awesomeness.

Little Notes:
  • I know some didn't like it, but I thought it was a cool move to have future Rory & Amy on the opposite hilltop when Current Doctor, Rory & Amy arrived in the first few minutes. Time is perhaps a bigger component of this series of Doctor Who than any other, and I thought that was a neat logical (and of course 'cute') moment. The significance it held later was surprising, and made that moment even more cool.
  • If being touched or in close proximity of the 'cracks in space and time' eliminate a person from existence, why doesn't that happen to The Doctor who puts his entire arm into the crack, crouching right next to it in close proximity? Is it a Time Lord thing, as I'm assuming? Whatever, it leads to some entertaining television.
  • "Cold Blood" could easily do without the voice over narration; it doesn't add anything, really. But from what I can suss out, the voice over takes place near the end of those 1,000 years, and the Head Silurian dude is reminiscing about meeting The Doctor. I think.
  • It was interesting that even Ambrose's son Elliot was displeased with her actions, as was her husband.

TV Meme: Day 23 - Most Annoying Character

With today's topic, most annoying character, I'm going to break my rule of only picking one character. Truth be told, there hasn't been a lot of characters that I can't stand, that are akin to nails on a chalkboard, that I just want to die immediately and be gone forever. But, anyway, here's a few words about some particular folks I'm not too fond of, or have definitely overstayed their welcome:

Name: Chloe Sullivan
Show: Smallville
Years Present: Season 1 - Present
Analysis: Chloe was a character that never existed in the Superman mythology, a teenage classmate of Clark Kent's at Smallville High who took a liking to the Man of Steel and also became obsessed with writing stories about strange phenomena for the school paper, The Torch. In the earlier years, I didn't much mind Chloe, being as she wasn't a totally big part of the storyline. In fact, she was put on the sidelines plenty of times. The most annoying aspect of the character was her smart-ass personality that ticked me off plenty of times. But then she found out about Clark's secret in season 4, and for a few years her character evolved and became - gasp! - interesting. And then Chloe Sullivan got to a point where the writers just didn't seem to have a clue where to take her, and still don't. It was around season 6 or 7, I believe. She took on the mantle of Watchtower, helping fight bad guys with the up-and-coming Justice League, which, admittedly, is pretty cool. Downside? Her personality and character really, really sucks, and every line of dialogue out of her mouth is utterly annoying. Perhaps Allison Mack is just losing patience with her character, but whenever she speaks, it immediately comes off as annoying. By this point, I'm desperately looking forward to whatever ill-fate awaits Chloe that she never gets mentioned in canon (which I hope the Smallville writers freakin' remember that they've hyped up this fact a lot).

Name: Claudette Wyms
Show: The Shield
Years Present: Season 1 - Season 7
Analysis: Ah, Claudette. Not only is her hairdo, which changes season to season, annoying, but her very character and personality will forever haunt me as a character that could have been great but just ended up irritating. The first few seasons, she was bull-headed, ready to handle any case, but also had a rather good sense of humor. By the later seasons, though, Claudette just became one sanctimonious preachy bitch. If things don't roll right with her, there is no second choice, no second chance, no second option. It's her views of right and wrong, and if they aren't followed by someone, she hates their guts. May not be how most folks view her, but that's just my impression of the Bitch from Hell. CCH Pounder, though, did a marvelous job with her performance no matter the material - I'll give her that.

Name: Claire Bennet
Show: Heroes
Years Present: Season 1 - Season 4
Analysis: The cheerleader from Texas who can't die, and also has a affinity for saying "because I'm special" at least once every episode in all four seasons. Actress Hayden Paniettiere isn't actually all that bad, and given good material she can be one hell of a performer - I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER notwithstanding. The Heroes writers were lazy and unimaginative right off the bat, and plenty of the characters suffered as a result of that. Claire was perhaps the biggest collateral damage. Annoying with every line she speaks, there was never more glee taken from her character than when a bad guy shushed her up. This seemingly immortal character could have been truly fantastic and a fascinating ingredient of the show, but by the end of its third season, Claire was truly a one-dimensional dumbass and annoying ditz. Oh, and let's not forget to add self-centered to the list. Really bad events can be happening all around her, but yet she somehow finds a way to connect everything back to her and her self-importance. Ugh, let's not even talk about this whole "I think I'm the Catalyst" business from Volume 3 "Villains."

So, there's my choices for annoying character(s). Questions? Comments?

Doctor Who - The Pandorica Opens

Written by: Steven Moffat
Directed by: Toby Haynes

Plot: The Doctor, Amy, and River Song find themselves face to face with the mythological Pandorica, a prison in the form of a box that houses the most dangerous trickster in all of history, and every villain The Doctor's ever faced want to get their hands on it.

"Hello Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica, takes the universe. But bad news everyone, 'cos guess who?! Ha! Listen, you lot, you're all whizzing about. It's really very distracting. Could you all just stay still a minute? Because I'm talking! Now the question of the hour is, who's got the Pandorica? Answer - I do. Next question, who's coming to take it from me? Come on! Look at me, no plan, no back-up, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else, I don't have anything to lose! So! If you're sitting up there in your silly little spaceship, with all your silly little guns, and you've got any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight, just remember who's standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you. And then, and then, do the smart thing. Let somebody else try first."

(S05E12) Beautiful, quick, brilliant, stunning, and frakken awesome are pretty good sentiments to summarize "The Pandorica Opens", the first part of the two-part Series 5 finale. Everything that has proceeded this episode, even the seemingly insignificant stand alone installments, find their place in this mega mind-frak of a stellar episode. Thinking back on the episode days after viewing, it's simply gorgeous how perfectly everything ties together and fits. Of course, I have to wait until this Saturday's finale, "The Big Bang" to see how well everything is weaved as a final product, but if this episode is any indication, I'd say this is perhaps the most well thought out season yet.

Let the "Pandorica Opens" accolades begin!

Steve Moffat is a gifted writer, no doubt. His strength with every facet of a script - words, pacing, characters, originality - has made him one of the most respected writers in the Whoverse, if not in the television landscape in general. Before the season began, he described it as a "dark fairy tale." That description has never been more appropriate than here (with the possible exception of the Weeping Angel storyline), as we have a fairy tale box that contains one of the strongest most ruthless beings in all existence, and a woman who is by all appearances just your ordinary run-of-the-mill Scottish redhead, but may actually be one of the most pivotal women in all of the universe. And where this story has gone and is going, that definitely fits the bill of "dark."

All 45 minutes of this episode is jam-packed with information and plot details. It opens with Vincent Van Gogh painting a vision of a exploding TARDIS, which then we flashforward to Winston Churchill (seen in "Victory of the Daleks") retrieving the painting and subsequently contacting River Song in the future (although this is the third time we get to see her in the series, this is the earliest River we've seen yet in her timeline) who breaks out of prison to locate The Doctor. Oh, and River meets up with Liz 10 in the process (from "The Beast Below" in a awesome cameo).

When The Doctor and Amy finally meet up with River Song at a Roman camp, it turns out she's impersonating Cleopatra! The River character has always been a blast to watch, thanks to actress Alex Kingston and writer Moffat (who has penned all her episodes), and this instance is no exception. Turns out there's some serious stuff about to go down at Stonehenge where the Pandorica is getting ready to open, and all the aliens in the galaxy want in.

Matt Smith totally rocks this episode, showing his confusion, intrigue, and admiration towards the Pandorica splendidly. And when the reveal of what the Pandorica is, Smith's work is absolutely superb. Same goes with Karen Gilllan, who is finally given some utterly FANTASTIC stuff to work with. Her final, jaw-dropping, super intense scene with Rory outside is amazing, and her eyes alone convey all the emotion necessary. Truly some of Karen's best work, possibly since "The Eleventh Hour." Alex Kingston gets to play River a bit more jovial since her last appearance, happy and having fun just being around The Doctor. I hope Kingston can guest star in Series 6.

Now about the final 9 minutes: amazing and simply jaw-dropping. And let's not forget BRILLIANT! Now I'm not a Doctor Who database, but as far as I know, nothing like this has ever been written before, and why not? It's such a simple, brilliant, logical, ingenious idea! Of course all The Doctor's past and most nefarious villains would unite to bring him down. And if you can't kill him, what's the next best thing? Imprisoning your enemy under layers upon layers upon layers of security systems! Locking The Doctor up inside the Pandorica is nothing short of a stroke of sheer brilliance, and it definitely sets up high stakes for the finale.

And what's up with River and what's up with the TARDIS? So from my understanding, there's a invisible external force actually controlling the TARDIS and making it go kablooey? Um, what? Well, never to fear, all things will no doubt be explained in some logical way in the finale...

COMING UP: Saturday brings the Series 5 finale, "The Big Bang." With so many plotlines, elements, and questions that need to be addressed and answered, I can't imagine how everything can be wrapped up in one sturdy little 45-minute episode. So here's hoping that Moffat takes a serialized approach and makes this storyline bleed into Series 6, which would be quite nifty.

Little Notes:
  • "Look at me! I'm a target!" Best Doctor Who quote ever?
  • Small little question about Rory in this episode: With the revelation that Roman Rory is actually one of the strategically placed robots [unless there's more to Rory's being there, which is quite realistically possible], why would he have memories of his dying? Considering that Rory was then immediately erased from existence would make it difficult for one of the villains to, like mind-wipe Rory or something like that. Or am I missing something?
  • Was it not the coolest thing you've ever seen to have all those enemies of The Doctor all housed in one room, watching him get dragged off? AWESOME!

Shrek, Splice, MacGruber, Persia, Greek

The television world has basically sucked up my existence as of late - catching up with Fringe (Season 1), True Blood (Season 2), Lost (Season 6 - rewatch), 24 (season 8 - rewatch for assessment), Justified (Season 1), Greek (Season 1), Reaper (Season 2), and Stargate Universe (Season 1) - so movie reviewin' hasn't been exactly top priority. Besides, I'm thinking I just might do without movie reviews and simply do some sort of in-depth analysis once a week on a carefully selected movie; make it unique, y'know? Or I could just post a bunch of TV and book related stuff with a small portion of movie reviews thrown in for good measure? Maybe more editorials?

Anyway, 2010 movies have generally been in the category of it's alright, but nothing great. It's strange that January-April had more awesome releases than the big blockbuster summer season. At least we still have The Last Airbender to decide the fate of the 2010 blockbusters.

Get Him to the Greek
Starring Russel Brand, Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss, Sean Combs
Written by Nicholas Stoller

Based on the characters created by Jason Segel

Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Release: 04 June 2010

Universal, 109 mins., Rated R

Plot: Aaron Green needs to get drugged up Aldous Snow to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, and the fact that Aldous is on every possible drug and toxin known to man doesn't make this any easy task.

Much to my happy surprise, Get Him to the Greek was actually funny. I laughed out loud on several occasions, had a stupid grin on my face more than twice, and I honestly would buy the film on DVD (at a discounted price, of course) and rewatch multiple times. And what's even more flabbergasting about this fact is that I'm saying this about a movie with Jonah Hill as a lead. Jonah Hill. The single most annoying aspect of any Judd Apatow-related production. And yet here he is, being genuinely funny and not at all irritating. In fact, I'd say this is his best work as a actor yet. And Russel Brand is just as fantastic as Aldous Snow as he was in '08's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, though I am curious how much is Aldous Snow and how much is Russel Brand.

The great thing about these two films - Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek - is that they offer three-dimensional characters that we give a damn for mixed with complete hilarity, which, mind you, is a formula that isn't often achieved. There's Aldous Snow and his decline back into addiction of every toxin imaginable and has father issues - elements that serve as the basis of the comedy; and then there's Aaron Green, who just wants to get ahead in the music corporate business and live a good life with the girlfriend - and in this case, the comedy comes from his desire to achieve both with grade A flying marks.

Oh! And look for a pretty funny continuation of Sarah Marshall's storyline. It's a quick scene that just makes you feel bad about both Ms. Marshall and the state of outrageous popular television these days.

It's quotable, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's well paced with the exception of only a few sequences that could use some trimming. Since I'm rather bad at writing stuff of any consequence about comedy films, I'm simply leave it that Get Him to the Greek was very (surprisingly) funny, and I'd definitely recommend it to folks who enjoyed I Love You, Man or Forgetting Sarah Marshall (although Sarah Marshall isn't a prerequisite viewing to dig this flick).

Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Maya Rudolph
Written by Will Forte, John Solomon, Jorma Taccone

Based on the characters in "MacGruber" by Saturday Night Live

Directed by Jorma Taccone

Release: 21 May 2010

Rogue Pictures, 89 mins., Rated R

Plot: MacGruber is called upon by the CIA to save the day against Dieter Von Cunth who plans on nuking a lot of people.

Now here's a movie that excels in stupidity - it immerses itself in it - and ends up being mildly chuckle worthy. I'm not quite sure if the laughs that came out of it were a result of it being genuinely funny or me being in utter bewilderment that what I was seeing was actually happening. Y'know, that some big studio actually endorsed this gag by putting money behind it. Plenty of other reviewers are marketing it as the "funniest SNL movie since WAYNE'S WORLD." Well, since I haven't had the luxury of seeing that Mike Meyers vehicle, I'll judge MACGRUBER on its own right.

MACGRUBER wants to be HOT FUZZ, essentially; the movie immerses itself in the cliches of police/special agent procedurals and pokes fun at 'em. However, HOT FUZZ was successful at this - it poked fun, sure, but also saluted those films, respecting them and immersing itself in what made those '80s films memorable. MACGRUBER just wants to riff on those flicks and inject loads of dick and fart jokes.

Eh, Not Too Bad, Not Too Bad: Sure, a majority of the funny stuff's in the trailer, like the "I'm more of a three wire type of guy" line, but there's some other smirk-worthy moments: MacGruber's insistence to suck anyone's cock as long as they don't kick him off the mission; MacGruber using Ryan Phillipe has a human shield; MacGruber and Kristen Wiig's "love" scene; and of course his first assembled team of testosterone-filled macho men gettin' blown up by MacGruber. By now, Will Forte totally owns this role inside and out, Ryan Phillippe surprises by going all-out (truthfully), Kristen Wiig is her adorable self, and Val Kilmer does his best role since Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever (a long time). Actually, truth be told, Kilmer was pretty damn good as the antagonist.

A world of Negatory: Of course, there's still a bunch of material that makes up its running time that's just simply stupid. Sadly, I can't recall any particulars (it has been about four weeks since I saw the flick - damn my lazy movie reviewin' write-up skills!!!), but there's a bunch of scenes that truthfully made me turn away from disgust or just shake my head in shame. A little over a year ago, Nick at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob felt shameful walking out of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; well, this is my Chun-Li.

The Shiz: Entirely skippable, unless you really need some sort of comedy. But really, I had a funner time watching Steve Martin's The Pink Panther 2, and that I definitely didn't have much love for.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kinglsey, Alfred Molina
Written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard

Based on the characters in "The Prince of Persia" video game series

Directed by Mike Newell

Release: 28 May 2010

Disney, 116 mins, Rated PG-13

Plot: Prince Dastan is accused of being a baddie and sets out on a journey to clear his name and save the kingdom from villainy !!! - with a gorgeous (yet annoying) lady at his side.

The new Pirates of the Caribbean franchise of the new decade, headlined by Jerry Bruckheimer! A good concept and decent presentation, except Prince of Persia lacks the excitement, awesomeness, cleverness, talentful, and jaw-dropping coolness of the Pirates franchise. That trilogy was fantastic because of more than just Johnny Depp's Captain Sparrow, but its duo of unrivaled creative writers: Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio. Those two can't seem to make a bad movie. Even with four people on the payroll, Persia's script isn't coherent and isn't nearly as brilliant as the franchise the movie's trying to replicate.

Alright, now that's out of the way, how is The Sands of Time? Overall, it's a decent film. Time has always been a fascinating aspect of any storyline, even if it's somewhat overused (especially in sci-fi stories, a la Star Trek). So the very notion of this special dagger that, through the use of some very, very special sand, could reverse time is sorta nifty and a cool enough set-up for a big-time summer blockbuster. From a story standpoint, though, it's a little disappointing that the villain's main purpose for wanting this special dagger isn't all that captivating. Understandable, sure, but I wasn't exactly itching in my seat in anxiety of what's going to happen. Speaking about that, there's not much surprise in how the story will unfold, or when the dagger will be used.

Perhaps that's what Prince of Persia lacks - a freshness element.

Jake Gyyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) works just fine as Prince Dastan. He's got the charming element working for him, and even though it may be a stunt double for 87% of his aerobic work, watching him jump around the city and easily sliding into a window 10 feet away is spectacular to watch, and perhaps the most amount of fun I got from the flick. To fill in the role of love interest and hot gal, Gemma Arterton of Clash of the Titans (2010) fame definitely fits the bill in the beautiful category, but her lazily written character borderlines obnoxious in nearly every scene. Oh! And Ben Kinglsey just totally rocks as Dastan's uncle who has more going on that he's letting on. Alfred Molina shows up at sporadic times during the narrative and works as a deux ex machina and the joke machine, which he does quite well.

Something that works against The Sands of Time I wish to point out is Dastan's "destiny". Repeatedly, in the trailer and movie, it's referred that Dastan has some sort of destined role to play, and that it's his 'destiny' to do this and that, blah, blah, blah. But unless I wasn't watching or listening closely enough (which could entirely be possible), where does this whole destiny thing fit in? It's some lazy phrase that gets thrown out there on several occasions, but there's no evidence of said destiny. Dastan just rolls around the desert trying to evade capture.

On the bright side, though, Mike Newell totally kicked butt directorially speaking, nearly making up for his lazy direction in Goblet of Fire. Alright, done with the semi-insults.

The Sands of Time is good action fodder, and if you hit the cheap seats or wait for a DVD rental, you won't mind the painfully average finished product. But if a franchise is gonna stem from this...please get someone else penning it?

Shrek Forever After
Starring Mike Meyers (V), Cameron Diaz (V), Antonio Banderas (V), Eddie Murphy (V)
Written by William Steig, Josh Klausner, Daren Lemke
Directed by Mike Mitchell

Release: 21 May 2010

Paramount Pictures, 94 mins., Rated PG

Plot: Shrek's overworked and not happy he's no longer the feared ogre he once was, and makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin for a single day of being his old brute self - but of course, something goes wrong and needs correcting "It's a Wonderful Life"-style.

The Shrek sequels have never been as good as the original, but they still retain enough good jokes and funny enough scenarios they're at least worth seeing. Same holds true for this fourth and supposedly last (money talks better than words) installment of the hit DreamWorks animated series.

Ogre Of a Good Time: The bigger sized version of Puss 'n Boots. Perfect, awesome, basically won my ticket and totally delivered. Plus, there were actually a few jokes that I found funny. And I surprisingly didn't mind the Rumpelstillstkin character, although I can't lie and say there weren't times when the actor's voice was utterly annoying.

Smell Yah Later: Just some of the dialogue - ugh, cringe worthy. I'm thinking particularly the exchanges between Shrek and Fiona in the alternate reality where he's trying desperately to get her to kiss him ('cuz it's "true love's kiss!" of course). The theme of the movie...? Be thankful for what you got? Be weary of what you wish for? Eh, alright. Coulda fleshed it out a bit more, make elements of the characters and script work a bit better.

To Go Or Not To Go:
By now Shrek Forever After is about ready to exit theaters, so anyone who wants to see it already has. It's by no means a horrible film, but it's not entirely all that good. It's serviceable, and gets the story across fine (but the theme? Not so much). As a concluding chapter, it works. Shrek has faced all he needs to and has overcome his many, many obstacles, so now he can be a happy go lucky ogre content with his rather abnormal lifestyle. Rental or cheap seats recommendation. The family will enjoy themselves.

Starring Adrian Brody, Sarah Polley
Written by Vincenzo Natali, Doug Taylor, Antoinette Terry Bryant

Directed by Vincenzo Natali

Release: 04 June 2010

Dark Castle Entertainment, 104 mins., Rated R

Plot: Two DNA scientist lovers frak up with nature and create some species hybird thingy that ends up being a lot of trouble.

The odd thing about Splice is that nothing really surprised me or wowed me. I knew the direction of the story with every new bit of information, and the only thing that left me puzzled was the shift in character attitudes halfway through the picture. Indeed, it's extremely pleasing to have a film like Splice - a very unconventional production to receive such publicity - be widely released in chain theaters, but at the same time, I do feel like the story and boundaries could have been pushed more. I think Splice simply suffered from what the marketing teams job was - publicity. The word on the street was that the film would be unlike other similarly plotted productions of the same vain, and to that point it didn't deliver.

Alright, my thoughts in a nutshell: entertaining, but not thrilling. Decently scripted, but lost in its own potential. Edgy-ish, but not pushing the boundaries enough. Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley were just fine in their respective roles, although their character progression from beginning to end changes rather abruptly and without any apparent reason. The gal playing the hybird was phenomenal, and beautifully able to make freaky creature y sounds and convey a sense of child-esque innocence.

Rent Splice if you feel so inclined to see it, but I'd recommend waiting for a production that delves a little deeper into the story it presents.

TV Meme: Day 22 - Favorite Series Finale

There was never any substitute for this topic of the day: favorite series finale. I knew it right when the finale finished airing back in 2005 - the simple beauty and power of these 42 minutes was as apparent to me back at 15 as it is now at age 20. The series finale of Angel, "Not Fade Away", is my favorite series finale of all time, and possibly is the embodiment of all other series finales should be based on. 'Cuz this is how you do it, ladies and gentlemen, this is how you wrap up a series with characters you've grown to love and bring resolution to dangling plot threads that will leave you entirely satisfied.

Co-written by Jeffrey Bell and Joss Whedon, and directed by Jeffrey Bell, "Not Fade Away" sees Angel, Wesely, Spike, Lorne, Gun, Lindsay, and Illyria track down and kill members of the Circle of the Black Thorn. Who are the Black Thorn? Well, earlier in the season (Angel's 100th episode, to be exact) Cordelia came back to give Angel one last vision - and that vision lead him to this group who basically act as Wolfram & Heart's instruments of the Apocalypse. It's them that set things in moment and maneuver big players to where they need to be.

So that's the set-up of the finale: Angel & Gang need to stop the Big Bads of the Apocalypse, which is basically a no-win scenario because the Senior Partners will literally reign hell on them [it's true; read the comic series "Angel: After the Fall"]. A pretty simple set up, not one that's typically found in series finales [although it could be argued the Lost finale was pretty straightforward: Jack vs. Locke for the island]. Sure, it's a pretty sweet, action-guarnteed set-up, but that's not what makes this episode beautiful.

To truly understand the impact of this episode, one needs to have watched the entire series (including the first three seasons of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer with Angel as a series regular). Right from Scene One with Angel in "Welcome to the Hellmouth", his story was and is all about redemption. As I wrote in my Favorite Male Character post, since cursed with his soul reinstalled into his body Angel has sought redemption for all the heinous, brutal, sadistic crimes he committed as Angelus for years and years. As Angel tells Faith when she visits him in LA, the path to redemption doesn't end, and it's a rocky road, and there will always be chances to try and redeem yourself. His own remorse kept him going for a quite a long time (a hundred years? Isn't he 240 something?), but then at the end of season one a new aspect of his redemption became introduced: the Shanshu prophecy.

Shanshu, basically meaning "to live" or "to die", become a unspoken goal for Angel. Essentially, if Angel continues his righteous path of redemption and stops or fights in the Apocalypse, he can become human again; a "real boy." Yes, his never-ending quest to find redemption for all his crimes of the past will always be what drives him, but this gave him hope, and hope is perhaps the most powerful emotion of them all. "Not Fade Away" sees Angel, in a attempt to win over the Circle of the Black Thorn, casually sign any chance of this prophecy fulfilling itself away. It's about three seconds of screentime, but it's so monumental to the theme of the entire show, as well as the Angel character, not to mention the finale: With no personal gain or reward, a hero fights the good fight to make the world as it ought to be, not as it is, because the hero can't accept that this is all there is. A hero will fight no matter the odds, no matter the certainty of death, no matter how impossible or worthless the whole matter is. And in regards to redemption, it's just as I mentioned above with the whole Angel/Faith this: never stop atoning. Never. There's no final destination, no point where it's all, 'alright, I've done my community service, end of atonement.' Nope.

The Angel finale closes on what can be considered to the larger community a cliffhanger. Angel and his surviving crew members are stuck in a rainy alleyway wounded and morally broken, and there's a good 60,000 (or more) demons, dragons, and other mystical creatures ready to tear them all apart limb from limb. Angel prepares to attack, slashes his sword, and it ends. Not only does it nicely coincide with the Hero's Journey storyline in regards to Angel, but it perfectly compliments the other message of the series: the struggle will never end, but no matter what, we keep on fighting. Again, there's a incredible amount of bad guys stacked against this small group that has no hope of survival, but it's not about that. The finale isn't about just the characters. It's about that fight. The will to fight. The fight that needs to be made, and only a select few will heed the call.

On a personal note, the episode is a goldmine for the characters. Due to the fact they could all die tonight, the gang go out and live the day like it could be their last. Angel visits his son without all the angst (major applause), Gunn visits Anne who's packing up boxes to move over to a new homeless shelter (a character first introduced in Buffy season two as 'Lily', I believe), Spike drinks up and finally finally FINALLY recites his poem to a cheering crowd, and Wesley patches up a bruised Illyria. Now, about Wesley, who nearly beat out Angel as Favorite Male Character, "Not Fade Away" is also a perfect culmination of this character. A bloke who started off as nothing more than a buffoon, and through the years became Angel Investigations biggest assets and most complicated character. This episode is Wesley's as much as it is Angel's.

I could go on and on and on and on about how terrific the finale is - and I just might if a Professor will allow me to write a 5,000 word paper on it - but I'll just leave it at this: "Not Fade Away" is about as perfect as they come. A finale that celebrates and continues the core theme of the show and honors the characters that fill up its world in an entirely satisfactory fashion...well, they just don't come around all too often. This finale - nah, the entire show - will live on long after we're all gone, because the show isn't stuck in any one time period. It doesn't just relate to us now. It's central theme and message of redemption, heroism and (sorta) justice will live on and be entirely accessible to a new wave of audiences for years to come. Does that not make it a great and successful series finale in its own right?

In a nutshell: watch Angel, buy Angel, love Angel, one of the most brilliant TV shows that ever aired.

"You're fading fast. You won't last five minutes." - Illyria

"Then let's make them memorable." - Charles Gunn

21 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 21 - Favorite Relationship

It's the twenty-first day of the TV meme, and the topic is: favorite TV relationship. Considering that every show on every network ever made has some sort of romance in it, this could possibly be quite a difficult decision, no? And with the amount of programs I watch, there's dozens upon dozens to choose from: Chuck and Sarah from Chuck; Bill Adama and Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica; Jack Bauer and Renee Walker in 24; Veronica and Logan in Veronica Mars; Angel and Buffy on Buffy and Angel; Wesely and Lilah on Angel; Sawyer and Juliet on Lost; President Logan and Martha Logan on 24; Nathan and Haley on One Tree Hill; Kimberly and Tommy on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers; and other people that I can't think of right now 'cuz it's 12:42 AM in the mornin'.

But my choice is a sort of anti-relationship. Well, there's a relationship, just not a, y'know, relationship. As in 'I-smooch-you, you-smooch-me' kind of deal. Captain Malcolm Reynolds and Inara on Firefly fit the bill of my favorite TV relationship. Why? Because, quite honestly, with the exception of Chuck and Sarah (on Chuck) I've never been more invested in a relationship, like, ever. The way these two characters are so obviously drawn to one another but do their best to deny it and not remotely show their true feelings concerning the matter. It's akin to a game a protagonist and antagonist would engage in to size one another up; here, Malcolm and Inara engage in a verbal slam-fest which is basically their hit-ons. These two love each other, but they refuse to give in or someone's about to say something and then something wedges its way between them. It's fun and it's humorous.

Plus, Inara is really hot. That could possibly help with my liking this relationship. So, in a nutshell, their verbal disses, their lovely moon-eyes, and their obvious affection for one another (even though they may not reveal it) make them my favorite relationship on the tube. Well, ex-relationship, since the show is much with the being canceled. But anyway, Firefly is a fantastic show on its own right; but watching these two interact with each other is just as fun as listening to Whedon's brilliant dialogue. Malcolm and Inara. Coolest non-couple/sorta couple ever.

The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid
Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Written by Christopher Murphey
Based on the film "The Karate Kid" written by Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Harald Zwart
Release: 11 June 2010
Columbia Pictures, 140 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: 12-year old Drey from Detroit moves to China and gets bullied pretty ruthlessly, and gets the help of a martial arts master to teach him to control his anger and (possibly) kick these bullies asses in the process.

THE KARATE KID is a 'remake' of the 1984 film of the same name, world renowned for its "wax on, wax off" sequence. It's a bit unfair to even call this 2010 vehicle a 'remake', since it's by no means trying to remake the 1984 film. It takes the basis and (certain) elements from that film and turns it into a entirely new creature brimming with awesome characters, beautiful visuals, great performances, and a stellar score by Mr. James Horner [making up for his sub-par AVATAR score].

Since I've now established that I can't say this flick qualifies as a 'remake', I will now make the assertion that THE KARATE KID is perhaps the first "great" movie of 2010. Oh, sure, no doubt there's been plenty of "good" and "really good" releases, but "great"? Not so much. KARATE KID is blastin' at all cylinders, absolutely making it one of the most enjoyable and pleasing experiences this year.

Before I go off praising the film for multiple paragraphs, I'll get the [very few] nitpicks out of the way right this instant: as basically every reviewer has noted, the movie isn't short. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film is a little long. I've seen the flick twice, and the funny part is the pacing bothered me more the first time than the second. But honestly, if I were a editor looking over this production and deciding what was necessary to cut, I would be forced to do nothing. With the sole exception of one sequence between Dre and Mei at a festival, I couldn't possibly cut a thing. Truthfully, every scene in this movie is integral to these characters and to the emotion the finale brings. Deleting more from the film could (possibly) damage the film. So I'm torn. On one hand, yes - it's long; but on the other hand, I'm entirely OK with it. And the other nitpick: it ends too quickly: happiness. freeze frame. done. C'mon! Give us a epilogue, at least!

Alright, now to the KARATE KID loving: first I wish to mention the sheer amazingness of both Jackie Chan (The Spy Next Door) and Jaden Smith (The Day the Earth Stood Still), something I would never have believed if I didn't see this film. Jackie Chan delivers what could be his best performance of his career [I dunno; haven't seen ALL of his works], being amazingly subtle and very down-to-earth, his eyes and body expression conveying so much with so little (if that makes sense). As Mr. Han, Jackie Chan has effectively won over my respect and showcases that he's much more than just 'the martial arts' guy. And Jaden Smith - perhaps the single most worrisome aspect of the entire production for me. I seriously thought that kid was gonna bomb. Instead, he makes this film. This 12-year old kick hits every emotional beat and comedic moment down to the T; it's Jaden's film, and he damn well knows it. That kid has one hell of a promising career.

Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is great as Dre's mom, but she's not given a super duper amount of stuff to do. Basically, she's your cool mom who can also be really, really annoying in a single instant. And Wen Wen Han as Mei Ying, Dre's schoolboy crush, is pretty damn adorable and works fine for what the movie asks of her. The bully dudes who kick Dre's arse all throughout school are pretty cool, truth be told. Their English may be a bit dodgy at times, but there's no denying they look totally badass and do their role perfectly enough that you can't wait for Jackie or Jaden to show them who's boss.

As for the karate/kung fu [aka the general only-reason-I'm-seeing-this-movie-damnit!], it's brutal, it's awesome, and it's very real. When the kids beat Dre up at the park and later outside his apartment building, it's ruthless, cruel, and dangerous. That's something this flick does well: it makes the karate a lethal force all on its own when used by Dre's enemies, but something akin to harmony and peacefulness as taught (properly) by Chan onto Dre. The final battle scene when Dre can finally lock in combat against those who have made him fearful is deliciously satisfying and extremely exciting. If one has any problem with the running time, the fight makes it totally worth it.

Direction by Harald Zwart is especially noteworthy. Harald uses zooms and hand held on a multitude of occasions, and uses it well without going overboard. This works to create even more intensity and gloom & doom during the tournament face off against Dre and his bully-er person. The score, provided by James Horner (The Mask of Zorro) hits all the right notes: intense and brutal during the fight scenes, epic when it looks like all hope has failed, and learning montagey during the learning montages. The film's screenplay is pitch perfect. We get this kid, we understand where he's coming from, and we instantly love him from scene one onwards. The script does a marvelous job with its characters and plotlines, and I wholeheartedly endorse it for some sort of big league nomination.

In a nutshell, THE KARATE KID does everything right. I love it. I recommend it. I'll own it on DVD. I'll listen to the commentary, watch the deleted scenes, the whole nine yards. If you have any reservations still standing against this 'remake', I implore you to just give in and see this goldmine. It's great, and at the very, very least, you'll get a nice laugh out of the jokes and some 'ooo, aaaahh' from the fight scenes. Go see KARATE KID!