30 June 2011

The Watcher: 06/17/11 - 06/30/11

Unfortunately by the time of this writing I have been unable to view FALLING SKIES, but I guarantee they will be reviewed in time for next week! So look for that and possibly a review of GAME OF THRONES, since I intend to take a bite out of that series. Stay tuned!

TEEN WOLF - THE FIRST 5 EPISODES - (05 June 2011 - 27 June 2011) - MTV impressed me with their interpretation of SKINS, a successful British show about the everyday lives of teenagers Americanized for audiences over here. Unfortunately, SKINS was canceled cos the stupid young adult audience favored JERSEY SHORE over worthwhile content. So here we have MTV's new agey interpretation of TEEN WOLF, a show that is doing rather well in the ratings and is a perfect series for the channel: it appeals to the TWILIGHT crowd and abides by a successful formula - attractive young men, angst, attractive young women, secrets & betrayals, werewolves, and more angst. Regrettably, TEEN WOLF isn’t all that great, despite a clear attempt on everyone’s part to make it something worthwhile.

Kudos to the showrunners for making the show serious and ‘dark’ instead of comedic, a route they easily could have gone, instead focusing on the (potential) real problems a teenager would face in this situation. Of course, this being a TV series, everything is heightened and clich├ęs are embraced. For example, Scott’s into sports, specifically lacrosse and constantly forces himself to keep his aggression in check to not force a change, and his newfound athletic skills awes his peers; his abilities and rejuvenated confidence gets him a girl, the new transfer to school Allison, but finds it difficult to indulge in his raging hormones without also igniting a change; the presence of a Alpha werewolf; the presence of a high school hierarchy and subsequently a friend who is the protagonists confidant and fancies a woman above and beyond his league, etc. Originality isn’t a strong point with TEEN WOLF, which is rather unfortunate.

I admit, I had high hopes for the series, that it would rise above its TWILIGHT influences and become an intelligent, confidant show that’s worthwhile. As it stands, TEEN WOLF is entertaining, but doesn’t really have any desire to become awesome. The pilot “Teen Wolf” does a fine job setting up the series premise, although Scott and his friend Stiles accept his new werewolf side a little too quickly for my taste. It introduces the love interest Allison, it introduces possible obstacles for Scott to overcome (Allison’s father being a werewolf hunter, this dark and unshaven Derek character lurking around, threat of random changes, etc.) and allows Tyler Posey to show off his skills as series leader. Not bad, honestly. Posey nicely bridges his dark side with his good natured self, although Posey does come across as a bit of a doofus sometimes. Tyler Hoechlin is freaky to look at as Derek, but he fulfills the Broody Dark Man obligations very well. Crystal Reed is gorgeous as Posey’s love interest, although I do wish her character gains some dimension and true personality as the series progresses.

At this point, TEEN WOLF doesn’t impress me, but I’m entertained enough to see the series through. Take this how you will, but the series is far easier to review coupled together as so – writing about five episodes, see – as opposed to individual episodes. Does this point to a lack of strength with these 40 minute episodes? I haven’t decided yet about how to review the series, maybe waiting until another five episodes have aired or for all I know you’ll see TEEN WOLF again next week. But I’ll leave you with this: if you have mild interest in TEEN WOLF, check it out. Just don’t expect anything grand. The last episode, “The Tell”, seems to point the series in a interesting direction. Let’s hope that interest stays up.

TRUE BLOOD S04E01 - "She's Not There" (26 June 2011) - It honestly feels like just yesterday season three ended with loads of angst and rage, and now here we are again for a fourth year! And it doesn’t look like showrunner Alan Ball is letting up the momentum anytime soon. The first season was all about vampires and the world Sookie finds herself inhabiting, the second about the darkness inside us (?), the third expanding the universe to werewolves and politicians, and season four brings us Witches. Lots and lots of Witches. Ball recently called this year the “Season of the Witch”, and I believe him. From the stellar opening minutes of Sookie transported to what appears to be Faerie world only to apparently be an elaborate illusion by a group of Witches [unless those are just pissed off ugly faeries], Ball’s comments appear to be accurate. The entire episode is full of Witchcraft: the freaky OMEN-esque happenings with Arlene’s kid (a subplot that I’m not too keen on seeing explored) and Lafayete and Jesus’ experimentation with the field at a Wiccan meeting. Arlene’s boring subplot aside, I am interested in what happened with Lafayete when he joined the circle. It seemed that once he joined hands with them, it was his energy or power that channeled through them all and revived the bird. Now that’s an interesting subplot.

What more, TRUE BLOOD makes an unexpected twist: when Sookie returns from the faerie world, a whole year has passed! Um, a world of awesome! This makes for some creative storytelling, as well as forwarding the narrative from only a few months (which the entirety of the first three seasons captured). It allows Sookie to be more emotionally scattered; it allows both Bill and Eric to be into something new, and in Bill’s case being the King of Louisiana; and it enables characters to be at different points of their development than what could be possible before, such as Tara’s logical newfound bisexuality. Eventually all these characters are going to come together and hopefully play a major part in this seasons arc, as they did in the whole Maryanne season two crazyfest. Love or hate that season, it was nice how all the characters had their own stories that, in the end, brought them together.

“She’s Not There” makes me giddy, frankly. Sure, I’m not too big of a fan of Andy’s vampire blood addiction or anything dealing with Arlene, but Sookie is a strong enough character (and hot) that I am interested to see how she progresses, and I’m equally as interested in seeing Alan Ball’s interpretation of witches and witchcraft and how all that evolves. So, sit back and enjoy another eleven TRUE BLOOD episodes! Excited to see where it ends…

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