28 February 2012

Tuesday Talk: Oscars, Netflix, Kimmel

Welcome to Tuesday Talk, a new feature here at Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek. It allows me the ability to just talk about whatever I want, movies or TV, without actually having some big grandiose topic like, say, 'What is the best Orson Wells performance and why?' or what have you. So I'll do a Tuesday Talk one week, a Tuesday Cap the other - just the Cap thing got a bit tedious after awhile, and I wasn't all that into it. Anyhow, time for me to stay true to the blog's title, and ramble!

As a fan of movies, this is what we do, right? We watch the Oscars, love 'em or loathe 'em. And each year, I find myself less and less impressed. Although, after the Franco/Hathaway lackluster fest that was 2011, this year's broadcast had nowhere to go but up. And host Billy Crystal succeeded for the most part. At least he was lively and jovial (and not looking high), and even gave us a dance routine that I had no understanding of the words [for realzies, the sound was very off all evening]. Highlights include the clever inclusion of Crystal in key 2011 films, the actresses of Bridesmaids coming out and announcing awards, Iron Man and Pepper Pots doing a nice shtick, and the Cirque du Soleil routine which was pretty much awesome [but, frankly, could easily have been trimmed....that said, that was awesome!], and Emma Stone being Emma Stone which is always a plus.

Concerning the awards, well, we got two clear winners: Hugo and The Artist, both of which I have yet to see, and I have a sinking feeling that unless one of 'em blows me away, neither are going to be impactful enough to alter how I view my favorite/best flicks of 2011 as I have it right now. I haven't seen Beginners, which I know everyone is raving about, so I can't full well join the Christopher Plummer bandwagon - although I do recognize the award is a reflection of his entire career, not just this singular movie, so in that regard, kudos Mr. Plummer. Still, a part of me wanted to see Gary Oldman win. Honestly. And while I'm being honest, Midnight in Paris didn't do a single bloody thing for me. Nada. Zilch. So to have the screenplay win for Best Original, and have accolades sprung on it over and over, I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm. But it won, that's the reality, and the big question is this: why didn't that little dick show up and accept the award? Get your ass up there, doofus.

I believe the final running time clock in for the awards was 3.09, and that's pretty bad. For a show that concerns itself so much with time, they really are pretty bad at mastering it. Oh well. I hope the 2013 awards will be far more interesting and unpredictable.

Just - alright, full thoughts confession time: eight movies, a theme park, and bazillions of fans later, and Harry Potter gets nothing? That's criminal. Hugo winning special effects? Granted, all I've seen of it is from the trailers, but c'mon! Rise of the Planet of the Apes or, just as deserving, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. These things demand to be recognized, and nobody is giving them anything more than, 'Oh, right, yeah, that was pretty neat-o effects, wasn't it? Sure, let's nom them.' Not cool. Award these movies already. The more I think about the Oscars, the less in love I am with them. But the Oscars weren't the highlight of the evening. Nay, that was something far more full of hilarity and brilliance and celebratory of everything movie. You'll find that...right after some Netflix' talkin.


I just finished How I Met Your Mother, so naturally I would have to move onto another series and not actively do homework, right? You are correct! Finding out that the entire series run of the ABC Family show GREEK was available, I put aside any plans for doing stuff that matters and instead concentrating my time on finishing up this series. A long time ago I rented Chapter One from the local library, loved it, reviewed it, and never got back to its awesomeness. Well, I sought to remedy my error of not having seen the complete series (which ended its run early 2011), and voilia, Netflix was my saving grace.

Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 were watched within a span of, I believe, nine days. Not bad, not bad. It's shows like these that solidify my television addiction. I found myself pressing the 'Next' arrow each and every time an episode finished. When the season two finale reared its head, and Cappie was faced with the decision of chasing after Casey or not (no spoilerage; anyone who cares about what I'm writing about at the moment will most likely had seen all there is to see of GREEK), I resolved to turn it off, and revisit the series a week later (or hell, a day later) with season three. Nope. The camera closed in on Cappie, the credits rolled. Season 2 ended. Approximately two seconds later, I pressed Next, and Season 3 began. I don't honestly think I went through a season as fast as I did with three.

The long and short of it is, the final twelve episodes of season two were strong. I liked them, I liked the introduction of Max and their blossoming relationship. I wasn't so much a fan of the 'oh, you're leaving, what does this mean for our future?' thing the show seemed to pull a lot, and especially with this relationship, but Casey and Max were strong enough together that I let it slide. Evan began a downward spiral into becoming a bigger ass than ever before, rather self destructive, really, and that was very interesting to watch. More to that, Evan and Cappie reconciling their differences and becoming friends for the first time in years - that was a fantastic arc, and to see how their friendship was tested in completely 'Oh no they didint!' ways was a real pleasure. Side characters Calvin and Dale were also given a huge load of material to work with, and not only did it make me have tremendous respect for the actors for going with the flow, but also the writers for their balls going there with these characters. If there's one thing GREEK excelled at (other than fun, fun, fun!) was character development. Even some of the standalone episodes that don't feel like they serve a larger purpose, they tie into character surprisingly well.

That's season three for ya. Loads of stories that don't quite engage, or just aren't really inspired, but thanks to these characters and especially these actors - whatever imperfections the story had, I just didn't care. Season 3 was still enjoyable. I also loved that characters that played important parts in each others lives in the first season, and suddenly had practically no screentime together in the second season, rekindled their friendship/romance in its third year. Not just letting things fall into oblivion because one storyline is over - there aren't many shows that don't fall into that unfortunate crux. Overall, season three was the least bestest of the bunch, but considering the quality of seasons one, two and four, that's not saying it was bad by any means.

Season 4, the final ten episodes. I entered the season with the dread of knowing once it's done, it's done. No more. I deliberately decided to wait a few hours (!) before clicking Next, which wasn't always easy when they introduced subplots and romantic pairings that I was highly interested in seeing [e.g. SPOILERS - Rusty and Ashleigh, weirdly works] and fun stand alone episodes that poked deeper into second hand characters [e.g., the Beaver episode, brilliant!]. Overall, with only ten episodes composing its season, a lot was packed into each episode, making them gripping from beginning to end - at least I dug 'em. Casey growing up and getting into Cyprus law using her wits and attitude, Evan continuously burying himself in a hole, the return of the ultra-bitchy Rebecca Logan who now runs ZBZ, the lost-and-found Ashleigh looking for meaning and direction, Calvin who's stuck between allegiances, Dale who decides to pledge, and finally Cappie's journey into adulthood, the will he? won't he? conundrum. For any final season, the important thing is that the character arcs are left in a satisfying way, and how GREEK chose to go out - it works, it fits, and it's entirely satisfying. There's clear progression of character from when we were introduced to these blokes in the first season, and where they end up - some make choices, have a sort of direction, while others don't know what the hell they're going to do, and simply choose to wing it all. Very real, very honest, very true to characters and life. In a sentence, I loved the final run of GREEK, and furthermore, I take no shame in saying I got all emotionally invested in everyone's damn relationships.

With GREEK finished, my eyes are set on two gritty FX shows: Terriers and Sons of Anarchy. The first didn't make it past its thirteen episode freshman order, no thanks to horrible ratings, and the second just finished its fourth season (I'm resuming with its sophomore run). Thus far, three episodes into both respective shows, they're bloody fantastic. In future ramblings or reviews, I'll do a good ol' write-up, but for now, just gotta say, FX is the channel to watch out for. If I ever develop a series and pursue my life ambition of being a screenwriter (specifically for television, although I ain't about to decline film), I'm bringing my material to FX.

In conclusion, GREEK is one hell of an awesome serious, highly recommended to all young adults or not young adults who enjoy college dramadies. It's sad to see the series go, but it left on a high note. As of this writing, the first three seasons are available in five DVD sets [God I hate ABC Family in regards to how they release their shows, split into half-season 'Volume' DVDs], with the fourth and final season available strictly through Shout! Factory's online website.

What's everyone else watching on Netflix Streaming?


Now, I don't normally watch late night talk shows, though about a year ago I went on a Craig Ferguson kick and made it my business to watch anything of his I could get my hand on, but since I was already procrastinating on homework (which I later completed, by the way; I know you were all anxiously wondering) I decided to check out Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscar par-tay with special guest Oprah Winfrey. There was the promise of, like, two dozen stars showing up during the show, and in a manner of speaking, they did. Alright, right off the bat, Kimmel got the humble 'we're not worthy of you, Oprah' jokes out of the way, and they settled in together quite nicely. First Kimmel premiered Movie: The Movie, a 9 1/2 minute trailer that compiles every imaginable cliche in the book in one potential feature film that I would pay top dollar to see. Those ten minutes were the highlight of the evening. Hell, best ten minutes of the day. Kimmel is brilliant. I'm not going to write an exhaustive list of all the actors/actresses that cameod in the piece, but there were tons of surprises, none more so than an appearance of an adorable sci-fi character.

In addition to the faux trailer, Oprah got into the well of funny and delivered some hilarious bits along with Kimmel in some sketches. She actually got her fight on in Oprah's Book Fight Club, where she and her fellow bookie peeps beat the livin' snot out of each other. It was genuinely quite amazing to see, ladies and gents. Next to the movie trailer thing, do yourself the service of watching the Oprah/Kimmel skit. Just as hilarious, just as brilliant. Watch the spectacular Movie: The Movie here. These two skits made Oscar night completely and totally worth it (same meaning, I know, just sounded fun).


And that concludes the first edition of Tuesday Talk! Man, just writing for the hell of writing feels great. No source citing or thesis statements or any of that college-y stuff. Nice. Spring Break next week, so I hope to finish whatever Netflix addictions I have left and concentrate on watching more movies, which I am at a miserable number with at the moment. Come back later this week, because the Geek is gearing up to hand out his awards for 2011. He's seen enough, now it's time to finally, completely, wholeheartedly close that chapter of the movie world and look yonder to 2012 (!!!), that magnificent, world-ending year that we just happen to be living in now. 2012 air....ahhhh...how it smells and is just as air-y as 2011 air....what am I talking about again? Movie stuff! Right, see y'all tomorrow. Hopefully. Maybe. Happy Tuesday!

27 February 2012

MMAM - Vol. 54

In Britain, the SHERLOCK Series 2 soundtrack was just released today, and thus, the tracks are immediately available on YouTube. Sometimes, I love this generation. Anyway, I'm not going to spoil real details for anybody, but the scene that accompanies this music is brutal and stunning and brilliant. The master detective has to find a way to get out of an impossible situation, a situation that still has fans typing furiously on the internet about with their many theories. But this music is fantastic, in my opinion. Pulse pounding in the beginning, and sweet near the finale as a friendship is put to the ringer.

So give it a listen, will ya please, and more than that, I implore you with every ounce of my being to somehow, someway watch BBC's SHERLOCK. The first series, three 90-minute episodes, are streaming right this second on Netflix, so do yourself a favor and watch them. Series 2 will air on PBS in May, but if you're like me and don't want to wait, well....internet, man. Until then, enjoy this wonderful music!

18 February 2012

The Watcher: 02/12/12 - 02/18/12

BEING HUMANS02E05 - "Addicted to Love" (13 February 2012) - The U.S. Being Human is on fire right now. Each of the characters are being tempted to indulge in their darkest urges, and to watch them cross the line, and what happens after that – it’s great television. I absolutely love it when characters we know and love are pushed into crazy situations and make drastic choices, so naturally, I’m enjoying the hell out of this season right now. Sally’s addiction to inhabit bodies and get her sex on – thank you, by the way creators, for giving us the opportunity for Sally to show off her pleasing body outside sweats – is becoming more and more dangerous for her spiritual self, and her human host. Nora has the most interesting development, as the ex that scarred her years ago resurfaces, and, in wolf form, she decides to…take care of it. The final moments of the episode, as Nora wakes up next to her fellow wolfs, the slow panning right to left, and the serene smile on Nora’s face – it’s electrifying and chilling all at the same time. She’s in a very dark place, and I can’t wait to see where this choice leads her. Aidan is getting back to his blood-addicted roots, immersing himself in the desires Suren promises. The chemistry between Witwer and Lachman is exhilarating, and these two onscreen make for some riveting television. More and more, Sam Witwer impresses with his portrayal of Aidan. And finally, Josh’s animal side is slowly taking over as he beats the snot out of Nora’s ex. His darkness was inevitable, and quite enjoyable, but I wish there was a bit more lead in to this development. Overall, Being Human has been one hell of a pleasure week after week, and season 2 has been nothing short of outstanding. Score: 9.7/10

BEING HUMAN [U.K.]S04E02 - "Being Human 1955" (12 February 2012) - With cast members biting the dust one by one, it’s weird times for Being Human, but surprisingly, with none of the original cast save one, the show somehow, miraculously, still works. Series creator Toby Whithouse introduced the ‘War Child’ arc in the premiere, as George and Nina’s baby girl will herald the end of all vampires, as prophesied in the oldest vampire text. That’s heavy stuff, and a far cry from the central mission statement of the first series: monsters trying to be human. Yet against this backdrop of a child with a great destiny, the product of two werewolves, and a whole clan of vampires wanting that child very much dead, the series does stay committed to that original mission, with the same problems but some new faces. It’s always a curious time for any show when the cast gets a major shakeup, and the Being Human crew must be commended for their amazing job integrating these new characters into the narrative in a way that feels organic in a way, and, most importantly, works. “Being Human 1955” brilliantly shines light to three new characters, and in the span of one hour, grabbed me into their story, and genuinely got me all worked up with the abrupt – but sweet – exit of two of those characters in the climax. The original werewolf and vampire we knew and loved for three seasons are gone. We have newbies Tom and Leo (with the always hilarious Annie) battling their own demons, fighting the good fight George and Mitchell did for three years, and it works. New cast, same show, and I can’t wait to see where this goes. Score: 9.1/10

COMIC BOOK MENS01E01 - "Junk" (12 February 2012) - I like Kevin Smith, and I like comic books. Natural fit, really, no? "Junk" is the premiere of Smith's six-episode AMC series Comic Book Men, and for the most part, I found it a pleasant hour of television. Nothing ground-breaking or amazing per sae, but it was simply a solid hour. The workers at The Secret Stash definitely know their stuff, and a lot of the series' fun derives from these guys simply talking about comic book characters in a fashion very similar to Smith movie scripts. That's great, I love that. But, of course, the show can't just be about grown men talking comics, so there's the pawning component of the show. It's interesting in that it gives screentime to merchandise and rare memorabilia I wouldn't know ever existed, and to see some of this obscure stuff - such as a old Batman and Robin first edition drawing - is a real pleasure, but judging from this premiere episode alone, Comic Book Men isn't an instant grab. The employees know their stuff, sure, but some can also be obnoxious or come across too assholey, which, in its own way, I guess, generates good TV. Overall, I'll tune in for its entire freshman run - after all, six episodes is nothing - but I'm excited to see where Smith takes the format in successive episodes. One final, random thought: Bryan (?) looks like the unmasked Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's HalloweenII: hillbilly freakiness, son, hillbilly freakiness. Score: 7.1/10

FRINGES04E13 - "A Better Human Being" (17 February 2012) - Olivia has all her memories back! Yes! And Peter, god bless him, the willpower to not just grab the gorgeous Anna Torv and smooch her like crazy – he’s a man amongst men. The big Case of the Week I can honestly say I didn’t pay too much attention to; it simply wasn’t all that engaging or unique. Everything was about Peter and Olivia, and I ate those scenes up, and was very much satisfied. The final scene with Olivia and Peter in the car is the most interesting of all. I won’t get into timelines and all that jazz here, but if we are to understand that the timeline Peter wants to get back to no longer exists (as I understand, but yet how did Olivia gain all those memories?), then Peter is perfectly justified in kissing her in the end. What makes up a person? If it’s their memories, then by all means, this Olivia Dunham is exactly the Olivia Dunham he was fighting to see again. He even remarks how he can see her in her eyes, his Olivia. For the last seven episodes, Peter’s been restraining himself from getting too close because she didn’t remember him, didn’t have any knowledge of him, so she was different in that respect, but altogether the same. So, then, is it memories and experiences that make a person? Blah blah whatever. Fringe is getting really frakking interesting. How did Olivia get her memories back? Why? What’s this FauxNina doing and why is Cortexiphan such a big problem? Etc, etc. So much to do in nine more episodes! Fringe, I love you. Score: 9.0/10

JUSTIFIED S03E05 - "Thick as Mud" (14 February 2012) - Dewey Crow, you gave us the single best line of the series, I think: “You mean I had four kidneys?” What a perfect, perfect way to close out for an act break. I’m sure plenty will argue with me for saying this, but season three, I feel, has been far more coherent and enjoyable than the much-praised about season two. At the very least, I feel there’s more interesting stories and character dynamics going on. Boyd’s seemingly directionless enterprise, the introduction of two villains who are smart bastards, Raylan screentime which feels more than normal, more funny bits (in each episode, there’s definitely plenty of laugh-out-loud moments), and the promise of more exciting stories. It’s a good time to be a Justified fan, and if you ain’t yet, get your arse in gear. And finally, how Raylan dispatches (super conveniently, but I’ll let it slide) the bad girl at the end – priceless. Score: 8.7/10

REVENGES01E15 - "Chaos" (15 February 2012) - Not nearly as fulfilling as I hoped it would be. On the bright side, Tyler is finally, finally and forever gone! He overstayed his welcome by his second episode, so I did quite the victory dance with the (rather obvious) reveal that it wasn’t Daniel, but Tyler who is now with the deadness. Since the premiere opened with someone getting killed, I expected this development to be a major game changer for the series, but instead, it really isn’t. “Chaos” could have been any other episode. So this is what we have: Amanda is bleeding, possibly from a bullet fired by Tyler, and she didn’t kill him, so who did? Whose hand was it that we saw in the teaser? What the hell is Emily Thorn’s Japanese master doing with Amanda? Are Japanese Master Guy and Computer Guy in cahoots? And when will Emily get her revenging on again? Overall, decent episode, but could have been so much better. Score: 7.6/10

SUPERNATURALS07E15 - "Repo Man" (17 February 2012) - Good, solid episode, made worthwhile entirely by Mark Pellegrino’s return presence as Nick/Lucifer tormenting Sam’s noggin. It’s not as fun as “Slice Girls”, but the story was interesting. A man who liked being possessed by a demon and seeking to reunite with it, and Sam’s wall now officially broken and all hell loose in there. I genuinely hope the writers don’t cop out with Sam and the Wall, because this is a very big story that shouldn’t just be casually addressed. It’s already a miracle Sam’s mind didn’t roast as Death predicted in season six, that he’s even remotely able to function, so the consequences of that wall breaking better be severe and presented with the remainder of this season. Score: 8.0/10

13 February 2012

MMAM - Vol. 53

There's no way around this.

Underneath this manly exterior of a manly man, there is a itcy bitcy bit of a softie. I know, this is beyond belief! Bewildering, one could say. Impossible! I cannot be infected with mushy feelings! But hark, 'tis is true.

So in commemoration of this 'holiday' thing that is tomorrow, I present Craig Armstrong's main love theme from Love Actually, the one movie in the whole universe someone can throw on at any minute, and hell, I'll start getting so damn emotionally invested I wouldn't be surprised I'd start tearing up. [I mean, I don't do that...]

In all seriousness, Love Actually is one of my favorite movies ever made in all of time and space. And yes, I've visited the future, I know this. And Armstrong's score, villainously only available in a hard-to-find promo disc, is a bit contributing factor in why it's so damn good. Give it a listen, honest, it's brilliant music.

As for me, my Valentine's Day will probably be spent in front of the computer, avoiding homework, watching Greek or Terriers, and eating a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's. Love can't be better displayed than that, I daresay. How bout y'all: what's your V-Day plans?

12 February 2012

Netflix Streaming Has Consumed My Life!

Damn Netflix Streaming!

A bit ago, I made a proclamation that my having high speed internet access and relatively not too difficult classes would make time for me writing on this here blog. Turns out, I may have spoke too soon. The very thing that I expected would make blogging easier has been my undoing, both in the blogosphere and in my homework doingness. 12 days ago, I started season 1 of a show I caught miscellaneous episodes of on Channel 45 in the wee hours of the night, giddy that I could finally watch six seasons worth all in order. What show may it be?

How I Met Your Mother had always been a fun half hour when I caught random episodes on the tube, so to have the opportunity to watch all available 126 episodes in order - yeah, too good to resist. So for the last two weeks, this series has consumed my life. And it's been terrific!

Turns out I've already seen a good portion of seasons 1 and 2 on the television, so a lot of my watching was just refreshing myself. But then season 3, all the way to the end, was full of material I had never seen before, and made everything so much sweeter.

Season 1 and 2 were decent, with some laughs interestingly more in the middle of the season more than the beginning or ending (which is usually the case with comedies). Season 3 was really well done, I thought, with the introduction of Stella, the gorgeous Sarah Chalke's character. I especially appreciated Ted's dedication to making her watch Star Wars. Any potential wife of mine will have to pass the same test. Their paths diverge in season 4 in a satisfying fashion. I love seasons three and four, but all too often, it felt like there were these promises being made and then obnoxious cop outs - or a plot thread is left behind for episodes on end only to get picked up near or at the finale. Got a bit annoying, frankly. But understandable.

Season 5 was fairly so-so, but season 6, which I read that people felt was largely uneven, I found to be my favorite. It had the most 'hit' episodes for me, and the introduction of John Lithgow as an important figure in Barney's life was absolutely brilliant. I love me some Lithgow.

Overall, if anyone has yet to catch this show, do so now. There isn't a better opportunity. There are some weak episodes, and some that seem a bit redundant or unsure of themselves, but those are far and few in between, overshadowed by some truly hilarious story arcs, one liners, and skits. Even though the show is about Ted Mosby's quest to find his soulmate, it's really Barney and Lily that make this show so damn entertaining, in my humble opinion. Neil Patrick Harris is obviously a very talented comedian, so his presence in even the most shoddy of episodes automatically makes it a bit more fun, and Alyson Hannigan proves herself a worthy comedic and dramatic force even without the brilliance of Whedon dialogue. These two actors own the series.

So, yeah, How I Met Your Mother: watch it. Pronto. But the big question facing me now is this: do I download the aired episodes of season seven and watch those, or wait until the full season is done, do one massive download of all 24 episodes, and spend this time concentrating on a new show? For example, I have these on my radar:

Terriers came and went last year with huge critical acclaim, but minimal viewership. Still, a year later, it's a show that's mentioned a lot by critics and bloggers. Apparently it's great and excellent and amazing and whatever way you can possibly say that it was good. And Netflix has been nice enough to put the entire 13-episode series online! Diss the hell out of the company all you want, but I gotta commend them for offering full series that haven't hit DVD yet. Kudos, guys. Other than knowing it stars that one dude from Grounded for Life and it has something to do with private investigating, I don't know a bloody thing about the series, so I'm sort of eager to see this much-acclaimed show. And the young kid in me is itching to start watching this:

Spider-Man: Unlimited. Hated, hated, hated by so many fans of the Web Slinger. From my own memories, I rather think I liked it. Sure, their version of Carnage and Venom were, like, freaky steroid-using villains, but overall, I loved the suit and the futuristic setting. It's been years since I've seen Spider-Man: Unlimited, so to have the chance to watch the complete series again is nothing less than a blessing. Unless I watch it and turns out everyone is right, the show truly is horrible, in which case I'll be madly disappointed.

After that, well, um, turns out every episode of every season of Power Rangers just happens to be Streaming as well, and the complete Godzilla: The Series. Must. . . Stop. . . watching . . .