Episode Spotlight: Five Years Gone (Heroes)

Plot: Hiro and Ando teleport 5 years into the future into a world where the bomb they’ve been working to prevent went off and those with powers became hunted and feared as a result.

Significance: With some changes to accommodate the remaining 3 seasons of the original Heroes, “5 Years Gone” is the rough setting for Heroes Reborn. There will be differences, of course, but the general concept of those with powers being hunted and feared along with some noted differences to Hiro’s character and appearance are straight out of this episode.

In the original show’s canon, this episode presents the future they are working to avoid and gives Hiro the information he needs to stop that future. It also explains why future!Hiro visited Peter on the subway to set him down his path

Lasting Impressions: I have always loved this episode and it makes me really excited to watch a whole show based in basically the same universe. I’m curious about which elements they will keep and which have had to be adapted based on original actor availability and the events that followed this episode in canon.

It’s not just the events that have changed the world, it’s the falling out and coming together of new relationships. There are glimpses of who these people were and how they related to each other but there isn’t a single person who was untouched. As a fan primarily of the characters and relationships rather than the plot, this is still the element of the episode I am most drawn to.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Five Years Gone (Heroes)

Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

It’s been too long since I last visited the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I took the first of what will be many trips back there for this week’s Episode Spotlight.

Plot: The Gentleman come to Sunnydale and steal everyone’s voice.

Significance: This episode largely works as a stand-alone episode, but a few things happen in relation to the season arc and a few relationships.

As far as the arc goes, this is the episode Riley and Buffy find out that the other is keeping some fairly significant information from them. They don’t reveal what the secret is until the next episode, but they see that the other isn’t who they thought they were.

This episode also moves things along with all three of the romantic relationships going on. Buffy and Riley share their first kiss, Anya begins to trust in Xander’s feelings for her, and Willow and Tara perform magic together for the first time.

Lasting Impressions: This really is a fantastic episode. I really could just end this post here and you’d have all the information you needed to know. It’s just a really good episode of television that stands up to both time and rewatches.

First, this episode is extremely enjoyable to watch strictly for pleasure. Anya being Anya and horrifying Giles with her bluntness will always make me smile. Willow writing “hi Giles” on her dry erase board and the hug that follows it is heartwarming. Xander and Spike have a wonderfully antagonistic relationship and their bickering is often welcome.

Second, it’s brilliantly constructed. Nearly ⅔ of the episode takes place without any spoken communication but it doesn’t feel like an obtrusive gimmick. Whedon is so known for his dialogue and use of language in this show but even without it, everything about the episode works for me.

In many ways, it reminds me a lot of Once More With Feeling. Both deal with difficulties with communication, whether it is the physically inability to communicate or keeping things bottled up because speaking them aloud would be too difficult. Both are unusually structured episodes without sacrificing plot movement or character development. And both are fan favorites for those reasons, I suspect.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Episode Spotlight: Luke Can See Her Face (Gilmore Girls)

This week I come back to another older favorite. Gilmore Girls will always be one of my favorite shows and this episode is a classic and one of my favorites.

The Plot: Lorelai, Sookie, and Michel prepare for the opening of their new Inn as Luke realizes his feelings for Lorelai with the help of an unusual source. Meanwhile, Rory comforts Paris after Asher winds up in the hospital.

Significance: This episode is the episode that had been building for nearly 4 seasons. Luke finally realizes that he wants to be with Lorelai. Their chemistry had been undeniable from the beginning and by this point, they’ve been through engagements, marriages, returns from former partners, fights, holidays, Rory’s graduation and so much more.

While not the most important episode in the “Lorelai opens an inn” story, it is one of the most memorable. The magical zucchini patch was not only magical for the characters who slept it in but also for the viewers in the way it summed up all that was good about the inn and Lorelai’s work life. It has always been a story about finding your own way and creating a new family around you who loves and understands you and I can’t think of a better episode to sum up that feeling than this one.

I never remember what is going on with Rory in this episode and she’s largely a background player here. It’s not a very significant episode but her reaction to Lorelai’s gossip about Dean and Lindsey’s marriage lays the groundwork for the plot development that occurs by the end of this three-episode arc.

Lasting Impressions: It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a Gilmore Girls episode and returning to Stars Hollow is always a nice treat. This was the first time since I started watching the show that I realized how much faster the dialogue is delivered. I know it’s what the show is known for and they even made it into a tagline that I adore, but since I talk pretty quickly myself, I had never noticed until now.

I had also forgotten how much happens in this episode. I remembered Lorelai stressing over the inn’s opening and Luke and the tape, of course, but I didn’t remember many of the scenes that were related but not directly part of those two stories. I had forgotten that the cats on the porch opened this episode, about Shel’s existence, and most surprisingly, Jess’s presence. It may just be that I was trying to block out his hair, which is not Milo’s most flattering look, but I had thought all the Jess scenes were in the next episode because that’s where I assume all things related to Liz’s wedding are.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Luke Can See Her Face (Gilmore Girls)

Episode Spotlight: Chasing the Bus (CSI)

I have been terribly delinquent at supplying new content for this blog, but since it’s the start of a new fiscal year, I’m going to treat it like a second new year and a fresh start. I want to get back to writing more frequently and that means a new feature! Every week, I am going to rewatch one of my favorite episodes and celebrate all that made them good or memorable. Some of these will be widely regarded as great episodes, others will just be ones that are close to my heart. Even if you aren’t familiar with the episode featured in any given week, that doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun. Feel free to rewatch one of your own favorites and tell me about it in the comments or join in with the discussion question at the end. There can never be too much discussion about the shows we individually love.

To kick off this new feature, I revisited an old favorite. “Chasing the Bus” aired in March 2002 and is the first episode of CSI that I remember watching. It may not have been the very first, but it was the one that inspired me to buy the first season on DVD and a 7 year love was born. It’s also one of my most-watched episodes of the show, though it had probably been 8 years since I last saw it.

The Plot: The CSIs investigate a bus crash outside of Las Vegas.

Significance: Especially in its early seasons, CSI was an episodic procedural. A case was introduced at the beginning of the episode and a suspect was arrested by the end in the majority of cases. The show was about the science behind the crime, so even character interactions were minimal and mostly contained to work-related discussions. There are hints at character relationships or at least general affection for the others, but nothing like what viewers are used to today in the world of Bones, Castle, and Elementary.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Chasing the Bus (CSI)

Why You Should Start Watching The 100

It would be fair to say at this point in time that The 100 is my favorite TV show on the air right now. Since I started it back in February (and even more so since I watched episode 2×05 in May), it has excited me and reignited all of my crazy fan tendencies in a big way. It’s a long wait until season three and I would love for more people to catch up during the wait, so if post-apocalyptic sci-fi is in any way your thing or if you just love great TV, regardless of genre, here are some reasons to start The 100 (first season available on Netflix)

The first reason to watch is the existence of Clarke Griffin as a character. From the very beginning, she was a leader. Not because she needed to be in charge, but because she felt the responsibility of taking care of the other kids. It made her the boring stick-in-the-mud compared to Bellamy’s leading style of “whatever the hell we want” but it also caught the attention of some like Monty who would have followed her to the end of the earth after only knowing her for a day. She draws people to her because they recognize her desire to help them survive and her ability to get things done. She’s the kind of character that other characters and viewers alike can be inspired by and the further into the series you get, the more you feel for her as she grows and adapts and is forced to make impossible decisions.

Even if you don’t love Clarke as much as I do, it’s not a problem because there are so many other fantastic characters. My own list of favorite characters is six people deep and I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them to pick an actual favorite. If you love character growth, this is a show for you. These characters grow and change in ways that are sometimes very dramatic and sudden but always consistent with what we know about them and what they’ve been through. Their opinions and actions change because that’s what a fight for survival calls for. It’s amazing to watch and occasionally heartbreaking and continues to enhance the journey we are taking with these characters.

Continue reading Why You Should Start Watching The 100

Dream Emmy Nominees

We’re just a couple weeks away from the announcement of the 2015 Emmy nominees and I predict I will be disappointed, as usual, with the people left out. So I’m making my own list of ideal nominees and hope you’ll join me. These aren’t the people I expect to be nominated and I fully recognize that there are many people who will (and should) be nominated from shows that I don’t watch and therefore didn’t include. These are just the people and shows I would love to see recognized that I have enjoyed over the past year.

When you’re done reading, head to the comments to share your dream nominees or talk about any of my picks!

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Broad City
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Looking
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Transparent

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Americans
  • The 100
  • Masters of Sex
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Orphan Black
  • Rectify

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Jonathan Groff as Patrick (Looking)
  • Chris Messina as Danny Castellano (The Mindy Project)
  • Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
  • Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation)
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (Transparent)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler (Broad City)
  • Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project)
  • Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
  • Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)
  • Tracie Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson (Black-ish)
  • Constance Wu as Jessica Huang (Fresh off the Boat)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler (Penny Dreadful)
  • Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon (Empire)
  • Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
  • Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings (The Americans)
  • Michael Sheen as Bill Masters (Masters of Sex)
  • Adan Young as Daniel Holden (Rectify)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Catriona Balfe as Claire Fraser (Outlander)
  • Viola Davis as Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder)
  • Eva Green as Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)
  • Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon (Empire)
  • Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Helena, Cosima, Alison, Rachel, and Krystal (Orphan Black)
  • Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)
  • Abigail Spencer as Amantha Holden (Rectify)

Continue reading Dream Emmy Nominees

Upfronts 2015: NBC

Welcome to upfronts week 2015! By now, nearly all currently airing scripted shows have been either renewed or canceled and all that’s left is for the networks to show off their new offerings and release their fall scheduling. As always, NBC starts the week and it will conclude on Thursday with The CW. Below you’ll find a summary of the renewals and cancellations along with my analysis of the season on the network, a listing of new fall shows with their trailers and my initial reactions to them, and a list of new shows that will be held for midseason or summer if the schedule fills up. It’s a fun week to be a TV fan and I hope among these new offerings, we all find a new show to fall in love with.

Current Shows

Renewed: The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Grimm, Law and Order: SVU, The Mysteries of Laura, The Night Shift, Undateable

Canceled: A to Z, Allegiance, Bad Judge

Awaiting News: A.D. American Odessey

Ended: Parks and Recreation, Parenthood

Analysis: After a couple years of improved performance with new shows, this was not a good year for NBC. Only one new show was granted a renewal (The Mysteries of Laura) and ratings for that are already nothing impressive. However, once again, NBC had ordered plenty of new shows for next season in the hopes that something sticks. Their Dick Wolf franchise of Chicago Fire/P.D. and SVU continue to be stable performers for the network, with crossovers that typically saw an increase of viewers across shows. The Backlist is down in the ratings after its move to Thursday but it still improves on the numbers for that night, giving the network some much needed stabilization on that night.

New Fall Shows

Dramas

BlindspotTrailer

If this wasn’t a Greg Berlanti show, I would have my doubts. Like so many shows in recent years, it seems like a better fit for a movie or maybe even a mini-series. As a sustainable show for a broadcast network, I’m not entirely convinced it will work but the trailer looks interesting enough that I’ll probably be checking out the first episode or at the very least, looking forward to hearing first reactions from critics.

HeartbreakerTrailer

I don’t know what to think about this show. On the one hand, I’m a sucker for medical dramas and enjoy watching them. On the other, for reasons that have nothing to do with her skill, I have a hard time watching Melissa George in things. Apparently the Alias fan in me will forever see her as Lauren and immediately distrust any character she plays, which is probably going to be a problem with her as the lead. On the other hand, I’ve gotten over similarly strong associations before, so maybe this will be the show that does it for me. It’s a little heavy on the Grey’s Anatomy vibe but I hope that in time, it will be able to carve out its own identity.

The PlayerTrailer

This one is not catching my interest at all. There are some slight shades of Person of Interest baked into the premise but with a focus on action rather than the sci-fi aspects of this sort of technology. However, despite my lack of interest, I think it will pair well with The Blacklist and maybe those two shows can give NBC slightly improved ratings on Thursdays this fall.

Heroes Reborn

There isn’t a proper trailer for this show yet, but I’ve tentatively been in since this project was announced. Despite everything, I have a lot of love for the original show and with Jack Coleman back, it’s worth at least a couple episodes of my time. I also really like Zachary Levi and Robbie Kay and it’ll be nice to see them in another show.

Comedies

People Are TalkingTrailer

Comedy trailers are admittedly hard to judge but this one looks a little rough. Once everyone settles into their characters, it could get better, but everything feels so forced right now. I’m skeptical when the best material they could use for this trailer focuses on the idea that their hot babysitter is also a porn star and it makes me suspect this won’t be a show for me. I did appreciate the wives were unbothered and not at all jealous of having an attractive babysitter without the concerns that she’d try to steal their husbands away. I’m less impressed that the lack of jealousy was out of disbelief that their husbands would have any success with the babysitter rather than just trusting them, but I guess we can’t have it all in network comedy yet.

Currently Unscheduled New Shows

Dramas: Chicago Med, Game of Silence, Shades of Blue

Comedies: Coach, Crowded, Hot & Bothered, Superstore, You, Me and the End of the World

What are your thoughts on NBC’s renewals and cancellations? Are there any of the new shows that get your attention?

How The CW Found Its Groove

Since its creation in 2006 (and before as The WB and UPN), The CW has been in a league apart from the “Big 4” networks. It has struggled to get ratings that would be considered terrible on any other broadcast network and for many years has been dismissed as a network for teen girls. It’s the network that aired my two least favorite seasons of the Gilmore Girls and while I’ve enjoyed many of it’s (mostly failed) shows in the past, they’ve been firmly in the “guilty pleasure” box of television.

When The Carrie Diaries ended last year, I thought my viewing relationship with The CW ended with it and honestly, I was a little relieved. I often got sucked in by their new shows only to have them fall just short of what I wanted them to be and I thought it would free up more time to watch “better” shows (more on that in a coming post). I had seen and loved the trailer for The Flash but my original intention was to watch Arrow at some point before starting its spin-off.

Then fall of 2014 came around and absolutely none of my plans involving The CW happened as anticipated. I couldn’t resist the buzz surrounding The Flash and not only fell in love with that show but started s1 of Arrow as well. I checked out Jane the Virgin after some enthusiastic recommendations and once again, fell in love with it. In the beginning of March, I started The 100 after I could no longer resist the allure of any show described as “Battlestar Galactica, Jr.” and not only has it become my latest tv obsession, I got my boyfriend hooked as well. I haven’t had time to start iZombie yet but it’s on my list for the summer after more enthusiastic recommendations and a cast I already love.

In just one season, I went from having nothing to watch on The CW to it potentially becoming my most watched network on all of television (depending on FOX’s cancellations in a couple weeks). That same year brought the network its first Golden Globe and Peabody Award win thanks to the charms of Jane the Virgin and its star Gina Rodriguez. So what happened? What took this network from the land of teen drama to an award contender with a broadening demographic?

Personally, I think their biggest strength in the past couple year has been their willingness to take risks. In many cases, their small size works in their favor. They take chances because they can afford to. In order to make a splash at CBS or even NBC, you can’t afford to create shows that are only watched by slightly over a million people and only crack a 1.0 18-49 ratings share on the best days. This lets them try shows that would never have a chance at another broadcast network because there is a very real chance that they couldn’t deliver the quantity of audience required to survive.

Continue reading How The CW Found Its Groove

TV Thoughts: 3/1-3/7

I’ve had to skip the past few of these in favor of catching up on all the TV I’m currently behind on (which is still a lot but getting better!) but there were a few shows this week that I couldn’t resist talking about. I may have watched very little, but it was an extremely rewarding week between these two shows and The Americans, which I will talk about in the comments of Katie’s wonderful episode review.

Monday

The Fosters: I was 3 episodes behind on this show but read some spoilers that made it a priority for me to catch up and I’m glad I did. This show makes me feel deeply every week and for that, it’s one of my favorite shows on TV right now. This week had three moments that particularly grabbed my heart. First was the scene where Rita comes to help Kiara leave her pimp. Rita cares for the girls in her care so much and that doesn’t end when they move out of the Girls United home. She wants to provide that safe space for them to grow up and achieve their dreams no matter how far away they seem. She cares for girls who others would pass over because of their history or attitude and that’s just a remarkable thing for me. Rosie O’Donnell is doing such a good job with this character and both scenes with Kiara were full of so much love and compassion.

Second was Callie’s final scene with Stef, where she confesses that she wanted to live with Robert because she lied to Stef and Lena and was afraid they wouldn’t want her any more. Of her two moms, Stef is the one who has the most in common with Callie. Both are so scared to let people all the way into their lives. They are naturally less open and because of that, the scenes where Stef reassures Callie of her unconditional love for her are always beautiful because Stef is one of the few people Callie would actually believe.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 3/1-3/7

TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14

What a week of TV! This is the kind of week that is so incredibly satisfying as a fan of good TV. There were so many great episodes this week and so many tiny character moments that filled me with pure joy (and sometimes the best kind of heartbreak). What did you love about the past week in television?

Sunday

  • Looking: I can’t say that I’m disappointed to see Kevin go. Seeing Richie and Patrick talking and hanging out again reminded me that I like them together so much better, even if it’s just as friends. Patrick needs someone to call him out when he’s being an idiot, like when he’s having an affair with his already-taken boss and getting too emotionally invested in a future that wasn’t going to happen with Kevin. I’m glad it made him realize that he needed to stand up for himself and ask for what he needed out of the relationship, then leave when Kevin wasn’t capable of giving it to him. In other breakup news, I’m also proud of Dom for leaving Lynn. I liked Lynn a lot last season but he’s an awful boyfriend. Like Kevin, he wasn’t capable of giving Dom what he needed because he is still emotionally in a relationship with Brian. It’s understandable but unfair and Dom deserves better. I’m so happy that he has Doris who is so supportive and has his back 100% of the time. We all need a friend who will look into ways to Kickstarter our restaurant and help us make our dreams come true for no other reason than it is important to us. Finally, to round out the group, I cannot tell you how happy I am with the changes and growth in Augustin between s1 and s2. Eddie has been such a good influence on him and I am excited to see how he adapts to working at the shelter.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This wasn’t a brilliant or groundbreaking episode of this show by any means, but it was so much fun to watch. I loved the more action-oriented scenes as the team took over the training and took down all the other agents. It’s easy to forget that this is a show about cops and this was a nice way to bring their jobs into focus a little more while retaining all of the great character moments I love about the show. Amy’s failure to start the Nine-Nine chant (and her subsequent excitement when it worked) was adorable and so Amy. Terry’s description of the team as “boss ass penguins” may be my favorite Terry line in a while, and Rosa opening up and explaining why she needed Saturday off was perfect. Back at the precinct, I loved Captain Holt’s apology most of all. While I’m not sure that I necessarily agree that they should have ended up with the same personality classification, it’s nice when a leader can recognize that part of leading is encouraging and accepting the strengths of those who work for you. It takes a lot to admit your failings to an employee and it made me respect Captain Holt as a character even more.

Monday

  • Jane the Virgin: I fall a little more in love with this show every week. I am all-in on Jane and Rafael’s relationship (even though he is acting awfully shady at the moment) and thought their mutual concern for the health of their unborn child was so well done. I’m glad that Rafael went with his gut and planned the graduation celebration for Jane even if it was cheesy because it led to the best moment of the episode. It’s just become a fact of this show that any scene featuring the three generations of Villanueva women will be outstanding. Xo’s speech to Jane was beautiful all on it’s own but the shot of the three women sitting on Jane’s bed as she asks for the secret to being a good mother is one that will happily stay with me. No matter what is happening with Jane and the men in her life (Rogelio included), her relationship with her mother and grandmother is always stable and always a source of comfort, love, and acceptance.
  • Castle: Oh how I love the 3XK arc. It never fails to be wonderfully chilling and it brings out such good things in Nathan Fillion’s performance. Both Castle and Ryan carry so much guilt over Jerry Tyson and the murders he committed that both feel responsibility for and you could feel that guilt this week. When they found Tyson, I was not alone in thinking that maybe there was a chance they found someone who really had surgically altered their face to look like a serial killer and I loved that doubt. It wasn’t until that brilliant final interrogation scene that I felt sure they had caught Tyson only to have things go so terribly wrong when the precinct realized it was all a part of Tyson and Nieman’s plan to kidnap Beckett. That interrogation is some of the best work Nathan Fillion has done on this show. He found the story and my jaw dropped when he pulled out the pictures of Tyson’s mom and compared them to the recent victims. I have been anxiously awaiting part two of the episode and I’m so glad that tomorrow is Monday.
  • The Fosters: So many things happened in this episode, it’s almost overwhelming. The most-talked about this week was the Jude and Connor scene at the movies. However this unfolds, I am in no way prepared. I feel so incredibly protective of Jude and his happiness and I just want everything to work out for him. Regardless of what direction his relationship with Connor goes from here, it’s obvious that these two deeply care about each other. They are young and figuring out who they are and unfortunately, only one of them has the space to do so. If Connor decides he might like to move forward with a future relationship with Jude, his dad isn’t going to be supportive and it’ll just make this time that much more confusing for him. I trust this show to handle it all well but I guarantee it will make my emotions a mess. Just the small scene of them touching (and eventually hooking) pinkies tells me that there are so many good and heartbreaking things to come for them. It was full of innocence and excitement and uncertainty and everything that a first crush should be.
  • In other brief thoughts of the week, I love most of what they are doing with Mariana’s character. I love that she is enjoying STEM Club as well as her dance team. She’s one of the more unapologetically feminine characters on the show and it’s nice to see her continue to maintain that identity while excelling at a traditionally male-dominated field. I’m less excited about her wanting to go on tour with the band and would rather see her work through some of her abandonment issues, but I sometimes forget that she’s still a teenager and sometimes they don’t make the best choices. Along similar lines, Jesus could also stand to work through his own issues regarding his mother and how that’s affected him and I will look forward to seeing that happen so he will stop making such stupid decisions. Finally, Robert and Callie. I want these two to have an actual relationship that doesn’t just have Callie calling him when he’s in trouble. I think they have a lot they could offer each other and I want to see that develop. In order for that to happen though, Robert needs to realize that he can be Callie’s dad without being her guardian. As a parent, you have to think of what’s best for your child and I just don’t see how taking Callie away from the family she’s chosen for herself and her brother is going to help her, especially not at 16 when she may not have that many years left at home.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14