Tag Archives: battlestar galactica

What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

Another season of television has come to a close and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to new possibilities. To say that this season was trying would likely be an understatement.  While I found a few new shows to enjoy, many fell flat with me and even returning favorites tested my patience and love for them. Then of course, there was the spring doldrums, where each week seemed to bring a new show making inexplicable choices to kill (or not re-sign) vital characters who made a tremendous impact and a general state of misery that befell too many shows. Now that the season is largely behind us, it’s time to look forward and hope for a brighter season next fall.

Summers can be a great time to catch up on new shows that you missed or fell behind on or try out an older show that you hear great things about but missed on its first run. My last summer was spent largely with Grey’s Anatomy and LOST but I was also able to try out shows like You’re the Worst, which quickly became a favorite and a highlight of the fall season. This summer, I’m continuing on my multi-year journey with The X-Files, finishing up Avatar the Last Airbender, watching Freaks and Geeks for the first time, starting Happy Endings, hopefully watching Grace and Frankie, and likely becoming obsessed with Shadowhunters, though I’m sure I’ll find time to squeeze a few more things in there. In case you’re looking for some ideas for your own summer watching, I’ve listed a few shows below that I think would be a fantastic way to spend this hiatus.

Sense8 To understand this show is to understand me and that has nothing to do with these characters (who I love dearly) or the plot (which is fine) but everything to do with its central theme of connection and the beauty that results from it. My love for this show is all about the way it makes me feel. I love shows that understand the value in simple moments between two people, allowing them to share themselves with each other, and this show loves those moments. Its strongest moments are often when two sensates are doing nothing more than talking to each other and lending each other emotional support. The fun action sequences and the excellent romances make it even better but its core principles are what move me and what has made it stay with me.

The Americans This show is in its 4th season and it just keeps getting better, which most TV fans know is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Rather than being a fast-paced spy drama, this show is about a family struggling for connection and facing the consequences of their actions. That family just happens to be headed by two Russian spies. It’s a look at identity and loyalty to one’s country and family and how those things can change over time. It is incredibly well-made television that is comfortable in quiet moments and gives them the proper space to truly resonate. It can be nearly unbearably tense at times but only after it’s asked you to care about these people on an emotional level. It’s dangerous being a spy and external threats will always be a part of the show but the most compelling work is done on a smaller more personal level. The emphasis on the people behind the actions and the talent at all levels of this production make it one of the best shows on television at the moment.

Gilmore Girls With the revival nearly wrapped, what better time could there be to travel to Stars Hollow and fall in love with this special show? The lighter tone of the show is perfect for lazy summer days and the fast-paced, witty dialogue will leave you quoting the show long after it ends. No matter with Gilmore girl most resonates with you, there is inspiration to be gained and laughter and tears to be had. For all of the disagreements about boyfriends on the show, the heart of the show exists in Lorelai and Rory’s relationship with each other and it is something that should be cherished all these years later. If you’re not already a fan of this show, check it out and see what makes it special to so many.

Jane the Virgin I am continuously amazed at this show. It juggles so many different tones and stories and while it doesn’t handle them all equally well, it comes together to form an incredible whole. No matter what it is trying to do, it has three reliable strengths to fall back on. The first is Gina Rodriguez’s talent and love for this role. She puts everything she can into whatever this show throws at her and her natural warmth and light shine through it all. The second is the relationship between the Villanueva women. This will always be the best love story on the show. The dynamic between these ladies is always feels beautiful and real. This is the grounding point in the show, amidst all the telenovela styling and crime boss plots.  Finally, it’s the coherency that the Narrator brings to the show. It adds a lightness and awareness to everything the show is doing and gives it that fantastical edge that sets it apart from other shows. This is such a special show and there is truly nothing else on television like it.

Continue reading What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

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Just One Episode: A Different Type of Recommendation

I am a big advocate of taking show recommendations from friends, largely because they are recommendations made out of love. But sometimes the shows they recommend are long and daunting. Or they start out terribly and you wonder why your friend likes them so much. Sometimes the beginning just isn’t the best place to start because the show basically reinvents itself at this point. But if you’re going to judge a show by one episode, it would be better if it was a pretty great episode. Not necessarily the best in the series, but one that exemplifies the best the show has to offer. So that’s what I’ve compiled for a selection of shows I love. If you’re interested, give them a shot. Then head to the comments to tell me what you think and recommend a show based on an episode for me to try. If you’re particularly sensitive to spoilers before you watch an episode, then skip my explanations and just make note of the episodes.

Battlestar Galactica – 33 (1×01)

I love the miniseries but honestly, what amounts to a 3 hour movie to kick off a series can be a hard sell for someone looking to start the show. The first twenty seconds of this video are all you really need to know going into the first official episode.

“33” is a rare example of a fantastic (pseudo) pilot. The entire episode is viscerally tense. The writing and acting and great but Bear McCreary’s incredible talent as a composer and the makeup artist’s work to make the entire cast look 100% exhausted made this an episode that makes you tired in the best possible way as a viewer. It transports you into the show for 45 minutes.

It gives you the best of what this show has to offer. It is upfront about the fact that this show will push its characters into uncomfortable places. It asks “how far it is acceptable to go when the fate of the human race is on the line?”. But it is not all bleak. Hope is not lost. We see compassion and affection in moments like Colonel Tigh prolonging his watch in order to give Captain Adama a chance to rest. We feel the history between Kara and Lee as he tries to be in charge and they dissolve into sleep-deprived giggles. We watch the possibility of a future flash across Roslin’s face as she is able to add a number to her count of humanity. It is a brilliant episode and one I think everyone should watch, regardless of their interest in continuing with the show (though I think you should do that too and come talk to me about it).

The 100 – Day Trip (1×08)

I haven’t made it a secret that I love this show but really don’t like the pilot. The tone is off and the music cue when the delinquents land feels all kinds of wrong to me. It finds it’s footing relatively quickly in my opinion and while they are good episodes before this one, “Day Trip” is a big episode in the series. It redefines key characters and relationships as well as sets things in motion for the future.

The most significant moment is the emergence of Bellamy and Clarke as true co-leaders of the remaining kids. Full disclosure, I do ship them and hope to see them together romantically at some point in the future, but romance aside this is one of the core relationships of the show. It’s amusing to watch them bicker and develop a tentative working relationship in earlier episodes but the scene at the tree reveals that they are scared and don’t know what they are doing on their own but they might be able to lead together. They have messed up and there is so much pressure but there is comfort in not being alone. And to me, that is what this show is about at its core, at least in the first two seasons. It is about finding connection and the hope that comes from believing in other people and how that is what makes the toughest situations survivable.

This episode also manages to be slightly lighter in tone than some of the other episodes, despite a lot of darkness and murderous plots, and it is largely due to Monty Green. Monty is already a lovable character but he is adorable when he is high on hallucinogenic nuts. With such a dark show, you need someone to provide some lightness. While it isn’t always as a comedic relief (though in this episode it is), Monty is here to provide some balance. He is a sweet and kind and good individual and the series wouldn’t be the same without him.

Continue reading Just One Episode: A Different Type of Recommendation

Badass Women and the Shows that Celebrate Them

I finally got a chance to watch the Badass Women panel from the weekend and like many others, I absolutely loved it. The women on the panel are all fabulous, both on screen and off. I love that a panel like that exists because it means that more people are taking an interest in the way women are portrayed on TV and in the movies. I love that sexism and racism in the entertainment industry can be discussed in two very popular panels during Comic Con. What I loved most of all is that it celebrates so many different ways to be strong. Sansa Stark is very different from Sarah Walker and Donna Meagle but all three are equally badass. I was so inspired after finishing the panel that I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate shows that focus on all types of female strength. Many of these I have already discussed this month (I may have a slightly obvious preference in my TV) and I would love to hear your thoughts on strong female characters and the shows that portray them.

Sex and the City This show is fantastic about showcasing different types of women and the relationships between them. The show never demonized any of the women for their beliefs or actions or tried to elevate one above the rest. Charlotte wasn’t the uptight prude that everyone hated, Samantha wasn’t the slut that everyone secretly talked about behind her back, Miranda wasn’t the cynical, career-driven bitch, and Carrie wasn’t the slightly naive one who made bad choices. They were all fully formed women and appreciated the differences in each other and that made it truly special. 

Gilmore Girls This is my go-to show for their depiction of a strong women whose strength had nothing to do with physical abilities and everything to do with dedication and drive. Lorelai was emotional, occasionally irrational, independent and determined. She got to be sensitive and competent and while that might not seem like as big of a deal now, it was a big deal in 2000 to my teenage self and it’s still a portrayal I deeply love. The show also featured a myriad of other fantastic women, from Miss Patty to Emily Gilmore, who all had different approaches to life but who each had something we could learn from them. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse I’m just going to lump all of Joss’s shows together because he is known for the strength of his female characters. Unlike Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City, many of the characters on his shows are also physically strong. Buffy is a vampire slayer and therefore good in a fight. Faith, Zoe, and Echo are also characters who aren’t to be messed with because they are capable of kicking your ass in a fight. But there are also characters like Willow, Kaylee and Fred, whose strength comes from other areas. What is most remarkable is that all of the characters, regardless of their variety of strength, aren’t only defined by it. Buffy is still a regular teenage girl. She has crushes, she makes bad romantic choices, and she just wants to go to college with her best friend. Kaylee is a sweetheart and emotionally vulnerable but is also a highly gifted mechanic. They are all well-rounded and full characters, not stereotypes that can easily be placed into a box. 

Battlestar Galactica I love that this show can contain all of the awesomeness that is Kara Thrace, Laura Roslin, and Six. All equally strong yet all diverse. Kara’s approach to her femininity isn’t the same as Six’s approach. Roslin’s strength of conviction and leadership skills aren’t the same as Kara’s physical abilities or her confidence. Then there are the rest of the women who fall somewhere in between these divergent characters to occupy a space that is all their own. 

Once Upon a Time Like Jennifer Morrison said, this show is a great one for female characters. All are allowed their own identity and a space to call their own. They don’t need to be alike and they don’t all need to occupy traditionally female narratives at all times while not needing to occupy a more masculine narrative in order to be strong. There is strength in their vulnerability. There is strength in Snow’s continued hope. There is strength in the protectiveness that come’s from Red’s wolf side. There is strength in Regina’s growth as she opens herself up to others. There is strength in the forgiveness that has had to come as characters have hurt each other, whether intentional or not.

I want diverse examples of women on TV. I want young girls to be able to watch a show full of female characters and be able to find a character or even a combination of characters who have traits they can identify with. I want all women to feel like there isn’t a wrong way to be a strong woman. Physical strength isn’t a necessity, but it’s ok if you do have that. Women don’t have to express their emotional strength by being kind and nurturing, but it’s ok if that’s how you choose to be. We don’t have to be one extreme of the gender role spectrum, we’re allowed to occupy multiple roles at different times and even at the same time. Our identity is what we make it and our strength comes from being honest about who we are and being brave enough to share that with the world. That’s what I want when I say I want strong female characters on TV and that’s what was represented by this fantastic panel.

What shows do you love for their portrayal of female characters? 

Nothing But the Rain: The William Adama and Kara Thrace Story

I love plots of TV shows and I love individual characters, but there is something special about the various relationships between characters depicted on a show. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s our connections with others that give our lives meaning and the same is true on TV shows. The relationships our characters find themselves in broaden our understandings of each character as we can see them in relation to others. Whether the relationship is a friendship, a romantic relationship, familial or even antagonistic, they provide meaning and direction to the lives of individual characters.

I don’t talk nearly enough about Battlestar Galactica (which will probably be corrected at some point, if not later this month) but it is a show full of compelling and occasionally heartbreaking relationships. I can tell you the exact moment in the 4th episode when I fell in love with the show and it all had to do with the relationship between Bill Adama and Kara “Starbuck” Thrace.

From their first interaction on the show, it was clear that their relationship was different than the one Adama shared with the rest of his crew. They have a greeting that is entirely their own that is used a few times throughout the series. We find out later that Kara is the daughter that Adama nearly had (twice). She was engaged to his son and played a role in his accidental death by passing him during a flight exam when he should have failed.

Continue reading Nothing But the Rain: The William Adama and Kara Thrace Story

My Most Remembered Relationship Moments on Television

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I wanted to celebrate the day here at TVexamined by sharing a few of my most memorable love or relationship related moments from television. Some of these moments represent new beginnings in relationships, some show the foundation of what will eventually become a relationship, and some are wistful and represent those relationships we can’t have. Whatever it represents, these are the moments that stuck with me long after the episode was over.

Dr. Cox’s views on love (Scrubs) This really doesn’t fit into any of the above mentioned categories, but it’s always been a quote that has stuck with me.

Topanga is in love with Cory Matthews (Boy Meets World) I am nearly certain that this was the first television quote I ever memorized and it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

Continue reading My Most Remembered Relationship Moments on Television

These Are Few Of My Favorite Shows (part 1)

The more new television shows I watch, the more I think about what makes me really love a show. With every new show I watch, I also want to turn everyone around me into a fan, because I really enjoy sharing the shows I love with the people I love. This list isn’t quite in order, but here is a look at the things that make me love a TV show and reasons that you should watch them too. 

Continue reading These Are Few Of My Favorite Shows (part 1)