Tag Archives: TV

Let’s be Less Rotten: Thoughts on Spoilers


Author’s Note: In order to write this post I had to include spoilers, which is silly but true (and kind of why I wrote it). I redacted all spoilers. I’ve linked each redaction to something that tells you what plot point I’m referring to. Click at your own risk. The links are, by definition, SPOILERS

I’ve been thinking about spoilers a lot, recently.They’re everywhere. For people writing about entertainment (especially TV these days) it’s rough.Writers try to avoid spoiling people, but sometimes they fail. They add capitalized and bolded SPOILER ALERTS to articles and posts. They try to keep them out of the comments. I’ve seen recaps use a blackout system. I myself have recently discovered the art of [REDACTION].

But sometimes, I think, our collective fear of spoilers can be as harmful as the spoilers themselves. I think we could, perhaps, relax a little. If we change the way we approach spoilers, I think we all might feel a little better.

Spoilers suck and they are everywhere

Okay let’s start by agreeing that spoilers are the worst. They genuinely can take the fun out of entertainment. It might seem trivial, but for certain, some things should stay hidden. There is a certain joy (sometimes followed by unendurable sadness and/or anger) in being surprised by something. Weren’t you genuinely bowled over when (REDACTED) happened in Game of Thrones? Wasn’t it so perfect when they revealed [REDACTED] on Battlestar Galactica? Even for a sitcom like How I Met Your Mother, wasn’t [REDACTED] just crazy? Wouldn’t the experience of watching these shows be cheapened by knowing THE-BIG-THING-THAT-HAPPENED? Yeah it would.

But spoilers are just literally all over the place. I have a friend who, in one night, spoiled [REDACTED] from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and [REDACTED] from  A Song of Ice and Fire  (and consequently, Game of Thrones) for a group. It was an accident. But people still got spoiled. I’m guilty of this too. I tend to just irrationally believe that everyone has watched and read everything I have and only that. What was worse than [REDACTED] in Game of Thrones? [REDACTED] in Angel, or [REDACTED] in The Sopranos or worse still [REDACTED] in Buffy! I tend to accidentally lay land mines in conversations for my friends who don’t watch quite as much TV as I do (read: all my friends).

The internet is way, way worse. Unless you’re planning on avoiding social media and news outlets all together, you best watch your shows live. I mean, the reaction to episode 9 of this season’s Game of Thrones was so prevalent that before we were done reacting to the episode we started reacting to each other’s spoilers. And it’s not just social media. Don’t forget how an actor spoiled the world for Downton Abbey by [REDACTED].

So yeah, spoilers are awful and can be hard to avoid. I’m totally with you on that. But there are ways to make them suck less.

Rosebud is a sled, not a spoiler

I was spoiled for [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] in Lost by virtue of having been alive while it was on the air, but not watching it until about a year ago. It sucked but it was unavoidable.

A problem I find in spoiler culture is that some moments from TV and film and books have become part of our larger culture, but they’re still taboo to talk about. I want to list things Harry PotterThe Sixth Sense, Twin Peaks and more right now, but I don’t want to spoil any of you. But at the same time, it’s been years.

So there’s got to be a statute of limitations on spoilers.

It can’t just be a number, because the significance of these plot points isn’t just a product of the date they became public. It’s cultural, like I said. Some shows’ plots are more well-known than others. And it’s different for tv than for say, movies or books, because TV by nature tends to have more spoiler opportunities. I feel like, at this point The Sixth Sense should be fair game. It premiered in 1999. But that same year had bits of the third and fourth seasons of Buffy, which are definitely not fair game.

So maybe we can’t make a hard and fast rule, but we can be more understanding. It’ll have to be based on a “feeling” but that’s all we’ve got. Examples: I won’t spoil the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movies, but The Wrath of Khan is on the table. I’ll stay away from 24 but not Friends. Psycho can be discussed but Bates Motel cannot. Are you with me? I hope so.

Regardless, I think we can all agree that Shakespeare’s statute has expired.

If spoilers are bad, surprises have to be good

We all spend a lot of time trying to avoid spoilers and/or griping about how we’ve been spoiled. But then as soon as we see great plots, we start immediately noting how “we knew it all along.”

The best example of this that I can think of occurred during season six of the new Doctor Who. At the midseason finale, we finally discovered [REDACTED]. I personally thought it was a big deal. A pretty huge deal. If I recall correctly I had to get up off my bed where I was watching it and run around just to get my adrenaline out. 

But some decided to rain on my parade. “It was so obvious,” they’d say, or “I can’t believe you didn’t see that coming,” as if I am quite the idiot for being shocked by something that was designed to shock me. For the record this twist isn’t foreshadowed very much in the show. There are subtle hints. When you rewatch you’ll think to yourself, “oh, that’s what that was about.” But I really doubt very many people “totally knew that was going to happen.”

People talk about a twist or surprise or reveal afterwards with such negativity. And yeah, sometimes they are super disappointing, like [REDACTED], another instance from Doctor Who. But sometimes moments are so good and so genuinely surprising, they remind us why we hate spoilers in the first place. Trying to make yourself seem clever afterwards by claiming to have “called it” cheapens the surprise.

Follow the signs

I’m behind on Mad Men right now. And as a result, I’ve been steering clear of twitter Sundays at 9pm. I’ve been careful when looking on entertainment news sites. I scroll past anything I see with “Mad Men” or “Draper” in the headline. I’m keeping myself spoiler-free.

You can too! Yeah I get it, sometimes you just want to go on facebook without being accidentally spoiled. But be smart. If you’re a fan who’s missing an episode for some reason or who regularly watches the next day, stay off  dangerous sites until you’ve seen the episode. If you live on the West Coast wait to go on twitter until the episode airs for you. Talk about it with people who live there too. Don’t yell at the East coasters who tweeted to each other three hours ago. Be smart about it, and you won’t need to rage-tweet until you actually watch the episode and find out who died. Then you rage tweet at the show-runner.

It’s all about the journey

Above all we need to remember that spoilers are a fact of life in the internet age, and they’re not going away anytime soon. I’ve been spoiled for lots of shows. Lost, like I mentioned before but also, BuffyAngelMad MenThe SopranosPsychThe West Wing, How I Met Your Mother and probably a bunch more I can’t remember specifically. But I still love all of those shows. Yeah I knew that someone was going to die or a couple was going to get together or an identity was going to be revealed or any number of other plot points, but I still was enthralled watching all these things happen. I still got emotional and involved.

Having read A Song of Ice and Fire is arguably one giant Game of Thrones spoiler. But I still watch the show. Because knowing how it ends doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the ride on the way there.

So let’s be smart about spoilers. And then we can get back to what’s really important: watching way too much TV.

The Best 24 Hours of TV (Part 1)


While re-watching of Doctor Who recently (inspired by my own post about Matt Smith’s 11 best eps) I started thinking about my favorite hours of television, period. What would I watch if I spent one day just binging on the best possible TV I could find? That’s the beauty of having untold hours of TV at your disposal: you make it what you want it to be.

It’s really hard to pick. I can tell you. Ask me what the best episode of any particular show is, and I’d have two or three I could tell you right away. For some there’s a single clear winner. But pitting episodes of different series against each other is hard. So much relies on context and tone. A lot of your feelings toward any particular episode are colored by your feelings towards the show or season as a whole. Plus your favorites aren’t always the best. Really, really good episodes of television can be hard to watch (lets all think about last week’s Game of Thrones now. Crying? Good).

So taking that all into account, I’ve compiled a list of the best twenty-four episodes (read: one whole day or the sunlight parts of one whole weekend) of television that I have come across. Here are the first twelve, ranked because, why not. It does include multiple episodes of some shows, because this isn’t about episodes representative of the series, but rather stand alone hours. This excludes half-hour shows, for complexity’s sake. And though I love classic TV and there are some great episodes from way back (see Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” or The Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last”), I’m sticking to the past twenty years or so.

This also, pretty obviously, only includes shows I’ve watched, and I haven’t watched everything. For example, The Wire is conspicuously absent. (I’m going to watch it soon I promise!) I do, occasionally, have to do something else besides watch TV.

Some things I noticed when compiling this list are that series tend to show greatness when they move away from their formula, say, benching the main character or flashing forward or back. Series/season finales and premiers also tend to shine, but there are the occasional diamonds in the rough of a regular season.

Spoilers for the shows listed, so if you haven’t seen that show up to that season, skip down.

24. “Epitaph 1” Dollhouse Season 1 Episode 13

Fair warning, there’s going to be a lot of Joss Whedon on this list, but there’s a damn good reason: he makes really great TV. Although Dollhouse wasn’t always the most loved of his shows (or really, the most understood) it definitely had some standout episodes, most notably the season 1 ender that Fox didn’t air. It is an incredibly compelling hour that taps into our collective fear of dystopia and of fast-advancing technology. The complex and confusing concept of the entire show is seen as going somewhere beyond the scenario-of-the-week. Not a very good somewhere, but still. And suddenly we all have to ask ourselves what makes identity, what makes life? Consciousness? Body? In the future, none of that may matter.

23. “Into You Like a Train” Grey’s Anatomy, Season 2 Episode 6

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve watched ABC’s soapy doctor drama, mostly when the odd medical situations and irrational character decisions became a weekly occurrence  the show became too much to believe. But I was really captivated by the series at the beginning; especially by this season 2 episode where a train collision becomes a metaphor for the way the characters’ lives are spinning out of control. And because the show was able to make me care so much about these guest stars tangential to the real action, it brought tears. It was a hard-hitting emotional moment, and it was genuine. The series went downhill when these started being fake.

22. “Pilot” Glee, Season 1 Episode 1

Like Grey’s, I haven’t watched Glee in awhile (I gave up midway through season 2). It was one of the sadder times I ever gave up on a series, mostly because Glee had so much potential. The first few episodes, and namely, the pilot, were something new and different, a nuanced look at high school, marriage, and social norms. Back when “Don’t Stop Believing” wasn’t a cliché the kids of McKinley High rocked it to great dramatic effect. I didn’t want to stop believing in the show. But unfortunately, after they came back from that season 1 hiatus, I did.

21. “Company Man” Heroes, Season 1 Episode 17

Heroes may have started its slow decline in season 2 but midway through season 1 the show was at its peak, especially with this extremely personal episode. Moving away from the location hopping it was prone to, the episode focused on Claire, her father, and how they got where they are. Why do we do the things we do? Because of our pasts. Questions are answered, new ones are raised, and fans were left wanting more. Unfortunately, they never got another episode like this.

20. “Hush” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4 Episode 10

Joss Whedon likes to circumvent expectations. When most of the praise Buffy the Vampire Slayer was getting revolved around his fast-paced and witty dialogue, he turned the tables by writing an episode that was three-quarters a silent film. Only on Buffy can you do a special episode like this, where it’s already supernatural so anything goes. Here the terrifying Gentlemen (easily Buffy’s scariest monsters) come to Sunnydale and steal all the voices so no one can scream. But the episode is really about communication, be it Xander’s inability to tell to Anya how much he cares about her, Buffy and Riley’s inability to tell each other how they feel, or newcomer Tara’s inability to speak in front of people at all. Of course, when the characters stop speaking they start communicating. And also do some very funny hand gestures.

19. “What Kind of Day has it Been?” The West Wing, Season 1 Episode 22

Aaron Sorkin really likes to structure his episodes back-to-front, showing a series of scenes we don’t understand at the beginning and then filling in the blanks with the rest of the hour. This is perhaps best executed in the season 1 finale, which seems like an ordinary day at the office, and escalates to one heck of a cliffhanger (gunshots, sirens, a call over the radio: “who’s been hit?”). Who said there can’t be action in a workplace drama? Certainly not Sorkin, who saw the success of the assassination storyline and structured the three other seasons he stayed on the show with cliffhanger endings.

18. “Pilot” Twin Peaks, Season 1 Episode 1

David Lynch’s crime thriller ventured from the melodramatic to the downright absurd, chronicling an eccentric FBI agent in his investigation into the murder of a popular high school girl. TV owes a lot to the drama, the anti-procedural that drew out a single mystery over a season and a half. There was a creative decline in season 2, but when it premiered, the pilot of Twin Peaks was unlike anything else. Nothing in this small Pacific Northwest town was what it seemed, and nothing about the show was what it seemed either.

17. “Baelor” Game of Thrones, Season 1 Episode 9

This was the moment that Game of Thrones changed something about TV. Granted, George RR Martin killed Ned Stark off back in the 90s in the first installment of his A Song of Ice and Fire book series. But even though fans can go check Wikipedia summaries of the books, they were still shocked beyond belief that a show would kill off its main character, and supposed hero, during its first season. The episode is impeccably shot, most notably the way we see Ned’s death through his daughter Arya’s eyes. It was shocking, it was sad, and mostly, it changed the rules of the game. Of course that was nothing compared to this year’s Red Wedding, but you could not have one without the other.

16. “Out of Gas” Firefly, Season 1 Episode 8

This flashback-heavy episode is made all the more important by the fact that Fox never aired the original pilot for the series, which did a much better job establishing life on Serenity than “The Train Job” did. Here, while the life support on the trusty ship is failing, we get moments from each character, an introduction we’ve never seen before, doorway into this unlikely family. This episode is everything that made Firefly great, the characters and Serenity. It was never about outer space, just the people flying through it together.

15. “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” Mad Men, Season 3 Episode 13

The season 3 finale of Mad Men has the rare quality of being an undeniable bit of fan-service (SCDP is born! Joan comes back! Don respects Peggy for a hot second!) but also a damn good hour of television. Everything changes for Don at once here, as he divorces both his wife and the old company. It also serves to showcase what really matters to this man, namely, his own notoriety and power. He refuses to be swallowed up by the McCann and Erickson machine and so he starts a new company where he gets to be in control. And without that pesky suburban life of his, he has more time to focus on maintaining his power at the new firm.

14. “Once More With Feeling” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6 Episode 7

TV musicals are hard. There have been some really great one-off musical episodes over the years, but none of them can compare to “Once More With Feeling.” Joss Whedon took time off from running the show to write and compose all of the songs, with great results. It’s another instance show’s supernatural setting allows for a “special” episode (read: a demon comes to town who uses magic to turn life into a musical). But it’s not a fluffy episode, there’s a lot going on. Tara discovers Willow has been playing with her mind, Giles decides to go back to the UK, Anya and Xander realize how they might not really want to get married, and Buffy reveals that the gang didn’t bring her back from some hell dimension, but rather violently pulled her out of heaven. Oh and Buffy and Spike kiss for the first time. All while singing and dancing.

13. “Cat’s in the Bag” Breaking Bad, Season 1 Episode 2

Only in its second episode, Breaking Bad lays all its cards on the tables, and the audience realizes what it’s getting into. On Walter White’s journey there is very little time to think about morality and to decide what side you’re on. He kills someone right away. It’s pretty clear where he’s going. There’s a lot of gruesomeness to the episode, whether in the images of dissolving flesh or in the way Walter and Krazy 8 try to manipulate each other. It’s just a shade of things to come.

So what do you think? Am I horribly wrong? Am I awesomely right? What do you think are the best hours of TV? Let me know! And look out for the top 12, coming soon.

The Best Twitter Reactions to Last Night’s ‘Game of Thrones’

Walder Frey laughs at your pain.

Lots of spoilers and lots of cursing in regards to last night’s Game of Thrones episode “The Rains of Castamere.”

Book fans have been anticipating/dreading it, new television watchers were blown over by it, and most people are upset by it. Many of these took to twitter to express their sadness/rage/hopeless depression/solidarity/inappropriate humor. The brilliant twitter @RedWeddingTears has already been compiling some of the more profanity-riddled tweets. Here I present to you, some of the best reactions to The Red Wedding, in categories. (Apologies for the embedding issues)

Basic Anger

Medium Anger

(Editors Note: The Red Wedding has been known to cause basic spelling mistakes)



Intellectual Musings 


Life Realizations  

A Reminder that it’s Not Over Yet 

And vindication for another character-killer

Mad Men Recap: To Lose and to Want

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3: “To Have and to Hold”

Source: https://i0.wp.com/www.seat42f.com/wp-content/gallery/madmens6e4/mad-men-season-6-episode-4-to-have-and-to-hold-1.jpgFirst, apologies for the lack of recap last week. Monday was a rough day for everyone, and I couldn’t get a recap up in time. But it’s not a big loss. Suffice to say I was not a fan of the episode. But this week the show returned to form and it did it beautifully. Cue sigh of relief. And now on to the recap.

It took four hours but we finally got a real Joan storyline and the biggest single fallout from season 6: Joan’s big secret and her big promotion. In an office like SCDP there was no way that Joan’s prostitution was going to be kept quiet. It’s unfortunate for everyone (the characters, the audience, humanity) that Harry Crane is the first one to say it out loud. There are few things on this show (and indeed, life) worse than a Harry Crane temper tantrum. And  his brand new glasses and sideburns only make him easier to hate. There was some truth in what he was saying about being under-appreciated, but the people who ask for appreciation never get it. He’s never fit in, neither at Sterling Cooper nor at SCDP. He’s talented and they need him, but nobody likes him. He has a great facade and no substance. I predict he won’t be at SCDP much longer. It’s interesting to think that of the founding members of SCDP, (Don, Bert, Roger, Pete, Peggy, Joan, Harry and Lane), five are partners, one quit, one died, and one is Harry.

Joan is feeling the fallout of her situation on a personal level too. Her friend Kate is in town, another career woman, in this instance, from Mary Kay, and is pressuring Joan to act like the woman she was in season 1 or 2, when she still lived with a roommate and had one night stands just because she felt like it. The scene at the soda shop with phones at the tables (was this really a thing? why? I will investigate) looked and felt wrong. Joan didn’t belong there. She belonged even less in the cab and at the club. She really just seemed so old. So mature. An executive, like Kate said. The way she convinced herself to kiss the man was a little hard to watch. Christina Hendricks did some of her best work in this episode. The firing the secretary storyline is one we’ve encountered with Joan a few times before, and I was pleased that this time it led to forward motion for Harry and for Dawn.

Speaking of Dawn, she exists! At last Mad Men has an African American character with her own storylines completely devoid of other regulars. I’m so intrigued to know more about Dawn. The scenes she was in tonight were all strategic and revealing. Letting herself be taken advantage of at work and the fallout alongside the two scenes in the diner showed us that she’s a pushover and that she’s honest. And that she, like Peggy, is getting something different out of that office than the search for a man.

Poor Megan Calvet Draper found her man and her dream career but can’t have both. I’d think she’d have a lot to say in this whole “can women have it all” debate. As her soap opera role gets bigger and bigger (without any evidence as to why she got it, we have to assume it’s because Don gave her that commercial) they’re giving her a sex scene. Her biggest worry is about Don, who she still believes to be monogamous and in love with her. As the season unravels it seems that neither is true anymore.

Megan’s costar suggests a dinner with her husband, the writer, and Megan and Don, to make the news go down better. The result was one of the funniest scenes ever on Mad Men. At first I thought he was coming on to just Don and then I realized the, ah, implication of the dinner. Did you ever think Don would seem like a prude? Of course he’s not, but he wants his wife to be. I almost felt that the licentious couple only existed so that Don could tell Megan to go home with them after he freaks out that she kissed another man. Does he think Sylvia Rosen is a bad person for cheating on her husband? Maybe, maybe not. But he definitely thinks Megan is.

And of course, there’s the Heinz debacle. This one is Don’s fault. After proclaiming his loyalty last week to baked beans when Ken had the opportunity for ketchup, he goes ahead and meets them anyway, with Pete (Ken is so much better at his job, Don!) and then blows the presentation. Hey, maybe smoking marijuana while you work isn’t the best idea? I thought it was pretty funny that Don’s ad focused on food, like he and Stan had the munchies while working on it. But it was an example that Don’s losing his touch. His go-to pitch (nostalgia, mystery) isn’t what’s going to cut it for some of these bigger brands. Peggy’s on the other hand, was clear cut, bold, and what the client wanted. She and Ted won the bake off while Don and Stan just got baked.

There’s all sorts of symbolism surrounding Don’s turning around of Sylvia’s cross necklace at the end, tied into this week’s episode title “To Have and To Hold.” Marriage isn’t very sacred on Mad Men, although everyone pretends it is. I tend to think the title was less about matrimony (although it was all over the ep, from the open marriage to Dawn’s friend’s pending nuptials) and more about what everyone is losing. Don lost Heinz. Megan lost Don. Joan lost her old self. We’ll see what they gain instead.

Lost in a Fairytale: Once Upon a Time and the Flashback Trend on TV

It was a pretty surprising moment for the show. Not as shocking as a death or pregnancy or any of the many events that usually make up May sweeps. But still, it was very surprising when in the second season premier of Once Upon a Time, a show that had become rather formulaic by the end of its first season, actually changed from something very procedural into a more serialized narrative. And it was in that moment that it became clear that the show could probably survive into more seasons to come.

The show, built on the conceit that fairytale characters are real and that a curse has brought them into our world, relied on a flashback formula during its first season to help explain that often confusing concept. The fact that the local schoolteacher is Snow White, the mayor is the evil queen and a pawnbroker is Rumplestiltskin is much more easily explained by showing the same actors in gowns and crowns, fighting off monsters and magic. And as the show veered from the accepted versions of fairytales that everyone knows, the flashbacks helped to create a world that was unique to the show, and that had its own rules. In essence, Once Upon a Time spent half of its first season on some very glitzy exposition.

But when the curse was broken at the end of season one and suddenly everyone remembers who they all really are, the time for explaining how and why was over. The time for the past was over, as the future was so uncertain for the characters. But how to change something that had worked for a whole year?

The premier did indeed flash between the fairy tale world and the real one, only not in a way that the show had ever done before. In fairyland we see Sleeping Beauty, a brand new character, awakened by her handsome prince who is accompanied by Mulan. They encounter a hooded phantom who marks his victims with a metal disk and then sucks out their souls. Aurora’s prince is marked and dies.

It all seems a little irrelevant until the phantom appears back in the real world. Although it still seemed a little unnecessary. Introducing three new characters just to explain what the scary hooded monster did? He was scary and hooded and so logic says he probably sucked out souls. But when in the real world they get rid of the phantom by banishing him back to fairyland, and the two female leads with him, they land right next to Aurora and Mulan. It wasn’t a flashback; it was a peek into the not-so-distant future. The show had introduced three new characters to move the plot forward, not back. And suddenly a whole world of possibilities emerges.

The flashback formula was made most popular by Lost, and when you think back to the first season of that show, you can understand why it was so good. It made a high concept, serialized show more procedural, and easier to watch and understand. It kept the show from having the entire series on a beach. The audience could see how the plane crash had changed the characters. It was a great way to bring those characters together.

But in that show, and others, the brilliance of the flashbacks just didn’t last as characters joined cults, got married randomly, and got strange tattoos in Thailand. And when the flashbacks started to falter the show started flashing forward and eventually “sideways” into the increasingly absurd. These scenes weren’t telling the audience anything about the characters or the plot of the present. They were just there to be there, because that is what the show had always done.

But now Once Upon a Time is not cursed to the same fate as Lost. It doesn’t have to flashback endlessly to fairytale characters who don’t last more than one episode, or create increasingly absurd back stories for the characters. And they can continue to flashback, occasionally. It never hurts to know more about the characters, even if we think we already know everything about Snow White. But inevitably the story matters more than the procedure.

Of course the showis still struggling with the transition. A few episodes in this season have gotten a little heady, sporting three separate plots in a short forty-three minute episode: the real world, the current fairyland, and a flashback. But as the stories converge over the season and the stakes are raised, the show ultimately has dropped the flashbacks in episodes where they weren’t needed. It has chosen instead to focus on the here and now, where all of the action is happening. This is a lesson Lost never learned.


The Nanny Diaries

How I Met Your Mother Season 8 Episode 3 “Nannies” Recap and Review
Oh Nanny! Last night’s episode, in true HIMYM spirit was all about transitioning without really changing at all. Lily and Marshall are dealing with the new baby and their old lifestyle, Barney’s dealing with being single again after having decided to settle down, and Ted and Robin are dealing with relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. Ready, break!

Let’s start with Barney. Poor Barney. Seven years later, even though he has gotten over his incredible fear of commitment and took the plunge and proposed to Quinn (read, now that he and Quinn have broken up every single character has been in an engagement that fell apart), he doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions. He couldn’t do it when Robin and he split, he couldn’t do it when he met his father, and he can’t do it now. Enter “Bangtoberfest” and a t-shirt gun (yeah I want one of those), and Barney’s quest to pick up women in bigger and better ways, not being satisfied with the old reliables like dressing up as a policeman and telling girls he can “get them off.”

Meanwhile, Lily’s dad has shown up again, after he blew up the house (it’s unclear if the house is his own house or Marshall and Lily’s house on Long Island or if it’s another one). Marshall and Lily are in a desperate search for a Nanny, since Lily’s maternity leave is almost up, and Grandpa is desperate for the job, but Lily is not a fan. They find the perfect nanny, a regular old Mary Poppins, who they cannot remotely afford. As the search continues, there aren’t a lot of qualified candidates in their price range, until they find a young lady from St. Cloud! Marshall is already in love. Until she turns them down after she fell in love with a single dad/billionaire she met later that day, who turns out to be, you guessed it, Barney!

His latest gag to get girls? Interviewing Nannies and then sleeping with them. Very exciting. And very much screwing Marshall and Lily after their Minnesotan nanny leaves in a huff. Barney apologizes by hiring the perfect nanny for them (and giving Marshall some hotwheels), but it turns out, Lily isn’t ready to let go, figuratively and quite literally. She storms off to Marvin’s room and promptly falls asleep. When she wakes up Marshall’s home and Lily is holding a monkey instead of Marvin! But it’s okay, LIly’s dad is actually Mr. Mom! When he was being a deadbeat when Lily was younger, he was also a stay-at-home dad. If only he had never gone to the track races that first time. Lily hires him, and from the photos that flash afterwards, it looks like Chris Elliot is going to be around for awhile.

While all this is happening, Ted and Robin have a fight over who is in a better relationship, despite the fact that Nick is too emotional for Robin and Victoria is quite the slob. When they see how crazy Barney gets after the nannies find out about his scam and beat the crap out of him, they cling to their not-perfect relationships even tighter, although older Ted has told us that both relationships aren’t going to last that much longer.

What makes this show so great is its ability to roll with the times. Much of the episode was baby-centric, but it didn’t lose anything. It still had its snarky humor, it’s over-the-top twists and turns, and a lot of yuppies in a bar. Baby Marvin isn’t going to kill this show, which is a relief. Babies have in the past (I’m looking at you, Emma). Oh and also a hilarious bit at the end where Barney sleeps with the super-nanny. This show is still on fire.

Once Upon a Time Season Premiere Review and Recap

Just another day in Storybrooke. Oh wait, no it wasn’t. When we last left our fairytale characters, the curse had been broken and everyone remembered who they really were. And then Mr. Gold unleashed a big purple haze of magic on the whole town, changing the rules and blurring the line between fairy tale and reality. That’s what the whole episode was about, really. Blurring the set formula we had last season and transitioning to a place where the show can sustain itself without flashbacks. But let’s dive in.

We open 0n a horse and buggy, apparently in the fairytale land but oh wait no, we’re just in Central Park in NYC. And we follow a man, down the subway, up into his small apartment. we have no idea who he is until a bird delivers a postcard from Storybrooke with one word written on it: “Broken.” Omnious? Yes? Theories? My best bet is on whoever August/Pinnochio was in contact with, and that person probably is Baelfire, Gold’s son. But moving on.

The rest of the episode moves between fairyland and Storybrooke, much like every other episode has. The flashback to fairyland is to Sleeping Beauty being awakened by her handsome prince, a tale I expected to see sooner in the show (given Malificent’s importance to the storyline thus far). He’s accompanied by a masked soldier, who although they try to keep up the appearance of a man, the cut of the outfit and the liner on the eyes immediately gave away this new character as Mulan (Jamie Chung). They encounter a hooded phantom they call a wraith, who marks his victims with a metal disk and then sucks out their souls. Aurora’s prince is marked and he runs away to try to save the women. They run after him but are too late. The prince dies. It all seems a little irrelevant until Gold pulls the disk out of his cabinet and marks Regina, after he promised Belle (love her Australian accent, by the way) he wouldn’t kill.

Meanwhile, Snow, Charming and Emma spend most of the episode trying to convince people not to kill Regina, and then later saving Regina. It’s because they’re heroes and because Henry asked them to. There are also lots of awkward moments where Snow and Charming, full of their memories, try to connect with Emma as their daughter. It’s super weird, as Snow mentions, because they were equal adults before. “There are lots of things I shouldn’t have mentioned, like one night stands.” “One night stands?” “Whale. What we were cursed!”

When it comes down to it, the only way to defeat the wraith is to send it back to fairyland, which Regina swears is gone. She thinks sending it to an abyss will kill it. Everyone’s favorite portal device, Mad’s hat, is required and it doesn’t work until Emma touches Regina’s arm. Curious and curiouser. Of course, all magic comes with a price, and the wraith is sucked it, along with Emma. Snow jumps in after her and so does Charming, but the portal closes and he hits the floor. And where Emma and Snow land is back in fairyland, right next to Aurora and Mulan, and we realize that it was no flashback, it was actually a flash forward, the wraith appearing to Aurora, the prince, and Mulan after it had left Storybrooke. Whef, timelines have always been confusing in this show, but I think they’re going only going to get more so.

And there we leave it. Emma and Snow are back in fairyland, everybody else is trapped in Storybrooke with Regina and Gold magicking all over the place, and there’s a mysterious New York stranger involved. All in all it was a good premiere, holding onto the bomb that it wasn’t a flashback anymore until the very end. But there are many questions left unanswered, and people we haven’t heard from. Where is August? And Jefferson? They’re linked very intricately with the fate of our main characters, but we don’t know anything about them, post-curse. Also, just putting an appeal out there for Amy Acker’s fairy/nun to come back. Because it’s Amy Acker playing a fairy/nun, it’s so adorable I can’t even handle it. But alas, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Pilot Roundup Part 1: Revolution, Last Resort, and The Mindy Project.

Oh pilot season. Besides Christmas it’s the best time of year. Especially since it comes right along with my birthday. There hasn’t been a whole lot on the menu so far this year, but I’m here with my thoughts on what I’ve seen. I will stick with a couple new shows along with other old shows. Tonight I’ve got two high concept dramas for you, and one sitcom.


By far, the show I was most excited for when the trailer premiered in May. It’s an ambitious concept. All electricity suddenly stops working one day, and 15 years later this is what the world is like. That’s the big lens. Our small lens heros (as all apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories come equipped with them) is one family that seems to be intimately involved with the cause of the blackout. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), our spunky young Katniss-esque heroine. She’s not a complete copy though, she uses a crossbow instead of a regular bow (side note, there seem to be a pletora of very well made bows, crossbows, and swords in this non-electric world). Her father, Ben (Tim Guinee), was killed in a gun fight after the Militia of the Monroe Republic attempted to take him (yes, all of those things I said happened). Her mother (Elizabeth Mitchell) died sometime earlier. They take her brother (Graham Rogers). Her only hope is to find her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke) who’s apparently “good at killing” and get him to help find Danny. Along the way she brings her father’s lover (Anna Lise Phillips), a British doctor from their “village,” and a dorky neighbor (Zak Orth) who Ben entrusted with an ominous looking flashdrive necklace. Add a couple of guys from the famed militia and you’ve got your cast of misfit characters. I was not as impressed by them and their interactions during the pilot as I was by the concept itself.

The show glosses over the initial consequences of the blackout, merely showing a young Charlie eating all the ice cream in the house and a younger Miles walking after his car doesn’t start, but there’s no real answer to how we got where we were except an ominous voice over telling us that “governments fell.” The world looks a  little too put together just fifteen years after we lost all electricity. I kept asking myself, where did they get all of those candles from? The finer details aren’t really this show’s strong suit. But it does revel in showing Chicago landmarks covered in dirt and moss, and in teaching its audience how bad technology really is for us.

Moving forward the show needs to be a little less preachy and a little more character-driven, focuses less on the novelty of the world without electricity and more on how the characters deal with it. It’s already got the addictive intrigue with Ben’s involvement in the blackout, the dead mother and so much more. It just needs the characters to hold it up.

Verdict: Keep watching, but on Hulu when you feel like it.

Last Resort

Next we move over to ABC’s high concept attempt for the year. Despite the premise about a nuclear submarine that basically defects from the US after being ordered to bomb Pakistan for no reason at all, it’s actually  the most red-state show I’ve seen since NCIS. The plot of the pilot, which was completely revealed in the upfronts trailer, consists of a nuclear sub captained by Andre Braugher (the character’s name is negligible, it’s Braugher’s show) where at first everything is fun and games. All of a sudden an order comes through the Antarctic network (really guys?) which apparently would only be used if DC was completely wiped out, to fire on Pakistan. Captain Braugher, being not, you know, an idiot, wants to know why it came through back channels while he’s “sitting here watching Hannah Montana.” That was the best part of the whole pilot. Andre Braugher saying “Hannah Montana.” Blah blah blah, Captain is relieved from duty, blah blah blah, the US bombs the submarine, blah blah blah, they bomb Pakistan and start a war. Oh and during this whole thing there’s a sexy defense contractor who somehow knows about the whole conspiracy.

Anyway the sub pulls up on a South Pacific island and basically conquers it, sets up in the NATO watch station there, and declares on television that they want the US government to resign. End pilot. The underpinning behind the show is not that the US is evil, but rather that the true patriot is willing to turn on his own government when they have lost touch with the American way. It’s a little scary. Of course the viewer’s sympathies go to the plucky crew, who are only trying to Do the Right Thing, but we are led to believe the Right Thing is inherently American separtism. Woof. Like I said, super red-state, super tea-party, and super not subtle about it all. To top it off the characters are flatter than the screen you watch it on, and although it hasn’t surfaced (see what I did there) yet, there’s bound to be rampant racism on the South Pacific island. All in all, I wasn’t impressed.

Verdict: There are enough new shows this year. Pick a different one.

The Mindy Project

One of the first truly charming comedies I’ve seen in a long while, Mindy Kaling’s much anticipated solo act started off quite well. What could have ended up a little on the cliched side turned sweet and relatable, as we followed Mindy through a rather hectic two day period in her life, starting with a little backstory. Why did the show look a little cheesy? Because Mindy (now this is character Mindy, when I’m talking about the actress I’ll call her Kaling) is cheesy of course! Cue a series of flashbacks of young Mindy as a kid, in high school and in college, obsessed with romantic comedies and begging her life to be like one of them. All of a sudden, one day during her residency as an ob/gyn she gets trapped in an elevator with the seemingly perfect man (a hilariously guest spot from Bill Hader, hopefully recurring). They both drop files. Her hair falls down. Her voice-over tells us that only months later they moved in together. Months after that, he falls in love with the young, blonde, cafeteria girl. Typical. And that’s where Mindy’s life stops being a romantic comedy and starts being the adorable mess that gave the series its first (and ultimately dropped) name, “It’s Messy.”

The rest of the episode follows Mindy’s antics after she gives a drunk and incredibly inappropriate toast at her ex’s wedding, and then falls into a stranger’s pool. And it’s funny, it’s physical, it’s witty, it’s really everything you’d expect from Mindy Kaling. A lot of comparisons will probably be made to Fox’s other female-driven multi-cam sitcom without a laugh track, New Girl, but so far Mindy has succeeded where New Girl failed: Mindy is a character that I would believe is real, whereas Jess is so fake they made up the term “adorkable” for her. I’m excited to see where this show goes, how they deal with the obvious sexual tension between Mindy and her seemingly jerkish coworker Danny, and how they deal with Kaling in general, a really talented actress and comedian. As comedy alums leave known products to strike out on their own (Tina Fey to 30 Rock, Amy Poehler to Parks and Recreation, etc) Mindy has a lot of potential.

Verdicit: Watch live, it’ll be fun to watch with friends.

Okay so that’s it for now. In the next couple of days I’ll have my reactions up to The New Normal and others. Stay tuned! 

HIMYM Season 8 Premiere Recap

Holy Mother of Batman! Or, I should say, Holy Mother of Ted’s Future Children! Tonight’s HIMYM offered the biggest peak we’ve ever had at the future Mrs. Mosby, including knees and an outfit! But that’s not even the half of it. We also got our furthest peak ever into Barney and Robin’s wedding day, a day full of second thoughts and escape attempts. Almost as many as Victoria’s wedding, back in the here and now. So let’s dive in.

We open with Ted, sitting on a train stop in Farhampton, wearing the tuxedo for Robin and Barney’s wedding. When a woman asks him about the wedding he was just at, he begins to tell her the tale, falling into one of HIMYM’s favorite tropes: the story within a story within a story. Once inside the second story, Ted and Robin reminisce about how Ted climbed through the window of the church on the day of Victoria’s wedding. And now we’re in the third story. And Ted is running around trying to get Victoria to leave a note for her fiance. Antics happens and eventually we learn that Klaus was planning on leaving Victoria at the altar as well. Ted absolves Victoria of blame, but really it’s more like he’s absolving himself. As he and Victoria drive off he runs into Klaus again and asks him why? Klaus says she wasn’t the one, and Ted isn’t sure if Victoria is. Flash to Ted sitting feet away from the mother, who’s dress does not match her yellow umbrella. Woof. I’m almost as tired as Marshall and Lily just thinking about it.

Speaking of Marshall and Lily, although they weren’t given much to do this episode, the series is already starting to weave their newparenting lifestyle in with the old hang out lifestyle. They’re trying so hard but inevitably, they’re a little too tired to deal with Robin’s love life or Barney’s problems with Quinn. Any new parents, heck, anyone who’s ever pulled a couple all nighters can relate to the feeling that there’s literally a scuba diver swimming in front of your vision.

As far as Barney and Quinn are concerned things are going great until Marshall and Lily drop the bomb that Barney and Robin dated. Quinn asks for a one minute explanation. Barney sums up all seven seasons of HIMYM in 52 seconds. NPH deserves the Emmy next year just for that. When Quinn still isn’t sure she can trust Barney and Robin, it takes a meeting with Robin’s new hunky boyfriend Nick (her secret crush from the season 6 episode “Hopeless”) to convince Quinn that Robin isn’t in to Barney anymore. And while Quinn is off admiring Nick’s abs, Barney literally gives Robin the key to their relationship, a storage locker with all of the photos and mementos from their time together. He hasn’t quite let go of her yet.

So Barney and Robin are back down the path towards matrimony, Ted is taking a sojourn on the Victoria highway, and Marshall and Lily need some sleep. I’d say mission accomplished, HIMYM writers, season 8 is taking us down the path towards the end of the show, something I want but don’t want at all.

Do the Right Thing

Political Animals Episode 5 Recap and Review

As the political miniseries moves from character to character, doling out telling flashbacks, I wonder why there’s “mini” in the series. With only one episode to go, I wonder how the story will resolve itself, which it has to to qualify Sigourney Weaver for Best Actress in a Mini Series for next years Emmy’s. But let’s dive in to this week’s episode, in which we learn what makes Susan tick, how crazy Bud really is, Garcetti isn’t really such a bad guy, and that Anne is still boring.

The episode was titled “16 Hours” but it should really have been called “All About Susan.” our intrepid reporter was the focus of the flashbacks this episode, which strangely was devoid of all things Georgia. We see her emerge as a budding columnist and make her mark by tearing Elaine down. Ripping her apart in a column her editor calls more “judgmental” than editorial. To this criticism, Susan accuses him of being sexist. She goes over his head and suddenly her column is published and she has a new swanky office. This is the part that bugged me. Susan steps on Elaine’s ashes to climb her way up the corporate ladder, all the while accuses her boss of being sexist. She doesn’t really know where she stands, and neither does the show. What does feminism mean here? Is what Susan did strength or was it cheating? Are women supposed to help each other or claw each other’s eyes out? I of course have my own opinions and I’m sure you have yours, but I’m not entirely sure what the show thinks. Sometimes I think all the gains that the character of Elaine makes in terms of the portrayal of women on television, Susan gives away. I’m hoping something great will happen next episode.

The more exciting news was Doug and Susan sleeping together, something you could have called a mile away since that first clandestine meeting. He also drunkenly admits to the other thing we all knew before: that he doesn’t really love Anne enough to marry her and that they’re just a puppet couple. He can’t leave her for Susan but I wish he could. Anne is boring and Susan needs to date a nicer guy. Sigh.

In the meantime, TJ is unconscious in the hospital after an overdose which Elaine covers up by leaking the Chinese nuclear sub story to Susan. The rescue mission is underway but China is so dead set on keeping the sub out of American hands that they threaten to release their nuke onto California if a rescue is attempted. When Vice President Asshole votes to kill the Chinese, Garcetti makes the first good call of the series and steps out as a not-so-bad-guy after all. Of course no bomb is deployed and all is saved, especially Garcetti’s political future. Elaine herself says he’ll be unbeatable. It was noble of her to sacrifice her own political aspirations for the lives of a hundred men, but it’s clear that she’s needed in the federal government, as Garcetti wouldn’t  have lifted a finger without  her. I wish Elaine would have had more to do this episode besides talk about the sub and talk about TJ. It was Bud who got the real action, taking swing at the Vice President for blackmailing Congressman Gay way back when. It was a hilarious scene, one that got me thinking, what would the secret service do in that situation? President, VP, and former President in a fist fight? I wonder if something like that has ever happened…

And of course, we can’t forget Margaret and Anne, busy searching the house for drugs to flush so that TJ can come home and rehabilitate. When they find some good old fashioned Mary Jane, they decide to smoke it instead of flushing it. Cue the high revelations, all of the good ones coming from Margaret of course. The pot brings on a case of the munchies and of course, causes Anne to hit the bathroom to puke her guts out. Only Grandma knows all, and confronts her. It’s a great speech for Ellen Burstyn and she handles the scene well while Brittany Ishibashi sort of stands there like the doll she is. She is such an unnecessary character and even her own personal storyline is boring. They’re spending so much time with TJ and addiction they don’t really have time for another mental health problem in the short six episodes. My only hope is that we leave the series with Doug and Anne resolutely broken up. We’ll just have to wait until next week to see.