Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shows I Follow Via Recap



The Vampire Diaries--Season Six

I used to be the biggest fan ever of TVD. I watched religiously every week. I wrote fanfiction. Seriously I really loved this show. Then something weird happened. I got irritated with the storylines. First I was never for the whole Stefan/Elena thing. I just didn't find them compatible and the showrunners were like "STELENA FOREVER!" So I pulled back and started reading recaps and watching select episodes. I basically watched Seasons 1-4 pretty regularly with gaps periodically. I dropped it season 5 and 6 other than recaps. My intention is to go back and watch the show eventually (especially once it ends). Personally I think I just don't trust the showrunners and want to see how they handle it before I get invested it again.

BTW they actually did a few things I liked in recent years like Delena, Alaric being back, playing with Steroline, etc. So it is definitely on my to-watch list.

Revenge--Season Four

I was also a huge fan of Revenge in season one and two. I watched pretty regularly although a few storylines turned me away. First I was never a Fauxmanda fan until she was gone. I was also so bummed by the "INITIATIVE" storyline of season two. Then season three saw some crazy shenanigans with murder, the Graysons, and other things. Season Four has been pretty great and I tend to watch select episodes after reading the recaps. I just can't muster up enough interest week to week.

Like TVD I expect I'll watch the whole show once it is over and I see how they ended it.


Glee--Season Six

I was one of the biggest Gleeks in season one and then it just sort of lost it's luster (?). Honestly I was totally on board for the first 13 episodes of season 1 and then it just went downhill for me. I stopped caring about the characters. I felt the weird quirks of the characters stopped being charming and became ridiculous. Then they moved the show to New York and it was a little too much. I'm still following it to see how it ends but I could care less week to week.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Laurel Lance--The Underutilized Plot Point



I'll be the first to admit I'm an Olicity shipper. Hi my name is Tsuki and I'm an Olicity shipper. Seriously I'm that cool with my ship being known. Here's the thing though, the Arrow is supposed to be with the Black Canary right? Right?! Well they show has taken a different approach to the story which I love where they allowed the characters to direct the story. Oliver and Felicity have amazing chemistry and the characters seem to fit much better than Oliver and Laurel. Now before the haters starting saying but...but...canon!

I say, CALM YOURSELVES!

I actually like Laurel. Did you hear that Olicity haters?! I actually like the other option just not as a love interest. I've liked Laurel from the beginning of the show. She's an interesting character. She has all the makings of a hero but for some reason she continuously gets the short end of the stick. Why? She's not written to be more than that due to circumstance.

From day one, Laurel was written in as a plot point and not a central character. How can that be, you ask? She's the love interest. Oliver pined for her on the island. She was one of the first characters introduced. How could she just be a plot point. Well let's take a second and consider what her character actually did season one. How did Laurel's character contribute to much of anything?

Well not much. Laurel is introduced first to be a conflict. She's part of a love triangle between Oliver and Tommy. She has RAGE. She's mad at Oliver for being responsible for Sara's death. Okay so that's putting it mildly but in the end her character serves mostly the purpose of conflict. She gets between Oliver and Tommy and sort of puts herself there. She clearly still has feelings for Oliver but she's falling in love with Tommy. Oliver takes a very middle ground approach. At the same time she puts conflict in between her father and the Hood. She doesn't actually contribute anything to those scenes besides conflict.

Then when the conflict has petered out she becomes a bit of a damsel and a bit of fangirl. She's so into the Hood, all she can do is get further and further embroiled with danger. Once again her character does virtually nothing while Tommy's character grows as he learns more about the Hood and Oliver. Oliver grows as he wrestles with his identity being secret, the sacrifices he's made, and the trauma of his five years missing.  Even at the end of the season Laurel serves as conflict when it is she heeding no one's advice, refuses to leave CNRI. She leads them to Tommy's death scene and character growth between Oliver and Tommy.

Maybe I'm simplifying it but I cannot see how much would be different if we took her out and inserted anyone into the role.

Season Two rolled around and I had high hopes again. Then she did something weird. She remained a plot point instead of a character. She served as conflict for the Arrow since she blamed him for Tommy's death. She served as conflict with Sara. She served as conflict with her father. She served as conflict with Sebastian Blood. Sure, she was onto something but it wasn't her story that led to that discovery. The thing is she was merely a device to further the storylines and growth of all the other characters. Even her alcoholism storyline did very little for the story other than to add a whiny bitch into a few scenes. She even served as a conflict by getting kidnapped by Slade for the sole purpose of getting upset before Felicity and Oliver saved her ass.

Season Three? Don't get me started. We're treated to Laurel becoming the Black Canary. Okay...

So here's the thing about season three. We're supposedly getting a glimpse at her evolution to the Black Canary right? Sara died so there is not leathered woman running around Starling City. Wait is the Huntress out of prison yet?! Wait Cupid was there right? Hmmm...okay so she's not even serving that purpose. Surprisingly enough she manages to become a masked crusader yet still manages to be conflict. What is that? She fights with Oliver over her becoming the Black Canary. She fights with Team Arrow over their handling of Sara's murder. She fights with Roy in the Producer's Preview of Episode 11 when she gets hurt. In fact the only thing not creating conflict is when she uses her ADA abilities to get ME reports and such.

Do you see the problem?

I spent time reading the forums and I always notice how much people hate Laurel. I don't hate her, but I do struggle with her character. It has nothing to do with training or capability or anything along those lines. Rather it has to do with the fact her character is 2-D. I don't think she's been written to be a character the viewers really can care about. She never actually experiences much character growth. To be fair she's really only been treated to loss since the show came on. She hasn't dealt with much else.

It's sad to find a character I want to see succeed only fulfill a small portion of her capability. I just think she's not being turned into a leading character but rather just another plot point. At least Sara dealt with guilt towards being assassin. She struggled with coming home. She struggled with going back. She grew as a character and people wanted to see more.

I think Laurel just needs to actually grow as a character and I'm hoping the Canary suit lets her do that.


Stacking the Shelves--January 23/Weekly Wrap Up

Another week has come and gone and with it my patience. I'm not sure what it is this week but I've felt incredibly impatient. It's almost like I'm waiting for something constantly. I'm waiting for a hold to come in. I'm waiting for a favorite show to come back. I'm waiting to have time to watch and/or read things. So it's just been one of those weeks. I hope your week has been better.

Review

1. The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrowes


2. Sinful (Bitter Creek Bk 9) by Joan Johnston







Library

 1. I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

2. Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

3. Hikaru No Go: Endgame (Hikaru No Go Vol. 23) by Yumi Hotta/Takeshi Obata

Gifted


1. Alpha Instinct (Moon Shifter Bk 1) by Katie Reus









Weekly Wrap-Up

Reviews

1. Caliban Cove (Resident Evil Bk 2) by S.D. Perry [2.5 Stars]

Memes

1. Top Ten Tuesday--Ten Books I Want to Read in 2015
2. Waiting on Wednesday--His to Take (Wicked Lovers Bk 9) by Shayla Black

Television Reviews/Discussions

1. Arrow--Identity and Looking Ahead
2. Shows I Always Watch New
3. Arrow Season Three Episode 10 "Left Behind" [A]
4. Shows I Watch Casually

Misc.

1. Midseason Review Schedule

Books Read

1. Hikaru No Go: The Young Lions! (Hikaru No Go Vol. 20) by Yumi Hotta/Takeshi Obata
2. Hikaru No Go: Great Expectations (Hikaru No Go Vol. 21) by Yumi Hotta/Takeshi Obata
3. Hikaru No Go: China vs. Japan (Hikaru No Go Vol. 22) by Yumi Hotta/Takeshi Obata
4. Hikaru No Go: Endgame (Hikaru No Go Vol. 23) by Yumi Hotta/Takeshi Obata

Currently Reading


Friday, January 23, 2015

Shows I Casually Watch



2 Broke Girls--Season Four

I was totally on the fence about this show when it started and I actually thought it would be terrible. I was pleasantly surprised and it became a favorite of mine. I watch each week eager for the next week. I loved the adventures of Caroline and Max as they tried to get money together for their cupcake shop. I loved the secondary characters and I was totally on board with every shananigan possible.

The season three happened. There are not enough words to describe my utter hatred of the Chef Nicholas storyline at Pastry school. Seriously I will never watch those episodes again without the mute button handy. **shudder**

This season hasn't been much better as 2 Broke Girls has become "The Caroline Show". Week after week Caroline bitches and moans until the whole show is about her and we leave everyone else in the background. Max is rarely truly in a scene while the diner crew is peripheral. It irritates me and led to me downgrading the show to a "Casual show"

Mike and Molly--Season Five

I also thought this one sounded weird when I heard about it. The premise was two people in Overeaters Anonymous falling in love. Okay that sounds stupid. I do, however, like Melissa McCarthy and decided to tune in anyway. Well I really enjoyed it. Molly and Mike's romance was adorable and the secondary characters were hilarious. I was so excited as the show got renewed again and again.

Then the network did something weird. They decided to make the show a midseason replacement instead of a fall season premiere. I was shocked. Not only that but they decided to have a major change-up in the show by having Molly quit her job. I was cool with the job thing and eagerly waited to see where they would go with it.

Then Molly became the star and it became about her writing a book. **Snore**. Every week (almost) features Molly writing her novel or researching her novel or editing her novel and everyone else dances around her. I sucked it up for a season and then this season did it again. Last week we finally got an episode about something else and then next week it is back to her damn book. I am not a happy watcher.

It makes me consider downgrading the show again.

Forever--Season One

This is the show I really enjoy but know will get cancelled. The ratings are sub-par but I just really enjoy the show. The show follows Dr. Henry Morgan, a medical examiner in New York, who comes back to life when he's killed. He's been around for about 200 years and constantly moves around to avoid detection. Joining him is his adopted son Abe who is now in his 60s and old enough to appear to be Henry's father. Amongst his own research, Henry helps the police in a Castle-like fashion by partnering with Detective Jo Martinez to solve crime and catch killers. Oh and there is a psycho-immortal guy named Adam who shows up from time to time. [Side note, I get the religious angle but why is every immortal named Adam? Heroes did it. This show has done it. It's weird]

The show really takes on a case-of-the-week format with flashbacks thrown in. Each week showcases one case that in some way reminds Henry of his past. Throughout the episodes we are treated to flashbacks of Henry over the 200 years as he learns, grows, and accepts what his immortality means for him and those around him. He's been married twice and has a son who is now physically older than him. He deals with the idea he will lose people constantly since he is ever unchanging. It's a fascinating idea.

I really enjoy the show week to week and get bummed every time I hear it is not doing well. I really hope it gets renewed and possibly moved to a better timeslot.

The Middle--Season Six

I picked up this show randomly and have caught episodes over the years. It always conflicted with my schedule so I vaguely knew about it but I did not watch it. Then this year I picked it up because I could not watch "Arrow" live since we watched "The Goldbergs" at 8:30. Woes of a television watcher. So I figured if I'm stuck here then I'll watch "The Middle" too.

Well it's a pretty funny show following a lower (?) middle class family in the midwest. I really love how the show approaches having two parents struggling to give their kids what they can (like the show Roseanne) and still stay funny. The kids are so much fun as they've grown up and are starting to head off to college. They are completely unappreciated as actors.

Actually the whole show is unappreciated. They never get nominated for anything and get almost no actual recognition. Yet the show has been on six seasons with a pretty good success rate. It is sad but the show is definitely worth it.

The Goldbergs--Season Two

I really disliked "That 70s Show" so I figured this would be another terrible time period show. Then I watched the pilot. It was so funny and so relatable and I just knew I'd found a winner. I have rewatched season one so many times and I love all the characters equally. It's a show where you sort of feel like you know them. Maybe it's because the stuff that happens in the house seem so familiar to anyone with a quirky family. The fights and make-ups and events are so normal, so...relatable you can't help but feel it's a representation of your own family.

Plus 80s pop culture!? I was born in the late 80s so 80s pop culture was around my time but I was a child of the 90s. At the same time my favorite movie is "Back to the Future" so I love the references to some of the things I really love in my own life.

I think the beauty of this show really rests on how every family seems to exist in this show. You have the invasive mother, the lazy father (not bad lazy), the popular older sibling, the goofy sibling, and then you...the normal one who happens to be a little weird.

Last year this show would have been on my "MUST WATCH" list but this season has been slightly sub-par and it has disappointed me. I think the show has focused a little too much on the school aspect and less on the home aspect and it bums me out. I still watch every week but I always feel like something is missing.

Modern Family--Season Six

I'll admit it. I watched the pilot years ago during a "If you subscribe to Entertainment Weekly you can see the pilot a week early" thing. So I watched the pilot and thought it had potential. I thought it was funny but it conflicted with something more important so it got shoved to the back burner. My mother watched it and loved it so I picked it up around season 4. It was still casual because I had another conflict.

 Last year and this year was the first years I got to watch every week (no conflicts). I watch it every week and for the most part really enjoy the show. At the same time, if I missed an episode I wouldn't be upset. It's good but it's not that good. I also feel like the show might be getting stale after I watched the early episodes and noticed it's not quite as good anymore.

I'm not sure why it's fallen a bit but it has. The cast is still amazing and some of the actors are really unappreciated (the kids). I still watch every week but I really hope the show picks up the pace again.


The Big Bang Theory--Season Eight

I was a huge fan of "The Big Bang Theory" years ago when it was on Monday nights. It conflicted with nothing and I watched it every week. Then the network did this weird thing where they moved it to Thursdays I stopped watching for awhile. Why? Because I had a more prioritized conflict. So I casually followed the story, watched reruns, and stayed abreast of the general goings on. The past two years I watched it live and felt a little ambivalent towards it.

The thing is I really enjoyed the early seasons when it was about four awkward nerds dealing with life while the hot girl lived across the hall. I was totally on board. I even liked the introductions of Bernadette and Amy. Then the show went to hell. I'm not sure how they managed to take an amazingly funny show and make it sort of unfunny. I'm not sure but I sit there some weeks and barely laugh as the whole nerd thing has virtually vanished for stuff on relationships. It has officially become friends without the jokes. Things that were charming are not mean. Characters have become unlikable. It's amazing and sad at the same time.

I think this show is a prime example of having been on too long. While I watch the show every week I feel like it should have ended a year ago or so and we could have moved on. Instead the show plods along each week with odd storylines and unfunny moments. Well it only has two years left probably.

Last Man Standing--Season Four

I picked this show up this year and now watch it every week. Sure it's on season four but I find the show funny so I figured I'd watch. The show hangs on year after year with bad ratings so I figure it has staying power.

It's a pretty funny show with Tim Allen playing the conservative father. There's a wife and three daughters (one with a kid who's about 8?, a fashionable one, and a tomboy one). The kids are funny and the way they interact with their parents is even better.

It's a show that sometimes gets lost in conservative ideology as Tim Allen's character preaches to the viewers at the end of every episode. Sometimes it feels a little too forceful and other times I barely notice the preaching. It's a fun show but it could definitely do with some tweaking.

Also they recast the first daughter. I hate when shows do that.

Cristela--Season One

This was a new show this year that just looked funny. It is but it's also most likely headed for cancellation. The show centers on Cristela (clearly) who is Hispanic and trying to become a lawyer. She gets an internship at a law firm and is excited for it even though it is unpaid. She lives with her sister's family and that causes a lot of the tension. It's a show about family with a little bit of adversity as she goes up against stereotypes, racism, and sexism.

It's really funny and Cristela kills it week after week with jokes. I love the cast and it's a great show. The problem is that it almost seems like this sitcom as been on for years with a different race being highlighted. To me it harkens back to shows like "House of Payne", "The Cosby Show", "Whitney" and pretty much every other sitcom. A big deal is made about her ethnicity but in the end her ethnicity is usually not really the problem. It's like the show is making a big deal out of something that is not really a big deal in her life (not saying racism and sexism don't exist because they do).

I think its a show that is trying to hard to be relevant that it misses the point. At the end of the day it's a regular sitcom that is trying to show racism and sexism exist but is failing along the way since those things are either missing from the show or are made to be funny.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review--Arrow Season Three Episode 10 "Left Behind"

Arrow Season Three Episode 10 "Left Behind"
Directed by: Glen Winter
Written by: Marc Guggenheim and Erik Oleson
Aired: January 21, 2015

Previously on Arrow: The League of Assassins inform Oliver that he has 48 hours to find and turn over Sara's killer or the league will begin murdering Starling City citizens. Oliver also learns Maseo is a member of the League. Dr. Snow sends Felicity the DNA profile from the arrow that killed Sara, and the police database identifies Oliver. Believing Malcolm set him up, Oliver discovers Malcolm and Thea arrived in Starling City the night before Sara's murder. Realizing she has been lying, the Arrow confronts Thea who demonstrates she has been training by escaping. Later Malcolm admits he drugged Thea and manipulated her into killing Sara. Malcolm filmed the event to use as leverage to force Oliver into a Trial by Combat with Ra's al Ghul. Oliver and Ra's meet and Oliver is mortally wounded when Ra's stabs him through the chest and pushes him over the side of a cliff. In flashbacks, Oliver and Maseo learn China White has stolen a super-virus and kidnapped Tatsu, In romantic news, Oliver admits he loves Felicity before going to face Ra's.

"Left Behind" is an episode that hinges on the team's reaction to Oliver missing. Is there a team? Can they do this without him? Should they? Why are they there if not for him? How do they react? How can they move forward with him? Is it worth it?

The episode opens with Arsenal, Diggle, and the police chasing after two thugs who tried to kill a cop. Arsenal cannot seem to catch them so Diggle, in the Arrow suit, manages to capture one of them before admitting he's not totally comfortable in the Arrow suit. The two rush back to the Foundry and start to question if they should start preparing for the fact Oliver might not have made it out alive. Felicity is in absolute denial and refuses to consider he might not have made it through.

In the meantime Captain Lance relies on Laurel as ADA to keep the one thug in prison while they try to hunt down the escapee. The problem is Team Arrow starts to suspect this isn't just a random thug but rather linked to a criminal "Brick" who just was released from prison. Brick got out when all the evidence and witnesses suddenly met an untimely end.

Malcolm and Thea are training as usual and Thea seemingly proves herself to Malcolm before becoming distracted. She mentions how worried she is about Oliver since he doesn't text, call, or answer any of her messages. He hasn't come home in days and she's worried. Malcolm promises to look into it. His mode of 'looking into it' is to go to Team Arrow and question them. When they admit they haven't heard anything he asks if they think Oliver is still alive. Felicity is adamant he is.

Malcolm continues on his quest to get answers by heading to the mountain where Ra's fought Oliver. There he discovers the sword used to stab Oliver, covered in blood with Oliver's body having been pushed into a ravine. He retrieves the sword.

Dig and Arsenal head to a warehouse that pinged Brick's cell phone and quickly discover the crew has jumped ship. They left behind the earlier escapee, burned, and all traceable evidence destroyed.  Laurel finally coming around notices Oliver's absence and tells Felicity Oliver will come home. She discusses how she lost him once and he came back so he'll come back again.

Enter Malcolm who brings the sword and explains its significance. Oliver Queen is dead because that sword was left as a memorial to the fallen. He explains how they won't believe him because he is who he is. They'll test the sword and confirm it's Oliver's. They'll run through all their conspiracy theories before realizing Oliver hasn't come back and must be dead. Felicity accuses Malcolm and tells him Oliver was killed by him not Ra's al Ghul. Malcolm accepts that but it was his life or Oliver's. The team is devastated and they break apart for the day as Felicity heads off to work, Dig heads off, and Roy heads upstairs.

Felicity, at work, is struggling with the knowledge of Ray working towards the ATOM suit and how that could kill him. She tries to talk him out of it but can't and agrees to help him with a computer chip that won't work. At a moment of weakness when she nearly starts crying over Oliver she tells Ray about his dead fiancee not wanting this and how one night he won't come home. He gets angry at her invoking Anna's name and Felicity leaves.

Roy is found drinking at Verdant and Thea comments about his unusual solo drinking. She asks him what is going on and he admits he got bad news about a friend. Thea wants to know if she knows the person and he changes the subject to ask about Thea. She wants a favor. She practically begs Roy to ask the Arrow to look for Oliver. She knows he must be the man in red fighting with the Arrow and wants him to get the Arrow to search for Oliver because she's really worried. Roy sort of agrees before rushing down to discuss with Diggle if Thea should be told. Diggle comments how Oliver didn't want Thea to know but Roy replies Oliver is dead.

The team rallies to try and stop Brick from making off with all the evidence surrounding a bunch of thugs the Arrow and Arsenal put away since they defeated Slade Wilson. Agreeing to go after Brick and crew, Arsenal and Dig head off and fight Brick off. Unfortunately when push comes to shove Brick escapes with the evidence. Roy and Dig argue with Felicity when she reveals she's the one who let Brick escape so Roy and Dig wouldn't be killed. Then in a surprise move she quits the team stating there is no team without Oliver.

Felicity apologizes to Ray about her words and admits she's going through something. He tries to comfort her and she admits she just lost a friend who was more than a friend but they hadn't discussed it. She also admitted to losing a friend a few months earlier. She doesn't want to lose anymore friends so she can't stop Ray from going out there on a suicide mission but she doesn't have to help him kill himself.

Diggle and Laurel discuss Oliver's death and how he's not coming back. Laurel, finally showing emotion, asks Diggle if he'll be back. Dig admits he's not sure because he got into this because of Oliver. He feels guilty since he saw himself as Oliver's bodyguard and he failed. So he takes off and Laurel turns to look over at Sara's costume and her weapons.

In the final moments of the show, Laurel suits up as the Black Canary and goes off to attack the man who was captured at the beginning of the episode. She uses Sara's canary cry device and her weaponry to approach him.

In the episode flashbacks, Maseo is determined to find Tatsu but Amanda Waller refuses to help as their priority is the other half of the device. Oliver and Maseo go for the device and manage to secure it. In an odd move Oliver lets one of the Triad escape him and gets accused of not capturing a man ARGUS could have used. When Maseo questions him, Oliver admits he stuck a GPS tracker in the man's jacket so they could follow him to China White and Tatsu. Maseo comments how he owes Oliver a life debt.

In the mysterious moments of the episode, Oliver's body is retrieved from the mountainside and carted off. A person dressed as League of Assassins member pulls Oliver to a small cabin. It is revealed the person rescuing him is Maseo. Oliver wakes up in the cabin and a woman tells him to rest as he'll pull the sutures. At that moment it is revealed Maseo and Tatsu saved Oliver's life. Tatsu is on the mountain for the sole purpose of saving Oliver's life.

Review

I've been waiting for this episode to air for so long! I've been following every interview and every spoiler in the hopes something amazing would tide me over. Nothing did but all the articles were a lot of fun detailing upcoming plots (Roy's history, Laurel becoming Black Canary, Felicity considering her future, the eventuality of Ra's coming up against Team Arrow, etc.)

This episode was fantastic from start to finish. The show focused on what a team is without its leader and whether or not they could even be a team without Oliver. The moments leading up to the reveal Oliver was dead were flawless. Each character showed how worried they were about every second Oliver stayed gone. Even Felicity who kept declaring he was alive was close to her breaking point as she trembled every time she said it. Roy seemed the most closed off and kept waiting to here the bad news he knew was coming. After all the blows he's suffered he has little to be optimistic about.

The best moment of the episode for me was when Malcolm entered the Foundry for the second time to inform the team of Oliver's death. John Barrowman had promised the scene would show how Malcolm felt about Oliver. I think it did. I felt it showed Malcolm's regret and his own grief at having lost Oliver. Sure he betrayed him and sent him to die but I think he expected Oliver to win. He wanted Oliver to win. I think John Barrowman played that scene flawlessly and I believed he was upset. At the same time Felicity attacked him for his role and he apologized to Felicity profusely stating he could see how much she loved Oliver.

To me, that was the epitome of the episode. There was this moment when the villain seemed upset and had to look at Felicity and state he took the blame for it even though he wouldn't change it. After having lost his own wife, I felt you could see how he didn't want to be that guy. He didn't want to tell her Oliver was dead and I think for a second you could see the man Malcolm Merlyn used to be. I have to wonder, as a character, if Malcolm thought of that phone call he got from his wife when she was bleeding out on the street.

The episode introduced a strong villain and I cannot wait to see the Team (?) go after him. Brick has just released countless thugs onto the streets and now Arsenal, Black Canary, and Dig have to take them out. It's going to be tough without Oliver and maybe impossible in the long run. Who can say.

I felt the most organic reaction to Oliver's death (or the most relatable) was Felicity's. She didn't really ever breakdown and start sobbing but she was the most visibly effected. She was the one who lost a man she cared about deeply. He had just told her he loved her and she had to wrestle with the fact the man she thought would always come home didn't. She got upset and trembled and finally quit when she felt she couldn't handle losing anyone else. I thought it was a flawless portrayal. Grief isn't always pretty and it's not always about crying. Sometimes it's about anger or worry. Sometimes it's something different.

I cannot wait for next week with the true introduction of the Black Canary. I cannot wait for Thea to find out more. I also cannot wait for them to deal a little more with Oliver. I imagine with that kind of wound he'll be laid up for a bit as he heals up enough to return home. It is sad he can't find a phone or a computer or something to contact his team.

Episode: A

Next week: Midnight City--January 28, 2015 @ 8pm ET

Discussion--Television: Shows I Always Watch New

There are so many options when it comes to television nowadays and sometimes it is hard to make decisions about what gets watched. What is a priority? What show can I absolutely not miss? What show makes me dread a hiatus and curse the fact it is cable and not netflix meaning I have to wait a week (WEEK!) for a new episode? Well it's a relatively short list, in reality. I really thought about it. Which shows can I simply not miss? Well I figured on a lot but ended up with 5 absolutes and 2 most of the time shows.

My plan is to discuss the shows, basic summaries, and the best/worst episodes of the season. I'd also like to touch on improvement vs. loss of interest and hopes for the future.

Once Upon a Time--Season 4
Best Episode This Season: Heroes and Villains
Worse Episode This Season: Shattered Sight
Best Scene: Belle and Rumple--End of Heroes and Villains
Worst Scene: Ingrid's End--Shattered Sight

Okay so I've really loved this show since the beginning and I tune it week after week. I'm an avid spoiler follower and watch various blogs for new on-set pics and new sneak peeks. I really love the story and characters. I love spending time with Emma, Hook, Regina, etc. and I am always looking forward to the creator's handling of such an iconic character list. I was one of the few viewers okay with the Neverland arc with Season Three and I was ambivalent towards the Zelena arc towards the end. I was totally on board with the major death in Season Three and the introduction of new characters (**cough** Robin Hood **cough**). 

Then Season Four happened. While I still love the show and watch every week, I think this show entered its weakest arc. I was completely put off by the Snow Queen Arc. I loved Frozen and I really adored how they handled Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff. I really enjoyed all those characters brought to the table. I just hated Ingrid. I really wanted to turn off the tv every time she entered the scene. I like Elizabeth Mitchell too but for some reason it irked me. Then the creators delivered the weak episode "Shattered Sight" which contained the big villainous triumph only to end with the defeat (?) of Ingrid and an unsatisfactory ending. At the same time it made the entire arc silly and unnecessary.

However, I am totally looking forward to the Three Witches (?) arc in the second half featuring the wonderful Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella. Seriously give me more one-lines from Cruella and I may have found my new favorite character.  

At the same time some of the strongest character moments happened during this lackluster arc. Regina's pain surrounding loving a married man (Robin) was palpable, You felt that pain and you wanted to see her success. I know I did. I loved the moments spent with Belle, from her inner self telling her about her doubts surrounding her marriage to her actually handling her marriage in an amazingly emotional scene in "Heroes and Villains". It was flawless. Watching Killian confess his sins in a voicemail to stop Emma from giving up who she was only for it to be deleted by Rumple was just so sad. The character moments were just so...delightful and surprising.

I'm loving this show through the good and the bad but I can only hope the show finds its rhythm again.

Arrow--Season Three
Best Episode This Season: The Brave and the Bold
Worst Episode This Season: Draw Back Your Bow
Best Scene This Season: Oliver admits why he's not openly grieving Sara--Sara
Worst Scene This Season: Oliver's death--The Climb

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Arrow and I wait impatiently every single week for more episodes and more spoilers. I love the characters and how the show tackles interesting concepts such as identity and the wearing of masks. I love how it shows the development of characters and how heroes are not simply born. I typically love the villains and hope each season continues to best the previous. So far, I think it has.

This season tackled such big issues. Episode One saw the death of the Canary with her murder investigation trailing throughout the rest of the season. Episode One saw the beginning and almost end of a relationship "Olicity". Episode One saw Oliver wrestling with his identity (who is more important Oliver Queen or the Arrow). Episode Six saw Roy grappling with his first murder and his fear of being abandoned. Episode Eight covered Oliver's lack of humanity and questionable decisions next to the positive, moral Flash. Finally Episode Nine covered a hero's death and the (what I think) answer to Oliver's identity question in episode one.

The creator has said for awhile this season was about identity. Who is more important Oliver or the Arrow? Does Felicity exist outside of the Foundry? Is Laurel her own person or her sister? Is Dig a man following a crusade or is it his crusade? Is Thea a Queen or a Merlyn? I think a lot of these questions have already been answered but I could not begin to say if the creators feel this way. I think "The Climb" signified Oliver answering the question of identity. Oliver Queen is the more important entity. The Arrow did not go to meet Ra's al Ghul. Oliver Queen did. The Arrow did not answer Merlyn's threat to hand over Thea to the League. Oliver Queen did. I think the fact Oliver said goodbye vs. the Arrow speaks volumes. I imagine the second half of the season will see Oliver pursuing his life for once. Perhaps a relationship with Felicity will come about. Perhaps we will see him dealing with his future in a much more concrete way.

The one downside to the season has been the lack of interesting secondary characters. Arrow has, in the past, generated such an amazing background cast that kept things interesting. We had characters like China White, Walter Steele, Tommy Merlyn, and the Huntress in season one. We had characters like Amanda Waller, Sin, Nyssa al Ghul, and Isabel Rochev. These characters had back stories and played important roles in the evolution of our characters. This season we've been given Ray Palmer, a douchy DJ, Masao, and Ted Grant. Other than the douchy DJ, there has been a lot of potential for these characters. Instead we've gotten glimpses of them and been told how important they are without any proof. When was the last time we saw Ted Grant? When was the last time Masao brought anything to the table other than "I know you Oliver...mumble mumble...stuff happened"? When was the last time (or the first time) Ray Palmer added anything other than unnecessary conflict? These characters had such potential and instead have been wasted.

I'm eagerly awaiting the three episodes after "The Climb" to see how the show handles such a cliffhanger. I'm expecting some amazing emotional scenes and hopefully the clueless characters will finally get a clue.

Side note: Where is Lance? He's barely in the show anymore and I miss him.

The Flash--Season One
Best Episode: Flash vs. Arrow
Worst Episode: Power Outage
Best Scene: Barry takes out a tornado--Pilot
Worst Scene: Pick a Harrison Wells end scene--Almost any episode

I was super excited for this show this year after my love of the Arrow. I absolutely adored the two episode introduction to Barry Allen in Season Two of Arrow and could not wait to see how the show fleshed out. I'll admit I was somewhat hesitant when it came to some of the initial plot points. I worry when a show digs themselves into a relationship minefield like Arrow did with Oliver/Laurel in the beginnings of Arrow. Sometimes you just can't commit to something like that until you see how the actors play off of each other (I see you Caitlin/Barry supporters).

So here's the thing, the show is awesome. It really is. It takes all the superhero stuff of Arrow (powers now!) and adds some more light-hearted fun. Arrow is a dark show. The Flash is a light show. It was never made more clear than when Oliver, in the crossover episode, said "Barry... you live in Central City where it's sunny all the time, and your enemies get cute nicknames. You're not in Central City." It's true. At the end of the day in Arrow, people die. So far The Flash has almost everyone making it out with barely an injury and often times brings people back from near death. It's a different sort of show and I really enjoy it.

The characters are great and the guys behind the show really have an understanding of set-up. Like Arrow, the Flash relies on trios. In Arrow there is John, Felicity, and Oliver. In the Flash there is Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry. Even with other characters dancing in and out like Lance/Joe, Laurel/Iris, Wells/Malcolm, the viewer knows who the core is. The show is built around these three people as they move forward and face these major changes. We see them reeling from varying tragedies and watch as Barry's crusade becomes their crusade. We see how Barry wanting to save the city inspires something in two people who were barely coasting through life after the tragic events preceding the pilot. We also see the moment when Barry and Co. realize this is not a game. People are going to get hurt and sacrifices will need to be made. Loss will happen no matter how sunny it is.

The strength really lies in the believably of the characters. Unfortunately for the Flash it has a character I care little about and rarely want to see on screen. Yes, Dr. Wells, I mean you! I'm not a fan of shady characters. I like ambiguous characters who have mysterious motives. I am, however, not a fan of watching shady characters do shady things for 10 episodes. I am also not a fan of the actor making 'villainous' poses randomly for the sake of intrigue. This character irks me to no end and I care very little for any and all of his scenes.

As a side note, the whole Iris thing bears consideration. I think she's stronger than Arrow's Laurel but so far if they took her out, same show. Seriously she's almost unnecessary.

I cannot wait for it to come back though.

Scorpion--Season One

Best Episode: Dominoes
Worst Episode: Risky Business
Best Scene: Walter spending time with Ralph--Forget Me Nots
Worst Scene: Pretty much anything with Drew


I was really on the fence with this show from the day they announced it had been picked up. It sounded a little too much like NCIS or CSI and I cannot stand those shows. I also heard comparisons to the Big Bang Theory and finally caved to add it on my "Consideration pile". Lucky for Scorpion it had zero competition since I do not watch anything else Monday nights at 9pm.

I really, really, really enjoy this show and sometimes I'm still surprised. I sit there week after week and just wonder why this show is so awesome. The funny thing about it is my absolute distaste for high stakes intrigue where characters become lost in the "which terroristic group is blowing stuff up this week" storylines. What is lovely is how we get the terrible intrigue moments I hate but the characters are not sacrificed. I love the characters and how organic it seems when they react certain ways. I never feel like they break character and I thank the writers every time I watch the show.

I love how the show has taken what is clearly going to be a romance and fleshed it out between Walter and Paige. He has feelings for her but he doesn't understand them. He has feelings (paternal) for her son Ralph and doesn't quite know what to do with them. He wants Ralph to have the best chance in life and is willing to say goodbye to them if he has to. At the same time Paige is starting to show her feelings and is wrestling with what that could mean for her and Ralph is she acted on them. I love that it is not a main focus but a decent secondary arc in the background.

If I had to issue a complaint about the show I would most certainly highlight the intrigue of the week. I absolutely hate how 'big' each problem is. It's not just a hacker. It's a hacker who broke out of prison and is being used by foreign terrorists to do terroristic things. It's not just a robbery. It's a robbery compounded with multiple bombings, death, and some destruction. It's never simple but rather a whole to do. I hate that.

Mom--Season Two
Best Episode: Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale
Worst Episode: Crazy Eyes and a Wet Brad Pitt
Best Scene: Christy Admits to Being Abused by Violet's Father
Worst Scene: Pretty much anything from "Crazy Eyes and a Wet Brad Pitt"

I was really taken with this show last year and I could not wait for season two to come on. The show follows a dysfunctional family dealing with life. Bonnie and Christy (mother and daughter) are both recovering alcoholics and are wrestling with making their lives better. In season one, Christy's teenage daughter got pregnant. The three women are really the crux of the show as each generation tries to better the next one. There are distinct parallels through their lives as all three had no father figure. All three grew up in shitty conditions. All three got pregnant as teenagers.

The show deals with all sorts of issues amongst the main group as well as secondary characters. They have discussed addiction, depression, giving a baby up for adoption, abandonment, abuse, death, cancer, etc. as each character faces different situations.

I think it is a show that has the power to keep growing. It is so funny and it deals with real life which makes it a pretty good winner in the long run. It's got a great cast and is willing to play with some questionable storylines. I do, however, hope the show will loosen itself on the issues. Sometimes the show feels like 'issue of the week' instead of just a story about this family. Maybe if they just fell back a little bit from the issues it would be an even better show.

Now the Three Most of the Time Shows

Girl Meets World--Season One
Best Episode: Girl Meets Home for the Holidays
Worst Episode: Girl Meets World of Terror
Best Scene: Shawn confronts Katy about her missing Maya's birthday
Worst Scene: Anything with Ava

I was a total fan of Boy Meets World when it was on almost fifteen years ago (or maybe fifteen years ago...). I loved almost every episode and watch the DVDs or repeats when I can. I think it was such a great show about growing up. The show wasn't just about one person, rather a group of friends as they went from 11-early 20s. They went through middle school, high school, and college and dealt with all of the issues they could.

Now 15 years later it is Cory and Topanga's daughter's turn to discover the world. Riley is 12/13 and is taking New York by storm as she heads into middle school. Armed with best friend Maya (think female Shawn), the two set out to find themselves as they grow up. There's Farkle (Minkus) and Lucas (the love interest) along for the ride. On top of that the story follows Cory as he teaches history at Riley's school and Topanga, now a lawyer.

The show has found the perfect balance between creating a new show but honoring the old show. Old characters show up regularly from Shawn to Cory's parents to Harley Keiner to Feeny. The show honors old moments from discussing how Shawn fell in love with Angela by digging through her purse to Topanga remembering the flower child she was in season one of BMW. They reference old moments and old choices while making them relevant as Riley tries to figure out how she fits in the world around her.

It's a great show but it does deal with the difference between ABC primetime and fluffy Disney Channel. Sometimes the show gets lost in the colorful shenanigans prevalent in Disney Channel shows. BMW had sad moments and moments that were heartbreaking but GMW takes hard issues and makes them light and fluffy. To me it was unbelievable to watch Farkle get bullied and the bully just gave up and apologized randomly. That hardly ever happens. It's a serious issue and it was handled like a preschool story. It just bummed me out.

I like the show and I tune in every week but I do struggle with how things are handled. Hopefully the show will find its footing at some point and stabilize.

Elementary--Season Three
Best Episode: The Eternity Injection
Worst Episode: Just a Regular Irregular
Best Scene: Sherlock confesses his struggle with Sobriety--The Eternity Injection
Worst Scene: Pretty Much the Entire "Just a Regular Irregular"episode

I've been a fan of this show since it got picked up as a pilot almost 4 years ago. I loved Johnny Lee Miller in Eli Stone years ago and I was fascinated to see how it would play out. Plus a female Watson?! Score. Also a female Watson played by Lucy Liu?! Score! So I was totally onboard.

I really loved season one so much and I rewatch episodes here and there when I have time. Season Two was pretty good but it had its weak points. The think is this season is really weak in my opinion. I'm not anti-Kitty Winter and actually like the character but I do not like what the introduction of her character has done for the show. Sherlock and Joan are barely working together or on the same page anymore. They don't seem to be partners anymore. It seems more like two people solving 'crimes' with sometimes ambiguous endings. And now with Sherlock making Kitty his partner and Joan his associate...it feels wrong.

I'm just kind of bummed about how they're handling the story right now. Sure I'll tune in and keep watching but I'm just bummed all around.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Discussion--Television: Midseason Review Schedule


I'm a regular television watcher. In fact I spend a lot of time every week watching YouTube videos, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, and good old fashioned cable.  I started keeping track this year of everything I watch and I came to some interesting conclusions.

My television viewing habits are changing a lot. It used to be I watched one schedule per night. If I watched "Gilmore Girls" then I didn't watch anything else on in that timeslot. That meant I would wait for the other show to go into syndication OR I would pick up the DVD at some point. That was an expensive habit but effective.

As television has morphed into a much more digital endeavor I've found myself enjoying more shows and giving up shows I thought I'd never say goodbye to. I have a middle ground too where I read recaps but wait on actual watching. I also have shows I wish I'd given up or shows I really want to watch. I have classics on my backburner. I have DVDs waiting for some love.

So what am I doing exactly? Well through Feb 5th I will be posting about my television habits and I encourage all of you to comment back and tell me what is on your varying lists.  The Schedule, as follows.

Thursday January 22--Shows I Make Sure to See
Friday January 23--Shows I Follow Casually (If I Miss...eh)
Sunday January 25--Shows I Follow Via Recap
Monday January 26--Shows I've Given Up
Thursday January 29--Shows I Should Have Given Up
Friday January 30--Shows On Hulu/Neflix
Sunday February 1--Shows on DVD I Need to Get To
Monday February 2--Shows I Should Watch Even Though I Don't Want To
Thursday February 5--New Shows I'm Considering for Midseason/Summer 2015

After that everything should revert back to book reviews with occasional musings, television reviews, discussions, etc.