Category Archives: television

Visiting Downton

downton_abbey_16qqbi5-16qqbk5A couple of weeks ago, I decided I’d give in to the Downton Abbey craze and catch up with the first two seasons before season three begins on Jan. 6. I hadn’t seen it before, but both my parents love it. The fact that my dad is crazy over a period British drama amuses me.

I finally finished watching it yesterday and I’ve come to the conclusion I need my own ladies’ maid and butler. And cook. Possibly also a footman or two. Ah hell, while I’m at it why not throw in a chauffeur? Seriously though, the whole life of the British nobility in this time period cracks me up. What do they do all day? Sit around and embroider? Read? Attend luncheons? What really tickled my funny bone was the idea that one had to dress to the nines just to go to dinner. It actually freaked me out a little bit because I have a bad habit of wearing my dinner (my motto: “It’s not dinner till you wear it!”). I can’t imagine living in fear of ruining beautiful gowns when I eat.

And the servants have the most ridiculous tasks. One irons the newspapers before the lord reads them. As soon as the family leaves one room, a small army of maids descends upon the room to tidy up and replump the pillows. A ladies maid or valet helps the family get dressed and undressed. I wonder how many times a day they change clothes. Hell, when the heir went off to fight in World War I, he even took a manservant with him!

I’m really enjoying the series, even though I admit my favorite part is seeing what other ridiculous things (by today’s standard) the nobility and the servants do. I can’t wait for season three!

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An extremely long, rambling post about ‘Doctor Who’ series 6

I don’t usually write reviews for things. For one, I’m not very good at it. Most of the time my reaction to something is either, “Me like” or “Meh.” That said, after watching last night’s episode of “Doctor Who,” I can’t not write something. This is not going to be a review, per se, just some probably incoherent thoughts of a “Doctor Who” fangirl.

First, I’d like to preface this rambling by saying I was not a fan of series 5. I know, I know, that kind of crazy talk could get me killed at a sci-fi convention. But… I was still feeling bereft over David Tennant leaving. He was my Doctor, and he wasn’t in it anymore. Also, Donna. I really became invested in her character, and she couldn’t be in it anymore. I was put off by Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor after the first episode, and Amy bugged me to no end. She was too brass and sassy and headstrong. I know I could say the same thing of Donna, but Amy was not Donna. Amy was annoying.

Each week, I’d come away from series 5 thinking to myself, “Meh. OK story. Some funny lines. But just not the same.” It wasn’t until “Vincent and the Doctor” that I finally felt, OK, this is “Doctor Who.” The next week, it was “The Lodger,” and for the first time, I couldn’t wait for the next episode. The final two episodes were also really good, if a little non-sensical, because of the interaction between the Doctor and River Song. I had enjoyed seeing River again earlier in the season, but didn’t care much for the storyline she was in. But as a season overall, it was definitely my least favorite.

So I wasn’t looking forward to season 6 as much as I should have.

But then. But then….

Oh, “The Impossible Astronaut.” River Song. The Silence. Canton Everett Delaware III. Oh, and the Doctor dies in the first few minutes.

Hooked, line and sinker.

Just like season 6 of “Lost,” series 6 of “Doctor Who” is making me fall in love with the show all over again. The first four episodes of the new series have been absolutely stellar, and making me yearn for more of the overall series arc. Is Amy really pregnant? Who killed the Doctor? Who is River Song? Who the hell is that weird regenerating child? I need answers, dammit!

I’m not a member of the online “Doctor Who” fandom. I don’t visit forums. I don’t scour the Internets looking for spoilers. Hell, I rarely read “Doctor Who”-related articles unless it sounds interesting. So I really don’t have any idea what may happen in the next three episodes. But I’m so looking forward to them!

If you’re still reading this, you deserve a damn medal I would now like to ramble incoherently about the last couple of episodes.

The Curse of the Black Spot

Yo ho ho! The Doctor on a pirate ship. Can it get any better? (Turns out, it can…) The first viewing, I loved this episode. It was funny. I liked the pirates. I liked the Siren. I even enjoyed Amy’s swashbuckling. It was enjoyable hour of television. On the second and third viewings, I started having some problems with it.

List time!

1. How did Avery’s son get on board the ship if he didn’t know it was a pirate ship.

2. The alien ship is parked in the same place as the pirate ship? Like an alternate universe? I thought that was supposed to be impossible.

3. Why didn’t Avery, Amy and the Doctor land in the sick bay, attached to alien beds, if they were injured and taken by the Siren?

4. Crap CPR. (Oh my god, they killed Rory! You bastards!)

5. Where the hell did the boatswain go? One minute he’s piling powder kegs against the door; the next, he’s on the alien ship. We never see the Siren zap him. How did he get over there? (This could possibly be explained by shitting editing for American TV. Otherwise, damn, that’s a hell of a continuity flub.)

Even with all these plot holes, I still very much enjoyed it, more than most of series 5. It had some great moments. “Ever meet Freud? Comfy sofa…” “Cuddle me, shipmate!” “‘Toby!’ ‘Rory!’ ‘The Tardis!'” Space pirates! And another appearance by creepy eye-patch lady! Yes. Good stuff.

The Doctor’s Wife

I must confess, when I saw how excited everyone was over this episode being written by Neil Gaiman, I wondered what the fuss was about. This is where I admit I’ve never read anything by Gaiman. Yes, I know. I should be flogged. When I saw the preview and learned of the episode title, I wasn’t really that excited for it. Junkyard planet. Frazzled-looking mystery woman. Meh. I figured this would be one of those episodes I probably wouldn’t watch again, like “The Idiot’s Lantern.”

Oh, how I was wrong.

I went into the episode with some trepidation. Who the hell was this woman who was supposedly the Doctor’s “wife”? At first I figured it would be something the Doctor accidentally fell into, sort of how Malcolm Reynolds “accidentally” married Saffron in “Firefly.” Nope. Not even close.

Allow me to illustrate my reaction to the first few minutes of the show:

The Tardis! Is the Doctor’s wife! Holy crap! Genius! Why didn’t I think of this before! Doctor/Tardis OTP FOREVER!

There was so, so much about this episode to love! Allow me to make another list:

1. THE DOCTOR’S WIFE IS THE TARDIS!

2. There’s an Ood!

3. She calls him “My thief!”

4. The Doctor: Ooh, sorry, do you have a name?
Idris/The Tardis: 700 years, finally he asks.
The Doctor: But what do I call you?
Idris/The Tardis: I think you call me…Sexy.
The Doctor: Only when we’re alone!

5. “Biting is like kissing, only there’s a winner.”

6. Time Lords changing gender is CANON, bitches!

7. The Doctor: She’s a woman and she’s the Tardis.
Amy: Did you wish really hard?

8. “I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.”

9. Tardis corridors! TEN’S CONSOLE!

10. Rory “dies.” AGAIN.

11. Idris/Tardis: There’s something I didn’t get to say to you.
The Doctor: Goodbye?
Idris/Tardis: No, I just wanted to say… hello. Hello, Doctor. It’s so very, very nice to meet you.

12. “The only water in the forest is the river.”

Oh my god! How can so much deliciousness fit into one 45-minute episode? I don’t… I can’t even…

*deep, calming breath*

OK. So. Now for some speculation that will probably be proven totally wrong. It’s funny. I usually have a knack for figuring out plots in books and TV shows. (Totally called the last Harry Potter book.) But with “Doctor Who,” all bets are totally off.

“The only water in the forest is the river.”

This seems to have something to do with River Song. But it’s almost too obvious. But let’s say it is. Who is River? Is she the Doctor’s real wife? Who did she kill? The Doctor? Someone else? Who? I don’t even know. But it’s odd, some of these word choices. The first time we met River Song was in “Silence in the Library.” The big bad in the first two episodes was called “The Silence.” Hmmm. “Silence in the Library” was a two-parter, with the second one called “Forest of the Dead.” “The only water in the forest is the river.” HMMMM…

Could River be Amy’s maybe-possible daughter? She did say the Doctor came into her life knowing everything about her, but that may just be because they meet back-to-font. She does know how to pilot that Tardis. But then there’s that creepy eye-patch lady Amy keeps seeing. She’s said two lines. The first, “No, I think she’s just dreaming,” and the second, seemingly to Amy directly, “It’s fine. You’re doing fine. Just stay calm.” Then she disappears.

Donna Noble had all kinds of alternate universes popping up around her, and now it’s as if the same thing is happening to Amy. There was the alternate universe where there were no stars; the one where Amy never met the Doctor; the alternate universe alien ship; the bubble universe where the Tardis became human. Is the eye-patch lady some kind of cosmic midwife for Amy’s child, who could very well be affected by being conceived in the Tardis and traveling through space/time? Is Amy living all of this in an alternate reality? I really hope that’s a red herring, because it seems so over-done, to have everything be a dream-sequence.

I feel like we’ve been given a bunch of clues we’ve not caught onto yet. Everything so far this season seems to be related in some way. For example, the Time Lord message the Doctor received was from the Corsair. A corsair is a pirate. They were just on a pirate ship. Maybe it’s just a big coincidence.

And what really makes Amy so special? It can’t be just because of the crack in her wall, not after everything we’ve seen. The Silence said she was needed. She may or may not be pregnant. Hell, for all we know, maybe Amy is the real Prisoner Zero. MOFFAT! STOP FUCKING WITH MY HEAD!

And finally (are you still reading this?) who is the regenerating little girl? River? Amy? Amy’s daughter? The daughter of the Master and his wife, as some have speculated? I have decided on my own theory:


Next week, another two-parter, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People.” So my burning question for the moment is, how will Rory die next week?

(Feel free to leave your theories in the comments. Just because I don’t go looking for them doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear anyone else’s theories!)

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Getting to know ‘The Tudors’

I spent the recent 4th of July weekend watching nothing but British television. I started out the morning watching “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” ate lunch while watching (yet again) reruns of “Doctor Who” on BBC America and finished the day off watching season 1 of “The Tudors.” (OK, so, “The Tudors” isn’t exactly British television, but it’s close enough.)

Anne Boleyn — what's a little historical inaccuracy compared to ratings?

I’ve always been fascinated with English history (more so than American history *yawn*), but never to the point of actually wanting to know more. Until Showtime premiered its new series back in 2007, dramatizing the life of King Henry VIII and his six wives. I knew the basic story of course, that King Henry, in his desperate attempt to have a son, broke with the Catholic Church in order to divorce his wife and marry another woman, whose head he chopped off three years later. But I never really knew the details or much of anything about his other four wives.

Of course, watching a Showtime program isn’t the best way to learn what really happened. When the series first began, I devoured all the Wikipedia entries for Henry and his six wives. Wikipedia isn’t the most trustworthy source of information, but I find it to be a good starting point to learn about things I didn’t know before. For instance, by the time the series had introduced Henry’s sister, Princess Margaret, I had already learned that he actually had two sisters, Princess Mary and Princess Margaret. I guess the writers thought the show already had too many Marys because Princess Mary got written out of the show completely, and Princess Margaret was given her role. In history, Princess Margaret married King James IV of Scotland and would become the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. In “The Tudors,” Princess Margaret married the king of Portugal, smothered him, then married the king’s friend Charles Brandon without his permission. In reality, Princess Mary married Louis XII of France, became a widow three months later, and then married Charles Brandon in secret, eventually becoming the grandmother of Lady Jane Grey. (Both granddaughters were later, of course, beheaded.)

Yikes. Talk about artistic license.

But despite the gross historical inaccuracies of “The Tudors” (like 16th century women were really that clean-shaven), my parents and I became engrossed in the show. And it led me to want to learn not only more about the lives (and deaths) of Henry’s six wives, but also what really happened, as opposed to what Showtime’s interpretation of the events were. So I bought a book. My first non-fiction book in… well, ever. A 650+ monstrosity of a book. And I devoured it. And I bought more non-fiction books, The Children of Henry VIII and The Life of Elizabeth I. Which led to more curiosity about the royal family in the Middle Ages and the purchase of The Princes in the Tower, with more books put on my Amazon wish list.

It became a little ritual between my mother and myself that, after watching the latest episode of “The Tudors,” she would ask me, “OK, what really happened?” And, armed with my new-found knowledge, I could tell her. I think I now know more about Tudor history than I do about the history of my own country(ies).

Sadly, we had to give up Showtime before season four of “The Tudors” aired, but the DVDs will follow eventually. My parents and I will watch, and then I’ll tell them how it really went down.

As historically inaccurate as “The Tudors” may be, it opened up a door to an era of history that I didn’t I would be so fascinated by, and gave me an opportunity to learn something new.

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An obituary for ‘Lost’

‘Lost’

Sept. 22, 2004 — May 23, 2010

“Lost,” age six seasons, passed away with dignity on the evening of May 23, 2010. Memorial services were held a half hour later on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” with Jimmy Kimmel officiating. Special music was performed by Michael Giacchino. There will be no burial as its body of work has been donated to the Internet for extensive study.

Born Sept. 22, 2004, “Lost” was the brainchild of Damon Lindelof, J. J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber and Carlton Cuse, et al., all of whom survive, unlike most of their characters.

“Lost” has captivated, confused, irritated and infuriated millions of viewers the world over. We, its family of fans, have laughed with Hurley; loved with Jin and Sun; contemplated life, the universe and everything with Jack and Locke; hated on Kate; and drooled over shirtless Sawyer. We’ve flashed back, flashed forward and even flashed sideways, but unfortunately, never flashed by Sayid. (Drat.) We’ve been thrown for loops, made speechless, gasped in shock and blown away (but not literally, like Arzt and Ilana).

“Lost” leaves a legacy of life lessons: live together, die alone; it’s never too late for a second chance; no man (or woman) is an island; DUI charges will get you killed off; never mess with unstable dynamite.

In addition to its creators, “Lost” is survived by Elizabeth Mitchell of “V,” Ian Somerhalder of “The Vampire Diaries,” Daniel Dae Kim of “Hawaii 5-O,” sibling series “Fringe,” also created by Abrams, and the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.

It was preceded in death by the Dharma Initiative, most of the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, a host of Others, Jacob, the Man in Black, “Felicity” and “Alias.”

In lieu of flowers, the producers ask that memorial donations be made in the form of DVD preorders.

ABC Studios was in charge of the arrangements.

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Quick Take: ‘Lost’

It's not a good-bye. It's a see you later.

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILDER FOR THE “LOST” FINALE!!

I had to get this all down before I went to sleep. This is my quick take on the finale of “Lost.”

“Lost” was Jack’s story. It wasn’t about the island, it was about Jack and the people he came into contact with. Which is why we didn’t get any answers as to what the island really was. Because that didn’t matter. It was about redemption, which everyone on Oceanic Flight 815 needed. So when Jack found redemption, and he died, that was the end of the story.

The island was real. Everything that happened there, happened. Sideways world was a staging area for the Losties after they died. It didn’t matter when they died. In season 1 or years from now as old men and women, when they died, they all collectively went to this waiting area because they were all so closely bound in life. Death is a little bumpy, so they needed to help each other remember so they could all move on as a family.

Even though really none of the mysteries of the island were solved, I am at peace with the show and am pleased with the ending.

Though I do wish it weren’t over.

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I don’t need all the answers on ‘Lost’

“It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.” — Juliet Burke, “The Other Woman”

Oh, Juliet. If you think being an Other is stressful, try being a member of the viewing audience. For six long seasons, we’ve laughed, cried, scratched our heads and been utterly, well, lost with “Lost.” But the long journey both the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 and we as an audience have endured will finally be over this Sunday, when the two and a half hour finale airs on ABC.

Make all the jokes you want, I'm still going to miss seeing shirtless Sawyer on my TV every week.

When “Lost” premiered in 2004, it earned a ratings record with 18.6 million viewers. It was also the most expensive television pilot ever made, which probably helped draw in many of those viewers. I was not one of them. I don’t remember the reason why I did not watch the pilot episode, but I heard so much about it the day after it aired and of the next two episodes, I decided to give it a go when ABC aired a mini-marathon a couple of weeks later.

I was hooked. Plane crashes, polar bears, underground hatches, a monster in the jungle, and a ragtag band of survivors who were all mysteriously connected lured me in and caught me hook, line and sinker. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. And I loved every minute of it. For the first season at least.

But serial programs take commitment. And with a plot with more twists and turns than a back mountain road, trying to keep up with “Lost” became something of a chore by the time season four rolled around. The writers’ strike didn’t help either and I think “Lost” lost a little bit of its magic after having such a long hiatus between seasons three and four. There came a point where there were just too many characters and two many subplots to keep up with. Thank goodness for the Internet and for fans more dedicated than I. Without them, I don’t know if I could have kept watching.

By season five, the show was really starting to drag. I almost gave up on it, but knowing that the show only had one season left made me keep watching. I had invested way too much time and brain power to give up so close to the end. And I’m glad I didn’t. Because the final season has been spectacular. It may be because we know it’s ending that we tune in eagerly every week now and secretly wish it wouldn’t end, despite the disappointment of earlier seasons.

And now, after six long years, “Lost” fans the world over will tune in this Sunday to see how it all ends — and hopefully get some answers in the process. The mysteries of the island were what kept many of us tuning in year after year, and many of those mysteries have been explained, or half-explained, this season. Of course, in those explanations, more questions are raised, but it wouldn’t be “Lost” otherwise.

There have been many, many blog posts this season listing all the unanswered questions that have yet to be answered, and while I have a few myself, I’ve resolved myself to not be disappointed in the ending. Not every question needs an answer. I don’t need to know what, exactly, the golden light at the heart of the island is. I can live without knowing why women can’t give birth on the island. I even don’t really know why the numbers are so important. I accept the fact that the island is a place where mysterious things happen. I accept the allegorical good vs. evil plot. I accept that many things won’t be explained.

I know that the final episode won’t please many of the hardcore fans because of all the questions it won’t answer. But personally, I’m not worried about that. The most I’m hoping for is a satisfying ending to a show that has left me lost and confused and loving almost every minute of it. I will be unplugging the telephone Sunday night so I can sit back and enjoy the final episode without interruption, hoping the creators of “Lost” end this phenomenon in a satisfying manner that doesn’t involve one of the characters waking up in bed at the end with Suzanne Pleshette.

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What happened to Doctor Who’s originality?

If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge “Doctor Who” fan. Though still a relative newbie to the show, I’ve watched the revised series enough times to have whole chunks of it memorized and I’ve been renting as many of the old ones as I can.

I cried buckets when David Tennant left the show. I loved him and I think he will always be my favorite Doctor, but I was pretty gung-ho to see Matt Smith in the role when it premiered last weekend. I loved the story so much that I was willing to give the new guy as well as his writers a chance.

I'd hit the 'forget' button too if I had to walk around covered in vomit.

The first episode, “The Eleventh Hour,” was OK. Not brilliant, but not bad. It served its purpose in introducing us to the Eleventh Doctor and his new companion, Amy Pond. Smith’s version of the Doctor seems slightly more insane than Tennant’s, and I’m still trying to work out whether or not that’s a good thing. Karen Gillan is cute as a button, but her character, Amy… well, I don’t really like her. But then, I hated Donna when I first met her, and by the end, she was my favorite of all the Doctor’s companions. So I’ll keep an open mind.

The second episode, “The Beast Below,” really threw me, though. With “Doctor Who,” I want to see new and exciting things, but with this episode, the story was just too familiar. I expected more from writer Steven Moffat, who gave us the much-loved “Blink.”

The things that bothered me were first, the obvious Star Wars references. Normally, I love it when shows reference Star Wars, but not this one. “Doctor Who” is its own phenomenon. It doesn’t need pop-culture references. The line “Help us, Doctor, you’re our only hope” had me rolling my eyes. Then, coupled with the Doctor and Amy being shoved down the garbage chute into the waste disposal (mouth) section of the ship, even my mother said, “Well, that’s right out of Star Wars, isn’t it?” Was it done on purpose? I don’t know, but I didn’t care for it.

The second thing that bothered me was that this was not a new story. It was just too much of Ursula K. Le Guin’s story, “The One Who Walk Away From Omelas.” In “Omelas,” Le Guin introduces us to an almost-Utopian society whose inhabitants, upon coming of age, are told that “the good fortune of Omelas requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery.” Instead of being offered a choice of forgetting, most of the population of Omelas come to terms with the fact that their perfect society requires the sacrifice of one child. Those who don’t walk away.

In “The Beast Below,” the citizens of Starship UK are shown that their society is dependent on the enslavement and torture of a star whale, a benevolent creature and the last of its kind. But most of them choose to forget, though subconsciously, they know something is wrong.

There was just too much similarity to the two stories, and others with the same theme, such as “The Lottery,” for me to really enjoy it for what it was supposed to be — the first real adventure of the Doctor and Amy.

But I’m far from giving up on this season. We still have the return of the Weeping Angels and River Song to look forward to. I’m just disappointed in how this season has begun.

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