If You Like…Doctor Who

British fantasy/sci-fi has easily become one of my favorite genres. For some reason they seem to be quirkier, cleverer, more long-lasting than many of their America counterparts (at least on broadcast TV). It’s unfortunate really, because the genre is a way of exploring humanity by taking it to its extremes. Anyway, if you enjoy Doctor Who (as you should), there tons of other shows you should be watching.

First, a quick explanation about Doctor Who: The show follows the Doctor, supposedly the last of his kind, the Time Lords, as he travels through time and space along with a companion or two. He fights alien creatures, protects Earth, and changes time for the better (when possible). Always with a joke. This is the most basic explanation of course, because the show gets infinitely more complicated from there.

Torchwood– this is one of the more obvious shows to watch if you like Doctor Who and if you watch one you have likely seen the other. It’s a spin off following Captain Jack Harkness, introduced in the first season of the 2005 reboot as he runs a branch of Torchwood, an organization established in Doctor Who to help protect the Earth from aliens. Jack is fun and easy to follow in much the same way as the doctor is, with the added bonus that he never changes his face. (John Barrowman is thought to be the British Neil Patrick Harris–he can sing, dance, act, he’s an out gay actor, etc.) This series is also meant to be getting something of a reboot to make it a bit more international-friendly.

The Sarah Jane Adventures– this is another obvious choice for those who follow Doctor Who, though it is geared more towards children, with mostly kids as the main characters in addition to Sarah Jane (a former companion to the doctor) herself. (There is said to be a spin off of this as well, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files, but I’m not clear on how this show would actually work.)

Moving beyond Doctor Who’s world, there is still a great deal of British TV to check out-

Merlin– easily my favorite non-Doctor Who show from England, this show follows Merlin as a child as he learns about his magic and helps ensure Arthur’s safe rise to the throne. Uther is king at the moment and has outlawed magic with the punishment of death, so Merlin must save Arthur in secret to avoid detection. This is a clever rewriting of who Morgan Le Fay (Morgana in the series) and Guinievere, as well as the Knights of the Round Table are. I like that the show went the less obvious route, focusing more on Merlin than on Arthur himself. Behind every great king is…a manservant?

Being Human– this show has actually just been picked up by Syfy, so it will be coming to America quite soon. It is about a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost who are trying to come to terms with their…conditions and find their places in the human world. This isn’t my favorite of British series, but it is still interesting and deals particularly with some fascinating issues.

Misfits– Five teens are sentenced to community service for their various wrongdoings when a freak storm hits and they get special abilities. This is a bizarre coming of age story for the group, where they are forced to learn to use their powers and on occasion kill with them to protect themselves. Easily one of the grittiest of shows I’ve seen, it would not likely be allowed on broadcast TV in the US.

Primeval– Nick Cutter and his team of scientists investigate creatures that come through time-space rifts and threaten lives. I haven’t seen this one yet (it’s on my list), but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. There is news of a spin off to be geared towards a more international audience.

The Deep– another one I haven’t seen but am looking forward to, this show is about a crew aboard a research submarine that gets stranded thousands of feet below the water. This one is a bit like Stargate Universe, follow a bunch of people whose personalities clash but must pull together to get back home. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is interesting that Minnie Driver is the lead.

This one doesn’t fall into the genre at all, but I wanted to include it for the sake of Doctor Who fans. If you liked Rose Tyler a lot, you can follow the actress, Billie Piper in her newer show, Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like, following her as Belle as she tries to make money by being a call girl (because she just likes sex and that’s what she’s most qualified for) while keeping her occupation a secret from family and friends. As I said, this is an entirely different world, but still an interesting show. (And just how it sounds, there is a lot of sex in it.)

Sanctuary

>Having become a fan of Amanda Tapping from the Stargates, it seemed like it was time to check out Sanctuary. Sanctuary is one of those rare stories of success, where it started as a web-series and became so popular that Syfy decided to pick it for a show (they have since purchased the rights to Riese–which also has Amanda tapping involved though to a lesser degree–and are considering that for a show, so people start watching the web series please because it’s quite good).

Sanctuary tells the story of Dr. Helen Magnus, a 157-year-old woman who has spent her life finding, helping, and studying Abnormals–creatures that are mutated (either naturally or through science) and cannot remain in normal society. They are both not safe from others or others are not safe from them. she is primarily helped by Henry, a tech-wiz/werewolf, Big Guy (no real name) an Abnormal who was saved by Magnus and helps out around the Sanctuary, Dr. Will Zimmerman, a psychiatrist recruited for his ability to connect with and understand people, and her daughter Ashley who is their martial arts/weapons expert. (SPOILER: Ashley is later killed off–though some contend that she is not definitively dead–and replaced by Kate Freelander, a once-criminal who reforms when taken in by Magnus.)

This show is meant to be groundbreaking in its extensive use of the green screen (most of the show is shot using one) and in being the first show in North America to be filmed on RED camera (getting rid of tape and has better resolution than HD). I almost wonder if the RED camera actually hurts rather than helps them, because while the green screen effects work particularly well in some places, it is somewhat obvious in others that they are being superimposed onto a fake background. I wonder if the RED camera, with its sharper resolution, makes this more clear. Even on these occasions it doesn’t hurt the show enough to really bother me. More often than not you have to be thinking about it to notice.

The show’s weaknesses:
-Though I understand why Tapping has a British accent for the show (her character, Dr. Magnus, comes from England), it does not come off as natural. (Ironically, she was actually born in England and grew up in a very British household.) The argument is that, having lived as long as Magnus has, in as many places as she has, it would make sense that her accent is somewhat screwy, but at points it just pulls me out of the moment.
-Sometimes the show isn’t complex enough, lacks the multiple layers that make other shows more successful. This was especially true in the beginning of the series where it did not fully utilize its characters or their backgrounds. Sure, we get some good stories about Magnus’s background and a bit about the others, but we need to go deeper into them.
-It is also the relationships between them that are missing. Magnus and Ashley’s relationship, for example, should have many layers. Especially once Ashley learns about her father. But instead, we barely delve into Ashley’s feelings of betrayal before (SPOILER) she is killed off (to fan’s great anger). Even then, we don’t get nearly enough of Magnus’s grief over her loss as we should. (This is an area that most shows fail at. What I love about Grey’s and Private Practice this season is how rather than settle the emotional issues from a big event, they have carried then out to really let us watch the different characters deal with it.) We could use more than two episodes dealing with Henry’s past and his werewolf roots. Even Will’s story with how his mother died (and what’s his father’s story by the way) would be nice. And we certainly don’t know anything about Big Guy’s past besides the fact that he was not welcome by his people and what happened once he was found with bullet wounds. How did he even get shot?
-This may seem like a silly thing, but there is no question that one of the large draws of the show is Tapping. She brings with her fans from her 11 years as Sam Carter on Stargate and while she is trying to distinguish herself from that role, there is one particular place where I think she has separated herself too much: she almost never smiles. I know, that seems silly. But think of it like Julia Roberts never smiling in her films. I think Tapping’s charisma is largely in her smile, which always seems genuine and inviting. By never smiling, we lose one of the most basic ways to connect with her. (I only realized this when she smiled in an episode and I was suddenly reminded that not only had i not seen it in a while, it made her much more charming.) Interestingly, when the show was picked up, one of the things they said is they didn’t want it to be as dark, yet Tapping smiles much more in the webisodes than in the actual tv series.
-(SPOILER) Killing off Ashley was a mistake. There is no question about that. In principal I agree with the idea that killing off an important character is key to the danger element of a show where the characters are constantly being put in life-threatening situations. At the same time, I firmly believe what Yunjin Kim (Sun on Lost) pointed out in an interview once. I can’t find the exact quote but basically, she said that the moment they run out of story for a character (both their back story and their growth), they are killed off. I think this is the way to do it, so we don’t feel cheated out of something but we are connected enough to the character that we lose. The issue with killing off Ashley is that there was so much to her story that wasn’t done. (I also dislike the argument that they needed someone who was outside Magnus’s control, because let’s be honest, there’s no indication that Kate is outside her control and they could have just added Kate not replaced Ashley. The hate for Kate is more because she replaced Ashley than because of Kate herself. I’m sort of indifferent) Again we get more about Ashley in the web series than we do in the tv series.
-I don’t find it even remotely believable that Will is mission ready with no training. We had no indication that he could even shoot a gun and suddenly he’s going on dangerous missions?

For all my complaints, I do really like the show. I think it has a lot of strong points:
-They’ve built up an excellent back story for Magnus, with all the famous people she’s known and the Five. Particularly with John Druitt. The more we go into her story and her life, the more interesting she becomes. The many reveals of famous events and how they aren’t what they seemed are one of the strongest points of the show.
-Will and Magnus’s relationship, while often not delved into deeply enough, has had some great moments. Particularly the two episodes where they were trapped together with no one else to talk to. (Those were both particularly strong acting moments for Tapping, among other things.)
-Henry is also a potentially interesting character. In the episode where we deal with his transformation we get a close look at him and it is definitely one of his shining moments. The episode with him in the werewolf asylum is pretty solid too, but I think we could see more.
-The moment they brought in internal Sanctuary politics, the show hit a new stride. It made the whole thing feel multi-dimensional. (I think this threat to Magnus’s position was resolved too quickly, but I hope it isn’t the end of this storyline.)

As a whole, this show reminds me of a benevolent Torchwood (haven’t seen Primeval but people seem to compare it to that too), in that they aim to help more than hurt Abnormals. Plus it’s more science than aliens. The strength that I think this has over Torchwood is the complex characters (beyond Jack Harkness, the characters are fairly straightforward) and a bit more moral complexity.

As of yet, there has been no official word about whether or not the series has been renewed for a fourth season, but the rumors are yes. I hope so. People, start watching this show and stop boycotting it because of Ashley. I miss her too, but TV shows don’t bring characters in and out based on fan reaction and it is clear that they don’t intend to bring her back anytime soon (at least, we’re nearly done with season 3 and she’s still not around so it isn’t looking up).

The Walking Dead

EW has dubbed this the best show of 2010. Despite only six episodes, it’s already been renewed for another season (though, in truth, it was renewed after only two…) and has been a monster hit for AMC (wow that was totally not meant to be a pun). Premiering on Halloween was a gimmicky move of brilliance for AMC, though it wasn’t surprising that the ratings dropped in the week that followed. But then everyone realized that episode two still had quality and came back and the ratings picked up. By the finale (mid-season or entire year?) viewership had surpassed the premiere.

There a lot of great things about this show, though I don’t love it the way Entertainment Weekly seems to. I think my main problem is I don’t actually care about Rick and he’s the main character. I sort of feel like he lacks dimension.

The show follows Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gunshot wound to find the world he knew in utter chaos. Zombies (called walkers and geeks) have taken over the Earth. Well, taken over is perhaps given them a little too much credit, seeing as they are totally non-sentient and only care about eating–human flesh. All that’s left are small bunches of of survivors, scavenging what’s left to survive. And Rick Grimes is desperate to find his wife and son.

Of course, the strongest part of the show is that though Zombies are a huge (and surprisingly interesting) part of the story, it’s more about the relationships–between Rick and his wife, Rick and his partner, and amongst the various survivors. I’m glad that the writers realize how important that is, since it is surprising how many shows–sci fi in particular–fall into the trap of thinking more about their special effects than their characters. It’s amazing how much politics can revolve around the simple fact of survival (it sort of reminds me of Stargate Universe in that way, people desperate to survive and fighting amongst themselves when they need to stick together simply because too many people think too much of themselves or cannot shed old and defunct prejudices). That being said, there are some characters that I wish we could have seen more of. Mostly Amy and even Merle for all his stupidness (though I suppose we will see more of him soon enough because you know he’s not dead and I also suppose you could argue that his brother is basically the same as having him). The most upsetting loss was Amy, particularly because we’d just seen her bonding with her sister and getting to know her character. I care less about seeing her sister fight her grief than i did seeing them bond (that fishing scene and that necklace scene were fantastic) because it felt like we were only just getting to see how much they cared for each other. I also hope they reveal to Rick the relationship he had with Rick’s wife. That would be interesting.

It’s surprising how far the storyline has come in only six episodes. It feels like a ton has happened, almost as though things are being rushed along. It would be nice to have an episode or two that are a little quieter, to let us see more about the people we care about and get to care about others (think how Lost had all those background characters so that there were excess people to kill, but how we all came to know and love Bernard and Rose despite their minimal role).

Can’t to see how season 2 goes. When does that start?

What are you feeling about this?

Everything Stargate

A month or two ago, I went on Hulu in search of something to watch. I stumbled upon Stargate SG-1, which I have never watched but which, had all ten seasons up (until sometime in January, so anyone interested best start now). It’s one of those shows that has been on for so long and somehow I’d never seen it, so I figured now was as good a time as any. (Actually, I distinctly remember being turned off by the guy with the gold on his head and never giving the show a chance, but no need to get specific.) Anyway, it turns out, I quite enjoyed the show, going through all of it and its two counterparts (spin offs: Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe) and have just caught up to what is, apparently, the last season of SGU and possibly the entire series as a whole.

I’ve decided to discuss the show by individual seasons, as that is the easiest way I can think of it.

SG-1: The original cast, specifically Sam, Daniel, Teal’C, and O’Niell (plus Hammond and Dr. Frasier) are easily the best gelling of the casts. Not that I disliked Mitch (O’Niell’s replacement), Quinn (Daniel’s temporary replacement), Dr. Lamm (Dr. Frasier’s replacement), or Landry (Hammond’s replacement), but they never quite worked for me the way our original and longest running quartet plus worked for me. And at times I quite liked Valla, though I question her being placed on SG-1. Especially because it is odd to see five instead of four.

What I loved most about the series is they way they took myths about Gods from different cultures and explained how they came about. Sure, there were the Goa’uld pretending to be Gods in order to enslave people and use them as hosts, but there were also the Norse Gods, portrayed by some friendly grey aliens (so Roswell is real!) as well as some gods on other planets who weren’t what they seemed.

There was also the surprises, such as with the Nox, who are anything but what they seem, technologically and otherwise. With the Goa’uld ability to take over a person with little or no sign (plus mind control and the many other entities that could take over a person’s mind and/or body), you never quite knew who to trust.

Whether or not I agree with the idea that people couldn’t handle knowing that aliens are out there…is mostly besides the point. They deal with the issue a few times, but it is rarely actually addressed as a true debate and is more an issue of the Stargate people making sure the secret is kept.

The most surprising aspect of the show is how much it concerns itself with politics and corruption. This is a theme that runs through all three series of the show. There are always people/governments/organizations who want to subvert the Stargate program and the technology procured for their own purposes. Sometimes, they truly believe they are doing the right thing. And sometimes you can’t help but wonder if the seemingly more fanatic groups might be right, even if just a teeny-tiny bit…

Sometimes the show got goofy. Sometimes it even made fun of its own goofiness (Sam’s on screen love interests always die, Daniel always dies, TV shows made about the show itself within the show, etc), which is always appreciated. Perfect quote:
I’m thinking I can back-sell it and say you were beamed out at the last second. [Martin]
Is that not too convenient? [Teal’c]
Not if you hang a lantern on it. It’s a writer’s term. Another character points out how convenient it is. That way the audience knows I intended for it to be convenient, and we move on. [Martin]
But for all it’s goofiness, there are some serious moments. The way they dealt with Dr. Frasier’s death, for one, was extremely well handled.

The only thing I wish they had done, was kill someone off on the main cast for good. It was a little too (dare I say it) convenient, that the cast, especially Daniel, was always brought back to life after he died. There was never a concern for serious consequences because no one we really cared about ever actually died. Which seems surprising considering how powerful some of the people we were dealing with were.

I greatly appreciate the way they bring in characters from previous episodes, either by mention or by actually bringing them in. For example, we see Sam bond with Cassandra, the little girl whose home was destroyed by the Goa’uld and though Sam isn’t the one to adopt her, she comes up a few more times and is mentioned even more often than that. (There was a little disappointment that we never got confirmation of a Sam-O’Niell relationship, but not exactly a surprise either.)

The biggest question I had from this series stemmed from a set design choice. Specifically, doesn’t it seem like an odd, even poor decision to have open flames all over a spaceship? Forget the whole issue of what if you’re attacked and one of the flames gets knocked over…isn’t it an unnecessary stress on life support? Wouldn’t you want the power on your ship running efficiently and not having to make up for the fact that fire is eating up oxygen all over the ship?

Atlantis: It felt like they couldn’t quite make up their mind about who should star in this series. The original cast was John, Teyla, Rodney, Aiden, Weir, and Beckett. Then they replaced Aiden with Ronen, Beckett with Keller, Weir with Sam, and Sam with Woolsey. For that reason the cast never seemed to gel quite as well as the original SG-1. Not all replacements were negatives. I liked Weir a lot, but wasn’t sorry to see Sam join the cast. However, I was very unhappy to see Woolsey join the cast (I loved Robert Picardo on Voyager, but I could not stand his character on this show) and felt that the characters too readily accepted him replacing Sam. I absolutely loved Keller (maybe I’m just a Firefly sentimental–ps anyone notice that her eyes are really close together?), but again didn’t particularly want to see Becket go. Ronen and Aiden were pretty interchangeably whatever for me.

I love how much crossover there is between the different series. Atlantis probably has the most crossover with characters and storylines since it overlapped with SG-1. (I remember watching SG-1, hearing a reference to the Wraith, and thinking, “wait, who are the wraith?”) There are constantly references to things we saw in one series with the other, particularly with communication stones and matter bridges, not to mention a Goa’uld moment and a few Asgard and Replicator surprises.

This show also couldn’t seem to handle letting their characters die, bringing them back over and over in one form or another (anyone else think it was weird that Repli-Weir looked different than original Weir and no one commented on it?), though we did finally have to let go of one main character. Personally, I would have been okay with getting rid of Rodney. He never grew on me because I could not handle his arrogance (even if it was legitimate at times). Though I did love seeing him and Ronen compete for Keller’s affections. That was pretty cute in its way.

The Wraith problem was resolved a little too quickly in this show. I mean, it took like 8 years to finish the Goa’uld (and that wasn’t even completely finished since they had all those Ba’al clones running around). But by season 3’s end, most of the Wraith and the replicators were done. I know Sam is good (that Rodney ever thought he would be put in charge…) but still.

Biggest issue with the series: It always felt like there was supposed to be something between Teyla and John that somehow didn’t materialize and then suddenly, there’s Kanaan and she’s pregnant. And everyone kept talking about how it was so obvious, the way she talked about him etc. Had she ever mentioned his name before?

Universe: Here the cast is a lot more stable (granted the show was only two seasons), if also somewhat larger. The one thing this show lacks is a really charismatic character. Scott is the closest we see, but his introduction (sex with fellow soldier, Vanessa James) somehow seemed off. I know that this show is meant to be grittier and darker than its predecessors, but perhaps they overdid it a little with this cast. I dislike Chloe who seems sort of personality-less to me and there are too many unstable-seeming characters otherwise (Young, Rush, Greer, even Wray but in a different way). We don’t really get to know TJ well enough. Eli is the other character that draws you in and he does a pretty good job (I was devastated by the loss of Ginn, but maybe because I liked her more than the rest of the cast), but it also seems a little too easy for him to do everything. I know he’s a super-genius, but really, he has never seen alien technology before.

This show is reminiscent of Voyager, which immediately gives it a special place for me (you know, the whole stranded in the other side of the galaxy, trying to get home thing). Even more fascinating is that, where Voyager had Janeway as an obvious and able leader, Universe has no one who is quite fit to lead. This leads to constant battles for control of the ship, especially when Stargate Command back at home, along with the IOA, attempts to give them control. I’m surprised by the fact that there has been less rebellion against the folks back home. Even in Voyager Janeway strayed away from proper protocol and she was super concerned with the Federation’s rules. Only once did Young say “I’m not taking commands from people on the other side of the universe” and he still ended up doing what they wanted.

It makes a big issue of justice and authority, which is fascinating given their circumstances and while I am not entirely clear on when they figured out how to work the communication stones, I love the way they utilize them to bring the characters back home every so often. I’m not sure that the impending threat of a Lucian Alliance attack works the way they want it to, but otherwise, I love hearing orders come from Earth, always daring for the moment when someone says, “let’s be honest, I’m never going to be back home again, I don’t care what you say. and if by some chance I do make it home, I’ll say I had a nervous breakdown or something for extenuating circumstances.” i wonder why they never propose a multi-leader situation, where Young is in charge of security, Rush (or maybe someone else) is in charge of technology, and Camille (or a voted on representative) represents the rest, so that they can discuss things that are more general lifestyle issues (such as should anyone be allowed to stay behind on the planet) and should some, if any, of the Lucian Alliance people be allowed out of confinement, etc. It’s also funny that Young gets angry when Scott says he should have been informed that the only way to break David’s mind control was to kill him and bring him back. He’s all, “so you will only obey me if I explain myself?” and I’m all “soldiers aren’t supposed to let their commanding officers murder people just because they feel like it, so in this case, yes, you should be explaining.”

We get our SG-1 favorites every so often, which is always nice, though I dislike how O’Niell is represented in this season, forgoing all the rule-breaking for right that we have gotten to know him for.

I personally love this darker series, even though I don’t particularly love the cast/crew. It’s such a shame that it’s getting cancelled this early on, when it had so much more potential for a story (though the plan for Destiny to go looking for aliens that pre-existed the creation of the universe…eh). At least we have half a season (and perhaps a movie or two) to look forward to.

Reviewing a Few Shows

It’s been a while, so I suppose now is the time.

Dexter– at the end of a great season (let me just say that finale was the epitome of a nail biting thriller), I am sorry to see Julia Stiles go and I hope the producers aren’t teasing hen they say the door is still open for her to return. My real wonder is how Lumen feels about herself after everything she has done. Whether or not I believe Deb would have let them go…I’m still not sure. But it certainly didn’t ring as completely false. (If you pay attention, she never actually makes any attempt to identify the vigilantes or even really wonders who they are.) I wonder if Dexter’s acquittal of Quinn has bought him any good will (Quinn has no way of knowing that Dexter definitely changed the results since he couldn’t know for certain that it was Liddy’s blood on his shoe). Why must this show be so short? Bring us the next season already!

The Good Wife– this season has been an interesting one, mostly because you can’t help but wonder about Kalinda’s story that they so teasingly hang in front of us without really revealing much of anything. There was an interesting moment of her in the airport where she got tagged for extra security (I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d show the full body scanners). Also having the son (can’t remember his name) totally into Kalinda was classic. A small detail but this show is all about the small details. People, start watching this show! Saving it from cancellation!

Psych– so we finally have it. Sean and Juliette are dating. At least, that’s what they tell us. Most of the time there’s little indication of this (beyond Juliette making a comment like “I know you, I’m dating you”), only occasionally, when they were first telling Gus, was it actually a part of the story. Personally, I want it to play into things more. It does make Juliette’s loyalty’s conflicted at times. And if she’s around him more, might she ever realize that he’s lying about being psychic? I think that would be a particularly interesting thing to look at.

Nikita– I don’t know how other people feel about this show, but I’m actually really enjoying it. Especially Alex’s side of things since we seem to know enough about her to sympathize with her. We still need more about Nikita (like how she was on death row in the first place). Is it weird to see Ted Moseby’s future daughter act as superspy? The mid-season finale was a particularly interesting test on Alex that really drove home the stakes of what she is doing.

The Challenge– People are really hating on Laurel this season and while I agree that at some points she was pretty mean, I think people are also forgetting about the situation they were in. They were in a competition to make money, so there is no reason she shouldn’t have been trying to get rid of the players who she thought would prevent her from doing so. (Yes, she was out of line talking to Eric, but she did apologize and whether it was genuine or not we can’t really ever know, so it isn’t worth debating.) Her cockiness is pretty fair too, considering how strong a competitor she is (it’s like Evelyn, she is that good but she may not know how to play the social game). Whether or not she was right about Cara Maria in the end is sort of irrelevant. (So is the fact that Cara Maria is the only one who didn’t cry, since she was also the one who was carried, whether she wanted to be or not.) I feel bad for Paula, but she also shouldn’t be so surprised about it either.

Friday Night Lights
– I wasn’t loving the newest cast members and the change of schools (not because of the schools but because of the sudden enormous shift in storylines), but this season has really grown on me. I don’t care for Julie’s storyline, she’s acting like a five year old. I never really cared for her since that’s sort of all she’s ever been. But some of the other stories have picked up. I particularly love seeing Mrs Taylor try to connect to that problem kid who all the teachers hate.

Leverage– the show is pretty much the same as always, but who wasn’t charmed by Parker’s love of Christmas?

Vampire Diaries– anyone else think this season is a vast improvement over last? Not that I didn’t like last season, but ditching the diaries, bringing in Katherine, making Caroline a vampire, adding werewolves and creating a bond between Tyler and Caroline…all those elements made the show so much better. This last episode with Taylor’s transformation was particularly excellent. (And it’s nice to read about how supportive the cast and crew was with it in filming.) I’m not into Bonnie and Jeremy at all, but other people seem into it so to each his own. I am still waiting for the “rules” about the Originals. They can go out in daylight, they aren’t killed via stake through the heart, etc. So what are their limitations?

The Sing-Off– anyone been checking this show out lately? It cracks me up that acapella, which is hugely popular in college, has suddenly made it on tv. It’s sad, but true, that it never quite sounds as good recorded live as it does in person, so when you watch, think about how much better it must really be than what we hear. I don’t particularly care for the Jerry Lawson group, but otherwise, I’m quite impressed with the teams. The Backbeats and On The Rocks are my favorites. They’re still in it, but I haven’t watched episode 4 so we’ll see if they make it to the finale. I would say the judges are decent. Not the best I’ve seen but definitely better than certain others (Randy…)

Survivor– sometimes i think Jeff Probst goes a little too far during tribal council. To push them to the point where he literally may have convinced people to change their alliances (and if they had even the slightest brains they would have). I will say that I am impressed by the number of older players still in the game (half! when does that ever happen?) This is definitely the weakest season that I’ve season in a while, but perhaps it just seems that way after coming off such an excellent Heroes vs Villains season?

Hellcats: What you do is a tiny, pathetic subset of dancing.

Packing for Regionals? Well, at least it isn’t a practice sequence like the last few episodes. Savannah’s packing in advance to get her head clear for regionals. Right, that’s the issue. They’re invited to some part thing but Savannah isn’t interested so Marti decides to stay with her. Instead they chat. Savannah slapped Dan (we know she does that because she tried to slap Marti when we first met her too). Savannah doesn’t understand why he broke up with her and she thinks she must have done something wrong. Marti says he’ll come around. Right.

She then goes to berate Dan while he works. He said he can’t stay with Savannah without full disclosure and he can’t tell her about hooking up with Marti. He says he’s taken with Marti, he can’t be with Savannah. Boo hoo for you Dan. He basically says he wants her and he can’t just be her friend. He’s all in, is she? (He says forget Savannah and the past, but they aren’t exactly people she can forget.) She says she’s not there with him. Don’t really feel bad for either of them at the moment. Too much of a perfect blond couple.

when Marti tells her mom, her mom thinks good for Dan for no longer being her boyfriend without benefits. This is a Chloe conversation, so uncomfortable and oddly inappropriate with a mom. (Something about erections…) Marti isn’t willing to risk losing Dan again but her mom says she just did. He always calls. Till one day he doesn’t.

Marti’s “tired” or so she tells Louis who points out that she talks in her sleep. Vanessa and that jerk who keep screwing the cheerleaders enter holding envelopes. The ladies are apparently expected to wine and dine the boosters to raise money for the football team. Only the women. It’s tradition. The booster donations pay for their scholarship. Vanessa says they’ll do it quickly. Guess who one of the boosters are: the furniture place that they’d gone to question.

Marti intends to use the booster opportunity to search for their stolen laptops. Alice is talking to Jake who is apparently ranking well enough to declare for the draft. Is he ready to leave Lancer to go pro? She says to do what’s good for him. She might as well date an NFL star right?

Marti bribes Alice and some other girl to help her get into the guy’s office (with laundry offers). Apparently giving these tickets involves doing fancy tricks to give the envelops over. Marti searches the office when we learn that the guy plans to go to his office to get “the good stuff” just as Marti finds on of the laptops. She stills needs to find hers. Alice heads him off for a moment with flirting but he’s not distracted for long. Marti is gone just in time though but she has not left it the way she found it so he knows they found it.

Marti is unhappy about her missing laptop because she can’t afford to replace it. Pepper insults her, she leaves.

Jake goes to talk about his pro potential. He’s already a second round pick. But what if he waited, would he be better. The creep athletics admin tries to guilt him into staying by saying that Lancer needs him. I generally don’t support the idea of going pro before graduating but I do like it just to screw with the creep. He won’t be beaten though, he’s got a dvd of “their adventure together.” This guy has just been upgraded to royal creep.

Savannah’s been manically calling Dan and apologizing for whatever she’s done. Marti tries to cheer her up (using Savannah’s happy slogans and even the magic marker on the arm bit) and Savannah even manages a bit of a smile and agrees to go to this BBQ fest thing. (Brandeis is very “fest” and “palooza” oriented, everyone should be.)

There’s some musical guest at the bbq. The cheerleading girls are super slutty dressed but it is college so whatev. Savannah’s sister shows up at the partying. she still hasn’t told their mom and isn’t up for being pushed, even if her mother will notice when she starts showing. Dance competition for $500 so Marti signs up. so does Charlotte and Savannah (though Lacey of Caprica warns Charlotte no to be too friendly with “the enemy”). Not even Savannah can get it up to hate someone, but Lacey (Kathy) would be top of the list if she did. Somehow the dance competition becomes something between the Hellcats and whatever Charlotte’s team is called. It seems to be more of a cheer off than dance off and Savannah and Alice are not in sync. (They do realize that $500 divided by an entire team is not much money right?) Okay, eventually they get to sort of dancing that seems really “realistic.” They all just happen to have a cowboy oriented choreographed dance planned. Even Savannah seems to be cheered up. Among the finalists are Marti, Kathy, Alice, and Savannah. Savannah gets the most cheers and wins. Plus the guy who is hosting is totally into her. He asks to buy her a drink and she considers it. Charlotte’s not feeling so well and decides to go home. Savannah tells her to tell mom but that only sort of pisses her off. Savannah gives Marti the money for her computer (she’s been such a good friend about Dan after all). Marti helps her decide to get that drink.

Anyone else think the band is getting a ridiculous amount of air time? I get it, she’s singing. Savannah’s quickly getting drunk and Marti tries to slow her down. Marti goes to dance with Louis and they kiss. (Dan comes in now?) Kathy spots Alice and starts trouble. She gives her a web address to get back at Savannah. Alice is her loyal opposition so she turns it down. She says Nasty Kathy creeps her out. (Nasty Kathy does have a human moment when she says she dislikes the nickname.) Despite claims of loyalty, Alice actually walks away with the paper. (Plausible deniability?) Marti realizes that Savannah is gone and freaks out. No one else seems so worried but Marti makes them search for her.

Sure enough, they’re outside in his car making out. She tells him she should get back inside. She tell him she has a boyfriend as he begins to make her uncomfortable. He locks the door so she can’t get out. Luckily, Marti gets there right in time to save her before he can do much more than hold her down. Savannah blames herself for everything. She hates that who she is pushed him away. Marti says it’s her fault Dan left. Everyone shows up just then so naturally her admission that they hooked up is in front of everyone including Louis. Savannah tells her to find a new room. Louis leaves too.

Furniture guy comes to ask Royal Creep about Marti. Apparently he knows about the Travis Guthrie situation too.

Marti discovers that Dan quit his job which apparently means he’s left town.

Time to leave for regionals. Alice goes to the website that Nasty Kathy gave her, revealing Savannah cheering in Charlotte’s place from a few weeks ago. What will she do with this information? (This is the kind of thing that in reality is no big deal but everyone will freak out about.) Marti is all sad. Vanessa doesn’t seem to realize that her team is miserable not partied out. Marti sits in the back, all alone (I mean ALL alone because there are rows between her and the others), trying to call Dan but he hits ignore. She leaves him a message saying she needs him. Nope, still not sad for our Emily wannabe.

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