Arrow

Dear Arrow Writers,

I really like your show. Please get rid of the voiceover.

~A Fan

Supernatural

The funny thing about this show is that I really wasn’t into it the first time I watched it. At the time, it didn’t feel like there was a bigger back story. It just felt like the standard fantasy procedural where the characters go out, investigate some strange incident, and solve the problem by fighting some demon or another. I’m not sure why that bothered me, since there are so many shows like this and I actually enjoy most of them. Which might be why I decided to give it another try.

I have now watched the entire show to date and I’m glad I did. It turns out, there definitely was a bigger story going on–yellow eyes, Sam’s demonic abilities, Dean’s role in the apocalypse, oh right…and the apocalypse. It turns out that what I like most about the series is, in fact, those very things that I thought the show was missing. Where some fantasy shows struggle to build from one season to the next–how bad can things get after all?–this show has done an excellent job of making on season impact the next one so that to every action there is a bigger reaction coming. (See the end of this season, where we meet God, sort of.)

Supernatural follows Sam and Dean, two brothers who have grown up, raised by their father in the rough world of demon hunting after their mother is killed by a demon with yellow eyes. Sam attempts to leave this life to go to college, only to be pulled back in when his girlfriend is killed the same way.

The show has struggled over the years to add in a few more characters over the years. In came:

  • Ruby, a demon who seems to be on the side of good
  • Bobby Singer, a fellow hunter and father figure in the boys’ lives
  • Ellen and Jo- Ellen is a saloon owner who is constantly in contact with hunters and Jo who becomes a hunter
  • Bela, a self-centered thief
  • Castiel, an arch-angel who becomes an ally
  • Anna, a fallen angel who eventually gains her wings again

These are some of the bigger characters who have come into the story at some point or another. Bobby’s introduction originally felt forced and abrupt but he has since better integrated into the show and now feels like a good fit. The need for important characters also comes from a lack of tension–there is no chance that the brothers can be killed off so we have to care about others who might be killed.

One of the big issues about the show is that we have essentially seen that death is not really ever permanent. There are a myriad of ways in which a person might be resurrected. Because of this, we can never really be sad when someone dies and the fear that we might lose someone is never really there. This, in my opinion, is one of the primary issues with sci-fi and fantasy in general (think about Stargate SG-1 where Daniel dies every few episodes). It lowers the stakes of any problems happening. Despite this problem, the show has managed to make things build up from season to season. Even now, when you start wondering how we could have gotten bigger than the coming of Lucifer, we learn that there can be bigger problems.

There is also a general lack of female characters (which is where Bela and Ruby came in). It would be nice to have a bit more female energy on the show. The writers seem to be struggling with this. They are never really satisfied with their female characters and therefore none have stayed so far. I’m hoping they manage this eventually (I liked Jo, Ruby, and Anna personally but supposedly other viewers did not). I am hoping they will find and stick to one or two, perhaps someone who is equal to the brothers and not someone who needs protecting (like Dean’s most recent love interest).

Castiel wound up being one of the most interesting characters on the show, as we watched him grow from an unquestioning angel to someone who has come to question, think, and act of his own volition. interestingly, this is what leads to the issue of the coming season. The brothers are often self-centered and it is this lack of paying attention to others that ultimately leads to Castiel’s wild behavior.

I like how far the show’s mythology has gone and I am curious to see where they plan to take things. At the same time, it does feel like the show is winding down. I am not sure how much longer it can run.

Thursday Nights on the CW

I wanted to take the time to pay particular praise to two shows that have been growing on me more and more over time. The CW has taken to rebooting itself over the last few years (starting with Gossip Girl and now picking up on the trends–vampires, spies, and now, zombies) and while I was initially skeptical about Vampire Diaries and felt just okay with Nikita, both shows have really stepped up.

Season One of Vampire Diaries was slow. The voiceovers that were Stefan and Elena reading from their diaries killed each episode before it started (I know, that’s where the show gets its name but unless their diaries are insightful who cares to hear it?). As a character, Elena was extremely lame (she was the damsel in distress with little to no personality). Caroline was just the annoying bossy girl. The moral complexities in the show were not so complex. But the show has really come into its own (I kind of want to go buy the books now), thanks to some big twists and new characters: the relationship between vampire Caroline and werewolf Tyler is stronger than either of the two characters ever were pre-supernatural phase (they have fast become my favorite part of the show and were sorely missed in last night’s episode), Damon has become both good guy we root for and bad guy we get disappointed in, Elena finds her strength (she actually stabs herself in the stomach in order to kill Elijah!), Katherine shows up and becomes one of the most riveting villains (who knew Anna Dobrev could be so talented?), and it turns out Stephan killed Elena’s ancestors! Basically, the show developed a real mythology that let us become invested in the story (and make it okay to have doppleganger ancestors).

Then there was Nikita, which was a fun pilot but left me feeling lukewarm about Nikita herself. I thought Maggie Q was fantastic (though she is so thin it is hard to believe she can kick butt as well as she does), I just didn’t think the show developed her backstory solidly and emotionally enough for me to really care about her. The story about her murdered lover was sort of force-fed down our throats and we did not get a chance to really connect to the relationship that was lost. But despite a so-so past, the other parts of her past are much stronger. Her relationship with Michael, for example, which took a pseudo step forward this week (when will she turn him, you can’t help but wonder). I still wonder about her life pre-Division, but I don’t know if we will ever see it. For me, the best part of the show actually comes with Alex. She’s the young recruit, playing double agent. Where all of Nikita’s actions are pretty clearcut and righteous, Alex must live in Division and therefore walk a finer moral line. Does she let her friends and training mates continue to live the lie that they are fighting for the country? Does she sabotage their missions and make it harder for them to succeed? How far does she go to keep her cover? And we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of her past (this week we got a peek at her corrupt father and her druggie/sex trafficking life pre-Nikita). Lyndsy Fonseca really doesn’t get enough credit for how excellent she is on this show. The show has also shown it is not afraid to kill off a character that we think will be around for a long time, which is always a plus when trying to raise the stakes. Has anyone else noticed the rising death toll on the CW as a whole?

Remember back in the day when the WB’s strong night was New Tuesdays? For me, it is Thursday nights now. I can only hope that the Awakening and the other new shows they have picked up for next year are just as solid as these shows have become.

Life Unexpected

Well CW, I have to hand it to you, this pilot was well done. And if it is any indication of the show to come, you definitely have me as a fan.

Lots of the fast-talking that I enjoyed in Gilmore Girls can be found in this show, particularly among Cate, her fiance, and Lux. The show has some very real characters that you could connect to and root for, in their own, uniquely quirky ways.

Shiri Appleby, I didn’t know you could act! And her character in this show as Cate, the disc jockey and teen mom who gave up her baby who comes back at 16 to get her signature to become emancipate, is SO much more interesting than her Roswell past. Another WB alum is Kerr Smith as Cate’s fiance. They have great chemistry and he has FINALLY grown into his looks.

The dad is the slightly lamer character in the bunch, in my opinion, because he does seem like the typical jock who amounted to little in his life (though when the judge says “you own your own business” instead of “you live above your bar” it doesn’t sound so bad). But the way he bonded with Lux was really sweet and he had his moments where you could see a glimmer of more for him. I wonder how he really ended up where he is.

I do hope we get to learn more about Lux’s past (and how did she get the name Lux, by the way?) and her time in the foster care system. It’s interesting to see the other side of the story, where a girl gives up her child thinking she’ll be taken care of only to find out that it was probably way worse than it would have been had she raised the baby herself. I say interesting because the general feeling is that the teenage parents give up their babies (sometimes) in hopes that the babies can find a better, more supportive home where the parents are prepared to raise and care for them.

Anyway, if you didn’t catch this premier (I completely missed it but found it online), I recommend you check it out. If this is a sign of the quality to come from the CW, then maybe the network will really build an audience. (The show premiered to a higher audience than Gossip Girl did but a lower audience than Vampire Diaries but I’m hoping food word of mouth will help it spread.)

Gossip Girl: They Shoot Humphreys Don’t They?

It’s that time of year again: cotillion. Jenny is snobby about finding the perfect date. She wants Graham Collins, the hottest guy on the Upper East Side. If they don’t get her him, she will steal one of her girls’ crew escorts. Everyone is staring at Jenny, five prep schools?

Blaire has a surprise for Chuck! But Nate is moving in so the plans will not be happening. Lost weekend for the boys. Isn’t Blaire supposed to be a mentor at cotillion? But she can’t risk running into Serena! Shouldn’t they just make up? She loves cotillion. Dinner is at the Van Der Woodsons. He convinces her to give Serena the chance to apologize. It’s the charitable thing to do after all. Didn’t she already try to make up and Blaire turned her down?

Serena talks to Tripp about getting a job and he gives it to her. (Her responsibilities with Casey would translate well.) They reminisce about old times but she has to go host the dinner. She thanks him, their talk on election night meant a lot for both. Were they even hiring?

Olivia asked if you could get brain damage from learning too much. Rumors about a fourth movie for Olivia which she says is not happening. She’s have hundreds of phone calls about it. Or six missed calls…

Lily reveals that the other girls have been taking ballroom for years so Jenny has some catching up to do. She’s clearly freaked. Some girl says hi and Jenny ignores her. Eric is girl, Kira’s her escort. Kira says she can get Jenny her escort but he tells her to stay out of it. (He could do it himself…) She texts him anyway.

Olivia is upset because the movie is happening. They want to take her to do the things all college students must do.

Jenny tries to learn the dance from another room. Eric sees her. Jenny is afraid to make a fool of herself in front of everyone. It’s not enough to be queen of Constance, you have to be the queen of the Upper East Side. Eric gives her some tips and helps her out. She wishes he could be her escort but Eric suggests Jonathan. He is a Whitney after all. Graham texts Jenny saying he will be her escort but Eric sees it first and texts him back as her saying she has a date already.

Blaire shows up for the dinner and expects Serena to apologize but instead she just directs her to the list. Jenny is Serena’s Deb. Blaire tries to steal her away. Blaire points out that she needs a better escort. Serena offers Jenny to have Blaire as her escort.

Eric convinces Jonathan to be Jenny’s escort. Jenny is on the tipping point, she’s not Darth Vader yet and they can stop her from going over to the dark side.

Serena goes to Tripp’s because her night opened up. She brings him some food. She’d take real politics over cotillion any night. She’s the new media relations rep, how can she help with his speech. They have a clearly flirty moment but are interrupted before anything inappropriate can happen.

Kira approaches Jenny. She’s so impressed that Blaire is her mentor. Jenny finds out that Eric intercepted. She then tells Blaire she doesn’t need her as a mentor. Eric and Blaire want to get back at her.

Blaire finds Chuck and Nate together. They can tell that Blaire is about to explode despite her outer calm. Sum up of the fight in Chuck’s words: they each love the other more than the other loves them.

Tripp tries to avoid talking to Serena at all and she asks if she did something wrong. He says “this was a huge mistake.” He tells her he finds her “smart and charming” but he didn’t realize how much having her around would affect him. She gets a text sent by Chuck in Blaire’s name saying she doesn’t want to fight anymore. Serena runs out.

Blaire wants to make Kira queen. They must take down the queen. Blaire transfers her anger towards Serena to Kira and Jenny’s situation. Blaire helps her get ready. (Cue girls acting girlie and getting dressed.) Jenny gets ready to say goodbye to Jenny from Brooklyn.

College party for Dan, Olivia, and the third wheel (Vanessa). Olivia gets a text and has to leave. Some guys are upset with an for keeping Olivia from the movie. Olivia has to take the movie. She’s miserable.

Kira isn’t all that pretty but she’s dressed up. Eric and Blaire coordinated it so Graham will be taking Kira to cotillion.

Cotillion time. Jenny looks like her top is about to fall off. Nate is looking for Blaire he has a message from Chuck to go upstairs. Blaire asks how he got Graham to ditch Jenny. “What happens at Camp doesn’t stay at Camp.”

Olivia says she can’t let down the cast and crew. But her friends at college have given her the ultimate experience.

Blaire shows up to find Serena. They figure out what happened, Chuck set them up but when they try to go down the elevator stops. Chuck trapped them.

Everyone’s being called up on stage. Also, her name is Jennifer Tallulah Humphrey. Kira is called to be with Graham and Jenny leaves to lots of whispering. Eric tells her to let it go but Jenny is determined. She calls someone asking if they’re still at the party. Nate?

Serena and Blaire talk. Serena tells her about finding her dad. She was too ashamed to say anything. Everyone else’s dad loves them. Blaire comforts her. Serena can’t let it go. She can’t seem to get anything right anymore. Blaire tells Serena she can’t see or speak to trip without coming to her first. (Nice to finally hear actual thoughts from Serena.)

The last thing on their college to do list is have a threesome. Olivia’s only done it once, in a movie. Well, there are three of them. It’s the last thing on the list. There’s so much awkward about this. Olivia is determined to do it. Remember when Vanessa and Dan used to like each other?

Jenny is represented to everyone. Escorted by Nate. Nate is epic. And a college guy. Is he in college? Everyone applauds. More cotillion dancing. Blaire and Serena approach. The other queens pay their respects. Serena goes to tender her resignation.

Eric is upset and Jonathan approached. He’s upset that Eric sunk to Jenny’s level. Scheming with Blaire! So he breaks up with him. Jonathan liked Eric because of who he was, different, but not anymore.

Jenny tells Eric she had no choice. She invites him to join her friends and he turned her down. Jenny warns Kira about being above the radar.a doesn’t want to go back to social oblivion. Eric plans to take Jenny down for good.

Blaire intends to spend the evening with Serena but remember that Serena went to Tripp’s office…She tells him she quits but he says she deserves the opportunity and he trusts her. He will never cross the line. They’re adults. She agrees, friendly and professional. Blaire shows up just as he is a little inappropriate. Serena says she’s ok and will call her tomorrow. She’s angry and leaves.

Rufus tells Lily he doesn’t understand how cotillion works. He hasn’t seen Jenny so happy since she was eight. (That’s sad since this isn’t something that even really makes her happy.) Lily has something to do before going upstairs when she finds a letter from Serena’s dad to Serena.

The threesome happens and while they sleep Olivia gets a text saying the movie isn’t happening. Awkward…

In and of itself, this episode was on the slower side, but it does set up some good plotlines for upcoming episodes. I’m disappointed that Serena and Blaire made up so quickly but otherwise, I’m liking the direction things are going. Eric is scheming, Jenny has a rival, Serena’s story with Tripp is slightly lame (didn’t we already have the scandalous relationship with Nate?) but the dad thing looks like it might be interesting…

Gossip Girl: Rufus Getting Married

Rufus and Lily are fighting because Serena’s decision not to go to college. And because Lily’s a baby. Serena says she will fix things. She arranges for them to talk and then after Rufus suggests getting married, she organizes the wedding in a day. (This is the “how much chest can we get away with Serena showing” episode.)

Blaire is mean to Bri Buckley who is looking for Carter for some reason. Chuck, who doesn’t trust Carter, finds out that Carter basically courted Bri’s cousin in order to get his gambling bets paid off by her family. He tells Bri that Carter will be at the wedding and offers Carter the option of facing the Buckleys or leaving town. He comes clean to Serena, she’s upset with him, but gets worried when he disappears. Nate discovers that Bri was using him to find Carter.

Georgina is obsessed with Dan and when she returns and finds out that he is dating someone else she blackmails Vanessa into trying to get him to break up with Olivia (because she knows that Scott is his half brother). He thinks Vanessa has a crush on him, she tells the truth, he tries to scam Georgina who brings Scott to the wedding. Lily and Rufus fight, Scott gets upset, but they all make up in the end. Scott heads home to figure things out but intends to come visit.

Anyone notice that Jenny (acting the part of queen bee) is obscenely skinny? And that Carter and Chuck are the two sleaziest looking people ever.

Smallville

This is one of those shows. Why do I keep watching? What is even good about it? Certainly not the acting (that’s what you get for having an model for an actor), certainly not the cinematography or unique scripts. I think a part of me just loves the comics to screen stuff, even when it’s bad (though I HATED the Captain America movie…). It’s nostalgic if nothing else (Sunday morning cartoons were always awesome).

I can’t say I’m sorry that Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) is no longer in the show as Lois Lane is way cooler. There’s the issue of Jimmy being dead since he was clearly part of Superman’s life after he was officially Superman but maybe they don’t plan to stick THAT closely to the real thing.

At this point I just want to see Lois and Clark have a more real “moment” than mooning over each other. But otherwise, I’m not sure what else to actually look forward to at this point. Clark is just so earnestly irritating most of the time.

Smallville’s not a show I’d be sad to go off the air, but I suppose while it’s on I’ll just keep watching. It seems that I’m something of an addict and I have a hard time letting go of shows that I’ve invested a lot of time watching.