Large-Scale Review

Heroes– So the current season’s part two is now in swing and what do we think about it? Not a fan of this whole Claire as a lesbian thing. As I’ve said before, I don’t mind people being gay, I mind when shows make someone gay just for the sake of having a storyline. If a character is gay they should actually be gay, not just a sudden “new thing” to try out. I think the story about Hiro being slightly out of his mind was pretty funny. I’m frustrated by the Sylar storyline because he had the opportunity to find love and be with someone with Elle and then he just killed her, so it feels like this storyline has been done and over again. And the Samuel in love thing was forced. Crazy stalker!

Castle– This was a great episode, dealing with Beckett’s mom’s murder but leaving it open-ended so that we know there’s more mystery to come. Not much else to say since the show isn’t super deep or anything but though Beckett is slightly funny looking, they’re dynamic works so well. (I love Nathan Fillion!)

White Collar– I’m not sure how I feel about this newest Kate bit since it feels like such a build up for such a let down. But I get the sense that there’s more coming with that and maybe what they have us thinking about Kate now isn’t the entire truth.

Human Target– Having watched two episodes now, I am no more pleased than I was with the first episode. There just isn’t enough personality and heart in the show to make me care. (I will say that I have this suspicion that the bad guy–girl–of this last episode may not be as dead as she seems. What are the odds that she had a parachute under that jacket?)

Friday Night Lights– I don’t think this season is as good as the previous ones. The newer characters are not very interesting and Julie, as the only real carrying over high school student, remains as dull as ever. And now the racial tension stuff feels a little over the top.

Burn Notice– I’m thrilled that Fiona is still there (not that I ever expected otherwise). I felt so bad for his mom in this episode and she made some good points. How do you decide whose life you can ruin?

Bones– I didn’t like the part about Booth’s obsession about it not being JFK though I understand the reasoning, it’s naive of him to think that the US has no secrets. Not that I’m paranoid like Hodgins but I’m sure there are some things they don’t want us to know or that they keep secret for reasons of security. But it was sweet of Bones to lie (even if it isn’t logical).

Grey’s Anatomy– So…welcome back Izzy. I’m kind of proud of Alex and a little irritated at Mark for being angry at Lexi. Arizona and Calley are super-cute and even though making her gay was also a little forced, they’re a cute enough couple to make up for it.

Private Practice– Wooahh Naomi. That’s all I can really say.

Vampire Diaries– I’m not sure how I feel about this newest episode. Elena was still a whiny baby, not that I was expecting much more. Stefan was still dark and broody (though interesting to see his history with Bonnie’s family). I’m kind of glad Damon got beaten up. Sad about Gina Torres though.

Project Runway– This season is definitely proving better (and more talent-filled) than last’s. I don’t understand how Ping is still in the competition but maybe the producers told the judges to keep her as long as possible for entertainment’s sake? I guess I’m okay with that for now, as long as someone truly awesome doesn’t get booted in her place.

Legend of the Seeker– Another good episode this week. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Sister Nikki taking all of his powers since that cuts out a large portion of the book (either they’ve completely changed everything about the rest of the book series or Richard needs to get his magic back which may mean that Nikki dies). I guess they decided they had to make the han-acquirement more TV friendly because it is WAAAY more gruesome in the book, but I understand, it is syndicated TV. Don’t love Leo but I do like Cara’s interaction with him so good and bad for the new seeker. And if they are returned to Richard then what? My final question: if prophecies just appear on the walls does that mean we won’t be seeing Nathan Rahl ever? That would be a shame.

Advertisements

Total Recap

With so many shows coming back this week and last (and one of my best friends coming in from Chicago to visit) I’m somewhat behind on my TV shows, so I’m writing a general recap of the shows I’ve seen:

Chuck- so glad this show is finally back. The will they won’t they dynamic of Sarah and Chuck isn’t as good as it used to be since they basically were together for a bit and Sarah sort of feels like a sulking baby. I would love for us to learn more about Sarah. Few people can completely cut ties with their past and I’d like to see her slip up with something that is less about Chuck and more about her.

How I Met Your Mother- Neil Patrick Harris singing and dancing, about suits! Need I say more? It’s like everything you could ask for and more. While the Consummate Consummator didn’t win a Golden Globe, he’s still pretty awesome in my book. The other characters were a little dull this episode but it’s hard to compete with Barney.

Better Off Ted- though not quite as good as other episodes, this show is still too good to be canceled. The Veronica-Rose dynamic is definitely the best thing the show has to offer and I hope we see more of it. How many ways can you corrupt a child?

Leverage- one of the more exciting returns in my mind, this episode was truly one of the greats because it managed to surprise you. Jeri Ryan’s character is much more interesting than Sophie and, while I miss the British accent, I prefer Ryan’s less prinicipled mentality. It’s nice to have one semi-honest thief within the group of honest thieves. Besides, seeing her develop into an honest person is interesting. The others have to rub off on her right? (Can we get more Parker-Hardison please!)

Ugly Betty- this week’s episode was the one I saw them filming! With rumors of Daniel and Betty getting together, a lot of people are upset. While I’m not a fan of the pairing, I am in no way surprised considering that Betty has so profoundly helped him change. At the same time, it’s nice to see a guy and girl be very close and not romantically involved for a change. I sort of kind of a little bit felt bad for Wilhemina. I was proud of Mark for his work with Daniel (promotion anyone?). I didn’t care all that much about Betty and Mark, largely because I’m not a Mark fan. He was mostly a jerk to Betty.

Dollhouse- great episode. These last few have really been some of the best yet and I can’t wait to see the finale next week, in a sad but excited way. Sort of the way I felt about the 7th Harry Potter coming out.

Ghost Whisperer- yet another generic episode. Really, it’s time for the larger storyline to come into play already. There was that one great episode with the child ghost and Aiden and that’s it.

Project Runway- Glad to be back in NY, glad to have the regular judges back (this reminds me, how awesome was it when Tim Gunn guest starred on HIMYM this week? “Sorry Barney, I can’t make it work.”). I think the talent this season looks pretty high though I have some serious disagreements with the decision of the first episode. That and I wonder why Nicole Ritchie was on the show. Who is she to be judging fashion?

Legend of the Seeker- I was wondering when the Sisters of the Light would show up. I’m a little disappointed in the way they made the split since it was so much more dramatic in the book but otherwise I think that part was mostly well done. I don’t really like the most recent Denna plots but she’s not super important so that’s ok. Anyone else notice Kahlen’s new clothing? Way cooler looking that before. And certainly more flattering though still not the most practical.

That’s it for now, more to come.

Legend of the Seeker: Broken

Well, this week’s episode was possibly my favorite of the series to date. I knew that bringing Cara in as a character was a good idea. (She’s sort of like a leather clad Seven of Nine, though their clothes are pretty similar despite the different fabric choices.)

This week we get an even deeper insight into the mind of Cara and the Mord Sith as a whole. We got to see how Cara was chosen, trained, and broken (though for television’s sake they have changed some of the details–it’s less horrible than Terry Goodkind’s version).

The idea of “rehumanizing” someone has always been an interesting one to me. There’s the whole debate about whether or not your youth can excuse your adult behavior and whether or not bad people can change. It’s with characters like this that we get to see these things played out.

And there’s the question of whether or not Kahlen, the Mother Confessor and upholder of justice, can accept Cara after all she’s done. And if she can forgive her for what she has done to Kahlen personally.

Cara’s remorse was a little bit too quick and easy for me, but I’m sure we’ll get more of it over the season.

My only complaint about this current season is the boy with the rune tattooed on his hand. I don’t remember any such character in the books and the boy is kind of annoying. Though I guess it’s just to add to the “will they succeed or won’t they” excitement of the story.

General Reviews

As I like to do every so often, I am going to go through a bunch of shows I’ve been watching to write some general thoughts on the show and any exciting or upsetting news that I may have heard about it.

Survivor Samoa– One thing I like about this show is that they try and make certain that the women have an equal opportunity at most things. Very often, the physical competitions are divided so it’s women vs women and men vs men, elimination/immunity challenges tend to include equalizers like puzzles or skills that aren’t strength based. (I find this admirable since MTV’s RW/RR Challenges seem incapable of doing this. Remember the Battle of the Sexes’ final challenge?) About other aspects of the show: Russel has figured out something very basic–if there is no exile island, then the immunity idol must be hidden at camp. And if it is hidden at camp it must be an identifiable location so that clues can be given to find it. So twice now he has just wandered around camp searching the few places that it could be, and found it. Why has no one else taken this approach? Especially after he found it the first time? I will say that Russel, while I can’t stand him and don’t understand why so many people have gone along with him for so long, is quite the player. He’s super manipulative and strategic. And nice blindside this week.

Vampire Diaries– I have a few distinct issues with this show. 1) It bugs me that Elenia and Bonnie look exactly like their ancestors Katherine and Emily. They couldn’t just hire other actors for the three seconds that they are on screen? 2) Quite killing the interesting people! Vicky and that friend of Stefan’s were both interesting story lines that I would have liked to see develop a lot further. 3) Elenia is the dullest person ever. I mean really, she’s possibly the worst main character in existence. Otherwise, I think they did some clever stuff this week. Especially because there is obviously more to come from Damon, plus all the new vamps. Is Logan one of them?

Dollhouse– Probably the most upsetting, though not surprising, news of the week is the cancellation of Dollhouse. The show was getting really good this season, finally focusing on the entire cast instead of just Echo and Paul Ballard. There are so many things that Fox did wrong with this show (formulaic first season, poor advertising, horrible timeslot, not airing epitaph one) but I do think that Joss Whedon would be more suited for Syfy or some of other cable station (one thing he will have to do is have a cheaper budget though because Dollhouse, for example, is too expensive to produce for Syfy). At least the full season two will be aired. If you haven’t checked out this show already, I really recommend it. What I like about Joss is that he takes things further and uses his shows to examine human behavior and morality in a way that most shows do not.

FlashForward– After a bit of a lull following the series premiere, the show has really picked up steam again. The last few weeks have been some of the best episodes yet and they call into question everything that’s been revealed so far. And then call that into question. A few, interesting twists have come into play now and you can’t help but wonder what everyone is going to do as conspiracies and cover ups seem to multiply and desperation leads to some pretty crazy behavior.

V– Also on the upsetting news of the week, I did not realize that V would only be airing four episodes before going on hiatus until March. That’s pretty lame. The show’s second episode was just as good as the first (which says something about the show since I’ve found that most Sci Fi has a great pilot and a weak follow up). I have no idea what will be filling the time slot during the months off, but I really wish the networks would stop doing that.

Smallville– On the good news, this series has really improved from the last few years and it’s showing in the ratings. Despite being in its ninth season and on a Friday, the show has actually seen increases every week in its viewership. Perhaps everyone is just glad to be rid of Lana Lang for good or they like the playing with Lois Lane. Either way, the plots are better. Lex Luthor is gone for now which is actually fine by me. We looked into Oliver’s story more. Chloe has proven herself to be more interesting than ever before. Lois is just kind of crazy but entertaining. Sadly, Clark continues to be somewhat dull. There’s only so much entertainment to be had from a guy whose entire storyline revolves around “being the perfect hero.”

Ugly Betty– Another show that has become more interesting than before. It takes a look at dealing with grief, poor self esteem, jealousy, being gay in high school, what a mother would do for her daughter…In other words, real issues instead of just scheming against each other which, while interesting in Gossip Girl, isn’t suited for this show as much. Not to say some scheming isn’t good. I just don’t think in this show that should be the entire story. I think also the dad’s story about being wanted in Mexico or wherever just wasn’t as interesting as Justin learning to deal with being in high school.

White Collar– while not as exciting as the first episode (it has become a bit formulaic at the moment) there are some things that leave me interested in the show. The first is that Neal Caffrey is an interesting character. The second is the questions about his girlfriend. It is clear that more was happening than that she was just dumping him and now Neal is trying to find her. I’m hoping we’ll get more than cursory mentions of that in episodes to come. More chasing her and a little less of chasing random bad guys. It does bother me a little that he’s supposed to be this huge romantic in love with this girl and meanwhile he’s hitting on the new FBI agent transferred in to work with them.

Ghost Whisperer– I think one thing I dislike about this show is that the son, Aiden, is kind of weird looking and a bit annoying. Would have been nice for them to have gotten a cuter kid. But oh well. This week they introduced a frightened child-ghost who is hiding with Aiden at the very end which could lead to some great story soon. I wish they would get back to the Shinees and Shadows stuff a little more. (And I think we will be seeing that soon.) I dislike shows that are formulaic with little bigger arch. This show has a bigger story but they tend to ignore it for the majority of the time which is unfortunate. Show us more of Aiden’s skills, show us who he can see. And it would be cool to see more real murders instead of just misguided ghosts.

Merlin
– I know this show didn’t do well this summer when it came to the US, but I was watching it last year (online of course) and I really enjoyed it. I would like to learn more about Morgana (we got some hints with the introduction of her half sister Morgose–come on practically the same name!) but I think this season is pushing along well. Especially with the whole magic good or bad dilemma. Arthur and Uther are constantly being forced to rethink their stances only to be hurt by magic and revert back to hatred again. I can’t wait for the day when Morgana and Merlin’s magic is revealed. It would be nice to see more occasions where they almost get caught.

Legend of the Seeker– As I’ve said before, watching this show inspired me to read the entire 12 book (sort of 13 book) series. This season looks even more exciting with the introduction of Cara, a Mord Sith who has allied herself with Richard. I would like them to go more into depth about how the Mord Sith are created as that is an interesting/terrifying story. Meanwhile, I’d also like to stop seeing scenes of the underworld. (For one thing, it’s depressing to think that no matter what type of life you live you are doomed once you die and for another, it’s just not a very well executed bit of imagery.) I’m looking forward to seeing what else they are planning since they have changed things enough from the books to leave you surprised by how things turn out while sticking to the heart and emotion of most of it. (And while leaving out a bit of the preaching.)

As you can see, I’m a real sucker for Fantasy (which would explain why I’m writing a fantasy book–currently 400+ pages in). Any shows you have some complaints or good news about?

Legend of the Seeker

Season two has arrived! This series, directed by the directors of Xena and Hercules, is a fantasy series that I really enjoy. In fact, it inspired me to read the entire 12 book series. Which got admittedly preachy as it progressed, but still was quite good otherwise. Some people were upset about the lack of goofball type humor in the series that Xena and Hercules employed but I rather like this slightly more serious version of fantasy.

Anyway, the season premiere: It was mostly awesome with couple of moments of COME ON mixed in.

I guess I’ll start with the irritations. Now, I understand the difference between book and film. I very clearly understand that books have the liberty to share far more information and events than a movie can. After all, movies are limited by time while books can be as long as the author writes it to be. TV of course is a whole different story. On the one hand it has more time, on the other, they must make everything visual and so not everything can be as it was in the book. (Or they can do something lame and uncreative like voice over, but as I said, it’s lame.) Plus change tends to happen much more gradually, characters don’t change in drastic ways unless it’s over a period of time (think of how long it took Seven of Nine to really become human again). The only time I complain about changes between book and screen is when the change is for no reason. (Or at least, for reasons I don’t like.) In this episode, that primary change was have Cara be gay. It’s not that I have anything against gay people, but there’s another Mord Sith in the series that was gay while Cara has an entirely different story which I do not want to ruin for anyone who decides to read the books. And why make her gay? All for the onscreen, two second kiss. Not even two second at that. It just seems like a gratuitous moment where someone said “let’s get hot girls to kiss!!!”

My other complaint about the show was that it actually decided to portray the underworld and not altogether well. For starters, it didn’t actually look too bad, largely because you couldn’t really see much other than the fact that Lord Rahl was naked. And also, it did not make the Keeper look very scary.

Now onto the good. The Skreeling, for one. So creepy looking! And the way they killed it, while certainly not the most unique idea, was still done with good effects.

Aside from the gay thing, I really like the way they brought Cara into the story. It was even more exciting than the way it was done in the books. In particular, I think they got a great actress to play her. Sufficient stare that could stop most in their tracks. I kind of felt bad for her when the others turned, but that’s probably just because of what I know of her from the books.

Other details about the Mord Sith: Charisma Carpenter plays one of them. Hooray Buffy/Angel alums. Well done with every bit of their storyline really. The taking of the little girls, threatening Rachel while she tries to comfort the others.

I’m also not upset about the way they changed it so that Richard and Kahlan still can’t be together. I would like to see it happen at some point, but I don’t mind it being drawn out for longer. They were maybe a little too lovey-dovey in the book (for lack of a better word).

I forget what the deal with the three signs and Richard are, but I was surprised by Shota’s arrival and am excited to see how it all pans out.

I think that the battle with the Keeper requires a more careful handling than that of Darken Rahl (since special effects can just as easily make things cheesy as excellent, particularly without a huge budget).

So far we haven’t seen any sign of the Mud People (sadly) or the Sisters of the Light (a little less sadly), but any number of things are in store for the coming season. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

(Totally unrelated to the actual episode comments: Not a fan of Richard’s new look and also, anyone else think that the Confessor’s dress is not only unflattering but completely impractical?)

Legend of the Seeker

I’m not sure what stirred more news  when it was announced that the Legend of the Seeker was being made: Sam Raimi, the producer of Xena and Hercules was making a new show, or that Terry Goodkinds’s Sword of Truth series, which has a massive following, was coming to television. I came across this show somewhat by accident, so the fanfare isn’t something I followed all that much. I will say, the show was good enough to prompt me to read the entire 12 book series in a semester. It’s possible I liked the show better because I started watching it before reading the books and therefore didn’t have the comparison, but I finished the series long before the season finale of the show, so I doubt that.

The show is about a young woods guide named Richard Cypher who grew up in Westland, a place cut off from the rest of the world by a magical barrier and completely magic-less (or so they thought anyway). His world is turned upside down when his father is brutally murdered and he comes across a young woman, Kahlan Amnell being chased by a group of men. After helping her, Richard learns that Kahlan is no ordinary woman. She is a Confessor, a being of power that he does not understand at first, and she is searching for a great wizard. The reason for her search: Darken Rahl is an evil, powerful wizard who is taking over  the Midlands and she needs to wizard to appoint a Seeker of Truth who can defeat Rahl. The wizard, it turns out, is Richard’s looney friend, Zeddicus Z’ul Zorander (Zed) and he names Richard the Seeker. The Seeker carries a magical sword, called the Sword of Truth, which he uses to carry out justice. But they must hurry, as Darken Rahl seeks the Boxes of Orden, which would give him unquestioned control over life and death. Should he put the boxes together, there will be no stopping him. The trio experience many bumps along the way, one of which is the growing love between Richard and Kahlan, a love which can never be, because of Kahlan’s magic. With a single touch, a Confessor changes a person into an obedient servant, they are no longer who they were but live to please their Confessor. So long as a Confessor maintains tight control on the magic, she can keep her touch from doing unintended harm but if something–such as sex–should make them forget that control, the person they touch would be lost until the Confessor dies.

Unlike Raimi’s previous productions, the Seeker isn’t campy, bad acted action. I loved Lucy Lawless as Xena as much as the next person, but I can’t say this is the disappointment I have read others call it. (No there is no warrior battle cry, how did Lucy Lawless ever make that sound anyway?) The acting is much more subtle in this show, so it doesn’t constantly remind you that it’s fake. It also has twelve books to draw its stories from, whereas Xena and Hercules pulled things from biblical and mythological times, so the plot sometimes seemed forced. Bridget Regan and Craig Horner fit their parts quite well, if not how you imagined them while reading the book. (Kahlan’s hair is supposed to be unusually long, a mark of a Confessor and Richard is supposed to be quite big and muscular.)

For all the fans who complain about how different the book and show is, keep in mind that Terry Goodkind has been a consultant on the show and given his approval so though some of the mythology of the universe has changed it is usually in minor ways. (For Example, Kahlan is not the last Confessor or the Mother Confessor as she is in the book, which is only confusing in that she is dressed accordingly in the first episode, but not after wards.) Having taking some screenwriting classes, I understand the distinction between film and books and how they require altering some of the drama. Not everything that works in a book plays out well visually (sometimes it is dull and slow to watch) and not everything on screen can be given the same range of intensity as on the screen. Each has their own strengths, but they are different medium and as such must be different. I also understand the difficultly of adaptation. Time, money, clarity, are all things that play a part in what does and doesn’t make it onto the screen. A show, unlike a movie though, is not as limited by time and has longer to explain things so the need to cut things out or change them isn’t as great, which is why so many of the episodes follow so closely to the book.

I do wonder why, if they were following the first book from season one, they felt the need to pull characters, etc. from later books in the series (ie- Jensen, Richard’s half-sister). Each individual book was jam packed with adventure, so you would think they have enough to work with.Perhaps for cast continuitybetween the seasons? Maybe to bring in more characters since having only three people to follow is somewhat difficult on a show when all three are together. Part of what gets a show through an episode s being able to cut back and forth between the different stories happening at once and with only 3 main characters there can’t be much in the way of subplots.

A particular change between the books and show that I appreciate is the way that Richard defeats Rahl. While I thought the book was very clever in its solution and employed various bits of knowledge gained over the course of the book, I also don’t think it would have played well visually. And it also a little melodramatic. Plus, in the book, Kahlan and Richard solve their touching dilemma and while that was nice to see, it was annoying for the problem to be solved so early on as the drama between them became about having a baby or getting separated, which is less compelling than overcoming love’s obstacles. I also like that they introduced Cara, a Mord Sith (with the use of a magical weapon called an Agiel they capture, control, torture, and train those with magic) who plays a major role after the first book. As one of my favorite characters in the book, I was more than pleased to see her enter the picture.

The scenery is breathtaking and the action, while certainly nothing groundbreaking, is certainly fun to watch. Its ratings were high enough to earn it a second season and I for one am excited to see where it will go next. (Catch all of season one on hulu now.)

Check out my book review of the series.

Buy season one and catch up now: Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season