The HuB A Lunch Community <![CDATA[ Breaking Ain't Bad]]>
One part of the show that didn't get remembered a whole lot was the father, Hal. Hal was more or less a regular bumbling sitcom dad who drifted in and out of cloudcuckooland. The actor who played him was named Bryan Cranston, and Cranston's thankless and inconspicuous work playing Hal probably had him with the top mark for being relegated to TV guest spot obscurity for the remainder of his career while the rest of the cast moved on to bigger projects.

That made it all the more shocking when he turned up years later, almost out of nowhere, as the lead actor in one of the greatest shows in the history of television: Breaking Bad. And Cranston wasn't just leading by creator design, either; although the show probably would have been great no matter what, Cranston was carrying it on his shoulders, bringing a heavy gravitas to a very complex character and delivering THE greatest lead performance in TV history in the process.

Breaking Bad revolves around two years in the life of Walter White (Bryan Cranston). White is a great genius in chemistry who founded a company called Grey Matter which made its stock owners rich and headed a research committee which paved the way for some groundbreaking stuff which eventually won a Nobel Prize. Trouble is, Walter once had to sell his stock for rent money, and since this was before Grey Matter hit it big, he never got to sniff the fruits of his labor. Hell, his partners are actively trying to write off his research as "nothing more than naming the company." Still, though, all things considered, he didn't do too badly for himself: He has a wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) who loves him dearly and a son, Walter Junior (RJ Mitte), who idolizes him. There's a second kid - Holly - on the way. The son has cerebral palsy, though, and the unborn wasn't planned, which proves to be a bit of a concern because Walt is a high school chemistry teacher who makes $47,300 a year, when he can get work. He makes ends meet with a second job at a car wash. He doesn't have anything stocked up in the way of his family's financial security, which is bad because he was also diagnosed with lung cancer and doesn't have two more years left.

One day, his brother in law Hank (Dean Norris), a DEA agent, captures an enormous bounty of methamphetamine in a bust, as well as the drug money that goes with it. When Walt asks if that kind of money is a typical score for meth deals, Hank says that meth dealing is good money before the DEA catches you. The desperate Walt, however, tuned out after hearing "good money." With those two words, his biggest financial decision is sealed. He flags down a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who is a known drug dealer. Together, they go into business. Walt cooks the meth, a purer form than anything else on the market, using his knowledge of chemistry. Jesse sells it, and they makes gobs of money, slowly build a drug empire, and Walt finds the financial security he so badly wants for his family…. While his new side job costs him his family. And everything else, for that matter.

The cost of drug dealing isn't something that comes at the very end of the series as a morality tale. Yes, there's a subtle morality tale, but it develops gradually as the series goes on. There are five total seasons of Breaking Bad, and the divorce comes in the third, while Skyler's trust was gone long before. Walt gradually loses sight of just what brought him into meth dealing, too. At first, he goes into it trying to be as much an idealist as a meth dealer can be. He is disgusted by the violence he encounters almost immediately, and bounces in and out of promises to just up and leave. He keeps getting pulled back in, always saying "this time, no one will get hurt," but it always turns out to be hollow. As the name of the show implies, Walt does finally break bad. Near the beginning of the first season, upon trying to decide whether or not to kill a drug dealer chained up in his basement, Walt is so torn over the issue that he writes down a pros and cons list over it. By the end of the fourth season, he's ordering hits without the slightest flinch.

Yeah, Walt loses his soul. First, he stays as Walt, but only as a meth dealer. Then, by the end of the first season, he's managed to divide into a pair of personalities - the good Walter White, and the increasing culmination of bad, a side called Heisenberg which he uses as his business side. Eventually, Heisenberg gets the better of Walter White. So, since he's the one carrying the show, the voice of his conscience is heard in his on-again-off-again partner, Jesse. Jesse starts out as an extremely small-time drug dealer, but soon it becomes clear that he doesn't enjoy his job very much. He would give up all his money to make only some of it back legally, and at one point in the series, he's so disgusted and feeling so guilt-ridden that he drives down a street literally throwing his money out of a car window. Jesse tries again and again to leave and to smack some kind of sense and limitation into Walt's head, but Walt keeps going because he keeps tuning Jesse out and talking Jesse into believing that what they're doing isn't that bad, or that the next time they make a deal, it will be different, and all those other nice things.

As Walt sinks deeper and deeper into the cesspool he creates for himself, Hank gets closer and closer to tracking down the dangerous new dealer in town - this Heisenberg character. In the meantime, Walt builds an empire, acquires a real lab to use instead of the RV he originally gets in order to cook. He goes from a small-time, VERY psychotic character named Tuco (Raymond Cruz) to a shady lawyer named Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) to a high executive dealer named Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser). As Heisenberg takes over Walt and Walt's life falls apart around him, we start to wonder why he's staying in the meth business. Only in the incredible final episode does he reveal the truth - not just to the audience, but to himself: He was good at it. He enjoyed it. He felt his most alive while he did it.

Breaking Bad is a working combination of a drama, thriller, and VERY dark comedy. There are points where a viewer can't help but laugh, but nothing in the funniest scenes feels right about it. In that way, it's a little like the movie Goodfellas - the show finds a lot of humor in the darkest possible places, as if to highlight the total overall weirdness that can exist there. (Of note: Goodfellas was also about a drug dealer.) Breaking Bad is one of those shows in which every scene shot for it is written to stick and make an impression, including the most unassuming and quiet ones. Creator Vince Gilligan referred to it as a modern western.

It isn't very often that a show comes along and gets so many things so rightly down. One of the things that strikes viewers is how few punches it pulls. On AMC, its original network, the characters threw out an occasional F-bomb which was bleeped out. The creators kept it in the DVD and Netflix versions. Breaking Bad is more violent than a lot of movies, and it doesn't have any qualms about showing real violence. However, for most of its run, it does seem to lack the anyone-can-die feel and attitude that so many other shows have come to develop over time. Although death comes and goes around the Breaking Bad universe quite regularly, the lead characters all have typical TV star immunity, and it's hard to believe many of them are in real danger, even when they ARE in danger. Skyler joins her husband in laundering, but her focus is on a side plot with one of her bosses. Hank's wife Marie (Betsy Brandt) is a kleptomaniac, which is brought up in very few major instances, and Marie just doesn't serve much purpose as a character outside of a story arc where Hank is injured.

Not until the final eight episodes does the show shed its safe play toward the main characters. Everything takes on a manic intensity that gets increasingly unhinged as the final season roars along to its conclusion, tying up its loose ends in the process and giving us a satisfying end to the business that Walter and Jesse bled for.

Breaking Bad, by running only five seasons, also managed to avoid falling into that trap of overstaying its welcome and becoming insufferable and losing its audience. The years of Breaking Bad, though, are so addicting and intense that, upon the finale, one could feel a sense of liberation.]]> Thu, 9 Jan 2014 17:01:22 +0000
<![CDATA[Supernatural Quick Tip by teeisbritish]]> Mon, 3 Jun 2013 16:10:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ The T.V show that started the circle]]> Kinda had to be here, right?


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<![CDATA[ An American Office]]>
Okay, I passed on season eight, but who didn't?

There aren't many sitcoms in the world about real adults. Usually the adult contingent on TV is represented by the parent, the conservative square, or the douchebros in their 20's who still think they're in high school. It seems like shows about adults are getting to be a once-a-decade thing. In the 80's, there was Cheers. The 90's gave us Frasier, a Cheers spinoff which established itself as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. In the Millennium, The Office decided to come along, but even so, The Office was different. Even the most adult sitcoms on TV tended to portray people leading lives of glamor. The Office took that all out for a portrayal of a workplace not unlike yours or mine.

Hell, The Office doesn't even take place in a glamorous city. This ain't Los Angeles. It ain't New York City of Philadelphia, two places which are referenced an awful lot on the show. It's not Miami or Seattle. The Office happens within the confines of Scranton, a city in Pennsylvania. Not a suburb of a large city, but a city of its own which is so insignificant that most viewers of The Office probably never heard of it until the show debuted. The characters are Rust Belt archetypes. Although one character - Andy (Ed Helms) - loves to pimp his Ivy League degree from Cornell, most of these guys nailed their high school diplomas to their walls and decided they were officially done with education. Then they took the first available open spot in whatever little place they could get into, and flipped their dream switch to the off position. None of them is working in the titular office because they want to be there. Okay, well, there's a possible exception with Dwight (Rainn Wilson), but nearly every character on the show is working at said office because they happened to fall into the position.

The Office is a branch of a struggling, rather unremarkable little paper company called Dunder Mifflin. (And later, Sabre.) The workers do the nine to five thing every day under the watchful eyes of their managers. The Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin has had several managers come in and out over the years: Deangelo Vickers (Will Ferrell), Rob California (James Spader), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton, yes the character and actor have the same name), and now, Dwight Schrute. But the manager who is unquestionably synonymous with the position was Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the manager for the first seven seasons of The Office and arguably the very face of the show. For the first seven seasons, the operations of Dunder Mifflin in Scranton revolved around Michael Scott's ineptitude, relentless need to always be the center of attention, and a lack of self-awareness which would make a pop music diva look grounded. Michael was a terrible manager, but certain academic theories - especially the Peter Principle - argue that Michael was just given a job above his competence level. Several times over Michael's years, he's shown to be a fantastic salesman and a shrewd, tactful negotiator. He's one of those managers who would rather be a friend to his employees than a boss, and he thinks his relationships with his employees are a lot better than they are - especially with poor Ryan Howard (no, not the baseball player, BJ Novak) and Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker). He has a weird man crush on Ryan which Ryan finds more than a little creepy, and considers the latter his black friend, despite Stanley's contempt for Michael being obvious. Michael makes a lot of backhanded remarks based in racial stereotypes, and they naturally rub Stanley the wrong way. Michael's feelings toward Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) are quite the opposite - he hates Toby's guts for seemingly no reason, to the point where he once tried to plant drugs on Toby in order to get him arrested. (Michael had second thoughts about the plan, eventually, and the "drugs" turned out to be a salad anyway.)

Michael wasn't especially fond of Dwight, either, although his relationship with him was more like/hate. Dwight loves Michael to death, and is in fact the one employee of Dunder Mifflin who appears to have any real commitment or conviction to his job. While Dwight is just a supporting character, we probably know more about his background than we do any other character on The Office. There are some episodes which take Dwight to a farm he owns, and Dwight is also just a very animated character. He often brings props into work to make some weird point or intimidate his co-workers.

The Office is more driven by a theme than by any kind of story arc. This makes perfect sense because the show is seen through the lens of a group of documentarians who are filming the daily goings-on in the office to reveal a typical American workplace. Although a lot of the things that go on in the office space are hilarious, the real fun begins when the various characters are speaking directly to the camera. They tend to reveal their deepest, most forbidden thoughts about the others in their space. You would think they would be a little bit coy about what they say, being as they're, you know, TALKING TO A FILM CAMERA, but nope! The documentary was apparently being made for a period of ten years, and it's only over this past season - the final season of the show - that these characters are finally starting to snap out of their complacency and realize that holy shit, people are going to be WATCHING me say and do these things! Stanley has suddenly become aware of the fact that his three extramarital affairs may be broadcast ("If I turn up dead, let me save you the trouble: My wife did it.") Andy preempted his inevitable (and very deserved) firing by quitting to pursue his acting and singing careers.

The way The Office presents itself can best be described as this is the office, this is the people who work in the office. Therefore, The Office shows many shades of Seinfeld in the way it grows and develops its revolving array of characters. Their traits aren't forced on them by the writers, but they instead tend to sort of gradually crop up. I haven't seen very many character traits that feel forced, because they're organically weaved into the show by a crew of writers which involved many members of the cast. They clearly knew what they were doing, and so The Office probably has the most realistic character development I've ever seen in a TV show. Every character on the show has insufferable traits which balance out the redeeming traits. Almost every time one character is just about to soar over one line or another, the writing causes them to suddenly pull back so the audience can be reminded of that character's humanity. The most glaring example of this is probably Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey), a stern, no-nonsense worker and a homophobe who is visibly disgusted when one worker, Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez), comes out of the closet. (Read: Forced out of the closet by Michael.) She also carries on affairs with Andy and Dwight at the same time, and the two of them eventually end up dueling over her. According to Angela, it's the second time in her life that two men she was having affairs with fought over her in a duel. The show also did this a lot with Michael Scott. Andy's character development seems to have an arc. The only character this method missed is Dwight, who was supposed to be a little over the top and just got more absurd and paranoid as The Office moved along.

This has caused a unique problem for the show: With a cast that rotated so often, not every character got a chance to develop this kind of humanity. A lot of otherwise great characters ended up getting shafted a little bit because the writers couldn't take years to gradually work on them. The former warehouse manager, Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson) eventually worked his way into the Assistant Regional Manager position. Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) began as a quiet, reserved, and timid receptionist. She gradually became a more assertive risk-taker, married co-worker Jim Halpert (Jon Krasinski), worked her way through sales, and managed to bluff her way into a nonexistent position as Office Administrator. More recent characters, though, just get quirks taken up to eleven. The weirdness of Rob California is a large part of why I was put off the eighth season. Gabe Lewis (Zach Woods) doesn't seem to have changed THAT much. He was introduced in the Sabre storyline in the sixth season. Receptionist Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper), the receptionist brought in when Pam leaves the position, just kept getting more and more lovably naive. I can't say I complain very much about the less-developed new characters, though, because they bring a purely comedic bite to the show which is sometimes necessary. Erin has become one of my favorite characters on TV. In one episode, she takes the last picture with a disposable camera, then immediately throws it into the trash, commenting about how wasteful they are and how you never get to see the pictures. Her incidents with a cake and a pen shipment are some of the most priceless scenes on the show.

The problem I have with The Office is its series of ridiculous romantic entanglements, each more ridiculous than the last. Jim and Pam I went along with because the two of them are one of TV's great couples. When the series began, Pam was engaged to a guy named Roy (David Denman), a boorish, inconsiderate, and rude person whom Pam thinks it was a mistake to be engaged to. She eventually married Jim, and their relationship went by mostly drama-free, and included a pair of kids. A turn for the worse happened in the past season when Jim took a job in Philadelphia, which I think happened because the writers got bored. But for the most part, everything went hunky dory for them. Michael also got a happily ever after sendoff with his longtime love, Holly Flax (Amy Ryan). The affair between Ryan and customer service representative Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling), I was also happy to go along with because it brought some wonderful comedic fodder to the show.

A lot of the other love triangles on The Office, though, are better for daily afternoon TV than weekly prime time TV. The serial relationship between Ryan and Kelly was pushing it as it was, but Kelly was also briefly involved with Darryl too. New worker Pete Miller (Jake Lacy), Gabe, and Andy have all been been Erin's worse half. And with an engagement to Angela also under his belt, Andy is apparently the office player. It's enough to make me go to Dunder Mifflin in Scranton and fill out an application just so I could have a shot with Erin myself. (Let's face it, Ellie Kemper is just cute as a button.)

Yeah, to cook all this daytime soap opera bullshit up, the writers must have been exceptionally bored. It wasn't as if office life wasn't being mined for all the gold that could be grabbed from it. Part of the reason the series resonate so much with so many people is that it involves a very sympathetic portrayal of office life, with workers who despise their job and often have to invent silly little time-wasters just to stave off terminal boredom. And the general story arcs were also done well: Over the course of the series, the Scranton office absorbs workers from closing branches of Dunder Mifflin. The company gets bought and merged, causing the workers to fret for their jobs. So the workers create little work parties, an Office Olympics, make silly little bets with each other, and hold absurd contests. If there's some unnecessary obligation that needs to be attended to, the office workers grudgingly take care of it, fighting fatigue and boredom the whole way. The love triangles don't enhance the series much at all. They bog it down, in fact.

The Office was supposed to have a spinoff featuring Dwight's farm, but it was shut down and the show's pilot was worked into The Office's canon for the final season. I'm glad this happened - I love Dwight, but the man is just too nutty to carry a whole show, and in any case, the pilot made it look too manic for its own good. The Office is about to end a fine run of nine years, which is perhaps for the best, so it doesn't become a franchise zombie. Even though I missed the first few seasons, I'll be tuned in for tomorrow night's finale.]]> Wed, 15 May 2013 17:31:29 +0000
<![CDATA[Eureka Quick Tip by wilsontd]]> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 17:57:31 +0000 <![CDATA[Supernatural Quick Tip by wilsontd]]> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 17:53:36 +0000 <![CDATA[ The World News Headquarters]]>
They had some early successes during the era: Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist was popular, and being a fan of stand-up comedy since I was six, I would tune into a show with Bill Maher every now and then called Politically Incorrect, but mostly I was watching old Saturday Night Live reruns I never caught the first time. In 1996, Comedy Central debuted a satirical show which I thought would be just awesome: It was called The Daily Show, a self-styled fake news show which featured comic monologues of the day's news headlines, segments and debates from correspondents, and The Daily Show News Truck! I couldn't wait to see it.

Unfortunately, when The Daily Show debuted, I was lukewarm at best to it. It was disappointing, to say the least. It had some serious problems: First and foremost, the host, a Sportscenter co-anchor named Craig Kilborn, had the persona of a smarmy, smug, self-satisfied preppy frat boy. He was an insufferable twat and I wanted to slug his punchable face every time he launched into his insipid monologues. Second: Speaking of insipid monologues, the comedy presented by The Daily Show was way too broad to have the zinging bite of a good satirical news show. Third, the news itself had way too much of a water-skiing squirrel feel to it. The Daily Show was playing it safe, and trying too hard to appeal through so-called human interest to broaden its audience. Fourth, it relied way too much on its hosts and correspondents which, with a self-serving frat boy topping off the news totem, was just not good. Network differences kept the show in a witless hybrid format, since Comedy Central was concerned about its appeal, and the show had a mean-spirited streak to it which pissed off even the cast. Said then-correspondent Stephen Colbert: "You wanted to take your soul off, put it on a wire hanger, and leave it in the closet before you got on the plane to do one of those pieces."

The Daily Show was ignored by virtually everyone, even after Comedy Central finally struck gold in 1997 with the debut of South Park. Little did I know, as a sometime-viewer of the show, there was backstage friction which resulted in the mass exodus of several people who made the show what it was: Co-creator Lizz Winstead left after falling out with Kilborn, and correspondents Brian Unger and A. Whitney Brown left shortly before. In December of 1998, the show had its final disagreement with Kilborn, who left after the December 17 episode. From there, The Daily Show aired reruns for four weeks while it was given a retooling.

On January 11, 1999, the newly refurbished Daily Show showed up. At the helm was a little-known comic with a flair for politics best known for a failed talk show on MTV. His name was Jon Stewart, and he served as an executive producer of The Daily Show as well as its host. Onion contributors Ben Karlin and David Javerbaum were hired as writers, and The Daily Show took off in a new direction based in razor political humor. It fulfilled its potential, became the golden success Comedy Central hoped for, drew lots of criticism from "real" political pundits, and eventually birthed a spinoff starring Stephen Colbert. It also won two Peabody Awards - those are awards for journalism, not entertainment!

Karlin describes his approach to the show: "The main thing, for me, is seeing hypocrisy. People who know better saying things that you know they don't believe." This is a good summary of the usual opening segment, which usually involves Stewart firing off a hilarious running commentary on whatever world news issues were tackled in the mainstream that day. Being important, world-changing things, those initial monologues have a hard political slant, and Stewart is an unapologetic liberal who doesn't veil his contempt for Fox News pundits. He calls their hypocrisy quite often, and every so often Fox News gets fed up and tries to call attention to "Jon Stewart's War Against Conservatives." I personally see it as more of a war against Fox News. Stewart often tries to deflect criticism by pointing out that he's a comedy host of a comedy show. That's technically true, but it rings hollow to non-liberals like myself because Stewart's stand-up routine and interviews have shown him to be well-read on important issues. On the interview segments which cover The Daily Show's last ten minutes, Stewart has had many involved conversations with politically-oriented guests, and he's challenged them as often as they've challenged him. Honestly, Stewart at his interviewer best is an insightful thinker who can dish out challenging and controversial thoughts and also learn and think when an interviewee suggests something he hadn't considered.

Stewart does acknowledge the more liberal view of the show, though he contends that it isn't intentional because The Daily Show isn't a political organization. He believes the first and foremost duty of the show is to be funny, and explains that Republicans tend to be better comic fodder because "I think we consider those with power and influence targets and those without it, not." Stewart is the right guy to host The Daily Show. Even at his most mocking, he attacks the news story he's reporting and the major people who are there making the news, and never tries to insult the people who watch the show. And he is also very often critical of leftist politicians who are weak, timid, or just useless.

The first ten minutes usually covers a few of the big world news stories, then goes into a correspondent segment. Sometimes the correspondent segments can be the best part of a show. Correspondents include Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Jason Jones, and Aasif Mandavi, and sometimes Lewis Black shows up. The Daily Show has become a launching pad of sorts for some of today's most prominent comic talent, including Steve Carell, who is best known as Michael Scott from the American version of The Office; Ed Helms, also from The Office and The Hangover; and the brilliant Stephen Colbert, who has actually eclipsing The Daily Show as a modern, political version of Andy Kaufmann.

Sometimes, The Daily Show will take on broader satire. When Congressman Anthony Weiner was caught sending photographs of his surnamesake to a handful of women an resigned from Congress, The Daily Show held a phony apology forum in which Stewart mock-resigned from his post out of shame for not using more "weiner" jokes. Earlier that year, on a very spectacular comedic swoop, he spent the first segment mocking the recently-killed Osama bin Laden, and had four of his correspondents do separate segments: First was a pissed-off Aasif Mandavi, who was angry about trying to find bin Laden in the mountains while he was actually living comfortably in the suburbs; then came Samantha Bee, who attempted to flip bin Laden's house; John Oliver looked at it through the lens of the British Royal wedding, which was also that weekend; then Jason Jones raved about the lifting of travel restrictions, which he theorized would allow him to carry weapons on airplanes again. Stewart's next segment that day was an attack on the Royal wedding and the fact that the Royals had forbidden photos from being used for satirical purposes, which put the British Oliver up in arms. Indecision has become routine for The Daily Show, which is scathing coverage of Presidential elections.

The great weakness of The Daily Show is often the interviews. First of all, it feels like a waste whenever Stewart is forced to throw his intellect at whatever actor is there making the promotional rounds. Second, Stewart himself appears to sometimes suffer from some kind of hypocrisy of his own; he gets to interview many of the people he attacks, but tends to be toothless in doing so. He seems to have gotten better about that lately, though; some years ago, he interviewed the President of Pakistan, who claimed Osama bin Laden wasn't hiding in his country. The day after bin Laden was killed, he attacked the President of Pakistan, calling him a liar, and when this same President later dropped by the show, Stewart found a polite way to ask him what gives. Ann Coulter, a conservative pundit known for hating her own gender and wanting to bomb everyone, was invited onto the show. She was famously booed off by the audience.

The degree to which you can really enjoy The Daily Show probably depends on the degree to which you agree with Jon Stewart's political views. Or, if you're more like me, the degree to which you're able to appreciate the fact that guys like him call out professional pundits who claim to speak for the side you frequently take. The truthiness of the matter is that The Daily Show is fantastic if you're a liberal, libertarian, or old-style conservative; a godless attack on all that is good and righteous in the world if you're a neoconservative; and an obvious slave to the bourgeois if you lean socialist or lefter. (Yes, that's a reference to The Colbert Report, but I'm sticking to it because it came from The Daily Show and I'll be reviewing it soon.)]]> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 20:30:37 +0000
<![CDATA[Breaking Bad Quick Tip by devora]]>
Warning: I watched all three seasons in one weekend.]]> Sat, 3 Mar 2012 03:56:35 +0000
<![CDATA[Mad Men Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sun, 8 Jan 2012 19:47:15 +0000 <![CDATA[Kitchen Nightmares Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Notable episodes from the UK series include the Curry Lounge, Fish and Anchor, Oscar's, the Priory, and the debut episode Bonaparte's.]]> Wed, 28 Dec 2011 20:25:11 +0000
<![CDATA[Jersey Shore Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2011 21:31:15 +0000 <![CDATA[The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Quick Tip by FM_ALEX]]> The great first season was six episodes long with each paced very well and surprisingly kept in tact what the comic was about. That of course is the humans and not the zombies; it really is a character driven story. I knew with Frank Darabont on board this would be made right. He did a great job here has I really enjoyed this show, from TV all the way to DVD/Blu-Ray.]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 14:45:48 +0000 <![CDATA[ LOVE THIS SHOW]]>


I have been reading the comic since it was released and that is no lie. I am a big fan of zombies in any format mainly because my brother is literally scared of them. I can't help it but I love it. So when I first that the comic was being turned into a series I was super excited. I had always believed that this would be the right format for such a grand story. If this was made into a feature film there is no way it could fit all that it would need to.

Now as a big fan of the comic from Robert Kirkman I could tell you anything that is spot on direct and anything changed but that would take the fun out of it. Plus for any one who has not read it or is not a comic reader this is a very stand alone show. Any one who has read the comic I will say that you should not be disappointed, sure the comic is classic but this show is also really good. Well cast, acted, written, and directed, I would have to say that this was and is a great show.

The great first season was six episodes long with each paced very well and surprisingly kept in tact what the comic was about. That of course is the humans and not the zombies; it really is a character driven story. I knew with Frank Darabont on board this would be made right. He did a great job here has I really enjoyed this show, from TV all the way to DVD/Blu-Ray.

The story follows a cop named Rick Grimes who is shot in the line of duty; he ends up in a coma. When he finally awakes no one is to be found and he is all alone, alone in the hospital. He now is on the hunt for his wife and son who as far as he knows are missing. Everything he knew and loved is gone, and besides meeting two new friends they go their own ways. He heads to Atlanta based on a tip to find his family and runs into undead and other survivors along the way. Now outside of the city it turns out wife Lori and his son Carl are with another group of survivors including Rick's best friend and co worker Shane Walsh. They all believe Rick to be dead so that leads to an interesting dynamic for our little group of friends.

Like I said before this is a character driven story and it really helps the show out. Now of course the "walkers" are there ready to eat all humans, and there are a lot of them. When there is action there is some good action but the story is really strongest amongst the living. So one group is already out there surviving and one man is out there in the middle of it all looking for his family. Do they find each other, well I say watch the show or read the comic to find out.

I will just say that the entire cast was great in my opinion and were wonderfully cast. So there is no need to go one by one since they were all great. Of the six episodes Frank Darabont was a writer on four and directed the first episode. I would also like to point out that Ernest Dickerson directed an episode, you may know him as a Spike Lee protégé who directed classics like "Juice" and "Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight". Any way the writers and directors for this sure all did a good job here.

Now special features for the two disc set include a making of, inside each episode, sneak peaks, behind the scenes, a convention panel, and the trailer. Now of course now they have released a three disc edition to get more money out of me. Of course I am going to shell out even though I really shouldn't. I hear there are commentaries on each episode, dang them for adding that. I am a big fan of this so I need to get it.

The Walking Dead: Season OneThe Walking Dead: Season OneThe Walking Dead: Season OneThe Walking Dead: Season OneThe Walking Dead: Season OneThe Walking Dead: Season One]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 14:43:58 +0000
<![CDATA[The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 15:56:12 +0000 <![CDATA[ I wish there were more food and less drama]]>
*** Needless to say, this review features strong language. ***

Gordon Ramsay swears a lot. While everyone's getting all upset about Melissa Leo dropping one edited F-Bomb at the Oscars, Ramsay drops it about 1,500 times per hour on TV. There's literally no TV network who would dare broadcast him live. He even has a show called "The F Word", if that didn't deliver the hint clearly enough. 

Anyway, Kitchen Nightmares is the Fox version of an English show and is exactly the same except that Fox completely screwed it up in that way that only Fox can. Much of the calmness and focus on food has been ditched in favor of casting heroes and villains and turning the most mundane event into some Jerry Springer-style drama. The threat of violence hangs thickly in the air, perforated by the bleep machine running on overdrive as yet another clueless owner gets told he's a f***ing donkey-slash-idiot.

To give full credit, Fox have shot this quite cleverly with 6-8 ceiling-mounted remote control cameras and two handhelds, which enables them to get reaction shots out of everyone, especially since most of the show is shown out of sequence. For example:



CUT TO: Reaction of shocked-looking customer apparently interrupted by the tirade from the kitchen.

This little editing trick is used liberally - if anything can be considered liberal on Fox - so the program can follow this simple storyboard:

ACT ONE: Show how badly a restaurant is doing ("In the shit," as Gordon would say), have Gordon vomit all over their food ("You're serving shit"), show how the owner's marriage or family are breaking up.

ACT TWO: Watch the restaurant fall over on a packed dinner service, customers complain about waiting or bad ("shit") food, and the owner in denial.

ACT THREE: Gordon brings in fresh food and creates a new menu (which looks fantastic before dinner), the restaurant relaunches successfully but *only* after one snag in the kitchen is fixed. Owner admits mistakes, saves marriage and another kitten is born.

In the British version, the restaurant could only be saved when a tangible problem was addressed, such as - big shock - the food. In the American version, the obstacles have a Hollywood-style ethereal quality and tend to be about "taking control of the kitchen", confidence, commitment and all the things that movies have told us are good over the years.

That's not to say the US version doesn't have its moments, but it's like the difference between British and American movies - awkward silences and deep thought versus explosions, fights and robots. I of course prefer the latter just like everyone else does, since Avatar wouldn't have worked with Anthony Hopkins playing a sexually repressed butler on Pandora, and also because I'm secretly as shallow as a cake dish. 

Some of the best moments include:
  • A guy called Peter from New Jersey who thinks he's "Joey Two-Shoes" and living in the Sopranos. Muscle necks, "how yoo doin'?" and street fights ensue.
  • A delusional actor-turned-chef in LA  who balances obnoxiousness and stupidity (obnoxity?). Note to kids: going to LA to become famous will likely lead to a life in the food service business.
  • A guy called David Leonard in New York who is one of the most unpleasant people to ever appear on TV. And that's saying a lot for a network that specializes in unpleasant people.

So what did we learn?

Well, four seasons into this recurring nightmare and loyal viewers can tell you a few things about the restaurant gig:
  • Don't start a restaurant, ever. That $100,000 job that you're bored of is infinitely better than working 24/7 as a food slave trying to rescue their house from foreclosure.
  • Don't go into business with friends or family. Really, don't.
  • Use fresh, local, wholesome ingredients - not frozen shit from Sysco.
  • Clean your damned kitchen. Don't wait for the cockroaches to keep the salmonella company.
  • Create a short simple menu. Diners don't need a Cheesecake Factory-style phonebook.

Personally, I would also add that having your joint appearing on national TV probably doesn't hurt either. In the meantime, don't hesitate to contact my agent if you're short of a yelling British person.

]]> Tue, 1 Mar 2011 21:31:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Fringe Quick Tip by atfmb1]]> Tue, 22 Feb 2011 04:57:23 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Acclaimed Comic Book Series is "WALKING ALIVE" Under The AMC Flag!]]> see my review here) of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” know that I was real impressed with the opening act. My hopes for a really engaging zombie survival-horror series was elevated that I followed the series on a weekly basis (yes, even my dates revolved around me viewing the latest episode from the DVR). The live action series was so successful that AMC is now committed to another 13 episodes for season 2.

Well, I have declared that I am a HUGE fan of the comic book series (see my review here and here) and so my review of the live-action series may be coming from someone who has the source material embedded in their DNA. Robert Kirkham, Tony Moore and Andrew Adlard had created something incredible; sure there were parts that were a little heavy-handed, but it was a brilliant, ambitious and a bold undertaking that defined “survival horror” that it proved a true ‘zombie epic‘. It revolved on its characters and the story was just full of surprises and bleakness, it revolutionized mature graphic storytelling.


I guess I need to get real objective real fast if I am to write a review. I would not be able to present a fair analysis of the TV Series’ first season if I had hang ups of just how good the source material is. My mistake was loving the source material too much, that I delayed my review of this first season until I got my thoughts together. Anyway, the live action series was produced by Frank Darabont and unlike the pilot episode (which was also directed by Darabont himself), the 6 episode series had different directors at its helm (each episode had a different director that included Ernest Dickerson and Guy Ferland). I noticed some tonal shifts from time to time, but they weren’t enough to hurt the series.

Since I have reviewed the 70 minute pilot episode, I will just give a small summary of what the 6 episode series was all about. Much like the source material, “The Walking Dead” is a about a group of people who are trying to stay alive and sane after the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. After the reunion of Rick’s family that produces friction between his family and his best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal), the group try hard to hold on to their sanity and humanity. They face trials that test the boundaries of decency, morality and the need to survive, as they try to fend off the ‘walking dead’ and even the remaining vestiges of the human populace.




The series has the themes that made the first few volumes of the comic books brilliant. Yes, this TV series has been watered down to meets the standards of late night TV viewing, but I guess with Robert Kirkham as a consultant, the themes of ‘being human’ and how we struggle to work together in the face of an impossible situation remains strong in the series. Seems like humans pay less importance to co-existing than zombies (these are themes that have made Romero the maestro of zombie films) and the series makes it its primary ‘meat and potatoes’. The TV series does largely deviate from the comic series in the delivery of such themes, (I can understand it, since this isn’t HBO) especially in the introduction of new characters and certain outlines in the scheme of things.

Beloved characters from the comic series such as Andrea (Laurie Holden), Morgan, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Amy (Emma Bell), Sophia (Madison Lintz), Shane (maybe more but I didn't double-check) join Rick Grimes and his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and their son Karl in the series’ focus. I loved that they were easily recognizable from the source material as they looked like their characters. There are several additions to the script as Merle Dixon and Daryl Dixon (played by Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus) play a significant part of the story’s outline. There are also several additional characters to season one that weren’t in the source material, some played a significant area of its themes while some just came and went. There is also a certain Dr. Edwin Jenner from the CDC (Noah Emmerich) who played a significant role in the series’ final episode. So are the additions and deviations fruitful in expanding the source material? Sometimes, yes, and then oftentimes no.



Much of the series is spent on Rick trying to do the decent thing as he tries to amend some of his mistakes. They travel back to Atlanta and they go back to the woods, they do their thing and then they try to take on new goals. I understand that much of season one is all about ‘building’ its characters but there were times that I felt that it also introduced characters who felt unnecessary to its premise. (But I reserve the right to change this statement since I still have to see if it goes anywhere in season two) I felt that there were some changes that dragged the series’ playbook and I felt that nothing much happens during the middle of season one. Sure, we see some surprising events such as the conversation between Lori and Shane. The two had become lovers (in the comic Lori only found comfort in Shane’s arms, an expression of the distracting/healing properties of sex and Lori‘s need for protection) and Lori fell to Shane’s arms since she was told that Rick was dead. The additions of Morales’ group in Atlanta was good but it was nothing surprising as it proved to be staples of zombie movies. (where are Tyrese and his group?) Don’t get wrong, season one had enough tribute sequences to keep the diehard fan happy. There’s Shane losing his temper, the leadership struggle between him and Rick, and the heart-breaking demise of Andrea’s sister (and that funeral) was one of the series’ high points.




I suppose one can say that while I liked some devices and elements, I just felt that they could’ve stuck to the original material and made a much more compelling 6-episode series. The series had a very strong 70 minute pilot and some good scenes in the 2nd and 5th episodes, then nothing much happens until the final episode. There were points that I felt that the series was rushed, and the pacing was a little uneven. But fortunately true to the spirit of the source material, this first season gives all the blood, violence and gore it could muster on late night cable TV. We’ve seen zombie fights and such and the series does do them right. There were some use of CGI (no more than a Romero flick would these days) in the scenes and they were quite violent for a TV series.

I suppose season one is a tad uneven. Despite its deviations, I was happy to see the scene in the CDC as it helped define what was going on in regards to the zombie transformation and the emotion in the final episode was truly heartfelt. It also manages to inject some questions to entice viewers to come back for season two. Given the huge budget AMC had invested in this series, I understand that they needed to do a ‘test run’ before committing with a limited number of episodes but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I do hope it corrects some rough edges and come back stronger with a full 13 episode season two. Yes, while I am not entirely pleased with season one, I remain optimistic for season two.

I am still in for season two despite an uneven first season. That's a good thing.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

 ]]> Thu, 30 Dec 2010 04:59:15 +0000
<![CDATA[Supernatural Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
Good show to practice before the upcoming SANDMAN TV series.]]> Wed, 1 Dec 2010 15:01:36 +0000
<![CDATA[Pushing Daisies Quick Tip by Lopez15]]> Sat, 27 Nov 2010 06:18:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ 4 stars: Life than death than life again]]> What if you had the power to bring the dead back life, what would you do with said power and how would you use it? Would you use it to help people or would you just lock yourself away afraid of a lasting human connection. A young man named Ned (Lee Pace in a phenomenal performance) knows this better than anyone does, you see Ned has a special gift with one touch the young pie maker can touch the dead and bring it back to life. Ned has lived a life of solitude as his power has some side effects you see although the pie maker can bring things back to life however, by doing so something of equal life must be took in its place to survive. Therefore, the pie maker has locked himself away in his oddly named pie shop "The Pie Hole" making the pies his mother loved so much. One day  a snarky  private investigator named Emerson Cod discovers his secret  and purposes a deal with the pie maker   help him wake the dead to find out who killed and they collect the reward money and split it evenly  and by doing so  Emerson Cod keeps the pie maker's secret from the rest of the world. After a personal tragedy, the pie maker’s childhood sweetheart Charlotte "Chuck" Charles joins this mismatched sleuth as they solve some of the quirkiest murder mysteries ever conceived. From  "Dead Like Me" and "Wonder Falls" creator Bryan Fuller  and executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld  the director of  "The Addams Family", "The Addams Family values", "Men in Black" and "Men in Black II"  comes a magical, tragical, fantastical show that is nothing like you have ever seen before or will ever see again these are the stories of "Pushing Daisies".

I have always  had an eclectic taste  when it comes to  what I will watch on T.V. but after 12 years of watching  the same shows over and over and over again I have found myself  bored with all these  police procedural that have graced the small screen over the last 35 years. The most famous are "The Streets of San Francisco"(1972-1977), "NYPD Blue"(1993-2005)," Law & Order" (1990-2010), "C.S.I.” (2000- ) and the list goes on. I have seen so many cop shows that I am all copped out(no pun intended) I want something new, something original, something fresh, stylish, quirky and I  have finally found the show that I have been for so long searching for Bryan Fuller's masterwork "Pushing Daisies". "Pushing Daisies" is a stylish, fast paced, intelligent, and ever so quirky tale of an average pie maker with an extraordinary gift. He can bring the dead back to life with just one touch  but there is a minor stipulation to his power he can only bring the dead back to life for one minute or else someone or something else of equal life must die in its place. Bryan Fuller has crafted a quick witted  show  that has elements of  police procedural,  forensic drama,  fairytale  and romantic comedy,  Fuller blends all these elements together in such a swift and ingenious fashion . Even though the high quirkiness is at times off putting to some   the well written fast paced dialogue and lightning fast acting all help  set the mood for one of the most  original and intriguing shows to ever grace the small screen. "Pushing Daisies" is the show people who prefer great fresh programming have been waiting for; if it were allowed to continue would have become one of TV’s best shows. Sadly after two short seasons  this  beautiful show   meet its end far sooner than it should have mainly due to the fact it isn't "C.S.I." or "Law & Order"  this forensic fairytale(as the creator of the show describes it) was scrapped before it had its chance to really prove itself worthy. "Pushing Daisies", If I had known about it while it was on the air, I would have sat down every single Wednesday it was on just to see the misadventures of the eccentric pie maker, his snarky P.I. partner Emerson Cod and the love of his life Charlotte  "Chuck" Charles  as they investigate idiosyncratic crimes wherever they may lead. 

I have always been a fan of Tim Burton and Bryan Fullers masterpiece (I did not really care for "Dead like me") has obviously borrowed from the ideas and visual queues from the famously macabre director. As I was watching this show my mind constantly drifted to the work of Tim Burton  the symmetrical sets like the set in the season two episode "Buzzzzzz!” where the windows and the entire building has the look like your inside a bee hive. It reminded me of the Ghost world in Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice"(1986) and the multi color house and quirky characters in ”Edward Scissorhands"(1990) "Pushing Daisies" is like a mishmash of some of Burton's best and peculiar works. This a show for the idiosyncratic, for the people who love there shows strange and beautiful and who love there characters as quirky as the characters in "Twins Peak" than this is the show for you.

I have never heard of Lee Pace  he has not done many films for me to catch his name however, after I read an article that named the new cast members  who have signed  on to the final installment of the hit fantasy/ romance franchise Pace's name was one that was mentioned. So naturally, I had never heard of him so I looked up his previous credits and one of them had been the short-lived television forensic fairytale "Pushing Daisies" from the creator of "Wonder Falls" and "Dead like Me.” So naturally, I started to watch the show and I, from the very first episode, fell head over heels in love with this fantasy, comedy-drama mystery series that takes the standard formula of the A-typical police drama and puts a completely new spin on the genre and gave us some of the most lovable characters you will ever watch. Lee Pace's performance as the eccentric closed off pie maker Ned (no last name is ever given) is a mixture of nervousness, awkward shyness, intelligence and great baking skills. Pace plays Ned as a man who closed off due to his strange and fantastical gift and the pain it has caused him during his life, now Ned is using his gift to help others get justice in there deaths. Pace is the perfectly cast as the pie maker he is able to keep up with the fast-paced dialogue by Bryan Fuller Pace gives Ned the kind of every man quality that is admirable in a protagonist. But Ned is not like other protagonist  he is a slightly awkward fellow who only feels at home when he is baking pies in his little pie shop "The Pie Hole" with his loyal waitress Olive Snook(played with great comedic wit by Kristen Chenoweth) who is secretly, deeply in love with the affectionate disconnected  pie maker. Pace this is a glorious breakout performance for this highly talented young actor who proves with each episode of this highly inventive show that he has the right stuff to be a real movie star and not a T.V. star. In "Pushing Daisies" Pace shows, that he is going to be around for a very long time if he chooses his projects well. The rest of the cast including Chi McBride, Anna Friel, Kristen Chenoweth, Field Cate, Ellen Greene, and Swoosie Kurtz all deliver stellar supporting performances in this magical, fantastical show that was killed before its time.

"Pushing Daisies" is not the show for everyone mainly due to its fast-paced dialogue, quirky characters, and its heavy black humor this show had a hard time establishing a lasting following. However, it has found the audience after it has been taken off the air that could have saved it when it running. This is a glorious triumphant  of the imagination and true creativity that shines brighter and stronger than any of these standard police procedural that have seemed to last longer than really, truly original shows  like this stroke of genius. "Pushing Daisies" is the show that should have more seasons it should have out ran "Grey's Anatomy"(Which I hate), this is one of the show for people who would never be caught dead watching a police procedural.

]]> Fri, 26 Nov 2010 22:16:33 +0000
<![CDATA[ My New TV Obsession - A Psychological Thrill ride]]>
The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit consists of many characters; Dr. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) who is the young genius, Rossi (Joe Mantegna) who seems to be the "fatherly" one of the group, Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) who is head of the group but is haunted by the murder of his wife caused by his job, Morgan (Shemar Moore) who is a hottie and shows true compassion, Jareau (A.J.Cook) and Prentiss (Paget Brewster) who are the 2 leading females, and Garcia (Kirsten Vangness) the quirky, brilliant, but lovable lady computer analyst.

What is so magnificent about this show is that unlike CSI or other crime shows, catching the serial killer depends on their expertise of profiling a killer, not by using science or forensics.  They truly work as a team as they converse back and forth, relying on each other's individual assets to come up with a profile of serial murderers.  The murder scenes can be rather gruesome and graphic, but the director does a wonderful job of not depending on the actual scenes to engross you - rather you are more taken with the BAU's take on the crimes, their opinions and expertise, and most of all, their compassion for the victims and their families.  You are also consumed with your own passion as to why the killer is what he is, and what has driven them to commit the crimes.  The show is brilliantly written; the crimes seem real and when the profile all comes together, it all truly makes complete sense.  I have yet to see an episode where I felt it "went over my head" - it is written where you can understand the conclusions they come to.  This show is all out serious; no "murder jokes" and best of all, no assuming someone is guilty until they find the right killer.  You also do not feel intimidated by asking yourself "Now how did he come up with that clue?" - you are riding right along with the team and you don't feel clueless.




There is not a whole lot of personal drama going on between the characters; personal advice and conversation between the team is short and to the point; but they have a true affection for each other that clearly shows when it is necessary.  The acting is superb by the whole cast, and they support each other enough that you feel the necessary "team work" is being completed in a professional manner.   

This series is a pure psychological thrill ride that will truly engross you from beginning to end.














]]> Wed, 24 Nov 2010 19:48:54 +0000
<![CDATA[True Blood Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 17:54:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Big Love Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 17:53:29 +0000 <![CDATA[The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Quick Tip by djevoke]]> The Walking Dead. I hope that sometime soon in the storyline we'll learn about what caused this deterioration of normal human beings.Until then, I'll sit back and enjoy a nice little zombie action on my Sunday evenings.]]> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 07:36:25 +0000 <![CDATA[The Walking Dead Pilot Episode Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> Mon, 1 Nov 2010 06:38:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ True Blood is just like Heroes! (And a drinking game...)]]>
Anyway, my prediction - at the risk of a getting flamed - is that next year's season of True Blood will be headed the same way. Think about the parallels:
  • Innocent and naive central female character learns to grapple with supernatural power and the dangers it entails.
  • Plots focus on overlaying supernatural elements on suburban life. (Ha, they tried that in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but that's another story.)
  • Four-act episodes with major dramatic plot points connecting each.
  • Villains turn out to be heroes.
  • Heroes become villainous.
  • Certain characters' plot lines you'd like to TiVo over completely (Hiro, Tara's mother and Sam's family anyone?)
  • Unbridled use of flashbacks when minutes of screen time need to be filled
  • The background of politics used to move the plot along
  • A growing army of characters with head-scratching supernatural/super-powers
  • Some semi-expensive TV-quality CGI
  • A strong first season that gets diluted which each passing episode
  • Drooling comic-con fanboys
Of course, there are some differences. If you thought DC and Oakland had crime problems, check out Bon Temps, where the local morgue is like Ikea on a Sunday without the hot-dogs. And there's enough soft-porn on this show to make the Internet look like good clean family entertainment. 

I don't want to suggest that HBO is anywhere near as close as NBC was in season 3 to putting the show out of its misery. NBC literally excommunicated Heroes, telling it to pack its shit up and get moving, leaving Hayden Pannetiere with nowhere to go but supermarket tabloids and a future filled with DUIs and sex tapes. HBO is currently basking in its success, with executives buzzing around like someone released itching powder at the petting zoo.

But True Blood is heading into Blake Snyder's well-defined "Double Mumbo Jumbo" territory. Just as I rolled my eyes every time Hiro squinted or Matt Parker looked all confused, hoping the sound effects would paper over the cracks in his performance, I recently paused to laugh out loud when Sookie Stackhouse turned out to be fairy. A what? Isn't it enough to be a telepathic waitress with flashy things coming out of her hands? DMJ, my friends. It's bad news.

So far we've had telepaths, vampires, shape-shifters, werewolves, maenads (don't ask), were-panthers (WTF?), fairies - it's really getting like Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a love child with the second Matrix  - and we're just stopping short of killer cyborgs from the future. Also, I'm starting to suspect that the production team has a long-running contract with dog trainers, since invariably canines feature prominently in the line-up.

Admittedly, the Beswick household has been snorting up episodes of True Blood and enjoying the experience. And even season 3, with it's wild plate-spinning act of balancing vampire politics, melodrama and Glee-style characterization, has had us hooked. But there's a curse around the fourth iteration of anything - just look at the embarrassment of the latest installments of Indiana Jones and Shrek to see the dangers - and if someone doesn't get the reigns back on the screenwriters, we could have Sookie facing aliens and ancient civilizations before you know it. Beware!

The True Blood Drinking Game (Almost Too Easy, I Know)

Note: to avoid fatal-levels of alcohol poisoning, we're changing this drinking game to a points-based system, where you have to accumulate 5 points before taking a shot.

1 point whenever:
  • Major characters appear shirtless and you wonder how many gyms there are in Bon Temps
  • Bill says "Sookie" in that way that sounds eerily like Timmy from South Park meets Elvis.
  • Matt Parker, sorry I mean Sookie, gets plot-pivotal information through mental eavesdropping
  • Cop Andy pulls the one facial expression he was hired for.
  • You think the war vet/cook guy would have been great on Tropic Thunder.
  • Someone gets glamored (and if you realize if you could glamor people, you might not be a force for good).
  • You think Eric is better-looking than Bill (my wife would get drunk on this one alone).
2 points whenever:
  • Jason Stackhouse either kills someone or thinks he's killed someone - more like Jason Slaughterhouse.
  • 20 minutes passes without a random sex scene.
  • Sookie and Bill get it on and you wonder if they're, er, like, doing it for real now they're married in real life. Ewww.
  • Merlotte's faces a business-ending or lawsuit-invoking event 
Special events/exceptions:
  • 5 POINTS: the FBI or some sort of federal enforcement actually shows up.
  • Tara's Mom or Bill's family are thrown a plot line: keep drinking until it's over.
]]> Wed, 8 Sep 2010 19:17:29 +0000

I despise female cops who are the Angelina Jolie-type - tough, bad-ass, kick-ass, no emotions, not real..period.  Brenda's character is so real and down to earth, you'd swear you knew her in person.  Yes, she's tough, after all she's the Deputy Chief of Major Crimes and she is "The Closer" - an intelligent woman who with the help of her crew will solve the crime.  She's bright, she takes charge, she takes chances, she is respected by her Detectives and she's also very real.  She has weaknesses like everyone else, she has a wonderfully light southern accent, she shows emotion, she has a heart (that she tries really hard to hide), she's stubborn, her career is her first priority but she still shows her love (in quirky ways) to her FBI husband Fritzy when she has the time (who is just too hot) and she still has personal problems that she tries to hide at her job in the funny way that only Brenda can deliver.  Who else but her would fall into a dumpster looking for a human head found by the trash man; "Well for Heaven's Sakes, there is a head!" and "Oh my Lord, I found his feet too!" all without cracking a smile.  Of course, she gets sick when she gets out of the dumpster, but she blames it on a dirty diaper she touched. When she had to put her beloved cat down due to an illness, you clearly see the soft side of her, until she got the cat's ashes back in a plastic zip-lock baggie and she had to carry it in her purse around the office all day because she refused to get an urn; then you had to laugh.  And yes, the urn she initially refused to get is still sitting on her fireplace mantel.

J.K. Simmons plays Chief of Police Pope, who with his pleasant eyes and face, constantly fusses back and forth with Brenda because she doesn't like following the rules.  Jon Tenney plays FBI hubbie Fritz Howard, handsome, smart, and never a fool with his wife; he knows how to handle her just fine.  All the characters are fantastic, each with their own personality, but my other 2 favorites are G.W. Bailey (originally from M*A*S*H as the mechanic) who plays Det. Provenza and Tony Denison who plays Det. Flynn.  These 2 detectives are a hoot together.  Provenza sometimes makes me laugh so hard I can't stop.  When Beau Bridges guest starred as an old cop-friend of Provenza's, he didn't know his old friend had a sex-change operation and was now a woman.  This was one episode that was hysterical with the bantering back and forth between the two, especially when Provenza realized that Bridges still has sex with women; "You mean you got a sex change so you could be a lesbian?" - funny stuff, especially when the conversation is focused on that instead of the crime they're supposed to be solving while Brenda is exhausted from the arguing.

What happens when a hoot like Provenza thinks he's gonna get some from a lovely lady (which ends up being a crime scene before that happens) and he takes a Viagra and by the time Brenda gets there for the crime scene he has to cover himself with a pillow while Flynn reminds him that soon he'll need to go to the ER according to the Viagra ad? Watch it and see.  But despite the humor, they still get the job done - I love it!!

Another thing I love about the show is that each character, besides Brenda, plays the lead role in some situation; it's not all about one character.  Sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, you never know what you're gonna see from week to week.

The plots are always interesting and intelligent; you think you have it solved until a new twist comes along.  Brenda is the best at closing a case, and if she has to act silly to solve it, she does it in a surprisingly cunning way.  Being an attractive woman, Kyra plays her part without the viewer being distracted by her looks.  Her personality is played to perfection by Sedgwick, not to mention she just won an Emmy for Lead Female Role In A Crime Drama.  Despite the occasional humor, it is still a truly serious crime show with more than just an edge of drama that will keep you coming back for more.

This show, in my opinion, is by far the best crime drama series on TV.  A former huge Law & Order SVU fan, I have become too weary of the tough smart-mouthed serious characters like Stabler and Olivia; give me the sassy Southern, intelligent, chocolate-loving and quirky Brenda Lee anytime.

]]> Wed, 1 Sep 2010 07:43:43 +0000
<![CDATA[Covert Affairs Quick Tip by Butterfly1961]]> Wed, 1 Sep 2010 05:09:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Supernatural Season 5 Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> Wed, 25 Aug 2010 14:02:44 +0000 <![CDATA[Psych Quick Tip by kaelix]]> Wed, 25 Aug 2010 13:34:10 +0000 <![CDATA[Psych Quick Tip by theKENnection]]> Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:11:49 +0000 <![CDATA[Dexter Season 3 Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> Fri, 13 Aug 2010 04:28:40 +0000 <![CDATA[Dexter Season 2 Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> Fri, 13 Aug 2010 04:27:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Dexter Season 1 Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> Fri, 13 Aug 2010 04:25:03 +0000 <![CDATA[ Amazing show]]> This show is definitly the funniest show of all time. Seth MacFarlane is a genious. Not only does it have the best comedy of any show I've ever seen, but it also has the most clever jokes. It takes stuff that happens in every day life and turns it into something histarical. I could watch the show over and over again. There are 6 seasons for you to enjoy so far, but there are more to come.  Personally I think it is the best show ever, but there are some reviews that aren not as nice. They claim it is offensive to people and it should be banned. This may be true, but the only reason they take offense to it is because they don't have a sense of humor. People just need to relax and have a few laughs. I would recommend this show to the youth of the nation because those are the audiances that it targets. Children shouldn't watch it though because it has alot of sexual humor. The teenage to about twenty-five year old range is just about right. So grab some popcorn, sit down, and turn the channel to cartoon network or upn45 and get ready to laugh. =]

]]> Tue, 22 Jun 2010 20:21:58 +0000
<![CDATA[True Blood Quick Tip by theKENnection]]> Mon, 31 May 2010 09:50:04 +0000 <![CDATA[True Blood Quick Tip by Esmeraude]]> Mon, 24 May 2010 23:28:37 +0000 <![CDATA[The Real Housewives of Orange County Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sat, 8 May 2010 18:16:21 +0000 <![CDATA[American Idol Quick Tip by bvincejr]]> Tue, 13 Apr 2010 16:02:02 +0000 <![CDATA[Family Guy Quick Tip by ryleekay]]> Mon, 5 Apr 2010 02:03:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ The First Season of this Series Was Off to a Bloody Good Start!]]> Probably inspired by Anne Rice's novels, this new version of vampire lore is far more interesting than Blade, Underworld, Twilight, Buffy, etc.  It takes place in a small town in Louisianna and has a real Cajun feel to it.  The premise is that vampires have admitted their existance so a blood substitute (True Blood) has been developed and sold wherever beverages are sold.

The first season centered on a vampire named Bill moving into a Louisianna town and he fascinates Suki who works a Merlot's, a local restaurant.  Probably the main reason for Suki's attraction is that she is a mind reader and when she lets her guard down she usually hears embarassing thoughts from her male suitors.  As Bill is undead, she is not able to read his thoughts and in her mind, she is able to have a "normal" relationship with him. 

The main themes are that the vampires are seeking civil rights and acceptance while a murderer is loose in the town, preying on women that are on friendly terms with vampires.  Suki's brother Jason always seems to be the prime suspect.

As the season went on we were introduced to a whole society of vampires who mostly congregate at a bar in a nearby town.  It is always dangerous for humans to enter the bar as the story is they don't get out alive.  Of course Suki makes Bill take her there.  The head of the bar seems to be the local "Don" of the vampires and we later find out that he reports to a higher council, which dispenses swift justice with fury.

I am really enjoying the show so far and look forward to the new episodes being launched in June!  This is probably the best drama on cable right now!]]> Wed, 17 Mar 2010 22:21:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ Visit Twin Peaks for an Odd, Quirky and Fun Time]]> Twin Peaks.  I never did see the show then, but I knew the burning question from the show was "Who killed Laura Palmer?".   I knew I was going to check out this TV series eventually.  A show that is supposed to be different, weird, funny and downright goofy is right up my alley.

A couple of years ago I Netflixed the entire series of Twin Peaks. It took me a month or so to see it all, but it was well worth it.  I'm glad I waited all of those years to see it.  I wouldn't have appreciated the show as much or understood much of the show back when I was 20 years old.  Also, it is a great TV show to see all in a short period of time and not over a couple of seasons.  You don't want to forget a thing while watching.

By the way, you need to watch the show in this order to really appreciate it.

  1. Two hour pilot episode
  2. Season 1 - contains 7 episodes
  3. Season 2 - contains 22 episodes
  4. Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me movie

Twin Peaks was a show from the twisted mind of David Lynch about the murder of a high school girl (Laura Palmer) that turns the small town of Twin Peaks on its head. The FBI get involved because they may have a serial killer on their hands. Enter Kyle MacLachlan as FBI agent Dale Cooper.  I think he is one of the most entertaining TV characters I've ever seen. Speaking of characters, you'll see a plethora of interesting characters in this TV series (even David Lynch himself as Dale Cooper's boss).

I know this show may not be for everyone, but at least give the two hour pilot a try. If you like it you'll love the entire show. It is a show that is greater than the sum of its parts.  Twin Peaks had turned out to be one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

To give you a peek at the quirkiness of Twin Peaks take a gander at this video.  
How did they keep a straight face?  Always be on the lookout for llamas.

To give you taste of this show, below is a scene early in Special Agent Dale Cooper's unorthodox investigation of the murder of Laura Palmer.

]]> Tue, 16 Mar 2010 15:06:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Cesar Milan's approach to dog training]]> (or had a reason to want to).

I don't get the opportunity to watch his show on a regular basis, but I truly believe that if we all took his approach to training dogs, we'd be much more tolerant and understanding of other people,too, and we'd learn a ton about how to live more peacefully in this world without the power-over games that humanity plays so frequently.

I've used many of his training concepts on my two dogs and, for the most part, have found them very effective.  To a large degree this is more due to me learning to manage my own emotions and actions than it has to do with the dogs.

Dogs truly are amazing mirrors.  They just mirror what they experience in their human companions.  If I'm nervous or upset, one of my dogs completely ignores me, and the other becomes frightened of everything and can get aggressive.  But when I get conscious of what I'm doing and actively put myself in a more peaceful state, they both settle down and are model canine citizens.

Dogs are the best tool for self mastery around!  And Cesar's approach has made me a better and more consistent person.]]> Tue, 9 Mar 2010 23:45:52 +0000
<![CDATA[ The action and tension are stronger than the logical flaws]]> It all begins with a boy in Texas falling into a natural hole in the ground. He is initially uninjured, finding a skull and then being exposed to a deadly and ancient virus extraterrestrial in origin. When the firefighters respond and try to rescue him, they too are infected and the mysterious federal agents are brought in. The bodies are transported to a federal building and Scully and Mulder enter when there is a bomb threat at that location. Mulder discovers the bomb but is puzzled when he is ordered to leave the building by the bomb disposal expert. The viewer is baffled when the "expert" simply sits there until the bomb explodes.
The virus infects humans and causes a violent alien to grow inside their body, much like the movies in the "Alien(s)" series. It is part of a plan by aliens to colonize the Earth and the mysterious Syndicate with the cigarette-smoking man is involved. This group will kill anyone, including a member of their group, in order to keep their secret safe. This points out the greatest logical flaw of the series and this movie. If the members of the mysterious Syndicate were willing to blow up public buildings in a major city and kill one of their own, why would they ever hesitate to kill Mulder?
Other flaws include the power of the vaccine to destroy the entire facility in Antarctica, the mysterious space ship that rises from the ice and how Scully and Mulder manage to survive when marooned in Antarctica with little in the way of winter clothing and no food, water or means of shelter. Had there been more resolution of these flaws, the movie would have been stronger.
Nevertheless, the tension and action are strong enough to overcome most of the power of the flaws, making this a movie that you can enjoy as long as you don't think too hard about the weaknesses.]]> Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hollywood Week Begins on American Idol 9]]> Full recap: ]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2010 12:31:33 +0000 <![CDATA[ Survivor Heroes vs. Villains: Predictions and Thoughts]]>
The labels of "Hero" and "Villain" are one of the key ingredients to making Survivor or most other shows work. It's the idea that fans can root for someone and against someone else that makes shows like Survivor so appealing. Of course, people are more complex than just being called a "Hero" or a "Villain", but this approach makes the game more fun and enjoyable from a fan's perspective. It's a game and it's fun to see your favorites win and your not-so-favorites lose. Can't go wrong with that. :-)

Now let's take a look at our twenty returning contestants this season. I'll briefly mention their previous performance(s) in the game, whether or not they should be labeled as a "Hero" or a "Villain" due to how fans perceived them before, and what their chances are of winning this time around. Let's start off with the members of the "Villains" tribe:

Coach (Survivor: Tocantins)-Coach did quite well in the Tocantins making it all the way to the final five. He definitely would be considered a "Villain" due to his crazy off the wall comments and lack of gameplay. I don't think Coach will do very well this time around. He probably won't be one of the first ones kicked off, but by the midpoint, people will tire of him. His only hope would be to come off as so predictable and non-threatening that no one will want to get rid of him quickly (which is what happened in Tocantins). But I think he'll snap at some point, make the wrong person mad, and there goes the Coach. Buh-bye.

Courtney (Survivor: China)-She had a very impressive showing during her original season. She came in second place and even beat out Amanda who seemed like a lock to win China. She is someone who would get the "Villain" label also since many fans didn't like her being a coattail rider and a complainer all the time. Some of her ruder comments didn't go over very well with the fans either (Personally, I kind of like her. She's pretty funny. She should be a comedian, lol.). However, I don't think she'll do well at all this time around. She'll definitely be one of the first boots unless she gets into a powerful alliance like she did the last time. That's the ONLY thing that can save her. If she fails to do this, she's going home either first or second.

Danielle (Survivor: Exile Island)-Danielle came close to winning her season, but fell short. Unfortunately, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Danielle's "Villain" label. While I did watch her season, I only watched it AFTER it initially aired. So I'm not terribly familiar with how fans perceived her. I didn't see anything particularly villainous about her, but I might have missed something. Anyway, I think Danielle's chances are good, but not great. If she can make it to the merge, she might be somewhat ok. But she'll probably get the boot before that happens. We'll see.

Jerri (Survivor: Australia and Survivor: All-Stars)-This is Jerri's third attempt at playing the game. The first time, she went home because she was not a member of the dominant core Ogakor alliance. The second time, she was in the major alliance on her tribe, but got backstabbed by Lex and his stupidity. This time should be very interesting. Jerri is obviously a card carrying member of team "Villain" since she was one of the first survivors ever to be extremely hated, so we can see why she's in this tribe. Performance wise, I don't think she'll do well. Her mouth will get her in trouble and she'll probably go home early because of it. This could be her worst survivor showing yet. We'll see.

Parvati (Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites)-Parvati is back for a third round of action. Her first attempt was unsuccessful due to her tribe underestimating the Aitus and allowing them to dominate, which ruined her chances. Her second attempt gave her a very surprising win on Fans vs. Favorites due to how well she played the social and strategic game that season. She's one talented player, no doubt about it. Considering how hated she is due to several comments that she made and her weasel like ways, we can see why she gets the honor of "Villain" status. I think Parvati will crash and burn this time around though. As good of a player as she is, she'll most likely be viewed as a weak physical competitor pre-merge. Also, due to her status as a previous winner and also due to her not being very likable, I could see her as an early boot. During her last two attempts, she had the advantage of being perceived weak strategically. But now that she's a former winner, she won't have that advantage this time around. She'll be seen as a major threat down the road and they'll want to get rid of her as soon as possible. I don't think lightning will strike twice for Parvati.

Randy (Survivor: Gabon)-One of the most hated and despised contestants in recent memory returns. It's quite easy to see why this guy is a "Villain". He was accused of being racist and cruel to some of his other tribe members during his season. Then he joins the "Onion" alliance which was known to have a huge chip on its shoulder and the hate for him rises even further. Let's also consider the fact that he was rude and disrespectful to everyone he didn't like and you have a perfect recipe for "Villian"-ness. After the Onions were dominated by the surviving fang members, his time was cut short. I think his performance this time is up in the air. He could potentially do really well if he can find a solid alliance to enter. But if people have a grudge against him for things that he did in Gabon, he might be a very early boot.

Rob M. (Survivor: Marquesas and Survivor: All-Stars)-Rob is back for his third go round. What's interesting about Rob is that his first two times playing the game had such drastically opposite results. The first time, he got destroyed because the Rotu tribe won everything and by the time the merge happened, he was a dead duck. The dominant tribe kicked him out quick. His second go through was unbelievably successful. He came in second on Survivor: All-Stars and strategically controlled a huge portion of the game throughout. Rob will be a major force this season, I'm sure of it. On both of his seasons, Rob has shown an incredible ability to manipulate people into doing things that he wants them to do and I don't think this will be any different. He could very well win this season. However, I predict that he will come in either second or third. My only slight issue is his "Villain" label. Fans hated him on Marquesas, but he was quite popular on All-Stars though. But in a way, the "Villain" label is fitting due to how sneaky his subtle manipulation is. Either way, this is someone to keep an eye on this time around.

Russell (Survivor: Samoa)-Our most recent villain acquisition makes a return to the game of Survivor. Russell was just on the show last season, so he is making back-to-back appearances here. Last time, Russell played the game extremely well by finding hidden idols with no clues and having good social relationships with his tribe members. He was also a good strategic thinker as well. But ultimately, it wasn't enough. He got very far, but when it was all said and done, he came in second and lost to his coattail rider, Natalie. This time around, Russell will probably do very well and that's because he has an advantage that no other Survivor contestant will have this season. Unlike everyone else, no one will have seen Russell's previous survivor season on tv because it hadn't aired yet at the time this season was filmed. That means that none of the other contestants will have a clue as to how cunning and intelligent he can be and everyone will underestimate him. I'm not sure whether or not Russell has seen many of the previous seasons before his own, but if he has, the deck is definitely stacked in his favor. He would know how everyone else is going to play and they wouldn't know how he would play. That is a great advantage to have. Russell could go very far this time around, but I don't think he'll win. We'll see, though. As far as his "Villain" status goes, it's a mixed bag. Many people couldn't stand him, others loved him. But due to his sneaky ways and extremely blunt confessionals, I can see why he would be picked to be a "Villain".

Sandra (Survivor: Pearl Islands)-Looks like this previous Survivor winner is back to see if she can win the million yet again. One of the reasons for Sandra's success last time around was because she was a member of a dominant alliance for most of the time and she played her "anybody but me" strategy very well. When her alliance collapsed, she did a lot of talking and convinced others to turn their targets on other people when normally, the target would have been on her. She played a good game, but I don't think it's going to help her this time around. The game has changed quite a bit since she last played and I don't know if she can adapt to all of the hardcore strategizing that will be in much more abundance here than it was during her original season. She could possibly make it to the halfway point because she's good at deflecting attention off of herself, but I don't see her getting beyond that. Overall, I think she'll do reasonably ok this time, but I don't think she'll win. Another thing I wanted to bring up is why did the producers put her in the "Villains" tribe? Sandra was incredibly popular during her season and many people were extremely pleased when she won her season. So why did she get the "Villain" label? My only guess is the producers had to find a way to separate her from her alliance buddy Rupert in the Heroes Tribe and this was the only way to do it. But that doesn't explain it away because Coach and Tyson are buddies and yet, they get to start out on the same tribe. Amanda and James are also buddies and they get to be on the same team. So why couldn't Rupert and Sandra be in the same tribe as well? I don't know, it's all confusing. They should have put Sandra on the "Heroes" tribe and brought Candice over to the "Villains" tribe. I don't know why they didn't do that. Personally, I didn't like Sandra all that much. But everyone else did and because of that, her "Villain" label is one of the big question marks of this season.

Tyson (Survivor: Tocantins)-Another controversial Survivor contestant returns for another shot at the grand prize. Tyson receives the "Villain" label for criticizing and making fun of his other tribesmates excessively and the one who got it the most was Sierra. Tyson treated Sierra quite poorly and he further antagonized his tribe members by walking around naked sometimes and making funny noises. Many fans didn't take to his behavior all that well. He worked with Coach closely throughout his run and they both seemed to have a fair bit of control over the Timbira tribe. But when the merge happened, Tyson became a huge immunity threat due to how well she did at challenges and was quickly blindsided and voted out of the game. This time around, I think Tyson falls flat on his face. I don't see him winning and I don't see him going far either. He'll be valuable pre-merge for a while, but at some point, someone's going to want him gone due to either his ability to win challenges or due to the fact that he's annoying. One of these is going to catch up with him eventually. Add on the fact that Tyson doesn't have the notoriety that other Survivor contestants here have and he's not going to make it a long ways. He'll be an afterthought in people's heads and won't last because of it.

Okay, well, I'm done analyzing the members of the "Villains" tribe. Next, we will now analyze the members of the "Heroes" tribe. Just like with the "Villains", I will go through each survivor contestant one by one. I will give a brief description of their performance(s) the last time they were on the show, whether or not the "Hero" label is appropriate due to how fans perceived them, and how I think they will fare in this season of Survivor. Let's take a look at our Heroes:

Amanda (Survivor: China and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites)-In terms of overall performance, you could easily make the argument that Amanda is the most successful Survivor of all time. In both of her previous attempts, she made it to the final tribal council and came extremely close to winning the game. That is no small achievement. It's hard enough to get close to winning once, but it's damn near impossible to do it twice. Amanda did quite a good job on both occasions, but each time, she fell just short of winning the grand prize. How will she fare on her third try? I say she'll get far. It'll be a miracle though if she can make the finals three times in a row. I don't think Amanda's going to win, but she'll definitely be in the game for a while. Just like her other two attempts, she'll align with the right people and go a long ways because of it. She's fairly athletic as well, so she won't be an early boot. It's easy to see why she is labeled as a "Hero" also. She may not be the greatest strategist, but she's good in competitions and is very attractive with her infamous "puppy dog" eyes that she uses to garner sympathy. Fans seem to gravitate toward these characteristics and that's what makes her a "Hero".

Candice (Survivor: Cook Islands)-Another memorable contestant returns for a second shot at winning it all. The one question we have to ask ourselves right away is how in the hell did Candice become a member of the "Heroes" tribe? Many fans couldn't stand her in her original season. She was by far one of the most hated people on the message boards. So why is she a "Hero" and not a "Villain"? I think if the producers had switched Candice and Sandra, we would have a more accurate representation of how fans feel about both individuals. Candice should be on the "Villains" tribe while Sandra should be on the "Heroes" tribe. Makes much more sense. Anyway, Candice wasn't the greatest player on her first attempt. All she wanted to do was hug and kiss on Adam and whenever things didn't go her way, she became whiny and annoying. She got cocky when she thought her tribe was in control, but when the Aitus began dominating, she became a very easy boot. Plus, all those times she got sent to exile island in her season shows how irritated people became with her. This time, Candice will do very poorly, I'm sure of it. If she's not the first person voted off, she'll be second or third. She has no notoriety, people will hate the complaining, she'll be considered as a weak competitior, and given a one way ticket home. Bye.

Cirie (Survivor: Exile Island and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites)-One of the most popular and beloved Survivors of all time returns for her third attempt at a win. If Amanda is considered the most successful Survivor of all time in terms of how she placed in both of her seasons, then you'd have to say that Cirie is probably the second best person to ever play the game given that same criteria. She came in fourth place on Survivor: Exile Island and came in third place on Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites. A great accomplishment. Cirie is without a doubt one of the best strategists that this game has ever seen. She was responsible for many of the game's most memorable moments. She initiated the 3-2-1 vote that sent Courtney home on Exile Island. She single handedly orchestrated the coup d'etat that sent the game's most powerful player, Ozzy, home on Fans vs. Favorites. She even came up with the ingenious idea of convincing Erik to give up his immunity necklace and in doing so, sealed his own fate on Fans vs. Favorites. Cirie is a hardcore game player, no doubt about it. She will do pretty well this time, I'd say. But she is a tremendous force and if anyone feels threatened by that, she's going home quickly. It's easy to see why she would get the title of "Hero". So many fans identified with her. What she lacked in ahtletic ability, she more than made up for in brain power and her approach to strategy. Fans appreciated that. Cirie is also identified as a fan herself since she has stated many times how big of a fan she was of the show before getting on. The Survivor fanbase sees her as one of their own and that increases her popularity tenfold. There's no question that Cirie is viewed as a "Hero" in this game.

Colby (Survivor: Australia and Survivor: All-Stars)-The big texan takes a third stab at winning the game. His first attempt landed him a second place finish, but he was forever criticized by fans for his decision to take Tina to the finals instead of Keith. It's a move that many feel cost him the game in Australia. Colby's second attempt was not as successful due to Lex rounding up the girls and stabbing him in the back early on in the game. I feel that his third attempt will be somewhat successful, but I don't see him as the winner here. He'll almost certainly make the merge and he might have some influence after that, but someone's going to find a way to take him out. He's too big of a target. However, it is important to note that he is quite likable and his charm might get him pretty far, even into the final four. Colby is seen as a "Hero" by fans for many reasons. One, he's good looking. Two, he has stated several times his desire to play the game morally and he detests methods that he feels a player shouldn't use to win the game (such as lying or flying under the radar. His criticism of Shii-Ann on All-Stars for being under the radar and not having to make difficult decisions reflects his view of the game). Both of these factors contribute to why fans identify with Colby and see him as a "Hero".

James (Survivor: China and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites)-The comedic, straight-shooting gravedigger returns for a third chance at the win. It's important to note that on both of James's previous attempts, he came in seventh place. The first time, he was blindsided and voted out even though he had TWO hidden immunity idols with him at the time and chose to use neither. The second time, he left the game due to an infection on his finger. This time, I believe James will do well. However, after the merge, James will be a goner. I feel that James is one of those players who will never grasp the strategic element of this game. He feels that Survivor is only about who's the most athletic and who does the most around camp. While those aspects of the game are important, that doesn't mean that strategy should go out the window. Someone will want him out, he won't see it coming, and bam, there goes James. His sense of humor, his athletic ability, and his overall happy-go-lucky nature is what gets him the "Hero" label from many Survivor fans. It'll also be what keeps him around for a while until the ones in control decide he's too much of a threat and needs to go home. James might go far this season, but he won't go all the way.

J.T. (Survivor: Tocantins)-The winner of the Tocantins season returns to see if he can do it again. Last time, J.T. won the game due to his good use of strategy by maintaining a core alliance and making friends along the way to keep him in the game. He's also extremely likable too which allowed most people in the Tocantins season to trust him even without sufficient reason to do so. This time, his success will be a crapshoot. He'll be in the game for a while, no doubt. But after the merge, he has to make strong friendships or else, he could be tossed quickly. If he is able to keep up the same social and strategic game that he had in Tocantins, he could very well win again. He's hard to beat in front of a jury because he comes off as such an easy-going, well-mannered guy who wouldn't hurt a flea. He's a "Hero" to many Survivor fans because he performs well at challenges and is kind to the people around him. If he doesn't win, he'll at least have a good chance at making the final four. He'll most likely do pretty well this time.

Rupert (Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: All-Stars)-Another extremely popular contestant tries his hand at the game yet again. In his past two seasons, Rupert has had the benefit of being in a strong alliance and being the provider of food for his tribe. These two things kept him in the game for a while on both of his seasons. However, strategy has always been Rupert's Achilles Heel. The first time, he got the boot because he couldn't conceive of the notion that someone would vote a strong player like him out. He also underestimated Jon from that season as well and that led to his ouster. The second time, Rupert got into the dominant alliance and made it pretty far in the game. But once he got to the final four, he woke up and realized that Rob and Amber had to be taken out. But it was too late. Jenna voted along with the Survivor couple to oust Rupert and that was that. This time, Rupert could go far, but I don't think he'll last. He's got the image of being one of the game's most popular players and he's a beast at challenges. Add on to this his lack of strategic ability and I don't see Rupert going far. Fans label Rupert as a "Hero" because of his pirate like persona and his soft cuddly teddy bear image. But all this won't help him win the game in my view.

Stephenie (Survivor: Palau and Survivor: Guatemala)-One of the most popular and at the same time, most hated players in Survivor history returns to see if the third time's a charm. Her two previous Survivor experiences are polar opposite from each other. On her first go through, her tribe got completely annihilated by the Koror tribe until she was the last member of Ulong standing. After she merged with the rest of the Koror members, it was only a matter of time before Stephenie was shown the door and voted out. Her second go through proved to be much different from her first. In Guatemala, Stephenie dominated the game physically and strategically. She was completely in control in every way possible. She made it all the way to second place, but didn't win because her tribemates had a huge grudge against her for the way she lied to all of them. I believe that her third attempt will be very successful. I'm going to go ahead and predict that Stephenie is going to win this season. She has all the right ingredients needed to win without looking like a major threat in the progress. She's athletic, she's likable, she doesn't get into shouting matches with anyone, and she is very strategic. She won't be the first one voted off due to her strength in challenges. She'll make the merge and lie low waiting for everyone else to be taken out. Once that happens, she'll form an alliance with someone (most likely Tom), ride that alliance all the way to the end, win individual immunities along the way, give a great speech to the jury, and win one million dollars. She's the full package of what you need to win this game, so I think she could very well pull off a victory here. Her "Hero" label is largely a result of her underdog role in the Palau season. Everyone identifies with the lone soldier standing up against an army and that's what Stephenie was to many fans that season. She was David to Koror's Goliath. Her nice, yet never give up attitude endeared fans to her as well. Guatemala, however, is a different story. Stephenie was villainized to the extreme by Survivor fans who felt that she played too hard and too aggressively during that season. The love that she received from fans during the Palau season almost completely evaporated by the time Guatemala came around. However, her Palau performance is what people remember the most about her, so that's why fans will most likely support her this season. I think she is our winner, but only time will tell.

Sugar (Survivor: Gabon)-Little miss Sugar returns for a second shot at the win. Her previous season saw her get farther than anyone thought she would, all the way to third place. A major contributing factor to her success was the perception that she posed no threat at all. She was one of the weakest physical players out there, but because of a tribe switch and because her new alliance members found her to be non-threatening, she lasted very long in the game. However, Sugar's major mistake in Gabon was betraying the Fang members and aligning with Bob and Matty for moral reasons. This move ruined any slim chance she may have had of winning and it made the jury members very upset with her. After this, she flip-flopped on her game approach so many times that no one could really trust her anymore. This time around, Sugar will have almost no chance of winning. People will know that she's wishy-washy from her earlier season and they won't trust her because of it. She's also pretty useless in physical competitions as well. These two things will ensure that Sugar gets an early exit from the game. I predict that Sugar will either be the first or second person voted out this time around. I don't see her going far at all. Her "Hero" status was given to her by fans for how nice she is and how smart she "appeared" to be at the beginning of the game (but that quickly changed). However, it won't help her this time. Sugar's getting the boot early. I'm almost certain of it.

Tom (Survivor: Palau)-The athletically gifted fireman who won the Palau season makes a second run for the million dollars. His first season proved to be enormously successful for him. Not only did he win on his original season, but he almost single handedly controlled the Palau season from the very beginning. His tribe (Koror) completely wiped out the opposing tribe (Ulong). His leadership skills and his athletic prowess were two major factors in Koror's dominance over Ulong. After Ulong was wiped out, he still managed to stay in control by keeping his alliance of four (or five, if you count Gregg) in the majority and wiping everyone else out. His all around good guy image and his jury speech finally sealed him a victory on the Palau season. This time, Tom will do pretty well. He could potentially make it extremely far, but his biggest problem is that he'll be perceived as a monstrous threat. I could see Tom making final five or final four, but I think he might be voted out after that because he's too big of a risk to put in front of a jury. He's labeled as a "Hero" because of his profession (fireman), his good looks, his athletic ability, and his overall friendly attitude about things. If Tom doesn't win, he'll at least get very close to it. We'll see how he does.

And that ends my analysis of the Heroes. We've now looked at all twenty survivors that will be on the upcoming season. My overall pick for least likely to win is Sugar and my pick for most likely to win is Stephenie. But anything can happen in Survivor as we all know. I'm looking forward to the 20th season and I think it will be very good. I'll be back later to review the series as it goes along. See you then.]]> Mon, 8 Feb 2010 04:18:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ Like Looking into a Fish Tank. Only All the Fish Are Really, Really Drunk.]]>
When I first watched the True Life Jersey Shores series that spawned this series, I couldn't believe that people like that existed, which is one of the reasons why I was so captivated with it, because it let us get into the minds of people who behaved in such ways.  The people on the show seemed so unreal, but the fascinating and scary part about it was... they were real.  Furthermore, they were real entertaining, too, and MTV realized that they could capitalize on it, thus Jersey Shore was created a few years later, and oh boy...  As a friend put it, watching Jersey Shore is like looking at a fish tank.  With seven really drunk fish in it.  I think this show makes people all over feel a bit better about themselves.

Some of my favorite moments in the house included Vinnie's entire Italian family visiting, and his mama cooking, cleaning, and bringing him fresh socks and undies and overall doting on him in front of the other roommates.  So cute!  I loved Snookie and her adorable antics, oh, and her mommy's visit.  Very cute as well!  Of course, there was drama, like the Ronnie and Sami saga.  Can you say rockiest relationship ever?  And who could forget the incident where J-WOWW high-fived The Situation in the face?

Besides the drama on the show, there was also drama surrounding the show.  There were some Italian American groups and the Jersey Shore tourism board that were peeved by this.  I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal.  People shouldn't base their opinions about Italian Americans and the Jersey Shores based on a TV show about the lives of six young party animals during summer break.  When I think of anything Italian, the first thing that comes to mind is food (I have a one track mind!) and when I think off the Jersey Shores, I think of the boardwalk.

I think young people from all over can take a lesson from this show -- don't be like the people on Jersey Shore.  The reason this show was so entertaining was because it was so ridiculous.  Guys, don't wear Ed Hardy, it makes you look really ridiculous.  Few guys look good wearing clothing with that many rhinestones on it.  Oh, and don't be such a prick.  Ladies, please respect yourselves and don't date guys like the ones on the show.  They exist all over, and aren't necessarily Italian or on the Jersey Shores.  Just take a stroll down San Francisco's North Beach, for instance.

Besides those lessons learnt, the show has also expanded my vocabulary with some very interesting words and terms, And no, I will not be providing definitions because Lunch is too classy for that.

  • The new meaning of the term Guido
  • Guidette
  • Grenade
  • Grenade Launcher
  • GTL -- Gym Tan Laundry
  • Gorilla
  • Juicehead
  • Fist Pumping as a dance move
  • Creeping
  • Vibing
  • Commiting a Robbery
  • Hairstyles like The Poof
  • And The Blowout

I think my favorite part out of this whole Jersey Shore saga was, surprisingly, not on the show, but when the cast met up with Michael Cera and gave him a makeover, blowout, Ed Hardy gear, spray tan, nick name and all.  Meet the Ceranation:

I'm anxiously awaiting for a reunion, and I really hope that the Ceranation pays them a visit.]]> Wed, 3 Feb 2010 07:08:46 +0000
<![CDATA[Jersey Shore Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2010 17:59:31 +0000 <![CDATA[ An amazing big screen adaption of the popular and absorbing T.V. series....]]>
The X-Files: Fight the Future is not an oscar worthy film but it is a great one on it's own as a stand alone it would have done fantastically but it's tie to the series' plot keeps it chained down from busting loose and showing it's true stuff. But it does good with what it's already established it brings to the Sci-Fi genre , like The Matrix did, seeing as it is The Matrix predecessor in Sci-Fi greatness. This film, in my opinion, set the benchmark for conventional Sci-Fi and turned it into what we see now.

This movie I was hesitant to see at first but after watching the first three seasons I thought i should at least give it a try and boy was I blow away. It's a mystifying and malicious experience in the art of conspiracy and deceit and it moves along at a very steady and easy pace that you can easily keep up with and a story you can understand and follow as it plays out. This is the kind of film that keeps you guessing and guessing till the end it never let's up with the intrigue and the tension, it brings so much to the table and you have no choice but to eat it all up one small morsel at a time that so good you can't resist, this film also gives you a gritter side to The X-files adventure that you didn't see in the series it puts the agent's in more peril and danger then they have ever been in before and that is also another factor that contributed to this films success.

But when it comes down to it there is probably nothing bad you can say in this films honor, it's just to good to put down. The X-Files: Fight the Future is great fun and it's a wild ride that you have toe experience to believe, it's sinister and diabolical, it calculating and efficient in it's execution of it's craft and style. it brings more than it should and it does well with it and gives you a good show for your money and if your forgiving this film won't displease you. All in all The X-Files: Fight the Future is a great Sci-Fi thriller that is see and see again fun that you can't ignore. The X-Files:Fight the Future is red hot.]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2009 23:29:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ The future is a timeframe and time is an abstract concept and thus cannot be fought]]> The X Files only "jumped the shark" after this movie for one reason, season 6 had lame episodes mostly catering towards selling out the platonic relationship the leads had and only further continued to mar the conspiracy and alien episodes with bad story telling.  Having said that...

X Files Fight The Future does get a few things right on the nose.  It's a thrilling and interesting movie that doesn't talk down to it's audience short of a few insances of really slim odds and beliveability and doesn't require you to be plugged into the existing televison mythos to have a good time.  If you need to know something, the movie explains it and with some good story telling skills doesn't over load you with details and semantics, only the important stuff.

Our television heroes, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are under scrutiny by the FBI for letting a supposed terrorist attack hit Dallas and the FBI is threatening them with being split up.  Scully is prepared to expect the inevitable while Mulder at the behest of a strange Doctor who has ties to Mulder's past to continue investigating the matter which has ties to an Alien virus and The Syndicate, a group of powerful government types who are keeping tabs on alien activity and doing any means neccessary to keep the public in the dark.

What I found interesting to say the least was how much like the sequel, action and suspense can come from very little in the way of violence.  Sure theres some but only to puncuate some scenes.  Much like the sequel, Mulder and Scully work together wonderfully and their charisma and genuine feelings of friendship and partnership aren't fake in the least.

As good as the sequel, I Want to Believe but I enjoyed this one a little more for it's epic and large feel that a movie should have, not to mention it tapped into the conspiracy angles the show had and had many of it's best episodes with and better yet it fits right in between, story wise and continuity wise with season 5 and 6.  It's a shame that the show didn't live up to the movie's standard after this.]]> Mon, 12 Oct 2009 21:24:06 +0000