Friday, October 17, 2008

Slim Pickins: What I'm Watching and Liking This Season

We're several episodes into most of the shows for the the new season, both returning and freshman series, and I've started to realize that the shows I look forward to this year have changed.

Last year, hands down, I would have listed Dexter as my favorite show. This year...I'm not completely buying into it yet. I had high hopes for Fringe, And Sarah Connor? Well, the last episode I watched (the third?) was better than the first two, and I hear the next one is even cooler, but...I just haven't been won over yet.

The times they are a'changing.

I should note that my schedule has been kind of crazy these past few months, so there are a number of shows I just haven't seen at all or have fallen a number of episodes behind with. (Does that sentence make grammatical sense? I don't know.) Still, here's my top 10 list for the shows I find myself craving. Yeah, I know, I'm real list-y lately.

I should also note that this isn't my list of best shows. Notice that word above: craving. While many titles on the list would be the same, I couldn't leave out Mad Men, for example. Instead, this is what I find myself wanting to watch. It's like knowing that the 5-star steak house is better, but lusting after Outback. Mmm, Outback. Screw you, arteries!

Also...the first few shows on the list are kind of cheats, so bear with me. Believe me, it could have been a lot worse. I could have had a list with things like Battlestar, Dollhouse, Kings, 3o Rock... at least I'm restricting myself to things that are currently airing.

10. The Shield - This is a cheat because, well, Jul and I have only watched the first two seasons, and we refuse to watch the show out of order...but that doesn't mean I'm not sorely tempted to find out what's happening to Vic Mackey in this current, final season. I just continually exercise restraint. Must find time to watch DVDs...

9. Sons of Anarchy - I keep wanting to watch, but damn if that 90 minute pilot isn't daunting. Still, how can you go wrong with Hellboy, Leela and Skinner in the same show? About bikers? Especially when there are all the Hamlet overtones. Gotta get to it soon.

8. Life On Mars - Okay, okay, I've only watched the first episode, but it was good and interesting enough (not to mention the great things I've heard about the British version) to whet my appetite and make me curious for more.

7. The Office - The first and only half hour show on this list, The Office still finds ways to stay consistently smart and funny in its 5th season. Not to mention the fact that it has done that rarest of things with Jim and Pam: have two characters in a relationship that feels real and loving AND remains interesting enough to watch.

6. Ugly Betty - Still hasn't regained the heights of the first season, and to a great extent they mishandled the character of Alexis, but I always enjoy it. And sometimes they knock a story out of the park, like with the recent subplot involving Hilda cheating with a married man.

5. Pushing Daisies - Keep in mind this list isn't necessarily a measure of quality. There are several shows above this that probably aren't as creative, well-written or just plain good. But for some reason my Daisies desire has never really reached rabid peaks: for reasons I can't explain, I simply want to watch the shows above it more. That being said, I've seen two episodes thus far, and the second one was much-improved from the season premiere. Something about it just felt off, exaggerated and ultimately lifeless. With things now seemingly moving in the right direction, and with the amped up story-ness that Fuller has promised this season, I think Daisies will be gaily skipping up a few numbers before many weeks have passed.

4. Dexter - I said it had fallen, not that I didn't watch and wasn't interested. Time will tell if Dexter stays as fantastic as I found it to be in its first two seasons or loses my interest, but right now... Well, showrunner Daniel Cerone left to head up Dirty Sexy Money, and I can't help but feel that that is part of the reason that Dexter just doesn't feel like Dexter anymore. He used to be a monster that observed humanity and straddled the line between feeling disgusted by us and desperately wanting to be one of us. Now... he just feels like a guy who just happens to kill people and it gets in the way of his increasingly normal life. Even his trademark voice overs have lost much of their wit and bite. I'm still on board, but sometimes I find myself staring out the windows instead of watching what's in front of me.

3. Chuck - It's not perfect. In fact, Chuck does a number of things that make me roll my eyes, but the stories and performances are so fun and entertaining to watch that I'm willing to forgive it a lot. I also feel like Chuck pretty much knows exactly what it's doing, and when they explain something with a silly device (which is often) at least they own it and usually make it a joke. Plus: what other TV show do you know that has a Thunderdome? That's just awesomeness incarnate.

2. True Blood - Vampires that live among humans in an alternative history (future?) world with a Southern Gothic aesthetic? Now add political overtones...and mind reading...and a dog that just kind of shows up and makes you wonder what the hell is up with it, it's got to mean something...?! It's safe to say that I was curious about HBO's new show from the get go, but I only got fully on board after we marathoned episodes 3-5 last Friday night. I trust you Alan Ball; take me on a good ride.

And the show I'm most psyched to watch week-to-week...

1. Greek - I know, right? I can feel you judging me. But I can't stop watching. What was a moderately fun diversion a year ago has become one of the most consistently entertaining and clever shows on television -- for my taste, anyway. It's still silly and soapy, but the comedy has gotten a lot smarter and the character stuff and plot twists are fantastic. Right now, if I'm completely honest, I have to admit that Greek is my favorite show on.

(As a side note/PSA for all the people who work on Greek that read this blog -- because clearly there are many... or at least one, I hope -- check out our pilot On Duty on our website We must write for you!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Totally Biased Top 5 ELE Applications

A couple of months ago The Whedon unleashed Dr. Horrible upon the world, and we all collectively trembled. And laughed. And some of us might have even teared up a little bit, but I wouldn't know anybody like that.

Anyway, it was long rumored that people would be invited to submit applications to the Evil League of Evil with a select few maybe even making it to the DVD. Mere weeks ago the official announcement and due date was announced, and somehow the date already came and went.

Geez, Whedon people, give the fans a little notice next time. But I digress...

In the last several days, swarms of videos have popped up on a variety of sites, and I've waded through thousands (okay, tens...) to bring you this -- my Top 5 ELE Applications.

These are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the bees knees. Also, they are the ones that I managed to watch all the way through.

How did I judge? Glad you asked. This is totally and completely based upon personal preference. Some have great acting and singing; some do not. Some have wonderful, clever writing and characters; others, not so much. Some have beautiful production values as good as a lot of the stuff on television; others ... well, it's the Internet, take a guess.

In order of preference, here are my Top 5 ELE Applications:

5. Short Change

4. The Grimmarion

THE GRIMMARIAN! from Kendal Newman on Vimeo.

3. The Pocket Paradox

2. Tur-Mohel

Tur-Mohel -- Evil League Of Evil Application from Ryan Lewis on Vimeo.

1. Fury of Solace

Submitted for your approval: Fury of Solace's application for admission into the Evil League of Evil from Fury of Solace on Vimeo.

Emmett wins for two reasons -- 1) Um, duh, he's my friend. What? I told you this was completely biased. 2) In a move that may but hopefully won't hurt him, he decided to tell an actual story instead of stay beholden to the whole "application" thing, the result being that it's the only one where my immediate reaction is: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ciao...and 10 other Italian words I learned in Italy

No one told me that jet lag actually gets worse before it gets better -- how annoying is that?

Jul and I got back from the honeymoon on Friday and I'm thisclose to getting a full night's sleep, so I got that going for me.

What we don't have going for us yet is a workshop or fellowship -- oh-for-2 on NBC and WB this year. Luckily I hear it's get into Disney/ABC. Hahaha...ha.

But at least I have Italian memories (really -- I've developed a method whereby I can siphon the memories of others, so I used it on some unsuspecting Florentines), and right now I'd like to share one with you.

This is by far the coolest thing we saw in Italy, and I'm going to steal pictures from others because we were good little Americans and actually obeyed the NO PHOTOS signs.

The Cemetery of the Capuchin Fathers resides in a church much like any other in Rome. Outside, the building is nondescript -- stone stairs lead up to a landing with a balcony and a doorway off to one side. Continue up the stairs past the landing and you will enter the church itself, complete with beautiful statuary and artwork -- standard for most Roman churches.

But if you stop on that landing and pay a Euro to go through that doorway off to the're in for something a little more than "standard."

Those are real human bones, my friends. And there are 6 or 7 rooms just like it there. Awesomely creepy, no? But kind of oddly beautiful too. And shockingly creative.

But what kind of person could even conceive of doing something like this? Who wakes up and says, "Hmm. If I just boil the skin off of these bodies, I could make a flower out of those pelvic bones. And these fingers would create a killer scale for the child-sized Death I'm thinking of hanging on the ceiling here, right next to the family crest made with I-don't-even-know-where-on-my-body-those-bones-come-from!" Who comes up with that?

Oh, right. Monks.

America would be so much cooler if we had more monks.

(And oh yeah, we're totally finding a way to use this in some story somewhere. Is it possible that no one has used it yet?! Insanity.)