Monday, January 17, 2011

Blast from the Past: Billy Ocean

Man, I used to love this song. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I still do. And how do I not remember that Billy Ocean was smokin' hot??? Oh, maybe cuz I was 14 and totally in love with John Taylor from Duran Duran. I had a type back then, and pretty much stuck to it.

Here's Lover Boy from Billy Ocean (ca. 1984)

New TV Watch: The Cape

I had high hopes for The Cape. Yeah, it looked stoopid. But it looked like it could be fun-stoopid. Instead, it was just kinda lame. And hubbie and I dropped out after about 25 minutes. We didn't even get to the appearance of the lovely Summer Glau. This is another one that I might give another chance to later on, if it sticks around at all and if people say it's gotten better. Otherwise, I'll just laugh my ass off at the stoopid promos NBC has been running for it.

New TV Watch: Shameless

Man, I'm behind on this. Shameless aired its pilot last week on Showtime. It's a remake of a British show that I've never seen. I don't have much to say about it. I kinda liked it, but mostly I liked Emmy Rossum. This week's episode is probably On Demand by now, but I might wait and see if people think the show's gotten better. I just watch so much TV right now, and I just got a Roku box so I can watch more Netflix on the television, and this just doesn't seem like something I HAVE to see.

And the beauty of having Showtime and On Demand is that I can decide later to just watch the whole season at once if I want to. We'll see.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New TV Watch: Downton Abbey

I'm not a regular PBS viewer. I always forget to check out what's on Masterpiece Theater. Actually, it's Masterpiece Classic now. The last thing I watched on PBS was Sherlock. But since then I've started checking to see what's airing on Sunday nights, especially since there's a dearth of good shows on Sundays right now. (well, and the ones I might end up watching are all on pay cable channels and I can catch them On Demand later) Last night a new show started airing, a four-part mini-series called Downton Abbey. It's a story about the people who live and work at Downton Abbey, beginning in the year 1912.

I might not have watched this show had it not been for Mo Ryan. She's a blogger at TV Squad. I don't actually follow TV Squad, but I follow Mo on Twitter and she always puts links to her posts on there so I follow up that way. Anyway, Mo has been talking up this show for a few weeks now, on her blog and on the podcast she does with Ryan McGee, "Talking TV with Ryan and Mo" (available on itunes or by RSS conversion here).

So I figured I'd give it a go and if I didn't like it I could always watch more Parks and Recreation on my new Roku. Well, I watched up the whole thing and I'm ready for more. The characters are rich and the story is interesting and it was just a lot of fun to watch. Plus, costumes! Dresses! Big Fluffy Hats!! Dame Maggie Smith asking "what's a weekend?" And she really doesn't know! So Much Fun.

For a more in-depth look at the show, read Mo Ryan's post.

New TV Watch: Bob's Burgers

Bob's Burgers is a new animated show on Fox. I watched primarily because Kristen Schaal, H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman are doing voices for it. Mostly for Schaal, though. In the previews I saw, her character Louise is wearing pink bunny ears and she was talking about her parents grinding meat. If you've seen or heard Kristen Schaal, you know she has a rather unique voice and while grinding meat isn't funny in and of itself, with her saying it, it was much funnier than it should have been.

So how was the rest of the show? It was all right. I'll probably watch again just to see what they do with it, but I dunno. Other than Louise in her pink bunny ears, the show wasn't that funny or interesting. I rather enjoyed the first 10 or so minutes and then I was ready to switch channels (if there had been anything else on). I think that my enjoyment will be ensured if they just make Louise the main character.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guilty Pleasure: PLL

Um, I don't know how it happened, but I um, watched up the first half of the first season of Pretty Little Liars. SHHHHH!!! Don't tell anyone!!! I beg of you!!!

And um, it's pretty bad. Fucking ri-DIC-ulous. It's about a group of teenage girls who I would have hated in high school. If you've seen Gossip Girl, it's kind of like that, except a little more low-rent. Rich little bitches that I don't and never had had anything in common with. And yet...I kept watching.

Now. Here Be Spoilers. I have seen every episode that has been aired and I'm gonna just talk about it. No Whining!!

The premise of the show is this: these four bitchy girls (Aria, Emily, Spencer and Hanna) were camping with their friend Alison (the ringleader of their little clique) when Alison disappeared. The girls lose touch with each other but when the new school season starts, they are reunited when they all discover that someone calling his or herself "A" is texting all of them. Is A Alison? When Alison's body is eventually found, it seems likely that A is whomever killed Alison.

A frankly seems to be EVERYWHERE. They get texts from A pretty much anytime any of them does anything significant. I doubt it will go in this direction, but at this point it would almost make the most sense if A is just Alison's ghost. I mean, seriously. No one can be everywhere like A seems to be. Of course in the most recent episode they finally get the clue that maybe it's more than one person. Duh? Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars, The Scooby Gang these girls are NOT.

In fact, it took me about four episodes before I could really tell them apart and actually remember their names. And it's not that they aren't distinctive, they're just so generically pretty. The only one who stands out is Hanna and that's just cuz she's blond and the other girls have darker hair.

Aria and Emily:

Spencer and Hanna:

Aria is sort-of the focus character of the PLL. She's the average one. Emily is the jock (she's a swimmer), Spencer's the brain (her whole family is ultra smart and competitive), and Hanna's the ... um ... one who wants to be popular? She's blond, but I wouldn't call her the dumb one since they're all pretty dumb.

Before I get to the amazing WTF-ery of this show, I should run down a list of the good parts of PLL. Um, are there any? I am still watching, so there must be something... Oh, yeah! Holly Marie Combs!! I've had a crush on her since Picket Fences. (and we're about the same age, I'm not a pedo.) She was also Piper on Charmed, which I watched ALL of and I don't care if you know that. Holly plays Aria's mother, Ella. Ella and her husband, played by Chad Lowe (and NOT Alexis Denisof, who would have been AWESOME), are having marital problems and that's really the only reason we see Ella. Which is too bad.

I guess for the most part the acting is good. That's a not-bad thing. No one stands out as embarrassingly bad or anything. I have a hate on for Chad Lowe, but I'm not sure why. He's so gloomy gus on the show, he just annoys me. Um, and the music is all right. And the show certainly isn't boring. It does have a fair amount of Ick, though.

To the Icky!!

Number One Ick:

Okay. The first icky thing I remember happening on this show involves Hanna and her mother. Hanna gets caught shoplifting and her mother is terrified that someone will find out and it will ruin her good name? Something? I dunno. She seems terrified it will ruin her rep somehow, but there's no real indication that she even has a rep. Anyhoo. In order to keep her name clear, she does what any good mother would do: she sleeps with the cop. And Mr Cop doesn't just do a wham bang, he kinda sticks around. As in, comes over every night to get his Hanna's Mom on. And Hanna comes down to breakfast and sees this:

Um, ewww???? So instead of being just a one-off icky weird thing, he sticks around to bring the EWWW. When Alison's body turns up, he's also the cop who shows up to question the PLL about Alison, so even when Hanna's mom decides she's boned him enough and kicks him out, he still hangs around being icky.

Number Two Ick:

Aria and her family spent the summer in Iceland or somewhere, and when she gets back to town, she ends up in a restaurant for some reason that I can't remember. Anyway, she meets this cute guy named Ezra Fitz. They hit it off and go on a date or they just exchange longing looks...I can't remember. But does it really matter? They have the hots for each other, that's the important thing.

So then the first week of school happens and Aria goes to English class and discovers...Mr. Fitz! He's a fucking high school teacher!! Who looks about 18!! They established somewhere that he's not way older than Aria, but he's still older and her teacher and this should end this whole matter. But then it wouldn't be part of the Ick Factor, now would it??

So they try to be friends and try not to have the hots for each other, but she thinks she loves him and she guilts him into giving it a chance even though NO FUCKING WAY. I'm all for true love, but shit like that can ruin a man's life and his career FOREVER. Just wait a few years already. But no, instead we have this creeping us out:

And no, they haven't done more than kiss. But still. Icky. Bad Aria!! Bad Fitz!!! (But mostly bad Fitz. She'll just look like the victim if anyone reports them.)

Number Three Ick:

Well, actually this isn't an ick. This is just fucking funny. Okay. After the PLL lose touch with each other (after Alison disappears), Hanna becomes friends with Mona. Or maybe they were already friends. Hanna used to be fat and I think Mona used to be ugly, but Hanna slimmed down and maybe Mona got some plastic bits, and then they sort of became more Popular and stuff. So when Hanna's not hanging out with the other PLLs, she hangs with Mona, who is kind of like early Cordelia Chase. Except she's way less funny and has way less potential to ever be anything other than annoying. So maybe she's more like Harmony. Cordy at least had a brain.

Anyway, in one episode, it's Mona's birthday so she has this big party where everyone comes and camps out. Except they weren't Camping. They were...ugh...Glam-ping. Everyone who comes gets made over and stuff. And now, for those unfamiliar with the term blowout, it basically just means using a hair dryer to give yourself BIG hair. That said, here are two things said regarding the Glamping experience:

Mona, showing the PLLs around:
“Here’s the mani-pedi tent, the massage tent, and here’s the Blow Me Bar.”

And later, Mona says:
“Girls, it’s your turn to get blown!”

Yeah. Drink that in. Said with no irony whatsoever. On a different show, that could have been campy fun, but on this show? Just Sadness. But Hilarious!!!

Okay. So remember how I said these girls aren't exactly bright? Yeah. They never really try to hunt down A. I mean, if I'm reading War and Peace and someone texts me saying they see me reading War and Peace, then, ya know, chances are good that if I look around, I'll see someone nearby. And I'm not talking about if I go sit on a park bench, pull out the book, read for three hours and THEN someone sends the text...I mean, obviously, in that case, someone could have seen me two hours ago and then texted me from their house. I'm talking about the PLLs do something and almost immediately they get a text about it. And they might vaguely look around, but they don't actually, like, all move out in different directions and try to find this person. It's ridiculous.

In one episode, they get Chinese takeout and in their bag is a small bag of fortune cookies. And I don't mean the kind you usually get, which are pre-wrapped. I mean, a small bag with four fortune cookies. Not wrapped. And when they crack open their cookies, they all have a typewritten message from A. Now. It seems that it would occur to them that this is odd. Even if the takeout place makes their own fortune cookies and doesn't wrap them, still, someone who works there would have had to put those fortunes in them. Or A knows how to make his/her own fortune cookies and SOMEHOW got them in the bag. WHO PUT THEM IN THE BAG??? And these girls don't think to go back to the restaurant and ask? Do a little digging? Nope. They just focus on the current message and do their angsty bit.

So, okay, one last thing before I wrap up. In the fall finale, Hanna sees something and thinks she knows who A is.

Hanna: “I know who A is!!”

Me: Here’s about where she gets injured and somehow goes into a coma or something before she can tell anyone...

Show, about two minutes later: “Watch out for that CAR, Hanna!!”

To its credit, she woke up and told what she knew in the spring premiere. But of course she misinterpreted what she saw and she doesn't know who A is.

And I haven't even gotten to the lesbians! Kendra from Buffy is making out with Emily!! And Spencer seems to love kissing/banging her older sister's boyfriends!! And the blind chick who's in love with her brother, who I think/hope is her stepbrother!! And yes, that could definitely have been Ick #4, but dammit. This has gone on for long enough!

So. Guilty pleasure? Yeah, sort of. Except this is worse than a guilty pleasure. Like, I watched half a season of Nip/Tuck (somewhere in the middle of the series) and I felt like I needed a shower afterward. PLL isn't QUITE that bad, but it's close. It's basically one Icky moment away from me saying "I'm out!!" And yet, I've watched quite a few Icky moments that should have already made me say that, so it'll have to be pretty spectacularly Icky.

Sigh. I really miss Veronica Mars sometimes. She'd have hunted down that evil fortune cookie maker.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Roundup

I suppose in the future I'll do something more fancy with this (or not). For now, this will do. It's all of the end-of-year lists that I did. One thing I noticed in putting this together is that I really, really like my TV. I mean, duh. But I should work on doing more movie reviews this year. Plus, I don't give ratings to books like I do with movies and TV. I think that's because I'm so used to starring everything on Netflix. I don't know that I'll change that.

Also, I dunno. I sometimes feel like I have too much leeway on my ratings. I mean, there's really three basic modes: yes, maybe, no. But I do like my gradations so I'll probably keep them.

Favorite TV shows of 2010

TV 2010 runners up and disappointments

TV 2010 odds and ends

All current TV shows I watched in 2010

TV shows I caught up on in 2010

Favorite movies of 2010

Least favorite movies of 2010

All movies watched in 2010

Favorite books of 2010

All books I read in 2010

Least favorite movies of 2010

This is a sampling of some the worst movies I saw this year. Some are here simply because they were disappointing (like Splice) or because they were god-awful (like Legion) or because they were both disappointing and god-awful (Gentlemen Broncos). Now, Troll 2 got 1 star. On reflection, though, it really shouldn't be on this list because it was one of my favorite things I watched last year, it's just a really, really, really terrible movie. Ah, well. It stays simply because I've dithered around enough on this list as it is.

2 1/2 stars:
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
The Hurt Locker

2 stars:

1 1/2 stars:
Happy Hell Night
The Warriors

1 star:
Body Double
Gentlemen Broncos
The Collector (2009)
Troll 2

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's Gonna Be a Great Day!!!

Favorite movies of 2010

Favorite movies I watched in 2010, anyway. Not necessarily made in 2010. These are the movies that I rated with 5-3 stars. It's not the complete list, just a sampling of some of my favorites.

5 stars:
(500) Days of Summer
Battle Royale
Black Dynamite
Inglourious Basterds
Jackie Brown
The White Ribbon

4 1/2 stars:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
A Serious Man
Infernal Affairs

4 stars:
Bad Lieutenant
Pootie Tang
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Spring Breakdown
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Piano Teacher
The Vicious Kind

3 1/2 stars:
Big Fan
Wolf Creek
The House of the Devil

3 stars:
Barry Munday

Favorite books of 2010

These are some of the best books I read this year. (Not all of them actually came out this year.) In no particular order:

Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
Reading this book made me realize just how bad the TV series has become.

Feed by Mira Grant
It would be easy to dismiss this as just another zombie novel. It's not. It's a fully fleshed out world with real people and real consequences. I cried at the end and I don't do that easily anymore.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Strain and The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
And yes, yet more vampire novels. But these are definitely not sparkly vagina-teases of vampires. These are two very different worlds and both are real and exciting and I can't wait for more.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
A fascinating character study of a very odd family and the father at the center who is slowly going mad.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I probably don't have anything to say about this trilogy that hasn't already been said. Ballsy premise, excellent execution.

Infected by Scott Sigler
This book is at turns a ripping good read, hard to put down, and hard to read in places. But only because, EWWWWW!!!! One scene had me almost whimpering, muttering to myself, "no, he's not actually going to DO that, is he???? AAAAAA, he's doing it!!!!"

Revenge of the Witch (et al.) by Joseph Delaney
This is a series of young adult horror type novels that had I read them when I was say, 15, I would have had nightmares. Or at least trouble sleeping. These didn't give me nightmares, but I did enjoy reading them.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
This is an older novel that my seester recommended to me. Rarely has a novel so completely devastated me at the end. Just a really, really good philosophical/science fiction book. Hubbie liked it too.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I'm a bit of a wallflower and I've finally accepted it about myself. I like to sit on the edge and watch and listen. I dunno, reading this novel helped me finally realize that there are perks to being a listener.

Dishonorable mention:
I only read one really bad novel this year, so rather than do a whole post for it, I'm just gonna tack it on here.

Faces of Fear by John Saul
Okay. I don't really remember the plot since I read it early in 2010. But. I do remember it was something about some guy trying to recreate his dead wife with body parts from other people. He'd see a nose that was just like hers and he'd kill the girl and cut off her nose and keep it animated so he could build a new person. And he was a plastic surgeon. And it was completely ridiculous. Just stoopid.