Thursday, September 27, 2012


By Erin Jackson

Science fiction is an odd genre, one that lends itself to melodrama, ridiculous concepts and silliness. Fans of sci-fi are also odd little folks who gather at conventions. I was at DragonCon recently and amidst all the cosplayers dressed as monsters and aliens and villains, there was a man in a suit, wearing a hat and sitting on the floor, looking at an iPad.

An observer. 
My first thought was, "Oh, yay! Fringe!" but, then, as I stared and gawked and marveled, I started to feel a bit unsettled. In Fringe, Observers are us, in the future. They appear in the past at important events. And important events are usually deadly, deadly ones.

The line moved slowly on that crowded skybridge between convention hotels, and I remembered all the episodes that started out like this. He could just be wearing a suit and a hat, I reasoned.

But, what if? We are starting to advance technology to scary levels. There are Hadron colliders, laser-blasting rovers on Mars, and quantum computing. We can grow organs, clone animals and genetically engineer just about anything. Are we on the precipice of entering The Future, the one where our humanity is swallowed up in technology and pure reason?

The beauty of Fringe is that the world it builds is just a few tweaks away from ours.

Well, one of the beautiful things about Fringe. In its five seasons, it also managed to establish some of the best characters on TV. Walter (Willy Wonka meets Dr. Frankenstein meets Jerry Garcia meets J. Robert Oppenheimer), Olivia (a no-nonsense FBI agent with a big heart and a psychic mind) and Peter (a charming autodidact with a shady past who just happens to be the most important dude in two universes) form the core of the show. JJ Abrams doesn't mess around when it comes to creating fantastic, fascinating and flawed characters that draw you into worlds.

The plot will sound convoluted and complex, but trust: it makes sense. Unlike a lot of JJ Abrams shows, there isn't a lot of suspension of belief required. There isn't any metaphysical, mystical or even malicious engine driving the events. It's all about a father and son, both reaching out to each other. Walter screwed up his relationship with Peter. Walter loses Peter. Walter invents a method of crossing over to a new universe to get his son back. Walter has to dissect his brain in order to forget how he did it so he can keep Peter. Peter sacrifices himself in order to make up for Walter's technological transgressions.

The final season of Fringe begins this Friday September 28th and you can step in right now. Honest. I began watching in the third season after some prodding and I was able to pick it up easily since it does serial entertainment right. This season will begin in the future, where the Observers have run amok, and the Fringe crew are brought out of suspended animation to perhaps once and for all save the universe. Though I hate to say goodbye to Olivia, Peter, Walter and Astro Astrid, the writers get to send them off on their own terms, which means that we are in for some fantastic television this Fall.

Erin Jackson didn't die in some sort of quantum morphing or mass liquidification. She did, however, meet Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek, whose former co-star Leonard Nemoy is a frequent guest star of Fringe. When she is not improving her Bacon number by meeting celebrities at conventions, she blogs at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Survivor Phillipines Episode 1

By Lorraine Evans Jackson

I admit it- after a several-season hiatus from Survivor, what lay before me on Survivor made my heart pound. Not the iconic returning players, not the race to pull supplies off the ship and toss chickens overboard, and not the stunning scenery of the Phillipines. What really amped my adrenaline was this:

“You know, Ah’ve hayad people come up ta’me awwll the time and ask me ‘bout Frankenstein” (Indicates to the Frankenstein bust tattooed to his forearm) “he picked a ‘lil girl a flower and gave it to her. That’s right b‘fore he strangled her, but you know, he gave’er a flower. That’s kinda how Ah feel about mahself, you know, Ah could either strangle you or pick you a flower, it just depends what you pull outta me, you know whatamean?” Oh Zane.

Russell from Samoa, Jonathan from Cook Islands and Micronesia, and my personal childhood reality TV hero from season 2 (whoa, has it been that long? Am I that old? Is Jeff Probst truly that okay with living in a decadent trailer in the Jungle for all these years?) Michael from Australia are all back to reclaim their Survivor dignity. Each of them outplayed and outwitted their opponents, but sadly could not outlast dehydration, infection, or, you know, melting their hands with fire. They are here to prove their medical maladies were just flukes, and win the million Washingtons.

But returning players aren’t the only familiar faces. Washed up teen star Lisa Welchel of 'The Facts of Life' was too graceful for Dancing With the Stars, and sadly had to settle for 39 days in the Jungle instead to kickstart her notoriety. MLB Second Baseman Jeff Kent might be familiar to a baseball fan or two from his days on the San Francisco Giants, especially since he brought his outdated mustache with him as his luxury item.

Jeff gets right to business kicking survivors off the boat, and survivors get right to business trying to drown their chickens. Multiple participants still seem confused about how this game works. They arrived in trendy linen shirts, one-sleeved sun dresses, and what I’m almost positive is a denim jumper.

Survivor Tribes Cheat Sheet:
Matsing-Purplish Tealish?

Tandang-Yellow (runner up)

Kalabaw-Red (winner)

Russell gives the Matsing tribe a long leadership speech about how he’s not a leader, Malcolm takes his shirt off (my favorite kind of silent leadership) Jonathan sacrifices Kalabaw tribe bonding time for a dip in the freshwater, and RC shows Tandang the Summer 2012 Victoria’s Secret line she brought with her to the island.

But the real hard worker in episode one is Zane. He makes alliances with the girls, the boys, the chickens, and at least two camera men.

The immunity challenge is your classic brains and brawns test, and another fantastic opportunity for Russell to show how very deeply he wants to not be the leader by talking a great deal and cutting people off. Kalabaw (purplishtealish) wins in a come-from-behind win for immunity and a fire kit, and Tandang (the yellow folks) make lovely runners up for immunity and flint. Matsing makes a hilarious showing of micromanaging, lack of aerobic dexterity (also known as laziness), and utter puzzle puzzlement to come in a distant third.

It’s quickly clear that there is an emotional divide in the tribe between the normal people and the crazy people. The only question becomes which crazy to send home first: the failurific non-leading micromanager Russell, or the unathletic lovebug redneck, Zane. It devastates me to lose either of these blogging treasures. Wise, hot Malcolm seems equally torn.

Survivor is cruel, and so away went my Survivor bread and butter, Zane. Just as he was starting to get his metaphors about onions straight they took him away from me. Stay away from the smokes, Zane.

Lorraine’s Predictions:
Denise (sex therapist) and Wise Hot Malcolm are going to make a good run of it. RC will go far, but backstab too much to make it all the way. Roxy, Pete, and Artis seem like strong quiet folk who could ride coat tails to the top. If my old Fan Favorite, Michael, can survive his own accident prone propensity, brother stands a chance.

Look forward to a season of breakdowns, injuries, broken hearts and sleuthing, y’all!

Lorraine is a University employee by day, trash TV enthusiast at night, and equestrian nutcase all the time. She is wildly outnumbered by dudes in the house she shares with her husband Dan, cat Jeoffrey, and dog Reverend Trask

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kelly's New Office

By Meg Walter

Tonight The Mindy Project premieres on Fox. I watched the pilot while it was on Hulu for a brief period and I found it promising. Perfect? No. But no pilot is. It usually take at least half a season, if not a whole for a new series to hit its stride, understand its characters and find its pace. So it's no surprise that The Mindy Project has a few kinks to work out, but there is some real potential in the premise and the characters.

Mindy Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, an OBGYN who is great at her job and bad at love. It may sound like every other show with a woman in the lead role currectly on television, but The Mindy Project manages to make it feel fresh. In the first few minutes of the first episode we witness Mindy's meet-cute with Bill Hader, only to cut to his wedding reception celebrating his marriage to another woman. Mindy gives an embarrassing drunken speech, the first in a series of events that leads to a soaking Mindy in a police interrogation. The show takes off from there with a tone of both self deprication and blissful confidence (she asks for a tour of the Special Victims Unit before leaving the station).

Chris Messina. who you may recognize from Vicky Christina Barcelona and Julie & Julia, is really great as fellow doctor Danny Castellano. The stand out scene of the pilot is an exchange of insults between Mindy and Danny regarding women's fashion. It's no-holds-barred as Mindy claims that a divorced man doesn't understand women or their clothing, and Danny tells her to lose fifteen pounds. It serves as a good example of Mindy Kahling, not only the star of the show but the head writer as well, being comfortable in her own skin and willing to joke about the color and size of it.

In Interviews I've heard and read, Kaling is careful to say that she wants to be known for being a great comedy writer. Not a great Indian writer, not a great woman writer, just a great writer. That's not to say she won't use her race or gender for material. She just won't position herself as a role model to other Indians or other women. She wants to a role model to writers.

And perhaps that attitude is the reason I want The Mindy Project to do well. I want Mindy to do well. Her brilliance brought us the constintly great Kelly Kapoor, even in the last few faltering season of The Office. Her writing gave us some of the best episodes of The Office, including "The Dundies", "The Injury" and "Niagara." It's obvious that Kaling understands comedy and has the chops to pull off a show of her own. I expect great things.

Meg Walter writes about television to justify watching so darn much of it. When she's not on her couch letting her brain turn to jello she's blogging at, playing with her baby girl, or beating her husband in board games.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ms Knope Goes to Washington

By Erin Jackson

The episode of Parks and Rec opens with Leslie Knope saying "Romantic reunions, government meetings, self-guided museum tours? I mean, am I living the dream? I don't know. Did I also just walk past a food truck and buy myself a waffle sundae? Yes." And it seemed like she was finally in her perfect Leslie Knope element. As Leslie and Andy sightsee their way through DC, her joy and enthusiasm are at maximum levels.

 Things start to go south when Ben can't join Leslie on any museum tours, not even to see George Washington's farewell address candle stand. Then the Department of the Interior dude wouldn't meet with Leslie and she had to add her perfect proposal presentation (complete with ambient sound effects and video of frolicking river otters) into a large, dismal and overflowing pile. And as Ben introduced her to all the Hot Rebeccas and Barbara Boxers, she starts to see that DC views her as just another sad folder in a sad pile to be ignored and forgotten.

 Sad Leslie makes sad Erin. Leslie Knope is my number one TV hero on the air right now. If there were just one Leslie Knope at every level of government, this world would be an amazing place. So when Leslie is discouraged, when others make her feel like some backwoods rube for staying in her hometown and taking pride in her work, my heart aches. Oh, when they said "local government is SO important" I wanted to throw water in the faces of all those C-SPAN and Neiman Marcus love children.

 Meanwhile, back in Pawnee, Ron takes over a BBQ and Ron Swanson's it up with a live pig, no vegetables (not even corn), no plates, not activities and pretty soon neither he nor the Parks Department can take it anymore. He rides off with the BBQ grill in tow, leaving the others dusty, hungry and cranky.

 These were dark times for the Pawnee Parks Department. But in this group of beautiful, sweet people, you can only wallow in self-pity so long before someone is there to lift you out of it. Ron is put in his place by Chris, and Ron makes up for his Ron-ing up by giving a little indoor BBQ and corn feast. For Leslie, the lifter-upper Andy. Sweet, stupid Andy. He tells her that she's better than Hot Rebecca- she's kick-ass Leslie, and she never gives up because she's an amalgam (you'll get it right someday, Andy). That's just the thing Leslie needs to hear and by the end of the episode, she's out of that disgusting swamp of DC and knee-deep in the disgusting Pawnee River, only this time she's taking things into her own hands, making river-clean up her office hours so she can hear people's concerns while improving the river. Then I'm kind of bummed because I can't vote for Leslie Knope for everything.

But at least she is happy, for now. However, if Ben Wyatt doesn't get his butt out of DC and back into Leslie's arms, not only will Leslie punch his face, but I don't really know if they can make things work. I sure hope that I'm wrong, because Ben and Leslie make me happy and this show exists to make me happy. Perhaps the show will yet again show us that with the right people you can have very different folks making each other happy, no matter what.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Walking Dead will be walking again soon

By Nick Morley

Don, Roger, and Pete are going to be off Madison Avenue for a while, and Walt and Jesse won’t be cooking until next summer, so  what are AMC fans to do? October is approaching, which means cheap candy, a bitter chill in the air, and luckily for AMC fanatics, The Walking Dead.

The first season of The Walking Dead caught everyone by surprise. We expected the same old story, a zombie apocalypse, only a few survivors left for dead, blood, gore, brain eating etc… But what we actually got was a wide array of complex and broken characters as well as a very well developed plot.

The Walking Dead is much deeper than the stereotypical zombie movies where the undead simply try to feast on your brains. The show delves into actual human emotion, like when characters see family members turned into monsters that they often they have to kill.

For those who are new to The Walking Dead, I highly suggest watching the pilot first. It is a near perfect episode of television which leaves you disgusted, disturbed, and wanting more. If you thought or think that zombies aren’t exactly your favorite kind of drink, The Walking Dead will leave you pleasantly surprised.

The only real criticism I have about the walking dead is it's striking similarity to LOST. A big group of different people all centered around one goal, having to overcome their differences to achieve it. Of course in LOST,  they’re not often worried about watching their fellow comrade’s face be eaten off.

The Walking Dead is the only television show I’ve watched where I have made been legitimately worried about the characters, and have sat on the edge of my seat for over a half hour without realizing it. The make up and gore, are so well done, that it grosses you out in the best way possible and makes it difficult to distinguish the pretend from reality.

The show is made by AMC, and fans of Breaking Bad and Mad Men know that everything this network  touches is gold. The walking dead is no different. The acting is fantastic, the sets are perfect, and the story line leaves you wanting more and more. 

This October, fight the dead, and fear the living.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting Up To Speed

By Megan Geilman

I was dubious at the very underwhelming thumbnails of what seemed to be a show about a British man talking about different American cities. Then I got an email from Hulu urging me to watch their original series “Up to Speed” and was slightly more intrigued because the British man was in a photo wearing a jacket with epaulets and the body of the email boasted: “an offbeat historical travel show chronicling America’s monumentally ignored monuments.”

Still I didn’t watch. Then one night I did…and I was in for quite a few surprises. First, the man isn’t British, just ugly. He also has a very unattractive voice, which is slightly jarring if not refreshing. He looks and sounds like a combination of Ed Wynn and my 5th grade music teacher who spit a lot when she talked, And he dresses weird. And talks to some of the monuments. And some of them talk back. If you can get past all this, and I hope you can, this is probably one of the most fascinating non-fiction shows I have ever watched, if not the most fascinating.

The writing is so fantastically stimulating and the historical facts are so underground and interesting and his philosophies about life and travel are original enough that I just could not put my iPhone down. As a lover of travel, and one who has visited all of the places he’s been so far—I could not believe I had never even HEARD of a SINGLE thing he talked about. If you are looking for fascinating dinner conversation…This. Is. It.

For example, on his tour of New York, he explains: “New York City is a jazz-bepop-conversationalist of a metropolis, and the best way to converse with it is by concentration on its randomness, and foregoing any notion of a route. As we stroll the streets of New York now, for best results, maintain a continuing state of un-aiming yourself…Those of us enjoying our time within city limits, are the healthy associates of chaos. So, let arbitrary be our co-pilot, and purposelessness our destination.” He uses words like “synchronicity” and encourages us to “connoisseur the honks of the city.” It’s Shakespeare from a Clown! The animation keeps things rolling so it never seems too pedantic, and really—I cannot emphasize the writing enough.

I don’t know if it’s specifically the writing or the fascination fir historical facts he shares, but this show has incredible recall power. While visiting New York City this weekend to see a friend, I was able to retell almost the entire episode as we strolled the streets of The Big Apple—including why it is called The Big Apple. May you never have a dull conversation again...

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She lives in a small artsy borough just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and unborn child. She is in the painfully slow process of getting her interior design business off the ground, but also does graphic design, if you're into that. She blogs at and

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hopefully not the new normal for television

By Meg Walter

Ryan Murphy's new show The New Normal is even more problematic than Glee, if that's even possible. Like Glee, the production value is high. It looks more like a high budget film than a sitcom. The soundtrack is fun, the wardrobes spot on, and the sets enticing. But, like Glee, the characters are completely unbearable, making the whole ordeal exhausting at best and unwatchable at worst.

Goldie, yes, her name is Goldie, loves everyone! She's so open minded! So sweet! So blond! Sure, she steals her grandmother's car to drive across the country with her daughter who should probably be in school and on a whim decides to be a surrogate mother, but she's the hero and we can overlook her faults because she's tolerant and disagreeing with her choices makes us just like her villainy grandmother, Nana.

In the first two episodes Nana uses slurs to refer to gay men, lesbians, Latinos, black people, people who wear glasses, Asians, and the Jewish. Besides being highly offensive, these lines are very poorly written. "I feel like I ate a black and gay stew," suggesting that the show's writers drew random Sue Sylvesterisms from a hat or played Bigoted Madlibs to write their dialogue. Nana is the obvious foil to the shows other "progressive" characters. She watches Bill O'Reilly. She hates Obama. She's a closed-minded conservative, or conservative because she's close-minded, the show doesn't really seem to care which.

Bryan, of the David and Bryan couple, sees a baby in a department store and decides it's the cutest thing he's ever seen and he must have one, which is a totally legitimate reason to pay thousands of dollars for a surrogate mother have a child. Bryan loves to shop, thinks of foot ball half-times as Madonna performances, wants a skinny blond baby that doesn't cry, and says to David that he wants baby clothes and a baby to put them on. Like Goldie and Nana, Bryan is an extreme hyperbole, a stereotype in lieu of a person.

David, of David and Bryan, is the only character I found likable, responsible and multidimensional. Unlike his partner, David seems grounded and caring. He wants a child capable of cognitive thought, not just a pretty face. He thinks through what having a child will really mean for his future, and even hesitates before ultimately deciding it's the right step for his and his partner's future. He deserves better than this train wreck of a narrative.

Goldie's child Shania serves the sole purpose of exposing other character's motivations. "Mom, what were your dreams before you accidentally had me?" she asks, allowing Goldie to explain she  wishes she were a powerful lawyer, completely gliding over the fact that this child has been told at too young an age that she was unwanted and that her existence prevented her mother from living her dream.

Bryan's assistant Rocky is played by NeNe Leakes, who is apparently a big deal in The Real Housewives universe, and proof that a reality television star does not a good actor make. She delivers her Sassy Black Lady lines with all the enthusiasm of a sleeping sea slug. If NeNe were pulling this off, her character would be another cliche, but she's not pulling this off, so instead we get a flat recitation of a cliche script.

The New Normal is awfully bigoted for a show that so vehemently denounces bigotry. A show that dares us to defy stereotypes should not have a gay man concerned only with  superficials, an elderly racist conservative or a single mother who wishes her life were different. We call that reinforcing.

Meg Walter writes about televisions to justify watching so darn much of it. When she's not on her couch letting her brain turn to jello she's blogging at, playing with her baby girl, or beating her husband in board games.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Forget it, Jake- it's Terriers

By Erin Jackson

Terriers, like much of film noir, takes place in Southern California with a damsel in distress that leads to a case that quickly turns out to be so much more than our PI bargained for. It's hard to ignore the echoes of the neo-Noir classic Chinatown in its corrupt development deal plotline. However, Terriers lacks the dark fog, the stylized shadowy figures and other conceits of the genre. The action takes place mostly in the light of day, and in some ways the slacker-PI and dark buddy-comedy aspects of the show lessen the blow of the gritty subject matter, but in other ways, we see how a dark underbelly can reside anywhere, even in an idyllic oceanside town.

From the get go, Terriers sets itself apart from not only its Film Noir predecessors but from most TV dramas these days, as Terriers features a true hero, a guy we routinely root for and are rarely disappointed in. Donal Logue plays Hank Dollworth, an ex-cop who sobered up and starts a semi-reputable private detective agency. Hank utilizes his finely tuned skill set of a scoundrel on the outside of polite society for the benefit of mankind. He doesn't play by the rules but isn't without morals. In the first episode alone he is given ample opportunities to back down from his quest to take down a corrupt developer, to look the other way when people he cares about are framed and to profit from it. But he doesn't. At one point in the pilot he walks into a liquor store, stares down the wall of bottles and picks one up, and I yell at my TV, thinking that he is back on the wagon (off the wagon?) only to see in the next scene the bottle is for his former boss on the force, and it's a peace offering, and I wanted to give my TV a hug.

And Britt, his partner, is in a committed relationship with a wonderful girl who he is trying his best to be good enough for. Their lawyer Maggie Lefferts is very pregnant and very talented, way better than these two schmucks deserve but how I love her for trying to guide them through the dangerous terrain of pursuing a big time criminal on a low budget. And I even like Hank's ex-wife Gretchen, and so does Hank, really. There aren't a lot of people I wish ill upon; just a bunch of imperfect people trying and failing and trying again, which is so refreshing to see.

It almost goes without saying that this 1) well reviewed series with 2) a small but loyal fan base that 3) has a horrible name got cancelled pretty quickly. There are rumors of Terriers becoming a movie in the future, or getting picked up on Netflix, Arrested Development-style, and either of these things (or both) would be amazing. Though the season ends satisfyingly (this isn't one of those series that feels truncated at one season) these characters and actors merit more time, and if you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and get to know them.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coffee Break

By Megan Geilman

Jerry Seinfeld’s new webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee could also easily be titled “Jerry Seinfeld Loves His Life.” In a Q&A after his Salt Lake Show a couple years ago someone asked if he was going to be doing anything “new.” He hemmed and hawed and then finally said in a very Seinfeld way: “Errrm, no I don’t think so…I’m rich…really really rich.” He had a couple of kids and was looking to settle down and happily live out his life. So I have to wonder if he came up with this series on his own or was approached with an offer too enticing to refuse, but I don’t blame him for coming out of retirement for it.

Every episode is just Jerry Seinfeld, calling up one of his funny friends (which, luckily, are also OUR funny friends: Ricky Gervais, Brian Regan, etc.) and driving in a REALLY nice vintage car and getting a cup of coffee. The conversation is unscripted and chuckle-worthy (think yada yada yada meets hee hee hee). Nothing has left me crying-my-eyes-out/peeing-my-pants with laughter but it’s definitely not unfunny. Plus it’s fun feeling like you get a peek at these guys when they are off-stage and off TV/Movie Camera. At 15 minutes an episode, it’s definitely worth part of your lunch, snack, or coffee break.

The show is hosted on its own site:  and on Crackle ( )

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She lives in a small artsy borough just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and unborn child. She is in the painfully slow process of getting her interior design business off the ground, but also does graphic design, if you're into that. She blogs at and

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Chandler without Monica

By Jaclyn Hutchins

Dear Chandler-

I have missed you so much since Friends went off the air. Let’s be honest – you were the funny one…not just because you were called the “funny one” or because you used humor as a defense mechanism, but because you genuinely made me laugh the hardest. TV critics are saying your new show where you’ve assumed the new name of Ryan King is what would have happened if you had never married Monica. As much I loved the two of you together, I’m ready to watch you alone. So I’ll be tuning in Tuesdays at 9pm for “Go On” with fingers crossed and an impression of one of your classic dance moves prepared to celebrate what I hope is a new hit. 


Jaclyn Hutchins lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and teaches high school English. She is asked if her teacher knows where she is least once a month despite being perilously close to 30. Jaclyn’s latest rule for herself is that she cannot watch TV until she has completed her run for the day. She runs her first half-marathon in October.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bachelor Pad Finale, or Why You Should Never Underestimate the Quiet One

Last night's BP finale totally made up for the snoozefest that was all seven previous episodes. The last few minutes were so incredible that I gave a standing ovation from my living room.

But let's start from the beginning.

We start by catching up with the contestants and their "relationships". Kalon and Lindzi are still together, although Eika Rose make things supes awks by announcing that Kalon has been a man about Austin Town with all sorts of ladies.  Michael called his relationship with Rachel a summer camp relationship. Rachel thought it was eternal love. Whoops. Jaclyn is still mad at Rachel for sending her home. No one cares.
Jamie says some stuff but I have no idea what  because I'm too distracted by her face:

The makeup artist hates her

Blakely has a new tat sleeve, and things with her and Tony The Rebound are "going well". With a forced smile she announces that they're moving in together. But when Tony has something more to say, she looks like she might wet herself. And after Tony proposes with a NEIL LANE diamond (courtesy of ABC, I'm sure), this is Blakely's face:

Poor thing forgot her bra

They are going to make it for sure. Remember how Tony did all this for his son? Lucky kid gets an emotionally unstable 34 year old Hooters waitress for a new mommy.

Rachel shows up looking like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman before the shopping spree. Big mistake, Rachel. Huge. She ignores her partner and cries about Michael. No one cares.

Chris claims that he's already taken some major heat from his family for his treatment of females, so leave him alone guys because he's already heard it and he's grounded until graduation. "I hear it from my parents and I've had enough" says the 25 year old man incapable of making good choices without Mom and Dad near.

It's no surprise that Rachel and Nick win the votes of their housemates over Chris the Villain and his partner Sarah. But then it's time to send them to their deliberation rooms. In these rooms, there are two signs. One says "share", the other says "keep." If both Nick and Rachel choose "share", they split $250,000. If both choose "keep," neither gets the money. If one chooses "keep" and the other chooses "share", the partner who chooses "keep" gets every penny. We have to assume that Nick and Rachel have discussed this before hand and reached an agreement. They spend five minutes in their separate rooms looking concerned and conflicted, never very convincingly. The two walk back on stage holding their concealed signs. Rachel says, "You can't win without a partner" and reveals her sign reading "share." Then Nick makes this speech:

"I think it's really funny...ironic...that nobody sitting up there in the cast, nobody sitting in the audience, and nobody sitting at him watching this ever would have put their money on me being here and winning this. I was on nobody's radar. Nobody was ever on my team, and I did this all myself. Nobody ever cared how I was going to vote, what my plan was. I feel like I'm an outsider. I got here by myself and I did this all by myself. Rachel never wanted to be my partner. As a matter of fact she told me that she backed into this partnership, and she tried to leave on me three times, knowing that it would screw me over. Never once did she say to me, 'I'm going to stick it out for your sake'."

And then Nick reveals his sign that reads, "Keep."I get chills. The audience stands and applauds. The jaws of the cast drop in unison. An irate Rachel spews profanity and claims he never would have made it without her. She cries. No one cares. She calls him a schmuck, and he replies with what might be the greatest line in television history, "I'm a schmuck with $250,000." Bravo, sir. 

Nick made it through Bachelor Pad in very much the same way I made it through middle school, saying as little as possible and staying out of everyone's way. He was looked over as the quiet one, the loner, the partner no one wanted. And for that he won a quarter of a million dollars. 

The producers try extremely hard to elicit our sympathies for a devastated Rachel using a melancholy piano melody as back drop to the limo interview with a slick-haired Nick with a sinister smile intermittently cut with footage of a crying Rachel. It doesn't work. I'm so proud of the quiet guy who played the greatest game television has every seen. 

The credits roll over footage of contestant dissing Nick. Chris says, "Nick doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't seem like the smartest guy." I hope his dad spanked him for that one. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Doctor UGH

By Erin Jackson

Prior to this season's premiere of Doctor Who, we were told two things:

1. Rory and Amy Pond will leave the series
2. There will be a new companion, whose name is Clara Oswin and will enter the series around the Christmas special

So imagine my surprise when in a mere 45 minutes, Oswin was introduced and practically killed off and we were so chock full of brackish Pond drama that I wanted to be rid of them as soon as possible.

Amy and Rory pond have been fun companions and Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Matt Smith have wonderful chemistry onscreen, probably since they were chums in real life before being cast together. And the storylines involving the Ponds' relationship have been lovely at times. But honestly? Enough already.

Amy's an edgy fashion model who is too busy smiling with her eyes to make Rory feel loved? Rory has always wanted kids but Amy can't have anymore because of… some River related thing? Seriously? These are ridiculous problems to give them as an excuse for their divorce, and then you have them reconcile in this episode. This serves no purpose, other than to make me want them to leave as soon as possible and lead me to google "rory williams death scene montage" to remember the good times.

Then, then you give us Oswin, who is like a breath of snaky, soufflé-scented fresh air only to turn her into a Dalek a few minutes later. A really cute, crazy-smart Dalek, but, still pretty terrifying and deadly. There are a number of ways in which this could play out (a River-like "spoilers!" timey wimey situation, her being called Clara in the press releases but not in the episode indicating there are multiple Oswins, maybe the Doctor will travel with a Dalek (OH PLEASE let that be the one)). But we will have to wait and see how and when this will be addressed and will have to wade through the Ponds' relationship issues for a good part of this season. I'm used to companions leaving in heartbreaking ways (I'm still not over what happened to Donna Noble and don't get me started on K-9; I know they're not dead, it doesn't make it any better), but never outstaying their welcome. This is new and bad and I don't want it.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

To Tide You Over

By Megan Geilman

Labor Day is over, the leaves are just starting to change color, the children are back to school and our fall lineup is about to begin once again. Fresh episodes to see, cliff hangers to be answered, relationships with our DVR to be rekindled…it’s perhaps the other most wonderful time of the year. But alas, the new seasons don’t air for a few more weeks and you're probably out of ideas for nightly viewing. You want something engaging, but nothing that will get you sucked in (think LOST) and mess up your carefully manicured viewing schedule set to begin. I hear ya, so I've reviewed a few one season shows that for various reasons are fairly high quality but did not get renewed and would be easily forgotten if we were still living B.H. (Before Hulu).

The Finder (13 episodes, available on Hulu)

As miffed as I was that the series premier hijacked one of my precious Bones episodes, marketing it as a spin-off series (I wasn’t aware you could simultaneously introduce completely new characters in a locale 1,200 miles away and spin them off into their own show but apparently you can) the show actually ended up being fairly enjoyable. My husband found the witty banter more palatable than that of Psych (which has a very similar premise) while I enjoyed the quirky set and interesting characters.
White guy genius finder is a Major Walter Sherman (played by Geoff Stults) who, after a brain injury while serving overseas, magically develops the OCD-like need to find things for people. He is ultra observant (a similarity to Psych) and often disregards the law, which makes for funny one-liners from his black man partner, Leo Knox (played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan) who has to tell him exactly which laws he is about to break so that he can weigh his options.
Although the last episode had the characters doing some radically un-characteristic things, the writers did a fairly good job wrapping things up and not leaving TOO many cliff hangers. The ending leaves you slightly wondering, but able to move on…something I give credit for.

Flash Forward (22 episodes, available on Hulu and Netflix)

The show has a tantalizing premise that is set up in the first episode: everyone in the entire world blacks out at the same time and has a 2 and a half minute “flash forward” of their future on a precise date. After everyone wakes up, people try to make sense of what the “future” may hold and what exactly the “future” is. It played better than it sounds…sort of. After rave reviews on the premier, viewership steadily dwindled as the season progressed. Yet many, like myself, held on as the show was still an engaging and intriguing enough to give it my Friday nights and to hopefully find out what actually goes down on that fated day…this is where the news gets really bad:
Be prepared for what is perhaps the biggest and most agonizing cliffhanger in television history. Spoiler alert: the finale ends HALF WAY through the big day. BIGGEST. LET DOWN. EVER. Whether the writers did it in retaliation for being cancelled or just plain old-fashioned laziness spite I do not know—but it sucks a big one. My guess is they were probably relieved they didn’t have to wrap up the premise of THE ENTIRE SHOW. Clearly I’m still incensed about this, but it was a fun watch while it lasted and if you can handle the anger at being cut off, let er’ rip. It is fairly addicting though and at 22 episodes, it might cut into your fall viewership so consider yourself warned.

Awake (13 episodes, available on Hulu)

Perhaps not as engaging as the above mentioned shows, I left this one for last because it does the best job of doing a one season show: great acting, pretty good writing, interesting plot line, and A SOLID, NO CLIFF HANGERS ENDING.
Jason Isaacs does an amazing job as LA Cop who after an accident, can’t tell when he is awake and when he is asleep—experiencing two simultaneous realities where in one his wife is still alive, and in the other, his son. He uses clues from each reality to help him solve crimes in the other and at the same time trying to figure out how his family got in the accident in the first place, which I won’t spoil for you.
I was only slightly sad to see this show cancelled, but not really, because it had a finite premise—I mean, the guy can’t go on forever not knowing if he’s in a real reality or not, especially when he already starts having hallucinations in the first season. It just wasn’t sustainable—luckily the writers saw this and did a good, albeit somewhat silly, job of wrapping up everything nicely.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She lives in a small artsy borough just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and unborn child. She is in the painfully slow process of getting her interior design business off the ground, but also does graphic design, if you're into that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do they see what I see?

It's a rare occasion when I completely disagree with the Project Runway judges. Thursday must have been a blue moon because I found it unbelievable that Elena's creation was a top contender:

A harnessed baby doll dress

While Gunnar's dress nearly sent him home:

The judges' ctiques were puzzling. Nina said, "you've done this very beautifully and it's very elegant, but I've seen this dress before. No such comment was made of Fabio's standard LBD, a garment we've all seen and worn many times.

Michael Kors said, "I think it looks like a dress that they carry at Lord and Taylor already." Remember the challenge was to create a dress that would fit in the Lord and Taylor collection. Michael's statement only affirms that Gunnar nailed it. Kors added, "It's kind of Mother of the Bride." As a bride, how would you feel if your mother wore a mid-thigh length, sheer topped dress? Yeah. Me too. 

Maybe Gunnar's dress wasn't the best. I think Christopher deserved to win with his lovely gown:

But Gunnar certainly did a better job than Alicia, who has met to make anything I've liked:

And is certainly a better person than Ven, the fat man who made a woman feel terrible about herself for not fitting into a model-sized belt:

Gunnar did not deserve to be the final man left on the stage, preparing himself to head to the workroom and pack up his stuff. 

Luckily the judges had enough sense to keep all the contestants one more week, saving Gunnar at the last minute, bless his heart. But I have to wonder, what poor judgments lie ahead? What are these people seeing that I'm not?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Smart is the new Sexy

By Allyson and Jon Hubner

I grew up reading the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot (Shout out to my birthday buddy, Agatha Christie!). While I haven’t written any theses on the subject, I do have certain expectations for any adaptations of my beloved British mysteries- No! No! Bad Guy Ritchie, no more books for you!

Fortunately there are some adaptations that are both entertaining and intelligent, particularly the BBC’s ongoing Sherlock series. Remember Sherlock Holmes, the detective based on a doctor written by a doctor who also did some detective investigations?
Well this Sherlock series is the creation of the writers of Dr. Who, and it’s a 21st century adaptation that’s fast paced, well written, and well acted, while remaining true to the spirit of Conan Doyle’s works.
Take for example our dear Detective Holmes, played excellently by Benedict Cumberbatch (his full name is Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, and yes it’s almost too British). Our new Holmes is just as lank, intelligent, manic and egotistical as his literary counterpart, but he’s also more humorous, fallible and at times even playful. This makes him a more multidimensional, believable and likeable character than his predecessor.

The show allows us to experience the inner logic of a genius by using artfully depicted visualizations of Sherlock’s thought processes. Mind you this is without the constant voiceover of Robert Downey Iron Man that made each Ritchie movies about 30 to 300 minutes longer than they should have been.

We also get to see what it is like to be a genius who can be an ass, forgetting the names of his best friend’s girlfriends, intruding on dates, and robotically analyzing people to the point of tears.

Processing and participating in all of this is Sherlock’s best friend Dr. John Watson, Afghanistan combat-vet turned blogger. This Watson, played by Martin Freeman from the British version of The Office,  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the upcoming Hobbit, is no longer the subservient sidekick but a doctor with bite. This makes him a worthy best friend to the peerlessly intelligent Sherlock. We even get to see Watson do surgery…with a gun.

Then there are the familiar characters of Inspector Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, Mrs. Hudson, Moriarty, and Irene Adler, all of them refreshing in their modernizations. I personally love it when Mrs. Hudson is paranoid that the cops will find her “herbal soothers…they’re just for my hip!”. When not worrying about drug busts or finding human body parts in her refrigerator, Mrs. Hudson is being held hostage by CIA agents- I wonder what she charges for rent.

Currently there are two seasons, with the first season available on Netflix. Each season is three episodes apiece, but a quality 90 minutes apiece making each closer to a movie than a TV show. Each episode is based on the more famous Sherlock Holmes stories, and we can expect that the three more episodes currently in production for fall 2013 will be as well.

Allyson Hamacher lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, Jon, her dog, and multiple projects in varying states of doneness. She is starting a Masters of Science program at Arizona State University, and looks unsettlingly smug in her student ID picture. She and Jon strongly disagree about whether the word "filthy" means "dirty" or "extra dirty." Jon Hubner is a student living in Phoenix, Arizona. He loves to hike and go on drives with his dog, Growlbert Einstein.