Thursday, December 30, 2010

The non -Event of the year!

Well people, its new years eve (AKA When Harry Met Sally day) and 40 degrees here in Melbourne! For a second year it looks like we will be bringing in a new year with a cool change (fingers crossed it comes before midnight!). It's a time for resolutions and new beginnings.....but before we get there, a little look back to the last couple of months in TV.

It has been a busy few months for me. Work events, social events, birthdays ......and The Event. With the decline of Lost, the cancellation of FlashForward and the simple disappearance of Heroes, The Event looked like a choice pick of intriguing getaway TV to look forward to each week.

It started with only a little bit of hype of Channel 7 at a good solid time slot, 8.30pm, Monday night. The cast was solid - Laura Innes (ER), Blair Underwood (LA Law, Dirty Sexy Money), Željko Ivanek (Damages, True Blood) and Scott Patterson (Gilmour Girls) plus some up and comers, such as Jason Ritter (son of the late John Ritter). There was the hint of aliens....hmmm, I've never been such a big alien lover since Scully was abducted in The X-Files, but I can be open minded.

So the first episode was good. Young couple go on holiday. Meet slightly odd other couple. Girlfriend disappears and everyone denies that she ever existed and that they were ever on holiday! Switch to family of said girlfriend being attacked, father kidnapped and forced to fly airplane into president. Switch to President discovering that there is a secret compound in Alaska where many human like aliens have been living since the 1940s and he decides to let them out. Its one of those flash back type arrangements, jumping back and forth all over the place. You need to concentrate.

Second episode.....more of the same really with some progression. Airplane didn't crash into the president thanks to some alien intervention which meant it ended up in the desert somewhere completely different. All those on board were dead.....but possibly alive too?? Girlfriend is being held by the people who wanted her father to fly a plane into the president. Boyfriend now suspected of murder......and so on and so forth. You get the picture, drift and the gist. Its mysterious, it's got twists and if we are lucky the writers have already thought of an end.

I was with it. I was in. I was getting invested. And then......

......Channel 7 bumped it to 10.30pm replacing it with repeats of Criminal Minds and I was out. That is the official sign of impending death for all shows on commercial TV. The next step was to give it a new night, then it would be switched to a random digital channel (7Mate??) and then it would disappear altogether......much like one of its characters. I canceled my IQ. I avoided the disappointment that would be to follow. I let it go while I still could.

Luckily there were other things to keep me interested. Season 3 of True Blood was a corker, the show just keeps getting better and better as time goes on. The second season of Stargate Universe has taken us long with the crew of Destiny well. And the return of some old favorites - Gossip Girl, House and Criminal Minds - brought some new surprises and a blanket of security in TV form.

And so we look to next year and what will it bring? Will Meredith survive in Grey's? Will Sookie forgive Bill? Will I ever get to see the rest of Flashforward. My predictions - yes, yes and possibly not!

Happy new year.......see you on the other side. :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Was it my so called life?

I think I had good teenage years.

I remember dying my hair red, getting into all sorts of crazy scrapes, all the partying and that boy. That beautiful boy. With floppy hair and dreamy eyes.

The angst. The confusion. It was rad. It was cool. It was memorable.

Weeellllllll, actually that wasn't so much my teenage years. I would have liked it to be - I mean there was hair dying (not mine - my friend Jo and her sister and I'm still in trouble with their mother I think), there were crazy friends and scrapes (the above mentioned partying and at least one other parent who possibly hasn't forgiven me) and there were some boys (not sure if beautiful would really be the word though) - but then that isn't my teen years described above, but that of Angela Chase (Claire Danes in her debut role).

My So Called Life was the show to define a generation of teens in the 90s. It centered around Chase, a 15 year old normal mid-American teen and her transition into adulthood dealing with changes in interests, friends, family and herself. It has an dynamic mix of characters - her A type mother, her emasculated father, the oversexed best friend, the gay other best friend, the childhood best friend now cast off and odd boy over the road. And most importantly, the new love interest - the divine Jordan Catalano (played by an unknown, Jared Leto, pre-emo makeover), who took wistful gazing into space to a new level and made it seen sexy and vulnerable and not just vague.

For the teenage me it was a revelation in programming. A teen focused show that had a deep level of realism, mainly driven by the fact that it didn't deal in happy endings or neat resolutions. Unlike the Gossip Girls or Glees of today, MSCL characters weren't those you wanted to be like, you were actually them. The story lines weren't exciting and alluring, but more like day to day - unrequited love, parental disapproval and just wanting to be treated like a grown up and not a child. And just to clarify, they may not have been aspirational, but didn't mean that they seemed more exciting than my own.

MSCL is a gem in the television hall of fame, much helped by it being a one series show. Due to poor ratings (which has always amazed me) and the fact that Claire Danes didn't want to do a second season (hmmm and if running off with Billy Crudup wasn't bad enough!) it wasn't renewed. It will never get old, dull or attempt to jump the shark. It's just liked an unopened 1970s Star Wars figurine - undamaged and retained its value. Sometimes (but only very rarely) being cancelled can be a good thing.

MSCL is now 15 years old. I recently bought the DVD and am re-watching for the fist time as an adult. For something I last watched over a decade ago, I can't believe how much I (a) remember and (b) still enjoy. It hasn't really aged, the story lines are still relevant (although I'm not a teenager, so maybe they aren't!) and they acting is still skillful and subtle. The only thing that has altered is the parents. They have changed from being the enemy to being unfairly maligned and very sympathetic. While Angela's mother, Patti is still controlling and critical, its now so apparent that is it driven from love and the desire to protect her daughter. She, and her husband Graham, are also attempting to deal with the reality that her little girl has grown up and changed. Angela doesn't want their comfort, and doesn't want to confide in them at all. There's a real undertone of sorrow at the dinner table and discomfort with the kitchen.

Just by coincidence I've been downloading by late 1990s CD collection onto iTunes. Ahh nostalgia. It brought it all back and I'm glad that is where is going to stay! Being a teenager was great, but better left where it was!

Later dudes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The end of the season (finally!)

This has been a momentous week. My little one turned 1 (my god, where did that year go!) and no one won the AFL Grand Final. WTF?????

Yes, it was a draw and while for many Collingwood and St Kilda fans that meant their dreams were still alive, for the rest of us that it means ANOTHER week of boring football shows. Really, how many people are being employed to just talk about football? If they pulled half the shows off the air, the national unemployment figures will go up a percent. Really, it's true!!

Much to the relief of many people out there the Grand Final was replayed and Collingwood won (go pies!) and the season is finally over. YAY!! So onto the real tv.....

I've been having a bit of a 30 Rock revival week and, boy, its been pulling me through. It's been a crazy work week and a bit of old Lemon and Donoghy was the only thing pulling me through! There is something a little disturbing about my admiration of Liz Lemon. Such dysfunction. Yet so cool. (And she is a fellow lover of television!).

In my desperation to get an even better Lemon fix I went and got season 3 on the weekend. Now I have to admit it does begin to loose a little something here but there are still some moments of comedy. The Oprah episode. The high school reunion. The retreat to move forward. G-O-L-D!

On the flip side, something that is generally not funny but is having a roaring 3rd series is a favourite of mine, True Blood. I have spoken much about this before so I won't go on, but OMG Eric, Bill and Alcide (werewolfs now apparently). Another level has been reached.

So onto this week's main feature and my new love, Spirited (W, 7.30pm Wednesday). It has this amazing combination of things that to me say 'stay away' - its a Foxtel production (eek!), post Secret Life of Us Claudia Karvan and there's a ghost - but all together they work. They work so well it makes me slightly emotional.

Let me bring you up to speed. Suzie Darling (Karvan) is an anally retentive dentist who decides to leave her cheating chauvinist husband Steve (Rodger Corser) during a dinner party. She and their children, Elvis and Verity, move into a luxurious apartment in the building above her practice which used to be a hotel. As it turns out they are not alone. The hotel is haunted by the ghost of a British 1980's punk rocker called Henry Mallett (Matt King) who can't remember how he died and only Susie can see. The story has the dual focus of Susie trying to build her life while everyone around her thinks she is going slightly mad, while Henry tries to remember what happened to his. It combines a sublime mix of comedy, drama and incredibly touching moments, in particular those where Henry is slowly reconnecting with his past and in doing so realises what and who he has lost. TV magic!

Now, I have to apologise cosmically about this one. I was prepared to hate it. I was prepared to say 'geez Claudia Karvan has lost it'. I prejudged. I thought I knew it all. I did not. And for that I am sorry.

It has beautiful writing (on and I realised it is in part written by one of be most loved TV writers Marieke Hardy), fantastic acting and the spot on period punk tracks are fantastic.

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. While I hate the ending of a good series too soon, I also think it is important to know when to call it a day. Will it be a one good series show, or will there be a cliff hanger to take us to the other side (so to speak).

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And now for something different......

As it turns out I'm not too good at the whole blogging thing. I think I confused it with crafting a coherent overview of my thoughts on TV rather than simply an outlet for my TV related frustration. So I'm having a TV terms I'm replacing the star of a new sitcom with someone funny (but I can't guarantee I'm going to be funny).'s the TV week of my house:

The boys have watched about 40 hours of Playschool and Wiggles. OMG. Now I really like them both as children's TV but really do I have to watch too and slowly star to care. The big questions being asked in our house now are - does Alex Papps' ability to play the pantomime dame suggest anything about his sexual orientation (I think not but others beg to differ) and how much has the blue Wiggle changed in the last 12 years??

The LSOH's TV watching can be summed up in two words - sport and news. Its on when I get up and when I go to bed. Occasionally there are some mega structures and some American Chopper. But not much.

I on the other hand have been striving to get to the end of BSG series 3 and it was all I ever imagined it to be, and more! Shame I spoiled it already - DAMN YOU WIKIPEDIA!!!!!! Now I just have to get hold of S4.....

The joy of True Blood S3 continues. The question remains though - is there anyone apart from Sookie who would pick Bill over Eric??

I've just dipped into another episode of Flashforward, but I can feel the appeal waning as it feels more and more like a second rate Lost. Such potential, such a disappointment.

Well in the US its Autumn preview season so lots to look forward to shortly now things are being fast tracked.....YAY!

Better go but here's a show idea to leave you with: A child TV star grows up to be either school teacher. It could be called Acting Out. Hmmm, now its on paper it looks lame. Well better think of something better for next week.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guilty pleasures or secret shame? (part 2)

Vampires are everywhere at the moment. They are in with Gen X, Gen Y, what ever the current generation is called and probably the odd baby boomer, mainly thanks to Edward Cullen and the Twilight Saga.

My vampire love is not new. It was initiated in the early 90s when I first saw The Lost Boys – Keifer, Jason and both the Corey’s would make any legendary killers alluring. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the usual blood letting cultural offerings – Buffy, Blade, Underworld, even the very odd Coppola interpretation of Bram Stokers Dracula – but not until Twilight did Vampires hold such sex appeal. The books and the movies made me feel like a lovesick teenager again – which was both good and a little scary! And now vampires are every where. The whole young adult section in any book store is filled with Twilight clones and there are now several offerings to view on the TV and at the movies.

Firstly, a note about True Blood, a fantastic, critically acclaimed and very clever offering from HBO (who else?). In the world of True Blood Vampires have come ‘out of the coffin’, drink synthetic blood and ‘live’ openly. The show focuses on telepathic waitress Sooki Stackhouse (Oscar winner Anna Paquin)and her love for civil war era vampire, Bill Compton (English actor Stephen Moyer), set in the steamy Louisiana town on Bon Temps, full of Southern charm and the ghosts of segregation that haunt the vampire community’s attempt to get equal rights. The characters have depth and the plots and sub plots are engaging and compulsive. I have to stop myself from watching too many episodes too soon so that I would have something to look forward to.

But I digress….

The Vampire Diaries, like True Blood and Twilight, is based on a series of books written in the early 1990s by LJ Smith. Set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, the series’ focus is the relationship between the orphaned human, Elena (Nina Dobrev) and 150 year old ‘good’ vampire Stefan (Paul Wesley) who has , much like the protagonists in Twlight, to abstain from human blood. Add in Stefan’s devious (but possibly misunderstood) brother Damon (Ian Sommerhalder), novice witch Bonnie and some pitchfork wielding towns people and you have a winning mixture of forbidden love, secrets, intrigue and the type of bad boys that all girls love.

On one level it is fabulous. I downloaded one episode to see what it was like and couldn’t stop myself downloading the rest! I loved brooding and tortured Stefan, the ever so slightly camp but very hot Damon, all the bitchy girls and even Elena, who was not as pathetic as she could have been. The mid season break left me hanging for more and dying to know what was going to happen, checking iTunes daily for new episodes.

However, on another level it is Dawson Creek with vampires, all teenage angst, emotive soundtrack and very little witty repartee. I like to think I normally look for something with more depth, intelligent writing and certainly no dear diary voiceovers (yes its true, teens and even the vampires diarise – it’s a big thing in Mystic Falls!). Watching it makes me feel even more shamed than reading Twilight, but at least with Twilight I have strength in numbers and it really is a cultural phenomena. I’m not sure I can claim the same justification.

Interestingly, I was spot on with my Dawsons Creek reference as its creator Kevin Williamson is one of Vampire Diaries’ producers.

Well what do you think? Can my Gilmour Girls and Vampire Diaries diversions be considered just that, diversions from an otherwise quality viewing life?? Maybe that question will be answered in time.

But for now, I have to get back to some viewing so I have something to write about.

Happy viewing.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guilty pleasures or secret shame? (part 1)

How many guilty pleasures are too many? Where is the line between guilty pleasure and the secret shame that means your TV taste isn’t quite as cool as you wish it was?

I think I’m coming to the conclusion that this may be the case for me. This week I have recorded episodes of the Gilmore Girls that I have seen already just so I don’t loose the plot (although clearly I have already) and gone from watching a couple of episodes of The Vampire Diaries, just to see how it compares to the many other vampire shows on at the moment, to downloading the rest of the series and watching it all. Now, does that sounds like an aberration in an otherwise worthy viewing schedule or just time to admit I have a problem?

Maybe I should elaborate first to let you decide:

Before January 2008, I had seen about 10 minutes of one Gilmour Girls episode and felt comfortable dismissing the show as girly fluff, only to be shown before 8.30pm so no fans were up past their bedtime. Skip forward, I am the size of a elephant, it’s about 35 degrees out and we are having our floors polished so I’m confined to the unrenovated section of the house with just a computer and a television for company. There are only so many times I can check my e-mail and update by Facebook status, so I settle down for some TV time. There were few options so an episode of the Gilmore Girls to waste an hour worked for me. Just one can’t hurt eh? The episode I watched was in the middle of the first series and not very intriguing. Nothing to worry about.

Roll on a few months – no. 1 has been born and I am now chained to the couch for several hours a day while he feeds and falls asleep in my arms – my TV watching has escalated tremendously. Again, I stumble across the Gilmore Girls which seems again to be the only option and decide I’ll watch just the one episode just to kill an hour. As it turns out it’s actually the first episode (fate perhaps?) – so I can see how it all began (so many questions answered) but still its just not my thing. 24 hours later and I find myself again feeding and stuck with only the Girls to watch and so on and so forth and you can imagine what happened. I am hooked. I have to see what happens next again and again– will Lorelei and Luke ever get it together, will Rory choose Jess or Dean and will Michel ever come out!?!

And now 2 years and another baby on, I’m still at it. Every morning I try NOT to miss it and I’ve already seen all these episodes!!! What happened to me? Do I need some therapy or for the plug to be taken off the TV. I admit I have a problem – that’s the first step to recovering isn’t it? But do I want to recover?

I have thought about this long and hard, and I have a theory. I like the Gilmours on two levels: firstly, I identify with Lorelei, the sassy yummy Mummy who has a dubious relationship with her overbearing and controlling mother and has thrown off the shackles of parental oppression to make her way in the world and raised her daughter to be fast talking, witty and like good music/movies/books. On the other hand I also identify with young Rory, a reserved, hardworking and ambitious girl with fabulous hair – the sort of girl I would have liked to be when I was a teen and the model for the way I would like my children to grow up (boy versions of course).

Did I convince anyone that this isn’t crazy, but in fact a completely normal and rational action for a grown woman? My LSOH doesn’t agree, although over time has absorbed enough of the plot subliminally to ask questions when ever it’s on (oh is she going out with him now? Didn’t they break up? Oh my god wasn’t that guy in Skid Row??)

So, guilty pleasure or secret shame? Well lets see how it pans out with the Vampire Diaries ...

Happy viewing - till next time.