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Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Characters in MTV's Awkward

There may be a void in your week where Awkward should have been, since the VMAs replaced it, so here’s a list about it. We’ve graded episodes for so long, what about characters?

Jenna Hamilton
Jenna is written as a bland, relatable everygirl with a voiceover only marginally wiser than Carrie Bradshaw’s. So why does Jenna seem so unique and likeable? Partial credit goes to actress Ashley Rickards. She’s only 20, and that’s good because we hate when fake teens look too old for their roles. Ashley didn’t have to go through a lot of the high school awkwardness because she graduated at 15 and is a member of Mensa. She’s on the board of directors of an organization that helps combat human trafficking and sex slavery. Being so obviously intelligent and socially conscious, Ashley is able to bring some maturity to Jenna while also looking remotely teenaged. (The character may be too mature for 15/16.)

Credit for the positive aspects of Jenna also has to go to the show itself: It’s really trying to present a normal high school existence, rather than the next Gossip Girl or 90210 that we usually see. Another good thing about Jenna is that she’s so real. This girl may have slept with Matty before he committed to her, and she undervalues herself, but she’s open about who she is and doesn’t really try to change it. She’s hella-gorgeous too. We don’t think Jenna would be seen as a freak in real life. The fake suicide attempt was the best possible thing the show could have foisted on this character to make her seem weird. But, really, why would Jenna have been invisible in the first place? She’s nice, smart, and pretty. Maybe it was her lack of confidence, but we don’t think girls like that have much trouble, usually. This is another case of TV taking the idea of a “nerd” and replacing it with a Seth Cohen: someone we’ll all fall in love with.
Character grade: B

Lacey Hamilton
You have to describe Lacey as a shallow, materialistic, immature non-mother, much like Regina George’s mother on Mean Girls. Heck, she even has the fake ta-tas. But Lacey packs more of an emotional punch than Mrs. George, and she’s more believable as a character. She has her sweet moments, and her grief and guilt over writing Jenna that letter really got to us. She’s beautiful and not stupid, but she seems to have passed her low self-esteem down to her daughter…possibly because her own mother made her believe she was nothing. We get the sense that she really cares about her little family and wants to be better, but Lacey still has a lot of growing up to do. We love when she gets protective over Jenna, like when she reamed Ally for giving her drugs.
Character grade: B

Kevin Hamilton
We don’t see enough of Kevin Hamilton, which is a shame because he’s cute. We appreciate that he had Lacey’s back in the last episode, and we really want more details as to why he thought leaving was the best way to handle Lacey’s letter. Did he just think she was this horrible person that he couldn’t be with any longer? Were there other problems we didn’t see? It just doesn’t come together perfectly for us. The best thing about Kevin is his relationship with Jenna. They seem to really get along and he’s the more mature parent of the two older Hamiltons. We need to see more storylines with him though. He needs development.
Character grade: B-

Matty McKibben
This is Jenna’s number-one love interest. He’s popular, super sexy, sweet, in good shape, and well-liked, but he also cares way too much what other people think of him, at least in the first season. He treats women like dogs…or at least he did in the first season. He’s terrible in the sack…once again, in the first season. Ern hated Matty with a passion, but in season two, he’s been a lot better. He started to care about Jenna as a friend and pine for her a little. Now, everyone knows he’s in love with Jenna and he’s not ashamed of it at all. Should we chalk up his bad behavior in season one to youth and decide he’s learned his lesson? Should he get a second chance? Meh, we guess he’s been pretty cool this year. Plus, Jenna is clearly in love with him. Leeard has liked him from the start, and his name has alliteration. At this point, what’s to hate? He’s Jenna’s Mr. Big. Not all good, not all bad. A believably insecure, changing teenage boy.
Character grade: B

Jake Rosati
While Jake started out charming and nice (and Ern was solidly Team Jake in season one), he’s disappointed us this season. Last season, he was a gentleman who made Matty look like a coward. This season, Jake has been a little blah. He’s not as cute, and when he found out about Jenna’s secret, he acted like a jerk. We do like that he’s intelligent and comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t seem to be trying too hard to be popular. We can’t believe he ever dated Lissa. That’s a strike. We hate when guys like stupid girls. His sensitivity and openness paired together seem a little unrealistic for a teenage boy. We like that this is balanced out by some jealousy issues, the only place Jake seems insecure. If he were cuter, he might stand a real chance at beating Matty for Endgame Guy. As it is, we hope Jenna gets a third love interest to distract her from both of the guys, especially if this show is going to have more seasons (and it will have at least one more). This Mr. Perfect exists mostly as a foil for Matty, not as a character in his own right.
Character grade: C+

Tamara Kaplan
This girl annoyed us for a long time prior to this season. Lately, she’s been more likable. Some of her coined words are actually clever, and we like that she is there for Jenna most of the time. We like her a lot better than we like Ming, and she’s one of the funnier, more interesting BFFs on TVs. There’s not much to say about her except that she carries out her role so well that we hardly even need to see Ming.
Character grade: B-

Sadie Saxton
Sadie is the school bully. She says, “You’re welcome” after giving unwanted “constructive” criticism. She struggles with her weight, but she is still popular. She’s kind of an evil tyrant. We loved when she hooked up with Matty and was underwhelmed with his performance. We love that the school fat girl is the bully. It’s a twist on the norm. However, we wouldn’t say that Sadie is fat, even in season one before she lost a ton of weight. We guess she’s fat for TV world, but…come on, that’s not fat. Whatever. This is one of the best, funniest characters on this show. Her catchphrase will be stuck in our heads forever, as will her expert line delivery and hilarious facial expressions. Every insult out of her mouth is pure gold. If our school bullies had been that clever, we wouldn’t have minded them. She's the villain we root for.
Character grade: A+

Valerie Marks
School counselor turned vice principal Val used to be too cartoonish, but now she’s the second funniest character on the show. Val lives vicariously through the teens at the school and wants desperately to be Jenna’s BFF. Good taste, Val, because we wouldn’t want to be friends with any of those other kids. The reason we love Val is she has the best one-liners on the show these days. We like how sad and pathetic she is. She’s an exaggerated version of a lot of teachers. You know the ones: They play favorites, want to relive their glory days, try too hard to be cool, and have the mentality of an actual high schooler. We’ve all had them, and if you were one of their pets, you liked them. If you weren’t, you scoffed at them and rolled your eyes. On TV, it really works.
Character grade: A-

Ming Huang
We’re sick of the Tiger moms, the Asian stereotypes, and the stupid hats. The Asian Mafia was funny in the first episode in which they were introduced, but now it seems like the Ming character exists only to perpetuate that joke. We hardly even see this character, and when we do, she’s largely unnecessary.
Character grade: D+

Jake’s ex-girlfriend is wonderfully dim, which is a safe thing to make your evangelical Christian character. That way they don’t offend anyone. She’s getting at least an average grade just for the time she told Jake that he couldn’t have sex with her, but she would do anal (her “behymen”). One of us choked on her diet coke laughing at that. That’s such an American puritan thing. American girls want to stay virgins, so they do everything else and then insist they haven’t had sex. If sex is only breaking the hymen, and if you want to stay super technical, then gay people haven’t had sex. We loved seeing that mentality mocked here. We also like that Lissa didn’t stay a judgmental harpy and started being nice to Jenna. She’s just a poor ditz. Another stereotype though.
Character grade: C+

Clark Stevenson
This is the gay Christian guy who is friends with Jenna when we see him on the show. Can he replace Ming? Can we see more of him? Gay religious people actually exist and are hardly ever represented in either society or the media. He’s nice to Jenna, and we KNOW she needs a gay best friend to help her navigate her love triangle and family. He’s not super stereotypical either, at least from what we’ve seen. Take him out of the religious retreats and make him a part of Jenna’s day-to-day crowd. Pleeease?
Character grade: B+

This is the guy who stalks Jenna and has recently resurrected his band “Jenna Lives.” While less is sometimes more with these kinds of side characters, if he could have a sort of “Kirk on Gilmore Girls” presence, we wouldn’t mind too much.
Character grade: B-

Aunt Ally
Lacey’s best friend is a nice picture of who Lacey could have turned into if she hadn’t had Jenna and married Kevin. We love how she calls Jenna “lil bitch” and sometimes “flower bitch.” She was laugh-your-ass-off funny in her wedding episode. While we think less is more with this character, she’s been used perfectly so far.
Character grade: B+

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Weeds- Threshold

Andy’s new bride is, predictably, less cool now that she is married. She had Andy meet her roommates and updated her Facebook relationship status before sleeping with him?!! What?! That’s just wrong. She’s only 22, doesn’t want to have kids for “a bajillion years,” and sees a lot of her dad in Andy. Nancy, meanwhile, is lying on top of her Rabbi. They look good together. Nancy sure loves her Jewish guys.

This episode had a boring middle. We didn’t really care about what was happening with Shane and Angela. Doug rhymes with UGH for a reason. The Nancy/Silas business stuff is building to something more than entertaining us presently. We loved the way Nancy handled finding out that the Rabbi’s wife had only been dead for 15 months. We also loved her honesty. We’ve always wanted Andy to get Nancy, but since that’s so on-the-nose, we wouldn’t mind Nancy ending up with the Rabbi. We feel like they aren’t done yet. It’s all over in two weeks!
Episode grade: C+

Breaking Bad Fan Tribute

Breaking Bad in 8 minutes (with a ton left out, but still). Don't watch if you're not fully caught up, unless you just want to watch the second half of the last season and that's it. NOT recommended. This show is gold.


Doctor Who update

Y’all. We are disappointed in this show going into the third season. It’s just not nearly what it’s hyped up to be on tumblr and among awesome nerds everywhere. Sure, we like the Shakespeare references (Sycorax) and even a few of the characters, but the plots and pacing are torture. Now we don’t even have Rose to distract us from the monotony and tedium that piggyback on this show, dragging it down.

This is like the quality equivalent of a soap opera, only it’s for nerds rather than old ladies. We feel like we aren’t allowed to say that, due to the number of cool people who love this show passionately. Let’s just say that we expected a lot more and are still waiting for it to get good enough for us to care.

Does the show get better or change at all? When have we watched enough to decide it’s not for us? We want to give it a fair shot. What do you think? We want to know when you’d say, “Well, if you don’t like it by now, you’ll never like it.” Don’t hate us!!!!!

We did really like The Empty Child and the episode after it though.

If anyone has $5 and is feeling generous....

Help support art that doesn't belong to the big media conglomerates. A nice guy we know is trying to fund his next short film. His other short films are good. If you're too broke, at least share the link? Thanks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Doctor Who- season two, episodes 8-13

The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit
What happened: The Doctor and Rose arrive on a planet that’s orbiting a black hole, which they previously thought was impossible. They are on a base with a crew that wants to drill in the middle of the planet. The crew is served by a race called the Ood. An earthquake causes parts of the base to fall into the planet, and the TARDIS was in one of these parts. The crew refuses to drill for the TARDIS and continue their own project. The Ood start talking about a “Beast” that will rise, and a crew member is soon after possessed by this Beast’s consciousness. The Ood are possessed shortly after that. The Beast is freed. The Doctor goes into a pit on the planet and talks with the Beast. The Beast tells the Doctor that he is the great evil of several religions (he looks just like Satan). His physical form has been sealed inside the planet, but his consciousness escaped. The Doctor causes the Beast and the planet to fall into the black hole, while Rose works to keep other things from being sucked in. The Doctor finds the TARDIS and leaves with Rose.

What we thought: Things started out promising, but then the episodes quickly lost our attention because ONCE AGAIN this story didn’t need to be two parts. We liked the Ood and the black hole. But Satan? Come on. The Doctor didn’t need to find Satan unless they were going to make Satan interesting or actually scary. Nothing about this was dark enough, unique enough, or frightening enough. The Devil in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was way ickier and better. There was so much middle in these episodes, and there may have been too much talking. The possession tried to spice things up, but the crewmember just looked like a reject from the Jim Carey movie The Number 23. We also don’t think Rose and the Doctor needed to be separated so much in this episode. Rose should have done Ida’s job. It’s cool that Rose can be a bad ass when he’s not around though. Too bad this episode pretty much told us she’s going to die or something. That’s not a shock, actually. This season started out so well, but the last couple of episodes have put us to sleep. It’s time to rally, show.
Episode grades: C

Love & Monsters
What happened: A group of nerds, including one named Elton Pope, are obsessed with the Doctor and meet to talk about him. But then an alien comes to lead their group, posing as a man named “Victor Kennedy.” He wants to find and absorb the Doctor, so he has Elton befriend Jackie to get close to Rose/the TARDIS. Elton decides this is a bad idea though and just wants to get closer to geeky group member, Ursula. Victor absorbs most of the group members, and the Doctor shows up just in time to help Elton beat Victor. Ursula has to spend the rest of her days as a piece of tile though. Elton takes her home with him.

What we thought: This was a pretty fun episode, for an hour that didn’t have much of the Doctor or Rose in it. We liked Elton and his musical group, “Linda.” Victor’s true form was nasty, if hilarious. We liked all the weirdness, like Ursula ending up as pavement. This was one of the more entertaining episodes, even if it was a little dumb, and it was fun to see Jackie and Elton almost sleep together. The foreshadowing that Rose might get hurt by the Doctor was seen again. Uh oh… There wasn’t a whole lot of running around in this episode, so the pacing was good. We liked seeing Moaning Myrtle too.
Episode grade: B-

Fear Her
What happened: It’s the 2012 Olympics and the Doctor and Rose are in London. A girl named Chloe causes people to disappear when she draws them, so children have been disappearing. The Doctor realizes Chloe has been possessed by an alien (well, a bunch of them put together) who relates to Chloe’s loneliness. Rose finds the aliens’ pod and powers it so that the children reappear and the alien leaves Chloe. Also, one of Chloe’s drawings of her evil father comes to life, but Chloe’s mother helps get rid of it.

What we thought: Everything at the end of this episode was lame and cheesy. It had okay moments, but it’s our least favorite so far. The idea wasn’t bad, but the execution was boring. We were not amused or inspired or anything by the Doctor grabbing the torch.
Episode grade: D

Army of Ghosts and Doomsday
What happened: The Doctor and Rose find out the London is infested with ghosts. The Doctor is disturbed by this and tracks their origin to Torchwood. The organization’s director, Yvonne, shows the Doctor a big, round ship that has arrived. Turns out, the ghosts are Cybermen coming in from the parallel universe and the sphere is full of Daleks. The Daleks and Cybermen start fighting. And, oh yeah, Mickey is back from the parallel universe, and alt-Peter Tyler came too. The Doctor wants to open the breach and push everyone into the parallel universe, including Rose and her family. Rose doesn’t want to leave the Doctor, but the breach pulls her in anyway. The Doctor manages to say goodbye to Rose. It’s sad. The Doctor returns to his ship to find a confused woman in a wedding dress.

What we thought: Well, Rose didn’t REALLY die, like we thought she would. She’s just officially dead in our universe. Most of what makes this episode sad is her reaction upon being separated from the Doctor. She was pretty hysterical. We’re glad the parallel universe stuff turned out to be important, otherwise the show would have wasted our lives for two hours with that stuff. We are so sad that this wasn’t compressed into one episode though. Think how good it would have been had there not been so much walking around Torchwood and loud shooting scenes. We only want to see lots of fighting if it’s COOL. We can’t have much hate for any episode with so many robots though.
Episode grades: B

Awkward season two, episodes 9-10

Homewrecker Hamilton
Jake texts Jenna a picture of her making out with Matty and writes “cheater” under it. Jenna tries to explain that they were broken up when she kissed Matty, and then she finds out that Sadie told Jake everything. Jake and Matty get in a physical fight during a pep rally. Kevin gets Jenna a car, making her worry that her parents are going to get a divorce and he’s preemptively trying to make it up to her. Ming is cut off by the Asian mafia when Becca finds out that Ming is dating her ex, Fred Wu. This episode wasn’t pleasant to watch most of the time because of all the fighting. Jake was a huge jerk to Jenna and this episode made Ern realize that while Matty treated Jenna badly last season, he might be the sweeter of the two. She’s still Team Jake though. Matty was an awful lay and a bad non-boyfriend. Never re-date a guy who was ashamed of you! The Ming stuff was a stupid distraction from the funny, important Jenna drama. In the end, Jenna releases her blog to the public, forwarding it to everyone. The pep rally scene was the best part. We also liked when Val counseled the boys. They are writing her character better these days. She’s less cartoonish and just funny now, with lots of good one-liners.
Episode grade: B-

Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me
Jake and Matty ask Jenna to choose between them. Thank God they are friends again! We like that they were able to put aside their differences for now. The outright hostility was bumming us out. Jenna’s mom deals with the blowback of the entire community knowing that she wrote the letter. We were glad to find out why she did it. Family patterns is an explanation that actually makes sense. We loved this episode because it got Jenna’s parents back together, and we’re pretty sure Kevin loves Jenna’s mom. It was all really sweet. There are enough real-life adorable couples getting divorces. We don’t need it on our entertainment! We loved the end where Jenna forgave her mother. She’s been punished enough. Even Val shunned her! Anyway, mother/daughter stuff really works on our emotions. Finally, there is peace and the separation subplot is over. We think Jenna needs to pick Jake. Matty is endgame, right? Well, it’s not the end of the show yet, is it? No. There will be a third season of 20 episodes. And a good thing too. This is one of the best things on MTV (that's not saying much though).
Episode grade: A

Awkward is taking a week's hiatus. Look for it on the 13th.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Doctor Who- Season two Christmas special and episodes 1-7

The Christmas Invasion
What happened: Rose and the tenth incarnation of the Doctor go back to Rose’s original time and place. The Doctor collapses and is carried to Jackie’s house by Jackie and Mickey. Rose and Mickey are attacked by Santa Claus robots (because it’s Christmas, we guess). The Doctor wakes up long enough to tell them that he needs to rest and the energy from regenerating brought enemies here looking for him. As it turns out, these baddies are an alien group called the Sycorax, and they want to take over Earth and enslave half of its population. Prime Minister Harriet Jones (last seen the first time we saw the Slitheen) balks at that and goes to the Sycorax ship to negotiate. The Sycorax have demanded surrender, or they will execute 1/3rd of the population. Rose, Mickey, and Jackie hid with the unconscious Doctor on the TARDIS just as the Sycorax transport the TARDIS onto their ship. The Doctor wakes up just in time to save 1/3rd of the population and challenge the leader of the Sycorax to a duel for the planet. The Doctor wins and lets the ship go, but Harriet Jones calls on something called Torchwood to destroy the departing Sycorax. The Doctor views this as murder.

What we thought: Can it be that we miss the old Doctor a little bit? After all the complaining we did? We’re sure this one will grow on us. Mickey is really starting to get on our nerves. He doesn’t want to hear her stories about the Doctor and the TARDIS? He sucks. No, Mickey, she’s never gonna stay. We liked that Harriet made such a bad call and is now something of an enemy. It was interesting. Is her political career over? Torchwood really interests us. We’ve heard hints of it in a few episodes. We’re glad Rose’s angst about how the Doctor has changed was short lived. He’s not THAT different. His ears are much smaller, and for that we should be grateful. The Sycorax aren’t going to make our list of “top ten best Doctor Who baddies,” were we to ever make such a list. The swordfight was a little silly.
Episode grade: B-

New Earth
What happened: The Doctor and Rose go billions of years into the future, after the Earth was destroyed by the Sun. Humans have built a New Earth, much like the last one. There, the Doctor and Rose go to a hospital and Rose faces Lady Cassandra again. She has stripped her back skin and made something of a resurrection. Cassandra possesses Rose’s body and meets up with the Doctor. Together, they find hundreds of humans that were grown by science, only to be infected with diseases to help the medical staff find cures. Thousands die every day. Cassandra releases several of them, but then they all get out and roam the hospitals like zombies. One touch infects people. The Doctor cures them with the help of a disinfecting shower. The Doctor then orders Cassandra out of Rose. Cassandra moves into her slave, Chip, but then his body fails. Cassandra decides to accept death and be grateful for the beautiful years she lived. The Doctor gives her a final gift: He takes her back in time to see herself in her last good days and pay herself a last compliment. The Doctor also converses briefly with the Face of Boe, who has information for the Doctor…later.

What we thought: We love the Doctor’s new trenchcoat. The fashion on this show has greatly improved. Rose’s hair is better this season too. It would be weird to fall in love with someone and have them change bodies and parts of their personality overnight. Of course, we all change eventually, slowly, but that would be confusing so quick. Lady Cassandra!!!! We missed her. When the Doctor and Rose slid down that cable cord, it would have burnt his legs something awful, Time Lord or not. Why were the Doctor and Rose so nice to that treacherous Lady Cassandra? She got nice, wise, and sensible overnight. We guess it was nice…but we didn’t really buy it. How lame and shallow is it that she was so touched by her own damn compliment? Cassandra is fun. We’re sad she’s dead. The acting in this episode was fantastic and really fun because both David Tennant and Billie Piper had to play Lady Cassandra. Billie was especially good. Ern thinks this episode is conclusive proof that cats are the Devil.
Episode grade: B

Tooth and Claw
What happened: The year is 1879, and the location is Scotland. The Doctor and Rose run into Queen Victoria on her way to the Torchwood Estate, which has been taken by a bunch of monks who want the queen to get infected by a werewolf. They provide the werewolf, naturally. The werewolf chases everyone around the estate for most of the hour, but then the Doctor figures out that the estate was designed to defeat werewolves. Victoria is scratched or something by the werewolf, contracting a blood disorder. Even though she’s grateful to the Doctor and Rose for saving her, Queen Victoria doesn’t think she’s classy, so she banishes them. Then she founds the Torchwood Institute to defend the kingdom from otherworldy forces.

What we thought: We love how just anything can show up on this series. Orange-clothed ninjas, androids, zombies, diseased people, and talking strips of skin/trampolines. Anything. There sure is a lot of running around on this show. The Doctor spends a lot of time getting chased. No wonder he’s skinny. The running around dragged this episode down a little. We thought the husband was pretty cute, so it was sad when he got eaten by the werewolf. We’re sure his wife was sadder though, natch. You have to love a cult built around a werewolf. The CGI was, as always, hideous, but we’re starting to find it endearing. Tell us the secrets of Torchwood, show!
Episode grade: B-

School Reunion
What happened: When Mickey sends word of suspicious activity at a local grade school, the Doctor poses as a teacher and Rose works as a lunch lady. They realize that the French fries make students more intelligent and harm the kitchen staff. Mr. Finch, the new headmaster, has replaced the staff and had great success educating the kids. A journalist, who just happens to be a former companion of the Doctor’s, comes to investigate. She still has her robotic dog, K-9. The gang joins with her and find out that the teachers and headmaster are Krillitanes (aliens) seeking to use the children to get full control of time and space. Mr. Finch offers the Doctor a place with them, but he declines and takes all the kids out of the school. K-9 blows the Kirllitanes and the school up. The Doctor offers his old companion a place on the TARDIS, but she turns him down. Mickey, however, asks to join and is accepted. The Doctor gives his old companion a new K-9.

What we thought: We did NOT like seeing an old companion. First of all, we don’t know her, since we aren’t going to watch Doctor Who episodes from decades ago. Not no way, not no how. Second of all, it was sad. It made Rose feel insecure. How could it be satisfying for people who loved the Sarah Jane Smith character and her dog? Seeing her sad that the Doctor left her? It’s just a bummer. She took it all well in the end, but man. Maybe we’ve got it all wrong and it was a great nod to the show’s history and the older fans. The episode plot wasn’t that interesting either. We could have done with more scenes of the Doctor teaching schoolchildren. Also, there was all that running around. This show should be called, “Doctor Who Runs Around While Things Chase Him.”
Episode grade: C+

The Girl in the Fireplace
What happened: The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey land on an old spaceship that has “time windows” where you can peer into and enter a woman’s life. The woman is the gorgeous Madame de Pompadour/Reinette, a French king’s mistress in the 18th century. The Doctor through a time window to meet her when she was a child and saves her from a “clockwork man” hiding under her bed, scanning her brain to see if she is “ready.” The Doctor goes back to his time and figures out that the clockwork men are droids that are stalking Reinette and checking in with her every couple of years to see if she is “complete.” The droids need Reinette’s brain to fix their abandoned spaceship. Reinette falls in love with the Doctor, and he saves her from the droids.

What we thought: We like the TARDIS with three passengers, but we don’t like that it’s Mickey. How many rich, aristocratic black women were there in Paris in the 1700s? There should have been some, but we doubt there were. It’s weird how the Doctor is portrayed as more of a player this season, and we don’t think we’re fans of that, but it was funny when he came out singing “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Poor Rose. That’s two episodes in a row she’s learned this lesson. The Doctor doesn’t have a one-and-only. He’s so old and immortal that many women enter his life, even though he never seems to bone any of them. How does Reinette know what her voice sounds like? It’s not like she’s ever heard a recording and we sound a lot different in our heads than to others. She got to wear the most fantastic dresses. Too bad we can’t dress that way now, or we’d get made fun of. Maybe Reinette was smart and accomplished, but we can only get so choked up about someone’s mistress (not very). It was a VERY creative idea for an episode and there wasn’t as much chasing, so that’s good.
Episode grade: B

Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel
What happened: The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey are sucked out of the time vortex and into a parallel universe. They hang around London, where Rose’s father is still alive, but her parents never had her. All of the people wear little ear pieces, but they are not so much a source of information as an evil plan by a man named John Lumic to turn all the humans into Cybermen. John Lumic ends up dead, of course, his plan thwarted. Mickey decides his place is in the parallel universe, helping to defeat the last remains of this enemy, and that Rose loves the Doctor more than him. Mickey stays. Plus, his gran is alive there. The Doctor and Rose approve. Then they leave.

What we thought: Parallel universes, eh? Because other planets aren’t enough? In this one, Barty Crouch, Jr. meets Barty Crouch, Sr. That’s a nice reunion. We weren’t nuts about this one. It was a two-part one, and we think in order to justify splitting one adventure into two episodes, it has to be a truly remarkable adventure. But hardly anything happened in the first half except set-up, and this wasn’t even our universe, so none of it really mattered. We did NOT need to see Peter Tyler again. His death and last episode was so touching that this couldn’t top it. We liked that Mickey’s alternate name was “Rickey.” Nice. We didn’t like that alternate Jackie was such a rhymes-with-punt. We’re glad to be rid of Mickey forever though. Seriously, he shows up way too much for someone hardly anyone likes.
Episode grades: C

The Idiot’s Lantern
What happened: Year- 1952. Place- London. Event- Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The Doctor meets a teen boy named Tommy who is angry at his dad for locking up his maternal grandmother. She is hidden because she has to face and seems drained of life. Rose traces the condition to a TV set store and meets Mr. Magpie, a man being controlled by an alien presence called “The Wire.” The Wire is using the TVs to eat minds and build a body. The Wire takes Rose’s face and mind, and when the Doctor finds this out, he’s pretty mad. He creates a device that shuts down The Wire’s activities. All the faces and minds are returned. Tommy’s mom kicks his dad out for treating her mother badly.

What we thought: We enjoyed literally nothing about this episode. There was nothing bad about it. It was just forgettable, and there wasn’t anything that made us smile. We almost liked when Rose told Tommy Connolly to go after his dad. We didn’t think the commentary was well done. What was this episode trying to say anyway? That we shouldn’t be watching too much TV? We love when TV SHOWS try to say that. It’s like, “No, you’re the culprit.” Was it about youngsters being allowed to rebel, stand, and be who they are? Was there political stuff here? In the end, we don’t care because this episode overstayed its welcome.
Episode grade: C-

Monday, September 3, 2012

Breaking Bad- Gliding Over All

What Happened: The show really sped things up in the midseason finale. First, Walt has Todd help him get rid of Mike’s body. Mike’s nine guys (and the lawyer) get set to testify and feed Hank information, so Walt uses Todd’s prison connections to have them all killed. First, Walt has to get the names from Lydia, and she offers him an opportunity to export his meth to the Czech Republic. It was a deal she made with Gus Fring before he died, and now Walt is perfectly poised to take advantage of it himself. In a montage, Walt makes tons of meth with Todd and picks up tons of money from Lydia. Skyler misses her kids, and Marie starts to worry that she is enabling the Whites to postpone fixing their marriage. After some nudging from her sister, Skyler talks to Walt.

She takes him to a storage locker and shows him all his money. It’s so much that she lost count of it. It looks like millions. Skyler asks him when it will be enough, and she tells Walt that she wants her life and family back. Walt goes to Jesse’s house and gives him the $5 million, then he goes home and tells Skyler he’s done. The kids come home, and the Schraders come over for lunch in the backyard. Hank goes to the bathroom and picks up a book by the toilet. It was a gift from Gale to “W.W.” Hank remembers going through Gale’s stuff with Walt in season four and joking that W.W. might be Walt. Then we see Hank’s face as he realizes he’s been looking for his brother-in-law all along. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN. And oh yeah, Walt's cancer is probably back.

What We Thought: This episode was speedy and entertaining the whole way through. The killing montage was one of the bloodiest, most gangster things ever seen on this show. Lots of people thought Walt went to Jesse’s house to kill him, but come on. Walt still has some paternal feelings for Jesse. We didn’t think that for a second, and we don’t think Jesse thought that either. He just thought Walt was trouble as a rule. At the beginning of this episode, we thought Jesse was going to somehow die though. He’d had his redemption. What else was there? Maybe the show still has something interesting for Jesse to do.

We noticed a bong when Walt visited Jesse. Walt looked down at it and smiled as Jesse moved it. Dick. Hopefully Jesse is just doing weed and isn’t back on the hard stuff. When the Whites and the Shraders were eating together at the end, we knew the other shoe was going to drop, somehow. We thought Jesse would find out about Brock, Jane, or Mike, but that scene was over. It had to be Hank finding out about Walt. And there it was. We could have died. This is so exciting. Walt deserves it, and that should make the last eight episodes insanely awesome. How are we supposed to wait until next year?
Episode grade: A

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Doctor Who, season one, episodes 11-13

Boom Town
What happened: Margaret/Blon the Slitheen teleported herself before getting blown up in the Slitheen two-parter, and she’s become the Mayor of Cardiff. She plans to blow up the town with a nuclear plant she’s having built in the Gelth rift from episode three. The Doctor parks the TARDIS in the rift to charge it up. Apparently, it can fuel the time machine. Mickey meets up with them right before the Doctor sees Margaret’s picture in the paper. They grab her and take her to the TARDIS, planning to bring her back to her home planet where she will be executed for her crimes. The Doctor takes Margaret to a restaurant for her last meal, and Margaret begs for mercy, explaining that she’s been corrupted from her youth by her criminal family. Margaret is able to mess the rift up and take Rose hostage, but then she gets a look at the heart of the TARDIS, she is transformed into an egg, ready for a fresh start.

What we thought: A Slitheen is back! We weren’t nuts about the last Slitheen episodes, but that was because there were two. This was just one story, so it went a lot quicker. Rose looks great when she runs, doesn’t she? Blon/Margaret is unlikeable, even when she’s at her best behaved, but she’s intelligent. We liked her conversation with the Doctor. We wouldn’t have let her go. Mickey can’t move on. That’s so sad. Jack is growing on us. That’s an awfully valuable, wonderful thing to happen to Blon/Margaret. Getting to live her entire life over again and hopefully make good choices. She didn’t deserve it. Maybe that’s what makes it cool.
Episode grade: C+

Bad Wolf
What Happened: The Doctor gets zapped and teleported to the Big Brother house in the future. Rose ends up on The Weakest Link. Jack is on What Not to Wear. The penalty for losing is disintegration. The Doctor breaks out of the Big Brother house, taking another contestant, Lynda, with him. Jack escapes too, and the three run to save Rose. Rose is disintegrated right as they get there. The Doctor, Jack, and Lynda are arrested, but they escape and find out that Rose and the others weren’t killed, but teleported to a station orbiting the Earth. Rose wakes up- surrounded by the Dalek. They are the ones behind all this.

What we thought: Yay! A reality TV spoof. They did so well with the news a few episodes back, and they did well with this too. It was hilarious that the penalty for losing these shows was death. In real life, it wouldn’t be funny at all, but it’s Doctor Who. So it’s a pretty nice twist. There was great continuity here too. The Doctor seemed to be getting smarter and makes fewer mistakes since the first couple of episodes. We liked that, but then we found out that one whole episode was a huge mistake. Time is touchy. You have to be careful what you change. We liked Lynda. Nothing wrong with sweet. The Doctor’s reaction to Rose’s disintegration worked well. We didn’t believe she was permanently dead for a second. It’s funny that Jack is bisexual. More Daleks. Interesting. It ends on a cliffhanger. Man, this show really loves the two-parters.
Episode grade: B

The Parting of the Ways
What happened: After vowing to save Rose, the Doctor gets to work. He and Jack take the TARDIS into the Dalek ship and meet the Dalek’s “god” who has bred new Dalek from human bits and wants to take over the world. Fun! Jack and a group of humans band together to war against the Dalek while the Doctor takes Rose back home. Rose has trouble going back to normal life and gets pretty hysterical, but she recognizes messages left by herself, for herself. They help her take steps to get the TARDIS working again and go back to the future. She looks into the heart of the TARDIS and gets power. She uses that power to save the Doctor, but almost dies. The Doctor saves her, but he has to die and then immediately come back with a new body. Jack briefly dies, but Rose and the TARDIS power raise him back to life.

What we thought: Aw, this episode title is the same title of an insanely great Harry Potter chapter at the end of book four. Harry Potter was so good, it hurts to think about it. There’s a Harry Potter connection here. The new Doctor is Barty Crouch, Jr…from the fourth movie. Anyway, this episode was pretty good. There was a lot of waiting for the action to start and preparations for battle. We’ve grown to really love the funny Dalek voices. It’s cool how they were brought back. They are more hateful and insane than ever, and it makes sense. Jackie’s reaction to finding out Rose met her father was disappointing, but she was cool in the episode, overall. We’ve grown to like Jackie. We would have been sad to see Jack go, but it would have been a good death, and we appreciate when shows kill characters off. There aren’t consequences to this show sometimes, because everyone just comes back. Rose is so awesome. There was some sweet stuff between her and the Doctor, and we liked the kiss. While we left this season not hating Christopher Eccleston, we will be happy to see him go. We’re glad we got through this season. It was rough there toward the beginning.
Episode grade: B

Breaking Bad Reaction

Doctor Who, season one, episodes 9-10

The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances
What happened: Ooh, this is hard to sum up. It's another two-parter. The Doctor and Rose follow an alien ship or something to London in 1941 during the German Blitz. The Doctor and Rose are separated, and Rose meets Captain Jack Harkness, a con man who can also travel through time and saves Rose’s life. Rose gets quit the little crush on him, but his main intention is to sell them what’s left of the ship that crash landed in the area. Jack and Rose (tee hee) have a date. The Doctor finds a woman named Nancy who cares for and feeds orphans. He also sees a child wearing a gas mask who keeps asking, “Are you my mummy?” But the Doctor is warned by Nancy not to touch him, because that would make the Doctor “empty,” like the child. The child has touched many people.

Nancy sends the Doctor to Albion Hospital where he finds Doctor Constantine, who tells the Doctor that the child is Nancy’s little brother, Jamie, who died after bombings. Jack and Rose go to the hospital as well, and all of the patients wake up (with their scary gas masks) and start walking toward the Doctor, Rose, and Jack. Doctor Constantine has touched the victims, so he is turned as well. Meanwhile, Jamie is walking toward Nancy, arm outstretched. The Doctor yells at them all to go to their rooms, and they back off. Then they all run around the hospital from the gas maskers for a while. We find out that Jack used to be a Time Agent, but he had two years erased from his memory. Nancy goes to check out the alien wreckage that’s being guarded by British soldiers, but she’s caught and arrested. Doctor, Rose, and Jack come and free her.

They find the space thingy. Two things: 1) It’s an ambulance and it heals people with things called Nanogenes, 2) It tried to heal Jamie after Jamie was blown up, because Jack sparked it, but instead it turned Jamie into the first Gas Masker, and 3) the Gas Maskers will tear the world apart looking for Jamie’s “mummy.” The Doctor deduces that Nancy is Jamie’s real mother, hiding it because she didn’t want to be a single mom in the 40s. The Doctor tells Nancy to come clean with zombie, empty, half-healed Jamie. She does and the Nanogenes fully heal him…and everyone else infected. Then Jack sacrifices himself to get a bomb into space and out of London, but the Doctor and Rose invite him onto the TARDIS, saving him. Also, the Doctor dances.

What we thought: Even though this show retains its humor and the Doctor is still happy all the time, the camp has been replaced by genuine creepiness. We’re so happy about this. Nancy was remarkably awesome. We loved when she made fun of the size of the Doctor’s ears and nose. Jack wasn’t our type. He was like a mix of Harry Connick, Jr. and Tom Cruise, looks-wise. He’s better looking than the Doctor though. Gas masks are inherently frightening. Why didn’t the Doctor KEEP yelling at the nasties and tell them to go to bed? They just started running from them.

We’re starting to think the Doctor’s crush on Rose is cute. Rose seems a lot older than 19. It was so sweet when she told Nancy the Germans don’t win. It was also sweet when cute Jamie was okay. “Come on. Give me a day like this.”This show did the thing again where it touches us in the feels. (Damn you tumblr, for making us think and talk like that.) We laughed at the lady whose leg grew back. We thought Jack was really going to die. He would have gone out well. We don’t know that we like him as a new companion, but we’re going to trust the show. Love triangle? Best episodes so far.
Grades for both episodes: B

Mirror Mirror

Good if you want a kid's movie. Just okay if you're an adult. Could have been funnier. Julia Roberts's accent was hideous. It came and went.
Movie grade: C+

Mainstream music released near or on the week of August 28, 2012

Eye On It by Toby Mac. Genre: Christian
We weren’t digging the single, “Me Without You.” As it turns out, that was the best song on the album. We hate when Christian artists just copy the popular stuff of today, and this happens here a lot. Toby is jumping on the electronic bandwagon, and sometimes he sounds a little like Owl City. We thought “Forgiveness” would be better, since we like Lecrae. “Unstoppable” is just annoying. Despite our tepid response to the album’s sound, we will say that we like Toby’s lyrics, for the most part. They are sweet and inoffensive. There WAS a song about how much he needed an Apple computer. That didn’t even work for a fun or humorous song. Product placement? Who knows. We also like a lot of his older stuff and, of course, DC Talk, but he’s not as good here. The album comes with a ton of remixes. We usually hate remixes, so we didn’t even listen to them. The best songs are “Speak Life” and “Favorite Song.” Really, we wish Toby would grow up a little. He’s 40. And white. You can only copy Top 40 for so long.
Album grade: D+

Welcome to Our House by Slaughterhouse. Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap.
We’re newcomers to this group, but it has a lot of good names on the album. They sang a lot about how hood they are and one of the songs, “Coffin,” is like a gang anthem, glorifying guns and violence. No, we are not your grandma, we just think there’s too much of that in rap. There really is a gang problem in this country. Is this their audience? But then we got into the meat of the album, and damn was it good. This is hip-hop/rap, you guys. Very enjoyable and well-produced. It’s not overproduced, and it has a good mix of guest stars. We were surprised. We were fully prepared to hate this, since it’s by far not our favorite genre. When the price comes down on amazon, we’re buying it. We hear their first tracks were even better, so we look forward to checking those out. We especially liked “Throw That,” “Get Up,” “Hammer Dance,”  “My Life,” “Flip a Bird,” “Goodbye,” “Die,” “The Other Side,” and “Place to Be.”
Album grade: A

Havoc and Bright Lights by Alanis Morissette. Genre: Pop.
We didn’t like her last album, but this one is better. It’s obvious that she’s a happy new mom. It proves that she can do happy and sweet almost as well as she can do the angry stuff. Because feminists just aren’t rabid man haters. They can love being mothers and wives too. These songs are catchy and should please most interested listeners. She’s talented and really can’t make anything awful. The whole thing is nice.
Album grade: A-

Violent Waves by Circa Survive. Genre: Alternative
We’ve never heard them either. We didn’t like the lead singer’s voice. It went from buttrock to whiny, depending on whatever that sort of change would depend on. The whole thing just wasn’t our taste.
Album grade: C

Beautiful Surprise by Tamia. Genre: R&B/Soul
This would be good for people who really love Leona Lewis. Tamia has a good voice. It’s not high like Leona’s, but it’s clear and enjoyable. She needs better songs. There was nothing there that we wanted to hear again, and nothing that moves music forward at all. In the time of ADELE, the bar is set higher. It’s an average collection of love songs sung by an above-average vocalist.
Album grade: C+

Greater Than One by Dwele. Genre: R&B/Soul
What struck us about this album was that it felt so relaxed. This guy seems comfortable in his own skin and music. The songs are laid-back and mature. It’s all very pleasant, but not anything we feel like we have to buy or show people. It would be good background music for when you are just chilling. If you love this genre, you could do a lot worse.
Album grade: B-

Looking 4 Myself by Usher. Genre: R&B/Soul
Okay, points off for the “4.” Do we have to speak and write like 14-year-olds text? Usher is 33. Usher has been around and on the radio for so long, you know whether you like him or not. There’s nothing on this album that tops “Yeah” or “Let It Burn,” but these new songs are okay. Nothing special. We like that only a few of the songs are club songs with the heavy, throbbing, computerized beats. There are actual songs on this album. He’s not chasing the trends of today further than a few singles. He knows that the people who buy his whole album want to hear him sing and want to hear some depth.
Album grade: B

Infinity Overhead by Minus the Bear. Genre: Alternative.
Musically, it wasn’t bad at all, but we didn’t like the vocals. Something about them rubbed us the wrong way. We wish they would collaborate with a different vocalist because we loved everything that was going on with the background music.
Album grade: C+

Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson. Genre: Christian and Gospel
Andrew Peterson makes good Christian music usually. He’s not like the rest of those hacks on your regular Christian radio station. No offense meant, but most of it sucks major ass. Andrew’s words are great and his background music is good. Ben Shive worked on this too, and he’s also a major talent, both as a producer and artist/lyricist in his own right. This album was thoughtful and musically better than most Christian music. Mostly though, this is good because of the lyrics. Thoughtful, non-fundamentalist, not heavy-handed, and deep. 
Album grade: B+

My Stadium Electric by Erin McCarley. Genre: Pop
This is the album we were most excited for this week. We love her voice and a lot of the stuff on her last album. This album was different. The songs were a little more indie/alternative and less pretty pop. We look forward to seeing this stuff on Grey’s Anatomy because that’s obviously what it’s for. In the end, we were bored with it. It’s not bad, but we don’t want it.
Album grade: C