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Friday, November 2, 2012

Two weeks of Modern Family, Parks and Rec, and newcomer Mockingbird Lane

By Rubenstein (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Modern Family- Open House of Horrors and Yard Sale
Last year, Modern Family didn't have a Halloween episode. We are of the opinion that every TV show, dramas included, should have a Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas episode. Maybe even a New Years one too. Who can forget the Friends episode where Ross and Monica did The Routine? There's golden stuff there. This Modern Family episode had the most enjoyable Claire material in weeks. THis episode made us wish the show was just about her, Phil, Alex, Luke, and Haley. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows that we are LGBT friendly and not racist, so it's not because of those things that we say the "traditional" family's plots and jokes are just more enjoyable. They are funnier.

Manny is pretty funny too. We wish the show was just that family and Manny was the next door neighbor friend of Luke's. Of course, Gloria chasing the kids was pretty amusing (YOU PUT EGG ON MY HOUSE, I KILL WHAT YOU LOVE), as was Jay's attempt to talk his way out of a ticket. We also thought Lily was more tolerable last week. Last night, the funniest thing was Alex's gay boyfriend. Gloria having (and marrying) a puppet was the runner up. There are still jokes in this show, but they aren't to be found in Cam and Mitchell's bickering, Claire being uptight, or Gloria mispronouncing words. As long as the show stays away from those things, we'll like it.
Episode grades: A- and B-

Parks and Recreation- Halloween Surprise
We should have waited for the director's cut to watch this episode, but we didn't, and it wasn't good enough to watch the whole thing again for four minutes. Still, it was good. We are SO SO glad that April and Ben are done in D.C. and now Leslie and Ben are engaged. That needed to happen for the sake of this season. We didn't think the proposal scene was that great, although it was surprising. It didn't beat Jim and Pam's wordless engagement scene on The Office. Still, it was sweet. The Ron Swanson plot wasn't as funny as it could have been, but we liked when Leslie tried to auction Ann off. She needed to track down that hottie who was bidding. Jerry having a heart attack wasn't that funny, but we're glad that Tom seems to finally have a good business idea. There was no new episode last night.
Episode grade: B+

Mockingbird Lane was a B, but you guys know there's only one episode of that show and it hasn't been picked up, right? That's why the network just wanted to burn it off for Halloween. Still, not bad. Pretty funny. We don't think it would be something we'd want to watch much more of though.

Yesterday's, Today (Supernatural, Arrow, Nashville, American Horror Story )

By Ewen Roberts from San Diego, CA, United States [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Supernatural- Blood Brother
If we were to describe the contents of this episode to you -- Benny's backstory, Dean creatively killing vampires, flashback to Castiel, Dean ditching Sammy for the case-of-the-week, Sam finding out about Benny, Dean being an awesome friend, betrayal, and allusions to Hemingway -- you might be fooled into thinking this was a good week. Not so. Aside from the completely unoriginal episode title, this episode was extremely boring, especially in the first half. It took Benny way to long to tell Dean his story in the car. By the time they got to Benny's maker's house, the episode was more than 20 minutes in. That's right, a phone call and a drive took that long. At least the look on Sam's face right before the credits was hilarious.
Episode grade: C

Arrow- An Innocent Man
Finally, we have an episode that was as fun as the pilot. The last two episodes had us bored and worried, but this one was serviceable entertainment, mostly thanks to its surprising ending. What an idiot! He needs to change BEFORE he goes on illegal killing sprees. Duh. We like Laurel's cop dad. We're starting to root for him. The truth is, in this show, Oliver doesn't seem that necessary. We don't get the sense that the police are incompetent or corrupt, like in Gotham. They've already caught Arrow, right? They can't be that bad, and Detective Lance doesn't seem corrupt. He keeps making us with the next book of The Dresden Files was out already...

We cringe whenever this show deals with legal matters. Having Laurel be an attorney was a poor choice for a show that already walks the line between believable and ridiculous. That judge would have stayed the execution with evidence like that. We finally realized where we'd seen Oliver's sister before. She's Agnes from Gossip Girl, the model who burned Jenny's dress collection. She's so pretty. Those cheekbones. We watch her and then fondle our own cheekbones (okay, fat cheeks) in the mirror, cursing the Lord (not really, we love him). We also saw a familiar face from Doctor Who.
Episode grade: B

Nashville- We Live in Two Different Worlds
Gunnar and Scarlett's music is so impressive that Ern, the blogger who doesn't like country music, has downloaded two of their songs. Rayna and Juliette's songs suck a bag of d***s though. This week was heavy on the drama, but at least it split Rayna and Deacon up for good. Our main complaint with this show right now is that there's no tension for the viewer and little direction. Where are we going with this? What are the stakes? Peggy and Teddy are either boning or involved in bad business together. We hope it has to do with his financial troubles because an affair would be an easy out for Rayna, and the show needs to conflict. We're having trouble tolerating Scarlett's speaking voice. She just seems like such a doormat, wet-blanket, girly-girl, twit. Nut up and dump Avery. He's a douche.
Episode grade: B

American Horror Story- Nor'easter
So, that ending ruined our lives. Ern is rarely scared by entertainment and can count the times fiction scared her on Mickey Mouse's hand. However, Ern must admit that mutilation is a good way to at least disturb. That was horrifying. Still, we've been desensitized by previous mutilation on the screen (The Last King of Scotland). Poor, poor Shelly. We blame that demon in Sister Eunice. Dr. Arden is the most messed-up person in the whole joint, bar none. Talk about Madonna/Whore issues. Talk about issues with women. What we wouldn't give to have a flashback where we meet his mother. Kit, Grace, and Lana should have kept running past the nasties. Sure, there was a storm, but Briarcliff is hell. We'd take hurricane Sandy over that place.
Episode grade: A-

The Vampire Diaries- The Five

Okay, so we're not nuts about how repetitive this show is getting. We feel like we've seen these plots before. We need gamechangers. Maybe for a few characters to leave Mystic Falls again. Maybe a major death or pairings shakeup. Maybe a better new villain. Hopefully this professor can serve that purpose... We don't need him teaching Bonnie to do more magic though. Bonnie can already do pretty much everything. Plus, all the magic gives the show an easy out. The show needs to nix the witches so people have to live with the consequences of death and other things.

We kind of figured that somehow Elena would get cured. Now it's a certainly. Oh, how dull. If the show wants to win back our respect, it will make Damon or someone surprising back into a human and keep Elena as a vampire. Of course the season is going to be spent looking for a magical object, just like past seasons have spent time looking for weapons. The show needs to stop making Rebekah pathetic. The show needs to stop it with the Super Compassionate Elena Commentary On Why She's Jesus. She realized that she didn't want to be like Damon in the span of one episode, and that's a problem. She just wants to cry on Stefan's shoulder.

We thought Elena turning into a vampire might make her bad ass, but we guess you can't be a sweet, likable heroine and still take care of yourself/rip off heads, right? The show needs to bring back the emotions. We didn't feel anything this week. We didn't like judge-y Bonnie ruining Elena's fun at the party, but we did like Elena choosing to feed on Roofie Boy. Vampire vigilante? Yes, please. That would be a great place to take the Elena character. We bet it was just for this week though, and she'll just keep mooning over the brothers.

If we were Bonnie, we would've been more concerned that no vampire ever seems able to wipe their mouths after a feeding on this show. You have sleeves, guys. So, Caroline is a genius and "too good" at self-control. We're glad that someone on the show finally mentioned that she should teach Elena. But because wisdom wouldn't interesting to watch, Elena shoots Stefan's idea down. Ugh. Klaus was annoying this week, and we usually like him. At least he'll be in Italy looking for a sword for a while, right? We miss Katherine. And Elijah. We know we saw him in a flashback, but it was all too brief and we want to see him in the present. And where was Caroline this week?

This is one of our favorite shows, and it was unbelievably good for 2.5 years. You're better than this, TVD!!!!
Episode grade: C+

Breaking Swift parody

For caught-up Breaking Bad fans (the only kind of Breaking Bad fans there should be, by the way).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Three Halloween comedies (Mindy, New Girl, Happy Endings), and no Parenthood

The Mindy Project- Halloween
We're still waiting for this show to get good. We give dramas five episodes, but we try to give new comedies longer. That's because comedies take a while to find their best tone most of the time. Examples include Sex and the City, Parks and Recreation, and Awkward. You judge comedies most fairly around episodes 7-10. We like that this episode brought back Josh, but he wasn't that memorable, so it took us a while to place him. We'll remember him now. We can't believe he hasn't seen The Princess Bride. What a reject. Our favorite thing about this episode was the DMV plotline. It's hard to pull of a good molestation joke, but last night did it. This wasn't the worst episode so far. But the show needs to flesh out its supporting characters and tone in the next couple of weeks.
Episode grade: B-

New Girl- Halloween
Jess punching Nick as payback is an example of something that works perfectly on TV, but would never happen in real life. It would be awkward and slightly abusive. Funnily enough, people get punched jumping out at people in haunted houses all the time. Tons of people do karate, which aims to rewire you to react differently when scared or attacked. Namely, the punch. Most karate students drop out before black belt, but it doesn't take long for them to get the punching reaction. Ern's brother punched someone in a haunted house. It's a hazard. We loved Sam in this episode. We are so so so bummed that he didn't want to go out with Jess. Maybe he'll miss her! Maybe there's hope!

That redhead Nick crushed on is so pretty. We've seen her in a lot before. Thank God Winston and Shelby are over. She's not funny. It was good of the episode to give Winston a story and some decent screentime this week. Keep that up, show. We feel bad for Robbie, who is funny. Obviously, CeCe and Schmidt are going to hook up again, and then they will ruin their relationship immediately thereafter. But Robbie is a cool guy. We laughed at all the Abe Lincoln stuff. We do think about him a lot....Probably not every day though. Overall, this was a funny episode. Nick screaming at the clown in the haunted house made our lives. He's a good screamer.
Episode grade: B+

Happy Endings- Sabado Free-Gante
This show gets lower ratings than it deserves. Anything that can redeem Elisha Cuthbert for a former 24 fan (Ern) has to be amazeballs, right? Well, it is. Maybe the episode didn't get watched because of the lame commercial that only showed their pain-in-the-ass-lookin' Halloween costume. Most of the episode didn't feature Halloween or that physical gag, which would have gotten tiring if the show kept it up more than the three minutes it actually did. Jane at the car dealership was gold. Alex and Dave took the silver with their denial ("It's definitely haunted.") For us, Brad and Max got the bronze (worst storyline) trying to get free things on a Saturday. We find Penny a little too cartoonish compared to the rest of the gang, so the show might want to watch that. Other than that, this episode was funny and people should watch this show.
Episode grade: B

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Downton Abbey is good, Revolution frustrates, The Good Wife needs to move onto better stories, and 666 Park Avenue just lost us

Revolution- Sex and Drugs
Terrible episode title, even worse episode. It looked like something was about to happen after Danny's arrival at Monroe's camp. Don't get excited. He just met Monroe and hugged his mom. The group got stuck on yet another weekly side adventure. Drexel wasn't nearly as interesting or scary a leader as The Walking Dead's Governor. He was just annoying. We didn't like that Aaron was such a loser in his flashbacks. Yeah, he's not a coward now, but that doesn't make up for what he did to his wife. We knew Charlie wouldn't kill that guy. If she had, well, this would be a better show. We would have been impressed. But she's a pretty little bunny rabbit that this show is trying too hard to make us like. It keeps her from being a believable person. This show needs to speed the heck up before it loses its audience.
Episode grade: C

Downton Abbey- Season three, episode seven
This episode was happier than the last two weeks, which mostly dealt with Sybil's death. It was understandable that the show didn't jump back into light-hearted plot lines though. Branson and Sybil's baby is gorgeous. We've hardly ever seen a prettier baby that young. We're glad Bates is back because that subplot was devoid of tension and we didn't really care anyway. We love Mary with Branson. It's nice to see her sweet side. It's also cool to see her side with Matthew and not her father on running Downton. When you get married, that's what you have to do.

Thomas's homosexuality wasn't treated as a creepy joke in this episode. The show made him seem like a lonely guy who got confused, rather than some villainous predator. It's a good move for the show politically, but since it's gotten us to hate Thomas, it's sad that we can't rejoice at his bad fortune. The aftermath of the event made him too sympathetic. We love to hate him, but the show isn't going to let us hate him. We love City Edith! She's smart, confident, and likable. Hopefully this leads to Edith finding her place in the world. The episode's ending was hilarious. We can't believe there's only one episode left in the season. How will we stand the wait?
Episode grade: B

666 Park Avenue- A Crowd of Demons
Alright, we're bored with this show. It's just a compilation of supernatural incidents with little overarching plots, almost no likable characters, and snoozy pacing. It's been five episodes. That's how many we usually give our new shows. If by some miracle it becomes a hit, we'll catch up and watch it again. Our time is valuable, even though we watch this much TV.
Episode grade: C-

The Good Wife- Waiting for the Knock
So far, this season has been fine, but it isn't as good as last year. All of the episodes have been well made, but nothing has peaked our interest to the point where we are holding our breaths waiting for the next episode. We think it's because there's nothing going on that we care about, even though the episodes are good. This episode continues that streak of disappointing serviceability. Sadly, Kalinda's husband is still around, and he's still taking the show to a stupid place. We don't like Lana either. We ship Kalinda and Cary. No, wait, we don't.

We love Cary and we're not nuts about Kalinda. We ship her and no one. Cary and someone awesome who has not yet been seen on the show. Or Cary and Diane. Yeahhhhhh. We don't care about the girl lying about sleeping with Peter, his campaign, or that story. We don't care about Maddie and Alicia's friendship much either. The only tolerable thing about all that is Eli, who we will never stop loving. Eli and Kalinda? We don't care about the firm. We know it will be saved because there would be no show without it. Only the cases of the week can get us to tear our eyeballs away from our phones. This one wasn't the best, but it was pretty good. Lamond has a cute kid.
Episode grade: B-

Ern reads every Stephen King book. Post 1: Carrie

That is a picture of me and Stephen King. If you follow me on tumblr, you've already seen it. I got to meet him for my high school graduation present. My mom told me I was going to get lame senior pictures professionally done. I was less than enthused...until we got to our destination and Stephen King lived there. (Don't worry, Mom's at-the-time boyfriend knew him; we would never stalk King. He likes his privacy and I can respect that.) Well done, Mom. I know it was a sacrifice for her to not get those senior pics. I was so stunned. I could only mutter, "I really loved the Dark Tower books." He was very nice and humble. Best day ever. I was really grateful. 

This is my first time reading Carrie. From seeing half of the Sissy Spacek movie and hearing the ending, I felt like I knew the story and didn't need to read it. I skimmed it once in the library. But I've been wanting to go over all King's books this year. I've read a lot of them already, and there are some I need to read because they tie into the wonderful Dark Tower series. Carrie, to my knowledge, does not, but it was a good read anyway. You felt sympathy for nearly all the characters, especially Carrie. The writing is good, especially for a fourth (first published) novel. King was ashamed of this book and threw its first scene away, but his wife, Tabitha, wisely dug it out of the garbage.

I can see how it was shocking and progressive for its time. Stephen King has a problem with religious radicals (as do we all). This book has been banned several times, which is a shame because its rawness and tragedy would speak to high school and middle school students. There is talk of sex and lots of rated-R language, but kids hear those things every day in real school. I think it could combat the bullying "epidemic" by making people feel compassion for a mostly unlovable girl. King's ability to write inside the head of a suffering teenage girl is impressive. It's extremely believable. Carrie was based on a combination of two of King's classmates and Cinderella. Cinderella gone wrong. One of King's Carrie-based classmates killed herself as an adult. He was also likely influenced by his time as an English teacher.

This book made me excited for the movie remake. I can see how it can be truly terrifying. Its star compared it to Black Swan and said that sometimes in the movie, we won't know what's real and what's not real. While the old movie is a classic, in this day-and-age, the story can be told better. I'm not sure about Chloe as Carrie because she's very thin. Carrie is supposed to be a pretty girl whose looks are ruined by zits, glasses, and a few extra pounds, as well as a downcast demeanor caused by years of abuse. Why are the movies and TV shows so afraid of casting girls who aren't obese but are also not thing? 30 Rock joked once that there was no place on TV for someone of a normal weight. It's true. At least Chloe has the dirty-blonde hair color, and we love that she's a real teen.

Should you read this book? If you're in middle or high school, absolutely. If you enjoy horror, sure. This isn't my favorite book of his, and the plot isn't terribly strong. But it will get you in the heart, and you'll remember it. I'm going to grade these books in comparison with other Stephen King books, not books in general. King is very good with words, so most of his books are better than everything else in his genre (although he switches genres often). It's boring to give everything an A+. I tend to read a couple Stephen King books a year. I enjoy them and didn't want to use them all up. But it's time to get to them all. 

Book grade: B-

Next is Salem's Lot.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Reviews- The Diviners by Libba Bray

When we were younger, we read A Great and Terrible Beauty by this author, and we were underwhelmed. It was alright, but we didn't want to continue reading Bray's work. Everything in that book seemed to fizzle. But we gave this new series a chance, and man are we glad we did. Libba hasn't run out of ideas; she's gotten better ones. She's improved as a writer as well. This book reminded us of Stephen King for young adults. Some of the descriptions, the violence, the scary parts, and the characterization were reminiscent of King's best work. Coming from us, that's a huge compliment. We think he's a prolific writer. Bray's advantage is that her story is a little more interesting than evil clowns or dogs.

This book is long, but it left us wanting more. We read it in three days. We loved all the characters. We respected Bray's refusal to stray from hard topics, such as abortion, euthanasia, and fanaticism. One of the best things about this book was its main character, Evie O'Neill. Evie was not your typical YA heroine. We were getting sick of clumsy, insecure girls with hearts of gold and introverted tendencies. Evie is clever, funny, deceptive, stylish, brave, and troublesome.

She's good looking, and she knows it, thank God. She wants attention. She's BLONDE. She acts selfishly and impulsively. She's the sort of girl other girls are supposed to hate, but she's a breath of fresh air after all the Bella Swan lookalikes in teen fiction. The only annoying thing about her is she overuses certain hip-for-the-time phrases. We could sympathize with Evie's inability to follow the rules and be a "nice girl" who never ruffles feathers. She's not a YA cliche. She's Regina George if Regina had a cool power and wasn't mean to people.

The book is set in the 1920s, and the details of the time period are well-researched and convincing. The story involves supernatural elements and, of course, there are a few love stories, but they are believable and you can get into them. We definitely prefer Jericho to Sam. We like all the characters though. This book has plenty of reveals about each character because they all have secrets. The book didn't give us all the answers though, so we are already drooling for the sequel. There wasn't a wasted sentence in the whole thing. If Bray keeps this quality up, she'll have the next Big Thing in teen fiction, guaranteed.
Book grade: A

Back to blogging: Once Upon a Time, Dexter, Homeland, The Walking Dead, Revenge (x2)

By Keith McDuffee (Michael C. Hall) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Homeland- Q&A
When Breaking Bad ends, this is the show we will tell people is "the best show on TV." So, if you're not watching it, we don't know what you're waiting for. If you're on this blog, you obviously like TV. Get after it. For those of us lucky enough to turn in last night, we were treated to a well-acted, eventful hour. We weren't nuts over Carrie's overt confessions of love. For some reason, we like when that love is angsty, physical, and unspoken. It's kind of a soap-opera, contrived element to have Carrie be in love with this terrorist, her main suspect.

We also didn't like Finn running over the woman and leaving. If he had stopped, his daddy would have just paid the woman's medical bills. But hitting and then running is a big deal. Idiot. Most of the episode took place in the interrogation room. We were salivating during the whole thing. We couldn't believe the show was giving us these moments this soon in the series, let alone the season. Carrie did perfectly, and we were right to like the genius, cutie new guy, Peter Quinn. Can Carrie fall in love with him instead? He's way more deserving. We like that Carrie attempted to turn Brody instead of wear him down. This was another game changer.
Episode grade: A+

Revenge- "Intuition" and "Forgiveness"
In last week's episode, Aiden sneaks off to confront Kara, but she knocks him out and ties him up. It takes him most of the episode to free himself, but he's hot, so that's okay. He gets back to Amanda's just in time to hug her when she's crying, because she's upset. In other news, Nolan isn't gay. What. In this week's episode, Amanda pushes Aiden away, so he conspires with Daniel to oust Conrad and make Daniel the boss. Hopefully this leads to more adorable fighting, rife with sexual tension.
Episode grades: B+ and C+

Once Upon a Time- The Doctor
Whale is revealed! And no one would ever have guessed that it was Dr. Frankenstein, right? Did they just plan that for Halloween? That's not even a fairytale. We don't mind this show dipping from different pools though. It's can't just be all Disney. We already have Disney, and those stories are pretty great. We've got a "man of science, man of magic" dynamic going here? That was more interesting on LOST. It was awesome how Daniel ripped Whale's arm off. Take that, family friendly limitations! It's time for this show to get a little oogier.

This episode wasn't the norm for this show, and we're not sure how we feel about that. We're really liking Hook. He could get to be an interesting grey-area character. He's capable of love, but also evil. Those are the best guys in entertainment. Make him Byronic, show. We don't like that Regina is trying to not use magic at all. Magic is just a tool; it's not evil in itself, even in the universe of this show. What matters is what you do with it.
Episode grade: B

Dexter- Swim Deep
Well, we have another good one. Hannah enjoys murder. Maybe she's the right match for Dexter after all? Unfortunately, she doesn't kill for righteousness, and it looks like she's going to be Dexter's next target. Naw, he'll probably start out hunting her and end up banging her. We could use a season of Dexter trying to reform a fellow serial killer. That's something we haven't yet seen. We like Quinn, but it may be time for him to die. He's sticking his neck into danger and taking money again. This show has too many side cops. We can't believe Dexter landed Isaak behind bars. We love when our main characters act cleverly. Isn't it annoying when characters get themselves into trouble by thinking beneath their expected intelligence level?

Poor LaGuerta should have kept hating and distrusting Deb. Good news for us though...actually, we think it would be cool if the show ended with Dexter getting caught. It was a great moment when Deb emphatically declared Doakes to be a good man. She really knows. The cursing in the elevator was hilarious and so Deb. Her behavior this season has gotten her back in our good books. We're so happy about this season. We can now forget last year ever happened. Nothing important really happened either. If anyone watches it, they can just skip last year.
Episode grade: A

The Walking Dead- The Call from the Governor
Speaking of show comebacks, after two years of stereotypical characters, annoying kids, boring talky episodes, and no direction, this show has become what we want. It's taking steps toward being a genuinely great show. This stuff with the Governor could not be better. He's creepy, evil, power-hungry, possibly complicated and loving (his picture of his family) and he KEEPS FREAKING ZOMBIE HEADS IN AQUARIUMS IN A ROOM. Splitting into two groups is good for the show because when things get too bleak over in the main group, we can go into this totally different, equally interesting storyline with Andrea and Michonne.

We're glad we got an explanation as to why Michonne toted the zombies around. Michonne is still shrouded in mystery, which is good. We hope the backstory is worth the wait. We love her already, even though we know almost nothing about her except that she's bad ass. Soooo Merle's back. He's probably still racist, but he didn't act racist toward his fellow black soldiers and Michonne. He's being charming (for Merle), but we bet he's in for a bloody death this season. This season hasn't had a stinker of an episode yet. We're starting to trust it. We're glad we started watching it again.
Episode grade: A