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Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Young Adult Fiction: Because It Is My Blood and Origin

We read some YA novels this week. As old as we get, we can't help but read stuff like this. It's fun.

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
This is the sequel to All These Things I've Done, which we thought was a little silly, but we enjoyed it anyway. These books are part of the Birthright trilogy about the daughter of a mobster. It's like a teenage version of The Godfather, only it's set in the future and it's chocolate, not drugs, that are trafficked. This book improves on things by turning the focus from the teen love story and high school. Instead of that stuff, this book deals largely with the mobster activity, Anya's choices for her future, and chocolate manufacturing.

We loved Anya's new friend in Mexico. This book had some good, believable action in it. It went quickly. We liked the ending, Anya's plans, her new alliances, and the ire it drew from one important character. One of the things keeping this series from being too dry and dour is its sense of humor. The heroine is also easy to like without being cliche or trying too hard. She's smart and tough, and her decisions and emotions make sense. This book is probably trying to provoke thought about why marijuana is illegal and whether it should be. We're fine with that. It's something to think about, especially for the next generation.

If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. We don't admire this trilogy, but we like it, care about it, and enjoy reading it. Most of the stuff we complained about in our review of the last book isn't present here. It feels less like candy and more like a real story as it moves forward. It still has an immature, slightly unrealistic feel that we can't put our fingers on, but that doesn't ruin our enjoyment of a fine female character and her discomfort at being caught between taking care of her family, being a good girl, having a solid future, contributing to her community, loving her boyfriend, and trying to figure out where she fits in her father's crime empire, if she fits there at all.
Book grade: B

Origin by Jessica Khoury
This book is about a scientifically engineered, "perfect" girl named Pia who will live forever, can run 12 miles in 30 minutes, and has really tough skin. She lives in a compound and thirsts for information about the outside world. One night, she gets out. And she meets a boy. A misogynistic jerk of a boy. This book is by-the-numbers and pretty slow. It was predictable, and the ending was too easy and clean. We didn't connect with the main character, who seemed to have no personality, and the love story left us unmoved. The prose/Pia's inner monologue was dull. It wasn't dark enough.

However, this book was written by a 22-year-old woman. That's young. It's rare that someone of that age can write something that really gets to us, deep in the gut. The writing wasn't bad, and there was nothing offensive or terrible about this book. It just wasn't remarkable. In fact, it was promising. We'd like to read what Mrs. Khoury writes in ten years. Older people just have so much more to draw from. Also, this was her first novel. We'll give her credit for trying and getting published, but we don't recommend this book.
Book grade: D+

Re-watching Gilmore Girls: season four

By Jared_Padalecki_2008_Comic-Con_01.jpg: Kristin Dos Santos derivative work: Scarce (Jared_Padalecki_2008_Comic-Con_01.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
In season four, the show was still at its best, and it made Rory's transition from high school to college without dragging down the show. In fact, we prefer the Yale stuff to the Chilton material. Most shows can't take main characters from high school to college well (Gossip Girl, countless other shows). Gilmore Girls was always about fast dialogue and family relationships, not high school drama. Jess was gone, and this season had Rory single for the most part.

The season started with the girls getting back from Europe, and we didn't get enough stories of how that went. It was better than having a whole Europe vacation special with Rory and Lorelai hopping around and dialoguing though. Yeck. We haaate vacation specials. Rory takes off and immediately misses her mommy. We actually thought that was really cute. We wish one of our parents had hung out with us for the first night at college.

Paris follows Rory to school with her life coach, and she arranges to room with Rory. We were glad Paris was back and annoyed that Rory seemed mostly weirded out. Paris is awesome, Rory. Gosh. We guess that in real life it would be a little stalker-y though. If Paris had called Rory and asked to live with her first, it would have been totally normal. That's what you get for having random roommates, Rory (something we're very glad we did in college; it helps you get close to new, very different people than you would normally be friends with).

Rory continues to be socially uninterested when she doesn't want to ruin the furniture her grandmother sent her in order to have a dorm party. Paris freaks out. Lorelai convinces Rory to open her door to the party. All is well. A cool Lord of the Rings-themed party is ruined by Sookie being annoying and freaking out about being a bad mother. Kids eat kid food, Sookie! Digger Stiles is introduced. He was one of the only interesting things about Richard opening a business. His eventual betrayal made us love Lorelai more, because she chose her family over a sleazy boyfriend.

Dean gets married, but confesses his love for Rory to Luke after getting drunk at his mediocre bachelor party. Luke advises Rory not to go to the wedding, and it's very sweet and fatherly. One of Dean's partying buddies was Schmidt from New Girl, just fyi. He's everywhere. Taylor continues to be annoying and hold up local business, but it's funny to see Lorelai freak out at him. Sometimes. It's MORE funny when Luke freaks out at him. There was a ton of Inn stuff as Lorelai was renovating and opening the Dragonfly with Sookie this year.

We thought it was so, so stupid when Lorelai got rid of the decorator because she had worked with Emily. We get that Lorelai needs space and to be her own person, but that's overkill. It's a decorator. Rory is encouraged by her mother to go out on a date, but she ends up being really boring. That guy was cute too. Her loss. Sookie goes into labor during one of the best Festivals of Living Art we've ever seen on TV. Kurt getting into character to "play" Jesus was extremely amusing, and Lorelai didn't flinch at all. That episode won the show its only Emmy (ROBBED, this show is one of the best shows ever) for makeup. The makeup was fantastic though. The characters really looked like paintings.

Rory starts writing for the Yale Daily News and reviews a ballet by lambasting the prima ballerina for being too fat and clumsy. We thought that was mean, but it was a little funny. Naw, mostly mean. Rory was lauded for her honesty and strong writing, but we mostly think fat jokes are easy and rarely clever. The Gilmores attend a game at Yale, tailgate, and finally meet the woman who almost stole Richard from Emily in college. Richard meets with Pennilynn every year to catch up, Emily finds that fact out, and the big feud between the Gilmore parents starts. The feud was pointless, sure, but it was kind of cute. It should have been depressing, but it was wholly adorable watching them pine for each other.

Paris starts dating an ancient professor. Gross. We felt as bad for Jamie as Rory did. He was gorgeous, crazy about the nearly undateable Paris, and didn't deserve to be cheated on. There was too much cheating in this season, if you ask us (more on that later).  In the same episode that Lorelai and Luke vandalize the church bells (thank God), Mrs. Kim finds out about Lane's double life in the band and the rock music stash. The band breaks up for a stupid reason, and Lane is forced to move into Rory's Yale dorm for a while. We liked all of these developments a little.

Mrs. Kim's anger at Lane disobeying and sneaking for years was bound to happen one of these days. We missed Adam Brody so much this season. Lane's new and final love interest, Zack, didn't hold a candle to him, and Zack was so dumb that we always wondered why she liked him. Lane eventually makes up with the band and moves in with Zack and Bryan. Because Paris and Rory's other roommates are jerks and won't let Lane stay, even though she's totally helpful and cool. They think it's "weird." Um, you know what's weird? Running all the time, being 16 and in college and having no personality or confidence, and stalking your high school frenemy to college. Not Lane. Whatever.

Next, Jess comes back to get his crummy car and gives Luke an earful. Jess tries to avoid Rory, but later he chases her down and says, "I love you." Rory wisely ignores him and goes about her business, but our hearts are melted because Jess is hot and the bad boy we've always wanted to meet. One of the things we love about this season is the fact that Rory has had a perfect life so far. Her school performances has been nauseatingly top-notch. Boys have always loved her and found her charming. And she never really made bad choices with the opposite sex. Until now.

The start of all this was Rory being advised to drop a class. She took on too much work, got a poor grade, and felt like a failure. It freaking happens. Welcome to the normal world of not getting everything you want in school. Poor baby. Ever since Mr. Medina's class though, Rory had been Hermione Granger-ing her way through everything and making us feel like we should be on the short bus (no offense if you're on the short bus; you can be jealous of a fictional character with us too). It's just realistic and more interesting to watch someone who isn't perfect, right?

Richard's mother, Trix, dies, and we were pretty happy about that. She was mean. Her final act of discord was an old letter begging Richard not to marry Emily, and it was written years ago. Sure, Pennilynn Lotte is beautiful and has a lovely, if different, name, but she's not Emily. Emily's go spunk and would never be meeting a married man who rejected her once a month to catch up once a year. It's desperate. Rory and Paris try to be normal college kids and go on spring break. It doesn't look like they had a good time, little happened, and we were bored.

Meanwhile in that episode, Luke is arrested and Lorelai bails him out. They still aren't together, but hey, at least Nicole is gone. We always hated her. Next, Digger backstabs and the Gilmore grandparents find out their daughter has been dating digger for a long time, behind their backs. Who likes Digger? No one. He even has a creepy dog who is ready for the military. Actually, the dog was cute and did nothing wrong. We take it back. He just had a psycho, controlling owner who couldn't share a bed with a woman after sex.

Jess returns yet again, and Luke listens to self-help tapes that let him know WHAT WE'VE KNOWN ALL ALONG: If you want a girl, you have to go after her. He resolves to pursue Lorelai romantically. Then he gives the tapes to Jess so that Jess can have the same "epiphany" about Rory. *facepalm* It's pathetic that it took Luke this long, but the next couple of episodes made it all worth the wait. Luke's sister marries a decent guy, TJ, and Luke shares a heated dance with Lorelai.

Jess fails to get Rory back. His plan was to ask her to leave Yale and run away with him. Ummm....that's a bad pitch, bro. Just start dating her again. Don't ask her to give up her entire life when you've been less than reliable. Rory has started spending way too much time with her married ex, Dean, going to him for comfort and emotional intimacy. With Dean kind of in the picture, Jess didn't have a chance, especially since Rory has been a little more insecure than usually all season. We were really depressed after that episode though.

The finale was our second-favorite Gilmore Girls finale. It's hard to beat the series finale (oh, the tears). The season four finale was so funny, so eventful. BIG THINGS, WILD THINGS. Lorelai invites her friends and family to an opening night, test run for the completed Dragonfly. Digger shows up and tries to win Lorelai back, but he's rejected. Luke doesn't like seeing Digger prowling around, so he confronts Lorelai and then they kiss on the porch.

It was incredible, and then it got even better when Kirk ran down the stairs, naked, having night terrors, and interrupting them. On first viewing, we were frustrated that Kirk ruined the romantic moment that was melting us, but later we appreciated it as comedic brilliance that kept the show from getting too sappy. The shock of the night was Rory losing her virginity to Dean and Lorelai catching them post-coitus. Lorelai reminds Rory that Dean is married, Rory "hates her for ruining this," and the season ends after the fight.

Lots of people were upset that the show had Rory do this, but we were impressed that adultery was smacked down. Just because it was a fan-favorite couple didn't mean it was alright. There were consequences. Lorelai didn't say, "Do whatever feels good" or "follow your heart." Lorelai stepped up as a mom, confronted her daughter, and never wavered in the opinion that Rory made a terrible, hurtful mistake. Call us judge, but we don't respect a choice that helps someone else break a promise to love someone loyally forever. It adds to the world's brokenness, not its goodness. Thus, Rory's season of insecurity ended, and Jess never threw himself at Rory again. Sadly. Ugh. But let's not forget that Luke and Lorelai finally got together!!!!

Ballrooms and Biscotti: A, The Lorelai's First Day At Yale: B-, The Hobbit, The Sofa and Digger Stiles: B+, Chicken or Beef?: B+, The Fundamental Things Apply: B+, An Affair to Remember: B, The Festival of Living Art: A-, Die Jerk: B-, Ted Koppel's Big Night Out: B-, The Nanny and the Professor: A-, The Clamor and the Clangor: B, A Family Matter: B+, Nag Hammadi is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels: A-, The Incredible Shrinking Lorelais: A-, Scene in a Mall: B, The Reigning Lorelai: B+, Girls in Bikinis Boys Doin the Twist: B, Tick Tick Tick Boom!: A, Afterboom: B+, Luke Can See Her Face: B+, Last Week Fights This Week Tights: A-, Raincoats and Recipes: A+

South Park Season 16 Part 2

We finally finished watching South Park's 16th season.

Sarcastaball: B-
This is the one where Randy creates a softer version of football and then finds himself unable to stop being sarcastic. This episode is mostly for football fans aware of a controversy over replacement referees. That's not Ern; Leeard, however, fits that bill. The satire worked best for the world's Leeards who would fully understand it, and for them, it should be on-point. Both of us liked the diss of Cee Lo Green for always being on TV and never having enough hit songs. The funniest thing was Butters innocently saving and selling his own semen.

Raising the Bar: B+
This is the one with Honey Boo Boo and James Cameron. We loved the message of this one. We've lowered the bar so much, it would take the events of this episode to raise it. Of course, Cameron's stuff isn't that great either. Avatar was a total rip-off with good visuals and little else going for it. We need to send Chris Nolan down in that submarine. Still, we loved the jokes about James Cameron's ego, as well as his theme song. Honey Boo Boo and her mother were portrayed perfectly and hilariously. Any episode that has Cartman spending most of the time on a scooter and ending up in a 'sketti fight with Alana is a winner to us.

We laughed several times in this episode, and we agree that Americans need to be more discerning, quality-wise, but we don't think Alana's show is the worst thing on TV. Yes, we've seen Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Not a lot of it, but enough. One thing we liked is how much the family members love each other and get along most of the time. Most reality TV is filled with drama, fights, and backstabbing. This family has its...uh...faults, but they have each other's backs and seem to have fun together.

Insecurity: B
This is the episode where Kyle thinks his mom is sleeping with the UPS man and Cartman installs a security system. And also becomes Bane. We hate to say it, but Glee's Bane imitation trumped Eric Cartman's. What's with a spoof of security systems and people wanting to stay safe anyway? There are other things to spoof, surely. Still, we get the point that response is slow and probably inadequate, and they just profit off of people's fear. That's why one of our security systems consists of 1) lock, 2) glass bottle, 3) barking dog, 4) shotgun, 5) phone for police, and 6) back-up gun (Glock). Seriously. There were funny parts in this, mostly involving Cartman. Also, Ike's drawing showing up everywhere. Mostly though, we just felt bad for the cartoon UPS man.

Going Native: D+
This is the one where Butters goes to Hawaii with Kenny. We didn't think this episode was funny at all. Whatever was going on here, we didn't get it. Do you have to live in Hawaii and be annoying by white people pretending to be natives or something? Meh.

A Nightmare on Face Time: B
We were so excited to see The Avengers episode of South Park. Then it turned into a parody of The Shining as well. So cool. What a good idea for Halloween. The Blockbuster stuff wasn't timely though. If this episode came out when they were collapsing, it would have been better. Stan as an iPad bordered on poignant.  We laughed several times in this episode, especially at Randy. We liked when he was watching Ted on the screen. And the ending, with the McDonald's order.

A Scause for Applause: B
This was the Jesus episode that parodied the Lance Armstrong controversy and Livestrong bracelets. It was at this point in the season that South Park decided to be more timely. This episode and the presidential election one were spot-on parodies about what was actually, currently going on. We like the commentary about how stupid we are with spreading awareness about our causes without actually doing anything. It's just vanity/making us look stylish. Free Pussy Riot, indeed.

Obama Wins!: A-
This was the best, and last, episode of the season. We laughed at the poop-spewing duck once more, and we also liked the Morgan Freeman jokes. South Park handles politics perfectly, every time, while staying in the middle of the road, unlike most shows. Of course, the controversy wasn't mainly about the presidential election, but Disney getting Star Wars. South Park knows what we really care about. After the "seriousness" of one of the meanest elections ever, this episode was like a balm to all our irritation and worries over the last day. This show exists to make us laugh at what everyone else is freaking out about. It exists to slap down arrogance and point out stupidity. The show does it well.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

By Jim_Butcher.jpg: Nonsequiturlass derivative work: Kelly (This file was derived from:  Jim_Butcher.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We're going to try to review this book without spoiling it. We will mention certain subjects and characters who are and are not present in the book, so if that's too much for you (knowing who and what appears), don't read this if you haven't read the book yet. First, we will give you the grades we would give for the other books in the series, just so you have some basis of comparison and know what sort of installments we like to see in this series. Some people like the books that are heavy on action; some people like the introspective, emotional ones. This is what we like/don't like.

Storm Front: B-
Fool Moon: C
Grave Peril: A-
Summer Knight: B
Death Masks: A
Blood Rites: B+
Dead Beat: A-
Proven Guilty: B
White Night: C+
Small Favor: A
Turn Coat: A
Changes: A
Ghost Story: B+
Side Jobs: B-

Yeah, we liked Ghost Story a lot. We think we're in the minority here. We think this book scared the fans. It was sad, long, and the main character was dead. We think the positive reaction to Cold Days among fans is relief that the series they once loved hasn't changed forever. Still, we think Ghost Story was a more satisfying book. Yeah. the ending was frustrating, but it was also exciting. Plus, the twist at the end of Ghost Story (who killed Harry) knocked us on our asses. That book stayed with us longer and felt less like filler that had to happen in order to further Butcher's overall arc. Ghost Story was a story, and a very human one. Cold Days involved getting all the pieces in a chess match to where they needed to be.

We love books that deal with the White Council, the Denarians/Knights, necromancy/the dead, Marcone, cops, vampires, and family. We don't like when Butcher focuses on faeries. It's only tolerable when, like in Summer Knight and Proven Guilty, the White Council shows up to get in on the action, if only temporarily. We hate faerie so much. First of all, it's one long Jim Butcher boner, because every woman in faerie is unbelievably beautiful (as opposed to every other woman in this series...oh wait. Every woman is attractive in Harry Dresden's world. He must be a magnet), and he goes on and on and on about it. We're straight chicks, so it doesn't do much for us. We can't imagine that guys would rather read about hot girls than look at them. We do like the Faerie Mothers though. They are creepy.

Unfortunately, but predictably due to the last book and this book's title, this one was all about faeries. Faery Queens. Bleck. Dull. Too inhuman and cold. Cold Days indeed. Fix is the sole faerie character who actually invites sympathy, and we were grateful for his presence and actions in this one. In fact, let's keep going with what we liked. First of all, we too are grateful that the main character of the series is alive again. We liked Mab's idea of physical therapy. We liked everything to do with the island. Demonreach's purpose is mega-cool and sure to cause trouble with the White Council, which is what we love. We also liked everything involving Mac. Who is he?!! We liked the Outsider's psychic attacks. We liked Kringle. We liked Bob's Firefly reference that Harry didn't understand. We liked the good plotting.

We liked the scene with the Gatekeeper and the revelations there. It made faerie seem a lot more important, and that's needed if we have to see faeries so dang much. We liked Harry's reflections and observations about the nature of power and temptation. We liked Bob's new "movie projector" capabilities. The exposition between Bob and Harry could get old in previous installments, and now Butcher has a tool to make these conversations hilarious. We like that Harry's allies continue to be un-annoying and helpful. We liked Harry's romantic choices. We're not gonna say who (although you can probably guess) we never ever ever ever want to see together, but there's a couple that can't happen, and it was addressed in this book. Gross. Icky icky never never.

Most of all, we like the way this book picked up threads and pieces from the last books and continued them. It was like LOST, dropping hints and plot points for the future, and then actually picking them up. The continuity is great. We got answers to questions that were raised in the first book. Things we glossed over as unimportant in, say, Proven Guilty, turned out to be fairly pivotal. Butcher is great at world building and creating a puzzle. He's going to great lengths to drop pieces everywhere, much like in the Harry Potter series when Rowling laid down hints and then picked them up again, making everything tie together almost perfectly. Finally, Harry's reunion with Thomas was a highlight.

Now for what we hated. It was a lot. 1) No Maggie, Michael, Marcone, or Ebenezar. Three of these are people who, emotionally, should have been there to see Harry come back and react to it. Marcone is just awesome. We guess Butcher is saving these reunions for later, but ugh. We've already waited a year. 2) No one was surprised enough to see that Harry was alive except for Thomas. Sure, there are reasons why Karrin and Molly reacted almost the same way as if a neighbor had come back from Cabo, but why have those reasons? Why kill and bring back a main character and not take full advantage of the shock, awe, and tears? 3) The status of the Winter Knight and one of the queens by the end of the book. We guess we'll be seeing more fairies! Joy. 4) Too many fight scenes. Those are great to watch and boring to read.

5) The "little folk." Does anyone else find them completely annoying in every way? Yeah, they are helpful and good in small doses, but they were in this book too much. 6) The new characters Lacuna and Sarissa. Sarissa is like Susan 2.0 in that she is just bland and brave. 7) This installment didn't show us anything we haven't seen from this series before, except for the revelations of what's been going on in previous books. This type of story, adventure, and interaction is all old hat.

8) Not as much tension. 9) Not a surprising enough ending or evil plot. 10) Molly was jerked around too much, as usual, and the development in her character since the last book was a little sudden. 11) We got bored during the climax. 12) The Redcap. So grating! He should have died early on. 13) Some sexism. 14) While there was a reason for them, we didn't enjoy Harry's rape-y thoughts. Lots of women have been raped, and it doesn't seem fair to make them read these thoughts in a favorite book series.

15) This Winter Knight mantle scared Harry for a reason. There is a chance it can corrupt him and has already seeped into his brain a little. Now, we've already seen this with Lasciel and know how it will turn out, but we're not loving it right now. Lasciel tempted with power. The mantle tempts with sex and animal instincts (like rape, which is distinct from sex). We're afraid that it will turn out to be an excuse for Butcher to have his main character act like an evil pig and still technically be a good person and hero. We don't want to see Butcher's darkest fantasies, so we hope it's not like that.

(It reminds us of when Anita Blake got an excuse to be really slutty after getting something called the ardeur in another series. That completely ruined that series.) This mantle temptation needs to come and go, quickly. We're tolerating it only because we think it will start drama with the other wizards, and we love wizard drama. 16) Toward the end, we just wanted to finish it already. After waiting for a year for this. 17) Harry is still creating problems for himself. 18) This book was good for the overall, 23-book plot, but not for the characters. And we only get obsessed with things when we love the characters.

Edit based on internet surfing: 19) Lucyzephyr pointed out that in chapter 48, Butcher basically said that Lily being attractive would obviously lead to her being a victim. Not only physically attractive, young people are raped. That statement is messed up. We agree with this tumblr that even though the story gave a reason for these thoughts and fantasies, there were other ways to show dark, primal urges, and there was no reason for Butcher to have eight rape fantasies or for them to be as detailed as they were. Entertainment that references rape affects society. It went past what was necessary. Also, THERE WAS a gang rape scene in Grave Peril. We KNEW we read that right. How is that even a question?

Overall, our expectations for this book were low, since we knew it would involve Winter Court stuff, and we were STILL disappointed. The book was fine. We're just glad it's over so Harry can move onto other subject matter. We hate that we have to wait another year to get the book we would like to have had on Tuesday. We wanted more emotion, but a lot of that has been set up for next time (Maggie, Fix, Molly, Michael), so we're not worried that, eventually, we will get what we want. For now, meh.

Book grade: C
But we still love this series.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Girls Season Two Trailer. We Can't Wait!!!

Grey's Anatomy- I Was Made for Lovin' You

Angela George [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The lawsuit plot line is driving us (okay, Ern) crazy. The hospital should not be sued. How is this even a case? We're not lawyers, but it seems weird to us. The attorneys defending the hospital should have a field day. So, that airline was so dangerous that Dr. Hunt should have been aware not to use them? Then why are they even in the air? Why not sue the government officials who let them stay in business if they are SO BAD that some random doctor should have known not to let people fly on them? Oh, but he should have done the research you say? Still. That's a comparatively low amount of fault, wouldn't you say? How much money is "failure to research an already regulated business" worth? Not much. It's not Dr. Hunt's job to make sure airplane's are safe enough for people to use. It's not his duty. Think of your boss (or yourself or any business owner you know): before he or she puts an employee on a plane, does he research the safety record of the airline?

The only way this plotline would work is if the show tells us that it is normal for most chief of surgeries to investigate airline safety. We think any reasonable guy in his position (which is the standard by which he will be measured) would trust that the FAA wouldn't be letting people fly on this airline unless it were safe. That if the airline was in business, it's not negligent to PUT PEOPLE ON IT. It's a heavily regulated industry with few crashes. In order to sue someone for not doing something, it had to be his job to do it. It wasn't. It was the FAA's and the airline's job to check the safety. Those hack plaintiff's attorneys said that the best people to sue would be the hospital's leaders? We can think of so many other parties who would be much better targets. The safety testers, manufacturers, the airline, the government.... Yeah, this is great for drama and Owen angst, but if the show were going to go here, it needed to create a tighter case.



  •'re not nice.
  • Arizona, yes finally yes yes yes. Off the floor and back, laughing and being cool again. Woo hoo.
  • We hope Meredith doesn't miscarry. She's already miscarried on this show before. We want nice things to happen to her. The pregnancy was a pleasant surprise we should have seen coming.
  • Way to be self-destructive, Owen. Go back to therapy.
  • Bailey needs to die now.
  • The liver patient touched our hearts.
  • What happened to ass-grabbing guy?
  • Mr. Feeny helped Cristina's heart grow three sizes! And she wants Owen back!
  • We love Tina with the chairs, haha.

Re-watching LOST: Season four

Henry Ian Cusick [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Spoilers abound. This season wasn't the best (and it was way too short), but it contains the best episode (The Constant), and the show was reinvigorated by the flashforwards. If you've read anything we've written about the first season of Revenge, you will know that we normally hate flashforwards and consider them to be a lazy gimmick to drum up tension without earning it. Not so on LOST. On LOST, everything happening in the flashforwards was a story in itself, not something that would have to be repeated by the show once time caught up. They were clever. We would have taken anything from this show at this point, though. The season came at the high point of our LOST obsession, so we remembered it as being better than it actually was, on re-watch.

The best thing about this season was that it came just after the writers got their end date. They started charting a nerdy course to the end. We believe strongly in end dates for shows. In our perfect world, shows would get six season and then be forced to end. They can end earlier if they are lame and no one likes them, but after season six, shows should be done. That way, shows don't meander, fail to show us the Mother, have seasons that don't go anywhere, and have characters who can never grow.

This season didn't abandon flashbacks, showing that LOST still had them in its back pocket when they were needed. Now the show could skip back and forth in time as much as it wanted (which would prove useful for season five). The first flashback episode of the season was the second one, Confirmed Dead, which showed us the pasts of all the new characters from Not Penny's Boat. That episode got us excited to get to know them better. Season four also spent a lot of time developing the science-y, time-travel-y element to the show. It took a lot of risks, but they worked. It also had some creepy moments, as well as the one time the smoke monster really worked for us.

We got new characters. Some of them worked and some of them didn't. We loved the C.S. Lewis reference with Charlotte, but that character never realized her full potential. We felt like the writers had ideas of where to take her and then dropped them, turning it into a love story instead. A love story that didn't work. Cool-looking actress though. Then we had Miles, another lame character. He took the show to a repetitive place, and tended to annoy rather than bring sympathy or even laughs.

We preferred Frank Lapidus, the pilot, and Daniel, of course. Daniel just had a lot to DO on the show, even aside from all the crying we had to endure from him. He knew the island's secrets and ended up being a more important character than he was a character we liked. He had a strong role to play. Frank had a few cheesy lines and stupid Hawaiian shirts, but we liked his attitude. He was happy all the time and seemed to roll with the punches easily.

One of the great things about this season was that not everyone on the boat was evil (like we expected; why did we expect that? Apparently, we'd never seen LOST before?!!)  The captain wasn't even evil! The ship baddie was Keamy, a man who scared Leeard a LOT. Keamy brought significant deaths: Carl, Rousseau, and Alex. That was one of the times viewers felt the most strongly for Ben. He wouldn't give his life for his daughter, but he believed he could still get them both out alive. Mid-horrible tactic, she was shot. Then the smoke monster's best moment happened. It must have been the darkness, the wrath, or the emotional resonance, but when the smoke monster took on Keamy and his men, it wasn't silly anymore. Maybe they spend more money on the special effects. Anyway, it worked. The smoke monster was finally scary.

We were disappointed in the Oceanic Six. The six people they chose to get off the island were the most predictable characters to make it. It made us worry about favorites though. We found out (in the Michael episode) that the island can keep people alive even when they are off the island. That was like something out of a Stephen King book. We loved it. We also needed to spend that time with the Michael character after he'd been away for so long and was about to become (briefly) important again. We needed Michael to have screentime to get closure on his arc. We're so glad they killed him. We also liked seeing young Locke grow up and have that gripping interview with Richard. Locke, you should have gone to science camp. Science is cool! This season also featured a flashback to the '50s. Nice. His mom was always cray.

Let's talk great episodes. First, The Economist. Sayid's tragic flashforward hour where he romanced a woman to get to her boss and then was revealed to be (GASP) a hit man for Ben could not have been creepier. In the best way. That woman had the best taste in evening gowns too. Also, Ben and Sayid were hanging out in Ern's favorite city, Berlin. Bad ass. Sayid is the greatest Muslim TV character of all time. No stereotypes there. Abed from Community is a close second. Really, anyone either a) not on 24 or b) who doesn't blow something up is a great Muslim TV character. It's pretty rare, unfortunately.

Another great episode was The Shape of Things to Come, and not just because that's an amazing episode title. Everything about that hour had us holding our breath. Alex dies, and in the last scene, Ben confronts Widmore and threatens Penny's life. After watching The Constant, we were like, "No no NOOOO." In one episode, we felt so horrible for Ben and then went right back to hating him. It was all-in-all a gut-wrenching, brilliant episode.

We already mentioned that we think The Constant is the best episode of this show. It mixed sci-fi with a lot of heart, plus the possibility of key characters losing their minds. It was so different and risky, but then it pulled off the best romantic moment on this show with lines that should have been cloying. Instead, it made Ern cry. Not just once, but every time she's watched it (which is, like, six times). LOST didn't always work in the romance department, but it did here.

Sidenote: We don't think Charlie and Claire were a good couple most of the time. One time, this guy trying to date Ern said that this was his favorite couple on the island, and Ern was thinking, "Oh man, I can't date this dude. He'll bring me fake peanut butter and try to baptize my dog (or something). His taste in romance is, at the very least, suspect." Ern let it go though, mostly because single dudes who even watch good TV don't grow on trees.

Disappointing episodes? Eggtown. This was the one where Kate went on trial for murder and walked away from probation. First of all, that's unlikely. Second of all, we didn't need a whole episode for this. Someone could have just discussed Kate in a conversation. "Oh yeah, she got probation so she could raise her son and because Jack lied for her. He's still in love, you know?" "Oh, okay, cool." Done. We didn't see anything new here. On the island, Sawyer and Kate can't make it work, which is fine because they weren't meant to be together anyway. (Sawyer and Juliet!!)

The sole good moment was the icky scene at the end where we found out Kate was raising Aaron. It raised two questions: 1) What happens to Claire? 2) Is Kate "another," so will her raising Aaron be bad for him and everyone else? Of course, we never got a satisfying answer to the second question, unless "another" only meant "an other" (like, don't let The Others get him). We weren't satisfied with Aaron's arc. He was kind of like Walt. He seemed important, but then he wasn't.

The Other Woman was another dud. It focused on flashbacks from Juliet's affair and her inability to get along with his wife, Harper. The present-day action was wasteful, with Juliet trying to stop Daniel and Charlotte from bringing disaster on the island!!! Oh, but wait, there was no disaster. Everything's fine. Snore. Sure, we found out that Charles Widmore was in charge of Not Penny's Boat, but that wasn't exactly a mindf***. We liked when Ben went all insane like a baby and said, "YOU'RE MINE" to Juliet, but then that was ruined with Jack kissing Juliet in the present. He was defying Ben's possessive, murderous revenge...which never even came. And was never even attempted. We hate when shows set things up and don't follow through. Waste of an hour, for sure. Entertaining though.

Another one we didn't like was Ji Yeon. First off, it was manipulative in a bad way. Most LOST episodes are manipulative, but this one, with its parallel flashbacks and flashforwards, took the cake. One of us never connected with Jin and Sun as a couple, so that didn't help. We found out Jin was dead. (Only not really. Another fakeout. Ugh.) Sun had a baby. Snore snore snore. If she had died from island complications, that would have been interesting. The episode could have been clever with real emotional resonance, but it wasn't there. We just felt tricked for no reason.

Something Nice Back Home bugged us because it finally got Jack and Kate together only to have them break up for a stupid reason. It wasn't even particularly hot. They lost whatever chemistry they had in the first couple of seasons by this point. We waited this long to see them as a couple, and we got this boring episode out of it. Jack has issues. We get it.

While we liked the finale, it should have been better. It was the weakest of all six LOST finales. It was exciting, watching the island disappear was great, and we liked seeing how everyone got to where they ended up in the flashforwards. Still, moving all those pieces took up most of the episode and stole all the time the show had to make a good story to leave us with. The show knew how to redeem itself though: it gave us a Desmond death scare followed by his reunion with Penny. Yay for happy endings!

The Beginning of the End: A-
Confirmed Dead: B
The Economist: A
Eggtown: D (remember, this is compared to other episodes of LOST, not all other shows.)
The Constant: A+
The Other Woman: F
Ji Yeon: C-
Meet Kevin Johnson: B-
The Shape of Things to Come: A+
Something Nice Back Home: F
Cabin Fever: B+
There's No Place Like Home parts 1 and 2: B-

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Movies: The Next Three Days and Cloud Atlas

Caroline Bonarde Ucci [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The Next Three Days
One of us is always looking for good (not mindless) action films to watch on Instant Netflix, because that's about the only genre her dad ever wants to watch, and he always wants to watch something. The Next Three Days got lackluster reviews from just about everyone, so we didn't expect it to be any good. Still, it looked better than most of the other action movies on that site, and the trailer was interesting. While Elizabeth Banks and Russell Crowe are probably too good to be associated with this movie, it was a lot better than we thought it was going to be. It was, unfortunately, a little unrealistic at times. Other than that, it was entertaining, and we loved the second half. When the movie stumbles, it keeps going, and it was pretty good at building suspense. It's worth watching, but we're glad we didn't see it in theaters.
Movie grade: B

Cloud Atlas
There's a lot about this movie that we liked: The visuals, the cast (except for Jim Sturgess, who has no charisma. Stop trying to make him happen, Hollywood), the makeup, the way the movie juggled so many story lines without being confusing, the spirituality, the fact that the filmmakers were reaching for the stars, the originality, the concepts, the messages.... Sadly, this had to be one of the most boring movies we've ever seen. Clocking in at over two-and-a-half hours, this film took us right to that line between "care" and "don't care," and then it crossed over into the brain space that was screaming, "Just kill them all. I don't care about these characters!" None of the story lines managed to build enough individual suspense to carry the entire movie. The phrase "hot mess" applies.

You can't just throw a TON into a script and hope something sticks emotionally. Hitchcock's rule was "have three great scenes and no bad ones." This movie had plenty of bad ones and none that will stick in our memories. We heard this movie was based on a very good book. What was needed was depth, insight into the characters' minds and motivations, and, you know, other things that make you invested in the outcomes. Some smart people loved this movie, including people who are close to us, so you may disagree as well. We suggest going after a full night's sleep, with a good amount of snacks, and a comfortable sweater if you want to make it through to the end. Settle in.
Movie grade: D

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two Medical Shows Cancelled

Emily Owens MD and The Mob Doctor have been axed. Totally justified, in our opinions.

(Also, today's show post will be delayed until tomorrow)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homeland, Revolution, The Good Wife

Homeland- Two Hats
Whoa, this show. We were confused at first, but we're pretty sure we know what went down. Peter Quinn is even more awesome than we previously thought, and he was already campaigning for the title of Our Favorite Character On This Show. His mission is to kill Brody once they have Nazir. That makes a lot of sense, because you don't want Brody in government, and you don't want it all to come out. That's a pretty significant development (even if it was doled out in the most convoluted, stupid way imaginable), and that's not all. Brody met with Nazir, and we didn't see the full scene. There's something there that we don't know, most likely. Maybe Nazir re-turned Brody. Brody has to be holding something back from the way the scene was given to us. Only a few left!
Episode grade: B+

Revolution- Nobody's Fault But Mine
In this episode, things finally happened. This should have been, you know, the fifth episode of this show, but it had to drag things out ridiculously. Nothing surprising happened (and there should have been some twist we couldn't have called), but we finally got some plot advancement. Rachel is free, Monroe has power, and Danny is rescued. The bromance could have been handled better. In superior writers' hands, it could have been emotional and heartbreaking, turning Monroe into a character you could really feel for. These writers are hacks though. We think we will finish this season, but unless things change and we start to care more, this show won't earn a season two pass. If this by-the-numbers episode was their big midseason finale, they've got work to do.
Episode grade: B

The Good Wife- A Defense of Marriage
Alicia and Diane did exactly right. Put your client over politics. You are fighting for their interests, not their cause. Nick and Cary are nearly openly threatening each other. KILL HIM, Cary. We love Stockard Channing, but it's too bad that her character was so nasty. Just what we need, another woman portrayed as a lying gold digger. We see way more of those on TV and in the movies than in real life. We felt bad for Peter finally getting boned by his wife for all the wrong reasons. Get rid of Veronica. She's making our girl Alicia cray. We loved seeing Owen again though. This episode should have been called "The Rules of Evidence." Also, that judge should be sacked since Alicia had to explain really common rules to her like twice. Too bad the gay couple was portrayed as unable to control sexual urges/sleep with only one guy. That's just the kind of stereotype that community needs spread right now. We were entertained, but we didn't like what went down.
Episode grade: B-

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dexter keeps the right character alive, Revenge gives us a little history, The Walking Dead is so freaking good, and Once Upon a Time needs to move it along

Dexter- Helter Skelter
The only lame thing about this episode is that after two weeks of us falsely thinking that LaGuerta knows that it's absolutely Dexter, she still doesn't know and is investigating names. It's realistic to have her doubt that it's Dexter and look through all the boat owners, but since Deb was acting so squirrelly last week and the show has been teasing us with this for a while, we thought maybe last week sealed it. No dice. LaGuerta is working with the old captain to find information on all the listed law enforcement personnel. From the looks of the preview, La Guerta lands on Dexter next week.

We have yet another new baddie. An arsonist. We love the way Dexter handled Deb's love compassion, brushing it off in a socially inept way. We also love that Hannah didn't die. We thought she would and that would ignite the Deb/Dexter romance we've been dreading, but it looks like Dexter is really in love with the living Hannah. It's not like we are into Hannah so much as we just need her around to keep Dexter from pulling a Jaime Lannister. We were sad to lose Isaak though. And surprised. Like we've said before, we love that actor. It was cool to see Dexter try to protect him. We're worried for Quinn. This Nadia thing can't end well. Can it?
Episode grade: B+

Revenge- Lineage
Lots of this show's fans from last year are whinging that it's stupid this year. We maintain that it's no stupider than it was last year. It's like everyone is just now realizing that it's an overacted, ridiculously plotted, slow-moving soap opera. They call it a guilty pleasure for a reason, folks. It wasn't much of a pleasure this week either, except for watching Amanda save Ashley from sex trafficking. We wonder how often Ashley and Amanda met before the show's starting point, if at all, and how much Ashley is aware of. No matter what, it's good to see the show make Ashley useful. The mission was cool, but completely outlandish. The Jack stuff was a complete waste of time, but watching Victoria square off against her evil mother and Conrad ruin his son's poetry career was pretty fantastic. The show needs to stay away from Nolan's corporation drama. No one cares. This moved the plot almost nowhere and was just backstory that no one really wanted, but it was entertaining. Stupid, but entertaining.
Episode grade: B-

The Walking Dead- When the Dead Come Knocking
Glenn has been our favorite character since the show began for a reason. He's so bad ass. We don't hate Maggie for cracking at all, especially since she did it for Glenn, but it was a little annoying that it was a woman who broke. Normally, it wouldn't be annoying, but since AMC fans seem to hate all the women on the channel to an irrational degree, we hate to give them more ammo. Still, Maggie is a far cry from Skyler White, Betty Draper, or Lori Grimes. It's the lack of nagging that will save her from the wolves. It's also fortunate that they kept quiet long enough for Rick and the others to infiltrate. Judith is a gross name. We wanted the next episode so badly, but we have to wait.
Episode grade: B+

Once Upon a Time- Into the Deep
Leeard and many others thought this was an amazing episode. Ern was a little less impressed, but still, it was pretty good. It's getting a little too saccharine that Charming and Snow keep talking about how they always find each other, and the other characters have started saying it too. Captain Hook can rip out hearts? In other news, there are zombies on this show now.
Episode grade: B