Two for January

While most of the shows I watch are on hiatus, I’ve been catching up on Arrow. And thinking about these two new shows that I will definitely tune in for:

  • AmericansThe Americans on FX: Home to two of my favorite dramas (Sons of Anarchy and Justified), FX has proven it can produce a quality show that keeps me coming back for more each week.  Set in the 1980s, this show is about a couple of Russian spies living in America. Starring Felicity’s Keri Russell, the show has a lot of promise, even if the promos have been light on details.So far, FX has outlined the following plot. Russell and co-star Matthew Rhys are two spies living in an arranged marriage. They have two kids, who don’t know anything about their spy lives. And they live next door to an FBI agent involved in counterintelligence. They have to balance their allegiance to their homeland with a growing affinity for the American way of life.
  • FollowingThe Following on FOX: Let me start out by saying I love Kevin Bacon. So I would probably watch just about anything he was in, small or big screen. He’s just one of those great actors who has proven over time to be adept at taking on a variety of roles, both light and heavy. And of course, it helps that Kevin Williamson (producer of The Vampire Diaries and the Scream movies) is at the helm.
    Bacon plays a broken cop on the hunt for a serial killer who uses his fans as his instruments of killing. The promo is gritty and compelling, and the production value looks excellent – you might even think you are watching a movie trailer.

Will you be checking out either of these shows? Is there anything else new on TV that I should be checking out?

Waiting sucks

Last week was an especially lame week for TV. It seemed like just about every show on every network took a break. And while FOX can blame it all on American Idol, there is just no excuse for the other networks.

At least Big Love was on. And boy was it good. I’m not sure how the writers are going to wrap all of the drama in just a few more episodes, but I’m excited to see them try. It’s nice to know that when the other networks are off, HBO is on.

Thinking about the end of Big Love, and anticipating Game of Thrones (more on that later), makes me even more excited for True Blood in June. And to be quite honest, the shirtless Eric promo that HBO posted this week doesn’t hurt either. Very nice. You’re welcome.

The fourth book in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series has always been my favorite (a consensus among fans). Without spoiling anything, let me just say that everything changes. The storylines that began at the end of last year (Sookie’s troubles with Bill, witches in Bon Temps, werewolf politics, Jason’s relationship with Crystal, werepanthers in Hotshot, and more) will likely all be important plots in season four. 

The anticipation is killing me. Perhaps a True Blood seasons past marathon is in order. With HBO Go, a new service for  cable subscribers, you can watch any episode of any HBO show online. It’s not available for Time Warner yet, but if you have another cable provider, you should look into it. It sounds pretty cool. For my part, I think I’ll queue up the DVDs on Netflix old school style, and try to ease my True Blood withdrawal symptoms.

44 reasons to watch Fringe

      

It’s President’s Day. To celebrate our 44 commanders in chief, I am proud to give you 44 reasons to watch Fringe, in random order.

  1. It’s critically acclaimed, if you care about those things.
  2. The tough-as-nails yet still sensitive leading lady, Olivia Dunham.
  3. The father-son bond between Walter and Peter.
  4. Walter’s affinity for psychedelic drugs.
  5. Walter’s affinity for vinyl records.
  6. Nina Sharp, the one-armed wonder of Massive Dynamic.
  7. The floating location titles. I know it’s a small thing, but I like them.
  8. Agent Broyles possesses scene-stealing strength of character in both universes.
  9. The juxtaposition of old and new technologies — a manual typewriter enables communication between universes.
  10. In the alternate universe, blimps are the predominate method of air travel, something any Akronite should appreciate.
  11. Astrid. Or is it Asterisk? Either way, you’ve got to love her ability to relate to Walter.
  12. There’s a cow in the lab.
  13. “Over There: Part Two” was the ultimate season-ending cliffhanger.
  14. The show has more emotional depth than any sci-fi show I’ve ever seen, except maybe Lost.
  15. Trent Reznor remade “Zero-Sum” for a Fringe promo, arguably the best trailer for a TV show ever made. Watch it here.
  16. You’re sharp enough to suspend disbelief and have a good time.
  17. You’re suspicious enough to believe that some of this could be true.
  18. You appreciate a good milkshake.
  19. Leonard Nimoy as William Bell, the head of Massive Dynamic, a powerful global corporation specializing in Fringe science.
  20. Anna Torv as Olivia.
  21. Anna Torv a Fauxlivia.
  22. Walter Bishop is probably the best mad scientist since Dr. Frankenstein.
  23. Yet, Walter is so fragile, so deeply aware of his flaws, that you can’t help but feel for him.
  24. There is romance for the lovers of love.
  25. But not too much romance.
  26. The special effects are top of the line. No cheesy CGI here.
  27. There are new cases almost every week, so you don’t have to know the mythology to start watching.
  28. But, the mythology is really intricate and cool, so you might want to go back and watch old episodes.
  29. It’s a serious drama.
  30. But Walter makes you laugh at least once an hour.
  31. You like blondes.
  32. You like red-heads.
  33. We’ve only just begun. Three seasons in, Fringe has barely tapped into the ethical questions raised by Walter, Massive Dynamic and the alternate universe.
  34. It’s The X-Files, on steroids.
  35. What else are you going to watch on Fridays?
  36. It’s not just for nerds.
  37. But if you are a nerd, you will appreciate the glyphs and symbolism. My favorite one being the apple with the foetus inside.
  38. It comes to us from J.J. Abrams, creative genius behind Lost.
  39. But it’s not a Lost wannabe — Fringe has its own mojo.
  40. Forget everything you know about Joshua Jackson from Dawson’s Creek.
  41. Two universes are better than one.
  42. Especially when each universe has a set of fully developed characters.
  43. The Fringe “Noir” episode, “Brown Betty.”
  44. If you don’t watch this excellent show will be canceled.

10 girl crushes: My favorite ladies of TV

I just love the wit and wisdom of Dr. Temperance Brennan.

                                                                         

On the way to work this morning, I was thinking about Bones. That got me thinking about Dr. Brennan, and how much I love her character, which got me thinking about some of the other cool ladies on TV right now.

My co-blogger, Mark, has said that we are in a Golden Age of TV. I tend to agree – there are so many good things to watch right now. Part of the appeal of many of the shows I watch is the strong leading lady. It used to be that such strong women on TV were few and far between. Of course, the ‘90s gave us Dana Scully and Buffy Summers, two monoliths of TV womanhood. But to my knowledge there has never been a time when so many women dominated the tube. And the great thing about these leading ladies is that they are such diverse characters – gone are the days of the token strong-willed woman trying to eke out a living among the boys. Here are some ladies of note.

  • Dr. Temperance Brennan (aka Bones, of Bones) – Leader of squints and lover of guns, she’s a highly objective scientist who blows away the stereotype of the overly emotional woman.
  • Annie Walker (of Covert Affairs) – This rookie CIA agent doesn’t need a partner to take down the bad guys in her way. She’s spunky and fresh, not your typical tough girl, and she’s a one-woman wolf pack.
  • Fiona Glenanne (of Burn Notice) – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You build bombs. You rescue boys. You kill bad guys. You have impeccable style. You have such a sharp sense of humor.  And I love the way you say, “Shall we shoot them?”
  • Debra Morgan (of Dexter) – She’s hot mess when it comes to the opposite sex, and she’s got a mouth like a sailor. In seasons past, her vulnerability bordered on annoying, but this year she has really come into her own.
  • Liz Lemon (of 30 Rock) – LL is the funniest woman on TV, simply put. She’s a proud nerd who’s not afraid to admit to wearing a bathing suit as underwear. Need I say more?
  • Margene Heffman, Nicki Grant and Barb Henrickson (of Big Love) – Three very different women (who I am counting as one, polygamist girl crush), married to one man. In four seasons, each has shown strength of character and vulnerability. The complexities of their relationships to one another go beyond the challenges of polygamy, and delve into the differences between each one’s ideas of what it means to be a woman, wife and mother.
  • Caroline Forbes (of Vampire Diaries) – Not the obvious choice from this show (that would be the main star, Elena), but I really like Caroline. And what’s more, I think she’s a good example for young ladies. Last year, she was shallow and mean. But over time, her character grew (and changed into a vampire) into a much deeper person capable of true friendship, love and compassion. This season, she has weathered her change with grace, and even stepped up to the plate to help Tyler handle his own change. She’s a nice example of how a young woman can transcend the cliques, gossip and stereotyping of high school.
  • Olivia Dunham (of Fringe) ­ – Olivia is a smart agent who follows her instincts. She not only solves mysteries in our world, she crosses to other universes as well. She is a fascinating character, capable of great emotional depth as well as detachment.   
  • Myka Bering (of Warehouse 13) – Myka left her gig with the Warehouse at the end of last season following the debacle with H.G. Wells. But if you ask me, the empathy she showed for H.G.’s loss added a new dimension to her previously businesslike demeanor. But don’t get me wrong – I have always appreciated her focus on being the best agent she can be, and putting that before her personal feelings.
  • Pam Swynford De Beaufort (of True Blood) – Again, not the obvious choice, which would be Sookie Stackhouse. However, I just love Pam. Classy and ruthless, she is equally commanding in the pleather Fangtasia costumes as she is in her two-piece pink suits.

Dear Thursday TV,

Elena escaped the clutches of Elijah, but this is just the beginning.

This note is to thank you for an utterly satisfying evening.

First, you served up a fresh episode of The Vampire Diaries on The CW, complete with a brand new villain, Elijah (after all, Katherine needs to cool off in the tomb for at least an episode). Not just any villain, he’s a super sexy, seemingly invincible vampire with a seriously cruel streak. And you gave us a very bittersweet scene between Damon and Elena, a scene that we’ve been waiting for since these two met. Swoon. To top it off, you gave us a blossoming romance between Jeremy and Bonnie as well as a newfound bond between Caroline and Tyler.

Second, you gave us new episodes of 30 Rock and The Office. What can I say? If I had to pick my favorite character on TV, it would be Jack Donaghy. He needs DIHC, and he’ll take it any way he can get it.

Then, you served up one of the best episodes of Fringe to date. Olivia began what promises to be an arduous journey home, with Peter as her spirit guide. Nowhere is the expertise of the show’s writers more evident than in an episode like this – which seamlessly weaves together overarching mythology with a single-episode storyline. In this case, Olivia and the Fringe team investigate someone who broke out of the amber, only to find that twin brothers have pulled the classic switcheroo, thereby leading Olivia to consider the possibility that she has switched places with her doppelganger.

Lastly, you ended the night with a new episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I have yet to watch it, but I know it will be funny, so thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Your ever-devoted, Thursday-night, couch-potato friend, Andrea

Mea culpa and fall TV

Fringe is back for another great season, along with a host of other shows.

It’s been a long time, and I have to apologize for my absence from Remotely Entertaining. With a full lineup of fall TV, a tidal wave of work and more than a few social calls, it’s been tough to find time to write in the last couple weeks. Kudos to my co-blogger, Mark, for keeping things fresh.

Wow! What a fall lineup we have. Here’s what I’m loving:

  • Fringe – Every season seems better than the last. Last week’s premiere delved into Olivia’s predicament on the other side, and set the stage for another very interesting season. In interviews, I’ve heard the show’s writers say that they intend to fully develop the alternate characters, rather than simply setting them up as ne’er do well dopplegangers. Next week, I’m hoping for a good monster of the week, as this show does mythology and one-off episodes equally good.
  • 30 Rock – You’re my pube shirt. Enough said.
  • Boardwalk Empire – We all knew this would be great, and guess what? It is. From the excellent cast (particularly Steve Buscemi) to the directing and writing to the costumes and sets, this show is nothing short of enthralling. It’s no surprise that after one episode, it was picked up for a second season.
  • Dexter – To be sure, it was a depressing first hour of Dexter on Sunday. With Rita gone, Dexter is definitely off his game. Deb is trying to pick up the pieces whilst sleeping with Quinn (who is quite nice, I might add), and the kids are a wreck. From week to week, I can never predict where this show is going, but I’m on the edge of my seat the entire time I’m watching.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show hit the ground running, and the twist of Caroline becoming a vampire is a great one. Also, I love that Damon continues to be a bad guy and I was genuinely shocked when he snapped Jeremy’s neck in episode one. The werewolf element is also promising, and the show has a unique mythology related to its supernatural elements.

Like I said, there’s lot to watch right now. I also have a few new and returning shows that I’m not loving as much, but I’ll save that commentary for another post.

Fringe: An A+ season finale

William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) and Walter Bishop (John Noble) try to create a jam to keep the door between worlds open on last night’s season finale of Fringe.

Blerg! I am still reeling from the season finale of Fringe. I have been saying for two years that I wish Olivia and Peter would develop a romantic connection, and just when they finally reveal their feelings for each other, Olivia’s doppelganger pulls the classic switcheroo. And now the real Olivia is locked in a cell with Walternate as her wicked warden. BLERG!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this episode, and a good cliffhanger is an awesome way to end a season. I’m pretty sure that all Fringe fans were in nerd heaven the last two weeks with so much going on between the two worlds – I know I was. I just want more.

I was especially impressed by the development of William Bell’s character (played by Leonard Nimoy) in this episode. I remember an interview with Nimoy a few months ago in which he said if the role wasn’t beefed up, he wouldn’t be continuing it. Although I think last night may have been his final episode with the show, they definitely used it as an opportunity to humanize his character and resolve some long-standing issues in his relationship with Walter.

I was also glad that it wasn’t a “kiss and make-up” type of ending with Walter and Peter. They have a complicated relationship – they always have. And it would be unrealistic to easily forgive Walter’s transgressions. So it’s good that Peter is going to have to work through this betrayal on his own time. I think this relationship is the real heart of the show, and the moral tug-of-war between Walter’s mad scientist persona and his good-natured side continues to be intriguing.

I am curious if Olivia’s doppelganger is going to have a lengthy stay next season, or if Peter will figure it out right away. I sure hope he figures it out quick, but who knows how they are going to get back to the alternate universe without the real Olivia and the other cortexiphan kids. Blerg!

The end is nigh

Just a quick post to say that I am ridiculously excited for the season finales of Fringe and Vampire Diaries, and to share a couple other random TV thoughts.

Fringe’s finale is going to be a two-part episode, beginning tomorrow. Finally we get to see more than a glimmer of the alternate universe. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend checking out the extended trailer. It is completely nerdtastic.

Also airing tomorrow is the season finale of Vampire Diaries, which looks to be pretty juicy from the trailer. After last week’s revelation that Damon is in love with Elena, all bets are off.

I would talk about Lost, but well, my co-blogger Mark perfectly summed up my feelings. What a boring hour of TV that was.

The end of all these shows means one very awesome thing – True Blood is right around the corner. Did everyone see the latest minisode with Jessica? Did I mention that #waitingsucks?

Wanted: First two episodes of Justified

Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood hottie sheriff fame) plays the lead in Justified.

I’m always on the lookout for a good, new show to watch. Some of my favorites have been suggested by my co-blogger, Mark (he’s the one who pointed me in the direction of Fringe and Lost), and I also got a great suggestion from a couple of pals about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

This morning, I talked to my dad, who is also a great source of TV inspiration. We like a lot of the same things – Deadwood, The Office and 30 Rock, to name a few. He highly recommended Justified, which is in its first season on FX. I had heard buzz about this show, but was not really listening until my dad told me that Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood hottie sheriff fame, not my dad’s words, but that’s how I know him) is the lead.

So now I’m really interested, but in a bit of a pickle. The first season is airing right now (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.), so it’s not on DVD yet. So I turned to the Web, but the FX site and Hulu don’t have the first two episodes. What’s a girl to do in this situation? I don’t want to start watching it mid-season and miss the important stuff from the initial episodes, but I don’t want to wait until it is on DVD either. Any suggestions?

Does anyone else watch Justified? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

COPS: transvestites, mullets and mustaches

I will preface this by saying that unlike my co-blogger, Mark, I have no problem with a little trash TV. In fact, some may say I relish it.

Case in point, I watched a glorious episode of COPS last night. It was an oldie, but a goodie – you know, the kind of episode where all the officers have regulation mustaches and standard issue eyeglasses. They pull up to a domestic disturbance call, and knock on the door of a grimy hotel. Out walks a lovely transvestite with a golden mane of locks.

It turns out this is not actually the perp (pretty good cop lingo, yes?). Rather it’s the perp’s roommate. So the cops leave the hotel in search of a white male, 6’1,” in a black dress, who is accused of ripping off a guy with a large black mullet shaved nice and close on the sides. Of course, this bodacious mullet man had no idea he was in the company of a cross-dresser.

The cops get lucky at the local liquor establishment (quite a classy looking place, I might add), where the aforementioned male in black dress is having a night cap. Believe me when I say that this guy makes Tim Curry look like Megan Fox. A short, but to-the-point round of questions reveals that he/she has also been arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, prostitution, jaywalking and theft (what I like to think of as the Greatest Hits of White Trash).

The officer doing the pat down comments, “This is the worst part of the job,” and the episode ends with this comment: “Take her down to the station and fingerprint him.”