Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heroes: I've Got To Admit It's Getting Better, It's Getting Better All The Time

I know when I first started this blog, I really ragged on Heroes in comparing it to Smallville and I still maintain the fact that Smallville in its Ninth Season is much more consistent in quality than Heroes. However, I cannot get up on my soapbox without admitting that Heroes is getting better. If you haven't followed Heroes, it's a show that has had a strange past based on the show having the best first season in maybe all of Television history even getting an Emmy nomination for best drama. Then the Writers Strike hit causing Heroes to ride off the rails on a crazy train in it's 3rd season with the introduction of a new villain played by Robert Forster that had lines which made him sound like the Wicked Witch of the West and the use of plot lines so chocked full of characters that it could cause your mind to explode.
Robert Forster as baddie Arthur Petrelli who will get you my Heroes and your powers too

In the second half of this season Heroes became less complicated by the show going back to the character-driven stories that made the first season popular from the start. Although, the decision to have one of the Heroes use his mental abilities to permanently brainwash the shows main villain Sylar to shape-shift into and believe he is Nathan Petrelli a Hero who was killed during the 3rd season finale still left a bad taste in my mouth about the show.

The guy on the left is now the guy on the right? That's seriously confusing.

With the current fourth season Heroes the show seems to be getting better for one of two reasons. The first reason which was given to me by a friend of mine is the fact that Heroes has been so bad for such a long period of time that our expectations have been lowered to the point where the show appears as good. However with being an optimist, I want to go with the second reason which is the writers of the show finally realizing that Heroes is a drama about people who happen to have superpowers rather than an epic race to save the world. This has been proven by the introduction of a story line about a deaf woman named Emma whose manifesting powers and interactions with the other Heroes on the show have been used as a plot device to get her to take on the challenges caused by her disability.
Emma using her power to convert sound into physical force

The writers have also realized that Heroes is about people who have superpowers through the addition of a new villain named Samuel played wonderfully by Robert Knepper that is like the X-Men character Magneto in the sense that he wants the Heroes a.k.a people with superpowers to have a place in the world but he goes about it in the wrong way.
Robert Knepper as the villainous Samuel

Despite these great storytelling decisions Heroes still has some bumps in the road with this season's arc including continuing the plot line of Sylar being transformed into Nathan and having fan favorite character Hiro travel back in time to undo a decision he made in the first season but these more unfavorable story threads including a few from the past are being phased out by what currently seems to be character deaths in order to establish Peter Petrelli as the show's protagonist surrounded by a cast of supporting Heroes.
Peter Petrelli wielding the blue lightning, standing in front of the cast of supporting characters

Normally, character deaths bother me but in the case of Heroes, I don't mind them as long they are a step towards making the show compelling like it was in the first season. With all that being said, even though this post is helping me assure myself I am still bracing myself for the show to disappoint me like the second half of season three where it became good again only to let me down with Sylar being transformed into Nathan. However, if Heroes remains on its present course, it will keep me watching and maybe avoid the threat of cancellation.

Check out Heroes Mondays at 8/7c on NBC or online and I strongly recommend checking out the first season on DVD.

Sons of Anarchy: It's Born To Be Wild

A show that I have really been enjoying during my TV watching week is Sons of Anarchy. If you haven't seen it Sons of Anarchy is a show about a gang of Bikers on the wrong side of the law who act as vigilantes in the small town of Charming, California taking on gang bangers, drug dealers and ATF Agents. With this being said you may think Sons of Anarchy is The Sopranos with Bikers but in my opinion this show is much more badass and it draws it roots from something much older which is Shakespeare's Hamlet. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy but the show's protagonist Jax Teller, the Vice President of the Biker gang is Hamlet complete with the ghost of his Father haunting him and a Stepfather who has taken over his Father's kingdom. However for this story to fit into the realistic world of a Biker gang the ghost of Jax's Father exists in the form of a manuscript in which he explains how the gang fell from grace and Jax's Stepfather is the President of the Biker gang, Clay Morrow who you don't want to mess with in a dark alley.

To be or not to be? That's the question these guys have got to ask themselves

Even though the concept of Sons of Anarchy being a modern day retelling of Hamlet is interesting, it's not the reason why I am compelled to watch the show every week, its the Bikers themselves. I don't know if it is the sense of brotherhood that exists between them, their dark sense of humor or their love of riding on the open road but the show does a great job of making the Bikers which should be seen as bad guys come across as heroes that I can't help but watch every week in order to root them on.
The members of the Sons of Anarchy, from counterclockwise Clay, Tig, Jax, Bobby, Chibs, Opie and Kip a.k.a. The Prospect

At the same time, I cannot look past the show's raw, in your face feel fueled by an action-packed war between the Bikers and a group of Women raping White Supremacists because the fact it that just keeps going from bad to worse gives me a strong desire to watch the show just to see these Supremacists get what's coming to them.
Adam Arkin as White Supremacist Ethan Zobelle

Although, what made Sons of Anarchy gold was at least in my eyes was the end of the most recent episode where a revelation is made that stemmed an unbelievable performance from Charlie Hunnam which gave myself along with the rest of the audience watching the show a deep look into the heart and soul of a Biker that might allow Sons of Anarchy to upstage Mad Men for Best Drama at the Emmys. We'll just have to wait and see but for now check out Sons of Anarchy for an incredibly driven and engaging Television experience.

Watch Sons of Anarchy Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX or online
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Supernatural Pokes Fun At The Competition

Supernatural is filmed in front of a live studio audience, wait that isn't right

I don't know how many of you that read this blog watch the hour long Drama, Supernatural but if you are an avid TV watcher or think it has become too commercial (yes I am talking to you, Jeff Schiff in a nice way) you need to check out the most recent episode of the show entitled Changing Channels. In this episode my favorite Demon/Ghost Hunters Sam and Dean Winchester are lured in to the world that exists on your Television screen by a reoccurring villain named The Trickster where they are forced to parody TV Shows in order to survive.
The Trickster, a Supernatural fan's favorite troublemaker

When it comes to parodying TV Shows, the writer of this episode did not hold back making fun of the competitors in Supernatural's time-slot through a Grey's Anatomy spoof complete with sappy music knocked off from The Fray and Female Interns slapping Male Doctors. This episode also parodies Supernatural's other competitor CSI with the character who I believe to be the biggest hardass on TV, Dean Winchester comically bashing David Caruso for his portrayal of Investigator Horatio Caine. However the writer of this episode doesn't stop with CSI and Grey's Anatomy, he also pokes fun at many types of Television Genres including commercials.

Sam and Dean Winchester as Doctors in a Grey's Anatomy spoof and Police Investigators in a CSI spoof.

The other great thing about this episode besides the parody is the fact that the creators of Supernatural did not see Changing Channels as an excuse to run wild in their potential final season they actually connected it to the show's overall story arc with a revelation about Sam and Dean that pertains to the season or series finale that may get the one time watchers who only turned on this episode for the parodies, hooked on Supernatural. With this last point I am going to stop with my discussion of this episode here because it was so good at least in my opinion that it should be able to speak for itself, which is a nice way of me saying drop everything you are doing and watch this episode, its well worth it.

Check out the Supernatural episode Changing Channels here and watch Supernatural Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

Have The Vs Arrived In Your Home?

Recently I watched the Pilot for the new alien invasion drama V and it proved the show is all about symbolism especially since the first five minutes included a crucifix in a church being shattered as the Aliens' spaceships enter the Earth's atmosphere. Through using this powerful image the creators of V set the stage for the people of Earth in their fictional universe to see the Aliens or Vs which they are called on the show as Christ-like figures or saviors that will provide them with technology to resolve the financial crisis.

Clip of the Vs arriving on Earth

Although in reality the Vs plan on annihilating the Human race through providing their own Universal Health Care System ah la Soylent Green which is intended to execute the World's population. However according to the show's backstory the Vs aren't just showing up and dumping Universal Health Care on the Humans, instead the Vs have brought them to the point of needing Universal Health Care by setting up Terrorist Sleeper Cells years before their arrival on Earth. In other words that means the show's creators have the Vs behind every global issue from September 11th to the financial crisis to justify why the Human race see the Vs as their saviors.
The Vs were fictionally behind these events? Watch to find out

With that being said some of you may roll your eyes at the concept of the Taliban being Aliens but despite this I still found V highly compelling. I don't know if it was the idea of a Priest fighting Aliens, Morena Baccarin being frightfully evil as the Vs leader Anna, the fact that any Human can be a V or just trying to figure out how the Human race can get out of this mess, the Pilot of V had me at the edge of my seat and I think it will be that way with every episode.

Morena Baccarin as Anna and Joel Gretsch as Father Jack Landry on V

Based on this statement I would love to go into more detail about why I like V but I fear it would give something away so if you want a better grasp of what I am talking about I would recommend you to go ahead and watch the show.

For kicks and giggles watch this clip of the controversial Alien birth scene from the original V just watch it at your own risk because it's kinda freaky.

Check out V Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC or online.
Monday, November 2, 2009

A Halloween Post: Scooby-Doo Where Are You?

Check this out for a trip down memory lane

A show that I used to watch a lot when I was a kid was the classic cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? If you haven't seen it or need a trip back down memory lane the show is about a group of meddling kids and their talking dog Scooby-Doo who go around solving mysteries and I absolutely loved it. I don't know if it was the idea of driving around in a van with orange flowers painted on it called the Mystery Machine, finding out who was underneath the mask of the monster that chased Scooby and the gang around in each episode, the chase sequences accompanied by a Beatles knock off band or Shaggy and Scooby's Three Stooges like antics, I had to watch Scooby-Doo before I went to school.

From left to right the Scooby Gang, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, Fred and Scooby-Doo

Today, watching Scooby-Doo makes me realize that a strong case could be made that the Scooby Gang or Mystery Inc. are a bunch of Stoners and the man in the monster costume who chased them around in every episode is a product of tripping out on drugs due to the fact Shaggy and Scooby have the munchies all the time.

What exactly are in these Scooby Snacks?

However despite my outlandish theory, I still have respect for this show not because of the fact that Scooby-Doo movies, toys and episodes are still being made 40 years later, instead I have respect for Scooby-Doo Where Are You because it was one of the first Television shows to combine Horror with other genres such as Comedy and Mystery. Based on this information if it was not for Scooby-Doo and certain TV Show Creators watching it as a kid there is a strong possibility that shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Supernatural, The X-Files and Fringe that blend Horror with other genres may have never come into existence. In fact the creators of Buffy The Vampire Slayer give a nod to Scooby-Doo inspiring their series by Buffy and her friends who battle the supernatural forces of evil referring to themselves as the Scooby Gang.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Scooby-Doo character Daphne Blake

The bottom line that I am getting at is whether you love it, hate it or respect it Scooby-Doo Where Are You is apart of our culture and if it still exists today after 40 years it will still influence all types of media for many generations to come. Experience Scooby-Doo's influence through this clip...

Check out Scooby-Doo Where Are You the Complete Series on DVD or check it out online.

A Halloween Post: The Buffyverse

With last Saturday being Halloween I thought I would use this weeks posts to discuss Horror-Themed TV shows. One of the shows in this genre that first came to mind is Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel. These shows which make up what fans call the Buffyverse contains all the blood, haunted houses and the grotesque monsters that you would expect to see on a show about Vampires. However these elements of Horror are not the catalysts for the events that occur in this universe, instead the honor goes to the story of a High School Girl growing up and dealing with sacrificing the Vampire she loves in order to take her place as the Vampire Slayer empowered to save the world. Buffy at its heart is a story about growing up because the battle between Buffy and the creatures that go bump in the night featured in every episode acts as a metaphor for everyday issues that teenagers face including under aged drinking, being popular and puberty.
Buffy and her love interest Angel

One of my favorite episodes entitled "Innocence" deals with the dangers of having sex in a way that would blow your High School Health Teacher out of the water. Joss Whedon the writer of the episode deals with this issue beautifully by Buffy having sex with Angel which causes him to lose his soul, thus changing the heroic Vampire into a creature of evil named Angelus. Through having Buffy make the decision to sleep with Angel, Whedon shares with his audience the consequences a teenaged girl may have to face after having sex pushed to the extreme with a battle between good, Buffy and evil, Angelus filled with teenaged angst that ends with a classic romantic tragedy. At the same time the shows theme of social issues wrapped around supernatural forces doesn't just stop with Buffy, it addresses her friends that are based on a variety of High School Stereotypes as well. For example, Season Six of the show Buffy's friend Willow, an overachieving student cracks underneath the pressures of College causing her to become addicted to performing black magic like it is a drug.
The characters of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. In the front from left to right Xander (the class clown), Cordelia (the rich popular girl), Buffy (a teenaged Vampire Slayer), Willow (an overachieving student) and Oz (who's version of puberty is changing into a Werewolf). In the back, Giles (a fired Librarian going through a mid-life crisis) and Angel (A Vampire with a soul).

The spin-off of Buffy, Angel which deals with the title character leaving Buffy for Los Angeles due to his guilt over the actions he preformed as Angelus, takes this a step farther by dealing with supernatural forces that act as metaphors for adult issues such as rape, gang violence and suicide. On a personal level, this idea of wrapping a battle against supernatural evil around real life issues is why I enjoy stories that exist in the Buffyverse because if the characters on Buffy and Angel can deal with social issues pushed to the extremes of fantasy, then my problems in the real world are a piece of cake. I guess that's the interesting part of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel for me because I don't see the shows as something made to scare me, instead I see them as a gift in which Joss Whedon and his team of writers share advice with their audience on how to deal with the trials and tribulations of life.

For more on Buffy's influence on our culture look at this video clip.

Check out Buffy The Vampire Slayer Seasons 1-7 on DVD or watch it online.

Check out Angel Seasons 1-5 on DVD