Everything Looks Perfect From Far Away

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So I embarked on a love affair with a cardigan. It all started in November when I saw it winking at me from the shop window. I mean really, it had sequins. White with silver sequins on the shoulders. It was going to be the key feature of my Christmas outfit and it would go perfectly with my black dresses. I’d wear it to work on Christmas Eve and be all “oh this old thing” as opposed to “I have been planning this outfit in my head for weeks, please don’t judge me.” In fact it was going to pull double duty and make an appearance at Christmas dinner too.

Everyone else seems to be doing the Christmas jumper thing, it’s “in” apparently, but not me sir, no, I am rocking the Christmas CARDIGAN. Spreading the cheer as my sequins shimmer and sparkle. Just the right amount of glitter.

It took me a while before I had time to purchase it. I passed it daily on the bus to work, I could check on it, but then one day it was gone from the window! Had it sold out? Of course it had, it was perfect! But then on Christmas Eve I summoned my remaining ounce of hope: maybe they just changed the display, perhaps they still had one, surely it would be a Christmas miracle; Tiny Tim would probably wipe a tear from his eye. So I went to the shop and what do you know they still one and it was my size! It was meant to be! Here finally was the moment I’d been waiting for, I got to the dressing room, pulled the curtain shut, tried it on, turned to face the mirror and it was… it was…  terrible. It did not fit in any way. There was all this excess material and the sleeves, the sleeves! These sleeves are for people with crazy ridiculous long arms. These people do not exist. I mean they were so long that only this guy would fit it and I’m not sure it’s really his style. Image Probably clash with his hat.

Maybe he could lend it to this lady?

ImageBecause of my lack of cartoon arms, suddenly I had no Christmas cardie. Maybe Tiny Tim would weep now.

So I write this for everyone who ever looked at a “perfect” piece of clothing in a shop display or a magazine and fantasized about it for weeks and weeks and then “… this material looked different from a distance… it’s meant to be worn like what… and this would fit who exactly… but it looked so good in Cosmo… ” What can I say, I feel ya. You are not alone.

I want you to know I’m ok though, I moved on with my new Christmas JUMPER! What? They’re in…

(The title for this blog comes from a lyric from The Postal Service track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wrsZog8qXg )

The pilot of Bunheads hasn’t even aired yet on ABC Family, only streamed online early for free, but already people have been expressing mild concerns about the way the episode ended. Some are surprised, others disappointed and then there are those who’re worried about what this means for tone of the show. I was relieved. There was only thing that really irked me about the episode: Hubbell. So when we learnt in the last few minutes of the series premiere that he had been killed in a car accident, I felt a lot more confident in the direction this show was going.

Hubbell was really only necessary to get Michelle to Paradise. The two didn’t have much (if any) chemistry and I couldn’t imagine myself getting excited by, or investing in, this relationship throughout the course of the show. The whole pilot I was wondering what the writers were going to do with the character. Yes, he’s sweet, but he’s also a bit of square and not a good fit for her.  I could understand why Hubbell was attracted to a gal like Michelle who is beautiful, talented, confident and strong. I could also see why she accepted his proposal as her ticket out of Vegas. It was an opportunity to get away from a crappy apartment, a job she no longer cared for, and a chance to forget that failed audition for her dream job. But in the long term was their relationship really ever going to work? Was it going to be engaging enough to keep me interested? And I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help wonder, where was Michelle’s Luke Danes or Max Medina? Then the ending happened and I was like “aha!”

“There’s a plot development late in the pilot that seems tonally at odds with everything that’s happened to that point. It suggests either a very different kind of series going forward, or one that’s going to have to work very hard to get back to the light quality of the earlier scenes.” – Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.com

The above quote expresses how several viewers have felt about the reveal at the end of the pilot. However, I’m not worried at all. I think the show will still be light and fun, I can’t imagine Hubbell’s death will affect the tone that severely. What it might do is allow Fanny and Michelle to bond or grow closer due to his death… naaaah! More likely I think it could undo the progress they made at the bar and it’ll help keep the tension between those two. And we want that tension because seeing these two ladies spar and go head to head? Now that is what I want to watch! Let’s not forget Michelle confessed to Fanny she didn’t love Hubbell and while she might have seemingly accepted that, after his death her feelings may be quite different.

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It also opens up the prospect for a new romantic lead for Michelle. I think that’d be interesting to explore, in terms of how Fanny, Truly, and all those who loved Hubbell, will react to the possibility of Michelle entering into another relationship. It provides the opportunity for a better leading man – no disrespect to Alan Ruck as he played the character as he was supposed to – someone perhaps who can really go toe to toe with Michelle. Not that I think Michelle needs to fall straight into a relationship or that we’ll see that right away. I think Hubbell caught her when she was feeling her worst, but I think she’s really one fiery and independent lady. I’m cool with seeing her go it alone too. I’m just glad Hubbell’s out of the picture.

(Inspiration for this blog’s title: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgrP6fzGKjg Better Off Without by Summer Camp)

Let ABC take you to Nashville…

Here is the trailer for ABC’s new show “Nashville”:

 

It looks a little ok maybe a lot like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Country Strong”, except this looks, you know, actually like it could be good. It may appear a little soapy, but it’s enough of  a teaser to interest me in giving this show a try.

I have to give fair warning though in that I am predisposed to like this show. It stars Connie freakin’ Britton, y’all. She is a terrific actress (most recently seen in “American Horror Story”, but beloved for her role in “Friday Night Lights” and rightly so too), and I’d like to believe she makes smart choices. So if she saw something good in the script, in the show, there’s a good chance I will too. I’m also a starved Country music fan (unfortunately Country is not a big deal in the UK or even a deal) so that aspect of “Nashville” really appeals to me.

As well as Connie Britton (who plays Rayna James on the show) “Nashville” also stars Eric Close (“Without A Trace”) and “Heroes” alum Hayden Panettiere. Save the cheerleader  Let the Country starlet open for you, save the world Connie’s character’s  music career.

Also did you notice that good looking fellow that Hayden’s character (Juliette) bumps into is Jonathan Jackson? Ever seen “Tuck Everlasting” with him and Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”) and cry like a baby at the end? No? Just me then.

(This entries’ title thanks to Jason Aldean’s ‘Crazy Town': http://youtu.be/EAvfm0vpXQs)

Upfronts – Part Deux.

Top TV picks from NBC and Fox upfronts.

Here are the trailers for two new shows I mentioned in the first part (Read Upfronts – Part Une Now) of this blog:

NBC’s “Revolution”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwfCRAtkYEI

Have we ever seen a J.J. Abrams project without mystery being a huge element other than maybe Felicity? Whatever, I’m in! Abrams’ previous credits include Alcatraz, Fringe, Lost, Alias, Cloverfield and Super 8 to name but a few. J.J. hearts mysteries.

In this case the big mystery involves the complete loss of electricity throwing the world into chaos. The questions here being why, how and who and can it be fixed? Also: this advert contains sword fighting so it’s kinda an automatic win in my book.

Featuring in the cast are Billy Burke (Twilight), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Andrea Roth (Ringer) to name a few.

FOX’s “The Following”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8H4ewQzKFM

I dare you not to jump at THAT moment, which is perhaps a little reminisant of a scene you could find in any of The Scream films – both The Following and Scream are Kevin Williamson projects. Kevin also developed “The Vampire Diaries” for The CW which is currently the networks’ highest rated program.

“The Following” stars Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent tracking a serial killer whose violent acts have inspired a cult of followers.

The Following also stars Lost alum Maggie Grace (recently seen on the silver-screen in Taken), James Purefoy (who recently appeared as the artist sexing it up with Madeline Stowe on ABC’s Revenge) and, worth mentioning twice, Kevin freaking Bacon (recognisable from being Kevin freaking Bacon!)

The show’s concept may not be an entirely new idea, we’ve seen the begrudging retired FBI agent or ex-cop lured or forced back into action before by a connection to a previous big case. However, this is a storyline that’s more often seen in film or focused on for a couple of television episodes in a season rather than being the overall concept of the program itself. It’s certainly a great trailer and I’m excited to see what the pilot will be like.

I am, of course, already a little cynical about how both programs will sustain these concepts for more than one season. However, for now let’s just enjoy these trailers for what they are; a little teaser of what’s to come.

There are still more trailers to be released from networks such as ABC and The CW so stay tuned!

Upfront – Part Une

Upfronts is one of my favourite times in the TV year. It’s the time when we get to see clips and trailers for the new series’ debuting in the autumn or that’ll be airing mid-season. Here we can start to decide which one might become our favourite new show or which could be the next breakout hit. It’s an exciting time as a fresh crop of shows and talent are being announced and introduced.

However, it’s now that we learn which shows have been renewed and which have been cancelled (goodbye Secret Circle, screw you CW! *sniffs*) Just a few days ago the final Desperate Housewives episode aired and, while it may have run out a steam towards the end, it certainly had a great run. It came out in 2005 which was a great year for new shows and television in general. It was the year that we got Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and, the gone too soon, Veronica Mars – again, screw you CW!

It’ll be interesting to see what this year brings. If we’ve learnt anything from some of the shows that didn’t make it, it’s that being compared to shows from that era can perhaps be part of your downfall. Lots of new series’ have tried to be the next Lost with a big mystery element like the cancelled The Event. Then there’s GCB (previously known as Good Christian Bitches… and then Good Christian Belles and then GCB… Zzzzz, are you keeping up?) The soapy and sudsy GCB was marketed or suggested to be a Southern Desperate Housewives, but it never lived up to those standards and has been quickly axed from ABC’s schedule.

What I like about the two adverts for The Following and Revolution (I will discuss these in the next blog) is that they both look like movie trailers; much like the trailer for NBC’s ill-fated Awake* did last upfronts or for past shows such as Lost and Heroes. I find that exciting. People so often look down their nose at television as if it’s film’s less talented kid sister, but TV has come, and continues to come, a long way.

They can now do a lot of what we see in movies on TV and even better they can do things you don’t have time for in film. In a movie you spend maybe an hour and half with the characters (unless there’s a crappy sequel), but with a show you get to hang out with these people every week for an hour or a half, for weeks, months, years. Perhaps for 3 years or 7 or 10. You get to watch these people grow and change. Their relationships blossom or fall apart. Go on a journey with them. That is my favourite part of TV: being able to completely invest in the characters, their world, their friendships and relationships and watching all those things evolve over the years. That is something film just doesn’t really have the time to do to the same degree and that’s one thing that make’s TV really special.

Read Upfronts – Part Deux now.

*I loved last year’s movie quality trailer for NBC’s Awake and while I liked the show, and its lead Jason Isaacs, for me it never quite lived up to what was shown there. It’ll be interesting to see if my instincts are better this time and if these new shows deliver on what these clips promise.

‘You are the first one of your kind, and you feel like no-one before…’

When Klaus killed Jenna I was the first in line, behind Elena of course, to quite happily see him staked with a big ol’ hunk of white oak. Yet here we are, with two episodes to go before the finale, and now I’m desperate to see him survive. That is one of the greatest thrills of the show, it takes everything you think you know, and feel, and then flips it on its side. Just when you’re convinced they’re going to go one way they take the opposite route. These writers know how to continually shock and surprise their audience and better still they make it look easy.

To name but a few crimes: Klaus murdered Aunt Jenna, used Elena as his personal blood bank to create an army of hybrids and drove Stefan to his darkest self. Yet as we draw nearer to the finale I’m biting my nails nervously worrying what his fate will be. And it’s not solely because Joseph Morgan is madly charming and charismatic in this role (though, isn’t he just?) but the writers have really taken the time to explore the character. Now we understand Klaus, relate to him, even sympathise with him because ultimately, thousand year old vampire or not, he knows what it is to feel human, to feel truly alone.

I guess what I’m saying is I’m glad they allowed him to be more than just the bad guy. He’s a murderer with a sensitive side… he’s an artiste, don’t you know and he likes horses too! But seriously, he’s become one of the best characters on the show, more than a villain, more than a man with a maniacal laugh or a baddie twisting his moustache. We’ve been able to explore his motivations, understand what’s led him to this point and now we find we care.

And it’s not just Klaus that we care about, it’s Rebekah too. The Original who, just a few weeks ago, tried to off Elena. Yet she is also the girl who wants to be liked, to be loved, to feel wanted and ultimately just to live. I mean really live and experience it all, to finally stop running. And if it didn’t break your heart just a little when she told Esther ‘But I haven’t lived at all!’ then I’m sorry, but you may be a robot. I haven’t even touched on fan favourite, the so-called “moral Original” Elijah, but you can be sure I’m not ready to lose him either.

Over all this season has reminded us that it is never as black and white as good versus evil or heroes against villains. There is good and bad in everyone; never has this been clearer than in the Salvatore brothers. This year we have seen the darkness in Stefan and a witnessed a softer side of Damon, making these characters much more complex and compelling individuals.

I’m not saying the writers are doing anything radically different, but what they’re doing, they’re doing well. They’re not afraid to take risks, and break the rules sometimes, and the show flourishes because of that. When you’ve watched a lot of shows of this genre you begin to expect certain patterns in the storyline and things can often become a little predictable. I’m very much used to the Buffy method: expect a “big bad” or an obstacle to be introduced in the beginning of the season and by the finale this obstacle will be overcome or the villain destroyed. That’s never really been the exact formula The Vampire Diaries has followed. The show constantly subverts audience expectations, even when it comes to its baddies. Exhibit A: Mikael. I thought Papa Original was going to be around a lot longer. He could’ve been a big threat to our favourite Mystic Falls residents. He certainly had the potential to be a formidable enemy, however, he was killed very quickly, perhaps even a little too hastily. As for Klaus I still can’t decide (someone make me a pro and con list Rory Gilmore style, stat!) whether it would be better for the show to kill him or keep him.

However, I admit that for a while I just assumed this season was leading up to his downfall. Now I’m not so sure what the writers are going to do. I know I’m not quite ready to let go of Klaus yet – love to hate him and hate to love him. In fact many fans have found themselves rooting for him or Rebekah or Elijah, or all three (Four? Do we care about Kol?) siblings. Normally we’re told exactly who to champion: the heroes of the piece, the Elena’s and the Bonnie’s of the TV world. However, in this case, we’re genuinely conflicted as to who should live or die. The fact that some of the Mikaelson’s, as well as Team Elena,  might not survive the season makes for a much more climatic outcome and paves the way for an ending with a big emotional payoff. I’ll be truly sorry to say goodbye to any of the Original family (Ok, ok! I didn’t lose too much sleep over Finn…) and that is a testament to the wonderful writing of these characters and the terrific actors who inhabit their roles.

I never expected to find myself rooting for the Mikaelson family, but that’s what I love the most about The Vampire Diaries. It’s finding yourself surprised by a character or the twists and turns in the storytelling. That’s what keeps me coming back for more. A series that on many occasions has caused me to exhibit embarrassing behaviour, namely flailing my arms around in shock and often shouting “TWIST!” – usually as a reaction to the last 15 seconds of any episode. As we build up to the series finale I’m expecting there’s only more of that to come and I can’t wait. Bring it on Vampire Diaries!

P.S. I almost titled this post ‘my gush fest over the Originals and how awesome this show is’, but instead I went for a U2 song. So there ya go.

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