Welcome to the fourth and final installment of OCTV’s mid-year wrap up, where Nicole and SB go over what they’ve been watching all year and take a step back to look at the seasons (or the seasons so far) as a whole. If you missed part one, you can find it here, part two is here, and part three is here. Gifs are generously rounded up by hockeybychoice, and as always, Nicole’s thoughts are in purple and SB’s are in blue. Enjoy and be sure to comment!
The Vampire Diaries
I am still loving this show (even if I’m less enthralled with Damon than I used to be). It continues to be excellent at managing a million things at once, even if sometimes that means that we don’t get to see certain people for weeks at a time (miss ya, Jeremy!). I love love love Ripper Stefan and the entire Klaus and Rebekah story arc, and I’m intrigued by Katherine’s place in everything. As per usual, the love story of poor, wounded Elena is the least interesting thing to me – the second a guy gets with her he turns into someone I don’t give a shit about. She is excellent at making people boring by association. That’s not a knock on The Dobrev because she is the opposite with Katherine, but Elena is room temperature vanilla pudding compared to Katherine’s…something exciting that they would make on Top Chef, like flaming spicy chocolate ganache, I don’t know. Anyway, the show continues to be a thumbs way up for me, but I’ll let SB get into it since she’s OCTV’s TVD master and I know y’all want to hear from her.
Ooooh, TVD MASTER? Well, I don’t know about that, but I have been spending a lot of time with TVD lately, as I recently wrote a Top Three Moments of Season Three (So Far) post for vampire-diaries.net, which is seriously the best fansite I’ve ever seen for anything (no exaggeration), which can be found here.
I am LOVING this season. I had some serious issues with season two (namely, Rose and trying to cram too much in), but I think this season has been pretty great. They slowed the pace down a bit, gave us a better idea of the general time frame of the show (two seasons equals a year), sent the kids back to high school (!!!), and turned the show’s sweetest remorseful bunny-killing vampire into a shockingly scary sidekick to a sociopath (holy god, the alliteration!). The show is really functioning at its best this season, because there are several stories going on at once, but they’re all overlapping each other just enough.
And you know what else is pretty incredible? That with an already large cast with a lot going on, that the show has managed to add in the Originals without it feeling like anyone is being cheated out of story time. That takes a deft hand. And oh GOD, you guys, the talent levels on this show–I can’t even handle it. I mean for REAL–just think about the crying or almost crying scenes ALONE, JUST this season! Stefan calling Elena. Rebekah in front of the mirror. Caroline when Tyler left angry. Matt letting go of Vicki. Bonnie holding Grams’ hand as she disappeared. Anna and Pearl’s reunion. Klaus’ Single Perfect Man Tear™?!?!? Geez, you guys, and that is all in like nine episodes and without Sara Canning, who was a fucking all-star crier!
Anyway, I kind of took a detour there, but all of this to say that I’ve been really happy with this season and how it’s all been working together. I’ve enjoyed the Damon and Elena slow burn, even as I feel the Stefan pain, and Caroline and Tyler are pretty much ripping my heart out. The ghost episode was so fun, Simon Camden bled from his eyeballs (delightfully gross, and also wonderful inspiration for my Halloween zombie makeup), and I love the new Buffyication of Elena. It feels weird to say that a season that’s already been so fab has promise, but I feel like it really does, like everything up to this, while it’s there have been payoffs all along, is really leading up to some like massive event of awesomeness. Of course, said massive event is probably going to ultimately end up being me having a heart attack, but that’s just how I assume every season of TVD will end, from now until eternity.
The Secret Circle
SB and I did a WHOLE ENTIRE post about this show, which you can read here, so we’re not going to bore you with even more TSC rambling.
Well, if I believe what I see on Twitter, I’m the only one loving this season of Supernatural, but I really think it’s been good. Listen–I know last season wasn’t the best. I think that the audience had some serious doubts about how on EARTH you can follow up the apocalypse, and I don’t think the show really knew either. My opinion was that they should’ve just extended that storyline from S5 into S6 (why rush the apocalypse, ya know?), but instead they wrapped it up and gave us soulless Sam and a bizarre hodgepodge of somewhat bad guys. As I said at the end of the last season, I thought S6 really ended well and by the time it was done, I could see what they were trying to do, and I think it was an ambitious attempt that didn’t really go well, but I’m still curious to see how it plays out watching it on DVD. I think that it’ll probably translate a little better.
But this isn’t about last season, it’s about this season. I feel like this season has been better than last–it feels like there’s more direction, and the leviathans are a more focused nemesis and a more definite goal, which I think this show needs. I’ve enjoyed the more monster of the week type of stories, but I don’t feel like it’s just re-treading old ground either. I feel like the show has started to explore the serious question of what happens to hunters as the years go on, as they get tired and aren’t so young anymore? And I think it’s done that really well. Dean has all but given up and is probably always moments away from suicide, Sam is constantly pressing on his hand to determine whether or not he’s actually in hell, and goddammit, has there just been constant devastating, gut-wrenching loss, or WHAT? You guys, that last episode with Bobby made me actually cry real tears for REAL, and that’s not something I usually do at TV. It was beautiful and perfect. I love the story that they’re telling, and I really can’t understand what everyone is pissing and moaning about with this season, you know? I think it’s been incredible. The acting has been as fantastic as it always has been (and maybe moreso), I’ve enjoyed the writing, there’s been just enough humor, and for a show in its seventh season, the story has been remarkably fresh. And I love the realistic and compelling drama of “what now?”, which I think they’re handling so wonderfully.
I don’t know what it is about this show, and its fandom, but I kind of feel like a lot of the fans (and a couple of critics) feel an unreasonable amount of ownership over it. This season especially has felt to me like people have become so convinced of what THEY think needs to happen, that if it doesn’t go their way (particularly, the loss of Castiel) then the show is terrible, and it’s just not true. I mean, of course it isn’t perfect and of course there are legitimate complaints, but I feel like in most cases, if people would just chill out about TV and enjoy it as it comes, rather than think they know best, they’d probably end up liking it a lot more. But that’s just my two cents.
Since I’ve been covering SPN all season, I feel like I’ve already said so much about the show. However I will reiterate that I think this season is FAR better than the last one was and the reason is that the storyline is so much more coherent. Last year the Big Bad changed practically on a weekly basis. It might be the kind of season that plays better on DVD than watching it week to week, but the whole thing just felt disjointed to me. [Are SB and I on the same page or what? I wrote this before reading her entry. We’re so N’Sync.]
This year, we have a great Big Bad in Big Dick Roman and the leviathan crew, and we’ve also suffered some big losses. I was really sad to see Cas go (or DID he?) and the recent loss of Bobby was a shock to the system. But, it’s one that I think will be great for the show – what better way to shake up the boys’ world than by taking away the one constant in their lives? Without Bobby, they’ll be totally on their own and they’ll also be forced to think about their futures. Like SB said above, this season of SPN is exploring the idea of what a long-term plan looks like for a hunter, and Bobby’s death will force the boys to confront that for themselves.
It’s been an emotional run, but it’s also been a shitload of fun, and what more can we ask from this show? Big emotion and big humor are SPN’s two biggest strengths, and they’ve handled both beautifully this season. As for the never-happy superfans, fuck ‘em. Listen – I was as big a Cas fan as anyone. I thought he was hilarious, and also a great sounding board for the brothers, Dean in particular. If his death remains permanent, I’ll miss him, but it won’t taint my enjoyment of the show. Unlike some psychotic freaks, I don’t like to treat television shows like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, nor do I like to issue ultimatums (except for Glee, in which case my ultimatum is simple – stop being such a piece of shit, or I will stop watching – which I think is fair). If you hinge your appreciation of a show on one specific element, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, and you also make reading comment sections tedious and goddamn annoying.
The first half of this season has set things up so well – while I know what the ultimate goal is (taking down Dick), I have no idea how they’re going to get there, especially without anyone to help them, and with their grief weighing them down. I can’t wait to see how it plays out, and we don’t have long to wait to find out – new episodes resume a week from today!
I believe that I mentioned in the mid-year wrap up in June that I was way behind and planning to catch up over the summer. Well…I haven’t yet. But I’m still planning on it! Maybe even over the holidays! I haven’t seen anything since the big proposal in the hospital, so I really need to get on it.
Yeeeeaaaaah, I don’t know. I’m probably about three episodes down, and I’m not sure I even want to finish. I don’t know the last time I felt so apathetic about TV. Terrible, right?
Chuck has been a long road for me. It was my first “real” recapping experience at GMMR (after some reality show snark, which was fun but just … different). I was on it from the beginning, and then I covered it here, and I really enjoyed it. Season Two of Chuck was really, really fantastic. But after that? It just kind of lost the magic for me, for a few reasons.
The first is that this show, moreso than any other I’ve watched, I think, suffered from its budget cuts. The cast had a very specific chemistry and the balance of the show was perfect, and when they had to cut down on characters (read: actors’ paychecks) per episode, it really hurt the show.
And it really suffered from a constantly uncertain fate. It really fucks with your plot and endgame when you have no idea if your show is going to be on for another season or not. You have to be really meeting opposing goals simultaneously, specifically establishing a plot that can continue while also wrapping storylines up to a satisfying end. I respect how well they did it, and I was excited when a definite end date was announced. I thought that was good of NBC. I do feel like the show will find a good way to wrap it all up and I KIND OF want to see it, but now I feel like it may just be too little, too late.
Also, I really did try to not let Adam Baldwin’s twitter feed (which I followed for all of 48 hours) change the way I felt about him, or at least his characters, but I think it kind of did. God, what a boner killer. True dat – I can’t think of anything else when I see him now. The crazy outshines everything else unfortunately.
I haven’t seen this one, so I’ll defer to SB here.
Nicole, I just … you know. Moans, groans, how-could-yous. Et cetera, et cetera, so on and so forth.
Alright, so Grimm is one of my favorite new shows of the season, which really surprised me. I almost didn’t even DVR it, but I ended up being really glad that I did. Obviously, you never hear anything about Grimm without mention of Once Upon a Time, and for obvious reasons. To me, fairy tale premises aside, they’re like comparing apples and oranges. And they’re both good. But Grimm is the show that I root for. I love that it was a surprise hit, I love the sort of Buffy/Angel vibe that you often get from it (no surprise there, as it has ties to those shows). It’s dark but funny, both heavy and light, and like those shows were in their early seasons, it’s following sort of a monster-of-the-week model right now. My hope is that that will change, but for now, I’m still involved enough to overlook the procedural format.
Now let me be clear on this–Grimm is not a show without flaws. Like I said, I could do with a little less cop drama and more character and mythology development, but even in its problem areas, it shows promise. And I think that, for me, that’s the biggest difference between Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Once Upon a Time is basically the show it’s always going to be. I wouldn’t really expect a lot of change from now to next season to four seasons later (assuming it goes that long). It’s not a bad thing–it’s a good show, and it has a lot of polish. But you can tell that a lot of work and preening and most of all, money that went into it before it went to air. There’s a definite sense that the whole operation is very tightly run.
Grimm, on the other hand, feels more raw, more flexible, more … developing. I’ll be pretty surprised if this doesn’t get picked up for a second season, and I hope that the show is able to make some improvements, which we’ll get to. But there’s just so much POTENTIAL. Watching Grimm, you feel like you could be getting in early on the next awesome (and probably underappreciated) show. I know I’m absolutely in the minority on this one, but if you’re sitting around this holiday season with nothing to do and internet access, and you think, “Hmmmm, I really want to try out JUST ONE of those fairytale shows,” NICOLE, I think I’d recommend Grimm. Yes, I plan on catching up on this one – OUaT seems a little too…something…for me (precious, maybe?), but this one looks like it’s more my style. I’ll wait and see how everyone feels about the whole first season and then get into it if everyone’s still on board.
So, quick rundown of what needs improvement:
- The special effects are TERRIBLE. Just awful. The hexenbiest is okay, but in general, this is a weak point. However, you can tell it’s a low budget show and while it’s always noticeable, it gets more ignorable as you go on.
- Like I said, it’s a little “procedural” for my taste, and the stories could use more meat on them.
- Nick, the main character, needs to have a stronger personality. I like the actor, but the writers need to work harder on defining him.
That was a pretty short list. Now here’s what’s working for me:
- I love, love, love Eddie (aka Monroe). Guys, I don’t know the last TV boyfriend I had that was this weird, but I have a mega crush on him. Now if only we could get him to stop tucking in his flannel shirts.
- Unlike Nick, Eddie is a character that they’ve been successful in adding layers to. We’ve seen bits of his background, know a little about his hobbies and quirks (including those which don’t add to the story, which you know I’m a fan of), and I feel like they’ve compensated enough on fleshing him out to combat his role as the exposition fairy.
- The show is making good use of its surroundings. It tapes in Portland, and they spend a lot of time outside in the woods. It REALLY adds to the mood of the show, and it’s very good at giving you a sense of place.
- Likewise, the show gives a lot of nods to Germany–language, cars, names, etc. It’s a show that pays attention to the details, which again, I think gives it long-term promise.
- And there is somewhat of a season-long arc set up with the hexenbiest, although there’s not much to it yet. This is something I’ve been forgiving on while the show establishes itself, finds its footing, and attracts new viewers. But the little bits of it that we see are enough to tell me that the show is aware that it’ll need this eventually and is already laying groundwork.
- And finally, I think it’s a talented cast with good chemistry. Nick, Hank, and Wu are always funny together, I love when Eddie is annoyed with Nick, Juliet is adorable, and Nick and the hexenbiest appear to have a seriously hot hate fuck brewing (I hope?).
And finally, my wishlist for the show:
- I don’t know how this stuff works, admittedly, but I would like to see the show abandon its current CGI aesthetic and maybe take some notes from Supernatural on how to make a seriously scary, seriously low-budget show. Honestly, I feel like the vampires from Buffy, who were wearing prosthetic faces, are less visually jarring to watch 15 years later than this CGI. Is makeup cheaper? No clue. But it might be less distracting.
- I want Nick to take a darker turn. I think it’s the consensus of most fans that Juliet will not be living happily ever after, but that’s probably also because we’ve been raised on Joss Whedon and Supernatural and the like, and are generally gluttons for punishment. It seems like this could create some interesting drama.
- Speaking of drama, I’d like to see them delve more into moral gray areas, as this really seems like a natural direction for a show like this to take. We’ve caught hints of Blutbaden morality vs human morality, but right now, Nick is mostly Mr. Nice Guy. He’s the type of character that you KNOW would struggle with making a choice when there’s no right answer, and I wanna see that.
Anyway. To wrap this one up, in case it isn’t totally obvious, I’m really into this show and you should definitely be watching it if you aren’t already.
Once Upon a Time
Same as above – haven’t seen it!
[NO SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t watched this one, you should!]
How do you not watch at least ONE of the fairy tale shows? I thought everyone watched at least one of them, and also, I figured if you just picked one and watched that, that it probably said something about you. I have many ways by which to judge people, and that would be one of them.
Anyway, I like this show a lot. It’s very modern and shiny, but at the same time, it feels like a total throwback. Did anyone watch … shit. I can’t think of the name of it, or what channel it was on, but if you watched it you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was a movie about a librarian, Noah Wyle was the librarian, and he was like a treasure hunter/quest type of guy? Anyway, that felt like a very old school, ABC movie of the week that I would’ve turned the lights off and watched as a kid. This is kind of the same way. It’s adult, for sure, but it’s also very fantasy/adventurey as well.
Snow White and Prince Charming are obviously the fan favorites, and with good reason. They’re AMAZING together, and the episode with their backstory was just … the best. And anyone who reads the gif posts knows how much we fucking love some Huntsman/Sheriff. AND let us not forget the amazing badassitude of the Evil Queen. You guys, she is PERFECT for the part. Between Lana Parilla in this and Madeline Stowe on Revenge, my female badass bitch quota has been filled for the year. She is absolutely amazing.
My one big beef with the show is that I wish the stories were more integrated. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a good handle yet on what the ultimate story goal is here, but I feel like while Emma’s story has been progressing, and we’ve had several moments in both Storybrooke and the enchanted forest with Snow and Charming that span several episodes, many of the other characters have had like … one-off episodes, and then we just don’t really hear about them again for awhile–Cinderella, Jiminy Cricket, the Huntsman … We know Red Riding Hood is hanging around, but we haven’t gotten anything from her, really. I don’t know if the intent of the show is to introduce all these stories one at a time and piece them together later, but if so, it seems weird to set up some characters that way but then develop the Snow White story more continuously, if that makes sense. Plus, I may be a little biased because the Jiminy Cricket episode was one of my favorites.
Anyway, I’m definitely on board with this show and it’s PERFECT Sunday night TV. Interestingly, I found it to be a good pairing with The Walking Dead. It was like a nice palette cleanser before bed but without being TOO much of a tonal shift (the way something like a comedy would’ve been). Plus, I like the mix of modern fairytale with the traditional versions, so that’s fun too. And while I do think this one is worth catching up on, I also think that you’d probably be okay to just jump in right now and start watching, and then go back and catch up later. The stories are familiar enough and they give you enough exposition to make that doable.
Saturday Night Live
So … I kind of feel like this season of SNL has been awesome, especially starting with the entire November lineup (Charlie Day, Emma Stone, and Jason Fucking Segel, the cutest thing to ever happen and the most confusingly single person alive), continuing through all of Steve Buscemi’s molester sketches, OBVIOUSLY excluding Katy Perry, who I find grating as fuck, and then back to incredible with Jimmy Fallon hosting Christmas. OMG. And god, you guys, the GUEST STARS! Christmas goes without saying, but … THE MUPPETS? The Muppets on SNL makes it automatically go down as one of the best seasons in history. I DIED at “REALLY?!?!? with Seth and Kermit”. The ONLY thing missing this season has been Justin Timberlake, and also, what the FUCK, Justin Timberlake? The only way I will excuse his absence is if he was off fucking Mila Kunis, because I have decided that they are my celebrity dream couple and I ship them. [Omg, she could do so much better than that self-important asshat. He’s perfect with Jessica ‘Meh’ Biel - he’ll never have to worry about her outshining his huge yet delicate ego.]
Anyway, you guys all know my feelings on Kristin Wiig at this point, but I think there are a few other cast members that need to move on at this point. I am almost never amused by anything that she, Keenan, or Fred ever do, and I think it may be getting close to the point where Jason Sudeikis also needs to peace out. They could use some fresh blood, and their minor players are all actually really good right now. But GOD, they need to find a way to use Jay Pharoah more often, and better. He is so fucking funny, and SO good at impressions. Me and Billy DIED during the Christmas sketch where he was on screen for like ten seconds and was Kanye saying he was better than Jesus. Um, amazing. As Billy said, way to really maximize your screen time. We were still singing it days later.
I agree that this season has been largely great, and it’s going to be hard for the show to ever top the Christmas episode – it was amazing. But I’m about to agree with SB on something and it pains me to do it (in this case specifically – not in general, obviously). I think it’s time that Kristin Wiig and Fred Armisen move on too, but this is NOT because I don’t enjoy them. I think that they are both INCREDIBLE performers, but neither of them are benefiting from being on SNL anymore, and their presence is even starting to make the show suffer.
Wiig obviously had a huge year with Bridesmaids (which was one of the best movies of the year and she co-wrote it and starred in it, so big ups for that). She was great in it, and it’s because she was acting like a normal person rather than creating one of her excellent but overused to the point of irritation characters. [Okay, yes. I really enjoyed Bridesmaids and I never even wanted to slap that face off her head (BITCH), which I think is further proof that her reign of terror on SNL should end.] I really like Wiig, and thing she’s insanely talented, and at this point even I roll my eyes when the Can’t Handle Surprises Lady or the Can’t Play Password Lady shows up in a sketch. I mean, for god’s sake – she’s in practically every sketch; if you’re going to run her characters into the ground, can you at least use some of ones we haven’t seen in a while? Hello, Two A-Holes is still one of my favorites, and she and Sudeikis are both still around – what’s the problem? But yeah, she’s a big movie star and screenwriter now – she’s got Friends With Kids coming out this year, starring Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott, and more (OMG can’t wait) – it’s time for her to move on.
Armisen is similar – I think he’s so funny, but you know where he’s SO much better than on SNL? Portlandia! Have you guys seen it? I love it so much. He’s so in his element on that show and so much funnier than being shoehorned into sketches on SNL (I actually think his Obama is decent, but clearly Jay Pharoah could handle it and probably really well). Bonus tidbit – season 2 of Portlandia is starting in January on IFC!!
I think I’m one of the few people who actually really enjoys Keenan on the show for the most part, so I hope he stays. I’d be cool with Sudeikis leaving too (is it wrong that the myriad reports of him banging starlets that I can’t stand has caused my opinion of him to drop considerably? Oh well). Just please, let Hader stay. He’s so great and could be a huge movie star, but I love him so much on SNL I would be so sad to see him go.
The new cast members on the show are really good – Taran Killiam is OMG funny, and I love Paul Brittain when they actually let him be on the show. Obviously Pharoah is phenomenal (and yes, the Kanye bit was UNBELIEVABLY funny). The women haven’t made as much of an impression on me (obviously the show loves Vanessa Brayer though since she’s in almost every sketch, and on the flip-side, do they hate Abby Elliott or what? She’s background in almost everything she’s in, but her Khloe Kardashian kills me). The point is, there are a lot of capable people on the show right now, so it’s probably time to let some of the more senior people go and give the newbies a chance to really shine.
The Good Wife
Never seen it!
WHAT? HOW COULD YOU? Kidding! i’m actually surprised that I got into it – I am not usually one for legal dramas, probably because I’m a lawyer and know how boring and/or prickish most lawyers actually are. The last thing I want to do is watch them in my downtime, you know? But I heard so many great things about the show that I caught up on it after the first season and really enjoyed it. Like most compelling procedurals, the real stories are about the characters and the various relationships between them. And there are some really great characters here, even on the legal side of things, so often the cases are almost as interesting as the rest of it.
First of all, Alan Cumming is on the show. If you dislike him, I don’t think we can be friends. This is a man who created a cologne called ‘Cumming: The Fragrance’. And this was the ad for it:
Adorable. Hilarious. And his character on TGW, Eli Gold, is SO different from his real persona, but at the same time, still the most electric and hysterical character on the show. Just watch him and Amy Sedaris (I’m telling you, this show has some of the best guest stars) go head to head about fruit versus vegetables and you’ll know. Also, Parker Posey plays his ex-wife.
Obviously the show centers around Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and her family, and it’s all really interesting and she is fantastic in the show, but the side characters are just as valuable and are what have me so invested. Kalinda, Cary, Will, Diane and Eli are so interesting, separate and apart from their involvement with Alicia, which is important. Not to mention some amazing guest spots from Michael J. Fox (who at this point feels like a semi-regular), Martha Plimpton (she’s SO GOOD on this show you guys – I hope she can come back for more soon), plus a billion fantastic judges including a certain Vampire King of Mississippi, who’s judge character insisted on everyone donating blood before starting the trial, hee!
I’m deliberately staying away from discussing specifics here; in case some of you are on the fence about jumping in I don’t want to spoil you on anything. But suffice it to say, if you’ve considered checking it out, definitely do. It makes for great Sunday night tv in those long stretches of time when the amazing cable offerings are on hiatus.
When I was searching for gifs for the show, I came across these, and I have no idea what they’re from but seeing Cary and Kalinda having so much fun kind of made my life (a word to Czuchry though – take it easy with the open collar/multiple necklace combo. Don’t be that guy.):
Okay guys, that does it for us – now it’s your turn. Who do you love and hate on SNL? Which, if any, fairy tale show are you watching? Would you still buy 5 dollar footlongs if it would help get Chuck renewed for another season? How are you liking Ripper Stefan and nice guy Damon? Your feedback is the wind beneath our wings, so go be our heroes and comment, comment, comment!!