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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I love Glee and The Carrie Diaries

I don't write about these shows much, but they both rank among my favorite shows.  I arrived a little late to the Glee train (the first episode I saw was "Preggers", the 4th episode), but was drawn in almost instantly.  Since then, I have faithfully watched each and every episode through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, and even the more outrageous stunts that they have pulled.  I will say that I do dislike that the show has a tendency to mess with characterization for the sake of a plotline.  The Madonna episode is a big one.  Another one was last year when Kitty was openly mocking Marley and Tina, Sugar, Unique, and Britney sing along with her.

In spite of this weakness, I find that there is a lot to admire about the show.  The show confronts a lot of social issues head on, whether it be through song or a plot line.  One consistent theme of the show is to be proud of who you are even if others don't like you.  Whether you are popular or not, whether you have the looks of a model or not, you are accepted by the club and you should accept yourself.

The show does catch a lot of flack because there are many "gay" storylines.  While most of the storylines are not "gay", there are many that are.  The show has 2 gay male main characters (Kurt and Blaine),  one lesbian main character (Santana), one bisexual main character (Britney), and one transgender main character (Unique).  There have also been several prominent secondary characters who are also gay/lesbian (Dave Karofsky, Sebastian, and Hunter to name a few).  One of the things I love is that not all of these characters are "good guys", in fact some are antagonists to the group or individual members.  All of these characters are shown to be flawed humans just like everyone else, only with some of them having the added stress of being homosexual.

Every character in the show is shown to be flawed, just like a real person.  Santana is a bitch (self-proclaimed), Finn was often thoughtless with his words, Rachel can be a diva, etc.  Despite these flaws and the sometimes heavy storylines (school shooting or Finn's death anyone?), the show manages to maintain its sense of humor and levity without trivializing what is going on.  I think that sort of balancing act really shows how truly awesome the writers of the show can be.

I love The Carrie Diaries for a very different reason.  TCD is light and fluffy fun.  Not that there aren't on occasion serious issues handled on the show, but the show has a serious feeling of a more old-fashioned teen drama with most storylines wrapped up by the end of the episode and lessons learned.  One of my favorite characters on the show is Walt.  Yes, I know he is gay, and honestly, that is a large part of the reason I love him.  Brendan Dooling, who plays Walt, brings something very, very authentic to the character.  If you are gay, then his struggles with coming out are very real.  In fact, they really do remind me of what it was like for me early on.  While I was not kicked out of my house the way Walt was, everything else about his story is as authentic as it could be.  I continue to be impressed as the show continues to show the trials and travails of coming out for a young person.

On guilty pleasures....

If there is one phrase in the English language I despise, it is "guilty pleasure".  After all, a guilty pleasure is defined as

                      something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite
                      feeling guilt for enjoying it. The "guilt" involved is sometimes
                      simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or
                      otherwise embarrassing tastes, such as campy styles of
                      entertainment. Fashion, video games, music, films, and junk
                      food can be examples of guilty pleasures. (Wikipedia.com)

My question is why anyone should feel guilty about enjoying anything.  If you like something, and it is nor hurting anyone, there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about it.  If you look at what I watch, it might very easily be defined as a list of guilty pleasures.  I watch several shows on the Disney Channel (Austin & Ally, Lab Rats, and Mighty Med), Hub (Spooksville), or Nickelodeon (The Thundermans) that many might consider to be for younger children.  I love the High School Musical series and many other Disney Channel movies.  Many shows I watch(or watched) on network (or cable) television are teen dramas such as Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood, Teen Wolf, or One Tree Hill.  I do watch other shows too because I like a variety of different things.  I am not ashamed that I watch any of these shows.  In fact, I love them all.

It seems that many people hear about shows like this and just dismiss them without watching them.  So, if you admit that you watch them, you have somehow committed some sort of serious sin and are guilty of having "bad taste".  Personally, this doesn't bother me in the slightest, but it does bug me that people have to stay in the closet (so to speak) about shows that they love because they might be perceived as being immature or some other such nonsense.

I know that one reason I love some of these shows is that they help take me away from the messiness of the adult world to a time when things were simpler and more innocent.  Some people may criticize that, but for me it is very important to sometimes just escape and get away.  So much television these days is gritty and dark that it is nice to have some lighter fare that is simply enjoyable and fun.

Now, I know that not everything I just listed is light, and those I enjoy for different reasons.  Some I enjoy because the stories are just fun and draw me in, others because there are stories that resonate with me, still other because I like the actors involved.  For the most part, I don't think about them too hard, rather I just let the story pull me along.  A couple (Teen Wolf and One Tree Hill) I do think about a lot as is evidenced by my reviews of them.

I know this was a little unfocused, but my point is to be proud of what you like.  If other people don't like the same things, so be it.  If they criticize you for liking what you like, screw 'em.  There is nothing wrong with liking what you like and enjoying it.  So let's excise the phrase "guilty pleasure" from the English language, because it just flat-out doesn't belong.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Review of Vampire Diaries 5.10- Fifty Shades of Grayson

We learn more about Dr. Gilbert's relationship with Dr. Maxfield and the Augustinians, Damon and Stefan take steps to get Elena back, Aaron learns something new, Katherine confronts her mortality, and Damon meets a familiar face from his past and makes a shocking decision...

Well, I did not expect Damon to break up with Elena.  Even after learning about more horrible things from his past, Elena was willing to stick by him and stay with him.  Damon, however, had his mind screwed with by Enzo this week and Qetsiyah in weeks past.  They have him fully convinced that he is a monster who can never change and that Elena is destined to be with Stefan.  I so want to smack them all upside their heads.  Damon should know that Elena is strong-willed and makes up her own mind.  This nobility crap he is coming up with is ridiculous.  Is he perfect?  Hell to the no.  But he is also not the worse person in the world.  He says that he doesn't want to change Elena, but the problem is that the mere fact of being around someone for any period of time (let alone dating/sleeping with them!) is going to change them, there is no way around that.  He has changed Elena and she has changed him.  Damon is not the person we knew at the beginning of Season 1.  While many of his thought processes and actions are the same, he is a different person.  He has given up hope of changing and being good for Elena at this point in time, which is very unfortunate.

Another thing the Damon neglected to consider were the sources of the information that he has.  Qetsiyah and Enzo are by no means stable or reliable people.  Qetsiyah was blinded by her centuries old hatred of Amara and Silas, so she could see nothing else.  Enzo has spent the past 60 years (or so) hating Damon and (presumably) figuring out how to best torture Damon.  Damon really needs to trust himself and Elena and realize that she is with him for good, solid reasons.  She had the chance to pick Stefan and she didn't (and that was pre-vampire Elena).  Will there always be something between Elena and Stefan?  Of course, and Elena may one day change her mind and want to be with Stefan.  Instead, Damon reverts back to his old self and acts purely on momentary feelings rather than any sort of careful consideration.

You have to feel for Elena.  She has her memories about her dad destroyed and she is coping by trying to turn them into something good.  Therein, I think, lies Elena's flaw.  She is so steadfast and loyal to people that she can rationalize almost anything.  Granted, most of the time I agree with what she thinks, but there are times when it is questionable.  I am not sure how torturing a bunch of people in order to save others is (in any sense) moral.  Granted, the result (saving lives) is good, but the ends *DO NOT* justify the means in all cases, and this is definitely one of them.  There is a large difference between torturing and studying people (or sentient beings if you insist) for scientific/medical purposes and killing one to save many, many others if there is no other viable alternative.

Unless some sort of miracle is pulled out of thin air, Katherine is pretty much a goner.  Her aging has accelerated to the point where her senses are being affected.  Add to that the fact that she suffered some sort of attack at the end of the episode and it is not good for her.  It may be possible for her to hitch a ride with someone before she dies, but I am sort of doubting it.  I am going to miss her.  Granted, she is a complete bitch, but she has always been very entertaining to watch and figure out.  I am trying to figure out how Nadia will react to this turn of events.

Aaron has had his eyes opened in the last two episodes and he has been shaken to his core.  He knows that vampires exist and that one of them has a massive grudge against his family.  He discovered that the man who raised him was willing to give him up in exchange for his scientific experiments.  This is going to take some time to process.  I think he might be helpful, if only because he might be able to grant the gang access to places they might otherwise not be able to get into.  And I wonder what he is going to do with that syringe that he picked up.

Matt now has the Traveler's knife.  We still don't know much about it, but if Katherine hopes to switch bodies, she'll need it.  Hope we get more on that later.  I think it would be interesting to see Katherine hop into either Matt's or Nadia's body.  That would be quite interesting.

Well, this is the last episode of the year.  The show will be back on January 23rd.  See y'all then!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Review of The Tomorrow People 1.09- Death's Door

Truths are revealed and taken badly, Stephen continues his quest to find his dad, Stephen's two worlds meet, and Jedikiah turns to the Tomorrow People for help.

Well, the core groups now knows that it was John who killed Stephen's dad and they are not happy about it.  Stephen is being very pragmatic about the whole thing and insists on working with John to find his way into limbo.  Cara is flat-out pissed off and accuses John of being a major-league hypocrite (not without reason).  We didn't really get much reaction from Russell, but I suspect that he would fall more into the pragmatic than pissed off camp.  Of course, a part of Stephen's pragmatism comes from his conviction that his dad is in limbo and is not really dead.  If he didn't believe that, I suspect that he would have been much more violent with John.

I am not sure whether to applaud Stephen for his tenacity or smack him over the head with a 2x4.  I think that a large part of the reason he is being so tenacious is because he (obviously) wants to believe that his dad is alive and he realizes that if John really did kill his dad, then he would lose it.  Basically, it is (at least partially) a coping mechanism.  An effective one for sure, but still.  Allowing yourself to be killed in order to enter limbo and then hope that you can be revived?  Not the smartest move Stephen has ever made, but it is definitely born out of a certain amount of desperation.

All that being said, the plan did work.  Stephen managed to stop time as he was dying and saw his dad, so now he wants to find his dad's body.  Not sure how likely that will be, but that could be interesting.  The thing is that unless someone manged to preserve the body, there won't be much left for Stephen's dad to return to.  I am curious as to how this will play out.  Wouldn't it be somewhat ironic if, in returning Stephen's dad to his body, the Tomorrow People end up unleashing a dangerous enemy?  Talk about an interesting twist!

Jedikiah also revealed a truth to the Founder.  Once Stephen helped John to escape, the Founder was going to read Jedikiah's mind, so Jedikiah revealed that he was in a relationship with a Tomorrow Person.  I must say that going to the Tomorrow People for help was not something I quite expected, much less going to them twice in one episode.  Granted, it made perfect sense because only they could keep Morgan safe, but still.  Jedikiah is playing both sides of the fence here, albeit for very personal reasons, and that could be dangerous.  When Jedikiah "shot" Morgan, I wondered why the Founder didn't insist on seeing the body personally or anything, since by having the pillow on top of her, something could easily have been faked (as indeed it was).

We also learned the the Founder is grooming Stephen for his rightful place, presumably as the head of Ultra.  That should be truly interesting.  Jedikiah already knows that Stephen has some feelings for the members of the underground, so I wonder how he'll react to Stephen's continued climb up the ladder.  He does seem capable of destroying Stephen if he deems it to be for the greater good, but I don't know if he will.

Well, this is the second to last review of the year.  The Tomorrow People returns on January 15, so I'll be back then.  Tomorrow, The Vampire Diaries.  Until then!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Review of The Vampire Diaries 5.09- The Cell

We get some interesting information about Damon's past and Caroline and Katherine come up with a unique way to help Stefan with his PTSD from being locked in the safe by Silas.

That was a lot to learn about Damon.  In 1953, he was invited back to the boarding house and then kidnapped by a Dr. Whitmore (yes, as in the college Elena, Caroline, and Bonnie attend) who proceeds to experiment on him for 5 years in order to figure out how vampires tick, with an eye apparently set on helping humans.  Not good for Damon at all.  In fact, this is one of the reasons he had his emotions turned off for a while.  But more on that in a bit.

It was interesting to see Damon befriend Enzo, a vampire who had already been there for 10 years.  Their plan to escape was quite a good one, although I must admit that I have to wonder how Dr. Whitmore wouldn't notice that Enzo was weakening and Damon getting stronger over the course of a year.  Maybe the two of them hid it well, but given how important blood is to vampires, there had to be some signs.  Can't say I blame Damon for leaving Enzo given everything, but I don't get why he didn't try and find the keys to open the cage, particularly since it appears that they may very well have been on Dr. Whitmore's body.  I was even more surprised to see Enzo alive with Elena.  I am betting that there is probably a major league grudge of some sort going against Damon there.

Aaron is a Whitmore.  That was unexpected.  It also explains why Dr. Maxfield took him in, since Dr. Maxfield is carrying on the Whitmore work.  Also turns out that all of the deaths in Aaron's family are Damon's fault as a result of a vow Damon made to kill every member of the Whitmore family each generation except for one so that the one can carry on the family name and Damon can continue to wipe out most of the family.  Damon is not nice if you piss him off or cause him or someone he loves damage.  Interestingly, Aaron did not know about vampires and when he found out that Elena was a vamp, he assumed that she befriended him in order to get close to him.

It was also surprising to hear the Dr. Gilbert was a member of the Augustines.  That doesn't mean that he knew exactly what Dr. Whitmore was doing, but chances are the he knew something.  Given the fact that he was a member of the Founders' Council as well indicates that he was not the perfect man Elena remembers him as.  I do not think he was a bad guy, but he was also not perfect.

Caroline and Katherine's method of helping Stefan was brutal.  They decided to lock him in the safe with Katherine in order to force him to deal with everything or else risk hurting (or possibly killing) Katherine.  I would not have expected something that selfless from Katherine.  She obviously has feelings for Stefan (witness the kiss and the looks), but it was still surprising that she thought of doing it herself.  I am definitely impressed, but also surprised.

I am getting a little tired of Caroline's ragging on Damon all the time.  We all know that he is not the perfect boyfriend or the best person, but he is trying to be somewhat better.  We get that Caroline is the ultimate Stelena 'shipper, but this fact has completely blinded her to Damon's better qualities.  Between this blindness and her being pissed off at Elena for killing Jesse, she is becoming very annoying and self-righteous.  Caroline, sweetie, I do love you, but Elena really did not have another viable option where Jesse was concerned.  Get over it, ok?

Next week, the mid-season finale!  Until then!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Review of The Tomorrow People 1.08- Thanatos

While gathering intel, Russell makes a miscalculation about Jedekiah which causes some major issues; Stephen continues the hunt for his dad; Cara also makes a miscalculation where Jedekiah is concerned; Jedekiah's secret is revealed; John runs into serious trouble; and we meet The Founder.

Man, of all the mistakes to make, accidentally kidnapping Jedekiah has to rank up there.  Granted, it made for a good opportunity to get information about Thanatos, but it also put Ultra on red alert, which is never a good thing.  The only good things to come out of it was the discovery of Jedekiah's illicit affair and the discovery of Professor Crick.  Not that Crick was particularly helpful, but he did reveal that Stephen's dad also had the ability to stop time which leads to the (logical) assumption that this ability is inheritable.  The only question is why this family has that gene.  Maybe Stephen's dad did some experiments on himself which had the effect of expanding his powers?  So cannot wait to find out.

I get why Cara teleported in front of Jedekiah, but it was not the best move.  Yes, Russell was stupid to underestimate Jedekiah and let his guard down, but I think that Cara may have been able to get to Jedekiah in time to save Russell if she had run.  Now Jedekiah knows (or seriously suspects) that Stephen didn't give her the shot, which runs the serious risk of outing Stephen's double agent status.  The one thing that may save Stephen is that if Jedekiah reveals what he knows about Stephen, Cara or John may reveal what they discovered about Jedekiah.

So, the deep, dark secret that John is hiding is that he was the one who killed Stephen's dad.  That is a big one, and I can't say that I blame him for hiding it.  If everyone knew that he killed Stephen's dad then they may very well turn on John.  Messy, messy situation.  I would be very surprised if Stephen's dad is actually dead though, so I wonder how he survived.  If he is dead, I have to wonder how Stephen is seeing him and getting the info that he has been getting.

And now John is in the hands of Ultra.  That is horribly bad.  If they break him, they could destroy the Tomorrow People or (even worse) use John to wipe them out.  Breaking John would also lead to the discovery of Stephen as a double agent, which would be even worse.  I am now officially and seriously worried.

The Founder was creepy.  We already knew that he is an incredibly powerful telepath, but seeing him action was even worse.  He managed to find Jedekiah in a matter of minutes, when the other telepaths hadn't managed after hours of searching.  He also killed the one telepath without batting an eye, which would indicate that he is a sociopath and is also modified to kill people like John is.  All in all, this spells serious trouble for the Tomorrow People.

Next week Stephen brings himself to the brink of death in order to contact his father.  I also suspect that he will (at least) try to get John out of Ultra.  Then we go on hiatus for a month or so.  Until next week!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Review of The Originals 1.09- Reigning Pain in New Orleans

There's a new leader in New Orleans, so we have the normal tumult that accompanies such a change.  Given that the new leader is Klaus,...yeah, it is that bad, especially since he feels a certain need to prove himself to the nervous vampires....

Klaus established his reign in New Orleans the same way he has apparently established his presence elsewhere, in blood, terror, and a general disregard for anyone else but himself.  Given the way he came to power and the fact that Elijah and Rebekah turned on him, he is obviously feeling the need to assert himself.  Despite the fact that Marcel pleaded with him to show diplomacy, when the human leaders demanded that everything remain the same, Klaus (in his very Klausian way) dismissed their concerns and demanded that they follow his whims.  This led to the humans attacking the vampires and Klaus retaliating by killing all of the human leaders except for Father Kieran, who was left out of the planning of the attack and was incensed at what the other humans had done.  Then there is the fact that Father Kieran is Cami's uncle, so that is the other reason he was spared.  I venture to say that Klaus isn't going to have any more trouble with the humans.  He is unkillable, so I don't think they stand a chance.  After all, he did take out dozens of vampires last week on his own.

Marcel is walking a very high, very thin rope here.  He is obviously biding his time to see what Klaus does, but he is also ready to help Klaus if that is what is best.  His paternal feelings towards the city of New Orleans are quite real and he is ready to do whatever is necessary in order to protect it and save himself.  Now that Klaus has offered him a partnership in ruling New Orleans (wonder how long that will last), Marcel has committed himself to helping Klaus out.  On his own, he was not powerful enough to completely rule New Orleans, but with Klaus there, I don't think ruling will be an issue.  The only potential problem now is Davina.

Davina has figured out that Marcel lied to her when he said that she still needed protection.  Once she found out from both Josh and Hayley that Agnes was dead, Davina was pissed because when Agnes died, so did the threat to Davina's life.  Having an incredibly powerful witch pissed at you is not a good idea if you are not one of the Originals.  Then again, I don't know what Davina's abilities are exactly.  She may be powerful enough to actually damage one of the Originals, we just don't know yet.  I think that Klaus is fairly safe from her, but Elijah and Rebekah could be in trouble if Davina turns on them.  Then again, neither of them has really given her a reason to turn on them yet, so we'll just have to see.  Poor Cami though.  Klaus goes through the trouble of erasing her memories so she can leave and live safely, then Davina comes along and undoes the compulsion.  That has to suck.

Cami has had a rough time recently.  First, she is something of a pawn in the secret war between Klaus and Marcel/  Then Klaus uses her to record his memoirs and wipes her memory after every session.  So when she figures everything out, he wipes her memory again and sends her off.  Then, she is visited by a massively powerful witch who restores all of her memories.  Given the trauma that Stefan went through recently on The Vampire Diaries after having his memories restored, I am guessing that Cami is going to be in for a rough few weeks.

You have to admire the fact that Rebekah and Elijah protected the werewolves.  I was seriously surprised to find out that at least some of the werewolves were from the clan that Klaus' biological father came from.  And they had a legend about him returning that was fairly accurate.  I get why Klaus wanted the wolves wiped out (to dispel the rumours that he would use them to create new hybrids), but protecting them is now pretty much the best thing.  I wonder how Father Kieran will protect them.  This should prove interesting.  Elijah's apology at the end of the episode was perfect.  As Klaus observed, it was not easy for Elijah to do, but it was necessary.  Elijah and Rebekah did (apparently) wrong Klaus this time, so apologizing to him was the honorable thing to do.  And as we know, Elijah is honorable in the extreme.  It also gets them at least somewhat back in Klaus' good graces, so that is even better.  I wonder if Rebekah will apologize herself or if she will refuse to.

Until January 14th!