Monthly Archives: June 2011

Supernatural – Pilot

It was only recently that I’d even heard of the show Supernatural. It popped up a few times on TV blogs and articles, and I gathered that it had a strong fan base. Without probing too deeply (trying to avoid spoilers!), I learned that two brothers, trained by their dad after the death of their mom, hunt all sorts of supernatural baddies.

The pilot introduces the Winchester brothers, Dean and Sam (played by Jared Padalecki, who I knew as Dean from Gilmore Girls, which made things a bit confusing). The entire episode was quite creepy, something I wasn’t expecting. Most of the speculative shows I watch involve vampires or superheroes, and fighting them means physical battles. As such, they tend to be more scary/suspenseful than creepy, but Supernatural’s pilot ranks right up there with the handful of episodes that were creepy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Hush” and Angel’s “Room w/a Vu” come to mind).

The pilot featured Life and Fairly Legal’s Sarah Shahi. The acting and effects were above par, and it contained enough of a hook to make me want to watch the second episode. The only thing that didn’t ring true was Dean’s comment to Sam that they made a great team. Their teamwork wasn’t impressive at all in this episode – they seemed to just stumble onto things individually. (A bunch of shows come to mind that have much better teamwork in the pilot episode that ultimately brings the characters together to form the show – Leverage, Bones, White Collar, Burn Notice . . .) But I’m guessing this improves with future episodes. I’m looking forward to what a regular episode will bring.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Never Kill a Boy on the First Date and The Pack

“Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”

This episode focuses on Buffy’s struggle to balance her “normal” life and her slaying, particularly in relation to dating sensitive guy Owen. While it’s a decent episode, it’s not really remarkable. We get the first “killed by fire” vamp, and the Anointed One comes on the scene. His identity is an interesting final twist, but I’m sure many viewers agree with Spike’s nickname for him: the Annoying One. He gets far too much screen time for the tiny role he eventually plays in the story.

Buffy:  See, this is a school, and we have students, and they check out books, and then they learn things.
Giles:  I was beginning to suspect that was a myth.

Giles:  Alright, I’ll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show.
Buffy:  Okay, at this point you’re abusing sarcasm.

“The Pack”

I enjoyed this episode just as much the second time. It’s one of the standout episodes of the first season, if only to see Xander acting against type (parts of it reminded me of the Angel episode, “Billy”). The four “cool” kids seemed out of place right from the start, and it’s interesting that this is the only episode they appear in (is it weird that their demeanor and the way that the two guys and two girls hung out together made me thing of the Cullens?). They did look a little familiar, so I looked up the actors. One plays Ben Mercer on Covert Affairs, and another is in episodes of four crime dramas I watch.

And of course since Principal Flutie has one moment of connection with Buffy, you know something’s going to happen to him. Somehow I don’t think “eaten by hyena-possessed teenagers” was the way he wanted to go.

Willow:  Why couldn’t Xander be possessed by a puppy or, or some ducks?

This is the first episode where Buffy admits she’s attracted to Angel – she seems to have quickly forgotten Owen. (I wonder if episodes 4 and 5 were supposed to be in reverse order?) Even Xander knows she likes Angel – it’s as if Owen is a distant memory. Willow reveals even more how deep of crush she has on Xander (and I could only think of Oz while she was watching over Xander locked in the book cage).

Burn Notice – Explosive Summer Fun

I think somehow it’s hard-wired into the American brain that summer=explosions. (Personally, I blame Fourth of July fireworks.) Most of the summer movie blockbusters have explosive elements, and that reverberates on the small screen as well.

Summer is also for relaxing and escape, and summer TV shows reflect this. While there’s still some drama and serious moments, summer shows tend to lean more heavily on comedy and action than their regular season counterparts.

Burn Notice fits right in. With an average of more than one explosion per episode, car chases, and flying bullets, the show seems made for the season.

Jeffrey Donovan stars as Michael Westen, a burned spy who makes a living as a Robin-Hood-for-hire in Miami. Along with a brain full of MacGyver-like spy tricks (who knew basic supplies from a hardware store could be so useful – and deadly?), a close posse of friends and family, and incredible luck surviving near-fatal attacks, Michael hits bad guys hard while trying to figure out why he was burned.

In the season five premiere (spoilers ahead), Michael is working as a consultant for the CIA and tracking down everyone in the organization that burned him. As the episode starts, he’s down to the last two. Joining him on this quest is his new partner Max and his old boss, Reese (played by Dylan Baker, who I know best as William Cross on sadly-canceled Kings).

To catch the head of the organization, Michael brings in Sam and Fiona. It was fun to see the trio in action again, but as all three of them felt the constraints of working for the CIA, it puts the whole transition of burned spy to regular spy into doubt.

Even Jesse quit the CIA to get into private security. His brief appearance on this episode left his role this season rather vague. I’m guessing he may help out when needed, like Barry has in the past. I’ll be glad if his role is kept small, as I much preferred the original trio.

But most of where the show is going this season wasn’t revealed in the first episode, which felt like it belonged with the rest of season four despite the 6-month time gap. With most of the major plot threads of the show wrapped up, I’m excited to see where Burn Notice will go next.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Witch and Teacher’s Pet


This episode bored me this time around. It did have a few good aspects, like establishing Buffy, Giles, Xander, and Willow as the core group. It’s also full of awesome Xander quotes:

I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.

For I am Xander, King of cretins. May all lesser cretins bow before me.

We’re right behind you, only further back.

I don’t think the writers intended for Giles’ statement of never doing spells before to be a boldface lie, as future episodes reveal, but he did seem to be awfully good at it for a complete novice. And who knew what Amy would become?

“Teacher’s Pet”

After rewatching the last episode was somewhat yawn-worthy, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The beginning dream/daydream sequence was fun. I’d forgotten how much Xander was crushing on Buffy in the first season. Two vamp dustings were implied but not shown – I wonder if the special effects budget all went toward the giant insect. Not that the giant insect was a great success, but at least they seemed to realize this and kept her in the shadows most of the time.

The main shortcoming to this episode was that things got overexplained and repeated, quite common for early episodes of shows until writers learn to trust their audience’s intelligence.

The episode did a great job of making you care about Dr. Gregory for the few short minutes of screen time he got. Poor Buffy. Everytime she seems to connect with someone employed by the school (other than Giles), they’re not long for the world.

But this episode is mostly about Xander. Not only do we see how his crush on Buffy is growing stronger, it’s also the first time we see him jealous of Angel. (And no, Xander, Buffy would not describe a guy as buff. Corny wordplay is more Willow’s forte.) We also learn his middle name, LaVelle.

This episode also gets the first somewhat cool vampire (other than you know who, of course, but shh – episode 7 isn’t here yet!), known simply as “Claw Guy.” He had to have been around for a while to make it into Giles’ books, and he both injured Angel and initially put up a decent fight with Buffy. His demise proved the interchangeability of stakes and fences (in the first episode, Xander’s explanation for Buffy’s stake is that she’s “building a really little fence”)

Buffy: So I’m an undead monster that can shave with my hand…How many things am I afraid of?

Giles: Um, this computer invasion that Willow’s performing on the coroner’s office, one, one assumes it is entirely legal?
Willow: Entirely!
Buffy: Of course!
Giles:  Right. Wasn’t here, didn’t see it, couldn’t have stopped you.

This episode feels like it’s at least several weeks after the last one (except for the overexplaining). Both Buffy and Giles seem to accept that Willow and Xander will be helping out, research-wise at least, with the monster fighting. Everyone seems comfortable with the fact that they’re up against more than just vampires. Even though everyone freaks out a bit, they seem to have faced more than just the events of the past three episodes.

Fathers and Daughters

In honor of dads everywhere, this Father’s Day I want to talk about my favorite TV father and daughter relationships, both “real” and father/daughter-like.


CASTLE – Richard and Alexis Castle

Castle’s relationship with his daughter is one of my favorite parts of this show. I love the twist of having the daughter be the responsible one, but it’s clear that Alexis loves her father’s playful antics. One of my favorite scenes of the two of them is their laser tag battle. Another is when Castle comes out dressed like Captain Mal from Firefly:

Alexis: What exactly are you supposed to be?
Castle: Space cowboy.
Alexis: Ok, A: there are no cows in space. B: didn’t you wear that like five years ago?
Castle: So?
Alexis: So, don’t you think you should move on?
Castle: I like it.

I also love the scene where Alexis confesses to jumping the turnstile. I hope Alexis chooses a local college because I would hate for that dynamic to be missing from the show.


VERONICA MARS – Keith and Veronica Mars

Not only do these two share sleuthing skills and a strong desire for justice, they know each other extremely well, and it’s evident from the first episode.

Keith: Don’t do anything on the Kane case, I’ll handle it.
Veronica: Okay.
(a few lines later)
Keith: And Veronica.
Veronica: Yes?
Keith: When you go after Jake Kane, you take backup.
Veronica: I always do.

Both father and daughter make huge sacrifices for each other throughout the show. And when one of the mysteries of the first season threaten the very core of their relationship, Veronica stubbornly chooses the man she calls Dad. Twice.


NCIS – Gibbs and Ziva

Gibbs also has a father-like relationship with Abby, but with Ziva you get to see how they go from enemies to reluctant allies to trusting each other completely.

Gibbs: You lied to me.
Ziva: No. When I told you Ari was innocent. I believed it. But yes. I would have lied to you. He was – my brother. And you were nothing. But I was wrong about Ari, and you. When I pulled the trigger to save your life, I was not following orders. I mean how could you even think – he was my brother. And now he is gone. Eli is all but dead to me. And the closest thing I have . . . to a father is accusing me . . .

I love that scene from “Reunion.” And Ziva is the one who manages to break through Gibbs’ amnesia. Ziva is the one Gibbs returns from retirement to help.



These two have so many great moments together, after getting off to a rocky start as his crusty British ways tend not to mesh with her irreverent attitude. One the key episodes in their father/daughter relationship is “Helpless,” where Buffy asks Giles to take her to the ice show in her father’s place. Unfortunately, Giles has to betray her trust for a Slayer coming-of-age test, and when he can’t bear to lie to her anymore, his “father’s love” for Buffy causes him to lose his job as her Watcher.

And then there’s this touching moment in the midst of Buffy being under a love spell in “Something Blue”:

Buffy: I’m not crazy, and I know that you probably don’t approve, and my father’s not that far away, I mean, he could– but this day is about family – my real family – and I would like you to be the one to give me away.
Giles: (Touched) Oh, Buffy! That’s.. that’s so.. (Comes to his senses) Oh! For God’s sake! This is nonsense. Something is making you act this way. Don’t you realize what you’re doing?

I love Giles’ quiet smile of relief when Buffy returns from Los Angeles in season three. And their reunion hug in season six. And when Buffy asks him to be her Watcher again in season four.




What is your favorite father/daughter pair on TV?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest

Okay, I finally caved. As soon as I finished the final episode of Angel, I wanted to go back and rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning. I managed to hold off for several months by rewatching some of my favorite episodes, reading many of the comics, and watching various shows featuring Buffy alums (Bones, Veronica Mars, Tru Calling). But after reading a fellow blogger’s review of season one, the allure grew too strong.

I’m going to take things a bit more slowly this time. I’m also not planning to watch the later seasons in tandem with Angel, except for perhaps a few key crossover episodes. I simply enjoy Buffy more, and all the flipping back and forth got to be annoying. Plus I’ve already seen the first season of Angel twice.

I’m also hoping to review each episode as I go through, most likely writing about several episodes in each post.

“Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest”

What is widely considered the show’s weakest season opens with a two-part introduction to Sunnydale High, the main characters, and of course vampires. This was my third time watching the two episodes. The first time I thought it was decent but campy, and the vampires creeped me out. The second time I enjoyed seeing Alyson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother and Anthony Stewart Head from Merlin in different roles, but it bored me a little.

I guess third time’s the charm, because this time around I loved it.

Oh, sure, I still thought the vampires were stupid and I still consider The Master one of the most unimaginative villains of all time, but I wasn’t watching the episodes for them. I was watching to see Buffy meet Xander and Willow and Giles and Angel for the very first time. Knowing now all they’d eventually go through together made the episodes amazing.

I hadn’t remember Angel seeming so much of a wimp. Knowing that his fighting skills are pretty much even with Buffy’s, his inaction in these episodes seems ludicrous, especially with what’s at stake. Of course, it could partly be him trying to keep his true nature a secret from Buffy, but the end of the world is a bit more important. Darla seemed too easily cowed as well, though she at least held her own in a fight.

Even this early on, the dialogue was snappy and distinct, a fitting beginning for what would eventually become known as “Slayer Slang.” A few choice bits:

“Gee, can you vague that up for me?”

“I didn’t say I’d never slay another vampire. It’s not like I have all these fluffy bunny feelings for them, I’m just not gonna get way extracurricular with it.”

Willow: Do you have Theories in Trig? You should check it out.
Xander: Check it out?
Willow: From the library. Where the books live.

It was also fun getting a brief glimpse of Harmony, knowing who she would become in later seasons. But in all the flashbacks we’ve gotten of main vampires, it seems weird that there’s no mention (at least that I remember) of Luke. You’d think a vampire that powerful and connected to The Master would have been around for a while. Trivia note: the same actor plays the Judge in season 2.

In all, not the best first episode for someone new to the show (unless you’ll be able to convince them to keep watching no matter how they feel about season one), but a must-see for fans. It makes me excited for the rest of the season.

Being Human – Comparing Both Versions

Oddly enough, it was the American adaption of Being Human that caused me to watch the British version, even though I watched the British one first. Confused? I heard about SyFy’s version somewhere (most likely a Hulu ad, though I don’t remember specifically), and it intrigued me enough to do some looking into the show.

I found out pretty quickly that there was a BBC version of the show as well, and I was faced with a dilemma. Which one should I watch? I knew whichever one I watched first would color my perceptions of the other, and perhaps ruin it for me completely. I’d barely gotten through one episode of the British version of The Office after seeing several seasons of the US version. I hadn’t even made it through half of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie after watching the show. (Though to be fair, the movie is almost universally considered terrible. But if they ever reboot the show, I’m thinking a British version would be a pretty cool twist.) I finally decided to watch the British version of Being Human because a) it was there first, and b) it had more episodes out, so a greater loss if they were ruined.

Both shows center on three supernatural beings who share a house. Two unlikely best friends, a vampire and a werewolf, rent a house to try and live a more normal human life, only to find out the place is haunted by the ghost of the former occupant.

The British version is more raw, bloody, and gruesome. It’s probably the least family-friendly show I watch, and I almost stopped watching it after the first episode. In contrast, the American version seemed sanitized and slick. The special effects were better, the minor characters were prettier, but the trio of stars didn’t have the same connection and chemistry.

The American version succeeded best when it differed from the UK one, so I’m really looking forward to season two, when the storyline will completely diverge. Josh’s sister was a great addition, and it was fun seeing some plot points from later on in the British version make it into the first season of the American one (whether intentionally or not). With knowing how most of the season would go, I loved that they changed things up in the finale and actually surprised me.

As far as the main characters go, I prefer Mitchell to Aidan. I enjoy both George and Josh, but I think George is an easier character to connect to (however, I think the actor Russell Tovey looks far more like a Mitchell than a George, so I confused the names in my mind for a series and a half). And while Annie got on my nerves a lot, she does make Sally look a bit bland. I hope Sally will get more to do in season two, and Nora as well (Nina has her beat so far).

I really don’t see the deep friendship and camaraderie among the characters in the American version, though it appears they tried to amp up the situational drama, especially with Josh’s character (with four distinct occurrences, all but one from later in the UK show). The British version, however, lives on emotional drama. There are more tears in a single episode of the British show than the entire season of the American version. Are the British just more comfortable with men crying in front of other people?

It’s no surprise that I like the original Being Human more than the remake, but the latter showed enough glimpses of brilliance for me to keep watching.

Veronica Mars – Of Watching Canceled Shows

There’s a special feeling of sadness you get when you watch the last episode of a favorite show you already know has been canceled. It’s heightened when it’s been several years since the cancellation and you know there’s no chance of another network picking it up, and when it’s not just a rookie show but you’ve had several seasons to fall in love with the characters. Veronica Mars has both.

Of course, I willingly began watching the show knowing it had been canceled before its time. But I figured the third season would have to be not so great for them the CW to cancel it, and I would be glad the show hadn’t fallen into complete mediocrity before saying goodbye. But season three was great. Perhaps not as gripping as the first two, but that was the fault of exchanging season-long story arcs for shorter ones.

I personally blame the third season intro credits. Instead of sassy and fun with poignant undertones like the previous ones, they stripped down the theme song into an echo of its former self and kept only the poignantness with sepia tones and serious looks.

Since I watched the entire show in less than three weeks, the untimely end hit especially hard. After new, witty, endearing episodes an average of three times a day for weeks straight, it’s depressing to think that I will never again watch a new episode of Veronica Mars.

And unlike shows with planned endings, you never find out what happens to the characters. Fortunately, the show didn’t leave too many dangling plot threads. You don’t find out who is elected sheriff, though you can assume it’s Vinnie – who would have made a perfect replacement for Sheriff Lamb, while Keith goes back to being a PI. You don’t know if Weevil returns to a life of crime. And you don’t know who Veronica ends up with.

For the latter, in my mind she and Logan end up together. Piz has no personality, and their relationship hasn’t weathered any storms. Duncan is long gone. And even though Leo’s around again, I never really felt the two of them as a couple. With Logan and Veronica, however, the sparks are as subtle as lightning bolts.

I know I already compared the show to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the parallels extend far beyond the setting and sense of humor. Both Buffy and Veronica are somewhat unlikeable by themselves, but you grow to care about them through their friendships and relationships. Many of the supporting characters in one show match up with similar characters in the other. Keith Mars is Giles. Wallace is Xander. Mac is Willow (especially the early Willow). Sheriff Lamb is Principal Snyder (smug idiot in charge). Vinnie is Ethan Rayne (evil counterpart to Keith/Giles). Jackie is Cordelia. Duncan is Angel (right down to the ex-girlfriend dying and the baby living – plus he does the brooding thing awfully well). And even more, the latter two pairs leave the show around the senior year of high school. Leo is Riley.

And of course, Logan is Spike. Both hate a certain petite blonde at the beginning of the show, form a reluctant truce when he turns to her for help, and eventually fall in love. Both mourn lost love with alcohol and meaningless relationships. Both have an irreverent sense of humor and authority figures rarely take them seriously. Spunky kids can reach them when no one else can, but their attempts at matchmaking don’t help. Both love a good spot of violence.

Now does anyone know of another show that matches these two with crisp dialogue and complexity? I could use something new and awesome to get me over these canceled show blues. In the meantime, I wonder if there’s any Veronica Mars fan fiction. Or comics.

Covert Affairs – Unrealistic But Fun

Few people would claim that the TV show Covert Affairs gives an accurate picture of CIA. Rookie operative Annie Walker sees far too much action for that to be possible. Yet, much like summer blockbusters tend to take viewers on adventures of suspended belief, Covert Affairs turns on the charm and offers a fun ride if you promise not to nitpick.

The fact that season two begins mere days after the season one finale does establish the events in a more reasonable time frame (spacing 11 action-packed episodes over a full year instead of a few months makes things more plausible). But enough of analyzing the realism. Is Covert Affairs worth watching? Yes!

This is a USA Network show, so as you’d expect, it’s the characters that make this show worth watching. Piper Perabo does a decent job as Annie, but it’s Christopher Gorham’s role as Auggie Anderson that really makes the show shine. Auggie used to be a field operative, but after an explosion left him blind he was moved to an analyst position (complete with a bunch of cool toys). He helps Annie through her first rough weeks at the Agency and becomes a close friend and confidant. It’s Auggie she turns to when she decides to ignore protocol to protect an asset or catch a bad guy, and he jumps at the opportunity to do a little field work.

Their boss and their boss’s boss are a married couple, which makes things interesting. Sometimes their disagreements and mistrust just seem to fill time on an episode, but Peter Gallagher and Kari Matchett are such excellent actors you don’t really mind.

Caution – spoilers for season 2, episode 1 beyond this point!

The promos for the season premiere did a good job of not letting you know the outcome of the season one cliffhanger. I was a little surprised they decided to keep Ben Mercer alive. I was kind of hoping he would be gone this season. Both Jai and Auggie make far superior romantic interests for Annie (though I foresee – and prefer – Auggie staying just a friend for the next season or two). I don’t understand why Ben wasn’t able to say goodbye to Annie – they were together for all those days, and it’s not like the CIA couldn’t orchestrate a simple secret meeting. But at least it seems like Ben won’t be getting much screen time for the next while.

One of my biggest disappointments about the premiere was how little we saw of Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Though since he’s now in the credits (and Ben isn’t – yay!), I imagine that will change in future episodes.

The new credits are a nice mix of old and new. I love the theme song (though it seems spliced a bit awkwardly this time). I’m glad the rest of the main cast gets to show their faces. I hope Anne Dudek (who plays Annie’s sister Danielle) has more to do this season, and rumors about her growing suspicions indicate that will happen.

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