Category Archives: Television

Flashback Friday-The Starter Wife (2007)

When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.

After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).

I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Life, Television, TV Review

Character Review: Finn

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sometimes a new character is introduced in the middle of a story. They may not have been intrinsic to the narrative initially, but they become as important as the characters who were introduced in the beginning of the story.

Finn (Lara Cox) was introduced to the audience about halfway through the third season. When the Challenger Expedition travels (minus Malone, Veronica and Summerlee) through time, they land in on the plateau that they don’t recognize. Finn is living on a post-apocalyptic plateau where she is one of the few survivors. Smart, sarcastic, a little blunt and independent, Finn is a 21st century woman who returns to the 19th century plateau with the Challenger Expedition. Unfortunately, The Lost World was cancelled at the end of the 3rd season, leaving Finn as a character whose development and narrative was stopped before she could grow beyond the audience’s initial impression.

To sum it up: A character’s development and narrative is not strictly based upon when we meet them. Even if a character is introduced to the audience halfway through the story, the writer can still fully develop them to catch the audience’s attention and draw them in.

 

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Trump’s New Immigration Policy

America, despite its lofty ideals of freedom and diversity, can sometimes be described as “do as I say, not as I do”.

Our immigration policy history is not as welcoming as we might think. Added to the list of these policies is President Trump’s new immigration policy, if Congress agrees to codify it into law, will be one more blemish on the lofty ideals that we claim to be proud of.

Unless someone can say that they have Native American ancestry (and even their ancestors had to come from somewhere else), we are all immigrants. Most Americans can trace their family back to someone who chose to leave their family and their homeland for a new life in America. That is the first issue that I have with the proposed amendment to the immigration policy. The second is a reply to the b*llsh*t excuse that has been used for generations to prevent new immigrants from coming into the country: they will take our jobs. While some new immigrants may have a professional background and a degree, many others have to start from scratch. Find me an American citizen who wants to spend their days picking vegetables under a hot sun or washing dishes in a restaurant and earning minimum wage. That person is unlikely to be found.

I could go on, but I think Stephen Colbert’s response and satirical revision of Emma Lazarus’s The New Colossus in response to the new proposed policy says it all.

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Filed under History, National News, Politics, Television

Flashback Friday-The Real World (1992-Present)

Change often comes not when we stay in our own little bubble, but when we step out of our bubbles and into the Real World.

The Real World is the mother of the reality genre as we know it to be today and MTV’s longest running program. Premiering in 1992, the premise is simple: take a group of diverse young people who have never met before, have them live together for a short time, film them while they live together and see what happens.

No topic was off limits: sex, religion, prejudice, abortion, etc. While the original season was filmed in New York City, the show has since traveled all over the US and to parts of Europe. Over it’s 25 year history, the Real World has been the career spring-board for a handful of alumni: Jacinda Barrett and Jamie Chung both have successful acting careers. Sean Duffy, who has represented the state of Wisconsin in the House Of Representatives since 2010.


One could argue, that like every other reality television show, it is a little contrived and as scripted as a non-reality television program. But, at the same time, the show spoke to its teenage/early 20’s audience because the cast was the same age as the audience. To have a television show, when you’re at the age when you are starting to form your own opinions and build your life in your way, speak to you in a way that is unique to your age group is powerful and potentially life changing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, New York City, Television, TV Recap

Character Review: Arthur Summerlee

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every life and every story, there are two perspectives: youth and old age. In The Lost World, the perspective on old age is represented Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff). Summerlee is not only the ying to Challenger’s yang, but he is also the peacemaker and the unofficial father figure to the younger members of the expedition. It was Summerlee who egged Challenger on during the pilot about his findings and it was Challenger, who in turn challenged (for lack of a better term) Summerlee to join him on the expedition.

Where Challenger is hotheaded, brash and sometimes full of it, Summerlee is calm, cool and collected (at least most of the time).  Summerlee is also the first member of the expedition to see past the hard shell of Marguerite to see a woman who is complicated and has had to make difficult decisions to survive. When he was killed off (or appeared to be killed off), an emotional void was left among the characters that could never truly be filled.

Despite all of that, Summerlee had his faults. He too, was prone to having a big head. His greatest regret was walking away from his wife as she lay dying, without so much as a goodbye.

To sum it up: The perspective that one can see from having lived a great many years is sometimes hard to see, but it is a perspective that deserves to be explored. We live in a culture that celebrates the young and the youthful. But we sometimes forget that those of a certain age deserve our respect and attention, especially in fiction. Summerlee represents both the wisdom and regret that comes with reaching the stage in our lives when we are no longer young. When we as writers speak of creating well-rounded characters, we should be speaking of older characters whose contributions, wisdom and advise should be paid attention to.  We never know when this character will teach both the reader and the writer a thing or two.

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Television, The Lost World, Writing

The Mooch-Out

Anthony Scaramucci (known as The Mooch) has the shortest political career in recent memory. He was hired a week and a half ago to replace Sean Spicer as the White House Communications Director. As of today, he no longer retains the position.

The question on everyone’s mind for the last 10 days has been who would play him when Saturday Night Live returns in the fall.

We may never have the pleasure of seeing Saturday Night Live’s sendoff of Scaramucci, but we still have Mario Cantone playing the Mooch opposite Anthony Atamanuik as Donald Trump on The President Show. It’s absolutely perfect.

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Filed under Politics, Television

Peter Dinklage On Dreams And Life

Game Of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage has a powerful message on life and dreams.

In his 20’s he had a regular office job and dreamed of being an actor. But like many of us, logic stepped in and said that acting is not a reliable job. So he worked at his 9-5 job and dreamed of the day that he would be an actor.

Then at age 29, he made a decision. He decided to go after what he wanted instead just dreaming about it.

The message I get from his story is that it is ok to go after what we want. Is it scary? Of course. Does it bring a large amount of uncertainty to our lives? Yes.

But at the same time, living our authentic lives and doing what we want to do instead of doing what we need to do is sometimes the only way to live.

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July 29, 2017 · 8:17 am

Character Review: Veronica Layton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The perspective of youth is often one of hope, light and opportunity. Sometimes that perspective fades as we get older.

Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell) was the youngest member of the Challenger Expedition for most of the three years that the show was on the air.  Veronica is Arthur Conan Doyle’s answer to Tarzan. Her parents, who disappeared when Veronica was a young girl, were part of an earlier expedition. Growing up in the jungle, she learned independence and survival skills early on. But that does not mean that she has lost the innocence and light of youth.

Veronica grows from a young girl to a woman over the course of the three seasons. She has a sort of will they or won’t they relationship with Ned Malone (David Orth), falls briefly in love with a mad musician from the 19th century and begins to understand that life is sometimes hard. But her main goal is to find her parents.  In one of the last episodes of the third series, Veronica and the audience learn of her parent’s fate. Her father is dead and her mother descends from a long line of women who have ruled over the plateau for centuries. Veronica has been kept unaware of her lineage for her own safety.

To sum it up: Growing up is hard. Realizing that the life is not all sunshine and roses can be a difficult pill to swallow. Veronica is example of a great character because on one hand, she is independent and has no problem taking care of herself. But on other hand, she is still young and will be learning (sometimes the hard way) that life is complicated.  When a writer is creating a young character who over the course of the narrative grows up, the key is to make the journey of growing up universal. We all have to grow up at some point. Illustrating that journey properly through the narrative means speaking to the reader, regardless of the time and place that they are living. If the reader feels like the character is not speaking to them, then it is highly unlikely they will want to see the character through to the end of their journey.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Feminism, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Character Review: Ned Malone

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

It’s easy to take someone we have just met or randomly bump into on the street at face value. But looks, more often than not are deceiving.

Ned Malone (David Orth) is initially introduced in The Lost World as the lone American and wet behind the ears reporter who more often than not, needs saving. Far from adventurous, Ned’s motivation to join the Challenger Expedition seems rather mundane: he wants to impress a pretty girl. Ned is secretly in love with his publisher’s daughter, but she has kept him parked in the friend zone for years. To prove his mettle, Ned joins the expedition to not only write about what they will be experiencing, but also in hopes that his crush will notice him and return his affection.

Over the course of the three seasons, Ned become more mature, more confident and more self-sufficient. Part of that due to the friendship turned semi romantic relationship with Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell), a young woman raised in the jungle who is the exact opposite of the woman he was in love with when he left London.

While Ned may appear to be innocent and naive, his past was revealed about a third of the way into the 3rd season. He was unexpectedly drawn into the trenches during World War I and suffered emotional scars that lay deep and open beneath the surface.

To sum it up: No one is just one thing. We all have our light sides, our dark sides, the face we present to the world and the scars that are hidden beneath the surface. One of the primary jobs of a writer is to create fleshed out, 3D characters who are multifaceted and human. Human beings naturally relate to other human beings, whether they be real or fiction. If a character is human and feels human to the audience or reader, the writer has succeeded. If the character feels fake and uncomplicated, the writer still has work to do.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, History, Television, The Lost World, Writing

The New Dr. Who Is……

Among science fiction fans Dr. Who is one of the most respected television series. On the air since 1963, it has generations of fans.

Up until recently, the title role has been played by a male actor. That is about to change.

I am not a huge fan of Dr. Who, but I know enough of the basics to get by. The fact Jodie Whittaker is playing the new doctor is nothing short of amazing. It is one step further towards real equality, both on the screen and in real life.

I hope that she will be the first many women who will one day inhabit the role.

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Filed under Feminism, Television