Category Archives: Television

Flashback Friday-Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style (2007-2008)

These days, there is a slew of makeover shows on television.

In 2007, Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn became the star of his own reality show, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style (2007-2008). Co-hosted by Veronica Webb in the first season and Gretta Monahan in the second season, the subject of each episode goes through the standard head to toe reality show makeover. As long as each participant follows Gunn’s rules for fashion, they are allowed to express themselves via the clothes they choose to wear.

There is a reason why this program lasted only two seasons. Though Gunn is well respected in the fashion industry, the show was just a little too cookie cutter to survive in the cutthroat world of reality television.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review-Wesley Wyndam-Price

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

By stereotype, the British are believed to be traditional, by the book and unable/unwilling to move away from the tried and true. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this 2D character stereotype was introduced in the form of Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof). Sent by the Watchers Council to be a second watcher to assist Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart-Head) with slayers Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Faith LeHane (Eliza Dushku), their relationship does not start well. Full of it and not exactly able to do his job, Wesley is as ineffective as one can get as a Watcher.

It does not help that there is a mutual crush between himself and underage Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). When the final battle happens between the students of Sunnydale High and the Mayor, Wesley is knocked out as the battle is just getting started.

The viewer then sees Wesley in Los Angeles. Filling a void left by Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), he joins Angel Investigations working with Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia. When Faith is hired by Wolfram and Hart to kill Angel, but she kidnaps and tortures Wesley instead.

A while later, Wesley develops feeling for Winifred “Fred” Burke (Amy Acker), the newest member of the team. He also switches to the dark side when he tries to save Angel’s newborn son, Connor (played as a teenager by Vincent Kartheiser), but his throat is slit in the process. After dealing with loss, a bruised ego and discovering the truth about his father, he dies next to his beloved, Fred.

To sum it up: Over the course of his time on screen, Wesley moves from a pompous know it all who is obsessed with rules to a man who more often than not, gave into his flaws and weaknesses. But in the end, he redeemed himself by fighting for what was right. As an audience member, I can’t ask for a better character arc.

P.S. Fun fact: Alexis Denisof and Alyson Hannigan are married IRL and have two daughters.

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Throwback Thursday-Mom at Sixteen (2005)

Being a parent is never easy, regardless of age. But so is infertility.

In the 2005 TV movie Mom at Sixteen, Donna Cooper (Jane Krawkowski) is a high school teacher who desperately wants to be a mother. But she is wrestling with infertility. Jacey Jeffries (Panabaker) is a sixteen year old who has discovered that she is pregnant. Her mother, Terry (Mercedes Ruehl), forces Jacey to keep the baby and arrange for adoption after the baby is born. But Jacey decides to keep the baby and have her mother raise her grandchild as her own child. How can Donna help and will Jacey be able to raise her child?

For a Lifetime movie, which is usually oozing schmaltz and predictability, Mom at Sixteen is pretty good. I appreciate that the film honestly depicts both teenage pregnancy and the turmoil that comes with being infertile. Both topics are emotionally difficult, but this film plays in a way that does not feel forced or overdone for the sake of a few more eyeballs on the screen.

Do I recommend it?

Yes.

 

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Flashback Friday-Behind the Music (1997-Present)

Behind every successful musician is a human being who did everything they could to see their dreams become reality. Along the way, there are predictably a few bumps and bruises.

Behind the Music premiered in 1997 on VH1. For the last 22 years, it has been one of the staples of the network’s schedule.

Each episode focuses on the lives and careers of a specific band or artist. Each artist or band is followed as they grow up, struggle to make it as a performer, become successful and try to maintain that career while dealing with the everyday stuff that we all deal with.

I really like Behind the Music. In terms of the biography format,it doesn’t feel forced or glossed over. Each artist has the opportunity to tell their own story in a way that it unique and personal to them.

I recommend it.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Darla

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The hallmark of any good character is change over the course of their time that they are on the screen or on the stage. Without that change, the character is static and unappealing to the audience. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Darla (Julie Benz) went through what can only be described a roller coaster of change.

When the audience meets Darla in the premiere episode of BVTS, she is just another vampire out to kill as many humans as she can. But unlike other vampires on BVTS and Angel, the audience gets to know Darla. Born in the 16th century, she was turned into a vampire by The Master (Mark Metcalf) in the early 17th century. Nearly and a century and a half later, Darla sired Angel (David Boreanaz), who became her lover. In the mid 19th century, their twosome grew to a foursome when Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau) joined their group.

In Sunnydale, Darla sees the town and her living residents as fresh meat. She understands that fighting Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) will require intellect as well as physical strength. She uses Angel, who is now with Buffy to get the slayer. Ultimately, it is Angel who stakes Darla.

Three years later, Darla is revived by Wolfram and Hart to get to Angel. This plan gets tangled when Angel and Darla sleep together. Her last act on earth is giving birth to their son, Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), redeeming herself after centuries of murder and destruction.

To sum it up: As a character, Darla goes through an extraordinary change. As a viewer, Darla is one of the more interesting characters because of the journey she goes on and the change that she experiences. It is our job as a writer to create that roller coaster. If done well, that roller coaster not draws the audience in, but keeps the actor on their toes. This is why BVTS and Angel fans still have a high regard for Darla.

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Thoughts On the 20th Anniversary of The Lost World

Like all good things, our favorite television shows must come to an end. After they end, they fall into one of two categories. In the first category, the show fades into memory as a relic of that time in your life. In the second category, you are still emotionally tied to the show years after it has left the air.

For me, The Lost World, falls into the second category. This year, the small but committed fandom (of which I am a part of) is celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary.

Loosely based (and I mean very loosely based) on the novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World is about a group of explorers who find a world populated by creatures and characters that had only been thought to exist in the imagination.

To celebrate the show’s anniversary, a new Instagram account has been setup to excite the fan base and encourage new viewers to discover the show via Amazon Prime.

For me, The Lost World is and will always be one of my favorite television shows.  The writing was amazing, the acting was pure perfection and it was just one of those programs that I will always love.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Kendra Young

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Art has a strange way of imitating life. Like in real life, some people are not meant to be around forever. They are just meant to be part of our lives for a short time before moving on. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) was only on the show for a brief time. In the world of BVTS and Angel, when one slayer dies, another one is immediately activated.

After Buffy is killed by The Master before being brought back to the life, Kendra is activated as the new slayer. Kendra’s entire world is being the slayer, while Buffy is balancing being a normal teenager with her slaying responsibilities. She nearly kills Angel (David Boreanaz), thinking that he is one of the baddies.

Over time, Kendra and Buffy become friends and learn from each other. That friendship is cut short when Kendra is killed by Drusilla (Juliet Landau).

To sum it up: We learn from everyone we meet and every experience we have. Though her time with Buffy is brief, Kendra teaches Buffy to accept her destiny as a slayer and Buffy teaches Kendra to enjoy life. When creating narratives and characters, no matter how far out the world maybe from the real world, there still has to be an element of reality. Buffy and Kendra’s friendship, as brief as it is, leads to life lessons that can only be learned from one another.

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Throwback Thursday-Mystery Diners (2012-2016)

When the cats away, the mice play. The same could be said for employees who act one way in front of their bosses and another way when the boss is not around.

Mystery Diners aired on Food Network from 2012-2016. The premise of the show was as follows: A restaurant owner was suspicious that something was going at his restaurant, but he couldn’t quite figure out what the problem was. Enter Charles Stiles and his team. The restaurant is rigged with hidden cameras. As Charles and the restaurant owner watch from a hidden control room, mystery diners are sent in as customers or new staff to get the lowdown from the unsuspecting employees. When there is enough proof, the cover is revealed and the owner of the restaurant makes a decision on what to do about the offending staff.

This is a typical reality show. But unlike other reality shows, there was a disclaimer at the end of the credits. From my perspective, even if it was not 100% “reality”, I still enjoyed it. The element of surprise, for both the audience and the restaurant owner was enough to keep me coming back for further episodes.

I recommend it.

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Mrs. Wilson Review

When we marry, the expectation is that the person we are marrying is who they say they are.

In the miniseries, Mrs. Wilson, Alison Wilson (Ruth Wilson, playing her grandmother), receives a rude awakening after the death of her much older husband, Alexander (Iain Glen). Her husband was good at keeping secrets. His most potent secret was that she was not his only living wife. Coleman (Fiona Shaw), her husband’s handler from World War II is not too forthcoming with information. There is also the question of Dorothy Wick (Keeley Hawes), who keeps popping up as Alison tries to find out the truth of her husband’s life. As the series flips between the beginnings of Alison and Alexander’s (who was known as Alec) early relationship during the war to the 1960’s, where the widowed Alison is desperate for answers.

I have to admit that I am impressed with this series. I am impressed because this is a very personal story for Wilson. It takes a lot to share a personal story that is part of her family lore with the public. As a viewer, I can understand why Alison was not the last woman to fall for Alec. He was charming, intelligent and appeared to radiate qualities that would qualify him as a good man.

Both Wilson and Glen are familiar faces to Masterpiece viewers. Wilson made her Masterpiece debut in the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre. In 2011, Glen had a brief role as Sir Richard Carlisle, Lady Mary’s fiance on Downton Abbey. As Alison and Alec, I was rooting for them as a couple. On the same note, my heart was aching for Alison as she grieved not only for her husband, but for the husband she knew.

I recommend it.

The first two episodes of Mrs. Wilson are online. The final episode airs this Sunday at 9PM on PBS. 

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Thoughts On The Latest News from the Jussie Smollett Case

Earlier this week, all of the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett were dropped.

I am to be honest, not thrilled that the charges were dropped. As an American, I am bothered that Mr. Smollett used the justice system and cried wolf simply to get a raise.

To be specific, there are four reasons why I am bothered by this case:

  1. The Chicago Police department, like every other police department in every other city has limited resources. He wasted what amounts to $130,000 of time, man power and financial resources of the police when there are real cases that were put on hold. From my perspective, he could at least pay the department back for their efforts.
  2. Among the many that work and dream of performing for a living, only a small handful ever see that dream become a reality. His false claims of a hate crime spit in the face of everyone who has tried and failed to make it as an actor.
  3. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Hollywood, but I do know that actors usually sign a contract that states the details of their employment after they are hired for a job. There have been many actors over the years who have renegotiated their contracts or bargained to change the terms of their contracts before re-signing. There are other ways to change the terms of one’s employment without getting the police involved.
  4.  Hate crimes are real. Too many are attacked because of their skin color, their religion, sexuality, etc. If someone is attacked for who they are, they may think twice about going to the police, allowing the perpetrator to remain free. The police, for their part, may question if the attack was real or if it was made up by the “victim”.

Only time will tell how the fans and Hollywood react. But karma has a way of getting us all back, one way or another.

 

 

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