Tuesday, April 8, 2014

That's How You Do a Finale! - Being Human

 

I was worried, then scared, then my heart broke, then it soared, then I cried, then cheered.  All this means the series finale of SyFy's Being Human was fantastic! 


SPOILERS

Right off, we heart-breakingly lose Sally (Meghan Rath), who selflessly sacrificed her spirit self to keep Aidan (Sam Witwer) - entranced by demon-child Ramona (Helen Colliander), who was the personification of evil trapped in the house our quartet has lived in throughout the series - from killing Josh (Sam Huntington).  Sally's final act makes Aidan human, something he hasn't been for centuries.   Helluva gift, but then, Sally loves Aidan, so it was worth it. 

Aidan embraces his renewed humanity, which includes copious amounts of cheeseburgers, until he learns his new life comes at a cost:  he quickly learns he has the body of a 90-year-old and has little more than a week to live.  He's terrified to die - he was, after all, a vicious killer during his vampire tenure - so he begs another vamp to turn him.  Josh stops him, though, and convinces him that he WILL move on in death (which, for this show, appears as a door to walk through).

When Ramona continues her house-bound killing spree, Aidan makes a sacrifice of his own, burning the house down with Ramona - and himself - inside, destroying her once and for all.  Josh and wife Nora (Kristen Hager) - they're werewolves) - arrive to find the burned shell of their former home - and Aidan's ghost.  Friends reunited!  I was happy for this, but not as happy as when Aidan's door arrives ... with Sally waiting for him on the other side!  She wasn't destroyed after all.  She just went on to wait for him.  *sniff*

The episode ended with  Josh and Nora lying blissfully in a field, having dreamt of the four friends living together happily in each coupling.  We then meet their two children - son Aidan and daughter Sally - and fade out to the sound of playful laughter.

A happy ending.  Love it!  Thanks, Being Human, for doing a finale ever so right.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

So How Did They End? - Psych and HIMYM

They are now gone but will not soon be forgotten.  But were the finales satisfying?  Did they pay off after their long runs?  Some series for me have gotten the endings just right (Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer), others not (Quantum Leap, Dexter, St. Elsewhere). So how did we say goodbye to Psych and How I Met Your Mother?

 

SPOILERS AHEAD


Psych's finale was awesome!  The happiest of endings, with Shawn (James Roday) finally moving north to be with his love Juliet (Maggie Lawson).  The whole episode had Shawn building up to make the move, leaving lifelong bro and bestest BFF Gus (Dule Hill) behind, and technically he did.  But Gus, realizing he had a friendship "for the ages," quit his job - well, eventually did after changing his mind 12 times - and followed his pal to San Francisco to continue their adventures. 

Shawn's adorable proposal to Juliet at the end of the episode was long and wordy but in the most adorable way - we, along with Juliet just wanted him to friggin ask! - but most importantly was when he asked Juliet if she would "marry us - well, mostly me, but Gus will always be there."  Juliet always knew Shawn and Gus were a package deal in her future, and she (and we) wouldn't have it any other way.

I do wish the whole gang, including Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Shawn's dad Henry (Corbin Bernsen), could have been together in the end, but Shawn's moving on with his life with them behind in Santa Barbara is something I can live with.

Here's to seeing our Psych friends again!

 

I'm still digesting the finale of this wonderful show, which bowed out just hours ago.  Admittedly, it did not go entirely where I expected it to.  For weeks we speculated that the Mother - whose name is Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti) - had passed on, and it did indeed turn out that way.  What I didn't expect is that Ted (Josh Radnor) would eventually find his way back to his first true love Robin (Cobie Smulders) ... with his kids full blessing and encouragement. 

I've read a lot of comments online, and a lot of people are calling this a terrible ending, hating it thoroughly.  I don't feel that way.  I am disappointed that they chose to have Tracy die - Milioti and Radnor had perfect onscreen chemistry and made an adorable couple.  But the show over the nine seasons always had a back-and-forth tug between Ted and Robin, so having him come full circle to be with her (six years after Tracy's passing - a very fair mourning period), even calling back to their first date, blue french horn and all, was something I can live with.

Harder to accept was Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), having accomplished his "perfect month" (31 women in 31 days), finding out that "Number 31" was pregnant.  So he becomes a dad and finally finds the truest love of his life (yep, he and Robin get divorced after just three years of marriage) in his daughter.  The fact that on the day she is delivered he is still calling the mother of his child by her number is insulting, even for eternal cad Barney.  It goes on to show that he is very much in his daughter's life, but unclear if he has joint custody or he is living with the mother (if that's the case, to still not call her by name ... really?).

Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) were still together, happy and procreating.  Still one of TV's best marriages.

I really enjoyed how the episode played out, taking us through moments over the years leading up to the year 2024.  It was very realistic how they incorporated changes in each of the characters' lives, the progression of their relationships, families and careers.  Life isn't always sunshine and happiness, and HIMYM has brilliantly incorporated moments of sadness and heartbreak while not pushing us into super-drama territory.  So this ending had that and, while it's not the ending I wanted, I can accept it. 

I still wish Tracy had recovered and had a long, loving life with Ted.  But at least they shared a great love in for a time, and that's what counts - and what we're meant to take away:  love who you love as much as you can for as long as you can. 

I like that very much.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sorry to See You Go - HIMYM, Being Human and Psych

Over the next few weeks I along with millions of others will be saying goodbye to three really entertaining, often surprising, frequently touching series:  CBS' How I Met Your Mother, SyFy's Being Human and USA's Psych.


Seems like only yesterday we were saying goodbye to a group of Friends we had gotten to know over a decade like they were our very own.  Now we're doing it all over again with Ted, Lily, Marshall, Robin and Barney. This quintet of quirky, loveable, relatable people have made us laugh, cry and everything in between for nine seasons.

 

The overall arc of How I Met Your Mother is the story of how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) met the love of his life and mother of his two children - who we, on the cusp of the final episode, still only know as The Mother (Cristin Milioti).  But it's been so much more than that.  We've also followed the love story of Lily "Lily Pad" Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall "Marshmallow" Erikson (Jason Segel), college sweethearts who have one of the healthiest TV marriages ever.  There's been Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), a career-minded newswoman who had an on-again-off-again relationship with Ted but ultimately ended up marrying reformed player playboy and eternal Bro Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) in the penultimate episode.  As for Barney, I dare anyone to tally just exactly how many women he slept with over the course of the series before finding true love with Robin.  Most of his conquests were tabulated is his infamous "Playbook," which actually played a role in his elaborate, romantic marriage proposal.

Any fan of the show will instantly know things like "The Bro Code," "Legendary," "Suit Up" and "The Slap Bet."  Man, I'll miss these and so much more!

If you haven't seen this amazing, heartfelt, hysterical show, where have you been? Seriously, though, it's in crazy syndication on several different channels daily, and each can very much stand on its own in watching.  But it really is a wonderful journey to take, and these actors have chemistry and comaraderie that will still have relevance and be just as entertaining decades from now.

*sniff*

 

This series is lesser known to mainstream TV but has still been a great ride.  Based on a British series of the same name, Being Human has followed the lives (or, in some cases, afterlives) of vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer, Smallville), werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington, Veronica Mars) and ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath, The Assistants), who all live together in a renovated Boston brownstone in what they initially named "the experiment."  Could these three supernatural entities co-exist?  They did not only that, but actually have become a family, eventually welcoming Josh's wife Nora (Kristen Hager), also a werewolf (turned, actually, by Josh).

(L-R:  Rath, Witwer, Huntington, Hager) 

This is another example of great casting, with actors who not only gelled really well with each other, but made you root for their characters, despite bad things they may have occasionally done, if only by nature of their creature selves.

These folks have seen a lot of ups and downs over the course of their four-season story, and I'm really hoping the writers give us happy endings for all when the series concludes in two weeks. 

*sniff sniff*


 

Last but not least, there's Psych, the first of the three to say goodbye (tomorrow night).  This is one of the looniest, silliest, most playful shows on TV - and it's not even a sitcom!  I'm not sure what you would classify it as.  It's not a dramedy cause it only got heavy a mere handful of times. It's just in a genre of its own.

Psych follows the adventures and antics of Shawn Spencer (James Roday), a man with such an incredible gift for observation and detail that he parlays it into a career as a (faux) psychic detective (yep, it's kind of like The Mentalist except Psych came first and Simon Baker's Patrick Jane outs himself as a fake psychic - Psych even made mention of that "other" show in an episode).  He and his lifelong bro Burton "Gus" Guster (Dule Hill) frequently consulted on cases for the Santa Barbara police department - and solved pretty much all of them - much to the chagrin of head detective Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), his partner Juliet "Jules" O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) (don't worry ... Shawn and Jules they eventually fell in love) and police chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson).  Also annoyed by Shawn's complete inability to take pretty much anything seriously is his father, retired cop Henry (Corbin Bernsen).

(L-R:  Lawson, Bernsen, Roday, Nelson, Hill, Omundson)

The fact that Shawn didn't take things seriously gave him cart blanch to do whatever he wanted, consequences be damned, and that meant the show could play at anything - and it did.  There certainly has never been a show so dedicated to and celebratory of pop culture, especially of classic (by classic I mean 80s and 90s) TV and music. And this is one show that did a musical episode and got it right. (see also Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling)


Once again, I have to cite cast chemistry, especially between the male leads.  Roday (above, right) and Hill have one of the most entertaining and hysterical bromances on TV.  Considering what Shawn has put Gus through over the eight seasons the show has been on, you can't help but wonder "why are you still here?!?"  He's there because they are best friends, they are each other's wingman and they'd be miserable without each other.  Which poses a wondering ... there have been rumblings that Shawn and Gus may in fact part ways, should Shawn decide to leave Santa Barbara to join Jules up north where she has her new job with Chief Vick.  Could it be?? Let's hope not.  Batman without Robin?  Starsky without Hutch?  Turner without Hooch?  NO!!

*sniff sniff sob*

So with a sad heart, I bid a fond farewell to these three terrific series, grateful to have them available in syndication, through streaming and on DVD.  May I recommend thoroughly checking all three out.  You won't be sorry!

How I Met Your Mother series finale airs Monday, March 31 at 8pm on CBS.

Being Human series finale airs Monday, April 7 at 9pm on SyFy.

Psych series finale airs tomorrow, Wednesday, March 26 at 10pm on USA.








Monday, March 17, 2014

PaleyFest - Lost

 

Another fantastic PaleyFest panel, this time celebrating the 10th anniversary of the premiere of Lost, one of the most innovative, original, addictive, puzzling, spectacular series in television history.

Now, here is where I would go into a brief synopsis of the show for those (few) of you who may not be familiar with the show but honestly, I can't. Wikipedia gave it a shot though, so here you go:

"Lost is a primarily character development based drama series containing elements of science fiction and the supernatural that follows the survivors of a commercial passenger jet, Oceanic 815, flying between Sydney and Los Angeles that crashes on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific. The story is told in a heavily serialized manner. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline on the island, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life."

Oh, that SO doesn't cover it.  There's just no way to sum up those magical, mystical six seasons.  Too much happened.  Too many twists, turns, secrets, shockers, so many characters, flashbacks, flash forwards, plus an ending that may be one of the most debated ever (love it, hate it ... it's all up to you).

 

It was so great to see many of the cast members, joined by showrunners and head writers Damon Lindelof (who co-created the show with J.J. Abrams and Jeffrey Lieber) and Carlton Cuse, back together again and enjoying the reunion immensely.  It would have been impossible to get all the primary actors together on this one night, but Paley rounded up a nice group that included (L-R) Lindelof, Cuse, Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Ian Somerhalder (Boone), Maggie Grace (Shannon), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), and Malcolm David Kelly (Walt).

First wee were treated to a screening of the episode "Exodus Part 1," the first half of the epic first season finale.  It's always so cool watching a show in a room full of fans who appreciate what they're seeing.  Then everyone went wild with applause as each panelist came out. 

 

Most shocking was Kelly, who was just a kid when the show began.  To see him all grown up is surreal.

The group covered a lot over the course of the discussion, which was moderated by comedian Paul Scheer who was determined to get answers (yeah, right ...).  Here are some highlights (beware spoilers):

 

  • Ian Somerhalder (above, L, with Grace) was the first actor cast and the first character killed off.  Says Somerhalder affectionately to Lindelof and Cuse, "You gave me death but you also gave me life."  He was so professional about getting the axe, Lindelof said "That was great.  We gotta kill more of these guys!"
 (Cuse, L, and Lindelof)

  • There really wasn't a script completed when they started casting, and several characters were created after actors who the creators liked auditioned(among them, Yunjin Kim, who at the time was one of the biggest stars in Korea, and Jorge Garcia, who Abrams had seen on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm  and said "We gotta have that guy on Lost!).


  • Kim (pictured above with (L-R) Holloway, Garcia and Somerhalder) is fluent in Korean but her on screen husband, Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) wasn't, and they had a good laugh over how often he wasn't speaking the language correctly in their scenes.
  • Lindelof and Cuse said that during the show's run, the questions they got asked the most were about Walt (played by Kelly, pictured above, right, with Grace and Cusick).
  • The writers didn't want to have the very last episode end, then jolt the audience right into a random ad for detergent or something, so they explored options for a buffer.  They went through their archive of footage and found some from the pilot of the plane remnants on the beach without any people around.  But Lindelof and Cuse said that actually exacerbated the debate about the overall fate of the characters.  Cuse did confirm that the characters were not dead the entire length of the series, but did not elaborate much beyond that.
  • Lindelof said that Lost would have been an entirely different entity had it been on cable or had had fewer episodes per season ... and probably not as good.  
After the panel was done, it was great to see most of the panel sign autographs for those lucky folks who had front row orchestra seats.  I always appreciate when time is taken to interact with the fans, and boy, were there a lot of fans there last night - we were told the Lost reunion panel was the fastest selling event in PaleyFest history.  I felt very luck to be a part of it!

Get Lost all over again with all six seasons on DVD and on Netflix.


Friday, March 14, 2014

PaleyFest 2014 - Veronica Mars

 

What a way to top off a great birthday ... attending the Veronica Mars panel that kicked off PaleyFest 2014!  I was a huge fan of this smart, sassy and incredibly entertaining series that aired from 2004-2007 (first on UPN then on the CW) and am thrilled that, thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign (they reached their $2 million goal in less than a day and reached a 30-day total of over $5 million, making it at the time the third most successful campaign in Kickstarter history), is now a major motion picture opening in theaters today.

The series, created by Rob Thomas, starred Kristen Bell (House of Lies) as teen sleuth Veronica Mars, who lived with her father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni, Just Shoot Me), a disgraced sheriff-turned private investigator.  Once one of the most popular kids in her hometown of Neptune, California, Veronica became an outcast among her peers and went into the family business, solving cases of her own ranging from the leaking of school purity test results and a fake ID ring to larger, season-long mysteries like the murder of her best friend Lily (Amanda Seyfried).  Regular cast members throughout the series included Jason Dohring as bad boy-turned-VM's boyfriend Logan Echolls; Percy Daggs III as best pal Wallace Fennel; Tina Majorino as computer wiz Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie; Francis Capra as biker and VM confidant Eli "Weevil" Navarro; Ryan Hansen as mean boy Dick Casablancas; and Chris Lowell as VM's college boyfriend Stosh "Piz" Piznarski. 



(You are looking at the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars ... yep, I was sitting in the room where the Oscars are presented!)


When the movie was coming together, Thomas managed to get all mentioned above back for the marathon shoot, and all were present at last night's panel (pictured above L-R: Thomas, Bell, Dohring, Colantoni, Hansen and Lowell).  What a fun group this is!  It was so great to see them together again and talking about how much they love and enjoyed bringing Veronica Mars back from the TV dead - something almost unheard of.  They made certain the audience knew how much their support is appreciated, saying over and over how this film couldn't have been made without the fans - the initial backers of the film who contributed to the campaign, with donation rewards that included early digital copies of the film, fan events with the cast and appearances as extras in the film (the rest has been up to Warner Bros).  We were even treated to a special screening of the making-of documentary By the Fans: The Making of Veronica Mars.


Thankfully, they gave away no spoilers of the film, which I personally can't wait to see in just a few hours.  If it does well, there's a chance for a sequel or more, so here's hoping this terrific entity has a long life to come!


Here is Enrico Colantoni at the panel. 

 

And here is me with Enrico!

 

(Context:  it was Halloween and I went as The CW ... the whole channel.  Enrico happened to be at the party I was at). 

Veronica Mars the series is currently streaming on Netflix and available on DVD. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thoughts - The Bachelor

 

Yes, I admit it.  I watch The Bachelor, damn it.  They don't call it a guilty pleasure for nothing.  It's beyond unrealistic, having people meet and get together this way, but its damn intriguing to watch the process, never forgetting how manipulated it must be behind the scenes and through the editing.

Every season host Chris Harrison wraps it up by toting  each as the "most dramatic season in Bachelor history," but this season, featuring ever-controversial bachelor Juan Pablo (couldn't even shave for the proposal, the bastard), can truly be called dramatic and addictive.  There have been some very unpopular leads before, but this a**hole ... don't even know where to begin.  He is so polarizing, so infuriating in his lack of tact, sensitivity, the way he makes excuses for things he says that are so offensive to women, especially to the women who were falling for him.  I have never seen two women walk away from the bachelor by choice, one listening to her inner voice that he was not the man for her, the other realizing that he didn't care to get to know her.


Then of his final two, even though the one, Clare (right), the night of their last date before the proposal, asked him to be honest with her about whether she was the one.  She was ready to walk, but he turned her back around, very clearly making her believe she had a real shot of being the one.  When at the proposal he said she wasn't, she got deservedly pissed, told him off and walked away with her head held high.  His response?  "Whoo, glad I didn't pick her.  A**HOLE!!

He didn't propose to the other woman, Nikki, either, but simply said he likes her a lot and doesn't want to let her go.  She looked disappointed but accepted his final rose.  NOOOO!!! I so wanted both of these women to stand him up.  Hell, even his own family warned these two about him, saying that he's often rude and, when things don't go his way, he leaves. 

Throughout the season he kept using his daughter Camilla as an excuse for the way he acted or didn't act with certain women (he down right slut shamed Clare after a midnight swim he happily agreed to take with her!).  Then there's his comments about homosexuals, which created a firestorm of backlash (he used the word "pervert", later claiming that his language barrier caused him to be misconstrued ... yeah, right). 


He clearly had no interest in learning anything about the women he was dating, never asked them questions, constantly just moved in for kisses and touches.  And when rebuffed, he would just say it was okay, making you think he was thinking "no problem, I've got others."  He never seemed to listen, was oblivious to red flags flagged right in his face, and never seemed fully committed to the experience, unrealistic as it is.  And, like Andi, who got fed up with his constant use of the word "okay", dumped him, I never want to hear him say okay or "I'm just being honest" ever again.  But I have the feeling Juan Pablo enjoys the spotlight and will be chasing it for some time.  Good thing he's greatly vilified himself with the public and will hopefully just fade away, ending his 15 minutes, which is 14.5 minutes too long in my opinion.

Love it, hate it, say and feel what you will, The Bachelor (and its companion The Bachelorette) makes for very intriguing, fascinating, often infuriating, guiltily entertaining television that I admittedly watch.  Respect.

ALL HAIL GUILTY PLEASURES!








Friday, February 28, 2014

Review - Mixology

 

Welcome to mid-season!  While many cable shows are making their long-awaited returns (among them TV Tour Guide faves TNT's Dallas and Rizzoli & Isles and USA's Suits), the major nets are starting to premiere many new shows, among them ABC's Mixology.

THE LOWDOWN

Written by The Hangover's Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and executive produced by many including Ryan Seacrest (yep, yet another job for the man), Mixology takes place in the high-end Manhattan bar, Mix, and follows the exploits and romantic pursuits of ten singles over the course of one night. The 13-episode freshman season stars a cast of relative unknowns:  Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation) is Tom, recently dumped by his fiancĂ©e and out on the town for the first time in a decade with best pals Cal (Craig Frank, 8.13) and Bruce (Andrew Santino, Punk'd); Ginger Gonzaga (Legit), is Maya, an equally beautiful and brutal attorney who’s as beautiful as she is brutal;  engaged (for now) Liv (Kate Simses); aggressive single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra); Jessica’s gorgeous and chic frenemy Fabienne (Frankie Shaw); bubbly cocktail waitress Kacey (Vanessa Lengies, Glee); dark, mysterious bartender Dominic (Adan Canto, The Following); and failed internet entrepreneur Ron (Adam Campbell), who’s having the worst night of his life.


Wow.  Um.  Where to start?  Well, how about the fact that we have a show where the guys are kind-of average joes but all the women are smoking hot?  Yes, it's TV.  Yes, this bar is in Manhattan.  But they couldn't throw a single regular looking woman into the "mix", even in the background?

I'm not a regular bar patron, so I can't say first hand what men discuss while scoping the scene trying to pinpoint who to hit on.  And yes, I know TV dialogue isn't meant to exactly mirror reality, and in most cases I accept that.  It's par for the course, especially in a sitcom.  Friends did it brilliantly in the coffee shop.  And for the ladies, we had Sex and the City, which is still one of my all-time favorite shows (funny enough, both these shows were mentioned in the first scene with our lead guys).    But here, with lines like "kind of want to eat off her butt" and "the higher the heels, the looser she feels" - just creeped me out.  Then there's the reason Bruce has Kleenex strewn all about his apartment.  Not because guys need tissues to blow their noses or for guests.  Nope.  Because he "pops off" everywhere.  Ew.

Side note:  I always wonder why things like this - raunch humor - work so well for me on certain shows (case in point, CBS' 2 Broke Girls) but not on others.  My TV viewing enigma ...

Anyway, back to Mixology.  The show moves very fast, jumping around the bar to hone in on how everyone's night is going.  It's also yet another show that is making use of the narrative voice over (in this case, it's Bruce) and flashback vignettes to fill you in on the characters' pasts, histories, etc.  It's a helpful way to avoid long blocks of exposition, but while I still enjoy this trend on certain shows (ABC's delightful The Goldbergs), and does seem to work here, it's starting to become too common a go-to storytelling device.  For this show, I kind of wish the writers felt they had enough to work with to keep us within the bar, if that is the unique premise I think they want us as viewers to acknowledge - one night, one bar.  But to be fair, that might not be interesting enough to carry through 13 episodes.

Mixology reminded me a lot of the movie Swingers, with Tom here being Jon Favreau's sweet-hearted, broken Mike and Bruce being Vince Vaughn's chauvinistic, womanizing Trent.  There's also the more recent Crazy, Stupid, Love (insert Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling into the roles, respectively).  I love Swingers. I adore CSLMixology ... eh.  I guess with so much to watch these days, it's going to take an amazing show that nabs me right from the jump to win me over.  I may be being unfair to Mixology, but that's how it goes. 

Then again, when I see the show embracing low-brow humor similar to that featured in The Hangover - a movie franchise I really didn't enjoy - like when beer is poured over a baby seconds after it's born, I forgive myself for rash judgment.

Admittedly, I do wonder what's going to happen, being that the show covers just one night.  If it's renewed, will it just each season be a different night with the same people in the same bar - this group's Central Perk - or will it carry on to their ongoing lives stemming from this night forward?

A positive - I do like the last line of the pilot:  "This is the story of 10 strangers, one night and all the ridiculous things we do to find love ... and the night has just begun."

BOTTOM LINE:  I can see Mixology mixing it up with ABC's lineup, but not necessarily with mine.

Mixology airs Wednesdays at 9:30 pm on ABC.