Thursday, May 31, 2012

Common Law is worth a look

In general, I treat summer shows differently than fall shows.

When I look at my summer favorites, they’re essentially lighter, more fun and loads more enjoyable than much of the network drivel that clogs the airwaves in the fall.

Sure, most summer shows aren’t going to win awards in the grand scheme of things, but I’d still rather watch ‘Psych’ than ‘The Bachelorette’ any day of the week.

In other words, summer shows may be light on the psychodrama, but they’re heavy on the laughs.
The newest entry into the cable summer fun melee is USA’s ‘Common Law.’

The show is actually airing its third episode Friday (June 1) – but I didn’t catch up with it until Memorial Day weekend.

I’m honestly sorry I waited.

There’s nothing new about bickering police partners. We’ve seen it in everything from ‘Lethal Weapon’ to the ‘X-Files.’ That doesn’t mean ‘Common Law’ isn’t entertaining.

Essentially, the show is about Wes (Warren Kole) and Travis (Michael Ealy). They’re longtime partners who have been forced into couple’s therapy by their boss because one of the men pulled a gun on the other.
Their therapist is played by the always appealing Sonya Walger (‘Lost’) – who plays into the narrative between the men more than one would initially think.

Both Wes and Travis have established back stories.

Wes is divorced (but friendly with his ex) because he had a job as a high-powered attorney which he quit to become a cop. He’s also anal retentive, a neat freak and often at wits end with the eccentric Travis.

Travis is a child of the foster care system. He was shuffled from home to home over the years, and he has a support system that consists of a variety of different mothers and fathers. He’s also a man whore that has slept with just about everyone in the office – which makes life difficult for him and his partner.

Both men have their demons – mind you – it’s not all fun and games.

They also have a healthy competitive streak with one another.

It’s too early to tell if ‘Common Law’ will join the truly great summer series like ‘Psych,’ ‘Burn Notice’ and ‘White Collar’ – but it definitely has laid the groundwork to accomplish just that.

Ealy and Kole are both so charismatic, watching them argue all day would be entertainment in and of itself. Both mysteries the men have solved so far, though, have been entertaining as well.

Anyone looking for something light and fun to engage them this summer should probably check out ‘Common Law.’

It airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on USA.

What do you think? Will ‘Common Law’ become common summer viewing?

Game of Thrones ends second season Sunday

Like it or hate it, you can never call ‘Game of Thrones’ boring.

The HBO ratings juggernaut sees its second season come to an end this Sunday – and fans can’t help but lament the fact that 10 episodes have flown by so quickly.

I know it hardly seems real to me either – and I’ve been keeping track.

I actually came to the ‘Game of Thrones’ party late.

I kept hearing how great it was – but for some reason I could never get through the first episode – no matter how hard I tried. Finally, I forced myself to sit and watch it in its entirety. I didn’t love the series yet, but I was intrigued.

By the time I was done with my viewing of the second episode, though, I was in love with the show.

‘Game of Thrones’ isn’t your ordinary television fare.

It’s got grand storylines, sweeping sets and engaging characters – whether they’re good, evil or both. You can’t say that about most television programs.

What’s interesting about the ‘Game of Thrones’ world is that very few characters are purely evil or completely good. The lone exception to this is Joffrey. That little punk is pure evil and I can’t wait until he dies.

The rest of the characters, though, live in a gray area – just like the real world. Sure, ‘Game of Thrones’ is a magical show with dragons, and magic and smoke assassins – but its drama is rooted in reality.

By the end of the first season, you realize pretty quickly that none of these characters are safe.

Sean Bean (‘Lord of the Rings’) was the biggest name associated with the show and his Ned Stark was beheaded before the end of the first season. Essentially, the Westeros world isn’t safe for any of our heroes.

While I’m intrigued by many characters, right now Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Arya (Maisie Williams) are my current favorites. Tyrion’s appeal is obvious. He’s brave, smart and funny in every scene. Dinklage commands attention no matter what he does – and he was born to play Tyrion.

Williams, however, is different. Of all the children, Arya is the one who has to carry the most story. Bran and Sansa are also important, but, so far at least, they haven’t been the focal point like Arya has. At 15, Williams manages to not only steal every scene she’s in, but she holds her own with experienced and lauded adult counterparts.

I think I’m so attached to Arya because she reminds me of me when I was her age – only I didn’t see my father beheaded. The worlds aren’t the same, but Arya sees herself as equal to the men she shares space with – and thusly earns their respect.

The other character I’m enjoying is Cersei (Lena Headey). Sure, the woman is generally evil, but her deeds often spring out of love for her children. I also like that she admits that her eldest son Joffrey is a bereft beast.

Last year, Daenerys and Jon Snow were my favorite characters. I don’t dislike them now, but I’m just more interested in Tyrion and Arya. That’s the wonder of Westeros, really. There’s always a new discovery around the corner.

Last week’s penultimate episode consisted of the battle for King’s Landing from start to finish. The battle was on scale with ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the final ‘Harry Potter.’

Despite the horrors of the episode and dark scenes of Cersei readying to kill her youngest child rather than let him be taken by an enemy – there was also humor and triumph. Both of those were primarily due to Tyrion and his scene-stealing prowess.

I expect this week’s finale will hold a few surprises – because ‘Game of Thrones’ is a show full of surprises.
Unlike other shows, though, I’ve decided to stay spoiler-free with ‘Game of Thrones.’ Why? Because the magic is in the discovery – and knowing what will happen diminishes the magic with this show.

It’s going to be a long wait for season three.

What do you think? Are you going to miss ‘Game of Thrones’ when it goes on hiatus this summer?

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet

There’s an echoing cry reverberating through my house.

The fact that I live alone is an interesting footnote.

Two weeks ago, I lost a cat that I adopted more than 15 years ago.

Rumor stalks my mom's garden.
If you asked my co-workers, they would say the sight of me in tears was something that was more than an abnormality. It was a downright rarity. The only thing that makes me cry is ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘E.T.’

In the time since he’s passed, though, I’ve found myself crying over Rumor more than I can imagine possible.

Most people think I named Rumor after my job. You know, “I heard a rumor.”

Rumor was actually named after one of the Moor Cats in the Terry Brooks Shannara series. I adopted him the day before I moved from my college house down to southeastern Michigan.

Rumor liked to sleep under blankets in front of the heater.
He was a one-pound wonder I adopted from the Mount Pleasant pound.  I still remember his paw reaching out from the cage to make contact with me.

It was literally love at first sight.

About a year after adopting Rumor, I got him a brother. Whisper was named after the other Moor Cat in the Shannara series.

Sadly, Whisper only lived a couple of years. He survived an apartment fire, only to fall victim to undiagnosed feline diabetes.

What was interesting about Whisper is that he was never really my cat.

He didn’t want to be petted, nor cuddled. It was kind of like Rumor was my cat and Whisper was Rumor’s cat.

Rumor and Arwen
They cuddled and cleaned each other for hours each day.

When Whisper died, Rumor was lost. I decided to adopt another cat.

Obiwan is a jet black monster – who I affectionately refer to as the black menace – who is probably smarter than any cat I’ve ever met.

Obiwan can open the attic door and close kitchen cabinets. He’s also got Pica for cats – meaning he’ll eat just about anything.

Obiwan is a congenial cat that tries to fly out the back door to hunt bugs and rabbits any chance he gets. He’s exhausting.

He was a good match for Rumor, though.

Unlike Whisper, Obiwan didn’t want to cuddle with Rumor. He did want to wrestle with him, though.

The duo survived yet another apartment fire together when Obiwan was still a kitten.

Rumor and Obiwan wrestle about a month before he died.
When I finally bought my own house, I found Arwen. She’s a long-haired calico that was an impulse buy in Roseville. She’s beautiful, but stupid.

When she came into the house, the balance shifted. Rumor was still in control, but Arwen was his new cat. He still played with Obiwan – but he slept with Arwen.

Still, when it came time to playing, Rumor and Obiwan always searched for each other. You could hear them actually call for each other. It was a distinctive cry.

 When Rumor got sick, he dropped like a rock. When I loaded him in his carrier to take to the veterinarian, Arwen tried to climb in the carrier with him. She was used to him comforting her.

Obiwan was standoffish, though.

When I came back with the empty carrier, though, things changed.

Obiwan not only spent three nights sleeping in the carrier – which I haphazardly dropped on the floor in the laundry room – but I could hear him constantly calling for Rumor.

Rumor and Arwen
Arwen, however, didn’t seem to remember Rumor. She wanted more attention than normal, but Rumor was a distant memory.

Obiwan is still struggling, though. He opens the door to the attic daily. When he gets up there, he’s obviously searching for something.

So am I.

I now you’re not supposed to have favorites with kids or pets – but Rumor was my favorite.

Not only did he cuddle up next to me every night – with his head on the pillow and snores that drowned out the bedside fan – but he also liked to be carried around like an infant. He also would actually wrap his arms around me when I picked him up and hug me – head on neck and purring.

Pretending that Rumor was a nice cat would be an overt lie, though. He wasn't. He only liked me -- howling at anyone else that came in the house. He especially hated my mother -- so much so that when he even heard her voice on the phone he'd let his disdain be known.

Yet, with me, he couldn't have been more lovable.

Two weeks after the fact, I can’t decide who misses him more.
Sure, Rumor was like a child to me – but he was Obiwan’s best friend.

Right now, we’re trying to muddle through. At least we’re doing it together.

Grief isn’t something reserved for people, though.

Grief is universal. Animals and people feel it together.

That has never been more clear than watching Obiwan continue to search through the house for his best friend -- and settle on letting me pet him for a few minutes before he picks up the search again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Star Wars celebrates its 35th Anniversary

A long time ago, in a theater far, far away I fell in love with a film series that would somehow consume my life.

Sure, I was two when the first ‘Star Wars’ movie came out – later to be renamed ‘A New Hope’ – but I still fell in love with the original trilogy. I had Star Wars everything – toys, sheets, Halloween costumes, slippers, etc. In fact, my Grandma made me an R2D2 cake every year for my birthday.

Star Wars wasn’t just a movie for me, though, it was a lifestyle.

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was the first ‘Star Wars’ movie I saw on the big screen – and I made my mom take me multiple times. So many times, in fact, that she had her own rebellion and made me stop at six. I tried to squash that rebellion like I was the Emperor himself – but my fate was much the same as his.

Then, when ‘Return of the Jedi’ came out – I was in fourth grade and the obsession really took hold. Yes, I even loved the Ewoks. When I went to Disney World that year, I didn’t get any plush Disney stuffed animal – I immediately was drawn to Wicket on the stand.

I was not one of those little girls who wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid or to dress up Barbie dolls. In fact, during all that Cabbage Patch hoopla – I got the Millenium Falcon and scoffed at all the girls carrying those ugly little dolls around.

Part of my office
Instead of pretending to mother those horrific things and brush their yarn hair, I was off liberating the galaxy and making it safe for rebel scum everywhere.

Do you think I’m obsessed? Yeah, it’s a little sad.

The truth is, my obsession still continues to this day. Sure, I’ve added ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ into the mix – but my house is still a ‘Star Wars’ home.

Between cookie jars, board games, messenger bags, earrings, hats and more T-shirts and hoodies than I can even name – my ‘Star Wars’ infatuation has really taken on a life of its own. If ‘Star Wars’ was alcohol or drugs, someone would have organized the intervention a long time ago.

So, what is it about ‘Star Wars’?

I think it’s that the original trilogy managed to spark my imagination. It had a strong heroine that didn’t need any man to save her. Sure, she kissed her brother but she ended up with the handsome rogue in the end – so all was right with the world.

Now, I’m not going to pretend the new trilogy measures up – that would be disingenuous. I honestly think that George Lucas was trying to make great movies when he took on the endeavor – he just got tripped up on his own ego in the process.

That being said, the newer trilogy isn’t awful either. There are some genuinely wonderful moments in the films – especially ‘Revenge of the Sith’ – but they just don’t hold the magic of the original.

So, this Memorial Day, when you’re done with your barbecues and fireworks, pop in a classic (the Blu-Rays are visually breathtaking) and revisit Luke Skywalker and friends.

I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Trust me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CBS holds to successful format

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

That’s CBS’ formula, and you can’t argue with the results.

The number one television network made very few changes in their lineup – the biggest being the axing of freshman series ‘Unforgettable’ and ‘CSI: Miami.’

I think everyone knew that one of the CSIs would bite it – I just wasn’t sure if it would be New York or Miami. Since New York has a better cast, though, I’m glad that’s the entry they kept.

The other big change is moving ‘Two and a Half Men’ from Mondays to Thursdays in an attempt to anchor another comedy block.

Since the show is on its last leg – and should have been put out of its misery awhile ago – I’m not sure it has the strength to anchor another comedy block. 'The Big Bang Theory,’ however, does have the strength – so it will be an interesting experiment.

CBS’ Monday lineup subs in the new sitcom ‘Partners,’ in the 8:30 p.m. time slot on Mondays, moving ‘2 Broke Girls’ to 9 p.m. The rest of the lineup stays the same.

The new show ‘Vegas’ claims the 10 p.m. slot on Tuesdays, while Wednesday’s slate stays exactly the same.

The poor man's 'Psych,' otherwise known as 'The Mentalist,' moves to Sundays to be paired with 'The Good Wife' -- but that's really the only other big move in the lineup.

The only CBS pilot getting buzz is ‘Elementary,’ starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in a modern take on the Sherlock Holmes story.

There’s also ‘Vegas,’ starring Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis and Jason O’Mara. The show is set in the 1960s, but I’m not sure modern day audiences are willing to invest in a period piece – even if the cast is outstanding.
CBS is a network of sitcoms and procedurals essentially. As far as sitcoms go, I like ‘2 Broke Girls,’ ‘Mike & Molly’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ I used to love ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ but the show isn’t fresh or fun anymore.

As for procedurals, they’re really not my favorite genre. I’ll stick with ‘Criminal Minds,’ which I hope will be revitalized with the departure of Paget Brewster, and ‘Blue Bloods,’ which is emotionally rich but sometimes action deficient.

What do you think? Are you glad CBS stuck with what works?

CBS Fall Schedule

8 p.m. How I Met Your Mother
8:30 p.m. Partners
9 p.m. 2 Broke Girls
9:30 p.m. Mike & Molly
10 p.m. Hawaii Five-0

8 p.m. NCIS
9 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles
10 p.m. Vegas

8 p.m. Survivor
9 p.m. Criminal Minds
10 p.m. CSI

8 p.m. The Big Bang Theory
8:30 p.m. Two and a Half Men
9 p.m. Person of Interest
10 p.m. Elementary

8 p.m. CSI: NY
9 p.m. Made in Jersey
10 p.m. Blue Bloods

7 p.m. 60 Minutes
8 p.m. The Amazing Race
9 p.m. The Good Wife
10 p.m. The Mentalist