Sunday, January 27, 2013

LESSON LEARNED: Why you shouldn’t watch soaps while sick

I’ve been sick for a month now.

Okay, maybe it only feels that way. Real time? Four days, but it might as well be a month.

I learned a valuable lesson this week, though: Don’t watch soaps when you’re sick.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m fairly cranky and whiny when I’m sick. So, watching my favorite soap – in this case ‘General Hospital – turned into an impossible chore when I started focusing on everything that was wrong on GH instead of right.

What am I talking about?

Sabrina needs to grow up: This is a grown woman right? This isn’t a middle school girl? I’m confused, of course, because I’ve had to listen to her whine about a man she has never dated for the past week (more like months). If Sabrina wants to be taken seriously, maybe she should stop the middle school antics and move on. Forget Britt, Patrick is never going to truly care about you because of Robin. Let it go.

Liz needs something to do: When did Liz turn into Amy Vining? The fact that they’re using the beloved Rebecca Herbst to prop a vapid newbie is infuriating. Why isn’t she being put in scenes with Sean Kanan’s A.J.? It’s become clear that they’re pushing A.J. towards Carly – which will make him the third man on the canvas panting after Carly like he’s in heat and she’s the only female on the planet. She already has Todd and Johnny, she doesn’t need A.J., too. Set him free! Kanan and Laura Wright have great chemistry, but no one is going to be able to get past their mutual history and accept them. Let it go.

Connie’s dastardly steal a middle-schooler’s book plan is getting old: To be fair, the whole Connie storyline is over and done. I don’t care about Connie. I don’t care about Sonny. Forcing them together on my screen isn’t going to help matters. All it does it make me fast forward through their scenes. However, this “Love in Maine” disaster only serves one purpose: I now officially hate Maine.
Britt needs to realize that she’s not smarter than a five-year-old, let alone a fifth grade: Why is it that soap characters are openly mean to small children as a way to show they’re evil? GH has went out of their way to prove to viewers that Britt is evil and Sabrina is good since day one. We get it. We don’t need to see Britt threaten a small child. Anyone else hope Anna beats the snot out of Britt? Just a tip, though, GH – I still don’t like Sabrina, even though you’ve sacrificed Britt at her altar.

The vampire storyline is stupid: I love Lynn Herring, but GH should have just let the whole vampire thing go. Are you telling me Lucy never reads the newspaper? Because Sam McCall would have been all over it when she got her baby back, when the baby “died,” when she got blown up in a limo, etc. John McBain also would have made the papers for the whole bioscare, Faison scenario and that whole Todd Manning coming back from the dead thing. In this media obsessed world, you’re telling me Lucy never saw any of the stories done on these two? Stake the vampire storyline pronto.

Ellie is the new Hannah: How am I supposed to invest in Ellie when she’s clearly being set up as the new Hannah – or Siobhan, for that matter? The writers are clearly making Ellie the foil to Maxie and Spinelli’s “happily ever after.” Why should we root for her when we know where you’re going with this story? Setting Ellie up to eventually be evil isn’t going to make me root for Spinelli and Maxie – and it’s not because Maxie is suddenly lying to Lulu and Dante about losing their baby. It’s because I can’t stand Spinelli – I haven't been able to stomach him – and I never will. This isn’t going to help.

Olivia’s hallucinations aren't entertaining or illuminating: Olivia’s psychic trances were never fun for me. I always found both the acting and the writing in the scenes painful. The writers keep beating that dead horse, though, and I’m done caring. Steve is leaving the soap soon – send Olivia with him.

Rant over -- until spring allergy season.

What do you think? What storylines are working and which ones aren’t?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

‘The Following’ offers fun take on serial killer genre

There weren’t very many shows I was looking forward to this mid-season.

One of the ones I was genuinely excited about, though, was FOX’s ‘The Following.’

Not only does the show star the underrated Kevin Bacon – but it also follows a cult of people that were brainwashed into killing for an incarcerated serial with a narcissistic personality disorder.

The show debuted last week, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.

Between a deranged fan covered in Edgar Allen Poe quote tattoos stabbing herself in the eye in the opening minutes to Maggie Grace’s surviving heroine dying in the final minutes, the show was a non-stop roller coaster.

‘The Following’ is a limited run series at this point – and I like knowing that certain things are set in the show. It’s not that I don’t trust FOX – but I don’t. They’ve killed too many shows before their time while holding on to reality dreck like ‘American Idol.’

James Purefoy of ‘Rome’ fame stars as Joe Carroll, the former professor with a fetish for killing his students.

Bacon’s Ryan Hardy is the former detective that was obsessed with him – until finally catching him. Of course, he got stabbed in the chest in the process and now is kept alive by a pacemaker.

Shawn Ashmore plays a young investigator and Natalie Zea plays Carroll’s former wife.

A lot of the intrigue in the series revolves around Zea’s Claire Matthews. Not only did she give birth to her serial killer husband’s spawn – but she also had an affair with Hardy after Joe Carroll’s arrest.

While I could barely tolerate Zea on ‘Justified,’ I find her quietly compelling on ‘The Following.’ I reserve the right to change my opinion, though, as things progress.

The story I was most interested in was Maggie Grace’s Sarah Fuller – a former nursing student who was the only known survivor of Carroll. After escaping custody, though, Sarah Fuller comes to a rather brutal (and surprising) end – and Carroll willingly gives himself back up to police.

While Grace isn’t exactly a huge star, she is a big enough name that people know who she is. I was surprised they killed her off so soon. It was a gutsy move, though.

Now, Hardy realizes that there is more evil than just Carroll himself, Carroll has had his followers kidnap his son, and the endgame of a man that lives to play games has been set in motion.

‘The Following’ is never going to win any awards, but for fans of the serial killer genre – it has a lot of bite and a charismatic lead. It’s definitely worth a shot for crime aficionados.

‘The Following’ airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on FOX.

Ten things I expect to see in the Star Wars universe now that JJ Abrams is taking over

When it was first announced that Disney would be taking over the ‘Star Wars’ franchise I was understandably leery.

Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘Star Wars’ and I love Disney – in fact I have two different rooms in my house dedicated to both – but it was a big move.

Then Disney announced that Michael Arndt would be writing the script. Who is Michael Arndt? He’s the guy who wrote ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’
Suddenly things were looking up. Fans didn’t have to worry about Arndt writing painful “meesa” jokes and demanding fans find them funny.

As a devout ‘Star Wars’ fan, I can’t pretend that the prequels are good movies.

I actually like ‘Revenge of the Sith,’ but ‘Attack of the Clones’ is the worst movie in the franchise, and ‘The Phantom Menace’ isn’t far behind. Somewhere along the line, George Lucas got addicted to computer graphics to the detriment of the story.

Now, I don’t doubt Disney is going to utilize computer graphics. They’re also going to bring in people that are going to put a quality script together – one that (hopefully) won’t have some of the worst dialogue known to man in it.

Abrams has already resurrected ‘Star Trek’ – and wonderfully so. He’s capable of doing great things with ‘Star Wars.’

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to put a wishlist together of things fans want to see Abrams bring to the franchise (Note: This is meant for entertainment purposes only).

As a big fan of both ‘Lost’ and ‘Alias,’ I’m looking forward to Abrams’ take on my favorite franchise.

So, here are the top ten things I expect to see in an Abrams ‘Star Wars’ movie:

10. The Smoke Monster Cometh: Whatever dark Jedi tries to take on the Force is going to have a rude awakening, when the new Jedi security system results in a billowing pile of smoke that crushes faster than the Hulk in a tizzy.

9. Bad Robots: Since Abrams’ production company is called Bad Robot, I’m thinking we’re going to see a tragic shift in the next movie when C3P0 and R2D2 cross over to the dark side.

8. Ceti Alpha V is overrun by Han’s superior intellect: With Abrams helming both ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ movies, non-geeks are bound to get confused and think the universes are connected. I say this is a great way for Han to take on Khan and see who really does have the superior intellect.

7. Leia loses her head: After Abrams sees that Carrie Fisher has cut her hair, a memo will be handed out to ‘Star Wars’ actors and actresses forbidding the act. Since viewership is tied to hair length, the entire ‘Star Wars’ franchise will fall thanks to Fisher’s hair foibles. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Keri Russell will not be asked to audition for the role of Jaina Solo. Many Bothans died for this haircut.

6. Live together, or die alone: To head off infighting in the rebel alliance, anyone questioning Luke’s leadership skills will be tossed in the Pit of Sarlacc – where they will remain until John Locke moves the planet.

5. The Teddy Bear Picnic Attack: Harrison Ford hilariously called the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’ the Teddy Bear Picnic. While I actually liked the Ewoks as a child, as an adult, I can admit their, um, shortcomings. As an offering to fans, I think the vaunted followers of Rambaldi – led by the now omnipotent Arvin Sloane – should take on the Ewoks for Endor supremacy. Anna Espinoza vs. Lupat, Kuzari Bomani vs. Chief Chirpa, and Julian Sark vs. Wicket. Let’s get ready to wub-wub.

4. Now we know why the Stormtroopers can’t hit anything: It’s a running joke in the ‘Star Wars’ universe that Stormtroopers couldn’t hit the broad side of the Death Star if they were standing inside of it. At least with Abrams directing, there will be a reason for that. All the lens flare is blinding them. If you don’t get that one, ask a ‘Star Trek’ fan.

3. Everybody loves Hugo – the Fat Jedi: Lucas may have highlighted themes of acceptance in all of his work, featuring a colorful array of characters of just about every ethnicity, what I haven’t seen in the ‘Star Wars’ universe is a fat jedi. Bring on Hurley, the ‘Lost’ ‘Star Wars’ freak who wanted to write ‘Empire Strikes Back’ for George Lucas when he was in the past so Lucas wouldn’t have to go through the work twice. The force is strong with this one – as long as you can feed him.

2. Jack Bristow -- Super Spy Jedi: Of all the characters Abrams ever realized on screen, Jack Bristow is my favorite. In the capable hands of Victor Garber, ‘Alias’ featured spy daddy in just about every scene imaginable. I’m thinking Garber should bring Bristow to the future, where we now find him working as a bounty hunter for hire and taking on Harrison Ford’s aging Han Solo in a never-ending smirk off. What? Crazier things have happened.

1. Looking for love in Alderaan places: We still don’t know if original cast members Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will be involved in the project – but I think it would be stupid to ignore them. What I desperately want to see is Luke and Leia sit down and admit that their initial attraction to each other was not only all kinds of wrong, but all kinds of icky, too. I don’t care what Lucas says, he didn’t plan on making Luke and Leia brother and sister until later in his writing process. If that’s not the case, then the dude is all kinds of creepy.

What do you think? What do you want to see from an Abrams ‘Star Wars’ movie?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where did 'American Horror Story' go wrong?

With the second season of ‘American Horror Story’ coming to a close Wednesday, I can’t help but wonder what could have been.

The ‘Asylum’ arc started out so strong. There was a solid mystery at the center of the show, the asylum itself could have been its own character and the demented factor was strong but not over-the-top.

You can’t say that anymore.

The show has been floundering for the past few weeks, but the past two episodes have been almost painful to watch.

Forget how anti-climatic Lana’s escape from the asylum was, what was up with the boring death scene for Dr. Thredson? I know I, as a fan, wanted so much more – and that was before I had to watch a grown man breastfeed with a prostitute.

Then, this week, I can’t even fathom what the writers were thinking when they crafted the episode. Each section of the episode encompassed one story – but no section felt complete.

Kit’s a sudden polygamist (without any indication of how he explained that to Alma), Lana went from hero to pathological liar, Jude may actually be crazy – and the demented adult that thinks he’s the offspring of Bloodyface and Lana is running around trying to find the book she wrote. Huh?

So where did ‘American Horror Story’ go wrong? Let’s take a look:

5. Wasting Joseph Fiennes: Unless they have some humongous reveal in the finale – that shows Monsignor Timothy Howard was somehow behind the whole thing and involved in more of the stories than we’ve initially seen – the entire story surrounding Howard was a complete and total let down. Fiennes may not be his brother, but he’s still a solid actor, and he was completely wasted this entire season. What story did he have of his own? His character growth also seemed so out of character, I could never get a real feel for what he was and what his motivations were. Is he just a simple man that got caught up in protecting his own reputation? Or is he a sociopath? The sad thing is, I have a feeling we’ll never find out.

4. Killing off characters too soon: While Asylum had some issues, the best characters this season (aside from Jude, Lana and Kit, of course) were the devilish nun, Dr. Arden and nymphomaniac Shelley. Shelley was so underused it was criminal – and there was absolutely no fallout from her disfigurement or death. Are you telling me, even then, a woman being mutilated and dumped at the school wasn’t a big story in the media? Sister Mary Eunice was one of the bright spots of the entire season. Her delicious devil was all kinds of fun – even when deflowering the monsignor. While Dr. Arden “riding” her body into the crematorium was powerful, it was also abrupt – and the narrative for the season was disrupted by losing the duo so soon before the end of the season.

3. Dropped stories: Show creator Ryan Murphy is the master of dropped storylines, but this season AHS seemed to have more than usual. The biggest, of course, is the monsters in the woods. They were a big deal in those first two episodes – and then they began to taper off. Let’s forget, for a second, what a waste it was to bring someone of Chloe Sevigny’s talent onto the show and then give her so little to do, but what happened to the rest of the monsters? Were all of them tracked down and killed? How did no one else ever see them? The other dropped storylines I was curious about revolved around Anne Frank. What happened after her lobotomy? What did she remember? There was so much more they could have done with that story. Then there was the murderous little kid and the murderous Santa Claus. Where was the follow-through on those stories? 

2. The Angel of Death: I love Francis Conroy. I have loved her from the minute I saw her on ‘Six Feet Under.’ I think she’s a tremendous actress with a tremendous likeability factor. Her angel of death, though, was not only forced but ludicrous. I was intrigued to see Conroy in last week’s episode – thinking there had to be something to the character that I missed and now they were going to reveal it. Nope. Turns out that the “new” inmate was just in Jude’s mind. I get that the battle between the ultimate good and evil was being waged in the asylum, but the angel of death was developed in such a cheesy fashion that I couldn’t help but laugh each time she was on screen. Just awful.

1. The Aliens: When I first saw the aliens, I thought that something so horrible had happened that Kit couldn’t accept it so he made up the aliens in his mind. I didn’t think there would actually be aliens. Since that time, the aliens have saved Kit from certain death, resurrected Grace, brought two strange babies into the world and then stood by while Alma killed Grace and then either committed suicide or was murdered herself in the asylum. The asylum arc had a lot of promise – introducing aliens seemed to actually detract from the central story of the asylum. Of course, we could find out that this entire thing has been some demented nightmare – but if the story stands, and the aliens are actually real, I think they make the season more laughable than anything else.

What do you think? Where did ‘American Horror Story’ go wrong this season?