Thursday, May 30, 2013

'General Hospital' and the great Franco mistake

‘General Hospital’ head writer Ron Carlivati made his first big mistake this week – at least for me.

I know a lot of soap fans think he made his first big mistake when he killed off Jason Morgan – but I applauded that decision (and still do).

The reveal this week that Roger Howarth was the presumed dead Franco (a character originated by the Oscar nominated James Franco) had just about every ‘General Hospital’ fan I know scratching their head. I was one of those fans.

When it looked like Howarth was portraying Franco last week, I had my doubts. The anvils Carlivati was dropping had me convinced that this couldn’t possibly be Franco. I didn’t believe he would be so heavy-handed in his writing. Looks like I was wrong.

First off, I have a hard time believing that the serial killer Franco we were introduced to would make his first dastardly endeavor such a lame one: Poisoning relish. 

Second, Franco was a serial killer and rapist. Why would they have a popular actor like Howarth
portray one of the most hated characters in all of GH history?

Thirdly, and most importantly, what kind of shelf life would a serial killer have as a character?

Well, guess what? They’re rewriting Franco’s entire history.

What do I mean?

  •   Franco did not rape Sam. I know a lot of fans already suspected this, but it’s been confirmed.

  • Franco did not “kill” that guy from the art show. That guy killed himself. The fact that he conveniently did it when it could benefit Franco is just a coincidence.

  • Franco is not behind Michael being raped in prison. That now happened purely because of his association with Jason (Sonny has been conveniently spared).

Are you confused yet? Me, too.

Howarth is a tremendous actor with a tremendous following. Why not create a new character for him? Why resurrect the one character just about every GH fan can agree should be forgotten?

I was thinking that they would make Howarth some unknown Quartermaine/Cassidine heir that had ties to both families. Anything but Franco. I would have taken a Casey the Alien recast over Franco. No, seriously.

Now, I’m not 100 percent convinced there’s still not some revelation out there about this character that we don’t know yet. Why do I think that?

They clearly want to make Howarth's character Kristen Alderson’s Kiki’s father. If they do that and
he is Franco and he is still Jason’s twin brother then that would make Kiki and Michael related by blood – and therefore they can’t pair them.

I don’t see that being a feasible long-term story for two reasons: Alderson’s Starr and Michael were fairly popular when they were paired together a few months ago and Alderson and Michael’s portrayer Chad Duell date in real life.

I don’t know how they’re going to fix this situation – and they desperately need to – but something has to be done. 

I was not a fan that could pretend that Jason wasn’t a stone cold killer. He was not a hero to me. As much as I love Howarth – and no matter how they try to wash away the sins of Franco – I’m never going to be able to accept the character.

As someone that has embraced Howarth’s Todd Manning – a vicious gang rapist and attempted murderer – I know this makes me a hypocrite. It is what it is, though. I’m never going to be a fan of Franco.

On the flip side, I am enjoying both Kiki and Michael Easton's new Silas Clay character. Why couldn't they have done something better for Howarth? And why did Howarth agree to this?

The disappointment is still giving me a headache.
What do you think? Is there more to the Franco story? And are you happy that Franco is back?

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Memorial Day weekend television marathons are scheduled?

Holiday weekends are great for barbecuing, family time and something else – yes, I’m talking about the television marathon.

This Memorial Day weekend is no different, with a bevy of your favorite networks offering a sampling of your favorite shows in supersized blocks.

So what’s on the tube this weekend?


Arrested Development (Midnight to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, IFC)
Bridezillas (10 a.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, WE)
Defiance (4 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, SyFy)
Hoarding: Buried Alive (7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday, Discovery Fit & Health)
Iyanla: Fix My Life (10 a.m. to 8 p.m., OWN)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday, USA)
Longmire (2 p.m. to 4 a.m. Sunday, A&E)
Sex and the City (3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday, Style)
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Bravo)
The Rifleman (6 a.m. to 10 a.m., AMC)

CSI: Miami (4 p.m. to 5 a.m., WE)
Doctor Who (noon to 4 a.m. Monday, BBC America)
Hardcore Pawn (6 p.m. to 11 p.m., TruTV)
Hoarding: Buried Alive (6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday, Discovery Fit & Health)
NCIS (10 a.m. to 11 p.m., USA)
Law & Order (3 a.m. to 2 p.m., TNT)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (6 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday, Cloo)
Mad Men (1:30 p.m. to midnight, AMC)
Nightmare Next Door (9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Investigation Discovery)
Oprah’s Next Chapter (2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., OWN)
Paranormal Witness (9 a.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, SyFy)
Sex and the City (8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Style)
Snapped (10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday, Oxygen)

Baby Daddy (2 p.m. to 7 p.m., ABC Family)
Brizezillas (5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday, WE)
Criminal Minds (10 a.m. to 9 p.m., A&E)
Falling Skies (10 a.m. to 8 p.m., TNT)
Hoarding: Buried Alive: (6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Discovery Fit & Health)
Ice Cold Gold (8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Animal Planet)
NCIS (6 a.m. to 8 p.m., USA)
Royal Pains (6 a.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, Cloo)
The Real Housewives of Orange County (1 p.m. to 10 p.m., Bravo)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

SEASON FINALE GRADES: Who passed, who failed?

The traditional season of television just wrapped up – and I have to say, as a whole, it was pretty much a disappointment.

May is supposed to be when all the shows bring out the big guns to wow viewers. Not only is it a sweeps month, but it’s the last chance for show runners to give fans something memorable to hold on to for the next four months.

As a whole, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the majority of the finales. I have been pleasantly surprised by a few, too.

So, which shows delivered and which ones fell flat?

Note: I didn’t include every season finale for obvious reasons. I just included the ones that stood out to me in a good or bad way.

Bones: I’m pretty much sick of Pelant. He’s been given super human status and I just don’t care. I C-
have never been moved by the Bones and Booth relationship, so the fact that Pelant blackmailed Booth into breaking off the engagement means absolutely nothing to me.

The Following: The show had a lot of promise but completely fell apart at the end. This should have been a limited-run series. C

Once Upon a Time: The second season was a big letdown after the stellar first season – but the season finale was pretty entertaining. Belle got her memory back, Neal got transported home and Emma, Mr. Gold, Regina, Snow and David are all traveling on a ship – with the untrustworthy Hook – to go to Neverland to rescue Henry. A-

Hawaii Five-0: I’ve lost most of my interest in this show. I don’t care about Catherine and I find her relationship with Steve to be forced and contrived. The bickering between Steve and Danny is gone – and so is the fun. Now CBS is moving the show to Fridays. I think it’s bye bye for this crew. B-

Law & Order: SVU: I don’t find anything shocking about this show anymore because pretty much everything has been done. The season finale – with a creepy rapist waiting for Olivia when she got home – didn’t really make me feel for the character. I’m really not worried about Olivia being raped. They went there a few years ago – I don’t think they’re going to visit that well again. C+

Criminal Minds: What a letdown. The season-long unsub – The Replicator – was boring and his motivation was hazy. It made no sense. Strauss died – but it meant nothing to viewers because we never felt any connection to her. This has been the worst season of Criminal Minds – and the finale did it no favors. D-

Nashville: I don’t think this show gets the attention it deserves. While Scarlet and Gunner are boring to me, I am completely invested in Rayna and Deacon’s tortured love affair and Juliette’s quiet sadness. The finale had several great scenes, but the simple one of Rayna comforting Juliette at her mother’s funeral said it all. This show can be really compelling when it wants to be. B+

The Big Bang Theory: Penny and Leonard have come a long way, but Sheldon’s journey is still the funniest and most poignant. A-

Supernatural: This wasn’t a perfect season of the long-running show – but it was the best once since the fifth season. Sam and Dean find strength in their bond. Sure, there are some things about this season that make no sense – including Sam’s wishy washy girlfriend – but the final shot of the angels falling from Heaven was breathtaking. A

Grey’s Anatomy: I am down to caring about a handful of characters: Owen, Christina, Alex, Bailey. That’s it. I don’t care about Meredith and Derek (and I never thought for a second her life was in real jeopardy when she gave birth). I don’t care about any of the insipid interns. I don’t care about the ultra-annoying April. Finally, I’m sick of everyone complaining about Arizona cheating on Callie. Hey, kids, gay people cheat, too. Just because they’re lesbians, that doesn’t mean they deserve some perfect life. This is a soap. Get used to it. B

What do you think? What season finales made an impression on you?

Friday, May 17, 2013

'Star Trek: Into Darkness' satisifies both fans and newcomers

I wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness.’

I wasn’t keen on the idea of a reboot in 2009 – in general, I think the majority of reboots are terrible – but I was blown away by the first installment.

Not only were the movies cast well – especially in the three major roles of Kirk, Spock and Bones –  but they were also well acted and action-packed.

The trailer for the second film was a lot darker – and I was worried the fun of the first film would be lost.

‘Into Darkness’ is definitely darker. There’s no doubt about that. It still has fun with itself, though, and it’s the nods to true ‘Star Trek’ fans that really thrilled me.

There are funny jokes – including making Chekhov gulp when he has to put on a red shirt – and there are poignant moments of true feeling and devotion among the crew members.

The movie opens with Spock’s life in peril and Kirk breaking Starfleet’s Prime Directive to save him.
While the action sequence is tons of fun, it’s really just a plot point to show that Kirk and Spock have differing ideas about duty.

Kirk wants to do his duty – but he’s not willing to sacrifice a crew member to do it. Spock is by the book the entire way – and he’s ready to die if it means that his duty is fulfilled.

Kirk and Spock are the centerpiece of the movie – and their relationship is key. ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ is widely considered the best of the original Trek movies (although I have a soft spot for ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’). This movie is an odd mirror of that – although it doesn’t take the same twists at turns.

At the center of ‘Into Darkness’ is John Harrison, a rogue Starfleet officer that inflicts two acts of terrorism on Starfleet – forcing Kirk and Spock into a moral quandary as they chase him to Kronos (a Klingon moon introduced in previous ‘Star Trek’ flicks).

In the capable hands of Benedict Cumberbatch, Harrison is a marvel to watch on the screen -- a fine physical specimen with absolutely no sex appeal. I know, it's a weird combination -- but it works. You are never sure of his true motivations – and he’s a master manipulator. Most fans already know who Cumberbatch is – but I won’t ruin it for the handful who are still living in the dark.

Instead of killing Harrison – like Admiral Marcus orders Kirk – he is taken into custody on the Enterprise. That’s where the true plot of the movie is revealed.

‘Into Darkness’ really is a love story for ‘Star Trek’ fans. I think those that aren’t familiar with the
franchise will love the movie – but those that loved ‘Wrath of Khan’ will really adore it. Director J.J. Abrams does a masterful job of interweaving the second Trek stories into each other.

It takes a lot to make me cry at a movie – but this one did bring me to tears near the end. I figured out what they were going to do at the end – but that didn’t ruin the ride for me. And the Leonard Nimoy cameo fit in well -- and didn't feel forced.

At its heart, ‘Wrath of Khan’ was a story of what happens when sacrifice and vengeance collide. The same can be said of ‘Into Darkness.’
Not only are the action sequences breathtaking – including a final fight between Harrison and Spock that harkens back to some ‘Star Wars’ glory (Abrams is going to revitalize that series, I can feel it) – but the quiet moments are poignant, as well.

While this film doesn’t have as much humor as the first film – it’s still there, mostly revolving around Kirk and Spock’s combustible relationship.

“Sometimes I just want to . . . rip those bangs right off his head,” Kirk says at one point.

It’s no surprise that their relationship is the one that rings most true in this rebooted franchise. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine embody their characters – and they both look like they’re having a blast doing it.

In the end, I recommend ‘Into Darkness’ to everyone – but true Trek fans will be missing out on a wonder if they skip it.

What do you think? Did you like ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’?