Monday, July 14, 2014

TV Tweets 2, and the Most Epic Under the Dome Recap of All Time!

Hey TV friends! Sorry for my post-procrastination lately, but after the winter from hell, the great outdoors are calling me (my computer, not so much). 

A while back, I admitted my shameful secret to the masses: I still don't have a Twitter account (hold for gasps). Now of course that doesn't mean I'll never get one, but if I want to get to Retta-levels of TV recapping greatness, I have to practice. So with the summer TV season officially upon us, here's my second round of 140-characters-or-less TV tweets, or quick takes on the new and returning shows that I had time to check out (in between trips for ice cream, of course).

Welcome to Sweden: Pilot was cute and funny - not a must watch, but a pleasant diversion with a likable lead #yaygregpoehler #what'swiththeterriblecommercialeditpoints?

Cold Justice: So many crimes, so little time! These ladies don't play around and neither do the DA's #makin'arrests #watchwithwhitewineandsweats

The Leftovers: Two eps in, it's all sadness, all the time on this HBO bleak-fest. I give it one more shot before I throw these leftovers out #majorbummer 

Graceland: A thrilling start to the second season of USA's most summery offering - tune in for plenty of Mike/Paige, Charlie/Briggs action #butlet'svotedaleoutalready

Drunk History: I'm laughing and learning - who could complain? Season 2 is bringin' it #anothershotwon'thurt #waitwherewasI?

Nathan For You: Want to feel extremely uncomfortable? Watch Nathan give fake business advice to real people and cringe/laugh for days #ghostrealtor 

Now that we've sped through the current crop of summer shows, it's time to slow down and focus on the return of one, very special program. That's right! It's time again for Leah's Under the Dome recaps - and boy does she have an amazing one for us this week. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD for all you Dome-heads out there. For the rest of us, the following will make absolutely no sense, so feel free to read on and dip your toe in the craziness pool that is this show. Thank you, Leah! Your dedication to this train-wreck is greatly appreciated!

Leah's Under the Dome Recap (Week of 7/14/2014)

After a long year of doing interesting and productive things, I began my Under The Dome summer duty with the first episode of the new season. It was called "Heads Will Roll", but no heads rolled.

The show began with a dramatic recap of the first season, including epic shots of people gasping and the memorable clip of the cow being severed in half by the dome dropping (I've only seen this clip about 40 times). We were suddenly back in the action of hot Barbie getting ready to be noosed for crimes he didn't commit, when the miraculous pink light shone and everyone (besides the characters who have speaking parts of course) collaspes to the ground. A giant bell flings out of a church and heads straight for the dome wall, and we know shiz is about to happen.

Suddenly Julia appears on the edge of the lake where she dropped the mysterious egg into the water, setting off the pink star reaction. A girl appears out of nowhere drowning in the lake, and Julia jumps in to save her. Then a rustic-looking slightly older guy, who I will call the HOM (hot old man) emerges out of the blue and gives the girl mouth to mouth. We later learn he is an EMT-alcoholic-Junior's Uncle-man. They mentioned his name, but I missed it and didn't bother to rewind. It might be Zach, or Sam.

Here's the main story - the dome is now MAGNETIC and so everything flies toward it at mathematically inappropriate times and speeds. Linda, the heroine police officer of the first season gets hit by a flying car against the dome trying to help Barbie out of his magnetic handcuffs. She dies! What! The HOM tends to Julia's wound through all this, and he is very friendly indeed. A little too friendly.

Barbie meets a new woman Rebecca who tries to shoot him for breakng into her car - she goes from hating him to trusting him for no reason whatsoever, and we learn that she is the town's high school science teacher. She has been studying the dome since it first appeared and even made a huge representational model of the town and dome (it was definitely made by a team of skilled prototype designers). She looks like a model, and her voice sounds like a robot.

With all this magnetic stuff flying, Joe gets a nail THROUGH HIS HAND, and surprise surprise, he's okay! Just a little rusty nail through the hand. Big Jim starts hallucinating and sees Dotie, the girl he killed (Dough-tee? Dowty?) and shes really creepy and stuff. Meanwhile Julie and the HOM tend to the "the girl" who showed up in the lake. Apparently the HOM has a random sketchbook where "the girl" is drawn in there among other random shiz. She doesn't speak, yet escapes his cabin and walks through the street possessed among all the fallen folk. He should have been keeping an eye on her, geez!

Big Jim sees creepy Dotie again, and when she warns him of dire consequences, he yells "Shut up, I'm busy!" to the ghost-hallucination. Rebecca tries a genius copper-wire experiment to counteract the dome's magnetism, yet when Barbie connects the wires everyone else collapses ot the ground except for him! Must be because he's so hot.

Miraculously Julia is also awake and finds Barbie alive and well - they kiss, and I wish I could feel his beard scruff like she does. Big Jim is the third person who is also awake, and he now sees a Linda hallucination and greets her with "Who the hell are you supposed to be, the ghost of Christmas future?". She informs him of the virtue of sacrifice, and he decides to hang himself from the noose. This decision has NO rationale behind it whatsoever.

Sadly Big Jim can't reach the noose's lever on his own, but Julia volunteers to pull it for him, having no idea why he's up there in the first place. She responds to his charming request of "I can't pull the damn lever! Any of you want the honors?" This makes less sense to me than leaf blowers (but really, what is their purpose? They just move the leaves from one place to another).

Shockingly, Julia doesn't have the guts to pull the lever, so Big Jim kicks something (why didn't he just do this in the first place?) and starts to fall in slow motion. Ninja Julia cuts the falling noose with a knife the HOM just happened to give her - get this - just in time. Suddenly the magnetic field drops and "the girl" is shown creepily tending to Linda's body against the dome. All is well after this, and everyone decides to go to the coffee shop and be normal again.

We get clips here and there of Junior's mom painting pictures, though she's supposed to be dead, so she's connected to all this in some way. "The girl" is shown walking through town aimlessly again, and Angie follows her to a high school locker. Once "the girl" runs away and Angie looks in the locker, an axe flies at her and we see blood spatter. Not ANGIE!

I guess it's okay that Angie's gone. Her yellow low-cut shirt has been bothering me since day one.

Watching this series again is going to be epic, I can tell already. I forgot that the show existed until Liz reminded me, but I'm glad she did. Can't wait to see what the HOM does next! Prediction: he will steal Julia away from Barbie (they had an unspoken sexual tension) and Barbie wil be left over for me. Score!

See you all next week for a look into the return of Showtime's Masters of Sex! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Farewell to Enlisted, and My One Year Blog-A-Versary!

About a year ago today, I started this blog the way I have started lots of things in my life; with excitement, a little anxiety, and of course, the nagging thought: "Will anyone even care what I think?"

It's safe to say we've all driven down the road of negativity when starting something risky and creative. For me, that street was full of potholes such as: Who's actually going to read this? Will I quit before I really begin? Other people have been doing it better, for longer, so what's the point?

Well, friend, I'm here to tell you to turn that car around, and start driving in the other direction ASAP! Don't let the capital F Fear: "What will other people think?" stop you from doing something you love. If writing this blog for a year has taught me anything, it's the fact that you need no one's permission but your own to make your passion a reality.  Don't wait for someone to tell you it's OK to start. Just start, and when you reach that milestone, the one you never thought you would reach, celebrate how far you've come, and get pumped for how much further you get to go. Writing this blog for all of you has been challenging, freeing, and most of all, just so incredibly fun. So thank you, reader, for coming along on this journey with me. We've got a lot more TV to cover, so hang on tight - it's going to be an awesome year!

Now, I know I said I would be discussing Graceland in this post, but I'm going to have to hold off on that until the end of the season (it's been fantastic so far though - don't forget to tune in!). I changed up my plans because last week was the series finale of the critically adored, yet ridiculously under-watched Fox comedy, Enlisted, and I wanted to make sure the show got the send-off it rightfully deserved.

So, that finale….wow. It hit me in ways I never would have expected (yes, waterworks over here cried her eyes out, no surprises there), and moved me more than any sitcom in recent memory. But let's start from the beginning. When the show first premiered, I noted that the characters came to us almost fully formed, and the world of the show was a place I immediately wanted to spend more time in. This is incredibly rare for a brand new sitcom (think, Brooklyn Nine-Nine for another example of perfect world and character building right off the bat), but it also sets the bar very high for the series to come. Well Enlisted met and surpassed that bar over its short, 13-episode run by addressing PTSD, army life, women in the military, and complex family relationships in a realistic and subtle way. Also, uh, it was HILARIOUS! Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young nailed their respective roles as Pete, Derrick, and Randy; three brothers who react wildly differently to the army experience. With impeccable comic timing and a deep sense of who their characters were, these three impressed me every week and left me constantly wanting more. And as the rest of the Rear-D platoon became as developed as the Hill brothers, we got some of the funniest ensemble scenes on TV, and one-liners that had me spitting out my drink on a regular basis (Michelle Buteau, please find something else immediately, as Private Robinson will be greatly missed).

In the series finale, "Alive Day", Enlisted took on Pete's unspoken, but obvious, struggle with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan. Alive day represents Pete's close call with death during active combat, and his brothers' support along with continued therapy helps him to get through the anniversary of losing his fellow soldiers. But at the army ball, Pete breaks down after having seen a tribute from his brothers and sisters still overseas, and flees the rest of the ceremony in favor of some alone time at the beach. In the touching final scene, the squad finds Pete sitting on the sand, in a dark place after re-living one of the most traumatic moments of his life. I couldn't help but think of my Dad, my Uncles, and my Grandfathers, all veterans whose individual experiences in the military brought them different levels of loss and pain; different opportunities to either reach out to others or turn inward; different ways of viewing the world upon their return to civilian life.

After Pete expresses his guilt over being alive instead of his friends, the line that got me - I even teared up trying to explain it to my family over dinner the other night - was spoken by Sergeant Major Cody (played by the excellent Keith David): "It's ok to feel guilt, son. It's ok to feel joy too." UGH. Someone get the tissues again! Then the soldiers get to have a beautiful moment in the waves together. Things aren't fixed forever. Pete still has a lot of issues to deal with, but he's not a stereotype. He's not going to fly off the handle like we might expect. Instead, as the sun sets, he gets to swim in the ocean with the people who love him, and are there for him. He can, and will, still feel guilt, but in this moment, he can also feel joy.

With a unique sense of humor, and a point of view pretty much lacking from TV at the moment, Enlisted goes down with the likes of Better Off Ted and Freaks and Geeks, as a short-lived, brilliant piece of television that I will be sure to revisit again and again. If the large amount of fan art, critical love, and support from the military is any indication, Enlisted does have a shot at getting picked up by another network for Season two. But until that day (please please please!) or your DVD or Netflix release, Enlisted, I salute you.

Orphan Black SEASON FINALE Recap: Season 2, Episode 10: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried **Warning! A slew of spoilers lies ahead, although if you're reading this, you've probably already seen it**

"My name is Sarah Manning, and this is my unconditional surrender." So starts a season finale full of twists, surprises, and finally some answers to our burning questions (plus…more burning questions for next year, of course). Where to begin? Sarah surrenders herself to the Dyad, in a humiliating scene full of blatant human rights violations and disgustingly invasive questions (which I'm sure made all my fellow lady viewers cringe), and another amazing performance by Tatiana Maslany - although, when didn't she crush it this year? Sarah subjects herself to this, of course, for the sake of Kira, who is currently being held as bait by Rachel, in some strange, screwed up mother-child role play that gave me a sufficient dose of the heebie-jeebies. Turns out, they want one of Sarah's ovaries to dissect and study immediately, and she's scheduled for surgery by Rachel and the creepizoid Dr. Nealon. Not to worry, the ever-brilliant Cosima gets Kira and Scott (oh, Scott. Bless your beautiful Canadian heart) to help her create a way for Sarah to get out of it, but not before Rachel SMASHES KIRA'S BONE MARROW DONATION ON THE FLOOR, rendering her latest sacrifice for her aunt pointless. What goes around comes around though, and Rachel ends up with a projectile pencil to the eye, curtesy of a Cosima physics lesson and a cleverly drawn clue from Kira. Sarah escapes, only to find Marion, the head of everyone's favorite new big-bad "Top Side", releasing Kira to her in exchange for a meeting the next day. Turns out, Project LEDA has a male, military clone contingent, Project Castor, and guess what? Ex-prolethian Mark is one of them. Oh, and NBD, but there's a new eight-year-old female clone who is growing up self-aware in Marion's care. Oooh boy. This whole thing just blew wide open, folks. Also: Mrs. S. gave up a pregnant Helena to Paul and the military (dammit Paul! You were military all along you wooden-faced master of deception!) in exchange for Sarah's safety - what are they going to do with her, and what does this mean for the rest of the clones? There are so many questions to answer for next year, but for now, we can all fully enjoy the fabulous clone-dance-party-sleepover scene that, for me, brought this finale to the next level, both technically (the special effects are so incredible for the sheer fact that we don't think about them at all while watching) and character-wise. For a season so full of tension, it was such a pure joyful release to watch this "family" finally reunited and having a blast.

Thus ends another exciting season of Orphan Black. While there was no hope of matching the level of perfection from Season 1, this year was consistently thrilling, funny, surprising, and original, leaving this fan-girl on the edge of her seat for Season 3. See you in 2015, Clone Club. If we've learned anything from the past 10 episodes, it'll be worth the agonizing wait.

Catch you next week for more TV fun, and thanks again for reading!