Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TV Talk: What I Watched / Am Watching This Summer

Summer is nearing its end so I thought now would be a great time to talk about how I'm feeling about what I've been watching.

Note that new series are in CAPS.

Favorite Scripted Shows
Under the Dome (CBS) - I still have yet to read the book this was based on but my goodness, if this isn't my favorite summer TV drama, I don't know what is. I knew that I would like this show way before it first premiered but I couldn't even have predicted the maniac I become on Monday nights when it's time for new episodes to air. I am addicted to this show and love every single second of it. Stephen King writing the season two premiere episode was bananas. And the deaths since then. Wow. Just wow. And the new characters we've meant, their connections to the dome. What those under the dome have gone through this season. The mystery. The tension. Ahhh. Everything about this show is magnificent. Truly. If I had to pick one drama from all of the dramas I've listed here in this post to watch or recommend you watch, I'd pick this one.

Witches of East End (Lifetime) - This season is not holding back! The stakes are so much higher. It's everything that you enjoyed about season one but the bar is raised. I was excited about season two and am so happy that this show delivered and didn't suffer the sophomore slump. To read my episode reviews from this season, head on over to OMFGTV.

Graceland (USA) - Jeff Eastin and his writers are brilliant. Season one was fantastic. I didn't know how the writers would top it but they have made me fall in love with this show all over again. I love this show. I love the tone of the show. I love the characters. I love that we're getting more personal and really digging deep with all of them this season. I am entertained and terrified by the dilemmas the characters find themselves in. This show brings all of the emotions and just when I think it can't get any better, it pulls another one on me. If for some reason, you're not watching this show or think you can't get into it.

Doctor Who (BBC America) - Oh my God! I wanted to be open minded but I'd be lying if I said I had my doubts when the new doctor was announced. And then. That moment. Rise above. Yes, that moment. I fell in love with the new doctor. Regardless, I don't have to see the new doctor in action before deeming this a favorite. I love the storytelling and that for me has always been what kept me coming back to Doctor Who. The storytelling alone makes this an automatic favorite. Can't wait to watch the season premiere this weekend!

EXTANT (CBS) - I mean, is this show underrated or what? I fell in love with this show within the first two minutes of the premiere and my love for this show has only grown. I absolutely love, love, love the world building and character development in each and every episode. The pacing of the conflicts. The tension. Everything about this show is fantastic. If you've been meaning to watch this show, catch up.

Favorite Reality Shows
Big Brother (CBS) - If you follow me on Twitter, sorry, not sorry for all of my tweets and retweets about this show. It takes up half of my summer, every summer and no, I'm not exaggerating. Why do I love this show so much? I mean...why not??? And boy was this season needed after last year's hot mess. Though this season hasn't gone without its controversy. As much as I am and have been a Frankie fan, long before he was on Big Brother, I've been a Big Brother fan longer and wish the rigging weren't so present. It makes me wonder what the producers have got up their sleeves for next season. Hmmm. Anyway, Derrick for the win!

Extreme Weight Loss (ABC) - This show is SO inspiring. I can't even begin to tell you how much this show means to me. But I have started a blog to chronicle my health and fitness journey so perhaps I will be able to put this into words one day.

Face Off (Syfy) - I knew before this show premiered that I would love it but if someone told me I'd still be watching this show faithfully in its seventh season, I would have been slightly surprised and awfully proud to hear it. I think this is the only competition show that I have watched faithfully for years on end from the very beginning and that makes me incredibly happy. Each season brought it and this season is no different. This season rocks. At this point, I hope Dina or Sasha or Keaghlan wins!

Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles (Bravo) - If you know me, this is self explanatory. I love every episode. Not for the drama of the realtors. For the houses. What views. What beauty! Oh, LA. New season premieres this week!

Also Watched/Watching
24: Live Another Day (Fox) - What a return for 24! This show definitely delivered - as expected. I can't say that I watched any episode live though. I watched the first few episodes as screeners and the remaining episodes On Demand when I binge watched over two random days. Well worth the watch for any 24 fan. Loved the familiar faces, new faces - good and bad. And there are some awesome villains. Bravo to everyone involved, especially the newcomers. Yes, I'm mainly talking about Yvonne Strahovski who I loved on Chuck. Go, Yvonne! She rocked!

Switched at Birth (ABC Family) - There was a moment there where I almost considered not watching this show anymore. It was during the Daphne/restaurant boss storyline. But I love this show so much so I kept watching and boy am I glad I did. The second half of this season reminded me why I love this show so much. What an incredible turnaround. The writers are bringing it! Yes, Daphne is still annoying but it's bearable now and the stories, the characters continue to move me. Excited to see what next season brings, especially as the characters leave high school behind. To read my reviews on the last handful of episodes of this season, head on over to OMFGTV.

Heroes of Cosplay (Syfy) - This show wasn't as interesting as it was last year and it felt like the episodes whizzed by so I'm looking forward to an even more exciting season two next year.

Celebrity Wife Swap (ABC) - I don't watch this show regularly. Only when there are certain celebrities on that I'm curious about. In this case, half of the celebrities featured got me watching. It's quite eye opening. It's entertaining too. It definitely does its job. Daniel Baldwin appalled at Jermaine Jackson's hoarding problem. Eric Roberts living so simply. Laila Ali whipping Angie Stone's family into shape. Amanda Beard's life being an example of what Heidi Pratt could have...if only. Jenna von Oy realizing just how much people lose touch with reality while in Jill Zarin's house. What a season.

THE WIL WHEATON PROJECT (Syfy) - This show is pretty cool. It's great to have geek news compiled into a fun half hour show basically in the same format as The Soup. Though it's weird...some weeks I anticipate the episode and other weeks, I'll DVR the episode and get to it whenever I get to it before the next new episode. It's funny because the show is named after him but I don't know how I feel about Wheaton hosting it. Haha. Most times, I don't think about it but there are times when the delivery is just awkward and flat and I wish I could get past it and just enjoy the silly nature of the show but I do notice it. For now though, still watching!

Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC) - It's been so much fun watching Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Valerie Bertinelli, and Rachel & Kayleen McAdams go around the world to find their family roots. One is the descendant of an English King! Imagine their surprise when they discovered this! What an incredibly moving show.

CANDIDLY NICOLE (VH1) - Well if this show doesn't make you laugh, I don't know what will. I knew Nicole Richie was funny but I had no idea to the extent her hilarity went.

Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook- Off (Food Network) - I fell in love with this show last season and am thoroughly enjoying this new season! Twelve year old kids who cook better than I ever will? Amazing!

Need to Catch Up On
Covert Affairs (USA) - Wow. I am 2 seasons behind and I hate that I am because I was head over heels in love with this show when it first premiered. I just got busy. :( But if there's any show that I definitely will be binge watching to catch up on later this year, it is this one. I miss Annie, Auggie, and the team.

CHASING LIFE (ABC Family) - I've only seen the first two episodes of this show but this show is good and unfortunately, I never remembered to watch it when it aired live. So I will have to set aside a day to watch the episodes I've missed On Demand/Hulu/Netflix, the source of course depending on how soon I get to this. That said, if this show does not get renewed for a second season, I will not be moving forward with the catch up game here.

OUTLANDER (Starz) - I am about to start reading the book for book club and I don't plan on watching the series until I finish reading the book. That said, I don't have Starz right now so I won't even be able to catch up on the show right away. Though I've got a ton of reading ahead of me so I won't be bored in the meantime.

No Longer Watching
Falling Skies (TNT) - Yeah... I stopped watching a season and a half ago. But every now and then, I'll watch an episode just to see what's going on in this world. I love this world. Always have, always will. I simply haven't been as engrossed in the characters and their stories as I once was. The show has been renewed for a fifth and final season and as surprising as it may sound since it is rare to say something like this but I am actually happy that this show is coming to an end. It delivered what it needed to deliver in the best way that it could and now its time has come to an end. One day, I will definitely go back and watch all of the episodes that I missed but today, this month, this season, this year is not that year. I can only hope that the final season will do all of these characters and stories justice because there is time to do there's no excuse.

What shows are you loving this summer?

Stay tuned next week to see how my Fall 2014 TV schedule is shaping up!

TV Talk: Face Off Episode 7.05 "Animal Attraction" Review

What a week! Everyone seemed equally excited and terrified about their latest spotlight challenge... creating a new species by choosing two exotic animals to create a hybrid. Boy oh boy was this a tough one. Truly bringing the term "challenge" to life.

Both Cig and George picked the Armadillo + American Alligator hybrid. Sasha picked Tawny Bobcat & Owl. Jason chose Red-Tail Hawk & Fennec Fox. Rachael picked Fennec Fox & Coatimundi. Keaghlan chose the Eurasian Lynx & Kinkajou. Damien chose Tawny Owl & Coatimundi. Stella chose Kinkajou & Serval Wildcat. Dina chose Prairie Dog & Red Fox. Doc chose Bald Eagle & Squirrel Monkey. Drew chose Red Fox & Squirrel Monkey.

Well, this was definitely hit or miss. I absolutely loved Keaghlan, Damien, and Sasha's pieces. So happy that Damien won this challenge! Aw yeah! I liked Cig and George's pieces as well and I could appreciate but what Drew was going for but I didn't love it. The rest? Can't say that I was impressed and I hate saying that because that means Dina wasn't a favorite this week. Eek! But she was safe so that's all that matters. Anyway, Sasha and Damien were the judges' best looks but Cig rounded out the best looks not my choice, Keaghlan. Instead, Keaghlan was actually one of the judges' worst looks! Interesting.

Aside from Dina, Keaghlan and Sasha have been my favorite looks essentially every single week and one of these three better win this season! Anyway, also in the unfortunate state of worst looks... Doc and Stella. I really felt for Stella. She couldn't get past the conceptualization and that ultimately got her in bottom looks. Though she was safe enough not to get eliminated...only that meant that Doc was eliminated. Doc! Nooooo. I liked his work. Wow. I for sure thought that Stella was going and I was so prepared for that. I didn't want Doc to go. No. Oh, this is probably the first elimination I'm not thrilled with because I'm really going to miss Doc's work on the show. Oh! What did you think of this week's looks?

Face Off airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TV Talk: Face Off Episode 7.04 "Twisted Trees" Review

Photo Credit: Brett-Patrick Jenkins

Last week was a busy week for me so I didn't get to talk about episode 7.04. But I'm here now so... "Twisted Trees" brought a foundation challenge and spotlight challenge. The foundation challenge was to pick a model who already had on a cape/costume and create their own superhero in two hours. Mike Elizalde (X-Men: First Class, Hellboy II) was a guest judge for this challenge. The winner, Rachael got immunity for the week. This pair was safe this week so she didn't end up needing it but safe is not a top look, so. I really, really liked Rachael, Vince, Sasha, Stella, George, and Keaghlan's looks. They brought their A game. Talk about fantastic!

The spotlight challenge was to create a twisted tree character by choosing a tree species and each incorporating a malady they were given. And they were in teams again only this time, they got to choose what pairs they would be in. The teams were Jason and Doc (Bristlecone Pine Tree, Malady: Lightning Strike), Sasha and Stella (White Birch Tree, Malady: Burl), Dina and Rachael (Banyon Tree, Malady: Fungus), Cig and Drew (Weeping Willow Tree, Malady: Pests), Vince and Damien (Sequoia Tree, Malady: Rot), & George and Keaghlan (Silk Floss Tree, Malady: Choking Vines).

Jason and Doc were both worried about being a bottom look again and they were on the same team so they were thinking they could come back strong together. It looked like Doc was having some bad luck with the mold at first but in the end, I was very impressed with their final look. From afar, I didn't think much but up close, wow! It's one of my favorites. As well as Sasha and Stella which was so creepy and absolutely gorgeous! I was shocked that Doc and Jason won top looks over Sasha and Stella because I was absolutely enamored with Sasha and Stella's piece. Still, all well deserved recognition all around and Jason ended up winning the top look. Congrats!

I was most excited for Cig and Drew's creation as well as George and Keaghlan's. The latter was beautiful. The former was very different and not quite what I was expecting, even taking into account the missing branches that didn't make it to the stage. It's no wonder Cig and Drew ended up in bottom looks but I wasn't the only one who didn't connect with Vince and Damien's creation so I expected one of these two to go home instead. And Vince did. So, another week where I'm satisfied with how everything played out. It won't be like this for long as more weeks pass and the competition grows even more fierce! Who are you rooting for?

Face Off airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bout of Books 11 Read-a-thon Begins Tomorrow!

It's read-a-thon time! My success with read-a-thons this year has been hit or miss and I'm hoping this one is going to be a hit!

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

My Goal:
Read/Finish Reading at least 5 of the books in the photo above. Particularly...

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Lock In by John Scalzi
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Zodiac by Romina Russell

Since I will be on a road trip to and from Atlanta this week (moving my sister into college), I will not be updating this blog post with my progress until the last day of the read-a-thon. However, I will be sending out updates on Twitter, so feel free to follow me there.

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Disneynature's Bears

Release Date: August 12, 2014
Rating: G
Running Time: 78 minutes

From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth and Chimpanzee, comes Bears — an epic story on a breathtaking scale. Showcasing a year in the life of a bear family — mother Sky teaches her two impressionable cubs, Amber and Scout, about life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop, their journey begins as winter ends. Emerging from hibernation, the three face the bitter cold and an exciting but very risky outside world. Astonishing footage captures the fast-moving action and suspense of an endearing family learning to live life to its fullest in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses.

Brown bears in Alaska? The first few minutes of this documentary almost look like the real life Ice Age! But seriously, I wish there were more documentaries like this across all subjects because these would totally be game changers in the classroom. And these Disneynature films help us appreciate, love, and be in awe of animals even more than we already do and are.

In Bears, we follow a mother, Sky and her cubs, Scout and Amber. First, we follow the family across the snow, running into conflicts such as the dreaded avalanche. Then, we follow the three across the shore to the meadow. They encounter friendly bears and they encounter aggressive, starving bears. Magnus and Chinuk to name a few. After Sky's encounter with these two, let's just that I didn't even know that bears eat cubs when they get to a certain point of hunger. Wow! So not only are there grey wolves like Tikani to watch out for but their own kind! Sheesh. And not only are there bears to compete with for food but ravens. Thankfully, the raven Sky encounters is more of a help though. Eat, play, survive. That's the name of the game here.

Sky must stock up on salmon in the summer before hibernation in the winter. Not only for her but so she has enough milk to feed her cubs during hibernation. Boy, I had no idea the extent of how and where bears go to get their food until now. What an exhausting and at times, terrifying mission. The sound effects and music really made for an even more intense impact as the bears fought for the best spots to feed. It was pretty wild! My oh my. Dangerous.

There's so much that I learned about bears and their journey as they prepare for hibernation, I wouldn't know where to begin detailing my favorite facts. I was also surprised at how fun the narration was. John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights) did a wonderful job narrating and I was definitely way more engrossed in this doc than I expected to be definitely because of his narration. That said, African Cats is, for me, much more gripping and tugs at my heart even more though I am biased when it comes to cats, big and small. But this does a fabulous job as well and now I know a lot more about bears!

Plus, you'll get to see Alaska like never before. What beautiful directing, I must also mention! Absolutely phenomenal. So if you were deciding whether or not to give this a watch, I don't know why you were still on the fence! Go ahead and pick it up! It's well worth your time. And if you really like it and want to see the bears in person, perhaps consider Hallo Bay Bear Camp. Anyone?

Bonus Features:

* Welcome To Alaska (7 minutes) - In this feature, we follow the crew as they set up camp in Alaska, search for Sky, deal with the different weather patterns, and pass the time.

Appearing in this Feature:
Director & Producer, Keith Scholey
Wildlife Cameramen, Mark Smith, John Shier
Field Assistant, Oliver Scholey
Guides, Daniel Bunker, Dewaine Tollefsrud

* The Future For The Bears (7 minutes) - In this feature, Director & Producer, Keith Scholey shows viewers the importance of protecting the wilderness. This can't be stressed enough. It really can't be. If you even think about skipping this feature!!! Don't.

Also Appearing in this Feature:
Lead Guide, Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk
Guide, Dewaine Tollefsru
UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall

* A Guide To Living With Bears (8 minutes) - This feature was especially fun as we get to see how the team interacted with the bears, for everyone's safety and enjoyment while getting great coverage on film for this project. What a sight to see! This is probably my favorite feature.

Appearing in this Feature:
Co-Director & Producer, Adam Chapman
Lead Guide, Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk
Wildlife Cameraman, Gavin Thurston
Director & Producer, Keith Scholey

* How Did They Film That? (8 minutes) - This is a fascinating behind the scenes feature that gives viewers an even better view of the challenges the crew faced getting certain shots in the mountains and underwater over the course of two years of filming. That two years brought over 400 hours of footage. Wow. And look what they had to do to get these shots. Beyond amazed by this crew.

Appearing in this Feature:
Wildlife Cameramen, John Shier
Mountain Safety, Joseph St. Onge
Underwater Cameraman, Didier Noirot
Field Producer, Jonathan Smith
Co-Director & Producer, Adam Chapman

* “Carry On” Music Video By Olivia Holt

Own Disneynature's Bears on Blu-ray and DVD today.