Friday, September 19, 2014

TV Talk: Week in Review '14-'15 #3

Reviews for Fall TV Shows & Specials Which Aired
September 14, 2014 - September 20, 2014

* New series in CAPS
* Reviews May Contain Spoilers

Photo Credit: Annette Brown/FOX


"Oh, I also sing! Triple threat!" - Dick

Veronica Mars is back! Well, sort of. In the first episode (7:42 minutes) of Play It Again, Dick, Ryan Hansen must convince Kristen Bell that a spinoff all about Dick would work while Kristen tries to get Ryan to see that a spinoff focusing on an unlikable character just couldn't possibly work! Ha! Anyone who has read the million posts about unlikable characters in YA stories will have a good laugh at that. Cut to Ryan pitching the spinoff to The CW execs and them coming to an agreement. Wow. This was funny. I had a blast watching and can't wait to see more. What a great start to what is sure to be a very entertaining web series!

19 Kids & Counting (TLC)
Episode 14.04 & 14.05 "Duggar Dirty Jobs" & "Duggars Decorate & Diet"

In "Duggar Dirty Jobs," the younger kids painted adorable pottery gifts for Jill and Derick while Ben was put to work by Jim Bob and we got to see if Ben has what it takes to keep up with the Duggars as well as take care of a household in more ways than one. Good for Jim Bob and Michelle! I absolutely loved seeing Ben put to work. Earning it! Alright! In "Duggars Decorate & Diet," Josh's old trainer makes a surprise visit and Jinger takes Jill and Derick's engagement photos. It's always so awesome seeing how resourceful this family is. This family sure knows how to save a buck! If you're not a Christian and need one reason to watch this show, frugal tips is definitely one big reason! You're welcome. :)

New Girl (Fox) - Episode 4.01 "The Last Wedding"

"How did salt get shoved into this tiny, tiny pepper hole?" - Winston

What a return! Read my review of the season four premiere here.

The Mindy Project (Fox) - Episode 3.01 "We're A Couple Now, Haters!"

"Get your big ass in there now!" - Danny

My favorite comedy is back! Read my review of the season three premiere here.

RED BAND SOCIETY (Fox) - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

"Oh I don't smoke, drink, or do drugs." - Emma

"So unhealthy right? Not like starving yourself." - Kara

With the cast and crew behind this show that is already intriguing as it is, I knew that I had to check out this show and I'm happy that I did. Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable and all of the fresh faces on this show are so talented and are so grounded in their characters, acing it with such distinct voices not to mention, they all have so much chemistry. It's hard to get all of that down in the Pilot episode but this cast is killing it! It also must be said that ensemble dramas are my absolute favorite because I love, love, love how the writers balance all of the story lines and this show is an awesome example of great balance.

Yes, at first, these characters are pretty standard, like you've seen them all before but hold on. What you see as the Pilot plays out may allow you to fall in love with these characters after all and make it worth the commitment. Octavia's character, Nurse Jackson is of course one of my favorites. Yes, she's got the Nurse Jackie vibe which his hard to shake out of my mind during the entire Pilot. But certain lines totally got me and may help me overlook this as time goes on. Nurse Jackson's honesty, selflessness, and ability to put up with absolutely no BS is what I love about this character and the sum of her parts is not the same as Nurse Jackie, that's for sure, so it will be interesting see what else we get from this character.

There are also other concerns, of course. Sure, there are doctor shows out there but this is different. This is set at a pediatric hospital where it's about the patients too. Long term patients. The patients, like the doctors and mentors in their life come from all walks of life, many different family dynamics, and lots of different baggage. That's where the writers will get us. That's where they have to dig deep. Because these kids might be sick but the thing is, we're all sick and broken inside and that, the heart of the matter is what will make this show long lasting. That long lasting mark is what will be remembered. This show is about coping, letting your guard down, keeping your guard up, living, dying. Healing. If you're cautious about watching this show, you have reason to be. But if the writers play it right (both emotionally and otherwise - including research and accurate portrayals because if this is your setting and your desired platform for awareness, do it right), this show can be so powerful.

It's interesting because if you don't know a whole lot about this show, one might assume that it's a half hour dark comedy but indeed, it's a one hour dramedy and it's great. I see what the writers are doing and I think they have nailed the tone of the show from the jump and that is not easy to do. I love that it weaves the lighthearted with such heavy subject matter. It's beautiful. This show has a clear vision for its characters and their journeys and I'm willing to watch season one to see how everything progresses. Red Band Society is bold, it's familiar and real, it's heartfelt. It's worth watching.

Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC

Haven (Syfy) - Episode 5.02 "Speak No Evil"

Dude! Maura is a BAMF! I love, love, love this woman! She is so evil and Emily Rose continues to ace this role. I am in complete awe of Emily Rose. I didn't know I wanted to see this from her, I didn't know she had it in her but look! This is easily my favorite role of Emily's on this show and I cannot wait to see what trouble Maura continues to stir up. This week was even better than last week and next week looks even better than this week! Also, Duke. Oh, man. Duke accepting Jennifer's fate. Man. That was tough. Eric Balfour did a wonderful job with his delivery of THAT scene. Wow. Everyone did a fabulous job with this episode. We're only two episodes in and I don't know if I said this last week but this season is going to be one of my favorites, I know.

The Biggest Loser (NBC) - Episode 16.02 "The Knockout"

I totally skipped the first hour of The Biggest Loser to watch Haven and then switched over to The Biggest Loser in the second hour. Honestly, I think that's what I'm going to be doing all season long and if you read last's week TV Talk, you'll see why. Plus, this week when I turned, I found one of the contestants having a complete meltdown while having a meeting with Dr. Huizenga. So. If I hadn't made the decision to skip hour one, I certainly would have anyway. Ain't nobody got time for that! I watched the rest of the episode, glazing over the elimination because voting people out on a show like this is icky. It was sad to see Vanessa go over on Team Bob as her body fat percentage didn't make the cut (as all of the eliminations should be!) but I can't wait to see the results of her hard work come finale night.

Z NATION (Syfy) - Episode 1.02 "Fracking Zombies"

Citizen Z venturing out of his safe area? Bad idea! Thankfully, he's still alive and well but if he goes loopy again, he might not be so lucky next time. Watching this group travel from New York to California, so far, is keeping my attention but I'm interested in seeing just what problems come there way because there wasn't a whole lot happening in this episode and well, this show needs to hold its own at every single moment. So. The premiere was more exciting and interesting than this episode but hey, there are only two episodes to compare to each other. What did you think?

Premieres Next Week (September 21, 2014 - September 27, 2014)
GOTHAM (Fox) Monday, September 22, 2014
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Monday, September 22, 2014
The Voice (NBC) Monday & Tuesday September 22 & 23, 2014
SCORPION (CBS) Monday, September 22, 2014
The Blacklist (NBC) Monday, September 22, 2014
FOREVER (ABC) Monday & Tuesday September 22 & 23, 2014
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Person of Interest (CBS) Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The Middle (ABC) Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Modern Family (ABC) Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) Wednesday, September 24, 2014
BLACK-ISH (ABC) Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Nashville (ABC) Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Grey's Anatomy (ABC) Thursday, September 25, 2014
Scandal (ABC) Thursday, September 25, 2014
Parenthood (NBC) Thursday, September 25, 2014
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC) Thurs, Sept 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TV Talk: Face Off Episode 7.09 "Serpent Soldiers" Review

Photo Credit: Brett-Patrick Jenkins

This week on Face Off, the contestants had quite the spotlight challenge! Their task was to choose an exotic snake to be inspired by as they create a G.I. Joe soldier. What an awesome challenge to coincide with the 50th anniversary of G.I. Joe!

Damien chose the gaboon viper, Drew, the tiger rat snake, Sasha, the hognosed snake, Stella, the Namibian coral cobra, Rachael, the green tree python, Cig, the Christmas tree eyelash viper which was pretty cool and my favorite snake to look at, Keaghlan, the Albino reticulated python, Dina, the Brazilian rainbow boa, and George chose the green anaconda.

Cig is a huge G.I. Joe fan, so this competition was seemingly made for him. Even if all the female models were taken and he had to rework his design for a male. Well, he adjusted and well. So well that he was yet again, a top look from the judges. At this point, Drew is the only one without a top look so he felt quite a but of pressure to blow away the judges. He did! he blew away not only the judges and was a top look but was one of my favorite looks this week as well! My favorites were Cig, George, Dina, and Drew and the judges's top looks were the same minus George. Though there can only be one winner and Dina was it! Woohoo!

As for the others? Sasha was struggling in the lab during this challenge and worried about letting the judges down after they saved her from elimination the week before. Well, they were let down. The judges could see where she was going with it but clearly what good was in the piece was buried and lost once Sasha got thrown off by the nose. Oh, Sasha! I hope she is more inspired in the weeks to come. I would hate to see her go, say, next week, so soon after the elimination save.

She wasn't the only one with problems. Midway through lab work, Stella found out that her model had strep throat. This left Stella with a new model who had a very different head shape so Stella had a big decision to make on whether to fit her into what was already made or start over. With no extra time, Stella decided to carry on. She worked the situation to the best of her ability and was safe another week! No bottom looks for her! Woo! The bottom looks were Rachael, Sasha, and Keaghlan and judging on this week alone, it makes complete sense that Keaghlan was sent home. Still, it absolutely sucks because she's awesome! If I had to rate the contestants, Keaghlan may have been right below Dina as far as my favorites. So.

It's really sad to see her go but I can completely understand why she was eliminated and like they all said, this is not the end but just the beginning for her. So all the best, Keaghlan and I can't wait to see your name in the credits on TV and the big screen someday soon! Great episode! Even though I am not a G.I. Joe fan, the snake element held my attention and I really enjoyed seeing how the contestants made snake characters. Especially Drew, who took a leap of faith and did something different from everyone else. Go, Drew! What did you think?

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DVD Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Rating: TV PG
Running Time: Approx. 946 minutes

The mind-blowing saga that began in Marvel’s The Avengers continues in ABC’s action-packed series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — The Complete First Season.

In the wake of The Battle of New York, the world has changed forever. An extraordinary landscape of wonders has been revealed! In response, mysteriously resurrected Agent Phil Coulson assembles an elite team of skilled agents and operatives: Melinda May, Grant Ward, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons and new recruit/computer hacker Skye. Together, they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary. But every answer unearths even more tantalizing questions that reverberate across the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: Who is "The Clairvoyant”? What is Hydra’s sinister master plan; what dark secret lies behind Skye’s puzzling origins, and most importantly of all, who can be trusted?

When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was announced with Joss Whedon attached, everyone's expectations were high. I was super excited for this show and remained excited in the first few episodes. But it took awhile for me to connect with most of the main characters (I only connected with one character from the very beginning during the series premiere: Skye) and it took awhile for the show to really get the serial drama feel and embrace the darkness we all know this universe has. In the beginning, if you missed an episode, you didn't necessarily need to catch up to watch the next one. Not so in the latter half of the season. The ball really got rolling quite a few episodes in and even then, the momentum lasted for a short time before another dry spell and then BAM! the show got good again.

Plainly put, the first season of this show is quite the roller coaster. The thing is, roller coasters are overall, very fun plus anything Joss Whedon is worth the commitment, so my time catching up on season one was not wasted and I have high hopes that season two will be way better than everything we've seen in season one. Season one was great groundwork and looking back, I actually did love the pace in which the stakes were raised but I am so ready for season two. More danger. More stakes. More guest spots from Whedonverse actors (Yes, "The Only Light in the Darkness" is my favorite episode of the season and no it's not because one of my absolute favorite Whedonverse actors, Amy Acker is in it but it sure helps). More laugh out loud moments. More Marvel movie crossovers (that was freaking awesome by the way). More more more! Who's with me?!

Bonus Features:

Commentary - There are three commentaries on the DVD. I'm shocked that there's no commentary for the Pilot, Season Finale, or a handful of other more notable episodes but here we have it. "FZZT" commentary is conducted by Co-Executive Producer/Writer Paul Zbyszewski and actors, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. Yes, I love this commentary especially because we get to hear Elizabeth and Iain's accents for so long - they are beautiful! Aside from that, this is a very fun commentary with lots of awesome information about this episode and the show in general as are the other two commentaries..."The Magical Place" commentary is conducted by Supervising Producer/Writer, Brent Fletcher and actors, Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet. "T.R.A.C.K.S." commentary is conducted by Co-Producers/Writers, Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc and actors Min-Na Wen and J. August Richards. All of these commentaries are worth watching/listening to so if you're a fan, which you clearly are since you're buying the DVD/Blu-ray, your time will be very well spent.

Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe (42 minutes) - What a fun walk down memory lane! All the way back to San Diego Comic Con 2006, this documentary special is an exciting look at the inception of Marvel Studios and the beginning of the next phase of comic blockbusters. I loved the interviews with the cast and crew of the Marvel films and behind the scenes footage from Iron Man to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Quite a treat... we get to see a bit of Robert Downey Jr's screen test, Scarlett Johansson's final costume fitting, some concept art, and more. It's a great documentary special that only aired once I believe on ABC and ABC puts together awesome docs so go ahead and give this a watch.

Journey Into S.D.C.C (13 minutes) - Now this is a Comic Con feature done right! Instead of including an outdated panel and nothing more, this is a behind the scenes feature that follows the cast and crew as they travel with their loved ones to their first big event, San Diego Comic Con. From the panel to the signing and with many of the cast members feeling underdressed and overwhelmed, this feature covers it all. I absolutely loved it!

Appearing in this Feature:
Moderated by Executive Producer, Jeph Loeb
Cast Members, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Iain De Caestecker, Chloe Bennet
Executive Producer/Writer, Maurissa Tancharoen

Field Reports (16 minutes) - “The Malibu Jump” follows Chloe Bennet as she is tasked with her first stunt scene. “The Bridge” follows the warehouse and bridge scenes, one of Mike's big moments and quite a fun scene to have witnessed it seems. “Asgardian Bar Fight” follows Elena Satine and Jaimie Alexander in perhaps the most memorable and exciting episode of the season! That was exciting to watch. “Classified” is a great feature all about Ward betraying S.H.I.E.L.D. and what it's like playing Ward as well as playing against Ward. “Cello Duet” follows Amy Acker one of my favorite episodes of the season, so this was quite a treat for me and I'm sure many other Amy Acker fans. There is not the option to play all but you should certainly watch all of these. Short and fun and to the point. Love it!

Appearing in this Feature:
Cast Members, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, J. August Richards, Ming-Na Wen, Elena Satine, Jaimie Alexander, Clark Gregg, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Saffron Burrows, Amy Acker
Assistant Location Manager, Ronald "Kartoon" Antwine
Key Asst. Location Manager, Justin Hill
Special Effects Foreman, Blair Foord
Stunts, Greg Rementer
Producer, Garry A. Brown
Special Effects Supervisor, Gary D'Amico
Executive Producer/Writer, Maurissa Tancharoen

VFX Breakdowns (2 minutes) - There are two VFX breakdowns for the scenes Lola Takes Flight and Free Falling which play individually. The breakdown consists of the scene as a whole and then the scene again from various stages of production including the Modeling + Compositing, Green Screen, Composite Final, Motion Capture, and Digital Double stages. I love seeing how just a few components can make or break the validity of a scene so this was cool to see.

Deleted Scenes (7 minutes) - There are eight deleted scenes with the option to play all or individually. The scenes are from the "Pilot," "Girl in the Flower Dress," "The Hub," "The Well," "The Magical Place," "Seeds," and "Providence." I really liked the Debbie's Alternate Demise scene from the "Pilot," I Shot Someone scene from "The Hub," and Simmons Had Boyfriends scene from "Seeds." That said, I'd still encourage you to watch them all.

*Bloopers (6 minutes)

Own Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season
on Blu-ray and DVD today.

Book Review: Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Genre: Young Adult Post Apocalyptic
ISBN: 978-0802734181
Source: Bought
Add it to Goodreads

There is no cure for being stung.

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.

Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.

Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.

Stung had been on my kindle unread for quite some time and I'm glad I finally read it. It was so much fun! Right away, we are thrown into our main character, Fiona's disorientation as she finds herself in her home but clearly from a different time then she remembers as the home is essentially abandoned and destroyed. Then she discovers a tattoo on her right hand that she immediately hides and it turns out for good reason. She has the mark and that separates her from the rest of mankind. What's left of it anyway.

Now, typically, I'm not a fan of the whole... character has lost a chunk of time and doesn't remember what happened to them or the world - UNLESS the character figures it out shortly after waking up or re-entering society. In this case, Fiona has lost quite a few years and the reveal for her happens in enough time for me to not roll my eyes so that was very much appreciated. Thankfully, the pacing of this book is well constructed so that this wasn't a problem.

What I always love though in stories like these is following the main character as they find out about the state of their loved ones. Fiona has a sister, a brother, a mother, a wheelchair bound father. They might be inside the wall or dead, missing, or worse, have the mark as well and are in even far gone off than she is. The mark means nothing good as the world is the way it is now because of a bee flu vaccine gone wrong. Yikes! It takes some time for this revelation to be completely laid out and the only reason I'm mentioning it so plainly here is because I think it would help the reader know what's happening going into the book. I love the world that's been created and the imagery and the beasts, the danger, the fear, the stakes. But it's so much more powerful with this information upfront. That is one thing that I wished had had a bit more clarity for the reader after the first chapter or two, the world building. Anyway...

In Stung, Fiona meets a young girl named Arrin who may or may not be on her side. Fiona discovers that there's a wall that separates the humans from the hives of beasts... the monsters - even though she finds that some humans are also monsters. Fiona also runs into a few people from her past. Dreyden, her neighbor is one of them and is quite the lifesaver. The dynamic between these two was intriguing and I'm glad with how their relationship progressed in the sense of trust in this world where it's so difficult to trust anyone. That said, I loved the twists in this story and thought this was a well crafted story with writing that is gripping enough for me to want me to read the sequel. Yes, there are a few things that I had to suspend my disbelief in but if you can look over that and not jump off the ride because of a few little odd bumps, this is still a really cool story to read. So if you haven't yet, pick this up!

Stung by Bethany Wiggins is available today.

TV Talk: Face Off Episode 7.08 "Killer Instinct" Review

Photo Credit: Brett-Patrick Jenkins

So...last week's mini challenge was to create their very own version of Bloody Mary! Emmy winning makeup artist, Brigette Myre-Ellis (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood) judged this two hour competition. I absolutely loved Rachael, Keaghlan, Drew, Damien, Sasha, and Cig's makeups! Brigette picked Rachael as the winner and I whole heartedly agree with that choice! With Rachael winning immunity, this gave her one less thing to stress about during the spotlight challenge.

This was a great mini challenge leading up to the awesome spotlight challenge that came with a killer prize! The challenge? Choose an original horror movie poster and use the imagery, title, and tagline to create a lead villain. The prize? For the first time, both parks are featuring the best makeups from all prior seasons of Face Off, including this season's winner during Halloween Horror Nights. It's about time! And wow, what an amazing prize!

Dina chose The Cloven "It was too hot in hell." Rachael chose Bone Appetit "Dinner is served." Stella chose The Trophy Room "It's hunting season." Sasha chose Bonnie & Cyanide "A toxic romance." Keaghlan chose Homecoming Scream "Save the last dance." Damien chose Buzzcut "Just a little off the top." Drew chose We Met Online "There's no escaping." Cig chose The Second Chumming "Swim at your own risk." George chose Axe Girlfriend "Breakups can be hell."

In the lab, Dina seemed to be having the most trouble and that of course did not sit well with me because she's one of my favorites this season. But after seeing her final look, it pains me to say that I wasn't surprised to see her in the bottom two. I could see what Sasha was trying to do but it just didn't come through which is why it was really sad to see her in bottom looks as well. And Keaghlan had a few issues with her look that the judges pointed out and they could have been easily fixed, so she definitely didn't deserve elimination this week. I love these ladies! Bottom looks between these three? No! Thank God the judges used the save on Sasha! I was not ready to see her go!

As for everyone else? I'd definitely run away from all of these creatures, that's for sure. But others were way more convincing. George and Keaghlan's were two that I loved, along with Damien's piece. But Drew, Rachael, and Stella blew me away and were my favorites this week. The judges' best looks were Rachael, George, and Cig. And I want to take the time to say that Cig is awesome. He does things that I'm not drawn to at all which is why I don't really mention him but his work is phenomenal and is appreciated by the right people I'm sure. His talent is not unnoticed, that is for sure. That said, George won! As well as he should have! Congrats, George! Lucky for everyone who gets to see this at Universal Studios! Anyone going this Halloween?

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