Current TV Shows I Most Enjoy – Part II

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Teen Wolf – I know, I know – how do I go from a period show (Bomb Girls) to a modern series based on a reimagining of a belovedly ridiculous teen flick from the 80′s? Well, I’ll tell you this much: the shows in this list have more in common with one another than they may at first appear, and for me, the one element that keeps me coming back to all of them is the relationships between the characters.  And Teen Wolf has some doozies.  Scott McCaul (played in the film by Michael J Fox, and brought to adorable life in the series by Tyler Posey) gets bitten by something in the woods one night, and by the next full moon, figures out that he’s become a werewolf.  It ain’t not so bad, though, because it makes him a lacrosse superstar (his newfound athletic ability just being one of the bite’s many perks), he gets to date the stunning girl at school, Allison (Crystal Reed), and with the help of his buddy, Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), Scott learns how to control his powers and routinely best the perfect rich kid, Jackson (Colton Haynes) as co-Captain of the school lacrosse team.  That’s all just on the surface, however.  There are other werewolves, including an Alpha in mysterious loner, Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), a whole hoarde of werewolf hunters (including Allison and her entire family), and friends to try and keep safe from what’s going on around them, even though not telling them the truth often puts them at risk (as in the case with poor Lydia, played to straight-faced perfection by the beautiful Holland Roden).  This stopped being a lighthearted supernatural romp for teenagers pretty much immediately.  It’s dark, often heart-breaking, often uplifting, never disappointing, and has managed to both disturb me and make me belly-laugh throughout the same episodes.  I adore every character on the show, from JR Bourne and (while she was there) Eaddy Mays as Allison’s parents, to Scott’s mom (Melissa Ponzio), to the lacrosse coach, Orny Adams.  I can’t get enough of the relationship between Stiles and his Sheriff father (Linden Ashby), or Stiles and Lydia…or Stiles and Derek…Stiles and Scott…I really like Stiles a lot.  But that’s the thing – I love all of them.  Each character – even those on the sidelines – are fully realized individuals in a world where we may be getting to know some of them more quickly than others, but all of them have a part to play in the events that unfold.  And all of them do it very well (in addition to being very pretty to look at).  The cast is so good together, in fact, that I don’t even see the show as being about Scott anymore.  It’s not even just about werewolves anymore.  It’s Romeo and Juliet romance, it’s an underdog tale, it’s a mystery waiting to be solved.  It’s about family and love and friendship and loyalty.  It’s about growing up and learning to be the very best person you can be, because that’s what those you love deserve, and it’s what you deserve.  It’s funny, it’s frightening, it’s sad, and it’s triumphant.  It’s like life, really.  So yeah – Teen Wolf is totally on my must-see list each week.  It just might be worthy of being on yours, too.

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Vampire Diaries – I’ve written about my adoration of this show before, so it’s easy to include it again here, as well.  It was just supposed to be some goofy popcorn fare, but I find that it is continually on my list of things I am most looking forward to watching during the week.  I haven’t been able to dive in and have whole conversations about each episode like I have with some other shows, but that doesn’t detract from my complete enjoyment of it every single time I get to watch the Mystic Falls gang feel their way through their lives.  Again, it’s the characters that keep me coming back for more, because I’m emotionally invested in every single one of them.  Elena (Nina Dobrev) is now a vampire, and was accidentally sired to Damon (Ian Somerhalder) during her transition, so she broke up with Stefan (Paul Wesley) and struck up a brief but indelibly sweet romance with Damon, instead.  Her brother, Jeremy (Steven R McQueen) has become a vampire hunter, so that’s caused a few problems where sibling relations are concerned.  Jeremy also grows more of his hunter’s mark with each vampire he kills, and that mark is a map which allegedly leads to a cure for vampirism – something Stefan desperately wants for Elena.  In the meantime, Tyler (Michael Trevino) has his hands full trying to train other vampire-werewolf hybrids how to break their sire bond with Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and become the alpha of his own pack.  Bonnie (Kat Graham) is struggling with her witch powers and trying to learn how to use magic responsibly, if she has to use it at all.  And Caroline (Candice Accola) and Matt (Zach Roerig) are really just trying to keep their friends safe and alive as best they can.  I’m actually really happy to see the addition of Phoebe Tonkin to the cast as Hayley, the werewolf who helped Tyler break his sire bond.  I loved her character on Secret Circle, so I was extra excited to see her show up on TVD this season.  She’s been adding a nice extra dash of spice and sauciness.  The entire cast is pretty, the storylines are stressful and emotional, and the cast bring their characters to life with a natural feel that isn’t always present in other properties. Plus, did I mention Ian Somerhalder?

Michael Emerson, Kevin Chapman, Taraji P Henson, Jim Caviezel of the CBS series PERSON OF INTEREST. Photo: Frank W Ockenfels 3 /CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Person of Interest – I haven’t talked a lot about this show, but I realized fairly recently how much of a staple it has become.  I was intrigued by it before it started, and with Benjamin Linus and Jesus Christ headlining the cast, it was a fair bet to say I’d be checking it out, at least for awhile.  I think even I was surprised, however, to see just how much this cool little show would grow on me.  As always, the characters are a huge draw. You have John Reese (Jim Caviezel) ex-military, ex-CIA, ex-member of the known human race – a man who lost that which was most valuable to him and dropped off the face of the earth as a result of his own inner pain and turmoil.  He lived as one of America’s unseen homeless, barely alive, and yet unable to give up completely and just die.  One day, he takes on several armed thugs on a bus, and everything changes.  Suddenly, he’s not invisible anymore.  John catches the attention of mysterious loner genius, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), who offers John something he’s not had in a great many years – a purpose for his life.  You see, Harold has built a machine for the government – a machine that watches everything and every one, weeding out information about people which could help to prevent terrorist activities from taking place.  It’s illegal, it’s secret, and it’s very very effective.  However, the machine doesn’t just pluck out the names of suspected terrorists the way Harold had hoped it would.  It learned how to watch for indicators of potential violent crimes against ordinary people.  Those citizens were deemed unnecessary by the government, of course, so they focus solely on stopping terrorists.  Harold and John teamed up to secretly look after the rest of us.  When the machine spits out a new number, the men have no idea if it is of a victim or a perpetrator, but it is their mission to stop the crime – whatever it may end up being – from happening at all.  They are aided in their efforts by homocide detectives Joss Carter (Taraji P Henson) and Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), despite the fact that the rest of the country’s law enforcement officials are trying to apprehend the vigilante-esque Man In The Suit.  I enjoyed the first season of this show – more than most, but not as much as some – but I think it was the episode when an infant’s number came out of the machine that I really fell in love with it.  Thanks to some amazing performances from recurring guest stars Amy Acker, Paige Turco and Enrico Colantoni, I went from the end of season one and into the start of season two with PoI quickly rising up my personal ladder (not a euphamism) of TV-watching happiness.  The addition of Bear the Dog this season has only fed my level of joy, and I freaking LOVE the changes and growth in the four characters which make up the main group.  I especially love watching Henson bring Detective Carter to life…she’s had several outstanding scenes during the first two seasons, and I can only assume that there will be many more to come.  The woman is amazing, and has become one of my favourite characters overall.

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Grimm – I’ve talked about this one before, too, as its first season saw it quickly become one of my favourites, but the second season has more than cemented that placement with me.  All of the stakes are higher, and Nick (David Giuntoli) isn’t as alone in his Grimm world as he was before.  His partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), now knows what Nick is, and together with Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), they are able to pursue law-breaking Wessen a lot more capably than they were before.  That – along with Nick’s mom (an ass-kicking Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) still being alive – is the good news.  The very bad news is two-fold.  First, Nick’s fiancee, Juliette (the breath-taking Bitsie Tulloch) was cursed by Adelind (Claire Coffee) and put into a coma which caused her to forget Nick completely.  She remembers everything about her life, except him.  Having Juliette’s love and support stripped from him has all but crippled Nick as it is, but what he doesn’t know might kill him.  Juliette was awakened – as so often in fairy tales – with a kiss, but it wasn’t from her true love.  It was, instead, a kiss from Nick’s boss, Captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) that brought her out of her coma, and unfortunately that seems to have come with a bit of a mutual attachment/obsession between the two of them.  So, poor Nick gets to try and win back his lady somehow, even though she can’t remember loving him, and she’s falling in love with someone else, almost right in front of him.  All while trying to keep civilians safe from criminals – some of whom are Wessen – and his identity as a Grimm a secret from the world.  Good times, right?  Luckily for viewers, the entire show isn’t without its sense of humour, and many lighter moments, my favourites of which come from the budding romance between Monroe and Rosalee (Bree Turner).  If there is a sweeter couple on TV right now, I have yet to locate them.  Ridiculous!

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Once Upon A Time – Here is another show that took hold of me early on, and essentially charmed the heck out of me right from the start.  I wasn’t sure what to think going in – all of the fairy tale characters we’ve ever known were put under a curse by the Evil Queen (Lana Parilla) that made them forget who they were and transported them to Storybrooke, Maine to live without true love or happy endings.  Meanwhile, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is begged by the son she gave up years ago, Henry (my fave kid on TV Jared Gilmore) to return with him to Storybrooke and break the curse so that everyone can live happily ever after again.  Naturally, Emma thinks that’s a load of bunk, but she agrees to see Henry home safely, and soon finds that she really has no reason to leave – and every reason to stay.  The end of season one saw the end of the curse, but the return of magic to Storybrooke, and with that, season two has been a rollercoaster ride of worlds colliding.  The cast is so big and so amazingly talented that I can’t possibly give everyone their due in such a small write-up, but I just want to give a shout-out to some of my (many) favourites, in no particular order, of course.  Lana Parilla can do no wrong in my book, Jared Gilmore is a big part of the charm which drew me in and kept me coming back for more, week after week.  Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin are so beautiful together as Charming and Snow White that they make me happy just to watch them.  Jennifer Morrison had me from House, but she has really come into her own as Emma, and she strikes a wonderful balance between disbelief and determination as Emma feels her way through her new life.  Meghan Ory as Red is easily one of my favourite characters ever, and every time we get to see more of her in an episode is happy time for me.  I am so excited that we’ve been getting to see more of Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) this season, too.  Not only do I adore both actors, but the story growing between their characters is, well, pretty epic.  And while Grumpy was always my favourite dwarf, the depth and soul that Lee Arenberg brings to the role is out of this world.  I could go on and on, actually…the stories are endless, and I know I am already forgetting more of my favourites.  So many have touched me over these first two seasons – I truly can not wait for more.

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Hot In Cleveland – You’ll note a distinct lack of sitcoms on my TV-watching roster these days.  Hot In Cleveland is the one exception I make, and it never fails to elicit laughter and guffaws from yours truly, regardless of how many times I may watch each episode.  I’m so happy to see Valerie Bertinelli back on my TV screen, and watching her interact and – well – play with the likes of Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick is nothing short of magical.  There’s never been enough female comedy out there, let alone involving women over the age of 25, so the humour alone on this show is both unique and refreshing to me.  There is truly nothing else like it out there, as far as I am concerned.  But then you add one Betty White to the mix and honestly, if you don’t adore this woman, you don’t have a soul.  She brings a welcome presence to an already talented and wonderful cast, and makes them family.  What I wouldn’t give to sit at their table with them just once, and try to hold my face together as tears of laughter slide down my reddened cheeks.  Hot In Cleveland?  Ladies, you are hot the world over, and you have my heart eternally.

As does Ian Somerhalder.

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Once Upon A Time – Season 2 – Episode 1 – Broken

My excitement level for the return of OUAT has been pretty extreme as of late, and I geared up even more for the season 2 premiere last night by watching the hour-long recap episode that aired right before it, as well!  Two hours’ worth of magic, mystery and mayhem – could a Sunday night be any more perfect?!  As a fan of the show’s amazing first season, my expectation level for season two was nearly as high as my excitement and, suffice it to say, I was not disappointed!

I must admit to having had a moment or two of panic at the start, actually.  I was watching some guy I didn’t know (Michael Raymond-Jones) walk down a modern city street I didn’t recognize, and with theme music I wasn’t used to hearing on this show playing in the background while said dude-guy tried to close his apartment window and block the rain.  Was I recording and watching the wrong thing?  Had my TV Guide somehow mixed things up and some new show was debuting in place of my OUAT of Love?  Thankfully, that panic last only a few moments.  Familiar names started cropping up in the credits, and dude-guy got a postcard on his windowsill from Storybrooke with a one word message written on the back:  “broken”.

And just like that, we’re off!

This week’s episode accomplished several things in a short period of time, and left viewers caught up in an even larger whirlwind to start off season 2 than we’d already lived through with season 1!  Watching all of the characters we’ve grown to love find one another again – as their true selves – was wonderful to see.  I choked up several times, especially when Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) turned around to see all the dwarfs standing there together.  Dwarves?  Whatever … all of ‘em!  And Ruby/Red Riding Hood’s tearful delight at seeing everyone properly again was played perfectly by Meghan Ory.  Just sayin’.  Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is understandably hopeful yet frightened – having the parents she never knew back in her life suddenly would be overwhelming enough, without the addition of a curse and fairytales come true.  And young Henry (Jared Gilmore) is back on his feet, happy that everything is finally going the way he wanted to – but for the menacing purple cloud that’s sweeping through town, courtesy of our crafty resident Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), of course!

As usual, this episode flashed back and forth between our world and fairy tale land, giving us some backstory on how things were, and what’s going on now.  In town, there was an immediate burn-the-witch hunt for Regina (Lana Parilla), which Henry convinced Emma, Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) to stop if they could.  She may be the Evil Queen, but she is, after all, still his mom.  Emma managed to lock Regina up – for her own safety – and sent the angry townsfolk away.  We’re also introduced to Aurora/Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger), who is awakened by the kiss of her true love, Prince Philip (Julian Morris).  Just before waking her, however, Philip comments to his mysterious companion that they won’t “tell her everything right away”, and we are left to ponder what that means as the rest of the episode progresses.  We do find out, however, that the oddly-clad warrior he’s been travelling with in search of Aurora is, in fact, Mulan (Jamie Chung) – and it’s possible that she is in love with him, as well.

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is about as thrilled as he personally can get to find that HIS true love, Belle (Emilie de Ravin), is actually still alive.  He’s brought the purple cloud of magic to town, with the warning that “magic here is different”, on top of the usual, “all magic comes with a price”.  However, his rage grows at the discovery that Regina had Belle locked away in an asylum all these years and, sensing the hate escalating within him, Belle makes him promise not to kill the Evil Queen.  Ever the master of wordplay, however, Gold uses his reinstatement as Dark Lord to call on the soul-sucking Wraith, and sends it after Regina, instead.  He marks her with a talisman that he’s kept locked away in his store all these years, knowing that the Wraith will now hunt the marked one until she’s dead.

We are also shown Prince Philip in fairy tale land, being marked by the same talisman after accidentally touching it with his bare hands and, although he keeps the information from Aurora and Mulan, we know – as does the Prince - that his fate is pretty much sealed.  Under the guise of collecting firewood, Philip kisses his love goodbye, and sets off into the forest alone.

With no known way to kill the Wraith back in Storybrooke, Regina comes up with the idea of sending it back to where they came from via Jefferson/The Mad Hatter’s (Sebastian Stan) hat.  She says that the curse destoyed their land and took everyone with it to Storybrooke, so sending the Wraith back there should at least trap it there forever, if not outright kill it.  Emma, Snow and Charming battle the beast temporarily with fire, giving Regina time to activate the hat’s portal.  The Wraith is sucked into the portal as planned, but at the last moment, it grab’s Emma’s ankle and drags her with it.  Not wanting to lose her daughter again, Snow leaps into the portal after her.  David also tries to follow, but the portal snaps shut and he is left behind with a crushed hat on the solid floor beneath him.

Mulan figures out that Philip has been marked, and intends to protect both women by letting the Wraith take him, so she sets off determined to find him before the Wraith does.  Aurora has no intention of being left behind by either of them, however, and follows Mulan through the woods until they catch up with Philip as the Wraith bears down.  Mulan offers to take the mark in his place, thus letting him live to be with his love, but Philip refuses her sacrifice, and his killed by the Wraith instead.  Both women are devastated, and take Philip’s body back to where Aurora had been laying in cursed sleep for so long.  It’s then that we find out that Regina’s curse somehow missed part of the land, and that several people were left behind in its wake.  We also learn that there are far more dangerous creatures lurking about than the Wraith in the land that was left behind, and that warning hangs over the somber scene as the women hear a noise not far off.

Regina, now safe from the Wraith, has an argument with Charming, since she has no idea where Snow and Emma ended up, nor if they are even still alive.  The Evil Queen has her magic back now, though, and Charming is really no match for her anymore.  She is close to killing him when Henry is there, with Red, to put a stop to her evil shenanigans – at least for now – and she releases Charming just in time.  David takes the boy to Snow/Emma’s apartment, and they begin to settle in together, with the intention of trying to formulate a plan to get the missing women back to Storybrooke.

Aurora and Mulan find the source of the commotion they heard, and pull debris aside to reveal what’s hidden underneath.  Mulan recognizes that this is what brought the Wraith that killed Philip to their land, and looks down in hate upon its source:  an unconscious Emma and Snow.

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC and CTV.

Sue’s Series Squawk – Once Upon A Time (Season One)

What a wonderfully delightful surprise THIS charming series ended up being!  In my mind, I’d signed up for it and Grimm as soon as I heard about them, but I was vaguely certain that I would prefer Grimm’s darkness to OUAT’s charm in the end.  How wrong I was!  I think I was in love with OUAT by the time the pilot was over.  I was most certainly smitten, with full on adoration following shortly thereafter.

The series follows Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison, of whom I was already a fan from her days on House) after the son she gave up for adoption when he was born suddenly shows up on her doorstep, begging for her help.  The boy, Henry (Jared Gilmore), has a rather unusual tale to tell about how Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and only she can break the evil curse put on all of the residents of his hometown, who are also all fairytale characters.  It’s just that the curse made them forget who they are, and hence took away all of the happy endings.  Cute story, kid.

The trouble is that Henry himself is so cute and sincere that he’d be difficult to turn down under the best of circumstances, so when Emma takes him back home to Storybrooke (yes, really), she can’t help but feel the need to keep a closer eye on the boy.  Particularly when she gets a strange sense from some of the sleepy little town’s inhabitants – Henry’s adoptive mother and town Mayor, Regina Mills, among them.  Emma ends up deciding to stay indefinitely, and eventually becomes the town Sheriff, to boot.

As viewers, we are treated each episode to flashback scenes that happen in the fairytale land, and then jump back to present day Storybrooke to see how those same characters are faring without their memories of their past lives.  No one is particularly happy, even though most of them seem like very nice people, and in general, the townsfolk all care about one another.  The dual feelings of frustration and joy collide each time we get a glimpse into what a person once was, and how unknowlingly close they are to their own happy endings.

I can’t describe how utterly charmed I am by this show.  The set design, writing, and acting performances are always top notch, and because we only get bits of knowledge at a time, we are constantly hungry for more, and delighted by each morsel we receive.  Nothing is as it seems in Storybrooke, and even the stories we think we know (Little Red Riding Hood, anyone?) are revealed to us in new and unexpected ways.  Even the ending of the first season was completely unforseeable, which is a true testament to the strong writing we were given all season long.  Jane Espenson, I’ll follow you anywhere!

From Prince Charming (the heroically handsome and gallant Josh Dalls) and Snow White (played to adorable perfection by Ginnifer Goodwin)  to Cinderella (Jessy Schram), Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory); from Rumpelstiltskin (the always brilliant Robert Carlyle ) to The Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan); all the way up to the Evil Queen herself(you’d be hard pressed to find a hotter or more conflicted Evil Queen than Lana Parilla, by the way), every single character is fully realized in BOTH worlds, and not one of them can be seen through a black and white lens.  No one is all good, and no one is all bad, but they are all inherently human, which makes them very easy to relate to, so it’s no wonder that this series developed such a vast and rabid fanbase so quickly.  The cast can all be found on Twitter, along with several writers and others involved with the creation of this instant classic, and the fact that they are all so accessible and caring towards their fans just makes the whole thing even easier to love.

So now, in the space of time we have between season one and season two, join the hunt for Happily Ever After, and fall under the spell of Once Upon A Time.  The Queen decrees it – and you’ll be so glad that you did!

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC