Sue’s Week In Television – Hits and Highlights

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Rizzoli & Isles:  Season Three, Episode Six – Money Maker

This week’s episode had all the fun and heart that makes the series so awesome in general.  A rich guy’s body is found in a recycling bin, and he’s wearing a mask and cape, sending our two ladies (Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander) on an interesting quest to find his killer.  They are definitely out of their comfort zone in more ways than one, and there are more moments of awkward hilarity than I can possibly mention.  HUGE laughs from yours truly when Frost (Lee Thompson Young) was showing Frankie (Jordan Bridges) how to rap properly, too!

The heart, though, came shining through a TON in this episode in everything having to do with Maura’s dealings with her birth mother, Dr. Hope Martin (Sharon Lawrence) and half-sister, Cailin (Emilee Wallace).  It’s heart-breaking to watch them all grow closer while Maura keeps her true identity a secret, and then when the revelations start coming fast and furious throughout the episode, the emotional toil that final confrontation takes on all three characters was stunning to watch.  Amazingly done, and then they still managed to move back to a lighter tone in the dying moments of the episode as a whole, which I thought was also pretty incredible.  Overall, a very solid episode from one of my faves!

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The Originals:  Season One, Episode Two – House Of The Rising Son

Man, I am so far behind!  Just going to breeze through a couple of other highlights from last week, and start getting caught up oin this week!  Episode 2 of The Originals was just as awesome as the first.  We saw some history, and we saw what Klaus (Joseph Morgan) was up to with his erratic behaviour from the pilot.  He actually DOES have a plan, as it turns out!  And how creepy was that secret chick when she started using her powers?!

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Face Off:  Season Five, Episode Nine – Mortal Sins

My man Tate won the spotlight challenge with this sick design based on Sloth (as in the deadly sin, not the cute slow-moving critter).  Frankie went home, which was sad, but most of the other designs were crazy good – it was hard to choose a favourite, really!

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Person of Interest - Got to see the ladies all dolled up, and I really liked the main storyline, as well as seeing more of Bear bonding with Shaw (Sarah Shahi), which I loved!  Not to mention the return of Root (Amy Acker) in the B storyline…holy crap, that stressed me out!  So good!

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Survivor – Caleb made the craziest move I’ve ever seen to stay in the game!  So glad it paid off for him!  Not sure how well it’ll go for his tribe for the rest of the competition, as they’ve now lost another strong player, but if he makes it to the merge somehow, he may have just bought himself some new allies.  Notes to Culpepper:  1 – you actually weren’t in the lead going into the puzzle part of the challenge, as you’d dumped a bunch of your stuff in the water on the way back.  THAT screwed up your lead.  2 – If you voted John off to keep him from transfering loyalty to Candice after the merge, then you can’t change your story suddenly to say that he was voted off because he had no loved one on the other side.  Your voting strategy – as far as keeping your tribe strong and maybe winning a challenge someday – sucks.  A lot.

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Played – One of these weeks, I’ll get around to writing about how awesome Played is in more detail.  For now, though, all I can offer is a quick blurb about how we got to see the crew at work in a very tense situation this week, AND we got plenty of backstory that was relevant to the case, as opposed to extra info that the audience doesn’t really need yet.  It’s a testament to how well-written and incredibly acted this show is that I am already fully commited to taking a journey each week with these characters.  It has quickly rocketed up to favourite level with me, and thus far, it does not appear to be sliding down the ladder at all.  So so good!  Check it out before it gets too far ahead of you!

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Sue’s Week in TV – Hits & Highlights

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Once Upon A Time – Season Three, Episode One:  Heart of the Truest Believer

This week saw the return of magic once again to our TV screens, and while I wasn’t as geared up in anticipation as I’ve been for some other shows, OUAT is always a solid happy hour for me, and this season’s premiere was no different.  Last season left us on a bit of a cliffhanger (to say the least), with the fate of young Henry (Jared Gilmore) hanging in the balance, not to mention Neal/Baelflower (Michael Raymond-James) and all of the heroes/anti-heroes who raced to Neverland in pursuit of Henry’s kidnappers.  The opening moments of this season took us back 11 years or so to Henry’s birth, and Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) difficult and heart-breaking decision to give him up.

Flashing back forward to the present day, Emma, Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), David (Josh Dallas), Regina (Lana Parrilla), Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) are all aboard the Jolly Roger now in Neverland, racing to find Henry.  Gold/Rumpelstiltskin figures he can find Henry better on his own, and uses magic to leap away to parts unknown.  In the meantime, tempers flare on the ship as mermaids attack and a huge storm breaks out.  Emma realizes that it’s their fighting that’s causing the storm, and leaps from the ship in the hopes of shocking the others out of their endless bickering.

Henry escapes his kidnappers with some unintentional help from the Lost Boys, who want to take him to Peter Pan.  He stumbles across another Lost Boy, but this one is also on the run from the others, as he has made Pan angry somehow.  Both boys manage to elude their pursuers by flying away on fairy dust and Henry’s belief in its magic.

This is Neverland, however, and not all is as it seems.  Our characters are divided not only physically in some cases, but also in their beliefs.  No one can agree on the best course of action in any situation, especially anything involving magic, and the stakes now as are high as they ever were.  This season premiere was a rollercoaster ride of thrills and twists, with many familiar faces showing up all over the place, and all of the heart I’ve come to expect from these characters.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Face Off:  Season 5 – Cosmic Circus

I have a feeling that my heart is pretty much going to break a little every week now, because I like everyone on the show so much, and hate to see them go.  This week, however, was a tad on the worse-than-usual side.  The challenge was cool – create a dark, sexy alien circus performer…who would actually have to perform.  The make-up had to be unique, and it had to hold up for the crazy circus antics that the models/Cirque Berserk members would be putting it through on stage.  The teams of two got to choose each other, and (aside from all things Tate) I had a hard time deciding who to even root for most.  Being as Alana is one of my all-time faves, it was difficult to watch her and Laney struggle so much throughout the whole process, too.  It’s not even like they were fighting or anything…they really respect one another’s work, and for some reason just could not get on the same page with this one, and unfortunately it really showed.  They both knew they would be on the bottom by the time they got to the stage, and the disappointment and sadness scrawled on the faces of both women was almost unbearable.

But then, at the moment Alana’s name was called as the one going home, Laney joined her in bursting into tears, and both women embraced while Laney repeated over and over, “I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry!”

HEART-SHATTERING!  Ugh!

I know that it’s not going to get any easier – the stakes are higher each week – but MAN, do I hope it doesn’t get any more difficult to watch!  I almost wish I could just watch everything up to the judges decisions…but even that isn’t really going to make me happy, because I love seeing the end result almost as much as watching the artists create.  And there is often much to smile and giggle about once the judges are unleashed, too, so yeah…I won’t give any of this show up.  I mean, it’s really just a sign of how much I love it when every moment means so much and affects me so completely, right?

(BTW, Eddie and Miranda totally rocked it this week – their dual creation looked like it had been done by the same person!)

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Survivor:  Blood vs Water

Holy crap, Survivor!  This episode was crazy!  This whole season is crazy!  One thing I love most about Survivor is how they always find ways to keep things fresh and new, while still having the familiarity of the game we all love.  Having previous contestents dual against a tribe of their loved ones is an insanely awesome twist, and I fully expect things are just going to get even more intense going forward.

There are actually very few people on this season that I don’t like.  So far just Colton, really.  I mean, he claims to watch and love the game, but who goes out day one and refuses to even try to win challenges and keep the tribe strong?  Someone who doesn’t have long to live in the game, that’s who.  Dude was on a very strong, winning team, but not only did he want to talk about who they’d vote out next even before the challenge, but he actually suggested they VOLUNTEER to go to tribal council so they could vote out a strong player while they had the chance.  Um…what?  The whole point of having two tribes is to try and stay as strong as you can as a tribe, to win as many challenges as you can as a tribe, to then go into the merge as strong as you can – AS A TRIBE.  Now, this season is different from every other because a) the other tribe is full of loved ones, so even when you win, you may lose, and the merge is certain to be less clear-cut than usual, b) Redemption Island is back, which means at least one person who was voted out will win their way back into the game, at some point, and c) there’s at least one hidden immunity idol in play - likely 2, because you never know which tribe is going to get the clue.  SO many options to weigh when you vote someone out – I love it!

I’m glad Colton just quit this week, instead of having to wait for him to get voted out and then lose on Redemption Island.  For my own personal sanity, I’m glad I don’t have to watch him bitch anymore.  But honestly, is there a way to leave the game that is MORE disgraceful and pathetic?  I don’t really like bashing on the guy when he’s down, but come on.  His tribe was winning, they were up in numbers and in spirit, his loved one is doing just fine on the other tribe, and Colton opts to walk out before the Redemption Island challenge – which has nothing to do with him nor his loved one?  That’s….that has to be a pretty unprecedented departure, no?  Probst totally called him out for being a quitter, and THEN let us know that Colton actually quit the first time, too!  WHAT?!  He faked appendicitis (how do you spell that again?) the first time around!  Holy crap!  I was NOT expecting that little revelation at ALL!  Wow!

So now…let me get back on track.  Culpepper is a bit of an idiot when it comes to Survivor, I think.  There’s always one super stud who says they want to keep the tribe strong…and then votes out those he feels will be competition to him later on – because they are STONG PLAYERS.  Dude…you’ve got awhile to go til the merge yet, and the first three people you convince everyone else to vote out are strong…this week’s choice of John being one of the strongest ever.  To me, he (Culpepper) didn’t really think this through.  One, John has clues for the hidden immunity idol, thanks to his lovely ass-kicking lady, Candice, who is owning Redemption Island these days.  That idol, had it been found, could have really helped y’all in the merge.  You know, if you’d used it as a tribe.  Everyone knew John had the clues.  Not using that fact to keep the tribe a bit stronger down the road was a bit of an ill-conceived notion.  Two, Culpepper worried that Candice would control John after the merge, and therefore John had to go now.  Which would make sense, if Culpepper really has any control over his alliance once their loved ones join the fray post-merge, as well.  Now, Candice’s tribe voted her out on the first day – would it not have been a better bet to hope that she wins her way back into the game to join the all-guy alliance with her man, rather than assume that she’ll stick with the group who voted her out in the first place?  I’m just sayin’.  Maybe Culpepper can still control Hayden once he and Kat both make it to the merge, for example, but I wouldn’t put stock in that belief.  I think maybe only Culpepper believes that one.

However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from watching Survivor on my couch, it’s that every time someone proclaims themselves “in control” of the whole game – they’re soon learning how wrong they were on their way out the door.

Dear Survivor…I love you!

 

Special Mentions

I want to give a quick shout out to a couple of shows which I really enjoyed, but I ran out of time to write, and now we’re into another week already!  The Originals (spinoff from The Vampire Diaries) premiered this week, and even though I’d seen the episode as a preview a long time ago, I was once again thrilled to see some of my fave vamps back on my screen, and can’t wait to see how this new storyline unfolds.  Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is back!!!

Backalley’s new show, Played, premiered this week, as well, and while I didn’t think it’d be my kind of show per se, I was happily proven wrong by an exciting and solid pilot episode!  And really, could that cast be any prettier?

Finally, Sleepy Hollow is a show I picked up at the beginning, and haven’t been completely sold on just yet.  However, this week’s episode may have brought me on board for the long haul, after all.  It was dark, creepy, and had a ton of emotional heart throughout – all of which I love.  Throwbacks to previous episodes, and big events which further the story and allow the characters to grow into future episodes.  I loved it!

That’s it for now…gotta start getting caught up on this week’s episodes now!  :)

Sue’s Week In TV – Hits & Highlights

I tend to watch a lot of television through the week – and PVR a whole lot more. Here are some of the stand-outs from the past week, for me:

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Rizzoli & Isles:  Season 3, Episode 4 – Welcome To The Dollhouse

The opening moments of this episode were some of the creepiest I’ve ever seen. A bunch of wee dolls in a dollhouse, sitting around the dinner table like a little family. Then more and more dolls – bigger dolls – until finally we see a woman tied to a chair, with a man in the shadows, yelling at her.
“Will you tell??”
She shakes her head in terror, and begins to plead for her life, when the man’s arm raises, with something in his hand, and crashes down violently onto her skull.
The next time we see that woman, she is perched on a bench at a bus stop, dressed in retro, ill-fitting clothes, garish make-up, with a huge gaping wound on her head.
Just like a doll.
There was so much going on in this episode, and I loved every moment of it. By now, the main cast have all long-since found their rhythm with one another, and the characters live and breathe right in front of us from week to week. Leads Angie Harmon (Det. Jane Rizzoli) and Sasha Alexander (Dr. Maura Isles) were outstanding as per usual, and I am very happy to see them back to getting along again. They really do make an incredible team when they work together.
Everything involving Korsak (Bruce McGill) this week was a joy to me – from finding and rescuing the dog, “Barney Miller”, to having to give her up again, to lamenting that she wasn’t the dog working the case with them…all of it was so well done – so quietly perfect – that I couldn’t help but be entertained.
I also, unfortunately, can’t get the real-life fact out of my mind that young, talented and beautiful Lee Thompson Young (who plays Det. Barry Frost) took his own life just over a month ago. Every time I see him on screen something twists in my gut and I feel so much empathy for his friends, family and coworkers that I can’t help but hang onto each moment he appears in the show now. Such an incredible loss – I try to treasure what we have left, knowing in retrospect now that the end of our time with Det Frost is near.

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Mom:  Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot

I actually don’t watch many comedies anymore – Hot In Cleveland and Seed are the exceptions of late – but I’d been seeing commercials for this one in recent weeks, and they always made me laugh, so I thought I’d give it a go.  SO glad I did!  First – you can’t go wrong with Allison Janney.  At all.  In anything.  Ever.  So that alone is a decent reason to at least check this show out.  But if you like slightly irreverent, off-beat humour (as I do), then you’re likely to settle in and stay a bit.  French Stewart delivered one line while the opening credits were still rolling that had me laughing so hard I had to text it to Tim, if that’s any indication!

We first meet Christy (Anna Faris), a newly-sober mom of two (Sadie Calvano and Blake Garrett Rosenthal) who’s trying to get her life back together, despite the many temptations and obstacles in her path.  One such issue is the re-emergence of her own former-addict mother (Allison Janney).  Add in an ex-husband (Matt Jones) who can’t seem to make child support payments, the married boss with whom Christy is having an affair (Nate Corddry) and the knowledge that her teenaged daughter has been having sex with her boyfriend (Spencer Daniels) for some time now, and suddenly sobriety isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Generations of love and dysfunction pile up into one very promising sitcom – I can’t wait to see if they can build on the already strong foundation established in this pilot episode!

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Face Off:  Season 5, Episode 7 – Living Art

I can never properly express how much I truly love this show.  The commercials that aired before the series premiere had me intrigued, but I was hooked by the end of that very first episode, and my adoration of the show as a whole grows with each and every episode.  This season, I was thrilled to see the veterans vs newbies twist happening at the start, and now that we are so many weeks in, everyone remaining has my utmost admiration and respect.  Talented freaking peeps all around!

Of course, like everyone else, I have my favourites.  Of the remaining newbies, I think Eddie has more to bring to the table, so I hope he sticks around longer and finds a way to pull off the makeup he sees in his mind more often.  Laney as well…I’m not totally sold on her all of the time, but her talent when she gets things right is unmistakeable.  Of the vets, I love Alana, Laura and my all-time number one fave, Tate.  Actually, Miranda kicks ass when she hits her stride, too.  I just don’t adore her work as consistently as I do the other three.

Tate’s been my guy since season 1, and I was thrilled to see him back this season.  He’s been killing it, too – until this week.  First, his scary-ass injury in the lab with his mold was CRAZY.  I was worried about him overall, because if he’d lost the use of his finger, it could affect the rest of his life as a make-up artist, let alone the rest of his competition.  I loved seeing everyone come together to help him out while he was getting stitched up, and when he was first sculpting that castle I thought it was one of the coolest things ever.  But the end product really was mostly cool costume and not so much make-up.  So disappointing this time, but I loved his foundation challenge (with ELVIRA!!!), and at least he survived to see another week.

Miranda’s piece was way better than she gave herself credit for…she really doesn’t know her own talent, does she?  And I about cried for Alana when she was frantically trying to finish her piece at last looks and ran out of time.  It actually wasn’t as bad as she feared, either, but when it was announced that she was safe, I think her reaction was pretty genuine.  Sometimes we get so close to our creation that we can’t see the big picture, and I believe that’s what happened in her case this week.  It wasn’t as good as she wanted it to be, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.

I think it was a no-brainer for Laura to win again this week, though.  Holy hell, that piece of work was AMAZING!  It took my breath away as soon as the lights hit, and I found myself wanting him to move around so I could see more than just the front of the “painting”.  So many layers and textures and colours – gah!  Absolutely stunning.  It was like a Picasso character stepped out of a painting and was standing right in front of you.  Ridiculous.  The woman is an insane talent, and I look forward to everything she comes up with from week to week.

Almost as much as I look forward to seeing what pops out of Tate’s brain next.  ;)

Lucky 7

Lucky 7 - Season One, Episode One

This new show had its premiere this week, as well, and while it started out kind of like I expected, it quickly turned into something all its own.  The fact that Bomb Girls’ Anastasia Phillips and Gabe Grey are both in it meant that I was definitely going to tune in and check it out, but the storytelling of this pilot episode has ensured that I will be staying on for awhile!

The basic plot is simple:  a group of gas station employees win the lottery – and they win huge.  I’d expected a bit of background on each character before their big win, and we were duly provided with such.  But none of it went down the way I’d expected – I didn’t expect a pair of employees/brothers, to rob their place of work.  I didn’t expect one of the employees to have left himself out of the winnings.  And I didn’t expect a mysterious vote breakdown when it was determined that one of the employees hadn’t helped pay for the ticket himself.

Each character is their own person already, and by the end of the pilot, it’s pretty obvious to the viewer that – while they may not all be alone in the outside world – they really only truly have one another to count on going forward.  I am very interested to see what happens next!

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The Michael J. Fox Show – Season One, Episode One and Episode Two

I suspect Tim will want to write about this one in more detail, so for now, I will just say a very hearty WELCOME BACK, MICHAEL!!!  So happy to have you back on my TV screen!  You have been very dearly missed!  <3

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Person Of Interest

This show has made me paranoid and thrilled since it first began to air, so I was very happy to settle into this week’s season premiere.  The show hit the ground running right out of the gate, and by the end of the opening credits, it was evident that gang was, in fact, all here.  Carter (Taraj P. Henson) looks amazing this season – whether in uniform or her civilian clothes.  She will kick ass regardless of clothing or position on the force.  Shaw (Sarah Shahi) is an aweome addition to the crew, as well, and I love that she is still doing things her own way.  It keeps Reese (Jim Caviezel) on his toes, and puts Finch (Michael Emerson) into the position almost of being the confused father of a headstrong teenaged daughter.  Agent Shaw is, of course, very capable, but she needs our guys in a very different way from what they are used to, and I love that dynamic already.  Root (Amy Acker) is rocking the psychiatric/prison hospital and, though I suspect she won’t be in there long, I do love how threatening she can be without a phone and wearing her jammies.  Creepy as hell!  Fusco (Kevin Chapman) has pulled himself together into a good, competent and trustworthy asset over the years, and any time Enrico Colantoni shows up on my screen is a happy day for me.

The season is off to an incredible start, and for the rest, I say bring it!

Elementary

Elementary returned this week – seeing Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson in London for a bit, and getting to meet Sherlock’s brother was an interesting treat. 

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As well, Revolution came back with a bang, and while I wasn’t sure how into much of the episode I was, as soon as all that stuff with Aaron happened, well, colour me back on board! 

Survivor

Survivor this week wasn’t fantastic, but I think that might just be because every time I try to like Colton, he opens his mouth and makes me feel like I accidentally let cancer get in again.  I hope he leaves soon, because there’s drama for the sake of drama, and then there’s just…disease.  He makes me not want to watch anymore.

Last Week In Television (April 14-20)

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Recently, I decided to make a list of all the shows that regularly grace my television screen, just to see how many there actually are.  Not every show airs during the same parts of the year, so I’m obviously not watching every single show, every single week.  I’m not even sure that would be possible, with or without my PVR, because I also have a full time job – and kind of a life.  At any rate, I topped out at a whopping 37 current television series, and I thought maybe I should try to write about some of them a little more often.  It’d be impossible for me to cover every episide of every show that I watch, even considering the fact that Tim covers a few of them on a regular basis as well.  I also end up not being able to see the bulk of my shows until the weekend, when I have time to catch up, so I was thinking I’d go back and just try to highlight some of my favourite things each week.  We’ll see how my time management works out after today, but you never know!  There’s just so much good stuff out there that’s worth talking about, and I have been feeling the need more and more often to do just that.

So here we go.

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The Following

I believe this week’s episode has us racing toward the season finale of this incredible new series, and overall, the show has yet to miss a beat.  I love seeing Kevin Bacon on my screen every week, rocking the roll of Ryan Hardy like no one else can.  The interplay between Ryan and the show’s big bad, serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is nothing short of amazing, and the rest of the talented cast make each moment feel full, complete and often terrifying.  This week was no different.  Joe’s control over his cult of followers has begun to crack, and as Ryan’s people close in a bit more, Joe loses faith and turns on Roderick (Warren Cole), his right hand man.  Watching these two icy cool psychopaths go at one another while their plans start to crumble around them is crazy unsettling, and made the entire episode feel even more poignant as we careen headlong toward the season’s finish line.  This is one show I find it difficult to take my eyes off the screen while it’s on.  It captures my attention from start to finish, each and every time.

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Survivor

The ads for this week’s episode claimed that the Tribal Council was one of the craziest ever seen on the show – and they weren’t wrong! Before that all went down, however, it was a tough week for some of the cast.  Dawn in particular hit her breaking point, and then managed to get the one thing she needed to keep going – sleep.  Her breakdown was nothing like Brandon’s, but even she knew she was over-reacting to everything, and felt like she was losing control, and having been in similar shoes, that was hard to watch.  I saw people making fun of her over her reaction to losing her retainer, but I have to say, I really felt for her in that moment, and was nearly as elated to see Brenda come up the secret hero on that one. Plus, I freaking love Brenda.  I remember trying not to like her the first time around, but there’s just something so cool about her.  I gave up any semblance of dislike for her at the start of this season, and so far she hasn’t let me down.  The way she handled Dawn just made me like her more.  I think Cochran is actually my favourite castaway this time around, though.  He cracks me up, so far he’s kept his head, he’s doing well in challenges and not even trying to make anyone like him – he’s just a likeable guy.  He started as a fan, and is back this season as a favourite.  He is definitely one of mine.  I sort of hate watching the three amigos do so well, but at the same time, their arrogance hasn’t been as on display for the other survivors as it has for the audience, and the grin on Eddie’s face when Malcolm saved them both at Tribal was hilarious.  I did not like seeing everyone start throwing Andrea’s name around before, say, Sherri, since she is supposed to be at the bottom of the seven.  I wasn’t glad to see Phillip go, but it wasn’t the most upsetting departure, either.  Erik almost screwed him when he suggested that the boys would have to play their idols in order to be safe – a valid point, but also may have been behind Phillip’s decision to vote the way they’d decided going in.  AND he also voted for Phillip, so while I adore Erik, I’m also never sure what he’s thinking most of the time.  All in all, an awesome episode, and I think Cochran summed it up best when he said, “No matter what happens, it’s stuff like this that makes me freaking LOVE Survivor!”

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Bates Motel

I just started watching this one, and have yet to see the first few episodes, but even though I jumped in a little late, I am really really enjoying it.  Freddie Highmore is an amazing Norman Bates, and watching his relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), is unsettling, aggravating, heartbreaking…and a whole bunch of other words I can’t seem to come up with at the moment.  The show somehow manages to maintain this sort of strained atmosphere, no matter what’s actually happening on screen.  This week, we saw Norman come home from losing his virginity to find that his mom has been arrested for murder, his brother (Max Thieriot) announces that he’s moving out, and there is still the quandry of what happened to the girl in the cop’s basement.  Even when it seems nothing is happening in a scene, there is so much going on underneath it that it’s impossible to get comfortable.  I mean, I have a sort of instant love for Norman Bates…but it’s Norman Freaking BATES!  I know how this goes, and yet I have so much empathy for the character in the series that it’s easy to forget the dress-wearing, knife-wielding psycho we know he becomes by the time the events of the Hitchcok film roll around. Thus far, though, I am truly loving Norman’s slow burn and, even though I know how this will all go down later, I still find myself rooting for the kid to write himself another ending to his story.

 Cracked S01E01

Other mentionables include Bomb Girls, which holds me so closely each week I keep it on my PVR for awhile, in case I want to watch it again. Lost Girl ended a strong season with an incredible finale, and one of the best final images I’ve ever been stuck with – and now I have to wait for season 4 to begin?!  Come ON!  Orphan Black continues to captivate, and Tatiana Maslany is about the most amazing thing going these days.  She’s incredible.  Castle was a bit disappointing, but probably because I was thinking that the subject matter was a bit more serious and relevant than it actually ended up being.  It was fun, of course.  I just thought they were going in a more intriguing direction for a few minutes.  Motive didn’t get recorded, for some reason, so I’ll have to hit up On Demand for that, because I am really loving that show, and don’t want to miss anything, if I can help it!  Grimm was awesome – Juliet (Bitsie Tulloch) is getting control of her memories, there was more Wu (Reggie Lee) (but no Hank (Russell Hornsby) makes me sad), I got to hear part of a much-loved Gogol Bordello tune to put me in a great mood out of nowhere, and it was kind of cool to see Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) working with Nick (David Giuntoli) and getting his hands dirty on a case.  Defiance started pretty strong for a new series, so it’ll be great if they keep up that momentum and build on the world they’ve created, as well as the people in it.  I already think it’d be amazing to have a set visit during the shooting of season two!  ;)  Vampire Diaries was pretty good – not knowing who Silas is keeps making me trust no one, and I kind of like that!  Cracked was great – the little girl made for an interesting case, and seeing Victor Webster on my screen again is always a good thing!  Speaking of, Continuum is about to start up season 2 at last!  Feels like we’ve been waiting forever!  I hope we get a bit of a recap, though, because I’m having trouble remembering everything we left off on, but I suspect it will take no time to be back in the moment, and I can’t wait!

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Okay, that’s it for now.  Hot Docs starts this week, so there will be a bazillion posts on the films we’re covering for it, but I hope to maybe get some more TV-related updates done again sometime next weekend.  Until next time, keep on tuning in!  There’s an awful lot of awesome out there!

Bomb-Girls

Stranded Review (Book #1) – Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts

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I was one of the millions of people worldwide who watched Richard Hatch irritate, dominate, and win the first season of television’s epic reality show pioneer, Survivor. After that, I watched a few seasons, then tapered off to other things, and came back to it again after a few years, once I realized that they’ve somehow figured out how to keep each season fresh and new, even when there are returning players involved. Survivor’s enigmatic host, Jeff Probst, has long been a favourite of mine (especially as he seems to be much more sarcastically fun as the seasons pass by), so when I got the opportunity to read and review this first book in his Stranded series, I jumped at the chance.
Stranded is an adventure novel targeted primarily for middle grade readers, but as a fan of Survivor – and of shipwrecked/island tales in general - I found this book to be a highly enjoyable read for adults, as well. And who better to tell a story of survival than the man who has watched and grown to know so many survivors himself, over the years?
The book opens on the sailing ship, the Lucky­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Star, and we are introduced to the four young protagonists of this incredible journey, Vanessa, Buzz, Carter and Jane. The four are siblings in a recently blended family, and they are taken sailing in the South Pacific by their Uncle Dex as a way of helping them bond more while on vacation together. Close to the halfway mark of their jaunt, however, the boat gets tossed about by a particularly vicious storm, and the children are accidentally separated from the adults on the open sea. Their boat runs aground on a small volcanic island, with no help in sight, and the children are left to fend for themselves.
It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they’ll all need to get along and support one another if any of them are to have a hope of surviving long enough for rescuers to find them – a notion complicated by the fact that they were blown off course by the storm, and no one really knows where they are anymore. Soon, even something as simple as clean drinking water becomes a harrowing battle for survival, and the four children must keep all their wits about them to make it through each day alive.
Each of the characters is a fully realized individual, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses which are put to the test right from the start. It was easy to find characteristics in each child that I could relate to, and it made their predicament instantly important to me as a reader. The locations, scenery and weather are all familiar to fans of Survivor, and I sense that the need to make fire is about to become pretty dire. I love that little Jane is so smart, and I suspect she will be the one to figure the fire thing out, but in the meantime, she and her siblings are all demonstrating what I feel is one of the most important themes of all. Each person contributes to the group’s survival in their own way, but none of them could do it all if they were alone. More people need to learn that lesson, I think!
The story itself is fast-paced and exciting, which made the whole book fly by quickly, and as soon as I finished the last page, I found myself wishing that I already had the next book in the series so I could continue the adventure right away! So come join us and get lost together – you’ll be glad you did!
Stranded is available now from Penguin Canada, and its sequel, Stranded #2: Trial By Fire is due out June 18, 2013.

Oma & Bella – Alexa Karolinski, Germany/USA

Oma & Bella points a camera into the lives of two Holocaust survivors who remained in Germany after WWII.  Living together now in Berlin, their friendship has survived several decades, and has an enviable strength due to their shared memories and love of cooking.  For both women, food – and the preparation of food – is more a way of life than simple sustenance.  They specifically create the dishes and treats they remember from their youth, and even just the process of cooking or baking a certain recipe can vividly bring back the memories they wish to hold onto from their pre-Holocaust lives.  Memories neither woman wants to forget, and which they graciously share with the viewer (and the director) as they work.

The film follows Oma and Bella through their daily lives – to the market, social gatherings, the cemetery, the hairdresser – all around Berlin, until it’s time to go back to the apartment (or, more aptly, the kitchen) once again.  They always have everything ready – the drawers of the freezer are filled with more food than they could eat in a lifetime, it seems – just in case the grandchildren or any friends come to visit.  Oma and Bella are beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, generous, proud, kind, opinionated, honest and welcoming women, and the director’s love for both of them shines through in every moment of this film.

Even the less-than-pleasant ones.

Both Oma and Bella have memories of the Holocaust that they don’t necessarily speak about all the time, yet they can be very open about the things they saw and experienced during that darkest of times.  They put an honest, human face onto an unimaginably horrible part of our history, and often it’s through all of the things they DON’T have – photographs of family, other living relatives, friends with similar experiences who have not spoken a word about it to this day (nor even returned to Germany at all, in some cases) – that their voices speak the loudest.

This film does something that few others have accomplished when it comes to documenting survivors of the Holocaust.  It shows that – though they experienced the greatest of hate, Oma and Bella still learned to love.  They came through the poorest and darkest poverty to have sunshine pouring through their kitchen windows while they create their next enormous feast.  What Oma & Bella does most of all is to show us that – not only did they survive the Holocaust – but these two extraordinary women owned their past, rose above it, and went on to LIVE.

Oma & Bella has its international premiere at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto.  It is screening Saturday April 28 @ 6:30pm at TIFF Lightbox, and Monday April 30 at 4:30pm at the ROM.

Also, head over to Facebook and Like the film here.