Color me surprised!

I noticed my DVR was recording last night.  Unsure of what I was recording, I checked it out, and to my delight,  Riders of Berk had a one-hour premiere.    And here I’d been wondering what to watch on a Sunday evening.

The show was basically two separate episodes, so I’m not sure if these will be repeated later this week, or if they were something extra.  The first episode dealt with the unruliness of  the dragons, eating all the crops and setting buildings on fire accidentally.  The second explored blacksmith Gobber’s attempts to cope in a world where metal weapons were no longer needed to slay dragons.

Both episodes were cute and I found myself laughing out loud several times.  Perhaps my favorite moment was Hiccup telling Toothless that, among other things, Gobber taught Hiccup what he needed to know to make Toothless’s tail.  I was quite pleased how they highlighted the Hiccup/Toothless relationship.  In fact, all the other teens have grown quite fond of their dragons.

I was curious about the voice talent.  I was confident Gerard Butler wasn’t available (or too costly) for Stoic.  But Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs and Tuffnut were voiced by their movie counterparts (Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and TJ Miller respectively).  Notably absent were those who’ve hit the Big Time, Jonah Hill (Snotlout) and Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut).  I was surprised Craig Ferguson wasn’t voicing Gobber, but he does have a full-time gig with his talk show.

But they did get some great “new” talent:   Tim Conway plays a dim-witted, silly Viking, and Stephen Root voices Mildew, the village grump.  And I see from IMDB that Mark Hamill is set to play Alvin.  I hope Alvin remains the “poor-but-honest farmer” introduced in Cressida Cowell’s second book “How to Be a Pirate.”  Oh, this should be fun!

(Disclaimer:  Way too many actors mentioned in this post to tag them all.  Sorry if I skipped one of your favorites!)

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Batting .ooo

TV is not my friend.

Since I hadn’t watched any Supernatural during the repeats, I decided to speed-watch “Appointment in Samarra” last night prior to tuning in to the new episode.  I finished the repeat late (which I like to do so I can fast-forward through the commericials), and what do I get for my troubles?  Nikita!  *pffft*!  Worse, because the cable guide still said Supernatural, my DVR recorded it.  Bah!

At least SyFy had the decency to note that Merlin was being unceremoniously usurped by Being Human, so the DVR didn’t fire up.  (And they did a mini-Merlin-marathon on Tuesday, so I got to watch some season 1 episodes I’d never seen before, including the series premiere.)

I watched the premiere of Being Human last week, and honestly, it’s not very good.  I swear the only reason it’s a hit is because of Sam Witwer, who gained a following on Smallville a few seasons back.  Because really?  The other two lead actors are pretty crappy.  At least Mark Pellegrino adds a bit of class.   (He seems to have put on weight since his Lucifer days on Supernatural.  I guess blood has a lot of calories.)

I suppose I shouldn’t be bitchy about Nikita or Being Human.  After all, I scoffed at Supernatural for its two Pretty Boy leads until I actually watched the show and found out the Pretty Boys could actually act.

So, no new tv episodes for me last night.  Poop!  😦  Instead, I went to bed and read some more of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So the evening wasn’t a total bust.

What a Masterpiece (Mystery)!

The new Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes

The new Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Boy, am I glad I spent my summer reading Sherlock HolmesMasterpiece Mystery started a new series, simply titled Sherlock, and it is wonderful! It’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson for the 21st century.  I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off (and the leads looked awfully young) but they did.  In a very big way.

I think the show is enjoyable on its own, but knowing (most of) the legend makes that much better. (Sort of like knowing Eric Kripke wrote Boogeyman adds to one’s enjoyment of Supernatural‘s “Hollywood Babylon.”)  They stayed true to the original story in many ways, but added new twists along the way.

It’s fascinating that the series is able to start the same way as the original.  Of course, it helps that there’s a modern day war in Afghanistan.  John Watson, a military doctor, is recovering from having been wounded in Afghanistan.  He wants to stay in London, but can’t afford it, so an old med school buddy introduces him to a… well, they don’t really say, but he appears to be a forensics researcher, which is a good modern day substitute for chemist, I suppose.  Much of their initial conversation is the same.  Holmes immediately identifies Watson as an Army doctor wounded in either “Afghanistan or Iraq.”  (I think the original choices were “Afghanistan or India?”, but don’t quote me.)  And yet, for all the similarity, there is one highly entertaining twist.

As I said above, I was concerned that the leads looked too young, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s baritone voice and Martin Freeman’s lined face age them sufficiently.  Besides, Sherlock’s youth adds to his brilliance.

There’s Lestrade and Mycroft and Moriarty.  There’s Holmes’ boredom, addiction and slovenliness.  And Watson’s eye for the ladies.  And even the clue “Rache.”  But all are tempered in some way.  Lestrade is a sympathetic character who actually admires Holmes.  The nicotine addiction is fed by the patch.  And the word “rache” leads us in a different direction from the original.

This Sherlock has a bit more personality, and a lot more humor than the original.  Instead of “Holmes” and “Watson,” it’s “Sherlock” and “John.”  And instead of modern day audiences (well, me, at least) silently chuckling at the homosexual undertones, this friendship is overtly mistaken for a romance more than once.

As with all television shows featuring male actors with great chemistry (Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester, Merlin‘s Merlin and Prince Arthur), I’m sure the slash fan fiction can’t be far behind.

SYTYCD top 20

After my So You Can Think diatribe yesterday, the judges actually judged last night’s performances.  Well, most of the performances.  I credit Adam Shankman.  Once he critiqued, the others felt they needed to, too.   And for the most part, the judging was right—i.e., they agreed with me.  (You know I’m kidding here, right?)

However, I do smell shenanigans.  Billy, one of the front-running dancers dropped out due to a serious, but undisclosed illness.  So they brought in a replacement, Brandon, less than 2 days before performance.  And did they give him a break like they gave Phillip the popper last year?  Shit no!  (As you may recall, Phillip performed a horrible tango, but Nigel told America to take it easy on him.)  Last night, the judges evaluated Brandon against all the dancers who’d had an entire week to prepare.  Poor Brandon (a hip hopper doing a waltz, for Pete’s sake!).  They ripped him apart and immediately booted him off the show.

Then, one of the gals, Noelle, tore up her knee and couldn’t perform.  Even though her entire leg was in a cast, the producers gave her a bye this week. So she gets to stay on the show for another week, even though she did nothing to deserve it.  Instead, another gal, Ariana is out.  Well, unless Noelle can’t perform next week, in which case Arianna will be back.

Sometimes this show makes my head hurt.  See why I say I hate to love it?

Oh yeah!  And they never did tell us how the contestants are paired up.  *pouts*

PR: Around the World in Two Days

It should have been called “Around the World in One Day” since it was, once again, another 1-day challenge.

My “auf-prediction” record remains an untarnished .000!

Not that I’m complaining.  I’m glad Gordana is still in the game.  But the girl cannot get a break.  Heidi browbeats her mercilessly week after week.  Then when guest judge Milla Jonovich (who was great, by the way) tells her she needs to be more confident of her work, Heidi chastises Gordana for it. Jeez!

I admit, I am a fashion moron when it comes to this show.  One week “being wearable” is a detriment.  Next week, the design should be more predictable.  For example, I understood Christopher’s soft blue and sand tones being inspired by Santa Fe (although Milla’s suggestion of using Georgia O’Keefe’s bright, bold colors was awesome).  I also thought the chiffon fabrics he chose were a nice unexpected touch.

Nicolas's Greece-inspired pants

Nicolas's Greece-inspired pants

The horizontal pleats on Nicolas’s pants reminded me of Greek columns, and his top of the white hillside houses.  But apparently the challenge was to create something you could wear in your chosen place, not actually be inspired by it to design something unique.

As much as I don’t care for her bitchiness, Irina impressed me last night.  Not just with her Aspen-inspired design, but also to challenge herself with each design.  Of course, she had to caveat it by belittling the other designers as just trying to get by.

And something sort of unrelated:  Does anybody know where I can find screencaps of Project Runway?  I know some blogs post lots of them, but I’m looking for specific caps of the judges.

I may have to eat my words

[Gak!  I wrote this a few weeks ago and never posted it.  I’ve actually gotten caught up with my Cleaner watching (see how much better that reads than “my The Cleaner watching”?), but had watched only “Split Ends” and “The Things We Didn’t Plan” when I wrote this. ]

If “Split Ends” and “The Things We Didn’t Plan” are any indication of what’s to come, I’m there.  Well, I’m there with the remote in case I have to fast-forward through the family crap scenes.

I watched “Split Ends” last week, so it’s a bit dusty in my mind.  It took me a couple tries to finish the episode, but when I did, I liked it.  The family of broken women recovering together was… I’m struggling for a word here.  “Sweet” doesn’t work, nor does “nice.”  I guess “comforting” comes the closest to describing how I felt.

The episode gave us a  glimpse into the enigma that is William Banks.  At one point he tells Amber “You’re “beautiful,” because that’s what she needs to hear.  But he’s unable to forgive his friend Greg, even though recovery is supposed to be about forgiveness.  If we can have more views into William’s psyche, minus the family, I’m all for it.

“The Things We Didn’t Plan” was nearly perfect.  (And not just because there was no Melissa or kids.)  I  loved how the camera work at the beginning emphasized the episode’s key people in saturated color against a black and white background.  And I liked that William spoke of his team with pride in his voice.  Most of the time, William’s interaction with Akani and Arnie is to chastise them for screwing up, or getting too personal, or whatever. It was pleasant to see them all working together.

I’m not sure if this episode indicates a turn in the tone of the show, with producers realizing the family isn’t working and knowing they’ve missed a gold mine in glossing over Arnie and Akani.  Not to mention taking advantage of Benjamin Bratt’s appeal.  Maybe they took my comments about why season 2 hasn’t been working to heart.  Except that 1) I know they’re not scouring the internet to see what I have to say, and 2) the episode was filmed long before I voiced my disappointment.

I felt William was treated as “single” in this episode.  He didn’t mention his family, and even seemed to do a little flirting with Evan, the diner’s owner.  I thought they had a lovely chemistry and would enjoy seeing her again.  (Although the surprise of the wheel chair was a little hokey.  I mean, it was next to her seat.  William, the great observer, didn’t notice it??)

I loved the Arnie/Akani interaction.  I never want to see them hook up as a couple, but their sibling-like sparing is entertaining.  Akani trying to convince Sunshine, the homeless woman, she can take care of her dog because she has experience taking care of animals—she takes care of Arnie.  Of course, Sunshine wasn’t convinced Akani was doing such a good job with Arnie as she retorted “That scrawny thing?”  But underneath all the teasing, Arnie and Akani do care about each other.

I think perhaps we got a hint into Akani’s background.  When Sunshine’s daughter refused to take care of the dog, wanting nothing to do with her mother, it seemed to hit Akani particularly hard.  I got the feeling it’s something more personal for Akani than just trying to take care of a “client.”

In an episode full of good performances, Jamie McShane really stood out as Leonard, the cocaine-addicted detective.  Having the shakes as he was going through detox (the “for real” detox, not the “just pass the drug test” detox) was an inspired addition.  Even if it wasn’t the actor’s choice, he did it brilliantly.  Of all the stories, his was the most tragic, and his actions the most courageous.

I sometimes complain that the series goes for the rosy ending 99% of the time (3 separate cases, 3 positive outcomes?  Really?).   Even in the case of Evan and Leonard where the outcome isn’t pleasant, only the positive is emphasized.  Then again, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to see the good in a bad situation.

The Cleaner, episode 2, “Rag Dolls”

Rag Dolls

I really liked this episode. I hesitate to say I love the show with only 2 episodes aired, but I’m quite taken with it. I’d hoped they’d cut back on the eccentricities of the supporting cast, and they did. Akani (Grace Park) was still flirty, but it wasn’t brazen. Swenton was genuinely funny, without being obnoxious.

The episode was titled “Rag Dolls,” which is apparently slang for female surfer. I was especially interested to watch the show as the title character was played by Alona Tal, who had played the ill-fated Jo in the second season of Supernatural. She played Jackie, an 18-year-old surfing enthusiast whose mother was concerned about her sudden erratic behavior. Mom was afraid Jackie was using, yet she consistently came up clean on drug tests.

I thought this episode was stronger than the first. The beginning was very emotional on two separate fronts, and it gave the recurring cast the opportunity to show their range of talent. The show continues to showcase the dichotomy between William Banks’ two worlds by interweaving the story of his mission with that of his family. Banks’ team in action is savvy, for the most part, but they do make mistakes. Some are serious, but others are absolutely hilarious.

And while the ending was somewhat pat, it was satisfying nonetheless. Perhaps the highest praise I can give is that I found myself not wanting last night’s show to end. Here’s hoping the third installment is as good… or better.