30 September 2013

BREAKING BAD Series Finale Musings

WARNING: Mild spoilers below...

Somewhere around the fourth season of Breaking Bad, I was already convinced Walter White wouldn't be able to turn things around and redeem himself. By then, it was clear to me that greed (and perhaps even pride) were at the core of his motivation for doing the things he kept doing.

Calling him "evil", or "sociopath", or "evil sociopath" --- just for conviction and emphasis that he was that baaaaaad! --- was still putting it mildly. He was beyond all that, if that's even possible.

And yet, unlike other TV characters I've developed seething hate for (such as this guy), all I felt for Walter White after he... well, broke bad... was fascination. How oddly complex did his character grow?  However, not once did I feel any sympathy.

Until the series finale.

And all of a sudden, I was on board Team Walt. And crying for him 15 minutes into watching the last episode.

I was in tears partly because I was sentimental about the show ending. But also hugely because I've come to realize how awfully sad, sad, sad this character was.

That moment with Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz was a pivotal one for me. I admit I've forgotten about the Schwartzes, what with everything that's happened on the show. But here, their presence was a glaring reminder, defining where it all actually started. Or where Walter would've been, if his fate had been different. (But we wouldn't have Breaking Bad then, would we?)

Grudge, rejection, falsehood, betrayal, charity case, pride, ego, millions. I could see the striking contrasts of all of that in the scene.

And that made me really sad for Walter White.

(I can't break down the scenes so much because I would want you to watch it, and especially feel it --- FEEEEL!!! --- without getting spoiled!)

In the end, how it came together was befitting.

Walter White did right by the people he hurt. He went the way he thought he should, and somehow, this was his redemption. And despite all the tragic circumstances he got himself and his family into, he was, in the end, a fulfilled man.


Thank you to the writers and cast for this wonderfully bitchin' ride!!! Congratulations, Bryan Cranston... for blowing us away, playing a character with so many layers so, so well!

15 September 2013

Fall 2013 TV Guide: What To Watch, What To Skip

Mid-September is when Fall season TV kicks off in the US. While I devote my time to checking out about 95% of shows that will debut every season (because...priorities!), some of you may wonder what to watch and what to skip this year. Let me take care of that and give you a brief guide.

DISCLAIMER: No, I haven't seen the pilots for many of these. The insights you'll read here are based on early reviews I've come across. (All dates on US Time, so adjust according to your location.)

Airing: September 16

SLEEPY HOLLOW - Critics apparently did not enjoy the pilot previews. The show is not an adaptation of the short story. It's a different take on Ichabod Crane, and the story will work around this character who has been transported to the present time from the 1800's. To me, the concept is not original, and the premise has been labeled as "silly" for many who have already seen the pilot. If you're willing to suspend disbelief and take the show for what it is, you may actually find Sleepy Hollow entertaining. As I read, there are some funny bits, although it's a procedural cop drama. My initial impression was that it would be creepy. Apparently, it's not. | Watching or Skipping? Watching, because I wanna see if I'm gonna be entertained or not.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

 Airing: September 17

DADS - I've gone over news stories that describe this show as so offensive, it may not be well-received. I have no problem with that (offensive). I get that some puns can ruffle a few feathers. What bothers me about Dads is learning that it's not funny. With Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green as stars, I would expect it to have humor. In high doses. But early reviews have been unkind. | Watching or Skipping? My gut says skip it. But like I said, I watch nearly every pilot so.... I could always give it up later.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE - I took notice of the show because Michael Schur's name is attached to it. He has written for The Office and Parks & Recreation, two critically-acclaimed series. Another thing I find interesting is that this is a cop comedy, not a cop drama (which overflows on TV), and the captain is the first openly gay New York police captain ever. That? Tons of fodder for comedy. I can already imagine the wittiest and sharpest lines Schur could write about the character.  I have high expectations for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I hope it won't disappoint.| Watching or Skipping? WATCHING! I'd be crazy to skip it!

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: September 23

MOMS - This is another potential Chuck Lorre hit (he has given us Big Bang Theory and Two and A Half Men) and I only read nothing but positive feedback. The series stars Anna Faris as a single mom and a recovering alcoholic, and Allison Janney as her mother...and also a recovering alcoholic. | Watching or Skipping? Watching!

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

HOSTAGES - I'm getting a feeling this show will give me headaches.  It does seem like it's attempting to be "high concept", but what that only tells me (and because I was sorely disappointed by how Revenge and Revolution are turning out) is that the story may eventually get so convoluted, it would be unable to unwrap the plot twists nicely. And I hear this show has several plot twists. Stars Dylan McDermott as an FBI hostage negotiator who snaps and takes the President's surgeon (played by Toni Collette) as his hostage. | Watching or Skipping? Most likely hate-watching. Hoping that won't be the case, as I've also read a couple of early reviews saying give this show a chance.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

THE BLACKLIST - This show has similarities with Hannibal and The Following, as the premise centers on a most-wanted criminal. Jon Bokenkamp, the creator of the series, is not a familiar name to me, but he has done a few suspense/thrillers for movies in the past. The one reason why Blacklist is much anticipated is because it stars an illustrious actor, James Spader. | Watching or Skipping? Watching, because I'd like to see how it compares to Hannibal and The Following.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: September 24

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF THE S.H.I.E.L.D - Discussed and dissected all over TV communities on the very first day ABC announced it was developing this type of series, it's pretty fair to say that it will have to  try very hard to meet the expectations of the viewers. The pilot, apparently, will not disappoint. It's huge. It's a fanboy's orgasmic fantasy coming true on TV. But whatever becomes of the series afterwards? It remains to be seen. But I would love to see Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) kicking ass. | Watching or Skipping? Watching.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

THE GOLDBERGS - Refer to this for the my pilot preview.

TROPHY WIFE - Refer to this for the my pilot preview.

LUCK 7 -  Filled with a bunch of semi-familiar actors, this series is an adaptation of the British show The Syndicate. Whispers are that this is smartly-written. That? Has gotten me so intrigued, I can't wait to watch this one. | Watching or Skipping? Watching. Definitely.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: September 25

BACK IN THE GAME -  Refer to this for the my pilot preview.

Airing: September 26

THE CRAZY ONES -  I've seen the teaser months ago and I wasn't impressed much. Early reviews mostly imply that the show could do better, as it is lacking in substance and may be hard for viewers to connect. The series stars Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Wolk. | Watching or Skipping? Watching. For Robin Williams. And James Wolk. I will watch James Wolk in anything.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW -  I'm quite disappointed by early reviews for this show because it's giving me the impression that it is sorely lacking in direction. I hate it when a show is all over the place. Aside from the pilot, critics have already seen the first three episodes and generally? They aren't pleased. I'm hoping that's not really the case when we do get the chance to watch. Because I like Michael J. Fox. | Watching or Skipping? Watching.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: September 29

BETRAYAL - Why are extra-marital affairs such good material for movies and TV? Basically, if you've seen one, you've seen them all. So, I'm not really jumping hoops for this one. Betrayal, however, apparently takes a darker turn. And stars James Cromwell, no less. | Watching or Skipping? Checking the pilot, yes....and will see from there.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

MASTER OF SEX - Most of those who've already seen the pilot says this show is probably the BEST in the crop. Not only is it well-written, it's beautifully, aesthetically done well.  Based on Masters and Johnson, two scholars who have delved on human sexuality in the 50's, they have paved the way for a better understanding of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which we ladies have to thank for. | Watching or Skipping? I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THIS! Lizzy Caplan couldn't have picked a better material for herself!

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

HELLO LADIES - As a fan of Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, I watch mostly anything they create together. But some of those that they have done haven't hooked me in of late. Based on the teaser for this,  there doesn't seem to be anything original and different about Hello Ladies. | Watching or Skipping? Watching. And only because I like the Merchant-Gervais tandem. Please let this be good.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: October 2

SUPER FUN NIGHT - I want this to work for Rebel Wilson so much because she deserves to breakout on US TV. But the show is said to be one of the least entertaining this season, according to early reviews. The critics are so ready to diss it, which makes me worry for this show's life span. | Watching or Skipping? Watching. To prove to naysayers that it is entertaining.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

IRONSIDE - Refer to this for the my pilot preview.

Airing: October 3

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY - Refer to this for the my pilot preview.

THE MILLERS - This seems like a traditional family comedy, starring Will Arnett and Margo Martindale. But this didn't leave much impression to the critics. It's neither good nor bad, which is probably a good thing? | Watching or Skipping? Watching, although not exactly a priority.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

SEAN SAVES THE WORLD - This show is also among those who've impressed critics less. But a couple have said to watch this one at least once or twice, and see if it fits your taste. The one reason I'd like to check it out is because it's from Victor Fresco, who gave us the underrated Better Off Ted. | Watching or Skipping? Watching and keeping fingers crossed it'll get better and better.
Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

THE ORIGINALS. The backdoor pilot for this show was aired on The Vampire Diaries last season, because The Originals, in case you didn't know, is actually a spinoff of TVD. I've no idea how that went. I pretty much tuned out TVD middle of last season when Elena still couldn't decide between Stefan or Damon, after four years. It infuriated me. | Watching or Skipping? I purposely didn't watch the backdoor pilot...so, most definitely skipping this.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: October 6

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

WITCHES OF EAST END - Based on the best-selling book written by Filipina author Melissa de la Cruz, Witches of East End kinda brings images of that 90's movie Practical Magic in my mind, about sisters who have supernatural powers. There hasn't been any advance previews or reviews available. And I have yet to check the book out. I could be wrong but this is probably like Desperate Housewives with Witches? | Watching or Skipping? Watching. To support Melissa de la Cruz. #PinoyPride

Airing: October 9

TOMORROW PEOPLE - The story of human evolution, Tomorrow People is another British series adaptation. Not exactly sure how this  matches against the many other mutant stories we've already seen on TV and the movies. Also not exactly sure how the network will fare with adapting a premise as huge as this one. | Watching or Skipping? Would check out the pilot, yes. But I have no high hopes for this series.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: October 10

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND -  The reason why I gave up watching Once Upon A Time in the middle of its second season was because the plot development became so cluttered, I got lost in it. A shame, really, when it was so delightful to watch the first time it aired.  The spinoff, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, is reportedly similar. Which makes me think I shouldn't be wasting my time with this. | Watching or Skipping? Most likely skipping. Unless someone tells me otherwise.

Update: Have seen pilot episode. My feedback here.

Airing: October 17

REIGN - When story broke that there was gonna be a TV show about the teenage life of Mary Queen of Scots, not a lot of people received this news well. How many angst-y teenage show can we watch on air today? Now, we have to watch an angst-y teenager who will eventually become queen? How big of a bitch is she?  | Watching or Skipping? I'm not gonna lie, this show has gotten me curious.

Airing: October 22

RAVENSWOOD - The spinoff to Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood pretty much has the same theme, pace and flow, with teenage kids trying to solve a murder. |  Watching or Skipping? SKIPPING, especially since I don't like how PLL ended up after the 2nd season.

Airing: October 25

DRACULA -This show offers a different take on Dracula. How different? Well, Dracula is an American seeking to avenge those who've wronged him. Not exactly the type True Blood vampires are made of (or in this case, written down). I'm just hoping there wouldn't be pregnancies in this one (coz apparently Dracula falls in love with someone he believes is his wife's reincarnated being). | Watching or Skipping? Watching. Yep, I'll take a classic story, regardless if it has been reworked a million times.

Airing: November 4

ALMOST HUMAN - There's a lot of love for this show, even if it's hardly original. But with tons of buddy cop series already on air today, this is probably the most fun to watch. Action and comedy (and a bit of drama) all rolled into one. | Watching or Skipping? Watching!

12 September 2013

"Borderline" Cover, as heard on THE MINDY PROJECT

The Flaming Lips' cover of Madonna's Borderline.

Heard this version on The Mindy Project's second season premiere and I thought it was a refreshing cover of the 80's hit song. It was equally refreshing to hear it used as background music for a very important ceremony on the show. The choice was uncanny, given Borderline's lyrics, but the music's tone and mood couldn't have been more perfect for the scene!

Listen ----

2009 Flaming Lips & Stardeath and White Dwarfs - Borderline from George Salisbury on Vimeo.

As for the show, overall, I thought the first episode for the second season of The Mindy Project had a clear direction. It was entertaining and well put-together from start to finish, which is to say that its writing was seamless. The show has had a few hitches at the beginning of its first season, which reflected on the series. This time, I think (and I hope!) that Mindy has it under control. I'm so excited for what else is coming on The Mindy Project!

This was what I wrote on my Facebook Page, after watching Season 2 Episode 1 (click photo for a bigger resolution):

And this may be the right time to say that I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with this blog anymore (talk about clear direction!). Writing about TV shows can be super draining and time-consuming, especially if you do this on a regular basis, required and expected from you. I'd rather spend all my energy, or what's left of it, actually watching, you know?

So, as much as I would like to talk in great length about what I've just watched, micro-blogging works better for me now. (If this still isn't clear, this is my not-so subtle way of telling you --- over and over --- that you can find me blabbing about TV on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for joining me there!)

You can check out my short feedback on the newest crop of shows for 2013 TV season on my Facebook album here.