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Marathoned: Breaking Bad

Marathoned: Breaking Bad

It’s been a while since I marathoned a new TV show, so during the recent TV doldrums of the holiday season I decided to finally check out Breaking Bad. Within 13 days I managed to watch all 54 episodes.

And of course now that I’m caught up I’ve got to wait around like everyone else until July 15th 2013 for the remainder of season 5 and subsequently the series itself.

[You know the drill – spoilers ahead.]

“Yeah, science!”

It should go without saying that I enjoyed Breaking Bad. But I also found the series incredibly difficult to marathon. Not just because of the number of episodes (although I typically don’t wait so long to jump into a series), but also because spoilers are everywhere online. Breaking Bad is seriously on like every best of 2012 list and most anticipated shows of 2013 list, so I found it rather difficult to not stumble across major plot points.Breaking Bad AMC season 3

Unfortunately, an interview with Krysten Ritter, about Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, gave away Jane’s fate, a screenshot I saw somewhere tipped me off to the fact that Skylar would find out about Walt, and one of those ‘Best of Lists’ let it slip that Mike was killed – so obviously that kind of knowledge colored the way I watched each episode. I have to say that season 4 was by far my favorite, because it was basically the only season that I knew nothing about.

I also struggled with the high expectations set for the series. Most of the TV I watch is either guilty-pleasure caliber quality or short lived and loved by few, so its rare that everyone is like, ‘you need to see this’ or ‘this show is flipping amazing’. I’m not going to argue with the fact that Breaking Bad is a consistently good series with a well-crafted world and good acting, but it took a while for me to just sit back and enjoy it. I spent at least a season and a half waiting to be blown away when in reality I think the genius of the show is in the long slow build towards Walt’s transformation from desperate family man to megalomaniac.

On an episodic level though I have to say I love Breaking Bad for its unconventional camera angles, beautiful location shots, and the frequent use of montages / time lapse transitions.

“I’m the bad guy.”

But of course as I mentioned before, I think the most impressive part of the series is the characters’ journeys and transformations. The Walter White we met in the pilot episode is drastically different from the one we see 50+ episodes later, but he’s still fundamentally the same person too, and that’s hard to do. It’s not unusual for a show to change a character for the sake of a storyline (see Glee), but Walt is still the chemistry-loving intelligent man he’s always been. Only now he has agency and relishes in the ability to call his own shots, especially after his cancer diagnosis.

I think the following scene from the episode “Buyout” (5×6) best sheds light on Walt’s motives and why the meth business has been so much more filling than his previous career in education:

But enough about the increasingly nefarious Walter White – it’s hard to root for him these days anyways.  Jesse on the other hand is one of my favorite characters on TV right now. Not only does he have some of the best one-liners, but Aaron Paul is fantastic at both comedy* and drama. I’m constantly blown away by the vulnerability he is able to convey. His face is so expressive and when he’s being goofy, the character of Jesse is absolutely hilarious, but when he’s breaking down, I just want to give him a hug.

And interestingly enough, while Walter has went down an increasingly dark path, Jesse has worked towards becoming a more mature and responsible adult. At the end of the first half of season 5 he is clean and out of the meth business. That’s not to say that he is on the up and up,  I wouldn’t want him to change that much, but he’s come a long way from the “junkie imbecile” we met at the start of the series.

And not to be outdone, Breaking Bad has also done an impressive job of fleshing out other characters like Mike, Skylar, and Hank. Even secondary players like Saul and Skinny Pete have moved beyond caricatures. So it’s kind of a bummer that these awesome characters, characters I root for, are about to have their lives blown to pieces (maybe even literally, it is Breaking Bad). Of course I really have no idea how its all going to end – but if I had to guess, not happily.

Until then though, enjoy this scene of Jesse hanging out in the lab from the episode “I See You” (3×08) – it’s one of my favorite Jesse moments.

*If you love Aaron Paul and 90s teen movies I totally recommend Whatever It Takes

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A Pretty Little Liars Suspect List For Season 3B

A Pretty Little Liars Suspect List For Season 3B

Spoilers ahead for all episodes of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars including the Season 3B premier “She’s Better Now” (3×14). You’ve been warned, happy reading.

PLL ABC Family

The Liars – Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer

The past two times I’ve created one of these Pretty Little Liars suspect lists I’ve been wrong, so I am not going to even try to pretend I know what is going on anymore, but as of right now I still don’t think Aria, Hanna, Emily, or Spencer are working with “A”.

Although if I had to pick someone it would be Aria, because of her name and because the harassment started when her family returned from Iceland.

Who Is A? Currently… Mona and Toby

At the end of the second season finale, “unmAsked” (2×25), Mona became the first confirmed “A” on the show. However, it was also apparent that someone else was calling the shots and about half a season later in the episode “Lady Killer” (3×12), we learned that Toby is in fact on the “A” team too.

When Season 3B starts up Mona will be released from Radley Sanitarium and I guess we will start to learn about whether Toby is really against the Liars or is more nobly working inside the belly of the beast.

The Parents – Hastings, Montgomery, Marin, and Fields

In the second Halloween special, “This is a Dark Ride” (3×13), we learn from Garrett that Alison and Byron Montgomery had a confrontation on the night she died. So Aria’s Dad will be in the hot seat when new episodes return.

Spencer’s parents have also looked a bit suspicious. They did some lying of their own to supposedly protect Melissa when everything with Ian and her pregnancy were going down and of course we know that Jason DiLaurentis is actually Spencer and Melissa’s half brother [“The Naked Truth” (3×19)].

In terms of who is innocent, I think Aria’s mom Ella and Hanna’s mom Ashley are on the up-and-up. They’ve at least shown awareness and concern about this anonymous texter and Emily’s parents are barely ever in PA so they have a pretty good alibi.

N.A.T Club – Garrett, Melissa, Ian, Jenna, Jason

Either they were never really good friends or “A” has it out for them too, because two of the five members of the N.A.T Club are dead. While it’s probably true that they were messing with Alison, even on the day she died, I think it’s still pretty unclear as to any of their roles in her death.Pretty Little Liars Jenna

The only things we do know for sure are that all of them were in her bedroom earlier in the afternoon, at some point in the evening Alison was with Ian, she also had a verbal and fake-violent confrontation with Jenna and Garrett, and that Jason doesn’t have any memory of that night. We also know that Melissa was the Black Swan in the second season finale “unmAsked” (2×25) but that hasn’t really gone anywhere if I recall correctly.

Jenna is an interesting wildcard though. She was blind when Alison was killed so I don’t think she did it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that she is on the “A” team. After all, she loves Toby and hates all of the Liars.

Suspicious Activity – Ezra, Wren, Noel Kahn, and Lucas

Sketchy behavior and suspect timing has these four characters on this list. They always seem to be lurking or show up conveniently after something big has just gone down.

Personally I think Lucas was one of the two characters trying to push the box containing Aria off the moving train in “This is a Dark Ride” (3×13). I suppose we will just have to wait and see if he has any visible wounds on his hands to confirm that guess. We do know that Alison made his life miserable and was friendly with Mona though.

Others – Mike, Caleb, Cece, Holden, Paige

Aria’s brother Mike has barely been around this season so he is looking less and less guilty as time goes by. Cece has likewise been a mostly peripheral player.

Caleb and Holden weren’t even in Rosewood when everything with “A” started, so for now I am going to hold onto hope that Caleb is as nice as he seems.

Paige is another wildcard as she is a bit aggressive and on occasion violent. Plus, in the episode “Single Fright Female” (3×11), Pretty Little Liars revealed that she was also ‘tortured’ by Alison on a regular basis. But Mona and Toby were initially trying to set her up to take the fall for Maya’s murder and she came to Spencer’s rescue when a masked party go-er was attacking her on the train during “This is a Dark Ride” (3×13). That is why she is on the innocent until more guilty-looking list.

Alison’s Twin?

I wrote about this outlandish theory in my last PLL suspect list, but it still hasn’t been proven wrong so I figured it was worth mentioning again.Pretty Little Liars Alison Twin

Not only does Alison tell a ‘scary’ story about twin girls, one of whom is locked away in a mental hospital in “The First Secret” (2×13), but there is also a picture hanging on the wall of Alison’s bedroom that shows two girls and Jason.

I know, the picture itself isn’t exactly convincing, but at the bottom of the photo is an inscription that apparently says something along the lines of ‘double the laughter and double the trouble with twins’ – so there’s that…

Dead – Ian, Maya, Nate and Garrett

And last but not least are the people we can for sure cross off of this list.

Ian and Garrett presumably died at the hands of “A”, or a member of the “A” team for that matter.

Maya was killed by her crazy stalker, not-really-cousin, Nate. And he was killed by Caleb and/or Emily in an epic lighthouse* showdown in the Season 3A finale “The Lady Killer” (3×12).

So who else do you think is on the “A” team? Sound off in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your theories.

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*I live in NJ and have actually visited all land-based lighthouses in the State and while there are no lighthouses in either Bayhead or Belmar, they are actually both real beach towns.

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An Awesome Firefly Serenity Ornament

An Awesome Firefly Serenity Ornament

For as much as I love TV, I typically try to refrain from collecting collectibles. Besides the numerous DVD sets, I’ve only got a replica Angel puppet doll from “Smile Time” (5×14), a Buffy lego-like character, a couple of TV show posters, and a replica monkey bookend from Wonderfalls. But lately I’ve been on the lookout for any cool Christmas tree ornaments. After all, it’s a useful collectible item that doesn’t take up space year round.Firefly Serenity Ornament

Perhaps I was being a bit picky, but I was having a hard time finding something worthy of going on the Christmas tree. I didn’t want an ornament with an actor’s photo on it or a weird character bust. Seriously, isn’t it creepy to hang basically just the head of your favorite character?

But then I found a beautiful Firefly Serenity Christmas ornament on Etsy from ThroughThickandThin. It was exactly what I was looking for!

This hang-able version of Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ beloved spaceship Serenity is made from mirrored acrylic and is about 4.5 inches long from bow to stern. And as you can see from my picture above, it looks pretty damn good on the Christmas tree too. Fellow Browncoats are sure to love the simple nod to the show, but for the uninitiated it’s doesn’t seem out of place either.

Although it’s probably too late to get your own Firefly Serenity ornament in time for Christmas, there’s always next year.

“You buy this ship, treat her proper, she’ll be with you for the rest of your life.” (“Out of Gas” 1×8)

Happy Holidays everyone, keep flying and stay Shiny!

Check out the comments section below for an exclusive discount from ThroughThickandThin!

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XOXO Gossip Girl

XOXO Gossip Girl

After 6 seasons and 121 episodes, Gossip Girl ends its run on the CW tonight (12/17/12) with a 2-hour series finale. And I have to admit that I am really excited, not because I care exactly, but mostly because it’s certainly time to say goodbye.Gossip Girl OMSG Poster

When Gossip Girl started I was a Junior in college and it was a perfect show to pickup after The O.C. ended. Plus, it lent itself to guilty pleasure group viewings. Since leaving my college dorm behind though, Gossip Girl has long been relegated to my DVR and episodes were saved for a rainy day.

I’ve kept up with the series this season, if only to avoid spoilers. When Gossip Girl premiered I was completely intrigued about the identity of the titular character, but soon gave up on the guess work when I realized they weren’t about to reveal-all anytime soon and that it would be better to just go along with the ride.

But since they plan to unmask Gossip Girl tonight, I figured I ought to give one last guess at the mischievous texters identity. So here it goes, I think Gossip Girl is either Dorota or one of Blair’s minions (perhaps Penelope). However, the popular theory I have heard is that its Nelly Yuki, which is a solid guess, why else would the show re-introduce her this season. Although I’ve got to say my favorite screwball theory is that Gossip Girl is Kristen Bell, as Veronica Mars.

Gossip Girl Bids Adieu

And since this is the end and I am in a ‘hooray’ Gossip Girl mood, I figured I might as well share some of my favorite aspects of the show, rather than harp on the series inconsistencies and ill-conceived story lines (that would be a much longer blog). But for now it’s all goodwill and cheer. Gossip Girl Chuck Bass Fashion

One of my favorite running gags in Gossip Girl has been the naming of the rehab clinic after the current CW president. First it was the Ostroff Center, and after the changing of the guard, its now the Pedowitz Center.

I also enjoy the fact that the most badass character on the show wears scarves and bow ties. ‘Bad boys’ sure are different on the Upper East Side. Nonetheless Chuck Bass has still done some pretty terrible and crazy things so I guess the reputation is well earned, wardrobe withstanding.

I can’t say that I listen to the Gossip Girl soundtrack or Spotify playlist, but there has been some great musical choices on this show that really make for some memorable scenes. Most notable to me is the Thanksgiving dinner from season 3 set to Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say”, but I’ve already wrote about that so here’s my other favorite musical moment – albeit it’s a bit more ridiculous:

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Survivor: Philippines – Surprisingly Open & Honest Gameplay

CBS’s Survivor may be in its 25th season, but the iconic reality show is still able to entertain and keep players and viewers guessing when it comes to game play.Survivor Philippines Season 25 Logo

In every season of Survivor there are always a handful of players who approach the game with honesty and integrity in mind. Others make the distinction between the ‘reality show’ and ‘real life’ and do or say whatever they need to make it to the end. And throughout the 24 seasons we’ve seen thus far, both strategies have been rewarded, which is why there isn’t a ‘right’ way to play the game.

But never in all of the seasons of Survivor that I’ve watched,* have I ever seen such an open game in terms of verbal bluntness, honesty, visible alliances, and knowledge of the owners’ of the hidden immunity idol. It’s an interesting way to play the game for sure, and Survivor: Philippines is really benefiting from it.

Outwit Outplay Outlast – Outspoken?

Lisa’s entire play thus far best exemplifies this scattered yet strategic open policy. She’s stayed true to her alliances and when switching she’s put it all out in the open, yet she’s still unreliable in a vote because you have to wonder if she is making decisions based on her head or her heart.CBS Survivor Season 25

And how insane yet mellow was the tribal council (25×9) in which Malcolm and Abi both admitted to having a now not-so-secret Hidden Immunity Idol?

Even in the last episode (25×12) when Carter walked up on Skupin and Malcolm talking about him they freely admitted that he was the topic of conversation and he left so they could carry on.

Mind you, I don’t think this makes the game any easier because honesty doesn’t always translate into niceness (i.e. Abi) and even if you are aware of all of the variables, it doesn’t mean you can control them. Just ask any of the players who were blindsided.

And things are obviously only going to become more complicated as the current controlling alliance of Malcolm, Denise, Lisa, and Skupin is only to the final four. Plus the Hidden Immunity Idol will be out of play and of course the perpetual wildcard that is Abi is still on the island and capable of stirring up trouble.

So yeah, these last few episodes should be a wild ride. Will Malcolm and Denise stick together and make it to the end after surviving the decimation of the Matsing tribe? Will Lisa start playing the game and leave personal connections behind? Will everyone realize that Malcolm has a really good shot of winning if he makes it to the end? Do you think Abi has a ticket to the final three because of her unlikability?

Let me know what you think. Am I the only one who feels that Survivor is still capable of producing an enjoyable season of reality TV?

*Disclaimer: I haven’t seen all 25 seasons of Survivor, but I have seen most of them.

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While We Are On The Topic Of Rebooting 90s TV Shows

With the most recent news that Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel have signed on to revive their roles as Cory and Topanga on Disney’s new Girl Meets World pilot (a Boy Meets World sequel of sorts), I started thinking about other 90s shows that would lend themselves to a reboot or spinoff.

Now Disney isn’t the first network to attempt a sequel, reboot, spinoff, or whatever you want to call it. In 2008, The CW revived FOX’s Beverley Hills 90210, which is still on the air; however, any resemblance or connection to the original has been largely been lost. So I’m going to change things up a bit and turn to 90s Nickelodeon shows for inspiration. I’m sure there are plenty of other Nick kids who would love to revisit some of their favorite characters.

Show: Clarissa Explains It AllClarissa Explains It All

Network: ABC – The network is home to a whole slew of quirky comedies with heart so I would imagine this show would fit in well there.

Premise: Like the Boy Meets World reboot, the proposed Clarissa Explains It All series would include Clarissa’s teenage son or daughter, but like many other current series, the show would provide story lines for both adult and teen characters.

I can’t imagine Clarissa being settled down and all ‘domestic’, perhaps she’s even a single parent just doing her best to navigate adulthood; the show could really cash in on that popular life is perpetually like high school motif. In my mind the show would be tonally similar to Gilmore Girls. Also, thankfully talking directly to the camera is all the rage these days making it very easy to keep with the original show’s central storytelling device.

Show: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

Network: CBS – This show was the closest thing to a procedural you could find on a kid’s network.

Premise: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo might seem like an odd choice for a reboot but I’m also thinking what would be most successful and nothing says multiple seasons like a standard cop/crime/detective show on CBS. Shelby Woo was already an ‘intern’ with the local police department in the Nick series, fast forward a decade or two, and now she’s a full fledged detective. They can also throw some family elements into the mix, like on Blue Bloods or The Good Wife.

Show: Hey DudeHey Dude

Network: MTV –  I’m keeping Hey Dude in the Viacom family, gear it towards teens but remove the PG label.

Premise: In my mind this reboot would become an edgier workplace comedy. I’m only making a loose connection here, but if one of the original characters is back owning/running the ranch, then the show is still free to utilize an ever changing cast of teen characters who are perfect for drama and love triangles. Think Degrassi mixed with Grey’s Anatomy on a Dude Ranch.

What other 90s shows would you like to see get the reboot treatment? Do you think a beloved 90s show will translate to a ratings success today? Should TV networks continue to look back for ideas or should they take more creative chances?

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Happy Thanksgiving – Enjoy Some Turkey & TV

Happy Thanksgiving – Enjoy Some Turkey & TV

Buffy Thanksgiving Panks

Happy Thanksgiving y’all. I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for this year – and no, those things are not TV related (I do have a life outside of the box), but in the spirit of this blog – here’s some entertainment for your turkey filled day.
Continue Reading…

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Fringe: Be A Better Man Than Your Father

Final Season of Fringe

Only six episodes of Fringe remain, which means the story of Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Astrid is quickly coming to a close. Yet I still have no idea how its all going to end (and that’s a good thing).

While the main plot point of this season is that of the Observers and the slow demise of humankind, the real storyline at the core of Fringe has always been the relationship and journey of Peter and Walter Bishop. It was after all, Walter’s scientific meddling and love for his son that pushed him to the end of our world, and into the next.

His actions became the catalyst for the hundreds of fringe events we witnessed over the last five seasons, but as we’ve watched his relationship with Peter grow, it’s hard not to sympathize with his earlier choices. But if we are talking about science here, actions have reactions and ever since the Bishop family reunion it’s been obvious that Peter and Walter’s motives have been irrevocably tied to the events depicted in the episode “Peter” (2×16).

Walter let William Bell alter his mind in order to to take the edge off of his ‘mad genius’ self and Peter has always put others first, most notably when he stepped inside of the machine at the end of season 3 in order to stabilize the dueling universes.

Peter & Walter Bishop – Like Father Like Son?

Even more telling, is how much Peter has lived by the Greek phrase, “Einai kalytero anthropo apo ton patera toy”, which translates to “Be a better man than your father”. In the episode “A New Day In The Old Town” (2×1), Peter explains to Olivia that his mother used to tell him that every night before he went to bed.

And up until the last few episodes I would say Peter has been making good on his mother’s request. But Peter is Walter’s son, and when his daughter Etta is killed by the Observers it doesn’t take long before Peter throws reason out the window and turns to science to exact revenge. In a hauntingly creepy scene Peter brutally removes the tech from a captured Observer and implants it into himself, completely willing to let go of his human side in order to defeat the enemy.

All the meanwhile, Walter fears that he is starting to become more like his old self as his mind straightens itself out, but he truly believes that his family ties to the core group along with Peter’s love will keep him from losing the humanity and compassion that he’s gained.

So here we are, just past the halfway point in the final season with roles reversed. Last Friday’s episode “Five-Twenty-Ten” (5×7) ended with a beautiful yet heartbreaking series of scenes (set to the music of David Bowie) showcasing just how close to full circle we have come. But can Walter prevent Peter from making the same mistakes or is Peter, and all of mankind in this case, doomed to fail?

It certainly will be interesting to see what J.J. Abrams and co. have in store for our favorite father/son duo. While I don’t expect a happy ending, I’d like to see one of these characters complete the epic journey they’ve been on, whether its for redemption or revenge. Fringe bids our universe goodbye with a 2-hour finale on Friday January 18th 2013.

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