Last week I decided to marathon the CW series Nikita – the third remake of a French film with the same name. I had no real reason to marathon the series. No one I know watches it, I’ve been trying to cut down on my CW shows, and while my Dad used to watch La Femme Nikita, I don’t remember anything remarkable about it. Yet for some reason I found myself on Netflix bumping all five discs to the top of my queue hoping to catch up before its second season premier.
With a 22-episode first season, it took me almost the whole week to catch up leaving little time before Friday night’s premier. I have to admit that I not only sped through the series because of the last minute timing, but also because the story and characters had me hooked from the pilot. I’m not going to say that this is exactly high-quality TV, because it’s not but it’s addicting and not afraid to take risks and that counts for something. Nikita also reminded me a lot of Dollhouse and Dark Angel – in a good way. Apparently it’s also very similar to Alias, but since I haven’t gotten around to watching that series yet I can’t say for sure.
To me, the entire series begs the question; does the end justify the means; and I find that to be a fascinating topic to explore.
“Don’t get me wrong I want to stop running, been running my whole life. I want a home, I just want to be able to live with myself when I get there.” – Nikita “Game Change” (2×1)
Many of the main characters, inside and out of the Division are morally gray, neither fulfilling the role of hero or villain. Nikita both kills and saves lives in her revenge mission / mission to right past wrongs. And even Division occasionally takes on jobs that stop terrorists or prevents the production of dangerous weapons. Allegiances and trust are blurry topics on Nikita. Friends often become foes and vice versa as many of the characters sacrifice relationships for missions or their concept of the ‘greater good’.
The biggest example of this theme plays out through the character of Alex. Even though there’s always ‘collateral damage’ in action based TV shows and movies, the audience typically isn’t given the chance to relate to those affected because their story comes to a close with the end credits. On Nikita however, audience members are given a chance to see how decisions and actions have consequences, as Alex is often caught in the middle of fights that really aren’t hers.
From the very beginning I questioned Nikita’s (Maggie Q) motive for allowing Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) to go under cover in Division. If she was so worried about her and wanted better for her, why would she ever let someone join the very program that turned her life upside down and into someone she didn’t want to be. As it was later revealed, Alex did have a personal stake in the defeat of Division, but Nikita was slow to divulge the complete truth behind her parent’s death. In doing so she kind of pushed her down the very path she was hoping to help her avoid – working for Division and being able to take another’s life.
Although she may have broken ties with Nikita, by the end of the first season Alex become entangled in Amanda’s (Melinda Clarke) new plans for Division. While Amanda offers to help her bring down the people who orchestrated her parent’s death, its obvious that Amanda is just as interested in using Alex for her own objectives as Nikita was. But Amanda also wants to return Division to the crime stopping / national security agency it once was, so its not like she’s on team evil and actively recruiting. However, with Oversight more interested than ever in Division, Amanda has even more reason to look out for herself.
Michael (Shane West) also played an active role in Alex’s Division training and overall season one transformation. On one hand he looked out for her, especially after he re-connected with Nikita, but he also sent her on a number of engagements and training exercises that were less than safe because those were his orders. And although Michael may have questioned Division’s motives and tactics he didn’t take an active stand against the organization until he too learned that his wife and daughter were killed in a Division related attack – in which he was actually the target.
Over the course of the season Alex may have become more self-reliant, stronger, and even more ruthless but I very much doubt that she’s either in control or calling her own shots. But does that make her a victim, an unwilling participant, or a pawn in this entire thing? Based on the season two premier, I’d say this is something that will be explored more and I can’t wait.
Over the last couple of years, the number of high school based TV shows I watch has slowly dwindled down from a handful to only one or two. Perhaps its because I’m getting older, or because the TV characters in my shows are too, but that genre just doesn’t suck me in like it used to. Which is fine, everyone’s tastes change over time and its not like I’ve given up on TV, because we all know I’ve found plenty to keep me busy – but I’ve got to say from the first MTV promo for Awkward. I was excited for this show.
After 10 seasons and 217 episodes, Smallville came to an end last night. And all I can say is, “Finally!” When I first began watching the series it was in its third season and I was in high school. A lot’s changed since then, including the quality and/or my tolerance for its terrible dialogue, ridiculous storylines, and increasingly annoying characters. But I’ve stuck with it.
To be honest though, most Smallville episodes were must-see TV for me. Actually, when I first started watching it, the show was on The WB on Wednesday nights right before Angel, which is kind of why I started watching it in the first place. My friend was never home when Smallville was on so I started recording it for her – but because I recorded Angel on the same tape I didn’t want to hand it over. The compromise was that she would come over and I would watch it without much mocking.
It only took a few episodes for me to be hooked though, so I marathoned the first two seasons to catch-up. I’ve since bought the first six seasons on DVD. Of course those now sit on my shelf of regret, next to Dark Angel and a Region 4 Scrubs season 1 set that I can only view on my laptop, after changing some settings.
Once I was in college Smallville moved to Thursday nights, and thankfully we usually didn’t start ‘partying’ until 9 or 10pm so I was still able to watch new episodes live. And then Smallville finally made its way to the Friday night death slot, which thankfully meant it wasn’t on during anything else and I could easily watch it or record it for later.
I even loved the show so much that when I was in Australia I made sure to go to the Supernova Pop Culture Expo, which featured guests stars like John Schneider (Clark Kent’s dad) and Summer Glau from Firefly and Serenity. Now granted I was more excited for the Serenity screening but still, the Smallville stuff was a draw too, plus I was basically out of cash when I decided I needed to go and bought my expo and train ticket anyway.
My friend and I have even been to the ‘Daily Planet’ building. On a cross-Canada road trip we made our friends, who were driving, detour when we were in the Vancouver area to find the building they use in the show. While it didn’t have a giant spinning globe on top, the building was impressive nonetheless and its exterior was featured throughout the remaining episodes.
At some point though, keeping up with the show become a chore. I used to love the characters, except Lana, and even its storylines, which were particularly strong during season openers and finales, but all that slowly vanished. I mean there was always a snarky element to my viewing, after all you can only take a character being conveniently knocked out so as not to remember seeing Clark save the day so many times. And Lana being tramped by a horse in the season three episode “Shattered” is still one of my all-time ridiculous highlights, but how long can you really enjoy spending your time on something you don’t actually like anymore?
Apparently in my case a lot, but I don’t typically give up on TV. After all, I watched all eight seasons of Charmed and watched ER until the end. What’s weird about Smallville though is that I can’t even enjoy older episodes because they are just as cringe worthy. But, if for instance I caught an older episode of ER on TNT, it was still awesome and had George Clooney.
Smallville is also different from a lot of series in that we all know how it ends. The whole point of watching a show about a young Clark Kent is getting the chance to see his journey towards becoming Superman. But when the journey takes like 10 years, you can’t blame someone for getting impatient. Storylines continually went back to Clark’s self doubt or disinterest in his destiny all while other plot lines weaved more and more convoluted back stories and mythologies, which made episodes feel like we were taking one step forward and two steps back.
But despite all its flaws and storylines resulting from meteor rocks and memory wipes I still looked forward to watching the show come to a close with my friend, who I blame for all of my lost time. And when all was said and done, Smallville ended the same way the series has always been – with some really nice moments, like Chloe living happily ever after and Michael Rosenbaum reprising his role as Lex Luther … and some equally infuriating ones, since we never really got to see a good shot of Tom Welling as Clark Kent in his Superman suit.
At least he finally learned to fly though.
Here we go again; for cable channels April is just another month during their year-round programming, but for broadcast networks April is a last ditch effort to launch new shows when others have failed. Here are four shows that are either returning or premiering that may end up taking some more of your free time. Enjoy.
AMC, best known for shows like Mad Men and The Walking Dead is now diving into the crime genre with their new show The Killing, which premiers this Sunday April 3rd at 9pm. The show will kick off with a two-hour premier event and revolves around the investigation of the murder of Rosie Larsen, a teenager from Seattle. The show is actually based on a Danish series, but given AMC’s recent track record of quality ‘original’ programs, I’m pretty interested. Plus a few other notable series revolved around solving the murder of a young girl like Veronica Mars and Twin Peaks.
And of course there’s Friday Night Lights, which begins its fifth and final season run on NBC on Friday April 15th at 8pm. For anyone who hasn’t seen this show, you’re missing out. Offering plenty of ecstatic and equally gut-wrenching moments, with everything in between, this show is about so much more than football. I know I always rave about the works of Whedon, but I also need to take a second and say that Jason Katims is a genius too. This is another show where the characters, soundtrack, and quiet moments really elevate the series beyond a typical TV show. I’m not suggesting skipping the earlier seasons to quickly catch-up but here’s a music video that does a pretty good job of summing up season four, well the football parts anyway.
America’s Best Dance Crew is back too! The show returns to the TV schedule on April 7th at 10pm on MTV – More crews, more Mario Lopez, and more of Lil Mama giving non-sensical speeches. Also season six promises to bring us even more popular music from the likes of Rihanna, Bieber, The Black Eyed Peas, and Ke$ha. I know I for one can’t wait to hear ABDC’s remixed versions of popular Black Eyed Peas songs. (That’s sarcasm for anyone who doesn’t know me.)
On April 13th, Happy Endings premiers on ABC. The new comedy will join their Wednesday night comedy block at the 10 o’clock hour. However, the premier is slated for a 9:30pm showing, right after a presumably new episode of Modern Family. I’m pretty particular when it comes to comedies but I think I’ll give this one a shot. Mostly because I don’t watch anything else during that time but also because one of the actors, Eliza Coupe, rocked on the last two seasons of Scrubs as Dr. Mahoney. Plus the preview looks amusing enough.
[For an updated season 2 Pretty Little Liars suspect list click here.]
Yes I watch Pretty Little Liars. I think I’ve already established I watch a wide range of TV and have very little shame when it comes to admitting my TV habit. Now that I’ve gotten that quick disclaimer out of the way, onto the suspects.
Next week is the spring finale of Pretty Little Liars and although I would love it if they could finally reveal the identity of ‘A’ I’m doubting that’s actually going to happen.
Either way, I’ve been Veronica Mars-ing my way through the series because I am determined to figure it out before the show tells us, I’ve even stayed away from spoilers. My biggest fear is that ‘A’ will be a character never introduced until the reveal, which would be the ultimate cheat. But since I’m playing along here’s my list of possible ‘A’s.
- Mona – I’m not to sure if she’s actually smart enough to pull everything off but she’s always around and stuck on the outside, which makes me wonder if she killed Alison to move up in the popularity ranks. Then when Aria returned and she still found herself left out of the ‘popular’ group she concocted ‘A’ to screw with them all.
- Ezra – Doesn’t actually seem to fit the bill but he also seems way too nice. Although he is having an affair with a student so maybe he’s actually not all that nice.
- Melissa & Ian – Perhaps ‘A’ is a two person job. Also a lot of the creepier ‘A’ moments have seemed to occur in the Hastings house and Spencer is the current favorite target.
- Lucas – He’s smart and has a pretty good reason to hate Alison.
- Jenna – A red herring, I don’t actually believe its her but I have to wonder if its one of her family members who is exacting revenge on the girls that caused her blindness. Toby may also have been a target if someone in the family believed he was forcing himself on Jenna rather than the other way around.
The other clues we’ve been privy to also make me kind of think ‘A’ is a female student but I could be way off base with that profiling and cleary can’t think of many candidates that fit that desciption besides Mona.
What do you think? Are there any other obvious suspects I am missing?
Although if you’ve read the books and actually know, please don’t spill the beans and spoil the mystery for everyone.
A while back I found an impressive TV theme song medley video on YouTube; I recently came across it again and thought I should share it. After all, sharing is caring. The video is a mash-up of popular TV theme songs – all performed by one guy. Check it out:
So yeah the video is pretty awesome, but it also makes me think more about the importance and function of a TV show’s theme song and opening credit sequence. I really find it a shame that so many new shows are going the way of boring title cards. There’s nothing like rocking out, singing along, or geeking out to a show’s opening.
Take for example a show like Fringe. It’s opening credit sequence does much more than display names of the cast and crew; it also lets viewers know which universe or decade the episode is taking place in. I am especially fond of their 1980s version:
Likewise, each episode of Jericho cleverly conveyed clues about a character or current plot via Morse code:
And any time I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer I can’t help but launch into an air drumming session to my now-favorite Nerf Herder’s song:
Other fun or unique openings I’ve come across include Bill Lawrence perpetually apologizing for Cougar Town‘s name and Community‘s altered dungeons & dragons version as well as Abed’s Christmas intro. I also really love the look and sound of the Friday Night Lights opening sequence. I suppose I should also make some mention of The Simpsons since they’ve managed to come up with tons of new ways to get everyone on the couch each week, a pretty commendable feat even if you aren’t a fan of the show.
What are other top theme songs and openings for past and present shows?
I wouldn’t qualify myself as a reality TV junkie but I watch my fair share of shows that have no redeeming value, showcase incredibly talented people, or simply pit people against each other for a large cash prize. Although I’ve been a dedicated follower of MTV’s Road Rules and subsequent Real World / Road Rules Challenges I much prefer skilled competition based reality shows like Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance. Perhaps that is why I’ve recently become so intrigued with SyFy’s new reality show Face Off.
Face Off pits special effects make-up artists against each other in a series of weekly challenges. Although the show has only aired four episodes I’m already blown away with the amount of talent and creativity showcased. The competitors really have to be skilled in a number of mediums and materials. They don’t just create masks or faces – they develop entire characters with back-stories along with attire and props. Like other similar shows, Face Off offers drama and bickery but also some actual teamwork too. Another aspect of the show I like is that the winner of the weekly challenge gets to give their two cents about who, of the bottom three, should go home. I think their input is generally insightful, if not spiteful because the judges don’t get to see what really goes on in the workroom.
Season 22 of Survivor premiered last week. Survivor has always been a show I’ve watched here and there. If I start watching a season I generally will follow through with it, but I typically don’t feel compelled to watch every single season. I find most seasons boring until the merge anyway, but I’m particularly unexcited by this new season. The Redemption Island twist sounds like a bad RW/RR Challenge idea and I could care less about the fake Russell versus Boston Rob feud. Honestly I don’t think Boston Rob gives a damn about Russell and I hate that this is Russell’s third time playing in the last four seasons. Give it up Probst; he’s never going to win the jury vote. I mean are they going to keep letting him play until he wins?
For those looking for another enjoyable yet mindless reality show, I totally recommend Winter Wipeout. Not that I am encouraging people to watch something other than Community at the 8pm hour on Thursday night, but Wipeout is pretty hilarious if you can get past the annoying commentary. DVR it or catch up on Hulu because Wipeout features really ridiculous people getting smashed, whacked, and tossed all over the place. It’s fantastic. Also the new winter course still features the big red balls and a lot of other insane obstacles.
Now typically, as a TV addict, I prefer to avoid commercials at all costs with the one exception of the Super Bowl. Expensively produced, over-hyped, and all-new, these commercials can either be awesomely enjoyable and creative or gratingly annoying and downright offensive. Last night’s new crop of commercials seemed to be mostly underwhelming, however. Although that still beats last years overwhelming anti-female message.
I can’t deny that a few of the commercials were good though. Many viewers must feel similarly since there appears to be a general consensus among viewers. Go to any website with Super Bowl coverage and I’m pretty sure they’ll make mention of the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot and the Doritos Dog or the Bridgestone Beaver Carma commercial.
While these were both cute and funny, my favorite was the NFL commercial. I loved last years spot with its feel good triumphant vibe and catchy Arcade Fire song but this years was also surprisingly creative with a montage of popular sitcom characters getting ready for the big game. Shows ranging from Brady Bunch and Happy Days to Full House and Family Matters to Glee and Family Guy were all fully represented and decked out in their city’s team paraphernalia.
Any TV watcher who happens to enjoy football or football fan who likes TV, should get a kick out of this commercial.
To check out and rate the other 2011 Super Bowl commercials go to Hulu.com. For all the FOX previews, some of which were actually pretty hilarious click here. Televisionwithoutpity.com also discusses the commercials and movie trailers and for in depth analysis, statistics, and more viewing you can go to adage.com.