Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 02 - Most underrated film

I'm going to go with Assassins (1995).  It's probably not the most underrated film ever, but it's one I like that a lot of people dismiss as lame.  Unlike many of Sly's mid-90s movies, it's not particularly cheesy or clunky -- instead, it's a slick, character-driven action movie.  It's no Bourne Identity, true, but it's fun in a non-deep way.

Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone)
Assassins stars Sylvester Stallone, Julianne Moore, and Antonio Banderas.  I'm fond of all three of those actors, so the cast alone pretty well ensures I'd enjoy the movie.  Throw in some guns, a hint of romance, and some nice cat-and-mouse action, and I'm hooked.  The plot revolves around Robert Rath (Stallone), the best assassin-for-hire in the business.  Another assassin, Miguel Bain (Banderas), wants to take down Rath and assume his spot at the top of the list.  He's trying to kill Electra (Moore), a prettier-than-most computer geek who does freelance surveillance work and loves her cat.  Rath stops Bain from killing Electra, and the two of them go on the run as he tries to figure out how to take down Bain.

Electra (Julianne Moore)
Sure, the character names are dorky.  Sure, it's a little hard to worry that Stallone could ever be bested at anything, even by the scenery-chewing Banderas.  Assassins is a fun ride -- you can see all three stars are enjoying themselves, and it's hard not to enjoy things right along with them.

Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas)
I think what I like best about this movie is how it manages to dodge so many cliches.  Bain and Rath spar with words and wits, not fists.  Rath is a nice assassin... to a point.  Electra creepily keeps tabs on all the other people in her apartment building... and takes a motherly interest in their mundane lives.  Bain isn't just a kooky guy trying to take down the top dog... he's actually good at being an assassin, arguably as good as Rath.  And Rath and Electra don't end up in bed together -- in fact, one of my favorite scenes involves the two of them sharing a hotel room; Rath gallantly goes to sleep on the floor without a fuss. 

So, while Assassins isn't cinematic genius, it's also not a clunker.  Anyway, I enjoy it.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 01 - Favorite foreign film

Well, if we're not counting British movies, but only movies in a foreign language, then it's Life is Beautiful (1997).

In case you've never heard of this film, it's about a Jewish Italian who uses his wit and quirky humor to woo the love of his life ("Buon giorno, Principessa!"), then uses those same resources to help his son survive life in a Nazi concentration camp.  It's an amazing story, one that never fails to move me to both laughter and tears.

Nicoletta Braschi, Roberto Benigni, Giorgio Cantarini

I first saw Life is Beautiful while on tour with my college choir in May of 2000.  The various choir members were being housed by members of the congregation where we'd done a concert.  My friend Pebbles and I stayed with a young single mom and her two little boys, who were maybe seven and nine.  Certainly under ten.  The mom stopped on the way to her home to rent the video, and we watched it with her and her kids during supper.  Although the movie was in Italian with English subtitles, those two little boys were enthralled -- their mom said they had seen it several times and reacted the same way every time.  They were as wonderful to watch as the movie.

I can't watch Life is Beautiful very often -- it's too poignant.  Like a rich fudge or port wine, it's better as a once-in-a-great-while treat.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Movie Meme Lineup

As usual, when I finish NaNoWriMo (yes, I won; no, my novel's not finished), I have taken a small break from the computer.  Okay, a two-week break.  But I'm getting back into my usual routines, and I think I'm ready to begin on my next blog meme.  Which is all about movies.  Yippee!  Here's the lineup of topics:

Day 01 - Favorite foreign film
Day 02 - Most underrated film
Day 03 - A film that makes you happy
Day 04 - A film that makes you sad
Day 05 - Favorite love story in a film
Day 06 - Favorite actor/actress
Day 07 - The best plot twist/ending
Day 08 - The best opening/closing credits
Day 09 - The best soundtrack/score to a film
Day 10 - Favorite classic film
Day 11 - A film that you hate
Day 12 - A film that changed your opinion about something
Day 13 - A guilty pleasure
Day 14 - A film that you used to love but now hate
Day 15 - Favorite film sequel
Day 16 - Film character you relate to the most
Day 17 - Favorite film quote
Day 18 - A film that you wish more people had seen
Day 19 - The most hilarious film you've seen
Day 20 - A film you wish someone would make
Day 21 - Favorite film from your favorite actor/actress
Day 22 - Favorite documentary
Day 23 - Favorite animated film
Day 24 - Favorite film based on a book/comic/etc.
Day 25 - Favorite film villain
Day 26 - A film that you love but everyone else hates
Day 27 - A film you wish you had seen in theaters
Day 28 - Favorite film from your favorite director
Day 29 - Favorite film from your childhood
Day 30 - Your favorite film of all time

Yes, DKoren did this on Sidewalk Crossings.  Her answers are here :-)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Day 30 - Saddest character death

As in, the one that makes me saddest?  Hmm.  Probably Grady Long.

This is the part where most of you say, "Who?"  And justifiably so, because he's not a regular on any show.  I don't even know who played him, because his only appearance is so brief, it's uncredited.

Grady Long is the soldier who dies at the beginning of "Far From the Brave," one of my favorite episodes of (you guessed it) Combat!  Grady Long was never in any previous episodes, and he's only in about three minutes of that one.  We never see his face clearly.  He has no lines.  All he does is walk up a hill, firing a B.A.R. at an enemy machine gun nest, and get killed in the process.

But the rest of the episode revolves around him, around his squadmates processing his death, which has sent Saunders -- yes, Saunders! -- reeling.  Saunders, who has emotional armor six inches thick, is so affected by Grady Long's death that he withdraws within himself so deeply it seems for a while he may never come out again.  And, in a sense, he doesn't.  In the eps following "Far From the Brave," Saunders is a different character from the one before.  He's more serious, he's more focused, and he's more empathetic than he was previously.  I don't know if this was intentional on the part of the writers and directors, if it was a conscious choice Vic Morrow made, or if it happened organically, but the difference is there whatever the reason.

Fans disagree a lot about Grady Long.  How long he and Saunders had known each other, what sort of man he was -- it's all very debatable because none of that is established canonically.  I myself have written and co-written several stories involving him, and I'm currently revising a story that's my take on how he and Saunders met.

But why is Grady's death the one that makes me saddest?  Because of how sad it makes my beloved Saunders, of course.

Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) and Lt. Hanley (Rick Jason)
 Here ends the TV meme.  Next up:  movies!

And doggone if this post hasn't made me want to finish revising that fanfic story!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 29 - Current TV show obsession

I'm actually kind of between obsessions right now.  True obsessions, I mean.  I was obsessed with Lost for over a year, but now that I've seen all six seasons, my obsession is kind of waning.  I'm still watching my current TV shows, Bones and NCIS, but neither of them is an obsession.  And I've been dedicated to Combat! long enough that it's not really an obsession anymore either, at least, not all the time ;-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 28 - First TV show obsession

Without a doubt, classic Star Trek.  My brother and I discovered the show when I was about 13 and he was 8 or 9, and I'm not sure "obsession" is a strong enough word to describe our relationship with the show.  We had plastic figures of the major characters, and we went through phases where we played with nothing else for weeks on end.  We would have plot lines that lasted for days, we created a host of original characters that periodically joined them for adventures, and we created fantastic sets of the bridge, sickbay, the transporter room, and more.  Sometimes setting up to play Star Trek took up almost our whole pre-lunch half-hour of playtime, and then we'd have to wait until we'd finished doing our schoolwork to get any real adventuring in.

Yes, I played with action figures at the age of 14.  With my younger brother.  Matter of fact, we played with them until I went to college, and when I'd come home on breaks, we'd play with them some more.  Not just Star Trek, but Star Wars, X-Men, Batman, GI Joes, and several other worlds.  Sometimes we did cross-overs between different universes.  It was awesome.

Anyway, we got into Star Trek when my dad ran across one of the movies on TV or something, and my brother saw a slice of it and pretty much fell under Spock's spell.  I'm not sure if it was Spock's intelligence or logic or what, but Johnnycake decided then and there that Spock was the coolest guy ever.  Kind of instant hero-worship, as I recall.  Me, I was less interested (I'm still not a big fan of the movies).  But Johnnycake found this set of action figures and wanted to get them, only he didn't have the cash to buy the whole set.

So he convinced me to go halvsies by agreeing to let me be the captain (who, to my perpetual embarrassment, I initially thought was named Captain Curt) if he could be Spock.  Ever power-hungry, I agreed.  We bought the figures, then set about learning about their universe.  Our library had six episodes of the show on VHS, all from season 3, and those were the basis of our understanding of the Star Trek world for several years.  Well, those, plus a handful of episodes we taped off cable while at our grandparents' house, and a couple more I bought on VHS.  Later, the same TV channel that introduced us to Combat! began showing Star Trek, and we got to know the show much better.

We ended up with Star Trek calendars, toy phasers and communicators, oodles of action figures, books about the show... it was probably the biggest obsession of my teen years.  Yes, I loved it much more than Combat! at the time, though over the years my interest has waned somewhat.  But I still enjoy the show and watch an ep every now and then.  And I still have my action figures.

Captain Kirk is hands-down my favorite character.  Dear, ingenious, rash, skirt-chasing, swashbuckling Jim Kirk.

If you want to know what I thought of the recent movie reboot of the series, here's my blog post on that topic.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 27 - Best pilot episode

I have been stuck on this prompt for weeks.  The pilots of so many of the my favorite shows rock, but at the same time, most of them aren't nearly as good as later episodes, so they're not particularly dear to my heart. 

I guess I'm gonna have to go with "Pilot," the Lost pilot.  It's mesmerizing and memorable, a plane wreck you can't look away from.  And it includes that show-defining quote from Charlie:  "Guys, where are we?"

In fact, as soon as Nanowrimo ends, I'm planning to rewatch the pilot while it's still available for free here on

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 26 - What the...? Season finale

I'm gonna go with the finale of season 3 of Lost, "Through the Looking Glass."  When I realized that the scenes in LA were flash-forwards, not flash-backs, and that some people had actually gotten off the island, I nearly flipped my lid.
Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Jack (Matthew Fox)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Day 25 - A show you plan on watching (old or new)

Nathan Fillion's current show, Castle.  The library has the first season, so right now my plan for a post-NaNoWriMo party is me getting the first couple discs and vegging during naptime on multiple, successive afternoons.

He plays a writer who solves crimes -- what's not to love?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Day 24 - Best quote

This isn't the best quote ever, or even my favorite quote.  But it's probably the one that gets used the most in our household right now.  It's from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988) which is technically a TV movie, but hey, it's part of the Grenada Television series, so I say it counts. 

Watson has at last discovered Holmes living on the moor, and Holmes invites him into his little hidey hole, then offers him some stew that a local woman sells him every day.

Watson:  "It's quite disgusting, Holmes."
Holmes:  "Yes.  Well, it's better when it's hot."

Holmes then makes the most apologetic smile you'll ever see on his stern face.

I love the moment, and we use either or both parts of that quote all the time around here.

Holmes (Jeremy Brett) and Watson (Edward Hardwicke)

We Interrupt This Meme to Bring You...


Yes, it's that time of year again.  And I'm participating again.  You can see my profile here, read excerpts of my novel when I post them, see how far I've gotten (and how far I have to go yet), etc.  I'm writing a novel tentatively titled Swapped, though I'll probably change that.  It's about a young lit prof whose apartment burns down, so she moves in with a colleague, but then she starts falling for her new housemate's boyfriend, and her own boyfriend starts getting interested in her housemate...

I'll try to finish up this meme by the end of November, though.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Day 23 - Most annoying character

This would be Glory (Clare Kramer), the main villian from season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Pretty much everything about her annoys me, from her eyes to her attitude to her voice to her clothes, and everything else.  Despite there being some pretty good stories in season 5, some great subplots that don't directly involve Glory, I kinda avoid most of the season because I just can't stand her.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 22 - Favorite series finale

This is a toughie.  A lot of my favorite shows are older and don't have finales.  They just end with an ordinary episode.  That really leaves me about five shows to choose from:  Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Five Mile Creek, Lost, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.  Hmm.

I do love the finales for Angel and Buffy.  They sum up the shows, provide closure for a lot of characters, pull together a lot of plot strings... all things finales should do.  I know a lot of people didn't like the open ending of Angel, since it didn't tell you if the last few characters left standing would survive the seemingly insurmountable odds facing them or not.  But Angel on a whole was about fighting the good fight, not about winning.  So whether they survived or not is kind of moot.  (An added plus of the ambiguous ending is that it leaves lots of room for fanfic!  The only fully Angel-verse story I've written so far, "Searching," deals with the aftermath of the finale.)

I barely remember the finale for Dr. Quinn.  I think it had something to do with Colleen deciding not to go to medical school, but marry Andrew instead.  Clearly, as a finale, it didn't impact me enough to be a favorite.

Then there's Lost.  I liked the finale.  It brought a lot of character-arc closure, my Sawyer ended up happy, and it made the Sideways world make sense.  To me, anyway.  But I'm not sure I loved it.  (Though I do adore that one scene I blogged about earlier.)

So I guess that means that the series finale of Five Mile Creek is my favorite.  It's called "America," and in it, Con and Kate finally get married, and they set off for America, promising to send for Sam as soon as they're settled.  It's a neat ending, bringing some characters full circle and leaving everyone with a new adventure before them.  It's full of joy and hope, but also a little sadness as the happy Five Mile family splits apart somewhat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 21 - Favorite ship

I didn't realize there were enough shows that involve ships for this to be a category, but hey.  My favorite ship on a TV show is definitely the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.  The original ship from the original series.  She's sleek, elegant, roomy, and iconic.  I've spent more hours imagining myself aboard her than any other vessel.  I even put together a model of her back in high school, which I still have.  My paint job didn't turn out quite as nicely as this one, but you get the idea.
Oh, and if anyone wanted to buy me one of these as a gift, I would not complain!  Who knew the Enterprise could be beautiful AND tasty?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 20 - Favorite kiss

Well, I'm not sure this is my favorite kiss ever, but it's eclipsed pretty much all other kisses when it comes to sheer hotness factor.  I'm not a Skate fan anymore -- in the last couple seasons of Lost I became a definite Sawliet girl.  But this kiss?  Holy cow.  I'm amazed they actually showed it on network television.  In fact, you might not want to watch it -- it might cause your monitor to melt.  

That's from the season 1 ep "Confidence Man."  Hmm.  Maybe I should rewatch season 1 now that I've seen the whole series.  Oooooh, tempting!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 19 - Best TV show cast

Oh dear.  I'm not sure I can answer this.  I'm so very fond of the casts of so many shows.  Because I'm so character-oriented, I tend to like or dislike a show based on its characters and casting.  If I find the characters miscast, I don't like the show much.  And how do I decide which cast is best?  Best actors?  Best-looking?  Best mix of different types?  I don't know.


Maybe I'll just go with one of the biggest TV show casts ever:  Lost.  They're all excellently cast -- I can't think of a single character I'd rather see a different actor play.  They're an incredible mix of talented people, and while they may not be my favorite cast, they're definitely awesome.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 18 - Favorite title sequence

I love the opening credits for A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-02).  They're different every episode, with snazzy animation and music to fit that ep's theme.  Here are a couple examples:

They set the tone so nicely for the feel of the whole series, as well as cluing you in to what the particular ep will involve.  While the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout span several decades, the series is set solidly in the 1950s, which is brilliant because it lets them give the series a distinctive, retro feel with fun costumes, cars, and furnishings.  And opening credits.

I love this series -- Cowboy has given me both seasons, and they're completely awesome.  Maury Chaykin makes a superb Nero Wolfe, and Timothy Hutton seems to have been born to play Archie Goodwin.  Hutton also directed and produced several eps.  And the rest of the cast rocks too, including the ensemble players.  Regular characters like Inspector Cramer, Fritz Brenner, and Saul Panzer are always played by the same actors, but the only-in-this-story characters get played by a pretty consistent set of actors, rather like a local playhouse's acting troupe.  Seeing the same faces in different roles felt a bit disconcerting to me at first, but once I got into the groove of the idea, it was fun to see who would pop up in what role next.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 17 - Favorite mini series

The Blue and the Gray (1982).  This is another one I grew up with -- my parents rented it several times when I was a kid, and for years, whenever I thought or read about the American Civil War, images from this series were the first to come to my mind.  Although it's pretty long and would take my family a couple days to get through, I always wanted to watch just a little more.

The Blue and the Gray centers around a young artist named John Geyser (John Hammond), who grows up on a Virginia farm along with three brothers and one sister.  John leaves home to work as an artistic correspondent for his uncle's newspaper in the North, where he gets to attend the trial and execution of John Brown (Sterling Hayden).  While he's home on a visit, one of his friends, a former slave named Jonathan Henry (Paul Winfield), is lynched for harboring runaway slaves.  John Geyser renounces his Southern ties, breaks with his parents (Lloyd Bridges and Colleen Dewhurst), and leaves home for good.

John Geyser and Jonas Steele
John keeps doing dispatch art for his uncle, and keeps meeting up with my favorite character, a mysterious man named Jonas Steele (Stacy Keach).  Jonas is in the Secret Service, sorta.  As the Civil War erupts, John's brothers enlist in the Confederate Army, while the cousins he now lives with enlist in the Union Army.  John falls in love with a lovely nurse named Kathy (Kathleen Beller), whom he rescues during the first battle of Manassas.  Kathy's dad is a senator (Robert Vaughn) who doesn't think John's a suitable match for his daughter, but of course that doesn't really bother John and Kathy, being very modern young people.  Meanwhile, Jonas Steele falls in love with John's cousin Mary (Julia Duffy).

Gregory Peck as Abraham Lincoln
The war rages on around John and Jonas, various other characters die, and before the war ends, both John and Jonas go a little crazy in their own ways, but survive.  And John gets to draw the portrait of President Lincoln (Gregory Peck, to me the best Lincoln ever).  The war ends, and John eventually reconciles with what's left of his family.

Andrew V. McLaglen directed the whole miniseries.  According to, it was originally more than 6 hours long, but all you can get on DVD is a recut version that's about 5 hours long.  I saw it many times on VHS, and I honestly can't tell what they cut out, and, so either it was recut for VHS also, or what they cut out was entirely unmemorable.  If you like Civil War movies, family dramas, and epics that follow around a couple characters and watch them change (what Deb Koren calls my Rambley Movies), you'll dig it.  I like it better than North & South -- it's less soap-opera-esque, for one thing And Stacy Keach more than makes up for the absence of Patrick Swayze, in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 16 - Your guilty pleasure show


Definitely Friends.  It makes me laugh, I enjoy it, but whenever I watch it, I feel like I'm sneaking candy on the sly.  Maybe it's because it does get into some naughty subject matter at times, or because there's no "nutritional value" to it -- it's pretty much fluff.  But Joey and Phoebe tickle me to no end, and I enjoy the reruns whenever I stumble across them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 15 - Favorite female character

This is even tougher than yesterday's subject.  Because while I'm fond of many female characters, I don't get as attached to them as I do to male characters.  Plus, a lot of the shows I love don't even have regular female characters.  So I could blog about Kaylee Frye, or Willow Rosenberg, or Kate Austin, or Abby Sciuto, or Angela Montenegro, or Kate Wallace, or Yeoman Janice Rand... but I think I'll blog about the one female character that I want to be more like.  And that would be Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) from The Big Valley.

Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley
Victoria is one classy lady.  Whether she's making a shrewd business deal, being kidnapped by outlaws, or reminding one of her children of what it means to be a Barkley, she never loses her dignity and integrity.  She's gutsy, determined, and intelligent.  And she rules the Barkley universe with a suede-gloved fist.

Heath (Lee Majors) and Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck)
But I love her most for her treatment of Heath, her husband Tom's illegitimate son and my favorite character on the show.  When Heath showed up in the pilot episode, claiming he's got a right to the Barkley fortune, she doesn't ignore him, she doesn't order him off the property, and most importantly, she never blames him for her husband's indiscretion.  Once she establishes the validity of his claims, she welcomes him into the family, treats him as one of her own children, and insists everyone else do the same. And she doesn't try to mother Heath -- after all, he had his own mother, even if he never knew his father.  Instead, she befriends him, which is precisely what he needs.

The Barkleys
Plus, Victoria can ride and shoot with the best of them, she helped her husband Tom carve an empire out of the wilderness, and she never lets anyone ramrod her (or anyone else while she's around, either).  Now that's my kind of heroine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 14 - Favorite male character

How am I supposed to choose one favorite male character?  I love so many!  Saunders, Angel, Sawyer, Captain Kirk, Mal Reynolds, Heath Barkley, Josh Randall, Archie Goodwin, Matthew Cooper, Cheyenne Bodie, Con Madigan, Leroy Jethro Gibbs... I have to choose one?

All right, fine.  If I had to choose one male character to spend the rest of my life watching, thinking about, and writing about, I expect it'd be Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) from Combat!  No surprise there, I'm sure.  And since I've already blogged about him quite a bit here and here, I'll just post some of my favorite photos of him today.  They're worth several thousand words anyway.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 13 - Favorite childhood show

As a kid, there was only one show we watched on a routine basis, and it was already done airing and out on VHS.  In fact, it's the first show I saw every episode of.  That show is Five Mile Creek.  It's a little-known show that ran for three seasons on the Disney Channel from 1983 to 1985.  When I was a kid growing up in MI, we would watch two episodes every week, rented from the local video store.  I think we made it through all 39 episodes three or four times.

Five Mile Creek is loosely adapted from a Louis L'Amour book, The Cherokee Trail.  Only it's set in the Australian outback, not the American west.  It begins when an American named Maggie Scott (Louise Caire Clark) and her young daughter Hannah (Priscilla Weems) arrive in Australia in search of their husband/father, Adam Scott (Jonathan Frakes), who's already there hunting for gold.  He's supposed to meet up with them at the port, but he never does, so Maggie and Hannah find a temporary haven with Kate Wallace (Liz Burch).  Kate's just starting up a way station for the fledgling coach line, the Australian Express.  Kate asks Maggie to stay and help out until Adam comes to get her, as Kate's only help at the way station is a somewhat disreputable Irishman, Paddy Malone (Michael Caton).

Con and Jack driving a coach.
 The Australian Express is run by an Aussie named Jack Taylor (Rod Mullinar) and another Yank who came on the same ship as Maggie and Hannah.  His name is Conway Madigan (Jay Kerr), and he's an honest-to-goodness Texas cowboy and one of my earliest crushes.  These are the main characters, along with an orphan named Sam (Martin Lewis) and an old muleskinner pal of Con's named Ben Jones (Gus Mercurio) who join us later.  Eventually, in the later episodes, we also meet up with a former Pony Express rider named Matt Buckland (Shannon Presby) and a spunky sheepherder named Annie (a young and gorgeous Nicole Kidman).  And I can't forget Charlie Withers (Peter Carroll), the banker who grudgingly loans the Australian Express its start-up money.

Jay Kerr as Con Madigan
They encounter bush rangers, they fall in and out of love, they deal with all kinds of trials and tribulations, and they form a make-shift family in the process.  All that, with horses, a bit of gun play now and then (generally involving Con Madigan), and completely gorgeous scenery.  Because my favorite movie since I was 2 has been The Man from Snowy River, which is also set and filmed in Australia, I was primed to love this show, and love it I do.  I own the first season on DVD, and fervently wish Disney would release the other two seasons.  Meanwhile, I'm acquiring the VHS tapes of the remaining eps.

Nicole Kidman as Annie
Cowboy asked me why it's called Five Mile Creek.  It's because the way station is situated next to a creek called Five Mile Creek.  One can assume it is five miles long, or five miles from somewhere.  They never really explain, at least not that I can recall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 12 - An episode you've watched more than 5 times

It's a good thing I'm not supposed to list every episode I've watched more than 5 times, or we'd be here all winter.  But instead of writing about just one ep, I'm going to write about three:  the first three episodes of The Lone Ranger.

When we were kids, The Lone Ranger movie was one of our favorites to get from the library when we had a cold or some other reason to rent videos.  We watched it a lot.  I still have most of the dialog memorized.  So for Christmas one year, Mom and Dad gave Johnnycake a VHS tape containing the first three episodes of the TV show.  We watched that tape over and over too, especially after we moved from MI to NC and no longer had access to the movie.  Those three eps -- "Enter the Lone Ranger," "The Lone Ranger Fights On," and "The Lone Ranger Triumphs" -- are deeply ingrained in my imagination.  The Lone Ranger's determination, honesty, fair play, and loneliness are all things that pop up in characters I write today.  What's not to love about a guy who befriends intelligent American Indians and gorgeous horses?  He was one of my earliest heroes, and one I still enjoy watching or listening to (I love the original radio show too).  While I have all 3 of those eps on DVD now, you can watch them here if you've a mind to.

"A fiery horse with the speed of light... a cloud of dust... and the hearty, 'Hi-yo, Silver!  Away!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 11 - A show that disappointed you

 When I was a kid, my dad would tell us about two shows from his childhood that had been absolutely hilarious:  Hogan's Heroes and F-Troop.  He'd describe what bits and pieces he could remember, long-standing jokes, funny character foibles, whatever.  Johnnycake and I wanted so badly to see those two shows, because they sounded amazing.

When I was in high school, some cable channel at my grandparents' started showing Hogan's Heroes and we got to watch some over the summer.  And sure enough, they were awesome!  Funny, smart, and silly -- what's not to love?

So I had high hopes for F-Troop.  When it came to DVD and our library in WI got the first season, I eagerly checked out the first couple discs.  And was bitterly disappointed.  Maybe it gets better after those initial eps, but I found it silly, pointless drivel.  Maybe it's because I'm acquainted with good Western comedies like Support Your Local Sheriff and Texas Across the River and Cat Ballou.  Or maybe it's just not as great as my imagination and my dad's memory had built it up to be.  Whatever the case is, it disappointed me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 10 - A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And, by extension, Angel, although I didn't know Angel existed until it debuted.

I'd heard of Buffy in a general way before I went to college in 1998.  Clearly, based on the title, it involved vampires, which were something I wanted nothing to do with.  Anything involving the horror genre whatsoever was just not my cup of tea. I assumed the show was scary, probably involved black magic and other un-Christian things, and there was no way I would ever watch it.

David Boreanaz and Sarah Michele Gellar
My freshman year of college, I gradually became friends with three girls I'll call Pebbles, Z, and Bon-Bon.  Z and Bon-Bon were high school besties who became college roomies.  I recall one lunch with them where Bon-Bon tried to interest me in Buffy by describing how hot one of the characters was, a vampire named Angel who was sometimes good and sometimes bad, but always sexy.  I was polite, but declined their invitation to join them on Tuesday nights in the lounge to watch the show.

Sophomore year, I shared an on-campus apartment with Pebbles, Z, and my dear friend ED (Bon-Bon didn't continue at our college, though she did stop by for a visit now and then).  And one fateful Tuesday night, I had a cold and didn't attend the evening Self Defense course I was taking for PE.  It happened to be the night of the season 4 premiere of Buffy and the series premiere of Angel.  Pebbles and Z persuaded me to watch with them since I was too sick to do homework, so I huddled in our living room, wrapped in a blanket, and grudgingly watched the shows.

David Boreanaz as Angel
I was not an instant fan, though I acknowledged the hotness of David Boreanaz as Angel.  (Completely unnecessary aside:  Josh Holloway, who went on to play Sawyer on Lost, has a tiny role in the premiere ep of Angel, "City Of.")  But I realized that they'd been telling the truth when they said the shows weren't scary or horrific, and I was intrigued enough to watch subsequent episodes that Pebbles or Z brought back from home every weekend (as our college's cable company dropped the WB network the week after the premieres).  It was the third episode of Angel, "In the Dark," that hooked me.  Like I mentioned a few days ago, it was one bit of dialog that captured my still-reluctant attention.  When asked repeatedly what it was he really wanted (while being tortured for information), Angel finally admitted, "Forgiveness."  That got me to sit up, take notice, and actually get interested in Angel, which eventually became my second-favorite show ever.  Weeks later, around the time the episode "Something Blue" aired, I became a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer too, mostly because of Spike and his unutterable coolness.  And the show's fabulous dialog.

James Marsters as Spike
And now, a decade later, I own every season of both shows.  Because Joss Whedon and the other writers of these shows are amazing, the stars are solid actors, and these are two of the few shows that actually generally line up with my own world view.  Um, yes.  Because unlike most TV shows (and movies and books) today, Buffy and Angel do not subscribe to the humanistic view that all people are basically good.  They say, instead, that all people are basically evil and need to rise above their inner badness.  Which lines up so perfectly with the Christian (particularly Lutheran) belief that we are all born spiritually blind, dead enemies of God, sinful in every way.

Yes, there are things about Buffy I don't agree with. But it's one of the few modern shows that says actions have consequences.  If you disobey your parents, you will get in trouble.  If you have premarital sex, there can be unpleasant repercussions.  If you kill someone, you will pay for your actions.  In the morals-are-irrelevant morass that is much of today's programming, Buffy and Angel take a stand against evil, whether it's the evil of a demon out to destroy the world or the evil of lying to your parents.

Plus, did I mention David Boreanaz?  Mmm.  Enough said.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 09 - Best scene ever

I was planning a completely different post for this day.  I even had it mostly typed up ahead of time, on Friday morning.  But then, I finished watching Lost's series finale, "The End," on Friday afternoon.

I was going to say that I was having trouble finding one single scene that rocks my world, that this is a silly theme, and so forth.  I'd named off several scenes in several shows and described how you can't compare them and I can't pick a favorite.

But Friday, I saw the best scene ever.  For me, anyway. 

It came a little over an hour into the finale, a scene that I'd been hoping for, but fearing I wouldn't get.  The scene where Sawyer meets up with Juliet and they finally "remember" each other and their island life together.  I'd try to describe it, but here, you can watch it for yourself:

That scene fulfills my dearest wish for James "Sawyer" Ford:  that he find happiness.  And it hits every note I could ever have hoped for.  Their easy, teasy relationship, the deeper things that they communicate without words, the remembrance of things lost and the realization that they've found each other again -- it's all there.  The only scene in that finale that came close, for me, was Sun and Jin "remembering" each other.  Which also had Juliet in it, interestingly.

If you're not a Lostie, I'll explain a bit:  season 6 has two time lines going on, seemingly parallel universes, basically.  The island time line, where everyone's running around still on The Island, trying to save the universe, business as usual.  And the "sideways world" time line where not only did their airplane never crash on the island, but our merry band of not-castaways are actually pretty merry.  They're not outcasts and loners and reprobates.  Through the course of the season, in the sideways world, they bump into other not-castaways and gradually remember each other and the life they lived on the island in what basically turns out was a former lifetime.  Or their life on earth, and the sideways world is a sort of pleasant purgatory.  This being Lost, things are left fairly ambiguous there.

Anyway, Sawyer has been my fave Lost character since pretty much the first ep or two I watched, back on Memorial Day weekend in 2009 when Johnnycake and Dimples introduced me to the show.  He is, of course, broody, moody, rugged, broad-shouldered, and sarcastic.  He's also a conman, except in the sideways world, where he's a police detective.  (Ohhhhh yeah.)  While he has an on-again-off-again romance with Kate for quite some time, when he falls for Juliet in season 5, he falls for her for keeps.  And although Kate is my 2nd-fave character, I liked Sawyer better with Juliet.  She suited him.  She had a quiet honesty that forced him to abandon his bluster and be a better person -- how could I not like her?  Kate was great, but she lacked the stability that Sawyer needed to balance him out.

So.  There's what I consider the best scene ever.  Mmmmm.  How I love it.  Must now watch it again a time or two after I post this :-)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Day 08 - A show everyone should watch

What kind of topic is this?  Everyone likes different things.  I like Seinfeld (not my fave show, but I like it better than most modern sitcoms), but two of my best friends hate it.  Dad, Johnnycake, and I loved The Beverly Hillbillies, but my mom found it inane and annoying.  Likes and dislikes are so subjective.

So instead, I will say that everyone should turn off their silly TVs and read a book.  If we all did that -- say, if we cut out one hour a week of TV and read a book during that time, think how much richer our lives could be!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Day 07 - Least favorite episode of your favorite TV show

 True confessions time:  I haven't seen all the eps of my favorite TV show.  There are fifty eps I haven't seen yet.  So it's entirely possible I'll someday like a different ep less.  But right now, my least-fave ep of Combat! is "Conflict."
Pierre Jalbert as Caje in "Conflict"
"Conflict" is in the fifth season, and involves two of our squad, Caje and Littlejohn, angry with each other.  Throat-slitting angry.  Their conflict is never explained to my satisfaction, they spend most of the episode glaring at each other and growling like angry dogs, and I really think the idea of a huge rift between two main characters could have been handled better and taken to more interesting places.  Plus, all that anger makes me edgy.  Blech.
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn in "Conflict"