Vlog Season 2 #5 – Favorite Christmas Episodes

19 Dec

Time for the last new vlog of 2014!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I decided to talk about a few of my favorite Christmas episodes! After the video, I wrote about a few more I didn’t have time to include in the video.

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Top TV Shows of 2014

17 Dec

bestof

It’s time for my entry into the flood of year-end best-of lists!

I had a hell of a time narrowing my list down to just 11 shows (I couldn’t cut it to just 10! And you’ll see a bunch of honorable mentions at the end), there’s just so much terrific TV out there now. These are presented in alphabetical order because trying to rank them would have been damn near impossible.

 

Agents of SHIELD

I don’t think anyone would try to argue Agents of SHIELD was anything but decently entertaining TV in the early parts of 2014. And then, Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, and it was a whole different ballgame. Since the release of that movie (and the destruction of SHIELD as we knew it), the show has operated on an entirely different level. The stakes are higher, the focus on a serialized story stronger, and the character development better. The new characters added in Season 2 (particularly Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse) helped give the team some new, interesting layers as well. It drives me crazy that the series doesn’t have a bigger audience because so many people gave up during the early episodes.

Broad City

I spoke about my love of Broad City in one of my vlogs this summer, and it’s one of my most anticipated returning shows in 2015. I love everything about this show. It’s hilarious, quirky, and the perfect showcase for two brilliant young female comedians in Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. They completely nail what it’s like to be young and living in New York City (in a somewhat heightened way, of course), and their friendship is a delight to watch.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I have written and vlogged about Brooklyn Nine-Nine a ton this year, so it’s appearance on this list shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It’s been my favorite comedy on the air for the bulk of the year. The ensemble is terrific – throw any combination of characters together and the show still works and gets laughs (it is very reminiscent of Michael Schur’s other show, Parks and Recreation in that way). Andre Braugher’s deadpan is a thing of beauty (his loud exclamation of HOT DAMN! was one of my favorite moments on TV all year). The show has also handled the Amy/Jake will-they-or-won’t they – which I was initially terrified would be an awful idea – in a really great way. They’re not leaning too heavily on it but are letting it exist in a way that feels right for both characters.

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What I Watched – December 13

13 Dec
© ABC

© ABC

Lots of great things on TV this week!

Episode of the Week

Agents of SHIELD - “What They Become”
I hate using the same show twice in a row for the episode of the week, but when a series rolls out such an IMMENSE episode, it sort of doesn’t leave me much choice!

Quite a lot of things happened in the winter finale of Agents of SHIELD this week. And now we have to wait until March to see what happens next, because TV likes to torture us that way.

Among the highlights: Skye finally meeting her father, Cal. I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, and I know I’ve talked about it on Twitter, but Kyle McLachan is AMAZING. He plays “slightly unhinged” better than just about anyone. You could see just how much he was struggling to connect with Skye, to explain to her what was happening all around her, what all of it meant, and how they ended up here. Then he goes and says something like “Now that he’s [Whitehall] served his purpose, I’m going to kill the man that destroyed my life. Best day ever.” with an utterly chilling amount of calm and composure, and it becomes clear that as much as he might fight it, the man is clearly not stable.

Also involved in all of this was Ward, and I LOVED how Skye handled him. The show has made a big deal of leaning on the “Ward is doing this because he cares about Skye” angle, but they’ve also made it abundantly clear she does not care an ounce for him. After Coulson’s rescue attempt caused things at the Hydra location to get a little crazy and Cal left her alone with Ward, she shot him multiple times to get away as soon as he gave her the opening. I appreciate that the show hasn’t given the characters short memories when it comes to the truly terrible things he did to them and their team.

While all of this was happening, the rest of the SHIELD gang was attempting to blow up the underground alien city after seeing what had happened to Mack down there last week (and finding out Whitehall was going to try to go down there). Trip got to bust out some more of his grandfather’s old Howling Commando equipment to use on the mission, which I always enjoy. He, Simmons, and Fitz were sent down to set a series of bombs (on timers) and then get the hell out of there before it blew.

Nothing ever goes quite that smoothly for this team, though. All the bombs got set, but just as they were about to leave, May contacted them to let them know Skye had gone down to the city – following Raina, who had taken the obelisk down there – and Coulson went in after them both. Trip immediately went back in to try to stop the bombs (it was at this point there was a lot of NO NO NO NO NO beginning to happen in my apartment). Ultimately, he succeeded, and found Skye and Raina just as Raina was activating the obelisk.

This is when things got really crazy and amazing and terrible and sad all at the same time.

When the obelisk connected with the city, Skye and Raina turned to stone (as we’d seen happen to anyone who touched the obelisk earlier in the city). In a panicked attempt to save Skye, Trip tried to break the obelisk – except the shards wound up killing him in the process. As this is happening, Skye (and Raina) are beginning to emerge from the stone – in a sequence that was gorgeously filmed and scored. Skye emerges looking so powerful, and the first thing she sees is her dead friend, turning to dust. It was an extremely emotional moment that I’m sure is going to be a touch point for the character going forward. The caves then began to shake and collapse around her….and then the episode ended because Marvel is trying to kill me.

Now, I don’t have a ton of Marvel comics knowledge, but my understanding is this was HUGE in terms of Marvel universe lore – Inhumans and Daisy Johnson and Quake and all sorts of things. I’m just excited by all the story options this opens up for the show when it returns in the spring! How will Skye handle her new powers? What happened to Raina? Is Mack okay (he appeared to be released from the weird spell the city put him under at the end of the episode)? Who was that weird dude with no face at the end? What does Ward do (with Agent 33 apparently at his side) going forward? Have we seen the last of Cal? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Thank goodness we have Agent Carter to keep us occupied in the meantime!

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What I Watched – December 6

6 Dec

shield-yewhoenter

Lots of build-up for upcoming mid-season finales this week!

 

Episode of the Week

Agents of SHIELD - “Ye Who Enter Here”
Can we just take a moment to recognize once again how awesome this show has been in season 2? I’m so sad it’s going to be off for a couple of months after next week (even if it is making room for the hopefully amazing Agent Carter).

This week’s episode set up for what I’m sure will be a terrific mid-season finale. It managed to do the usual chess-piece-moving you see in penultimate episodes without being boring (as is often the case). It also continued the terrific character work we’ve seen all season long that has been such a welcome improvement for the show.

We all agree that Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse has nearly instantly become this show’s MVP, correct? I hope like hell ABC/Marvel get her locked in as a series regular. Bobbi’s conversation with Simmons about Fitz this week was the first chance we’ve gotten to really see/hear Jemma’s feelings on everything that happened while the two of them were trapped underwater. Her conversation with Coulson about how different he was from Fury provided some nice character depth for both of them. And I continue to love her interactions with Hunter (although they were brief this week). She’s just KILLING it right now.

I also loved seeing the Agents Koenig pop up again. Patton Oswalt is perfect in the part, and the show is having so much fun with teasing us about how many of them there are and using their Wonder Twin powers as needed. I imagine if they were around constantly the gag would get old, but the show has used them sparingly enough that it’s a delight when they are around for an episode or two.

I don’t know what the deal is with Raina, or whose side she’s really on, but I find her fascinating to watch. You never quite know what she’s up to, it always seems like she knows just slightly more than she’s letting on, and there’s just the slightest hint of crazy in her eyes at all times. As recurring “baddies” go on this show, she’s been on of my favorites.

Of course, we also got another dose of Evil Grant Ward this week when he showed up to take Raina and kidnap Skye. It would seem he has an agenda that is entirely his own, which should be interesting going forward. I’m not sure how he plans to take on Hydra (which I would think he’s going to have to if he’s blatantly ignoring orders from Whitehall), but it might be fun to watch him try. It was also a lot of fun to watch the Koenigs and May seethe at him while he just smugly did his thing. I’m really enjoying the smug asshole version of Ward a lot more than the cardboard version we had for so much of last season.

The other big mission this week, of course, was finding the alien city. It definitely seemed like the team had found it entirely too easy for their own good, so not big surprise that the first guy down there had something terrible happen to him. I hope Mack isn’t actually dead, I kind of liked what he brought to the team (and especially his dynamic with Fitz) – but it doesn’t look good.

Very curious to see what the show does in the finale next week, and where things leave off heading into the hiatus!

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Vlog Season 2 #4 – Comic Book Shows

21 Nov

I’ve FINALLY got another new video live!

This week, I talked about the various comic book shows on the air right now that I’m enjoying - The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD, The Flash, and Gotham.

What’s your favorite comic book show right now?

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What I Watched – November 15

15 Nov
© AMC

© AMC

I have been super-crazy-insane busy lately, hence the lack of posts and new vlogs. I am a terrible blogger. New video coming Friday, and more regular blog content coming starting now!

Episode of the Week

The Walking Dead - “Self-Help”
The Walking Dead has been on a roll in season 5 so far – I really love what the series has done since blowing out of Terminus in the premiere. This week’s episode did an excellent job of providing some much-needed character development for Abraham and Eugene while also pushing the plot forward in a pretty significant way.

Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita joined the show last season, but given all the moving parts and different groups we had to worry about in the journey towards Terminus, we hadn’t spent a lot of time with them. Eugene was the slightly weird nerd who supposedly knew how to end the zombie plague. Abraham was the muscle helping him get where he needed to go. Rosita was Abraham’s girlfriend. That was about it.

This week, we got a little peek into how Abraham ended up here. Shown (very effectively) in short clips throughout the episode, we saw Abraham beat several men to death – right in front of his wife and two children. They were ultimately so afraid of him afterwards, they decided they were better off leaving than staying with him – and were nearly immediately killed by walkers. Overcome with grief, Abraham is just about to blow his own head off when Eugene wanders by, screaming for help. Abraham saves him, and the rest, we assume, is history.

All of this added extra context to Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Maggie, and Glenn’s struggles while headed for D.C. The gang ran into a series of hurdles – bus crashes, broken-down firetrucks, zombie herds – that would send any rational person back to the relative safety of the church and the rest of the group. Abraham, however, remained hell-bent on his mission. In the context of his story, however, and the fact that Eugene is literally the only reason he’s still alive, his borderline-crazy behavior was much more understandable.

This all led up to Eugene’s revelation that he was not a scientist, but rather just a very good liar who had figured out an excellent way to get people to help him stay alive. I’ve been waiting for that information to come out all season – I’ve read the comics, and didn’t expect them to change that particular bit – and was thrilled with how the show handled the big moment. After Abraham spent the entire hour seemingly losing his grip on his sanity – as we were slowly shown his sad history – to end the episode with him nearly beating Eugene to death and then stumbling away horrified that he’d slipped back into that behavior was a really intense and emotional way for the show to land what was already a great hour of the show.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the show handles Abraham going forward (although it looks like next week we finally get to see what happened on Carol and Daryl’s trip to save Beth!) and how the dynamics of that segment of the group change given everything that happened.
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What I Watched – October 25

25 Oct
© FOX

© FOX

Wrap-up posts two straight weeks?! LOOK AT ME GO!

Episode of the Week

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Halloween II”
I have always been a big fan of sitcoms that feature a yearly tradition every season – the Ron and Tammy adventures on Parks and Rec, the Dundies on The Office, etc. So I was thrilled to see Brooklyn Nine-Nine call back to last year’s Halloween bet between Jake and Captain Holt, and set it up as an ongoing thing should the show continue past this season.

This year’s bet involved Jake attempting to steal Captain Holt’s watch off of his arm before a particular time. As with last year, Jake offers extra overtime hours for free if he loses – this time, “five-druple” weeks. It is that rather ridiculous claim that lures Holt in – in the way only Andre Braugher can, he agrees with a hearty “we have an accord!”.

It’s from here that things get really fun. Jake’s plan involves an elaborate distraction from the entire precinct and bringing in a real pickpocket (codename: Fingers, because of course) to swipe the real watch and replace it with a fake while Holt is preoccupied. The plan goes off flawlessly – except the criminal Jake hired runs off with the watch. This sends him and Boyle off on a ridiculous wild goose chase through Brooklyn on Halloween that ends with Jake getting arrested.

After bailing him out, Holt reveals his own elaborate plan, which began the day after last year’s Halloween bet. It involved every member of the precinct and even factored in Fingers the pickpocket. When told by Holt in his victorious, but still no-hint-of-fun deadpan, this was utterly hilarious.

In the midst of the Halloween bet shenanigans, Gina was having drama with her dance team (the wonderfully named Floorgasm) because she was missing rehearsals to go to night school. When Terry found out, he offered to join her for the dance competition, giving us the glorious visual of Gina and Terry dancing together as the episode ended.

All in all, a super fun outing for the show, which remains my favorite comedy on TV right now.

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Vlog Season 2 #3 – Characters I’m Loving Lately

24 Oct

New vlog day!

This week, inspired mostly by a desire to talk about my love of Carol on The Walking Dead, I talk a little bit about a few characters/performances that have really captured my attention in the first few weeks of the fall TV season.

What characters have been your favorites lately?

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What I Watched – October 18

18 Oct
© AMC

© AMC

I’m finally recovered from an AMAZING New York Comic Con weekend last week, and I’m getting caught up on all the TV I missed!

Episode of the Week

The Walking Dead – “No Sanctuary”
I have such a love-hate relationship with The Walking Dead. It is so often a few infuriating choices away from being a really good show it makes me crazy. But then it occasionally throws out an episode like this week’s season five premiere (premieres have always been a strong point for the series), or last season’s stunning “The Grove”, and I remember why I stick around through the frustrating episodes.

“No Sanctuary” was a great hour of TV. The show jumped right back in where we left off last season, with the bulk of the group locked up in the boxcar in Terminus. The episode wasted no time getting to the action, beginning with an excruciating sequence that saw Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Bob, and several people from another group tied up and lined up over a trough. The non-main characters were then knocked out with a baseball bat and had their throats slit one by one, in almost assembly line fashion. Gruesome stuff.

Meanwhile, Carol and Tyreese are slowly heading towards Terminus with Lil’ Ass-kicker baby Judith in tow. Tyreese is still visibly shaken from the Lizzie incident, unable to even bring himself to kill walkers. While they’re out walking, they stumble upon a guy from Terminus and overhear him talking about “the chick with the sword and the kid with the hat”. Carol immediately snaps into action mode.

I’ve written here before about my absolute love for Carol, and I’ll be talking about it again in my next video (Spoiler alert!), so I won’t get into it too much, but needless to say – watching her save the day in this episode was IMMENSELY satisfying. I love that this woman has become perhaps the strongest, savviest person in the group, able to immediately sense that something is wrong, put a plan in action, and save the people who matter to her.

Once Carol blew the ever-loving crap out of the Terminus compound – letting in a nearby zombie herd – all hell broke loose (in the best way!). The rest of the gang spent their time in the boxcar fashioning makeshift weapons out of whatever they can find. Wooden planks, Rosa’s earrings, pieces of pipe – you name it, it was getting sharpened for battle. Good thing, too, since it allowed for some very creative zombie killing as everyone escaped.

It probably got a little lost in the theatrics at Terminus, but I thought what the episode did for Tyreese was really well done. This is a guy we’ve seen struggle with loss and doing what needs to be done at times, but if he’s going to make it he’s going to have to learn to make the tough calls and do things that might fall in a morally gray area. Seeing him snap back into bad-ass mode to save Judith was a great step in that direction.

I’m curious to see where they’re headed this season – we’re starting to get into the chunk of the comics I don’t remember as much. Since they spent the time showing us the (albeit brief) origins of Terminus, will we see Gareth or any of those folks again? And what happens if/when Morgan finds the group (super exciting to see him again, by the way). Great start to the season, looking forward to what comes next!

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Vlog Season 2 #2 – Gilmore Girls

8 Oct

This week’s video is a few days early because I’m going to be at New York Comic Con on Friday!

After Gilmore Girls was added to Netflix streaming on October 1, I knew I had to do a video about the show. I talk a bit about how much I love the show and what, in my opinion, made it so great.

Were you guys as excited as I was about Gilmore Girls hitting Netflix?

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