I was one of the metro DC residents lucky enough to never lose power during the two blizzards that struck during the past week. Last Thursday, when we were staring blizzard #1 in the face, I stocked up on books and DVDs, planning on being snow-bound for at least four days. Four has turned into seven, so here is my personal entertainment report for DC’s Snowmageddon:
TV Seasons on DVD
Weeds, seasons four and five.Loved it. Weeds is one of the few shows that can get me to laugh at a joke more than once. Usually, I’ll laugh at something the first time I hear it, but then never again. Not so with Weeds; its solid cast, deceptively complex characters, and inspired writing are always a pleasure to watch. I was especially happy to see Julie Bowen in season four and Alanis Morissette in season five. Unfortunately, Weeds‘s 12-episode seasons meant that I was done with Weeds by Saturday morning.
Californication, season 2. I liked the first season of Californication, which is available for free on Netflix streaming, but while I found Californication‘s second season to be raunchy and moderately amusing, I think paying $25 for it was overkill. I regret the purchase. It’s even more of a rip-off because, as another Showtime show, it’s a 12 episode season.
Boston Legal, season 3. This was the week of Julie Bowen. Between Weeds, Boston Legal, and Modern Family on ABC Wednesday night, I’ve seen hours and hours of her work this week, and as always, I find her delightful. Her timing is always perfect, and she should have a patent on comedic embarrassed anguish. I do, however, realize why I never bought season 3 of Boston Legal until this weekend–season 3 was the first season I started watching Boston Legal with any regularity, and as such, I’ve seen most of it before. The humor doesn’t always work the second time around. Though I do so appreciate meta-humor. It’s a weakness. Break that fourth wall!
A Prairie Home Companion. I can now stop feeling guilty over not seeing the film inspired by the beloved radio show. This is the only thing nice I can say about it. It was pretty dull otherwise; radio stories are not film stories.
TV on . . . TV
Chuck. “Chuck Versus the Mask.” Not my favorite Chuck episode. There is no way to make me happy if Chuck has a romance with someone other than Sarah and Sarah has a romance with someone other than Chuck, even if he is Superman Brandon Routh. Not okay with me. Chuck and Sarah are allowed to be miserable and apart but not happy and with other people. But if The Ring has its way, Shaw (Brandon Routh) is done for, and Team Chuck is about due for a major tragedy (Emmett’s death was a triumph) anyway.
Castle. Something about genealogy and missing parents. This episode is worth skipping; just know that the writers are clearly setting up a future episode where Castle will meet his father, thus proving that he and Beckett are two peas in a pod because she’s got a dead mom, and he’s got an MIA dad. Castle’s dad will probably be a criminal or something, a la Temperance Brennan and Max Brennan (played by Ryan O’Neal) on Bones. Why? Because Castle borrows often from Bones. I watch Castle only out of residual love for Nathan Fillion, who is and always will be Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, which is what I should have watched instead of Californication.
Lost. Is Sayid another version of Bad Locke? Will there be an epic showdown? If there’s going to be an epic showdown, shouldn’t it be between Jack and Locke? Where was Ben? I want more Ben. How long until we see Juliet alive in the world that “worked?” Gar, this show!
The Middle. It’s one of those shows that I never really look forward to, but always enjoy. It’s a pretty accurate interpretation of the kind of life I (or at least, my friends and cousins) lived out in “the middle.” It’s nice to see a show with working class people that is funny without being overridden with debauchery and ignorance, like the shows of the late eighties and early nineties. That said, and I fully accept the irony of what I’m about to say, given my preceding sentence: it’s a little preachy. Still, I loved how the kids’ Valentine’s Day plans were foiled. The show does a good job of explaining the joys and perils of the teen years without falling into the Queen Bee trap. What I’m trying to say, here, I guess, is that teens have amusing antics and inner turmoil, and The Middle offers a refreshing break from sexually precocious brats in overpriced clothes. Ahem.
Modern Family. Still my favorite new show on television. I love how easily the family swaps kids around; it’s a great plot device, and gives the show opportunities to bring out characters’ personalities without being contrived. I guess some families don’t use each other as babysitting services, but mine certainly did, and I find it believable that Mitchell and Cam would babysit Manny on Valentine’s Day . . . and coach him romantically.
Ugly Betty. Why cancel this show? Because it’s too smart, too funny, too much fun to watch? I think the problem with Ugly Betty is that the network still conceives of it as a telenovella soap, intended to be plot-driven. But it’s not; it’s character-driven and functions more as a sitcom. People don’t watch it for the plot; they watch it to spend time with the characters. Much as I love my hour-long Ugly Betty episodes, I wish they would consider turning it into a half-hour sitcom instead of doing away with it entirely, if the network is finding it too expensive as an hour-long show.
Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund. A young adult novel by DC writer Diana Peterfreund, where unicorns are the man-eating beasts of ancient lore instead of the fluffy innocents we currently make them out to be. The main characters are unicorn hunters who grapple with the virgin issue and confront rape. They care about romance and image while also caring about science, medicine, and hunting policy–and they have a little bloodlust of their own. A thoroughly modern spin on the myth, with a decidedly kick-ass heroine. It was out of stock at Barnes and Noble when I first looked for it, but arrived in the mail just in time for the storm.
The Gravedigger’s Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates. I’m about halfway through and I’m just not into it. Obviously, there’s going to be a big Religion Reveal (Rebecca is ethnically Jewish and doesn’t know it) and there will be a big sex scene, I suppose, since the book jacket says it’s “erotic,” but until then I have to keep turning pages, I guess. Also, Joyce Carol Oates’s public relationship with commas kind of drives me crazy.