Supernatural and victim POV

I’ve never watched Supernatural. By pure coincidence, I chose today to start watching it. I only found out afterward that today is the anniversary of the day the story begins, November 2, 1983. [Cue spooky music.]

sam-dean-supernatural

Here is the sum of everything I knew about the show. Two dreamy brothers, one of whom was played with an actor who left Gilmore Girls for the role, chase down supernatural beings. And that the driver picks the music and shotgun shuts his cake hole. That’s it. Continue reading

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Wayward Pines and red herrings

Wayward Pines is the kind of show that defies you to answer the question “What is it about?” without giving away what it’s about. As soon as you hear the name M. Night Shyamalan, whatever you’re watching, you’re going to start scouring each scene for clues… clues to the almighty Twist. (Spoilers start mid-way though this post, with a warning.)

Wayward-Pines

Produced by Shyamalan, Wayward Pines is based on a series of novels of the same name by Blake Crouch. Season 2 just started, and I couldn’t decide if I was excited about it or not. So I rewatched the pilot, which I remember a suspenseful and riveting. The first half of the first season, up to The Twist, kept me guessing, theorizing, and eager for the next week. After that investment, I wanted to stay engaged — it was the summer TV season, after all — so I kept with it and more or less enjoyed it. It’s now, having all of the information about what the show is about, that I realize the pilot isn’t that good. It’s pretty awful. Continue reading

Jessica Jones

Fragility and toughness form the juxtaposed themes of the pilot of Jessica Jones, which debuted yesterday on Netflix. I know nothing of Jessica Jones from the comics, and I haven’t read any reviews of the show, so this is an unadulterated first impression.

JonesI couldn’t not think about the Veronica Mars pilot in the first few minutes. A female private detective spies on a tawdry hook-up as her voiceover provides exposition. We’re then transported to a hallway outside a dingy office where the textured glass proclaims the name of the business, Alias Investigations, not unlike the door to Mars Investigations. Then a client’s head comes through the glass and the similarity is, shall we say, shattered. (Doors are a recurring symbol, as well.) Continue reading

Scandal and things of the week

The sum total of my knowledge about Scandal was this: The Limited has a clothing line named for it. So I’m reacting to this pilot unbiased. (Spoilers ahead.)

Olivia compares herself to the accused

Olivia compares herself to the accused

As any pilot of a procedural, this one has to introduce a season-long story arc while delivering a case/mystery/monster of the week. Things of the week are a tricky thing, and some shows put more weight on them than others. Some shows use the thing of the week only in support of the A plot, and it really doesn’t matter that much. For others, the main focus is on the thing of the week and little bits of series arc simply bookend the episode. (I have more to say on this subject with regard to iZombie, but I’ll get to that another day.) Continue reading

Blindspot

I had every intention of blogging about this right after watching it during preview night at San Diego Comic-Con. But then there was this whole con, you see, and parties and panels and the need for sleep. So if you’re interested in Blindspot, coming to NBC this fall, you’re probably already read or seen something about it. So I won’t recap the plot but rather just give some of my own impressions.blindspot-nbc-pilot

I went into the screening labeling it in my head “John Doe with a female lead.” I wish I could tell you that I was way off base. Not that John Doe was a bad show, it just doesn’t feel that original as a premise. Blindspot doesn’t hold back as much information in its pilot as the other, which makes it even less interesting but possibly more network-friendly. Continue reading

iZombie

I was fully prepared to dislike this show, and I don’t even know why. It could simply be a bias against the CW, which typically caters to a demographic that is not me, or just a feeling that zombies have overstayed their welcome. But I didn’t expect to like Veronica Mars, either, which is from the same creators, and it turned out to be my favorite show, probably ever.izombie-pilot-episodeWithin the first few minutes of watching the pilot, a few associations were made or unmade… Liking this show will have no correlation to whether you like The Walking Dead or other, more traditional zombie fare. Ditto for police procedurals although that’s technically what it is. Your enjoyment of iZombie may, however, correlate with your enthusiasm for quirky, darkly humorous shows like Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Being Erica and, of course, Veronica Mars. Continue reading

The Last Ship, and point of view

Let’s talk about The Last Ship. It’s been on for several weeks now, so if you were planning to watch it you probably already are. It’s what you’d expect from a basic cable show executive produced by Michael Bay. But the pilot — which has lots of explosions — got me thinking about the character from whose point of view a writer can choose to tell a story.THE LAST SHIP I know, I know, it’s based on a book. I haven’t read it, but I’m assuming that, like the show, it’s told through the eyes of Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane). He’s a big, tough white guy who, no doubt, has proved his mettle serving in the U.S. Navy. Plot developments in the pilot demonstrate for us that he’s brave, dedicated to his men, and loves his wife and children. Basically, he’s an all-around Good Guy, complete with the white hat, which he places on his head with great symbolic purpose. Continue reading

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Now that its premiere season is behind us, it’s a good time to look back at the pilot of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and remember how we got here. A re-watch of the pilot serves as a reminder not only of the show’s charm — maybe the reason we hung on through some slow weeks — but the Whedon/Tancharoen family’s skill at storytelling. Despite the lukewarm reaction when it first aired, this is a hell of a good pilot, in hindsight. It kicks off the season arc, the story of Coulson (Clark Gregg) building his team and gradually learning about TAHITI, and all of the relationships therein. But instead of making its B-plot a one-off, it too sets up a long, methodical hero’s journey.

MikePetersonThe latter is what interested me most. Even though we had a long stretch of Mike-less episodes, this season was very much Deathlok‘s origin story. In fact, Mike (J. August Richards) himself says that at minute 30. Continue reading

Orphan Black

ImageIf you are lucky enough to have no idea what Orphan Black is about, don’t hit the jump. But do tune into the inevitable marathon that will take place before season 2 kicks off April 19. Orphan Black is one of those shows that, the less you know about it going in, the better. When I first watched, I hadn’t heard anything more than one little tweet about it, and even that contained what I now consider a spoiler.

I love a pilot that surprises you and makes you go, “Where is this going?” If you’re into suspense, amazing acting and East London accents, you’ll like this show. Continue reading

Batgirl Mini-sode, 1967

Arrow seems to be rolling out another DC character practically every week now. I don’t watch the show regularly, even though I keep hearing how much it’s improved since its cheesy debut season. I just can’t stay interested, maybe because Laurel and the sister look the same to me, or that every action sequence takes place in the dark with super-fast cuts, so I have idea what’s going on. Still, it’s hard, within the geek community, to miss the spoilers. Everybody’s talking about this show. Possibly it’s the introduction of juicy new characters that keeps the buzz alive.

This all brings up two questions for me. The first is, how the hell did Birds of Prey not succeed? The other, a broader and more agonizing question is, why are all the female comic book characters in supporting roles? Much has been written about feminism as it relates to comic culture, so I’m not going to delve into that. I am, however, going to take you back to what may have been the first attempt to spin off a female comic book character into her own TV show.

Although not technically a pilot, this “mini-sode” was made in 1967.

Continue reading