Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book vs. Movie: The Goblet of Fire

So it's been a little while since I've been on the blog - so glad to be writing again!

This was actually excellent timing as well; I've been on a HP binge - I've been rereading the books for a while now and am actually rereading Goblet of Fire right now! I so love rereading the books - I crave reading them just like I'm reading a new story - it cracks me up every time.

Anyway... the comparison:
The Book: Goblet of Fire was never my favorite Harry Potter book - I liked it and it definitely represented a big change in the series, but I never thought of it as a favorite. The new characters weren't particularly likable, the plot line felt like it was full of holes, and the structure of the tournament felt like it constricted the way the book had to be written. I liked Mad-Eye Moody until I learned it wasn't him, Fleur and Krum weren't really endearing, Rita Skeeter sucks. The only new character you really like is Cedric, which by the end seems a little manipulated! Of course we have to like him - he dies! I really didn't love the villain plot line - it makes NO SENSE! Why the hell would Voldemort want to wait an entire year for Crouch to pretend to be Moody, so he can trick the Goblet of Fire and make Harry win, so he can make the cup the portkey. Dude - make something else a freakin' portkey. I mean, will it really be an accident for him to die in the maze? Really? So random. The plan is crap, just saying. If that is seriously the plan, no wonder Voldemort can't freakin' kill Harry. And I did not love the tournament stuff - the other books follow the school year, but it feels more natural than 1st task, 2nd task, 3rd task.

The awesome part of the book is, of course, the trio. You 
see Ron's jealously rear its ugly head for the first time - with both Harry and Hermione. I liked the strength of Harry and Hermione's friendship here as well. I loved Ron's jealous spat over Krum - hilarious. The Yule Ball is one of my favorite events in the books. And, as always, the humor is there in spades. I freakin' love the Weasleys - they're all so funny in their own ways! (Now there are two new characters I wish we'd seen more of - Bill and Charlie!) Of course, the other part of the book that really makes an impact is the end. I mean Voldemort comes back - that's like the switch is flipped. We go from being a kid story to a young adult story right then. Now we don't have a weak version of the bad guy - the actual evil villain is a going to be a big part of the story. 

The Movie: To be honest, one of the things I thought while I was reading the book was the fact that it would make a really good movie. While I didn't like the structured tournament for the book, I knew it would work really well for a movie. And there were some great parts of the movie - the Yule Ball was beautiful, the tasks were pretty cool, and the ending with Voldemort was spot on and scary as all get out. I loved all the Moody lines (mostly because they were straight from the book). And honestly, I didn't feel like the left too much out (S.P.E.W needs to be mentioned here however - because it wasn't mentioned in the 4th movie, it totally ruined my favorite Ron and Hermione moment in Deathly Hallows: Part 2). And... well, it must be said David Tennat is in Goblet of Fire - just saying. He's not in the movie for all that long, but he is there and he is, of course, awesome!

What I really did not like about the movie were some of the timing issues - the first 15 minutes of that movie are on fast forward. I mean the Riddle House is set up nicely, but I always expect the characters to have chipmunk voices during the World Cup because they are moving so fast through the scenes. Crazy. I mean the World Cup isn't an important plot line overall, but my goodness, the speed at which we go through that event is insane. And then... we spend 10 minutes letting the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons kids twirl around and have a 10 minute "dance lesson" with Maggie Smith (which is kinda funny, but still). And seriously - do these kids even go to school? I think we see them in one class -seriously that one class with Moody and that's it. I also will go ahead and say it - I took issue with the Hermione make over. She was very pretty during the Yule Ball, but it seems like they decided she was now pretty all the time. It wasn't that big of a change to be honest and I didn't like it. In the books, Ron walks right by her- he doesn't even recognize her because she looks so different. And she's back to normal the next day. Where was that? I mean, she just stays that way. The beginning of the make Emma Watson a pretty movie star rather than actually looking like the character!

In Conclusion: Obviously Goblet of Fire isn't my favorite of the books or movies, but I still remember my anticipation for them both - I was excited for them and even now, I can't wait to go back and read through the third task and Hermione catching Rita Skeeter. I also think that Goblet of Fire was one of the most commercial movies for the series - I mean the tournament is something people can understand. Incorporating the other schools allows from some new fun ideas and the ball is of course something that people will be drawn to. It is also that turning point in the series, so people will be in the know for the next movies/books. It makes sense for people to like this movie - it works on a lot of different levels.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Do I Love Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Or, Four More Reasons that You Should Love Avatar

Jana has covered this before (see Five Reasons to Love Avatar: The Last Airbender), but rewatching a bit today inspired me to reflect on it myself.

If you just glance at a few images, it’s hard to see sometimes what all the fuss is about.  I’m a smidge older than most people in the Avatar fanbase.  My middle school students adore it- it’s their childhood, as they tell me.  Some siblings and friends just a bit younger than me swear by it.  But what made me love it?  Honestly, I started watching it because the description sounded like something Tamora Pierce would write.  It feels right out of the Circle of Magic.  In reality those stories are very different, but the idea of a group of people controlling different types of powers intrigued me. That’s what got me started.  After I started, I couldn't stop.  I started talking friends into trying it, and raced through the entire series.  Here are the four main reasons I kept watching.

Sokka With His Dad
4.       The people on this show are just like us. Some of them have parents that love and accept them (Katarra & Sokka), some reject what makes them who they are (Toph), some are absent (Aang), and some are abusive and cruel (Azula & Zuko).  They have to learn how to make friends and get along with people.  They have to learn how to deal when things happen that they didn’t plan on. Sometimes it’s hilarious and ridiculous, and sometimes it’s tragic.  They have to grow up and struggle to find themselves in a world that isn’t always friendly.  Their goals may not match ours (I personally am still preparing for the attack of the Fire Nation, but true battle eludes me), but their lives mirror reality.

3.      They make the wrong choices sometimes, and there are real consequences. Like anyone in real life, they often make wrong decisions. Sometimes there are dire consequences.  Choosing the wrong time and place for a battle could lead to death and defeat.  Choosing the trust the wrong people, or not to trust the right people, has a consequence.  In a regular kids’ show, even bad decisions would be wrapped up quickly and resolved with a quick band-aid.  In Avatar it isn’t always that simple.

2.      Each person matters. Among the main characters, we learn that each of them contributes to the group in different ways.  “Team Avatar” wouldn’t stay afloat without everyone, but it goes beyond that.  Sure there are episodes highlighting the need for each character, but the show itself balances every week.  It shows the need for all people, of all talents, in nearly every episode.  Even the minor characters can have a major impact on the world.  Since these people are saving the world itself- it ALL matters.  The show magnifies the concept, but it reminds viewers that people matter in real life.  You personally can make a difference to somebody, so make the effort!

Zuko With His Dad
     1.      People grow and change.  Zuko is my favorite character on the show.  In the beginning he’s one dimensional and whiny.  He is living according to the standards and ideals he was raised with.  He is forced to reconcile himself to situations that he doesn’t want to be in.  Even with his understanding uncle shoving the right thing to do in front of him all the time, Zuko repeatedly throws it back in his face.  Zuko believes that he wants recognition from his father (don’t we all want to make our parents proud?), and it takes getting it to realize that it doesn’t make him happy.  I love that Zuko had to really learn for himself what was wrong with the world.  All the characters in this story grew in confidence and other things, but Zuko literally had to shed the ideals that he was raised with and create his own set of moral boundaries.  It's so rare, especially in things made with kids in mind, do you get to see such a shift.

Prince Zuko on His Own

So whether you’re completely on board with Aang saving the world, or you’ve never heard of the show, head into the world of the Benders and experience the awesomeness. (Can be watched on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or in reruns on Nickelodeon channels.)

Stay Shiny!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Do I Watch Vampire Diaries?

Seriously, why do I watch this show?   Vampire Diaries is the most addictive show.   It isn’t high quality.  The plots have very little depth.  The actors are decent, but they aren’t Oscar worthy.  They’re pretty.  In all categories they’re MUCH better actors than anything on Twilight.  But it still isn’t what I would call fantastic television.  

Stefan, Elena, & Damon
in their "Love Triangle of Doom"
So in light of all these stellar attributes, what is it that makes this show something that I devour?  I just don’t know.  I know what it I don’t like- I don’t like the lead actress playing two parts throughout the series.  (They don’t seem different enough and it irks me.)  I don’t like that Elena gets to keep two boys at her beck and call.  (I’m over the continuous plots of two boys who both truly love the girl.  And if one of them moves on, then suddenly they’re truly evil.  I don’t love the message.)  I don’t love that one of the boys can go on a killing spree and be instantly forgiven, but if the rejected one found someone other than Elena to truly love, that isn’t okay. 

Newly Vamped Stefan
The backstories never stop coming, and that can only be a good thing.
Passions- NBC Soap
 What I do love is that I ALWAYS want to know what’s happening next.  Bottom line, that’s what the draw is for me.  It isn’t the “who hooks up with who” that I want to know, although that can be interesting, it’s really the who lives, who dies, and how they get out today’s crisis.  I love the boys and the romance of it, and I know that is what drags most people in, but I honestly I really just want to know what happens next in the plot.  People die in this, people get hurt.  Story lines get ripped apart, and story lines get dragged back seasons later.  It’s the soap aspect of it that makes it awesome. 

(Oh dear, it just a quality version of Passions?)

This is also a fast paced show.  They do not take fifteen episodes for things to happen.  You get the value of some instant gratification.  In the end, that means the plot takes these meandering and strange turns, but while you are sitting there watching it, it’s just riveting.  This is a show that makes you care.

Tyler & Caroline

I have found that this is a show I only care about in the moment.  Because my drive to watch the next episode stems around the “what happens next” idea, I absolutely am unable to watch it on a weekly basis.  About 24 hours after watching an episode, if I haven’t moved on to the next one I don’t care anymore.  The first time I watched the series I watched the ENTIRE first season in one day.  I started mid-morning on a Saturday and stopped when I had to leave for church the next day.  I stopped watching a couple of episodes into the second season because I lost interest. 
Alric & Damon enjoying a drink

Last weekend I watched the second half of Season 2 and the entirety of Season 3. (I did other things while watching, but it’s still a bit sad, I know.)  I loved it.  I doubt I will keep up with the current season since I have already lost interest with the plot, but be warned- if you start watching this with entire seasons at your fingertips, you may very well become beyond saving.  

Stay Shiny!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why I Want to be River When I Grow Up

So what makes River so special?  After much consideration, I think I’ve figured out what it is.  River Song exists both as a superhuman foil to the Doctor, and someone we can relate to as a person who loves and admires him.   As both, how can we resist her?

How River is More Than Human
The Doctor is an amazing character, I will not start in on how spectacular he is.  He regularly has a companion with him which offers the audience someone to compare him to.  In contrast, he is the ever energetic adventurer and savior.  We see different sides of him as he is paired with various companions, but the Doctor is always the savior, the hero in the relationship.  He opens up worlds for his companions, and expands the universe.

River is so different from anyone else in the series.  As far as we’ve been allowed to see, River doesn’t need the Doctor to expand her universe.  Her universe is already vast, covering a great deal of time and space.  She has her own adventures and is capable of travelling and existing in her own timeline, with and without the Doctor.  In the new series, there are no Time Lords other than The Doctor.  It wasn’t until a ways into viewing that Jana & I discovered that this wasn’t always the case.  Russell T. Davies made a decision that the race would not survive the Time War, and it’s universally been embraced. In Classic Who there were many other Time Lords.  They were capable of time travel, had working Tardises, and had the same vast knowledge base and abilities as the Doctor.  They did not always see the universe in the same way as him, but they offered the viewer a look at a universe were the Doctor was not a single, ultimate being.  It’s what makes the villain of the Master so intriguing in the new series- here’s an antagonist who can hold his own against the Doctor.  They begin on equal footing.  We get a glimpse of the Time Lords at the end of season four, but it's just for a moment.

With the appearance of River Song, we have a character who operates on her own agenda, with her own abilities, and doesn’t need the Doctor to physically survive the universe.  In this sense, she is completely unique in the New Series.  Captain Jack was around for a while, but he (very unfortunately) hasn't been seen in the company of the Doctor in ages.  We need this character, River, to remind us that the Doctor is not the beginning and the end of intelligent, powerful beings.   He is able to ask questions of her and get them answered.  Their relationship is back and forth with knowledge and information in a way he’s never had with his earthly, contemporary companions.  She understands situations that they are in without needing a ton of background, and therefore he is able to bounce ideas off of her.  He’s able to question options and have someone make suggestions about what to do.  The Doctor has less pressure on him with River there, and while he ultimately feels responsible for her, he isn’t really. She takes care of him just as much.  The first episode she meets him, she does the saving (granted, she also tried to kill him...).  The fact that he doesn't have to be the savior gives him the rare chance to be vulnerable around someone.  This makes their relationship special.

How River is Human
What makes River especially amazing is the fact that she can run around the universe as nearly an equal match to the Doctor, but she is still a character that we are able to relate to.   She adores the Doctor, pretty much unconditionally.  What true Whovian doesn’t unconditionally love the Doctor, even when he screws things up?  She is always excited to see him, and she will do anything for him.  The awesome part is that she isn’t afraid to argue with him.  She is knowledgeable enough to do it, so watching her and the Doctor together is more like watching a real couple than anything we’ve seen before. 

River in her first/last episode
Another detail is that she isn’t eternal.  River is human (well, as much as a Child of the Tardis can be), and she knows that her time with the Doctor will someday come to an end.  Granted, with her crazy timeline we may be able to see her for ages, but she still isn’t going to live for thousands of years like the Doctor.   And everyone, including the Doctor, knows it.
River is willing to destroy the
universe to avoid killing
The Doctor

River, unlike the Doctor and very like real people, can regularly be selfish.  With her “trained as a psychopath” childhood, if she wants to kill someone/something, she does.  If the Doctor is going to die, he might as well take all of time and space with him.  She’ll deface ancient or futuristic property alike, and she is unconcerned.  She’s manipulative to the core (see regular habit of lying and her steady supply of hallucinogenic lipstick), and River is not all that concerned with applying her moral compass.   

All these aspects together are what make River a spectacular character.  She’s strong, self-assured, and capable like the Doctor, but she’s mortal and has human flaws.   River, of all the characters I’ve ever seen on Doctor Who, is the character I most want to be. 

Stay Shiny!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrow Premiere Review- Gritty & Pretty

I have a serious soft spot in my heart for all archers (see my blog about it), and I have been thrilled waiting for the premiere of the CW series Arrow.   After viewing, here's my recap and review.  If you don't want spoilers, don't read this!

The look of this show feels a bit new for the CW.  While it has the pretty people (girls with legs like toothpicks…), I feel like it succeeded in getting the gritty setting it was aiming for.  It's also somewhat different in it's cast of characters. These are grown people, or at least people old enough to be working.  We've left high school well behind.  (One character has completed law school.) The beginning was strong, and I adored the flaming arrow right at the beginning.  Arrows- they can be hand crafted and multipurposeful in ways you never expected.  Establish this fact as early as possible.

Initial shot on the island.
It was awesome.
There was a slightly corny voice over about protecting his city, which seemed somewhat random.  I know we were supposed to get the city thing early, but it still seemed random to me. 

As soon as he was back (and the voice over stopped) I realized I was going to love him. Whether he’s a good actor or just seemed to fit the part for me, I don’t know, but I loved it.  He seemed very still while talking to people, and it seemed like all of his actions were very deliberate.  This was an awesome contrast to the flashbacks where his emotions were in every move he made.  I was preset to love him, so I may be biased, but I thought he was great.

The introduction of the characters was great.  I thought it was subtle enough that I didn’t feel like I was getting a character list, but you got the info about who was who and basic relationships very quickly.  His mom was seemed like a push-over who married a guy who seriously came off like an evil accent bad guy.   We didn’t really find out if the guy was bad, and I hope we defy expectations and he turns out all right.  (Obviously his mother defied expectations, so it could happen!)

"You were with me the whole time."
Oliver to his sister Thea.
I loved his face when he first heard his sister.  He just seemed so happy!  I know happy moments will be few and far between for him, and I am going to soak it up when I can get it.  She was also the first one that I heard call him Ollie.  I am thrilled I can keep calling him that.  I would have anyway, but it seems more accurate if at least someone on the show called him that, too.  I’m not a comic reader, so all I know of Ollie comes from Smallville and a bit of Wikipedia reading.  Seeing his mother and his sister around defies what I know from Smallville, so I plan to do some digging.  Even though I don’t know what happens in the comics, I appreciate how different adaptations use the original source material.

As the boat is sinking and he can''t
find Sarah

The moment I was totally sold on the series was when we saw Sarah die.  The way he responded tore me apart.  I nearly started crying, and I don’t cry very easily.  (No actual tears were shed, but it was closer than I'm comfortable with.) I really appreciated the use of the flashbacks.   Other than the conversations about the city with his dad (which still seemed a little forced), I felt like the flashbacks flowed in perfectly with the current story.  

When he gets kidnapped and questioned about what his dad may have confided in him, he did have a couple of corny lines before going completely superhero on them.  Of course he’s able to inexplicably dodge machine gun bullets while taking people out, but what superhero can’t?  Here, in this first action sequence, we set up what makes Arrow different than Smallville. A guy is trying to get away and Ollie gets hold of him.  He asks to be let go, Ollie says no one can know his secret (is his secret these awesome fighting skills?), and he snaps the guy’s neck. It’s kind of brutal.  Obviously working with a different moral line than some other crusaders.

Ollie's stash of toys

At this point, all I wanted was to watch him shoot arrows.  The general fighting is okay, but it's the archery that does it for me.  After some recent let downs (that would be you Henry Cavill- why didn’t you use that magic bow in The Immortals for more than thirty seconds!), I was hoping for something fulfilling.  Right when I was ready to demand arrows, arrows appear-  Enter training scene!  (I admit it- it was my favorite.)  Making arrows and things, being hot, working out shirtless, that moment when he reverently takes out the bow.  I don’t even care where he got this bow he loves so much.  It was great.

Classic Green Arrow moment

He then proceeds to be very Green Arrow like.  (I love when he escapes his new body guard, and it should be noted that I like his body guard. I bet they become friends!) Ollie stages a big fancy party to disguise his break-in next door.  He robs from the rich and gives it back to the poor.

Trying to Survive
Nearing the end of the episode, we cut to a pivotal flashback.  I couldn’t believe this scene in the boat with his dad.  To me, this sets up something entirely different in vibe than any other CW show.  If you didn’t watch it, go watch it yourself and let me know your thoughts.

I liked the Dinah reveal (Laurel's middle name, and more casual audiences might be aware of Dinah's connection to the Black Canary character).   I want to know more about Tommy.  Are we supposed to feel like he’s a bit sketchy?  I’m hoping he reforms or becomes less ambiguous.  At the same time, I like that I can’t pin him down.  I just want his ambiguity to be deliberate, and not because he’s an undefined character.   

Final thoughts include that this could fair well with the Revenge crowd.  Wrongs done by the generation before you, list of corrupt people to take out one by one… (a real physical list that you cross names out out, like Emily). There’s even an island (cue Count of Monte Cristo feel).  I really enjoyed this as a premiere, and in my opinion the CW (or WB/UPN) is not a network known for its stellar first episodes.  The show has to be carried by its lead, and I think this actor can do it.  I absolutely plan to tune in next week. 

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen
Stay Shiny!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book vs. Movie: Prisoner of Azkaban

So excited about this review - I love/hate talking about this topic. Seriously, the reason I decided to do book/movie comparisons. Let's get started with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Book
Without a doubt, Prisoner of Azkaban is the book in the HP series that demonstrates J.K. Rowling's ability to have her characters and prose grow with her audience. I've often told people beginning the series to start with PoA, if they can't get into SS. (With all the summing up at the beginning of the first novels, this is totally ok). I love the mystery of PoA - while mystery is huge part of each book, this one seems even more intense. As we learn more and more about Harry's parents and their history with Sirius and Lupin - the story gets better and better. I mean, getting the Marauders in this novel, makes it the best of the first three. On top of that, we have time travel (always a favorite on this site), tidbits (like Scabbers and Fred and George knowing all the passages and that motorbike from Ch. 1 of SS), and a poor, confused, desperately lost Harry. He just wants to go to Hogsmede like everyone else! What's wrong with that? We see the beginning of angry Harry in PoA (starting with Aunt Marge) and we start to see how much he really does have to be angry about. 
I think another favorite in this story is how we see Ron and Hermione step it up - they both are there with Harry when he confronts Sirius - this hasn't happened before. They went through the trap door, Ron went down the pipe, but this time they are both there in the big scary moment with him. And they're heroes - just as much as Harry. LOVE IT! It also helps that this is also the book you start to get little hints of romantic feelings between Ron and Hermione - the fighting, oh the fighting. So stinkin' adorable! I also happen to think Crookshanks is pretty awesome - what with figuring Sirius out and everything. 

The Movie
We have reached my entire reason for creating this topic of study within the Potterverse. Ahh, my feelings for PoA. How to say it, let's see... I'm actually incapable of watching most of this movie? I have to stop the movie 20 minutes before the end? I hate freakin' talking heads? Yeah, I don't like PoA - at ALL. The only good things I see - the addition of Dawn French, the prettiness factor (it is very artsy and pretty, sure), and the acting ability of the trio improved. That is it. Everything else pretty much sucks. Well, I didn't hate the Aunt Marge bit, that was actually funny. This movie, in no way, measured up to the book. I thought for years, this must be because the first two so closely followed the book and the third movie just didn't do the same. But then I saw the other movies - that wasn't the problem - the other movies didn't follow every line and I'm ok with them. It is the lack of explaining - seriously, we can add freakin' talking heads on the Knight Bus, but we can't take like two seconds to explain the Marauders - what the hell? I have literally yelled at the TV about this topic. I now just don't watch the last twenty minutes. And we don't end with getting on the train - I call foul play! Not allowed! Stupid move! Don't like it at all! 

One of the things I did like about the movie was the depiction of Sirius on the posters, etc - I thought those were great for advertising and really creepy. 

So many issues, but my largest complaint has to be the Marauder story line being completely messed up. In the book, we found out through multiple sources who each of the Marauders were and what their relationships were with one another. The scene at Christmas was so well done in the book, but in the movie that scene between the adults was so forced and awful - even Maggie Smith couldn't make it better. By the end of the scene with Pettigrew, Sirius, and Lupin we knew who everyone was, the origin of the map, etc - in the movie, basically nothing. We also had no idea why Harry's patronus was a stag - this seemed like something that could have been corrected very easily. Come on! 

My Big Whiny Complaint: 
I feel like I've done enough complaining, but I think this kinda goes into the next movies as well - I think they could have worked out a way to truly explain the Marauders in the next movies, but they didn't think it was necessary. All of those characters are huge roles in the book, but in the movies I feel like they are put off. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

New to Who

There is no more "New Who" this year- sadness. Before launching into a new review/who topic (so many ideas just came to my brain - profiles on each Doctor, companion rankings, older episode reviews - Ahhh! So much fun), I think we need to discuss the journey that it took for Jana and Kristin to throw in the towel, throw up the white flag, and finally succumb to being full-fledged Whovians. It actually wasn't long into the surrender that we just went along willingly, but still.

The Resistance - How It Proved to be Futile
The first episode of Doctor Who I LOVED and wanted
to watch again!
Jana - For years (years, I say), I had been told to watch Doctor Who. My brother begged me to watch it, my HP friends were obsessed and nagged me to watch it and yet I did not give in. Finally, when it was recommended AGAIN on Netflix, I caved. This was 2008 - I watched Rose. The whole episode - I swear, you could check my Netflix records. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't intrigued. I just didn't need to see the next one. Then (and I know I'm giving away our "Whovian age" here) in February of 2012 - Kristin and I decided that we both needed to give the Doctor another chance. I still resisted - I just didn't see it happening. Kristin decided to take the plunge - she'd watch and report back. Let me know if I was really missing something fabulous. The first few episodes, she stated, were much the same as Rose. I'll be forever grateful that she's an English teacher because if she didn't have so many damn papers to grade, she may never have reached the 9th episode and then Sundays would not be Who days. By the time she called during the Christmas Invasion, trying to let me hear The Doctor quote The Lion King, I knew we were turning a corner - a new obsession was coming. The end of Season One and the beginning of Season Two were both watchable, but  once I'd seen "The Girl in the Fireplace," I fell for both Tennant and the Doctor and knew I'd found my new favorite thing! 

The moment that was too good not to share.
Kristin - I can't remember ever being told by someone to watch Doctor Who.  It came up on my Netflix repeatedly, and I recognized Billie Piper on the front from a few other things that she'd been in.  I have always been a bit more into sci-fi television than Jana, so it isn't surprising that I dived in first.  I decided that if Netflix was so insistent that this be watched, I should try.  I watched both "Rose" and "The End of the World". Sorry, but I wasn't invested enough to keep at it. (At this point I didn't know anything about the history of the show, Jana & I have since developed an appreciation for these early episodes!)  A year or two later, I got on Pinterest.  I adore Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all things Whedon, along with many other geeky things, so I started following boards that posted about Buffy and regularly looking at the "Geek" category on Pinterest.  Doctor Who related images were being pinned constantly by people who cared about the same things as me, and I saw most pins were about different doctors than the one that I'd seen in "Rose".  I became determined to give the show another chance, and see if the show took a turn that I would like with the new actor.  One weekend when I knew I would be working in the living room for a while, I turned on the television and barreled through the first season.  I texted Jana my reviews throughout, since she was interested in the show as well, but it wasn't until "The Empty Child" that I began to appreciate the magic of the Doctor.  Honestly, I found Captain Jack really likable and then realized I was thoroughly enjoying the story.  I texted Jana and told her to skip to episode nine.  I made it to Tennant's Christmas special, and before it was over I had realized that this little British show was something I could totally love.  It was before I made it to "Tooth and Claw" (Tennant's third episode) that I wanted to see everything, know everything, and adore everything touched by Doctor Who

If you are still on the fence, give it a chance!  Some people find their entrance right away in "Rose,"  some people need to meet Tennant, and there are people out there who find their entrance through Matt Smith and the entrance of the Moffat era.  There's something about Doctor Who for everyone, you just need to find your way in.  

DFTBA and Stay Shiny,
Jana and Kristin

Saturday, October 6, 2012


For Otherworld Saturday, I want to discuss spoilers - good, bad, let's see...

Really?!?! with Seth and Amy (actually with Jana)
Today, I was watching the latest installment of "The Lizzie Bennett Diaries" and noticed that there was a lot of discussion about spoilers in the comments. I resisted in commenting because my comment would have been along the lines of a Really?!?! type of comment. I mean seriously, the plot is based off of Pride and Prejudice - who in this world does not know what that book is about? Who is watching the freakin' "Lizzie Bennett Diaries" and reached video 52 without figuring out the plot? Really?!?! What's wrong with you? Why would you have not looked this up by now? Even if you haven't read the book, watched an adaption, or talked to, I don't know, another human being about it, come on - you think it's ok to whine about freakin' spoilers!! Many comments took this approach - my opinion was well represented. Seriously - that's just insane. But you know, not all spoiler ridden types of media are novels that have been available for many years. Some things are better unspoiled.

To spoil or not to spoil...
Whenever I see a spoiler leaked, I have the temptation to look at it. Sometimes I resist - I don't want to spoil my enjoyment of experiencing the new information in that moment. But sometimes, I give in and find out everything I can - there's something to feeling like I'm an insider and I know the secrets no one wanted leaked. You feel knowledgeable. I especially think that "spoilers" are fine if given in the context of the show/movie you  want to see - I mean the trailer for the movie or the next episode is supposed to make you want to see it! I think legally provided spoilers are fine - I don't like the illegal ones - like when someone leaked some of the pages/content from a Harry Potter book early - not cool dude, not cool. 

The Investment Factor
I know that my need to be spoiled is in direct correlation with how much I've invested into the media that is being spoiled - will I watch the movie/TV show the next day? Will it be a year? Will it keep me from hating/liking something? I think I was better off knowing that the name on the tombstone in Goblet of Fire was wrong (and then noticing they fixed it). I liked knowing some of the characters from Legend of Korra before I finished The Last Airbender. I loved seeing the pictures and scenes of characters from some of my favorite books when they were being made into movies (Hunger Games, Harry Potter). It also depends what kind of spoiler we're talking about here - will it give away something that I'll know soon into the story or is it something that I'll sit and wait on till the end? Sometimes I'm ok knowing the end - I like to see how the characters end up there, but a lot of times - it is a let down. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't have a hard or fast rule on spoilers - I don't let them spoil me in the long run. They won't keep me from loving or hating anything. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Favorite Characters in the Whedonverse: Dr. Horrible

Continuing with my Whedonverse Thursday theme, I am going to do a character profile of another wonderful character from the Whedonverse: Dr. Horrible, himself!

When the writer's strike happened in 2008 there was a lot put on hold - it was depressing to a certain degree and we'll forever feel the repercussions of the writer's strike - whenever I go to watch the 4th season of Lost, I think about that strike! All the seasons were shorter and TV was soooo boring! Of course, the writer's strike did have one wonderfully positive outcome: freelance projects, mainly - Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog from the wonderfully amusing mind of Joss Whedon (and his brother and co. who came up with the catchy, awesome songs).

The main character, Dr. Horrible, is played perfectly by Neil Patrick Harris, who as we all  know, has no problem blogging his everyday occurrences :). I know part of my love for this character is due to NPH (whom I love to no end), but there is more to the character than simply a wonderful actor.

Dr. Horrible, while horrible, is actually a sensitive guy with big goals. However bad he wants to be - he just can't quite meet the standard of Bad Horse. He wants to rule the world, but honestly, he just wants the pretty girl in the laundromat to give him the time of day. He's just so relate able - which is hilarious because he's a super villian that wants to be in the Evil League of Evil. But you know, we've all had lofty goals we desperately want to reach - and sometimes, on your way, you liquidate the gold you stole from the bank - it happens.

Dr. Horrible has layers (like an onion or parfait) - he's not just evil. I love to learn more about the villains of a piece, especially if they aren't just shallow. I love that you root for him - evil deed or buying yogurt. You identify completely with him and want him to succeed in his quest. I love the bad guy as the hero - it always makes you question your moral compass just a little bit.

Really, it's his love for Penny that is his redeeming quality - how can a character that is so horrible love so greatly? But it totally and completely works - he loves Penny, but he desperately needs to prove himself.

He is such a delightfully flawed character; it is almost like he decided to be evil before he decided who he wanted to really be. He almost doesn't have a choice and to a certain extent doesn't want one. I love that he's this timid, shy guy in real life - his super villain alter-ego is really his shield - he can hide his real self behind it. And when you are hiding your real self, you start to lose that self more and more. I don't think he even knows who "Billy" really is anymore. At the end of the story, he completely gives Billy up and invests completely in Dr. Horrible - I think that's what he was missing all along; why his plans didn't work, why he couldn't break down that barrier - he was still holding on to that real part of himself. He had to let go of the best parts of himself to meet his goal - simply because he never saw himself for who he truly was.

A lesson from Dr. Horrible. Who knew?

Joss Whedon. That's who. Damn, he's a freakin' genius.


Buffy in Review- The Witch

I brought home a stack of work.  I’m not going to do it, because I’d rather be watching Buffy.
I'd rather be watching Buffy.
We’re on The Witch, the third episode of Season 1.  Granted this is not really a pivotal episode, but for some reason it seems to be referenced a lot.  Is it Buffy in a cheerleading uniform?  Meeting Amy, the character who pops back into our lives every few years?  I am hoping to figure it out on this rewatch. (This is written as a rewatch after having viewed the entire series, so if you aren't through the series and are sensitive to decade old spoilers, beware.)

We begin with a lecture from Giles about Buffy “enslaving [herself] to this cult” of cheerleading.  Personally, I struggle seeing Buffy as a cheerleader.  It’s so yay sports, which isn’t something she seems to care about, be aware of, or anything at all.  Since when did the Scoobies care about school spirit?  I guess that may not be the standard motivation for being on the cheer squad, but it just doesn’t seem like an activity she would care about.  Is that just me? I know the very idea of Buffy is based around the cheerleader type becoming savior of the world.  I don’t know, I could be all wrong on this.  Just thoughts.  

Also at this moment Xander creates some serious awkwardness with his bracelet.  How can Buffy not react to the weirdness of giving her a bracelet that says “Yours Always,”?  That is not an appropriate friend present and should not be accepted.  After viewing the Human Torch (cheerleader suffering from spontaneous combustion), we move into the more familiar setting of the library.  Okay, this is my favorite Giles moment.  His smile about having a “cornucopia” of amazing evil shows his joy in learning of something new.  A true educator.  Willow coins the phrase “The Slayerettes” in this scene, then Xander states his life philosophy, “I laugh in the face of danger, then I hide until it goes away.”   This was always one of my favorite Xander quotes.  Honestly, the line itself isn't true.  More than once in the series Xander fights back, but it’s just such a great line.

The trophy case makes its first appearance in this episode. (And one of its last; it doesn’t pop up much.) This is where we establish Amy’s weirdness factor.  She’s obviously obsessed with her mother.  We know where this is going, but it’s still creepy,  even in hindsight.

Back to the Slayerettes- we pretty much establish this is the episode all about defining Xander’s friendzone status.  According to Willow, he’s a chewed up pen you’re just used to having.  He doesn't react well to this metaphor and offers to drive a railroad spike through his head.  I cannot help but wonder if this line was at all the inspiration for Spike’s name, or at least thought about after naming Spike.  Thanks for the flash-forward moment, Xander!  It’s almost fun watching him try to ask Buffy out and get shot down, or just completely ignored.  They act like kids for such a small portion of the series that it’s fun to watch the honest awkwardness. 

Cordelia gets cursed; mostly for being Cordelia,
a little bit because she was a cheerleader
As we view a cursed Cordelia wreck a car, we learn she’s failed her driver’s license twice.  This is pretty sad, considering Cordelia is pretty much the designated chauffeur for the next couple of years.  You think someone would be more successful than her at the whole driving thing.  Is it supposed to act as a status symbol that Cordelia had a car?  Most high school students can afford something to drive to school.  Regardless of their success in driving,  Willow is successful at something here- she has no issues dealing with the eye of newt to concoct the “witch detecting” spell.  Foreshadowing future skills, Ms. Rosenburg?

I love the twist in this episode. When primes suspect Amy goes home and is obviously in control, not the suffering pressured victim, you know there is something different going on here.  Even in an early, non-pivotal episode, it’s got to be something just a bit different.  Oh, and then there’s the black cat on Buffy’s shirt.  Witchy!  Intrigue at her sleeping ensemble is followed by head shaking at her enthusiastic cheerleading self.  Obviously there is some other kind of problem (evil Amy spell) going on here, but regardless, I prefer sarcastic, bigger picture Buffy.  I’m okay with her cheer phase not lasting all that long.

We end up back with Giles in the library, and he appears to have recognized the spell cast on Buffy fairly easily.  He would, wouldn't he.  I believe The Ripper would recognize a vengeance spell when he saw it.   I do love Giles through all of this.  He showed that he’d leave the library and get his hands dirty when he needed to in order to protect Buffy and get the job done.  Even just a couple of episodes into the series, we believe that he cares about her.   Watching it, I barely detect a difference in his concern and controlled protectiveness in this, merely the third episode, than in the latest episodes when Buffy had practically become a daughter to him.  It shows us that caring for Buffy is just going to become a part of him, from beginning to end.  Thank you Anthony Stewart Head for being such a great actor.  By the way, he is awfully competent here.  I like it.  He does mention it’s his first spell casting, which is going to prove to be a lie.

Sidebar- We see a lot of the inside school gym in this episode.  Do we see it again?  I remember prom, but I’m struggling to come up with another scene in the gym.  Oh, and I remember gym class in Phases (the werewolf episode).  I remember way more locker room than gym.  I'll be keeping an eye out as we proceed.  

Amy's recovered from her curse of
wanting to be a cheerleader.
My favorite Buffy is always quippy, strong Buffy, and she doesn’t let me down in this climactic scene.  She “feels better” after her little death curse is lifted, and she takes care of the situation.  I definitely prefer Buffy to be of the attitude Amy, the real Amy, has at the end of the episode.  She “will really miss the intellectual thrill of spelling words with [her] arms,” and I appreciate her sarcastic look at cheering.  Forgive me any avid cheerleaders out there, it’s just not my thing.  Most cheerleaders that I've actually known or had in school have been very nice people.  Most of them are not the type to become avid Joss Whedon fans, however.  I'm sure there are exceptions.

As far as conclusions, this episode's is a long standing favorite of mine.  I would never remember Catherine being trapped in the cheer-leading trophy if Oz didn't mention it’s eyes were following him later in the series.  As small as that connection is, it’s one of my favorites.  Joss, and all the other amazing Buffy writers, never forgets the details.  It’s one thing that makes the series so special. 
It follows you with its eyes!

Stay Shiny!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Favorite Youtube Video Channels

So... today I decided to do a post about my favorite youtube videos! Since The Guild Season 6 premiered the other day, it seemed appropriate. 

I know I've already mentioned some webseries that I checked out, but I don't think I've been able to mention some of the important videos I watch otherwise. 

Must See's Every Week: I generally check into my youtube subscriptions on Wednesdays and Saturdays (that way something new is always around!)

- Vlogbrothers - John and Hank update like clockwork and at less than 4 minutes a video, I can always find time to watch the latest addition. The John videos are ALWAYS necessary to watch, but I find Hank to be more of a hit or miss kind of video. I love their takes on current events, fandom insights, etc. They always have something interesting to talk about. The Nerd Quote Video!

- JennaMarbles - I should probably hang my head in shame that this is so high on the list. She's hilarious though. She can get a little too crude for me sometimes and the voice she does with her dogs - ugh, but sometimes her reflections on life are just way too comically true. I will admit, I check on Wednesdays because that's when she updates. She's awesome.

- Lizzie Bennett Diaries - probably should have made the web series post to be honest, but I've been into the Lizzie Bennett Diaries for a while, so I didn't consider it a new find. These come out every three days and are following (what else?) Pride and Prejudice and are doing an awesome job. I love the modern interpretation, the characters are awesome and spot on, and it's produced by Hank Green. Yay Lizzie! It is fun to watch it from the beginning - but this is going to be a long production, start watching soon, we're already past 50 videos and maybe half way through the book. Lizzie Bennett Playlist

When I Have Time: These are the videos that used to be watched religiously every week and I still love them, but they have been regulated to the back burner because of time issues. Whenever I watch one of these I remember the pure awesomeness and have to question why I don't watch it every week. 

- Crash Course - John Green's world history youtube channel; I have to admit - I'm not even sure if he's still updating weekly on this - it has been so long since I've checked in. I used to watch this every week without fail. He's awesome, the history is interesting, and, I mean, seriously, who doesn't love a good crack about the Mongols? But at 10-12 minutes a pop, I just can't commit. I need to try again. Crash Course: The Renaissance

- The Flog - Again, I used to watch this every week. I love every aspect of this show: I love her fave fives or top three, or whatever it is now, the skill set is always hilarious, and her letters at the end are amazing. Why am I not watching this all the time? No idea - just doesn't happen. Watch the flog - remind me why it is so freakin' amazing. The Flog

When I Want to Waste an Amazing Amount of Time: These are my go to's when I have hours to kill (or not, I just think I do) and I want to watch something on the computer for some reason. 

- Starkid - LOVE does not begin to describe my feelings for Starkid. They rock. I love the Harry Potter musicals, I love Little White Lie, I love Me and My Dick (yes, it really is about what it says), I love Starship, and I love Holy Musical Batman. I also think anything any of them do is amazing - I could watch Potion Master's Corner all day. When I want to waste serious amounts of time, I go to Starkid. Starkid's Amazing Videos

- The Guild - NEW SEASON!! Just started this week - super awesome. The availability of The Guild makes it doubly appealing. I can watch it on Netflix, they recently combined all the short videos into one long video and added annotations!! Seriously, that made me go back and watch the series from the beginning. 

- Karaoke Soundtracks - seriously, my favorite things ever. I love the ones with lyrics - who needs a karaoke machine when youtube exists. I think my favorite time doing this was with the chorus kids; this is literally how they practice for auditions. Brilliant! 

Recent Interests I Think are Kinda Fun: New stuff that could last...

- Itswaypastmybedtime - She seriously has a song about being a Disney Princess. Enough said. Disney Princess Song

- Alex Day and Charlieissocoollike - Funny boys that make fun of Twilight and 50 Shades and love Doctor Who are worth putting on any list. Charlie's Doctor Who Video

Things I'll Occasionally Check on: They don't always put out something awesome, but it is always worth checking...

 - HISHE - How It Should Have Ended has Super Cafe with Superman and Batman. It is pure awesome. The other videos are pretty funny too - Harry Potter and Hunger Games are both favs. SuperCafe: Batphone

- The Nerdist - I prefer the show on BBCAmerica, but occasionally they'll post something amazing that is worth a look. Watch the appeal to nonwhovians by Chris Hardwick. Oh my gosh - love it!Watch Me! New to Who

- Potter Puppet Pals - The Ticking Noise is still the best thing they've put out, but the others are funny too. The one with Draco and the things he likes is pretty much pure hilarity.