Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Tiger Saga- Book Series Review


For Otherworld Saturday (Otherworld to us means anything other than Whedon and Harry Potter, fyi), I’d like to review the YA book series The Tiger Saga by Colleen Houck.  I was directed to this series by a couple of my 8th graders last year, and it’s right in my wheelhouse.  I love these fantasy stories- but only when the authors pull it off.  I also appreciate originality, which is a rare find in today’s Young Adult genre.  There are four books in this series and I just finished the fourth and final book yesterday.  The books include Tiger’s Curse, Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Voyage, and Tiger’s Destiny.  The final book was released a couple of weeks ago. 




Basic Summary- (Light spoilers, nothing you couldn't get from the backs of the books, other than book one.) 

This is a contemporary story about a girl, Kelsey, who inadvertently stumbles upon a cursed tiger.  She is older than most heroines in the genre at 20, so I automatically appreciate this.  Our leading lady isn’t giving up school or abandoning her future for a guy at any point in this series. Kelsey is ready for adventure.   Kelsey, “through a series of strange circumstances” (thanks WDW Beauty & the Beast show for that shortcut statement), finds herself the savior of not one, but two ancient Indian princes who’ve been cursed to live their lives as immortal tigers.  They can spend a small part of their day as a human, which connected me with the Polar Bear King story.  For some reason I’ve always loved that story. (Check out my reviews of East and  Ice, two stories retelling the Polar Bear King legend.) The Tiger books are stories big on adventure, as Kelsey and her tigers must complete a series of tasks to try to defeat a powerful villain and break the curse.

A modern style retelling of
The Polar Bear King
A very classic, fairy tale
version of The Polar Bear King


My Review-
I enjoyed these books.  They are not my favorite that I’ve ever read, but they make an interesting read.  I don’t hate Kelsey, and I enjoy that for the most part she’s the savior, not the damsel in distress.  I thought book one, Tiger’s Curse, was great.  I do believe it’s the high point of the series.  The set up was fantastic, and the characters were vivid.  I got a little lost in the second and third books.  That generally means I started skimming.  I have a tendency to do that in books where the plots are less than captivating.  I did not really care about the tasks set up in these books, since I knew the general outcome.  They had to be mostly successful in order to make it to the next task, so there was minimal anticipation.  These books were also featuring my main problem with this series, which I’ll get into in my rant in a moment.

Lord of the Rings, giving me my well
deserved, detailed conclusion.
Thank you.
I did get back into the series with the fourth book, because I was intrigued by the many possibilities that could conclude the adventure.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I judge a book (and many other things) by its ending. I want a decisive ending with lots of details.  Endings should be proportionate to the story. If you spend 90 minutes on a story, give me a 3-5 minute ending.  If you spent hours and hours on a story, I want a drawn out ending (think Lord of the Rings here).  To conclude on that point, I was extremely satisfied by the ending of the book.

The writing is good.  Not spectacularly amazing, but good.  I am done looking at terrible writing in YA novels.  I have high expectations, and this one was fairly successful.  At no point was there anything stated in the book that was distractingly bad or completely ridiculous.  I believe that there was a great deal of research done on religion and mythology throughout the story, and I appreciate that.  With casual references to Shakespeare and William Blake littering the pages, I can’t help but appreciate the homage to classic literature.  It automatically makes you appreciate the author’s good taste, and it gives me hope that teens reading it are just maybe becoming familiar with something I love.

My Rant-
My true issue with these books is prominent in the second and third book, while dragging into the fourth. Fortunately the fourth book has other interesting things happening, so it wasn’t as annoying.  Why must Kelsey love two men?  Why is this an okay thing?  A teenage girl would never tolerate a book series where the boy was blatantly in love with two likeable girls. That would label him a player, or at the least not boyfriend material.  That has all the makings of a tragedy, and that is not what this book is aiming for.  For unknown reasons, it is perfectly acceptable to readers that this girl loves both of these boys, and the boys must both patiently adore her while she wavers back and forth, otherwise they’ll be labeled the bad guy.  She literally imagines herself with one while she’s with another.  It’s sad, and I hate that such an otherwise enjoyable book condones such behavior.  It’s basically teaching that emotionally cheating on the person you are with is fine.  No worries.  I completely blame Twilight for this.  This ridiculous “one girl, two guys” theme has flooded our culture and I am over it.  I know that occasionally that may be the plot, but I’m finding it over and over and over and over… and never with genders reversed.  Does this not bother anyone else?




Final Words-
This series was NOT a series that I couldn’t put down.  More than once I walked away and didn’t come back for a day or two.  What is rare is that I came back at all.  Usually if I put a book down for more than an hour I’m unlikely to be coming back. The characters were well written and the premise itself was fun and exciting.  If I can look past the clich├ęd romantic plot, I call this a pretty good series.  By the way, it isn’t just for girls.  I’ve had twice as many 8th grade boys check this book out as girls.  I think it’s because of excellent cover art, which appears to be designed by Katrina Damkoehler. 

If you enjoy a good paranormal adventure/romance story, this is a much better pick than most things on the YA shelf today.

Stay Shiny!
Kristin

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Buffy in Review- The Harvest


As a note to anyone reading this, the below review is written as a “re-watch” review and is chock full of spoilers from throughout the entire series.   I want to take a look at the beginning with the end in mind, so reader should be aware.   This is the conclusion of the two-part premiere, so click here to read the review of Welcome to the Hellmouth.

Picking up where we left off last week, I hear the voice overview explaining the Chosen One.  I’ve always known that the first season that is done by someone other than Giles.    I inexplicably want to know whose voice that is.  Light research did not produce an answer.  Eventually I may take the time to figure this one out.  

Within seconds the danger from Luke is over.  He burns his hand on the cross, demonstrating a specific way to defend against a vampire.  I love that Buffy is wearing the necklace she got earlier in the evening from Angel. It’s kind of like the first time Angel helps with a rescue.  (I don’t like the idea of Angel being Buffy’s rescuer in any physical sense, but he can “help.”) 

Outside of the crypt, Buffy steps in to save Willow and manages to help out Xander as well.   Jesse is lost to them at this point.  Panic does not seem to set in enough for them here. If my best friend were taken by demons I would be seriously screaming in panic.  I suppose this is why Willow & Xander get to be scoobies, and not me.  I’ll work on it, I promise! 

Giles & His Globe
Giles and his globe.  This is back-story that establishes the lore of the show.  “The old ones” roamed the earth.  The last demon to leave our reality fed off a human, and the human was infected with the demon’s soul.  The soul of a demon inhabits a vampire, not the human soul.  Everyone watching knows that this is a major part of Buffy mythology, but I’ve never paid such close attention to the soul reference before.  I love how Joss establishes everything so early on!  

I like how we go straight into the Master at this point.  Info gets thrown in very smoothly here, in a different, elevated dialogue.  The dialogue of the vampires definitely creates that contrast between them and the teenagers.  Joss uses language so deliberately throughout his story telling, and this is case in point.  The Master says that he’s been waiting three score years.  That would be sixty years. (Thank you Lincoln for assuring that I know how much a “score” actually is.)  He doesn’t just come right out and say sixty, that’s too easy.  Also, he doesn’t say ‘church,’ he says “house of worship.”  He reads as old and dry as he looks.   The Master keeps mentioning his ascension, and I keep imagining him as a giant snake…

Willow does demonstrate a bit of panic here, which I approve of.  She then gets over it and demonstrates her tech geek awesomeness.  Giles takes a moment to be “a bit British,” and refers to the computer as a “dread machine.”  I’m thinking this is a "grown-up" librarian thing, not a British thing.  I happen to be a fan of a very scientifically advanced British show.


Xander has his first moment of feeling at a loss when Willow gets her research list, Buffy’s off hunting Jesse, and he is left “standing.”  Buffy ventures back to the tomb of attack now that it’s daylight, and Angel steps out of the shadows. It’s a little strange to see him moving around in the light of day.  It’s not until later in the season where vamps start being around a lot during the day.  Again, I’m wondering what people thought of him before he was “out” as a vamp.  He just embodies the talk, dark, and handsome vampire to me.  Anyway, I very much enjoy their exchange here.  He admits to being afraid and encourages Buffy not to go into the tunnels.  It’s like he wants to help and hasn’t figured out how yet, which works so well with what we find out about how he ended up in Sunnydale in the first place.

Meet Harmony
My favorite part of the computer scene is getting to see Harmony.  I didn’t realize she was there that early on.  We also get reminded of how horrid a human being Cordelia is, then have a happy moment when Willow makes her life a bit worse before cutting back to the sewers.  Xander follows Buffy down into the abyss and introduces her to Jesse with the awesome like “It’s okay, Buffy’s a superhero.”  Thank you Joss for that.  The term ‘superhero’ makes you think of these amazing classic heroes like Batman and Superman, and Buffy is equally as awesome.  Also, at the end of their little adventure Xander pulls Buffy out, so he proves helpful, just as he always does.

The Master has his creepy moment with his minions, then we move to the Scooby Gang and hear the “Hellmouth” referred to for the first time.  After their pow-wow moment, they have the iconic exit move from the library.  It’s fun to see it in context.

Exiting the library.
Entering a cult obsession.
These scenes with Buffy’s mom are so much more interesting in retrospect.  I see Whedon spelling out the parellels to real life as Joyce tells Buffy that she knows the world will end if Buffy can’t go out with her friends.  “Everything feels like life or death when you’re a sixteen year old girl.” We all can relate to Buffy, because even though we’re not saving the world when we’re solving a crisis in our own lives, we feel like we are.  Buffy lives out the horror and the chaos in life through physical demons, and it’s cathartic for me to watch.

The Bronze is under attack!  What a shock! Why do people keep coming to the Bronze?  Surely they understand it’s a death trap.  I do like that this scene brings the serious bad out of the underground and ancient crypts, and into the contemporary “real” life.  Buffy escapes from her house to save the world and steps in just in time to save Cordelia and show off her amazingness to the entire Bronze.  You’d think that afterward people would remember that they had a superhero in their midst.  Xander (almost accidently) takes out Jesse, which I really feel should be a lot more traumatizing than it is. 

Not Angel at his most useful.
Who do you think this is warning?
Angel steps out of the shadows as the last vamp leaves, with the comment, “She did it.  I’ll be damned.”  Where was he during this fight?  Seriously, he can’t lend a hand? Thank goodness he helped her out with the necklace, but honestly it's his only redeeming quality this episode, and I don't remember him existing in the next two.  He might, but I don't really remember him.  Anyway, I do love that as he moves away from the door we see behind him the sign “WATCH YOUR STEP.”  Ah, foreshadowing.  But who do we think it’s warning?


The world is doomed.
The ending of the episode is one of my favorite moments in the hour.  Xander’s last line at the Bronze was the phrase “Nothing’s going to be same,”  before cutting straight to a completely normal looking school day.  Giles points out that the trio may be up against other things than just vampires, which Buffy, Xander, & Willow take very seriously.  Or not. They just sort of blow off before wandering away with pointless banter.  I can see the series finale right in front of me as Giles admits that “The Earth is doomed.”  It’s an awesome moment and I can’t believe that I haven’t watched it in so long.  If you can’t imagine it this moment, go to hulu or netflix and watch it now, because it’s just great. (I did a quick look on Youtube for a clip, but I wasn't successful.)

Coming soon- I’ll be reviewing Witch next week.  It may not be a landmark episode on the Buffy timeline, but it was an episode that I always remembered.  I’m pretty excited about rewatching it, so it ought to fun.

Stay Shiny!
Kristin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How I Love Entertainment Weekly... let me count the ways

So, for Today in Fandom, I wanted to discuss my love for Entertainment Weekly. Technically I didn't get my copy of EW today, but since I saw this amazing video from their site today, I figured it was a great topic.
The awesome video that led to today's topic: 

Isn't it pretty? I think I just gazed
at it's beautifulness for about
5 minutes before reading anything.
I love Entertainment Weekly; I've subscribed to the magazine since 2004 and have never missed an issue. As the years have gone by, I’ve realized that the people who work at EW have amazing taste – pretty much because it’s the same as my taste. We will occasionally disagree, EW and I, but I usually chock that up to me not having a direct influence over their decisions. (Just saying, Thor got an A. I’ll leave it at that.)

Now, I know Kristin actually checks the site more than I do (I’m usually good with just the magazine), but on occasion I do head over to EW.com and take advantage of the amazing recaps , reviews, etc available. It is how I “watch” American Idol at this point if I feel like catching up. The website is usually good for a decent hour or so of procrastinating – BEWARE, it is addictive. As is the magazine actually; there was a time when I was not to be interrupted when EW showed up in the house. And I’ve gotten better about throwing the magazine away after a week or two. They used to make me look like I should be on an episode of Hoarders.

Anyway, I wanted to list some of my favorites from EW over the years, so here we go…

My Top 5 Favorite Issues/Articles from Entertainment Weekly:

#1: The Doctor Who issue – I call it that because Matt Smith was on the cover, but it was beautiful. The Tardis picture and the cover are currently laminated in my classroom. (Next to the Katniss picture from EW of course.) And the article on The Doctor... 10 glorious pages (pretty lengthy) with great stuff for classic and new whovians written by a whovian. Pretty much the perfect article. And following it was an article about other cult shows - so that's pretty awesome too.

Love it.
Almost too much. 
#2: Stephen King in a funny mood. He used to do guest articles; no more I’m afraid. He always had wonderful things to say about Harry Potter and his article about Junior Mints was hilarious!

#3: Any Twilight interview – oh my gosh, hilarious. I hate that they grace the cover of the magazine, but the interviews are so stinkin’ funny.

#4: Harry Potter covers – I keep them in my den; the others get thrown away, but never Harry. I do have to admit they may have done a few too many Harry covers for some people, but not this person. Their all Harry issue was divine.

#5: Soundbites – even now I want to cut them out and make a collage. Although when I personally heard each one on TV, it does make me think I need to reevaluate my priorities.

Oh, Entertainment Weekly, I love you and the joy you bring me when you magically appear in my mailbox Friday afternoon!

DFTBA!
Jana

Castle's Back!

So Today in Fandom I watched the Castle season premiere!  For the record, I do not have cable in my house.  I'm watching things the next night, so other than my excursions to the homes of friends and family for Doctor Who, others may see things ahead of me.  I decided I can live with that.

Entertainment Weekly image- my favorite Castle pic ever!
My thoughts on Castle before watching the premiere- 

I did not watch the last few episodes of Castle until very late in the summer.  I have watched every episode since the series premiere, but I often let it collect in my hulu queue and watch it some low-key weekend in chunks.  I have discovered over the years that I do not love episodes that are exclusively about the murder of Kate's mom.  I love Kate & Castle no matter the situation, but I get bored with the never ending plot.  I much prefer episodic solve a crime episodes.  Whether they are together or not, I want them to make progress.  I do not like endless drama without resolution.  It isn't always required within the episode, but it's preferred.  I do require resolution by the end of a season!  (Although honestly, I will take Nathan Fillion any way I get him...)  

And now for the premiere-


Great new moment- Beckett easily seeking and accepting
comfort from Castle.  Even he becomes aware this is
touching and new.
Now that I've babbled about Castle in general, on to this particular episode.  I've been waiting on it obviously to see how Kate and Castle are after their night together.  I thought that were cute in their moments together throughout the hour, but I struggled to care about the plot of the episode. I can't wait to get back to solving cases. Thirty-five minutes in, and I'm praying Kate does whatever she's going to do just so this ends.  It's well acted. It's well written.  It's well done all around.  I'm OVER it.  Castle can't be cute and funny and Kate can't be teasing and snarky when they're making personal life and death decisions.   

I did love the moment when Kate realizes that she can't escape and Castle asks if he can just take her away.  There's no personal tension, no heartbreak, no conflict between them, and this moment demonstrates the main change in their relationship.  She leans against him, and lets him hold her.  They give and take comfort, without worrying about how the other feels (at least for now).  But back to Kate- does she take out the threat and find security and safety, albeit throwing away her career, all she stands for, and probably her life? Can we rap this up? 

And nope.  Not entirely resolved.  As the chief said, "It seems to be the gift that keeps on giving."  Thank goodness they established a scenario that allows next week get back to normal. Yay!  And for the record, I'm totally fine having them together.  They can be fun and tease.  I like it better than wistful looks and broken hearts.  There is potential now for it to be lighter and more fun than it's been in ages.  I'm very much looking forward to this season.


Beckett teasing Castle in the elevator at the
conclusion of the episode- this bodes well for the season!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book vs. Movie - Chamber of Secrets


I'm so excited that Kristin is going to reread the Harry Potter series. It is always worth a reread! Since I just reread some Tamora Pierce this summer, I feel like we're staying true to our original challenge! lol

To continue what I started last week, today I will compare the book and movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Book
This was the book that made me fall in love with the HP series. The humor, the darker storyline, Harry's questioning of himself, and the glimpse (very small one) of some romance made this novel well worth reading. On a reread this book becomes vitally important as well. Things you just take as they are become a huge part of the series - from Dobby to Voldemort's past to Lockhart to Griffindor's sword to the diary to the Chamber itself - they all come back in some way or another. We also get Ginny - adding humor and romance at the same time. And... I just like Ginny - she's kinda awesome. 
I also thought that the storyline about Harry possibly being the heir of Slytherin was very well played out in this book. At 12 (the age Harry was in this book), kids do not know who they are; they're still trying to figure it out. The fact that Harry has this extra element  - he could possibly be evil - just adds to this confusion. He has so many people against him, but Ron and Hermione are by his side - even if it means having to face giant spiders or having to being petrified. I think it was in CoS that the trio friendship was really cemented. 

The Movie
Chris Columbus will always get my respect for staying true to the books - he really made the effort to make sure he showed all the important moments and I feel like he did them justice. The acting is still a little weak, but the storyline comes across well and the special effects are pretty good for 2001. I really liked Lockhart - he was perfect. The flying car and the whomping willow were great. And the chamber at the end was spot on. If anything was a problem, it would be that we couldn't really be in Harry's head. In the first book/movie that wasn't a huge problem, but now, when he's being accused and he can't figure out himself - I really wanted to be in his head a little bit. The book makes this possible, the movie... doesn't. That will always be a complaint about the different formats, but it is always hard to wrap my head around. 
And where was the Deathday Party? That probably would not have looked too great, but still - how cool would that be to see?
Issues
Too long! Believe me that will never again be a complaint about a HP movie, but CoS was too long - I can never make it all the way to the end.
Not many - I feel like the book and movie work very well together. I mean, I do hate Daniel Radcliffe's hair, but that may not be worthy of complaint. 

My Big Whiny Complaint: 
In the movie there was not enough time with the Dursleys at the beginning - my favorite scene in the book and in the series at the time when I read this was completely left out!  When Vernon is going through family duties and Harry keeps saying, "I'll be in my room, making no noise, and pretending I don't exist." It's so sad and funny and it was perfect timing. Such a 12 year old comment - I loved it. I literally laughed out loud and realized that I was in love with the series at that moment. I know it seems weird, but that was what did it for me. That perfect blend of sadness and humor - the movie was missing that.  
I feel like that really is the point that is missing from the movies - that feeling you get when you really connect with Harry - we're just outsiders in the movies, in the book, I'm experiencing everything myself.


DFTBA!
Jana

Rereading Harry Potter

Rereading Harry Potter from the very beginning
I am planning on rereading the Harry Potter series. I know I'm already rewatching Buffy, but that's actually not as big of a deal as this is.  I've rewatched Buffy in it's entirety at minimum five times, and that's beginning to end.  I've seen seasons in the middle several times, and who knows how many times I've rewatched favorite episodes.

I have read the Harry Potter series exactly one time.  I am aware that that's sad.  I've reread multiple Tamora Pierce series upwards of ten times, and I reread almost every book I like right away.  I like to relive an amazing moment. 


Slytherins I don't really aim
to be associated with
I don't really understand my hesitation to reread this.  I work in a school- I may not own all the books, but I can get them in seconds.  I think my hesitation is the same as it's been to fully embrace the series.  The first time I read it, they weren't characters who were new to me, they were already somebody else's and I was just reading along after them.  I can't relive certain moments, because I didn't feel like I was present for most of it to begin with.  This is just my weird, quirky, thing.    I believe that my interest would improve with repeated readings, as they have with rewatching Blink (Doctor Who).  I forget my first viewing and just anticipate what I already know.   Plus, this time I'll know I'm Slytherin, so maybe I'll notice some new things with my fresh perspective.






Anyway, I'm starting with The Sorcerer's Stone and doing a complete reread.  I may not be as consistent as I would like with my comments on here, but I hope it'll be fun documenting along the way!



Stay Shiny!
Kristin

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An Anticlimactic Invasion- Doctor 7.4 Review

I know my Pacey picture is dreamy and should just replace all other pictures in the blog (or at least stay at the top longer than 24 hours)... but we've got to get a new Doctor review up and running!

So... The Power of Three. Can I just start with that? I thought that Power of Three crap was incredibly annoying - didn't like it. The beginning and the end, with Amy narrating, ugh. It's also the third (so 3 out of 4) episodes beginning with narration.  On the upside, at least it was Amy.  The other two have been from characters irrelevant to the story line. It seems like it's supposed to make you feel like something epic is happening, but I'm not sure that it followed through.   


The setup of this episode was interesting. The year of the slow invasion; when the doctor came to stay.  I liked that it went through the whole year (year and a half?), but was left wondering - when did this happen in reference to what we've seen this season? Are these events occuring in the order we've viewed them?  Is it possible that this is before a Pond Life? It seems like it's after Dinosaurs on a Spaceship because Mr. Weasley (sorry, but that's who he is) knew the Doctor. I read an interesting theory stating that the Doctor is working backwards through his time with Amy and Rory... the Henry the 8th comment from "The Town Called Mercy" and then seeing the Henry the 8th situation in "The Power of Three" made me think we were definitely on wibbly wobbly time now.


A rather confusing villian
I hated the stupid cubes; ick. I'd rather have a freakin' Dalek or Cyberman. Even an adipose was better than those stupid things. And that villain? Who was that? I hope that there is some history there that I'm unaware of, or that they're coming back.  We had tons of time spent on setting up this world-wide problem, and then it just ended.  Why did the humans need to be wiped out?  Who set that in motion? And whatever started it,  surely we did not actually solve this damn cube crisis with the pressing of like three buttons. Come ON!!  Waving a sonic screwdriver at something may help find a solution, but it is not an "Easy Button" that simply solved the entire crisis.  It brought people back to life, defeated the villain, and saved the Earth?  Seriously?  It was anticlimactic and confusing.


Kate & the Doctor
I adored the references to the past though - the fact that UNIT was back, that the head of UNIT was Brigadier's daughter - LOVE! Making me applaud our efforts in learning about Doctors 1-8 even more. (We will so have to go into that when we're done analyzing next week!) The comment about the companions - obviously not just about Rose and Martha and Donna (which haven't been mentioned in 2 seasons anyway), made me want to cry and cheer at the same time. Finally, some history of the Doctor being brought in! About time Steve Moffatt!! Thank you!!

I know we're in for a set up next week.  Obviously the Ponds are not going to choose to go gently in to that good night, so it's going to be special and I'm certain, even as ready as I am, that tears will be involved. I didn't realize how sad I would be until I read that the last scene the trio actually filmed was from this episode.  The final moment from the hour, the three waving good-bye as they stepped into the Tardis, was the final shot filmed with Amy, Rory, & the Doctor together.  It made me sad to think of that, and I know next week is coming on strong.

Rory, The Doctor, & Amy in their final shot

I actually peeked at next week (some people on this blog work hard not to watch "next time on..."); not going to say a thing, but I think we're in for a monumental episode. I think this is on Silence in the Library, Blink proportions people. Everything's been building to this episode and I think some of the confusion (because Lord knows it can't ever all be sorted out) will be put to rest.

DFTBA & Stay Shiny!

Jana & Kristin

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Pacey Complex

Who doesn't want a boy to look at you like that?
For Otherworld Saturday, I want to post about my love for the "Pacey" character. Let me clarify... Pacey (from Dawson's Creek) is the epitome of everything I love in a male character that is supposed to be my age. So naturally, I find "Paceys" everywhere in literature, movies, TV, etc. This is something I realized over time. I would find myself adoring a character and realized - It's because he's a Pacey. Of course. Now - I just figure out which one is supposed to be the Pacey and begin loving him immediately.

So, first - the characteristics:
Chandler's wit and weird childhood totally
make him a Pacey.
1. Misunderstood - he's really smart, but doesn't want to apply himself; he feels left out of the group and makes up for it by acting out. Poor misunderstood Pacey :(

2. The Best Friend - he's never the main character. A show about a Pacey doesn't last; he's the best friend of the main character - the one who comes up with the scheme, but never actually gets the credit. He's in the shadows and will occasionally resent it.


3. Witty - he's the funny one; sometimes sarcastic, sometimes stupid-funny, but always the character with the quip.



Jim just made a possible mistake on The Office.
I hope he makes it a success! 
4. Acts strong, but is very sensitive - He puts up a front, but will break. He just wants to be loved people! And when he loves you - wow, he's the best boy there could ever be.

5. Always falls for the girl he really shouldn't get - he aims above his status; he will get the girl sometimes because he is so witty and sensitive and misunderstood, but there will always be drama.



Oh Ron... 
6. Loyal - almost to a fault. If he does betray his bestie, he will spent the rest of the movie, book, series, etc trying to make up for this ultimate sin.


Cappy as Prince Charming! 
7. Makes mistakes - a lot; fails class, says the wrong thing, gets in trouble, tries to help and ends up making things worse, and will without a doubt, screw it up with the girl.

8. Surprises everyone - he might fall off the grid for a little while, but will come back and be the success. It's the growing up that makes a Pacey a man! (Then the show can be about him! lol) 

Just writing about him, makes me love him all the more!

Obviously Pacey is a Pacey, but we've also got: Xander (BtVS), Ron (HP), Wash (Firefly), Edmund (Chronicles of Narnia), Cappy (Greek), Nick (New Girl), Puck (Glee), Ben (Parks and Rec), Jim (The Office), George (Alanna books), Peeta (Hunger Games), Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables), Steve (Sex and the City), Chandler (Friends). 


The list can go on and on. The Pacey character is everywhere and he will always be my favorite! :)


DFTBA!

Jana

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buffy in Review- Welcome to the Hellmouth


For Whedonverse Thursdays I’m going to offer a closer look at significant episodes throughout the series.  Yes, this could take a while.   Yes, I may skip over a few.  I plan to mention most episodes, while being in-depth with my reviews from the perspective of a well versed fan on a rewatch.  Here goes the walk-through.

First scene of BTVS, featuring Darla
Of course we’ll be beginning with the premiere, Welcome to the Hellmouth.  It begins with Darla walking into the abandoned school, acting unsure, until her somewhat threatening companion suddenly turns into dinner.  Of course on this rewatch we know it’s Darla, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen the school girl outfit.  It’s kind of fun to see her and try to imagine her helpless. 

The first moments with Buffy are spent in her dreams.  Before we ever meet her, we see that inside her head are dark and frightening images.  This contrasts with the rest of the room and a cheerful Joyce, but our first encounter with Buffy is actually with her unconscious, and that’s a dark scary place.  Also, as a rewatcher we know that those images are from her future, so we’re also seeing that her dreams can be prophetic.

The influx of the 90s wardrobe is immediate upon arrival at school, but it’s not the focus.  I guess I don’t find it all that distracting.  What was way more distracting was Xander on a skateboard.  I’m okay with how that did not last.  The unique Buffy-esque dialogue also hit hard and fast, with such classic quotes & phrases as “The library. Where the books live,” from Willow explaining to Xander where he could find a math book, and Xander’s questioning of Jesse “What’s the sitch?”    

Jesse, played by Eric Balfour
Ah, Jesse.  So rarely to be heard about in the later years.  It’s hard to believe in the three musketeers of Willow, Xander, & Jesse when in the many times the Xander/Willow younger days are discussed, no one ever mentions him.  Also, they are just not broken up very long about the tragic death of their lifelong friend.

Principal Flutie is then impressed by Buffy’s history- enough to tape it back together.  The memory of Flutie fades in the wake of Snyder’s dominant personality.

Oh, Xander’s first line to Buffy- “Can I have you?”  I love that. Of course, the answer is ‘sorry but no,’ to the eternal sadness of a few hopeful fans.  I was never personally a big believer that Xander was somewhere Buffy needed to go.  Xander is too real and grounded for Buffy.   This is a conversation for another post.

Xander then picks up the stake that fell out of Buffy’s bag.  If she’s so moved on, as evidenced when she reacts to Giles, why is she carrying weapons?  So we’ve met Xander, now onto Cordelia.


(9:40) Okay, Cordy’s coolness test?  Did they seriously love James Spader?  Apparently he needs to call Buffy.  I wasn’t even sure who that was, so here you go.  And seriously, who is John Tesh?  Buffy, who’s seen real demons, is calling him the devil.  I read his Wikipedia article, but that didn’t really solve it for me.   Is this even the right guy?  Is it just me? I was watching this in the 6th grade, so I took it for granted when I didn’t know these people, but I still have no idea. 

The book the Slayer needs immediately, but never again.
(12:10)Marking through introduction of other main characters, we can check off Giles with Buffy’s visit to the library.  I love how Giles throws that Vampyr book down in front of Buffy without even saying who he is.   Exactly why did he believe that she needed that particular book?  Is it the handbook mentioned by Kendra later? Do we see it again? I plan to be on the lookout, because apparently the Slayer was coming to Sunnydale and the first thing she would want would be that exact book! 

Onto our first dead body.  Okay, why do we never see the girls in the locker room again?  We could have missed out on Aphrodesia (sp?) being the best vapid Sunnydale student turned demon ever! (Sorry Harmony.) And that other girl can scream.  We hear in the next scene or name is Ora (sp?).

Meeting Willow, where we learn that the library gives Buffy “the wiggins.”  I totally picked up that word in middle school.  Things wigged me out and gave me the wiggins all the time.   Buffy, upon seeing the dead body, runs to Giles and declares that she doesn’t care. 

I completely love this scene.  Listening to Buffy, I realize that Sarah Michelle Gellar already had a fully developed Buffy down pat.  Anthony Stewart Head is there as Giles, too.  The music is just a bit corny, and it might be my personal sense of nostalgia, but by this point I am fully invested.  I understand Buffy’s plight as a normal girl, and despite not having seen her do anything yet, I believe in her strength.  I believe that she could take on some vamps and hold her own.  Of course, Xander overhears about her slayage at this point.

Our first view real of the vampires is the ritualistic Master and his minions.  It’s very different and detached from reality.  I like it more a bit later in the series when the big bads can blend a little better into day to day life, and you can relate a little more to them.

Angel, played by David Boreanez
(24:30) Oh, Angel.  He seems so young here. I watch Bones, so he is 16 years younger in this moment.  I have spent more than half my life in love with this guy.   I ADORE that their first moment is Buffy taking him out.  She holds the power from minute one.  I also love that his first comment to her is sarcastic.  His shirt is disturbingly shiny here.  What is it made out of?  He is pretty hot, though.  Surprise.  I do enjoy this scene- just a taste.  He doesn’t have the ancient feel of the Master and crew or the Vampyr tome of Giles, or the same vibe as the ultra-trendy high school hallways. He stands out against that backdrop, offering something different and intriguing.   We see the necklace he gives her at this moment.  It definitely shows that Angel wants to keep her safe, even if she found him “annoying” and “really didn’t like him.”  (Twilight note- proper response to lurking stalkers.)


Giles being a creeper
Entering the Bronze.  I’ll analyze the Bronze itself another time.  Are there many bars that let in fifteen year olds in reality?  I love seeing Giles just lurking in the upper levels, concerned because Buffy “didn’t hone” (32:00).

The Master and Luke are not all that interesting to me.  I mean, it’s interesting that the Master doesn’t ever look normal, but I don’t love him. It’s so much better when you love the bad guy. 

We’ve reached the crisis moment.  Willow and a snacked upon Jesse are at dragged into a crypt, and we have a corny moment when Darla transforms “to feed!”  I like how Darla contrasts her soft and hard so much in her human and vamp forms.  She seems so sweet human form, and so hard when she asks Buffy “Who the hell are you?”  (38:00). This all leads to our first dusting.  I love this whole easy clean-up method set up by Joss.  I remember when I saw the movie later and I could not figure out why the dead vamps were still lying around.  Wouldn’t people notice?  It’s so much easier to believe that the people of Sunnydale live in ignorant bliss when the vamps can be gotten rid of with so little trail.

I enjoy that Buffy has a past, though.  I like a stronger Buffy who already knows what’s up.  I know Joss would have done a wonderful job, but I’m glad I don’t have to wait to see a Buffy who can take on the Vessel.   She’s already got an understanding of what’s being asked of her, and we already feel her pain at the life she’s lost. 

We’re going to breaking at this, with Buffy losing her battle with Luke in a typical horror story growl. We’ll pick up next Thursday with a detailed review of The Harvest. 

Favorite Characters in the Whedonverse: Anya

For Whedonverse Thursdays, I've decided to do some character studies on my favorite characters from the Whedonverse. Plot makes a story work, but it's the characters that keep you coming back to the show/book/series. Whedon (and the amazing writers he finds) know characters - they know how to make us love a character and then question that love and then love him/her again. In like 2 minutes. It's kinda awesome. 

My first character is from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - Anya. 

From the moment we first met Anya in "The Wish" in Season 3, I knew we had a character I would like. She changed a little from this first episode; most notably, she wasn't a demon for much longer, but she was always very amusing. I think her history and her fresh perspective on the world as a human were always interesting. 

Anya: I can just hear you in private. "I dislike that Anya. She's newly human, and strangely literal". 
Willow: What? I don't say that. No one says that. No one talks that way.

Anya and Xander - so cute!
Her relationship with Xander is important - Xander had gone for girls that were not equal to him: Buffy would never be able to care about him the way he would need it, Cordelia would always want to seem above him, but Anya - she needed Xander. Sometimes, his role was simply to tell her how to act, but he was able to see past her oddness and love her for herself. I, for one, hated the fact that they didn't end up happy together. It was the right decision for the show, but a little part of me really wanted them together forever. 

Anya was the queen of quirks - from loving money to fearing bunnies, she always had some weird idea or feeling. She always said exactly what was on her mind, which made her the kind of person you could admire. Of course, she was also the kind of person that would make you look at her sideways. (So, I guess I can relate to her pretty well then.) 

But Whedon's characters have depth; Anya, while hilarious and abrupt, was affected emotionally by the things that happened to her and those around her. Since these emotions were so new to her and often confused her, she was, at times, the most relateable. When Buffy's mother died, her reaction and questioning is something a lot of people go through, but would never want to talk about. Her ability to say what she is thinking and feeling, allows an outlet for her emotions and allows the viewer to relate to her more than some of the other characters. 

Anya: Are they gonna cut the body open? 
Willow: Oh my God! Would you just... stop talking? Just... shut your mouth. Please. 
Anya: What am I doing? 
Willow: How can you act like that? 
Anya: Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot? I mean, is that the helpful thing to do? 
Xander: Guys... 
Willow: The way you behave... 
Anya: Nobody will tell me. 
Willow: Because it's not okay for you to be asking these things. 
Anya: But I don't understand. 
[begins to cry

During her confusion in "The Body." 

Anya: I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's- There's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And-and Xander's crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why. 

She's an awesome character and always amused me greatly in my watching of Buffy. She may not have been the most important member of the Scooby gang, but I always enjoy a good Anya line.

DFTBA!

Jana 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

J's Review of Revolution

So, one of the shows I was looking forward to the most this season was Revolution. I watched the premiere the other night and was, to say the least, underwhelmed (that word always makes me think of 10 Things - can you just be whelmed?). 

The premise sounded awesome and J.J. Abrams always comes up with fun stuff. Revolution had these Lost moments (down to the music) and that may have been its downfall - it was trying to hard to attract the Lost crowd. It wanted to impress me too much. Like Lost, I was left with questions - is Nate good or bad, why did Sebastian turn bad, why DID the power go out, and why in the world can't they get it back on? I'm glad I have questions, but I certainly hope, unlike Lost, some of this can be answered soon. I'm also not sure how long they can draw this out - I think we'll all get tired of this "we have no power" thing pretty soon.

I felt like they didn't set up the world very well, but that doesn't surprise me. This is obviously one of those shows where we'll find out the information piece by piece. Seeing as how Revolution is set in areas that Americans will obviously know, I wish they had spent some time on how the power down really affected everyone - what is the world like? I don't just want to know Charlie's perspective - I want to know what happened everywhere. Hopefully, they'll get there.

The other problem with the show was Charlie. For the main character, she was not that developed. She obviously has parental issues, but she is not very interesting. I would much rather watch the story from someone else's perspective. She seems like a very weak Katniss character. And the whole reason anyone likes Katniss is her strength. A weak Katniss - boring. I hate that she bores me because the boys (Miles and her brother) are much more interesting. She could be awesome, but so far, I don't like her. 

Anyway, that's my review of Revolution - I think I'll try another episode or two, in the hopes that it gets better. At least tomorrow, TV will be awesome. New Parks and Rec!! Awesome sauce. 

DFTBA!

Jana