Monthly Archives: September 2010

No Ordinary Cast

Normally, I review the episode of a show, but in the case of “No Ordinary Family,” I’d much rather talk about its extraordinary (pun intended) cast. Warning: minor spoilers ahead.

But to start with, the pilot was freakin’ awesome. I’m a bit of a superhero fanatic, so I’ve been looking forward to the show since I heard about it. For me, it succeeds where “Heroes” failed. I loved “Heroes” in its first season, but it ultimately lost me because I wound up not caring about a single person on the show and the plot was too convoluted.

But within the first 20 minutes, I not only cared about the characters on “No Ordinary Family,” but I liked them. Maybe that’s because, instead of trying to be an action show with a family side story, it is really a family story that just happens to involve superpowers. I think, as the show progresses, it will become symbolic of the difficulties all families face, similar to how “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was an allegory for being a teenager and feeling different and alone.

But like I said, I want to talk about the phenomenal cast. After all, it’s a testament to their abilities that I like the characters so much. And every single one of them is a virtual chameleon.

Michael Chiklis, for example, has played good cop in “The Commish,” bad cop in “The Shield,” and now fledgling-police-sketch-artist-turned-superdude. And it probably sounds like he’s been typecast as a cop, but his characters are so different that to compare them would be like day, dusk, and dead of night. Chiklis is no stranger to being a superhero, having played The Thing in the “Fantastic Four” movies, but he proves his superherodom (superheroness?) in the role of Jim, a man who feels his family drifting apart and who desperately wants to re-solidify their connection, all while fighting crime with his newfound superstrength.

I don’t even know where to start with Julie Benz. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her. I’d have her kids, if I actually wanted kids (and it were physically possible). As the vampire/human/vampire/pregnant vampire Darla on “Buffy” and, more importantly, “Angel,” she stole my heart (and could’ve had my blood, if she’d asked). She’s beautiful, incredibly talented, and has gone from playing evil to a sweet but frazzled mom/scientist as easily as taking off the vampire prosthetic she used to wear (though I suspect its removal actually took a decent amount of time, but I liked the metaphor). Oh, and she can run really fast. I’d love that, since I despise driving.

Kay Panabaker, equally beautiful, caught my attention when she starred on “Summerland,” opposite the likes of Lori Loughlin and Jesse McCartney, but my favorite role of hers happens to be in “Sky High,” another superhero role. But where her character in “Sky High” was used to being a superhero (and superheroes were commonplace in that universe), here, she hates her superpower, because all it does is make being a teen more complicated. Though I have to admit, being able to hear other people’s thoughts could come in handy, especially at that point in life. –Update: Above, I stated that Kay Panabaker starred in Sky High, but that was her sister, Danielle. I apologize profusely and would just like to say, in my defense, that they look very similar and are both beautiful and talented.

Rounding out the family is Jimmy Bennett as younger teen JJ, formerly struggling in school but now supersmart. I know the least about Bennett, having only seen him as the young James Kirk in the reboot of “Star Trek.” I loved him in the part, and, as a lifelong Trekker, loved the reboot in general. I remain impressed with his acting chops here and expect him to become a household name before long, especially if “No Ordinary Family” succeeds as I expect (and hope) it will.

The only other cast member with whom I am familiar is Stephen Collins. I loved him on “7th Heaven,” and here he plays a very different (and far less nice) character. It’ll be interesting to see him play bad. Collins also happens to be a “Star Trek” alum. He starred in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” Again, all very different characters. Not to mention, he can sing, though that has nothing to do with “No Ordinary Family”…at least, not yet.

I will most definitely be tuning in for the next episode and, I suspect, all the episodes that follow. It’s fun, quirky, and I have a feeling it will develop an interesting mythology. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love a show with a good mythology.


Nathan

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I Need a Hero

Goose bumps. That’s what I have after watching the season premiere of “Smallville.” Warning: There be spoilers ahead.

It’s well-known that this is the last season of the show, so Clark’s transformation into Superman is expected to reach its climax. Considering his mother sent him the costume in last season’s finale (we only see the reflection in Clark’s eye), and in the premiere we see it twice directly, first when Lois opens the box and later on a mannequin in a sort of ice cabinet in the Fortress of Solitude, I think that’s pretty much a given. And that, my friends, is why I have the aforementioned goose bumps.

I’ve never followed comics, so my knowledge of the Superman mythos is limited mainly to the movies and “Lois and Clark,” which I loved as a child. Rumor has it Darkseid is the villain this season, and I have literally no clue who he is. But apparently he’s a “great evil.” With a name like Darkseid, who would’ve guessed?

So, Lois knows that Clark’s The Blur. I’m rather torn on this particular development. Obviously, she’s not supposed to find that out so soon, since Lois is supposed to have a relationship with Superman, not just The Blur. Then again, I think it’s necessary, because she’s known pre-glasses Clark for too long. The disguise simply wouldn’t fool her. (Suspending disbelief here and pretending the glasses would fool anyone.)

I find myself wondering what Chloe’s ultimate fate will be. Chloe Sullivan was created specifically for the show, and characters from the future have already acknowledged that while they know all about Clark and Lois, they have no idea who Chloe is, so clearly she’s not a part of his life in the future. She kind of has to be gone by the end. And trading herself for Oliver’s freedom seems to be one step in that direction, as is her whisper of “Goodbye, Clark,” after he zips away. It’s confirmed that Allison Mack will only be appearing in limited episodes this season. I adore Chloe, but I also want her to be gone. I just hope they do it well. Seeing as she’s been a faithful cast member, I think they will. (Side note: Chloe may be Mack’s best-known role, but I’ll always remember her from a cute Dolly Parton made-for-TV Christmas movie called “Unlikely Angel.”)

Lex’s old clone? Not my favorite part of the episode, but I think that’s mainly because I miss Michael Rosenbaum. Seeing as they intend to bring Lex back again, which is only appropriate given his major role in the Superman mythology, I sincerely hope they can get Rosenbaum back. The young Lex didn’t bother me at all, though, and I’m anxious to see what Tess intends to do with him. I like her character, so I’m hoping they end things with her coming to the light. She’s clearly not evil. I think her intentions are noble, but her methods? Not so much.

But thanks to Old-Man-Lex, I got to see what I’ve been waiting for since the start of the show. Clark Kent flew, baby! That’s the part that had me cheering out loud as I watched from my treadmill. (It’s a great treadmill show, I might add.) I was literally shouting, “Come on, Clark, fly! You can fly, man!” And he did! Gah!

I also had a serious fanboy moment when Jonathan appeared at the end, even though I knew he was in the episode, and apparently John Schneider will be making more appearances throughout the season. They’d better get Annette O’Toole back for at least one, as well. Couldn’t care less if they have a Lana moment, though. Actually, I hope they don’t. Never liked her in the first place.

I don’t have much to say about Oliver. I like him, even enjoy him, but I’ve never really cared about him. I think my favorite scenes come when he and Tess are playing off of each other, and I think my ultimate hope would be for them to wind up together. But only when Tess finally starts redeeming herself. But maybe I’m crazy there. I just never really preferred his relationship with Chloe, maybe because I have theories on Chloe’s fate and don’t expect she and Oliver can be together in the end.

Word is that Lois Lane’s mother will make an appearance this season, as well, even though I believe she’s dead. As I doubt she’ll be making a post-mortem appearance like Jonathan, I assume it will be in flashback or something along those lines. And who’s supposedly playing her? Only Teri Freaking Hatcher! (Yes, that’s her full legal name.) Talk about another fanboy moment! Can we get Dean Cain in here somehow, too, and make my life complete?

So, yeah, this was one of the best season premieres ever, in my opinion, of any show, complete with references to the past and glimpses of the future. I love that “Smallville” knows it’s coming to an end. Too many fantastic shows don’t get a proper send-off. (“Angel,” anyone? Or “Sarah Connor Chronicles”? Or “Joan of Arcadia”?) I have the utmost faith in its producers, and I think they’re going to send it off with a bang, possibly even a Hiroshima-style explosion. And I’ll definitely be on the edge of my seat.


Nathan

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The Year’s Last, Loveliest Smile

“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”
Carol Bishop Hipps

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
William Cullen Bryan

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love fall! And as I sit here with my windows closed, with no air conditioner or fan running, wearing pants instead of shorts, I remember exactly how much I love fall.

I have an uncle who gets downright depressed at this time of year, not because he hates the weather, but because he knows winter is just around the corner. But while the thought of winter certainly doesn’t thrill me in the least, since I can do nothing to slow down the passage of time (at least, not until the government finally gives me the plutonium I keep asking for), I intend to enjoy fall for what it is – my favorite season.

I’ve never minded the shorter days. During the week, I’m at work when the sun goes down anyway, so whether it gets dark at 9:00 or 6:00, it makes little difference to me. I don’t even mind when we turn the clocks back. In fact, when I was younger, I used to look forward to it. There’s something cozy about it, I think. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

I look forward to my annual October Scary Movie Weekends. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to persuade some others to join me. Sadly I don’t know many people – and by that, I mean I know one – who like scary movies. My kind of scary, that is, which I described in my post about “Scream.” I think I might make it a theme to blog about more of my favorites all throughout October. Maybe I’ll do a countdown. I love just curling up on the couch in my sweats and watching movies all day, and this weather is pretty much made for that.

How about you? Do you love fall or hate it, and why?


Nathan

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Unexpected Discovery

Don’t you love it when you’re looking up something seemingly mundane and inadvertently discover something awesome? That would be how I found Charlie McDonnell this morning. Now, apparently he’s quite well-known, but since I’d never heard of him, there’s a chance many of you haven’t either. (Ha! See how I made a funny there? I said “many” like I have more than 10 or 15 readers in the first place! Ahh, I kill myself.)

Anyway, here are Charlie McDonnell’s various links:
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/charlieissocoollike
Web: http://charliemcdonnell.com/
Twitter: @coollike


Nathan

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“The Event,” Pilot Episode

Warning, there be major spoilers ahead. And be warned, I wrote this somewhat hastily as I was watching,

“The Event” is being touted as NBC’s answer to show’s like “Lost” and “24.” According to an interview with star Jason Ritter, the show’s mythology and entire storyline is planned out perfectly to last for five seasons. My primary reason for watching the show happens to be Ritter, as I enjoyed him immensely in both CBS’s “Joan of Arcadia” — which was canceled way, way before its time — and “Freddy vs. Jason,” one of my favorite guilty-pleasure movies. Expect separate blog entries about both sometime in the near future, as I’ve intended to write about them for some time now.

I never watched “24” or “Lost,” despite my love for JJ Abrams. “24” just never appealed to me. Decent concept, but it was taken way too far. And “Lost” was, from what I’ve heard, far too confusing. Story on top of story being added without wrapping anything up until, apparently, the finale.

I’ve watched shows with strong mythologies before — “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Alias,” to name a couple. “Buffy” remains one of my favorite series to this day, from start to finish. “Alias,” on the other hand, lost me after the first couple of seasons, and I never watched the final season at all. Where “Buffy” succeeded, for me, was in its self-contained seasons. Each season had an overall arc that was generally wrapped up by the end, leading into the next season’s “big bad.” “Alias” started out as an incredible spy series with fantastic action and compelling characters. Sydney Bristow is absolutely one of my favorite heroines, and Jennifer Garner played her superbly. But unlike “Buffy,” “Alias’s” mythology was, in my opinion, its weakest point. “Alias” wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be — a spy series or a supernatural one — both of which I enjoy — but in its attempt to marry the two, it weakened both.

So I’ll start with “The Event’s” weaker points. For me, that primarily lies in its jumpy timeline. Scenes go from now to 23 minutes earlier to months earlier, back to now, and then back to days or months earlier once more. I am by no means a stupid person, at least not in my opinion. But trying to follow the jumps in time is a bit confusing. I have no doubt that I’ll get used to it, but it will take a little time. I guess I’m a linear person. Perhaps another weak point — though far less annoying to me — is the plot’s slow unraveling. There’s plenty of action to keep you interested, but according to Ritter in an interview, several episodes into filming, due to secrecy, he isn’t yet actually aware of what The Event is, though at least one of his co-stars is. Which makes me wonder how long it will be before we, as the audience, are made aware.

The strengths outweigh the weaknesses, for me. As I already hinted, I think Jason Ritter is star material, which only makes sense, given the fact that he’s the son of the incomparably fantastic John Ritter. It’s really unfair to compare the two, though, because the younger Ritter’s talent clearly stands on its own, unlike some other children of well-established stars. Laura Innes — you probably remember her from “E.R.,” but for me, she will always be the recurring character of Bunny Mather on “Wings” — plays the mysterious Sophia, some sort of prisoner — one of 97, it seems — whose existence is about to be made public by recently inaugurated American President Martinez (Blair Underwood, who happened to make the commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon University the year my cousin graduated, and I attended).

The announcement is interrupted by an airplane, which appears to be on a collision course with them. One of the passengers is Ritter’s character, Sean Walker, who had been trying to stop the plane when he was mistaken by the Air Marshal as a terrorist. Shortly after the marshal stops Sean’s seemingly crazy attempt to stop the plane, a gunshot rings out from the cockpit. Earlier scenes show Sean on vacation with his girlfriend, Leila (played by Sarah Roemer), where he seemingly saves the life of a young woman and makes friends with the girl and her boyfriend. Not sure yet how this ties into everything.

And then there’s Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale), who makes an unsuccessful attempt to stop the plane himself from the ground. And Leila’s family, targeted by a group of people dressed in black near the end of the episode. Leila’s younger sister is kidnapped, and her father then boards the very plane that is seen later barreling towards the ground. Blackmail, you think? Especially since we find out in flashback that Leila’s disappeared, and record of her and Sean’s presence on their cruise ship has vanished, with another couple now in their suite acting as though they’ve been there the entire time. And Leila’s cellphone has been disconnected. Cut to a view of Leila’s house, where a hand is seen in a pool of blood on the floor.

The final moments reveal the plane once again barreling toward the ground, seemingly in an attempt to prevent the President’s press conference, Sean pleading with Mike not to crash this plane.  Suddenly, an energy vortex opens in the sky, swallowing up the plane, and it’s gone. Sophia, now with the President, comments, “They saved us,” and President Martinez wants to know who.

And I’m left desperately wanting to know where the plane is and who took it. The obvious guess is aliens, but I think that’s too obvious. I have no problem whatsoever with obvious, though. I just want to know what The Event is. And I will definitely be tuning in to find out. I’m not quite ready to say I’m hooked, but I am incredibly close.

I don’t plan to review every episode of the series, as I will usually be watching it on my DVR from the treadmill. I just happen to have Mondays off this month. I will likely tweet about it, though, so follow me if you want to keep track of my opinion.


Nathan

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Time of Day

I always say that I am not a morning person. That’s one of the main reasons I work swing shift. But the truth is, the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s really not an accurate statement.

I guess a more appropriate statement would be that I’m not an early morning person. I seriously don’t understand how most people I know get up at 6AM or earlier to get ready for work. I can get up that early occasionally, but to do it every day seems like it would just be torture.

But for as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred daytime. If I’m planning to go out, I’d much rather start around 10 or 11 in the morning. Where most younger people seem to think social life starts after dark, I would rather be finished with my day’s activities by the time the sun sets. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy an occasional night out, mind you. I love going to an evening movie or play. But overall, I’d rather be home in the evening.

I wonder if this stems from my love for TV and wanting to be home to watch the primetime programming when I was younger. More recently, it may also be connected to my work schedule. I’m rarely home on a weekday evening, so when I can be, I find it to be a really enjoyable experience.

I know I’ve definitely never been a night owl. I’ve never spent the entire night out or stayed up all night watching movies. I like sleep entirely too much for that. But I’ve also never been one to sleep much later than 10AM. Go figure.

I guess that means I’m a day person – not quite a morning person, and not a night person.

Fascinating, isn’t it? Or boring, I suppose. It’s a judgment call. 🙂


Nathan

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Fall TV Is Upon Us

Fall is my favorite time of year for the weather, the changing leaves, and — most importantly, of course — the start of the network prime-time season. It’s true that, in recent years, networks, especially cable, have been breaking the fall-to-spring boundaries and having winter/summer seasons, turning out great shows like “Leverage” and “Burn Notice” and the gone-but-not-forgotten “Monk.” But ultimately, the fall season is still the fall season, and I get goosebumps at the mere thought.

So, here’s what I plan to watch this year. Bear in mind, I have to DVR everything and watch them later because I work nights, so don’t spoil anything for me if you watch something and I haven’t.

  • The Event (NBC, 9/20) Jason Ritter stars as a man who uncovers a huge conspiracy. Appears to be a serialized mystery/suspense/action show of sorts, all of which sound good to me!
  • No Ordinary Family (ABC, 9/28) Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Julie Benz (Buffy/Angel) star as the parents in a family who, after surviving a plane crash, discover they’re basically becoming superheroes.
  • Modern Family (ABC, 9/22) I got into this show near the end of last season, and now I can’t wait to see it come back. I typically prefer a more old-fashioned approach to sitcoms, but this — well, this show is just h-i-larious!
  • Nikita (CW, 9/9) I watched the pilot this morning on the treadmill, and I’m hooked. The latest incarnation of La Femme Nikita, about a woman wronged by the agency she used to work for as an assassin, so she decides to get her revenge.
  • The Undercovers (NBC, 9/22) JJ Abrams solidified my admiration with Alias and the reboot of Star Trek (one of the best movies ever). Now he adds this spy show to the mix, which I’m thinking looks a bit like Alias without all the sci-fi/fantasy aspects (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
  • Smallville (CW,  9/24) I am, perhaps, more excited about Smallville’s return than any other show this fall. I lost interest in Smallville for a couple years, but last season got me back! The finale was nothing short of insane, and I can’t wait to see the conclusion. This is officially Smallville’s last season, so expect Clark’s transformation into Superman, which, if you’re anything like me, practically makes you want to squeal with delight.
  • V (ABC, sometime in November) I genuinely enjoyed V last season, and after the cliffhanger finale, waiting till November is killing me!

And here are the shows I may give a chance.

  • Amazing Race 17 (CBS, 9/26) I’ve enjoyed bits and pieces of this show in the past, and as far as I know, I have nothing else to watch on Sunday nights.
  • Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 9/20) A remake/reboot of the classic show. I almost have to watch just to see if they manage to update it successfully.
  • Glee (Fox, 9/21) I may be the only musical fan on the planet who didn’t watch the first season of Glee, aside from bits and pieces. But I love the concept and everything I’ve seen of it, so it’s quite possible this season I’ll become a Gleek.
  • Fringe (Fox,  9/23) As this is also a JJ Abrams show, I watched the first half of the first season of Fringe, but then it lost me. Maybe it’s time to give it another try.
  • Supernatural (CW, 9/24) I watched the first couple seasons, but for some reason I’ve left it behind. That may have been a mistake, given what I’ve heard from fans.

So, there you have it. Why don’t you weigh in? Either leave a Comment or hit me up on Twitter!


Nathan

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