Geek TV Wrap-Up

Once Upon a Time wrapped up its second season this week with an dramatic season finale.  Our flashbacks gave us some glimpse into the past interactions between Hook and Bae, and in the present we got all our villains (Regina, Rumple, and Hook) to show a little goodness on the way to saving Storybrooke.  We still have plenty of questions to be answered next season: Will Bae be ok in the Enchanted Forest?  How did he get out of Neverland to begin with?  What is waiting there for the rest of the characters?  Who exactly is Peter Pan and what does he want with Henry?  I really excited to see more of the other worlds next season…plus, it seems there will be a new spin-off show, set in Wonderland!

In addition, during the finale we saw a quick promo for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., also coming in fall.  Can’t tell too much yet, but I will totally be watching.  It will be great to have Agent Coulson back!

I’m still giving Defiance a chance to wow me.  My favorite episode so far was “The Devil in the Dark,” which focused on Irisa learning more about her visions to help Nolan solve a series of murders.  Lots of great elements: father-daughter interaction, detective work, my favorite snarky Indogene doctor, interesting fantasy elements.  Really, the future of this show lies in the strength of the characters.  There are bright spots (Cersei Lannister wishes she could be Stahma Tarr).  The mayor and her madam sister, however, are boring the crap out of me.  Without some more character depth, Defiance will end up looking like a cheap Firefly knock-off.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, I was so impressed with the alien languages spoken on Defiance that I did some digging, and discovered that they are actually fully functional languages, created by the same man who created Dothraki and Valyrian for the Game of Thrones show.

Right now, I’m watching the wonderful Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix; it will only be available until May 22, so you have a week to watch the best American anime ever made.  This show is just about perfect: action, laughs, a little PG romance, and a cool Asian overtone.  The animation is lovely, too.  The characters are all three-dimensional, even the villains, and there are so many great strong female characters.  It manages to impart life lessons without being obvious and preachy.  Perfect for kids, but adults will love it, too.  It reminds me a lot of my childhood favorite, the Jackie Chan Adventures (also on Netflix).

(Still crossing my fingers that Bunheads will be renewed for next year…no word yet.  It grew to be one of my favorites, and I’d be sorry not to find out what happens with the characters)

“I fouetted in a wig!”

So, I’ve kept watching “Bunheads,” and it’s been pretty entertaining so far.  But this week’s episode felt like it was dragging up until the end.  Michelle and Fanny snarking at each other is witty and entertaining in small doses, but when that is the bulk of the episode it makes me want to smack them into adulthood.  The show is in serious need of a sane character to ground it–preferably someone with testosterone, or even better a love interest (remind me again why they got rid of Hubbell so soon??).  If they aren’t going to add new characters, then they need a better balance of Fanny/Michelle and the high school girls.  I was glad I watched until the end to see the auditions and hear adorable Boo say excitedly, “I fouetted in a wig!”  I bet all the other dancers watching laughed out loud at that, too.

In other news, the movie adaptation of Catching Fire will be out in November 2013.  Mockingjay will be split into two movies, coming out in November 2014 and 2015.  Honestly, I can’t imagine why they felt the need to split it.  Except to drag it out and make more money.  Mockingjay is 400 pages long, only 16 pages longer than The Hunger Games’ 384.  (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in contrast, is 784 pages.)

Also, where will they split it?  The first movie will be Katniss doing something dramatic and waking up in a hospital on repeat about 20 times, and the second movie will be the fake arena bit in the Capitol with tons of blood and guts everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book (albeit not as much as the first two).  I just don’t think they can get 5 hours of content/2 worthwhile movies out of it .  But I’d love to see them prove me wrong…

Also, I am really looking forward to the Olympics coming up in a few weeks!  The US athletes, however, may not be looking forward to being dressed as Polo flight attendants for the opening ceremonies.  Best part: the uniforms were actually made in China.

Childhood Fantasies

I recently stumbled across a charming little children’s story, The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.  It is not a book so much as a story; although the version I read was published as a standalone, it would fit very nicely in a compendium of modern fairy tales.

I read and enjoy a lot of fairy tales, all types: original Grimm, Disney versions, modern retellings in novel form.  In fact, I took a whole course on children’s fantasy literature in college (yay for a liberal arts education).  I also often read articles about how these tales are bad for young girls (especially Disney versions) because they encourage us to aspire to be “princesses” with no valuable qualities other than beauty (and entitlement).  I would like to think I did not, in fact, turn out that way.  (But perhaps I should add that my childhood favorite Disney movie was actually The Lion King, which lacks any pretty pretty princess stuff.)

Anyway, The Ordinary Princess gently pokes fun at “those kinds” of fairy tales by offering a protagonist who can’t help but be ordinary–this quality was a gift from a fairy at her christening.  (She also received Wit, Charm, Health, etc, but no one ever remembered those. Hey, at least it wasn’t Obedience.)  Princess Amy likes to play in the woods and make friends with squirrels, and when she runs away from home, she must get a job just like everyone else.

While the characters are certainly relatable for the reader, the plot does not venture too far outside traditional fairy tale territory, which keeps it charming and magical.  The story ends with a marriage, and unlike other current tales, has no interest in what happens after (when Amy inevitably discovers that she now has to wear nice dresses and sit in boring council meetings).

My favorite parts of the story were the tone, which is witty and droll while being simple enough for children, and the lovely illustrations placed throughout.

My childhood fantasies for my own future were amusing as well.  At various times, I thought I might want to be a nun, a ballerina, or a naturalist.  My ballet dreams were cut short by puberty when I added hips and a chest to my lack of turnout.  But I still drag my husband to The Nutcracker every Christmas, etc., so the new ABC Family dramedy “Bunheads” (by the creator of “Gilmore Girls”) caught my eye.  The pilot aired last night, and I watched the recording when I got home from work today.  I usually give a new show about 2-3 episodes to hook me, and that really will be key for this show.  I really enjoyed the pilot (characteristic machine-gun dialogue, some really likeable characters, and adequate dancing), BUT the show ended with a sudden twist that leaves me in doubt of the direction of the show.  So I’ll keep watching a few more episodes with an open mind and see where it goes.