Supernatural parodies competitors for Sweeps

November 5, 2009

sam n deanAs a TV enthusiast, I love sweeps months. For those unaware, “sweeps” refers to the Nielsen system of measuring television ratings in the United States. The company uses electronic metering technology to capture what channel is being watched as well as gathering information about who is watching. For the months of November, February, and May, Nielsen also processes paper diaries, which are mailed to households in order to keep track of what is watched on each television set and by whom. The data gathered at the end of these months influences both program scheduling and advertising.

As ratings are more closely monitored during these months, networks and programs do their best to impress, and it’s often during sweeps months that television rolls out the big guns. Annoyingly, for those of us using our DVRs, episodes may run an extra one or two minutes longer than usual. Other stunts in the name of ratings include lesbian kisses, characters leaving, crossovers between two shows, ex’s returning to cause trouble for your favourite couple, and big name guest stars checking into the hospital or appearing in the case of the week. However, in this TV enthusiast’s opinion, the best thing about sweeps months (besides four weeks of all new episodes) is experimentation with format.

Often shows that aren’t strictly considered procedurals can get stuck in one format. Initially series like Smallville are interesting, but the viewer soon comes to realize that episodes are becoming familiar, with each installment featuring a new kryptonite-fueled ‘Freak of the Week’ causing problems for our hero and heroine. This is when sweeps month can be a blessing. Fueled by a desire to increase ratings and please their existing audience, shows dare to step outside of their comfort zone and, when done successfully, memorable television is the result.

I count the Buffy musical episode “Once More With Feeling” among the best hours of television I’ve ever seen and a successful experiment in changing the status quo. Now that we’re a week into November sweeps, I’m looking forward to seeing what new experiments the month has in store for us.

There’s certainly plenty for audiences to look forward to, including an upcoming Gossip Girl threesome or the arrival of Dr. Owen Hunt’s ex on Grey’s Anatomy, but instead I’m eagerly anticipating tonight’s all new Supernatural, in which the Winchester boys go where every TV enthusiast wants to boldy go… into TV land! I’m a new Supernatural fan who discovered the show over the summer and now can’t help singing its praises. Unlike many television shows, Supernatural has actually gotten better with age, and I am confident that the fifth season will continue this pattern.

Tonight’s episode “Changing Channels” features the return of The Trickster, who appeared previously in “Tall Tales” and “Mystery Spot”, who casts the brothers into different television genres. Although I’m not only of those lucky TV critics who has already seen the episode, I’ve read two extremely positive reviews and I do love a good TV parody. In tonight’s episode, the Winchesters not only see what life would be like in a Japanese game show and a sitcom, but the Supernatural writers have also cleverly included parodies of Thursday timeslot competitors Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. Personally I’m looking forward to any reference to last year’s terrible “Dead Denny” plot, especially since Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who played Denny on Grey’s) also appeared as Sam and Dean’s father on Supernatural. Along with the known Grey’s, CSI, and sitcom references, critics who received an early look at the episode have revealed that there are an additional two parodies that they aren’t willing to spoil.

I hope my fellow TV enthusiasts enjoy tonight’s parody packed Supernatural. I know I will.

Supernatural airs tonight at 9 PM on the CW, or Sun TV if you’re in Canada.


Terrifying Television: Halloween Episodes

October 31, 2009

With Saturday the 31st upon us, this TV enthusiast will be gathering a collection of her favourite Halloween episodes and settling in to celebrate with some beloved fictional characters. If you’re planning a marathon of your own, or simply looking to kill an hour or two before trick or treating or a Halloween party, here are some of my favourite episodes of Halloween television for your consideration.

How I Met Your Mother, “The Slutty Pumpkin”

how i metBarney: Flight-suit up!

An instant classic from the first season, this episode sees Lily and Marshall attempting to win a costume contest at the bar and Robin having trouble “putting on the girlfriend costume” to please her date. However, the episode revolves around Ted’s annual tradition of attending the Halloween roof party at his building in hopes of meeting “the slutty pumpkin”, the one who got away four years earlier. This has all the heart and all the laughs you’d expect from How I Met Your Mother, and Barney is his usual awesome self. You’ll come away with a few fun new variations on “suit up!” as well as a fun mixed drink recipe!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Fear Itself”

gilesGiles: It’s a sombrero.
Buffy: And it’s on your head.
Giles: It seemed festive.

Buffy has a grand total of three Halloween episodes, but this one is my favourite. “Fear Itself” is full of memorable moments, from Anya’s choice for a scary costume to the now unemployed Giles getting into the Halloween spirit. As Willow, Oz, Xander, and Buffy attend a Halloween party in a frat house, the house comes alive and plays upon the fears of its inhabitants. What really makes the episode are the last five minutes though and the appearance of the fear demon itself.

Dexter, “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”

dexter hallDexter: “I love Halloween, the one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me. People think its fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not.”

I believe that Dexter is one of the most consistently good series on television, which means that it has few weak episodes and this is not one of them. A fan of the holiday because he’s no longer the only one hiding, Dexter celebrates Halloween with Rita and her kids, while also deciphering disturbing recreations of his past left by his fellow serial killer, who has been leaving severed body parts in the locations of childhood memories. The theme of masks and hiding is continued throughout the episode, as is the question of what makes a monster.

Supernatural, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”/”Pilot”

super hallSam: “For us, every day is Halloween.”

I can’t decide which Halloween episode of Supernatural I enjoy more. The pilot has the distinction of being the episode that started it all and as far as pilots go it’s a great one. Twenty-two years after the mysterious death of his mother, college student Sam Winchester has a girlfriend, an interview to get into law school, and no desire to join the family business. Then brother Dean shows up, revealing that their father went missing while hunting demons and Sam rejoins Dean for a one-time deal and a show was born. The pilot manages to hook you in and sets up a season long hunt for John Winchester (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Fourth season episode “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” is worth watching for entirely different reasons. In it, the angels tell Dean that he must find a witch and stop the raising of the demon Samhain or they will smite the town and all of its 1200 inhabitants. The opening of the episode uses the urban legend of razor blades in Halloween candy, but it’s the end, where the audience begins to see the humanity in the angel Castiel that makes this one a Halloween must for me.

Dead Like Me, “Haunted”

dead like me hallGeorge: “It’s not so bad, being dead like me.”

My favourite Halloween episode to date has to be the brilliant series finale of Dead Like Me. The grim reapers prepare for Halloween and George Lass, dead one year in her home town, learns about a reaper legend that says all reapers can be seen as themselves on Halloween. As Mason goes on a candy gathering mission, with George along for the ride, a serial killer is on the loose. Meanwhile George’s family gather in the graveyard to pay their respects on the Day of the Dead. There are few cancellations more upsetting than this one, which was never really explained and caught the writers and producers of the show off guard, meaning some loose ends were never tied up, but the show did go out on a high as George begins to accept her life as a reaper at last.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Terrifying Television (non-Halloween episodes)

October 31, 2009

If you’ve already exhausted your collection of Halloween episodes, or plan to take advantage of the holiday falling on a Saturday to pack in more television, there are a number of options. A marathon of any genre-themed show, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, or Supernatural, could make for a spooky Saturday, but if you’re looking for a variety of choices, here are a few of my favourite non-Halloween-themed hours of terrifying television.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Hush

hushSince it originally aired, I’ve included this fourth season episode in my annual Halloween marathon. The largely dialogue-free hour features the creepy gentlemen, who glide above the ground in tuxedos and politely applaud each other’s efforts to remove human hearts. The episode combines humour with drama and danger, and as fans of the show are aware, “Hush” is also the first appearance of Wiccan Tara, who would become a recurring character. It’s one of the best episodes of an above average show and also one of the scariest… perfect for Halloween!

Supernatural, “Monster Movie”

monster movieAlthough it isn’t the actual Halloween set episode of the season, this ode to monster movies is filmed entirely in black & white and provides a lighter hour perfect for any Halloween marathon. In a more comedic turn, the Winchesters take on an odd case involving the classic silver screen monsters, including the one and only Dracula. The humour comes from the juxtaposition of details from the 1940’s movies and the contemporary, which results in a memorable moment where Dracula flees on a moped.

Jekyll

jekyllI’m cheating a little here because Jekyll is not one hour of television, but a six hour BBC miniseries. However, I couldn’t write about monsters without mentioning this delightful take on the The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde set in the present day. I’m often skeptical of anything updating a period piece, but the creators have described this as a sequel, rather than an adaptation of the novella by Stevenson. This version of the story utilizes modern technology to cleverly continue Stevenson’s tale, and James Nesbitt is wonderful as Dr. Tom Jackman and his alter-ego. Jekyll was also written and executive produced by the brilliant Doctor Who scribe Stephen Moffat. I can’t wait to see what Moffat will do with his contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes, which he is adapting with Mark Gatiss.

Doctor Who, “Blink”

sally sparrowSpeaking of Stephen Moffat, there’s my favourite episode of Doctor Who, “Blink”. It’s extremely well-written, and even though the episode is “Doctor-lite” (referring to episodes where the Doctor and his companion have very little screen time to allow two episodes to be filmed simultaneously), it has a likable protagonist in Sally Sparrow. The episode is truly terrifying, especially if, like this TV enthusiast, you watched it with a group of friends at 3:00AM in an otherwise empty house. Trust me when I say that you will never look at a statue the same way ever again!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Conversations With Dead People”

conversationsIn my second Buffy pick, four completely separate stories are told, all of them occurring on one night. While on patrol, Buffy encounters an old classmate who has been turned into a vampire, while Dawn spends the night home alone, believing that her mother is trying to communicate with her. Meanwhile, Willow receives a message in the library, and Spike picks up a woman in a bar. The episode has its spooky moments but also some great humour and is one of the best from Buffy‘s final season. The dead and undead theme makes it a great choice for Halloween night.

Supernatural, “Bloody Mary”

bloody maryAlthough I was close to sticking the one with the clowns on this list, purely because clowns are truly terrifying, this early episode is a great choice for Halloween. What Supernatural does so well is make urban legends real and few legends are more well known than ‘Bloody Mary’. If “Blink” makes you think twice about statues, then “Bloody Mary” will make you wary of mirrors!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Buffy vs. Dracula”

buffy vs“Buffy vs. Dracula” is a new edition to my annual Buffy marathon. The slayer was bound to face off against the greatest vampire of all time at some point and although this isn’t one of my favourite episodes of the show, it doesn’t disappoint. In it Xander becomes Dracula’s manservant, while even Buffy seems to fall under The Dark Prince’s thrall. What could be more ideal for Halloween than our favourite slayer meeting Count Dracula? I really can’t think of a thing.

 

Happy Halloween Everyone!


The Heavy Hitters Return, FlashForward premieres

September 24, 2009
Joseph Fiennes in FlashForward.

Joseph Fiennes in FlashForward.

Monday may be my personal night of television, but Thursday is the night when the most competitive shows go head to head in a battle for ratings. Hoping to reel viewers in before the juggernauts of television return, new Thursday addition Fringe premiered last week, while CW shows The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural began two weeks ago. The Thursday night ratings thus far have generally been good. Although The Vampire Diaries slipped in its second week, the numbers are still encouraging and the CW has ordered an additional nine scripts for the series, “which is the closest step executives can take without committing to a full pickup.”  With both CBS procedural CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy returning tonight at nine though, the question is how much will these popular shows cut into the ratings of the other Thursday night competitors?

Eight o’clock is a slightly less competitive, but still significant, timeslot with the aforementioned Vampire Diaries up against Fox’s popular procedural Bones, Survivor: Samoa, NBC sitcoms SNL Weekend Update and Amy Poehler’s Parks and Rec, and the series premiere of FlashForward.

Easily the most talked about new drama, Flashforward has been compared to Lost, and with the sci-fi drama entering its final season in January, FlashForward might be just the replacement ABC is looking for. ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson said, ”The intention was not to imitate Lost, but we’ve certainly been looking for that next hit, and I don’t think we’ve had as special an idea as this since then.” It doesn’t hurt that the cast even includes a couple of Lost alums in the form of Dominic Monaghan, who played fan favourite Charlie Pace, and Sonya Walger, who had a recurring role as Desmond’s love interest Penny. Monaghan’s character Simon will not appear until episode 5 or 6, but in an interview with SFX magazine, he said, “There’s certainly a [Lost] influence on FlashForward in terms of the model of the show, in the same way that Lost has a large international cast”.  The large cast of FlashForward includes a number of familiar faces, such as Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), John Cho (the Star Trek reboot), and Jack Davenport (Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy).

Based on a science fiction novel by Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward focuses on the aftermath of a mysterious global event in which everyone on the planet loses consciousness for two minutes, seventeen seconds. During that time, everyone in the world experiences their life six months into the future. FBI agent Mark Benford (Fiennes) creates a database of people’s flash forwards from around the world called the Mosaic Collective in order to determine what exactly happened and why. Naturally, there is already a tie-in website that features accounts of people’s flash forwards which you can find here. Perhaps the best news for potential viewers is that although based on a science-fiction novel, those involved are shying away from the label, with executive producer David S. Goyer promising that ”the only leap you have to make is the existence of the flash-forward”. Additionally, story arcs have already been worked out for five full seasons, which shows an awareness of the difficulties shows with intricate mythologies often face (including Heroes and Lost). This TV enthusiast will certainly be tuning in.

The real competition begins at nine though, with the tenth season of CSI and the two-hour premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. Both shows are extremely popular but have something to prove this year. The departure of William Petersen’s Gil Grissom impacted the procedural’s ratings and although I enjoyed Laurence Fishburne’s replacement, Dr. Raymond Langston, in the few episodes I caught, Grissom is a hard man to replace. CSI cast members and producers admitted that the show stumbled during its ninth season but that this year the show has ‘found its rhythm’ again. Tonight’s premiere, titled “Family Affair”  begins with the team investigating the death of an actress killed in a suspicious car accident and features the return of Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle.

izzieSimilarly, Grey’s Anatomy had a rough year with the universally despised “ghost sex” plotline that dragged on for far too long and actually managed to make me wish the amicable Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who played Denny on the series) would just go away already. The “cliffhanger” last season left the lives of George (T.R. Knight) and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) hanging in the balance, but even non-spoiler addicts know who survives, so tonight’s episodes are not likely to have anyone on the edge of their seat. The two-hour premiere sees the staff of Sacred Heart dealing with George’s death and Cristina and Owen finding it difficult to abstain from sex, as instructed by Dr. Wyatt.

New to Thursdays is Fox’s supernatural drama Fringe, starring John Noble and Joshua Jackson. The show was heavily promoted by Fox during its first season and was picked up for a second year, but moving the show to the most competitive slot in primetime is a risky move.  After a game changing season finale, in which viewers learned that Peter (Jackson) was from a parallel universe, Fringe premiered last week to almost 8 million viewers and a 2.9 in the 18-49 demographic. The numbers were only a slight drop from its season finale, but there’s no indication of how Fringe will do against Grey’s and CSI. Even the most fanatic of TV enthusiasts only have so much room on our DVRs.  Creator J.J. Abrams is not pleased with the move either saying,“There are many places I’d rather be than there, but I’d rather be picked up for a second season than not.” Tonight’s episode sees Walter trying to recreate travel between realities using frogs while the Fringe division investigates the disappearance of a  highway construction worker in Pennsylvania.

The cast of Community.

The cast of Community.

Also in competition are NBC comedies The Office and Community. Last week The Office had its lowest rated premiere in four years, yet was also the highest-rated show of the night, while the series premiere of Community held onto most of its lead-in for impressive numbers. Community, about a group of misfits who attend Greendale Community College, was well reviewed by critics.

Finally there’s a new episode of Supernatural on the CW (or Sun TV in Canada) titled “Free to be You and Me”. After the Winchester brothers parted ways at the end of last week’s episode, Dean teams up with Castiel to find the Archangel Raphael, who may know where God is, and decides to make Castiel’s last night on Earth memorable. Meanwhile, Sam tries to give up hunting but receives an unexpected visit from an old flame.

Once again being Canadian means more choices in your television schedule. CTV is showing The Vampire Diaries at 7:00PM in order to accommodate both CSI and the 2-hour premiere of Grey’s Anatomy so you don’t have to choose between the procedural and the medical drama.

Happy television watching!


Follow Friday: TV and Twitter

September 18, 2009

twitterI admit it, I tweet. For the uninitiated, “tweet” is the term for the 140 character updates Twitter allows you to post, broadcasting your interests, boredom, or messages to fellow members. Although it has been compared to another social networking site, Facebook, that uses status updates in much the same way, the thing about Twitter is that it isn’t quite so personal. I have a Facebook page and use the site regularly, but I do so to keep in contact with friends and close associates.  I use Twitter to “follow”, the term used for receiving another user’s tweets, television stars, entertainment news blogs, and writers who I am not personally acquainted with.

Television and Twitter

There are a number of people involved in the television industry on Twitter now, and people have begun to take notice of Twitter as a marketing tool and a way to gauge popularity.  The social networking site uses trending topics, meaning that the more a topic is mentioned in an individual’s tweets, the higher profile it receives.  The most used subjects are pushed into the top ten trending topics.  Often this includes recent news items, such as Kanye West’s outburst at the MTV Video Music awards, or the death of a celebrity, but during Primetime hours the Trending Topics often include television shows.

When Fox aired the premiere for its new comedy Glee in May, after the ratings juggernaut American Idol, executives were less concerned with its ratings and more interested in regarding the sneek peek as a marketing initiative. Although they certainly took note of the fact that the pilot was watched by 9.6 million viewers, staffers also monitored iTunes, blogs, and Twitter in order to measure reactions to the show.  The debut was largely a success, and one Fox e-mail read “It was the No.1 topic all night on Twitter”.  Since then the show has continued to be among the top ten topics on Twitter each Wednesday night it airs.

Television fans have discovered the importance of Twitter as well, with some organizing awareness campaigns using the popular site.  Although NBC’s Chuck was picked up for a third season, it was a close call for Chuck fans, who decided to use the hiatus to generate publicity for the show.  The ‘Chuck Me Mondays’ campaign aimed to draw new viewers to the show by re-watching episodes of Chuck on Monday, its regular night.  Additionally they used twitter, tweeting #chuckmemondays in an attempt to make the trending topics list and generate interest in the show.  With the third season of the show not airing until early 2010, the fans are continuing their campaign, watching the second season from the beginning.  This week they tweeted We Heart Chuck in order to honour the campaign of the same name to raise funds for the American Heart Association, which has currently raised close to $20,000.

This TV enthusiast recalls being spoiled for Torchwood: Children of Earth when ‘Ianto’ appeared as a trending topic on the same night that “Day Four” was scheduled to air in the UK. Surely the trending of a character’s name couldn’t be good news.  There’s an argument to be made that I shouldn’t have clicked on the topic, but I was more of less sure that Ianto was dead as soon as I saw his name, the click only confirmed it.

Collins on Supernatural.

Collins on Supernatural.

Perhaps the most interesting occurrence of television on Twitter happened more than a week ago when fans of the CW drama Supernatural garnered attention by banding together to push the hashtags #Supernatural and #luciferiscoming into Twitter’s trending topics. In the season finale, brothers and demon hunters Sam and Dean Winchester began the apocalypse by inadvertently releasing Lucifer from Hell, so for Supernatural fans #Luciferiscoming referred to the fifth season, premiering that night, in which Lucifer was a character. Unfortunately the message was misinterpreted by some, including P. Diddy, who tweeted the following:

I’m calling GODS ARMY TO ATTENTION!! #GODISHERE #GODISHERE #GODISHERE let the devil know the fight he’s in for! Retweet all day! Make GOD #1

Soon there was a battle for the top spot, with Supernatural fans continuing to tweet #luciferiscoming while Diddy’s followers re-tweeted #godishere, even though Diddy had been informed by many that the hashtag referred to the fictional show and not to Devil worshippers.  The Twitter war caused confusion among the uninformed, “leading many users to question whether today held some religious significance or if the tags were in response to the anniversary of the 09/11 attacks upon the Twin Towers in New York back in 2001 – one user mused that perhaps the two trends were the result of sick, twisted humour in that regard.”  Twitter took action, removing both hashtags from the trending topics entirely, but Supernatural fans continued to Tweet, encouraged by actor Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel on the series.  However, new rallying cries, the more innocent #pdiddyisscaredofhistv and #twitterisafraidofmishasminions have also been blocked by Twitter, causing some to wonder about censorship.

Follow Friday

Twitter has its own set of popular hashtags for days of the week, including “Music Mondays” and “Follow Fridays”.  It would be impossible to rhyme off all users of Twitter who are involved with television, but for Follow Friday here are some of those worth following for fellow TV enthusiasts.

Nathan Fillion in Castle

Nathan Fillion in Castle

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Joss Whedon and his works.  Although the man himself is not on Twitter, many “Whedonverse” talents are, including Castle star Nathan Fillion, his Doctor Horrible co-star Felicia Day, who also stars in her own popular web series The Guild, and writer Maurissa Tancharoen.  Dollhouse stars Eliza Dushku (Echo), Dichen Lachman (Sierra), and Miracle Laurie (November) are also on Twitter.  Canadian Jewel Staite, who played Kaylee in Firefly, has an account, as do Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast members Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), Amber Benson (Tara), Tom Lenk (Andrew), and Alyson Hannigan (Willow).  To keep up to date on all Whedon related news, follow Whedonesque.

A number of other Television actors and actresses tweet.  Among them is the aforementioned Misha Collins, who has gained a lengion of “minions” with his humourous tweets.  Julie Benz (Dexter) has an account, as does Pushing Daisies star Kristin Chenoweth, and Burn Notice‘s Jeffrey Donovan.  It’s only fair that Aldis Hodge, who plays a hacker on TNT’s Leverage with the motto “Age of the Geek” has an account, but so do his co-stars Tim Hutton (Nate), Beth Riesgraf (Parker), and Angel alum Christian Kane (Eliot).

Jeremy Piven, voted “least deserving of their 2009 Emmy” by TWoP readers, is on Twitter, along with Corbin Bleu of the new show The Beautiful Life, which premiered with a dismal 1.5 million viewers.  If you’re missing Dirty Sexy Money you can follow two of its stars, Lucy Liu and Blair Underwood through the Social Networking site, or for someone completely different there’s John Lithgow, who plays the Trinity Killer in the fourth season of Dexter. Christopher Gorham, of the summer show Harper’s Island, has an account and for some Canadian content there’s Degrassi actors Adamo Ruggiero and Lauren Collins.  Fans of CW drama Gossip Girl are no doubt already following stars Leighton Meester and Blake Lively.  While for any Trekkies out there, Brent Spiner and Levar Burton are worth following.

Unless you have an iPhone you probably won’t find Heroes star Greg Grunberg all that interesting.  He tweets mainly to promote his money saving application Yowza!, but co-stars Zachary Quinto (Sylar), James Kyson Lee (Ando) and former Heroes actresses Kristin Bell (Elle), and Brea Grant (Daphne) might be more interesting.

Actors aren’t the only ones using Twitter.  Just as interesting are some of the writers and other individuals who work behind the scenes in television, including James Clark, the On Set Prop Master for Heroes, and Doris Egan, a writer and co-executive producer on House m.d. Former Buffy and Battlestar Galactica scribe Jane Espenson, who is currently working on Caprica, has an account as well.  Also on Twitter are Whedon brother Zack Whedon, who worked on the Emmy winning Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog and Hart Hanson, the creator of Bones.  For the TV enthusiast who isn’t spoiler shy, following writers, and actors, on Twitter can mean getting tidbits about upcoming episodes.

Cory Monteith of Glee

Cory Monteith of Glee

With the network’s use of Twitter both to promote Glee and to air reruns with commentary that comes from Twitter comments made live by its cast, it comes as no surprise that most of the young cast have their own accounts, such as Lea Michele (Rachel Berry)  Cory Monteith, who plays Finn, even uses the nickname given to his character in the last episode, “Frankenteen”, as his account name.  The rest of the Glee cast is comprised of Chris Colfer (Kurt), Diana Agron (Quinn), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Kevin McHale (Artie), Mark Salling (Puck), and Amber Riley (Mercedes).

Another show with a strong presence on Twitter is So You Think You Can Dance.  It’s always interesting to read what the choreographers thought of the performances and the judges are quite good at interacting their their followers.  Nigel Lythgoe, Tabitha and Napoleon, and Lil C all actively tweet.  Less active are Mia Michaels and Tyce Diorio.  For fans of the Canadian version of the show there’s judge Blake McGrath, and back on the original series sometimes judge Debbie Allen. Of course no list would be complete without the new third judge on the show, Adam Shankman!  Former contestants on Twitter include Travis Wall, whose amazing piece of choreography should be nominated for an Emmy next year, contemporary dancer Courtney Galiano and, one of my favourite contestants, Mark Kanemura.

Naturally there are also too many American Idol contestants to name, including Adam Lambert, winner Kris Allen, and David Cook.  Other Idol personalities with accounts are Randy Jackson, new judge Ellen DeGeneres, and Ryan Seacrest.

Just as interesting to me as the television stars and writers are updates from entertainment blogs and journalists.  An article takes time to write up while Twitter is an instant way to communicate any breaking news to interested parties.  What better way to stay up to date with your favourite TV shows than to follow one or more TV journalists?  Personally, I’m fond of The Nick C Blog, James Hibberd of The Live Feed, and Hercules the Strong of Ain’t It Cool News, but other choices include Robert Seidman and, for spoilers more than anything else, Michael Ausiello.

spongeFinally there’s Happy Squared, a Twitter account that provides “Daily affirmations from everyone’s favourite sea sponge” with tweets like “When spying on a neighbor late at night, be careful not to be lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of his clarinet.” and “If you’re going to skip town and live under a new name, try to come up with something that’ll really fool ’em: like “BobPants SpongeSquare.”

Clearly in the Twitter Universe, there is something, or somesponge, for everyone.


Vampires and Demons and Lucifer! Oh my!

September 10, 2009

sam and deanKeep a wooden stake on your coffee table because Thursday is genre night in TV land.  Tonight the CW has the series premiere of The Vampire Diaries and the fifth season opener of Supernatural, while Fox and ABC have the season and series premieres of their genre shows Fringe and FlashForward on September 17th and 24th, respectively. For the TV enthusiast who isn’t a fan of science-fiction, there’s always the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, or CBS procedurals The Mentalist, and C.S.I., all shows I’ve also watched and liked to varying degrees, but as a fan of genre shows, my night is pretty full.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains one my favourite shows of all-time, so it may come as a surprise that I’m not a big fan of vampires.  I don’t have any desire to read the Twilight books, haven’t watched Moonlight or Blood Ties, and never tried Anne Rice. In fact the only vampire themed show, aside from Buffy and Angel, that I’ve watched is True Blood, and although I enjoyed the first season I don’t particularly care for Bill or Eric.  So I won’t be watching tonight’s premiere of new CW show The Vampire Diaries.

Although the show hopes to capitalize on the popularity of True Blood and Twilight, the story actually predates both of them.  L.J. Smith’s series of young adult horror novels were originally published in 1991 & 92, but in 2008 she announced plans for a new spin-off trilogy, the first of which was published in February of this year.   Like the books, the show revolves around Elena Gilbert, a Virginia high school student who is torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon.  The lead actors are familiar, but not too familiar, faces, having played teen roles before.  Nina Dobrev (Elena) has been seen on Degrassi: The Next Generation as single mother Mia, while Ian Somerhalder (Damon) is best known for his role as Boone on Lost but has also been seen in Smallville and Young Americans.  Paul Wesley guest starred on teen-targeted shows Everwood and Smallville before getting the role of the good vampire brother Stefan.

vampireAlthough The Vampire Diaries may not be my cup of tea, it has been receiving generally favourable reviews from critics.  EW’s Ken Tucker gave the pilot episode a B+, writing that the show “promises us a season of sharp-tongued amusement”, and IGN called it “exactly what you’d expect from a marriage of Dawson’s Creek and Twilight, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your tastes,” rating the episode a respectable 7.0 out of 10.  Only time will tell if viewers have had their fill of vampire tales or are ready to sink their teeth (yup, I went there) into a new show.

As I said in a previous post, I’ve become a Supernatural convert over the summer and I’m looking forward to tonight’s season premiere.  When we last saw the Winchester boys Sam had killed the demon Lilith, only to find out seconds later that she was the sixty-sixth seal to be broken and that her death would release Lucifer.  Dean had been told that God wasn’t giving the orders anymore and that the Angels wanted Lucifer to rise, and Castiel had chosen to disobey, turning his back on The Host to help Dean.  The episode ended with Cas facing off against an archangel, Heaven’s most fearsome warrior, and Sam and Dean watching helplessly as the last seal broke.

Although the stakes have increased with each season and this year, with Lucifer (played by Dexter and Lost actor Mark Pellegrino) at the core, promises to have its darker moments, Supernatural clearly hasn’t lost its sense of humour.  Heiress Paris Hilton will guest star in an October episode as a demonic creature taking the form of… Paris Hilton.  For those who shudder at this announcement, just remember that she also had a guest role in an early episode of Veronica Mars and that didn’t turn out so badly!

It may or may not be the final season for the CW drama.  Creator Eric Kripke set out with a five season plan for the show and has “every intention of ending the story with a bang and not drawing it out or watering it down,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road for the Winchester brothers.  Kripke says, “I’m looking at this season as the last chapter in this particular story. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a new story. Buffy did it. The X-Files did it. You close a chapter on a big mythology storyline and then you begin a new one.”  It’s also helpful to note that stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have deals in place that cover a possible sixth season, although Kripke himself does not have a deal beyond the fifth season.  As a latecomer to the show I’m hoping for a sixth season, but whether this is the end for Supernatural or not, I’m going to enjoy the ride.


TV on DVD (September 1st)

August 31, 2009

supe 4As much as I’ve been enjoying blogging, I still have a lot to learn.  I recently returned from a week’s vacation where I sadly failed to spot Wilson giving House an alibi in an Atlantic City casino, and saw, but did not lick, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.  Before leaving I set one blog entry to post while I was away with a note mentioning my absence… or at least I thought I did.  As you’ve no doubt noticed, the entry didn’t post, but I’m now back from a wonderful holiday, and I’m just in time for fall premiere season!

The last stretch of summer is when the most recent seasons of your favourite shows hit DVD, giving you a chance to play catch up by packing the episodes into a short span of time.  I’ve been meaning to write entries on TV on DVD for awhile now, and the entry that didn’t post was actually about the releases of Dexter season three and Eli Stone. However, this won’t turn into a weekly column because television shows seem to be released much like theatrical feature films. To clarify, there are either a number of things you would like to watch arriving within a short span of time, or nothing at all and you’re better off saving your money and watching reruns at home.

Fortunately, this is one of those better weeks for the TV enthusiast seeking one last show to get them through the last week or so of the summer season.  Your choices range from top procedurals to science-fiction dramas, here’s a look at what’s out on DVD tomorrow.

My Pick: Supernatural Season Four

Supernatural is one of those shows I’ve been meaning to try for awhile but never quite found the time to watch. I’ve caught the odd episode here and there, and am now working my way through the first season, but I haven’t been a regular viewer.  Then one night with little else on I caught a few episodes of season four and was hooked like I had never been before.

Misha Collins as Castiel.

Misha Collins as Castiel.

By the fourth season some shows have run out of ideas, or are at least inching past their prime.  A special few have even jumped the shark, and since I haven’t watched much of Supernatural to date, perhaps it isn’t fair to comment, but I believe this show is different.  What it has is something every show should possess, a writer/creator with a plan. Should does not always mean does though, and particularly in this age of television when it is hard enough to create a show that strikes a chord with audiences and networks, planning ahead can just mean seeing your vision go unfulfilled.  I imagine Carnivale creator Daniel Knauf knows a little something about that.

Supernatural creator Eric Kripke has avoided falling into the trap frequented by one season wonder shows like Heroes, or perpetually confusing Lost, by having a five year plan for the show.  Each year the action and the stakes have grown, with brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hunting monsters of the week while searching for their missing father over the course of the first season, to being a part of the battle between angels and demons in the fourth season, arriving on DVD tomorrow.  Each season has given the brothers more to contend with, and this escalation of evil is part of what has made the show so engaging for fans.

Another part of season four’s success was the introduction of new character Castiel, an Angel of the Lord played by Misha Collins.  Although Kripke originally intended the character to be present in just six episodes, critical and fan response was so positive that the role was expanded.  Collins has been upgraded to a series regular who will appear in seventeen of the twenty-two episodes in the fifth, and possibly final, season of the show.  Misha Collins is also at the top of TV Squad’s convincing list of ten reasons you should watch Supernatural.

It’s certainly late in the game to be picking up this show, and as the new season premieres September 10th, I don’t have much time to catch up, but I’m glad I’m finally giving it a chance rather than discovering it on DVD years later.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it, this is one genre show that deserves more attention than it gets.

Here’s the trailer for the upcoming season five:

Also on DVD this week:

If you’re more into crime scenes than demon hunting, pick up the ninth season of the original C.S.I. on DVD.  This eventful season saw the departure of protagonist Gil Grissom (played by William Petersen), the arrival of Laurence Fishburne’s Dr. Raymond Langston, and the funeral for Gary Dourdan’s character Warrick Brown, who was shot in the eighth season finale.  Although ratings began to drop after Fishburne took over, I enjoyed his character and thought that the writers made a smart decision to integrate him as a new C.S.I. while Catherine Willows took over as senior supervisor.

noAlso of note this week is the first season of HBO series The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency , which is based on the novels of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith.  Filmed on location in Botswana, it focuses on a detective agency opened by Mma Ramotswe (Jill Scott) and assistant detective Mma Grace Makutsi (played by Tony award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose).  For something completely different there’s the fifth  season of Desperate Housewives , which took place five years after the fourth season and debuted a separated Susan and Mike, and spoiled Gabrielle Solis as a mother.  Although I’ve never found it very humourous, ratings say that millions of people have enjoyed CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. Its sixth season, featuring Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer, is out tomorrow.

The word for the third season of Heroes is confused.  Not only could the show not decide where it wanted to go, its creative staff also couldn’t decide what to do with its characters.  Plots and characters were dropped altogether, retcon was employed, and Sylar, in particular, did more Heel Face Turns and Face Heel Turns than most characters do in an entire series.  There were some bright spots though, particularly with the short-lived return of writer Bryan Fuller in “Cold Snap”, before the polarizing season finale split fans.  If you’re willing to take a second look at the series or are interested in the special features though, the third season hits stores today.

I didn’t watch the made-for-TV movie Meteor, but my mom did and you can read her thoughts on the movie’s grammatical and plot content here.  They’re enough to convince me to avoid this title like the plague. It’s out today on DVD, along with season one of The Game, season three of ABC drama Brothers and Sisters, and season two of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.