Trial and Error

Having tried several TV shows and failing miserably each time (I’m looking at you, Bones, Fringe, The Mentalist, Supernatural, and so on), as well as trying the same move with different movies, most of them starring the current Mr. Jolie (Se7en and Fight Club being the most notable examples), I can conclude that I am a trier unwilling to let go and unwilling to accept defeat, indifferent of the form it takes.

By these means I am now ready to punish myself for wasting my time and years trying repeatedly to fill in some unwritten norms and failing miserably.

At the same time, I am ready to applaud my stoic manner of pursuing things out of my comfort zone, even though they made me gag or fall asleep each and every single time.

This rant has been cause by several articles per day, read by yours truly, articles which glorify some content products made for entertaining purposes only and not for self-torture, as I was (wrongly) using them.

Review: Smash – TV Show


I think I can say it outloud: I love musicals.

It started out with Grease, which I loved when I was little, and this whole thing grew bigger with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And with Hairspray. And The Producers. And then Glee.

I guess everyone pretends to hate on Glee, but secretely they watch it every week. Or so I like to think. It pissed me many times, with unflattering song choices and bad covers, but at times it was simply amazing. Also, it opened a door for me to find out about new bands and I can’t be ungreatful for that, right?

But this review isn’t supposed to be about Glee; it’s about Smash. The TV show was officially cancelled on May 10, 2013, with the finale airing on May 26. I’ve watched it several times since then (the whole second season, to be more specific) and I still miss it.

I watched it back in 2012 because of Jack Davenport (Derek), Anjelica Houston (Eileen) and Debra Messing (Julia), while taking Steven Spielberg’s word for granted, as he served as one of the executive producers. I needed a new show, so I thought „Meh, a TV show about producing a Broadway musical about Marilyn’s life, maybe it’s fun”.

The first season is a blur, but I remember the animosity between Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Megan Hilty), who battled for the role of Marilyn Monroe in Bombshell.

There were a lot of characters I despised, including Ivy, Karen’s boyfriend, Rebecca Duvall (played by Uma Thurman), Julia’s son, husband and lover (those are 3 people there, don’t understand differently, please!), Eileen’s ex-husband, and many more.

Personally, I think that the first season had very poor written characters, the story was as badly written as the characters, there was no development and no dynamic in there. I’ve seen that people point the finger at the playwright and showrunner Theresa Rebeck, but I’m not familiar with her work, so I can’t say a thing on the matter. Only that the second season, when she wasn’t the showrunner anymore, was much better. That’s why last days I’ve been watching only the second season.

Smash started out as this story about a group of people, writers, directors, producers, actors and singers and dancers, who try to tell us the story of Marilyn Monroe. At times, it annoyed me greatly the way they insisted on Marilyn the icon, Marilyn the human, Marilyn the used and abused, but maybe that’s partly because here, in Romania, she doesn’t seem to have much impact (only if you count lost little girls that quote her at every second).

The second season sees Bombshell running into legal and creative troubles, so there’s space for a second show to develop. Karen gets the Marilyn role, under Derek’s supervision, and there are sparks seen there often. But after the boat starts rocking, Karen and Derek leave Bombshell and go on working on Hit List, a show created by 2 unknown geniuses, and Ivy takes Karen’s role as Marilyn in Bombshell.

There are love triangles all over the place. Karen starts falling for Jimmy, one of the creators of Hit List, while still having some kind of feelings for Derek who, because the unrequited-something-he-feels for Karen, turns back to Ivy for comfort.

Eileen goes back and forth with her ex-husband, with her lover and with some New York Times reporter.

Julia is seen flirting with a playwright, an artistic director and later she is seen going back to her first love from season 1, the actor who originally played Joe DiMaggio in the initial Bombshell workshop.

Tom Levitt is seen making out and breaking hearts, I don’t even remember all the men he had sex with this season.

The second season impressed me with better songs, all of them covers or written for Hit List. Even though the characters or the story didn’t improve much, the music was a great step up for me. I wish they could keep Smash and cancel something else, but I guess this has been a wreckage for too long. I’m glad that at least I got to keep a few good songs and I got to root for some of the characters.

I’m glad they de-vilified Ivy, in the end, even though I hated her storyline, her stringing along by Derek and her pregnancy, so stupidly written, and her happy ending with Derek, which seemed not only improbable, but simply impossible.

I’m glad they thought of Hit List, it would’ve been an awesome show. But I hated Jimmy, the songwriter, and I loved his partner, Kyle. I also hated Jimmy’s relationship with Karen and I think they would never workout in real life, while I loved his relationship with Derek. It made me think Jimmy was a younger Derek, with more spunk in him and a little more rebel. (I have to admit I love Derek more).

I really loved Eileen this season, she seemed more powerful than ever. I hated her publicist, she was nosy and annoying. I also hated Julia, in the first season she seemed more grounded. I also hated Tom, with his sleeping around and his thoughts of grandeur, thinking he deserves it all.

All in all, the second season brought more songs, more entertainment, more development, more characters. And it made me want to see a Broadway musical, sometime in this life. All I’m left after Smash are the beautiful songs in Hit List.

Pic here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I can easily admit that, even with all the Friends and the Scrubs and The Walking Deads, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is (still) my all-time favorite TV show. Joss Whedon’s creation started out as a feature film, but after 5 years it became a mid-season replacement for a soap opera with no future.

buffy the vampire slayer

I still remember how I stumbled upon one of its first episodes, in a Saturday afternoon, and how it changed my life. The TV station that aired it didn’t do it justice, since I couldn’t see all its episodes. I remember there were only bits and pieces from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons. I always felt that, even with the light connection between us, me and Buffy had something special, something that could be developed into something more.

That something came in February 2007, when I remembered that somewhere in this world there is Buffy and there are vampires and other kind of monsters and I felt the urge to reconnect with it.

I watched all of the seasons (7), all of the episodes (144) at least 10 times each. I think I broke some records of some sorts, laughing, crying, hoping, chocking, felling… things while watching it. I grew with Buffy and Willow and I wished my father was more like Giles. I wanted to go to Buffy studies and I wanted everyone to love this show as much as I do.

I got used to people not wanting to see it and I got used to people mocking me for loving a kids TV show. It doesn’t bother me anymore that people don’t want to see the jokes in it, the magic in it, the awesome empowering fights, the great music, the great ideas. In time, BtVS became my magical little moment, where nothing bad can happen and good people always find their way home.

Everything started in 1992. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a blonde ditzy girl, with superpowers and a mission. Mission that kinda stood in her way, because she wanted to date boys and be a pretty cheerleader. So she burnt the school’s gym and that would be all for the feature film. Also, Luke Perry and Donald Sutherland are in it.

In 1997, people on WB wanted a replacement for Savannah, so they did Buffy. And they made it legendary.

This article is the first in a series of Buffy-related articles. Stay tuned for info about Characters, Story, Superpowers, Metaphors, Buffyverse, Music, and so on.

Pic here.

Hoping for a better show…

Only to be let down again.
On and on, I have written about The Walking Dead, I have stood by it and encouraged its flaws, only to be let down again.

It’s no wonder this show makes you use your clichés and what-not. This show is full of them and they are dragging it down.

I hoped that, with the start of a new season, things will start moving. What the heck, we had Michonne, and we had the Governor (Philip? Really?!) and we had the Prison.

Those were important story arcs in the comic book, but they all oh-so-flawed and tedious, that I’m beginning to think I am watching a Saturday morning program instead of my usual dish of weekly zombies.

Yeah, so sue me. I have a thing for zombies and vampires and all of the supernatural, inexplicable things. And when I say that I have a thing for them, that means I love movies about them, TV shows about them, books about them. No matter how bad they are. I love bad TV as much as my popcorn, but that doesn’t mean I will encourage this anymore.

Since the new TWD season has started, only its fourth episode was worth watching. I mean, come on! Even the second season had a decent premiere, to say at least.

I was “OOOOK, where’s the action?”. I was expecting a bad ass Michonne, only to get a wannabe-grunty-young chick with 2 zombie-mules with no faces whatsoever. Where is the bad assery? I’ll tell you where it is: nowhere in sight. Michonne just disagrees with everyone, barely says a word and is a pale shadow of the comic book Michonne. Usually, that wouldn’t pose a problem, but when you need strong characters, and you get almost nothing, you kinda feel cheated.

Next: the Governor. WTF, Mazzara, WTF?! I was expecting a ruthless psycho that could strike fear just by looking at you. What do I get? A pedo-looking-Jesus-wannabe, clean and shaven sociopath aaaaaand… And that’s about it. I was expecting someone like Danny Trejo, with the eyes of Steve Buscemi. What’s the deal with this Governor? BTW, his name is Philip and only Andrea (of all the people!) gets to know it.

Next and the worst: the Prison. It’s not that the scenery is barely believable (because it is that way), it’s not that the convicts are unrealistic (because they’re not), it’s just that… I think it was forced. People were starting to get tired of the Farm thingy, so they got their Prison. Supposedly, 8 months have passed since the farm attack. But yet, except for Carl and Carol, little character development is seen. And their only evolution is that they get better at shooting. Things are starting to look bad in the group, with all the tensions and not-speaking to each other, that they gave T-Dogg new (and better) lines. When the black dude starts talking, you know he’s gonna die. Plus, they had one more black prisoner in the joint, so that’s one black dude too many.

What do I want? Episodes like Killer Within. Things happened, even though Michonne and Andrea float adrift in a sea of shit. Andrea is unrealistic and weird and annoying as usual, but that puts her in her normal spot. Michonne is awkward and wannabe-fierce, but accomplishes nothing. The Governor looks like a good uncle, that could rape his little nephew, but that doesn’t make him dangerous to the world, only a psycho. The Prison is on its way to good use, so this is where I’m directing my prayers. So far, only this episode will get my vote. Let’s see what happens next.

The Walking Dead – here we go again…

Ce faci cand ai la dispozitie una dintre cele mai bune povesti cu si despre zombi, fie ea si inspirata dintr-un comic book?

Te gandesti, daca esti Frank Darabont, sa o transformi in serial. Pentru ca, oricat de multe seriale cu si despre supra si para-normal sunt pe lumea asta, intotdeauna e loc de mai mult.

Deci, dupa cativa ani de The Walking Dead in scris si desen (Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore si Charlie Adlard), te pregatesti sufleteste si moral sa imparti lumii the ultimate TV show.

Premiera serialului a avut loc pe 31 octombrie 2010, fix de Halloween. Tin minte ca am vazut varianta pre-air cu vreo doua saptamani inainte si am fost atat de incantata, ca am revazut episodul (lung de aproximativ o ora) de vreo doua-trei ori.

Dupa doua sezoane, unul de sase episoade, celalalt de 13, show-ul de la AMC a revenit pe ecrane, cu un nou episod, la jumatatea lui octombrie.

14 octombrie e ziua in care toti fanii TWD si-au pus sperantele. Multi stiau comic book-ul dinainte, altii au aflat de el abia dupa ce s-au uitat la serial. Inevitabil, comparatii intre cele doua s-au facut, de cele mai multe ori in defavoarea serialului.

Eu recunosc ca am ajuns cu cititul la numarul 102 din comic book, dar de vreo doua luni m-am oprit, pentru ca… Adevarul e ca in ea libertatile pe care si le permite Kirkman sunt infinit mai multe decat ce au la dispozitie niste producatori TV. Se joaca cu soarta personajelor (si chiar soarta personajelor iubite de public) fix cum vrea el, ajutandu-se de o franchete si o violenta uneori gratuite.

Cand s-a terminat cel de-al doilea sezon am fost momiti cu personaje noi (pentru serial) si cu locuri noi (pentru serial). Asa ca vara a trecut, gandindu-ne la Michonne si la The Governor si la Prison.

Vara a trecut, dupa un lung sezon doi impiedicat si cu povesti greoaie si lungite fara rost. Octombrie venea cu povesti noi si oameni noi, introdusi usor diferit fata de cei din comic book, dar la fel de spectaculosi.

Primul episod din cel de-al treilea sezon The Walking Dead a debutat brusc. Incercand parca sa intareasca ideea ca „This isn’t a democracy anymore”, vedem dintr-o data cum tot grupul lui Rick se comporta ca un tot unitar, toata lumea stie brusc sa foloseasca arme de foc, ba unde mai pui ca apar si amortizoare de tot felul.

Dupa un raid scurt al unei case aparent parasite, dupa un kill rapid al tuturor inhabitantilor de vitalitate indoielnica, dupa ce ramai uimit de burta lui Lori (sau Whori, cum o alinta fanii pe internet), dupa ce ramai socat de faptul ca T-Dogg nu e total inutilizabil, iar Carl parca incepe si el sa asculte de autoritatea parinteasca, ii vezi pe toti grabiti sa dispara din casa respectiva,
din cauza grupurilor de zombie atrasi de ei.

Daryl inca n-a renuntat la „salbaticia” lui, si nici la motocicleta. Carol nu e total useless. Rick o ignora pe Lori din ce in ce mai mult. Lori e din ce in ce mai ingrijorata de soarta ei, a copilului si a lor toti. Fetele lui Hershel s-au trezit brusc dintr-o viata indestulata in Sud intr-o lume incredibila si moarta, Hershel si-a pierdut directia, iar Glenn parca e lipit de Maggie.

Astea fiind zise, dramele sunt putine. Vorbele sunt putine, ceea ce inseamna, pentru urmaritorii fideli, ca mare parte din greselile sezonului doi sunt spalate.

Grupul face cunostinta cu inchisoarea. Din ce-am putut observa, Rick-din-serial inca n-a devenit Rick-din-comic-book. Fervoarea celui din urma, disperarea amplificata de o speranta continua, de sentimentul de „stiu ca poate fi mai bine de atat” inca nu poate fi redat pe sticla. Mult timp, Rick-din-serial a avut parte doar de calitatile pozitive ale confratelui sau din comic book, pe cand pe
cele negative i le-a pasat aproape integral lui Shane. Personajul e usor subdezvoltat, dar sper ca acest Prison-story-arc sa-l ajute sa ajunga omul care e in comic book.

In inchisoare se intampla chestii. In prima faza, „curata” zombii de la intrare. In a doua faza, dorm in celule. In a treia faza, se incearca curatarea restului inchisorii. Maggie se dovedeste cea mai utila femeie, luptandu-se cot la cot cu restul barbatilor. Hershel ii ia locul lui Dale, fiind el muscat de picior. Rick e pus fata in fata cu decizia de a-i taia piciorul. O face rapid, dar mult mai sec si mai fricos decat in comic book. La final, ii vedem pe cei patru (?) – atatia erau in comic book – inmates din sala de mese. Blackout – s-a terminat episodul.

In paralel, in scurte momente, avem parte de Michonne si Andrea. Michonne si sabia ei, Michonne si zombii ei, Michonne si dedicatia cu care sta alaturi de Andrea, care e the same old bitchy woman with a clear deathwish care era si inainte.

Per total, episodul a avut mai putine vorbe. Putin dialog, putin cantec, cateva scene gandite prost (Daryl si Carol, Lori si Rick, Rick si conserva, Andrea si Michonne, cantecul la focul de tabara, soldatii in echipamentele alea greoaie).

Pe de alta parte, au schimbat genericul, au lasat melodia. Totul pare mai dramatic, totul pare mai intens, asteptarile sunt mai grele. Acest prim episod din cel de-al treilea sezon nu e CHIAR ce trebuia sa fie, dar e mai mult decat nimic – e semnul ca lucrurile se indreapta in directia cea buna.

Ce mi-as dori de la sezonul trei? Nu neaparat zombi, ci actiune. As dori mai multe conflicte interne, as dori mai multe pericole din exterior, altele decat eternii „umblatori”. As vrea ca personajele sa devina imprevizibile, sa reactioneze neasteptat. As vrea sa nu le fie frica sa le dea personajelor noi
dimensiuni. As vrea sa-i vad cum se lupta cu mai multe chestii de-odata (de exemplu, cu zombi, cu unii care vor sa le ia adapostul, intre ei si cu vremea).

Sper ca macar la jumatatea sezonului sa devina chestia aia curajoasa care este The Walking Dead – the comic book.

Sursa poze: 1, 2, 3.