Monday, May 24, 2010

Bye Bye Lost

So "Lost" is over and I am in mourning. There are very few shows where I have actually felt bereft at their ends.
  • "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" - I came late to this series starting in the 3rd season but I came to love it above all the other Treks (though I love them all, make no mistake). More serialized than other Treks, the show was amazing. The storyline was epic. The characters, who were not necessarily full-time heroes of the usual Star Trek mode, were well-drawn and portrayed by actors who made even alien species seem real. And the relationships between characters were strong and real: O'Brien and Bashir, Jadzia and Worf, Kira and Kai Winn, Kira and Dukat, Sisko and son Jake (one of the most loving parent-child relationships ever), Kira and Odo, Jake and Nog, Weyoun and anybody, Quark and Rom, and most especially Quark and Odo. The finale was satisfying and heartbreaking all at once.
  • "Knots Landing" - This was my all-time favorite nighttime soap opera. At the time, it had a storyline that was more realistic than its sister show "Dallas" or the other nighttime behemoth "Dynasty." But who are we kidding? It had crazy, outlandish plots just like all the others. What set it apart were the relationships. Interestingly, I don't have much memory of the actual finale, but I do remember feeling sad and depressed when it ended. It had been on for 14 seasons, at that time for my entire adult life. The specifics don't matter so much because it was my relationship to the show that mattered.
  • "Lost" - No, the finale did not answer all the questions it raised but I feel it answered what mattered: the relationships between the characters. As every character is awakened in the Sideways reality, they regain the relationships they've formed and lost (no pun intended) on the way to that reality. Tears abound with each reconnection and we can believe that the characters have found each other and have found peace. I loved the finale. A little confused, but satisfied. I think the producers were correct to make the conclusion about the people, not the mythology.
The best part of these programs, for me, is the relationships of the characters, not the mythology or mysteries left unsolved or unanswered.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Current TV Schedule

I don't watch nearly as much television as I used to but there are still several programs I follow. Here's the specifics:
  • Lost - So sad that it's ending Sunday.
  • CSI - Only the original recipe. Miami and New York were on too late so we never got started watching them.
  • Survivor - I've missed a few early seasons here and there (WHY are school performances/activities always scheduled for Thursday nights?!). This is my one reality program and I used to feel kind of guilty about watching it at all. But that's ridiculous. If I want to watch Survivor, I'm going to watch Survivor! So there!
  • House - My favorite drama after Lost and poised to become #1. Hugh Laurie, who portrays Dr. House, is also a brilliant British comedian. I am looking forward to watching his Jeeves & Wooster series this summer. Blackadder is also hysterically funny. The House message boards are full of people complaining about this show ("It's not as good anymore.") but I disagree.
  • Dancing with the Stars - I guess this is a reality show too but with professional dancers and (some quasi-) celebrities. I generally have someone to root for and then you come to know the celebs better and I find that I'm rooting for several at the same time. Except for when I'm only rooting for Donny Osmond and Kristi Yamaguchi during their seasons
  • The Simpsons - Still pretty funny after 20 years. This show started around the time that my husband and I began dating and we used to get together and watch this show. Our son loves it too.
  • Modern Family - This is a newer show, only one season old, and it had critics falling all over themselves telling us how great it is. And it is. We love this one and every episode has some great lines worth quoting after. Sample: After the husband asks where his good underwear is, his wife replies, "The question is, why isn't ALL your underwear good?"
  • Cougar Town - This new show, starring Courteney Cox, has transcended its earlier episodes where the newly divorced main character focused on dating younger men. After a few episodes it morphed into a great ensemble comedy. None of it has any touch of reality - these characters are all pretty well off and they spend much time sitting around drinking. I guess it appeals because this is how we think we'd like to live? But it's funny too and that's what keeps us coming back every week.
  • 30 Rock - Another great ensemble comedy centered around a TV show. A little silly sometimes but almost always laugh out loud funny, especially when it makes fun of NBC.
  • Community - Another new show, one season old. We love this one and it also has many lines worth quoting after the episode is over. It takes place at a community college. We got our son to watch and he loves it too, though he prefers watching it on the Internet than with us on the TV set. Kids.
  • The Colbert Report - I started watching this several years ago. Colbert plays a fake conservative pundit. Very funny.
  • As the World Turns - The only daytime soap I have ever truly loved, it's canceled as of this coming September. I started watching again this year. I have always gone in phases in watching it, a year on, a couple of years off. But now that it's ending I am watching until the bitter end.
And then there are a few that have been canceled this year:
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine - With Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wanda Sykes and a great supporting cast, this was a really cite comedy. A little too far to the silly side lately but still worthwhile. Oh well.
  • Better Off Ted - We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this show, a comedy about a huge corporation (much funnier than it sounds). Too bad ABC didn't. Portia de Rossi was so funny as a corporate supervisor and the guys who played scientists Lem and Phil were screamingly funny.
  • Flash Forward - We liked this show but didn't love it. We have about 5 episodes on the DVR waiting for us. Obviously not a must-see for others either as it ends after only one season.
  • Heroes - I really liked this show, about people with superpowers, but people kept criticizing the show. I think the producers kept listening to the complainers and then kept changed the show, always trying to be all things to all people. But it did give us Zachary Quinto, now probably better known as the new Mr. Spock in the recent Star Trek movie.
  • Scrubs - This had been canceled last year but they brought it back with a retooled premise: med school instead of hospital based. It took a while to grow on us and we really loved it by the end. Too late. It's gone.
And shows that start during the summer!
  • Mad Men - I LOVE this show and am looking forward to the next season starting in July.
  • Wipeout - A pretty goofy game show where people need to go over various obstacle courses. Lots of lowbrow falls into the mud/water/etc.. The kind of show a DVR is invented for: record whenever it's on and then we can speed through to the good parts. TOTAL junk food TV but it makes me laugh so what the heck.
The method I try to follow when watching TV is "don't add new shows!" It never seems to take. This year alone we added 2-1/2 hours of programming. With cancellations we still ended up with a net gain of 1-1/2 hours of new shows. Ah well, TV is swell.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Will Survive! (But not on "Survivor")

In honor of last night's Season 20 finale of the reality show "Survivor" (I think Parvati got robbed!) here are the reasons I will never be a contestant on the show...
  • I am afraid of bugs.
  • I don't know how to swim.
    • Yes, some seasons don't have swimming-related challenges but most do.
    • Yes, I could learn to swim, but peeps, it just ain't gonna happen.
  • Without my glasses I wouldn't be able to see a thing.
  • I hate getting dirty and staying dirty.
  • I wouldn't be able to sleep well, leading to constant headaches
    • I do not sleep well in my own cushy, comfortable bed with 6 fluffy pillows and down comforter so no way would I be able to manage sleeping in a shelter with a bunch of other strangers
  • Lack of food would mean lack of energy.
  • Going to the bathroom would not be easy: no privacy, no tp, no toilet!
  • Too much sweating. I hate hot weather (weird, since I grew up in tropical weather).
    • Unless there would be Survivor: Antarctica
  • I would either be a shy wallflower or open my mouth and talk people to death.  Neither would be a great strategy.
  • I have a very round face (even when I'm thin, by the way) & I would not be photogenic enough for TV.
    • Think "Fat Monica" on "Friends" where the camera "adds 10 pounds" and the question is, "How many cameras are actually on you?" That would be me. 
  • I do not want to eat gross stuff in a challenge.
  • I get motion sickness too easily (mostly headaches and nausea).
  • I would be terrible in physical challenges.  Too chubby and out of shape sadly.
  • I am too old for Survivor standards.
    • Yes, there are a few competitors older than me but just last night Jeff Probst said the average age of Survivor winners is 32.  Um, that ship sailed many years ago (about 16, to be precise).
I don't watch any other reality shows and perhaps there is one out there that would be a good fit for me.  Am I missing any reasons?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Book Obsession Never Ends

Okay, I've blogged about my favorite books and also included one review of a book I did not like.  Have you been wondering what other books I didn't like or feel are bad literature?  Sure you have!
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding - I never had to read this book in high school because I was a fast reader and by the time the class got to Lord of the Flies I was already reading Great Expectations instead.  I picked it up later during high school because I figured it must be good.  Um, no.  I didn't even get past the first few chapters. I think this might fall under the category "Better Appreciated When Older" but I still haven't made the effort to tackle it again.  My son read it in his high school class so teachers are still foisting it onto students' laps.  It has been too long since my high school years to remember the specifics of why I disliked this book so much that I never even finished it.
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - Same situation as above but I did manage to finish this book.  I know a LOT of people adore this book and it really has deep meaning for them.  I was bored and had no connection to Holden Caulfield.  Another candidate for "Better Appreciated When Older"??
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Also boring to me.  But again, I read it in high school and I think teenagers have no real life experience to appreciate this type of book. It never made me want to read anything else by FSF.
  • The Bridges of Madison County by somebody I'm too lazy to look up - Ugh.  Why take two sentences to describe a situation when you can use twenty?  On the TV show Frasier, this book's style was parodied when Frasier reads a book similar to Bridges.  I think he is reading aloud or there is voice-over narration as he reads.  The author is writing a farewell and it goes on and on, then Frasier turns several pages and the goodbye is still going on.  If I knew how to find that clip and imbed it I would because it was a perfect tweak at this book.  Which was also too boring to finish.  I never saw the Meryl Streep/Clint Eastwood film but it must be better than the book.
  • Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley - The biggest thing I remember about this book was that it came out the day after I got married.  And Scarlett calls her child "Cat."  And I watched the TV miniseries too.  Not good, either one.
  • She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb - An Oprah Book Club selection I happened to read before she picked it.  It had the most unappealing main character.  Just ugh.
  • A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton - I think this book was most disappointing in that it wasn't the story I expected.  I thought it would somehow relate to a MAP OF THE WORLD from the main character's childhood and it was instead a story of a child's accidental drowning and its aftermath, not a good book to read when your own child is about the age of the child who drowns.
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by someone - Very popular a couple of years ago but I was so bored by it and only read halfway through. It's supposed to be a version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."  Seriously, read or reread "Hamlet" instead.
  • The Celestine Prophecy by who cares - This book, purportedly a novel, was terrible, filled with such perfect coincidences as some guy tracks down the meaning of life.  Or something.  It seemed that every person he meets just happens to hold the key to the next stage in his journey.  I am not a new agey kind of person so maybe that's my problem with this one.  He should have written it as a non-fiction journey and then it never would have crossed my mind to read it.  Only got to the 4th or 5th chapter.
  • Most celebrity autobiographies - I have read quite a few, pop culture junkie that I am.  There are some great ones out there (Carol Burnett's, for an example) but most are awful.  Even so, these can be some of the tastiest of the junk food books.  Just doesn't make them good literature.
  • Trashy novels - I am not talking about Harlequins (only ever read 2 of those and they were practically identical; thus endeth the romantic novel phase of my life) but rather those like:
    • Valley of the Dolls
    • Peyton Place
    • The trash fest of the 1980's - We had so many junk food books to gorge on!
      • Queenie - the thinly-veiled Merle Oberon story
      • Jackie Collins and Hollywood Wives
      • Lace - featuring the all-time best line of trash dialogue, "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"  And played by our heroine Phoebe Cates in the miniseries, a girl we knew and loved, along with Jayne Modean, from Seventeen magazine
      • Danielle Steel - I only ever read one of hers (The Ring) and it was entertaining but not enough to read any others I guess
      • Sidney Sheldon - he gave us trashy novels AND I Dream Of Jeannie!
        • Master of the Game was my especial favorite
      • Judith Krantz
        • Dear, dear Scruples with it's heroine going from fat to chic in a few pages time and sex scenes that had a bunch of 17-year-olds grouping around the book saying, "ooh, how gross!"
          • And its sequel Scruples 2 which gave Lady Chardonnay & me the chance to use the phrase "waternixie green" from time to time
        • And of course, Princess Daisy.  It took place early on at UC Santa Cruz, OUR school!
        • I'll Take Manhattan with its great TV miniseries with Valerie Bertinelli, Barry Bostwick, Jane Kaczmarek, Tim Daly, Julianne Moore, Perry King
    • I don't hate any of these books but I don't necessarily think they are great literature.  And I actually adore many of them.  They are so darn entertaining. 
Okay, my peeps, enough for now.  What are your bad books?