Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

If You Like This, Watch That

Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nine, Ten, Eleven (This is a LOT More Than Just Counting)

In the wake of watching the latest Doctor Who Christmas special (which tore my emotions into itty bitty pieces of confetti and, of course, caused me to curse Moffat), I thought it was very intriguing how Eleven dealt with his pain and grief. Throughout the course of the series, we’ve seen all three incarnations of the Time Lord Victorious deal with the loss of companions and those he loved very differently. Each Doctor seems to unearth a new layer of pain within himself every time he loses someone and Eleven’s grief over Amy and Rory was no different in that regard.

So I thought it would be interesting to chart the way in which Nine, Ten, and Eleven have dealt with their losses and what this says about each of them as incarnations of the same person. Because truly, it’s revealing when you realize that this person – this alien, traveling through space and time – is not three actors. He’s not even three regenerations, really. He’s ONE man. ONE Time Lord. And ONE person who has suffered.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Call This One: "I Just Have a Lot of Feelings About The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"

I began watching Doctor Who and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for very similar reasons. I had heard about both shows from friends – the titles kept appearing in conversations and tweets and texts – so I decided to give them both a chance. And I originally had the same thoughts regarding both: they were funny, dramatic, and had engaging characters. I was intrigued. But there came a point in both shows where, for lack of a better phrase, I was hit in the feels.

Doctor Who can cause me, long after the episode has ended, to curl up in the fetal position, rock back and forth, and – in between sobs – yell “MOFFAT!” at my screen. Because the truth is this: Steven Moffat is brilliant. He’s a weaver of stories, characters, and development. For any show to succeed, for any character to become likeable – nay, enjoyable – there has to be growth. And that growth is usually always accompanied by pain. Nothing causes a person to grow quite like having to endure heartache. Moffat, I believe, understands this VERY well. And we, the audience, understand the spiral of depression that he puts us through as a writer. We shake our fists and curse Moffat because he rips our hearts and emotions out. (And then stomps on them. A lot.)

I never assumed that I’d lump Rachel Kiley in with Steven Moffat, but after the past two episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries… well, Kiley has officially entered Moffat Territory (it’s like a theme park of emotional turmoil). But the fact that I am even comparing her to the current writer for Doctor Who means that she must be doing SOMETHING right. So let’s discuss a few things, shall we?

I’m going to preface this post right now, because I’ll always strive to be honest with my readers about opinions regarding characters, plot, etc. So, here’s the deal: I empathize more with Lizzie, normally, than I do with Lydia. I will do my best to remain objective when I discuss both characters because I do LOVE both of them. I honestly and truly love all the characters in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but I see more of myself in her than Lydia. Secondly, I don’t understand all the Tumblr hate toward either sister. I never understand unnecessary hatred toward television characters (unless they’re completely and utterly villainized. Or, you know, Michelle Slater from Community). Especially in the case of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I cannot comprehend hatred for either Lizzie or Lydia – we, the audience, don’t know the entirety of each characters’ stories. We see what Lizzie lets us see, know what she knows, and only that. Unlike a book which can delve into the innermost thoughts and feelings of characters, shows are restricted in that way. Secondly, I’m going to discuss characters and their development (and why I feel they acted the way that they did). Finally, I’ll incorporate the brilliance of the show’s writing into my analysis of these last few episodes. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jenn's Pick: Top 10 Television Pilots

Television pilots are tricky things. And by that, what I really mean is that hardly anyone (at least anyone who I have met) will say that their favorite episode of any television series is the pilot. It takes a good, long while for some shows to establish the tone of their show and to develop their characters. For some shows, this may take a few episodes. For others, it will take seasons. But pilots are integral and necessary to a show – I’ve always held fast to the belief that, to measure the progression of a show, you should watch its pilot and the most current episode to date. It is then that you can determine whether the show has progressed or regressed in terms of plot, consistency, character development, etc. Take, for example, the pilot episode of something like Doctor Who. The 2005 pilot, “Rose,” introduced us to a shop girl from London and a 900-year old, time-traveling alien. The ninth incarnation of the Doctor was dark and pretty self-hating. Rose Tyler was young, optimistic, and someone we (or at least I) assumed would always be the damsel-in-distress. As you might know, if you watch the show, Doctor Who has progressed so much in terms of developing characters, plot, and yes, even special effects. (They have come a LONG way since 2005, let me tell you!)

So, I’ve decided to list ten pilot episodes of shows that have passed every test in my book and landed in the “solid pilot” pile. But what you’re about to discover is something pretty interesting: I don’t like some of these shows anymore.

“But Jenn,” you might say, “I thought you said that these shows passed your test!”

While these series may have developed pilots that passed with flying colors, some of them are shows that I merely fell out of love with, and some – shockingly! – I even detest now. Pilots are episodes that are important, as I said earlier, but are not always indicative of a show’s consistency to be spectacular. Also, it’s interesting to note that the exact opposite is true.

(Spoiler alert: you will not see Community or Doctor Who listed. Though these are two of my favorite shows to date, their pilots weren’t enrapturing enough to make my list. I didn’t fall in love with Community until five episodes later, and Doctor Who took me until “World War Three” to really connect with.)

So just because a show is absent from this list or, conversely, because it’s on it, don’t assume that this is indicative of my present feelings toward the series.

With that, are you ready to see which pilots made it onto my list? (Don’t worry, guys. I still have a LOT of great pilots that have been suggested – LOST, Alias, Friday Night Lights – that will not be on here, merely because I have not seen the series yet.) Well, then, let’s head back to the very beginning!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... A Christmas Playlist Post!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s always been my favorite holiday (and that has nearly nothing to do with the fact that Christmas marks a month and a day until my birthday). It’s a special time of year when families come together, eat, sing carols, and open presents. For me, there’s always been something wonderful and magical about Christmas.

I grew up in a Catholic family, so church has always been a part of my life. Not until I was older and switched churches though, did I actually enjoy going to services. My favorite tradition, without fail, is still going to Christmas Eve candlelight service with my entire family. The hush that falls over a congregation and swooping feeling when everyone quietly and tentatively begins to sing “Silent Night” is just beautiful. And as I’ve grown up, a lot of things have changed – I’ve moved from Pennsylvania, where I spent the first thirteen years of my life, to Florida. I don’t have snow at Christmas, anymore, but that doesn’t bother me so much.

(Snow on Christmas is fun, you guys. … and then there’s slush and ice and snow for the next four months to follow and it’s not so nice anymore.)

When I moved to Florida, however, I got the unique opportunity in to perform with my high school choir (and many others around the area) at Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional during Christmastime. This was one of the best experiences in my high school career, as I was able to share the stage with hundreds of other singers and celebrity guest narrators each year. Hearing the Christmas story read by people like Neil Patrick Harris and Chita Rivera was really something quite special. And hearing a powerful chorus of voices sing carols was truly awesome.

What will always remain the same, in spite of everything that may change throughout the years, is how much I love and adore Christmas music. And so, under Amber’s (@amtrak112) suggestion, I decided to do a blog post tonight about some of my favorite Christmas songs and renditions!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Underdogs, Unite! (Five Things You May Not Know About, But Should)

As a fan of Community, I've become used to the term "underdog." And it's occurred to me that there are a lot of "underdogs" in this world that deserve some recognition. There are shows and books that seem like secrets to those who watch or read them -- hidden little gems to be discovered and unearthed. Community is a show that is small in terms of ratings, but mighty in terms of the dedication of its fanbase. I'm proud to call myself a fan of the show and even prouder to align myself with other people who are so passionate about the writers, producers, actors, and content of the show itself. And I'm EVEN prouder to be associated with a show that loves me, the fan, right back -- a show whose actors and writers are accessible via Twitter and other social media outlets, who appreciate and love us, who write and act with us in mind. 

It's quite something to be a fan of the underdog, isn't it? Even though The Big Bang Theory and American Idol may slay us on a weekly basis in Nielsen ratings, the point and purpose of the underdog is not, necessarily, to win but to fight. And fight, Community does. We have made our name known, and because of that, we have won all that matters.

So now, it's time to honor five of my favorite underdogs! These are either shows or books that deserve praise that isn't often given, but always deserved. Ready to find out what I've chosen? Venture below the cut and find out! :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Of Love, Family, and Vlogs (Or "Watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Everyone")

As a former English major, I used to hear it said that there were only a few plots in all of literature, and that our job – as writers – was to make these plots original, somehow. And it’s true, when you really think about it. The story of “Pride and Prejudice,” for instance, has been told a million (it’s an estimate) times since the story originally was published. We can sit and think of countless movies where the female and male love interests began their respective stories despising one another. It’s not that the plot itself is simple, because it is not. The characters aren’t simple, either. The reason that producers continue to create romantic comedies with similar premises are because the emotions and situations are universal, not simple.

My reason for writing this blog entry is not to convince you that you should watch romantic comedies (though you should, because they can be a lot of fun). I’d simply like to introduce you to the latest version of “Pride and Prejudice” to captivate audiences: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”