Shows Worth Watching: Grimm

Image from Wikipedia

This month’s Shows Worth Watching is all about NBC’s Grimm.  The very basic premise of Grimm is it’s a cop show with a slight twist to it.  The twist being that Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide detective, is what is known as a Grimm – a line of hunters who fight supernatural forces and beings.  Inspiration for the series is mainly taken from the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales, a collection of stories from the early 1800’s that, during that time, were fairly scary children’s stories (Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, & Cinderella are some of the more popular Grimm stories).

Nick discovers he’s a Grimm after his aunt comes to visit him because she is dying.  She ends up dying while fighting a Wesen – the group of humans who have a second identity that only Grimm’s can see at all times, or Wesen can choose to let a human see it’s “creature” form – and that causes Nick’s Grimmness to rise to the surface (being a Grimm is a family trait and usually passes on when a family member dies).  The first episode featured a Wesen known as a Blutbot (played by Silas Weir Mitchell and known as Monroe) whom Nick befriends.  This is odd due to Grimm’s usually killing Wesen whenever they can.  The balance of Nick being a detective vs. being a Grimm plays a big part in this series and allows Nick to become friends with several Wesen.

What makes this show enjoyable is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The writers are self-aware that the concept of this show can come off as ridiculous. Viewers see the writers self-awareness via the humor that appears in the show or some of the dialog of the cast.  Another good aspect of Grimm is keeping good characters around.  The character of Monroe is a key point to this.  Being featured in the first episode, making him and Nick become friends, having Monroe be in on investigations, and the overall character development of Monroe were all integral to making this show fun.  Monroe has been fleshed out a lot more over the past seasons and expanding on his story-line adds to the show. The writers do a good job of being able to balance between creature of the week and ongoing plot lines as well.  In a lot of shows, a “… of the week” aspect can get played out and take over a series.  With Grimm, the creature of the week tends to be a fun episode that reminds the viewer Nick is a detective.  The show has used small aspects of the “… of the week” feature in the ongoing plots here and there, tying things together in a not too complicated way.

One thing that has been a slight take away from Grimm is Nick’s girlfriend Juliette.  Juliette is a vet and it first seemed the writers would find a way to work this into Nick’s Wesen world.  Turned out that they didn’t quite know what to do with her.  Juliette more often ended up being a damsel in distress or a convenient plot device, which weakened her character.  However, the current fourth season really turned things around and has given Juliette a much more purposeful story.  I’m not the biggest fan of her current development, but at least she finally got something substantial.  Another thing that seems to get a little complicated is the back-story of the Royals – Wesens who are members of the seven royal families who keep the Wesen world in line.  The mythology of this gets a bit convoluted, making it hard to determine who is who and what side they really are on.  Sometimes it feels as if the mythology of Grimm isn’t known to even the writers.

Grimm will be on its fifth season next year and the most surprising thing about that is it has kept its original cast in tact.  Nick’s partner, Hank, has been a consistent presence since the first episode and has been given his own story-lines rather than be known as “the partner.”  Monroe has been a shining aspect of the show and if he ever left, the show would be seriously hindered.  The show has even managed to add to the cast and provide them with fairly integral roles, with the occasional misses here and there.

Overall Grimm is a fun show to watch and has improved with each season.  The current fourth season being the best so far. This show airs on Friday nights, which for some programs is the death-blow.  However, the Friday night slot works in Grimm’s favor.  It’s nice to be able to tune into a program on a Friday night that seems simplistic on the surface, but really gives the viewers what they want – good old enjoyment.  I highly recommend catching an episode of Grimm.  It’s fun and enjoyable and something to look forward to on Friday nights.

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Sick of being sick

Day nine of being sick. My abode is a festering cesspool of mutating super germs. I’ve come to the conclusion the apocalypse won’t be reanimated corpses, rather society being afflicted with endless days of illness.  Sapping every ounce of energy and destroying the will to survive.

Fall T.V. Premiere time – A T.V. Junkie’s Bliss!

Tonight the fall T.V. shows either premiere  or start back up again.  In the eyes of a T.V. junkie, as I am, I couldn’t be happier.  After a few months of lackluster T.V. (other than my 1 month World Cup coma) it will be nice to see some good shows again.

The first show I’m looking forward to is Gotham, which is on FOX.  Gotham is about Commissioner Gordon and his rise from detective to the Commissioner.  We’ll get to see a young Bruce Wayne as well as some of Gotham’s villains.  Previews have looked compelling and buzz is this could be one the best new T.V. shows this season.  Here’s to hoping it’s worth the hype.

Show two is the return of Sleepy Hollow, another FOX series.  Last season left Ichabod and Abbie in questionable peril, but previews have shown that doesn’t last long.  This was one of my favorite shows from last year.  The premise seemed ridiculous – Ichabod Crane comes back to life due to a curse and teams up with a local detective to fight the evil forces that are invading Sleepy Hollow and hopefully stop their fated future.  But Tom Mision and Nicole Beharie have excellent chemistry, the writers gave a fast and fun plot line, and they put a humorous spin on Ichabod’s acclimatization to the modern world.  We’ll see if season two can hold up to the fun and enjoyment of the first one.

Constantine from NBC, which will be on Friday nights is another show that I’m hoping will be good.  This show is based on the comic book Hellblazer, which, I haven’t read.  Constantine has a vast knowledge of dark arts and has a sharp wit where he fights to protect the innocent.  I haven’t seen any previews of this show but I like the concept and am looking forward to checking out the premiere.

One show I’m totally on the fence about is Gracepoint from FOX.  This is the American version of the excellent Broadchurch that originally aired on BBC America.  Why it needed an American remake is beyond me and to have David Tennant in this version as well is an odd idea.  Part of what made the BBCA version so good was the Brits know how to do a drama.  The previews I’ve seen don’t seem to capture that compelling drama of the original. Then again, it could just be my jaded opinion on a remake of this show.  I’ll check it out just to see how the show is.

Marvel’s Agents of Shield is back for a second season and I’m hoping the action that happened in the second half of the series continues in the second season.  Grimm is another show that is back again this year.  This is just a fun show to watch and not one to take too seriously.  Yes there are some issues with it but it fits its Friday night-time slot well and it’s a fun show on a Friday night.  And of course there’s the next season of The Walking Dead on AMC.  Season five is much hyped (like all other seasons have been) and the Grimes gang has to find a way out of Terminus.

There are other shows I’m looking forward to, but these are some of the main ones.  How about you – what shows are you looking forward to?

Amazon vs Hachette – the Battle for Books

Amazon, the online Juggernaut of books and a whole bunch of other stuff, has been in the news again in regards to book prices and deals with publishers.  Negotiations are with the publisher Hachette and neither, no doubt, will want to give in.

The negotiations center around e-book prices and co-op deals (go here David Gaughran’s post for a decent explanation).  Amazon has been accused of delaying delivery on books, saying a book is out of stock and pointing customers to another book, and saying several books aren’t available for a few weeks.  If true, all of these tactics are very underhanded and petty.  Or if Hachette is just running a smoke and mirrors PR campaign, that is equally underhanded and petty.

What lies at issue for me is both companies are playing with people’s lively hoods and passions.  I understand companies wanting decent contracts that favor themselves and the other side not wanting to give in because they want something favoring themselves as well.  They are businesses and the purpose of a business is to make money.  When that battle involves someone’s work, the battle affects more than the company.  Publishers clearly need to get with the times and update their antiquated contacts.  Much like the legal industry has come to understand, publishers need to realize business is done differently today.  Technology has changed the way books can be accessed, printed, and distributed.

There are scores of writers out there who have taken the self-publishing route and Amazon does a good job at offering these writers a way to sell their books.  There are also scores of writers who don’t want to go with self-publishing route and want to sign with a traditional publisher.  Both of these types of writers should have the option of pursuing what works best for them.  Traditional publishers need to step outside of the box they are so entrenched in and start looking at different types of books/writers.  Stop pursuing the next 50 Shades or the next Dan Brown.  Start looking at something that is a bit different and doesn’t fit the mold of the next best seller or fit into an easily identifiable category.  Take a chance and change how they do business.

I do not own an e-reader (yes I could download on my phone/tablet/laptop, but I like physical books, sorry) so I may have a slightly skewed viewpoint, but that’s Okay.  Everyone should have a viewpoint.   I do not want Amazon to be the only book seller out there (I don’t think they want that either).  I don’t want Barnes and Noble to close. I don’t want to see another indie bookstore close.  All of these retailers offer choices to the customer, which is good for everyone.

Choice is what is needed, for the seller, the buyer, and most importantly, the writer.  The writer is who I love, who I look forward to when a new book is set to come out, who I don’t want to see be limited or, worse, discouraged and give up.  So Amazon, Hachette, and whoever is next: get it together.  Figure out a new way to do business.  Stop living in the box and take a chance.  You aren’t the important ones here.  The writer and the reader are.

In The Flesh – Season Two

You ask “another zombie themed show, why watch it?”  I say it’s an engrossing show that is more about the person than the zombie.  It’s about the struggle we all go through for acceptance and that of loneliness,  the desire for the former and the need to not be the latter.  BBC America aired the second season of In the Flesh this past weekend and, as I’ve come to expect from BBCA, this program does not disappoint (spoilers from season one are included below)

In the Flesh aired last year as a three episode mini series.  It was an excellent series and I was surprised and happy when I heard a follow-up season would air.  In the Flesh is about Kieren Walker who suffers from PDS – partially deceased syndrome (clever name for a zombie) who is living his life as a zombie living with his parents and his younger sister in a place named Roarton.  Season one was all about Kieren coming back home, adjusting to the realization of his new life, the struggle for acceptance of who he is (in more than just the physical sense), and the struggle to combat loneliness.

One thing I love about BBC America dramas is their ability to project so much emotion with so little.  Dramas on BBCA do a spectacular job of making you feel what the character is feeling.  It’s so easy to connect with the person and relate to them on every level.  They do this in simple ways, sometimes by just showing a person’s look combined with the right music, sometimes by only showing a solitary image of a seemingly unrelated object.  It provides the right mood and allows you to think like the character.  And this was just with a three episode series from last year!

Kieren’s struggle as a human were still there now that he’s a PDS suffer (or “rotter” as the humans refer to them).  Kieren became a zombie by killing himself after his best mate was killed in Afghanistan.  Kieren had wanted to be cremated but his parents couldn’t go through with it and buried him instead, another thing that Kieren has to struggle to deal with.  Once Kieren has gone through all the required acclimatization’s, he is released to live with his family, which isn’t too easy since his sister Jem is part of the  Human Volunteer Force (HVF) whose goal is to protect humans from the rotters, at whatever cost.

Other main topics from the first season was the reveal of Kieren and his best friend being gay and the fact they hid that from everyone they knew.  Something they continued to hide even after rising from the dead.  Kieren’s relationship with his family was another issue.  His sister saw him and his zombie friend Amy, almost shooting him, chowing down on some brains before they were given the drugs to make them seem human again.  Kieren’s relationship with his parents evolved by his dad opening up and telling his son he cared about him regardless of who he loved or what he was (a zombie).

The second season continues with the themes of acceptance and loneliness.   The Undead Liberation Army is not helping things by killing humans as a form of terrorism, while the humans are gaining government power through the Pro-Living Party via Victus.  Kieren wants nothing more than to escape to Paris, where the reanimated are more accepted as a part of society.   Kieren is a good guy and I hope things don’t go badly for him.  In the Flesh is another stellar program from BBC America.  If you’re up for a slightly different take on the zombie theme, give this show a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

BBC America’s Orphan Black

Warning: this post will contain spoilers from season 1 and the first two episodes of season 2 of Orphan Black.  Read at your own risk.

Season two of BBC America’s Orphan Black started back up last week and the first two episodes have not disappointed.

Where to Watch Orphan Black

Image taken from BBC America website

Orphan Black is about Sarah Manning who, after watching a woman who looks just like her jump into the path of a train (from season one), comes to find out she is a clone, and there are several people out there who look like her.  Sarah, forges an at first tenuous relationship with fellow clones Alison, the happy homemaker with a mild drinking problem, and Cosima, the brainy scientist whose been researching all the clones.  Then there’s Helena – the Ukrainian clone who is sadistic, a fundamentalist, seemingly crazy, and murderous.

Season one focused on the reveal of all the clones and the back stories of the characters.  Felix, also known as Fe is Sarah’s “brother” (I believe foster kids together), played a large part in helping Sarah and the clones become real friends. There was a lot of comments online about how Fe was a stereo-typical gay guy, but I’d have to disagree.  He’s very edgy and a bit on the kinky side, I think Modern Family has the much more stereo-typical gay guys (but I do enjoy that show as well).  There were two or three big reveals that played out in season one: Sarah is the only clone who is able to have children (Alison’s are adopted); Helena and Sarah are actually twin sisters (I guess that makes them clone twins? seems a bit redundant, ha!); and the Dyad Institute is actively tracking the clones and wants them all to sign an agreement to participate in the studies. And, oh yeah, Helena was shot and assumed dead.

Season two starts up right at the end of season one – Kira, Sarah’s daughter has been kidnapped and Sarah is desparate to find her.  Cosmia is getting sicker and still does not know why, and Helena makes a surprising comeback.  Although I wasn’t that shocked, she played such an integral part I can’t imagine how the show could continue without her.

The first season of this show was really good – so many revals of the clones and it kept you wondering how many more there were.  Sarah started out as a really unlikable person, but after getting to know her fellow clones, she became much more tolerable.  Her relationship with her daughter also helped to sway viewers on Sarah’s likability.

Tatiana Maslany just KILLS IT in this series.  Her portrayal of each clone is distinct and different.  This is most evident when she plays one clone pretending to be another – Sarah as Cosmia, Alison as Sarah, etc.  The supporting cast does a great job as well, especially when a clone is pretending to be a clone.  It almost makes me wonder if I’m hypnotized by Tatinan’a work and can’t really tell if there is a good story with this show.   Doesn’t really matter because I’m going to keep watching this show.  It’s enjoyable, full of good acting, and has a good pace.   This is why I love BBC America programming, they provide something different and they tend to do a good job at casting.

What are your thoughts on Orphan Black?

51st post!

On Wednesday when I did my last post I got a notice from WordPress that it was my 50th post.  First I thought it was pretty cool that WP gives you this notice.  Second, I thought it was rather sad that I’ve only had 50 posts so far.  My first post was on September 9, 2012 and my intentions when starting this blog were to do posts on a regular basis.  Given it’s been a year and a half and I’m now up to 51 posts I clearly haven’t lived up to those intentions.

So what can I do to try to be more consistent?  Well, one thing that I’ve done is partake in the Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge and have so far reviewed three books (I’ve read more than that, just haven’t gotten around to reviewing them yet).  After that I’m kind of stuck.  I had been going to school on the weekends and during that time I felt oddly motivated to do posts.  I think it was the procrastinator in me not wanting to work on my homework until the last possible minute, as well as the creative feeling/thoughts I had while being in school.  Now that I’m just working rather than working and going to school, I feel as though I’ve lost the motivation and the creativeness that compelled my posts.  What’s a person to do when they feel as though they’ve lost the drive that helps with creativity.

And then today I read a post by Jack Falcco about motivation and I thought to myself “what’s wrong with you?”  It’s time to stop being so lazy (because, my God, can I be lazy) and get with it!  I have to make a schedule where I post at least once a week.  If I don’t have a topic, make one up, or just start a draft of random things and edit the next day.  I tend to feel the most motivated when under time constraints, hence my tendency to blog rather than do homework while I was in school.  Why do something ahead of time when I can do it hours beforehand and have a stellar product!  I do feel more creative when I have less time.  It’s as if the urgency of the situation brings out the creativity in me.

So, my motivation is time constraints.  And in order to be more consistent with my blog posts I’ll have to schedule a day when I must send out a post.  It’ll work, right?  Well, if I want to be more successful in blogging, it has to work.  I’ll have no one by myself to blame.

I’ll also say THANK YOU to all of those who have read, liked, commented on a post or followed my blog.  Each and every time I one of those things happen I am grateful that you took the time to read what I had to say.  I believe one of the first comments I ever got (from someone I didn’t personally know) was from Sidekick Reviews.  I remember being almost giddy that some stranger read my post and thought enough about it to comment on it.  I still feel that way at every new like, comment, or follow.  Hopefully I’ll have more consistent content to read – as long as I keep myself to those time constraints!