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Cheers: Arrow ~ Destiny Leaves Its Mark

March 26th, 2013 Angela Posted in Discussion, Television 1 Comment »

In keeping with our new feature that we ran for the holidays (Cheers and Jeers) comes the first installment of resounding cheers for the new breakout hit TV series – Arrow, which currently runs every Wednesday at 8:00 on The CW Network.  The emerald archer reigns supreme with a respectable 4 million + viewers for its debut.  If you guys aren’t watching this show, then you should.  What are you waiting for?  You should immediately give it a go and just trust that you won’t be disappointed.  Before word about a re-imagined (revisited, revamped, reworked, or re-whatever) Arrow got out, plenty of comic book and superhero fans were restless and still processing the ending of the epic 10 year run of another beloved series – Smallville.  What next?  Smallville hit so many milestones (both in the mythos and high production values) so just the thought of anything else coming after that or trying to fill its shoes was laughable.  These things almost always get bungled in Hollywood or for the dreaded TV treatment.

Heated debates ensued online about the next viable franchise option for DC Comics/Warner Bros. and The CW to team up on.  What property/character would DC Comics allow The CW to cultivate for TV?  Everyone knew Bats was off the table, for many reasons.  Aguaman – well need I say more? Been there, done that – epic fail!.  Some were hoping for Bane, looking for something darker.  Getting the perspective from the iconic supervillain would make for interesting writing and storytelling.  But any realist knew it was a pipe dream.  Hawkman – a potentially viable option.  Green Lantern – could be brilliant, but would require a huge budget to do it right.  Plus, there’s a potential conflict with the rumored new reboot of the movie franchise after Ryan Reynolds’ showing didn’t deliver as expected.  The Flash – many speculated that The CW could do justice to a series built around the speedster.  Personally, I was hoping for Wonder Woman.  Since The Powers That Be can’t seem to get or allow Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan to pen a silver screen version for the masses, then I would completely settle for a long running revamped TV series.  I’m thankful that David E. Kelley’s dreadful version was DOA and never released to the public.  Just the stills and dailies that were released were enough to convince me that NBC made the right decision to not move forward with the show.  Now that Whedon has a very lucrative deal with Marvel to pen the another Avenger movie (the first movie was beyond amazing) and a few other things, DC is totally screwed. Ultimately, my Wonder Woman wish just might come true.  In recent months there’s been a lot of talk that CW has a Wonder Woman project in the works (casting underway and shooting pilot so not super secret) with a working title: Amazon.  Apparently, it’s supposed to be an origins story a la Smallville – featuring a young Diana and in the end it’s likely not to feature the hard hitting, crown and bracelets and lasso wearing Amazon Princess that we all know and love.  Critics complain about passing the laugh test and all with featuring the costume in a “tights and flights” sort of way or in this case a skimpy top and bottom set, which I just don’t get because it’s 2013 and a sexy and classically updated costume can be done.  Wonder Woman has several different variations of the costume already.  The patriotic costume is iconic, just like Wonder Woman.  I just don’t think you can do away with it.  Anyway, back to Arrow.

I love to talk to any and everyone about this show. After the first 9 episodes I was officially hooked. When the show came back from winter hiatus, it continued to deliver depth and characterization that is rarely seen in a freshman show. Here’s my quick and dirty on the show:

Themes/Casting: When word got out that Arrow was given the green light, I was thrilled.  About ten months ago, the first footage and teasers were starting to roll out and hit the web.  I was immediately captured by the dark and provocative interpretation the network was taking.  Arrow was getting a Batman Begins reboot, moving into Dark Knight territory.  Serious in tone, some light elements (who isn’t slightly amused by the antics of billionaire playboys, even reformed ones), harsh realities abound, strife and searching for humanity in a conflicted character.  Overall, the story would be dark, violent and EPIC.  I was glad that the network decided to recast Oliver Queen, which was previously played by Justin Hartley on Smallville.  Justin delivered a fine performance on Smallville, but I don’t think he has the gravitas or look (he’s just too damn pretty) to deliver a much darker Oliver Queen that is being portrayed by Stephen Amell.  I also think it’s important for Arrow to set itself apart from Smallville, and it’s clear that the show creators have been successful in delivering a much different Green Arrow.  Now that Stephen Amell is in the role, I can’t imagine anyone else as the emerald archer.  I wasn’t familiar with Amell’s previous work, but I definitely like what I see on Arrow.  Amell successfully presents a sort of broken and damaged Oliver Queen. I’m amazed that Amell can convey so much with his body language and movements, the tone of his voice and his facial expressions.  It’s not an easy role to play because after all he has no super powers.  So there is a fair amount of brilliant acting on Amell’s part because he really has to sell that he’s a threat and an imposing vigilante.  The premise and setup of the show is brilliant in many respects.  I love the fact that this version of Oliver does have to grapple with his humanity.  He delivers his brand of justice and kills when necessary, not just for the sake of killing.  Yes, he’s a vigilante and you could question his morality.  But somehow you find yourself cheering him on during his dangerous missions to get the bad guys — even when he’s doing bad things himself.

Writing:  With 17 episodes out of the gate, I remain blown away by what the writing team has been able to accomplish.  Viewers are given multi-layered characters, a solid plot has already been established, and the overall story arc has enough legs to last at least 5 seasons.

Universe: Green Arrow will be challenged by some stellar foes with the ever expanding Rouges Gallery.  These villains bring excitement and their brand of mayhem to a whole new level.  It’s already so easy to get pulled into the world of Starling City.  Arrow is a fun show to watch and even when you are visiting the grim parts of the city like The Glades, you can’t help but love it.  The tone and structure of Starling City is very similar to Gotham and Metropolis.

Cast:

Initially, I had a concern that the cast of characters was going to be too large.  I didn’t want it to detract from the way from the story was being told.  Luckily, the writing staff has been able to balance the role that each character must play to move the plot forward.  Moira Queen really gets under your skin as the shady and powerful mom/business tycoon with what appears to be some sort of New World Order agenda.  It’s all so cloak and dagger.  Ollie’s step-father is Walter Steele and he brings just the right amount of affable nature to the family dynamics.  He certainly manages the right amount of “a day late-and a dollar short”.  Naturally, things don’t work out so well for him – or at least that remains to be seen.  Thea is the bratty and annoying little sister that loses herself in partying, sex, drugs and booze.  You know, the standard trope for spoiled kids from a wealthy family.  She really does deliver this sort of general malaise about life in general.  Seriously, this chick has some issues.  John Diggle, Oliver’s former bodyguard turned sidekick, brings some reason to the table when Oliver can’t see past his drive to exact justice.  It’s also nice that Diggle isn’t a physical liability.  He can definitely get scrappy in a street fight.  Tommy Merlyn is Ollie’s bestfriend and he plays the just this side of pathetic, loves to party, has parental issues, and needs to grow up kind of guy.  I can easily see Tommy as a throw away character.  Any other route that the writer’s might take would be highly predictable, but to leave him on his current path would be a shame.  I really do hope that they have something unique in store for him.  And last but certainly not least is Oliver’s love interest: Laurel Lance, which is played by Katie Cassidy.  After the epic story/chemistry failure between the leads in (click the link to read my post) Beauty and the Beast, among other things, I had a real concern about the chemisty between the leads in Arrow.  I’m pleased to say that Amell and Cassidy definitely deliver in the chemistry department.  The viewer is thrown into their now awkward and cantankerous relationship in medias res.  Oliver and Laurel have a tumultuous history, yet despite all of the drama that is implied and some revealed, you really do get the sense that these two are intense together.  The viewer doesn’t get to witness their initial courtship, first kiss, first love scene, first anything because it’s all already happenend.  Oliver and Laurel were already a couple when Oliver cheated on Laurel with her sister, and then he goes missing (presumed dead) for five years.  They really do have a lot of unfinished business to deal with, and now that Oliver is a completely different person, the road back to each others arms won’t be all rainbows and sunshine.  It’s fun to watch them dance around their issues and attraction for one another.  After sharing one mind altering kiss, they headed for the hills (and other people), but I have a feeling that they will only be able to run for so long.

Arrow is one of my top 5 shows right now.  I like all of the important stuff that the network delivers for my viewing pleasure, like the writing, acting, plot, violence, production values, etc., but I’m not ashamed to mention the beyond swoonworthy factor of Stephen Amell (move over Tom Welling — sorry love).  **START RANT TO OBJECTIFY HERE** Amell is ridiculously hot, just so easy on the eyes and his body is…well let’s just go with sinful.  It’s like being a kid in a candy store as I watch Amell episode after episode shirtless or working out.  I can hardly contain my excitement.  Am I too pathetic? Have you seen his million pack abs?  Have you seen Amell on the dreaded salmon ladder? I mean it really is a crime that this show isn’t on a cable network.  Then we could have a rating of TV-MADLSV.  **END RANT HERE** So ladies get with it or you’ll miss out!.  Seriously, peeps — just having a bit of fun.

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Jeers: Beauty and The Beast – A Failed Experiment

December 19th, 2012 Angela Posted in Discussion, Television 6 Comments »

With some of my favorite or not so favorite shows going on winter hiatus, I’m in a bit of the doldrums.  Not all outcomes are equal.  Instead of kvetching to my friends and fellow bloggers via Google Chat, I decided to write a blog post about it.  My first lament is none other than the new TV series from CW: Beauty and The Beast.  This show was definitely on my highly anticipated/must watch shows list.  I completely fangirled (is that even a word?) out when the casting was underway. I absolutely adored Kristin Kreuk (in fan-fiction circles affectionately known as “Clana” aka Clark and Lana) from her Smallville days. When Jay Ryan was cast as The Beast, I didn’t have an opinion either way. He was an unknown actor to me, but I always had faith in CW’s casting teams.  The only thing that I hoped for was a grand story and an epic romance.  Basically everything that Beauty and The Beast is supposed to encompass.  I wanted this show to hit on every emotion and to hold me captivated, but alas it’s an epic disaster.  Seriously, it pains me to even write this post.  After watching the first nine episodes, I don’t think I can continue to follow this show.  Not even under duress.  I have to clean up my Season Pass feature on my TiVo and this show is at the top of the list to get the boot.  There is really nothing charming about the show, not to mention it’s being killed episode after episode by displaying the tragic non-chemistry between the two main characters – Beauty and the Beast.  Beauty and The Beast is light on substance and has quickly turned into the “case of the week” show.  Much like Smallville was “freak of the week” in the early days of the show for Chloe’s Wall of Weird.  Then thankfully the character development and depth took hold.

Chemistry: Let’s be honest – this is an absolute must when a show is relying on the connection that the two characters are supposed to have.  What’s more stunning is that CW has finally failed to get it right.  My professional/business friends and I always joke that the brains behind CW’s branding and marketing of its shows is the beautifully talented people that they launch, and also the type of vehicles (as in projects) they choose to back.  CW captures a large percentage of the demographics and they always seem to be on the right curve ahead of the other networks.  As of late though, one has to wonder.  Just think back to the “other” dreadful show that they launched last year – The Secret Circle.  Just a nightmare from the very beginning, hence its cancellation.  The Secret Circle was really unwatchable, quite ghastly.  But I digress – back to the chemistry bit.  Anybody that is a fan of the CW network knows that it built its image/empire on the back of Smallville, which paved the way for Supernatural, Vampire Diaries (some Twilight help – mostly True Blood), etc.  I won’t jump as far back as the networks WB days with Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel, but it’s true.  Smallville performed phenomenally for the network and it was a ground breaking show for network TV.  For a long time there was nothing else like it on TV.  Still one of my all-time favorite shows.  So when you know the type of chemistry that Kristin Kreuk shared with Tom Welling and how they delivered episode after episode for 6+ years, you simply can’t settle for what doesn’t even pass the skip-a-heartbeat test on Beauty and The Beast.  I mean Clark and Lana left you breathless and heartbroken and crying in the same scene.  Clark and Lana left your heart racing and pulse pounding.  As a viewer, I desperately wanted them to be together and happy, even knowing he would ultimately end up with Lois (damn that Superman mythos to hell).  I was invested in these characters and their trials and tribulations.  Their love, secrets and all-around dangerous situation really came through.  I wish I felt something even remotely close to that for Catherine (Beauty) and Vincent (The Beast).  I can’t even get my heart to flutter for these two.  For those fans of BtVS and Angel, you know it wasn’t a hard sell to believe in their love and star-crossed/damned/forbidden lovers situation. David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar ignited into flames when they were in scenes together.  It didn’t matter if they were fighting (each other or big-bads), making-out, patrolling or having a heart-to-heart or yet another breakup.  You felt their connection.  Angel and Buffy were epic, much like Clark and Lana, Elena/Damon/Stefan.  Viewers should never be able to doubt the so called “love interest” aspect.  Part of this problem for Beauty and The Beast goes to the bad writing on the show. Also, the show runner has to know that when viewers can’t connect with the main characters and establish feelings for them – IT’S OVER!!!

Writing: The writing on Smallville/Arrow/Vampire Diaries/Supernatural is superb and complex and on Beauty and The Beast it’s subpar and silly.  Mostly it’s the premise of the show that presents so many challenges for the writers.  At least in my opinion.  This post is getting dangerously long, but suffice it to say that the show does not have enough depth (in character or story) or goal/conflict/motivation for the characters to keep it going for a long run.  I can’t imagine getting more than one season out of it because it’s only mildly interesting.  With the “organization” identified and some of the players known, it’s become quite trite.

Acting: I like many viewers still have a hard time believing Kristin Kreuk in this role as a 5″ something (short) kick-ass “young” detective that weighs like 100 pounds (diminutive stature) soaking wet is really going to be able to take on 2 or 3 guys at a time all the while doing combat training moves.  NYPD wish they were trained killers like Nikita.  She hasn’t been able to sell me in this “ruff n tumble” role.  Also, the supporting cast just isn’t that interesting.

The Beast:  What can I say?  Too much I’m afraid.  He’s not very beastly. He’s more like the Hulk, only not as cool.  His “abilities” are pretty lame as far as genetic engineering goes and really not on full display thus far.  The directors/producers use a lot of quick cuts and off screen “action”.  I get that this is probably due to budget restrictions, but come on.  If you can’t do it up right, then don’t do it at all.  I’d be more afraid of a baby vamp or a werewolf in training than The Beast.  I’m just not convinced that he’s as menacing as we are told.  Basically, the writers need to SHOW – not tell me.  The transformation to The Beast is really pathetic visually.  I’m truly underwhelmed by The Beast.

In conclusion, I’m so done with this show.  I gave it the old college try, but it’s seriously lacking on so many fronts.  I’d rather spend my TV time watching old campy episodes of Miami Vice or my favorite episodes from Angel or The Wire.

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The Walking Dead BlogNation: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

November 10th, 2012 Angela Posted in Television, Video Games 1 Comment »

In this next installment of all things Walking Dead, we are talking video games.  With the success of the graphic novel and the TV series from AMC, it’s not surprising that a video game franchise would follow.  I enjoy first-person shooter video games and the thought of playing in the prequel to the current world in the TV series is pretty interesting.  Still waiting on more details to emerge about the game, but we do have a summary and the trailer.  Sounds like this game is going to be made of AWESOME!

Product Synopsis:

This first-person action game allows players to assume the role of the crossbow-wielding survivor Daryl Dixon, alongside his brother Merle, on a haunting, unforgiving quest to make their way to the supposed safety of Atlanta.

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct takes the undead and brings them out of the TV show and into console gaming systems in a terrifying way. The iconic walkers will relentlessly hunt down players like their television counterparts, using a combination of sight, sound and smell. As Daryl, players will need to tread carefully throughout each new area they explore. Once discovered, it doesn’t take much to attract an unstoppable horde of undead walkers, so every threat needs to be assessed, and every situation analyzed. Players will have to choose between whether to stay and fight while risking a gruesome death or using stealth to avoid the undead. No place is truly safe for Daryl as he makes his way through the Georgia countryside in this new, post-apocalyptic world.

Release Date: TBA 2013
Genre: First-Person Shooter
PublisherActivision
DeveloperTerminal Reality

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The Walking Dead BlogNation: Can You Survive?

November 3rd, 2012 Angela Posted in Television Comments Off

If you aren’t familiar with the AMC series, The Walking Dead, then you must be living on another planet.  It’s by far the best show right now, followed closely by Sons of Anarchy and the long running and morally challenged Dexter.  My love for The Walking Dead started back in mid 2010, just before the first season of the show premiered.  I would always see my boyfriend reading the graphic novels, freaking out and cursing when something presumably crazy happened.  I finally asked him “What’s so good about this series?”  He bought me the first 11 volumes (he didn’t want me touching his precious copies) and told me to find out that answer myself.  I read all of the volumes (each about 140 pages) in two days.  I was like a fiend.  I couldn’t believe that such a simple premise that has been done a millions times before managed to be so unique and captivating.  You can read my review of the first volume here.

We attended San Diego Comic Con that year as well and I was overwhelmed by the hype for the upcoming AMC show. I didn’t want it to ruin my love for the graphic novel or distort the characters that I’d become so invested in. Beyond the world-building in this series, the characterization reigns supreme. Kirkman and Co. delivers a bit of brilliance in making you like such vile characters. The desperation of their situation really shines through. Give the show a try if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry.

A friend of mine reached out to me and asked if we wanted to be part of an event for The Walking Dead. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk more about this series. THE WALKING DEAD BLOGNATION brings you a group of bloggers who will infect you with all things related to The Walking Dead. We will review the show, books, and graphic novels and host giveaways.  Our event kicks-off today and will continue every Saturday until the end of this season.

Macmillan Audio and Run For Your Lives are official sponsors of the event.


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The Walking Dead AMC Series

September 4th, 2010 Angela Posted in Television 3 Comments »

The first season of The Walking Dead will debut during AMC’s Fearfest in October.  The Walking Dead will actually air on Halloween.  Unfortunately, there will only be six episodes.  This trailer is REALLY awesome.  I went to San Diego Comic-Con this year, so I was able to get a sneak peak.


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