Pilots and Premieres: “Witches of East End” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Witches of East End,” currently airs on cable TV, specifically on Lifetime, Sundays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Witches of East End,” a supernatural drama about a family of immortal witches.  Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall; Sabrina) plays the matriarch, who is cursed to bear two daughters and watch them die over several lifetimes while her younger sister is cursed to die and be reborn as a cat with nine lives to live.  In this current life cycle, the two daughters, Ingrid and Freya, are not aware (as of yet) that they are witches.

When: The series premiered on Lifetime, Sunday, October 6, 2013, at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is set on Long Island, New York.

Why: My love of supernatural and fantasy stories made me curious, and I did love Charmed.  Normally, the fact that the show airs on Lifetime would be a deterrent, but my curiosity got the better of me.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Witches of East End = ****

SYNOPSIS

Ingrid is a feminist, a librarian, and characterizes herself as a rationalist.  Freya is a romantic and is engaged to the wealthy son of a local family after a whirlwind romance.  Both girls are oblivious to the fact that they are immortal witches, daughters of mother Joanna (Ormond), who was cursed at the Salem Witch Trials to watch them die and to give birth to them all over again over countless centuries. Their mother decided to offer them a chance at normal lives, unaware of magic; however, past lives and odd occurrences are catching up with them, and now Ingrid and Freya are in danger – both of being exposed for who they are and for their lives in this current cycle.

THOUGHTS

Witches of East End is surprisingly more engaging and involving than this viewer expected it to be; it plays out like a soap opera or a romance novel come to life.  The story concept is certainly intriguing, based on a novel of the same name as it is.  Witches live forever, while two of them don’t know their witches, and the two who do (the mother and her sister) are surprisingly quick witted and easy by which to relate.  Also, setting the action in the wealthier climes of Long Island leads this program to feel like a healthy cross between Charmed and Revenge, with hints of the film Practical Magic.

Still, the writing and performances are a bit of a mixed bag.  The dialogue is sometimes laughably melodramatic, and the two younger actresses really chew on it at times, lending a certain juvenile aspect to the proceedings.  Also, as interesting as it is to see Julia Ormond after so many years, her caliber of talent appears out of place for a program with such elements.  On the one hand, her presence augments the program with some credibility; on the other hand, she seems uncomfortable playing a witch with two flighty daughters and the curse of immortality.

Yet, this program has a juicy quality, like any good romance novel, that will draw the viewer in and get her/him addicted to the show.  This viewer feels that she might be succumbing to such a quality.  It could be because the show is populated by strong female characters who do magic, but there is also a sense of the forbidden looming over these characters: Freya is engaged to one brother but is madly drawn to another brother, while Ingrid is flirting with spells to get her co-worker pregnant that actually work, not to mention Ben from Grey’s Anatomy, despite her stiff, feminist upper lip.  Then, there is the aunt/sister, who revels in her witchiness, though she is doomed to living the nine lives of a cat.

Also, Virginia Madsen plays the matriarch of the wealthy family, and there is something about her character that remains hidden.  The pilot sets up the potential mysteries of the season very well.  This viewer wants to see how they play out, despite some of the ham-fisted quality of the writing and acting.

RECOMMENDATION

Witches of East End, as surprisingly watchable as it is, is recommended to anyone who enjoys fare like Charmed and Practical Magic.  It’s the same kind of story, with the same elements of romance, fate, and magic interwoven into its foundation.  I think it can be classified as a pure guilty pleasure, but I’m going to partake in it because I enjoyed those other vehicles.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

Due to the fact that Lifetime is its parent network, a full season of thirteen episodes of this program was ordered; otherwise, it may be too early to tell what kind of longevity it can expect.  Cable is more unpredictable, due to its niche markets and target audiences.  Let’s see how it all fares.

Pilots and Premieres: “Sean Saves the World” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sean Saves the World,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Sean Saves the World,” a situation comedy featuring Sean Hayes (formerly of Will & Grace fame), who plays a gay father with a teenage daughter, whose mother moved away and left her behind.  Sean must navigate being a full-time parent while simultaneously meeting the demands of his eccentric and task-oriented boss at work.

When: The series premiered on NBC, Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The setting of the show has not been spelled out as of this pilot.  It appears to be New York City…but I have no confirmation of that.

Why: Sean Hayes, of course, played Jack McFarland on the iconic sitcom Will & Grace and, sadly, hasn’t done much since.  He is an executive producer for Grimm,  the cult supernatural series currently airing on NBC, and that’s all I know.  I was interested in seeing what Sean could bring to the table after all these years, particularly since I did love Jack so much.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Sean Saves the World = **

SYNOPSIS

Sean is divorced, having discovered that he is gay shortly after marrying his ex-wife.  Their union, however, produced daughter Ellie, who has moved in with Sean following her mother’s decision to move, and Ellie’s decision to stay in familiar surrounds.  Sean and Ellie must navigate their new full time parent/child relationship, while Sean deals with the pitfalls of his job at an online retail company, featuring co-workers including steadfast Liz (Megan Hilty of Smash).  In the meantime, Sean’s mother and he also have a complicatedly dysfunctional relationship (she’s played by Linda Lavin…it’s Alice!).

THOUGHTS

Sean Saves the World offers up a few genuine laughs, owing to Sean Hayes’ gift for physical comedy and the sassy, sarcastic delivery of Ellie, but, on the whole, it falls flat in many ways.  First, this sitcom employs either a live studio audience or a laugh track – it’s unclear which one it is, but whichever one it is, the spaces of silence that usually precede laughter and reaction have been edited out, and it sounds unnatural and forced, as the laughter occurs on every last syllable of a punchline or potentially funny moment. Second, though the concept has promise, the execution and writing (despite the fact that James L. Burrows is an executive producer) falter.  There is a sense that the show runners are aiming for something antic and screwball while simultaneously slowing down for tender moments between Sean and Ellie.  Unfortunately, this muddied approach leaves the execution a bit messy, resulting in fewer laughs.

Sean, also, seems on the verge of replicating Jack McFarland at times, though it is clear he has chosen or been directed to exercise restraint (after all…where’s Karen to egg him on?).  It could be that Sean can’t be funny without being excessively hyper and dramatic, and though he has his moments on his new show, these moments create nostalgia for the older character.  His conversations with Ellie happen to be the funniest and most genuine parts of the program.  On the other hand, all of the scenes in Sean’s office are awkward and seemingly out of place.

This is not to say that the show is all bad.  What a nice surprise to see Linda Lavin back on television. Though her mothering character lacks warmth and, at times, feels abusive, she’s always a delight to see on the small screen.  The man who plays Sean’s boss is also creepy and yet, at times, awkward enough to earn some laughs.  Megan Hilty gives the old college try to the stilted dialogue she’s been given to say, but even her best efforts kind of wilt to the ground.  The heart of the show is, truly, Sean and Ellie’s relationship, though without the other antagonistic and situation-related forces working in a well-executed manner, there is nothing to spark the evolution and blossoming of that relationship.

In the end, this sitcom is given two stars (or maybe 2.5 would be fairer, but I don’t know if I want to watch more than three episodes) because of Sean’s brand of comedy and his relationship with Ellie. Sadly, the show may be canceled in the near future.

RECOMMENDATION

Sean Saves the World can be recommended to any fan of Sean Hayes, as he is still fun to watch. Unfortunately, the rest of the show doesn’t quite fall in line with him, despite all of the efforts by some good ensemble cast members.  This recommendation, then, is conditional, as I don’t think a wider audience would enjoy the show.  For that reason, the show’s survival is at risk.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

According to TV GuideSean Saves the World is on the “bubble,” i.e. has low enough ratings that cancellation could be imminent.  My prediction is that the bubble will pop for this program.  I doubt that a full season will be ordered; season renewal is, therefore, the longest of shots.   If you watch it, be prepared.

Pilots and Premieres: “The Originals” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Originals,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Originals,” a spin off of supernatural drama “The Vampire Diaries,” centered on the Original (i.e. very first) vampires, the Mikaelsons who first appeared on the latter show.  The surviving siblings are hybrid werewolf/vampire Niklaus (Joseph Morgan), his older brother Elijah (the super hot Daniel Gillies), and baby sister Rebekah (Claire Holt).

When: The series premiered on the CW, Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the Big Easy — New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why: Well, The Vampire Diaries is a darn good show, and with some of the same creative influence, including Executive Producer Julie Plec, as well as the charismatic Morgan and Gillies, there’s no reason The Originals can’t be just as juicy and delicious as the show from whence it spun.  Also, have I mentioned…vampires?  The non-sparkly kind?  Played by ridiculously handsome men?  With accents?

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

The Originals = ****

SYNOPSIS

In a backdoor pilot during season 4 of The Vampire Diaries, the viewer learned that the Mikaelsons essentially helped to create New Orleans, and Klaus, running from various personal dilemmas including his own ego and Mystic Falls in general, returned to New Orleans where he encountered one of his progeny: Marcelle, who has taken control of the French Quarter and has declared war on other supernatural beings, including a local coven of witches.  Klaus covets Marcelle’s power and hold over the city; in the premiere, Elijah returns to New Orleans in pursuit of his brother, learning that a one-night stand he had with werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) has resulted in her being pregnant.  This program follows Klaus and the other Original siblings as they work to protect their family and this unborn and unlikely child from the likes of egomaniac Marcelle, Klaus’ prized pupil.

THOUGHTS

Though the structure and premise of this spin off are not as strong or as immediately enticing as its parent series, The Originals offers tantalizing story possibilities in a context that is clearly more mature and adult than the other program.  At first, fans of The Vampire Diaries might find it a stretch to center a whole show around the antics of Klaus and his siblings, and this viewer did too.  The trouble – and this program’s instant saving grace – is that Joseph Morgan and, indeed, Daniel Gillies are so instantly charismatic and electrifying on screen, the viewer can’t help but watch them.

After all, the tale of the Original vampires, as depicted on the parent show, is epic, storied, and complex.  Klaus is the illegitimate son of their mother, who had an affair with a werewolf and created a hybrid being that essentially can’t be killed.  The Mikaelsons have lived for 1000 years and remain dysfunctional in the extreme; they fiercely love each other and yet solve problems by staking each other in the heart with wood from a specific white oak tree, the only wood that can immobilize them.   Klaus is a character very much fueled by narcissism and unadulterated rage, and yet, his brother fights for him and believes he can be saved.  There is no doubt that Klaus is a lethal loose cannon at best, and as his actions are so unpredictable, he is imminently watchable.  Yet, can the villain be made an anti-hero? That’s where The Originals seems to be spiraling on its path toward spin off survival.

More to the point, can Klaus’ progeny Marcelle serve the role of effective villain?  The actor playing him appears to bring his own set of chops to the proceedings, but what is the point of this feud between them?  This show really blurs the line between “good guy” and “bad guy,” though Elijah is about the best they come.

Still, The Originals is blessed with continuity in writing and producing staff.  Though it may have an uphill climb in reeling in viewers not already familiar with The Vampire Diaries, it certainly has plenty of opportunity to stand on its own, provided the moral ambiguity of all of the main characters is used in a manner that doesn’t feel contrived or manipulated.  After all, Klaus doesn’t like to be manipulated – and neither do most viewers.

RECOMMENDATION

The Originals is recommended to all fans of The Vampire Diaries, particularly those who absolutely loved the Original vampire story lines on that show.  Personally, I worry for the state of the predecessor program, given that no other antagonistic force has proven more formidable or interesting on The Vampire Diaries than Klaus.  Still, it’s the actor’s natural presence and a bevy of savvy writers who will allow for as much twisting, turning, and supernatural surprise on this program as on the other show. Also, if one hasn’t seen the parent program, that person would not have to watch it to be able to enjoy this program – particularly since the pilot rehashed in an expository manner the story of the Original vampires and how they came into being.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

Too early to tell.  The Originals has been fluctuating in the ratings – but it’s on the CW.  Since this network doesn’t enjoy the same size audiences as some of the other networks, if viewer loyalty remains steady, it’s possible this series will survive.  Let’s see how it all fares.

Around the Water Cooler: “The Vampire Diaries,” The Season 5 Premiere (SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Vampire Diaries” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who becomes entangled with two brothers who are vampires–one a soulful, conflicted type who wants to repress his vampire urges to be more human; the other a sarcastic, ne’er-do-well who embraces the nature of his nocturnal condition, except for when his love for Elena interferes.  In addition, these two vampire brothers were sired by Elena’s doppelganger, a vampire for the centuries named Katherine Pierce (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/vampire_diaries_the/summary.html).

When: The Season 5 premiere aired on Thursday, October 3, 2013, on the CW at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Why: Two reasons: vampires and Ian Somerhalder, formerly of Lost and Smallville fame.  I love non-sparkly vampire television, and Ian Somerhalder is too beautiful a man not to find an excuse to watch.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

The Vampire Diaries is now entering its fifth season, which is a little hard to believe (it goes so fast!), and the landscape of the show, thanks to the adaptable and creative writing/producing team spearheaded by Executive Producer Julie Plec, has changed dramatically from its inception.  Elena, of course, is now a vampire, having been sired by Damon Salvatore (Somerhalder), but now, she is entering her freshman year at college with roommate and fellow vampire Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), best friends and bloodsuckers as they are.  Elena is enjoying a very healthy relationship with Damon, who has vowed to watch after Elena’s brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), a newly minted vampire hunter as of season 4, who has been moved around so much for his protection, he is actually behind in school.

In the meantime, witch Bonnie (Kat Graham), who died in the season 4 finale thanks to her spell against Silas, a sort of beta vampire or a being predating vampires with some of the same traits, is hovering around Jeremy as a ghost, as he continues to hold the power to see the departed, ordering him to text her father and friends with updates from her imaginary whirlwind vacation with her mother, who is currently a vampire (or did she die?).   Matt gallivants, having threesomes and champagne, with Original Vampire Rebekah for the summer until she abandons him to go be on The Originals, the show’s new spinoff.  Tyler has apparently left to oversee some freshly made werewolves and has no time for college, much to Caroline’s disappointment.

And yet, no one seems bothered by a lack of communication with Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), who, in the season 4 finale, was dropped to the bottom of the ocean Angel-style by Silas, who we find out in this premiere is a doppelganger for Stefan, meaning his true form is also forever played by Wesley.  Not only does Silas reemerge and play his cat-and-mouse games with Caroline’s mother and Damon, we learn he has the ability to control minds en masse; by the end of the episode, he’s got the whole town, at one of their famous town parties, under his spell as he slits the throat of Bonnie’s dad with her ghostly visage there to watch.  In addition, Elena and Caroline’s random triple roommate brings water laced with vervain to the room’s mini-fridge and seems hip to the existence of vampires, until she is eaten by one and tossed out of a frat house window.

Let’s not forget Katherine, who took Silas’ cure in the season 4 finale.  She’s human, no longer a vampire, and she’s a basket case as well as the target of Silas’ particular fixation.  The trick of this season will be centered on navigating the new landscape.  With the dynamic Joseph Morgan as Klaus now spearheading his own vampire spinoff (again Angel is called to mind, though he would be closer to Spike), it will be curious to see how convincingly Paul Wesley plays his double role.  Also, will Elena and Caroline’s freshman year turn out to be as interesting as their high school years (how did they graduate when they never went to class??).  How long is Bonnie going to hang on, and what’s the purpose of keeping her around as a ghost?  Jeremy has already been expelled after beating two bullies to a pulp with his hunter abilities.  And what if Stefan is saved only to walk in on the rosy haze of Damon and Elena’s romance, tested by distance and college though it is.  Most importantly, will angsty college bound supernatural beings be as fun to watch as angsty high school supernatural beings?  Somehow, The Vampire Diaries always finds a way.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) What does Silas want with Katherine?  And why hasn’t she learned hygiene in 500 years?

2) I already miss the Originals, particularly Klaus and Elijah.  I guess I’ll have to check out that show…

3) Is Silas, like, indestructible?  What’s his endgame?

4) I hope Damon doesn’t get boring now that he’s so happy.

5) I hope Jeremy gets to show off that hunting stuff more.

6) I’m already over Elena and Caroline, the roomie years.  It feels a little shallow to me.

7) Seriously…why is Bonnie still around and Tyler isn’t?

8) I hope this show stays as consistently twisty as it has been.

PARTING SHOTS

The Vampire Diaries might have its best years behind it, but the program still has story left to tell. These writer/producers are in tune enough with their characters, product, and platform to keep it as full of guesses and “oh shit” moments as previous seasons – so long as Silas doesn’t become boring because he is Stefan’s lookalike or become too insurmountable a villain, such that the heroes spend the season banging their heads (and fangs) against the wall.  The show is at its best when everyone unites as a team, whether the characters are getting along or not, to overcome a formidable foe or to uncover an unlikely mystery.  Hopefully, there is still mystery left in this show to keep the big surprises coming.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Vampire Diaries  was automatically ordered for a full season, as it is the network’s highest rated show and will very probably get renewed because the CW doesn’t get many hits, and when a hit appears, renews it for season upon season.  Still…stranger things have happened.

Around the Water Cooler: “Sleepy Hollow” Gets Full Season and Second Season Order

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sleepy Hollow” currently airs on network TV, specifically on FOX, Mondays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Sleepy Hollow,” part supernatural thriller, part historical fiction, part revisionist fiction, part cop drama.  It’s got a little something for everyone.

When: The series premiered on FOX, Monday, September 16, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in what is now known to be Sleepy Hollow, New York (formerly North Tarrytown).

Why: Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, in their colonial times regalia and context, thrust into the present?  That premise alone doesn’t fascinate you?

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

According to this article from TVLineSleepy Hollow has been not only ordered for a full season but has been automatically renewed for a second season, and this was after only three episodes.  It’s a well reasoned gamble; the show is enjoying some steady and decent ratings because it’s a quality show.  Fox is no doubt banking on Sleepy Hollow to become its next X-Files, or at least its next Fringe, and this is for good reason: the story just keeps getting better.  The scope of the program is truly Biblical, combining Revelations-based apocalypse lore with a supernatural crime procedural and a highly witty, deliciously handsome, and deliciously British Ichabod Crane.  Each new episode raises questions and twists that no viewer could really expect to see coming, and the writers are weaving a fascinating tale filled with supernatural thrill and horror.

Nicole Beharie still leaves something to be desired in the role of Abbie Mills, but as her character learns to relax around Ichabod, she might become more tolerable.  The “Sandman” episode, which felt like an episode from Supernatural on the CW to some extent, was centered well around her confession that she selfishly lied about the demon she saw for self-protection while her sister Jenny spoke the truth and suffered committal to an insane asylum.  Plus, the Mills sisters have been identified as “witnesses” to the oncoming arrival of the Four Horsemen along with Ichabod.  The whole story is truly intriguing, and each new hour has some chills and twists to enjoy.

I initially rated the pilot four stars, but with each new episode, my initial reservations dissipate.  The pilot may not have been convincing, but the story itself is so tantalizing that the show’s longevity will owe much to the creativity of the concept married to deservedly high ratings that the program currently enjoys.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) I have so many questions right now, that i can’t even begin to list them.  To the credit of this show, I want to keep watching to have them answered.  My biggest question right now is what the demon in the woods is…is it another horseman?  Does it control the horsemen, including the now headless one?

2) What is so special about Abbie and Jenny?

3) I think there is more to Orlando Jones’ captain character than meets the eye.  He seems too copacetic lately with Ichabod and Abbie’s supernatural investigation and gave them the key so easily to the abandoned office under the police station.

4) Will we encounter more witches?  What happened to Mr. Headless?

These are the biggest, most general queries rolling around in my brain right now, but each new episode usually offers a new detail or concept that sparks additional mystery.

PARTING SHOTS

Sleepy Hollow deserves the gamble that Fox is taking on it.  It is a highly original concept or, at least, an original new mixture of old concepts but with a very specific, if broad, focus. It’s well written, well performed, and there is both horror and humor in each episode so far.  Plus, it’s fun to watch out-of-time Ichabod struggle with current technology, like the rewind button on a VCR remote control.  This show is highly recommended and may well become “must see” appointment television in the near future.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Sleepy Hollow is guaranteed a full two seasons.  Take advantage of the confidence that the network extends to it, if it all interests you, and take a look!

Around the Water Cooler: “The Simpsons,” Season 25 and Imminent Death

THE SPECS:

Who: “The Simpsons” currently airs on network TV, specifically on FOX, Sundays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Simpsons,” an animated situation comedy about a lovably middle class family from Springfield, Wherever.  If you seriously don’t know the plot line of The Simpsons, you have been living in a cave, space, the Earth’s core, the Phantom Zone, or any place not of this planet.  The show is freaking 25 years old, man, (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/simpsons_the/summary.html).

When: The Season 25 premiere aired on Sunday, September 29, 2013, on FOX at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in fictional Springfield, a city that can be found in a variety of actual states but which has not been located precisely since the show’s inception.

Why: Why not?  It’s been on for 25 years.  I don’t watch it regularly anymore, but thanks to syndication and merchandising galore, including some fine video games, I’ve always stayed abreast of the happenings of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and the hundreds of other Springfield residents we’ve come to know and love for a quarter of a century.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

This “Water Cooler” post is brought to you by this article from TV Guide:

http://www.tvguide.com/News/Simpsons-Character-Killed-Off-1071496.aspx

The news is that the creators are going to off a regular character by season’s end.  Maude Flanders was the last to die, and it’s been over ten years since her untimely clash with a T-shirt shooter at a baseball game.  The real question is who will meet their demise this time?  While I have not watched the premiere or the annual “Treehouse of Horror” compilation this season, I fear for our Springfieldians and their future.  Who after 25 ageless years is going to bite the bullet this time?

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) I hope it’s not Comic Book Guy, Mr. Burns, Smithers, our core family, any more Flanders, or some of the funnier supporting characters.  I would not be sad if either of Marge’s sisters, Patty or Selma, passed away.  Also, Grandpa Abe Simpson is looking a little long in the tooth.

2) But really, who could it be?

3) Who still watches the show, and how was the Treehouse this year?

PARTING SHOTS

The Simpsons is all about longevity.  It’s not as consistently funny anymore, but to the creators’ and executive producers’ credits, it manages to stay at least somewhat funny and satirically poignant as the years wear on.  This viewer’s morbid fascination stems from how long can it all possibly last?

LOOKING AHEAD:

 

The Simpsons will probably be on until somebody of a real-life nature dies, like one of the core character voices, such as the voices of the five family members or Hank Azaria and/or Harry Shearer.  Talk about job security.

Around the Water Cooler: “Revenge,” The Season 3 Premiere (+2, SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Revenge” currently airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, Sundays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Revenge,” a serial drama in which a young woman, born Amanda Clarke (Emily Van Camp), engages in a high stakes vendetta against the morally corrupt and financially endowed family who framed her father for an act of terrorism, leading to his imprisonment and ultimately to his death (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/revenge/summary.html).

When: The Season 3 premiere aired on Sunday, September 29, 2013, on ABC at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is primarily set in New York State, in Montauk and the Hamptons where these affluent people reside, though sometimes the action travels to the city, specifically Manhattan, when the show’s business-types need a place to work.

Why: I initially passed on this show, but the buzz surrounding it was overwhelming, particularly from trusted TV critics, including Michael Ausiello and writers at TV Guide, as well as from trusted friends. While I don’t normally go in for soapy thrillers that hearken to the days of Dynasty and DallasRevenge layers hints of those old prime-time soap operas with the high octane thrill of 24. The result is equal parts addicting and frustrating at times, particularly, as in this viewer’s humble opinion, the writing of the show continues to deteriorate.  I caught up on season 1 thanks to Netflix and began watching the show regularly at the start of season 2.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Revenge is in serious danger of becoming a mockery of itself, in that it feels very one-note.  Emily Thorne, the alias for Amanda Clarke, and her vendetta are creating more harm than good, and perhaps that’s the point that the producers/writers are trying to make.  Yet, it doesn’t produce good drama. Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) is still hell bent on preventing Emily from marrying her son Daniel, who now suspects Emily of double crossings with Aidan, who we found out in episode 3 is still working with Emily.  Nolan remains loyal, though he is now broke.  Conrad Grayson’s (Henry Czerny) successful bid to governor has been interrupted by his diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, and Emily is machinating for him to come clean about her father, David Clarke’s, role in a public fashion.  Charlotte Grayson, the biological product of Victoria and her affair with David Clarke, no longer trusts anyone in her family or Emily and prefers to watch over Jack.  Jack now knows Emily’s secret, discovers that he was in love with the girl formerly known as Emily Thorne, and finds himself too repulsed by Emily to even look at her, having given her an ultimatum in the season premiere to finish her vendetta and leave, or he will expose her.  Meanwhile, Emily appears to legitimately hang onto hope for being together with Jack while simultaneously nursing feelings for both Daniel and Aidan.

The third episode found Emily trying to convince a former co-conspirator turned Catholic priest to, in a quest for atonement, aid Conrad in his public confession.  Meanwhile, Victoria’s biological son Patrick (Justin Hartley, formerly the Green Arrow on Smallville) is hanging around and is posing as Victoria’s only ally within her family, given all of her lies, deceit, and acidity toward just about everyone she meets.  Charlotte has learned of her father’s lies (though not the key one pertaining to her biological father, David Clarke), and Nolan seems to be flirting with Patrick, even as he resides in the house Emily bought for him.

The season opener, which for this program, often portrays a scene to be viewed in the mid-season cliffhanger, showed Emily being shot point blank by an unidentified shooter. What the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 have established is that there are plenty of parties with motive, potential or actual, to shoot her.  The hallmark question of the season is whether her vendetta can survive, even if she survives this fateful event.  And if her vendetta doesn’t survive – what would be the point of a show called “Revenge?”

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) I think the creators of this show have concocted their own “Who shot JR?” or “Who shot Mr. Burns?” scenario.  The primary question is “Who will shoot Emily/Amanda?”  Of course, the bigger question is does she really deserve it?  After all, haven’t her antics placed her at the same level as the Graysons?  How would her father look upon her if he were alive?

2) I think Jack’s reaction is spot on.  I want Emily to have that love she so desperately seeks in Jack, but Jack is a good man, and it can’t really be said that Emily is a good woman. She may have her reasons, but her tactics have created destruction, though not necessarily loss of life, which is where she, Conrad, and Victoria differ.  Still, since Jack may be the character with the best of intentions and the purest of hearts, is it fair or right for her to want him or to expect him to want her back?  And should the viewer sympathize with her plight?

3) Victoria is deliciously evil – but her world view is so askew, that I still cheer for Emily’s quest against her.  Particularly since she seems to be beyond redemption.

4) Declan, Jack’s younger brother’s death in season 2, was a blow.  Jack is a broken man, and Charlotte’s relationship to him is going to present an interesting dynamic, given all they have in common.

5) Will Emily reveal her secret to her biological sister Charlotte this season?  I think she should.

6) What is Patrick’s endgame?  I don’t believe he is present purely for re-connection with his mom.  I’m not even convinced he’s the Patrick that she gave birth to and gave up for adoption.

7) Nolan continues to be the comic relief and promiscuously bisexual.  Now that he’s broke, however, what part will he have to play?  And really…doesn’t it seem like he and Patrick are flirting?!

8) I must admit, I was convinced that Aidan was out for revenge against Emily – but now that he’s on her side, what does he want?  Something to do?  Is he holding out hope that Emily will be his one trule love in the end?

9) This show is messy.  Most soap operas are, but this show and its story lines are particularly messy.

PARTING SHOTS

Revenge started off as a thrilling, addicting, impossibly voyeuristic guilty pleasure that brought the lives of the rich and wealthy into a world of intrigue, greed, and corruption. Emily was a sympathetic character with, at least, a pure motive – to avenge the death and reputation of her beloved father.  Yet, her journey has rendered her character as morally ambiguous as the rest of them.  This would, in and of itself, provide some intriguing story possibility except for that the story, right now, feels like it’s circling the drain in a rather protracted manner.  It is this viewer’s hope that the build toward the scene in which Emily has been shot is satisfying, and that the season’s second arc becomes the launch pad for a whole new landscape.  After all, how much more relevant can the “Revenge” of the title stay when Emily appears to be floundering, confused by her emotions and clouded by her anger, as her mentor Takeda suggested prior to his death in season 2.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Revenge  was automatically ordered for a full season, as it is one of the network’s highest rated shows. Yet, the program is not as solidly interesting or inventive as its lead-in, Once Upon a Time, so the future of the show is somewhat in question, though ABC will, no doubt, stick with it for now.  This viewer, however, sees a high probability of shark jumping and ratings declines in the near future if the current direction of the program is any indication.