ETV: Grey’s Anatomy, Project Runway and Models of the Runway

E: Does anyone else find it hard to believe that we’re so close to the end of Project Runway, and that there are so few impressive designers left?  There’s an easy top three, surely, and they’ve all done stuff I like, but is anyone blown away by them?

Yeah, didn’t think I was alone there.

And what do you know, a Grey’s totally devoted to a single medical case.  Again.  Probably less unsatisfying than last week, but not by a whole heck of a lot.  This better be leading someplace, people!

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FlashForward Review: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

M: Ok, now this is more like it!  Last week I felt was the worst episode of FlashForward thus far.  For several weeks before I’d been complaining that the show was ending episodes well, and overall was pretty solid, but nothing more than that.  Well, this week they made up for last week, and may have started to put it together.  A lot of things went into making this what I would consider the best episode since the pilot (E: Absolutely), from the refocusing on the story lines that they had been building over the previous weeks, like the clues on mosaic board in Mark’s office to the potentially doomed relationship between Mark and Olivia, with Lloyd (Mrs Norris) interjecting, with another random, unexplained appearance by the kangaroo from the pilot thrown in (E: “That is the best costume ever!”).  Those, and the introduction of a new character, help to put the show back on track, and even on a better track, than it was a few weeks ago. Continue reading

Reality Bites: Biggest Loser and Top Chef

M: This week’s episode of The Biggest Loser ended with a contestant that I like, admire and am incredible inspired by leaving, while Top Chef ended with the departure of a contestant who was entertaining, albeit in a cocky and sometimes aggravating way, and had endeared himself to me by cooking one of my favorite Lebanese dishes in one competition.  In both cases, we lost a compelling contestant, but as the numbers start to dwindle on each show, it’s hard not to. Continue reading

So You Think You Can Dance: Season Six Top Twenty

E: I hope no one minds, but since The Good Wife was a repeat last night (? what gives?) I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the other non-World Series Fox event of the week –  the start of So You Think You Can Dance’s performance shows!  Monday, we were offered something the producers of So You Think You Can Dance just love – a first in their history!  For the first time in SYTYCD history (all five years of it) the Top Twenty will be introduced via a special where they all get to dance in their own styles!  And no one goes home! And lots of twinkly, happy host Cat Deeley!  Hurrah!

I was actually thrilled about this.  For any neophytes in the house, after auditioning thousands (hundreds? lots?) of dancers, and intensive call backs in Vegas, the judges pare the talent down to ten guys and ten girls, and pair them up to be the fabled Top Twenty.  In the last season there were complaints from folks like me that we didn’t get enough time to appreciate the work of a lot of dancers before the voting began.  Some people in the Top Twenty got lots of air time in the early auditions (among others, Philip Chbeeb)  and others (like Jeanine Mason), not so much.  The great thing about SYTYCD is that they really do want the dancers to succeed, and so they took Jeanine, who nobody had seen, and paired her with Philip, who already had a fan base, which ensured she wouldn’t get voted out right away.  And in fact, she ended up winning the season.  So in another instance of caring about the viewers and dancers, this season we got a special to make sure we had a better feel for everyone before we had to start voting them off.  And because of the World Series, it aired on Monday (while the show usually airs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

So imagine my annoyance when I learned at the end of this extraordinary gift of time, this delicious dance extravaganza (the tap!  the Mandy Moore contemporary!  the hip hop!) that there was also going to be a performance show this week.  BUT NO VOTING.  That’s right, that means the judges kicked some contestants off last night.  I thought this was supposed to be about America’s Favorite Dancer, y’all!  Nigel Lithgoe, I’m growling at you.  I’m not growling at you, friends. Please follow after the jump to see a quick rundown of the ten new couples, the styles they were assigned,  how they did, and how they got cut down to nine couples. 😦

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Castle Review: “Vampire Weekend”

C: First off, kudos to whoever named tonight’s episode!  They may be cashing in on the recent undead mania, but they’re also tipping the hat to a fun band.

The opening sequence of this episode was an absolute geek’s fantasy, with rapid-fire references to Harry Potter, Buffy, Underworld, and eventually to The Crow, Aliens, and even The Great Gatsby. The coup de grace: Castle dressing up for Halloween as, essentially, Nathan Fillion’s space cowboy character Mal (E: eeee!)  on Firefly. (M: Classic!) I laughed hysterically at Alexis’s critique: “There are no cows in space.”

E: And how about “Didn’t you wear that five years ago?  Don’t you think you should move on?”

M: One of the best scenes and verbal exchanges on TV in a while; I love nods to other shows like that.

C: The victim this week is extremely seasonal: a would-be vampire staked through the heart in a cemetery. (Favorite line from Castle, trying on fangs: “Do these make me look immortal?”)  The team this week follow the trail of a graphic novel to a disturbing possibility – could the victim could have been killed by a real vampire? Continue reading

5 Classic Films of Stirring Adventure

C: Since we’ve been very focused on TV around here lately, I’ve had a request to talk more about movies – specifically, to recommend some more classic movies everybody should see.  If you’re looking to buckle up some swash, here are some of the most thrilling adventure stories ever to grace the silver screen:

captain_blood_posterCaptain Blood (1935) is the original swashbuckling pirate classic.  Disney may have based their Pirates of the Caribbean films on the Disneyland ride, but it’s plain to see the ride was inspired by Captain Blood, an early success from director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, White Christmas) based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini (M: author of Scaramouche, a novel I inherited Quibbling Dad’s love for).  Errol Flynn, in his first major role, stars as a dashing Irish doctor who, for saving a rebel’s life, gets convicted of treason and sold into Caribbean slavery.  Clearly, piracy is his only option! With luminous Olivia de Havilland to flirt with and Quibbling Family favorite Basil Rathbone to fence with, Flynn flaunts his legendary derring-do and charm from Port Royal to Tortuga.

prisoner_of_zenda_posterThe Prisoner of Zenda (1937) is a movie few have heard of today, but a highly enjoyable classic.  Ronald Coleman stars as Rudolf Rassendyll, a British man vacationing in the fictional kingdom of Ruritania, where his distant cousin the king (who happens to look just like him) has been the victim of a treasonous plot. Naturally, sword-fights and counter-plots ensue!  There’s a great supporting cast, including C. Aubrey Smith, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and a surprisingly cute young David Niven.  Will Rudolf save his cousin?  Or will falling in love with the beautiful Princess Flavia (Madeleine Carroll) tempt him to usurp the king’s place?  Fun fact: though I’ve never seen this acknowledged, it’s obvious that the great 1993 Kevin Kline film Dave is a modernization of Zenda (M: As is the equally tricksy 1988 Richard Dreyfus film Moon Over Parador).

four_feathers_posterThe Four Feathers (1939) is another fine film of the “regular young man called on to be a hero” variety.  Our hero Harry Faversham (John Clements) would rather live a happy life in England than subdue the people of Africa in Queen Victoria’s name.  But when his three best friends and his fiancee (June Duprez) give him white feathers representing cowardice, what’s he to do?  Run off to Sudan as a badass spy, of course.  There are some troubling racial stereotypes in this film, but the cinematography of Africa and Zoltan Korda’s epic direction are legendary – stick with it through the slow and awkward bits and you’ll find this sweeping tale of bravery and romance rewarding.  (M: Much more so than the 2002  Heath Ledger remake, though Djimon Hounsou’s excellent supporting performance is at least worth watching.)

ivanhoe_posterIvanhoe (1952) defines the chivalric romance genre, with Richard the Lionheart and Robin of Locksley showing up to support Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor), who despite his soppy name is a knight renowned in battle and tourney alike.  He’s also a Saxon, which is why his father disinherited him for following Norman King Richard to the Holy Land (more suppressing the natives, yeesh!) and won’t let him see his lady-love Rowena (Joan Fontaine).  Ivanhoe must do all manner of dashing things to defeat Prince John and rescue his Jewish patron’s daughter Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor at her prettiest) from persecution. Knights, castles, jousts, sieges, romance, and comic relief – this is absolute classic.  (Oh, and parents: kids like it too.)


Ben Hur (1959) is the most intense of all these films, blending adventure with drama on an epic scale.  The magnificently manly Charlton Heston plays a wealthy Jewish man in the time of Christ, who’s betrayed by a friend and, like Captain Blood, wrongfully enslaved. (Not that enslavement can be rightful…).  The galley scenes are unforgettable (“RAMMING SPEED!”), as of course is the iconic chariot race, but this film – from legendary director William Wyler (Roman Holiday) – also offers a moving personal story of a man who must overcome his poisonous desire for vengeance. And I always liked the touch of romance. More people know of this film than have actually seen it, maybe because of the 3.5 hour runtime.  But this is one to make a point of watching.

Looking for more of the best films of all time?  Check out our previous posts: 10 Black & White Classic Films Everyone Should See and 5 Classic Crime Thrillers That Satisfy.

White Collar Review

M: USA Network’s new show White Collar combined two things that I’m a fan of, Matthew Bomer and the basic premise of Catch Me If You Can.  Bomer, most recently the late Bryce Larkin on the sibling favorite Chuck, first came onto my radar as the star of one of the best summer replacement shows of recent years, Traveler, that rare summer show that absolutely should have been picked up.   In White Collar he stars as Neal Caffrey, in the Leonardo DiCaprio role from Catch Me, the impossibly clever con artist who is now helping out the FBI, with Carnivale‘s Tim Dekay joining as Peter Stokes, in the Tom Hanks role.  Think of this as the adventures of Leo and Tom after the end of the movie, and you’ve got the idea. Continue reading