Friday, September 30, 2011

Music Break: "You're the Top" by Cole Porter

Pilot Thoughts: Suburgatory

I'm not even calling this a review because I'm a little too braindead for that at this point, but wow, I loved this pilot. Tessa, the teenaged narrator, was snarky and precocious without being obnoxious or two unrealistic, and I love the dynamic they're setting up between her and her single dad (Jeremy Sisto, who still always terrifies me a little because of Six Feet Under). He's the "cool dad" type but also fairly strict, and they clearly love each other a lot, whatever current problems they're having.

I expected to like those characters (and Alan Tudyk!) but I was delightfully surprised to discover that some of the supporting characters were fairly nuanced already. The client/love interest/suburban supermom Dallas Royce seemed initially set up to be superficial and awful, but she almost immediately gave George some really decent parenting advice. And sure, maybe her primary motivation is trying to sleep with George, but she also honestly seems to want to help Tessa, and there's an argument to be made that it is helpful for a girl to have someone in her life who makes it clear that she's open to discussing things like bras. (We don't know yet whether Tessa already has someone playing that role in her life.)

Of course, a lot of the suburb stuff is a caricature, but this episode suggested that it's not an unthinking one, and that - as on Community - there might be enough heart to back it up. I'm very hopeful.

Vampire Legal Issues: Maybe Mystic Falls Just Doesn't Have CPS


Last time I forgot that Jeremy and Elena also each own one half of their father’s office building.  Add that to the balance sheet!  

THING ONE: I cannot state this strongly enough: ALARIC IS NO ONE’S GUARDIAN.

Underline!  Boldface!  Italics!  Flashing lights!  Emotionally, I agree that it makes sense for Alaric to be Jeremy and Elena’s parent figure.  They’ve lost so many relatives, and Alaric knows about the supernatural world they inhabit.  He’s obviously got issues [Naughty Alaric], but he’s still the best option they’ve got.  However, being guardian to a child is a legal role, and except in the case of the child’s parents, it requires court authorization.

[The following citations are all to Virginia law; the other states with which I am familiar are all substantially similar.]

First of all, Elena has turned 18 and doesn’t need a guardian.  She is legally an adult.  Even if Elena were not an adult, Alaric would not be her guardian because he has no legal relationship to her.  Isobel was probably not legally Elena’s mother at any point, because she was not listed on the birth certificate.  A woman who gives birth to a child is legally presumed to be the child’s mother. [cite]  How do we know who gave birth to a child?  Well, for starters, she’ll be listed on the birth certificate.  Therefore, there is a legal presumption that Miranda Gilbert was Elena’s biological mother.  Elena is essentially adopted, except that there were never any adoption proceedings.  She is not legally an adopted child.  Is this shady?  Absolutely.  But you’re going to be hard-pressed to convince a judge to run a DNA test at this point.

Furthermore, even if Isobel were Elena’s legal mother and had never given her up for adoption, Alaric would not be Elena’s presumptive guardian unless he had adopted her or was named her guardian in Isobel’s will. [cite; cite; see also definition of child.]

Jeremy- well, how old is he?  Sixteen or seventeen?  Jeremy still needs a guardian, and he can request that Alaric be appointed his guardian.  However, that appointment must go through a court first. [cite]  I don’t know how likely a court would be to appoint Alaric; Jeremy’s wishes would be considered but they are not controlling.

Now, all of this is probably academic; if no one notifies the appropriate authorities that the Gilberts are living on their own, the courts probably won’t step in. Jeremy will turn 18 soon, and we can pretend that Jeremy and Elena will get control of their inheritance at 18, though that’s unusual.  Anyway, point is: ALARIC ISN’T THEIR LEGAL GUARDIAN.

THING TWO: This is my regularly scheduled inquiry about house ownership and invites.  BEEEEEEEP.

Kate and I watched the season premiere together, and when Damon walked into the house in Tennessee where Stefan killed those girls, we had the following conversation:
Me: But how did Damon get in there?  Didn’t someone inherit the house?Kate: You ruin EVERYTHING.                  
And then again, watching “The End of the Affair:”
Me: I feel like I have the same problems every week.Kate: Like the part where you’re insane?     Me: ...that could be one of them.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
I really have nothing to say that I haven’t said before.  So, to recap:  HOW DID DAMON GET IN THERE?  DOES NO ONE INHERIT HOUSES ON THIS SHOW MY GOD.  Maybe we are pretending that everyone dies intestate?  And if you die intestate, is the house in some sort of limbo, like when it’s a bank-owned foreclosure?  How do vampires pay their property taxes?  Do they compel the appropriate authorities to remove their residences from the tax rolls?  If Stefan has been keeping his Chicago apartment for the last 90 years, has he checked in on it?  If he comes back to find squatters, does he just eat them?  Does Stefan own that apartment, or rent it?  Does he pay fees to a homeowners’ association?  Will he lose his security deposit when they find the list of victims he left on the wall?

This has been my regularly scheduled inquiry.


THING THREE: Kids with assets.

If the Gilberts’ estate was planned the way I think it was, Jeremy and Elena are probably fine for money.  My estate planning professor said that parents of dependant children should have a life insurance policy 20 times their annual income, so that if the payout only got 5% returns, the family would still be getting the deceased parent’s income.  If the Gilberts did that, then Jeremy and Elena should have enough money to pay the mortgage, their presumably immense property tax bills, and for other stuff like food and utilities and new clothes.  I’m sure Jeremy isn’t working to put food on the table.

I’d really love to know about the Lockwood estate, too; does Mrs. Lockwood own the house now, or is it in trust for Tyler?  I’d guess that it goes to Tyler - Mystic Falls seems to enjoy male primogeniture - but maybe Mrs. Lockwood has a life estate.  

(You don’t think about imaginary people’s estate plans?  WEIRD.)  

THING FOUR: Who loves the 18th Amendment?  No?  Mostly the 21st?  Yes, Alaric, I know where you stand on that one.

In honor of this week’s awesome 1920s speakeasy flashbacks, here’s a friendly reminder that the newest Ken Burns documentary, Prohibition, starts this Sunday on PBS.  Check your local listings and keep an eye out for Stefan!

Peace out,


PS - Have any of you ever driven through Virginia and Tennessee?  I have, and I can tell you from personal experience that it takes a long time.  In “Rose,” the props department conveniently labeled Mystic Falls on the map, and it’s supposedly a bit southwest of Charlottesville.  (Yes, I looked it up.  I have a lot of spare time.  Shut up.)  Getting to any part of Tennessee from Charlottesville will take at least three hours (and it will feel like an eternity).  The gang is bouncing back and forth like they’re going to Starbucks.

PPS - Do we know how old Klaus is?  I suppose what’s important is that he’s clearly old enough to know what an arms race is.  Build an army so big no one will challenge it.  HA.  Nice plan, doofus.  At least now we know he has an enemy in mind.

Haven Recap: "Business As Usual"

Tonight is the Haven finale and I'm REALLY excited. If you'd like a refresher on what's happened so far, my recap of last week's episode (and the whole season) is up at TheTelevixen.
This episode had perhaps more conflict than we’ve ever seen before between Nathan and Audrey, but don’t worry – it really just grew out of their love and worry for each other. They’re reacting very differently to the Rev’s death and the growing tension in Haven. Nathan is terrified that Audrey will wind up in jail, so he’s determined to follow the letter of the law and simultaneously trying to hide as much of the Troubled-related activity as possible. Audrey, meanwhile, is growing increasingly desperate to get answers and help people, no matter the cost – partially because she thinks her ability to help the Troubled is her, not Lucy or Audrey.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Music (& Dance) Break: "Night and Day" by Cole Porter

HIMYM, "Ducky Tie:" Unreliable Narrators

I am not particularly a Victoria fan, but I thought she made a great point this episode, and was utilized well to illustrate what I think this show does best, mother nonsense aside: showing unreliable narrators. More after the cut . . .

Premiere Season Fatigue

I was going to say that premiere season is about over, but that's not quite true: there are a bunch of premieres in October. I think what I mean is just that I AM DONE. I have hit that wall and all I can think is "OMG I JUST WANT TO READ A BOOK AND COOK A REAL MEAL AND MAYBE CLEAN MY HOUSE." So. This is basically to say that my thoughts on a bunch more pilots will trickle in, but otherwise we're going to try for some sort of balance around here - instead of making myself write about a million shows, I'll narrow that down a little and resume reviewing books and posting about food and all that.

Shows I will probably write about regularly: Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, Community. I'll keep checking in on Ringer, for now, and maybe add Terra Nova to that list. Possibly Hart of Dixie. And whatever else catches my interest on a given week. That sound reasonable?

Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

In case you don't want to read the rest of this, here's what you need to know: The Name of the Star is out TODAY and I LOVE IT and you should read it. If you want to get a taste first, you can read the first 78 pages at that link.

(First of all, let me say that I realize I am in no way impartial when it comes to Maureen's books, because I work for her. I will also point out, though, that the work I do for her is not directly related to the books at all, and that she was basically done with this one before I started working for her. BUT STILL. I am completely acknowledging my bias.)

All that said, I have to tell you: The Name of the Star is my favorite of Maureen's books so far. By a lot. As I've been telling people, it has all the awesomeness of her other books, WITH ADDED MURDER. And ghosts. And a British boarding school, and I love boarding school stories. But let me back up and tell you a little about the book. Our heroine, Rory, is an American girl who arrives for a year at a boarding school in London just as someone begins to mimic the Jack the Ripper murders. Her school happens to be right in the middle of Ripper territory, so she's thrown into the middle of it all. And then the ghost police show up, and things get really interesting.

And now I will give you a list of reasons why I love this book, because who doesn't love a list?

1. Rory is a great heroine - not annoyingly perfect or The Most Special Girl Ever, but certainly not boring either. She goes through a lot and learns and changes but remains realistic amid all the crazy stuff going on.
2. The setting: London! I love London! And schools! As I've mentioned!
3. There's a guy named Alistair, and I can't tell you much about him without ruining things, but he wears a trench coat and listens to The Smiths and lounges around the literature section of the library and I LOVE HIM MADLY.
4. I also love Rory's roommate Jazza. And some of her other schoolmates. And the folks on the ghost police force, actually.
5. The whole ghost and ghost police thing is really well done. I like my paranormal elements to have rules and be internally consistent and MAKE SENSE in context, and these did.
6. A truly frightening antagonist. I don't need ALL books to scare me, but I like when murder mysteries scare me at least a little.
7. Jack the Ripper was one of the first big cases really covered by the tabloids, and this update of what that sort of media coverage would look like now was really fascinating. (Some of the media reports get rather info-dumpy, and slow things down a bit, but if you have to have an info dump, I guess that's really the best way to do it.)
8. There's a sort of cliffhanger, but it's not the kind that is annoying or makes the book any less satisfying. It's the good kind that just adds a layer of awesomeness and makes you really eager for the next book.

Intrigued? You can find links to many places to get the book right here.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/29/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8:30 p.m.:
How to Be a Gentleman series premiere, CBS
It seems that this is pretty much what it sounds like. But hey, Emily Deschanel's husband!

10 p.m.:
Private Practice season 5 premiere, ABC
I had given up on this last season but wound up missing it, so I'm trying to catch up. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2 Broke Girls & Up All Night: I'm out.

Two shows are joining Charlie's Angels in being deleted from my TiVo's future plans: 2 Broke Girls and Up All Night. I'm sad about both, for different reasons. There were some things I liked in the dynamic between the two main characters in 2 Broke Girls, but I just couldn't take watching something so racist, classist, etc. etc. (Don't know what I mean? Go read Alyssa.) And while I really liked the premise of Up All Night, I spent the entire second episode cringing, horribly embarrassed for all the characters. And that's just not the kind of TV I enjoy.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/28/11

(Sorry this is late - finally home from my trip.)

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8:30 p.m.:
Suburgatory series premiere, ABC
Reviews are good. My hopes are high. Plus, Alan Tudyk.

9:30 p.m.:
Happy Endings season 2 premiere, ABC
I mainlined season one of this in an afternoon a few weeks ago and LOVED it. You should give it a try.

10 p.m.:
Luther series 2 premiere, BBC America
I have heard very good things about this, and since series one was only 6 episodes, I actually have a chance of catching up reasonably soon. God bless British TV seasons.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music Break: "NYC" from Annie

Sorry for the quiet around here - I'm on a quick trip to New York. I'll be back Wednesday afternoon. See you then!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Vampire Diaries, "The Hybrid:" MY FAVORITE

OH MY GOSH I LOVED THIS EPISODE SO MUCH. Seriously, I've been having a hard time figuring out how to write about it, because it was probably my favorite episode of the show ever, and it's much harder to praise things interestingly than to criticize them. But I'll try to be coherent after the break . . .

Music Break: "One Week of Danger" by The Virgins

The Good Wife, "A New Day:" Recap at ThinkProgress

I hinted at this the other day, but now I can tell you officially: This season I'm going to be recapping The Good Wife for Alyssa Rosenberg's culture blog at ThinkProgress. You can read my take on the premiere right here.
The Good Wife does a nice job of showcasing the way that seemingly-monolithic institutions like government agencies and large law firms are actually just collections of people who have their own agendas, connections, and shifting loyalties — and that this isn’t necessarily good or bad, just the way things have to work. . . . Indeed, everyone’s using everyone on this show, and they’re refreshingly open about it. (At one point, Eli says he doesn’t like being used, and Alicia is only half joking when she replies, “Really? Since when?”)

Castle, "Rise:" Recap at TheTelevixen

My recap of the Castle premiere is up at TheTelevixen. That was quite an episode, huh?
"It showcased one of the things that Castle does best: showing equally sympathetic characters with clashing points of view and motivations, as a way of creating believable conflict that doesn’t hinge on anyone acting irrationally or out of character."

The Problem of Chuck Bass

There's an issue that has been cropping up more and more recently when I discuss TV: the blurring distinction between liking a character or plotline as a fictional device and actually liking or approving of them as though they were real people or situations. When I say I like something on TV, I almost always mean it in the former section, and often get shocked and appalled reactions. "But he's an awful person!" No, he's an awful fictional character, and there's a difference.

This sort of discussion most often comes up in regard to Chuck Bass, and since Gossip Girl comes back tonight, I thought it was a good time to talk about it. (Most of the exact arguments about Chuck also happen about Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries, so you can pretty much assume everything I'm saying goes for both of them, with some obvious differences, i.e. Damon's penchant for killing everyone.) Chuck is one of my favorite characters. He lies and cheats and tries to run the world and also makes grand gestures for his friends and can be the most vulnerable person imaginable. He's incredibly complex, and that's why he's my favorite: by "favorite" I usually mean "most interesting," and by "most interesting" I usually mean "most complex." There are girls who say they want to date Chuck or Damon, and that's disturbing, but it's completely possible to like them as characters without liking them as people.

Similarly, the issue of Chuck and Blair's relationship is a divisive one among Gossip Girl fans: some think it's an epic love story and want more of it, and others think it's abusive and should be shunned by all fans. But here, again, we're conflating finding something interesting as a plot with approving of it on an ethical level. It makes no sense to me to say that abusive relationships shouldn't be shown on TV. (And, um, if we make that rule, what about all the murder-based shows?) If Blair were my friend, I would do everything I could to keep her the heck away from him. You know, if they were real people. But they're not, and I think there's definitely a place on TV for compelling portrayals of both the attractions and dangers of abusive relationships.*

At heart, this probably just comes down to people watching TV in different ways and for different reasons. I was just discussing a different show with a friend, and she said she didn't like a certain thing that happened. I was shocked until she told me it was because she thought the main character had made a bad decision. Oh! Yes, I completely agreed that the character had done something wrong; I was just excited because I thought it would lead to interesting conflict on the show. Neither of us were right or wrong, and we weren't even necessarily disagreeing, just talking about different things. So when you discuss TV this season, make sure people know what you're saying when you say the word "like."

* There's some question as to whether the people who write the show see the relationship as abusive, and I agree that that could raise some additional issues, but I still don't think it would necessarily make this an awful story to put on TV.

Charlie's Angels: Just . . . no.

I made it through exactly six and a half minutes of the new Charlie's Angels. Funnily enough, a friend of mine made it to the exact same point, which I didn't realize until after I stopped the video and looked at the clock. Six and a half minutes in is where the show goes from "slick but boring generic action stuff" to "dialogue and interactions so ridiculously awful that I can't stand another second." I wanted this to be good, given my attachment to some of the people involved, but it's just awful. Oh well.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/26/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8:00 p.m.:
Gossip Girl season 5 premiere, CW
This show isn't as good as it was in the first two seasons anymore, but it's still surprisingly good, and possibly the most literary show on TV.

Terra Nova series premiere, FOX
Time travel! Dinosaurs! I was skeptical about this premise, but I saw the first hour of the two-hour premiere and really liked it.

9:00 p.m.:
Hart of Dixie series premiere, CW
The pilot of this drama about a big-city drama in a small Southern town is really cute - I think it will end up being one of my favorite new shows. Plus, Tim Matheson always helps.

9:30 p.m.:
Mike and Molly season 2 premiere, CBS
I love Melissa McCarthy, but I have no interest in this.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Caffeine: TV News Column for 9/25

It's over at TheTelevixen. Enjoy!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/25/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

7:30 p.m.:
Sunday Night Animation Block, FOX
I care so little about these shows that I can't be bothered to type out all 15 names. Sorry.

8 p.m.:
The Amazing Race season premiere, CBS
This is actually one reality show I'd probably watch if my schedule were less crazy.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition season premiere, ABC
Ty Pennington makes over the houses of families that are "inspirational" in various ways.

9 p.m.:
Boardwalk Empire season 2 premiere, HBO
This one looks good. I really must catch up.

Desperate Housewives season 8 premiere, ABC
I must admit I lost interest in this about halfway through season one.

The Good Wife season 3 premiere, CBS
One of the best shows on TV right now. I'll be recapping it for a new-to-me site, so I'll give you the link as soon as it's up.

10 p.m.:
CSI: Miami season 10 premiere, CBS
Wow, I hadn't realized this one had been around quite that long.

Pan Am series premiere, ABC
Stewardesses in the sixties. I'm fairly hopeful about this one.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Secret Circle, "Bound:" Once you DO believe in magic...

How did you like the second episode of The Secret Circle? I liked it quite a lot, and it made me hopeful for the direction this series will take. Read on to find out why . . .

Music Break: "Tell Her No" by The Zombies

Community, "Biology 101:" It's Back to School Time!

Man, I miss school. I mean, I don't want to go to that school, but it makes me remember how much I miss school in general. ANYWAY. I thought this was a solid premiere. More after the break.

The Mentalist, "Scarlet Ribbons:" So THAT'S what we're doing now?

In last spring's finale, The Mentalist rather wrote itself into a corner by having its main character kill a man in a crowded mall, in full view of witnesses. I was interested to see how it would get out of this, but now that I know . . . well, I'm not sure I really like the answer. Read on for more.

Haven Recap: "Who, What, Where, Wendigo?"

That was QUITE an episode last week, huh? Refresh your memory before tonight's new episode with my recap of last week over at
Wow. Haven is always good, but stuff got real this episode. It seems like the crisis that has been brewing since Audrey arrived in Haven is finally coming to a head, and there are real consequences.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/23/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
A Gifted Man series premiere, CBS
Honestly, the premise of this sounds kind of dumb to me, but it has such a good cast that I feel compelled to give it a chance.

Kitchen Nightmares season 5 premiere, FOX
This is the one where Gordon Ramsey tries to help bad restaurants, right? If you're interested, you probably know that already.

Nikita season 2 premiere, CW
I don't find this as compelling as some of the CW dramas, but it's fun.

9 p.m.:
CSI: NY season 8 premiere, CBS
I've somehow never gotten into any of the CSI shows, though I'm not sure why, since I like procedurals.

Fringe season 4 premiere, FOX
I've just started catching up on this one on DVD, but I really like it so far.

Supernatural season 7 premiere, CW
My feelings about this one are somewhat mixed, but the hot brothers wearing lots of flannel always get me. (But I'm only on season 2, so don't expect weekly reviews any time soon.)

10 p.m.:
Blue Bloods season 2 premiere, CBS
This drama about several generations of a New York cop family is really good, and worth catching up on - you've only missed one season.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

6 Reasons Why I Loved Revenge

Did you guys watch Revenge last night? What did you think? I was slightly surprised to discover that it's my favorite new fall show so far, and here are some slightly spoilery reasons why . . .

Music Break: "A Drop in the Ocean" by Ron Pope

Free Agents, "What I Did for Work" - Darn It, This Show Is Improving.

Honestly, after last week, I was sort of hoping that I'd continue not liking Free Agents and be able to regain that space on my TV schedule. And then the ratings were bad, so I figured it would just be cancelled anyway and I wouldn't have to think about it. But now . . . the ratings are still bad, so I still think it will be cancelled - but now I don't want it to be, because I actually really liked the second episode!

The show made pretty much all the changes I wanted after the pilot! There's more focus on the part I liked - the two main characters interacting and being human and trying to figure stuff out - and less of the parts I hated, specifically the over-the-top, offensive coworkers. The boss character (played by Anthony Head) has been toned down enough to make him actually sometimes funny, rather than just a ridiculous caricature. And last night's episode started doing some interesting things with the way the two main female characters relate to men differently and - shockingly! - allowed for the idea that one wasn't necessarily better than the other. And now that they're getting over their need to make the office into some outrageous fantasy, they might be able to say some interesting things about the modern American workplace.

But, as I said, the numbers are awful, so don't get too attached.

Body of Proof, "Love Thy Neighbor"

So! Body of Proof came back this week. And, you know, it was enjoyable! I predict the following things about this season:
1. The cases will continue to be fine but completely standard.
2. I will continue to be vaguely interested in the interpersonal relationships between the regulars, but they won't particularly make a lot of progress in any given direction.
3. I will continue to enjoy looking at Nicholas Bishop.
4. I will continue to have not much to say about any of it.
Really, what I'm trying to say is that I don't have the time or interest to write about this every week, but I'll check in if I have something to say about a particular theme or arc. I like this show mainly as mindless brain candy, and sometimes mindless brain candy is exactly what we need. But am I missing something? Anyone want to make the argument that there's more here than first appears?

Ringer, "She's Ruining Everything:" The Cult of Motherhood

The second episode of Ringer aired last night, and if you're here to find out whether it looks like the show is improving, I'm sorry to say that the answer is no. I mean, there was no awful boat scene this week, but neither the plotting nor the writing is getting any better, and the tone is still wildly inconsistent. The acting is possibly the best element - this cast is pretty solid - but even that doesn't elevate the show. It's basically pretty terrible.

But there's one specific issue that bothers me, above and beyond the general poor quality! It involves some of the last scenes in last night's episode, so read on to find out what it is . . .

Sesame Street Glee Parody

This is amazing.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/22/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
Big Bang Theory season 5 premiere, CBS
This is another with back-to-back episodes on its first night. Practically everyone I know loves this, so I should really give it a chance at some point. But tonight in this timeslot is not the time.

Charlie's Angels series premiere, ABC
It seems a show like this could be mindless fun, but nothing I've heard about it suggests that it's actually fun. And yet I like several of the people involved, both in front of and behind the cameras, so I'll give it a try.

Community season 3 premiere, NBC
This is my favorite comedy. If you aren't watching, for goodness' sake, why not?

8:30 p.m.:
Parks and Recreation season 4 premiere, NBC
I've just started catching up on this one and am liking it quite a lot.

9 p.m.:
Grey's Anatomy season 8 premiere, ABC
I had given up on this one, but I actually found that I missed it, so I'm trying to catch up. We'll see.

The Office season 8 premiere, NBC
What will it be like without Steve Carell? We'll find out! (Well, I won't, since I'm basically the one person in America who doesn't watch this show.)

Person of Interest series premiere, CBS
A former CIA agent and mysterious billionaire team up to prevent crimes by using . . . some sort of vaguely futuristic technology, maybe? I'll catch a repeat over the weekend and let you know what I think.

9:30 p.m.:
Whitney series premiere, NBC
Not even the promise of Jane Kaczmarek could make me watch this.

10 p.m.:
The Mentalist season 4 premiere, CBS
This one had quite the season finale, and I'm pretty curious to see how they write themselves out of the box where they left things.

Prime Suspect series premiere, NBC
A remake of the classic British detective show. I've heard mixed things, but it's probably worth a try.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Playboy Club, "Pilot:" When Bad Shows Happen to Interesting Eras

I don't have a whole lot to say about this pilot that others, specifically Alan Sepinwall and Alyssa Rosenberg, haven't said already, and you should especially read Alyssa because my reason to keep watching is the same as hers. But read on for a few thoughts . . .

Music Break: "That'll Be the Day" by Modest Mouse

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/21/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
The Middle season 3 premiere, ABC
I've heard very good things about this, but just haven't had time to get into it. Warning: This premiere also looks like two back-to-back episodes, like HIMYM.

The X Factor series premiere, FOX
Because what the world needs now is more singing shows.

9 p.m.:
Criminal Minds season 7 premiere, CBS
All I really know about this is that they keep having somewhat controversial casting changes. I know that's unhelpful. Sorry.

Harry's Law season 2 premiere, NBC
Kathy Bates is awesome, of course, and I adore Nathan Corddry, but this one was just too ridiculous for me.

Modern Family season 3 premiere, ABC
As you may have noticed, the Emmys really like this show. I swear I will catch up soon. (They're also doing two back-to-back episodes tonight, I think.)

10 p.m.:
CSI season 12 premiere, CBS
Wow, that's a lot of seasons.

Law & Order: SVU season 13 premiere, NBC
Wow, that's even more seasons.

Revenge series premiere, ABC
This is a Hamptons soap based on The Count of Monte Cristo, and I'm pretty excited about it. Emily van Camp! Eric from Gossip Girl! Whee!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

HIMYM, "The Best Man" & "The Naked Truth:" Do I Trust the Show? Do I Care?

How I Met Your Mother returned for its seventh season last night, and . . . well, you know, it was fine. But the big "shock" was not actually that shocking, I don't think. Although the problem could be that I've basically given up on the central question on the show and the attendant mythology. Hmm. Read on!

Music Break: "Exile" by Enya

Yesterday, someone found this blog by searching for which song was used in the Haven episode "The Tides That Bind." And it was this one! Not that this helps, as they are unlikely to come back. But just in case. My actual reaction when this aired was "THIS SHOW HAS NOW MADE ME LIKE AN ENYA SONG WHY DO THEY DO THIS TO ME?"

Should You Watch New Girl?

The world is divided into two groups: Those who like Zooey Deschanel's shtick and those who don't. If you like it, you don't need to read this post. You will watch New Girl, and you will like it. Enjoy! (I mean that in all sincerity.)

But I think the answer is less clear for those who aren't Zooey fans. (I feel weird even saying that, because it's not like I dislike her. I don't know her. I just don't like her carefully-cultivated public persona.) I'm really not, and expected to hate this pilot, but I found it surprisingly charming - even delightful. Part of this was due to Deputy Leo from Veronica Mars being one of the main characters. Part was that they make decent use of the emotional capital they invoke by having a Dirty Dancing thread through the episode. Part of it was that this show, unlike most of the sitcom pilots I've seen this year, had jokes that I mostly didn't find ridiculously offensive and occasionally even found funny. But mostly, I think I'm a sucker for "unlikely people become friends" stories. (Yes, I know, welcome to every show on TV, Kate.) The characters are drawn pretty broadly so far - they have to be, in 21 minutes - but the sparks of real friendship and caring between them by the end of the episode (and the way it seems this show might actually put some value on being a decent person) made me want to spend more time in New Girl's world.

2 Broke Girls, One Confused Kate

I watched the 2 Broke Girls pilot last night, and now I have much the same same dilemma with it as I did with Free Agents: this is a comedy, and I didn't think it was funny, and the jokes were often actively offensive. So as a comedy, I would never watch it again. But. BUT. I really liked the characters. Not the secondary characters; they were all awful and mostly racist stereotypes. But the two main girls, especially toward the end, when they got away from the broad "establishing the characters" stuff and started actually being characters. I actually cared! So now I have to watch it again! Argh. I'll let you know what I think next week.

(The one joke I did find funny was the one about wearing white after Labor Day. I'm sure that says something about me.)

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/20/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
The Biggest Loser season premiere, NBC
I have basically nothing to say about any of these reality shows. Sorry.

Glee season 3 premiere, FOX
I have given up on Glee. Perhaps you have not. Enjoy!

NCIS season 9 premiere, CBS
Wow. I had not realized this had been around quite so long, and I have still never seen a full episode. But you probably already know if you like this.

9 p.m.:
NCIS: Los Angeles season 3 premiere, CBS
What's better than one NCIS? Two NCISes! Yeah, I don't know. I see Chris O'Donnell's name and start thinking about Circle of Friends and then remember LL Cool J is in this too and wind up thoroughly confused. (Does LL Cool J's name have any punctuation? Hm. Anyway. MOVING ON.)

New Girl series premiere, FOX
I'm not a Zooey Deschanel fan, but I actually kind of liked this. I'll have some thoughts up later today about whether you should watch.

9:30 p.m.:
Raising Hope season 2 premiere, FOX
I know this has a lot of fans, but I am not one of them.

10 p.m.:
Body of Proof season 2 premiere, ABC
This procedural is one that I never really talked or wrote about last year, but wound up really enjoying. I'll try to get at least some quick thoughts up about it each week.

Unforgettable series premiere, CBS
This is a new procedural about a woman who literally remembers everything. I've heard some good things, and I like having a few procedurals that I enjoy as brain candy but don't get too invested in (see also: Body of Proof), so I'm hoping this falls into that category. Because this is a tough timeslot, I won't be watching this one until later in the week, but I'll let you know what I thought when I get to it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Break: "Rise" by The Frames

Caffeine: TV News Column for 9/18

In all the Emmy madness yesterday (and the fact that I was mainlining Happy Endings all afternoon) I forgot to post this, but check out this week's edition of my TV news column over at You can see that I'm getting a wee bit fatigued from pilot buying season when I start writing lines like "MTV has some new stuff that sounds MTV-like" and "Also a medical drama blah blah whatever." Oops! By next week we'll be getting numbers for some of the new shows and starting to have cancellations and/or full-season pickups, so that's something.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/19/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
Dancing with the Stars season 13 premiere, ABC
I'm just happen they still haven't cast anyone I really love, so I don't have to try to fit this into my schedule.

How I Met Your Mother season 7 premiere, CBS
This show has been uneven in recent seasons, but I'm happy to have it back. Will probably do quick reviews here.

The Sing-Off season 2 premiere, NBC
There's, um, singing. Yeah. I don't watch this.

9 p.m.:
Two and a Half Men season 9 premiere, CBS
I've never watched this show in the past, and I'm certainly not going to start now.

9:30 p.m.:
2 Broke Girls series premiere, CBS
I haven't heard great things about this, but I'll check out the pilot and let you know what I think.

10 p.m.:
Castle season 4 premiere, ABC
This one ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I am more than ready to have it back. I'll be recapping for, so I'll give you the links as they appear.

Hawaii Five-0 season 2 premiere, CBS
This is one of the fun-but-not-groundbreaking shows I decided I didn't have time to get into last season . . . but now I kind of want to catch up. So we'll see.

The Playboy Club series premiere, NBC
This has a bizarre marketing strategy and has been getting mixed reviews, but I'm intrigued enough to give it a try.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Haven "Lockdown" Recap at TheTelevixen!

I totally spaced out on posting this (thanks, Vampire Diaries!) but my recap of last week's Haven is up at
I was going to say that this episode of Haven is a locked room mystery, but despite being called “Lockdown”, it’s actually not that at all. What I meant was that it’s a classic bottle episode: the characters are stuck together in a confined space and have to confront issues and tensions that they may otherwise try to avoid. But first, let’s see how they got there …

The Secret Circle: Do You Believe in Magic?

Did I get that song stuck in all your heads? You're welcome. So, anyone else watch the pilot of The Secret Circle last night? What did you think? I realize that I am as close to being the target audience for this as I could be without actually being a teen girl, but I really liked it. Some more specific stuff after the break . . .

The Birthday: The Vampire Diaries Comes of Age

In last night's Vampire Diaries premiere, Elena turned eighteen, but it felt very much like the show itself was becoming an adult. Spoiler-full discussion after the cut . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pass the Time Until the #TVD Premiere with a New Podcast!

Right under the wire, we have our last season two Vampire Diaries podcast from TheTelevixen for you: The Fuzzy End of the Lollipop. Melissa, Vee, Lucia, and I go on for a while about the season finale and the season in general. (I think. I can't bring myself to actually listen to recordings of my own voice.) I make everyone talk about Gone with the Wind. You know, the usual. Need to refresh your memory of the finale or get (even more) excited for tonight's premiere? Go listen!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 9/15/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
The Vampire Diaries season 3 premiere, CW
SO EXCITED. This is one of my absolute favorites. You all probably know that. But this seems like a reasonable time to mention that I'm on the team at, so you should head over there for all your TVD needs. I'll do a weekly post of some sort here about it as well.

9 p.m.:
The Secret Circle series premiere, CW
This is a new show about teen witches based on books by the author of The Vampire Diaries and produced by the same EP. I've seen the pilot. It's awesome. At, we told you why we think you should watch. I'll probably be covering this one weekly in some form too.

10 p.m.:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 7 premiere, FX
I've never seen this. But my brother loves it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free Agents: "Pilot"

You guys, this was pretty dreadful. I'm exhausted just thinking about explaining all the things wrong with the sexual politics in this show, so we'll leave it at NO MEANS NO. Sheesh. Neither of the leads were as sympathetic as I think they were supposed to be, and with one exception, I uniformly hated all the other characters. That exception was the boss played by Anthony Stewart Head: I hated him slightly less but I'm 99% sure that that's solely due to residual Buffy fuzzy feelings.

And yet - and yet! There was SOMETHING there, a tiny spark, that made me sort of care about these two people and the way they might grow into taking care of and caring for each other. It made me almost wish it was a drama about these two people coming together unexpectedly and figuring out how to put their lives back together.

Oh, and I liked precisely one joke all episode. (The Nixon one.)

So . . . I don't know. I'm feeling generous, so I guess I'll give this one more episode to see if it's heading in a direction I like, and if the "isn't harassment funny?" bit is toned down. But I'm not hopeful.

Up All Night: "Pilot"

No real spoilers here, actually. This was . . . well, I'm torn. I was going to say it was "okay" but in fact I really liked the domestic half of it and was indifferent-to-annoyed-by the office half of it. I thought the two main characters were believable and I bought into their good but not perfect relationship immediately. I'm not a parents, but based on what I've observed and been told by friends who are, the baby stuff seemed as realistic as we're going to get on TV, anyway. But . . . yeah, the office stuff was just blah, with the exception of the karaoke scene. Nevertheless, I liked the characters and domestic scenes enough to be tentatively in on this one, unless it hugely messes something up next week. What did you all think?

VAMPIRE LEGAL ISSUES: The “Invites Are Giving Me a Headache” Edition

NOTE FROM KATE: From time to time, I make/let my friend Christine, who is almost a lawyer, go on about vampires and the law. Season three of The Vampire Diaries starts tomorrow, so this seemed like a good time for a season two wrap-up. We'll have more of these posts for you this season if more legal questions arise. ONE CAN ONLY HOPE. You can follow Christine on Twitter at @twtrlessfriend.

It’s time for another installment of Christine Thinks Too Hard about Vampire Law!  There’s so much to talk about, you guys.  I’m saving PROPERTY LAW for last.  Like dessert!

THING ONE: Those murderin’ monsters aren’t so homicidal, if you want to split hairs (and I do).

Did you know that common law defines homicide as the killing of a human being by another human being?  It doesn’t define the killing of a human being by a VAMPIRE!  Damon and Stefan are not homicidal maniacs!  Hee.  Maybe this is why Kate and I still find Ezra Fitz creepier than either of the Salvatores.

THING TWO: Child protective services needs to send a squad to Mystic Falls, STAT.

Someone needs to think about the children!  Bonnie’s mother ran away and her father is possibly imaginary; Caroline’s father is elsewhere and her mother is an incompetent workaholic who’s never home; Matt has been abandoned and is about three unpaid bills away from being the little match boy; and Elena and Jeremy keep sleeping with monsters.  These kids need a parent!  They need a responsible adult!  THEY NEED EMILY GILMORE.

Anyway, now that everyone is dead, Elena and Jeremy have no legal guardian and their estate has no trustee.  There are two issues here: the kids need a guardian, and their property also needs a guardian.  These can be the same person, but don’t have to be: Jenna was the legal guardian, and John was the estate’s trustee.  Since "The Sun Also Rises," Jeremy and Elena are missing both.

Elena will be turning 18 in the Season 3 premiere, so she at least doesn’t need a legal guardian anymore.  This doesn’t mean that she’s automatically Jeremy’s guardian, though.  She’d need to go to court to get custody.  

I have seen it suggested online that Alaric should get custody, but I can’t see this happening, even if Mystic Falls has judges as awful as their deputies.  He’s not related to either of the Gilberts.  What would he be? Step-birth-father?  Almost-uncle?  Obi-Wan?  Even if Isobel had been a Elena’s legal parent (she wasn’t on the birth certificate), Alaric, as Isobel’s husband, would have no rights to Elena whatsoever, nor would he be responsible for her support except in exceptional circumstances.  Alaric certainly has no claim to Jeremy.  Dating someone’s aunt doesn’t put you in the guardianship pool.

Hopefully the estate property is less confusing, and the Gilbert parents listed alternate trustees.  A bank would probably have been co-trustee with John anyway for everyday management purposes.

All that said, as much as I would love to see the Gilberts’ estate plan (ooooh, and Dead Mayor Lockwood’s!), I assume Jeremy and Elena will just get Damon to compel bank authorities when they need something.  Naughty scamps.

THING THREE: Wait, so who owns all those houses now?

Do you ever wonder if - um, Lockwood? - County is full of a lot of very confused probate judges?  (Come on, you know the Lockwoods named everything after themselves.)  I mean, the town’s death rate is immense, but property never seems to change hands properly!  Let’s get this straight:
  • Elena died.  She owned:
    • half of the Gilbert house
    • half of the lake house
    • the boardinghouse
  • Jeremy died. He owned:
    • half of the Gilbert house
    • half of the lake house
  • Alaric dies all the time, but I don’t know what he owns.  For all I know he leases his Suburban.
  • The Salvatores are dead.  Do they own anything?  I mean, other than an enviable collection of hair products?
So when people die, even for brief periods of time, does ownership pass to someone else?  If you come back to life, do you get all your stuff back?  And then who controls invites into your real estate portfolio?  

THING FOUR: Possession, Ownership, or Occupancy: How in the name of all things holy do invites WORK, or, Does Alaric have to invite Damon into his Suburban now?

For the most part, it has always seemed to me that rightful occupants of a property, whether owners or not, could invite vampires in.  (See I Heart Property Law and Vampires Should Too, written after "Know Thy Enemy.")  After all, Jenna could invite people into the Gilbert house, which she presumably didn’t own, and so could John.  Caroline and Tyler could invite people into their parents’ houses, which they also presumably didn’t own.  Matt invited Vicki into their house, and I assume the lease was in their mother’s name.  Occupancy, not ownership, seemed to be the common thread.

But then in the last five episodes of the season, it was like Invites Gone Wild over in Mystic Falls, and it’s giving me a confusion headache.  How did Klaus get into Alaric’s apartment? How could Alaric invite Damon into his apartment after he’d been kicked out?  How did Katherine get into the boardinghouse to save Damon?  How did Elijah and Stefan get into Alaric’s?  Alaric’s apartment is like a black hole of invite logic!  And as for Alaric- if you live in your car, do you have to invite the vampire in?  Poor Ric must be living in his Suburban, what with Klaus taking over his bachelor pad.  Will he have to invite Damon in next time they take a road trip?

Despite these issues (and I suppose they could just be continuity problems, but that destroys all my fun), I think my occupancy theory still works.  In the finale, when Stefan got into Alaric’s and Katherine into the boardinghouse, those dwellings’ respective owners had stopped occupying them.  Alaric was maybe living in his Suburban, and Elena went back to the Gilbert house.  I know the producers said that Katherine got into the boardinghouse because Elena had died, but I like my theory better.  

So if we just go with Damon being a continuity boo-boo, occupancy STILL WORKS.  I AM THE BOMB.

Except- remember in "Let the Right One In" when Damon didn’t bother killing the lady who owned Pearl’s crash pad until he’d determined that she had no heirs?  Wasn’t the point that if the lady died but she had an heir, that new owner would control the invites and Damon wouldn’t be able to get in to rescue Stefan and his abs?  Wouldn’t that be the case here too?  If Elena technically died, shouldn’t her ownership interest have passed to Jeremy?  They weren’t both dead at the same time, and when Jeremy died Elena was alive again, so the house would have passed back to her.  So how did Katherine get in?  And if the boardinghouse is now open to all vamps, wouldn’t the Gilbert house be open too?  SEE?  HEADACHE.

Eagerly awaiting further vampire legal hijinks in season three,


PS- How does occupancy work with vacation homes?  Perhaps it’s a “occupy in the manner of homes of that type,” sort of like how you don’t need to constantly occupy an isolated ski chalet to adversely possess it if it’s normally only occupied three months a year.  Maybe it has to do with who’s exercising dominion over the property, so more of an adverse possession model?  Though that wouldn’t explain Alaric’s, unless neither he nor the landlord are in possession, because Alaric moved out and the landlord has somehow not noticed the shenanigans going on in his apartment.  But then how could Alaric invite Damon in, if it’s possession?

PPS- I have always wanted to know what would happen if ownership to a property changed while a vampire was inside, and thanks to "Klaus," now we know: the vampire will no longer be able to breathe.  Sorry, Elijah.  (You’re still dreamy, though.)

PPPS- You know who would know the answer to my questions? Elijah.  THANKS, KLAUS.

PPPPS- Eliiiiiiiiiijah.