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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Tag » the CW

The Vampire Diaries – “The Hybrid”

Oooh, scary small talk, Klaus. Where's your cool coin trick? I miss Elijah.

At the end of this week’s The Vampire Diaries, I turned excitedly to my partner and said, “This season is going really well, don’t you think?”  It was, of course, a rhetorical question.  There is much to like about this season, including a newly empowered and ennobled Tyler, a slightly less dumb Matt, a completely missing Bonnie, and an emphasis upon Damon and Elena (I suppose there could be fans less pleased with this, but if there are, I don’t know them).

Of course, there are aspects of season 3 that I admire less, like the tendency to get super foggy with the details of the Big Bad’s master plan.  I had to suspend my disbelief repeatedly during this episode’s scenes involving Klaus.  How do I question, thee, Big Bad–let me count the ways.  First, you are supposed to super powerful, so why have Stefan do all your killing? Have you even transitioned into a werewolf since you and Stefan set off on your dastardly buddy comedy?  Second, why can Stefan run into Elena and Damon repeatedly while wandering on a Tennessee mountain but Klaus–older and more powerful–remains oblivious?  Third, am I supposed to just accept that Klaus became a hybrid during the few minutes Elena was dead, but now that she’s back alive, no more hybrids can be made?  To go deeper into this mythological disclaimer might lead to madness, so I won’t harp on this point, but let’s just say, I have to remind myself not to ask too many questions.

Instead, I’d like to marvel at how The Vampire Diaries always manages to lessen or remove my annoyance at Elena.  She was driving me bat shit crazy this entire episode, but then, in a clever reveal at the end, I suddenly found her storyline this week way more insightful and effective.  More about that, though, after the jump…

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Audition Review: The Secret Circle – “Pilot”

Two lead roles in the CW in two years? Um, I don't get it.

I only have ten minutes, so I am going to write what I can and then maybe add more later. Here’s the summary judgement–I kinda liked The Secret Circle.  The reviews I’ve read haven’t been the most positive, but if you like cheesy TV with a side of angsty star-crossed lovers, then maybe this is for you.

Here’s the thing with the CW this year–I tried LUX but quickly figured out that the show was doomed, and then the show got so whacky trying to wrap things up.  But I just wasn’t that into the actors.  The irony is that only 2 of the 3 main actors are back on the CW this season, and they are the 2 I was less into.  Ah, well.  There is nothing wrong with cute little blondie, Cassie (Britt Robertson).  She is earnest and wears those sweet outfits with military boots well.  But am I going to root for her?  Unclear at this moment.  I’m way more into her grandmother–let’s make the show about her.

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The Vampire Diaries – “The Birthday”

The Ripper

The Vampire Diaries’ gang is all here, and the complications are multiplying quickly. Off like a horse at the races, we are immediately back in a big ol’ pile of supernatural craziness.  There’s also some tender human-type craziness, too, which is nice.  With Stefan sort of out of the picture for a bit, I imagine Damon will get an even larger piece of the action–not complaining at all.  How the show balances Elena’s love and loyalty to Stefan with the hint of her attraction to Damon will be interesting.  Will they retread old ground?  Will they let the characters develop a deeper, if less sexually charged, relationship, unique in its own rights?  Will Damon spend this year being a better man as he tried to spend last year becoming a weaker man?  [You may recall how critical I was of the dropped ball with Damon’s character last year–see my review of the finale for more.]  There are other questions (will the Jeremy storyline be as lame as I fear? Will Awesome Vampire Caroline take over the show, as she should?), but I am guessing we’ll have a strong focus on Elena and Damon’s story, and for that reason, I’ll keep my attention there for now.

Coming in to this new season, I was most hesitant about Stefan’s story, but the final scene did much to alleviate those concerns. As noted above, I’m not quite sure what is the plan with Damon [and not sure that I’m a fan of the longer hair, but maybe it is just in that awkward stage? Guess Somerhalder was too busy flying from Africa to New York to Paris this summer to get his hair done (for reals, did you follow him on Twitter? Guy went all over the world a few times, lucky guy).] Now that I’m also aware that Somerhalder is “not yet officially” dating Nina Dobrev, I’m curious how that is influencing my viewing. I see them touch or look at each other, and I think, “gosh, they must be having fun,” when poor Elena is supposed to be in the middle of an angry/emotional/depressed (pick one) scene.

Since we jump in pretty much where we left off, let’s do a quick rundown of where everyone is at right now:

“Poor Elena,” btw, is an understatement. It is her birthday, but all she can think about is the missing Stefan. Elena is sad but more or less holding it together.

Stefan is working for Klaus, doing whatever he says, even if that means ripping the heads off poor, innocent girls. [His outfits are now all black, btw, to indicate the darkness of his soul.] Basically, the entire episodes asks the audience to look for Stefan’s humanity, as Damon and Elena have been doing for months. That is actually a pretty sharp setup because it makes me care way more about Klaus’ DIABOLICAL plan [bad guys always have plans that deserve all caps].

Damon is still hanging with Andie, taking small breaks to chase down his brother and catalogue Stefan’s list of horrific crimes. He is keeping Elena in the dark. The best part of Damon’s life (at least, in my opinion), is when he hangs with Ric. [The buddy show that will eventually spin off from TVD better star Damon and Ric (sorry, Stefan).]

Ric is not holding it together as well as Elena. He is drinking a lot, sleeping on Elena’s couch, and otherwise acting like a sad sack. But hey, his girlfriend died twice, so that is a bitter pill.

Jeremy? Also losing it. He keeps seeing ghosts, but apparently these ghosts are completely incapable of conveying a message of any sense because all Jeremy has gotten out of them in two months is, “help me.” He hasn’t told Bonnie, the one person who could maybe help him because, um, why? Unclear. Better come up with a good reason that Jeremy would keep all this to himself, TVD, otherwise you have drama for drama’s sake rather than actions motivated by realistic character psychology (for all its excesses, TVD does usually ground its action in likeable, self-aware people).

Bonnie? Watching paint peel at her dad’s place out of town [don’t worry, she keeps up with Jeremy through his “facetime” feature on whatever phone the CW is hawking this week.]

And of course, my favorites, Awesome Vampire Caroline and her hunky friend Tyler. I write “friends” because that is what they are pretending they are, to everyone (but Matt’s) amusement.

So, that’s the landscape. We have a lot of characters that have done very little all summer but keep their feelings to themselves while they go through the motions. [So much for trips to the beach and hanging at the local drive-in, I guess.]

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Podcast 14: “FOX Hurts Nick’s Feelings”

“I bet that was the first time Human Target has ever trended on Twitter … those seven people were really upset about it.”

Where’s podcast 13, you ask? Well, think of it like how buildings don’t have thirteenth floors because it’s bad luck. That should distract you from the real reason: Nick got lazy and didn’t cut the last recording. When the Monsters of Television album drops, I’ll make Podcast 13 (and all the others resigned to a similar fate) the secret track for you.

Another secret track on that album? Some of the stuff that was left on the cutting room floor for this podcast. So much to talk about and so little time to do it in. FOX hacked its schedule to shreds this week, canceling just about everything, even putting House on notice for a final season. We stare down the barrel of the upfronts and tell you about what we’ll miss, what we’re looking forward to, and what we’re already cringing about. We also talk a lot of television from the past week, mostly the usual suspects. So go ahead and indulge yourself with this week’s podcast. Learn something. And try to forget about ol’ scary number thirteen.

Running time: 72 minutes

  • FOX Bloodbath
    • Chicago Code: 0:00:22
    • Breaking In:0:04:33
  • Chuck: 0:10:02
  • Wonder Woman: 0:11:42
  • Charlie’s Angels: 0:12:58
  • FOX Bloodbath – Sepinwall Post: 0:15:24
  • NBC PIckups: 0:17:32
  • Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea: 0:18:19
  • Ashton Kutcher and Two and a Half Men: 0:19:15
  • S#*! My Dad Says Cancelled: 0:22:10
  • ABC Pickups: 0:22:28
  • Damon Wayans, Jr and Happy Endings: 0:26:11
  • CW Renewals: 0:27:49
  • Smallville: 0:28:15
  • Ringer: 0:31:06
  • Gossip Girl: 0:33:25
  • Game of Thrones: 0:40:20
  • The Office: 0:53:40
  • Community: 0:55:41
  • This Week’s Finales: 1:08:10


Smallville – “Finale”

“I’ll always be there to stop you. Always.”
“Oh I’m counting on it.”

Darkseid’s forces are growing larger and stronger. Old enemies resurface as this new enemy literally hurls Clark’s greatest challenge at him. Everyone has their part to play in stopping this threat and helping Clark become the Man of Steel.

Finales often show us a lot of where we came from before a show takes that final bow. For Smallville that look back was not only cathartic for the audience, but essential for Clark to realize his destiny. He had to realize that moving forward did not mean forgetting his past. He is a culmination of all the experiences he has had and the people he has met. He is a personification if his journey, a journey that we have had the privilege of joining him on for the past decade.

To really understand Smallville, not only in its finale but as a whole, we must do as Clark had to: look at those important to him and the experiences he has had, the hardships he has endured and the trials he has faced that have shaped him into the man he is now and the hero he would become.

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The Vampire Diaries – “As I Lay Dying”

Still the winner and champion--and with her debt paid in full

This episode was the Damon hour. Despite that, I actually wish there had been more Damon. Yes, I am a fan of Ian Somerhalder and can never quite get enough of his hot bod, but there is more to it than that. I wrote last week that there were certain matters related to Damon that needed to be addressed (if not resolved) this week in order for the episode to be a success for me.  The show’s success on this front was middling at best.

I’ll review those finale expectations from last week after the jump (to avoid spoilers on the homepage), but in general, I thought Damon’s story moved rather slowly. Rather than force a dying, frightened Damon to have real conversations with the various people he has hurt—among the possibilities, Awesome Vampire Caroline, Sheriff Forbes, Jeremy, and Elena (Ric will be addressed below)—the writers’ trap Damon in a cell briefly and then have him wander town aimlessly for a while. The chase element did little to add suspense since there wasn’t any particular menace (i.e. Did he kill anyone while he was out there? Not that we saw). His conversation with Ric stopped before it started because Ric didn’t want to go there. Same could be said about his conversation with Elena—wonderful how dying makes everything suddenly okay, isn’t it? These were cheats that prevented all the characters from growing through actual conflict and conversation, in favor of a less satisfying compassion.

The side stories were more action driven, with Sheriff Forbes determined to take out Damon after being yelled at by Mayor Lockwood for her failure to deal with the “vampire situation.” Yet the conversations here, too, left me wanting.

You could make the argument that I am asking The Vampire Diaries to be more than it is. This is a show about action, romance, sex, adrenaline, fun, friendship, and entertainment. I get that. I watch it for all those reasons. But I see potential for more—in the actors, in the characters, and in the plot scenarios that the writers have developed. When I ask for more, it is out of love, not out of disdain or meanness.

Also should issue a caveat to my review (which is less of a recap than usual).  This was less a season finale than a preamble to season 3.  By all rights, last week was the official season finale–it resolved to a great degree a number of plot lines (Elena’s function in the ritual, her salvation, the fate of Jenna’s character, etc).  It also featured lots of fire, a series of gruesome deaths, and several heroic actions.  Because “As I Lay Dying” introduced a series of complications that will play out in season 3, some of my criticisms are somewhat premature.  But as we have several months to ponder the episode, these questions will only grow more urgent, so a deeper consideration of them now may be appropriate.

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The Vampire Diaries – “The Sun Also Rises”

Does anyone do the lovable prick better? Congrats, Uncle John, it's a girl.

There are a lot of sad people in Mystic Falls today. The only person who ended the day feeling satisfied and content, most likely, was Uncle John. Course, he spent most of his life being a shit, so the path from jerk to savior pretty much meant he had to do one selfless thing, you know, ever. I have never made a secret of my love for the actor portraying Uncle John. David Anders has developed a particular gift for being a lovable prick, something he exploited on both Alias and Heroes. His addition to The Vampire Diaires cast delighted me from day one, and each return of his character was met by my cheers. Seeing Uncle John fight to build a relationship with his daughter has been among the more touching developments this season. And Uncle John’s actions this week continued that trend in grand form (don’t worry, no explicit spoilers until after the jump). Uncle John became Elena’s father this week by doing the fundamental act of parenting—anyone can create a baby, but only a parent understands the sacrifice entailed in the day-to-day business of helping a child grow and thrive.

Some of you might be wondering why I have been giving so much attention to Uncle John when other characters demonstrated a similar willingness to sacrifice this week. From Jenna to Bonnie to Stefan, everyone was jumping on the bandwagon to sacrifice themselves for Elena. Heck Elena even was trying to save people, as per usual, fighting to save Jenna. The scenes between Jenna and Elena were particularly effective this week. Having been murdered and turned by Klaus, Jenna was reborn as a vampire in the episode’s earliest moments. Knowing nothing about her new life, Jenna depended on Elena to raise her as a new vampire. They both debated who let the other down more in life, but it became clear that neither woman was going to go out without a fight, hoping against hope to spare the other’s life.

People died. Honestly, it was kind of a bloodbath, complete with blood dripping into Greta’s witch’s potion. As often happens on TVD, characters surprised us and let us down. Everyone was fighting to survive this week, and the stakes have never been higher. Most shocking, it was Matt that delivered one of the night’s most honest moments. In a developing theme, TVD is finally answering for me the profound question, “why would anyone prefer to be a human when they could be a vampire?” The answer is complex, shifting for each character. As it becomes clearer, though, the tragedy that is Stefan and Damon’s afterlife becomes more poignant.

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The Vampire Diaries – “The Last Day”

Despite my perverse affection for bad boys, this show repeatedly reminds me why this couple is the heart of "TVD"

I’m liking how The Vampire Diaries keeps putting forth titles that refer to multiple characters. Some face death of a traditional sort. Others of a less traditional sort. But for many, it is their last day of something, as with Klaus, for whom it is the last day of waiting…after a very, very, very long time of waiting.

I’ve been thinking about this very, very good episode of TVD, and it has me contemplating what this show is not. It is not elegant—and don’t think I mean that in a really negative way. Some shows operate on a level of poetry—they are about balance, proportion, symmetry. For example, we have a number of character facing their last day here. If TVD was more elegant, it would develop layered stories, intercutting each character’s experience facing death, so each would comment on the next. Instead, the show runs in fits and starts. It acts impulsively, like Damon. TVD is all emotion, action. Often it is messy and somewhat erratic. Now, I like my shows messy, so again, this isn’t criticism. Rather, I think the show truly embodies the youthful energy of its main characters and its intended audience. Without great vision of the future, the characters move forward, following compulsions or passions. They are not embittered or despairing. For these characters, there is always some new plan, some new action. So they hurtle forward, always hoping for better, for salvation, for love.  As with the characters, for TVD, the key to this show is the relationships.

A lot happens in this episode—let’s count the instances of impending carnage. Two friends return, a human faces a future as a vampire, a vampire is fatally bit, four trapped supernaturals await their fate, a witch dies, a human is turned, and a friend betrays another in an unforgiveable manner. I mightily enjoyed all of these happenings, but as I’ve often written, action is not enough–I want more–character development, depth, consequences.  In “The Last Day,” TVD demonstrated that it can indeed give us this “more.”  Despite being, largely, an action episode, two characters take time to process the enormity fo the changes ahead.    I hope all the characters dealing with huge changes get such an opportunity to come to terms with these changes in the next two episodes, but for now, I am going to relish the rather sublime conversation we get to witness between Stefan and Elena to describe why this weeks TVD marks a high point–for its strengths (fast-paced action) and for overcoming its typical weakness (too fast to let characters react, change).

For me, the highlight of the episode was not any of the super exciting moments but rather the scene with Stefan and Elena atop the waterfall. Aside from the cheesiness of the setting and the inevitable ‘reveal’ by Elena, their conversation is mature, adult, honest. Of the many reasons why I like this show, the handling of Elena and Stefan’s relationship must be high on that list for the writers’ avoidance of the usual clichés. Elena and Stefan do not need each other desperately. They do not constantly swear a willingness to die for the other (though both would likely do so). They avoid discussions of the future rather than presume life will always remain exactly as it is right at this moment. My partner often comments about a fatal flaw in most vampire-human relationships—he cannot believe a creature that has lived for hundreds of years would be interested in the hobbies and priorities of a teenager. The life experience disparity is simply too great, in his mind. Yet here we saw Elena showing that her own sense of self runs deep, and that Stefan understands her, even when she does not speak her thoughts aloud. More details about this scene, and others, after the jump.

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Smallville – “Booster”

“I’m Booster Gold. The greatest hero you’ve never heard of. TIL NOW!”

Finally! I had been waiting for this episode for months. Months I tell you. Smallville has introduced a lot of DC heroes into its mythology, some more successfully than others, and the additions of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle were highly anticipated.

“But Matt, this final season is about Clark realizing his potential and becoming that great iconic hero. Introducing other heroes this late in the game is taking away from that focus.” I have a few things to say to that, concerned viewer. The first is: shut up. The second is: yes this is the final season so the show is going to go all out and do as much cool stuff as they can before the final bow. And finally: Booster and Blue Beetle have SO MUCH TO DO WITH CLARK’S PERSONAL GROWTH AS A HERO.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

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The Vampire Diaries – “Klaus”


Renaissance biker chic

There are a bunch of reasons to celebrate this new episode of The Vampire Diaries, especially after last week’s (rare) disappointment.  It primarily features an extended conversation between Elena and Elijah during which many (many) secrets were revealed. Plots were twisted. Relationships started to come undone. Bodies were exchanged. And Damon seemed determined to play this his own way, which could make for some good drama in the last three episodes.

Let’s review the best parts of “Klaus” in a top 10 list, shall we? (spoiler alert—couldn’t avoid revealing major plot points in this list, so read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the episode).

Top 10 Reasons “Klaus” Ruled Me

10) Katherine got drunk and danced around! Also, Damon sort of helped her, which means she owes him. Not a bad marker to hold.

9) Bonnie was nowhere to be seen. (Of course, Awesome Vampire Caroline and Uncle John were also MIA, so there’s bad with the good).

8 ) Flashbacks are back! The costumes are the best parts of the flashback. Did you just love how they managed to put Klaus in a leather jacket that still seemed reasonably period-appropriate?

7) Ric is back—sort of. I think. Or rather, I’m hopeful. Looks like we’re getting more Damon/Ric bromance style banter next week, too. Love. It.

6) Klaus is back—in his own body. And he seems way hotter with shorter hair.

5) Elijah is back! Elijah has grown on me in a way that only Awesome Vampire Caroline rivals. He’s funny, smart, and super focused. Plus, dude doesn’t let anyone F with him.

4) Damon was super pissy all episode. He’s so sexy when all hot and bothered.

3) Jenna knows the truth! About damn time.

2) Damon and Stefan fought a lot. Much though I believe the real love story in this show is the relationship between Stefan and Damon, both characters come alive when in conflict. Makes for an exciting, tense episode.

And number 1? After the jump…

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