Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SWF Seeks Decent TV Recap Site

I wrote a blog a while ago regarding the demise of the Television Without Pity website. The nice thing is that people are reading it and people are agreeing with me.

Lately, I've had some downtime at work and have been reading old recaps. I've tried to read the new ones but I'm finding them increasingly sloppy and dull. I'm disappointed in the writers I used to enjoy. M. Giant, for example, has been assigned to The Office. This should be a good thing but, unfortunately, he seems a little bored by the show. I've enjoyed his recaps of 24 and Six Feet Under in the past and he's funny. He always had just the right amount of snark to be witty but not enough to seem cruel. However, his recaps of The Office are, frankly, boring. I'm disappointed. One of my favourite things to do at work when I have a break is read about my TV shows. Entertainment Weekly has a pretty decent TV Watch column that recaps shows but like TWOP, it's hit and miss. Their Office recaps leave a lot to be desired, mixing up cutesy with entertaining. The writer, Whitney Pastorak likes to refer to readers with annoying terms like Binder Clips. That gets old really quickly. Also, Whitney also doesn't always seem to watch the same show as the rest of us and her recaps often miss the funniest moments of the episode as well as not finding it funny when it is.

So, I turn to TWOP for a recap instead. Unfortunately, lately, it's a little like reading a synopsis of the show with none of the witty snark I once loved about this site. Yes, I want to know what happened on the episode but I've previously relied on the recap writers to laugh about or be annoyed about the show with us. Where's the clever humour that we used to get?

Speaking of Television About Pity, I think it's time for Jacob to get a better editor. I don't watch Ugly Betty regularly but I like to follow it if I miss it anyway. It's a cute show. Entertainment Weekly has stopped including the show on their TV Watch. I missed an episode and thought I'd turn to TWOP for their recaplet, just to see what I'd missed. I didn't want the full recap, I just wanted to know, in a nutshell, what had happened. Unfortunately, it lead to this recaplet (you might have to click on the URL at the top of the page to get the recaplet in a nutshell to which I'm referring). I've never been a fan of Jacob's recaps, I think he waffles and has pretentions that he's writing great literature. However, he used to be a little better edited so that his soapbox speeches and monologues about being gay weren't so blatant. We get it, Jacob. You're gay. You're proud. How exciting for you. Could we now have a recap in which we don't have to read about it AND in which we can actually understand what you're saying about the show? You want to grandstand, do it on your own blog. Let us read a recap of a TV show on Television Without Pity, ok?

Yes, I'm a little bitter. As I mentioned in my original post, I used to want to write for this show. Part of the reason I thought about doing a TV blog in the first place was to give back from the days I'd loved TWOP. Yet I don't want to copy them or do recaps of my own because it was once an original idea and I don't like to steal ideas like that.

I think my biggest problem with TWOP is that they don't always replace recappers when it's time. Occasionally, a recapper gets burned out and it shows in their writing. The recapper still stays on a show but the readers become subject to venomous and hate-filled posts about a show that really isn't that bad. As I pointed out before, there's a fine line between snark and bitterness. This reluctance to replace recappers has been going on even prior to Bravo's buyout of the site.

The best example is the former recapper known as Pamie. She was a recapper for Gilmore Girls. I've been reading past recaps since I'm rewatching the show and I have to say, she went from being funny to just being tiresome. In the beginning, she loved the show and her recaps were fresh, funny and well-observed. Somewhere around the third or fourth season, her love turned to hate and we readers were subjected to recaps in which she complained she was bored. These recaps became filled with important details from Pamie's life such as what was in her handbag, what music she was putting on her iPod and the inane and dull details of her upcoming wedding. She would give us this information under the guise that the show was too boring to recap.

The thing is like every job, if you hate it that much then leave. Seriously. The culmination of Pamie's loathing came during a recap for a Gilmore Girls episode in which she bitterly informed readers that she'd received a lot of emails that irritated her, that complained about her recaps. She even posted a couple of the emails which, for the most part, were dead-on in their accuracy and were polite and extremely kind. Unfortunately, rather than face the truth about her writing, Pamie launched into a recap that she wrote in two parts- her own embittered, dull and cruel writing and the voice of Stac(e)y, a fictional fangirl who adored the show. The problem was that Stac(e)y was an insult to all of the readers: She spoke in fangirl talk, using acronyms, exclamation points, and text speak. She gushed about the show and provided a thinly veiled cover for Pamie's own bitterness. It was insulting to the readers and rather than provide a snarky and clever retort as I think Pamie intended, it made her look ridiculous and proved that she could not take criticism. She finally 'left' her job a couple of recaps later under the pretense that she was too busy. My opinion is that the editors FINALLY realized it was time for her to move on. They were a little late; Pamie's moderate success as a novelist and screenwriter had allowed her ego to grow to the point where I think they couldn't control her. I could be wrong but read the recaps and you'll see what I mean.

Yet this inability to take criticism is echoed throughout the site, from Jacob's recaps to the forums. For a site that takes pride in mocking the work of other writers and loves the freedom of speech, the forums certainly don't reflect that. Forum posters are strictly bound to rules they must follow in order to be 'permitted' to participate. They can't insult or mock the writers because otherwise they'll be banned. The forums are so heavily moderated that it is impossible to have a good discussion about a show anymore.

I know I said most of this before in my earlier post but I've had a lot of supportive emails from people who've found me and agree with me. While I think the Bravo takeover drained the soul from the site completely, I think it was already in a decline before. The Bravo buyout hasn't done them any favours, it's a mishmash of videos and blogs that are hard to get through. They recently completely irritated me by listing "Love Actually" as one of their worst Christmas movies. "Love Actually" is fantastic. It's funny, poignant and brilliantly poignant. The ensemble cast is smooth and the moment where Andrew Lincoln's character holds the posters up for Kiera Knightly's character to tell her he loves her is one of the sweetiest non-sappy moments in any romantic comedy.

This post is really not to serve any purpose but to rant about the lack of decent TV recaps on the web anymore. If anyone has another site to point me to, I'd greatly appreciate it. I really want to break up with Television Without Pity because it just doesn't fill my compulsion to follow up on my TV shows anymore. I know TV is a vice but it's a vice I love. I love to talk about it, read about it and learn about it. I used to love to read the recaps but that love is fading fast and I don't want to lose it completely.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or complain; I promise not to be passive-agressive and write a post mocking you for it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knowing the Truth About Denny Helps...Just a Little

I cheated. I know why Izzie is seeing Denny on Grey's Anatomy. I'm glad I cheated. I can't say it makes it much better but it helped. A lot.

I read a lot of entertainment news. I try to avoid spoilers unless they're staring me in the face. That happened today. I went on Entertainment Weekly's website to see which movies were opening this weekend and there it was, the Michael Ausiello scoop on why Denny is back on Grey's. If you don't want to know, don't read any further because I'm going to spoil it. But I guarantee, if you do know, it will make it slightly more bearable.

That's what happened for me tonight. According to Ausiello, Izzie has some kind of brain problem that isn't a tumour but, rather, some form of aneurysm that causes her to see visions of Denny when it acts up. Knowing this made the show suddenly more bearable. It doesn't mean I like Izzie because, as I've said before, I don't. I've tried. It's not happening.

But it gives the sudden appearance of Denny a somewhat logical explanation which sometimes I don't need but when it comes to TV shows, sometimes I need those. It doesn't mean I think it was a good idea to bring Jeffrey Dean Morgan back to play Denny yet again. Surely there must be some other show he can go be killed on; he's got quite a history, what with his turns as Dead Hero on Grey's, Weeds, Supernatural and in the movie "P.S., I Love You."

But at least it means that Grey's isn't strolling into CBS's Ghost-Whispery territory. That's something, at least.

I'm not going to change my mind about the way this season is going though. Tonight's episode didn't make me happy. I don't like that there's suddenly a magical vent in Seattle Grace that brings a sudden calm and need for kissing. There's enough places that inspire the need for kissing in that hospital already, we definitely don't need another one. I don't like that Dr. Hunt has now completely gone from being Interesting New Guy Who Might Actually Do Something Other than Make Out with Another Doctor to being New Guy Who's Already Kissing Another Doctor. I don't like that Erica Hahn left Seattle Grace because Callie couldn't completely commit to being gay and yet has been replaced by the ultra-annoying, Sadie. Especially when I can't help but notice that occasionally in an effort to be sexy, Melissa George can look remarkably like a hamster.

I also don't like the new heart surgeon with Aspergers because I think the actress is overdoing the disorder. Aspergers is a very mild form of autism but it is not autism. Asperger's sufferers are usually highly functional. As far as I know, it doesn't make the afflicted person lose all humanity and blurt out inappropriate statistics related to organ donation in front of an obviously suffering family. Yes, the need to concentrate on statistics might be there and that the usual filter that prevents people from put their foot in their mouth is lacking but it doesn't make the person forget how to be human and ignore every obvious clue that the family is not ready to hear the diagnosis, especially in such a cruel and heartless manner. Also, if she was that incapable of understanding humans, how did she make it through med school? I get that she's the best of the best BECAUSE she's so focused on the science and facts of medicine but I doubt a doctor like that would be interacting with patients when it's clearly offensive and rude to the patients. Yes, understanding disabilities and treating those with disabilities no differently to non-disabled people is important but when it comes to causing borderline emotional harm or devastation to a family, I think it's time to get her off the floor. I'm proud of Meredith for kicking her out of the room. I'm actually proud of Meredith for the way she's grown this season, actually, even if she and Derek have almost no screen time anymore.

And as for Lexie and Sloan, well, I went from thinking Lexie was just a complete drip to now thinking she needs to go away. I feel like this season, the writers are not watching the same show that we are. It's painfully obvious that Callie and Sloan are good for one another. They're good at sex, they're good at being friends. That's an obvious pairing. But no, for some reason, the writers keep throwing Lexie at us, even though she's served no purpose whatsoever other than whiny annoyance. They've now forced Sloane and Lexie together. My suspicion is because they think it's a bit naughty and slightly sensational. It is not. It is contrived and forced. There is NO reason that the two would go together other than the fact that it gives yet another reason for Mark and Derek to go back to being foes rather than friends. The renewing of their friendship has been one of the best things on Grey's over the last season.

But apparently, friends are no longer the in-things on the show, anyway. After all, Meredith and Christina are bickering because of a contrived little detail. Last week, Meredith reacted to the fact that Christina knew the interns were being self-mutiliating idiots with a very human reaction: Shock. She had no time to think: "Oooh, must stick to the code. Must protect friend." She merely reacted to the news as anyone would. This has now caused friction in the friendship because Christina feels betrayed. Well, yeah, I'm sure that would happen but in the first season, Meredith stole Christina's surgery because she was sleeping with Derek and yet the two became best friends right afterwards. Christina, usually the cool-headed one, logical and sensible, is not acting like Christina. She's acting like Izzie and I don't like that.

There were moments I did like, moments that are classic Grey's: The scene in which the younger sister has to talk to her brain-dead older sister was classically heartbreaking. The awesomeness of Miranda Bailey never fails to impress. The scene in which the woman realized she could talk again. These are the good parts that make Grey's good. They may not be very realistic but they're good TV. If we could just do away with the pesky doctors and their overblown personal issues, it'd be good again.

I'm ignoring Denny's presence now. It was actually quite easy tonight. I find that if I mentally just ignore the scenes with Denny and Izzie, it makes the show much better. Even though I know why Denny's back, doesn't mean I want to watch Izzie having 'fantastic sex' with him. That's just stupid. We get that Izzie always manages to have "mind-blowing sex". Really. It's not the first time. We get it. She likes sex. Now stop showing us. Now that we know Denny isn't really there makes it even more disturbing. Surely SOMEONE has to notice she thinks she's having sex with a ghost. But, wait, this is Grey's. No one notices anything until the writers thinks it's time.

Which leads me to suggest that maybe, instead of waiting until February to explain Denny's presence, maybe they should do it now. I know I'm not alone in hating the storyline but at least, now, because I know the reason, it's more tolerable. It's already gone on too long. It's time to end it. Now.

So, apparently, I now have a weekly Grey's blog. I'm hoping the show will redeem itself next year. I have a few weeks off before it's back on the air. Maybe with the new year will come a new faith in the writers. Maybe it'll make me like seeing Denny.

But then again, probably not.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So...About "Heroes"...

I blogged about Heroes before. I'm trying so hard to stick with this show because once in a while it does something smart, like cast Seth Green and Breckin Meyer as comic book geeks. I try to pretend I'm not a geek but, frankly, the older I get, the geekier I become. I love Iron Man, I love The Sandman and I enjoy going to Comic-con. That's as close to a confession as you're ever going to get.

So, I keep watching this show. I actually enjoyed the episode a couple of weeks ago in which Hiro spirit-walked or whatever to a year earlier. It was nice to see the show and cast acting like the past year never happened. I think it might have been a metaphor, I'm not sure.

But now, we're back to the present (fortunately NOT to the future, that plot device seems to on hold for now, thankfully). And I'm still slightly baffled. I usually like to let my imagination go and ignore things that defy reality on TV. But now, along with Grey's Ghost Whispery Anatomy, I'm getting really, really fed up with shows that assume we'll go along for the ride even though we know we're being screwed around.

Heroes, for example. I know, I know, it's fantasy. I'm ok with that. I'm not ok with stupid plot devices that defy the conventions of superheroes in a realistic world. They make me ask questions such as:

1)An eclipse that lasts two hours....really? Also, how come none of the Heroes figured out the connection but a comic book geek does it without any cerebral effort?

2) The comic book, 9th Wonders: Last week, I wondered who was mysteriously still drawing it now Isaac Mendez is dead. Then we find out that Isaac apparently published enough issues to cover the events of almost two entire seasons that occured AFTER HE WAS DEAD. Now, if you were a person who could see the future and knew you were gonna die, would you really spend the time until that death drawing comic books? I mean, I know V.C. Andrews has had a lot of new books since "she" died but there's a whole ghost writing thing going on there. What would be cool if Isaac was ghost writing them. I mean, really ghost writing them. I liked Isaac. He was much better to watch paint than Arthur Petrelli.

3) Why is Hiro still around? Really? Why couldn't Arthur eat his powers the way he did to Peter? He did that head-sucking thing, couldn't he just remove the powers completely? Why, oh why, have we been reduced to watching Hiro doing the pee-pee dance and eating chicken and waffles?
And how come all it takes for Hiro to time travel is to screw up his face and he can do it? He did that for hours in the first episode of the show and nothing happens. Now, Ando tells him that's all he has to do and YATTA!: Hiro time travels?

4) What happened to Hayden Panettiere's acting? I think she used to be fairly good. Now she's painful. That scene last week with Noah in which she played Buffy to Noah's Giles was painful. We get it, she's a tough girl. She's angry at Noah but, dude, seriously? He's TRYING TO STOP THE BAD MEN. Claire ran away and ended up almost being puppet-mastered in her attempts and she IS a Hero. Noah has no abilities and managed to slice Sylar's throat with his sheer Noah-ness. Noah would work well with Jack Bauer.

5) Why is Mohinder still on the show? He's always been annoying. He was interesting when he had to observe the Heroes while remaining merely human. Now he's gone all scaley and buggy, he's vile. And why is he pining after Maya? Seriously, she's gone. We were HAPPY when she went away. Please, please, Mohinder, go away and do NOT make us watch any more Maya story lines.

6) Matt Parkman: Greg Grunberg, I liked you on Alias. I liked you as Dead Pilot on "Lost". I even liked you on Felicity. But please, please, please, either grow a personality or leave. I liked the turtle. I liked that you even said "high five, turtle" because you're cute and funny and sweet. But your character is useless. Your reaction to Daphne's crutches was just plain dumb. "What are those for" or whatever it was you actually said? Really? How were you ever a cop? And why do you look like you have something in your ear whenever you try to read someone's mind?

7) Sylar: Are you good or bad? Because I can't tell. I think that might be the point but it'd be better if it wasn't in five minute increments. Also, are you SO dumb you believed Arthur Petrelli and his attempts to manipulate you? Go back to Noah- you two made an awesome team. I hope you did kill Elle though. I like Veronica Mars but I just watched "Pulse" and I'm beginning to question Kristen Bell's script choosing abilities. Granted, this could have been a good role and she does ok with it but, well, the role is annoying. She was much more interesting in her first episode when she appeared to be unbalanced and slightly crazy. Now she's just annoying.

9) How come the Haitian's presence prevents the Heroes powers from working and yet Nathan was able to use his Super Flying Ability to push the Haitian's evil brother into a car? Also, if the Haitian hadn't found Nathan and Peter in the jungle last week, how were they planning on finding him? Were they going to walk around Haiti and say "We're looking for The Haitian"? Uh, yeah, I would like to have known how that would have gone.

10) Where's Mr. Muggles? Just wondering. I liked him.

I could go on for hours. Obviously, the show is not making me happy. I'd like some feedback on my questions. I'm sure I'm just being obtuse and not getting the deepness that I'm supposed to. However, I find myself watching the show and being very irritated during and afterwards. This is not good. I watch it right after Prison Break which, for all it's absurdity, is still terribly fun and entertaining. That's way more than I can say about Heroes, right now.