So, it turns out I may be slightly addicted to television...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Death of the Theme Song?

I have loved theme songs for as long as I can remember. I'm talking right back to the Muppets and Sesame Street themes. I have tape recorded, bought CD's and downloaded theme songs that I have listened to over and over again. I have started watching some shows based solely on a strong theme song (Charmed and My So Called Life immediately come to mind.)

I have sung along to Cheers, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, WKRP, and Fraggle Rock. I've been spooked by The X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries. I've danced to the Cosby Show and rocked out to Veronica Mars (original theme from seasons 1&2 only). The music from ER, The Unit and Everwood let me know it was going to be a good night.

But it's not just the music - it's the montage that I love too. How the characters are introduced, how the show is portrayed. It's like the cover of a book. It's the 20sec intro that tells me what I'm in for, relives the best moments of the show, and sets the tone for what is to come.

But this year, as I've been watching TV I've noticed something's missing. Then it hit me. The theme song. And I don't like it one bit. Glee, the Good Wife, Vampire Diaries all have no theme whatsoever. 90210 has been shortened. Even Little Mosque on the Prairie has gone through a change in music (though at least they kept an opening montage.) I haven't been this upset since ER cut out its iconic theme song and Veronica Mars slowed down the awesome "We Used to Be Friends" to sad, pathetic slowness.

I understand the show's rationale - skip the theme and get 1 minute more of show time. At least, that was ER's excuse. Skip the theme and don't have to pay any royalties. Skip the theme and skip paying the editors to put together a montage. Skip the theme and no need to pay those editors again when the cast changes.

But skip the theme and skip making your show iconic, or even memorable. Why do we love Cheers so much? Because everybody knows "Where Everybody Knows your Name."


I also have to take a moment to comment on Dexter. Frank Lundy's death was right out of left field and jarred me emotionally in a way I wasn't expecting. I felt like he had been taken to soon. I ached for Deb. Which is exactly how the writers want me to feel, so kudos to a show that doesn't play by the rules. And how much does Jennifer Carpenter deserve an Emmy for her parking lot scene with Dexter where she talks about how broken she is? I bawled. That was one of the best sad scenes I've ever seen on TV. Can't wait to see where the season will end up and not entirely sure who will be left standing. While my gut wrenches at the thought of Rita or Deb or the kids being killed, I'm in for the ride.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I have a Thorne in my side

Okay tv writers - I have a bone to pick with you. Starting with the writers of my beloved Little Mosque on the Prairie. Did the budget cuts at CBC take out the best of you? Because season 4 is not shaping up to be all that funny. And there is one big, tall, reason why.

Rev. Thorne.

Now, I understand that characters have to evolve, that sometimes characters have to be written off, and maybe sometimes an actor leaves a show and has to be replaced by someone new. I get that. But you took my favourite character, the sweet, affable Rev Magee and replaced him with a pretentious, uptight, rude Rev Thorne.

I get that we are not supposed to like Thorne, I'm not stupid. I read the official website which proclaims that the more we hate Thorne the "happier" everybody on the show is because he's supposed to be the villain. But this is a comedy and I like my villains funny. And I'm sorry, Thorne is neither funny nor interesting. And he certainly doesn't add anything to the show. Especially since we already had two uptight, rude and pretentious antagonists to my cute little Imam Amaar: uber-religious Baber and the intolerant radio dj Fred Tupper.

And that's precisely what I don't get about this season on Little Mosque. Every character had their place, and it worked very well. The satire was witty, the humor good and dry and the laughs a dime a dozen. And now, well, do we need 3 men we're not supposed to like? Why?

On top of that, it's like every character went for a lobotomy over the summer and is behaving very much unlike themselves. We've hardly seen the mayor, who was high on horse tranquilizers in her one scene. She's supposed to be obnoxious too, but now she's obnoxious and a druggie? How believable a mayor is she supposed to be? And Fred, well, last I saw him he was riding the back of a scooter of a woman a good 30 years older than him because he was out trolling for ladies. Isn't he supposed to have a thing for Fatima?

And Rayyan. When last season ended she was left standing at the altar and it felt like she might finally, after 3 long seasons, realize that Amaar was the man for her. I really enjoyed last year's storyline where Amaar pined after the blissfully ignorant Rayyan. But it's time to get them together now. However, the writer's are acting like there is zero sexual tension between these two. You could feel how right they were together in every scene last year - they were the Muslim equivalent of Jim and Pam, and this year... Nothing.

And finally, Amaar. Amaar has always been well-intentioned but naive. But Rev. Thorne makes him seem like a total ass. Like a tool that not only isn't the sharpest in the shed, but has been left out in the field to rust. And that's the biggest reason I don't like Thorne. While he's supposed to be the opposite of Amaar, he makes me dislike Amaar. And Amaar is supposed to be our hero, our voice of reason.

That, and I think I only laughed once over the entire 3 episodes so far this season. Once. And even then, it was only a chuckle. The rest of the time you could see the funny coming a mile away, and then, well, it's not funny.

So that got me thinking about others shows that have characters we are supposed to hate. And I determined there really are two kinds of Thornes. There are those we are supposed to hate that actually detract from the show, from the other characters and the viewing experience as a whole. ADA Sonya Paxton from Law & Order SVU came up right away on my detractor list. I don't see how she's added anything to the show, and certainly not to the storyline. I am so glad they just got rid of her - she hardly lasted until episode 4 - what was the point of that?

But then there is Glee's Sue Sylvestor - the Cheerio coach we all love to hate. She is definitely the villainess. She is certainly meant to be the chink in Will's armour, and yet I love her. Her character is hilarious - she is as obnoxious, if not more so, than Rev. Thorne and ADA Paxton combined, but she ADDS something to the show. She furthers the plot, she creates plot twists, and her lines are damn funny. Sue is the perfect example of how a "thorn" can work in a show without making viewers cringe.

I hope the Little Mosque writers wake up to that before it is too late.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Yes, I am Gleeful! And I have broken a cardinal rule - never become attached to a show in its first season. And yet, here I am watching and loving Glee. Not only that, Glee is a FOX show, a network that, if you remember, I told that I was done with after the unjust cancellation of Justice back in 2006. (And, btw, to remind myself of the pain I just finished watching an episode of Justice online that I had missed the first time around and I have to say - the pain is now just as fresh).

However, I am willing to give Glee a chance. If Facebook is any indication, Glee is a huge success. Wednesday nights everybody's statuses seem to have some kind of quote from the show.

I missed the pilot back in May last year, but had heard so much about it that by episode 3 I knew it was time to start downloading episodes. And while I have yet to find the any of the episodes match the pilot, I have to say this show makes me laugh out loud week after week and I actually have started trolling the internet looking for clips on the next week's songs.

Now, I've heard some say this show isn't very positive for women - that the women on the show are portrayed as manipulative, lying, sneaky and selfish. But I'm not so quick to judge, the men after all aren't exactly given the best of light either - oblivious, simplistic, a brick short sometimes. I really don't think this is the show where we're going to find role models. Stop looking and enjoy the show for what it is.

And what it is is a group of great singers and dancers that are taking the piss out of the high school experience. When I found out Lea Michele was cast as Rachel, I knew it would be good. She was amazing in Spring Awakening and her voice is incredible. In fact, I really like the songs - I mean, who isn't still singing Don't Stop Believing? My husband plays it for me while I'm cooking because of how it makes me smile. I find myself singing in the shower and in the office. It's been a long time since a show did that to me - made me...happy.

And Cheerio's coach Sue has the best lines - she is the villainesse I think we all love to hate. This week's episode was no different. But I'd be careful to use her in moderation. There is only so much "I've found people's desire to procreate weak. Me, I don't have the time or the uterus" that one can take before it becomes too crass... But it's not just Jane Lynch's lines, it's her delivery that really makes Sue Sylvester.

And then there's Will. And Emma. And Will's "pregnant" (cough) wife. What a great love triangle. Fare more interesting to me than Rachel and Finn. Speaking of Finn - he's 28. He's almost my age. And he plays a 16yr old. Moreover, he looks like a 16yr old. I need whatever elixir of youth he's been drinking.

So Glee is my new pleasure this year. I hear Fox has give a green light on a full season so we've passed the first test. Let's see how this plays out. Though I can't help but think - once they win nationals, what will there be for next year?


So I hadn't planned on writing this second part, but I just finished watching JAM's wedding and I just couldn't help myself. Probably one of the best wedding episodes TV has ever done. And not just because I married my own version of Jim (I really did - my husband Matt is tall, sweet, has the same goofiness about him and also knew he wanted to marry me the first time he saw me) and I totally teared up whenever Jim talked about Pam because it reminded me of my own wedding.

Besides that it was how Dwight ends up being the ladykiller, how Michael seduces Pam's mom, and BEST OF ALL how Jim's brothers pull the whole "Forever" entrance straight from Youtube. It was art imitating life imitating art at it's finest.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Discovering Dexter

The new season has officially kicked off! And I've managed to pick up a few good shows this year to replace some of my old favourites. Glee has certainly turned my head. Strangely enough so has The Vampire Diaries. But today I'm finally going to write the confession I've been meaning to write all summer. I'm in love with Dexter.

Well, in love with the show anyway.

Over the summer I got kind of bored. I mean, there's only so many times you can watch re-runs of Law & Order... so I started looking for a new series. I had heard very little about Dexter. A couple of years ago a friend of mine made a comment in passing about this show she had started watching where a guy who works for the police is actually a serial killer who murders the bad guys who got away. It was a 1min conversation max, but for some reason that struck me as a pretty interesting premise, so I filed it in the back of my mind.

And this summer I went looking for season 1. I knew that way I'd have at least 3 seasons to watch, so it would get me over the summer and it wouldn't leave me heartbroken after 1 season to find out a network had killed another great show.

My hubby was busy discovering his own show this summer, The Sopranos (something I could never get into. The one episode I watched is where his shrink gets raped in the parking garage and to this day I refuse to go into those stairwells alone, but I digress...) Anyway, so hubby was busy with his own laptop, so I was on my own. He also thought the premise was kind of creepy and didn't really want to explore the dark side of Dexter Morgan.

I loved the premise. I loved Michael C. Hall even more. I was a huge fan of Six Feet Under back in the day and I wondered how Hall would do transitioning into a new role. Often I find TV actors get stuck in a character and never make it out. (John Krasinski for instance, who I love, is still Jim in everything else he does. It makes me sad.) I have to give Hall credit - he is amazing as Dexter. I actually believed he must have been gay to give such a portrayal on Six Feet Under, but turns out he's married to his very female co-star (who also plays his sister on Dexter - something I think must make for weird moments on set.)

Dexer aside, I loved all the other characters too. This is the kind of show that works because the ensemble cast works so well. I know Dexter is the "star", but he wouldn't shine so bright without his little sister Deb, his friend Angel, or his forensics sidekick Masouka. It took me a little longer to warm up to Rita, but by season 2 even she had won me over.

I also love the writing. It has all the elements of my favourite shows - a mystery to solve, some of that cop drama I'm a sucker for, and a touch of biting sarcasm. (Hmmm, I could have just described Veronica Mars. A moment of silence to remember a show killed way too soon.)


Okay, back to the topic at hand. I watched all 3 seasons in the span of about 6 weeks - and only because I was so busy with work I had to take 2 weeks where I couldn't allow myself to even go to my tv streaming website for fear I would spend hours watching episode after episode. Season 2 stands out as the strongest of the 3 seasons for me, but I might be biased because I didn't like the character of Miguel Prado and I didn't feel his friendship with Dexter. Not the way I felt about Rudy, and certainly not the way I felt about Lila. I loved the Lila character. Don't get me wrong, I hated Lila, but I loved the drama and tension she brought with her. I loved how f***ed up she was, and I completely understood how Dexter would have let his guard down with her. When he killed her, it felt good and right and like it was closing a chapter. Miguel Prado felt wrong from the start of the season all the way through. I didn't feel anything when he was killed, except some relief that he wouldn't be on the show anymore.

But season 4 shows promise! From the blogs, I know some people don't like the direction taken with Dexter being a new dad, but I think we're in for a whole new host of plot twists and turns. This takes the show in a new direction - and why not? Life often twists in new directions. Dexter is human after all, some of the show's best moments are the ones that showcase his humanity. He loves, whether he realizes it or not. The best part of season 3 was when he realized he didn't want to die at the hands of the skinner because he wanted to raise his son.

From the season premier, I have to say I loved the spoof on the opening credits the most. Watching my sister in law with her new baby I can say it felt true and funny at the same time. And I love a show that doesn't take itself too seriously but is also confident enough in itself to mock itself. Genius! I'm left with baited breath for tonight's episode - to see what happened to Dexter after he rolled his car - and also because I think we're in for a treat with the Trinity Killer.

What remains to be seen is whether I can get used to LaGuerta banging Batista...