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Monday, April 25, 2011

About: Supernatural "Frontierland"

Every season Supernatural has a handful of episodes so outside the box that the promos have me worrying that they're jumping the proverbial shark. This season alone we've had Clap Your Hands if You Believe , The French Mistake and now Frontierland. But when Supernatural decides to go outside the box, it's rarely a swing and a miss. Needless to say I was very happy with Frontierland. In fact, I've decided that cowboy hats need to come back in fashion. It really is a good look.

But as great as the hats were, they were just one of the many highlights of Frontierland. We got to meet Samuel Colt in the flesh only to find that he, like most hunters, feels burdened by the job. I couldn't help but notice what a disappointment this was for Sam. At the time I was actually a little surprised that he didn't give Colt a grander speech about his responsibility as a hunter. But in thinking more about it I realized that Sam has seen and felt the burden of this responsibility first hand. Even though he tried to tell Colt that there is no getting out I doubt he really blamed him for trying. I wonder if Sam will ever tell Dean about Colt's attempt to "retire"? Somewhere inside I still think Dean holds on to the dream that hunting and happiness can go hand in hand even if it hasn't worked for him yet. And since Colt is something of a superhero to Dean, his unhappiness has the potential to crush that dream.

 It's been a while since we've heard anything about the Mother of All. I was starting to wonder why they even bothered with her storyline. We already have so much going on this season, what with Sam getting de-souled and re-souled, Grandpa Samuel rising from the dead and dying again and all that purgatory business not to mention whatever Cas has going on in Heaven.  There really hasn't been much time devoted to the MOA story line. And I can't say we learned much more about her in Frontierland other than the fact that the ashes of a phoenix are her equivalent of kryptonite. I wonder how much damage the bottle of ashes Colt sent will do? i find it hard to believe that that bottle of ashes will be all they'll need to fight her but the way the episode ended left us with the impression that they're planning to go after her.I'll be curious to hear they're plan.

My fears were confirmed. It seems that Cas has a dirty little secret. We don't yet know what it is, but whatever he's hiding is bad enough that he was almost killed for it. It has to be something to do with how he's acquiring souls, right? I mean, this whole season has revolved around souls; their power, their worth, their influence. And it has been made fairly clear that souls are what Castiel requires to win this war. He un-sunk the Titanic to acquire a few more. Maybe he's been sneaking around, un-doing other disasters and acquiring souls? Is it possible that that's it? That's the reason Rachel tried to kill him? I think that's a little bit of wishful thinking on my part. Cas is obviously hiding something much bigger and I wonder how inadvertently involved the Winchesters have been. They are in no position to lose another ally and it would be heartbreaking if Cas betrayed them in any way.

I mentioned last week that I was wondering what kind of power was gained from the acquisition of souls. I think we know for sure now that souls equal physical power. Just touching Bobby's gave Castiel the juice to drag Sam and Dean back to the present. Physical power is a good thing to have, especially when you're fighting a war and it would explain why Castiel is so desperately seeking more souls as the war drags on. But we also learned just how dangerous it is to touch the human soul. This makes me worry more about what Castiel seems to be hiding. Is he putting innocent lives in danger for what he sees as the greater good?

There were so many things that Frontierland did right. It would be easy to take these seemingly light-hearted episodes and create what is nothing more than a fun hour of TV, but that would do nothing to propel the story forward. Instead, Supernatural took a quirky concept and used it as a means to advance the plot and set up the groundwork for the remainder of the season. And in true Supernatural fashion, they achieved this feat with no lack of humor. So I would be remiss to talk about this episode without mentioning as many funny moments and I can remember. I'm sure I'll miss some, but I know you guys will help me remember them!

*First of all, the title card. Genius. I think I've seen every episode of Bonanza there is and I loved the shout out to that classic.

*Dean: "We'll Star Trek IV this bitch." Is it sad that I knew that reference before Dean explained it?

* Cas: "Is it customary to wear a blanket?"

*Marshall Clint Eastwood and Walker Texas Ranger. Hilarious.

*Sam riding a horse was almost painful to watch.

*Dean: "I'm a posse magnet. I mean, I love posse. I'm gonna make that a t-shirt."

*I loved that Colt referred to Sam as "a giant from the future with some magic brick".

*Finch: "So you're a hunter?"
 Dean: "Slash Sheriff"

*Bobby's shout out to Deadwood was great. I was actually wondering if that was going to come up.

*Dean: "Yippe ki-yay mother f..." That's a little Die Hard shout out for those of you who didn't catch it. I'm not much of a fan, but I definitely laughed at Dean saying it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

About: Modern Family "Someone to Watch over Lily"

Parenting is hard. Not that I have any personal experience on the matter, but from what I've seen it's no picnic. Perhaps the only thing harder than parenting is finding someone capable of taking over for you if need be. That sounds like one big, messy, awkward situation waiting to happen. And the perfect formula for a comedy. 

For Cam and Mitchell, the options aren't exactly endless. They could choose Claire and Phil, but the scene they walked in on looked like something out of a WWII movie. I loved watching them replace Luke's juggling knives with juggling fruit. Or they could choose Jay and Gloria. Jay is cranky and pushy and Gloria just might kill both of them for the chance to be Lily's mom. "Lily, when something horrible happens you're going to be all mine!" And with a track record like Gloria's I wouldn't put it past her. I believe we all remember the rat shovel.

Oh Claire, why do you think you can control every single thing? I'll be the first to admit that Phil and Luke share a certain quality that some people everyone may find annoying. But there are so many great things that come as a direct result of that one "flaw". That's something that I think Claire came to realize in the end. I loved Claire and Phil's fight in the parking garage. "Ok, ok. The adults are the big ones, right?". But in true Phil fashion, his speech saved the day. "You know why else he's [Luke] going to be ok? Because somewhere out there is a worried little girl making lists and labeling bins and he's gonna find her." I've said this before, but I love the way emotional scenes are handled in Modern Family. It's never over the top. I never find myself  thinking "No one would EVER say that" like I do in so many other shows.

Speaking of great speeches, I have to give some props to Jay. (Do people still say "give props"?) He knew exactly what NOT to say to Manny and it made all the difference. Manny's fear is one that most people can relate to. Who hasn't at one point or another been uncomfortable in a shower or locker room situation? And who hasn't heard the same tired speech about facing your insecurities with confidence? It's a regular sit-com staple. But in this case, Jay took the ever-effective reversed psychology route. In the end though, if Manny had decided against going, I have every confidence that Jay would have kept his word without a fuss. It's easy to forget what a good father Jay is until he surprises you with these moments of compassion. Good stuff.

And if this episode wasn't already heart-warming enough we've also got Alex and Haley bonding over some good old fashion breaking and entering with a side of vandalism. Now how is it that kids are always able to break into their high schools in these shows? I seem to remember the doors to my high school being chained up at night. Yes, with actual chains. There was no getting in there after hours, and certainly no getting out since all the hallways were gated. So forgive me if I find that part a little unbelievable. Luckily, it didn't take anything away from the bonding. I still found that believable.

As usual, there are some great lines I have to mention

* Cam: "Wait, wait. I think I hear future Lily sending us a message from her stripper pole. Thanks gay dead dads, this dance is for you"

*Luke: "She's like the best doctor ever. A couple of puzzles, no shots and I didn't even have to take my pants off. I found that one out a little late."

*Luke: "One time she gave me a woody. She remembered he's my favorite character from Toy Story."

*Cam: "You know I love Jay, and they're still in the mix but I just don't know about him raising a child.
Mitchell: "Well Cam, he raised me."
Cam: "Well, now you've put me in an awkward position."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

About: Traffic Light "Bonebag"

Bonebag. Elegant wordplay indeed. You see it's a combination of two words. Bonehead + douchebag = Bonebag. Get it? As simple as it is, I think it's a keeper. So if you took anything from this week's Traffic Light, take that little nugget right there. Bonebag.

But there were a lot of other great aspects from this week's episode as well. Overall I was very happy with the way the storylines intertwined. These ensemble shows seem to work best when they find a way to include everyone in a larger plot. Take Modern Family for example, the best episodes happen when the whole family gets together for dinner or a birthday party. At the beginning of  "Bonebag", we had what looked like three separate storylines. 1. Mike and Lisa are in need of alone time so Mike books a hotel room. 2. Adam and Callie babysit Tommy and 3. Ethan decides he's ready for a real commitment (What happened to the girl with the drawer last week?). But these plots intertwined themselves pretty quickly. They owe it all to Callie's genius creation, bonebag. It was the overarching theme that brought the whole episode together. Well, that and the whole boner thing.

Now there were a couple things I wasn't crazy about. They weren't deal breakers, just unnecessary and kind of cliche.  Why do shows feel the need to do that whole flash forward thing? It works well occasionally, but most of the time it's just an excuse for lazy writing. And in the case of "Bonebag" it just really didn't work. What would have happened if we didn't see the three of them with broken noses? Would it have changed anything about the way we viewed the episode? Personally, I don't think it added anything to the plot besides giving away the punch line. I also really didn't care for Ethan's date in the park with his "soulmate". There was just way more cheese than I could handle and it just wasn't funny. Needless to say, I was happy to see her go at the end of the episode. Granted, the way she left was a comedy cliche in itself.

I really liked what we saw of Mike and Lisa's relationship this week. We've known them as the couple with the kid for the majority of the series and it was really great to see them on their own. Their couples massage was very entertaining, especially the awkward phrases coming out of the male masseuse's mouth. And there was some serious tension between the two masseuses that made the scenes even more entertaining.

I think that's all I've got for this episode. Feel free to comment with any insight or aspects you thought were overlooked. There's nothing I love more than talking about a good show! But I cannot leave without mentioning a few funny things.

*Adam: "I'm 6'5". I'm not afraid to mix it up." (I seem to remember Chandler Bing using that exact phrase to describe something veeeeery different.)

*I love how they referred to Tommy's "cake stand".

*Callie: "Should we put him in the bath?"
Adam: "No, I don't want to take him to the next level."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

About: Supernatural "My Heart Will Go On"

What would have happened if the Titanic never sank? Ellen and Jo would still be alive, Bobby would be happily married to Ellen and the boys would be driving a Mustang. The last part, I could do without but the rest of it sounds pretty great, doesn't it? If there's one thing we've learned from Supernatural, it's that if you mess with fate there are serious consequences. Dean learned in his day as Death that one twist of fate is all it takes to set off a chain reaction. So you can only imagine what saving thousands of people from a sinking boat would do.

At the beginning of the episode, I found myself wondering what the difference was between Death and Fate. Both act on higher orders to end the lives of those whose time is up. Maybe Fate doesn't actually kill anyone but she does change their course of action resulting in death. The two seem pretty similar to me. But there was one striking difference and that was that Fate seemed to enjoy her job. She seemed to thrive on the power of it. Right before she tried to fry Sam and Dean, she even cracked a smile. Death, on the other hand didn't seem so enthused by his task. His job seemed to burden him which is why he was so willing to let Dean take over for the day. Of the two, who would have thought that Death would come off looking like the good guy? the similarities between Death and Fate had me wondering if they ever cross paths. It seems like they'd have to. I'm guessing we'll see Fate again soon and I wouldn't be surprised if Death isn't lurking around somewhere close by.

We now know a little bit more about what Cas has been up to this year. He's collecting souls for his army. We've learned about the value of souls this season but I still don't feel like I know what what that value means. Ok, they're worth a lot. A lot of what? It's not money, unless there's some divine currency I'm not aware of. It's got to be power, but what kind? Is it just the sheer number of people fighting or is there more to it than that? I hope there's more, and I hope we get to that soon because the end of the season is rapidly approaching and there are still a lot of pieces that need shifting if we're going to get that great season finale domino effect.

Castiel's ultimate decision to re-sink the Titanic said a lot about his relationship with the Winchesters. His army must have taken a big hit losing those souls but he made it clear that Sam and Dean were more important. I'd be lying if I said that didn't warm my heart. I was more than a little curious why Castiel decided to send Balthazar back for the Titanic in the first place. He knows better than most people what happens when you alter history. So I was happy to hear him explain what he's learned from the boys about making your own destiny and choosing freedom. It's a far cry from the Cas we used to know.

So Fate has it out for Sam and Dean, who doesn't these days? The boys have gotten themselves on the bad side of  just about everyone. Angels and demons are after them not to mention the Mother of All. Now Fate and possibly her sisters would like to add themselves to the Winchester's growing list of enemies, as if they need more. I am very curious to meet these sisters of Fate. I'm purposely avoiding googling just who these sisters might be. I like the element of surprise too much to ruin it for myself and I'm not familiar enough with the mythology to know offhand. But I'll be interested to see who they are and what they think of Sam and Dean. It is understandable that Fate would dislike the Winchesters. They altered pretty much everything by skipping over the Apocalypse and now she has no real significance so she wields her power just for kicks. At least that's how it looks to me.

I'm so glad this hellatus is over. It seems to me that a lot is going to happen in these next few episodes before the season finale. There are crucial pieces missing in this Season 6 puzzle and I can't wait to figure out what they are. This season has felt a bit segmented with multiple pieces rather than one over-arching storyline. Still I can't help but think that these segments are all connected by a common thread.

There were some really funny parts that I have to mention.

* I.P. Freely - I felt like a 12 year old boy laughing at that.

*I love that Balthazar claimed he saved the Titanic to avoid the movie and song. I have to admit that I liked both.

* Dean: "Rule one, no Kutcher references."

*Balthazar: "You've got me confused with another angel. The one in the dirty trench coat who's in love with you."

* Watching Sam and Dean tempt fate was hilarious. Especially Sam's face right before he walked through the fire jugglers. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

About: Traffic Light "Best Man"

This weeks episode of Traffic Light gave us a closer look into Adam and Mike's relationship. Adam has gained the reputation of  "party extinguisher" after ruining Mike's bachelor party years ago. Why not ask the Croatian stripper if she was effected by the genocide? I mean, it's a valid question. Something about this instance and Adam's general personality makes me think this probably wasn't an isolated incident. So when he's given the opportunity to throw another bachelor party as "research for an article", aka Kev has no weekend plans, Adam decides to use this as a means to redeem himself. Was I the only one who never realized that Mike and Adam were best friends? I mean, in retrospect it seems fairly obvious but I think this is the first time they have come out and said it. Up until this episode it seemed like they were the three musketeers and now they're Chandler and Joey....and Ross.

So Mike had a secret second bachelor party? That's cold. Although I can't really blame him for not wanting to invite Adam after what happened with the other party. I was going to be disappointed if Adam forgave Mike too quickly for this offense. I thought it would feel like a cop out but after Mike's heartfelt speech about why he chose Adam as his best man I found myself forgiving Mike along with him.

I was really happy to see Lisa and Callie spending time together outside of the group. I think this was the first time they've had a story that didn't involve one of the three guys. That's exactly what I've been hoping would happen. If they expect us to believe that Callie and Lisa are friends we're going to have to see them together more often. Adam Goldberg was funny as Reggie. I have to be honest though, at first I didn't catch on to the joke. A little slow on the uptake, I guess. But once I got it I liked it and I wanted to rewind and hear the ones I missed. I'm not surprised that I didn't catch on, it took me more time than I'd like to admit to catch on to the 'Sofa King' and 'Cork Soaker' skits on SNL. So I'm wondering if I was the only one that needed the explainer they threw in?

So Ethan is settling down. How long do we think that's going to last? I think it's far too early in the series to tie the "eternal bachelor" down. Right now his lack of commitment is one of the only things we know about him. I think we need to know a little more about Ethan before we take that away.

If there was one thing I didn't like about this episode it was the weird storyline with Tad the convenience store guy. Did I miss him in a previous episode? I felt like we were supposed to know who he was already, but I had no idea. I just didn't like the character. I'm not sure if he was written poorly or if the actor's delivery was off but he felt like a lesser version of a character I've seen before. Did anyone else feel that way?

Other than Tad, I really enjoyed this episode of Traffic Light. There are a couple things I have to mention:

*I loved the shout-out to The Little Rascals.
"The Little Rascals = best bachelor party ever.

*Kev is just hilarious. 
"I've got night-sweats,  I can't stop crying and my teeth are always bloody."

* Pretty much everything Reggie said. I'm a sucker for a good pun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

About: Ratings and How They Work

Ratings can be extremely confusing to pick apart. I am constantly reminding myself of what all the little numbers mean in the grand scheme of things. So I thought I'd take a minute to break it down into something easily digestible. Now I'm no expert so this is a very basic overview. Feel free to comment with any additional information.  I'll use an example of ratings for a re-run of "Supernatural" aired on April 8, 2011.

1.52 million viewers, #12; adults 18-49: 0.6, #T11

Here's what each number signifies:

The total viewers represented in millions = 1.52
Rank (for the night) = #12
adults 18-49 rating = 0.6
adults 18-49 rank (for the night) = tied for #11

You'll see that the information is fairly straightforward. 1.52 million people watched that night's episode of "Supernatural" live or on their DVRs before 3:00 AM ET. Among viewers ages 18-49 (key demographic), it drew a 0.6 rating, meaning 0.6% of viewers in that age group watched the episode live or on their DVRs before 3:00 AM ET.

You'll often see viewership represented in a format that looks like this 9.2/15.

Rating = 9.2
Share = 15

A rating of 9.2 means that 9.2% of all television equipped households were tuned into that particular channel at any given moment during the broadcast.

A share of 15 means that 15% of households watching TV tuned in during the time slot.

The next day ratings you'll see the day after the show airs reflect viewership through 3:00 AM ET that night. This includes DVR viewership. But you may have noticed that numbers are adjusted later in the week. It's important to remember that ratings are tracked as a means to sell advertising slots, not to tell us how popular a show is. The Advertisements are sold on what is called a "C3" basis which means that all viewers within three days of the broadcast are counted. That includes those who watch using a DVR service.

Make sense? It's a really interesting process but I pity the fool who has to crunch all those numbers!