Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—Is “The Following” Worth Following?

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing these next few months, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do.  We had so much fun last week posting a dual review, we’ve decided to do it again—we’re reviewing the same show!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching Fox’s new primetime serial drama, The Following?

In The Following, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon, um… from Footloose) must track down serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy from Rome)—again.  He first reaches out to Carroll’s ex-wife, a woman Hardy slept with, and then he informs a former witness and surviving victim of Carroll’s crimes that her nightmare has escaped prison and is more than likely headed her direction.

There’s only one problem; like most serial killers, Carroll has fans now… people who are willing to do anything to help him succeed.

It takes very little to pique my interest when a new pilot premieres on television; I’ll watch pretty much anything.  But there are a few things that instantly attract me to a new show: the concept, the actors and actresses, and the attention to detail, particularly the music.  The Following had me at “hello” if that’s even possible for a TV program.

Agent Hardy is damaged… but no one knows Carroll as well as he does.

First, the serial drama follows the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy.  The idea of a former FBI agent with issues working to track down a demented killer he once captured is right up my alley.  Next, the series stars, as already mentioned, Hollywood great Kevin Bacon.  I can’t even remember the last time Mr. Bacon starred on a TV series, if he ever has, which tells me the storyline really captured his attention as well.  And third, the pilot episode began with Marilyn Manson’s rendition of “Sweet Dreams.”  The musical introduction of this song grabs me every time… and the lyrics fit perfectly with the Carroll/Hardy scene at the end of the pilot.

So, is The Following worth following?

For me, the answer is an astounding yes!  Although I usually prefer mysteries and whodunits, the premise of not only the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy, but also the concept that Carroll’s crazies, or followers, will do absolutely anything and everything to convey Carroll’s messages is quite unique to television—and frightening, considering there are people in our world who worship some of the worst criminals for all the wrong reasons.

Carroll even looks crazy…

Viewers are immediately taken into the mind and history of the two main characters.  The protagonist, Hardy, is now a retired FBI agent, who is also a recovering alcoholic and a man fighting to stay healthy (he has a bad heart).  And the antagonist, Carroll, who’s not only a murderer, worked previously as a literature professor obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe.

“Carroll was obsessed with the Romantic Period… in particular, his hero, Edgar Allan Poe.  And like Poe, he believed in the insanity of art, that it had to be felt.  He didn’t just eviscerate fourteen female students, he was making art.  He cut out his victims’ eyes as a nod to his favorite works of Poe: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat.’ See, Poe believed the eyes are our identity, windows to our soul.  To classify him (Carroll) as a picarist would be too simplistic.” ~ Hardy about Carroll to a group of FBI agents

We know immediately that Carroll has escaped prison and Hardy is responsible for locking him away.  But how did Hardy catch Carroll in the first place?  The Following uses a series of flashbacks to tell the backstory of these two characters, and probably the most fascinating to me was the fact Hardy used Carroll’s wife (Claire, played  by Natalie Zea from Justified and Californication), who also happens to be a professor, as an expert during his case.  Hardy visited her on multiple occasions for help and she unknowingly led him in the direction of her husband.  Clearly, this gives Carroll reason to haunt and torture both Hardy and Claire… and I’m sure the fact that the two shared a romantic connection doesn’t help either.

The agents react to one of the gruesome scenes left behind by one of Carroll’s followers…

The Following’s supporting cast is filled with familiar faces: Maggie Grace (the Taken movies) as Sarah, one of Carroll’s survivors; Shawn Ashmore (the X-Men movies) as FBI agent Weston; and Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz) as FBI agent Mason.  And I must confess, I thought the actor playing agent Weston was also the actor who plays Jinks on Warehouse 13, but it turns out it’s not—it’s his twin brother!  Just a tad bit of trivia… but I digress.

Watching The Following is similar to enjoying a major motion picture thriller.  It’s intense, suspenseful, somewhat dark, and it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with an occasional reason to jump out of their skin.  Toss in the Edgar Allan Poe references, who might just be my favorite poet, and I can’t help but award the new Fox serial drama with the GTV rating.  Fox has themselves a groundbreaking television series, appropriate for viewing after dark with a perfectly grilled bone-in filet, steaming broccoli, and a glass of fine red wine.

Just one of the many Edgar Allan Poe references… and yes, that’s written in blood.

Now, before we go, Amber and I thought we’d play our own version of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  For fun.  Well, actually because our great friend Jen Kirchner suggested we do so.  Anyway, the popular game challenges people to find the shortest path between themselves, or an arbitrary actor, and the Hollywood star.  So, here goes…

When I was younger, I worked at a country club in my hometown, where one of the members happened to be “Rooster” McConaughey, brother of Matthew McConaughey.  During a golf tournament one summer, I had the pleasure of not only serving the southern hottie with ice-cold beverages, but I also shared a brief conversation that included his ever-so-famous “Alright, Alright, Alright.”  No joke.  Anyway, back in 1996, Matthew worked on a John Grisham adaptation (A Time to Kill) with Kiefer Sutherland, who worked with Mr. Bacon in 1992 on the film A Few Good Men.

And that’s my “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  I’m only three degrees away… whatever that means. 🙂

What do you think?  Have you watched The Following?  I’d love to hear from you!  And if you’d like to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” try this fun link: http://oracleofbacon.org/ and please share your results in the comments!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see what she thinks about the new Fox “cat and mouse” TV series.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes in our television viewing pleasure… if our dual reviews last week didn’t convince everyone.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Advertisements

American Horror Story: Asylum—Where Crazy Stuff Happens

I made no secret of the fact that I loved the first season of American Horror Story.  The creators and writers produced groundbreaking TV; every episode was filled with eerie, spooky, and creepy storylines with twists and turns week in and week out.  No one was safe, not even the main characters played by major Hollywood actors and actresses.  And the ending?  Well, it wrapped up the Murder House storyline perfectly for the epic first year.

The news of the second season pickup thrilled me; even though the original story wrapped, the continuation of the series, Murder House included, had endless possibilities: fresh new faces with new Murder House residents—new owners would undoubtedly be haunted by the past and would uncover new secrets not yet brought to light in the first season; the ghosts—we all learned that even when dead, no one leaves the Murder House; and heck, even the same characters from season one technically could have continued in one way or another—not everyone died, and even those that did had room to continue with a little creativity.

But Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took season two in an entirely different direction.  Together, they created American Horror Story: Asylum.

Oh, the torture! It was almost as painful to watch as it was to imagine for the character strapped to the table!

The series kept a few of our favorite leads from the first year (Jessica Lange, Evan Peters) and brought back a few of the supporting cast (Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, and Zachary Quinto) as well.  But no one returning for season two played the same character—Constance (Lange), Tate (Peters), Moira (Conroy), Nora (Rabe), Billie Dean (Paulson), and Chad (Quinto) were gone; instead, we had Sister Jude (Lange), Kit (Peters), The Angel of Death (Conroy), Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe), Lana (Paulson), and Dr. Oliver Thredson (Quinto).

Oh, Sister!

New characters were also introduced in season two with well-known actors and actresses accepting the roles (Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Levine, and Mark Consuelos to just name a few).

But not only did the characters change, the story was completely different.  Instead of the Murder House, we had Briarcliff—the mental hospital/insane asylum—where again, it seems no one ever really escapes.  Unlike the first season, which took place in the present, season two takes place in the 1960s for the most part.  Instead of the theme of infidelity like in season one, season two focuses largely on themes/things that could have happened, have happened and were rumored to have happened, and might possibly happen again in the future, making it even creepier than season one… if that’s at all possible.

In lieu of the creepy and spooky, the stories were primarily dark, twisted, and extremely bothersome… bordering on disgusting.   Perhaps one of the reasons season two was so gripping was because of the controversial storylines: aliens, demonic possession, abuse at the hands of medical professionals and the Catholic Church, the inhumane treatment of those locked away in the mental hospital/insane asylum… all simply because those in charge could get away with it.  As mentioned before, all of these things could have happened in real life, have happened, and will quite possibly happen again in the future.  That’s why American Horror Story: Asylum was scary—different from the purely suspenseful themes in the first year.

“If you look in the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back at you.”  ~ Sister Jude to Lana

One’s worst nightmare… being locked up against one’s own will and experiencing a horrible torture with no end in site. Creepy, right?

For me, I enjoyed the first year more than the second…  as far as the story is concerned, anyway.  The acting and characters?  They were still just as impressive.  Once again, Jessica Lange and Even Peters carried the show with help from American Horror Story alumni Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto.  I watched every single week just for the cast.  Now, I’m not saying season two was bad, just different and not as good in my opinion.  In keeping with the first year, the unique storytelling, twists, and revelations of Asylum were simply genius and still unlike anything else on TV today.

For the most part, there was one central theme/mystery in AHS: Asylum—Bloody Face.  In the ‘60s, a man murdered and skinned women.  One young man was arrested for the crimes and sentenced to Briarcliff, but he never wavered and always declared his innocence.  Was he Bloody Face?  Of course not; that would have been too easy.  The identity of the real Bloody Face was a twist all its own.  But that’s all I will say—no spoilers here.

I will say this though: I loved how almost every single actor/actress from season one, if not cast as a major or supporting character in two, was at least cast in a recurring role or cameo appearance in Asylum.  Almost everyone… Connie Britton didn’t appear once, and that was a bummer, but understandable considering her new hit on ABC (Nashville).  And just when I was beginning to think Dylan McDermott wouldn’t make an appearance either, he did.  And WHAT a role he played!

Oh, Johnny. Johnny. Johnny. Johnny.

Like its predecessor, American Horror Story: Asylum closed just as nicely as the first… perhaps even better.  Every story was wrapped up in a big red bow with no questions or cliffhangers left dangling.  We know a season three has already been announced, leaving us with just one question: what in the world can we look forward to next year?

What do you think?  Did you watch American Horror Story: Asylum?  Did you prefer season one or season two?  I’d love to hear from you!

Lisette Brodey on Writing and Hollywood

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Lisette Brodey on Twitter last year.  Whoever says social media is a waste of time, obviously hasn’t been hanging in the right hashtags and groups…

LisetteBrodeyHeadshot
Author and Actress Lisette Brodey

Lisette is like a ray of sunshine.  She always sends the sweetest notes and makes me smile.  Not only do I enjoy chatting with her about her writing, but I also love hearing all about her recent adventures in Hollywood.  That’s right—I said Hollywood.

Originally from Philadelphia, Lisette moved to New York City where she studied drama.  Ten years later, she moved to Los Angeles where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City.  Back in Philadelphia for several years, Lisette worked as a freelance writer, with clients both in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and other cities.  In 2010, she finally moved back to Los Angeles permanently.  She has freelanced for the entertainment industry and published three books: Crooked Moon, a story about childhood best friends whose lives come crashing back together after twenty-three years apart; Squalor, New Mexico, a coming-of-age story shrouded in a family mystery; and Molly Hacker is Too Picky!, a romantic comedy.

Before we jump into the interview, check out Lisette’s blurb for her romantic comedy, Molly Hacker is Too Picky!.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!:

At thirty-two, newspaper reporter Molly Hacker vows to never attend another wedding until she has had her own. And that’s a problem because Molly’s younger sister, Hannah, is going to be married in one year. Armed with snark, wit, and fabulous good looks, “Picky Molly Hacker is Too Picky! by Lisette BrodeyMolly” embarks on a quest to find Mr. Right in her hometown.

Things get complicated fast. In no time at all, Molly has four “men of interest” and the memories of a lost love to send her overanalytic, befuddled mind into serious overdrive. Determined not to let her “helpful” girlfriends help her right out of another relationship, Molly tries to keep mum on the state of her love life. Her BFF male coworker, Randy, becomes her closest confidant as he stumbles over romantic issues with his new Mr. Right, Kyle. Meanwhile, Molly’s gal pals aren’t too happy about being left out of the loop.

Tweaking Molly’s last nerve is the town’s most visible socialite, Naomi Hall-Benchley, who, for self-serving reasons, is hell-bent on setting up “Picky Molly Hacker,” and she doesn’t care who she has to manipulate or hurt to do it. Just how far will she go?

“Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!” takes the reader on a yearlong romp through Molly’s mind and a joyride through her life. Her dating life, town secrets, a group of quirky, crazy characters, and Naomi’s machinations collide head-on at a holiday gala that will change the social landscape of her hometown, Swansea, forever. As the New Year rolls in, Molly gets earth-shattering news. Can she go on? Will life ever return to abnormal again?

*****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

When I was a little girl, even a teenager, I dreamed of being an actress. But that didn’t take away from my love for writing.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I write character-driven, multilayered novels, so I’d have to say that people are my number one inspiration. I usually find a character and develop a story around him or her, but sometimes it is the other way around.

Knowing that I’m a writer, people often say to me, “I’ve got a great story for you.” It’s usually a great story for them, not for me. We all have to write about what we feel passionate about in our own lives, not someone else’s.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

I love Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many writers of the classics. These days, however, I mostly read novels by my fellow indie authors.

Charles Dickens…  Great Expectations is one of my all-time favorites. 

My Charles Dickens Complete Works with my other favorite book, Football Sweetheart.
My Charles Dickens Collection standing on my other favorite book, Football Sweetheart.

The cover art for Molly Hacker is Too Picky! is adorable.  Did you design it yourself?

No. The cover was created by artist Megan Hansen. I gave her a great deal of information about the character of Molly, and she worked with me to develop her visually.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Molly and why?

I didn’t have anybody in mind when I wrote the character, but I often do picture someone famous when I’m writing. Doing so helps to develop a character in the initial stages.

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Actually, I’m thinking about you, Tiffany!

Hahaha, Lisette.  Flattery will get you… everywhere with me!  🙂

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today? 

Scandal, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, and American Idol.

Now, let’s go to the movies… what is your favorite film of all-time?

Gone with the Wind

My mom loves you already!!

Scarlett. Rhett. It doesn’t get much better than this classic!

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

Always a soda and popcorn. I LOVE my popcorn. I think I eat it differently than everyone else. Sometimes I take several bites out of one popped kernel. I make it last throughout the entire film. 🙂

Besides writing, I know you have landed a few “extra” roles in some Hollywood films.  Where can we watch for you? 

No big deal, really! I’m in the wedding dance scene in End of Watch. I’m a green-faced witch in Fun Size, but if you blink, I’m afraid you’ll miss me. I worked several days on a film called The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey. It’s going to be a fabulous movie! I’m sitting in the fourth row of the audience. You might see me cheering for the two Steves, who portray a team of magicians during their 1980s Vegas heyday. I think I’ll keep the rest of the roles/films secret, especially the one in which I’m wearing a bathing suit! Ha ha.

This movie is on my “To Be Watched” list. And now that I know Lisette is in the wedding scene, I REALLY want to check it out!

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I’m currently close to publishing a book of poetry written by my mother about 60 years ago. She wrote beautiful poetry as a young woman (had a few poems published), then went on to get her master’s and doctorate and become a university professor.  She’s now retired and looking forward to the publication of her book within the next couple of months.

As for me, I’m approximately 25% into my next novel, which will be in the YA Paranormal genre. I’m eager to pick up the pace on this novel and publish it in mid-2013.

I’m also eager to move on to novel #5. I will be novelizing a play that I wrote many years ago, which actually began as a short story when I was 17. So, these characters have been itching to make themselves known for a very long time.

*****

Isn’t Lisette adorable?  I am totally going to watch for her in those movies… maybe if we beg enough, she’ll tell us the title of the film where she wears a bathing suit!

Need more Lisette?  Catch up with her at her website, or follow her via her Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook accounts.

Do you have a question for Lisette?  Have you read Molly Hacker is Too Picky!?  If so, share your thoughts here!  We’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Fine Art of Deception

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing these next few months, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do.  This week, we decided to break the mold and do something we’ve only done once before—review the same show!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching NBC’s new primetime murder mystery, Deception?

Deception is the story of two friends—Vivian Bowers (Bree Williamson), the wealthy socialite who is known for her partying, and Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good), Vivian’s childhood best friend.  The only problem is, one must now investigate the murder of the other…

Will Joanna discover who killed Vivian? Or will her undercover operation fail?

So, who killed Vivian Bowers?

The first hour raced by.  I have to say I was impressed with the way the series introduced all of the characters AND hinted as to why each Bowers family member would have had motive to kill Vivian.  Well, almost everyone—I’m still not one hundred percent certain as to why daddy would have wanted to harm his daughter, but I was beginning to by the end of the second episode…

Let’s meet the Bowers:

First, we have the patriarch of the family—Robert Bowers, played by Victor Garber from Alias.  Robert is the founder and CEO of the family’s pharmaceutical company.  He seems to be really torn up about the death of his daughter, more so than the rest of the family anyway.  It’s not really until the second episode that we see why he might have had a hand in his daughter’s murder…  It had to weigh on him that Vivian was sleeping with the man allegedly ready to share the failed details of his company’s latest drug, right?

Did Daddy do it?

Next, we have the step-mother—Sofia, played by Katherine LaNasa from Three Sisters and Judging Amy.  Sofia has made it very clear that she’s the one that cleans up the family’s messes.  Plus, she knows Vivian’s biggest secret and threatened her stepdaughter when she announced it was time to tell the truth.  Just how wicked is this stepmother?

Next, we have the older brother—Edward, played by Tate Donovan from Damages.  All fingers point to good ol’ Eddie, especially since he has a temper and was suspected of strangling and killing another girl years earlier.  Not only that, but his wife (Samantha, played by Marin Hinkle from Two and a Half Men and Once and Again) has taken their children and left him which seems to just add to his anger issues.  Oh, and did I mention Edward’s temper?  Yeah… it was worth mentioning again.

Did “Angry Eddie” kill Vivian?

Next, we have the other brother—Julian, played by Wes Brown from True Blood and Hart of Dixie.  Julian appears to be a lot like Vivian; he loves to party and has a history of drug use.  Plus, for whatever reason, Julian is the one who tossed a ring into the river that seems to match the indentations left on Vivian’s head just before her death.  But did he kill her?  Oh, and Julian is credited with creating the new Bowers’ pharmaceutical drug nearing release—a drug that allegedly caused harm during the testing phase that the family is covering up.  So, if his sister was sleeping with the whistleblower, that clearly gives Julian something to lose…

And finally, we have the little sister—Mia, played by Ella Rae Peck from Gossip Girl.  There’s more to Mia than meets the eye… the first episode hinted to the fact that she might be Vivian’s daughter, which I thought was great.  Then, they confirmed it before the first hour was up, which I thought was a bit fast.  However, doesn’t this give Mia motive?  She seems to be really upset by the death of her sister… but did she know that her sister was really her mother and had been hiding the truth from her all these years?  Hmmm….

Just how much does Mia really know? Enough to make her want to kill?

Of course, there’s also the people outside the family with motive.  Could it be the boyfriend/whistleblower/baby-daddy (Ben, played by Tom Lipinski from Suits)?  How about the loyal Bowers’ handyman who will do anything for his employer?  Surely this list will grow with each additional episode…

But Deception wouldn’t be a murder mystery without the police investigating the crime.  Joanna didn’t go undercover on her own, as much as she wants to know who murdered her best friend, she was sent in by FBI Agent Will Moreno, played by Laz Alonso (Breakout Kings).   Many at the FBI and police department are sick and tired of the Bowers family getting away with murder—literally.  To what extremes will they go to finally take down the entitled family?

Who killed Vivian Bowers?

We may be only three episodes in, but I’m already willing to award the new murder mystery with the MacTV ratingDeception’s not perfect, but it definitely satisfies my cravings.  It’s been years since I’ve had anything on television as dark and twisted as Twin Peaks.  I’m not saying I haven’t had any good murder mysteries on since because everyone knows how I feel about Pretty Little Liars (love it!), but now I can sit back and watch the Bowers family members unravel and reveal more and more about themselves and why they each had motive to kill their beloved Vivian—and this makes me happy.

“How do I know you didn’t do it?” ~ Ben to Edward
“How do I know you didn’t do it?” ~ Edward to Ben
“Who knew Vivian was pregnant?” ~ Robert to both sons, Edward and Julian
“How do I live with this?” ~ Ben
“You know the price for disloyalty in this family.” ~ Sophia to Samantha

So, who killed Vivian Bowers?

Deception does have one downfall as far as I’m concerned though… the series is ending potential story lines and mysteries way too fast.  For one, they hinted at Vivian being Mia’s mother… and then they confirmed it.  Bam!  They introduced a reporter with inside information as a potential informant for Joanna and her undercover investigation… and then killed him.  Bam!  I mean, c’mon.  Slow things down just a bit to add to the intrigue.  But so far that’s my only complaint.

What do you think?  Have you watched Deception?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see what she thinks about the new NBC murder mystery.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes in our television viewing pleasure…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

New to TV in 2013 – The Fourth and Final Part… For Now

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last few years, we’ve learned to adapt to the constant adjustments the television networks make to our primetime TV schedules.  Just a few short months ago, the fall programming premiered—some of the September pilots passed the test and will live to see another day, while others have already been cancelled.

But don’t worry… the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites in 2013.  Some of the series have promise, while others may flop—but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Continuing with our New to TV in 2013 series, here are a few more of the upcoming premieres we can look forward to in the next two months…

*****

This one almost slipped past me… and then I saw a commercial for it this past weekend.

Golden Boy follows Walter William Clark, Jr. (Theo James from the British series Bedlam and Downton Abbey) on his unprecedented rise through the New York City Police force from a beat cop, to detective, to police commissioner.

It has been reported that this crime drama is more character driven than most.  Instead of focusing on the cases the police solve, Golden Boy focuses on the Clark character and the relationships he forms with his partners and mentors, specifically Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride from Boston Public and Human Target).  While I enjoy police procedurals, I would appreciate a television series that really connects me with the character leads more than most already on the air do.

The new series also stars: Kevin Alejandro (Southland and True Blood) as Christian Arroyo,  the supposed “alpha” dog detective; Bonnie Somerville (NYPD Blue and Cashmere Mafia) as Deborah McKenzie, one of the few female detectives in the department; and Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami and Lights Out) as Joe Diaco, the detective with all of the connections.

And let me just say that Mr. James is quite cute, but the role of Walter William Clark, Jr. originally belonged to Ryan Phillippe.  I don’t know why Mr. Phillippe backed out, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed by this.

Golden Boy premieres Tuesday, February 26th on CBS.

*****

Life is great for housewife and mother Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell from Silent Hill and The Crazies).  It’s not until her husband is murdered and the FBI comes knocking that she begins questioning her family’s business… of crime.   Will she resort to her family’s ways, something she’s personally steered clear of until now, or will she join forces with the authorities investigating her family?  One thing’s certain—she will avenge her husband’s death and protect her children at all costs.

The new series also stars:  Clifton Collins Jr. (The Event) as FBI Agent James Ramos; Luke Goss (the Death Race movies) as Luther; Suleka Mathew (Hawthorne) as Dina Tomlin; Jaime Ray Newman (Eastwick and Eureka) as Kat Castillo; Lee Tergesen (Oz and Generation Kill) as Mike Tomlin; Rade Serbedzija (24) as Andrei Petrov; and Goran Visnjic (ER) as Nicholae Schiller.

Oh, and Red Widow is produced and written by Melissa Rosenberg, the head writer behind the first four seasons of Dexter AND the woman responsible for the Twilight franchise screenplays.  That alone has me interested…

Red Widow premieres Sunday, March 3rd on ABC.

*****

We’ve all wondered it at least once since leaving home, whether it be for college, or marriage, or just because… what would we do if we had no choice but to move back in with our parents as an adult?

After Polly’s (Sarah Chalke from Roseanne and Scrubs) divorce, she has no choice but to move back in with her parents.   But after a year, she worries she’s stuck there forever with her mother (Elaine, played by Elizabeth Perkins from Big and Weeds) and her father (Max, played by Brad Garrett from Everybody Loves Raymond).  To make matters worse, she’s plagued by the ex-husband who wants her back (of course) and a friend she almost made the mistake of dating back in the day.

The new sitcom also stars Canadian comedian John Dore and the 7 Up guy, Orlando Jones.

How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) premieres Wednesday, April 3rd on ABC.

*****

If I had to rank these in order of which one I’m most looking forward to, I’d put Red Widow at number one.  It has almost everything I like: murder, “connected” families, and the choice of doing right or wrong while protecting one’s own.  If Red Widow has half the action and intrigue of Missing, I’ll be happy.  Golden Boy follows at number two, leaving How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) at third.  ABC’s new sitcom may be loaded with funny people, but someone always has to come in last…

Which of these new programs are you most looking forward to and why?  I’d love to hear from you!   

This wraps up the winter premieres portion of Tele-Tuesday.  These shows along with those mentioned in Part One, Part Two, and Part Three should get everyone’s palate wet…but don’t worry; there’s more ahead in 2013, including the return of at least one freshman series given the ax back in May.

That’s right… CBS is bringing back a television program they cancelled last year.  Maybe the networks do listen?

Catching Up with the Movies – Part Two: The Top Half

Very rarely do we actually go to the movie theater to catch a new release, but my guy and I do frequent the fabOoolous movie vending machines known as Redbox.  We also like to “rent” movies via OnDemand, whether it is the pay services or the free premium channels that accompany our cable plan.  Without fail, there’s always an “older” film we missed…

Every December, my guy takes an extended amount of time off and we use his vacation as our annual staycation.  Not only do we catch up on our sleep, but we also catch up on the latest releases we missed during their stint at the theater.  Usually we lean toward the comedies, wanting to relax and laugh the previous year away, but this time we frequented the drama and tension filled actions and mysteries.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a list of movies here at The Ooo Factor, so it’s time… but, warning: not all of the films I watch come highly recommended.

Two weeks ago, I published Part One of this list: Magic Mike, Killer Joe, and The Amazing Spider-Man.  Today, I share the remaining films ranked from our least favorite to the most.

Today’s flicks I do actually recommend…

Enjoy!

*****

#4 – Total Recall

If watching the remake of Total Recall taught me anything, I learned that I needed to rewatch the original.  My guy kept insisting that the two films while somewhat similar were still quite different.  Clearly, I don’t remember enough about the Schwarzenegger version; however, I do know this: if action is what you like, the 2012 release doesn’t disappoint.

One thing’s certain—Colin Farrell is much sexier as Quaid.  And Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are not only gorgeous, but also well suited for action/adventure movies.

But if a trip to Mars is what anyone is looking forward to or expecting, let’s just say don’t get your hopes up.

*****

#3 – The Raven

I’ve never really been a big fan of poetry, but when asked which poem is my favorite, I always answer Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”  Partner this with the fact the motion picture The Raven stars John Cusack, and I knew I had to see it.

Maybe it’s because I like him, but I personally think Cusack’s portrayal of the seemingly misunderstood, gloomy, and melancholy writer to be fantastic.  And while the story is believed to be fictional—at least I don’t think a madman ever recreated Poe’s murder scenes in real life to be true—it is still intense and highly believable… as in it “could” have happened.  It took me following the clues along with Poe and the inspector to truly figure out who was behind the madness, making it a great whodunit as far as I’m concerned.  There’s also romance, a sad and forbidden love shared between Poe and his lady if that’s what you like.

There are things I want to say about the ending, but I won’t.  I highly encourage anyone with any ounce of interest in Poe and/or mysteries to see this and experience it for themselves.

*****

#2 – The Dark Knight Rises

Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney.  They’ve all played the The Caped Crusader, and all of their movies were enjoyable; but Christian Bale is Batman as far as I’m concerned.  It all started with Batman Begins back in 2005—a darker story with nowhere near the comedic aspects of the earlier films in the franchise.  And then there was The Dark Knight.  Not enough can be said about this installment, especially not when it comes to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we pressed play on the final film in this trilogy, but every minute of the two and a half hours that we watched kept me on the edge of my seat.  This movie is intense from pretty much the beginning all the way to the very end.   I’m not saying The Dark Knight Rises is better than its predecessor, that would be difficult, but it also doesn’t disappoint.

Perhaps what I enjoyed the most was the ending… a part of me thought throughout the movie that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the real star of the film; it seemed to me his character was on screen more than Bale’s.  I couldn’t figure out why… until the ending.  I was shocked.  And I loved it all the same.  My guy said he saw it coming, but I didn’t.

Why they say this is the final film in this particular franchise is beyond me.  I would love to see it continue.

Oh, and Tom Hardy played Bane?  I had no idea!  After watching him and falling in love with him in This Means War, I seriously had no clue he was the masked man wreaking havoc on Gotham City in this movie.  None.  I can’t quite think of another antagonist to compare his performance to… Bardem’s portrayal of Silva in Skyfall does come to mind though.  Bane is bad; man, is he bad.  But I still felt myself liking this character.

*****

And #1 – Savages

Savages… what can I say about this movie?  From the first time I saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to see this film.  Why?  Taylor Kitsch; Blake Lively; John Travolta; Benicio del Toro; and Salma Hayek.  Talk about an all-star cast!  I didn’t mention Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and that’s because I didn’t know who he was… not until watching the movie.  I still don’t know him from anything else, but now I will at least recognize his cute face.

So, back to Savages—a movie about two friends (a botanist and an ex Navy SEAL) running a highly lucrative marijuana business in California who run into trouble when a fading Mexican cartel wants to partner with them.  Why would a Mexican cartel, fading or not, want to partner up with two small town boys in Laguna Beach?  Because their strain has 35% potency, whereas most other strains have only about 5% potency.  I guess that’s some REALLY good pot…  Anyway, the boys try to walk away from the cartel… and well, that never ends well.

From the start of this movie, I was afraid we were walking into another “lorno,” or light porno, especially after watching Killer Joe earlier in the week.  But it wasn’t a lorno; however, there are a couple of really hot and racy sex scenes in the opening minutes.  And let me just say that Gossip Girl would have loved to report on Blake Lively’s shenanigans in this movie to her Upper Eastsiders…

This story is more about the back and forth between these two boys and the Mexican cartel.  And the dialogue.  The dialogue is probably why I chose this film as my number one over the holiday.  The back and forth between the two parties I expected; but the witty and smart one-liners are what really drew me in.  I laughed when the movie isn’t at all a comedy.  John Travolta proves that he isn’t one-dimensional.  Salma Hayek?  Well, you’ll have to see to believe… And Benicio del Toro?  I personally think he’s always great…

I watched this film not only with my guy but also with my mother.  She doesn’t usually like this type of film, but she watches because my father and I both enjoy them.  However, even she though this movie was very engrossing… and we’re both glad my nephews left earlier in the night.

*****

Have you seen any of these movies?  If so, what did you think?  What movies have you seen lately that come highly recommended?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Warming Up with Chicago Fire

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing these next few weeks, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do.  But before diving in, we’ve decided to revisit one of our still simmering reviews (SSTV) from last year.  You know… the television programs we weren’t exactly sure how to rate after watching the first few episodes.

My selection—NBC’s Chicago Fire.  Will it move up the ladder after watching more episodes?  Or fall down?

There’s just something about firefighters… they’re sexy, courageous, generous, and did I mention sexy?  But seriously, can you imagine the pressure our firefighters are under on a daily basis?  Saving lives; risking their lives; protecting everyone, including one another, at all costs; living with some of the highest levels of stress imaginable—they really are heroes.

Created by Dick Wolf (creator of all the Law & Order series), Chicago Fire follows a group of firefighters and paramedics as they serve Chicago and work to maintain and balance their personal lives.  And, as if the job isn’t tough enough, the new drama starts off with these brave men and women losing one of their own.

Now, we all know that every fire starts with an ignition source; and with Chicago Fire, that source would be the sexiness.  Just look at this cast: Jesse Spencer (House) as Lt. Matthew Casey; Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries) as Lt. Kelly Severide;  Eamonn Walker (Oz) as Chief Wallace Boden; Charlie Barnett (Men in Black 3) as Firefighter Peter Mills; and Lauren German (Happy Town and Hawaii Five-0) as Paramedic Leslie Shay.  The series also stars David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) as Firefighter Christopher Herrmann and a few ladies I’m not familiar with (Monica Raymund and Teri Reeves).  Plus, for those Fairly Legal fans (may the show rest in peace), Sarah Shahi has recently joined the cast…

But, is all of this eye candy enough to keep us coming back for more?

Hello, Shirtless Jesse Spencer…

If this new series is anything, it is dramatic.  We watch the firefighters and paramedics deal with addiction, guilt, blame, stress, heartbreak, and injuries.  Every week, the brave men and women rush out to all sorts of emergencies—fires, wrecks, and other life-threatening situations.  By definition, this makes Chicago Fire a procedural drama.  However, the series also has ongoing storylines from week to week, making it a serial as well.  And don’t worry; it’s really not all that difficult to pick right back up where we left off if we do indeed miss an episode—I tested this theory.

I chatted with a volunteer firefighter about NBC’s new program, and let’s just say he’s not so thrilled with the end result.  He mentioned that the cast and crew spent months following an actual Fire Department (if I remember correctly, I think he even said a Chicago Fire Department), and from what he could tell, the creators took certain liberties with how real firefighters do their job.  Sadly, he said firefighters never undress and strip down to a bare chest in the street after battling a fire.  I say sadly because I know many of us women wouldn’t mind seeing this happen, and thankfully the creators give us this tiny gift on the television screen.

Hello, Taylor Kinney’s Abs…

Heehee.  Sorry, back to being serious…

My fire fighting friend also stated that paramedics never ask anyone involved in a horrible crash to turn their necks, especially not a small child.  He added that the fireman do not use their radio system to talk trash or do anything else that’s unprofessional over the air waves.  All of this may not be true of every single fire house in the world, but these were his thoughts on the program, and he wished the writers would make it a bit more realistic while still making it interesting for the television audience.

I also visited with a good friend of mine, who just happens to be the wife of a former firefighter.  She and her husband watch Chicago Fire together, and while he does agree that not everything is completely protocol on the show, he believes most of it to be surprisingly accurate.  As one very familiar with these types of situations, he was impressed to see the series take the time to explain how the Chief “reads” the smoke and predicts what the fire is doing prior to sending in his team.  He also feels the dynamics between the firefighters with one another, with their families, and with the hospital staffs are represented fairly well.

Chicago Fire’s firefighters and paramedics work together to save lives…

All of this said, I realize Chicago Fire is a fictional television program.  In my first review, I had watched all four episodes to date and was still uncertain as to how I felt.  Taking into consideration that I do like Dick Wolf AND a few of the actors, particularly Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, and Lauren German, I decided to give it another shot.  I applaud the fresh idea of a series with firefighters and paramedics when most of today’s TV centers around police procedurals, the supernatural, and sitcoms.

So, has Chicago Fire moved up or down the Why It’s Worth a Watch ladder?  Up.  It’s still not something I watch religiously, but I do catch an episode when I can.  Therefore, I’m awarding the JFTV rating.  The freshman series isn’t perfect, but like that greasy bag of potato chips in the cupboard, I’ll go back for more if it’s there and my healthy box of granola and almonds is all gone.

What do you think?  Have you watched Chicago Fire?  Have you seen anything in the series and asked, “Would that really happen in real life?”  If so, do the writers’ liberties bother you enough to stop watching?   I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see which of her SSTV reviews she revisits…  I’ll give you one hint:  there’s singing involved!

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech