Calling All YA Readers – The Darkening (Shrilugh Saga) by Myndi Shafer is Now Available!

The Ooo Factor is thrilled to participate in Myndi Shafer’s book launch party today!!

The Darkening is the second book of the Shrilugh Saga, and is available now for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords… and will be available via iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other platforms soon!

the darkening cover (83)

The Darkening (Book Two of the Shrilugh Saga)

As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.

Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers.

Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running?

*****

Author Myndi Shafer currently makes her home in Kansas with her husband and four children. Her bestselling book, Shrilugh, was released in August of 2012.

Congratulations on the new release, Myndi!  And I can’t wait to grab a copy!

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Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Conspiracy… A Storm… A War… Zero Hour

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  We’re currently down to the very last of the new shows premiering this TV season, but Amber West and I still have our work cut out for us.  And we have had so much fun these past few weeks posting dual reviews, we’ve decided to do it again!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching ABC’s new drama, Zero Hour?

Shopping for antique clocks has never been so dangerous…

Hank Galliston (Anthony Edwards, Top Gun and ER) learns this first hand after his wife (Laila, played by Jacinda Barrett from—get this—The Real World: London) is abducted from her antique shop by a known international terrorist.  With help from a few friends, Hank uncovers a secret map hidden inside a clock from his wife’s inventory.  The clock and the map hold the key to a secret that a clandestine society and Catholic Church were sworn to protect for centuries—“a secret that could bring about the end of the world.”

Will Hank unravel the conspiracy and save his wife AND the world before it’s too late?

The story begins in 1938.  With the Nazis taking over, the Catholic Church decides to move a hidden treasure from beneath the Cathedral and leave its fate to the future—to “the twelve.”

The number twelve is very symbolic in this story—twelve numbers on a clock; twelve men to save the world; the twelve apostles.  These twelve are not the Biblical apostles we’re familiar with, but the twelve men the church entrusted to save the world in 1938.  Each was give a secret that could end the world.  They scattered to all corners of the world to keep the secret from the Nazis… each equipped with their own clock.

If the twelve clocks, the twelve pieces of the puzzle are discovered and fall into the wrong hands, a storm will come… a war unlike any other… Zero Hour.

Fast forward to the present…

After his wife’s abduction, Hank finds a clock at his house that he doesn’t recognize and cracks it open; he believes his wife must have just recently acquired the antique for her shop.  He opens the piece to find a diamond—a diamond encoded with an old treasure map containing a language assigned to the priests that died over two centuries ago.

While digging for answers, Hank receives a call from the man holding his wife.  Instead of telling the FBI what the true ransom is—the clock—Hank tells them that the terrorist wants money.  They attempt to track him down, but the terrorist sends them on a wild goose chase while attacking a priest, Hank’s friend (played by Charles S. Dutton), who is holding the treasure.  This leaves Hank with no other choice but to take matters into his own hands.

The pilot moves fast and Hank uncovers many things at a rapid speed, leaving the audience wondering how exactly he knows what to do next—it’s a bit unbelievable if you ask me, even if he does have investigative skills as the head of a magazine.  But this is TV, and the action has to move fast to pull viewers in, so why not just jump right into it and not ask questions?

The creators have claimed this series is not The Da Vinci Code; however, for those that enjoy Dan Brown’s novels and conspiracy theories (Nazis, the Catholic Church, and international mysteries), this TV series might just be one to check out.

And I’m more inclined to call Zero Hour a mini-series.  Why?  Because the main storyline of Hank and his wife’s abduction will wrap up this season in the thirteen episode arc…  I like this, especially considering television networks’ tendencies these days to cancel series left and right like it’s their only job.  Of course, if Zero Hour takes, and audiences provide the numbers ABC is looking for, the writers and creators do have a fresh new idea for season two.

Each episode is supposed to reveal one clue at a time until the story concludes in the thirteenth episode.  I personally think the creators messed up on this one… why not make the season twelve episodes?  But I digress…  As to what these clues are, I will not share; but I like where this story is going.  However, I will leave a clue myself:  perhaps Hank didn’t find this particular clock by accident…

Oh, and if Goose, I mean Dr. Greene, I mean Anthony Edwards, isn’t enough, the series also stars these familiar faces: Scott Michael Foster (The River and Californication) as Aaron; Addison Timlin (also from Californication) as Rachel; Carmen Ejogo (Alex Cross) as Beck; and Michael Nyqvist (Millennium) as White Vincent.

So how does Zero Hour rank?  I’m doing something I never do after watching a pilot episode—I’m giving the new “mini-series” the GMacTV rating!  I know it’s early, but I so want to know more… I’m hooked.  I love mysteries and clues, conspiracy theories, and well… television in general.  Let’s hope I don’t eat my words later.

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

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the new Dan Brown-ish drama.  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…

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
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

Psych-O for Psych

One of The Ooo Factor’s favorite television programs returns tomorrow—the USA Network’s Psych.  What is Psych?  This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

Last week, Tele-Tuesday listed our top ten Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the much-anticipated return of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

The selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball way out of the park.  And because we had such a hard time choosing only these ten, we’ve decided to share a few more Psych episodes worthy of a watch!

Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, and perhaps a slice of pineapple or another favorite blog reading snack.  Enjoy!

*****

“Tuesday the 17th” (Season 3)

What do we get when we cross the classic horror films Friday the 13th and April Fool’s Day?  “Tuesday the 17th” of course!  Co-written by the man who plays Shawn Spencer himself, James Roday masterfully crafted this spooky episode, combining elements from both movies… from the client, appropriately named Jason Cunningham (played by Mackenzie Astin, from The Facts of Life)—Jason, from Jason Voorhees, and Cunningham, from the Friday the 13th director, Sean Cunningham—to the staged and fake murders that “fooled” Shawn, leading to a big celebration by all involved in the joke… until a “real” body is found floating in the lake.  Brilliant episode!

Oh, and keeping with the ‘80s pop culture, Justine Bateman (Family Ties) also guest stars as Lassie’s ex-wife.

“Heeeeere’s Lassie” (Season 6)

When the team investigates an apparent hanging at a local apartment building, Lassie jumps at the chance to purchase the newly available condo.  But in a tribute to the 1980 classic horror film, The Shining, spooky things keep him up late at night… including two older twin sisters and a small boy riding his big wheels through the hallways.  With Shawn and Gus armed and dressed like the Ghostbusters, they spend the night in the apartment, hoping to rid Lassie’s new place from all things evil.  Be sure to pay special attention to Dule Hill and his spot-on impressions of The Shining’s Shelley Duvall…

Need more ‘80s pop culture?  Louis Gossett, Jr. (from the popular ‘80s Hollywood blockbusters An Officer and a Gentleman, Jaws 3-D, and Iron Eagle) guest stars as the building manager.

“Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

For the most part, our favorite Psych consultants work cases for the Santa Barbara Police Department… but every once in a while, a stranger walks in off the street needing their help.  And since Shawn and Gus always need the money, they rarely, if ever, turn someone away—regardless of how crazy the request.  So when a man (Josh Malina, Dule Hill’s West Wing co-star) hires them to watch him transform into a werewolf, Shawn and Gus oblige.  Of course they don’t really take him seriously and they fall asleep on the job, literally, only to discover their client missing when they wake up.  But it’s not just that—a window is shattered and they discover animal hair.

Psych once again pays tribute to another ‘80s classic (An American Werewolf in London) in this episode with guest star David Naughton (the “American Werewolf” from the 1981 film), as well as the memorable balloon scene from the movie.

“Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion” (Season 2)

To celebrate Gus’s birthday, Shawn takes him to a fashion show featuring his favorite model.  While at the show, one of the clothing line’s owners is electrocuted to death.  Lassie and Jules think it’s an accident, but Shawn believes it was murder.  To prove his case, Shawn and Gus go undercover as models—Black and Tan.

I realize my summary for this episode is short, but trust me, it is funny.  And if you’re not already a Psycho-O like me, remember to stick around after each episode for the “Psych Out” moments, or additional footage and/or bloopers.  Sometimes the cast sings some of our favorite hits from the past, and “Black and Tan” is no different… enjoy the boys’ rendition of “Come On Eileen.”

“Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark” (Season 4)

While investigating a case sans Gus, Shawn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time… and is kidnapped.  Not only that, but the bad guys shoot him.  As his life hangs in the balance, he uses the skills his father has taught him over the years and he leaves as many clues as possible so his friends can find him.  Everyone works together—Henry and Lassie partner up, as do Jules and Gus.  Pretending to believe his life is coming to an end, Shawn convinces the kidnappers to let him call his girlfriend; but instead of calling his girlfriend (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook from She’s All That), he calls Jules.

Granted, this episode takes place before Shawn and Jules profess their love for one another… up until this point, their relationship was a bit of a back-and-forth game with one on board while the other was not.  But this episode gave viewers what they wanted at the time—Shawn’s and Jules’ true feelings were revealed.  Very intense episode…

*****

If not apparent from my back-to-back weeks blogging about Psych, I love this show and consider myself a Psycho-O, a die-hard Psych fan.  Not only do the writers and creators outdo themselves with each and every episode, ensuring craftily designed mysteries and packing the show full of pop culture puns and tributes, they never forget to make the audience laugh.  Heck, even the commercials kill me every time I see them, even when I’ve seen the same commercial over and over again.  Unlike the Hollywood movie trailers that include all of the funniest moments in the sneak peeks, one can always expect to laugh from start to finish when Shawn, Gus, Lassie, Jules, and Henry take to the screen.

Perhaps one of my favorite elements of Psych and its comedy and pop culture references comes when Shawn introduces himself and Gus during an investigation.  Shawn almost always introduces himself accurately (although not always), but Gus isn’t so lucky.  Take the “Let’s Get Hairy” episode.  When introducing themselves to a psychiatrist, Shawn introduces himself as “Randle P. McMurphy” and Gus as “Cheswick,” two patients from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Shawn provides aliases for both of them in this example, but it’s usually just Gus with names like “Art Vandelay” from Seinfeld, “Black Magic,” and “Fellatio Del Toro.”  It’s always something in every single episode…

There are also the numerous times Shawn tells Gus to “not be” something:  “Gus, don’t be Nick Cage’s accent from Con Air” (episode “Death is in the Air” – Season 4) or “Gus, don’t be Pete Rose’s haircut” (episode “Dead Man’s Curveball” – Season 6).  These lines of dialog aren’t always pop culture related, sometimes they are just funny when used in context of the episode, but we can always count on some “Gus, don’t be” comment… and a laugh.

Do you watch Psych?  What’s your favorite episode?  Do you have a favorite Gus alias or “don’t be” moment?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Die Hard Again, But Not Dead Yet

It’s hard to believe that it has been twenty-five years since we first met John McClane (played by Bruce Willis), a character plagued by bad guys and bad situations on his time off… when all he wants is to spend time with members of his estranged family.  More than once he has saved the day with minimal resources of his own, set off BIG explosions, and entertained moviegoers with his coined catchphrase.

Rarely does a Christmas season roll around that I don’t feel like watching Die Hard.  Watching Willis run around barefoot, sporting only a white tank top and slacks, as he single-handedly removes each and every one of the bad guys while keeping his sense of humor, pulls me in every single time.  And somehow the film hasn’t aged in the almost three decades since its premiere; granted there are a few giveaways that the movie was filmed in the ‘80s, like the big hair and shoulder pads, but for the most part it has weathered the test of time.  Well, except for Bruce Willis’ hair.

Die Hard saw such huge box office numbers that a franchise was born.

After saving his wife and her coworkers at Nakatomi Plaza from German terrorists (led by Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman), John McClane attempts another winter rendezvous with his wife (played by Bonnie Bedelia).  But while at the Washington Dulles airport waiting for her arrival, the NYPD detective once again happens upon a group of bad guys with sinister plans.  As luck would have it, McClane intercepts a group of mercenaries (led by Colonel Stuart, played by William Sadler) attempting to rescue a drug lord from U.S. custody.  Not only does he take it upon himself to prevent this from happening, but in doing so he must also save everyone aboard the aircrafts hovering above the airport in a hold pattern… his wife included.  Clearly McClane isn’t an expert; he’s not an air traffic controller; yet he saves the day (or night in this case) once again because he is fearless.

The next time we see McClane, he’s down on his luck and back in New York.  Obviously rescuing his wife twice wasn’t enough to save his marriage, so with nothing to lose, he joins forces with an unsuspecting Harlem man (Zeus Carver, played by Samuel L. Jackson) to save New York City and the financial district from another group of German terrorists.  Only this time his cooperation was requested by the bad guys, led by Simon Peter Gruber (played by Jeremy Irons).  Working feverishly to solve numerous riddles along the way, John finally understands why he was specifically targeted—he killed the head terrorist’s brother (Hans, from the first movie).

Here’s a fun trivia fact: I’ve seen Die Hard with a Vengeance countless times, just like all of the Die Hard movies.  But it wasn’t until recently that I thought I recognized one of the boys playing Samuel L. Jackson’s nephew.  So I grabbed my phone and did a quick internet search.  I was right!  The boy couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen at the time, but I totally called it… do you know who it was?  Aldis Hodge (Hardison from Leverage)!!

Years passed and moviegoers were given the gift of a fourth John McClane movie with Live Free or Die Hard.  After a cyber-terrorist attack on Washington D.C. (led by Thomas Gabriel, played by Timothy Olyphant), McClane is sent after a top hacker in New York (played by Justin Long) and asked to escort him to the U.S. Capital.  One thing leads to another and it’s McClane versus Gabriel.  Adding fuel to the already explosive fire, Gabriel kidnaps McClane’s daughter (Lucy, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead).   Not only is he tasked with protecting the hacker and the entire United States from cyber warfare, now it’s personal—and we all know that McClane works best when it’s personal.

Now here we are in 2013, twenty-five years later.  John McClane has saved the cities of Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and New York, as well as his wife (twice) and his daughter (once) from terrorists of one kind or another… so isn’t it about time he helps save his son?  Yes, it is!

Even though I celebrate an entire month for my birthday, I surprisingly don’t make many requests of my guy.  I make requests… don’t get me wrong… just not that many.  Anyway, one of my requests this year was to see A Good Day to Die Hard in the theaters.  Because of the previous movies in the franchise, I knew this fifth installment would be loaded with action and BIG explosions.  Movies like this require a trip to the big screen.

And like its predecessors, A Good Day to Die Hard did not disappoint in those areas.  At this point in the series, backstory isn’t necessary, allowing the film to move immediately into the action.  All of the classic Die Hard elements are there…  McClane thinks he’s going to Russia to see his son and all hell breaks loose.  There’s humor, BIG explosions, and McClane’s coined catchphrase—“Yippee Ki Yay…”  (you can fill in the rest).  Perhaps it’s not the best flick of the five, but it worked for me.  Not to mention little John Junior (Jai Courtney), or Jack as he likes to be called, is a fine piece of eye candy.

Will I watch the latest Die Hard countless times in the future, just like I have the other four?  Probably.  Is it the best movie ever?  No.  It’s not even the best in the franchise.  But it was fun, somewhat believable as it pertains to McClane’s aging, and it maintains all the things we’ve grown to love about the franchise and character over the years.

Oh, and guess what?  Aldis Hodge has a small appearance in A Good Day to Die Hard too!  This time he plays a government or military operative working to get Jack out of Russia with his asset (it’s really not clear exactly what his job is since he’s barely on screen).  He’s on screen probably less than he was in Die Hard With a Vengeance, but still—he’s there!

Have you seen A Good Day to Die Hard?  What did you think?  Which of the Die Hard films in the franchise is your favorite and why?  I’d love to hear from you.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Monday Mornings on Monday Nights

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  We’re currently down to the very last of the new shows premiering this winter season, but Amber West and I still have our work cut out for us.  And we have had so much fun these past few weeks posting dual reviews, we’ve decided to do it again!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching TNT’s new medical drama, Monday Mornings?

Monday Mornings

Created by David E. Kelly (Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) and based on the book by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (he also serves as executive producer), Monday Mornings follows a group of surgeons at the fictional Chelsea General teaching hospital.  The show has an emergency room and surgical setting with multiple doctors and surgeons popping in and out of the scenes, some callous, and some empathetic.

The surgeons at Chelsea General regularly gather in a lecture hall to discuss current and previous cases.  These meetings are called to order and led by the Chief of Staff (Alfred Molina) where he calls out certain mistakes by the group and/or individuals.  While humiliating, these sessions serve as a crucial educational tool.  This group is expected to check their egos at the door and be the best doctors possible by learning from the mistakes of others.

When an ensemble cast—Ving Rhames, Jennifer Finnigan (Close to Home), Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), Sarayu Rao (Lions for Lambs), Bill Irwin (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Keong Sim (Glee), and Emily Swallow (Southland)—is involved, one doesn’t quite expect a large amount of character development in the pilot episode.  And while Monday Mornings doesn’t quite establish each and every character as quickly as shows like NBC’s Deception did in the first hour, viewers do learn enough to build a small connection with the characters and not feel completely lost in the story.

Like most medical dramas, I would strongly encourage those watching to not do so while eating.  However, despite the graphic content and serious subject matter, Monday Mornings does occasionally keep things light with a touch of humor.  But since when did it become socially acceptable to “flip the bird” on camera?  This series marks the fourth time (twice on TNT and twice on FX) since the winter premiere season began that I have seen actors shoot their middle finger up into the position that undoubtedly means “you’re number one with me.”   It’s quite shocking actually, and I’m not by any means innocent of never completing this action myself.  But I also don’t believe it belongs on TV.

I went in not expecting to watch Monday Mornings long term… only to write this review.  But after finishing the pilot, I pressed play on another episode.   I’m not saying I will watch TNT’s new medical drama religiously; however, if you were a fan of and miss ER, this might just be the TV program for you.   All of this considered, I’m going to award the new series with the JFTV rating.

I watched ER in the early years, and as the original cast members started to dwindle, so did I…  I will say this though—ER was groundbreaking, and there hasn’t quite been another medical show on television that could rival it.  There were aspects of Monday Mornings that certainly reminded me of ER.  Now as to whether or not it will last as long as its predecessor is yet to be determined.  But I highly doubt it.  Not many TV shows stay on the air fifteen years anymore.

What do you think?  Have you watched Monday Mornings?  If not, does it sound interesting?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the new medical drama.  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 Zero Hour

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
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

A Rerun of the Tour de Psych

One of Tele-Tuesday’s favorite programs returns next week—the USA Network’s Psych.  What is Psych?  This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate the new season, USA hosted a six-hour Psych Slumber Party this past Friday night starting at midnight.  And while our household did attend, we only lasted four and a half of the six hours…

However, the slumber party reminded us of all of our favorite episodes we posted last year and gave us a few to add to our list…

So this week, Tele-Tuesday has decided rerun our top ten Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the much-anticipated return of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball way out of the park.  But we selected our top ten, nonetheless.  And because we had such a hard time choosing only these ten, we’ll be back next week with a few more; maybe not ten, but we’ll definitely include more Psych episodes worthy of a watch!

Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, and perhaps a slice of pineapple or another favorite blog reading snack—this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided.  Enjoy!

*****

10. “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” (Season 5)

Because we love our readers, we’re going to rewind to season four for just a minute.  In “Extradition: British Columbia,” Shawn and Gus begin tracking an art thief (Pierre Despereaux played by Cary Elwes) in Canada; an art thief that Lassie has tracked for years but never successfully captured.

Fast-forwarding to season five, Despereaux needs Shawn and Gus’ help and pays for them to travel back to Canada, just before his extradition to the United States.  In the meantime, the suave criminal escapes prison and is wrongfully accused of murder, leaving Shawn no choice but to investigate.

Shawn, Gus, and Despereaux…

The Despereaux storyline is a fun one to return to, but “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” is perhaps included in the top ten because Shawn finally professes his love to Jules at the end of the episode.   And when we say finally, we mean finally.  It took us five seasons for him to admit his feelings for her.

9. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

“Last Night Gus” (Psych’s version of The Hangover) may have been one of the most enjoyable hours of the first half of season six.  After a night of apparently partying too hard, Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, Henry, and Woody (the coroner) wake up not remembering the night before.  Why is Lassie’s gun missing bullets?  Why did Henry wake up across town in a hotel room, sans pants?  What is the white powdery substance on Woody’s face?  Why is Shawn wearing a dead man’s sandals?  Why is “The Blueberry” (Gus’ car) dented?

Using Shawn’s “psychic” ability and Henry and Lassie’s detective skills, the group of men follow one clue after another, leading them to discover what really happened… and that “last night Gus” was a bit out of his element.

8. “The Devil’s in the Details… and the Upstairs Bedroom” (Season 4)

Shawn and Gus take the case of a college girl’s apparent suicide after one of her professors (Father Westley, played by the great Ray Wise) pleads with them to investigate, believing the girl to have been possessed by demons.  Why not?  It’s a Catholic University…

Shawn never believes the girl’s death to be more than suicide, but “plays along” until he actually discovers there was indeed foul play involved.  And when the Father is suspected of killing the girl, Shawn dedicates himself to prove the Holy Man’s innocence.

This was a bit of Heaven for former Twin Peaks fans…  Leland Palmer (Ray Wise), playing a priest, accused of murdering a young girl?  Too fun…

7.  “This Episode Sucks” (Season 6)

What more needs said about “This Episode Sucks” besides: vampires, Corey Feldman, and Kristy Swanson?  Exactly… but we will, just because.

When a body is discovered drained of blood in a parking lot, Shawn immediately believes vampires were involved.  He and Gus dress the part and visit a cult-like bar where all of the patrons dress and perhaps believe that they are indeed vampires.

Shawn and Gus “undercover”…

Remember the pop culture references mentioned above?  Again, fantastic writing and attention to detail comes into play as Shawn and Gus approach the bartender to question him regarding the murder.  As the bartender turns to face the “Psych” detectives, “Cry Little Sister” (the theme song from The Lost Boys) plays louder and louder until – Duh Duh Duh DUNNNNNN — Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) turns to face them.

Also in this episode, Lassie meets a woman (Kristy Swanson) the rest of the gang believes is involved in the murder.  Is she a vampire?  Probably not… but has Lassie finally found love?  Maybe…

6.  “Yang 3 in 2D” (Season 5)

The Yin and Yang storyline is hands down one of the top highlights of the Psych era.  Since our first introduction in season three, we’ve watched multiple episodes featuring Shawn’s biggest nemeses.  Sorry to throw a Yang storyline in here at number six (essentially out-of-order if one is not familiar with the series), but we’ll provide more detail below in the top five.

After a woman (Mena Suvari) claims to have escaped the elusive Yin (Peter Weller), Shawn cannot help but investigate, knowing that Yin is responsible for Yang’s (Ally Sheedy) psychopathic nature and her years of tormenting him.  Shawn uses Yang, against everyone else’s better judgment, to face the evil behind the deranged.

Sheedy plays a great crazy… I mean, Yang.

Yes, this summary is cryptic but we didn’t want to give too much away…

5. “Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?” (Season 3)

What could go wrong when Shawn and Gus attend their high school reunion?  Well murder, of course.  But there’s only one problem—there’s no body.  Without the body, no one believes Shawn.  So Shawn does what he does best—he pushes forward until he uncovers all of the necessary clues to solve the case.

Oh, and he reconnects with a girl he dissed in high school (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook) which begins an ongoing relationship for Shawn.

4.  “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” (Season 1)

We love when Jules gets more involved in the cases, and our favorite episode of the entire first season follows Jules as she goes undercover in a sorority house.  She invites Shawn and Gus to help as she investigates a series of bizarre events seemingly related to an earlier suicide at an insane asylum.

Sorority house, undercover assignment, insane asylum, alleged ghosts—who could want more in an episode?

See, even Shawn and Gus are spooked…

3. “An Evening with Mr. Yang” (Season 3)

We could almost say this episode is where it all begins, but that would be a lie considering we’re in season three.  This is, however, the introduction of Yang (Ally Sheedy).  Yang is a serial killer who has set her sights on Shawn and those dearest to him.  Shawn mistakenly suspects a psychologist (Mary, played by Jimmi Simpson) as Yang, but soon discovers that he is dealing with another deranged madman (or woman in this case) all together.

Things intensify on Shawn and Abigail’s date at the drive-in when Yang kidnaps Shawn’s mother (Madeleine Spencer, played by Cybill Shepherd).  Will Shawn’s astute attention to detail save his mother’s life and allow him to capture Yang before it is too late?

2. “Mr. Yin Presents…” (Season 4)

As reminded by the Ion Television Psych Saturday evening marathons, “Mr. Yin Presents” is by far one of the best episodes to date.  The episode begins when Shawn and Gus are reminded of a former foe—Yang.  After she releases her new book, a book she has written from her new home inside an insane asylum, another familiar face returns (Mary, Jimmi Simpson).  Mary insists that Yang was working with a partner, so Shawn and Gus agree to interview her hoping for answers.

Yang gives them what they ask for—confirmation that she has a partner:  Yin.  Everyone is drawn into Yin’s game—a game consisting of scenes from classic Alfred Hitchcock movies.  Shawn, Gus, Henry, Lassie and Jules are separated into different Hitchcock scenes, when both of Shawn’s loves (Jules and Abigail) are kidnapped.  Who will Shawn choose to rescue and who will die?

Yin’s game – a game consisting of scenes from classic Alfred Hitchcock movies…

And Number 1… Drum roll please…. “Dual Spires” (Season 5)

Shawn and Gus travel to Dual Spires looking forward to a cinnamon festival they learned about via a mysterious email, but instead find a murdered teenage girl wrapped in plastic down by the water.  Together they join forces with the town’s sheriff to solve the murder.

We could go on and on about this episode.  James Roday outdid himself writing this piece: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery from the ‘90s, Twin Peaks; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.  Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Sherilyn Finn (Audrey Horne).

Every once in a while, Psych adjusts the opening theme song to appropriately fit the night’s episode.  Needless to say, “Dual Spires” was one of those episodes—and the show’s creators invited Julee Cruise to sing the opening (that’s right!  She also sang the Twin Peaks’ opening).

“Dual Spires” inspired those of us at Tele-Tuesday (me) to write a “thank you” note to the producers of Psych at the USA Network.  While we didn’t hear back from James Roday himself, we did receive an email from one of the producers thanking us for the kind words and assuring us that our note would please Roday, considering this episode was one of his creations.  Maybe she never shared our note, but it doesn’t matter.  We felt better expressing our gratitude for an episode VERY well done.

*****

Do you watch Psych?  What’s your favorite episode?  Who is your favorite guest star to date?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to come back next week when we add to this list; maybe not ten, but we’ll definitely include more Psych episodes worthy of a watch!

Spooky and Seductive Vampires – Fright Night (2011)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the classic horror film, Fright Night.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

A teenager realizes his next door neighbor is a vampire and enlists a supposed vampire hunter to help him make his neighborhood safe again.

Before I begin, let me just say why I requested the remake.  Regardless of how ashamed I am to admit it, I usually choose the newer versions because I have not seen the originals.  However, this is not the case this time.  I’ve actually seen the 1985 film so many times, I decided to blog about it last week.

So why did I request the remake?  Two words—Colin Farrell.  Who doesn’t think this is the best casting for the sexy, dark role of Vampire Jerry?

But let’s get back to the movie…

The storyline for the remake is quite similar to the original, although the screenplay added a few needed updates to make it its own: a teenage boy (Charley Brewster, played by Anton Yelchin) begins to believe his next door neighbor is actually a vampire.  But instead of him watching his neighbor (Jerry Dandrige, played by Colin Farrell) move in with coffin-like boxes like in the 1985 flick, it takes warnings from his best friend (“Evil” Ed Lee, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and numerous classmates missing from school before he realizes his neighbor might actually be a blood sucker.  One thing leads to another, just like it always does, and Charley seeks assistance from a Las Vegas magician (Peter Vincent, played by David Tennant), who also has a reputation for allegedly being a vampire hunter, for help.

When Charley confides why he’s been acting so strangely to his mother (Jane, played by Toni Collette) and girlfriend (Amy, played by Imogen Poots), they both think he has lost his mind.  Vampires aren’t real!  Right?  Oh, but they soon change their minds…

There’s more to the remake and to Vampire Jerry than in the original… he’s not just feeding off sexy women and whomever he pleases to survive, he’s building… something… I don’t want to give too much away, but I honestly liked this new tweak to the story.

In addition to the famous and familiar actors and actresses names mentioned above, a few other notable roles include: James Franco’s (Freaks and Geeks, Spider-Man, 127 Hours) little brother, Dave Franco, playing Mark; Sofia Vergara’s (Modern Family) little sister, Sandra Vergara, playing Ginger; and Lisa Loeb (1994 hit song, “Stay”), playing Evil Ed’s mom.

Clearly, the cast is great.  And despite Mr. Farrell’s sexy and dark performance as Vampire Jerry, I think David Tennant’s portrayal of Peter Vincent might just be my favorite.  Most of the humor in this film surrounds Peter, and Mr. Tennant’s comedic timing is fantastic.  He most definitely should be applauded for making such an iconic role his own.  Because let’s face it, many watched the original Fright Night for Roddy McDowall.

And speaking of the original’s cast… some might consider me a dork, but I love when actors and actresses from an older, or original, work are incorporated into the remake.  This tells me that not only do they want the work, but in a way it says they have given the reboot their blessing.  Regardless, it’s a small detail that I appreciate.  The Fright Night franchise would not be the same without Chris Sarandon, and even though his screen time is lightning fast in the 2011 film, I noticed and I thank all those involved in making this happen.

And like its 1985 predecessor, Fright Night (2011) is not a feel-good vampire movie.  It’s mysterious, dark, and at times spooky.  Even the music was eerie, particularly the instrumental “Welcome to Fight Night” by Ramin Djawadis.  When I heard this song in the opening credits, I knew I was in for a treat!

So how does the remake hold up?  Is it possible for someone who loved the original and watched it countless times as a little girl to enjoy it just as much?  The answer is an unequivocal yes!

The original was great, even if a bit campy when watched today as Catie mentioned, but this film, from a story-telling aspect, is better; it was more developed, allowing it to stand on its own in today’s market… especially for those who aren’t familiar with the franchise… and let’s hope that demographic is very small!

Without fail, the 2011 film did not disappoint this Fright Night fan (not at all like the 1988 sequel).

Before we go, Catie always lists some sort of fun trivia in her reviews, so I thought I’d throw one out there:

It is rumored that Heath Ledger was in consideration for the role of Jerry, but he passed away before the project kicked into high gear.  After watching his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight, I have no doubt that Mr. Ledger would have been fantastic as Vampire Jerry.  May he rest in peace.

However, don’t worry;  Mr. Farrell nails it as far as I’m concerned!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Fright Night?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.