Pony Fest 2013 – Football “Sweetie” Sweetheart

It’s Pony Fest Time!

What is Pony Fest?

Pony Fest is an annual contest and friendly competition between book ponies hosted by Rebecca Enzor.  All ponies are based on a full-length novel and are original pieces of art.  I sat back and enjoyed last year’s show, viewing all the beautiful creations.  But after a good friend of mine took it upon herself to donate a Football Sweetheart pony, I decided to enter my girl into the pageantry.

SweetieThis is Sweetie.

Drawn and photoshopped by the uber-talented Angela Wallace, Sweetie represents all the girl ponies that wanted to play football, but had to settle for a different role within the team.  For Sweetie, this meant joining the athletic training staff.  She tends to the players’ injuries, helps with their treatments, and like any good pony, she even gives them water when they’re thirsty.  She loves her team and will do everything within her pony-power to help propel the boys to the state championship, even when she has a hard time focusing because of her best pony pal’s disappearance…

Because as we all know…

High School Football Can Be Murder.

FootballSweetheart_Digital
My YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… available on Kindle and Nook!

Stop by Rebecca’s blog and check out the other participating ponies.  Voting begins October 5th and the winning pony will receive an actual custom pony designed by Kalavista.

Have a great weekend and Happy 30th Anniversary to My Little Pony!  Wow….

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New to TV – Fall 2013 (Part Three)

Because so many new television shows premiere this week, I’m skipping the usual Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday post, and sharing the third installment of my New to TV – Fall 2013 series…

That’s right!  It’s that time of year again… the fall television schedule is here!  And as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.

Some of the series have promise, while others may flop—but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, we’re mixing it up with comedy and drama…

*****

The Crazy Ones

CBS Summary: An unorthodox advertising genius runs his highly successful ad agency, while managing his eccentric development team and his polar-opposite daughter, all while striving to maintain a reputation as one of the best ad agencies in the business. 

At Roberts & Roberts, viewers get to see the crazy world of advertising and the relationship between a nutty, fun father (Simon Roberts, played by the phenomenal Robin Williams—no introduction necessary, right?) and his serious and ambitious daughter (Sydney Roberts, played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I mean, Sarah Michelle Gellar).

Produced by David E. Kelly (The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal), The Crazy Ones will probably be worth a watch.  I said it once and I’ll say it again, Robin Williams is phenomenal.  Just look at his success: Mork & Mindy, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Good Will Hunting, to just name a few.  And then there’s Sarah Michelle Gellar.  I’m still upset her CW show Ringer didn’t make it last year… hopefully this one does.  Television is a better place with SMG.

The sitcom also stars: James Wolk (You Again, Political Animals) as Zach; Amanda Setton (Gossip Girl) as Lauren; and Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine) as Andrew.

The Crazy Ones premieres tomorrow night, Thursday, September 26th on CBS.

*****

The Michael J. Fox Show

NBC Summary: Mike Henry was one of New York City’s most beloved news anchors, but had to abruptly place his career on hold so he could spend more time with his family and focus on his health after receiving the diagnosis saying he has Parkinson’s Disease. 

I think we can all agree that we’re happy Michael J. Fox is coming back to television.  We’ve missed Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly.  Our hearts broke when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in real life and we’ve watched him suffer through this disease… and fight.  Fight is what he has done.  Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky enough to see Mr. Fox guest star on a few shows, including the very popular The Good Wife, and raise over $350 million dollars for Parkinson’s.

And now he’s back, starring in a brand new sitcom, playing a man similar to himself… where Parkinson’s is concerned, anyway, and showing how he has bounced back.  Mike, his character on The Michael J. Fox Show, has fought back himself and will balance his disease, work, and his family… much like the resilient Michael J. Fox is doing right now.

I watched my grandmother succumb to Parkinson’s when I was a young girl, and I applaud Michael J. Fox for all he has done for the disease.  I know this isn’t much of a TV preview, but I wanted to take this time to thank him.

The new sitcom also stars: Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Katie Finneran (I Hate My Teenage Daughter), and Wendell Pierce (The Wire and Suits).

The Michael J. Fox Show premieres tomorrow night, Thursday, September 26th on NBC.

*****

Betrayal

ABC Summary: The chance meeting of a professional photographer and a top attorney leads to an instant, undeniable attraction that both struggle with since they are both married.  Matters worsen when they find themselves on the opposite sides of a murder case. 

Sara (Hannah Ware from BOSS), a married woman, meets a mysterious stranger and falls in love.  Besides the fact she’s committing adultery, there’s another BIG problem—her lover (Jack McAllister, played by Stuart Townsend, Night Stalker) is the opposing counsel against her husband in the trial of his life.

When I first saw the Betrayal preview on ABC, I was sure I’d watch.  But then I saw the night of the week ABC has chosen to air it and I had to laugh—Sunday nights after Revenge.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I love Revenge.  But Revenge followed by Betrayal?  C’mon.  Am I the only one who thinks ABC is going for a theme here on Sunday nights?  Admit it… it’s kind of funny.

Anyway, the new drama also stars: Chris J. Johnson (South Beach, Against the Wall) as Sara’s husband, Drew; James Cromwell (Six Feet Under, American Horror Story: Asylum) as Thatcher Karsten, a powerful business man and Jack’s client; Wendy Moniz (The Guiding Light) as Elaine, Thatcher’s daughter and Jack’s wife; and Henry Thomas (from two of my childhood favorites… E.T. The Extraterrestrial and Cloak and Dagger) as T. J. Karsten.

Betrayal premieres Sunday, September 29th on ABC.

*****

Hello Ladies

HBO Summary: An English web designer/landlord, who has recently moved to the United States, learns that his attractive tenant has a friend who is opening a classy nightclub, and he manages to get his name on the establishment’s guest list. 

A small town English man (Stuart, played by Stephen Merchant, co-writer and director of the BBC’s The Office, and funny man from Hall Pass and Movie 43) dreams of somehow making it in Los Angeles… and Hello Ladies will follow him through his dating experiences.

That’s about all I could get from watching this trailer via OnDemand… it’s practically a reiteration of the HBO summary.

The series also stars: Christine Woods (Flashforward), Nate Torrance (Mr. Sunshine), and Kevin Weisman (Alias).

Hello ladies premieres Sunday, September 29th on HBO.

*****

We Are Men

CBS Summary: A group of four single guys living in an apartment complex find camaraderie over their woes in love as they take the youngest of the group under their wings. 

When Carter (Chris Smith, Paranormal Activity 3) gets left at the altar, his life falls apart.  So he moves into an apartment complex where he meets his three new best friends… three men who understand exactly what he is going through.  Together these four guys will start life over again with each other and their love and support… as crazy as they may be.

The sitcom also stars: Kal Penn (Kumar from the Harold & Kumar movies and House) as Gil; Jerry O’Connell (from so many of my favorites… Stand by Me, Scream 2, Tomcats, Buying the Cow, and TV’s Crossing Jordan and The Defenders—a show that should have made it, but moving on…) as Stuart; and the great Tony Shalhoub (Wings and Monk) as  Frank.

We Are Men premieres Monday, September 30th on CBS.

*****

If I had to rank these in order of which one I’m most looking forward to, I’d put Betrayal at number one.  We Are Men probably comes in second, mainly because I adore three of the four male stars.  The Crazy Ones follows behind at number three, due to the fact it brings back one of my favorites to the television screen—Buffy. I mean, Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Fourth and fifth (last) place goes to The Michael J. Fox Show (no offense, Mr. Fox… I’m thrilled to see you back on TV in a starring role) and Hello Ladies.  Unfortunately, someone always has to come in last; but that doesn’t mean we won’t give it a chance here at The Ooo Factor.   

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  I’d love to hear from you!

New to TV – Fall 2013 (Part Two)

It’s that time of year again… the fall television schedule is here!  And as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.

Some of the series have promise, while others may flop—but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, we’re mixing it up with ABC’s all new comedies and dramas… all premiering this week!

*****

The Goldbergs

ABC Summary: For geeky 11-year old Adam, these were his wonder years, and he faced them armed with a video camera to capture all the crazy.  The Goldbergs are a loving family like any other, just with a lot more yelling. 

The year is 1985. And The Goldbergs has it all—the clothes, the hair, the earrings, the makeup, the cars, the music… awe, long live the ‘80s!

But let’s talk about the series…

The Goldbergs are a close, loving family, and just as dysfunctional as any other family.  But we (the viewers) get to witness all of the craziness (like dad dropping his pants the moment he walks in the door from work), courtesy of the youngest Goldberg filming everything with his big ole video camera.

I’m a child of the ‘80s and I love to laugh; and as much as I hate to admit it, The Goldbergs trailer had me at hello.  Perhaps I could relate?  Anyway, let’s just hope the series is as entertaining as it seems it is going to be.

The new sitcom stars: Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Murray Goldberg, the dad; Wendy McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids) as Beverly Goldberg, the mom; George Segal (Just Shoot Me!) as Albert Solomon, the granddad; and Hayley Orrantia (X-Factor), Sean Giambrone, and Troy Gentile as the Goldberg children.

The Goldbergs premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 24th on ABC.

*****

Lucky 7

ABC Summary: Seven coworkers with big dreams put their resources together to buy lottery tickets, and when they win, they find themselves having to re-examine their values and identities in order to appreciate their shared wealth and individual dreams. 

Based on the British series, The Syndicate, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Lucky 7 follows the lives of seven gas station employees and coworkers after they strike gold in the New York lottery.  They should all celebrate; they could all use the money; but like with every other thing involving money, it might not be as easy as they thought.

Unlike many of the other new fall programs, Lucky 7 did not have a special behind-the-scenes segment or preview for me via OnDemand.   Not only that, the series stars a lot of relatively unknown actors (see below), and the quick trailer airing on ABC doesn’t really show all that much, leaving me intrigued.  I only hope this means I’ll be interested in the story after the pilot and not deleting the show from my DVR right off the bat.

The new drama stars: Summer Bishil (The Last Airbender), Lorraine Bruce (The Syndicate), Matt Long (Private Practice), Christine Evangelista (The Kill Point), Luis Antonio Ramos (Early Edition), Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (The Wire), Alexandra Castillo, Anastasia Phillips, and Stephen Louis Grush.

Lucky 7 premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 24 on ABC.

*****

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

ABC Summary: Agent Phil Coulson gathers a highly select team of agents from around the world to be a part of the law enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect the world’s ordinary population by investigating the extraordinary. 

S.H.I.E.L.D.

Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division.

We’ve all seen Iron Man by now, right?  Thor? The Avengers?  Let’s just assume we’re all familiar with S.H.I.E.L.D. by now.

Only now, we get to meet the agents behind S.H.I.E.L.D. that Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, The New Adventures of Old Christine) has handpicked.  We all might recognize Agent Coulson from the movies mentioned above (Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, etc.); but did we know he was supposedly killed in action, but brought back to put together the perfect team to investigate new threats?  Now we do… and he is the glue that holds the organization together.

Let’s meet his team:

First, we have Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)—Fitz is the gadget man and Simmons is the biochemist.  Together they love their jobs, are thrilled to be a part of the team, and are pretty much unstoppable.

Next, we have Agent Ward (Brett Dalton)—he’s the black ops specialist, an expert in reconnaissance with mad military skills… but he’s not so great with people.

Then we have Agent May (Ming-Na Wen, ER)—she’s a former field agent now confined to the office, but why?  Don’t know… but we do know she’s mysterious, quiet, and a top-notch fighter… as in hand-to-hand combat.

And last but not least, we have Skye (Chloe Bennet, Nashville)—she’s the tech expert, a computer hacker who finds herself as a member of the team after she cracks the wrong code.  Whoopsie.

There we have it.  The humans behind the superheroes.  The normal people dealing with the superhero world.

The new series promises action, a sense of humor, and great characters.  And why not?  Joss Whedon is the creator, director, and executive producer.  I mean, c’mon… Whedonites unite.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 24th on ABC.

*****

Trophy Wife

ABC Summary: A reformed party girl, now the third wife of a slightly older man, finds herself with an instafamily (consisting of three stepchildren and two ex-wives).  But she is determined to make this work and become a part of the family no matter what. 

After meeting her husband in a karaoke bar, Kate (Malin Akerman) jumps feet first into her new life.  She wants to bond with her new stepchildren, even if it means chugging the alcohol one of them is about to get busted with, and with her husband’s ex-wives… both of them.  She may not know what she is doing, but she won’t let anything get in her way.

First of all, I really like Malin Akerman.  Not only is she beautiful, but she’s actually quite funny (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Heartbreak Kid, Couples Retreat, Wanderlust, and most recently, Suburgatory).  I pretty much immediately knew I would want to check this new sitcom out, mainly just to watch her and laugh.

The new sitcom also stars: Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) as Kate’s husband, Pete; Marcia Gay Harden (does she really need an introduction?) as Diane, one of Pete’s ex-wives; Michaela Watkins (The New Adventures of Old Christine) as Jackie, ex-wife number two; Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation) as Meg, Kate’s friend; and Bailee Madison (Just Go With It) as Hillary, one of Pete’s kids.

Trophy Wife premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 24th on ABC.

*****

Back in the Game

ABC Summary: Over the past decade, Terry Gannon has found herself with a baby, a lost college scholarship, divorced, and moving back in with her father.  And when a neighbor offers to finance a baseball team for kids that didn’t make the cut, including her son, she offers to coach the team of misfits.

Terry Gannon, Jr. (Maggie Lawson, Psych) had a very promising softball career… until she got pregnant and lost her college scholarship.  So she did what she felt was best and married the father of her son.  But things didn’t work out, and following a divorce, she and her son move in with her dad (James Caan—no introduction necessary, right?).

Dad… Terry Gannon, Sr.  “The Cannon.”  He, too, had a promising career as a professional athlete; but all that went to the wayside.  And now he’s just an opinionated ex-star, who enjoys his sofa and an ice-cold beer.  And I’m not quite sure he ever really excelled at being a single father either…

Anyway, trying to get her life back on track, Terry Jr. encourages her son to try out for little league, despite his not knowing much, if anything, about the sport.  But when he and a group of kids fail to make the team, a wealthy neighbor backs them and Terry offers to coach the misfits.  Kinda sounds like a story of redemption, right?

The new sitcom also stars: Griffin Gluck (Just Go With It) as Danny Gannon; Lenora Crichlow (the BBC’s Being Human) as Gigi; and Ben Koldyke (How I Met Your Mother) as Dick.

Back in the Game premieres tomorrow, Wednesday, September 25th on ABC.

*****

If I had to rank these in order of which one I’m most looking forward to, I’d put Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at number one.  Back in the Game probably comes in second because I adore Maggie Lawson and James Caan.  The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife follow behind at numbers three and four.  Both do look funny… and I LOVE the ‘80s and Malin Akerman… Lucky 7 comes in fifth (last) place.  So far I just don’t know much about this one; therefore, I’m looking forward to it the least.  But don’t worry; I will watch it before casting any judgement.  

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Fall Foods – Hot Dog Casserole

When I posted my Football Food recipes a few weeks ago, my dad thought I missed something.  And while I don’t consider today’s recipe a must have during our favorite pigskin games, it is the perfect fall food… Hot Dog Casserole.

Hot Dog Casserole
Hot Dog Casserole

Every time I post about having Hot Dog Casserole for dinner on Facebook (yes, food is very popular on social media), I have multiple people reach out wanting to know more.

So between my dad and everyone else intrigued by my mother’s recipe, today I am sharing it with the world.  Well, The Ooo Factor readers…

I have no idea where this recipe originated, but my mom has made it for as long as I can remember.  I wasn’t a HUGE fan of Hot Dog Casserole growing up; all I needed was a boiled hotdog on a mustard and ketchup covered bun.  What kid wants more than that?  But now as an adult, I find myself enjoying the White Family Classic at least three times a year—Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day—and the occasional fall evening.

So what is Hot Dog Casserole?

Boil however many hot dogs…
Heat chili with or without beans on the stove…
Meanwhile, pull out a large baking dish and prepare the buns with mustard, ketchup, and relish.

Getting the buns ready...
Gettin’ the buns ready…

Once the dogs are ready, place ‘em in the buns.

Ready for the fixin's...
Ready for the fixin’s…

Cover with chili, cheese, and chopped onion.

Ready for the oven...
Ready for the oven…

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until the buns have reached your desired level of crunchiness.

The finished product... ready to eat!
The finished product… ready to eat!

Hot Dog Casserole is a Man’s Man Recipe. All the men in our family LOVE it.  I hope yours do too!

Do you make anything special once the weather cools down?  If so, please share!  I’d love to hear from you.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – American Horror Story

With summer coming to an end, and the new fall television schedule right around the corner, I have decided to take a break (of sorts) here on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  I say “of sorts” because instead of reviewing a fresh new series, I want to feature a few shows that I am looking forward to returning in the 2013/2014 TV season.

This week, American Horror Story

Over the years, FX has launched itself as one of the premiere networks due to their phenomenal original programming.  The channel hit pay dirt in the 2011/2012 season with yet another fantastic FX original to add to its list of past successes.  Joining the likes of Nip/Tuck, Damages, and Justified, American Horror Story kept with the creepy and dark storylines and didn’t disappoint!  And now, with two seasons “in the books,” the writers and creators hope to score big… again.

Season one, American Horror Story, followed the stories of the Murder House…

Following a miscarriage and an affair, Vivien and Ben Harmon left Boston with their daughter, looking for a fresh start.  The family bought a gorgeous house in California, despite learning that the previous owners both died in the basement in an apparent murder-suicide.

The house was perfect for the Harmons; large enough for Ben (Dylan McDermott, The Practice) to open his private psychiatry practice, and outdated just enough to keep Vivien (Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights) busy redecorating.  At first daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) doesn’t understand why the family had to move across the country, but she soon adjusted after meeting her father’s new patient and fellow “cutter” (Tate, played by Evan Peters).

The Murder House… aka The Harmon’s New Residence..

Not long after moving into the new home, the neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves: Constance (Academy Award winner, Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide. Constance warned Vivien that Addy had always been attracted to the Harmon’s new home and had the tendency to walk in as she pleased, but failed to disclose that she too had a long history with the house.

Next, Vivien met Moira, the house’s former housekeeper.  After briefly visiting with Moira, Vivien decided to re-hire her to help tend to the house.  But here’s the creepy part – Vivien saw Moira as an older woman (played by Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), but her adulterous husband saw Moira as a young and sexy maid (played by Alexandra Breckenridge, Dirt).

Following a home invasion of crazy people, reenacting a previous murder that allegedly took place in her house in the 1960s, Vivien decided to hop on board a tour bus that stopped outside her new home to learn the history of the house—The Murder House.

Season one brought us The Gimp…

The house was built in the early 1900s by a Dr. Charles Montgomery for his wife, Nora.  Suffering from a down economy, the doctor performed abortions inside the house for extra money.  It was not long before an angry family member of one of Charles’ patients kidnapped and murdered his son.

In the 1960s, a group of sorority girls lived in the house.  Maria, a devout Christian, answered the door to find a bleeding man on the front porch.  She brought him inside and called upstairs for the house nurse to help—but it was a set-up.  The man and his friends drowned the nurse, and hog tied and brutally murdered Maria.

In the 1970s, the house was vacant and a set of red-headed twin tweens enjoyed vandalizing the property.  Young Adelaide warned the two to not go inside, but they ignored her and continued to break lights and wreak havoc on the house.  After entering the basement, the two boys were murdered.

The stories continued… and the murders continued over the years; thus the nickname, the Murder House.

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 with potential for more.

But unlike most television dramas, season two brought something fresh—no more Murder House.  Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took season two in an entirely different direction.  Together, they created American Horror Story: Asylum.

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).

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).

The story was also completely different.  Instead of the Murder House, we had Briarcliff—the mental hospital/insane asylum—where again, it seemed no one ever really escapes.  Unlike the first season, which took place in the present, season two took place in the 1960s for the most part.  Instead of the theme of infidelity like in season one, season two focused 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.

Asylum brought us Bloody Face…

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.

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.

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.

News of the third season pickup thrilled me; but left me wondering what we, the television audience, could expect with a new year of AHS.  And then I saw the story’s new “home” of sorts…

American Horror Story: Coven

Coven?  Are you kidding me?  We get witches?  Oh, heck yes!

Not only that, but a few of our favorites are back!  Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe return… as do a few of season one’s veterans we missed or barely saw in season two: Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Denis O’Hare.  One name is missing, I notice, and this makes me sad… Zachary Quinto.  Fingers crossed he at least stops by the Coven for a second or two.

We also have some new faces joining the cast… some really familiar faces: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Patti LuPone, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Grey Damon, and Mare Winningham.

After seeing what the writers and creators were capable of in the first two years, I will be one of the first to press play on my DVR October 9th when American Horror Story: Coven premieres on FX.

It’s for this reason (and all those mentioned above), that I must award the entire American Horror Story series with the GTV rating… even though I clearly enjoyed the first season more than the second.

Bottom line –  FX 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.

What do you think—will you watch American Horror Story: Coven?  Did you watch the first two seasons of AHS?  Did you prefer season one or season two?  I’d love to hear from you!

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…

New to TV – Fall 2013 (Part One)

It’s that time of year again… the fall television schedule is here!  And as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.

Some of the series have promise, while others may flop—but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, we’re mixing it up with comedy and drama…

*****

Sleepy Hollow

FOX Summary: Ichabod Crane and Detective Abbie Mills battle forces, including the Four Horseman, brought back to life in the town of Sleepy Hollow.

After 250 years in a “dead” slumber, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) returns to the town of Sleepy Hollow.  During an interrogation by local authorities, he remembers last working for General George Washington.  He reveals Washington ordered him to kill a man, a mission he accomplished by beheading the target.

Not really knowing what to think, the local police department partners Ichabod with Detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), hoping the two will work together to solve a series of bizarre events.  After all, Ichabod isn’t the only one to rise from the dead in Sleepy Hollow…

But in order to succeed, the two must first uncover all of the clues left behind by our country’s founding fathers, unlocking a century’s old mystery.

From the writers and producers of Star Trek (2009 and 2013), the series also stars Orlando Jones (the 7 UP guy) and John Cho (Harold from the Harold and Kumar movies).

We’re a day late with this one… Sleepy Hollow actually premiered last night on FOX.  But don’t worry; if you missed the pilot, it will re-air this Friday, September 20th.  Be sure to check the local listings.

*****

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

FOX Summary: Jake Peralta, a talented, but carefree police detective, and his eclectic colleagues get a rude awakening when the precinct hires an uptight captain, who’s dead set on turning the poorly functional team into one of the best ones in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is something kind of new… at least to my generation… it’s a show about cops (okay, that aspect is not new to TV), only this one is supposed to be funny.  It’s a sitcom, not the average police procedural.  And while this team of detectives will solve crimes, they hope to make us laugh along the way.

The star, Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), mentioned in a TV interview that his new comedy has been likened to Barney Miller.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

In addition to Samberg’s Detective Peralta character, the series also stars: Andre Braugher (Glory, City of Angels, Men of a Certain Age) as the new captain; Stephanie Beatriz as Detective Diaz, the tough, smart, and scary one; Joe Lo Truglio (Role Models, Wanderlust) as Detective Boyle, the klutzy one; Melissa Fumero (One Life to Live) as Detective Santiago, the one who’s always trying to prove she’s tough; and Terry Crews (Arrested Development, Idiocracy, the Old Spice Commercials) as Sergeant Jeffords, the one who works hard and takes his job seriously.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 17th on FOX.

*****

Dads

FOX Summary: A pair of well-off business partners, who have been best friends since childhood, are left scouring for whatever space they can get to maintain sanity when their fathers pack up and move into their places, leaving them exasperated.

Warner (Giovanni Ribisi from TV’s My Two Dads, Friends, and many major motion pictures) and Eli (Seth Green from TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and motion pictures, including The Italian Job and Can’t Hardly Wait) run a successful video gaming company.  They’re young, lucrative, and have fun with what they do.  But when their dads decide to move in with them (and in Warner’s case, with his wife, too), their lives are turned upside down.

From the previews, Dads actually does look funny… in a raunchy and sometimes inappropriate humor kind of way.  Not to mention, I feel Giovanni Ribisi does NOT do enough anymore.  I’m excited to see him back on TV.  His character’s dancing to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” was a Ted highlight for me…

The new sitcom also stars: Martin Mull (Clue) as Warner’s dad; Peter Riegert (Animal House) as Eli’s dad; Vanessa Lachey (MTV’s Total Request Live) as Warner’s wife; and Brenda Song (Disney’s The Suite Life series) as Eli’s and Warner’s assistant.

Oh, and Dads is produced by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted).

Dads premieres tonight, Tuesday, September 17th on FOX.

*****

The Blacklist

NBC Summary: Ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington has been one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives, though he has decided to mysteriously surrender himself to new FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen, a woman he seems to have no connections with at all.

First, the “seems to have no connections with at all” tells me that Reddington and Keen will have some connection.  So, I’m expecting that twist at some point down the road…

That said, The Blacklist looks really good.

Known for his brokering deals with terrorists around the world, fugitive “Red” Reddington (James Spader from the ‘80s movies Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, and Mannequin, as well as the hit TV series Boston Legal) shocks the FBI when he turns himself in.  In exchange for something, I’m not sure what… maybe a lighter sentence, no death penalty, something… he offers up his “blacklist,” a list of terrorists and criminals that only he knows about.

There’s only one catch—he’ll only work with one woman (Elizabeth Keen, played by Megan Boone from the short-lived Law & Order: Los Angeles).

Now, I remember the a-hole characters Spader played in Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, and Mannequin… he was great in those roles.  He was even better as the arrogant, yet intelligent and successful lawyer in Boston Legal… when he wasn’t lassoing in his good buddy, Denny Crane.  But as a straight up bad guy?  I bet Mr. Spader will be beyond good and I can’t wait to see his performance.

The new drama also stars Harry Lennix (Dollhouse), Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland), and Ryan Eggold (the more recent 90210, not the original).

The Blacklist premieres Monday, September 23rd on NBC.

*****

Hostages

CBS Summary: When a talented and prominent DC surgeon is handpicked to perform an operation on the President of the United States, a rogue FBI agent takes her family hostage and demands that she assassinate the president during surgery. 

Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette from The Sixth Sense and The United States of Tara), the surgeon scheduled to operate on the President of the United States, realizes her worst nightmares when her family is taken hostage… by one of the best FBI hostage negotiators in the country, Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott from The Practice, Dark Blue, and American Horror Story).

The negotiation Carlisle is offering Sanders?  Kill the president or her family dies.  But while she loves her family, she refuses to cooperate and challenges her family’s captors… until one of them breaks.

After watching McDermott play a somewhat troubled husband with issues in American Horror Story, a d-bag in The Campaign, and a rogue agent in Olympus Has Fallen, I can’t wait to watch him in Hostages…  he’s really good at playing the creepy, good-looking bad guy.

The new drama/thriller also stars: Tate Donovan (Damages, Deception) as Brian, the good doctor’s husband; Billy Brown (Sons of Anarchy, Dexter) as Archer; Sandrine Holt (24, House of Cards) as Maria; Rhys Coiro (Entourage) as Kramer; and James Naughton (Ally McBeal, Gossip Girl) as President Kincaid.

Hostages premieres Monday, September 23rd on CBS.

*****

Mom

CBS Summary: A newly sober single mother, trying to get her life back in order and put her past mistakes behind her, is challenged in her attempts to stay positive when her estranged mother, a recovering alcoholic, suddenly reappears in her life. 

Christy (Anna Faris from the Scary Movie franchise, Waiting, Just Friends, The House Bunny, etc…) is just trying to get by… but she hasn’t had it easy.  She found herself pregnant as a teenager; she dropped out of high school; she turned to the bottle, of the adult beverage kind; and she’s reminding herself very much of someone she does not want to be—her mother (Allison Janney from The West Wing).

But now Christy is trying to straighten up her life, despite the return of her selfish and crazy mother.  She’s doing her best to ensure her teenage daughter does not continue down the path she did, but it’s proving a lot more difficult than she imagined.  Throw in the fact her “baby daddy” is still hanging around AND her boyfriend appears to be married to another woman, and Christy’s life may not be as easy to clean up and manage as she hoped it would be.

Mom premieres Monday, September 23rd on CBS.

*****

If I had to rank these in order of which one I’m most looking forward to, I’d put Sleepy Hollow at number one.  The Blacklist probably comes in second with Hostages following closely behind at number three.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth (last) places have to go to Mom, Dads, and Brooklyn Nine-NineEach of these sitcoms stars someone I love to watch and laugh along with; however, fresh sitcoms don’t really last these days, so I’m not putting too much stock in any of them until I’ve seen a few episodes…    

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Original Vs. Remake – Friday the 13th (2009)

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 horror classic, Friday the 13th.  After all, today is Friday the 13th!!

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

A group of young adults is terrorized by a killer at Crystal Lake and the nearby deserted summer camp.

Before I begin, let me first mention that I love Friday the 13th—not just the movie franchise—but the actual date itself.  But when I think about it, maybe I love it when a Friday lands on the thirteenth of a month because I automatically associate the day as a scary day because of the horror movie and its subsequent sequels.  Regardless, I’m a fan…  When I see that a particular Friday actually falls on the thirteenth, I hit the television and search immediately for a Friday the 13th marathon.  Sadly, not many stations actually take the opportunity to air an all-day and all-night marathon of Jason Voorhees movies; and if I ever run a TV station, this will be one of my first orders of business.

Friday the 13th is a classic and Catie said it best in her blog post discussing the original—if anyone considers themselves to be a horror buff and they have not seen this movie, shame on them.  Because of this movie, there have been many instances in real life where I have felt uncomfortable.  Take for instance when I stayed at a week-long Athletic Training Camp at Prude Ranch in high school… I heard noises outside my cabin… and I really didn’t want to shower out there (or anytime I go to a lake – one never knows what or who’s lurking in that dirty water).  Or when I camped overnight at Palo Duro Canyon in college… I heard noises in the dry, dead brush all around us the entire time.

Thanks a lot, Jason.

See. Now you’re stuck out in the water with a crazy man wearing a mask on the shoreline. What are you going to do now? Die.

One might ask, if the 1980 film is so great, why remake it?  Well, I don’t feel Friday the 13th (2009) is an actual remake… it’s more a re-envisioning of the first few films in the franchise.  The writers did a fantastic job creating a somewhat new story all its own, while still incorporating many elements of the other films and the classic horror movie “rules.”

Let’s talk about the similarities—elements that are required in order to make a Friday the 13th movie complete:

The Curse of Camp Crystal Lake:

It all started in 1980, when innocent camp counselors worked to open an old camp site; a camp that had been closed after a young boy, Jason Voorhees, drowned in the lake.  How did Jason drown?  Two camp counselors that were supposed to watch him decided to have sex instead. Devastated by her son’s death, Jason’s mother took matters into her own hands to ensure the camp didn’t open again—to protect other children from counselors who were more interested in their summer shenanigans than watching the children.  One by one, she stalked the unaware teenagers, placing blame on each of them for her son’s death.  Mrs. Voorhees managed to brutally murder each counselor—all except for one.   Alice managed to escape Mrs. Voorhees’ murderous rampage and turned the tables on the crazed mother.  In what began the true Friday the 13th style, Alice decapitated Mrs. Voorhees with a machete. Thus, we have the Curse of Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason, the mask, and the machete:

Jason Voorhees remains one of the most frightening characters today.  He’s gigantic, has super strength, obtains supernatural abilities, and isn’t afraid to kill.  He always has his machete, but he will also never shy away from bows and arrows, spears, pitchforks, or chainsaws—anything that will cut right through his victims.

The music:

Ki ki ki, ma ma ma – The dreadful, eerie, creepy music.  There have been many debates over what the actual sounds of the Jason music are.  The ‘ki’ sound comes from the word ‘kill’ and the ‘ma’ sound from ’mommy’—a line in the original movie spoken by Mrs. Voorhees in her child’s voice: “Kill her mommy!”

The killings:

Even the murders mirror classic Jason killings from a few of the earlier movies:  a machete chop through the head; a machete stab through the chest and into a tree; an arrow through the head; a metal hook through the throat; a towel rack and an ax through the back; and a fireplace stoker through the eye.  Okay; it’s been a while since I’ve seen all of the Jason movies, but all of these kills at least seemed familiar… since today is Friday the 13th, hopefully I’ll find a marathon so I can confirm that all of these tactics have indeed previously taken the lives of other teenagers standing in Jason’s way.

The re-envisioning also incorporates a few of the franchise’s key moments: a shrine to Jason’s mother with her decapitated head as the centerpiece, showing his love and dedication to her, and also Jason’s finding an old hockey mask to cover his disfigured face.  We also see the classic horror elements that Catie listed in her post: the prior “evil” events at Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, and the fact that help is not coming.

Party… and Die. Jason’s Rules.

Next, let’s go over the horror movie “rules” present in Friday the 13th (2009) just in case someone isn’t quite familiar:

  1. Don’t show your breasts.  Show your breasts, and die.
  2. Don’t have sex.  Everyone knows that the second a couple fornicates, they die.
  3. Don’t drink or do drugs.  Intoxicate yourself in any way, and die.

Now, let’s switch gears and discuss cast and characterization.

Catie mentioned that the cast of the original was primarily a group of relatively unknown actors.  One of Jason’s victims back in 1980 may not have been well known then, but he’s a huge Hollywood star today—Kevin Bacon.  How many times have we seen someone’s starring role in a slasher film actually launch their career?  But I digress…

Unlike the original, the 2009 version stars many familiar faces: Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), Danielle Panabaker (Shark), Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist), Travis Van Winkle (Transformers), and Willa Ford (ex-wife to hockey super-star, Mike Modano and former Dancing with the Stars contestant).  Each of these actors and actresses can be described as easy on the eyes, or eye candy—a feature that doesn’t hurt when deciding which movie to go see…

And while the casting can affect whether or not I’m interested in seeing the movie, the characterization determines whether or not I enjoy the movie—usually.  In the case of horror films and slashers, I usually can’t empathize with many of the characters.  In other words, I don’t mind the fact that I know each and every one of them are about to be hacked into pieces.  However, I can list four characters in Friday the 13th (2009) that I actually liked:

  • Clay, the hero—the good guy on a mission to find his missing sister and protect as many as he can in the meantime.
  • Jenna, the nice girl—the girl with substance, unlike her partying friends, who wants to help others and not only protect herself.
  • Whitney, the damsel—the girl who, even though held captive, plays her captor like a fiddle to prolong her survival.
  • Jason, the killer—the poor, lost soul who wants to follow his mother’s orders (“Kill for mother”), protect his land (“They must be punished, Jason”), and be left alone (“We just want to be left alone, and so does he”).  He may be a serial killer, but viewers see a side of Jason we’ve never seen before… more of a “why” he does what he does.

As usual, Michael Bay’s production does not disappoint.  That’s right—Michael Bay.  Many associate his name with major motion picture action and drama masterpieces (Transformers, Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, etc…), but he also co-owns the production house responsible for so many of our favorite remakes  (A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a previous Original versus Remake feature, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  Mr. Bay may be one of my favorite producers in Hollywood now simply for this reason.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of the crazed, movie-goers that attended the premiere of Friday the 13th on Friday, February 13, 2009.  How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to see a Friday the 13th film on Friday the 13th?  I couldn’t… so I coaxed my guy into taking me by playing the Valentine/birthday card.  While he tolerated it (he’s not into slashers and horror like I am), the film didn’t disappoint this Friday fan.  I enjoyed all of the classic elements of the older versions, as mentioned above, but especially and most recognizably the ending—Jason’s resurrection after being buried in the water, from which he rises and grabs a survivor before the screen fades to black…

Did you jump?  I sure did!  Now that’s my kind of ending…

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the “remake” of Friday the 13th?  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! 

Happy Friday the 13th!  And remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.