Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Following

With 2013 coming to an end, and the new winter 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 show that I am looking forward to returning in the 2014 TV season.

And one that I am most excited about?  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.

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 in 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, who 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

As the pilot begins, we learn immediately that Carroll has escaped from prison and Hardy was 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 flashback shows us that 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 investigation.  Hardy had visited her on multiple occasions for help in tracking down the killer and she unknowingly led him in the direction of her own 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; Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz) as FBI agent Mason; and Warren Cole (Common Law) as Roderick.

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—they are twin brothers!  Just a tad bit of trivia…

Oh, and if it’s even possible to fall in love with a bad guy, Roderick is that man.  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 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, steamed broccoli, and a glass of fine red wine.

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

And just when you think the story has wrapped up, as implied during the season one finale, they leave us with just a little taste of more to come…  I can’t wait to see what The Following has in store for us in the new season!  And with almost an entirely new cast, including Connie Nielsen (Gladiator and Basic), James McDaniel (NYPD Blue), Jessica Stroup (the newer version of 90210), and Keith Carradine (Dexter and Damages)!

The Following returns in a two night event this January (Sunday the 19th and Monday the 20th).  Why we’ve had to wait so long is beyond me.  But I’ve waited this long and I can wait a few more weeks…

Oh, and I just thought the Edgar Allan Poe masks were creepy in season one.  The Joe Carroll masks in the season two commercials are even worse!

What do you think?  Have you watched The Following?  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…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Originals

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Today I’m jumping in with one of my most anticipated shows of the season—The Originals.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of the supernatural on TV.  Since the conclusion of Charmed and Buffy, I found a small void in my television viewing that needed to be filled.  Luckily for me, and the rest of the female population, we did have one program to keep us entertained in the meantime—Supernatural—but I’m greedy and wanted more.  Which is why when the CW launched The Vampire Diaries, I immediately set my DVR.

To me, there are three main characters of The Vampire Diaries: Elena Gilbert, Stefan Salvatore, and Damon Salvatore.  Now for whatever reason, I’ve never been an Elena or a Stefan fan.  However, Damon caught my eye and captured my heart from the get go.

Then there’s also the supporting cast—Matt, Jeremy, Tyler, Bonnie, and Caroline—all of whom I find more enjoyable than Stefan and Elena.  Heck, even a few of the late-comers won me over more than the two “stars” ever have.  But before I go any further, let me add that just because I don’t like the Stefan and Elena characters, doesn’t mean I haven’t appreciated their performances, especially Nina Dobrev’s.  She’s brought tears to my eyes more times than I can count.

But as the seasons roll by, the same remains true: I find myself still preferring everyone BUT Elena and Stefan—even the “bad” vamps (Katherine, Rebekah, and the super-sexy Klaus).

King Klaus!

Klaus…

We first met Klaus (played by Joseph Morgan) during season two of TVD and watched the bad-boy vamp as he killed Elena’s and Jeremy’s Aunt Jenna right in front of us.  Bad, right?  Just flat out mean!  So why do I love the character so much?

Because over the seasons, like many of the other characters on TVD, Klaus has evolved, building a stronger individual arc and making viewers, like me, appreciate him more than I already did.

Klaus—the evil Original with the sexy accent… born a werewolf but cursed by magic to the immortal life (vampirism).  I’ve actually wanted to hug Klaus multiple times over the years (and he was supposed to be the BIG EVIL of the show).  Poor Klaus is so misunderstood and he really does let his feelings get the best of him, like any one of the multiple times he has come to the realization (after the fact) that Caroline is only playing his feelings in order for her to get what she and the group needs from him.  And Big Bad Klaus really does love his family, as evident when he witnessed his brother’s death at the Gilbert house last season… even if he has previously daggered them (which in essence puts them in a deep sleep until the dagger is removed) so they wouldn’t interfere with his plans.

❤ Klaus

But here’s where it gets tricky: The Vampire Diaries can’t really be all about Klaus, now can it?  Not when Elena, Stefan, and Damon are the main characters of the show.  And not when the supporting cast already has as many characters as it does.  That’s a lot of screen time to share.  So what’s the next best thing for Klaus?

Give Klaus an opportunity at his own show!  Originally airing as an episode of The Vampire Diaries on April 24th, viewers caught a glimpse of what it would be like having Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah outside Mystic Falls.  Instead of hanging out at all the same locations as our TVD kids, this backdoor pilot took us to New Orleans.   This then potential spinoff followed our favorite Originals and introduced us to a few new vamps, witches, and humans, as well as brought along Tyler’s seductive werewolf friend, Haley (the beautiful Phoebe Tonkin).

Queen Haley?

Within a day of the backdoor pilot airing on the CW, The Originals was given the green light.  I watched it.  And I liked it.  It was a breath of fresh air, stepping away from boring Elena and Stefan.  The pilot had it all—Klaus’ old vampire running mates, witches and their spells, and the promise of a hybrid baby.

Oh, and I almost forgot—King Klaus.

The only thing missing was my beloved Damon.

Marcel better watch his back…

So how did Klaus make his way back to his old stomping grounds?  He was summoned by a witch.  There’s only one problem:

Marcel, Klaus’ former protégé…

Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) stepped in when Klaus left and now he runs New Orleans.  One of his rules?  No witch can use magic.  And when he learned of this particular witch casting spells, the one who unbeknownst to him summoned Klaus, Marcel killed her in the street in front of all to see (including Klaus) to set an example of her.

And now that Klaus is back, Marcel has no intentions of relinquishing his power to his former “father.”  But that’s okay because Klaus has no intentions of working with Marcel to get it back.  He’ll take it the Klaus way—by whatever means necessary.

That, plus the witches are holding hostage Klaus’ first hybrid baby (Haley is pregnant with “a magical miracle baby”).  While Klaus is putting up a tough front and acting as if he doesn’t care about the baby, his siblings (Elijah, played by Daniel Gillies, and Rebekah, played by Claire Holt) know all too well that all Klaus has ever wanted was a family.  And power.  And loyalty.

After having seen The Originals first episode, I awarded it the MacTV rating.  For a pilot, it really wasn’t all that slow, nor did it throw too much information at the viewers all at once.  I’m sure that’s because the characters were already developed through their seasons on The Vampire Diaries, but still—it was a bonus for a new program.

Now well into the season of the new series, I’m downgrading it just a bit to the JFTV rating.  This downgrade is not because I don’t like the series.  I do.  The Originals is a fresh escape from TVD.  But I am behind and I don’t have the urge to catch up right away—even though I know I will dig back in eventually, just like the classic junk food items we try to avoid.  After all, it has vampires, witches, and werewolves—Oh My!

What do you think—do you watch The Originals?  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…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Today I’m reviewing the first of the new fall 2013 television programs.  I’ve been busy watching the freshman series for the past month, taking notes and waiting through a few episodes before casting any rave reviews or throwing stones, whichever might be applicable to the particular show.

So why not jump in with one of the most anticipated shows of the season—Marvel’s 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.

Agent Coulson

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 that after he was killed in action, he was 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)—or FitzSimmons as they are referred to on the show—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.

Agent May doing what she does…

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

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.  And while she may have initially joined to get the inside scoop on S.H.I.E.L.D., she learns to love the organization and her co-workers.

Simmons, Fitz, and Skye

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.

Agent Ward

And it couldn’t really be a “superhero” television series without some great special effects and high-tech gadgets, now could it?  Because S.H.I.E.L.D. has all that too…

In case someone hasn’t watched an episode, here are some terms that might come in handy to know:

“The Bus” is actually a massive, state-of-the-art aircraft that serves as the agents’ mobile command station that was a gift of goodwill from Director Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) after Coulson was “killed” before the Battle of New York (from the Avengers movie).

“084” is an object of unknown origin that the team investigates to determine whether or not it is useful or a threat to the human species.

All-in-all, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does not disappoint and ABC has already given it a full season order.  I honestly believe it’s great television for all ages, something that is very rare in today’s market.  And it’s for this reason that I must award it with the MacTV rating.  After all, adults and children alike enjoy Mac-N-Cheese, right?

What do you think—have you watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  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…

Why It’s NOT Worth a Watch Wednesday – Fall TV’s First Victims

The fall television season is here and I have spent the last month or so taking in the new TV programs.  I was having a difficult time deciding which show to review first, and then the network “gods” made it easy for me… they’ve already cancelled the first shows!

So today, I’m going to share which television programs are NOT worth a watch.

First up, Lucky 7.

I really wasn’t all that surprised that ABC axed Lucky 7 first.  Of all the new shows, it was one that piqued my interest the least.

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. 

The series starred a lot of relatively unknown actors, with no BIG name to fall back on, and the quick trailer airing on ABC didn’t really show all that much.  Was it just a drama?  Did it have mystery?  Was it supposed to be heartwarming?  Funny?

Who knows?  Obviously ABC didn’t want to give anyone the chance to figure it out because they cancelled it after only two episodes.

Next, we have 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. 

The sitcom starred: 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.

But I guess star power isn’t enough.

Nor was the fact that Jerry O’Connell was shirtless every opportunity he got (I did think this was kind of weird, but what can you do?).

I watched the only two episodes that aired of We Are Men and this comedy did make me laugh.  Even out loud at times.  But I guess TV audiences don’t want to watch a show about four single men out on the prowl, learning to take back their lives from messy divorces and breakups.

The next fall TV victim is Welcome to the Family.

NBC Summary: Dan and his wife, Caroline, were getting ready for the experience of having their daughter, Molly, move away for college; but then Molly and her boyfriend announce they’re having a baby and suddenly the two very different families have to get used to each other.

I heard from a lot of people that they didn’t really care for the concept of this TV series (teen pregnancy), especially not when I told them that the mother of the teenage girl was pregnant too.

But this sitcom was funny.  Laugh-out-loud funny.  My guy even watched this one with me, and actually put his handheld video game down to watch uninterrupted.  That’s a rare occasion for sitcoms in this house…

Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives) was hilarious.  I’ve never seen him in a comedy and his sarcasm and timing were perfect.  And as usual, Mary McCormack (The West Wing and In Plain Sight) was also great.  Mike O’Malley was also funny, in a role FAR from his character on Justified.  But similar to We Are Men, sometimes star power just isn’t enough.

And finally, we have Ironside.

NBC Summary: After having been shot in the line of duty and confined to a wheelchair, determined Detective Robert Ironside leads a custom-tailored team of elite investigators as they take on New York’s most infamous crimes.

This one really shocked and disappointed me.  But let me be clear: I hadn’t actually watched the episodes yet, which could be part of the problem, but I did have them all recorded on the DVR and I was looking forward to having a mini-marathon.  Now, it’s too late.

People were disappointed with the fact that the TV networks had even chosen to reboot this older television series… and I guess those early criticisms spoke loudly enough for NBC to drop the axe.  Shocking, considering shows like Hawaii Five-0 have done just fine for themselves (although it is rumored our favorite 5-0 officers are in trouble since CBS moved the series to Friday nights…).

But what can you do?

Are you shocked by any of these cancellations?  Which show/s do you think gets the axe next?  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…

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…

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Grimm

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, Grimm

Grimm follows Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) as he balances his life solving murders and learning that he comes from a long line of criminal profilers (Grimms) responsible for protecting the people of the world against the supernatural.

I watched Mr. Giuntoli back on the Road Rules/Real World challenge years ago… but he’s really growing on me as an actor. Detective Nick Burkhardt is pretty adorable. And he’s getting stronger… physically and as a character.

I first fell in love with the crime drama/dark fairy tale for a few reasons.  The attention to detail and fantastic one-liners in the pilot (about Little Red Riding Hood) hooked me immediately and to this day might still be my favorite episode.

The series began as a sorority girl departs from her house wearing a bright red hoodie and listening to the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” as she sets out for her morning jog through the woods.  While on her run, the girl spots an odd figurine positioned on a rock.  She stops to investigate when she is suddenly tackled by something with lightning fast speed.

Nick and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), drive out to the scene of the crime where they discover a jogger has been ripped apart in the woods.  The detectives assume an animal is responsible for the attack, although they can’t seem to locate any animal tracks—only boot tracks.

Nick and Hank solvin’ crimes… because that’s what they do.

Later that night, Nick returns home to discover his aunt has stopped by on a surprise visit.  After a cryptic, “we need to talk,” Nick and his aunt go for a walk and she begins to tell him that his family has a secret.  His parents didn’t die in an accident; they were murdered.  Why is she telling him this now?  She is dying, and the Grimm powers will pass to him in just a matter of days if they haven’t already.

Before she can tell him the complete story, Nick and his aunt are attacked by a Reaper of the Grimms.  Nick can’t believe his eyes and he opens fire on the monster, shooting him dead, but not before the attack renders his aunt unconscious.

Reeling from the day’s events, Nick walks into his aunt’s travel-trailer where he finds an arsenal of bizarre weapons and an ancient family book revealing his destiny.   All of this helps explain the event earlier in the day when he noticed a beautiful blonde walking down the street suddenly transform into nasty looking creature.

As most of us would with life-altering information such as this, Nick decides to keep his secret from his girlfriend (Juliette, played by Bitsie Tulloch) and his partner.  For now, anyway.

The fairy tale continues the next day when Nick and his partner are called to another crime scene.  This time, a younger girl has been kidnapped with the initials R.H.  Coincidence?

Monroe is my favorite. The character probably has the best lines, definitely the funniest, and Mr. Mitchell delivers them perfectly.

This is where Nick tracks down Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a reformed Big Bad Wolf.   Monroe can see Nick as a Grimm immediately, but he reluctantly agrees to help Nick understand the mythology.  Monroe also agrees to help track down the other Big Bad responsible for the little girl’s disappearance.  He drives Nick out to the woods, sticking his head out the window along the way, sniffing out the other Big Bad’s scent.  Afraid of what might happen if he gets too close, Monroe retreats as soon as they locate the cabin where his sense of smell has indicated the other Big Bad and little R.H. are located.  Nick then calls Hank out to the woods, but explains he didn’t call for any additional backup because he “already cried wolf once.”

Of course, Hank doesn’t understand how Nick tracked this man down, but he believes his partner when he overhears the suspect humming the exact same song that had been playing in the jogger’s ear buds from the first crime scene.  The take down ensues, little R.H. is rescued, and Grimm ends with the Marilyn Manson version of “Sweet Dreams” — I’ve got to know what’s inside you.

Let’s be honest—the song is what actually hooked me.  Not only is it a favorite (either rendition), but the chosen lyrics foreshadowed what the episode had in store for us.  Like I mentioned earlier, great attention to detail.

Captain Renard… so glad he got more involved in season two.

Now through two seasons, Grimm has aired more episodes and tackled fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Pied Piper, Rapunzel, The Queen Bee, and the Three Little Pigs.  The special effects and storylines are enticing; the use of Monroe in each episode to help Nick solve the case at hand is fun, and it is a bit heartwarming to see the two work together and develop a friendship between creature and Grimm; and the actual police procedural aspect of the story ranks up there with the other crime dramas on television today.

While I enjoyed the first year, season two really pulled me in.  Hank’s storyline… Nick’s and Juliet’s storyline, even though it annoyed me at first… the involvement of the captain (Sasha Roiz)… and the return of the hexenbiest (Claire Coffee).

Pretty nasty, right?

Since sitting on the hot plate after the pilot, the simmering water is now boiling and Grimm earns a MacTV rating.  The water is clearly hot enough for us to drop in the pasta; and now, I can’t wait for more of Grimm’s take on the classic fairy tales… bring on the creatures!

What do you think? Do you watch Grimm?  Which of the tales has been your favorite and why?  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…

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Survivor

The fall television season is right around the corner, which means one of my favorite reality programs is coming back—Survivor.

Now in its 27th season, Survivor follows tribe members (contestants of all races, ages, and backgrounds) as they battle it out to win immunity, hoping to Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast the other contestants.  They are isolated, usually at a beautiful tropical location with gnarly storm seasons, and they must build a shelter to survive.  During physical and mental competitions, the tribes earn rewards — flint for fire, fishing equipment, tarps, and luxury items (such as pillows and blankets — yeah, not very “luxury” by our definition, right?).  But no single prize is as great as the immunity idol.

The competitions aren’t the only obstacles standing in the way of the Ultimate Survivor winning the $1,000,000 cash prize.  The elements are intense, sometimes so brutal I don’t know how the contestants find the will to keep going.  And then there are the bugs.  The bugs are the number one reason why I could never play this game that I love.  Call me a pansy; call me what you will.  But I hate bugs — bugs that crawl; bugs that fly; bugs that breathe.  Period.  The number of bug bites on the contestants makes my skin crawl.

An example of a physical competition…

Fire is life in Survivor; without fire, even the water isn’t safe to drink.  I’m amazed every season at the number of contestants accepted onto the show who haven’t learned to master starting a fire using nothing but twigs and patience.

Everything considered, the most important aspect of playing Survivor is one’s ability to socialize — to form alliances.  Without the votes of the fellow tribe members, a contestant’s days on the island come to an end at tribal council (considering they don’t hold the immunity idol or a hidden immunity idol).

“Immunity is up for grabs!”

Of course, winning competitions over and over again does not guarantee the million dollar prize (does it, Colby?).  Aligning with the perfect partner/partners can carry someone all the way to the end.

Speaking of Colby Donaldson… Guns Up, Red Raiders!!

One of the best alliances of all time might just be Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich (now Mariano) in Survivor All-Stars.  The two were playing the game for the second time and formed what many considered to be an unlikely alliance, but one that took them both to the end.  Together they claimed the first and second place cash prizes, and later pocketed the ultimate prize when they married and started a family.  I actually think Survivor has been more successful with couples marrying than the Bachelor and Bachelorette.    But I digress…

Survivor’s “Godfather” — Boston Rob

Sometimes being the villain of the group also pays off.  How?  I don’t know, but we’ve seen it on multiple occasions.  Heck, I’ve even gone from despising a contestant one season to liking them later on (Coach, a.k.a. “The Dragon Slayer” had this effect on me, but it took him three seasons to do it).  Villains do rather well most of the time – Parvati, Russell Hantz, and even Boston Rob (yes, the same Rob Mariano as mentioned earlier.)  Russell was so evil that his own nephew didn’t want the other contestants to know he was related to him when he played on a later season.

Are these people really villains?  No, of course not.  But do they play the game of Survivor to win at all costs, no holds barred?  Yes, and quite well at that.

Hosted by the ever-adorable Jeff Probst, Survivor has earned multiple award nominations and won.  How is this possible, considering every season is practically the same only with new contestants in a different location?  Because somehow Mark Burnett, Probst and the producers keep it fresh.

Take the new season for instance… “Blood vs. Water.”   This year, the field of twenty will consist of ten previous contestants PLUS one of their friends or a family member.   Will blood prove to be thicker than a million dollars?  I mean, water?

I thought for sure Rupert would be my favorite (returning) player this year, but Kat (from Survivor: One World) is bringing along her hot boyfriend… Hayden Moss, winner of Big Brother 12!  Go, Hayden, Go!

All things considered, does Survivor earn a GTV rating?  No, but it is definitely a guilty pleasure and sits firmly as a MacTV program.  Survivor is one of my favorite reality shows.  I have never missed a season.  Never.  Call me crazy, but I literally get giddy as the clock inches closer and closer to 7pm CST on Wednesday nights.  It’s exciting.

Survivor returns Wednesday, September 18th.

What do you think? Do you watch Survivor?  Who’s your favorite contestant over the years?  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…