Spring Cleaning – 2014 Edition

Years ago, May sweeps meant that the television industry saved the best for last.  The networks broadcast non-stop, action packed, cliff-hanging storylines every night of the week, hoping to pull in the largest ratings of the year before announcing which shows would receive pink slips.

Time to Clean Up the DVR...

Time to Clean Up the DVR…

And while this still rings true for some series, times have changed (for the most part).  Today’s May sweeps ultimately means knowing which shows will return and which shows will be swept away before the season finales have all aired.

Recent years prove that no show is safe: many shows are done after only one season; some shows make it through the toddler years, a minimum of two or three seasons; some programs have aired for years, even decades with multi-generational loyal followers; and, sadly, some still await their destiny.

2014 is no different and television’s broom was very busy AGAIN this year….

*****

One & Done

Almost Human, The Assets, Back in the Game, Bad Teacher, Believe, Betrayal, The Crazy Ones, Crisis, Dads, Dracula, Enlisted, Friends with Better Lives, Growing Up Fisher, Hostages, Intelligence, Ironside, Killer Women, Lucky 7, The Michael J. Fox Show, Mind Games, Mixology, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Rake, Sean Saves the World, Star-Crossed, Super Fun Night, Surviving Jack, The Tomorrow People, Trophy Wife, We Are Men, and Welcome to the Family

Goodness! Is anything left on TV? Of all of these, the one that stings the most is Killer Women. But then again, nothing new on ABC really had a chance this year. I do believe they’re guilty of the most cancellations of any other channel.

*****

Terrible Twos & Threes

The Carrie Diaries, The Neighbors, Revolution, and Suburgatory

No real loss here as far as I’m concerned…

*****

Seasoned Veterans

Community, How I Met Your Mother, Nikita, Psych, and Raising Hope

Losing Psych really burns. Burns. Burns. Burns. But at least they closed out the series beautifully. And have left me with high hopes there will be a movie!

*****

Barely Escaping with their Lives

The Mentalist – whew! If you are anything like us, we were actually pulling for The Mentalist to be renewed. There was just something about this revamped season post-Red John that refreshed the series. A part of me wasn’t all that worried, considering rumors swirled stating a cable channel might pick it up if CBS had dropped the ax on it… but they didn’t, so it doesn’t really matter.

But back to rumors… I have heard that this next season will be the last; however, I can’t find anything to back that up. So who knows? I do appreciate when a network gives a show the head’s up, providing the writers and creators a chance to tie everything up with a pretty red bow.

*****

And speaking of that pretty red bow… not all chivalry is dead—some shows have earned advance notice that next season will be their last.  Thank you networks; thank you for allowing the writers to close out a series appropriately for the loyal fans.  This doesn’t happen all that often, just ask Law & Order.

White Collar – At least we will get six episodes that reveal how Peter is going to save Neal and how this criminal turned do-gooder and Fed will live happily ever after.

And probably an even bigger one for my family…

Justified – I don’t even want to think about this one. Much like I tried to ignore the fact Psych was ending this year. I understand the creators wanting to wrap this up, with Mr. Elmore Leonard’s passing and all. But what will I do without Raylan and Boyd?

Boyd and Raylan?

Next year’s final season will be rough. However, the season finale this year did give us a glimpse as to what the final season would entail… and let’s just say they’ve got a really good storyline brewing. Who will a root for? The good guy… Raylan? Or the best anti-hero on television… Boyd? I just don’t know!

*****

Seems a bit insane, doesn’t it?  What’s the moral of today’s blog?  Don’t get too attached to freshman television series… AND NO television show is safe from the “new” version of May sweeps.

Which of these cancellations came too soon as far as you’re concerned? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

 

 

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Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – 24: Live Another Day

That’s right; Jack is back!

And not just Jack.  Chloe O’Brian too.

A reboot of the very popular 24, 24: Live Another Day premiered Monday night and will consist of twelve episodes—more like a miniseries than an entirely new season.  And while fans are accustomed to the set up of each episode ticking down one hour in Jack’s crazy schedule, it is rumored we will have to adjust a tiny bit to the shorter series with a few hours skipped here and there. But Monday night was true to form—two consecutive hours in Jack Bauer’s hectic day trying to save the world… or in this case, the American president on foreign soil.

Besides Jack and Chloe, 24 produced many popular characters over the years.  And sadly, some of them died.  Heck, most of them…

President David Palmer

Curtis Manning – probably my favorite

Tony Almeida

Michelle Dessler

Bill Buchanan

Renee Walker

And even though he was hated by many, President Charles Logan.

But there are also the fan favorites that survived to see another day…

 Audrey Raines

Aaron Pierce

President Allison Taylor

Karen Hayes

Martha Logan

James Heller

Cole Ortiz

And last but not least, Kim Bauer.

And guess what? I was thrilled to see Audrey and her daddy, now President Heller, back as well in the new series. Not to mention, I fully expect to see at least a few other familiar faces through the 12-episode arc. But I guess we’ll see…

And like any new season, we have new faces (albeit familiar from other projects):

 Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order)

Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck)

And, Tate Donovan (Damages and Deception)

So, what about the premiere of 24: Live Another Day?

First, call me crazy. That’s right – crazy. It wasn’t until my guy, my family, and I started reminiscing about the old 24 that I realized just how much Jack yelled. It never dawned on me. But yeah, Jack yells a lot. Yet still, watching the new episode Monday night, I didn’t notice a lot of yelling…  am I crazy?  Did anyone else notice?  Or were you just as wrapped up in the fast-paced episode that you too didn’t hear a lot of yelling?

Secondly, my guy and I made a bet:

How many terrorists/bad guys/people will Jack fight/shoot/stab/blow up/etc?

I went with eight. It was a two-hour episode, which meant approximately forty minutes an hour, totaling eighty minutes of Jack. That’s one terrorist/bad guy/person every ten minutes.

My guy took the overs… as in more than eight.

He won, but not by much. I was surprised. I can’t remember the exact number, but it doesn’t matter—I lost and the action did not disappoint.

Nothing really did, disappoint that is, at least not as far as I’m concerned. I did have a few crooked people pegged from the get go, but that’s alright. The main storyline, at this point anyway, is a good one. And knowing the creators, there’s still a ton left we haven’t seen yet.

And I can’t wait for it all to unravel…

Did you watch 24: Live Another Day?  What did you think?  I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

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Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Still Unforgettable

Oh, the decisions made by the television networks today…

CBS aired a new program back in 2012—Unforgettable. By the end of the first season, the network cancelled it.

However, it seemed the network executives couldn’t quite forget about Unforgettable

That’s right… a network actually admitted (in a roundabout way) that they were wrong, or at least hasty, in one of their decisions.  And this doesn’t happen often—ever really—but CBS officially picked up Unforgettable for a second season last summer after canning it a little over twelve months earlier.

And now? Now Unforgettable is back for its third season!! It’s a crazy world we live in, I tell ya.

So, for the sake of today’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday post, we’re taking a look back at Unforgettable… a show that I honestly think keeps getting better with each passing season.

The CBS series stars Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as former Syracuse detective Carrie Wells.  Carrie remembers everything:  every moment and every aspect of every day, except for the murder of her sister when she was a child.   When asked to help the New York City police solve a crime that took place outside her apartment that she sort-of witnessed, Carrie is reunited with her ex beau and partner, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck).

After assisting with the one case, Carrie decides to join Al and the NYC force with one major goal—solve her sister’s murder.

The other detectives on the squad (Detective Mike Costello, played byMichael Gaston of The Mentalist, and Detective Nina Inara, played by Daya Vaidya from Robbery Homicide Division) aren’t quite sure what to think of Carrie; both react as if they think she is weird and don’t appear to want to get to know her on a more personal level.  At first.

But Detective Roe Sanders (Kevin Rankin from Trauma) actually takes an interest in Carrie; he’s amazed with her recall and often times tests her memory, trying to catch her in a slip.  This friendly banter prompts Carrie and Al to open up and share her history and the mystery surrounding her sister’s death with Sanders.

Toward the end of season one, Unforgettable added a TV superstar to the cast – Jane Curtin (Kate & Allie was one of my childhood favorites… and who doesn’t remember Ms. Curtin from SNL back in the day?).

Sadly, all of these characters (with the exception of Carrie, Al, and Jo) are now all gone. With the reboot of season two, the show’s creators went in a different direction with a new cast.

Now, Carrie and Al work for NYC’s Major Crime Division with an entirely new team. Led by Eliot Delson (Dallas Roberts, The Walking Dead), the two work alongside Jay Lee (James Hiroyuki Liao, Prison Break)—the man usually behind the computers—and Cherie Rollins-Murray (Tawny Cypress, Heroes).

Carrie Wells is the ideal detective; especially considering she’s the perfect study subject for a mystery writer as she recalls everything about a crime scene.  Additionally, I absolutely adore Dylan Walsh; while I like Poppy Montgomery (big fan of Without a Trace and love the red hair), I initially watched Unforgettable because of Dr. Sean McNamara (Walsh’s character from Nip/Tuck).

Then there’s the story… during the first season, the writers gave viewers not only the fresh case every week, typical of TV’s police procedurals, but also the ongoing serial mystery behind Carrie’s sister’s murder.  However, there was one downfall… the individual cases seemed a bit too predictable for me.  I personally don’t like to watch one-hour crime dramas only to have the “bad guy” figured out in the first ten or so minutes (my guy likes to call me a TV ninja; I’ve had to learn to keep my opinions to myself while watching police procedurals or I ruin it for him).

But don’t get me wrong; I still recorded every new episode the first year and usually watched Poppy and the boys within a week… and I remember thinking it was a shame the show was in danger of cancellation after the season finale.  Not to mention, I consider most crime dramas great writing research.

After the reboot in season two, I felt the storylines were a bit more enjoyable. And I must say, season three’s episodes are even better.  Really.  They are.

For this, I award the JFTV rating to Unforgettable—the early predictability aside, I wasn’t lying when I said season three is the best yet… and I’m hooked like a fiend.

Do you watch Unforgettable?  What do you think – is season three the best yet?  I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

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Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The End of Warehouse 13

Last week, one of my favorite SyFy series returned for its final season. I like it when I network actually lets a show’s creators know in advance that the series is set to end, giving them a chance to wrap everything up nicely with a big red bow. So, for the sake of today’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday post, I’m revisiting an older post from 2011, featuring Warehouse 13. And I’m asking you—how will it end?

Throughout history, government agencies have built secret warehouses around the world to house and protect magical artifacts.  These warehouses are overseen by the Secret Service and a group known as the Council of Regents.

Warehouse 13, the current warehouse designed by a team including Thomas Edison, is hidden deep in the mountains outside of the fictional town of Univille, South Dakota, also known as the middle of nowhere.  As a part of their cover, the Secret Service agents claim to work for the IRS, and therefore the townsfolk snub them.  After all, who likes the IRS?

Dr. Arthur “Artie” Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) is the agent-in-charge of the warehouse.  Artie has a hard time trusting others with the artifacts, and he is oftentimes frustrated with his two lead agents, Myka and Pete.  Artie isn’t very personable, although he does have an ongoing crush on a visiting doctor played by Lindsay Wagner, who comes once a year to remove his regenerating appendix (it’s a magical show, remember?).

Viewers learn that Artie’s mysterious past includes his unknowingly trading magical artifacts to the Soviet Union in exchange for the release of his imprisoned family members, an act that was considered treason by the United States.  Once he turned himself in, the US government assigned him to the warehouse where he has been ever since.

Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) is the traditional, play by the rules, Secret Service agent working at the warehouse.  Like most women, Myka pays great attention to detail, and her professional style clashes with her goofy partner, Pete.  On a personal note, Myka has a pet ferret (that she named Pete) and she loves Twizzlers. A girl after my own heart…

What “special power” does Myka bring to the table? She has a photographic memory.

Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) is the other side of the partnership.  He’s a former Marine and a recovering alcoholic, yet he still has a goofy and fun side.  Pete loves sports, collects comic books, and craves junk food.

What “special power” does Pete bring to the table? He’s a master at reading lips and he can sense when something bad is about to happen.

The two partners share a cute relationship—it’s clear that they love each other, but more in a brotherly/sisterly kind of way.  Pete dated the town veterinarian for a little while (until an artifact possessed her and she tried to kill him), while Myka managed to kiss the boy she crushed on in high school at her reunion.  Other than that, the Warehouse 13 agents rarely have time for any romantic interludes.

The Warehouse also employs Claudia (Allison Scagliotti), a young techie-genius who went to work for the team after breaking into the warehouse… or at least we’re led to believe that was the first Artie and the Board of Regents had hears about Claudia, until recently, that is.

A few other recurring characters include: Mrs. Frederic (C.C.H. Pounder), the director of the warehouse and liaison between the agents and regents; Helena “H.G.” Wells (Jaime Murray), an agent from the late 1800’s, who bounces back and forth between good and evil; and, Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), an agent brought in after Myka temporarily resigned.

A huge bonus to working at the warehouse is the access to very cool gadgets.  The agents communicate with one another visually and telephonically via a “Farnsworth” in lieu of cell phones.  Instead of using real guns, the agents fire a “Tesla Gun”—a weapon that shoots lightning bolts and stuns the bad guys instead of killing them.  The agents also use caution when in public by capturing the magic of the artifacts by sealing them inside metallic “flash” bags.

Warehouse 13 has featured many historical artifacts throughout the seasons, including: Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, Lizzie Borden’s compact, Marilyn Monroe’s hair brush, Harry Houdini’s wallet, Marie Antoinette’s guillotine blade (well, the one that killed her), Ben Franklin’s lightning rod, and Edgar Allan Poe’s quill pen.

Not personally big on most shows featured on SyFy, I find Warehouse 13 very enjoyable.  I read somewhere that W13 has over 50% female viewers, maybe for the very same reasons that I watch—it’s fun, magical, and an escape from reality.  That’s why Warehouse 13 earns the JFTV rating… it’s like the bag of potato chips that we just can’t put down.

Are you a Warehouse 13 fan? Is there an artifact throughout history that you’d like to get your hands on? And if so, what magical power do you think it might possess?  

Better yet, how do you think the series will end? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

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Not Just a St. Patty’s Day Food – Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patrick’s Day means a couple of things in our house… it’s a day to wear green or get pinched, a lot; it’s a day to treat ourselves to a green beer or two, or maybe a Guinness; and it’s a day to enjoy one of our favorite Irish dishes—Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Corned Beef and CabbageActually, tons of families eat this popular dinner to celebrate St. Patty’s Day… but why limit ourselves with this delish dish only once a year? Corned Beef and Cabbage is not only yummy, but it’s easy to make and it is actually very healthy for us… not to mention, it makes a ton, perfect for leftovers. And who doesn’t like leftovers?

Now, I’m sure there are multiple ways to make Corned Beef and Cabbage, but here’s how we do it:

First, what’s needed:

Corned Beef Roast, prepackaged with a seasoning packet (any size, depends on how much you want)
2-4 Cans of beer (any flavor, we usually use whatever domestic is in the fridge… like Miller Lite)
Bag of baby carrots, washed and dried
Bag of red potatoes, washed, quartered, and punctured with a fork
Head of cabbage
Extra pickling spice

Now let’s cook:

First, you’ll need a roaster. It can be a disposable foil roaster, a heavy-duty oven roaster, or a countertop roaster oven.   Thanks to my parents, we use a GE countertop roaster oven. It’s amazing how much cooler my kitchen is when cooking a dish all day in the countertop oven versus using my gas oven for hours…

Pour the beer in the roaster oven until the bottom is covered. The quantity of beer will depend on the size of the roaster.

Place the Corned Beef Roast—fat down—in the oven with a tiny bit of the natural juice from the package.

Sprinkle the packaged seasoning over the meat and then add some extra pickling spice as desired.

Pour another beer or two over the meat. The meat doesn’t need to be covered, but we usually want the beer level to be about half an inch up on all sides of the roast. If the liquid dissolves while cooking, add water. But in using so much beer, we rarely (if ever) have to add water while cooking.

Corned BeefCover with foil (if using a foil roaster) or lid and cook at 350 degrees for a couple of hours… usually thirty minutes per pound works great.

Sprinkle in the carrots and potatoes in the juice surrounding the roast after about two hours. Cover again with the foil or the lid and cook for another hour or two.

Corned Beef, Carrots, and PotatoesTurn the heat down to 250 degrees. At this point, I usually puncture the carrots and potatoes with a fork.  If hard, obviously they need to cook longer.

About an hour before you’re ready to eat, core the cabbage and cover the entire meal with the cabbage. Season with pepper, cover, and cook.

Corned Beef and CabbageServe with toasted pumpernickel bread and butter. This is some serious yum here, folks.

Enjoy!

What do you think?  Is this recipe worth a try?  Have any other holiday recipes that are good year-round to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

 

 

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Psych-O for Psych – What I Will Miss Most…

If not apparent from my back-to-back-to-back blogs about Psych this week, I love this show and consider myself a Psycho-O—a die-hard Psych fan.

Not only do the writers and creators outdo themselves with each and every episode, ensuring craftily designed mysteries and packing the show full of pop culture puns and tributes, they never forget to make the audience laugh. Heck, even the commercials and promos kill me every time I see them, even when I’ve seen the same one over and over again. Unlike the Hollywood movie trailers that include all of the funniest moments in the sneak peeks, one can always expect to laugh from start to finish when Shawn, Gus, Lassie, Jules, and Henry take to the screen.

So today, I’ve decided to share what I will miss most after Psych airs its series finale tonight…

1. The special intros & theme songs dedicated to particular episodes.

First of all, the Psych theme song makes me happy. Period. If I’m not bobbing my head along to the music, I might be dancing. Just sayin’.

Every once in a while, Psych adjusts the opening theme song to appropriately fit the night’s episode. As mentioned in my Top 15 Psych episodes posts, “Dual Spires” was one of those episodes – and the show’s creators invited Julee Cruise to sing the opening (that’s right! She also sang the Twin Peaks’ opening).

Another good one? From the “High Top Fade Out” episode in season four.

2. All the popular ’80s and ’90s guest stars and pop culture references.

There are just too many to list here…

3. Looking for the pineapple in every episode.

I’ve even learned to look for the pineapple in everyday life. Just like this one time at dinner when it arrived by surprise on my dessert plate.

Psych Pineapple4. Shawn’s made-up names for Gus

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

5. The special USA Psych promos and commercials. Particularly “Private Eyes.”

6. Shawn telling Gus to “not be” something.

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

7. Gus’ screams. And Gus’ and Shawn’s screams.

8. All the times Shawn and Gus say, “Suck It.”

9. All the times Shawn and Gus say, “C’mon Son!”

10. All the times Shawn and Gus “tisk” something the other has said or a situation.

“Suck It,” “C’mon, Son,” and the tisks have all made their way into this household’s everyday conversations…

Call me crazy because I know I am, but I’m tearing up now just typing this post. So, ten things I will miss most about Psych are all you get.

The rumors have been swirling all week that USA might back a Psych movie. PLEASE DO!! I still don’t understand why the network is ending a show that is still, as of this year, winning awards and has the crazy fan base this particular show does.

Psych, you will be missed.

Love always,
Your Psych-Os

Do you watch Psych? What will you miss most? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

 

 

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Psych-O for Psych – My Top 15 Episodes, Part 2

One of my all-time favorite programs ends this week – the USA Network’s Psych.
What is Psych? This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate what I consider to be one of the best television shows EVER, I have decided to list my top 15 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the end… the end of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball WAY OUT of the park. But we selected our top 15, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or perhaps a tasty pineapple – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided. Enjoy!

And now for episodes 1 – 7…

*****

7. “Yang 3 in 2D” (Season 5)

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

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

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

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

Psych “Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?” (Season 3)

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

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

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

Psych - "Scary Sherry"

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

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

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

Psych "an Evening with Mr. Yang"

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

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

3. “Mr. Yin Presents…” (Season 4)

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

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

2. “100 Clues” (Episode 7)

Psych "100 Clues"

Celebrating its 100th episode, Psych paid tribute to the 1985 classic, Clue. As with all of the “special” episodes, the show’s creators and writers went all out, honoring the film with the singing telegram, the dinner party at a mansion, the falling chandelier, and a party full of guests capable of committing murder—including the all-knowing butler and familiar faces from the original Clue movie. From the scurrying around from room to room, speculating who killed whom in which room and with what weapon, this episode was non-stop fun from start to finish.

And speaking of the finish… fans watching live were able to vote on just who they wanted the killer to be. My vote lost.

In addition to the actors featured from the movie (Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, and Christopher Lloyd), the episode also starred many other familiar faces from popular ‘80s and ‘90s works: Curt Smith (Tears for Fears), Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan), and Garrett Mims (the early days of Saturday Night Live).

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

Psych "Dual Spires"

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

We could go on and on about this episode. James Roday outdid himself writing this piece: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery from the ‘90s, Twin Peaks; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.

Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Sherilyn Finn (Audrey Horne).

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

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

*****

Do you watch Psych? What’s your favorite episode? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

 

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Psych-O for Psych – My Top 15 Episodes, Part 1

One of my all-time favorite programs ends this week – the USA Network’s Psych.
What is Psych? This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate what I consider to be one of the best television shows EVER, I have decided to list my top 15 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the end… the end of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball WAY OUT of the park. But we selected our top 15, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or perhaps a tasty pineapple – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided. Enjoy!

And now for episodes 8 – 15…

*****

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

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

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

14. “Heeeeere’s Lassie” (Season 6)

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

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

13. “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

Psych “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

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

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

12. “Tuesday the 17th” (Season 3)

What do we get when we cross the classic horror films Friday the 13th and April Fool’s Day? “Tuesday the 17th” of course!

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

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

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

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

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

The Despereaux storyline is a fun one to return to, but “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” is perhaps included in the top 15 because Shawn finally professes his love to Jules at the end of the episode. And when we say finally, we mean finally. It took us five seasons for him to admit his feelings for her.

10. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

Psych “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. “This Episode Sucks” (Season 6)

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

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

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

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

*****

Come back tomorrow for my top 7 episodes!

Do you watch Psych? What’s your favorite episode? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

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.

 

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The Perfect March Madness Dish – Slow-Cooked Buffalo Wings

March Madness marks one of my favorite times of year.  No; it’s not football.  But it’s college hoops at its finest!  It never matters which two teams are facing off against each other… it could be a Cinderella (a team that was lucky to receive an invitation to The Big Dance as it’s called) versus one of the top ranked teams expected to win it all… the games are fantastic.  Rarely is there a blowout; often times there’s a buzzer beater; and there’s almost always a handful of upsets, making the first weekend of the tournament a truly exciting time for any sports enthusiast.

So, what goes great with March Madness?

Buffalo Wings!!

Crock Pot/Baked Buffalo Wings

The finished product…

I first found this recipe via AllRecipes.com for the Super Bowl, and luckily my wings were a much bigger hit than the game itself this year…

Now, my guy and I aren’t big on frying foods.  We’ll eat ‘em when we go out on occasion, but we tend to stay away from making fried foods in our house.  Which is why this recipe was very intriguing to us both.  It’s not fried AND it uses the crock pot!  I do love my crock pot…

First, what’s needed:

1 – 4 lb bag of frozen chicken wings, thawed
2 – 12 oz bottles of wing sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot)
1 cup of melted butter
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of garlic powder

Now let’s cook:

In a saucepan, combine one of the 12-oz bottles of wing sauce, ½ cup of melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Heat sauce over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.

Place chicken wings in the crock pot and pour the sauce mixture over them.

Cook on high for two hours.

Reduce heat to low and cook for another two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a large baking sheet.  We sprayed with Olive Oil Cooking Spray.

Spread the wings onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven until the wings are crisp and brown (for about thirty minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the other ½ cup of butter with the other 12-oz bottle of wing sauce in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened (about twenty minutes).

Brush sauce onto wings before serving.

Also serve with ranch and/or blue cheese.

This is some serious yum here, folks.  The meat just falls off the bone.

My pan after ten minutes... all wings gone!

My pan after ten minutes… all wings gone!

And before anyone says, “But I like crispy wings…”  These slow-cooked and baked wings are crispy!!  We don’t always have to fry for the crisp.  Just sayin’.

Enjoy!

What do you think?  Is this recipe worth a try?  Have any other easy wing recipes to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Original recipe found on this site:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/awesome-slow-cooker-buffalo-wings/

*****

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.

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Original vs. Remake – Romeo + Juliet

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the 1996 remake.  This month we tackle the classic, Romeo and Juliet (or in my case, Romeo + Juliet).

Usually I jump right into Catie’s homemade summary at this point; but she didn’t write one this month.  However, I will borrow her words because as usual they are spot-on: if you don’t know the basic plot of “Romeo and Juliet,” this blog post will probably be lost on you anyway. 

So, let’s just go straight to the trailer:

Before I begin my review, let’s talk briefly about Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular works, Romeo and Juliet may be the most tragic love story ever told.  Many people have complained about reading Shakespeare, but I personally feel that his brilliant use of unrhymed iambic pentameter throughout Romeo and Juliet sends the reader back in time to the intended period and setting.  Shakespeare also connects with audiences of all generations with the universal themes of love and fate, and the destruction of the star-crossed lovers.

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

As Catie discusses on her blog today, Shakespeare’s tragedy was depicted into a motion picture in 1968. Sir Laurence Olivier narrated the film, while Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey played the young lovers.  The music composed by Nino Rota still gives me goose bumps when I hear it today.

The classic love story was adapted again in 1996, starring two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars (at the time) – Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.  This time titled, Romeo + Juliet, Shakespeare’s story is modernized (for example, using guns instead of swords) while the cast still uses Shakespearean dialogue.  One might ask, a modernized Shakespearean play with traditional Shakespearean dialogue?  Yes!  It’s simply wonderful… and creative… a great way to attract the youth of today… and masterfully performed by all involved.  And the cast is extensive: Brian Dennehy, Paul Sorvino, John Leguizamo, Dash Mihok, Jamie Kennedy, and Paul Rudd to just name a few.

But let’s talk about Leo for a second. Yes, I call him Leo.  Although his portrayal of Romeo came early in what we now know to be a very long and fruitful career, his performance was still impeccable.  But it wasn’t until Romeo + Juliet that I truly fell head-over-heels for him (and again in Titanic… and again in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby).   However, celebrity crushes aside, rarely do I watch him in a film where he does not nail whatever role he is playing; and I firmly believe he will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of my generation.  And for the purpose of this post?  He can be my Romeo anytime.

And while I wasn’t thrilled about Claire Danes playing Juliet, I still weep pretty much uncontrollably every time I  watch this film (even though I know the ending… and very well at that).  To me, this makes Romeo + Juliet a classic.  I honestly believe it will live throughout the decades.  Shakespeare’s story will be told and adapted countless times in the years to come; but there is just something about this film that will survive the test of time.  Baz Luhrmann’s (writer, director, and producer) creation is unique and it will take some sort of new and fresh creative genius to top this particular rendition of the classic tragedy/love story.

Oh, and before I forget, the soundtrack is amazing.  Despite the fact it’s pushing almost twenty years old, I still listen to this disc on almost every road trip.  This ‘90s fun/blast from the past features Garbage, Everclear, Des’ree, Butthole Surfers, The Cardigans, and Radiohead.

So, overall, is the 1996 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.

Does it compare to the original film?  Absolutely.  It its own right.

Should people forget about the original version?  No.  It’s a classic and originals should never be forgotten.

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog to see what she thought of the 1968 classic.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1968 or the 1996 version of Shakespeare’s classic love story?  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! 

*****

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.

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