Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Lost in the Amazon

This week Amber West and I review two mini-series on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: the BBC favorite, Doctor Who, and the new ABC paranormal mystery, The River.

The River has been described as a paranormal, action-packed, and adventurous program that falls into the horror, mystery, and fantasy genres.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

First, a quick summary of The River:

The series follows the friends and family members of Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), as they search for any signs that the famous television personality and wild life expert survived his last voyage into the Amazon.

Desperate for the opportunity to search for their loved one, the doctor’s wife (Tess, played by Leslie Hope) and son (Lincoln, played  by Joe Anderson) agree to allow Dr. Cole’s former producer (Clark, played by Paul Blackthorne) to join and film the expedition “documentary” style, in exchange for his funding of the trip.

The search team also consists of: Lena (Eloise Mumford), a valued resource and the daughter of Emmet Cole’s missing cameraman; Emilio (Daniel Zacapa), the ship’s mechanic and his young daughter, Jahel (Paulina Gaitan); Captain Kurt (Thomas Kretschmann), a bodyguard hired to protect the crew but who also harbors a secret agenda; and lead cameraman,  A.J. (Shaun Parkes).

Will the team discover the truth behind Emmet Cole’s disappearance, or will they too fall victim to The River?

Now, a bit of the story:

For over twenty years, Emmet Cole starred in a popular television series that explored the different parts of the world and the organisms that populate it.  His catch phrase, “There’s magic out there,” reached out to millions of loyal viewers, but perhaps no one quite as much as his wife and son who traveled with him on his ship, the Magus, during his expeditions.

But on his latest voyage to the Amazon, Emmet leaves behind those that usually travel with him (his wife, his son, his producer, and his cameraman’s daughter).  Instead, he hires a new crew and ventures out on his own searching for magic.

See? Magic…

Magic is just what he finds – a mysterious magic in the Amazon.  But before he can return with his discovery, he along with everyone else on his ship vanishes.  Emmet was presumed dead by the world, that is until his emergency beacon activates six months later.

Tess, feeling a bit guilty for reasons we won’t mention, insists they find her husband.  She decides to partner up using Clark’s financial resources to document her search for Emmet and builds the team, including her reluctant son, to find the ship and her husband (and the other missing people, but everyone has their own agenda out there).

Once the team locates the Magus, they board and immediately start watching footage taped by Lena’s dad (Russ, played by Lee Tergesen) and Jonas (Scott Michael Foster).  It is obvious to the viewer that something in the Amazon is making Emmet appear like he is going crazy; but the team presses on despite the forces working against them — forces such as possessions, magical legends and curses, poisons, and ghosts.

So far, the search and recovery has yielded two of Emmet’s missing shipmates: Russ and Jonas; but still no Emmet.  After seeing what happens to these men (no spoilers), one can only imagine Emmet’s fate is doomed.

For television, The River is actually very spooky and mysterious and the special effects are surprisingly good (Steven Spielberg is involved, after all).  The season is short (only eight episodes long) and I’m hoping for some answers in the remaining two shows.  While I am enjoying the series and it’s not sitting in my DVR queue very long, I’m still not so sure about the overall program’s rating.

Lost in the Amazon at night… spooky!

A part of me feels that I should award the JFTV rating; The River is unlike anything else on network television today (American Horror Story is better, in my opinion), but I have a bad feeling that the direction of these final episodes could possibly leave a Lost feeling in my mouth.  For that, and for that fear alone, I must award The River the SSTV rating.  It’s still simmering; what can I say?

What do you think? Do you watch The River?  Is it worthy of a higher rating?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and read her thoughts on the regenerating doctors of Doctor Who.

Come back next week when Amber and I review two new (or maybe old) TV shows.  We like to keep everyone on their toes.

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

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

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

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Power of Three

The holidays are near, and it is this time of year that usually limits the amount of new television programs airing on the major networks.  So, what do we do when our DVR isn’t as full as it usually is?  We watch the oldies, but goodies.

This week, Amber West and I discuss our favorite daytime reruns that we enjoy watching while we clean house, fold laundry, and bake treats for our sweets – Charmed and a Law & Order.   

Aaron Spelling produced many hit television series during his lifetime – Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, and the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place to just name a few.  That’s why when Charmed premiered, this TV addict was immediately on board.  And when I learned the show was about witches?  Major bonus. 

Charmed begins as the Halliwell sisters reunite in San Francisco for their grandmother’s funeral and soon discover that they come from a long line of female witches.  After the youngest sister reads the family’s Book of Shadows (a book containing the spells and magic from their ancestors), she believes that she and her sisters are supposed to be the most powerful witches of all time. 

One by one, the sisters learn they each possess a unique magical power, and they are quickly thrust into the line of fire when their first demon attacks.  Unsure of how to defeat the demon, the sisters join hands and repeat a passage from the Book of Shadows, “The Power of Three will set us free.” 

And that it did, for eight seasons.  Of course, The Power of Three chant wasn’t always the spell needed to defeat the bad guy, but ultimately, Charmed was all about The Power of Three.  Over the years, we watched the sisters learn the ins and outs of their magical heritage, hone their individual powers, and most importantly, protect the world from The Source (the “source” of all evil) and other demons and warlocks.

The oldest of the sisters, Prue Halliwell (Shannon Doherty), works as an art appraiser and photographer.  She has always felt responsible for her sisters, due to their mother’s death when they were young.  At the beginning of the series, Prue shares a rocky relationship with her youngest sister, one they must work through quickly in order to survive. 

Prue’s power?  Telekinesis – she can move things with her mind, meaning she can throw the bad guy against the wall, through the wall, whatever – perhaps the best power of all the sisters.  Prior to her death (sorry for the spoiler), Prue also inherits the ability to teleport, a skill that proves life saving on multiple occasions. 

Middle sister Piper Halliwell (Holly Marie Combs) works as an aspiring chef and buffer to her sisters arguing.  Piper is a romantic always looking for love.  Actually, her boyfriend in the pilot is the warlock attempting to kill the sisters.  After Piper recovers from that failed relationship, and a few others, she meets the man of her dreams and future husband – Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause).   

Leo is also the sister’s Whitelighter, their guardian angel who can “orb” (move magically through space) them out of trouble.

Piper’s power?  She can freeze time and people.  Eventually her power evolves and she has the ability to blow things up, which comes in very handy when facing a demon.

The youngest of the three original sisters (explanation to come), Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano) is nothing like her sisters.  Where Prue and Piper are both professionally driven, Phoebe has no idea what she wants to do with her life; however, after putting herself through college, Phoebe decides to go to work as a reporter for the local paper. 

Also a romantic, Phoebe eventually marries a demon (Balthazar/Cole Turner played by Julian McMahon) and later Coop (a Cupid played by Victor Webster). 

Phoebe’s power?  Premonition – she can see things in the past, as well as in the future.  Her powers intensify and she develops the ability to levitate, which she uses to learn and master martial arts in order to kick demon butt.  She also later develops the power of empathy, which she can use to mimic another’s powers or sense exactly what they feel.

After Prue’s death, Piper and Phoebe meet a sister they never knew about – Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan).  When the girls were younger, their mother had an affair with her Whitelighter and later gave the baby to a nun for protection.  Paige was adopted by “normal” parents and led a semi-normal life.  That is until she was drawn to a stranger’s funeral – Prue’s funeral. 

Paige’s Power?  Tele-Orbing – Paige inherited the Whitelighter abilities (including orbing) and combined with her telekinesis (like big sis, Prue), she has the ability to call out for items and they will be drawn to her. 

Charmed’s eight seasons weren’t enough for this television addict and supernatural lover.  I cried my eyes out during the series finale.  I still miss the sisters, their powers, the witchcraft, Leo, Cole, and even babies Wyatt and Chris (Piper and Leo’s sons) to this day. 

When I noticed TNT airs episodes during the day, I immediately set the DVR so I could watch the greatness of Charmed again, in order – from start to finish.  It will always be one of my favorite programs of all time, and therefore I must award the MacTV rating.  Charmed is like that good ole bowl of mac-n-cheese; it’s not the best food in the pantry, but man is it delicious! 

By the way, if I ever get a tattoo, it will be of the triquetra – the symbol on the Book of Shadows

Did you watch Charmed?  Which sister’s power do you wish you possessed?  Do you prefer demon Cole or whitelighter Leo?   Generally speaking, do you believe it witchcraft?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out which Law & Order she prefers while folding laundry and baking treats for her sweets all day long…and why. 

Come back next week when Amber and I something just in time for the holidays.  

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

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: Not So Secret Circle

New to television this fall, The Secret Circle has left viewers a bit conflicted.  For one, the fans of the popular YA series by L.J. Smith are not impressed with the CW’s adaptation of the books.  The television series has changed quite a few things including the town (New Salem, Massachusetts in the books versus Chance Harbor, Washington on the television show) and the number of witches required to complete the circle (twelve in Smith’s books to six on the CW).

But for those of us who have not read the books, The Secret Circle ranks up there with the best of the new fall TV shows.

From the creators of The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle follows teenager Cassie Blake (Brittany Robertson) after her mother’s death (well, murder).  Cassie moves to her mother Amelia’s (Emily Holmes) hometown to live with her grandmother (Jane played by Ashley Crow), where she meets a group of friends that help her uncover her destiny – she’s a witch.

Cassie learns that their families have a deep history of witchcraft dating back hundreds of years.  In order to complete their circle, one member from each of the original families is needed.  The power of six magnifies the circle’s power one hundred percent, and Cassie is the sixth.

Adam (Thomas Dekker) is immediately attracted to Cassie, and according to his father’s tales, the two are destined to be together.  The one problem standing in the way is Adam’s girlfriend, Diana (Shelley Hennig), the practical and good-natured leader of the circle.

Other members of the circle include: Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), the spoiled, selfish, and beautiful witch who often times practices reckless magic putting those around her in harm’s way;  and Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy), Faye’s best friend who happens to be in love with fellow member, bad-boy Nick (Louis Hunter).

It takes convincing, but the teenagers bind their circle which in essence binds their individual powers.  Once the circle is bound, the witches encounter many dangers including demons and witch hunters.  It takes a near death experience before Cassie learns that she may be the most powerful witch of all; but what she doesn’t know is that this power is directly tied to dark magic.

Each member of the circle has lost at least one parent already: Cassie and Nick are orphaned, having lost both parents; Adam and Diana have each lost their mothers; and Faye’s father is dead.  For whatever reason, Melissa’s family has yet to be introduced so we’re not sure which of her parents has passed, or if she too is an orphan.

The young high schoolers are only part of the story.  Witches come from witches, and the secrets behind their parents’ coven and a mysterious fire sixteen years earlier make for an interesting tale as well.

So far we’ve been introduced to the six members of the circle, and a few of their single parents and grandparents (the elders).   We know that Faye’s mother, Principal Dawn Chamberlain (Natasha Henstridge) seems to be quite angry that the elders bound her powers and she wants desperately to be able to perform witchcraft again.

We also know that Diana’s dad Charles (Gale Harold) is responsible for Cassie’s mother’s death and that he is working feverishly with Dawn to recover their powers, destroying anyone who stands in their way.  And, we know that Adam’s father Ethan (Adam Harrington) drowns his sorrows in alcohol, pines away for Amelia, and is bullied by Dawn and Charles.

The storytelling has this TV addict hooked with so many questions… What happened in the fire sixteen years ago?  Who is Cassie’s father; is he the leader of the witch hunters? By the way, does anyone think it’s funny that JR Bourne (Isaac) plays a witch hunter on The Secret Circle and a werewolf hunter on Teen Wolf?  He must like to hunt…

Anyway, back to The Secret Circle: will Jake (Chris Zylka) fall for Cassie or will he destroy the circle?  What’s going to happen when someone discovers that Cassie possesses her family’s crystal?

The Secret Circle has been picked up for a full 22 episodes – how many of our questions will be answered?  I miss Charmed, and while The Secret Circle isn’t quite as good (in my opinion), it fills the hole that the Power of Three left behind.

So, what do you think?  Have you watched The Secret Circle?  What are your thoughts on the YA series versus the CW production?  Out of curiosity, did they kill Nick’s character in the books (that came as a bit of a shocker to me)?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Magical Artifacts

This week, Amber West and I return to the science fiction world and review two of our viewers’ favorite SyFy programs.

Warehouse 13

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 (played by Saul Rubinek from the TV series Frasier and Nero Wolf) 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 personal, 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 (played by Joanne Kelly from the TV series Vanished and The Dresden Files) 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.

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

Pete Lattimer (played by Eddie McClintock from the TV series Stark Raving Mad and Crumbs) 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 (played by Allison Scagliotti), a young techie-genius who went to work for the team after breaking into the warehouse, and Leena (played by Genelle Williams), the proprietor of the local bed and breakfast where the agents reside. 

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 resigns. 

A huge bonus to working at the warehouse is the access to very cool gadgets.  The agents use a “Farnsworth” to communicate with one another visually and telephonically in lieu of cell phones.  Instead of using real guns, the agents use a “Tesla Gun” – a weapon that shoots lightning bolts that 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 it 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. 

Click here for a complete list of artifacts to date.

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 a 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?   Do you like that the writers keep the relationship between Myka and Pete strictly professional and friendly, or would you prefer see a romantic spark ignite? I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she has to say about SyFy’s Eureka.

Come back next week when Amber and I recommended a few more queue worthy shows for your viewing pleasure as we close out the month of August with another Netflix edition.     

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with 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
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
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