A Killer Curse – The Grudge (2004)

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

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s summary that applies to both films:

When someone dies with a deep and burning rage, a curse is born.  It gathers in the place where that person died and manifests on those who encounter the curse.  This film is a set of six vignettes, starring different characters, about a house in suburban Japan where a murder took place.

It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t actually request to cover the remake this month.  To be honest, I was hoping for the remake because I had already seen it… years ago, but either version was fine by me.  So, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original Japanese film, I found a copy of the American version via OnDemand and set it in my queue to rewatch.

And I’m glad I did.  Rewatch it that is.

I didn’t recall feeling favorable about The Grudge (2004) when I first watched it as a new release back in the day.  However, watching it again, my opinions of the film have changed.  After all, what is a sign of a good horror movie?  The suspense made me jump… impressive, considering I’d already seen it once before.

As Catie mentioned in her summary, the film follows six different vignettes, or small scenes, starring different characters who have all encountered the house and its curse in one way or another.

However, the main story follows a foreign exchange student (Karen played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I mean, Sarah Michelle Gellar) who has been volunteering at a care center for a social welfare credit.  When a fellow worker doesn’t report to duty, Karen gets the call to take over looking after an older woman confined to her residence.

But Yoko (the co-worker) did report to her job at the older woman’s house…

And once she arrives, Karen realizes this was not the assignment she had been hoping for…

Rewind three years when the Saeki family lived in the house.  Once Mr. Saeki kills both his wife and son before taking his own life, the curse is born.

While watching the American version, I couldn’t help but think the son looked very familiar; he looked just like the boy in the movie poster for Ju-on: The Grudge.  How could that be?  Well, it’s because it was the same boy.  The actors portraying Toshio (the son), Kayako (the mom), and Takeo (the dad) all appeared in the Japanese film as the cursed Saeki family as well as in the American version.

Quite a few familiar faces are tied to the Saeki house, and therefore its curse: Bill Pullman (does he really need an introduction?), Jason Behr (from Roswell and Dawson’s Creek), William Mapother (Lost), KaDee Strickland (Private Practice), Clea DuVall (from Carnivàle, Heroes, and American Horror Story: Asylum), and even Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess), brother to the film’s producer, Sam Raimi.

Sam Raimi has had his hands in many other films, whether it is by acting, directing (the Toby McGuire Spider-Man franchise), or producing (The Evil Dead series, the Kevin Sorbo Hercules franchise, and many other “dark” flicks, including 30 Days of Night, Boogeyman, Drag Me to Hell, and The Possession).  And having seen many of his works, I can honestly say there’s a unique aspect he brings to each of his projects.  The Grudge is no different.

Perhaps one of the creepiest parts of the entire film is the sound the Kayako ghost makes when opening her mouth.  *Shivers* I almost forgot how freaky that clicking sound is. Ooh-waa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa.  Forgive me, but I don’t know how else to describe it…

Oh, and speaking of creepy… the scene at the end of the film when Kayako moves down the stairs was supposedly not a special effect; it has been reported the actress really moved that way.  For anyone who has already seen the film, this scene is as disturbing as the Linda Blair head spin from The Exorcist.

Catie mentioned Ju-on: The Grudge and the story of its curse has some validity to it as far as Japanese folklore and mythology are concerned.  This probably helps explain why it’s rumored that the entire cast and crew of The Grudge (2004) were blessed before filming, hoping to prevent any evil from befalling upon them.

The Grudge spawned two sequels, also produced by Raimi.  I have not seen either of these films, but from what I understand, the story picks right up where the 2004 flick left off and continues.

You know, the Japanese police really shouldn’t have saved the Saeki house from burning to the ground…

So how does the American version compare to the Japanese film?  That’s  right; I caught Ju-on late last night on the movie channels and can actually compare the two!  Well, the stories are quite similar… with only a few small differences; the Japanese version has subtitles; and more importantly, Ju-on doesn’t have Sarah Michelle Gellar.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the Japanese film or the American remake of The Grudge?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  AND do you believe in curses?  I’d love to hear from you! 

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

Tele-Tuesday: Renew Ringer, Seriously

In January of this year, I blogged about the first half of the first season of the CW’s mysterious new series Ringer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as twin sisters Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin.  I not only blogged about it not once, but twice — once on Tele-Tuesday and again a bit later on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.

Even after the first half of the season, I felt that Ringer was one of the best new shows added to the 2011-2012 TV schedule.  Recently, I watched the second half of the season in marathon style.  The season finale aired just a few weeks ago and now the news is circling that Ringer is one of the CW’s programs “on the bubble.”

How can that be?

I love the CW and DVR most of the network’s series: Gossip Girl, 90210, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, and Supernatural.  So I guess it’s technically a shorter list to mention the CW programs that I don’t watch: Hart of Dixie and Nikita.

I’m not going to say one way or another whether or not Hart of Dixie and Nikita deserve to be picked up for a season two and season three respectively because I don’t watch those programs.  I will say, however, that the revamped 90210 has nothing on the original and I’m shocked that it is still on the air.  Yes, I record it; and yes, I watch it (well I fast forward through the entire episode like I do soap operas, and still understand enough to move on to the next week) — but it’s really subpar TV.  And then there’s Gossip GirlGossip Girl is leaps and bounds better than 90210, but still the most recent seasons are nowhere near as intriguing and twisted as the earlier years (when the kids were in high school).

Over the next few weeks, the CW is introducing two new shows to the schedule: a fictionalized series based on the young and beautiful trying to make it in Hollywood, The L.A. Complex (sounds like another stab at the Melrose Place years); and a reality series based out of a Miami hotel, The Catalina (I shudder to think that this looks like a hotel-style based Jersey Shore).

So I’m back to my original question, how is it possible that Ringer is on the bubble?

It’s been no secret around The Ooo Factor regarding my feeling towards ABC’s new hit, RevengeRevenge is currently my favorite program of all series airing today and I would be shocked if ABC didn’t renew it, considering the following it has and the ratings.

Ringer and Revenge share many similarities – they’re both mysterious and full of twists and turns; both shows have creative and believable writing in otherwise over-the-top situations; both shows have likeable lead female characters despite their actions (Ringer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar and Revenge’s Emily VanCamp); both shows have good-looking male love interests (Ioan Gruffudd and Kristoffer Polaha from Ringer, and Joshua Bowman and Nick Wechler from Revenge); and most importantly to this mystery lover, both shows actually answer the question “why” and wrap up open storylines cleanly and meticulously.

From my earlier posts featuring Ringer, there were a few specific questions I hoped would be answered in the second half of the season: Why does Siobhan hate her sister so much?  When will Andrew discover the truth?  How long will Siobhan and Bridget keep up this charade?  And what is Mr. Carpenter’s secret?

Each and every one of these questions was answered.  That doesn’t happen often, trust me — I watch a LOT of TV.  Additionally, the first season was wrapped up very nicely with only the slightest cliff-hanger leaving us wanting more.  Perhaps the series was written this way because the staff didn’t know at the time whether or not the show would be picked up for a season two; or maybe this storyline was the plan all along.  Regardless, I applaud the writers and creators of Ringer.  Really, I do.

But I’m still left wondering how in the world Ringer can be on the bubble when Revenge is practically a shoe-in for pick up (it should be, anyway).  How can Ringer be on the bubble when it’s, in my opinion anyway, the fourth best show on the network?

I’m completely dumbfounded…

What do you think?  Did you watch Ringer?  What did you think about all of the outcomes surrounding all of Bridget’s, Siobhan’s, and Andrew’s twists and turns?  Is one of your favorite shows this TV season facing a questionable return?  I’d love to hear from you!

For those interested, follow @SaveRinger and use the #SaveRinger hashtag on Twitter… spread the word.  I’d like to see a season two, especially since the creators have already announced a season two will be all about the consequences…

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Two Worlds, One Ringer

This week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, Amber West and I review two new programs to the 2011-2012 television schedule whose plots are based on dual realities – NBC’s new drama, Awake, where the protagonist lives in alternate realities depending on whether or not he is dreaming; and the CW’s new mystery, Ringer, where the protagonist is choosing to live in another reality, her twin sister’s world.

Ringer stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as twin sisters Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin.

The sisters share a troubled past – Bridget is a former narcotics user and stripper, and Siobhan cut ties from Bridget when she married a millionaire New York City hedge fund manager, leaving her normal life and sister behind.  But after a few years apart, the girls suddenly decide to move past previously made mistakes and mend their relationship, or so it seems.

The series begins as Bridget runs to her wealthy sister, Siobhan, after she witnesses a mob hit and escapes protective custody just before testifying in court.  A few days into the happy reunion, Siobhan disappears herself (making it look like an apparent suicide).  Bridget panics, like most would, but then realizes that this is her perfect opportunity to escape her past and assume her sister’s identity.

And so the story begins….

Bridget’s first matter of business is to convince Siobhan’s husband (Andrew Martin, played by Ioan Gruffudd) that she is her sister.  She learns rather quickly that the two share a rocky, tumultuous marriage, and her new husband doesn’t seem to like her very much.  Andrew’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage really hates Siobhan (Juliet Martin, played by Zoey Deutch), and she lashes out constantly by skipping school, doing drugs, and destroying things around the penthouse.

Siobhan's husband, Andrew

As if Siobhan’s life at home wasn’t enough of a disaster, Bridget soon discovers that her sister was also having an affair with Henry Butler (Kristoffer Polaha), the husband of her best friend (Gemma Butler, played by Tara Summers).

Siobhan's boyfriend and best friend's husband, Henry

Just as Bridget begins to manage all of the lies her sister is living, the FBI agent tasked with protecting her during the trial (Agent Victor Machado, played by Nestor Carbonell) arrives in New York with a few questions for Siobhan.

The FBI agent tasked with protecting Bridget, Victor

Meanwhile, Bridget’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor and apparent lover (Malcolm Ward, played by Mike Colter) is abducted by the drug lord/mob boss looking for her back home, beaten within an inch of his life, and reacquainted with black tar heroin.  Malcolm might just be the hero of the show; despite the torture, he doesn’t disclose Bridget’s secret and he still manages to escape and travel to NYC to protect her.

Bridget's NA Sponsor and one-time lover, Malcolm

Everything is just too much, so Bridget (aka Siobhan) seeks out a new NA sponsor in the city and meets Charlie (Billy Miller).  Charlie seems eager to help, not only with her constant battle with relapse, but also with the many matters surrounding her double life.  People can trust sponsors, right?

Bridget's new NA sponsor and dirty former cop, Charlie

Oh, and did we mention the “real” Siobhan (who is camped out in Paris under an assumed identity) is pregnant?  That’s an interesting twist…Bridget gets the call from Siobhan’s doctor and has to pretend she’s pregnant; meanwhile, Henry thinks the baby is his; Andrew of course thinks the baby is his; and Siobhan’s new Parisian lover (Tyler, played by Justin Bruening) now thinks the baby is his.  This lady is a mess.

Siobhan's Parisian boy-toy and her husband's business associate, Tyler

To make matters worse, Bridget doesn’t do a bang up job keeping her secret – Gemma discovers the truth: that the “real” Siobhan is sleeping with her husband, and that Bridget is assuming her sister’s identity.  When Gemma threatens to blow the top off Bridget’s lies, she disappears.   Henry comes home to find blood all over the walls and a broken vase, and immediately cleans the mess up to protect Siobhan.  But when he confronts Siobhan (aka Bridget), she of course thinks he did something to Gemma – why else would he cover up the evidence?

Confused yet?  Remember, the “real” Siobhan is the puppet master pulling all the strings; Bridget is only trying to survive in Siobhan’s world.

And this ladies and gentleman is just the beginning…

Because of the non-stop twists and turns, I must award Ringer with the JFTV rating – it’s the perfect Junk Food Television.  I sat and watched the entire first half of the season in mini-marathon style.  See, I record the series each week, but wasn’t intrigued enough at first to watch; but once I started the episodes, I couldn’t stop – just like when I pick up a bag of Hershey’s miniatures from Costco — someone needs to pull the bag of chocolate away from me in order for me to stop popping the delicious delights in my mouth one right after the other.

I enjoyed my mini-marathon of the first half of the season so much, I’m currently stock-piling the second half of the season for another marathon-style viewing party.  I’m just waiting for that perfect Saturday…

What do you think? Do you watch Ringer?  Which of Siobhan and Bridget’s men is your favorite and why?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and read her thoughts on the masterfully creative dual realities of Awake.

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

Tele-Tuesday: “Ringer” in the New Year

Perhaps the correct phrase is “Ringing in the New Year,” but not in the case of today’s post.  Today, we’re catching up on Ringer, the CW’s new mysterious series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as twin sisters Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin.

The sisters share a troubled past – Bridget is a former narcotics user and stripper, and Siobhan cut ties from Bridget when she married a millionaire New York City hedge fund manager, leaving her normal life and sister behind.  But after a few years apart, the girls suddenly decide to move past previously made mistakes and mend their relationship, or so it seems. 

The series begins as Bridget runs to her wealthy sister, Siobhan, after she witnesses a mob hit and escapes protective custody just before testifying in court.  Matters get worse when Siobhan appears to have committed suicide, leaving Bridget the perfect opportunity to assume her sister’s identity.   

Enter the drama….

Bridget’s first matter of business is to convince Siobhan’s husband (Andrew Martin played by Ioan Gruffudd) that she is her sister.  She learns rather quickly that the two share a rocky, tumultuous marriage, and her new husband doesn’t seem to like her very much.  Andrew’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage really hates Siobhan (Juliet played by Zoey Deutch), and she lashes out constantly by skipping school, doing drugs, and destroying things around the penthouse.    

As if Siobhan’s life at home wasn’t enough of a disaster, Bridget soon discovers that her sister was having an affair with Henry Butler (Kristoffer Polaha), her best friend’s husband (Gemma Butler played by Tara Summers). 

Just as Bridget grabs a hold of all the lies her sister is living, the FBI agent tasked with protecting her during the trial (Agent Victor Machado played by Nestor Carbonell) arrives in New York with a few questions for Siobhan.  Meanwhile, Bridget’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor and apparent lover (Malcolm Ward played by Mike Colter) is abducted by the drug lord/mob boss looking for her, beaten within an inch of his life, and reacquainted with black tar heroin.  Malcolm might just be the hero of the show; despite the torture, he doesn’t disclose Bridget’s secret and he still manages to escape and travel to NYC to protect her. 

Everything is just too much, so Bridget (aka Siobhan) seeks out a new NA sponsor in the city and meets Charlie (Billy Miller).  Charlie seems eager to help, not only with her constant battle with relapse, but also with the many matters surrounding her double life.

Could that be because he’s an ex-cop named John working for the real Siobhan, who is camped out in Paris under an assumed identity?  It appears she’s the puppet master behind everything, but why? 

Oh, and did we mention she’s pregnant?  That’s an interesting twist…Henry thinks the baby is his; Andrew of course thinks the baby is his; and Siobhan’s Parisian lover (Tyler played by Justin Bruening) now thinks the baby is his.  This lady is a mess. 

To make matters worse, Bridget doesn’t do a bang up job keeping her secret – Gemma discovers the truth: that Siobhan is sleeping with her husband, and that Bridget is assuming her sister’s identity.  When Gemma threatens to blow the top off Bridget’s lies, she disappears.   Henry comes home to find blood all over the walls and a broken vase, and immediately cleans the mess up to protect Siobhan.  But when he confronts Bridget (aka Siobhan), she of course thinks he did something to Gemma – why else would he cover up the evidence?   But remember, the “real” Siobhan is the one pulling all the strings….

If this was a Why it’s Worth a Watch Wednesday review, I’d award Ringer with the JFTV rating – it’s the perfect Junk Food Television.  I sat over the holidays and watched the entire first half of the season in mini-marathon style.  See, I recorded the series but wasn’t intrigued enough at first to watch; but once I started the episodes this weekend, I couldn’t stop. 

There are so many questions to be answered: Why does Siobhan hate her sister so much?  When will Andrew discover the truth?  How long will Siobhan and Bridget keep up this charade?  And what is Mr. Carpenter’s secret (Juliet’s teacher played by Jason Dohring)?

What do you think?  Have you watched Ringer?  How will this series continue for multiple seasons?  Any ideas?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FaBOOolousness – Urban Legends

Watching American Horror Story this week reminded us of the power of the urban legend when a patient of Dr. Harmon’s couldn’t even muster up the strength to walk into his bathroom in fear of the Pig Man.

By definition, an urban legend is a modern tale or myth usually believed to be true.    A few favorites include:

The Bloody Mary Legend, the ghost who appears in a mirror after her name is called three times.

The Killer in the Backseat Legend, the story that begins with a woman driving home alone at night when a passerby scares her by flashing his high beams or speeding past her.  She manages to make it home, safe and sound, before realizing the other driver was only trying to warn her about the man in the backseat.

 

The Achilles Slasher Legend, the fear that a mysterious person lays in wait underneath cars ready to slash our Achilles tendons as we attempt to open the car door.

The Spider Bite Legend, the legend of the facial spider bite that swells and bursts, releasing hundreds of tiny baby spiders.

The Hook Legend, a tale of a serial killer who stalks and murders young couples.

 

The Kidney Heist Legend, the terrifying story of waking up in a pool of ice only to discover a kidney has been surgical removed and stolen.

The Pop Rocks and Soda Legend, the tale that enjoying a package of Pop Rocks candy and a can of soda together will result in an explosion of the face, throat, and/or stomach.

Hollywood has told the tales of the urban legend over and over again, and it has thrived in the success of moviegoers perhaps believing in, and definitely enjoying the frightening stories.

Candyman, the 1992 horror film starring Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, and Xander Berkeley combines the tales of Bloody Mary and the Hook, while placing a new spin on the legends.  In this movie, the characters summon Candyman by calling his name five times while looking into a mirror.  A man with a hook for his right hand appears and seeks revenge against those who harmed him years before.

Candyman successfully spooked the begeezus out of our group in high school, and as usual the sequels weren’t quite the same (Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman 3: Day of the Dead).

I Know What You Did Last Summer, the classic tale of The Hook, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Phillippe.  This movie follows a killer with a hook stalking four teenagers responsible for a hit and run the summer before.

Hollywood produced a few sequels, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (Jennifer Love and Freddie Prinze Jr. return with the addition of Brandy Norwood, the singer, and Mekhi Phifer) and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (all new cast), but these follow-ups lost the shock factor of the original.

Finally, let’s not forget the Urban Legend Franchise that includes tales such as the Pop Rocks and Soda story, the Kidney Heist, the Spider Bite, and the classic, Bloody Mary.

Urban Legend stars a young, popular cast of the ‘90s: Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, as well as other familiar faces like Alicia Witt, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and Freddie Kruger himself, Robert Englund.    This movie resembles more of a slasher flick, but does introduce a few of the classic urban legends within the storyline.

Similar to its predecessor, Urban Legend: Final Cut hit screens a few years later starring Jennifer Morrison, Anthony Anderson, Eva Mendes, Joey Lawrence, and Rebecca Gayheart (again). We watched as another mysterious killer makes his way across campus killing college students working on their thesis projects.

Urban Legends: Bloody Mary wraps up the franchise, but moves toward the supernatural when three friends call to Bloody Mary during a sleep over.  Instead of the usual slasher theme, this movie follows the story of a decades old murder via haunting and mysterious deaths.

Urban Legends – fact or fiction?  Share a favorite in the comment section below. 

What other movies have you enjoyed that tell the tales of the urban legend?  Is the number three the death number for an urban legend franchise (three Candyman movies, three I Know What You Did Last Summer movies, and three Urban Legend movies), or is it just coincidence?  I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: New to Fall 2011 – The CW & 1963

It’s that time of year again!  The fall television schedule is right around the corner and, as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.

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

First up, the CW:

Ringer – Supernatural Thriller

Ringer stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan Martin.  The sisters share a troubled relationship but decide to move past previously made mistakes.  The series begins as Bridget runs to her wealthy sister, Siobhan, after she witnesses a mob hit.  Matters get worse when Siobhan disappears and Bridget assumes her sister’s identity and learns her sister’s life is nothing like it seems.

Ringer premieres Tuesday, September 13th on the CW.

*****

The Secret Circle – Supernatural Drama

From the creators of The Vampire Diaries and based on the YA series by L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle follows teenager Cassie Blake (Brittany Robertson, Life Unexpected) after her mother’s death (well, murder).  Cassie moves to her mother’s hometown to live with her grandmother, where she meets a group of friends that help her uncover her destiny – she’s a witch.

She learns that their families have a deep history of witchcraft dating back hundreds of years, and in order for them 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 makes six.

The Secret Circle premieres Thursday, September 15th on the CW.

*****

Hart of Dixie – Medical Drama

Hart of Dixie stars Rachel Bilson (The O.C.) as Dr. Zoe Hart.  She accepts a job in Blueberry, Alabama working for a man she’s never met.  When she arrives, she learns that the Doctor that hired her has recently passed away and left her a portion of his practice.   Zoe must learn to work with her new partner, his daughter (Lemon Breeland, played by Jamie King of Pearl Harbor and Sin City), and adjust to life in a small southern town that is nothing at all like New York.

Hart of Dixie premieres Monday, September 26th on the CW.

*****

Next up, ABC and NBC take us back to the ‘60s:

The Playboy Club Drama

The Playboy Club focuses on the “Bunnies” of the first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963.  The series stars Amber Heard (Pineapple Express, The Stepfather) as the newest Bunny, Eddie Cibrian (Third Watch, Sunset Beach) as an attorney with ties to the Chicago mafia and an elite club member, also known as a “Keyholder”, and David Krumholtz (Numbers), as the club manager.  The program focuses on the Bunnies’ aspirations, secrets, and seductions during a time that these clubs forever changed American society.

The Playboy Club premieres Monday, September 19th on NBC.

*****

Pan Am – Drama

Another period piece from 1963, Pan Am focuses on the pilots and stewardesses of Pan American World Airways, starring Hollywood star Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, Mermaids, and Monster).  Pan Am takes us back to a time when flying was fun for everyone, when smoking was legal in the cabin, and when the pilots kept the cockpit door open for requests from the passengers.  How times have changed….

Pan Am premieres Sunday, September 25th on ABC.

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of the new shows on the CW this year?  Are you excited to relive the early days of The Playboy Club and Pan American?  Which of these shows will make it and which ones won’t? I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: TV with Bite

Vampires are especially hot right now, but technically the story of the television vampire has been popular for decades.

The history and mythology of the vampire has us believing the following to be true for the supernatural creatures: vampires have super strength, lightening fast speed, immortality, eternal youth, and no souls (therefore no conscience).  Vampires have pale skin and are cool to the touch.  They fear holy water, crucifixes, and garlic, and sunlight will burn their flesh.  Vampires sleep in coffins during the daylight hours, and walk the night in search of food, or play toys; whichever you prefer to call it.  A vampire doesn’t have a reflection and can’t enter one’s residence without a proper invitation from the homeowner.  And, most importantly, a vampire experiences the most excruciating hunger that only blood will satisfy.

Intriguing, right? But there’s more!

More often than not, the television vampire is sexy.  Whether the blood-sucker is male or female, the character is both mesmerizing and seducing, and has the power of extreme mind control.  The older TV series show their vampires transforming into bats, giving them the ability to fly away; today, the vampire possesses lightening fast speed and doesn’t have to shape shift anymore.

Over the years, the television vampire has adapted and has discovered a few ways around previous restrictions.  For one, the vampire has emulated today’s watchful eaters, such as vegetarians.  Instead of feeding on human blood, vampires may drink only the blood of animals.  Spells and elixirs have assisted today’s vampire in walking among the living in broad daylight.  And garlic?  It’s been left behind as an old superstition.

Are you hooked yet?

Future TV with Bite posts will discuss vampire television in further details, but the list below provides just a taste of my television favorites:

Dark Shadows, 1966-1971 – ABC; 1991 – NBC; 2004 – The WB, and syndicated on Chiller today

Vampire Barnabas Collins (Ben Cross) hides his curse from the young and beautiful Victoria Winters (Joanna Going) who just happens to resemble Barnabas’ previous love hundreds of years ago.

Forever Knight 1989, 1993-1996 -CBS, and syndicated on Chiller today

Detective/Vampire Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies) fights crime in an attempt to make up for his cold-blooded killings centuries before.  He manages to keep his secret from everyone, including his partner, except for the medical examiner/confidant, Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher), who provides him at times with human blood.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003 – The WB, and syndicated on multiple channels today

A young teenage slayer, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), works alongside her watcher, her witchy best friend, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) , her vampire boyfriends, Angel (David Boreanaz) and Spike (James Marsters), her human friends Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), an occasional werewolf (Seth Green) and demon (Emma Caulfield), and fellow slayer (Eliza Dushku) to protect Sunnydale from the Big Bad.

Angel, 1999-2004- The WB, and syndicated on multiple channels today

A popular spinoff from Buffy, Angel (Boreanaz) and Cordelia (Carpenter) continue to battle evil in the search for Angel’s internalized redemption alongside with new minions: Wesley (Alexis Denisof), Charles (Jaime Augusto Richards III), Winifred (Amy Acker), and Connor (Vincent Kartheiser).

Moonlight2007-2008– CBS, syndicated on Chiller and SyFy today

Private Investigator/Vampire Mick St. John (Alex O’Laughlin) and reporter, Beth (Sophia Myles), fall in love while keeping Los Angeles and Mick’s secret safe.  Mick, however, keeps an even larger secret from Beth – his vampire wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), had kidnapped Beth as a little girl, and he was the one who saved her decades ago.  Moonlight may have only lasted the one year, however it remains one of my absolute favorites.

Two of the most popular television shows on today revolve around the vampire world, True Blood on HBO, and The Vampire Diaries on The CW.  These shows are so hot, they require a future Tele-Tuesday post all their own.

While not airing new episodes, these vamp series live-on in the ever-popular syndication world: Kolchak: The Night Stalker, 1974-1975 (Chiller and SyFy); Kindred: The Embraced, 1996 (Chiller); and Blood Ties, 2007, (syndicated outside the United States).  Chiller and SyFy run a different marathon every day making it easy to catch up on these older series; check them out!

What are your thoughts on the mythological versus the television vampires?  Which is your favorite vampire television series of all time?  Who is your favorite television vampire?  Do you think these television shows will live forever like their eternal characters, or will someone jab a stake through their heart?  I’d love to hear from you!

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