Death and Evolution with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

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

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

But The Vampire Diaries is more than just Elena and the Salvatore brothers.  First, we have the three high school boys that make up Elena’s inner circle: Matt, Jeremy, and Tyler.  Next, we have Elena’s best friends: Bonnie and Caroline.  Not only are all five of these supporting cast members absolutely gorgeous, they’re likable… even when they act like the jock who’s better than everyone else (Tyler), or the ex-boyfriend who continues to be a doormat (Matt), or the little brother who will do anything to fit in (Jeremy), or the cheerleader who has to lead every single school activity… her way (Caroline).

This is the closest thing to a group still that I could find… even if Elena, Tyler, and Caroline’s backs are to us.

Heck, even a few of the late-comers won me over more than Elena and Stefan ever have.  Take the older Alaric as an example.  Perhaps I liked Alaric because he was closer to my age, as well as a nice piece of eye candy.  But even when he was a hunter and he was trying to kill the vampire population, I still had a small TV crush on him.

Throughout the seasons, each character has become more and more evolved as well, building stronger and stronger individual arcs and making viewers like me appreciate them more than I already did.  Matt is the only human remaining out of the original cast members; Jeremy was cursed as a hunter; Tyler transformed into a werewolf and later into a hybrid (werewolf/vampire combination), courtesy of Klaus; Bonnie inherited her family’s ability to cast spells and has evolved into a powerful witch; and Katherine, Elena’s evil doppelganger, turned Caroline into a vampire, making her into what my family likes to call “Vampire Barbie.”  Even boring Elena and Stefan have turned it up a notch since the beginning with Elena now joining the vampire ranks and the on/again off/again moments where viewers experience “bad” Stefan, or Ripper Stefan.

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

Jenna and Alaric…

Many other characters have come and gone over the years, some by means of shocking deaths, but nothing could have prepared me for what transpired recently.  Since it has been over a week since the last new episode aired, I imagine it’s safe to discuss what happened.  But if anyone has yet to catch up, now would be the time to look away.

Previously, viewers had watched as Elena witnessed Klaus kill her aunt Jenna.  Jenna didn’t play a huge role, but she was involved enough to make many of us cry when she died.  Then there was Alaric’s death.  I, like so many, thought for sure he didn’t really die… the show would not do that… Alaric was one of the most popular characters on the show… he was the last adult/family figure to poor, orphaned Jeremy and Elena… but the writers really did kill him off.  There was hope for a little while that Alaric would be back as a ghost, and we saw him visit his buddy Damon a few times; but now the actor who played Alaric has his own CW show, so it’s doubtful he’ll be back now.

But the most recent death comes as the most shocking—Jeremy.  Prior to his suffering the hunter’s curse, we watched human Jeremy die multiple times; but as long as he was wearing his family ring at the time of his death, he could not die from a supernatural attack.  So when the new evil vamp, Silas, drained Jeremy of all his blood and snapped his neck, viewers still had hope—as did Elena.  But the ring no longer protected Jeremy; after all, he was a hunter now, a supernatural being in his own right.  His death was real this time and heart wrenching.  And even the usual boring and whiney Elena touched me when she finally realized her baby brother was gone for good this time, especially when she burned his corpse and her family home to the ground.

Jeremy… how the little Gilbert has matured over the years.

Why this was the direction the writers and creators felt the need to take is beyond me.  Perhaps the actor who played Jeremy wanted to pursue other projects… okay, send him away for a while like has been done in the past with both his character and Tyler’s.  But kill him?  And burn him?  Look, I’m a writer and understand we have to kill off our characters sometimes, but this seems like emotional overkill if you ask me.

Who knows if Jeremy will appear in any more episodes… even if he does, there’s no telling what these said appearances will entail—could be flashbacks, could be hauntings; but regardless, it won’t be the same without him.

Only three things can redeem the direction of this season for me at this point: “bad” Elena (Damon used his sire bond to turn her humanity off when she realized Jeremy was indeed dead), more Damon, and more Klaus.

Klaus… he’s so misunderstood.

Klaus—the evil Original with the sexy accent we’ve all grown to love over the years.  I’ve actually wanted to hug Klaus multiple times, and he’s supposed to be the BIG EVIL of the show.  Poor Klaus is so misunderstood and he really does let his feelings get the best of him, like any one of the multiple times he has come to the realization after the fact that Caroline is only playing his feelings for her to get what she and the group needs from him.  And Big Bad Klaus really does love his family, as evident when he witnessed his brother’s death at the Gilbert house this season… even if he has previously daggered them so they don’t interfere with his plans.

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

Give Klaus an opportunity at his own show!  Airing as an episode of The Vampire Diaries on April 24th, viewers will catch a glimpse of what it will be like having Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah outside Mystic Falls.  Instead, this backdoor pilot will take place in New Orleans.   The potential spinoff will follow our favorite Originals and introduce a few new vamps, witches, and humans, as well as bring along Tyler’s seductive werewolf friend, Haley.

I can see Haley being a real pain in Klaus’s side…

A few years ago, Fox tested the waters of a new drama by airing a backdoor pilot during an episode of the hit, Bones.  “The Finder” episode did well enough to land its own spot on the Fox lineup and lasted all of one season before it was cancelled.  Let’s hope “The Originals” pulls in a high enough ranking for the CW to grant it a full season order, giving us more Damon screen time on The Vampire Diaries and more Klaus all at the same time.  Only this go around, let’s hope the long-term results fare better for our favorite bloodsucking Originals than it did the cast of The Finder.

After all, I would personally love another hour of supernatural TV to watch every week…

How about you?  What do you think about The Vampire Diaries most recent death?  Do you plan to check out “The Originals” when it airs?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tele-Tuesday: A Pick Per Night 2012, The Results

The results of our first Reader’s Choice Tele-Tuesday polls are in.  Last week, we asked our readers one simple question: if you could watch only one show per night, what would it be?

If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that as time changes, people change.  Last March, we blogged about our 2011 Pick Per Night television series.  But because the networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of twelve months, our tastes as viewers change as well.  While some of these programs still air today, most of our nightly favorites have changed because of the revolving door of television series.

Did our picks from 2011 win in 2012?  Did the Tele-Tuesday readers agree with our picks?  Find out today in A Pick Per Night 2012.

Monday: Pretty Little Liars

The series begins when a teenager’s remains (Alison) are found one year after her mysterious disappearance.  This event brings together her four former best friends (Aria, Emily, Spencer, and Hanna), who had drifted apart following that fateful night.  Alison was the glue that held the girls together, the leader of the high school clique.  As the episodes progress, viewers see flashbacks of Alison’s viciousness and many of the secrets that she holds over everyone’s heads – not a nice girl.

After attending Alison’s funeral, the four friends reunite outside the chapel when each of their cell phones ring – they’ve received their first threatening text message from “A” – and the mystery begins: Who killed Alison? And, who is “A”?

Each of the girls have oodles of conflict surrounding them individually, even without “A” threatening their every move.  Throw in the suspicions the police and their parents have regarding their involvement in Alison’s murder, and the lies they continuously try to hide despite “A’s” best efforts, and Pretty Little Liars doesn’t bore its viewers – it has twists and turns week in and week out.

Reader’s Choice: Castle.  We’re really not surprised that Castle won Monday night with 32% of the vote; really, we’re not.  But we like to go against the grain sometimes, and that’s why Tele-Tuesday picked a show that we feel more people should check out with Pretty Little Liars (which earned only 3% of the vote).  We thought Hawaii Five-0 would come in second, but that honor went to Other with 24% of the vote.

Tuesday: Justified

Everyone has heard of a justified shooting, right?  Well, justified shootings are Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens’ forte.  Despite being a loose cannon himself, Raylan appears quite normal when compared to his Kentucky kin.  Entangled with really BAD criminals, Harlan County relies on Raylan as does the Marshal Service, his ex-wife, his ex-girlfriend, and his con-ex-best friend, Boyd Crowder.

Need a reason to tune in?  Boyd Crowder is definitely one of the best antagonists on television.

Need another reason to watch?  Timothy Olyphant.

Enough said.

Reader’s Choice: NCIS.  Last year, NCIS’s sister program (NCIS: LA) made our Pick Per Night blog post, but this year 29% of our readers chose NCIS as the favorite.  Our Tele-Tuesday pick, Justified, came in second with 19% of the vote.

Wednesday: Revenge

Revenge follows Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne, a young and beautiful addition to the rich and prestigious Hamptons.   However, Emily’s arrival isn’t her first trip to the neighborhood… when she was a little girl, Emily (then known as Amanda) and her father lived in the quaint beach house next door to her father’s boss and his mansion.  Late one night, Amanda’s father was ripped away from her for crimes that later sent him to prison for the rest of his life.

Not necessarily believing in his innocence, Amanda rebelled and spent time incarcerated herself.  The day Amanda was released from prison, she was greeted by a stranger with life changing news: her father was dead, he had been framed, and she was now filthy rich.

Amanda assumes a new identity as Emily Thorne and sets her plan in motion vowing revenge against those responsible – primarily the Grayson family. Each week, Emily destroys someone involved with her father’s demise.

Does it get much sweeter than Revenge?

Reader’s Choice: Criminal Minds.  Last year we would have agreed with the 25% of readers who feel that Criminal Minds is the best show on Wednesday nights.  But that was before the second place winner (Revenge at 22%) hit the airwaves…

Thursday: The Vampire Diaries

What makes The Vampire Diaries so successful?  For one, the allure of the vampire will always seduce a television audience.  Secondly, production cast perhaps the most beautiful ensemble on TV.  And, most importantly, the writing is absolutely stellar.

Maybe some of us tune in to The Vampire Diaries weekly to drool over the beautiful people (particularly vampires Damon and Klaus), but most of us watch because of the writing.  Without giving too much away, the writing on The Vampire Diaries is enough to attract all ages.  Really. It is.

The first season focuses on the history of vampires and witches in Mystic Falls.  Season two continues with the Katherine/doppelganger storyline and also introduces the werewolf curse.  The suspense, sexual tension, and the twists and turns involving every character are perhaps some of the best on television.  We’re smack dab in the middle of season three now, watching as a resurrected witch decides the fate of her family of vampires and we can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us!

Reader’s Choice: BonesBones is a Tele-Tuesday favorite around here, and came in first place on Thursday night’s with 18% of the vote.  The Vampire Diaries and Person of Interest tied for second place with 16% each.

Friday: Supernatural

Brothers Sam & Dean Winchester hunt – not the usual game like ducks and deer – but to save the world from demons, vampires, shape-shifters, the Apocalypse, the leviathan, the devil, the mother of all evil, etc…

Sam and Dean are bad boys: Sam has been possessed by the devil and has enjoyed demon’s blood as a power source; Dean drinks (alcohol) heavily and he is promiscuous.  Both brothers are on the FBI’s most wanted list (it has nothing to do with their impersonating an officer repeatedly, and the trunk of their car resembles an arsenal of men at war.  Why?  Because they are at war – a war of hunting and killing the supernatural evils plaguing the world today.

Did I mention the music?  The music definitely deserves a best supporting character nod at some point…  “Carry on my wayward son.”

Reader’s Choice: Other.  Friday night is a big night on television, yet Other still won with 22% of the readers’ votes.  Grimm tied with Supernatural for second place with 19% each.

Saturday: The Firm

The Firm television series picks up ten years after Mitch McDeere turns in his law firm’s documents to the FBI, proving they were overbilling clients (the plot from the novel and the movie).  The story continues as these said documents lead the FBI to take over the law firm and uncover piles of other files incriminating the mob, who has in turn set their sights on Mitch and his family as retribution.

It seems each chapter (episode) will feature bits and pieces of three different plots: a minor storyline, an ongoing storyline, and one major storyline.

The minor:  Mitch will represent a new individual case each week, like when he takes on a dirty judge.

The ongoing:  The mafia will follow and chase after Mitch and his family for his actions in Memphis (fallout from the movie plot).

The major:  Mitch will continue to research the Sarah Holt case – a client on trial for murdering an older woman while in her care.  This story qualifies as the major plot line because unbeknownst to Mitch, his new firm is interested in THIS case.  The firm isn’t interested in Miss Holt, the woman Mitch represents; they are interested in protecting their client – Noble Insurance.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away for those who haven’t been enjoying chapter after chapter with me, but we do see a glimpse of truth behind the mystery in each episode.  The Firm doesn’t keep us guessing, not completely anyway, week after week like some frustrating shows.

Reader’s Choice: Other.  There’s not much to choose from on Saturday nights, and Other won outright with 75%.  The Firm came in second with 25%.

Sunday: The Walking Dead

The supernatural element is taking over the television world today, and AMC joins this phenomenon by telling the story of a small group of people working feverishly to survive a widespread zombie epidemic in the great state of Georgia in The Walking Dead.  The series begins with small town sheriff Rick Grimes waking from a coma to discover he is alone in every sense of the word: the hospital is desolate, the town looks like a post-apocalyptic war zone, and his family has vanished.

The Walking Dead is shot without the vibrant colors of Hawaii Five-0 and CSI: Miami, but while not black and white, still appears dark and gloomy in relation to the current state of events.  The episodes are not for those with weak stomachs and are filled with suspense, leaving us hanging on by the seat of our pants.  Not every character is likable, yet we find ourselves hoping that the walkers don’t bite anyone else.

And most importantly, not every character is safe from the walkers…

Reader’s Choice: Other.  Yes, with all of our options on Sunday nights, 25% of our readers voted on Other.  The Walking Dead came in second at 22%.

Did your favorite win?  If not, what is it and tell us why it should have?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Many noticed that our poll last week only consisted of dramas.  In a few weeks (next week we’re going to introduce a few new shows coming in April), we will poll which comedies reign supreme today.  Which major network will have the most watched sitcoms?  Which sitcom will come out on top?  We hope to see you then…

 

Tele-Tuesday: Reader’s Pick Per Night – The Polls

This month marks the one year anniversary (or blogiversary as we’ve gotten to know it around the blogosphere) of The Ooo Factor.  One year seems like a long time, but in all honesty the blog posts have flown by and I’ve had a great time sharing my television addiction with everyone on a weekly basis.  Blogging has actually given my obsessive TV watching purpose, and has made me feel better about the amount of television I watch each and every night.  And whether or not my readers can believe it, I have much more to share!

If we’ve learned anything as we’ve moved through the years, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.

Whew; that sounded borderline serious for a second.   But it’s true…

But other things change too, like the revolving door of television programs.  The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  In celebration of the past twelve months here at Tele-Tuesday, we’ve decided to update a few of our older posts that don’t necessarily stand true any longer (whether it be because the networks moved our shows around or because some new hit has taken its place).

Last year, we blogged about our 2011 Pick Per Night television series.  While some of our choices still air today, we may have a different favorite that has taken over on that particular night of the week and we feel an obligation to update our readers with the 2012 choices.  But before we do, we’d like to know what everyone else watches.

If you could choose only one show per night, what would it be?

Did your favorite show make the list?  If not, what is it?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Next week, we will announce what our viewers prefer to watch and what we here at Tele-Tuesday mark as our #1 must watch programs in a Pick Per Night 2012.

 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Preparing for the New Year

Today, Amber West and I take another look back at one of our previous Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts.  We figured that everyone is recovering from their holiday hangover right about now, so we too decided to take a tiny break and repost a previous WatchWed review.    

Reposting this particular post couldn’t have come at a better time.  With the new year on the horizon, we thought it would be worth everyone’s time to share how we determine our DVR Priorities… just in case we can help anyone struggling with the decisions of which television program to record and why. 

How do we determine our DVR Priorities?

Setting the DVR is a serious business at Casa Blanca.  A certain someone might just go into cardiac arrest if her favorite TV shows don’t record properly.  Okay… it’s a figurative heart attack, not a literal medical emergency – but try telling her it’s not a big deal. 

So, what qualifies as a DVR priority in Casa Blanca?  The episodic series that don’t feature special encore presentations or reruns later in the week are the number one priority in our house.  Ironically, these shows aren’t necessarily all GTV rated programs.

One might ask, if the television program doesn’t earn a top Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday rating, why should it be considered a DVR priority?  Because if we record an hour-long show on the DVR, we can fast forward through the commercials saving twenty minutes of our day! 

When someone (not naming any names) records anywhere from five to seven programs a night, saving those twenty minutes is crucial to making our TV viewing as efficient as possible

So, let’s begin…

Take Survivor for instance – this reality sensation, hosted by the ever-adorable Jeff Probst, does not air again if missed at its original time slot.  Does Survivor earn a GTV rating?  No, but it is definitely a guilty pleasure and sits firmly as a MacTV favorite.  The same can be said for Big Brother because we don’t have another chance if we miss a show.    

Survivor returns February 2012

Sometimes we can rely on the basic five (ABC, CBS, the CW, FOX, and NBC) to air the occasional rerun, but it’s never guaranteed; therefore, Hawaii Five-0, Criminal Minds, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Bones, and Chuck sit high upon the DVR priority list (all receive a GTV rating, by the way). 

The cable channels (USA, TNT, and FX specifically) replay their original programming, so even if the DVR experiences a glitch while recording, we can schedule a future recording to ensure we stay on top of our series.  THANK YOU, cable networks; especially since so many of these channels produce top-notch GTV rated television: Psych, Burn Notice, The Closer, Justified and American Horror Story just to name a few.

Justified returns January 2012

Last week, one of our favorite and most loyal readers disagreed with the fact that The Walking Dead did not receive an undisputed GTV rating.  First of all, we can’t express enough how much it means to have a faithful following, and we specifically ask for our readers to respond and spark up healthy debates.  For that, we thank you, Andrew!  When Mr. Mocete speaks, we listen here at WatchWed – but that doesn’t mean we still don’t feel the need to back up our rating system. 

The Walking Dead returns February 2012

The Walking Dead did receive half a GTV rating with the newly awarded TBP rating – a twice baked potato is the best of both worlds: gourmet and junk food.  But regardless of the rating, AMC’s hit show receives top priority on our DVR for the mere fact it brings zombies (eh-hem, walkers) to the TV.  We can’t miss the walkers – the supernatural is a must in this house. 

We’re kind of going against our earlier rule about reruns with this next DVR priority, but at the same time, we’re sticking with the newly established supernatural rule.  While Death Valley only receives a JFTV rating, what other television program brings us thirty minutes of zombie, werewolf, and vampire comedy?   Trust us, it’s not the best television available today – but it is one of a kind and we look forward to the silliness and gore every Monday night before bed.    

Pretty Little Liars returns January 2012

The insurgence of YA mystery on TV also receives a DVR priority in this YA mystery writer’s house.   ABC Family provides mystery lovers with two fantastic on-going whodunits with Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game.  Again, neither receives a top GTV rating (although the mystery factor of each one deserves a top review), but both series definitely qualify as a guilty pleasure and earn a MacTV rating.  

Who in the world is A?  What additional secrets will Sutton and Emma uncover?  This thirtysomething loves the constant intrigue of these two young adult television shows – if an episode answers a question, it guarantees to develop two or three more before the hour expires. 

So, to recap:  When considering DVR priorities in Casa Blanca, we go with episodic TV without encore presentations or the possibility of reruns.  We ignore the rating scale for once, and go with what we may miss if we don’t schedule ahead of time.  And finally, while we didn’t set out for this to actually qualify as a rule, it appears that any programming with supernatural elements or a good YA mystery finds a home high atop our recording list.

What determines DVR priority in your house?  Which show is your #1 Priority on the DVR?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out which one of her Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts she wants to share with everyone once again before the end of the year. 

Come back next year, I mean next week, when Amber and I re-review the fairy tales, Grimm and Once Upon a Time.  We left them simmering last time, have they worked their way up the rating’s chart?

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

Friday FabOoolousness – Stephanie Nelson, Craved and Deceived

I met author Stephanie Nelson in a Facebook writers group, courtesy of the fabOoolous Liz Schulte.  Stephanie is one of the nicest and most supportive writers I have met.  She’s not afraid to tell us how she feels, how she accomplished her writing feats, and she doesn’t shy away from helping the rest of us accomplish our dreams.

Stephanie Nelson, Author

Stephanie’s life forever changed when she picked up the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.  Not only did our Stephanie discover the paranormal romance genre, but her addiction to books was born.

Like most writers, Stephanie started to read book after book, liking some and disliking others.  The more she read, the faster her stories and characters formed, and she took to writing.

After approximately four years of finding her comfort zone, Stephanie found her exact story.  Earlier this year, Stephanie released Craved, a paranormal romance introducing heroin Gwen Sparks.  Her second book in the series, Deceived, hits the online markets in early January.

Before we get started, here’s a little taste of Craved and Deceived to get everyone in the mood…

Craved:

Gwen Sparks just wants to live a peaceful life in the supernatural town of Flora, but from the moment she reads about the first murdered witch, all hope of peace is abandoned. Possessing the rare ability to read the memories of the dead, she volunteers to help catch the culprit behind the string of drained witches. Gwen has to team up with the one man who broke her heart, deal with a ghost who pulls her into the deathly realm at will, and fight off the advances of sexy but frustrating vampire who not only craves what runs through her veins — he wants her heart.

Deceived:

Gwen’s life has been a downward spiral since she discovered vampires crave witches blood. She’s summoned to Moon, the town of witches, where she learns that a war is brewing and she’s the secret weapon. Paired with the Angel of Death, it becomes quickly evident that she’s more powerful than she ever realized. But this reaper isn’t the robe wearing, scythe carrying kind – he’s a ruggedly handsome handful that has his eye on Gwen. As if that isn’t enough, she’s still tormented by Ian Desperaux’s constant intrusion into her thoughts and dreams. As Gwen struggles to balance her responsibility to the witches’ council and her secret relationship with her vampire boyfriend, Aiden, she’ll soon discover exactly what it means to be DECEIVED.

*****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

Not at all. When I was a little girl I worshiped Bobby Brown – not the R&B singer, the supermodel. I wanted to be just like her. Eventually, my dream of becoming a supermodel changed to wanting to just photograph supermodels. I prefer being behind the camera rather than in front of it.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I write what I would want to read—paranormal romance. I find that music helps me get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper. I’ve tried writing without music and I just stare at the computer screen like a confused zombie.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, Patricia Briggs, Elle Jasper, Jane Austen, Karen Marie Moning. The list could go on and on…

The cover art for your books is amazing.  Did you design them yourself?

I designed the layout for Craved but was still a newbie to Photoshop, so I paid someone to put it together for me. The Deceived cover is 100% me.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Tell us why you chose Megan Fox for the role of Gwen.  Did you have her in mind from the development stages or later on?

I actually didn’t have any celebrity pictured while I wrote. I knew what Gwen looked like in my head, but finding someone who resembles a fictional person you have made up is a bit difficult. Megan Fox was the closest I could find that matched Gwen, at least in the looks department; their personalities so do not match.

Ditto with Matt Bomer as Aiden.  Anytime Matt is mentioned, we must find a way to weave him into the conversation….

Aiden is actually taller and more muscular, but again, Matt Bomer was as close to a real person that I could compare Aiden to. Not to mention, Matt is gorgeous and has to-die-for smirks and glances that make me sigh.

And Ryan Phillippe as Ian.  I think I froze on your website for at least thirty minutes remembering Cruel Intentions.

Yeah, well Ryan plays an excellent bad guy. Ian is sexy on the outside, and a monster on the inside. I don’t know what this says about Mr. Phillippe, but I instantly thought of him as Ian.  LOL!

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Ryan Phillippe, the previous question sorta had something to do with that.  LOL!

Your Gwen Sparks series delves into the paranormal world.  What is your favorite supernatural creature and why?

I’d have to say vampires, although if I ever met one I’d be terrified. I think it has something to do with living forever, plus their strength, speed, and healing abilities. For reasons unknown, vampires have always been written as sensual characters, which I find funny since they kill us. Maybe that’s the reason why we love them. It’s like playing with fire without getting burned. I think all of the vampire craze would disappear if they really existed.

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Hobbies, what are those? Since I became an author, I really don’t have time for anything else. My world now revolves around my computer, which is sad, but what are ya gonna do, ya know? I used to enjoy sewing, playing board games, fishing, and reading. Yep, even reading is rare for me now.  After I publish book two, I plan to take some time away from my computer and recharge my batteries, so maybe I’ll find time to visit my hobbies again.

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your favorite television programs airing today? 

Psych, The Big Bang Theory, Bones, Supernatural, and The Vampire Dairies.

What is your favorite movie all-time?

Hmmm, I love movies but one that I’ll never tire of watching is Pride and Prejudice.

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater?

Nachos

Cats or Dogs?

Both, I’m a HUGE animal lover.

*****

See?  Stephanie is down to earth and as friendly as they come!

Want more Stephanie?  Be sure to visit her website and blog, follower her on Twitter, and like her Facebook author page.

In addition to the Gwen Sparks series, look for Stephanie’s first book (Taming the Wolf) in her new Anna Avery series releasing in early 2012.

Do you have a question for Stephanie?  Have you read Craved, and if so share your thoughts here!  What’s your favorite supernatural creature and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tele-Tuesday: Right to Remain Dreamy – TV’s Top Criminals We Love to Love

Who doesn’t love a man in uniform?  A man wearing a badge and toting a gun?  And sometimes even a man running from the authorities, fighting hard to stand his ground and protect his own?

Tele-Tuesday joins three other authors this week to introduce our favorite TV men – some with badges, and others running from said badges.  Liz Schulte and Cait Lavender will share a few of the law men we love to love, while Elizabeth Sharp and I take down the men running from the authorities (who happen to be just as sexy).

As television viewers, we believe in both the cops and the cons, don’t we?  Both types of men fight to protect their own and believe their actions to be justified.  Both types of men believe whole-heartedly in their convictions and will stop at nothing to rid the world of evil.  Both types of men also have the ability to sweep a damsel off her feet, and woo even the best of us; don’t they?

Here at Tele-Tuesday, we hold a special place in our heart for those we know stand on the wrong side of the law – the men who alleviate the world of mass murderers and killers; the men who track and hunt the supernatural forces trying to overcome the world as we know it; the men who aren’t afraid to shoot first and ask questions later; and even the men with all the charm in the world, who might just steal our riches out from under us.

Dexter Morgan, Dexter

Dexter Morgan protects Miami – as a blood spatter analyst for the police department by day, and as a vigilante/serial killer by night.  Dexter only murders other cold-blooded killers; that justifies his actions, right? Deep down, he’s a family man, even if he refuses to admit that he has a conscience.

Damon Salvatore, Vampire Diaries

Damon is an arrogant, selfish, and dangerous vampire.  He lacks remorse, and he is unpredictable.  He lives in a world of isolation, but continues searching for acceptance and love.  Damon isn’t afraid to tear someone’s head off or rip out his heart; isn’t that right, Mason Lockwood?  But it’s all in the name of love – his love for Elena.  We all secretly wish Damon would do the same for us, especially when he flashes that crooked smirk.

Dean Winchester, Supernatural

Dean drinks and he is promiscuous; he’s on the FBI’s most wanted list (it has nothing to do with his impersonating an officer repeatedly); and the trunk of his car resembles an arsenal of a man at war.  Why?  Because he is at war – a war of hunting and killing the supernatural evils plaguing the world today.  He may complain now and then, but for the most part, as long as he’s driving around in his baby (’67 Chevy Impala) and listening to classic rock and roll with his brother, he keeps the rest of the world safe.

Boyd Crowder, Justified

Boyd, Boyd.  What hasn’t he done?  He has robbed banks; he has been involved with the narcotics trade; he has destroyed his competition with rocket launchers (“Fire in the Hole”); and he has led a white supremacy group.  But he’s really not all bad; promise.  He does want to be good; he believes in the Bible and he always helps his good friend (US Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens) when he comes calling.  But why do we really love Boyd?  It’s all about the hair…

Neal Caffrey, White Collar

Neal is the best of the best in the con world, or at least he was.  Forced to turn his life of forgery, robbery, and crime around after his arrest, Neal now works alongside the FBI to solve some of the government’s most difficult white-collar crimes.  But once a con, always a con; right?  Will Neal ever truly follow the letter of the law to a “T”?  We sure hope not; we like him just the way he is.

Doesn’t the allure of these bad boys keep us coming back for more and more, week in and week out?

What do you think?  Are you a fan of Dexter, Damon, Dean, Boyd, or Neal?  Which of TV’s criminals do you love to love – past or present?  We’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Elizabeth Sharp’s blog to see the rest of our bad boy lineup, and then hop over to Liz Schulte and Cait Lavender’s page to see which of TV’s men with badges are standing on the other side of the one-way glass….

Tele-Tuesday: The Long Lost Family Drama

Last week, we reminisced about the popular family sitcoms of the 1980s including favorites Who’s the Boss?, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Growing Pains, and The Wonder Years.  The Ooo Factor viewers remembered even more with shows like Alf and The Hogan Family – weren’t these sitcoms great?  These television shows allowed real-life families to join around the living room TV set and watch television families work through the dysfunction in their “make-believe” lives while making us laugh.

But the family oriented thirty minute situational comedy isn’t the only thing missing from television programming today – where’s the one hour family drama?  We touched on Life Goes On and Our House last week – two one hour dramas that focused on family units resolving difficult issues like dealing with a brother’s disability or a father’s death.

The 1980s provided many great honest-to-goodness family dramas that were safe for children of all ages to watch alongside their moms and dads such as:

Highway to Heaven

Quantum Leap

We also cherished the ABC after school special in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Remember those?  Kids learned valuable lessons like: handling the difficulties surrounding blended families after moms and dads remarry; understanding the dangers of drug use, drinking, and unprotected sex; as well as learning how to cope with molestation and rape.

Perhaps one of the most brilliant aspects of the after school special was the network’s casting of young TV heart-throbs like Scott Baio (Charles in Charge), Billy Warlock (Days of our Lives), and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) to play vital roles in the made-for-TV movies.

Speaking of the ‘90s, this decade didn’t take a complete detour from family programming and produced multi-year hits like:

 7th Heaven

Party of Five

Once and Again

One of our favorites was the short-lived Get Real starring Jon Tenney (The Closer), Deborah Farrentino, Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries), Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA), and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) as the Green family.

Looking back, what a fantastic cast!

Mom and dad Green had their issues (for example, mom suspected dad of cheating), and the teenagers definitely had their issues (the usual sibling rivalry, secrets, and coping situations).  The Greens resembled what we’d consider a normal family today – they struggled, they loved, and they learned.  The program walked its viewers through the family decisions, as they hoped to reach a positive outcome, but didn’t always succeed. Unfortunately, this series failed after twenty episodes.

But mostly, the ‘90s began what we now know as YA television with dramas appropriate for teenagers, but perhaps not children under the age of twelve with programs including:

Beverly Hills 90210

My So Called Life

Television airs many of these YA programs today such as The Vampire Diaries, The Lying Game, Pretty Little Liars, and The Secret Circle to name a few.  While great TV, watching these shows is a tad risky for the younger audience, mostly due to the high volumes of violence and sex.

In 2010, ABC tried their hand at a family friendly drama similar to those we watched in the ‘80s and ‘90s that was appropriate for all ages, but No Ordinary Family was pulled from the air waves after a short first season.  Why didn’t this show make it?  Apparently it lacked viewers.

Why weren’t families watching No Ordinary Family?  The series started when mom (Julie Benz) and dad (Michael Chiklis) take the kids on a much needed vacation to strengthen their family unit, and they return with superpowers: the mom has super speed, the dad has super strength, the teenage son has a super brain, and the teenage daughter has telepathic abilities.  No Ordinary Family had the ever-important family dynamic, was full of motion-picture-esque action sequences, and taught morals like the importance of not cheating in school no matter the reason, yet this program fell victim to the network’s axe after twenty episodes.

 

Instead, shows like the Secret Life of the American Teenager, a drama that focuses primarily on teenage sex and pregnancy, last for multiple seasons.

Just something to think about…

Obviously, family television has changed over the years – is it for better or worse?  What ’80s and ‘90s family dramas did you enjoy?   Which one-hour drama does your family watch today?  Is it considered a family drama?  I’d love to hear from you!

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!

Tele-Tuesday: TV with Bite – The Vampire Diaries

 

What makes The Vampire Diaries so successful?  For one, the allure of the vampire will always seduce a television audience.  Secondly, production cast perhaps the most beautiful ensemble on TV.  And, most importantly, the writing is absolutely stellar.

Based on the YA series of the same name by L.J. Smith, The Vampire Diaries attracts teenage and adult viewers alike every Thursday night for the CW network.  So, why is it so popular?

#1 – The Vampire

Vampires have mesmerized readers, movie-goers, and television viewers for decades.  In addition to a vampire’s ability to compel a human, they also possess seductive traits including super strength, lightening fast speed, immortality, and eternal youth.  How is it that biting into the neck of a human is sexy?  It just is.

#2 – Beautiful People

Elena Gilbert played by Nina Dobrev (Degrassi: The Next Generation), is a human teenager surrounded by the supernatural.  Dobrev also plays Elena’s doppelganger, Katherine Pierce – vampire maker of the Salvatore brothers.

Elena loses both parents in a car accident, and later learns that she is adopted.  She dates vampire Stefen, while shamelessly shelving her attraction to his vampire brother, Damon.

Stefen Salvatore played by Paul Wesley (Wolf Lake, Everwood), is a 150 year old vampire.  Stefen is the good again/bad again vampire.

In the 1920s, “bad” Stefen, also known as the “Ripper,” leaves a long trail of bodies during his tenure in the greater Chicago area.  A friendly vampire later saves Stefen, and she teaches him to feed on animals, not humans.  “Good” Stefen then saves Elena from the car crash that claims her parents’ lives, and he instantly falls in love with the Katherine look-alike and resumes residency in Mystic Falls to be near her.

Damon Salvatore played by Ian Somerhalder (Lost), is Stefen’s older brother, and he is also a 150 year old vampire.  Damon is the “bad” boy with bite that we all love to love.  Like Stefen, Damon adored Katherine and he similarly shares the same feelings for Elena; and, just like in the 1800s, Damon suffers as Elena chooses his brother over him.  Why can’t Damon catch a break?

Unlike his brother, Damon never claims to be the “good” vampire.  Damon returns to Mystic Falls to make his little brother’s life a living hell.  He laughs at Stefen for preferring animal blood over human, and Damon has no problem compelling females to get what he needs – sex, blood, and/or information. Regardless of his intentions to make Stefen’s life miserable, Damon will do anything to protect his brother – just don’t tell anybody or he will deny it.

Jeremy Gilbert played by Steven R. McQueen (Everwood and Piranha 3D; and yes, he is Steve McQueen’s grandson) is Elena’s little brother.  Like his sister, Jeremy is human; however since being brought back from the dead by his witch girlfriend, he sees the ghosts of his former vampire girlfriends.

As with  generations of Gilberts before him, Jeremy wears a magically protected ring preventing him from dying any supernatural death.

Caroline Forbes played by Candice Accola, or “Vampire Barbie” as she’s called in our house, began the series as a human.  Caroline’s the bossy teenage best friend of Elena, but that friendship doesn’t stop her from being extremely jealous of Elena.

Seizing an opportunity, vampire Katherine turns Caroline after a car accident hoping to use her against Elena and the Salvatores.  Katherine failed.  Caroline might just be my favorite character on the show, behind Damon of course.

Bonnie Bennett played by Kat Graham (Honey 2), is best friends with Elena and Caroline.  She recently discovered that she is an extremely powerful witch, and she continues to increase her powers by learning witchcraft via spells from her ancestors.

Bonnie is dating Jeremy, but so far in season three she has been MIA.

Matt Donovan played by Zach Roerig (As the World Turns), is one of the rare humans roaming the streets of Mystic Falls.  Matt previously dated Elena and Caroline, and is now a bit spooked since learning about all of his supernatural friends.

Even though they are his closest friends, Matt finds it difficult to trust the vampires because they killed his sister.

Tyler Lockwood played by Michael Trevino (Cane), is the resident high school jock and cursed werewolf.  After his father’s death, his uncle Mason arrives hoping to reclaim the family moonstone – a stone necessary to break the werewolf curse; and, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, a stone also required for an original to transform into a hybrid.

Both thrust into the world of the supernatural, Tyler and Caroline continue to grow closer.

Alaric  “Ric” Saltzman played by Matt Davis (Legally Blonde), teaches at Mystic Falls High.  Rick came to town a vampire hunter, however now he assumes the role of “protector” for the Salvatores and Gilberts, as well as their vampire and werewolf friends.

Ric is cursed on the relationship front : his ex-wife/deceased vampire Isobel, is Elena’s mother (therefore, similar to Jeremy, he also possesses a Gilbert protection ring); and his girlfriend, Jenna (Elena and Jeremy’s aunt) was recently turned and killed as a part of Klaus’ plan to take over the supernatural world.

Klaus/Nick played by Joseph Morgan (Hex, Mansfield Park), is one of the “original” vampires, and is also a new breed called a hybrid (vampire/werewolf) courtesy of a witch’s spell – the simultaneous death of a werewolf, vampire, and doppelganger.

Klaus is one bad vamp.  The current episodes are airing just enough back story so the viewers can learn a tad bit more about this original and his sister, Rebecca, who is in love with Stefen.  Uh-oh, Elena!

#3 – The Writing

Without giving too much away, the writing on The Vampire Diaries is enough to attract all ages.  Really. It is.

The first season focuses on the history of the vampire and witch in Mystic Falls.  Season two continues with the Katherine/doppelganger storyline and also introduces the werewolf curse.  The suspense, sexual tension, and the twists and turns involving every character is perhaps some of the best on television.  Season three just started a few weeks ago, and we can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us!

 

Do you watch The Vampire Diaries?  Did you read the books?  What do you like/dislike about the YA series versus the TV series?  Who’s your favorite character and why?  Better yet – Stefen or Damon? 

Do you think when it’s all said and done, that The Vampire Diaries will rival Buffy the Vampire Slayer as one of the best supernatural series of all time?  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!