Tele-Tuesday: Revenge is Sweet…

Fall television 2011 has brought us a large lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.  These new shows hope to find a permanent home on the networks, while some have already vanished from the TV schedule (R.I.P. The Playboy Club and Free Agents). 

Not everyone watches as much television as this crazy girl.  So, after giving almost all of the new shows a try, I’ve picked a few that have definitely peaked my interest.  For those of you with just enough time for a few programs a week, this is for you! 

Part I

The return of the night-time soap opera… Wednesday Nights on ABC – Revenge

Revenge stars Emily VanCamp (Everwood) as 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, 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 her own 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’s father believed in and secretly invested in a young man named Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann) when no one else would.  Nolan awarded Mr. Clarke forty-nine percent of his company in return for the investment, and his investment was now worth millions.  When Amanda’s father died in prison, all of his assets were awarded to Amanda. 

But something greater came with these riches – a map and information on each and every person responsible for framing her father and sending him to prison.  Amanda assumes a new identity as Emily Thorne and sets her plan in motion vowing revenge against those responsible – primarily the Grayson family. 

After establishing herself around the world as an educated and philanthropic young lady, Emily returns to the Hamptons and rents the beach house where she spent time with her father; the house where he was so abruptly taken from her.   

In each episode, Emily destroys someone involved with her father’s demise: her father’s assistant and current mistress to Conrad Grayson, Lydia Davis (Amber Valletta); her father’s closest friend and a corrupt hedge fund manager, Bill Harmon (Matthew Glave); and the district attorney who prosecuted her father and current state senator, Tom Kingsley (Yancey Arias).

But who are Emily’s prime targets?  Conrad Grayson (Henry Czemy), the CEO of her father’s company who spearheaded the entire take-down, and the CEO’s not-so-loyal wife who stood by and watched her lover taken away in handcuffs (yea, you read that right – love triangle 101), Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe).  

How will Emily destroy the Graysons?  Will she involve their son, Daniel (Joshua Bowman); the man she’s slowly but surely seducing?  The pilot episode began at Emily and Daniel’s engagement party before rewinding to Emily’s arrival in the Hamptons….so probably. 

Will Emily confide in anyone other than Nolan?  How about her childhood friend Jack Porter (Nick Wechler) who adopted her puppy and named his boat Amanda

Do you watch Revenge?  What do you think?  The series claims to be loosely based on the Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo – do you see any parallels?  I’d love to hear from you!   

Come back next week for more top performers that have peaked my interest this television season.

Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Night Flicks for Fall: Friday Night Lights

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights – whether it be the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.  Some even know the “real” Friday night lights – high school football in West Texas

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the film.  Friday Night Lights is a perfect Friday night flick for fall. 

The time – 1988

 The place – Odessa, Texas

 The who – the Permian High School football players

The dream – to win the state championship

The obstacles – a coach that pushes his players too far, parents living vicariously through their teens’ lives, and societal pressure 

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas – high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pig-skin programs, what do the people inside the state think?  Football is life.  Win at all costs. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton), star Permian running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), back-up running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), and safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) on their quest for a Mojo football championship.  The season seems to be right on schedule, but things erupt when Boobie tears his ACL. 

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins and when a star player goes down, people panic.   

As if the pressure isn’t already mounting for the kids, Billingsley is also faced with managing his father’s (country music star, Tim McGraw) drinking and humiliating outbursts.  Like many other former football stars, Billingsley’s father continues to live in the past and is humiliated that his son is not performing up to his standards.

The season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets Dallas Carter in the state championship. 

Watch the movie to find out what happens next…. 

Have you seen Friday Night Lights?  Have you read the book?  Did you enjoy the television series?  I’d love to hear from you!

Rumor has it that another Friday Night Lights movie is in the works….

On a personal note, I was born and raised in Midland, Texas and I’m a proud Midland Lee Rebel.  My father graduated from the first ever senior class at Midland Lee, as did my brother before me, and now my oldest nephew is a freshman.  My mother has taught at Midland Lee for a long time (no years, I promise…you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), but not before graduating from Odessa Permian and participating on the Mojo Pep Squad.  

Friday Night Lights, while fictional, does not stray far from the truth, and I highly recommend it to anyone attempting to understand the severity of high school football in West Texas.  I was a student trainer in high school, and I remember a man who traveled in his trailer to watch the Midland Lee versus the Odessa Permian football game because he read Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.  I grew up watching Lee play, lived the annual showdown with Permian, and was shocked that someone from thousands of miles away would drive just to watch high school kids play football. 

West Texas football is a big deal.  Maybe we’re crazy?  But, we’re proud.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Parallel Universe, Fact or Fringe?

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to FOX and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of the new sci-fi hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe

Fringe science is a type of scientific study whose hypotheses and conclusions differ significantly from mainstream theories.   Creators J.J. Abrams (creator and writer for Alias and Lost, as well as executive producer for the new CBS hit Person of Interest), Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci (both writers and producers of Alias and Hawaii Five-0) used this unorthodox technique to create Fringe, a science fiction television series on Fox.

After Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) witnesses extremely strange events involving her partner and boyfriend (played by Mark Valley, Human Target), she joins the Fringe Division of the FBI.    Olivia tracks down Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) and asks for his assistance in releasing his father, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), from his seventeen year incarceration at an insane asylum.   

Why?  Walter is known as a “mad scientist” and the FBI needs him to experiment and explain the unusual events taking place all around them.  Not long after his release, Walter introduces the parallel universe to the team, and only he, Peter, and Olivia can safely transport back and forth between worlds.

Why Walter and Peter? In the world as we know it, Walter’s son Peter died when he was a young boy.  Distraught, Walter used his portal creation to transport over to the parallel universe where he took Walternate’s (Walter in the parallel universe who also happens to be the Secretary of Defense in that world) son, Peter.  As expected, Peter didn’t take the news that he was from another world so well, and spent some time quite angry with Walter. 

Why Olivia?  As a small child, Olivia participated in a scientific research program and drug trial led by Walter in Florida .  Confused by bits and pieces of memory, Olivia returned to the facility where she spent her childhood and eventually remembered all of the events that took places years before.  She and the other children of the trial possess the ability to transport back and forth safely to the other universe.  Oh, and before we forget – Olivia’s identity in the parallel world is known as Feuxlivia in our world, while she is Olive over there.  That’s right – two Olivias: our world’s Agent Dunham and the parallel universe’s Feuxlivia/Olive. 

Let’s not forget about Massive Dynamic, the company created and founded by Walter’s former partner William “Billy” Bell (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek).  Nina Sharp (Blair Brown, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) runs Massive Dynamic and knows all of Walter and Billy’s secrets as they pertain to the parallel universe.  Nina diverts Olivia and Peter from the truth as long as she can, but she can’t hide it forever. 

Sound confusing?  It kind of is, but the show is amazing!  Fringe is sci-fi at its best.  We watch as our world and the parallel universe go to war, and as previously unexplained events involving shape shifting, teleporting, and the intricacies of neuroscience, to name a few, are investigated. 

The team is also assisted by recurring characters: Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), Fringe Division’s leader; Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole), a junior agent with the FBI who serves as Walter’s assistant and confidant; Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo, Band of Brothers), senior FBI agent and Olivia’s friend; and agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel, Nip/Tuck), the newest addition to the team. 

This may come as a shock to many who know me, but I must award Fringe with a GTV ratingFringe is literally the first science fiction television program of its kind that has me tuned in on a weekly basis to see what the writers and creators will throw at us next (well, the first not involving the usual supernatural creatures like witches, werewolves, and vampires). 

It certainly doesn’t hurt that I have a minor crush on Walter (why hasn’t John Noble won an Emmy for his performance?) and a bit of a larger crush on Peter (Joshua Jackson isn’t Pacey any longer – and did I mention his voice is fabulous?). 

What do you think? Have you watched Fringe?   Who is your favorite character? Do you think the government has a Fringe Division we don’t know about?  Do we have a parallel universe out there, somewhere?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Terra Nova, the TV show with time travel and dinosaurs.  

Come back next week when Amber and I switch channels again – this time we’re moving over to ABC and reviewing Body of Proof and Desperate Housewives.

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
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

Tele-Tuesday: Astute or Psychic?

Which show can be described as a police procedural, detective drama, quirky comedy, and an ‘80s and ’90s throwback?

The USA Network’s Psych!

Shawn Spencer (James Roday, Miss Match) was an ornery young boy raised by his single cop dad (Henry Spencer played by Corbin Bernsen, L.A. Law).  Okay, Shawn is still a bit ornery today.  From a very early age, Shawn’s dad taught him to pay close attention to details; and, it’s this astute ability that has allowed Shawn to trick everyone around him into believing he is psychic.

Everyone, that is, except for his father and his best friend, partner, and pharmaceutical salesman Burton ‘Gus’ Guster (Dule Hill, The West Wing).

Each episode begins with a flashback to the ‘80s when Shawn and Gus were young boys.  Often times, this childhood scene depicts an observational lesson from Henry, or a direct memory from Shawn and Gus’ past (like remembering their old classmate, played by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) that will relate directly to the current week’s episode.

After assisting the Santa Barbara Police Department on a case, Shawn and Gus establish Psych, their psychic consulting firm.  Hired on a case by case basis by Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson), Shawn and Gus work alongside detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson, Judging Amy) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson, TV movies Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover).

Most of Psych’s fun spawns from the banter between Shawn and Gus, Lassie’s constant frustration and exasperation with the two Psych consultants, and the familiar (Shawn and Henry) and romantic (Shawn and Jules) relationships shared between characters.

Fan of the ‘80s? ‘90s? Look no further!  Psych not only casts familiar faces from the decades, but also includes puns on particular storylines.

Famous ‘80s and ’90s recurring guest stars include Phylicia Rashad as Gus’ mom (The Cosby Show), Cybill Shepherd as Shawn’s mom (Moonlighting), and Ray Wise as Father Westley (Twin Peaks).

Shawn’s nemeses are all ‘80s greats as well: Yin (Peter Weller, Robocop), Yang (Ally Sheedy, member of the “Brat Pack”), and Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes, The Princess Bride).

One of the best episodes to date was the Twin Peaks tribute in season five, “Dual Spires”.  James Roday outdid himself writing the episode: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and, he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the dead girl’s body wrapped in plastic found by the water, the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.

Psych even changed the opening credits to honor Twin Peaks.  This wasn’t the first time the program made subtle changes to the music to reflect the current episode’s theme (just a little fun-Psych-“I Know You Know”-fact).

Back to the blasts from the past, let’s not forget these additional ‘80s and ‘90s guest stars: Jaleel White (Family Matters), Rachael Leigh Cook from She’s All That, “Brat Pack” member Judd Nelson, C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show), Mena Suvari (American Pie), Carl Weathers (Rocky), and Twin Peaks alumni Dana Ashbrook, Sherilyn Fenn, and Sheryl Lee.

Need more? The new season promises to bring a few new faces from the ‘80s and ‘90s: Molly Ringwald (another “Brat-Pack” member), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys), Joey McIntyre (New Kids on the Block), Jason Priestley (the original 90210), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon movies), William Shatner (Star Trek movies), and Madchen Amick (another Twin Peaks alumnus).

Rumor has it that this season will also include an Indiana Jones themed episode.  No doubt this will be fabulous!

Psych returns this Wednesday, October 12th.

Do you watch Psych?  Shawn or Gus?  Lassie or Henry?  Who is your favorite guest star to date?  Do you look for the pineapple in each episode?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Friday FabOoolousness – Friday Nights Flicks for Fall: Varsity Blues

What says Friday night during the fall months better than high school football?  The sun sets; the temperatures cool; and the sounds of marching bands, spectator’s cheers, and the crackling of shoulder pads crashing into one another echo through the neighborhoods.  Ah, memories.

So, grab the old letter jacket, microwave some popcorn, grill a few hot dogs, crack open a coke, and curl up on the sofa for a great movie that reminds us of the good ol’ Friday nights in fall. 

Varsity Blues (1999)

High school football is life in West Canaan, Texas, and anybody who’s anybody plays their part for the team.  Training begins at a very early age: the girls perfect their toe-touches and the boys practice tossing the pigskin through a tire hanging from a tree as soon as they can stand. 

Jonathan “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek, Dawson’s Creek) plays quarterback for the West Canaan team.  Backup quarterback.  His best friend, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker, Fast and the Furious I, II, IV, V), is the starting quarterback.  The competition doesn’t bother the two boys, but it drives their fathers absolutely crazy.

The two teens seemingly have it all – Mox has the grades for prestigious Brown University, and he has a healthy teenage relationship with his best friend’s sister (Jules Harbor played by Amy Smart, Butterfly Effect).  Lance doesn’t have the grades, but he does have an opportunity to play college ball, and he’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader (Darcy Sears played by Ali Larter, Heroes).

Everything comes crashing down around the boys when Lance injures his knee during a game.  Mox is thrown onto the field and thrust into the spotlight.  He wasn’t as prepared as he should have been having not expected to play, but he manages his way through the final buzzer and later rushes to the hospital to be by his friend’s side. 

Doctors determine that Lance can’t play.  His football days have quite possibly come to an end.  Mox can’t believe what he’s hearing and grows even more devastated when he learns that the team’s legendary coach (Bud Kilmer played by Hollywood great, Jon Voight) has been covering up minor knee tweaks here and there by injecting Lance with cortisone shots. 

Mox makes the best of the situation and takes charge of the team with Lance and his other friends by his side (Charlie Tweeder played by Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0; Billy Bob played by Ron Lester, Not Another Teen Movie; and Wendell Brown played by former Kansas City Chief, Eliel Swinton ).  Varsity Blues isn’t just about football, but more about teens finding their way in spite of what they have been conditioned to do.

Varsity Blues is about as realistic as it gets when talking about high school football in West Texas, without actually claiming to be inspired by actual events: the coach’s win-at-all-costs attitude; the quarterback’s celebrity (everyone remembers the whipped cream bikini, right?); the realization that great moments are often times the most painful; and that character is built by going against the norm.

The ending can make even the toughest man cry, and this movie will forever be one of the best Friday night flicks for fall. 

Next week, Friday Night Lights….    

Have you seen Varsity Blues?  Did your high school take football as seriously as West Canaan?  What other movies remind you of your high school days?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Last Law & Order Standing

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to NBC and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of Harry’s Law and Law & Order: SVU.

For the past twenty plus years, Dick Wolf’s productions have dominated the NBC primetime slots.  He first created the original Law & Order, and then added spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent, as well as the short-lived Trial by Jury and LA.    

The last of the franchise still standing today is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, currently in its thirteenth season.  Like the original, SVU has a great ensemble cast, and it showcases gut-wrenching storylines. 

The Special Victims Unit is a specialized department that focuses on assault and rape cases in New York City, often times inspired by today’s headlines.   

For the first twelve seasons, the SVU team depends on lead detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes take actions we as viewers wish we could see more of on television – in other words, they’re not always by the book, and therefore one of the partners is always in trouble. 

SVU’s cast, for the most part, has remained the same for all thirteen seasons, including: Captain Cragen (Dan Florek), and also detectives Tutuola (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). 

The original Law & Order split the hour-long program into two parts – “the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.” [t1]  SVU doesn’t follow the exact same formula, but does of course involve the district attorney’s office in each episode (returning favorites in season 13 – Casey Novak played by Diane Neal, Alexandra Cabot played by Stephanie March, and Michael Cutter played by Linus Roache from L&O).   

This season, viewers will see a new cast of characters following Meloni’s departure from the show and Hargitay’s rumored request for a lighter workload.  Danny Pino (Cold Case) joins as Det. Nick Amaro from warrants and narcotics, and Kellie Giddish (Chase) transfers to NYC from Atlanta as Det. Amanda Rollins

In addition to SVU’s fictionalized accounts of current events, viewers can count on a large revolving door of guest stars.  So far in season thirteen, we’ve seen a familiar story line where a hotel maid accuses a foreign diplomat of rape.  In episode two, SVU landed guest stars Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness), and real-life basketball greats Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.    

This week (tonight actually), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and Paige Turco (Damages) guest star as husband and wife in a fictionalized account of a particular politician’s scandal. 

Before rating, I must issue this warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

The past few weeks, the GTV rating has been awarded left and right; but, not today.  While I do watch Law & Order: SVU religiously, I can only award the JFTV ratingSVU is like junk food, particularly like that bag of greasy potato chips – it’s not great for us, but we keep coming back for more. 

SVU is the last of the franchise airing new episodes.  I simply can’t imagine television today without hearing this:

Of course, I am worried that I will soon have to get my Law & Order fix watching reruns only (thank you, TNT!). 

What do you think? Do you prefer the original Law & Order, SVU, or Criminal Intent? Will SVU survive Meloni’s departure, or will this be the last of the L&O franchise?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Harry’s Law.  The GTV ratings came to an end over here; will Amber award another top review over on her site?   

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to FOX and review two supernatural programs – the new hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe.

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 future Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts. 

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
 


 [t1]Opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton

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: Welcome to the Tamberny Award Show!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first annual Tamberny Awards – where we promise to not agree!

When the Emmy nominations were announced last month, writer friend Kathy Owen approached us to review the shows and announce who we thought would take home the awards.

Sounds easy enough, right?  HA!  Amber and I don’t watch the same things.  What she loves, I haven’t even heard of; and, what I watch (which is almost everything on television), she has to Netflix in order to carry on a conversation with me.

Okay, maybe it’s not so bad; after all, this may just be why our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday partnership works so well!

  Enjoy the show!

Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
Glee
Modern Family
The Office
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock

A:  I’ll kick things off with the comedy category.  I think Parks and Recreation should take it.  Why?  Two words:  Ron Swanson. 

Ok, maybe not just for him.  I love every character on that show.  They are all flawed, in ridiculous ways, yet they are all completely lovable, too.  They do all of that AND they make me laugh.  Sometimes until I cry.  And, they gave us “awesomesauce”.  I also think they’ve had good forward momentum, unlike some comedies that are quick out of the gate then rest on their funny laurels.  (Hee, “Funny laurels”)

T:  Did you just laugh at your own joke?  *laughing, eye rolls*

While Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock are fabOoolously written, the Emmy will come down to Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory.  Do I agree with this?  No, but what can you do?

A:  You can be disagreeable.  Like me.  And yell things.  Or, at least type them in all CAPS.

T:  FINE!  Since you want to light a fire under me, 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation DESERVE to win.  But, they won’t.

The #TeleTuesday voters clearly want Modern Family to win.  Me?  Put the guns away, but I’ve never watched it.  Same with Glee.  I refuse to drink the punch…plus I watch so much on television already.  Maybe one day on Netflix?

 

A:  I forgive you on Glee.  I’m a Broadway girl, so I was on board in the beginning, but I started to burn out pretty quickly.  But Modern Family? Please.  Go watch it.  So funny.  Our readers know what they are talking about.  I’m still waving the Parks and Recreation banner, but if Modern Family wins…well, I ain’t mad at ’em. 

T:  Ya ain’t? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  You left the door wide open for that one.

Maybe I will Netflix Modern Family for you; you did watch Bones for me.

Back on topic, The Big Bang Theory on the other hand, is brilliant.  Sheldon and Leonard have brought sexy back for the geeks; well, maybe sexy isn’t the right word…

A:  I’m about to make myself unpopular.  That’s smart, right?  Don’t hate me.  I do think that The Big Bang Theory has some good one liners.  And, I get a kick out of the geek references, being a geek and all.  BUT, I think Chuck Lorre tends to write shows that pander to the masses.  Granted, there is nothing wrong with that.  But it’s just not my cup o’ tea. 

T:  Isn’t that what Lorre is supposed to do?

A:  Probably.  Also explains why I am not writing a successful TV show right now.  Before this turns into an argument, I bring you…DRAMA! 

Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire
Dexter
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men 

A: I have a thing for underdogs.  They’re all cute and scruffy.  The Good Wife feels like an underdog here.  It’s one of the few “network” shows on the list; it’s been well written from episode one and the cast is incredible.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a bit of a crush on Josh Charles since his Sports Night days. This is a solid category, though, so anyone who takes it is deserving.

T: I have to disagree with you, Amber – while I might end up eating my words, I think that the cable channels will win this one: Showtime’s Dexter is a must see, but HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones will be hard to beat.  I’m going with Game of Thrones here.

A: Dexter is amazingly well written, and I don’t have the pay channels, so I have not seen Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones.  But, I do believe I called my choice the underdog.  The likelihood of it winning is slim.  And yet, here I sit, cheering them on.  Someone has to.

T: Funny, how after two rounds of bickering, neither of us has yet to mention Mad Men as a contender here…

A: I can never remember who votes for what in the actual Emmy’s (no affiliation), but I didn’t go with Mad Med because they’ve already taken awards.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s another show that has great writing, great actors and Jon Hamm.  Mmmmm…Hammmmmm….

T: And with that, we’ve lost Amber.  Maybe we should move on.

Outstanding Animated Series

The Cleveland Show
Futurama
Robot Chicken
The Simpsons
South Park
Family Guy

A: Ahem.  I’m good.  I was just channeling Homer in preparation for this category.

I don’t watch Robot Chicken with any regularity.  Having said that, the little I have seen was funny.  And different.  And, it’s probably the least popular one on this list, in my world anyway.  The rest of them are feeling a little “old hat” for me.  

Isn’t there anything new?  Also, judging by this category, is it now a requirement to offend to be funny?  Don’t get me wrong, some of these guys do it well and are smart, but its feeling a little like no one knows how to be funny without it. 

T: South Park – while controversial, is funny!  Not many shows, especially animations with the exception of The Simpsons, can say they’ve been on the air for over 15 years.  Plus, aren’t they really just saying what so many of us wish we could, just don’t have the guts to?

A: I agree that South Park is funny.  Those dudes can write.  I mean, Book of Mormon is a roaring success for a reason.  But, I stand by the idea that you don’t HAVE to be offensive to be funny.  Having said that, you are probably correct on your choice. 

T: Wait a minute?!?! Stop the presses.  Where the heck is Archer?  Why in the world isn’t Archer nominated here?

 

A: I’ve never seen it.  That could be why.  To quote one of your picks, “Bazinga!”

T: Archer belongs on the Netflix queue, Amber….enough said.

Lead Actress in a Comedy

Laura Linney, The Big C
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Tina Fey, 30 Rock

A: I really want to see Amy Poehler take this.   Her show is funny.  She is funny.  Her husband is funny.  She is like an entire universe of funny.  I love her.

T: I agree with you, but I think Edie Falco takes it.  The cable channels are hard to beat when nominated…I’d even love to see a newbie take it, like Martha Plimpton or Melissa McCarthy, but I don’t see that happening.

A: I’ve heard good things about Edie in Nurse Jackie.  But I’m sticking with Amy Poehler. But, I won’t cry if Martha gets it.  She, too, is awesome. 

T: I’m just glad to see Martha resurface from her ’80s hit movies.  “Hey, you guys…”  Quick – what’s that from?

A: I am awful at that game.  Prize for the first commenter who gets it.

T: Seriously?  You don’t know what movie that quote is from? Do you need a hint?

 

Lead Actor in a Comedy

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Steve Carell, The Office
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Louis C.K., Louie
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

A: Although I feel that 30 Rock is a bit lacking lately, Alec Baldwin is genius in his role.  Love him.  

T: We agree again, but I think Alec will lose.  This one goes to Sheldon.

A: Boo.  Didn’t he take this award already?  Alec…Alec…  

T: Do you know who’s not going to win from the cable channels?  Matt LeBlanc.  Was that mean?

A: Yes, yes it was.  Also, my nominee could totally take your nominee in a cage match.  Just sayin’.  Note to self: propose new reality show where awards ceremony winners are determined by having nominees step into the octagon. 

T: Brilliant! 

Wait, what is that?  Are we running out of time?  Someone turn off that music!

The producers closed the curtain on us…

We’re on a roll, and we promise, we won’t let a little thing like time get in the way of that.  Tune in next Tuesday for the conclusion of the Tamberny Awards.

Do you agree with our picks?  How about our write-in shows like Archer?  We’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to tell us what you think, and send pictures of your own Tamberny moments for a chance to win something special!

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