Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Filling a Void

Tomorrow, many celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States.  Holidays are great, especially Turkey Day… but because the work week has been cut down to two days AND we have other family obligations looming, Amber West and I have decided to switch things up again with today’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews.

Instead of reviewing the remaining 2012 fall television programs we’ve yet to cover, we’ve decided to answer the below question with links back to our previous posts.

“One of my favorite shows no longer on the air is: ______. To fill that void, I now watch: _____.”

First, let’s fill in the blanks…

One of my favorite shows no longer on the air is: Twin Peaks.

To fill that void, I now watch: Pretty Little Liars.

Remember Dallas’ ever-so famous mystery back in 1980: Who shot J.R.?

How about 1984’s Wendy’s slogan: Where’s the beef?

The 1990’s wasn’t far behind with its very own unique conversation starter: Who killed Laura Palmer?

Debuting April 8, 1990, this David Lynch serial whodunit captivated audiences.  Twin Peaks had everything—great music, beautiful scenery, familiar older actors, gorgeous younger actors, quirky characters, and murder.

But, the mystery is what pulled me in.

Many of us are familiar with the term hook… that crucial moment in a story’s opening that sucks the reader/viewer in and never lets go.

Twin Peaks did just that—a teenage girl’s dead body is found wrapped tightly in clear plastic on the bank of the town’s river.  The sheriff and town doctor arrive only to identify the body as Laura Palmer, the local homecoming queen.

Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps Twin Peaks is the reason I chose to write in the YA mystery genre in the first place?  But, that’s another conversation for another time…

Twin Peaks concluded its run after only two seasons.  Once the Laura Palmer case was solved, the show took a turn directly to crazy town.  But, that’s okay.  This show opened my eyes to what a serial whodunit really is…

… Which is one reason why I fill this void with ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.

Like Twin Peaks, Pretty Little Liars has it all: great music from modern-day artists; a beautiful small-town setting; familiar older actors playing the parental roles; gorgeous younger actors playing the teen protagonist roles; and most importantly… murder.

The Pretty Little Liars’ mystery begins with the discovery of Alison DiLaurentis’ body.  Not only was one of the most popular, yet antagonizing high schoolers murdered, but now all of her closest friends are being stalked and threatened by who we assume is the killer.  We’re three seasons in and I still do not know who killed Alison…

I’ll admit it—one of my favorite programs on television today targets a teen audience; but this thirtysomething loves the twists and turns week after week.

For a more detailed look at why I love these two serial whodunits, click here for Twin Peaks and here for Pretty Little Liars.

Now, it’s your turn:“One of my favorite shows no longer on air is: ______. To fill that void, I now watch: _____.”  Why did you select these shows?  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember to click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see how she filled in the blanks…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something….  Stay tuned!

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

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

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

Tele-Tuesday: Tour de Psych

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

To celebrate the mid-season premiere, Tele-Tuesday has decided to list our top 10 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the much-anticipated return of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball way out of the park.  But we selected our top 10, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or another favorite blog reading snack – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided.  Enjoy!

*****

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

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

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

Shawn, Gus, and Despereaux

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

9. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.  “This Episode Sucks” (Season 6)

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

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

Shawn and Gus "undercover"

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

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

 6.  “Yang 3 in 2D” (Season 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See, even Shawn and Gus are spooked...

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

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

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

2. “Mr. Yin Presents…” (Season 4)

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

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

Who will Shawn choose - Jules or Abigail?

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

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

We could go on and on about this episode.  James Roday outdid himself writing this piece: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery from the ‘90s, Twin Peaks; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.  Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Sherilyn Finn (Audrey Horne).

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

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

*****

The mid-season premiere “Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger” airs this Wednesday, February 29th on USA.  Will you watch?  Let’s just say one of our favorite bad guys is expected to return in this special extended episode of Psych, and a familiar face for those of us Twin Peaks fans guest stars.

We’ve already seen so many of our favorite faces from the ‘80s and ‘90s during the first half of season six:  Molly Ringwald (Psych loves the “Brat Pack”, Joey McIntyre, Jason Priestley, Danny Glover, and William Shatner.  Who’s next?

Just two besties playing 'thumb-war'

Do you watch Psych?  What’s your favorite episode?  Who is your favorite guest star to date?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Where We Are Today…

It’s that time of year when the networks are adding even more new programming to our already full TV plates.  But before we get started on the New Year in Review, Amber West and I decided to recap our 2011 Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday ratings, from best to worst.

While I’m not quite sure where everyone else stands, this crazy television and food obsessed girl has gained her share of comfort weight over the past thirty weeks – figuratively, of course.  Thirty weeks — it seems a bit unreal that WatchWed has been around that long.  Add up the time and count the amount of MacNCheese and Junk Food TV that we’ve reviewed, the added pounds become a bit easier to understand.

First, let’s take a quick look at the 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

Some of the ratings have been around since Watch Wednesday opened its doors for business, but our palates became a bit more refined over time and it took watching a few series to understand we didn’t quite have the proper scale in place.  After considerable thought, we added Gourmet MacNCheese TV, Twice Baked Potato TV, and NyQuil Induced Viewing TV to the menu.   After all, a good chef always tweaks his or her recipes depending on the comment cards left behind by the diners, right?

It makes the most sense to begin with our favorites, the best of the best – the GTV (Gourmet TV) rated programs.  Leading the way for this television viewer will always be Criminal Minds, Bones, and Burn Notice.  Not one of these shows can sit on the DVR for more than an hour without burning a hole in the table cloth – they are that hot.

That’s not to say other plates didn’t also deserve a top-nod, including Blue Bloods, and our favorite cons on Leverage and White Collar.  And, believe it or not, there are many other programs that fit into this category that we’ve yet to review (and our explanations are Justified).

But who can afford a bone-in filet, horseradish mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a glass of $100 wine with every meal?  It appears not Fox, since our GTV alternate reality favorite, Fringe, is on the rocks.  Or rumor has it anyway…

Back to the more affordable dishes…

Most of us enjoy a homemade meatloaf with the rich and creamy guilty pleasure Velveeta Shells & Cheese (also known as MacTV, MacNCheese TV) on the average night.

And what goes better with this more affordable meal than the fantastic new supernatural series, Grimm; the action packed scenes, beautiful scenery, and the leading man eye-candy of Hawaii Five-o (that’s Alex O’Loughlin for anyone who may not already know); as well as the two new rookie programs that have both been renewed for a second season: Suits and Franklin & Bash?

Seriously – try it.  Curl up on the sofa with a warm bowl of the cheesy favorite, and check out one of these programs.  They’ll promise to fill you and leave you satisfied, wanting more.

Before we eat the last bite, we must pay our respects to the MacTV great that has given us eight seasons of laughter, tears, mystery, intrigue, and drama – the REAL housewives of Wisteria Lane, the Desperate Housewives.  It won’t be long before the housewives leave us forever, well until syndication anyway.

Moving on…

Because this girl likes to enjoy a few meals while reminiscing about the good ol’ days of high school, Pretty Little Liars and MTV’s surprising hit, Teen Wolf, also satisfy the carb-craving that everyone needs filled every once in a while (the mystery and intrigue of these YA series doesn’t hurt either).

And for the nights when cooking just doesn’t quite seem like an option, there’s always that trusty bag of greasy potato chips we keep hidden in the pantry.

Television’s equivalent to the JFTV (Junk Food TV) bag of tasty goodness is the same – it’s not the best thing in the world for us, but we must have more than one episode: Unforgettable, Being Human, Law & Order: SVU, Warehouse 13, and the late TNT drama, Memphis Beat.

Yes, Jason Lee’s blues singing detective show has been cancelled, but don’t worry – he’s joined the cast of another JFTV show and returned to his comedic roots in Up All Night.

Next are the days when we really just need something to fill our bellies and ruin our cholesterol, much like a Twice Baked Potato (TBPTV). 

For days like these, we have the AMC original hit, The Walking Dead.  This post-zombie-apocalyptic television series fills the supernatural undead void we’ve had for years (although a particular someone in this house is still waiting for the Frankenstein monster television program before he’s perfectly satisfied).  The survivors working together to make the most of a bad situation makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  And then the bloating feeling hits us like a ton of bricks, proving the show isn’t the best thing out there for us – but it sure is fun to savor while it lasts.

Perhaps tasty, warm, fuzzy, and savor aren’t the best words to use when describing a zombie television show, but we think it gets the point across.

And sadly, we left one program Still Simmering (SSTV) on the back burner and completely forgot to pay more attention to it, but we will…especially since Alphas was picked up for a second season.  For this, our readers have our deepest apologies.  The re-review will come in time before the premiere of season two on SyFy, promise.

All this serious talk may lead one to believe we’re all business around Watch Wednesday, but we’re not.  We love to laugh too, and a few of the network funnies received the same critical reviews as the dramas.

Hindsight is always 20/20, therefore we need to re-file the one MacTV rated sitcom (How I Met Your Mother) into the JFTV rating list along with Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls.  For some reason, HIMYM has its viewers crying at the end of episodes instead of laughing here recently, which kind of defeats the purpose of the sitcom and explains the need for the downgrade – something just isn’t the same.

And just like my dinner plate, there will be no Liver and Onions TV (LOTV) for the audience today, and hopefully not anytime soon.  Yuck!

Okay, that is a ton of television.  I didn’t even include the reviews of a few of my Netflix and marathon-style TV favorites (MacTV Charmed and Tru Calling, as well as the Gourmet TV Twin Peaks and Moonlight).  Does anyone notice the Alex O’Loughlin trend?

It’s a lot to take in, but tell us:

What do you think?  Which shows already in progress need to be in our list? Are there any new shows that you are looking forward to?  We’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and catch up on where her reviews sit to date.

Come back next week when Amber and I begin the new season of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

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.

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! 

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

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Seriously, Queue This Up!

Amber West and I are back with Netflix on this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  Courtesy of all the programs that television has to offer, we’ve got a few more series that are definitely worthy of queuing up! 

I’m taking a trip down memory lane and recommending one of, if not the greatest television Whodunit mysteries of our time: Twin Peaks.

Remember Dallas’ ever-so famous mystery back in 1980: Who shot J.R.?

How about 1984’s Wendy’s slogan: Where’s the beef?

The 1990’s wasn’t far behind with its very own unique conversation starter: Who killed Laura Palmer?

Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks first aired April 8, 1990.  The series opened with the beautiful scenery of fictional town, Twin Peaks, Washington with the peaceful song “Falling” performed by Julee Cruise playing in the background. 

And then the hook – a teenage girl’s dead body is found wrapped tightly in clear plastic on the bank of the town’s river.  The sheriff and town doctor arrive only to identify the body as Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the local homecoming queen.

News of Laura’s death quickly spreads across Twin Peaks.  We see the devastation the news brings to her mother (Sarah Palmer played by Grace Zabriskie) and father (Leland Palmer played by the great Ray Wise).  Both of Laura’s parents suffer some sort of breakdown – Leland sporadically breaks into song and dance and his hair turns white overnight, while Sarah begins seeing psychic visions of a white horse and a long-haired man. 

We also watch Laura’s high school classmates cry when the announcement pours through the loud-speaker.  Sadness sweeps through the school, and the crazy begins.  For example, Laura’s boyfriend, Bobby, begins howling like a dog – and this is just episode one. 

Everyone loved Laura. 

Or did they?

Making matters worse, this small town encounters another young girl walking aimlessly along the rail road tracks.  She’s badly injured and in shock.  Are the two incidents related?

Enter FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Agent Cooper is a very special, or shall I say odd, individual.  His peculiarities fit right in with the bizarre townsfolk of Twin Peaks, but more on those individuals later.  When satisfied, he enjoys giving a thumbs up, he loves a good piece of pie and cup of coffee, and he constantly records case notes into his microphone addressing someone named Diane.  Quirkiness aside, Agent Cooper is one heck of an investigator. 

Together, Agent Cooper and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) begin investigating the two cases.  What happened to Ronette Pulaski, the girl found wandering the same morning Laura’s body was discovered, and who killed Laura Palmer?

Almost immediately, they learn that Laura is not quite who she appeared to be.  Everyone knew she was dating the football star, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), but only her best friend, Donna Hayward (originally played by Lara Flynn Boyle, and later by Moira Kelly), knew that Laura was also seeing supposed bad-boy, James Hurley (James Marshall).

Next, Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman discover that not only was Laura in the middle of a love triangle with the teenage boys, she was also working as a prostitute for Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re) and Jacque Renault (Walter Olkewicz).

The twists and turns don’t stop there.  It seems every single person in the small town of Twin Peaks has some secret of their very own.  Well, if not a secret, they are so weird that they can’t be excluded from the investigation (like the lady who carries around a log as if it’s a child).  The cast of characters in Twin Peaks is one of the best ensembles I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing on television, that’s for sure.  And the acting skills? Simply superb.

Characters and appearances include: Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Miquel Ferrer, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Zane, Chris Isaak, Piper Laurie, Everett McGill, Peggy Lipton, Heather Graham, Ian Buchanan, and David Duchovny

Twin Peaks also introduced a young and talented cast.  In addition to Laura, Donna, Bobby, and James, alumni also include the beautiful Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne) and Madchen Amick (Shelly Johnson).   The female cast was so hot that even Rolling Stone Magazine featured them on the 1990 College Special.

The success of the television series spawned numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.  It also prompted a prequel motion picture, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and book stores sold The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (I have that somewhere…). 

Twin Peaks can only be described now as a cult classic

Lynch and Frost’s masterful whodunit mystery kept me on the edge of my seat week in and week out in the early ‘90s; therefore, I’d be remiss to not give Twin Peaks a GTV rating.  When viewers learn who the murderer actually is, it’s shocking.  One can also get lost watching the colorful characters like Ed’s crazy patch-wearing wife who thinks she’s still in high school. 

The plot, characters, and conflict of Twin Peaks are unlike anything on television today.

If asked what my favorite television program of all time, I’d say Twin Peaks.  I may be dating myself a bit, but I proudly own the entire series on VHS.  Of course, I no longer have a working VHS player in the house….but I sometimes am lucky enough to find Twin Peaks marathons on Chiller. 

And, as much as I love Twin Peaks, I have to tell you that the series lost its flare once the murder of Laura Palmer was solved.  But, regardless, it’s only 30 episodes – so I highly recommend you Queue It Up!

This is Psych, not Twin Peaks. See the similarities?

The USA Network’s hit television series, Psych, honored Twin Peaks last year in probably my favorite episode: “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.  

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

Walter channeling Dr. Jacoby

Fox’s Fringe has also paid homage to Twin Peaks.  Walter Bishop has worn Dr. Jacoby’s famous glasses with one red lens and one blue lens, and he also dated the actress who played Josie Packard (Joan Chen) in one episode. 

Flipping back to the USA Network, White Collar also hosted a few Twin Peaks veterans this year: Dana Ashbrook and Madchen Amick. 

If so many current day television programs honor Twin Peaks, shouldn’t you at least check it out?  Seriously, queue it up!

So, how about you – did you watch Twin Peaks?  Did you figure out the mystery or were you surprised?  What is your favorite aspect of the series – the mystery, the unique characters, or the constant intermingling of character conflicts?  Are you a David Lynch fan?  I’d love to hear from you! *Please try not to give away any spoilers here for those who haven’t watched it yet *

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see why she recommends everyone queue up BBC’s Sherlock!   

Come back next week when Amber and I review a few of our favorite FOX programs returning this fall – House & Bones.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Friday FabOoolousness – The “Kiss and Kill Murder”

The time was 1961, and the place was Odessa, Texas.  High school football was king, and still is today.

In the ‘60s, teenagers lived for their weekly pep-rallies and frequent trips to Tommy’s Drive-In for their ice-cold cherry cokes.

Teens also spared no expense in driving up and down the strip, or cruisin’ as it was called.  After all, gas was cheap back then.

Teenage girls appeared innocent with their ponytails, bobby-socks, and penny-loafer shoes.

Not seventeen year old Betty Williams.

Elizabeth J. Williams lived with devout Christian parents.  Her father prohibited her from normal teenage activities such as dating and seeing movies, especially anything with Elvis Presley.

What sometimes happens with overly protective parents? Betty defied the rules.

She was flirtatious, and sometimes aggressive with the boys.  She mocked teachers and other girls, and didn’t shy away from making inappropriate comments.  She would wear tight clothing revealing more than she should, and she just didn’t care – outwardly, anyway.

Betty dreamed of leaving Odessa and becoming an actress, but her reputation stood in the way of her dreams.  She was overlooked during the casting of Our Town as “Emily” because she wasn’t innocent enough, but not being cast in Winterset really upset Betty.

Mack Herring was cast in Winterset, as “Garth” – the killer.  Mack played football at Odessa High School, and was Betty’s ex-boyfriend, many times removed.

The two teens had a tumultuous relationship.  They fought constantly, but couldn’t stay away from each other.  Publicly though, Mack refused to be seen with Betty.

After losing Mack and the play, Betty did the unthinkable.  She asked to die.  According to friends, she asked quite a few girls in class to kill her.  The girls of course didn’t take her seriously; Betty was an actress.

Late at night on March 21, 1961, Betty rode with Mack to a stock pond outside Odessa wearing only her pink pajamas.  Being a perfect gentleman, Mack helped Betty down out of his jeep and wrapped his red and white letter jacket around her to keep her warm.  The two walked together to the pond, where she asked for a kiss.

The two teens kissed, and Betty knelt down in front of Mack on the ground where he had removed the rocks and pebbles for her.

Mack picked up the 12-guage shot-gun that he had brought with them, held it to her head, and pulled the trigger after Betty said, “Now.”

From “Washed in the Blood” p. 84, 2004, Bristol Publishing Company

After a few days, Mack led the police out to the scene of the crime.  He immediately pointed to the stock pond where he had placed Betty’s body, remembering the exact location because he had centered himself between two mesquite trees before putting her into the water.

Mack never denied planning the murder or killing Betty.

Needless to say, murder charges were brought against Mack and his trial began in February, 1962.  Although he wasn’t the star athlete, the trial gave him celebrity status.  High school girls, known as “Mack’s Girls” filled the courtroom to support him.

The media soon named the shooting, “The Kiss and Kill Murder.”

The trial took place in Winkler County, since the stock pond was physically located within Winkler’s county lines.  Former Odessa District Attorney, Warren Burnett served as Mack’s defense attorney, while Andrews’ County District Attorney, Dan Sullivan represented the state.

In opening statements, Burnett clearly indicated that he had no intentions of disputing the murderous plot, or the fact that his client shot and killed Betty Williams.  He did, however, shock the courtroom when he announced that the court must first prove Mack’s sanity at the time of the murder.

Burnett continued to rock the courtroom when he introduced an apparent suicide letter written by Betty:

“I want everyone to know that what I am about to do no way implicates anyone else.  I say this to make sure that no blame falls on anyone other than myself.

“I have depressing problems that concern, for the most part, myself.  I am waging a war within myself, a war to find the true me and I fear that I am losing the battle.

“So rather than admit defeat I am going to beat a quick retreat into the no man’s land of death. As I have only the will and not the fortitude necessary, a friend of mine, seeing how great is my torment, has graciously consented to look after the details.

“His name is Mack Herring and I pray that he will not have to suffer for what he is doing for my sake. I take upon myself all the blame, for it lies on me alone.” – Betty Williams (Washed in the Blood, p 102-103).

Burnett called other classmates of Betty’s to the stand to testify that she also approached them for assistance in her death.  His star witness, psychiatrist Dr. Marvin Grice, testified that after Betty repeatedly asked Mack to kill her, Mack lost his ability to reason and agreed.

On Saturday, February 25, 1962, the jury found Mack Herring innocent by reason of temporary insanity.  The result was the same later that year when Mack’s sanity was tried again, this time in Beaumont, Texas by the Texas Supreme Court.

No one really won in this case. Betty was gone, and Mack’s life would never be the same again.  While Mack was looked at as a star during his trial, the celebrity faded and he slowly became a pariah.

Betty is still known around town as the “Ghost of Odessa High School” where she lingers around the school’s theatre.  She’s also known as “The Original Drama Mama.”

For more about the tragic story of Betty Williams, read Washed in the Blood, a novel written by her cousin, Shelton Williams.

Shelton “Shelly” Williams attended the high school across town at the time of his cousin’s murder.  He was actually a classmate of my mother’s and my aunt’s, which is one reason why I’m so intrigued by this story.   Washed in the Blood is a fabOoolous read, and I highly recommend to anyone that loves true-crime stories.

It was rumored that Hollywood, including actress Moira Kelly (Twin Peaks, Cutting Edge, and One Tree Hill), was interested in adapting Betty’s story to a screen play.  I’m not sure where the project is today, but I can only hope to see it come to fruition one day.

Were you familiar with the “Kiss and Kill Murder”?  Did you know of any particular person during your high school years that resembled misunderstood youth similar to Betty?  Do you think Mack was indeed temporarily insane?  What true-crime story has affected you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, to lighten the mood, check out Lyn Midnight’s post – The Blog of Fame: Google Brain Farts.  Oh, how search engines amaze…

Tele-Tuesday #5 – Summer Fun Part Two

Ready for more summer fun? Tune to the USA Network!

White Collar – Meet Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer, from Chuck and Tru Calling), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by FBI agent, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay).  Season 1 opens with Peter releasing Neal from prison under the strict supervision of an ankle monitor, AND one condition: Neal must assist the White Collar division of the FBI in capturing bad guys by utilizing his criminal expertise.  Neal enlists the help of his fellow con-artist, Mozzie (Willie Garson, aka Stanford Blatch from Sex and the City) who despite his distrust of the government stands by his friend’s side, and builds his own relationship with Peter and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth (played by Tiffani Theissen most popularly known for her role as Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell).  In addition to solving a new FBI case each week, Neal focuses on discovering the truth behind his girlfriend Kate’s disappearance. 

Did I mention that Neal is sexy?  Neal’s piercing baby blues and charming smile illuminate in combination with his dapper tailored suits and his Fedora hat. 

In Season 2, Neal continues his search while everyone, including Peter and his FBI right-hand Diana (Marsha Thomason from Vegas), investigates Kate’s story on their own, each hoping to bring closure to Neal’s heartache.  White Collar builds fun and heartfelt character relationships: Peter/Neal, Peter/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Neal, Elizabeth/Mozzie, Neal/Alex (another con played by Gloria Votsis), and Neal/Sara (insurance investigator played by Hilarie Burton).  Season 2 ends with Neal’s previous mentor turned nemesis, Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy best known from his 80’s hits Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire) escaping once again, ending Neal’s quest for answers – for the time being.  What will happen in Season 3?  Find out when White Collar returns June 7th!

Covert Affairs – Abandoned on a deserted island by her love, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly) joins the CIA and is immediately thrust into the world of undercover assignments.  With the help of her blind CIA tech expert, Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham, Harper’s Island), and the former CIA director’s son, Jai Wilcox (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Annie jumps into the toughest cases.  Her boss, Joan Campbell (played by Kari Matchett), and her boss’s husband, current CIA director Arthur Campbell (the fabulous Peter Gallagher), constantly throw Annie into veteran situations, test her abilities, and review her loyalties to the CIA.  Annie also battles familiar woes living in her sister’s guest house, and playing perfect aunt to her two nieces, while keeping her cover story as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution intact.

Living her double life, Annie showcases her kick-ass CIA training, and battles her insecurities one day at a time, making Covert Affairs a fun summer pick.  Covert Affairs also returns June 7th

Burn Notice – Bringing sexy back to Thursday nights.  Miami + Burned Spy = Hottest Show on Television!  Michael Westen, a former spy burned by the U.S. government, teams up with Sam Axe (Michael’s friend and former Navy Seal), Fiona Glenanne (Michael’s gun-crazy on & off again girlfriend), and Jesse Porter (another spy accidentally burned by Michael) to keep Miami safe, and continue Michael’s investigation into his burn notice. 

Season 4 ended with a bang, no different from any other Burn Notice finale.  Why was Michael taken to Washington D.C.?  Was his burn notice lifted?  Burn Notice returns June 23rd.  

 

Law & Order: Criminal IntentGoren & Eames, together again, returned Sunday, May 1st, for the tenth and final season.  It seems tv-land is happy for the original CI partners’ return – the show’s rating was up 43% from last year.  In an interview with Candace Havens, Vincent D’Onofrio mentioned that the storyline this season focuses more on the cases than the personal lives of the detectives – back to Law & Order basics. 

Psych – It was just announced by the USA Network that Psych doesn’t return until Fall 2011, but I still highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue for summer fun if you like mysteries, pop-culture from the 80’s, and laughing – especially for the blooper reel! 

Growing up with a detective father (Corbin Bernsen from the 80’s greats L.A. Law and Major League) teaching him to pay very close attention to detail, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) fools everyone into believing he has psychic abilities.  Everyone, that is, except his father, Henry, and his best friend, Gus (Burton Guster played by Dule Hill from The West Wing).  Shawn & Gus open a consulting/detective agency, “Psych”, and freelance their services to the Santa Barbara police department on numerous cases, despite the constant disapproval of lead detective, Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson).  Lassiter and his partner, Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), join Shawn and Gus to close the cases assigned to them by Police Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson), and comedy ensues each and every time.  Every episode promises laughs, especially with the absolutely hilarious nicknames Shawn & Gus assume for each case.  The 80’s references, 80’s music, and 80’s guest stars (Judd Nelson & Ally Sheedy from The Brat Pack, Phylicia Rashad & Keisha Knight Pulliam from The Cosby Show, Cybill Shepherd from Moonlighting just to name a few) make watching Psych a fun game of 80’s trivia, especially for those of us deemed children of the 80’s – like myself. 

Being a huge fan of the 90s hit Twin Peaks, I absolutely loved the Psych season five episode: ‘Dual Spires’.  James Roday outdid himself writing the episode: he perfected the oddities of the characters from David 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.  Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the fabulous Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee, Laura Palmer; Dana Ashbrook, Bobby Briggs; Ray Wise, Leland Palmer; and, Sherilyn Finn; Audrey Horne.  ‘Dual Spires’ may be my favorite Psych episode to date! 

Do you watch USA’s In Plain Sight or Royal Pains?  Do you hope that Fairly Legal returns for a second season on USA?  Do you miss Monk or The Dead Zone?  What other networks and/or shows do you enjoy during the summer months?  I’d love to hear from you!