Season Premiere Round-Up: September 6th-September 29th

So, the 2016-2017 Fall TV Season has begun. Lots of new and returning shows have already started, and I haven’t watched even half of them, because it’s been a bit busy for me lately, and also because I didn’t want to. Still, I’ve checked out about five shows so far. Here are my general impressions:

DISCLAIMERS: MILD TO SERIOUS SPOILERS INVOLVED. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T YET WATCHED. THIS MEANS YOU, MEKAELA ST. GEORGE.

Atlanta

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I have to catch up on this show (we’re like six episodes in or something?) but I just watched the first two, and so far I’m liking it. I find that I have to crank up my volume like I’m listening to Comedy Central, or British people, but other than that, it’s interesting.

There are far, far better people than a white girl from small town California to talk about why this show is important, and have, so I’m not going to try. What I will say is that I generally find the characters likable or interesting, which is especially helpful in Earn’s case, since male protagonists who are always asking their parents for money and not helping ladies out much on the rent . . . not typically my favorite. But nobody does anything so horrible I can’t stand them; actually, I like all three main characters quite a bit. Paper Boi has some nice scenes, and of course Keith Stanfield is pretty hilarious. There are a lot of moments of quiet humor and a fair amount of WTF humor, too. I do find myself hoping that Earn’s girlfriend will get to do something other than, you know, be a girlfriend. Like, it’d be nice for her to have a storyline that didn’t entirely revolve around wanting Earn to make money or get out, especially because the show’s feeling a bit dude heavy for my tastes at the moment.

Atlanta is, as everyone and their mothers have said, a tonally strange show, bouncing seamlessly between scenes of, say, stoner humor and very abrupt, difficult-to-watch scenes of police brutality. It doesn’t quite feel like anything else on TV, and that, along with a soft spot for Donald Glover, makes me think I’ll probably watch it at least a full season, if not more.

GRADE: 

B+

The Good Place

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So, that was fun. I went back and forth on if I wanted to check this show out or not, but a good review on io9, my love for Kristen Bell, and a need for a little bit of levity in my life tipped me towards the Check It Out side, and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure I’m going to keep up with it forever–I worry that it will become a bit repetitive–but I’d like to try for now. I laughed out loud a lot, even at some of the moments I knew were coming, and that’s always a big plus. I’m trying to remember which jokes made me laugh the hardest: the dog, certainly, was up there. Also, Kristen Bell’s offhand line about the purse, the reminder that Africa is a continent, not a country, and Michael’s clear inability to understand the mass appeal of froyo.

William Jackson Harper is an awesome straight man, and he and Kristen Bell have great chemistry, like, that’s half the show right there. Ted Danson is also a lot of fun, and I pretty much adore D’Arcy Carden as Janet. Also, I didn’t expect the cracktastic karmic consequences for whenever Eleanor screws up, and I’m excited that there’s a bit of a mystery involved, too. Who knows that Eleanor doesn’t belong there? Will we meet God (or whoever) at some point? And what exactly is God’s criteria system, like, I’m pretty interested in what’s going on behind the scenes when Florence Nightingale didn’t merit a spot in the Good Place, but someone like Tahani–who is all charitable action with somewhat questionable intent–did.

There’s possible room to grow here. If the show does, and continues highlighting the Eleanor/Chidi dynamic duo, I could definitely enjoy it.

GRADE:

B+

Agents of SHIELD

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So, I’m partially invested in this. Theoretically, I like the idea of breaking up the team: it adds a layer of complication, giving our players secrets and hidden alliances that could be kind of interesting. It also shifts around the power dynamic, like, I’m into Jemma having a bigger position of power than either May or even Coulson in some respects. At the same time, though, I already miss the team, you know, as a team, and the idea of a whole season getting the band back together sounds vaguely exhausting. I’m also a little less interested in Daisy being the vigilante, even though her scenes aren’t bad, and I’m not a Daisy hater by any means. I just would have been more interested if virtually any other character had been playing it solo. I kind of think a Daisy-lite season might do the show some good, although in fairness to AoS, it’s looking like everyone’s going to have stuff to do.

On a more positive note: Ghost Rider is potentially interesting (although the scene with the brother and the surge of inspirational music that followed didn’t quite work for me), I’m totally into the Life Model Decoy (and hey, it’s Madalena from Galavant! YAY!), I’m excited to see that Yo-Yo’s back (YO-YO!), and OOOOH, May has apparently contracted the weird ghost sickness. See, now that I’m fully invested in.

GRADE:

B

How To Get Away With Murder

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After an occasionally awesome but somewhat shaky second season, I’d say “We’re Good People Now” is relatively solid ‘B’ fun, with some drama that I don’t care about and one damn sweet hook. The worst part, easily, was that beginning; please tell me that there are other people out there besides me and my sister who watched that whole Scream Our Fury Into The Night Sky scene and laughed their asses off. I mean, I get the idea, and those kind of moments can totally work, but boy, did I not buy it here, like, at all.

Also, any Wes/Laurel drama is automatically a snoozefest on every level. I am very definitively not a shipper because Laurel is far too interesting for him, and besides, Wes’s whole “I can’t talk to you because when I look at you, all I see is your shitty ex-boyfriend” thing, I mean, that’s such total bullshit. (Don’t get me wrong; Laurel will probably still end up being involved with Frank somehow because TWISTS, but at this point, for all Wes knows? Yeah, this is a shitty way to treat her.) Oh, and new douchebag student guy? Can he die, like, super quickly? I am deeply not interested in spending any time with this guy.

Let’s see, what else . . . oh, right, my favorite goddamn ship has broken up. This is not my happy face, show. Actually, I find that I’m not quite as upset as I thought I’d be, mostly because I don’t think this is the end of Oliver/Connor at all. Also, I’ve gotta say . . . look, Oliver’s totally right that Connor’s reaction (or lack thereof) is just completely wrong and may not say necessarily great things about their relationship–but then, that’s why you go to counseling or something. What you don’t do is make Connor’s saintlike reaction to your pretty atrocious treachery somehow all about you and not understanding who you are as a person anymore and so you have to break up so you can rediscover yourself on your own because, seriously, WHAT?

Away from that total nonsense. I genuinely like that after a year of murder and hacking up bodies and shootings and framings and everything else you could possibly imagine, the Keating Five aren’t actually doing so hot in school, like, that makes complete sense. I enjoyed seeing Annalise visiting everyone over the summer, and also the show getting back to its initial procedural format. I think it actually needs that along with the twisty soapy murdery goodness. It was also pretty hilarious to see Nate giving Annalise a foot rub because–shamelessly, utterly shamelessly–he’s shirtless as he’s doing so; thus we witness a few of Billy Brown’s 680 ridiculously sculpted muscles actually moving as he rubs her feet.

But of course this episode’s really all about those last few minutes and our new mystery: WHO IS DEAD? Like I said before, it’s a pretty great hook, especially since every episode we’ll be eliminating at least one person who isn’t dead. (If Connor or Oliver die, I walk, people.) If you take the scene at face value, then the most likely people are Bonnie, Wes, or Nate, based on Annalise’s grief-stricken reaction. But since anyone who’s still watching this show in the third season knows not to take shit at face value . . . it really could be anyone because, for all we know, Annalise killed them herself and is just putting on a big show for the cops. (Currently, I’m putting early money on Frank dying after somehow managing to impossibly redeem himself to Annalise over the course of the season, but early money isn’t much, like, I’m wagering maybe four pennies here.)

Finally, two more important things to note: a) Meggy is adorable, so either she’s secretly evil or she’s gonna die, and b) Frank shaved his beard and head. NOOOOOOOOOO.

GRADE:

B

Lethal Weapon

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Here’s another show I was on the fence about checking out. But I finally did, and it’s . . . okay? Should we pro/con/whatever it?

PRO:

Clayne Crawford is actually pretty good as Riggs. I especially like some of his quieter, matter-of-fact moments later on in the episode. Right now, at least, I think his performance is carrying the show. (He and Damon Wayans also have decent enough chemistry, though, which helps.)

CON:

Still, when my spellcheck tried to make ‘Clayne’ ‘Claire’ and I thought to myself, man, how awesome would it have been to have seen Marti Riggs instead? Yeah, I’m still bummed we didn’t get it. Cause the thing is Lethal Weapon isn’t anything new or fresh, and while the women thus far are at least likable–I enjoy Murtaugh’s wife, and Jordana Brewster’s counselor appears so far to be playing a more effective and less overtly antagonistic version of Mary Ellen Trainor’s original character–they also don’t have much to do. (Besides, Brewster will probably just end up Riggs’s love interest, anyway.) A gender-flipped version of this show could at least have been interesting.

CON:

Especially since they only double down on the Refrigerated Wife backstory by adding a dead unborn baby, too. Sigh.

WHATEVER:

While it’s nice to see someone who isn’t freaking out at the first hint of a contraction, woman, call yourself a cab, Jesus. Seriously, ladies, this is your public service announcement from someone who totally isn’t a medical professional but works around a lot of them: if you think you are going into active labor, PLEASE don’t drive yourself to the hospital because this is not safe, and also because if you can drive more than three minutes to the hospital without having debilitating contractions, you very possibly aren’t far enough along yet to be coming to the hospital anyway. (Well, okay, women whose water has broken still need to come in regardless of whether they’re having contractions or not–but never mind, you get the point. In general, call a friend, an ambulance, or Uber, okay?)

CON:

I am tired of seeing the same accident over and over and over, TV. Anytime I see a driver’s profile, I just sit back and start counting seconds until a truck comes through and T-bones them.

WHATEVER:

Bad guys are killed like crazy in this show. Like, no one cares even a little bit about offing criminals, so long as car races aren’t interrupted and the city doesn’t suffer too much financial damage. (Seriously, the Grand Prix scene is more than a little silly, and I could easily have done without it.)

PRO:

Hey, I forgot Kevin Rahm is in this! And he has a pocket square! Man, I haven’t seen that guy in forever.

WHATEVER:

Murtaugh is like the most oblivious person ever and probably shouldn’t be a detective. How is he the only person at the dinner table to miss out on the obvious clues that Riggs’s wife is dead? Good Lord, Murtaugh.

WHATEVER:

Instead of just being old, Murtaugh is going back to work after suffering a heart attack and open heart surgery. I feel like they’re just going to use that as an easy joke, as it’s mostly treated comedically here, but this actually has real potential to be a serious ongoing storyline, like, Murtaugh being afraid to die is a perfectly valid thing. Since most of the pathos goes to Riggs, this could be an interesting thing for his partner to explore. Instead, I suspect Murtaugh will mostly have serious drama whenever one of his family members inevitably ends up in danger.

PRO:

The clear MVP of this story is not Murtaugh or even Riggs but Murtaugh’s ridiculously cute baby girl. She is the most adorable thing ever and needs to be featured in every single episode. Make it happen, Fox.

GRADE:

B

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“He Who Controls Spice Controls The Universe!”

A few months ago, as you may or may not remember, I took part in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon. Donors could purchase a movie review, should they opt to do so, and a man named Tom did.

Here is everything you need to know about Tom:

1. Tom is an assistant nurse manager of the ICU, one of the departments I work in.

2. Tom is a gigantic movie buff, like, he’s seen way, WAY, more movies than I have.

3. Tom’s movie opinions are completely wrong roughly 90% of the time.

Tom immediately jumped on the chance to purchase a review, and then, fiendishly, spent the next two months going back and forth on what he wanted to make me watch. Would he give me something he thought I’d genuinely enjoy, despite my fairly minimal interest? Would he give me something so ridiculously terrible that it would totally redefine the so-bad-it’s-AWFUL genre? These were hard considerations, and Tom delighted in proposing different alternatives every day, but in the end, the knowledge that I had never seen David Lynch’s Dune proved too much for him.

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And so, good people, let us begin our journey into the world of Dune, a place of spice, Chosen Ones, gigantic worms, and winged underoos.

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Emmy 2016 Recap: Fashion And . . . Well, Mostly Just Fashion

So, the truth of it is this: I didn’t watch the Emmys, or at least, not in full. I had planned to, but, well, life. You know how it goes. So I missed out on seeing Tatiana Maslany win a much deserved Emmy, something I obviously deeply regret. (Because seriously. It’s about GODDAMN TIME she won.)

Thus I’m afraid to say that I have no real award show recap for you this year. I did catch the Matt Damon/Jimmy Kimmel bit, which made me laugh, and I was overjoyed to see Last Week Tonight With John Oliver win because that show is so ridiculously good. Oh, and Key & Peele won? YES. I miss you forever, Key & Peele! I’m also happy to see Rami Malek win for Best Actor, not because I watch Mr. Robot (sorry, guys, I still can’t make myself do it), but because apparently he’s the first non-white actor to win the category in 18 years, which is the kind of depressing stat  that I should stop being shocked by, and yet . . . nope, it’s like I don’t learn.

Which leaves us with the bit of the award show that I absolutely did watch: The Red Carpet.

SUPREME FASHIONISTA CARLIE’S BEST DRESSED OF THE NIGHT:

Kerry Washington
You never know how maternity dresses are going to go, but I thought Kerry Washington looked stunning. Her hair is gorgeous, and I love the slender cut-outs. This is the maternity dress all other maternity dresses should aspire to be.

SUPREME FASHIONISTA CARLIE’S OTHER FAVORITES:

Viola Davis
The hot pink is a bold choice and looks great on her skin. On me, Christ no–I would hate this dress on me. But she makes it work, and I love the lip color, too. Plus, her husband wore a matching pink bow tie, so now I am officially in love with them as a couple forever.

Kristen Bell
Love it. It’s big and romantic and different than everything else on the carpet. Unlike Viola Davis’s gown, I would wear the hell out of this dress.

Sarah Hyland
Also totally different than anything else on the carpet. Personally, I think it’s adorable. I would have a lot of fun wearing this too. (Can’t decide if you should wear a dress or pants? Wear both! Everybody wins!)

Tracee Ellis Ross
Classic, lovely, and elegant. Me like.

Yara Shahidi
I’m unfamiliar with the actress, but there’s something about this dress that I just find rather charming. It’s different without being showy, and she looks great in it.

Trevor Jackson
I’m afraid I don’t know this actor, either, but I definitely approve of his suit–which is SUPER impressive, actually, because velvet suits usually do nothing for me. This looks damn swanky, though.

Natasha Lyonne
This is old school glamour, and I love it. I’m all about anyone who can rock a white cape like that.

Angela Bassett
I feel like I shouldn’t like this one as much as I do–this is a very hard color to pull off–but I think Angela Bassett can actually pull it. I mean, she is owning this dress, right? Besides, you’ve got to like dramatic sleeves.

Lili Taylor
Rocking the pants suit. YES.

SUPREME FASHIONISTA CARLIE’S LEAST FAVORITES:

Laura Carmichael
Damn it, there are just some colors that don’t go together, and I think banana yellow and soft lavender qualify. Not to mention the structure of that shirt is just peculiar, and . . . is that a daisy? No, I can’t even pretend to understand this look.

Amanda Peet
Er. Maybe it’s supposed to be bumblebee glamour?

Mandy Moore
I like the color, but I have never, ever understood tiered ruffles, and I don’t really like how the dress suddenly becomes sheer, either.

Amy Poehler
I’m a big believer in dressing whatever the hell age you want, but . . . boy, this is an old lady dress. I almost feel like maybe the top part could work on its own but paired with the bottom . . . it’s just way too many green sequins for my taste.

Sarah Paulson
I’m aware that I’m just further demonstrating my complete lack of taste, but this is one of those fashion-forward dresses that I just don’t like at all. Maybe if I could cut off the whole skirt and make it into a super sexy evening jacket? As is, I’m thinking my theme of the night might be “sorry, too much green shit.”

Stacy London
Look, even I don’t like these polka dots, and I love polka dots. This is just bad. And yet, miraculously, it’s still not my least favorite dress on the carpet. Because seriously–

Anna Chlumsky
I can’t even.

FINALLY, SUPREME FASHIONISTA CARLIE’S YAWN REPORT – SO YAWN-WORTHY THAT THESE FOLKS DON’T EVEN GET LINKS:

Tom Hiddleston, Liev Schreiber, Paul Sparks, Thomas Middleditch, Kit Harrington, Tony Hale, Courtney B. Vance, and all the other guys out there in their perfectly nice tuxes who don’t have to worry about being fashion-forward or wearing the same suit as anyone else or repeating a previous year’s look or really anything at all, fashion wise. You’re lazy, the lot of you. Shame! SHAME!

All right, that’s it for today. I’ll try to actually watch the ceremony next year, if only so I have something to talk about other than my own personal sense of fashion.

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“Mornings Are For Coffee And Contemplation.”

Man, I’m behind on so many things for this blog: I’m way off schedule for my Disney Princess Movie Challenge, and I definitely should have watched Revenge of the Sith by now for my ongoing Star Wars Re-Watch. But today, at least, I’m finally getting around to reviewing a show that I did have the opportunity to check out (forever ago): Stranger Things.

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There are, admittedly, a few things I’d like to change. Overall, though, I’m pretty into it.

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Dragon Con 2016: The Recap

hipster-wampa-on-set

In which the author goes to her third DragonCon, dresses up in various nerdy costumes, buys a bunch of nerdy things, visits puppet museums, fails as an artist, eats a decent amount of food, and proves that she has no upper arm strength whatsoever. (Not that this was actually in question.)

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10 Movies I Wanna Gender-Flip NOW

Slowly–impossibly slowly–I’ve been working on a Stranger Things review. I will complete and post this review someday, almost certainly before my 80th birthday, I swear, but for now I’m putting it on hold so I can write this list instead.

So, gender-flipped remakes. Whenever these come up in conversation, I always feel like I can’t properly articulate why I’m so interested in seeing them–but I do think they have value. And before you ask, I still haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters yet, much to my annoyance. It’s been a busy couple months, and at this point I’ve mostly resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have to wait for the rental . . . which sucks, not because I’m sure I’ll like it–I was lukewarm about the trailer–but because I really hoped the movie would succeed at the box office, and I feel bad for not buying a ticket. Ghostbusters’ failure to make money is a victory for the wrong kind of people, the kind who have been actively campaigning for it to fail since it was first announced because, wah, their precious childhoods are being tainted by women–and don’t tell me it’s not about the women. Most remakes, you hear the news, you bitch on Twitter about Hollywood’s refusal to make anything new, and then you move on about your day like grown ass adults. That’s hell and gone from what happened here.

It’s also a victory for the people who will argue that “See! No one wants to see a female-led cast or women in SF movies!” Not to mention the racist dickbags who have been harassing Leslie Jones and doing their level best to display the worst aspects of humanity–Ghostbusters’ failure has even been used as evidence that this atrocious behavior is somehow okay. And don’t get me wrong: it is totally and absolutely valid if you saw the movie and didn’t like it, or just aren’t interested in checking it out–but those misogynists frothing at the mouth the second it was announced? I am exhausted of listening to their bullshit, and Lord knows they won’t be shutting up anytime soon.

All right, that got away from me a bit. Back on track! One of the reasons I’d like to see more genderbent remakes is just the glorious change-up in ratio of male to female characters. Women usually only outnumber men in romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and–interestingly enough–slasher flicks. In fantasy, western, SF, noir, action, crime, war, and various other genres, though, men easily outnumber women–and boy do people complain if ladies outnumber dudes in those genres, because that means it’s a stunt, it’s appeasing the PC Police, made for feminazis, blah blah garbage garbage. Of course that’s patently ridiculous if you think about it: sure, you’re used to seeing movies with 9 men and 1 woman, but is that actually indicative of your life experience? Do you really know 9 men for every 1 woman in your life? No? Then please stop acting like reversing the gender ratio is some completely ridiculous thing that could never, ever be possible. You’re just not used to it, and that’s okay. None of us are used to it.

You wanna know how to get used to it? By watching so many movies with all or mostly female casts that it’s just not a big deal anymore. You could, of course, make original movies that aren’t remakes; in fact, I’d love to see those too. But let’s not pretend that getting those movies is somehow easy; otherwise we’d already have them. Besides, revisiting old worlds/stories with gender-swapped characters could actually be pretty powerful.

With that all in mind, here’s a list of some gender-swapped remakes that I think could be exciting to watch.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Aliens, Mathematicians, and Luke Cage

Arrival

So, this one’s based off a Ted Chiang story that I have not yet read (obviously, I need to), and I’m pretty interested. I find linguistics in SF pretty fascinating, and I’m excited about a movie that’s primarily focused on the communication aspect of First Contact. Also, it’s nice to find a movie with such an all-star, Academy Awards-type cast (Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, etc.) that I’m actually curious about.

I could potentially drag myself to the theater to see this one. You know, depending on life and whatnot.

Hidden Figures

Normally, inspirational, real life, biopic crap is totally not my thing. This, however, might be the exception.

When the trailer says that Hidden Figures is a true, untold story, my immediate reaction isn’t to roll my eyes and yawn like normal; it’s to think, “Holy shit, you’re right, I don’t know anything about these awesome black lady mathematicians getting their crazy calculus shit on at NASA.” (No, I don’t have any idea what branch of mathematics it actually is.) It is, for once, a true story I’m actually interested in learning.

Plus, holy shit, this cast. I’m just going to keep typing names off the IMDb page until I finally come across one I don’t know: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Aldis Hodge. I mean, damn.

Same Kind of Different As Me

Just to be clear? This is exactly the kind of trailer I was talking about before, only instead of merely rolling my eyes and yawning, I also gagged a bit, and then tried to guess what number it would land on in a Top 10 Movies The Devil Will Subject Me to in Hell list.

Zoom

Er. I have no idea what the hell is going on in this movie, but I’m interested.

I like Alison Pill a lot, and this looks totally nuts. Funny, possibly confusing, with a healthy side of total WTF. At any rate, it’s a great antidote to that schmaltzy “I’m white, and I’m helping this strange yet profound homeless black man, and did I mention that he’s homeless, wow, I’m great for being such a thoughtful, considerate person” trailer. (Was that grammatically accurate? I have a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t grammatically accurate. I care not.)

Atlanta

This looks . . . interesting. It’s hard to get a good sense of the show, obviously; all I’m really going off of is a single interview I read, and this minute-long teaser trailer. Still, I’m just curious enough to (probably) check it out.

I can’t pretend the actual synopsis does anything for me (I’m struggling to think of a movie or TV show centered around the life of an up-and-coming musician that I even remotely cared about), but this show seems like it’s going to go tonally weird, darkly comic, and uncomfortable places. And I like Donald Glover a whole hell of a lot, so it’s at least worth checking out the first episode.

Finally . . . Luke Cage

Okay, I know this trailer has been out for a week now, but I forgot that it was up, so I actually just saw it. I was already pretty pumped from the teaser trailer alone; now, I can’t wait until September 30th. I liked Luke Cage well enough in Jessica Jones, but I’m way more interested in him starring in his own show, and hey, it’s Mahershala Ali again! AND ROSARIO.

Count me in, folks. I’m ready.

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