About Me

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Hi, I'm Jenna and I'm addicted to great television. I'm on a mission to share with you what I think are the best of the best when it comes to shows and mini-series. Long format visual storytelling is my entertainment of choice. I've got a lot to say, so stay tuned..... P.S. I am under some sort of invisible legal obligation to state that I do not own any of the photos posted herein unless otherwise specified and if you see any of your images and would like me to credit you or take it down (‘cus you’re just a meanie), please contact me

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spy (On Me Please) *Hulu Plus Exclusive Series

Have you ever felt bored with your career? Thought "I need a change", so you quit your job to be a civil servant? Yeah, me neither. I'm mean, really....who does that? Tim Elliot, that's who. When this middle aged, divorced, single father, working in a London electronic store realizes his life is going nowhere, he up and quits to take the civil service exam. When Tim fails to find the right room, he ends up taking the MI-5 exam by mistake (it's kinda like British Homeland Security). AND HE PASSES!

Tim's biggest motivation in quitting his dead end job is to make his son Marcus proud of him. Now he's in training for arguably the coolest job ever, but he can't tell anyone. Maybe a hint that he won't make the best spy, Tim blabs to his best mate Chris pretty much immediately. Chris is an angry, know-it-all, jerk, but he's nothing compared to Marcus who even Chris describes as a "dick". Marcus is ten years old. He is the most pedantic, erudite and didactic person you've ever met. AND HE'S TEN! He wears a suit and carries a brief case. Definitely evil genius potential. Actually I'd be surprised if he didn't go down that path. Marcus puts down Tim every chance he gets. Why Tim is fighting for custody of such a snobby brat is a mystery to everyone that's ever met the Elliot family. But he fights. He tries every day to impress Marcus, who has impossibly high standards for a king let alone a smart-mouthed pre-pubescent.

On the other side of this family feud is Judith, your classic angry ex-wife. She's dating Phillip, Marcus' headmaster. In series one (of two), Phillip is played by the side-splitting Tom Goodman-Hill. Phillip is.....unusual. Most of the time, it seems as though he'd rather be in a relationship with Tim instead of Judith. Always looking for Tim's approval and affection. But he's got competition. Paula, the therapist assigned to evaluate the family situation and recommend who should have custody, is bat-shit crazy and obsessed with Tim. But wait! There's one more person who vies for this newly anointed spy's affections. His MI-5 trainer/boss known only as The Examiner. Dramatic, I know. The Examiner drinks too much, is very careless with firearms & intel, oh and he's a DUDE! Robert Lindsay is absolutely hilarious as Tim's boss and head of MI-5. I have no idea how he ever gets through a scene with a straight face. I really hope there is a blooper reel somewhere.

What is it about this tall, blond, blundering man that has men and women alike all in a tizzy? It must be his plaid shirts and baggy sport coats. Agent Elliot definitely has the worst fashion sense of any spy....ever. He looks more like an adjunct professor at a community college than James Bond. Maybe if he classed it up a little bit, his co-worker Caitlin that he's crushing on would take a little more notice. And it's not like they don't spend enough time together. For being spies, they spend an inordinate amount of time in the office. We really don't see them doing all that much spying. It's mostly about Tim trying to get his son to like him and he just happens to be training as a spy. Ya' know, like you do.

No matter the combination of characters in a scene, you are sure to laugh. With the exception of Tim and Caitlin, pretty much everyone else is absolutely mental. With that many over-the-top personalities, you definitely get some side splitting moments.

So if you're looking for some classic British humour and an attractive leading man (despite the horrible fashion sense), "Spy' might just be right up your alley.

Watch the first two seasons of Spy exclusively on Hulu

P.S. I've now said the word spy so many times that it doesn't sound like a word anymore. Spy...Spy....Spy....Spy...Spy....Spy...see?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Won't You Be My Antihero?

Dictionary.com defines an antihero as a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like. When it comes to modern television antiheroes, my definition is a little more complex. I think that they are characters that in the real world, you'd probably abhor. You'd only see the worse part of them. But because we watch their stories unfold from their point of view on television, we can see the varied parts of their nature and they most definitely have purpose. The world and especially great storytelling, is not black and white. No one is all villain or all knight in shining armor. Some of the best written characters are those that continually cross the good guy/bad guy line. And it usually is a guy. Female antiheroes are few and far between. They're like the unicorns of television.

Vic Mackey, "The Shield" - Some consider Vic the first of the modern television antiheroes. I am one of those people. You might think, how could you root for a corrupt cop that lies, cheats, steals, and occasionally kills people. Easy. Michael Chiklis embodies the Los Angeles Police detective that stops at nothing to get his man and to support his family. Trust me, if you haven't seen it, Vic commits some pretty horrifying acts, but you sit on the edge of your seat and cross your fingers he gets away with it. He does it for his family, to provide for his three kids, two of whom are autistic. Vic does the unspeakable for love and justice....and sometimes greed. He does bad things, but does the end justify the means? If you watch any of the seven seasons of this incredible series, you'll ask yourself that more than a few times. Watch all seven episodes on Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video. 

Dexter Morgan, "Dexter" - Out of all the characters on this list, Dexter has to be the epitome of an antihero. He's a serial killer for Pete's sake! And yet we love him and even want him to kill sometimes. He may be a murderer but he lives by a strict code and only executes people that truly deserve it, mostly other cold-hearted killers. Dexter can't change who he is. His Dark Passenger (what he calls his need to kill) isn't getting out of the car anytime soon. So he channels it into something.... productive? It makes you think. If he's going to kill anyway, would you rather it be a school teacher or a murdering pedophile? You'll find yourself rooting for Dexter to keep killing and not be caught. It's ok to be conflicted. That's what a well written antihero does to you. Catch up with the first 6 seasons on Amazon Instant Video. Season 8 premieres June 30th on Showtime.

Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, "Boardwalk Empire" - I'm including Nucky on this list because most people would say he fits the bill of an antihero. He's the protagonist. He does bad stuff, but usually to protect people (or get revenge). He's just not quite as likable to me as the others. Loosely based on the real life Enoch Thompson, Nucky was king of prohibition era Atlantic City. Well he was the county treasurer, but in a time when more politicians were corrupt, than not, he who holds the purse strings..... you get the picture. Nucky was not only a politician, but a businessman. One of those businesses being bootlegging. When Nucky crosses paths with other gangsters, because let's admit it, that's what he is, bullets fly. Somehow, you're always rooting for a man with a gun in his hand, but no badge. Like I said, after three seasons, he's not my favorite anymore, but he definitely falls into the antihero category. You can watch the first three seasons on HBO GO. Season four airs this September on HBO.

Jackson "Jax" Teller, "Sons of Anarchy" - The lead character in one of my favorite series, Jax is a member of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club - Redwood Original or SAMCRO. This isn't a hang around some dude's front lawn fixing up your old Harley kind of motorcycle club. This is a gun running, porn producing, drug smuggling criminal organization. At the beginning of this tale, Jax is the club VP. He must commit a multitude of heinous acts in order to stay alive and oust his step-father from the president's chair. But mostly he does these things to keep his family and his club safe. Particularly in season one, we see how conflicted Jax is over what SAMCRO has become. It is for that reason, that Jackson Teller is a classic antihero. SOA is loosely based on Hamlet (my favorite Shakespeare play, maybe why I love this show). If you haven't seen any of this riveting drama, first smack yourself upside the head. When the sting wears off, stream all five seasons on Amazon Instant Video. Netflix has the first four. Traditionally, the most recent season is posted closer to the next season's premiere date, so keep a look out in late summer if you're a Netflix-er. Season 6 premieres in September on FX. 

Walter White - "Breaking Bad" - Ever wonder what your chemistry teacher did outside of school? When he's not at the hospital for his cancer treatment, Mr. White is cooking up the best Crystal Meth the Southwest has ever seen. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Walt turns to cooking meth in order to earn money for his family. He's more afraid of leaving them without a source of income than he is of actually dying. It's not long before this human doormat summons some courage and starts kicking some ass to keep his product on the market. But his need to provide turns into good ol' greed. After four and a half seasons, it's hard to tell how much good is still left or if Walter White has gone completely dark side. Amazon Instant Video has every episode. The first four seasons are streaming on Netflix. Season 5B premieres on AMC August 11th. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Television loves antiheroes these days. I definitely recommend checking out all of the shows if you don't already watch. 

Honorable Mentions: 
Cesare Borgia, "The Borgias"
Ragnar Lothbrok, "Vikings"
Elizabeth & Phillip Jennings, "The Americans"
Nancy Botwin, "Weeds"

If I missed your favorite antihero, please share with the class and include him/her in the comments section. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pramface Couldn't be More Likeable if it Tried *Hulu Exclusive Series*

Meet Jamie, an adorable, fresh faced boy from a nice working class family. Like any sixteen year old boy, Jamie's biggest goal in life is to lose his virginity. Enter Laura, an eighteen year old middle class girl who tries to forget how much she hates her dysfunctional parents by getting drunk at a party. Laura's college plans could be put on hold when that one cherry popping/statutory rape-y night turns into a cross-class unplanned pregnancy. 

Despite Laura's snobbish attitude and utter disgust at having slept with a man-child, Jamie won't give up on being there for her, whatever she decides. He's possibly the most mature sixteen year old boy ever to walk the earth. Spoiler alert! She keeps the baby. It's kinda the premise of the show.

So on one side of the ring, you've got darling Jamie and his hard working, salt of the earth parents who raised him right (ya know, except for the knocking up a teenage girl thing). On the other.....Laura and her well-off, unhappily married mother and father who can barely stand to be in the same room together. When the battle for this baby begins, there will be blows.

Each installment of the six episode first season catches up with Laura, Jamie and family at a different point in the pregnancy. The Brits go with the less is more approach, but with a show this charming, endearing and funny-cause-it-happens, I'd love to see a much longer season. Not only do you have the moments of inadequacy for these soon to be parents and the awkwardness of their undefined relationship, but between their families and friends you've got a whole slew of crazy characters.

If you're looking for an uproarious comedy that is also delightful, hopeful and relatable, check out all six episodes of "Pramface" Season 1 on Hulu Plus/pramface

Season 2 just aired on BBC 3 earlier this year, so hopefully we'll see it on Hulu Plus soon.

Give the PROMO a gander, I promise you'll like it.

*Watch the Guided Tour to see all that Hulu Plus has to offer besides this awesome show. Subscriptions are only $7.99/month and you get free week to try it out. I'll keep blogging about my favorite exclusive content that you can't see anywhere else. Hulu is NOT paying me for this, but if you'd like them to, go ahead and send an email ; ) I'm not opposed. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Misfits is a Perfect Fit *Hulu Exclusive Series*

Imagine that you're young and stupid and committed some idiotic crime. Not big enough to get you thrown in jail, but bad enough to get saddled with community service. And you have to wear the ugly orange jumpsuit. Now imagine that there is a crazy storm and after it, you've got some weird super power. Oh and your probation worker is trying to kill you. That's pretty much the premise for one of the funnest Hulu exclusive series "Misfits". These are not your average Marvel or DC super heroes. They are foul mouthed, immature juvenile delinquents with supernatural abilities. I cannot emphasize the "foul mouthed" part enough. This show is not for younger viewers. Why don't we meet the League of Misfits, shall we?

Curtis Donovan was on his way to becoming an Olympic runner when he got busted for drugs, but it was his girlfriend who really took the fall. She's doing hard time for intent to sell when she was only holding for Curtis.  Now, he spends his days feeling sorry for himself and picking up litter. Until the storm that is. Curtis' super power is that he can turn back time. But can he make things better the second go around? This could be a really cool power if you could control when to use it and are smart enough not to make things worse. Otherwise you're spending your days going back to the night before.

Alisha Daniels is your classic party girl. She likes to have a good time. Some nights, that means getting loaded and then getting behind the wheel. Just because she's donning an orange jumpsuit these days, doesn't mean she's gone straight (and girl knows how to accessorize a jumpsuit). She still gets her kicks between scrubbing graffiti off walls and picking up dog poop. What did those lightening bolts infuse Alisha with? Why the power to make anyone she touches want to have sex with her, that's what. Is that the must rubbish power you've ever heard of? Seriously.

Nathan Young, the adorable, curly headed Irish scamp. He has the dirtiest mouth I've ever heard. And yet, I like it. Always trying to lighten the mood. Whenever the others ask what he's doing time for, he says he just sampled a bit of Pick-n-Mix (what they call loose candy across the pond). After the storm, no one is quite sure what Nathan's power is, including Nathan. By the end of season one, you'll find out. And it's quite a handy power. No spoilers here.

Kelly Bailey is a girl that you should be afraid of, even if you are a 300 lb male body builder. She's got that bad girl look. Hair scraped back, too much make-up, clothes that are 2 sizes too small (except when she's in the jumpsuit) and she won't hesitate to punch you in the face for looking at her sideways. Big surprise that she got pinched for fighting another girl. After the storm, Kelly got a power that sounds great, but turns out not so much. She can hear what other people are thinking. Granted, it's handy when your life is in danger and your mates can communicate with you silently, but who really wants to know what people truly think of them, but won't say to your face? It could do some major damage to your self esteem.

Simon Bellamy totally seems like the weird kid that murdered his parents and buried them in the basement....at first. Once you get to know him and understand why he's a little off, you really grow to love him. I did. Simon is my favorite. He's carrying the trash picker for trying (and failing) to get revenge on the bully next door. Once the winds settled, Simon was left with an awesome power...the power of invisibility. It's not just convenient for stalkers. It's an everyday power. He's also the character that grows the most throughout the series. Initially, Simon was meant to be a villain, but spoiler alert! He became a fan favorite and remains a good guy. #TeamSimon

Our little group of criminal offenders aren't the only ones that came out of that storm with supernatural powers. They do seem to be the only ones that are using them for good or at least not hurting people with them. That is, when they aren't killing their probation officers who seem to drop like flies. It's not their fault!

With this concept, the product could have easily been cheesy, but it's not. Creator Howard Overman makes it fun, funny and engaging. The score is very superhero-y, the effects are pretty good and most of all the characters are likeable or at least somewhat relatable...well redeemable anyway. By the end, you empathize with this gang of delinquents. There's more to them than their rap sheets, but it does get pretty violent.  At least they're the good guys.

Check it out the first four seasons on Hulu Plus/misfits. Season five airs this fall in the UK, hopefully on Hulu Plus soon after.

*Watch the Guided Tour to see all that Hulu Plus has to offer besides this awesome show. Subscriptions are only $7.99/month and you get free week to try it out. I'll keep blogging about my favorite exclusive content that you can't see anywhere else. Hulu is NOT paying me for this, but if you'd like them to, go ahead and send an email ; ) I'm not opposed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Amazon Streams 14 Original Pilots - Which Would You Pick Up?

 Amazon's streaming service is now in the original programming game. In a bold move, they've posted all 14 of their pilots on Amazon Instant Video for free. After you watch, you can choose to take a survey about the shows you've viewed. Which pilots are picked up to series will be partially based on feedback provided by freaks like me and those of you that I can convince to do this too.

I'm not sure if this is a brilliant strategy or a horribly bad idea. It's kinda cool that I could be responsible (however infinitesimally so) for choosing a pilot that's made into a series. On the other hand, it's just giving people what they want. No surprises. Who knows what coming episodes of the pilots that don't make the cut would have brought. Executives are given the full pitch with season long arcs and major plot points. We're just rating one episode. I'm very curious about the weight that will be given to audience feedback.

Anyway, this is an interesting experiment that I encourage all you TV lovers to try out. To give you an idea of what you're in for, here are some thoughts on the 8 adult comedy pilots. Sorry I don't have the patience to sit through 6 children's shows, nor any reason to.

"Alpha House" - Four senators share a house in Washington D.C. Yep, that pretty much covers it. John Goodman's in it. Need I say more? This one is a slam dunk. Amazon would be stupid not to pick this up to series.

"Betas" - Four dudes living in Silicon Valley try to get rich by making a social networking app, because there just aren't enough of those. But this one is revolutionary, they swear. I like it. You've got your antisocial developer guy, the shy dorky kid, the old weird guy and the ace who leads this gang of misfits. Plus Ed Begley Jr. is in it and Moby guest stars. Awesome.

"Browsers" - Four fresh faced college graduates intern at a news website....and they sing. It's a musical. Really? We're still on this musical kick? I wasn't crazy about it, but if you like this sort of thing, give it a try. Bebe Neuwirth is the boss and she repeatedly sings the lyrics "I'm someone with whom not to f*ck". That right there was my favorite part of the show, but also the only part.

"Dark Minions" - A divorced guy and a pot head work on a galactic warship. Yes, you read that right. If it gets picked up to series it will be stop motion, since they didn't have a real budget, the pilot is mostly bad animation with a few shots of stop motion. Although there was some funny dialogue, the story wasn't that great. I'm not a huge fan of adult animated series. I find it hard to get into them.

"Onion News Empire" - Imagine Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" and The Onion had a baby. This would be that baby. Journalists, producers and anchors all putting it on the line for the story. William Sadler is fantastically funny as the serious head producer. Just in case Netflix's resurrection of "Arrested Development" doesn't give you enough Jeffrey Tambor, try this out for size.

"Supanatural" - Not to be confused with one of my favorite shows "SUPERnatural". Amazon says this is about "two outspoken divas who are humanity's last line of defense against the supernatural". I wouldn't know. I turned it off after one minute and seventeen seconds. It was that bad. Please, don't bother watching this one. If you do, don't bother telling me about it. I don't care.

"Those Who Can't" - Teachers that are as immature as their high school students. Just in case you hadn't guessed already, they're all dudes. I liked this one. It's got potential. Unfortunately, it's one of those shows that will need a few eps before it'll hit it's stride. Hopefully, Amazon will give it a go. Think FX's "The League". They need a Jenny.

"Zombieland" - Based on the movie, this show follows four survivors of the zombie apocalypse. This is not "The Walking Dead" zombie apocalypse. This one still has electricity and running water and very bad dialogue. I don't really remember the movie very well, but I think it had to have been better than this. One thing it does have going for it is the young actress playing Little Rock. She's great.

All in all, I was pretty impressed. Not only did Amazon greenlight 14 pilots at once, but they aren't pulling punches. This isn't network censored television. The rules don't apply. It sort of surprised me that every one of these pilots took advantage of bad language and some of them partial nudity. Nice to know they aren't afraid.

You need an Amazon account to watch. If you've been living under a rock and have never ordered anything from them, it'll only take a few mins to sign up.

Check out the pilots HERE and when you're done, take the survey and be heard!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I've Got a Taste for Hannibal

You thought Anthony Hopkins was skin crawlingly creepy as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, well just wait til you see Mads Mikkelsen step into those shoes. If you don't know who Hannibal Lecter is, where the hell have you been for the last 25 years? If you do, you're really going to enjoy this. Creator Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies") brings us one of the most stunningly gorgeous shows on television about one of the greatest villains ever created. "Hannibal" has one of the best pilots I've ever seen. With devastatingly beautiful imagery, suspenseful storytelling, stellar performances and a haunting score that makes me wonderfully uneasy, I can't wait for the next riveting installment.

With only two episodes broadcast, I'm hooked. The series, which is based on the characters from the Thomas Harris novels takes place before the novels and films. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy)  is not your average FBI profiler. He's got a gift ....or curse, depending on how you look at it, of empathizing with anyone. In addition to his special talent, Will Graham struggles with a developmental disorder that falls on the autism spectrum. He's not so great in social situations, but he's able to retreat into his mind to solve the most difficult cases. If you can think like a serial killer, you can catch a serial killer. It's working out so far, even if it does cause a little psychological damage. Not to worry, he can spill his guts to his new psychiatrist ....enter Dr. Lecter.

World reknowned psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter is brought on as Will's therapist. If you were getting inside the heads of highly disturbed, demented men, wouldn't you need someone to talk to? And if you did, wouldn't you want that psychiatrist to be well dressed, well spoken (albeit with a thick Danish accent), well read and have excellent table manners? Of course! But you probably wouldn't want him to be a psychopath/serial killer/cannibal. What Will doesn't know......

But we know. It was quite brilliant to show the audience Hannibal's proclivities, while no character is the wiser. Talk about a lot of table scenes. I wonder if Mads Mikkelsen realized he'd spend so much time eating on camera when he took the role. We see a lot of Hannibal cooking, eating and sharing meals. Every time he offers food to someone, I cringe. Is he feeding them human flesh? If he is, why can't they tell? Does it taste like chicken? I really don't want to know the answer to that question.

Some are adding this to the list of horror series that have been popping up, but I don't see this as horror. For me, it's really a suspenseful psychological thriller. As much as I love "The Walking Dead", TWD this is not. "Hannibal" is all about clever mind games. It's nail-biting in a different kind of way. It's a stomach twisting, arm hair raising, emotional rollercoaster ride. After catching up with the first two episodes, you'll agree that Bryan Fuller and company have risen the bar for Network television, once again.

I might need a little therapy myself, by the end of the season, but it will be worth it I'm sure.

Check out the trailer

Catch up with full episodes on NBC.com or Hulu.com

Thursdays at 10pm on NBC

OH! And Morpheus is in it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Fresh Meat" is a Must See *Hulu Plus Exclusive Series*

Remember freshman year of college? Did you ever feel like you were fresh meat for the grinder? I'm pretty sure it's a universal feeling. So did Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, creators of "Fresh Meat". When the much favored dormitory halls are full, the overflow are stuck in off campus accommodations, which is sometimes a run down old house with weirdos living in it. Such is the case for these six, bright eyed young uni students in Manchester, England (over there, they call college uni. Learn the lingo people). Not to worry, despite all the quirks, awkwardness and bed hopping, this group of scholars bond and become the best of friends.....sort of.

Meet the fresh meat.

Jack Whitehall is Jonathan "JP" Pembersley, the poshest man in the house. When he's not knee deep in his geology studies, JP enjoys attempting to seduce the ladies with his poshness, talking about how much money he has, and basically being the most arrogant a$$hole in the room. I guess that's what happens when you've got Daddy's money and no direction in life. Every now and then, JP shows his heart of gold. Of course, it's usually when there's something in it for him. That being said, he sort of grows on you.

Kimberley Nixon is pretty and proper dental student, Josie Jones. She may look like a good girl, study for her exams and say all the right things to the parents, but this chic knows how to party. She arrives at uni on a mission to be adventurous, but ties back in Wales leave her conflicted in season one. Especially considering she sleeps with more than one housemate....but you'll have to figure out which ; ) I sort of want her to be my best friend.

Joe Thomas (who you might recognize as Simon from "The Inbetweeners" if you ever watch the Brit comedies I tell you to) is Kingsley Owen aka Kings aka K-Man aka The Pussy Man. If he's not out growing his soul patch, he might be found in his room writing and playing music (if you can call it that). When Kingsley arrives at uni, he wants to impress girls so much that he even changes majors from geology to drama. Could that end any other way, but horribly embarrassing? I heart Simon....I mean Kingsley.

JP isn't the only Posh in the house. Charlotte Ritchie plays our favorite hipster wannabe Melissa "Oregon" Shawcross. When she isn't dying her hair weird colors, shopping for old hippy clothes or trying to fit in with her common housemates, this literary student lowers her self esteem by sleeping with her professor. It's really his wife that she has a crush on (but only in an intellectual way of course. but she's cool with girl on girl. you know whatever. she's cool. )

Greg McHugh plays the most unusual of housemates, Howard MacCallum. Geology is his life. No seriously. Dude doesn't leave the house unless it's to go  to class or work at the abbattoir (fancy word for slaughterhouse in case you didn't know. It's ok, I didn't know). He's socially inept and incapable of lying, especially to spare someone's feelings. He may freak you out, but you always know where you stand with Howard. Good ol' creep-o Howard.

If there is one person you don't want to mess with at Manchester Medlock University, it's Violet "Vod" Nordstrom. This girl will F you up. Vod is an English major, at least that's what her transcript says. Her extracurricular activities include shagging in the pub toilet, crashing fancy parties and getting so high that she forgets her own name. When you're looking for someone to support you as you're about to do something incredibly stupid, Vod's your girl.

Liquor is drunk, pot is smoked, and property is destroyed. Fun is had by all. It's the college experience. Ok, so it wasn't my college experience, but now I can live vicariously through these characters who are all equal parts cool and lame. Laugh til it hurts while you regret not having a crazier college experience. Is that just me?

Check out this preview of Fresh Meat

All 16 episodes of seasons 1 & 2 are  on Hulu Plus. Let the marathon begin!
(It got renewed for season 3, but who knows when we'll get it. Hopefully by early next year.)

For other hilarious Fresh Meat related content Click Here

Monday, April 1, 2013

My New Obsession is Hulu Plus (and I May Need a Support Group)

 As a devoted television fan, I watch most of my new content on the good ol' boob tube and have been discovering older series through Netflix streaming....until now. Recently, I signed up for Hulu Plus and let me tell you, it's A-Frakin'-Mazing! *Before you think to yourself, this girl must be getting paid by them, the answer is NO WAY JOSE! I'm just a TV fan whose eyes were opened.* Hulu Plus has got a handful of original series and about thirty that are exclusively streaming in the U.S. on Hulu.com (many of them British, so ya know I'm in heaven) on top of shows that are currently airing on television.  I've used the site before to catch up on things that I've forgotten to DVR, but I had no idea the extent of their collection. It's quite impressive. In addition to the plethora of television episodes, they've got movies which I hadn't realized, including the entire Criterion Collection. That's over 800 films alone!

I've spent the last couple of weeks holed up marathoning some really great series, which I'd like to share with you fine folks. Kicking it off,  Hulu's first incursion into original programming - Battleground.

This mockumentary follows the staffers of a U.S. Senate campaign in Wisconsin. Some say that mockumentaries are overdone and stale, but I think that it's become a style in its own.  It's no knock off. This show really grabbed me. Campaign manager, Tak Davis is wonderfully cast in Jay Hayden (that guy from the AT&T commercial that sees his life flash before his eyes). Tak is aided by his head of media strategy (it's complicated), speechwriter (best friend), social media specialist (jaded w/ a mean sense of humor) &  volunteers (fresh meat) and burdened with the candidate's stepson (a man stupider than Dwight Shrute). There are talking head interviews with some of the staffers as we look back to the four weeks preceding the election, with Democratic candidate Samuels as the underdog. In the course of thirteen episodes, I really connected with these characters, some of which have history and some that are beginning new relationships. The description "dramedy" is not one that I like to use, but this kinda of is. There are some very tender moments, but not to be overshadowed by the witty ones. Don't worry, no dead bodies. It's not that kind of drama. I know, it's rare for me to watch a show without corpses, but hey, gotta change it up now and then. Most of all, it felt hopeful. Obviously with a show about an election, there's a clear goal. I was rooting our rag tag team of misfits the whole way through, mostly due to the strong writing and performances. Even the score was great. As someone that doesn't get into politics all that much, I sure liked watching a show about it and can't wait for season two (fingers crossed they get one).  I highly recommend Hulu's first Original Series - Battleground.

Check out the Trailer.

Watch all thirteen episodes on Hulu Plus. They offer one free week to try it out. If you're still not sure, just wait until I tell you about the other shows I've been watching on Hulu Plus.

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Vikings Are Here!

I'd been seeing billboards all over Los Angeles, but they were tagged History Channel. I figured that "Vikings" was a documentary series on violent Scandinavians that was getting a big marketing push. After Hatfields & McCoys, how could I be so silly? History Channel has been venturing into original programming and this latest endeavor is pretty spectacular if you ask me. And I've only seen two episodes!

Michael Hirst, the co-regent of period drama alongside Andrew Davies, is the mastermind behind this historical drama. If you liked his other series "The Tudors" and Starz's "Camelot", "Vikings" is in the same vein. The nine part series (hopefully season one of many) follows the ambitious farmer/warrior Ragnar Lothbrok as he journeys towards greatness. But...you know, viking greatness which among other things includes killing, stealing and kidnapping. Hey, if it makes for great drama, I'm in!

"Vikings" definitely does make for great drama. From the captivating opening credits, through the action and into the tender family moments, the storytelling is stellar. After only the first two episodes (ok, after 20 mins) I am completely enthralled and already disappointed that there are only nine episodes to look forward to.

Ok, down to the nuts and bolts. What else besides an exciting story makes this series worth watching?

The opening credits are stunning. See, I've already mentioned them twice. Gorgeous images accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful song "If I Had a Heart" by Fever Ray. No surprise as to the quality if you look back at the intros to "The Tudors" and "Camelot". Hirst obviously appreciates the value that masterfully made titles add to a series. Director Rama Allen created a memorable sequence that has quickly become one of my favorites.  Watch the Vikings Intro

Sublimely shot by veteran cinematographer John S. Bartley (ASC), it makes me actually want to visit this seemingly savage and harsh place. Although, the story takes place in the Nordic region, the series is shot in Ireland. Apparently, the go to place for period and fantasy genre productions these days.

The production design, art direction, costumes, make-up and ESPECIALLY the hair is amazing. Who knew that there was a dude out there that could pull off a mohawk/mullet braid?

Speaking of...once again Hirst went to casting directors extraordinaire Frank & Nuala Moiselle. For their Norse hero, they found Travis Fimmel, a relatively unknown Australian actor. I don't know if it's accurate, but I love his viking accent. I have a feeling that this role will take him places. He really embodies this warrior who madly loves his wife, is a good father and is destined to be a leader. That is, if he's strong enough to go head to head with the Earl of his tribe played by the brilliant Gabriel Byrne. I've always liked him, but after watching "In Treatment", I would watch that man read a newspaper. I can't wait to see what he does with a villain.

I don't really know anything about this time period or these people. Obviously, this is television series and they will take creative liberties. If you want complete accuracy, go watch a documentary. Sometimes history needs a little doctoring to be entertaining enough to keep you coming back every week. I love it when I'm inspired to do some research of my own to see if what I'm watching really happened. To find out the other side's story. To put it into context. Historical dramas engage me, particularly when they are so beautifully produced.

Check out this cool infographic on History.com about Viking Gods & Mythology

So the lesson for today? Watch "Vikings" on History Channel (formerly that Nazi documentary channel) Sundays at 10pm. You'll thank me later.

Only 2 episodes have been broadcast, but you can watch the first three on History.com or on Hulu.com.

Happy Viewing!

The Following is Fan-Flippin'-Tastic! You Should Be Watching

Hands down, my favorite new show of the winter season is "The Following" starring Mr. Kevin Bacon himself. Why should I watch, you might ask. I'll tell you. Week after week (there have been 8 so far) I am on the edge of my seat. "The Following" has the intensity and suspense of "24" and the deranged, albeit brilliant writing chops of "Luther". This psychological thriller was created by Kevin Williamson. Yes..... "Dawson's Creek" Kevin Williamson, but remember he did the Scream movies too. Trust me, this is no "Dawson's Creek". In a time of DVRs, online streaming and next day viewing, this is one to watch live.

Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, the former FBI agent that took down Professor and serial killer Joe Carroll. His specialty? The macabre writings of Edgar Allan Poe of course. During his years in prison, Joe has acquired followers, equally damaged and demented people that want.... no, need to kill. You might think, it must be hard to recruit cult members from inside a prison cell. Apparently, if you are charming and seductive enough........ and have a sexy British accent, it can be done. Knowing that these soldiers are out there killing on his behalf almost seems as satisfying to Joe as committing the murders himself. But to a man that is passionate about death, how long can that last? Well, we're only in the beginning stages of a grand plan. And yes, I can see this going on many exciting seasons. I mean come on, no one thought "24" last as long as it did and there at least 4-5 (debatably) really good seasons.

When the followers are set in motion, Hardy is brought back to the FBI as a consultant to connect Carroll to the crimes and stop them. He's teamed with cult expert Debra Parker and a keen young agent that's read everything there is to know on the Joe Carroll case, including Hardy's tell-all.

Ryan Hardy's involvement with the original investigation was complicated.  He's obviously been destroyed by it mentally, physically and emotionally. Ryan's deep connection to Joe's wife Claire (Natalie Zea) during the trial  led to a brief affair. Despite the love between them, Ryan knew that he'd be a reminder of the monster in their family and ended things. After Ryan left and with her husband incarcerated, Claire was left to raise young Joey Jr. alone.

Or was she? Joe has followers everywhere, especially watching over his beloved family. With each episode, we see a little more of how big this network of psychopaths really is. They seem like you and me. Normal....but they're not. They've been lying in wait. Some of them, for years. And now the plan is unfolding. I'll watch through my fingers covering my face, but I have to know what happens. It's gruesome. It's shocking. It's thrilling. It's heart-poundingly great television. I guarantee at least one gasp every episode.

I watch so much on cable and premium channels these days. It's great to see that a Network will air something that pushes the envelope a little. The places this show goes, it doesn't feel like a Network playing it safe. So, it's not for you if you're looking for another "NCIS", but you probably figured that out by now.

Please accept my sincerest of apologies for not telling you about how amazing this show is from the very first week. I knew it then. Seriously, watch it! After the pilot, you'll be hooked. Or completely disgusted and never read this blog again.

You can catch up from the beginning on Hulu Plus. Fox.com and OnDemand only post the last few episodes. Boo on them : (

Mondays at 9pm on Fox

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Mini-Series - Of the Fantasy Variety

Continuing on with my mini-series obsession, I thought I'd share some of my favorites in the fantasy genre. I have to say, SyFy's original mini-series are their best content (with the exception of Battlestar Galactica, obviously. But hey, that started off as a mini-series so there you go!). Of course incredible production value is part of the reason I love them, but it's also because they are reimagined stories. Characters you know, but with a twist on a classic tale. So without further adieu....

Neverland (2011) - Written and directed by Nick Willing, Neverland is sort of like a prequel to the well known story of Peter Pan. Back before Hook was "Hook" and Peter was "The Pan", they were pals pickpocketing the streets of London. When Jimmy Hook's crew of rambunctious young boys tries to burgle a jewelry store, they find a magic orb that when struck, sends everyone in its vicinity to an unknown land. This far off place is inhabited by pirates, Indians and even a crocodile with a few too many legs. The boys are aided by the tribe of Indians or Native Americans since I'm writing this in 2013. Young Charlie Rowe excellently plays the orphaned Peter who was saved from the retched workhouse by his not always benevolent guardian.  Jimmy (Rhys Ifans) falls in with the pirate crowd whose Captain is Elizabeth Bonny, one badass lady pirate played by Anna Friel ("Pushing Daisies" and Public Enemies). You may recognize Mr. Smee since Bob Hoskins played the part in another reimagined Pan tale - Hook (love that movie!). Everyone wants to get home, but good ol' Jimmy Hook doesn't want to leave without a little loot. Particularly the mineral dust that comes from the tree spirits, which gives the power of flight. Capt'n Bonny has and would kill again for such power. Peter, being the upstanding pickpocket that he is, decides to stop Jimmy and save the tree spirits. With the tribe backing him and some fairy dust coursing through his body, Peter takes on Jimmy. You can probably guess what happens. My only problem with this reimagining is that Tinkerbell is very unattractive. She is voiced by Keira Knightly, but another actress did all the green screen work. The final result is a woman covered in silver body paint and slicked back hair so that she nearly looks bald. It's not a good look. That being said, you should still check it out. Neverland itself is full of beautiful landscapes and intricate details. The costuming for multiple time periods is ornate and downright lovely. It's a fun adventure story in the spirit of Peter Pan.
You can stream on Netflix. Click here for a preview

Alice (2009) - Writer/Director Nick Willing already had some experience with Wonderland by the time he took on this reimagining of the famous Lewis Carroll story. Back in 1999, he'd directed a more traditional take on Alice's journey for NBC that garnered four Primetime Emmy Awards. In this iteration, Alice is a grown woman, a judo sensei who spends her time searching for her father that disappeared when she was ten years old. When Alice follows Jack, the man she's been dating to return a ring she wasn't ready for, she's magically transported into another world. A very vertical world where the people she encounters believe she is "Alice of Legend" returned to Wonderland 150 years after bringing down the House of Cards. In her attempt to get home, Alice encounters a tea shop owner with quite the fashion sense, called Hatter. Marvelously played by Andrew Lee Potts, Hatter has his own agenda, yet is drawn to Alice and helping her find her way. Turns out that this too soon engagement ring is actually the key to the looking glass. The Queen of Hearts has been desperate to find it and will lop off anyone's head that is in her way. She sends her best (yet recently dead) assassin, Mad March after Alice. Kathy Bates is devilishly good as the Queen as is Colm Meaney as her constantly doting King. Alice and Hatter meet many interesting characters along the way. Pretty much everyone you'd expect from the story makes an appearance in one way or another. I like that this classic children's tale is updated and twisted. It feels more relevant and therefore more entertaining....at least to me. Well maybe not just me. It was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards and won a slew of others. My favorite part by far was Andrew Lee Potts as Hatter, but a close second was Matt Frewer as Charlie, the only remaining White Knight. Both gave wonderfully quirky performances. Check out all the classic characters by streaming Alice on Netflix. Click here for a preview

Tin Man (2007) - You're probably tired of hearing about Nick Welling, but I promise this is the last time. Directed by Nick Welling and written by Steven Long Mitchell & Craig Van Sickle (the team behind "The Pretender" - love that show!) this mini series is a reimagining (another word you're probably tired of) of The Wizard of Oz. The ever adorable Zooey Deschanel is DG, a small town waitress who never quite felt at home in Kansas. DG has been having reoccurring dreams of a beautiful, lavender eyed woman telling her that storm is coming. A storm comes alright, but it's no ordinary tornado. It's a travel storm sent by the evil Queen Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) for her Longcoat soldiers to journey through and kill DG. Fortunately, DG escapes by way of the storm and ends up in the O.Z. or the Outer Zone. It's here that she meets up with some wacky locals - Glitch (Alan Cumming), a former royal advisor has had half his brain removed under Azkadellia's reign. Raw (Raoul Trujillo) is a psychic empath whose people have been enslaved and Wyatt Cain, played by my favorite bottle blond Neal McDonough. Cain is a former Tin Man aka OZ cop whose family was killed after his opposing Azkadellia's rule. Sealed in an iron suit, Cain was forced to watch his family die over and over again on a loop.  Together, this rag tag group of sad weirdos unearth the truth about DG's hidden past and fight to overthrow Azkadellia. As was the case with Alice, all the major characters make an appearance in some form. The production value is stunning. Gorgeous art direction and costuming. Out of the nine, Primetime Emmy nominations, Tin Man won for Outstanding Make-Up. If you ask me, this adaptation was much more exciting and adventurous than the L. Frank Baum classic. Then again, it was great material to work from. Follow the yellow brick road by streaming on Netflix. Click here for a preview

What do you think should be the next classic tale to be reimagined?

P.S. Netflix does not pay me to promote them. I'm just a streaming addict on a budget. If you've ever marathoned an entire TV season on Netflix, you know.....it's just like crack, only better. Or so I'm told.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Love TV, But Short on Time? Try a British Mini-Series!

Just one of the many things I love about British television is that they embrace the mini-series, but not the kind that we're used to. Across the pond, they cut theirs down to one hour episodes. Sometimes on consecutive nights, sometimes once a week as any other series, but with the intention of one season.

I guess my love affair with television series' sprung out of my adoration of the mini-series as a longer form of storytelling. Remember when the networks would air sweeping epics over three nights? The British sure are talented at packing in a ton of information into each one hour episode. By the end, I feel like I've spent several seasons with these characters....but it's only been a few hours and it doesn't feel rushed. So if you are in the market for some great storytelling and don't have the time to invest in multiple 22 episode seasons, here are some recommendations for British mini-series/short self contained seasons.

Criminal Justice (2008) - You may know him as Q from Skyfall or recognize him from Cloud Atlas or even know him as Freddie Lyon of "The Hour", but Ben Whishaw's breakthrough performance was in season one of Criminal Justice. This five episode season follows a young man through Britain's criminal justice system. Whishaw's Ben Coulter spends a drunken evening with a pretty girl he meets, but wakes up in the middle of the night to find her stabbed to death. He can't remember what happened. Of course, all evidence points to him and he's arrested. A solicitor named Stone believes that Ben is innocent or at least that the case is not as straight forward as the evidence seems. This unsophisticated, schlubby, solicitor (lawyer) who wears bandages around his feet with flip flops because of chronic eczema is wonderfully portrayed by Con O'Neill. Another highlight of this series is the relationship between Ben and his cellmate, an older gentleman who's been behind bars for quite a while and knows the ropes. Hooch as he's known inside, is a listener, which from what I gather means that he gets a few perks for being an unqualified psychiatrist to other inmates. He is brilliantly played by the late Pete Postlethwaite. Oh and keep a look out for "Homeland" CIA head honcho as king of the cell block. This one has my highest recommendation. Stream all five episodes on Netflix. Here's a taste - Criminal Justice Promo

Public Enemies (2012) - Anna Friel ("Pushing Daisies" and Land of the Lost) and Daniel Mays (tons of Brit stuff you've probably never heard of) play Paula and Eddie, probation officer and newly released criminal. Eddie served ten years for the murder of his girlfriend and is now trying to get his life back, only the past and his reputation are making that pretty difficult to do. Paula gave her last parolee the benefit of the doubt and he killed again, leaving her career in shambles. She puts it all on the line to help Eddie when he confesses that he was innocent all along. Friel and Mays have incredible on-screen chemistry. In three short one-hour episodes Mays impresses with the portrayal of a boy, not yet a man trying to begin again. Paula and Eddie's relationship is complicated and messy, which is why it's so damn compelling to watch. Five stars. Stream all three eps on Netflix. Here's a sneak peak - Public Enemies Promo

The Silence (2010) - Genevieve Barr gives a breakout performance as 18 year old Amelia, a deaf girl that witnesses a murder and becomes entangled in her uncle's mission to expose police corruption. Amelia has recently had a cochlear implant and is feeling very pressured to integrate with the hearing world. She starts staying at her Uncle's house in Bristol during the week to avoid all the travel back and forth from the burbs for her speech therapy. While DCI Uncle Jim (Douglas Henshall) is spending every waking hour investigating murders at the cost of his home life, Amelia witnesses one of her own. With Amelia's help, he ties it to a drug related killing and uncovers evidence that his colleagues in the drug squad are dirty cops. It's up to him to uncover the whole truth before they get to Amelia. Props to Fiona Seres for writing a deaf leading character and Dearbhla Walsh for casting a deaf actor. Amelia's struggle with whether or not she wants to be part of the hearing world was just as prominent as the crime, beautifully portrayed by Barr who was born deaf, but had to learn sign language for the role. These four one-hour eps fly by. The action and suspense will keep you pressing play until you've shot four hours of your day, but definitely not wasted. Two ecstatic thumbs up. Stream it on Netflix. This promo doesn't nearly do it justice, but take a gander - The Silence Promo

Prisoners Wives (2012) - You can probably guess what this show is about by the title. Gemma, Francesca, Lou and Harriet all share one thing in common. The men in their lives are serving time behind bars at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Gemma is severely preggers when her husband is arrested for murder. She's shown the ropes by Francesca, a glammed up middle aged woman that dresses like a slutty teenager. Her man (Iain Glen) is on year six of an 18 year stretch for drug trafficking. You might recognize him as Sir Jorah from "Game of Thrones" or Sir Richard Carlisle on "Downton Abbey". This dude likes to be called Sir a lot..... and he's in contention for The Hardest Working Actor in Britain Award. Lou is a mum that deals drugs to support her kid, but her baby's daddy is doing her time. Not sure you could ask for a more supportive boyfriend. She probably can't ever ask him to take the trash out again, though. Harriet is a widow who turned her teenage son into the police when she suspected him of planning a killing spree. Over six 47 min episodes we watch these women deal with their circumstances and even bond over them. Can you still have a relationship when you only see your man two hours a week and have to be strip searched to do so? Season 2 is in the works, but from what I can tell, it will be a whole new cast of wives. Oh and it has a great opening credits including the music. I'm a sucker for good opening credits. Streaming on Netflix. Check out the trailer - Prisoners Wives Promo

Inside Men (2012) - If you're a fan of "Luther", you'll love "Inside Men". Warren Brown and Steven Mackintosh of the critically acclaimed and award winning series are joined by Ashley Walters in this high stakes drama about three cash depot employees that plan a multi-million pound heist. The series jumps back in forth in time to different points in the plan. Sometimes irritating, but mostly, it keeps you guessing as to who's all in and who's about to break. Brown, Mackintosh and Walters do not disappoint when it comes to intense, pressure filled scenes that fuel each episode. Keeping a long term caper on track would be difficult for any trio of thieves, but throw in one newly adopted daughter, a crazy wife and a pregnant girlfriend and there are bound to be hiccups. DVD on Netflix or stream all four episodes on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99 each. Take a look - Inside Men Promo

I hope this helps the next time you've got a rainy day with nothing to do or if you just love television (particularly British television) as much as I do.

Any mini-series to add to this list? Disagree? All thoughts welcome. Just leave a comment below.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ten Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite TV Fanatic

It's that magical time of year again when we buy stuff for each other to prove how much we care. Here are some fun gifts for TV lovers that have the exact same taste that I do!

"Archer" - ISIS Business Card Case - $17.95
Want people to know you're a super awesome, super secret agent without giving away national secrets? Then you need the ISIS Business Card Case. Be sure to keep it stocked for all your networking events. You never know when you'll need to slip your number to the hottie at the bar/fellow clandestine operative.

"Dexter" - Glass Coasters (set of 6) - $23.99
If you're anything like Dexter Morgan, you hate messes. Keep the water rings off your tables with these super cool blood spatter glass coasters complete with trophy case. Great for Dexter viewing parties and conversation starters for when Grandma visits.
 "Falling Skies" - 2nd Mass Water Bottle - $19.95
You sure can get thirsty when you're hiking down the East Coast after the alien invasion or even around Runyon Canyon. Show your support for the resistance by drinking all your beverages from the official 2nd Mass Water Bottle.

"Game of Thrones" - Sword Letter Opener - $19.99
Open your mail in style, whether you're the King of the North or a banished Targaryen Princess. Also comes in handy if you're attacked by a Lannister in your study. Always be prepared.

"The IT Crowd" - T-Shirt - $21.99
The only item on this list from a show not currently on the air, but hey, I just discovered it this year. So many great quote t-shirts. Others favorites on Cafe Press include "Memory IS RAM", "Have you tried turning it off and on again?", "I came here to drink milk and kick ass, and I just finished my milk". Nothing clever here, just a plug for this hilarious British show that is streaming on Netflix and other places I'm sure. My best discovery of the year.

"Nashville" - Original Soundtrack - $12.98 
*Released on Dec. 11th
Enjoying this show was the biggest shocker of the year for me. You couldn't pay me a million dollars to listen to twangy country music, but there is something brilliant in the music of T-Bone Burnett that attracts even the biggest of country haters. Beautiful songs by all contributors.

"Parks & Rec" - Lil' Sebastian Plush - $19.00
If you're still grieving the loss of Pawnee's favorite pony, remember him with this plush toy. Almost life size!
"Sherlock" - I AM SHERLOCKED iPhone Case - $15.00
Not only am I Sherlocked, much like Irene Adler, but I'm Cumberbatched. We, in the States may have to wait til 2014 for the next installment, but don't you want a daily reminder? To show your devotion to the surly sleuth from the other side of the pond, you'd encase your device with no other, obviously. 
"Sons of Anarchy" - Reaper Crew Hoodie - $59.95
Ok, so maybe you can't pull off walking around town wearing a cut, but you can still look like a Son with one of these awesome Reaper Crew Hoodies....just like Jax wears ; ) Start bleaching your sneakers and dig out that old bandana, you're SAMCRO now!
"The Walking Dead" - T-Shirt - $27.99
Who wouldn't take advice from Daryl Dixon during the zombie apocalypse? All the men want to be him. All the ladies want to clean his crossbow. If you want to survive a herd of walkers, Keep Calm and Carry a Crossbow. Check out all the great T-Shirts like, "Walker Bait", "What Would Daryl Dixon Do?", and "Where's Merle?". 

***BONUS*** A free gift for you just for playing along.
Downton Abbey Paper Dolls! 
You may have seen these already, but I just found them the other day. Print out for hours of fun with the Dowager Countess, Ladies Sybil & Mary, Matthew Crawley, O'Brien and that bastard Thomas. Reenact scenes from seasons one and two while we anxiously await the January premiere of season three!
Wait....was that Mr. Pamuk?

Feel free to add your suggestions.

Happy Holidays!