Archive | September, 2011

Starlette : Chapter Six, “On Location” Now Available!

21 Sep

Chapter six of Starlette is now available on Kindle and Nook!

In this chapter, Starlette and her co-stars head outside of their regular shooting are in order to track down and interrogate a Bookworm minion.

 

Only seven chapters to go after this one!

 

Amazon:
Starlette : Chapter Six, “On Location”
 

Barnes and Noble:
Starlette : Chapter Six, “On Location”

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The CW’s Thursday Night… No Longer Must-See TV

19 Sep

A couple of years ago, the CW’s Thursday night was a lot of fun. Smallville wasn’t exactly deep and meaningful but it was usually an enjoyable way to spend an hour. Then there’s Supernatural which is just awesome. Complex storylines, great character development, dark, gritty… It’s a grownup show on the CW, though based on some websites I’ve seen, it seems like people can enjoy it without being into deep discussions on theology, mythology and folklore. Either way, Thursday was a day to look forward to.

Now… Not so  much.

I won’t review the entire Vampire Diaries series to date. It’s pretty much the normal story about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, has a best friend who is a witch, etc. Kinda like Buffy but without the texture that made Buffy fun. See, Buffy was ultimately a spoof. We bought the reality in the series because the show didn’t take itself too seriously. You laughed more than you cried. Beneath that, there were metaphors and there was depth. When the show went deep with episodes like The Body you felt it.

Now, I watch a lot of TV shows. I have a list of shows that I think are actually good (Supernatural, Fringe, Chuck, Community, Raising Hope… and a few more) and then a longer list of shows that I watch which I wouldn’t really say are “good”. They’re more like filler for me. Something to do when I don’t have anything better to do. I think that there’s something to be learned from the writing of shows like that, just as much as there is to learn from shows that are brilliant. How many of us sit back and think “If I were writing that…”? So I won’t defend my decision to watch anymore. I’ll just move on to my thoughts…

Last week, The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle premiered. I didn’t have high hopes or expectations. I went in just wanting to be entertained for a while (DVRed them, since I have some Supernatural DVDs to watch).

With that said, I think that The Vampire Diaries went a bit far. See, I like dark shows. I think Dexter  is one of the better written shows on TV. I enjoy the darkness and the struggle on Being Human (US version since I haven’t seen the UK version… judge me all you want for that). But putting aside most of the story, two things stuck out the most for me on The Vampire Diaries.

First, Damon’s “girlfriend”, Andie. She went out with him last season and when she found out that he was a vampire, she ran screaming. He compelled her (using mind control that they do on the show) to not only remain silent about the vampires in town, but to be okay with what he is. He took away her ability to leave and in doing so, he took away her ability to decide that she didn’t want to be there. She could no longer say “no.” That does not sit right with me.

Secondly, in the episode, Elana discovers that her broody vampire boyfriend has been leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake all summer long. The episode ends with her talking to him on the phone, telling him that it will be okay. Umm… murderous monster killing a lot of people here. How is that okay? He didn’t misplace his iphone. We’re not talking about him forgetting to get her a birthday present. He kills people. Literally rips them apart and puts them back together…

Maybe I’m just showing my age here, but when that happened on Buffy the heroes on the show usually tried to kill the vampire. At the very least, they could try frowning upon it.

There is some talent on the show. I’m not bashing the actors here (I’d probably watch for one or two of the actresses alone). I think that the writers have gotten so lost in their broody scowls and romantic triangles, they’ve lost track of the little things like rape and murder. Because of this, I can’t relate to anyone on the show and I really can’t care about any of them. There’s no weight to the story. When a major character died at the end of last season, it wasn’t a “Jenny Calendar” moment that haunts you long after its over. It was… forgettable.

When the show makes the issues matter, perhaps there will be more to connect with. When the vampire hunter on the show stops drinking with the vampires and starts preventing them from killing people, maybe my opinion of the show will improve. Until then, The Vampire Diaries isn’t only fluff and filler, but I have to think that’s it’s doing some amount of harm to impressionable youths who are told to relate to these characters and sympathize with them. “Who will Elana choose” shouldn’t be as important as “Which vampire’s crimes are worse?” or “Who should they stake first?”

I think I’ve covered all that I need to cover.

 

Now, The Secret Circle.

Honestly, I liked this one better when it was called The Craft. The plots are similar. A girl’s deceased mother was a witch, so the girl is naturally powerful. She moves to a new town where she falls in with a group of other witches who teach her how to be one of them. In this case, there are a couple of guys included in the coven. All of the female characters are pretty much cut from the same cloth as the characters from The Craft. At times, it seemed like they were even trying to channel those other actors, especially when it came to the bad girl, played by Pheobe Tonkin. There’s just no escaping the fact that Fairuza Balk did it better. In fact, I’d say that if anything, The Secret Circle made me want to watch The Craft again. And come to think of it, a series with that tone and the sort of creepy intensity of those characters from the film could be really interesting.

Great, now I want to see the original cast of The Craft back for a sequel… also, wouldn’t Fairuza Balk be an awesome Livewire in a Superman movie? (sorry, sidetracked)

The Secret Circle really doesn’t captivate. There’s not much to talk about with it. I liked Thomas Dekker was cool on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I think that this is kind of a step backward for him.

The New Season Begins with Murder and Intrigue

17 Sep

If you’re anything like me, you spend the summer suffering from withdrawal symptoms like… I don’t know… going places and getting stuff done. It’s just not the natural order of things. My life should be spent in front of the TV, not being productive.

I admit, my views might be a little skewed. I am a TV junky and I freely admit that. I routinely watch shows that I don’t even like, just for the sake of zoning out for a while.

Now that the new TV season is starting, I’m like a kid at Christmas. Supernatural, Chuck, Fringe! I can’t wait for Friday nights. But before those shows premiere, there are a slew of fresh new shows debuting this season. I’ve seen a couple of them now and I will talk about them here.

 

First up is Revenge. This new series airs on ABC and stars Emily VanCamp as a woman named Amanda whose father was set up for a crime in the 90’s and sent to prison where he eventually died. Now, Amanda takes on a new identity and moves to the Hamptons where she plots to take down all of the wealthy types who ruined her family. I read the pilot script, which ABC made available on the Kindle and then I watched the pilot which they gave access to at the end of that script. Though things changed between script and screen and will change more for the final version of the pilot, I think that it’s fair to say that I have a pretty good idea what the series will be.

The cast is solid. For some reason, I just like Emily VanCamp in whatever she does. I don’t know why. The show also stars Madeleine Stowe who seemed to disappear from my TV screen for many years, and Nick Wechsler who I remember most from Roswell. Yes, I know, there is a big impressive cast around these people, but those are the standouts for me. I’m not entirely sold on Conner Paolo as the bad boy brother to Nick Wechsler’s character, but we’ll see.

I can’t speak much for the plot. I think that the pilot might have jumped to dessert before the main course when they showed us Labor Day weekend and then went back to before Memorial Day to start the series. I get why they did it, but I don’t think they needed it. Other than that, the pilot was enjoyable enough to make me watch the second episode when it airs (or several days after it airs, while I’m looking for something to fill my time) but they need to carefully control the intrigue and not go off in weird directions that just turn the show into Melrose Place.

 

The second series I’ll talk about is Ringer. The classical plotting and manipulation seems to be in this season. This series attempts to take some of the flavor from the Hitchcockian thrillers as well as the noir classics. I’m not sure that they fully succeed in either. Their ode to Hitchcock, with the bad CG background in the boat scene was a fail in my opinion. It just distracted and was not done well. Surely they could have made that look more natural, and I hope that they ditch the super blurry look whenever the twins are on screen together. The trick is to make us not notice that it’s the same actress playing both roles… Don’t draw attention to that by making it super stylized!

They didn’t capture the noir tone exactly either. A show that did this really well was Veronica Mars. On that show, you can see the heavy noir influence in the set design, the lighting and the camera angles. Now, this does not mean that Ringer was a failure all around. I’m just saying that their visuals need to be cleaned up as the series goes on. Decide what the look of the show is, and stick to it.

Plot-wise, the show has some interesting ideas to play with. It’s something that will need to develop over many weeks, so as with Revenge it’s hard for me to say how good or bad the series is from the pilot. There is a lot going on. Bridget is a recovering addict who used to strip and somehow seems to have allowed her sister’s child to die, causing a rift between the two. Bridget witnesses a crime committed by a super bad guy and is put into witness protection, but skips town to go boating with her estranged sister, Siobhan. Siobhan is the wealthy one who seems to have it all, except she vanishes from the boat and Bridget takes over her life, soon learning that her sister’s life was possibly even more messed up than her own.

Honestly, I could have used a little more easing into Bridget deciding to take over her sister’s life. It seemed a little odd to me, even with her circumstances. Maybe there were time issues or something, but I think they could have cut the drug addicted troubled teenage daughter from the pilot, bumped her back to episode 2 and explained how you get to a point where you pretend to be your supposedly dead sister.

There’s a great cast. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nestor Carbonell,Ioan Gruffudd, Kristoffer Polaha, and Mike Colter all deliver fine performances, as do the supporting players. If the series can build on the mysteries and the thriller aspects, it could be really enjoyable. However, the show could easily pull the Melrose Place spin of death, so it needs to be as careful as Revenge does.

It is nice to see a grownup show on the CW, besides Supernatural.

Of the two, I would say that Revenge might have had the tighter pilot. However, Ringer gave me more of a glimpse at what sorts of twists and turns we can expect without actually showing me the end of the season within the first five minutes. (though I expect there to be a twist of some sort which makes the glimpse that we saw in Revenge into something else entirely)

Did I need a thousand words to say all of that? Probably not.

 

Starlette Google Groups (Free Chapters!)

15 Sep

For a limited time, I am going to be offering the first three chapters of Starlette for free to those who join the Starlette Google group. Click the link below and you’ll be taken to the site. Once there, you should see a posting about the free chapters.

 

Enjoy!

(and if you happen to feel like posting reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Good Reads, that’d be cool too)

Discussions – Starlette Novel | Google Groups.

 

 

Chapter Five is now available!

8 Sep

The fifth chapter of “Starlette” has been released (see links below) Take a gander at “The Golden Age” and let me know what you think whenever you get a chance. It was a fun episode to write and I think that (at least for me) it really shows why this story works best in this format than it would in a normal novel format.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that.

I’m hoping to pick up more blogging in the days to come. Not just about Starlette and my other works, but general ramblings about television shows, movies and whatnot. I’m a TV junky, so I’m sure that there will be plenty to talk about once the new season starts.

Okay, now go check out chapter five… now.

Amazon
Starlette : Chapter Five, “The Golden Age”

Barnes and Noble
Starlette : Chapter Five, “The Golden Age”