Leslie's Favorite Television of 2013: Robots, Clones, Superheroes & Crazy Vampires

There is something about 2013 entertainment in general that has me feeling a little down. Looking back on the year of television, movies, video games and even books, I’m having a hard time truly getting that excited about much that I consumed. So instead of a favorites list, here is part one of my random thoughts about the best (and not so great) of 2013.

Favorite New Show: Almost Human

I will admit that the most recent episodes have had some issues, particularly when it comes to portraying females, but this is still the most fun I’ve had with a new show in quite some time. The relationship between Karl Urban’s Kennex and Michael Ealy’s Dorian holds the show up even when the gender politics start becoming a little uncomfortable and plot lines get a little silly. I hope this series catches on and the writers can find their feet because this has the potential to become a really fun science fiction escape. Plus Urban on my television every week will never get old.

Favorite New Show Not Involving Robots: Orphan Black


What is Tatiana Maslany? It’s a rare talent to play so many characters and have the ability to make them all unique and identifiable at a glance. Just with a shift of posture and a subtle change of expression and she becomes a different clone. From beginning to end, this science fiction clone show is phenomenal and more people should be watching it. The second season begins in April and it can’t come soon enough. What other show will you see someone dancing in a laser-filled club while waving a man’s tale around in the air?

Most Anticipated Weekly Watch: Arrow


What has happened to Arrow? When did it become so awesome? Building out the world to include the League of Assassins, Barry Allen and assorted DC villains and heroes has worked well for the series and Oliver’s task of protecting the city while following a new moral code have been fascinating to watch. After the midseason finale, I can’t wait to see what the second half of the second season has in store and hope that the awesomeness can continue.

Show Most Likely to Have No Idea What It’s Doing: The Vampire Diaries


Don’t even ask me to tell you what’s going on this season. It’s a jumbled mess of crazy, and not necessarily the good kind of crazy either. New characters are introduced and disappear a few episodes later. Entire plot lines come and go without much effect on the rest of the story. Character development gets thrown in the trash when it’s convenient to the story, so everyone seems to be working multiple personalities. I continue to watch, but it’s no longer a must-watch-day-of type of show. (True Blood was a close second choice for this one for all the same reasons - what is up with these vampire shows?)

Most Surprisingly Awesome Import: The Returned


Zombies that aren’t zombies in a French import with subtitles? The hype was well deserved for this 8 hour mini-series. It’s French, so it’s left wide open and nothing is really spoon fed to you as far as explanations go. It makes the entire thing a little more creepy and haunting. This isn’t your standard American zombie gorefest, but something far more subtle that is way more frightening.

Show that Won Us Over After a Second Chance: New Girl


This was actually my Most Disappointing Show for 2011. The slow motion chicken dance in the third or fourth episode was far too twee for my taste. After many people recommended it to us, we gave it a second try. Zooey Deschunal is still too quirky for the sake of being quirky, but the rest of the show turned out to be pretty fun.

 

What shows were your favorites in 2013? I'm always open to new awesome!

Leslie's Top Television Shows of 2012 (part 2)

Yesterday I gave out a series of “rewards” for television shows that caught my eye either for good or bad reasons in 2012. Today you get my list of favorite shows for the year. Putting this list together was kind of hard as my go-tos like Supernatural and Glee became a bit of a mess last year while others like Chuck ended. So here is my shortened list of favorite shows from 2012.

Favorite Shows of 2012

These are my sad crazy eyes.The Vampire Diaries

Despite all the melodrama, I am addicted. Elena becomes much more interesting with Damon while Stefan becomes more interesting when he’s inadvertently doing stupid things for “the greater good”. It’s not high class television, but it’s fun and has become the show I most look forward to each week. There is plenty of snark and if I don’t think too hard, the relationships are intriguing to watch unfold. But mostly I watch for Damon. Because he has crazy eyes, snarky one-liners and an inclination to lose his shirt. And I'm still not sure how Matt is still alive. He's like the only human one left!

Sometimes Sherlock forgets to dress before visiting the palace.Sherlock

Oh, Benedict Cumberbatch, I can’t tell what you’re saying half the time, but you’re fascinating to watch run away yammering about this and that. “A Scandal in Belgravia” had a few moments that I wish had been done differently and I didn’t understand why Irene Adler had to be a dominatrix, but the following two episodes more than made up for it. My head still can’t wrap around “The Reichenbach Fall” and no matter how many times I watch it, I have absolutely no idea what has happened. Fernando might be awaiting the return of A Game of Thrones, but I’m eagerly anticipating Sherlock running around in new adventures. Whenever that happens.

Misfits

This was an accidental discovery. I’d heard the show mentioned in passing before and knew it was a British show about delinquents who somehow get superpowers. When I saw that it was finally airing on American television, we added it to our DVR to try out. I was not expecting the crazy bizarre show that followed, full of raunchy comedy and wrongness and absolute hilarity. Yet at the same time the show had its own weird emotional resonance that made it addicting. We’ve only seen the first two seasons and I’m itching to get my hands on the others. This is probably the most fun show I’ve watched all year (except maybe for Super Hero Squad).

Revolution

Sword fights! Old-timey soldiers in the future! A badass secretive uncle! Mysterious necklaces that could have come straight out of Lost! Revolution had so much going for it that I was afraid that it would fall apart after just a few episodes, but it hasn’t. Despite it mostly being about trekking through the overgrown remnants of the United States, it still manages to stay at a consistence pacing. Plus we play this fun game called “Lost or Supernatural” where we try to guess where each of the side and supporting characters have been before. Because with Kripke and Abrams behind this show, familiar faces are bound to show up pretty often.

Arrow

Yesterday I mentioned that Arrow was the biggest surprise of all the new shows in 2012. It could have been horrible, cheesy and a complete trainwreck. Oliver Queen and Green Arrow aren’t exactly pop culture icons like many other superheroes and Ollie has a pretty ridiculous amount of facial hair in the comics, so I was pleasantly surprised that the CW created a show that made Green Arrow almost seem possible. It’s fun, adventurous and though some of the characters can get kind of annoying (*coughthesistercough*), I really look forward to seeing how this first season plays out with the growing conspiracy unfolding and what future seasons hold for Ollie.

He's kind of my favorite.Young Justice

And finally I had to include a cartoon. You might have been expecting Super Hero Squad, but despite how much I love that show, I don’t think there’s much of a chance for a continuation. Plus it’s Marvel when my heart sits firmly in the DC camp. Young Justice combines my favorite superheroes with my weakness for teen superheroes and somehow put together a serialized story of shapeshifters and alien invasion. Though a time jump that came from seemingly out of nowhere was a little baffling, whatever anger I might have had was quickly quelled with the inclusion of Nightwing. I like Nightwing.

Now if the Cartoon Network would just put it back on television. It’s stopped midseason back in October, I think, and there’s no indication on when it will return.

 

And those were my favorite shows for 2012. I imagine even more shows will add up on my DVR this year, though if American Gods hits HBO by the end of the year, I’m pretty confident that it will be tops for 2013.

What shows did you love in 2012? What should I be watching in 2013?

Yesterday I gave out a series of “rewards” for television shows that caught my eye either for good or bad reasons in 2012. Today you get my list of favorite shows for the year. Putting this list together was kind of hard as my go-tos like Supernatural and Glee became a bit of a mess last year while others like Chuck ended. So here is my shortened list of favorite shows from 2012.

Favorite Shows of 2012

Comic Con 2012: Leslie's Five Favorite Moments

Comic Con is a giant jumble of crazy moments, where at any given moment, you’re going to run into a celebrity or find someone in the most elaborate, crazy costume you’ve ever seen. You’re always missing something, but at the same time, you’re having so much fun that you probably don’t care that much. Here are five of my favorite moments from San Diego Comic Con 2012, in no particular order.

Random Celebrity Sightings

A lot of celebrities just sort of roam around during Comic Con. They visit people who sleep outside all night to see certain panels and they eat in restaurants with all the normal people. I’ve never been big on meeting celebrities, but I always get a huge jolt of giddiness seeing one near me. This year we crossed paths with Mark Sheppard and Jim Beaver of Supernatural one night when we were crossing the street back to our hotel. I’m pretty sure Jim Beaver saw my jaw hit the ground when I recognized them, but I was too dumbstruck to say anything.

Seth Green nearly ran me over while filming something with his phone in the exhibit hall. Comic Con isn’t really Comic Con if we don’t have the annual Seth Green sighting. And speaking of people nearly running into me, apparently I nearly had a collision with this dude from Alphas while I was eating gelato and (once again) walking back to our hotel. All I saw was a plaid shirt very close to my face and then he was gone.

I went by the Simon & Schuster booth to talk to my contact there, only to turn to my right to find John Barrowman sitting five feet away from me. I met him during my first Con, but it was still giddy shock the moment I saw him. And then if you follow us on Twitter, you might have seen me mention that one Misha Collins ran by us in the Hall H line on his morning jog Sunday. That just made me grin.

 

Meeting Marissa Meyer

I love Cinder. I loved Cinder before I ever read it and I tell everyone I know that likes YA to read Cinder because it is super awesome and has an android lead character. Marissa has been generous enough with her time to chat with me via email, Twitter and Facebook over the last year or so. She also suggested that Working for the Mandroid be used on her debut author tour, which left me a little dumbstruck and incredibly excited. So it was incredibly exciting to finally meet Marissa in person at her signing of Cinder. Yes, getting a copy of Scarlet also added to the greatness of the moment, but for me one of the highlights of the Con was to finally meet her and tell her how much I love her work in person.

 

The Trifecta that is Fringe, Supernatural and Doctor Who Back to Back

I really hate Hall H. It’s a giant cavernous room that holds about 6,000 people and our first year, I made the big mistake of camping out there all day. By the time the day was over, my inner rage monster had snuck out and I hated just about everyone. From then on, I try to take Hall H in small doses and this year the line to get in seemed to be longer than it has ever been, but I was willing to put in the line standing time and site in that cavernous room to see the casts of three of my favorite shows. The cast ofFringe was delightfully funny and emotional about their last season. The boys of Supernatural did their level best to entertain while saying absolutely NOTHING AT ALL. And of course Matt Smith doesn’t know how to be anything other than charming. All together it was three hours of humor and cast mates showing exactly how much they loved being in the company of each other. Plus we got to see footage of DINOSAURS on SPACESHIPS! So, you know, that’s a win.


 

Finally Seeing Ian Somerhalder in Person


It seems like I miss The Vampire Diaries panel every year for one reason or another, but not this year! I finally got to see Crazy Eyes, the Boring One, and Elena in person. While they might not have best utilized their panel to appeal to the audience filled with mostly True Blood fans, they managed to – just like the boys of Supernatural – be entertaining and hilarious without saying a single thing about the upcoming season. The True Blood panel might have had more content, but I think The Vampire Diaries panel was more fun.

 

Getting a Commission from Katie Cook 

I love Katie Cook. She manages to make everything adorable, but everybody else seems to love her too. Her booth in Artist’s Alley was always swarming with people. That makes it difficult to get original art from her, but luckily I was able to get to her early Saturday morning and make a request for my very own Katie Cook original:

BATWOMAN!

 

There were so many great things about Comic Con, but those are the moments that will best distinguish this from the ones I’ve attended in the past and the ones I will hopefully attend in the future. Yes, I wasn’t in any of the super big panels, but I feel like I did more than those people who slept outside and stood in line for hours upon hours. Plus now that I’m home, I can catch up on all the giant robots versus monsters news and all the other things I was too busy to see.

Random Tuesday: True Blood Is Ridiculous

At some point during the middle of True Blood’s first season, I received the pilot episode on a DVD as a bonus with some other television series I purchased from Best Buy. When Fernando and I watched it, I spent most of those two hours cringing, my ears threatening to bleed from Anna Paquin’s Southern accent. The rest of the time was spent laughing at either the way the creepy stalker rapist vampire said things or the pure stupidity that is Jason Stackhouse.

And yet, four years later, I felt compelled to watch this series from the beginning. Despite having heard that it only gets more ridiculous and pornographic as the series goes on, I felt intrigued. True Blood is such a thing at Comic Con. It’s such a thing in popular culture in general and people kept telling me to watch it because it’s so much better than The Vampire Diaries.

Well, having watched the first 18 episodes of True Blood, I can confidently proclaim that I will take Crazy Eyes and the Boring One over Creepy Stalker Rapist Dude and the Stupidest Person on Television™ any day of the week.

Spoilers through episode 02.06.

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2011 Year End Look Back: Leslie's Favorite Television (and I watched a lot of it)

Over the next week or so, we'll be looking back at some of our favorite books, movies and televisions from 2011 as well as some of the things that we missed because there's just not enough time in the world to consume everything.

I watch a lot of television.  Compiling this post, I’ve realized that I watch a lot of boring television, but there are some gems.  Below are the ten shows that I couldn’t wait to get home to watch, that I counted down days to new episodes, and those shows that I pimped out the hardest to anyone who would listen.  Most – if not all – “critically acclaimed” shows are missing.  I don’t care.  I like fun television.  And yes, I did watch Game of Thrones.  No, it didn’t make my list.

Favorite Shows of 2011

Supernatural

Season six wasn’t the greatest, but it had a strong last set of episodes fronted by the Castiel-based “The Man Who Would Be King”.  Season seven continued that momentum with a fantastic season opener and then squandered it by episode three.  It’s had its up and downs, but no matter what, Sam, Dean, the Metallicar and their small world of monster hunters always have a special place in my heart.

The Vampire Diaries

This was the year when the boring one Stefan became interesting (sometimes) and the one with the crazy eyes Damon might have grown a real beating heart.  It’s a giant soap opera that, if you attempt to explain out loud to a newbie, sounds ridiculous and convoluted.  And yet it works so well.  It’s the show that I most look forward to its return in 2012.

Cutest TV couple everGlee

Season two wasn’t the greatest.  It suffered from too many guest stars, too many songs and too many diluted storylines.  What it did give me was Darren Criss.  All other arguments are invalid.

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Television Recap: The Vampire Diaries - "The Hybrid" (ep. 03.02)

Do you ever have those days when everyone else seems to have left work early and forgot to tell you to go home?  And you get so bored that you can't think of what to do even though you know in the back of your head you have a dozen ways to occupy your time?  Yeah, that was today for me.  I think knowing that Supernatural comes back tonight made the day go by even slower.  So instead of doing something productive, like figure out what car I want to buy in the very near future, I wrote this recap/review of last night's The Vampire Diaries instead.

If it hadn't been for Austin City Limits Music Festival, I probably would have written an episode review for the season premiere that summed up to "That was underwhelming" and "Caroline is awesome, why is Tyler's mom evil?" and of course, "Stefan even makes evil look boring".  It was a pretty boring episode except for a few moments, particularly when Caroline picked up a guy and effortlessly moved him out of her way with one hand while crossing a crowded room.

A few random thoughts:

- I don't care what anyone says - "bad" Stefan is just as boring as "good" Stefan.

- Caroline and Tyler together?  Much hotter than I expected.

- Alaric is the worse role-model ever.

- Elena has returned to being an idiot.

 

There are, of course, spoilers all over the place.  Do not enter if you have not watched.

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Random Tuesdays: In Which I Ponder My Fondness for The Vampire Diaries

The summer has flown by so quickly, I've hardly had any time to miss my usual schedule of regular television.  Other than my low-level melancholy I have whenever Supernatural isn't on, that is.  Then yesterday I had a sudden and terrible urge to watch Glee, so instead of doing something constructive with my afternoon at home, I sat down to eat lemon tarts and watch random episodes of Glee that were still on our Tivo, fast forwarding just about any part that had Rachel, Finn or Quinn in it.  To be honest, I just watched the Kurt/Blaine bits and big group numbers from a couple of episodes, but that's not my point.  My point is that by fulfilling my sudden urge to watch story-telling karaoke, I am now incredibly excited and overly eager for the fall season to start up.

Why are they in the water? This show doesn't involve water.

Next to the Winchesters, I'm most eagerly anticipating the return of my other favorite pair of brothers.  Well, more like my other favorite show that happens to include a pair of brothers because I still think Stefan is one of the most boring characters to ever be the "charismatic lead" on a teen-oriented television program, but Boone Damon makes up for the other's complete lack of appeal.  Anyway, I would be referring to The Vampire Diaries.  This is normally where I'd put in a self-effacing snarky comment about how I know I'm an adult and by virtue of my age and the CW's target audience, I should not be watching this show, but I'm fairly certain that the majority of my readers might be in a similar boat.

Side note: If you watch The Vampire Diaries and want to tell your friends about it, don't.  If you attempt to explain the premise of this show out loud at this point in the game, you will sound ridiculous and they will laugh at you before walking out of the room while you repeatedly yell, "But it's so GOOD!  Watch one episode, Fern, you'll LIKE IT!"  By this point, Elena's family tree alone is worse than most soap operas in convoluted story telling.  I think by this point everyone is either related to her or sleeping with someone who is related to her.  I really need a map...

Spoilers through the end of Season 2 ahead

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