Posted in Supernatural

The CW Passes on Wayward Sisters

I’m heartbroken that the CW did not pick up Wayward Sisters for next year.  This decision doesn’t make much sense to me.  The backdoor pilot received intensely great reviews as well as gave it’s parent show a huge ratings bump when it aired.

Furthermore, it continues to trend on Twitter on at #5 since the announcement.  This show has a built-in, already fiercely loyal fanbase.  It makes no sense that this show wasn’t picked up.

Unless you factor into the equation that it was the only all female led cast – even Charmed can’t boast that it’s only female.

I think rather than take a chance that would have paid off big time over the next several years, the CW decided to continue doing the same old thing.  I have to say, that I really think that its reasons for not picking of Wayward Sisters has everything to do with its diversity and nothing to do with how well the show would done.

The backdoor pilot rocked.  It was fucking fantastic, and everyone knows it.  Now everyone knows that the CW doesn’t give a shit about quality.  Although, anyone watching a preview for an episode of the new Dynasty already knows that quality isn’t high on the CW’s list, currently.

The possibility of this show gave so many people hope for a better future, even if it is was only through a television show.  It’s heartbreaking and cruel that with the work of so many fans behind it, the CW decided to not go with it.

But hey, I’m clearly not their target demographic.  I can’t express how angry and disappointed I am in the faceless douches at the CW.  Bad decision, and clearly, one motivated from misogyny.  Screw you, CW.  Screw you.

Posted in Reviews

Altered Carbon Review

As with all of my reviews, there are spoilers, but with this series in particular, I’m going to try to keep most of the spoilers very light.  This television series is can be considered both cyber punk and detective noir, so while spoiling some of the cyberpunk aspects is inevitable, there’s no need to spoil the murder mystery aspect of the series.

First of all, I have recommended this series to a great many people on my Facebook account, but I did mention to my mother that she would probably hate it.  Cyberpunk isn’t for everyone.  In talking about this series, knowing a little bit about cyberpunk is helpful.  Cyberpunk is science fiction set in a dystopian future in an ultra-urban setting, usually with a great divide between the wealthy and the poor causing an inevitable underground oppositional movement, cyberpunk is almost always violent, and has technology that enhances humans in one degree or another.  Bladerunner is one of the best known examples of cyberpunk in film, although there are tons of others.

Altered Carbon hits all of these cyberpunk qualifications, and hits them hard.  I’m not always a fan of cyberpunk because of the dark dystopic future and the ultra violence.  When humans are enhanced with technology, the options for violence can become extreme which is not always appealing to me, but Altered Carbon, while definitely being violent, has so much more going on that the violence didn’t overwhelm me.

In the Altered Carbon future, humans are backed up on discs called “stacks’ that can be removed from one body and placed into another.  They call bodies “sleeves” and the series opens on Takeshi Kovacs being “resleeved” after being killed decades prior.  Since human consciousness can be stored on disc, humans can “needle cast” to other worlds, where their consciousness is sent to another planet and then sleeved in a body.  This allows for quick travel between worlds, especially for the authorities.

Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced Ko-vach) was serving a very long sentence for his crimes, but this sentence was interrupted when an obscenely wealthy man named Laurens Bancroft (portrayed by James Purefoy) basically purchases him to solve the crime of his own murder.  The police think it was suicide, but Bancroft refuses to accept this.  In return for working for Bancroft, Kovacs will get a full pardon and a large sum of money.  This murder mystery takes us through the entire 10 episode series.

First of all, Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs is wonderful.  The camera loves him and he brings heart and humor to the role.  Kovacs isn’t always likable and has many hard edges, especially in the first few episodes, but as his history is told and the story moves forward, much of his dislikable behavior makes a lot of sense.  He’s the type of character that isn’t really hard hearted, he’s broken hearted and so he has developed an attitude to keep people at bay.  Kinnaman is likable even in the moments when Kovacs isn’t and this helped me stay interested.

One of the fun things about the show is that one actor can play many different characters.  Actor Matt Biedel gets to play Abuela, a Hispanic grandmother as well as a Russian killer called Dimi the Twin, and a drugged out violent criminal brought into the police station.  His portrayal of Abuela is fantastic, and watching him in this role you really believe that he is Kristin Ortega’s grandmother simply in the sleeve of a very scary man.  The moments between Ortega and Abuela towards the end of the episode are funny but also poignant – Abuela brought me to tears.  Then, in the next episode, he portrays a loathsome underworld figure so well that you forget entirely that he was ever Abuela.  (Yes, I know abuela means grandmother, but she wasn’t given any other name in the series or on IMDB.)

Matt Biedel wasn’t even one of the main actors in the cast, but he still brought depth and life to several characters.  Many of the actors in Altered Carbon get the opportunity to portray different characters, and Martha Higareda, who mainly portrays Kristin Ortega, has one of the best moments in the series when she gets to portray someone else for a little while.  Her performance is amazing and it is the acting that really brings the concept of different people inhabiting a “sleeve” to life.  These actors make the sci-fi concepts real and believable.

One of the other aspects of the series that impresses is the setting.  The series is simply gorgeous.  Bay City is very much a dark and dystopic futuristic city, with the Golden Gate Bridge covered with container dwellings – who needs a bridge when you have flying cars?  In this world, the rich live in tall structures high about the city, and these buildings that soar above the clouds are breathtakingly beautiful.  Since it took me an episode or two to warm up to Kovacs, the gorgeous setting kept me not only interested but riveted.  I normally watch television while scrolling through my phone or laptop, but with Altered Carbon, I simply watched, even upon second viewing.

While I’m sure much of the acting was with a green screen as backdrop, the setting comes alive in a believable way that doesn’t look like CGI.  The city below is dark with buildings crowding out the sun which contrasts the rich who live above in beautiful, idyllic surroundings.

One of my favorite characters in the show is Poe, an AI who runs the hotel where Kovacs stays during his investigation.  The hotel has an Edgar Alan Poe theme and he brings much humor to the often dry and grumpy Kovacs.  Chris Conner is wonderful as Poe and I really hope that season two will have him returning.  Honestly, I could watch a show that was just about the adventures of Poe – Conner’s character was that fun.

As stacks can be put into different sleeves, there are several characters who portray Kovacs in addition to Kinnaman.  Credited as “Stronghold Kovacs,” Will Yun Lee is Kovacs in many of the flashbacks and is Kovacs’ original sleeve.  The scenes with Lee and Dichen Lachman, as his sister Reileen Kawahara, are some of the best in the series.  Lee shows us Kovacs’ heart by showing us his past, and he brings so much depth and emotion to the role that you cannot help but care for him.  At one point, Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldberry) tells him that he is only pretending to be one of the monsters, and the flashbacks show this to be true.  My hope for season two is a lot more Lee – he was truly fantastic.

The way the series ends, it is entirely possible to have season two with an entirely new cast of characters, something I hope they do.  Although, Kinnaman was so great in the role, it’d be wonderful if they figured out a way to bring him back in the same sleeve, although if they handed the Kovacs role over to Lee, that would be wonderful, too.  I would love to see more of Lee’s Kovacs in the future – he knocked me out he was so good. There are many worlds in this universe to inhabit and many different things to explore.

After finding out that the series was also a book, I read Altered Carbon the book, and the series was better.  I almost never like a series better than the book, but the series made a lot of improvement upon the book.  They took the concepts and characters and built upon it in a way that I really enjoyed.  I tried reading the second novel in the Kovacs trilogy, but quit halfway through, as it wasn’t even close to as good as the first book.  My hope is that season two takes a departure from the books and has another noir-type mystery to tell, instead of the war story/artifact hunt that was the second book.

I will say that this series has lots of violence, including violence against women and violence against sex workers.  There was one episode centered on Kovacs going into a simulated torture scenario, but luckily the amount of torture scenes was low as the episode included flashbacks to Kovacs’ past much more than they showed the torture aspect of things.  So be forwarned about the violence in advance.  That said, between the exceptional story, acting, and special effects, this series definitely is an A.

 

 

Posted in Supernatural

Wayward Sisters Review

I don’t normally review individual episodes, but as my reviews of the previous seasons suggest, I love Jody Mills, Alex, and Donna Hanscum, and after last night, I love Claire Novak, Patience, and even poor Kaia, too.

Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers….  You’ve been warned, so read on but I spoil the crap out of a lot.  Even the ending which you really don’t want to be spoiled.  Trust me.

This might be more of a post game analysis than a review, so if you haven’t seen it, this won’t mean much to you.

 

Right off the bat, this show has me just with the “Then” portion where they show the flashbacks that have led us to our current episode.  The music used was “I Am the Fire” by Halestorm and I cannot think of a more perfect song for this show – needless to say, I downloaded the song off of iTunes after my second viewing of the backdoor pilot episode.  Starting with Jody telling Alex that she will be whatever Alex needs, I’m in tears and we’re still just watching what happened before this episode even starts.

Wayward Sisters starts off with Claire rescuing a young girl from some werewolves that were clearly the bad kind of werewolves.  This scene is super important, because it shows us that Claire is a capable hunter, and pretty funny.  The package that has his name on it, is for Mr Werewolf and that really cracked me up.  She takes out three werewolves with skill and much weaponry.  Claire’s insistence on being a hunter has long been something that defined her, but until now, she hasn’t been shown to be a fighter.  Knowing she can actually kick some ass was wonderful to see.

Jody calling her home had me in tears, not just because of the throwback line of the boys are hunting and we haven’t heard from them in a few days, but also because of Kim Rhodes’ delivery.  She made the words her own, while also showing us how much she loves and needs Claire.  She calls Claire home and I wish I could go help them, too.

Claire is a great character but is by no means perfect – she gets home, cops an attitude with Patience pretty much immediately, and then gives Alex a hard time about wanting to be a nurse instead of a hunter.  Ok, Claire, so you are the only one that gets to chart her own destiny?  If we have to honor your choices, then you can shut the fuck up about Alex’s decisions.

That said, she and Alex get along in a fun, somewhat kindly antagonistic way. Clearly, they’ve become true siblings – sisters, if we want to reference the title, and I do. Claire sees Alex at the hospital and makes fun of her scrubs, while Alex calls Claire “Biker Barbie” – which Claire takes as a compliment.  Alex shows a willingness to help Claire and an accurate idea of exactly how Claire reacted to Patience having a vision of Claire’s death.  I couldn’t love Alex more, and on a purely superficial note Katherine Ramdeen is so beautiful she hurts to look at.  Later when Patience accusingly tells her that Jody’s burying a monster in the backyard, I love Alex all the more for saying, “Gotta bury ’em somewhere.”

Her nonchalance at this and the monster dissection shows the type of strength she brings to the team.  She isn’t easily grossed out – as I reminded my husband, she was raised by vampires who disposed of bodies via wood chipper, so she is not going to be grossed out by much.  Claire tells Alex at one point that she left so Jody wouldn’t have to worry, and Alex, so far the realist of the show, said, “She never stopped.”  Perfect moment.  Just because you can’t see the worry, doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.

The cadence and pacing of the show felt very true to most Supernatural episodes, which I really appreciated.  While we don’t see much of Sam and Dean in the Bad Place, Dean eating lizard over a campfire is one of my new favorite brotherly moments.
“Don’t tell me it tastes like chicken.”
“No, Sam, it’s a lizard.  It tastes like a lizard.”  I guess we know how Dean survived in Purgatory.

That said, the part of the show where the hooded figure kicks both of their asses felt very wrong to me.  Seriously?  They can’t fight back against a girl with a fucking stick?  Also, how exactly did the girl with a stick tie up two unconscious, fully grown, massively tall men?  It’s not like they woke up on the ground, they were tied to posts while standing.  Sam’s 6’4″ and Dean is 6’2″ and that little slip of thing carried them and then tied them to posts?  You couldn’t come up with anything more believable?  This type of crap frustrates me because either they are the greatest fighters and hunters in the world – after all they took out how many elite soldiers in season 12? – but yet, one girl armed with a lance can get the drop on them?  Whatever, writers.  Super lame.

What wasn’t lame was the rest of the episode – Patience tries to leave and go back to her normal life, but another vision of destruction stops her.  I have to say I took her father’s words to mean that once she starts down the hunter’s path, there isn’t a good way out, as opposed to never come back here ever again, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, I really adore Patience because she takes Claire’s hostility and is able to not only stand against it, but she delivers a wonderful “I told you so” to Claire.

Claire’s awesome, but she’s as flawed as Dean (who is also awesome).  Also, Alex the younger sibling wants a normal life, while the hot headed, older sibling hunter doesn’t understand that.  Sound familiar?  Wonderful parallels to early Sam and Dean here.  (This isn’t my observation, but my husband’s, but he’s super accurate.)

Kaia is a humanizing element to Claire’s hotheadedness and impulsivity, and watching them compare scars served not only as a bonding point, but also shows us that Claire has hunted ghouls and vampires in addition to werewolves, and clearly survived the encounters.  Also, her tripping and bashing her head against a doorknob was another moment where Claire’s sense of humor got to show through her attitude and bravado.  More of Claire being funny, please.

Kaia is also the one that Claire shares that dying didn’t really phase her because as long as it is while she’s hunting, she dies for a good cause and because she’s helping to make the world a better place.  It also must not be too terrifying when you know that heaven is real. However, knowing it is going to actually happen really does scare her – and she steps up to save Sam and Dean anyway.  Because that’s what heroes do and she knows they’d do it for her.  Kaia agreeing to go with Claire to a place of her nightmares, a place she hates so much she used drugs to escape from sleeping is also unbelievably heroic, too.  I love these two so much.

I’m a little too happy with this episode and a little bit too excited about the potential for a series.  As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of backdoor pilots.  Usually, they steal attention from the main characters and feel contrived.  This backdoor pilot flowed with the universe really well.  Honestly, while it’s a great pilot in and of itself, it’s also an excellent episode of Supernatural, too.  It manages to be new and interesting (like most of Supernatural season 13) while still expanding the world we already know and love.  For contrast, I watched “Bloodlines” once and have never bothered repeating the experience.  Awful, awful pilot.  Like, were they trying to make it as horrible as possible?

That said, and this is a major fucking spoiler so turn away now because its a doozy – Kaia fucking dies (because of course, I love you Supernatural, but you really are “women in refrigerators” a little too fucking much for my tastes) and then we find out the hooded figure is the “Bad Place’s” Kaia.  Who apparently can open dimensional rifts?  Cool concept, but I really adored the sweet and kind Kaia that Claire befriended, not the murderous Kaia in the hood.  There had to be a better way of getting Claire to stay in Sioux Falls than killing off a potentially awesome character like Kind Kaia.

However, this type of ending is also a good one because it returns to us an actress we love – with a character that I hope can be redeemed because Kaia as a series regular and ally is more my taste here.

The possibilities for this series are huge and I really wish and hope that this gets picked up for fall.

OH!!!  I forgot the best part!  Donna Hanscum shows up with a flame thrower and teaches Patience how to shoot a gun (although, clearly more training is needed).  Donna brings a certain humor to the show, but she also brings a deadly capability that I forever adore.  Her ex once called her a “wolf in sheepskin” which is really quite accurate and quite a compliment coming from anyone else.

Donna is nice and sweet and wonderful, but she will kill the fuck out of you.  I love her and her relationship with Jody.  I really hope if the series gets picked up that they figure out a way to include her in every episode in some big way.  She’s just too interesting and too awesome to not give more screen time.  Also, she has a lot more hilarity than just a Minnesotan accent, and I can’t wait to see them expand on that.

Jody telling Donna that she can’t lose another kid is one of those lines that shows that Jody and Donna know each other very well at this point.  Jody isn’t emotionally closed off, but she also doesn’t broadcast her sorrow, so clearly these two have had quite a few heart to hearts.  I love it when so much backstory can be felt with a simple line.  Much like Castiel and Dean watching Tombstone together, some of the best moments of Supernatural aren’t the monster hunting, but the relationships between the characters.

I was incredibly excited about this backdoor pilot, and the entire WaywardAF movement has meant a lot to me.  I’m not sorry to say I teared up several times during the show simply because of it being a dream realized.  With such high expectations, I thought for sure I’d be disappointed, but I not only wasn’t disappointed, I was really impressed with how well it all came together.  We’ve got new monsters we’ve never seen before and dimension walker!!  How cool is that?

Also, I love Dean warning Jody that more monsters must have made it through the rift and Jody saying to Dean that he and Sam can save the world and she and her group will take care of Sioux Falls.  Just so brilliant and something that should set the MRA’s fears and the fear of so many fangirls who complained about only wanting to see Sam and Dean, to rest.  The pilot of this show doesn’t mean that Sam and Dean are going to be gone – they are still saving the world, but our Wayward Sisters will make sure their neck of the woods is safe.

Can this show get greenlit already?????

A+ for this in spite of my complaints about killing off women and Dean and Sam being beaten up by a girl with a stick.

Posted in Supernatural

In Defense of Claire Novak

Tomorrow night, Supernatural will air its backdoor pilot, Wayward Sisters.  I’ve been waiting for this for a few years now, ever since Jody met Donna in the episode Hibbing 911.  After the god-awful travesty of a backdoor pilot that was “Bloodlines” I wrote a blog entry here about the MANY other backdoor pilots that would be acceptable to me, and then I discovered there was already a Wayward movement – sometimes, many people have the exact same idea.  Sometimes, their idea is even better than anything I could think of – as if the case with Wayward Sisters.

However, in recent days, there has been a huge amount of negativity on Twitter and Facebook about this pilot.  Of course, there are the usual misogynists and MRA’s complaining about how awful it will be for 6 women to save Sam and Dean, let alone giving them an entire series.

This is to be expected – we all know how people freaked out over Ghostbusters having vaginas.  These types of negative comments can be largely ignored, but many of the negative comments came from women who don’t want to watch women, but rather they want to watch men, a sentiment which I find pathetic.

You want to watch for the men only?  Cool, just watch the men, but maybe shut up and don’t ruin it for the rest of us?

One of the recurring comments that the moderate complainers have is about Claire Novak.  The writers did Claire very few favors in the first episodes she was in.  For some reason, television writers can only write one type of female teenager – the sullen bitch.  This is how they wrote Claire in the first few episodes, so it is no wonder people aren’t terribly psyched for her appearance.

Part of the problem is the horrible “Mark of Cain” storyline.  In her reappearance in “The Things We Left Behind” (10.9) she’s loyal to a man who sold her out to be raped simply to pay off his debts.  I know, we were supposed to be aghast that the Mark had Dean killing everyone there, but a group of men who will sit by and listen to a 16 or 17 year old girl being raped deserve a more horrible death than they got.  However, Claire didn’t feel that way (mainly because she didn’t know her father figure set her up) and sets Dean up to be hurt in the very next episode.

This isn’t the best introduction for a character – we all love Dean so this of course made many of us dislike her.  Including me.

However, all of the bad writing and bitchiness they heaped on Claire’s character evens out by the time we reach season 12, and there are little signs of a compassionate human inside here and there.  When she was searching for her mom in “Angel Heart” (10.20), Claire goes from badly written teenage bitch, to lost little girl grieving for both of her parents.  In this episode, she finds out that her mother didn’t just abandon her, but was kidnapped and held for 2 years by a Gregorian angel.

It also helps that the very first thing her mother said to her upon being reunited was “I’m so sorry.”  If you can watch that scene and not cry for both of them, you are made of stronger stuff than I am.  This episode shows that Claire is not only badly hurt but full of love with no outlet for it.  She is also the one who manages to kill the Gregori after he kicks the snot out of everyone else.

Up to this point, Claire believed that her father died so Castiel could have a vessel and Jimmy “has it easy in heaven” while also believing her mother just abandoned her entirely.  On top of that, her lone remaining guardian, her grandmother, died, too.  Then Dean kills the asshole who was masquerading as her guardian (even though he was a monster and deserved to die.)

That’s a hell of a lot of loss for anyone to handle, let alone a 16/17 year old.  It wasn’t until playing putt-putt with Dean that she even found out that Castiel saved the world, so Jimmy’s sacrifice becomes heroic to her, instead of being merely another abandonement.

Her tearful thanks to Castiel and Dean for finding her mother was the very first glimpse we have that Claire wasn’t just a cookie cutter sullen nightmare, but a real girl in real pain from the many losses she’s experienced.

This is also the episode where Castiel gives her a stuffed Grumpy Cat from “the Hot Topical” and while she blows off Cas when he gives her the gift, she puts the stuffed animal in her bag.  When we see her in her room at Jody’s house in “Don’t You Forget About Me” (11.12), she is curled around the Grumpy Cat stuffed animal, which was more than a little heartbreaking to see – and something I didn’t even catch until my 3rd or 4th viewing.

Claire’s complete redemption for me came in “Ladies Drink Free” (12.16) where she is bitten by a werewolf and starts to turn into one.  In this episode she earned a lot of love from me by going by the fake name “Beatrice Quimby” from the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.  I loved those books.  Also, she beat the boys AND the British Men of Letters to the scene, which shows that she has the raw material for a good hunter.

In this episode, she manages to get a lot of backstory on the case, and when she goes to share it with Sam, saying “I did good,” she’s wanting a pat on the back.  She’s wanting a “Hey, good job” or other simple kudo from Sam, but true to Sam form, he goes straight to the next problem instead of giving her even slight praise.  This is typical Sam who can’t celebrate the death of the yellowed-eyed demon for a few minutes with Dean, but has to press about Dean selling his soul.  Sam does this often – and as pointed out by my husband, Sam never got any praise so he has no concept of how to give it out to Claire.

Instead, he pisses her off by asking why she’s lying to Jody.  I will say that the exchange between Sam and Claire where she tells him to stop treating her like a child and he tells her to stop acting like one was pretty perfect.  She deserved that line, but Sam could have picked a better time.  Especially considering she runs away (still acting like a child, Claire) and immediately gets bitten by a werewolf.

This episode really redeems Claire because the way she handles being bitten shows her true colors.  Dean tries to tell her she can deal with it and she says to him “I can barely keep it together on a good day,” which shows a self-awareness that I didn’t think she was capable of.  It’s understandable that Claire is kind of a basket case.  I was in my mid-30’s when my father died and was a complete wreck for years.  That same loss as a child multiplied by 2?  Holy hell, Claire’s actually functioning pretty well.

Another great line between her and Dean here is Dean telling her she doesn’t get a vote and she responds, “It’s my life.  I get all the votes.”  Dean is so used to controlling Sam and Castiel and the others around him that he cares about, I think this is the first time anyone has ever told him no so perfectly.

However, what really makes this episode for me is something super small.  As she is turning into a werewolf and freaking out about it, she realizes she should call Jody and let her know what’s happening.  She says in the small voice a much younger girl, “She’s going to be so mad at me.”  How perfect a line is that?  It shows very clearly that she does consider Jody her mom, without those words being said.  Claire is pretty much dying, and she’s worried about Jody’s anger without the realization that any Jody anger springs from love.

It was that moment that I realized that I really liked Claire, in spite of the typical sullen teenage BS the writers kept heaping on her.  After she turns back into a human she even jokes with Sam and Dean about “craving a milk bone.”  This episode takes Claire and makes her not only likable but understandable.  Her mom (Jody) wants her to go to college, but she’d rather learn a trade instead.  That’s a normal family thing to have happen, just with the hunter spin on it to make it Supernatural.

She continues to be likable even to the end of this episode where she calls Jody and comes clean about not looking at colleges, but rather hunting instead.  She also calls Jody her mother, but she still has enough insecurity about being loved that she practically whispers the word.  She goes from being a brat to being a complex character in one fell swoop.

Also, she makes a joke!  Not the funniest of jokes, but still, it shows there’s a sense of humor hiding in there somewhere.

I get people hating on Claire, because the first several episodes with her, she was a total pain in the butt and more than little unpleasant, but her story didn’t end there.  She grew as a character and she lowered her defenses enough for us to see the broken-hearted girl within – and kudos for the actress who portrays Claire, Kathryn Newton, who flawlessly shows us the vulnerability of Claire over several episodes.

I would groan when I saw it was going to be “a Claire episode” but honestly, given all the character has been through and the fact that Sam, Dean, and Castiel destroyed her family – and hey, they saved the world a lot, but they did tank her life completely – she’s much nicer to them than I would have been.

Furthermore, from the promos I’ve seen for Wayward Sisters, she not only feels loyalty towards Sam and Dean, she’s determined to save them.  That’s a huge evolution for the character.  She’s gone from seeing them as the enemy to seeing them not only as allies, but as family.

So, I do understand hating Claire, but I really think that given her evolution, it’s short-sighted.  She has so much potential and Kathryn Newton is such a fantastic actor that I am more than happy to see her continue to grow surrounded by supportive women like Jody, Donna, and Alex.  I’m also excited to see her interact with the two newer characters, too.

The harsh Claire judgment makes sense to me in the first two episodes where she’s reintroduced, but this character has grown and changed enough as her story went on, that I think this potential Wayward Sisters series (please, please, please, PLEASE let there be a series!) can show her as not only likable, but heroic. I personally cannot wait for this episode to be available on the CW app (we don’t have cable) and I’m sure I’ll watch it several times.

 

Posted in Reviews

Hulu Sucks

If there is a perfect metaphor for 2017, it’s the new Hulu interface – it’s new, improved, and crappier than it has ever been.  Laughably crappy.  Crappy enough, people are scratching their heads and wondering, “How did this even happen?”  It looks like a much less user friendly version of Amazon’s service, if you removed everything good from Amazon’s User Interface.

Needless to say, I truly hate it.  After several MONTHS of trying to get used to it, today, I just canceled my $11.99 subscription to Hulu.  I tried once before but they lured me back with a free month, but honestly, even free I wouldn’t bother using Hulu at this point.

First of all, everything takes longer for no real explicable reason.  You have to sign in to your name once Hulu boots up, then you are given a pretty menu that is mostly a pain in the ass to navigate.  The old interface would show the movies or shows that Hulu was highlighting that month, and I often found new shows to watch that way.  This new model gives you an uninteresting list of titles.

If you watch a television series, navigating to the show’s page to pick a season and then pick an episode is about a 5 minute affair.  It takes for ever, and half the time we just would quit and watch Netflix or Amazon instead.  See, if you click on the series title, it will just take you straight to an episode, not the actual show’s page.  Finding the actual show’s page is unintuitive as hell, and after trying to figure it out pretty much every time we use the service, and the ensuing frustrations of fast forwarding or rewinding or pausing or a myriad of other things, we might 50% of the time make it to the show’s page.

At which point I hate everyone who helped make this User Interface so much that I can’t see straight.

But wait, it gets better.  No matter how many times you take a show out of your watch list, Hulu will still put it in your Autoplay.  Dream LLC is a fucking horrible show, disgusting to watch, and ugly to look at.  I watched one single episode, hated it and tried to move on with my life.  But will Hulu let me?  No.  Instead it tries to force that show down my throat every single chance it gets.

And don’t bother to tell me I can turn Autoplay off.  I already know that.  However, then getting to the next episode of Adventure Time takes 20 years to navigate to and choose an episode from, and when the episodes are only around 12 minutes long it rapidly becomes not worth it to have Autoplay off.  Much of the new User Interface results in choices between two shitty options.  You know what system was better by about a 1000 times?  Their old one.

Forget about fast forwarding or rewinding with any accuracy whatsoever.  The old Hulu’s FF and Rewind were clunky in comparison to Netflix, but at least you could get to kind of the right spot.  With Hulu’s new UI, unless you know the minute and second you are navigating to, you have to blindly guess how many minutes to go in either direction.  It’s also SO SLOW.

It’s as if they designed the new User Interface to cause as many viewers as possible to rage quit as often as possible.

I honestly cannot believe they managed to approve this “upgrade” and think it was in any way a good idea.  Hulu went from beating Netflix in watchability and viewing choices to being a complete waste of time.

Posted in Cats

Yes, This is All About Cats

We live in a old house, built in the 1930’s after an historical tornado wiped out most of the town I live in, side note: tornado sirens are everywhere!  Anyway, my husband and his father (and his father by himself quite a lot, too) took a very old, smelly, and run down house and fixed it up into something livable, however, with old houses, there are quirks, kind of like an old car.

I sometimes joke that our lives are held together with duct tape and hope, which is a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

My husband made a rough looking cat balcony for the cats.  While we live in a residential area and the speed limit on the street is 25, many people go much faster than that so the cats are not allowed outside.  We have strays pop up every few years and they have short lives.  My younger sister worked as a vet tech and she said that the average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is around 2 years while an indoor cat can easily get into the teens.  The cat balcony was a wonderful way for the cats to go outside without being exposed to things that will kill them, and in this area, we have tick born illnesses that can easily kill a cat.  (Poncho, you are still missed.)

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Joey Bear, peering at me as I write.

One of our cats has been dealing with chin acne for a long time now, and both of us hate having to wash his chin.  I wash the food and water bowls regularly, wipe down the widows they sit in front of and don’t have anything plastic or metal for them to eat out of and still the acne wouldn’t/won’t go away.

The cat balcony was made of wood and chicken wire and the cats just loved it.  However, my two high maintenance cats developed cat acne (catne, as my husband says).  Since one of those cats is a black cat, I didn’t really notice, but the orange and white tiger cat, Cecil, developed catne that looked suspiciously like the shape of chicken wire.  Therefore, the decision was made to close off the cat balcony.

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Shadow Cat, frustrated he can’t go out the window.

This was not a popular decision among the cat crew.  There was much meowing, trilling, and digging at the windows when this first happened, but they have mostly adjusted.  They will get another cat balcony, but the design is still being handled so they can have a cat balcony without metal or plastic.  I know that they sell cat balconies, but my husband wouldn’t spend the money on something he could make cheaper.

Recently, Cecil was gone for a couple of days.  We have two systems of vents in our house, something that was true before we moved in.  One set is functional and the other set of vents not so much.  The cats will crawl through the vents into the basement, somewhere they can hide from each other and generally be left alone.  I spent a day thinking Cecil was just pissed at one of the other cats and hiding in the basement.

The morning of day two of the Missing Cecil, I wake up and go to the bathroom, Joey, also orange and white, was wet and wanted me to pet him dry.  When we had the cat balcony open, this was pretty typical Joey behavior.  Go outside, get frozen or really wet, come back inside and have the humans pet you until you are warm or warm and dry.

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Joey was dripping wet, which was weird for an indoor cat.  I surmised that he must have escaped the house at some point.  Looking through the basement I found a window broken enough a cat could certainly get out.  The windows are tiny and at ground level, so a human couldn’t squeeze through, but it’s no problem for a cat.

Then, I committed a heinous act of kitty cat cruelty – I closed the access to the basement.  Because of the old house status, there are some quirks, and one is that we have a hole to the basement in our kitchen.  It’s right up against a wall and we have a board covering it so no one accidentally breaks their leg, so I made sure it was shut and I covered the other vent access to the basement.

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Will, my husband, went outside and walked around for a good long time, found no Cecil and finally, as he gave up and was going to work, Cecil appears, meowing and trilling as he does.  We call him the Muppet Cat because he makes a plethora of adorable noises.  This is the cat that has the stress purr – he’s pretty vocal, even when sleeping.  Cecil is completely happy and satisfied with himself, as per cat usual, no remorse whatsoever.

We have the window loosely boarded up, but these cats are escape artists, so until we have a cat proofing solution, they are not allowed back in the basement.  This has caused several problems.

First of all, there is a kitchen door to the basement, and now I can’t grab a drink or food or clean or anything at all in the kitchen without a swarm of furry sharks trying to trip me as they expectantly wait for me to open the basement door.  Our black cat, Shadow, has been making a habit of sitting on the counter, which is not allowed.  However, Shadow still hasn’t figured out gravity, so we grade on a curve.  Our habit, when he is on the counter is to put him on the other side of the basement door.  To return, he has to run all the way through the basement and then climb back out of the vent.

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Will’s philosophy here is that maybe it will help run some of the crazy out of the cat.  Shadow is our cat that is a little kill crazy.  I look at him like someone with ADHD but who also happens to have murder mittens.  Even when he goes to sleep it’s as if the kill in him can’t quite let him unless he attacks something.  This is the cat that was asleep, woke up to chew and kill a hand and then fall asleep with his mouth open on the hand so we are constantly trying to tire him out to burn off some of “kill.”

Shadow has been getting on counter tops now very brazenly, because he WANTS us to throw him in the basement.  I had to rewash an already washed cutting board yesterday as he looked me right in the eye and sat on it.  I actually washed the cutting board twice after that, not going to lie.

These cats have our number and they may be craftier than we are.

Anyway, it’s been a few days since the cats haven’t been able to go into the basement and they are not handling it well.  Joey, who really is the brains of the cat operation here, as Shadow will actually go get Joey when a door is closed so Joey will open it for him, and as closed doors offend Joey’s very cat self, he opens the door without qualm.  Will calls Joey, Joey-Bear, because he’s kind of a fat cat, but also insanely strong.  We have many carpeted vertical places for the cats to claw and climb and Joey is only cat that will actually climb down instead of just jumping down and he really looks like a tiny bear when he does this.

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Anyway, the Bear Joe spent a day driving me crazy as he would dig at the plastic barricade to the basement, then run into the kitchen to try to move the board off of the hole.  Part of the reason we left the kitchen floor hole is to throw laundry down into the basement easily and quickly.  Underneath the hole we have a huge laundry bin.  Joey managed to move the board, a board with a mountain of Will’s heavy clothing covering it.  I put a few more things to weigh down the board, but later that evening after I’d gone to bed, he manages to open it again.

When I wake up, the board has been weighted down by Will, who sometimes is a little more overkilly than I am.  When Will’s dad replaced our old windows (you could actually feel the breeze from the wind from the inside, so this replacement saved us a ton on energy bills, Thanks, Bill!) there were iron weights inside the windows that Will kept (he keeps everything).  These things acted as counterweights to the window and they are heavy.  Will put the entire box of them on the basement board, a 12 pack of my seltzer water, and an unused and unopened 40 lb container of cat litter.

By the time we are done, Joey Bear is going to have crazy strong muscles, because even with all of the weight, he spent most of his day yesterday trying to move the board with no success.

This story doesn’t really have too much of a point, other than spoiled cats can be a real pain in the butt.

Posted in Reviews

Supernatural Season 11 Review

Spoilers abound for all of the season, so reader beware.

Season 11 was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  The episodes I like, I really intensely love but there are a few episodes that simply left me bored or meh.  That said, this season has two episodes that are easily within my top 10 favorite episodes, if not the top 5.  One of these episodes is called “Baby” and the entire thing is just pitch perfect.

Baby is Dean’s name for the Impala, who is the third character in the show who rarely gets an episode from her point of view.  While Sam’s tenacity saved the world and caged the devil, it was memories of the Impala that helped him do it – the Impala is as iconic to this show and the Mystery Machine is to Scooby Doo, so hell yeah, bring on an episode from her point of view.

This episode has a lot of mundane things I just love.  First of all, this episode shows the brothers bonding, laughing, and interacting in a way we don’t normally see.  If you think about the sheer number of places they drive, they spend a huge amount of time in the Impala and because driving cross country is mostly boring, we rarely see this aspect of their lives for long.  This episode gave us a little glimpse of that togetherness and the fun they have together.  It was a joy and relief to see an episode where the brothers get along well, laugh together, and even sing along to the radio.

I could honestly go scene by scene with the episode to tell you why it’s brilliant, but I’ll hit the highlights for me, personally.  Sam having a one-night stand in the Impala and Dean’s pride – and musical humor – is just delightfully funny.  Sam tells Dean he tried to give the woman his number.

Sam: I tried to give her my number. You know what she said?

Dean: ‘We got tonight; who needs tomorrow?’

Sam: Is everything a Bob Seger song to you?

Dean: Yes.

This is exchange followed by the conversation the brothers have in the car really make this episode shine.  For an action horror series like Supernatural, there aren’t a lot of slow moments of conversation, so when they happen, I really enjoy them.  Not finding a hotel (maybe not having money?) the brothers are sleeping in their car with Sam in the backseat and Dean in the front seat.  Sam wakes up, talks about his dream of their father, and the ensuing scene is just wonderful.  It’s just them, sitting in Baby, having a heart to heart and I can’t say enough good things about it.

This episode also has one of the funnier sequences of the series when Dean has to deal with killing “Deputy Dumbass” the were-pyre they are hunting.  Dean is having a phone conversation with Castiel, trying to determine what type of monster they are hunting, when the Deputy attacks Dean.  The fight scene is filmed from the inside of the car – Baby’s perspective – which allows for hilarity.  Castiel’s voice misheard through Dean’s phone as Dean shoots, beheads, and otherwise damages the were-pyre – Dean finds out beheading doesn’t work when the severed head on the windshield continues to growl at him.  This whole sequence is incredibly funny and wonderful.

This episode also sees all three of our main characters – Baby, Dean, and Sam – return home injured and limping, as even Baby got involved in the were-pyre fight.  I honestly think this might be my all time favorite episode of Supernatural, but then “Fan Fiction” and “Don’t Call Me Shurley” are also contenders for that title.

One of the best aspects of this season is that the brothers are on the same side, and Castiel is around during the beginning of the season and on the same side as the brothers.  I love it when our heroes are actually working together.  Their ability to work together so smoothly was what drew me into the show in the first place, so it’s nice to see a return to them functioning as a unit.  I didn’t mind season 10 having Sam working to cure Dean behind his back, because that was still working on the same side, even if Dean didn’t know about it.  Seasons 6-8 where it was brother fighting brother and angsty-drama all the time was wearying, to say the least.

To hit one of the down notes of the season, ugh, Lucifer.  Fucking again.  They killed off Raphael and Gabriel, both archangels, can’t we manage to stab this fucker with an angel blade already?  But no, instead Castiel says “yes” like a total moron and we’re stuck with Lucifer as Castiel, which is a bit more entertaining simply because Misha Collins makes such a more interesting Lucifer, but can we be real?  Lucifer is written as a sociopathic 5 year old complete with tantrums.  LUCIFER IS BORING.  I don’t care that Daddy hurt his feelings, after millennia, get the fuck over it and stop whining and exploding people.  Dick.

While Misha does an excellent job with Lucifer, I still hate the storylines with Lucifer for the most part, although because they are working towards the same purpose, Lucifer is a bit more fun this season, but barely.  Also, making Crowley Lucifer’s “dog” is just gross.  I know he’s the devil and all, but come one, really?  Why on earth do demons have this devotion to Lucifer?  He’s shown no leadership, absolutely detests demons, and generally is a sociopathic 5 year having a permanent temper tantrum, so what gives demonkind?  Just that stupid?  If he’s this charismatic leader that people fall in love with, I’d really like that aspect of him shown, because otherwise, he’s just BORING.  A walking bag of hate isn’t really that interesting to me and Lucifer’s daddy-issues have long stopped being interesting.

It helps that Misha Collins is clearly having fun as Lucifer, so that does get me to enjoy him a bit more as a character, but still, let’s kill Lucifer and never speak of him again, ok, Supernatural writers?

One of the episodes where Misha Collins is playing Lucifer who is pretending to be Castiel is called “The Vessel” and it is another really great episode.  Dean is sent back in time to retrieve a Hand of God, which they hope can defeat Amarra/The Darkness.  He’s sent back in time to the Bluefin, a submarine in World War II.  Lucifer, being an archangel, has the power to send Dean back in time, but due to the warding on the ship he can’t actually get on the ship himself.

This is one of the few episodes I really enjoyed Lucifer, because he’s pretty funny.  Lucifer walking down the steps of the bunker soaking wet always makes me laugh, in part because Lucifer looks so annoyed and pissed off about it.  Lucifer is interesting in the episode because he’s acting like a warrior of god and like an ally to the Winchesters, instead of being his usual petulant, whiny-baby self.  It’s a refreshing change for a boring and tired character.

This episode isn’t really about Lucifer, though.

Dean: Captain James Dearborn, my name is Dean Winchester and I am on a mission from the future, the details of which I am not a liberty to discuss. But know this: within the hour, a German destroyer will find and attack this submarine and you will go down.  [This line doesn’t seem like much, but in the context of episode itself, it’s powerful as a punch to the gut.]

It’s barely about the Winchesters and is instead about Delphine, the Woman of Letters who is transporting the Hand of God via submarine after stealing it from the Thule, the evil Nazi Necromancers.

Delphine: You save this ship, get us to the surface, and then what? The power of God will consume you, and you’ll have merely brought the weapon closer to the Nazis’ grasp. We are supposed to die, let us do it with a purpose.

Delphine warns Dean of the dangers and then takes the task on herself, sacrificing herself and the submarine to take out the Nazi Thule ship.  How badass is Delphine?

At the end of this episode – which never fails to bring a tear to my eye, because of the bravery and commitment of the soldiers and Delphine in the past – Dean tells Sam that he wasn’t really a part of things, he was just a witness.

This is the type of episode that I really love, simply because even the throwaway characters aren’t two-dimensional.  I’d watch a show just about Delphine, or many of the characters on the submarine.  This was just such a great and well written episode all around and it’s one that I love to watch, even though it seems to be more about the WWII action than the Winchesters, which is just fine by me, considering how well it was done.  This episode and “Baby” are excellent examples of why so many people are devoted to this show – they are just brilliantly written and unbelievably entertaining.

“Don’t Call Me Shurley” sees the return of Chuck/God as well as Metatron.  First of all, Rob Benedict who portrays Chuck/God, I could watch just type.  He’s magic on screen and this episode was a revelation of Rob Benedict’s true talent.  HOW IS HE NOT IN EVERYTHING ALL OF THE TIME?  He seamlessly moves from Chuck to God and back again, and then he tops it all off by singing a song that blows all the doors off the episode.  I know writing God must be a difficult task, but more Rob Benedict, please.  Dude is ridiculously talented, so if you don’t want to write an all powerful being, simply have him hanging out and playing guitar, because holy fucking cow is he wonderful at it.

Metatron is portrayed by Curtis Armstrong, an actor who has been in practically everything, but is best known as Booger front he “Revenge of the Nerds” although I always think of him as his “Moonlighting” character Herbert Viola.  As a bad guy, Metatron was obnoxious and devious and killed Dean once, so you know, hated Metatron.  However in this episode, Curtis Armstrong shows what a brilliant fucking actor he is by making us feel sympathy and even a little love for Metatron.  Armstrong and Benedict are what make this episode probably my all-time favorite episode.

First of all, this episode confirmed what most of us thought after the season 5 finale – Chuck is actually God.  This episode reveals Chuck being God, but it’s the interplay and history between God and Metatron that really infused this episode with such life and character.  I could watch God and Metatron sit in this bar and talk writing all day.

Metatron: You know, I was a crappy, terrible god. My work was pretty much a lame, half-assed rewrite of your greatest hits. But at least I was never a coward. [God throws him through the front doors of the bar with a flick of his finger.  Metatron walks back in, smiling.] There he is. That’s the guy I know, the guy I love. I remember the first time I saw you. All the angels were terrified, but I wasn’t. The feeling of your light was… was just beyond measure. And then the unthinkable. You picked me to help you with your tablets.

Chuck: You were just the closest angel to the door when I walked into the room. There’s nothing special about you, Metatron. Not then… not now. Now… I’ve been called many things — absentee father, wrathful monster. But, coward… I am not hiding. I am just done watching my experiments’ failures.

Metatron: You mean your failures, Chuck.

The way he spits out the name “Chuck” like an epithet is wonderful.  Chuck’s words deeply wound Metatron.  Armstrong plays the craziness and cunning of Metatron expertly, and he even shows the broken heartedness all of the angels felt when god left.  Armstrong does restrained tears so very well in this episode that it breaks your heart.  Later on in the episode, when Metatron says that he doesn’t care if he was “the angel closest to the door” he can barely say the words without crying – Metatron the clever and awful enemy who killed Dean once, has me broken-hearted and in tears this episode.

Metatron even tells god that all of his previous bad behavior was a sad attempt to get attention from Chuck.

This episode is just brilliant.

Metatron:  No, look. I know I’m a disappointment, but you’re wrong about humanity. They are your greatest creation because they’re better than you are. Yeah, sure, they’re weak and they cheat and steal and… destroy and disappoint. But they also give and create and they sing and dance and love. And above all, they never give up. But you do.

At the end of the episode, Chuck sings “Dink’s Song” aka “Fare Thee Well” and the first several times I watched this episode, I just sobbed through the whole song.

One o’ dese days, an’ it won’t be long,
Call my name an’ I’ll be gone.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

I’m not a Christian, but the idea of the Christian God of Supernatural being gone is a terrifying prospect just the same.

From this episode on, everyone seems to be on the same side – Lucifer and God hash out some things, although Lucy’s still a dick; Rowena and Crowley join the fight; even Billie helps out.  However, what defeats the Darkness/Amarra in the end isn’t a weapon, but rather it’s love, forgiveness, and family.

I’ve spent a lot of time gushing about the great episodes this season, but I haven’t even gotten to how awesome Jody Mills is this season.  You know I can’t write a review without a huge heaping spoonful of love for Kim Rhodes and her expert portrayal of Jody Mills.  We pop back into her life and see how things are going with her, Claire, and Alex in an episode that I really enjoyed, although for the love of God Claire is such a bitch it’s painful to watch her sometimes.  Can we please either write her as less of a dumbass OR less of bitch?  The combo of bitchy dumbass is really grating, although her cuddling the Grumpy Cat stuffed cat the Castiel bought for her at “The Hot Topical” is a cute moment.

Anyway, Jody is amazing as always and watching her care for her two wards is really awesome, including a discussion of STD’s at dinner, which was funny.  Jody is a great mom, but that isn’t what defines her as a person.

Jody: ‘Kay, well, um. I may have definitely seen birth control pills in your backpack.

Sam: Oh, we’re going there.

Dean: Okay.

Alex: Oh my god.

Jody: Hey, if we can’t talk about it, we shouldn’t be doing it, right? Right?  [Right on, sister!!!  I absolutely agree!]

Dean: What?

The bonding between the women is awesome and in the end Alex offering to sacrifice herself for Claire (prompting Claire to tell the vamps that their intel is wrong, Alex hates her) and Jody is just wonderful.  Katherine Ramdeen as Alex is a great character full of complexities, but really she just wants to live her life without monsters.  Good luck with that, Alex.

“Just My Imagination” is another fun episode that has me laughing hysterically, especially in the beginning of the episode.  Sam’s imaginary friend from childhood shows up and needs help.  The whole opening sequence with Sam waking up and finding an offering of all of his favorite foods from childhood (marshmallow nachos, for one) and then discovering his long ago friend is priceless.  Adding Dean to the mix, “Are you having a stroke?  Do you smell toast?” adds to the overall hilarity.

Season 11 clearly has a lot of really good episodes and excellent writing.  That said, lots of boring Lucifer crap happens throughout the season, but that is why we have fast forward.

Overall I give the season a B – lots of Lucifer boringness brings the season down, and while this season has several just completely wonderful episodes, it also has a couple of meh ones, too.

This season is one where my respect for Sam grows by leaps and bounds.  He addresses the craziness of them rescuing each other at the expense of the world.  He tries really hard all of the time to do the right thing, but the road to perdition is paved with good intentions.  Sam and Dean working well together makes this season a good one, but Sam does a lot of impressive things on his own this season and it’s fun to watch him grow and change over the course of the show.

The superstars of this season are Rob Benedict and Curtis Armstrong, though.  They give the mythology a weight, history, and emotional resonance that really makes the larger conflict more believable.  I know Curtis Armstrong has no problem being called “Booger” by most people, but he is so amazingly talented as Metatron that I simply can’t write him off as just “Booger” or just a character actor.  He’s a fucking powerhouse of awesome.

I’ve complaints about the God/Amarra storyline, but it didn’t bother and I didn’t feel like it went “too big” or jumped the shark.  Amarra was an interesting bad guy, in part because while she was pissed and powerful, she also was innocent and naive in many ways, too.  I enjoyed her storyline and the overall arc of the season.  I’m also glad that – unlike the Lucifer storylines – this one was finished up in the season.