Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hissy Fit of the Day

I sat down last night to watch two Season 6 episodes of Supernatural that I had recorded off of TNT and was dismayed to find out that a favorite episode of mine, "Frontierland", had apparently been dropped from the rotation this time around. I was curious to see if TNT had skipped any other episodes from Season 6, and I was even more to dismayed to discover that they had also cut out "The French Mistake", and "My Heart Will Go On".

(Here's a listing of Supernatural Season 6 episodes.)

What's worse is I that I found out from the Zap2it listings that TNT abruptly stopped showing Season 6 episodes after "Mommy Dearest" and opted to jump directly to the beginning of Season 1. That's not the end of the world for me since I've only seen a few episodes from Season 1. However, it unfortunately means I'm missing the outstanding Castiel-centric episode, "The Man Who Would Be King", along with "Let It Bleed" and the season-ending "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Since I started watching the series on a regular basis several weeks ago, I'm not aware that TNT has skipped any other episodes. (Note: The CW site is currently showing "The Man Who Knew Too Much", I think until the end of this week.)

When I was still watching Angel on TNT a few years ago I remember how the network would skip an episode on extremely rare occasions. A bigger problem I had was how TNT sometimes took liberties with their scheduling and I would miss episodes if they were aired in atypical time slots. Regardless, there never seemed to be any logical explanation for the missing shows, so I just chalked it all up to human error. However, with so many episodes missing from Season 6, I figure there had to be some reason for why this is happening.

After spending less than a minute on Google, I found that TNT had skipped Supernatural episodes before in the past. In this particular forum that I linked to above, fans speculated it had to do with how certain shows had previously been shown on a Supernatural marathon that had aired a short time earlier. This time around I'm wondering if TNT is skipping episodes because Supernatural Season 6 has only recently been released on DVD? It makes perfect sense for TNT to agree to hold off airing all of the Season 6 episodes for a while so that they wouldn't be interfering with DVD sales.

Also, I haven't been keeping track of this, but I'm wondering if TNT is also skipping Bones episodes as well? Though, with all of the weird times that TNT airs the series, I don't think anyone could possibly be able to tell if any of the episodes went missing.

I hate to actually go so far as to criticize TNT since they provide a wonderful service in airing all sorts of wonderful TV show, like Angel, Charmed, Supernatural, Bones etc. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was actually enjoying Season 6 of Supernatural , particularly since the entire cosmology of the series was really starting to gel. It's just a pain in the butt to be faithfully following a storyline, only to be thrown a curve when a network starts skipping episodes. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Season 6 of Supernatural in its entirety since I'd only previously seen a few episodes in the latter part of the season.

I know, I know. I should stick a crowbar into my purse and buy the Season 6 DVD's.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pleasant Interlude

James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter

The only criticism I have about last night's episode of Supernatural (7.05, "Shut Up, Dr. Phil") is that, with Buffyverse veterans Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters appearing as the husband-and-wife team of witches Maggie and Don Stark, it would have been impossible for the producers to have delivered a product that would have met my unreasonable expectations. (See TV Guide recap and review with spoilers here).

I wanted more character development and more of a range between the highs and the lows and more Charisma Carpenter and more James Marsters and more scenes with Carpenter and Marsters together and more scenes with Carpenter, Marsters and leads Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles together. Instead we received a perfectly acceptable frothy piece of confection that kept me reasonably entertained for an hour.

Charisma Carpenter. I have yet to see Charisma's recent Burn Notice appearance but I must say she looked sensational in the still shots! She continued to look absolutely stunning in Supernatural, though I can't help but note that whenever a few wrinkles appeared on her face, her close-up would abruptly come to an end. (Shame on me for even mentioning it.)

Charisma's talents were criminally underutilized during her acting career (Buffy and Angel notwithstanding), and we should have been able to enjoy seeing her in a lot more roles this past decade. Fortunately, I think she can still have a wonderful career ahead of her as a highly attractive mature woman. It's up to us to let producers know that we're perfectly happy to see actresses on TV who are in their 40's and beyond.

As far as Carpenter's acting, I was pleased to see just the right element of Cordelia in her performance, without her pushing things too far. Let's face it; we would have been awfully disappointed if Charisma had played a mousy wife and mother. Again, any real criticism I have has to do with the lack of character development. We know that Maggie was a witch who was always in an extremely bad mood; it would have been nice if we could have seen more of her vulnerabilities and been given a chance to fall in love with her good qualities.

James Marsters. Although I usually appreciate understatement, if anything, Marsters could have pushed his performance a little bit more over the edge. However, I was a bit surprised that I found more promising potential with his character than with Charisma's. In particular, I was intrigued with how his character showed up at the very end and swiped the Romanian hex coins that his wife Maggie had planted in Sam and Dean's motel room, and generously saved the brothers from being killed by the mysterious monster/man for good measure. Could that have been a potential bonding moment for the three guys? In keeping with the Supernatural tradition of never being able to create a totally convincing female character, I found myself hoping to see more of Marsters' character in upcoming episodes rather than Carpenter's.

I came into this fully expecting Charisma to steal the show while James played more of a supporting character. The fact that they ended up as equals was a nice added bonus.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. What can I say? These guys once again did a great job portraying brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. Unfortunately, there seemed to be an element that everyone was doing little more than marching through the episode from Points A to B. It was obvious that the mere presence of Spike and Cordy was the main plot point, with the rest of the action thrown in as filler material. The script outline seemed to be: investigate a mystery, tell a few jokes, try to duck out of the way of the angry witches, save the day with a few soothing words, cheat death yet once again, tidy up a few loose threads, mix in a little Sam getting all touchy-feely (figuratively) with Dean, The End.

Ensemble, or Lack Thereof. I agree with just about everything Sandra Gonzalez wrote in her excellent review of the episode over at PopWatch. She particularly nailed it when she wrote:
But if you’d tuned in especially excited for the Buffy cameos, as I’m sure many did, I can see how some would think the payoff was minimal. That’s of no fault to anyone specifically — it’s just that as someone who was excited about the event, I would have loved to see more interaction between the guest stars and the main characters.


The best part of the episode — minus the awesome nightmare sequence and the whole bit about Sam running — was watching Sam and Dean interact with the couple. During what can only be defined as the “Dr. Phil” part of the episode, I loved watching Sam and Dean try to help navigate Maggie and Don’s problems and it was a nice parallel to what was going on with the brothers as well. Sadly, this part was only a sliver of the larger episode. More, I say! More!

Okay, maybe I’m being greedy. But in this case, we’re talking about the union of two of the greatest fandoms in the (short) history of genre television — I don’t feel bad about having sky-high expectations. Had we trimmed the subplot about the Forgettable Best Friend, I feel like we could have had a little more time to spend on the main event. In sum, I wouldn’t argue against seeing more Don and Maggie.

My only quibble is that I did not really enjoy the scene with Don and Maggie and Sam and Dean. (Based on early reviews, I seem to be in the minority.) It was a clever set-up, where Sam and Dean were trying to dispense helpful advice while finding out the hard way that it's not a great idea to intervene during the middle of a marital squabble. Unfortunately the scene dissolved pretty quickly into slapstick, where the action went back and forth like a tennis match, with Sam and Dean trying to soothe the married couple, and Don and Maggie taking turns casting mildly debilitating spells on the brothers. I thought the low point occurred when Don (I think) cast a spell that let loose a swarm of bees around Dean's head. Although the brothers achieved their goal of having Don and Maggie patch up their differences, I would have enjoyed the scene a lot more if Sam and Dean hadn't been acting solely out of a sense of self-preservation. Instead of establishing a true rapport with the couple, Sam and Dean were just trying avoid getting killed by Don and Maggie.

James and Charisma in the Future? I mentioned above that I was more intrigued with James' character than with Charisma's character. Having said that, I'm more than willing to sign any petition that comes my way that would ask the producers to bring both of them back for future appearances, particularly since I believe Charisma is capable of delivering a lot more. However, from a coldly clinical perspective, I didn't see anything particularly promising for the future. If the producers want to make the commitment to flesh out the characters and allow James and Charisma to perform to the best of their abilities, I'd be all for it. However, if Don and Maggie would only be brought back as comic relief, then I think I'd have to pass.

Idle Thoughts. I found more of Cordelia in Charisma Carpenter's performance than Spike in James Marsters' performance.

The episode effectively showed that Dean was in a dark place as he grieved over the loss of his friend Castiel and felt remorse for killing Jewel Staite's mostly good brain-eating demon character. I've read in a few places that by not killing Maggie the Witch, Dean had reached a turning point in his character development. If that's what was being presented, then I sure didn't see it that way. If anything, I thought Sam and Dean had decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and that they were lucky to escape with their lives.

Under the "doth protest too much" category, I found a few similarities between what I wrote and what Sandra Gonzalez wrote in PopWatch. Since I honestly didn't see her article until I got towards the end of this post, I opted not to do a massive rewrite.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spike and Cordelia on U.S. TV Tonight

In what I hope is a passing resemblance to Buffy Speak, I've been getting all #Occupation Wall Street-y over at my Wolfram & Hart Hall of Fame blog. This obviously takes time away from I Heart Wesley W-P, which I apologize profusely for.

I'm also toying with the idea of setting up a Twitter account for my blogs.

In the meantime, I'm mourning the hopefully temporary loss of Misha Collins as Castiel in Season 7 of Supernatural, but I'm wildly excited about Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters appearing on tonight's episode in a few hours! Charisma seems absolutely smitten with stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles according to this lovely interview at Zap2It. Writer Carina Adly MacKenzie wistfully notes that this episode provides us viewers with a "what could have been" scenario if Carpenter and Marsters had worked together more at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.