If I Ran The Oscars…

I was never really a fan of the AMPAS’ decision to expand the Best Picture category from 5 to 10. The idea was to help include more populist films (after outcry over the snubbing of The Dark Knight), but at the end of the day, each year, these campaigns still come down to a two-picture race, same as always. And there’s still the awkward issue of Best Director still being limited, keeping some helmers out of contention, despite getting BP noms. So what’s the point of the expansion? Voting has lead up to 8 contenders in 2015, but I’d like to make a guess that if the Oscars were still doing their traditional 5, these would be your true nominees:

 

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/true-noms.jpg?w=690

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Selma

This is based purely on the movies I think people are talking about the most. The Theory of Everything has sort of been an afterthought, so I eliminated it and Whiplash, which also have the fewest nominations besides Selma (more on Selma in a sec). The Imitation Game was tough to cut, too since it has the second most noms, and is practically designed for Oscar bait. It’s a fantastic film, but it just hasn’t gained the needed traction this awards season.

As for Selma, I would like to think that with a trimmer Best Picture category, it gets director recognition after all, instead of the one-note Foxcatcher. But I’d keep The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum over Clint Eastwood, because his work is the tighter of the two. Similar to the 2014 TV edition of “If I Ran…,” I think a special Academy Awards edition is in order. Except the foreign films, docs and shorts, I saw all nominated movies this year! (This includes Mr. Turner, which was almost the death of me.)

But I sort of already went down this road with my What if Comic Book Movies got Oscars article before, so I’ll keep this relatively shorter, with just a handful of additions. I’ve got the other 5 best actors of the year, I’ll note the best movie villains, invent a Best Stunt and Choreography category, announce my favorite screenplays and make predictions for the show. Believe it or not, but I actually think The Oscars was more or less pretty good with most of its nominations.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

gone-girl-2-638Gone_Girl_(Flynn_novel)

Let’s get it right out of the way now, that Gone Girl is a savvy realization of Gillian Flynn’s novel, and this is a film that totally got shafted by the academy for its writing. Well, not only do I think it deserved the nomination, it straight up wins in my view. This is an excellent narrative that kept me guessing the whole way.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

babadook_quad_art_3

For all intents and purposes, The Babadook is my favorite movie of 2014. So naturally, I think Jennifer Kent’s work is the best original effort of the year. No love from the Oscars, probably due to eligibility issues, but for a horror film, a genre that gets no respect, this is one of the finest I’ve seen in ages.

 

THE OTHER BEST ACTORS

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/other-best-actors.jpg?w=1366&h=259

David Oyelowo might be the snub of the year. It is an impossible task to ask someone to play the great Dr.Martin Luther King Jr, but he is astounding. We tend to take Robert Downey Jr. for granted because he’s so natural at what he does, but his performance in The Judge is easily his best post-Iron Man showing. Matthew McConaughey is officially one of the best actors working, but I fear his genius was lost under the weight of Interstellar. You can feel every punch and grunt from Channing Tatum in such a way that feels like he was digging for awards gold. But perhaps nobody pushed themselves harder than Miles Teller. The ferocity with which he plays is overlooked because of JK Simmons.

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN STUNTS AND CHOREOGRAPHY

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/best-stunts.jpg?w=1366&h=179

I think this is a category that legitimately needs to be added. Such recognition would certainly make filmmakers step up their game in terms of creativity and technique. This very thing basically happened with these 5 movies, which had the most thrilling fights, escapes and battles of the year.

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VILLAINY

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/villains.jpg?w=1366&h=214

This is a gag category for sure, but I just love the way it sounds! What if we could reward the best villains of the year? Funnyman Steve Carrell’s transformation in Foxcatcher is not unlike Funnyman Robin William’s dark turn for One Hour Photo. Rosamund Pike’s twisted Amy may have done for marraige what Jaws did for sharks! Jake Gyllenhaal never got that Best Actor nod but I see him here, taking the concept of “self-made man” to new lows. A big reason why Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was my 2nd favorite movie of 2014 had to do with human-hating Ape antagonist Koba. And J.K. Simmons is so good I’d be happy to see him win for the same role twice in one night.

 

[Updated] And now, on to my 2015 OSCAR REPORT CARD. I’ve striked through the ones I missed

Sup. Actor
Prediction: JK Simmons. Want: JK Simmons. Winner: JK Simmons
Duvall’s poop scene, Norton’s method character, great crop of nominees. But Simmons was magnetic

Costume
Prediction: Grand Budapest Hotel. Want: Grand Budapest Hotel. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice also has awesome threads. I’m good either way, but the default prediction goes to the BP nominee

Makeup
Prediction: Foxcatcher. Want Foxcatcher. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
The nose is really the star of the movie. But I think the Academy made the right call on GBH’s efforts.

Art Direction
Prediction: Grand Budapest hotel. Want: Grand Budapest Hotel. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
The look of this movie is the most charming thing about it.

Animated
Prediction: Big Hero 6. Want: Big Hero 6. Winner: Big Hero 6
Even if The LEGO Movie made it on the ballot, I still think Big Hero 6 would beat it. Breathtaking visuals and tons of heart.

Song
Prediction: Selma. Want: Selma. Winner: Selma
It’s not just a sympathy vote. “Glory” really is pretty great.

Score
Prediction: The Theory of Everything. Want: The Intimidation Game. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
I don’t even remember the soundtrack of Theory but everyone insists the votes will split, so…[this was a surprise]

Mixing
Prediction: Whiplash. Want:Whiplash. Winner: Whiplash
Music is a go to, imo, and the jazz in this film sounds AMAZING on theater speakers.

Sound Design
Prediction: Interstellar. Want: American Sniper. Winner: American Sniper
Any movie set in space is all about invention so ‘stellar has got it, but most Sniper’s effectiveness is due to its sound.

Visual Effects
Prediction: Interstellar. Want: Dawn of the Apes. Winner: Interstellar
This is probably the best category of the show. Will be happy with any winner. [Interstellar’s scientifically accurate science fiction surely put them over.]  Here’s a great piece about the “invisible” visual effects of Gone Girl.

Cinematography
Prediction:Birdman. Want: Birdman. Winner: Birdman
Birdman’s long-shot “fake-take” is the most technically impressive thing I took away from it.

Editing
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: American Sniper. Winner: Whiplash
The magic of Boyhood is in the editing, but the jumps forward were kinda jarring, tbh. Sniper’s tension is too good. [biggest surprise of the night for Whiplash. But a pleasant surprise. the tension racked up here is excellent too]

Adapted
Prediction: The Imitation Game. Want: The Imitation Game. Winner: The Intimidation Game
I think this Imitation is one of the best movies of the year. Sadly this is the highest award they can hope to win.

Original
Prediction: Birdman. Want: Nightcrawler. Winner: Birdman
Another loaded category with great noms top to bottom.

Sup. Actress
Prediction: Patricia Arquette. Want: Patricia Arquette. Winner: Patricia Arquette
It was strong, and brave.  I’d like a shout out for Keira Knightley’s work too. And one more supporting actress should have come from Gone Girl  (Kate Dickens, Carrie Coon). Laura Dern for Wild wasn’t needed.

Actor
Prediction: Michael Keaton. Want: Michael Keaton. Winner: Eddie Redmayne
Why are people trying to pretend Michael Keaton isn’t the front-runner? Redmayne’s Hawking is better. Way better. But that’s not who everyone’s talking about, is it? [Sure enough, Redmayne takes it! My reverse psychology worked!]

Actress
Prediction: Julianne Moore. Want: Julianne More. Winner: Julianne Moore
She deserves all the praise she’s getting. It’s a stunning show. But we could have bumped Felicity Jones’ plain wife for The Babadook‘s Essie Davis.

Director
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: Boyhood. Winner: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Linklater stole my idea! There, I said it! [I’d call this a huge upset]

Picture
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: Selma or Whiplash. Or The Imitation Game. Winner: Birdman
They’re flat out better movies. Hell, I’ll take American Sniper too if nothing else, because its zeitgeist-y and will piss people off. But the “Boyhood or Birdman?” debate is not ideal for what I think the best of 2014 was.

[So Birdman takes it, which as I said, was not ideal. I don’t think this movie is representative of the best of the year, nor do I even think it will be remembered in 5 years as anything more than a comeback vehicle for an actor who didn’t even get the award he was supposed to.  Strange win for a strange movie.]

Advertisements

If I Ran the Television Golden Globes…

ilana glazer tumblr_ne8bfl6QZl1tgo8o0o1_500 matthew tumblr_nh5yykZ70y1rtm5jko1_500

In honor of the Golden Globes, I’ve decided to have a little fun, and put together a compilation of my own favorites from 2014’s year in television!

First a disclaimer: This list is only restricted to what I was able to watch in 2014, so nothing is nominated that I didn’t see. But even without seeing everything, I do believe I managed to squeeze in enough programming to have a decent amount of variety- especially the new series. Obviously this is by no means a definitive account of the best shows out there. But my personal opinion on what I’d like to recognize and as being something worth checking out. I’ll be doing the main Drama and Comedy categories like the Globes do, plus a few of my own, including finishing up wit a Top 10 TV Episodes of the Year.  Besides that, I’m not doing any official “winners”, so think of the shortlists more as a Top 5 in each particular category.

 

Alright, let’s do it!

 

BEST TV ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-actress.jpg?w=1366&h=264

There’s a reason Ruth Wilson has been getting a lot of buzz for Showtime’s The Affair. She’s a break out star in the making. The premium channel has a trifecta of female powerhouses, because Claire Danes on Homeland and Eva Green on Penny Dreadful completely own their respective shows. If you’re looking for a chameleon, you’ll find no one better than Keri Russell who slips in and out of many different disguises on The Americans. But its one thing to put on a persona, and its another to completely embody  one. And another one. And another- all on the same show. As Tatiana Maslany would have you discover on BBC’s Orphan Black.  One actress playing 6+ different clones is no easy task, and if I ran the Globes, I’d insure she was nominated every single year.

 

 

BEST TV ACTOR IN A DRAMA

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-actor.jpg?w=690

Charlie Hunnam gave viewers biker prez Jax Teller for 7 years on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. It’s final season is his best work as an actor, and he’s taken through an emotional ringer from beginning to end.  Another great FX show, The Americans  features television’s best kept secret, Matthew Rhys as an undercover Russian spy.  El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a shocker I’m sure, but if anyone saw the way DJ Catrona channels the young George Clooney’s portrayal of criminal Seth Gecko, they would find it incredible. Speaking of incredible, Lee Pace might be my new guy crush on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. The forward-thinking, fast-talking Joe McMillain is the type of entrepreneur  I always wished I could be.  And lastly there’s Matthew McCaugnahey, who lives up to the hype, reconfigures his image, and basically gives a tour-de-force as the misanthropic Det. Rust Cole on HBO’s True Detective.

 

 

BEST TV ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-comedic-actress.jpg?w=1366&h=264

It might be a little unfair to single out Ilana Glazer from Comedy Central’s Broad City.  She and bff Abbi Jacobson are both a pretty hilarious pair, but I give Glazer the slight edge for being the crazy one, which I’m kinda of into. Crazy might be putting it mild in how Wendi McLendon-Covey portrays the smother mother Beverly on ABC’s The Goldbergs. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because she is easily the funniest person on the show. Don’t change the dial, and you can find another enjoyably funny mother and wife on Black-ish. Tracee Ellis Ross is surprisingly fantastic on it. Zooey Deschanel has been killing it as Jessica Day longer than any of the rest of these nominees. Thankfully, Fox’s New Girl has got it’s mojo back in its 4th season. I know I said at the start of the blog that I wouldn’t pick winners, but if I did, my vote would go to Gina Rodriguez, who is a joy on CW’s  absolutely delightful Jane the Virgin. Love her so much!

 

 

BEST TV VILLAIN

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-villain.jpg?w=1366&h=266

So here’s the thing- I didn’t see too much by way of funny men in 2014. Not that there weren’t any at all, but to fill my category, I  just don’t think the guys brought it last year- not like the ladies. So I’ve taken a liberty here, and as a replacement, decided to share something much more fun: My favorite villains from last year. Hannibal‘s Dr. Lecter is pretty much a no-brainer, but there were quite a few nasties that hit the small screen. If you watched FX in the summer, you would have met Jamal Al-Fayeed, a wretched Middle-Eastern bureaucrat who inherited his father’s empire on Tyrant. The cable network also gave us Lorne Malvo, played to creepy Anton Chigurh-like perfection on Fargo. The Cohen brothers should be proud. Rounding out that channel’s chills comes a pair of psychos, Dandy, a Norman Bates-ish mama’s boy and Twisty, a nightmare-inducing clown from American Horror Story. Fox’s Gotham has had it’s ups and downs, but one consistent bit of praise has been Alan Lord Taylor’s take on the infamous Penguin.

 

 

BEST TV THRILLER

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-thriller.png?w=1139&h=657

Keeping with the dark theme, I’d like to take the time here to just express how happy I am to see horror return to prevalence on television. We’ve got everything from From Dusk till Dawn to The Strain cooking up scares, and I confess this is a favorite genre of mine. Not exactly “prestige” programming by any means, you may call these shows my guilty pleasures. Especially The Following, which is equal parts absurdly stupid, and stupidly addictive. I loved the plot with the twins and some of the new characters brought in.

 

 

BEST PRODUCTION

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-production.png?w=1156&h=657

What can I say about Game of Thrones that hasn’t already been said? They are basically the best of the best. Four years strong, and HBO is still finding ways to dazzle viewers with new locations and sets. Highlights this season included the outdoor royal wedding, and the battle at The Wall, which gave a great sense of its entire geography. Watch.

It’s a little timeless, and it was promised to look as good if not better than the movie counterparts. That was the edict for FOX’s Gotham, and just one look at the city in this show, tells me they accomplished their goal. You can read more about it, and the visual contrasts and how they achieved that gloomy atmosphere here.

Coming from the History Channel, I expect a certain level of authenticity with their bold venture into scripted television. Vikings impressively achieves this, thanks to extensive research, and liberties were only taken when it came to what the camera needed to effectively shoot a scene. That’s dedication. Details here.

Steven Soderberg spared no expense in the production of The Knick for Cinemax. That bygone era is palpable from the very first scenes, and I felt like I might be exposed to infection just by watching. To think about how well Old New York is translated here makes my head spin. Check out the brilliant scouting and conversions.

With all the barbarians and grit of shows like Game of Thrones or Vikings, it is AMC’s Turn that truly makes me feel like I have gone back in time. This production is the most impressive I’ve seen from Amc thus far; From the props and furniture, to the costumes and wigs- it’s all impeccable for television. Read more here.

 

 

BEST SUPPORTING TV ACTOR

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-supporting-actor.jpg?w=690

I don’t see many tv movies or mini-series, so my supporting actor and actress categories will just encompass whoever I liked best from any of these shows. And that essentially starts with Andre Holland on The Knick. The struggles of a single black doctor at an all-white hospital in the 1800s is one of the reasons why Cinemax is delivering one of the best new dramas of the year. Another great new drama of course is True Detective. Woody Harrelson never got the attention as co-star with Matthew McCaunaghey, but he’s every bit as good, too. This category gives me the chance to sing the praises of Jonathan Tucker on DirectTV’s Kingdom. The energetic, unpredictable MMA fighter is the best character on the show.  Peter Quinn finally came into his own on Homeland, and we saw Rupert Friend bring more depth to the tortured black ops specialist than ever before. In perhaps the scene of the year, Jimmy Smits’ Nero gets some heartbreaking news on Sons of Anarchy, and in only about 5 minutes, he out acts just about everyone  on television.

 

 

BEST SUPPORTING TV ACTRESS

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-supporting-actress.jpg?w=1600&h=350

I came up with five very under the radar names, whose impact to their shows’ seasons was invaluable. Like Carrie Coon on HBO’s depression drama The Leftovers. As a woman who’s entire family disappeared, the psychology behind what she does is riveting. I’ve had Mackenzie Davis as a lock nominee basically all year for her work on Halt and Catch Fire. The temperamental young programmer is a spunky favorite. I think it’s been a long time coming for Olivia Munn, who I’m as surprised as anybody to have mentioned on here. But I can’t deny the complete reaming she gave on The Newsroom’s “Oh Shenandoah,” and I realize the to-the-point economics analyst has been one of my favorite characters for 3 years. Netflix’s Orange is the New Black gave the ladies’ prison something of a villain in season 2. Vee added a great new dynamic to the interplay of the inmates. Allison Tolman on Fargo had the tall order of matching Frances McDormand’s Oscar-winning cop, and she does.

 

 

BEST TV COMEDY

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-comedy.jpg?w=690

Bringing it back around on the comedy tip, I must say, it has been nice to see shows like Community and New Girl get funny again. But I’m probably most impressed with the turnaround for Modern Family which had gotten stale these past few years. Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to roll pretty strong, with it’s great ensemble and they way they all play off each other. But its the freshmen comedies that did it best for me in 2014.  Black-ish and Broad City both are pretty much laugh riots, and Jane the Virgin’s charming telenovela style and storytelling has basically made it my favorite new show of the fall.

 

 

BEST TV DRAMA

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/best-drama.jpg?w=690

Game of Thrones is consistently good, and with ratcheted up action, an assassination mystery, and some bold moves in new directions, things only look to be getting better. Vikings is a nice counterpart to GoT, and for my money, had one of the best sophomore years of any show. The time jump was a good move, and watching Ragnar deal with traitors and become king was very satisfying. Redemption of the year probably goes to Homeland. After killing co-star Brody, it was unclear how the show could sustain itself, but the wedding bombing and all that came from it brought the series back to it’s glory days. Of the new shows, I was most impressed with The Knick, which is immaculate down to the characters’ speech. Clive Owen pushed medical science forward with his drug addicted Dr. Thackery. Finally, I have Halt and Catch Fire, the new underrated gem from AMC. The Texas set tech drama is loosely based on the personal computer revolution of the 80s, and maybe its the geek in me,  but I never thought coding and engineering could be so exciting.

 

 

And finally, THE TOP 10 TV EPISODES OF 2014

 

10.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-gotham1-7004-590x393.png?w=690

9.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-broadcity_107_never_have_i_ever_640x360.jpg?w=589&h=331

8.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-venom-of-red-lotus.jpg?w=587&h=330

7.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-homeland-13-hours-in-islamabad-s4e10-review.jpg?w=585&h=329

6.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-sons-of-anarchy-suits-of-woe-03.jpg?w=586&h=364

5.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-7-morello-bath-wedding-dress.png?w=587&h=329

4.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-leftovers_bleedingmattandmary.png?w=583&h=326

3.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-true-detective-who-goes-there.jpg?w=584&h=293

2.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-grove-2.jpg?w=582&h=327

1.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/episode-the_viper_vs_the_mountain.jpg?w=582&h=327

 

 

Special Shout-Outs:

CNN’s docu-series The Sixties. The Civil Rights movement, the Space Race, the JFK Assassination, Vietnam, and of course music, headlined by The Beatles, this excellent, informative trip down memory lane is worth anyone’s time- and there’s a lot of material here Ive never seen before.

sixties

The Best of the Rest?

There was so much television I enjoyed in 2014, it’s a shame I couldn’t find spots for everything. The action on The Flash, for instance. Or a great training officer storyline for Andy McNally on Canada’s Rookie Blue. I didn’t miss an episode of BBC’s The Musketeers.  On premium, Boardwalk Empire finished its run, while Masters of Sex continued to show its strength, despite flying under the radar. There were disappointments as well, like CW’s The Originals already getting ridiculous after such a strong first season. Or how much time Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are spending on that farm. Never could get into TNT’s The Last Ship or CBS’s Extant. So as I look at all the shows and actors I’ve talked about in this blog, I am happy with who I’ve chosen to recognize. Hopefully 2015 will be just as good, if not better.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/banner2.png?w=1600&h=165

 

 

Legend of Korra’s Best Non-Avatar Fights

As Legend of Korra comes to an end, one of the things I’m going to miss the most is the unparalleled action- particularly the Eastern-inspired fighting.  The original series, Avatar: The Last Airbender broke new ground in the melding of animation and imagination with their conceit of elemental-based martial arts. LoK took and advanced these concepts, with offshoots like metal-bending, lava, and flight having even more prominence. There have been so many great showdowns on LoK over the seasons, it’s hard to narrow it all down to just 10. The easiest thing to do would be to just list all the finales, when we got epic Avatar-State battles. But I’d like to go more intimate, with the throw-downs that didn’t have to go huge to be effective. Sorting through all the electric gloves and poison rage, I’d like to countdown my favorite fights of the series:

 

Honorable Mentions:

ice dagger

Kya vs Ming Hua (Book 3, The Ultimatum)

Korra-Fighting

The Chi-blocker escape (Book 1, The Revelation)

Legend of Korra: Tonraq vs Unanaq

Brother vs Brother (Book 2, Civil War pt 2)

Lin vs Suyin

Lin vs. Suyin (Book 3, Old Wounds)

 

 

10. Equalists attack the Pro-Bending Arena (Book 1, And the Winner Is)

Amon’s first major terrorist act is one to remember. Season 1 of Legend of Korra had the best animation, because they had the longest time to work on it. You will see these examples in the intricacy of  the combat, showcased best with the non-bending Equalists, who use pure hand-to-hand technique.

 

 

9. Korra vs. Kuvira (Book 4, The Last Stand)

I loved the confined setting of the cockpit for this rematch. And clearly, Korra is ready for Kuvira this time. The skill here in “Round 2” is at the top of it’s game, as Korra burst in, and the fight is a flurry on the senses. But believe it or not, their first confrontation speaks more volumes.

 

 

8. Mako and Bolin stall the Red Lotus (Book 3, The Stakeout)

The “bending brothers” make great use of the environment in this standoff against Ming Hua and Ghazan. A two-on-two fight isn’t very uncommon in the Avatar-verse, so this one stood out as unique, especially with the poolside backdrop.

 

 

7. Bolin Defends the President (Book 2, Night of a Thousand Stars)

Book 2 of Legend of Korra had its problems, but things really picked up in its last episodes, particularly for Bolin, who got his first big hero moment defending President Reiko from kidnapping during his own movie (technically “mover”) premiere!

 

 

6. Lin BeiFong against the Equalists (Book 1, Turning the Tides)

Lin Beifong had a series of jaw-dropping moments throughout Book 1, but my favorite has got to be her defense of Air-Temple island- a true showcase of her earth and metal bending prowess. Additionally, Tenzin’s kids come to help, showing us for the first time what they can do.

 

 

5. Kuvira vs. Suyin (Book 4, Operation Beifong)

The Beifong assault on the Spirit gun bombards the senses with earht-bending greatness, but it’s when Suyin breaks away to move in on Kuvira that things get really stunning. These women are wicked fast, shooting metal at each other in what look like lethal attacks.

 

 

4. Team Avatar vs. the Red Lotus (Book 3, The Terror Within)

In one of the face-offs we’ve been waiting all season for, Book 3’s team of heroes got their first real taste of Book 3’s team of villains, in this confrontation. All elements are used to great effect here, and to my surprise, both sides seemed evenly matched.

 

 

3. Tenzin vs. Zaheer (Book 3, The Ultimatum)

The driving force behind Legend of Korra’s arguably best season was anarchist Zaheer and his new-found ability to bend air. Enlightened and dangerous, everything this villain thinks he knows is put to the test when he faces a true Air-bending master in Tenzin.

 

 

2. Korra vs. Tarlock (Book 1, When Extremes Meet)

With Republic City under civil unrest, and her friends captured, Korra visits councilman Tarlock, brazenly demanding her friends be released. What ensues is the series’ most explosive fight, and Korra actually has her elder beat…until he reveals his shocking, blood-bending secret…

 

 

1. Korra vs. Kuvira (Book 4, The Battle of ZaoFu)

Kuvira was presented as sort of Korra’s villanous counterpart. In some ways they are similar, but in others they are complete opposites- a concept epitomized in this one-on-one face off, which in my opinion, is the series’ greatest. Korra’s fighting is wreckless and predictable, while Kuvira is controlled and calculated. Other elements at play include Korra’s PTSD, Kuvira’s declaration to her onlooking army, and an entire city at stake. What makes this encounter different from all the others (including their “round 2” bout in the series finale) is that it isn’t just a fight. It’s telling a story the entire time. It’s a shocking reality check that sees the Avatar get her butt handed to her, and it’s brilliant lesson to be learned.

7 Ways WWE Survivor Series 2014 Drives Me Nuts…and 1 Way it Doesn’t

PPVs are practically indistinguishable from Raw

My first annoyance is simple. The opening Segment with Vince and the Authority. I’ll never understand why a Pay-Per-View feels the need to have these talky, story segments, when that’s what the weekly shows are for. PPVs should be all about getting straight down to business, and this is a prime of example of my long-running complaint about how their monthly events lose their pageantry and just feel like glorified Monday Night Raws. At least Vince’s talk with Stephanie and Triple H cleared up some questions fans were asking. If they lose, they aren’t still just running things from out of sight (even though they really are). They’d be demoted to ‘desk jobs’, and only John Cena himself could allow for their reinstatement. What a hilarious twist!

 

Not Using What You’ve Got

For the opening 4-on-4 traditional Survivor Series match, Damien “Miz”dow was clearly the draw amongst a series of teams who’s interest is lukewarm at best. (The Usos, Los Luchadores, Gold and StarDust) And, as usual it was fun watching Sandow bounce around while the Miz takes his bumps. All the teams had solid showings, including a somewhat clunky top rope triple suplex/powerbomb.  Everybody got a spot. Except Damien. It’s actually a good idea to tease his tag-in for the audience. They were salivating to see him get in the ring. What wasn’t such a good idea, was dragging the match out and then not letting him fight at all- even though he gets the pin, it’s a poor choice. And speaking of poor choices, whatever Cody Rhodes is doing, starting to lose me with this weird take on his Stardust.

 

Getting everybody from the locker room on the card…just for a paycheck

It started with a toy-promoting skit. Then they did the whole “we’re making a match on the spot!” thing. On the ppv. As if for some reason this is an event that goes to air not completely booked. I never like when WWE pulls this, and I like it even less that it’s a bunch of guys I don’t give damn about. Titus O Niel? Heath Slater? Did we need to see this? What happened to the honor and exclusivity of making a Pay-per-View? Furthermore, it’s just more examples of a PPV feeling like a Raw show and not like a PPV. So we got Adam Rose and his Bunny vs. Two Guys Who Left Their Tag Teams To Go Solo And Find Themselves Back In A Tag Team. The good news is it was mercifully short. And the this stupid party crew thing as actually working into an amusing story. The Bunny is stealing Rose’s thunder!

 

Divas with undefined or unclear roles


Now I will confess that I am a big Diva fan, and I always want what’s best for the division. But it has been mismanaged to the point of absurdity. I actually liked this match okay. Cameron actually got some decent work in before being the first eliminated. Pretty good for someone still just starting. But it’s a little confusing being able to tell which is the “face” team and which are the “heels.” Last I checked, Alicia Fox was a wailing banshee and Natalya was a vindictive bitch. Layla was besties with whoever was popular, and Paige was an up and commer gaining a following while she feuded with nutso AJ. I guess things have changed, but it’s my own fault for blinking. But again, I won’t fault the match itself. Summer Rae has become pretty entertaining to watch. Especially when she gets scared. I liked leaving Paige for last. Naomi continues to impress with her athletic moves. In fact her whole team put in good work with their clean sweep. Alicia, Emma and Natalya all looked great.

 

Matches that go nowhere


The Lunatic Fringe against the Eater of Worlds. These two are supposed future stars, and they can have good matches. But as I watch this, I can’t help but notice the lack of slams that used to be common place in wrestling matches. Perhaps that’s to be expected since that isn’t either of these guys’ styles, but it got me thinking about something that’s been bothering me in the WWE for a while now: It’s a slower system (Especially notable after watching the fast-paced talent on Lucha Underground). Perhaps a response to the injuries and painkiller addictions that have plagued superstars of the past, but WWE fights are more about slugfests. At least it suits Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. So why wasn’t this match better? All I remember is a lot of them both laying around exhausted as if they’d been in an Iron man Match. (And this is actually common of many only-average WWE bouts) Ambrose snaps, gets himself DQ’ed and throws a bunch of tables and chairs on Bray. That’s about it. He doesn’t even jump off the giant ladder he pulled out. Obviously just standing there posing is a sneak preview for the next show. Which brings me to my next annoyance:

 

A Snake eating it’s own tail.

GET MORE EXCLUSIVEShttps://i0.wp.com/k2.shld.net/11201943/ue/home/k_wwe_head_031614.png

The advertising. On a PPV. It’s like paying for a movie and getting interrupted with commercials through it. Again, this isn’t one of their advertiser-dependent cable shows. But we are bombarded anyway.  TLC is already in 3 weeks! This shit is exhausting, the way WWE functions. They can be ironic, redundant, and counter-productive all at the same time. Promoting the next PPV at this PPV. When you’re watching the thing were things are supposed to be settled, and they are already telling you to go watch this other thing.  Prime example of how unimportant these have gotten.

 

When Diva titles don’t matter


AJ get’s kissed by Brie = Boom. Match over. There has to be an explanation for this. I’ll preface this by saying I’m not big on AJ Lee. To me she’s the ultimate definition of a paper champion, and she has no true in-ring ability besides wrapping around her opponent’s body. She’s a glorified fan that they let step into the ring, so I am always more than happy to see her drop that belt. I didn’t expect much of a match to begin with, and yes, there is an element to her not even competing that you can trace back to her time with Tamina Snuka. So I expected something short or a bunch of rest holds. But to have a basically non-match? What the hell happened here? Was somebody injured? Did time run long on one of the others? At least the Bellas are holding gold (I like them), but compared to the Divas who actually competed in the 4-on-4, once again I’m left scratching my head as to why Natalya,  Alicia Fox or even Naomi isn’t holding the current champion. They are far more deserving than anyone else right now.

 

A Masterful Main Event


One of the biggest differences between the old days and what they do now, is that the teams don’t feel like teams. When they come out, they come out one by one, and not together. They are a group of individuals, and they don’t feel like a unit. It pads out the night already filled with too much padding to fill its 3 hours. While the Mark Henry quick elemination was funny, it’s also another depressing example of what has become of his long-tenured career (and the continued burying of African American superstars, but that’s a conversation for another day). Ryback was eliminated first which I should have seen coming. Just like Cameron, he doesn’t have the stamina or skill yet to last long. But after this, the 5-on-5 main event quickly starts to turn into something special. There were some legitimate surprises, like Rusev’s count out, and Big Show’s swerve, and Dolph Ziggler being the last man left for Team Cena (after I had predicted he’d be the first one gone, how about that?) He did kind of take the worst beating, which we all should have assumed considering his work-horse role in the company. The near-falls and finish of the match basically plead a hard case for why Dolph and Seth Rollins need to run a main event program together. They match up perfectly.

But above all of that, came the legend, Sting!

Finally, after 13 years of wondering if it would ever happen (since the acquisition of WCW by WWE), the Stinger stepped foot in a WWE ring. And once the at idiot commentary stopped talking over each other and shut up, it was a hell of a sight to behold…

Sting made a shocking debut at the conclusion of the 2014 WWE Survivor Series.

This was without a doubt the best move the company could make right now, and I think they handled his debut pretty well, despite some internet fan assumptions. He’s got the draw power, which they need big time right now. As a fan of the Authority- especially Stephanie, who was incredibly entertaining- I will miss them (if they really do step down as the top heels running the show). But I think all wrestling fans are in favor of something new to freshen things up. There were some things set up at this PPV that could definitely be it.

The Guiltiest of Pleasures: Desperate Housewives

Desperate-Housewives-desperate-housewives-10039816-1280-1024

Here I go again. Another retrospective! 2004 was just such a great year for new shows. Deadwood, Veronica Mars, Entourage…My favorite of them all was LOST, but right there with it was another ABC debut: a delicious prime-time soap known as Desperate Housewives.

Equal parts hilarious, emotional, and macabre, Housewives scratched an itch in tv viewers they didn’t know they had. Particularly that of the dark underbelly of suburbia. This is by no means new territory, and DH seemed to take its best cues from The Stepford Wives and American Beauty, but there was something undeniably addictive about the tales on Wysteria Lane, and it must say something that a dude like myself never missed a Sunday in 8 seasons.

“Guilty” (1×08) is one of Housewive’s greatest episodes, and that is because it is representative of the impetus of the entire concept of the series:
In an interview with EW.com, Housewives creator Marc Cherry stated, “One night we were watching the trial coverage of Andrea Yates, the depressed Texas mother who drowned her five children in the bathtub. I turned and said to my mom, ‘Gosh. can you imagine a woman being so desperate she would resort to an action?’ My mother took her cigarette out of her mouth and said, ‘I’ve been there.’ That was an astonishing comment to me. She started telling me stories about how desperate she had felt while alone on a farm in Oklahoma with three small children. It suddenly occured to me: If my mother has had feelings like that, then every woman has had those feelings. I thought, ‘I need to write about this.’”

And with that, the pilot’s very first scene opens with Mary Alice turning a pistol on herself, only to become the pitch-perfect, elegant, omnipresent narrator of the entire series. Over the years, the strongest theme to take away from the show is that of sisterhood. Not unlike something one might have gotten from Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives’ quartet of women shared an unbreakable bond that went beyond just being neighbors. They truly felt like sisters to me, and I loved each of them equally, with no true favorite. It is impossible to imagine the show without any one of them.

Personaggi_di_Desperate_Housewives

For a blog that’s a little different, I thought I’d throw together a series of groupings, that I think cover the best (and worst) of this series in some fun ways. There were 4 primary housewives, so there will be 4 primary nominees (some may be more) spread across 15 categories, and concluding with my take on the 15 best episodes of the series. Yes, this is a Desperate Housewives super-blog, and I can’t think of a better way to take another trip down memory Wisteria lane!

SPOILERS FOR THE ENITER SHOW TO FOLLOW


We’ll start with our starring cast. You know how there are 4 basic food groups? Well I believe there are 4 basic elements that defined Desperate Housewives: Humor, Drama, Toughness, and Sex Appeal. And while each of the ladies excelled at all of them, each lady also had one in particular, they were especially good at. In this way, each Housewife represented a characteristic of the show:

HOTTEST HOUSEWIFE

Hottest Housewife

I can’t help but start with something that was hard to ignore. These women are beautiful. Never thought I’d be into the cougar thing, but Desperate Housewives made the concept very appealing. With the exception of Lynette, all the ladies found themselves showing a little skin more often than they probably needed to. But I’m not complaining!

Personal Pick: Gaby Solis

Eva Longoria is hard to deny as the babe of the block. The first actress cast, she was the youngest housewife, and a former model. As a weapon, Gaby was never afraid to play up her sex appeal.

EvaLongoria-001 (8) gabby hot

TOUGHEST HOUSEWIFE

Don't Piss Off

The second of four characteristics, that I think make up the life of the show, was how the ladies handled desperate situations. There wasn’t a day that went by where someone didn’t need to be sneaky or underhanded, or outsmart, or flat-out threaten someone who got in their way. How tough the housewives got is why this show was so juicy.

Personal Pick: Bree Van de Camp

If there was one Housewife I didn’t want to screw with, it would probably be Bree! Tightly-wound, card-carrying member of the NRA, Marcia Cross brilliantly portrayed a bit of a darker streak in her than the other ladies, and even abandoned her own son!

Bree&Andrew2x21

FUNNIEST HOUSEWIFE

EVA LONGORIA

Humor was everything. One of the things that made DH such a breath of fresh air was how funny these women could be (and how outrageous the situations got). I’ll never forget when Lynette ate the marijuana brownies, or Bree shooting George’s speaker. Every housewife has gotten some gut-busting moments, with Gaby and Susan in particular being highlights for seasons on end.

Personal Pick: Susan Mayer

It’s a close call, but Teri Hatcher seemed to almost exclusively get the humorous storylines, and so for sheer number of funny situations, I gotta give it to her. Klutzy Susan was a riot. Getting locked out naked cements her in Housewives history.

Susan Funniest-bushes1

MOST DRAMATIC HOUSEWIFE

Most Dramatic

For as tough, or sexy, or funny as these women needed to be, to bring viewers back, it all came down to great drama to keep us watching. Gaby has had to both lose a child and give one up. Susan crying after Mike in her wedding dress? Unforgettable. And Bree’s alcoholism and continuous husband woes were heartbreaking.

Personal Pick: Lynette Scavo

Sympathy. Misery. Reserve. Nothing quite breaks me to my core like the work Felicity Huffman does as Lynette. Children issues, friction with Tom, there was no plot too big or too small that she couldn’t knock out of the park. And getting the big C pretty much trumps anything the other ladies ever dealt with.

1-08-Guilty-lynette-scavo


Now we are going to get into the supporting players. A well-rounded cast makes for a well-rounded neighborhood, and it makes the whole show come alive. It was a delight to watch our leading ladies play off such talented supporting actors, both young and old.

THE 5TH HOUSEWIFE

5th Housewife

Even though Susan, Bree, Lynette, and Gaby made up the core 4 leads, Edie was always a 5th housewife to stir up the circle, and after her departure, the role was filled by a revolving door of new faces. Katherine Mayfair feuded with just about every woman on the block, Angie Bolen was  mysterious for just season 6, and uber-diva Renee Perry capped off the last 2 years.

Personal Pick: Edie Britt

How could I go with anyone but Edie? The man-eating foil to innocent Susan, when Edie wasn’t playing poker with the girls, she was sometimes even a bit of a villain. The show was never quite the same without Nichollette Sheridan.

Nicollette-Sheridan-in-De-001

BEST HUBBY

Best Hubby

In the case of Desperate Housewives, behind every woman is a good man, and DH had a quartet of unsung heroes that kept the peace (or disrupted it) at home. Even Orson, who only started dating Bree in season 3, was a mainstay that brought a lot to the Van de Camp plotline over the years.

Personal Pick: Tom Scavo

While Carlos was in and out of prison and Mike was in and out of comas, Tom was the most consistent, and thoroughly likeable husband on the show by a mile. How about in episode 6×05 when he tells Roy he lets Lynette control him so she can feel safe. A true epiphany and his finest moment.

FAVORITE DAUGHTER

Desperate Daughters

All the housewives were, of course mothers too and parenting told us as much about the ladies as any of their other antics. But the kids themselves were a handful, particularly the girls. Mother/daughter relationships were a huge theme on Housewives, and even though Gaby got in the game late (thanks to the 5-year jump), she got teenage headaches of her own in dealing with Carlos’ niece Ana.

Personal Pick: Juanita Solis

Julie seemed like a know-it all, and at 10, Kayla was a bitch in the making.  Ana was stuck up, and Danielle was as much of a shit as brother Andrew. The only daughter that I genuinely enjoyed was chubby little Juanita, who was hilarious for her age.

OTHER SERIES REGULARS

Supporting Players

I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out a little love to everyone else (my favorite peripheral cast probably since the citizens of Springfield on The Simpsons). Rex, Bree’s first husband from season 1 was a bit of a jerk, but he’s nothing compared to Susan’s ex, Karl- a lawyer and full on tool (I mean this with love). Karen McClusky was the perfect old lady curmudgeon on the block, and when couple Bob and Lee moved in, they gave a great outsider’s perspective to the madness in Fairview.


Okay, time for a detour. I’m going to kind of rant about some of the things I didn’t like about Desperate Housewives- because let’s face it, it wasn’t perfect. DH did a lot of things right, but they also did some things badly. This was a show that went from being a #1 phenomenon to taking a ratings hit year after year. We can look at some of the reasons why.

DUMBEST SHORT-TERM STORYLINES

Dumberst Short-Term Storyline

Every once in a while there were plots that popped up that just made me go “What?” and not in the good way. Mercifully, they were arcs that only lasted about half the season or less. And deservedly, they were storylines that most fans completely forget about when looking back on the show.  But they happened, and they were awful.

Like Mike’s coma, and then his amnesia. Amnesia. The worst possible thing television does to its characters. A lazy tv trope to create false drama that is a huge writing pet peeve of mine. But I guess Desperate Housewives wouldn’t be a soap without one. And during this amnesia, Susan was running around with some British twat named Ian. The idea wouldn’t have been so bad if Terri Hatcher had even an ounce of chemistry with Dougray Scott. Less offensive was mustached twin Preston Scavo coming home with a beautiful, gold-digging wife. None of that sentence even makes sense as I type it. Go figure this was from season 6 (which I will get to later).  Lastly, out of nowhere, at the end of Season 7, Gabrielle’s sexual predator step-dad pops back into her life. Why a child molester would stalk an adult years later is beyond me, but this creep was super lame. At least his murder lead to a pretty good storyline for the final season (I’ll get to that later, too).

DUMBEST LONG-TERM STORYLINES

Dumbest Long-Term Storyline

Tougher to sit through were the bad plots that lasted all year long- and in some cases across a couple seasons. I did not look forward to visiting the storylines that stunk up episode after episode for extended periods of time. Unfortunately,  these are harder to forget; DH lowlights that even objectively have to be seen as just bad television.

Like Carlos losing his sight. Ridiculous. A consequence of the tornado episode, we had to suffer through Gaby’s husband having to be blind for what seemed like forever.  This was never convincing or believable, and while we’re all thankful he got his sight back (huh?), it just further highlights how pointless it was to lose it in the first place. You wouldn’t be a Housewife husband without taking abuse on this show, and Orson was crippled after the infamous plane crash (kinda) hit him. Yes, it is just as absurd as it sounds. Sadly, Orson did not get revived like Carlos did, and was an invalid for the remainder of the series. More realistic, yes, but it did a terrible number on the Bree segments of the show.

Confession: I never liked the pizzeria. Never. Tom’s bright idea was a new location for the cast in season 3, but it just never rang true to the characters for me, and also housed the hated almost-affair Lynette entertained. And then you have the Applewhites… The season 2 mystery of a retarded guy locked in a basement did not go over well, but even worse was the negative subtext-  the neighborhood became uncomfortable because a black family moved in. I know the show didn’t mean this on purpose, but the racial connotations made many, including myself, uncomfortable, and some say, Desperate Housewives never recovered.

THE WORST THING ABOUT SEASON 6…

Worst Thing About Season 6

But as bad/embarrassing as DH’s sophomore slump was, it was nothing compared to the fiasco that was season 6- what I believe to be the worst year of Desperate Housewives.

Terrorists posing as a family. That should do it right there. But if you want more, there was Eddie, the Fairview Strangler, Sam, Rex’s illegitimate son, Katherine randomly turning into a lesbian (after 2 ex husbands, and being so obsessed with Mike? Ok..), and Dominic and young Julie having an affair, the blackmailing RN. The earlier mentioned Preston and Irina engagement. Orson in the wheelchair. Killing off Karl. Ana the bitch. The Susan’s-in-a-fat-suit episode. I just can’t do it.

Now Season 6 wasn’t all bad. I really did like Drea DeMatteo as Angie. She was tough but sensitive. A love interest, Roy, was brought in for Mrs McCluskey and they hit it off. Dana Delany was still killing it as Katherine, despite her cray-cray storylines. And Bree’s affair with Karl was a ton of fun. But that disaster of a finale, which saw a bomb re-wired, Lynette go into labor as she was being held hostage (yay for clichés), by the very serial killer she took in, and a baby switcheroo, pretty much embodied how over the top DH had got up to that point.


Now, let’s switch gears again, and get back to the good stuff. This next section is going to look at some of the better aspects of the show. Namely, the stuff that was water-cooler worthy. If Desperate Housewives was known for one thing, it was known for how juicy it was. Here are some of the plots and characters that got audiences buzzing.

HUNKIEST HOOKUP

Hunkiest Hook-Ups

Naturally, There were a lot of steamy relationships on DH- too many to narrow down to just 4. But aside from Susan’s sexual romps with painter Jackson, or Renee’s steamy flirtation with Aussie Ben, re-watching the show has made me notice one main thing: Bree was a player! After Rex died, she’d see her share of action, but outside of the stability of Orson Hodge, her main affairs came from Keith, a handyman 20 years her junior, Chuck the police detective investigating her own cover up, and her best friend Susan’s ex husband, Karl!

Personal Pick: Gaby and John the Gardner

For my money, there’s nothing like the O.G. scandal that got people talking. Saucy Gabrielle was getting tossed by her own teenage gardener, and the risk of getting caught by temperamental Carlos was too delicious to miss.

Gabby and John

BEST VILLAIN

Best Villain

It’s odd to think about a series like this having characters you could classify as “villains”, but that’s exactly what we got for 8 seasons.  Evil doers, malcontents, and just some straight up sketchy figures- almost all of them hiding behind smiles (and isn’t that the definition of sinister?)

In my most extended category, I’d included antagonists both big and small. George the pharmacist and the Applewhites from season 2, Mayor Victor Lang from S3, late-season pop ups, Wayne and Patrick  from seasons 4 and 6 respectively…and Dave Williams’ vengeance quest from season 5, a slow burn that I think plays a lot better upon revisit.

Personal Pick: Paul Young

Was there really anyone else? Paul Young was a fantastic prime suspect in the first season’s main mystery. But even after he was incarcerated (after being wrongfully accused), in season 7 he returned with a plot to destroy the entire lane. Truly maniacal stuff.

paul-500-x-281

FEISTIEST FEUDS

Fiestiest Feuds

What drives good television better than a great rivalry? Desperate Housewives has mixed and matched many type-A personalities to create some deviously fun results. Often they are in battle with guest stars, but almost all the housewives  have butted heads with themselves at one point or another. These are my favorite 4:

  • Susan vs. Edie (seasons 1-5) Basically her entire time on the show, Edie tormented poor Susan. The fought over the same men, and even burned each other’s houses down!
  • Gaby vs. the nun (season 2) Sister Mary Bernard pulling Carlos away from Gaby was a cute little storyline, that came to an unforgettable catfight in “There’s Something About a War”.
  • Bree vs. Katherine (seasons 4 and 5) The fun fact is that Dana Delany was up for the role of Bree. But this worked out so much better, Bree had never needed to contest an equal before.
  • Paul Young vs. Felicia Tilman (seasons 2 and 7). This was just like watching two villains go at it. Felicia wanted revenge for what Paul did to her sister. From cutting off her fingers, to planting her daughter as his wife, Tilman was relentless.

TOP SEASON MYSTERIES

Best Season Mysteries

Desperate Housewives’ lifeblood was the season mystery. Often driven by murder or some tragic history, the past came back to haunt Wisteria Lane in some surprisingly creative ways. As we’ve already discussed, some of these mysteries fell flat. But at least half of the 8 seasons had a solid through-line to work with. Here they were:

  • Mary Alice’s Suicide (season 1). The note and the nosey neighbor. A prime suspect in Paul Young. A troubled teen in Zach. Nothing beats the first season’s mystery box.
  • The truth about Orson (season 3). Before marrying dentist Orson Hodge, Bree needed answers- about running over Mike, about his ex (and his mom). And it was too much!
  • The Dylan Mayfair secret (season 4). An ex-cop, a dead baby, and the most surprising twist in the show’s run. Katherine’s family intrigued in a way the Applewhites never could.
  • The Housewives’ cover up (season 8). Creepy step-dad Alejandro may have sucked, but after his death, the girls finally find themselves directly involved in the season’s mystery for their final year.

And finally, we come to the best episodes of Desperate Housewives. I wanted a Top 10, but I had to expand, because there was some great stuff I just didn’t want to miss. I certainly had an idea which my favorites would be, but after rewatching the entire series, a lot changed. Some episodes are stronger on second viewings. Others are actually weaker. Some of the most memorable only really had one moment and the rest is just filler. While some underappreciated gems run on all cylinders from beginning to end. We’ve got finales, we’ve got the ‘event’ episodes…but most importantly, we’ve got the 15 finest hours of one of the best shows of the past 10 years. Enjoy!

15. A Spark to Pierce the Dark (5×18)Edie-Death708584

This one is known mostly for being the episode that killed off fan favorite Edie. Nicholette Sheridan was infamously on her way out of the show, so I’m not sure how much of a surprise this was. The episode itself is rather mundane (don’t get me started on Orson’s kleptomania) until the big ending. The car crash is great, but the electrocution feels like overkill (and it looked silly). Still, there’s no denying this episode’s popularity.

14. You Take for Granted (8×16)teri-hatcher-james-denton-desperate-housewives-abc

It’s another major death, and this time, it’s Susan’s long-time love, Mike Delfino. I still kind of resent that the show killed him off- hadn’t they put him through enough over the years? And the fact that it was some random loan sharks tied to Ben’s dumb construction storyline makes me madder. but I shouldn’t ignore the fact that the episode itself is very well made, and the emotional gut punch lands hard.

13. Finishing the Hat (8×23)Finale_31

Series’ last episode had a little bit of everything. A death (Karen McCluskey), a birth (Julie’s baby- let’s ignore the fact that Porter is the father), a wedding (Renee, going bridezilla before tying the not with Ben)- kind of all the finale clichés we’ve come to expect from tv shows. But the future of our friends, and that last lap around the block with the ghosts of the past… Finishing the Hat still had that distinct Housewives charm, and the closure for each character was heartwarming and satisfying.

12. Free (4×17)                                                                   free

Aired back to back as a two-hour season finale with Gun Song, the episodes work in tandem regarding two particular plots- Lynette sending Tom’s daughter Kayla away and how that effects their relationship,  and psycho cop Wayne holding Katherine hostage in her own home- all while Bree is trying to cater Bob and Lee’s commitment ceremony. Despite the writer’s strike cutting this season short, this was an exciting couple of hours.

11. Down the Block There’s a Riot (7×10) down the block

Season 7 was all about what Paul Young was up to, and when we learned he planned on destroying Wisteria Lane, it was kind of cool to see him mastermind a destructive riot, simply by playing off the anxieties and prejudices of the neighborhood residents. (A Halfway house on the lane? Never!) Several housewife storylines are caught in the mix, including Juanita running away, Susan getting trampled, and Bob and Lee as pariahs.

10. Bang (3×07)bang

Incredibly popular, Bang sort of kicked off DH’s yearly tradition of “event” episodes. This one was a hostage situation in a supermarket. Upon re-watch, I wish it wasn’t played for so many laughs (the tone doesn’t really shift until Nora gets shot), and I wish the episode was told linearly instead of starting en media res. But it is because of that surprising great kill, and Lynette’s retching performance afterwards, that keeps this one a contender.

9. Boom Crunch (6×10)boom crunch

Boom Crunch was a bit of a mixed bag for Housewives fans. A tornado, a fire…Some people were jaded with the ‘disasters’ that kept happening on this street, and a plane crashing into the neighborhood Christmas celebration was just too much. But for others like me, it was yet another can’t-miss hour of tv, that brought out the best in the show. And the only worthwhile episode of season 6. Like other big events, this served to resolve storylines (Lynette fired by Gaby and Carlos was a great one) while setting up new ones. (Still mad about Karl)

8. Mirror, Mirror (5×05)            Mirror_Mirror

Mileage may vary regarding your appreciation of the enigmatic Dave Williams. As it aired, his mystery unfolded too slowly, but upon re-watch, it is impressive how calculated he truly was. Mirror, Mirror is a great collection of non-linear stories, and does what 5×01’s You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow didn’t: flesh out what happened during the 5-year jump instilled at the very end of Season 4’s finale. But the main plot sees Dave stage a surprise party for Karen McCluskey, the only resident who’s on to him. How he outsmarts her is genius, making her look as if she’s gone senile to the rest of her friends.

7. Now You Know (4×01)           Now You Know

Lynette was diagnosed with cancer at the end of season 3, but it was the season 4 premiere, that really dealt with it head on. Her inadvertent reveal to her friends is a moment not to be missed. Now You Know is excellent, since we see the fallout from Edie’s suicide attempt, Katherine Mayfair returns to the lane, Gaby shows she’s unhappy with Victor, and Bree hilariously keeps up her pregnancy charade. Two words: pillow and fork, lol!

 6. The Game (4×03)Game_night.jpg

I was hooked once Bree sent Susan to a shady obgyn clinic on the bad side of town. A personal favorite of mine, The Game is the closest thing Desperate Housewives gets to a bottle episode. Bree vs Susan, Katherine vs, Gaby, and Lynette’s weed brownies (one of my all-time favorite scenes). And there was the power play between Edie and Carlos that kind makes me feel bad about the whole situation. In one hilarious night, tensions come to a boil.

5. Pilot (1×01)                                   Maryalice_3

The concept is ‘Practically perfect in every way,’ and then, with a gun to the head, a phenomenon is born. At the time of its airing, there wasn’t anything quite like Desperate Housewives. Sure, it felt very familiar, the dark side of suburbia is nothing new- and yet DH presented it in a fresh way. The humor, the intrigue, and much of all I’ve already talked about was too delicious to miss. Incredibly addictive, the debut episode of Desperate Housewives is one of the best pilots in TV history.

4. Remember (2×23, 2×24)  remember

Because Season 1 was so great, season 2 was inevitably going to be seen as a disappointment. I have my issues with how the mystery unfolded, and a lot of its offensive undertones, but revisiting it, there is still some pretty good stuff to be found. Namely in its finale, Remember, which is surprisingly excellent. The twist is a genuine surprise, but the coolest thing about it is this is the episode that shows us when each Housewife first moved to the lane.

3. One Wonderful Day (1×23)                                                                                        one wonderful day 

At the height of its popularity, the season 1 finale drew over 30 million viewers. And no one left disappointed. The Mary Alice mystery was solved in a masterful way, Gaby’s affair with John came to a head, as Carlos was taken to jail, Bree lost her husband Rex (her reaction has to be seen to be believed), and Susan was held hostage by Zach.

2. Something’s Coming (4×09)Somethings Coming

“It was supposed to be a beautiful day…” And so opens arguably the biggest/ most epic episode Desperate Housewives ever produced. The season 4 event followup to Bang, took things bigger, with an all-out catastrophe, that most other tv just doesn’t even try.  Gaby vs. Edie for Carlos’ offshore account, Mike losing it at the hospital because of Susan, Lynette begging Mrs McClusky for shelter, and the Carlos vs Victor fight (who was a lot like Paul Young now that I think about it). Thankfully, Something Coming is genuinely exciting, with the impending tornado, accentuated by all the chaos going on in the Housewives’ lives.  The only thing keeping this spot from #1 is that annoying stalker, Sylvia harassing the Mayfairs.

1. The Best Thing That Could Have Happened (5×13)the best

When I pick a #1 episode, the thing I look for, is how does it best embody everything about that show? On my LOST article, fan favorite ‘The Constant’ isn’t tops because it doesn’t showcase the ensemble cast, and doesn’t really give you a sense of what LOST is really all about. The Best Thing That Could Have Happened does that in spades for Desperate Housewives.

The genius thing about this episode, is it can be viewed as a stand alone, completely out of context from committing to the entire series. Eli Scruggs, a local handyman that we only ever meet here, is retconned into the backstories of each housewife, and we see, in some small ways and some big, how he affected their lives. You’ll get the full DH spectrum from humor to tragedy, viewing all these stories, and Beau Bridges brings a warmth to Eli that few characters have. It is nice for a change, to watch a death that is touching instead of shocking. The Best is underrated because it is deceptively simple. Just all about one person making a difference. But when I saw the catalyst for what puts Eli on his path, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing with my own life. If you only watch one episode of Desperate Housewives, let this be it.

DH-banner-desperate-housewives-19626589-945-118

So that will wrap me up. Whew! 8 seasons, 180 episodes. What an exhausting undertaking.  Weekly poker games and gossip seemed light-hearted enough, and the occasional face off between ladies was wickedly fun to see who would come out on top. A dead body hidden under the stairs. A Nooner on top of the washing machine. Who knew suburbia could be this much fun?  I’d like to thank Marc Cherry, the brilliant cast, and everyone involved with delivering this excellent prime-time drama to such a significant chunk of our lives.

Take it to the Bank: The ‘Boys over The ‘Hawks

Big Game this Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys visit the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle, as the defending Superbowl Champions, are the favorites to win. It doesn’t hurt that they are playing at home, where they never lose, in the loudest stadium on Earth. And yet, I’m putting my money on the Cowboys. Those mediocre, 8-8 players who have somehow managed to get one of the best starts in football this season.

 

Is this based on bias? Perhaps. Nevermind that I kind of hate that loudmouth Sherman, who seems to have no respect for the people he plays against. (Dez Bryant will handle him, so I’m not even worried about it.)  Nevermind that I actually live in Dallas. This is about the play of both teams. I don’t believe the Seahawks are who they used to be; I even kind of thought they were overrated last season too. Their playoff success was as simple as only playing 2 games at home where they are near invincible- I stand by that they never would have made it, if they had to do this on the road.

https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/05b43-dezz3.gif

Simply looking at the product on the field, Seattle just isn’t as impressive as the Cowboys right now, who are finding all sorts of ways to win. they’ve even proved their come-from-behind mettle with some great clutch performances in late games. Call it hubris, if you want, but the Seattle is who I think they are, and now, finally the rest of the country is going to see that come 4:25 et Oct 12th.

GO COWBOYS!

 

Awesome Anniversary: a look back at L O S T

Jurassic Park meets Survivor. That’s what it initially looked like to me.

lostabc

When ABC debuted its new series LOST on September 22, 2004, I thought I had a pretty good idea what I was going to get. The ads showed a plane crash. survivors. and something scary in the jungle. This would be a primetime thriller that could be a fun way to spend weeknights. What caught me by surprise was just how dramatic this show would get. How much I would care about the characters. And how impressive a tv budget can be. LOST may not have invented the wheel, but it changed the television landscape at a time when programming was boring me.

I think one of the beautiful things about LOST is it has a little something for everyone. It’s science. It’s religion. It’s supernatural. It’s action. It’s romance. It’s pretty addictive, and years later, as the dust settles on a very polarizing finale, I find, having re-watched it recently, that it still completely holds up. Is it perfect? no. Your mileage will vary depending on what matters most to your viewing enjoyment. If mysteries, questions and answers dominated the way you watched, you’re inclined to be more disappointed by the time its all over. Many have gone so far as to write-off the entire series just because of the ending. But if story and emotion rules the day, you will come away much more satisfied with the journey of these amazing and unique characters. This is where I fall, and even though  I’d love to say and discuss about the entirety of this amazing program, I’d like to at least briefly, take a look back at LOST’s run, and point out some highs and lows.

The first thing I’d like to note is that the non-linear narrative can be viewed in chronological order if you know where to look. That’s just what I did, and surprisingly, it holds up. Not every single little thing connects, but for the most part- and we’re talking close to 90% here- the writers actually did a commendable job of making sure all the stories and all the timelines actually sync up. Nowhere is this more apparent then the simple tracing of John Locke’s receding hairline throughout the years.

Now, for the observations:

 

Across the Sea still sucks. “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question”- Mother. Compared to the rest of the series, this exposition dump of an episode just tries to hard, while still deciding to be frustratingly elusive. Equal parts obvious and vague, I actually have a whole review I wrote about it at the time of airing, and re-reading it, I still agree completely with me.

across the sea

Jin and Sun’s backstory is way more clear. The added hurdle of a language barrier made it tricky to follow when broken up in chunks. It also didn’t help that so many of their flashbacks played with time already. Thankfully, it still doesn’t change the fact that they are my favorite LOST couple.

jinsun

1977 works as a singular story. Season 5 is easily my least favorite of the show. I didn’t care for the time-jumping, and the Dharma Initiative backstory was confusing juxtaposed with The Others. But seeing it this way clears up quite a bit, and makes for some of the most fun nods later on, when we see bits and pieces of the remains of their once thriving community. This is also Sawyer’s strongest material. Loved the relationship with him and Juliet.

dharma Sawyer_and_Juliet_in_shock_due_to_missing_freighter

Jacob’s little visits don’t fit in. The story flow has such a groove to it. And Lost is so naturalistic most of the way. So any time Jacob pops in to “touch” one of the characters (who we later learn will be his ‘Candidates’) it feels very out of place, and only serves to remind me who much I disliked just about everything that had to do with him and his mystic mumbo jumbo.

Things like Jack and Sarah, as well as Juliet’s recruitment, contain so much heartbreak. Hurley’s stories don’t carry the weight that many of the others do. Sure, this is probably intentional because Hugo was more of the comic relief guy, but, stuff like the invisible friend, or the meteorite hitting his chicken shack is just dumb and absurd. And that’s saying something with a show that features a smoke monster. And this may be the fault of Jorge Garcia, but even when things are supposed to get dramatic for him, I’m unsure if they are meant to play for laughs.

Michael’s story is more sympathetic (his ex did him wrong) and Locke’s story arc is all the more tragic. It’s nothing but a series of rejections, and between his father and the kidney, to losing Helen, and being turned away from the walkabout, he’s a sad man, who’s purpose- or search for purpose on the island feels even more meaningful. Although it should be noted he’s not in the wheelchair for that long a time in his life.

lost-adrift_1244842389 800px-6x12_AnInjuredLocke

 

The buildup to the fateful flight is most exciting watching chronologically, with multiple perspectives, including The Others prepping on the ground.

Season 1 still stands out for its impeccable writing and smart, characters. The dynamic and tension between these strangers feels very organic.

Surprisingly, the hated Nikki and Paulo feel more natural, when they’re integrated in (in fact, Nikki’s Expose intro is kind of awesome). They still disappear for long chunks, and at the very least, should have been there for important group moments like the raft launch, or the funerals.

If the LOST seasons were a set of kids, a group of friends, Season 2 would be the bad  boy of the bunch. This is the season with a little more attitude, and a little more edge with the tension about The Others. The body count racks up, and characters are betraying each other more than ever. It even screws with the audience, playing with the idea that the Island was all in Desmond’s head, and introduces Michael Emmerson, who will be a long-form villain of the series going forward. Not for nothing, the actresses who played Ana Lucia and Libby had to be written off after getting busted in real-life with DWIs, and there were rumors, actor who played Mr. Eko didn’t get along with the rest of the cast. At least Mr. Eko gets a great full-circle story that comes to a satisfying close, perhaps more than any other character.

lost_season_2_blu-ray_1 -2-07-The-Other-48-Days-lost-25964229-1260-710

This exchange is one of my favorites:

Locke: “Why do you find it so hard to believe?” Jack: “Why do you find it so easy?” Locke: “It’s never been easy!” This pivotal argument basically acts as the mission statement for the entire series, and the clash of these points of views will be the strongest theme to run through the rest of the show.

So if Season 2 is the bad boy, Season 3 is the misunderstood middle child. Sure, it drags in places, there is too much filler. No we didn’t need to know about how Jack got his tattoos, but we also didn’t need to know why Desmond called people “brother” and we didn’t need an entire episode dedicated to Locke’s smoke teepee because he suddenly can’t speak anymore. But it’s hard to deny that the time our heroes spent in those cages wasn’t fascinating, building the love triangle even stronger. After the mid-season break, just about everything clicked. Juliet was a breakout new character, and Jack stuck his neck out for her. The submarine, the barracks, the sonic fence, I think this is LOST’s most fascinating season, and it builds brilliantly to the death of charlie and the game-changing flashforward (Through the Looking Glass); S3’s finale is easily the best of the series, and that’s saying something because Lost was masterful at finales.

Lost Season 3 Wallpaper

Things only ramped up from there. The war with Charles Whidmore and the oncoming freighter. the splitting of the camps, and Locke in a leadership role were all great new developments. Season 4 was the first since season 1 to get an Emmy nomination for Best Drama again, and boy did they deserve it. It holds The Constant, which many, including the creators think is the best episode of the series. For my money, The Shape of Things to Come is probably my favorite episode ever, though. Desmond’s hysteria can wear me out from time to time.

409-alex-keamy-01  daniel_faraday_from_lost-1523 

I enjoyed Daniel Faraday quite a bit. But he can be annoyingly cryptic. Sometimes he- and other characters need to just spit it out. Him and Penny being half-siblings is one coincidence too many, though.

o6

The Oceanic 6 was an awesome conceit. That homecoming scene…nice to see old faces again like Jack’s mom, Cheech Marin as Hurley’s dad and later, Walt, although his presence is probably the just a reminder of what an elephant in the room he really is.  the boy is a walking bag of unanswered questions, and missed opportunity.

Sayid the assassin! Just when I thought he couldn’t get any more badass.

sayid

The Jacob stuff is popping up again more, and again, I reiterate that it still kind of a mess, and feels out of place. I think as it goes on the show only reinforces how much it is about the characters. I really do wonder if this is aspect of the mythology is a miscue by the writers. The island “needing” people to run it? Come on.

lost_the-incident_jacob

The quest to get back to the island is pretty elaborate and complicated, so I appreciate that it wasn’t easy and it took it’s time getting everyone back together as organically as possible. All pulled together by the tragic Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.

Season 6’s new characters were kind of annoying (Ilana, Baum), but it had a couple of new people I wish could have been around much longer (Togen, Zoey). The Man in Black posing as John Locke was a pretty horrifying proposition, and I loved the way they played with that. Going back to the If The Seasons Were People analogy, (let’s call S1 the prodigal first-born, and s5 the artsy weird one) S6 is the under-appreciated hidden talent. Because some whiners were so upset by the finale (which in itself is an epic 2-parter that still goes bigger than any other show I can think of), they forget that up to that point, LOST was firing on all cylinders, (La X, The Substitute, Dr Linus, The Candidate) offering some of the best episodes, performances, swan songs, and greatest hook (what are the flash-sideways?) of the series.

Lost-season-6-Blu-ray-4  lost-church-520x346

I’ll end with some of my thoughts I wrote back in 2011 after the show ended, because I still stand by these views:

Based just on what everyone has had to say about LOST, makes it something that you can’t really do with other shows. The Shield? Breaking Bad? The Sopranos? The Wire? If I could sum up the singular greatest achievement LOST was able to pull off its this:

They did it without having to be on cable.

Without the racy language or graphic violence. Without the nudity. Going to the HBO well is a little too easy in my opinion. Cable has an advantage with more storytelling freedom. Yet LOST managed to place itself among the elite without those advantages. Hell, the constrictions make the show more creative, and more accessible for a wider audience. If you were to look at the legacy of all the shows in your own personal ‘Top 10s’ how many of them were truly innovative? How many have left an indelible mark on the television landscape forever? How many of them spawned copycats? How many of them can you actually talk about with friends and they’ve actually seen it? There’s only a handful, I’m sure.
I actually love that the end is left open for interpretation, as is the entire series, which was above all else, more about the journey itself. Not many other shows can say that. A mixed reaction for sure, but is polarizing a bad thing? The emotion and reaction this show can stir, the relationship with its audience- unparalleled.
A more ambitious show has never been made.

 

 https://geekwithabs.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/a3535-lost-season-6-promo-poster-lost-8120940-1440-900.jpg