Saturday, November 17, 2012

Char Watches Sons of Anarchy: Pilot

I need another show like I need a sucking chest wound.

BUT, y'all know me, I can't stay away. TV is my life. Sue me.

And that is why, on this fine Saturday evening, I started the series Sons of Anarchy. I've heard so many great things about it, how could I resist? And with the preexisting knowledge that it involves cute guys in leather jackets on motorcycles... well. I had to at least see what all the fuss was about, right?

I have also been striving to write more, so I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to work on my television critique.

I'll try to update every few episodes, so bear with me as I slip into my unhealthy habit of obsessively watching a show. They don't call it Charlotte-ing a show for nothing! (No one calls it that.)

Okay, here goes nothing. Oh, and, SPOILER ALERT!

Pilot episodes. Always a thrill. The scene is set and our main peeps are introduced. Usually the viewer is confused for about twenty minutes. Are pilots considered hit or miss these days? I know a lot of people judge a show by its pilot, especially when it's first airing. The beginning of any TV season is always filled with harsh critics either berating or applauding pilots left and right, and many declaring lukewarm feelings of, "I guess that intrigued me enough to give it another shot next week."

Watching shows from the beginning that already have the first four seasons on Netflix Instant, like SoA, is a different story. We've already heard many opinions on the series, usually only good things if we're giving it a chance. Either way, though, pilots can be quite the wild ride.

As this was! I loved it. Then again, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to TV, and I always like to give a show at least its first season before I end the relationship (which, when you think about it, probably makes me a bad TV critic. Good thing that's what I want to do with my life...... but I digress).

We've got our main man, Jax Teller (short for Jackson, played by Charlie Hunnam), who plays a dominant role in a southern California bike gang known as, you guessed it, the Sons of Anarchy. They reside in a smaller town known as "Charming," and they pretty much run the show. Er, the town. You know what I mean. We get a glimpse of gun running along with paying off cops to do their dirty work, although they do stress the fact they don't want drugs in their town.

The boss of the "club," as they refer to it more than once, is a gruff dude by the name of Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). He's sort of Jax's father figure, in more way than one--he's banging Jax's mom Gemma (Katey Sagal), another prominent character. We learn that Jax's father passed away some time ago in a motorcycle accident, but I'll talk more about that in a bit.

Clay and Gemma seem very... scheme-y already, and their king and queen status might be clouding their view on what's best for Jax. I guess we'll see.

Just in the first episode, Jax is beginning to look like one of my favorite types of characters: the troubled, dark past, deep in shit kind of guy who really is just a softie at heart. Very similar to one Jesse Pinkman, although Jax is more confident and self-assured. Perhaps we'll see a sort of Walt-Jesse relationship with Clay and Jax? Yet I can't see Jax letting Clay walk all over him like Walt does with Jesse, but there were a few instances already where Clay has put pressure on Jax to do something he doesn't really feel necessary.

It quickly becomes apparent that Jax is expecting a child with his junkie ex-wife Wendy. While going through some old family storage to find some baby stuff, he comes across a box of his dad's belongings--pictures, journals, and interestingly, a script for a novel about the Sons of Anarchy. It even has a dedication to his two sons, one named Thomas who the dedication hints has already passed away (intrigue) and to Jax, saying he hopes that Jax will never have to live the same kind of life. Hmmm..... Jax brings it up with his mom, professing his findings that his dad, who was also a prominent leader of the Sons of Anarchy, had different plans for the club. More peaceful, less violent. "Real hippie stuff," Jax calls it. Being the softie he is (I hope), he seems interested in pursuing that kind of future for the gang, but his mom tells him that was just kid stuff and Jax needs to be a man, blah-blah-blah. I already don't like her.

The junkie ex-wife goes into premature labor, and a baby boy is born with serious problems and only a 20% chance of making it. A cute young doctor named Tara (who played Rachel Menken of Menken's Department Store in Mad Men, one of Don's many love interests) who is obviously close to Jax in some way, helps out with the baby's surgeries and he ends up being okay in the end! And his name is Abel, which is badass. We get the sense that Tara used to be part of the gang life in some way, back before she turned her life around and became a doctor I guess. Gemma hates her, go figure.

One very notable scene--Gemma goes to the detoxing Wendy in the hospital and is a straight up BITCH to her. She almost strangles her and says in a very low, scary voice: "That child will never call you Mommy." She even slips her a needle of heroin, basically encouraging Wendy to kill herself, and we see her overdosing in her hospital bed. Not sure if she survives or not. Either way, it was intense.

Anyway, that's pretty much the gist of it. Throw in a gun fight and some explosions and you got yourself a great TV pilot. I look forward to continue watching and writing!

-Charlotte <3

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post-Halloween Halloween #BtVSdrinking Game!!!

Well, it's two days after October 31st but I bet you have yet to celebrate Halloween.... BUFFY STYLE!!

So please join me (@BuffyQuotes101) and Sarah (@sarekins) on twitter tonight at 9:00 pm eastern time to play round 3 of #BtVSdrinking!!

We will be watching all three Buffy Halloween-themed episodes, in this order:

1. "Halloween" (season 2)
2. "Fear Itself" (season 4)
3. "All the Way" (season 6)

Remember, do NOT feel the need to drink alcohol, when we say "DRINK" you can do whatever you want--a spoonful of ice cream, 5 jumping jacks... your choice :)

And, as always, have a blast and enjoy a fun night of Buffy with your friends!!

Here are the rules for tonight's #BtVSdrinking Game: (so, "DRINK" when....)

  • Cordelia is catty
  • Buffy/Angel sexual tension
  • Buffy speaks figuratively
  • Giles references something historical/bookish
  • Willow is adorable
  • Drusilla speaks prophetically
  • Xander puts himself down
  • Oz is sarcastic
  • Willow references a spell
  • Anya speaks very literally/bluntly
  • Anya makes an observation about humanity
  • Dawn complains about being neglected (limit one per scene)
  • Spike is romantic/sexual

Friday, October 5, 2012



Happy happy Friday! What better way to celebrate the weekend than to watch a little Buffy and drink along with all your twitter friends?! ....there's not one, obviously.

So tonight we are going back to the beginning and watching some SEASON ONE episodes!!
At 9:00pm Eastern time tonight, we will watch 1x07: "Angel" and 1x11: "Out of Mind, Out of Sight," in that order. Please remember to add the hashtag #BtVSdrinking to all your tweets so everyone can join in and follow along. :)

You (obviously) don't have to drink alcohol, when we (your hosts--me, @BuffyQuotes101 and Sarah, @sarekins) say DRINK, you can eat a spoonful of ice cream or maybe do 5 jumping jacks... or just show up and watch/tweet along!!! Whatever you guys want to do.

Remember--have fun, be safe, and PLEASE don't drink too much... if you black out (like I did last time...) or call your ex or do any other crazy shenanigans, Sarah and I are not to blame. ;)


"DRINK" when....

-The Master quotes ancient text or Scripture
-Xander makes a dig at Angel/Cordelia, or acts possessive of Buffy
-Angel speaks cryptically
-Buffy covers her slayer tracks with a fib
-Willow swoons over boy talk
-Sexual tension between Buffy & Angel
-Giles talks about research/training/cleans his glasses
-Xander & Willow are adorably cute best friends
-Buffy complains about slaying
-The gang is at the Bronze
-Buffy speaks figuratively (includes metaphors, sarcasm, and puns)
-Cordelia says something tactless/catty
-Anyone says "Hellmouth"

Friday, September 7, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer DRINKING GAME

Hey, y'all!!! I'm so pumped for tonight's Buffy twitter drinking game!!
We will start at 9:30 pm eastern time and we are watching two episodes from season 3: "Lover's Walk" and "Bad Girls," in that order. Use the hashtag #BtVSdrinking to join in the fun :)

So here's the deal. @sarekins (Sarah) and I are hosting, and we just want to make a few things clear...

1. You (obviously) do NOT have to drink alcohol to be in the game. You can stuff your face with ice cream, you can do jumping jacks, you can just watch and tweet along if you want! Totally up to you and your preferences.

2. Just because we are "hosting" this event, it does NOT mean we are liable if you black out, call your ex, get noise complaints from the neighbors, etc. Got it?

3. When we say OK, DRINK! it does NOT mean take a shot every time, or even take a sip of your drink every time... unless you want it to. Know your own limits and realize that half the fun is we are all just going to be doing two things we love: drinking and watching Buffy! It's not a race or a competition.

4. HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are the rules:

-Buffy speaks figuratively (includes metaphors, sarcasm, and puns)

-Xander references his stupidity
-Giles references something historic/bookish/cleans his glasses
-Willow references a spell
-Oz needs to explain his emotions
-Cordelia says something tactless/catty
-Spike rapidly switches emotional states (sad to angry, serious to joyful)
-Faith plays by her own rules/says something sexual/or says "Five by Five"
-Wesley passes down fortune cookie wisdom
-Anyone says "Hellmouth"
-A human gets killed
-"Mr. Adjective", "Ms. Adjective" (i.e. "Joe Normal", "Miss Sunnydale 2003")

Tweet me at @BuffyQuotes101 if you have any questions!!! See y'all tonight!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Moment I Fell in Love With TV

I was trying to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with TV, and I think I've got it narrowed down to a scene that aired back in 2004. September 22, 2004, to be exact. The Lost pilot.

Everyone has heard of the TV show Lost. I was an avid watcher, and simply knowing that a new episode of Lost would air each Wednesday was pretty much what got me through middle school. I lived for Wednesdays.

But back to the pilot episode. (Funny side note--at the time I had no idea that the very first episodes of shows were called "pilots," and I just thought that in the case of Lost, the first episode was titled that because of the intense scene where Jack, Kate, and Charlie locate the plane's cockpit in the jungle and the brutal death of the (actual) pilot they find still in his seat. How naive young Charlotte was!)

The moment I'm referring to, however, the moment I truly fell in love with TV, was an exchange between Jack and Kate. In one of the most stunning opening scenes of any show EVER, our main man Jack awakens to find himself a survivor of a terrible plane crash. I can just picture him running through the jungle in which he was initially thrown, following the muted screams of terror until he reaches the beach and the entire chaotic carnage of the crash is laid out before him. He jumps into action, our hero, and we quickly realize he must be an expert, a doctor of some sort, as he literally saves a dozen lives in a matter of minutes. What an EPIC scene that was, y'all. The episode was actually the most expensive pilot that had ever been made up until that point. But after the worst had been taken care of, after the initial shock wears off, Jack retreats to a secluded section of the beach to try and tend to his own wound from the crash. He had nabbed a travel-sized sewing kit, realizing he would have to stitch up a large gash on the side of his torso. Along comes our favorite fugitive, Kate, and Jack persuades her to do the stitching for him.

Kate: "I might throw up on you."
Jack: "You're doing fine."
Kate: "You don't seem afraid at all. I don't understand that."
Jack: "Well. Fear is sort of an odd thing."

Jack then proceeds to tell Kate a story from when he was in residency (further confirming our doctor theory) and his first solo procedure--a spinal operation on a 16-year-old girl. After 13 hours of surgery he is closing her up when he accidentally rips open a sac of nerves at the base of her spine. "The terror was so... crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it." Tears are streaming down his face as he says this, tears from the excruciating pain of the wound and the stitches, tears from the unbearable stress and shock of the plane crash, tears from the harrowing story he's relaying to a perfect stranger. He's struggling with his words, but in such a way that you can't take your eyes off the screen, in a way that you're yearning, begging him to go on. "So I just made a choice. I'd let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing... but only for five seconds, that's all I was gonna give it." The tears continue to run down his face. "So I started to count. 1....2....3....4......5. And it was gone. I went back to work, sewed her up, and she was fine." Kate stares at him. "If that had been me," she says, "I would have run for the door." Jack shakes his head, "No, I don't think that's true." He pauses, and looks over his shoulder. "You're not running now," he says simply, and they share this look. This indescribable look and I knew, I just knew, that I'd never seen anything like this. I'd never felt such a feeling before. And that is the moment I fell in love with television.

Of course, it wasn't until Buffy that I realized I wanted to actually study and work with television shows as a career. I can fangirl with the best of them, from Beverly Hills, 90210 to Dawson's Creek to The OC, but as soon as Sarah Michelle Gellar went from screaming, "The signs? READ ME THE SIGNS! TELL ME MY FORTUNE!" to a second later whimpering, "Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die," in "Prophecy Girl," I knew I was a goner. That was it. Stick a fork in me. I'm done.

It's amazing how TV continues to surprise and amaze and teach me every day. From Felicity's Twilight-Zone-themed episode to the way I'm almost guaranteed to cry in every episode of Friday Night Lights. To the way I can laugh during an episode of Community until my stomach hurts and tears are streaming down my face, to fiercely giving it my all to get a Fringe related topic start trending on twitter. When I was 17 I started wearing lipstick every day because of Faith (and never stopped). I started taking kickboxing to get my Slayer on, not to mention be more like Starbuck. If things are getting me down, I'll be Kaylee and pretend everything's shiny. Veronica Mars is my ultimate role model. Don't get me STARTED on AMC shows (really, it would take hours). I'm not ashamed to admit that Pretty Little Liars makes me gasp out loud, and The Vampire Diaries has some kickass plot twists. If I could close my eyes and be anywhere, it would be in the TARDIS. The list goes on... and on..... and on.

And all of these things, I've come to learn, make me who I am today. They make me Charlotte. I may be a complete and total nerd, an obsessive fanatic, and a little too intense about my ships, but I'm just me. I'm all these things and more, including a student, sister, daughter, friend, writer, reader, lover, and woman. Oh, not to mention a twitter-queen! :) I love television and I love my life. So say we all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's a Mad Mad Mad Men World

I’d heard many positive things about Mad Men.

I talk to a lot of people about a lot of TV shows, and Mad Men kept coming up in the conversation. “It’s soooo good,” people would say. Or, “You have to watch it.”

So when I realized that the first four seasons are on Netflix Instant, I began the process that is embarking on a new show. And in a matter of a few weeks, I had completely swallowed those four seasons whole and barely come up for air.

I’m not picky, per say, about the shows I watch, but I know when it’s good and when it’s… not so good. For instance, I’m a fan of both The Wire and Dawson’s Creek. See what I’m saying?

So when I say that Mad Men is practically PERFECT television, I truly mean it.

In the very first episode, we are given a little background info on the title of the show:

Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.
They coined it.

So here we have a show about the lives and wives of the wealthy execs of advertisement agency Sterling-Cooper, set in 1960’s New York City. Our main character is a dashingly handsome and broody 30-something by the name of Donald Draper (Jon Hamm). We soon learn that everyone around him is equal parts afraid and respectful of Don, whether they like it or not. If Mad Men is a perfect show, then Don Draper is the perfect character. He is quiet and stern, charming and mysterious. Hamm’s portrayal is so compelling, so mesmerizing, that I find I can’t take my eyes off Don when he graces the screen.

As a show that begins in the early 1960’s and gradually progresses through the decade, there are glaringly obvious societal issues that Mad Men is not afraid to tackle head on. In the first few episodes, the constant sexism and sexual harassment towards women is almost too hard to bear. We are immediately given three main characters that represent three different types of women in that era.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), the awkward-but-determined young secretary starting her first day in the offices of Sterling-Cooper, is a girl who doesn’t quite know what she wants (yet) but at least knows she doesn’t want what all the other women her age seem to—marriage, 2.5 children, white picket-fence, etc.

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks), the gorgeous, busty red-headed secretary-in-charge that struts around the office in tight, bright-colored dresses barking orders to the other girls typing away at their desks, is a woman who, while content to remain a secretary and aspire to marry a wealthy man someday, is not afraid to use her looks and domineering attitude to get what she wants.

And last but not least, there is Betty (January Jones). Betty is perhaps one of the most tragic characters I’ve come across. Breathtakingly beautiful and seemingly the perfect woman, underneath her exquisite exterior lies a hopelessly lonely and depressed housewife. She claws desperately at some sort of meaning in her life while at the same time vying for attention from her emotionally unavailable husband and keeping her two small children in line.

Mad Men is filled with numerous and equally as alluring characters as these. A combo of everything from flawless writing/directing, stunning acting, and spot-on style and makeup make this show every bit worth watching.

I often say that every once and a while, a show comes along that possesses a few scenes where your breath is literally taken away from the sheer brilliance of just a few minutes.

Mad Men has dozens of these.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My "Cabin in the Woods" Experience

Listen, we're all Whedonites here. But not all of us are fans of scary/horror films.

I used to be terrified of anything remotely scary. I seriously couldn't even watch the "Scary Movies"... it was that bad. But when I got to college, my roommate, who loves scary films, pretty much forced me to watch them with her. During Halloween weekend the "Halloween" franchise movies were on a constant loop, and I think we saw all of them at least three times each. Soon I was watching newer films such as "House of Wax" and I even went with her to see the remake of "The Thing" in theaters.

I finally felt like I could handle scary movies. But when the trailers for Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's new film, "The Cabin in the Woods" started coming out, I was torn.

I of course had to see it, with the unwritten rule that I have to see everything Joss Whedon touches. So when I heard that The Cabin in the Woods was to be a headliner for the film portion of the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas (my hometown), I jumped at the chance to go.

But at the same time, the trailer looked downright terrifying. Was I ready to face such a horror-filled evening?

I'm a college student in South Carolina, so my trips back home are few and far between. I was devastated when I couldn't attend the Austin Comic Con back in October which some big Buffy alums in attendance such as Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters. But it just so happened that the screening of "Cabin" coincided with my spring break, so I set aside my reservations and procured some film passes, determined to get in the premiere.

A few days after returning to Austin, a huge cold front came in and with it the rain started to pour. Now, as a true Texan I know to never complain about rain, but I did feel bad for the poor out-of-towners that were there for the festival. Austin is always more fun in the sun.

The morning of the premiere, Friday, March 9, I was reading the Austin American Statesman and on the front page there was an article about the screening of "Cabin" that night. Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, and a few of the movies' stars would be in attendance.

My jaw hit the floor.

I already knew Joss was going to be in Austin, for he had a scheduled panel/interview the next morning (but that's a whole other story) but up until that point I had no idea that he would be attending the screening. Needless to say I was freaking out.

That afternoon I bundled up in my warm clothes and rain gear, and my dad, the dear man that he is, drove me downtown to the Paramount Theatre. We pulled up to the sidewalk...

...and there was Joss Whedon. I was looking at the man himself.

I jumped out of the car and pretty much just stared for a while before noticing that the line I needed to be in was on the other side of Joss and all the cameras. I slowly walked in front of him, still staring, and when he glanced by for the slightest moment, we made eye contact. It was SO AMAZING, y'all (we all have our crazy fangirl/boy obsessions, okay?), I almost cried. Well, okay, a few tears were definitely shed, but that's beside the point.

I got in line, freezing my ass off, and instantly made friends with the people around me, as is the case with most of these situations. (Side note: I once waited for ten hours to be at the front of a Pearl Jam concert. Needless to say I bonded with the people around me.)

One guy didn't even know what movie he was going into. Another couple had traveled all the way from London and were grumbling about how the weather was the same there when they left as it was here. Wonderful people.

The thing you should know is that there are SXSW badges, which let you in to anything, and then what we had were "film passes" and allowed us to get in only after all the badge holders were seated. After almost an hour and a half of waiting out in the cold, they started letting the film pass line in. Once it got to about five people ahead of us, they stopped. They were having to count seats and let only a few people in at a time because it was so packed.


The British couple wished me and Clueless-Guy well, telling us to have the time of our lives if we got in and they didn't. It was quite emotional. We watched in agony as badge-holders dashed to the front of the line at the last minute and were let in before us. But finally, the last ten of the film-pass people were ushered in, and the doors were closed. We had made it.

Hugs and high-fives were exchanged, and we were even pleasantly surprised to find that some great seats in the middle had been blocked off for the film-pass holders. Score.

Joss and Drew came out to introduce the film, and they explained that this was a really special event for them as well because the movie had been sitting on the shelf for two years, due to the fact that it was first made with MGM, which went bankrupt, and it wasn't until Lionsgate picked it up that it truly became a reality. This was the first time they were seeing the movie in two years, and the very first time with an audience. Awesome.

So, without further ado, the wild ride began. As is with a lot of movie premieres, the packed crowed was very interactive. We clapped and hooted when certain actors came on the screen, and roared with laughter as the script crackled with Joss' signature wit.

As for the scary parts, I will say this (without revealing too much): they make you jump, but they aren't hard to anticipate. In a good way, though. You'll see. There is lots of gore, but for me the humor and the fact that it's simply such a smart movie outweighed the grossness. I will also say that most of the humor is the darkest of the dark--so if that's not your thing then beware.

And that's all I'll say about the plot! I highly recommend it, and if you are still worried about the scary aspect, go see the midnight premiere. With a big crowd to hold my hand, it was easy to laugh and scream along with everyone else--giving a lighter feel to the darker parts.

Joss and Drew and some of the cast came on the stage afterward and did a Q&A about the movie. It was truly an amazing experience.

Anyway, I hope I helped some of y'all who are a little wary about seeing such a scary horror film. In my opinion, it's worth it. It premieres in the US April 13, and I would love to hear what y'all have to say about it once you see it.

Thanks for reading! :)

-Charlotte <3