I can’t be the only one who is charging through (yet another) re-watch of The West Wing right now. The TV show’s peppy little theme song and rosy outlook on the political landscape and condition […]
Most series finales are awful.
Seinfeld was absurd. M*A*S*H was depressing. The Sopranos didn’t have an ending. And [sigh] Game of Thrones didn–GODS, Bran did not have the best story, and that is NOT why you make someone a King, especially because he was the villain the whole time and they’re all going to suffer and die now and it’s the WORST! JUST THE WORST!
I’m okay, really. But we need to address LOST.
Its series finale lives in infamy for its vague conclusion and alleged lack of payoff. But if we’re telling truths, we were given many of the answers and the closure we craved, but the show demanded loyal attentive viewing in order to harvest all of the juicy goodness. Most people couldn’t devote this much time, attention, and brain space to a long-running show that was plagued by regular excruciating hiatuses and writers with short attention spans. As a consequence, many viewers skimmed the seasons, or skipped some altogether. And as the mythology and paradoxes got too cute by half, many threw their arms in the air and decried that none of it made sense. By the finale, the show’s legacy had a thick tarnish over it as a series that was full of crap and never got where it was going. (Kinda like the Oceanic passengers, amiright? Zzzzzing!)
I submit to you that this confusion and tarnish can be cleared away with just a bit of explanation. The show mostly does make sense and, yes, the finale actually does give us the payoff. For the Jack-the-Doubters out there, I’ve decided to don my dot-connector hat and go through the series in proper chronological order. I want to lay it all out so that we can demystify the writing and pick at the show’s carcass for all of the answer morsels we crave. Are you ready to begin this journey?
We all love our Gilmore Girls. Even Rory. A trip to Stars Hollow is magically full of vegetable-shilling troubadours, Bjork snow women, Kirk’s doggy daycare, and Taylor’s sexy beard. There’s nothing like it. But let’s be honest, as enchanting as the show may be, it is completely riddled with problems and things that make no damn sense. Some of them are flubs and bloopers, while many other issues defy the realms of logic, mathematics, and decency.
That Dragonfly magazine article, money issues, the Donna Reed dress, Lane’s father, Jason squatting and pooping in the corner of the Dragonfly’s dining room, and Trix’s disappearing fella. How many have you noticed?
We all love Gilmore Girls, right? It’s sweet, peppy, and oh so innocent. Remember Rory’s first kiss? Jess knocking down a snowman? Lorelai sewing costumes for the school play? Yes, the WB/CW really had us believing that the streets of Stars Hollow were made of cotton candy and the Gilmore Girls lived in a house of Pop-Tarts and Brillo Pads. I regret to tell you, it just isn’t so. Once you removed the WB/CW network filter and peel away the peppy “la-la-la-la” music, there is a seedy underbelly to Stars Hollow, particularly at the Gilmore House. It’s so twisted that not even a Rory Curtain could hide it. So come with me as I decipher all of the clues and break down the truth behind the cold, dark Stars Hollow as it really was.
In the Beginning, Lorelai Ran From Hartford
Fans, let us journey back in time to the very beginning. The year was 1985. 17 year-old Lorelai Gilmore took her baby daughter and made a hasty retreat from the safety, shelter, and sustenance of her parents’ house out on to the mean streets of Hartford and beyond.
I have a very special story for you about Star Trek: Voyager and how my life inadvertently imitated a holodeck fantasy. Gather ’round.
The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. One night shortly after our move, my husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes. He, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, was irritatingly scrolling through app menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyes open just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”.
Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! Red from Orange is the New Black! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager. My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red, the grumpy prison chef has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.
Ever wondered about the props in Goldfish Gail’s fishbowl? I have answers.
Fans of The West Wing know a little secret: C.J. Cregg’s pet goldfish, Gail, often has her bowl decorated with props that wink at episode themes. Panda bears, cash, flags, cabbages, flamingos, a love bed, a space shuttle, a telephone, and a fire engine. They are planted just for our delight (and hopefully Gail’s as well). The trick is to try and spot them. And this friends, became my obsession recently.
Below, for the first time, is a complete list of all of Goldfish Gail’s adventures alongside C.J., Danny, and the rest of the West Wing gang. Let’s get swimmin’!
And, hey, if you think you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment. If you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!
Season 1, Episode 9
- Prop: Nothing. Welcome, Gail!
- Gravel: None? Oh, com’on, Danny.
- Nod to Plot: It’s a new fish! (And Danny loves C.J.)
Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting and FINAL seventh season! This is sad and exciting. It’s sexciting. Wait, no. Sorry, Gail. I didn’t mean it like that.
Truly, though, Gail experiences the frost of terrifying allegations against her mama, deep loss, and the anticipation of moving. It’s a traumatic season for her, but she handles it like a champ. Let’s do this one last time! Here are Gail’s appearances in Season 7.
Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is back for an exciting sixth season. Gail moves offices, hosts a visitor, gets snubbed for an invitation to an ice cream party, and ponders classic literature. She also explores a little nihilism. That is one deep fish.
Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 6.
If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!
Season 6, Episode 1
No Gail. She’s as appalled as we all are about the beginning of season 6. Since it looks like the gang is heading to Camp David, I fear we might be missing Gail for quite some time.
From the recesses of the Delta Quadrant, comes Star Trek cat!
Very little needs to be written about the following images. My senior Tonkinese cat, Maisy, decided to assist (or sometimes surprise) the crew of Voyager.
Brought to you by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia…and Boss Hog.
UPDATE, September, 2021 In honor of the glorious ongoing pandemic, I have uploaded new and improved Rules and Cards. Collect them all!
If you’re reading this, you probably are familiar with the notorious cure for boredom that was conceived by the assholes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
That’s right, it’s Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games!
Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, has a splashy season 5. Gail plays Monopoly (to help Donna, of course), goes overboard for cabbages, and rightfully panics over C.J.’s new fishing hobby. It’s a rough season for the whole gang, since we start with Zoey missing and end with Donna being blowed up. So it’s anything but calm waters for our favorite little goldfish.
Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 5.
If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!
Season 5, Episode 1
- Prop: Maybe…probably…a little elephant figure
- Gravel: Blue
- Nod to Plot: GOP President Walken is in charge and Gail might just be showing a nod of respect to the new Commander-in-Chief.
Gail the Goldfish, friend to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is in for a bowlful of drama during season 4. Boats, cows, flamingos, and more major closeups than ever before. Her Papa, Danny, is back and he’s bringing all sorts of new stress into C.J.’s life. It’s the beginning of President Bartlet’s second term and things are about to get crazy.
Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 4.
If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!
By the way, if you’re enjoying these posts I’m doing about Gail, a great way to say thanks is to head over to Heifer International and make a donation. Thank you!
Season 4, Episode 1
- Prop: A boat labeled “Washington D.C.” is dominating Gail’s space
- Gravel: Dark green
- Nod to Plot: Josh, Toby, and Donna missed the motorcade. So either Gail’s building them a boat to get them home to D.C., or she’s making sure she’s covered for transport in case she’s ever left behind.
The Game of Thrones finale. It wrapped the season that Benioff & Weiss wrote strictly by writing character names on slips of paper and pulling them from a drawstring bag like a raffle. “The person […]
Our watch is ended. The eighth season of Game of Thrones, which at times seemed to have been penned by Benioff & Weiss as a sort of Westerosi Mad Lib, has aired and we now know who wins…the equivalent of the Iron Throne.
Bran the Broken.
Bran the Staring.
Bran the Evil.
I’ve been saying it publicly since January, 2017 (and privately since the autumn before)–Bran is a super villain who was overlooked because he was physically broken. Perhaps it’s because I was raised by a very loud, very tough wheelchair-bound mother that I did not ever underestimate Brandon Stark.
Gail the Goldfish has already seen a lot during the first two seasons of The West Wing, and season 3 only gets more exciting! Gail gets active in the re-election campaign, launches a protest for women’s rights, meets some diseased livestock, and has a close encounter of the Charlie kind!
Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 3.
Season 3, Episode 01
No Gail. She is still in shock over the tragedy that occurred at the World Trade Center.
The West Wing ranking continues! We have made it through the good, the bad, and the Ted McGinley in PART I and PART II. There are a few flaws with some of these episodes, but on the whole, they’re classic–warts and all. And by warts, I mean Commander Crap Reese. So put on your oversized Josh jammies, grab some whiskey and Blow Pops, and snuggle up with Marion Coatsworth of Marblehay. It’s time for the best!
Here are the Top 50:
50. “Evidence of Things Not Seen” (season 4, episode 20)
I love that Toby’s accoutrements for poker include a giant bottle of whiskey and two Blow Pops. With that noted, let’s play some poker! Oh wait, other things keep getting in the way, including a job interview with an actor who just got out of rehab, a telephone farce with a Russian leader, and a shooting in the Briefing Room (!!). The titular evidence and things not seen relate to each of these distractions, including Josh not seeing Joe Quincy’s (yeesh, what a name!) little Republican sticking out, and suppressing any feelings over the shots fired. The spy plane, the egg, Will hitting the fifth row. Get it? Hope? Faith? Skepticism? Fear? This is Sorkin being a little cutesy, and also trying to scare us a bit. See, we all know the season finale is approaching, but know not what shape the menace might take. Last episode we wondered about a plane crash. Now we wonder about another shooting. In the meantime, this fake spider under the sheets doesn’t move us very far but allows us to enjoy our favorite characters for a bit. That ain’t all bad.
Points Lost For: Very special guest star Matthew Perry. Blech. Joe Quincy is written like a pancake.
Awkward Suspension of Reality Moment: Remember back in “20 Hours in LA”, when Donna’s at the fancy-pantsy party and she wants to try and meet Matthew Perry? That makes Joe Quincy’s appearance less believable than his name.
The Bartlet fun never stops. We’ve already ranked West Wing episodes #101-155 in PART ONE. Now it’s time to move on from the awful episodes that Curtis had to carry around, to some truly lovely stories, killer lines, and classic moments. Most of these episodes below have some serious flaws, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Get ready to enjoy Chicken Bob, a goldfish pin, and Toby singing.
On we march to the top 100:
100. “Han” (season 5, episode 4)
I have han just watching this episode, even though it’s a sweet little LOST reunion of sorts (or was LOST a “Han” reunion? Time riddle!). Listen, this is an episode where PB and Leo are just wrong and so adrift in an ocean of uncertainty that they missed the obvious inevitability that the North Korean talks would fall apart. They sacrificed the young confused musician, and then PB had the nerve to blame the pianist’s lack of understanding of “freedom”. Really, Jed? Teach him freedom. Ack, the writers have positioned the POTUS as doddering, weak, confused, and myopic. Not cool.
99. “The Lame Duck Congress” (season 2, episode 6)
Zzzzzz. ZzzzzzZzzz. This is one snoozer episode. I don’t care a fig about the drunken Russian getting to see the President. And Donna is petulant and ridiculous in this episode about repetitive stress injuries. Nothing about this episode is particularly offensive, it’s just boring and overly focused on procedures.
Well, damn. If I’m going to go to the trouble of ranking every Gilmore Girls episode, then I’d better get on the ball and fire up…whichever digital service has the licensing for… The West Wing as well! This paragon of American political optimism and snark is simply one of my favorite shows of all-time. But, it might also be the trickiest show to rank. See, I have to balance entertainment with political views. That’s dangerous stuff right there. So dangerous I might need the full box of Franzia and a big block of cheese to get through these tough negotiations. And maybe some pie. Definitely all the doughnuts and bagels in the land.
Let’s start with the worst, or as I call it “the Angela Blake end of the list”. The top 54 will take you through some pretty rough territory–Camp David negotiations, Brian Dennehy, heart attacks, some Harry Potter vomit, and human fruit fly.
From the bottom:
155. “Isaac and Ishmael” (season 3, episode 0)
Alternate Title: “The 9/11 Episode”
Airing less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, this was never supposed to be an episode. This was thrown together in a matter of about two weeks, from writing to filming to post-production, specially to address the attacks. And it’s awful. Preachy and dark and utterly self-aware. This is an after-school special mixed with a 70s variety show, with a whole lot of racism thrown in. The shockingly prejudiced, rude, and naive teens–who accuse Toby of being a terrorist for wearing a beard, and ask P.B. if he thinks he’s a “man of principle”–are treated to a cast of characters who pop “on stage” one at a time. First Toby drops in! And then it’s C.J. And then a very special appearance by P.B. and the First Lady! The characters are each condescending as shit, using Biblical stories and and patchy WWII analogies to try and explain terrorism in short-prose form. Diarrhea would be more fun than watching this episode. If you ask me to swear on it, this is not West Wing canon. It isn’t even television canon. It does not exist, anymore than does the finger puppet show in which I pretend that Andy accepts Toby’s marriage proposal and loves the house he bought. They eat pie a lot.
154. “Here Today” (season 7, episode 5)
My Toby. My brilliant and beautiful Toby. What have they DONE TO YOU? Let’s do a quick rundown of this episode: It’s crammed packed with Charles Frost (zzzzzzzzz), Oliver Blabbish questioning (please god nooooooooo!), the President reprimanding and firing Toby (sniffle), and the introduction of fucking Vic the Human Fruit Fly (ewwwww!). I thought Vic was super-duper skeezy and icky when he was banging Miranda on Sex and the City. And now he has impregnated Ellie? Gross! If I’m looking for something to believe in, my only hope is that Josh fired Negative Ned.
Okay, RPG fanatics, it’s time to play one of my favorite time-killing games, “The D&D Alignment Game”! Which of your favorite characters falls into which Dungeons & Dragons-prescribed boxes?
If you need a little background, characters in the Dungeons & Dragons worlds are saddled with “alignments”–personality traits and motives that dictate their behavior. But appreciating the nuances of these traits and how each might be personified has led to a lot of nerd sparring. I’m sure that’s how this game started–just apply the cryptic guidelines to pop culture examples and you can help others to understand why they are totally and utterly wrong.
This is the game I play (sort of like the “desert island” game) when I’m stuck in an airport or waiting for my show to finish downloading. Or that time after you’ve ordered your food at the restaurant and you’ve run out of other conversation. What I love best is the number of heated arguments that has launched between me and my husband. I yell at him that he doesn’t understand the definition of “chaotic”, and then he yells that Jaimie Lannister absolutely does not fall in the evil category. Then I stab my fork into a dinner roll, yell something about Cersei’s vagina, and everyone in the restaurant stares. Good times.
Anyway, here is today’s inaugural post for this game. I just had to start with my favorite animated show of all-time, Gravity Falls (sorry, Muppet Babies). Take a look at the chart below to see how some of the characters might fit into the Dungeons & Dragons world (or as Dipper would say, the “Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons” world). What do you think? Do I have it right?
(I’ve even put a handy little glossary at the end if you aren’t sure what these mean.)
A Few Definitions
Season 2 marks the first full season of The West Wing during which we have the privilege of watching for Goldfish Gail. C.J. Cregg’s office has never been more exciting, and a lot of scary and surprising things happen to Gail–she is mobbed by turkeys, interrogated by White House lawyers, and has a missile land in her bowl. But still she finds time for love and to make a new elephant friend.
Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 2.
Season 2, Episode 1
No Gail. But she does send her best wishes to President Bartlet and Josh for speedy recoveries.
Friends of Gail, for the most complete compilation Gail’s antics from every single season,
plus reader updates and suggestions, head on over to my Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail page.
Many fans of The West Wing already know the terrific inside joke and easter egg that frequently popped up in C.J. Cregg’s office: Goldfish Gail had little props stashed inside her goldfish bowl that were typically thematic for the episode. The trick is to try and spot what it is. And this friends, became my obsession recently. Some of them are pretty obvious and easily visible in any given episode. But some of them…are a bit of a guessing game.
Now, for those of you who need a re-introduction to Gail, she is C.J.’s office goldfish who was gifted to her by reporter Danny Concannon when he attempted to woo her through a gift. Josh had cleverly recommended to gain C.J.’s favor through her love of goldfish. Danny sweetly presented the Press Secretary with our finned friend, not realizing that she actually is keen on the cheesy bagged crackers. Such a cute mistake. But Gail would not be denied, and she became an important friend to the show.
Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale is a remarkable study of the human spirit that embodies exquisite acting, titillating visual imagery, and more tension than my poor smothered teddy bear can handle. But there is an arc to this season that is more than troubling–a xenolith of torture porn that exhibits no forward movement or even the promise of it: Emily and the colonies.
It isn’t just an interesting band name. “Emily and the colonies” is the bone spur of this season. There is no virtue or entertainment in watching women pull out their teeth and fingernails, and dig at the steaming earth over and over. There is no purpose to witnessing their decaying bondage, other than to string out June/Offred’s tale. The arc is so far gone in degrees of hope, and even reality, that it is a face-punching anchor on the entire season.
You may disagree with me entirely. But, even if you find a smidge of virtue in watching rotted bodies digging in the earth and washing their skin away at the sinks, you have to admit, there are some major problems with this storyline. So many questions. So much that makes no sense.
Some months ago I started spasming over what was a series of condescending and creepy ads put out by TD Ameritrade and their “green room”, which, in many ads, appears to be little more than […]
Thanksgiving is a pretty ugly time of year. Lots of turkey carnage. And the whole guilt over what was done to the Indians. It’s a slaughtering holiday. The weather is hideous–all brown and cold, with no excuses to get some fresh air and go for a walk. There’s some kind of ludicrous law that most people have to watch football or they’ll die. And I’m supposed to get up early the next day and go shopping?
Plus there’s the annual scene of my dad hacking away at a turkey carcass in the kitchen yelling at everyone not to eat any appetizers–the ones I was asked to bring, mind you–while I am horribly drunk on boxed wine because my empty stomach always thinks dinner will come sooner than it does. Hey, Dad gets what he gets when he tells me to stay away from my own plate of cheese and crackers! Well, after I slur my way through dinner conversations about tired family memories, and I’ve crammed plenty of stuffing and potatoes in my face, the whole time trying not to embarrass my mom or make her cry (as has happened multiple years in the past), it’s time for my dad to pass out in a turkey coma in the recliner.
Three different versions of our Anne-girl.
L.M. Montgomery’s classic, Anne of Green Gables has inspired dozens and dozens of Annes on film and television since the book’s original publication in 1908. But, to my mind, there are only three worth real consideration: First, the famous and extremely popular 1985 adaptation that starred Megan Follows, long considered the modern gold standard of Montgomery’s vision. And then there have been two new versions causing quite a flutter recently, with fresh takes on Carrots and her fellow Prince Edward Island adventurers. The first came out late 2016 and aired in the U.S. chiefly on PBS stations (though the first installment is currently available to Amazon Prime streaming subscribers). The second debuted on Netflix in 2017.
So how do they stack up? Are any of these new Annes worthy of the Lake of Shining Waters or puff sleeves? I’m spitting out my lime once more, setting down my glass of gin, and cracking my knuckles in anticipation of another great showdown between rival cinematic loves. Just as with the Longbourn Showdown (Ahem, Pride and Prejudice fans), this will be much like Thunderdome, but with ipecac and red currant wine! So scoop the mouse out of the plumb pudding sauce and get ready!
(Hey BranFans! This update was crafter after the airing of Season 7, and is still totally worth reading. Once you’ve done that, be sure to head to my conclusion of Bran’s Season 8 finale.)
Brandon Stark is a villain. Make no mistake. If you are a Game of Thrones fan and have not already read my argument on How Bran Stark is the Villain No One Saw Coming, please do take a few moments and read the case to be made for his dark nature and what may be driving him.
Now that season 7 of the television series has aired, it is worth examining how my theory has held up in the season or so since I first published it.
My summer love, Orange is the New Black, has given us one of the greatest, most disturbing meta stories ever: The Time Hump Chronicles. Crazy Eyes’s erotic fiction that she penned for drama class is the highlight of the show’s third season, and makes me wish it was real. The closest thing we have to it is what the script writers came up with and had actress Uzo Aduba scrawl onto curly sheets of worn paper. That is “Suzanne Warren’s” actual handwriting, and Aduba has admitted that there is a full story written out there. Can we ever hope to read it in its entirety? Praise Norma that it may be so. Until then, I have done my level best to reconstruct what the show has actually revealed to us on the written page. This is no fan fiction. You will find no poster mock-ups or vampires, especially because they’re so derivative. This is the actual text as written by our very special Crazy Eyes.
THE TIME HUMP CHRONICLES:
Two People Connecting…With Four Other People…and Aliens
By S. Warren
If you watch a lot of television, especially CNN, as I do, then you know the bearded TD Ameritrade douchebag. He patronizes women, telling them that their life savings is a fortune (….ha, as if! […]
Gather ’round, gather ’round! I am about to unveil a Golden Girls spectacular of thrills, chills, and excitement. It gives me great pleasure – nay, embarrassment – to introduce to you a game I have invented for those lonely nights when all you want to do is have a slice of cheesecake around a Miami wicker kitchen table with a few old broads.
Here is a game to help you rank and discover what truly is the GREATEST Golden Girls episode of all-time. Or you can make it a drinking game. Which is probably a lot more fun/dangerous. But I don’t know if I want Rose Nylund flashbacks the next morning with lipstick smears all over the screen, so it’s your call.
Here’s what you need to play:
- A love for Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, and Rose
- A few episodes of The Golden Girls ready to roll
- A pen and paper*
(*you may substitute a box of wine if you do not own a pen and paper)
Now, start your engines and away we go! As you watch episodes, you’ll need to keep score of each episode’s happenings, and here’s how to do it.
The Great Golden Girls Game Scorecard!
Mark points on your scorecard for the following Golden Girls moments:
- (1 point) A late-night dessert is eaten in the kitchen while discussing a problem or date
- (2 bonus points) If that dessert is cheesecake
- (1 point) Every lover or group of lovers that Blanche mentions by name
- (5 points) If the girls scream in horror after discovering two people in bed together
- (2 points) Each time Sophia says, “Picture it….” followed by a location and year
- (3 points) Each time Rose mentions a St. Olaf resident (not her, Charlie, or their kids) by NAME
- (5 points) Each time Rose mentions a St. Olaf pet or livestock by NAME
- (1/2 point) Each time someone says “Shady Pines”
- (2 points) For every family member that comes to stay with the girls
- (1 bonus point) If the visitor is one of Blanche or Rose’s daughters, and the daughter acts like a total bitch
- (2 points) Every time Dorothy asks a guest to leave the house
- (3 points) Every time they have to call 911, or fear that Sophia’s dying “Maaa!!!”
- (1/2 point) Each time Sophia makes a farting joke
- (2 points) If Stan comes to the house
- (4 bonus points) If Stan brings the monkey cone with him
- (6 points) If any of the four girls sing or dance during the episode (limit one scoring per episode)
- (2 points) If Sophia talks about a Sicilian curse
- (4 bonus points) If we see Sophia put a curse on anyone!
- (1/2 point) Each time Dorothy is mocked for getting pregnant as a teen
- (4 points) If there’s a wedding (whether or not the bride backs out beforehand)
- (5 points) If “The Cheeseman” is mentioned
- (-3 points) If they help a wayward child/person in need
- (-1 point) For every celebrity cameo as him/herself (I’m looking at you, Sonny Bono!)
- (-1 points) If Carol, Barbara, Dr. Westin, or Dreyfus appear, in what is surely a sad, sad spinoff tie-in attempt
- (-1,000,000 points) If it’s a clip show!
I’ve been a bit obsessed by the The Wars of the Roses lately. I look at it like a really, really old season of Scandal, just with much worse hygiene. But apparently I’m not alone in my fascination, because author George RR Martin has made no secret that his A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) is based loosely on The Wars of the Roses. Cool. GRRM gets it.
Now, while the books/TV show that you and I know by heart is no allegory for the multi-decade conflict, there are a whole lot of parallels we can draw. So here is where I tear into the major characters like I am Henry VIII clawing apart a whole roasted chicken (I know, I know, the Tudors come later, but seriously, that man could really eat!).
My good opinion once lost is lost forever.
Today in my Jane Austen confessional, I admit that I love both recent modern adaptations of Pride and Prejudice–that is to say, both the 1995 BBC version, and the 2005 Keira Knightley version. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, particularly when it comes to casting. I was recently mulling over a glass of gin, watching the lime wedge twirl around inside of it and muttering about what would make the perfect adaptation if only I could breed the two versions and add my own bits. There was a lot of wild gesturing, especially when I got to the bits about the Darcy performances. And since that seemed to keep me distracted for a couple hours, I figure it’s probably time that I put fingers to keyboard and organized my thoughts on the matter, sans gin.
Just to make this fun, let us do this in true showdown fashion. Like Thunderdome, but with more ribbons and carriages.
Jennifer Ehle vs. Keira Knightley
Neither are the perfect Lizzie whom I pictured while reading the book. Ehle’s take on Lizzie is a little too sweet and coy. What is supposed to be a slightly cutting and wry wit is softened maybe just a tad too much. Whereas, Knightley goes too far in the opposite direction, making Lizzie a bit too moody and angry, and worst of all, not terribly clever. Appearance-wise, Knightley is almost entirely wrong. I do love her wardrobe immensely, but she is far, far too skinny for this role and would have been considered sickly looking for the time. In contrast, Ehle is much more fitting. It is only a shame that they did not allow her looks to be a little less formal. I wanted my Lizzie to have a just slightly feral look to her–not quite as buttoned up and pinned as her peers. Still, though I loved Knightley’s chemistry with her Darcy, this one hands down goes to Ehle!
Winner: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet
Susannah Harker vs. Rosamund Pike
Sweet, shy Jane. This is not a terribly challenging role, I imagine, but it is nevertheless important to pull off the perfect tone. Lean the wrong way, and Jane acts like a simple fool, or worse, a simpering lump of clay. And this is where Harker treads ever so slightly. Both Janes are all sweetness and humility, but Harker fails to demonstrate even the mildest passion, even when Jane is hushed away in a bedchamber with her little sister. Too sedate. Pike, on the other hand, was able to achieve the coyness and gentleness of spirit, while still seeming ensnared by the idea of romance. That extra breath of life gives Pike the edge. Plus…you know. Come on, let’s just out with it: There were some beauty issues with Harker. Allow me to declare firmly that Susannah Harker is a true beauty. But the 1995 styling did her no favors–especially in the hair department–and her pregnancy during filming altered her delicate facial features into a more mannish appearance. Trust me, she has my utmost sympathies on this count. While I dislike neither Jane, I must choose but one, so here it is.
(Update: I’ve been cooking this theory since before season 7, so please read the primer in Bran’s villainy below, and then head over to read my Season 7 update and then roll your Branchair over to the Season 8 Bran Finale Discussion!)
Forget Joffrey and his crossbow. Or even Ramsey Bolton and his dogs (and his knife, and his sausage, etc.). It could just be that the biggest, most monstrous villain that Westeros has ever seen is, in fact, Bran Stark of Winterfell. Bran, the climbing boy who was pushed out of a tower window. The boy who dreamed of being a knight. It just might be that he found a lurking inner darkness and heeded the call of his very sinister destiny.
There she goes. There she goes again.
My eyeballs are still wide and the snack foods are still crusted to the plates from my binge watching of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. (Sorry, I skipped the Pop-Tarts and Red Vines, and went with a baked brie and some stuffing and mashed potatoes all left over from yesterday’s Thanksgiving.) But here it is. My review of the four seasons of A Year in the Life. And, of course, my take on the final four words. I am also going to go ahead and update my previous ranking of every single Gilmore Girls episode to include Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (HINT: one of them makes it into the top ten!)
Please be advised, total SPOILERS ahead.
The seasons weren’t the only thread running through the four episodes that brought our girls back to us. Really, this “year in the life” was a throwback to season 4, during which all three Gilmore girls were struggling and, eventually, falling apart. Back then, Emily bought glass apples, and took up smoking in a silk robe. Lorelai ran out of a salon with wet hair and blubbered all over Luke’s shoulder. And Rory started an affair with Dean. Sigh. This time, as we travel through the better part of twelve months, we see Emily give away her belongings and wear jeans. Lorelai goes solo camping, more or less. And Rory has an affair with Logan. Sigh. Well, at least their characters are consistent in how they deal with life crises. This seems like a fitting place to pick up the story since we are witnessing the ladies violently evolve into the next phase of their lives.
Oh, Rory. You’re 34 and that whole journalism thing never took off for you. I feel so bad for her, and a bit curious that she never got a position at a paper, but it also seems like Rory has trouble settling in one place. For the last thirteen years she has been bouncing from home to home, continent to continent, and (apparently) lover to lover. So this is probably mostly self-sabotage. Still, I feel her pain. I also went through a period in my life trying to scratch out a living in the writing field by jumping from project to project. Lots of irons in lots of fires. But by age 30, I realized that it wasn’t working and I wanted more stability. Let’s just call Rory a slow learner on this subject. Well, and let’s plainly understand that the girl is undoubtedly living off of a trust fund or two–hence being able to casually afford plane tickets back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean a few times a week, and a Brooklyn apartment that was never lived in.
The Paul schtick was cute and modestly funny, but a little out of place. Yes, this is typical of Rory to hang on and beat up boytoys that she is too cautious to discard. But two years? Ouch. Poor Paul. And how on earth did these two hook up un the first place? Sadly, I think Paul stands out too much as a walking, talking recurring joke. He might as well be wearing a sign around his neck that reads, “plot device”. Still, I won’t kibitz, as this is far from the most offensive sin of the reboot.
And then there’s Logan. Even as a person rooting for Jess (don’t make me say “Team Jess”, please), I couldn’t help but squeee a little when I saw her and Logan romantically linked again. I mean, it felt weird knowing that Paul was in the picture, and knowing that the whole “no strings” plan isn’t Rory. We’ve been through this already. She needs strings. She wants strings. She is the biggest Pinocchio in the world. So we know already that is going to blow up.
Around town, my Kirk-filled heart was not disappointed when I learned about his continuing romance with Lulu and his new pig, Petal. And Kirk’s Ooober business was a highlight for me. I mean, Kirk’s already dabbled in the transportation industry before (remember the first Stars Hollow pedicab ride), so this seems like something he would absolutely try.
(Updated to include the new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episodes)
From the sick mind that ranked every episode of The West Wing comes the biggest, dopest, Stars Hollowy-ist ranking of every last freakin’ Gilmore Girls episode ever made–all 157.
This was no easy feat, mind you. Ranking these episodes required months of re-watching every season (for the upteenth time) and countless hours of careful thought, criticism, and plenty of coffee, my friends. Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m a Jess fan, and I thought Digger wasn’t so bad. There. Phew. I got that out there. And Christopher? King of the Ruiners. I hate him the way Taylor hates the long-haired town troubadour (I just start pulling at my hair and mumbling to myself about vegetable soup, carts, kiosks, and cart-kiosks.). But more than focusing on a single character, I did my best to weigh how much I enjoyed each episode, and how much they fit in with the show and characters that we know and love. Lorelai playing racquetball? No. Mrs. Kim serving tofurkey? Yes. Rory going to the gym? No. Taylor convincing the town to build a giant haybale maze? Yes.
Ah, the modern Doctor Who episodes. So many handsome Doctors, so many companions, so many catchphrases! Oh, how can one glorious human attempt to rank each and every (modern) episode of the arguably greatest show in television history? Basically with a lot of coffee, maybe some wine, and an incredibly patient spouse.
Be forewarned that I do have a lot of affection for light-hearted romps and historical / literary episodes. Oh, and I play favorites with certain companions. It’s no secret that I simply adore Rose and Doctor Donna with every beat of my single human heart. And while I have a gentle fondness for Mickey, Rory, Craig, Clara, Nardole, and Bill, and a meager tolerance for Amy and her narcissism, there is no quibbling about how much I loathe Martha.
Yes, I said it. Love her as you will, Marthites! But the woman couldn’t keep her mouth closed most of the time and spent most of her episodes bumbling in confusion and requiring rescue over and over. Her puppy dog crush was just pathetic to watch, and Freema Agyeman’s acting skills were cringe-worthy. Worst of all though, she becomes a soldier. A soldier!
Anyway, where was I? Is it hot in here? Yes, I’m sweating. Stupid Martha.
Well, what I have achieved is, quite humbly, magnificent perfection and probably the final word on the subject. Right? I’m sure no one can disagree with me. And should you feel tempted to allow outrage to course through your veins, remember that your cup of tea may not be mine. Maybe you’re a Marthite, or a confused Donna Hater. And if you haven’t invested the hours in organizing your thoughts on the matter into a very thoughtful list that was endlessly tinkered with, then your opinion should be shushed! This project was a lot harder than it looked at the outset.
113. “Daleks in Manhatten” / “Evolution of the Daleks” (season 3, episode 4-5)
Pig-men. Vapid caricatures of 1930s New Yorkers. One ridiculous Dalek in a pin-stripe suit. More pig-men. Love story. Martha. More pig-men. I’ll confess to you right now that I really love nearly every Dalek episode, mostly because I find their angry tin voices and quizzical eye stalks just adorable. But also because, respect. But these two episodes sullied the name of Dalek with this insultingly ridiculous beauty-and-the-beast style plot cloaked in a forced thematic setting. There was so much ripe fruit in the 1930s era for the writers to pick from–serious topics that would do justice to all of the economic turmoil, innovation, bravery, and terrifying warfare. And this is what they gave us. And worst of all, they made us sit through it in two agonizing long parts. With Martha Jones. Almost unwatchable.
112. “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” (2016 Christmas Special)
Superheroes. Ugh. One of the many beauties of Doctor Who is that we didn’t need a human with oddly specific superpowers prancing around in masks, disguising his voice, and saving energetic, but naive damsels. We just needed an alien being to show us that humans are, sometimes, powerful in their own right, without radioactive spiders, nuclear accidents, etc. So, holy balls, was I disappointed that Moff decided to cash in on the superhero movie craze. It seemed lazy and jarringly out of place. And all for a Christmas episode! This wasn’t holly or jolly, and it was an insulting gimmick episode that really pissed me off. Worst. Christmas. Episode. Ever.
Points Lost For: American episode. Not really sure why superheroes have to be from New York. And continues the trend that American episodes are the worst.
111. “Sleep No More” (season 9, episode 9)
I am mostly speechless after watching this episode. I mean, eye crusty monsters? EYE CRUSTY monsters? No. That makes no sense. And The Doctor agrees with me, because he said as much. But, since canonically speaking, nothing in this episode happened, it’s okay that it didn’t make sense?…? See? It’s even confusing to hate and review this episode. We must have been very bad fans this year and the writers wanted to punish us by asking us to sit through 40+ minutes of this Blair Witch-style eye crusty warning.
110. “Planet of the Dead” (2009, special 1)
What show am I watching? Who is this awful be-wigged woman with far too many convenient talents? Well, if Lady Christina de Souza was auditioning for the role of future companion, she failed miserably. Even the lonely Doctor looked at her and said, “Yeahh, but…I have to wash my hair tonight. And feed my cat. No companions. I’m allergic to humans. And wigs. Bye now.”
109. “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” (season 7, episode 10)
I swear, I want the TARDIS to have an excellent backstory, but this isn’t it. Sexy is a victim here, as much as we are, of not just the insultingly stupid Van Baalen brothers, but also a worthless reset-button resolution. Worst of all, Clara is reduced to a bumbling damsel in distress. Where is our Warrior Clara? Where is our Warrior Sexy? A glimpse of the library and pool may be worth the price of admission, but the ladies of contemporary Whodom deserved better tributes and a chance to really show what they can do.
108. “The Next Doctor” (2008 Christmas special)
So here we are in a yuletide mope because The Doctor is without a companion, having just lost Donna Noble. In trade, the writers decided to tease the audience whilst bringing in Col. Brandon…I mean, David Morrissey…as a temporary companion. But his brain damage is barely endearing, and the whole episode comes off as a not-so-clever audience prank that just won’t end. Even the Fake Doctor’s Companion, Rosita, was just a little bit insulting. She has the crassness of Donna, the incompetence of Martha, and nothing but the name of Rose. And don’t forget that hiddeous wig. (What is it with wigs on the guest stars during Ten’s companionless swan song?) Plus, Cybermen. Yawn. Even the chief villain, Ms. Hartigan, is lazily named. Yes we get it: In her final moments she briefly had a heart again. Yawn. And more yawn. Overall, this was one of the lousiest Christmas specials for lacking substantial emotion, a viable plot, or anything like holiday spirit. The only redeeming bit: The Doctor speaking of his companions. “They break my heart.” So much sadness and misery. But why must the writers spread it to us?
107. “In the Forest of the Night” (season 8, episode 10)
In defense of a very hated episode: The protective forest growing in the middle of London is a cool idea, and the special effects were very beautiful. I was also glad to get to know Clara’s students a little better, and for once I actually liked some kids on this show. There. I said something nice. So now I can get to the truth. This episode was a disaster of silly writing. Where were all the people of London? Why the hell was Annabelle hiding in a shrub? Clara really wouldn’t save her students just so they can go die in their parents’ arms, right? And she couldn’t use her damn spaceship/time machine to go get the parents? And shut the fuck up, Danny Pink. Man. Soldier Dan can seriously go fuck himself with his jealousy and douchiness.
106. “Into the Dalek” (season 8, episode 2)
Does anyone else hear Van Morrison singing when they read this episode title? Anyway, here we have Innerspace, but with a Dalek instead of Martin Short (look it up). This was a drawn out, whiny crisis for the Doctor as he tries to still decide whether he’s good or not. And what does “good” mean anyway? Apparently it means boring. Missed opportunity for a lot of fun and wonder being inside a Dalek. Too heavy and too long.
105. “42” (season 3, episode 7)
Wouldn’t it have been better if I could’ve ranked this episode 42nd? Huh? Eh? Yeah, no. That’s not gonna happen, because this was a really bland trapped-on-a-ship episode. In fact it’s so forgettable, I keep thinking, “Wow, remember that other trapped-on-a-ship episode that was so much better? I wish I was ranking that one right now.” Plus, Martha. To the credit of the Marthites, I will say that she was somewhat less obnoxious here than in other outings. Wait, never mind, the whole thing ends with her mom, Francine, being a giant douchey snitch. Marthites, you get no credit here.
104. “A Town Called Mercy” (season 7, episode 3)
Whew boy, it’s another Americana-themed episode. Think, Robocop meets some terrible western movie. Setting aside my respect for themes of reality and regret, both with the one-off characters, and our normally bouncy Eleven, this is a sleepy outing. And worst of all, it feels like the Ponds have stayed too long.
Points lost for: Bad makeup effects.
Points lost for: Doctor wielding a gun.
103. “The Lazarus Experiment” (season 3, episode 6)
Ugh, a super Martha-centric episode. I’ll get to the terrible scorpion monster and formulaic bite-sized plot in a moment. But first, it’s Martha…and her family. To anyone who ever criticized Jackie Tyler for being shrill or obnoxious, I’ll say at least she didn’t directly and purposely endanger the Doctor. In fact, Jackie went to great pains multiple times to save him. But now we meet Martha’s mom who is nothing short of Super Asshole. And it turns out Tish, much like sis Martha, is really good as baddy bait (see also: “The Sound of the Drums”). Ugh. The writers must really, really hate Martha to draw her family so terribly. But oh, yes there was a plot here, too, right? Ehh. This plot. Even Lazarus, in his mind, had to be like, “Man, this is a really terrible idea, this miracle of mine. I mean horrible. So many awful things are going to happen to me and people around me. But I’m bored. And I could endanger multiple members of the Jones family, so, eh, why not? Call the caterer.” Not only is this episode lazy, but it fuels my Martha rage.
102. “Utopia” / “The Sound of the Drums” / “Last of the Time Lords” (season 3, episode 11-12-13)
While “Utopia” would’ve been a decent story on its own-tho, by the time we get down to the real business of The Master and his reign as Saxon-tho, I find that I actually sort of liked Martha. Yeah, I said it. She actually kicked ass in this run, and that is really, REALLY rare for her. She only was kidnapped once! (…although her family continued to prove their worthlessness.) The Master was a pretty darn interesting arc, and I adored his portrayal. BUT the conclusion depicting the Doctor as a Christ-figure was waaay over the top. But then, Captain Jack! Face of Boe! Goodbye, Martha! But then, ewww, what is with the fetal Doctor makeup? Creepy. And, COM’ON WRITERS–this was yet another case of “we’ll sing you out of danger!”. Instead of singing, of course, it was thinking of the Doctor and how he died for our sins, or something like that. I don’t know. My ears were bleeding at this point-tho. Boy, this episode trio is really a mixed bag for me. Worth watching, with some beautiful nods to recurring story arcs and characters, but some heavy-handed religious symbolism that was pretty gross-tho.
101. “Gridlock” (season 3, episode 3)
Here we are again with badly wedged social commentary as a plot device–it was even a two-for-one commentary on how shitty we all are. Round and round the vehicles go, unaware they’ll never make their destination. Why? Because we like our mood altering drugs a bit too much, of course. Such sheep we are. Okay, seriously, some fantastic guest stars and one hella-stirring rendition of “Abide With Me” almost pull us away from the clutches of the evil Macra that live in our souls. And it mandatorily has to be ranked higher than it would otherwise because, The Face of Boe. Ah, it’s his final meeting that he promised the Doctor, and our unknowing goodbye to Capt. Jack. But just as I start to jack this episode up the list, because “Don’t go, Boe!”, then Martha stumbles in, immediately figures that a bad prop skeleton on the floor is the Doctor (yeah, pop your eyes out there, sweetie), and then stumbles onward in phony relief toward the Doctor’s voice, where she finds the FOB. And isn’t that just the piss in my Cheerios? After all his travels and accomplishments, after all his years and sacrifice, you know who the FOB sees among his last? Fucking Martha Jones and her flippant “Who’s he?” Sure, you’re at someone’s deathbed, just keep facially overacting and don’t be polite and address him directly or anything. What a waste of a tender goodbye at the end of a very long journey. And did I mention that most of the episode’s plot was centered around Martha getting kidnapped and needing rescue? Ugh. Won’t someone please get her back to her hospital already? Rest in peace at long last, Face of Boe.
Once upon a time there was a girl named Melody Pond who grew to be a psychopathic assassin, archaeologist, and wife of a Timelord. With such a CV, it’s no wonder that tracing her life and adventures is gobsmackingly confusing. After re-watching the series many times, I still twist my arms around each other pointing to an invisible air timeline when trying to sort out where River’s been and when.
First, we must understand that Melody may have led a perfectly innocent, normal life as the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, if the Kovarian Chapter of the Church of the Silence hadn’t chosen to travel through time and assassinate The Doctor. They made other attempts, all to no avail. So they chose the only known “time vortex” baby as the perfect potential assassin, all to prevent The Doctor from unleashing the tucked-away Timelords of Gallifrey on the universe. Kill The Doctor, save the world from brutal war. Technically they may have meant well. Sort of. But they grossly underestimated The Doctor and Melody Pond.
So here is the jumble that was Melody’s life, set in perfect chronological order. (Do I really need to say “Spoilers”!?)
I’ve gotten sucked into the trap before. I’m spending a casual evening with neighbors or family and in the background, some TV starts to show a rerun of The Big Bang Theory. “Oh!”, they declare excitedly, “Isn’t this show the greatest? Do you guys just love Sheldon?” No. No I don’t love Sheldon. I love not one thing about the show. And when this truth bears out in front of them–eye rolls and scoffs emoting wildly from my face–they act shocked and surprised. “We thought you guys would love this the most!”