Sun May 26 2013
A few nights ago, I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness. As I tweeted the other night:
My thoughts can be further articulated by this well-written, thoughtful review at Wired. (Warning: There are MAJOR SPOILERS for both new and old Trek films!) While I agree with almost everything in that review, good and bad, I want to be clear: Overall I really enjoyed the movie, despite its imperfections.
Also, in talking with Andy about it on the drive home, I found myself remembering the many ways in which Star Trek touched my childhood.
- My “sister” Alex started everything by introducing me to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I used to squirm with excitement each week as 7 PM approached on the day of a new episode. I sat on the edge of the coffee table because it put me closest to the TV, closest to the action. I hummed along with the opening credits.
- My affection quickly spilled over the allotted time slot and into my daily play. I turned cardboard boxes into navigation consoles, tire pressure gauges into hyposprays, and the fireplace into a warp core. I pretended to explore new planets, stun hostile aliens with my phaser, and of course go on dates with certain charming crew members.
- My first “serious” stories were fanfiction for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. (With occasional JAG crossovers, hehe.) I created original characters and sent them on missions with the beloved regulars — learning about pacing and conflict through trial and error, as well as practicing grammar and flow.
- On a subconscious level, I think Star Trek also taught me to value science, teamwork, peace, and integrity. When I realized “Trekkie” was basically synonymous with “nerd,” I learned to wear that label with pride. And honestly, when I think about an ideal future for our world, a lot of it is based on Gene Roddenberry’s visions and predictions.
It’s amazing to me how one man’s stories grew into such a vast empire, and how those stories have impacted so many lives and minds, including mine. Amazing, humbling, and inspiring. This is what good writing can do.
Sat Jan 12 2013
Sorry, Revenge, you’re out.
Your cast is beautiful and well-dressed (and sorely lacking in diversity…) but there’s no one left to root for. In Season 2, everyone has become either dumb or irredeemably manipulative (or both), and that just doesn’t interest me.
Scandal, on the other hand, is still kicking ass and taking names. (Literally.)
Spoiler level: Low.
Thursday night’s episode, while somewhat predictible (a first!), continued the special mix of smart and funny dialogue, emotional character development, and gray area ethical quandaries that I’ve come to love.
Every time I try to pick a favorite — David’s “the United States of America is in this room” speech, the confrontation with Mellie at the hospital, Harrison blowing off the ditz at the bar, Huck cringing from Olivia’s touch, Cyrus going to see his baby — another great scene comes to mind. It’s a good problem to have.
And then of course there’s the other Shonda show, Grey’s Anatomy.
Spoiler level: HIGH. Continue reading at your own risk…
This episode had a few good (even tear-jerking) moments but was mostly “meh” for me.
Let’s start with the good: amusing miscommunication between the interns and their attendings; Dr. Webber’s guilt and sorrow over Adele, as well as his narrating her surgery from the gallery (and the intern taking his hand!); the strangeness/ambiguity of Owen and Cristina getting divorced but obviously still loving one another. These were all very human and real, and as usual the actors did a great job.
Then, the not so good: the biker gang storyline was over-the-top; stuff with Callie and Arizona felt obvious and rushed; Karev and the Princess were douchey and annoying (a particularly large step back for Karev, who’s been maturing so slowly but nicely over the show’s course); and finally, the writers conveniently “forgot” that Richard didn’t just ditch Adele in a home, SHE TOLD HIM TO, AND THEN STARTED SEEING SOMEONE ELSE ROMANTICALLY. Ugh. She doesn’t need to be a saint — nor he a devil — for us to feel compassion for her, so don’t retroactively try to paint them as such.
Related to that, there was a small thing that I wouldn’t say I “hated,” but it definitely niggled at me: Meredith asking Derek never to put her in a home.
Here’s the thing: In the show, Meredith put her mother in a home, and it was fine. Hard, but fine. They took good care of her mom, care that Meredith could not possibly have provided. So is it pleasant to think about someday losing your marbles or needing more attention than your loving spouse can offer? Of course not. But is it fair to make your loving spouse swear to carry that burden on their own anyway? Um, no.
(Maybe she means for him to hire a live-in nurse to help, or have Future Zola chip in? Fine. It’s not that she HAS to be put in a home someday; it’s that this is way too early to be making promises of any kind about the situation, at least not without some real discussion about logistics and finances.)
Caring for ailing and aging family is such a critical issue facing today’s generations, and everyone’s got to figure out what’s right for them and their family. So basically I’m disappointed that there wasn’t a more nuanced discussion/portrayal of that in the episode. (Shonda projects usually do a good job of this!) Instead the episode seemed to imply that assisted living/nursing homes are bad and that putting your parent or spouse in one makes you a bad person. Not cool, and not true.
But, um, to end on a positive note, Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss Me” was featured, and I adore him and that song. Hope this gets him lots more exposure!
PS: Whoever does the screencaps for ABC’s site really needs to get a better sampling from over the course of each episode. We don’t need or want 10 photos from one irrelevant scene, thanks.
Sat Nov 10 2012
9.05 – “Beautiful Doom”
Spoiler level: Zero.
This opinion may go against the grain, but I thought Thursday night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was… fun. Refreshing. Borderline amateur, but at the same time — and maybe even as a result of that roughness — very real.
Despite the cheesy dialogue, the hammed-up subplots, and the terrible green screens, I liked that the episode was actually trying to say something. About working women. About modern-day friendship. About realizing that you are really and truly on the verge of becoming what you were always striving to be.
I didn’t necessarily know it when I started, but those are the same themes I was after when I wrote Twenty-Somewhere.
One of my not-so-secret fantasies is that 20SW will get picked up for a TV show. That someone, somehow, will translate Sophie, Claudia, and MJ’s adventures to the small screen. I know there would be challenges, with each of them living in a different city, but to me, the miles and timezones that separate them are just as important to the story as the parallel trials, troubles, and triumphs that the girls experience and support each other through.
So although it took me a while to adjust to Meredith and Cristina’s split-screen phone calls last night, I ended up enjoying them. Because they echoed the feel of my story, of my 20SW girls and their long-distance friendship. Because they echoed my own life, my own friendships. Because they were, as I said earlier, real.
Thu Oct 11 2012
Spoiler level: Zero.
For a few years, the writers of Grey’s Anatomy maintained a blog, and every Friday after a new episode aired, the writer of that episode would post about it. I loved that blog, and all the extra insight/entertainment it offered. I also — surprise surprise — loved to leave comments, telling the writer all my critical (but not necessarily negative) thoughts on their episode. Because, obviously, they needed and wanted to know.
Well, I certainly wasn’t the only
delusional person who thought that. Hundreds upon hundreds of fans would leave long-winded diatribes that some poor intern had to sift through. Besides “loved it!!” or “hated it, ugh,” mostly what they said was, “Why aren’t you giving more Screen Time to MER/DER?!?!??!11??!?!?!1!??!?!”
Personally, I never felt like we needed to see more of Meredith and Derek (sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G). Yes, I enjoyed their love story over the first few seasons, but then I noticed the bigger, better love story: Meredith and Cristina.
9.02 – “Remember the Time”
From Day 1, I think “Mer/Cris” is what this show has really been about. Not in the lesbian sense (although I’m sure some viewers wouldn’t have minded that) but in the BFF sense. Through affairs, drownings, miscarriages, weddings, shootings, and now a plane crash, Meredith and Cristina have always been there for each other. “You’re my person,” as they like to say.
What does being someone’s person mean? Well, whenever I think of Meredith and Cristina, I am reminded of this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love:
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.
That is why I don’t care whether or not Mer/Der get lovey dovey time in every episode, or whether Cristina and Owen get back together.
Look, we have plenty of romantic stories to choose from. There is no theme more prominent in television, movies, books, or music. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for romance. But true friend-love? Two people who would lie, risk their careers, jeopardize their lives, do almost anything for one another — and not because of sex or marriage, but simply because they truly care for and understand each other that much?
That’s what I want to see more of. That’s what needs more screen time.
Tue Oct 2 2012
Spoiler level: Low. Highlight or hover over the white text to read spoilers.
2.01 – “White Hat’s Off”
If you, like me, somehow found yourself rooting for the completely inappropriate romance between Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant, then First Lady Melinda Grant probably isn’t your favorite person. She definitely isn’t Fitz’s. But of course, they’re bound — by marriage, by kids, and most of all, by political ambition.
It would be easy to demonize Mellie, to write her off as a power-hungry, selfish bitch who’s purposely standing in the way of true love. But the truth is, she tried to let Fitz have his cake and eat it too; it was the cake (Olivia) who refused.
What’s really interesting to me is that Mellie and Olivia are so similar, and yet one is our heroine, the other (arguably) an antagonist. They are both clever, manipulative, self-sacrificing, and headstrong. They both want Fitz to succeed, because they both believe that’s what’s best for America. They both have softer sides that they don’t often show.
My two favorite scenes in the Season 2 premiere belonged to Mellie, and together they illustrate how wonderfully complex she can be. In the first, she declares her unborn child to be a political tool (“bless its heart”) and then asserts her opinion on a bit of foreign policy that Fitz is struggling with, verbally taking him down a peg. In a later scene, the tables are turned. Fitz lays into Mellie for forcing his hand on national TV, and though he is cruel, he’s also right. Tearful and contrite, she tells him that the baby is kicking and asks if he wants to feel it. He kneels beside her, and she places his hand on her belly. It’s a moment of genuine emotion and connection between them. It’s a truce.
The Mob Doctor
1.01 – Pilot
By contrast, Dr. Grace Devlin is virtually flawless. Even the “bad” stuff she does is all in the name of greater good. Lying to protect a young patient’s scholarship. Sewing up lowlifes to pay off her brother’s debt to the mob. And on top of all her technically-wrong-but-actually-right deeds, Grace is smart, beautiful, and successful — respected, envied, and desired. She is, in a word, perfect.
And perfect? Can be kinda boring.