Quick thoughts on TV: Supernatural, Ringer, Pan Am, and Terra Nova

Supernatural is one of my favorite shows on television. It also happens to be one of the best genre shows that horror fans never seem to talk, or care about. It’s got a cool mythology (even though it does seem to be stretching at this point), neat monster-of-the-week episodes, and excellent action. Last season ended with everyone’s favorite angel, Castiel, consuming all of the souls caught in Purgatory, thus making him God. The cliffhanger final involved Cas turning into God right after Sam and Dead attempted to kill him. It’s never wise to make God angry and thus, season 7 picks up with Cas deciding that God is better when he instills fear into his subjects. Forget that free will crap. Cas is going to show everyone he is here, real, and that they better worship him or else. Turns out, though, that when he consumed the souls in Purgatory, there also happened to be all manner of other stuff in there including the Leviathans. Unable to control them, they quickly take over Castiel and are intent on turning Earth into a hellscape of pain and suffering. Sam, Dean, and Bobby do a binding spell on Death (pic above) trying to get him to kill God. Meanwhile, Sam continues to deal with the after effects of the mental barrier Death put in place coming down, as he is hallucinating (or is he?) about Lucifer coming back and escaping the cage in hell he was put into.

I really dug this season premiere. Sam and Dean don’t have much to do as it mostly focuses on Castiel but I liked that they completely changed your expectations. Instead of Cas as God as the main season struggle, that is solved by the end of the episode, it becomes Cas as an evil Leviathan. On one hand, I like that because it gives Misha Collins out of his stoic, emotionless acting and lets him get a little crazy. Plus, we’re not exactly sure what the Leviathans are and how powerful they are so the first episode hints at a good narrative thread that could be coming up. But it is a little disappointing that the Leviathans seem to be just inhabiting bodies instead of us getting any genuine Lovecraftian monsters. But we’ll see. I have a feeling we’ll see Lucifer escape the cage this season and our heroes will have to make some sort of deal with devil to figure out this Leviathan stuff. Which is good, I think, because Lucifer always felt like a genuine threat to me, whereas stuff like the Mother of All just felt like “We need another powerful entity”, thrown into the story. Supernatural continues to be a quality genre show but if you haven’t seen anything from Season 3 on, you’ll be completely lost in terms of the mythology. My recommendation? Go watch them. It’s a wonderful series.

Ringer is the new show by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who sort of disappeared after Buffy, deciding to focus on a couple Scooby Doo flicks and making babies. This show is three episodes in so far. The plot is insane but basically, SMG switches places with her successful twin sister in New York who just so happens to have not told anyone about her crackhead prostitute little sister. The twin then seemingly kills herself, leaving SMG to take her place and start a new life. Unfortunately for her, her twin wasn’t the good girl she made out to be. She’s been having an affair on her husband, has been transferring money into secret accounts, and has had a hitman try to kill her. So now SMG must try to negotiate her twins fucked up life while simultaneously trying to hide out from the cops who have had her under protective custody ever since she witnessed a mob murder. And oh yeah, the mob is trying to find and kill her as well.

The premise of this show is solid. It’s twist after twist. You never really know what’s going on. It’s been described as a neo-noir and that description fits it in some way. The characters, other than SMG aren’t really that interesting yet, but they’ve been giving hints that none of them are what they seem so maybe they’ll flesh them out more in the future. I like the show so far, but I can’t help but feel like this show will lose its interest in the coming weeks. Like, once the novelty of the situation wears off, is there going to be any “there,” there? It’s also filled with lots and lots of rich people melodrama, fashion, money, design, dinner parties, etc. So if that’s not your thing then you probably aren’t going to go for it. I’ll give it a few more weeks and hope it keeps my attention. It certainly has potential, that’s for sure.

I’ve been singing the praises of Mad Men since the very first episode. It’s easily my favorite show on television right now. It feels good to be a fan of something from the beginning and then to watch it become this really successful thing. One offshoot of success is that everyone will try to copy your formula. Hence, Pan Am. One of the novel things about Mad Men is the 60’s period of it. The fashion, the different culture, it’s the in thing right now. And c’mon, chicks looked smoking hot back then. Take a cue, ladies, you can be completely covered and gorgeous. Pan Am utilizes all of that. It takes place in 1962, when Flight Attendants were still called Stewardesses. The premiere is mostly just an introduction to all of the hot chicks in tight uniforms that will be the backbone of the show. One of em is played by Christina Ricci, which was weird, not because of the forehead, but because I wasn’t expecting Christina Ricci. There wasn’t enough to really give a lot of development to any of the characters, but you see bits of their backstories and to how they came to be on the plane. One stewardess had an affair with a passenger and now finds herself face to face with his wife. Another pair are sisters, one helped the other escape a wedding. The pilot is in love with a stewardess who happens to be missing. And the main plot of the show is we find out that one stewardess is a spy “Pan Am girls can go anywhere and talk to anyone without raising suspicion”.

It looks good, has a nice espionage angle, and those women do look gorgeous. I’ll keep watching, for sure.

$20 million dollars. That’s the rumored budget of this pilot episode. Outrageous for a television show, and unsustainable as far as profit goes (Each episode is reportedly $4 million buckeroo banzai’s). But Stephen Spielberg’s name is attached, and much like his other show this year, Falling Skies, Terra Nova is pretty bland right off the bat. Basically, in the future we have destroyed earth’s environment. So scientists discover a rip in time. That time turns out to be 85 million years ago. So they send back people to colonize earth (don’t worry, it’s a separate timeline) and give humanity a new start. They have this little colony which they call Terra Nova. Anytime anyone leaves the walls, dinosaurs try to eat them. There’s also this mystery of another colony that was sent through the time rift and why they hate the Terra Nova peeps. There’s a Lost style “WTF is Terra Nova REALLY?” angle that they set up. Meanwhile the other group of outsiders (which all seem to be minorities. I guess Terra Nova is white utopia, or something lol) has control of the mine that has the show’s version of Unobtanium (Avatar reference). It’s pretty much Jurassic Park meets Avatar meets Lost. Which is fine, I guess, but the show just recycles a bunch of stuff you’ve already seen before (How much do you want to be that that kids girlfriend he left in the future comes back and is all “WTF?” when she sees him with his new love interest? Didn’t take long for that kid to get past his girlfriend who he tells he’ll find a way to bring back “no matter what”. Love is fickle like that)

Dinosaurs. You want to know about the dinosaurs, right? I mean, that’s the ultimate draw of Terra Nova.  Just like Jurassic Park, the first dinosaur you see is a Brontosaurus type thing. Just like in Jurassic Park, there is T-Rex style dinosaur attack. Just like Jurassic Park, there are Raptor like dinos that attack a group of kids. What I was struck by is the shitty CG. For a pilot that cost this much money, and which was delayed because of the fx work, I couldn’t believe that I was watching SyFy level CG. I mean, it all looks like an expensive show…until you see the dinosaurs. Even Spielberg’s other show, Falling Skies, had better CG than this. I like dinosaurs, but I can already tell that I don’t give a shit about this show. I’ll keep watching if only because my girlfriend is interested in it. Maybe it will get better. It took a good two-thirds of the season before Falling Skies got interesting. Both shows suffer from the same problem: the characters are totally uninteresting. They are bland. Spielberg bland. My prediction is that Terra Nova will be seen as a big failure. I would expect a significant drop off in terms of viewership over the next couple weeks. We’ll see.



9 Responses

  1. I happen to love Supernatural and always have. I don’t think I would ever call it high art but it has, for most of it’s 7 year run, been unerringly entertaining. At it’s best it is fast paced, exciting, and funny. At it’s worst it still has great chemistry between it’s leads and is fun to watch.

    I have always gotten the impression that horror fans are embarrassed to admit they like it, which is why it never comes up. I figure there are a couple reasons for this. One, it’s kind of goofy, and maybe people want to pretend they don’t watch what is purposefully not high minded things? Maybe it is the fan base, which seems to be dominated by women who talk about how dreamy the stars are. I have had friends say they have no interest because it’s something their wife watches. Or maybe it’s the CW, most people are ashamed to admit they watch something on the network or the WB which proceeded it.

  2. I think it’s the CW thing, mostly. There’s a stigma attached to that station. Like “it’s for teen girls” or something.

    It’s a shame, because Supernatural is really awesome show.

  3. I like you, love Supernatural. Admitedly, I prefer the monster of the week to the continuing storyline, but have really come to enjoy that part too. I have met almost no one who really knows the series though. Having seen all the previous episodes, I must say that this is one of the best season openers, I hope the rest of the season holds up to this opening.

  4. You guys watch a show that’s on the CW? And you guys call yourselves horror fans. Real horror fans wouldn’t watch such teenage-girl fluff. Geez, and to think I thought you guys were cool.

    Just kidding. You guys know I love the show. While it had its growing pains and hit a few bumps down the road (which the Impala handled with aplomb), it’s easily the most under-appreciated horror franchise I’ve ever seen. Then again, it has lasted as many seasons as the great BUFFY, so their is a loyal fan-base.

    Speaking to that point, I have several friends that, along with their wives, love the show but aren’t horror fans. In fact, they think my passion for horror is strange. These same people are also huge fans of stuff like CSI and THE MENTALIST, which I can’t stand. Perhaps it lured in a general audience that watches CW type shows and horror fans kind of shied away from it because of the stigma that the WB and now the CW carries.

  5. Thought Terra Nova suffered from some facile plotting in the beginning (one little torch and ta-da, I’m out of a maximum security prison!). But the kid’s attraction to the girl makes sense with his fresh wound, and they aren’t all making out yet, or anything. And other than the bront at the beginning, I thought the T-Rex things and the slashers looked pretty good.

    It is a mishmash of what “sells”, and the lead is a little irritating (I think his wife thinks so, too; they barely touched), but all in all, I’ll keep watching.

    Oh, and what are they shooting out of those guns, paint balls? Not a single dino took a hit. With all that technology, they should have something that’ll drop one every once and awhile.

  6. There’s a guy I know who’s been making free to download radioplays and now he’s saying Supernatural stole the plot of Leviathan from one of his shows.

  7. Link? I’ll listen.

    Not sure how he knows about the “plot” of the Leviathans, considering for two episodes they haven’t really explained any motivations or intentions other than generic “they want to eat people” stuff.

  8. Yeah, the idea of Leviathans is nothing new. Several of the paranormal/urban fantasy writers are using Leviathans now days in their works; though each uses and describes them in different ways. Plus, an entity known as Leviathan was used in the Hellraiser series and, if anything, I’ve noticed a heavy Hellraiser influence on the new season; lots of chains.

    Not saying it’s not possible, but it’s more likely just a coincidence.

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