Rewatching TV Shows

How Many TV Rewatches Is Too Many? — Vulture.

The idea of a TV advice column seemed weird to me at first, but now that I’ve read this particular column, I get it. Also, this first question on rewatching TV makes me feel less alone (well, I know I’m not the only person I know who constantly rewatches shows, but I know quite a few people who look at me strangely when I say I’m rewatching something [that I just watched, I’m looking at you Arrow]). Emphasizing relevant portions.

How many times is too many when it comes to rewatching? I’ve seen Six Feet Under twice within eight months — and a year later, I want to watch it again. Same with Mad MenLostThe Sopranos, and a few others. I still have some TV I need to watch for the first time, but I love the familiarity of those shows that have a “more than a TV show” relation to my life. Which shows have you seen the most? How much is too much? —Collin

The show I’ve seen the most is Sports Night. (West Wing‘s a close second, but not seasons five and six, so.) Sports Night makes me happy and brings me comfort every time I watch it, whether it’s a full rewatch or just an ep here and there. You know how relationship experts say it’s important to do new activities with one’s long-term partner to keep the relationship fresh? Well … I watch Sports Night during every major emotional event in my life, good or bad, so I never feel like I’ve grown apart from it. I’ve been doing this since 2002, when the DVDs came out. Maybe I’m the wrong person to tell you how much is too much.

But you asked, so: There is not one big TV to-do list that everyone has to follow. You say you “need” to watch some shows for the first time, but says who? If you want to just watch your shows over and over, there’s no TV police who are going to stop you. TV is not just one thing in our lives. Sometimes it’s comfort. Sometimes it’s an escape. Sometimes it’s an almost academic endeavor. Sometimes it’s “mindless.” Sometimes we’re jealous of the characters, sometimes we aspire to be like them, sometimes we recoil at their behavior. One of the ways TV brings me joy is that I can count on it. I know Casey will always be missing his white shirt — he doesn’t have a favorite, but it’s his favorite — and that Jeremy will always hate eggnog and that Isaac will always survive his stroke. But another way TV dazzles me is through surprise and discovery. I watch pilots with hope in my heart, and stumbling upon a new series to welcome into my TV life always feels good, and it always ameliorates whatever disappointment lingers from having regrettably watched a crummy show. If you’re at a point in your life where you’re making lots of new discoveries and forming new bonds and developing new routines, it’s completely fine to want TV to provide stable pleasures. But should that change, and you’re looking for the thrill of discovery, in this, as in all things: TV is here for you.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has such strong feelings about television, who recognizes that it’s an art and a comfort and a friend, because it’s been all of those things to me.

Some things I’ve rewatched a lot (or could rewatch at any time and still enjoy it):

  • Angel — it’s my favorite television series, so it’s been a LOT.  I haven’t rewatched in a while, but after watching Arrow and recognizing the strong similarities between the shows (a tormented soul seeks redemption in a city that needs saving, with a team of funny/similarly lost souls? Team Arrow is basically Angel Investigations), I am in need of a rewatch.
  • Charmed – definitely used to be a comfort show. A rewatch is certainly in order. But just my favorite episodes. Lots of season 2 and season 3 episodes. And a couple of season 5s.
  • Castle – I have a lot of season 5 episodes stored on my DVR. I’ve defintiely rewatched the season 5 premiere a lot.
  • The Cosby Show – classic rewatch comfort. This show makes m laugh every. single. time. No matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes
  • The Golden Girls – me and my grandma used to watch this when I was a kid, then when I was older, I’d watch episodes on my own.

And if I fall really hard in love with a show, like I did with Castle a few years back, Parks and Recreation Seasons 3 and on, and Arrow right now or even Doctor Who, I will watch it the first time all the way through, then immediately rewatch certain episodes, if not the whole series. Part of why I love TV is getting to spend loads and loads of time with the characters–it’s what makes TV so uniquely different from other media. In movies, you get just the hour and a half to three hours with characters, even with sequels, it’s not that much time. With books, you get a closer look at characters, but again not as much time. So when I like a show, it means I want to spend time with those characters, so when I am done and there are no more new adventures to be had, I rewatch, looking for new character interactions or moments of characterization or relationships I didn’t notice before. (Then, sometimes, when I’m really desperate, I turn to fanfiction, but we don’t need to talk about that aspect of my life.)

So, I’m clearly an advocate of rewatching TV, but if that’s not you, then fine. But when I’m down or bored, TV has always been available to me to cheer me up, take my mind off things, sometimes even teach me new things or inspire me to do new things (I totally wear lipstick now because of Felicity Smoak). Rewatching TV is my comfort activity.

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Upfronts 2014: Shondaland Thursday Coming This Fall — But Can She Sustain It?

 

Shonda Rhimes is ABC’s biggest money maker right now. She’s been re-upped through 2018 and nearly all her shows get greenlit without much effort or fuss. Scandal is one of television’s hottest shows right now and Grey’s Anatomy has been 10 years strong, so it makes sense to keep that legacy going. And of course, if Grey’s starts to falter and Scandal has a tentative “end date,” then ABC wants to get some Shonda shows in there that could overlap and continue the dynasty.

This fall, Thursdays become Shondalnd Thursdays. In addition to Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes’ new show, starring Viola Davis–How to Get Away with Murder–will premiere in the 10pm slot. Talk about a strong lead in. We know just from the Shonda brand that it will be highly watched, highly talked about, and will get ABC the Thursday ratings they want for the first few weeks at least.

But can she sustain it? Doing two shows at a time has got to be rough. The last time Shonda Rhimes had three shows on the air–no one remembers Off the Map, in conjunction with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice? Exactly, that’s what happens when you have three shows on the air. Grey’s was in it’s seventh season and Private Practice in what became it’s second to last. Three shows is draining. Three shows is stretching yourself thin. Three shows is hoping you can trust the people in charge of your other shows with the characters, with the storylines. And while there are shows with big names attached spread across multiple shows (Dick Wolf (L&O), Jerry Bruckheimer), they don’t have the showrunner, creator, creative input that Shonda has. So we’ll see how well each show does with Shonda spreading herself across them like this.

My biggest example of a highly involved creator trying three shows at once is 2002 Joss Whedon.

It’s almost like he’s saying, “Shonda, beware!”

As he was entering Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s seventh season and Angel’s fourth season, Firefly came out. Cult hit that it (and the other two shows as well) was, that was a rough year for Whedonites. Yes, there were other factors to Firefly’s cancel (cough*FOX executive meddling*cough), but season 7 of Buffy and Angel’s 4th are some of the most contested seasons among fans. There’s a lot of dislike in the character development, storyline speed and progress, and just a general division among fans about whether or not they’re the weakest seasons in the bunch. Firefly was cancelled after 13 episodes (well, more like 10?), it became Buffy’s last season, and Angel’s second to last. In addition to all the other pressures that caused each show to go through it’s personal rough patch, it could not have helped that Joss had to concern himself with all three shows, in some way. Focusing on Firefly doesn’t mean that he could have completely ignored showrunner responsibilities for Angel and Buffy. That kind of stretching takes a toll on the showrunner and the shows.

I hope this doesn’t happen to Shonda. Both Grey’s (simply due to it’s length) and Scandal already have many fans once in love with the shows expressing apprehension about the coming seasons. Grey’s is losing a major, fan favorite character. Scandal’s struggled with White House saturation. With these cracks in the armor, can Shonda risk dividing her attention to another show? Only time, and ratings, will tell.

 

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ConStar Watches S.H.I.E.L.D “Eye Spy”

Tired ConStar = Late posts. Other Tuesday shows coming later in the week (maybe Friday).

The opening of the show, and some of the general feel of the show, reminded me of 80s and 90s action/adventure shows. Just the glimpse of memory I have from seeing them on TV when I was little–so maybe that’s not the case (maybe like how Adventures of Lois and Clark or Wonder Woman or something might have felt). But it feels different than a current TV show and I think that’s where it’s losing some of it’s ground with the fans and people who want to like it.

I also think that Skye is a big problem. I’ve seen a lot of Skye hate on twitter and while sometimes I don’t feel the same way, in this episode, I agreed. Her attitude with Coulson and her cockiness, while a character trait meant for a purpose, edge beyond the line of me understanding. It’s annoying. Plain and simple. She started to really aggravate me, especially in the beginning and the end of the episode–when she felt in her zone. Her attitude is better during the middle of episodes, when she’s out of her element and afraid to mouth off. But once she’s back in the safety of the Bus, she could get thrown out the window and I’d be pleased. Also, we know she’s doing some sort of double agent move. Don’t be cocky and arrogant when you’re trying to lay low and gather secrets from these guys. It definitely makes me like you even less. Skye also annoyed me when she claimed she had an “outside the box” theory then said “super powers.” Uhm, the whole organization DEALS in super powers, this is not an original idea. I couldn’t tell if I should be more upset with Skye or the writers on that one.

As I’ve said, and will keep saying, Melinda and Coulson are my favorite characters. I did enjoy Skye’s line about them being the Mom and Dad of the gang. The scenes with them have more depth and subtlety and intrigue than most of the rest of the episodes. If the show was just Coulson and May (arguing with each other or fighting other people), I’d be perfectly content.

 

Again, the plot of the episode felt kind of retro (but I couldn’t really define from show or an exact era) and that wasn’t bad. But the audience surrogate character problems and some SHIELD gibberish problems with Fitz/Simmons (they’re cute and have great outfits, but I still kind of glaze over when they’re a focus) distracted me from enjoying the main plot. ALSO: wouldn’t the handler notice that Ward and Akila were VASTLY different heights? That should have been the first clue.

I liked that we were reminded of Coulson’s “difference” and that people who know him can see it. I also like that Coulson’s motivation is to give people a second chance because he was given one.

I hope both in the course of the plot/story arcs speeding up (hopefully in the next couple of episodes), and the writers being able to write based on mass audience feedback, that the problems it’s facing will be adjusted soon. I think people are giving up on it, but I don’t want to because it has so much potential. It’s thankfully been picked up for the full season and I live with the hope that when it’s in season 3 and I am loving it, I can go back to season 1 and be like “oh look at the babies!” like I do with so many other shows. I’m not giving up!

Related links:

SHIELD Producer Explains Why Show Kinda Had a Slow Start – I would argue it’s still having a slow start, but I always remember that Joss did this with Dollhouse and then it massively picked up, so… again. I maintain hope.

‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: Coulson Tracks A Former Agent Gone Rogue In ‘Eye Spy’

ConStar Watches S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Asset”

I still can’t tell how I feel about this show. I believe it will pick up, but waiting for it to pick up in the way that I want is rough. But I can tell they’re laying some foundations and working out relationships so I’m giving it more time. And it has both the money and the audience to actually give us time to watch it grow. Unlike every other Whedon show. I remember not being sure how I felt about Dollhouse and then episode 6 came along and I was in for the ride.

Why can’t Skye have a tech S.O.? lol I suppose Ward does tech stuff as he showed when he cut off her offer to do some techy bits.

i enjoyed Fitz/Simmons’ outfits. 

I think I’m not alone when I say I’m not a fan of Skye’s double agent act (though most people, from what I gather, are not fans of Skye herself. I don’t quite like her too much either).  I think her cockiness is what i dislike about her. And she’s selfish? Though, perhaps, maybe that’s just in the context of SHIELD. She doesn’t really know or care about these people yet and the show hasn’t given her an opportunity to yet. Maybe she cares about other people on a larger scale? but her cockiness is annoying. I did enjoy her “Nope!” though. Skye’s cockiness drops quick when there are like 5 dudes after her!

Whats wrong with Coulson’s muscle memory? There’s definitely more to this than we know (what happened in Tahiti? Did he actually ever go to Tahiti? What did SHIELD do to him to bring him back?). What are they foreshadowing to be wrong with him? I really want more Coulson. And more Melinda May! She’s definitely my second favorite character and I want to know more about her and her backstory (and why she didn’t want to join in–what happened in her last mission– and does that have to do with not liking being called The Cavalry). More Melinda and Coulson being Agent Bros, please!

Hmm, I don’t know why I wasn’t feeling Skye’s emotional turn around at the end. Her life was threatened in the two episodes before, why was this one so much more traumatic for her? Half of the time she was threatened in the episode, she was being her normal, cocky self. I get that it’s a defense mechanism, given when we could assume about her even before she revealed her backstory, but I don’t feel like we earned that story based on what she went through in the episode. I could get some introspection, but not a full out reveal to Ward about her past. I don’t get if she’s suddenly on their side or if she’s playing the “hide deception in honesty” card as she did with Quinn in the episode. I just don’t think we earned her confession.

I liked the tag more than the episode as a whole. As a non-comic book reader, I didn’t quite understand what was happening, but tweets sort of made me pull it together at the end. I think my problem with this episode is that it’s exposition for Graviton the Villain and exposition can be the most boring part (even in a great story). It’s why I’m giving SHIELD so much of a chance (that’s a lie. It’s because it’s Joss. and because it’s not bad, it just hasn’t really found it’s footing yet, but I know it’s coming), all of these beginning episodes are exposition for something greater to come. I don’t think Disney/Marvel would have greenlit it yet if they weren’t shown a larger, fuller story trajectory that we’re not seeing yet.

I’m interested in seeing how the Graviton arc plays out (as I think that’s what this show really needs, to start showing us it’s arcs. A comic book story, a Whedon story doesn’t work story of the week; those stories are best told in arcs. We’re just getting the seeds right now.

ConStar Watches S.H.I.E.L.D. “0-8-4”

*Finally

I rewatched the Pilot first, because it’d been so long and I’d meant to rewatch it. Coulson and Mike were the most interesting parts of the pilot. I also enjoyed Maria Hill, though I really want to get more character depth. Like how we know Coulson is a super[adorable]-geek.

A quick google of Chloe Bennett (Skye) tells me she is half Chinese. Soooo I’ma need some Chinese to show up at some point. (Or, well, she was only 11 (!!) When Firefly was on, but she could have been a valuable cast member to make people less upset about the problematic Chinese on that show lol)

“Use a coaster.” Coulson is my favorite character. I need less Skye and more Coulson.

Camilla Reyes kinda looks like Cobie Smulders. In the promos I thought she was in this one too (and I wondered how she managed to work both). Well, with her hair up. She looks different with her hair down.

The action-y bits kinda make me glaze over a bit. Though the weird energy wave staff thing was pretty cool.

I think I need a ship to help me out with investment in some of these characters. I kind of don’t care about Skye or Ward but maybe I would if I were waiting for them to get together? I also think that when they start working as a team, instead of being such separate units, I can focus more. As of now, their differing agendas splits the narrative focus. I think when they solidify themselves as a team, the storytelling will get better.

Mid-life crisis Phil lol. “But you gave them something better: a common enemy.” Exactly, Phil. And he has recent experience with unifying a diverse and conflicted team.

But Skye is about to wreck that newly formed teamwork. I definitely don’t trust her.

HI Sam!

Melinda May is slowing increasing as my second favorite character. “You guys talk a lot.”

What I Watched Today – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I just need to say this title is way too long. Either just SHIELD or maybe the abbreviation could be AOS (I guess MOAS could work? but I dunno…what the fandom will decide on as a group? I was just glad for Twitter’s auto hashtag feature so I didn’t have to type it every time as I live-tweeted)

This show did really well (for me) to start off with J. August Richards (I watched him on my absolute favorite show Angel). Also points for diversity (which even minority nerds who love this stuff were wondering if this show would have much of that, or be like most other shows on TV right now). Though I see it only says “Guest Starring” for J. August so we’ll see what that means for his character appearing later. (Gunn on Angel started only as a guest role… so I have hope.)

Melinda May, an Asian American! Two points for diversity. Let’s hope it increases as the show continues. ABC seems to be the best at the diversity right now, but mostly that’s because the other most diverse shows on the network are run by Shonda Rhimes.)

(Ron Glass?! Hi Shepherd Book! What other Whedon alum will we see? It could be a fun game!)

COBIE SMULDERS!! Now that HIMYM is ending, I wonder if she’ll be back for season 2. Or if she’s somehow doing double duty. It must be nice for her knowing that should the show survive (and really, are we doubting at this point? Between the promotion it got and the sheer number of Avengers/Marvel Comics fans) , she’ll have a guaranteed gig after her other show is over.

I think I got a little lost in the plot towards the middle, but nothing a rewatch and a careful eye on clues (a Whedon thing) can’t either cure or peak my intrigue for later episodes. But the episode really had a lot to do, more than most pilots I think, so it’s understandable that a few things end up lost in the shuffle. It had to do the normal character/tone/dynamic introduction, but it also had to connect to both the Movie and Comic Book canons (there were many references to both) and there are just so many characters already. The premiere had so much to do, but I believe it will just get better, because it’s the Whedons.

“With great power comes… a ton of weird crap that you’re not prepared to deal with!” Great Joss style line as well as Marvel canon humor.

Even when I watch Angel, the pilot (as with most shows) is rough to watch and I just rewatch the early seasons to remember the character beginnings so when the great character development arcs hits, I can appreciate it again. I’m sure in a few weeks, there will be a great arc in play.

Really looking forward to this to watching this grow and unfold!

ConStar Studies Orphan Black (And Dollhouse)

If you haven’t already, you should watch BBC America’s Orphan Black. I should probably post something about the writing (this being a lot of the point of this blog and all) but like most Orphan Black watchers, you should watch for it’s lead (and supporting and secondary and guest) actress Tatiana Maslany. She is nothing short of amazing in the way she portrays up to maybe 8 (i honestly have lost track) different characters and makes them each their own person.

Yes, the point of acting is to be able to embody different characters with ease and believability but Tatiana does it for the same production often in the same scene as as the picture above details (this gifset on tumblr is better), she portrays a character pretending to be a different character, which basically creates a new character. 

I’m a big Joss Whedon fan (have you caught on to that yet? No? It’ll become more evident I’m sure) and while I loved his short-lived show Dollhouse, I wasn’t a big fan of Eliza Dushku playing the lead role. [For those who dont know: Dollhouse had the idea that a human body could be “rented” out to other people, companies, etcwith the original owner’s mental personality removed. The “doll” became a blank slate and the Dollhouse could “imprint” a new personality as requested by the client. So it required being able to embody many different personality types, sometimes with amazing quick changes.] And she didn’t really exceed my expectations during the show’s two seasons. There were maybe a couple of moments where I was impressed. People like Eliza because she’s “hot” and is a “tough action girl” type character, but her acting isn’t all that impressive. Not for the purpose of that show especially. And her mediocre skills stood out in stark comparison to her co-stars (especially Enver Gjokaj who really could switch from one character to another and really make me believe that they were completely different people. 

So watching Orphan Black with Tatiana Maslany makes me wish she’d been discovered years ago and was the lead of that other show about one actress playing multiple characters. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so. It’s got a great beginning story-wise (should lead to some interesting philosophical places) and great acting (most of it done by Tatiana Maslany).

Let me know if you watch!

Joss Whedon says:

“The goal is never about the medium. It’s always about the next story.”

~@josswhedon

In this day and age, the word “television” doesn’t always mean “watching on a television set in the living room.” This quote speaks to the power of stories and, considering it’s Joss discussing SHIELD, the power of television stories, regardless of the device people are watching it on. We don’t care about network (except to think about the kind of shows they bring us), we care about the stories and characters. So Netflix can bring us new stories/characters, Hulu, YouTube, NBC, ABC (ugh I guess CBS too -__-). As long as we get continuous stories (which is what TV provides us that movies, books, and plays can’t to the same extent).

ConStar Studies Joss Whedon

I love Joss Whedon. I don’t think he’s a perfect showrunner–none of them are, but he is my favorite overall so far. Let me start with: I could never get into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve seen several episodes and know the plot for most of the series, but I could never sit down and watch every episode. I really don’t know why. It’s my biggest failing as a Joss fan, but perhaps someday I will correct this (and blog here about it). Other than that big fail on my part, I love all his other shows: Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse* (special shout out to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog and his movies Serenity, The Avengers, and Cabin the Woods). I can’t wait for his upcoming show SHIELD to come out (though I believe that’s more Jed, Zack, and Maurissa). So here I will try to explain why I love Joss so much.

*Maybe I only like Joss’ one word shows…

I love the worlds he writes in. I’m a nerd who likes the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Fairy tales and monsters and mythology are my jam. So sure I got hooked on Angel (back on TNT when reruns came on before Charmed, another fave show of mine) and followed Joss to Firefly and Dollhouse–all in the same genre. But I don’t get hooked on all sci-fi/fantasy (I’ve never watched Fringe or Supernatural for instance). So what is it about Joss?

I can’t say I can place it, but one place to start are his characters. He really makes you care about them, even when they can turn evil in a second. There is always something about his characters that make you love them. They often are searching for redemption, they usually have a bit of gray & grey morality to them. They are often misfits banding together to fight evil or save the world. And I love how his characters love each other. How they try to save each other and are friends. Watching them learn and grow from each other is really great.

Also Joss can be very good at plotting stories through a season almost seamlessly. On Angel, we weave from Darla’s arrival at the end of season 1, to her involvement with Wolfram and Hart and her brief humanity, to her mission to try to make Angel evil in season 2, to it not woking despite the sex, to her pregnant return in season 3, to her death and Connor’s birth, his kidnapping arc and subsequent return in later season 3, to the Jasmine arc of season 4 (which has a lot of rough patches–more on that some other time) to saving the world and Wolfram and Hart offering them the company in season 5. Each of those major arcs stem from those five minutes at the end of “To Shanshu in LA” where we find Darla in that box. I love that. I love how even though each season has a different feel and new characters and villains who are more and more morally ambiguous, the major arcs of each season are connected to the last.

Joss also has really good plot twists. The final episodes of Angel are among my favorite for how glued to the TV you are.

There will assuredly be more on Joss later, but I wanted to start out with my fave showrunner and blather for a bit.