A-Maze-ing Lucifer Reviews

For me, being a fan of a TV show, or a book series, or even a movie franchise, has never been just about the source material. That’s where it starts, of course. But when I’m really obsessed with something, I always want more. Not spoilers, mind you. I’m allergic to those. (Seriously, I just got up and left the room to avoid a scene from an episode of Stranger Things that I haven’t watched yet).

By “more,” I mean that I want to know the characters better. I want to dive deeper into the storylines than the original material allows. I want to imagine what happened right before the episode started, or after the book ended, or analyze what a character was really thinking when he said a particular line.

For many years, this was a solitary pursuit on my part. Me, making up my own little stories about the characters. Filling in history where there wasn’t any yet, coming up with explanations when there seemed to be plot holes.

I was in college when I first discovered fan fiction, and what a revelation it was. Other people wanted more, too! They wanted to write missing scenes and dissect dialogue every bit as much as I did.

Another thing that quenches my thirst for “more” is reading rich, in-depth reviews written by someone who obviously knows and loves the source material just as much as I do. For me, finding reviews like these is actually rarer than finding excellent fan fiction.

I had two favorite reviewers for Supernatural: GaelicSpirit (https://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/) and Kroki_Refur, both over on LiveJournal. Sadly, I don’t think either of them still writes regular reviews, but even their old ones (or sporadic new ones) are worth reading if you’re a fan of the show. Gaelic is a more of a Dean fan and Refur is definitely a Sam enthusiast, so it’s always fun to read both perspectives and get a fully rounded view of each episode. (Bonus: Both authors also write fanfic for the show, and it’s reeeeally good.)

There was a great reviewer on the official message boards for The Mentalist, but I could never find her again after CBS abandoned the traditional fan boards for a Facebook system. 😦

When it came to Forever, the place to be was AfterBuzz TV on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCcVQKtF8zHVQoTJt8NNMJA). They always had a great discussion of the current episode, and sometimes interviewed the cast and showrunners. They even helped create a subplot that later appeared on the show!

And now we come to Lucifer, one of my newest obsessions. I’ve been reading fanfic for this one for a while now (I even recommended some on here), but only recently did I come across some cool episode reviews via a link on Twitter. The author, LaToya Ferguson, really delves into the characters and plotlines, sometimes pointing out small elements I didn’t notice, or bringing up possibilities I never considered. Which is exactly what I’m looking for in a review.

So, if you’re hungry for more Lucifer, and you just can’t handle the three-week wait for the next new episode, why not check out these a-Maze-ing bits of post-ep analysis:

https://www.avclub.com/c/tv-review/lucifer

You may not always agree with the author, but that’s part of the fun, too. Intelligent debates between true fans are always worth reading.

Happy New Year, my fellow LuciFans! 🙂

 

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Season Premiere Dates!

Hey, all! After three months of reality TV, our favorite scripted shows are FINALLY coming back and I absolutely can’t wait! So, here are the premiere dates (*** = the time or day has changed from last season):

 

Gotham***: Already Started! Now airs on Thursday at 8pm on FOX. I don’t watch this one anymore, but it looks like Bruce is wearing a mask this year, getting closer and closer to becoming you-know-who!

The Orville (NEW): Already Started! Airs on Thursday at 9pm on FOX. This is a brand new show and so far I love it! If you enjoyed the movie GalaxyQuest, then you’ll definitely dig this very funny, Star Trek-esque space adventure. As an added bonus, one of the stars is Adrianne Palicki, who played the first (and better) Kara on Smallville, as well as Jess on Supernatural. Highly recommended!

The Good Doctor (NEW): Starts Monday, September 25th, 10pm on ABC. New show about a surgeon with autism. Could be interesting. I’m planning on giving it a shot.

This Is Us: Starts Tuesday, September 26th, 9pm on NBC. Fantastic show! So fantastic, I’ll forgive last year’s bad finale. Are we ever going to find out how Jack died?

Chicago PD: Starts Wednesday, September 27th, 10pm on NBC. I’m wracking my brains and honestly can’t remember where this one left off. Can someone please remind me?

Chicago Fire***: Starts Thursday, September 28th, 10pm on NBC. I actually do remember where this one left off. A bunch of them were trapped in a burning building. Not sure who’ll make it. The commercials are making it seem as if Matt’s going to die. They could be misleading us, or preparing us for true heartbreak. Are the other two Chicago shows coming back? Anyone know?

Lucifer***: Starts Monday, October 2nd, 8pm on FOX. As you can probably tell from the image above, this is the one I’m most looking forward to!!!! He got kidnapped, he’s in the desert (???), he’s got wings…what the H3LL is going on? Can’t wait to find out. Also, I heard a rumor someone SUPER special is joining the cast. 🙂

The Mayor (NEW): Starts Tuesday, October 3rd, 9:30pm on ABC. New show about a young rapper who runs for mayor as a publicity stunt…and unexpectedly wins. And, since this guy actually cares about his community and wants to make a difference, he rises to the challenge. Sounds pretty good to me. I’ll give it a shot.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (NEW): Starts Tuesday, October 3rd, 10pm on ABC. Average guy has to save the world, with help from an angel? Or something like that? Don’t know much about this one, but I like the lead actors enough to give it a shot.

Supergirl: Starts Monday, October 9th, 8pm on The CW. I lost track of this one a bit last season, but will definitely try to catch up this year. Gotta love GIRL POWER!!!

Supernatural: Starts Thursday, October 12th, 8pm on The CW. Lucifer, Mary and alt-Bobby are in another dimension. Castiel, Crowley, Rowena and Kelly Klein are all dead. Oh yeah, and the spawn of Satan was just born. Maybe some good things will happen in the Season 13 opener? Here’s hoping!

Happy watching, everybody! 🙂

 

 

News, Reviews and More!

Hey, all – sorry I’ve been offline for so long! Lots of stuff going on right now – some good, some bad. I’ll try to catch you up! Okay, so the news first:

Publications

I read a werewolf novella by Joshua Werner and loved it so much I just had to write a review! My review of Rampant can be found in the May issue of Bloodbond, a werewolf-, shapeshifter- and vampire-themed magazine published by Alban Lake Publishing. The other content in the zine is all fiction, poetry and artwork pertaining to shapeshifters and vamps, so if you’re as crazy about creatures of the night as I am, be sure to check that out!

Up next: I have two stories coming out this August in Chicken Soup for the Soul books! Yay! The first story, “One Step at a Time,” is about my cat Sputnik’s miracle recovery from a severe health crisis. That can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Really Did That?, which will be available on August 8. The second story, “Out of the Mouths of Strangers,” is a bit more humorous and includes MANY embarrassing moments from my junior high and high school years. That one will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind of America, which comes out on August 29.

 

Movie Reviews

In other happy news, I was fortunate enough to see THREE superhero movies in the last several months. Here’s what I thought of them:

Logan

A good movie, no doubt. High-quality and well-written. I do question the need to make this an R movie. I’m not sure that was the right way to send off the character (at least Hugh Jackman’s version of him). Wolverine has many younger fans who wouldn’t be able to see this film, and therefore wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to their favorite character. My other main issue with Logan is that it isn’t a well-balanced film. This is one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in recent years. Virtually every character dies. And before they do, the majority of them suffer from physical and mental illness, as well as torture at the hands of their enemies. There is very little humor, and very little hope. The tone is dark and stays that way throughout, rather unrelentingly. Also, the f-word is overused. When I hear it that many times in a row, at a certain point the writer in me starts thinking, Couldn’t you have come up with a better, more creative expletive?

Despite everything, this still was a really good movie. Definitely worth seeing, but I’m not sure I’d want to own it. My suggestion: rent it when you’re in a good mood. If you’re already feeling low, this movie will only bring you down further.

Wonder Woman

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see this movie. Now, I can’t imagine NOT having seen it. Wonder Woman is pure magic. Unlike Logan, this movie is perfectly balanced, with just the right mix of hope, humor, action, romance and sorrow. This is the first female superhero movie to come along in…geez, I don’t even know how many years – and it delivers in a BIG way! Just seeing those powerful Amazon warriors training on their horses in the beginning of the film…I got chills. I didn’t even know how much I needed this movie until I saw it. No matter what your gender is, I promise you will leave the theatre grinning and hoping the next Wonder Woman movie is coming out sooner rather than later. Readers of this blog should be glad I don’t have a lot of time right now, otherwise you’d be getting a 5,000-word post raving about Wonder Woman.

My suggestion: See it!

Captain Underpants

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie with all three of my nephews, and I really enjoyed it. Though much of the humor is of the bathroom variety (as you can guess from the movie’s title), the core story of friendship between the two main characters is touching. As a writer (and a big superhero fan), I loved that the MCs are an author and an illustrator who created their own superhero and publish their own comic book. The fact that they get to see their creation come to life before their eyes – something any writer would give up their pinky toe to see happen – only adds to the joy of this film.

My suggestion: If you’ve got kids between 7-11 years old, take them to see it! They won’t be disappointed, and neither will you. 🙂

TV Reviews

No, no, I didn’t forget about the TV shows! That would never happen.

Last season, two shows tied for first place: Limitless, for being so friggin’ awesome in its first season, and Supernatural for being so friggin’ awesome in its ELEVENTH season! Both shows demonstrated amazing creativity and I had such a great time watching them that it was impossible to choose. I give them both a 9.5 score for the season. Runners-up included my old love, The X-Files, as well as the sparkly newcomer, Lucifer.

Some friends of mine were disgruntled about TXF, as it seemed the network might just be drawing us in with Mulder and Scully, only to reboot a new version of the show starring the recently introduced characters of Miller and Einstein. Personally, I’m withholding judgement until this actually happens. The last time I checked, Season Eleven was listed as a “sure thing” – with the original cast – so we’ll see. I do like the new characters, but Mulder and Scully need to be the stars. Always.

This season I had to make some sacrifices and only watched a few shows religiously. Among those were Lucifer and Supernatural (duh). I loved the mom-drama on both shows, but in the end, Lucifer won out for just being incredible from start to finish. Last year was a little hit-and-miss for me, but this year was DYNAMITE. There was much more focus on the supernatural elements of the show, and the emotions were running a lot higher this year, too.

I’m glad they at least established the beginning of a romance between Chloe and Lucifer. When shows wait too long to introduce romantic interest between the leads, the characters can get stuck in the friend zone. Then, if the writers do decide to put them together down the line, it’s very awkward. (Castle was one show that got this right, while The Mentalist waited too long). The characters don’t have to be together all the time – we just have to know there’s some attraction between them.

Oh, and the Lucifer finale? I just have one word: WINGZZZZZ!!!!! Also, Lucifer gets mega-points for not killing off any beloved characters in the finale. Unlike Supernatural :(. Um, some of those people can come back…right? Please???

Elsewhere on TV: Chicago Fire: We needed more time to get to know Anna before they killed her off. Grimm: Why the heck did they cancel this amazing show??? Emerald City: Too caught up in the glitz of its concept to deliver on an emotional level. This is Us: If you’re not watching it yet, start now! Great show, with many alums from other shows we love, including Smallville and Supernatural. Plus, it’s not getting cancelled anytime soon, so you can watch without fear.

Novel Update

Some of you may recall that I was in the process of editing one of my novels. Last time I posted about it, the book was at 150K words. Now, thanks to an awesome writing partner (and her equally awesome son), the manuscript is at about 106K and still shrinking. That’s down from 300K, people! Cutting your book IS doable.

For more help on cutting words from your manuscript, check out this post:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/how-to-cut-thousands-of-words/ 

Loads of great advice in the comments, too, along with a wonderful quote that sums up the cutting process:

“Every word you cut gives its power to the words that remain.” ~ Cathy’s brother

Wish me luck in getting my book down under 100K, and I hope to be back soon with more news, reviews and other goodies!

~Gretchen

 

Five Lucifer Fanfics (and One Fanart) to Get You Through the Hiatus

So, Lucifer‘s been on hiatus for a hellishly long time. And we’ve still got two-and-a-half weeks to go before the Prince of Darkness returns on May 1st. Feeling antsy? Missing your favorite fallen angel? These five devilishly good fics (and one gorgeous fanart!) will get you through the rest of the hiatus:

There’s No Music in Hell by Solo’s Falcon
Summary: The murder of a priest leads detective Chloe Decker to a secluded abbey to investigate. Having Lucifer as her partner proves to be both an asset and a liability. But keeping him on a leash is not her biggest problem. Dealing with her growing attraction towards him is. While they struggle with their feelings, a threat lurks in the shadows determined to bring the Devil to his knees.

Damnatio Memoriae by Ice Queen1
Summary: Chloe tries to solve the riddle that is Lucifer Morningstar. Dan even manages to help. When mysterious ritualized killings start showing up, Chloe suspects Lucifer may know more than he lets on. Problem is, she doesn’t know what she thinks she does. Lucifer Whump. Chapter 21 is rated M for violence at readers’ suggestion, but remainder of story is T.

Cecidit Angelus by Ice Queen1
Summary: When Lucifer is picked up wandering the highway alone at night with no memory of who he is or how he got there, he’s brought to a mental hospital. The poor staff has no idea what to make of him, and unfortunately, neither does he. Another patient by the name of Constantine may be able to help – or maybe he’s just as crazy as he is.

A Conversation – Long Overdue by Skaoi
Summary: A guy walks into a bar…stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Anything Brighter by Black Hawk
Summary: All the coy smiles and misdirections that Lucifer has come to rely upon don’t distract Chloe from the handful of moments she has happened to catch him unawares. The eerie tightness in his dark eyes when he thinks no one is looking twists something inside of her in response.

Lucifer Morningstar (fanart) by TricksterKat209

Enjoy!

See you on May 1st, my fellow Lucifans!

Shower Them With Books

Bookshelves 1

Photo by S. Benning

Once you’ve been to a few baby showers, you get to know the drill–pick out a gift from the registry, buy a cute (and unnecessarily expensive) card to go with it, then show up at the appointed time ready to watch the mom-to-be open oodles of packages containing bottle sterilizers, diapers and impossibly small socks.

So, when the invitation for my cousin Sarah’s baby shower arrived in the mail, I for the most part ignored the adorable jungle animals smiling up at me and focused solely on gleaning the pertinent info: time, date, location, and stores where the parents had registered. I was almost finished skimming when something near the bottom of the invite caught my eye:

“In lieu of a card, the parents ask that you bring a book inscribed to the new baby.”

A little thrill of excitement shot up my spine.

Being a writer, this idea naturally held way more appeal for me than simply picking out a bib from a list of three pre-chosen patterns. This was a book. Any book we wanted. This was freedom.

As the shower date approached, my mom and I eagerly tossed titles back and forth–books we’d loved as young children, stories that had captured our attention and held it hostage in the best possible way.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

There were so many wonderful choices: funny books, sweet books, educational books. Books with bold colors. Books with flaps to lift and fabrics for chubby little fingers to touch. Even books where the pictures pop up right at you!

Though it seemed impossible to narrow the field, I eventually selected Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Mom chose Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Then we got to work planning the perfect wording for our inscribed messages to the baby. As is typical of authors, we both wrote several drafts before finally etching our words in permanent ink inside the book covers.

The whole ride to the shower, I was half excitement, half nerves. I couldn’t wait to see what books the other guests had chosen, but at the same time, I was a little worried, too. What if the baby got not one but five copies of Guess How Much I Love You? After all, an inscribed book is a nonreturnable one. Mom pointed out that with young children, having extra copies of a favorite story is a good thing–pages get ripped, flaps get torn off, corners get chewed on. I knew she was right…but still, I fretted. Giving a duplicate book seemed like showing up to prom and noticing someone else wearing the same exact black spaghetti strap dress as mine.

As soon as the gift portion of the shower got underway, however, I quickly saw that my concern was for naught. With every new gift my cousin opened, there came a different book title. There was indeed a hungry caterpillar, and a bunny in need of patting. But there were also books about tractors, bears, princesses, giraffes, elephants and every other thing you could imagine.

I actually got a little teary, realizing that we’d all chosen different books based on the different things that had touched us and shaped us throughout our lives. We’d all been moved by reading–not in the same way, but in a hundred different ways, and that just made it all the more beautiful.

In my case, I grew up surrounded by books. With two teachers for parents, it couldn’t have been any other way. As a child, I sat curled in the silence of our basement for hours, aching at the bittersweet ending of Princess by Carolyn Lane, a tale about two cats–one tame, one feral. My bathwater went from toasty to frigid without me even noticing as I lost myself in the adventures of Alec Ramsay and his magnificent Black Stallion. My breath steamed the windows of our Jeep as I devoured Dick King-Smith’s Babe: The Gallant Pig start-to-finish on a rainy afternoon. During a late-night power outage, I sat huddled in the bathroom, candlelight and a book called The Great Green Apple War by Barbara Klimowicz the only two things keeping my gnawing fear of the dark at bay. For months when I was a young teen, I actually slept with a dog-eared copy of Geary Gravel’s novelization of Hook under my pillow, so in love with the story of a grown up Peter Pan that I felt certain I’d never go a day of my life without rereading at least a few of its pages.

And that’s just a small sampling of my childhood. My journey as a budding young reader.

Gazing down at all of the baby’s new acquisitions, I knew I was looking at the start of a brand new adventure. A new life to be molded and inspired, a new imagination to be kindled–maybe by one of the books given this very day.

Didn’t matter if it was my book, or one about a kitten, or one about a train. Something would start that fire, ignite that passion for reading. And, once lit, this little girl’s life would never be the same.

Good luck getting all that from an overpriced greeting card.

 

The Race: Burning Hot and Burning Out

RaceImage

First off, a mega-sized THANK YOU to those who braved the frigid weather back in February to visit our event at PetSmart. Special moments included seeing a picture of my favorite kitty Teagan with her new mommy, watching a partially blind dog named Jack Sparrow go home with his new family, and meeting some fellow Supernatural fans (woo hoo!)! Also, great big hugs go out to my buddy Zach – AKA, the one-man sales team – and to Tara at Furget Us Not Rescue for continuing to fight the good fight! 🙂

And now, moving on to a LONG overdue update on the status of our favorite shows. Some of them have been burning hot all season long, while others have completely flatlined. See how they all rank heading into the finales! (Note: iZombie and The X-Files have already completed their seasons, so they are not listed here, but they will definitely be included in the final 2015-2016 season report.)

Burning Hot

Limitless (Tuesday 10pm, CBS): Favorite new show of the season! The writers really dump buckets of creativity on every script, making each episode an epic adventure. Whether it’s an ep told from alternating perspectives, a giant kiddy-show dinosaur named Josh-O-Saurus Josh replacing scary words with nice ones, or a comic-book themed ep complete with breathtaking illustrations, this show isn’t afraid to take risks, smash through boundaries, and pull out all the stops to deliver the most entertaining content on TV. Brian Finch has earned his place as one of my all-time favorite characters, and the rest of the players are brilliant as well. One of the best things about this show, for me, is the way the story carries right over from one ep to the next. It’s not a bunch of stand-alone procedural eps with an occasional nugget of mythology thrown in to boost ratings for sweeps. This show progresses the storyline in every single ep – something one of my other great loves, The Mentalist, failed to do. I remember being fairly bored through a lot of the eps, because the Red John ones were basically the only ones where things actually happened. Not so on Limitless. Kudos to the writers and cast: you now own a piece of my heart. Be gentle with it (i.e. don’t kill off Brian or Rebecca in the finale)!

Score: 9
Status: Not Renewed Yet (And I’m starting to getting that bad feeling again, just like with Forever…Please say it ain’t so…)

Supernatural (Wednesday 9pm, CW): Um, I’m just going to come right out and ask: Is Kripke back? ‘Cause seriously, this show is at least as good as it was when he was in charge. If not – gasp – even better. I don’t know what it is about Season 11, but everything is just clicking. We’ve got the scary (freaky rabbit in “Plush,” Lucifer’s eyes glowing from the shadows of the cage), the feels (Rowena’s confession to Crowley before her neck got snapped stole my breath, the scene with Bobby and Dean staring at one another in “Safe House” froze me in my seat, and I can’t even talk about “Red Meat” yet – still too raw from that gut-wrenching Romeo and Juliet-type moment where Sam comes back alive just as Dean is falling dead…just OMG), the crazy levels of creativity (a touching episode about imaginary friends that had me thinking about it for days afterwards, an ep entirely from Baby’s perspective (coolest thing EVER), a wonderful juxtaposition of Sam/Dean and Bobby/Rufus working a case in different time periods – it just goes on and on), and of course the LOLs – Sam: “So, you’ll beat Amara, and then what?” Lucifer: “Move to LA, solve crimes?” ROFL. I haven’t bought a Supernatural DVD since Season Six, but Season Eleven is definitely going on my birthday list.

Score: 9
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017 (Whew!)

Lucifer (Monday 9pm, FOX): SHAY LIVES! Well, not exactly, but it’s still great to see Lauren German rocking a leading role over on Lucifer. This one is definitely my newest obsession (I’m already reading fanfic for it!). I feel weird saying this, but Lucifer is almost like a nasty version of Forever. I mean, look at the similarities – handsome dark-haired immortal with an accent teams up with tough female detective? In the pilot, he even got shot trying to protect her and she witnessed it (or thought she did)…Ring any bells? So, maybe that’s why I like it so much. Of course, other than being (mostly) immortal, Lucifer is not anything like Henry Morgan. Henry was deeply compassionate whereas Lucifer revels in being as shallow as possible. However, there is a deeper storyline of redemption below the surface of Lucifer and that’s what caught my eye. I like Lucifer best when he’s being real and honest, rather than just cracking jokes and pretending he doesn’t give a crap.  The idea that even the devil himself could somehow find his way back to the light – that resonates with me. Can’t wait to see where this one goes – especially with the new twist of Chloe being the one who makes him mortal!

Score: 8.5
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017 (YAY!!!)

Still Sizzling

Supergirl (Monday 8pm, CBS): I was kinda on the fence about this one when it first started up. Not anymore! Supergirl has become a real highlight for me – I really look forward to it. The characters are far and away what make this show for me – the stories might occasionally be a little hokey or cheesy, but I don’t care, because the performances carry the day. When these characters hurt, I hurt for them. When they succeed, I cheer for them. The ever-pithy Cat Grant always plants a smirk on my face, and Kara is a girl you just have to love and root for – her upbeat attitude and genuine compassion don’t give you a choice. The special bond between J’onn J’onzz and Alex and Kara makes me teary sometimes – just so sweet. I’ve always loved the Martian Manhunter, even back on Smallville. Just a wonderful character, and I was wigging out when they started to reveal that’s who Hank really is. I geek out completely whenever Clark makes an appearance, even if he’s just texting back and forth with Kara, giving his cousin some support. I love that Superman has a role in this universe, but that he respects Kara’s right to be her own hero and handle her own problems. Favorite eps include the one about how women are expected to deal with their anger in the workplace, and the one where Kara had lost her powers. “Falling” was also cool, but painful to watch. Great homage to Superman III in that ep, as well, with Kara flicking the peanuts in the bar. This show reminds me of Lois and Clark – not just because Dean Cain is on it, but because it gives me the same kind of hopeful feeling. Keep up the good work, Supergirl cast, crew and writers!

Score: 8.3
Status: Not Renewed Yet…

Gotham (Monday 8pm, FOX): Getting darker by the minute. Still utterly compelling, but I’m not sure how much more gruesome depravity I can take (A madman ripping a cop’s throat out with his teeth? Penguin feeding that lady her own kids?). Also, I didn’t like the corruption of Jim’s character, having him kill Galavan like that. Wish the show hadn’t gone there. It made sense, and it was believable, I just wish they hadn’t. Gotham is topnotch, riveting entertainment, but I don’t know if I will stick with it next year. I didn’t miss it while it was off the air, and that’s pretty telling. The finale might make the decision for me.

Score: 8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Chicago PD (Wednesday 10pm, NBC): PD is rocking it, big time. Great stories all around. I don’t even care that much that Adam and Burgess broke up – it wasn’t really going anywhere, anyhow. And she and Roman are kinda cute together…;) This show packs a gritty punch with every swing. The emotional connections between the cops and the victims are a special highlight. Antonio’s tears over a murdered child (and his near-hysteria over the killer’s complete lack of remorse) got to me big time. The crossovers with SVU are just as crisp as ever (I was scared they might go away when Med came on board). Speaking of which, the only ep that fell a little flat was the crossover with Med – too much courtroom, not enough action. The tie-in with Voight’s wife was excellent, though. Keep it up, PD!

Score: 8.4
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Heating Up

Chicago Fire (Tuesday 10pm, NBC): Much better!!! This show is totally back to the quality of eps we saw in the first two seasons. Fire is once again must-see, and I couldn’t be happier (I just wish it wasn’t on opposite Limitless!). They’ve really gotten better at having one central storyline in each episode, such as Sylvie’s stalker or Severide trying to find out what happened to that little girl found dead in the chimney. Also, the ep with them all trapped in a building with several mass shooters was especially emotional. Only complaints: 1.) Severide still gets to have no long-term friendships or romances (yes, I get that he’s friends with Matt, but sometimes the show gets dumb and makes them enemies, so the Matt-Sev bromance is never a sure thing), 2.) Don’t make characters act out-of character just to create stories (e.g. Chili’s sudden-onset emotional/behavioral problems (yeah, I know her sister died, but they wrote it like she’d had severe problems way before that), and Herrmann callously insulting Freddie, despite knowing Freddie’s history), 3.) When you make the villains so totally despicable, e.g. the old Alderman, they become caricatures.

Score: 7.5
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Grimm (Friday 9m, NBC): After a rocky and super-depressing start, this one quickly got back on track and once again became one of the most flat-out entertaining shows around. I *HEART* Grimm! They had some real poignant moments of grief early on in the season – e.g. just a quiet scene of Nick, lying in the dark, staring up at the ceiling. You could just feel the mix of emotions – the loss of his mother, the loss of Juliette, but also the newness of being a father and the bizarre budding relationship with Adalind (of all people!). I’m still not quite sure what to do with their romance (if you can call it that), but I don’t hate it, and that’s something. Eve is an awesome new character – can’t wait to see where things go with her. We finally got a glimpse (I think) of her showing actual human emotion in the last ep when she displayed protectiveness toward Nick. Then we have the mystery healing stick, Wu growing closer to wolfing out by the hour (Btw, my local NBC station totally preempted the Lycan ep, without warning, and I had to hunt it down online – not cool, NBC. Not cool at all.), Adalind morphing back into a Hexenbiest, Black Claw gaining ground all over the world, and (oh please no) my beloved Sean possibly helping the bad guys win. This show is rocking right now.

Score: 7.8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Cooling Off

Castle (Monday 10pm, ABC): Hard to believe this show was one of the top dogs in my rankings last year. Long hiatuses have essentially killed Castle for me. I’m entertained by the episodes, but that drive to watch is not there anymore. I don’t rush home to make sure I see it. If I miss 15 or 20 minutes of the beginning, it’s no big deal. Also, I’m not thrilled that they tied Castle’s amnesia into the LockSat (sp?) storyline. It was probably a smart move, plot-wise, but it left me a bit flat. I do like the British chick that sometimes helps them with the investigations. She’s cool.

Score: 6.5
Status: Not Renewed Yet

Elementary (Sunday 10pm, CBS): Still a great show, but the strength of my desire to watch it is pretty low, just like with Castle. If I make it home to see Elementary, then awesome. If I don’t, then **shrug**. I do like Sherlock dating the Aspie girl – that’s a nice story. Also, the b-plot with Sherlock helping the struggling ME was very sweet and emotional. And I loved the episode “Hounded” – great homage to The Hound of the Baskervilles. I actually wish they’d do more of this – modern interpretations of the original material, the way Sherlock does. They can obviously do it well, so why not?

Score: 6.8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Colder Than My Toes

Chicago Med (Tuesday 9pm, NBC): To be fair, I’ve only seen one full episode of this show – the one that was part of the three-way crossover with PD and Fire, after Herrmann got stabbed. The show was very sloooow. And booooring. A lot of manufactured, unnecessary drama between the docs and the firefighters. A medical “mystery” so predictable I was actually hoping I was wrong, just so I’d be surprised. I guess I’m used to House, where there were always a bunch of twists and wrong turns before they correctly diagnosed someone. As it was, the Splenda Guy was by far the most interesting part of the ep. Hope they kept him on. I’ll probably never find out, because I’ll be happily watching the INFINITELY more entertaining iZombie over on The CW. I wish nothing but the best of luck to Chicago Med and its fans – but “The Chicago Trilogy” will remain a duet for me.

Final Score: 5 (ouch!)
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

 

And on we go to the finales! 🙂

The X-Files: X Reasons to Love Season X

Mulder

(Yeah, I got a little carried away with the Roman numerals. Guilty as charged.)

I.) Mulder and Scully are back. Yes, both of them. As my fellow Philes know all too well, only about half of Season Eight’s episodes contained Mulder, and he appeared in just one episode of Season Nine – the finale. Note to TV writers everywhere: The truth is out there, and the truth is, when your series completely revolves around the lives and struggles of your two main characters, don’t try to continue without one of those characters. It’ll end badly. The last few seasons of The X-Files were hard to watch. Sure, there were some gems here and there, but for the most part, many fans (myself included) were watching out of loyalty, not out of love. Season Ten has brought the love back. I feel a thrill of excitement as I perch on the edge of the couch cushion, too eager to sit back and relax, lest I miss one single second of the newest installment.

II.) It’s authentic. This isn’t some Dark Shadows reboot that would make fans of the original series cringe. This is the real deal – original cast, original writers, and Mark Snow on music – just as it should be. They even used the good credits, the ones from Seasons 1-7, and not the cheesy, fakey-looking ones from after Duchovny left. When I heard The X-Files was returning, the very first question out of my mouth was: Is this a remake, or a revival? I’m not sure I could’ve watched new actors try to take on the iconic roles of Mulder and Scully. Thank goodness we didn’t have to!

III.) Skinner. I don’t know exactly when it happened, whether it occurred gradually over the course of the series or if it was a more dramatic, sudden shift after Mulder left, but at some point along the way, you couldn’t have The X-Files without Skinner. We need him like we need Mulder and Scully themselves. They love and trust him. We love and trust him. Skinner has Mulder and Scully’s backs when no one else on the planet does. The one major change made to the credits this time around was the addition of Skinner’s badge (in cool, vintage black-and-white glory, of course). As soon as his beautiful, bald head appeared, I nodded my approval wholeheartedly.

IV.) A clean slate. No matter how much you loved the show’s mythology, you have to admit that at a certain point, it just got WAY too complicated. I truly and honestly believe that by the end of the series, the writers themselves could not have told us how each piece fit into the puzzle. We had at least three species of aliens (the green bloods, the black bloods, and the alien replacements (those things with the metal vertebrae)), plus two different alien viruses, not to mention all manner of human-alien hybrids. We had an Alien Bounty Hunter, numerous Jeremiahs, and a bunch of really old, pampered white dudes who liked to sit in a smoky room and dictate our planet’s future with overly cryptic, sometimes nonsensical dialogue. Year by year, season by season, more layers were added to the conspiracy, until, like an unstable wedding cake, it eventually toppled. The writers knew this (note how they even poked a little bit of fun at their own writing in “My Struggle”). The viewers knew it. The critics knew it and stated it loudly. This time around, The X-Files is playing it smarter. This time around, the writers have wiped down the chalkboard with a wet sponge. They’ve scrubbed away the tangled mess we were left with after nine seasons, and written one word in its place: Experimentation. The aliens aren’t trying to take us over, after all – the government is. It was the government all along. They have many ways in which to accomplish this, as outlined in the first ep of Season Ten. The only thing we don’t know is, why are they experimenting with alien DNA? What role does that play in the grand scheme of world domination? Giving Mulder and Scully one complex and personal question to answer, rather than ten thousand tangentially-related threads to follow, is a wise move, especially since they only have six episodes in which to solve the mystery.

V.) The Cigarette Smoking Man. Okay, yes, he’s as much a part of The X-Files as Mulder, Scully and Skinner, but COME ON! How is that dude even still alive? Didn’t we see a missile physically blast through his skull? I suppose it could’ve been an alien replacement that got nuked, and not the REAL CSM, but still. A little bit ridiculous. And yet…a little bit right, too. No matter how hard we try to banish evil, it still manages to waft, smoke-like, up through the cracks. So, even as I was rolling my eyes at his return, I found myself grinning all the same. After all, what is The X-Files – or any fictional universe, for that matter – without a true nemesis?

VI.) Cool FX! Way cool! The X-Files always strove to be cutting edge with its visual effects, aiming to make a small movie each week, rather than just a TV show. Seeing The X-Files FX team get to play with all the current technology, stuff that simply wasn’t available thirteen years ago, is like getting to watch captive dolphins jump and splash in the ocean for the first time. The alien and spaceship in “My Struggle” were top notch, as was the vividly realistic gore in “Founder’s Mutation.” I fully expect more eye candy – both sweet and disgusting sour – throughout the rest of the season.

VII.) Heart and soul. Right from the start, The X-Files was about way more than alien abductions and scary monsters. It was about two characters on a quest to find the truth. Many times, that quest cost them dearly. Mulder lost his parents. Scully lost her sister and daughter. Both Mulder and Scully have been shot, abducted and experimented on. Both of them had to give up their only son to keep him safe. With each new loss, each new trauma, the characters became closer to each other and we, in turn, became closer to them. Mulder, Scully, and all the people they connect with along the way, are the true heart and soul of this series, and Season Ten hasn’t forgotten that. Far from it. Whether it’s Scully’s raw emotion at hearing a stranger’s clinical recitation of her relationship with Mulder, or a series of poignant scenes depicting “what might have been” if Scully and Mulder had kept their son, this show still knows full well that the humans (not the monsters or the aliens) are what keep us coming back for more.

VIII.) Continuity. The slate may be clean, but that doesn’t mean all the history, all the things Mulder and Scully witnessed and experienced, never happened. Longtime viewers will enjoy the familiar sight of triangular experimental crafts built with UFO technology (like the ones featured in “Deep Throat” and “Dreamland I and II”), and the image of a little girl breathing underwater, which instantly brings to mind the hybrids snoozing in tanks in the “The Erlenmeyer Flask.” Even after all these years, it pays to be a fan who really watched closely. 🙂

IX.) The LOLZ. Aw man, how much have I missed Mulder and his dry one-liners? Is there a number higher than infinity? A friend once commented that without Mulder, the humor of the show took a nosedive, and he was so right. Scully and Doggett together? It was like having two Sams on Supernatural, rather than a Sam and a Dean. In any partnership, you need one straight man, and one joker. Mulder is back and witty as ever as the joker, and I can’t help snorting with laughter every time he says something like “Obamacare” or “Why would I want to watch this jack-ass?” or “I blacked out around the time his eyes popped out of the sockets.” ROFL! Keep them coming, Mulder – I need more lolz in my life.

X.) The Awe. As I sat down to watch last Monday night, I thought to myself: How freaking amazing is this? How many more times in my life am I going to get to sit down in front of a TV screen and watch a NEW episode of The X-Files? This is the show that helped me forge lifelong friendships. This is the show I watched in high school when I was working on take-home calculus tests. This is the show that introduced me to fan fiction in college. I’m thirty-five years old, and the series that wowed me in my teenage years is back on, showcasing front and center every reason why I fell in love with it in the first place. A fangirl can’t get much luckier than that.
🙂

Hungry for more X-Files mania? Go check out my friend Carbonated Beverage Drinking Man’s awesome reviews of the new season:

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