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

 

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The Race 2014-2015: The Results (Dun-Dun-Dun…)

RaceImageWell, it happened. Not sure I wanted it to happen, but it did. This year, a new show raced past old favorites to clinch the top spot. Not that this will shock the pants off of anybody, but that new show was Forever. I fell noggin-over-feet in love with the pilot, and my adoration only grew bigger and brighter over the course of the season. ‘Course, then it got CANCELLED, and I still don’t know what to do with that horrible decision on ABC’s part. The fans have been fighting for the show like pissed off cats all summer long, but a few days ago Forever‘s creator, Matt Miller, basically told us it’s all but over.

Forever wasn’t the only loss, either. Far from it. Other victims of the “axe” included Stalker (CBS), Red Band Society (FOX), Battle Creek (CBS), and – one of my all-time favorites – The Mentalist (CBS). In other words, it was a bloodbath out there!

But this review isn’t about what happened after the season ended. It’s about the awesomeness we got to watch while our shows were still on the air.

So, in that spirit of celebration, I give you the final results of this year’s 2014-2015 TV season, ranked from highest to lowest.

Forever: 9/10

This one just grabbed me. Right from the get-go. And it held on tight all season long. The commercials really didn’t do Forever justice (probably a big part of the ratings issue). While the ads (which became rarer as the season progressed, and non-existent at the end) focused on mundane case-of-the-week details, the true beauty of this show is in the small moments between characters, the richly-textured flashbacks, and the clever way in which past, present and future weave together for a character who has all the time in the world.

There are too many phenomenal individual scenes to list them all, but some end-of-season highlights include the final showdown in the tunnel with Adam, the touching moment when Henry learned that the slaves had not died because of him, Henry and Lucas’ final scene together in the lab, Jo and Henry saying what they mean to each other in the car, and Abe’s poignant search for his missing mother.

But the biggest, most epic scene for me was when Henry actually physically found Abigail’s remains at long last. It was just pure, straight-up heartbreak as he ran down that slope, flashing back to all of their moments together over the span of their relationship. Such a beautiful and well-developed love story, resolved in a powerful and satisfying (if utterly devastating) way. If Forever doesn’t come back to life on some network, sometime, in some form, it will be a crime.

The Mentalist: 8/10

As evidenced by the copious amounts of fanfic I’ve written for it, this show has been one of my absolute faves for years. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but we knew it was coming (unlike Forever, grrrrr) and we at least got some decent closure. Both the writers and the actors did a fantabulous job of making viewers fall in love with a whole new team at the FBI. Wylie was an instant favorite, Abbott morphed from dangerous adversary to amazingly loyal friend, and Michelle quickly won over our hearts by being her own woman – a real woman who made mistakes, learned things from them, and improved as an agent. Her Cho-worship was pretty endearing, too. If I were on that team, I’d be fangirling Cho, big-time. He owns cool.

Of course, we did lose Michelle. I have mixed feelings about that creative decision, because it didn’t serve the purpose I expected (driving Jane away from law enforcement for good). I guess her death was just something to remind us of the darkness in life, and how you can eventually step out blinking into the sunshine and feel warm again.

The end of The Mentalist‘s 7.5-year run was warm. It made me feel good. I loved the revival of the fake psychic stuff in the final eps. Not sure about the wedding, though – it seemed too soon for Jane and Lisbon to tie the knot, seeing as he had, seemingly just days before the wedding, decided to leave town (and wouldn’t even return her calls!). Also, they hadn’t resolved a major, deal-breaker issue in their relationship: Jane wanted Lisbon to quit the FBI due to the danger of her profession.

Nonetheless, as RedFi over on the Paint It Red Forum aptly pointed out, it was like the show came full circle – when we met Jane, he’d lost both his wife and his child, and when we left him, he had a new wife and child. A whole new beginning. Also, Simon Baker acted the freakin’ crap out of that scene where he found out Lisbon was carrying their child. Wowza. He looked unearthly beautiful in his wedding attire, too. That vest really brought out his eyes in wonderful ways. Lisbon looked gorgeous, too (loved the dress!!!), but Cho was clearly in the bathroom when she picked out that veil/headpiece thingy. Not sure what it was supposed to look like, but it missed the mark by about fifty yards.

In the end, The Mentalist left us with a fresh new start, all options wide open. It left me with a smile on my lips, a feeling of hope in my heart, and a strong hankering to write lots more fanfic.

It also left me asking, “Why?” Because, as my mom kept loudly repeating over the course of the season, “This is still a great show! Why are they taking it off?” Why, indeed?

Realizing The Mentalist had been on for seven-and-a-half seasons made me also realize that this is the first time in all those years that I fell in love with a new show (Forever). Great TV, for me, is that rare. There are so few shows I would write fanfic for…

…And two of them just went off the air. Wonder how long it’ll be before another great rises up. And how quickly it, too, will get cancelled in favor of mindless, cheap-to-produce reality junk.

😦

Supernatural: 7.9/10

At least this old battle-horse is still in the race! I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when Supernatural is gone. No need to think about that now, though – my final remaining “fanfic show” will happily be back next year for its eleventh season.

As for Season Ten: strong overall. The beginning was a bit on the rocky side, but after that I was a pretty satisfied customer. The theme for the year was obviously “family” and the writers found interesting and creative ways to carry this over to all of the different characters. Cass went on a quest to locate and help his vessel’s troubled daughter, Claire. Crowley, meanwhile, had to deal with his hilariously horrible, literal witch of a mother, Rowena. And of course, Sammy spent the whole season trying to save Dean, which just fills up our glasses with delicious brotherly love.

One thing that tainted the whole family vibe – Charlie’s death. I didn’t see the necessity of killing her off, and I sure as heck didn’t like it. Also, it happened in a stupid way. Stupid deaths are just the worst. AlsoX2, I didn’t fully believe that it happened (still don’t) because of the way they didn’t show it onscreen. I would not be surprised (just really, really elated) if she showed up next year, our bad@$$ hacker with the D&D tattoo, returned from having faked her own death.

As it was, I couldn’t even cry at her funeral. I felt like an emotional pancake – totally flat. Something about the way it was filmed, maybe? Or just the fact that I didn’t completely “buy” the death? I don’t know. FYI, I actually didn’t cry at Bobby’s death, either (hey, stop throwing stuff at me!). It’s not that I didn’t love him. It’s just due to issues of how the episode was written/filmed. Bobby’s coma was compared to two different situations: Dean’s coma (from which death was the only escape) and Rufus’ coma (from which death seemed like the only escape, yet Rufus found a way to wake up and survive). When Bobby flat-lined, I didn’t think there was anything necessarily final about it, because the ep didn’t do a good job of making that point clear.

Anyhow, back to Season Ten – some stuff I LOVED from the last few episodes: Sam trying to kill Crowls, and Crowls busting out with the red eyes and saying how he loved every minute of being evil. **happy sigh** Great stuff. Also, everything with Cass and Claire – that was really touching. The Stein storyline was also clever and very cool.

One nitpick: Dean should not have been able to whup Cass’ butt so thoroughly in their fight! Especially without the blade. So, what the crap was that? Maybe Cass was letting Dean win to see how far he’d go? Not sure.

And of course I hated Dean being horrible to Sam (“It should be you on that pyre”…Damn!), Dean letting another hunter die, Dean almost killing Cass, etc, etc. I know the mark was poisoning Dean, but it still hurts. Guess that’s how Sam fans felt in Season Four, when Sam was all meany-pants. I feel your pain now, Samgirls!

The finale itself was good. My only complaint here would be that this was the first season finale that didn’t seem EPIC, you know? It mostly just felt like a regular episode. The whole “darkness” thing was cool, but it should maybe have been touched on earlier in the season so it didn’t feel like the writers were just pulling it out of their…well, you-know-where. I did love Dean saving Sam and killing Death (major repercussions, anyone?). Oh, and Cass – you better not kill Crowley, okay? We need the King in Season Eleven!

iZombie: 7.9/10

Though I don’t think iZombie could ever take Forever‘s place in my heart, this new CW offering is definitely a balm on my cancellation wounds. I was already looking forward to this show before it aired, thanks to a synopsis in TV Guide‘s special Comic-Con issue last year. I am happy to report that iZombie did not disappoint. In fact, it rose above my expectations in surprising and wonderful ways.

Two moments in the pilot episode when I knew this show was something special:

1.) When Peyton (Liv’s roomie) said something like, “I know I should have just written you off by now, but…you’re my freaking heart, so, if you could step up?”

2.) When Liv looked surprised upon hearing that Ravi was trying for a zombie cure. And Ravi said, “What, did you think you were going to stay this way forever?” Awwww.

Sometimes this show – which typically oscillates between comical, creepy, and outright disgusting – has these moments of such pure heart that it makes my breath catch and brings actual tears to my eyes.

More cases-in-point:

-Liv holding the hand of her dead college friend while Ravi begins the girl’s autopsy.

-Lowell’s sweet mouthing of “I love you” before getting his head blown off on a suicide mission.

I hated that they killed him, btw. He was one of the real highlights of the show. Lowell and Liv were SO great together – zombie love!!! Also, he shouldn’t have had to die. Liv just totally choked in front of the sniper rifle – first time I ever felt truly disappointed in her.

Overall, though, a very strong first season. The finale wasn’t quite as epic as I wanted (not sure why – they really pulled out all the brains – er, stops). There were major revelations, people turned into zombies, zombies turned back into people…I don’t know, I guess I just thought it would end with Liv locked up in a Max Rager lab or something.

Still, some really good cliffies for next season. (And yes, thankfully, there will be a next season).

Only thing I hate about this show: it looks really real when they’re eating the brains. Like, it makes me almost puke. I feel a little nauseous right now, just writing about it – no joke. Fewer brains next year, please! My stomach can’t take it!

Castle: 7.8/10

Looking back on the epic season opener (and all the hopes and expectations that sprang from it), I have to say this season ended up in the “good” category, rather than the “phenomenal” one. I confess to feeling a little let down by the partial explanation/resolution of Castle’s disappearance. Not sure if they’ll ever pick it up again, but there’s definitely more story to tell on that front (we still don’t know how he got shot). At least we got to see the case that made Castle become a mystery writer – been waiting for that all season long, and it didn’t let me down like the other storyline did.

End of the finale was a bit anticlimactic, though. Maybe because they didn’t know whether they were coming back. Those either/or season/series finale thingies are always tricky.

Unless you’re Supernatural, and it’s the end of Season Two, and you manage to pull out a masterpiece of an episode that gives impressive amounts of closure while launching some great new storylines at the same time. Still my all-time favorite ep…**happy sigh**

Back to Castle, though – my wish list for next season: more storylines that shake up the status quo (e.g. this season’s arc about Castle becoming a private detective), more scifi-themed eps (e.g. the invisibility suit, the parallel dimension artifact, the simulated mars mission, etc), and please, please don’t kill off any major characters! Thank you!

Red Band Society: 7.8/10

Another one bites the dust. It did go out with style, though: Jordi found the courage to go through with his surgery, Dash fell for his “unicorn” (and realized he could never harm her), the whole society rallied around Leo (especially Emma, who completely let go of the whole Kara/sex thing and showed herself to be a hero of a friend), Kara and Hunter’s love story spanned the gap between life and death, and Charlie TALKED!

Favorite exchange:

Hunter: “One day, you can take your kids to Paris, and it’ll be for a good reason. You can tell them what I did for you, and what you did for me.”

Kara: “What did I do for you?”

Hunter: “You lived.”

Awwwwwwww.

And of course, the ending was perfection: A new patient entering the pediatric ward, scared and alone, about to join the Red Band Society.

Wish this one could’ve gone on. Shows with real heart and soul are becoming an endangered species these days…

Grimm: 7.6/10

Man, this show had a much higher rank for most of the season. The last few eps got very dark, though, with Juliette sailing past the point of no return. She actually let Nick’s mom get decapitated. Not just killed, decapitated. Holy $#!T. And then Trubel killed Juliette with a crossbow (still hoping she’s not really dead). I don’t think Juliette was actually going to kill Nick, and the presence of those agents makes me suspicious that something else was afoot. Maybe the actress (Bitsie Tulloch) wanted off the show, though…

(Why????)

Up until Kelly’s murder, I was loving dark!Juliette and her awesome new powers. But now I’m just sad.

Only bright spots in the closer:

-The little girl escaped the Royals

-Sean lives, and he’s no longer harboring a murderous spirit in his body – yay!

Still, overall, a total bummer of an ending. Nick holding his love’s lifeless body…Waaaaayyyy too dark for me. Hope next season’s a touch brighter. Note to writers: this is supposed to be my fun show. If I want to be depressed, I’ll watch Supernatural‘s Season Five ep, “Abandon All Hope.”

Chicago PD: 7.5/10

Prepare to witness history. For the first time ever, CPD‘s final season score is higher than big sister CF‘s. PD was just plain stronger this year. The crossovers are special highlights, but even the regular eps are more focused than CF‘s and when CPD kills a character, they do it for the right reasons. I HATE that Nadia’s dead, but I don’t hate the show for doing it, because the resulting storylines were good – Erin’s downward spiral, Trudy’s fight to get Nadia recognized, etc. Plus the fact that Nadia was a beloved supporting character, not a beloved lead.

I do have an itty-bitty confession to make though. I haven’t actually seen those two eps (SVU and CPD) where Nadia meets her horrible end. I have them on tape, it’s just…every time I go to watch them, I think it’ll make me too sad…

(Miss you so much, Nadia!)

So, maybe it isn’t even fair for me to rank this show. In fact, it almost certainly isn’t. Nonetheless, a trusted fellow fan has told me the eps are heartbreakingly excellent and I don’t doubt her.

PD was all strength and no weakness this year, plus they added a little touch of joy at the end to lighten things up and make my shippy heart all aflutter: Burgess and Ruzek got ENGAGED!!! WOO HOO!!

They even got their own ep, earlier in the season – well technically it was a Burgess and Roman ep, but Ruzek was worried about her, and that’s how she and Roman got saved! Romance. Yum. Good stuffs.

P.S. In that same ep, did anyone else want to see where Jay got tazed? :/

This show really has it all – heartbreak, love, violence, and the funnies. Congrats, CPD, on outshining your big sis!

Gotham: 7.4/10

Gotham probably deserves a higher rank, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy this show that much. It’s gloomy and super-violent and easily more disgusting than the brain-eating on iZombie. Barbara butchering her own parents (Btw, is she dead now, or just knocked out? Methinks dead.), that crazy girl snapping bird bones, Selena shoving that guy out the window, Penguin making that old married couple fight each other to the death (or pretty much anything else Penguin does)? All of it equals a big, fat EW.

And yet, despite its grotesque nature, I am compelled to continue watching. Gotham makes you need it, even when you don’t want it. But…will it still be the same gripping drama next year, without the vital presence of Fish?

I’m not sure, but I’ll definitely tune in to find out.

Elementary: 7.3/10

Still a good, entertaining show. I enjoyed many of the eps this season, but the “personal” ones are the ones that make me sit up and pay attention, and once again, there were too few of those. I’d love some more continuity and ongoing storylines that span between eps, so it’s not just a long line of stand-alones.

The high points:

-Kitty and her storyline
-Andrew’s murder and the subsequent fallout, eventually resulting in Joan moving back in with Sherlock (they’re better together)
-Artificial Intelligence ep, Settlement $ ep, Zebra ep (yeah, I know they weren’t zebras, but I don’t know how to spell what they were)
-Sherlock’s budding friendship with his sponsor Alfredo
-Ep where Sherlock had to revisit a case he handled at the height of his drug abuse days

The finale was strong, and very personal – definitely suited to my tastes (and hopefully a glimpse of things to come next season!). The end was super-dark, though, and I wasn’t sure if Alfredo was still alive after transport to the hospital (I couldn’t read the text on Sherlock’s phone) and I really needed to KNOW if Alfredo was alive (I think he was?). Also, the end was a bit ambiguous for me. I’m guessing that Sherlock succumbed to his addiction after holding out for the whole episode. They never showed him take the heroin – just the aftermath. The whole thing was horrible (yet very compelling and well-written), taking Sherlock to all of those places, making him find the girl dead like that, when her brother already knew (great twist, btw).

So, after some interesting (and not-quite-as-interesting) standalone eps, we’re now back firmly in character-driven territory. Despite a mediocre score for Season Three, next year looks HIGHLY promising.

Meeting Sherlock’s dad at long last? I vote “YES.” Hope it happens for real. Other wish list items: Moriarty’s return, Watson gets to do more medical stuff, Mycroft’s return, more personal stories for Gregson and Bell. Oh, and Alistair comes back from the dead. I know that last one can’t happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Chicago Fire: 7.2/10

Yeah, I’m being mean to this one right now, putting it in dead last. I’m just still not over Shay. And now Peter’s gone, too! It’s like, first the writers pulled out the show’s heart, and now they’re slowly dissecting it!

Yes, Severide is still may favorite character on either of the Chicago shows, but it’s hard when you can’t get attached to anyone involved in his storylines – they all just leave, in one way or another. The man is a freaking island. (And I want to build a bridge there, dang it!)

At least I don’t feel so bad about Lindsay dumping him anymore. Apparently she just likes dumping guys (ask Jay, he’ll tell you all about it).

Aside from major, BELOVED characters leaving, another thing this show suffers from is misleading advertising. I noticed it several times over the course of the season: ads showcasing one minor scene and making like the whole episode would revolve around that scene (two notable examples: the Severide Gets Trapped on a Train Episode and the Severide Gets Crushed Inside a Van Episode). If you’re wondering which eps those are, I don’t blame you – both situations were brief, quickly resolved, and NOT the focus of the whole episode.

I’d love to blame the people who make the ads, but in this case I can’t. The issue, unfortunately, was that many of the episodes didn’t really focus on any one particular rescue, event, or storyline – there were just a bunch of minor ongoing storylines and random rescues scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that this show has so much continuity, and that storylines carry over from ep to ep, but each episode should also be a complete story in its own right. This is where PD has a big advantage – being a procedural, they follow one case from start to finish every episode. Fire can’t do it quite so neatly without having a MAJOR disaster every episode (unrealistic), but they could probably do it better than they have been.

Good examples of eps this season include the explosion in the ER (although having Jay’s brother black tag Severide was a little stupid – there were few serious injuries and TONS of docs around – no need for black tagging in that situation). Nonetheless, it was an emotional, complete storyline. Another good one was Herrmann’s ep where he bonded with a little boy’s father, then found out the father was BAD NEWS. I love Herrmann.

So, more eps like that. Oh, and the one that started the most recent crossover event (that I haven’t watched the last 2/3 of)! That one was really good, with the guy who thought he started the fire having a breakdown and almost killing himself – and Gabby saving the day! Great stuff, and for once CF wasn’t the weak link in the crossover chain.

Wish list for next year: More “complete” episodes (but still keep up with the great continuity), bring back Peter, bring back basically anyone in Severide’s life, and don’t you dare kill off Matt (The undercover story is ridiculous, btw. Why? Because firefighters don’t go undercover! He’s not a cop! He has no training! Grrrr.)

So…there you have it. Hopefully I didn’t forget any important episodes or details, but knowing me I probably did. If so, feel free to point it out in the comments section. In the meantime, I’ll be busy basking in my summer shows, Beauty and the Beast (Thursday, 8pm, CW) and Aquarius (David Duchovny! Thursday, 9pm, NBC).

Don’t forget to tune in next fall for all of our returning faves. And if your fave got cancelled, at least know you’re not alone. Lots of other fans are bumming with you. And really, that’s the great thing about being part of a fandom – you always have someone to talk to about your latest obsession, and you never truly have to say goodbye. After all, the best shows will always live on in message board discussions, fanfiction and art, and, most importantly, our hearts.

 

 

11 Things Mentalist Fans Will Love About Forever

Yes, it’s true – tonight we will be bidding a final farewell to our beloved TV show, The Mentalist. Of course, Jane, Lisbon, Cho, Abbott, Wylie, Rigsby and Van Pelt will all continue to live on in fanfiction, fanart, and in fan-fueled discussions all over the Internet. But there will be no new adventures on our screens each week, no more watching Jane hypnotize a witness or piss off an arrogant suspect. Losing this show will leave a big, hollow pit in our lives, and while no other police procedural could ever completely fill that hole, there is one show that’s helping me cope with the loss. That show is Forever. I have fallen madly in love, and I think many Mentalist fans will feel the same way, if they give Forever a chance. And so, without further ado, I give you:

11 Things Mentalist Fans Will Love About Forever:

1.) That SMILE – You know that smile Jane has? Not the “I’m smiling as I envision your painful death” one, or the “I’m smiling but my heart just got ripped open” one, either. I’m talking about the one he does that’s just pure joy. The one that makes the sun shine brighter and the world spin faster and twittering cartoon birds land on your windowsill because it’s just that magical. You know that one? Well, Dr. Henry Morgan, the main character on Forever, has got one, too. When he smiles, it’s like he’s smiling at me. I can’t help but smile back. Happy chemicals are released in my brain, and my whole body gets the benefit. It’s a scientific fact – smiling improves your health. And on Forever, just like on The Mentalist, you’ll get no shortage of reasons to grin. 🙂

2.) The Chemistry – Whether as a romantic couple, best friends, or simply partners at work, it’s no secret that Jane and Lisbon crackle on screen. It’s a rare dynamic – to have the woman being the one with the gun, the one tackling suspects, the one kicking down doors. She’s a cop; he’s not. It’s a flip-flop of traditional roles, and it’s refreshingly wonderful to watch. Over on Forever, you have a very similar dynamic between Henry and Detective Jo Martinez – a not-so-tough non-cop tagging along on investigations with his strong female partner. Unlike The Mentalist, where Jane and Lisbon already knew each other in the show’s pilot, Forever gives us a chance to see this special relationship between its lead characters blossom from the very beginning. Henry and Jo lean on each other. They protect each other. They confide in each other and go out for drinks after hours. Their bond deepens with every episode, and the “will they or won’t they?” debates have already begun.

3.) Oops, Wrong Time Period – I don’t know if it’s his carnival background, or that he’s simply an old soul, but Jane has always struck me as a guy born in the wrong decade – or maybe the wrong century. He dresses in three-piece suits, calls airplanes “flying machines” and generally gives off a vibe that he’d be more comfortable using an abacus than a calculator. While Jane may be an old soul, in Henry Morgan’s case, the “old” part is literal. With his age at 200 years (and counting), it’s no wonder that Henry sometimes uses outdated terms like “vector,” dresses in a long coat and scarf, and carries an antique pocket watch. If you loved those little tastes of vintage charm on The Mentalist, you’ll be sure to love them on Forever, too.

4.) It’s All About the Team – From Day One, The Mentalist was never a one-man show. It was never just about Jane, but rather about him and his new-found family: Lisbon, Cho, Rigsby, Van Pelt, and even Minelli. In recent years, that family gained a few members – Abbott, Vega, and Wylie – but one thing didn’t change: the show was about them, too. Over the course of the series, we’ve met all three of Lisbon’s brothers, two of Cho’s girlfriends, Rigsby’s dad and Abbott’s wife. We’ve watched Van Pelt and Rigsby fall in love, get married, and have a child of their own. We’ve watched Wylie get up the courage to ask Vega out. And through it all, we’ve watched these characters stand by each other, protect each other, and comfort each other. Forever isn’t a one-man show, either. It is about Jo’s grief over her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. It is about Lucas’ comic book obsession, Detective Hanson’s desire to shield his partner, and Lt. Reece’s nephew getting screwed over by the music industry. It is about Lucas gently placing a blanket over Henry’s shoulders in a moment of vulnerability and Hanson jokingly buying Henry a Speedo after one of Henry’s skinny dipping arrests. It is about a team of coworkers coming together as a family – and being there for each other, no matter what.

5.) The LOL Factor – One of my favorite aspects of The Mentalist is how much it makes me laugh. Whether it’s Rigsby talking with mustard on his face, Jane off-handedly delivering a MAJOR insult to some highfalutin know-it-all, or Cho simply giving a deadpan look, The Mentalist cracks me up more than most half-hour comedies. I’ve always said that the best dramas can not only make you cry, but can also make you spray 7up out your nostrils (which kinda hurts, because it’s fizzy). Forever is another one of those dramas that has it all. Lucas Wahl is guaranteed to elicit at least one guffaw in every scene, his antics ranging from dutifully sniffing a corpse’s stomach contents to gleefully playing the part of a murder victim in one of Henry’s reenactments, and Detective Hanson’s deadpan could rival Cho’s. If you’re looking for a well-rounded show with laughs, scares, joy and sorrow, look no further than Forever.

6.) Hello, World – In many ways, The Mentalist is a show about an isolated, deeply traumatized character slowly but surely rejoining the world of life. After his family’s murder, Jane had a mental breakdown. He lost everything, including his sanity. The series chronicles his painstaking journey to find something beyond revenge – to find a reason to live again. Jane gradually lets the other team members into his heart – he risks caring about them, even though it could mean huge heartbreak down the road. He learns to lie in the sand and surrender himself to the little joys of life. Although Henry’s family was not murdered, he has also suffered great losses – and is doomed to continue this cycle, as he will outlive everyone he ever loves, including his own son, Abe. The sharp tragedy of this makes it tempting for Henry to remain in his dusty basement laboratory (not unlike Jane’s little attic at the CBI – only with cooler stuff), cutting off humanity. Over the course of the season, however, we see other characters like Jo and Lucas drawing Henry out of his shell, getting him to join them for drinks, getting him to risk his heart again. He still hasn’t shared his whole self with them, and probably won’t for a good long while, but it’s a moment I wouldn’t miss for the world.

7.) It’s Like Talking to a Five-Year-Old – If you’re like me, you get a continual kick out of Jane’s “little boy” antics. His dramatic reactions to things, his hiding behind other team members when he’s about to get walloped, and above all, his playfulness. Who else would hop on a parked motorcycle and make fake revving noises? In all honestly, probably not Henry Morgan. But he does have a touch of that child-like spirit. Sometimes, he’s downright innocent. There’s a vulnerability to both characters that makes you want to protect them, to shield them from further pain. And Henry, much like Jane, has moments when he’s just completely filled with awe or wonder – or can’t resist horsing around on the job. In Henry’s case, his partner in the morgue, Lucas, tends to bring out the child more than anyone, and their romping reenactments of murders are as much a riot to watch as Jane impersonating God on a megaphone.

8.) Wait, That Was Evidence? – Patrick Jane’s crime-solving methods are unusual…to say the least. Dr. Henry Morgan also has his own “quirky” way of doing things. Jane steals an iPod out of its evidence baggie and uses it to jog a witness’s memory. Henry takes a damaged vintage audio tape (which happens to be evidence in a homicide) to his home and BAKES it. In his OVEN. Whatever their methods, these guys get results. The only real difference between them is that Jane has never (and probably will never) care very much whether a District Attorney’s ability to prosecute a case is damaged by his hijinks during the investigation. Henry, OTOH, is quickly learning what “chain of evidence” means and how important it is not to tamper with it.

9.) Foreign Delights – You know how sometimes, when Simon Baker says certain words, his delightful Aussie accent slips out? If you’re like me, you wait for and thrill over those little moments, and the curious way he pronounces certain words, like saying Tereza instead of Teresa. Well, one of the many awesome things about Forever is, you DON’T have to sit around waiting for little flashes of accent to pop out here and there. You can enjoy Ioan Gruffudd’s wonderful Welsh brogue in each and every episode, from start to finish.

10.) Move Over, Sherlock – Jane’s incredible powers of observation stem from his mighty mental fortress. Henry’s come from over two centuries of studying every aspect of humanity. Either way, you get the joy of watching a detective who notices even the most minute details – and can use those details to colorfully flesh out the story of the crime. I love a great mystery, but what I love even more is a great investigator. Especially one who doesn’t shy away from sniffing corpses. 🙂

11.) The Big Bad Wolf – For years, Jane had a formidable nemesis in Red John – the shadowy figure who loomed over everything, was responsible for murdering Jane’s family (and countless others), outsmarted Jane at every turn, and seemingly could not be caught. Red John episodes always got my heart slamming, my teeth grinding, and my butt perched on the very edge of the couch. These were the episodes where something happened. Where the core storyline of the show moved forward. Much as I enjoyed the filler eps, the Red John eps were what I looked forward to most. If you’re a fan of shows with great mythology and compelling baddies, look no further than Forever, where Dr. Henry Morgan’s chief enemy – and occasional ally – is a creepy, 2,000-year-old fellow immortal named Adam. He hasn’t killed any of Henry’s loved ones – yet. But the threat is always there, and his murderous, psychotic nature is not in question. Nor is his keen intelligence, honed over thousands of years of life. And his downfall may prove even more difficult than Red John’s, since Adam can’t die, and his supernatural existence would make traditional prosecution near impossible. Intrigued? I know I am! 🙂

 

The Race: Winter Highlights (TV ROCKS!)

There’s no denying it – TV has been rocking lately. Here are just a few of the highlights from my favorite shows (and a couple of dark spots, too):

Monday

Gotham (8/7c, FOX): No secret why this one’s a hit. Despite facing weird, over-the-top comic book villains, Jim Gordon remains down-to-earth, decent, and totally the guy you want to root for. Liking his romance with the nurse from the asylum. LOVING his bromance with Bullock (there was even a KISS!). Most compelling ep to date: the one where Falcone’s people invade the police station on the hunt for Jim (so intense, with the shooting and the blood and little Bruce saying goodbye to Jim… Aw…). Runner up: the one where Liza is revealed as Fish’s spy (the image of Falcone slowly choking Liza to death while Fish is forced to watch…haunt-ing).

Current Score: 7.8

Castle (10/9c, ABC): Although it’s lost the static-crackle, life-or-death intensity of the first few eps, I’m not worried, nor am I complaining. The mystery of Castle’s disappearance is being intentionally back-burnered, so the writers can whip it out unexpectedly and whack us painfully in the face with it like a rubber snake. (This happened to me once, and it really hurt. Seriously, my eyes were watering.) The wedding ep was a memorable one – beautifully shot, with all the right emotions. The lead-up story of Castle being in an alternate universe where he never met Beckett was charming, although the ending was predictable (Castle being unconscious the whole time). And of course, it wasn’t even close to the same league as Supernatural’s epic “What Is And What Should Never Be,” but it didn’t need to be. It was sweet, and it got the point across. The honeymoon was funny, and Javier’s train/hostage situation was nail-biting, but overall Castle seemed to be settling back into a same-old, same-old routine…and then – WHACK. Castle got banned from working with the PD, started his own PI firm, and everything felt fresh, complicated and new again. Right on time. Go writers! 🙂

Current Score: 8

Tuesday (aka best night of TV EVER)

Supernatural (9/8c, CW): Oh, how I love this show. Let me count the ways: 1.) Crowley’s Mommy Issues 2.) Castiel’s Love Story, 3.) BROTHER MOMENTS (like when Sam says stuff like this to Dean: “Maybe part of that force needs to be YOU.”), 4.) Castiel Trying to be a Dad, 5.) Dean Fighting Off His Inner Evil, 6.) Sam’s Heartbreak Over Dean Going Psycho, 7.) Sam Getting All Bad-@$$ Over Some Guy Having Dean’s Jacket, 8.) Sam Holding Charlie in His Arms, 9.) Charlie, 10.) Dark Charlie, 11.) Dark Charlie VS Dark Dean, 12.) Sheriff Jody Mills (if the writers ever kill her off, they’ll be getting some serious hate mail), 13.) TEEN DEAN!, 14.) 200th episode ***, 15.) I’d keep going, but do I really need to? What would I do without Supernatural?

***Special Mention goes to this spectacular hour of TV, which proved once and for all that even after ten years, this show’s still got it. I was nervous going in, because the previews looked, well, for lack of a better word, stupid. A Supernatural musical? A fan-centered episode? Neither of these sounded very good. Past fan-centered eps have been sketchy, at best. When the writers make fun of writers, like in “Hollywood Babylon,” it’s funny because they’re making fun of themselves. But when they make fun of fans, they’re making fun of us – and sometimes it can be a little insulting. I mean, Becky? Is that who they really think we are?

Thankfully, my fears were for naught. “Fan Fiction” had everything a good ep should have – laughs, scares, brotherly sweetness. It also had that special touch of greatness worthy of a milestone. I don’t know the exact moment when things shifted from pure entertainment to something deeper, but maybe it was when the girl cast as Mary began the first strains of “Carry on, Wayward Son.” Or maybe it was when Sam asked, “Who’s that?” and got the answer: “Oh, that’s Adam. Sam and Dean’s other brother. He’s still trapped in the cage with Lucifer.” But somehow, seeing all those kids on stage, singing the show’s most iconic song, dressed as so many of the characters we lost along the way, I was moved to tears. Kudos to the writers on a phenomenal ep, and one that I’ll be studying for a long time in hopes of making my own writing better.

Current Score: 8.5

Chicago Fire (10/9c, NBC): Current list of things Severide isn’t allowed to have: 1.) Best Friend, 2.) Girlfriend, 3.) Wife. Still hating on the decision to kill Shay. They really sucked the soul out of this show. It’s still a great hour of TV and everything, but it’s not the same Chicago Fire I fell in love with. Doesn’t help that I was a Lindsay/Severide shipper, and that freighter went down very early in the season, killed by the writers in the same merciless fashion they killed Shay. Why put in all that effort – across two different shows, no less – to get them together, if the Powers That Be were just going to axe the whole thing? Erin loses points for dumping a guy when he’s at rock bottom. So what if he was being a jerk-wad? When your soul is bleeding to death, you’re entitled. Then Sev spiraled even further out of control, and got married to some chick he barely knew. I didn’t even know what to make of that storyline. It was over too quickly. My impressions of Sev’s short-term wife went something like this: Pretty-TROUBLE-Sweet-PSYCHO-Decent Human. In that order. I liked her by the end, but then she left, and now my boy’s alone again. Not even sure if they’re divorced, annulled, or what?

‘Course, it’s not ALL bad. I like it when Matt calls Severide “Sev.” Liking all the crossovers (though, would it have killed the writers to have Lindsay notice Severide’s new wedding ring?). Sorry about Gabby and Matt. Liking the new girl, Sylvie, and the Zumba storyline was great. Have decided that if I were trapped under debris, Herrman is the firefighter I’d want there with me (he’s SO good with the rescuees – what a sweetheart). Overall, I think they might’ve gone a bit too dark, and need some more happy storylines to balance things out.

Current Score: 7.4

Forever (10/9c, ABC): Falling in love is a beautiful thing. Your heart bounces like a rubber ball, you sing mushy REO Speedwagon songs in the shower, and even dirty piles of snow on the roadside make you think of romantic ski trips in the mountains. I am so totally in love with Forever. It is my favorite show, my obsession, and my biggest-tv-related fear (CANCELLATION), all rolled into one. I know all the characters by name and by heart. I love the flashbacks, the jokes, the chemistry (Henry and Jo, Henry and Abe, Henry and Lucas), and the mythology. I love the shocking intensity of some of the scenes, e.g. Adam slitting Henry’s throat (Ioan Gruffudd’s eyes during that whole sequence – the terror, OMG that guy can ACT), or Henry leaving a man to die to protect himself. I love the poignancy of some of the flashbacks, from Abe going off to war to Henry taking his dying friend James outside in a wheelchair to see the sunset. Also, the flashbacks often dovetail beautifully with the present-day storylines, making each ep that much deeper. It is that special mix of police procedural, fantasy, and characters I can’t get enough of. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

Fav eps so far: “The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths,” “The New York Kids,” and “Skinny Dipper.”

Current Score: 8.5

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (9/8c, ABC): Sorry to say it, but I’m dropping this one. At least for now. It’s a great show, but it’s on opposite Supernatural, and I haven’t been motivated enough to keep up with the recordings. I guess I don’t want it badly enough. Maybe over the summer, when SPN is on reruns?

Current Score: Withheld

Wednesday

The Mentalist (8/7c, CBS): Final season got off to a bumpy start with the first ep. The writers did a good job, but Jane/Lisbon is a drastic thing for viewers to get used to. Didn’t help that I was sitting next to someone who was visibly cringing at the sight of them together, barely holding back under-the-breath comments like, “Why did the writers do this?” and “They don’t have any chemistry!” Nonetheless, I got through that first slightly awkward ep, and to my surprise, things got much better. Second ep was very intense, with Lisbon undercover and people getting shot and everything all LIFEANDDEATH and somehow I got comfortable with Jisbon very quickly. There’s an added depth to the show, because Jane is that much more invested in Lisbon’s welfare. It does still seem a bit surreal, like fanfic playing out on screen. But that’s okay – I like fanfic. 🙂 Favorite moments: Vega saying to Cho how much she respects him and the way he conducts himself (meaning, between the lines, how much she doesn’t respect the way Jane conducts himself, LOL), Jane hugging Cho until Cho finally breaks into a smile, audience finally meeting Lisbon’s other two brothers, Lisbon doing Jane’s psychic act, the whole team going to bat for Abbott, and any scene with Wylie in it.

Got scared when Jane first said he wanted to go away – mostly because it happened in an ep where he was sick, and that’s something very seriously ill people sometimes say – that they just want to go away from it all. It quickly became clear, though, that his reasons had nothing to do with health – at least not his own. Lisbon’s safety is on the forefront of his mind. They are together now, so he’s got more to lose than ever before. Also, his main reason for being with the police – catching Red John – no longer exists. Therefore, why stay?

Vega’s tragic death was written to further Jane’s desire, to push him harder away from police work. It hurt, because I really liked her. I liked that she was her own person, not a clone of Season One’s Van Pelt. I liked her because she hero-worshipped Cho, and because Wylie loved her. RIP Michelle. Wish the writers could’ve had everybody live happily ever after, but I don’t want to judge their decision too harshly until I see the endgame. Stay tuned.

Current Score: 7.9

Chicago PD (10/9c, NBC): Pretty good so far. The crossovers are my favorite eps to date, especially the three-way with SVU (although I actually liked the SVU portion of that better than the PD portion – PD gets too bloody sometimes). The actor playing Erin’s brother, Lou Taylor Pucci, should seriously get an award. His performances were amazing, and I wish he were a regular. Not crazy about Erin/Jay, but I don’t hate it either. They’re cute, I just miss Erin/Severide. It’s never even mentioned anymore. The whole “Erin joins the FBI” storyline seemed kinda pointless, as the outcome (Erin comes back to Intelligence) was pretty predictable. I am digging Ruzek with Burgess. Wish they had more screen time. Really dug the ep with Atwater, Ruzek and Antonio undercover in prison – that was way cool. The ep with the booby-trap bomber was high-octane, but some of the scenes with the cops entering obviously rigged buildings – without the bomb squad being present – seemed unrealistic. At the end of the day, though, you have a show where a cop can sit in an interrogation room, throwing lit matches at a serial arson suspect, and part of you just has to love it.

Current Score: 7.6

Stalker (10/9c, CBS): Haven’t been able to keep up with every episode, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. This show is SCARY. Like, truly. There are 1-3 genuine, grip-the-edge-of-the-couch moments in every single episode, and I love that. This show is a thriller, as opposed to Criminal Minds, which is much more of a gross-out slasher flick (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not as scary). I enjoy Stalker’s ongoing character arcs, and the fact that most times they are able to save the person being stalked. I just don’t enjoy watching it alone. In the dark.

Current Score: 7.5

Thursday

Elementary (10/9c, CBS): Liked the addition of Kitty – she was a nice blast of fresh air, and I’m sad to see her go (but very happy she didn’t cross the line over to murder). Hope she comes back for a few visits before the season’s up. Other than the storyline of finding her attacker and bringing him to justice, there aren’t any huge moments that stand out to me so far. Still waiting for this show to really grab me again like it did in S1. Which may just happen next week, because OMG Andrew just got murdered out the blue (poison intended for Joan, right?), and OMG I did not see that coming at all.

Current Score: 6.7

Friday

Grimm (9/8c, NBC): Seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Grimm? We were talking in my writing group about the merits of various supernatural-themed shows – The X-Files, Supernatural, etc. – and the only one we all watched and loved was Grimm. This show is the new definition of FUN. The highlights: Nick getting his Grimm mojo back (complete with zombie cold flashes – YAY!), Trubel’s emotional reaction to aforementioned re-Grimming, Wu FINALLY getting to learn the secret (it got to the point where I was yelling at the screen, “Just TELL him already!!”), Juliette as one bad-@$$ Hexenbeist (soooo coooool), Sean’s awesome mom, SEAN LIVES!! (Though what was that whole bleeding thing about – that scared me pretty good. He’s safe, right???), and Monroe getting saved from some weird, racist cult that liked to say “Wesenrein” and “Impuro” WAY too many times in a row.

Trubel will be sorely missed, and hopefully she’ll be back before long, but even without her magnetic presence, this show is on FIRE. (In a good way).

Current Score: 8.5

Saturday

Red Band Society (8/7c, FOX): When they took it off the air for weeks, then carelessly tossed it onto Saturday, I knew we were probably looking at the end. It’s not written in stone, but pretty close. Tonight’s two-hour season finale will likely be the last we see of the kids, docs, and nurses we’ve grown to love. Kara, I must say, is my favorite – what a treat to watch her slowly transform from shallow b!tch to a person who can put her own grief aside to reach out and comfort someone else. I’m heartbroken for Leo, sad for Emma, hopeful for Jordi, worried about Dash, excited for Charlie, and grieving for Hunter. These kids really burrow their way into your heart, don’t they? Here’s hoping that they at least get some kind of happy ending.

Current Score: 8

November Winner: Supernatural

For the 200th episode alone, this one had to take the prize. Long live Supernatural!

December Winner: Forever, Runner-up: The Mentalist

Forever gets the top honors, owing to the epic episode “Skinny Dipper,” which starts out with Henry’s brutal murder in a taxi, and rip-roars all the way through to Adam’s creepy reveal at the end. I still have shivers. The Mentalist gets a nod for delivering good quality eps while doing the best possible job of getting people comfortable with a ship not everyone wants.

January Winner: Grimm

Do I even have to give an explanation?

 

Great Reads, Volume 2: It’s Raining You-Know-What

Maymaykitten

Before we get to the awesome stories, I just wanted to say an enormous “Thank You!” to everybody who came out to the Chesterfield Petsmart on Sunday, December 21st to support Furget Us Not Rescue. The event was a big success, all because of you! 🙂  In the near future, I will be doing an in-depth piece about book promotion to help my fellow authors, including what worked and didn’t in terms of advertising, a copy of my proposal, event dos and don’ts, and much more. In the meantime, though, I have a nice little post-holiday gift for my fellow fans: FIVE absolutely excellent stories for you to enjoy – two original flash fiction pieces, and three fanfics, all on the theme of cats and dogs!

The two original stories aren’t just two of the best cat and dog stories I’ve ever read – they’re two of the best stories I’ve ever read, period. Seriously, if you haven’t read these, your life is not complete. Go fix that now, by reading and reviewing these phenomenal fics.

In terms of the fanfics, we’ve got one for The Mentalist, one for Smallville, and I even went old-school with a golden oldie written for The X-Files! So go forth, read, and enjoy!

ORIGINAL STORIES

The Last Accounting ” by JR Hume

For full appreciation of the awesomeness, make sure you read the Rainbow Bridge verse by William M. Britton. You will need tissues for both the poem and the story. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, if you love the story: a.) let the author know and b.) check out the plethora of other stories by JR Hume!

Nikki Comes Home” by Christopher Owen

This one just rips me to shreds. But, like, in a good way. I’ll never forget this story as long as I live, because of how deeply it touched me. So short, so sweet, so perfect. Another major Kleenex alert. If you love it (and you will), tell the author!

FANFICTION

The X-Files

Walk Like a Man” by Windsinger (aka Sue Esty)

Took me three days to track this one down, but man was it worth it. I couldn’t let myself give up, because I just had to share this story with other fans. When something you read has stayed in your heart – like exact quotes from the text – for over a decade, you know it’s something special. Another Kleenex Alert (best to have two boxes on hand), and warnings also for disturbing themes of child abuse. The overall message is positive, but the journey is rough. You have been warned.

Smallville

My Favorite Things” by paperbkryter

No tissues needed here – all smiles for this one. A sweet Season One story featuring the beauty and innocence of Clark and Lana’s early friendship. Oh, yeah, and there’s some really cute cats in it. A guaranteed pick-me-up after the first three tear-jerkers. 🙂

The Mentalist

Big Red Tabby” by ruuger

Another one that’ll leave you smiling. The talented ruuger lifts Jane out of his gloom and sends him on a mini-adventure to help out a worried little boy, with some adorable results. Features great characterization, as always, plus some nice jokes and sweet moments. A very well-rounded fic.

Don’t forget to review!

Up Next On ATHF: November/December Race Highlights, January Race Results, 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer, one of the BEST writing resources on the web, 10 Reasons The Mentalist Fans Will Love Forever, and Care and Feeding of Your Forever Obsession

Great Reads, Volume One: Mmmmm, Brains!

ZombieBlogBigger

So, it’s Halloween, and if you’re like most people, you’re in the mood for some brains – er, I mean, zombie stories. Below you’ll find some of my favorites – two fanfics, and one original fiction. This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll be recommending some great fic and fanfic from around the web. Future volumes will feature stories about animals, superheroes, time travel, werewolves, and many more topics!

If you have a fic you’d like to recommend for an upcoming volume of Great Reads, feel free to leave a link in the comments section. My only rule – it has to be someone else’s story, not your own. It should also be either fiction or fanfiction, and free to read. Length and subject matter are completely open, so go crazy!

In the meantime, go crazy reading these great stories. Oh, and if you really like them, why not take a moment to let the author know? Reviews are free to write, and priceless to the author who receives them. 🙂

Original Fiction

“The Former King of Fort Wal-Mart” by Brock Adams

One of my all-time favorite Every Day Fiction stories – the character is deeply relatable, and the plot is different from other zombie stories I’ve read, giving it a very fresh feel. Well, as fresh as you can get when reading about rotting flesh. Go check it out!

Fanfiction

Supernatural

“Decomposure” by paperbkryter

Not exactly a zombie fic in the traditional sense, but close enough. It’s dark, it’s creepy, and it’s hard to get that “dead” smell out after you read it. I’ve been following this author for many years now. If you’re a fan of either Supernatural or Smallville, then paperbkryter’s stories fall into the category of “must-read.”

The Mentalist

“Red Ruin” by ruuger

Yes, you read that right, there’s a Mentalist zombie story. The moment I found this, I just knew I had to include it in Great Reads. Not only is it different from any other Mentalist story out there, but it also has the same high quality and great characterization that make all of this author’s stories shine. Go fight zombies with Jane and Van Pelt!

 

Up Next: Movie reviews for X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Wolverine

The Race: October 2014 “Oldies vs. Newbies”

Pumpkins, pretty leaves, and premieres – doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Fall is upon us, and for network TV fans, excitement is in the air. New shows are prancing onto the scene left and right, trying to wow viewers with sizzling storylines and compelling characters. Meanwhile, veteran dramas are pouring on a fresh layer of intrigue, twists, and even character deaths, hoping to keep established audiences riveted. And me, well, I’ve got the easy job – sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows. 🙂

The Oldies:

Monday

Castle (10pm, ABC): How do you spell awesome? C-A-S-T-L-E! So far, this one’s really bringing it in a BIG way. They had a huge finale last season, and they fearlessly picked right up where they left off. Beckett reaching for the door handle of the burning car was so beautifully shot and performed. The emotion gushed from the screen. The mystery of Castle’s disappearance (and reappearance) is huge, complex, and more than a little bit scary. He didn’t want to remember? And what the heck happened to Castle when he was a little boy? My imagination will be having a field day until all truths are revealed. This is a great arc just overflowing with possibilities – they could easily take it all season, and I hope they do. In the meantime, I’m happy to watch Castle and Beckett get back into their mind-melding rhythm while chasing super creepy cyber-stalkers and invisible (pardon me, “cloaked”) murderers. (Side note: is this show starting to go more sci-fi recently? If so, I approve!) 🙂

Castle Score: 9

Tuesday

Supernatural (9pm, CW): Off to a rocky start, but getting better. The first two eps, at least, did not live up to my hopes. Of course, I did have insanely high expectations, so the chances of the writers living up to them were slim. The first ep seemed rushed and confusing. Too much was skipped over without explanation, and I spent the whole ep just basically trying to figure out the timeline and what was going on.

Dean as a demon wasn’t as much fun as I’d hoped, either. There were so many COOL storyline possibilities for Demon!Dean, but alas, he was a bit wishy-washy. The show seemed confused about which direction to take him in. He seemed basically human – but with a big old nasty streak – in the opener. He didn’t want to rescue Sam, but vowed to kill the guy who had Sam hostage. He also left Sam that note to “let me go.” So, some level of brotherly loyalty appeared to be intact. Also, Dean didn’t seem to know he was a demon. Crowley: “The Blade needs to be sated, otherwise…” Dean: “I know, I know, I’ll turn into a demon…” This was the most interesting thing about the opener – that Dean didn’t know he was a demon.

Then, as if that line had never been spoken, Episode Two came along. And here we have a full-on EVIL Dean, killing for sport, talking about ripping Sam’s throat out, flashing his black eyes at people and openly stating that he is a demon. Me: What the…????? So, some HUGE inconsistencies in the writing between the first two eps. Ep Three continued to embrace the horribly evil Demon!Dean from Ep Two, portrayed with devilish delight by Jensen. It was hard to watch, but Sam’s love and loyalty, along with some old Winchester family photos and emotional Season One music, kept me going til the end, when we finally got our Dean back. At this point, I’m just glad the demon storyline is over, Cass is temporarily mended, and things are back to semi-normal.

Last night’s ep, “Paper Moon,” continued the upward trend, with some nice brother moments and a good parallel storyline about two werewolf sisters. I didn’t love the episode “Bitten,” (see my review), but “Paper Moon” was pretty darn decent.

Supernatural Score: 7.5

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (9pm (<-yes that is an issue), ABC): I might be able to forgive this show for the Ward mess…eventually. Not all caught up on my tapes yet, but loving Jemma as a spy, tortured!Ward in prison, Skye being trained by May, Fitz trying to recover, and Coulson, as always, holding them all together. Good stuffs.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Score: 7

Chicago Fire (10pm, NBC): Wow, they just took away a good fifty percent of this show’s appeal by killing off one character. Yikes. I was SO looking forward to the premiere, and then they had to go and do THAT. Killing off Shay was a major no-no. Not only was she one of the few lesbian characters on network TV, but her relationship with Severide was so darn SPECIAL. Even if the actress wanted to be written off, I still, as a writer on that show, would not have killed her. I would not have burned that bridge, because there’ll never be another one like it. Platonic male/female relationships are a rare gem, both on TV and in real life. I’ll never forget watching an X-Files special and hearing Sheila Larken, the actress who played Scully’s mother, talk about the then-platonic relationship between Mulder and Scully. She said, “They are best friends beyond what lovers could be.” That always stuck with me. There is a different, and possibly deeper, form of love that runs between best friends than there could ever be between romantic partners. Boyfriends come and go, but best friends are forever. Remember when Severide was missing for like 24 hours, and Shay was the only one who bothered to look for him, or even really noticed he was gone? Remember when he said to her, “I don’t trust anybody in this world, except you”? Now he has no one, and my heart is smushed. Mourning the Shayveride…:(

Chicago Fire Score: 6.5

Wednesday

Chicago PD (10pm, NBC): Still an excellent police procedural that doesn’t shy away from embracing its dark side. First couple eps were a bit shaky, with too many twists and turns, too many suspects, making it easy to lose interest. Then things got better, with more personal storylines tied to the main characters, including Jay’s friend getting shot in the bar and Voight’s grandchild being threatened by some serious baddies. Kudos to this show for keeping Voight’s character just as twisted and borderline immoral as he was on CF. This is a guy who will maim or kill people, purely out of vengeance. This is definitely the same guy who tried to have Matt killed at one point. Sometimes you root for him, sometimes you cringe and turn away from the screen. Either way, it’s very consistent writing.

Chicago PD Score: 6.8

Friday

Grimm (9pm, NBC): Woo hoo! It’s finally back! This one came back swinging, just like Castle. An exciting first installment with lots of mixed emotions. Juliette is kind of happy about Nick’s condition. Can’t really blame her, but I hope she eventually comes to see that being a Grimm is a part of who Nick is, and a part of why she loves him. Monroe and Rosalie get major loyalty points for skipping their honeymoon to help their friends. Not at all surprising, but it still gave me the warm fuzzies. The octopus thing was pretty freaky. Anything with tentacles…**shiver** The big “oh no” moment came at the end, though. Please tell me they didn’t just kill off Sean. Seriously, someone please say that to me right now. Voice from corner: “They did not just kill off Sean.” Thanks, I feel better 🙂

Grimm Score: 7.6

Brand-Spankin’ Newbies:

Monday

Gotham (8pm (WAY too early for such a dark show), FOX): Growing up, I never really liked Batman. To me, the movies were very twisted and creepy. Too many shadows, too many bats, too gothic, too gory. As an adult, I feel pretty much the same. I will take Superman over Batman any day of the week, month, or year. I’ve never seen any of the newer Batman movies like Batman Begins or even (try not to gasp) The Dark Knight. Really the only thing that got me to tune in for the premiere was the fact that this is Bruno Heller’s (AKA The Mentalist creator’s) new show.

Watching Gotham, I have to say: I still don’t like Batman very much. Gotham has all the same shadows, gore, corruption and creepiness that make Batman such a turn-off for me. And yet…I’m still watching. Why? I like Jim Gordon. I like the actor. I like the character’s goodness, his determination to single-handedly turn around a dirty police department in an even dirtier city. And I really like the partnership between Jim and Harvey. Jim is as wholesome as they come, and Harvey is as close to morally bankrupt as you can get. They’re the odd couple, and it works, because you can see Jim rubbing off on Harvey, little by little. It’s a satisfying, often humorous, and occasionally downright touching thing to watch.

Gotham Score: 7.4

Tuesday

Forever (10pm (<- Oh noes! Timeslot conflicts galore!), ABC): Yay! Favorite new show! I liked it from the very beginning, but the moment that really threw me head-over-heels was when they revealed Abe as the baby Henry and Abigail had rescued from the concentration camp. When Henry kissed grown-up Abe’s head, something in my heart just ripped open and gushed. The relationship between the two men is part bromance, part father-son (with Henry as the father who raised Abe), and part son-father (with Abe, who seems older, as the father/caretaker worried about what will happen to Henry down the line). Super complex, unique, and utterly endearing. Henry’s flint-spark chemistry with his new partner doesn’t hurt the show, either. Nor do the hilarious worker in the ME’s office, the great premise which is just brimming with awesome storyline possibilities, and the fact that when Henry smiles, I do, too! This show is a WIN!

Forever Score: 8

Wednesday

Red Band Society (9pm, FOX): Liking this one. It’s very positive and hopeful, with some nice teen drama mixed in. I enjoy shows that shine a light on people helping one another, doing good things, making the world a little better. A lot of the lines make me laugh, and there are tearjerker moments, too. The most recent ep, focusing on Charlie’s story (with a nice side adventure between Kara and Dash), was my favorite so far. Getting very attached to the characters. The only problem with getting attached to a show on FOX is that the channel is very iffy here. One night I might sit down to watch RBS, and find a blue box waiting for me that reads: “No signal. Unable to tune to channel. Check antenna or try rescanning.” Nooooooooo!

Red Band Society Score: 7.5

Stalker (10pm, CBS): This one’s still waiting for me on tape, but I’m excited. I hope I love it. I want to love it. I already love Maggie Q – and Dylan McD – so why not?

September/October Winner: Castle

Runner-up: Forever

Way to go, Alphabet Network! 🙂

Still MIA:

Elementary (Coming back tomorrow night. Woo hoo!)

The Mentalist (Will return in January for a tragically short 13 ep final season…)

BATB (Is this a summer show now? Speaking of summer shows, how much did Unforgettable rock this year? Personal cases, emotional depth, adorable chemistry between Carrie and Al – I didn’t want it to end! So glad they revamped this and gave it another chance…)

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this premiere season. I’ve never gotten into so many new shows at once. Can’t wait for more eps to gush/lament about! 🙂

Next up: Come back on Friday for a special Halloween treat – zombie stories! 🙂