Posted by Zan Romanoff
Do you know what convinced me to start watching Teen Wolf? It was not Tyler Posey's shirtless torso, or Tyler Hoechlin's shirtless torso, or even the power of their shirtless torsos combined. (It might have been a little bit of their torsos and Hoechlin's face but-- that's only natural, I'm only human, okay.) Anyway it was the early scene in which Posey's character, Scott, has recently become a werewolf and, as a fun side effect, gotten really good at lacrosse. Head Jock In Charge Jackson Whittemore, convinced Scott is taking steriods, slams him up against a locker and demands to know where he's getting his juice. Scott looks back, so sweet and perfectly sixteen, and says, "I don't know? My mom does all the grocery shopping."
The moments in which Teen Wolf allows its characters to be teenagers, to be goofballs, to react to pain and trauma and fear with the same mix of shock and misplaced levity that actual humans do are always the best ones. Last night saw Peter shooting himself with an enormous syringe's worth of epinephrine to prepare for a fight with the Alpha twins (whose shirtless torsos literally do combine to make on enormous shirtless torso when they wolf out, but it's just weird and not intruiging, sorry) and staggering out of the hospital room with the needle still in his chest, grunting and growling; once it had worn off he and Scott locked themselves in a laundry room and escaped the twins down a laundry chute. They landed on top of one another in a pile of soft white sheets (clean sheets, let's hope-- they were in a hospital, after all), Peter bitching at Scott for not waiting longer to jump down after him. I laughed out loud! I shed small, discreet tears when Stiles talked about not wanting to have to find his dad's body! The episodes' dramatic structure was as weird as they always are, but at least this one was fun to watch.
We're winding down towards the end of the first part of the third season (when MTV doubled their episode order, they apparently did it in two sections: 12 episodes to air as season 3a this summer, with another 12 coming in January), and the massive cast of characters is starting to become seriously unweildy as the plot tightens up. There's also a lot of explaining to do, as evidenced by last night's big monologue/infodump scenes between Kali and Deucalion and Derek and Jennifer.
The episode goes roughly as follows: there's a storm so bad it's knocking out power to Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital and everyone is being evacuated. Everyone, that is, except Cora, who's still sick with mistletoe poisoning. (Why, you might ask? No one knows yet. Probably because the actress who plays her was in a CW pilot that got picked up.) Derek knows that Jennifer is the Darach; the says she'll save Cora out of the goodness of her heart. When she and Derek and Scott and Stiles get to the hospital it turns out that the Alphas are already there, wreaking merry havoc on Peter. Jennifer runs away and then returns to say she'll save Cora and tell the gang where she abducted Stiles' father to-- in exchange for them getting her out of the hospital alive.
Because it turns out that Jen was Kali's emissary, back when she had a real pack, and that Kali mutilated her and left her for dead, and Jennifer drew power from the tree where Derek had murdered his virginal teenage girlfriend after the bite didn't take so that she could survive long enough to hatch a plot to sacrifice a bunch more people to gain enough power to murder the Alpha pack. On a total lunar eclipse. When they can't shift or heal. Deucalion knew all of this all along and waited until Jennifer had made off with Scott's mom to force him into the ultimate deal: join me, or she will die.
I know, right. That's a lot to have done in ten episodes, and that's not even counting Lydia, who's apparently a banshee and spends the episode off-screen getting treated for the bruises from where Jennifer almost strangled her. I'm hoping that with the season's mysteries mostly cleared up the next two episodes will be clearer and cleaner, though honestly I kind of doubt it-- but maybe at least they'll be funny?
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August 5, 2013 | 2:43 pm
Posted by Zan Romanoff
I really feel like I gave Doctor Who a fair shot. I watched the first two seasons (well, starting with the 2005 reboot) and then, in desperation, turned to the friend who'd recommended it to me in the first place to ask for pointers. He made me a list of the best episodes in seasons three and four and when I couldn't get through those it felt fair to just let the project go. I wrote about my frustration, then. I love fantasy and I love science fiction and I have a lot of affection for weird, low-budget television (Firefly, anyone?) but I just think Doctor Who is boring. The world building is sloppy and the one-off episodes are never suspenseful and I've never turned off one episode with any kind of desire to see what happens in the next.
And in some ways that makes my life easier, because showrunner Steven Moffat is a deeply sexist human being. He's repeatedly made sexist remarks-- most recently, when announcing Peter Capaldi as the newest Doctor, he compared the absurdity of fan desire for a female doctor to "a man playing the queen," which, of course, has happened on stage, and will happen in real life, in essence, when Charles succeeds Elizabeth-- and he's taken the show in an increasingly worrying direction in terms of its characters and plots.
I'm strongly of the opinion that you can enjoy media you disagree with or find problematic; in fact, I think it's useful to engage with culture that ticks you off, because it forces you to explore what, precisely, you disagree with, to refine and elucidate your objections, to explore facts of feeling you might not otherwise encounter. And it's always good when fans of a show are willing to take its writers to task for their sins, saying "hey, you do so well so often, and yet sometimes I still wish you would do better." I am glad there's a world of feminist (and otherwise aligned-- I'd take a Doctor of color for some diversity, too, of course) Whovians out there dissecting why Moffat's narrow-mindedness is hurting both them and the show itself. It's a fight worth fighting, as long as the show is going to be on, and people are going to continue to watch and love it. For my part, however, I'm glad to be able to stay out of the fray-- to know that since I don't like it on any level, it's one thing I don't have to watch.
August 2, 2013 | 10:18 am
Posted by Zan Romanoff
Someone-- some enterprisingly lazy grad student, probably-- should put together a longitudinal study on the effects of sleep deprivation based solely on evidence gathered from reality television show contestants. Basically: how many episodes in does someone (who seems otherwise stable, and you'd have to establish a baseline, since reality TV tends to attract a particular, dramatic Type) have a very tearful meltdown?
It took this season of Project Runway all of two and a half before Miranda was calling Timothy names in the workroom, making sad, stubborn faces and basically refusing to carry on with their (admittely misguided) team challenge design. "I'm gonna need f------ therapy after this," she admitted in a teary confessional, though since it's Timothy who got auf'ed for their work she'll have to put that off for at least another week. After nearly avoiding a similar fate last week Helen won for her collaboration with Kate (who she had, previously, called a bitch!), a totally cute look made out of repurposed sombreros. Both of the top teams were comprised of women who worked well together; it was a bright spot in an otherwise bloated hour to see women being supportive of one another, especially on reality TV.
The episode in general, however, was a good example of what makes latter day Project Runway hard to watch: it took the always fun unconventional challenge model, in which designers use materials other than bolts of fabric, needles and thread to create their looks, and wrapped it in fifteen minutes of cringe-y lead up product placement that involved the designers giving away free samples of frozen yogurt on the Coney Island boardwalk on a rainy day. They asked the tasters to give them adjectives to describe the yogurt which they then used to inspire their look, which had to be made of materials they won playing games to the boardwalk's Luna Park. It's necessary, I know, to fund the show, but somewhere between boring and painful to watch, and given that the episode aired with commercials spanned a full ninety minutes, stunts like this one severly test the limits of the viewer's attention span. Project Runway works best when it gives us uncomplicated fun: talented people trying to make beautiful things in stressful conditions. It was surprising-- and then surprising it was so surprising--- to hear judge Nina Garcia praise Alexandria and Dom's look as "an Instagram moment," when the show so often seem stodgy and unsophisticated, these days. I'm fine with continued unconventional challenges-- and even team challenges, which always bring out the drama in people-- but can we get more Instagram moments, please?