Yes, I’ll try ‘The Vampire Diaries’

I’m not entirely sure what the majority of people out there think of the upcoming show The Vampire Diaries, which premieres on The CW tomorrow night. I’ve heard some people are very excited about it. Others, though, think it’s a Twilight ripoff and are really irritated that it made the cut.

But let me say one thing: It’s not Twilight. If Twilight were a chicken and Vampire Diaries were the egg, we’d have an answer to our lifelong question. The egg came first.

Let me explain. I’m sure you already know, but I’ll reiterate. The Vampire Diaries is based on a book series by L.J. Smith. They were first published in 1991–yes, we’re talking almost 20 years ago.

I haven’t read this series. But I have read another one of her series: The Secret Circle series. I’m not saying they’re the same (after all, one series is about vampires, and the other is about witches), but it does make me respect the author. I mean, the series I read wasn’t the best group of books I’ve ever read in my life, but they were enjoyable, and I read them more than once, so that gives them props in my book.

So we’re looking at a TV show based on a series that was developed and published 20 years ago. A series that just happens to be about vampires and a mortal girl, and it was aimed at a young adult target audience.

I’m not saying that Stephanie Meyer read this series and based her books on it. In fact, the plots are different, despite what the trailers lead you to believe. Honestly, I feel like Meyer probably should have read the series, just to do her research on what else is out there as far as competitors go, and if that’s the case, she probably made her books different on purpose. If she didn’t read them, well, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

But from what I can tell, Twilight is, of course, about a girl named Bella, who moves to Forks, falls in love with “vegetarian” Edward (meaning he’ll eat meat but not humans) and so on and so on. The Vampire Diaries is also about a girl, but here we have two vampire brothers–one who loves and wants to protect her, and the other who wants to have her for his meal.

I’m not saying they’re polar opposites, but I am saying that there are some differences. And I’m interested to see what direction it takes to further differentiate itself from the Twilight series.

I should also mention that apparently a spinoff series from The Vampire Diaries was just launched this year (first book was released February), so good for L.J. Smith. I’m glad she’s still writing, and hopefully this will give the series a little more credibility.

Twilight ruins everything. But Buffy‘s still the best.

Amber Benson book signing

Well, if you were in the Boston area on Friday night, you might’ve heard that the Amber Benson, Chris Golden, and Thomas E. Sniegoski were at Pandemonium Books, signing their recent books. It was actually a neat event, and I was especially excited to hear about it, as I recently finished Amber Benson’s Death’s Daughter, the first in her Calliope Reaper-Jones trilogy. And hey, being a Buffy veteran didn’t hurt.

I was ultimately disadvantaged since I was unfamiliar with Thomas E. Sniegoski’s works (beyond comics, he wrote the novel that the miniseries Fallen was based on), but I am familiar with Chris Golden. He co-wrote the Ghosts of Albion series with Amber, and he’s also had a hand in the Buffy comics (refer to the Buffy Omnibus comics). But really, it looks like all three of them had a hand in the Buffy and Angel projects–which made the event a hub for Whedon excitement.

The event started with a Q&A from the crowd. The panel discussed everything from the Buffy reboot to Amber’s indie film Chance. And a lot about writing. Some of the most interesting parts were their discussion on how someone can move forward in writing (try, try, try; blog your writing; get it out there) and who their worst critic was (sure, the press is rough, but the worst critic seemed to be themselves–”well, there was this one guy…”). But really, the best part was seeing the writers all interact with each other, laughing and joking and enjoying the crowd.

After the Q&A, there was a signing. Of course, there was a plethora of Buffy paraphernalia. I was lucky enough to get both Death’s Daughter and Ghosts of Albion: Accursed signed. Overall, a good time.

But enough about that. How about some pictures of the event? (Sorry they’re not greater quality!)

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Benson takes a Twitpic of the crowd

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Benson answers a question in the Q&A

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Golden and Sniegoski during the event

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Sniegoski and Benson during the signing

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Had to get this pic of Benson signing her own Buffy action figure

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Golden, Sniegoski, and Benson at the signing

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Benson and Death's Daughter

Anyway, it was nice to see someone famous for TV go outside of their comfort zone and enter into a new arena. Plus, books are always good. So this summer, support Tom, Chris, and Amber, and head over to the bookstore to pick up some new reads. It’ll be fun. I promise.

OMG. A ‘New Moon’ trailer! Squeal giggle faint.

You knew it was coming. You didn’t know when, but you knew it would. And it has. The trailer for New Moon.

It was premiered at the MTV Movie Awards last night, though I don’t know if it was leaked before. It was introduced, of course, by the heart-throbby Robert Pattinson, a lackluster Kristen Stewart (seriously, she looked like she’d rather be having a root canal than introducing the promo), and the freshfaced Taylor Lautner. Watch it below.

Sadly, this video doesn’t include the swooning and screaming of the teenage girls watching it at the MTV Movie Awards. Apparently, while Robert Pattinson might make girls faint, a shirtless Taylor Lautner brings about explosions of teenage hormones in girly glee.

To be honest, I’m not that impressed with the trailer. I mean, I read the books. I wasn’t that impressed with the books, but they certainly have some interesting things to show. So just showing Jacob turn into a wolf (sorry, had to laugh at that effect, though at least it’s better than Edward’s glittery skin) and the party just seemed lame. I guess it’s an attempt not to give anything away, but it seems like a missed opportunity.

I know, I know. Teenage girls everywhere are going, “There was kissing and a shirtless Jacob! That’s enough for me!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll probably end up seeing it. Not in the theaters, but on Netflix. If you recall, I enjoyed the first one, given that I didn’t take it too seriously. In other words, I had to laugh at it from time to time. But I enjoyed it, and I’ll probably check out New Moon.

I wonder, though, if they’re really taking it to where the books took the story. I mean, Bella really had a dark transformation in this book, and (to an extent) so did the pansy Edward. I can see them playing up Edward, but I’m not sure that they will really put the darkness in Bella that I think it really needs, solely because of the young audience. Reading is one thing. Seeing is another.

But I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, please continue to replay the trailer. Just warn me before you squeal.

Twilight News and Vampire Open Thread(ish)!

I was a very bad Raked last night, and I only watched 20 minutes of TV. That means The Unusuals and Scrubs are both living in my TiVo, so you’ll have to wait on those.

Found out today that there’s a new director for Twilight‘s third movie, Eclipse. It’s official this time. I know you all were hoping for Drew Barrymore, but no. I believe I identified that as a publicity stunt (and I still think it was), but it looks like now it will be…

[drumroll please]

David Slade! Who is David Slade? Well, he directed 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy. Nope, I didn’t see either of those. But apparently horror and monsters are not exactly new to him, so there you go. Read all about it.

Why do all these Twilight directors keep hopping around? I mean, we know why the first director left: money or timing or probably money. But now we have New Moon‘s Chris Weitz leaving after that movie’s said and done. Maybe it’s so that you’re not only known to be in the vampire genre.

And what about the vampire genre? Seems to be huge now, eh? First there was Buffy, then Angel. Moonlight had a short life right after Angel, and now TV has True Blood. Add in the CW’s plan to make a series from L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries, and you’re all set (personally, I’d much prefer a movie or series based on her Secret Circle, but that’s just me).

And of course Twilight. But those aren’t the only books. I’m not going to spend time running down the entire list (there are too many), but even the guy who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is going to be coming out with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (not kidding).

So what about vampires? Here’s where the “open thread” comes in, even though I kinda sorta chose a topic for discussion. I want to hear your thoughts.

  • Are you a Twilight fan? Books? Movie?
  • Best vampire series out there–TV or otherwise. (I’m personally curious about True Blood, as I don’t have HBO and have never seen it.)
  • Who’s your vampy hottie? Spike, Angel, Edward?
  • Are you even a vampire fan? What monster gets your mojo going?
  • Do you hate me now that I just said “vampy” and “mojo”?
  • And who’s your vote to kill them all! (I immediately think Buffy, but there’s Faith, werewolves, Mr. Sunlight, jealous ex…)

Anyway, have at it. Just click on that pretty red box below (scroll, it’s down there), and let me know. Like I said, I’m curious about True Blood, and I never saw Moonlight, so both of those would be good to hear about.

And anyone who remembers Sliders‘ episode “Stoker” gets a gold star. Though, really, I hope none of you out there do. It was a pretty bad episode.

I finally saw TWILIGHT

So I realize that I’m a TV blogger, but it’s not like I haven’t shared any Twilight news over the last bit, so I think it’s fair to share my thoughts on the Twilight movie in response to my “How was Twilight?” post. So we’ll just expand Raked for this post, and say that I’m writing about “entertainment.”

Anyway, I think I watched it wrong. I actually didn’t think it was so bad; you could say I actually kinda liked it. Before you jump for joy or weep on my behalf, keep reading.

I think I’ve made it abundantly clear throughout my posts that I’m not a fan of the books. While I read all four (yes, I even suffered through Breaking Dawn), I thought the writing was terrible. The story was compelling enough to make me get through them–mostly because once I was 250 pages in, I felt like I had to get through the rest to see what happened. After all, I devoted that much time, right?

Anyway, I was never a fan of Edward. Frankly, I was never a fan of Bella. They both annoyed me. I didn’t mind Jacob, though in my opinion, he was destroyed in the fourth book (I think others might disagree with me, and you’re welcome to in the comments).

But this isn’t about the book. It’s about the movie. With such strong feelings about the book, it’s no surprise that I didn’t see it in the theater. But when I did see it this weekend, I enjoyed it.

Of course, I didn’t take it seriously. In fact, I kinda laughed at some of the most dramatic parts. Every time Edward leapt through the trees, for one. Really, you have to look at it how it is: Edward is a psycho stalker. He just is. Sure, he saves Bella’s life a few dozen times, but he’s a psycho stalker.

In realistic movie review fashion, I should say this: I think it was cast well. While not a real Robert Pattinson fan, he did a good job as Edward, and hey, he even smiled sometimes, which was a bit charming. Kristen Stewart’s Bella wasn’t nearly as annoying as the actual character in the book, and I actually liked her.

But it was really the characters in the periphery that grabbed my attention. Of course, I was glad to see Michael Welch of Joan of Arcadia fame as Mike, and while I would have pictured Mike a little cooler than Welch played it, I think ultimately the character was sound.

I particularly liked Jessica, who actually seemed to come across as a real high school teenager–the first movie in the history of time that’s actually been successful in that feat.

More so, I loved Charlie. He was fantastic in a minimalistic way. The relationship between him and Bella was so awkward it was believable without being over-the-top. One flaw in many TV series and movies is that they pus the father/daughter awkwardness to far into estrangement and kill it. It was a great touch.

Plus, who knew they’d have one-liners? You know how much I like one-liners.

So if you’re a big fan of the books, or if you want a real serious movie, you may not appreciate it. But if you don’t mind laughing at it–don’t take it so seriously–you might just enjoy it.

Oh, and if you’re obsessed with Robert Pattinson, well, you’ll be fine, too.

So I wonder how I’ll like the next movies. Of course, with the success of this movie, that leaves plenty of room for them to try to be more over-the-top (in a non-laughable way) and kill it. For example, they did hire Dakota Fanning, after all, and one thing I really appreciated about this movie was that most of the cast you didn’t recognize as mainstream names. So I guess we’ll see.

I guess the real question for the next movie is this: theater or DVD? Will I be kicked out if I laughed out loud in every dramatic moment in the movie? Maybe it will be DVD release again.

PS – Oh, and I must mention that the glittery skin thing was terrible. I mean, barely laugh-worthy. It was just bad. Sorry.

I’ll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.

LIFE ON MARS: 1.17 “Life Is a Rock” (Series Finale)

I have to agree with Harvey Keitel: Jason O’Mara’s the one I’ll miss most of all. I’m in a terrible state of general depression because this show has ended. And because I’ve spent the last 12+ hours analyzing it since it ended.

I should probably warn you that if you haven’t watched quite yet, I’m now going to spill the spoiler ending that we all witnessed last night.

You have to take into account that this show as probably not meant to end this way. True, they might have been leading up to a “Spaceman” discovery (after all, there were a number of Mars rovers throughout the series), but they probably had to trim down a story arc into the last two episodes, so it probably wasn’t meant to be quite so sudden.

So what’d you think of the end? It was definitely a surprise. I knew they wouldn’t got the British route. That just seemed too…I can’t say predictable because many people don’t know what happens. But an American audience wouldn’t accept it, and if you looked it up on the Internet, you’ve just spoiled an ending. They had to be original.

But what’d you think? Certainly original. In the end, Sam “Spaceman” Tyler was indeed a spaceman–an astronaut in 2035. And you were there. And you and you. If you didn’t catch that Harvey Keitel’s quote above was from The Wizard of Oz, you’d certainly notice it then. In the end, Gene turned out to be Sam’s–2B’s–father. The rest were friends and coworkers. And Windy, as we guessed, was not real. She was a machine.

If you’re following The Wizard of Oz references, by the way, you might notice that the wind took Dorothy to Oz, much like Windy guided Sam wherever he went.

So in the end, it was kinda a happy ending, right? Life was but a dream. 2B took on the personal of a 2008 cop–sort of a virtual reality while the team headed to Mars (how appropriate)–but a meteor shower caused a glitch that made Sam go back to 1973 with his 2008 “memories.” Windy, our favorite figment of our imagination was actually the mechanism keeping Sam alive.

Here we got our answer. Just as Detective Morgan said. But then again, is it a happy ending? All that we knew was lost. The characters that were do strongly developed–the ones that we and Sam both grew to love–are not the ones left in the end. It wasn’t so much that he hopped back into 2008 and had to track down the elderly versions of his friends. And the option to stay in 1973 isn’t available either.

It all just disappeared. I shouldn’t be surprised, you know. There was always that option that he was in a coma in 2008, and he’d just wake up someday to find out it all wasn’t real. I should be happy to know that in some way, those people are still alive, even if they look different, have different jobs, talk differently, and are in 2035.

But they aren’t really alive, are they? The big moment–Annie and Sam’s kiss–disappeared. Sam’s in love with Annie, but Annie isn’t the one standing in front of him in 2035. Did those feelings disappear with the dream? It certainly didn’t seem like it.

So it almost feels that all that we saw develop was lost. I was watery-eyed when No Nuts was finally promoted. We knew it would happen, but it was certainly great nonetheless. And I’m sure as cheesy as it was, even the guys were happy to see them get together in the viewing audience.

But I guess in the end, Ray was kinda right. All that Sam was looking to–some being above that could help him get home–wasn’t there. It was all machinery that took a wrong turn. He lives on a rock.  That’s really the only stability he had.

I think maybe that interpretation was too dark, though. In the end, 2B could go after the Annie brunette, and they could have their happy ending. Or he could always go back to sleep in his 1973 fantasy. And the fact that his father is Gene, aka Major Tom, not a murderous that was killed in front of him, well, that just makes it all the better. And hey, he was right: You’ve gotta make a home wherever you land.

Honestly, I think I could write a treatise if I actually analyzed this show in its entirety. And maybe I will. There will be a DVD release. I especially want to reread Gulliver’s Travels and compare to the show. After all, everything in that show seems to have some double meaning, right?

I guess in the end it’s hard to see it go. Not just because we’re saying good-bye to a show that rightfully belongs on the air, but because we’re saying good-bye to characters we’ve seen grow and develop into their best. Characters that were never really there at all.

Give me Twilight or give me death

In the newest news of news today, looks like Drew Barrymore might be directing the third Twilight movie, Eclipse. No really. I read it here.

I’m not sure how this will make people feel. First, at least Twilight fans can go get super excited that the third movie is “in the works,” so to speak. I mean, if they’re looking for a director, it has to happen. And of course it does. I mean, I read all four books, I don’t think you can have the second one without the third right after it.

But let’s start a petition that we don’t make Breaking Dawn, ok? Cause that book…well, it just sucked.

But back to Barrymore. She’s not definitely. She’s just on the list. She’s closer to the top than say, me (probably because I’d close down production and then Twilight fans all over the world would clobber me to death–see how my headline fits now?).

To me, it sounds like this is all way too early to tell. I mean, her people are declining to comment, and the reason director #2 can’t be director #3, too, is because the movies are too close together and he’ll still be working on #2 when #3 is starting up. This article really sounds like we’re just trying to get people more interested in the third movie by sticking a celeb’s name on it. I mean, other than Robert Pattinson. (Look, five girls just fainted!)

Jest aside, I don’t know what I think about Drew Barrymore as a director. The article indicates that she’s making her debut with another movie, so she’s pretty early in the biz to move on to something so swoon-worthy. I don’t know.

I’m actually intrigued–I mean, she’s been an actress forever. So maybe it’d have an upside. I just don’t know whether it will come to fruition. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

The Little Tree Hill That Could

I wish I could find the worlds to explain the joy that fell over me today when I heard the news.

A. The CW is NOT folding like a beach chair on the back lot of a tailgating party after a loss.

B. One Tree Hill has been renewed.

Oh, little One Tree Hill, don’t you make me happy?

Last night I remember reading a wee (yet vague) spoiler about the finale of the show, and I remember wondering how that would fit in a series finale. I figured it was a series finale. After all, The CW is not doing well, and I don’t know what would save it. Plus, who thinks about One Tree Hill other than me?

Well, apparently that “finale” will be a season finale because it’s gotten an early pickup for next year, including five other shows: Smallville, Supernatural, 90210, Gossip Girl, and America’s Next Top Model. No, it’s true. Read it here.

Now, you know I’m thrilled. I’m a wee bit surprised, as OTH is not really the show of shows and it definitely isn’t one that will get The CW on the map. But then again, I read an article in Entertainment Weekly this year that basically said that it’s the underdog that stays just above the cancel line in ratings, but just below the radar that gives it the freedom to take risks. No one pays attention to it, so it stays and works. And no, ratings are going up.

I’ll take that! I like it!

As for the others, I’m not surprised about 90210 or Gossip Girl. Even Supernatural. But Smallville? This show is way done. It should have ended with Clark starting at the Daily Planet, which was in the season opener this year. How can it really keep going? Haven’t we lost Lex Luthor by now anyway?

And then there’s ANTM, which is no surprise, too. This show will never die. If The CW didn’t pick it up, we’d be seeing it on another network. I mean, look where all it’s syndicated! Someone would have picked it up. No problem.

So how about our little WB and UPN survivors? Four out of six are from the original networks. Only two are newbies. The big question is what they’ll do next. Reaper and Privileged are two favorites that aren’t renewed yet, and you know some people are sweating bullets. But it’s early yet. There’s still time. But will loyal followings bring the power to renew? Is there room in the schedule with the new shows they’re developing (like Melrose Place and the Gossip Girl spinoff–I cringe at both of those, by the way).

Only time will tell. Right now, this just makes me want to go sit in a corner with a blanket and read my Season Finale book, reliving the rise and fall of The WB and UPN. You know what? Maybe I will.

The Jonas Brothers and Twilight? Together at last?

It’s not enough to have Twilight. It’s not enough to have Dakota Fanning and Vanessa Hudgens wanting in on the franchise (not including the uglier of the girls on 90210), but now the JoBros want a shot.

The Jonas Brothers want to have a chunk of the Twilight fame. For the second movie, New Moon, the JoBros would like to have a song on the soundtrack.

Now, I never saw the first movie. I’ve read the books. For some reason, I just naturally assumed that the music in the movie was more instrumental and dark than Disney pop. But maybe I’m wrong. I never saw it.

You know who else has never seen it? The Jonas Brothers.

Apparently, they want to. I wonder if they’ve listened to the soundtrack. I guess the movie does have vocal artists on it (including Robert Pattinson?), but with artists like Collective Soul, Iron & Wine, and Linkin Park, somehow the Jonas Brothers just don’t fit.

Maybe I’m wrong. Again, I haven’t seen the film. Maybe girls will explode to see the JoBros alongside Twilight. All I can say is this: If they do work together, and they all attend the premiere in LA, I bet I can hear those screams from Boston.

Recap Review: Faith in Buffy Season 4

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: 4.15 “This Year’s Girl”
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: 4.16 “Who Are You?”

In honor of the premiere of Dollhouse on Friday, I thought I’d post some Recap Reviews featuring our favorite Eliza Dushku shows and episodes. First up, Faith of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I know I should have started with season 3, but the Faith appearances in season 4 of Buffy and season 1 of Angel are just so thrilling that I thought I’d be sure to get these in (yes, Angel appearances are coming). So I’m starting with this two-parter. (Plus, I haven’t decided which season 3 episodes to mention yet.)

Having not seen these episodes in a while, I forgot about some of the great features of the episode–like all the “dreams” while Faith was in her coma. Especially when she mentions that “lil sis” is on her way in–one of the two flashes when Faith and Buffy have a conversation foreshadowing the upcoming appearance of Dawn. Man, Joss is good.

But really, I’m in it for the fight scenes. There’s something about Faith/Buffy fight scenes that are just awesome. I love me some Buffy, but honestly, I think Faith might be the better fighter. Even without secretive toys from the late mayor.

And man, that cliffhanger: “Five by five.”

I’ve seen this episode and knew what was going to happen, but that realization moment still gives me goosebumps.

And then the fact that Tara was the first to notice. What can that mean? The one person who has never seen Buffy or met Buffy can see the truth before the people who trust her the most. Isn’t that crazy? While I know this post is supposed to be about a certain other powerful girl, I like this interesting fact about Tara. A slight deepening of her character.

But really, about Faith. She’s so…evil. Yet, why do I love her so much? Perhaps it’s because we know she turns it around. Perhaps it’s because she’s so relatable to Angel, who we also love. Perhaps it’s just because she’s a badass.

These episodes really show her internal struggles, though, which might give us a little insight to that. She’s evil–after Buffy’s blood (though who could blame her, really, after Buffy sends her into a coma and kills her father-like figure). But then again, she can’t quite let her sense of slayer duty go. She had a free ride out of town, taking the flight she was prepped for, but left after seeing the news report about the church slaughter. She also doesn’t seem to know how to react when she saves the woman’s life outside the Bronze, and the woman thanks her. It was jarring. A reward for doing something good.

I also enjoy that watching Buffy in Faith’s body gives us a great contrast. The fact that she lets the Councilman go–she doesn’t kill him, when the real Faith would. We know it’s Buffy, but just seeing it–witnessing it–allows us to counter how the real Buffy acts versus the Faith Buffy, and how the real Faith acts versus how she’s acting in Buffy’s body. It’s walking a mile in each other’s shoes and literally changing the person inside.

And you can’t deny what Faith is showing us in the end: Faith’s fight with Buffy at the end of “Who Are You?” leaves her screaming that she’s a murderous bitch. Is she talking to Buffy, or is she really just talking to herself? I certainly know my take on it–it’s all about identifying the murderous bitch when she looks at her own true face in the fight.

It definitely gives us a window into something much more complicated than just the good girl turned bad and staying that way. Nothing’s that easy.  I feel like I need to flip over to chapter one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale because they can sum this up in much better words than I can. I guess in the end, I just like Faith and even though she’s a terror here, there’s something more that keeps us watching.