2010 Awards, Part 1

Ok, guys, we’re nearing 2011. That means it’s time to honor those best and worsts of 2010. With the help our readers, I present to you the first part of the 2010 Awards here on Raked.

As you can see, we’ve got a good mix of reader nominations (marked by an asterisk*) and my own. For the most part, I tried to keep the reader’s reasoning with the award, but if nothing was there (or if I have my own thoughts), I did add a little myself. Keep in mind that this is just for 2010, shows that aired during that time period. Unfortunately, that put some good shows out of the running that might’ve ended before the cutoff last year–but it also gave us a good selection of bad shows to destroy, too.

So without further ado…

The 2010 Awards!
Part 1

Best Use of an Underused Character: Caroline, The Vampire Diaries. Caroline was a pathetic, superficial, shallow sidekick in last season’s Vampire Diaries. Now she’s a badass vampire who’s gained confidence–and screen time. Definitely worth the transition.

* Best Animation: Community’s stop motion Christmas special. Can’t argue with this reader’s pick. A mixing of humbugs, humor, song, and creativity provided us with one great holiday treat.

* Best Leave of Absence: Olivia Wilde, House. I’ll leave this explanation to our reader: “I call this the best because she is left to do some awesome scifi movies [Tron Legacy, Cowboys and Aliens, Now aka im.mortal], and also it allowed Amber Tamblyn to take her spot for a bit.” As for me, I second this, if only to get Amber Tamblyn back on TV.

Best Badass I Should Be Watching: Nikita, Nikita. I’ve heard good things, and the commercials are really tempting. Why am I not watching? I have no reason.

* Best Zombies: The Walking Dead. A reader’s pick, and to be fair, I can’t help but agree. But in the interest of complete transparency, I also don’t know what other shows had zombies this year. 😉

* Best Guest Star: Gwyneth Paltrow, Glee. As much as I’m tired of hearing about her, I can’t deny that people loved Gwyneth on Glee.

Read more awards after the jump! Continue reading

Top 10 Character Deaths of 2010

This one was rough. It really made me realize that I’m not nearly watching enough TV. There were years ago when I could list ten TV deaths in an instant. This one took thought, especially when you considered that they had to have some significance. How do you define significance? Well, that’s what you’ll have to read below to see.

Note to readers: Please consider that this will include spoilers if you’re not caught up on the most recent seasons or episodes of your recent shows. So if you want to skip out, I’d stop reading now. (Note, look up. If you’re catching up on one of the series above, I’d stop reading.)

So I now present you with the Top 10 Character Deaths of 2010. I had to get some help from JC on this one. Consider this my grateful shoutout.

Top 10 Character Deaths of 2010
(in no particular order)

1. Rita, Dexter. As someone that was a late-comer to Dexter, it was pretty jarring coming across the internet the day after Rita was found dead in a bathtub, with her son crying on the floor, sitting in her own blood. The fans were going crazy, and even I had to jump ahead and watch the horrifying clip. It was a moment full of horror and feeling–the latter one being a bit of a surprise in the world of Dexter.

2. Amy, The Walking Dead. In a show about the zombie apocalypse, it only makes sense that one of the characters will eventually get eaten by zombies. Sure, I should have seen it coming, considering that the episode this death takes place in opened with an extended scene showing Amy and Andrea sharing childhood memories of their parents. Of course one of them was about to bite the dust! But anyway, the episode itself hyped us up for a reapperance by the rampaging, one-handed Merle. Instead, zombies suddenly attack the camp, and Amy can barely get out the phrase, “We’re all out of toilet paper!” before a bloodthirsty shambler quite graphically bites a football-sized chunk of flesh out of her neck. It was ugly. She dies in her sisters arms, and is later shot through the head by said sister as she begins to re-awaken as a zombie. Ouch.

3. Topher, Dollhouse. Dollhouse barely made it into 2010, but it sure got its own body count. Topher was certainly one that stood out. The poor guy went crazy after bringing about the “Brainpocalypse,” only to save the world in the end. We all knew it would happen, as he walked the device to Adelle’s office, but we had that glimmer of hope–comfort?–as he turned to the wall to see all the faces already lost. Then BAM. He was gone.

Read more after the break! Continue reading

Thursday Open Thread: Favorite Whedon Couple

I miss having Joss Whedon shows on TV, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Buffy. So with that in mind, I ask you:

Out of all of Joss’ shows, who is your favorite Whedon couple?

There are no rules here. These can be couples that were real (i.e., Buffy and Angel) or unrequited (i.e., Buffy and Xander). It can be from TV or even from the web (Dr. Horrible, anyone?).  Really, this is just my time to see the kind of shows you liked from Joss and the characters you enjoyed as well.

Personally, I think Simon and Kaylee from Firefly were cute, but the connection between Sierra and Victor in Dollhouse was great, too. I think I’ll lean toward Simon and Kaylee, though, just because the hit and miss flirting was so fun to watch on the series.

What about you?

image from twevilmonks.org

I don’t normally beg on Raked, but please don’t anyone say Willow and Kennedy. Man, I hate Kennedy.

Two things I’m watching this week

In case you’re tired of the same ol’, same ol’, this week has some brand new things you can check out–and trust me, I will be.

First thing’s first, we’ve got a brand-new One Tree Hill tonight to start us off with the final four episodes of the season. Since this show’s on the bubble and this might be your last chance to watch, I’d highly suggest you do so–and then let the CW know about it. (Twitter’s always a great way to do that.)

image from poptower.com

Now sure, this show is certainly one of the most over-the-top series on TV (excluding some reality shows), but the promo certainly is tantalizing. Come on, Skills punching Mouth for kissing his (ex?) girlfriend (could this be what sends Antwon Tanner to jail Skills away for good?), a psycho tennis player wanting to steal Clay from Quinn…and that’s just the new stuff! I’m looking forward to it; you should, too.

Ok, so that’s an oldie but goody, but what if you want something really new? A premiere, perhaps? Well, how about Happy Town, the newest drama from ABC that premieres this Wednesday at 10/9c?

image from about.com

Now, if you haven’t heard the basic premise, don’t let the name deceive you. This town has seen a fair bit of darkness, including a series of unsolved kidnappings years before. When a new crime hits the town, everyone’s out to find out who the illusive “Magic Man” is.

I can’t wait to see this one. It’s just dark enough to pique my interest, and it’s got a great cast to boot! I’ll follow Amy Acker anywhere, really, with or without her Dollhouse scars. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

So what do you think? Is there anything else you’re planning on watching this week? Other than the new episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, of course, but I figure that’s a given. Haha.

Thursday Open Thread: All the hype

I’m one of those really annoying people where when there’s a ton of hype behind something–say, a movie or a book–I try to stay away from it. I don’t want to be part of the crowd. Of course, then I just watch a lot of TV.

But TV isn’t really hype-free. So here’s my question:

Does hype work? Do you love it? Hate it? Do hyped-up things live up to expectations?

With the recent Madonna episode of Glee (which I didn’t watch), it seems like there’s major Glee hype everywhere, and it’s really questionable as to whether the show lives up to it. And you’d think that with it being the last season of Lost, the hype would continue, but I feel like less and less people are discussing Lost now that it’s up against Glee (not to say there aren’t events going all around Facebook now for Lost finale parties). There certainly was a mad storm when it first started, though. How did it hold up?

Personally, I hate hype, and generally, it doesn’t live up to expectations. Look at Dollhouse.  Heck, look at Joss Whedon? You know I’m a huge Joss fan, but is the Whedon hype getting out of control? You’ve got him directing Glee and The Avengers. What’s next? Why is he everywhere? And I’m one that likes him! I almost want him in limited quantities to assure a better product (er, show).

Same with Neil Patrick Harris. The Neil Patrick Harris hype is killing How I Met Your Mother because they’re focusing more on Barney than anything else. Is hype really turning me against things that I like?

What’s a girl (or guy) to do? Tell me your thoughts on hype–and whether you think I’m overreacting–in the comments.

image from dose.ca

Those innocent smiles…

Dollhouse: When the end is here

Raked finally processed the finale, enough to write about it.

DOLLHOUSE:  2.13 “Epitaph Two: The Return”

I think you really have to wonder what’s going to happen as you step into the end of another Whedon series, especially when you take the leap ten years ahead, and you’re in a post-apocalyptic world of sorts–a world based on an episode that wasn’t even aired.

I’ve got to feel bad for anyone who didn’t watch “Epitaph One.” You had to have been pretty lost. Sure, you got the general idea of what happened, but who are Zone and Mag? Who is this little girl? (By the way, SO glad we got to see Zone develop as a character.)

For the rest of us, it was great. I’m not sure how I missed the memo that Felicia Day would be returning to Dollhouse, but it was worth it. Even if she lost her legs in the process.

I have to admit, Whedon knows how to create a sense of surprise. The two main deaths of the episode were, of course, Ballard and Topher. I don’t know why I didn’t see Ballard’s death coming after his conversation with Echo, but maybe that was because I was lost in Mag’s pain. The shock of having her legs hole-punched was enough. You had that moment where you thought nothing else could happen worse–and then you had Ballard.

Meanwhile, we all knew that Topher was going to die when he went up to Adelle’s office. So why was it such a surprise? We had no idea that he’d completed the device, so when he took that moment to look at the photos, we really all just paused and took a moment. His final, “Hm,” was the last thing we ever heard.

Joss sure knows how to play with a viewer’s emotions.

But I must say, the most intriguing part of this episode was the techies. Seeing Victor with his teched out face, seeing him use the tech to change the language he speaks…it was so interesting. Almost tempting. You could see how it they could have gotten hooked on the tech. Even I thought how awesome it must’ve been to have any language or knowledge easily put into your head.

And how do you think this all started? Well, I guess technically we’ll never know, but it sure made me wonder whether it all started with the Victor upgrade that we saw in “Hollow Men.” If we could upgrade Victor’s fighting skills, why not his knowledge? Why not his language? Why not everything? After all, Echo is holding all sorts of specialties in her head. Why not everyone else?

I loved that aspect of the episode. It really made you realize that in this world that was crumbling apart, it wasn’t just Rossum that was taking over the tech. It could be in anyone’s hands.

And by the way, Rossum: Was it not creepy to see Harding choosing the next body he could abuse? “Stretch out”? Uggh, just made me shiver.

Overall, it was a very powerful finale. I’m glad we really got to see the end–and the end of the end–even if we did say good-bye to two of our favorite characters. I loved how we saw Adelle become the heartfelt figure she always had in her, and Sierra finally got a happy ending. And while, true, it was a little over the top, I liked that Ballard and Echo got their happy ending, even if it was only in her head, especially since it was a final gift form Alpha.

I think I could have watched the apocalyptic episodes over and over–a series on its own, really. I guess that just shows us how much a show like this really had. And yet, it lived a life so short.

Dollhouse: Giving back

KT is sorry to see the show go, but loved its finale.  Raked will be posting her thoughts on the episode later today.

DOLLHOUSE:  2.13 “Epitaph Two: The Return”

I had a few guesses about what we’d see in this episode, both as a sequal to “Epitaph One” and as a series finale — but I was mostly wrong.  “Epitaph Two” covered so much more than I expected.”  (Although, I still don’t really understand why Mag, Zone, and Caroline were climbing to the roof at the end of “Epitaph One.”)

One thing I never wondered about “Epitaph One” was what had happened to Rossum — with the streets of LA looking all Terminator, I guess I figured they would be under the rubble, too.  But as Boyd pointed out in “The Hollow Men,” naturally Rossum would prepare for that sort of hell.  Tuscon’s transformation into Neuropolis, led by Ambrose and Harding was a neat twist, and certainly one I enjoyed.  The chance that Paul and Echo happened to be there just when Mag, Zone, and Caroline were captured bordered on being too convenient, but it was fun anyway.

On the other hand, I expected that there would be more emphasis on the vaccine against imprinting — something mentioned in “Epitaph One” and dealt with in “The Hollow Men.”  I pictured Echo being forced to harvest her own spinal fluid in order to vaccinate her friends.  And I suppose she probably did, in the unseen years, but “Epitaph Two” had higher ambitions.  At the end of “One,” three people climbed into the light; at the end of “Two,” Topher returned light and reason to the world.

In the end, the most nuanced character arc, beginning to end, belonged to Topher.  Despite his early cheerful amorality, he took care with the Claire Saunders imprint so that their difference of opinion would keep actives safer.  His conscience started to prickle, leading to Priya’s cover-up and Tony’s rescue, and a front row seat for the brainpocalypse have led to his madness in “Epitaph One” and sacrifice in “Epitaph Two.”  Oh, Topher.

Alpha’s redemption on the other hand, is a surprise twist, with a ten years’s blank to fill in as we choose.  I’m sure he’s had many adventures.

It may have been helped along by the presence of a non-psychopathic Alpha, but Victor and Sierra were giving me some major Wash-and-Zoe vibes — just something emotionally real about them, despite their very unreal scenerio and history.  I knew, immediately, that the boy would be their son, and I’m glad they were all standing at the end.  Priya’s had enough tragedy — she deserves a chance for love and family and happiness.

I guess we all knew that someone would fall, though, and in Whedon’s worlds — as in ours — not every death is meaningful.  This time it was Paul who didn’t make it through, and the Echo/Priya scene in which a conversation about Victor suddenly becomes a conversation about Paul was beautifully done.  Echo’s reunion with him inside her own head raises some odd questions about how her various personalities can interact, but regardless of how that works, there’s a poetic beauty about Alpha leaving the Paul wedge for Echo to find.  The package itself looked just like the envelopes he sent Paul at the beginning of the series — the ones with hints about Caroline.  Now, despite his own love for Echo and his anger in “A Love Supreme,” Alpha gives Echo the man she loves.

But even with the mass un-wiping, there’s plenty of room to wonder how humanity comes back from the brink (and heck, there’s the potential for a whole new series right there).  Adelle has her work cut out for her.  But at last, she can tell herself that she is helping people — and it won’t be just a rationalization.

A Dollhouse Retrospective

KT takes a moment to look back.

As you’ve probably noticed, we’re big Dollhouse fans here at Raked, and I’ll be the first to admit that the show has taken up a large enough chunk of real estate in my imagination that it’s easy to forget that the show premiered less than a year ago.  Remember this?  Aww, how cute and excited we were.  And I know I’m waiting with baited breath for tonight’s series finale.

As Dollhouse fans, you could say we’ve had a rocky time of it.  Certainly the show hasn’t been perfect, and we’ve met a compelling bunch of character who are leaving all too soon.  So before we get our last look at the Dollhouse’s future in “Epitaph Two,” let’s take a moment to look back at our Year of the Dollhouse.

There were moments of glory.  Topher’s brand of Joss-speak has been a joy to chuckle over.  His awkward romance with Bennett was so sweet and his birthday party with Sierra in “Haunted” was probably the silliest, yet most poignant sequence the series has offered.

Echo was not often a highlight for me in season 1, but I very much enjoyed her in “Spy in the House of Love.”   She had developed enough self-awareness to offer her services to Topher, and her investigations as Sherlock Echo were cleverly written.  And I’ve just loved Echo since about “Meet Jane Doe” — she’s become deep and soulful as well as badass.

A definite highlight: Enver Gjokaj and his masterful ability to slip in and out of a character.  I will definitely be interested in his next projects.

And yet, a  person always has some nitpicks.  For me, the glimpses of Caroline in season 1 don’t always seem like the same person as the Caroline we seen in season 2.  Boyd’s speechifying scene with Adelle, Topher, and Echo in “The Hollow Men,” struck me as… well, hollow.  And there’s something distressing about the way the end of season 2 has become a massive effort to prevent “Epitaph One” — to keep the tech from getting out and being abused — when part of the point of the show is that the tech is already being abused right there in the Dollhouse.  Adelle’s rationale about helping people is also hollow.  Also, despite what I said earlier about Topher’s Joss-speak: “man reaction.”  Just not a huge fan of that one.

Lastly (pending, of course, the contents of “Epitaph Two”), there are some things I’ll always wonder:

If everyone in the Dollhouse has compromised morals, what did Adelle do?  Or sweet little Ivy?

Who was Whiskey’s original self?

What was the full story on Boyd, really?  Season 1 gave us all those “ex-cop” hints, and clearly he’s got the skills (not to mention the resources to cover up Nolan’s murder).  But now he founded Rossum in the early ‘90s with Clyde Randolph?  Something’s missing from this puzzle.

All that of course only scratches the surface!  What are some of your highlights, nitpicks, and burning questions?

One season for Whedon?

With the end of Dollhouse looming, commenter CS lent us his thoughts on Joss Whedon–past, present, and future–for a Raked guest post.

And so this Friday, as we say farewell to all of our friends at the Dollhouse, it’s time to take a look back and revisit Joss Whedon’s television career. And, as self-proclaimed fans, to suck it up and admit to ourselves that maybe Joss’s creations aren’t built as well for TV as we tend to think they are. Now I’m not about to start bashing Whedon, as I’m a genuine fan of his work. In my opinion, the four series he’s created have been among the best on TV.

But let’s take an unbiased and complete look at his run on TV thus far: two successes followed by two premature cancellations. Which of these pairs is the exception to the Whedon rule? As fans, we all want to say it’s the cancellations and that given another chance, Whedon will prove the naysayers wrong. But maybe it’s not that he’s had a bad run of luck lately, so much as he had a run of good luck at the beginning. Not that Buffy and Angel didn’t deserve their success. They did. But both these shows had some help starting out. Due to its movie beginnings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was somewhat of a household name before it began. It was also a show about teens on a fairly new network that had just begun building its schedule around teen shows. Not to mention that it debuted at a time when networks were more prone to give a show a chance to build an audience. As for Angel, it was a spin-off of a very successful show with a strong and loyal fan base. It brought that audience with it and kept them by not straying too far from its monster hunting roots.

Firefly and Dollhouse didn’t have these same advantages. Whedon’s name, of course, brought in the faithful, but new viewers were tougher to find. Neither show was given a real chance to develop an audience, and we now have to come to terms with the idea that Whedon isn’t going to get a fair chance at that from the networks. Firefly had 14 episodes televised out of order. Dollhouse had a midseason start, a renewal that admittedly occurred out of fear of fan retaliation, and an early cancellation resulting in what could be considered a rush to the finale.

So we ask, how can Whedon continue to present his ideas on TV and still have everything he wants told? As a creator or as fans, we all just want a complete story, right? No missing parts. No unanswered questions. But when networks have no patience and no faith, how can this be accomplished?

Here’s my thought: Maybe Joss needs to begin creating and developing his series more in the vein of certain anime series, such as Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo, selling to networks what would be a complete single season series. Within that single season you’d get a complete story, beginning to definite end, with no intent for follow-ups (except potentially an occasional movie or miniseries). There’d still be fan hype, a built in cult following, and big DVD sales based on Whedon’s involvement. Both network and fans would benefit from a more compact and concentrated series with more quickly paced plot development and fewer but higher quality filler episodes. Many series hold off or space out certain events because they are plotting later seasons as they write the current one. There’s no need to do that when you know your series will be completed by episode 22. Consider if Dollhouse had employed this idea. If the series had been intended to only last one full season, we’d still have the same beginning and same end to the series, but the show likely would’ve been stronger with better planning and pacing, while still having approximately the same number of episodes. The standout episodes would still stand out, but each episode on average would quite possibly be of higher quality.

The argument still remains, of course, that a network would still attempt to cancel a show at midseason. But I’d like to imagine they’d think twice knowing the show would be gone at the end of the season anyways, with its story finished and ready for DVD sales. But maybe that’s just me being hopeful.

Your thoughts?

Dollhouse: Do you trust me?

KT is anxiously awaiting the Jan. 29 finale!

DOLLHOUSE:  2.12 “The Hollow Men”

After the huge reveal at the end of “Getting Closer,” I enjoyed the dramatic irony of knowing that the other characters shouldn’t be talking to Boyd the way they were.  In particular, Topher’s explanation in the corridor was a great scene.

I loved that Whiskey showed up again, this time as Clyde, and I was amused by the way the episode was completely matter of fact about having put a man’s personality in a woman’s body.  Those jokes were funny when Victor was Kiki, but they would have been a distraction here.

After Whiskey-Clyde teased Adelle about how much the founder was looking forward to introducing himself, I did think the big scene with Boyd’s unveilling was a little underwhelming.  Anti-climactic, perhaps, in the way that Echo shouted it out — but then perhaps the way I expected to see it would have been too similar to last week’s reveal.

As it was, it was a weird scene — it just felt off to me somehow.  And Boyd’s psychology still remains largely unexplained.  I wanted more discussion of why he and Clyde thought that starting the Rossum juggernaut was a good idea in the first place, and what contact or control he has with suits like Mr. Ambrose.  At this point, he seems to see the tech as almost a living thing, in the sense that it’s can no longer be halted by anybody (or so he believes, and as “Epitaph One” would support).  Echo is his project because of her ability to resist and control imprints.

Topher and Adelle are clearly growing closer again in their shared guilt.  Topher is the single-handed architect of tech that will create a world of “hollow men” — a title pulled from a T.S. Eliot poem about (to over-simplify things) death.

And now we know what it is that happened to November.  Poor Paul.  Poor Mellie.

(Tangent here:  I love the way Miracle Laurie has adopted a fan’s portmanteau and is calling her character Melvemberline — but I can’t come up with anything that works for Claire, Whiskey, and Clyde.  Grr, argh.)

The fight between Echo and Whiskey-Clyde was totally a Battle of the Badass Whedon Brunettes.  We were only missing Summer Glau.  (There’s some kind of Charlie’s Angels-type trio waiting to happen right there, don’t you think?  Maybe that’ll be part of River Tam Beats Up Everyone.)

Boyd’s wipe and final fate were gripping, though I was a little distracted by wondering what the round machine that looked like an arcade game was supposed to be and why it was in the server room.

And though Caroline got her explosion, clearly the brainpocalypse happened anyway.  I figure, if Adelle had paper files on Bennett and Caroline well before she met either one, Rossum has some serious redundancy in place.  Taking down the servers in Tucson just wasn’t enough.

And now I’m wild for an explanation of the latter parts of “Epitaph One.”  Why do we see Whiskey back in the Dollhouse as Claire Saunders, but eventually as a deteriorating Whiskey?  Why do Priya and Tony seem not to be in love anymore?  What have Echo and Paul been up to when they break back into the walled-up ‘House?  Does Echo actually shoot Adelle?  Why does child’s-body-Caroline lead Mag and Zone up to the roof, and where do they go from there?