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.

Glee: I sound like someone put tap shoes on a horse.

KT dreams for more episodes like this one.

GLEE:  1.19 “Dream On”

Now that’s more like it.  That was Glee at its best.

Much has been made of the fact that Joss Whedon was behind the camera for this episode, and I’m confident he did contribute to making this a good episode, but I think the writers deserve a big round of applause, too.  Joss got good material to work with.   He also got Neil Patrick Harris as the cynical and conflicted Brian Ryan, Will’s high school nemesis.

The episode got itself off to a good start by fully committing to a wonderful flashback to Will and Brian as teenagers.  It only lasts a minute or so, but it’s great.  Everyone looks like they walked straight out of Saved By the Bell, while NPH and Matthew Morrison are such good actors that they’re really believable as their awkward, younger selves.

Some of Glee’s usual flip-floppiness sneaks into the Brian Ryan plot.  It’s kind of like plucking flower petals and saying “He’ll cut the club.  He won’t cut the club.  He’ll cut the club…” which makes me roll my eyes a little.  Happily there was plenty of other good stuff to make up for it.  For one thing, these two can really rock a duet.

If Brian Ryan ever comes back, I hope he gets to interact more with Sue, because their scene was a hoot and a half.  And yet, they actually have a real, meaningful conversation lamenting the real world issues of underfunding in the arts and under-appreciation of physical education.  Sue even looks like a competent educator, which is nice, for a change.

Meanwhile, Artie and Tina actually got a storyline!  And although it’d be nice if Artie could get a plot that didn’t need to revolve around his disability, this one was really nice as far as tone and pacing.  The sweet, friendly relationship between Artie and Tina was charming, as was her eagerness to be helpful and supportive.  The idea of putting taps on his wheels was pretty clever, even if it didn’t work out; likewise it was sweet of her to dig up research on spinal injuries, even though those studies couldn’t directly help him any time soon.  Emma only had the one scene in this episode, but I really liked that (A) it was with someone other than Will, just for variety, and (B) that we got to see her doing her job well, which we often don’t.  Really lovely stuff.

And the dancing!  Even though it was all in Artie’s imagination, it was great to see Kevin McHale get a chance to get up and dance.  The big “Safety Dance” flash mob was a lot of fun, and I liked the way we occasionally cut to camera views that mimicked people’s cell phone cameras.  I also loved that there was tap dancing this week, and I liked it even more because who would have guessed Tina would be a tap dancer?  Awesome.

[After the jump, Rachel’s diva tendencies make so much more sense.] Continue reading

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…

Good news, genre fans!

image courtesy ABC

Call it coincidence if you like, but my theory is that the stars have aligned for sci-fi and fantasy to return to the airwaves.  After long hiatuses, we’re about to see the return of V, Merlin, and Doctor Who.

V, off the air since November, returns under the direction of a new showrunner.  Maureen Ryan has had great coverage the last few days, so let me just point you over to her.  I shared her reservations about the show’s first four episodes last fall (here are my posts if you want to relive the snark), but she actually has me excited for V‘s return tonight.  Cool!

Merlin‘s first season aired on NBC last summer, but since the peacock network seems incapable of recognizing anything good these days, they’ve given it up — season two begins this Friday on SyFy.  The show is hardly the Arthurian legend you grew up with, but I think it’s good fun and I’m definitely ready for more.

Doctor Who returns this Saturday if you’re in the UK (or, you know, use bit torrent).  In the US, the TARDIS will arrive two weeks later: April 17 on BBC America.  Expect new stars and new writers, but the same old lovably insane alien time traveler.  After the generally disappointing specials we got last year instead of a regular season, this has me very excited.

Honorable mention (shows for nerds, shows about nerds — it fits, right?):  Glee comes back April 13!  I don’t love that both Glee and V have moved to Tuesday nights, but there we are.  I’ve heard all sorts of exciting hints about what’s to come — an all Madonna episode, Idina Menzel guest starring, Neil Patrick Harris guest starring, Joss Whedon directing — so I’m hoping that this show has shed the Baby Drama and is ready to shoot for the stars.

And a last note, genre fans:  I don’t cover Castle because it would turn into this big list of “hey, that bit was funny, and this thing was really clever” (um, sort of the way my How I Met Your Mother posts do) but I do love a good mystery from time to time.  Last night’s solution to the cliffhanger was great… but did you catch the Firefly reference near the end?

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.