A Belated Open Thread: How’s Finale Season Been to You?

Was yesterday Thursday? Oops. I guess I missed that. Not entirely, mind you. I watched my three episodes of Community and even made sure to find out who died on Grey’s Anatomy (it’s not a spoiler when the promo tells you someone will). I guess I’m just way too wrapped up in all the finale madness. Speaking of…

How have you  been liking the finales of you favorite shows so far?

Ok, ok, not every show has ended yet. Revenge finishes up next week, for example (I’m so excited). But many of our favorite shows have, and I want to know your thoughts.

Personally, I’ve been rather pleased. Sure, I might not agree with writer KT on Once Upon a Time, and I didn’t watch the Castle finale that everyone seems to be talking about. And yeah, I might have seen How I Met Your Mother‘s ending coming a mile away.

But ultimately, I’ve really been enjoying them. Last night’s Community fest was great, even if the season finale felt more like a series finale. Smash was just a ton of fun with original music to boot (and it gave me goosebumps). Oh, and don’t get me started on Vampire Diaries. That episode was pure fantastic, making me gasp, cry, and squint at the TV in disbelief (and/or suspicion) all at the same time. Completely worth it!

Really, I’ve been treated pretty well this finale season. What about you?

 

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Once Upon a Time: True Love and Purple Fog

ONCE UPON A TIME: 1.22 “A Land Without Magic”

KT is glad we got some happy endings with our cliffhangers.

I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but despite not one but two dragon fights, that actually felt fairly tame.  Henry, of course, was never really in any danger.

What I wasn’t sure of was how bold the writers were willing to be about changing the basic premise of the show (and we’ll have to wait until fall to get the full answer).  Henry has been a bit of a broken record all season about breaking the curse, to the point where the poor kid developed suicidal tendencies in order to make something happen.  The idea of getting a second season of trying to break the curse certainly seemed like a tedious proposition to me, so I’m glad that’s not what they’re doing.

The question is, what are we getting?  Fairy tale characters having to deal with our world, only now they all know who they are?  Fairy tale characters dealing with our world, only now they all know who they are and have magic?  Or is Mr. Gold’s roiling purple fog going to change Storybrook in an even more fundamental way?  Will it send them all home?

(Tangent:  I get that going home is a strong draw.  But after living in the modern world with, say, a modern hospital, would you really want to go back?  Magic is great, but if the price of magic is so very high, you wouldn’t want to strike that bargain every time you need an antibiotic, would you?)

I got it:  Maybe season two is the inverse of season one.  It’s set in fairy tale land, and everyone knows who they are except Henry and Emma.  Er, yeah.

Anyway, all we can do is guess until fall.  So let’s talk about the episode for a minute:

  • Regina’s confirmation to Emma that yes, it’s all true—a hurried moment in the hospital supply room—was surprisingly anticlimactic.  At least that avoids some of the usual cliches.
  • I can’t decide how to feel about Emma waking Henry with “true love’s kiss.”  On the one hand, I’m not about to suggest that a mother’s love isn’t a strong, incredible bond (and how appropriate for this to air on Mother’s Day, no?).  On the other hand, I don’t remember the show ever talking about “true love” as anything other than romantic love, which makes this feel vaguely incestuous and icky.  On the other other hand, Emma’s attachment to Henry has been a key aspect of her character development all season, so then this becomes the culmination of that arc.
  • Mr. Gold continues to be the show’s true puppet master, generally two steps ahead of even Regina.
  • On the other hand, probably the whole audience was yelling at Emma that no one ever in the history of pop culture has ever said “Here, throw it up to me and then I’ll help you up,” and not been double-crossing the poor schmuck in the hole.
  • This is a show that loves its villains.  Gold is one of the most interesting people around, and there continues to be altogether too much focus on Regina’s personal losses to simply hate her.  I almost wonder if, down the road, she’ll just be one more resident of Storybrook with a dark, troubled past full of unfortunate choices.

What did you think?  And what do you think the purple fog will reveal?

Once Upon a Time: How do you solve a problem like Regina?

ONCE UPON A TIME: 1.21 “An Apple as Red as Blood”

KT thinks Regina’s life would have turned out so differently if Jiminy Cricket had gone to visit once in a while. 

In a fairy tale, we know that good it supposed to triumph over evil—that’s what we’ve been rooting for all along here.  But exactly what form do we expect that to take, and what will be the cost?  That what we’re starting to explore in this week’s episode, and to varying degrees, the last several.

Regina’s dream sequence—in which she finds a mob of furious townspeople on her doorstep—got me thinking.  The scene is obviously disturbing to Regina, but it’s also clearly supposed to be disturbing to those of us who don’t necessarily sympathize with her.  Seeing the townsfolk gang up on her like this isn’t noble or heroic or any of the things their victory is supposed to be.  We don’t want to see them resort to this.  But it made me sit back and say, Wait. I’m not rooting for Regina!

The episode seemed to want us to question that, however.  Revisiting the stables—and the stable boy’s grave with it’s big red heart—called back the tragedies of Regina’s youth that we were shown a few episodes ago. Similarly, Emma’s attempt to leave town with Henry brings out Regina’s maternal side with a depth that we don’t always see.  Although she is the Evil Queen, she’s also a hard working single mom—and though she was playing David’s heartstrings a little obviously during the lasagna dinner, it’s more than just a façade.  She’s also the adoptive parent who hates the idea that the birthmother has any claim (emotional, if not legal) on her son. After so many episodes of smirking nefariously, Regina is threatening to become a three-dimensional character.

I’ll almost be sorry to see Regina go down.  (…Almost. Evil queen is still pretty evil, yo.)

What do you think we’ll get in the season finale this weekend?  My bet is on two parts resolution, one part cliffhanger, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone will remember who they really are—but that’s all I’ve got.  What about you?

Raked TV Madness! The Elite Eight!

Wow. I’m pleased to say that we got some new blood in the competition, with brand-new voters jumping in with their picks both in the comments and on Twitter. Let’s keep that momentum going into the next round — The Elite Eight!

There were some definite surprises in the last round. Awake fans rallied once again to beat out Justified  by a large margin (they’re currently the ones to beat, folks), but Castle overtook Bones with a similar large number of votes. In a closer race, Community took out its 8:00 competitor Big Bang Theory, and with a mere one vote lead, Happy Endings overpowered Emmy-winning Modern Family.

Once Upon a Time easily beat Supernatural, and I was pleased to see that, while in close competition, Fringe took the lead against The Walking Dead and is moving on to the next round. Mad Men easily grabbed the attention of viewers over Boardwalk Empire, but probably the biggest surprise in the competition was Parenthood‘s defeat of Downton Abbey.

Now it’s time to choose the sole survivor for each division. On to the Elite Eight!
(Click for a larger image.)

For those of you who don’t have expert vision or magnifying glasses, here’s the breakdown.

Comedies:
Happy Endings vs. Community

Procedurals:
Castle vs. Awake

Supernatural/Fantasy:
Once Upon a Time vs. Fringe

Dramas:
Parenthood vs. Mad Men

We’re almost to the Final Four! Which one of these shows will move on to the next round? Who will be the division winner? Let me know your votes in the comments, send me an email, or drop me a line on Twitter. And spread the word. If we’ve learned anything from these winners, those with the most fans voting are the ones that move on!

You’ve only got two days to vote! The Final Four will be up on Wednesday!

This round has now ended. Vote for the Final Four!

Once Upon a Time: Snow Dark

ONCE UPON A TIME:1.16 “Heart of Darkness”

KT is heading into the woods.

Is it just me, or did adding a little more darkness to Snow White make her twice as interesting?

To be fair, disclaimer #1 here is that I missed the first couple months of the show, so I’m not operating with all the information, and disclaimer #2 is that “yes, it’s cheating, but it’s twu wuv, so it’s really okay!” plotlines just leave me cold.  So up to now, Snow White and Mary Margaret just haven’t been much of a draw for me.

And it’s not that I think she actually killed Kathryn — I’m pretty confident that Regina is setting her up — it’s the way she’s reacting to the accusations.  Especially toward the end of the episode, her demeanor has changed and we’re starting to see a gritty determination from her that I think will take this character to some interesting places.

I was very surprised when Emma announced that DNA testing revealed the heart to really be Kathryn’s. The metaphor is apt — here’s the literal heart of a woman who had her figurative heart broken by her unfaithful husband — but I really expected it to be an animal heart (like the one the huntsman takes back to the Queen in place of Snow White’s in the original tale).

I’ve been increasingly drawn into this show lately. I really liked the twist they put on Little Red Riding Hood, and I’m eager to find out more about how Regina came to have Beauty committed as a mental patient.

The March Madness brackets Raked has put together suggest we’ve got more than a few Once Upon a Time fans here.  What do you guys think about Mary Margaret behind bars — and what do you think she’ll do now that she’s escaped?!

The 2011 Awards: Part 3

As we come upon the final day of 2011, it’s our last chance to share some more award winners! And I’m glad we are. We had some other last-minute nominations, and as always, these reader nominees are marked with an asterisk (*).

If you haven’t already, check out Parts 1 and 2. And then read below to find out our final winners!

The 2011 Awards

The Finally Forgiven Award: Jennifer Morrison. After being the girlfriend we hated in How I Met Your Mother and single-handedly bringing the series down, it was hard to give Morrison a second chance. But we’re hooked on Once Upon a Time. It’s a role we can be pleased to watch. Morrison, you’re forgiven.

*Best Overseas Adaption: Wilfred. Having not seen the Australian version, this show is still very well put together. It’s dark and funny, and the way Jason Gann acted in the dog suit can’t be beat!

Best Show Based on a Book: Game of Thrones. I don’t think I even have to defend this.

Worst Show Based on a Book: The Secret Circle. The plotlines are a little blah, and the acting overall could use a lot of work. Overall, I wish they would have just stuck with a similar storyline to the books and then spun off into the new and different (a la The Vampire Diaries), instead of whatever I’ve been watching.

Star-Cross Lovers Award: Emily/Amanda and Jack, Revenge. Can’t these crazy kids just get together already? Can’t Amanda (the real one) just give up her vengeful plan and fall into the arms of her childhood sweetheart? Can’t Jack finally look her in the eyes and see who she really is? Doesn’t the dog’s unconditional love mean anything?!

Favorite Couple Award: Leslie and Ben, Parks and Rec. They just make me so happy! Seeing them together then torn apart (with a crying Batman to boot) was so hard. And now we have them happily together again. The final episode this year was just so heartwarming and happy. Love them.

*Most Promise, Least Results: Terra Nova and The Killing. It’s a tie! Actually, this category was suggested to me with a winner (Terra Nova), but I couldn’t let it go without tossing in another lament about The Killing finale. First, Terra Nova. The premise definitely had promise — going back in time to build a new society — but instead of spending time developing the rebuilding, we got another monster-of-the-week/separatist show with little character development. The Robinson Caruso aspect was missing. As for The Killing, well, from the best episode this year to the worst. Red herrings distracted us. There were too many characters. And we spent too much time with a political campaign that no one cared about. And do we need to spend more time discussing that finale?

*Worst Running Gag: Sandwiches, How I Met Your Mother. It was funny the first time. Real funny. But as the years have gone on, the occasional reference to “sandwiches” has become less and less of a recurring joke and more and more of a recurring reference to a joke someone told once. Not to mention that as adult Ted tells his kids more and more inappropriate stories about people hooking up and/or getting really drunk, the idea that he would be hiding any mention of marijuana (especially someone else’s use of it) seems more and more odd.

Best Competition Show: The Amazing Race. This might be one of the few times I agree with Emmy winners, but it’s sure fun to watch. I was laughing out loud a few weeks ago, seeing these teams dress up and do muscle man poses. Even the grandparents looked good!

Best Food Competition Show: Chopped. A new favorite. Just creative and interesting to watch. Plus, it’s nice to see a rotating group of contestants for a change.

Worst Food Competition Show: Top Chef. It’s past its prime and just needs to go.

Favorite Glee Musical Number: The Adele Mashup. I don’t watch Glee regularly, but they cast has always been talented in their musical numbers. Their 300th performance was no exception, and I’m impressed that they can even make an overplayed artist sound fresh and new.

Most Unbelievable Glam Job: Kate Beckett, Castle. I don’t watch the show, though I hear I should. There are two reasons: 1) The first couple episodes weren’t great, and 2) hard-as-nails Kate has now been glammed up as a supermodel. Somehow, I just can’t take her seriously anymore, even if it did increase a fan base.

Biggest Scheduling Faux-Pas: NBC’s Treatment of Community. Once again, something I don’t need to justify. You can just read my post here.

Biggest Overuse of the Word “Event”: ABC Family Channel. ABC Family Channel doesn’t have TV shows. Or episodes. Nope. They have events. Every day. Every week. Every commercial.

Biggest “Spoiler”: Sheriff Graham’s Death, Once Upon a Time. Dear E!, next time you want to write an article about a potential death in a series weeks in advance, don’t title it, Once Upon a Time Spoiler Game: Whose Big Death Won’t You See Coming?” After reading this headline alone, I watched every episode with the expectation that someone will die (and guessing, in each episode, who I thought it’d be). Therefore, there was no surprise in the sheriff’s death. Plus, once you suspected a death was coming, the foreshadowing in the episode itself was more obvious than ever.

Worst Blind Spot: Ben Harmon, American Horror Story. Ok, seriously. He saw Hayden get hit in the face with a shovel and buried her body. Then built a gazebo on top. And yet he still thinks she’s alive and it was all a plot against him? Seriously?

One to Keep Your Eye On: Vanessa Marano. From humble beginnings in Gilmore Girls (where, frankly, I couldn’t stand her) to a short part in the best season of Dexter, Marano is making a name for herself. And in a show I thought had little promise until I watched it, she shines as Bay in Switched at Birth. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Longest Living Animal: Sammy, Revenge. I’m not the only one who’s noticed that a dog that was given to Amanda as a child is still alive, well, and active 17 years later. In fact, JC noticed it in episode one. Either way, I still love him.

Best Old Stand-bys: The Team from Leverage. Not sure what to watch? Go to Leverage. It’s a strong, entertaining show that’s always a good stand-by. Every character on the show is fantastic, and if that’s not enough, the adorable relationship between Parker and Hardison is probably one of the best on TV right now.