What’s Lacking in Supergirl? Friendships.

Far From the Tree
Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW

When Supergirl first premiered on CBS, I didn’t watch it live. I binge-watched the show last summer, and despite the criticism the show seemed to get when it aired (if I recall correctly), I enjoyed it. I knew when I was watching that it was moving to the CW, so I watched it as if it were a CW show. And it fit. It was a CW show. And sure, some episodes were better or weaker than others, but I enjoyed it. Kara Danvers was adorable, awkward, and simply engaging. She had close friendships and a sweet relationship with her family. It was close, loving, and nice. And, of course, it had Cat Grant.

The move to the CW severely hurt the show. The most obvious part was losing Cat Grant and, with it, a lot of the strong female empowerment. But I’m not going to dwell on that. A lot of people have already discussed that, and there’s no reason I need to rehash it here.

But the part that I missed the most was Kara’s friendships. Somehow, the shift to the CW caused Kara’s close relationships to fade into the background. The parts that made Kara the most fun, endearing, and relatable — considering she’s a super-strong alien that was sent to Earth when she was 12 — seemed to disappear. Winn shifted his job to the DEO, and Kara no longer interacted him unless it was on a case. In fact, his major role in the show seems to be spouting facts about bad guys and trading banter with Alex when she was trying to get information out of him. And despite being promoted, James’ role was somehow minimized in the office. He focused his efforts on being Guardian, which he kept hidden from Kara and later caused friction. They made up, but even then, their relationship was essentially separate with each of them focusing on their own crime fighting. They’re more distanced than I’ve ever seen them.

True, Kara still had her relationship with Alex, but it wasn’t quite the same. Most of Alex’s storylines were focused on her relationship with Maggie — a plot point that was a strength of the season — and left little time for gabbing over pizza and sister TV time. They did cover this in the show and how they weren’t spending the same amount of time together, if I recall, but it just wasn’t the same.

Overall, Kara’s time was just not spent with friends. Gone were the days of potstickers and hanging out at the apartment. Even when they would have a drink at the weird alien bar, usually it was for a mere few moments right before one person was dragged away to have a conversation with someone else or go fight a villain. It just wasn’t the same.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “To Josh, With Love”

Crazy Ex Girlfriend - To Josh With Love
Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.02 “To Josh, With Love”

So much to say in this jam-packed episode! But let’s start with this: I was true to my word and learned my lesson. Even though the show released not one, not two, but three songs in advance of the episode, I didn’t watch any. I didn’t want to spoil any of the musical numbers after last week — not even the theme — so that I would be surprised.

I’m so glad I did. With four musical numbers and a new theme song in this episode, I was thrilled to see it without any clue of what was coming. And I really enjoyed it. Well, most of it. But we’ll get there.

Let’s start with the theme song. It always takes a little bit of adjustment to say good-bye to the old theme song and digest a new one. I was someone who struggled to move on to last season’s theme after falling in love with first season’s. But I eventually learned to love it. Now knowing the drill, I was just curious what they’d do next. The verdict? It’s great. True, it’s not as catchy and quippy as the previous tunes, but I like what the show is trying to do with it by depicting four ways that “crazy” is described in pop culture and music. (Read all about it here.) Rachel Bloom is able to take over every persona with ease, and I really applaud it. And if earworm-worthiness is any indication, I’ve already memorized it, and it’s been in my head for a day now. So successful on that level, too.

Shifting from the theme song, we go right into the episode, following up on Paula and Rebecca’s plan to sue Josh as a course of revenge. Rebecca finally confesses that this isn’t the plan she was hoping for, but even that falls flat. For being the only scene between Paula and Rebecca in the episode, the scene is rather forgettable (with the exception of a good back and forth about having a shoplifting phase), but shifts us into a absolutely delightful song by Josh.

I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say about “Head in the Clouds.” I had a large smile plastered all over my face through the entire number, and it was wonderful seeing Vincent Rodriguez III do some classic dance moves. The wordplay was so fun — and any song that has someone dancing with the Holy Ghost is worth calling out. This song may fall into my “top songs from Crazy Ex” list, which is tough since so many of the songs on the show are well-written, well-choreographed, and superbly performed.

Outside of the dance moves, we see that, unsurprisingly, Josh’s plan to enter the priesthood was not quite as dreamy as he’d hoped, and it was more of a way to escape his guilt than anything else — something Father Rodrigo questioned within moments of meeting Josh (clearly, Josh isn’t the first person to try this little trick). It’s almost as though this was Josh’s way of proving that he was still a good person (in fact, I was partially expecting an “I’m a Good Person” reprise from Josh; I suppose that could still come). Not only did Josh continuously show us how much he was not positioned to be a priest — his prayers were comparable to Aladdin making a wish to a magic genie — but his actions became more and more selfish. Hector and White Josh even called him out it: This was really just a way for him to get out of an awkward conversation. White Josh said it brilliantly when he said, “You just Father, Son, and Holy Ghosted your entirely life!”

Meanwhile, Rebecca is on a path to be bad, but she’s terrible at it. Enter Nathaniel.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge”

Crazy Ex Girlfriend - Greg GaynePhoto by Greg Gayne/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.01 “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back with a vengeance — or at least Rebecca Bunch is.

After being left at the altar, we find Rebecca… Well, actually, we don’t find Rebecca at all. Shortly after her wedding day, Rebecca is nowhere to be seen. Which is piquing everyone’s interest. “The whole town is all a-twitter (since the whole town is on Twitter),” according to the song at least.

This means people are bugging Paula, even though she hasn’t even seen our leading lady. Boxes are piling up. Coworkers are concerned. Nathaniel is looking pensive. And through a great musical number that involves the entire cast (which is a first on the show, I believe, the closest being “California Christmastime,” if my memory serves), we finally discover that Rebecca is sulking in a West Covina hotel, unsure what to do next. That is until she decides that, yes, revenge is the best option.

I personally knew this was going to go down this way, only because I’d seen this incredibly fun musical number in advance of the premiere. (The show released the two musical numbers from the premiere earlier this week.) The rest of the show, of course, was a mystery.

And overall, I enjoyed it. Was it the strongest episode? No. Was it the best way to start a season? I also think no.

Keep in mind that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is probably my favorite show currently on TV. I’m constantly impressed by its creativity, fresh writing, engaging plots (especially involving Rebecca’s mental issues), and of course, musical numbers. So I naturally put the show at a higher standard than some of the other shows out there. And when I nitpick, they’re exactly that: nitpicks. This show is still excellent.

But last night’s episode did leave me a little bothered, particularly by the B-plots. Rebecca’s vengeance storyline was right in line with the type of person Rebecca is: denying her real feelings and replacing them with ridiculous antics. Both of which completely miss the mark (poop cupcakes and pornos — sounds like a band name). But you’re not at all surprised that Rebecca, the most socially awkward of the girl group, would come up with these ideas.

What wasn’t really in line with the characters were the other stories. While I appreciate that White Josh and Darryl are not the perfect, no-problem couple that we saw last season, Darryl slipped a bit outside of his usual character this episode. I get that he’s anxious to talk to White Josh about having kids. But trying to expedite his journey toward selling these ant bars — in an anteater costume to boot — just to get to that part of their relationship faster was silly. It was something Rebecca would do, not Darryl. Now this could be to show that Rebecca isn’t as much of an oddball as we think, that others have the same idiosyncrasies that she does. But more likely, this was just a comedic antic that missed the mark. One plus: Darryl’s admitting that he’s a catch, and White Josh should see him that way. It was a strong moment for Darryl, and I completely agree.

The other weakness? Paula. Again, happy to see that just because she took her husband back doesn’t mean that her marriage is magically fixed. And it doesn’t at all surprise me that she has a lie detector (though I think they could’ve played that up more and gotten a few more laughs out of it). But the rest? Fell a little flat for me. One plus: Heather analyzing why Paula was acting so crazy…and Scott admitting that he would prefer Paula to simply be Paula. It was sweet.

But back to the good stuff, especially that amazing second number, “Let’s Generalize About Men,” a song that depicts many conversations women have when venting with the girls, yet somehow also points the finger at those who generalize about women on a continuous basis. It was really brilliant, and let’s be honest, fun.

And while, sure, the porno piece was silly, I enjoyed seeing Vincent Rodriguez III play Colin, and his swiftly moving through many accents was great. I missed seeing the real Josh in the episode and seeing what he’s up to, so it was a fun way to get the actor involved in a different way. (Though let’s be honest, how did they spend the majority of the episode talking about a “fake Josh” without one White Josh joke?)

Overall, I liked the opener, and I can’t wait until next week (I hear, by the way, that we’ll see the third season theme song next week — something I’m super anxious to see). And I’d imagine that a lot of the flaws I saw in the opener was in part due to my seeing the musical numbers in advance of the episode. Usually the flash and surprise of the numbers distract from any weak points in the episode (why wouldn’t they?), but knowing they were coming took some of the unpredictability of the show out of it. My own fault, I know — it was my choice to watch them and spoil them for me — but at the end of the episode, I was just a little disappointed and I think those flaws floated their way to the surface a little more for me.

A few additional notes:

  • I both enjoyed Nathaniel and didn’t in this episode. I thought his concern was endearing, but I also wasn’t quite sure that he would try to show Rebecca his feelings this obviously, awkwardly, and desperately so soon. But his describing the basket he had delivered to her house was certainly adorable.
  • I still love seeing the reactions at the office to the non-work stuff Rebecca does. Her taking over a conference room to plot revenge? Great. (And Heather getting her jacket off a scarecrow? Even better.)
  • The ’80s outfits were great. The shoes were fantastic. Seriously, amazing.
  • So the heck with the #WheresRebeccaBunch hashtag. #WhatAboutJoshChan? I can’t wait to find out.

So long, TVD. My Thoughts on the Vampire Diaries Finale

I Was Feeling Epic

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 8.16 “I Was Feeling Epic”

It’s been a long time since I’ve written an episode review here on Raked (it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, for that matter), but as I was watching and thinking about the final episode if The Vampire Diaries, I kept having thoughts I wanted to share. I spent five years writing about TVD off and on in its eight-season run. It only seems right to return here to write about its series finale.

A little bit of a disclaimer before I go into the details: I didn’t watch this entire season. I watched the first half, got behind, and a few episodes back, just jumped back in without watching a few episodes. I missed how the team got the cure again. I missed Enzo’s death (that’s for the better — I’m not sure I could’ve handled that. It looked brutal). And I missed the whole thing with the bell. But I was able to catch up rather quickly, popping back in right as Stefan becomes human again. So if you see anything here that seems to have missed a beat, well, it could be because I missed it.

I thought this was a great finale. As we approached the start of the episode, I really had no idea how they’d close up the show with so much left to cover. After all, Bonnie was dead or dying. Elena had to wake up (I assumed). Katherine had to come back. They had to deal with Hell on Earth now that Vicki was ringing the bell. And dammit, they needed some sort of happy ending — ok, maybe I just selfishly wanted that. But overall, there was a lot to cover in a mere hour.

And if I’m being honest, sure, there were parts I feel were a little rushed. It seemed a little convenient that Bonnie was able to take down the Hellfire and that she could wake Elena. I wish we had more of Katherine’s antics (though I loved her banter). And Damon — well, I’ll get to Damon in a bit.

But the hour we did get was very well done. My emotions were all over the place (which you could tell by a few of my tweets). There were emotional good-byes, even sadder last messages, and, hey, even some moments of peace.

Let’s start with Bonnie.

Bonnie was fantastic in this episode, and I haven’t really seen her get her due in recaps, given everything else that happened. The way she rediscovered her power was great, but more so, I couldn’t help but feel the power of the Bennett women as they stood around her, helping her push back the Hellfire. (I mean, come on, if you saw Grams and didn’t feel a prickle of tears in your eyes, you must have no soul.) It was a powerful moment. Sure, the idea of the witch with a superspell helping to save the day did remind me a bit of Buffy‘s finale, but it also wasn’t a surprise. Bonnie was always the person who would be ready to risk herself to save everyone else, yet strong enough to push through it. It seemed a fitting fight for her, and I’m happy to see that she was able to continue her life — and truly live it.

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My Super-late, Super-fast Thoughts on Supergirl Season 1

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When nothing is new on TV, I binge. Last week I decided to check out the first season of Supergirl. 

I watched the whole season in a week. I was almost as fast as a speeding bullet, except that I had to do wild and crazy things like, take care of my child, eat, sleep, and work.

Why Supergirl? Well, I was intrigued about its story. Not the show’s story arc, but the series’ move from CBS to the CW. I knew very little about how the show was. I heard vaguely that the show got better over the course of the series and that the crossover episode with The Flash was great, but not much more. I remembered seeing promos before it premiered and being skeptical of it (a goofy, awkward girl who has magic powers and works for Ally McBeal?). After all, it seemed a little silly for CBS.

But then again, it’s not on CBS anymore. So when I started watching the series, I didn’t wear a CBS hat. I wore a CW one.  And given that I’ve been a big fan of CW shows over the last few years–One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Supernatural, just to name a few–I have certain expectations of how CW shows will be.

Supergirl was made for the CW.

It has the lighthearted nature of a CW show, balancing life’s-and-death events with a good level of adorableness and humor. It, of course, has its very own love triangle (a staple of many shows, but especially those on the CW). The cast itself seems like it’s a better fit for the CW (Cat Grant says so herself), and even the brightly colored scenes and sets remind me of a show targeted at a different audience than that of CBS.

So I guess I’m saying the move was a smart one. But knowing that move was happening did color my viewing of the show, since if I had a different network experience in mind, I may have considered it an unsuccessful series.

But instead, I like it! Sure, there are some rocky parts. The big bad villain of the series took a bit too long to set up, in part because of Astra. I liked the character, but if they had just focused on Non, it would’ve been much stronger. There was certain cheese factor moments (a certain someone flying a spaceship in the season finale, for example). While I love Italia Ricci, the development of Banshee seemed a bit too quick–and over too quickly. And don’t even get me started on Indigo’s look.

But despite some flaws, I was sucked in rather quickly. Kara wasn’t nearly as awkward and clumsy as the original promo made her out to be. If fact, she’s adorable–especially in the crossover episode–and her positive spirit is magnetizing. (I’m pretty sure Melissa Benoist got the gig because her teeth are so perfect they’ve got to be superhuman.) Her sidekicks are entertaining (I’m totally shipping Kara and Winn, by the way; in fact, I have a hard time seeing the chemistry between her and James).

And even Cat Grant has a likable quality, despite her Devil Wears Prada demeanor. In fact, I give the show kudos for emphasizing the struggle she had getting to where she is in her career, given that she’s a woman in the workplace. “You can have it all…just not all at once,” she said. I was happy to see somedepth of character, considering that roles like this usually fall flat.

Now one disclaimer: I know little about the DC universe  my knowledge of Super-characters comes from Smallville and Lois and Clark, so if there are flaws in that domain, I’m sorry, I can’t speak to them. But as for an enjoyable experience, as a whole, the season delivers. Now, by bingeing, I was able to gloss over weak episodes, which may means that when I tune in this fall (and I will) I may end up a little pickier. But for now, I was happy to spend a week with some new characters and new stories, and I’m looking forward to see more.

*Photo by CBS

Supernatural: A Lesson in Binge Watching

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I’m a late-comer to Supernatural. I didn’t start watching until last spring, when I was bored with the current TV options and wanted to know why it had such a huge cult following. I watched ten seasons in just a few short months, cramming one to two episodes into every weeknight (and four or more on the weekend days). This may sound slow to some of you binge watchers out there, but I have a toddler, which means no scary bad guys during daylight hours–unless it was nap time, of course.

To be honest, I’m pretty impressed I got through it so fast and was able to catch up before the start of season 11.  That did mean that season 11 was a different one for me. I got what it felt like to watch week to week, waiting between episodes. You’d think this would be especially tough for episodes that had cliffhanger endings, but actually, it was the one-off episodes that were worse. Some of those solid episodes I could breeze through when binge watching. But that was all I got for the week? Give me more!

But this post isn’t really about that…exactly. Since today is Supernatural Day, I got to thinking about my experience watching the show. As I’ve seen list after list of best episodes and favorite sidekicks, I suddenly started asking myself, did my binge watching actually hurt my Supernatural experience?

Let’s start with the details. I can tell you main characters, but there’s a lot I can’t recall. I can tell you main villains and general plotlines, but by rushing through the series, I have some fuzzy spots. For example, recently, it took me way too long to remember who or what Lilith was.

What’s more, I can only imagine how incredibly tough some of the poignant (or devastating) moments were. I mean, sure, I had a some good tears and heartbreak with Bobby and Charlie, but I’d only “known” them for a few months. Those watching the series over the years had, well, years! I can only imagine how that felt differently.

In fact, watching week to week for twelve years is very impressive, and I can see how this cult following is so strong. That’s quite the commitment. That said, bingeing did give me the opportunity to watch and watch fast, so I could catch up and join in the fun. And perhaps it made me a more rabid fan, wanting more more more because I’m not used to waiting for a week. I don’t know. But I have all the respect for those who can name episodes and guest stars, much like I’ve done for shows like Buffy for all these years. I may have picked up some of the canon, but you guys clearly know John’s journal, front to back.

*Photo by the CW

Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow: Some Early Thoughts

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As we near Thanksgiving and the upcoming winter holidays, I’m reminded of the days when I would do wild and crazy things like review old Thanksgiving episodes of Gilmore Girls or the Christmas Challenge of watching Christmas episodes every day leading up to Christmas. While I know it’s been tough to keep up with writing in recent months, maybe now’s a good time to get back into it. And I’ll start with some early thoughts of Lifetime’s new movie Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, which premieres tomorrow night at 8:00 ET/PT.

If you haven’t heard about this movie, here’s a quick description:

The movie follows the story of the Emmerson family, recently divorced father Ron and his kids Tim and Annie, as they head to the quaint town of Turkey Hollow to spend a rustic Thanksgiving at the farm of Ron’s eccentric Aunt Cly. Surprised by the lack of internet and technology in Turkey Hollow, Tim and Annie soon find themselves swept up in tracking the “Howling Hoodoo,” an elusive monster that, up until now, Turkey Hollow residents have long dismissed as mere legend. The Thanksgiving holiday threatens to take a bleak turn when a scheming neighbor frames Aunt Cly for turkey theft, but the fractured family teams up with some surprising new friends to save the day.

Now, the minute I hear “Henson,” I’m interested. And while the Muppets haven’t met my expectations (or their potential) in recent years — sorry, I’m an old school Muppet Show and movie fan — I still wanted to tune into this and check it out. Plus, hey, it has Mary Steenburgen in it, so that’s a plus.

What I didn’t know is that it was based on original characters and a story written in 1968 by Jim Henson and his longtime writing partner Jerry Juhl. This definitely gives it some credibility. It also starred Jay Harrington, of Better Off Ted fame, as well as Ludacris as the narrator. Now, you might find the fact that Ludacris is in a Henson film is, well, ludicrous, but quite honestly, he was fantastic. He brought a great sense of humor to the movie, and I could’ve had more of him in it — had the narrative had allowed for it, of course.

Overall, it was a cute movie. Sure, the premise was a little contrived and cheesy — and it had some rather slapstick villains, which usually goes on my don’t-like list — but it was cute. I mean, the plot includes turkey theft and it’s a holiday-themed movie on Lifetime. What do you expect?

Now, my one caveat is this: If you’re looking for a movie filled to the brim with Henson creatures, like Muppet or Sesame Street films, this isn’t really one of them. It’s a good bit of time before any Henson creature appears. That said, once it does, they were adorable and used well. Plus, they used other elements throughout the movie in its scenery and setting that really seemed magical and fun. So you might have to wait for it, but it’s well done.

So my recommendation? Check it out. It’s a cute family movie and a little different from the usual TV movies coming out right now. And it’s a good taste of Turkey Day, a few days before Thanksgiving.

Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow premieres Saturday, November 21, at 8 pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

*Photo by Richard Paris/Lifetime.