Five Things I Love About Merlin

merlinMy tween daughter begged me to watch the BBC show Merlin (now streaming on Netflix and Hulu). I was busy. I had things to do. And Season One was, I’m sorry, AWFUL. But when your tween says, “Mom please participate directly in my life” you realize that this is a limited time offer. So I soldiered on, and while I still can’t say that Merlin is a “good” show in the sense of, you know, making any sense, I can say that I’m helplessly addicted to it as of about halfway through Season Three.

I’m planning to write more about Merlin after I finish the show, so this will be short and, frankly, extremely shallow. Let’s be honest here – most of the things I like about the show are things I like for shallow reasons (Arthur, Gwaine, Lancelot). I’m not also not going to list all the reasons this show is not actually very good except to say that it’s as dumb as a bag of hair. But here are five ways the show got me hooked:

1. Those clothes

The clothes are anachronistic and ridiculous but DAMN they are pretty, and ever since Morgana turned evil her hair jewelry has been AMAZING.

No one with hair like that should look so cranky.

No one with hair like that should look so cranky.

Seriously, these clothes are to die for.

Seriously, these clothes are to die for.

2. Those Guys

I know. Shallow. Revel with me. Unleash the female gaze:

Lancelot

Lancelot

merlinbj

Arthur

Gwaine, AKA My Little Smoochybear

Gwaine, AKA My Little Smoochybear

I’m not including Merlin here because the actor does a great job of making him a realistic teenager. But he’s a teenager with potential. Like whoa.

Speaking of Merlin:

3. The Subtext

Are they not the cutest???? KISS!! KISS, DAMN YOU!

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Dear Arthur, please stop throwing things at Merlin’s head. The abuse makes it hard to ship you guys. And I really want to:

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4. The Acting

In Season One, Anthony Stewart Head pretty much had to carry the show himself through sheer force of will. but Between Season One and Season Two everyone must have gone to acting school or made deals with the devil or something because man, these people are KILLING IT.

5. Women Fight and Men Cry (and vice versa).

This isn’t a terribly feminist show. In some ways it is exit and in some ways it’s progressive. It’s pretty standard stuff. But there are multiple main female characters who have their own lives, they pass the Bechdel Test all over the place, and there are some nice surprises. Every main male character on this show, regardless of where they fall on the “macho” spectrum, has cried, openly and unashamedly, at least once. And Morgana and Morgause are warrior women, although lately they’ve been doing more conniving and less fighting, to my great disappointment.

Is it stupid that her hair is not tied back? Yes. But it worked for drama earlier in the episode. Meanwhile, she's a badass.

Is it stupid that her hair is not tied back? Yes. But it worked for drama earlier in the episode. Meanwhile, she’s a badass.

Over at smartbitchestrashybooks.com, I’ll give a full review of Merlin when I finish watching it. In the meantime, my advice is skip Season One and start with Season Two. You’ll catch up. It’s not that complicated. Oh, and did I mention THIS!

Who can resist a bad CGI dragon? NOT ME!

Who can resist a bad CGI dragon? NOT ME!

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Summer TV – Mini Reviews to Get You Through the Dog Days

Are you ready to do some serious binge watching? Guest reviewer Heather Thayer has you covered!  Here’s her mini-reviews of new TV this summer.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

I can summarize everything wrong with this show in one word: summer. The dark, brooding mood of the show and the heavy, gloomy Victorian settings are unappealing on a bright sunny day when it is light until late at night. I did watch two episodes and they were quite well done. The actor playing Mr. Norrell is perfect. The Man with the Thistledown Hair is frightening and ominous. I wonder whether someone who has not read the books will find the show easy to follow, but the source material is so great that I would hope that people new to the story could pick it up. DVR this show and wait for a storm (or winter) to watch it. I trust it will be excellent in the right weather.

Dark Matter

The concept of this show is intriguing – six people come out of stasis on a space ship with no memory of who they are, where they are, or what they are doing. They start to realize that they have skill memories, and there is an android who can handle the basics of operating the ship and everything else, so that’s helpful. After a few episodes I am still curious about the mystery, although the show can’t seem to steer clear of tropes – for example, one character is sullenly offensive and consistently resorts to conflict and violence. So tiresome. Another character is a manic pixie dream girl who dreams other people’s dreams. Hello, River Tam. The premise is interesting and they occasionally manage to avoid cliché, but it is turning into an “only if there isn’t something better to do” show.

Killjoys

Oh, how this show wants to be the new Firefly. Oh, how it isn’t. The premise is bounty hunters in outer space. Fine, great. I like that the lead character is a kickass woman and I like that the two initial main characters (a straight man and woman) have been business partners for six years but aren’t romantic partners and it is no big deal. I like the feel of the show (which does feel like Firefly) and the world building (which also feels like Firefly). But it is missing the wit of Firefly, the characters aren’t very interesting, and the writing is formulaic. Watch this one if you are sick and you don’t want anything challenging to hit your eyeballs.

Mr. Robot

Full disclosure – I am a lawyer who works with banks on consumer lending issues. I am going to have an issue with a show that has as a ridiculous premise “we’ll hack the banks and everyone’s loans will go pffft, and it will be wonderful for everyone!” But I love this show, even with that nonsense going on. The main character is fascinating. The show has a bleak outlook and is heavy-handed with its depressing message. It is terrific. It is slow-moving and complicated and spends most of its time looking at computer screens. It is riveting. Deliberate, lecturing, absorbing, mesmeric, thrilling. Impossible to explain or categorize. Best show on television right now.

True Detective

First episode. Meh.

First fifty-nine and a half minutes of the second episode. Meh.

Last thirty seconds of the second episode. WTF!!! WTF!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Week’s Arrow: “The Man Under the Hood”

Arrow Tv show logoHa, you thought you wouldn’t be getting highlights from Geek Girl In Love today!  Here in my time zone, it’s not yet midnight, thus it is still Thursday, so I can truthfully say that I have your highlights on time – sort of.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!

The obvious highlight here is that:

SPOILER

Holy Crap, Summer Glau can totally kill you with her brain!  I LOVE batshit ax-crazy Summer Glau!  Granted, it’s sad that all this ax-craziness is because she was jilted by a guy.  It’s also disorienting, because I keep thinking Isabel must have had her “we were soul mates” love affair with Ollie’s Dad when she was…what, eleven?  Honestly.  Still, that moment when Isabel gazed at Slade with those bloody eyes of grinning insanity is one of the finer moments of my life.  I intend to cherish it deep in my heart.

In other news – Laurel is both dark (blackmail, which she delivers in a badass manner but which doesn’t seem like it would actually work) and sweet and mature (love the hug she gives Ollie instead of telling him She Knows).  In a great mark of maturity, partially prompted by a stern chat from her dad, she doesn’t pout that Ollie kept secrets from her.  Classy, Laurel.  Thea, meanwhile, stays defiantly a brat and I love her for it.  Please, please, show, please I’m begging you – make Thea a super villain.  I’m begging, here.

I’m not loving the tech twins.  I’ve no doubt I’ll love them on The Flash, but their presence here feels really forced.  Nor do I kill about this whole, “Let’s kill Ivo” thing.  Yes, kill him, move on, this is dull.

Best Lines:

Felicity:  I don’t think my eyeholes line up properly.  Is anyone else having that problem?

Quentin:  Are you going to your meetings?  Laurel:  Yes, Dad, it’s where I talk about how my father’s facing prison.

Thea:  No, you’re my half-brother.  And you know who else is my half-brother?  Tommy!  My half-brother who I tried to kiss!

Not the greatest Arrow episode we’ve ever had, but this one had some great moments.  Can’t wait for next week!

 

 

Friday Book Club: The Many Lives of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

SWT-Book-ClubsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a classic book with a long, strange life in many forms.  Here’s just a few of the ways you can enjoy Douglas Adams’ weird and wonderful mind:

Radio

Hitchhiker’s started life as a BBC radio broadcast in 1978.  There were six episodes.  It was not expected to be a hit, but it did so well that it was rebroadcast twice that year and then released as a record.  A second series was released in 1980.

Novels

Next came the novels.  After the third novel was released, the series was described as a “trilogy” and when the fourth novel came out it was described as a “trilogy in four parts”.  Eventually five books were published:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, The Universe, and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All The Fish, and Mostly Harmless.  Douglas Adams wanted to write a sixth one, because he thought that the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, ended the series on too dark a note.  But he died before the book was written.  Enoin Colfer wrote a final book, And Another Thing, with the endorsement of Adams’ widow.

Cover - Hitchhikers Guide

Television

BBC ran a six part TV series based on the radio show in 1981.  A sec don series was discussed but fell through because of, among other things, disagreements about budget.  In 2003, some excerpts of the books were filmed as part of The Big Read program.

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And…back to radio!

The BBC did another, updated radio show in 2005.  In case that’s not enough to delight your ears, there are also several LP versions and audiobook versions.

Hitchhiker's guide

Film

Douglas Adams spent years trying to get a Hollywood film version of Hitchhiker’s made but he died before the 2005 movie was finally released.  It came out to mixed reviews and differs from the books a lot, playing up the love triangle aspect between Arthur, Trillian, and Zaphod.  It starts Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, and Zooey Deschanel.

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For a complete list of all the spin offs and adaptations, go to your friendly Wikipedia, where you will find enough Adams to keep you busy forever!  There are comic books!  There are video games!  There are radio scripts and stage plays!  And, of course, there are lots and lots of towels for sale!

DontPanicAndCarryATowel

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: “O-8-4”

Agents of SHIELD logoHello boys and girls.  Welcome to this week’s very special episode.  This week, Agent Ward learns a little something about the importance of working together.  That’s right, this week’s theme is…teamwork!

I thought this week’s episode, “0-8-4” was great fun, despite it’s utter lack of subtlety.  Did it change the way I think about the world?  Nope.  did it give me great insights into the human condition?  Nope.  Was there an Incan temple in the rainforest?  Uh – yeah!  Good times, people, good times.

Here’s the highlights of the week:

Say it with me, y’all:  Coulson has a girl-friend, Coulson has a girl-friend!  A super unconvincing girlfriend who is obviously up to no good!  Technically she’s an ex-girlfriend.  By the end of this episode the break-up is no longer amiable.  This surprises no one.

What I imagine Coulson's married life would be like:  Hi honey.  Could you pick up my shirt from the drycleaners?  and see if they got those bloodstains out?  Thanks a mill.

What I imagine Coulson’s married life would be like: “Hi honey. Could you pick up my shirt from the drycleaners? And see if they got those bloodstains out and that big gaping tear repaired? Thanks a mill.”

Words that are deeply inspiring in light of the fact that our elected officials can’t agree on how to pay their bills:

Couslon:  Ward, you can speak six languages.  Simmons, you have PhD’s in fields I can’t pronounce.  And Fitz – you ARE a rocket scientist!  Work it out!

Skye:  I’m good at stuff, too!

It’s the plaintive tone in her voice that sells it.

Behind the scenes - so cute!

Behind the scenes – so cute!

A few moments of hilarious physical comedy – everyone backs away from the highly dangerous alien explosive, and I spend several minutes screaming at the cast to stop leaning on the raft.  Jesus, you guys.

And my favorite line,

From the Ex:  “I’m not even going to mention the Corvette!”

Coulson:  Her name is Lola:

The Ex:  Of course it is.

Coulson in car

“You’re having a midlife crisis!”
“Afterlife crisis, actually…”

Hands down the best moment comes from the very end of the episode.  By now two whole days have passed since the episode aired and yet I still can’t bring myself to screw this moment up for those of you who haven’t seen the episode yet.  just watch to the end, OK?

See you next week!