The Grand Glory of Galavant

Galavant was one of those shows that came on TV and everyone I know told me I needed to watch it.  Unfortunately for both me (and the show if I represent its target audience) I’m not the kind of person to watch programmed TV.  I’m in the streaming video generation.

Luckily for people like me, the show is now on Netflix and even though it represents essentially everything I don’t like in a show…I can honestly say it’s one of the best new IPs I’ve seen in years.

What don’t I normally like that this show somehow masters?  Well…

  • It’s a Musical: I’ll just say it: I don’t like musicals. Sometimes the music is ok, but mixed into the story I’m often too much of a realist to suspend disbelief long enough to understand why all these characters are suddenly singing.  I can count the number of musicals I like on essentially one hand and not even use most of the fingers…but Galavant somehow makes musical work.  Partially (like one of the musicals I do like, Candide) it works because it knows it’s ridiculous and embraces it.  It keeps the premise simple but makes the details absurd but unlike a lot of absurdist storytelling it doesn’t just behave like the dodo from Loony Tunes and sticks to its narrative.  Also the songs are quite excellent and remarkably in character.  They remind me of the songs from Futurama or David Brent: Life on the Road.  The joke isn’t that the songs are bad, but the characters singing the songs sing them from their own perspective without snarky irony.  One of my favorites is when meat-headed henchman Gareth (portrayed by tough-guy Vinnie Jones) sings the most stereotypical love song in the most literal way possible and it’s lyrics and performance are entirely in character.  It’s the kind of show that can have a comedy king sing about self-esteem to a bearded dragon and make you cheer.

  • Fourth Wall Breaks: For those who don’t know, a fourth wall break is when the characters in the show break the reality of the narrative to acknowledge they are fictional characters in a fictional world. It can be as simple as a classic wink to camera, or as blatant as mentioning production details of their show.  The classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon used to do it all the time to get a quick laugh (often inaccurately spouting off incorrect show titles or details).  The character of Deadpool is essentially based around fourth wall breaks and I’m one of the few people in the world who can’t stand the character.  I think of this kind of snark as “internet storytelling” where storytellers have the chance to do everything as a cliché then make fun of it for being a cliché…while still doing the cliché.  Breaking the fourth wall is often a cheap way to get a joke.  And Galavant does it and gets some cheap jokes, but it is done less for snarky cheap reasons than it is just to point out absurdity in an absurd story.  It’s hard to fully explain why it works in the show to have the narrator sing of the cliffhanger, to hear a character chime in that they can’t die because there’s one more episode left, or have someone comment that it’s awfully early in the season for a main character to almost die.  But it does.  It works  because of the production and delivery.  It’s not done as a wink to camera or a “ha-ha look at us pointing this out” with the comedy pause.  Essentially all of the characters are anachronistic for the supposed 13th Century vaguely European setting.  And when one of them says something equally anachronistic or out-of-narrative it fits.  The jokes are often also subtle and not dwelt upon.  They are usually just part of the dialogue thrown in casually and quickly passed over.  It’s the kind of narrative treatment that so many have tried and failed to do…and Galavant does so well.

  • Network TV: When was the last time I saw something on network TV worth watching? Call it a prejudice but I can’t think of a show I tuned into on the big networks in the last decade.  Most of what I watched have been cable shows or smaller network shows (Monk, Psych, Supernatural, River Monsters) and syndicated shows re-run on cable networks (Futurama, The Simpsons, etc)  To think a Network produced this show for TWO seasons is SHOCKING.  They found some budget in between reality TV, contest shows, and legal dramas to make something unique, risky, and entertaining.  The entire first show of the second season is dedicated to the idea that they can’t believe they’re back for a second season.  If  networks would take more risks to produce more content like this maybe they’d win back some of the viewers who have defected to other forms of entertainment…like me.

Those are the main reasons the show shouldn’t have worked but did.  The straight positives are far too numerous to list.  The ENTIRE cast is brilliant.  Stand outs for me are Timothy Omundson as King Richard (he is legitimately show-stealing…), Mallory Jansen as Queen Madalena (who is both hilariously evil and remarkably sympathetic…and who has joined the list of fictional characters I want to marry), and Vinnie Jones as Gareth (who somehow creates a character who is a self-described “horrible person” but isn’t “entirely evil.”)  Add to that all the cameos from amazing guest stars just kind of thrown in (Weird Al AND Ricky Gervais?!  Yes please) and you get one hell of a show gone far too soon.

Who knows maybe it’ll gain traction from viewers like me who missed it the first time and we’ll get an even more unexpected THIRD season!

Right now its episodes are 18 perfect little jewels and definitely not to be missed.

Supernatural: Then vs. Now

Attention Supernatural Fans: I mean no harm. I know the show has surpassed popularity no one thought possible, however as a fan since season 3, Supernatural has betrayed me.

supernatural then vs now

It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed Supernatural and my love/hate relationship with the show. I have not seen a full season since season 9, but I have seen episodes from all of them, even the most recent wrestling one.

That’s what sparked this post. As I watched the overly dramatic episode that I thought would be fun and pay homage to the greats, I thought, “Wow. Supernatural used to be so good. What happened?” I feel like the writers and producers have betrayed the show’s origins and ripped away what made it special. Let’s take a look at Supernatural Then vs. Now: (contains spoilers)

The Plots

I loved Supernatural’s main plots – whether it was finding their dad or defeating Lucifer – but the plots after season 6 aren’t as appealing. Seasons 7-11 have been heavily focused on “biblical” characters and plots, which has made the show less fun and interesting. With seasons 7-8 I enjoyed everything except for the main plot, and season 7 really lost my interest when they killed off the beloved Bobby. The early plots were simple at their core. They focused on natural good vs. evil, family relationships, and supernatural lore. All wins. However, once season 8 started, it focused the Men of Letters and characters who aren’t really interesting or relatable. The current plots are slow, boring, and convoluted.

Stories Within the Plots

This infuriates me. Supernatural has crossed a line with me in its current season. It has betrayed many of the major-minor characters by placing them in situations they would never have allowed five seasons ago. Cas, one of my favorite characters, has been possessed or accepted to serve as Lucifer’s vessel. No. Crowley is beaten and worn down and looks like a hobo. Um, no. Some speculate that Crowley will become human and start hunting. Really? The Darkness (Amara) threatens the world’s fate, but Dean can’t fight her because he’s in love with her. Sigh. And on and on.

The Boys

Sam and Dean aren’t the same. Sure, they’ve matured and been through everything imaginable, but their characters have become dry. In the early seasons, you appreciated Sam’s independence and struggle. Dean was somewhat unstable but always did what was right. As you watched the early seasons, both have relatable qualities that engage the audience. Now, they’re pretty much the same person. There’s no passion, and any brotherly conflict feels written. Since season 8, the characters actually feel like fictional characters instead of real people. The “this feels real” feeling you get when you watch the earlier episodes is priceless because you are on the adventure with them. Now, and since season 9, you’re just watching. And it’s not even interesting.

Misc. Issues With Supernatural

Aside from these issues, there are tons of little things wrong:

  • The first few seasons had amazing soundtracks, and now the music is just TV music.
  • The “fun” episodes – some of my favorites – do not exist. I’ve watched several that start strong, then half-way through, they go dark and grim. The show isn’t fun anymore.
  • Where’s the lore? Why are we learning about WWII and the Nazis? Oh, that’s right. The Nazis practiced dark magic because that makes sense.
  • Skeazy hotels no longer serve a purpose. They live in the Men of Letters bunker (yawn). No more Dean enjoying vibrating beds; no more picking up ladies; no more fairies in microwaves.
  • It’s now a drama. This hurts me the most. I don’t watch dramas because I like my entertainment to make me laugh. The world is serious enough, so I need fun, humor, and creativity. Supernatural hasn’t had that in a long time.

This will probably be my last Supernatural post that discusses current episodes or recent seasons. It is with a heavy heart that I say I will probably stop trying to watch it. I still love many of the seasons, but it has taken a direction that no longer interests or entertains me. I think I’ll stick to the reruns.
Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments!

Psych: One Year Later

Psych‘s final episode aired nearly a year ago (3/26/2014). The final episode ended well: Shawn and Gus moved Psych to another city, Shawn and Jules got engaged, and prior to that, Lassiter became the new chief.

Psych final episode
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I’m very open about how much I love this show. As silly as it seems, I miss it. I felt like a little piece of me went away when the show did. However, I feel like I should honor its memory by honoring the year anniversary.

Here are some ideas on how to survive Psych withdrawals as this difficult time of year approaches:

    • Watch an episode from each season. For the first four, I suggest: Scary Sherry, American Duos, Tuesday the 17th, Bollywood Homicide
    • Watch the Yin, Yang trilogy in order. James Roday says in a goodbye video, this trilogy is something he’s most proud of. Psych: The Musical completes Ally Sheedy’s story line, so make it a quadruple set for full enjoyment.
    • Go on a treasure hunt to find the bobbleheads. Good luck! Quick online searches show these babies cost at least $99 each. They have doubled in price, and did so well before the show ended.
    • Make Psych‘s Fries Quatro Queso Dos Fritos. Even I’m not brave enough to do this, and remember they don’t travel well. They are balls of heart attacks waiting to happen, but I must admit they look delicious. Find the recipe here on Mission: Food.
    • Eat a pineapple. And canned doesn’t count. Not only is the pineapple Psych‘s signature mascot, it’s also great for you. This may help off-set the fries, too!
    • Dress in Psych swag. Sure, you may feel silly, but there are shirts, pajamas, slippers, pillows, charm bracelets and tons more to show your Psych pride. People dress up to watch football and basketball games, so why not dress up for a Psychathon?
    • Play a game. Depending on where you live and work, this may or may not be a good idea, but I must suggest it. Spend a day telling people to suck it. Or say what? to everything everyone says. This will probably be more fun for you — although you may find others who are just as obsessed with the show.
    • Dance. Imagine working in an office, completing a project or solving a problem, and breaking out into a dance. This will certainly break up the day, and dancing is a great way to exercise. If you want to go all out, pick a Shawn and Gus dance!
    • Watch the last episode. If you haven’t seen it, watch the finale. I know lots of people who started the show and never finished it. That’s okay; there were 121 episodes. If you enjoyed the show though, check out the last one because you won’t be disappointed.

Family Feud: For Families or Just Adults?

Family Feud, one of the most popular game shows of our time, has been around since 1976. I have seen the show progress throughout my life, enjoyed yelling answers at the T.V., and calling contestants idiots for not thinking of obvious answers.

Until recently, I hadn’t watched it in years, so I was a little unprepared a few weeks ago when my son and I were watching.

The question: Name something a woman puts in a male stripper’s g-string.

Ummm… what?

I didn’t freak out because he is a teenager, however I thought about all those families with small kids who may be watching. I can only imagine an 8-year-old asking, “Mom, what’s a g-string? What’s a stripper? And parents having some tough decisions to make.

Sure enough, my kid asked what a g-string was. With pink cheeks, I chose the honest answer even though I would have rather said, “a string in the shape of a G” (wink, wink). One answer was “her mouth,” which I did feel was a bit much. Isn’t this supposed to be a family-friendly show?

This is what inspired this post. Family Feud isn’t really for families. It hasn’t always been either. In fact, in the ’70s the show was slightly promiscuous with host Richard Dawson, but not because of the questions, but because he was a ladies man who loved the flirt and kiss them. Some questions provoked “adult” words, like sex, but for the most part it was nothing shocking, especially for the late ’70s and early ’80s.

As the show progressed with the times, it became more tame. Either I was conditioned to it as a kid (the last time I watched it with host Ray Combs), or I didn’t care, but nothing seemed very thought-provoking or too grown up. In the early 2000s, hosts Louie Anderson and Richard Karn brought the show into the 21st century, and I admit I only watched a few episodes, thinking it was a little boring or predictable.

Now in 2015, with host Steve Harvey, there’s definitely some spice, and most questions are way too adult for younger audiences. Recently, I’ve seen answers on the board such as “hot nurse”, “hoo hoo” (in reference to a female’s part), and heard questions like “name one thing you’d do if your husband was wearing a thong.”

I’m not opposed to the show, just opposed to it airing during early evening hours when many families are flipping channels before/after dinner. I’m a little surprised its allowed due to the content and the fact they won’t even show cartoons that are too adult before 9 p.m. It seems like bad taste, and I would hate for a small child to know too much too soon from watching a “family” game show that’s very age specific – 13 and up seems appropriate.

Overall, I enjoy the show, but I do warn those with younger kids to keep flipping channels for a few years. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and enjoy these clips!

Supernatural: Ellen and Jo

Jo and Ellen Supernatural
Photo from

During my recent Supernatural binge, I remembered two of my favorite characters, mother-daughter team Ellen (Samantha Ferris) and Jo (Alona Tal). I often jump around, but I stopped to watch the episodes featuring these characters, who are so well done. TV shows and movies need more women like them.

Beauty Within the Beast

Pop culture is big on women right now. We have strong female characters assuming more masculine roles, but if you think about it, few are really attractive or feminine. As much as I love Michonne from The Walking Dead or Ripley from the Alien movies, these ladies are not considered beautiful by today’s standards.

This is one reason Ellen and Jo are different. Especially for her age, Ellen is a simple but elegant woman. She will kick your a$$ in a heartbeat, though. The producers seem to have wanted her to be beautiful even though she runs a saloon. Her hair is always down, she always wears a little makeup, and has a nice figure, especially for a woman now pushing 50. Her facial expressions make her tough looking, but she still has nurturing eyes and worry lines to show the caring, softer side.

Simply put, Jo is a tiny hot blonde. When you think of petite blondes, you may think fragile and not very bright. Jo is tough and smart. Upon first meeting (Everybody Loves a Clown), Dean takes her shotgun away, and she punches him in the face. At first, he’s actually scared of her. Jo proves you can have a small, trim figure, long blonde hair and a great smile, and still beat the crap out of anyone who gets in the way.

Hard on the Outside, Soft in the Center

Sounds like a strawberry bon bon, doesn’t it? That’s the best way I can describe these two ladies. They are tough as nails on the outside through verbal expression, mannerisms, and weapon usage, but both are sensitive souls underneath.

In the show, Ellen instantly becomes a maternal figure for Dean and Sam, but shows she won’t take their crap. She wants to help them but kicks them out when they resist. She doesn’t want the same life for Jo as they have. In Good God, Ya’ll, she hugs Dean, then slaps him across the face for not calling to check in. Ellen cares for hunters, providing food, shelter, and much needed booze. She is every hunter’s mother.

Jo may punch you in the face, but you can see her vulnerability. In No Exit, Jo joins Dean and Sam on the hunt and is taken hostage. She’s terrified, but nothing will stop her from escaping and putting the spirit to rest. She even offers herself as bait, even though you see both her fear and insecurity. Jo seems fearless but learns quickly she needs Dean and Sam, and they need her.

The show’s producers don’t over testosterone these female characters or make them anti-men. Many producers create female characters on one end of the spectrum or the other, but Supernatural delivers both the independent and dependent spirit of the true modern-day woman. It’s not that women need men, or vise-versa, it’s that we all need each other.

If you haven’t seen the show or the older seasons recently, I recommend them – the older seasons rank among my favorite TV of all time. Happy hunting!

American Horror Story: 5 Reasons to Love It

American Horror Story continues to gain viewers and attract more crazy people who can’t help but get sucked into the story – no matter how messed up.

And that’s what I love about it and one of many things that inspired this week’s post.

If you haven’t seen the show, it may not be your thing, but if you value a good story (as we often talk about here) and great acting it may be worth your time. Aside from the wicked stories and awesome acting, there are some special things I enjoy about the show:

1. It changes every season. New characters, new plot, new time period, and setting. It’s quite remarkable, and Entertainment Weekly revealed there is cross over, which only makes me want to watch it more, so I can put all the pieces together. It’s thoughtful, creative, and refreshing when things feel a little overdone in Hollywood.

2. The acronym. If you Google AHS, you will find American Horror Story. I love that. It wasn’t on purpose and just happened. When I text, “watching AHS,” that person knows exactly what I’m talking about. Not many shows develop a natural acronym.

3. Giving actors/actresses work. Before the show, I hadn’t seen Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, or Angela Bassett in ages. There are several people who want to work in the industry but simply don’t fit into the “popular” crowd of today’s Hollywood. And these people are more talented than the ones getting work. It’s a shame, but that’s what I love about AHS. This show gives them a place and purpose, and they can create a following of their own.
This season also (Freak Show) even more to work with featuring stars and acts from freak shows and characters based on real-life “very special people”.

4. Horror at its best (by modern standards). Some people complain that it’s too disturbing, slow, gory, dark, etc. Well, the horror genre is not a happy place. It is not rainbows and unicorns. The horror genre takes your worst nightmares and discomforts and slaps you in the face. AHS does that, and only true horror fans can appreciate the dark and often disturbing tone of the show.

5. Respect to the genre. With that said, the writers and crew pay homage to many real-life horror stories and work them in. They also use angels and visuals that pay respect to the greats like Hitchcock and Carpenter. The score creeps you out during the opening credits, and who can’t help but love this week’s cover as Come As You Are. Last season, a scene was so deep, it made me cry. The show evokes emotions, makes you think, and can rip your heart it. AHS defines modern horror in the most beautiful way.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you think of the show. Share and feel free to comment below!