TV Tuesday: A Review of Motive

TV Tuesday: A Review of Motive

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Happy Election Day! Have you voted yet? Arizona is an early voting state, so we sent in our ballots about two weeks ago. If you already voted, you’re awesome! If not, please remember to VOTE!

Another benefit of living in Arizona is that we do not participate in the brutal institution known as Daylight Savings Time. So we wish all of you who live in affected areas: Congratulations, you made it to Tuesday! Al lived in Virginia for a couple of years where she had to adapt to the strange tradition after a lifetime of DST-free living. It took an entire week to recalibrate and it always felt like the LONGEST week ever. Now all we have to worry about is adjusting to the new times that our tv shows come on, a much better situation.
motive canadian television vancouver
This week, we wanted to discuss Motive. Motive is a Canadian show that aired in the US on ABC for two seasons and then on USA for two seasons. It starred Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn and Louis Ferrera as Detective/Staff Sergeant Oscar Vega. It also starred Lauren Holly as Dr. Betty Rogers, the medical examiner, who we loved in Picket Fences and NCIS. RIP Director Jenny Shepard.


The final season of Motive ended this fall. We are very disappointed to see it go. We love a good murder mystery and this show was quite different from others. Every episode started off with a scene showing us who the victim was, followed by a scene showing the killer. Then they jumped to real time, after the murder had been committed. This style of mystery storytelling is called an inverted detective story or howcatchem. Columbo, another great detective show, followed a similar format.

Since most current police dramas are done in the whodunit style, Motive was exciting. You might think that finding out the identities of the victim and murderer at the beginning would ruin the show. However, it actually made the show more exciting because the writers would always put in a surprise that you totally weren’t expecting. You could be sitting there watching, thinking you know the connection between the victim and murderer but then there was a twist to the relationship that was completely unexpected.

We will miss this show and the characters. Kristin Lehman was fantastic as the lead detective. She always had excellent one liners to play off the rest of the cast. The relationship between Angie Flynn and Oscar Vega was an excellent example of friendship goals.

The other great part of this show was the location. Motive was filmed in Vancouver, Canada and it looks like a majestic city.

Vancouver, Canada

We hope to visit someday! Have you every watched Motive? What did you think of the show?

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TV Tuesday: The Catch

TV Tuesday: The Catch

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We hardly ever watch shows we haven’t seen commercials for, however there are exceptions. The Catch would be an exception. We were quite late in watching this show since it aired in the spring, however, it was only 9 episodes so it was easy to get caught up.

We hadn’t seen any hype for this show at all. All we knew was that it was a Shonda Rhimes produced show about a private investigator and that was the only reason we recorded the series. We love How To Get Away With Murder so we presumed we might like this show. But then time went on and The Catch drifted further and further down the playlist. We were surprised to see that one of the creators of the show was author Kate Atkinson, creator of the Jackson Brodie mysteries. At first, we though it might be a different woman with the same name, but this article from Radio Times confirms they are one in the same.

At last, we watched The Catch and we enjoyed it. We liked the cat and mouse story line between Alice Vaughn, played by Mireille Enos, and Alice’s fiancee (Christopher Hall, aka Benjamin Jones), played by Peter Krause. We were not familiar with Enos however we did like Krause in Parenthood.

the-catch

The Catch starts off as what you think is the perfect relationship between Alice and Christopher. She is a private investigator and he is supposedly a venture capitalist. However, what Alice doesn’t know is that she has been part of a con for over a year and Christopher is a part of it. She discovers this when he disappears without a trace. We learn that the case she has been working, where some of her clients have had millions stolen from them, was orchestrated by Benjamin and his fellow con artists, Reggie, played by Alimi Ballard, and Margot, played by Sonya Walger.

FBI Special Agent Jules Dao, played by Jacky Ido, enters the story and tells Alice that he has been tracking Christopher across Europe and had followed him to LA. Dao believes that Christopher is a murderer and wants Alice’s help to track him down.


This show is upbeat and fun. What could easily be a tale of obsessive revenge turns instead into a light-hearted cross between Ocean’s Eleven and Romeo and Juliet. As the show progresses, you start to wonder how realistic the relationship between Alice and Christopher is. How can Alice still love a man who 1. Stole millions from her customers 2. Didn’t tell her his real name and 3. Continues to be a conman? Seems kinda ridiculous, but maybe love is ridiculous? What is going on in that girl’s head?

Towards the end of the first season, the series is saved by a pair of guest stars. The first guest star we loved is Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, who plays a skilled counterfeiter. She brought more humor and another interesting storyline back to the series. The other guest star that we loved was Lesley Nichol, aka Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, who played the mother of Margot and her evil brother Rhys. The addition of Nichol was a surprise, especially her little cameo as a chef. We love her humor.

Overall, we liked the first season of The Catch and we will probably watch the second season. We hope that the story picks up and has some more variety in the coming season.

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Going Bodmin for Doc Martin

Going Bodmin for Doc Martin

posted in: British, Entertainment, Television | 5 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Doc Martin is among my favorite television shows of all time. Part medical drama, part comedy, part quirky British gem, Doc Martin is set in the fictional town of Portwenn, Cornwall.

The character of Doc Martin was originally born in the 2000 movie, Saving Grace, starring Vera‘s Brenda Bleythen, and former The Late Late Show host, Craig Ferguson. However, the Doc Martin of television fame, played by Martin Clunes, is completely different from his original big screen inspiration.

I first came upon Doc Martin while channel surfing. I saw a burly plumber resting and chatting away while his son fixed the plumbing and a man in a suit with piercing blue eyes and plump cheeks interrogated them in a rather rude way. The burly plumber was in no way disturbed by the man in the suit and the son was not disturbed by his father’s apparent slothfulness. Everyone was in their little own world; this was interesting television.

doc-martin-review

The plumbers turned out to be Al and Bert Large and the man in the suit was Doc Martin himself. But those three characters are only a small part of the big cast of Doc Martin. There is also Louisa Glasson, played by Caroline Catz, an elementary school teacher and Doc Martin’s long-suffering true love. Mrs. Tischell, played by Selina Cadell, is the town’s pharmacist whose zealous obsession with Doc Martin is apparent to all but her beloved.

Not to be forgotten are Doc Martin’s aunts: first Joan, played by Stephanie Cole, a farmer and later bed and breakfast proprietor through series 5; then Ruth, played by Eileen Atkins, a retired psychiatrist for the criminally insane whose dry wit adds a lot to the show. Both Ruth and Joan act as emotional touchstones for Martin, to whom social niceties and nuances are often viewed as irrelevant until he has a word with one of these matriarchs.

There is also the town’s policeman: Mark Mylow, played by Stewart Wright, in series 1-2, and then Joe Penhale, played by John Marquez, since series 3. Both police constables have a knack for incompetence at the worst possible moment. Lastly, there is Doc Martin’s assistant, played by Lucy Punch, Katherine Parkinson, and most recently, Jessica Ransom. The assistant is always a local girl whose big personality strikes a strong contrast with the Doc’s more stuffy and formal nature.


Doc Martin used to be available to watch for free as a perk of Amazon Prime membership and with that, I was able to watch seasons 1-5. Unfortunately, Amazon has since removed Doc Martin from it’s Prime list, probably due to it’s popularity. Luckily, last Christmas, I received the box set of Doc Martin from Costco, and Season 7 from Acorn TV before it aired on our local PBS station. That was a real treat.

Season 8 is set to air in 2017. It is supposed to be the final season, which of course is sad, but the show has really progressed over the seven seasons so far and it does seem it would be a good place to wrap up the series. The conflict between Doc Martin and Louisa can be quite wearisome to watch, perhaps because it is too much like real-life.

That being said, Doc Martin is a must-watch for any fan of quirky British television. It has changed my life for the better, allowing me to spend hours doubled over in laughter at the antics of life in a tiny town in Cornwall.

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On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part II: Person of Interest

On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part II: Person of Interest

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

About a month ago, we wrote Part I on our thoughts about being loyal fans to a show and our feelings about the series finale, specifically about The Good Wife. Today, in Part II, we wanted to talk about Person of Interest.

Person of Interest was a great mystery, sci-fi, peek into the future, big brother mashup. Although this show kind of made us paranoid about being watched by an artificial intelligence, it was propelled by brilliant characters and great storylines.

Throughout the five seasons, we never missed an episode. We followed the progression of Harold,the creator of The Machine played by Michael Emerson*, and John Reese, the muscle/investigator/enforcer played by Jim Caviezel. Harold’s machine watches over the people of New York City and notifies Harold about those whose “number” has come up and are in imminent danger. Harold and Mr. Reese then had to discover why they were in danger. (*As a side note, Harold Finch’s fiancée, Grace Hendricks, was played by Michael Emerson’s actual wife, Carrie Preston. Preston also played Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife, whom we talked about in Part I.)

Person of Interest Review

Eventually, we were introduced to Detective Fusco, played by Kevin Chapman, and Detective Carter, played by Taraji P. Henson, who assisted Harold and Mr. Reese by searching police databases for case information and often provided much needed backup. When Carter died, we knew the show could never be the same. She was so sassy and the main source of morality for the show. Still, there were other characters who compensated for this loss. We really loved Shaw, a reformed assassin played by Sarah Shahi, and Root, a coding genius whose devotion to the Machine was unmatched, played by Amy Acker. We loved how awkward they were but also that they were truth seekers and defenders.

The writing of this show was also excellent. Even though each episode focused on one person whose “number” had come up, the show didn’t feel at all cookie cutter. We always wanted to know the interesting ways in which the person had either put themselves in danger or were about to perpetrate a crime.


(*Spoiler Alert* Do not read if you haven’t watched the finale.)

The last couple of episodes were tearjerkers. In Episode 10, we cried when Root sacrificed herself so the group could continue their fight against Samaritan. However, our sadness didn’t last too long since The Machine decided to take Root’s voice to speak for her at the end of this episode. We cried again in the finale when Mr. Reese sacrificed himself to ensure the destruction of Samaritan and so Harold could live. ?

However, there were also some happy moments. We got closure about Harold when we saw him go to Italy to be reunited his true love, Grace. We also saw Fusco in the finale, alive and well, forever changed by his transformation from crooked cop to brash hero. The ending of the finale made us smile. The image of Shaw walking the streets of New York City with Bear and then answering a pay phone to talk to The Machine/Root was the perfect ending to a thought-provoking and entertaining series. It gave us a slight sense of hope there might be a spinoff, but it is doubtful.

In the clip below, Executive Producer Greg Plageman answers some final questions from the viewers.

 

In stark contrast to the finale of The Good Wife, we felt the series finale of Person of Interest was perfect. In an interview with Buzzfeed earlier this year, Jonathan Nolan said “… We’re going to tell the end of this story, in such a way that doesn’t slam the door shut on the universe of the show — that wouldn’t be a fitting end to the show anyway. But telling a final season in such a way that it would leave everyone satisfied with the story that we told.”  We were definitely satisfied with the ending and we thank Mr. Nolan and all the writers and producers for that.

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Graceland Stars: Where Are They Now?

Graceland Stars: Where Are They Now?

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After our post about new fall shows we were excited about, we made the realization that a lot of the stars from Graceland are in new shows this fall.

top-new-fall-tv-shows

Related: The top 7 new fall shows we’re excited about!

 

Before we get to where are they now, let’s first recap, what was Graceland? Graceland was a show on USA that some of you may have heard of, about a house on the beach that had residents from several different government organizations (FBI, DEA, and ATF) that were supposed to work together undercover to catch bad guys. This show had a lot of drama but it also had excellent writing. Some characters were likable, like Charlie and Johnny, while others were unpleasant, like Paul and Mike.

The Graceland Cast, back at the beginning of the show in 2013

Graceland survived for three seasons as a summer show, but after last summer, the show was cancelled which made us sad. Like seeds scattered in the wind, the stars have found new roles on other shows and we are very happy for them! Here is a rundown of who ended up where:

Paul played by Daniel Sunjata

Daniel Sunjata is now starring in Notorious on ABC as a powerful attorney. It appears as though he plays another unlikable character in this show but who knows, maybe the show is good. It also stars one of our favorite actresses, Piper Perabo! We haven’t had a chance to watch the premiere yet.

Daniel Sunjata with Special Agent Annie Walker Piper Perabo

Mike played by Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit starred in BrainDead, a political satire show that aired this summer. BrainDead was created by Michelle and Robert King who also created The Good Wife. We have previously expressed our feelings about the conclusion of The Good Wife and therefore have mixed feelings about this show. It has been relegated to the bottom of the playlist on the DVR and we haven’t watched it yet. Tveit also starred in the FOX’s Grease: Live in February.

Aaron Tveit with BrainDead co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the Tony Awards in June

Charlie played by Vanessa Ferlito

Charlie was our favorite character on Graceland. Vanessa Ferlito made you feel like Charlie was a normal person trying to do the right thing. We hadn’t seen her in anything recently and then the other night we saw the last ten minutes of NCIS: New Orleans and there she was! Our hearts jumped for joy. We are not devoted fans to NCIS: New Orleans like we are to NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, however that will have to change now. We watched the first episode and we definitely think she brings a much need edge to the show.

 

Johnny played by Manny Montana

Johnny was also very likable on Graceland and his facial expressions were the best of the cast. When we were watching the trailer for Conviction, we shouted in joy and got really excited to see Manny Montana. It looks like he will be bringing his passion and excellent facial expressions to this show also.

 

Jakes played by Brandon Jay McLaren

Last season on Chicago Fire, Brandon Jay McLaren had a small guest role as a former gangster turned politician. We barely recognized him without his signature hair. He will be starring in a new CBS show in 2017 called Ransom, that is being filmed in his home country of Canada. He will play a psychological profiler.

 

Paige played by Serinda Swan

The only star from Graceland not to be in any current or recent shows is Serinda Swan. She too made an appearance on Chicago Fire, back in 2014. It looks like she will be in some upcoming movies but no new shows so far this year.

 

Were you a fan of Graceland? Who was your favorite character?


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Woof Trekking Dispatch #10: Longmire in Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #10: Longmire in Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Entertainment, On the Road, Television, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The newest season of Longmire premieres this Friday, September 23rd, on Netflix. We were devoted fans to this show while it was airing on A&E, but we might be one of the few people on Earth that doesn’t subscribe to Netflix, so we haven’t seen Season 4.

We did have the pleasure of seeing Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Craig Johnson at the Tucson Festival of Books last year.

Please Be Seated

You can see our blog post about their panel here. The show is based off a book series by Johnson based in a fictional town in Wyoming. However, they film the series in various locations in New Mexico.

This past January we were on a road trip to Colorado and we stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico for lunch. On a whim, we decided to take a detour into the Old Town and see where some of Longmire is filmed.

The town of Las Vegas is fairly small, with a population of just over 14,000 people. Despite this, the town has a lot of history. In this town alone, there are 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. This NY Times article from 2007 gives an excellent description of the historic town.


At the heart of the Old Town Plaza is the Plaza Hotel that was built in 1882.
The Plaza Hotel
If you are looking at the hotel, you can turn to your left and cross S. Pacific Street and you are at the front door of the Sheriff’s Department of Durant, Wyoming in Absaroka County.
Approaching the Sheriff's Department
Here is a close up of the door. The door was locked when we visited, and also, to our surprise, we were the only ones interested in the building and door. We might have looked like some crazy strangers, if you didn’t know that Longmire was filmed here.
Knocking on Longmire's Door
The details on the door were amazing to us, since all the lettering was left in place even when they weren’t currently filming.
Close up of the Sheriff's Department Badge
This building was originally built in 1895 by the Veeder brothers who were attorneys and community leaders. Their office was on the second floor and a grocery store was on the first.
Wyoming in New Mexico!
The Plaza was pretty empty when we visited, probably because it was January and freezing. Christmas lights still hung in the trees. 🙂 The park benches are featured pretty regularly in Longmire.
The Old Town Park
Here is the official trailer for Season 5 and you can see Ferg and Vic sitting in the Old Town Plaza at the 0:46 mark.

Izzy loved running around the Plaza with the cool, winter air flowing through her ears.
Izzy Enjoying Las Vegas, New Mexico
This sculpture is called Nuestra Senora de los Dolores and was carved by Margarito Mondragon out of a dying Chinese Elm tree that was in the park. You can read more about this piece of artwork in the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation Newsletter here.
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores
This second sculpture is called El Campesino by Peter Lopez. You can see a video of the different stages of the creation of the sculpture on the YouTube channel of Main Street de Las Vegas here.
longmire-9
If you are ever in the area, it is totally worth it to take a little side trip to see this location.

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Top 7 New TV Shows To Watch Fall 2016

Top 7 New TV Shows To Watch Fall 2016

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September has arrived and with September comes new television shows. This fall’s new show lineup looks promising, however, we are a bit wary of getting our hearts broken. There have been so many good shows that were cancelled after just one season, namely: Limitless, Forever, Backstrom, and American Odyssey. Here are seven new shows that look great to us, but we’ll try not to get too invested in, just in case the networks try to pull something evil on us.

1. Bull

Premieres Tuesday, September 20th at 9/8 on CBS.
We loved Michael Weatherly in NCIS and combine him with a legal drama should be excellent.

 

2. Speechless

Premieres Wednesday, September 21st at 8:30/7:30 on ABC.
Minnie Driver was one of the first British actress we fell in love with. (Return to Me is sooo good, if you’re into Rom-Coms.) Mason Cook is one of the three children in the show, and we was very good in Legends (cancelled after 2 seasons on TNT). Micah Fowler is an actor who has Cerebral Palsy and is playing JJ in show, you can read more about him here.

 

3. Notorious

Premieres Thursday, September 22nd at 9/8 on ABC.
We were so sad when Covert Affairs and Graceland were cancelled by USA. We became big fans of Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata. Now we can be happy again since they are in a show together.

 

4. Conviction

Premieres Monday, October 3rd at 10/9 on ABC.
This show looks like it has a lot of drama but the supporting cast is why we will watch. We have got Eddie Cahill from CSI: NY, Merrin Dungey from Alias, and Manny Montana from Graceland.

 

5. The Good Place

Premieres Monday, September 19th at 10/9 on NBC.
Ted Danson has always been funny and a show about life after death should be intriguing. Also, the usage of substitute cuss words will always make us laugh.

 

6. American Housewife

Premieres Tuesday, October 11th at 8:30/9:30 on ABC.
Diedrich Bader is also always amazing, so just the fact that he is in this is show, will have us watching. Remember Rex Kwon Do from Napoleon Dynamite?

 

7. This is Us

Premieres Tuesday, September 20th at 10/9 on NBC.
This show looks like a study of people and that is always interesting to lifelong people watchers. One of the stars is Sterling K. Brown, who we fell in love with in as Roland Burton on Army Wives (another awesome show that was cancelled).

What new show are you excited for?

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Professing Our Love for The Great British Bake Off

Professing Our Love for The Great British Bake Off

posted in: British, Entertainment, Television | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The Great British Bake Off (or as it is known in the US, the Great British Baking Show) is an amazing television show. If you are unfamiliar, you might have guessed it is all about baking. In the US, it is shown on PBS and depending on where you live, you may have already seen series 6, are currently watch series 6, or your local PBS station hasn’t shown it yet. Our station just started showing it last week.

We started watching the show in 2013 after hearing about it in an interview with Tom Mison who was getting ready to star in Sleepy Hollow (another of our favorite shows). Immediately, we fell in love with GBBO as we increased our tea consumption and learned many new words not frequently used in the US such as courgette, sultanas, Stilton, and caster sugar.

the-great-british-bake-off-review

The Basics

Each series, or season as we call it in the US, has 10-13 contestants from all over the United Kingdom who are home bakers. Each episode consists of a Signature Challenge, Technical Challenge and Showstopper Challenge. The contestants know what the Signature Challenge and Showstopper Challenge will be prior to the weekend that they congregate in the tent. Contestants can practice and perfect it by baking it several times during the week, while the Technical Challenge is an unknown recipe chosen by one of the judges.

What Makes It Special

The Great British Bake Off is unlike any American competitive cooking show. The typical formula for an American competitive cooking show involves one part drama, one part backstabbing and one part acting. In this amazing show, the only drama comes from you sitting at home, crossing your fingers hoping the bakes come out just right. There is no backstabbing or acting, though there was a little thing called #bingate back in 2014. (We should also mention that there was an attempt at an American equivalent called The American Baking Competition, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, which only lasted one season in 2013. It was not as good.)

Paul Hollywood is the dark and mysterious judge. You can’t tell what he is thinking behind the steel blue eyes; this makes the contestants cringe and makes us laugh. Mary Berry is the other judge that is like an eclectic grandma; you aren’t entirely sure what she is going to say and likes to drop some innuendos every once and awhile.

The hosts, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, are hilarious. We discovered, after some internet research, that they met while going to Cambridge and have been working together for over 20 years. This long time partnership is evident when they play off each other. They are also very punny, which is totally our kind of humor.

The Future?

Yesterday, we saw that the BBC lost the rights to air the series after the current series 7. This news struck fear into our hearts but Love Productions, the company that makes the show, has apparently signed a three year deal with Channel 4. Phew! This article also says that the first show on the new channel will be a celebrity edition, which sounds intriguing. We just hope that PBS will continue to air our beloved GBBO!

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On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part I: The Good Wife

On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part I: The Good Wife

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple of our favorite television shows came to an end this year. We enjoy a wide variety of shows: comedies, dramas, dramadies, and even some science fiction. In summary, if the show has likable characters and great writing, we will watch it. Today we wanted to talk about the series finale of The Good Wife.

the good wife review

The Good Wife aired for seven seasons and for seven faithful seasons, we watched. We watched the progression of Alicia from standing by her cheating State’s Attorney husband to going back to work as a defense attorney to running for State’s Attorney herself. We loved the smart writing, the twists and turns that kept us guessing, and the fantastic, quirky characters. Every time Carrie Preston starred in an episode as Elsbeth Tascioni, you knew it was time to nestle down into the couch for an supreme hour of tv watching.


Another funny character was Louis Canning, played by Michael J. Fox, a rival lawyer who exploits his neurological condition whenever it is legally expedient, particularly in front of a jury. Canning was always up to something and had a questionable moral code. Speaking of moral codes, we also loved Eli Gold, played by Alan Cumming. He had the best facial expressions on the show.

 
We were very sad when it was announced in February that the seventh season was going to be the last. We were even more sad when we actually watched the season finale. The final scene with Diane slapping Alicia and then walking away was an awful ending to a series that brought us so much joy. The internet agrees with this assessment. We wanted some kind of closure. Instead it left us hanging and slightly bitter at the writers. In fact, it’s a reason why we have yet to dig into BrainDead which has been collecting dust in our DVR for a while now.

There were so many unanswered questions. Does Alicia find true love? What happens to Peter? What’s next for Alicia’s career? Her children? What happens to Eli and his daughter Marissa?


After the finale, it was announced that there was going to be a spinoff, which got our hopes up that we would get more of Elsbeth Tascioni and Louis Canning, but our hopes were slightly dashed when we found out it is centered around Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo as their characters, Diane Lockhart and Lucca Quinn. But who knows, there may be hope: ‘The Good Wife’ Spin-Off: Michael J. Fox, Steele, Preston. The spinoff is set to debut in the spring of 2017 and will be on the CBS online channel, All Access. For more Good Wife Spinoff News, check out this article from The Hollywood Reporter: Christine Baranski Talks ‘Good Wife’ Spinoff and Why She Was “Shaken” by That Finale Slap.

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The Tunnel Series 1 Review: Grim UK-France Crossover with a Quality Detective Partnership

The Tunnel Series 1 Review: Grim UK-France Crossover with a Quality Detective Partnership

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The Tunnel recently wrapped up on our local PBS station. The following is our reveiw; it has some slight spoilers, but nothing major. It should be just enough to give you a basic flavor for the 10 episode series.

The show starts at the midpoint of the Chunnel (aka The Channel Tunnel) where a body is found half on the UK side and half on the French side. The Tunnel is based upon the Swedish-Danish show Bron/Broen. There was also an American-Mexican version that we had not previously heard of called The Bridge. All three series start with this premise.

Clemence Poesy is transformed from enchanting part-Veela Fleur Delacour of Harry Potter fame to Elise Wassermann, a cold, cerebral French cop with a hint of Rain Man about her. This was our first meeting with Stephen Dillane who plays Poesy’s English counterpart, Karl Roebuck. Dillane too has a Harry Potter connection, with his son, Frank, playing Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Roebuck’s wife, Laura, is played by Angel Coulby who we know and love as Guinevere from Merlin!


The antagonist of the series is a vigilante who torments citizens of both countries with violence supposedly justified as an attempt to illustrate the inequality of society. At first, the murders seem political, impersonal, and even pseudo-altruistic, but as the series progresses, the killer’s motive is revealed to have a much more personal origin.

While The Tunnel has some rather grim and depressing moments, its redeeming factor is the relationship between the easygoing, sociable Roebuck and the reserved, occasionally haughty Wassermann. By the end of the series, these two main characters are no longer such simple cutouts, but complex emotional creatures, fragility exposed and tragedy overcome. We look forward to the second series.

the tunnel

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Rio Olympics Kick Off and Our Adventures in Archery

Rio Olympics Kick Off and Our Adventures in Archery

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today’s the today! The Olympics are finally here and we couldn’t be more excited. We love watching all the different events, learning little factoids about different sports and about the people from all over the world.

A couple of interesting facts about this Olympics: this is the first time a team of refugees will compete under the Olympic flag and this is the first Olympics in South America. More interesting facts can be found here. Also, the time zone in Rio is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, in case you were wondering.

In the US, NBC and their affiliates will air Olympic coverage. On the NBC Olympics website, you can find out when your favorite sport will be on television. You can also see the medal counts and results of every event.

Our favorite event is archery. Growing up we took a class at the local archery range and were hooked. We practiced hard, shooting lots of arrows every week and eventually we went on to compete at state events and then on to several national tournaments across the country. Here are a couple snaps from the good ol’ days.

archery - 2

archery - 1

We loved the sport but eventually, the immense time commitment was outweighed by going to college. Even though we no longer shoot, we still follow the sport from afar.

Archery runs from today, August 5th, through next Friday, August 12. The Olympic archery schedule, live scores and photos can be found on the World Archery website. The event will be live streamed, but you can watch archery on NBC Sports Network and MSNBC tomorrow, according to http://www.nbcolympics.com/archery.

Already, there is news from Rio: Kim Woojin of South Korea has shot the first 700-point 70-metre round in history! Read more at World Archery. That’s a 97% accuracy rate, 230 feet from the target. Wow!

Recurve Archery has been an Olympic Sport since 1972, but was also contested in four previous Olympics: 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1920. The featured image of this post is from 1915, as found on Flickr.


When we started shooting, the most popular archery related reference was Lord of the Rings. Everyone wanted to be Legolas. Now the popularity of archery can be linked to Brave and The Hunger Games, encouraging lots of young women to take up the sport. ?

The US archery team at the Olympics is a men’s 3 member team (Brady Ellison, Zach Garrett, and Jake Kaminski) and one woman (Mackenzie Brown). We do not have a complete women’s team because we did not qualify in a team event earlier this year. While that is a bummer, it is still exciting that we have one US woman competing. You can see more about archery, US team members and videos here.

The archery venue in Rio is the Sambadrome, which will also be the starting and ending point of the marathon. The Sambadrome was originally built in 1984 for samba competitions during Carnival. You can read more about it on Wikipedia. See a photo of the location on the World Archery website here.

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Diana Gabaldon and Outlander: Cameos, and Cookbooks, and Claire Bears! Oh My!

Diana Gabaldon and Outlander: Cameos, and Cookbooks, and Claire Bears! Oh My!

posted in: Entertainment, Fiction, Our Work, Television, Writing | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

“Diana Gabaldon and Outlander” was the only ticketed panel we attended at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books. By the time the session started, there was not an empty chair in the 300-seat auditorium.

Here is Ms. Gabaldon, along with the moderator for the session, Barbara Peters, a friend of Ms. Gabaldon’s and the owner of The Poisoned Pen, an independent bookstore located in Scottsdale, AZ.

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diana gabaldon, starz, outlander, tucson festival of books

The Outlander series has been published in 42 countries and in 38 languages. The series has also been adapted into a television show that appears on the Starz Channel.

The show is currently streaming Season 1 right now for FREE!!!

From the time Outlander was published in 1991, Hollywood was very interested in creating an adaptation of the book. Ms. Gabaldon used these criteria to select the person she wanted working on a tv/movie adaptation of Outlander.

  1. Someone who has read the book
  2. Someone who has previously made a movie/tv show
  3. Someone who understands the book

Outlander, Book 1

In the end, Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek fame, fit the bill. He is the executive producer of the Outlander television series. It took 2 years of negotiation with Sony to make the show a reality.

Mr. Moore had previously signed a three pilot contract with Sony and the first two pilots he had created were not picked up. Outlander was his last shot.

Sony liked the pilot and agreed to produce the show. You can see Ronald in “Set Tour with Diana Gabaldon” below. Mr. Moore also creates a podcast to go along with each episode of Outlander, which can be found here.

diana gabaldon, starz, outlander, tucson festival of books

In Season 1, Episode 4 of the Outlander TV series, “The Gathering,” Ms. Gabaldon appeared as a guest star. She was originally going to play an extra in a crowd. However, if she did that then she would have to stand in the same spot for three days. Instead, they created a small speaking role for her, Iona MacTavish, that only required one day on set.

You can read more about Ms. Gabaldon’s cameo experience on her blog at My Brief Career As A TV Actor (Part I) and (Part II). Below is a clip of Ms. Gabaldon’s cameo, along with her commentary.

 

diana gabaldon, starz, outlander, tucson festival of books

In the above photo, along with the first image on this post, you can see the Claire Wedding Bear, released by Sony and created by the North American Bear Company. You can read more about the Claire Bear at Diana Gabaldon’s website and purchase an autographed bear on the Poisoned Pen’s website.

On June 14, 2016, the Outlander Kitchen will be available. It was written by chef and food writer Theresa Carle-Sanders. Ms. Carle-Sanders was a fan of the Outlander books and created recipes to the food items mentioned in them and posted them to her blog, which led to the cookbook. There is also an Outlander Coloring Book by Diana Gabaldon.

diana gabaldon, starz, outlander, tucson festival of books

Ms. Gabaldon is currently working on the ninth book of the Outlander series, which does not yet have a title. In the above photo, she is reading the audience an excerpt during the session.

She read the excerpt, “Moonlight and Howling,” which is available, along with other Book Nine excerpts, on Ms. Gabaldon’s webpage under the hashtag: #BookNine.

A few more nuggets from the panel:

  • Ms. Gabaldon wrote an episode for the upcoming season, Season 2, Episode 11.
  • Ms. Gabaldon doesn’t own the merchandise rights to anything related to her show; Sony does.
  • Ms. Gabaldon uses first person accounts as a base for intense content in her books like fight scenes and psychological damage after trauma.
  • Ms. Gabaldon writes 6-7 chunks of the story then moves them around to form the final book. It takes about 18 months to see the shape of the book, and it takes 2-3 years to complete a book.

We had a wonderful time at the panel and really enjoyed listening to Ms. Gabaldon.

By the way, on Thursday, April 7, USA Today will be hosting a live chat with Diana Gabaldon at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT. Read more at USA Today.

Are you a fan of Outlander? Let me know in the comments below!

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Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

 

I did not intend to watch Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

But on a whim, I decided to give the show a shot after Orphan Black.

I had some concerns about the dark filmography in the opening minutes, but soon it became apparent that the true color in the show came from the dynamic characters.

I have the book on hold from the library though it is quite a long read.

I love a good television series based on a book series, as I have previously blogged about.

Here is my take on this fantastic mini-series:

Two Magicians: Toad and Otter

At the beginning of the series, Norrell is such a sour character ruled by fear and insecurity, trying to control magic (and perhaps life in general) through order and secrecy. He attempts to shield himself from life, preferring the company of his books.

He resembles a sour toad (perhaps due to his wig?), always frowning and saying “No, no, no!” to Strange, like a strict parent with a petulant child.

Strange could not be more the opposite. He is happy, childlike and full of wonder.

While Norrell is like a frowny toad splashing about in a puddle of mud, Strange is like an otter, playful and curious, frolicking in a flowing river. The Norrell-Strange dynamic is classic old school vs. new school.

Strange follows his intuition and trusts (perhaps too easily) while Norrell believes he has seen it all and knows it all.

Magicians Develop

Slowly but surely through the episodes, tension builds between the magicians. But by the finale, you can see what has always been there. They need each other.

It was spectacular. Norrell finally lets his hair down, or at least his wig becomes wildly out of sorts. He is completely transformed. In a way, he seems restored to a younger version of himself – more carefree and open to adventure.

Strange shows him the lighter side of life and Norrell shares his wisdom with Strange. It really is a bit of a bromance between them.

But more than that, Norrell is such a symbol for how many of us are living today.

We should be so lucky to encounter a character such as Strange to inspire us to live life to the fullest again.

The Triumph of “Minor” Characters (Transformations are not just for Magicians)

Watching the transformation of Drawlight and Lascelles was quite a delight. They seemed to be such minor characters at the onset of the series, but developed into pivotal characters by the final episode of the series. It was a wonder to watch.

There was not an abundance of female characters, but ones that were present were strong and determined. The word “stalwart” comes to mind. Lady Pole and Arabella are intelligent women who know what they want and will work as hard as needed to get it – no matter what life (and the magical world) throws at them.

I kept thinking Childermass was the Raven King, I guess because of his appearance. He is the ultimate dark horse in the show. He’s so opaque; you never know quite where his mind is at. Yet somehow you find yourself trusting him completely. You know he is on the side of right.

When you first meet Vinculus, you’re like – who is this crazy man? His story continues to become more and more unlikely as the season progresses… in the most mind-bending and exciting way. Just genius stuff.

Lastly to say goodbye to The Gentleman and witness the rise of Stephen was so rewarding! Marc Warren was so creepy as the Gentleman! I uttered a little scream every time he popped up unexpectedly on the screen. One of the most insidious, sinister characters on television I have seen lately.

With regard to the nameless slave, Stephen, from the first time he was summoned by the Gentleman, you could not help but feel his suffering. Every week you witnessed and experienced his grief and powerlessness vicariously. It was soul crushing. What a high to see him crush the Gentleman and see Stephen completely empowered! Long live the Nameless Slave!

The brief appearance of the Raven King was quite bewitching. His understated way of doing magic… he just gushed power and control, didn’t he? The way he just tweaked two or three little things and changed the whole course of history – impressive.

Keeping so many characters in play and interesting… well that’s just great television!

As a kid who grew up with Harry Potter, seeing magic in such a different light was truly a delight.

It is a series I will not soon forget.

We are all magicians!

We must use our powers to bewitch the BBC into renewing the spellbinding Strange and Norrell for another season of magic, friendship, love and adventure!

Let me know your thoughts about Strange & Norrell in the comments below!

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