now watching

by now the fact that i don't have television has become a conversation piece. it is apparently a state which sparks curiosity: unlike people who claim, for example, that they just watch cable, or that they never watch anything on local networks, i say i have no television altogether, and am completely oblivious about the most recent commercial, or what happened the night previous on either "binondo girl" or "survivor". i've explained my choice not to have television, as opposed to having one but refusing to sit in front of it: it is because my nature will most likely prevent me from doing anything productive if i did get myself a set and subscription to sky. i am a couch potato through and through and can spend an entire day glued to the small screen. so deciding not to get TV despite the ridiculously low prices of LCDs these days is my commitment to getting things done: an evening run, preparing myself a decent meal, opening a book, writing.

but i do get entertained a lot despite not having the boob tube. i just scoot on over to my friendly DVD pirate in MCS and get myself a complete season of a recent series. i would devour an entire TV show in the course of a few days: i have possibly the lowest EQ in my building, because i don't believe in suspense, and i'd like to get to the end as fast as possible. these days, however, i've managed to save myself a few pesos by downloading more stuff: i finally got the workaround on frostwire, and with wi-tribe removing its fair usage policy (they used to cut down my bandwidth when i exceeded 15GB), i can torrent to my heart's content. so these are the shows that have kept me company lately.

"big bang theory" is now on its fifth season, and i'm as far away from being a physicist as the earth is from mars, but at least five friends who also watch the show have compared me to dr. sheldon cooper. the comparison most likely has nothing to do with sheldon's apparent genius, but i have an obsession with trivial things which i have no shame in sharing, and i have no qualms in admitting that i do it to illustrate that 1) i read a lot; 2) i have a very keen sense of observation; 3) and i remember many of the things i read and observe. people say i have a photographic memory, and i am quick to correct them: i have eidetic memory, no matter that it's selective, since i choose to forget many things and no data recovery software can find them in my brain. so back to the show: this has got to be one of the funniest shows ever conceived. certainly the best that's currently showing, and i'm glad they're doing at least 2 seasons more. by watching the show, i'm able to liberate the inner geek in me.

i actually finished watching this series about a genius who pretends and succeeds in making people believe that he's a harvard law graduate last year. the premise of "suits" is a little difficult to accept, it may very well be science fiction: a guy somehow manages to get himself hired as a lawyer when he in fact never went to law school, and coasts his way through a highly competitive law firm and somehow survives the practice, relying on his eidetic memory and street-bred smarts. yes, it does sound implausible, and i'd be the first to dismiss it because no one can just hack the study of law, but it has happened. some guy many years ago just took review classes for a year and passed the bar afterwards, prompting the supreme court to promulgate rules requiring that everyone applying to take the bar exams should have finished a law degree from a recognized college. and we needn't go far: this happened in the philippines.

i have a hazy memory of TV shows from my childhood that featured lawyers, but i cannot say that i was not influenced by shows like "ally mcbeal" and "the practice" (both from the same creator). and the influence may not have been in a good way because they made me expect that litigation was quick and full of action. let me tell you that i wanted to get out of that very quickly unless i kill myself out of boredom. but there have been few legal dramas lately that caught my attention, and "damages", for which glenn close has won a few emmys, is one of them. patty hewes (close) is a scheming but brilliant attorney who resorts to means not completely legal to get results. that's really not unusual, since all good lawyers do that, which also means that anyone not wanting to do bad things should leave the practice of law to those with the stomach for it. i love the way the show tells you from the very beginning what happened in the end, but holds you in suspense for over several episodes before you discover how it got there.

of course, who doesn't love glee? well, a lot of people, apparently, and i really don't see why they hate this show so much. like i said before, i'm a gleek, and i love everything the show comes up with. the creators have said that this will be the last season for some of glee's mainstays: kurt, rachel, finn, mike, tina, quinn (who else?). they're set to graduate this year, and in order to keep the show real, they'd have to leave mckinley high. since they've been renewed for a few more seasons, i don't know really how the audience will react to an entirely new cast, but there have been overtures of future story arcs. let's see if people will keep watching even when practically half of the original cast move on to college... or will glee have a college edition?

it's hard to believe that ryan murphy and brad falchuck, who are responsible for glee are also the same creative geniuses behind the dark psychosexual thriller "american horror story". when i was watching this, i asked a friend when it would get scary: and it never was, in the japanese horror flick kind of way. i never screamed or turned off the show while watching it in the middle of the night. but this show has got to be possessed, or left a visual footprint in my brain, because the day i watched the last episode, i had difficulty sleeping, and when i finally did, i had the worst nightmare of my life: it was as if i was being dragged on the floor, a sensation that continued even after i opened my eyes. in that nightmare, i saw some of the show's characters. i want to delete the entire season from my hard drive, seriously. although the show did get so impossible at one point (too much murder), i was so drawn to this show. the ensemble cast is amazing. dylan mcdermott (whom i loved in "the practice") plays a doctor whose family moves into a haunted house. there are so many interesting ghosts in the house, but one of the most interesting is moira, who appears as an old, dusty maid with one bad eye to women, but is seen by men as a seductive vixen in a french maid uniform. the show defies even the internal logic that it has created for itself, but the acting is superb, and none more powerful than from veteran jessica lange as the spooky, nosy neighbor who seems to know too much, and hides just as many secrets. zachary quinto's appearance amuses me as well. for horror genre buffs, watching this show is like being an a trivia quiz show, there are homages to classic thrillers in every episode, like "nightmare on elm street" in the burnt face makeup above for example.

the comedy of "2 broke girls" is delivered in a manner similar to "big bang theory": through punchy one liners. but while the bunch of socially inept scientific geniuses makes me laugh, 2 waitresses with odd backgrounds working in a diner with a boss who is a sketch of a korean immigrant, a sexually-depraved russian cook, and a black cashier who's as ghetto as the bronx, leave me wondering why i'm not in chorus with the canned laughter. i think the problem has to do with the acting. they're not the best at what they do, and it's just impossible for everyone to be always fully armed with quips: not everyone's as witty as me. although i didn't like this show too much, i did watch it till the end of the season, which is something i can't say for "the new girl". i just wan't into that.

if a show actually makes kids with brooms, pointed hats, and wands, and who shout incantations like wingardiam leviosa seem cool, then you seriously have a problem. "the secret circle" is so poorly conceived and poorly acted and badly executed that anyone who loved "the craft" could be forgiven. in fact, that may have been the inspiration, since they both start out the same way. for some odd reason though, i just keep watching this show, anticipating its cancellation.

there is renewed interest in fairy tales in a few new shows. the premise for some of them is this: that fairy tales are true and that they aren't always fairy tales because they don't usually have a happy ending. first is "grimm" which introduces us to a descendant of a long line of detectives, or grimms, if you will. they're able to see people for what they truly are: as some character in a fairy tale, normally big bad wolves. his job is to police the ranks of these creatures and make sure they don't make trouble for the rest of us, and many of them do. it draws inspiration from the origin of these fairy tales: the brothers grimm actually gave us stories that were dark, and not suited for children. but hans christian andersen and other early versions of walt disney came in and made these stories accessible to children. i'm not sure if this will be renewed for another season. i'm not loving it so much.

once upon a time there lived a scriptwriter with an uncooked idea who found producers who loved sushi, and they gave us "once upon a time". although decidedly better conceived than "grimm", my main complaint about these fairy tale characters who are trapped in modern day maine after the evil queen curses all of them to lose their happy endings is that the evil queen is prettier than snow white, the huntsman is more dashing than prince charming, and there have been clearly no attempts to introduce dwarfs into society yet. i'm still waiting for it to get exciting.

it feels so long ago, but there really was a time when becoming part of the cabin crew was a much coveted dream. i had an aunt who told me i should take care of my teeth so i would have a fighting chance of being a flight steward. i may have secretly desired it until i took my first flight in 1997. but in the 60s, the beginning of the "jet age", stewardesses were a unique lot: young, sophisticated, beautiful, they live interesting lives and traveled the world. this dramatization of the lives of pan american airlines crew is very interesting. i just want to know whether there is any accuracy in their depiction of airports and airplanes from the 60s. i would sure hope to get some of that glamor back into flying. these days, you can't shake off the feeling of being cattle, even on business class.

i've loved jim caviezel since "thin red line", and although i didn't manage to finish "the prisoner" (despite him starring opposite sir ian mckellen), his more recent portrayal of an ex-CIA agent in jonathan nolan's "person of interest" is more compelling. the series seems to be a cross between "eagle eye" and "minority report" when a machine that monitors everyone's actions by scanning CCTVs, emails, phone conversations, SMS, etc. is able to predict whether someone will be involved in a gruesome crime either as victim or perpetrator. he's funded by a genius/billionaire who is able to get information about future events and they help in preventing it from happening. seems interesting enough.

i'm not sure if i identify more with sheldon or with neil caffrey in "white collar". neil is a very talented and good-looking artist, forger, art thief, and con-man who is employed by the FBI's white collar division to help them solve white collar crimes (think ponzi schemes, which is also a theme in "damages" and "2 broke girls") and things which fall under neil's field of specialization. or maybe i just want to be him: cultured, sophisticated, has good taste in wine, dresses extremely well. the show is pretty educational too, i'm not sure if it's an accurate depiction of how these schemes are accomplished.

greedy industrialists seek to strip a new world of its resources. futuristic technology is utilized in a primitive, savage world. unspeakable and dangerous creatures threaten human beings. i'm not talking about "avatar", but one of steven spielberg's forays into television. with this first he serves us a prehistoric soup that borrows lots of props and special effects from "jurassic park" with "terra nova". the earth in 2149 is in the verge of environmental collapse, so its citizens are being sent back to the past through a fracture in time, hoping to restart the human race "correctly". with the past, we say 38 million years ago. the star of this show should have been the dinosaurs, but they have limited exposure here as humans retain much of their instincts and create lots of trouble for themselves. the similarity with "avatar" doesn't just end with the premise: even the new colony's leadership structure and set design take leaves from the james cameron blockbuster. commander taylor is in charge, and scientists are attempting to understand this new world with modern machines (the transparent tablets are clearly borrowed from the new settlement in pandora -- or star trek, whatever the case may be). funny that their purpose in returning to this pre-jurassic period is for purposes of re-seeding earth, when, if theories were to be believed, all living things would be wiped out anyway either by a giant meteor or the ice age. but i guess at least humanity's assured a few million years.

who will forget nah wylie's first scene in "E.R."? well, charge it to good memory, but i remember that even though i'm not a huge fan of that medical drama. in this other steven spielberg-produced (ergo, big-budgeted) series, noah is unrecognizable: no longer cute, he's a history professor turned soldier in a ragtag resistance group fighting off an alien invasion, and the father of a 17-year old son. so apparently, everyone gets old, quick. unlike other alien invasion story arcs where creatures from outer space assimilate with the human race, humans are nearly wiped out in "falling skies", and it is up to these survivors to find a way to live and drive the aliens (skitters and mechs) away. and for a change, this is one of those few doomsday shows that don't feature zombies. it sounds really simple: kill aliens, forage for supplies, survive. but apparently it isn't: things are far more complicated than that as humans make it difficult for themselves (see "terra nova" above). the first season ends with noah's character walking into an alien ship. so at least we're assured there'll be a second season. or spielberg could just leave us hanging.

if you're spielberg, you aren't easily intimidated by something like "glee", which seems to have monopolized the musical on television genre, making "a kitchen musical" look like a tenuous attempt at giving singers acting jobs. but this new show (it's so new the first episode isn't going to be shown in the US until feb. 6, but i've seen it) is so different. it's like "fame", but with a lot more grit and sex in it. or maybe because "smash" is about the mounting of marilyn the musical. it casts katharine mcphee, who is so luminous on the show i was watching her mesmerized, with my mouth slightly open. it's very promising, having seen clips from future episodes. i can truly say that i will be eagerly awaiting each instalment every week.

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