TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.03

Title Crimes & Misdemeanors & Ex-BFs

Two-Sentence Summary Mindy is forced to ask her ex-boyfriend Cliff for legal help after getting served for not paying her taxes, but he only helps her after she lies about her and Danny ending their relationship. At the practice, Peter and Jeremy fight for Lauren’s affections with disastrous results for one of them.

Favorite Line “I can never repay you, and I don’t plan to.” (Mindy)

My Thoughts Sometimes I watch TV shows to intensely analyze every little detail, but sometimes I watch them for no other reason than they make feel good. The Mindy Project makes me feel good—it makes me laugh and smile and sigh in a way that is probably ridiculous at the wonderful stuff happening between Mindy and Danny. Yesterday I was having one of those days where I needed a little boost of happiness, and “Crimes & Misdemeanors & Ex-BFs” gave me exactly what I needed. Any other day, I might have found myself more annoyed with some of the strange things that happened plot-wise in this episode. But I can’t get too annoyed at a show that managed to make me genuinely feel good after a very long day.

Even the B-plot this week had at least one shining moment, which came to us courtesy of Adam Pally and his parade of horrible accents. I was in tears laughing at this; it may have been the funniest scene I’ve watched on TV so far this season. The rest of that plot suffered from the episode switch. (This was supposed to be the second episode.) We already knew Lauren chose Jeremy thanks to “Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis,” so this plot mattered even less than usual. But Peter’s accents and everyone’s exasperated reaction to Morgan claiming he didn’t make enough money to be taxed helped me enjoy the ensemble much more than I did last week.

Although the switching of episodes affected the timeline of the B-plot quite a bit, I can understand why the network chose to air things out of order. “Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis” was a stronger episode than “Crimes & Misdemeanors & Ex-BFs” for more reasons than just Rhea Perlman. The plotting was tighter, and the characters were a little more grounded than they were in this episode.

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TV Time: Castle 7.01

Welcome, fellow Castle fans, to my first episodic review of the season. I can’t wait to discuss every twist and turn along the way with all of you, because if this premiere was any indication of what’s in store for us, it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster!

SEAMUS DEVER, JON HUERTAS, STANA KATIC

Title Driven

Two-Sentence Summary As Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito embark on a two-month investigation into Castle’s wedding-day disappearance, they come across some disturbing evidence that points to him faking his own abduction. Castle’s reappearance raises more questions than answers when he wakes up with no memory of the two months he was missing.

Favorite Line “We’ll get there. We’ll find our way home.” (Castle)

My Thoughts I was in the camp of Castle fans who did not like last season’s finale at all. In fact, I disliked it so much that it made me approach this premiere with extreme caution. However, I would like to go on the record and say that I loved this premiere. It wasn’t perfect, but it genuinely captivated me. As I’ve said so many times, as long as I care about the characters, I can handle unanswered questions and even plot holes. And one thing “Driven” did remarkably well was make me feel for these characters—especially Beckett.

I can see where some might be frustrated at the plot of this episode. Like I said, it wasn’t perfect. My biggest complaint was the way everyone was so willing to believe the only explanation for Castle dropping the money in the dumpster was that he was doing this of his own free will. Did no one think he could be coerced in any way to do this stuff? You don’t need to have a gun pointed directly at your head to be threatened enough to do the things Castle did in this episode. I would have thought a group of detectives and the FBI would know enough to at least consider that possibility.

Also, Castle is a show that often likes to put its overarching plots on the backburner and balance them with “fun” episodes, which is usually okay, but won’t work in this case. This is one of those things that needs a presence in every episode until the mystery is solved. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see lighter Castle episodes, too (although I do favor the heavier stuff), but even those lighter episodes need at least one reminder of this mystery. I have faith, though, that it’s going to happen.

If nothing else, “Driven” was something new. It genuinely left me guessing from beginning to end, and for a show to still be able to do that in its seventh season is no small feat. All of the uncertainty felt a little much at times, but in the light of day after the episode aired, I think it’s cool that the mystery writer is now part of his own mystery. And let’s just get this out of the way now—it has to be 3XK, right? Who else would mess with these characters on such a personal, emotional level? The twisted nature of everything that happened—not just to Castle but even more so to Beckett—points towards 3XK, at least in my opinion.

Although “Driven” felt like something new for Castle, as an Alias fan, the last act of the episode felt like a story I know all too well. Were any fellow Alias fans having “The Telling” flashbacks, or was it just me? From Beckett telling Castle he was missing for two months (in almost the exact tone Vaughn used when he said, “You’ve been missing for almost two years.”) to Castle’s lack of memory, I just wanted it to be revealed that his name while he was missing was “Julian Thorne.” I suppose I just need to thank my stars that Beckett didn’t get married while he was gone (forever bitter about that little Alias twist). Maybe that’s why I wasn’t so worried about all of the plot stuff in this episode: I’ve been down this road before; I’ve watched shows with more questions than answers so many times. And they’ve been some of my favorite shows ever because—like “Driven”—they made me feel things beyond just confusion about the plot.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.01

Welcome (or welcome back), friends, to my Once Upon a Time reviews! I’ve been looking forward to writing this since the Season Three finale aired in May, so let the fun (and the discussion) begin!

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

Title A Tale of Two Sisters

Two-Sentence Summary As Elsa finds herself in Storybrooke, flashbacks show what happened when she discovered a journal that revealed her parents’ fatal journey was undertaken to figure out how to deal with their magical daughter—a journey that Anna decides to retrace, leading her to the Enchanted Forest. Elsa isn’t the only new arrival from Emma and Hook’s trip to the past to cause problems in Storybrooke; Marian’s presence forces Regina to confront whether or not she can ever have a happy ending and whether or not she’s still the “monster” she once was.

Favorite Lines
Emma: Want to go home and see what’s on Netflix?
Hook: I don’t know what that is, but sure!

My Thoughts Remember when last season ended and I was worried about how the Frozen storyline was going to be handled on Once Upon a Time? It’s amazing how great casting can make all the difference in the world. I know it’s only been one episode, but the Frozen characters were some of my favorite parts of this Once Upon a Time premiere. That might also be because so much was going on in Storybrooke that the Frozen flashbacks gave me a chance to breathe in the middle of the present-day chaos and revolving door of new plot developments.

Don’t get me wrong; one of this episode’s biggest strengths was the way it laid a solid foundation for all of the major storylines to come this season (or at least in this half of the season). It served as a great introduction for people tuning in for the first time because of the Frozen hype, and it attempted to quell some of the unrest surrounding both the Neverland and Wicked Witch arcs last season—sometimes it felt like the characters were going in circles (on occasion, quite literally) with only one major conflict to deal with.

However, anyone who’s familiar with my feelings about Once Upon a Time knows that I would rather have a hundred episodes of characters walking through the Neverland jungle—doing little to advance the plot but growing tremendously as characters—instead of a repeat of Season Two’s plot-heavy mess. I’ll withhold my judgment on the sheer number of major stories introduced in this premiere until I see if they turn out as disjointed as they could be or as connected as I hope they will be. If nothing else, they made for a fast-paced premiere filled with plenty of new mysteries to uncover—one of which I’ve been waiting for since I first saw the pilot.

The Frozen flashbacks also have their own central mystery: Who were Anna and Elsa’s parents going to see in Misthaven (or is it Mist Haven?)—aka the Enchanted Forest? My guess is Rumplestiltskin, and that’s where all the trouble will come with Elsa ending up in his vault and Anna’s necklace being in Mr. Gold’s shop. I liked that these flashbacks did what Once Upon a Time does best; they showed what happens after the story as we know it ends, making Anna and Elsa feel like real people and not just fairytale princesses (or a princess and a queen if we’re being technical).

I was most impressed with how faithful the writers and actors were not just to the details of Frozen but to the very essence of what makes these characters so unique. Of course, it was fun to see the nods to the film in everything from the beautiful costumes and the surprisingly good CGI for Grand Pabbie to the perfection that was Sven (Who knew a real reindeer could be so sassy?). But what I loved the most was the care taken to get Anna and Elsa (and Kristoff, too, in the little we saw of him) just right.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/21 – 9/28)

This week marked the return of even more network shows and the premieres of a number of highly-anticipated pilots. The string of strong season premieres kicked off on Sunday with an episode of The Good Wife that took a turn no one expected, as Cary ended up in jail with no easy release on the horizon. Monday featured another fun episode of Dancing with the Stars and the first part of a two-night premiere for the engaging new series Forever (starring the almost criminally charming Ioan Gruffudd). New Girl and The Mindy Project both aired their second episodes on Tuesday, with the former introducing Jess to the stress of online dating and the latter introducing Mindy and us to Danny’s ma. Wednesday’s series premiere of Black-ish was very strong, and the season premiere of Nashville was filled with more drama than ever. And Thursday’s night of Shonda Rhimes shows included a fast-paced episode of Scandal and the incredibly compelling series premiere of How to Get Away with Murder.

It was wonderful to have an abundance of shows to watch and an abundance of moments to choose from for the best of the week. However, my pick for the best of the best isn’t just one moment but an hour’s worth of new moments from my favorite pilot of the season so far: How to Get Away with Murder. Everything about this pilot clicked: It had a very defined style (which I expected from one of Rhimes’s shows), it featured so many twists and turns that it left me breathless, and its characters all have much more meat to them than most pilot characters. Add to all of those things the magnetic performance of Viola Davis and one heck of an episode-ending cliffhanger, and there’s no way I’m missing this show for the foreseeable future.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Fangirl Thursday: Let’s Get Lost

Source: abc.com

Source: abc.com

It’s been 10 years since we watched Jack Shephard dramatically open one eye, stumble through a jungle, and come upon the harrowing wreckage of Oceanic Flight 815. It’s been 10 years since we met Kate, Sawyer, Charlie, Claire, Locke, and so many other characters who would make us laugh, cry, and fall in love right along with them over the course of six seasons. And it’s been 10 years since we saw a polar bear, discovered a smoke monster, and realized we were in for a journey like nothing else we’d ever seen on TV before.

That’s right, friends; Lost turned 10 years old on Monday. Ten years ago, I stood in front of the tiny TV in my kitchen and watched what I still consider to be the greatest pilot of all time. I knew I was in for one heck of a ride after learning all about J.J. Abrams’s crazy ways of weaving stories through my years spent loving Alias, but I don’t think any of us knew exactly how crazy this ride was going to be.

I learned so much from watching Lost, and those lessons have stayed with me for the last 10 years and will continue to stay with me for much longer. I learned that no character I love on a TV show is safe at any time (not just in premieres and finales), and that’s helped me get through every season of Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, and even The Good Wife.

I learned that sometimes your choice of favorite character changes as you grow and change yourself—from Kate to Charlie to Sawyer to Juliet. I learned that you don’t choose your “ships;” they choose you. (I spent so long wondering why I wasn’t more invested in the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle, only to discover that my heart was apparently saving all of its feelings for the unexpectedly perfect pairing of Sawyer/Juliet.) I learned that I love any and all plots involving time travel. And I learned that nothing makes me happier as a fan than when a character or a show can still manage to surprise me.

The most important lesson, though, that I learned from Lost was taught to me in the pilot and reinforced in the series finale: It’s all about the characters. For all the polar bears and smoke monsters, the reason I loved the pilot was because it made me care about these people beyond just their observations of the mysteries unfolding around them. The pilot opened with people just trying to survive and help one another do so; the mysteries came later. And I tried to never forget that. For as much as this was a show with possibly the most complex mythology to ever grace network TV, what made it work was its commitment to creating and developing characters that made us care.

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.02

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

Title Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis

Two-Sentence Summary Mindy’s plan to win over Danny’s mother goes awry when she feels Danny’s generosity and love for his “ma” isn’t appreciated enough. Meanwhile, Tamra is dangerously allergic to Morgan’s dogs, but Peter doesn’t believe it, which leads to disaster.

Favorite Line “I know this great frozen yogurt place nearby. I myself can’t go. I’ve been banned for sample fraud.” (Mindy)

My Thoughts I know it’s only two episodes into The Mindy Project’s third season, but I’m already incredibly happy with where this season seems to be going and what it’s doing for its main characters. Of course, there’s still time for me to be disappointed (like I was last season when New Girl’s handling of Nick and Jess’s relationship crashed and burned), but—in typical Mindy Kaling fashion—I’d rather keep my hopes high and risk getting disappointed than never feel excited or openly optimistic about anything. And there have been plenty of signs in just these first two episodes that my hopes are lining up perfectly with what the writers are doing.

Kaling said she wanted Mindy and Danny to feel like a modern Lucy and Ricky, and I think “Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis” highlighted why this couple could be exactly that. Mindy’s plan to win over Danny’s mother and her later attempt to confront her felt like schemes that Lucy would have been proud of. And Danny’s reluctance to play any role in these shenanigans felt very much like Ricky’s reactions to most of Lucy’s antics.

What’s impressed me most so far about Danny and Mindy’s relationship and the way the show has dealt with it is its centrality to the story. There’s no shying away from the fact that the conflicts that have driven both the season premiere and this episode—in terms of comedy and character growth—are conflicts that could only exist now that Danny and Mindy are in a serious romantic relationship. This is The Mindy Project laughing in the face of the “Moonlighting Curse” and showing very astutely that sometimes the laughs can be bigger and the stories can be deeper because the main characters on a show got together—not despite it. Many stories can only exist within the context of an established relationship (such as meeting the parents), and this show seems to be finding a lovely burst of creative energy from telling these kinds of stories instead of believing that all people in serious relationships are boring.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/14 – 9/21)

Let the fall TV season begin!

Although many network TV shows have yet to return or debut, this week did give us the premieres of some NGN favorites. Dancing with the Stars returned on Monday with some disappointing performances but also a few standouts (especially Alfonso Ribeiro). Tuesday was a night of season premieres for FOX comedies, with New Girl finding a new energy that was refreshing after a subpar third season, and The Mindy Project living up to the hype with a premiere that continued the streak of confident writing and acting that made last season’s finale a success. Wednesday featured a battle between Nyesha and Jennifer on Top Chef Duels, and plenty of shows (from Scandal to Saturday Night Live) aired reruns of some of their most recent or most popular episodes to get ready for another wave of premieres this coming week.

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one who knows anything about me or my taste in TV shows, my pick for the best of the best in the world of television this week comes from The Mindy Project. The final five minutes of “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!” solidified exactly why this season has the potential to be something truly special. The emotional revelations Mindy and Danny shared on the fire escape were a beautiful testament to the idea that a stable relationship between a show’s main characters can allow both characters to grow and deepen in ways they simply couldn’t if the “Will they?/Won’t they?” continued. And that beautiful moment of emotional intimacy was followed by a different kind of revealing scene, as Diamond Dan showed his moves to Mindy, and Chris Messina made us all feel some very special feelings.

Because FOX apparently wants to make it as difficult as possible for all of us to relive Diamond Dan in all his glory, here’s a link to Vulture’s video of the closing moments of the episode. 

And because I will NEVER be over this moment, here’s a gif:

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Fangirl Thursday: Making an Impact

parks prom

We’ve all seen those lists popping up on our Facebook feeds—“15 Movies that Changed My Life,” “10 Books that Stayed with Me,” “10 Albums that Have Defined My Life,” etc. We’ve probably even made one or more of those lists ourselves. (I’ve done both the book and movies ones.) But I haven’t seen any of these “challenges” devoted to television.

That’s about to change.

I am the woman I am in no small part due to the movies I’ve watched and the books I’ve read in my 26 years. However, I’m also the woman I am because of the TV shows I’ve watched and the television characters I’ve loved. More than any other form of media, television has given me characters and stories to grow up with, to be inspired by, and to learn from over the course of many years.

Therefore, today I’m making a list of the 10 TV shows that have had the deepest impact on me. And I’m challenging all of my fellow nerds to make their own lists and post them in the comments!

1. Sesame Street: My love for television as a medium and my respect for it as a positive force in people’s lives can be traced back to mornings spent watching Sesame Street with my mom. It was the first TV show I was ever exposed to, and I want it to be the first TV show I expose my own children to someday. I love Sesame Street not only for the things it taught me (Spanish, letters and numbers, the continents…) but also for how happy it made me as kid and still makes me as an adult every time I see Grover or Big Bird or Cookie Monster spreading joy to a new generation of kids.

2. Boy Meets World: This was the first show to teach me that a piece of media can mean different things to you at different times in your life. I grew up with these characters not only when the show first aired but also through reruns that seemed to air just when I needed them in high school, in college, and even now. Boy Meets World’s series finale is one I treasure as an adult far more than I did as a preteen watching it for the first time, and it gave me some of the most profound advice any TV show could ever hope to give: “Dream. Try. Do good.”

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.01

Welcome, friends, to the first of my weekly reviews of The Mindy Project! I hope you’re ready to spend this season discussing all things Mindy and Danny with me, because if this premiere was any sign of how this season is going to unfold, we’re in for a fun ride!

Source: NPR

Source: NPR

Title We’re a Couple Now, Haters!

Two-Sentence Summary As Danny and Mindy’s conflicting stances on privacy present an obstacle in their new relationship, Peter and Jeremy find themselves both vying for the affections of the same woman (Peter’s girlfriend Lauren). And Mindy’s promise to keep the details of her relationship with Danny out of the office becomes difficult to keep when she finds a mystery thong in Danny’s drawer.

Favorite Lines
Mindy: I think the reason I tell everyone about us is because I want it to be real, and the more real it seems, the less likely it is that it could all get taken away from me.
Danny: It’s real.

My Thoughts Let’s not bury the lead here: Danny Castellano (aka Diamond Dan) did a striptease for Mindy at the very end of last night’s premiere of The Mindy Project, and none of us who watched it will ever be the same.

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when Danny gave Mindy her choreographed Secret Santa gift in last season’s “Christmas Party Sex Trap,” so I think it goes without saying that if I wrote what was really going through my mind at the end of “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!” this entire review would consist only of “OH MY GOD,” “HOT DAMN,” and “I CAN’T EVEN” (which is an accurate reenactment of my Tweets from last night…and this morning…and probably every day for the rest of my life now that this exists). What I will say is Mindy Kaling certainly knows her audience, and she’s thankfully not above giving them everything they never knew they always wanted.

All fangirl freaking out aside, that last scene said a lot about both the character of Danny Castellano and The Mindy Project as a whole as the show enters its third season on the heels of a spectacular second-season finale. It was a moment that oozed confidence. Although the “belt move” (as I’m calling it) and the ridiculously hot kiss at the end both had their merits (as did a million other details in that scene), my favorite part was at the very beginning of it, when Danny walked into the doorway to the opening beats of “American Woman” and proceeded to do a little shoulder shake perfectly in-time with the music. It was so effortlessly confident that it drew me in completely, and if the scene had ended right there, I still would have loved it.

Confidence is so attractive, and it’s something Chris Messina as an actor, Danny Castellano as a character, and this show in general have in spades right now. For as excited as I was about this season, I wasn’t sure anything could live up to my expectations after a finale as strong as “Danny and Mindy.” However, “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!” took everything that made me feel hopeful after that finale and brought it to life in a premiere that has me even more excited for this whole season than I was two weeks ago, if that’s even possible.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/7 – 9/14)

This week was the last before shows begin returning for their season (and series) premieres, so it was a bit of a slow week in terms of original programming. Monday’s Bachelor in Paradise finale featured Marcus and Lacy’s engagement and Cody and Michelle surprising everyone (including themselves—or at least Michelle) with how deeply they’d come to care for each other. Wednesday’s episode of Top Chef Masters was a showdown between Dale and Tiffani. And there were plenty of NFL games on Sunday (and Thursday) to keep fans busy, including a huge overtime win by my beloved Buffalo Bills.

Like last week, my favorite thing I watched was probably an episode of Masters of Sex (“Brave New World,” if you were wondering). However, if I had to pick a moment that aired on television for the first time this week, I’d say my favorite moment came from Jimmy Kimmel Live. I’m always a fan of Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News” segment, and I think this week’s edition from New York Fashion Week may have been the best of those segments yet. It had me in tears from laughing so hard, and it was a clip I had to share with everyone in my office because I loved it so much—so I want to share it with all of you, too.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week.