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Tag Archive: New Girl


Sherlock season 3 promo

Happy New Year!!!

So what do we do now?  How about a look at the start dates for our favorite TV shows?  Many are already in progress, like Almost Human, Arrow, Dracula, Grimm, Major Crimes, The Michael J. Fox Show, New Girl, and Sleepy Hollow.  Some don’t have new season premiere dates yet, like Bates Motel, Continuum, Doctor Who, Heroes of Cosplay, Mr. Selfridge, and Warehouse 13.

The most anticipated series is very likely the three-episode third season of Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, finally coming back to PBS this month.

The biggest question is whether Haven will get renewed for a fifth season on Syfy.  The end of Season 4 was really getting better and Syfy just can’t leave us with that cliffhanger finale.

Haven - Season 4

Update yours DVRs!  Here’s what we’re going to be watching in 2014 at borg.com:

Almost Human –  Season 1 continues January 6 on Fox

Arrow – Season 2 continues January 15 on CW

Bates Motel – Season 2 begins in March to A&E

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New Girl Season 2 DVD

If you want to know why three cast members of the Fox TV series New Girl were up for Emmys last year, just get a copy of New Girl: The Complete Second Season, now available on DVD.  With yet another episode last night, New Girl is still cranking out laughs in its third season every Tuesday night.  New Girl has become the surest way to get a quick dose of laugh-out-loud humor on network or cable television.  The only frustrating thing about New Girl is that each episode is less than half an hour, and it always feels like it is over too fast.  And that makes it that much more fun to watch 25 episodes at a few hours per viewing with the DVD set.

Jess models a car in New Girl episode Models

Season Two finally saw series star Zooey Deschanel’s Jess hook up with Jake Johnson’s Nick, the poster boy for the lazy post-college set.  Deschanel was nominated for leading actress in a comedy series for her work in Season Two and it’s no wonder–she’s fun, quirky, and smart.  Season Two also saw Max Greenfield’s performance as Schmidt nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series.  It’s hard to think of the last actor that worked as hard as Greenfield does for a laugh, finding himself constantly in the most embarrassing and over-the-top circumstances.  Deschanel and Greenfield have made themselves actors to watch for whether in TV appearances (Deschanel in Bones and Weeds, Greenfield in Veronica Mars and Castle) or in movies (Deschanel in Elf and The Happening).

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Veronica Mars movie

borg.com readers may remember Veronica Mars as one of our favorite characters of all time.  In its three seasons Veronica Mars became one of the best series on TV.  As borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce wrote, “Complex, smart, independent, and vulnerable–with a kickass cool job–characters don’t come much better than Veronica Mars.”  More than 2 million viewers tuned in each week for its first two seasons on UPN and its last season on the CW Network between 2004 and 2007.  Yesterday the biggest Kickstarter campaign ever resulted in an amazingly fast accumulation of donations–more than $2 million in 11 hours–enough to green light the Veronica Mars big-screen movie, now scheduled to film this summer for an early 2014 release.

Series creator Rob Thomas launched the project.  Series star Kristen Bell has signed on as has Veronica’s dad Keith, played by Enrico Colantoni, and Veronica’s pals Logan (Jason Dohring), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), Mac (Tina Majorino), Dick (Ryan Hansen) and Piz (Chris Lowell), according to the Kickstarter website.  Unlikely to return, unless they come back in flashbacks or as ghosts, are the ill-fated Les Miserables star Amanda Seyfried as Lilly, CW Network’s Cult star Alona Tal as Meg, Jaime Ray Newman as Mindy O’Dell, or Ed Begley, Jr. as Principal O’Dell.  But why not bring back Dallas star Julie Gonzalo as Parker, New Girl star Max Greenfield as Leo, Teddy Dunn as Duncan, The Anchorman’s Paul Rudd as Desmond Fellows, Unstoppable’s Jessy Schram as Hannah, Just Shoot Me’s Laura San Giacomo as Keith’s girlfriend Harmony, Spin City’s Paula Marshall as Keith’s other girlfriend Rebecca, The Following’s Aaron Ashmore as Troy, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Charisma Carpenter as Dick’s stepmom or Alyson Hannigan as Trina, or director Joss Whedon as the car rental guy or even Clerks’ Kevin Smith as the creepy convenience store clerk?

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Argo film about a film wins Best Motion Picture Golden Globe 2013

It probably makes sense that the Golden Globes allows for more genre win opportunities than the more drama-oriented Academy Awards.  Still, the Globes didn’t go as far as they could with the best of what is on TV and in movies.  Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield not winning in the comedy categories for New Girl is a big miss.  Kevin Costner is a great actor but I don’t see how anyone was a better actor on TV or film this year than Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock.  Fans of genre fave show The Big Bang Theory will be bummed to see that show slighted for best comedy series.  The BBC’s drama The Hour was the best of television for the past two years so there is another miss.

So here is what they got right:

Argo as Best Film.  Check.

Ben Affleck as Best Director for Argo.  Check.

Brave as Best Animated Film.  Check.

Adele for Best Original Song for Skyfall.  Check.

Quentin Tarentino for Best Screenplay for Django Unchained.  Check.

Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor for Django Unchained.  Check.

Brave wins Best Animated Film Golden Globe 2013

Although we’re having a hard time getting excited about Homeland‘s slow building second season after its great first season (but we plan to be caught up soon), it’s great to see Homeland lead the TV awards with best drama and acting nods for the always great acting of Daniel Lewis and Claire Danes.

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Year's En

Merry Christmas!

It’s the end of December and another year is winding down.  Everywhere you turn someone is talking about the Best of 2012, so here we offer our take, resulting from absorbing more content this year than ever before, from books to movies to TV to comics, we reviewed and previewed entertainment from most of the big comic book publishers, and received screeners of shows and books from different publishing houses.  And we watched a lot of TV and went to a number of movies.  So what was the best of the best this year?  No one will ever have the same list but here’s where we ended up:

Best Genre Movie:  The Hobbit.  We had to wait all year for the release but once we saw it–it was well worth the wait and we want to go back and see it again and again.  How could you possibly follow one of the only fantasy films ever to win a Best Picture Academy Award and expect to come close in quality and entertainment?  Peter Jackson figured it out.  Not even The Avengers came close to touching this epic film with giant sets, special effects, elaborate costumes, a perfect story adaptation, and the best CGI creature to date: a Gollum even better than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Best Dramatic Film: Argo It was an international event more recent in the public psyche than even Watergate, yet it had never been addressed on the silver screen before–the kidnapping of American nationals in Iran.  Ben Affleck served as both director and star of the film and performed both roles brilliantly.  Both exciting and funny–with the incredibly bizarre hook of using Hollywood to create a sci-fi B movie as CIA cover to sneak in to Iran and remove a small group of hostages–it was a story worthy of adapting to screen.  Brilliant!

Best Animated Movie: Brave Kelly McDonald’s wonderful Scottish voice, an all-star Brit voice cast including Emma Thompson, Bill Connolly, Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane, coupled with Brenda Chapman’s story and the best of Walt Disney and Pixar’s animation so far, make Brave the slam dunk animated film winner of 2012.   A gorgeous film about a tough and feisty red-headed girl skilled with a bow and arrow who wants to make her own destiny provided a great story for young and old alike.

Best Animated TV Series: Tron: Uprising Disney Television Animation finally figured out a way to bring its Tron franchise forward with Tron: Legacy, and this prequel series gives us what the movie lacked–more Bruce Boxleitner as Tron.  We hardly noticed this wasn’t a live action series, and with voice actors like Frodo’s Elijah Wood, Alien’s Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens and Tricia Helfer, you could hardly go wrong.  The brilliant choice of lighting, futuristic yet retro light cycles and funky soundtrack made this one worth coming back for each week.

Grimm-Silas-Weir-Mitchell-Bree-Turner

Best Actor: Silas Weir Mitchell, Grimm With the updates for the second season of Grimm, Mitchell’s reformed Blutbad Monroe was hard to beat as the sometimes hilarious sometimes dramatic glue that held the series together, setting up new conflicts, like the strange discovery of Renard and Juliette’s relationship, sure to drive the story next year.

Ksenia Solo as Kenzi in Lost Girl

Best Actress: Ksenia Solo, Lost Girl.  As succubus and series star Bo’s tagalong human friend and roommate Kenzi, Solo held half of the dramatic workload for the Canadian series first released to U.S. audiences this year on the Syfy Channel.  The Latvian born actress plays it funny and smart–she makes for the ideal kickass girl from the best genre fiction stories.

Cobie Smulders in The Avengers

Best Breakout Role–Female:  Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers.  We knew her already from How I Met Your Mother, but Smulders took what could have been a throwaway background role in the biggest movie of the year and instead put her character’s footing almost on par with the Avengers themselves, heading up an early chase scene and appearing with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury throughout the film.  Now she’s set to come back for the next Avengers films, she’s a character that we never knew about but are glad she’s on the team going forward.

Max Greenfield in New Girl

Best Breakout Role–Male: Max Greenfield as Schmidt in New Girl.  Greenfield is one among a handful of great young actors in New Girl, now in its second season, but this season his character Schmidt stepped out to create the craziest, most hysterical moment of nearly every episode.  Whether he is ranting that there is no black Santa Claus, or trying to show a stripper how to lap dance the right way, whether he is wearing his high-cut male kimono, ranting about germs, or his stupid actions result in him putting the most money in the coffee table jar, Greenfield took a funny part and stretched it to insanely funny.  This from the same guy who performed dramatic roles in Veronica Mars, Life and Castle?  Awesome.

Best Guest Appearance:  Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance in Action Comics. It was a bit of a marketing gimmick, but what could tie the education of real science, a popular TV non-fiction series host and comic book readers together better?  The real star-vested Tyson found a possible location for Superman’s home planet of Krypton, revealing it to the Man of Steel in the pages of the ongoing series.

Best TV series: Arrow, CW Network.  We got our first look at the pilot for this series at Comic-Con this year and loved it, but wasn’t sure how it would appeal to a mass audience.  Pretty much everyone we know watches this series, including those who would never otherwise think to look at a series about a masked superhero.  We have a critical eye out for all things Green Arrow, but Arrow, led by a well-cast Stephen Amell, surpassed our expectations.

Best Comedy Series: New Girl, Fox Network.  New Girl wins this category from one simple thing: This series made this writer laugh so hard his gut hurt and corresponding tears shot out of his eyes from the quick humor in so many scenes this year he lost count.  And when the series dipped into dramatic elements it never veered far from the core of what makes the show work–it’s a comedy first.  Tuesday night this year was New Girl night.  Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Winston and Cece could be the next Friends (but funnier) if the series can get a wider audience.

Sherlock Belgravia episode

Best Single TV Episode: Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” BBC America.  You just have to watch this episode of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s brilliant series over and over.  The entry of the beautiful and unpredictable Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver, was perfection, and Cumberbatch and Martin’s scene with Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in Buckingham Palace can’t be beat.  Sure to be a classic episode for years to come.

Best Cliffhanger: Shawn’s dad gets shot, Psych, USA Network.  It seems like it has been forever since Shawn’s dad Henry, played by Corbin Bernsen was shot at the end of this season’s last episode of the hit USA Network comedy/drama series.  At its core, Psych is a light-hearted pleasure, so they just CAN’T kill off Henry.  We’re really looking forward to finding out.

Best Series Ender: In Plain Sight, USA Network.*  In a year where several mega-hits wrapped for good, including House, M.D., The Closer, Awake, and Chuck, one series finale tied up all the necessary loose ends the best, and that was the aptly titled “All’s Well that Ends” from In Plain Sight, which ended after five solid seasons.  The writers skipped the gimmicks, with no gut wrenching death scenes for major cast players, but instead honored the characters as they’d been for the entire series, rewarding viewers with an end where everyone wins.  *Update:  Leverage‘s surprise December 25, 2012 series finale came in with a powerhouse finale, slightly trumping In Plain Sight at the last minute after we posted this piece.  See our review here.

Jason Isaacs in Awake

Best Series that Cancelled Too Early: Awake, NBC Network We only got to see 12 episodes of Awake, but in those episodes we saw a great paranormal drama develop.  Jason Isaacs, like Paul Blackthorne, is one of those actors you want to helm a series every week.  His dual role of father who lost his kid and husband that lost his wife, both in the same auto accident, showed this actor could do anything with a role.  Although they were able to nicely wrap-up Awake in its last episode, we’d prefer to have seen a lot more of it.

Best Surprise in Entertainment: Dallas, TNT Network.  How was this even possible?  Who would think to take THE 1980s primetime soap and bring it forward to 2012, AND think it could work?  TNT mixed a CW Network-inspired young cast with a plot continuing the struggles in the classic series and melded it into something for anyone willing to give it a try.  Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing never missed a beat as the ultimate TV villain, even in his 80s.  The writers took bits from the tangents of the original to concoct the main storyline of two young heirs fighting for family and social dominance.  The result was addictive TV.

The Major Crimes Gallery

Best Comeback:  The ensemble cast of Major Crimes The great thing about a great ensemble cast is that you like every player equally.  When this is successful, you can stand to lose a character or two and still keep going, or as was the case with the wind-up of The Closer, lose three main characters: Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, Chief Pope, and Sgt. Gabriel.  Major Crimes added three new replacement characters and never missed a beat, pleasing fans who knew it was too soon for the stories from the L.A. Major Crimes unit to end.

Best Second Wind: Haven, Syfy Channel Some cable TV series limp along and just end after a year or two.  Haven’s single theme of solving the riddle of “the troubles” seemed a candidate for this, but something switched on with the 2012 season allowing the rich stories and great cast chemistry to give us the series’ best episodes in its three-year run so far.

Volkswagen cantina commercial

Best Genre-Related Advertisement:  Star Wars Super Bowl ad, Volkswagen The best Super Bowl ad last January with a dog, a James Brown tune, and a pristine recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina from the original Star Wars was an instant classic that will be hard to beat in 2013.  Complete with its own recreated hive of scum and villainy, Tom Spina Designs’ creatures gave us something we want to see more of–maybe a new Disney-produced TV series based in Mos Eisley using all these obscure characters fanboys know by name?  Missed it?  See the full ad here.

Best Press Marketing: Coma mini-series press kit, A&E Network We at borg.com received tons of content this year, from books to comics to advance screeners, but one marketing gag was so awesome in its own right it surpassed what it was advertising.  The advance marketing for the Coma TV series marked a possible return by A&E to the classic TV shows we used to get in the days of shows like Price and Prejudice or Nero Wolfe.  Sporting an underground conspiracy plotline, print and online ads created a cool concept that the mini-series itself did not quite match.  When we received a human organ carrier in a “thawed” labeled box that we cautiously unzipped to find the screener, well that was just too awesome not to mention again.

Best Costumes: The Hobbit The Hobbit already made our Best Genre Movie of 2012, but it’s worth a second nod for having the most incredibly crafted costumes of possibly any film made so far in any year.  Building on the costumes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the slow panning of the camera in The Hobbit allowed us to see every seam on Bilbo’s patch-work coat, and every new emblem on each dwarf’s tunic.  How can a production make so many unique costumes for one film?  The result sets the standard for all major films to come.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy

Best Borg Appearance: The Cyborg Gunslinger, Doctor Who episode, “A Town Called Mercy” Andrew Brooke’s gunslinger was a slick-looking borg addition, a throwback to Westworld that gave us equal parts of good sci-fi and classic Western movies.  Doctor Who has created the best costumes and make-up of any sci-fi franchise in the past few years and this guy just looked great.

Best Web Series: TableTop bi-weekly Internet series, Geek and Sundry.  Wil Wheaton, known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently his appearances on Big Bang Theory and Leverage, as host of his own online series, brought us all back from the video game world to the boardgame format that allows friends to really interact and have fun for their own game nights.   He chatted over great games like Tsuro, Munchkin and Zombie Dice with friends and celebrities alike, and showed us what could easily translate to its own Game Show Network series.

Best Villain:  The Harp Seal, Battlepug, Mike Norton. Easy choice.  This year’s Eisner Award winner for best digital comic revealed this unexpected villain, a funny surprise for readers.  Imagine a world where the harp seal gets its due–a role reversal where warriors fear him over all other creatures.  A great idea.

Best Ongoing Comic Book Series (tie):  All-Star Western, DC ComicsArtist Moritat and writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took a long-dead comic book title and bridged 1800s Gotham City and Jonah Hex to make a gritty and fun book that rose to the top of DC Comics’ New 52 titles first released in September 2011.  Who knew a Western comic could be this good?  Bionic Man, Dynamite Comics Phil Hester took a Kevin Smith script and expanded on it, taking the most nostalgic bits of the classic Six Million Dollar Man TV series and updating it for 2012.  The highlight of the fun was an appearance by the classic TV series guest star, Bigfoot.

Thor - God of Thunder 1

Best Single Comic Book Issue: Thor, God of Thunder #1, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.  How do you reintroduce a classic character like Thor in a new way?  Exactly like Aaron does in this first issue of his new series, breaking up his story into three time periods, and highlighting the changing face of Thor over time.  Ribic’s lush images of Thor and a certain strange new world escalated this book to the top of my year’s reads.

JK Woodward AssimilationSquared

Best Comic Book Art: JK Woodward, Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation².  J.K. Woodward’s painted artwork throughout this limited series was stunning.  Probably the best depiction to-date of Star Trek characters in a comic book, Woodward took a fanboy’s dream job of merging two of the biggest sci-fi franchises together for the first story ever attempted and delivered a great looking story, now available in a trade edition.  We just want to see more.

Mystery in Space 1 by Ryan Sook

Best Comic Book Cover Art:  Mystery in Space, Ryan Sook, Vertigo Comics Ryan Sook had a big year, providing sensational covers for everything from The Shadow to the new Sword of Sorcery to one of our favorite titles, Justice League Dark.  But his cover for Vertigo Comics’ Mystery in Space #1 blended sci-fi and fantasy in the best way, with a steampunk angel painting the universe inside a spaceship with the help of flitting fairies, or is she creating our actual universe?  A great idea and perfect execution made this a standout on the store shelf this year.

Hawkeye cover by David Aja

Best Comic Book Cover Art Runner-up:  Hawkeye mini-series, David Aja Aja’s six unique Hawkeye series covers served not only to entice us to read this mini-series with great use of simple colors, but his own artwork between the covers made us feel like we were rewarded with what was advertised–a very cool and unusually stylish series.

Best Comics Collected Edition:  Flash Gordon, Volumes 1 and 2, Titan Books These were the best presented books we reviewed this year.  Reprinted Sunday comics from the 1930s and 1940s in a giant-sized edition that allowed readers to appreciate the story and art of creator Alex Raymond was a feast for the eyes.  The content allowed readers to see just how relevant and interesting the original mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy could be.

Best Retro Reviewed Book: Moonraker, Ian Fleming.  Casino Royale was a great read, Live and Let Die was a bit of a letdown, but Moonraker was as exciting as any book I’ve read in years.  Far different from the film of the same name, this thriller was packed with spy world intrigue.  Compared to all the other retro reviews this year, including Philip K. Dick classics, this one really stood out.

Best Reviewed Book: Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Kim Newman Although it was initially released in 1998, a new edition was re-released this year.  The best “post-modern steampunk” mash-up and incredibly detailed world building made this novel a great read, full of artful prose and creative crossovers.  Newman also added another level of storytelling, mixing the real world with the world of fiction, and the result is a densely packed, enjoyable volume.

Bond and Queen

Best Mash-Up of Fiction and Non-Fiction Worlds:  James Bond accompanies the Queen to the Olympics 2012 was the Year of Bond with his 50th year in film.  How better to highlight the best of Jolly Old England at this year’s Summer Olympics than to begin with a meeting of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and the actual Queen Elizabeth II in her 60th year in Buckingham Palace, followed by a faked aerial dive by the Queen over the stadium in London.  The Queen was a real sport, adding herself to the long list of Bond girls.  And don’t forget the real-world borg Oscar Pistorius’s impressive showings at the Olympics this year.

Comic-Con Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel

Best Genre Event: The Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con.  More than 7,000 fans stood in line for only about 5,000 seats but the all-night wait was worth seeing most of the cast of Firefly reunite with creators Joss Whedon and Tom Minnear to talk about the short-lived series.  Firefly fans are a passionate bunch, and were able to get Whedon to make the big-budget movie Serenity a few years after cancellation.  But get most of the stars to come back ten years later?  Pretty cool feat.  With Whedon and series co-star Adam Baldwin (Jayne) dropping by to greet the people sleeping and standing in line overnight it was an event that attendees will never forget.

Best News Story: George Lucas sells Star Wars rights to Disney Some liked it and some hated it, but as months go by we’ll see what it all means.  As entertainment goes, this multi-billion dollar exchange was the talk everywhere this year.

Best Science Story: Curiosity lands on Mars.  NASA’s description of dropping a rover on the surface of the planet Mars sounded like threading a needle blind-folded wearing gloves.  Its early morning coverage of the successful landing was something like the moon landing, and made everyone want to see what more we can do in the space program now that the last Space Shuttle has been mothballed.  What will the future hold for NASA and humans in outer space?

Best Nationwide Genre Participation Event: The Avengers Marathon, AMC Theaters We only wished for something like this when we were kids–the ability to watch something like all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies in one screening.  The lead-up to the midnight premiere of The Avengers allowed fans to watch all the lead-in Avengers films so far:  Iron Man I and II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  A great idea that will hopefully continue with other franchise films.

Best Single Thing for Genre Works: The Avengers movie.  Genre, and specifically superhero, films needed a good kickstart.  The dark and dreary Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan was monopolizing superhero films, and we needed a giant, vibrant superhero film to usher in a new age of comic book films and Joss Whedon delivered the goods.  It’s not a perfect film (and what is?) but was completely fun and entertaining, delivering something every fan could enjoy.  Challenging the top two positions for all-time box office draw also showed everyone that fans want to see more of this kind of movie.

What were your favorites?  We hope a few of these are on your own list.  We at borg.com will be back with more coverage and reviews in 2013.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

What’s funny and what is not is subjective.  But I watched a lot of TV last year and only one TV series made me laugh out loud–a lot–in every single episode.  Jess, Schmidt, Nick, Winston, and Cece return tomorrow night for another season of great actors, great characters, (we hope) great writing, and gut-busting humor with a two-episode premiere at 7C/8E on Fox (note: Fox is sneaking in another half hour show so episode 2 starts at 8C/9E).  So don’t forget to set the DVR.  Look for Parker Posey guest starring in the first episode, “Re-launch.”

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By the borg.com Writing Staff

As the spring TV season winds down, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect back on this season’s viewing, looking at what ultimately made our “must watch” list, and what didn’t.  Look back to see our reviews, then check out our weekly lineup!

Let’s start with what didn’t make it for us:

  • The Firm.  Although we enjoyed the performances, and the overall series mystery seemed intriguing, the focus on courtroom melodrama bogged this one down.  The fatal moment, though, was an episode in which the Rules of Criminal Procedure were so wildly distorted as to kill any suspension of disbelief.  Note to courtroom drama writers: We’ve all watched twenty years of Law & Order.  You need to step up the writing if you want to succeed.
  • Terra Nova.  This series just lost us.  The pilot was serviceable and showed us the great potential the ideas behind this series had, but episodes quickly devolved into a weak combination of weekly world-destroying strawman threats (yawn) that just felt more and more incredibly contrived, and a confusing (and, IMO, un-needed) effort to create a dark, mysterious, earth-shattering plot with shadowy characters and alignments similar to the epic Lost.  The last two episodes we watched (in January) were literally painful to watch, mainly due to the largely wasted potential that a time-traveling colony in the Cretaceous era. WeI’ve heard that the last few episodes in this season showed promise, but we won’t be tuning in unless we hear some positive buzz on the show once it starts again in the fall.
  • The Killing.  This is the only show that Jason can remember where he actively rooted against it succeeding.  The first season treated viewers with such contempt for their intelligence, after a promising pilot and first couple of episodes, and that means any resolutions for the plot or characters are unimportant.

Hanging on by a Thread:

  • Once Upon a Time.  This one is still nabbed weekly by our DVR, but we missed a couple of episodes during the holidays and never bothered to get caught up again.  There was nothing really wrong with it; we were enjoying it–but other series (see below) bumped it from the tight nightly schedule.
  • Ringer.  See OUAT, above.  The ongoing soap opera gained momentum after the midseason, but ultimately fell victim to things that held our attention a little bit more.  Escalating outrageousness and cringe-inducing (in a good way!) plot twists raised the stakes for the series, so this one deserves a marathon to get caught up.
  • Falling Skies.  Our review of this summer series here at borg.com remains unchanged; we saw great potential, and though the series had its issues, it also had its positive aspects, and we’ll be tuning in this summer when episodes resume on TNT on June 17th at 9pm Eastern Time.  Hopefully the second season comes out with a bang and delivers on this series’ massive potential.  And you can catch a promising glimpse of the season opener here.
  • 30 Rock.  One of the favorites of past years, it isn’t at the top of viewing lists anymore, though if the episode focus is on Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, it can still be magic.  Because it only streams on his computer, it is tough for Jason to watch now.

So, what are the big winners this season at borg.com?

Lost Girl.  We are loving this lighthearted adult urban fantasy!  Satisfying world building based in European fairy lore combines with strong performances by the supporting cast to make this a weekly guilty pleasure.  It’s like Buffy for grownups–what Angel was trying to be, only done right.

Awake.  Launched in the same Thursday night time slot as The Firm, (which also hosted another fine debut series, Prime Suspect), this paranormal crime drama only gets better.  Jason Isaacs makes a compelling lead, and the series writers have wisely increased the genre stakes for the series, giving it extra pull.  They’re teasing the paranormal plot out very slowly, but when the moments hit, they pack a wallop.  We’re looking forward to seeing the mystery build.

Grimm.  Elizabeth’s personal favorite this season!  After a compelling pilot, this series has taken a while to get going.  But, as with Awake, they’re finally starting to really build the ongoing genre plot, adding complications to the established “monster murder of the week” formula.  New characters and a stronger focus on the otherworldly underbelly have given Grimm a much-needed boost, and we were happy to see that it’s been picked up for another season!  Friday nights just haven’t been the same without Chuck.  One thing we’d like to see more of, please: strong women characters.

New Girl.  C.J.’s favorite comedy of the past ten years and favorite series of the year.  He still cannot believe each episode is only a half an hour, since the writers crammed so much into each show.  Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is as put-upon as any classic female comedy lead in the Mary Richards variety, and is as brilliantly funny, smart and zany.  The supporting cast only got better throughout the first season, but the funny stories didn’t really explode with humor until they finally linked-up Max Greenfield’s Schmidt with Hannah Simone’s Cece.

Psych.  Still occupying the top spot in our must-watch lineup, the second half of the Psych season really delivered.  From beginning (the great season re-opener guest starring Cary Elwes) to end (that CLIFFHANGER!), with very few missteps in between (not sure what to make of “Let’s Do-Wop It Again,” with Shawn in the hospital and minus Keenan Thompson), all around, the show’s still got it.

The Walking Dead.  The second season of this series just got better and better, with deeper storylines, clever surprises, and a real aura of uncertainty around favorite characters survivability.  And the season finale was one of the best of the year (Michone!!!).  It’s the one series I simply cannot wait to resume in the fall.

Community.  This is Jason’s only show he will watch in real time.  The characters keep developing and adding depth and when the writers create a personality quirk, it is in service of character and not the story of the week.  He would visit the Greendale campus (and did as a background extra) to see all the characters, but attending Greendale would be the worst decision of his or anyone’s life except for those that want to learn to make a diorama.

House, M.D.  After Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) drove his car into Dr. Cuddy’s home we thought this series was pretty much done for.  We still had doubts that we’d need another season after House’s prison stint.  Then BAM!  This last season is on par with the best of its eight season run, especially because the writers have let Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) be Wilson, Chase (Jesse Spencer) be Chase, and Russian bride-in-name-only Dominika (Karolina Wydra) almost make it as House’s single perfect mate.  Although Charlene Yi and Odette Annable are fine as Drs. Park and Adams, the show still struggles with the one note Cameron/Thirteen replacement role.  We wish we had Amber Tamblyn back.  Although Omar Epps’s Dr. Foreman pretty much vanished, Peter Jacobson’s Dr. Taub continues to amuse to the bitter (?) end.

Fairly Legal.  Although we’ve fallen behind thanks to new diversions like Awake and Lost Girl, the sophomore season of this unusual, lighthearted legal drama continues to entertain. Star Sarah Shahi is cute and engaging (although we liked her better as a cynical cop in Life and as Gus’s adrenaline junkie girlfriend in a guest spot on Psych), even if her harried approach to life gets a little exhausting.  We’re hoping for a bigger role for Gerald McRaney this season.

In Plain Sight.  We’ve let the final season of this solid crime drama get backed up on our DVR, but from what we’ve seen so far, they’re going to round the series out nicely, with the same sharp dialogue and complex relationships that have given this series staying power despite a history of scheduling mishaps.  It’s nice to see Tangie Ambrose (Agent Parmalee) get a stronger role, Tia Carrere is always fun, and all things considered, I think everyone prefers baby Norah to Jinx and Brandi.

Parks and Recreation.  April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer and Ron Swanson continue to be three of the best characters on television.

A few other shows we’re thinking about, but haven’t mentioned here before:

  • Surburgatory. Jason has no clue what makes this interesting.  He laughs and that’s a big part.  The supporting cast (Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell (SNL) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is just so, goofy and fun. Mostly, it is earnest father and daughter relationship of the two leads, Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy.
  • Modern Family.  The second season of this award-winning series was side-splitting.  Better than the great comedic actors and fantastic use of the “mockumentary” format is the terrific writing of the scribes behind the show, particularly Jeffery Richman  & creator Steven Levitan. The stories of the three households making up the dysfunctional Modern Family intertwine effortlessly to create the funniest half-hour on network television.
  • CSI (Crime Scene Investigation).  After a dozen seasons in the bag and numerous cast changes, CSI could easily be slipping off of most people’s radar, especially with the mid-season exit of long-time favorite Marg Helgenberger.  And though it will never likely recover the viewership it enjoyed when William Peterson was on the cast, the new additions of Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue has been a breath of creative fresh air.  After missteps with recently departed cast, especially the badly conceived Dr. Ray Langston character portrayed by the excellent Lawrence Fishburne, the series seems to be back on an even keel and cranking out the crafty, clever alternative plotlines to the rote procedurals currently on the air everywhere else. Amen.
  • Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.  Only four episodes in, but having James Van Der Beek play a cartoon version of himself, keeps paying funny dividends.  If that lasts, this will be a keeper.
  • Mad Men.  Jason got rid of his cable and finding this show in a legal manner can be tough, but he knows it is worth it.
  • Archer.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy spy situations or give me death!”
  • Bob’s Burgers.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy burger joint situations or give me death!”

 

CW Network released the title for the new Warner Brothers TV series featuring Green Arrow yesterday, Arrow.  And the network released the first casting decision for the show–30-year old Canadian TV actor Stephen Amell will portray the lead role of Oliver Queen aka the urban archer superhero Green Arrow.  The new TV series will be directed by David Nutter with script by Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim.  We offered a few suggestions to the writing team here a few days ago when the series was announced.

The look from last year's Brightest Day mini-series wouldn't be so bad

Amell has had roles on several TV series: New Girl, Hung, 90210 (2011), Vampire Diaries, Heartland, Beautiful People, and Queer as Folk.  As long as he is sporting the goatee it seems like he could at least look the part.  And he has played a gigolo on Hung, which no doubt plays into Oliver’s ladies’ man status.

Along with the characters you’d expect, a variety of websites have posted the casting type-list for the series, and at the quick pace the series is coming together we can probably expect more cast members to be announced soon:

OLIVER QUEEN
A 27 year old reformed bad boy, who after having spent five years shipwrecked on a tiny, brutally dangerous island in the South China Sea returns to town a different man. Or to be more specific, a tortured, thoughtful master of the bow with a ferocious determination to make a difference.

DINAH “LAUREL” LANCE
28 years old, smart sexy, Laurel is a legal aid attorney determined to use her life as a one-woman war against the 1% following the death of her younger sister Sara. A sister, who as luck would have it, just so happened to have died aboard Oliver’s yacht.

Will the CW give Amell the energetic Cliff Chiang Green Arrow look?

TOMMY MERLYN
28 years old and devil-smooth, Tommy is a trustafarian like Oliver, a spectacularly rich young man whose life revolves around parties, clubs, liquor and lots of anonymous sex. Unlike Oliver, he can’t seem to understand his former best friend’s sudden change of lifestyle and direction.

MOIRA QUEEN
48 years old, a beautiful woman, Oliver’s mother Moira is a very wealthy woman who is not used to being shaken. Having remarried during the five years that former husband Robert and Oliver were both presumed dead, Moira has had free rein over the Queen billions. Not surprisingly, she’s deeply interested in learning whether or not Robert will also return unexpectedly, to ruin her present marriage and go over the books with a fine-tooth comb.

Will CW give Amell the cool Mauro Cascioli Green Arrow look?

JOHN DIGGLE
35 years old, African-American, Diggle is really, really big, a former military man who served with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan, and has been a bodyguard for hire for the last four years. Hired by Moira to be Oliver’s chauffeur and protector, Diggle soon finds he is trapped in a battle of wits, as Oliver repeatedly eludes his protection. But in fact, Diggle’s primary conflict is one of loyalty — he has to show that he’s working for Oliver, not Moira, before Oliver will give him a smidgen of trust.

THEA QUEEN
17 years old (suggest 17-22 years), Oliver’s Lolita-esque sister, Thea was a 12 year old girl when he went on his infamous yachting voyage — but now she’s a celebutante who’s testing the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Thea loved her big brother with all her heart, and is delighted to have him back in her life — but she’s spreading her wings, and is unprepared for Oliver to become the Bad Cop in the family, restricting her access to boys and drugs.

Actor Amell does have that cheesy Ollie smile

Definitely a lot of changes to past storylines, the series appears to be toying with the classic origin story and other than Oliver and Dinah, adding an entirely new character subset.  The biggest missing character is Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern.

No doubt we'll see Oliver's origin story as part of the series or in flashback, like that seen in artist Jock's Green Arrow: Year One

As a CW production we can probably expect a fair amount of the teen primetime soap formula, but hopefully it will more of the Veronica Mars variety as opposed to the 90210 variety.  I’m starting to get a bad vibe like this will be another show like ABC’s Revenge, spoiled rich kids acting…spoiled.

But we’ll reserve judgment til we actually see the pilot.  And we can hardly wait!

Read tons more about our favorite superhero, Green Arrow, here.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Years ago you couldn’t get through any New Year’s Eve without seeing or hearing Guy Lombardo playing “Roll Out the Barrel” and “Auld Lang Syne” and, hey, I really am not that old.  We also had Dick Clark, the man who never ages, and the big old ball drop in Times Square in New York City, that still keeps rolling along.

This is the album by Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Auld Lang Syne, now available on CD for only $2.99, that, back in 33 1/3 LP form, got worn out by several families across the U.S.:

One of the classic holiday tunes that is also all about New Years’ is Nancy Wilson’s What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

In the world of viral videos on You Tube, it is awesome and appropriate that one of our favorite celebrities of 2011 uploaded a free song to celebrate the New Year, Zooey Deschanel and her cool ukelele, accompanied by her good pal Joseph (Joe) Gordon-Levitt, hangin’ around the house singing.  But the result is great.  Check it out:

If you’re not keeping up with the year, Deschanel has had a super year.  You may know her from several movies, both drama and comedy, including one of the holiday season’s best new classics, Elf, with Will Farrell, or from her musical duo She & Him, and more recently by her hit comedy series on ABC, New Girl, that has garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.  We reviewed her new Christmas album a few weeks ago here, and we’ve been loving her TV series all season, and discussed it here, too.

You’ll recognize “RegularJoe” Joe Gordon-Levitt from everything from a kid on Family Ties to Dark Shadows to Quantum Leap, from Roseanne to The Outer Limits to the show that made him well known, 3rd Rock from the Sun, from films like G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra to Inception.  Next year will be a big year for Gordon-Levitt, as he will have roles in both The Dark Knight Rises, and play President Lincoln’s son in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, based on a Doris Kearns-Goodwin book.

Sounds like Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt are not an “item,” but they sure look cute together, right?  It makes you wonder if anyone is paying attention.  How about a musical like A Knight’s Tale, Ella Enchanted starring these two?  And how cool to give a song out like this for free?

Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Elizabeth C. Bunce, Jason McClain and C.J. Bunce

Last week the sixth episode of New Girl aired, and instead of waiting to establish itself the show went head-on into its Thanksgiving day episode.  And it could not have been funnier had it been from season 6 and we had spent years getting to know these characters.  In fact, unlike any other show this year New Girl hasn’t missed a beat, with every episode just as funny as the last.

A NEW HOLIDAY TRADITION:  New Girl, “Thanksgiving.”  Air date: November 15, 2011.

THE SETUP: Jess (Zooey Deschanel) asks co-worker Paul (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard, MacIntosh ads, Battle for Terra) to Thanksgiving at the loft.  The guys are apprehensive about Paul, until they find that he is just like Jess, including the spontaneous singing at any time.  Clearly Jess and Paul are made for each other.  Jess hasn’t made Thanksgiving dinner before, but Schmidt has, and Schmidt decides to make dinner for everyone so long as they get out of his way and do as he says, and so long as Jess’s girlfriend Cece (the model) is coming along.  Nick won’t give Paul a chance, and quickly decides he doesn’t like the guy.  Jess finds out and confronts him in the hall and pummels him with a rant about all the things she wants to do with Paul…umm… of the intimate variety, but all this is said in the silly way only Jess could come up with.  Until Winston opens the door and announces that everyone inside, including Paul, can hear.  Meanwhile, Schmidt has taken command of the kitchen and begins to criticize Cece for double dipping as he is making stuffing.  His mean comments to Cece actually make Schmidt attractive to her.  He has unlocked the secret to Cece… and Schmidt blows it.  Schmidt seems to get this, but she continues to taunt him, and ultimately germ-free cooking wins out over infatuation with his dream girl.  A burnt turkey and a dead body later, and it is hard to believe this was only a half hour show.

But that’s new TV.

So we thought about our favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes and want to share them with you to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

C.J.’s PICK: WKRP in Cincinnati, “Turkeys Away.”  Air date: October 30, 1978.

First off, if you haven’t seen it, take a half hour to watch here:

THE SETUP:  The lovable but slightly dim radio station manager, Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump), is feeling unwanted.  He’s trying to get involved with the radio station, work with the employees, participate somehow.  Receptionist Jennifer (Loni Anderson) runs the front office and won’t let Mr. Carlson touch or do anything.  News announcer Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) is paranoid when Mr. Carlson asks him what he’s been up to.  Sales manager Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) is full of his one-liner schtick.  DJ Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) fakes being asleep.  Carlson encounters DJ Venus (Tim Reid) and marketing manager Bailey (Jan Smithers), and he offers to help them, making the decision to give out free Boston T-shirts over Foreigner T-shirts, because he’s worried about the quality of foreign products (if you don’t get that joke, go review your 1970s rock bands).

Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) tries to console Mr. Carlson and it backfires.  Mr. Carlson is going to micro-manage the station, and develops a plan for the greatest promotion ever, where everyone has a part:  “I just made a deal that is going to make radio history,” he says.  They just need to get 20 live turkeys.

By the end of the half hour, we hear Les Nessman reporting from the street, “the big WKRP Thanksgiving turkey giveaway,” “the greatest turkey event in thanksgiving history,” “I think I hear something now,” “it’s a helicopter coming this way,” “something just came out of the back of the helicopter,” “no parachutes yet,” “I can’t tell what they are… Oh, my God, they’re turkeys!” “they’re hitting the ground like bags of wet cement,” “oh, my God, oh, the humanity!” “I can’t watch this anymore!”  Les’s reporting sounds just like the footage of the Hindenburg exploding.  The line goes dead.  Johnny fever announces: “The Pinedale Mall has just been bombed by Thanksgiving turkeys.”

The staff discusses what happened as Jennifer tries to explain what happened to the local humane society, and Mr. Carlson stumbles in with the classic line: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”  And you almost see the other actors start to laugh.

Surprisingly, other than Herb and Les’s clothes, the show isn’t that dated, and the office relationships are as real as in any office environment today.

“You made a bear!  Undo it!  Undo it!”

ELIZABETH’s PICK: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Pangs.”  Air date: November 23, 1999.

The Thanksgiving TV episode is almost as much of a contemporary American tradition as the holiday gathering itself (or if not that, then certainly equal to Black Friday commercial madness), and over the years we’ve seen some classics.  From the alltime fan favorite WKRP episode profiled by our esteemed editor, to the free-range turkey fiasco of Murphy Brown, to the more recent tartar-sauce-in-the-green-bean-casserole incident from Chuck, to the absurdist efforts of Dharma & Greg to combine vegan and traditional dishes—and relatives—into one meal, the Thanksgiving episode always provides an over-the-top look at holiday excess, in this case, the strained efforts of American families everywhere to create the Perfect Family Holiday.  In those outrageous examples, we see our own holidays reflected, and for 30-60 minutes, at least, feel relieved that at least we’re not that bad.

My personal favorite Thanksgiving show has to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Season 4 episode “Pangs.”

THE SETUP:  Like classic episodes before and since, this one revolves around Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ringer) attempt to recreate the Norman Rockwell holiday of her childhood.  But she’s hampered by absent family, a lack of cooking skills and equipment, ambivalent best friend Willow… and the angry ghost of a wronged Native American warrior seeking vengeance for the destruction of his tribe by white settlers.  This conflict reflects a very current, late 1990s concern about how Americans viewed our colonial past, and is particularly well-represented by Willow (Alyson Hannigan, Veronica Mars, How I Met Your Mother), who wants nothing to do with either the holiday meal or the vanquishing of the warrior spirit.

“Pangs” is, first and foremost, hilarious—as every great Thanksgiving episode must be.  In a way, it’s almost “Thanksgiving Deconstructed;” we get every piece of the traditional framework—but everything gets a Buffyesque twist. Strange relatives? Check—nobody’s stranger than mystically-syphilis-stricken Xander (Nicholas Brendon, Criminal Minds) and his tactless, ex-demon girlfriend Anya… except possibly down-on-his-luck vampire Spike (who’s already been kicked out by his own ‘family,’ of sorts).  Cooking drama?  How about confusing the stuffing recipe with a spell for combating the ghost?  And in the middle of it all is poor Buffy, as the classic harried hostess trying futilely to please everyone, when everything is falling apart around her.

Funny moments abound, but it’s the social commentary that makes this episode so memorable.  Archetypal Others Anya and Spike have never been more on-point in their blunt attacks on cultural sacred cows.  “I love a ritual sacrifice,” Anya declares about the traditional Turkey Day meal, and Spike deftly tramps all over the storyline’s key ethical dilemma in a clear but uncomfortable summation: “You won.  All right?  You came in and you killed them and you took their land.  That’s what conquering nations do. End of story.”  It’s a shocking, if alarmingly accurate, analysis—and only a show like Buffy could get away with saying it straight out like that.

“Pangs” definitely takes the catastrophic holiday theme to new lows, but it’s a perfect example of how genre fiction, by stretching concepts to their most outrageous limits, so often highlights the essential truths about issues we’re all grappling with—collective guilt, the inability to live up to imagined standards, and, of course, pie.  Happy ritual sacrifice, everyone!

“Look Ma, I’m on TV!”

JASON’s PICK: Mike and Molly, “Mike Cheats.”  Air date: November 21, 2011.

THE SETUP:  Surprisingly, well maybe not because Elizabeth and C.J. took “Buffy” and “WKRP” as those are two of my favorite shows ever and you probably don’t ever have to wonder why we all blog together, my favorite Thanksgiving episode ever just debuted on Monday November 21, 2011.  It is Mike and Molly and the episode “Mike Cheats.”  How can an episode less than a week old already reach the stratospheric heights that the other entries have?

Simple, I’m in it.  Since I’ve never been in a Thanksgiving TV episode, this is a whole new ball game.  I mean it has to be a favorite, right?

Early on in the episode, just after the credits, Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi) serves breakfast to Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) and Officer Carl McMillan (Reno Wilson).  Over Officer McMillan’s shoulder is a guy already eating his breakfast and talking to a bearded companion.  I’m that guy enjoying eggs and potatoes.

It’s wild being a part of a multi-camera sitcom.  You do film in front of a live studio audience.  The previous day, you rehearse and get to hear and see the rest of the scenes that take place on the other sets all in a line on the same stage.  You get to see how the button on Officer Biggs shirt pops off due to an air compressor.  You get to see the actors try different lines as they get new pages of scripts.  It’s a cool learning experience about how a show comes together.

It makes it even better when you can see me in the episode.  I have no lines, I’m in the background as a good background actor should be and I’m always in profile, but I’m still there.  I can point at that episode and say, “Look ma, I’m on TV.”  It may not have the same weight as the line, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly,” but I’ll take it.

A few years ago, I doubt I would have ever thought that I would be able to experience that.  Now, I do occasional background work, I’m hoping to get a novel published and I enjoy contributing to various sites on the web with my writing.  I’m thankful for the opportunities that allowed me to live in Los Angeles and achieve some creative goals and have a fun time seeing and doing new things.  I’m thankful for my friends and family with whom I share my love of writing and entertainment and for all their support.  It’s Thanksgiving and this is the perfect Thanksgiving episode to represent those feelings.

From everyone here at borg.com, Happy Thanksgiving!  Good luck with the hens, Jason!

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