A Review of Castle or Why Nathan Fillion is My Hero

/ TV /

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but, yeah, Nathan Fillion is pretty awesome. He’s not the only reason, but he is certainly one of the main reasons, why Castle is such an enjoyable show.

At this point, I’ve just watched the first season, which was a paltry 10 episodes, but I definitely like what I’ve seen so far. Yes, it is a murder mystery, which isn’t usually my genre of choice, but the writing is great, the banter is witty, and Nathan Fillion is almost smarmy. Wow, did I really just use the word smarmy?

Nathan Fillion basically steals the show. Fillion has long held a place of honor in the geek community and for good reason. Nathan Fillion is and always will be Malcolm Reynolds. It doesn’t matter what show or movie he appears in, part of me will always think of Firefly and make me smile. At the moment, he’s basically the Harrison Ford of television. I mean, Ford is an amazing actor, but he’ll always be Han Solo and Indiana Jones in my heart no matter what role he plays.

He also plays the part of Richard Castle really well. He really does a great job coming across as a confident and charming best-selling author. And that leads me to another thing I enjoy about the show–I love that the protagonist is an author. Over the last few years, I’ve really gotten into reading and I’m intrigued by how authors work so it’s been fun to get a peak into the life of a writer.

The supporting characters are also interesting, especially Kate Beckett. She has a dark and mysterious past that I can’t wait to crack open. Sure, we’ve gotten some of the details already, but there seems to be more story to tell there. It’s also nice to see a strong female lead, even if she can’t help but fall for Castle.

If you haven’t watched the show and you like murder mysteries or you like writing or you just like Nathan Fillion, then I would definitely recommend Castle. In fact, even if you don’t particularly like any of those things, you still might like the show. It’s fun and easy to watch.

Random Thoughts

/ Geek Stuff, TV /

I’ve been trying to think up an excuse for not posting for two weeks and, well, I haven’t come up with one yet. I’m pretty sure that I’ve just been lazy. Yeah, that’s not a great excuse, but that’s life for you. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like writing; I just want to go to bed. Is that too much to ask? I hope not.

Anyways, during the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve thought of a whole bunch of geeky things that I really need to post about, but instead of actually posting about any of those things now, I’m just going to post the list of things that I will post about later. (And you thought I couldn’t get any lazier).

  1. Supernatural – Jinkies, Supernatural is one awesome show. My brother and I have watched the first five seasons on Neftlix and I still can’t get over how much I enjoyed it. We just demolished the series. I really wanted to tear into season 6, but that’s proving difficult. Sad face :(
  2. Warehouse 13 – After we finished Supernatural, we were looking for something else to watch. I had watched the first few episodes of Warehouse 13 season 1 back when it originally aired and found it to be a pretty fun show. Then I attended the panel at Comic-Con and decided that I needed to catch up. Now, I’ve finished season 1 and I’m just waiting for season 2 to come out on DVD.
  3. X-Files – I’ve been watching season 1 of the X-Files on instant watch (through Netflix) in between discs. I’m about 3/4 of the way through and I’ve found it to be pretty interesting despite one horrific theme song/intro.
  4. Castle – Now I’ve moved onto Castle. Not sci-fi so much, but it does have Nathan Fillion and I think that makes up for anything else it lacks. Very enjoyable so far!
  5. The Wise Man’s Fear – I finished The Name of the Wind a few weeks ago and loved it. Even though I have a bunch of unread books sitting on my bookshelf right now, I decided to skip them and go straight for the sequel. Review forthcoming!

Ooooo. The last thing I wanted to mention was that I came across a sweet set of action figures today that I don’t think I can pass on buying. I haven’t bought an action figure since I picked up The Man in Black and Jacob (from LOST) at Comic-Con, but I think it’s time to make another $20-some splurge. That’s right, Scott Pilgrim action figures.

Sure, they only have Scott (poor Ramona), but both figures look really sweet and I think they’ll look even more amazing on my desk!

The best deal I’ve seen is at Entertainment Earth. They have the pair for $24. Not bad.

Chuck VS the A-Team

/ TV /

I have to say, this wasn’t the greatest episode of all time. The quality of the show has really been tapering off since they captured Volkov. The last couple weeks or so have just felt a little flat. It looks like Volkov’s daughter will be set up as the next villain, but it can’t come soon enough.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the most recent episodes have been all that bad, but they certainly haven’t been up to their normal caliber. What it does mean is that I’m struggling to find any “top moments” from this week’s episode. Morgan didn’t produce any major laughs, nor did Jeff and Lester. Chuck and Sarah’s mission was…well they didn’t really even have a mission. Instead, they just tagged along with the “A-Team” and Chuck diffused a nuclear bomb with apple juice. Um, yeah. Even for Chuck, that was a little cheesy.

So instead of reaching for moments and making a half-hearted attempt at a list, I’m just going to call it a night and hope for a better episode next week. The delivery of the laptop to Ellie does at least give me some hope for something interesting in future episodes. If nothing else, it means we’ll get to see more of Sarah Lancaster and that is never a bad thing. Also, the previews for next week’s episode looked rather promising.

Chuck VS The First Bank of Evil

/ TV /

Okay, so I’ve been lazy (and reading the Wheel of Time) over the past few weeks and I haven’t posted my standard Chuck “top moments,” but tonight I’m back on track. Tonight’s episode was pretty good, but it wasn’t exceptional.

Unfortunately, I feel like the episodes have been a bit lacking since Volkov was captured, Ellie had a bady, Chuck proposed to Sarah, and Jeffster performed all in one wicked episode. Understandably, that’s a bit much to top, but the episodes have been just a little on the bland side since then.

Nonetheless, I like the direction that the story is heading and I think we’re in store for some more good episodes before the season is out. If nothing else, Chuck consistently delivers with its finales so I’m sure we’ll get at least one truly awesome episode.

Well, with no further ado, here are my favorite moments from tonight’s episode:

4 – Star Wars pillowcases. I know that we’ve seen them before, but I love Morgan’s pillowcases. I wish I had a set for myself!

3 – Renaissance fair at the Buy More. Not as hilarious as some of Jeff and Lester’s previous hijinks, but still amusing.

2 – The bank heist. Even if it was just for distraction, it was pretty sweet. Chuck and Sarah had some amusing banter and I definitely enjoyed the Sarah’s Matrix moment.

1 – Vivian goes darkside. This was a little predictable, but we have been in need of a decent villain since Volkov was taken down. Lauren Cohan (Vivian Volkov) played a wily thief (I guess you might say) in season three of Supernatural so I’ve seen her is a somewhat villainous role before and I thought she did quite well. I really liked her character in that show and I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she is pretty darn sexy.

Reflecting on Whedon: Angel

/ TV /

After discovering Buffy the Vampire Slayer and devouring all seven seasons on Netflix, I set my sights on the spinoff starring David Boreanz, Angel. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Angel wasn’t exactly my favorite character in the Buffyverse, but I had faith that Joss would deliver something good nonetheless.

I was right. Angel was a good show. After watching all five seasons, I think I have decided that I liked Buffy slightly better, but it’s really a pretty tough call. Buffy probably had better characters and better humor, but Angel was no slouch either.

As is typical with Whedon’s shows, the episodes tended to vary wildly–sometimes they were funny, sometimes thought-provoking, and sometimes depressing. Not all of the episodes were amazing, but most were good or better.

Spoilers ahead!

Favorite Season: Season 4

This is an insanely difficult choice for me. I like season 4 for a lot of reasons, but it wasn’t perfect. I really liked the story, because it had great villains and a lot of plot elements were tied together nicely. It also had a great cast of characters. The cast was really sparse early in the show, but it eventually expanded and each new character gave the show more depth and variety.

But there were some things I didn’t like, namely Conner. He was just such a terribly written character. Whenever the writers needed a scapegoat, it was Conner. And he was so damn annoying; the teenage angst was more than I could bear.

Least Favorite Season: Season 5

Let’s face it, season 5 came on the heals of one epic season that just could not be topped. Season 5 floundered with filler episodes and, in the end, didn’t get around to addressing the bigger picture until the last minute. The concept didn’t work from the start and the episodes just weren’t the same quality I had come to expect.

Perhaps the thing that annoyed me the most was that Fred was killed. It was a stupid stunt and it was petty. What made it worse was that we were reminded every following episode with the presence of Illyria. It didn’t improve the show at all, in fact I think it was only worse after that point.

Favorite Episode: Smile Time

Yes, there were great episodes in each season no doubt, but there were none so amazingly hilarious as “Smile Time.” The one bright spot in season 5 was the ridiculous episode where Angel is turned into a puppet.

Least Favorite Episode: Lullaby

This is the episode where Conner was born. By this time, I couldn’t have been more sick of Darla. She was way overused and I grew very tired of her character. I never cared for the concept of her being pregnant and watching an entire episode of her whining and moaning through labor didn’t win her any points in my book.

Runner up: “The Girl in Question.”

There were three episodes left in the entire series and the writers had the audacity to show a filler episode where Angel and Spike travel to Rome and bicker over Buffy. They didn’t even cast Sarah Michelle Gellar in the episode. It was just dumb.

Favorite Character: Fred

I think it was the smile that sold me. Fred was exactly what the show needed after a couple of pretty bleak early seasons. I also really liked Wesley and Gunn. Their chemistry, especially in season 2, was a surprise and I thought it worked really well. Cordelia also ended up being a much better character than I ever would have guessed.

Least Favorite Character: Conner

Considering how much I have already ranted about him, I’ll move on.

Favorite Villain: Jasmine

Angel never really had the same caliber of villains that Buffy had, but Jasmine was pretty solid. If nothing else, I respect the casting choice.

Least Favorite Villain: Darla

She was only a semi, partial villain, but I simply grew tired of her.

I’m a little disappointed that this post seems to have turned out a bit on the negative side, but when you really love something, the parts that you don’t love can really stand out. I think that is what happened here.

If you didn’t see it previously, I also reflected on Buffy back in December. I think I’ll tackle Dollhouse next and save the best (Firefly) for last!

Chuck vs The Gobbler

/ TV /

I thought tonight’s episode of Chuck was really good. No, it didn’t have so much of the good-natured humor or the larger-than-life fight sequences, but what it did have was a deep and meaningful plot and all of our favorite characters jammed into one episode. Here are some of my favorite parts:

Back in black

Sarah in that catsuit was smoking! I still prefer her as a blonde, but I can’t deny that I enjoy watching her kick ass in tight-fitting leather.

Volkov

What an awesome villain! And so excellently portrayed by Timothy Dalton. I just love that Volkov is this weird hopeless romantic that enjoys painting and poetry. It’s pretty strange, but it works.

Risk

I love Risk (and strategy board games in general). It is definitely one of my games of all time. I’m just not sure why Morgan rolled the dice after he said it was his turn. He does realize that’s not how the games works, right?

Amazing cast

Seriously. As usual, the episode featured Chuck, Morgan, Casey, and Sarah. But it also included Jeff and Lester, Big Mike, Chuck’s mom, Volkov, Awesome, Ellie, and Alex. I think the only character we missed was Colonel Beckman.

I was really glad to see Ellie and Awesome; it had been too long since they had been featured in an episode. And Alex is so cute. Let’s just say Morgan has done pretty well for himself.

So yeah, just an awesome ensemble of characters and an awesome episode. All it really lacked was some Summer Glau-style Greta action. :)

Chuck vs The Balcony

/ TV /

After much waiting, Chuck finally returned this evening with a new episode, “Chuck vs The Balcony.” Overall, it was pretty good. It had some quality comedic moments and actually a pretty nice twist at the end. Here are my favorites (SPOILERS AHEAD!):

Chuck’s amazing catch
I knew Chuck was good, but the fight scene where he had to keep the wine from spilling was ridiculous (in a good way) and catching the wine glass on the back of his hand capped it off perfectly.

Sarah take’s over Morgan’s operation
I loved how Sarah basically decided the proposal was going to happen even if she had to orchestrate the entire thing.

The Twist
Sarah is going undercover to infiltrate Volkov! I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Lester!
Oh my god, Lester’s song was glorious! The moment his Nerd Herd uniform flew off, I knew we were in for something special, but Lester’s rendition of 80’s big hair legend Whitesnake was beyond awesome. My hat’s off to you, fine sir.

The list is short and simple this week. Can’t wait to see what’s in store next time!

2010 in Review

/ Books, Geek Stuff, Movies, TV /

With the coming of the new year, I decided to reflect on the books I read and the movies and television that I watched in 2010.

Books

Best Reads

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Changes by Jim Butcher
  4. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Best Surprise

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Changes by Jim Butcher

Biggest Disappointment

  1. Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Best Character

  1. Winner: Kelsier (from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn)
  2. Runner up: Fitz (from Robin Hobb’s Farseer series)

Movies

Best Movie

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  2. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  3. Inception
  4. Tron Legacy

Most Anticipated Movie

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Television

Best Television Show

  1. Lost
  2. Chuck

Best New Television Show

  1. The Event

Best “New to Me” Television Show

  1. Supernatural
  2. Arrested Development

Best Good Guy

  1. Chuck (Chuck)
  2. Hurley (Lost)

Best Bad Guy

  1. The Man in Black (Lost)
  2. Volkov (Chuck)

Hottest Lady

  1. Greta (Summer Glau) on Chuck
  2. Sarah on Chuck

So long 2010 and thanks for all the fish.

Reflecting on Whedon: Buffy

/ TV /

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is perhaps Joss Whedon’s most brilliant work. With it, Whedon explored human nature and took viewers on a journey of incredible highs and despairing lows. I never thought a show about vampires could be so intuitive and deep. I never thought it could touch me and leave me wrestling with my emotions like it did.

Buffy probably isn’t my favorite Whedon show (I think that honor goes Firefly), but that doesn’t mean that I find it lacking. Buffy was a fantastic journey and once I got started, it was almost impossible to stop. I literally just requested one disc after another from Neflix until I had seen the whole series.

I suppose I could sit here and write an in depth analysis of what the series means to me, but that doesn’t sound like a lot fun. Instead, I’m just going to list out some of my favorite things from the show, because I like making lists and it’s a hell of a lot easier. Oh, and if you haven’t already guessed, spoilers ahead.

Favorite Season: Season 3

This was a really hard choice. I chose Season 3 mostly because it had a whole lot of Faith and she was an awesome character, but also because I felt like the show really hit its stride that season, producing a slew of very good episodes.

I also considered seasons 2 and 5. I really liked season 2 because it had a lot of funny episodes and Spike and Drusilla were possibly the best villains in the series. Season 5 was great because it had an excellent ongoing story arch and brought some new and interesting elements to the show.

Least Favorite Season: Season 6

Season 6 was just depressing. Buffy came back from the dead and was miserable; she dated Spike despite the fact that she loathed him; poor Tara died at the hands of a really crappy villain; and Willow went bad. There really wasn’t much that I did like in terms of plot. It was still Buffy, so there were always positives that I could take away from each episode, but it was a major letdown after an excellent season 5.

Favorite Episode: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

I don’t really know if that was my favorite episode, but it was fantastically funny and stands out in my mind as a very enjoyable 42 minutes.

Another episode that really stands out in my mind is Prophecy Girl, the season 1 finale. I would say that episode was the one that really sold the show for me. Up until that point, season 1 was mostly campy fun with some occasional deep episodes. The finale, however, made me realize how much potential that the show really had.

Least Favorite Episode: Beer Bad

Just really lame. Enough said.

Favorite Character: Xander

Really, I liked most of the characters in the show a great deal. The characters were definitely one of the best parts. They were just so well written and developed. Buffy, Willow, Giles, Angel, Faith, Spike, Drusilla, Xander–all great characters. I picked Xander because he was such a lovable loser, one of the only characters with no special abilities. He was the guy that you could always relate to, the guy you could count on for a laugh, and one of the only good male characters in the later seasons.

Least Favorite Character: Anya

I could never really get into Anya as a character. I just always found her to be annoying. For the first three seasons, I always thought that Willow and Xander would pair up, but, well, that prospect was crushed in season 4 for other reasons. Nonetheless, Xander and Anya was not nearly as cute and Xander and Willow would have been.

Favorite Villain: Faith

Faith was an awesome villain, a slayer gone bad, an equal to Buffy in deadly skill. She really was a sad case and you could feel for her–she wasn’t your typical villain, but she still kicked some serious butt.

Spike and Drusilla (from season 2) were definitely a close second.

Least Favorite Villain: The dudes from season 6

Yeah, they could be somewhat humorous, but I’ve always felt that one of the reasons that season 6 wasn’t as good as the others was because there wasn’t a good villain. Plus, the whole Tara thing made me pretty mad.

Well, I think that pretty much tells why I loved watching this show. After writing this, I feel like I need to add seasons to my Netflix instant queue and watch some of my favorite episodes.

Reflecting on the Work of Joss Whedon

/ TV /

I’m currently watching the fifth and final season of Angel, and when I finish watching the series, I will have watched all of Whedon’s television series in full. Now, with just seven episodes left, I’ve been thinking back to how I first ventured into the vast and beautiful universe of Joss Whedon, lovingly dubbed the Whedonverse by his countless legions of fans.

It was back in college–2005–when I first discovered Whedon’s work. I was in my senior year and I saw a trailer on TV for Serenity. I thought it looked terrible, so terrible in fact that I later checked rottentomatoes.com just to see how bad everyone else thought it was. What I found blew me away. The reviews were incredibly positive, one even going so far as to compare it to The Empire Strikes Back, my favorite movie.

Needless to say, I grabbed a friend and went straight to the movie theater and, yeah, it was awesome. When I learned that it was based on a TV show, It was really excited, because that meant I got to see more of the stellar crew of the Serenity.

A short time later, I acquired the series on DVD and burned through Firefly it no time. Then I took a break from Whedon. At some point I discovered that the creator of both Firefly and Serenity was also responsible for Buffy and Angel, but I didn’t feel compelled to dive into those series. Buffy was a show that the “weird” kids in high school watched and I had no love for vampires. (Later, I would see the err of my ways.)

Then three years later, in 2008, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog came around and was a web sensation, going viral instantly. I watched it. It was amusing, but I wasn’t blown away. (Later, however, I wound find myself playing the audio regularly at work.)

So when I heard about Dollhouse, Whedon’s latest creation, a short time later, I was intrigued. The concept sounded pretty cool and I had loved Firefly and Serenity so much that I thought it would be worth checking out. I’m so glad that I did. No, Dollhouse, won’t go down as my favorite piece of the Whedonverse, but after watching the first season (which wasn’t even half as good as the second), I was intrigued enough by Whedon’s work to snag the first disc of season one of Buffy with my newly acquired Neflix account.

The rest is pretty much history. Since then, I’ve watched all seven seasons of Buffy and moved onto Angel. I’ve also watched all of Dollhouse and the second season, largely thanks to Whedon alum, Summer Glau, was fantastic.

Now, Dollhouse is over and I’m almost done with Angel. When I finish the series, I suspect it will only leave me looking for more. What am I going to do? Whedon’s work has pretty much been a staple in my life for like the last two years. The incredible writing, the drama, the humor, and, yeah, the action…I’m going to miss it.

Perhaps I’ll jump into the graphic novels. I think Buffy, Angel, and Firefly have all spurred graphic novels written by Joss and some of his family members. I’ve heard some of them are quite good in fact. I’ve never been a huge comic guy, but I might just have to make an exception.

Another thing that will keep me occupied for a little while is Supernatural. This show is fantastic and reminds me a lot of Whedon’s work. It has great dramatic themes and just the right amount of wit. Unfortunately, I’m pretty far along and it won’t keep me occupied for long.

Perhaps there is no substitute. Perhaps the only thing I can do is rewatch my favorite episodes of those amazing shows (like I’m doing with Firefly now). Whatever I do, I’m really glad that I made the journey through the Whedonverse. It was far more powerful, wonderful, and humorous than I ever would have guessed. Whedon’s work spoke to me in ways that no other show ever has.

Thank you Joss for making my life a little shinier. My hat’s off to you.