We Can’t Stop Here: This is Lost Boy Country

Warning: If you haven’t seen episode 3.01 of Once Upon a Time, “The Heart of the Truest Believer,” this post may contain spoilers.

Sunday night’s third-season premiere of ABC’s family drama fantasy, Once Upon a Time, posed an interesting question, though I’m not entirely sure it’s the one the showrunners had in mind. (Although, it’s not exactly like they’re known for playing the long game.) But, in sending the vast majority of the first string to Neverland – and dropping a single player back into the Enchanted Forest – the start of the new season invited both die-hard Oncers and casual fans alike to consider the following: Can you sustain yourself on nostalgia alone?

If you’d tuned in at 7 p.m., you’d have been treated to an hour-long recap of season 2, condensing the entirety of the show’s (now incredibly) complicated mythology and highlighting the major plot points of last season. For me, the recap’s high point was its narration by Alfred Molina. But, in the interest giving the nebbishes steering this unwieldy ship some credit, the major talking points of the recap – and, frankly, of the series itself – are:

  • The corrupting influence of power;

  • the price of magic;

  • the search for “home”;

  • the damage parents unwittingly inflict on their children;

  • and the power of belief.

But I would argue the focus of Sunday’s premiere was actually the power of nostalgia; How that sense that things not only could or might have been better in another time, but were better, can corrupt our appreciation of the present. Consider, for a moment, a few of the major arcs of season 2. Regina’s mother, Cora, was shown as a power-hungry social climber who eventually used her only child to achieve the goals she’d never come near in her own youth. Rumpelstiltskin, when finally reunited with his son after centuries of self-inflicted separation, offers to rewind the clock and make his son a dependent teen again in a misguided attempt to make up for lost time. And even Snow and Charming, representing the shiny happy delegation of the Enchanted Forest, argue over the wisdom of returning to their former home and lives versus remaining in the world to which they were exiled.

The season opener, “The Heart of the Truest Believer,” picked up right where the second season finale left off: Rumpelstiltskin’s son, Neal/Baelfire, is missing, presumed dead. Emma’s son, Henry, is spirited off to Neverland by a couple of magic-hating interlopers who’d previously sought to destroy Storybrooke, which is sustained by an elaborate magical infrastructure. The town’s assorted white and black hats have agreed to a tentative armstice, in light of saving both the town and their own vested interests. And Emma; her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming; her step-grandmother, Queen Regina; and her son’s grandfather, Rumpelstiltskin, and psuedo-step-grandfather, Captain Hook, have all followed the proverbial rabbit down its hole in a no-holds-barred rescue of Henry. (Still with me?)

Officially, the tagline for the first half of Once’s third season is about Emma being forced to face her past when she finds herself in a place where no one has a future. And in so many ways, that is what Neverland represents: A place where children never grow up and learn to handle self-doubt, death, uncertainty and responsibility. Neverland is the home of the Lost Boys, children whose intense desire not to grow up, led them to a world governed by imagination and fun – but as rife with danger and uncertainty as our own. After all, J.M. Barrie’s novel pits Peter Pan against the manipulative adult figure of Captain Hook and his mindless crew of pirates, but there are other dangers in Neverland. It’s only Wendy Darling’s blind refusal to acknowledge that no world is safe, least of all that of childhood make-believe, that coats Peter Pan and Neverland in a sparkly top coat.

Once’s Neverland is dangerous from the word ‘go,’ with blood-thirsty Lost Boys, led by a particularly sadistic teen I’ve nicknamed “Blondie McScarface,” for want of an actual name.

The Storybrooke contingent is assaulted by violent mermaids who are seemingly part siren, part sea monster. And Henry unknowingly puts his own life in the hands of the very person who poses his greatest threat.

Meanwhile, Neal awakens from his brush with death in the Enchanted Forest, where he explains to a stranger why he took a bullet for a woman who wouldn’t normally acknowledge him. (Spoiler: It’s a healthy dose of guilt for breaking her heart, and an as-yet-undetermined amount for Emma.) Later, he realizes he must return to his father’s castle and, more troubling still, must use the very magic he blames for destroying his family in the first place.

    

The key to discovering how to reunite with Emma and their son and return to their world is his father’s walking stick. It’s one of the few times Neal shows any sentimentality regarding Rumpelstiltskin, and it’s telling that he gets a little verklempt over an object that reminds him of a time before his father had magic, when they were poor and powerless but happy together.

   

The high points were Neal’s interaction with Mulan, who, absent any romantic interest or prior knowledge of his past, treats him as an equal for Emma’s sake. Their friendship had a note of authenticity that is occasionally lacking in the other characters’ interactions, and we here at WWFTP are eager for Neal and Mulan to have further adventures, with or without the other remaining citizens of the Enchanted Forest. We found Kilian Jones less smarmy as Hook, and he arguably had the best line of the episode.

And we appreciated how different the show’s take on Neverland is from either the source material or the more obvious, Disney-fied take; while we have plenty of questions, we also found the Lost Boys and Peter Pan menacing enough to suspend disbelief on some of the vaguer points of the plot leading from Storybrooke to Neverland.

However, we were frustrated by Snow’s abrupt and unpredictable turn toward violence, which seemed entirely out of character, unless the showrunners have thought ahead for once and will reveal some aspect of Neverland’s magic that inhibits maturity.

We were also insulted that it’s taken the show two seasons to finally give Henry a motivation for his actions – the big reveal of the episode was Peter Pan’s desire for Henry being based in Henry’s role as “the truest believer” – but without giving his character more dimension than he had in the first season, when he was believed Storybrooke was a lie. Any opinion on the young actor who portrays Henry aside, we’re ready for the character to stop being treated as a plot device for the advancement of his mothers’ storylines.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention Robert Carlyle and Lana Parilla’s performances. Becca requested I mention how flattering Carlyle’s Rumpelstiltskin looked in his open-collared shirt. I would add that his boredom with Blondie McScarface’s threats was one of the character’s most amusing moment in three seasons.

Likewise, Lana Parilla outdid herself, swinging between a nearly sweet moment with Hook as they discussed the possibility of a happy ending for villains like themselves to her brusqueness when Emma named herself the leader of their misfit band to the second and third best lines of the episode.

The showrunners may think their characters are focused on the struggle between hearth and ultimate cosmic power, but whether it’s Emma’s refusal to accept her parents’ rose-tinted vision of their past or Hook’s gift to her of Neal’s old sword, the real question of the first major arc this season is whether the characters will continue to rely power of their nostalgia, or whether they will finally face the consequences of their actions. Even Kitsis and Horowitz are trading on the audience’s nostalgia, stating that their Peter Pan is not the one of our childhood – or of the peanut butter.

And, in the end, the Neverland of Wendy Darling’s childhood is not the same after her return to London. She eventually realized vowing never to grow up wouldn’t keep her safe; only actively trying to change what was expected of her would give her the security she felt she needed.

“I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago.” – Chapter 17: When Wendy Grew Up

I only hope Emma takes a page from Wendy’s book, and follows a similar path, or considering the knot of abandoned storylines from last season, stays on any kind of identifiable path.

The Premiere of SNL

Oh, Saturday Night Live, you held so much promise with the announcement of Tina Fey as the host for your 39th season premiere. Sadly, as the premiere went on expectations were not met.

It’s always fun when an old cast member hosts. One reason is they bring back well-loved characters, but, as Tina Fey pointed out in her opening monologue, she really didn’t have any. Still, fans had reason to expect great things. Tina Fey has hosted the show three times before this, and they were all better than this one. This one felt as if it was thrown together last minute.

First, there was quite a bit of focus on the new cast members. Sure, there was “hazing” at the beginning, which I would have been fine with, if that was the only time they were in the spotlight. But the show started to feel like it was mainly focusing on the new members, rather than the veterans who have paid their dues.

Case in point: The whole “Is it a new cast member or a member of Arcade Fire” should have been scrapped. We get it SNL: You have new cast members. You don’t have to throw it in our faces constantly. Plus, the one thing that could have saved the skit wasn’t used. When Tina asked to use a friend, it would have been better if an old cast member had come out. Amy Poehler was the obvious choice, and the majority of my Twitter timeline was expecting it.  Amy did not come out, or even Jimmy Fallon. Instead, Lorne Michaels was the friend. It was disappointing. One reason it was so disappointing was he acted as if he did not know his new cast members by sight. And I would like to remind SNL: Even if Amy was in Los Angeles, phoning a friend would have worked. There is this beautiful thing called technology, and they should have taken advantage of it.

I was disappointed by the lack of old cast members. It is one of the things I look forward to the most when an old cast member hosts. Yet, I saw none. There was no Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, Maya Rudolph, no one. There was another great chance missed when Weekend Update was on. Of course Tina Fey would show up because she helped host it. First she hosted with Jimmy Fallon, and then with Amy Poehler. Again, the show missed another great opportunity by not having one of them or both come out during Weekend Update. Think about how great it would have been to see all of them together.

One of the few things that saved this new cast centric episode was Aaron Paul’s cameo. With Breaking Bad’s finale airing tonight, they made good use of him. It almost felt like he was co-hosting with Tina with how much we saw of him. This leads me to conclude: Aaron Paul needs to host SNL soon. He shone with the skits he was involved with. However, it’s sad because he had more memorable material than Tina. Cameos are meant to help highlight the show, not take over.

Other highlights:

*

*

*Cecily Strong is now co-hosting Weekend Update with Seth Meyers, and when he leaves she might be the first woman to host by herself. Keep an eye on her.

*And more Aaron Paul

Tune In / Tune Out: Week of Sept. 22, 2013

When we met up last night to discuss the first full week of the Fall 2013 TV season, we found ourselves a tad overwhelmed. So many new shows premiered this week that we found ourselves trying to remember exactly what we’d watched and what we’d thought. But this week’s Tune In / Tune Out represents what we found most memorable, for better or worse.

Tune IN

Sleepy Hollow: The dynamic between Lt. Mills and Crane was enjoyable, and the feel of them being partners is evident. It was a good second episode, and I’m glad John Cho is back, even with his deformed neck. The last five minutes of the show was what stood out to me the most. I hope Abbie continues to see the sheriff, and I can’t wait to see where the show goes with her sister being involved. – Becca

The Blacklist: James Spader did not disappoint. I enjoyed his role on the show, and it will be interesting to see where it goes. I’m still getting a he-could-be-Keen’s-father vibe from the show, and hope there is another reason why he is so interested in her. Keen, herself, was good, and I particularly enjoyed that what appeared to be a happy, normal life was, in fact, not. I know that may sound wrong, but I enjoyed the twist with her husband, and I can’t wait to see why he married her. – Becca

How I Met Your Mother: The first half of the hour-long season premiere was lackluster, but the second half (“Coming Back”) made up for it. Between Marshall’s storyline with Sherri Shepherd, Barney coming to terms with his brother’s bad news, and a long-awaited glimpse into Ted’s future with The Mother, this episode brought the heart and the laughs that we remember from seasons past. – Kerry

And the audience goes ‘awwww.’

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The show had its ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs. Knowing Joss Whedon’s other works, this is only the beginning of something promising. The problem is it is too hard to have background, a story, and a real depth into the introduction of characters in one hour. – Becca

Person of Interest: After a sophomore season spent relying on the major female characters to play girlfriends or be satisfied with lackluster romance b-plots, the third season opened with impressive performances from Taraji P. Henson, Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, whose characters each had meaty storylines that almost outshone the Number of the Week. And if The Machine does have a female consciousness, the third season may be POI’s Season of the HBIC. Fingers crossed. – Moff

“It’s ‘Root’ if you’re nice. ‘The Right Hand of God’ if you’re nasty.”

Parks and Recreation: The sixth season opener, “London,” started with an impromptu wedding between Ron Swanson and his girlfriend, Diane, which is probably one of the best weddings we’ve seen on television.

We hear ya, Leslie.

Leslie, meanwhile, was grappling with the reality of her recall election while she visited London to receive an award, and the bitterness that comes with a thankless job. Between speeches from Ron and April to cheer her up, along with exciting news from Ann and Chris, Leslie seemed to break out of her funk. We were also delighted to see Peter Serafinowicz appear as Lord Covington, as well as Henry Winkler as Jean-Ralphio’s father, Dr. Sapperstein. The highlight of the episode was Ron’s tour of the Lagavulin distillery, which Leslie had sent him on as a surprise. – Kerry

Tune OUT

NCIS: LA: It’s funny. While NCIS managed to start off its 11th season with an interesting, if not earth-shaking premiere, its younger sibling started off its fifth season with a less than impressive outing. Maybe it’s that I can’t quite accept Christopher Lambert as a villain when I keep expecting him to whip out a katana and battle to the death. Maybe it’s how played out the Janvier storyline feels at this point, especially as we seem to know no more about him than we did at his introduction. Or maybe I just don’t like seeing Eric Christian Olsen looking so defeated. Tsk, tsk, show. Tsk tsk. – Moff

Come back to Greendale, Vaughn. It’s safe now, we swear. Jeff graduated.

The Michael J. Fox Show (second episode): The story was predictable, and while it had a few good lines, it was nowhere as good as the pilot. The plot of Mike hitting on his neighbor, and belittling his co-worker, Harris, was off-putting even after his explanation. – Becca

Moms: Like Dads, it feels as if everyone is too good for this show. The tagline could be ‘history keeps repeating itself,’ with the three generations of women having close to the same storylines. A good Chuck Lorre show would be Dharma and Greg, not this. The only way it would become interesting is if it was Salem, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, doing the daily affirmations at the beginning of the show because he was slowly trying to take over the world. – Becca

Talk about unlucky black cats.

Once More, With Secrecy

Warning: If you haven’t seen the pilot episode of ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this post may contain spoilers.

Ah, fall. Where basic network TV shows welcome you back to your couch for three hours of your night, if not more. The time where favorite shows return, and people make snap judgements on pilots. Hasn’t anyone ever taught them you should not always judge a show by its pilot? A pilot is a wonderful thing: It helps networks decide whether to pick up a show, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect.

Agents of SHIELD was a great pilot. Sure there was a certain amount of cheese factor to it, but it is a good family show from the Whedon brothers, Joss and Jed. (Jed Whedon’s wife and creative partner, Maurissa Tancharoen, is also a co-writer and co-executive producer.) For example, when Phil Coulson comes out of the dark and says he thinks a light bulb might be out, it works because of Clark Gregg’s delivery. Of course there will be cheese, but the good kind, like Velveeta.

It is the kind of show that requires multiple viewings for the viewer to catch all the details put into it. The identifier which recognized Coulson, Maria Hill, and Grant Ward told them to “say cheese.” I got a thrill when I heard it the first time and immediately rewound just to make sure I had heard correctly. I love it when a show pays attention to detail.

I also love the fact that a new viewer who hasn’t seen the Marvel superhero films would not be lost. Yes, there were several Easter Eggs in explaining the background for the avid Marvel fan, but it worked in a way that included both long-time fans and new viewers.

Casting is always a big deal with me, and the show has done an excellent job. There were some familiar faces from the Whedonverse, like J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel) and Ron Glass (Shepherd Book on Firefly/Serenity), but they were there because they are excellent actors. I enjoyed seeing Glass, who played the doctor for S.H.I.E.L.D., and I hope we get to see more of him. Also, Richards (Gunn) did an excellent job of putting emotion into the character of Mike Peterson. The father-son relationship was great, and the way Mike cared for his son was moving.

The decision to include Cobie Smulders in the pilot was beyond brilliant. It makes this feel more like home for Avengers fans, and Cobie is an awesome actor. Her interplay with Coulson brought familiarity, and I can’t wait until she reappears on the show again. Why did this have to be the year she’s getting married on How I Met Your Mother? Of course, this is HIMYM’s final season, so hopefully we will see more of her next year, if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D gets another season.

Fitz and Simmons are adorable. They are the lab techies of the show, with Fitz being the genius in engineering, and Simmons in biochemistry.  They are a team, but they have their own personalities. I enjoyed their brother and sister interactions a great deal. It felt real, especially with them trying to talk over the other one.

Finally, the return of Son of Coul. Clark Gregg is the best part of this show. His character brings a big human element to a show about superhumans, geniuses, and gods. His character was already one of my favorites, and my love for him has already grown deeper with watching this pilot. I was entertained by everything he did, from the jokes to his affection for all of the other characters. I’m glad Joss Whedon brought him back from the dead, but after the conversation Hill had with the Doctor, I know all is not right. Perhaps Tahiti is apparently not all it is cracked up to be. I will probably want to cry once the truth is revealed later. For now, I’m going to push it to the back of my mind and celebrate the fact that Coulson is back with his beloved Lola.

Joss Whedon and company are known for character-driven shows; he writes characters with depth. I think it’s what he does best. This show will definitely be primarily about the characters, and less about the different situations they face week to week. The majority of the main characters have already received hints on their backgrounds with this show, and it will be interesting to see them delved into further.

How I Was In Love With Your Aunt Robin Right Up Until The Minute I Met Your Mother

himym01

I didn’t expect to have a lot to say about the How I Met Your Mother hour-long premiere. I wouldn’t say I’ve been eagerly anticipating its return, but I wasn’t dreading it, either. The season 8 finale set up some questionable things (Ted searching for Robin’s locket, Marshall and Lily inexplicably deciding to move to Rome, Marshall getting the job he’s always dreamed about ever since mid-season) but it also promised a lot of great stuff (Barney and Robin’s wedding, meeting The Mother).

Then over the summer, we got the news that the entirety of the ninth and final season would take place during Barney and Robin’s wedding. At first, I groaned, because it seemed like the sort of thing a group of writers would pull when they don’t have anything good to fill their final season. But then I remembered that this is HIMYM, the whole show is told in flashbacks, flashforwards, even a questionable attempt at parallel universes… and I thought, “You know, maybe this could work.”

Well in the first episode, “The Locket,” I don’t think it worked. We started out with a title card informing us that it was 55 hours before the wedding, which means we are in for the longest weekend in television history. Still, with this gang, it’s probably gonna be a weekend filled with booze, gambling, a pineapple, and another trip to Philly to lick the Liberty Bell, right? The world is our oyster! Why else would these writers stretch out a weekend into an entire TV season? They must have a good story to tell!

 

So it was extra-super-double disappointing to sit through a cringe-filled Barney and Robin storyline where they wondered if they were distant cousins. Let me tell you, after eight solid seasons of cheering for these crazy kids–yes, even after “The Rough Patch,” still one of the weirdest and saddest TV breakups I’ve endured–after sobbing my face off during “The Robin,” where Barney orchestrated a beautiful proposal–after all of that, what I really wanted to see was two people, a mere 55 hours before their wedding, who were ready to throw up at the sight of each other. It wasn’t romantic, and it wasn’t funny. (At any given time, I find myself wondering if these writers actually like Barney and Robin together, or if they subscribe to the Dan Harmon philosophy of continually putting together the fan favorites only to tear them down. Some showrunners just want to watch the world burn.)

The flipside of the Barney/Robin stuff was the stuff with Ted. The ever-elusive locket that Robin was oddly attached to (but now she seems over it) has turned into some kind of symbol for Ted: If he finds that locket for Robin, she will recognize that he would go to the ends of the Earth for her, and maybe she’ll leave Barney. (Is that what Ted is expecting? It’s unclear.)

 

At the end of the episode, we are led to believe that Ted flew to Los Angeles to ask Stella if she has the locket (you know, because it was in the pencil box… never mind, I don’t feel like following that thread) but we still don’t know if Ted has it in his possession. What we do know is that Ted is still harboring romantic feelings for Robin even at this late hour.

I love Ted, but I think that’s because I know a Ted in real life, and my Real Life Ted married his Stella, and it’s not going to end well. I know how frustrating it is to watch an awesome person chase the wrong thing. You want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and tell them that they deserve better than what they’re settling for, that everything’s gonna be okay, that “You might have to wait a little while more, but she’s on her way, Ted. And she’s getting here as fast as she can.”

 

Sure, on this show, we have the advantage of knowing that Ted ends up happy with The Mother, but in real life, we don’t know these things for sure. And when you stare across at someone you care about and try to tell them, for the billionth time, that you just know she is out there, eventually that stops feeling true… for all of us.

But that’s not why this Ted, our fictional Theodore Evelyn Mosby, is so frustrating. He is frustrating not because we know what’s waiting for him at the wedding reception, but because he keeps going back to the same failing formula even though it didn’t work any of the other times he tried it. He wasn’t happy with Robin. He loved her very much, he’ll always love her, but I’m willing to bet that Ted won’t even realize how unhappy he was with Robin until he meets The Mother. Ted is the sort of person who knows exactly what he wants, and all of the things he wants have always been the opposite of what Robin wants. He wants to settle down, have kids, live in the suburbs of New York, and grow old comfortably. He wants to be around the same people and tell the same stories all the time, and he hopes to one day sit down his two children and tell them the world’s longest “how we met” story. And we love that about Ted! That is his version of romance, and it sounds pretty dang great, even if it’s not what each of us want.

But Robin never wanted those things; she wanted to travel and move constantly, she wanted to work, she doesn’t dream of growing old, and she likes to meet new people and try new things. Not only can she not bear children, but she’s not interested in adopting or raising children at all. At the end of the day, no matter how fantastic Robin is as a person, a wife, or a reporter, Ted still would have been settling for her, because he was sacrificing nearly everything that made him happy just to be with her.

This is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said during a breakup.

I said it during the episode and I stand by it now: I don’t know how the Ted/Robin fans are able to stand this storyline. Even if something happens and Barney and Robin don’t get hitched, we still know that Ted/The Mother is definitely endgame. Don’t the Ted/Robin fans feel jerked around at this point?

There were still some good parts to this episode, though: Barney saying “ringbear.” The Mother. The Som’bitch cookies. And most of all, DAPHNE. But we’ll get to her in a minute.

himym02

The second half-hour, “Coming Back,” was a completely new episode, and it functioned a lot better in the concept of the ninth season. The locket storyline was temporarily dropped, and Barney and Robin moved from their weird incest worries to actual relationship-testing stuff. The only storyline that continued from the premiere was my personal favorite: Marshall’s wild attempts to get from Minnesota to New York in time for the wedding.

 

In the previous episode, Marshall had gotten himself and his seat mate, Daphne, kicked off of their flight for fighting. This episode followed them as they tried to book new flights, but to no avail. They both ran to rent cars, but thanks to a ridiculous set of circumstances, Marshall rented a car (The Monstrosity) that lacked a baby seat, and Daphne needed a ride.

A lot of people don’t like the episodes where Marshall goes back to his naive Midwestern ways, but I really enjoy them. As much as I was cheering for road trip shenanigans with Marshall and Daphne, I also like that there is a character on TV like Marshall, who always unwaveringly believes in the goodness of humanity. It could’ve ended badly for him, and by all accounts, it looked like it was going to end badly… But at the end of the episode, Daphne rolled up in The Monstrosity, carseat in tow, and I did a happy dance. As voiceover Ted says, “When you believe in people, people come through.”

(I really want Daphne to stick around at least for the first half of the season. Jason Segel was funnier in these two episodes with her than he has been for the last two or three seasons, and I like the dynamic between them.)

Meanwhile, Ted grappled with his singleness, but not in annoying Ted-ish way, while earning the overbearing sympathy of the front desk clerk, Curtis, who was the other stellar guest star that really made his mark. Not only did he have great scenes with Ted (“We don’t get a lot of singles here. I mean, look at this place. Countless babies conceived within these walls, and one… grisly murder”), he also had a particularly funny scene with Barney where he pointed out the closest, dirtiest strip clubs and added, “If you do go, maybe you could take Ted. I’m really worried about that kid.”

If we get to have Curtis for the entire season, it’ll be fantastic

The major storyline of the episode was James’ divorce announcement. It’s doubly sad for Barney because it was James who made Barney believe in marriage (all silly gypsy curse storylines aside, because really, HIMYM? Gypsy curses?) and it’s triple-y sad for Barney because it was James who cheated on Tom, lending credence to the idea that Stinson men can’t handle commitment. But instead of freaking out like everyone expected, Barney took it stoically and told Robin, “I don’t need them to make me believe in true love anymore. I’ve got you for that now.” That’s the sweetest thing Barney’s ever said.

Perhaps the only truly sad part was this line from James: “I’m trying to be happy for my brother, but I guess a person has a different perspective on weddings when he knows what’s down there at the end of the aisle. It’s not all champagne and frosting.” Ted looked deeply affected, even near tears, when James said that, and I can’t figure out if it’s because he’s just so sad for James that it didn’t work out; if he’s sad for himself that he hasn’t even gotten to the point of failing at a marriage; or if it’s because he’s still losing hope with every passing day. But when James got up to leave, Ted said, “You’re not giving up, James. And neither am I.”

It’s disappointing to see a character like James, who was so happy with his kids and his husband and his life, sit down with Ted and have such a solemn moment, where he can’t even really muster up some excitement for his brother.

But we ended with a highlight, a scene that might make my Top 5 Favorite HIMYM Scenes of all time: present Ted, sitting alone at a lounge table with his crossword, while one-year-from-now Ted and The Mother sit down and talk about that day. “One year ago today, I made a promise to myself, right at this table: I’m coming back, and I’m bringing you.”

Other highlights of this episode: “Bondage high five!”, the caramel and chocolate marzipan erotic cakes Barney had made for James and Tom, Herm the car rental salesman, Ted’s “Vesuvius! Booyah!… Oh wait, that doesn’t fit,” and I think Curtis and Daphne deserve second mentions because they really were fantastic.

himym04

On a completely shallow note, I am loving the sets they’ve created for the Farhampton Inn. The lobby/reception area is my favorite, but the lounge and what we saw of the guest rooms were beautifully designed and fit the gorgeous exterior they are using as the inn.

himym03

Maybe I’m just a sucker for New England architecture

Top 5 Anticipated Returning Shows

I wish I could put Community on this list, but according to NBC it is TBD right now.

5. Once Upon A Time (Sept. 29, ABC at 8 P.M.):

While the show is definitely not one of the best out there, and the sophomore season had major problems, I’m still anticipating the third season. Once Upon a Time in some ways started the deeper friendship I have with the two other mods of this blog. We all knew each other because of Community, but our friendship grew stronger from watching Once Upon a Time together. It is always fun to dissect a show with someone, and with Once there is plenty of material to use.

Hopefully the third season will be better than the second. Last year, the creators secured the rights to Peter Pan mid-season, which made them like kids in a candy store. The potential of characters and stories were wrecked. What happened to FrankenWolf, Pinnochio, or Belle as her own character, without Rumple, as storylines? There was a point during the second season where there was a glimpse of a Belle and Ruby friendship, but Meghan Ory, who plays Ruby/Red, suffered because the creators’ attention span was short.

 Fortunately for Meghan, she will be starring with the gorgeous Josh Holloway on the new CBS show, Intelligence.

The writers have also stated they are doing only two story arcs this year. This fall’s continuous episode run will contain the first arc. Let us celebrate that we won’t get two episodes and then have to wait three weeks for a new episode. The pacing should be better this way. Also, the writers should have a better idea on where the fall and then winter arcs are going. Here’s hoping for some continuity.

Another reason to look forward to the third season is because Jane Espenson is still a writer on the show; I genuinely love the episodes she writes. They are full of plot, and we get a great depth from her stories.

Finally, the actors make the show watchable, especially when you have an urge to yell at where the story is going. For me Lana Parrilla and Robery Carlyle are the two best actors on the show, and the show would be lost without them.

Oh. I also watch for Robert’s face. I find it extremely attractive.

Sexy with sass.

4. Castle (Sept. 23, ABC at 10 P.M.):

How is Beckett going to respond to Castle’s proposal? Well, that question was answered during last night’s sixth season premiere.

I have been hooked on this show since season one, and a major part of that has been Nathan Fillion, who plays Richard “Rick” Castle. The man is so lovable. It has been great to see his character development on this show. For the first two seasons, he had the characteristics of a man who was probably never going to grow up, but slowly started to grow up during these past five seasons. (Don’t get me wrong, he was always a great father to Alexis, but his character needed to mature.)

I then fell for the show with the rest of the characters. I love the cast, and I believe it is one of the better ones on TV. There is not a character on the show who I dislike.

Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic, is a great opposite for Castle. She is a great cop, who is smart and doesn’t put up with Castle’s behavior when it starts to go into childlike territory. Beckett is an awesome person. She was able to recreate Rear Window for Castle when he broke his leg. I really love the their dynamic: It may not be His Girl Friday, but I would put the two of them together with some of the great screwball couples. Just don’t ask me to call them by their shipper name.

Then we have the bromance of the show between Detectives Esposito and Ryan, played by Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever, respectively. It is a beautiful relationship. I love that they have had their ups and downs, from points where they have each others backs to those where they don’t want to talk to each other ever again.

However, they quickly make up, and the bromance slowly becomes great again. I also love that these two are their own individual characters. They have very different voices, and they each bring something to the show.

Then there is Lanie Parish, played by Tamala Jones.  She is excellent at being Beckett’s best friend and will always have her back, especially when someone has wronged Beckett.

She is also the kind of person you would never want to cross because your life would not be pleasant. The writers have also created an intriguing, but not too intrusive, on-again-off-again relationship between her and Esposito, which I find enjoyable.

Finally, one of my favorite dynamics is Castle’s family. Castle’s daughter, Alexis, played by Molly C. Quinn, was first introduced as the responsible one of the family. Throughout the show’s , she has loosened up without losing the traits of being a smart, capable young woman. The relationship between Castle and his daughter is beautiful, and is one of my favorite father-daughter relationships on TV because I feel a deep connection between the two with no animosity.

 We also have Castle’s mother, Martha Rodgers, played by Susan Sullivan. She is a lover of the arts, but I feel she knows how a family works. In my opinion, she gives some of the best advice to both Castle and Alexis. I love the flair she has.

This show is beautiful from its cast to the writing, and if you are not watching it, then you should be, because you are missing out.

3. Parks and Recreation (Sept. 26, NBC at 8 P.M.):

Ron Swanson is with child. That should be enough of a reason to watch this show.

Of course, there are other reasons why you should watch this show, like great cast, smart writing, fantastic acting, and gif-fable staging.

Amy Poehler, who plays Leslie Knope, is a big reason why Parks and Recreation is amazing. She is this beautiful, amazing human being, and the world would be less awesome without her. She is the reason why Leslie Knope works, and why the character is so lovable.

Then there is Adam Scott, who plays Leslie’s counterpart, Ben Wyatt. Generally, watching Ben Wyatt turns into a ‘look at his face’ on both my Twitter and Tumblr timelines. He is the lovable nerd, and loves Leslie so much, which makes him more lovable.

I have already mentioned him, but Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman, is one of the greatest characters on TV right now. It is going to be interesting to see him become a father, especially when the mother is played by Lucy Lawless.

One of my most favorite characters is April Ludgate, played by Aubrey Plaza. The relationships she has with the other characters are some of the best. She and Ron have a kind of father-daughter relationship. They hardly show emotions, but you can tell they love each other through their nonchalant style.

It is always great to see scenes of Leslie and April together. They seem like polar opposites; however, as the seasons have gone by, it is becoming more apparent that maybe they are not so different. Sure the personalities at first appearance throw the viewer off, but as time goes on I’m finding more similarities between the two: The love they have for the people they love and are both slowly climbing up the political ladder. (Can you imagine April as President?)

Last but not least is April’s relationship with her husband, Andy Dwyer. I love their relationship. At times it seems so carefree, but there is a great depth in it. I love how each of them support and have faith in each other. They make their relationship work, and people should think again if they think this relationship will not last. It is a very beautiful relationship.

There are MANY reasons why someone should watch this show, and if these reasons haven’t sold someone, they should at least watch for Retta’s character, Donna Meagle. She has game.

2. Elementary (Sept. 26, CBS at 10 P.M.):

I was in my English class last year when I mentioned that CBS was making their own Sherlock show, and I had a girl tell me, “We do not mention that show.”

This immediately increased my interest in the show, because I wanted her to be proven wrong about this show, and she was. She still may not recognize this show, but this show has grown into its own, and is loved by many. That’s what I love about the Sherlock adaptations; they are their own and they all work. For me it is like reading a book: No one is ever going to have the same take on a story as another person.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have a great dynamic. Their relationship has grown into something beautiful, where she was only his sober companion in the beginning to being his friend and partner at the end of season one.

Lucy Liu makes an excellent Watson because she doesn’t put up with Sherlock’s arrogance.

                                     

I loved her when she was facing Moriarty, and how she was the one who proved she was not just Sherlock’s “mascot.” She was the one who figured out Moriarty, and was able to take her down.

This show is also awesome because they decided to combine the two characters of Irene Adler and Moriarty. The last two episodes of the first season were emotional, and I fell in love with the idea of having Sherlock’s nemesis also being the woman he loved. It put him in a vulnerable situation, and Miller played it incredibly well. Props also have to be given to Natalie Dormer: The way she played both characters was superb, and I hope we revisit the storyline again.

Another reason why I’m looking forward to season two is meeting Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, who will be played by Rhys Ifans. I’m anticipating what the dynamic will be like with him and Miller as well as Liu. With Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock, Mycroft’s interaction was mainly with Watson’s new wife. We hardly saw anything between Mycroft and Sherlock, with the exception of a few minutes of them trying to prove who was smarter.

Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes, with Martin Freeman

In the BBC version, Mycroft plays the big brother looking after a younger, sometimes infantile brother. I want to see how different the relationship will be.

Did I forget to mention that I am attracted to Jonny Lee Miller’s face and his voice? Because I am. His face helps make my night great.

Finally, Clyde. I know Moff would feel a little remorse if I did not mention Clyde the Turtle, and how we all look forward to seeing the little green guy every time he appears on screen.

1. Arrow (Oct. 9, CW at 8 P.M.)

Arrow is an AMAZING show and quickly became one of my favorite TV shows of the year, especially after I was slightly disappointed with some of the other shows I watch. Where they let me down in some areas, Arrow only became better as the season went on (especially after they were able to lose Oliver’s narrations).

This show is in no loss of the FEELS department. The first season finale proved that. TOMMY!

One GREAT thing about this show is they know when something works, they keep it. Manu Bennett (one of Kerry’s favorites), who plays Slade, is now a series regular. This means we will get more good Island stories. The Island stories are great, and are sometimes even better than some of the storylines happening in Starling City. Give me Oliver Queen, as played by Stephen Amell, on the Island over a flashback of Oliver and Laurel any day of the week. The only bad thing about the Island are Amell’s wigs. Let us all gather together around a bonfire and burn those things.

They have also made Emily Bett Rickards’ character, Felicity Smoak (who is QUEEN by the way), a regular for season two.

I LOVE that a guest character, who was possibly recurring, quickly became something more and joined the Arrow team. She is this quirky girl who is very intelligent and knows how to stand up to Oliver and his really awful lies. (That man cannot lie when it comes to her.) Felicity Smoak is AMAZING, and I can’t wait to get more of her, especially if that includes backstory.

One of things that worked splendidly was the Arrow team. The show got better once David Ramsey’s John Diggle joined Oliver. Diggle is an amazing character, and a really great counterpart to Oliver. His expressions alone are priceless.

Felicity made it even better when she joined the team. The three of them as a team is something magical, and leads to some of my favorite scenes.

Felicity and Diggle are a great balance to Oliver’s broodiness, and he would be lost without them.

Have I mentioned the eye candy on this show? What more can I ask for? (Besides Laurel showing expression or actually crying.)

Of course we watch for the plot.

Emmys 2013 – In a Nutshell

Today, all over the internet, bloggers and critics alike are panning last night’s Neil Patrick Harris-hosted 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. They are right to do so; it was kind of a mess. Between the way they played nearly every deserving winner off the stage, the technical difficulties, and the constant reminder that death is imminent, it can easily be defined as a somber affair. Even Neil himself seemed to want the show to be over.

There were some bright spots, though:

Merritt Wever‘s acceptance speech, which has been lauded as the best awards speech in the history of everything. “Thank you so much! Thank you so much… I gotta go, bye.”

— The reign of the Modern Family cast is finally over! Maybe now they’ll stop submitting the entire cast into the “supporting” category and leave room for more deserving comedic actors/actresses. (I’m still really upset that Nick Offerman wasn’t nominated for his role as Ron Swanson.)

Diahann Carroll. Just the fact that she was there, her fantastic speech, and her easy laughs were enough to elevate the show, at least temporarily.

— The amazing routine that all of the Outstanding Choreography nominees collaborated on, with homages to the likes of Mad Men and American Horror Story. It was the most captivating part of the show, and even the subsequent Derek Hough win couldn’t temper the viewers’ enthusiasm for the segment.

— Then, of course, there was this:

Mindy Kaling called Stephen Amell “Arrow” and “handsome” within the space of a minute, and it was impressive that he kept up with her. This was the real reason I was even paying attention to the Emmys, and Stephen didn’t disappoint. He even rewarded himself afterwards:

That’s really all we here at WWFTP HQ have to say about this year’s Emmys. What did you guys think?