Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Supernatural {Seasons 1-3} ~ a TV show review

Genres: drama, horror, fantasy, action, adventure, mystery
Lead Actors: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Supernatural is an American TV show that focuses on brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki), who were raised by their father from an early age to hunt all things evil - spirits, vampires, werewolves, and demons. When the show begins, Sam has left this life to go to college because he doesn't get along with his father, John Winchester, who is obsessed with finding the demon that killed Sam and Dean's mother, Mary Winchester. However, when Dean shows up with the news that "Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days", Sam decides to go on one last trip to help his father. However, when the brothers don't find their father, and Sam's girlfriend is killed by the same demon that killed Mary, Sam goes back to hunting with his brother, hoping to find his father and get revenge along with him. After season one, the plots start to get more condensed, with more episodes focusing on the theme of the season rather than episodes with just hunting.

Dean (left); Sam (right)

My favourite part of this TV show are the rituals that have hints of Catholicism in them. While Dean is agnostic (though he does gain some more faith as the show goes on) and Sam has some belief in God, there are undoubtedly Catholic undertones to the show. First, there is Sam and Dean themselves, who risk their lives on a daily basis to save innocent people. However, what I am going to focus on are the exorcisms. Like what one may find on a Catholic website about demonic possession, a person who is possessed has a voice and face (black eyes in the show) change. The demons in the show will flinch at the name of Christ or if they are touched by holy water. To exorcise demons, Sam and Dean use rosaries, holy water, and  actual exorcisms in Latin. One of the exorcisms in the show roughly translates to:

"Thus, cursed demon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you. Cease to deceive human creatures, and to give to them the Poison of Eternal Perdition.  Go away, Satan, inventor and master of all deceit, enemy of humanity's salvation. Be humble under the Powerful Hand of God --tremble and flee -- I invoke by us the Sacred and Terrible Name at which those down below tremble. From the snares of the devil, free us, Lord. So that You may make Your Church safe to serve You freely, we ask You, hear us. So that You may destroy the enemies of Your Sacred Church, we ask You, hear us!"

Therefore, while there is no priest doing the exorcism in Supernatural like it should be, I am willing to let that slide because I find it impressive that a secular TV show would have such Catholic elements in it. When it comes to the demons, even the Seven Deadly Sins show up. But really, the demons are horrible. I love the idea of fighting the forces of evil, but if there's one thing I have to say about this show, it would be that it really puts the fear of Satan and Hell into me!

However, like almost any other contemporary TV show, Supernatural has some problems - therefore, it's not for kids (but even then, I think the horror would be too much for a young person). There are some camera focuses on certain parts of a woman's body from time to time and/or some inappropriate women outfits, especially if it's an episode with a vampire because they are very lustful creatures. Dean is a player, but it's more amusing than inappropriate. There are two scenes that I had to skip - one with Dean in season 1 ("Route 666", which is a great episode besides that one part so that was really unfortunate) and one with Sam in season 2 ("Heart").

There's another issue in this show (mainly season 3) that I'm a little iffy on. If there's one thing Dean and his father are good at, it's horrible decisions. What horrible decisions, you ask? (This information is major spoilers, by the way.) At the beginning of season 2, John Winchester sells his soul to the demon that killed his wife to bring Dean back to life. And when Sam is killed at the end of season 2, Dean sells his soul to bring his brother back to life. HOWEVER - and this is the thing that makes me forgive the producers/writers for this - the issue isn't taken lightly. Things only really started happening at the end of season 3, but there's definitely going to be consequences. As it is, season 3 ended with Dean in Hell, tortured, screaming - and from what I've seen so far of season 4, the show gets redeemed pretty fast.

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10 (with 1 warning flag)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blank Space ~ a Taylor Swift Review

"Blank Space" is one of my favourite songs off Taylor Swift's new album 1989. In this song, Taylor paints herself as the character the media portrays her to be - dating dozens of boys and insane. The song is very ironic and is full of sarcasm. Being a fan of Taylor for five years now, I really like that she addressed the media's lies about her in this way - much better than proclaiming everyone a "hater" like in "Shake It Off".

The music video, however, is even better. Not only does Taylor take on this character in her song, but she also does so in the video. I am very impressed by everything about this music video - the beautiful luxury house and grounds, fighting matching up to the lyrics, the hallway full of painting of Taylor's "ex-lovers", the gorgeous costumes, Taylor with cry-smears of mascara and an axe but yet still looking flawless. I'm not going to say anymore, otherwise, I would be gushing for hours. Even though Taylor's music has gone downhill with her latest album, the music video for "Blank Space" is her best yet.

Alyianna's ratings
Song: 9 out of 10
Music video: 10 out of 10

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dark Water / Death in Heaven ~ Doctor Who Episode Review

I find that people either seem to really love or really hate the Series 8 finale two-parter of Doctor Who. I am one of those who is leaning towards the "really love" side. While this finale was not quite as good as past finales have been, it was definitely the best of the episodes this season and had some stellar elements.

(Read on for spoilers.)

Bringing back former characters Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood was a great idea. I loved how they just took the new Doctor in stride without wondering who he was or exclaiming that he had changed his face. I don't know about the rest of the fans, but I know I was excited when the Doctor told Osgood to put "all of time and space" on her bucket list. However, I guess that's not going to happen now, is it? I'm sad that Osgood is gone for good, but it feels final. There were only so many times that she could be pulled up for another episode before it started feeling like the must-haves but also cheesy robot Santas from Russell Davies' Christmas episodes.

Danny was great. His sacrifice showed off his character, and I really admire how honourable he was. He was too good for Clara, if you ask me. Speaking about Clara....

Clara - she's annoyed me this season. I hate how Moffat rewrote her character into the egomaniac and controlling companion. She had some good moments this finale - such as the scene at the volcano at the beginning of "Dark Water" and her final scene with the Doctor in "Death in Heaven". However, there were enough of her scenes controlling the Doctor that spoiled Clara for me once and for all. I'm actually glad that she's gone. Clara was a great character in season 7, but she just wasn't right this season. I don't know if Moffat was trying to lessen the sadness of her leaving, but I think I would have preferred to have the heartbreak rather than feeling relief that she was finally gone.

The real wow of this finale, however, was Missy. The Master should have stayed male, but Michelle Gomez played the part really well. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Missy and the Doctor, and how their friendship was expanded from last time (series 4 with John Simm - who is still my favourite Master). I was very disappointed when Missy was killed - or did she teleport away? Moffat has supposedly hinted that Missy might appear in Series 9!

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TV Shows of 2014 - How They're Going So Far

Doctor Who (Series 8)
I've been disappointed with this season so far. Peter Capaldi is a great Twelfth Doctor, and I like how Moffat has changed his style for this new era, but most of the episodes have been pretty weak. However, the first part of the finale on Saturday was very good. The best episodes of this season so far, in my opinion, are "Deep Breath" (S8E1), "Kill the Moon" (S8E7), "Mummy on the Orient Express" (S8E8), "In the Forest of the Night" (S8E10), and "Dark Water" (S8E11). (Appropriate for kids)

Genre: science fiction
Alyianna's rating: 8 out of 10

Downton Abbey (Series 5)
Downton Abbey is keeping up its drama with no sign of stopping. Every episode is just great - I don't have any complaints here. The cinematography, character portrayal, and plot are just as astounding as ever. Sometimes, same old is just the way a TV show should stay. (*cough cough* Doctor Who *cough cough*)

Genre: period drama
Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

Once Upon a Time (Season 4)
Unlike Downton Abbey, Once Upon a Time has started to run a little dry. The amazing character development of Regina and Rumpelstiltskin has seemed to have been discarded. The Frozen add-ons have been interesting, but aren't played as well as they could be. While the Snow Queen is really good, Anna is a touch annoying. There's also altogether too much focus on Emma. I really appreciate that Sunday's episode gave some backstory to Belle, but I feel that the directors shied away from the question of the knife and Rumple's trustworthiness all too quickly. Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon, though I feel it should have been touched long before now. "Breaking Glass" has been the best episode of this season so far. (Appropriate for kids)

Genre: fantasy
Alyianna's rating: 7 out of 10

Selfie (Season 1)
My reaction to the trailer was "how did Karen Gillan fall so low after Doctor Who?" However, I've been pleasantly surprised by the show so far. There's been some good lessons regarding friendship and avoiding the Internet. The last episode, "Nugget of Wisdom", in which Eliza (played by Karen Gillan) babysits a friend's son, was a scream. Very funny, very good. Not for kids, though. (1 warning flag)

Genre: comedy
Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10