Watch This: Arrow

(Proud of me for resisting a title like “Arrow Hits The Mark?” You should be. I also might have made the title: “Stephen Amell Gives This Wretched World The Olliver Queen It Deserves.”)

So, can you tell that I am kind of a slave to The CW? I may no longer watch Gossip Girl (though my love for Blair Waldorf is absolute and undying), but I am absolutely in love with The Vampire Diaries—which is much, much better than the title would suggest, is actually better than True Blood, and has something like fourteen million viewers. Though it was tragically not renewed, last season’s The Secret Circle was absolutely amazing. And I watch Supernatural every Wednesday night—that show is several episodes into its eighth season.

So, as a great big nerd, I was excited but nervous when I heard that The CW was making a show based upon the DC superhero, Green Arrow. Despite the appearance of the protagonist and a number of excellent casting decisions, Smallville, which reimagined Clark Kent’s adolescence as he comes to terms with his blossoming superpowers and struggles to save the day while keeping his secret, all before his days as Superman, Smallville was just not a good show. There were wonderful things about it. There were also some dreadful things about it that made it difficult to watch.

The Green Arrow himself looks like a Robin Hood figure. He is a masterful archer whose gadgety arrows (often self-indulgent gadgety arrows) assist him in a number of circumstances (you know Hawkeye from The Avengers? Similar basic idea. Radically different characters and backstories). In real life, his name is Olliver Queen, and he is a billionaire and owns a company, Queen Consolidated, which is based in Star City—one of many fictional metropolitan areas that exist within the DC Universe (like Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Bludhaven). His villains are rarely big-shots, but assassin and archer Merlyn is arguably his archenemy, and Green Arrow has always had unpleasant run-ins with the Eastern European aristocratic supervillain, Count Vertigo. He has a sidekick, Speedy (best shown on Young Justice, where in addition to being incredibly handsome, he ceases to be a sidekick and adopts the name “Red Arrow”). Above all else, Green Arrow is an archer who learned how to shoot a bow while trapped on an island after his boat was sabotaged. Now he works in secret …

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Not A Tale As Old As Time

photo of beauty and the beast pictures
I was born in the later 1980s and I grew up in the 1990s. Disney’s Aladdin was the first film that I ever saw in a theater. While my two favorite Disney films were Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, I also watched and enjoyed Beauty and the Beast. Not as much, admittedly, because Disney films are all about the villains, and Beauty and the Beast is one of those Disney films that did not have a “Disney villain,” but rather an actually detestable, genuinely villainous antagonist—Gaston. As a preschooler, I wanted to be friends with Maleficent, Ursula, and Jafar. I genuinely hated Gaston.*

Speaking of Gaston, who else loved the fate that befell him on Once Upon A Time? (And who else is totally shipping Belle with Ruby? Oh, that’s right. Almost everyone who watches the show.)

Once Upon A Time is not the only recent show to borrow from fairy tales. I am speaking, of course, of The CW’s Beauty and the Beast, which premiered a few weeks ago and plays on Thursday nights after The Vampire Diaries (a show which I absolutely adore).

Now, I love The CW. Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Arrow, Gossip Girl. For every unwatchable Heart of Dixie, they have something that I look forward to every week. The CW has been very good to me. The Secret Circle was also just wonderful, but was for some reason it was canceled. And this year, Beauty and the Beast has taken its time-slot.

Unfortunately, this show is . . . not the best.

I found the pilot episode reasonably enjoyable. I love the leading actress (she was Lana Lang on Smallville, which was a great show if you can ignore the terrible writing and just concentrate on Tom Welling), and this show’s biggest strength is the protagonist, who is a detective, and her partner, another female detective. I love their interactions and their dialogue. And it’s almost primarily a crime drama, and I love crime dramas. Plus, the protagonist kicks ass, and I love kickass female protagonists. As you may have noticed.

It’s shortcomings? Well, it’s a reboot of the kind of the weird Beauty and the Beast series from the 1980s, but with a lot of differences. It borrows from Dark Angel (remember Jessica Alba in post-apocalyptic Seattle?). The crime in the pilot episode is directly stolen from a season one episode of The Closer. The type of poison used, how the poison was delivered, and even the motive for the poisoning.

But, possibly more importantly, the “beast” himself is just not terribly interesting. I mean, he’s a handsome guy. But his entire story has to do with his deep-seated anger issues which arose from being the subject of horrible experiments. I . . . I am just not interested in watching a show in which one of the main character has explosive outbursts of anger. It makes me uncomfortable, and I spend any scene with him in it feeling anxious. Not everyone feels that way, but a lot of the comments on tumblr seem to be that his behavior is “triggery.” And that’s accurate.

The CW is a wonderful network. But Beauty and the Beast just did not appeal to me enough to keep up with it. Does anyone disagree?


*Plus, “every last inch of him’s covered with hair.” Gross. I know that they didn’t have Nair or laser hair-removal (which, thanks to ambiguities in the English language, sounds like a process that removes laser hairs) back then, but they had scissors, razors, and wax. Pick one, Gaston.

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Nerd Alert: Just Girls

photo of young justice pictures
On a list of current television shows, Young Justice rates among not only my favorites, but those shows which I most highly recommend. To anyone. It’s one of those shows that I forget that kids watch, too, because I am pretty accustomed to watching it and discussing it with my friends (we’re all in our twenties).

Created by Greg Weisman (maker of Gargoyles, one of the best shows of all time) and the talented Brandon Vietti, Young Justice has an interesting story, beautiful animation (and character-designs), and excellent voice-acting. And it also has wonderful characters. Of particular interest is its wonderful cast of powerful female characters—who are not simply “painted with the same brush.” These are wonderful characters for girls to look up to, or to broaden how boys see female superheroes (and females in general). They are also just really genuinely enjoyable characters to watch.

Young Justice follows a covert team of young (adolescent) DC superheroes (initially “side-kicks”) who work under the instruction of the Justice League but who are not official members of the League. In a world where big-name superheroes have celebrity status, that can have its advantages. Initially composed only of Robin (Dick Grayson), Aqualad (an original Aqualad conceived especially for this series), Kid Flash (Wally West), and Superboy (a clone, grown by supervillains as a weapon), numerous characters join the team. Miss Martian (M’gann) is first, followed soon by Artemis (an archer who is the only non-supervillain member of her family). Before the …

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Watch This: The Good Wife

photo of the good wife pictures
You guys, all of my shows are about to start back up. On September 29th, the new seasons of Clone Wars and Merlin begin, and season two of Young Justice continues. On September 30th, in addition to the pilot of 666 Park Avenue (which I may watch, despite the silly title), the second season premiere of Once Upon A Time and the fourth season premiere of The Good Wife airs.

It’s The Good Wife, everyone. It’s extremely well done.

And you know that it has to be well-done, because I almost never watch anything that does not have magic or superpowers or spaceships, because not having superpowers is what I do in real life—I don’t need a television show for that.

I do make occasional exceptions to that. I have a few comedy shows that I watch (Parks and Recreation is amazing, and also starting up this month). Usually, unless a show really appeals to all of my harmful stereotypical instincts (like the Australian teen dance drama, Dance Academy, oh my goodness do not laugh at me it is way better than it sounds; I caught it by accident one night and just couldn’t stop watching), the only thing that gets my television-viewing outside of the interesting realms of fantasy and science fiction is one or more nightmarishly (and I use that word as a compliment) strong female personalities. The Closer. Major Crimes. Commander In Chief. Political Animals. Each of these has a female protagonist. Each of these has a powerful female protagonist.

I like powerful female protagonists. With The Good Wife, my cup runneth over.

There’s a set of three powerful women who dominate the show: Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), the protagonist, who spent a couple of years as a lawyer after law school, but decided to be a stay-at-home mom while her husband entered politics and became the State’s Attorney of Cook County (which contains Chicago; “State’s Attorney” is Illinois gibberish for District Attorney, by the way). The very first scene of the series is her husband, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth)* resigning his office after numerous allegations of cheating and corruption surfaced.

Months later, as the story begins, Alicia has moved to earn money for herself and her two children. She is still married to, but in a strained relationship with, her husband. And she has gotten a job at a law firm—one of the partners being an old friend from law school.

The other two powerful female protagonists are law firm name-partner Diane Lockhart (played by the incomparable Christine Baranski) and that law firm’s enigmatic in-house investigator, Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). There are a number of other wonderful main and recurring characters (personally, I really love the two teenage Florrick children—though I like the son a lot more than I like the daughter).

Unlike with some shows that I watch which are tragically canceled, I am not the only one who feels this way about The Good Wife. In its first three seasons, the series and cast have been nominated for 21 Emmy awards, and they have won a few of those as well as a number of other awards, which I could list here but I’ll let you look them up yourselves.

Watch The Good Wife, you guys. If I could only recommend one show . . . other than Legend of Korra, that is . . . it would be The Good Wife. It’s too good to miss. If you’re as crazy as I am, you might even have time to catch up before too many episodes of this new season have aired.

*Yes, that’s Chris Noth from Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. There is a lot of crossover on this show from three sources: Law & Order, The Closer, and especially True Blood. You know how Arlene on True Blood is kind of dumb and Russell Edgington is fairly menacing? Well, those actors repeatedly guest star a secretly genius attorney and an extremely goofy judge on The Good Wife, respectively.

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