A Year in Television

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While others may call themselves movie buffs or bookworms, the small screen is my preoccupation. The 2013-2014 television season has been an eventful one, so allow me to reflect on the highs, the lows and the WTFs…

Heartbreaker of the Year – Leo Fitz (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

LET ME LOVE YOU. Putting aside my crush on real life Iain De Caestecker, Fitz is my ~male character of the year~ (imagine a little jingle). In between being a science whizz, offering up more than his fair share of witty asides and looking cute in a cardigan, Fitz was busy being the underdog hero of this show. There’s no doubt Fitz clocked up more heartbreaking moments this year than anyone else. First there was F.Z.Z.T., in which he was faced with the prospect of losing the other half of his portmanteau. A few episodes later, he was blaming himself for Skye’s perilous decision-making. In Turn, Turn, Turn, he was touchingly single-minded in his mission to save Simmons from the rampant HYDRA dudes. Then came his shining moment: standing up to the Big Bad, tearful and trembling. Later, there was the revelation that his sub-bestie was secretly evil, though Fitz adamantly refuted it until the bitter end. And then came the bitter end. In one of the most moving scenes of the show full-stop, he sacrificed himself to save the woman he loves. His goodness and courage is something else. So Gryffindor it hurts. Please be okay, boo.

Most Contrived Breakup – Nick and Jess (New Girl)

After almost a season of a relatively healthy, happy relationship, New Girl’s dorky roommates decided that it was time to split. Apropos of really nothing, as far as I could tell. The problem was less that they broke up (as is typical of TV relationships), and more that the non-issue that broke them up isn’t really solvable. It’s been there the whole time. Yes, they’re polar opposites. This breakup throws into question whether they even want to be together that much if they can’t work the fundamental differences in their personalities. It reeks of panicking writers instead of good storytelling. Prince would be so disappointed in you.

Best Declaration of Like-Like – Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Despite my AOS temptation here, I’m going to show a little love to the best new comedy on the block: Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Jake’s admission to Amy in the final episode of the show’s inaugural season won my affection for three reasons.

  1. “I wish something could’ve happened between us… romantic styles.” A perfect sentence tbh.
  2. The no-pressure approach. Expecting nothing in return is the best way, and in my mind the only right way, to admit to someone you like them. Four for you, Jake. You go.
  3. It will undoubtedly lead to interesting changes in the Jake/Amy dynamic for Season 2.

 Worst Finale – How I Met Your Mother

Untitled-2I think we can all just agree this finale was a total mess. But we can all take relief in the fact that we never have to watch another episode of this again.

Best Soundtrack Moment – ‘Love is Blindness’ (Peaky Blinders)

The use of music throughout this show was phenomenal. Despite its post-WW1 time setting, this series had a contemporary feel to it, slickly using modern music over stylized direction. Nick Cave and The White Stripes were peppered throughout the series, with Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ providing a pretty stunning opening theme. The musical highlight was offered up in the final episode, though. Jack White’s ‘Love is Blindness’ seamlessly held together a dramatic montage that closed out the series, with an eerie relevance in the lyrics of the song.

Asshole Award – Dan Egan (Veep)

He’s the worst but I totally would. His repartee with Jonah has renewed his asshole status until the year 2026. At least.

 Biggest WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, SHOW? – Parks and Rec

parksFive babies and a time-jump? Really? I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you. How dare you. Learn something from this. When you go to bed at night, you lay there and you take responsibility for yourself, ‘cause nobody’s gonna take responsibility for you.

 Biggest ‘We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together’ Moment – Jaime Lannister rapes Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones)

Very, very done with Game of Thrones at this point. The fact that the (already quite disturbing) sex scene between Jaime and Cersei was consensual in the books, combined with the fact that the rape was entirely ignored in the following episodes left me more than a little disturbed. HBO’s cash cow has had its problems from the start, but those problems seem to be snowballing at an exponential rate. People make fun of all the “but it wasn’t in the books!” fans, but at the end of the day, why would you add an unnecessary rape scene in? Not for the first time, might I add. Enjoy the brutal deaths of the remaining 83 characters without me, y’all. Jess out.

 Pointless Baby of the Year – Tie: Baby Swanson, Baby Traeger, The Triplets (Parks and Rec)

If you’re thinking three pregnancy storylines in one season might seem excessive, you’d be right. A bizarre narrative choice with zero pay-off. There must have been a sale on. Baby Swanson, while the big reveal in last season’s finale, has been straight-up shunned for most of Season 6. Ann hopped town with hers still in utero. Bizarrely, with Chris. Then came the triplets. Three? Really? That’s a lot of work for one female lead to handle while also having to juggle A-plots week-in, week-out. But you knew that already, didn’t you Parks? And then came the worst plot device in all of Dystropia, found just around the corner from fridging the love interest: the time jump, skipping several years in time, bypassing birth and new parenthood. I’ll be right back, just gotta go find the point.

Most Inappropriate Use of Music – Grey’s Anatomy (constantly)

o-GREYS-ANATOMY-SEASON-10-facebookI say this disparagingly, but it’s actually brought me a great deal of joy despite that I don’t actually watch Grey’s Anatomy. I caught one musical moment, and later discovered that there was a trend: John Lewis covers of 80s pop music. I’ll give you some of the most ludicrous examples, but just imagine some of these over a montage of dying people in a hospital:

  • ‘I’m So Excited’ (10×16)
  • ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ (10×18)
  • ‘Fame’ (10×19) …no, really.
  • ‘Like a Virgin’ (10×22) …WHAT.
  • ‘Jump For My Love’ (10×23)
  • ‘99 Red Balloons’ (10×24)

Unnecessary Death of the Year

There were too many entries for this category, so the machine that processes them imploded. R.I.P. everyone. You will be missed. (Obviously not by your showrunner.)

 Best Finale Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

agents-of-shield-cast-0002The one comfort that viewers had going into the finale was that things couldn’t possibly get any worse. S.H.I.E.L.D. had turned Hydra, and so had Agent Ward. Fitzsimmons were at the bottom of an ocean. Coulson’s team were in a bit of a sticky situation, all things considered. The episode was fast-paced and fun, with a surplus of one-liners flying around and a Fury cameo thrown in for good measure. The beautifully written Fitzsimmons scenes anchored the finale in humanity (with absolutely stunning performances from both Henstridge and De Caestecker), while the action sequences were delightfully threaded with humour. Samuel L. Jackson was used brilliantly, with the temptation to over-use expertly resisted. What elevated the hour-long from solid episode to killer finale was that it absolutely left you dying for the next episode. It was the perfect balance of closure for old storylines and introduction of new ones.

 So, what do you think? Do you agree? Or was the HIMYM finale the highlight of your year? Were there other shows that deserved consideration for these prestigious titles?

June Favourites

My father warned me yesterday that if I neglected my blog any longer, all of my followers would desert me. This one’s for you, Dad. Partly because I don’t want you to worry about me being forever alone and partly because Sunday was Father’s Day, so.

Upon finishing my (second) second year at university, I have mostly just spent my time doing all the chores that had built up, marathoning TV shows and running around wide open spaces celebrating temporary freedom from academia. Thankfully, I live in Bournemouth so there are lots of outdoorsy havens. To get back into my blogging groove, I thought I’d post a nice variety of favourite things. Some have helped kickstart my summer, while others were the fuel to get me there. Here are my June favourites…

Favourite Places

Poole Park, Poole

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This lovely place is the setting for my weekly Parkrun on a Saturday morning, and it’s dreamy. You have no idea how inviting that water looks after a second lap of running around it in this heat. See that fountain in the second picture? So close and yet so far. That is what I’m thinking about as I stumble through the fourth kilometre wondering if this is it for me. It’s a beautiful park and that’s true all year ’round. Right now, though, it’s peaking. Warning: lotta lotta geese gangs.

Durdle and Diddly Door, Lulworth

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When my parents mentioned the Jurassic Coast, I was thinking velociraptors. But a world heritage site is cool too, I guess. The highlight of this little adventure, surprisingly not the calamitous walk, was discovering that Durdle Door’s tiny little brother is, as yet, unnamed according to the map sign. I, here and now, am calling for the cute little Durdle-wannabe (top right) to be henceforth named Diddly Door. And in a thousand years, when Durdle’s worn down by the fame (and the water), there will just be Diddly left and it will no longer be Diddly. People will come from miles away and say, “Why is it called Diddly?” And it will be lost in folklore and legend. A thousand years is about right, isn’t it? I quit geography young. Rock erosion is the ‘watching paint dry’ of the natural world. I should note, this only applies to geological rocks and should not be confused with rockstars whose careers can be known to break down almost instantaneously.

Favourite Music

HAIM, still.

Basically, since I got my eager claws on Days Are Gone, the days of me listening to other things are, you guessed it, gone. However, as it’s summertime now, to shake things up a little I’m having a phase of replaying the many remixes of the singles. My favourite, which I was unable to embed, is the Cerrone Funk Remix of ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ but the above Cyril Hahn remix of ‘Don’t Save Me’ is pretty special as well. The sister trio got me through the latter half of second year, and I can’t wait for more tour dates because I will be there will bells on. I’ll run, run, run when they call my name… Remember that time they did, though? #haimlyf

Little Mix

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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing Little Mix live in concert when they visited my hometown. Me and my lovely friend put on our glad rags and made ourselves at home in a crowd of tweens. Let me break down some pros and cons of being comparatively elderly in terms of concert demographics. Con: the pitch of screaming was almost high enough to be off my hearing frequency, but not quite, and booooy was it loud. Pro: being taller than literally everyone else is a rarity for me, and being that we were only four rows back, I had a perfect view for the entire show! Unheard of! I think it balances out, all in all. All four members of the band were on form, killin’ it with the vocals. While the support acts wore me down a little, clearly aimed at the young’uns, I loved Little Mix.

Favourite TV

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Mostly, if I’m honest, this is about these two dorks. I got into this series totally accidentally, having not cared at all about The Avengers, or any of the related films. After a couple of episodes, I was endeared by adorable, brave Science BFFs and couldn’t stop myself marathoning the series. Yes, my lack of exposure to previous MCU productions left me more sensitive to Clark Gregg’s wooden acting. Yes, perhaps I should have watched the crossover Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie before it was spoiled by the relating plot in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But you know what, my life’s a mess! I’ll get over it.

While I am, as I mentioned, critical of Gregg’s leading role, the ensemble together is all kinds of brilliant. I don’t mind Coulson. He’s a likeable dude and the crossover is key, but I question whether his leadership of the group should equal leading the show (#Skye4lead). Agent May was badass from the word go, but was all the more interesting once fleshed out towards the first season’s end. Enigmatic Skye is delightfully quippy and I love her. Ward is now dead to me (U CAN’T HURT PUPPIES AND SCIENCE BABIES AND GET AWAY WITH IT!!!). As for Fitz and Simmons, well they’re like a Special Agent Jim and Pam. How could you not love ’em?

Favourite Things

I Just Can’t Cope-Acabana, OPI

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Just as I was struggling to cope(-acanaba) with my university stress, I treated myself to a manicure at my local beauty salon. Presented with a rainbow of choices, a smorgasbord of colour, I decided to embrace the dawn of summer and go bold with yellow. A wild choice for me. If you’re going to take fashion risks, the nails are a good place to start. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments on a nail colour as when I wear this one. My mother has since treated me to the bottle, so I can bring the sunshine nails whenever I like. Be surprised if you see me not wearing this during the summer now! Yellow is my summer colour.

Daisies

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Forget June Favourites, this is a life favourite that just so happens to be every-bloomin’-where! On the left you can see young Jess, clearly in the middle of telling my mother, “See, THESE, THESE are the flowers I want on my dress pattern!” And on the right, adult Jess is narcissistically telling herself, “NAILING the daisy pattern!”. What you might not be able to tell is that in addition to daisy dress, I’m also wearing daisy headband and daisy bracelet and Daisy perfume. If it’s got daisies on it, I want it. My bank balance is going to go on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster this summer.

And with that, I will sign off my first post-Y2 blog post. This time, I promise I’ll be back v. soon.

**All images, bar the Agents of SHIELD cap, are my own.