Once Upon A Time – TV Show

I recently started watching a new American TV series titled “Once Upon A Time,” brought to us by the creators of one of our generation’s best TV shows: Lost.

The premise of the show is highly interesting and, even though it starts off weirdly, picks up right at the middle of the first episode and enthralls you. A testament to that is the show catching my brother’s attention as he was engaged with multiple Facebook chats with his friends. You know teenagers and their chats can go on forever. He stopped them to watch.

The show is a modern twist on the fairytales we’ve heard over and over again as we grew up: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, etc…. On the day of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming’s (Joshua Dallas) wedding, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) barges in and threatens them with a curse where no one would have a happy ending, except her. Months later, a pregnant Snow White goes to Rumplestiltskin who tells her that the curse can only be broken by her unborn daughter, as she turns 28.

As the events in that alternate world take place, we are introduced to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) who lives in our world, on the day of her birthday. She was turning 28. It is then that her biological son finds her and tells her that he lives in a town in Maine called Storybrooke where people are the characters of those fairytales, brought to our world by the Evil Queen’s curse without them knowing who they are or where they come from. None of them can leave the town and none of them have an inkling of their past.

Emma, who gave up her son Henry for adoption ten years prior, drives him back to Storybrooke to give him back to his adopted mother and, without intending to, finds herself wanting to help her son out of his “crazy” fantasies, not knowing that her presence there is changing everything.

The overall story might look childish for many (the foundation is a fairytale after all) but the execution is captivating, which is expected from the creators of Lost. They managed to continue the stories of those fairytale characters that we all know and add another dimension to them – one that transcends the magic in which they live, making them look raw and real.

The performances, mainly that of House‘s Jennifer Morrison, are great as well. Morrison portrays the cynical Emma but keeps her character sharp enough as to not repel viewers. She makes the transition to a caring “mother” and makes it look fluidly easy.

All in all, with three episodes in (the fourth one set to air this Sunday November 13th), Once Upon A Time is definitely one of the better new shows to be introduced. It’s a must watch that will surely spark the imagination of million, just as I’m sure its creators intended. Even the fairytales we thought we knew keep surprising us by having links between all the different stories. And if you’re attentive enough, you’ll notice allusions from Lost, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and other Disney movies there.

Start downloading…

 

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Game Of Thrones

I recently finished watching the first season of HBO’s newest series: Game of Thrones, based on the book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” by George R. R. Martin.

The series is a fictional medieval drama, set in the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Each section of those kingdoms is ruled by a different lord, all of whom have to obey the king who sits on the Ivory Throne.

The show’s main protagonists are the Stark family, one of the noble families of the Kingdom, and the rulers of the North. Lord Ned Stark, the father, is soon appointed hand of the king, Robert, when the former hand dies in mysterious circumstances and is, therefore, forced to leave his family and relocate with his two daughters to the kingdom’s capital, leaving his wife and oldest son to care for his people in the North. But in a world where treason is a way of life, where insincerity and lies keep you alive, Ned Stark doesn’t fit – especially when he learns the truth about the king’s son.

Another storyline taking place in the show happens at the far North of Westeros where Lord Stark’s bastard son (yes, he is referred to as such in the series) joins the Night’s Watch, a brotherhood that protects the built barrier in that location against “The Others” that exist beyond it.

Moreover, in the neighboring realm of Essos, the two remaining members of House Targaryen strike a deal with vicious barbarians in order to reclaim the Iron Throne, which was taken away from them when king Robert took charge and exiled them. Princess Daenerys soon finds herself leaving the fragility of her former life and assuming the firm role of Khalissi, head queen of the barbarians and my favorite character. But her family heritage remains in her blood, making her a hybrid between both cultures, and another claimant to the Iron Throne.

This is Khalissi:

Game of Thrones is, in the bigger sense, the game between the different Lords to claim the Iron Throne. It is a show about power struggles and about the basic human nature quality of striving for more power. It showcases how badly some people handle the power given to them and the cruelty that may arise when such people reach powerful positions.

The show is highly engaging. And at ten episodes for the first season, proceeds rather quickly with its plot. One of its strong points is its ability to focus on the many storylines taking place without it getting stuck on one of them. Moreover, there’s an impeccable element of professionalism in the series: the cinematography, art direction, locations… everything is chosen with the utmost consideration of details, making the series beautiful to look at as well.

Game of Thrones is, as every HBO production I’ve watched, a raunchy series. The episodes are filled with many sex scenes where more than basic human anatomy is revealed. However, unlike other TV shows where such scenes are only used for shock-effect, in Game of Thrones, they serve the plot and are, at some points, pivotal moment for the plot’s advancement and serve as a way to reveal hidden motives with many characters.

All in all, Game of Thrones is a highly recommended series. You will enjoy it even if you’re not even remotely interested in medieval shows or blood and gore (yes, there are way too many bloody scenes of decapitations and the like). However, it remains a show with an impeccable storyline that feels more cinematic than TV-like. The makers’ decision to translate the books into a TV series, not a movie, is a great decision and will allow them to remain true to the books and include more and more details that we, as viewers, would have missed otherwise.

True Blood – Season 4 Premiere: She’s Not There

This post contains a few spoilers. So if you haven’t watched the episode, proceed at your own risk.

This is the first time I had to wait for a True Blood season. I watched all three previous seasons back to back last December and I was hooked.

The accurate description for a show like True Blood would be vampire porn. There’s more nudity in it than any other show you’ve watched and it’s about vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies and other fairytale elements.

Well, season 4 premiered on Sunday with a brand new episode titled “She’s Not There” and the episode sets the tone for what is looking to be a great season ahead.

At the end of season 3, Sookie found out that she’s half fairy and that vampire Bill Compton had a mission by the queen of Louisiana to get her trust so they can harvest her blood and soon enough, she was transferred to some sort of parallel realm full of similar fairies. But she starts to get suspicious in that realm, as season four starts. Something doesn’t feel right. And soon enough, she finds out that these fairies are harvesting humans. She escapes and gets back to Bon Temps, her hometown, only to find out that the ten minutes she was in that realm are equal to a year on Earth.

I never thought True Blood would go the time jumping route but it simply made sense. Imagine Sookie going back to her hometown only ten minutes after the end of season 3? It wouldn’t have left any room for substantial plot advancement. And the plot advances considerably to basically allow the viewer to have some sort of “blank” slate for season 4, one that doesn’t need to strongly build on previous seasons. This also marks the first time there’s a substantial time difference between True Blood seasons. The previous two picked up where the one before them left off.

Her friend Tara is apparently now a lesbian who goes by the name of Toni and has moved out of Bon Temps. Sam Merlotte is going to a weird anger management program and his brother is very much still alive, albeit being shot in his leg and needing physical therapy. Jessica Lamby is still with Hoyt but their relationship is struggling as they try to get used to the differences between them: her being vampire and him being human. He takes her out to Fangtasia, the show’s favorite pub, where she meets a human that entices her but she stops herself from acting on her impulse.

Lafayette is still dating the male nurse/witch and they go to a seance, with a very interesting twist, signaling a very substantial role for witches this season. The leader of the witch coven is a named Marnie, played by Irish actress Fiona Shaw, known for her role as aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies.

Jason Stackhouse, Sookie’s brother, is now a cop. He has also sold her house because he thought she was dead and the house had too much memories for him to take.

Bill Compton is now the king of Louisiana and has a new love interest in the form of Any Belfleur’s sister: Portia, a local lawyer. Eric Northman is the one that has changed the least and as he tells Sookie, he’s the only one who was sure she wasn’t dead. The vampires are still battling for their civil rights and Eric starts playing a role with the PR of the movement.

The premiere had a few off moments though. How could a fairy godmother be a guy with a six pack is the first WTF moment of the season. Add to that seeing Tara/Toni making out with a girl in a dark alley somewhere and you start wondering: when did she decide to turn lesbian?

All in all, it was a highly entertaining season premiere. But get this, next week’s episode looks to be much better!

Scotty McCreery Wins American Idol

Scotty McCreery winning American Idol is as surprising as someone finding out China has the world’s biggest population. Yes, it was that predictable.

And even though I voted thirteen times for Lauren Alaina all the way from Lebanon (yes, I outsmarted the American Idol geographical limitation system), it obviously wasn’t enough when you have more than 122 million votes cast for American Idol’s biggest finale, voting-wise, ever!

Both Scotty and Lauren sang with their idols on the finale, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood, respectively. The finale also featured performances by Steven Tyler, U2, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Tony Bennett (who sang with top 3 Haley Reinhart), Judas Priest (who sang with top 4 James Durbin).

I had said before that Lauren needed to win more than Scotty but it doesn’t matter now. Apparently, they’re in a relationship since they went all kissy-kissy after Scotty won, which means Scotty should help Lauren when she tries to crack the country music scene. Win-win situation apparently.

Lauren Alaina, who was sure Scotty will win, said Carrie Underwood told her, prior to their Before He Cheats performance that “no matter what Lauren, you’re a winner and you’re going to be amazing in the country field.”

Scotty McCreery was loyal to the country genre since day one. He captivated audiences with his audition (my twitter timeline, filled with Country music loyalists was raving about him) and week by week, even when challenged with other genres, he made those songs his own, adding a country twist to them. Is it my cup of tea? sometimes yes, sometimes no. But the majority of those millions that voted like him, apparently.

After winning, and the need to constantly smile for camera snapshots coming in from everywhere, Scotty was asked by Carrie Underwood if his cheeks had started hurting yet. But apparently, he won’t be smiling for long. Why? the poor thing has an exam tomorrow. Talk about something raining on your parade.

Either way, I, for one, was happy with an all country finale since that’s my favorite genre. And whoever won would have been a good addition to the genre. They’re both very young with lots to give. Let’s wish them prosperous careers. Whose career am I more excited for, though? Lauren Alaina.

House – Season 7 Fail

I was watching the season 7 finale of House the other day and almost died laughing when I saw this serious iPhone fail:

You’d think they would take the time to make their fake calls credible. So Taub is receiving a “call ending” phone call from his wife, while he has “no service” to even receive a call and he still has the options to answer or decline, even though the call is supposedly ending.

Ah well, guess seeing the downhill season House was having, this should come at no surprise.

Star Academy 8: The Season Of Gossip

I am not watching Star Academy 8 and nor do I want to. I watch the occasional prime on a Friday night but that’s pretty much it. The show is now in its eighth season and has been dragged for far too long. Many of the winners have gone into irrelevance, let alone some of the contestants. The show has become a vehicle for those running it to make too much money out of people “voting” and TV ads that bring in millions.

However, it looks like this latest season of the show has one thing that didn’t happen as much in previous seasons: gossip.

It looks like everyone’s talking about everyone else behind their back. How do I know this? Well, last Friday, I was home with my mom when a woman visited us and started telling us about the Syrian contestant Sarah: great voice apparently and horribly impolite. How so? she literally talks about everyone. Apparently, she hates Lebanese contestants (no idea why), she talks about them behind their backs, whenever she sees an opportunity to spur something up, she goes for it. She loves to make people hate each other while she stays on the side. And no one is safe from her.

And apparently there’s another contestant, the Palestinian Layan, who started rumors about one of the Egyptian guys, Karim Kamel, to be gay. Karim has withdrawn from the show on Friday with rumors that his family is suing the show. Now I don’t care if he’s gay or not, he’s simply horrible and the only reason he survived on the show was his country bringing him back every single time he was nominated for eviction. But don’t you think it’s horrible to start rumors about someone being gay when millions are watching?

Moreover, the show has been seeing such flagrant voting manipulation that it’s absurd. Since when does a Lebanese candidate beat a Saudi in voting? And not just by a small margin but by a considerable few percentage points! The look on the Lebanese girl’s face when she saw the results was priceless even though she ended up losing a few minutes afterwards. How did she end up losing? the students who vote publicly for the student they would like to keep are seated in such a way that those who have not made up their minds would vote to bring forth a tie, ultimately damaging a candidate over the other. The Lebanese contestants were placed first, the girl was given a lead and then crashed out of the show.

So yeah, maybe Star Academy should simply call it quits after this season. I mean seriously, when a singing TV show reverts to gossip and rumors to increase ratings, you know something’s wrong, especially when they have great talents that they need to focus on, including the Syrian girl Sarah. Until then, the Egyptian guy Karim will have those rumors, true or not, chase him till God knows when and viewers who have nothing else to do will still be entertained by a show getting useless by the minute.

The Vampire Diaries – As I Lay Dying

What do you do when you’ve lived for over a century, done all the mistakes imaginable and now suddenly, you find yourself dying?
How do you absolve your mistakes and ask forgiveness from the people you love most, whom you have hurt deeply? What exactly does a man do knowing he’s about to die?
This is the theme of the season two finale of The Vampire Diaries.

Taking it a notch down from the epic penultimate episode, The Sun Also Rises, this episode, grimly titled As I Lay Dying, is almost as epic – albeit being totally different. Leaving most of the supernatural elements to the previous episodes, the creators chose to make As I Lay Dying an episode about the redemptive power of love, regret, strength and courage. It is heartfelt, it seeks closure and at the same time opens up some of the wounds the show’s characters have been trying to hide for many years.

All of the story-lines are well-developed, in pure Vampire Diaries fashion. I would have liked to see some more stuff going on (maybe extending the episode beyond the one hour mark) but that’s just greedy me talking.

There is no other show that does cliffhangers better than The Vampire Diaries. And this season’s cliffhanger is almost as awesome as season one’s finale. It was absolutely smashing. Not only will it leave you in shock, it will also instill the feeling inside you of “how the hell am I supposed to wait till September for this?” It actually makes one of the less important characters vital for next season!

But wait is all we can do. The Vampire Diaries is not perfect. But the speed with which this show moves is what keeps you immersed, add to that the highly interesting storyline. Season three of The Vampire Diaries is said to be the “year of the originals” and this episode sets the mood for that. And let me tell you this, it will be one brilliant season! Don’t let the feeling of wanting something to happen and it not happening deter you from enjoying this awesome TV show.