In the season opener of Grey’s Anatomy last week, we saw the first reaction by Callie (Sara Ramirez) to Arizona’s (Jessica Capshaw) infidelity. Hurt and angry, Callie takes Sofia and leaves. She takes up residence on Derek and Meredith’s couch for a while.
It takes Callie one day to talk to Arizona about a schedule for sharing Sofia. She can’t discuss anything else about their relationship without crying, but she’s willing to talk about Sofia.
(IMDB does not give the real name of the child playing Sofia.)
Before the wedding, before the baby, Arizona had to be converted to the idea of parenthood. I clearly remember the episode when she embraced the idea of mothering Sofia. In fact, I wrote about it way back then.
A quick recap: Arizona and Mark argued about who was more important to save after the car wreck – Callie or the baby. Mark argued that he should have more say in the decision because he was the baby’s biological father and Arizona was “nothing.” Both Callie and the baby were saved, of course, and Arizona was at Callie’s bedside when she woke up. Arizona said, “I don’t feel like nothing. I feel like our baby’s mother.” Here’s what I wrote earlier:
It’s the line I feel like our baby’s mother that I want to talk about as important. Once the heart moves into that place of parenting, a family is born. For same sex couples like Callie and Arizona, or for adoptive parents from any configuration of family you can imagine, this is the bond, the spiritual tether. The parental bond, once formed, is what creates a family that will cherish and nurture a child.
This is what’s remarkable about Shonda Rhimes and this particular story about a two-mom family: from the first suggestion that there might be a split between the two women, they were written as equal parents to little Sofia. Shonda Rhimes gets the “parental bond” between both parents and their daughter.
Shonda Rhimes gives us drama and conflict, and plenty of it. Bumps in Callie and Arizona’s relationship are a part of that, but it looks as if their baby isn’t going to be a source of the conflict.
I’m rooting for Callie and Arizona to work it out. I really hope Shonda Rhimes wants them to be together and happy, too. Until we find out what happens, I’m glad to see her treating an adoptive parent as equal to a biological one. It’s further proof that Shonda Rhimes can write about same sex couples and treat them as she would any other couple.
This is Caroline and Gillian’s episode. It’s the rainy evening when Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) are trapped in the spooky hall they scouted as a wedding location. Gillian (Nicola Walker) is outside with firemen who responded to her flaming Land Rover. She returns to the house, anxious because her dad isn’t home yet and isn’t answering his phone.
Paul (Sacha Dhawan), in all his bloody, beat-up glory on her couch, asks how the fire started. She says they don’t know, but he says someone torched it.
In the old hall, Celia and Alan found candles, food, a deck of cards and a bed. They are on the bed, still wearing their coats. They sing and talk to the creaking noises that might be a ghost. Alan is having chest pains, which he hides from Celia. Alan says, “Do you think anyone’s realized that we’re missing?”
Indeed, pretty much everyone will know they are missing before long. Gillian calls John (Tony Gardner) looking for the two tardy lovers. John gives the phone to Caroline (Sarah Lancashire), who takes note of the fact that John has Gillian’s number and she has his while talking to Gillian about calling her mother. Celia doesn’t answer her phone either.
Gillian mentions that her dad doesn’t have his heart pills and shows her worry, which gets through to Caroline.
Celia flushes a noisy toilet in the old hall, while Alan stands guard with candles and a guide book to the age of this ancient structure they’re stuck in. Drafts and noisy spook them a bit.
Gillian calls her son Raff (Josh Bolt) looking for Alan. Robbie (Dean Andrews) offers his usual trash talk about Gillian and Raff actually stands up for her. Raff offers to go to the farm and to help find his grandad.
Caroline sets off for the police station, as the fears about the missing parents have infected her too.
The fearful spookiness of the hall is making Celia angry and she’s talking about suing. They climb back into the big bed as candles move around and doors open themselves.
Raff and Robbie reach the farm. A couple of Alan’s friends show up, mainly for comic relief. At least they notice Paul sitting on the couch, which is more than Robbie and Raff have mentioned yet.
In the car, Caroline is on the phone with Kate (Nina Sosanya), who brings up Caroline’s suggestion that they go away for the weekend. Kate is looking at a web site about Barcelona and is ready to book a getaway. Caroline says, “Can we talk about it later?” When she reaches the police station, the two old buddies of Alan’s are still about, still bringing the comic relief. Robbie explains that police cameras will tell them where the car was last seen. Gillian suggests they all go home.
Caroline goes with them to the farm. Caroline points at Paul on the couch, asks who he is. Robbie and Raff explain that he’s Paul, an idiot, who was beat up because he’s “not popular.”
Robbie follows Gillian into the kitchen and they finally have the conversation they’ve needed to have for days about what she’s doing with Paul. She says, “It’s been 10 years, do you seriously think I haven’t slept with other people?” He stumbles around and finally admits that all his lashing out was because he likes Gillian himself, a fact obvious to everyone but Gillian all this time. He basically apologizes and she says she appreciates it.
A phone call informs them the car was seen driving on Godley Lane. There’s a discussion about what’s on that road. Nobody knows why they are there, until Paul says, “You can get married at South Whatever Hall.” (I still can’t get the name.) They realize then that Alan and Celia were there looking for a wedding venue.
Cops arrive outside the hall where Alan and Celia are now sleeping peacefully. The cops find the empty car parked there but don’t think to look inside the hall because the manager of the place tells them the Hall was closed all day.
John, home with his boys, talks about not wanting to get a divorce. The younger son gets quite upset over the idea of a divorce.
Caroline and Gillian are cleaning up the kitchen at the farm, washing dishes. They talk. Really talk. They talk about Raff, Paul, John, themselves. Caroline isn’t holding it together very well and welcomes the offer of brandy with enthusiasm. They are starting to care about each other. If two women ever needed a friend, it’s these two. Happy as I am that Alan and Celia found each other, I’m even happier to see these two connect – they both desperately need someone to talk with.
A phone call tells them they’ve found the car, but not Alan and Celia. The police think Alan and Celia have killed themselves, to which Gillian answers, “They’re in love. They’ve never been happier.” Robbie reassures everyone about the situation and offers to go to the hall.
Morning comes and Caroline and Gillian sit outside drinking coffee (tea?). Again, they have a meaningful conversation. This time about Gillian’s husband’s death, about how beautiful what their parents feel for each other is. Gillian talks about how much it bothers her that her mother didn’t pass on the message from Caroline’s mum. Caroline tells her that her mother was a teenager then, and it shouldn’t be held against her. Gillian’s parents were happy. Caroline’s were not. They talk about that, laugh that they might have been sisters.
Celia and Alan wake up, snuggled deep in the covers of their borrowed bed. Celia complains about being stiff but is in a hurry to get out of there. When they get downstairs there are people there who tell them that you have to dial 9 for an outside line and the door was open yesterday for a delivery. Celia wants to call home and finds out the police have been looking for them.
Caroline talks to John about how things are at home with the boys as the phone rings at the farm. It’s Celia calling to say everything is fine. Caroline runs outside with Raff to tell Gillian. There are happy hugs all round, including Gillian and Raff, who definitely needed the shared moment.
John tells his boys they can stay home from school and he heads off for the “supermarket.”
Caroline and Gillian help Paul up the stairs and into bed. This removes him from the living room, but, alas, installs him in Gillian’s bed. Gillian tells him he’ll be out on his ass sooner than he can say compound fracture if he says anything vulgar to Celia.
Alan’s first thought on getting home is for the Land Rover. They go in for tea and Alan’s pills. Gillian explains why Paul’s car is in the yard.
John’s in a coffee shop, where he gives Judith (Ronni Ancona) money for her rent. She wants to be a writer and thought he was going to be a help to her. He tells her she has to put in the work or it won’t happen. She’s mad. He’s busy trying to dump her for good.
Tea in hand, Celia still wants to sue. Caroline points out that you can’t accept the very classy venue free of charge for the wedding and sue at the same time.
In the kitchen, Alan, Gillian and Raff have a family discussion about Paul. Alan says, “You always did pick ’em.” To Raff, he says, “You can’t be stopping with Robbie.” Raff answers he doesn’t mind his mom having a boyfriend but why can’t she pick on somebody who, A, isn’t a dickhead; B, isn’t 300 years younger than she is; and C, isn’t engaged to somebody else. After this most excellent speech he exits. This gives Alan the opportunity to say he wants to go to the doctor. He makes light of his condition, but Gillian knows it’s serious. She makes him promise to call immediately.
When Caroline leaves Gillian hugs her and tells her not to be depressed. Instead of going straight home, Caroline stops for coffee. She watches a happy family and smiles – some decision made, she relaxes visibly.
Alan tells Celia he’s poured her a bubble bath. She says he’s spoiling her. He gives her a kiss. He offers to have coffee ready when she gets out of the bath and heads for the kitchen, where we see him stunned by more chest pain.
Caroline arrives home where John is being cloyingly nice. He brags that he promised himself never to lie to her again, and tells her about giving money to Judith. Everyone is exhausted from being up all night, but John is invigorated by his honestly. Caroline says, “This can work. We can be civil for the boys. I’m seeing someone.” Boom! She won’t tell John who it is. John yells and rages. William comes in and John asks who Caroline could be seeing at school. William instantly realizes it’s Kate, but doesn’t tell his dad that. He’s been so angry with his dad for cheating on his mom. I hope he doesn’t transfer that anger to his mom, because I think his little brother really needs him now. John won’t take finding out about Kate well and Caroline isn’t the best at explaining herself to her children.
Whee! What did you think of this week’s developments?
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All the season openers for the week have aired now. Let’s talk about how they did.
The two that I thought did the best job starting the new season off with a bang were Castle and Bones.
Castle jumped right out of the gate with action, conflict and new situations. Beckett is busy in Washington D.C. in a new job and the newly engaged couple are missing each other. Castle can’t keep from meddling in her cases and trying to keep their relationship exactly like it was before. Alexis comes home with a boyfriend in tow – a boyfriend who makes a mess in the kitchen cooking vegan steaks out of hunks of papaya. The episode was fast, fun, and gave us a glimpse into where the season is headed with Beckett in D.C. and Castle in NYC.
Yes, Bones can be formulaic. However, this week was hilarious, with Bones and Booth going undercover as a couple of Jersey shore types to solve a murder at a couples retreat. In other storylines, Angela wants to quit working at the Jeffersonian, and Sweets is having a crisis of his own about his career path. Camille has been targeted by a recurring bad guy who is messing with her identity, credit, and finances. We had a fun plot line to get us going and ongoing problems for future episodes. Perfection.
And the Others Are . . .
Much as I love Nashville, it got off to a slow start, mainly because Rayna spent the majority of the episode in a coma. Connie Britton is the soul of this show, and we simply cannot have her lying in a bed doing nothing. Juliette released a new album while pretending to be concerned about Rayna’s condition, Scarlett quit her job as a waitress at the BlueBird to go record an album on Rayna’s new record label, Gunnar might be growing up a bit, Teddy’s girlfriend is lying to him about being pregnant, and Deacon is blaming himself for every bad thing that ever happened on the face of the earth. Deacon is caught in one of the most grandiose shame spirals ever – much credit to Charles Esten for playing it so powerfully. Rayna finally woke up at the end of the episode which means I’m really looking forward to next week.
Chicago Fire was a bit same-old, same-old. The plot mainly revolved around Taylor Kinney’s character Severide. An arsonist is out to get Severide with personal attacks. Renée is home from Paris, pregnant and wanting Severide to be her baby daddy. Good grief, why does everyone want Severide for their baby daddy? Shay, who hasn’t managed to get pregnant yet herself, points out to Severide that the math on Renée’s due date doesn’t add up. Man, what a week Severide is having. I know Severide had high hopes for Renée – heaven knows they were sexy together – but I think being busy shooting people with a rifle on a rooftop in Person of Interest puts her in the she’s just not that into you category. The question is, what reason will the writers dream up for him to use to dump her. Arithmetic?
Speaking of Person of Interest, the dream pairing Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker didn’t have any scenes together this week. Sarah Shahi was shooting people from a rooftop and not interested in finding a baby daddy. Amy Acker was being mysterious while having conversations with a shrink. I’m looking forward to seeing where her story arc takes us.
The Grey’s Marathon
Grey’s Anatomy charged into its 10th season with a two-hour opener. My first thought was how cute Tina Majorino looked with her short hair. She’s my favorite of the new doctors, along with Gaius Charles, who always reminds me of Friday Night Lights, which always makes me happy. All that cute and happy screeched to a halt when Shane sent Heather to look for Richard who’s been lying electrocuted in a puddle of water ever since the end of last season. Yep, Heather steps in the water and gets electrocuted. Even Derek and his magical brain surgery skills cannot save her. The rest of the first-year interns bond over Heather’s death and their daunting assignment to tell her mother stories about what a great person she was. Tina, I’m gonna miss you.
Yang and Bailey manage to save Richard while arguing about how to do it for 2 hours.
In other parts of the Grey’s universe, Callie is hurt and angry at Arizona. They fight and cry for 2 hours. One light moment in the Callie and Arizona crisis comes when Karev advises Arizona to apologize to Callie by saying, “Sorry I’m such a slut.”
Christina and Owen break up again, but they keep having sex because they want to create a perfect last-time-we-ever-had-sex to remember.
Meredith has a new baby named Bailey and some further medical complication which keeps her in her bed. Her hospital room is the calm eye of the storm where everyone goes from time to time to hold the baby and have a quiet moment.
Lots of other stuff happened: Kepner decides who she actually loves this week, Karev remains a chick magnet, and lots of people need heroic medical help. Hang on, Grey’s is underway for a 10th year.
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I watched two episodes before I formed that judgment on Sleepy Hollow. It’s too heavy handed for my taste. I feel like they are beating me over the head with the book of Revelations – a dark and not very happy feeling. Tom Mison has a certain panache and Nicole Beharie is delightful, but the material has to be there.
self-deprecating humor, kick ass women, stylish action, ethical heroes, inventive plots, and fun. Agents of SHIELD is how it’s done right.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, takes a light and elegant approach to its offbeat material and makes it fun. Brett Dalton is so handsome, he’s a perfect living comic book drawing. Plus, he is surrounded by Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet and Elizabeth Henstridge on a regular basis. Toss in turns from Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders or Ron Glass from Firefly and J. August Richards from Angel and you have a perfect cast.
What’s your take on these two new series?
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Last week, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) drove off with her two boys and Celia (Anne Reid), leaving John (Tony Gardner) standing in the middle of the road at the farm. That’s where we start up this week, with Caroline having an emotional breakdown in the car as she drives erratically away.
Caroline stops the car and gets out. Her oldest son, (Edward Ashley) follows and says he’s sorry about telling her about his dad having Judith in the house. The younger son (Louis Greatorex) follows and the three of them end up in a hug.
Alan (Derek Jacobi) arrives at the police station, where Gillian (Nicola Walker) is waiting for the release of her son Raff (Josh Bolt). Gillian asks her dad is he is angry about her mother’s trick. He says no, he has no regrets. Policeman Robbie (Dean Andrews), who is Raff’s uncle – the one who blames Gillian for his brother’s death – brings Raff out. Robbie makes a remark that Gillian ignores about Paul and they leave.
When Gillian, Alan, and Raff get home, they find John half drunk in the living room. Can’t let all that booze from the engagement party go to waste, now can he? Gillian and John chat in a commiserating way.
Gillian goes to check on Raff. They have a brief exchange. He won’t tell her what Paul was saying about her, and she doesn’t attempt to explain her relationship with Paul.
Alan offers to drive John home in the morning. He asks him not to drink any more. He doesn’t want John throwing up in the new Lexus before Celia’s even had a chance to ride in it! John explains to Gillian about Judith. Gillian says his house is half his and doesn’t see how Caroline can throw him out. He needs to stick up for himself.
In the morning, Alan delivers John to the big house. John blusters in loud and yelling about cooking breakfast and pancakes.
Alan has a bouquet of flowers and knocks on Celia’s door. She’s still in her bathrobe but brings in him and makes him tea.
In the big house John is playing the radio loudly, tossing pans about, singing, and generally acting like he owns the place.
Celia asks Alan if he believes in God. She says she wants to get married in a church. Alan says you don’t have to believe in God to get married in church.
Caroline comes down stairs and John and Caroline conduct a screaming argument that Alan and Celia listen to gleefully. They have a giggling fit while John and Caroline yell at each other.
Gillian tries once more to get Raff to talk to her, but he won’t. She heads off to work. As she’s heading in to the grocery store, Paul comes out. He says he told Raff about the wallpaper in her bedroom and the shoes in her closet to make him believe that he really knew Gillian. She goes into the store and pulls her hair in anguish. She can’t believe she’s involved herself with a fool who would brag to her son about getting into her bed. In a very poignant moment she thumbs through the contacts in her phone, wanting to talk to someone. She looks at Raff’s name and doesn’t call. She looks at her Dad’s name and doesn’t call. Just as she gives up on talking to someone, John calls her. He goes on about how he stuck up for himself and how happy he is with his behavior at home. He thinks Gillian’s a “sweet, exotic creature.” Oh, dear.
Caroline meantime is on the phone with Kate (Nina Sosanya) who gives her very sensible advice like “divorce him and sell the house.” Caroline isn’t quite ready to face this yet, but asks Kate to come over to talk to her.
Caroline goes outside and throws a bucket of water on John. Another loud argument the whole family can hear. She says the marriage is over, dead, and redundant. He refuses to leave.
Alan and Celia are parked on a beautiful scenic overlook holding hands and getting acquainted by exchanging stories. Her marriage was not a happy one. She tells Alan a story about a time when she could have killed her husband but didn’t. However, she vowed to do it if she ever got another chance. Alan is sad she had to go through all that. She asks him to spend the night in her cottage – in the spare room. He grins and says, “I’d have to buy a toothbrush.”
Gillian arrives home from work and finds Raff has moved out. He won’t answer his phone but she finds him at his Uncle Robbie’s. Robbie says he thinks the boy has finally figured out what a mad bitch she is and that he can stay with him as long as he wants. Gillian’s response to this latest upset is to call John. Oh, good grief, she calls John. Her loneliness already has her up to her butt in alligators with Paul, and she calls John. They have a long heart-to-heart about affairs, parenting and John’s marriage.
While John and Gillian are on the phone, Caroline and Kate are talking in the garden.
Kate complains that Caroline’s never really asked anything about her. Caroline seems to expect sympathy with nothing in return. They talk about Michael and how he tried to blackmail Caroline. Kate talks about “the effect” Caroline has on her. Caroline tries to explain her feelings. She talks about not knowing how to be a good friend to anyone or how to have a happy relationship. She describes her early life and how unhappy her parents were. Caroline talked about how different Celia is with Alan than she was with her dad, and how different her life might have been if her mother had loved her father.
Alan and Celia are in her cottage, asleep on the couch, holding hands.
Gillian comes out of the farmhouse in the morning to find Paul, bloodied and horribly beaten in her yard. It wasn’t Raff who did it. I couldn’t understand what he said when he explained who beat him up, but apparently he’s in some sort of trouble. [Note: this part of the story is explained in addendums and a comment. Keep reading.] Someone has threatened to douse him with gasoline and set him afire. She takes him to the doctor.
Caroline is having breakfast. Celia pops in to say she and Alan are going to Halifax. She says they slept together in her double bed, which Caroline is desperate not to hear about. Celia claims they had marvelous sex. (I’m wondering if this really happened or if Celia is exaggerating the truth. All we saw was snuggling on the couch.) Caroline holds her ears.
Gillian reluctantly takes Paul back to the farm after his doctor visit. He isn’t welcome at his own home.
In William’s classroom, Caroline comes in and sends the instructor (Kate) off. She touches Kate’s shoulder in a familiar way. She sits down to watch the students while the Kate is gone. The boy in front of William writes, “Your mum is a lesbian” on his hand and shows it to William.
Judith calls John and wants money. When he doesn’t want to give it to her, she threatens to come to his house.
Alan and Celia are sitting in a church, waiting to talk to the vicar. They have a very funny argument about religion, politics, The Daily Mail and pop songs at funerals. They end up laughing. Celia mentions she wants to walk down the aisle to the strains of “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel. These two are so lovely together.
Celia says she hopes the vicar isn’t a woman. So, of course, the vicar is a woman who questions them about why they want to get married in a church when they haven’t been churchgoers since the 70s. They leave – the church isn’t going to work.
Alan says, “Where would you like to get wed?” and Celia says, “Somewhere classy.” South something Hall – I didn’t get the name of the hall correctly.
Raff returns home to pick up his belongings and finds Paul on the couch, all beat up. Robbie, who drove Raff home, figures out that Gillian has been involved with Paul and tells Gillian she needs to have her head examined. Gillian asks Raff to stay and tells him that she can’t chuck Paul out. Raff leaves anyway.
Alan and Celia arrive at the Hall where they are thinking about holding the wedding. There’s no one about, so they wander through rooms full of an assortment of memorabilia. Alan tells about seeing a ghost in one of the upstairs rooms. They climb spiral stairs and wander through chapels and finally find the room where he saw the ghost. Odd dolls with strange eyes populate the room. There’s a flash of lightning and the lights go out. Celia gets uncomfortable and wants to go. I’m with her – this place is spooky. They race for the exit.
They are locked in. With no reception on their phones and a storm raging outside.
At the farm there’s a flash of light and a boom. Gillian rushes outside to find her Land Rover ablaze in the rain.
ADDENDUM: I wasn’t the only person who could not understand what Paul said about why he was beaten up. I’m seeing people show up on this blog who want to know what he said as well. If any reader could understand him and knows what happened to Paul, please fill us in with a comment. Thanks!
ANOTHER ADDENDUM: I found this on IMDB’s summary of episode 3: “Later a badly injured Paul arrives, beaten up by his girlfriend’s brothers, and she lets him move in.” So that solves the mystery of what he so poorly articulated, It also emphasizes the point, which I did not in my summary, that Gillian revealed to John that part of Paul’s unsuitableness as affair material was that he already had a girlfriend. I love how broken and troubled Gillian is, but I’m ready for her to do something smarter. Like maybe not let an already entangled dude who thinks it appropriate to brag to her teen-aged kid about banging her set up residence on her couch.
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Downton Abbey fans, I found a tiny tidbit about season 4 to help tide you over. Hope it helps with the pain of waiting.
Season 3 of Downton Abbey ended with Lady Mary Crawley giving birth to a son as his father accidentally smashed his car into a tree and died.
Season 4 doesn’t begin on PBS until January, but people in the UK can watch it starting soon. A season 4 teaser video lets us see the problems Lady Mary is having dealing with the loss of her husband and her new role as a parent.
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Developer Diversity: The Mars/Venus Thing and WordPress Moderator: Karen Arnold
Panelists: Suzette Franck, Alison Barrett, Daryl L. L. Houston, Virginia DeBolt, Mark Casias
The discussion was about how to get more women in tech fields, among other things.
One of my talking points whenever I get to talk about this is to bring in how pop culture affects perception. I like to bring up the acceptance of gay couples on TV, the changing acceptance of openly gay people in our everyday world, and the changing acceptance of the idea of gay marriage. I think the visibility of gay characters on TV has changed the majority attitude of society. It’s my example of what needs to happen to visibility for girls in tech.
If that worked for LGBT visibility, why wouldn’t it work for women in tech? Why wouldn’t it work for girls who are interested in science and math, but who drop the idea around middle school in favor of being popular or not viewed as geeky and weird? If they saw a lot of geeky teen girls being successful and in leadership roles in popular shows, I think it would change attitudes.
If you can get girls through middle school still owning up to their interest in science and math, they can go on to careers in those fields. But they hit middle school and nerdy girls get teased and bullied and don’t get the attention of cute boys. That could be changed to a large degree by pop culture. We need to reframe and reset the popular image of female geeks.
One of the audience members at the panel discussion pointed out the geeky women in both NCIS shows, and one on Numb3rs. That’s great, but those aren’t shows that young girls are watching. There is a geeky female character on Big Bang Theory. I think young girls probably watch this show. Am I missing any current shows?
Where we really need geeky female characters are on shows like Pretty Little Liars that millions and millions of teen and pre-teen girls are watching.
We need more characters like Tina Majorino as Mac on Veronica Mars or Alyson Hannigan as Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Miranda Cosgrove as Carly on iCarly.
A lot more characters, not just one every few years. In fact, I’ll say that every show aimed at pre-teens should feature a geeky female character – hackers, programmers, scientists, and engineers who are teen girls or young women and are leading characters in an engaging drama or comedy. Geeky girls with lots of friends, interesting adventures, and a great personality.
Fringe completed its 5th and final season earlier this year. There were 100 episodes in this Sci Fi drama full of parallel universes, strange beasts, and far out science – or “fringe” science – concepts. When it first came out, back in 2008, I watched a few episodes, but my attention was spotty. It was on at a bad time for me and I couldn’t give it the regular week-by-week attention it requires. I never got into it.
Why didn’t I get into it? One of its creators, J.J. Abrams, is known for some pretty popular shows. That didn’t sway me. I originally wanted to watch because of Blair Brown. Blair Brown has been a huge favorite with me since her wonderful performance on The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. That couldn’t keep me watching. Bottom line, I just didn’t watch it.
Five years go by, and Netflix keeps suggesting to me that I would enjoy Fringe. Netflix knows my Sci Fi habits better than I do. It’s that time of year with the summer shows are over and the fall shows haven’t started. What can you do with an empty TV night? Giving Fringe a try sounded like a good plan.
I love Fringe!
No surprise to you Fringe fans out there – I love the show. I’m only in season 2, so I have lots more watching to do, but I’ll share why I love it. If you aren’t already a fan, you might give it a try.
This procedural drama is fronted by a woman. Anna Torv plays FBI agent Olivia Dunham. Olivia Dunham is strong, smart, brave, and a great detective. A perfect character to lead the cast. A show led by a woman who is strong and smart? Bingo.
I’m now a hopelessly devoted Anna Torv fangirl.
Binge watching turns out to be a perfect way to watch Fringe. You need to see every episode in order to make sense of the story. The fringe science builds over time to explain what’s happening, and the idea that there is a parallel universe threatening the one we live in develops episode by episode. Each episode has its own standalone FBI mystery to solve, but the plot points lead you into a larger story about parallel universes and alternate timelines.
Going from left to right in the photo of the season one cast, the players are:
Lance Reddick as Phillip Broyles, Olivia’s FBI boss. He seems stern and obstructionist, but he generally believes Olivia when she comes to him with a strange story about creatures who can shape shift or have body parts that come from scorpions.
John Nobel as Dr. Walter Bishop, a mad scientist who’s been in a mental institution for 17 years but is responsible for most of the fringe science that’s invading the current universe. He’s brought out of the nut house to work with the FBI to figure out the mysterious goings on. Walter doesn’t always remember what he did years ago to create the startling science cases we see now. Part of Walter’s charm comes from the things he goes through to try to jog his memory. In addition to not remembering a lot of his former science experiments, Walter is hiding information deliberately, especially from his son Peter.
Blair Brown as Nina Sharp from Massive Dynamic, a biotech company headed by Walter Bishop’s former partner William Bell (Leonard Nimoy). Massive Dynamic may or may not be responsible for much of the chaos the FBI sets out to investigate.
Kirk Acevedo is Charlie Francis, Olivia’s FBI partner.
Mark Valley is John Scott, another FBI agent. Olivia is in love with him but he’s killed off early in the series.
Joshua Jackson is Peter Bishop. He’s Walter’s son. The two have been estranged for years, so there’s a subplot of father son relationships running through each episode. Peter has a rather testy attitude toward his father’s mad science, but nevertheless helps the FBI by keeping his father focused and by being a generally handy fellow to have around.
Jasika Nicole is Astrid Farnsworth, an FBI scientist who becomes Walter’s lab assistant. Her part grows slowly. She has little to do early on, but she is used more and more as the series goes on.
Looking forward to the far-out science
Based on where I am in season 2, the real story about parallel universes and alternate timelines is just getting going. Season 1 was mostly build up. I’m looking forward to the rest of the story.
If this show had been canceled after season 1, it would never have had a chance to tell its real story. There was danger of that, because the show had low numbers, but it hung on. Now it has a developing cult following, including me. I’m still a little amazed that our digital lifestyle allows shows to live on and continue to grow and convert new fans.
Fringe had an active Facebook page with about a bazillion photos you might enjoy looking through.
Are you already a Fringe fanatic? Please share your reasons for loving the show.
We begin back in the cafe where the two daughters went last week to retrieve their parents. They are shocked when the newly engaged Celia and Alan (Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi) announce to their children that they are getting married. Instead of congratulations for the announcement, Gillian (Nicola Walker) rushes off to the loo and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) claims to be too busy to stay and chat.
Our old young lovers agree to talk tomorrow as the children rush them off. They look at each other with so much affection, it’s simply lovely.
In the car, Celia tries to convince her daughter Caroline that she’s serious. Caroline blows her off by saying she doesn’t have time to think about it. It’s clear that she doesn’t think a marriage will actually happen.
Gillian asks her dad what the hell on earth he thinks he’s doing. He tries to explain about how her mother tricked him by not delivering Celia’s note all those years ago, but he doesn’t quite get it out.
Next day at school Kate (Nina Sosanya) tells Caroline that she told another teacher named Michael about her relationship with Caroline. Kate said all she told was they kissed a couple of times.
Celia calls Alan and says she wants to come over. She asks Caroline’s errant husband John (Tony Gardner) for a ride to rent a car. He asks her to put in a good word for him with Caroline. She doesn’t say she’ll help, but instead asks what he thinks about her news.
At the farm, Gillian tells her father that she thinks she should tell her son Raff (Josh Bolt) that his father actually committed suicide because Raff’s uncle keeps raising the issue of the father’s death.
John calls Caroline at school to see if she will agree to go out to dinner with him. He says he finds the relationship between Celia and Alan life-affirming. Caroline still continues to blow it off. I have to say I agree with John on this one. When he hangs up the phone he finds his girlfriend Judith (Ronni Ancona) at the door. That can’t be good.
At the school, Michael comes into Caroline’s office. He tries to intimidate and threaten her with his knowledge about her and Kate. Her response is, “Sod off, you little prick. Do you really think you can humiliate me? Go for it, genius, spread a few rumors. It will say more about you than it ever will about me. This is 2012. I was single. She’s single. We’re adults. We had a fling. The ladies have landed. Quite a long time ago in fact. Get over it.”
At Caroline’s house, John and Judith are discussing their breakup. Judith wants him back. They start drinking. That can’t be good, either.
At the farm Alan drags a box of photos down from the attic. He and Gillian look through some of them. There are photos of her mother, and her mother with both Alan and Celia. Once again he muffs the chance to explain to her that the only reason he ended up with her mother instead of Celia was because her mother tricked him. Celia arrives in her rented car. In Alan’s eyes it’s like the sun just came out. They talk about where they might live after they are married. His little house, which is currently rented. At the farm. In her cottage at Caroline’s. Three choices, no decision.
Gillian is using rocks to rebuild a wall when her bad boy lover Paul (Sacha Dhawan) drives up. Just as he asks if anyone is at her house, Celia and Alan drive by on their way to lunch. Well, no one’s at the house. Quickie time for Gillian and Paul.
On the drive into town, Celia suggests to Alan that they sell both their small cars and buy one car – something they’ve always fancied. Alan may be dazzled when he learns exactly what Celia’s always fancied.
John and Caroline’s eldest son William (Edward Ashley) arrives home from school to find John and Judith drunk. In his eyes, his dad is now officially a wanker. Gotta say I agree with him, even though John technically is innocent of any wrong doing on this particular occasion. Just as Judith heads out the door, Caroline phones and says yes to going out to dinner with John sometime. I love the way the writers framed these two phone calls about a dinner date for the reunited married folks with Judith’s arrival and departure.
In an auto showroom, Celia and Alan are looking at a red Lexus convertible. You read that right. A red convertible. While they look at the car, they exchange stories about their kids. Celia doesn’t understand why Caroline let John come back. Alan reveals his son-in-law’s suicide. They have trouble getting the salesman to take them seriously and let them drive the car. Ageism is rampant even in the UK.
At the farm, Gillian and Paul have finished their little love fest, and she tells him to bugger off. After he goes, she looks in the mirror with one of those what the hell am I doing looks.
The car salesman is finally talking deal with our favorite lovers. It will cost them about 10,000 (euros? pounds?) each. Turns out Celia drives a hard bargain.
They decide to have an engagement party on Saturday at the farm.
The minute Gillian gets her dad alone again, she brings up the question of telling Raff about the suicide. Alan agrees that it needs to be done. He tells Gillian he thinks it’s wise, one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard a parent say to a child in a television show.
When Gillian does tell Raff, he asks several questions. She tries to reassure him. She talks about how everyone has demons, a line of thought that seems to apply to her more than her dead husband. She mentions that Raff’s dad had a wonderful side and a dark side, and assures him that he doesn’t have a dark side like that. He’s like her dad – kind, thoughtful, balanced.
Celia arrives back home and tells Caroline about the party on Saturday at Alan’s house. They talk a while, giving Celia a chance to explain her feelings and how she doesn’t see her behavior as “rushing.”
This episode is full of deep conversations between parents and their children.
On Saturday morning, as they prepare to go to the engagement party, Caroline almost tells John about Kate, then changes her mind and talks about being snotty to Gillian instead. Then she tells him he can start sleeping in the bedroom with her again.
The engagement party starts off well, conversation is flowing. Alan stands up to give a speech and finally tells the tale of the deception that lead to him and Celia losing touch. Gillian looks gobsmacked when she realizes the implications of the story. As they toast the happy couple, the new Lexus is delivered. Everyone rushes outside to see it. The two daughters finally share a moment of bonding as they look at each other in dismay over their parents car buying behavior.
During the excitement over the new car, the police drive up to take Raff away because he assaulted Paul. Seems Paul was talking about his mother in a way Raff didn’t like. Gillian doesn’t have time to explain to Raff and the police that she’s been shagging Paul. During the arrest, William tells his mom about Judith being at their house. Finally convinced that John is a wanker, Caroline leaves him standing in the middle of the road at the farm and tells him he can’t come back. Feeling guilty about Kate is one thing, but a wanker is a wanker is a wanker. John is yelling at Caroline that she can’t leave him there when Celia walks up and slaps him.
As if Gillian hasn’t had enough to deal with already, we can look forward to learning in episode 3 whether or not she will claim her relationship with Paul or continue to try to hide him from her family. I’m also eager to find out where Celia and Alan are going to live.
What did you think of episode 2? What do you think will happen next?
The tweet lead me to this story in TIME Magazine : Memories Can Now Be Created — And Erased — in a Lab. In TIME, the writer talked about the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I’m with Dara, the story makes me think about the series Dollhouse.
Created by Joss Whedon, Dollhouse was on the air for 2 seasons from 2009-2010. The premise was that the residents of the dollhouse, who were captives, could be remade over and over into new people with new skills as needed for new jobs. Their memories were constantly being erased and rebuilt, depending on what the puppet masters needed them to do. Sit them in a special chair, zap their brains, and suddenly they were skilled surgeons or soldiers or equestrians.
Like Orphan Black allows for virtuoso performances from Tatiana Maslany, Dollhouse allowed the lead characters, particularly Eliza Dushku who played Echo, to be a completely different personality every week. All the actors who played “dolls” had the dream job of demonstrating their chops by inhabiting an ever changing array of personalities and characters.
If you are a Whedon fan, you know that Eliza Dushku also worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Other Whedon regulars who appeared in Dollhouse include Fran Kranz as Topher, the mad scientist who rewired everyone’s brain with aplomb, Amy Acker as (mostly) a doctor who helped take care of the dolls, Alexis Denisof as a Senator, Summer Glau as one of the dolls, and Alan Tudyk as a scary character named Alpha.
Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, and Olivia Williams were in the cast as characters who ran The House and the dolls. Most of the time these characters would be considered “the bad guys” but that was a bit fuzzy on this show. In addition to Echo, other dolls included Enver Gjokaj as Victor and Dichen Lachman as Sierra.
The conflict and struggle in Dollhouse partly came from the fact that the memory wiping and imprinting process was never quite perfect. For example, Echo always had vague ideas about who she really was and struggled to hold on to that. Victor and Sierra were in love. No matter what personality they had to take on, that basic emotion always seemed to creep back in. The struggle to recall who they really were led the dolls to attempt subterfuge and misdirection in an attempt to save their own memories and to escape from the dollhouse.
Mixed in with that overall story arc of the dolls attempting to get back to who they really were, there were the weekly stories centering around whatever action or job needed to be done by the dolls that week.
You could wipe my brain and make me forget that I’d ever heard of Joss Whedon, but I’d only have to watch one episode of Buffy kicking vampire butt or Echo fighting to retain her true self or or Gina Torres decked out in leather and guns aboard The Serenity to fall in love with his fictional females all over again.
If you missed Dollhouse the first time around, I suggest you watch it now. And if you’ve already seen it, binge watching a second time is a perfect way to spend a weekend.
You can watch both seasons of Dollhouse on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.
Like many Whedon creations, Dollhouse inspired an obsessive fandom to create a Wiki for the show. If you feel like getting into the details, the Wiki is your happy place.