Fan-Rants- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Subversive Power of a Good Narative

Dear Internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but so much has happened in the last three months. Ellen and I have fulfilled our mutual destiny by moving in together. Yes, that’s right; these two single soul-sisters are finally makin’ it happen. I’d say that our roommate dynamic is one part Golden Girls, one part Playing House (Ellen’s beagle Steve operates as a sort of Baby Charlotte to our Emma and Maggie).

Ours is a quiet existence, which is just fine with us, as it affords us plenty of time to pursue our passions: painting, dance, basket weaving, and making “ah-OO-gah” noises at cute boys through open car windows…

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Scratch that: we watch a lot of TV. Tonight’s media menu was The Music Man, followed by a YouTube palette cleanser, rounded off with a fresh episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you, like so much of the world, have written S.H.I.E.L.D. off as another one of ABC’s lost causes, you’re assumption is as understandable as it is premature.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has had it’s ups and downs over the last 4 seasons (I’m looking at you, season 2). But nothing makes for fine TV escapism quite like a world in turmoil. Our evermore chaotic 24 hour news cycle is the perfect fodder for some scintillating social commentary, if only a member of our media-elite should take enough time from mustache twirling and fake news-ing to look for it (these are the jokes, folks). Enter  Agents shield-season-4-jemma-fights-lmdsof S.H.I.E.L.D. If you haven’t kept up, let me bring you up to speed.

Through a escalating and, frankly, very complicated series of events, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team
have found themselves trapped in a parallel “framework” reality where the government and media are controlled by Hydra. Some- Daisy, Gemma, and Coulson- remember the world as it was, while others- Fitz, Mac, May- have bought into the lie.
Fitz, in particular, has made a temperamental 180 as the new de facto leader of Hydra. Gone is the sweet Fitz of yester-season. In the framework he murders and manipulates anyone who opposes him as he works to bring an as yet unspecified Hydra agenda to fruition.

IAIN DE CAESTECKERThis season, in addition to being beautifully written, has been less than subtle in it’s criticism of our recent, ahem, regime change. References to “alternative facts” and a seamless work-in of the line “nevertheless, she persisted” abound.  This week’s episode featured a scene where one especially sleazy character offers to take another female character “furniture shopping, anywhere she wants”. For anyone not picking up on the reference,  I offer you this proud moment in American history.

Some might be tempted to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been heavy handed, that they are pushing an unapologetically progressive agenda. To which I say, maybe.

Or it’s just a story about a group of people trapped in a reality they don’t understand. Where ideologies that were once collectively deemed hateful and unsupportable have gained a foothold. Where good people are changed beyond recognition by conditions out of their control.  And, like any good example of the superhero formula, it shows that while some people might succumb to their circumstances, other will rise above them and work to make the world a better place.

Oh, and then we went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. Have you tried the spicy chicken sandwich? It’s like buddah.

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Whitney Weldon

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TV Obituaries: RIP Psych

PsychWe have been so busy talking about that other finale that happened that I haven’t even gotten to properly grieve the passing of my beloved Psych. HIMYM and I had a roller coaster relationship, always up and down with it pissing me off quite a bit a times.  But, Psych?  Psych is that old friend that I always knew I could go to for a good laugh.  The only thing it ever did to upset me was go off the air for long periods of time, but that was always more USA’s fault.  Oh, and when Rachel Leigh Cook came in and screwed up everything.  That also upset me greatly.

Some may have said that this show was TOO goofy or TOO light or had TOO many pop culture references.  To those people, I say “C’mon son“.  Those were the reasons I loved it!  How am I supposed to live in a world where there will never be another Gus nickname?  Don’t be an old sponge with hair hanging off of it.

Shawn and Gus are the best bromance on TV, in my opionion, and it is what ultimately made the show.  Watching them scream like girls, eat pineapple, out reference each other, indecipherably bicker, and try to grow up will always warm my heart.

I have been with this show since day one, so this one hurts., but the pain is lessened by the fact that this show lived a nice, long life and got to go out on its own terms.  Psych, I salute you by raising a finger to my forehead and letting out a resounding “Suck it!”

Ellen

Just because I love them…

JT Waring: Do you understand about honor, Mr. Spencer?
Shawn: Of course I do. I have a bootleg copy of Saving Private Ryan at home.

Lassiter: What do you two know about street racing anyway?
Shawn:Only what we learned from The Fast and The Furious. So… everything.

Gus: You’ve never read the Bible, have you?
Shawn: Sure. There’s Genesis. Exorcist. Leviathan. Do… the right thing.

Major General Felts: I assume you realize this kind of idiocy will not be tolerated on my base!
Shawn:Is there another type of idiocy you would be more comfortable with?

Juliet O’Hara: Well, Lassiter’s really got your goat, huh?
Shawn: Yeah, he does, and I want it back. God knows what he’s doing to that poor thing.

Shawn: I don’t lose things. I place things in locations which later elude me.

Gus: Do you think it could be PTSD?
Shawn: I think it’s slightly more serious than a mere menstrual issue.

Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas Episodes

Today, I give you my list of Christmas episodes.  This list is almost impossible to whittle down to just 10, so I made this a list of 15.  Also, I tried to keep the list to just one episode per show.  Some of these, I haven’t watched in a long time and some are brand new additions to the Holiday Episode list. Keep in mind that I don’t watch every show and I am very biased in my selection of the “best holiday episodes ever”, but I think you can enjoy my list regardless.

15. “The 23rd” New Girl: Season 1 – Nick really fouls things up when he tells Jess’ current boyfriend that she is not in love with him.  The real Christmas magic is when Nick wakes up the most decorated neighborhood in town, Candy Cane Lane, to turn on all of their lights to cheer her up.  Is it any wonder why these two are together now?

how.i.met.your.mother.11120514. “Symphony of Illumination” How I Met Your Mother: Season 7 – Definitely the biggest bummer episode on the list, but that is what makes this episode so great.  Robin takes the narrating reins and tells the story of when she thought she was pregnant to what turn out to be her imaginary children.  You see, Robin finds out that she cannot have children.  The true Christmas spirit comes when Ted cheers her up without knowing why she needs cheering up by setting up an elaborate Christmas light routine.

13. “Christmas Party Sex Trap” The Mindy Project: Season 2  Yes, this just aired, but hello!  Did you see Chris Messina dance to Aaliyah?  Yeah.  And if that weren’t enough, Mindy and Danny almost kiss!

Bones12. “Santa in the Slush” Bones: Season 3 – Ah, the good old days when the only person getting into the Bones-Booth mix was Caroline bribing them into kissing under the mistletoe. I love Caroline. While the whole first-kiss aspect really helps, this is also just a pretty good Christmas episode. You have the gore and mystery with a dead Santa in a sewer, you have the funny with Booth having to sniff Santas, you have the whimsy with Santa’s apartment above a toy store, and you have the touching with Booth giving Brennan her Christmas tree. Le sigh.

11. “Christmas Special” 30 Rock: Season 3 – In my book, it doesn’t get much better than Liz Lemon ruining Christmas for some kids and Jack finding out that his mom took F.A.O. Schwartz as her gentlemen lover (“Uhh that word bums me out unless it’s between the words meat and pizza”) to make Christmas for him as a kid.

Parks-Recreation-Christmas-Episode-Pictures10. “Citizen Knope” Parks and Recreation: Season 4 – It shouldn’t be surprising that the merriest show on television is good at doing a Christmas episode.  Sure enough, in true Parks and Recreation style, this episode is hilarious and sweet.  Leslie is in the midst of her suspension after it is revealed that she and Ben are dating. Leslie is obviously the best at gift giving, but the parks department wants to make up some of the difference.  When her campaign team bails after low approval numbers, they give her the best gift of all!

9. “Afternoon Delight” Arrested Development: Season 2 – Ah, Christmas. The time of year when you have parties on Bethlehem time, sing about daytime lovin’ with your niece, and let kids get their grubby little hands all over a $3000 dollar suit. Come on!

8. “The Polarizing Express” Psych: Season 5 –  It is exactly what you would want out of an It’s a Wonderful Life episode from Psych written and directed by James Roday: bizarre, hilarious, and Gus in a UPN sitcom in the 90s. This episode only further solidifies my love for Roday.

Community Christmas7. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” Community: Season 2 – This stop-motion, musical spectacular holiday special send-up had to be on the list. Um, Abed finding out that the meaning of Christmas is the first season of Lost on DVD because Christmas can mean whatever we want it to mean? Brilliant, uproarious, and kind of sweet. Also, this episode gave me my new favorite Christmas mascot. Christmas Pterodactyl!

6. “Christmas Party” The Office: Season 2 – This one made me all sorts of nostalgic for the (now fulfilled) sexual tension of Jim and Pam. It also had some other great stuff, too. Michael’s impromptu Yankee Swap to get rid of the homemade oven mitt, Creed’s equally impromptu Secret Santa gift, Angela’s babies-playing-saxes poster, and Meredith flashing Michael. “Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party’s so lame.”

5. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” Supernatural: Season 3  This episode is exactly what you would expect from a Supernatural Christmas episode: it’s creepy, it’s kooky, and it has that punch of heart right at the end between the demon hunting bros.

happy4. “No-Ho-Ho” Happy Endings: Season 3 – All I want for Christmas is this show to come back.  Is that so much to ask?  The episode centers around the gang trying to give Jane the best birthday ever when they find out that her birthday is actually on Christmas, but they have a hard time keeping Christmas out.  Between Brad’s penchant for dancing with hip-hop Santa, Max’s Egg Nog addiction, and Alex’s weird present opening fetish, there is no way they can succeed.  “Happy Birthday, Jane.  And Jesus.”

The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis3. “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” The Big Bang Theory: Season 2 – Sheldon really struggles with what to reciprocate Penny’s Christmas gift with so he buys up every gift basket in Bath and Body Works with plans to pick the present that best fits her gift to him in terms of price. And while I enjoy this whole episode, I adore the last five minutes. When Sheldon receives Penny’s … you know what, just go watch this.

2. “A Christmas Carol” Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor – It should be noted that I somehow forgot to include at lease ONE Doctor Who special on yesterday’s list.  I’m so ashamed that I am cheating and including this special on the episode list.  Hey, it’s my list, I can do what I want.  It has gotten to they point now where my Christmases are not complete without my Doctor Who specials and this one is my favorite.  A twist on the Dickens classic may be a bit over done, but the Whovian element makes this just right.

mst3k-patrick-swayze-christmas1. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 3 – In answer to your question, yes, this movie is as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, probably more so. But that is what makes Joel and the bots making fun of it so great. Then you couple their commentary with their performance of “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”, a seminal Christmas carol classic, and you get pure holiday magic.
Phew! That’s a lot of linking for your viewing pleasure, there you have it! Do you have any shows you like with great Christmas episodes that I should check out? Do you disagree with my order? Not that I am going to change my mind, but I would love to at least pretend to listen to your feedback. Check out my favorite Christmas specials and stay tuned for my favorite holiday movies and holiday records!

Ellen

MBK: Ben Wyatt, Shawn Spencer, and Damon Salvatore

This weeks Marry Boff Kill is perhaps the most contentious in recorded history. We will be deciding the fates of three of TV’s handsomest men: Ben Wyatt (Parks and Rec), Shawn Spencer (Psych), and Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries).

936full-james-rodayWhitney’s Answers:

Marry Shawn Spencer: Anyone who doesn’t think that Shawn is marriage material is an old sponge with hair hanging off of it. He’s funny, self-employed, and he kinda looks like a young Andrew Lincoln. Also, because Shawn and his BFF Gus are something of a package deal, I would be getting two smokin’ hot men for the price of one. To not take that deal, I would have to be just like Topher Grace walking on the beach at the end of In Good Company.

Parks and Recreation - Season 4Boff Ben Wyatt: Is it ethical to boff someone out of curiosity? I mean, we know Damon can boff with the best of them, and Shawn has a long-standing reputation as a ladies man, but Ben Wyatt is something of a mystery. So  I’d boff him, you know, just to see what the deal is. Does that sound slutty? I’m sure my mother will let me know.

abbs-abs-damon-salvatore-dance-hot-Favim.com-118663Kill Damon Salvatore: I really have no problem killing Damon because he is a lead character on a show that is notorious for killing people and bringing them back to life. I’m pretty sure that the writers of VD will think of some supernatural plot device that will have him up  and dancing on that banister again in no time.

 

 

 

Ellen’s Answers:

Whitney, you ignorant slut.  This is the only real course of action…

parks-and-rec-benMarry Ben Wyatt:  Ben Wyatt has all the qualities that this girl looks for in a mate.  Namely, that he would be a most faithful, lifelong Comic Con companion. I would support him in his every endeavor, whether they be lackluster claymaish shorts or his Low Cal Calzone Zone.  We would enjoy nights of Game of Thrones viewings and lively debates on the value of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  How can a real fangirl not marry this fellow nerd?  Ben Wyatt, I like you and I love you.

tvddamonemotionsnotextBoff Damon Salvatore:  Whitney, you shock and amaze me.  How can you post your above picture of the infamous bannister dance and NOT boff Mr. Salvatore?  And look at that cock of the eyebrow.  I could never resist.  I think I can safely say that if Damon Salvatore is ever in a round of Marry Boff Kill, he is always the ONLY option for boffing.  I don’t want to marry into all that broody, self-loathing, immortality.  But a night of passionate vampire boffing?  Check, please.

NUP_135034_0102Kill Shawn Spencer:  As is the case with most killings in this game, this one grieves me.  I love Shawn Spencer and a life with him would one full of laughter and adventure.  But… he’s also a manchild and this girl likes men.  While I take much joy from watching his childish antics every week (or when USA deigns to air this show every six months to a year), I don’t think I would want a lifetime of them.

Who got it right?  What are your answers?

– Whitney and Ellen

The Return of Psych!

imageProcedural cop show. Buddy comedy. 80’s nostalgia hour. Stylistically USA’s Psych is a little all over the place. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what Ellen and I love about it. That and the fact that James Roday’s character Shawn Spencer fulfills all our quasi-bad boy needs (motorcycle, complicated relationship with father, spotty employment record, and questionable dietary habits). I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be an incorrigible Eskimo pie with a caramel ribbon. Watch Psych tonight on USA!

-Whitney

In With the Old: Clue

Tell me if we were  the only kids who did this:  Whenever I visited my cousins (or visa versa) growing up we would always do this thing when we watched movies together.  Either prior to starting the movie or at the very beginning, we would pick a character to “be”, so if someone is a character who later gets slapped, we’d say things like, “That looks like that would hurt”.  Or if someone’s character is somewhat risque, we would call each other “naughty” or “a bad girl”.  Keep in mind that we were young and innocent, so our vocabulary of more scathing remarks was limited.

Our favorite movie to watch together had to be Clue because we watched it close to every time that we visited each other.   My cousins and I would fight over who got to be Ms. Scarlet or even Yvette the maid, because we were impressionable little girls growing up believing that it was more desirable to be the more attractive option.  However, as we grew older and wiser, I believe that our choices became more informed.  There’s only so many options in that movie, so one of us would still end up being Ms. Scarlet, but instead we were fighting over Mrs. White because we had begun to recognize the comedic genius of Madeline Khan (“it-it- the f – it -flam – flames. Flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths… Heathing…”  Best.  Ever).

As I have matured, it dawns on me that this is one of those perfect movies to grow up watching.  The slapstick will be funny to all ages.  But as you get older, you begin to understand more of the zippy one-liners and “adult” humor that went over your head as a child.  It also occurs to me that when watching movies you loved as a child, it is difficult to re-visit them without being biased and tell your grown-up colleagues that they are truly as great as you remember them.  Now, I fully believe that Clue is as great as 9-year old me thought that it was because I still get the same enjoyment out of it that I did back then.  The performances here are genius and I pick up on new jokes that I had either never previously heard or “gotten”.

I just love this movie and it warms the cockles of my heart every time I watch it.

Did/do you love Clue, too?  If you do, did you know that Psych is doing a reunion episode for it’s 100th episode?  Yeah.  You could say I’m excited about that.  If you have some free time, check out the video I found of someone’s top 25 moments of the movie. (SPOILERS!)

-Ellen

Grade A, Choice Picks: TV Bromances

Ah, the love between two straight men.  Isn’t it bromantic?  It seems like TV is rife with these special relationships and I love it!  There is something so fun about seeing these guys be unabashed about their love for each other.  Believe me, I had a heck of a time whittling this down to only five.  For the sake of whittling, please note that I disqualified any bromances between actual brothers (sorry, Sam, Dean, Stefan, and Damon).  With that said, let’s get to it!

5. Bret and Jemaine – Flight of the Conchords: Look, Bret and Jemaine have had their squabbles over their band, girls, and shared apartment.  But they always find a way to muddle through, usually through the gift of song.  For the best example of this, watch the video.

4. J.D. and Turk – Scrubs: Probably the most unabashed pair on this list, J.D. and Turk make no ifs, ands, or buts about their love.  Any wife or girlfriend who ever came in the mix just had to accept that they were getting a two for one deal.  Perhaps, the theme song of “bromances”, I give you “Guy Love”:

3. Troy and Abed – Community: Let’s set aside any pillow vs. blanket battle royales and face the facts: Troy and Abed are tight.  Tighter than Inspector Spacetime and Constable Reggie.  But that’s what happens when you have a morning talk show together, hang out in a Dreamatorium, and bunk together.  A great moment in their friendship was when they wanted to ask out the same girl:

2. Tim and Mike – Spaced: Yes, Tim is somewhat responsible for killing Mike’s dreams of joining the ranks, but that didn’t kill the mood for these two.  The chemistry between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is obviously real and true because it has carried on into every other project they have done together.  Just look at how wrecked Tim is over Mike’s FAKE death by paintball.

1.  Shawn and Gus – Psych: They left me no choice.  Between the nicknames, the screaming, the shared childhood memories, and the way they always have each other’s backs these two are the best bromance on TV and that bromance is pretty central to the show.  Finally getting Shawn and Juliet together  didn’t have the “Moonlighting effect” because their romance is not the the central relationship of the show.  That honor belongs to the boys.

What do you think? Agree?  Disagree?  Who should have been knocked off?  Who should have replaced them?  Believe me, I had a long list of runners-up.

Ellen