Are you watching MasterChef Junior?

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If not, you should be. You really should be.

My first encounter with MasterChef Junior was through my roommate. I came home one day to find her on the couch watching a bunch of children cook food. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes, mumbling, “Troy’s just been sent home.” I’ve been hooked ever since.

The premise is simple. Like any other reality competition show, 12 kids (ages 8-13) compete in cooking challenges, and 2 contestants are eliminated each week. But what is so different about this show (other than the contestants being so young yet amazingly talented making it beyond adorable) is how positive the show is. Rather than each contestant tear each other down in the interviews and refuse to share ingredients or encourage each other in any way, these kids genuinely like each other. They high-five one another at the end of a challenge. They talk about how amazing each one is. They run to hug the winner of the challenge. And they cry when one of them is eliminated. It is ridiculously endearing.

Added on top of the positive atmosphere of the show, is the cute element. These kids are far better chefs than I am (not that it’s hard to be), cooking with ingredients and making dishes I’ve often never heard of. They move around the kitchen with ease, yet their faces say everything. They can’t hide their happiness, or keep in their disappointment. Their ambitions and creative dreams are delightful to hear. (I defy you not find little Abby’s Horses and Course restaurant plan to be the cutest thing you’ve ever heard.)

Of everything, I think my favorite is to see the usual hard-ass Gordon Ramsey being sweet and kind with the kids. He hugs, he praises, and lives up to the hero most of the kids see him as. It is, in my opinion, one of the best shows on television right now.

The current season is 4 episodes in. You can catch up on OnDemand, or Hulu Plus, or here at Fox.com. And if you’re looking to feel good, I suggest you do.

New episodes air, on Tuesdays at 8pm.

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Are you watching MasterChef Junior?

Music in Movie Trailers lately

Music in trailers has the tricky task of adding to the trailer without distracting (this also applies to the film itself, obviously, but I’m not talking about that). The music should help get you excited about the film, but not be the only thing you remember, but still be somewhat memorable. It’s tricky.

For me my most memorable trailers (again, just trailers, not the film themselves) are the ones where I can easily recall the music to place the images alongside. When a lyric or beat in the music conjures the image from the trailer. The most memorable of late for me have been the first Gone Girl trailer using “She” and the first Fifty Shades of Grey trailer. [I know, I know, who praises Fifty Shades of Grey? I’m just saying the trailer was well edited. Beyonce’s remix of “Crazy In Love” is perfection, and the editing is equally perfect. But the second trailer was beyond awful, so there’s that. (Whereas the second Gone Girl trailer was just as great.)]

Equally so, the first trailer of Unbroken had me rewatching and rewatching because of the music. It was so in sync with the story, and comes off flawless. Then the second trailer came out. I remember exactly where I was when I watched it because I was so disappointment. Watching it is like listening to chaos. The music doesn’t match and is so jumpy and makes it difficult to follow the visuals. I read one reviewer who wrote, “Why is this trailer trying so hard?” Why is it mixing Beast of the Southern Wild soundtrack with M83’s “Wait”? It was unnecessary and over the top, and I hope does not reflect how the overall film will turn out.

 

While some trailers remix popular songs, the trend I’m loving most lately is the remixing of children’s songs, and making them more mainstream, and yes, slightly creepy. Last Spring, Maleficent came out with a Lana Del Rey’s version of “Once Upon a Dream” and it is incredible. And most recently, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron used Pinoccio’s “I’ve Got No Strings” in it’s trailer. Which is brilliant.

 

Does anyone else love this use of children songs? Because I love it. I’m obsessed with the nostalgic and powerful uses they bring to the trailers. I hope more trailers continue in this trend.

Music in Movie Trailers lately

What’s Your Most Memorable “Scary” Episode of a TV Show?

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Many TV shows have a Halloween/meant-to-be-scary special episode. Most in fact. I love theme episodes. I think they’re fun and when done right, sets apart good TV shows from great TV shows. When writers can incorporate the current story line into something completely different it shows the strength and quality of the writers.

Thinking through the most memorable “scary” episodes, I immediately think of the Boy Meets World episode – “And Then There was Shawn.” It’s by far the my favorite theme episode of any show. And I know it is for many others.

[Full disclose – it wasn’t aired around Halloween time (it was aired in February), but it was the shows only attempt at a “scary” episode.]

tumblr_lke8h9pj1m1qcjucpo1_500I grew up on Boy Meets World, and thankfully this past year the show has returned to mainstream pop culture for a little while. This particular episode, from season 5, focuses on one character’s (Shawn) difficulty in witnessing two other character’s (Cory and Topanga) breakup. In doing so Shawn dreams of killing off all his friends as he blames himself for their breakup. It’s campy, and ridiculous, and pure fun, and simultaneously calls out many horror film classics. A little bit like the entire show as a whole.

When I asked my little brother, Andrew, if he remembered this episode, he said that it scared him so badly the first time he left the room while we were watching and couldn’t watch it until a few years later. (He was like, 8 years old.) My memory is seeing Ben Savage squeal and run away like a little girl.

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What are other memorable scary episodes from TV shows? Do any bring up nostalgic feelings like this one does for me?

And if any one would like to, you can watch the full episode here.

What’s Your Most Memorable “Scary” Episode of a TV Show?

Why Do We Forgive a Pretty Face?

I recently started watching BBC’s The Fall, staring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. Anderson plays a police detective, Dornan a serial killer. (That’s not a spoiler, it’s instantly revealed.) I know a show about a serial killer is not for everyone, but I’m halfway through and it is thrilling, suspenseful, and beautifully edited.

I mean, just look at this shot:

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There’s a lot written about the show in regards to the switching up gender roles – Anderson is a career driven, emotionless woman. Dornan, a loving father (albeit, also a murderer). But most of what I’ve read about it touches on how disturbing it is – disturbing that although as a viewer you know what Dornan is doing is wrong, he’s so good looking you’re still drawn to him. His beauty almost eclipses the evilness of his actions. Even his own co-star admits the conflict. In an interview Anderson said, his attractiveness “makes what Spector (Dornan) does even more disturbing. Do his actions suddenly become less horrific or even perversely desirable because he is?”

This forgiveness and understanding of actions of a pretty face has no limit. Shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 (and every other CW show) are full of characters who are actually not that great of people. I personally wouldn’t want to hang out or be friends with any of them. But those shows of horrible characters are full of good-looking, beautiful people and we forgive their actions and watch on. How many people continually rooted for Chuck and Blair? Neither were good individuals, yet we demanded they have happiness together.

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It’s horrible, but I’ve fallen victim Dornan’s charm as well. It was his eyes, his beard, his accent that makes me want to justify his actions. He’s enchanting on screen and makes me as a viewer want to understand why he is that way, instead of immediately rejecting it. This idea is nothing knew, and it’s a well known fact that serial killers are typically charming and well liked people outside of what they do. But seeing it as an audience is something entirely different. This is all the crucial element to the show – take away Dornan, and you’d lose the whole experience.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful thriller – I recommend The Fall. The first season is available on Netflix, and is only 5 episodes.

Why Do We Forgive a Pretty Face?

Has Binge Watching Ruined Regular TV for Me?

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It’s the best time of the year and all my favorite shows have returned over the past few weeks (or soon will be in the coming days). I’m delighted and thrilled, yet simultaneously, not as inclined to watch right away as I typically am.

I prefer to live a very spoiler free life, and thereby try to watch shows the night they air, or the following morning. I like to be current on such things, and I like to always be in the know. (Don’t we all?) But this fall season I haven’t felt that need, in fact, I’ve been just the opposite. Feeling more along the lines of, ‘eh, I’ll binge watch and catch up for the mid-season finale’ or ‘I’ll save 4 episodes and watch them all at once.’ This is a dramatic change from my usual stance, and I can’t help but blame Netflex, Hulu, etc., and the trend of binge watching.

I’ve become so conditioned to hit next episode (or merely let it keep playing to the delight of the truly lazy), to know that I don’t have to suffer through the cliff hanger I just witnessed, to power through each storyline, to be able to see as much as I want to see at a time. No longer am I use to being told when the cut off will come.

There is pros and cons to both. The week long delay (or more) between each episode is effective and dramatic. Binge watching can be an overload, and storylines that are meant to feel long are seen as only one evening of viewing. Yet, regular TV can be difficult to retain details and embrace the characters week to week (even with a brief recap at the beginning). With binge watching, characters become apart of my life (as I spend 4 hours* each night with them, they become more familiar to me than the average person in my real life). When it comes to regular TV, I know I’m invested in these characters of seasons past, but right now I can’t always recall why.

Is there a difference in commitment to each style of watching? Are the more “true fans” the ones that start from the beginning and wait with each week and season break? Are you just as loyal if you watch a show over the course of 5 years than those who take 5 weeks? Is our TV viewing experience forever changed?

 

*4 hours is just a number to throw out there. Some times it’s more, some times it’s less. We’ve all been there.

 

Has Binge Watching Ruined Regular TV for Me?

Successful TV Posters

You should never a judge a book by it’s cover– that is generally a true statement. But no one follows that rule. (And while I get the sentiment behind it, I also find the cliche to be slightly harsh, since, some person some where put a lot of time and effort in to that cover, and it shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.)

Same goes for TV series posters. They are made purposefully to grab attention, highlight the series, and make you watch. Some succeed at this, and some fail miserably. I like to focus on the successful ones. Almost every single one of these made me either want to watch the show, or start it back up again since I stopped watching. Here are my top five TV posters of this year, based on visuals only. [But honestly, that might not be true, because it really is hard to separate feelings about a show from it’s poster. But I’ll try.]

Homeland. This is a home run. Every time I see this poster it catches my eye, and I always stare longer than normal at it. No text, no taglines, because you don’t need it. Well done, Homeland. homeland-season-4-poster

Gotham. I’ve been loving these posters since they first started putting them out, and even if they show didn’t live up to what I wanted, these posters are still gorgeous. I love that the emphasis is completely on the individual without showing any of the city. gotham_posters_gordon

American Horror Story. AHS kills it every time. The end. american_horror_story_66996

Gracepoint. I have such mixed feelings on this one – I think it is ridiculous to take a British show and copy it exactly but place it in America, I do love this visual. So, while I refuse to watch the show, I will happily look at the poster. Gracepoint_612x898

Modern Family. The tag line is what sold me. “All in.” I enjoyed looking at all the personality going on in the image and then took it all in and loved it. And let’s just be gratefully they’re not all matching, or wearing formal attire in this one. 2462d200-3ac2-11e4-a146-afee81efcd61_Modern-Family-First-Look
Successful TV Posters

A Little Mystery For Your Fall

Fall is right around the corner (I mean, it’s practically here already) and I for one, cannot wait. During this particular season I prefer to read books with a little mystery and suspense to them. Below are some of my favorite past and current reads for Autumn.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynnsharp-objects-book-cover
If you’re like me and you’re dying with anticipation for October 3rd to see Gone Girl, this book can help fill the time.
A young journalist, Camille Preaker, must return to her hometown to cover the murder of two preteen girls. While home, dealing with a mother she hardly gets a along with, and a half sister she barely knows, Camille begins to identify with the victims…A slightly disturbing read, but completely enthralling. (And no doubt will be made in to a movie soon given Flynn’s record…)

 

Before_i_go_to_sleep_posterBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Every morning Christine wakes up with no memories as a result from a traumatic accident. As she begins to keep a journal to re-read each morning, she questions if she can trust anyone around her. A slightly haunting book that sticks with you even after you finish.
The film version comes out in October staring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

 

 

 

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On a lighter note (and a little more YA..) there’s this series. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girl meets Veronica Mars. What more could you want?
Expelled from her Upper East Side academy, Anne must finish out the school year at a boarding school outside Boston. All Anne wants is to get back to New York, but when her roommate is found dead in the woods near campus, Anne becomes obsessed with finding out what happened.
I’m halfway through the 2nd book in the series, and can’t put them down.

 

Anyone have suggestions for Fall reads?

 

A Little Mystery For Your Fall