In Memoriam: Character Death’s I’m Still Not Over

(A pretty big and obvious SPOILER WARNING applies)

Over the years television has become bolder, brasher.  Bold moves such as huge plot changing twists often include deaths of beloved characters. Some character deaths are minor, only contributing a bit of heartache moving forward on a show. Some character deaths are so big that their repercussions can be felt throughout the remainder of a series.

Death’s can also be silly and contrived, only serving as a plot device to move other characters or story in a certain direction.  A death of a beloved character can spark heated debate and opinions.  Though most shows on television today utilize death as a plot point, some just leave us wondering.

Kol Mikaelson (The Vampire Diaries – Season 4) – Season three of The Vampire Diaries introduced us to the entirety of the Mikaelson clan, including brothers Finn and Kol. Eldest brother Finn, devoted to ending his and his siblings “miserable” lives as vampires, posed a threat not only to the protagonists of the show, but the rest of the Mikaelson family as well. His kol1death was swift but necessary. Youngest brother Kol, though, showed vital signs of excitement and a touch of trouble when undaggered and reunited with his family. He quickly became a fan favorite; his cute and mischievous ways were a welcome addition to the sometimes bland main characters. His all too controversial death in season four came after Elena and Jeremy White Oak-staked him, producing an outcry on social media. Not only was his death sloppy and heartbreaking, it also produced a vampire genocide that really didn’t seem to have much effect on the characters consciences or the vampire world moving into future seasons.

Death seems to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to The Vampire Diaries. Characters constantly perish and are reborn again, one way or another. No season truly displayed this act more than season five, where some of our favorites characters, including Elena, Stefan, Alaric, and newcomer Enzo were resurrected from “The Other Side.” Accordingly, TVD introduced its popular new spin-off, The Originals, which centers on the Mikaelsons and their troubles in New Orleans.   Every opportunity to resurrect Kol was given, especially after the season one finale of TO, where patriarch Mikael, matriarch and witch Esther, and brother Finn were all brought back into the land of the living one way or another. Kol still remains the one permanently dead Original. His loss is still felt and debated.

peterrussoPeter Russo (House of Cards – Season 1) – The inaugural season of House of Cards not only brought some of the best small screen produced drama, but it introduced viewers to a bevy of new and exciting characters. Fans of the show rooted for Pennsylvania Congressman Peter Russo and his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. He was a good guy who couldn’t settle or overcome his upbringing, an underdog from a rough home and it showed. That didn’t stop him from being one of season one’s best characters. Frank Underwood’s mission to turn Peter’s life around for his own gain was manipulative, though necessary for Russo. A good kick in the proverbial ass would straighten him out and put him on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, Underwood’s determinations wavered and Russo became more of a hindrance to our main character. Frank and his team manipulated Russo into a relapse, ruining his chances in office. The final act came when Russo, high, drunk, and down on his luck, confided in Frank. Frank sat back and watched his mentee slip, delivering his final act as he let Russo die of asphyxiation in a locked, garaged car. Russo’s death signified the gritty tone of House of Cards, introducing audiences to the real Frank Underwood. But Peter’s loss was felt through season two, leaving fans of his to struggle with whom to root for.

Tom Shayes (Damages – Season 3) – Similar to Frank Underwood was Patty Hewes. A powerful, successful New York City lawyer who didn’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. Patty tomshayeswasn’t afraid to take the more immoral path when it came to fighting for a win. The high-powered woman had many enemies and many people who were ready to destroy her and her associates. Patty’s right-hand man and partner, Tom Shayes, suffered the brunt of her misdeeds. Tom fought for his place by Patty’s side, turning down amazing offers and opportunities for an easier life with his family. Tom’s loyalties to Patty delivered him the ultimate sacrifice – his life. Entangled in a high-profiled case with proven dangerous people, Tom was murdered trying to do the right thing, fighting to save Patty and the firm. Although his death was presented as the main mystery of season three, his final minutes on screen didn’t make his death any easier. His loss was evident through out the rest of the series, as it never really did recoup after such a huge character loss.

nealonceNeal Cassidy/Baelfire (Once Upon a Time – Season 3) – One would think that the son of the all-powerful Rumpelstiltskin would be the last on the list of characters that would meet a deadly fate. Another show that plays with death like a toy, many other Once characters had experienced temporary death — the loss of their heart, being cursed, and being brought back to life with true loves kiss. Season three’s Zelena (The Wicked Witch) would prove to be the gang’s biggest foe, causing heartbreak and bloodshed in her wake. This terrorizing beauty made sure no one stood in her way, including Rumpel. The expanded family paid the ultimate price when Belle helped a grief-stricken Neal try to find a way to bring back his father from his own sacrifice. Regrettably, this meant sacrificing a life for a life as the two were tricked into resurrecting Rumpel only for Neal’s life to be taken in the process. The Dark One tried everything in his power to bring back his son, but Zelena’s magic and havoc was too strong. Neal begged to be let go of, to die a hero – and that’s what he did. Not only was Neal one of the best additions to the show, but he also showed a true chemistry with Emma, son Henry, and the rest of Storybrooke. His death came too soon as Michael Raymond-James’s series regular status on the show only lasted one season. The potential was wasted for his character and growth as his death only served as an easy plot device to later move Emma and Captain Hook closer to each other.

Mitchell (Being Human UK – Series 3) – Supernatural shows are no strangers to death, but when that death is of a main character it’s jarring, nonetheless. The UK version of Being Human saw a huge shift in character and story after its third season. One of the only shows to successfully transition into an entirely new cast, the loss of the first group of supernatural aidanbhentities living in a house together was still traumatic. Vampire [John] Mitchell had been on a long and hard road to overcome his blood addiction. Constantly struggling to be as human as possible and do the right thing, the charming vamp relapsed and fought his way through his urges with the help of werewolf best friend George and ghost girlfriend Annie. Mitchell’s ultimate sacrifice came when a faction of vampires were gearing up to take control. It was either Mitchell join them or subject himself to a fate worse than death.   In the Being Human world there was no afterlife for the soulless vampires and Mitchell knew that to save his roommates and loved ones he would have to help stop the war before it began. He had taken part in the murder of an entire train of innocent humans and had given into his most basic vampiric urges. But he had fallen in love, making every effort to pick himself up again, and giving his life for the ones he cared for most would be his final act. Faced with the choice of killing his best friend or die himself, George made his most gut wrenching decision as he delivered a stake into Mitchell’s chest. The loss of Mitchell was so big and painful that the rest of the original cast exited soon after, making way for a new group of supernatural roomies. Mitchell’s was the first of a handful of big moves for the UK edition that still makes one tear up to this day.

Henry Durham (Being Human US – Season 3) – It’s hard to mourn and move on from a character’s death, especially when said character didn’t even perish on screen. Aidan’s progeny, Henry, was a great addition to the US version of Being Human in its second season. He was compelling and easy on the eyes. We watched as Aidan struggled to rebuild a kyle2relationship with the “son” he had banished almost a hundred years earlier. Aidan struggled to keep himself cemented in the human and vampire worlds and Henry struggled for acceptance from his maker and the vampire community that had exiled him. Season three found most of the Boston vampires dead, wiped out by a horrible virus that only knocked humans into bed for a few days. The vampire flu was unavoidable, but Aidan helped himself and Henry from feeding off of tainted blood. Henry, though, would prove he wasn’t as strong as his maker. The vampire couldn’t control his hunger, feeding on diseased blood and contracting the fatal illness. Henry’s final speech to Aidan was his goodbye as he reminded his “father” that they were vampires, not humans. Henry walked off, letting the virus take him. Except, viewers never watched Henry die; Henry walked off, presumably turning into a pile of dust. But this was a character who had proved his survival skills, a trait Aidan made sure to remind his vampire son of over and over again. It’s hard to accept a characters death when their final moments aren’t even seen on screen and they have a history of making surprise entrances. Unfortunately, Being Human ended after its fourth season and it’s still unknown if Henry ever did miraculously survive the vampire flu.

cyril1Cyril O’Reily (Oz – Season 6) – On a show that centers around America’s toughest criminals, it wouldn’t shock anyone when shady goings on in a prison takes out one of its own. Fortunately for Oz, they built a series with a plethora of different and intriguing characters that one couldn’t help but root for. No character showed more compassion than Cyril O’Reily, Ryan O’Reily’s mentally handicapped brother. Cyril had been commissioned by Ryan to murder Gloria Nathan’s husband and Cyril, who could only comprehend at the mental capacity of a five year old, easily complied. The otherwise sympathetic Cyril was willing to do anything his brother asked of him. Cyril’s actions landed him straight in Oz and he became one of the most likable characters within a cast of degenerates. Cyril’s accidental but deadly actions in prison landed him on death row; the poor man couldn’t comprehend that he had made fatal mistakes. No appeals or a mental institution could help Cyril and in the show’s final episode and one of the shows more disturbing acts, Cyril was given the death penalty. This devastating final act was also one of the shows strongest moments. It showed how corrupt the prison system is and how even the most soulless of characters could have heart.

Tommy Merlyn (Arrow – Season 1) – Oliver Queen’s playboy best friend, Tommy, not only rose above his childish, egotistical ways, but also showed viewers that, indeed, a person can tommymerlynchange. Although his relationship with his best friends ex came off as less than honorable at first, Tommy and Laurel Lance worked. Her stern demeanor and his care free views on life fit together, evening each other out in a way that made more sense than former beau Oliver and Laurel. Tommy overcame his spoiled upbringing and although it took a little push by his father, Tommy learned that hard work really does pay off. Tommy proved himself as a formidable character and presented himself as a sweet and charming brother type, not only protecting Thea, but holding onto Oliver’s double life as The Arrow a secret all the way to his grave. Tommy’s untimely death at the end of season one was a shocker that changed the course of many characters lives moving forward on the show. His absence was felt as Thea learned that Malcolm was, in fact, her biological father and as Oliver continued to take on the evil in Starling City.

mikeehrMike Ehrmantraut (Breaking Bad – Season 5A) – Perhaps a turning point for Walter White and the series as a whole was the accidental death of Mike.  In a desperate attempt to procure the names of the men who worked for Gus and his operation, Walt fatally shot Mike in the former hitmans attempt to flee town.  Walt’s shot was purely accidental as he only meant to scare the elder partner.  Though Mike was by no means a “good” guy, he showed a ton of heart, especially in scenes depicting him and his young granddaughter.  All the money Mike had been earning through Gus and Walt had been put away into savings for young Kaylee.  Unfortunately, with the arrest of one of his men and the discovery of Walt’s true character, the money was seized into evidence.  To this day, Mike remains one of the best characters Breaking Bad has ever created.  With the announcement that his portrayer, Jonathan Banks, would be joining the prequel spin-off, Better Call Saul, fans don’t have to mourn his death too much longer.

himymTracy McConnell (How I Met Your Mother – Season 9) – As depicted many times, a character death as a use of a plot device can prove infuriating and sloppy. No plot device was as obvious as the death of the titular character of How I Met Your Mother. Fan’s tuned in for nine years to finally meet the mother of Ted Mosby’s children, the love of his life. Tracy, who had been introduced in the finale of the eighth season, came to be adored and loved by viewers. She was smart, funny, and was the perfect match for the love inept Ted. Tracy and Ted were perfect for each other – soul mates. But that hadn’t been HIMYM’s long-standing plan. The plan from the beginning was for Ted and Robin to constantly play the “are they, aren’t they game,” going back and forth on whether they were meant to be together or not. Robin seemed happy with playboy Barney and Ted was growing and moving on in his life. But Tracy’s death served as the final blow to the series. Ted had spent nine years telling his children the story of how he met their mother, but it was really just a journey as to how he was rediscovering his love for their Aunt Robin. The series took nine years of great character growth, story, and suspense and flushed it down the toilet. By turning the mother into a device and having Tracy fall ill and die, the series ruined what it had stood for since the beginning.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Singer and Kevin Tran (Supernatural), Zoe Barnes (House of Cards), Allison Argent (Teen Wolf), Robb, Catelynn, and Ned Stark (Game of Thrones), Debra Morgan (Dexter), Mike Delfino (Desperate Housewives), Everyone (Six Feet Under).

My Day at House of Cards

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(Events of this post took place on Thursday, July 11, 2013 and contains mild spoilers for season 2.)

It’s no secret, one of my new favorite shows is Netflix’s House of Cards.  So, when I found out the second season would be holding an open casting call, I had to go.  I was even more surprised when I received a phone call from the casting agency asking if I would be available to be an extra on the show.  I immediately said yes.

The night before I received my call time and holding location, as well as all the information regarding the filming for that day.  Luckily the show was shooting close to my house.  With my call time set for 6:30 AM and my role secured as a “Reenactment Visitor,” I hardly slept a wink that night.

I woke up at 5 AM, slightly nervous but also more excited than I wanted to admit.  A million things rushed through my mind:  What if I got to watch Kevin Spacey film? A living acting legend and one of my all time favorite actors.  What kinds of “spoilers” would I witness?  The first season ended with several cliffhangers that anything was possible.  Then it dawned on me, there may be a chance I wouldn’t see Kevin Spacey or any others from the flawless cast.  For all I knew they were just shooting establishing shots and background scenes.

I got to the extra/crew parking lot around 6:15 AM.  Vans were there, ready to take us to the actual holding area/set at Patapsco Valley State Park.  As we entered the big, empty park, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  As we continued down a small road, though, trailers, filming equipment and various crew members became visible.  The park itself was set up as an reenactment event.  The van dropped us off at the top of a hill where we walked down to a series of tents.  A plethora of men were dressed in civil war garb, armed with guns and everything.  We were escorted through the tents to the very back, where the extras holding was.  It was crowded, at least two hundred people, and loud.  The production assistants made sure to keep everything together, though, and called for certain groups of extras: reenactors, press, secret service, visitors, etc.

I put my stuff down and was almost immediately escorted to wardrobe.  We were assigned to dress for spring: I wore a black skater dress with a jean jacket and flats.  We had also been advised to bring an extra change of clothes if wardrobe didn’t approve of what we were wearing.  I didn’t even stand before the costumer for ten seconds before he said I looked good and cleared me.

A production assistant then escorted a group of us who were approved and ready to go.  We saw the people in charge of props; some people got items like cameras, fake guns, etc.  and then we walked down a road, into a woodsy area, where the scene was set.  We walked past fake stands for concessions and games and were lead to two sets of bleachers.  Most of the people in the reenactment costumes were already on set.  They stood lined up on different sides, depending on which side of the battle they represented.

The visitors were instructed to sit in the bleachers.  We had full view of the scene in front of us with all the reenactors.  At the head, a small, ribboned off, mound of dirt stood.  I was still unsure of who from the cast would be involved with this scene.  My hopes perked up again at the hearing of a group of actors playing secret service.  I sat on the bleachers with a group of other extras and we chatted for a little.  It was still very early (not even 7 AM yet) and I had yet to eat or drink anything (and was slowly regretting that decisions).

Shortly after, the director showed up.  He talked to a group of others and that’s when I got my first glimpse: Michael Kelly, who plays Frank’s right hand man, Doug Stamper, dressed in jeans and a simple white t-shirt.  My heart started to beat faster.  Michael had me excited enough, as I’m a fan of everyone on the show, but my emotions were piqued as right behind him, in similar clothing but with a baseball cap walked in Mr. Kevin Spacey.  I tried to contain my emotions.  I felt lucky to be there.  I would be seeing Mr. Spacey’s impeccable acting as the ruthless Frank Underwood up close and in person.

Kevin and Michael were walked through the scene and then escorted to get ready in costume and make up.  In the mean time, they had a group of stand-ins for each key actor, who were blocked and walked through the scene as well.  We watched them set up the scene for about an hour.  Kevin, Michael, and the other actors came back all ready to go.  They looked like they had hopped right off the screen.

hoc1The scene unfolded as such: Frank was to give a speech to us about the ground breaking for the Overland Campaign Center (what the park had been transformed into) and then break earth for its inauguration.  During the speech Stamper receives a phone call and turns his back for a moment.  After Frank’s speech is over, he instructs us in the stands and the reenactors to bow our heads for a moment of silence.  He kneels and buries a ring in the ground.  As he stands and thanks us, we all clap.  At this time Stamper walks over to him and whispers something in his ear.  I believe the line is: “we got him.” or something to that effect.  Frank doesn’t bat an eye as he turns towards the crowd of reenactors and salutes them.  They salute him back and end scene.

They shot that scene for five hours.  Different takes, different angles.  Mr. Spacey seemed to be enamored by the two horses brought to set.  He would walk over to them between takes, petting them and feeding them grass.  It was very endearing to see him go from such a manipulative and stern character back to his animal loving self.  Michael Kelly was the real stand out to me in terms of personality.  He was constantly joking with Kevin and the other actors around him and hugged several crew members through out the day.  At one point when he exited for a break he stopped by us and gave us a thumbs up, asking if we were all doing well.  It was very sweet of him and he seemed to really enjoy everything and everyone.

As it was nearing lunch time and they were capturing their last angles of the scenes, we all started to become a little restless.  We had been sitting on the same, hard wooded bleachers for hours now.  Some extras would go up and get food and go to the bathroom and the crew was very caring and attentive, constantly bringing us water.  In the early morning they had brought over some Gatorade, which had sparked me awake.  At one point I went to explore with two other girls for the food. We came across a table but accidentally took food from the crew/SAG table but none of the crew standing around seemed upset about it (sorry!).

One of the last angles was an up close shot.  Frank’s lines were unimportant to the shot so Kevin would continuously repeat the first few words “Today we break ground (or earth, depending on the take he would switch up words).”  One of the last shots, he said “Today we break wind,” which got all of out spirits up as we all let out a roaring laugh.  It was nice that Mr. Spacey was trying to lighten the mood after being outside in the woods, surrounded by bugs and falling rain for five hours.

Around 12:45 we were escorted back to holding for lunch.  It was catered and everything (and good too!). The background actors ate the same food the crew/main cast did which was nice.  We weren’t treated as lowly extras.  We ate for about forty-five minutes before we were taken back to set.  This time the scene was different.  A small stage with a podium was set up and that’s when I witnessed my first real spoiler of the day: the podium had a “Vice President” seal on the front.  This was not shocking as the first season ended with Frank being offered the Vice President nomination, but to anyone who hadn’t watched the entire season yet, it was a shocker.

This time I sat on the opposite set of bleachers, which happened to be right beside the podium.  Kevin, Michael, and all the other actors were escorted back to set to begin setting up.  I was even closer to Mr. Spacey this time, a hands reach away, which was very exciting.  The whole scene was even more riveting to watch, as this was one of Frank’s cut away, direct camera monologues, which is a notable and unique aspect of House of Cards.

Frank gave a short speech, we clapped, and he walked off the podium, looking directly into the camera as he began his little blurb.  We did this scene for another several hours.  It was more exciting this time since there was a chance I would actually be on camera for this part.  Besides all of us once again becoming uncomfortable in our seats and starting to get a little impatient as the day went on, we all joked and kept our spirits up.  At one point in between scene set ups, one of the camera operators came over to chat with us.  I asked him which episode they were currently shooting and he couldn’t remember if it was five or six.  It was really nice of him when he came back later just to confirm that it was episode five.  This surprised me since they had only started filming in late May, I had only thought it would be episode two or three.

mehocThe last scene we did was one where Frank watched the reenactment in progress.  The podium was moved directly in front of us, a few feet away, and had Frank and several others now sitting by his side.  Our set of bleachers were instructed to react to the reenactment.  We did this a few times, the first one not animated enough, the second one too animated, and the third one was perfect.  I joked with the people around me that we would all be collectively nominated for an Emmy for our reaction shots.

After this scene, they wrapped up Mr. Spacey for the day.  We all gave him a round of applause and he waved at us in thanks.  He was very professional the entire time but was able to lighten up in between the seriousness of the scenes and seemed very much into his work, asking questions when he needed clarification and even giving suggestions to the director, which he gladly accepted.  It was amazing to see him in action.

We stayed around for about two hours longer.  They were setting up a shot to capture the reenactment but after a while they decided they didn’t need the background actors and after twelve and a half hours of sitting outside in the woods, we were wrapped.  The director and crew thanked us and we all were excited to finally stretch, walk, and sit on something that wasn’t a bleacher.

Overall the experience was exhausting but one I wouldn’t trade.  One that I would mostly likely say “yes” to again.

Summer Watch List

Remember those hot summer days when we had nothing to do for two (or more) months but relax, sit indoors in the air-conditioning (or outdoors, if that’s your thing), and spend countless hours doing nothing? Well, maybe that’s still true for the lucky few of you.  Me on the other hand, I like to pretend those are still my summers.  I like the spend my down time doing something people don’t really consider too crazy anymore: binge watch television shows.

This summer I’ve binged watched six shows so far, with a few more up on the docket.  Some shows I watched for the very first time and some shows I watched all the way through for my second (or third, shhh, don’t judge me) time.  All of these shows come high on my list of recommendations.  So, without further ado, I bring you:

Erin’s Summer Watch List 

The New Shows

orphanblackOrphan Black (BBC Aamerica): #CloneClub for life! Orphan Black is by far the number one show I’ve recommended to people over the past few months.  I’ve been trying to convert as many members to the “Clone Club” as possible.  In short, the show centers around a girl named Sarah who discovers that she is, you guessed it, a clone!  Sound kind of cheesy? It’s not. This BBC America sci-fi show boasts some of the best acting I’ve seen from one person (still pressed over Tatiana Maslany’s Emmy snub).  The supporting cast is just as talented and the show does an amazing job at making you believe that Maslany is actually seven+ clones.  The show has ended its ten episode freshman season and is poised to be back in 2014 for season two.

Hannibal (NBC): This show came to my attention after the members of ONTD fawned over the series throughout its first season run.  I was apprehensive at first since a second season for the show hung by a thread for a few months.  I didn’t want to get completely enamored by the show if it wasn’t going to continue on.  The series is fashioned from the infamous Hannibal hannibalLecter character and books, focusing on protagonist Will Graham.  Graham, a criminal profiler with a “gift” to emotionally understand serial killers, befriends psychiatrist Lecter after they are brought in to work together on a case.  The relationship becomes tumultuous as Lecter begins manipulating Graham and taking advantage of his special skills.  The show is equal parts creepy and thought provoking.  For NBC, the series could also be considered pretty gory, not taking away from the horror that is Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Mads Mikkelsen (Lecter) and Hugh Dancy (Graham) lead a talented bunch of convincing actors.

Orange is the New Black (Netflix): During the writing of this blog I decided to give OITNB a shot after hearing rave reviews from everyone who had watched.  My one episode trial turned into a full oitnbseason binge watch. The show is based off of the real life accounts of Piper, a white, affluent, woman who gets sentenced to a fifteen month prison stay after her past catches up with her.  Piper, though, can be considered the “Trojan horse” of the show as the assemble of diverse women are just as largely focused on throughout the thirteen episode first season.  Each character becomes relatable through flashbacks.  Every woman does an excellent job of bringing just the right amount of pain and sympathy to their characters.  In the end, it’s hard not to root for almost all of them.

New-ish Shows

New Girl (FOX): If you asked me to watch a random episode of a show when its right smack dab in the middle of its season I would probably laugh at you.  Not because I don’t trust your judgment on shows, but because I like to start fresh from the beginning so I’m not left newgirlasking a million questions.  Fortunately in this case I have some pushy friends who insisted I would love New Girl.  They were right.  After watching a random episode in the middle of the second season, I fell in love with the sophomore show.  I continued to watch all the way to the season finale of the second season and then went back to the beginning and marathoned the whole series to date.  The show is charming, funny, and ridiculous.  Quirky Jess moves into an apartment with three very different guys who are all best friends.  What ensues is your typical Zooey Deschanel comedy, but the show has a lot of heart.  The relationship between Jess and her roommate Nick (Jake Johnson) is really what sealed the deal for me.  The FOX comedy is an easy watch that will suck you in.

Re-watches

hocHouse of Cards (Netflix): This re-watch came only a few months after I first watched the Netflix hit’s first season.  I had the lucky opportunity to be an extra on the show (filmed in and around my home city) and experience the amazing production of the political thriller.  Kevin Spacey (now nominated for an Emmy for his role) plays House Majority Whip Frank Underwood.  What ensues throughout the show is a whirlwind of dark manipulation through Washington D.C. and its politics.  Spacey takes the lead with an outstanding supporting cast that will have you crying buckets by seasons end.  The second season will be available next year on Netflix and is sure to bring even more craziness than the first season.  (side note: You can also catch me as “sweaty background extra #48” in season 2, episode 5 next year!)

Being Human US (Syfy): I think I’ve spoken about this show ad nauseam by now, which is funny since only several months ago in an earlier blog I referred to the SyFy series as “okay.”  The re-watch of the current three seasons also came on a whim.  I was testing the bhcast2Netflix app out on my iPad and thirty-nine episodes later…well, here I am. The show takes the premise of the beloved UK series and follows the turmoils of a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost as they try to make their lives human-ish as roommates.  The first season of the US remake takes a handful of storylines from the UK’s first season while adding their own twists to it all to accommodate their thirteen episode seasons.  The show veers in its own direction by season two and season three does an amazing job with their ability to make all characters, main and supporting, compassionate.  It’s also fun to note that the cast regularly interacts with fans through social media, conventions, etc. and is one of the most genuine and hilarious casts of a show I’ve witnessed.

Erin Reacts to the Emmy Nominations

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If you can’t decipher what I just wrote then it must only mean one thing: Emmy nominations have been released!

On July 18th at 5:40 AM (8:40 AM here) outstanding (or what the committee deems outstanding) shows and actors were given recognition for their dedicated and hard work in television.  Some nominations were awesome (what up, Jonathan Banks!) but once again the Emmy’s failed to recognize some of the most outstanding newcomers (Clone Club, unite!) and veterans.  So, let’s get to it:

2013 Emmy Snubs:

orphanblack*Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black): This was by far the biggest snub (in my opinion and many critics’ as well).  Tatiana’s breakout performance as not one but SEVEN DIFFERENT characters on BBC America’s Orphan Black should have been enough to garner an Emmy nom.  Unfortunately, the committee has always been known to snub sci-fi themed shows.  It’s a shame because sci-fi and supernatural shows have come into their own, able to hold their own ground in today’s TV world.  Tatiana is a force to be reckoned with as Sarah, Cosima, Alison and various other clones.  Hopefully her day will come as Orphan Black only just recently ended its freshman run.

*Corey Stoll and Kata Mara (House of Cards): Although I’m jumping up and down for joy right now over House of Cards‘ multiple nominations, I can’t help be bet a little sad over the supporting actor/actress nominations.  Corey Stoll’s epic performance as congressman Peter Russo came to a heartbreaking, blood boiling end during House of Cards‘ last few episodes.  This was Corey’s only chance to be nominated for his achievements on the show and I can’t help but want to throw a shoe at my television because his name missed the nominations.  On the other hand, Kata Mara will get another chance next year but her portrayal of Zoe Barnes on the shows first season run should have been enough to lock down that nomination.

jcarp*Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter): Come on, Emmy voters! What were you thinking? This year Dexter didn’t make the cut, no nomination for Outstanding Drama and no recognition for leading man Michael C. Hall…and I’m okay with that.  The show has been in a decline since season four and I can somewhat understand the snub.  But, supporting actress Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Dexter’s sister Deb, really shined last year as her character discovered and came to terms with finding out that her brother was a serial killer.  Maybe next year? *crosses fingers* As the show has reached its last season, Jennifer has one more chance to score a nom.

*Arrested Development: The fourth season of the reboot had its ups and downs.  In terms of overall Outstanding Comedy Series, I could let that go.  Jason Bateman received a Outstanding Lead Actor nom. and I’m happy about that.  I am a little heartbroken though over the snubs of Will Arnett (Gob), Jessica Walter (Lucille), and Jeffrey Tambor (George Sr./Oscar).  Each actor is talented enough to earn their own separate nomination.  I would have also included Tony Hale (Buster) to my list but he was nominated for the role he plays on Veep (a show I haven’t had the pleasure to watch yet but am happy nonetheless as Tony is a phenomenal comedy actor).

parksandrec*Parks and Recreation: Once again, my spirits are crushed as Parks and Rec missed out on an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination.  Amy Poehler was rightfully nominated for Best Actress but supporting actors like Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson), Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt), and Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer) deserve to be on that list just as much.

*The Walking Dead: Two years ago I would have laughed at the idea of TWD being nominated for anything, but these past two seasons have really said otherwise.  The show as a whole has become a lot stronger in terms of acting, drama, and pace.  Andrew Lincoln holds his own as Rick Grimes.  His portrayal of a survivor who lost his wife, countless new loved ones he has met on his journey, and his slow descent into insanity made for excellent television.  Again, the committee seems to forget about the sci-fi/supernatural shows so it’s no surprise a show like TWD was forgotten.

shameless*Shameless and Emmy Rossum: WHAT. THE. HELL.  It continues to boggle my mind every year where Showtime’s Shameless is once again forgotten about.  It’s on one of their favorite networks and plenty of other shows and actors from Showtime made the cut this year.  But not Shameless.  The show is beyond excellent.  Emmy Rossum’s portrayal of Fiona Gallagher is fantastic.  Her ability to bring Fiona’s inherent sadness and struggle to the screen should have garnered her a nomination in the lead actress category.  Along with Emmy, any of the supporting cast could have easily have scored a nom, especially William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, Fiona’s alcohol riddled and neglectful father.

newgirl*New Girl: I recently fell in love with Fox’s New Girl.  The show is funny and light hearted, making it an all around great show to watch and one that the voters should love as well.  Actors Jake Johnson (Nick Miller) and Max Greenfield (Schmidt) bring their own form of humor to the show as two very different roommates.  Johnson’s lazy but charming Nick gives the show heart and Greenfield’s over the top and ridiculous Schmidt is what sets the show apart from its competitors.  Either one of these outstanding men are strong enough to compete with the others.

Other snubs: Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal on Hannibal), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark on Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones), Danny DeVito (Frank Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Jason Gann (Wilfred on Wilfred)

It can’t all be bad news though, right!? Thankfully there were several nominations that made me weep with joy:

hoc1*House of Cards/Kevin Spacey/Robin Wright: House of Cards‘ first season run on Netflix was some of the best hours of television I have experienced yet.  Spacey’s portrayal of ruthless Frank Underwood sets a high bar for others in his category.  Wright’s portrayal of Frank’s equally as manipulative wife Claire is bone chilling. The show has a great chance of taking home some awards as last seasons sweep of Homeland proved that a freshman show can hold its own in the fierce competition.

bb*Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad): YAY YAY YAY.  Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut left the show in a heartbreaking showdown between him and lead man Walter (Bryan Cranston).  Banks really pulled out all the stops in his last few episodes, showcasing a bad guy who you just couldn’t help but want to hug (best grandpa ever!)  I’m super excited Banks’ name made the list this year, right next to his co-star Aaron Paul.  It’s going to be a tough race but Banks has the chops to take home the award.

*Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story): I’ve been saying these two deserved nominations since the shows second season came to a close.  Paulson and Quinto shine in the up and down, crazy show that is American Horror Story. Quinto (Dr. Oliver Thredson/Bloody Face) has the innate ability to play evil and psychotic characters, evident in AHS as he portrayed a mass murdering psychiatrist who skins women alive because of his mommy issues.  Paulson (Lana Winters) gives a great performance of a reporter who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time as she struggles with breaking free from Briarcliff Insane Asylum after being wrongfully committed.  The miniseries category hasn’t always been my favorite but this year I will be keeping my eye out for these two.

Episode 105*Mandy Patinkin (Homeland): I’m still racking my brain on how it’s taken until the second season of Showtime’s Homeland to recognize Patinkin (Saul Berenson).  Saul may be the best character on the show and Patinkin is strong enough that he may just pull out a win this year.  He deserves it.

*Jane Krakowski (30 Rock):  Finally! Janes portrayal of over the top and ridiculous actress Jenna Maroney has been a show stopper since the shows first season.  Unfortunately, it took up until the shows final season for the voters to see that.

Also happy for: Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates on Bates Motel), everything Breaking Bad, everything Homeland, Joan Cusack (Sheila Jackson on Shameless), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live).

For a complete list of Emmy nominations click here.

House of Cards: A Stacked Deck

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Congratulations, Netflix.  You hit the mark.

For years I was skeptical of you; you offered a great service, just one I was never jumping to use.  The streaming can be shoddy, you don’t offer the latest or even the greatest in movie/TV releases, and I didn’t feel like I could utilize you to the fullest.  Then you took on one of the most ambitious projects I’ve seen you do: you produced a television series.  A great, amazing, compelling series.

I had put off watching House of Cards when it first premiered for the streaming website.  Instead of releasing one episode per week, Netflix released all thirteen episodes of the political thriller (based off a British miniseries of the same name) at once.  I knew as soon as I watched the first episode I wouldn’t be able to stop.  I wasn’t wrong.  I finished the entire first season within forty-eight hours, without even blinking an eye.

The Kevin Spacey led program follows U.S. Representative and House Majority Whip, Frank Underwood (Spacey), as he manipulates and schemes his way through D.C. politics.  After being ousted for the position of Secretary of State by the President, Frank makes it his mission to take on the government and assert his power in any way (and I do mean ANY way) necessary.

Spacey’s hardcore, intriguing portrayal of Frank is unstoppable.  Frank’s equally manipulative wife, Claire (Robin Wright), is a force.  The duo make you terrified to even step foot into the world of politics.  With equally amazing performances by (just to name a talented few) characters: Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a journalist eager to make her way to the top, thirsty for any juicy scoop; Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), a U.S. Representative from Philly hanging on by a thread in the cat and mouse political game while battling a drug and alcohol addiction; and Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly), Peter’s girlfriend/secretary, desperately trying to help Peter to succeed in Washington, the show takes off running from the start and leaves your jaw getting closer to the floor episode after episode.  By the end your left questioning your own morals all the while clawing for more episodes.

Netflix, you won me over.  In a world where we sit on the edge of our seats waiting week to week for new episodes of our favorite shows to air, House of Cards stands out brightly.  Instead of anxiously awaiting a new installment, viewers and can watch from beginning to end, no impatience necessary.  Cards holds its own from start to finish, keeping the viewer glued to their screen.