Peter Capaldi to Play Doctor Who

I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll be playing the Doctor and what he’ll be bringing to the character.

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Orange is the New Black: Piper Goes to Prison in “I Wasn’t Ready”

I’m late but I’m jumping on the Orange is the New Black recap bandwagon, one episode at a time. I’m starting with the pilot and I really forced myself not to just keep watching and writing after the fact. So, here it goes.

Piper is sentenced to a year in prison (not jail) for a year and has to leave her fiancé and life behind. What for, you may ask. Well, apparently for something she did once ten years ago.

The opening scene before the initial introduction of Piper shows her in the prison showers while being teased by one of her fellow inmates about her creatively made flip-flops. From that point on, we get thrown between some moments from her past and present day as she enters.

We get to see how she ended up getting sentenced to prison. It all started with a girlfriend she had when she got out of college who happened to be involved in a series of international drug deals, which was funnily described. We get more insight into their relationship as well as Piper’s other relationships with friends and family and Larry, the fiancée, through these flashbacks that, at first were somewhat disorienting but then start to seamlessly fit into the narrative of the episode.

Flash back to present day and we get to meet some of Piper’s fellow inmates and they are quite an interesting group of ladies. This group of women includes a yoga-loving inmate, an intimidating red-headed Russian cook and a protesting nun. And, while at first the people all seem really nice, save for the sleazy security guard, Piper puts her foot in her mouth when she  insults “Red” the Russian prison cook, who honestly looks a little imposing (and that is an understatement).

This offense results in a bloody tampon sandwich and a rude awakening for Piper. After being laughed out of the cafeteria Piper runs outside, which had me questioning if she was able to do that, as I am always bogged down by the minor details. But, that minor detail becomes forgotten because we come face to face with a woman we had only seen in flashbacks until this point, Piper’s ex-girlfriend that put her there in the first place.

It would be interesting to learn more about the inmates and see the dynamic between them all, especially the dynamic between Piper and Red. Jason Biggs who plays the adorable fiancé, Larry, who seems to be taking the whole prison thing in stride and I’m wondering in which direction will they be taking Larry in. I have my own predictions but, we’ll see.

There were many good lines but, one of my favorites had to be early on in the episode as Piper and Larry wait for her to self-surrender and she says “Oh my God. By the time I get out, there’ll be like 20 generations of iPhones.” I loved that was one of her thoughts as she was about to submit herself to a one year prison sentence.

One down, twelve more to go and I’m trying so hard to watch one episode at a time. But, when you have all these episodes in front of you, it’s so hard to stop especially with a show like this.

The Bridge: The Bridge Butcher Takes it to Another Level In “Maria of the Desert”

The search is on for Maria, Charlotte makes a deal, and we see more to Sonya in this week’s episode of The Bridge.

In a race against time to find Maria, Sonya and Marco try to find Daniel who was the one that has been communicating with the serial killer, for any new information he may have as they find him completely wasted at a woman’s house.

There’s some friction between the detective pair and the FBI that have joined the task force, with differing points of view on how they’re going about solving this crime and finding this girl. Daniel is brought into it again and starts to see the killer’s point of view not before of course; the serial killer contacts him for a drop point.

Charlotte has to deal with the aftermath of her refusal of keeping the tunnel open, which resulted in a gruesome visual of a horse being hanged upside down. We learn how Charlotte became the second wife, through her continually rough interactions between her and her step daughter. The step daughter also throws the gauntlet when she tells her that Tina found Marco’s wallet in the guest bedroom.

Steven continues being creepifying as we see yet another body in his car, this time in the back seat. Continuing down the ever confusing plot line, he brings the body to what one can only assume is a religious ranch. He tells ranch owner, Bob that the woman has come to change her life. Turns out he’s actually trying to help her hide from her pimp, Hector. What’s great about that scene, was while I had thought it would have been a slight possibility that he was going to help her, it seemed more and more likely that he was giving her over to some bigger evil.

Meanwhile in Mexico, we see a glimpse of two men speaking about how many loads they have missed and how much business they’re losing. They eventually ask the help of the woman who is insisting Charlotte keep her tunnel open. My guess is that they lost their “loads” to the serial killer.

Marco finds himself in some shady business when the man who approached the woman about the tunnel comes to him and offers him the ransom the killer asked for. The conversation ending in a very ominous “I know where to find you, Marco Ruiz.”

As they’re preparing for the drop off, Sonya cracks the location of Maria wide open saving her, all because of a simple shadow. Her obsession to find this woman and her need to avoid all else actually endeared her a bit to me as we see a bit more of her emotional side, which we got especially from her conversation with the sheriff.

And, in a turn of events that many could have seen coming, the serial killer has Gedman drop his ear piece and cut communications with the team as they start trying to look for him, Frye’s phone strikes again as he finds some appalling thing in the dumpster. My idea, nothing good could come from it, assuming it’s someone’s body; while Marco gets attacked by what we assume is the serial killer.

What the killer leaves at his side as he knocks out, is the suitcase of money and a video of Gedman and a woman, ending the episode.

Is anyone bothered by the Charlotte storyline from the home? I just can’t seem to bring myself to care about her step daughter, or want to look further into her story. The one compelling point is that the tunnel just happens to be on her property that she inherited from her husband. I know we’re only four episodes in and a lot can happen in a few episodes.

The Bridge: It Gets Dark and Twisty in “Rio”

With no sense of enlightenment in sight, things get twisty, and chock full of dark and creepy, in this week’s episode of The Bridge.

Karl’s funeral opens the episode which went along normally enough, until a mysterious woman who we later in the scene find out is the woman Charlotte spoke with during the pilot.  They go toe-to-toe and find that she is also the client the lawyer referred to in last week’s episode.

Steven, or the strange man that took that woman from the club, is at the trailer again. While the mysterious man, that picked up the woman that got away who we learn is named Maria, is driving off and we still have no shot of any discernible features to find out who he actually is.

Charlotte’s predictably rocky relationship with Karl’s daughter is showcased in part at the wake along with some strange interactions with some of the guests that were co-chairs for a charitable organization. The scene felt strange to watch and almost disconnected with everything else that happened in the episode, like it sort of came from a different kind of show. For most of this episode, I was still unsure of how she would fit into the broader narrative but, most definitely figured it out towards the end, not just tied by her husband’s name and fortune, but some other rather predictable late night events.

Marco and Sonya end up actually finding Steven’s trailer and the ominous trash can. But, they only seemed to have found women’s clothing. Which begs the question, does this mean he helps the killer with disposal or was he seriously only trying to help this woman out?

They bring him in for interrogation and possibly shed some light on what his character is actually up to, especially when he’s saying things like “I’m just a people person who helps people.”

Sonya doesn’t stop being annoyingly stringent with the rules and extremely lacking in compassion, which is why it is still difficult for me to completely like her. Then again, maybe that’s the point of her character, no matter that she’s the lead. Either way, at three episodes in, it’s hard to see where a character like that is going.

Daniel and Adriana venture to Juarez to try and get more information about Maria and who she was while he gets a phone call the killer asking for money, a million from four different wealthy Texans including the late Mr. Millwright. And, there’s our connection to Charlotte.

While there, Daniel gets a taste of the dark side of Juarez as he witnesses a man getting shot point blank in the head, which was shocking and done so matter-of-factly that it was more jarring than I thought.

Marco pays Charlotte a visit and in a predictable turn, the late night visit turns into a late night booty call. I wouldn’t have been so bothered by it if it didn’t feel so unexpected; no hint, nothing. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Daniel and Adriana have a late night heart to heart about what helped her get out of the place where she grew up.

Paul, Sonya’s awkward one night stand from last week, makes an appearance at the station in a hilarious and awkward moment in an attempt to get Sonya to go out to dinner with him, and gets rebuffed.

In between shots of light and somewhat humorous we definitely saw the darkness behind this strange murderer especially in the final scene where they find Maria, in a way as the killer streams from her location live from the middle of nowhere in the desert.

At the end of it all, I really want to know what’s up with Steven and if he is at all connected to this killer, what’s going on with that woman that Charlotte approached after the wake, and is she connected by any chance to the horrifying hanging horse she sees in the darkness of the barn?

Guesses, anyone?

A Murderer with a Point to Prove in ‘The Bridge’

From the minute the show opens, my interest is piqued. With a series of strange occurrences at the US/Mexico border, including a power outage and cameras being cut, which we attribute to the man in the car, he drops a body and then drives off. And, then the story takes off running.

That’s where we meet two very different detectives from different sides, literally. Sonia Cross, a tightly wound and socially inept El Paso detective comes to the scene where she meets Chihuahua state police Marco Ruiz and instantly butts heads over who the body belongs to. We later find out that the body, for the most part, belongs to a Texan judge.  We get to see how Cross is at crime scenes, rigid and somewhat tactless not even letting a woman pass with her husband who is having a heart attack.

We then get a glimpse into what we can assume at this point is the killer and his very creepy way of waiting for women in dark alleys, pushing them into his trunk, passing through the border without a problem frustratingly enough, and leaving them stranded in a padlocked trailer in the middle of nowhere.

We also see Ruiz on the other side of the border in Mexico with his family and dealing with the cartels and trying to keep his son away from it all. It’ll be interesting to see if we go any further into his side of the story and spend more time on that side of the bridge.

Sonia Cross instantly reminded me of a mix of the social ineptness of Brennan from Bones and the obsessive mind of Carrie from Homeland. And, for the most part I eventually came to like at least one of those characters so we’ll see how this goes, and if it’s attributed some way to her sister’s death or some other traumatic incident.

The stories are somewhat seamlessly intertwined because of the connection to the initial incident but, after Carl’s death, we kind of lose touch with where Charlotte’s story goes in connection with everyone else’s. Although, I really want to know what her husband was hiding in that basement and I assume that’s where I’ll get my answer because, there is no way anything good can be behind that really sinister door.

By the end of the 90 minute premiere, we meet one of the first suspects according to Cross and El Paso Police, a jerky reporter named Daniel Frye, who finds himself trapped in his car with a bomb and a countdown timer. And in a heart stopping moment, the timer stops at 00:00 and the car unlocks. A phone is found attached and in that message, you learn the murderer is after more than just killing random people. This guy’s motive is some sort of social justice, which is interesting and different from my usual crime drama fare.

I really liked how it was shot and perfectly mirrored the dark and gritty tone of the pilot and I assume the rest of the series. While it set a lot of the story for the series, I still had a few questions and made me look forward to next week.

If Dan Harmon Can Do it, So Can You: Women in Genre TV Writers Rooms

While it may be true that there are a lot more women getting writing jobs in television these days and even becoming showrunners, like Once Upon Time’s  Jane Espenson and New Girl’s  Liz Meriwether, there still remains the issue of why aren’t there more women on staff. I’m not saying you have to hire women to reach a society imposed quota, which would be equally awful but there are plenty of female writers out there who have the same amount of talent that the men getting the jobs have. The question is, why aren’t they getting it?

There have always been issues with women in positions that were originally occupied by men. However, lately the issue has been brought to light with the successes of women in Hollywood  like Kathryn Bigelow ( “The Hurt Locker”, “Zero Dark Thirty”), Tina Fey (“30 Rock”, “Saturday Night Live”) and Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”). This has led many people to question “where are the women writers?” This was a question I’ve had for a long time, especially in the comedy and science fiction spectrum of television. As a fan of both genres, it seems ridiculous that it has taken so long for women to start getting recognized in that realm. It was only until recently that there was a woman in the showrunner position, former Buffy and Dollhouse staff writer, Jane Espenson heading up fantasy based drama, Once Upon A Time.

But, with these giant steps advancing the visibility of women in writing, also comes the sad reality that there is a stunning lack of female writers in genre writing rooms like on the long running British sci-fi program, Doctor Who. According to an article in the Guardian written by Mathilda Gregory shortly before the premiere of the second part of its seventh season, “Doctor Who hasn’t aired an episode written by a woman since 2008, 60 episodes ago.”

The realization made more startling when grouped with the fact that this was when a new showrunner, Steven Moffat, stepped in for Russell T. Davies and as the article highlights “in all the time since the show was rebooted in 2005 only one, Helen Raynor, has ever written for the show.”

A surprising and sad idea, considering the strides to break barriers especially in science fiction, sending the wrong signal to female sci-fi fans that are aspiring show scribes. Not only does it serve as a deterrent to aspiring writers, but also a disservice to the female characters in the mythology. While there have been amazingly strong female companions on the show like Martha Jones and Donna Noble in the Russell T. Davies era, io9 co-editor Charlie Jane Anders brought up the point of the lack of strength in the Moffat era female characters like beloved companion, Amy Pond.

“So in Moffat’s own view, the Doctor is an archetypically male character — but the show rests on an ever-changing series of female characters, who actually carry the bulk of the emotion and character development. You can see why it might be advantageous to have some female writers in the mix, right?” Anders brings up the point of importance each female companion plays in every incarnation of Doctor Who and the answer to her question is yes, absolutely yes. I also agree that this is not negating the idea that men can’t write women well, but it certainly can help with adding that strength we have been so used to seeing in previous seasons.

But, sitcom writers’ rooms are also facing a similar fate and bringing up the question in a much more pronounced way because of the infamous view of comedy as a “boys club.” In perhaps one of the most noted cases in the media, Dan Harmon creator and former showrunner of NBC comedy Community, was challenged by a former female NBC executive to create a gender balanced writers room at the start of the series.

What happened proved to be an enlightening experience for Harmon as quoted in a Vulture article from 2011. According to him, He had a preconceived notion of what the process of  hiring women writers was like. He found he was wrong and went on to describe his experience hiring these talented writers, “So you dig a little extra-hard, and you end up with a staff that took a few extra meetings and a few extra shitty scripts to read. Now you have a staff that is just as good as the staff you would have had, but happens to be half women… And the male writers across the board, from top to bottom, in their most private moments drinking with me, when they’re fully licensed to be as misogynist, reactive, old-boy-network as they want, all they can say is, ‘This turned out to be a great thing.’”

He goes on to describe the experience of the women in the room, “They do more dick jokes than anybody, because they’ve had to survive, they have to prove, coming in the door, that they’re not dainty. That’s not fair, but women writers, they acquire the muscle of going blue fast because they have to counter the stigma… I think women are different, and I think having them in the room is crucial to a family comedy, ensemble comedy, television comedy, where half the eyeballs on your show are women.” Unfortunately it took Harmon an executive prescribed challenge to let him see this, which is a shame.

What’s hopeful about the situation is that it’s not only women doing the asking but, the men as well. With showrunners like Joss Whedon leading the way with his ongoing defense of the female characters he writes as well as having the female writers on his staff write most of the episodes. Although that’s not to say there was a large amount of women on staff, with the exception of his staff on short lived sci-fi action series Dollhouse.

Even though, according to a Grindstone article by Meredith Lepore states there are more women creating shows, she brings in this statistic “women make up 26% of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography, which is up one point from the previous year and five points from the 1997-98 season. But 68% of all shows don’t even have a female writer on staff.”

What it boils down to is that it’s not a matter of fear by women wanting to get into writing or a shortage, we certainly see proof of talent in writers in the sci-fi and comedy realm like Megan Ganz, Jane Espenson and Liz Meriwether. It’s a matter of both networks and the showrunners in charge of these shows, not willing to take a second look at these talented candidates regardless of gender.  It would be amazing if one day, we wouldn’t have to impose rules to employ women in these specific genre writers rooms, like NBC did to Dan Harmon or BBC hasn’t tried to do with Steven Moffat and Doctor Who.