Category Archives: Overview


**********************SPOILERS ALL AROUND*************************

Note: During this unprecedented global quarantine I find myself unemployed and at leisure to binge any show at leisure.  It’s an arduous and demanding task but I have no choice but to humbly bear it.  I’ve been drawn to period pieces more than others, perhaps to escape from this modern mess and look to another time where life was uncertain and full of cruelty but with love redeeming the darkness.  The Black Plague episode resonated especially now, showing us we are connected in so many ways even when separated by centuries and technology.

The making of this show, I believe was due the creation of two women who wanted a story about a girl who grows up in court with all its pressures and intrigues.  I was never interested in watching when it aired, assuming that the CW did not know how to present European historical content.  Happily I was dead wrong.  It was a given the CW would parade a bunch of foxy supermodels with their teen dramas but I was impressed at their handling court society of power moves, illegitimate children, and the tensions of the Protestant and Catholic churches.  Not to mention the gorgeous landscapes of Ireland where they shot the castle scenes and grand interiors where death and intrigue happened at all hours of the day.  I think they shot a lot during the winter, poor actors must have been freezing their bits off in the snow!  And the sumptuous costumes, I die with happiness seeing the cloaks, long coats and boots of the men and the richly patterned fabrics of the women, even if grossly inaccurate.  Typically, like all royal media, their accents are nearly all English so I usually forget this is set in France until they say it explicitly or mention a region (I wonder why they do this for Greek or Russian dramas?!  for expediency??).  There are accents of visiting Scotsmen, Hungarian, and Spain, but I can’t remember a time I heard a French one.  But overall this show is too much fun (and educational!), if not completely accurate.

Mary Stuart
An innocent idealist who was betrothed and crowned as queen at the age of six.  The show lead should be educated and authoritative even if she seems harsh to others.  However she had a softness and was very likable throughout even though her choices were destructive at times.  She realizes she is changing into someone she didn’t want to be but there are paths life takes her down she didn’t anticipate all due to her station.  And not once but twice found herself in a triangle between a fair haired softy and a dark broody relative.  Where have I seen this before?  Mary had many unique claims and also went through a good amount of husbands.  She is a tragic figure but one that I can easily respect.

Francis Valois 
The golden haired blue eyed dreamboat, I mean, the dauphin and eventually his majesty King of France is one who puts his beloved country before his own desires.  That being said, his weakness was his love for his wife Mary who he would do anything for which caused some twists and heartbreak.  He was constantly screwed having to serve the nation’s needs, defend against England, and deal with the powerful nobles conspiring against him when things don’t go their way.  His hard choices were fascinating because he had a conscience but would still order torture and death for the greater good.  I can’t imagine the burden of privilege and power but to have a teenager control the fate of a country is incomprehensible.

The rugged bastard half brother of Francis with a tender heart for the people (wholly fictional addition).  He is desperate to prove himself at court while hiding his pagan background in an intolerant climate.  He becomes a competent king’s deputy, whom I call Detective Bash, solving local mysteries while battling injustice and superstition.  It was genius to have him paired with an opposite like Kenna and realistic how their love grew and fizzled in the permanence of marriage which was unbreakable at the time.  I liked his dynamic with Francis after they reconciled their relationship as brothers.  I swoon anytime I see his eyes and hear his voice; pity his character’s fate is ambiguous.


Catherine de Medici 
An Italian woman from a powerful family that put her into a foreign position of power.  Through the years her heart was hardened by the dirty nature of court and became a professional at scheming herself.  She is most definitely a survivor commanding respect and fear in the world typically run by men.  Blended with her severe manipulating is a fierce heart that exists to love and protect her children to continue the family legacy (see: tiger mom).  Later on in the show everyone recognizes her tendency to “eliminate” problems so it becomes humorous they assume she’s the one who poisoned this or that person.  She is either your aggressively loyal friend or your most dangerous enemy.  She is the gem of the show, outshining the leads, her husband, and Queen Elizabeth combined.

Women’s Helplessness
In order to survive in 16th century, she is only as good as her man.  We get to glimpse inequality and maneuvering required to secure a husband whether he be an old unattractive bully.  As a royal, things should be better, n’est pas?  Well, if you being seen as only a breeding vessel for future male heirs and constantly underestimated then the cage is a gilded one.  The show did not shy away from the trauma of rape and horrors of abuse.  It was an oppressive time but sorry to say we still face the same issues now.

Highness Moments
Catherine being extra bringing in luxuries to her prison in the tower then organizing her execution with a gilded coffin and a dozen miniature ships.
Feathers and flower petals showing down at various events.
Catherine eating capons like a starving peasant, then later crunching sugar from a croquembuche.
Sorry, Leith. (apply throughout the series)
Bash kneeling before the new King Francis and their hugging in grief
Running joke of Aloysius and his love of pepper
Catherine succumbing to various medical procedures: steaming in a barrel, birds pecking at her feet, ugh
Any scene featuring a giant dog!
Narcisse going through hell and highwater to rescue Lola in priest costume.
Mary surrounding the French troops with her mercenaries, saving the court like the warrior queen she is
Francis giving Mary a night of “fireflies” after her miscarriage.
Catherine spurring Mary toward Francis, basically any time she and Mary are allies is killer
Mary’s bonnie first date with Lord Darnley playing golf, hail lassie!
Mary shipwrecked on Scottish shores, an outlander (teehee)
Francis’ handmade sword for Mary as she leaves for Scotland
Leith doing his country dance and spinning Claude around
Francis patient sleeping on a couch while Mary recovers
Proper Mary holding a whip over Prince Don Carlos and trying to sound dominant
Catherine being tender with Francis or any of her other children
Francis and Mary sailing, so sweet and peaceful
Claude beating down her new husband after he slaps her – take back the night, girl!
Mary and Francis dancing while he is ill, oh that hurt all over
Francis spending his last hours with Mary (could not stop crying)
Catherine and Henry working together to cover up a murder, comic gold!
Bash forced to watch his love consummate with his half brother, wtf?
Catherine feeding Lord Narcisse his beloved horse due to jealousy with Lola
Francis leading the charge against Conde’s army, hotness!
Mary and Greer enjoying French fashion comparing dresses in Scotland
Narcisse’s attempt to save Lola at the end
Francis’ brotherly guidance with Charles, awwww
All the details like butter sculpture, court games/parties, consummation ritual, etc.

Courtly Quotes
And does your friend have a name? Tits?  A vagina?
I’m a woman.  I won’t accept what that means.  I won’t bow to a lover.
What a miracle.
Here’s a simple rule for success.  If it pleases the king, don’t stop.
You are a glorious kisser!
You put a knife in me and I still want you.  Is this madness?
Ruling requires that your hands be drenched in blood.
I can feel myself growing harder.
I love you.  And I thank God for the time we had.
The longer I am made to wait, the more creative I will be in my retribution!
I am a fascinating man.
I may not be able to get you out of a nunnery.  But when the time is right I can make you a widow.
A man rules his wife even if his wife is a queen.  I will not be laid low by any man.  I will not be ruled by anyone.
I had sex in a greenhouse once.
I am more than a marker to hold an alliance.  or a breeder for the next generation.  Or the next. I am my own person, a woman grown.  And tonight I realize that I’m utterly and completely alone.
On behalf of France, I’d like to apologize for the plague, famine, and religious violence.
But I stuffed it myself…
I cannot eat or sleep.  Even my favorite earrings failed to cheer me.
Greer is having a pirate baby?
This marriage has been a challenge like no other.  I feel like I was a child before I knew you.  I was able to judge you for the things you did because I never understood the things of this world.
Haven’t you heard? I’ve been titled Master of Horse and Hunt.  So…gather your horses and go out and hunt!
The finest Venetian glass and what do the English put in it.  Riesling.  I would kill for a good French red right now.
The world can be dark, Mary.  And uncertain, and cruel.  The only thing that really matters is that we face it together.
Because you value power above all else you will always be alone.
Denmark is the best!


Long may she reign.


Farewell, The Vampire Diaries

As much as the series was about monsters and mayhem and love triangles, as much as Elena was important to the show, at its heart it was always a story about two brothers who were tragically, permanently tied to each other via a series of both horrible and wonderful events.
– Carrie Raisler, AV Club


****spoilers all around!!!!****

This is a show that delivers and blows away expectations constantly throughout its 8 seasons.   Quite a departure from the original novel series, which had its issues from murky to bland to straight up random fantasy realms, TVD made its own intense world and we are privileged to be a part of it.

It’s not only the exceptional show that gets to me.  I’ve relished the brilliant recaps of Price Peterson and the wry comments from the fans through all the outstanding ups and abysmal downs (season 4 and 7 big time).  All this made me glad I’m alive; although a part of me died during every summer hiatus for years until my attentions were engaged as a Sheerio.


Foolish and judgmental.  She would be such a pill if she weren’t such a foxy doppelganger.  You could make a drinking game out of all the times people die because of her idiotic decisions.  Which man would you choose, the one who lets you make your own decisions risking your life or the one who will protect you no matter what?  Both.  It’s okay to choose both.


(Mr Passive with the hero hair)
The broody, noble Angel type to Damon’s snarky and immoral Spike.  He is called a “pure” soul?! What a load.  He is usually a gentleman who respects the wishes of others and can say the right words to work out issues. He can be a bore but there are times he can be cool and violent when someone he loves is in danger.


(Dashing, gorgeous, irresistible)
I don’t normally do bad guys but hot damn, this is the reason I started watching this show.  Like Tony Stark or Domyoji he is one rich hot jerk who changed for the one they love. He can be amazingly sweet and loyal to those he cares about.  He was most intriguing in the first few seasons when he was an unpredictable threat, therefore the wild card in getting things done.  His reckless temper would get him into bad situations when outnumbered or facing a more powerful being.  He always mocks everyone and gives hilarious nicknames.  When he turns on the charm it is nearly impossible to resist.


Compelling Features to Love:

  • Captivating soundtrack
  • Witty one liners
  • Glorious action (stabbing, throttling, shooting guns/ crossbows, etc.)
  • Horror themes
  • Magical artifacts
  • Fast burn plot with twists and turns and loads of murder schemes
  • Lots of fan awareness and appreciation
  • Epic bromances & romances
  • Mythology
  • All the gorgeous cinematography, sets, outfits, and hairstyles
  • Turning humanity switch off/on
  • Large elaborate events
  • Period flashbacks
  • Smoking hot actors


Wham moments
– Damon and Elena’s near touch dance Miss Mystic Falls pageant
– Elena breaking down about becoming a vampire during her hike with Stefan
– Stefan closing his eyes as Elena gets taken away for the ritual
– Damon getting his groove on at the 60’s dance
– Stefan protesting at dances then after some cajoling displaying incredible moves
– Stefan bonding with Matt over cars during a double date
– Stefan threatening John in the hospital
– Damon compelling Elena to forget his love confession
– Bonnie demonstrating the power of a hundred witches to Jeremy
– Stefan’s silent emo phone call to Elena on her birthday
– Damon pushes Elena in the water while tracking werewolves
– Elena and Damon’s extremely hot first kiss
– Tyler with glitter on his hands helping Caroline with homecoming saying out of anyone he is sired to her
– A dying Damon failing to make amends with Elena and allowing her time he doesn’t have
– All the times the gang gets together to plan a murder
– Damon tells Stefan he will be there for him
– Damon playing piano
– Alaric and Damon at the bar with bourbon
– Any time Elijah makes an entrance and rips out hearts
– Caroline making fun of Stefan’s it’s Tuesday face.
– Katherine being pleasantly surprised by Stefan’s confession
– Katherine sentimentality looking at the moon and reflects telling Stefan they’ll be united as she kisses him in 1864
– Damon spurning Katherine when she tries to seduce him in favor of reading a journal
– Damon and Rebekah exchanging looks in the grill after hooking up.
– Katherine cheerfully throwing wolfsbane grenades at the hybrids while saying kaboom
– Damon showing up in Elena’s house invading her space and her trusting him fast asleep as he lies in bed with her
– Damon winking at Elijah at the dinner party.
– Bonnie and Jeremy’s first kiss.
– Damon tries destroying Elijah’s body with a flamethrower in the basement for fun
– Katherine’s impersonations
– Damon and Bonnie holding hands and time in the prison world (hi Ms. Cuddles!)
– Damon shoving Elena off the ledge into the water and walking into the lake reprimanding her
– Caroline singing Eternal Flame for Matt
– John’s letter to Elena and giving up his life for her
– Bonnie being a badass witch
– Klaus’ entrance to save Caroline at graduation
– Kai’s quirky psychotic return and ultimate fate
– Jo’s twins, surprisingly cute
– Damon’s reading New Moon and 50 Shades
– Hell’s bell
– All cameos of season 8


Killer lines
She’s selling it.  He’s buying it. She’s giving him the sex smile. 
Sometimes there is honor in revenge.
I know you said to kill her with kindness but can’t I just kill her?
When people see good they expect good.  And I don’t want to live up to anyone’s expectations.
He’s your first love.  I intend to be your last.  However long it takes.
It’s Mystic Falls.  Nothing bad ever happens here.
It’s okay to love them both.  I did.
Why do you look like someone just shot a panda bear?
Don’t mistake the fact that we haven’t set you on fire in your sleep as trust.
Damon challenges her surprises her. He makes her question her beliefs.
You want a love that consumes you.  You want passion and adventure and even a little danger.
Damon is either the best thing for her or the worst.
Katherine, there are six other bedrooms in this house.  Go find one.
Have I lost you forever?
We’re at irreparable odds.
I’m not sad, I’m freaking hungry!
Everyone needs to stop kissing me!
It’s always going to be Stefan.
Didn’t you find it weird that you made a friend so fast?  Have you met you?
Our life is one big proverbial coin toss.
Is it so wrong for me to want you both?
That thing where you pretend you’re dating but not.
I’m just having a moment.
Elijah’s one scary dude.  But with nice hair.
Got to run.  Got a murder to plan.  Busy day.
You want doppelganger blood? I’ve got doppelgangers coming out of my ears!

Silas owes me a fuse box
You’re Katherine Pierce.  Suck it up.
Time to strap on the hero hair.
Uh oh. Elena’s human again. Am I sensing another brother swap?
See, Stefan? Even the bear knew.
This is pointless. Pointless with pumpkin pie.
Hope hurts. I don’t want to hurt anymore.
Not every victim needs a monologue. 
Slowest. Murder. Ever.
Two vampires are better than one. It’s basic math.
If you’re reading this it means I’m dead. Which sucks.
You’re the one who did this to him. So unimpossible it. Fast.
I’m leaving. Because I’d rather let you down once than let you down for the rest of your life.
 We’re going up against a mind reader who is also a pyromaniac. But I’m sure it’ll all be fine.
That’s for me to know and for you to dot, dot, dot. 

Hello, brother.


TVD, for almost a decade, you’ve throttled me and stabbed my heart with vervain.  Thank you for all the amazing backstories and high body count.  I will love this beautiful story forever.


Profile: Anthony Bourdain



A man of the world best known for his shows No Reservations, Layover, and recently Parts Unknown. He is living the dream – traveling and eating with all expenses paid.

Hotness factor
He has a certain rockstar quality. Tall and dressed usually in a button up shirt and jeans, he strolls foreign streets with swagger.  He’ll rough it camping with the locals and will dive into any exotic dish.  Ultra confident and adventurous, no wonder men and women alike swoon for him.

Food Fan
Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.

As a chef he appreciates food on a deeper level than most, knowing what it takes to create a dish and hold a restaurant together.  He encourages viewers to leave their jobs and families in pursuit of incredible eats, an offer we all are keen to take watching him enjoy his meals. It’s made clear numerous times his number one love = sausage.


Avoid the Obvious
Skip the Eiffel Tower.  Boo, London Eye.  Colosseum, nah.  Since the audience doesn’t want to see the same common landmarks, he’s got to mix it up a little.  On the occasions he has less than 48 hours he prefers to go to less crowded areas and hit local pubs so he can play and drink at leisure.

Tony hails from the kitchens of New York so you have to expect a crusty edge.  I love how he mocks guide books (apparently not rock n roll enough for him).  I guess he thinks he’s the final authority when journeying around the world.

Nightmare List
What ruffles Tony’s chill?  A bar spontaneously bursting into song of course!  He was definitely not feeling London that night.  Also, mimes are just wrong in his book.


Hipster Hatin’
His disdain of tights wearing preppies in fedoras swarming in hot spots is legendary.  Just say no to wheat bread and tahini.


On California
Try as he may to fight it, he is all about the Inn N Out life, yo.  Between the beaches and opulent hotels and cruising in style, he knows he can get used to this.  And yes, our weather is absolutely glorious, thanks for noticing!


Global Bridges
A white male shows us he is unafraid to enter ethnic restaurants and rough it in remote areas.  In this way he is our key to places to see and people to connect with.  We realize there is so much out there we are missing out on if only we take the first step.


Thanks Tony, for showing folks like me how to hit the roads less traveled!

*dedicated to JSJ*


****spoilers all around****

Sword fights, magic spells, knights on horseback, and there be dragons. Friendships that grow in spite of class differences are explored as characters bond over quests and grow up together. I loved seeing the flashing amber eyes effect whenever magic was performed. As far as the finale, er, I guess we’re still waiting for a conclusion?

Wizard angst here we go.  The scarf about his neck makes him look like a perpetual hipster street performer. Always messes up but goes above and beyond to save anyone in need. That scene where he struck Nimueh down was quite surprising because he was so much weaker than her and it was very dark for him to kill without hesitation.  His joy at finding his father and grief got to me. His inherited Dragon powers are easily the coolest concept of the show (Eragon eat your heart out). I wish he learned telepathy or at least a decent concealment spell. His finally ending Morgana up close and personally was sudden and satisfying.

Extremely gorgeous character whose breaking bad transformation makes her a perpetual nuisance as the thing that just won’t die. Uther never dealt with advisors but was so tragically blinded by this daughter of evil. I was sick of her by the first season, I kept yelling for someone to cut her head off whenever she was knocked unconscious.

The once and future king. Just, pure, and a loyal friend for all seasons, he is the epitome of honor. Quite a dish. I love it when he calls GuineVERE.


The Great Dragon
Poor beast, chained up and having to use your infinite wisdom dealing with an emo teenager day in and day out. I wish he could have been used to wipe out Cenred’s army.

So many hot guys in one show, unbelievable.  All skilled and loyal enough to take stand for his king to the point of death (and female disguises).

What is love. Here today and gone tomorrow. Respect. That’s what lasts.
Thankfully no one is moony eyed or pining over each other while involved with someone else. Those who are in love have to deal with plenty of obstacles.  Nice that Arthur and Morgana were somewhat intended for one another but they act more like unimpressed siblings. Merlin was immune to most women on the show, hardly any of them turn his head.

Medieval phrases

– Lose some weight, fatty.
– I came back because you’re my only friend and I can’t afford to lose you.
– Some choices are easy. Some stay with you forever.
– All great struggles demand sacrifice.
– To be more powerful than any man and live like a shadow.
– Dollop head.
– Clot pole.
– You never know when you might need to kill someone.
– The future is as yet unshaped. It is we that shape it.
– Destiny and chicken. What a beautiful combination, eh?
– You are such a girl’s petticoat.
– Have you been on the cider?
– Will it be hot? Will it be cold? Will it be wet? Will it be dry?
– I believe in you. I always have.
– Patience is the key to wisdom.
– I swear I will protect you or die at your side.
– Are you threatening me with a spoon? (Offscreen smack) Ow!
– I am who I am and I am who I was and I will always be.
– I’m like a swan. On the surface it looks like there’s a lot going on underneath.


  • Arthur asking Merlin if he should marry Princess Helena and the response given.
  • Merlin helping Arthur to express his feelings for Lady Vivian
  • Merlin applying the gaja berries on Arthur’s face.
  • Arthur’s exclaiming he is not fat when Merlin takes away his food.
  • Arthur binding Merlin’s wound.
  • Arthur punching Merlin fondly as they go out to face the dragon.
  • Arthur trains and fights with the inexperienced villagers of Ealdor because it is Merlin’s hometown.
  • Gwaine and Merlin cementing their friendship in the perilous lands.
  • Merlin waiting outside all night as Arthur bids farewell to his father.
  • Arthur giving Merlin a piggyback ride!
  • Merlin thrilled when Arthur proposes to Gwen, giving him a hard time about holding an unromantic tourney for her.
  • Arthur given a simpleton mind spell with his dopey expressions, going around in tight clothes and hugging trees
  • Hanging out in a giant net trap.
  • Just hold me.tumblr_mduz8qzNEd1rkarx5o1_500

Magical moments

  • Merlin giving the Fisher King the Phoenix bracelet.
  • Merlin being an insulting punk to everyone under mind control and being thwarted in his attempts to kill Arthur, very Joxer-like.
  • Running joke about Merlin’s disappearances to the tavern.
  • Gaius and Merlin’s mealtime conferences, especially when they eating beetles.
  • Guinevere and Arthur’s epic kiss.
  • Lancelot leaving Guinevere for Arthur’s sake.
  • Merlin administering poison and setting the dragon free. Pathos!
  • Uther rushes to the front of enemy lines to defend Camelot from Cenred’s army.
  • Uther expressing his gratitude to Arthur for throwing the fight, he not only shows his attention to Arthur’s skills but also recognizes his motive to honor him.
  • Bar fight with dreamy Gwaine!
  • Guinevere reprimanding the council for shutting out people looking for shelter.
  • Gwaine sticking his hand in the trunk for honey.
  • Gaius stepping in and knocking down Morgause.
  • Merlin aiding the knights in stealing a chicken from the kitchen.
  • Arthur rejecting George, the efficient manservant replacement, because he’s not as fun.
  • Morgause and Cenred’s exchange.
  • Uther bewitched and enamored with his troll bride.
  • Throwdown between Morgana and old disguised Merlin.
  • Gaius slapping Uther’s bald head around.
  • Merlin and aging spell, that was pure genius! His crotchety snarling is top notch.
  • Sir Leon lives!
  • Gwaine winning battles to earn food under Morgana’s rule.
  • The hot pirate couple Tristan and Isolde, their transitioning respect won by Arthur and tragic devotion.
  • Merlin setting up the people of Camelot and sword in the stone to lift Arthur from doubt of his abilities.
  • Queen Guinevere taking care of business as she roots out the traitor Sefa and sentences her to death. And all of it was a gambit to catch her father!
  • Nemeton is Stonehenge! And the land of the dead has so many lens flares!
  • Knights hazing Mordred.
  • Female sorceress Merlin and all her mannerisms!!! Solid.
  • Balinor giving Merlin hope in the crystal caves
  • Biblically epic lightning entrance in the battle!


Long live the legend of Camelot.

The Borgias

(spoilers all around)

“Ambition rules this family.”

I got into this show on my own whilst in a losing battle with a cold = 3 seasons in 3 days.  I thought it was about some immoral royals or courtiers and was surprised to learn it was about the Pope’s family in 15th century Rome.  Let me tell you, it was just as bloody and sexy if not more so.  I think it brought out a lot of conflicting emotions, as success and safety were the priority against enemies, people were only valued for their utility rather than morality. From the bodies of the Tiber to the usage of wax seal stamp, all the details were incredible.   Applause to Neil Jordan for the bringing the Renaissance to life.

Alexander/ Rodrigo
“What would Rome be without a good plot?”
We don’t have any money? Our army sucks?  Huh, my son is evil?  Geez, man, get a clue.
Despite opposition and racial tension, a Spaniard made it to the papal seat by virtue and esteem.  Nah, just bribe everyone, it’s a lot quicker.  Seriously, he had an endless appetite for sex and power, followed by the fierce love he has for his family.   But my judgment softens when he shows class and heart not a few times.   He can also be hilarious, like when he puffs on cigars and rocks a straw hat.  Also, pigeons better watch out when he’s around!

“Affections can be lethal in this Rome of ours.”
The loving and wise woman who raised her crazy children. She a big heart and does not fall to corruption despite family dealings. I like how her presence calms any who are in need if counsel, accepting and forgiving even the mistress of her former husband.

“Never presume that I won’t act on my worst instincts.”
It seems wrong to be turned on by His Eminence, but he makes those robes look so good. The ends justify the means for this man, who is driven by his desire to be recognized by his father. He is always occupied and gets so much done it’s dizzying.  It was painful to see that he wanted to stop being a cardinal for a long time and be free to use his considerable skills in battle and strategy.  His love and hate live in dangerous extremes. His challenge to Savanarola to walk through the fire was easily my favorite maneuver from the series. He will do literally anything for his family (except if you’re Juan, then bye).

“If I married a thousand times it would always be the wrong choice.”
I never particularly liked or disliked her much.  She was sweet and boring in the beginning then progressed to meddlesome and annoying.  She was the picture of angelic beauty and innocence until she was tragically ill used by her family. Although she did pick up a thing or two about manipulation, all of it was undermined by her whining. Being in such a powerful position, anyone who crossed her was doomed.  Though to play fair, those that loved her were screwed as well.

“Because lechery and debauchery are the very marks of nobility.”
Nope, nothing redeemable about this dude.  You just love to hate him!  Still, I would rather he stayed away from Rome so he could avoid suffering so much and be saved from the poison that is his family.   If anything was his weakness it was his undoing to love his father.  But being rude to mother is inexcusable!

“Sometimes goodness needs the help of a little badness.”
Cesare’s dealer of death, his ace in the hole.  One could not ask for better skills and loyalty. It’s amazing how knowledgeable he is about all weapons, vendettas, and gathering intelligence. He is not a looker but easily a highlight of the show.  Need a loose end taken care of?  He’s your man.

“No man can put a price on sainthood.”
A bold preacher who stood for righteousness in a setting given over of hedonism. Difficult not to admire the steadfast courage in the face of the almighty church.  His end was gruesome but he never broke.  However, his cult burned innocent paintings, so yeah he had to go.

“Break the spell, break the man.”
The creepster who gave information for Florence. He proved to be one of the best spies and was on Cesare’s side when he could use his power for anyone else.  It was always a delight to see the famed author advising and learning with the object of the Prince.

King Charles VIII
“You will have your war, but it will be fought the French way.”
He is down to earth and is chivalrous to women even in times of war. I loved his French accent!

“God gives you riches and you kill for more.”
Saved Catherine’s son and wisely skedaddled out of there. He was one of the rare voices of reason on the show.  His honor shone a brief light over the degradation of the family that we the audience support.

Della Rovere
My goodness he just wouldn’t die!  He is formidable and I just loved the exchange when Cesare acknowledged his abilities and attempted to recruit him.

He carries out tasks without murder or compromise, another light of virtue in this show. I mean taking out an entire Turkish fleet overnight was something but reconciling Alexander and his son was a miracle itself.

Epic Roman scenes
– Micheletto being coddled and loved by his mommy who believes he is a doctor
– Lucrezia telling off her father saying that many people would kill Juan and she wanted him dead too
– The Pope conducting his daughter’s annulment and all the cardinals laughing about the impotency charge
– Cesare and Lucrezia actors’ chemistry
– The Pope holding young Juan to bury him
– Poor Geoffrey who was obedient but left out and went missing from the show entirely
– King Charles arriving to find His Holiness humble before God
– Cannon bluff
– Lucrezia waking through a sleeping Naples court to her freedom then her reunion with Cesare
– Anytime Anthony prince of Naples talked
– The Pope admonishing the Cardinals for mocking King Charles’ death and punishing them accordingly
– Caterina’s impressive plans for the upcoming siege, only to realize the French had already arrived
– Those 2 or 3 moments the Pope took God seriously
– The family together for Giovanni’s birth
– Cesare walking in like a boss to his father after bringing in the French army.
– King Louis XII bonding with Cesare over shooting
– French gunpowder set off by incognito condotierri trained by Micheletto
– Lucrezia the regent looking pretty satisfied on the throne
– Cesare and his father finally weeping and embracing is a touching display of humanity

Vatican Sayings
“You brought me a turd from the New World?
“Certainty is the preserve of youth.”
“Jesus loves me!”

“He is me! All the fire, the fury, the drive… the pitiless ambition! I look into his eyes – I see myself!  Do you expect me to love that?”
“A strength misguided is still a strength.”
“God rest his soul.  And damn yours! And yours! And all of you!”
“Lies ooze from your mouth like pus from a dead horse.”
“He loves his errant son, does he not?  More than his dutiful one.”
“Why is it your touch is the only one that soothes me? And you spend a lifetime pulling away from me. I’m tired of that. I’m tired of my husband. I’m tired of life.The only thing that never tires me is you.”

“How refreshing our children still manage to surprise us.”
“You’re saying I’m not pretty? I’ve killed for less.”
“Is nothing in this damned city what it seems?”
“There is talk of something called honor. Let us show them another way.”
“I punish this world for not being as I want.”
“He fell onto a knife that Cesare happened to be holding.”
“We address an empty bed! We have never realized it would provide such sport.”
 “There is only one road and that is forward.”
“Shut up and pay for it.”
“We are in a fairy tale and the witch is me.”
“Can one of you replace him? Don’t even try to answer that.”
“Affection leads to weakness. And I have no use for either.”
“We’re Borgias! We never forgive!”

Worthy Women
Another reason to love this show is it’s portrayal of females holding their own when they had so little freedoms traditionally.  These individuals aggressively handle their own destiny rather than merely respond/react to their situations.
– Vittoria was an accomplished in drawing but her best artistry was in the execution of making plaster cannons.
– Lucrezia maneuvered as best as she could in Naples, easily overshadowing her young naïve husband; so credit to her however foolish the outcome (I never saw that Frederico crap coming!)
– Caterina commanded her own forces and was one of the largest threats to the Borgias.
– Giulia was a reasonable sounding board to the Pope and would be involved in the Vatican’s finances.  With Vanozza and Lucrezia, she headed the works to improve the lives of the poor citizens of Rome (points for the Pope’s indulgence in these matters)

Sin Scale
The Borgias chose to be accountable to no one and denied themselves nothing in their advancement.  Members in the Vatican all seemed to be deep in their transgressions and loved only themselves. The attitude is, God forgives so I can do whatever I want.  What they do not realize is that be it bribes, murder, or fornication, all of them are equally wrong. When it comes to the Cesare and Lucrezia relationship, it is unusual but no more shocking than homosexuality or pedaphilia which was widely accepted in culture.  It sickened me a few minutes into the show how little reverence and faith the Borgias had and how unaffected they were by their criminal actions.  Which is even more appalling when it seems I want them to rise rather than fail.

Blood and Tears novel
After I finished with the series I devoured this entertaining work from Dunant.   The Romans’ fondness for rumors and “whirlwind of gossip” were heightenedI liked Lucrezia a whole lot more in this version as she learns about being a Borgia the hard way and doesn’t succumb to treachery. Rodrigo’s is accurately big fat guy instead of the thin rail portrayed in the show.  Everyone knew his overpowering love for his children and he was never afraid to show it.  Giulia was a woman renowned for her golden tresses and sought after because of this. She was married to a mentally ill man and conflicted between her duty to him and compulsion to obey His Holiness. Cesare was a composed mystery in his many roles and did a lot of bull fighting as befits the family name.  I loved his sharp conversations with Rodrigo who valued and trusted him even if he didn’t love him.  The bond the Borgias had were stronger with their habit of slipping into their native Catalan.  It is more impressive that they got so far when they were opposed as foreigners but knew how to deal with high Roman society and Cesare could speak multiple languages to ply the French court as well as others. The themes were very similar to the show as they dealt with “one enemy at a time.”

So many larger than life characters that are likeable and 3 dimensional.  It’s such a pity they did not get another season or the 2 hour film they offered.  Reading the script for the finale was somewhat mollifying, and it is no small thing to be able to enjoy each quality episode as it stands.  The lesson from this dark family is that we are all mortal and that we reap what we sow in the end.

The Mafia got their playbook from this family


A Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

*spoilers all around*

I was really into the animated Spider-Man series as a kid.  He is extremely relatable dealing with angsty youthful struggles we all have in life.  He also comes with a street attitude uncommon in other superhero figures. Plus, he thinks/talks to himself a lot to work things out, so I peg him as a fellow introvert.

(side note on the Sam Raimi series: When I went to the theater to see the first one with Tobey Maguire I was immediately disappointed – they ruined the Spider-Man I knew.  The writing was so bland and the characters flat I didn’t care what happened to them.  No chemistry between Peter and Mary Jane.  It REALLY bothered me that the webs came out of Peter’s body.  There were a handful of scenes in each of the installments that worked and the visuals were top notch yet ultimately I would say I found them watchable but unsatisfying.)

Anyway, for this feature, let’s get the bad stuff out there first…

Weak points
I thought the whole movie didn’t really flow.  There were a lot of revelations and developments that were crammed in and didn’t add much to the story.  Pace could be a lot quicker.  Not a fan of the blaring fanfare for intro and outro, it should be strings, not trumpets (dang it, I have to admit, the first trilogy did a better job with that).

I had to say that out of love, now on to the amazing portions…

Lesson 1: Be kind to “invisible people” (or force them to go to therapy)
Does anyone think I matter?  Am I needed?  I just want people to see me.
I would say Max/Electro’s story is unforeign to most people.  He was rejected and ignored even though he was a brilliant engineer.  He was alone and obsessed over anyone who gave him attention.  Therefore, given power, he will seek revenge and murder a ton in search of fame.  I thought I was jaded to conspiracy but was quite disturbed how his records and death were erased as a cover up to raise Oscorp’s stock. No one can complain about their birthday after seeing Max electrocuted, dunked, and bitten savagely by electric eels!

Lesson 2: “It’s complicated” is only acceptable when the stakes are life and death.  Everyone else should just picture the future with them/ without them and decide which is better.   
Peter and Gwen were such a match! I loved their science session when she lectured him about combating the electrical fields from his web.  When he wrote the I love you message it was a death sentence for sure.  He warned her and did everything he could to keep her out of danger but it was her choice to risk it all.  They loved and respected each other fully and you know it’s not meant to be but still can’t help but get torn up over his loss.

Lesson 3: Nerdy/ brainy is the new sexy indeed. 
I was wary watching the first film last year but Andrew did a fine job doing what Spider-Man does best – snarky snark snark.  He sold it well and I never developed such a crush on Spider-Man until recently.  Intelligent skinny Peter who devotes himself to making the world better (with that perfect hair every morning) is definitely my kind of guy. Emo well dressed pretty boy Harry with those piercing blues, not bad either. It was so sad that he thought everyone just wanted money from him!

Leftover Questions: So is Felicia going to be Black Cat? Is Peter going to show his aunt the video exposing the truth about his dad and Oscorp (or anyone else for that matter?) Would skipping stones with someone be considered as cheating on your S.O.?

Cool Spidey-scenes

  • Peter dipping Gwen for a big kiss at their graduation, woohoo
  • A+ on effects and voice for Electro
  • Peter & Harry go on a bromantic date
  • Peter’s acrobatic diversion to help Gwen escape, hot!
  • Slow mo strategically saving the people on the stairs who were about to be electrocuted
  • Harry going through files on his glass desk/computer, high tech!
  • Peter conducting experiments with the web material and batteries (all for nothing, he should have just called Gwen, haha)
  • Spider-Man cosplaying with a helmet to hose down the baddie and high fiving the firefighter team, win
  • Harry successfully breaking into Ravencroft with only a taser, whaaat
  • The part with Gwen was falling was artistic and extraordinary
  • Peter walking completely besotted toward Gwen through traffic, sigh


A Review: Frasier

With its strong themes of family and friendship, Frasier went on for 11 wonderful seasons.   It’s not a show I would normally watch as it is devoid of any hot guys or supernatural elements (excepting Daphne’s infrequent psychic visions).   However I was sold on the stylish French suits, elite restaurant/ opera culture, extensive vocabulary, as well as my fascination in the subject of psychology.  I mainlined the series within a month, such is the state of idleness. 

Dr. Frasier Crane
An intellectual prone to analyze obsessively while attempting to climb social heights.  He is brilliant in dispensing advice and insights while blind to his own faults until he is called out by those close to him.  He is unlucky in love as he is uncompromising and set in his ways therefore feels empty despite success with his career.  Even though he acts overly pretentious he always strives to see the good in people and he learned his ethics and compulsion to help others from his father.  His rambling and oversharing is difficult anyone to bear.  It’s frustrating when Frasier repeatedly tries to keep up a deception instead of coming clean and communicating like an adult (that is not comical, that is stressful, says I). When he was younger his father complained he would read during camping trips and miss out on experiencing anything firsthand which matches my childhood.  Also, his crisis was that he was alone because he is afraid to be alone resonates with me.  I wish I had his ability to speak healing words and other times fly into a refined outrage.

A fussy hypochondriac with plenty of allergies and a fear of bugs, he can be arrogant at times just like his brother.  He is actually the closest to my type of guy, with his lean looks and understated countenance.  It is adorable when he takes to hiding under the piano in times of distress.  He suffered much with his ex wives and had to lose his social circle while taking pains to cut down on luxuries.  The Montana where he resides is quite grand and I get into the image of his sitting neatly the library perusing a novel while dressed in a suit like the old timey nobles.

A conventional man’s man, he served in the Korean war and is the traditional tough guy who doesn’t make problems out of minor things.  He does not understand why men whine and cry like his sons often do, preferring to choose his battles.  He is adept at taking stripes and respecting authority.  To his sorrow he lost his prestigious position as a police officer and has to deal with living with Frasier along with his burden of walking constantly with a cane.  Like myself he has trouble expressing his feelings and likes to just sit and watch tv.  Instead of being bothered by everything he says little and internalizes things to avoid the noise.  I don’t envy his job of raising superior acting sons who are both “delicate doilies”.  His fondness for beer and quirky attraction to young Korean women in general rounds out his character well.

Supporting characters

Daphne: a sassy and intelligent physical therapist who grew up with 8 brothers in England
Eddie: Martin’s buddy –  snarling and begging reminds me of my old terrier Mimi.
Bebe: the vicious and effective viper of an agent
Roz: the promiscuous producer of Frasier’s show with a warm heart
Bob “Bulldog”:  I love his barking and unnecessary tantrums
Gil: uppity food critic whose sneers are hilarious
Donny: casual appearances hide the tough effective lawyer – shame about his jilting
Maris: running gag is that she is never shown – I love hearing the jokes about how skinny she is
Lilith: the stoic vampire mother of Frasier’s son Frederick
Kenny: a pushover manager – very dorky but lovable
Kirby: the teenage son of Frasier’s friend, he is a riot in contrast to Frasier’s stuffiness!!!
James: such a hot barista at Cafe Nervosa who handles any order with ease

Outstanding moments

  • Roz rating Frasier’s performance
  • Martin outsmarting Frasier in talking the radio personalities into banding together
  • Dream sequences when all the obvious fears surface and Martin puts them all down with a few short words
  • Frasier meeting his professor and they parry with psychological concepts
  • Daphne preparing to reject Niles and unable to do so when she realizes her feelings
  • All the tacky Christmas decorations
  • Frasier visiting Niles’ memories of Daphne
  • Martin being proud of Niles’ free throw success for a hot minute
  • Frasier and Lilith supporting each other emotionally during rough times
  • Memories in the hospital when Niles is having surgery
  • Frasier & Niles being bad boys in their auto class passing notes in French
  • Crane men go ice fishing and Martin tells his sons he loves them
  • Frasier consoling Roz over her breakup telling her it will take time and turn to family and friends
  • Anytime another language is spoken or the piano is played
  • Wine off between Frasier & Niles
  • Martin’s fear of both Maris and Lilith
  • Frasier’s epic music score for his radio program
  • Niles following the whim of his dog who has the same appearance and demeanor of his ex wife
  • Dr Nora’s coming undone when her mom visits
  • Victor Garber as the butler, Aaron Eckhart the environmentalist, plus tons of celebrity callers!
  • Frasier instinctively recognizing Daphne’s status change as part of the family
  • Niles dressing down Daphne when she looked into his files
  • Frasier besting the teenage journalists when he guest stars
  • Frasier & Niles trying to fix the toilet and learning to ride bicycles
  • Roz embracing getting older and letting go of her past flighty self
  • Frasier commissioning a replacement for Martin’s chair
  • The beautiful and emotional rewind over the years with the cheese crock

Love above all
The main romantic plot of the show over the years is Niles’ intense and impossible attraction to Daphne while he was married.  I can relate to longing for someone for years but do not agree with the way the characters acted in the name of love.  He ended things with his first wife Maris because she was controlling and inconsiderate.  The second wife he left in a heartbeat because he would throw anyone over for his true love who makes him feel “alive” and “excited”, Daphne.  This from the show that describes divorce as “ripping apart two lovers bound in a sacred union.”  It is a blow to see marriages tossed aside for convenience.  The show also depicts everyone being rampantly promiscuous which is another minus.  On the plus side, the disastrous aftermath of Niles & Daphne’s relationship was realistic, making them fight and earn their choice.   I also appreciated the angle that Daphne took on weight as a way to deal with the pressure of living up to Nile’s illusion and ideal of her over the years.

Literal bromance
Frasier & Niles are obscenely close. They are in sync with their interests and always have each other’s back (sometimes for stabbing) when it comes to their schemes.  They often have petty spats and take their competitiveness to the next level.  However, they acknowledge respect for their sibling and recognize their successes are due in part to their intense rivalry.  It’s such a treat to see their overlapping bickering or geeking out over elite subjects.  Their mini selves in flashback scenes are first-rate!

Witty dialogue
–  On my show I sometimes compare the human psyche to a sailboat that’s borne along the surface of the conscious mind, while the deeper waters of the subconscious navigate the rudder. 
–  There is no such thing as healthy superstition. 
–  Do you have any idea what it’s like to play the same character for twenty years?!
–  [to Daphne] You’re gonna lose your looks? Happens to everyone. [to Frasier] You’re afraid you’re gonna end up alone? You’ll still have your family. [to Niles] You’re afraid you’re gonna be a bad father? Join the club! [to all three] Now just clam up and go to bed!
–  I’ll never forget the look of wonder on her face at touching vinyl for the first time. She said it made her feel cheap and dirty, and she liked it. I was her first bad boy.
– I’m a humane man, but right now I could kick a kitten through an electric fan.
–  If truth be told, it’s been a while since I…romped with abandon through the perfumed gardens of Eros.
–  We all have a tendency to freeze people into roles with which we are most comfortable.
–  Anything else in the box, Pandora?
–  Would you get Eddie off of the couch? Or else it’s out to the garbage chute for the thrill ride of his life!
–  Manicurists, pedicurists, facialists. Whenever you see a man who’s well-groomed, you can bet he’s not gettin’ any.
–  Damn, baby, that’s cold!
–  I almost feel sorry for her. Just another helpless woman suffering from an unslakeable thirst…for Crane
–  People of Seattle, listen to me! We are not barbarians, we are not Neanderthals and we are not French! Do you hear that, you up there?!
–  Oh, I didn’t even know it was boxing season.
–  I’d like to strike you, of course, but you speak the truth!
–  You know, by the way: you have an alphabetical misfile, but I’m not telling you where!
–  Dad? I thought we had an agreement. Eddie doesn’t roll around on my sofa and I don’t throw him in front of a bus.
–  Strange, I usually get some sign when Lilith is in town: dogs forming into packs, blood weeping down the wall…
–  Popularity is the hallmark of mediocrity
–  He asked me to take him, but then I suggested that, when it comes to guns, perhaps he would prefer someone of…(pause for effect) Niles’s calibre. (chuckles to himself) I’m in rare form today.
–  Remember what mom always said: A handshake is as good as a hug
–  My God, woman, I’d drive a stake through your heart but I don’t think anything could kill you!
–  In the end what we regret most are the chances we never took

Clever sayings:  Stay loose, not a whit, I require cocoa, high marks, reality sandwich, being dissed, poppity-pop-pop-pop!

Insult bank: egomanaical gasbag, dink, eat crow, nightmarish carp, going for master’s degree at fat academy, she is like the sun without the warmth, unprincipled charlatan, unconscionable fraud, Isn’t there a zebra carcass somewhere you should be hovering over?

Thank you for all the lessons and classy conversations!  I now have a better awareness of Mongolian throat singing and the Samisen. God bless all the actors and the writers for keeping it fresh all those years!