The Odyssey Online- Tenth Issue

13 Nights of Halloween TV

An episode-a-day guide to TV’s best Halloween specials.

The Odyssey Online

Boo! Like a ghost ninja, Halloween is almost upon us and for TV fans everywhere that can only mean one thing: the Halloween episode. Every year I look forward to seeing what twists my favorite running shows will play in tribute to this scariest of all holidays. It’s also a time to wax nostalgic on Halloween specials past. While Christmas specials get all the glory, Halloween specials are often among the most memorable episodes in many series’ runs. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Whether you’re a Halloween scrooge (yours truly), a Trick-or-Treater for life, or just around for the costumes, there is no better way to get into the Halloween spirit early than a marathon. After much careful deliberation here is my ultimate Halloween TV playlist, for all your spooky, haunted pleasure in the 13 nights ahead.
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Have Your Cumberbatch and Miller, Too? Call Me Skeptical

Loco Mag

A few days before the announcement came out that BBC’s Luther, starring Idris Elba in the daunting title role, was going to be picked up for another two-episode season, news was broadcasted that America’s FOX was going to be taking their own stab at the series. What a shocker.

TV has gotten out of hand with its attempts to measure what constitutes “good television” from “number of successful offspring shows.” This is far from a novel concept—take the current superhero trend. Television has been in the remake business for years now, to the point that it’s almost become an inevitability—like with British shows getting Americanized: basically common practice. What makes these repetitive motions more glaring lately is the turnaround time. Continue reading

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Veronica Mars, It’s Been Too Long

Loco Mag

On March 14th, after almost eight years off the air, Veronica Mars is coming back–this time on the big screens of AMC Theaters across the country (and cinemas across the globe). If you are a “Marshmallow”, subscribe to Entertainment Magazine (where the show’s stars graced the cover last month), or frequently check IMDB news, then you know of the brilliant TV show of which I speak. Even if you haven’t [yet] watched a single episode, you may have heard of the unorthodox means by which its follow-up movie came to be conceived. While many prematurely-canceled programs have dreamed of such a chance to return (Pushing Daisies), few have actually attained it (Arrested Development, after many false alarms). Thanks (truly) to the fans, Veronica Mars is happening and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Online Submission #1

90’s TV Shows that I Enjoy (Now that I’m older)

Loco Mag

I may never have gotten the hang of sports as a kid (softball consisted of picking dandelions and soccer was “don’t get kicked”) but I’ll give my younger self credit for making a solid amount of good media choices in the nineties. All of those classic Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and John Wayne movies I rewound again and again on VHS were the start of a beautiful friendship with silver screen classics. Multiple viewings of Star Wars have not brought me up to the level of fandom where I have memorized every detail of each scene by heart, but there have been some heroic light saber battles on my living room rug, the series’ empowering credit music playing in the background. And as for Blue’s Clues—name me the episode and I’ll tell you the clues.

It actually wasn’t until the nineties were behind me and the twenty-first century had begun that I was made aware of the more critically acclaimed creative works produced in that decade, particularly in regards to television. Some I hadn’t been old enough to watch. Others weren’t on my radar and unknown by me to exist (a fate that will never transpire again due to weekly TV Guide readings and IMDB). Nonetheless, in order to correct that wrong, I have since watched these nineties programs, letting my VCR rest for a bit in exchange for DVD’s episode selection feature.

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My Precious: The Remote Control

My name is Rachel and I am addicted to television. When I say addicted it means the act of staring at my collection of DVD seasons in my room is eerily similar to Gollum’s attachment to the One Ring. Over years of deal finding and gathering (thank you Amazon, eBay, and Black Friday), my crowded shelves include at least eighty-seven different shows. This does not include all the shows I watch live when they air, nor the shows typed up on an ongoing wish list to watch in the future.
 

Shows

It is my belief that I follow such a variety of different programs that anyone could find at least one they liked, and probably a few they have never heard of. Some are American (Treme), while others are British (Life on Mars) and Canadian (Slings and Arrows). Genre-wise, there is a wide, unlimited range of classics (I Love Lucy), comedy (New Girl), mystery (Castle), science-fiction (Doctor Who), quirky one-season hits (Wonderfalls), dramas (Nashville), violence (Sons of Anarchy) and anything that comes out of the brain of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
 

Characters

My favorite characters range from the protective siblings to the annoying person every other fan cannot stand, the witty best friend (see Friday Night Light‘s Landry Clarke) to the well-intentioned rebel (which sounds like such a cliché but cannot be denied when people like Gilmore Girl‘s Jess Mariano, Veronica Mar‘s Logan Echolls, and Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman exist).

 

Bonds of Siblinghood
Dean Winchester and his Metallicar Credit: WB, CW

Dean Winchester and his Metallicar

Credit: WB, CW

While not predisposed to be a watcher of horror shows or movies, I love Supernatural. In television, it is rare that the protagonists are siblings, seemingly preferring solo stars or love interests. That is why shows like Supernatural, Tru Calling, and the new [UPDATE: canceled] comedy, Ben and Kate, mean so much to me. They focus on the relationship that is so important in my world, instead of acting like the only place for a brother or sister in television is as an annoyance. For example, it is not uncommon for Supernatural fans to be obsessed with Dean Winchester. I mean, it basically comes down to being a member of Team Sam or Team Dean. As a member of Team Dean, though, I find the character (portrayed winningly by Jensen Ackles) incredibly charming, and a lot of that comes from the fact that he is a protective, older sibling. Like Dean, I would do anything for my little brother. He means the world to me and every extreme action Dean does to take care and protect Sammy, is exactly what I would do… if I fought demons for a living.

 

Defender of the Hated

As for my penchant to adore disliked characters, I know Ziggy says some stuff he should not say (like here), that he should have known ducks and alcohol do not mix, but everyone treats him like an idiot. He just looks so sad sometimes, like he has gotten himself stuck in this shtick and does not know how to get out. No one thinks he can change or do anything right to the point that even his friends refuse to see him as anything but a mess up. It’s not fair. Sure, maybe I give him more credit then he deserves, and at times he is in the wrong, or takes a wrong approach. Then again I am also trying to find some means to redeem Dutch Wagenbach (one look at his name and you know he gets no respect) after he killed a cat on The Shield. I simply refuse to give up on these broken characters, who never seem to be given a chance and are always picked on, but have heart.
 

We all make mistakes. He just made many.

We all make mistakes. He just made many.
 
Credited: HBO

When a disk skips even a minute I go crazy running from room to room, trying to find a DVD player that will play through the missed seconds.

I read books called, The Office and Philosophy, from Blackwell Philosophy and PopCulture, or Pronto by Elmore Leonard, starring Justified lead, Raylon Givens (but missing my leading man, Boyd Crowder).

TV Guide magazine is a weekly read.

In other words, this hobby is not limited to video content but is reflected in everything I do.
 
 

Television vs Movies

All of this could be considered extreme (I use “could be” hesitantly) but I love it. There is something to be proud of, in a sense, in knowing so much detail about one area, to be able to name the actors and actresses who appear as minor guest stars, as well as provide their previous work credentials. The appeal of television over movies is the emphasis on characters, who get to really grow and change over thirteen to twenty-two episodes, as opposed to being restricted to two and a half hours and that is it. There are story arcs which you actually have to keep track of as they are referenced weeks later. They are even divided into attainable thirty to sixty minute segments, which can easily fit into my busy schedule. There is no better way to debrief and recuperate than with a show. Drop all the homework for a moment and just sit: pure watching, no multitasking.
 

Why It’s OK to be Obsessed with Television

As an added bonus, I can warrant my habits to the more skeptical individuals with the fact that my goal is for this beloved obsession to lead to some form of career, the pipe dream being a television critic. Alan Sepinwall is my role model in the field. Through his blog, and now his work on the web-site HitFix, he gets paid to watch shows and write reviews for each episode. Indeed, he spent one summer re-watching The Wire and writing two separate reviews for each episode, one for new fans and one for people who have already seen all five seasons so would not be spoiled. Not only does that take a lot of commitment but, having read most of the “newbie” reviews personally, it really adds to understanding and provides new ways of looking at events that took place.

The whole concept sounds amazing, such a fun thing to do for a living. Since first grade, writing has always been the discipline where I found my niche and now I know what I want to write about. Indeed, that is one of the reasons I am so excited about writing a blog in this class. Alan Sepinwall got noticed writing about NYPD Blue on a blog in college. This assignment could be a great opportunity to replace my talk with action towards an ambition that, if successful, could lead towards a paying job one day.
 

Something Quotable for the Last Lines

The best thing about television is it is still fairly separate from the combined gadget world technology seems to want to head towards (like the phones no longer being only phones phenomenon). Some have increased in size and flatness. There are more channels. 3D is being attempted. For the most part, though, television is still that box in the living room we all know and love to turn on. That is something to celebrate.