Repost: Christmas! For Real this Time

Countdown-To-Christmas-2015

Airs: October 31 – December 25 on Hallmark Channel

You’ve probably read this post before.  I posted this immediately before Hallmark started their “Christmas in July” week.  Hallmark aired Christmas movies for one week straight.  I am reposting this now, because Hallmark is counting down the days until they can start their Countdown to Christmas.  Hallmark will air Christmas movies for almost two months straight, beginning Saturday, October 31.  During this massive tide of yules, Hallmark will air a whopping 17 new holiday-themed movies – including five on five straight nights over Thanksgiving weekend (presumably Thanksgiving-related.)  I know you are wondering, “Which ones should I watch?  Are they all good?”  I can help!  Below is my ranking of their holiday movies, a brief note and the WWYT Rating. [Ed. Note – Standard Hallmark movie is Man and Woman meet.  Someone lies.  They fall in love.  Lie comes out.  Anger! Forgiveness! Happily Ever After!]

  1. Winter Wonderland– A male lead with a personality? Say it isn’t so, Hallmark! (The lead female is the foster sister on Supergirl) – 7.90
  2. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year– The Fonz! Surprisingly well done.  – 7.60
  3. Hitched for the Holidays – Actually acknowledges the existence of Hanukkah. Stars Joey Lawrence, adjust your rating accordingly – 7.50
  4. A Very Merry Mix-up– Completely ludicrous. I loved every second of it. – 7.45
  5. Matchmaking Santa – Cute movie, only a little ludicrous. Did you know the secret to making good cookies was vanilla? – 7.10
  6. Christmas with Holly– A child won’t speak after her parents death. Absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  – 7.00
  7. Naughty or Nice– Slightly different for Hallmark. A woman named Kris Kringle finds the Naughty and Nice book.  Hilarity ensues.  Or should I say Hilarie ensues (stars Hilarie Burton) – 6.99

8t. Snow Bride – Standard Hallmark plot. – 6.90

8t. A Bride for Christmas – Standard Hallmark plot – 6.90

10t. Nine Lives of Christmas – The cats are the real stars of this movie. – 6.85

10t. Christmas Sheppard – The dog is the real star of this movie.  – 6.85

  1. Christmas at Cartwrights– A somewhat realistic Hallmark movie. They must be slipping. – 6.80
  2. Angel Sing– Non-Standard movie. Actually focuses on the male lead. – 6.79
  3. Trading Christmas– A House swap movie that actually works. – 6.75
  4. Holiday Engagement– Okay movie, but left a lot unresolved. – 6.70

16t. A Princess for Christmas – An American falls in love with a prince.  – 6.60

16t. Royal Christmas – EXACT same movie as Princess for Christmas.  EXACT – 6.60

  1. Christmas Under Wraps– Solid, nothing good, nothing bad. – 6.50
  2. Eve’s Christmas– Woman travels back in time. Changes it. That is the kind of ludicrous concept I am looking for Hallmark! – 6.49
  3. Catch a Christmas Star– Man refuses to date super hot famous singer, because…You’re on a roll now Hallmark. – 6.48
  4. Baby’s First Christmas– Man and woman “hate” each other, but forced to spend Christmas together to spend time with their new nephew.  You won’t believe what happens next.  Oh wait, yes you will. – 6.45
  5. Three Wise Woman– More Time Travelling! Seems to violate most “established” rules about Time Travel. Way to go Hallmark! – 6.44
  6. Christmas Pageant– Standard Hallmark movie – 6.40
  7. Let it Snow– Over the top cheesy. Hallmark in vintage form. – 6.39
  8. Christmas Magic– Completely unmemorable – 6.35
  9. Pete’s Christmas– Groundhog day for Pete. For some inexplicable reason, Pete gets blamed for everything. – 6.26

27t. One Starry Christmas – Sidekicks steal the show. – 6.25

27t. Fir Crazy – I typically like Sarah Lancaster, but as the female lead here she is slightly annoying.  – 6.25

  1. Christmas Cupid– Clever twist on A Christmas Carol. Lots of holes in plot makes it tough to give a higher ranking. – 6.20
  2. Help for the Holidays– Even by Hallmark standards this is cheesy. Stars Summer Glau, adjust your ratings accordingly. – 6.19
  3. Cookie Cutter Christmas– A cookie cutter Hallmark movie – 6.15
  4. Moonlight and Mistletoe– Woman seems very cross – 6.14
  5. Call Me Mrs. Miracle– Pretty unmemorable. – 6.11
  6. Christmas in Conway– Tearjerker Alert! Depressing for a Hallmark Christmas movie – 6.10
  7. Santa Switch– Male lead too unlikeable to root for him. – 6.09
  8. Christmas Ornament– Female lead is so very cross. So cross. – 6.08
  9. Mistletoe Over Manhattan– A couple is going through a divorce. Oh yay! Sounds like a great cheery Christmas movie. – 6.07

38t. Christmas Dance – Standard Hallmark Movie.  Lie should be too egregious to be forgiven. – 6.05

38t. A Boyfriend for Christmas – Standard Hallmark Movie.  Too many opportunities to tell the truth. – 6.05

  1. Annie Claus is Coming to Town– Only people from Wisconsin might have the tolerance for this extra cheesy movie. – 6.04
  2. Northpole– I thought Annie Claus is Coming to Town was cheesy. – 6.00
  3. One Christmas Eve– Completely incoherent plot.  Mashed together everyone’s worst Christmas ever stories.  Best part was the real stories.  – 5.99
  4. Christmas Spirit– This movie bugged me. – 5.90
  5. Family for Christmas – Left a lot of unresolved plot lines. Reviewed here.  – 5.85
  6. The Thanksgiving House– Completely unbelievable premise, not in a good way. – 5.80
  7. Farewell Mr. Kringle– Another cross lady.  Don’t really want to root for her. – 5.75
  8. The Wishing Tree– Children acting out.  That sounds right up my alley. – 5.70
  9. Best Christmas Party Ever– They tell me that the lead female is good at her job, but then show her being completely incompetent.  Only a strong male lead saves this from a near bottom rating – 5.50
  10. Christmas Song– Would this movie work if they weren’t so pretty? Would any of them? – 5.25
  11. Angels and Ornaments– Next time, Hallmark, find someone who can sing to play an aspiring singer.  Also, maybe have the main characters know the first damn thing about each other. Especially, if they have been best friends for 20 years.  – 5.00
  12. Lucky Christmas– Just give the lady back her lottery ticket, you douchebag. – 4.95
  13. Hats off to Christmas– Unengaging characters, impossible to root for. – 4.90
  14. Love at the Thanksgiving Parade– Wow, the lead female annoying. – 4.85
  15. Finding Christmas– A House swap that doesn’t work. – 4.80
  16. All I want for Christmas– If you can’t find anything nice to say…This film fit the appropriate time allotted. – 4.75
  17. It’s Christmas, Carol– A poorly done Christmas Carol. Stars Tori Spelling, adjust your ratings accordingly. – 4.70
  18. Miracle– The male lead was actively trying to make me dislike him.  He succeeded.  Too bad the plot didn’t. – 3.90
  19. The Christmas Parade– Do you understand how bad the acting has to be for me to find a movie intolerable?  Apparently, the casting director didn’t. – 3.80
  20. Miracle– I don’t understand.  I am supposed to like two obnoxious brats? – 2.10
  21. Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus– I never want to see Steve Gutenberg again – 2.00

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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TV Review: Supergirl

Supergirl

Airs: Mondays at 8/7c on CBS

Review: Pilot

I am not well versed in comic book lore, but Supergirl feels like it stays close to the comics – including logic that would only make sense in a comic book.  It was a pilot episode, and those can be a little rocky; sometimes a show needs room to grow into itself.  Let’s hope Supergirl can do that, because the show has promise, if some serious flaws.

Kara Danvers is the errand girl for media mogul Cat Grant.  She is content knowing that the world doesn’t need another hero – her cousin, Superman, has it covered.  Until one day, her foster sister’s plane is going to crash, and Kara flies to the rescue.  This exposes her to the world, and to feelings she didn’t know she had – she wants to be a hero and help people.  She can do that with her powers.

Once she starts using her powers to help, she is captured by the Department of Extra-normal Operations (DEO.)  This is where the plot unravels.  The DEO is in charge of hunting down aliens to protect the human race.  Why did they leave a known alien, Kara, alone?  Why do they think she is evil now that she is helping people?  Why wouldn’t they want a superpowered alien helping them?  Kara is released because her foster sister, Alex, works for the DEO.  The head of the DEO doesn’t trust her, or any alien, including Superman.  What?  Superman is the most trustworthy being there is – he is Nietzche’s übermensch – the ideal standard to which mankind should strive.  This entire arc makes little sense.

The villain of the week arc might make less sense than the DEO storyline.  Vartox, preparing for the “General’s” arrival, is determined to kill Supergirl because Kara’s mother sent him to prison.   During their first encounter, Vartox soundly defeats Supergirl.  In their second encounter, Supergirl fights him to a draw, only purposefully losing.  She needs to get close to his weapon – if it overheats it will explode.  Now when Alex tells the audience her boss this, I am thinking something on par with a small nuke or at least a ton of TNT – instead it is a tiny little explosion, that despite being closer to the baby blast does not harm Kara, but scars Vartox.  Vartox then kills himself because…um, because he lost his weapon?  He can’t beat Kara in a hand-to-hand fight?  I really don’t know.

I am hoping some of these problems with the script are just the writers working out the kinks in the first episode.  With some better writing, it can be a solid, feel-good show about good triumphing over evil.  You don’t get much more black and white than the Superman/Supergirl mythos.

WWYT Rating: 6.0

Nielsen Rating: 3.1  One of the strongest premiere to date.  However, next week it shifts to its normal timeslot (8/7c) instead of following the ratings hero, Big Bang Theory.  That combined with a lower quality premiere, we should see a larger than normal drop from week one to week two.  It still has a long way to go to get cancelled.  80% chance of renewal (up from 50% initial estimate.)

Movie Review: St. Vincent

st-vincent-movie-poster

Released: 10/24/14

Casting makes a big difference in how good a movie is (or isn’t.)  St. Vincent is a prime example of a movie that is completely made by good casting.  Vincent is an alcoholic, acerbic, a–hole.  In no way is this character likable, except for one tiny detail – Vincent is played by Bill Murray.  It’s impossible to hate Bill Murray, because when you see him, you laugh – even when he is playing a giant sourpuss.

Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son, Oliver, move next door to Vincent.  When Oliver loses his keys to his house to a bully, he goes to Vincent for help.  Vincent is reluctant to help, but, desperate for money, he agrees on the condition that Maggie pays him babysitting money.  This becomes a permanent gig for Vincent and he teaches Oliver how to gamble and fight, feeds him sardines from a can, and has his “lady of the night” companion (Naomi Watts) come over when Oliver is around.  In short, Vincent is the worst possible babysitter you could ever find.  Except he’s not.  Vincent teaches Oliver to fight in order to protect himself from the school bully – Oliver and the bully end up as friends.  Vincent only has sardines so his cat can have premium cat food.    Vincent needs money so he can buy the best possible care for his Alzheimer’s inflicted wife.

St. Vincent is a funny, charming movie that would never work without Bill Murray.  It is sometimes hard to root for Vincent, but Billy Murray makes you root for him, just because it’s him.

WWYT Rating: 7.5

IMDB Rating: 7.3

Book Review: The Alloy of Law

Alloy of Law

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Released: 2011

Brandon Sanderson is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  He did a great job finishing The Wheel of Time series, and Way of Kings is currently in the top two for WWYT Book of the Year 2015.  He is also incredibly prolific, especially by Fantasy author standards.  He is publishing two to three books per year (and in 2013, he published four books) – unlike George Martin – I’m still waiting for Book 6 of Fire and Ice (aka Game of Thrones.)

The Alloy of Law is set hundreds of years after the Mistborn trilogy; with pistols, rifles, and “horseless carriages,” Alloy of Law is almost a steampunk novel.  Waxillian, of House Ladrian, uses his Twinborn powers to fight crime in the “Roughs” (think wild west).  Twinborn means that he has both Allomantic and Feruchemical powers.  He “burns” steel for his Allomantic power allowing him to “push” on anything metal (except Aluminium) – if he is heavier, the object moves, if he is lighter, he moves.  His Feruchemical power is the ability to store physical weight (so he can make himself heavier or lighter).  The two powers combined make him especially fearsome.

When Wax accidentally shoots his partner (and love interest) he gives up the law keeper life and, after his uncle dies, he returns to the city to run his nearly bankrupt family estate.  Wax is drawn back into law keeping by an old friend, Wayne, and a series of mysterious robberies and kidnappings.

It was fun returning to the Mistborn universe, but I definitely needed a refresher on what power each metal gives you.  While Wax’s powers gave him a great advantage (even when fighting other Twinborns), I did have some problems with the physics of what he was doing, or Sanderson did not explain what was happening very well.  Several times Wax used a gun shell casing to propel himself upward – I’m OK with this part I just assumed that he made himself very light (using his Feruchemical powers), but he does this a couple times while carrying a damsel in distress – not sure how that works.  Then perhaps the most egregious violation of physics – he was 40-50 feet in the air when he ran out of steel – yet he landed safely (unless I read it wrong and he landed first, then ran out of steel.)

While this wasn’t Sanderson’s best effort, it was still an entertaining book with a return to an interesting universe with the added element of guns instead of (like most Fantasy novels) swords.  The book felt a bit rushed – the physics weren’t well explained, the final confrontation came early in the book, and the main villain got away.  Don’t fear though, the sequel, Shadows of Self, just premiered at #5 on the NY Times Bestseller list.

WWYT Rating: 6.5

Good Reads Rating: 4.2/5

TV Movie Review: October Kiss

October Kiss

Aired: 10/17/15 on Hallmark Channel

October Kiss aims for a Mary Poppins  clone – even naming the lead character Poppy – but misses.  Badly.  Poppy is bad at everything from yoga to pizza making, except she seems to be good with kids.  Her sister sets her up as a nanny.  The kids hate her because their mother is dead and their father works so much he is never home.  They think that by forcing out all the nannies their dad will be home more.  Poppy smiles through all of it and looks fondly at them as they sleep that first night, then promptly quits.  The father, Ryan, convinces Poppy to stay through the end of the month (Halloween).

Poppy and the kids gradually begin to care about each other.  She does such a good job that Ryan wants to keep her around after Halloween.  Poppy refuses because “she has grown attached to the kids, and they to her.”  What?  Shouldn’t that be a reason to stick around?  Ryan rightfully fires her on the spot for that dumbass reason.  If you’re confused, you aren’t alone.  Ryan, when trying to explain to the kids why Poppy won’t be around anymore states “It is a confusing situation.”  You think?

As Ryan and Poppy are apart, they realize that they love each other, though why I don’t know – they hardly spent any time together (and all of it with the kids).  Also neither character is particularly likable – Ryan works too much and consistently breaks promises to his children.  Poppy is annoyingly cheerful about everything.

October Kiss misses on many levels – unlikable characters, with no reason to like each other and continuity errors throughout the plot, makes this a lower tier Hallmark movie.

Rating: 5.64

Ranking: 49

  1. A Ring by Spring

t-50.  A Wish Come True

t-50.  Lucky in Love

t-50.  So You Said Yes

TV Review: Truth Be Told

Truth-Be-Told-TV-Show-2015

Airs: Fridays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC

Review: Pilot

Truth Be Told is…something.  I should say it is nothing, because it is a show about nothing.  Shows about nothing rarely succeed.  Seinfeld is the exception, and that took a dynamic cast and fantastic writing that had everyone talking the next day (Festivus, Yada Yada Yada, Master of my Domain, etc.)  If you don’t have that, your show isn’t just about nothing it is nothing, and no one will watch it.  Truth be Told doesn’t have that.  Though it is close, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and it might as well have been a million miles away.

The “babysitter does porn” schtick was amusing but ultimately unsatisfying.  The rest of the show wasn’t even that good, consisting largely of racial jokes that were at best borderline offensive.  The cast actually did well with the material they were given, but nothing can save a show this bad.

WWYT Rating: 4.1

Nielsen Rating: 0.7 This rating is DOA.  1% chance of renewal, down from an initial projection of 10%

TV Review: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy ex girlfriend

Airs: Mondays at 8/7c on The CW

Review: Pilot

There is a fine line between creepy and charming.  On Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca explores this line from several miles beyond creepy.  Rebecca is about to become a junior partner in a prominent New York law firm, but is still unhappy with her life.  When she randomly bumps into a summer fling from 15 years ago, Josh, she realizes that was the last time she was happy – so she follows him to California to work at a tiny, inept law firm in West Covina, California.  Can you say “stalker?”

I can’t say I understand why she follows him – he doesn’t seem intelligent (certainly not nearly as intelligent as Rebecca), and who knows if they even have anything in common.  I guess he is cute, but is that really worth stalking?  Surely, there was someone more recent that was “the one that got away” that might actually be a good match for her.  It is hard to root for a crazy, stalker lady, especially when you don’t think she should be with Josh.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is not without its charms.  It was funnier than most of the sitcoms that started this year (looking at you Dr. Ken), and it almost mocks itself.  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend knows it is bad and ridiculous – it is shooting for a “so bad it is good” show – which is very difficult to do, because sometimes it is just bad.

WWYT Rating: 5.0

Nielsen Rating: 0.3 Even by the woeful CW standards this rating is low.  I can’t see it surviving at these levels, but then again, I am not sure how The CW network survives at all with any of their ratings (except maybe The Flash.)  The underlying economics of the network make it more difficult to predict if it survives or not, but I will lower my chance of renewal to 40% from my initial estimate of 80%.