My Top 5 Favorite TV Shows & Top 5 Favorite Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows, so I decided to do my Top 5 of each. These are kind of in order, starting with my absolute favorite, though sometimes the numbers can be shuffled a little bit depending on my mood!

My Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

deep_space_nine_crewWhen I first started watching Deep Space Nine, I had just come off of the best of times for The Next Generation, and starting all over again with a new Star Trek series definitely had its growing pains. But THEN… the multiple episode story arcs, the obstacles the characters had to overcome, how dark the overall tone of the show became and yet how it actually thrived in humor as well (minus those Ferengi episodes… but no show is perfect…)… simply put, I fell in love with it. The characters, their struggles and stories, the station… and then the ending was satisfying and yet left me wanting more. Just thinking about it makes me want to binge it watch it all NOW.

2. Babylon 5

babylon-5Simply put, Babylon 5 blew me away and I was not expecting it. There are many similarities between it and Deep Space Nine, yet the production budget was clearly lower. But the characters, their story arcs, the overall story arc for the show… while Deep Space Nine did an extraordinary job in very similar ways, in some ways, Babylon 5 honestly outshines it (until its last season… but we won’t talk about that…). The writer/creator of the show actually had the story planned out in advance, as well as contingencies for characters leaving the show, and the thoughtfulness of it really shows (again, until… well, you know…). If you love science fiction or simply amazing storytelling, give this one a chance. (And it’s not too similar to DS9, I promise.)

3. Star Trek: Enterprise

Star-Trek-enterpriseEnterprise doesn’t get a ton of love from the Star Trek community, and it’s too bad. I can understand in some ways… the first season had more misses than hits, some of the characters had vanilla personalities and static arcs, and it didn’t move forward with the Trek timeline. But seasons three and four (er… minus the-finale-that-shall-not-be-named) were so strong. The show got Deep Space Nine level dark and heavy fast and I ate it all up. I also enjoyed seeing the rough stuff that had to happen before Star Fleet could become what it did.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation

star-trek-the-next-generationThe Next Generation was seven years of hits and misses and everything in-between, but I have got to say, there is something about this particular group of characters that will stay with you always. Apparently the cast all got along really well in real life (and still do when they’re together for conventions!) and I think that helps their dynamics. Plus, there are some really fabulous episodes of Star Trek in the show that explore humanity, love, and make you think a lot.

5. Fringe

fringe-castIf you have read my blog for a while, then you were probably here for my journey through watching Fringe seasons 1-5 (you can read my general recap for the show here). It had some low points, but overall it was really strong and intriguing, and I don’t think I ever felt so deeply invested in a show before. I was listening to episode recap podcasts (The Fringe Podcast by Golden Spiral Media, in case you’re curious) nearly every day, my husband and I were deciphering the glyphs given between the commercial breaks of each episode with the glyph app, we would exchange theories at the dinner table, and simply put I was completely into it. I loved the main characters so much and the storylines were just so interesting.

My Top 5 Favorite Movies

1. Inception

inception (1)Inception is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite movie. Every time I watch it I have new questions, feel so wrapped up in Cobb’s mind, and am amazed by how these complex strands are tied together at the end. It blows me away every single time and I feel like it is the standard for its genre of film (however you would even classify it, because I sure don’t know). It challenges my view of the world and inspires me to create. Simply put, I love it.

2. Pride and Prejudice

pride&prejudice-2005Pride and Prejudice (2005) was my very first exposure to Jane Austen, and how thankful I am to have discovered it. The film is beautiful visually, and watching Matthew Macfayden and Keira Knightley as Darcy and Elizabeth is just perfection to me. It gets to me every time. I used to watch this movie so much I almost got tired of it for a while, but after a break I am back to loving it just as much as I did before.

3. While You Were Sleeping

while-sleepingWhile You Were Sleeping may be a 90’s rom-com, but I have loved this movie for well over a decade now, and it will always be near and dear to my heart. I actually don’t care for most romantic comedies, but While You Were Sleeping feels pitch-perfect to me every time. It’s witty, charming, and interesting, and even if the look is aged, the story doesn’t feel aged. I will always adore it.

4. The Dark Knight

the-dark-knightI love what Nolan did with Batman, and the second film in his Dark Knight trilogy was, in my opinion, the strongest and most intriguing. When I watched The Dark Knight for the first time I was in college and minoring in psychology, and I was so blown away by how much a superhero story captured the psyche of mankind. Every time I see it I am struck by how dark, challenging, and bone-chilling it is. And Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker? Quite possibly the best villain to grace the big screen EVER.

5. The Phantom of the Opera

phantom-of-the-operaThe Phantom of The Opera was the first musical I truly came to love. I think it is a gorgeous movie and I love the music and the story. Every time I watch it or listen to the soundtrack I get caught up in it all over again.

What are your favorite TV shows and movies? Let me know if you’re a fan of any of my favorites! 

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TV Series Finales

This post is inspired by the highly controversial finale of How I Met Your Mother that aired on Monday night. I didn’t actually watch the finale since I’ve only seen a handful of episodes, and I won’t spoil you all on here, in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers and don’t want to know the end, but I can certainly understand why after years of character development, fans of the show would be upset with the ending.

This led me to think about the finales of the various series I’ve watched, the finales where they knew it was their finale and had the chance to plan properly for it. Here’s my ranking of eight TV show finales, all from TV shows I watched from beginning to end, staring with my favorite going down to my least favorite…

1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “What You Leave Behind”

ds9-vic-loungeWhen I watched this finale and saw the above scene at Vic’s, it felt so right. It was exactly the sort of note Deep Space Nine needed to end on after the turmoil of war the characters had gone through. It’s hard to get a much better finale than Deep Space Nine, I think, and the only way it really could have felt more complete was if they actually made movies afterward to follow up what happened, because even though it was closure enough, it definitely left an open door and a desire for more. There are books that explore what happens next, which I might get around to reading one day. But sometimes it’s also fun just to imagine for myself.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 5/5

The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Quark

2. Fringe, “An Enemy of Fate”

fringe-my favorite thingIf  you ever binge watch Fringe, just be sure the tissues are ready when you reach the end because HOLY GENE (that’ll make sense if you watch the show ;)) the feels are real. Unfortunately, Fringe never answered all the questions I wanted them to and some of the finale lacked logic to me, but it was still really satisfying, especially emotionally.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 5/5

“You are… my very favorite thing.” – Walter Bishop

3. Babylon 5, “Sleeping in Light”

babylon6-finaleLike most finales, Babylon 5’s was very bittersweet. It was sad, but I don’t think it could have really ended any other way. And it was a pretty powerful conclusion for the grand story arc J. Michael Straczynski had planned (errr… minus a lot of season 5). This is only #3 on the list because the two before it are so strong, but this one really was too.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4.5/5

“A toast… to absent friends, in memory still bright.” – John Sheridan

4. The West Wing, “Tomorrow”

west-wing-tomorrowWest Wing ran for seven seasons, which means we got to see most of President Bartlett’s two term Presidency, and fittingly, the last episode is him and his crew leaving the White House to make way for the new President. In this episode there’s a lot of reminiscing and a lot of having to show the new folks the ropes for when they take charge. From this list, this is the finale I saw longest ago so it’s the foggiest on my mind, but I do remember being very satisfied overall with the conclusion.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

Man: Hey, you work there?/ C.J.: Pardon?/ Man: I said, do you work up there? In the White House.C.J.: No. I don’t./ Man: Oh, sorry./ C.J.: No problem.Man: Must be something, huh?/ C.J.: Yeah. Yeah, it must be something.

5. Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things”

tng-pokerThe closing scene of “All Good Things” is perfect, and while there is some callback in the episode that is nice, it also involves a lot of Q. I’m not a big fan of Q (John deLancie, yes, Q, no) and his antics, and especially his antics from the first episode of TNG, which unfortunately is where a lot of the callback in this episode comes from. It also shows some of the future, and all I remember from that is one thing that left me disappointed. Still, I think that future never really comes to fruition anyway, and we see more of the characters in the movies (though let’s not talk about Nemesis being the end for it all… sigh…). I do remember enjoying this finale pretty well though.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.” – Captain Picard

6. Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”

voyager-endgameThe ship Voyager spends seven seasons in another quadrant of the galaxy, trying to make its way back home, and so of course for the finale, everyone wants to see Voyager make it home. But how will it happen? How long will it take? I don’t want to spoil what happens, but let’s just say that maybe this wasn’t the best execution of the idea. But not the worst either. It was just a little more convoluted than I prefer. They also made an interesting choice with a couple of characters I didn’t really see coming, and I didn’t love it or hate it, but now that I know the real life back story of why it happened, it seems kind of lame. But overall, it’s a pretty good finale.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 3.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

Set a course… for home.” – Captain Janeway

7. Chuck, “Chuck Versus the Goodbye”

chuck-goodbyeThe Chuck finale was good for the secondary characters. If I were to rank my satisfaction for that part of the finale alone, the numbers would be higher. But for our two main characters, Chuck and Sarah, completely different story. Again, without spoiling anything, all I can say is it does feel like an undoing of previous character development, and that was frustrating and heartbreaking both. I mean, it could have been worse, but it was more than bittersweet.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 2.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 2.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 2.5/5

“… tell me our story.”  – Sarah Walker

8. Star Trek: Enterprise, “These Are the Voyages…”

These_are_the_VoyagesSorry for the butt shot, but almost every picture I found for this episode was a major spoiler. This episode is truly the sorriest excuse for a finale or a “Valentine to the fans” (as Rick Berman and Brannon Braga called it… gag me…) EVER. Which is so disappointing because to this day, it’s the last episode we have of Star Trek ever, and the episode before this one was really quite good and would have made a fitting finale. But this is terrible garbage. The premise is ludicrous, what happens to some of the characters is inane, and it just made me ANGRY. I’m giving story closure a rating of .5 only because we see the beginnings of the Federation. That was the ONE good thing that happened. I really enjoyed Enterprise overall but this finale was truly the biggest disappointment for a TV show ever, and from what I gather, nearly every Star Trek fan agrees.

Story Closure Satisfaction: .5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 0/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 0/5

Here’s to the next generation.” – Captain Archer

What are your favorite and least favorite finales? (And please avoid spoilers, unless you’re talking about the aforementioned shows.)

My Top 10 Book Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is REWIND! (Pick from previous topics that you want to do again or may have missed) After looking over the list of past TTT topics, I decided on top 10 heroines. This week’s list is in no particular order.

1. Jo, Little Women

jo-readingOK, we’re going to get the obvious ones out of the way. You all know from my blog name I love Jo. I read Little Women in high school and I feel she was really the first character I just really clicked with in a big way. I had liked several other characters before her, but I felt if I lived in Jo’s time and with her family, I would be a lot like her, with her love for writing, reading, and theatre. She is often the rock for her sisters and I think she is a very strong character and a good role model for young ladies.

2. Katniss, The Hunger Games

katniss-archerAnd obvious choice #2, again, another heroine featured in my blog name. I think most of us will agree that Katniss is a strong character, and not just because she manages to get out of The Hunger Games alive twice and stick it to President Snow, but because of how she takes care of the people she loves. Just the fact that she volunteers for Prim shows her character and bravery. She goes through a lot and goes through a lot of emotional turmoil because of it, but I think she comes out even stronger in the end, because she is finally able to allow herself to truly love someone to the point of being completely vulnerable with him.

Now for the slightly less obvious choices…

3. Liesel, The Book Thief

liesel-bookthiefLiesel goes through a lot as a foster child living in Nazi-occupied Germany during WWII. She loses so much but also gains so much, and while her story is largely tragic, it also ends in hope, as she learns how to express herself through the words she has grown to love, and she is able to move forward in her life.

4. Cinder, The Lunar Chronicles

CinderWhen I started reading Cinder, it amazed me how quickly I connected with a cyborg character. She is strong and independent, and though there were times when she was uncertain how she was going to be able to move forward, she never truly gave up. And I love getting to see her throughout the rest of The Lunar Chronicles!

5. Elliot, For Darkness Shows the Stars

fordarknessshowsI love Elliot, and I’m just going to copy and paste what I said about her in my review of For Darkness Shows the Stars: “She was independent but still loved and leaned on others. She was smart and stood her ground. She was fiercely loyal and self-motivated. I related to her a lot, at least personality-wise. But instead of irritating me (except when she wouldn’t give Kai a chance to talk to her, but more on that later), she inspired me. But she was not perfect. She constantly struggled over the beliefs of what she was raised to believe versus the changes she was seeing in her world. Sometimes others had to guide her and remind her that they were there for her and that she didn’t have to fight her demons alone.”

6. Persis, Across a Star-Swept Sea

star-sweptI adore Persis… She is smart, cunning, determined, loyal, and independent. She’s not perfect, but she is so interesting and dynamic and I loved every moment I was reading about her.

7. Lucy, The Chronicles of Narnia

dawntreader-lucyLucy was the one to discover Narnia and to first truly believe in it. Though the youngest of her siblings, she was able to lead them to Narnia and to Aslan. In Prince Caspian, she is the one that sees Aslan before anyone else, and by the time of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though she still has her struggles, she has also grown up so much since her first time there.

8. Elizabeth, Pride and Prejudice

elizabeth-p&pPerhaps as the main character of a romance classic Elizabeth does not seem like an obvious heroine, but she was willing to stand her ground against her mother’s wishes for matrimony, as well as against a match with a very wealthy man (though we all know how that ends up changing), in a time where she most certainly was considered foolish for doing so. She is too prejudiced to see beyond Darcy at first, but she at least she does not blindly accept what her society would want her too.

9. & 10. Maddie and Queenie, Code Name Verity

codenameverity2If you’ve read this book, I don’t think I have to explain this one. And if you haven’t, I don’t know how I can. These girls are extremely brave. I feel that’s about all I can say!

BONUS! Two Favorite Heroines from Film & TV!

heroinesBasically, I could fangirl about Olivia Dunham (Fringe) and Peggy Carter (Captain America) all day, especially Peggy. I love them both. They’re strong and independent, yet feminine and kind. We need more ladies like these in our stories.

Who are your favorite heroines?

Fringe Series Overview

After watching all five seasons Fringe starting last summer and going through December, I can say without a doubt I am a fan. I was evangelizing the show even when I was only in the first season, believing so much in the potential it showed. And it met most of that potential. I will have to say that despite how much I love this show overall, that other than the absolutely perfect emotional closure I got in the series finale, the show never quite gave me everything I wanted from it. But it did give me a lot. Since the show is so unique, I wanted to focus on some on the aspects of the show that really stood out, as well as favorite characters and episodes.

There are spoilers sprinkled throughout, SO what you will see is SPOILER the spoiler written in white that you can highlight if you’ve seen all of the show and then END SPOILER. Everything else is CLEAR to read!

Favorite Episodes by Season

Season One

While watching the series, my favorite episode of Season One hands-down was “Bad Dreams.” I just found the story fascinating, I loved meeting another Cortexiphan kid, and it would definitely still have to be my favorite case-of-the-week episode from the first season. But if I look back at the series as a whole, it would probably be one of the more mythological episodes, but I won’t know for sure until I re-watch. But here are some possibilities/runner-up favorites: “The Arrival,” “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones,” “The Equation,” “Ability,” “Inner Child,” and “There’s More than One of Everything.” Overall, even though I did not give season 1 one of my two 4.5 star rankings (I mostly gave it 4 stars because I didn’t think the John Scott storyline was handled well after the pilot), I think I would consider it my second favorite season.

fringe-baddreams

Season Two

When I looked back at all the episodes from Season Two, it was clear to me it was my favorite season of the series. I think season two was the closest to being exactly what I wanted Fringe to be. My absolute favorite is “White Tulip” for all its wonderful symbolism, but I have several other episodes I love a lot too: “Dream Logic,” “August,” “Jacksonville,” “Peter,” “Northwest Passage.” and “Over There (Part Two).” Also extremely noteworthy: “A New Day in the Old Town” and “Brown Betty.”

fringe-whitetulip

Season Three

Season Three is a strong season for the mythology of the show and for the character development, but it stressed me out and aggravated me SO FREAKING MUCH! Because of this, it was a little harder for me to determine a favorite episode, but I think I’ll go with the finale, “The Day We Died,” because it was so intriguing. Some other episodes I liked: “The Abducted,” “Entrada,” “Subject 13,” and “Bloodline.”

fringe-thedaywedied

Season  Four

This season was another frustrating one for me that I honestly think I could only bear because of my unbounding love for Lincoln Lee. Every other character was just acting so frustrating with the SPOILER timeline reset affecting them END SPOILER! Overall, it might be my least favorite season, despite Lincoln Lee. My favorite episode is probably either “Everything in its Right Place” or “Letters of Transit,” and a couple others I liked pretty well were “Wallflower” and “Back to Where You’ve Never Been” (the former mostly because of MILD SPOILER cute Olivia-Lincoln moments). END MILD SPOILER

fringe-wallflower

Season Five

Season Five was feeling pretty grim until the last five episodes, which I love all so much I just have to consider them a collective favorite: “Black Blotter,” “Anomaly XB-6783746,” “The Boy Must Live,” “Liberty,” and “An Enemy of Fate.” They finally delivered on what I had been waiting the entire season for!

fringe-finale

Favorite Characters by Season

Season One: Peter

Season Two: Peter

Season Three: Olivia

Season Four: Lincoln

Season Five: SPOILER September/Donald END SPOILER

I loved me some Peter in the first two seasons, but he got really frustrating in season three. In hindsight, I also have to give some love to Charlie in the first season. In season three, with so much crap hitting the fan, I found the one person I was most concerned about and rooting for was Olivia, and she completely won me over as a favorite. In season four, all bets were off when Lincoln Lee arrived in his good guy glory. At that point, I wanted to stop watching regular Fringe and watch a Lincoln Lee spin-off show instead! And then in season five, as mentioned before was not a favorite season of mine, and so when we finally get to what I consider “the good stuff” and finally figure out the mystery with SPOILER where September is and that he is actually this mysterious guy Donald they have been looking for and that he has humanified and is now even more awesome than ever before!!! I was just so excited!!! END SPOILER.

When I look at the series as a whole, I think Walter definitely has to be the most intriguing character with the strongest arc, and John Noble did a crazy amazing job playing like 50 versions of the character (OK, maybe not 50, but I did lose count!) with just little nuances to separate them.

Characters that were definitely underutilized: Astrid sadly never really got to rise to the occasion, which I hated so much because Jasicka did a great job and she deserved more screen time. But the relationship between her and Walter, I loved. Their scene together in the finale made me cry.

red-vines

I definitely would have liked more Charlie. And Gene the cow… duh. We always need more Gene.

gene-takeout

The Glyphs

You know those symbols that come up for each commercial break (and are also sprinkled throughout the show as Easter eggs)? They’re there for a reason! If you’re a die-hard fan you already know, but for the uninitiated, these glyphs are part of a code. Each one stands for a letter, depending on both the symbol and the placement of the the yellow orb around it, and when you put the glyphs together for each episode, they spell out a word pertaining to either the current episode or foreshadowing something for the next episode. Sometimes they’re vague, sometimes they’re obvious, but they’re fun! If you’re going through the series, you can download the Fringe glyph add for iPhone or Android to crack the code every episode. I think this was a really unique twist to the show that just adds another layer of intrigue to it.

fringe-glyphs

The Title Sequences

You know how most shows just have one basic title sequence that looks the same week after week, year after year? Not Fringe! They had several! Since everything after the initial blue sequence contains spoilers for plot points in the show, I made all of those white.

Blue Sequence: This is the first title sequence we get, which lists a plethora of fringe sciences, many of which would be included in the show.

Retro Sequence: For the two episodes set in 1985, “Peter” and “Subject 13,” where we learn more about Walter discovering the alternate universe and the immediate consequences, a retro-looking version of the Fringe title sequence rolled out the fringe sciences of yesteryear, many of which are now a reality. 

Red Sequence: The red title sequence represents an episode that prominently takes place in the alternate universe, AKA the Redverse. In “Entrada,” we see a mix of the blue and red sequences as the two universes got more equal episode time. This sequence also includes what is considered fringe sciences in the Redverse. 

fringe-titlesequence

Gray Sequence: The gray sequence was for the season 3 finale episode “The Day We Died,” in which we see a possible future where the Redverse has been destroyed and the Blueverse is on the brink of going down the same path. This sequence includes what is considered fringe sciences in this possible future timeline. 

Amber Sequence: This was for season four, to indicate an altered timeline where Peter actually died as a boy. Most of the fringe sciences listed are not too unlike those from the initial sequence, though they are new words. 

Future Sequence: This is the sequence for “Letters of Transit” and all of season 5, set in the future where the Observers have taken over. It’s scary to think that things like “private thought” are considered fringe in this future. 

The Storylines & The Message

There were so many… where does one begin?! I will now get my biggest gripe about Fringe out there now, and that is that I think it had the tendency to bite off more than it could chew. Sometimes it tried to set something up, only for the “answer” to feel weak and incomplete (First People, Sam Weiss, Mr. X, John Scott, ZFT, etc.) or to not be followed through at all (Olivia’s stepfather, Big Eddie, Rachel and Ella, Etta on invasion day, etc.). And then there were things that they tried to build up as really epic (SPOILER Peter is completely erased from the timeline! END SPOILER) but then it turns out to not be nearly as big as we thought (SPOILER Well not so much erased but more like he died when he was a boy after all so you guys never knew him, but he’ll come back because love conquers all… END SPOILER). As much as I loved so many of the intriguing story arcs throughout the series, most of them honestly did not deliver as fully as I would have liked. In fact, entire seasons were dedicated to many of these plot points, and while they all ended on pretty high and mostly satisfactory notes, I was still left with more questions than answers.

But this series is very much about one thing, and it’s good to know this if you haven’t started watching yet: it’s about LOVE.

The love between a father and son. Between friends. Between lovers. Between a mother and  daughter. It’s about how far you would go to save someone you love, or to be with them.

And it’s about humanity. This is something you’ll especially see as you get to the end of season five, that the show is asking questions about what makes us human. And that’s why it’s good sci-fi, a good show, and worth investing your time in it.

The characters are wonderfully flawed and quirky and intelligent and caring. And when the show’s over, you honestly feel like you’ve become disconnected from an amazing group of friends.

But don’t just take my word for it. Take Walter’s word for it. Watch Fringe…

because-its-coolAnd I still feel like I have only scratched the surface here! What about Massive Dynamic and Nina and Broyles and William Bell and Brandon and the shapeshifters and LSD and the Observers and everything else?! There’s just so much!!!

May I also recommend The Fringe Podcast as a supplement to your watching? It’s wonderfully fun, informative, and insightful. My experience would not have been the same without it.

Also see: Fringe reviews for seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Are you a future Fringe fan or a current one? (There are no other options, BTW.) Tell me what you love about the show or what about it has piqued your interest! 

Review: Fringe Season Five

I can’t believe it’s over. That I finished Fringe and have seen all that there is to be seen of the dynamic team of Olivia, Peter, and Walter. I’ll admit, I was slugging through this last season, only 13 episodes long. Maybe because it was accepting the end, maybe it was because I was watching TV shows live again (mostly that), but there was also the fact that for quite a while, I wasn’t motivated to watch season 5 because I felt sort of meh about it. Thankfully, the last few episodes and the finale finally delivered. WARNING: Don’t read further if you haven’t watched the series. THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW!

fringe-5So this is how season four ended…

they-are-comingI knew that the season 4 episode “Letters of Transit” was a glimpse into the future world that we would be visiting for season 5, so September’s words were certainly ominous. The Observers were coming, but why were they going to be so evil? September seems pretty nice! I was curious to find out, but cautiously optimistic. The world portrayed in “Letters of Transit” was quite grim, after all. And that definitely did not stop once season 5 got kicked off. The Fringe team, having been trapped in amber for 20 years, is reunited thanks to Etta, Peter and Olivia’s now grown daughter who they lost the day the Observers invaded.

Rant #1: Peter and Olivia spend a lot of time asking each other, “What happened to Etta that day? Where did she go?” BUT THEY NEVER ASK HER! At least, not on-screen, and they should have, because I wanted to know too! Obviously someone raised her, and she was raised as such that she came to hate the Observers/Invaders and joined the Resistance. But we NEVER find out what happened to her!

Walter hid tapes in the ambered Harvard Lab that would reveal the details of the plan to defeat the Observers.  The Fringe team must retrieve, watch, and follow these tapes to the letter. So for several episodes, they are basically on a scavenger hunt with a vague objective in mind, meanwhile Peter and Olivia struggle with their relationship and with how to relate to the daughter they barely knew.

I never felt the connection to Etta that I wanted. When she died, I was sad, but I wasn’t devastated, and in fact, I felt that the story really picked up after she died. I guess her death was motivation to help the Fringe team stop their lollygagging around, but still, I think I was supposed to be more emotionally connected. I mean, there were definitely some nice moments between Olivia and Etta, but there could have been more, or at least stronger, moments. Though the running theme with the bullet was poignant.

etta-bullet

Rant #2: For a 13 episode season that was described by the show’s producers as being essentially “one long movie,” it has terrible pacing.

The first episode that I think REALLY piqued my interest a lot was episode 6, “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There,” the episode where we learn that the boy from the season one episode “Inner Child” is an important part of the plan and the Fringe team travels to a “pocket universe” to retrieve him, but instead end up with a radio.  Then I felt the story lagged for another couple of episodes (though there are some nice moments in “The Human Kind”) where we have to deal with

Rant #3: the Peter-becoming-an-Observer-and-it-is-really-dangerous-and-scary-but-the-only-after-effects-from-it-are-a-couple-bad-headaches subplot,

until “Black Blotter.” That’s when, despite Walter’s LSD trip induced state of mind that provided some unnecessary weirdness (along with a very necessary emotional check-up of Walter’s subconscious), we finally seemed to move forward with the story. They get the boy! They call him Michael! He’s an Observer anomaly who was never fully matured and was set to be destroyed! They find Donald! AND DONALD, AKA SEPTEMBER WHO IS UNOBSERVERFIED AND HAS HAIR NOW, IS HIS FATHER!

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Feels…

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Michael, I am your father…

Needless to say, “Black Blotter” through the end of the season easily get 4.99 stars for me for being so awesome and emotionally satisfying.

Speaking of emotionally satisfying, “Liberty” brought the Redverse back briefly (which I hated so freaking much in season 3 but thanks to season 4 did not hate anymore…) and just look how cute Fauxlivia and Lincoln are!

fauxlivia-lincolnleeI’m so glad I got to see Lincoln Lee one more time.

So the finale. It tied up all the loose-ends from season 5 (except I’m dying to know what happened to William Bell. Was he left in amber without a hand? Or did the Observers get him out when they got Simon? If so, what happened? Was he interrogated? Is he running around ready to cause havoc to the timeline all over again?). It did not tie up all the storylines and questions from throughout the series though, which I sensed would be the case basically from the first episode of season 5, when the focus was clearly not on the past. So while I’m disappointed I will never fully understand the deal with ZFT, The First People, Sam Weiss (though I was glad he was at least alluded to this season), John Scott, Olivia’s stepfather, and more, it wasn’t disappointing enough to say that the finale wasn’t the right ending for the series, because it was.

My first reaction to the timeline reset: I wasn’t surprised. I had expected as much, especially thanks to The Fringe Podcast I listened to along the way where they theorized this frequently. But I kept thinking that a reset in the park didn’t make sense if the Observers ceased to exist, and that the timeline change for our Fringe team members would have to start in 1985 with September not showing up in the lab to distract Walternate. And then that would change EVERYTHING and invalidate THE ENTIRE SERIES (of course, only the fourth season really means anything now, though I am SO GLAD that Walter got the memories Peter and Olivia have of seasons 1-3, even if it all still seems convoluted to me). But also thanks to The Fringe Podcast, I heard some different ideas of how this might work and some explanations of time paradoxes and such, but it’s all too much for my brain to truly comprehend.

But there the very final moment made it all worth it for me.

white-tulip“White Tulip” is easily  one of my favorite episodes of all of Fringe, and how the writers used the symbol throughout the show and then tied it all back in the end was just WOW. It was the most fitting, perfect, beautiful ending Fringe could have given me.

Random Star Trek: Enterprise Rant: Brannon and Braga and Rick Berman: I hope you watched Fringe and took notes.

Season 5 was not perfect. It needed more Astrid. It needed better pacing. It needed more answers about Etta. But the finale did deliver and while it did not do everything I wanted for the series, I think it probably did everything I needed, and I can’t really imagine it being any other way.

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Though I can’t deny I was hoping for a little bit more with Gene…

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What were your thoughts on Season 5 of Fringe? Also, I’ll be doing a recap post of the entire series sometime in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned, Fringies! 

Science Fiction World Building

In science fiction, the story sometimes takes place on a world or galaxy we don’t know. Other times, it takes place on our world (or includes our world), but it’s set in the future and the rules have changed. Either way though, the building of the world for a good science fiction story is key.

To create a world or galaxy from scratch, like George Lucas did with Star Wars, is pretty amazing. I remember when Episode I came out, and I got one of those picture encyclopedia things about the movie. I was fascinated to learn that Amidala’s hairstyle, clothing, makeup, all stood for something in her culture. It wasn’t just random, but there was this whole other story behind what she wore and the rituals she performed. I didn’t know it yet, but I was intrigued by world building.

Queen-amidalaSome stories that use our world also create new worlds and alien species, such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Ender’s Game. Sometimes they choose to focus on one other species, like Ender’s Game, and in this case, they are viewed as an enemy. In Babylon 5, there are more species, and a handful of them are ones Earth has made peace with, though unfortunately there was war before peace when it came to some, and still quarrels within the alliance they have formed. And then with Star Trek the number of species out there seems as infinite as the galaxy, from the Klingons to the Vulcans to the Cardassians to the Breen to the Xindi, some who are friends, some who are foes, some who have played as both.

Xindi

The Xindi are especially unique because they have five different species within their own kind.

But there’s more to the world building than the aliens, of course. They create Earth histories that gap the period of time between now and then, and these gaps always seem to include wars. World War III is a common one to be seen, but there’s also wars between us and aliens, and then one that I find particularly fascinating in the Star Trek universe: the Eugenics War. Which if you think you know about Khan from Into Darkness, check out The Original Series’ episode “Space Seed” and the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to learn more about his past and his involvement with said war.

khan-crewThen there are the stories that feel closer to our time and that take place on Earth, but society has changed. The Island and Gattaca are two great movies (that will be discussed in more detail in a future post) that answer “what if” questions. Fringe focuses on strange things happening in our current world, and leads both the characters on the show and us to believe that there could be a lot more to what’s possible in our world than what we think of on the surface.

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Some creepy creature the Fringe team found.

Then there’s Firefly, which doesn’t focus on aliens but humans, but they travel in space and have been spread across the galaxy, and war has separated people to either side with the Alliance or with the Browncoats. The story has a Wild West in space feel to it and Chinese and American cultures, as the only superpowers left, have blended, which also adds an interesting element to the world of the show.

kaylee-parasolAnother great thing about science fiction is the technology. It can play a significant role in the world of the story, and even influence the technology of our world Who doesn’t want a lightsaber or wish they could just teleport to their destination? Star Trek, and I’m sure other science fiction stories as well, have actually influenced our progression of technology, which I think is awesome.

star-trek-techBut I feel all this barely scratches the surface on world building elements, as well as the great worlds seen, in science fiction stories. So I ask you: What science fiction story’s world building has captured your attention the most? What elements of world building in science fiction do you particularly enjoy seeing?

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Review: Fringe Season Four

Two words for season four: Lincoln Lee.

lincoln-lee-blueWarning: I can’t talk about this season without talking spoilers. So don’t read this unless you’ve already seen Fringe season 4. Seriously.

fringe_season_4Season 4, how I love you. And yet I also hate you. I don’t hate you as much as season 3, which I guess doesn’t actually exist anymore thanks to you, but did you have to go and erase seasons 1 and 2 too? White Tulip, one of my absolute faves, means basically nothing anymore? But oh, thank you for more Lincoln Lee, and specifically Blueverse Lincoln.

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Red Lincoln and Blue Lincoln meet.

At the end of season 3, Peter disappears and no one remembers him. We find out that he’s been “erased from the timeline,” as the Observers put it (which turned out to be total bull – dying early does not constitute being completely erased from time, but I digress). So season 4 starts with the Fringe team, without Peter. Everything feels off. Walter is even a little more nutty without Peter there, and Olivia actually seems a bit more confident but also a little empty, and Astrid is basically the same but the role she plays is a little different. Things carry on with glimmers of Peter trying to get back, or at least that’s the way it seems (later we find out it’s really love conquering all). Meanwhile, they work on a shapeshifter case that kills Blueverse Lincoln Lee (who apparently they had not met in this timeline)’s partner, and he ends up coming in  to work with the Fringe division. Before Peter appears, Olivia says “no way” to Astrid about dating Lincoln , but then she seems to be reconsidering, even after the mysterious Peter that no one remembers returns…

And somehow, I, who have been Team Peter and Olivia since Season 1, suddenly found myself seriously shipping Lincoln and Olivia. He was so shy and cute and sweet around her I JUST COULDN’T HELP IT. Seth Gabel, the writers, the directors, the producers, THEY DID IT TO ME. (Sidenote: I specifically wanted this version of Lincoln to end up with this version of Olivia. I still wanted Peter to be able to go back to “his Olivia.”)

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Lincoln around Olivia.

Needless to say, I was frustrated when September told Peter that he was in the right universe/timeline/whatever-the-crap-this-amber-colored-title-sequence-place-is, that he had no where to go back to. “A Short Story About Love” was obviously supposed to make me feel happy but instead it made me feel like this:

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I’m pretty sure this is how Lincoln felt too.

But we’ll get back to this whole Lincoln subplot thing. I want to address other issues I have with this season. Like, the fact that for everyone who isn’t Peter, and sort of Olivia, it erases everything we’ve seen about them before on the show. And then for Olivia, that she forgets about this whole other life where she got away from her crazy and abusive stepfather and was raised by a nice Nina. And then poor Walter, he doesn’t have the same benefits of knowing this Peter and knowing that God’s forgiven him.

And then the crazy weird inconsistencies this created when we decide to re-do cases from season 1, where somehow magically, the same guy wearing the same shirt with the same people on the same flight of the same plane has almost the same thing happen to him four years later than originally when Peter was around. What? I try to justify it happening later due to a change of plans with David Robert Jones and William Bell due to Peter’s premature death, but that still doesn’t justify SAME CLOTHES SAME PEOPLE SAME FLIGHT SAME PLANE other than the obvious reason: budget.

But let’s talk about something positive this whole catawampus storyline shift did, and that is the return of David Robert Jones.

fringe-DRJonesDRJ is a great villain, and I felt his first story arc in Fringe was a little unsatisfactory, so I was happy to see more of him. So yay for more DRJ! But I am still a little unsatisfied with the conclusion of his overall story, especially since we never get the answers to his connection with ZFT (does it still exist is this timeline, or did Peter somehow change that too? Or does this come up in season 5?). However, having his second demise somewhat reflect his first was great. And I don’t really understand how the shapeshifters were going to play a role in Jones’ and Bell’s new world.

Speaking of that, what is up with totally whacked-out crazy William Bell?!

William-BellI hope there will be more answers about Bell in season 5. I really liked the old Bell better though…

Now, back to another positive thing about this season with the new timeline: Walternate and Fauxlivia are much nicer! Guys, in season 3 I hated Fauxlivia with a passion. I hated her at least as much as I hated Walternate. I don’t think Fauxlivia was inherently more evil in season 3, but she quickly chose to take that turn, I think largely because of Walternate and Newton’s influence. (Sidenote: I found Newton’s end in season 3 also unsatisfactory. Basically, I don’t like the way Fringe ends the storylines of their villains. Except Harris.)

So, this brings me back to Lincoln. After Redverse Lincoln dies, he decides to stay in the Redverse, presumably in part to see how things go with Fauxlivia. And while I wanted Redverse Lincoln and Redverse Olivia to hook up, and I wanted Blueverse Lincoln to feel wanted and needed… as a compromise… I think this might be OK with me.

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How you doing?

Mostly, I want Lincoln to be happy. I’m just sad he isn’t a regular in season 5. *Cries*

lincoln-peterYou’re a good guy, Lincoln Lee. *Cries again*

Here’s Gene with a FBI hat to make me feel better:

fbi-geneI don’t know how to rate this season. Some of it I really liked, but some of it frustrated me. I gave season three, which I felt the same way about, 4.5 stars, but I still can’t decide if I like this season more or less than season 3. I do want to give kudos to a finale that really wrapped up the season nicely, and that even made me like Peter and Olivia being back together again (after basically hating them being together from “A Short Story About Love” up until “Brave New World Part 1,” minus “Letters of Transit,” in which we don’t actually see them together but we see their daughter). It’s either 4 stars or 4.5, but I don’t know which quite yet. So I’ll just leave us with this still from the season 4 gag reel:

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Joshua: “Welcome to the gag reel, Seth Gabel.”

Help me out with my rating! How do you feel season 4 compares to the others? Were you as frustrated by new timeline stuff as I was? Are you a Lincoln Lee fan? 

Sci-Fi Month Intro Post!

It’s November, which means it’s Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn Reads! I was very excited when I found out about this event, as the sci-fi genre has been creeping into my life in the form of movies and TV for well over a decade now. It all started with…

star-warsOf course! I thought it was a lot of fun! And then one day I caught a marathon on TV of this show…

The-Twilight-ZoneAnd fell in love with this particular kind of science fiction that examines humanity. Then while dating my husband he introduced me to…

Star-Trek1We watched the original series while dating, and after TRYING to watch the first few episodes of The Next Generation (those first few episodes really are pretty bad), we put the rest of the series on hold until after we married. But now I’ve seen it all and love them all! But in the meantime, we were introduced to…

fireflycastSuch a unique and awesome (but sadly short-lived) series! Then after we finished Star Trek, we watched…

babylon5It’s crazy underrated. I mean seriously, how many TV shows do you know of where the creator/writer of the show had the entire series plotted and planned out beforehand? Amazing story and character arcs in five seasons (or four… the fifth season sadly didn’t live up to the rest of the show in terms of great stories). And currently we’re watching…

Fringe-season2Most of these movies/shows will come up again in my posts this month! And now I’m starting to gain interest in sci-fi books as well, though I think the only true sci-fi book I’ve read so far is Ender’s Game. I liked it pretty well and I’m planning to check out more sci-fi books! But since I will not be reading anything new this month due to NaNoWriMo, I will have no new reviews of sci-fi books to share, and will be focusing exclusively on the movies and TV shows that made me fall in love with the genre over time. Here’s my personal schedule of posts that you can look out for:

November 7: Elements from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine I Want to See in Books

November 11: Ender’s Game movie review

November 18: Memorable Characters of Sci-Fi

November 22: Science Fiction World Building

November 27: My Top 3 Earth-Bound Sci-Fi Movies

And since I love to share Trek with all and didn’t want to re-write the post for Sci-Fi month, I thought I’d take this chance to refer anyone new to my post from several months ago about how to dive into the world of Star Trek, Your Star Trek Introduction, in case you’re interested!

If you’re participating in Sci-Fi Month as well, leave a comment and let me know! And if not, I hope you’ll enjoy some of these posts!

What’s your favorite element of science fiction? 

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The Top 10 TV Character Names I Came to Love

Last week for Top Ten Tuesday I explored the Top 10 Book Character Names I Came to Love. Because I enjoyed creating the list so much, I decided to do it again for TV characters!

1. Peter, Fringe

peter-fringeBecause it’s similar to Peeta, but more legit? Or because of Joshua Jackson’s portrayal of his character Peter on Fringe? All of the above.

2. Olivia, Fringe

olivia-fringeOlivia is a nice classic and feminine name, but I used to think it sounded a little old. It has seemed to gain some popularity lately though, and Olivia from Fringe really made me appreciate it more.

3. Lincoln, Fringe

lincoln-lee2I was already kind of liking the name Lincoln, and even came up with the name for a character in a story. I also had a friend name her son Lincoln (and he’s totally adorable). Then Lincoln Lee came along on Fringe and made me like it more! I like that it’s unique without being strange.

4. Julian, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

bashirIs Julian a girly name for a guy? I don’t know, I can’t decide! But I love Dr. Bashir and he kind of made me like the name Julian.

5. Tucker (from Charles “Trip” Tucker), Star Trek: Enterprise

tripTrip Tucker is my favorite character from Enterprise – a Southern(ish) boy with a lot of personality. I think his last name works well as a first name.

6. Jadzia, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

jadzia2No, I would not name my child Jadzia. But I really want someone else to, and I will give them much kudos. It’s just a fun name for a fun character.

7. Kate, Castle

kate-beckettFor some reason, I don’t really care for nicknames. Maybe it’s because the name Amy isn’t conducive for nicknames, who knows. I’ve always liked the name Kathryn, which is Kate’s actual name, but Kate made me like Kate.

8. Ryan (from Kevin Ryan), Castle

ryanWait, this was on your list last week! Wait! You said you already loved the name Ryan! All true, but it’s my list, so I do what I want to. Besides, Ryan’s a fun character.

9. Kaylee, Firefly

kayleeI already like the named Kaylee pretty well before watching Firefly, but Kaylee from Firefly just made me love it more.

10. Jayne (but NOT for a guy), Firefly

Jayne_With_HatBetween Jane Austen stories and Firefly, I came to appreciate the “plain” name Jane more, particularly with the spelling Jayne. But Jayne in Firefly is a bitter guy, and I definitely would not do that to my son.

What about you? What are your favorite TV character names?

Review: Fringe, Season Three

Two words for season three: roller coaster. This season was filled with some serious up’s and down’s. There were two episodes that made me extremely upset, to the point where I almost wanted to give up on it all, and yet by sticking through it there was a pretty decent pay-off. The pay-off at the end of this season wasn’t quite as stellar as, let’s say, Babylon 5’s season three, but it did help me realize that the writers really did know what they were doing.

Fringe-season3Basically, it would be impossible to talk specifics about the story line of season three and not give anything away, so I’ll touch lightly on a few episodes and characters I enjoyed this season. As far as new (or fairly new) faces go, I really enjoyed Henry the cab driver and Lincoln Lee.

henryHenry initially appears in the first episode of the season, “Olivia.” And though he’s a major part of the episode, it’s easy to assume he won’t be seen again. But thankfully, we do! And it’s amazing how such a small character role can have such a good character arc. In the few episodes we see Henry, we see his compassion, how his concern towards Olivia grows, and he discovers things about the world that not everyone knows, even if he doesn’t know all the details. He might be just a cab driver to most passerbyers, but we as the audience get to learn about him as a person, and he’s pretty awesome.

lincoln-leeWe are introduced to Lincoln Lee at the end of season two, and he seems like a decent guy, but that was pretty much all I thought of him for a while. But then the episodes “Stowaway” and “Bloodline” made me really start to love him as a character. Spoiler in white (highlight to see): Stowaway introducing our side’s Lincoln Lee was definitely huge for me. I just loved how different he was from the other side’s Lincoln Lee, and yet saw the similarities as well. I really loved that ours was so straight-laced though, and how he interacted with Peter. And then in Bloodline, when we went back to the other side’s Lincoln Lee, I saw how great he was too; how compassionate and loving he was underneath that tough exterior. 

Subject-13The first half of the second season deals with the story that left off in the season two finale, and the second half of the seasons deals with the consequences within the interpersonal relationships of the characters. “Entrada” was a favorite of mine as it seemed to resolve so much, only for some of it to somewhat unravel on me again! “The Firefly” was a fascinating look at repercussions caused from the decisions we make in life. We got more background in the characters’ lives with another flashback episode reminiscent of “Peter,” with “Subject 13.” I found “Bloodline” strangely moving for someone who was not a fan of “Immortality” for… uh… reasons (hopefully this will make sense for those who have seen the season; I’m just trying to stay vague!). “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” was not a favorite but it was an out-of-the-box sort of episode that ended with an interesting twist that I’m still waiting for more answers on at the start of season four.

fringe-lsdAnd same with the last three episodes of the season, which felt like one arc that launched us into season four with some half-answers that left me still wanting more! And while it was a good, solid pay-off, I still cannot help but forget some of the frustrations of the season. While this season is clearly better than the second in many ways, it also angered me more. Perhaps this could be seen as a testament of the writers’ amazing ability to get under my skin and give me ALL THE FEELS (not to mention the amazing acting done by everyone on the cast), but I have decided to dock it half a star and go with a 4.5 star rating, the same as last season.

4-5stars-editI’m only two episodes into Season Four and basically nothing has been resolved, so I’m really anxious to see how it all turns out. I’m also becoming more and more glad I can watch these episodes back to back and without hiatuses!

If you’ve seen season three of Fringe, tell me your thoughts! Did you have as much of a love/hate relationship with it as I did?