Ready for new TV shows yet?

It’s possible I may be watching more TV shows this season, having just reviewed the published schedule for the upcoming Fall season.

Last year, my TV viewing was pretty limited. I regularly watched White Collar, Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones and NCIS/NCIS LA. And, yes, okay, I also was watching cartoons — Ultimate Spiderman, Avengers, The Clone Wars. A couple of these shows, I both watched on TV and subscribed via iTunes (White Collar, Ultimate Spiderman). I knew I would want a permanent copy of them, and I’d rather have the shows in a digital format, to entertain me when traveling and to cut down on the clutter in my home. Although I really wish the deleted scenes could be an option when you subscribe on iTunes — you know, buy the season and when the DVDs come out, we’ll automatically download the extras to you. Maybe someday.

Otherwise, I watched Netflix when I wanted to be entertained, working my way through TV shows I’d never had a chance to see, or rewatching favorite episodes from shows like The West Wing. However, when I looked at this year’s schedule, not only were there several new shoes to interest me, but there were actual timing conflicts between shows I want to watch, which hasn’t happened for at least five years except for a couple of weeks when NCIS LA runs against White Collar (and White Collar wins that one, every time).

So what will I be watching this upcoming year?

Monday, FOX will be running a show called Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane — and the Headless Horseman — wake up in our time. Headless is apparently another kind of Horseman — as in, a rider for the Apocalypse — and Ichabod must battle him and save Sleepy Hollow. Could be a good show, could be wretchedly horrible, but it’s got an interesting premise at least.

Tuesday I will be planted in front of the TV for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. There is no way on this or any other planet I would miss that show — Agent Coulson returns from the dead! (You knew Fury was a lying liar who lies, right?). I’ll also be subscribing to it on iTunes, if that’s an option. And in a rare move for me, buying the DVDs once they come out. What can I say, I’m a comics girl and a Marvel comics girl in particular. Also a devoted member of the Coulson fan club.

The show runs at 8 pm on ABC, though, which is going to conflict with CBS’s NCIS. And I’m sorry, Gibbs, Ducky and all — Marvel wins on this one; your show will have to be either recorded or more likely, pulled off On Demand. I’ll switch over to USA for White Collar when it’s on, or CBS for NCIS LA when White Collar’s on break or running at 10 pm.

Wednesday gives me another pair of conflicts. Because I was promoted at work last year, I missed the premieres of Arrow and Revolution. I finally caught up with Arrow mid-season, and I really liked it (what can I say, comics girl whose first love was Hawkeye, alright?). So I’d planned to watch Arrow again this year, and possibly Revolution as well, once I’d worked my way through the first season and decided if I enjoyed it enough to devote time to it.

Wouldn’t you know it, they’ve put the two shows up against one another at 8 pm. Arrow will probably win out.

And then, I’ve got another choice to make. I’ve been watching Criminal Minds on CBS since the second season, when Lost did its many-months-long mid-season break and lost a bunch of viewers, including me. Naturally, at the same time comes The Tomorrow People, a remake of a venerated British show. The Tomorrow People are the next evolution of humanity — men and women who come into their powers of telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation around puberty. Sound familiar, Marvel fans? The name tomorrow people has been used by Marvel to describe the X-Men. So now I have to chose between a show that I love and I show I suspect I will love. Ah, well, at least I won’t be bored, right?

Thursday, there’s The Big Bang Theory and then nothing much.

Friday, and I cannot believe I’m actually saying this, I may seriously have to watch Dracula on NBC. It’s a different take (supposedly), where the infamous vampire is more of a hero, or at least not so much of a bad guy. Dracula was actually the first ‘horror’ book I ever read, and I think I imprinted on it. I’ve caught every movie and TV remake, religiously, no matter how badly written, terribly acted and/or outrageous the plot. I can’t stop now.

Saturday, nothing and I’m not usually home anyway, and Sunday, there’s nothing all that much interesting (to me) except for Spiderman. I’ll catch the occasional episode of something on PBS, and Game of Thrones when it returns.

But seriously, if I follow this schedule, I’ll be watching twice as much TV as I did last year, the exact opposite of the reputed national trend toward watching less TV each year.

What can I say, I’m a rebel who’s never followed a trend in her life.


Surfing the Star Wars Universe

The wonderful worlds of George Lucas’ Star Wars are a total jumble in my head.

Star Wars, and in particular the Jedi, are a bit of an obsession for me. George Lucas created a world that is ever-expanding at an ever-increasing pace. Fans were sucked into this universe with the first trilogy, accompanied by comics from Marvel and a couple of books, but once the trilogy completed itself, things — stopped. The story seemed over and then, almost tentatively, a book was released that picked up after Return of the Jedi. And then another book, and another, and next things fans knew we were being run over by a veritable onslaught of novels to read. Not just single books, but trilogies, and linked stories, books for adults and for children.

George made another three movies, chronicling the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire which Luke and Leia and Han defeated. I know that some people hate the new movies; others love them more than the originals. Me? I’m an equal opportunity fan — I adore the classic simplicity and design of the original movies, while cheering the ornateness and broad range of aliens in the prequels. Truth be told, I may be slightly more fond of the prequels — heresy, I know, to many, but hey! There’s a lot more Jedi swinging lightsabers during the romanticized Old Republic era — and as you can tell from the name of this blog, I love pointy things and romance.

Now, of course, with Disney taking the helm of Lucasfilm, fans are promised six or more new movies, another TV show, and yet another expansion of the Star Wars Universe. While I decry the slowdown in the creation of new action figures (hey, Hasbro, I want more Jedi!), I cannot wait to see where Star Wars goes from here.

Meanwhile, as I said, I am a devoted Star Wars fan. In my hunger for new stories, I read fan fiction — there are some lovely, epic-length sagas out there. I have even been known to write the occasional story of my own, in a genre that can only be described as ‘crack’ or ‘cracked’ (how else to classify a story in which Ewoks drive — and crash — a Senatorial pod?).

My desks and computers are guarded by Jedi action figures, while I not-so-secretly plan how to turn my somewhat unartistic talents to making figures of the Jedi who have yet to be modeled by Hasbro. And yes, I am one of those fans who lobbied for an action figure of Jocasta Nu. Gotta love the librarian.

Most importantly, I’ve read all the books and most of the graphic novels that expand on, and fill in the gaps of, the existing movies and the Clone Wars TV shows, so that the narrative created by Mr. Lucas never ends. It seems a new novel comes out every couple of months. Fortunately, I’m a fast reader.

I am, though, also a bit of a confused reader. I’ve read the comics and books as I got to them, not as they came out — and not in any particular chronological order. So I jumped from Luke wandering the galaxy with his son in search of the lost Sith tribe back to the pre-Republic era of Revan and then forward to the adventures of Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. I cruised through the rise of the Empire with Darth Maul and then surfed back and forth between the battles of the Clone Wars and the battles against the Yuuzhon Vong.

My head is a giant bin filled with names, places, events and relationships, and while I know who goes where and why, I feel like I’ve missed something in my scattershot approach to reading the novels. So, for relaxation, I’ve decided to start re-reading the novels in chronological order. Fortunately, there’s a list so I don’t have to go crazy trying to figure out what juvenile book fits where between the adult and graphic novels.

I’m in no particular hurry; I’m doing this because I want to savor, slowly, a world I fell in love with years ago. I’ve started all the way back at the beginning with, fittingly, the latest book, “Into the Void.” I plan to read for at least 30 minutes a night, just to relax. Thirty minutes, for me, can translate into several chapters. Wonder if I’ll reach the end of the Universe before the end of the year?

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. novels and short stories need to be digitized.  Someone, please, put them into an e-pub or mobi format, make them formally available on Kindle/Nook, pdf them as a last resort.

Because they’re simply too much fun to languish in obscurity. 

And they should do it now, as, once again, there are plans afoot to make a movie about this wonderful show.

I discovered The Man From U.N.C.L.E. years ago, when someone had me watch a few episodes he had on tape, and immediately I was smitten.  It had a unique format for its time — an American (Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn) and a Russian (Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum), at the height of the Cold War, working together in a multi-national agency (the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) to protect the world from harm.  Ian Fleming, the creator of “Bond, James Bond,” was involved in crafting the show’s premise, which was originally to center around Solo — although that had to be altered when David McCallum’s character attracted the attention of fans.

I understand that UNCLE was the inspiration for my beloved SHIELD (of Marvel comics fame), which is itself soon to be a TV show in its own right.   

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. only ran for four years in the mid-1960’s, spinning off a short-lived sister show, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.  After being unavailable for years, the episodes finally were released on DVD and then digitally.  I promptly bought the DVDs, and as part of my decluttering, I’m slowly adding the digital versions on my iTunes account.  Although some people dislike the latter part of the second season and the third season for being more campy and outlandish, the show overall is one that is always fun to watch, feature interesting characters (including the ‘innocent of the week’) and a number of well-known actor guest-stars.  Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner appeared in the same episode — two years before they created sci-fi history in Star Trek.

It’s one of those shows where every episode has something in it that I like.  The action, the plot (no matter how outrageous) or simply the snarky commentary by Kuryakin and Solo.  Literally, there isn’t an episode that I don’t enjoy.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had a number of merchandise tie-ins — games, toys, action figures (I hope to someday see one of those!), comics (I actually have found some, courtesy of my local comics store, and will, I vow, have them all!), and above all, novels and a monthly magazine that featured original stories about Solo and Kuryakin.

And it is those stories I want to be able to read in a digital format.

Altogether, there were 23 tie-in novels (well, 24 really, but more on that in a bit), and a number of short stories published over 2 years in the monthly magazine.  There were also a couple of books published for The Girl, a standalone called ‘the ABCs of Espionage’, etc.   And with one exception, none of them are available in a digital format.

And that’s a shame, because if you liked the series, you really do need to read the books.  As a rule, they generally followed the format of the show (even down to having the requisite ‘innocent’ character to be placed in danger, and calling each book ‘The (insert name) Affair’, just as almost every episode was named an ‘affair’).  The books were more explicit than the show in how they depicted the violence of a ‘spy’s life’), and in my opinion, you really do have to read them to have the full ‘UNCLE’ experience.

My personal favorite is book number 6,  The Vampire AffairAn UNCLE agent is found dead in a forest in Transylvania, drained of blood.  Napoleon and Illya are dispatched to investigate and along the way meet the descendant of Dracula.  The ending is a killer — in that they may actually have been dealing with a real vampire!

Over the years, through used bookstores and yard-sales, I’ve managed to get most of the 23 published books.  I’m still hunting for 19, 20, 22 and 23, as well as the books from The Girl.  I can always pick them up off Amazon, although the books I’m searching for can be rather expensive, as there seem to have been fewer of them published.  There was a 24th novel planned, but the series was cancelled and so it never made it into formal publication.  At some point, it ended up published as a pdf file online, and I’ve since managed to snag that file.  I’ve even come up with a few of the magazines.

But, as carefully as you care for these books, they are 50+ years old.  And while my copies still are tightly-bound in their bindings, the pages are discoloring, and eventually, they’re going to begin crumbling.

And so I need them in a digital format, where I can indulge in reading them without worrying that a fragile page is going to rip.  While we’re at it, someone needs to gather the short stories/novellas published in the magazines in one place as well.

Especially since, it seems, we may sometime in the next few years actually get a movie version of the show.  There’ve been a number of attempts to get one filmed, but they always seem to fall through.  But given the recent popularity of films based off classic TV shows, it might be time for Napoleon and Illya to make their triumphant return, either as a remake in 1960’s style, or an updated version of the show.

Just as long as they pull the books and stories into digital print along with them.

A Week Without the Cable — Day 1

I have watched a lot of TV in my life — probably more than is good for me.  From Dark Shadows and Saturday morning cartoons, through weekend horror film fests and Doctor Who and into the series of the Eighties and Nineties, it would take quite a few pages to list all the shows I’ve seen. 

But there’s very little on the tube now that I want to watch, and so, in a grand (for me) experiment, today marks Day 1 of a week without TV

I realized a few years ago that I was becoming disenchanted with TV.  My cable network has 200-plus channels and it seemed like there was rarely something I wanted to watch.  Oh the TV was usually on, but it would often be running a repeat of something I’d already seen.  It was there more for background noise than any real entertainment.

I’m not a fan of reality shows; they can call it ‘reality’, but seriously, when you point a camera at someone, human nature will lead that person to ‘act’ out of character, and thus it’s no longer ‘reality’.  Even when it was a show I should theoretically like, I couldn’t get hooked on watching it consistently.  I’m a fan of swords and romance, as you can tell from the name of this page, so logic says a show like Knights of Mayhem would be something I would like.  And I tried, really, but it just didn’t hold my interest.  

The comedies I’ve sampled the last three years don’t resonate with my sense of humor.  The dramas all seemed to run together — let’s be honest, how many crime shows can you watch and still tell them apart?  Thanks to the scandals at the college and professional levels, I’ve abandoned watching most sports.  Even the historical and cultural programs failed me — most of the channels that used to broadcast these shows now have switched over to a steady stream of reality shows, and the few historical or cultural shows that are run are repeats I’ve already seen.

As part of this year of transition in my life, I decided to look honestly at my TV habits.  I found that I was actually watching very few shows, and in fact, would only be watching 2 or 3 in the future.  

Bedlam, Law & Order UK and Being Human either killed off my favorite characters or so decimated the cast that I no longer have any interest in following the shows.  Doctor Who and Torchwood aren’t on now, and who knows when, or if, they’ll return.   Luther is over.  Criminal Minds so screwed up the formula for the show last year that I lost all desire to see it.  Even the movies shown on HBO and the extended cable are either films I’ve seen or things I never wanted to view.

That leaves me with White Collar on USA, and then the second series of Game of Thrones on HBO.  And in a year when I’m aiming for fiscal responsibility and paying off debts — can I really justify $75-80 a month for the cable, plus the electricity from running the TV?  Especially now that Pennsylvania has deregulated the electric companies, and my rates are going up 15-20%?

Which brings me to this week.  I’m going without cable.  To make sure I stick with it, I disconnected the box and left it at the office.  I will reconnect it next week, so I can see the end of the White Collar season, but then, depending on how this week goes, I may just unplug for good. 

Let the fun begin.