What I Watched: Summer 2014

I'm offering this photo as proof that I did, in fact, go outside this summer.

I’m offering this photo as proof that I did, in fact, go outside this summer.

For those of us that like to spend just as much time indoors and in the air conditioning during the summer as outside by the pool or on the beach, the season is a good time to catch up on series that fell by the wayside or try out something new. In true TV/media addict fashion, I spent many of my weekends during the summer watching Netflix or heading out to the movie theater in order to catch some of the season’s biggest movies.

Since I haven’t been writing as many blogs this summer — and took a break from blogging for the entirety of August — I thought I should do a rundown of all the television series (both new and old), webseries, and movies I caught this season. Although this isn’t a comprehensive list, it’s certainly a highlight reel of some of my favorite — or not so favorite — shows, movies, webseries, that I watched this summer (aside from way too many celebrity ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos).

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4 Reasons To Love Sci-Fi B-Movies

Photo via Syfy

Photo via Syfy

Tonight is the event of the summer — or at least that’s what the Syfy network would have you believe. At 9 pm EST, Syfy will premiere the highly anticipated (read: heavily promoted) sequel to last summer’s surprise success: Sharknado. Though movie buffs (and generally everyone) thought Sharknado would be just another silly, campy, b-movie from the science fiction-themed network, it ended up taking social media by storm. On the night it premiered, Sharknado quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and users were generating 5,000 tweets per minute. Additionally, although Sharknado showed to a very modest viewership on its first night (1.4 million audience members), each time Syfy re-aired the b-movie, the number of people watching increased.

Photo via Syfy

Photo via Syfy

With the sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One, premiering tonight, the question on everyone’s — or, at least, my — mind is whether it will live up to its predecessor. From the trailers, it appears The Second One will offer more campy moments, more ridiculous science, and more hilarious lines of dialogue that are a common theme among sci-fi b-movies — they’re also a huge reason why I love this type of movie.

Although Sharknado and it’s followup arguably may be the most infamous science fiction b-movies of our time, they’re certainly not the only ones out there. If you scroll down to the bottom of the sci-fi/fantasy section on Netflix, you’re sure to find plenty of interesting titles — Metal Tornado, Arctic Blast, and Super Cyclone, just to name a few. These movies offer a fun experience for fans (both casual and diehard) of science fiction. Not convinced? I’ve got a few more reasons to love sci-fi b-movies.

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5 Favorite Alien Invasion Sci-Fi Movies

Photo via Paramount

Photo via Paramount

The alien invasion storyline predates film and goes back to the 19th century when HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds popularized the subgenre in 1897. It wasn’t until the 1950s that alien invasion films became prevalent: The Man from Planet X (1951), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and It Came from Outer Space (1953). Then in 1953, Wells’ novel was adapted to film, officially giving rise to the alien invasion subgenre in science fiction. Though these types of movies fall into sci-fi, many of them can also be classified as disaster films.

Personally, I’m a fan of all sci-fi/fantasy disaster movies ranging from the big budget tentpoles of the summer blockbuster season to the b-movie, bad CGI, bad acting, bad science sci-fi films that premiere on the Syfy network or go straight to DVD. Although I love natural disaster films like the upcoming Into the Storm, I’m breaking down disaster movies into a specific category this time around: alien invasion — for the sake of keeping this list relatively short, though, any films that also fall into the superhero/comic book genre have been left out. (Sorry, Marvel’s The Avengers!)

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6 Reasons ‘The 100’ is the Breakout Show of 2014

The 100 Poster

Photo via IMDB

Based on the novel of the same name by Kass Morgan, The 100 takes place nearly a century after a nuclear war wiped out most of life on Earth and left it a radiation-soaked wasteland. The survivors fled the planet and sustained the human race aboard a space station called the Ark. However, when it becomes apparent the Ark cannot support life for much longer, the Council decides to send 100 young offenders (since adult offenders are all executed) to the ground in order to ascertain whether Earth is habitable again.

The show follows the 100 as they try to make camp and survive on Earth despite antagonistic neighbors — which they call “grounders” — as well as those left behind on the Ark who must deal with their own problems as they monitor the 100 and the testy political situation of the space station.

The 100 centers on Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley), Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos), Finn Collins (Thomas McDonell), Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick), Monty Green (Christopher Larkin), and John Murphy (Richard Harmon) who make up the main group of the 100. Meanwhile, Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco), Thelonius Jaha (Isaiah Washington), and Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) are the central characters on the Ark. Other main characters include Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan) and the grounder Lincoln (Ricky Whittle).

The 100 Character Poster

Photo via The CW

The 100 is a complex sci-fi teen drama that completely surpasses many other series in both the teen and sci-fi genres. The pilot is a bit rough around the edges — check out my review — and suffers under the strains of explaining the complicated premise of the show, establishing the characters, and hooking the audience to keep them coming back for more. However, The 100 quickly transcends typical growing pains in new series, becoming highly compelling by the end of the third episode, and in the fifth episode completely surpasses expectations.

By the end of the show’s first season, it was clear that The 100 would be 2014’s breakout show — similar to My Mad Fat Diary last year. Not convinced? Here are six reasons The 100 is fantastic and the best new show on television.

[This post contains spoilers for the first season of The 100.]

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10 Most Anticipated Network Shows to Premiere Fall 2014

Photos via NY Daily News & The Hollywood Reporter

Photos via NY Daily News & The Hollywood Reporter

TV upfronts season is like your birthday–if your family celebrates your birthday by giving you some gifts you want and some stuff you absolutely do not want, while also keeping you in suspense over whether they’re going to take away and destroy some of your favorite toys/gadgets. But, whether you lost your favorite show in the greenlighting/cancelling melee that is upfronts season, there are plenty of shows hitting the silver screen this fall and winter to (possibly) fill the void left by finished or cancelled series. However, not all of these upcoming shows are going to be hits. While some, like Fox’s Gotham, are bound to get second seasons based on the buzz that’s already been building for months, others will fall by the wayside and may not even be worth checking out.

Photos via CBS & ABC

Photos via CBS & ABC

As someone who loves television, I try to check out as many pilots as possible, but in the current TV culture where there are more shows than days in the year, it’s hardly practical to watch the pilot of every single new series. Instead, I try to watch all the trailers and read all the synopses for upcoming series and pick out all the shows that seem to have potential. After this upfronts season, I find myself with 20 series to check out in the fall (on top of all the shows already on my watch list). From there, I’ve narrowed down those to the top ten of which pilots I’m most anticipating. While this is by no means a list of shows that will definitely, absolutely be successful, these are the ten pilots I’m most excited to watch.

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The 4 Best Adaptations of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’

Photo via NPR

Photo via NPR

Last summer and fall it seemed Hollywood had caught Yellow Brick Fever as many major TV networks — CBS, NBC, CW, and Syfy — were looking to adapt L. Frank Baum’s classic work of literature: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Syfy was developing a post-apocalyptic Oz with Warriors of Oz, NBC began progress on a “dark reimagining” called Emerald City, CBS was working on a medical drama titled Dorothy, and CW was in talks to adapt Danielle Paige’s, at the time, forthcoming novel Dorothy Must Die. Though none of those proposed TV series have made it to the silver screen just yet, they were being discussed around the same time as ABC’s fairy tale series Once Upon A Time announced plans of incorporating the classic good versus wicked standoff into their show.

Photo via Cineplex

Photo via Cineplex

Though fans may not be happy with the quality or quantity of Oz adaptations, the influx is indicative of a persisting love inspired by Baum’s classic tale. Since the book was released over a century ago — it was first published in May of 1900 — the beloved story has spawned numerous sequels, been adapted to film, television, and the stage many times, as well as inspired multiple retellings in literature. Throughout the past 114 years of Oz history, there have been many iconic works based on Baum’s original book, and his stories are set to hit the big screen yet again in the limited release of Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return on May 9. In honor of all the Wicked Witches in popular culture at the moment — Once Upon A Time’s season finale airs on Sunday — it seemed appropriate to talk about the best adaptations from Baum’s original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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