Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dreamer of Oz - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Okay, it is officially Halloween, and though, like I said, I don't do the Halloween thing, I am giving you something scary today. Well, there is a witch. Sort of. Not exactly, but you see the creation of one. Look, today, I'm reviewing a 1990 TV movie called The Dreamer of Oz, which is a bio (TV) pic about the life of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum. And I think this could possibly be my favorite TV movie ever.

Now this one is quite different from your average TV movie. It is shot in a way that is so incredibly cinematic and colorful and larger than life, you'd swear it was meant for the big screen. Frankly, if they did take this and release it in a theater, it would look amazing. And I think I like it so much because I am a writer, and, for a writer, it is very inspirational and motivational. It's just fantastic. So let's get to it.

Though I referred to this as sort of a biopic, it does not take us though the entire life of L. Frank Baum. Instead, it focuses mainly on his life with his wife and sons, how he does whatever it takes to support them while keeping his passion for writing alive, and eventually creating the world of Oz.

The movie begins at the premiere of the film, The Wizard of Oz, in 1939. The press is clamoring over the cast of actors, Judy Garland and whatnot, but one young reporter notices an elderly woman and pulls her aside to talk with her. Turns out, it is the widow of L. Frank Baum, Maude, who is played fantastically throughout the film by Annette O'Toole (what's up, Mrs. Kent!), and I'm pretty sure in this scene she's got her old lady make up on. Anyway, Mrs. Baum is quite surprised but flattered that this young man even knows who she is. Actually, he is quite interested in learning about the true story behind THE story, so Maude begins to tell the tale of her life with her beloved husband.

At this point we flash back to eighteen hundred and . . . something, where we are introduced to L. Frank Baum, played brilliantly by John Ritter. I actually this is the best thing he ever did in his career. Anyway, we see the first meeting between Frank (yeah, I'll just call him Frank from now on) and Maude Gage, daughter of Matilda Gage, played by the great Rue McClanahan. Wow, I am being VERY descriptive about these actors. Anyway, Frank is hesitant to meet Maude because her mother is a serious nineteenth century feminist, and he finds her a little scary. But alas, Frank, who is a poor actor at the time, and Maude fall in love, mostly because of his ability to be so creative and make up these beautiful worlds to describe to her. There's some pleasant foreshadowing for you. Despite her mother's objections, Maude does marry Frank.

So throughout the film, we follow the life of Frank, Maude and the sons they would have. There is also a lot about all the jobs Frank had in order to take care of them. Like I said, he starts as an actor, but also, while his family lives in the Dakota Territory, he opens a store, and then goes on the road as a salesman. According to the film, it is this that takes a great tole on his health. Eventually, he takes his professional writing seriously, getting a book of children's stories published, with the help of illustrator W.W. Denslow, who would go on to illustrate the Oz books as well. Now it is that first publication that gets him some recognition and money, but he does not give up on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Through his persistence and hard work, it is one day published. Of course, there is mention of the books that would follow, but it is the first around which the film is centered.

One of the best things about this movie is how we see the Oz story being developed over the years. He tells it, piece by piece, to different people, be they his wife, his children, their friends, even his mother-in-law, who does warm up to him and his great talent. We also see how certain events and people he meets in his life inspire the story and the characters, from the munchkins to the Cowardly Lion to Dorothy herself. S he was writing his greatest work. sometimes, without even really knowing what he was creating. Again, as a writer, I love the way it shows that, if we pay close attention to our lives, we can be inspired enough to create something great, which is certainly something that L. Frank Baum did.

Honestly, the most disappointing thing about this TV movie is the fact that, after that initial airing, I don't recall that it was ever shown again. Maybe it's just where I live, but that is sad. And though I've tried, I also cannot find this thing on DVD. Fear not, though, some wonderful, wonderful person posted it on You Tube. So if you want to see it, and I think you should, that is the place to go. Seriously, it won't disappoint. It may not be as good as The Wizard of Oz, but hearing the stories of how that came to be, I think, can bring about the same nostalgic feeling of that classic movie. So go ahead, Pups, find it, watch it, enjoy it!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Friend To Die For or Death of a Cheerleader - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I love Kellie Martin. I have loved her for over twenty years, ever since her days as Becca Thacher on Life Goes On, one of my favorite shows of all time. During her years on that show and all the years since, Kellie has more than proven herself as a great actress. Though she has shown up in a few feature films, it is most definitely her work on television that has garnered her the most success, through series and, of course, TV movies. Again, it was difficult to pick one, but there is something about this chosen one that makes it stand above all the rest. We'll get to that soon. So let's begin our discussion on A Friend to Die For . . . or Death of a Cheerleader. Yeah, here's the thing. When it aired originally, it was called A Friend to Die For, but, in later airings, up until the ones that air to this day, it is referred to as Death of a Cheerleader. Don't ask me why, but I thought I'd share both titles, so you won't miss it.

This is another one based on a true story, but the names and probably the locations were changed. The film starts out with Stacey Lockwood played by Tori Spelling (groan! Sorry) knocking on the door of a house so that she can use the phone, because her friend "got a little weird". We see a lot of this from the perspective of an unknown person, then from the point of view of the man who was nice enough to drive Stacey home when she couldn't reach her parents by phone. After dropping her off and sitting in his car, he very vaguely sees the images of two people, including Stacey, then one person attacking the other, with said attacker fleeing the scene and jumping in a car. Not fully aware of what has happened, the man pursues the car of the attacker, but to no avail. Next, we see Stacey walking (somehow) to the home of a neighbor, where she tells them she's been stabbed, then collapses. After this, her parents come home to the flashing lights of ambulances and cop cars, then they are seen watching her die in surgery. Those last two scenes are, to be honest, very heart wrenching. You just can't imagine what it must be like for parents to come home to something like that. And knowing it is a true story makes it even worse.

So that was the opening, and since we know who dies within five minutes, it is not really a spoiler. The spoiler will be when I say who the killer is. And I kind of have to do that in order to truly speak on the fine acting performances. Plus, it's revealed pretty early on.

Okay, after that, we go back in time ten months to a living Stacey surrounded by her friends in a high school auditorium. And many rows back, we see Angela Delvecchio played by Kellie Martin sitting next to her friend Jill. It is in this scene where it's established that this high school is very, very dedicated teaching the kids to have a competitive edge in order "to be the best". No, seriously, the principal literally makes the student body shout out these four words. And who is the man telling them to do this? It is Principal Ed Saxe played by - wait for it! - Terry O'Quinn! That's right. Ten years before he was John Locke of Lost, he was a high school principal. Way to go, Terry. And he's not the only familiar face we see.

When we get a look at Angela's home life, we meet her sister, Terri, played by a pre-Drew Carey Show, Christa Miller, and their mother, played by the iconic Valerie Harper. Mrs. Delvecchio is clearly a very religious woman, constantly practicing her Catholic faith, and this does slightly play a part in the film.

The first half of this movie is centered around Angela's desperate attempt at popularity, which, especially in high school, can run a person's life. She wants to work on the school paper, be a cheerleader and join a "prestigious" club. She does succeed at that last one, but still remains an outcast even within the group. She feels as though all the work she has been doing has been for nothing, and becomes even more desperate for acceptance.

One night, Angela devises a plan to get Stacey to go to a party with her, in the hopes of winning her friendship and, in turn, the popularity she intensely craves. Things do not go as planned, though, as Stacey gets angry, calling Angela weird, and storming from the car. At this point, Angela begins to develop a massive fear that Stacey will convince everyone to turn against her and begins to follow the car in which she is riding. Now we see that Angela was the person watching in the shadows in the opening, and that she, in a fit of rage, is the one who stabbed Stacey. Afterward, she flees home, cleans the knife and breathes deeply in fear and realization of what she just did.

The second half of the film is full of the students and the town speculating about what happened and who may be the killer. Most of them believe it to be a girl named Monica who was clearly the greatest outcast in the school and the favorite target of Stacey and her friends. It also raises questions about the aforementioned obsession that both the school and town have with being the best. This entire time Angela is racked with guilt and terrified to tell anyone. She, like a lot of students, is questioned by the police, one of whom is played by James Avery (Hi, Uncle Phil!). They come to realize she is guilty but cannot prove it. In the end, Angela confesses, first to her mother in a letter, then to the police. And the scene where her mother finds and reads the letter is breathtaking. Kellie Martin is reading the contents of the letter in a voice over, while we see Valerie Harper silently reading it. Just the look in her eyes as she reads and the cry to her husband as she finishes is enough to break your heart.

Despite her confession, Angela is put on trial, since the prosecution wants her to be convicted of first degree murder, though the punishment is the same for second. The defense attorney shows that it was an crime of passion and not premeditated, therefore, Angela is sentenced to confinement until the age of 25. And that is where we end.

Let me make it clear that I speak on this story strictly from the perspective of what is shown in this movie. I know these "characters" are based on real people, so whatever I said about them, what they felt, how they behaved, their motivations, has nothing to do with those real life people. I don't know about who they truly were and are, so I cannot speak on that. Here, I am simply commenting on how they were portrayed in the film.

I know I gave away a lot about this movie here, but I think it's all right, since the reveal comes early, and you can probably guess the outcome. Still, it is definitely worth the watch. It's a movie that can certainly get your attention and keep it. You might find moments of melodrama, but the story is so well portrayed by Kellie, Valerie and a lot of the rest of the cast, it can be overlooked.

So be on the look out for either A Friend to Die For or Death of a Cheerleader, because, with either title, it is one to be watched.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Killer Among Friends - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I love people who are legendary for a reason and for a good reason. One of those people would be Patty Duke. She is truly a treasure and that is because she is fantastic at what she does and always has done as an actress. And, as an actress, she has done more than her share of TV movies. If you ask me, she is one of the faces that adds legitimacy to the entire genre. So it seems only right to include a TV movie that features her. It was tough to pick one, because many of them are very good, but I decided on one based on a true story, A Killer Among Friends.

In this movie, Patty Duke plays Jean Monroe, mother of three, with one grown son, one teenage son, and in the middle, a teenage daughter named Jenny. Jenny is played by Tiffani (Amber, at the time) Thiessen, proving early on in this small but pivotal role, that there has always been more to her as an actress than Kelly Kapowski. Remember the awesomely wicked Valerie Malone. Moving on. Jean is very close with her daughter, as well as all of Jenny's friends. She's kind of the cool, understanding mom that all the kids go to when their having trouble with their own mothers. Sadly, this idyllic life is shattered when Jenny is murdered, her body discovered in a quite a gruesome manner for TV at the time, I think.

The film follows Jean's desperate search for her daughter's killer with the help of Detective Patricia Staley played by Loretta Swit of M.A.S.H. fame and Jenny's best friend and single mom, Ellen Holloway played by Margaret Welsh. I love Patty's performance in this, because she perfectly shows the intensity that any mother would have in this situation without acting over the top like other actresses might. As time goes on in the story, we are pretty much drawn in to this amateur investigation of hers and Ellen's, giving us false leads and red herrings, enough that we are pretty stunned at the reveal of the true killer. Am I going to tell you who that is? Well, no. First, because they still show this movie on TV occasionally and, second, it's done so well, I don't want to ruin it for anyone. For that reason, I can't really give a ton of details about what happens in the plot either. There isn't exactly an out of the blue, killer reveal. All the pieces begin to appear and come together, almost forming a bridge to get us to the ending. And I love that.

While I can admit that at the reveal of the killer, you might say "I knew it!", but really that's not something you'll say in the beginning and then just wait for confirmation. The film does a great job of building the tension, where you have your suspicions, but then those perfectly placed red herrings throw you off enough that you get off track. That succeeds in letting the ending be kind of shocking. So this is basically just a very, well crafted, murder mystery. Even though it's true.

Every time this movie comes on, I definitely stop and watch. Though I've seen it several times and know the ending, I just can't pass up on the fantastic performances of the cast. Much like Patty Duke as an actress, this is certainly a TV movie that bumps up the genre in the area of credibility. So if you're ever channel surfing and come across this film, you should definitely stop and watch.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Ron Clark Story - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

You know the cliche story of a teacher who goes to work at some school in a "bad" area and tries to teach a bunch of "bad" kids and ends up changing their lives forever? Of course you do. We have had about a thousand movies with that as the main story. At first thought, it may be considered overdone. However, the fact that some of them are based on real people makes me not be so critical. You do have to admire someone who takes on such challenges without even knowing that they might become famous for it. Well, today, you're going to hear about one of those people as I review The Ron Clark Story.

This TV movie stars Matthew Perry in the title role. And let me just say that I am so pleased they cast him in this. It lets us go back to his pre-Friends days, when I called him a great dramatic actor. That happened after I saw him on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 playing a guy who wasn't exactly the biggest fan of his own father. He was fantastic in that part. I was actually surprised when he showed up on Friends in a highly comedic role. He was great there, too, but I fear it led people to forget how good he was at drama. That's a main reason why I like this movie, with it coming out about two years after our goodbyes to Chandler Bing, because it reminded us, or showed some of us for the first time, just how talented Matthew Perry is at things other than comedy. Okay, enough kissing up. Let's get to the story.

This movie is about a teacher named Ron Clark who starts off working in a nice, safe school in North Carolina, but then decides to head off to the big, bad city of New York to teach at an inner city school. When he gets there, he specifically asks for the class full of "troubled" students. Needless to say, they do not exactly like this new teacher. Clearly, they just don't know how to react to someone who genuinely thinks they are intelligent and have potential. So they just do what you'd expect and misbehave.

Though it is a big challenge, Mr. Clark does all he can to try and win them over, using some very creative ideas, including a rap he writes about the presidents. Yeah, that's right. We get to see and hear Matthew Perry rap. Your reaction to this could probably go either way. Initially, I may have released a small eye roll, but then I thought, "Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do". After A LOT of resistance, the kids finally warm up to him, and eventually grow to really love him.

Once the kids start paying attention, we get to the core plot of the film, where he is trying to get them ready for state exams, whatever those are. During this time (but not necessarily in this order), he starts helping the kids outside of school, gets seriously ill, takes them to see The Phantom of the Opera, and even gets himself a forced love interest that doesn't exactly become one full on. I have a feeling this chick may have been added for dramatic effect, to show that he was a real person, not just a teacher. Hey, whatever. And of course, in the end, the kids do great on the test and we have a happy ending, where we get that typical text on the screen telling us more about the real life Ron Clark.

Okay, I can admit that, as much as I like this movie, it does have its flaws, naturally. It is, of course, predictable in the long run. I mean, was anyone really shocked that we got a happy ending? Oh, and they also throw in that obligatory well- behaved, likes to study, good kid in amongst all the "delinquents". Seriously, why in all heck is this kid in this class? It makes no sense. But, while I am discussing one of the kid characters, let me say something about the kid actors.

I am not exactly a huge fan of kids, particularly kids in the entertainment industry, but I kind of like these ones. They were all pretty decent. I know it's more difficult to play a kid when you are not one (speaking of 90210), but they were still good. Two of them did stand out, though. The first is Hannah Hodson, who plays Shameika. You could call her the main, I guess, antagonist, though I'm hesitant to call a kid that believe it or not. Still, she was the one who gave Mr. Clark the most trouble and was kind of the unofficial leader of the kids as they waged their little war against their new teacher. But then she ended up becoming very close to Mr. Clark. So this young young actress really showed a lot of range, and she did it well. Another stand out was Brandon Mychal Smith who plays Tayshawn. This character is very emotionally driven, particularly in some of his final scenes. He is a very talented artist who also comes from an abusive home, and, in the end, this kid really holds his own having to portray someone with this life.

But as good as the kids were, Matthew Perry was who truly carried this movie. He was funny and heartfelt and real. Basically, he was perfect in this role, and this story was one that needed to be shared. I certainly feel for really good teachers, especially these days, and it is good that the truly committed ones who try very hard to help their students fulfill their potential are more than just noticed.

Now I'm sure some people would call this movie a little sappy, but I do like it. I like to see people who do admirable things like this get some recognition for it beyond their weekly paycheck. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who is a teacher or just really appreciates them. Or anyone who wants to see Matthew Perry in something even better than Friends.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, October 27, 2012

These Can Be Pretty Scary, Too

Greetings Pups,

So I hear that next week is Halloween, and some may assume I would do a horror movie review theme week. Well, no. See, I don't really do Halloween, and I'm not the biggest fan of horror movies. Still, I thought I should do something. I figured, even though I don't want to do straight up scary movies, I can do ones that can be frightening in their own way - TV movies.

Yes, I have seen a multitude of made for TV movies in my life, some good, some bad, some okay, and some just scary. And they can be scary for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, they are attempts at making a legit horror movie for television, or they might hit too close to reality or home with subject matter, or the acting might be so awful, you can't bear to watch.

But seriously, I tried to choose ones that are good, or maybe just entertaining, or even somewhat nostalgic. Maybe those ones were just easier for me to remember, but I think you all might enjoy this. You might even get a little nostalgia for yourself. So starting tomorrow, we will begin a week of TV movie reviews. Hope you like it!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Kat's Meow

Greetings Pups,

I know I've mentioned this before, but I believe I may be blessed with a gift to spot future stars. It's probably why I always take the time to learn the names of all those character actors whom everyone else knows merely by their faces. I want to know who they are, just in case. I want to discuss one of those people today who I spotted early, though I'm not sure she's ever been referred to as a character actor. I've just always called her really, really good. And this young lady I'd like to talk about is Katherine Litwack. Don't know who that is? Well, that's probably because you know her as Kat Dennings. Yeah, I know the real names, too.

Now Kat Dennings has been getting a boat load of attention lately due to her role as Max on the popular show, Two Broke Girls. That's right. Everyone loves her now. But have they loved here for years? I certainly have. And so that is why she is a chosen one for a tribute. I know she's young, but some people can earn respect early.

Since it is her current TV career that is bringing her so much success these days, let's take a quick dip in that pool. Apparently, her first professional appearance on an episode of Sex and the City at about the age of fourteen. Yeah, that's a little young to be on that show, but, in my opinion, it was a good place to start. Couldn't really go anywhere but up. A year later, she was cast in a show called Raising Dad starring Bob Saget as a widower trying to raise his two daughters with the help of a relative. See, it's nothing like Full House, because he only had TWO daughters and only ONE other person helping him. I also bet the character our dear Kat portrayed never drove a car into the house and got off scot free. Yeah, I never got a chance to watch this show, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she was the best thing about it. Between that regular role on a series and her current one, Kat did a lot of guests spots on a lot of shows that I like or love, such as Without a Trace, Less Than Perfect, CSI and CSI:NY. That's right, Kat. It was wise of you to not get involved in that Miami mess. But when she wasn't showing up on the little screen, she spent a lot of time on the big one. Let's get into that.

If you don't already know this, you probably won't believe it, but Kat's first role in a feature film was in Raise Your Voice. That was a 2004 vehicle for Hilary Duff, still enthralled in her life as Lizzie McGuire, playing a girl rebelliously spending time at a summer music program. Kat was cast as Sloane, the obligatory loner girl, not mean enough to be an official mean girl, but certainly not perky enough to fit easily into Duff's circle of friends. Look, to be fair, this film does have some good moments, but again, even in a small role, Kat stole the show for me when it came pretty much every scene she occupied. Still, even as talented as she was and is, she tended to be cast in those peripheral roles, as opposed to the starring one. Well, that all changed in 2008.

I must say, I love New York, I love music, I love Kat, so naturally, I love Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. This is an awesome movie built on a foundation of the classic boy meets girl scenario with a fantastic soundtrack, a unique story and a great cast, led by Miss Dennings in the title role of Norah, with Michael Cera as her Nick. This film is about Nick, Norah and their high school friends, and friends not so much, spending the night in NYC looking for their favorite band. Oh, I love these movies where you know the kids have parents because they are mentioned, but you wonder how the heck they let their underage kids wander around New York at night. Good times. I must say, Kat and Michael had really good chemistry and played their parts perfectly. And I think it was this film that really made people start to take notice of how amazing Kat is.

After the success of Nick and Norah, she did a lot of great indie films like The Answer Man, Defendor and Daydream Nation. Then, of course, she got to add a blockbuster to her resume with Thor. In all these roles and those that came before, Kat manages to make them all unique, and yet we always see a spark of her personality that threads them together. And now let me bring us back to TV.

As I mentioned at the start, Kat is currently on a show called Two Broke Girls. I really like the show, and I love her on it. Of course, if you know me, you know I could always do with less of the off color humor. She and her cast mates are funny enough just saying "Hello" without all that other . . . stuff. Though I doubt that my opinion will have any effect on the show.

My point of this whole post is exactly this. Kat Dennings is an extremely talented young woman. She always has been, and I suspect she always will be. Like I said, I know she's still young, but she has been in the business for over a decade, and she has clearly worked hard for the mainstream success she is finally getting. I can certainly see her becoming a lifelong star, one we will tell our offspring about, saying, " I remember her from way back when". So long as she keeps her drive and passion and her ability to choose the parts that are right for her, I don't doubt that we have a lot more greatness to look forward to from Kat Dennings.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top Ten Crossing Jordan Episodes

Greetings Pups,

If any of you read my Top Ten list of Law and Order episodes, you may remember that I gave a pretty big shout out to my girl, Jill Hennessy. I loved her as Claire Kincaid on that show, and her departure left me sad and hoping for more from her, especially on a weekly basis. Well, it took five long years, but, in 2001, I finally got the thing for which I had been waiting when Crossing Jordan debuted on NBC. If you haven't seen it, let me give you some insight. Fair warning, this post may be long. Quite. But if you like this show, it hopefully won't be a problem.

This show centered around the lives of medical examiner's in Boston, and Jill starred as Jordan Cavanaugh. Frankly, I think she is one of the greatest female characters of all time. Jordan is very complex, to say the least. She can be funny, and she's very intelligent, definitely with a mind of her own and a pretty thick skin. I think that aspect of her character stems from her troubled childhood, which included a mentally unstable mother who was eventually murdered and a father who had become quite distant. Ironically, while I believe this is what made her tough, it also made her empathetic, sympathetic, and a woman who always had a small part of her that was still that little girl, just looking for love and security in her life. Finding that love and security was difficult since she also, understandably, developed trust issues, even though as an adult, she was surrounded by people who genuinely loved and cared for her. In short, Jordan Cavanaugh was and still is an extremely interesting character who always kept the fans enthralled. But as great as she was, Jordan was not the only one in this world. Here's a quick look at the others. Quick, because I want to get to the top ten task at hand.

Let's begin with Jordan's co-workers, starting with Dr. Garret Macy, played be Miguel Ferrar, son of Rosemary Clooney, quite possibly my favorite singer ever. Macy is the boss of the M.E.'s office and he tends to be very "by the book" and strict, though he is often influenced by Jordan's "out of the box" thinking. It is his willingness to do that which really shows the depth of their friendship and how much he trusts her instincts. Then, we have Lily Lebowski played by Kathryn Hahn. Lily eventually becomes the grief counselor, something I'm assuming is needed in a place like that. It was a good choice to have this happen to her character, since she always came across as the most sympathetic. Lily has close relationships with everyone, but especially Dr. Mahesh Vijay, who we all know as "Bug". They are great friends, but he clearly wants more out of their relationship. Bug pretty much fills the role as the (I hate to say this) science geek and he does so in a crowd of scientists of all places. But his character did expand and develop more over the years. Finally, we have Nigel Townsend played by Steve Valentine. Though I love everyone, Nigel is probably my favorite character. Most people would easily classify him as a little weird, with his ideas and style of dress. To me, he's just quirky, smart, fun and lovable. And Nigel usually provides the comic relief that people in this job need. I just love this guy a lot.

Outside of that office, we also have Detective Woody Hoyt played by Jerry O'Connell. He showed up in the first season, and his character just got bigger and more important to the show. Naturally, he became something of a love interest for Jordan, but there were a ton of ups and downs in their relationship, hinting at a romance, then doing it blatantly, trying and trying again at it, while always keeping their friendship intact. And speaking of Jordan's relationships, we also get her dad, Max, played by Ken Howard, who I absolutely love. He was fantastic on this show, playing the part just right. You can clearly see how much he loves his daughter, but there is always a bit of tension just under the surface due to their past. Oh, and he is pretty much the only person on this Boston set show that, in fact, does have the classic Boston accent. Other characters came and went over the seasons, some of which were played by fantastic actors and actresses, like Wallace Shawn, Lorraine Toussaint, Jeffrey Donovan and many others, but these are the most important.

Okay, maybe when I used the word "quick" a couple of paragraphs ago, I may have miscalculated. And now, finally, my Top Ten episodes of Crossing Jordan. As always, I may be giving spoilers, but nothing that will deter anyone from checking out the show. Here we go.

#10. "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Season 5) - Normally, I am not a fan of a cliffhanger ending for a season, but this episode was so well done, cutting off at just the right moment, that I had to include it. The tension built and left us with a strong hunger for what would happen next. I know I hate having to wait for the payoff or resolution, but it ended up being well worth that wait.

#9. "Fire in the Sky" (Season 4) - In season three, the very talented Jennifer Finnigan joined the cast as Dr. Devon Maguire for a handful of episodes that spilled into season four. Her character butted heads with a lot of her co-workers, not the least of which was Jordan. In this one, however, she is apparently and sadly killed in a plane crash. This one was interesting because, at the start, the M.E.'s were literally waiting for that plane to crash, because they knew it would. How? Guess you'll have to watch it. I think what I love about this one is that it is very emotionally charged for the characters, despite their efforts to put things aside for their work. But we really do see them coming to appreciate even more so their friendships with each other.

#8. "Crash" (Season 6) - This is the finale episode, and I'm sorry I have to follow up with another plane crash show. This time, though, it is most of our main characters on the plane. They crash in snowy mountains, trying desperately to survive and be rescued. Initially, this was going to be another cliffhanger ending that would pick up in season seven, but there was no season seven, unfortunately. Still, I think this was a good way to end the show. My only complaint is in who they chose to be a part of this accident. I understand why Lily wasn't there, considering she had just had a baby and was never involved in much field work anyway, but I couldn't figure out why the character of Kate Switzer was included. She came in this final season and was played by Brooke Smith. Don't get me wrong. I think she is a fantastic actress, and I did like her addition to the cast. But I thought, for this pivotal moment, it should have been confined to just the people who had known each other for so many years. The core family of the show, if you will. But that's a small complaint. I did hate that the show was ending, but we did get the one thing for which we had been waiting all these years. We finally saw Jordan and Woody professing their love for each other. FINALLY!

#7. "Secrets and Lies" (Season 1) - This was the two part finale of season one. Here, we get a lot of info about Jordan's childhood concerning her mother. It reveals some very important things, but it also sets up a lot more of the mystery that will come as the show progresses. We become even more invested in Jordan and the answers for which she will spend much time looking.

#6. "Revealed" (Season 3) - As I said, I love the character of Nigel, and in this episode, he is a main player. Nigel shows up at a crime scene, at which Woody has already arrived, where a body has been found in the bathtub of a locked apartment completely exsanguinated (their word, not mine!). Oh, and one more thing. The body has what appears to be bite marks in the neck. Naturally, being a man of science, Nigel believes that the obvious killer must be a vampire. I am dead serious, pardon the pun, about his thinking this is a legit explanation. What follows is a pretty funny episode, especially concerning exchanges between Nigel and Woody, and Nigel and Macy. And I loved seeing Jerry O'Connell in a Goth club. Just saying.

#5. "Forget Me Not" (Season 4) - Again, this episode is focused on Nigel, but in a far more serious manner. Here, the daughter of his current girlfriend is kidnapped in the middle of the night, and Nigel tries desperately to find her with Jordan's help. I really like the way they carried out the story, and I liked the pay off and reveal in the end. But, hands down, the most entertaining part is Steve Valentine. He is truly at his best as an actor here. What with his usual peripheral and often light comedic role on the show, even hardcore fans may forget how good he is when it comes to dramatic acting. Thanks for the reminder with this one, Steve.

#4. "Slam Dunk" (Season 3) - Ah, and here it is. The obligatory episode where a character gets jury duty, is the lone holdout, and eventually sways the other jurors to see things her way. Yeah, I think a lot of shows have done this. I can think of at least three right now. But this one is a little different. Jordan is the one on duty, and we know we can trust her instincts as a medical examiner who is an expert at looking for evidence, as opposed to just someone who has a "bad feeling" that the defendant isn't guilty like the other jurors believe. We do get the typical Twelve Angry Men scenario in the jury room, but the exchanges between everyone are very well written and thought out. We even get a good motive as to why one juror refuses to vote Not Guilty. And, again, there is a great and unexpected reveal in the end.

#3. "Ockham's Razor" (Season 2) - This is an episode with the main story line seeming to be the investigation of a woman's death. The woman just happens to be the wife of a major rival to Dr. Macy, and he is the one who must lead that investigation. That story does play out greatly, but there is also something else going on here. Jordan finds some old, home movie type, film reels which feature her mother years before Jordan was born. I don't want to give a ton away with this story, since it is a pretty big part of the series, but I have to bring it up. Mostly because it includes my very favorite guest star in all of Crossing Jordan land - Michael T. Weiss. If you don't know who that is, go back and read my post, "The Great Pretender", which was a tribute to the show The Pretender, which starred Michael T. Weiss. And I was absolutely thrilled to see him. Eventually, we learn more about who he is and how he is connected to Jordan, and it is truly one of the best story lines in the series.

#2. "Digger" (Season 1) - This is another two-parter, and, speaking as a Law and Order fan, it is pure gold. Why? Well, we get a little guest star appearance by Chris Noth. That's right. After over five years, we finally get to see Claire Kincaid and Mike Logan together again. It was a joy. Now the main plot is about someone kidnapping women and burying them alive, and Jordan is working with an FBI profiler, played by Noth, to try and solve the case. However, there is a very humorous subplot, which obviously juxtaposes the feel of the main story, and it is centered on - you guessed it! - my boy, Nigel. Both stories together really make this episode priceless.

#1. "Strangled" (Season 2) - In my circle of, let's say, acquaintances, I tend to be the person who finds great group activities in which I can never get anyone to participate. It makes me long to have friends like the folks on Crossing Jordan, who would gladly take part in something like what they did in this episode. Now, starting in the first season, we are shown that Jordan and her dad, who is a former cop, do something special to help solve crimes. They partake in these reenactment or role playing activities to really get into the head of whomever the criminal may be. It helps her a lot with her job. In this one, though, it's no work and all play. Jordan invites everyone to her dad's bar to try and solve a forty year old case that Max was never able to solve at the time. Each character is given, well, a character from the original investigation to portray and try to come up with an answer. Do they? Again, better watch. You know, I do know some cops, and I've asked for them to get me some cold case files, so I can do something fun like this. No such luck yet. I guess I'll just have to watch this episode when I want my inner detective to be satisfied. Thank you, show!

Wow, that WAS long. Anyway, there you have it, Pups. Now, while I've only seen one season of Crossing Jordan available on DVD, all six seasons are streaming on Netflix. When that happened, I was ecstatic. I highly, highly recommend this show, especially to anyone who likes crime dramas with very rich characters and stories. It truly was and is an excellent show and should be appreciated and honored. I hope I'm doing my part to make sure that happens.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Wonder of the Rosenbaum

Greetings Pups,

We all have secrets. I can admit that even I have things I like to hide away. But one thing that I have never kept hidden is my love for one Mr. Michael Rosenbaum. I made that abundantly clear when I did my Top Ten Smallville episodes list. Yeah, I was not shy when it came to giving him some massive accolades, and I had really had no reason to be. Not when it comes to Smallville anyway. He was nothing short of brilliant on that show. Still, as we all know, the careers of even the best actors have mountains and valleys, some more than others, and Michael Rosenbaum is no exception. But if you never slip and fall, it usually means you were never brave enough to take a risk . . . or it means you're Daniel Day-Lewis. Having said that and due to my great admiration for this man both as an actor and a person, I decided to throw him one of my infamous (they are to me) tributes. And away we go.

Okay, we may as well just start with the thing from which everyone knows him - Smallville. I think anyone who is even slightly informed of Michael's career would agree that the work he did on this show was probably his best. Of course, I spoke about it a lot on that aforementioned Smallville post, but I'll expand some here.

Now the show was technically on for ten years, but our dear Michael only graced us with his fine portrayal of Lex Luthor for seven, so those last three years, while not bad, could have been better had he been there. Of course, we would have missed out on the excitement of his return in the final episode, but I still kind of wish we had not been told of this return, because I would have loved to have been watching that night and gotten totally surprised. But I have no other complaints. To be honest, his appearance in that last show truly did remind us of what a talent he is. It cannot be easy portraying so well a character whom we all know will one day be a very bad man and still make us all love him and even root for him to do the right thing and be happy in his life. You know what else isn't easy, I bet? Portraying a character that has already been played by Gene Hackman. For real, he should have gotten a slew of awards just for not passing out every day at the prospect of having to do that. And if he had, I'm sure we would have heard about it, because, as we all know, Tom Welling is a blabbermouth. Kidding . . . I hope. But maybe playing the character in a different way, less for laughs and whatnot, made it easier. Kind of doubt it, though. Bottom line is, Michael was fantastic on this show, and I could go on for hours about that fact. I don't want to be that obsessive here, though, so may I suggest you watch some reruns if you don't believe me.

Since we're on the subject of TV shows and superheroes, let me tell you that Michael Rosenbaum's experience with these two things is not limited to the Smallville world. He has been quite successful as a voice actor, most notably was his portrayal as The Flash on the Justice League cartoon series. So here, he got to play a hero instead of a villain in training, and he was a very fun-loving character, the young guy of the group, occasionally annoying the other members, especially Batman. But Batman's always in a mood, so how could we ever tell? And, very recently, Michael was gracious enough to show up again in the latest DC cartoon movie, Justice League: Doom. I suppose mention of that can be a nice segue into some talk of his movie career. This may be a bit of a bumpy trip.

If I could sum up the movie career of Michael Rosenbaum in three simple words, they would be . . . good, bad and ugly. And by sheer coincidence, those words bring us to one of his first movie roles, or possibly his VERY first, in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil directed by Clint Eastwood. You understand the connection. Now I know there are no small parts, only small actors, and he proves that here. It has been a while since I've seen this one, but, if memory serves, he did not have a ton of screen time. Still, being in a film directed by such a legend is a good add on to any resume.

Just after this movie came Urban Legend, where he played a guy named Parker. Clearly, this film was part of the teen horror film bandwagon that came along after Scream, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't too critically acclaimed. But I always found this movie quite enjoyable. The idea was original, as far as I was concerned, and the cast was good . . . for the most part. Yes, the least part is exactly who you think. But I thought Michael stood out in the crowd in this one, even though he was most likely one of the least known members of the cast. Not bad at all.

About four years later came a film that I'm sure most of you have, sadly, not seen, Poolhall Junkies. This is all about a guy named Johnny who is obsessed with pool and Rosenbaum plays . . . not that guy, but his younger brother, Danny. The cast in this one is pretty impressive. To be honest, I never heard of the guy who plays the lead, but we do get Christopher Walken, Chazz Palminteri, Rick "call me Ricky and I'll punch you" Schroder, the legendary Rod Steiger, in his last role, and Allison Eastwood, daughter of Clint, who was also in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. And it is that stellar cast that made me enjoy this quite a lot. But we are talking about Michael Rosenbaum here, and not only does he fit in with these amazing actors extremely well, he also gives a little something extra - he sings! He sings, and it is awesome. Probably my favorite scene in the movie. Seriously, that better had not been someone else's voice dubbed in! But considering how good I am at research, it probably was.

Now I can't help but give a shout out to a film called Father of Invention. Again, Michael didn't have a huge part, but there was one scene that was very . . . interesting. See, the star of this is Kevin Spacey who, as we all know, played Lex Luthor in Superman Returns. In this particular scene, they have a big fight. Yes, one Lex is fighting with another. It was like watching a chicken peck at itself in the mirror. Watch the film just for that.

Okay, that was the good. Now we must move on to the bad. Where to begin? Well, let's start with Sweet November, a film many people refer to as a snooze fest which stars two of my least favorite people, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. But what about Rosenbaum? Who did he play? Well, he played Brandon. Unless he was in drag, and then he was Brandy. No, seriously. And apparently, he enjoyed this wardrobe so much that he then moved on to Sorority Boys, where he got to break into the lady closet for nearly the entire film. I can't even get too deeply into this one because it brings me such sadness. Call me judgmental, but I do not like seeing one of my major crushes in this state of apparel. At least, in Bringing Down the House, he only had to don what I'm certain was a bad wig, thanks to the daily head shavings for Smallville. And finally, I think the title Kickin' It Old School speaks loudly enough that I need not say a word. I'm harsh, because I care.

Let me end the movie talk on a high note, hopefully. According to my sources, Michael is currently working on a new film called Back In the Day. And not only is he acting in it, but he is also the director and writer. What? He's a writer, like me. I knew we were soul mates. Kidding. I can't be that crazy. But it is very nice to know that he is expanding himself so he can share with us his other talents. If his directing and writing is even in the neighborhood of how good his acting is, then I have very high hopes for this production.

I know I took some hopefully humorous jabs at Michael Rosebaum in this post, but I certainly was not kidding about his talent. This man is extremely gifted, and there is no doubt about that. Also, from what I've seen and heard, he's just a genuinely good guy. So I do have great admiration and respect for him. As with all the people I admire, I wouldn't mind having the privilege of meeting him someday. There are many reasons as to why, and I've mentioned many right here. Yet, there is one reason that sits high above the rest. There is one of life's great question's that pertains to the most famous character he has portrayed, one I spoke of in this very article. I feel that only a person as closely related to this character as he can even attempt to answer it. It is a question that I'm certain, men, women and children alike have pondered for nearly a century. What is that question, you may ask? Simply this: "Why does Lex Luthor have eyebrows?" Do NOT tell me you never wondered that. Seriously, I need an answer, and I hope my beloved Michael Rosenbaum can be the chosen one to give it to me. Oh, well. Someday.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Like a Man / Adam Cohen - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

A while back, I did a list of my favorite singing offsprings, the children of famous singers who may or may not have become famous themselves. I thought it best to explain why one of those lesser known prodigies made the list with an album review. So today, I will be giving my thoughts on the Adam Cohen's Like a Man.

Okay, if you haven't figured it out yet, Adam Cohen is the son of Leonard Cohen. And if you don't know who Leonard Cohen is, stop now because you are no longer allowed to read my blog. For the rest of you, I'm happy to say that Adam Cohen is one second generationer who has managed to balance embracing his legacy with maintaining his own identity. That is something that takes skill, and he certainly has it.

Now Like a Man is not his first album. He has done other work, both for himself and others. Actually, it was writing for other artists that got him most of his success in the past. I've heard some of his past efforts and, to be honest, while I could certainly hear the spark there, he had yet to reach his height of potential. Thankfully, he has done so on this album. Let's begin, shall we?

The album begins quite gently with the song "Out of Bed", which is a good precursor to the mood of the rest of the tracks. The music is great, but I love the story being told with the lyrics. I find them almost humorous, and I hope that's okay, since it seems to be about a guy who would do anything for the one he loves, if he could just get around to doing it. Isn't that just like a man? Speaking of which, let's move on to the title track. This one is even more mellow than the opener, but the melodies are more strongly driven and almost fight against the calmness of the music. But in a good way. Next up is "Sweet Dominique" which I love because the lyrics tell a good story and are very visually stimulating. I love a song I can see. And the use of the words "kisses deep" certainly hearken back to the work of his father. Or am I the only one who noticed that?

Now not everything on the album is all that mellow. In fact, one of my favorites is one of the more, for lack of a better word, pop sounding tracks. "What Other Guy" is more up beat than some of the other songs, and the lyrics talk so much of a man who really knows his lady, I can't imagine any woman not loving this. Especially any woman who has a man who MIGHT buy her flowers once a year, and when he does, they're ones she's allergic to. I mean, come on, guys. Speaking of the pop world and the repetition and derivativeness of it, we also get a song called "Beautiful". Everyone gives us a song called "Beautiful". Lucky for Adam, though, he manages to be more lyrically creative than most, so he gets a pass. He also gets one because the song is - let's just say it - beautiful.

And then the album closes with a song called "Stranger". Should I ever make a top ten list of the best closing songs, this one definitely has a shot at making it. It is a very thoughtful and even comforting song. And, forgive me for sounding sappy, but it's one of those songs that makes you feel not so alone. I think that this and "Out of Bed" are the perfect bookends for the entire album.

Like I said, and I hope no one minds me saying it again, Adam Cohen's work is certainly reminiscent of some things his father did, but I would never confuse any music from one of them with that of the other. I must say, though, one of the most interesting gifts that Adam has is his voice, and it can also be compared to that of his father's. You can really tell that they are related by listening to it, and yet, because they have each lived their own lives and experiences, you can feel those subtle differences that set them apart from each other. Sometimes it's not only what you have, but it's what you've done that makes you who you are as an artist. And everything about this album really gives great insight on who Adam Cohen is.

So, obviously, I am recommending this album, especially to those of you who like music that is not too harsh and that has lyrics with which you can really take your time and slowly drink in. It truly is a work for other writers and true listeners.
Since I am both of those things, I love it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Businesses In Glass Houses . . .

Greetings Pups,

In this blog, I have referred several times to my commoner's job a.k.a. the job that is not my real work. Well, good news, I won't have it for much longer. It's officially time for me to leave so I can devote my time to work that will produce greater things other than my own aggravation. Don't get me wrong. God gave me that job, and, though it has been difficult, I have been grateful. I mean, if I didn't have this commoner's job, about thirty percent of my first book would not exist. Rest easy, though, if you think the "interesting" stories about that place will stop. No, pups, I have years worth of those for you, and it will be quite some time before that well runs dry. Speaking of which, I just experienced quite an amusing day at said job. Let me tell you all about it.

Somewhere in the middle of my work day, I got pulled into the conference room with several other co-employees (notice I didn't say co-WORKERS)where we were subjected to a two hour lecture on the "benefits" the job had to offer, as well as the evils of unions. Now I am not here to talk about unions, or whether I am for them or against them. I'm sure, like with anything, there are good ones and bad ones, depending on the people involved. I say, if it works for you and you want to do it, go right ahead. But that is not what my point is.

My point is the total hilarity of this little meeting. This place at which I work seems to be trying so hard to convince me that it is a GOOD place at which to work. I have not decided whether they are, at the same time, trying to convince themselves of this fallacy or if they are so delusional that they actually think it's true. Maybe both.

And all this talk of the benefits they are GIVING me? Yeah, newsflash. I'm paying for these sad benefits, and they still are wanting me to give them more for I don't even know what. Oh, and all this criticism about unions and how badly they treat their members? Look, like I said, I'm sure some unions may not be well managed, but for this company to be pointing the finger at anyone else when it comes to how people are treated is downright ludicrous. Sure, maybe when you look at the big picture, they are doing a few nice things for the employees, but I think we need to scoot a little closer.

There is more to running a business than what looks good on paper. There are the everyday goings on in the company, things that are not always good, to say the least. And when these things, like disrespect, abuse and so much more, are overlooked and shoved under the rug, you are officially not running a good business, and there is not one thing you can say or do to justify that behavior.

Look, as a Christian, I have learned to forgive and thank God for everything, even the things that seem bad, and I am thankful that I have been able to be employed. God always meets my needs. Sometimes I don't even have to ask, because He knows what they are and He takes care of them. But when "wants" come up, and there is nothing wrong with wanting, I know I have to ask for those, even though He knows about them, too. So once I realized that, though having any job is good, I deserve much better than being treated like crap by people who are really in no position to do so. And I asked God to let me leave. I just love when He answers my prayers.

So my point of today's post is this. If you feel the need to point your finger at the bad behavior of others, make sure you're not doing the same thing . . . or worse.
It just makes you look like a hypocrite. And who wants that?

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Ten Platinum Hit Songs

Greetings Pups,

I know that, after reading this post title, you may be thinking one thing. You may think that I have narrowed down every song I've ever heard that has gone platinum to my top ten favorites. Well, no, I haven't. Actually, I don't think any of these songs have gone platinum, sadly, but they have all spawned from a little reality show on Bravo called Platinum Hit. Get it!

Okay, I don't know how many of you have seen this show, but this list is best suited to those who have seen it in its entirety. I don't think I'll be giving spoilers, necessarily, but I will tell you who wrote each song, which will give you hints as to who stuck around the longest. Maybe.

For those of you who haven't seen the show but are opting to continue, let me give you the lowdown on how it worked. They started with twelve songwriters. Each episode had a different theme, and the contestants had thirty minutes to come up with a hook. Then, the best (sometimes) hooks were chosen, and those winners got to pick a team of people with whom to write and finish the song. That was the process up until the last couple of episodes. Oh, and the show was hosted and judged by two ladies you might know - Jewel and Kara DioGuardi. Remember that second one? From American Idol? Apparently, she's some kind of songwriter.

You may be wondering what is interesting about watching people write songs. Well, in theory, maybe nothing. But I am a bit of a behind the scenes voyeur, and I like to witness the process of creating. And trust, there was plenty of drama that went along with these writing sessions. Now if you did watch the show and know how liked or unliked some of these songs were by the "judges", you'll know that they often had little effect on me and my opinion. I like what I like. But enough with all that. Let's get to the music.

#10. "The Road is Where the Heart Is" (Karen Waldrup, Jackie Tohn, Nick Nittoli, Sonyae Elise) - This may have placed higher on the list, but, as we all know, whilst one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch . . . girl, more than one can do the trick. You all know I'm a lyric snob, and there is one line in the bridge that is so trite and pretentious, in my opinion, I nearly vomited. And yet, most of what remained in the song, not the least of which was a very infectious melody, sustained it enough to give it a place here.

#9. "It's You" (Melissa Rapp, Jes Hudak) - I have to be honest. Like the previous song, the best thing about this is the melody. The lyrics got knocked a bit in judging, and, where some of them were concerned, I agreed . . . a little. There are some good moments and some not so good moments. I think, had more time been given, the whole song would have turned into an even better composition. But as it is, there is something about this little tune that really puts a smile on my face. Sometimes that's enough for me.

#8. "My Ridiculus (Jackie Tohn, Brian Judah, Jes Hudak) - So since not many of the contestants were adept at writing dance music, someone thought, "Let's make them write dance music!" Well, it is called a challenge for a reason. The hook challenge that spawned this little gem was won by Brian. Even though this was only the second episode, I got a vibe from him that made me not see that one coming at all. Not to say he isn't good. He's very good, actually, but I never would have put him in that dance music category. And yet, he and the girls managed to parlay that into this truly original song. Original, and a tad naughty in places. Unnecessary, my children. But it's your song, so . . . hugs and kisses.

#7. "All Day Sunrise" (Johnny Marnell) - Yes, despite what it says on iTunes, I am giving songwriting credit to only one person. Do not get me started on why. You'd really have to watch the episode. And also despite what certain people had to say, I happen to think this is a very good song. It's simple but beautiful, it was performed quite well, and it has got some great lyrics in it. I'm pretty sure a lot of people built careers writing songs like that, and I'm certain this talented man can do the same.

#6. "Walk Through Walls" (Johnny Marnell, Scotty Granger, Jes Hudak) - Much like the situation with the dance music challenge, someone thought, "Let's make them rap!" Yeah, I had a feeling that, one way or another, this was going to be quite entertaining. No disappointments. This hook challenge was won by the previously mentioned Johnny Marnell, and, again, I did not see this one coming. But somehow, he and his team turned this great hook into an even greater song. And he rapped. Hosanna! He rapped!

#5. "Free" (Amber Ojeda, Melissa Rapp, Jes Hudak) - Like I said, I like simple and beautiful, and this song is certainly both of those things. Everything really came together here. The lyrics were eloquent, the melodies were ethereal. Frankly, the song was fantastic. It shows that you don't need a ton of unnatural tricks to make some truly good music.

#4. "Come Alive" (Jes Hudak) - Oh, Jes. You really did it with this one, girl! Forgive the personal exposition, but I love this song. Of all the ones featured on the show, I think this is certainly one from which I got some of the greatest impact. There was something deeply intimate about the story being told here, and having the ability to do that is what makes an artist remarkable.

#3. "Where I Need To Be" (Johnny Marnell, Brian Judah, Scotty Granger) - I don't know what the current status of The Eagles is, but, should they ever make an album again, I suggest they buy this song and record it, because it is right up their alley. I love a good old American classic sounding folk song, and that is what we got here. These boys really knew what they were doing with lyrics, melodies, harmonies, the whole shebang. That is why we got this phenomenal piece of art to enjoy. I doff my hat to you fine music makers.

#2. "Bettin' My Life On You" (Johnny Marnell, Brian Judah) - Look, I don't mean to bring up race here, but I kind of have to since I think there are few things better in this world than two white boys doing some reggae. And when they can do it this awesomely good, I have nothing more to say. Except that I agree with Miss Bonnie McKee. These guys are both adorable! That can always help.

#1. "The Last Candle" (Brian Judah, Jes Hudak) - This song proves beyond any doubt that the judges on this show were, on occasion, insane or high or deaf or something, because if you heard the alleged song that beat this, you'd be dumbfounded. But let me concentrate on this one. It is amazing. I do love the music, but I absolutely love the lyrics. Both Brian and Jes really, and I mean REALLY, opened up about their pasts and put a lot out there with their words and stories, while keeping it where others could relate to it as well. I know I did. Funny thing, the judges didn't seem to think that was a good idea. Jewel said it sounded too Hannah Montana, and Kara nodded in agreement. I'm sorry, but didn't Kara write some songs for a Disney movie called Camp Rock, and The Cheetah Girls . . . and HANNAH MONTANA! So I don't why she considers it a negative to sell out to Radio Disney. Perhaps, she doesn't want the competition. But since I don't think Brian and Jes did that, maybe the point is moot. Look, bottom line, this song is exceptional, in my opinion, and the best of the show. So there.

You know what's interesting? I've talked to some people who watched this show, and there is a slight consensus among them that some aspects of it may have been fixed. And I mean more so than they usually are on reality TV. But who knows? Frankly, that may be a distinct possibility, because anything's possible these days. But despite certain outcomes and events of the series, I'm just glad that we did get some terrific music out of it.

Anyway, if what I said about any of these songs intrigued you, they can be found on iTunes or I'm sure you can even go to You Tube for a listen. I know if you give them a chance you won't be disappointed. I just hope that Bravo does a second season and maybe does some things a little better.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Beauty or Beast - Part 2

Greetings Pups,

And so I have another reason to hate football. Thursday night I was all ready to watch the brand new Beauty and the Beast show, but football is what was on. The nerve of some people to try and interfere with my job! Never fear though. I was able to watch an encore presentation the next night, and I must say, it was worth the wait. But I am getting ahead of myself.

As I mentioned before, this new show appeared to have a few similarities to the old show, but, in reality, it is quite different. Sure, they're using the same names for the lead characters and it is in New York, but it's not some stale retelling of the same exact plot. Not yet, anyway. Let's hope for the best. Now before I go on, I must say this. Much like with my synopsis of Arrow, I will be making some references to Smallville. Again, because of the CW, but also because of the star, Kristin Kreuk, who we all know as Lana Lang. So it's going to happen. Just accept it. Oh, and I think I'll be even more detailed here than I was with my Arrow post. Sorry. Okay, here we go.

We begin in the fall of 2003, where we find a young Catherine Chandler working at a bar called the Salty Dawg Saloon. The name is not that important, but I felt it needed to be shared. And we know that she's young because her hair is in pigtail braids. As if "forever sixteen" Kristin Kreuk needed it. Anyway, as she attempts to leave work, her car won't start, so she calls her mother. The two women chat in the darkness until a car pulls up with two strange men inside. They get out and approach the mother and daughter. Nothing but good things can come out of a situation like that, right? Well, the guys start shooting for an unknown reason that I have a feeling will be a plot point in the series. The mother is killed, but Catherine is chased into the woods. She is about to be shot herself, but something or someone comes to her rescue. Well, Heaven above, I wonder who it could be!

And that's the opening!

We are then taken to present day New York. Catherine is now a cop and a seriously tough broad, a good match for her partner, Tess Vargas. They are called to a murder scene and, while investigating some prints, they discover they belong to Vincent Keller. He is a former doctor, who is - well, let's just say it - dead. That makes things interesting. So does the flash of recognition that spreads over Catherine's face when she sees his picture.

They are lead to J.T. Forbes, who was the roommate of this mysterious Vincent. The two cops question the nervous man about what they found, but he shrugs it off as being impossible. But after they leave, we discover that, not only is Vincent alive, but he is being hidden by Forbes. They begin to discuss their "situation", revealing a little but keeping things veiled.

After some more investigating and obtaining a warrant, Catherine returns alone (of course) to the residence of J.T. Forbes, but she does not find him. She finds Vincent. They begin to have a heated conversation about the crime, which ends with him asking that his existence be kept a secret. I guess she agrees, because, when her partner shows up, Catherine says there's nothing there.

Their next encounter is in the subway, where Catherine is attacked . . . again. But before Vincent shows up, there is a good chick fight for you guys to enjoy, so don't forget to send a thank you note. Once the action dies down, Catherine realizes that he is the one who saved her all those years ago. And we finally get some back story for Vincent, why he is what he is, whatever that may be. Look, it involves scientific stuff, which means I have no idea what they were talking about. At least, we get some kind of explanation for his condition which is more than I can say for the original.

Of course, by the end of the episode, the murder is solved, but we also find out why it is that Vincent's prints were at the crime scene. That leads to what will, no doubt, cause the relationship between him and Catherine to continue. The show also ends with Catherine writing a letter to her deceased mother, informing her of all that has been happening in her life. I wonder if this is how every show will end. I hope so. I love writing.

Now, on to some of the cast. Let's start with Ms. Kreuk. I was a fan of hers on Smallville, and it appears I am a fan here as well. Actually, I think she may be even better than she was before. Next, we have Jay Ryan as Vincent. I haven't seen him before that I can recall, but he portrayed this part quite well. He really tapped into that whole brooding, wounded, good looking guy that we girls always love (project!), and if he keeps on this path, I shouldn't have a problem. And I'll take this opportunity to point out that this is not the Vincent of yesteryear. Gone is the cat man look, and in its place is more of a vampirey kind of thing that seems to show up when he gets mad. So it's not always there, and it's more like the Hulk, non-green. I think. Hey, why not?

Okay, the rest. There's this medical examiner named Evan Marks played by Max Brown. I like him because he has a British accent. Thank you! Okay, and he's a good actor. This character is clearly being poised as a romantic interest for Catherine. I'm sure that'll work out great, buddy. Next, Austin Basis plays J.T. Forbes, and he really nailed the role of the slightly nerdy friend of the hot guy. They all need one, right? Last, but not least, there is that partner I mentioned, Tess Vargas. She is played by Nina Lisandrello. I remember her from a very good episode of Law and Order. She was hilarious on that, and she's fantastic on this. I see some good times ahead with this lady.

So will I continue to watch? I think I will. This first episode did not disappoint and, clearly, did not copy too much from the original. It introduced the characters well and left us with enough mystery that we are now intrigued and interested in finding out what will happen. If they are able to maintain this level of quality, I don't doubt that this show will be a hit. Let's hope so.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

All In Ar-row - Part 2

Greetings Pups,

And so we meet again, talking about the subject of the new show, Arrow. As some of you may recall, about a week ago, I gave some thoughts on what it may be like. Well, now I know, because I watched, and now I will share this with you. I'm going to be a little detailed, but I'll try to be spoiler light. I will begin by saying to all of you, relax. There is green in this arrow.

I mentioned last time that I thought this was going to be very Smallville-esque, and it was. Just the entire feel of it really reminded me of that show. Trust me, that is not a bad thing. I always thought that one of the best things about Smallville was the mood it could create so well. This show, I think, will be very similar to that. So, as I continue, I probably will be making more comparisons. Hope no one minds. Okay, let's get started.

We begin on an island with some voice over from our lead character, Oliver Queen, explaining that he had been there for five years following a yachting accident with his father, Robert, and others. He had just been found and was returning home to Starling City to make a difference. Or something.

It's big news when he returns, and in some media exposition, we learn that he was the sole survivor, and there is some mention of his bad boy ways. We then meet some of the people from Oliver's life before he went missing. We have his mother, Moira, and sister, Thea, first of all. His mother is obviously concerned about what her son has been through, though not enough to tell him she got remarried until they are all at a lovely family dinner. His sister is clearly troubled by having to endure the absence of her father and brother, but their relationship appears to be a very loving and protective one.

All of this leads me talk of those differences I mentioned from what a lot of us know about the Green Arrow. Here, we have a sister, about which I don't recall ever hearing, a living mother and a father who died with his son. And isn't it Star City? Those are some big differences, but so far, so good. Moving on.

Of course, we meet Dinah "Laurel" Lance, known as Laurel, who is Oliver's ex-girlfriend, and as it turns out, the sister of the girl he was with on the yacht, Sarah. Yeah, she doesn't seem too thrilled to see him at first, for many obvious reasons. There is also a guy named Tommy Merlyn who is Oliver's best friend. On the surface, he seems like your typical, fun-loving, harmless, party boy, but dig a little deeper and the word "smarmy" comes to mind. It could be nothing, but I'm keeping my eye on him.

Some of the other, more peripheral characters include Oliver's new handler/bodyguard, John Diggle, or Dig as he prefers to be called, and Detective Quentin Lance, the father of Laurel and Sarah. Needless to say, he is not the biggest Oliver Queen fan. You might even call him a bit perturbed. This should be an interesting relationship to watch.

So a lot happens in this first episode. I'll begin with something light. Since he has been gone for five years, there is much "catching up" dialogue. This, of course, includes a Twilight joke. Hey, why not? But there are more important events to discuss.

One thing is that Oliver and Tommy are kidnapped by some scary masked dudes who ask a lot of questions about Oliver's father. Of course, while his friend cannot see, he escapes and takes out these first bad guys. When questioned by the police, he mentions a man in a green hood who came to their rescue. You see where this is going, I wager. The police, particularly Detective Lance, don't exactly believe him, until a local corrupt man named Adam Hunt is attacked as well. We later learn that this man is the first on a list of people with whom Oliver must deal.

There are also quite a few flashbacks. I imagine that this may be an ongoing part of the show, so . . . Wait a minute! Island, flashbacks, hot guy with rippling abs? This thing better not get as confusing as Lost. Okay, that aside, these flashbacks will most likely be much more helpful. They certainly were during this pilot episode. Frankly, they were necessary. Through them, we see Oliver's ordeal, including the truth about what happened to everyone else on the yacht, and we witness his father asking him to survive and "right his wrongs". Whether the flashbacks continue to be necessary or not, I suppose we'll find out.

Okay, let's talk about some of the cast. Our star is Stephen Amell, a guy I don't recall having seen before, but he seems to be a good choice for this part. Believe it or not, I am speaking of his acting abilities, not his physical appearance, though that certainly is not hurting him. Katie Cassidy plays Laurel, and I am pleased to say that I'm seeing some growth in her as an actress. I was always on the fence with her, but now I think she's got something there. Moira Queen is played by Susanna Thompson, and I recognize the name and the face, but from what, I can't recall. Still, I like her in this, as I do Willa Holland who plays Thea. That girl I know from The O.C. and a stint on Gossip Girl, so I know she's got some chops, even at her young age.

The other actors are Colin Donnell as Tommy, Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance, and David Ramsey as Diggle. Admittedly, I don't think I know any of these actors, but, thus far, they are all portraying their characters quite well, so I will give them a chance. Oh, and about those flashbacks. I think the best thing about them is that we get some scenes with two more great actors. We have Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen, whom you all may remember as Captain Deakins from Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I know I do. And there is also Jacqueline MacInnes Wood as Sarah Lance. If you read my post about the under-appreciated stars of The Bold and the Beautiful, then you know what a fan I am of this young lady. Here she graces us with the two things she does best - acting and making me never want to look at myself in the mirror again. Yeah, she's that gorgeous. Okay, I'm slightly kidding about that second thing, but she is a great actress and very lovely, even in this sorely small role. Because of these two, I certainly hope these flashbacks keep coming.

So to sum it up, I have good news. I really enjoyed this show, and I am looking forward to more of it. The story was told well, and the actors did a fine job. There was a good balance of excitement and action with some personal moments between characters. To be honest, my only complaint was with the Green Arrow disguise. It just needs to be more of a . . . disguise. In a certain light, you can clearly see who it is, which is pretty different from the covered eyes and changed voice of Smallville's Green Arrow. Of course, it's not nearly as bad as Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern, but what is? All things considered, I don't think that's enough criticism for me not to want to continue watching the show. I'm giving this one a thumbs up, and I hope it does well.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten John Lennon Songs

Greetings Pups,

And so it is October 9th once again. I bet a lot of people know why this date might be significant to me and all the fans of a particular man. That man would be John Lennon, and today is his birthday. I know he passed away years ago, but I like the idea of using the day where his life started to celebrate it. The best way I can think to do that for myself, since he did so much to inspire my writing, is to devote some of it to him. Specifically, I wanted to share my favorite songs of his.

Before I begin, let me clarify. These songs are only from his solo career, so no Beatles songs. Yeah, I'm not sure I could never make a top ten list of those. Maybe top one hundred. I think these are all ones that people know, and I may have omitted some that would seem like slam dunks for the list. But we all have our personal favorites. These are mine.

#10. "Cold Turkey" - Hey, wanna know why I'm never going to do heroine? Well, it pretty much has to do with this song. It goes through the horrific experience of getting oneself clean from drugs and doing it "cold turkey". It's raw and harsh and vicious even, but sometimes the truth hurts.

#9. "#9 Dream" - What an appropriate spot for this song. Anyway, I'm a person who loves dreams and has been quite affected by some of my own. Apparently, I'm not the only one, since this song was very much inspired by a dream that John had. Oh, we artists can't even take a break when we sleep.

#8. "Working Class Hero" - This probably would have placed higher, but he just had to go and drop those F-bombs. It was pretty controversial at the time for him to do so. I guess I understand that he was very passionate about the things he was singing, and this was his way of punctuating it. Regardless of that, I think the song is great.

#7. "Mother" - Much like "Cold Turkey", this song has a foundation built on pure and very strong emotions. Each note makes you feel something and that is what a gifted songwriter is supposed to do for those of us who hear his music. John really makes us understand the life he had and didn't have with his parents. Being that honest takes some courage.

#6. "How Do You Sleep?" - Whoever said that women are the cattiest of all creatures probably never heard this song. Here we have some good firing back between former best friends, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I say "former" in the technical sense. Clearly, at this time, they were mad at each other, but we do hurt the ones we love most. In my opinion, the fact that they were taking the time to have these musical arguments proves that they still cared. That's pretty much the reason why this song stands out.

#5. "Grow Old With Me" - I've heard this wild rumor that people used to get married and then stay married until they got old and died. Weird, I know. I guess John wanted to do that with Yoko. Now no matter what I or anyone else may feel about her or their relationship, this song he wrote about them was absolutely beautiful. The idea of it may seem dated by today's standards, and what life held for them makes the song a little sad, but it is still something for which some people strive.

#4. "Love" - There's not much to say about this song, and yet it places pretty high on this list. I think it is because of how simple it is. Sometimes love is simple and very straight forward. I have yet to find a song that expresses that idea so well.

#3. "Jealous Guy" - This one was actually begun during John's Beatle days during their time in India. The lyrics were different then, and the song was planned to be recorded a few times but never was. The music and the officially known lyrics were finally made into this song on 1971. See, this is why I try not to throw anything I write away.

#2. "How?" - I love when even the best of us can still have questions, and he had a lot of questions in this song. Whether or not any of them were answered, I have no idea. But knowing that he was in the same position as so many people was probably a comfort to them.

#1. "Watching the Wheels" - I decided a long time ago that I can't live my life to please other people in the world, just God and myself, in that order. That is why this song speaks to me so much. I know that John was writing this to respond to people who said he should come out of his retirement and get back to making music, but it can really be the story of a lot of us. Myself included. More than any other.

I know that John Lennon was far from a saint, though some people like to put him in that category. I just think he was an ordinary man with extraordinary talents. He was flawed, but there were also great things about him. I think the great things were what he shared with us, his songs. And to me, these are the best of those.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The One Seasoner's Club - Kidnapped

Greetings Pups,

During my time writing this blog, I have reviewed many things. Movies, albums, even a play. But today I'm going to try something new and see how it works out. I will try my hand at reviewing shows that either deservedly or undeservedly were only granted one season. And when I say one season, keep in mind that sometimes this may mean only thirteen episodes. You know the drill of the networks. Now I have decided to start this on a positive note by reviewing one of my favorite "one seasoners", Kidnapped. I touched a bit on this one in my tribute to Timothy Hutton, one of the stars of the show, but, hopefully without giving spoilers, I will go more in depth today.

Kidnapped debuted in 2006 with a premise I don't recall ever seeing on a television show, though I could be, and probably am, wrong. Every season, they were going to have a new kidnapping victim, and all the episodes would take us through the entire ordeal. There would be a core cast, the searchers, if you will, and a guest cast that would last throughout the season. Seemed like a good idea to me, but I guess after the cancellation, it didn't much matter.

So this core cast I mentioned was going to consist of three people. To start, we have, my man, Jeremy Sisto as Lucian Knapp, an ex-FBI operative and a current private investigator whom the families of kidnap victims call for help when they don't want to go to the police. Because, you know, ransom calls always include the line "Don't call the cops" Apparently, some people don't. We get a little peak into Knapp's back story, which clearly involves a botched rescue that still haunts him. Not getting to learn more about this character was probably one of the worst things about this show's cancellation. Oh, well, enough of that.

Next, we have Knapp's coordinator and assistant, Turner, played by Carmen Ejogo. Yeah, I don't know who that actress is either, but she was pretty good here. Maybe it's just because it's cliche, but I got the impression that they were eventually going to have her and Knapp get together in some capacity. I like to think they would have avoided that, though, and it has nothing to do with my crush on Sisto. Nothing at all. Finally, there's Delroy Lindo playing FBI Agent Latimer King. First of all, I love that character name. Second, and I did previously mention this, but . . . really? Delroy Lindo playing an agent looking for a missing kid? Can you say Ransom? Well, I guess since he was so good in that, they wanted him to do it again. So as you can tell, the victims' families would opt for some rogue help, but somehow the cops would show up anyway. Isn't that always the way?

Now, for the presumed seasonal cast, which ended up being just the rest of the cast. In this first and only season, our kidnap victim is a teenager named Leopold Cain played by Will Denton. Again, don't know much about this young actor, but props for his work here. Oh, and in case you couldn't tell by his first name, the character comes from a very wealthy family. His parents, Ellie and Conrad, are played by Dana Delaney and Timothy Hutton. Oh, Timothy. Another character named Conrad? Well, it brought good things the first time. Now I really liked these two as the parents, although, they seemed a bit of an odd couple. How often do you see an affluent New York husband and wife who kind of seem to like each other a little? Still, it may have been the current crisis that was bringing them together. Moving on.

There are actually quite a few talented and/or well-known faces in this supporting cast. We get Mykelti Williamson, still trying to remind us that there is more to him than being Forrest Gump's best friend, and Linus Roache, who would go on to co-star with Jeremy Sisto on Law and Order. There are also appearances by Anthony Rapp of Rent fame, and Doug Hutchinson, who some people know as Horace on Lost and, more recently, as a guy who married a 16 year old (that was in real life, BTW!). There is also an actor here by the name of James Urbaniak. Look, I'm sure he's a nice guy, and he is a very good actor. But for some reason, he always gives me the major creeps. Probably because he always plays creepy characters. Stop it, and things will be better between us, sir.

This show's one season did only last for thirteen episodes, and I wonder if they were planning more than one per year. But these thirteen were actually just the right amount to move the story forward without letting things get stale. Like I said, I don't want to give spoilers, but there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. Not to mention, a pretty decent payoff in the end. If you factor in everything, cast, concept, story, I think this show was brilliant. So naturally, it couldn't have survived. There is very little room on television for shows that are this good. I do wonder what might have been, though. I suppose I have to look on the bright side. I mean, if this show would have lasted for years, we never would have been treated to Jeremy Sisto's fine portrayal of Detective Cyrus Lupo on Law and Order. So despite the loss, things seem to work out for the best. For some people.

So the question to be asked is this: did it deserve a second season? Yes, yes and yes, again. It was pretty fantastic and deserved much better than it got. Now did it need a second season? Not exactly. They did manage to wrap up the story of the season, which was the point. However, I regret not being able to dig deeper into the character of Knapp. We got some teases here and there, probably because they were hoping to build things up over future seasons, but there were a lot of unanswered questions about him and his past. Honestly, I think, had this show lasted longer, Lucian Knapp would have been remembered as one of the greatest characters of television. I mean, we only got a taste here and it was incredible. Oh, what could have been!

So if you are interested in watching this show, it is available on DVD and it's also streaming on Netflix. It really is worth the watch. Like, a lot!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beauty or Beast - Part 1

Greetings Pups,

Yesterday, I talked a little about the upcoming Arrow show. There was talk of The CW and Smallville, so that made me think of something else. This season, we are also getting a new Beauty and the Beast show, which will be on The CW and will star Kristin Kreuk of Smallville fame. You see the connection. So, since I will most likely be checking this one out as well anyway, I figured I would do a little prediction post about this, too.

Now I mentioned last time that the Arrow show seemed to be straying a bit from the source material of the Green Arrow. This one seems to be cutting it pretty close to its own, that being the 1987 Beauty and the Beast series. It's supposed to be loosely based on that story, even down to using the same names for the main characters. Maybe that's where it ends; maybe not. But let me give you all a quick recap of the original show, in case you don't know about it.

In 1987, CBS started airing this show and it starred Linda Hamilton as Catherine Chandler, the beauty, and Ron Perlman as Vincent, the beast. Catherine is a lawyer who gets abducted, beaten and slashed and is saved by Vincent. He takes her to his sewer house, which is, of course, the most sanitary place to go when you're bleeding. He tends to her wounds, and they become very close. He kind of became her guardian. They even solve some crimes together. That's why this show was billed as a romance, crime-drama. Whatever. Not that I'm judging. I mean, if you take into account all the crushes I've had on Law and Order cops, in my own head, that show was a romance, crime-drama, too.

So anyway, that was the premise of the first season, but as time went on, things just got wackier and wackier until cancellation rescued us. All the bizarre happenings aside, I think that this show could have stood for a little more back story. I mean, I don't recall them explaining how he became this cat man looking beast. Was it a curse? Was he born that way? He never did turn human. Who knows? Hopefully, this new show will do better with that.

Oh, yeah. The new show. I have very little info on it, except for what I told you all here. I just hope they take the mistakes of the original and fix them. Actually, I just hope it's good. I guess we'll find out in a week. Stay tuned.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

All In Ar - row - Part 1

Greetings Pups,

One week from tonight, the CW will debut a new show entitled Arrow, and I thought I'd give some projection on what I think it may be like. Then, after I watch it, I'll let you know if I was right.

Okay, so this is going to be a show about Oliver Queen, who we all know as Green Arrow. Admittedly, I don't know a ton about this character. I know what I've heard, and I know what I saw on Smallville. What I learned from that was that Oliver Queen came from a very rich family, and his parents died when he was a kid. When he got older, he somehow got stranded on an island where these natives taught him how to shoot arrows, then when he got back home, he created the Green Arrow persona. From what I've read about this new series, there are a few changes.

First off, all I seem to see is "arrow", but no "green". Seems strange, since I thought green was all the rage these days. The other thing has a lot to do with characters and back story. Apparently in this, he has a sister and his mom is alive, and there's someone named Robert Queen. I don't know if that's supposed to be his dad or maybe an uncle. Then, there's a character who is named either Laurel Lance or Dinah Laurel Lance, depending on what website you're on. And as we all know, Dinah Lance is Black Canary, and she and Green Arrow are a well-known couple in comic history. But I don't know if she'll be Black Canary or if these are her pre days.

Like I said, I'm not a rabid comic fan, but I have a feeling that some of these changes may not set well with the hardcore fans. I mean, even I can find a problem with either of his parents being alive. I believe their death was a major plot point in the story Oliver Queen. I guess some people don't agree.

Well, I am definitely going to give this one a chance. There's a good possibility that I'll like it. Mostly, because I have a feeling it will be very similar to Smallville, since the guy who directed this pilot also worked on that show. So once I do see it, I'll get to part two of this post. I hope I have good things to say.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Marriage Counselor - Play Review

Greetings Pups,

I have mentioned on a few occasions that I am a Tyler Perry fan. So it seems only right that the first time I review a play it would be one of his, namely The Marriage Counselor. Now I must first say that I did not have the opportunity to see this play live in a theater, and, though I would someday love to do so, I have never seen any of his plays in that manner either. But being the nice guy that he is, Mr. Perry puts the performances of his plays on DVD so everyone can see them. Therefore, this is technically a play on DVD review.

For those of you who don't know, there are a few differences between the plays and the movies of Tyler Perry. The plays tend to be longer, and they feature a lot of music, original songs, classics and gospel. It's a show, basically, and I can certainly understand why. People pay more to see a play than a movie, so they want to get their money's worth, and they do. Also, the movies that share titles with a particular play aren't exactly the same story. Mr. Perry tends to take elements of different plays and put them together for the plot of the movie. For example, his Madea's Big Happy Family movie had the main plot of the play of the same name as well as some things from his play What's Done in the Dark. I don't why he does it like that, but people, including myself, do like them, so let him do it. Okay, the play.

The Marriage Counselor in this story is named Judith, and she lives with her husband, Roger, her mother, T.T., and her father-in-law, Floyd, who had to move in after Hurricane Katrina. The marriage of Judith and Roger is a bit stressed because of a few things, like their parents living with them and their respective work loads. Though Judith works a lot as well, she begins to feel neglected by her husband due to his job and his financial concerns. This poses some extra problems when former her boyfriend, Ronald, reenters the picture. That is the core plot of the story, but there are some peripheral things happening which serve to be very entertaining.

As we are exposed to Judith's work life, we get to meet some of her patients, specifically, two couples. One is Oscar and Michelle, whose problems stem mostly from Oscar being dissatisfied with Michelle's appearance. The other is Tank and Patrice. Tank is a pastor and his new wife Patrice is a former stripper, or as she would say, "Exotic dancer, boo!" Mm-hmm. We also meet an office cleaner named Lisa, who has some serious problems of her own, and Judith's very inquisitive and spirited receptionist, Becky. She is the lone white girl, and I only bring this up because the characters do it quite often in the play. It's practically a plot point.

Throughout the play, Judith's personal and professional lives intertwine. This is how it succeeds in strongly building the story. Everything interconnects very well, and it seems very true to the way our lives tend to work. Okay, now on to speaking about some of the performances.

I can honestly say that there really is not a weak link when it comes to the actors. Everyone plays their roles as they should be played but takes them to a special level that makes us feel invested in all of them and their stories. However, there are three particular people who I think stood out best.

First is Brandi Milton. She plays Patrice, and, though the performance is over the top, you really feel like that was the best thing she could have done. And when it comes to the rare quiet moments of the character, she manages to handle that very well. Next is Palmer Williams, Jr. as Floyd. Most of this performance consists of him fighting with T.T. and being high from his home grown pot. Yes, you read that correctly. Call it cliche if you must, but the man played this part brilliantly, to say nothing of his ability to convincingly turn an R&B song into a gospel song. Just Add Jesus. Finally, we have my girl Stephanie Ferrett. She plays Becky, and she pretty much stole the show, in my opinion. About her acting, first, she truly made this character a "character", and her delivery was hilarious. But as great as her talent is as an actress, it pales in comparison to her gift as a singer. In the plays of Tyler Perry, we are usually treated to a group, medley, singalong type of scene, and it is there that we get to hear Miss Stephanie knock everyone out of their seats. The scene is pretty far into the play, and after getting to know the character, I don't think anyone saw that coming. But I'm certainly glad it did, so may I suggest you YouTube this girl. She is amazing.

And so there you have my first review of a play. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Tyler Perry's movies, because here you really do get the entertainment and the message we have all come to expect from him. And despite the fact that there is no Madea in this one, it is still quite enjoyable. Actually, I like that it shows how well he can produce a play without his most famous character. It proves that there is more to him than that one thing.

Now there is currently a movie being made that is based on this play, or at least, it shares the title. There has been a bit of buzz due to the "controversy" of Mr. Perry casting Kim Kardashian. I guess some of his fans don't exactly like her. Do I? Well, as a Christian, I love her with the love of the Lord, just like I am supposed to do with everybody in the world. So . . . that's my answer. I have no idea how much of the story of the play will infiltrate the movie, but if it is just as good, I will certainly have to see it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer