Ranking the top 5 Binge-Watching worthy shows for the end of 2017: Filling the void of holiday reruns and specials

Happy Tuesday TV Fans!  As we approach the holidays, you may be preoccupied with your never-ending to do list, shopping, cooking, and spending some quality time at home with your family.  There is also that troublesome fear setting in that your favorite shows will be taking a break from new episodes and you will be left with a void of reruns and holiday specials.  So what’s a TV viewer to do?  Fear not, for there are plenty of binge-watching worthy shows to choose from when you may need a break from all of the holiday chaos surrounding you.  My top 5 binge-watching worthy shows to choose from for the end of 2017 are:

5) Fox’s The Mick.  I have been watching The Mick for two seasons now mostly because it stars the wonderfully funny Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Since the show is on Fox, the humor is not as crude and extreme, but it is just as funny.  Olson pretty much plays a similar version of Dee from It’s Always Sunny, which is hilarious enough, but supporting characters like Alba and Jimmy steal the show.  They are laugh out loud funny.  There are a lot of sitcom-like shows that don’t make me laugh out loud and I find this is hard to come by now.  Here and there I’ll chuckle, but it’s not the same as with Friends and Seinfeld from years ago.  The Mick has the perfect balance of value, or maybe lack of family values is more accurate similar to Shameless, with over-the-top hilarious moments.  I absolutely recommend that you binge-watch this show and check out the Halloween episode from a few weeks ago which is one of my personal favorites.

4) Netflix’s Slasher.  So one of my favorite series of scary movies of all time is Scream and I was somewhat disappointed in MTV’s version of the show they produced.  Don’t get me wrong, I did watch and see it through, but there was something lacking for me.  The characters weren’t believable and there wasn’t that underlying fear gnawing at me.  Netflix got it right with two seasons of Slasher.  Each season is different, very similar to American Horror Story with familiar actors but a different premise, plot, and murderer.  There were moments I had to close my eyes because I was so scared in the first season and the main character is someone you desperately want to root for.  Having characters present that you actually want to see make it out alive does carry weight.  The second season has more of an Agatha Christie like vibe mixed with the movie, Heathers which I found to be very addicting once I got past the first few episodes filled with back story and flashbacks.  No one is safe and it provides some edge of your seat moments as a result.

3) Netflix’s The Punisher.  I am a big fan of Marvel in general and The Punisher is one of my favorite heroes or maybe anti-heroes of all time.  Usually when I say this, fans question this and say why not Wolverine or Captain America?  The Punisher is so powerful to me because he has no super powers and his quest for revenge is sympathetic and tragic.  When Netflix’s Daredevil season 2 came out, the best part of it was the introduction of The Punisher.  I was ecstatic when I heard that the character would be getting his own series.  I am happy to say that I successfully binge-watched this show over the weekend and it is everything I could have hoped for.  Jon Bernthal is so believable as Frank Castle that you would think the comic series was based off of him.  He is someone to root for and although the violence may be extreme, the enemies get what is coming to them.  I also found myself investing time and energy into the supporting cast as well which is rare for me.  The villains are also so intense and heart-breaking, as Frank Castle finds himself being betrayed left and right while he is trying to make amends and bring those who deserve it to justice.

2) Showtime’s SMILF.  There are only a few episodes that have come out so far so you have plenty of time to catch up and binge-watch this hilarious new show starring and created by the brilliant and lovable Frankie Shaw.  The show has you laughing, crying, and cheering for single mother, Bridgette who is trying to find her way and pursue her dreams while maintaining a strong bond with her son.  Bridgette is far from the perfect mother for sure, but she truly loves her son and is doing the best she can.  You find yourself truly invested in Bridgette and root for her through every moment no matter how ridiculous some of them are.

1) Netflix’s Stranger Things season 2.  This show and season is absolutely worth a binge-watch and perhaps a second or third time through.  That’s how good it is.  The music alone sparked new life into this season, the characters and friendships were bonded further, and the quest to find out where one comes from and what “home” truly means is touching and beautiful.  Once again, this season blended the perfect amount of comedy with sci-fi mystery.  New friends and characters are introduced and the adventures don’t stop.  I don’t want to give away too much in case you haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet, but remember “friends don’t lie.”  So please watch and enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your thoughts and comments below.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Shameless” Season 8 episode 3 ranking the top 5 moments: Fiona was right

Happy Monday TV fans!  After watching Showtime’s Shameless season 8 episode 3 last night, I am left with the familiar saying “the family who prays together stays together,” although in this case it’s more like the family who pays together stays together.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  In last night’s episode, Fiona proves she is right once again to her family and lets the new neighbor know that she is not one to step on.  Kev embraces his new commitment in life to ask every woman he sees about how often she does a self-exam while V sets everything right with Svetlana and makes a deal.  It’s good to see Svetlana back in her heels again ready to stomp over anyone who gets in her way of living the American dream.  Sure her dream may be to open up a Quiznos in the mid-west, but who are we to judge.  Meanwhile, Lip pays it forward and tries to help his former professor while Frank embraces a new identity.  My top 5 moments from Shameless season 8 episode 3 are:

5) Kev shows Fiona how to do a self breast exam and expands his vocabulary in the process.  Kev is proving that he is ready to spread the news to anyone who will listen on the importance of checking your breasts.  You would think that just talking about the importance would be enough, but he is not done until he actually demonstrates this on you.  Kev also shows off his sharp new vocab utilizing words like “malignant” and he is very proud of this.  It is something really important so as long as Kev is helping others become more aware, more power to him.

4) Frank proves his worth as “Francis.”  It may seem like Frank is making another sad attempt to turn over a new leaf and embrace the origins of his name.  He even brings over a dead squirrel in the process.  While he may not be Saint Francis, Frank tells the meth dealer after his family that he is not going to threaten them anymore and that they paid him what they owed.  There is a glimmer of real father here protecting his family which even makes Fiona happy, finally saying “thanks Francis.”  Is Frank changing for good?  Probably not, but it’s nice to see him stepping up to help his family.

3) Fiona tells Mel she can “be ghetto.”  Fiona is really taking pride in the apartment building she owns and is dedicated to turning it into a suitable place to live.  After she meets with a candidate to rent the apartment, neighbor Mel lies to him and says that it is infested with bed bugs just so she can have her friends move in for a cheaper rate.  Fiona confronts Mel and tells her that she does not have time for her petty games.  She gets inches away from her face and doesn’t break in the slightest, showing her neighbor that she is not one to mess with.  She even goes as far to tell Mel that if she thinks she knows what bed bugs are, she will pour them all over her bed just so she has an excuse to burn every last possession of hers.

2) Fiona was right.  When the kids come to Fiona about what to do about the angry meth dealer, Fiona is more than willing to help set it right.  But not before she has each and every member of the family say “I was wrong, you were right Fiona.”  Fiona has been telling them the entire time that this was a bad idea, but the kids continued on anyway and she wants them to learn a valuable lesson.

1) The Gallagher family digs up Monica.  So it happens that Fiona buried the rest of the Meth with their dead mother, Monica which leads to an interesting bonding moment between the siblings.  They are covered in dirt, digging for an eternity, and you would think this would be bad enough.  Carl then uses a forklift to speed up the process, only to drop the coffin, which opens suddenly as their dead Mother falls out.  Their screams of horror are hilarious, but they work together as a team while they continue to tell Fiona that she was right all along.

 

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts and comments on Shameless below.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic

If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Throw-back Sunday: Ranking the top 5 couples from “Lost”

Happy Sunday TV fans!  As I woke up this morning, the wind is out of control and I have the urge to sit back, relax, and watch some more of ABC’s Lost.  My dog, Honey, approves as well, insisting she reserve the comfiest part of the couch per usual.  I wrote about characters last week and I realized that Lost is about more than the characters, it’s about their connections to one another.  While some characters are linked through friendship, rivalry, and family; many of the heart-warming bonds are romantic.

This got me really thinking about my favorite ships or couples from the series.  I just recently learned what “ships” actually are so I thought I would incorporate it in here.  🙂 Like my top characters list, this one has also shifted for me over the years with each re-watch.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  My top five ships/couples from Lost are:

5

Kate & Sawyer aka Skate. 

So the first time I watched the series, I adored the relationship between Kate and Sawyer.  I know that many fans of the show either prefer Kate and Sawyer or Juliet and Sawyer, but not both.  I think that Sawyer was in a different place in his life for each relationship.  With Kate, he is still trying to discover who he is and come to terms with what happened to his family and for murdering an innocent man in cold blood before he got on Flight 815.  If Juliet were to come into Sawyer’s life at this time, there would be no relationship.  He wasn’t ready for it yet.  Kate, like Sawyer, was also dealing with guilt of her own, running from it at each chance she got.

When she thinks she is talking to the ghost of her father, Wayne, she tells him that “every time she feels something for Sawyer she thinks of him and it makes her sick.”  They both needed each other to help them grow and although it may not have been true love, they had a fiery passion that could not be easily replicated.  Kate is also able to deal with Sawyer more than the other Losties and is able to convince him to help on more than one occasion.  One of my favorite moments with them is when they play “I Never” while drinking which reveals just how alike they are.  Kate is also the one to realize that Sawyer wrote the letter he carries around and sees right through his tough guy act.  When they are trapped by the others in the cages, Kate will do anything to save his life which shows that although she may not realize her love for him yet, she does truly care for him.  In another one of my favorite scenes, they kiss and Sawyer tells Kate she “tastes like strawberries” and her reply is that he “tastes like fish biscuits.”  Ultimately, Sawyer is not ready to be with Kate or Freckles as he likes to call her just yet.  He jumps off the chopper so that she can make it to the freighter.

Years later when Kate returns, he explains that he wasn’t fit to be her boyfriend then similar to not being fit to raise his own daughter.  He has changed so much over the years but circumstances are different now and Juliet is in the equation.

4

Charlie & Claire. 

One of my favorite scenes of the entire series is when Charlie brings back imaginary peanut butter and the two of them share this on the beach.  Charlie is dealing with his heroin addiction when he crashes on the island and displays a lot of selfish and foolish behavior along the way.  However, his love for Claire is pure and beautiful.  There is a teenage dream like quality when they are together.  Although I don’t see the passion like with Kate and Sawyer, their connection transcends this.  When Desmond later tells Charlie that he is going to die, Charlie writes down his “greatest hits” and insists that Desmond give it to Claire when he is gone.  His top moment of his life is the day he met Claire which may sound cliche on the surface, but it is so representative of the bond between these two.

What’s so beautiful about their love is that Charlie also fully accepts Aaron as his family too.  He may go off the deep end with this several times, but ultimately he considers him to be his son and leaves the family DS ring to him.  In the last episode of the series, many characters are re-united and when Charlie and Claire are brought together again, it brings tears to my eyes.

3

Juliet & Sawyer aka Suliet. 

As I mentioned earlier, I do think that both relationships are epic in their own way.  When Sawyer is left on the island, he transforms as a character.  He understands and accepts that he needs to take on leadership and help others.  In embracing the best part of himself, he is now truly ready to open his heart to someone else and finds love with Juliet.  When it was first revealed that Sawyer and Juliet were together, many fans reacted against this ship.  After watching the series so many times, I understand and appreciate their love.  Sawyer demonstrated signs of selflessness with Kate, but he was still running from himself at the same time.

When he is with Juliet, he now understands what it means to care for someone else and to be loyal to them until the end.  Perhaps I did not realize how much Sawyer and Juliet care for one another until I watched “The Incident,” season 5 finale.  Juliet’s death is one of the most tragic ones in the entire series for me mostly because of the impact it has on Sawyer.  Like with Charlie and Claire, when Sawyer and Juliet are re-united together in the vending machine scene, I lose it and the tears keep on coming.

2

Desmond & Penny. 

After watching the series many times, this couple has always been present somewhere in my top five.  One of my favorite moments of the show is in the season 2 finale when Desmond opens the book, Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens.  Desmond has previously revealed that he was saving the book for when he died as he wanted it to be the last thing he read before leaving this world.  Penny knows and understands Desmond so well, that she leaves a note for him in the book.  She knows that he will only open the book in a moment of great despair and writes:  “Please don’t give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. I Love you, Pen.”  This is not just a sentiment.  Penny truly means this and the end of season 2 reveals that she is still looking for Desmond even though he has been gone for over three years.  She tells him that “with enough money and determination, you can find anyone.”

As if this couldn’t get any more epic and destined enough, in the episode “The Constant,” Desmond is flashing back and forth through different times and tells Penny that he is not going to call her for eight years and she cannot change her number.  When Desmond is calling from the freighter, my heart was beating uncontrollably wondering if she would pick up.  To fans delight, she does answer and saves Desmond once again.  The love between Desmond and Penny is so powerful and it goes to show that having someone like in that your life who never gives up on you is greater than anything else that gets in the way.

1

Sun & Jin. 

For me, Sun and Jin have a love that is very different from the other characters.  Out of all of the ships/couples, their love is the most real.  Their love isn’t perfect and there are times where they do temporarily give up on one another and forget about why they fell in love in the first place.  But this is what makes their love so important.  Real love isn’t out of a fairy-tale; although I’m sure we would like it to be.  Real love is about compromise and accepting that we will make mistakes along the way.  Sun has an affair with another man and even contemplates leaving Jin and running away at the airport.  However, Jin shows her that he is holding a small white flower, just like when they first met and she changes her mind.

It breaks Jin’s heart when he finds out that Sun speaks English, representing another lie she kept from him for so long.   Both Sun and Jin are looking to prove themselves to the other, only to later realize that their love is enough.  The fact that they are able to forgive each other for mistakes they made before, shows the viewer what the island is all about.  It makes perfect sense to me why Jacob chose them as candidates.  While other characters have discovered who they were along the way, Sun and Jin truly find themselves together as a couple.  Their death is one of the saddest for me to watch and the image of them holding hands under water leaves us with a reminder that they will never be apart again.

I hope you enjoyed my list and feel free to post your own comments and thoughts about the ships on Lost.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Once Upon a Time” Ranking the top 5 moments from Season 7 episode 7: Who is in San Francisco?

ABC’s Once upon a Time, season 7 episode 7, is filled with surprises and unexpected twists and turns.  After watching the two hour episode last night, it left me with even more questions.  Please note that spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  It looks like Hook may find his happy ending after all with an unexpected bond that not even a poison heart can break.  Speaking of hearts, Regina/Roni may not have left hers in San Francisco, so who is she going after for help?  My top five moments from Once upon a Time, season 7 episode 7 are:

5) Henry & Ella/Jacinda get trapped together in a net.  This scene was pure magic for me and actually showed me the spark between these two which has been blaringly missing from the prior episodes.  It brought me back to when Prince Charming caught Snow White in a net, bringing together these destined soul mates in an adorable meet cute.  It also reminded me of ABC’s Lost, when Jack and Kate get stuck in a net together much like Henry and Ella. It was a nice way for the writers to give fans a sense of nostalgia and ignite a much needed connection between Henry and Ella/Jacinda.

4) Mother Gothel proves she is a villain to watch.  I was excited to see the introduction of Rapunzel into the world of OUAT, only to find out that it was the witch, Gothel in disguise.  She plays on Hook’s weakness who is a fool for love, only to use him to give birth to a magical child with her blood so that she may leave the tower.  When Hook/Detective Rogers frees her as Eloise Gardner, she reveals that Ivy/Drizella and Lady Tremaine may not be the main villains we thought they were.  Gothel is done hiding in the shadows and is about to show the world what she is capable of.

3) Jacinda and Lucy are re-united.  I was so sympathetic with Jacinda when Lucy was taken away from her and she revealed her own insecurities as a mother when she admits that she waived her parental rights and let Lucy go with her grandmother voluntarily.  A new romantic interest is introduced into the mix as well when Lucy’s father, Nick/Jack, comes back into their lives to help with the case.  While Jacinda claims she has no feelings for Nick, it makes us wonder if this is another threat to the bond between her and Henry.  Jacinda does ultimately get Lucy back and Lucy accepts her mother with open arms.

2) Hook’s daughter is revealed to be…Alice!  The introduction of Hook’s child was a surprise for me but I thought it gave him a real chance to be selfless and to raise his baby after she was abandoned by her mother, Gothel.  I thought it was especially touching when he sang her a lullaby, revealing his own need to have some form of connection in the world.  Alice’s story was already very interesting to me, different from the other versions of Alice who were introduced previously on Once Upon a Time.  This gives Alice a new purpose and hope for Hook to find his own happily ever after.

1) Who is in San Francisco? The episode ends with Regina/Roni going off to San Francisco to get some help to take down the villains and wake everyone up.  After Rumpel rejects her proposal to team up and continues on as if he does not remember who he is, Regina/Roni realizes that she will need to recruit help from somewhere else.  So who is in San Francisco?  I am banking on Zelena but we will have to wait and see.

I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to post your comments and theories below.  OUAT may be on a break for the next few weeks, but let’s keep the theories coming!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Ranking the top 5 episodes of the series

Happy Friday TV fans!  I was somewhat uninspired by the shows that aired last night so I decided to return to an old favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Over the years, Buffy still holds up for me as one of my top shows of all time.  Buffy first aired when I was in high school and in desperate need of a female lead to look up to that was strong, resilient, smart, and selfless.  Plus Sarah Michelle Gellar’s wardrobe as Buffy helped my fashion sense tremendously.

Watching Buffy helped shape me into the person I am today and while I have not re-watched the show in several years, the episodes are still fresh in my mind.  I have to say that out of all my top 5 rankings, this was the most difficult show to narrow down my selections.

I adore making lists so when I was brainstorming last night about which episodes I wanted to include, I found myself scratching off some and adding others repeatedly.  There were some that I really wanted to include but I thought it was only fair to pick 5.  I think that goes to show that there are so many amazing episodes of Buffy.  Good job Joss Whedon!

My five top episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for are:

5

“Hush” (season 4, episode 10).  

I have to admit that I still have nightmares about “The Gentlemen” from this episode.  They are so well crafted and creepy, that even Freddy and Jason cannot compare.  “The Gentlemen” travel to Sunnydale to collect hearts and steal the voices of everyone so that no one can hear you scream.  I was in college when this episode first came out and I remember being very hesitant to open my dorm-room door after a knock because of this.

Sure that is a little extreme, but that’s how truly scary these demons were.  What really makes this episode stand out is that Buffy and the Scoobies have to find a way to defeat them and communicate with one another without their voices.  This leads to some great comedy along the way balanced with sheer terror.

4

“Fool for Love” (season 5, episode 7).

In this episode, Buffy comes very close to dying and is looking for a way to learn from her mistakes and stay alive.  She decides to go to the vampire, Spike, for help.  She knows that over his lifetime, he has killed two slayers and she wants to know how.  For me, Spike has always been one of my favorite characters.

The development of his back-story was so interesting and necessary to the show.  What really grabs the viewer is when he tells Buffy that “he’s always been bad,” only to flash back to a scene where he is dressed in a dusty suit, reciting poetry.  Who would have thought that one of the most dangerous vampires of all time had a romantic side?  We find out through the episode that he was nicknamed “William the Bloody” because of his “bloody awful poetry.” 

While it is interesting to see how Spike is turned into a vampire and how he defeated the other two slayers, what really stands out is his love for Cecily.  He had been crafting his poetry for her and pouring his heart out, only for her to reject him and say that he is “beneath her.”  This moment is what drags Spike’s vulnerability to the surface and comes back to haunt him when Buffy later says the same thing to him.

For me, the end of this episode always stands the test of time.  Spike goes off to kill Buffy for making a fool of him and he sees her crying on her porch steps after she has learned that her mother is very ill.  He goes to sit with her and comfort her in what I think is the purest and most beautiful moment between them.

At this moment, Spike doesn’t have a soul.  Sure, he has a chip in his brain preventing him from hurting others, but he is able to show true compassion and friendship here, which is really beautiful.

3

“The Gift” (season 5, episode 22).  

This is a very powerful season finale and I often thought that the series would end here.  It wasn’t until the UPN network picked up Buffy for seasons 6 and 7 that it continued on.  A lot goes on in this episode and a catastrophic portal opens that can only be closed by the blood of the key, Buffy’s sister Dawn.

Buffy makes the ultimate sacrifice, choosing to jump into the portal to sacrifice herself to save her sister and the world.  A flash-back reveals Buffy reminding Dawn that their blood is the same, which brought tears to my eyes.  Buffy tells Dawn that “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.  Be brave.  Live.  For me.” 

As if this moment couldn’t have been tragic enough, Spike’s reaction to Buffy’s death is so heart-wrenching and real.  He does truly care for her and feels he let her down.

2

“The Zeppo” (season 3, episode 13).  

You may be wondering why I included this episode and why it is ranked so high on my list.  “The Zeppo” is the funniest episode of the entire series, following a series of events through Xander’s perspective.

In the beginning of the episode, Cordelia talks about how everyone in the Scoobies has something to contribute except for him.  He’s like “Jimmy Olsen” or “The Zeppo.”  Xander gets into a never-ending adventure where Buffy and the rest of the gang are simply background noise.

Xander’s reaction to each new challenge is hilarious and the music is spot on, which makes this episode stand out for me as one of my all-time favorites.

Some honorable mentions before revealing my number one episode of Buffy are:

  • “School Hard”
  • “Halloween”
  • “Innocence”
  • “Passion”
  • “I Only Have Eyes For You”
  • “Homecoming”
  • “Lovers Walk”
  • “The Wish”
  • “The Prom”
  • “Living Conditions”
  • “Something Blue”
  • “Who Are You?”
  • “Buffy vs. Dracula”
  • “Triangle”
  • “The Body”
  • “Life Serial”
  • “Once More, With Feeling”
  • “Tabula Rasa”
  • “Conversations with Dead People”
  • “Lies My Parents Told Me”
  • “Chosen”

1

“Becoming Part 2” (season 2, episode 22).  

This has always been my absolute favorite episode of the series.  While the episode has a lot going on, the last moments are what make it so powerful.  Angel has lost his soul and became the evil Angelus and Buffy is fully prepared to put a stop to him, recognizing that the man she fell in love with no longer exists within this soulless demon.  Angelus is opening the mouth of a demon that will swallow the world hold, unleashing hell upon earth.

Just as Buffy is about to strike him down with a sword and save the day, Willow’s spell takes effect, and his soul has now been returned.  Angel doesn’t remember what has happened or where he is.  The damage is done; however, as the demon’s mouth has already been opened and Buffy must destroy the love of her life to close the portal.  Buffy reveals her selflessness again to save the world, losing her true love in the process.

Once the tragic task is completed, Buffy leaves Sunnydale, unable to deal with the tragic consequences.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to comment on some of your own favorite episodes.  Happy viewing and have a wonderful weekend!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Riverdale” Season 2 Episode 6 Ranking the top 5 moments: Betty vs the Black Hood

Greetings TV fans!  For today, I am going to be counting down my top five moments from CW’s Riverdale season 2, episode 6.  The introduction of a new target on the Black Hood’s radar called the “Sugar Man” had everyone on edge.  Jughead and Archie took a page out of Dominic Toretto’s book from The Fast and the Furious, and Cheryl Blossom…well blossomed into a likable character.  Please note that spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  My top 5 moments from Riverdale, season 2 episode 6 are:

5) Archie makes the right call.  Archie and Jughead are about to participate in a drag race, winner takes all.  Jughead is out to win at any cost and Archie makes the right call by notifying the authorities ahead of time.  Since drag racing is illegal, the Ghoulies involved are arrested and off the streets for now.  While this may temporarily solve the Jingle Jangle problem, Riverdale’s new favorite drug, Jughead points out that the Ghoulies are going to be after Archie when they get out of jail and that the plan will back-fire.  Jughead has not been seeing so clearly since Betty broke up with him and he needed Archie to knock some sense into him before he spirals out of control.

4) Cheryl’s “moment” at the drag race.  Cheryl had me laughing out loud telling Toni to step aside and that she was born for this.  She was dressed perfectly for the occasion and dropped her red ribbon in perfect fashion, as the cars sped off in a fury.  I think you might have found your new calling Cheryl.  Keep the laughs coming.

3) Betty & Veronica team up to draw out the “Sugar Man.”  I have to admit when Veronica showed up on the corner to score some Jingle Jangle in her platform purple pumps; she took undercover to a new level.  The duo worked together in a failed attempt but it was nice to see them back on good terms again.

2) Cheryl’s mother proves she does have a heart.  I found it impossibly cold of Cheryl’s mother to make a deal with the Sinclair family, implying that Cheryl had something to do with her almost attack.  Cheryl has been looking for some sense of family since Jason has died.  At the end of the episode, Cheryl’s mother reveals to her the identity of the “Sugar Man” and throws the check into the fire that the Sinclair’s gave her.  This gesture provides Cheryl with a glimmer of hope that her mother does believe in her even if she doesn’t show it very often.

1) Betty turns the tables on the Black Hood.  Betty has been following orders and jeopardizing her relationships and friendships in the process.  After providing the Black Hood with the identity of the “Sugar Man,” who ends up being Jughead’s English teacher, she tells him that she is going to find out who he or she is next.  She’s coming for the Black Hood and I have to say it’s about time.  He or she is no match for Betty.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your thoughts and theories on Riverdale below.  Happy Viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“American Horror Story” ranking the seasons from best to worst: Nine Circles of Hell

So after finishing up FX’s American Horror Story:  Cult last night, I started thinking about how it held up against the other seasons.  Before the premiere of AHS : Cult, Ryan Murphy, co-creater of the series, had posted the nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno:

Limbo (Murder House)

Lust

Gluttony (Hotel)

Greed (Freak Show)

Anger (Roanoke)

Heresy (Cult)

Violence

Fraud (Asylum)

Treachery (Coven)

Murphy had previous explained that each season is connected, but the link to the nine circles of hell invests the viewer into new theories and also suggests that the series will have an end after season 9.  Perhaps it is all meant to keep fans on the edge of their seats, but it does make one really think about the similarities to each circle of hell and how they are all intertwined.  After watching all of the seasons so far, I have ranked them in the following order (best-worst):

  • Coven
  • Hotel
  • Murder House
  • Cult
  • Asylum
  • Freak Show
  • Roanoke

While you may agree or disagree with my rankings, it really got me thinking about how this matches up with Inferno’s nine circles of hell.  The last (ninth) circle of hell is “treachery” which matches up with my overall pick for best season, AHS:  Coven.  For me, the betrayal in “Coven” really scratches beneath the surface and tugs at your soul.  On the surface, the witch-craft element is very entertaining and reminiscent of the movie, The Craft.  However, there are a lot more elements going on in the show and treachery is at its core.

My second favorite season is AHS:  Hotel which pairs up with “gluttony.”  According to Inferno, “Gluttony” is the third circle of hell.  Those who are guilty of “gluttony” are forced to lie in a slush created by an icy rain which is meant to represent those who have overindulged in “food, drink, and other worldly pleasures.”  The icy rain that brings an eternal bitter cold to the sinner connects me to the Countess portrayed by Lady Gaga in AHS:  Hotel.  She is a vampire already representing eternity and feeds on the blood of others.  What’s really interesting to me is that in this circle of hell, the beings punished are not able to see the other victims lying near them because of their own selfishness.  Not being able to feel remorse or love for others is dangerous enough, but its combination with gluttony is even more so.

My third favorite season is the first season AHS:  Murder House.  Interestingly enough, this aligns with “Limbo,” which is the first circle of hell.  This could be just a coincidence, but those who are trapped here are unable to move on to heaven and are forced to reside in an inferior version, much like ghosts who are unable to move on, which appear throughout Murder House.

If the theory is true, that would leave AHS with 2 more seasons representing “Lust” and “Violence.”  While I am not sure if we will see any burning rain or violent winds, it really gives the viewer a lot to think about in terms of what type of premise we will see next.

As of August 2018, we now also know that the series has been picked up for a tenth season and will continue through 2020.  I still think that the “nine circles of hell” idea is important and relevant to the show, but I am curious to explore more and see where we are headed.  I am counting the days until the premiere on September 12th.  How about you?

Feel free to post your thoughts and theories on AHS below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

[twitter-follow screen_name=’TV_Fanatic_Girl’]

If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support! 

I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

When Kallie Bennett, a jaded teenage girl plagued by her alcoholic mother and her peers molded out of sheer bubble gum perfection, chases after Alice in Wonderland herself, she ends up lost in her own version of Wonderland, which forces her to face her utmost fears and introduces her to familiar characters with a dark twist. Among these characters is Ches, a gorgeous vampire with a conflicted conscience, who becomes Kallie’s guide and blossoming love interest. She also crosses paths with Queen Hartley, a manipulative witch who has the power to strip away one’s memories and imagination, which brings a bone chilling new meaning to “off with their heads.” In The Search for Alice, Kallie starts to realize that her Wonderland is just as frightening as her own reality and that she cannot always run away from her problems. She must figure out a way to defeat Queen Hartley and return home before it is too late, but she soon learns that escaping Wonderland means leaving Ches behind forever.

Want to read more?  You can click the link directly below for a free preview.  Thanks for your support!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice Cover

“Breaking Bad” ranking the top 5 episodes of the series

After re-watching AMC’s Breaking Bad all the way through for the second time, this series maintained a comfortable spot in my top 5 television series of all time.  The characters of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, have so much depth.

They both possess flaws but as viewers, we accept them for it, and they transform into even more complex characters throughout the series. Their partnership is heartfelt and tragic at the same time, remaining constant among a whirlwind of dangerous challenges and foes along the way.

After re-watching the series for a second time, I was eager to rank my top 5 episodes from the show.  Please note that spoilers are below if you have not gotten the chance to watch and if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you get to cooking!  My top 5 episodes from Breaking Bad are:

5

“One Minute” (season 3, episode 7)

For starters, the flashback to “The Cousins” as young boys guided by Hector Salamanca is haunting on its own.  The two boys are fighting and one wishes the other was dead.  Hector proceeds to drown the boy, asking the other one how much longer he has down there.  When the boy comes up for air, Hector reminds the brothers that family is everything. 

In present time, Jesse is recovering from the horrific beat-down that Hank gave him, after Walt had someone prank his cell to claim that his wife was in the hospital.  The end of the episode had me on the edge of my seat, as Hank is seen entering his car in a shopping plaza with flowers for his wife.  Everything seems to be going fine until he gets an anonymous call that two men are coming to kill him.

Even before we see “The Cousins” approach the vehicle, Hank’s reaction to every little sound and flash that goes by almost makes time stand still, which makes this episode that much more haunting.

4

“Dead Freight” (season 5, episode 5)

The opening of this episode is so innocent and tranquil.  A young boy is riding his dirt bike in the desert when he comes across a tarantula, which he captures in a jar.  The sound of a freight train echoes in the distance.  As the episode continues, I almost forgot about this opening scene.  The episode is jam-packed with so much action and drama.

Even after watching a second time, my heart was beating out of my chest when Jesse and Todd were pulling off a heist to replace the Methylamine with water, while Walter monitored it.  Meanwhile, Mike and the rest of the gang kept watch and distracted the drivers.  Everyone played a major part in this heist and I worried about it unraveling with each new obstacle.  The heist is successful and everyone is celebrating when the young boy from the opening of the episode is standing in front of them and innocently waves.

The unthinkable happens when Todd waves back and then shoots him, as Jesse screams “No” in so much agony, that it almost echoes through the television.  In a fleeting moment, the innocence is destroyed and reality sets in that everything is not without consequences.

3

“Face off” (season 4, episode 13)

This is probably one of the most intense season finales of a show I have ever seen.  The previous episode revealed Walter’s failed attempt to take out his nemesis, Gustavo Fring, with a car bomb.  The viewers know by now that although Fring is a worthy opponent, one should never underestimate Walter White, Heisenberg himself.  W

alter calculates every moment of revenge, involving Fring’s former enemy, Hector Salamanca, keeping the phrase, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” true.  Who would have thought that Hector could still be so dangerous in his condition?  The ominous ringing of his bell returned and ended with an explosion.  Perhaps what was most eerie about this, was that Gus adjusted his tie and walked out of the room, keeping up his polished appearance per usual, only to collapse, revealing that half of his face had been completely torn off.

The writers don’t stop here, however.  At the end of the episode, we get a shot of the Lily of the Valley berries that we know poisoned Brock, the child that Jesse had grown so close to.  Walter will stop at nothing to remain on top, but clearly has gone too far this time.

2

“Grilled” (season 2, episode 2)

This is the episode that completely hooked me on the show.  While I enjoyed the short first season, this episode elevated the show to an entirely new level.  Walter and Jesse had been kidnapped by their insane opponent, Tuco.  You may think that is crazy enough, but Hector Salamanca steals the show with his incessant ringing of the bell, which ultimately brings Fring to his demise later in the series.

Tuco explains that the ringing of the bell means “yes”and no ring means “no.”  Walter and Jesse had been trying to poison Tuco, but Hector is not going to let them get away with it that easy.  They try to convince Tuco that Hector was mad because they changed the TV station, but with each threatening ring, Tuco becomes more and more suspicious of the beloved duo.  The episode even ends with the bell ringing throughout the credits to leave the viewer with that sound to remain in their senses for just a few minutes more.  Talk about intense!

1

“Salud” (season 4, episode 10)

After watching the series through for a second time, this episode still remains my absolute favorite.  Any true Breaking Bad fan will take just a glimpse at the infamous pool and be transported back to this intense episode.  Part of what makes this episode stand out so much to me is that Walter is not involved in the action-packed scene, which leads to Gus Fring poisoning the entire cartel.  Jesse, Mike, and Gus meet the powerful, Don Eladio.

After Jesse comes to teach the cartel how cook successfully, the cartel now insists that they “own” Jesse.  Don Eladio is in for an unfortunate turn of events; however, when Gus presents him with his favorite bottle of tequila and proposes a toast.  Gus even takes a sip himself after insisting that Jesse does not have any because he is an addict.  As the cartel begins dropping like flies, Gus is shown puking in the bathroom to get rid of as much poison as possible.

It shows the viewer just how far he will go to bring his enemy down, which is what makes his later demise so extreme.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your comments along with your own favorite episodes below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Shameless” ranking the top 5 moments from season 8 episode 2

Happy Monday TV viewers!  After watching my Sunday evening shows, I am excited to discuss Showtime’s Shameless, season 8 episode 2.  I am already hooked on the second season and from talking to other fans of the show, they are too.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  My top 5 moments from yesterday’s episode are:

  1. Kevin’s “save second base” tee-shirt at his cancer group therapy meeting. I was thoroughly amused by Kevin’s need to share with the group about his fear of not being able to be “groped” by other men to make money and he seemed right at home surrounded by a sea of women.  I am ecstatic that Kevin will be alright and his misunderstanding of the word benign kept the laughs coming.
  2. Lip running, or really sprinting, every time he craves an alcoholic drink is still making me laugh. He has a lot of intense feelings going on and doesn’t really know how to deal with them.  So he then naturally breaks into Charlie’s apartment to steal the drugs he planted after he feels remorse seeing him at one of his addiction meetings, and then gets attacked by his dog.  I didn’t think this moment could get any funnier until Charlie came to see him and gave him a hug to show his appreciation for Lip looking out for him.  Sure Lip’s plan might have back-fired, but at least he is making the right choices…or correcting them.
  3. Deb’s new sense of confidence. Debbie is embracing her womanhood and is leaving poor Neil to play full-time parent to her daughter, while taking on drinking adventures with her new work friends.  Deb has always been self-absorbed, but is now taking it to a new level.  Neil gives her a compliment about how nice her outfit looks and she replies with “I know right!”  Very Clueless-esque if I might say so.  My favorite part of Deb’s transformation into a sort of trashy butterfly is Kev saying “what are you wearing?!” when she walks into the bar with a look of disdain.  This didn’t snap her back into reality, however; as she embraces her new found confidence and winds up with a new hair style and a hickey!  Poor Neil.
  4. Ian crying while cuddling in the arms of a “chub” had me laughing for a few and I didn’t think this moment could get any funnier until he decides to forever honor his mother, Monica by getting a tattoo. The tattoo artist starts talking about how you can’t really pin down emotional pain and that’s why a tattoo is therapeutic when Ian shares about his mom.  The tattoo artist explains that he wished he had known it was his mom before he started, as Ian displays a look of horror at the naked breasts tattooed onto his back.  Absolutely hilarious.
  5. Fiona gets ditched by her renters. From Mrs. Cardinal’s fake dog to the woman who actually runs away from her with 10 million screaming kids, Fiona is stepping into a new role of leadership and accountability.  She starts off playing the nice landlord and even gives the woman a chance to pay her part of the rent now which I thought was more than fair.  However, after that check for one cent, there is no fury like Fiona scorned.  She places an eviction notice on her door to show everyone that she means business.  Go Fiona!

 

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 moments from season 8 episode 2.  Please feel free to post your comments below and share some of your own as well.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Throw-back Sunday: “Lost” ranking the top 5 characters

It’s Throw-Back Sunday TV viewers, otherwise known as my favorite day to catch up on other series or re-watch some of my past favorites in cozy pajamas with my dog!  For today’s Throw-Back Sunday, I am re-watching some of my favorite Lost episodes.  After re-watching the series 16 times, yes 16, my favorite characters have shifted over the years.  I think it has to do more with me as a person watching since the character story-lines haven’t changed.  Each time I watch, something new is happening in my life and I connect with the characters in a different way.  While some stay ranked the same, others have shifted in and out of my top 5.  Jacob got it right when he revealed to the candidates that none of them were doing fine before they crashed on the island.  They were all looking for something or some way to connect and the island sparked that in each of them.  This holds true for me as well, as I find myself connecting to different characters and empathizing with them over the years.  Please note spoilers are below in case you have not watched all of the episodes by now and if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you get to that immediately!  My top 5 characters from Lost are:

5

Juliet Burke

For me, Juliet is the character that reminds me of myself the most.  She is loving, smart, and strong; but is guarded with her emotions.  When Juliet is introduced in season 3, her flashbacks were so interesting to me.  She was clearly looking for some way to make a difference and help; only it takes her leaving the others and coming to help the Losties to truly find a sense of purpose.  For me, Juliet has always been selfless.  Sure she makes mistakes just like the rest of us, but that’s what makes her so complex as a character.  Her love with Sawyer is beautiful and when she tells him that “just because two people love each other, doesn’t mean they have to be together,” it shows that she is used to disappointment and pain, but she is all right with it, as long as something good comes out of it.

4

Desmond Hume

Desmond has always been somewhere on my top 5 ranking.  The introduction of him in season 2 was brilliant.  My favorite episodes of the show all feature Desmond and it’s because he brings something elevated and real to the show.  Desmond desperately wants to prove his self-worth and later realizes that Penny already saw it in him from the start.  She mentions that he is a “good man which she finds that is hard to come by.”  I think that sums up Desmond perfectly.  He is a good man, but he is also a coward, which shows his weakness.  He screams that he wants to go back and he’ll do it right this time in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” which touches my heart with each re-watch.

3

Kate Austen

Kate has probably shifted the most throughout my list and used to not even make my top 5.  From what I see, Kate gets the most hate from online forums and fan sites.  Viewers often refer to her as annoying and useless.  However, I find Kate to be smart, courageous, and loving.  Similar to the other characters, she crashes on the island and it is revealed that she is a fugitive and was always born to run.  Like Sawyer says to her, “You run, I con.  Tiger don’t change their stripes.”  Kate, like Jack, was always keeping busy to help others.  She was always the first to volunteer to go on a hike or get caught up in whatever drama was going on because she was so used to running away from everything and everyone, avoiding herself in the process.  When Kate begins raising Aaron off island, she finds her new identity as a mother.  Even when she leaves him to go back to the island, it’s not to run away, but to find Claire so she can reunite her with Aaron, a truly selfless act.  Kate also gets a bad rep for getting caught in the middle of a love triangle, or maybe love rhombus is more accurate, with Jack, Sawyer, and Juliet.  However, I don’t fault her for this.  She has conflicting feelings for both Jack and Sawyer because they represent different things to her.  I think both are right for her at different points in her life, but it’s her love for Aaron that truly helps her find out who she is.

2

James Ford aka “Sawyer”

From cruising through polls and Lost forums, Sawyer is the favorite character of many and used to be mine before Jack surpassed him.  Sawyer represents a redeemed hero, which also shows his own transformation.  In the first season, Sawyer is very much out for himself and wants others to hate him.  He is his own worst enemy; however, as he reveals hints of goodness along the way.  While Sawyer has shown signs of selfless behavior over the seasons, him jumping off the chopper so that the others could make it to the freighter was more out of fear of what might happen if he didn’t, as Cassidy so eloquently put it when talking to Kate.  It’s not until Sawyer remains on the island and embraces his con-man smarts in order to protect everyone that he finds his way.  When he falls in love with Juliet, Sawyer reaches his full potential, putting his past baggage behind him.  His snarky humor and beloved nicknames lighten up the show as well, making him an excellent candidate for rank #2.

1

Jack Shephard

You may be thinking that this is the obvious number one character since Jack is presented as the lead character in Lost for the most part.  For me, Jack’s quest to overcome his need to “fix everything” along with him realizing that he has had his father’s approval the whole time, makes him stand out as a real and true hero.  The series opens with Jack’s eye opening and from the minute he is awake, he is playing hero and trying to help everyone he can.  You may think that he has been a selfless hero from the start, but that’s not the whole story.  Sure, I do find Jack to be a selfless hero, but he didn’t start off that way for me.  I took the opening episodes with a grain of salt, as it seemed like he was trying to keep busy and distract himself from his own inner demons by helping everyone else.  It’s not until we get to the “White Rabbit” episode that we see Jack truly vulnerable.  The empty coffin at the end of this episode reveals that Jack has not found what he is looking for just yet.  Jack makes it his mission to get everyone off of the island, only to later find out that this is a mistake.  The island gave him a sense of purpose and he was finally able to step into the leadership role, rather than being in his father’s shadow.  “We have to go back!”  Yes, you do Jack.  The island is not done with you yet and it is your destiny.  The last episode of the series brings tears to my eyes each time and this is mostly because I have come to adore Jack Shephard over years of watching.  When he comes to terms with what is happening his words, “Live together, die alone,” stay true as the dog, Vincent, lies down next to him so that he is not alone.  The series ends with his eye closing and I cannot think of a better way to end the show.  When Jack’s eye opens, he is in desperate need of finding himself and when his eyes finally close, he has found it.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post thoughts on your own favorite characters.  Enjoy your throw-back Sunday!  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl