Once Upon a Time

For the jaded, the entertainment business is a money-making endeavor.  The modern trend is to recycle: make popular books into movies; make comic books into summer blockbusters; and finally, convert our favorite fairy tales into that next blockbuster (did you hear about the competing Snow White movies?).  For the young-at-heart (and possibly naive), the entertainment industry is about joy, fantasy, and escapism.  And now, ABC has provided a show that satisfies both that money-making Scrooge and that idealistic Samwise Gamgee : Once Upon a Time.

The show has an interesting premise.  All our favorite fairy tale characters are trapped in time in a city called Storybooke, Maine (where there are no happy endings), except they don't know it.  Our hero(ine), Emma (Jennifer Morrison of HOUSE), is the a cynical bounty hunter prophesied (by Rumpelstiltskin!) to save the day.  Only, she doesn't believe it, nor does anyone else.  Only the son she gave up for adoption long ago knows the truth about the inhabitants of Storybrooke, well, except the Evil Queen, aka the Mayor.  The relationships are convoluted on paper, but play out well on screen.

We meet Snow White (Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin), Geppeto, Rumpelstiltskin and Jiminy Cricket in flashbacks that explain how the curse came to be.  On the flip side, we meet the characters' Storybrooke counterparts as the story is told in the present.  Not only is the show ripe with character development and plot, but the cinematography/CG is fantastic, popping in HD.  This show was touted as one of the best of the new fall season and it's definitely living up to the hype (for now).  A breath of fresh air, different from the glut of reality shows and procedurals, Once Upon a Time is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality.  Do yourself a favor and check it out on Sunday nights at 8/7 c on ABC.


Update from Comic-Con!

My super spy informant, Derek, is on the scene at Comic-Con in San Diego, every fanboy and girl's DisneyWorld.  Derek will graciously give those of us who are unlucky enough not to live in San Diego (or have a cool spouse who designs video games for a living and gets free passes to Comic-Con) a glimpse into what is arguably the greatest show on earth.  So, here's a preview of Comic-Con so far:

                Comic-con is officially underway, and I’ve spent a few hours at the convention already.  Here’s a brief breakdown of Wednesday’s preview night:
                -About a block away from the convention, I walked past a lesbian Batman and Robin couple making out on the hood of a car.   A little weird, but given that the actual Batman story involves a wealthy bachelor who lives with a young orphan that he keeps in a cave and dresses in tights, I don’t think they disrespected the source material.
                -Seconds after walking through the entrance, I spotted Stan Lee signing autographs.  Stan is a controversial figure at comic-con.  Some revere him as a god.  Others think he’s a sellout who is ruining his franchises, Lucas style.  However, no matter your personal feelings about him, everyone agrees that the ideas he stole from Jack Kirby were truly genius.   
-The convention floor is as crowded as always.  Thankfully, the bigger booths have been moved to the edges of the floor.  You’ll have to push your way through the crowds outside these booths, but at least you can move about the floor.
-A little girl saw a life-sized My Little Pony figure, and ran up to give it a big hug.  It is quite possibly the cutest thing that has ever happened.   
-Video games and television are the main attractions at Comic-con.  In the exhibitor’s hall, one entire wall is filled with video game developers demoing their latest games.  Another is filled with various television studios showcasing their fall line-up of vampire shows.  The hotels around the convention center have video game lounges set up, Sprint has a gaming pavilion right outside the hall, and Sega set-up an entire arcade just down the street.   On another note, I heard a rumor that someone tried to sell a comic book (whatever that is), and was summarily executed.
-If you want to meet celebrities, hang out by the novelty t-shirt vendors. 
There you have it.  As crowded and crazy as it is, it looks like it’s going to be a great convention.
More from Derek in the coming days.  Stay tuned!  Maybe there will be a Sarah Michelle Gellar siting.



What Are You Watching This Summer?

Sorry for the long break, folks.  Finding time to write isn't so easy anymore--I haven't even caught up on all my season finales!

Anyway, for those of you who have caught up on your season finales, I bet you're wondering what to watch this summer.  Well, unlike summers pasts, the networks have found that original summer programming is a moneymaker, as long as production costs are cheap.  So below is a list of a few summer shows that I'll be watching.  Maybe something will catch your fancy.

*This list is the first in a series to come.


Book Recommendations

I'm going to inflate my ego a bit and consider myself the arbiter of taste for some, at least with respect to entertainment.  Lately, I've been asked for some book recommendations.  Although some of these novels have been out for quite some time, I'd like to take the opportunity to recommend a couple.

First, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  Recently adapted for a movie, this novel follows a veterinary school drop-out as he travels with a circus featuring a sweet-natured elephant.

Water for Elephants

Second, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  Another series primed for movie adaptation, this series follows the adventures of teenager Katniss Everdeen as she competes in the Hunger Games, a to-the-death competition of wits and skill.  I promise you, you won't be able to put these books down.  You'll devour each book with a voracious appetite.

Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset

Finally, I'd like to recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett, also recently made into a movie.  The Help chronicles the efforts of a Southern white lady and a team of African-American maids describe the life of the help in the 1950s/60s.

The Help

Let me know if you like them!