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Suburgatory Incest?

Last night I had a very interesting romantic dream. It was very much PG rated, but the twist was that my protagonists were the father/daughter duo from the ABC show Suburgatory. Except they weren’t father/daughter in this dream. In real life some people have said that the two actors have weird sexual chemistry for a father/daughter duo, and I would tend to agree, though I don’t actually think it’s as pronounced as some people make it out to be.

Anyway, so these were my two leads and it definitely was a love story about an older man and a younger woman. Like a 40 year old and a 22 year old. The dream was primarily from the older guys perspective, but I will say that I identified with the younger woman. I’ve never been attracted to a man that much older than me, but still, it kind of opened up the possibility to me in a way. I felt like I appreciated the emotions at play, regardless of the taboo.

So I can’t remember if the guy was married or not, but there was some sort of gathering at which he and the girl were both at. Said gathering had ended  and/or moved on, and he very clearly felt attracted to her. She noticed his attention and wasn’t sure what to make of it but wasn’t totally averse to it. She had left her coat on a chair and he grabbed it for her and it was a subtle romantic gesture.

Skip ahead a bit and there was an activity that the group did where the guy and the girl were paired together. It was like a roller coaster ride or something random like that. That is when they sort of became friends, and began their attraction courtship.

Skip ahead even more, to the evening, and the group os doing yet another activity. This time the guy has decided he’s done for the night so he’s gone to his hotel room to watch tv and go to bed. The girl has gone to the activity but eventually decides it’s not for her and she’d rather hang out with her new friend. So she puts on her PJs and grabs a pillow and heads over to the guys room. It’s not like she’s walking in there with expectations of sexy times. On the contrary it’s more akin to the movie Friends With Benefits with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. They simply get along and enjoy spending time together. She’s just looking for someone to hang out with who’s she’s actually interested in hanging out with.

So that’s basically when the dream ended. I think I dreamt earlier that they almost kissed, like they just barely started leaning in toward one another but then were interrupted by someone giving them instructions on their next activity. Whatever this activity program is… what a let down, am I right? Haha. Since it ended and I enjoyed it, I continued it in my head and decided that they had a good time watching bad tv and rimming each other and their corny movie tastes. Then they fall asleep, at first very much on opposite sides of the bed, then they pull a Chuck & Sarah and wake up in the morning wrapped around one another. Nothing has happened, but they are clearly very much at ease with one another. And from there the rest is dream history.

They lived happily ever after. =) Even though they had a 20 year age difference. They were just meant for each other *swoon*.

So I appreciated the dream for its addressing a societal taboo, and realized I could appreciate two people falling in love because they are very simply a perfect match, what is considered “the norm” aside.

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46 Minutes of Perfect Television.

To continue my Dollhouse posting rampage…

The episode “Beginning” in season 2 is possibly one of the most perfect 46 minutes of television I’ve ever witnessed. I am SO GLAD I have been re-awakened to its perfection. I wish I could do justice to it like Mark of Mark Reads and Watches surely would, and in fact, if memory serves, Dollhouse is on his list of tv shows to watch and review. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best to explain the perfection of this episode.

First of all, it features Sierra, my favorite supporting character. I actually think I like her more on this show than Eliza Dushku. Dichen Lachman needs a lead role like fo’ realz. She kills in this episode, literally and metaphorically. Throughout the series she has played the spectrum of personalities. She has played innocent and sweet, she has played bad ass assassin, racist southern belle, BFF to Topher… I mean, that’s not even scratching the surface. Oh yeah, she also played a forensic expert from the Centers for Disease Control. Joss Whedon said in an episode commentary that Dichen Lachman was always game to do whatever weird and crazy shit she was asked to do. And that commitment shines brightly.

Secondly, the emotional arc of the story if mutha fuckin’ intense. From the first scene you know things are going to be grim because we actually start at the meeting that led Priya, a.k.a. Sierra, into the Dollhouse. Thus far in the series all we know is a man named Nolan raped Sierra and she couldn’t deal with the trauma so she escaped her burdens by joining the Dollhouse. Sierra and Victor confronted Nolan briefly, and without resolution, really, in the season 1 episode “Needs.” At their parting Sierra says threateningly, “You’ll see me again.” I believed her then, and the girl was not lying.

Lastly, the execution of this episode is absolute perfection – the writing, the directing, the acting – every moment absolutely pulls at your heart strings, and on so many levels all at the same time. Gosh, I don’t even know where to start. First, there’s the obvious disturbing fact that Sierra is unknowingly engaging in romantic sessions with the man who traumatized her. Then there is Sierra and Victor’s ongoing basic-human-instinct love connection to root for. Then there’s Topher, who up until now has been pretty moral-less, and now he’s suddenly faced with a situation in which he is forced to face reality – that the people he imprints are actually people. Oh, and did I forget to mention DeWitt? She’s getting the smack down from her boss over this whole situation and she’s forced to compromise her own already skewed moral compass. Angsty episode, no?

The moment you realize, or rather, remember who Nolan is, you feel sick. This guy is sick; this situation is completely disturbing. And Sierra, even as a doll, has this instinct that something is wrong; that she doesn’t like “it” whatever “it” is. And sweet, sweet Victor is do enamored by her that he tries to destroy the thing that he thinks is making Sierra unhappy. I mean, how cute is that? They are like little innocent children and they still have this intense connection with one another that can’t be broken, even with having their minds wiped and re-wiped 5 days a week. Joss is totally right, there is something very romantic about that. So when Nolan decides to get super disgusting he demands Sierra be imprinted to stay with him forever. And Adelle succumbs. Frankly, I think it’s a smidge cowardly of her, but considering the fact that she needs skewed morals in the first place to run a dollhouse, it’s not totally surprising. She feels a great weight and responsibility toward her charges, and if she’s forced to sacrifice one doll to keep the rest in her care, she’ll do it, albeit grudgingly. She doesn’t trust anyone else to take care of these dolls like she does.

At this point I looked at the dvd player and it was only half way through the episode and I realized I had forgotten most of what happened next. I knew Sierra would return to the Dollhouse but I couldn’t remember exactly how. Knowing Victor was going to sit by that pillar until Sierra returned… GUH! Heartbreaking x infinity. They both think she’s coming back, but we, the viewer, and the handlers, and Topher and DeWitt, know she’s not. The beauty of innocence and ignorance. I suspected Topher of imprinting Sierra with some sort of ass kicking trickster, but I had forgotten that he actually imprinted her with her original identity, Priya. And in the scene where Priya confronts Nolan I thought surely he’s imprinted her with some extra kung fu skills, so she could kill Nolan cleanly, but that was not the case apparently. Priya still wins, but she’s left with an even greater trauma, that of having murdered another human being. Add a bullet point to the list of traumas in her life that she can’t live with.

The most shocking reveal of the episode however comes when we learn that not only did Nolan raper her, but he effectively tortured her as well. Nolan is some kind of doctor and when Priya wouldn’t submit to him, he had her institutionalized and pumped her full of drugs to make her crazy. Oh, but the plot has yet to thicken. Nolan has ties to Rossum and the Dollhouse, and that’s the whole reason DeWitt was forced to let Sierra go. They don’t say it outright in the show, but it seems pretty clear that Nolan was drugging Sierra in purpose so that he could get her into the Dollhouse and play her however he liked for the rest of his sick and twisted life. This guy might as well be a serial killer the lengths he went to to get what he wanted. What a fucking sicko. So we learn Priya didn’t volunteer for the dollhouse like the other featured actives did, she was forced to join by her rapist. Everybody, including Topher, thought she was simply a paranoid schizophrenic and left it at that.

By the end of the episode Nolan is dead and chopped into pieces, Priya is horribly scarred by her experience, and Topher recognizes his own moral indiscretions and faults, and DeWitt as well, to a certain extent. Priya and Topher have this incredible conversation, right before he wipes her back in Sierra, about what they’ve all just been through. One of the more poignant tendrils of that conversation is regarding the morality of her own situation as a doll. When Topher met crazy Priya in the institution he was promising her a better life… but is being a doll really a better life?? She went from being one man’s slave, to an organization’s slave. Why she isn’t more antagonistic toward the dollhouse I don’t know, maybe because plot-wise it wouldn’t do for Sierra not to be there, but the idea that what she’s been through at the dollhouse is actually almost worse than her real life traumas is gut wrenching. The audience is left in Topher’s shoes by the end. What he did for her, in the past and in the present, was arguably for her own safety and sanity… but it was also very very wrong. And that ambiguity and hypocrisy is what Dollhouse is all about. Every character on that show has some flaw that has brought them to where they are right now. There is something in them that is not completely honorable. Getting the audience to empathize and identify with them nonetheless? That’s just good story telling.

Dichen Lachman does some incredible acting in that last scene (which interestingly was the first scene they shot for episode… WOW), but the most impressive bit for me was after she’s begged Topher to erase these most recent memories when it’s time for her to “wake up,” and she’s crying, and she lays down in the chair and gets wiped. You can see her facial expression soften and relax, and she sits up with that blank look on her face and says, “Did I fall asleep?” and SHE’S STILL GOT TEARS RUNNING DOWN HER FACE!! She’s not crying anymore, but those tears that 10 seconds ago were coming from Priya, are now just phantoms of something else. Those are Priya’s tears on Sierra’s face. They really are two different people. They have the same body, but they are not the same person. Some might argue the actives in their doll-state are not people, but I think they might as well be, and when Sierra returns to Victor, who is still loyally waiting at  his post, with his big innocent puppy dog eyes, my heart just broke again. Having them sleep in the same pod might go a smidge too far in terms of their innocence, I mean, it’s not like they were doing anything inappropriate, it was actually very sweet, but it felt like in the past the handlers and minders and what not were trying to keep them apart, to prevent glitches or something, and now all of a sudden they’re letting them sleep together? I’m all for the relationship development, but it just seemed off course from what they’d already established.

I’m sure once I publish this I’ll realize some other things I wanted to hit upon, but it’s late and I should probably go to bed. I will try and dream about romantic things á la Victor and Sierra. Damn I love them together. I would love nothing more than to see them as love interests in a movie or on a tv show. They have crazy good chemistry. To be fair though, I think they are two actors that tend to have chemistry with everybody. Which I think is another strength of this show. The lead actors have great chemistry with one another that you root for, but they also can have chemistry with others guest actors who you also can root for simultaneously, for example Eliza Dushku and Patton Oswalt. Or Enver Gjokaj and Olivia Williams. Not to mention the surprisingly convincing chemistry betwixt Doc Saunders and Boyd. That relationship was definitely more convincing the second time around. Interesting how your opinion can change over a long period of time without seeing something.

Well, I’ve written almost 2000 words on the subject of “Beginnings” because it’s seriously one of the most perfect 46 minutes of television I’ve ever seen. Hopefully I’ve properly described why this episode deserves so high an honor. Though the simplest explanations are Dichen Lachman and the writers of the episode – Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

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Quick Follow-Up

Dollhouse supporting cast:

Dichen Lachman: Bad ass-est Aussie this side of Hugh Jackman. I understand she has a non-traditional hollywood look that some ass holes would suggest would limit the kinds of roles she’ll get, but that’s just narrow-minded. She’s a bad ass. I’m glad she got that part on Being Human. She was a bad ass doll on Dollhouse, and now she’s a bad ass vampire on Being Human.

Enver Gjokaj: I don’t know if I spelled that last name right, but I’m too lazy to look it up on imdb. What a lovely handsome young man! Joss is right, it’s those big doe eyes when he’s Victor and he’s totally innocent. And then when he’s imprinted to woo DeWitt – YUM-MY. I don’t know why he hasn’t gotten more roles cause he’s a damn good looker.

Amy Acker: I don’t completely understand her appeal, she seems a little one-note, but she does Doc Saunders like nobody’s business. Those scars are mood-dy. And she plays the Doc with such vulnerability. I don’t like her season 2 character arc. But when she/we learned she was a doll, O. M. F. G. One of many awesome reveals on the show, BY FAR.

Miracle Laurie: I liked her more the first time around than I do now, but she’s pretty bangin’, I gotta say. Mellie bugs me, but November is pretty kick-ass. And where I pined for she and Paul to get together, I didn’t care so much this time around, like they lacked chemisty somehow in my mind’s eye this time. I don’t know.

Tahmoh Penikett: Another name I’m hoping I spelled close to correctly. I remember the first time around thinking he wasn’t anything special. But upon this most recent viewing I’ve warmed up to him. I mean, Tahmoh is a great looking guy, and he seems to be a good actor when he’s playing the moral center. I don’t feel particularly strongly about him, but I am not disappointed.

Olivia Williams: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Why she had to chop her hair in the second season I’ll never know, I think it made her look much older, but dayam what a morally corrupt -yet-ambiguous gangster. She is someone who is aesthetically pleasing to me.

That’s all I care to mention. I know there are other supporting characters, but I find them less interesting. I don’t have as much to say about them.

Now I’m gonna go watch Katherine McPhee on Jimmy Fallon.

Peace.

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Filler/Dollhouse/Firefly

I don’t really have anything to say. I’ve been pretty uninspired this month I guess. February’s too short to think!

I’ve been re-watching Dollhouse, created by Joss Whedon and starring Eliza Dushku. I liked the first season for sure, but I’m two episodes into the second season and I already sort of remember why I disliked the second season. I actually have a lot of trouble putting it into words why I disliked it, but if I’m trying, I’ll say it’s because the story gets into a lot more mythology. Getting into mythology of a show is not a bad thing, and I am definitely not averse to it, but it seems rather disjointed. Things have moved forward too quickly, and confusingly so.

I would imagine it was expensive to shoot and it sounds like, based on the DVD special features, that they always felt like they were on the creative chopping block. Perhaps there was a lot of interference from the network preventing Joss and the Gang from exploring the characters and concept how he wanted. But it felt like the in second season they’d gotten a vote of confidence by being picked up for season 2 and I think they went too far. The show went suddenly from episodic with traces of mythology, to FULL ON IN YOUR FACE MYTHOLOGY and that’s probably what got it cancelled. I understand the desire to move the plot forward, both for your own curiosity and for the dedicated viewers, but I really think it worked to their disadvantage. There’s nothing wrong with a slow burn serial, and if the network execs are gonna be a bunch of dabblers and you’re gonna submit to their general ineptitude the outcome will be inevitable.

This all makes me curious how Fringe has stayed on the air so long, and during the same time Dollhouse was on. It must have gotten higher ratings at the time, but Fringe is just as serial as Dollhouse, I must just execute it better. The Fringe writers are probably a little more executive/network friendly. Joss Whedon is in his own little world and you have to just have faith in his madness/genius. Joss Whedon needs to get on Syfy or something. Seriously. I would probably die if Firefly was somehow resurrected. Of course it’s never going to happen, but wouldn’t you just DIE?! Just imagining watching new episodes of Firefly sends shivers down my spine and raises my adrenaline.

I digress.

Turns out I did have something to share. =)

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Rivers and Roads (The Chuck Finale)

I would like to share a few *~feelings~* about the Chuck series finale that aired a week ago.

First off, I haven’t watched Chuck religiously this past season because, let’s be honest, it isn’t the best tv show out there. It has gotten increasingly hammy and predictable. That being said, it still holds a part of my  heart. The characters are so god damn lovable and relatable. And it doesn’t hurt that the show has one of the greatest couples of all TV time.

Now, you might think that’s an awfully lofty thing to say but I have it on good authority from the writers of the show (via entertainment journalists, of course, I’m not tight with the Chuck writers) that during Chuck’s run, fans pulled a Bieber, though they technically preceded Bieber, and got extremely upset whenver they would tear Chuck and Sarah apart. I’m not the type to threaten to slit people’s throats in the middle of the night if two fictional characters they write about don’t end up together, but the movement, if it can be called as much, was clearly connecting very deeply with these two characters. I think it’s a real kudos to the chemistry between the actors, and the producers for having had the sense to cast them together. While Chuck isn’t the highest quality production on the planet, the lead character had more natural chemistry than real people have. And I mean real chemistry. I don’t mean just screen chemistry, I mean I can imagine then dating in real life and secretly hope such a thing will come to pass one day, perhaps it has already come and gone in secret, but I feel very confident in saying that Chuck and Sarah are one epic TV couple. I there were  a top, say, 20 list of most convincing TV couples, they should surely rank highly.

And that chemistry is what gives the Chuck series such gravitas and heart ache and warmth and despair and happiness and whimsy. It was INGENIOUS for the writers to focus the finale on Chuck and Sarah’s relationship because it has been what has kept the show going as long it has. People want to see Chuck and Sarah live happily ever after. It was further genius to tear them apart at the very end and have her almost kill Chuck multiple times but then come back from total distrust and suspicion to her good natured, intelligent self realizing that maybe these people aren’t so bad after all, even though she doesn’t remember who they are. (Was that a run-on sentence or what?)

That twist left the door open to recall some of the sweetest moments between Chuck and Sarah over the years. I can’t really name any at the moment except that the montage in the final scene on the beach is just that. Sarah’s mission logs… I wonder if she kept those logs after she Chuck were legitimately together. That would be a little bizarre, though surely not all her logs were about Chuck, at least not in the “here are my *~feelings~* about Chuck today” sense. Anywho, Sarah being told, by her self, that she once loved Chuck is a classic plot device, a la 50 First Dates, but it works so well. Yvonne Strahovski has never been better than in her final scenes.

Speaking of performances, I though Chuck was so pathetic and sappy… I know I’d be hated for saying that publicly so sorry to all my followers out there 😉 who love Chuck, but he is kind of an ugly crier… and I got a little tired of him telling her how much he loved her and blah blah blah. I was like I GET IT.

OK, but, OK!. The final beach scene! Not only is the beach incredibly beautiful and romantic but Sarah looked gorgeous and natural and Chuck looked verrryyyy handsome. Thank god he cut his hair all those season ago. The shag had long lost its luster with me, and society really. And Sarah was clearly vaguely remembering places and names, without context, but she understood their importance, and that was enough for me to be satisfied. I didn’t necessarily need her memory to return, though it is bittersweet that it apparently did not, but I actually think it opened a door to dream, if you will indulge my corny saying. I mean, clearly they are meant to be together. Anybody watching this show who thinks Chuck and Sarah wouldn’t end up together is a fool. In my opinion, the final scene quite clearly suggested that while Sarah didn’t get her memory back (because magic doesn’t exist in the Chuck world, ok? It’s not called Chuck Disney), she wanted it back, and she was perfectly willing to let herself fall in love with this man who was for all intents and purposes a stranger. Chuck and Sarah get to make new memories together, and Sarah will undoubtedly dig up snap shots of their past together over time, but it’s far more romantic for me to imagine that Chuck tries to recreate some of those magic moments for Sarah, both to try and jog her memory and also to make new ones.

Ok, enough about that, I think I’ve gone way off my train of thought. What’s new?

The SONG that played at the end though?! BRILLIANCE!! Rivers and Roads by The Head and The Heart – what a gorgeous song. And it kind of mirrors that uncertainty of the ending (though I’m certain of what happens). I don’t speak music, but it’s just beautiful, and it’s like:

Rivers and Roads

Rivers and Roads

Rivers til I meet you.

The words hadn’t struck me particularly while I watched the scene it played behind, but my mom, who is arguably less attached to the show as I am, immediately caught onto the words and found them rather poignant. And now, upon listening to the song on repeat whilst writing this post, I totally agree. It is endlessly hummable and harmonizable, and it builds up throughout the song, both in number of voices and in instrumental intensity (see? I don’t speak music), and by the end you’re inspired to love the person you love. You’re inspired to cross rivers and travel down endless roads to reach your one true love, just like Chuck is willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Sarah, so to speak. It’s like he physically can’t stop himself from being with her.

Actually, that sentiment kind of reminds me of the movie Like Crazy. Accept that movie has a less than happy ending where they realize time and distance has gradually torn them apart. But still, it’s that feeling early on where you are so in love with someone that you don’t want to be separated, and when you’re wrenched apart unexpectedly, after you’ve faced that initial shock and breakdown, you sort of submit yourself to the long haul. And that’s how I see Chuck and Sarah. Sarah may have lost her memories but Chuck will do basically whatever it takes to win her over again, because at this point he can’t be with anyone else. And luckily, Sarah decides that maybe these snap shots in her head that seem important really are real and are meaningful and that’s something worth  falling for.

Ok, I think that’s enough mish-mashed feelings. GEH. So many *~*~feelings~*~*. The love story I’ve always wanted to write, and am still working on, but am not there yet. *sigh*

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