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Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 191

The new TV season started yesterday, which is always a bad time for my writing productivity. For years I’ve had this “rule” that I have to give every show a chance by watching at least one episode because you never know what might turn out better than a terrible sounding premise. 
Jane the Virgin is a great example of this from last year – I thought it sounded pretty bad, but it was one of my favorite shows from fall 2014. 
Whereas last night I watched Minority Report, which was the fall 2015 show I was most excited about, but I thought it was pretty much a dud. I might give it one more chance, since I still like the premise, but the execution left much to be desired. 
Sadly, after reading the descriptions of this year’s new fall shows, the thought of sampling all of them sounds pretty tedious. The lack of originality in the new offerings demonstrates why so many people are turning to Netflix. Actually, I’m not sure if I’ll bother watching them all, and if I do, it will be out of habit rather than interest. Blerg.
Hopefully my 15 Minute Tweet Tales are more entertaining than the new shows:
9/16 - They had an entente cordiale and were fine with each meeting their needs elsewhere, but when he turned to her sister, the battle began.
9/17 - She'd heard the Grand Canyon was mirabile visu but put off seeing it. Cancer diagnosis. A race to the end. Will she get there in time?
9/18 - Shouting drew my attention. The burly man's noli-me-tangere glare turned my heart to ice. Her "help me" look compelled me to interfere.
9/19 - She tells dad she can't wear prêt-à-porter outfit the 1st day of school. He doesn't understand. Literally. When did his kid get so fancy?
15 Minute Tweet Tales9/20 - Grin wide,girl skips with ice cream she saved to buy. It splats on sidewalk. Old woman passing says, "Sic vita est, dearie, get used to it."
9/21 - When his wife stepped out in sexy lingerie, he growled, "Vive la différence," ignoring that his man boobs were almost as big as hers.
9/22 - Cruel experiment to become someone's weltgeist, his the only face she sees since birth. Stash of books hidden in floorboards saves her.
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

White Collar Wackiness

Molly with the letter WOn the menu for today’s Television Thursday for the letter W is the show White Collar.  It is one of those dramedies that USA does so well and lives up to their slogan of “Characters Welcome.” Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a con man/art thief/forger who is caught by FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and agrees to use his expertise to catch other criminals in exchange for limited freedom.  It is mostly a light show with lots of fun moments, but it delves into some pretty angsty stuff on occasion, too, so it’s a good mix.

I could tell you about the slick plans Neal comes up with to help the team catch the criminal of the week.  I could tell you about the quirky and witty criminal sidekick Mozzie.  I could tell you about the refreshingly angst-free and supportive marriage Peter has with his wife (Tiffani Thiessen from Saved by the Bell, y’all!).  I could tell you about Jones and Diana, the other two members of the FBI team who always turn their small screen time into entertaining moments.  I could also tell you about the epic bromance between Neal and Peter – two men who genuinely respect and care for each other, but often find themselves on opposite sides of the line.  But I think I’ll let this do all the talking:

Matt Bomer on White Collar DVD cover

Seriously, I don’t think there’s a better looking man on television (although Jensen Ackles runs a close second).  He’s almost too beautiful to be believed.  I look into those blue eyes and I just… wait, I’m sorry, where was I?  Oh, and he’s really a fantastic actor, too.  Matt and Tim both give their characters a lot more depth than the writing warrants.  The show has taken some missteps this past season, but these two guys always keep me watching.  Especially, Matt.  I mean, look at that face – how can you not watch his show?

Do you watch White Collar?  Would you want to be part of one of Neal’s cons?  How Wonderful is Molly with her W?

Quantum Quality

Lily with the letter QOh boy!  With it being Television Thursday and the dreaded letter Q, of course today’s post is about the sci-fi dramedy Quantum Leap.  Although I don’t know if dramedy was an actual term when it aired in the early 90’s, it’s an apt way to describe this show’s perfect mix of laughs and serious issues.  If you’re unfamiliar with Quantum Leap, the show’s opening does a perfect job of explaining the premise:

Scott Bakula was perfectly cast as time-jumping Sam Beckett.  He was slightly bumbling, always earnest, and had a warmth and charm that allowed him to slip into people’s lives in order to right the wrongs.  And Dean Stockwell as the Exposition Fairy, uh, I mean Al, was such a quirky, fun character who delivered his weekly info dumps in an entertaining way.  

Besides Al’s antics, a lot of the humor came from Sam leaping into a new body each episode, since it never happened while that person was asleep, but at the most inconvenient time for Sam to be trying to figure out who the heck he was now inhabiting.  At the end of each episode, after Sam and Al had solved the problem in his current body’s life, he would leap into another body and deliver the infamous, “Oh boy!” line.

Because of the humorous setups, it would be easy to blow Quantum Leap off as a silly little show, but there was plenty of drama since Sam only jumped into the lives of people who were in trouble in some way.  And since the time jumping only occurred within the span of Sam’s life (1953 forward), there was a lot of sociological and political unrest to drive the stories.  For example, there were plenty of giggles seeing Scott Bakula wobbling around in a dress and heels the first time he jumped into a woman, but the episode addressed the emotional impact of sexual harassment.  

Since I’m such a sap, I often teared up at the ends of episodes as Sam finally fixed the people’s lives.  It was always such a heartwarming moment, but kind of heartbreaking, too, since Sam never got to stick around and savor the happiness of the people he’d helped.  As soon as he fixed the problem, he immediately leaped into the next problem.  But as bad as that was for Sam, it was great for the audience.  If you’ve never watched Quantum Leap, you should check it out on Netflix.

Did you watch Sam Beckett leap through time?  How would you like to jump into people’s lives to fix them?  How Quaint is Lily with her Q?

KITT is Kool!

In talking about television on Thursdays, I originally planned to talk about current shows I’m watching.  Since I watch a lot (too much!) of TV, I figured I’d be able to handle most letters.  Wrong!  There’s a Q on the horizon for Thursday.  So I decided to open it up to all shows I have previously watched.  Which means that since today is K, I get to talk about my most favoritest show from childhood – Knight Rider!!!

Just watch the intro for the show to experience the awesomeness:

That theme song still gets my blood pumping.  And on random days, from out of nowhere, the voiceover will pop into my head, and even after all these years, I can still quote it.

Almost thirty years after the show aired, we finally have talking cars.  They’re even pretty smart, since mine knows how to get places, which is better than I can do given my terrible sense of direction.  But while mine can get pretty uppity when I make a wrong turn (seriously, she says ‘recalculating’ in the most frustrated, condescending voice), she will never match the magnificent snarkiness of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand).  

Freya with the letter K

I loved KITT.  I wanted KITT.  Almost as much as I loved and wanted David Hasselhoff.  Although that was before puberty set in, so it was a (mostly) innocent love.  I even had a Knight Rider sleeping bag, while all my friends had Strawberry Shortcake and Smurfs and teased me for having a boy’s sleeping bag.  I didn’t care, and I even still have that sleeping bag stuffed in a closet somewhere.  
I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an episode.  I did watch that gawdawful remake they did a few years ago.  One episode was more than enough, but I forced myself to keep watching out of loyalty to KITT.  I was so relieved when they finally canceled that travesty, so I didn’t have to be the one to let down KITT.  But now I’m a little worried about rewatching the originals because I bet there’s no way it lives up to my glorified childhood memories, and it will be cheesy and disappointing.  I’d rather remember Michael Knight in all his handsome, young loner glory, championing the cause of the innocents with an occasional turbo boost from his best friend KITT.
Did you watch the original Knight Rider?  How about the remake?  How Kissable is Freya with her letter K?

Eureka! I’ve got it.

Lily with the letter EMr. Agenda tells me that it’s Television Thursday, and with today’s letter being E, I’m going to talk about the Syfy series Eureka.  It airs Mondays at 9:00pm, and the fifth and final season starts on April 16th.  I’m kind of bummed that it’s ending, since I’ve really enjoyed the quirky, little show.

Eureka is a blend of sci-fi and comedy about a small, off-the-map town built to nurture and protect America’s geniuses working on the latest and greatest scientific achievements.  The series started when Jack Carter accidentally wandered into town and ended up becoming Sheriff.  Because the scientists are absent-minded or arrogant or sometimes both, their experiments constantly go awry and threaten to destroy Eureka or even the world.  Even though Jack is the “dumb” one in town, it’s usually his street-smart common sense that provides the ‘eureka’ moment that helps the brilliant scientists save the day.
The storylines are actually very formulaic – it's easy to anticipate how things will go wrong each week and what elements will come together to fix it.  But the comedy keeps things fun, and the show has plenty of heart to make the characters worth following.  The actors are excellent - able to pull off comedy without coming across as too goofy and then turn right around and tug your heartstrings with a dramatic moment.  So a show that could easily be blown off as a silly procedural is actually very charming.  


If you haven’t had a chance to watch this delightful show, Eureka is available on Netflix Watch Instantly.  Check out a few episodes to see if you’re ready to move to this futuristic town where you’re in constant danger of being blown up by someone’s brilliant idea.
One of the coolest things about this show is seeing the insane devices and doodads the writers think up as inventions (what a fun job!) and then wondering how many similar items are actually being worked on in secret labs around the world.  Let’s just hope there’s a Sheriff Carter around to save them when things go wrong!
Do you watch Eureka?  Are you sad this is the last season?  Any wishes for things to happen as they wind things up?  How Earnest does Lily look with her letter E?
And if you haven't had a chance, guess the breeds of my dogs for a chance to win a prize.

A Perfect Ending

I watched the series finale of Friday Night Lights last night, and I’m still feeling the loss of such an amazing television show.  It was such a perfectly FNL ending: plenty of hope for the future, but not everything wrapped up in a falsely perfect bow.  Through five seasons, the writing, directing, acting, cinematography, and editing came together seamlessly to create a something that felt more real than any show I’ve ever watched.  I often felt uncomfortable while watching because I felt like some creeper peering through the windows at these people’s lives.

I think part of the reason it felt so real to me is that I grew up in Summerville, SC, where Green Wave football was more important than just about anything.  I don’t know if Coach John McKissick is the molder of men that Eric Taylor was, but I do know that McKissick is the all-time winningest high school football coach ever.  I spent many Friday nights under those bright lights screaming my head off for our team (that is when I wasn’t awkwardly trying to be cool). 

But it wasn’t just familiarity that made these characters so authentic.  A magical combination of acting and writing truly made them feel like friends.  I laughed with them, worried for them, and I cried for them, oh man, how I cried for them, both at their joy and at their pain.  It actually got to be kind of ridiculous, since I apparently developed a Pavlovian response to the FNL theme song – it would start playing and my eyes would start watering.

As a writer and filmmaker, I know I will pull out my DVDs again and again to enjoy and appreciate what the FNL team did, as well as study how they did it so I can learn to create characters that feel so incredibly real. 

Were you a fan of Friday Night Lights?  Can you suggest other shows with characters who feel so authentic?  For the writers - did you pick up any techniques to improve the characters in your writing?