2014 In Review: 20 Good Things That Lisa Saw On TV In 2014


So, I’m sitting here and I’m trying to make out my annual list of good things that I saw on TV over the previous year and I’ve just realized something.

I did not watch as much TV as usual last year.

It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part.  Up until this very moment, I was actually thinking that I watched too much TV last year.  But, honestly, 2014 was a busy year for me.  Between work and dance and family and romance and writing and seeing movies and shopping and being sick and getting well and the manic states and the depressive states, I just didn’t have as much time as usual to devote to television.

In fact, the only shows that I always made it a point to watch were two reality shows and that was mostly because I write about them over at the Big Brother Blog and the Survivor Blog.

That takes me by surprise because I love television.  I’ve never made any secret of that fact and I’ve never felt guilty about it.  When I’m writing, I find it helps to have the TV on in the background.  As well, knowing that a certain show is always going to be on at a certain time tends to help me deal with my Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.  I’ve always felt that, in a perfect world, I would have my own TV network.  It would be called the Lisa Marie Network (LMN) and I would be in charge of programming every single minute.

But, for whatever reason, in 2014, I didn’t watch as much as usual.  So, don’t consider the list below to be a comprehensive list of everything that was good on television last year.  Instead, consider it to just be 20 good things that I was lucky enough to see.

So, here’s the list!

1) Too Many Cooks on Adult Swim

You knew that I’d have to start out with this one, especially considering that I still find myself randomly singing the theme song.  “When it comes to the future, you can never have too many cooks!”

2) Figure Skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

I actually enjoyed watching most of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  (Except, of course, when Bob Costas was there with his fucked up eye.)  But what I especially loved was watching the figure skating.  How couldn’t you love the chemistry between Charlie White and Meryl Davis or the amazing grace of Yulia Lipnitskaya or Ashley Wagner’s refusal to hide her disgust with the judges?

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 1

3) Veep

Without a doubt, the funniest show on television.  Anyone who idolizes a politician should be forced to watch it.

4) Community ended its network run on a decent note

After a rough fourth season, Community made a comeback of sort during the fifth season.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep NBC from canceling the show but still, it was good to see a few more decent episodes of Community before the show moved over to Yahoo.

5) True Detective

True Detective has been praised so much that I really don’t have much more to say about it, beyond the fact that I found it to be endlessly fascinating.

6) Sharknado 2!

So, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of the first Sharknado.  (I was even less of a fan of the way the media seemed to believe that Mia Farrow was the first person to ever live tweet a movie, especially considering how lame most of Mia’s Sharknado tweets were.)  But I loved Sharknado 2!  Sharknado 2 was everything that the first Sharknado was supposed to be and more!

IZ in Sharknado 2

7) The Old People TV Networks

This is the year that I really made an effort to explore all of the channels that I have available to me.  What I discovered is that there are a lot of stations that are apparently dedicated to exclusively showing shows that were made long before I was even born!  For a history nerd like me, coming across these networks is a bit like accidentally digging up a time capsule.  Add to that, I’ve discovered that old TV shows make for perfect background noise.  I call these networks the Old People TV networks but I do so with affection.

8) Seeing my friend and fellow movie blogging Irish gal Kellee Pratt in the audience whenever TCM rebroadcasts that interview with Maureen O’Hara.

9) Opposite Worlds on SyFy

Opposite Worlds was a reality show that was broadcast on the SyFy Network.  Contestants were divided into two tribes.  One tribe lived in the luxurious future, complete with a fully automated house.  The other tribe lived in the past, which basically meant wearing furs and staying in a cave.  The two tribes competed every week.  Many contestants were seriously injured.  I was hoping that Samm would win, mostly because I share her struggle.  But I was okay with Frank eventually winning.  He turned out to be a nice guy.

(By the way, SyFy, I’m still waiting for a second season…)

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel got better and better during its second season.  I still think Olivia Cooke needs a spin-off where she solves crimes.

bates-motel-season-2-freddie-highmore-600x412

11) True Blood ended before it totally went the way of Dexter.

To be honest, True Blood was definitely showing signs of its age.  I wasn’t really happy with the final season but I was relieved to see that it still ended on a better note than Dexter did.

12) Flowers in the Attic

2014 got off to a great start with Flowers in the Attic, one of the best movies to ever show up on Lifetime.

13) Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

In fact, the only that kept Flowers in the Attic from being the best Lifetime movie was the fact that Lizzie Borden premiered a week later.

Lizzie

14) The Way The Saved By The Bell and Aaliyah Movies Brought Us Together As A Nation

For two nights, our often troubled country was united by the power of mass snarkiness.

15) Coverage Of The Fact That Paul Rosalie Was Not Eaten Alive

There was something greatly satisfying about how, after spending weeks promising that he would be, Paul Rosalie failed to be eaten alive by an anaconda.  I think one reason I especially enjoyed this fact that I didn’t actually watch the special.  I thought the whole thing sounded stupid and crass.  That made the subsequent ridicule all the more satisfying.

16) Key and Peele

Without a doubt, the funniest sketch comedy program on TV today.

17) Talking Dead

To be honest, the only reason I watch The Walking Dead is so I’ll be able to understand what they’re talking about on The Talking Dead.

18) Daft Punk At The Grammys

It was great to see the Robots enjoying themselves.

Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers

19) Weather On The Local News

“Folks, we’ve got a storm system approaching but don’t worry.  Channel 4 will keep your 4warned…”  Some things never change.  I’ve reached the point where I can find the humor in watching our local meteorologists panic every time that it starts to rain.  This past year, whenever I was stuck inside while a light drizzle fell outside, I knew that Pete Delkus, Larry Mowery, and David Finfrock would be there to amuse me with their dire warnings of a weather apocalypse.

"A storm's coming!"

“A storm’s coming!”

20) Degrassi!

Degrassi endures.  And we’re all the better for it.

Degrassi_Season_13_title_card

On one final note: GetGlue, R.I.P.  For five years, I enjoyed checking into tvs, movies, books, and emotions on GetGlue.  Sadly, GetGlue (or TV Tag as it came to be known) went offline on January 1st.  Goodbye, GetGlue.  It was fun while it lasted and I’ll always remember that week when me and that guy from Indonesia were violently fighting over who would get to be the guru of pepper spray. (GGers will understand.)

Tomorrow, my look back at 2014 continues with my ten favorite novels of the year!

Previous Entries In The TSL’s Look Back At 2014:

  1. Things Senor Geekus Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of His Head
  2. 2014 In Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy
  3. 2014 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2014
  4. 2014 In Review: 14 of Lisa’s Favorite Songs of 2014
  5. 2014 in Review: Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

2014 in Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy


sharknado-2-poster

Hello there and welcome to January!

This is the time of year that the Shattered Lens usually takes one final look back at the best and worst of the previous year’s offerings in cinema, television, literature, and music!  Last year, I kicked things off by taking a look at the best that the SyFy network had to offer.

Unfortunately, SyFy didn’t produce as many original films in 2014 as they did in 2013.

However, my beloved Lifetime network remained a consistent showcase for some of the best and worst melodrama that one could hope for.

With that in mind, here are my nominees for the best films and performances that were featured on either the SyFy or the Lifetime network last year!  As always, winners are listed in bold.

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Best Film

Battle of the Damned

Flowers in the Attic

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

*Lizzie Borden Took An Axe*

Sharknado 2

Starving in Suburbia

Best Actress

Kate Beckinsale in The Trials of Cate McCall

Maria Bello in Big Driver

Annie Heise in The Good Mistress

Tara Reid in Sharknado 2

*Christina Ricci in Lizzie Borden Took An Axe*

Kierna Shipka in Flowers in the Attic

Best Supporting Actress

Kendra Anderson in The Good Mistress

*Ellen Burstyn in Flowers in the Attic*

Clea DuVall in Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

Heather Graham in Petals on the Wind

Tina Ivlev in Death Clique

Izabella Miko in Starving in Suburbia

Best Actor

Trevor Donavon in Bermuda Tentacles

Mason Dye in Flowers in the Attic

Michael Keaton in Blindsided

Dolph Lundgren in Battle of the Damned

Patrick Muldoon in Finders Keepers

*Ian Ziering in Sharknado 2*

Best Supporting Actor

James Cromwell in The Trials of Cate McCall

David Field in Battle of the Damned

*Griff Furst in Status Unknown*

Judd Hirsch in Sharknado 2

Mark McGrath in Sharknado 2

John Savage in Bermuda Tentacles

Best Director

Doug Campbell for Death Clique

Deborah Chow for Flowers in the Attic

Anthony C. Ferrante for Sharknado 2

*Nick Gomez for Lizzie Borden Got An Axe*

Christopher Hutton for Battle of the Damned

Tara Miele for Starving in Suburbia

Best Screenplay

Kayla Alpert for Flowers in the Attic

Tim Hill and Jeff Morris for Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

Stephen Kay for Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

Thunder Levin for Sharknado 2

*Tara Miele for Starving in Suburbia*

Griff Furst and Marcy Holland for Status Unknown

Flowers in the Attic

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2014 by revealing my picks for the 16 worst films of 2014!

Previous Entries in Our Look Back At 2014:

Things That I Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of My Head

 

 

What Lisa Watched Last Night #104: Petals on the Wind (dir by Karen Moncrieff)


Last night, I watched the Lifetime original film, Petals On The Wind.

Why Was I Watching It?

It’s the sequel to one of the greatest Lifetime films of all time, Flowers in the Attic.  How could I not watch it?

What Was It About?

10 years have passed since the Dollanganger children escaped from the attic.  Christopher (Wyatt Nash) is a medical student who, despite being engaged, is still attracted to his sister, Cathy (Rose McIver).  Cathy is a dancer who finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship with the handsome but controlling Julian (Will Kemp).  And finally, Carrie (Bailey Buntain) is still struggling with her memories of being held prisoner.  After several tragedies occur outside of the attic, Cathy returns to Foxworth Hall, looking to get revenge on both her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and her mother (Heather Graham).

What Worked?

Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn reprised their roles from Flowers in the Attic and both of them gave Emmy-worthy performances.  Burstyn, in particular, managed to invoke some sympathy for a potentially monstrous character while Graham brought a great combination of immaturity and evil to her character.

On a personal level, I appreciated all of the dancing.  It brought back a lot of good memories.

What Did Not Work?

Watching Petals On The Wind really made me appreciate Flowers in the Attic, which was great for Flowers but not so good for Petals.  As I sat there, trying to figure out why Petals just wasn’t working for me, it occurred to me that the strength of Flowers in the Attic was that the attic itself became as much a character as any of the Dollangangers.  Even more importantly, being trapped in that attic, gave all of the characters a link that went beyond family and sex.  For the viewer, that attic allowed us to know when the story had truly begun (when the kids were first locked up there) and when the story was over (when they finally got to leave).  In Petals, without the attic, the story of Dollangangers often felt formless and random.  As a result, the film may have been watchable but it was rarely compelling.

Since Petals was supposed to take place ten years after the end of Flowers, all of the Dollanganger children were recast.  And while Rose McIvar and Wyatt Nash are both talented, they didn’t have much chemistry when they were on screen together (especially when compared to their predecessors in Flowers).  That lack of chemistry made all of the incest even ickier than it would normally be.

“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments

All of the dancing, of course!  I also have to admit that, like Cathy, I’ve known a few Julians.

Lessons Learned

From a narrative point of view, it is sometimes better to just stay in the attic.

Petals on the Wind

What Lisa Watched Last Night #97: Flowers in the Attic (dir by Deborah Chow)


This weekend, I watched the Lifetime original movie Flowers in the Attic.

Flowers in the Attic

Why Was I Watching It?

How could I not watch it?  From the minute Lifetime first started to air commercials for it back in November, I knew I was going to watch Flowers in the Attic.  What especially captured my attention was the way Flowers in The Attic was referred to as being “the book you weren’t allowed to read.”  Even though I hadn’t even heard of the book before I saw the commercials, that tag line hooked me.  The forbidden is always so inviting.

Add to that, every time I mentioned Flowers in the Attic on Twitter, Mason Dye (who played Christopher in the film) always favorited my tweet.  That was so sweet that there was no way I couldn’t watch the movie.

What Was It About?

The time is the 1950s.  The recently widowed Corrine (Heather Graham) returns to her childhood home in Virginia.  As Corrine explains to her children, she comes from a rich family but was disowned when she left home.  Now, her plan is to make up with her disapproving father and inherit his fortune once he dies.  Corrine also claims that the only way for her to win back her father’s love is for her to keep the existence of her children a secret.

Hence, Corrine’s children — teenagers Cathy (Kierna Shipka) and Christopher (Mason Dye) and twins Carrie and Cory — are forced to hide in the attic while Corrine charms her father.  The children are watched over by their ultra-religious, abusive grandmother (Ellen Burstyn).

Once in the attic, the children soon realize that Corrine doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to win their freedom.  While Cathy and Christopher struggle to come of age without any adult supervision, Grandma occasionally brings up mysterious powdered donuts.  Soon, Cathy and Christopher are exploring their desires and the twins are falling ill…

What Worked?

It all worked.  This was Lifetime at its absolute best: entertaining, fun, and wonderfully melodramatic.  Along with being full of wonderfully gothic Southern atmosphere, Flowers in the Attic featured great performances from Heather Graham, Mason Dye, and Kiernan Shipka.  Best of all was veteran actress Ellen Burstyn, who made Grandma into a wonderfully over-the-top monster.

What Did Not Work?

 If I have any complaints, it’s that the film’s conclusion felt a bit abrupt.  However, a sequel to Flowers is already in production so that ending was actually a perfect set-up for part two of the story.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Cathy was into ballet, just like me!  If I ever found myself locked in an attic for a year and a half, I’d probably use the time to do some pointe work as well.

Lessons Learned

Don’t eat mysterious donuts.