Summer TV Reviews for: The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Misfits, and Friday Night Lights

The Nine Lives of Chloe King (***) – Chloe King is a normal teen living with her single mom in San Fransisco, going to school, working at a vintage clothing store, and hanging out with her best friends Amy and Paul.  Weird things start happening to her on her birthday — like she can easily walk on the edge of a bench, has retractable claws, and can hear conversations from far away.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King isn’t the greatest show ever, but so far, it is kind of adorable, fun summer TV.  Skyler Samuels, who plays Chloe, is not only beautiful, but plays Chloe with a winning combination of vulnerable likability.  The interactions with her friends are playful and realistic and the whole superpower plot is enjoyable, so far.  I love all the San Fransisco scenery and like that no one keeps too many secrets. Chloe keeps a few from her mom — who is probably my least favorite character because that relationship is a little boring — but even Chloe’s relationship with her mom has some sweet moments and the lack of secrets between Chloe and her friends keeps the plot moving and free from unnecessary melodrama.  Some of the acting is a little wooden, but overall, the leads are competent.  It’s a fun, easy to watch summer teen superpower show.

[On ABC Family, Tuesdays at 9pm Eastern Time/ 9pm Central. The pilot is available on iTunes for free; Hulu has only 1 episode up at a time for free viewing.  (Today it’s episode 3, which I still have to watch.)  The new episode is up on Hulu the day after it plays on ABC Family, then taken down when a new episode is posted. All episodes are also available to buy on iTunes.]

Misfits (*** 1/2) – is like Skins meets a British Heroes, but without the boring save-the-world plots.  Five young offenders show up for community service on a day that a wicked thunderstorm hits.  They’re all struck by weird lightening, but seem fine, until weird things start happening, like one of them can hear people’s thoughts now.  While it’s not actually on TV, Hulu is showing the first season for free online viewing on its site, one episode a week. 

The daughterling watched the first two seasons of Misfits with a friend and liked it so much I promised I’d watch once it came to American TV.  It’s entertaining so far. 

Like a lot of British shows the characters are more realistic and less polished than American characters tend to be.  The language can be a bit rough and there’s a lot more nudity and sex than on an American show.  I also like that the characters are clearly working class, instead of the pseudo poor characters on American shows, who have unexplained fantastic apartments and fabulous wardrobes. The characters are also more regular looking. Yeah, a couple are quite good looking, but not everyone is required to be as glamorous as on your average American teen show.  The daughterling says the show gets better as it goes on and that season two is even better than season one.

[The first three episodes are currently on Hulu for free online viewing. New episodes are posted on Mondays. You need to have a free account though because the content is for over 13 years and above.]

Friday Night Lights (****) – If you never watched Friday Night Lights now is your chance because seasons one through four are available on Netflix Instant. 

Kyle Chandler plays Eric Taylor, the new coach of a small Texan town where high school football is the main entertainment.  I love this show!  It’s realistic, moody, sweet, and has me cheering for the football team while at the same time thinking, "This town really needs to get a life."  You don’t have to like football to enjoy this show because Friday Night Lights is really about mentoring teens and it’s one of the best fiction shows I’ve seen on mentoring teens.

The first couple episodes have some handheld camera work but they do away with that technique after the first few episodes.  Season two has some over-the-top plotlines, but fear-not, the writers realize their mistake and get back to normal in season three.

[Netflix Instant has seasons one through four.  Season five is available to rent on DVD through Netflix too. Hulu posts a new episode for season five each Saturday, but the episodes expire after several weeks.  Currently episodes 6-10 of season five are up on Hulu. Season five episodes are also available to buy on iTunes.]

Book Review: For Heist Society, Plus Cool Armchair Travel Link

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Year Published: 2010
Genre: YA
Format: Read eBook on Nook for Droid
Rating: ** 1/2 for experienced readers; *** for teen readers new to this genre

Katarina Bishop just left her family’s Art stealing business to try out life as a normal boarding school student.  She enjoyed being "normal" until someone framed her for a stunt involving the headmaster’s Porsche Speedster and a fountain.  Suddenly Kat’s thrust back into the world of high-priced Art theft to save her father, who is in deep trouble, and Kat’s the only one who can save him.

I really wanted to like this book.  It’s written by the same author who wrote the Gallagher Girls Spy School Series, starting with, I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You. That book had a strong realistically teen voice, a well-built storyworld with lots of fun details, and lots of normal teen emotions.  Heist Society, on the other hand, feels like it’s filled with the type of stock characters one would see on a glossy, bland evening teen soap opera on American TV (think Gossip GIrl with Art thieves). 

That said, this might be a good book for a reluctant teen reader who doesn’t have as much experience watching movies like Ocean’s 11 or shows like Leverage. The Art stealing scenes are kind of fun and cool, but not very realistic– much like an episode of Leverage or some other con artist show.

Armchair Travel Link:

Check out this cool armchair travel link I read about on Grist, in Sarah Goodyear’s article, A Virtual Vacation: Stroll the World with Robot Flâneur   The site offers a virtual travel slideshow with a hundred or so varied street shots of one city.  It makes an enjoyable scene saver while I’m doing other work at my desk.  You can virtually travel to 9 different cities:  Paris, London, San Fransisco, Mexico City, Manhattan, Berlin, Johannesburg, Tokyo, and São Paulo.

2010-2011 TV Talk: Part 2, Half-Hour Shows

Parks and Recreation – has become my favorite half-hour show.  Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and her staff at the Pawnee Indiana Parks and Recreation office are likable, quirky, and fun. The short six-episode first season was a bit rough but the show really found its stride in seasons two and three. Check it out on Netflix Instant!

[Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Netflix Instant Viewing. Season 3 is being repeated on NBC on Thursdays at 9:30 pm. Hulu also has about 5 episodes of season 3 available at a time for free viewing. The entire third season is also available to buy by episode or whole season on iTunes.]

The Big Bang Theory – expanded its story world by creating a girl group to go along with its established boy group.  That kept the jokes and storylines from getting stale.

[Not available to buy on iTunes. Can rent DVDs from Netflix for seasons1-3.  Season 4 is being repeated on CBS on Thursdays at 8pm.  There are also a couple episodes available for free online viewing on CBS online.]

How I Met Your Mother– just finished its sixth season. The writers have been stringing the "mother" plot along for far too long and the show is starting to show it’s age, but I still like the characters and most episodes are still fairly enjoyable.

[Can rent DVDs for seasons 1-5 from Netflix. Season 6 is repeated on CBS on Mondays at 8pm.  There are also a couple episodes available for free online viewing on CBS online.}

Modern Family – finished its second season. I wish the writers could come up with better stories for Mitchell and Cam than stale gay stereotypes, but overall the show manages to take family stereotypes and twist them in surprisingly fun and heartwarming ways.  My favorite moment this season was probably when Gloria "won" Valentine’s Day after her husband thought he could pull one over on her.  It was a nice twist on the know-it-all-old-man plot.

[Can rent DVDs for season 1 from Netflix. Two episodes of Season 2 is repeated on ABC each Wednesday at 9pm and 9:30 pm. Five episodes at a time are available on Hulu  for free viewing too.  Episodes or seasons are also available to buy on iTunes.]

Posting Notice:  I’m skipping next week’s post.  The next new post will be up here Wednesday, June 22nd.  See you in two weeks!