My latest Pop Culture update

I hereby present the things I’m enjoying right now, and that I recommend for anyone.  Or at least to those who have a healthy love of pop culture and an equally healthy ability to suspend disbelief around certain – shall we say – less than plausible plot lines.  (I’m looking at you, “Revolution”.)

We’ll call these first two the “Thank God those awful mid-season replacement shows are over” category.

1)  ”The Voice” is back!  Yes, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera are taking a season off, but Usher is great and Shakira, though still questionable, might wind up surprising everyone.   Adam Levine (or “Ben’s friend Adam” as he is known in our house) is adorable as always, along with the equally adorable (and hands down winner of Best Laugh) Blake Shelton.   Talent is looking awesome, and I think this season may wind up being the best yet.

[By the way, if you have never seen The Voice but like singing, you should watch.  This is a positive show.  No running down the contestants or being insulting - just encouragement and great tips for those who don't make it past auditions.]

2.  The aforementioned “Revolution”!  Oh thank all the gods that this show is back.  We really, really tried to like “Deception” (mostly because Jack Bristow – I mean Victor Garber – was in it, but it was just deep down awful and we finally gave up on it a mere three episodes from finally finding out Who Killed Vivian Bowers Already!  (And I don’t care and never thought of it again once we stopped watching which means it was REALLY AWFUL.  I will watch schlock, people, with no shame.  This was bad.)

So, yeah, “Revolution”!  Yay for a show produced by J.J. Abrams that has tons of little inside writer’s jokes revolving around stuff like Texas and Ben Affleck.  Curious now, aren’t you?    Also, it’s just fun.  And it stars Billy Burke.  Who is awesome.  Suspension of disbelief necessary but willingly done.

Ok, moving on to the “Great Foreign TV Shows we never knew about so thank you Amazon Prime!” category.

3.  ”Dance Academy” is free for Prime members and has over 40 episodes available.  Fantastic 1/2 hour show about kids who get into Australia’s National Academy of Dance in Sydney.  I love it.  Love it!  Appropriate for everyone and just all around good.

4.  ”Ripper Street”  This almost didn’t make the list.  In fact I’m still on the fence about it, and I had  heard of it before, so Amazon doesn’t take all the credit (It’s a BBC show, which usually means it’s better than 99% of anything on U.S. TV without even trying).   But even though it stars Matthew MacFadyen (You all know him.  He was Mr. Darcy in the most recent “Pride & Prejudice” with Keira Knightley) I just can’t decide if I like it.  It’s not light watching, not appropriate for kids and maybe too dark for me.  We’ll see.

Next we have the “Books” category:

5.  Chic lit often equals lots of sub-par writing but in this case I am making an exception.  Lee Nichols wrote Tales of a Drama Queen and Hand-Me-Down.  They are cleanly written, funny and even moving at times.  Published sometime in the early 2000′s, they are not new and I picked them up from a street bookseller a while back.  Probably available from the library or used on line.  Great light reading, great characters.

6.  Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.  Atkinson has a new book out called Life after Life that is getting raves, and that I plan to read soon.  Histories hit the U.S. in 2008 (and I think the BBC made a series of it which I may need to check out) so I’m a little behind,  but I loved this book.  Intricate, compelling and beautifully written.  Get it.

Moving on to “Movies I liked and one I hated (and why)”

7.  ”Admission” – So much better than the preview leads you to believe.  Not just silly slapstick, but a great story with more depth than many will expect.   And Michael Sheen!  AND Lily Tomlin!!

8.  ”The Gatekeepers” – This should be required viewing.  A documentary which interviews six previous leaders of Shin Beit, which is the Israeli security/anti-terrorism unit.   These guys are insightful, realistic, empathetic and so interesting I never wanted it to end.  You’ll gain tons of perspective about the situation in Israel from watching this film, from the guys who’ve been ‘in the trenches’ so to speak for the last 35 years.  Fantastic.

9.  ”Oz the Great & Powerful” –  I loved it. I loved how it started and how they picked up story threads and set pieces that lead, 25 years later, to Dorothy’s arrival in the original film.  Good fun for any Wizard of Oz fans.

10.  The one I hated.  ”Beautiful Creatures”.   Oh screenwriter, what did you do?  How did this happen?  This is a book series that should have been better on film, especially with our current CGI and special effects abilities.  It has characters that scream to be made flesh by wonderful actors.   And the film HAD those wonderful actors, which makes the result that much more disappointing.    I won’t go into details, because if you haven’t read the books (which by the way, I recommend) the details won’t have much impact, but I will say this:  Whoever decided that it was ok to do away with the MAIN impediment to our two leading characters ever having a chance to be together?  You need to be fired.  You see, the main character is a young witch, or caster,  who does not know if she will turn dark or light (something that happens on her 16th birthday).   She falls for a boy who is not a caster and of course both their families disapprove, BUT….   When they touch some sort of current is created that causes the boys heart to malfunction.  And if they touch or kiss too ardently or for too long, it actually endangers his life.

Which they left out of the film.   Along with much of the plot and virtually all of the intrigue.  I predict there will be no sequel.

(Oh and they did away with the best prop piece EVER!  The red lollipop!  The siren’s red lollipop!  Why?  WHY???)

I spent an entire day after we saw that movie re-writing the script in my head.   Actually I decided it would work better as a TV series and could easily outline 5 seasons if asked….

So there you have it.  When I’m not arguing with people on Facebook or writing over on UnschoolingNYC, I’m knee deep in pop culture of one sort or another.  Often with my kids or my husband.   Which makes it all the more fun.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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