It’s never a good sign when I forgot to set the DVR for a show – surely a strong indication that I can live without it because the story/characters aren’t compelling enough to register as a blip on my short-term memory. Yeah, yeah I know there is a nifty little thing called a Season Pass so I don’t have to remember to set the DVR every week but for new shows where I am only testing them out I don’t like to rush into the such a deep commitment. On Monday night I was sure there was something I was forgetting, and it was only when I turned on the TV for House to discover that some sporting event had delayed the scheduling so that Terra Nova had only just started.

Ah yes Terra Nova. Only on the third episode and already forgetting all about you. I rather liked the pilot despite there being way too much focus on the teenagers (I mean this is airing on Fox not the CW).  It starts in 2149 where the Earth is so inhospitable (think a blend of Blade Runner and Total Recall where apartments are furnished by Muji) that the powers that be have found a way to send people back to the prehistoric period – but hey won’t that screw up the timeline? No, they’ve thought of that and it’s a Jurassic parallel universe. Aren’t they clever!

The focus is on the Shannon family, and their adventures through the wormhole slash Stargate slash whatever. The wife is meant to be some shit-hot doctor which is why the family was recruited for the colony but herein lies one of my main issues. The wife (Dr. Elizabeth Shannon played by British actress Shelley Conn) looks like she is in her early 30s so how the frak is she the mother to two annoying teenagers (circa 16 years old and 14 years old) and managed to finish medical school and whatever residency programs where need to make her such a shit-hot property? (This is why I like The Good Wife; Julianna Margulies’ character Alicia looks and plays old enough to have two teenage children plus she had a career break to raise them.)

So it feels like the teenagers (and their subsequent dippy plot lines) have been shoe-horned in to make the show appeal to a younger demographic (yet they didn’t want to cast age appropriate parents), but there is hope that they will all get eaten by dinosaurs. The patriarch of the family is Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara) an ex-cop who was sent to prison because he and Elizabeth decided to have an illegal third child (this one a believable 5 year old). So before the family is even sent back in time Jim has to break out of prison, rescue the third child (who was being left behind because of the evil government forces) and then crash the transport. This part of the pilot was all very entertaining. Sadly, once they start their new life in oh so perfect Terra Nova it starts to get predictable (or maybe I am just bitter about them getting a high-tech house and a beige Muji wardrobe).

All the residents are happily working together under the military dictatorship of Commander Taylor. It’s like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the away team beam down to discover colonist who are happy working in the fields in their stylish Muji clothing, and there is a bustling market.  It’s all too perfect apart from the dinosaur attacks, the group of colonist that have broken off to live separately and the mysterious messages at the waterfall.

As much as I like Shelley Conn and Jason O’Mara (and it’s nice to have a mixed race couple on TV) I don’t really care what happens to them or their brood. Too much focus on moody teenagers and the mythology of the show hasn’t been established quick enough. The second and third episodes were typical dinosaur of the week episodes, and it would have been better if they had been darker and introduced us into the world of the break away colonists and any conspiracy theories about the true mission of the colony.

So there you go. No season pass for Terra Nova.

Monday

Season Pass: House

Episode by Episode Probation:  Terra Nova

Guilty Secret: Castle

I really hope that this is the final season of House. Please let it end so that we can all be released from this endless cycle of abuse – Cuddy managed to escape why not us? The premise of Terra Nova looks interesting: dystopian future plus dinosaurs. So we’ll see how that goes. As much as I love my weekly hit of Nathan Fillion charm I don’t really want Castle clogging up my DVR so I watch it via On Demand.

Tuesday

Season Pass: NCIS

Guilty Secret: Body of Proof

NCIS is like a pair of really comfy furry Crocs that you know aren’t stylish and should throw out but you just can’t. I was going to watch Buffy in Ringer but I missed the first episode, and I think I can live without it as it sounds like a re-hash of an Agatha Christie story. Okay, Body of Proof isn’t a particularly innovative police procedural but it’s nice to see Seven of Nine boss Dana Delaney around.

Wednesday

Season Pass: Top Chef Texas

Got to wait till November for the next season of Top Chef with the shiny Tom Colicchio and glamorous Padma Lakshmi. I just hope that Anthony Bourdain will be guesting as a judge slash blogger as his acerbic wit is most needed (especially if foam rears it’s foamy head again).

Thursday

Season Pass: The Big Bang Theory & The Mentalist

Episode by Episode Probation: Person of Interest & Prime Suspect

Alex and I have fallen so far down TBBT rabbit hole that there is no return, and it’s one of the few shows worth watching live. I *loved* the season finale of The Mentalist and it will be interesting to see how they handle it. Even though I don’t think Prime Suspect needed to be re-booted I will give it a whirl since the cast is led by Maria Bello. I’m curious about Person of Interest – could be good (Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson and JJ Abrams) or could be a crap Minority Report style knock off.

Friday

Season Pass: Chuck, Fringe & Supernatural

Episode by Episode Probation: A Gifted Man & Grimm

Friday is genre programming night because only geeks and nerds (and the heavenly pregnant) don’t go out. Out of all the fall shows (new and returning) I am most exciting about picking things up in Fringe’s alternate time line. It’s the last few episodes of Chuck so that’s a must watch. Supernatural is on my personal bubble. I hated the ending of the last season, and what they’ve done to Castiel. They either need to shake things up or start winding things down. A Gifted Man sounds a little bit Joan of Ark-ish – not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Now Grimm I have a bone to pick with as I have a sneaking suspicious that this got picked up by NBC instead of Ronald D. Moore’s pilot 17th Precinct but I am curious about how they will blend the mythology of the Grimm fairy tales.

Saturday

Nothing! Netflix night.

Sunday

Season Pass: The Good Wife & Homeland

Episode by Episode Probation: Once Upon a Time

The new show I am most excited about is Homeland with the most excellent Damian Lewis. It sounds like it’s a combination of Band of Brothers and Life – w00t! The trailer makes it look really good. I’m not so sure about CBS moving The Good Wife to Sundays but hey what do I know about TV scheduling! Can’t wait to find out what happens between Alicia and Will, and Alicia and Eli. Alan Cumming is TV gold – he doesn’t need lines to steal scenes he just glares at the other actors. Once Upon a Time is another show blending fairy tale mythology and “real” life so curious as to how they approach it.

This post could also be called: ‘I Finally Read a Book!!!’

I think I was so fatigued from 6 years of reading for school that this summer I’ve barely been able to pick up a book over the summer. Reading a few chapters of ‘The Mayo’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy’ or ‘The New Basics: A to Z of baby and childcare for the modern parent’ is about all I can manage. But, when we went up to Lime Rock Park for the weekend (about 12 lbs ago – I now measure time in weight gain) I sat very happily on our balcony and read the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery (A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear) in a day. I now understand why one of my friends says that she can’t read in NYC she can only get through books on vacation.

I’m hoping that as the weather starts and as I gain my final 10 lbs (*sigh* these are going to be good sized twins) that I’ll feel more like reading. There is something about the crispness of fall and a latte that makes me want to curl up with my iPad (or Kindle). I just need to read something sticky that pulls me back in. I really need to read as much as possible before the cylon invasion.

Right, back to ‘A Lesson in Secrets’ which is the 8th Maisie Dobbs mystery, and whilst I enjoyed it I have a feeling the series is starting to wrap things up. Which is no bad thing – it’s better to go out strong than keep pumping up books with a thinner and thinner plot (ahem Alexander McCall Smith!).

For a quick Maisie Dobbs recap she is an investigator and psychologist in 1930s London who at the start of the series was a young girl working as a house maid for Lord and Lady Compton. She was discovered at 3am trying to teach herself Latin before a day of hard graft. Her employers realized her potential and were somewhat progressive (she was sent to work as a maid in the country and be tutored so that she could apply for university when old enough). Maisie’s education at the University of Cambridge is interupted by the First World War, and she takes a sabbatical to train as a nurse and join the Woman’s Army. Post-WW1 and after she completes her studies she ends being mentored by one of the top investigators, and eventually sets out on her own. Phew!

In ‘A Lesson in Secrets’ Maisie is working with the British Secret Service and goes undercover at a small Cambridge college to investigate one of the lecturers and then finds herself  sucked into solving a murder. It’s a solid case, and there is enough character development to keep the reader enthralled. It’s hard to write about the plot of a mystery novel without giving too much away so I’ll stop here.

DVDs:

Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with lots of dancing and singing. Austen is a perfect fit for an Indian make over, and I think I prefer it to the monsterification which is the latest trend for Austen’s work. It’s a definite improvement on the Joe Wright – Keira Knightley flick which took it’s self far too seriously.

Valentine’s Day: Slightly embarrassed by this rental. It was bad, so very bad. But I was in need of a chick flick, and I thought it would be passable but it was a pure mortgage flick for all concerned. The tangled love lives of a bunch of pretty LA inhabitants as they celebrate or mourn their way through Valentine’s Day. It’s only saving grace was the 3 minutes of screen time that Bradley Cooper was given.

Stephen Fry in America (2 discs): A couple of years ago Stephen Fry drove a London cab through all 50 states and made a documentary about it. I was actually disappointed by the documentary – there were some interesting bits (like at the Body Farm). But in comparison to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations gastro-travel docs it came off as slow and dullish.

The Big Bang Theory: Season 1 (3 discs) We’ve completely fallen down the Sheldon et al  rabbit hole (or should that be black hole?). Love ’em all, and their quarky quirks. I started dipping into TBBT this year. Then thought we should go back to the beginning not that it really matters as you can dip in and out but it’s fun seeing how all the characters developed and their adventures. (Planning on doing a longer post as it has become apparent that I have married Sheldon-lite.)

Castle: Season 2 (1 disc) Again this is series I started watching this year, and have gone back to watch the first and now second season. On the surface it’s a fairly standard police procedural but it has Nathan Fillion on full charm offensive. What can I say?

Instants:

TV: The Good Guys (pilot episode), Top Shot (season 2 – 13 episodes) & The Glades (season 1 – 13 episodes)

Let’s skip over The Good Guys, and concentrate on the total awesomeness of The Glades and Top Shot. I have a soft spot for police procedurals especially quirky ones that aren’t too forumalic. The Glades fits that bill.  Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) is a Chicago cop who is forced to relocate to a different police force after an unfortunate run in with his boss and he choices Florida for the good weather, and golf. Matt Passmore is so charming as Longworth it is delight to watch him solve crimes, and flirt with Callie (Kiele Sanchez) the nurse slash medical student slash single mother slash jailhouse wife. I’m not quite sure how Callie manages to juggle everything but she is not annoying and you find yourself rooting for her and Jim to get together.  What I like the most about Callie is that she doesn’t whine. One of the reasons I stopped watching Nip/Tuck was that Joely Richardson’s character Julia McNamara drove me mad with her constant moaning about wanting to go back to medical school (amongst the many other things she moaned about), not doing anything about it, and then when she takes a pre-med class she ends up dropping out and goes back to moaning. Ugh.

I know that a reality TV show centered around gunman-ship is not everyone’s cup of tea but Top Shot it is one of the few skills-based reality show competitions. It’s really interesting as you learn about the history of different weapons and see the contestants pushed to their limits with difficult challenges. Generally the contestants are fairly respectful of each other there is bickering, and some plotting but you are saved drunken hot-tub antics.

Films: A Private Function, Possession, Maybe Baby, You Again, Weather Girl & I Capture The Castle

I’ve seen A Private Function many times over the years, and couldn’t resist this dry comedy of social climbing in the small northern town when I spied it on Netflix Instant. Possession is again a film I’ve many times – there is something about Aaron Eckhart and Gwynnie Paltrow as academics on the hunt for missing historical letters that I find charming. The Da Vinci Code this is not but a gentle romantic story unfolds with our academics, and the subject of their obsession.

Maybe Baby is a Brit infertility rom-com. Despite a strong cast the premise is as bad as it sounds. You Again is an awful awful rom-com and it makes you want to stage an intervention for Veronica Mars. What went wrong? Why does she get no decent roles? Weather Girl on the other hand is a quiet indie flick that went straight to Netflix Instant (I think). It’s slow in parts and overly earnest in others but a refreshing change from all the crappy rom-coms chocked full of stars doing mortgage flicks.

I Capture The Castle is one of my favorite books, and I love the film adaptation as well. An eccentric family living in a crumbling castle in the 1930s, and the cast is so good: Bill Nighy, Romola Garai, Rose Byrne and Tara Fitzgerald. Love it!

Stats for August: DVDs (8) & Instants (33)

In the wake of getting my degree results (yes I’m still pleased as punch about them) I decided to start researching the options for learning Latin and ancient Greek because if I want to do a MA then I’ll need to have languages. If I wasn’t about to have me some babies then I’d be getting a job to pay for language classes at one of the local universities, and contemplating a post-bac. But hey, who says I can’t have me some babies and learn me some dead languages I just need to be a little bit more creative. Think outside of Pandora’s Box.

I thought I’d found this great distance learning program where I could work towards a diploma in Latin and ancient Greek whilst being at home and juggling everything else. But, this week I got confirmation of the fees and it made me sad. They charge the same price for distance learning students as for those attending in-person, and because I’m technically “overseas” (though if you are distance learning does location really matter?) so I would have to pay the higher rate. I don’t think so.

I did a bit of crowd sourcing via Twitter, and came up with some teach yourself Latin options which I reckoned combined with some intensive summer language courses might be the best option for me at this time. Who knows how much time I’ll have or if I have any talent for languages so this is a low cost way to dip my toe in the water and keep my brain ticking over.

So, the books I’m looking at are the Cambridge Latin Course, Wheelock’s Latin (available for Kindle) and Complete Latin: A Teach Yourself Guide. I’m swaying towards Complete Latin at the moment as I’ve read such good things about it, and I’ll probably pull the trigger on ordering it tomorrow (that and a bath mat as someone is worried about me slipping in the shower).

Since my monthly Netflix payment is going up, and I need a push to review the stuff I’ve seen I figure that a monthly review is a good way of making sure I am still getting value for money from Netflix.

DVDs:

Nights in Rodanthe – Awful, awful film. It’s all about “old” people finding love post-divorce and medical malpractice suits in the midst of storm. I honestly only rented it because James Franco was in it but he is barely present. It’s one of his homeopathic films where you just get essence of Franco, and frankly it is not enough.

Just Go With It – An Aniston-Sandler rom-com that isn’t actually as bad as it should be, and the kid actors are the least annoying I’ve seen in a long time (they are actually clever, manipulative and funny).

Macross: Vol. 3 – This was an Alex rental so I dozed through it.

Leverage: Season 3 (disc 2, 3 & 4) – More adventures from our con men with hearts of gold. Still not as good as the first season but helped me dodge the heat.

Battle: Los Angeles – LOVE IT! All those reviews trashing it were obviously expecting a sci-fi movie rather than a straight up war film. It is really good war film. The soldiers methodically figure out how to defeat the enemy (aliens).

Mamma Mia! – What can I say I needed a hit of Greece and ABBA. Blue skies and catchy lyrics made not being able to go on vacation this summer bearable.

Unknown – AWFUL! I thought this was going to be cool fightie film like Taken instead it’s dull. There is zero chemistry between Liam Neeson and January Jones before, during and after amnesia.  Avoid it like the plague as you will never get those hours back.

The Adjustment Bureau – Not bad. It is of course based on a Philip K. Dick short story than the powers that be decided to romanticize.

Source Code – Definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Kudos to Duncan Jones for producing a solid follow-up to Moon. It’s so much more than “Jake on a train”. It is a much smarter and layered film than the trailers had presented. Like Moon I don’t want to give any thing away but by the end you will be craving coffee and donuts.

How Do You Know – Terrible film about a women (Reese Whitherspoon) with low self esteem who is still playing soft ball professionally into her 30s (or is it late 20s I forget when women are over-the-hill), and then gets cut from the national team or something. She dates a man who treats her badly, and Jack Nicholson keeps randomly appearing but doesn’t really aid the plot.

Instants:

TV: Hoarders (1 episodes), No Reservations (6 episodes), Firefly (2 episodes), Farscape (1 episode), Sherlock Holmes (3 episodes), Coupling: Season 4 (1 episode), and Sports Night: Seasons 1 & 2 (33 episodes)

Wow I watched a lot of Sports Night last month. I must have been on a serious Dan Rydell and Aaron Sorkin high after all of that. No Reservations is Alex and I’s go to Instant on the weekend when there is nothing to watch, and Bourdain’s adventures are always amusing. Everything else I watched must have been whilst I was overheating on the sofa is something of a blur.

Documentary: Art & Copy

In honor of Alex going to work for a branding agency we thought we should watch this documentary about movers and shakers of the industry and how it’s evolved. It’s pretty interesting and worth a watch.

Films: America’s Sweethearts, Blue Crush, & Blue Juice,

These were “vacation” substitute films. America’s Sweethearts is set in a lush hotel, Blue Crush is in Hawaii (again with a lush hotel), and Blue Juice is set in Cornwall (the Hawaii of the UK). Roll on next year when we can have an actual vacation – even if it is to my mum’s in Scotland.

Stats for July: DVDs (12) & Instant (51)

Looks like July was a really heavy Netflix month thanks to the soaring temps and limited mobility. Source Code and Battle: Los Angeles were definitely the best things.

Today we met up with some friends at Smorgasburg, the artisanal food fair at the site of the Brooklyn Flea Market. My plan: to eat, drink and be merry.  Their plan: to gaze in wonder at my belly and the fact that I’m not due till November.

Because of my incredible size Alex and I drove there which meant dealing with the traffic cops who suddenly decided to redirect the bridge and tunnel traffic as per their whims (seriously on the way back we were re-routed away from the Holland Tunnel three times for no good reason), and the adventure of driving through the hipster “slums” of Williamsburg before you hit the fancy-pants redeveloped waterfront. The best way to describe hipster “slums” is to imagine The Wire country of Baltimore but the products being pushed on every street corner are ironic hats, orthopedic foot wear and vintage plastic glasses frames that would have got you beaten up in grade school but are now the bleeding edge of hipster fashion.

Any way back to Smorgasburg the food is good. Some of it very good and some of it okay and a little too fancy for its own good. I didn’t really pay that much attention to the names of the stalls – it was hot, and we were eating as we walked which meant I was focused on staying upright. The best thing I ate was a roast pork belly roll and it was so good I had two. It was simple and delicious. The roll contained fat and crackling as well as the meat. If I go again then I’ll just eat that over and over again. Perhaps they do a bulk discount. The Bite Sized Kitchen did meat on a stick which was also tasty, the kimchi pork buns from We Rub You were disappointing (not spicy enough and meat cut too thin), and we also had grilled sweetcorn covered with peach butter and salt that was okay (bit of sweetcorn purist and if the produce is at its peak it doesn’t need to be slathered with anything). For desert we split a mint biscuit mochi that again was just okay, and our friends went crazy for (like everyone else) frozen banana. Literally a frozen banana shoved through a meat grinder (or something similar) to produce an frozen banana “ice-cream” but only made with bananas. Absolutely genius as the mark-up must be phenomenal. I am trying to figure out how to make these at home.

Drinks wise you have every iteration of lemonade and ice-tea going. Since I’ve started making my own watermelon juice I can’t part with $5 for something I make at home for  significantly less (it’s the same with ice-tea and lemonade). We settled on a pineapple, mint and spring water concoction that was delicious and I will now be making at home, and selling on a street corner near you.

I am really glad we went, and would happily go again but my main criticisms is that everything seemed to cost $5 and up, and the portion sizes were on the small size (perhaps artisanal is the new tall?). I’m not just saying that because I am 7 months pregnant with the appetite of a small army. The quality of the produce is excellent but I think they could increased the portion size or have some ‘Two pork buns for $7″ style offers without hurting their margins too much.

Alex took a few photos and they are up on his Flickr site.