the IT list #13: TV’s Freshman Class

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #13
The 2014-2015 TV Season is drawing to a close; and I’m happy to have discovered a bunch of new shows to obsess over. They are all fresh, brilliant and entertaining. Most, if not all, of them have finished their freshman year (1st season); and I could definitely vouch for their quality and potential for longevity. I suggest you get hooked and catch up as soon as you can. As a bonus, I’m adding a mini-series/documentary that made waves early this year. Read on…

#ONE
Better Call Saul is a spin-off/prequel of the groundbreaking AMC series Breaking Bad. But instead of living under the shadows of its predecessor, Better Call Saul stands on its own. Its only connection to the former show is the common characters and the setting. Other than that, it has its own stories to tell and gives great insight into the origins of the Saul Goodman (and even the Mike Ehrmantraut) we think we know.

#TWO
Marvel’s Daredevil is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is meant to be a first in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries.

Honestly, I don’t particularly follow the TV shows from the MCU (Agents of Shield, Agent Carter are not in my radar.). I’m more of a DC follower when it comes to the small screen. However, if this is the jumping off point for the next series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, then sign me up. The season arc is well-developed and tight as a story. The show is also anchored in reality in that every episode shows just how vulnerable our hero is despite his abilities. The characters are complex. The action sequences are amazing. The build-up to our hero donning his suit is also not contrived. It’s definitely another feather in Netflix’s cap of awesomely-produced shows.

#THREE
Anything Rob Thomas does, I will most definitely watch. As an avid fan of Veronica Mars, I eagerly awaited his latest foray into television — iZombie. It definitely doesn’t disappoint.

It might be another zombie series, sure; but this one has elements of Veronica Mars. You have a strong female lead. The episodic mysteries are engaging, yet there’s an overarching story that spans the whole season. There are hooks at the end of each episode that keep you intrigued; and the characters are interesting and funny. The season hasn’t ended but with two episodes left, I’m positive it’s going to be good.

#FOUR
This is the absolute standout freshman series for me this season. It is loosely based on Venezualan telenovela Juana la Virgen, where our lead, Jane, accidentally gets artificially inseminated. Her world turns upside down when she discovers that she’s pregnant despite being a sworn virgin.

The premise seems crazy; but the show just goes with its telenovela roots yet still infuses a lot of heart into the story. This results in a really unique, quirky and funny show that will let you see past the craziness and just appreciate the characters and their relationships, which is still grounded in reality.

#FIVE
The Flash is a spin-off of Arrow, the other DC TV show that’s pretty good in my book. The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes; so it’s great to see him get his own TV series. As far as first seasons go, this show succeeds in creating its own fun little world within Central City, far and away from the dark and brooding seriousness of Star(ling) City. The characters are really likable; and the central villain (for the first season) posed a real threat to our hero throughout the season. I hope this show doesn’t lose its momentum and continues to impress leading into Legends of Tomorrow.

#BONUS
Documentary crime dramas are my guilty pleasure; and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst hits that sweet spot. It’s very real. It’s very controversial. It’s seriously intriguing… especially in the end. It’s only six episodes; so I highly recommend that you check it out. I guarantee you won’t be able to stop watching until the gripping conclusion.

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the IT list #12: Watch List

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #12

#ONE
2013 isn’t over; but I could honestly say that this is arguably one of the finest years for Philippine cinema ever. Cinemalaya kicked it off for me with the premiere of films such as Transit, Sana Dati and Ekstra. It was then followed by a mainstream release that definitely raised the bar for local Pinoy action movies — On The Job. New film festival Cinefilipino also produced some noteworthy films such as Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita, Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin and Ang Kwento ni Mabuti. Even Kung Fu Divas exceeded my expectations and truly delivered on the laughs with its unique story and execution. Hooray for Philippine cinema, indeed!

(L to R): Ekstra, Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita, On The Job, Transit, Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin

If you have the chance to catch any of the above films, please do try to watch them. Special mention goes to On The Job, which just blew me away, and Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita, which I couldn’t help but fall in love with as I was watching. Here’s hoping more fine local films are produced in years to come!

#TWO
I finished the well-written, well executed, overall awesome show Breaking Bad last weekend, and I still can’t get it off my head. From beginning to end, this television show has delivered an amazing, well-rounded story without ever dipping in quality. As icing to an already delicious cake, the series finale satisfied me as a fan. Just brilliant.

A lot of the credit goes to Vince Gilligan (for creating it) as well as the talented cast led by Bryan Cranston (for breathing life into these complex characters). Thank you for bringing this show into our lives; and I will never forget it… ever.

#THREE
As I waited for the regular TV season to begin, I decided to check out some new shows from Netflix‘s foray into original programming… and they are AMAZING.

Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are two very different series — one is a black comedy set in a women’s correctional facility and the other is a drama set in the halls of power in Washington, DC. Both are unique. Both are extremely engaging shows in their own ways. Both are exciting additions to my must-watch list. Best of all, Netflix, as a content distributor, is changing the landscape of television by releasing full seasons in one go. No more waiting week after week for new episodes!

If these two shows are any indication of the bar set by Netflix with anything they release, then I’m on board with whatever they produce.

#FOUR
Gravity is the second film I watched in IMAX this year; and that’s pretty rare for me. Still, much like Pacific Rim before it, the film is well worth every peso. Alfonso Cuaron’s latest is an absolute visual masterpiece.  I was glued to every moment. I was gripped. I was in suspense. And for something that in essence only has two characters in it, that says a lot of the directing and the acting that went into the whole thing.

Catch this movie if you haven’t. Watch it in IMAX if you can. For me, it is definitely one of the best films this year.

#FIVE
Wicked is finally coming to Manila! I flew on a quick trip to Singapore over a year ago to catch this musical; and I absolutely loved it. Immediately after, my friend and I promised each other to watch it again when it arrives in Philippine shores. Needless to say, we’ve bought our tickets; and I’m so excited to relive the music, the story and the magic. This is definitely a must-watch! The show opens on January 22, 2014 at the CCP Main Theater. Tickets available at Ticketworld.

the IT list #11

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #11

#ONE
It’s been a summer of really entertaining blockbuster movies; but the one that stood out for me so far is Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. I’ve watched it twice. Once in IMAX 3D. Once in the good old 2D format. Either way, the movie is just pure awesomeness wrapped in robots versus monsters goodness. Go watch it.

#TWO
It was one LONG month before I got this; but the waiting was worth it! I’ve been wanting to buy a pocket WiFi device of my own. Thankfully, I held out long enough for LTE to arrive in our shores.

The Smart LTE Prepaid Pocket WiFi kit is worth Php6,995. It includes a ZTE MF93D unit and LTE Sim. I’ve been using it for almost two months and I have no regrets. I’ve only gone up to 12mbps at the most, but it’s even faster than the WiFi in my house! And that’s saying a lot. With the prepaid kit, I get to control the amount I put into my device — no contracts, no lockout. What’s even better is that the unit allows up to 10 users at a time! I can also avail of unlimited LTE in Php50 (1 day), Php299 (7 days) and Php995 (30 days) denominations. That’s a really great deal especially since there’s no data cap.

Visit smart.com.ph/bro/lte for more details.


#THREE
I’ve been watching this YouTube show for a while; but Kids React (TheFineBros) got some mainstream media attention because of a recent episode that showed us how some kids could be smarter than most adults when it comes to viewing race and equality.

I love watching this show… as well as its other incarnations: Teens React and Elders React. It’s a simple concept; but it’s entertaining and it makes you think. Highly recommended.

vmars
#FOUR
The movie is finished shooting. A sneak peek has been released. It’s really happening! I am one of the proud backers of this Kickstarter project; and I’m SO EXCITED for the finished product. I’ve been getting a number of updates related to the movie and so far, things are looking pretty good… definitely worth the $50 I shelled out to help make it a reality. The Veronica Mars Movie will be out early 2014. I can’t wait!!

#FIVE
I haven’t had a chance to watch a concert or a theatrical show this year (and it’s already July!). What I’ve been doing a lot of lately is going on staycations. Last Holy Week, we stayed at Manila Hotel. For my sister’s bridal shower, I treated her to an overnight stay at Ace Hotel & Suites. Just last week, I tagged along with my brother’s family and stayed in Sofitel Philippines.

Needless to say, I LOVE the staycation experience. Getting to stay in a luxurious hotel… Not having to clean up after yourself… Best of all, two words: breakfast buffet, which is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s my way of getting some rest and relaxation without leaving the city.

The Veronica Mars Movie Project: Thoughts of A Proud Backer

With less than an hour to go, the Veronica Mars Movie Project has broke all the possible records on Kickstarter: (1) fastest past $1,000,000, (2) fastest past $2,000,000 and (3) most number of backers (now over 90,000 and still counting). As a true marshmallow, I of course backed this project, no questions asked.

I'm a backer!
I’m a backer!

Needless to say, the past month has been really exciting for a fan like me. (Heck, the first few hours when we already hit the $2,000,000 mark was absolutely insane!) Having loved this series from the very beginning and writing about the show a number of times on my old blog, the reality of having a Veronica Mars movie to look forward to is just plain exhilarating. Seeing the numbers continue to rise day by day has been both believable yet unbelievable at the same time. Now that it’s ending, I just want to say a few things.

As a backer, having a hand at making this happen is rewarding in itself. The shirt, DVD, etc are just icing on the cake. I’ve long believed that Veronica Mars fans are some of the most rabid, enthusiastic and awesome people ever. Now, we have solid proof of our numbers and our deep pockets… Pockets that reveal themselves when something like this is at stake… even if the show ended over five years ago. I love you guys!!!

In a few more minutes, the project is about to go off the ground. The screenplay has been written; and cast members are slowly getting on board. I just want to say that I understand the pressure Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and company must be feeling right now… the pressure to deliver the best possible movie that would make all this worth it (for us fans and for them). As far as I’m concerned, though, I have complete faith in their ability to come up with something amazing with the funds that they’ve raised… so no need to worry about little ‘ol me! Just go make that movie!

Anyway, I know this would just be a blip in the radar since I’m not some high profile VM fan… But I want to say THANK YOU:
– to Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring and the rest of the cast: for loving this show and this character so much that you never gave up on it. You continued to fight in bringing her back and thought up ways to make it happen even if very few believed how AWESOME and NUMEROUS the fans are.
to Kickstarter: for being such an awesome site that makes projects like these a reality.
– last but not the least, to all the fans worldwide: for the nonstop support and continued LoVe for all things Veronica Mars. I’m so proud to be one of you. You guys are the BEST EVER!

the IT list #9: “S”

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #9

This edition is sponsored by the letter “S” (an honest coincidence).

#ONE
I absolutely love Suits. I’ve already read and heard about this show a couple of times; but only got around to watching it a few weeks ago. When I started with the pilot, I couldn’t stop. I finished 7 episodes in one night… Yup, slept at 1am.
The show is smart, quick and funny. The characters are likable and the cases are always interesting. The second season has especially stepped it up. The current story arc has raised the stakes; and I’m more involved than ever. I now have another lawyer show to obsess over (the other being The Good Wife).

#TWO
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is the first single off of Taylor Swift’s upcoming album RED. I recently purchased it off of the iTunes Store (where it’s currently at #1).
Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of Taylor Swift since her album Fearless. I like how every song is a story and you know that it comes from somewhere very personal. This one is no exception. The lyrics are to be taken as is; and it’s set to a tune that is really addictive and catchy. I’m really liking it.

#THREE
This game has been around for a while; but I only started playing Snoopy’s Street Fair a few days ago. Someone told me this game is nakakatunganga (leaves you idle for a while); and I would have to agree 100%
The premise is simple; but it’s just a lot of fun to play. I can’t let an hour or two pass by without checking on the progress of my booths and ongoing constructions. You just want to level up and make your money grow. Plus, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang are just so cute!

#FOUR
Sherlock is a show that everyone’s talking about; but I put off watching it until a month ago. With each episode being one and a half hours long, I’ve only finished 5 out of 6. I take my sweet time appreciating each and every episode; because it’s an intelligent show… a bit exhausting at times… but it’s extremely engaging. The show is quick-witted and brilliantly executed. Best of all, it features characters with an amazing chemistry. All credit, of course, goes to Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (as Dr. John Watson).
So far, The Scandal in Belgravia stood out the most. The storytelling is amazing. The mystery is intricately told; and the revelations unfolded quite cleverly. It’s just awesome television.

#FIVE
I can’t stop raving about this cake! This particular strawberry shortcake from Mary Grace is soft, fluffy, moist and not too sweet. Best of all, it doesn’t scrimp on the strawberries. Every bite is simply yummy.

the IT list #7

“the IT list” A series of posts that highlight the various stuff, old or new, that I’ve been doing… reading, watching, eating or simply obsessing over recently. It’s my personal countdown.

the IT list #7

#ONE
I’ve bought my ticket; and I can’t wait to attend Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball, which is presented by Ovation Productions. It will be held at the brand spanking new Mall of Asia Arena on May 21, 2012. I missed her concert the first time she came to Manila; so there’s no way I’m passing up this opportunity to watch her live. I believe it’s going to be epic. I can’t wait!


#TWO
This brilliant app is like Pictionary among friends; and it has provided me with endless entertainment the past few weeks. With such a simple concept, it’s terribly addictive. If you have an Android or Apple device, this is the app you should download now. Connect with Facebook and play with friends! You don’t need to be a brilliant artist to play this, though some sites may make you insecure about your drawing ability. (See: Best of Draw Something) Still, it’s a lot of fun to try to draw as well as guess your friends attempts to draw. It’s another way to connect with people and share something with them without ever having to meet face-to-face.


#THREE
I’ve been wanting to buy this gaming console for a while; and I finally gave in… So far, I’m loving this toy. Kinect allows you to play games that make you move, dance and jump without a need to hold a device in your hand. It’s a lot of fun for the whole family. Games like Kinect Sports, Dance Central and PowerUp Heroes have kept me preoccupied the past Holy Week. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever owned in my life.


#FOUR
You either love it or think it’s “too gay;” but I’m personally loving Smash. I believe it’s an engaging portrayal of what it takes to stage a Broadway musical… from the producer to the director to the writers to the talents. As with any series, there are characters I could do without (Ellis, please!) and I could survive without the personal drama that borders on cliched (adultery, mean girls picking on the new girl, boyfriend drama). What I like is how the musical Marilyn/Bombshell has taken different directions… just like any production in real life. It also doesn’t dwell too much on performing as many songs as possible. And when they do perform a song, original or otherwise, it’s organic to the scene and it’s beautifully done. I’m glued to the show and I hope it only gets better from here.

#FIVE
I’ve known of this site for a while; but it’s only been recently that I got addicted to reading every entry on 9Gag. What can I say? The submissions make me laugh… most of the time. It introduced me to derp and derpina. It made me know about Ridiculously Photogenic Guy before anyone else. Bad Luck Brian, trolling, “Bitch, Please!” and everything in between… They’ve got it. It’s a good source of entertainment when I’m idling by with nothing to do while on the computer.

25 Shows: Lost

Show 14 of 25: LOST
(2004-2010)

it’s about:
A plane crash. A group of survivors. A mysterious island.

Lost is a groundbreaking series that everyone’s been trying to recreate, in the process making a TV god out of creator J.J. Abrams. *bows down in worship*

my earliest history with the show:
Even before it premiered, this show has been getting a lot of attention because of its outstanding pilot. I was on board that very first episode until the “fan polarizing” finale.

why it sticks:
Despite the controversial end to the series, I’m very happy to have watched Lost. I never felt as if I wasted six seasons the way other fans did. This show is and will forever be the standard to which all other series will try and measure up to when it comes to storytelling. To me, this is a brilliant show. Period.

It took a commonly used “tragic” story (plane crash) and ran with it until the show became one of the most complicated series the world of television has ever seen. Most importantly, it did so by executing everything differently. The show played with the concept of time and space. It played with the usual “beginning, middle and end” type of storytelling… jumping from one point in history to another. The number of twists and turns throughout its six-year run is so mind-boggling that people either hated it or thrived in it. I thrived in it… even preferring season-long marathons just so I get caught up quickly and effectively.

The mysteries that piled up made me come back hoping to get some answers; but at its core, it’s the character stories that drew me into the world of Lost. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Locke… Everyone had their own past, present and future. They had struggles, inner conflicts and private demons. It’s these characters and their relationships that made me love the show. They are all flawed human beings; but somehow, you still watch them and want to know that they’ll be okay at the end. The Island and its many secrets served as the backdrop to the personal connections between all the characters and its importance at the end of it all, which is death.

I will never forget this series. Lost is a rare show that might just have started their own category in television — Ultra-serialized (Is that even a valid term?) storytelling driven by countless mysteries and a significant suspension of reality. It’s hard to explain, yet even harder not to be impressed by. Ambitious. Unique. Special.

best memory:
The show definitely turned its head for me by the end of the third season. It took the term “game-changer” and just threw it in our faces. I was stunned when I watched this; because it didn’t make sense. But after a few seconds, I was like “WTF!” This is one of the best moments of television I’ve ever witnessed. *SPOILER ALERT*

And if you’ve watched Lost from beginning to end and still don’t get it, here’s a GREAT explanation.