Fall TV and The Top 5 New Shows I’m Excited For

It’s my absolute favorite time of the year. September brings the beginning of the Fall season! Sweaters, boots, scarves, and coats line the shelves in the stores. Starbucks brings out their Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Pinterest is filled with pumpkin recipes and the many colors of fall. But my favorite thing that September brings is the return of our favorite TV shows and some exciting new ones!

I am a self admitted TV junkie. September through November is booked weekly with what I will be tuning in and DVR-ing to watch. For me, it begins in May with the networks releasing their fall schedules. I begin sifting through them eager to read the premise for the new shows to come and find where my old shows are being placed in the week. Then July comes around and Comic Con comes to town! With the convention transforming into a pop-culture hub, the networks find an audience to test pilots of the anticipated shows and share some details (and sometimes clips) of the new seasons as well. As an annual Comic Con attendee, I make an effort to sit in on the panels I am most excited for and find the details of the one’s I missed live on the internet throughout the week. Then the anticipation climbs as I wait for the longest 2 months to get reacquainted with old familiar characters and meet some new ones and decide if they are worthy of my time.

So as the years progressed and the networks have become more frivolous with their cancellations, I have been more selective of the shows I get excited and root for. In no particular order, here are the top 5 new shows I am looking forward to seeing this season:

1. Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
Premieres: Monday, September 16 @ 9pm
This one may be personal for me as I have loved the Legend of Sleepy Hollow ever since I was a kid! At its core, Sleepy Hollow is based on a story that has been giving adults and children nightmares for centuries, but this version takes it into new and exciting directions not seen in previous incarnations.  Tom Mison stars as Ichabod Crane in this modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s classic short story. Frozen in time for 250 years, Crane awakes to partner up with Sleepy Hollow’s sheriff Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) to solve the mysteries of a town ravaged by evil forces, including Death, aka the Headless Horseman, who’s also one of the four horseman of the apocalypse! A brilliant spin weaving American History, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the Book of Revelation from the bible, this show looks to reinvent the supernatural genre that has become tiresome as of late.

2. The Blacklist (NBC)
Premieres: Monday, September 23 @ 10pm
NBC’s intriguing new crime drama sounds like a familiar Silence of the Lambs plot, but added twists and less violent killings will probably secure a larger audience to follow along. James Spader returns to TV as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a top fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. He strikes a deal with the FBI: He will help them take down super-criminals on a blacklist who have thus far evaded capture, but he has a list of his own demands and one of them is he will only work with rookie agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The show reads like a psychological thriller more than your average crime dramas currently on tv, but it’s the intelligence behind James Spader‘s character that has me intrigued and will probably keep me guessing.

3. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Premieres: Tuesday, September 24 @ 8pm
Not going to lie, Avengers may have been the best movie I saw last year. So I may be a little biased with this choice, but who doesn’t love some seriously entertaining Super Hero stories? Then you add the talented Joss Whedon to the mix and the action and comedy grounds this new show which I assume will be a huge hit. Clark Gregg reprises his Avengers role as Agent Phil Coulson, who assembles a team of top-secret agents to handle strange new cases. Set in a world of Super Heroes and aliens, the show will center on the very human agents who speak to the human condition and prepare to tackle the unknown and yet to be classified cases. The only way this show will not do well is if the stories are not thought through to meet an overall arc of a season and the action comes off too campy. I know I will give it a try.

4. American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
Premieres: Wednesday, October 9 @ 10pm
Ok, so this technically isn’t a new show, but with the anthology series the story is new each season, so I get a break on including it as a “new show”. This season is set in the iconic New Orleans in both modern day and the 1830’s and will tell the secret history of witches and witchcraft. With attacks beginning to escalate on witches in modern day, protection will be taught to the young girls who attend a secret school with the Supreme Fiona played by Jessica Lange and her daughter Cordelia played by Sarah Paulson. The 1830’s New Orleans will involve a war between some historical New Orleans figures (Particularly the Voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau and the notorious  slave serial killer, Madame LaLaurie). With cinematic powerhouses Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange, and Kathy Bates playing the 3 lead witches, what isn’t there to be excited about?

5. Dracula (NBC)
Premieres: Friday, October 25 @ 10pm
This one has a well known (Not to mention GORGEOUS) star in the lead. A re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the horror thriller stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as America’s Original Vampire who comes to London posing as American entrepreneur, Alexander Grayson, who wants to introduce Victorian society to clean energy. Dracula’s real intentions are to seek revenge on the secret society who cursed him, the Order of the Dragon. Along the way, he falls in love with Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw), who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. I know what you’re thinking… The vampire trend is so old and tiring! But remember, this is the original story that introduced us to the hypnotic world of vampires. As an added twist, Van Helsing is assisting our vampire in his revenge against the Order of the Dragon. I do not expect this show to go far with a Friday death slot and the age of anti-vampire voices, but it should be a fun story to watch. Especially with it premiering the weekend before Halloween. Give it a chance, but don’t go into it with high expectations.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

servings: 12  

 calories: 350

 prep time: 25 minutes 
 
Cupcake ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
frosting ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

preparation instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix in vanilla until creamy.
  6. With mixer set on low speed, add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients in three separate batches alternating with 1/2 of the milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour and mixing just until combined after each addition.
  7. Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each two thirds full.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. For the frosting, whip butter on medium speed with electric mixer.
  11. Blend in vanilla extract, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  12. Once all ingredients are well blended, slowly add in the whipping cream to the mixture.
  13. Let sit for a few minutes and frost cupcakes.

Top 10 Teen Movie Adaptations of Classic Novels

My recent review of Easy A made me reminisce on modern teen movies that put a spin on classic novels. There is always something delightful about a teen movie based on classic literature. Maybe it’s my love of books as a literature major enveloped in my obsession with film that makes me a sucker for these, but what I really admire is the screen writers adaptation of a classic story with the tropes of comedic farce, romance, and awkward situational irony and hyperbole. Yes, these stories relate to the everyday high school drama, so why not easily disguise them in modern day high school with some up-and-coming cute actors/actresses and make some money too.

Now, I’m not saying these are as good as their predecessor. You just can’t be too serious when it comes to these movies. Just sit back, relax, and use them as an excuse to much on snacks and popcorn on a Friday night. (Don’t try to pretend you’re too cool or too social to stay in on a Friday night. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to say no to the comfort of the couch after the work week!)

So over the years, there have been many of these subtler sub-genre teen movies created and found success with a younger audience, but I’d like to argue that they can be enjoyed by adults who have previous exposure to the material too! So here are my top 10 teen films that you may not know were based on classic novels:

1. Clueless (1995)

Any girl from the mid 90’s understands that Clueless is one of the most popular teen movies of all time! But what is less likely known is the elite matchmaker plot was taken from the most popular Jane Austin novel, EmmaAlicia Silverstone breaks out as the modern day “Emma”, Cher.  This teen romantic tale follows the rich and spoiled Cher and her friends as she meddles in other people’s love lives (most of the time unsuccessfully). Not only is it a staple teen movie, but it effortlessly adapts Austen’s Emma to Beverly Hills in the 90’s without succumbing to becoming contrived.

2. She’s All That (1999)

Although it isn’t a direct adaptation of Pygmalion, or the more well known version My Fair Lady, She’s All That is a modern take on the transformation of a socially awkward girl to the popular esteemed lady. In this case, the story is set in high school where a bet takes place that Freddie Prinze Jr. must try to transform an artistic but awkward Rachael Leigh Cook prom queen. While the transformation story is a huge portion of the teen movie genre, many fail to redeem their lead characters intentions and virtues. One thing that I admire in She’s All That is that Cook’s character Laney continues to stay true to herself, but the mild physical transformation only helps to accentuate and bring out the self confidence she lacked. Unlike most teen movies, She’s All That gives a positive message to teenage girls about popularity and self esteem.

3. Cruel Intentions (1999)
 photo Cruel-Intentions.jpg
From positive messages, we do a complete 180 with the classic french novel adaption of Dangerous Liaisons. As with most teen movies, Cruel Intentions begins with a bet. But this dark and manipulative movie centers between wealthy and bored teenage step siblings who find amusement in  wagering a girl’s virginity for sex and a car. Cruel intentions isn’t your average “teen movie” but it’s found itself on my list because of it’s interesting adaption of the corruption, seduction, and revenge of Dangerous Liaisons into the high school environment. With a brilliant cast of dynamic characters (the redeemable bad boy Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar‘s twisted step sister, and the good girl next door Reese Witherspoon) and their tragic  adult performance, this sordid teen movie make the perils and drama of high school much more palatable. And this was the film that brought Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon together (although they have since split), so you get some real emotion from the two in their loving performance. You’ll be wanting someone to wait at the top of the escalator for you too, I promise.

4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This heartwarming movie might be my favorite adaptation. It introduced the teen female population to an almost unrecognizable dark-haired Heath Ledger and made him a star in the U.S.  With Julia Stiles playing the prude older sister of Bianca and a young Joseph Gordon Levitt as a nerdy but cute Cameron. Adapted from one of my least favorite Shakespeare novels The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You gives a fresh and funny perspective on dating in high school. The movie centers on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character Cameron who is desperate to date the popular Bianca, but she’s not allowed to date by her strict father until her older, abrasive sister, Kat, starts dating. So Cameron then hires Heath Ledger’s bad boy character to woo her. Filled with witty repartee and powerful women, this teen adaptation is a must see!

5. Whatever It Takes (2000)

I know what you are thinking. Is that a young James Franco? Why yes, it is. A more contrived and campy teen film on the list, Whatever It Takes is a high school adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. This movie made me want a balcony in my room so bad, but I also needed a hunky neighbor like Shane West to go with it please. This teen comedy involves a deal between Shane West‘s Nerdy Ryan (Please. I wish real nerds were this smoldering) and James Frano‘s popular jock Chris (Yes, before Franco became a hipster, he was typecast as a popular jock) to help one another woo their friend/cousin based on their knowledge and experience of what the girls like. (Are you laughing yet? Doesn’t this movie ALREADY sound funny?!?) So unlike Cyrano de Bergerac, this adaptation involves TWO men trying to con women into liking them by “saying the right things”. Of course, nothing goes right in this “flawless plan” and ultimately Ryan begins to realize he may actually like his best friend and neighbor all along in helping Chris get close to her. This movie has cheesy written all over it, but I PROMISE there are a few moments worthy of watching.

6. Get Over It (2001)

Like many teen comedy’s, Get Over It centers it’s story around the basis of it’s adaption with a High School Play of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Get Over It uses the core love triangle from Midsummer, but that’s as far as the adaptation goes. The talented ensemble includes Kirsten Dunst, Colin Hanks, Martin Short, and my personal teen heartthrob Shane West. The movie also brings a wonderful campy musical adaption of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life while exploring the perils of our teenage lovers. If you love campy/silly comedy and musical numbers, then you will enjoy it as much as I do. And honestly, I enjoy Get Over It far more than I should.

7. O (2001)

Not all teen adaptations live up to their novel counterparts. While O is a good movie, Shakespeare’s Othello can not be outdone. In O, the story of Jealousy that leads to tragedy is told through a high school basketball star and the coach’s jealous son. Rated R, this is the darkest teen movie on the list, but Othello isn’t a lighthearted read. Filled with drugs, sex, corruption, and violence, O offers some pretty heavy acting skills from Makhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett. With the current light on non-violence campaigns, this movie helps to resonate that message to teens.

8. She’s The Man (2006)

Oh the days when Amanda Bynes was quirky and comical and it wasn’t her personal life! Quite possibly THE campiest of movies on this list, She’s The Man is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The gender-bending comedy stars Amanda Bynes as Viola, a high school girl who wants so badly to play soccer that she poses as her twin brother to play at his school when the girls’ soccer program is cut from her own.  Hilarity ensues as Viola must learn how to fake being a “dude” and begins falling for her teammate Duke (Channing Tatum). Filled with romantic shenanigans and introducing Channing Tatum to the female populace, She’s The Man is a light, enjoyable comedy that also playfully addresses gender politics.

9. Easy A (2010)

Ironically, while studying The Scarlett Letter, Emma Stone‘s witty character Olive mistakenly becomes the publicly shamed Hester Prynne of her high school in Easy A. This movie is winning with it’s numerous John Hughes and pop culture references. It doesn’t try to be too serious as many failed teen movies try desperately to do. I have nothing but glowing things to say when it comes to Emma Stone, and this role was made for her. Also starring Amanda Bynes as the strictly religious Marianne Bryant, Penn Badgley as the dorky love interest Todd and least we forget Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s quirky loving parents. This movie is a great comedy and a great teen adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter. For more about this film, refer to my movie review in my post “EASY A”.

10. Warm Bodies (2013)

The latest adaptation of a classic novel is riding on the coat tails of the recent zombie trend. Warm Bodies is a romantic zombie comedy that brings together our star crossed lovers. R is a zombie who doesn’t remember his name other than it starts with an “R” and Julie is a post-apocalyptic survivor. Although it sounds cheesy, Warm Bodies is a surprisingly clever movie. This Romeo and Juliet adaptation begins with death, instead of ending with a tragedy. Instead of waring houses, we have the zombies and then there are the humans who of course want to kill the zombies. With witty narration and strong performances, it’s no wonder Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer will be breakout stars.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

servings: 5

 calories: 309

 prep time: 20 minutes 
 
ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 whole carrot, Shredded
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/8 cups cashews, crushed
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained (8 oz)
  • 3 Tablespoons green onion
  • 1 large head of  iceberg lettuce, leafed
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

preparation instructions:

  1. Bring 1 tablespoon of oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
  2. Add chicken and cook 8-10 minutes or until browned.
  3. Set chicken aside.
  4. Mince water chestnuts, green onion, and mushrooms.
  5. Mince cooled chicken and add shredded carrots.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok or pan.
  7. Add chicken, carrots, water chestnuts, green onion, and mushrooms to the wok or pan.
  8. Add onion powder and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato sauce and  cook to reduce volume for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Return chicken to pot and add chicken stock and soy sauce.
  11. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  12. Add soy sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, brown sugar, and Worcestershire to the pan.
  13. Add pepper to the mixture.
  14. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  15. Serve with lettuce “cups”.

suggested side dishes:

  • Rice
  • Egg rolls

Easy A

 photo easy.jpg
 photo 4-stars.png

Year: 2010
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 92 mins

Yes, my first review is on a teen movie that is 3 years old. (Judge if you want). So this weekend I had some free time and happened upon Easy A while channel surfing. I struck gold! Not your typical teen comedy filled with the usual campy high school tropes, Easy A is a hilarious and smart film even for adults. Filled with gut-busting quirky humor, endearing characters, brilliant quotable dialog, and (my personal favorite) loads of pop-culture references.

A modern adaptaion of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, Easy A centers on Olive Penderghast played by the adorable Emma Stone. Olive is a smart, funny, and virginal high school girl who lies about having sex in an effort to get her persistent friend off her back. Unfortunately for her, the conversation is overheard and the rumor spreads like wildfire across the school solidifying her reputation as “easy”. She is soon approached by outcast boys at school asking her to “enhance their reputations”. Feeling obligated, she agrees to help then in exchange for money, coupons, and gift cards. Olive gets labeled a slut and decides to embrace it by dressing provocatively and sewing an ‘A’ on to her clothing in a nod to ‘The Scarlet Letter’. Thing escalate when the stories get out of hand and begins to get treated like a real prostitute. Olive eventually loses friendships and realizes she needs to set the record straight.

Easy A is loaded with acting talent. Emma Stone brings sass and intellectual wit with every one liner while staying charming and warm. Amanda Bynes (Pre driveway hobo bonfire and disturbing wig-wearing crazy episodes) plays Olive’s nemesis Marianne, a preachy crusading Christian, without being too cliche and sterotypical. (And really it’s quite funny and ironic to watch given her recent behavior.) Penn Badgley plays the John Hughes-esq love interest Todd. He isnt the jock, but the school mascot who is a slightly goofy and respectful heartthrob who is for once an approachable/realistic match for our female lead. I think the best performance of the bunch goes to Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson who play Olive’s well-meaning laid-back parents. They bring some priceless scenes and unconventional parenting to the film. Still, unlike many high school movies, her parents are fun and quirky all while still maintaining a parental support system and not being completely oblivious to their daughters obvious issues.

This movie is way above average for the lowly high school comedy genre. I definitely think if you are turned off by this film because it’s PG-13 and set in a high school, you are being WAY too picky. A comedy is suppose to be fun, right? It’s an added bonus when the comedy delivers something smart and original in addition. I highly recommend Easy A for a good laugh! It will be a great addition to my movie collection.

Oatmeal Scotchies

servings: 24  

 calories: 254

 prep time: 10 minutes 
 
ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 cups old fashioned quaker oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package butterscotch morsels (11 oz.)

preparation instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine, all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients along with oats and butterscotch morsels.
  5. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes to harden.
  6. Add foil or parchment paper to a cookie sheet.
  7. Scoop cookie dough  into tablespoon sized balls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes.
  9. Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Let There Be Movie Reviews!

I am a HUGE movie buff. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s a person who is not only knowledgeable about movies, but someone who enjoys regularly watching, analyzing, and discussing films.

Over the years, I have established a fairly decent movie collection that I am proud of. I can’t choose a favorite genre or movie because I find a favorite (or few favorites) for all! As a movie buff I can, for the most part, sit through ANYTHING and find something about it entertaining. I can watch anything at least once, but the matter of watching it again or even purchasing a movie is held at a higher standard for me.

I almost always decide for myself and not listen to the critics perspective of a movie because I tend to recognize art forms that are used in movies. Even the worst movies can have strengths whether it’s the direction, performance, or visual effects. It’s impossible not to have a bias. It’s in our human nature and is defined by who you are, but I like to think that I am impartial when it comes to movies. I just have a higher tolerance and a greater love of film without being too judgmental.

Now that I have proven I’m an accredited source and introduced you to my love of film, I can move on to actually sharing some reviews of movies. I promise, I won’t get preachy or judge anyone based on a film. We all have opinions. I’m just sharing mine publicly.

Enjoy!

Salmon Croquettes

servings: 4 

calories: 420  

prep time: 30 minutes 
 
ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

preparation instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down.
  3. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked.
  5. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  6. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.
  7. Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, and bell peppers in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Cool to room temperature.
  9. Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl.
  10. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well.
  11. Add the breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, parsley, black pepper, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and Old Bay seasoning. Mix well.
  12. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  13. Form into nicely round patties.
  14. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  15. Fry the croquettes for about 4 minutes per side, until browned.

suggested side dishes:

  • Side Salad
  • Wild Rice
  • Home Fries