How Once Upon a Time Surprised Me

Once Upon a Time Promotional Shot of Emma, Henry, Snow White, Prince Charming, Mr. Gold, The Evil Queen and the Huntsman

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I started watching ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but it wasn’t this. I figured it would round out my Hulu queue, keep me entertained, but not be anymore than a 5 in my list of Fall TV shows I’m watching. For most of the first episodes it was true, but then, Jane Espenson joined.

I can’t say it’s entirely Jane’s doing that this show has rocketed up the list of one of my favorite shows to watch this season. I think a major decision to focus on the characters rather than the complex storyline was really what made the show so compelling. After all, the series is telling stories that everyone whose grown up with fairytales knows all too well, but they’re adding in enough twists and turns to keep it surprising and enough illusions to make it delightful.

For the past couple months I’ve been struggling with this idea of complex story lines. I love them myself, some of my favorite TV shows have a large mythos and big, overarching plotlines. Yet, lately it’s seemed that those shows have gone a little too crazy with the complexity. Shows like Lost, Fringe and even Eureka have bogged down telling great stories with great characters in a confusing mess of multiple time lines and alternate histories. If I, as a watcher who loves time travel and science fiction have a hard time keeping up I can only imagine what the casual viewer thinks of such shows. So I think it was in the show’s favor to scale back the complexity and move forward with the compelling characters.

Even with compelling characters, it’s hard to tell compelling stories. As a culture we’ve been hearing stories of these fairytales for hundreds and hundreds of years. So it’s up to the writers of Once Upon a Time to remain true to the stories that people love, but keep up the surprise. While not every episode is stellar the show has managed to keep me engaged and keep me guessing. The latest episodes about Little Red Riding Hood and the Mad Hatter have been pure TV magic. They’re episodes that remind you why you watch TV in the first place, to be surprised, delighted and have your expectations subverted.

So keep it up Once Upon a Time I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Drive with Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch

Anyone with a GPS can tell you that the voice is one of the most important things about setting up your GPS. Customizing that perfect person to tell you where to go is about as important as choosing your ringtone for your cellphone. Now you can have a couple monsters tell you where that next right turn is before you get horribly lost.

Locutio has partnered with Sesame Workshop to bring Cookie Monster to Garmin GPS systems worldwide. You can see the voice in action in the video below:

Here’s just some of the phrases from Cookie Monster:

  • “There’s traffic ahead, recalculating. Oh boy, me wish me hadn’t eaten calculator.”
  • “Yeah, yeah, in one quarter of mile, turn left, dumb di dumb dumb dumb…”
  • “You have reached destination. And now…COOOOOOKIES!, nom nom nom. ::BURP:: Excuse me, that me.”

Cookie Monster is now available for $12.99 at and

Not bad for having a muppet take a drive with you. We’re pretty sure it’ll keep your kids entertained at least.

If Cookie Monster isn’t your thing (who are you?) then you can wait a bit until the release of Oscar the Grouch who’ll charmingly say things like:

  • “Unless you WANT to get lost, in one mile, turn left. Not that I care what you do.”
  • “Traffic ahead, recalculating. Even though I love traffic, it makes everyone so grouchy.”
  • “You have reached your destination. No need to thank me, I can’t stand good manners.”

Or buy them both and switch them depending your mood!

QuadZ Has Seen the Return of Spartacus – And it Was Good

It’s been two years since Spartacus: Blood and Sand left it’s indelible mark on cable television. The smartly written, blood and gore soaked series titillated audiences in a way probably not seen since the Roman times the series is set in. This adults-only drama is part comic-book gore and part-backstabbing-thriller/drama. But it’s been two long years for fans to see what happens to Spartacus next. Sure, we had the very amazing and tantelizing prequel, Gods of the Arena, but after the Blood and Sand blood-bath finale, it’s time to find out what happens next.

Lisa and I were invited to the red carpet screening of the first episode of Spartacus: Vengeance and mixed and mingled with fans and Hollywood alumns who all craved a little of the arena blood.

Of course, most fans know why the long wait. Lead, Andy Whitfield, whose performance as Spartacus was as legendary as the man himself, sadly was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and later succumb to the disease.  Robert Tapert, one of the Executive Producers, explained before the screening that Andy made sure that the cast and crew knew how much he wanted the series to go on once he realized he could not perform. The touching part of the screening was the final part of the episode contains a tribute to Andy, which, I’ll admit, made me a bit teary eyed.

Liam McIntyre at Premire of Spartacus: Vengeance 1/18/12 Photo credit: / WENN

The event, held at the Archlight Theater on Sunset, was a lot of fun. Costumes from the series and props were on display and free popcorn/soda provided for guests. The red carpet was full of fans and photographers waiting to catch a glimpse of the stars (who film in New Zeland, so it was fun to see them in LA). Including our new Spartacus, Liam McIntyre.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of Andy as Spartacus. After all, he was the actor portraying the character that I held my breath for, that I cheered for, that I wanted to see get his vengeance. But, as we watched the first episode, my fears were quickly dispersed. Liam brings the quiet rage that we had come to love from Spartacus.

I won’t spoil the episode, you can watch it for yourself on Jan 27th on Starz, but I will say that Spartacus is back with all of it’s bloody glory. There were quite a few surprises and some very “ewwwww” turn your head moments. I have to give props to the writers making the story fit seamlessly with the first series. It’s like we never left.

If you need to catch up before the new series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand is available on Netflix Instant currently. Just remember it is as violent as ancient Rome was, with strong language and nudity.

People’s Choice Awards!

The People’s Choice Awards are up for voting, the one award show where you have a part to play in who gets the win. This is a great chance for shows that never get the recognition we viewers feel they deserve. Head on over to: and vote for your favorite stars, music and TV shows!

For my money, here’s some of my picks and why:

Favorite Movie

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Very rarely do I say this, but this movie was better than the originals. Very funny, lots of Johnny Depp, an interesting plot line and amazing visuals. “I had stirrings,” for this movie.
Favorite Book Adaptaion
  • Soul Surfer – Had to go with the underdog on this one. Soul Surfer was a great showing by a small film company.

Favorite Network TV Drama

  • Supernatural  – Despite a lot of fan wank over this season, I think it’s been fantastic. Did you see the Fall finale? Had me on the edge of my seat at the end and screaming at the TV. Supernatural pulls off with a small cast what most TV series can only dream of – it has warmth, heart, and monsters. What more could we want? Jared and Jensen deserve massive amounts of praise for delivering stellar performances every week. The amount of emotion and angst the two can portray in a couple simple looks is amazing. So my votes for SPN all the way.
Favorite Cable TV Drama
  • Pretty Little Liars – Over the past years the quality of Cable TV shows has gone up considerably, so this is a rough call for me, but while some of the other TV shows in this category have been dropping in quality and interest, Pretty Little Liars only gets better. Sure, it’s a bit teenagey drama, but that’s what people tune in to see. Great cast, creepy moments and great production makes this a win for this category.
Favorite Network TV Comedy
  • The Big Bang Theory – Need I explain this one? Not only is it the geeky contender, but every episode is so tightly written that I am constantly fascinated by how true the episodes stay to the story. The creators once said they only wanted to tell stories that could only be told on the Big Bang Theory, and they’ve stayed true to that wish. The expanded cast these past two seasons have made the show more balanced, more fun and a must watch every week. Slam dunk win for TBBT.
Favorite TV Crime Drama
  • Castle. Though I watch several of these shows, Castle is the only one that keeps getting better and better. The great story lines with the characters make it more than just your average procedural. And, they do all that without having to get the drama of whose sleeping with whom (*cough Bones cough*), whose in charge (*cough CSI cough*) or how can we outgross ourselves this week (cough Criminal Minds cough).
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show
  • Fringe – Fringe is one of the shows that I often berate people for not watching. It’s smart, it’s sassy, and has one of the best actors on TV on it (John Noble who plays Walter). Fringe is a bit mind bending, but isn’t that what SciFi is all about?
Favorite Guest Star
  • Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife) – I have to go with the nostalga vote here (and I don’t even watch the show), but seeing MJ back on TV was awesome. He was my first celebrity crush, so I have to give the vote to him.
Favorite New TV Drama
  • Person of Interest – I was skeptical, I admit. The premise seemed a bit hard to believe, but Person of Interest is extremely interesting. And major kudos for the recent guest apperance of Enrico Colantoni. Now if they could only get Kristen Bell. Close runner up is Ringer, despite some of the cheeseballness. There’s a lot of great choices in this category so vote Chicago style, early and often!
Favorite New TV Comedy
  • 2 Broke Girls – In today’s economy you need a laugh, and 2 Broke Girls is it. I was already a huge fan of Kat Dennings, and her role in Thor sold me entirely. If you haven’t yet caught this show, go watch, laugh and love.
Vote  in the People’s Choice Awards, it’s one small way you can give back to the shows, movies and music you love. And it’s a lot of fun!
I have been hired by Warner Bros. WBWord division to promote WBTV shows nominated in the People’s Choice Awards. I was able to pick the shows I discussed and the opinions are my own.


Guest Post: Thinking outside the (conventional) candy box this Halloween

Halloween is supposed to be nothing but fun for kids.

Yet there are some scary statistics out there right now about our children.

For one, this is the first generation of American children whose life expectancy is now shorter than their parents.

And for another, if the current trend continues, one in every three children will develop diabetes in her lifetime.

“But Halloween is only one holiday. Why can’t we let kids eat all the candy they want?” some might ask.

If candy were only doled out by the handful once a year, it might be all right. (Even then, some parents would prefer moderation and still, we would face the issues of the unhealthy chemicals in the candy.)

But the fact is that many of our holidays have turned into sweetfests-Valentine’s Day and Easter, for example, to say nothing of kids’ birthday parties and other celebrations throughout the year. Add to this the candy children receive if they accompany you to the bank (even the doctor!), the dry cleaners or pet store. Some teachers even hand out candy as a reward for good behavior.

So it’s not about once a year. It’s about recognizing the impact of our national sweet tooth (and our reliance on artificially derived and modified ingredients), and how we can help our children to enjoy healthy and safe alternatives, even when celebrating.

What to give instead?

If you don’t want to hand out conventional candy this year, what can you substitute? Lots of things.

You can choose from an assortment of organic candies, and/or those made without dyes and preservatives, and that use juice or fruit for sweetening.

Or consider honey sticks, a favorite among kids of all ages. (But do not give honey to children under the age of two.)

If you’d prefer to skip the candy altogether but still want to offer food-how about real fruit strips and rolls, dried organic fruit, whole food bars, raw or toasted nuts (check with parents of young children due to allergy concerns), natural gum, organic crispy rice bars, or pumpkin and other seeds. (For a longer list with specific brands, check out

Treasures instead of treats?

Another alternative is to substitute “treasures” for treats.

Think about it this way. When you empty your kids’ pockets before doing the laundry, what do you find? These are things your children think of as precious even if you do not-bits of shiny paper, rock crystals, acorns, for example.

So when it comes to treasures, don’t dismiss them just because you think kids will turn up their noses. Ask them! You might be surprised that they would be happy to receive stickers, friendship bracelets, coins (who doesn’t love money?), polished rocks, sea shells, cookie cutters, or other small items. (Lots more treasure ideas at Green Halloween.)

Enter the bowl

To ensure you offer something children will like, fill a bowl with a variety of treats and treasures, then invite children to take their pick. You will no doubt be surprised at their choices.

At a Halloween event a couple of years ago, we placed a bowl filled with feathers on a table in our booth. Adults passed by without a second glance. But as kids approached, their eyes grew wide and they asked, “Can I have one?” So many wanted a feather that we ran out in an hour. They blew them into the air, they tried to tickle themselves (or their siblings), or lightly brushed the feathers against their cheeks. Boys, girls, teens and tweens all had the same reaction.

Who would think that today’s children who seem to be entertained only when they are plugged in, could enjoy something as simple as a feather?

So this Halloween, offer lots of choices, allow children to pick their favorite instead of taking a handful (which, no matter what is chosen, is not only better for kids’ health, but also should cut down on your purchase costs) and feel great about providing the children who come to your door with a healthier Halloween.

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

Halloween and The Big Bang Theory… What Does Your Costume Say About You?

It’s been fun to be able to rewatch The Big Bang Theory 5 nights a week. Rewatching “The Middle Earth Paradigm” from season 1 really reminded me of how well-developed the characters were from the first season. In the episode the boys get dressed for a costume party at Penny’s. Leonard goes as Frodo, Howard as Robin Hood (but he keeps getting mistaken for Peter Pan), Raj as Thor, and Sheldon as “the doppler effect.” Penny? She just goes as a cat.
It’s funny how revealing the costumes are. Leonard at this point of the show is on a never ending quest, only instead of a ring, he’s questing for Penny’s affection. Also, as a hobbit, he plays off his own height issues (especially later when confronting Penny’s ex-boyfriend who is way taller than him).

Sheldon’s famous quote about his costume is, “I don’t care if people get it, I’m going as the doppler effect.” True to his own character who most people don’t really get, but Sheldon doesn’t care.

Howard, who believes himself to be a suave, charming ladies man goes as Robin Hood, but much like real life he’s often mistaken for Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up. Especially since Howard still lives at home and has a disturbing relationship with his mother.

Raj, who is incapable of speaking around women, dresses as Thor, the loudest of the Norse gods. Which may be Raj’s aspirations, but comes far from the truth.

Since it’s nearly Halloween it really got me thinking about Halloween and what costume people choose. What do you think, what does your costume say about you?

Keep watching The Big Bang Theory 5 Nights a Week! Check: for your local listings.


I have been hired by Warner Bros. WBWord division to promote The Big Bang Theory in Syndication.

Girl Friends in The Big Bang Theory


In Season 4 of The Big Bang Theory Penny, the lone female lead in a cast of four males, finally got some girl friends. Now, I love The Bang Theory, but these two new girls (Bernadette and Amy) added some much needed balance to the cast (and some female nerds, which was awesome).

There’s something refreshing about the larger cast, mainly because it adds more maturity to the show (in a way) because Penny, Bernadette, and Amy can discuss relationships, work, friendship in a way that the male characters can’t. Of course, the relationship was necessary because of Leonard’s new relationship with Raj’s sister (Priya) caused Penny not to hang out in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. Poor lonely Penny needed friends of her own (and more excuses to film in Penny’s apartment) and she got them.

Deep friendships with the opposite gender are explored a lot on The Big Bang Theory and I’m happy that the girls and boys have their own time to discuss things together that may be awkward or impossible to discuss with a mix gender group. Plus, it’s led to some great situational humor as Amy tries to have the female friendships she should have had growing up.

Relive all of the fun girl friend moments with The Big Bang Theory Season 4 on DVD/Blu-Ray.


I have been hired by Warner Bros. WBWord division to promote The Big Bang Theory Season 4 on DVD.


ION Television Picks up Flashpoint

[Press Release] ION Television premieres its newly acquired hit police drama “Flashpoint” on Tuesday, October 18 at 10pm ET/PT with new original episodes. ION Television, the new home for the award-winning series, will schedule “Flashpoint” in a two-hour block on Tuesdays from 10pm-12am ET/PT and again on Saturdays from 9-11pm ET/PT.

To support the series launch, ION Television will unveil an integrated marketing campaign, including television, print, out-of-home & digital advertising. As part of the campaign for the first-time ever, ION will feature a Quick Response code on all printed marketing elements, which will provide fans access to exclusive cast interviews, a never-before-seen sneak peek from the premiere episode and entry into the ‘Flashpoint Alert’ contest, starting September 26th. The online contest provides fans a chance to win weekly cash prizes by scheduling the premiere episode onto their digital calendars and their social media platforms.

ION Television, a top-10 network, acquired the rights to all existing episodes and future production of “Flashpoint” from CBS Television Distribution earlier this year. The production of the season’s upcoming episodes marked ION Television’s first venture into originals planned by the network in the coming year.

“Flashpoint” joins ION Television’s primetime line-up of hit off-network series such as “Psych,” Monk,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Without a Trace,” and its blockbuster theatricals, which have driven record ratings for the network. The new series joins the schedule on the heels of ION’s recent acquisition of the hit series “Leverage” and “House,” both set to launch on ION in 2012.

Starring Hugh Dillon (Durham County), Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars), Amy Jo Johnson (Felicity) and David Paetkau (Whistler), “Flashpoint” is the nail-biting cop drama and an emotional journey into the tough, risk-filled lives of a group of police in the Strategic Response Unit (inspired by Toronto’s Emergency Task Force). Members of a highly-skilled tactical team, they are trained in negotiating, profiling and getting inside the subject’s head to understand the emotional breaking point (the “flashpoint”) that triggered the crisis.

“Flashpoint” is produced by Pink Sky Entertainment and Avamar Entertainment in association with CTV and CBS. Executive producers are Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos. Creators are Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern. David Frazee is Series Consultant.

25 Things You May Not Know About Anderson Cooper (US Weekly)

Anderson Cooper has a new talk show so he sat down with US Weekly to discuss 25 things you may not know about him. Read more about Anderson over at US Weekly. Find out about his new talk show at

1. I started going gray in college.

2. I wish I still had brown hair.

3. I love my Real Housewives of Atlanta and Beverly Hills. Miami, not so much.

4. I met Charlie Chaplin when I was 6. I have a photo, but no actual memory of it.

5. I am very disorganized.

6. Shopping for clothes makes my head hurt.

7. I work out nearly every day. Yes, I know how annoying that sounds.

8. I love fast food.

9. I need to eat better.

10. I collected toy soldiers when I was young.

11. I became a reporter by going to wars by myself with a camera and a fake press pass.

12. I’ve been addicted to TV since I was little.

13. I was a Dungeons & Dragons geek when I was young. I spent a lot of time indoors.

14. I can fall asleep anywhere at any time.

15. I was a child model. Embarrassing!

16. I don’t drink any hot liquids. No tea, no coffee.

17. Oddly, my favorite ice cream flavor is coffee.

18. I don’t like to wear sunglasses, no matter how bright out it is.

19. I struggled with dyslexia as a child.

20. Chocolate chip cookies make me happy.

21. I can’t sing, and won’t try.

22. I like to dance, but never on TV.

23. I’ve bitten my nails for as long as I can remember.

24. I am a dog person and have a dog named Molly, but I’ve recently discovered cats are OK too.

25. I like to assume the best about people, until I am proven wrong.

The Big Bang Theory and Co-Workers (and lasers)

This past season of the Big Bang Theory we saw a lot more of the boys at work at CalTech. Their office life is something that I envy! Imagine being surrounded by cool lasers and a cafeteria that lets you take as many napkins as you want. My last office job was full of geeks much like CalTech, but it seemed to have a higher ratio of females than CalTech.

One of the things I love about the Big Bang Theory is a lot of the relationships between the characters are centered around hanging out and eating. It’s no different at their work where a lot of pivotal discussions and introduction of new character/plots happen in the cafeteria. A lot of my co-worker bonding time has been around food as well (shared lunches, free lunch Friday, etc). There’s something universal about sharing a meal together.

Of course, I’ve never spent overnight sleeping at my office like Sheldon did when he refused to learn how to drive. But in a lot of other ways my office experiences were similar to the ones you see on The Big Bang Theory… except for the laser part.

How about you? Do you and your co-workers bond over lunch? Do you get to work with lasers (okay, I’m super jealous of the laser bit, I admit)?

Buy The Big Bang Theory Season 4 on DVD/BluRay!

I have been hired by Warner Bros. WBWord division to promote The Big Bang Theory Season 4 on DVD.