Tag Archives: ABC

Morena Baccarin in V (Pilot Review)

Morena Baccarin as Anna in V

No garish red and black for me

Tonight the much-anticipated series V (Visitors) aired on ABC. This is a remake of the 1983 series about alien visitors to then-current-day Earth which I remember with a mix of excitement, disgust and fear as a child. The Pilot started off with the Visitors causing panic and mini-earthquakes. Spaceships hover over major cities blocking the sun and causing mass houseplant extinction. Just kidding.

People begin to calm down when Anna, played by Morena Baccarin, shows up and says everything is fine. Anna is the alien leader. Her story is that the Visitors need water and minerals abundant on Earth and will in exchange provide technology and universal healthcare. They even have a motto: “We are of peace, always.” Plus, every Visitor is humanoid and very attractive. As we all know, pretty people tend to be more successful at providing a good first impression (their shuttle craft, on the other hand, are butt-ugly).

Anna selects a reporter for a one-on-one interview based on the perception that said reporter will ask softball questions; in fact, she demands it with a beautiful yet evil smile. But hey, she’ll provide universal health care so who cares? Sign me up to become a “Peace Ambassador”- humans who learn about the aliens and pass along their awesomeness.

Morena’s acting was excellent. She does emotionless and calculating very well, like she did for the Stargate SG-1 series. It is refreshing to see a strong female leader, and this blogger is doubly happy to see a Latina in the role.

As a Pilot, my opinion is that it could have been better. ABC should have broadcast two hours to really get people interested. As it was, most people already knew the show’s premise from the 80’s series, and needed more to get them hooked. The timeline seemed rushed, with people deciding all too quickly to accept the Alien visitors, even visiting their ship (which is beautiful, by the way). Even being allowed to visit the ship so soon by the authorities  was ludicrous.  I saw very little military presence beside a fighter pilot and I found this highly illogical.  There seem to be very few people surrounding such a historical event, and there wasn’t a real sense of awe produced by extraterrestrials coming to Earth you get from films like District 9 and Independence Day. Perhaps the humanoid aspect of the aliens had much to do with that, but still.  (Remember the wonder the 4400 produced? And they were just humans.) Where was the sense of excitement and fear? In more people going to church? There are other lacunae I won’t mention because of potential spoilers, and I hope to get them explained as the show develops.  The topics covered are solid and interesting and I would like to see more. Media manipulation, humanity in crisis, beauty/attractiveness as a weapon of acceptance, terrorism, betrayal… I’ll be watching.

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A Latina in Space: Paula Garcés on Defying Gravity

Astronaut Paula multitasks teaching & annoying her coworkers

Astronaut Paula multitasks teaching with annoying her coworkers

Did you get a chance to watch Defying Gravity this summer on ABC? If not, you missed out on a gem cut short before its time. ABC aired eight episodes of this show and hasn’t decided whether or not to air the remaining five. This is a shame, because while this series is definitely sci-fi and us geeks could revel in its space station beauty and solar system CGI, it also has suspense and romance that could appeal to a wider audience. I’m not sure how well publicized this show was, but considering how I am always on the lookout for new sci-fi shows, Defying Gravity caught me off guard and I didn’t hear about it until a few episodes into the first season.

So here’s the story: It is the year 2052, humans have been to Mars, and the next great multinational exploration mission is aboard spaceship Antares. For six years, it will travel around our solar system visiting several planets for research purposes. I like this premise because it seems realistic that humans will be able to space-travel close to Earth this century (here’s hoping). There is a team of eight astronauts that all have well-hidden emotional baggage, so there is drama amongst the crew and the Mission Control staff back on Earth. The mission itself has its own secrets unbeknownst even to most team members.

Paula Garcés, of Colombian heritage, plays Paula Morales, a former schoolteacher from Texas. She is the payload specialist on the Antares. Fluent in English, Spanish and Ameslan, she is also a shuttle pilot and documents the trip for the whole planet. For example, she carries a video camera around and interviews the other astronauts, then relays the videos to school children. Most of the time she speaks in English, but she also speaks in Spanish making me wonder if she’s talking to English-speaking students studying Spanish, Spanish speaking students studying English, or bilingual students. This may or may not be related to the steady growth of Latino minority groups in the United States. Whatever the reason, it is nice to hear Spanish in space. Never mind that Paula tends to annoy the other astronauts with all her questions.

Paula is very religious and isn’t afraid to display her faith to the crew. She consults her bible whenever she gets stressed out. While the character’s faith is possible, I find it hard to believe it is probable that an astronaut at her level can be so religious.  However, I would let this slide if not for Ajay Sharma, a fellow astronaut from India who is also very religious. They both relate their jobs directly to their faith and destiny. While the one black astronaut transcends ethnic stereotypes, Ajay and Paula unfortunately represent the exotic on the show.  The other characters, white and black, are distinguished by their personalities more than by their religion so it is disappointing how Paula and Ajay are introduced.  I am absolutely not saying that I want no religion or heritage on display and everybody should hide their culture. I am saying that cultural idiosyncrasies shouldn’t be as dominant as it is for these two characters. They are definitely not well-rounded roles. On the bright side, I am grateful that Paula is not the ship’s sex bomb. It is a shame we might not get more episodes because I was beginning to see a glimmer of much needed character development for Paula.

The first eight episodes of Defying Gravity are available on iTunes along with a free preview. They are also available on the ABC and CTV websites. CTV is airing the remaining episodes that ABC can’t decide on showing. As is usual in the case of great shows getting the axe, there is a Save Defying Gravity campaign you can join here and here.

UPDATE: Seems like the show was canceled, but if you’d like some resolution, here is an article interviewing its creator James Parriott.

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2009 Alma Awards Winners

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948  film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948 film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

As an update to my previous post, here are my impressions of the Alma Awards. First, it was not live.  While I found this annoying in a way I loved how it shaved off show time. Usually award shows like this go on for way too long. This one was packed into two hours of nonstop acceptance speeches, video montages, and performances. The best performance was by a young singer called David Archuleta who I had never heard of before but since the tweens on Twitter were going crazy for him I looked him up and turns out he was last year’s American Idol finalist. He sang a timeless love song in español (Contigo en la Distancia- Together Across the Distance) effortlessly. Kudos to David! Shakira gave a disappointing overly sexual performace of She-Wolf. Shakira, you don’t need to do that, honey. Your talent transcends any body gyrations you can make onstage. Nelly Furtado sang Manos al aire (Hands Up) from her first album in Spanish (and I loved it). I think the only thing I really disliked about the Alma Awards was George Lopez’s sense of humor- repeatedly putting down your own people to get laughs really isn’t the best thing to do at a show that intends to transcend stereotypes. Lopez’s comments made me uncomfortable during the whole show. At least Eva Longoria was classy.

They didn’t present any winners to the “Year Behind the Scenes” category, so check the link below for the full list of Alma winners in case it was a separate ceremony. (It wasn’t up when I wrote this.) Here are some genre highlights from the awards ceremony:

  • Edward James Olmos presented a special sports award to boxer Oscar de la Hoya for his boxing and philanthropy work. We all know Admiral Adama likes boxing, so he was a fitting presenter for this particular award. Before presenting it, Olmos blessed the audience and I swear was *this* close to saying “So Say We All!” Maybe not- but I like to think he wanted to!
  • The gorgeous Salma Hayek, who has been in several genre films, was very gracious with her long time fans and dedicated her Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence to them. Thanks Salma!
  • When Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) accepted her best comedy actress award she said that there were many other nominated actresses more talented than she is. Perhaps, but this girl definitely has the potential of greatness and the fact that her show focuses on a Latino-heritage family makes it a win for families who watch Disney TV. Latino kids can watch other kids like them on TV, and other ethnicities can enjoy some Disney bubblegum with a Latino flavor. That’s inspiration right there.
  • Rita Moreno presented a special recognition of Ricardo Montalbán and his work helping other Latino actors in the industry. They had a great video montage, and his role as Khan was singled out! I had no idea how hot he was when he was young and starting out. Wow.
  • Dexter’s Lauren Velez won best TV drama actress. When she got up to accept her award I did a double take because there were TWO of her! Not really; it was her twin sister. Sweet of them to be together like that.


From one boxer to another

From one boxer to another


I don’t think the Alma Awards are very accurate in actually giving out awards; I suspect they are more image awards than performance awards, and they don’t like to repeat winners. It makes sense in a way because the Alma Awards is a concept created by the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. In the end, I suspect the award statuettes are an excuse to get together and celebrate Latinos in the business in one big fiesta. I’m OK with that to an extent, because awards might end up going to the same batch of excellent actors year after year, and that would get old fast. What we need then are more Latinos in the industry. When we become commonplace, award shows like this will become redundant.

Winners announced on the actual show were (full list here):

  • TVACTOR, COMEDY: Oscar Nunez, The Office
  • TVACTRESS, COMEDY: Selena Gomez, Wizards of Waverly Place
  • TV ACTOR, DRAMA: Benjamin Bratt, The Cleaner, A&E
  • TV ACTRESS, DRAMA: Lauren Vélez, Dexter, SHO
  • ACTOR, FILM: John Leguizamo, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • ACTRESS, FILM: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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