Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

10 Things I Hate About You

Title: 10 Things I Hate About You (TV show)
Channel: ABC Family
Date: July 2009

Plot Summary: Based on the popular 1999 film of the same title, which in turn is inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, this TV series follows the exploits of sisters Kat and Bianca as they navigate their separate ways through Padua High School.  Bianca, wanting to take advantage of being the new girl in town, does her best to make a great first impression on the most popular girl in school, Chastity Church, the head cheerleader.  Kat, on the other hand, would rather stand out than blend in, and isn’t afraid of alienating others with her strong opinions.  She makes friends with vandal/artist Mandella, and inadvertently catches the eye of Patrick Verona, the resident bad boy.  An awkward schoolmate named Cameron instantly develops a crush on Bianca, but sees his chances of getting to date her slipping away as she inches her way up the popularity ladder.  In any case, Bianca is not allowed to date until Kat does – can they find a way around this rule?

Critical Evaluation: As a fan of the film myself, I didn’t have high expectations for this series when I started watching it shortly after it premiered.  I was surprised to see how they were taking the show in a different direction from the film – rather than trying to stay too faithful to the original, which would have fallen flat, the comedy gave new life to the story and reimagined the characters and setting.

I think the strength of the show is in the casting, particularly the characters of Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona.  Patrick is played by Ethan Peck, grandson of the actor Gregory Peck, who holds his own in the character originally portrayed by Heath Ledger.  The star of the series, in my opinion, is Lindsey Shaw as Kat, the “shrew” character, who Shaw portrays with warmth and humor.  There aren’t enough portrayals of teen feminists, at least not in a positive light, so Kat’s character alone makes the show worth watching.  Sadly, it was recently announced that the show has been canceled.

Annotation: Based on the film of the same title, 10 Things I Hate About You is about sisters Kat and Bianca, making their way at a new high school.  Kat prizes her intellect and individuality, while Bianca will do anything to achieve popularity.

About the Creator: Carter Covington was born in 1973 and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1995, where he earned his degree in foreign affairs and Spanish, Covington taught English in Mexico and worked in advertising.  He went on to study entertainment business at UCLA’s business school, graduating in 2001.

Working on ABC Family projects, Covington occasionally collaborated with Gil Junger, director of the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, of which Covington is a huge fan.  He had discussions with Junger about reimagining the movie as a television series, which lead to the creation of the show.  Covington currently lives in Los Angeles.

Genre: Comedy, Relationships

Curriculum Ties: Possibly could be connected to the Shakespeare play, but that’s a stretch.

Discussion Ideas:
1) Is Bianca right for wanting to be liked or is Kat right for wanting to stay true to herself?  Can they both be right?
2) How does the TV show compare to the film?  Or to The Taming of the Shrew?

Interest Age: 12 and older.

Challenge Issues: alcohol references, sexual content

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the TV show and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the TV show from teens who watch it.

Selection: This was a series I actually started watching when it premiered, and I never watch teen programming.  Although it’s not perfect, I really enjoyed it and think it would fit well in a library collection.

Extras:

Official show website.

10 Things I Hate About You on IMDB.com

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May 15, 2010 Posted by | TV Shows | , | Leave a comment

Veronica Mars

Title: Veronica Mars
Channel: The CW
Date: September 2004

Plot Summary: Welcome to Neptune, California, a town comprised of millionaires and the people who work for them – a town with no middle class.  When her best friend, Lilly Kane, is murdered, Veronica Mars’ father, the local sheriff, is ousted from his job after pursuing the wrong man for the crime.  Veronica’s mother leaves town, and Veronica helps out her father in his new career as a private investigator.  At school, she has been an outcast ever since her boyfriend, Duncan Kane (Lilly’s brother), broke up with her, casting her out of the popular crowd.  A year after the murder, Veronica makes friends with the new kid in town, Wallace, and makes some extra cash by working for her dad and helping solve cases for her classmates at school.  Even with a confessed man behind bars, something about Lilly Kane’s murder seems unanswered, and Veronica is determined to find out what really happened.

Critical Evaluation: Veronica Mars, the pint sized sleuth, would be a fantastic addition to any young adult collection.  The television show, particularly the first season, is shot in an artsy noir style that complements the crime solving of the plots.  While there are a few overarching subject lines throughout the series, including the murder of Lilly Kane and the disappearance of Veronica’s mother, each episode introduces a smaller case for Veronica to resolve.  It seems like everyone in the fictional southern California town of Neptune has secrets, and Veronica is capable of getting to the bottom of each one.  During the run of the show, Veronica’s character is in her last years of high school, and the last season portrays her as a freshman in college – a perfect heroine for older teens who are interested in the mystery genre.  The character development is fantastic – even the unlikable characters are given depth and are made into sympathetic figures, even capable of redeeming themselves for their flaws.

Annotation: After her best friend, Lilly Kane, is murdered, Veronica’s father loses his job as sheriff for going after the wrong man.  A year later, Veronica is helping her father out with his new job as a private investigator – and trying to find out what really happened to Lilly.

About the Creator: Rob Thomas was born in 1965 in Sunnyside, Washington.  After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987 with a B.A. in History, Thomas taught journalism at John Marshall High School in San Antonio.  During the 1980s and 90s, Thomas was a member in three bands based out of Austin, Texas.

In 1996, Thomas wrote the young adult novel Rats Saw God.  Around this time, Thomas began a career in writing for television, including becoming a member of the writing staff of Dawson’s Creek.  He created the show Veronica Mars, which was picked up in 2004 but only ran for three seasons before being canceled due to low ratings, even though it was well received by critics.

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Compare Veronica’s relationships with Duncan and Logan.
2) Will solving Lilly’s murder mean that Veronica can get her old friends back?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: drugs and alcohol, sexual content, mild profanity

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the TV show and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the TV show from teens who have watched it.

Selection: I loved this show when it was on, and I think that Veronica is a timeless character in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Even though the show has been canceled, I think it would be a great contribution for a library’s young adult collection.

Extras:

Official website

Veronica Mars on IMDB.com

May 9, 2010 Posted by | TV Shows | , | Leave a comment

Glee

Title: Glee
Channel: Fox
Date: May 2009

Plot Summary: Will Shuester is a Spanish teacher at William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, his former high school, where he was a popular member of the Glee Club and dated the head cheerleader, who is now his wife.  When the opportunity arises to head the Glee Club, which has faded into obscurity, Will leaps at the chance to try and restore it to the glory days.  The school principal, and even Will’s wife, don’t understand why he would ask for such an undertaking, and even “Mr. Shu” is discouraged by the lack of student interest in the club.  But with a determined group of talented misfits, and the support of guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, the Glee Club – now called “New Directions” – begins to see greater attendance and even attracts the popular kids to join.  Now they’re on track to compete at Nationals – as long as they can survive the sabotage attempts of head cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.

Critical Evaluation: There’s so much to love about Glee.  Likeable characters, great music, complicated teen relationships – it’s like High School Musical meets Freaks and Geeks.  The show is not afraid to tackle difficult issues like teen pregnancy and coming out as gay to friends and family.  The musical comedy show has some genuinely funny moments – especially the zinging one-liners from Jane Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester.  That said, it seems to me that there is something a little off that keeps the show from really shining.  For me, it requires a huge suspension of disbelief to accept that the Glee kids can launch right into a brand new song and have their parts and choreography memorized right off the bat.  Not that I need to see hours of rehearsal, but their overly polished performances (on the first run through) are distracting.  There are some incredible singers in the group, so it’s unfortunate that they use obvious Autotune in the songs.  These might be minor quibbles, but they really detract from the show in my opinion.  It really is an amazingly popular show (the cast will be heading on tour soon), and they recently launched a nationwide audition process using MySpace to cast an unknown in a future episode.  Calling all Gleeks!

Annotation: High school Spanish teacher Will Shuester leaps at the opportunity to direct the Glee Club, hoping to restore it to the glory days from when he was a member.  Can they make it to Nationals?

About the Creator: Ian Brennan came up with the idea for Glee, which he originally envisioned (and wrote a script for) as a film.  In high school, Brennan was a member of the show choir at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  The musical director, John Marquette, was his inspiration for the character Will Shuester.  Brennan, who aspired to be an actor, studied theater at Loyola University in Chicago, graduating in 2000 and starting an acting career in Chicago and New York.

In 2005, a choir director at Prospect High was accused of inappropriate behavior with a student (mimicked in the pilot episode of Glee), which inspired Brennan to write the original script as a film.  There was little interest in the project for years, until the writers and producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk read the script and suggested that it be rewritten as a television series – which was picked up by Fox within 15 hours of being received.  Brennan, Murphy and Falchuk are credited as the show’s creators and write all of the show’s episodes.

Genre: Musical, Comedy

Curriculum Ties: Music, Theater

Discussion Ideas:
1) What is Will’s motivation for reviving the Glee Club?  Is he trying to relive his adolescence?
2) Contrast Will’s relationship with his wife, Terri, and the guidance counselor, Emma.
3) The characters Rachel and Quinn are often compared.  In what ways are they alike and different?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: sexual content, drug and alcohol use

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the TV show and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the TV show from teens who watch it.

Selection: I chose to review Glee because it is a popular current show about high school students.  Also, I have a weakness for musical theater.

Extras:

Official Website

Glee on IMDB.com

Glee on Hulu

May 9, 2010 Posted by | TV Shows | , | 1 Comment