Looking to procrastinate this semester (who isn't)? I'm a fan of many critically-acclaimed t.v. hits, but I also like to find more obscure shows. Here are some I'll be watching this season before the grading season picks up....
Newbies (reviews to follow!):
The Flash - It took awhile for me to warm up to Arrow, but last season made me a believer... mostly because of awesome fangirl proxy character Felicity Smoak. Something tells me this Arrow spin-off The Flash will be a lot of fun right from the beginning. It seems to have Smallville's cheeriness paired with a little bit of snark, and a charming leading man.
Premier Date: October 7
Gotham - I worry that a superhero show on any major network will be doomed for a couple of reasons. One being that niche-y shows like these don't tend to bring in big ratings. The other being that major networks aren't the most risky or creative story-tellers on the planet. But, my t.v. crush Donal Logue (of the criminally underrated Terriers) is in this show and that's reason enough to give it a try. Add to that the broody, noir tone and the fact that future Batman is in the mix, I am in.
Premiere Date: September 22
iZombie - I am a huge fan of Rob Thomas (writer and television creator, not 90s rock star) and even though the zombie genre seems worn out (and how can you beat The Walking Dead?), I am looking forward to trying it. It looks like it has all of the best Rob Thomas elements: smart female lead, murder mystery, and plenty of sarcasm. Add to that a little horror twist and what's not to like?
Premiere Date: Not until 2015!!!
The 100 - On the surface, this is a silly CW show with improbably good-looking refugees from a post-nuclear apocalypse future, but underneath the models-turned-actors is a thoughtful and many times genuinely thrilling sci-fi drama. It's part Lord of the Flies, part Battlestar Galactica. I can't wait to see the leadership styles of Clarke and Bellamy clash in future episodes!
Supernatural - Even 10 seasons in, this show still has legs. It combines horror, humor, and warmth with fun meta-narratives, terrific chemistry between the leads, and classic rock. It also periodically asks the "big questions" about God, destiny/fate, choice, and family. I'm a true believer who's hoping for another decade!
Miss Marple - I enjoy pretty much any British import Masterpiece Mystery brings to us Yanks, but I have a special place in my heart for Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries. I love her mild-mannered-yet-sharp-as-a-tack persona. Why can't other shows feature a brilliant female lead whose personal life is intact and is still interesting? Why do most shows insist on competent professional women who are disasters at home? Miss Marple needs to straighten those t.v. execs out.
Happy Procrastinating, Friends. Now let's get back to the grindstone, shall we?
Dear New Student(s), I am thrilled to be your instructor this term. I want to do everything I can to help you succeed. It's (understandably) scary to start a new semester with a new prof. To help calm your fears, I thought I'd give you some advice - that doesn't come from me. It's written to you by former students who have managed to survive - and thrive! - in my courses. SO, to kick of the fall, I present to you:
How to Make It This Term
in a Leah Payne Course
Listen. Leah isn't a harsh grader, she doesn't hold grudges, and she gives students the benefit of the doubt, especially if you show enthusiasm and active participation in class. The only other thing I would recommend is, don't take a harsh grade too seriously. She asks some tough questions, and they might be hard to answer, but she gives plenty of opportunity to make it up.
- Zach Brigante, MATS Student
When Dr. Payne says stick to the word count, she means it. And she thinks it's "good for you" (read "painstaking character development") to edit every last syllable (especially if it's the only syllable in the one word that's over the limit). 300 words means 300 words or less. The nasty truth is, she's right. It actually does make you a better writer.
- Anne-Marie Finsaas, DMin Student
Leah’s a lot of fun and her classes are fun, so relax, enjoy them, and engage – ask questions. Push her. She likes to engage and be pushed. She’s got a wide range of interests and likes to see and explore how ‘dots connect’ from seeming disparate disciplines and thinkers. Propose stuff even if you’re not entirely certain of the likely path the discussion may take. And then – research – have your stuff in order and write logical, defensible papers and you’ll be fine. Bottom line – enjoy the opportunity – you’ll look back at your ‘Leah classes’ with fondness!
- Michael Gama, DMin
Learn the skill of skimming/reading for information. Don't bog down in every printed word assigned, use a dictionary and think about if you agree or disagree with the main points the author is making. The reading is where you can shape your own thoughts and bring constructive conversation to the lecture periods. And come to lecture with humor in your heart; because Dr. Payne is a crack-up.
- Jeniene Frisco, MDiv
Not sure what to say except to read as widely as possible. Frankly, I did not find the course work difficult as much as trying to keep up with reading, connecting the dots, and communicating in a concise manner. History has never been my thing but living Internationally, right in the middle of church history, has made a huge impact on how I listened in class and how I processed the material read for your assignments.
- Dave Shepherd, DMin
Take notes in class and compare your notes to the outlines that are provided. Make friends in class and share with them. And don't hesitate to talk to the professor. She's not really scary.
- Julie Dodge, DMin Student
It is essential that students understand the intent of the course by examining the syllabus, meticulously read the books assigned for the course, grasp the major theories, subject content and dissenting voices to understand all perspectives of the argument. The last essential key is to communicate early and often to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, especially on the first day of class when the syllabus is reviewed with the class.
- Carlos Richard, DMin Student
Be Concise... less words is best... and always organize your thoughts well.
- Grant Carey, DMin Student
The study guides are a huge help! Do them and trade notes with your colleagues; they can be a great resource! Also, learn to love knowledge. One thing I learned about studying, in general, is that my attitude towards studying often reflects my attitude and outlook on life. Life is not a stressful obligation! It is (can be) a joyful discovery and an adventure!
JP Paxton, MDiv
My advise for doing well in Dr. Leah’s class is to read the readings, listen to advice, and learn from feedback. First, Dr. Leah’s readings help students plunge deeper into topics. Second, allow yourselves to be pushed to become better writers and heed the specific instructions given. Lastly, learn from the feedback given and utilize it to make future papers stronger. If students do these three things I am confident students will succeed.
- Todd Clark, DMin
Don't let her winsome smile fool you, Leah's brain is on fire.
I just picked up a delicious latte from KAM's coffee house at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. I'm thrilled to be teaching at GFES for the next two years as a fellow at the Louisville Institute, so I'm sure I'll drink many more while I'm there with students and colleagues. Cheers to two great years!
I am often asked by students: what does it take to succeed
(code: finish!) in graduate school?Of course there are many qualities that successful students share:
enthusiasm, creativity, work ethic, a killer research project, a good advisor, etc.But the one virtue I recommend that students develop above all is
the ability to work through discouragement.Graduate work, for all of its wonders, is one of the most
disheartening, lonely endeavors that you will ever undertake.Of course, it will also be one of the most
extraordinary, revelatory adventures of your life. I don’t think a single
Ph.D. would disagree with me when I tell you that you are going to have to slog
through hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of gloom in pursuit of the
prize.You will feel discouraged –
a lot (code: most!) of the time.
But trust me, the moments of illumination that you will receive as
a result of your labors will be glorious.It just takes perseverance.
So, for those of you about to rock grad school, I salute
For those of you already in the depths of graduate despair, it won't last forever!
To all of you, I submit this lovely piece of encouragement by Ira Glass
on the rewards awaiting those who work through the gloom.
Today, the long-awaited next chapter in one of my favorite
detective stories, Veronica Mars
will be in theaters. Although Veronica looked like just another teen
drama a la Gossip Girl or 90210, what made it special was that it
was actually a clever noir detective story dressed up like a young adult soap
complete with corrupt powers-that-be, cynical narration, and a doomed
Veronica flipped the gender script on most stories about
hardboiled investigators, however, because she
(Veronica) was the flawed-but-lovable detective and the femme fatale was
actually an homme fatale (Logan).To really appreciate Veronica, you have to understand her investigative predecessors. To find
those, you have to watch a little classic cinema.So, in honor of Veronica Mars’ theatrical debut, a salute to
three iconic mystery films:
The Maltese Falcon:Private Investigator Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets drawn into
murder, intrigue, and danger by a dangerous dame who goes by the name of Brigid
O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor).This is the granddaddy of noir
detective films.Don’t be
surprised if when you watch it, you feel like you are watching a series of film
clichés.That’s because you are watching
the film that spawned countless imitations, spoofs, etc.But, even though it feels like you’ve
seen it before, there’s still something mesmerizing about Humphrey Bogart’s
surly delivery, sad-sack face, and hard-edged-but-soft-inside personality.
Double Indemnity: Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck)
is a bored housewife who is convinced that her life would be better if her
husband were gone – permanently.She and her lover (Fred MacMurray – otherwise known as The Absent-Minded
Professor), an insurance salesman, hatch a plan to rid themselves of
her husband and live the high life on his insurance policy.The only thing standing in their way is
the pesky insurance claim adjuster, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson).Directed by Billy Wilder (who also
directed the funniest movie ever
made), this is a tense thriller with pitch-perfect performances that stands
the test of time.
Laura: A police detective named
Mark McPherson (played stoically by Dana Andrews) investigates the
murder of a beautiful young woman named Laura Hunt (the impossibly stunning Gene Tierney) and in the process
falls in love (or is it obsession?) with her.The suspects are numerous (playboy lover, dandy newspaper
reporter, wealthy aunt) and in this way the film is a classic whodunit.But Laura
is easily in my top 10 favorite movies ever made for more than just the way
that McPherson solves the murder.The moody lighting, eerie music, and the way the story slowly peels back
layer after layer of supernaturally-tinged mystery make it worth watching again
To my friends who
ask for good television recommendations, this post is for you:
Science Fiction is a great genre for t.v. watchers who want to think theologically or philosophically. It is a fun
exercise in the wonders of human imagination and it also gives watchers an opportunity to think about the BIG
questions in life: What does it mean to be human? What/who is God? What is free
will?What role does/should
technology play in our lives?
and many more bring science fiction fans back again and again to well-known
television shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and The X-Files.Today’s entry shines a spotlight on 3
underrated entries into the genre.
further ado, I submit three underrated science fiction shows for your review:
police officers don’t have what it takes to deal with the ever-increasing
number of tech-savvy criminals.So, law enforcement officers turn to technology to create ideal
robocops….This is the story of
one cop and his robotic side-kick who take a stand against a vast criminal
underground (how’s that for a tagline?).
In a nutshell: this
show has it all – questions about identity (who is really human, the cruel
person born with human DNA, or the virtuous, empathetic machine?), buddy cop
humor, a very charming robot (Michael Ealy), and Karl Urban from
LOTR and Star Trek – what’s not to like?
Where to watch:
now airing on FOX… but don’t worry. It’s good so it will get cancelled and then
you can watch it on Netflix, I am sure.
present Vancouver, BC and the somewhat utopian future (time travel alert!).
Premise: one cop must save the present and the future when she is accidentally
(or was it an accident?) sent from
her time (2077) to our present while pursuing a group of anarchist terrorists
known as Liber8.
In a nutshell: Our friends in Canada bring us this thoughtful
science fiction procedural drama with a Scully-esque lead and
plenty of engaging side characters (especially the charismatic Erik Knudsen… he’s going to be
somebody some day.Remember, I
called it!).Together, they tackle
relevant questions such as: how does technology facilitate human
flourishing?Is it helping
or hurting us? And can people really change or are our destinies determined by biology and
Where to watch:
the first two seasons are available on Netflix and season 3 begins on March 14,
Premise: a covert arm of the U.S. Department of Defense uses humans with
special abilities, a.k.a. Alphas, to track down other Alphas who
have committed crimes (or have
In a nutshell: It
starts off seeming like a decaffeinated version of X-Men (complete with wise Prof. Xavier-like “Dr. Rosen” played by David Strathairn),
but it soon takes on a personality of its own and brings up excellent questions
about subjects ranging from personal identity (how does a woman whose
superpower is heightened human senses experience her first kiss?) to terrorism (how far
should Alphas go to protect themselves from government intervention?).
Where to watch:
was on SyFy, cancelled after two seasons, now only on Netflix.
Recommendation: in the mood for a movie night? Try Europa Report.
It’s probably the most realistic science fiction movie I’ve ever seen
and also one of the most engrossing.
Set at the vanguard of our current space exploration, the film is a tense thriller that is also an ode to the wonders of scientific inquiry. I was haunted by the final
images – I’d be surprised if you didn’t wake up thinking about them too!