Idol Chatter

As the spring television seasons wound to a close in May, I finally took the advice of many friends and joined Netflix, the super-fast DVD service that gets film and television favorites to your door in the blink of an eye. While at first overwhelmed with the possibilities, I narrowed my priorities to a top-three television series list of shows I’ve been wanting to watch forever but never actually caught on the air:

1. “Smallville“: Four entire seasons already available on DVD about the boy Clark Kent (aka Superman) who struggles “to come to grips with his emerging superpowers–and the effects of various forms of kryptonite–while battling the strange things that have plagued this idyllic Midwest hamlet since the meteor shower.” Season One so far has that same “Monster of the Week” theme of Buffy’s Season One, which brings back fond memories.

2. “Joan of Arcadia“: Though the show stopped after only two seasons, which I still can’t believe I missed, “Joan of Arcadia” follows the life of a teenage girl who is a bit quirkier than average because of “the unusual way various people keep popping up, introducing themselves as God and then giving her specific directions to do things, such as get a job, join the debate team or volunteer with children. ” Is she a contemporary mystic? Conversations with God are a promising place to begin in that category.

3. “Firefly“: I couldn’t overlook Joss Whedon’s 13-episode one-season wonder about life in outer space with a Western twist. It’s your basic good vs. evil with a lot of moral ambiguity about who is really doing the good, since the heroes are outlaws.

I’m counting on Netflix to fill the summer series void and hope I picked some winners. More later…..

Last week, we blogged about Britney Spears’ spiritual journey, capped by her proclamation that her baby is her religion. Turns out that Britney’s announcement did more than make headlines– it also cost her the close friendship of Madonna, an ardent student of Kabbalah who introduced Britney to the faith. The Material Girl–who is on a world tour in which she gets crucified on stage during one of her songs–is a huge supporter of the Kabbalah Centre in L.A. and has written several Kabbalah-themed childrens’ books.

Who seems to be stepping into the new vacancy in Madonna’s inner circle (which also reportedly includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney)? Lindsay Lohan, of course. The almost-20-year-old actress/singer reportedly wants to collaborate on a song with Madonna and has expressed an interest in Kabbalah. One source even claims they’re taking a trip to Israel together. Next up: kissing each other on MTV?

Even without Madonna in her life, a lot’s been going on in Britney Land. First, she went on the “Today Show” this morning to stump for tonight’s “Dateline” appearance, where commercials indicate she’ll defend her parenting skills. Brit’s been photographed lately with a young man accompanying her, and some outlets have said he’s her “manny,” or male nanny. After all, Brit’s part of the generation who grew up watching Tony Danza on “Who’s the Boss?”

It sounds like she needs all the help she can get, especially if she’s just lost one of her most powerful allies.

Like Earth in the End Times, Christian rock’s days are numbered, but the industry has to undergo a few transitional stages. The current stage might be called “The Revolving Door.” Take Flyleaf, for example. The hard-rock foursome is often described as a stripped-down Evanescence, the Christian goth-rock group that roared into mainstream success with their 2003 album titled “Fallen” and promptly kicked the ladder away. Flyleaf’s label, Octone, wants the band to emulate Evanescence’s marketing strategy as well as its sound. “We wanted to use Christian radio as a place to start, much like a record company might choose to start a hipper-type group at college radio,” an Octone executive told Billboard magazine. “Our goal from day one was to break this band at mainstream rock radio.”

Exhibit two is Brian Littrell, who has already enjoyed huge success as a member of the Backstreet Boys, but who has chosen to launch his solo career in the Christian market with his album “Welcome Home.” Christian music fans are greeting his reverse crossover as a pure testament of what the genre has to offer a star even of Littrell’s magnatude. “Additionally,” notes Christianity Today, “one would hope such a talent would bring more experience and artistic credibility to [Christian Contemporary Music].”

The constant lowering of the Christian ghetto wall shows how much credibility CCM has already garnered. It will be interesting to see if the Christian music industry will have the courage of its founding ideal to complete its destiny and wither away altogether.

A friend who knows my affinity for all things Buffy and Buffy-related recently alerted me to a giant subway advertisement for a new TV series with my name written all over it: “Hex.” “Hex” premiered last Thursday at 10 on BBC America (though happily, the channel is re-airing the two-hour premier daily, if you want to catch it) and stars Christina Cole as Cassie Hughes, a girl attending a posh-British boarding school (housed in as Goth a mansion as you can find) who discovers she’s a witch. It is clearly Britain’s best answer to the enormous fan-base still wistful about Buffy and searching for something, anything, to fill the void.

Last night I eagerly snuggled up in front of the television, ready with snacks, drinks, and the remote, and was rewarded with quite a ride. The show is darker than Buffy and dives in head first with the drama, teasing viewers with mysteries and lore about what lies ahead–something that Buffy fans really had to wait until the second season to enjoy. I found myself immediately gripped by the characters and plot, though the humor was a bit over the top and cringe-inducing at moments.

Without giving too much away, the website for “Hex” describes Cassie as “bewildered and terrified by the visions that haunt her,” but she “soon discovers that there are certain advantages to being a student endowed with mystical powers, when she learns how to manipulate the people and situations around her.” And there’s tragic romance ahead as well, if not a bit kinky sounding, since Cassie’s love interest turns out to be a fallen angel named Azazeal (Michael Fassbender), “the leader of a group of fallen angels who were banished from heaven for tasting the pleasures of mortal women.”

From watching the premiere, I’ve already determined that I’m in for all 10 episodes of the show’s first season. What Buffy fan can say no to promises of mystical powers, demon-fighting, and romances with fallen angels? Definitely not me.

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