Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Ex Ex-List?!?

Apparently, The Ex-List has been pulled from the schedule after only four episodes...that Friday night death slot is a killer. I'm so disappointed. I didn't love, love the show, but it was cute and quirky and I can't believe it got pulled from the schedule before the cringeworthy Kath & Kim. Sometimes the powers that be make it very difficult for me to argue for television as art, don't they?

Pushing Daisies tonight - watch it!

If you watch CBS tonight at 8, you'll see a half hour political message from Barack Obama. If you watch NBC tonight at 8, you'll see a half hour political message from Barack Obama. Ditto for Fox.

Interested in watching something different?

ABC is the only major network that decided to not air the Obama ad, and will be airing a new episode of Pushing Daisies instead.

If you're already voting for Obama, then you don't need to watch him tonight - you already know why you like him.

If you're voting for McCain, is there anything Obama could say tonight that would make you change your mind to vote for him?

I know what channel will be on my tv tonight...Pushing it!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SNL again...a Coldplay observation this time

If any band deserves to perform three times in one show, it's Coldplay, that's for sure (which played two songs off their new album and one "oldie," 'Yellow.') Trying to think if I can recall another band that played more than twice on one episode of SNL...can anyone help me out with this?

Um, edited to add: Coldplay began playing a FOURTH song during the closing credits...WTF? god, what is my NBC connection worth if it doesn't help me take advantage of this Saturday night happy time? (Dad, I'm looking at you!...ha ha...just kidding!! (no, really...))...

SNL does a Mad Men sketch Part Deux!

I think this sketch would've been funnier if Don's guide to picking up women had used examples from the show as opposed to castmembers just acting out what he said...why does that make people want to watch Mad Men? It doesn't. All his reasons are actual reasons he is a great pick-up artist (maybe he should host the show The Pick-up Artist), but clips from the show, or acted out parts of the show would've been funnier... I am way too invested in this show...

PS Coldplay was awesome. It's not every "musician" that can play live (and I put "musician" in quotes not to say Coldplay aren't musicians, but to say that many SNL musical acts are not, and sounding good live is a good indicator of who qualifies as a, Coldplay does!)

PPS I still think The Killers were better. I would've killed to be on set tonight with Hamm, Slattery, Moss, Coldplay, and all the regular SNL players, but I would've done worse than that (what's worse than killing?) to have been on set with The Killers...

PPPS Seth Meyers is doing Weekend Update alone because Amy Poehler is FINALLY having her baby (she's been looking like she's gonna pop any minute for weeks now)! Many, many congratulations to both her and her husband, Will Arnett!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SNL does a Mad Men sketch!

So, it's also an A-holes sketch, which I always fastforward through, so that sucks... more than anything, I just want to hit these two, and not because they amuse me. So, that's disappointing. But on the upside? They're doing a Mad Men sketch, which the more exposure to this show, the better. And ON TOP OF THAT? Not only is host Jon Hamm in this sketch, but Elisabeth Moss (who is currently starring in the Broadway show Speed the Plow) and John Slattery (fellow CUA alum shoutout - what up?!?!?) from Mad Men are actually in this sketch as well!! Holy crap! What I wouldn't have given to be on that set tonight... Don Draper did one of his nostalgic, poetic, pitch perfect (pun intended) pitches which the A-holes hated, and this sketch was eye-rolling at best, but the fact that there were not one, not two, but THREE Mad Men castmembers on my screen kept me from fastforwarding through it.

I know I've said to watch this show (Mad Men, not SNL), but I don't know that I've ever really delved into WHY you MUST watch this show, but you MUST, and I will definitely talk more in-depth about the why in the future...

PS Oh my God, Maya Rudolph is also in the house as Michelle Obama (with all the rumors swirling about her return, I knew Michelle was the part why)!! Talk about high points in SNL creativity - Rudolph played a substantial role in those days! Welcome back, even for just one night!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cross-genre post: Ryan Howard v. Ryan Howard

Last night on television, we had two chances to watch Ryan Howard: Ryan Howard the temp on NBC's The Office, and Ryan Howard the first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were playing Game 2 in the World Series.

I don't know that it's ever been confirmed, but the rumor is that Ryan Howard the temp is actually named in honor of Ryan Howard the baseball player. He's currently tearing it up on the major league level (the baseball player, that is), but before he was called up in September 2004, he was tearing it up on the minor league level for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. The Office premiered six months later in March 2005 with character that had supposedly been named after a local sports hero before way before he was on his way to being a sports hero on the national stage. Why, you ask? Oh, because The Office is set in none other than Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Ryan Howard (the baseball player) has gone on since then to be named Rookie of the Year (2005) and Most Valuable Player (2006) for the Phillies. Ryan Howard (the temp) has gone on to a job at corporate in New York where the power went to his head, he was arrested for fraud, and he now finds himself back in Scranton as, yet again, a temp and as, yet again, the subject of boss Michael Scott's somewhat disturbing mancrush.

We wish continued success to Ryan Howard (the baseball player) and better luck and decision making to Ryan Howard (the temp, who could take a page out of the other Ryan Howard's book) in the future.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dirty Sexy Money: Is my show back?

Last night's episode was the first time this season I felt like I was watching the show I fell in love with last year. It's too early to tell, yet, and it's entirely possible that this episode shone brighter than the first two because of the emphasis on the Brian storyline, who is now definitely my favorite character. There are still things that bug about the show this season - Tripp is still one-note, calculating and manipulating in every scene he's in (which, thankfully, were very few this week, which is sad, because I used to love the scenes he had with Brian but especially Nick, when his compassion and regret and insecurity and HUMANITY would come through...sigh)...I don't know what the heck is going on with Karen and Simon Elder. They both seem to be playing each other, but for what purpose? Why do I even care?... I used to love Jeremy Darling and his naivete and his love of money but wanting to be loved for himself and not his wealth, and now he's being sucked down by this non-story with Lucy Liu and I'm too bored to watch his scenes.

So, what did I like? I liked that Lisa is once again Nick's connection to the real world, the non-Darling world, because where's the tension and why is he fighting to stay grounded (or not fighting, as it were) if all parts of his world are blinded by the glitter? Glad to see the writers not only remembered they have a daughter, but gave her a few lines. Nick confronting his mother felt a little forced at first, but it shows that he's trying to fit in somewhere in life (with his family, with the Darlings) because he was abandoned and felt he didn't belong which brings me to my favorite Darling outsider, Brian...

Because of his characterization of being smart and moody and snarky, Brian gets all the best one-liners. I love that he's so angry. I love that he feels the ends justify the means. I love that he thinks he's right, so you must be wrong. I love how obviously lost he feels, how much he wants to belong and fit in and be accepted, and I love, love, love how much he loves his son. He may be an ass, but he's an ass with a heart. He is so passionate about everything in his life, whether it's driven by hate or whether it's driven by love, but he is easily the most flawed, the most complex, and the most real (and maybe most importantly, the most consistent!) character on this show.

If this week disappointed me, I was going to put DSM on hiatus on my tv viewing schedule. Unfortunately for my overstuffed schedule but fortunately for this show, I've decided to not give up on it just quite yet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review: Third season premiere of 30 Rock

The third season premiere of 30 Rock, 2-time Emmy award winner for Best Comedy, is on NBC Oct. 30 at 9:30 p.m. but I just finished watching it on iTunes. I think I've been more hesitant than many to board the 30 Rock love train, but it's definitely found it's groove I think and for the most part, the premiere was in that groove (except for some super eyerolling silliness, even for 30 Rock, with NBC CEO Kathy Geiss and former CEO Jack Donaghy). After submitting myself to the painfully unfunny "comedies" Kath & Kim and Worst Week, I will be more than thrilled to have 30 Rock back on my tv! Some notes!

* I can't decide if I want to be Liz Lemon or Tina Fey when I grow up. Liz Lemon is super dorky but I have a feeling that my friends would tell me I'm deluding myself to think I do not have a super dorky streak of my own.

* I still remember the day I was watching Saturday Night Live and realized that Alec Baldwin can bring the funny. His Emmy this year for Best Comedic Actor was well earned. There's just something about his dry delivery of his lines, the way his character takes himself so seriously in even the most absurd situations, and the way this staunch Democrat convincingly portrays a staunch Republican that I love.

* Jane Krakowski continues to be the weak link for me. If they could find a way to fit her character more organically into the story (which doesn't make sense, as she's supposed to be one of the stars of the fictional TGS show, that they can't), but in addition, the other actors, even Tracy Morgan in his over-the-topness, act circles around her.

* I heart Grizz and Dot Com.

* Any show that lets Will Arnett back on my television, I will watch.

* I love that Liz and Jack's friendship continues to grow and change, that he continues to mentor her (even when he's not CEO of the company), and that there's nothing romantic about it.

* The premiere managed to set up at least three storylines that I can tell for the upcoming season, without seeming rushed or jam-packed.

All in all, a solid delivery. Thanks, NBC for finally bringing this back. Now could you please get Kath & Kim off my screen?!?

Is Fringe being pushed to the fringe?

We all know I watch a lot of television. Too much, some might say. Like psychologists and teachers. Parents, too. Probably a few tv critics as well...

The point is, as it gets deeper into the television season, inevitably there are shows I stop watching. Either I don't have the time for them or they stop piquing my interest.

Fringe might be becoming one of those shows.

Before the start of the season, Fringe was one of the most anticipated and hyped new series and I really, really wanted to like it. In fact, I really did enjoy the pilot episode. I liked the premise. I love Joshua Jackson.

But I missed one episode one week and found...I didn't miss it. I haven't watched last night's episode yet and even though I could watch it on my computer or on my dvr...I haven't.

I think the problem with Fringe, for me, is that it's all about the story, which is fine. Lots of shows do that. The characters are just props to convey the story. It's more of a procedural in that regard than I first realized. One franchise in particular, Law and Order, does this. And I don't watch that show. And I don't like that show.

I guess I'm discovering that I like characters. I want three dimensional characters. I want complicated characters with complicated relationships and complicated histories. My favorite part about Fringe is the relationship between Peter Bishop and his father, Walter. It's fraught with dysfunction and it makes me want to know more about them and it makes me feel for them.

So that's that. I'm still following recaps of the show and I guess when my tv schedule slows down over the weekend, I might check back in, but since most experts and even kindergarteners would probably agree that I need to be watching less tv and not more, well, we'll see.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A priceless tv moment brought to you by: Chuck

Um, Adam Baldwin, who plays tough guy NSA agent John Casey, undercover as a high school reunion DJ, rocking out to Hanson's "MmmBop"? Priceless.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feed the actresses: Rachel Boston

Okay, there has been a lot of press about the skeletal frames of several of the young actresses on the CW's 90210, and while their skinniness is beyond disturbing to me for a multitude of reasons (their health, their self-esteem, the fact that I have a boyfriend who has been in the hospital for almost two years and was so sick at one point that he almost died because he couldn't gain weight and looked like a starving Ethiopian...we should all be ashamed/appalled at a society/industry that forces/influences young girls (and guys)to voluntarily lose that much weight. End rant), I don't watch that show. The show I do watch is The Ex List, which features as a supporting character the actress Rachel Boston. I loved Rachel when she was on American Dreams. I love her on this show. But why does it look like she's spent the years in between these two shows in a work camp? Before, she looked healthy. Now, I just want to shove a bunch of hamburgers down her throat, because as much as I am enjoying this show and her performance, I am always distracted by any scene which she is in by how thin her arms are. Come on, Rachel! It's okay to have a little meat on your bones!

Rachel Boston in 2004

Rachel Boston now (and I don't think this picture even conveys how skinny she looks on my this picture, it's more apparent in her clavicle and in her face...)

P.S. Just another quick note about SNL

Next week, the host is Jon Hamm and the musical guest is Coldplay. How super excited am I? Coldplay's latest album is fantastic, so I'm very excited to hear them (I very rarely don't fast forward through the musical guest, with the exception, clearly, since they're my favorite band EVER, of The Killers, who were on last week. But I would listen to Coldplay, too.)

More importantly, though, is the fact that Jon Hamm plays the lead character of Don Draper on my new favorite show, Mad Men. He is phenomenal as this character, and while credit has to go to the writing of this character, Hamm's portrayal of Draper is in no small part responsible for making me feel for a character that at best is deeply flawed. I can't help but root for Draper to grow up and get his act together. Anyway, I only know Hamm from this show and he so perfectly captures the era (early 1960s) that I don't know what it will be like to see him as 21st century actor Jon Hamm, not 1960s ad man Don Draper. Who knows if he'll be able to do live comedy but good for SNL for realizing that Hamm is a gem of an actor on a gem of a show who deserves to be put in the spotlight (if they spoof Mad Men and spoof it well, I think I'll be in heaven).

Anyway, Saturday night, 11:30 p.m., it!!

Is it Palin or Fey? Who knows? Say hi to your mother for me!

No surprise. I've said it before that for the most part, SNL works best for me when it's lampooning politics and politicians, so election years are a humor goldmine. Sarah Palin cameoed on this weekend's episode. I wasn't overwhelmed by her, but I didn't hate it - they really didn't give her anything to do, so there wasn't much to mess up. The best part of her appearance for me was actually her being a foil for Alec Baldwin's surprise showing, where he mistakes her for Tina Fey.

The best part of the episode though? Mark Wahlberg's guest appearance (see, not everything I enjoy on SNL has to do with politics...) Last week, Andy Samberg did a sketch where he impersonates Wahlberg and talks to animals. Yeah, you read that right. The sketch made no sense and would not have even been funny except that Samberg's impression of Wahlberg, his voice becoming Wahlberg's, was spot on, and somehow, that made the whole thing funny. Well, Wahlberg was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel later in the week and complained that he did not find the sketch humorous and that he was thinking about heading over to 30 Rock so he could break Samberg's nose. Which, in itself, was actually kinda annoying that Wahlberg appeared so upset. Maybe he really was. Maybe he was just acting. But the best part is that Lorne Michaels not only asked him to come on SNL this weekend, but Wahlberg accepted, and suddenly, this whole Andy Samberg impersonates Wahlberg sketch was legitimately funny. Wahlberg's a tough guy. I would not wanna mess with him. That is not just a cultivated persona - I would not want him upset with me. Violence should not be funny, but it is - when he told Lorne he would bash his face in if he didn't tell him where Samberg was was hilarious. And then when Wahlberg finally confronted Samberg, telling him that the sketch was in no way an accurate portrayal of him, and then proceeded to act the way Samberg had written him? Well, Wahlberg may be a tough guy, but not only does he have a sense of humor about himself, but he made that spot, which was almost an exact replica of Samberg's spot from the week before and still made no sense, just as hilarious.

I obviously don't have a highbrow sense of humor. It's the simple things in life that make me laugh.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Even though it's Friday, let's talk about Pushing Daisies for a second...

...I talk about this show in terms of how visually, it's like looking at a painting, and how storywise, it's like reading a fairytale. But this is not a happy show. Well, it has it's happy, slapstick, cute, whimsical, funny moments, but underneath all the bright colors and silliness, this is a very dark show about very dark things - murder in almost every episode? A set of lovers who can never be together or even touch or she'll die? I think I compared this show to Tim Burton, who also uses bright colors and fantastical stories to convey some very dark emotions and situations...I find the dichotomy very intriguing, and as someone who shies away from dramas that are actually dark and brooding and well, dramatic, I think this dichotomy is why I watch. And I think I'm enjoying this show much more this season. Last year, I wanted to like it. This year, I think I actually do.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When My Name is Earl is on it's game...

...let's talk about this show instead. It's had it's missteps. But My Name is Earl is on it's game when it's about Earl actually taking care of his list. He's not always happy about it. He doesn't always do it right...sometimes he messes up. But sometimes, besides righting all the bad karma he's put out there, Earl encounters unexpected heartfelt moments.

My Name is Earl is also on it's game when it makes use of all the townies from Camden. This show has by far the best use of recurring characters of any tv show I've seen (It's Alway Sunny in Philadelphia is pretty good too). It's not always Earl's tight circle, and it's not random "friends" popping up for one episode, never to be seen again. Gay Kenny might be my favorite. I'm amazed at the continuity with these characters and their situations, too. It makes the town of Camden and the world Earl lives in feel very, very real. Anyway, good episode tonight. Have turned off the excrutiating Kath & Kim and will watch the Red Sox lose until The Office comes on...

Kath & Kim Take Two: Stick a fork in it...

I must be a glutton for punishment. Or a sadist. Or a masochist. Whichever one means I love inflicting pain on myself. I told myself that several times, a pilot has not impressed me. Not that it's high end television, but I do enjoy the soapiness of Grey's Anatomy and when I saw the pilot, I hated it. I thought the show was beyond boring. And so, I decided to give Kath & Kim another chance. Watching My Name is Earl took until 8:35. It is now 8:42 and I have been typing for two or three minutes. That is how long it took me of watching this show again for me to want to claw my eyeballs out.

Melodramatic? Yes. But true.

Reasons why I love Eli Stone

1. Jonny Lee Miller, for starters. Have loved him since he was in Hackers in 1995, which was also the first movie in which I saw Angelina Jolie, whom Miller married the next year. He's always been cute, he's always been a little bad-ass, but in this show he makes Eli someone you want to root for.

2. It's just a little bit zany. Hallucinations? People breaking into song? George Michael as maybe-God? It's just over the top enough to be fun.

3. It's a show with heart. The human connections feel real. I particularly like Eli's relationship with his brother Nate, and the backstory about their father, and how he may have been a drunk because that was the only way for him to deal with his own hallucinations. I love complicated characters and stories.

4. It's a show about faith. It's not about religion, per se, but Eli is a man who wants to believe he has a purpose in life, who wants to believe that there's a higher power, who wants to believe he can be a better person and that he has reasons to try to be a better person, who wants to believe there's something meaningful about life and about living...well, what's wrong with that?

Eli Stone premiered with a twist I didn't see coming - well, two actually, and as someone who depends on spoilers almost as much as she depends on air, it's hard to surprise me, so kudos to that. I was also wondering how they would deal with Eli having his aneurysm removed last season, and so discovering that it had "regrown" handled that nicely. By the way, if it hadn't been brought back this season, I thought last season (it's first) was a pretty complete arc (much like Wonderfall's first and only season) that could have left fans satisfied. I thought the finale was pitch-perfect, and for someone who uses tv mostly as a humorous escape from her less-humor filled life, to say that about an episode that left her both smiling and in tears is saying a lot.

Eli Stone is on ABC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Watch it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I love I Love Money (I'm so embarrassed...)

I keep switching back and forth between the Patriots-Chargers game and the I Love Money reunion show when really, this should be a no brainer (and apparently, will be soon enough, as I can literally feel my brain cells dying everytime I Love Money is on...)

I used to watch Jerry Springer in college and I definitely watched more than my share of Maury Povich, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by my I Love Money know how when there's a car wreck on the parkway you can't look away? Well, that's this show. And I don't rubberneck at all (on the parkway), I refuse to do it, so maybe this is how I make up for it...

These people are psycho. They all make me feel boring and extremely normal. I don't care how famous it would make me, how much money I could make off of it, I don't know that I could live with myself for looking like a complete slut and fool and @$$hole in front of millions of viewers. But I was never one for the spotlight anyway. And I know that much of what we see, especially on this show, is scripted and is an adopted tv persona, but I think I would still rather be known for being the next J.K. Rowling than the next Megan.

Of course, if I really thought about sharing a house with The Entertainer or 12 Pack, I might change my mind...they come off as being losers. But what hot, entertaining, funny losers...

Oh God, I hate that I love I Love Money!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Life on Mars looks intriguing...

...the show, that is, not actually living on Mars. Until they get televisions up there, I imagine it would suck.

Anyway, it's based on a UK show of the same name, about a present-day cop who gets hit by a car and wakes up as a cop in 1973. He doesn't know if he actually traveled back in time, if he's insane, or if everything's just a figment of his comatose mind.

Some thoughts (and bear with me, as I continue to watch these shows under the influence of this massive head cold, and so my thought processes are a little muddled):

- I think I may have a thing for period-piece television (see also Mad Men).

- Jason O'Mara from Life on Mars and Matthew Rhys from Brothers and Sisters talk and look exactly the same - they could be brothers (and interestingly enough, they're both Brits playing Americans (well, O'Mara is Irish and Rhys is Welsh)...I love Rhys, he's my favorite on B&S, so I hope I end up loving O'Mara as well...)

- Am fascinated by the whole is it real/is it all in my head concept. So far, it could go either way...or could it end up being both? (Yes, I've read the summary for the British version, so I know how that ends, and I am still intrigued, though even though this pilot was basically an exact remake of the UK version, who's to say the US version won't go in a different direction)

- due to circumstances in my own life, I hate when a story involves a character being hit by a car, especially if it is used for comedic effect and if there are no serious or lasting repercussions. At least on this show, so far, that does not seem to be true.

- Michael Imperioli is almost unrecognizable in his 70s get-up. It's unbelievable how easy it is to make an attractive man unattractive...

Verdict: I will continue to watch. Like I said, the concept intrigues me. The historical setting intrigues me, so even though it just adds another show to my Thursday night television glut, I will continue to watch. Even if only for Michael Imperioli's mustache.


Stuffed up sense of humor

I have a terrible head cold and it's making me miserable. Food has lost its taste and my shows have lost their humor. Last night I watched My Name Is Earl, The Office, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and either all three were just eh, or my headcold has dulled not only my sense of smell but my sense of humor. I'll have to rewatch when I'm feeling better to see which it is.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gone but not forgotten: My So-Called Life (1994)

I figured I'd start with my original television obsession. I watched a lot of Nick at Nite when I was younger, I was a huge Cosby Show fan, I was on board the original Beverly Hills 90210 all gung-ho for quite some time and possibly even still in 1994, but My So-Called Life was the first television show that spoke to me, the first show I fell in love with. In 1994, Claire Danes, Angela Chase, and I were all 15 years old. Here, for the first time I could ever remember, were teens on tv who dressed like me and spoke like me. They were smart and bored and falling in and out of love with the right people as well as the wrong people. Here were teens who were as confused and insecure as me, who had complex friendships and family relationships like me. Oh, how I wanted to be Angela Chase, and oh, in so many ways how I was Angela Chase. It was only on for one season, though that season was repeated on MTV for awhile. It made such an impression on me that I wrote about the final episode in my journal, and in a time before DVDs or even TV boxsets on VHS, I had every single episode of My So-Called Life taped off of television on blank videotapes. This show definitely should have lasted more than one season. But maybe one season was all we needed.

Favorite MSCL moment: The very end of the episode, after Jordan has refused to publicly admit that he's involved in Angela and Angela finally stands up for herself and calls him out on it...she's standing in the hall during school, he asks her if they can go somewhere and talk, she says sure, and as they're walking down the crowded hallway to Buffalo Tom's "Late at Night," he reaches out and grabs her hand. Yeah, I'm a sucker for girls finally getting the romantic public gesture they deserve. Oh, and for Jordan Catalano.

In mourning over Dirty Sexy Money

This show, for all it's extravagent over-the-topness last season, really was a heartfelt show about family last year and now I can barely watch it without rolling my eyes at how ridiculous it has become. I'm so sad! Last year, this really was a show I never expected to fall for that I ended up loving, and I was almost embarrassed to be watching last night's episode.

I think, for the most part, the storylines are no more over-the-top than they were last year - Letitia is arrested for Dutch's murder, Jeremy has an affair with the prosecutor on the case, Nick has to pick someone to be next in line to take over the company - but I think last year the show would have dealt more with the characters' reactions to and the fallout from each of these things. The characters and this show used to have heart. Now they all act like robots.

Donald Sutherland's Tripp seems to have had the biggest character assassination. He used to be complex, a man who obviously cared for his family, who obviously loved his best friend Dutch, who obviously felt betrayed by Dutch and Letitia's affair, who wanted the best for his children but who sometimes took the easy way out afforded by all his millions. It was easy to believe he would do anything to help Nick find out who killed Dutch and at the same time, it was just as possible that he was the man who had killed him. Now, he's like a one-note villain. And let's not get started on Lucy Liu. I like her, but she brings nothing to this show.

Still, I feel hopeful. Or maybe I'm just deluding myself. I have been known to have a hard time letting things go, but I feel like I see glimmers of the old show I fell in love with. I actually like Karen more this season. She used to be a vapid socialite heiress in love with Nick. Now she's got a bit of dimension, scheming either with or against her father with or against Simon Elder (the fact that I can't tell which is what I like). Last night, I saw a bit of the old Lisa George, the down-to-earth character that was trying to keep her husband grounded, from being sucked into that crazy Darling world. And Brian - oh grumpy, hilarious Brian - is still the same. I think he's my favorite character. If they mess with him at all, I may have to break up with this show for good.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

With each new television season comes unexpected finds and expected disasters...

I just watched the series premiere of The Ex List, which premiered Friday, as well as the series premiere of Kath & Kim, which premieres this upcoming Thursday.

One was surprisingly good. The other was almost too painful to watch.

Let's start with the bad. Kath & Kim's reviews have been awful. I don't always have mainstream taste, though, so I don't always go by reviews, although I definitely use them to get an idea of what I'm dealing with. Kath & Kim is based on an Aussie series of the same name, which I've never seen, and while many foreign imports are not disastrous by any means, this show was not funny and the two main characters had little to no redeeming qualities. Self-absorbed, conceited, misanthropes I can take (House? The Bluth family anyone?) Sitcoms that not only do not make me laugh but leave me cringing and rolling my eyes are unforgiveable.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Ex List, however. The premise, a woman who is told by a psychic that she has to marry within a year or she will never marry and that her soul mate is one of many men she has already dated, did not intrigue me at first. And then there was behind-the-scenes drama and changes before the show even hit the air, which can spell trouble. Or it can spell improvement. Plus, I wasn't entirely a fan of Elizabeth Reaser on her guest stint on Grey's Anatomy. But I don't have any other shows I'm currently watching on Friday nights, so I relented and decided to give this show (based on another foreign show, this one from Israel, by the way) a chance. Reaser's character is appealing. Her friends and family and her relationships with them feel real. She feels real. And the first episode actually made me tear up a bit. It was actually one of the better pilot episodes I've seen - it didn't feel crammed, it didn't feel super exposition-y, and I think it really set the tone and feeling of the story and characters of this show...I want to see what happens next!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let's just take a moment to rave about Michael Cera

It remains to be seen whether or not "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" will become another sleeper hit like "Superbad" and "Juno," but it's already another critical darling and just the latest step in Michael Cera's road to superstardom...

I know this is a blog about television and that first paragraph was all about movies, but before Cera was making a name for himself on the big screen, he was playing one of my favorite characters ever on one of my favorite television shows ever, Arrested Development. His George-Michael was so awkward and so earnest and so sincere with just absolute spot-on delivery, timing, and facial expressions, that I just wanted to eat him up. Or adopt him. At the very least, I wanted to buy him new clothes. So in honor of Ceraseeming to be the nice, real guy that I get the impression that he is and being someone who seems to deserve all the success he is having, here are some of my favorite George-Michael Bluth quotes:

Michael (talking about possible names for a housing development): What do you think of when you hear the name, "Sudden Valley"?
George Michael Bluth: Salad dressing. But I don't want to eat it.
Michael: What about, "Paradise Gardens"?
George Michael Bluth: Yeah... that's better. I can see myself marinating a chicken in that.

Michael Bluth: What have we always said is the most important thing?
George Michael Bluth: Breakfast
Michael Bluth: Family
George Michael Bluth: Oh, right. Family. I thought you meant of the things you eat.

Michael: Well, I’ll tell you what: I’m going to give you a promotion. Welcome aboard, Mr. Manager.
George Michael: Wow. I’m Mr. Manager.
Michael: Well, manager; we just say “manager.” And you can hire an employee if you need one.
George Michael: Do you think I need one?
Michael: Don’t look at me, Mr. Manager.
George Michael: Right, it’s up to me now. I’m Mr. Manager.
Michael: Manager. We-we just say, uh...
George Michael: I know, but you...
Michael: Doesn’t matter who.

Michael: Your Uncle Gob seems to think that he saw you down at the docks today. Was that you?
George Michael: No. No. Maybe it was the other George Michael. You know, the singer-songwriter.
Michael: Yeah, that makes sense.

George Michael: But it wasn’t for me.
Michael: Then who was it for? Who? Give me a name.
George Michael: Okay, it was for me. Yeah. I was gonna smoke the marijuana like a cigarette.

I could go on and on. But I won't...

Television: it's a visual medium

I don't know about you, but I often forget that. Maybe I'm just a product of my generation with the constant multi-tasking, but I feel better if I'm on the computer or reading TV Guide while I'm "watching" tv. I know episodes of Arrested Development so well that I can play them online and keep them in the background, just listening to it. When there's a ball game on, I usually just go straight to the radio since I just end up listening to it on tv anyway (and don't even get me started on tv commentators, who make me want to throw shoes at my television set because of the inane comments they make just to say something...argh).

Anyway, it's Mad Men that has reminded me of this fact. Besides being visually interesting, the story is told with minimal dialogue. In last night's episode, Betty Draper says that she has no time for small talk and that "conversation is an art." Well, this show certainly takes that to heart. Gilmore Girls (which I was a fan of in the early years) used to pride itself on how many pages there were in an episode's script due to the vast amount of dialogue due to the rapid fire conversations between characters. On Mad Men, there are no wasted words. I would actually love to count the number of words in an episode and compare it to both a show like Gilmore Girls and a show with, say, a "normal" amount of dialogue for an hour-long. The point is, Mad Men doesn't need the extra words to tell the story. And in general, television shouldn't need the words - as they always say, show, don't tell, and they say that for written media, so it stands to reason that it be even more appropriate for a visual medium like television.

On a side note, I find it an interesting topic because for my senior thesis on television as art, one of the arguments *against* television being considered art was that there were too many "channels" at work - visual, dialogue, music, etc. and I said that using that argument, a television episode (or show) that cut down on or cut out one or more of those channels would be a more likely candidate to be considered art. I used the Buffy episode "Hush" as my example, because it was dialogue free for half the episode, but I think Mad Men, if it had been on the air, would for just as good an example, if not better, as the whole series features minimal dialogue. I can't surf the net while Mad Men is on. I'm actually forced to "watch" television when it's on. And boy, is it worth it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Getting into the groove: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

This is the Philadelphia I know and love. I knew it would find its groove. It always does and last night's hour long episode had more than a few laugh out loud moments. Some highlights for me:

Mac in a wedding dress.
Charlie trying to put all his belongings in a bandana on a stick because that's what makes hobos so cool.
Frank and Dennis trying to figure out the best way to use the glory hole in their bathroom.
Mac and Charlie trying to fake their deaths with varying disappointing results.
Dennis' hurt feelings at being left out of the suicide pact.
The orgy with a buffet and the fact that everyone seemed more excited about the food than the anonymous sex.
The duster.
Mac and Charlie's lack of stealth.
Mac smushing Dee in the face.

I don't think I would enjoy the selfish, mean, stupid antics of this crew so much if they didn't always get exactly what was coming to them afterward. Well, I might. I do have the sense of humor of a frat boy. But really, I can't wait to go back and watch this episode again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mixed-up priorities?

Is it terrible that I'm more than a little bummed that instead of a new episode of The Office or Grey's Anatomy tonight, that all the major networks will be broadcasting the vice presidential debate? I know there are important real life people and situations that I should pay attention and care about, like politics, but, well, I don' least It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is not letting me down...

The ups and downs of television: Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money

So these were two shows I was most looking forward to returning last night...actually, probably two of the shows I was looking forward to returning all season. They were both a little off, but one more so than the other.

I realized what watching Pushing Daisies is like. It's like watching Edward Scissorhands. The fairytale-esque quality of the story and the storytelling. The vintage fashion sense, the saturated colors. I guess it's pretty much like anything Tim Burton, but the fairytale quality of this show is most like Edward Scissorhands. Last night, the pacing felt a little off. Some of the dialogue was a little too cutesy and rushed, but overall, the feel was the same. Am very glad it's back.

Which brings us to Dirty Sexy Money...what did you people do to my show?!? Apparently the show was overhauled for this season and boy, did it immediately show! I felt like it was a caricature of the show I fell in love with last season. Talk about soap! This show was always over-the-top, but in a believable way - people did outrageous things but for logical (or at least relatable) reasons. But characters covering up an accidental death? Without any sign of remorse? And feeling no guilt afterward? Please. Also, Nick and Lisa were always the grounded, normal couple trying not to be pulled into the Darlings world. They were the counterbalance. We saw the Darlings through their eyes and experienced not only their envy, but also their disgust at the opulence and realization of how ridiculous the Darlings' world could be. Now, Nick is helping in murder cover-ups and blatantly lusting after Karen, and Lisa is making out with Jeremy on the street? Please...this is not my show. At least Brian is his same cantankerous self. He's my favorite. I don't know what I would do if they messed with him.

All that being said...I'm willing to forgive premieres. Especially for the sophomore shows this season because due to last winter's writer's strike, their freshmen seasons were cut short. Networks brought back a lot of shows that otherwise might not have made the cut (which is why there are very few actual new shows this season). So this is like freshman season, redux. Which made last night's premieres for all intents and purposes, pilots redux. I'm willing to forgive exposition-heavy pilots. And pilots that are still trying to find their footing, their atmosphere, and their characters. And I'm willing to forgive missteps in shows that I really like. So we'll see what happens.

Am so over Project Runway this season. I want to see really talented people really trying to make their creative dreams come true, not bickering and backstabbing and crying. I have I Love Money for that (and at least on that show there's also canoodling, drunken shenanigans and people making complete fools of themselves...) I Love Money doesn't pretend to be something it's not, and there's nothing I hate more than a hypocrite, PR...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How I Met Your Mother, House, and Wednesday night premieres

Well, I think Heroes has officially taken a backseat to the rest of my television viewing. I just can't get excited about it. And when I would rather watch an episode of Arrested Development at for the 20th time than catch up on Heroes, then its time to let that show go.

I'm not sad about it. It happens all the time. There's just too much to watch and not enough time to waste on shows that I don't enjoy. Although it's a sad state of affairs when apparently I always have time to watch I Love Money (although in my defense, VH1 airs it, like, twenty times every day...) Anyway, sometimes you and your shows need to take a break. And sometimes, when they regain their creative stride or there's a new character or storyline that piques your interest, you pick them up again. It happened to me with several shows, including Lost, the original Beverly Hills 90210, and House.

Anyway...How I Met Your Mother left me kinda eh this week. Even a brilliant show like that can't be brilliant all the time, but it has a track record of picking up steam as each season progresses, so I'm not worried.

I'm liking the dynamic on House between House and his PI (Lucas?)...he's quirky, strange, and keenly observant, and Michael Weston and Hugh Laurie are playing well off each other, creating some fun banter, so much so that for a second, just a split second, I forgot that Robert Sean Leonard wasn't even in the episode. It's okay for now. Wilson better be coming back soon, though.

Now, somehow, it's Wednesday already. I'm just starting to realize how much television I watch on a delayed schedule, whether on my DVR or on the Internet, and how quickly the television landscape is changing (we got our DVR at home just about two years ago). Advertisers must be going nuts becoming multimedia savvy and finding ways to make commercials as interesting as the shows that sell them so that people will still watch them (I know there are some commercials I actually don't fast forward through when I'm using my DVR, but that's a topic for another post...). Anyway, I guess all media fields are changing, not just television, but it's just something I'm noticing now by actually focusing on it. Um, what was I talking about again?

Oh, right, it's Wednesday (and only two days till the weekend, or one day till my Thursday shows and four days till the new Mad Men...oy...). Why is this Wednesday better than, say, last Wednesday? Because tonight we have the premiere of Pushing Daisies. I don't love this show as much as I love some of the other sophomore shows this season, but talk about television as art! I could write an entire essay simply on the visual stylization of this show and the lyrical, poetic dialogue and narration. Oh, and the symmetry! It's amazing (pathetically, I do enjoy symmetry more than a lot of things in life). Not totally on board the Anna Friel love train, but I totally drive the Lee Pace train (excellent on this show, but he totally rocked his role on the too short lived Wonderfalls) and who woulda thunk that Chi McBride has a hilarious deadpan delivery?

Charlotte "Chuck" Charles: I had the strangest dream! I was being strangled to death with a plastic sack.
Ned: You were strangled to death with a plastic sack. [pauses] That's probably an odd thing to hear but I wasn't sure how to sugar-coat it…

This is followed by the season premiere of Private Practice, a dreadfully boring and nondescript name stuck between two creative and descriptive names (it's like how the name considered for one movie was the somewhat sad and bittersweet Goodnight, Moon and ended up being the mundane and generic Stepmom. Really? Someone thought Stepmom would be a great movie name? Please don't get me started on this - it's also another topic for another post!) Anyway, back on track...basically I watch Private Practice because of Grey's Anatomy. I liked Addison Montgomery on Grey's. And I watch it for the actors - Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman, most especially Taye Diggs (who, I would like to note as he has gained fame and popularity, I was a huge fan of 12 years ago when he was in a new, little Broadway show called Rent. That boy can sing! In fact, I might keep watching PP on the off chance the writers decide to have his character sing...) The thing is, I'm not sure I could tell you a single storyline from last season. Oh, I did enjoy the unexpected romance between Charlotte and Cooper - that was cute. And I always enjoy guest star David Sutcliffe on my screen. But if I wanted to watch a show about people who act like a bunch of high schoolers with raging hormones, I'd watch 90210. Or, apparently, I Love Money. I think I want a little more substance from this show. So we'll see what tonight brings.

Which brings me to the 10 pm premiere of Dirty Sexy Money. This show for me is just like How I Met Your Mother - it was never on my preseason list of shows to check out (yes, I do that - any excuse to make a list), but on a whim, I checked out the pilot and was immediately hooked. Again, this is a show with great actors, which always makes everything better. The main characters are billionaires, so of course there are outrageous storylines involving private flights to Italy and million dollar birthday parties and mansions and fabulous clothes and there's also a murder mystery and several love stories and there was a paternity mystery too. But like on Brothers and Sisters, these characters interact like family. I can believe that even when they don't like each other, they love each other, and there are some scenes, especially involving the Darling brothers, where I can pretend they're actually brothers. They set up a lot of loose ends at the end of last season. Can't wait to see where it goes tonight...

Tripp: [Drunk] Brian, what a wonderful wedding sermon, so much humanity, so much hope. There really is such a kind person buried deep down inside you. Deep, deep down! Inside you... somewhere!?!
Brian, Sr: Thanks dad.