Thursday, November 26, 2009

A very sunny Christmas...this ain't your grandma's Christmas DVD

So, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia released an extended Christmas episode on DVD this past week. It kinda sucks that they couldn't just air it as part of the series so everyone could see it, but I guess they were able to get away with a lot more because it was on DVD, so...I hate paying full price for DVDs but when Sunny is on its game, it's one of the funniest shows on tv so I couldn't *not* buy the thing.

I was not disappointed. This ain't your grandma's Christmas movie, that's for sure. There's a naked Danny Devito, a zombie-like attack on Santa Claus, implied prostitution, an animated elf's junk, and swearing up the wazoo...pretty much everything you'd expect from The Gang uncensored. And I must be sick, because for the most part, it was hilarious. Loved Mac's family Christmas tradition (and kudos to the casting of the young Mac, who looked exactly like a young Rob M.), loved Dennis and Dee's inability to not be selfish, even at Christmas, and using A Christmas Carol to try to get Frank to change, loved Mac and Charlie trying to buy the season's hottest toy on Christmas Eve, definitely.

And the thing is, I would be lying if I said this wasn't a heartwarming story full of the Christmas spirit. Of course, there's the vulgar Sunny twist and you get both the teary eyed Christmas morning scene plus the bonus of still seeing these selfish, twisted, crazy characters get their comeuppance, but still a heartwarming Christmas story, which was a pleasant surprise.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And we finally have our Top Chef top four

Oh, this show was trying to give me a heart attack tonight. I started out thinking they were editing Michael to be cut and then I started to get really, really nervous that Bryan was going to take the fall...which made me make a silent deal with the Top Chef gods that they could take the younger Voltaggio if I got to keep the older one for at least another episode. So even though I was starting to think I was super crushing on Michael, it turns out that Bryan - who, surprise, surprise, knows how to laugh! And did it more than one! - is the Brother Voltaggio I was pining over.

Anyway, Eli got the boot. I wasn't sorry to see him go, especially since it meant the top four I was hoping for way back when will be the ones competing in Napa. TV producers like to throw a dark horse and/or villain into the mix every now and then but I honestly believe that this season's four best chefs are the ones heading to the final and I'm very excited about that. Sometimes seeing the best compete against the best - with little to no drama amongst them, to boot! - makes for the most compelling and satisfying television. We want a winner who deserves to win. And who we like! And by "we" I mean "me."

I'm calling Kevin for the win. He's had this thing locked up since day one and unless he messes up but real good, the crown is his. This contest is his to lose. Though as we all know, as team captain, I'm still pulling for a Voltaggio upset :)

Welcome back, show! How I've missed you!

All season, How I Met Your Mother has been good, better than most shows on tv, but with the slew of new, hilarious comedies that have premiered, it's seemed...a little off its game? I don't know. Something was wrong, and if this past ep was any hint, what was wrong was that Barney and Robin finally got together.

I hate thinking it and I hate writing it even more because I have loved the idea of Barney and Robin ever since the first season episode as bros, but all season long their romance/relationship has felt wrong. I don't know if it was because the characters together just don't work or if it was because the writers were just writing them wrong as a couple, but this week's episode, the first since their break-up, was hilarious. Here, finally, was the show I fell in love with. I felt like I was watching vintage How I Met Your Mother. While HIMYM might not be the funniest sitcom ever, I think it's funniest episodes are easily in the Top 10 funniest episodes of various as much as I will miss Barney and Robin as a couple (and even now hope that it's not over for good, foolish romantic that I am!), I welcome back my show with open arms and tears of joy.

Welcome back, show!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The little things...

I'm watching the Castle episode from last night right now on Hulu and it's the little things, the little touches, the details that directors and writers and artists and production pay attention to that I love...while all the cops are wearing bulletproof vests that say "Police" on them, Castle, who is not a cop but is an author tagging along for details on his new series of books about a female NYPD detective, wears a bulletproof vest that reads "Writer."

Ha. Brilliant.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Captain Tightpants, space cowboy

Just because everyone needs to see this, although the only people who will get it are the aforementioned upthread Firefly fans...

It gets even better in that when Castle and Beckett find a stabbing victim in the graveyard who thinks he's a vampire, Buffy totally gets a shout-out (Fillion was on that as well).

Whedonverse forever!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Firefly fan alert!!!: Another reason to love Nathan Fillion and Castle

Malcolm Reynolds!

If you are any kind of self-respecting fan of the dearly departed Joss Whedon show Firefly (and I'm sure there are dozens of us! Dozens!!), you must absolutely check out the first minute of this week's episode of Castle. It made me laugh out loud and warmed my heart. And if that doesn't make you want to at least check out this show, I don't know what will. It's no Firefly. But it sure is fun.

Space cowboy! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite gimmick of this television season so far...

...the codas on Community episodes featuring characters Abed and Troy. Abed is by far my favorite character on this show, but the little quasi-bromance moments found in the coda are sometimes stupid, sometimes weird, but always funny.

And my absolute favorite so far...

The gypsy and the hobo

I didn't get to watch last night's episode of Mad Men until tonight, but this episode solidified my love for this show. The scene between Jon Hamm and January Jones when Betty confronts Don was the most powerful and moving television I've seen in years and quite possibly ever. I was literally moved to tears. It was devastating to see Don Draper's entire facade stripped away. I couldn't help but feel pride at how grown-up Betty was about her discoveries - rightfully outraged but also willing to not only listen but to hear Don. And I never realized how claustrophobic this show can make me feel (which I'm sure is it's intention with many of the scenes and characters) till I realized how free I felt as Don and Betty had their first honest conversation. Ever. A weight has been lifted. And for the first time ever also, seeing Don and Betty as much as equals as they've ever been. I can't even describe it. You have to watch it. It was a gamechanging conversation between these characters and a gamechanging moment for the series, I think. How wonderfully written and well acted that scene was, and representative of this show when it's on top of its game.

Anyway, two episodes left. If you aren't already on the Mad Men train, you really need to hop on. There's always plenty of room.

Oh, and ps, congrats to Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy, who got married to SNL's Fred Armisen this weekend (they met when Jon Hamm hosted SNL and she and John Slattery cute is that??)

Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes - From Inside the Box - Zap2it

Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes - From Inside the Box - Zap2it

Posted using ShareThis

This news is interesting, as the first time I ever heard about "The Office" and realized it might be a somewhat good show was when it won best tv comedy at the Globes in 2004.

Since I've realized how boated, boring, self-aggrandizing, and annoying television award shows are, I've stopped watching and even really caring. The Emmys were the first award show I've watched in forever, and why was that? Because Neil Patrick Harris was the host. I think the award show people have smartened up and realized that viewers may be willing to forgive the actual inaneness of said show if there is a host who is genuinely entertaining, because guess what? Entertaining makes for good tv.

Ricky Gervais is one of those people who should always be on the hosting short list and I'm glad to see he's finally been tapped. I will even go out on a limb and say that I will definitely watch the Globes this year. Because Gervais always cracks me up. Even when he's on stage for only a few minutes, even when he's a small cog in a big wheel and kind of an afterthought, he still steals the show. Am very excited about this news.

Gervais at past award shows:
60th Primetime Emmys 2008

61st Primetime Emmys 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top Chef Final Four

We haven't even gotten to Restaurant Wars yet (which, btw, is next week...can't wait!!) but just to reiterate, as if I don't talk about it enough and who I think will make it to the end, if you watched last night's Top Chef, I'm calling the top four - the brothers Voltaggio, Kevin, and Jennifer - , barring any major, super missteps, as this season's Final Four. Even without his win in the first EC (more often than not, whoever wins the first elimination challenge wins the whole thing), Kevin has been beyond solid enough that I'm calling for him to win the whole thing - deservedly so, and like Stephanie from 2 seasons ago, seemingly so nice that you don't begrudge him the win...still, in my heart, I'm still rooting for and captain of Team Voltaggio... :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just to get in my Team Voltaggio reference this week...

...on Top Chef last night when Michael was in the bottom and Bryan was obviously worried about him, so much so that he got snippy with Kevin, who appears to be one of the nicest guys on the planet, it just made me love the Volts even more...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Show, don't tell!!

Ok, my editor at my real job is always telling me that. So, if that's a must for a written medium, it must certainly be even more of a must (how that's possible, I don't know) in a visual medium like television.

This is my major gripe with Parks and Recreation this season. It's a funny enough show. It's getting better as it goes along and while it's funny enough, I don't think it's hit its stride yet. Anyway, last season the character Ann was dating the character Andy, and Amy Poehler's co-worker crush, Mark, was a bit of a ladies man cad but with a sweet side, and they briefly, very briefly in the last two or three episodes hinted at a possible romantic entanglement between Mark and Ann. It was intriguing. It's a cliche but I like the whole bad-boy-reforms-for-the-right-girl storyline. Yes, sometimes I'm that easy. But the best part was that Ann, though she broke up with Andy, totally rebuffed Mark. Bad boy's gotta earn that right girl, love.

Ok, so this season starts and suddenly, in the very first episode, Mark asks Ann on a date and Ann says yes. Without even so much as hemming or hawing. And these are the exact words out of her mouth:

"Mark was brought to my hospital the night of the accident. He was here for a week. I think when his head hit the ground it must have knocked something loose because he's actually a pretty nice guy now."

In the very next scene, Mark asks Ann out, and she says no. Not because he's a cad, but because he's sorta her best friend's ex. She so wants to say yes.

When I watched that, I wanted to reach into the television and shake Rashida Jones, vicariously shaking the writers. Don't just tell me that Mark is now a nice guy. *Show* me he's a nice guy. It's difficult but definitely not impossible to show when I'm writing a news story, but when you're using a visual medium, *showing* is your main form of communication. How hard would it have been to show me Mark acting like a decent human being worthy of consideration for a date by Ann. But no, Ann says he's nice, so now he's nice. And the writers use a fall into a pit as a deus ex machina to completely rewrite Mark's character and make him both lame and boring.

Anyway, rant over. Amy Poehler's character of Leslie is smarter this season, which is a pleasant change. Chris Pratt, forever my crush Bright from Everwood, is now a series regular. Ron, the parks and recreation boss who hates government, hasn't changed and that's a plus. They've found better use of the character April. And I'm loving Louis CK's police officer Dave as Leslie's awkward yet earnest love interest.

Back to rant momentarily: Trust in your viewers' intelligence. We don't have to be spoon fed information to understand a change in character/story. End rant.

Parks and Recreation is on NBC on Thursdays.

Keeping it in the family...

This is Steve McQueen. He's from movies, not tv, and he died when I was very little, but I've had a crush on him ever since I saw him in The Great Escape. Good-looking, rugged, brave, and a rebel to boot.

Now, this is Steven R. McQueen.

He was just a kid when he played Efrem's prodigy piano student on Everwood, but he's 21 now and playing troubled stoner Jeremy Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries. If you think there's a resemblance in the way they look, you're right. There's a reason they have the same name (well, not the exact same name, since Steve's real first name was Terence, but close enough) - Steven is Steve's grandson. And I have a huge crush on them both. Maybe it's a little twisted. Or maybe it's incredibly sweet, tying together the generations. Maybe a little bit of both? Either way, if you've never watched The Great Escape, rent it. And if you don't watch The Vampire Diaries, you may want to check out Everwood. It could be incredibly cloying at times, but mostly this show about a father and son learning to be father and son and even friends would make me cry. Check it out.

Go now. Go!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jon and Kate Plus 8 = nauseated eye-rolling

Ok, I'm sure we're all sick of hearing about the Gosselins ever since their marital troubles launched them from being just the basis of a nice, normal family-oriented TLC show to front-page tabloid fodder, but they're in the headlines again this week with the news the show will now be called "Kate Plus Eight" so I thought I'd just quickly comment.

I used to watch this show, way back before the majority of America discovered them. I found all the Gosselins fascinating - bossy Kate, harried Jon, and the adorable twins and sextuplets.

The best part was, I used to feel badly for Jon. The way they were portrayed on the show, Kate treated him like her ninth child and besides not seeming to be able to do any right in his wife's eyes, he seemed to love his kids but be completely overwhelmed by them.

Now, of course, we all know that Jon is a complete douche. I don't care if you got married too young and your wife pressured you into having more kids than you were ready for - you made those choices. You know Armageddon is nigh when I begin to feel sorry for Kate.

But I mostly feel sorry for those kids. They deserve to have as normal a childhood as possible, which was hard enough with the TLC show (which, to be fair, is also a great source of income for a young couple struggling to raise 8 kids) but the twins are old enough to read about and see what the tabloids are saying about their parents and the sextuplets will be soon enough. Divorce is hard enough on kids as it is without the media circus.

And kids, I'm sorry if one day you're surfing the Internet and find this post where I call your dad a douche. But if you're old enough to know what that means, then you're old enough to know that I'm pretty much not wrong...and I have just two words of advice to you all for getting through this with minimal mental and emotional scarring: sibling solidarity!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday Night Live season premiere

Host was Megan Fox, musical guest U2.

Not much was asked of Megan Fox, and so she didn't disappoint. There was one sketch actually where I thought she was pretty good. And as someone terrified of being in a plane crash, a sketch about a plane crash cracking me up must be a good sign...

Weekend Update used two of the most annoying characters currently played: Kenan Thompson's French comedian and Kristen Wiig's "just kidding" lady. Love Kristen Wiig, think she's super talented, but fast forward.

Oh, and one of the new cast members debuted a biker chick character built around using the word "fricking" in every fricking sentence and totally dropped the f-bomb instead in one instance. That's certainly a way to instantly make your mark.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So how was The Good Wife?

It was good. Not great. Not terrible. Like I thought, not exactly my cup of tea. I'm not sure I'm demographic they're going for anyway, but it's something else to watch when I've burned through all my other shows and don't have any good books to read to occupy my time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


...Cougar Town was pretty decent - both funny and touching (that last part I was surprised about, though considering the balance Scrubs has always struck between the two, I guess I shouldn't have been) ... Courteney Cox was good. Christa Miller's lips annoyed. Dan Byrd is a Michael Cera waiting to happen. Ian Gomez will always be Javier from Felicity to me but is still welcome back on my tv. Josh Hopkins can dress up in footie pajamas for me any time. I will definitely be tuning in again.

Top Chef: Team Voltaggio Michael Division shines on

So, now Voltaggio wins tonight on Top Chef, though Michael was in the top 3 in the quickfire challenge and the top four for the elimination challenge. What I particularly enjoyed about this episode was both Voltaggio brothers, Jen, and Kevin all doing well, and while Bryan was the only one not to make the top four, it was nice to be able to say, before the judges even tasted their food, that I knew they had each nailed their dish. Why? Am I psychic? Only sometimes. But no, because they are talented chefs who take their craft seriously and are fairly drama-free, so you know they're on the show to cook and to cook well, not for the exposure and fame. Oh, I love seeing contestants I like kick the asses of those I want to strangle...anyway, this week Michael represents Team Voltaggio and congrats also go to Kevin for winning the elimination challenge. I like Kevin a lot, although I would like him better, I think, if his last name was Voltaggio.

Team Voltaggio FTW! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Must watch (eventually) shows: Castle

There are so many shows on television that even when you filter out all the crap, there are still too many to ever watch, even with DVRs and episodes posted on the Internet. The fact that most networks have jumped on the Internet-posting bandwagon is a great joy for me because even though it may take me weeks or even months, as opposed to hours or days, it allows me to watch series, and quality series at that, that I might otherwise be forced to completely miss.

This is my method for the shows that don't make the "must" list, for the shows that I don't watch week to week but which I use repeat season to catch up on. And it's not that they're not good shows. In fact, I enjoy them very much (again, thank you to the Internet gods!). But not every show can be an Arrested Development or a Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Into this category falls a show like Castle, and I'm going to highlight Castle because I really do enjoy it. It's easy television. You can watch an episode and not be (completely) lost. But it's also enjoyable television. It's not Emmy-caliber writing, but the stories also aren't boring and also don't insult your intelligence. The characters entertain me and are quite likeable. And then there is, of course, Nathan Fillion.

The first time I saw Fillion he was playing an oafish ogre of a boyfriend in Blast from the Past. But then Joss Whedon cast him as roguish rebel smuggler and ship captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly and I realized how wrong I had been to dismiss him. (Side note: If you've never seen Firefly, watch it! Go now. Go!)

In Castle, Fillion plays crime writer Rick Castle who because of his connections (everyone, even the mayor, is a fan) gets to tail Stana Katic's Detective Kate Beckett for inspiration for his next book. Castle is a bit like Mal Reynolds with the jokes and the always getting into trouble and the being smart and observant and the loyalty to the people he loves. Played by anyone else, Castle might have come off as annoying. But as played by Fillion, he is utterly endearing.

Castle, which had its second season premiere last night, is on ABC on Mondays at 10.

The Good Wife

Series premiere is tonight at 10 on CBS. Now, this show about a woman who's politico husband has an affair that goes public and is jailed for committing crimes, forcing her to return to a law career she gave up years ago, doesn't seem up my alley at all. It's been getting super positive reviews. I'm reluctant to watch it and reluctant to miss it.

I like Julianna Margulies, who plays the lead character.

I'm a fan of both Matt Czuchry and Josh Charles as well as Christine Baranski, who all have supporting roles. I've had a crush on Josh Charles since he was prepster Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society. (I beg you, please don't use that info to try to figure out how old I am!! People of all ages should watch Dead Poets Society!...)

I suppose 'tis the season of giving first and second chances to new tv shows, though...I guess I don't know yet what kind of tone this drama will set, and I guess I won't find out unless I give it a, I don't currently have any shows on Tuesdays that I watch.

Fine! Ow ow've twisted my arm. Let's add The Good Wife to the list of new shows this season that I'm checking out. We'll see how it fares.

Monday, September 21, 2009

As a new television season begins... are the new shows I have already checked out and will be planning to check out, not that you asked, but in case you care:

Community (Thursdays, NBC) - This Joel McHale/Chevy Chase vehicle premiered last week, though I had already watched the pilot ahead of time, as it was available online. So far, I have watched this episode three times. Joel McHale, always hilariously deadpan on The Soup, brings that same persona to his role as a charming/sleazy lawyer enrolled in a community college in this show, but it was Danny Pudi's movie-quoting/Aspergers-ish Abed who stole the show for me. Looks extremely promising.

Modern Family (Wednesdays, ABC) - premieres this week, but got a sneak peek at the pilot. About the now typical atypical modern family. Wasn't completely drawn in but there were two moments where I literally burst out laughing, so I'm willing to stick with it for awhile as it finds its stride.

Flashforward (ABC) - If you know me, you know that I try to stay away from dramas, but this show, about everyone in the world blacking out at the same time and flashing forward to a moment in their lives 6 months in the future, seems intriguing, though I don't know how this premise can be sustained as a series. Saw the first 15 minutes of the pilot and there are lots of explosions and action, which I do enjoy in most of my dramas, and you can't really go wrong with Joseph Fiennes in a lead role. In my humble opinion.

Cougartown (ABC) - now, I really really hate the term "cougar," meaning an older woman who goes after younger men - I think it's kinda demeaning and at this point, incredibly overused, but the preview I saw for this Courteney Cox vehicle looked pretty funny, and it's being brought to us by Bill Lawrence, who created one of my favorite comedies, Scrubs, so it definitely deserves a chance.

V (ABC) - I'm kinda eh about this show, which centers on aliens arriving on earth to "take care of us," and those who believe them and align with them and those who think we're being tricked and try to get to the truth. It looks a little too sci-fi for my taste, but it's getting a lot of hype, so the premiere is going on my list.

Day One (NBC) - now I don't know a lot about this show, which is about a group of survivors after an apocalyptic world event, but the premise (kinda like Jericho two seasons ago) sounds intriguing, if done right.

Vampire Diaries (Wednesdays, CW) - we already know my thoughts on this show, but as a new show that I am checking out, I'm including it on this list.

I actually thought this list was going to be longer. Once the midseason starts, it probably will. And of course, this is on top of all the other returning shows already on my tv viewing schedule.

The bottom line is, of course, that I will be very busy in the next few weeks/months whittling this list down to the deserving few shows I will actually get hooked on that won't get immediately cancelled. Expect updates. Do not expect to see me in person any time soon... :)

Premiere watch: Battle of the H's

How I Met Your Mother is on CBS at 8 pm. I've missed the gang and if these preview clips have me cracking up, I can't wait for this episode and this season to finally begin!

House also premieres tonight at 8 pm on Fox. Sometimes I need to take a break from this show but when it's on point, I am blown away. The first part of the season 4 finale is still one of my favorite episodes of any show, ever. The season 6 premiere promises to be one to watch. The preview gave me chills. This one isn't it, but it's still good anyway.

DVR one, watch the other. Doesn't matter which, but make sure you check out both, ya dig?

Emmy Review: Pass or fail?

I'm happy to report that this year, the Emmys have received a pass, thanks in large part to NPH, who now more than ever I want to be best friends with.

I'll admit right off, I didn't watch the show in its entirety - I switched back and forth between the Emmys and the Giants-Cowboys game. But really, who can sit through the Emmys (or any awards show for that matter) in their entirety? I caught the important things, I think:

- NPH's opening song and dance number. Boy, does that man have a set of pipes on him. Best line? "Straight from 'Mad Men' there’s Joan/Ah, the curves she has shown/It would make a blind man say 'damn'/She could turn a gay straight/Oh wait, never mind, there’s Jon Hamm!"

- Kristin Chenoweth's surprise win for best supporting actress in a comedy. Boy, is she tiny! Her sincere tears were moving and she still managed to be funny. RIP Pushing Daisies.

- Dr. Horrible "interrupting" part of the broadcast. And Nathan Fillion to boot! If you haven't seen "Dr. Horrible" yet, go to Hulu and watch it. Go now!

- The broadcast actually coming in at just a little over three hours...when will they learn, though, that they could easily bring this show down to 2- 2 1/2 hours? Not saying that miniseries/movies/reality/variety programming awards are any less important than the big ticket items, because they're not, but they're far less interesting and frankly, people don't care. You deserve your Emmy just as much as Tina Fey, Person-who's-name-I-don't-remember, but that doesn't mean I want to watch you get it...

- Mad Men and 30 Rock winning best drama and best comedy. Redundant, yes. Predictable, yes. But sometimes, you don't need or want an upset. Both of these shows are outstanding, quality television and highly support my "tv is art" theory, and while I will blaspheme a bit and say that I personally find How I Met Your Mother 10 times funnier than 30 Rock, both 30 Rock and Mad Men were deserving of these wins and sometimes you just want to see deserving nominees win.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Emmys tonight hosted by Neil Patrick Harris

Award shows have become, at best, tedious and predictable, but tonight I recommend everyone watch the Emmys for one reason and one reason only: Neil Patrick Harris.

Harris is easily the best thing about How I Met Your Mother (premieres tomorrow night on it!), making Barney Stinson a hilarious, sympathetic, 3-dimensional character. If you've never seen him in the web-based, Joss Whedon-written miniseries sensation Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, watch it now. Besides that, though, NPH is a showman. After his stint on Doogie Howser, he became Broadway-bound and quite successfully, too. He knows how to sing, he knows how to act, he knows how to own a stage and put on a quality live performance. He hosted the Tonys this year and I think he might be able to single-handedly redeem the Emmys, at least for this year. So check it out! But don't forget to DVR Mad Men, too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday television traffic(jam)

I hate traffic. Mostly in real life, because it's usually for the stupidest, inane reasons.

A traffic jam on tv is not quite as irritating, in that I don't want to scream obscenities (usually) and I don't want to pull someone's hair and scratch their eyes out (for the most part), but why does every single network have to program their best shows on the same night?? My DVR can only record 2 shows at once! And will be doing so tonight from 8-11.

So on tonight's Thursday Television Trafficjam, here's what you can expect (maybe it won't be so terrible for you...maybe you are actually a more discerning television viewer who can limit what you watch. In which case, why are you here?? This blog ain't for you! :)):

8-9 pm
Bones (Fox) - not a must watch. It got kinda silly at the end of last season, but I do enjoy many of the episodes and the playful-protective relationship between Bones (Emily Deschanel, who I really like) and Booth (David Boreanaz, who I love love love!)...
The Vampire Diaries (CW)- as we've already established, my new guilty pleasure
Parks and Recreation (NBC) - didn't love it last season, but I adore Amy Poehler and I see potential...still giving it a shot to find it's footing.

9-10 pm
Fringe (Fox) - I have yet to get into this show. I want to like it. I have liked the episodes I've seen. Plus, Josh Jackson? Delish. Season premiere would be a logical place to try to pick it up again.
The Office (NBC) - very excited for the new season. I love and have missed my Dunder Mifflin gang.
Community (NBC) - new show, have already watched the pilot and enjoyed it.

10-11 pm
Project Runway (Lifetime) - you're either in or you're out, and Project Runway is in...
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) - somehow this show just gets funnier and funnier. I think the actors know their characters now and I never get tired of seeing the gang try to act smart and failing miserably.

So as you can see, a few of the hours have three shows crammed into where only two shows can be recorded. Grey's Anatomy hasn't even premiered yet, which will add to the glut. New 30 Rock episodes haven't begun yet, which will add to the glut. Baseball is still on, which will add to the glut. Those shows that don't get recorded will have to be watched on the computer (thank God most networks have jumped on the video-posting bandwagon!), but that's still at least five hours of television I need to keep up on. Thank God nothing good comes on on Saturdays. That's how long it usually takes me til to catch up on all my Thursday shows. At least it's a traffic jam of shows I like. If only traffic in real life were that much fun...

Top Chef: Team Voltaggio for the win!!

I don't watch a lot of reality tv. I did watch the first season of Survivor. I tuned into a couple of seasons of Real World.

But shows wear people eat gross things and cover themselves in spiders for money? Not interested.

Shows where women (or men) compete and degrade and humiliate themselves on national television to "win" the "love" of someone? Just makes me angry.

Shows where people sit around and do nothing except drink and fight and get it on and we get to indulge our voyeuristic curiosity? Makes me want to give up any hope of there being anything good and creative and purposeful and redemptive about television...

But as someone who has always been anti reality tv, I will recant and concede that there is a whole other genre of reality tv, embodied in my tv-watching repertoire by Project Runway and Top Chef, where like Survivor or The Bachelor, it's a competition for a prize, but where the winner is putting to use a skill that they have or pursuing a passion of theirs to win a prize to help them achieve a dream and a goal related to said skill. Winners are (for the most part) chosen on merit and effort. That kind of reality tv I can get behind.

Anyway, the latest seasons of Project Runway and Top Chef are currently airing, on Lifetime and Bravo, respectively. I started watching Top Chef during the middle of the second season and was immediately hooked. It's interesting, because I don't cook. Mostly because I can't cook. So while I am easily impressed by someone who can, say, simply whip up a tomato sauce from scratch, I am blown away by people who can conceive and execute anything even more complex than that, figuring out flavors and textures and how they'll work together and how to coordinate what needs to be cooked when and how to do it and just, all that jazz. Cooking like that is an art.

Of course, it's also interesting that I enjoy this show because I have a very unsophisticated palate. If you told me I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, if it's something I like, I wouldn't mind. When foods get too fancy, I get annoyed. Just ask my father. At Thanksgiving, he has to make two sides of stuffing - fancy cornbread stuffing with raisins and nuts and all sorts of other experimental flavors and additions for the group and then also normal, regular stuffing. For me. I am very picky and particular about my food in that I like things plain and simple. My favorite cereal is Cheerios. Plain Cheerios. So I would never be able to create the dishes these chefs create and I could definitely never be a Top Chef judge. Also, unlike on Project Runway, where you can see what the designers have created, its hard as a viewer of Top Chef to really judge the winning and losing dishes because we can't actually taste it, but we can see if it looks good, and for the most part, the judges do a pretty good job of describing why a dish did or didn't work.

Anyway, I have completely digressed from the exact topic of this post, which is Team Voltaggio, of which I am captain. Every season, top contenders start to emerge, and while one or two dark horses might make it to the final four, two or three are usually no surprises, being consistently good throughout the competition. This season, that emergence has appeared much more quickly in the form of contestants Kevin, Jen, and the Voltaggio brothers, Bryan and Michael. Every week I expect all four of these chefs to do well, and every week, they do. In fact, Bryan has already won three elimination challenges. And while in past seasons certain top contenders have annoyed me to no end (yes, I'm looking at you, Hung), I would be perfectly happy to see all four of these chefs in the final four. It's easy to root for people who are not only talented but who seem like people you could be friends with. Or at least don't want to kick in the shins.

And while I enjoy seeing all of them do well, I have a special fondness in my heart for (translation: I am totally crushing on) the brothers Voltaggio, and I've been enjoying not only watching them cook but watching their playful and competitive sibling rivalry as they both support and root for each other to do well but also as they try to one-up each other in every competition.

I am looking forward to the rest of the season playing out (although I am not looking forward to the return of awful, annoying guest judge Toby Young) and with finding out which, if any, of my friends would be into wearing matching Team Voltaggio t-shirts whilst watching the show together.

I leave you with my TV Crush(es) of the Day:

Bryan Voltaggio

Michael Voltaggio

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mad it!

If you've been following this blog, then you already know the love I have for Mad Men. I'm the first to admit that at least half of the shows I watch on tv, if not moreso, are all about the entertainment factor, about removing myself from reality and just having a laugh...most of my shows are comedies, for the reason that there's too much reality in my life and I need an escape. Even the dramas I love, like Buffy and Angel, are also excellent at bringing the humor.

So, how does a self described comedy whore like myself fall for a show like Mad Men?

Mad Men is not a comedy. Sometimes characters say funny things, but situations are not played for laughs. Characters don't normally crack jokes.

And those shows that I enjoy that don't make me laugh tend toward being action-packed and fast-paced. Mad Men is not one of these shows either.

Mad Men is about the words. It is about the silent moments in between those well chosen words. Mad Men is slow and deliberate and the carefully crafted mise en scene, that is, everything within the frame of every shot. It's about the feelings evoked and the nostalgia and the universal themes being acted out before us.

I've written about this before, so excuse me for the repetition, but in college, I wrote my senior thesis on how television can be considered a modern art form, using an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example. I almost consider myself lucky that Mad Men was not on the air back then, as I would have been overwhelmed by the material available to me for my thesis. Because that's what Mad Men is - it's art. There are shows you watch to be scared or to feel good about your own life by making or just to laugh, but Mad Men is a show you watch and then think about and then talk about and then watch again and then analyze. Mad Men is the kind of show you want to dissect and try to understand and that you want to write a thesis paper about.

Yeah, it's sickening. And so very exciting. Shows like Mad Men are what make me fall in love all over again with both writing and television.

Mad Men, tonight, AMC, 10 pm...ya dig? :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

This vampire groupie talks about The Vampire Diaries

Ok, so this is where my inner geek is going to shine through as I wax poetic about a new show on The CW, The Vampire Diaries.

Is it great art, like Mad Men? No.
Is it comedic genius, like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Hardly.
Is it just another Twilight clone, jumping on the hugely popular vampire bandwagon? Not even.

The Vampire Diaries is based on a series of books that came out in the early 1990s and which I devoured over and over again when I was in junior high, so really, you could make a better argument that the books started the current vampire trend than you could that the show is following it. Anyway, when I found out last spring that they were turning the books into a tv show, I think I literally squealed with excitement. There has been a serious vampire void in my life since first Buffy and then Angel went off the air. I don't watch True Blood, I'm not sure why not, and both Twilight the book and the movie just didn't cut it.

So, did the premiere last night cut it?

I think I'm hooked. Some characters and storylines have been tweaked, but the important parts are pretty faithful to the books. It wasn't corny or cheesy, which I was worried about, the music was good, the acting pretty decent, and most importantly, Stefan and Damon, the vampire brothers who were two of my first literary crushes, as portrayed by Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder respectively, look and act exactly as I pictured them.

All in all, I'm very excited about this show!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How I fell in love with How I Met Your Mother

If you've never watched How I Met Your Mother, it's way past time that you start.

If you started but stopped, it's way past time you kiss and make up and start watching again.

And if I'm preaching to the choir, then can I hear an "Amen"?

Season 5 of How I Met Your Mother kicks off on CBS in just a couple of weeks, and I am preparing by watching this show on DVD, from the very beginning. Every new television season, I have the intention of giving most, if not all, new shows, a two shot deal - a good pilot is tricky and isn't always indicative of the what the show will become, but at the very least, I do try to catch most pilots, unless just absolutely nothing about the premise grabs me whatsoever. So, in 2005, 2 shows premiering caught my attention in particular - Kitchen Confidential and How I Met Your Mother, the former because it starred Bradley Cooper aka Scruffy Will from "Alias" as well as Nicholas Brendon and the latter because it starred Alyson Hannigan. Now, Nick Brendon and Aly Hannigan are both alumni of my all time favorite show of shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is what boosted the appeal of these two new series. To be honest, there wasn't much else about them that really made me feel compelled to watch. Kitchen Confidential never even made it through the first season, and though I have that season on DVD and love to bits many of the players, I don't think I watched beyond the first three episodes.

How I Met Your Mother had me hooked from the beginning.

As I said before, I usually give shows I think might possibly interest me a two-to-three show leeway. Pilots have too much to establish and introduce to really give you a feel for what the show is offering, but from that very first episode, I never stopped watching. And the funniest part? Alyson Hannigan was my least favorite part of the pilot. In the four seasons since, I have grown to love her again as Lily Aldrin rather than as Willow Rosenberg, but it's an ensemble show about friends that kinda filled the void of Friends...and then went beyond. Talking about the exact parts and pieces of this show that make me love it is a whole other post, but I just thought it appropriate to highlight this quirky, hilarious, moving, and very real comedy in a year when it has actually garnered an Emmy nod for Best Comedy...Neil Patrick Harris is the standout actor and Barney Stinson is the standout character, but when I watch this show about 20 and 30 something friends living in New York, their interactions and actions and feelings and the things they say are the perfect representation of me and my friends, 20 and 30 somethings living in New York (and I'm sure it translates, even if you're not a New Yorker - one of the main characters is Canadian, and the resulting Canadian jokes are half the fun - sorry, Jonathan (my Canadian friend)! I love you!!)

The point is, How I Met Your Mother is one of the funniest, heartwarming, and real shows on tv right now. Its Emmy nod is overdue and well deserved. And I can't wait for the next season to begin.

Suit up! :)

It's gonna be legen- wait for it! - dary!