Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Young people don't know anything. Especially that they're young."

Oh, Don Draper. How I've missed you!

Welcome back to Mad Men, fellow tv sluts! It's been almost an entire year since we last visited Sterling Cooper Ad Agency, and I for one am glad to be back. It's 1962, and we've skipped ahead, what? A year? A year and a half? Something like that. The point is, time has passed.

Things have changed since last season; Don's revelation regarding the importance of his family in last year's season finale means that he goes home right after work and seems to have cut out the cheating. Although only time will tell on that one. Unfortunately for him, he seems to be having a bit of trouble in the, umm, bedroom department. Hearing Betty's, "it's alright, we have all night" reassurances was hard to take, especially since Don has always been the epitome of manliness on the show. Although that's probably the point.

Speaking of Betty, I love the idea of her harnessing her sexuality and using it, not necessarily as a weapon, but definitely as a way to up her power. After seeing her breakdown last season, it's nice to see her out and about (riding horses, etc...a metaphor perhaps?) and not trapped in the kitchen. I hope this doesn't mean she'll start a secret life as a call girl though, because I'm pretty sure that's already being done on another show. Also, I'm sure people will object to her using her sexuality to get what she wants, but you know what? She doesn't have a whole lot of other options. So I say, you go girl. Although that run-in with the mechanic could have easily turned into the plot of a CSI:1962, so she needs to be careful. Blatant flirting with a tow-truck driver on a deserted road at night is probably not the safest way to get your jollies.

The most interesting character change thus far though has been Peggy. She's a full-fledged copy-writer now, and is sitting at the table with the rest of the boys. She's definitely standing up for herself, and her talking down of Don's new assistant was priceless. Perhaps she's been taking lessons from Joan (one of my other favorite characters). We didn't actually see the two of them interact this episode, but I think their relationship has definitely changed. Joan on one hand told the new assistant to respect Peggy, but then turned around and stuck the copier in Peggy's office. Interesting. Maybe Joan is jealous of Peggy's moving up in the company while is she still only in charge of the secretaries?

Also, there was some definite awkwardness with Peggy and Pete, which was inevitable. He has no idea she was pregnant, and we have no idea what happened to her baby. I assume she put it up for adoption, but who knows? I cannot WAIT for when Peggy tells him the truth. Fat farm, my ass. Pete is such a douchebag. Even the actor's connection to the Buffyverse (what up, Connor?) can't save him from my wrath.

So much happened in this episode, but the interesting thing is, it was all in the characterization and in the things people said (and didn't say) to one another. In terms of actual action, there seemed to be very little going on, but it's all broiling under the surface. The biggest news is probably the arrival of the new copier in the office, who knows what repercussions that will have? Well, I suppose the hiring of a bunch of 24 year old copy-writers will make some waves, but we'll have to wait and see.

By the way, Ken, Paul, and Harry are all still totally interchangeable to me. Although Paul (or Harry?) has the beard now, so at least that will help. But Salvatore has the real beard, if you catch my meaning.

PS: Cut-throat Bitch (a.k.a. Amber) is back on the show after her untimely death on House! Woot!

Welcome back, CTB! Love her.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The House, M.D. Formula

At my roommate's behest, I finally sat down with the first season of House, M.D. Ass hat doctors are definitely not my thing, but she convinced me that House's acerbic style would grow on me. Funnily enough, it did. With a few significant looks and a tricked-out cane, Hugh Laurie turns one of the most misanthropic bastards on TV into one of the most like-able tragic heroes ... though I wouldn't dare say it to his face.

The only drawback of watching this show marathon-style (two to three episodes a night) is that the formula becomes painfully obvious. To wit:
1. The patient is shown falling ill in an unexpected and/or hilarious way. Cue theme.
2. House is forced to take an interest by one of his minions.
3. The team's first diagnosis is proven wrong when the treatment causes the patient's condition to worsen. House takes a moment to torture his minions.
4. House is forced to interact with the patient and/or family to get to the truth.
5. He decides on a risky treatment that will almost certainly kill the patient (but never does).
6. Something he learned/saw during the walk-in clinic will lead him to the answer.
7. House delivers the final diagnosis and, in a shocking turn of events, the patient is saved!
8. Instead of accepting the family's heartfelt signs of gratitude, House skulks off into the corner to pop a few Vicodin.
Mix in some of House's good-natured racism/ chauvinism/ antisemitism, ordering his minions to break the law (and they usually do), and a bit of sexual tension with Wilson Cuddy, and you've got a show! My roommate assures me that the writer's break from the formula in later seasons. And from my recollection of the first episode I ever watched - the season four finale, "Wilson's Heart" - that is largely true. So I will stick with my prescription of House, M.D. ... at least until this nasty rash goes away.

Friday, July 25, 2008

No, Will, no!

I've mentioned my new obsession with So You Think You Can Dance several times on this blog, but Wednesday night things hit new heights when I realized I loved all the male dancers and didn't want any of them to go home. Especially not Will or Twitch. And then guess what happened?

America let me down.

I mean, America would have let me down no matter who got sent home, but I could probably have dealt with losing Mark better than losing Will. Even if Mark does eerily resemble Orlando Bloom.

But, not Will!! I love him. He's awesome. And of course, he got sent home.

Now, I'm not saying I'm a dance expert, but when it comes down to it, Will was probably the most talented dancer in the competition. Even to an untrained eye like mine, that was pretty clear. But this is a show where America votes, so things like who is actually the best don't matter that much.

And at least it's not like America hated Will. America loved him. Someone had to go though, and I guess it was just his time. Boo!

My new pick for the winner of the show: Twitch. Katee or Chelsea could definitely win, but I think more women watch this show and are probably more likely to vote for a guy. Especially a cute guy.

Bye, Will! I'll miss you! Call me!

Seriously, how precious is he?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Secret Boyfriend of the Week: Brooding Baddie with Eyeliner Edition

Richard Armitage is an immensely popular actor in his native England. Here, not so much. If you know him, it's probably because you are lucky enough to have BBC America and have watched the hot mess of a Robin Hood remake.

Because the show is...weird. It's set during medieval times (it's Robin Hood, duh), but the producers have purposefully tried to inject modern elements into the show to make it more accessible to current audiences. Robin runs around in hoodies and Marion wears camo skirts (NOT kidding) for goodness sake. The result is a show that is not quite as goofy as Xena and Hercules, but is definitely not on the hard-hitting end of the spectrum.

Did I mention it's also addictive like crack?

Anyhoodle, one of the things that really works is Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisbourne. He's smoldery, he's brooding, he wears leather ALL THE TIME, and he is eeeevil. Like, leaves his bastard-born baby in the woods to die, type of evil. But he's also really freakin hot. So we love him.

I told you there was eyeliner.

Armitage also takes what could have been a one-note villain and manages to inject juuuust enough glimpses of humanity and complexity to keep you guessing. The only thing that kind of doesn't make sense is how he insists on loving Marion when she basically lies and betrays him every two seconds when he could just travel through time and space and come rescue me from my normal every-day existence.

But that seems unlikely, right?

If you need more reason to love Armitage, you should check out North and South, a BBC adaptation of a Victorian novel that is kind of like Pride and Prejudice set during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. I made my friend Kristin watch it one day (all in one go) and I think she is now a full-fledged member of the Armitage Army.

He smolders and broods in this one too, but there is less leather and more cravat.

For your last Armitage sampling, I recommend the final episodes of The Vicar of Dibley. Actually, I recommend the entire series, since it might be one of the funniest shows ever made, but in the two-episode finale Armitage plays the suitor of the long-single Vicar, Geraldine Grainger (played by Dawn French). He's charming, funny, not evil, and earnest. And, of course, still hot.

And tall. According to IMDB he is 6'2', but I swear he is taller than that. Tall, cool glass of water, coming right up!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Horrible End

Spoilers below!

On Saturday, the final act of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was posted.

I should have seen it coming.

I'm a huge Whedon fan (duh), and so I don't know why I was so taken aback by the ending. After all, Joss rarely goes for the happy ending and always goes for the sucker punch. Penny's inadvertent death by Dr. Horrible's destroyed death ray played like authentic greek tragedy, and Dr. Horrible getting what he wanted (inducted into the Evil League of Evil) but at the cost of his very sooooul was pure poetic irony.

Like I said, I should have seen it coming.

But I didn't. For a story that opened with such a sweet, funny beginning (I defy anyone to not get that opening number about the freeze ray stuck in their head), it ended on a completely dark note. In the beginning Billy's purpose is to do bad to get the girl for the express purpose of loving her, but by the end, Dr. Horrible has done bad and now feels nothing. Not only did he lose Penny, but he also lost any capacity for emotion he had.

I suppose going back and rewatching would lend all sorts of clues and foreshadowing, after all, at the end of Act II, Dr. Horrible tells the audience he is ready to kill. And because Neil Patrick Harris is so good, we believe him. But in the end, when he is standing there with the gun ready to kill Captain Hammer....he hesitates. But with Penny's death, there is no mercy, there is no remorse, there is nothing.

Part III wasn't all darkness though. Nathan Fillion of course brought the funny ("I hate the homeless.....ness"), and it was cool to see the other members of the League (Bad Horse is an actual horse! And look, it's....Fake Thomas Jefferson?). But all in all, it was sad. Not a downer, but sad. Genuinely sad. And that's what made it good. The sadness wasn't gratuitous, it was earned, and it wasn't followed by disappointment (not a lot, anyway). It was real.

And come on. We shouldn't have expected things to turn out well for a character named Dr. Horrible, right?

I should have seen it coming.

You can read rumors of pending sequels, Broadway shows, and special DVD extras here. AND read Joss' live chat at here. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sing WITH me and Joss!

So, only 2 acts of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog have been posted online but I'm hooked. I had intended merely to stream them from the website and wait until the stellar DVD (they're talking about doing a musical commentary in addition to a regular commentary). But when Act 1 went live on Tuesday the sites crashed. And the only way to get my fix was iTunes. But hey, $3.99 is not a bad price for Joss!

I'll admit I've never been a Neil Patrick Harris fan. I've only seen one ep of How I Meet Your Mother. And I was never a Doogie Howser fan but NPH is PERFECT in this role. In fact, everyone is perfectly cast. Sure I knew Felicia Day from Buffy but I think I might have to check her out on The Guild (and being both a nerd and a WoW player I can't believe I haven't done so already).

The story is nice but its the music that makes it all, of course. I keep watching and re-watching Act 1 because I love the opening tune. It is absolutely stuck in my head. Now, someone mentioned she thought that musically it was rather simplistic and at first I agreed. Joss is a word-smith first and foremost and his lyrics show this. But I love the musical layers.

I did not grow up on musical theater so when I first heard Jesus Christ Superstar it was the start of something but then I found Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Rent. And the way these musicals layer lyrics on top of lyrics, music on top of music, and theme on top of theme astounds me. Watching Anthony Stewart Head and Amber Benson sing their "duet" in Once More With Feeling is rewarding but seeing NPH and Nathan Fillion then NPH and Felicia Day do it is marvelous. I can't wait until Saturday. At least I'll have Dark Knight to distract me. Until then... SING WITH ME!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cotton Candy of Television

I know I ranted about reality television only a few short months ago...but, it's summer! I need my fluffy, no-brain reality tv programs! And it started out small. When Design Star came back, I had to watch it. And as I was waiting for Project Runway to start, I decided to check out Shear Genius. Oh, and My Life on the D-List of course. AND then everyone seemed to be talking about So You Think You Can Dance. AND THEN I discovered Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America...

I think I need an intervention.

I'm just not sure how it happened. I think it might be Bravo's fault. Because it was Bravo that started it all for me with Project Runway (I have never been a fan of American Idol btw).

Bravo is like that high school kid who hangs out near your middle school and tries to sell you some weed. "Just try it," he says, as some stray pieces of brown hair fall across his eyes, obscuring his face and making you think, "wow, this guy is way cooler than I will ever be." "You'll like it and it doesn't taste bad. Come on, you want to act like a grown-up or like a little junior high baby?"

Well, duh. I want to be a grown-up! So I will watch your pre-packaged, high sodium content, ramen noodle television shows. When the weather becomes so hot and humid that I can literally feel my hair frizz as soon as I step outside, I will switch my brain off and just be entertained. And you know what? I am tired of defending myself. I embrace the reality shows I watch. In fact, in the summer, I cling to them.

After all, it makes me feel better to know that there are A LOT of people dumber than me. And I don't even watch those crap-ass game shows the networks are rolling out. Moment of Truth? REALLY?

Matt, my pick for this season's HGTV's Design Star. Love him!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Imagine if you will young Sri, away from home for the first time, a freshman at marching band / flag corps camp (yes, I was a big nerd - try not to die of shock). After a grueling day of drills and music rehearsals, we would all crowd around the only television in a five-mile radius to watch the Summer Olympics. We were sweaty, we were tired, we were running on cafeteria food and sheer bloody-mindedness. But we put off collapsing into our plastic dorm mattresses for a few hours every night ... because it was the Olympics.

I'm not a huge fan of sports television. When channel-surfing, I flip past ESPN and the like without a second glance. All the same, I can't deny the powerful allure of the Olympics. Is it the spirit of friendly-yet-fierce competition? The awesome, international scope? The skimpy athletic gear? Something about the Olympics captures our attention and our hearts, uniting the human race from the convenience of our living rooms.

Go World.

This year, however, the Olympics seem to be causing more division than unity. The government of the host country, China, has a long history of human rights violations. There is some evidence that preparations for the Olympics have actually made things worse. Several organizations are campaigning for a boycott, and 15 members of Congress (including Speaker Pelosi) wrote a letter to President Bush asking him to forgo the opening ceremonies.

You may be asking, "what has this got to do with the price of tea ... well, you know where?" Or you may be shouting, "get to the point, already!" My thought is this - should I watch the Olympics this year? Does it even make a difference to withdraw my 'support' by tuning into I Love Lucy reruns instead? If a blogger rolls off her sofa, does it make a sound? I'm just not sure. But given the current controversy, I don't know if I'll be able to watch Synchronized Swimming with the same child-like joy as in years past.

I don't care what people say - that shit looks hard.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Ramsay's Bleeping Kitchen Bleeping Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay is an interesting guy. If you know me at all, you know that I love a good profanity. And Ramsay makes swearing an art form. So right away I respect him for that.

I am, however, not a fan of Hell's Kitchen; if I want to see people being degraded and made to feel worthless, I'll spend a holiday with my family (kidding!). But seriously, the show has never been my thing. I just don't think that cooking shows work well in the competitive reality genre, mostly because food requires all the senses to truly enjoy, whereas on tv you can only see it.


Gordon Ramsay has another show. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, airing on BBC America, is like chocolate. Addictive, sweet, and surprising. Basically, Ramsay goes into restaurants that are on the verge of failure and lights a fire under their ass to get them moving. He changes the menu, the decor, the name of the restaurant, and anything else that needs to be turned around. Sometimes the owners are completely open to change, usually they aren't. But with a little trash-talk and a little heart, Ramsay gets them on-board and so far, all the relaunches I have seen have been successful.

Whereas Ramsay's shtick comes off as just abrasive and rude on Hell's Kitchen, on Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, his generous use of profanity serves to establish him as more of a "man of the people," rather than a complete dick. And he clearly knows what he's talking about: almost every idea he has is a good one and people clearly respect his opinions and advice.

The most surprising thing about the show (and Ramsay himself) is how much he obviously cares about the restaurants and the people who run them. This is a man who is passionate about creating cuisine. He loves food, he loves the people who make it, and he loves the people who run the business and are willing to sink ever nickel they have into keeping their dreams afloat. You can tell while watching that he really wants for these places to work, sometimes more than the people who work there. One of his favorite things to tell people is, "You've got to get (bleeping) passionate about what you're (bleeping) doing or what's the (bleeping) point?" Only imagine more bleeps.

My only complaint about the show is the sometimes the advice is recycled. It's clear that Ramsay likes simple cooking with an emphasis on locally grown/caught/raised foodstuffs. He also really likes white tablecloths with light-wood tables and chairs. But that's neither here nor there. It all seems to work.

Gordon Ramsay: nice guy. Who (bleeping) knew?

Also. I think it might kind of a crime against nature, but I find him strangely attractive. Must be the combination of profanity and food.

One of Ramsay's best ideas: getting people into a newly launched traditional pub by creating the "Campaign for Real Gravy." They started a parade and led people into the pub Pied Piper style by teasing samples of gravy. Genius.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Where for art thou Chuck?

Well, until Chuck returns this Fall and before he makes the obvious leap to comics, I'll just settle for this cross-promotion for Hellboy II.

Independence Day = Marathons!

Network bigwigs know that ratings are going to drop on holidays, it's just a fact of life. But in an effort to lure viewers to the tube, the networks love to show all-day long marathons of our favorite shows. I mean, who hasn't gotten hooked on a Law and Order: SVU marathon?

So, to help you plan your holiday tv viewing, this blog has all the tv marathons listed out for you.

On Friday, 'll probably dabble in a bit of HGTV's Design Star (look for a post on that in a few days), TLC's What Not to Wear, and on Saturday indulge my Harry Potter addiction. Thanks, ABC Family! Bringing it home Sunday will be Style Network's Clean House.

I love holidays, don't you?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dr. Who?

Joss Whedon + musical comedy + Neil Patrick Harris + Nathan Fillion =


One word says it all: AWESOME.

Do you guys think Nathan can really sing? I remain skeptical. But really, who cares? Like it matters.

Also: here is The Master Plan

Mwahahahaha! Or something like that.