Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zack and Miri make an Excellent Movie

Though this is primarily a TV Blog, last night I got to attend a sneak preview of Zack and Miri Make a Porno. This movie initially caught a buzz due to its original NC-17 rating and the "come back" of the beloved Kevin Smith. Personally I really adored the movie. Below I will not include any spoilers, but I will share my opinion.First of all, and I feel most importantly, the script was great. It was literally a combination of the witty banter we have seen from Seth Rogan in Superbad and Knocked Up combined with the brilliant Kevin Smith dialogue reminiscent of Clerks (the first one). The dialogue was witty and you were constantly laughing. Elizabeth Banks held her own as well. I was concerned at first that opposite Seth Rogan for an entire movie she would get out acted and out laughed, but it wasn't the case at all. Her character was entertaining and well rounded. I was impressed.

On top of it the cast was brilliant. My husband and I debated if the cast was a more Kevin Smith clan or a more Seth Rogan crew. To be honest it was a nice combination of both. We had Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson from the Kevin Smith world (Jay and Randall), as well as, a nice bit part for Kevin's wife (who I still find REPULISVE). In addition, Seth brought in Justin Long (as a Gay porn star..a step up from a MAC), the Indian gentleman from 40 year old virgin and Craig Robinson. The motley crew worked really well together, of course with porn stars Katie Morgan and Tracy Lourdes mixed in.
((From Left to Right) Jason Mewes, Ricky Mabe, Jeff Anderson, Tracy Lourdes, Craig Robinsn, Katie Morgan

The plot was good. The idea of broke roommates breaking down and making porn was great. The romance story behind it was slightly obvious and you felt at moments the scenes were dragging. The story was very suggestive of Chasing Amy and the chemistry between the actors was definetly there. And for the die hard Kevin fan there was a nice tribute to Star Wars and Superman built into it.

I highly recommend this movie!!! (even though Jeff Anderson did not do the Randall).

To bring it back to the television genre (and related note) Entertainment Weekly had a really good "where are they now" for Freaks and Geeks....oh the early Seth Rogan years. Check it out!

Checking in on Thursday

For the past few years, Thursday night in prime time has been the most watched night of television. Is this because people are so tired from the work week that they stay at home? Is it because the networks know people don't watch a lot of tv on Friday and Saturday nights, so they treat Thursday as their last gasp of the week? Who knows. That's just the way it is.

Because so many people watch tv on Thursdays, the networks put their big players out on that night. There was a lot of hoopla when ABC decided to move Grey's Anatomy to Thursday at 9 to go head-to-head with CSI, and people all over the country bitched about the conflict. Now things have gotten even harder, with NBC putting The Office and 30 Rock into play at the 9 o'clock hour. As things heat up heading into sweeps into November, here's my big plan for upcoming Thursdays at 9.

Supernatural: Call me a dork, but this is my Thursday night highlight. I've got a season pass programmed on the DVR, and I usually watch it live (well, 15 minutes late so I can fast forward through the commercials). And this week's episode is a special Halloween episode, which means hijinks will ensue! And Jensen is hot. The end.

CSI: I'm a very casual CSI viewer. If the other shows are reruns and I don't have anything waiting from Netflix, I'll check it out. And of course, Spike TV has the show's syndicated episode on a constant loop. But I'll have to record it on my VCR starting next week (how's that for old school?) because my favorite guest-star from all time will be on. Melinda Clarke (a.k.a. Lady Heather). You may know her from appearances on Firefly and Chuck, but Melinda Clarke is just made of awesomeness and Lady Heather episodes of CSI are always creeptastic in that way all great CSI episodes are. Remember last year when they showed Lady Heather's daughter having to chew through her own wrist to escape handcuffs to avoid being tortured by some creepy Nazi guy? That was awesome. And disgusting. But Melinda Clarke makes it all good. So I'll be giving CSI a whirl in November.

Oh, and if you want to be filled in on the Grissom/Lady Heather backstory, check this out.

She will eat you up and spit you out. Love her!

The Office: I'm a loyal The Office viewer, but I DVR it and watch it the next morning while getting ready for work. I just can't justify staying up past 10 to watch tv when I have to get up at 5:30 the next morning.

30 Rock: I checked out 30 Rock when the first season aired and thought it was ok. Alec Baldwin was funny (as always), but other than that it didn't really do anything for me. But since it won the Emmy for best comedy and has been getting a ton of buzz, I figured it was time to check it out again. Also, Oprah will be on, and everyone loves Oprah!

Grey's Anatomy: You're kidding right? I do not watch this show.

Kitchen Nightmares: Meh. I prefer the British version on BBC America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How the Mighty Have Fallen?

So I know all the blogs are loaded down with what is the demise of our once faithful Heroes. I was trying to give it a chance. One last "please be the old Heroes". However, this week cinched the deal. I am done! I quit!

Generally, I can keep up with all television. I mocked those who said West Wing was too fast paced and a scoffed at the idea that 24 was too complicated. However, when it comes to Heroes I am THOROUGHLY confused. I have lost track of who is a "Hero" and who is a "Villain." Not to mention the fact which Heroes are secretly working for Villains and which Villains are secretly working for Heroes. I read the entertainment weekly article on "how to fix heroes." Their simple formula (for all those who do not want to read the article) was as follows:
Some of the above points are valid. Clearly there are too many plot twists and if the characters were not so quick to judge, they might have less plot twists. So the "Make the heroes smarter" I totally agree with. In addition, I believe getting back to the roots was key. In the begninng Heroes was al about the character, the people, not as much about the plot. Now the show is focused on "formulas." Also like LOST, Heroes needs a clear cut goal and they need to progress toward it.

I disagree that some heros need retiring. Though the idea of no more new ones is IMPORTANT. The only character this season I hate is Tracy, the triplet of Nikki. Stupid and dumb plot line. But I am glad they stole Iceman's power. The other key difference not addressed above between this year and last is there is a lot more jumping. We did not see what was going on with ALL the characters all the time like we do in this episdoe. We would go weeks without seeing some of the heroes. I miss those times.

Finally my final issues: 1) Where is claire's bf? Did he die and I have blocked that out? 2) When did Maya learn English?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Must See TV?

So I started a new job this week. And while to very few people in this world, that really matters, the main thing is its starting to impact my TV watching. I'll be working early mornings and periodically overnights. While TiVo is the best thing that's happened for my TV viewing (when I get past the compatibility issues with the Dish in this household), it's made Must See TV both easier and more difficult. With TiVo I can record almost anything and when I get around to it I'll watch it. But it takes away the near sacredness of watching a show. Before I had to be around to watch it, now I don't even have to know when it starts or stops or what day its on.

At the beginning of each new TV season I load up my TiVo with the new shows I want to see. Last year it was Chuck, Life, Journeyman and Pushing Daisies (Eli Stone came later). PLUS, I had discovered how much I actually loved House and Bones. Obviously Journeyman didn't make it past their first season, and somewhere in there I stopped watching it (I heard it got really interesting after I stopped and now I just have to wait for DVD or find it somewhere online). And as I've mentioned before my love affair with Pushing Daisies dipped off significantly. This season I added True Blood, Fringe and Life on Mars. I stopped caring about True Blood half way through the first episode but I keep TiVoing it because my wife likes it. Her problem is she's never around so my TiVo is cluttered with old eps (and my TiVo is old by industry standards so 5 eps is clutter and then I have to watch my space for new shows). The verdict is still out on Life on Mars, but this week I deleted Fringe without even watching it. I love almost everything else JJ has created or co-created (I was more interested in Felicity than Fringe) but alas my interested in this show is gone. It certainly is not Must See for me and at this point, and given how DVDs are working now, why bother investing time throughout this season, I'll just wait for the season 1 DVD.

This same kinda of feeling is creeping into my interested in Smallville. I've loved this show from the beginning, and while I tend to find it more interesting than some of my fellow friends, even I'm starting to care less and less. I actually was more excited about the possiblity of a Justice League spin-off (the character of Green Arrow is way more interesting but that maybe because so many of us have grown to re-love Batman). They are talking about doing The Graysons a show about Robin before he was Robin. I have mixed feelings but if it happens I know I'll be watching, but as I type I'm torn about deleting Smallville from my Season Pass. I'm 7 seasons in, do I really want to quit now?

The surprise for me is how I've added Grey's Anatomy. I'll say one name: Kevin McKidd. If you don't know who I mean, well.... check him out.

Well, I suppose I shall give Smallville another shot. But who knows after this week?

Move over Tila Tequila...

There's a new Worst Thing Imaginable on television. It's name: Paris Hilton's My New BFF. Had I not seen her kick some ass on Chuck last week, I would worry about Nicole Richie's reaction to the news that Paris was friend-shopping. If she was at all upset, I would advise her to sit down and watch about five minutes of this (sur)reality show. That was all it took for me to move from confusion, to revulsion, to pity and back to revulsion again.

She's a horrible, horrible woman.

For a long time I believed that Paris Hilton's ability to maintain a friendship started in kindergarten was her one redeeming quality. That, and perhaps a latent sense of humor. Otherwise, she represents the pinnacle of the materialistic appearance-obsessed entertainment culture. She's the queen of the party girls - she has no real skills or abilities, but because of her famous name, stick-thin body and "beautiful" face, she's an international celebrity. In short, she is what's wrong with America today. Now, she has even managed to denigrate the act of friendship, using it to feed her insatiable hunger for limelight. Thus, My New BFF - a reality show where eighteen star chasers all compete for a spot at Hilton's feet.

But who will win the real prize of escaping with her dignity intact?
Spoiler alert: no one.

When someone gains immunity after a challenge, they become Hilton's "pet." When someone is eliminated, she tells them, "TTYN." Either way, I vomit a little in my mouth. One small mercy - this show won't last very long. Paris, in her constant fit of pique, eliminated four contestants in the first episode. With one or two contestants leaving every time I give My New BFF about twelve episodes - fifteen, tops. Which will free Paris up for her new show, My New BBF - British best friend, set in London and due to air January 2009.

You said a mouthful, whoever you are.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

OMG!!! SQUEE!!!1!

The big day has finally arrived.

High School Musical 3 opens tomorrow (with showings beginning on Thursday at midnight). And here we have the eternal question. To see it in the theater or not see it in the theater?

And I have threatened to go see it in the theaters before.

There are pros and cons on both sides. Pro: Zac Efron is undeniably hot. Pro: It will probably be entertaining, and hopefully have fewer songs that make me want to gouge my eyes out. Pro: That's about all I can come up with.

Con: Do I really want to be seen at an event that has been marked on tweens' calendars for months by a big red heart? Con: Movies are expensive now, yo. Con: Yeah, still fixated on the whole humiliation factor. Con: I'm still not entirely sure I like these movies.

High School Musical as a pop-culture phenomenon is undeniable, but High School Musical as actual entertainment is still up in the air, at least for me. While it is like crack, in that once you pop, you can't stop, if you asked me if I actually liked it, I would have to pause and think about the question. So....I'm not sure it's worth spending $10 on something I'm not even sure I like. So I guess the verdict is a big old negatory on the actual movie theater viewing experience.

Sorry guys, looks like you are on your own. See you on Netflix!

Monday, October 20, 2008

When do Writers Go Too Far?

First I want to preface this by saying, I support Barack OBama. I fully intend on voting for him and he is aligned with everything I believe in. However, there is supporting a candidate and then there is pushing your agenda on a unsuspecting world. I am referring to last night's Family Guy. As a whole the episode was good. Nothing overly entertaining by Family Guy Standards. For those of you who did not watch Stewie created a time machine. Mort, the token Jew, got sent back in time to WWII and Brian and Stewie had to "fetch" him.

During their pursuits to save Mort and return home the three needed to dress up as Nazis. Now, I want to preface this by saying, I don't support Nazis. I am a Jew and anti semitism does slightly bother me.
While "suiting" up as Nazi's, Stewie adds a political "McCain-Palin" button to his outfit.

Now I HATE Sarah Palin, but I do not under any circumstances believe the two of them are Nazis. I think Family Guy, known to push Buttons, may have gone too far. Seth McFarland, I respect your personal views but I think you may have angered and upset more people then you entertained. I can take a joke. I actively laugh at Joe and the other down right awful jokes made on this show. But what is the Difference between Republicans calling Obama a terrorist (which we all are ashamed of) and Seth McFarland calling McCain a Nazi.

Primarily I think it was unnecessary and I was a little ashamed Family Guy is a regular show in my house. Comment away.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DAG, yo

In the olden days of comedy, racial humor was as common and as controversial as knock-knock jokes. Entertainers didn't have to worry about offending anyone, because no one who might be offended was allowed into the theater. Following the Civil Rights movement and subsequent raising of our national self-awareness, racial humor died an ignoble death on the battleground of Political Correctness. Then, in the 90's, it was revived by an unlikely ally - minority comedians, who wanted to poke fun at their own life experiences. While "insider humor" is fundamentally different than "outsider humor," it's inception effectively put race and ethnicity back on the table for comedians everywhere. Nowadays comedians feel free to make racial jokes - and the only litmus test for offensiveness seems to be whether we find the joke funny or not.

"Yes, Sri. But what the hell does that have to do with TV?"

I was just getting to that.

Last week saw the premiere of Chocolate News, David Allen Grier's new sketch comedy show. As the title implies, it consists of fake news items involving African Americans. Black people. Er, persons of - well, you know what I mean. Think Chappelle Show meets The Colbert Report ... and assume for a moment that Chappelle wouldn't immediately kick Colbert's ass.

Dave is not Stephen's Black Friend

So far, this show passes my personal litmus test - funny moments outnumber offense ones. Maya Angelou's poem for McCain's inauguration ("President Elect John McCain... ain't this a bitch?") - hilarious. Negotiation of the N-word Peace Treaty - more uncomfortable than offensive. Education department PSA as performed by "Phat Man," ("Yeah, ho! Yeah, bitch! Let me see how yo' coochie twitch! Doncha leave no child behind!") - I just don't know what to say about that. But with any subjective measure, I'm sure my perception of this show's acceptability will wax and wane. And maybe that's the point - in forcing us to traverse the funny/offensive border, Grier helps put a spotlight on racial humor in America today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Star Trek sneak peek

Those scamps over at Entertainment Weekly have a great preview of next May's new Star Trek film, brought to you by Lost mastermind, J.J. Abrams.

There are some plot spoilers, but they are clearly marked, and I avoided them with ease.

To me, the most interesting part of the article, other than the description of how Zachary Quinto had to shave his eyebrows to play Spock, is the author's discussion how the box office for the film might be positively influenced by our country's current economic woes. It makes sense--Star Trek was always one of the most optimistic sci-fi series, focusing on how mankind's love for exploration and the human capacity for kindness towards all could take us as far as the stars. This is just the kind of positivity we need as our economy goes further down the drain. Plus, never underestimate the power of escapism in movies.

Here's a little peek at some of the pics associated with the article:

That guy really does look like DeForest Kelly, right? And yay, Simon Pegg!

At least I know from Heroes they have grown back.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chick Lit for the Small Screen

In the tradition of Sex in the City and The Devil Wears Prada, The Starter Wife made the permanent transition from trashy paperback to television on USA last Friday. This show tells the story of Molly Kagen, a woman trying to keep up not with the Joneses but with the Bradgelinas. Recently dumped by her executive producer husband, Molly must find a way to live in Hollywood without being Hollywood. The answer, as it turns out, lies in narrating her zany adventures via the tired vehicle of a personal journal (Dooger Howser called, he wants his schtick back) and having sex with random men. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the chick lit genre and I am sick to death of self-indulgent writers writing about writers. But, I do so love Debra Messing that I decided to give The Starter Wife a chance.

I'm a sucker for redheads.

I happened to catch the miniseries last summer, and I wasn't completely disgusted. Messing brought her usual verve to the role and the supporting cast was similarly engaging - Judy Davis, Peter Jacobson, and Chris Diamantopoulos (husband of the adorable Becki Newton) to name a few. But even outstanding performances could not save The Starter Wife from it's essential non-essential nature. In a word, it's fluff.

They tried for gravitas when
Joe Mantegna's character walked into the ocean ...
but then he showed up to his own funeral in drag.

Then again, even fluff has its place. The full-series Starter Wife is the kind of show that's great to have on in the background while you do housework, surf the net, or pay your bills. Visually appealing but not arresting, it's be something nice to rest your eyes on for a minute before going back to whatever it is you're actually doing. Miss an episode (or three)? No worries - you can jump right in without losing the plot ... because, hey, there wasn't much plot to begin with. As with so many things, low expectations are the key to enjoying The Starter Wife.

Perhaps I should me more concerned that Friday night
usually finds me doing my laundry...

Project Runway Season 5 Finale

It's hard to remember when there was ever a Project Runway season-ender where all three finalists put on such good shows. It seems that in seasons past, there has always been at least one person you could say, "well, there's no way THEY are going to win with those rags." I don't think you could say that this time though.

Granted, I figured Kenley was out of the running, but not because of her clothes. I was pretty sure the judges were not going to reward someone who for the past few months had demonstrated a bratty attitude. And as soon as you sass Tim Gunn, it's over. But you have to admit, Kenley had some beautiful, whimsical, stylish pieces. Unfortunately, they also seemed to resemble other more notable designers recent collections. While Kenley swears that she is not aware of what other designers do, this either makes her seem like a liar or hopelessly disconnected from the industry she wants to become a part of. I'm also not a huge fan of her use of 80s silhouettes, but that's a matter of personal taste.

I personally preferred Korto’s collection, with her amazing use of color, texture, and shape. But I can see and understand why the judge’s went with Leanne. I thought her collection was beautiful and soft and I agree that it was “effortlessly cohesive,” but I also agree with Nina’s concerns that it was too one-note, and frankly, I found it a bit boring. I also thought that her use of only white, gray, and blue was kinda dull. Korto to me had everything that a collection should, and her green halter jeweled dress was gorgeous!

I want to wrap myself up in this dress and stay in bed with it for all time. Absolutely stunning. It says everything that Korto wanted to say about her ethnicity without becoming a costume. It's also just a really stylish, beautiful garment.
I can see Kenley’s inspiration in her collection (painting the roses red from Alice in Wonderland), but it was too much of a caricature for me, and I thought the clothes looked stiff. I also think she’s a big copy-cat, whiny, and a brat.

In any event, the status of winner went to Leanne who has constantly impressed me through the entire competition by remaining true to her aesthetic, but also working well within the constraints of the various challenges. Congrats, Leanne!

Interesting, organic, light, and soft...that's our Leanna!
Regarding the issue of Tim as a judge: on one hand I thought he was great, but on the other I think it kind of compromised his ability to act as a mentor, although according to him he wasn’t tapped until the last minute, so it didn’t influence his interactions with the designers. And it’s Tim, and he can do no wrong in my book. And Bravo was kind of left in the lurch by JLo and her “foot injury.” WTF is THAT about?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Divine is Back

Okay, so it is possible, I have a man-crush on a gay TV writer/producer/creator. But what can I say, I love the work of Greg Berlanti.

I came late to the phenomenon that is Dawson's Creek. I started watching it the summer after its first season. And after seeing those 13 episodes I was hooked. If you haven't seen the show recently, you should check it out, if for no other reason than to see perhaps the most perfect, complete season in TV history (with the exception of possibly Wonderfalls). I'm glad the show lasted more than 1 season, but the first season was a miracle of story writing. Of course, Keven Williamson was behind it and then left (he just was not ready for the pressure of running that show, he was a great writer after all).

By the time season 3 rolled around, there was a new creative force behind the show (there's a great book out that talks about this and other things, and I heartiluy recommend Billion Dollar Kiss). One of the new kids was Greg Berlanti. I had no idea who he was until much later, I now know he wrote some of my favorite eps of all-time.

Then came Everwood. Another show I came too late, but this time I knew enough to know he was one of the creators and it might be worth checking out. I missed the first season, catching up as I could later. There is a lost art to season finales and season premieres that I think, no, that I know, Berlanti has captured. And I may be going far afield here, and many may disagree with me, but a) a season finale doesn't have to be a cliff-hanger but it does need to remind us of the season's first episode, and if at all possible the pilot, and catch us up on everything that's happened throughout the season. The narration of Irv on Everwood was ready made to allow the "catch-up" but it was the magic of Berlanti and Co. that made the finale of season 1 wonderful, bringing everything together. I recently was able to re-watch that ep on (re: my 2 other blogs on this matter). And 2nd season premiere did what it should, hearkening back to the pilot and connecting directly to the finale. Only this time, it wasn't Andy Brown seeing his dead wife it was Amy Abbot seeing her dead b/f. Easily the heart of the show was the functional/dysfunctional father-son dynamic. It's what kept me coming back for more, each week. That, and I'm not sure how this happened, but this was probably one of the most theologically sophisticated shows on TV. Any show that manages to bring in Kierkegaard w/o being overbearing (Joan of Arcadia managed as well), earns my love and adoration, and Everwood did it twice! Of course, the gods of TV were not kind to this show, as somehow 7th Heaven's finale had such amazing numbers they brought it back for one more season and axed Everwood.

In the meantime, Berlanti had helped create a new show: Everwood meets The West Wing (with Tommy Schlamme attached it was inevitable): Jack & Bobby. This show was not nearly as consistently good as Everwood and I never really bought into the mother-son dynamic like I did with Andy-Ephram (of course, I admit I am slightly prejudiced against Christine Lahiti). At first I was really frustrated with the show for telling us which of the boys becomes president, but in light of the finale it all made sense. I've been rewatching this show, also on It's not nearly as sophisticated as I want, and I really lived for the interview portions where you got a glimpse into the presidency of Bobby McAlister but the show had heart and was able to bridge the huge divide between conservatives and liberals, something The West Wing never fully succeeded in doing.

Berlanti went on to exec a couple shows including Brothers & Sisters (which I have yet to watch but which one fellow TV Slut seems to like) and Dirty Sexy Money, but it is the show he co-created and premiered this past Tuesday night that has be excited: Eli Stone. Sure, at first glance, the premise of the show is almost silly: San Fran lawyer sees George Michael singing, and then starts to get additional visions which appear to be coming from God. And in the pilot we discover it's a brain aneurism (Joan of Arcadia did something similiar and it makes an interesting theological argument: there may be a scientific reason for miracles but that doesn't mean they cease being miracles - but that's a conversation for another blog). As the season progresses, we learn more about Eli's father and we get to see Spy Daddy sing and dance (it was almost as satisfying as seeing Anthony Stewart Head sing in Buffy). Well, Eli is back. And sure there's been some stunt casting to draw people in: Sigourney Weaver this week, Katie Holmes next week, Seal and Bridget Monaghan in weeks to come, but that's stop the fact that this show is all heart: it's funny, it's cute, it's musical but it's also very serious, and topical. I wasn't sure how they were going to get themselves out of the hole of Eli's operation removing the aneurism, but they managed to do it well and in keeping with the character of Eli Stone. It was not some cheap theatric. Moreover, Sigourney Weaver was wonderful in this ep. There is a twist that I don't want to give away, but it definitely leaves the door open for her return (check out this interview for a little more, but be warned of potential spoilers:

I can't fully describe it, but there is something in Berlanti's writing and concepts that makes me come back for more. And I can't wait until next week. In the meantime I'll survive on the scraps leftover from Everwood and Jack & Bobby. If only I could find Dawson's somewhere.

Obsession with Brothers & Sisters

Ok, I will admit I watch Brothers & Sisters. Not only that but I adore this show. I got into it last year while watching the online episodes and it keeps getting better and better. First of all, how can you not identify with a cracked out, loud, obnoxious family. Everyone is part of one. This season has been great. We have started off right where last season left off. I still love Nora Walker. Sally Field feels like your mom in this show. I get annoyed at my mom when Nora does something awful. Nora's really seems to have grown this season.

For those familiar with her character, despite her blowout in the Adoption Agent scene she has been subdued, especially with Justin.

Justin. That leads to my biggest ISSUE with this season. For those of you who don't watch the show and are thinking you might, this should sell you. Last season, everyone thought Rebecca was their sister. One extra to the Walker clan. turns out she isn' Justin (who used to be her brother) and her start dating. This wigs me out. A lot. Its "icky." But the actor and actress are attractive so they make a cute couple.

Sorry it's ICKY

Kevin. HOW MANY TIME WILL KEVIN WRESTLE WITH HIS SEXUALITY. Kevin is gay and last season he married Scotty, my favorite non-walker by far. In the past episode Kevin's law firm makes him pretend he is straight and Kevin has to decide what is more important. Blah...Kitty. Coliste Flockhart, despite annoying me in a plethora of other shows and slightly agitating me in the past, is showing warmth and compassion this season where I never thought possible. Despite her still TINY appearance she fills her scene with the desire of a mother who wants children but can't have them. Since this just occurred in my family (welcome baby Eva! from your cousin) I am appreciative they are spotlighting the family's situation. And Rob Lowe, though older, is still as hot as he was in St. Elmo's.So tune in....I think this season will only get better. I am aware I write about the characters like they are real people.....but once again I have an OBSESSION WITH Brother & Sisters. Its a definite You should be watching! Sundays at 9 (or on the Abc Player)

Ugly Betty looks better and better

I was a little underwhelmed by the Ugly Betty premiere. It had the appearances of the Ugly Betty I love, the flash, the sparkle, but something seemed lacking. Maybe it was because Betty was no longer the shining example of morality she used to be (plagiarism scandal last season, anyone?), and I felt that Alexis, who was the driving force behind the entire excellent first season, had been given nothing to do except have her brain plop out of her head.

But last week's episode, and actually, the entire "Christina being pushed down the stairs" was exactly the shot in the arm this show needed. Ugly Betty is at it's heart a soap opera. It's based on those telenovellas for goodness sake! And while having Betty torn between two guys, having Wilhamina trying to take over Mode, and almost every other plot from the second half of last season was "dramatic," it wasn't soap opera-ish. The guys Betty was deciding between, while cute, were both kind of vanilla. And Wilhamina may be evil, but having her plot while Christina walks around kinda-pregnant, wasn't all that interesting.

But now! Christina gets attempted-murdered! Betty plays Nancy Drew with Mark and Amanda with hilarious results! Alexis gets arrested! And of course, admits to Claire that she (when she was a he) is actually the father of Daniel's supposed love-child! THAT is some good soap-operaing.

I'm gonna be honest...I knew Daniel was not going to turn out as that French kid's father. But when Alexis told Claire that she was the father, I was completely gobsmacked. In fact, I haven't been as surprised by a twist like that since Ugly Betty's first season when Alexis was revealed as the mystery woman scheming with Wilhamina. Well done, show! I believe the words "holy" and "shit" were bandied around my condo last night when I watched the show on the DVR.

The episode also set up some good plots for a lot of our other secondary characters. Christina's trouble with Stewart made for some really nice work by Ashley Jensen and Vanessa Williams, Amanda's money troubles will surely pay off in the coming weeks, and Mark secretly beats on a Wilhamina doll! Shocking! And actually, quite visually disturbing.

So does this signal a return to form for Ugly Betty? I hope so. I mean, don't get me wrong. Even when the show is not at it's peak, it's still hella entertaining. But this past episode, and the direction the plots are taking make me very optimistic. Only time will tell!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No Bones About It

It took me a while to get into Bones, mostly because the premise seemed too gimmicky. Plus, I didn't think I could see David Boreanaz as anything other than a brooding vampire with a soul. Now that I've started watching (I jumped right into the fourth season without too much trouble), I can't get enough! This show neatly fills the Crossing Jordan-shaped hole in my life. But can Brennan, et al really replace Jordan & Co as my favorite corpse corps?

Round One: Antisocial Entomologist
Apparently, you always need a bug guy on these kind of shows (see also Grissom, Gil). Jack Hodgins has that whole scruffy misanthrope thing going on. And sometime between this promotional picture and season four he got a haircut, thank god. But c'mon. Mahesh "Bug" Vijayaraghavensatyanaryanamurthy is a grouchy South Indian with no social skills. It's like looking into a living mirror. Advantage: Jordan.

Round Two: Free Spirit
I tend to find a character like this irritating and/or superfluous ... the Deanna Troi of the cast, if you will. Kind of hypocritical, seeing as I'm a counselor, but what are ya gonna do? But I was impressed by Angela Montenegro, who named herself after a dream she had (her birth name remains unknown). You don't get more hippie-dippie than that. Sorry, Lily Lebowski - this round goes to Bones.

Round Three: The Weirdo
Sure, Zack Addy is young and adorkable. But then he becomes the assistant to a serial killer and gets locked in a mental hospital. Nigel Townsend, on the other hand, is a tall, British goth who had me at, "hello, love." No contest - point to Crossing Jordan.

Round Four: Sarcastic Boss
I'm just kind of "meh" about this type of character. I see that they're necessary, and I'm glad they're around to (a) keep the principals in line and (b) move the plot along. Asking me who I like better, Garret Macy or Cam Saroyan, is like asking me if I prefer staples or glue. Let's just call it a draw and move on.

Round Five: Eye Candy The Cop
This is a tough one. For pure "yum!" factor, I've got to stick with Woody Hoyt. He's got that corn-fed Midwest appeal and a pair bright baby blues that I could stare into for days and days... What was I saying? Oh yeah, the contest. Sadly, it's not about how hot you are - it's a about that actual police work. And Seeley Booth, with his mad interrogation and deductive skills, wins in that department. I am forced to conclude that Bones takes this round.

Round Six: Eponymous Queen Bee
I am convinced that each of these brilliant female protagonists has a neurological disorder - borderline schizophrenia and high-functioning autism, respectively. And while her psychiatric issues make Jordan Cavanaugh dark and edgy, it was too draining to be emotionally invested in her. In contrast, Temperance "Bones" Brennan's social awkwardness is whimsical and charming. Final score ... Crossing Jordan 2, Bones 3.

WINNER: Bones. And it's for the best. Crossing Jordan was canceled over a year ago, so if they had won I'd be relegated to watching reruns for all my creepy forensics drama needs. Now I'll have Bones to look forward to, Tuesdays on Fox and Mondays on TNT.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Britney, Nathan, and a little Project Runway

I kept coming across items I wanted to blog about today, so what the hell, you are getting a smorgasbord post!

First up: Britney is doing a big fat 90 minute interview with MTV on November 30 to talk about why her brain decided to plop out of her head for a good two years. Say what you want about her, but girlfriend performs catchy songs. I still say Blackout was underrated, and aside from a few clunkers, is a great dance album. I'll be watching this interview, and hoping Ms. Spears can provide some explanation for her past weirdness. It does seem like she is getting her life back on track, so good for you, Brit Brit!

Secondly, if you need a Nathan Fillion fix (as I know you all do) check out James Gunn's PG Porn, where you get all the good stuff from porn except the sex! I know it sounds weird, but check it out, you'll like it.

Next up, David Tennant is getting good reviews for his bout as Hamlet, in which he used his natural Scottish brogue. *fans self*

Finally, some talk about Project Runway. There has been a lot of kvetching in the blogosphere about last week's "too close to call" runway show and the decision to have the designers come back this week to widdle them down to the top 3. Most people are seeing this as a big conspiracy to get Kenley in the tents at Bryant Park and eliminate Jerell.

I tend to agree with the queens over at Project Rungay (love them!) who basically tell people to shut it and remember it's also a reality show. The producers want the drama. They want the tears, the backstabbing, the heartache, it's all part of the ride, baby. So I don't really have a problem with it; it made the show more entertaining, upped the stakes, and look what happened--people are still talking about it. Mission accomplished. They did something really similar last year and people didn't complain this much. Plus, I always thought Jerell kind of sucked and never liked any of his designs.

Not that I'm rooting for Kenley. My big problem with her is that she never thanks people for compliments. When people say, "this is great," she either responds with, "I know, right?" or "yay!" Makes her seem ungrateful and arrogant if you ask me. And I'm sorry, you do not sass Tim Gunn. Some things are just NOT acceptable.

It's called saying "thank you," Kenley. Now quit with the immature "you like me, you really like me!" crap.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Television of the Future

Whether we all would like to admit it our or not the television of the future is not a giant flat screen 1080p Elite is what I am currently typing on...a pc (or mac/ laptop/ whatever you prefer). Much like maggie cats I was just out of town for two weeks. Unfortunately, the impossible happened. My modem failed and Tivo was unable to download the lineups while I was gone. Therefore the little "Now Playing" was a whopping blank. I hope you can imagine the wave of sadness that washed over me.

So, I decided to turn to the internet (its not just for porn). I managed to catch up on all my shows using the Fox, Abc,and Nbc players. I decided to go with the network players so I didn't feel like I was "stealing" and thereby hurting my favorite TV shows. In two days I was able to sample the wide variety and styling of the Network Players and come to a conclusion of which is best.

ABC: The ABC Player is probably the best. First of all, I had the least amount of streaming errors. Occasionally the sounds gets off and the wrong person appears to be talking. But overall, I am a big fan. The downfalls are of course the commercials. However, the commercials are especially designed for ABC and they are interactive. You do not have to watch the entire commercial and it ends up being a few 15/30 second breaks. The other downside is the background picture. It appears to change based on the tv show. I am not sure why Brothers & Sisters invokes table and chairs. I give it four stars.

FOX: Fox's player is blah. It was constantly repeating sections and making me watch the same scenes over and over. If Tivo hadn't mucked up I would not suggest relying on it. I find House funny, but the same joke repeated 4 times is no longer funny. I can tell why people get annoyed with Hugh Laurie. The only plus was the lack of commercials. Fox needs to catch up! I give it two stars.

NBC: Nbc's player resembles ABC's. It is even possible they use the same technology. I noticed significant errors with compatibility with Firefox. In fact, as I was going to get the photo, it wasn't working. However, I do like this player. Like ABC the mini version is good for office viewing. The box can get a small as a quarter so you can watch an entire season of Chuck while you should be programming data. Not that I have ever done that. I give this player 3 stars.

I feel it is safe to rely on these players if you have no cable or no tivo. I would even suggets using the players over investing in DVDs..At the very least it is a lot cheaper.

Well, I hope my first post didn't bore you all to death. Once I am more caught up on televion, I swear I will throw my extensive television expertise in.

Did you miss me?

Hey, everyone! I'm back! And holy crap did I miss a lot of tv. Who would have guessed that going out of the country for three weeks during Fall Premiere time would cause such a back-up? Alright, maybe that's something I should have given more thought to before leaving, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that my DVR did not completely fill up in my absence. Of course, forgetting to tell it to record Heroes and Chuck might have also had something to do with it. That's why God has the networks put full episodes on their websites, right?

Anyway, since my return from vacation I have been trying to cram in as much tv watching as possible to catch up with y'all (and also posting my pics on Facebook and on my other blog). I've managed to get caught up with most shows (except for Sarah Connor, America's Next Top Model, Project Runway, Law and Order: SVU, Fringe, Mad Men, and 90210 which I think I am actually going to give up on). Alright, so maybe I am not as caught up as I thought.

Here are some quick initial impressions from the shows I have managed to catch up on:

Pushing Daisies: It has all the same quirky charm, and I still love Olive more than life itself (Pigby!!), but something seemed off to me with the premiere. I think the central murder mystery was a little convoluted and not that interesting, so it just didn't grab me as usual. Having said that, Emerson's stress-knitting and pop-up book making was so cute, and any scene with Olive and/or Aunt Vivian = love. Is it just me or is Aunt Lily seem kind....evil? I can't wait to see how the hints at Emerson's daughter and Ned's Dad pay off.

Heroes: I basically watched all three episodes of Heroes back to back online the second day I got back, which is really how it should be watched. The show is not well-served from long breaks. However, this also means I have difficulty distinguishing each episode from the other and remembering exactly what happened.

Things that I loved about last season I still love--anything with Sylar, Elle, Noah, or Mama Petrelli--but the things I didn't like then, I still don't like now. Meaning anything with Maya (seriously, she needs to die and stay dead), Mohinder being annoying, and Hiro's story being boring. The jumping into the past was boring last season, and while the jumping into the future is more interesting, I dunno, I'm just not as grabbed by the show I used to be.

I will give Heroes the biggest WTF moment so far though, for the revelation of Mama Petrelli also being Mama Sylar. Seriously. W.T.F. And Sylar's poking into Claire's brain and telling her that the idea of eating her brain was "disgusting" was one of the funniest and sickest things this show has ever done.

Hmm...actually as I sit here thinking about the show I keep coming up with more moments I really liked. Adam being awakened, having Sylar and Noah work together, seeing Weevil from Veronica Mars back on my maybe I am enjoying Heroes as a whole more than I thought. The initial revelation that it was FuturePeter that shot Nathan was stunning, and I am actually interested in Matt again, with the whole spirit journey and follow the turtle angle. So basically, if they would get rid of Maya/Mohinder and bring Hiro back with the other heroes, I will definitely be obsessed again.

Chuck: Ah, Chuck. I missed you and your brilliant title sequence. Sometimes it seems that the show is trying a little too hard (see how quirky we are?? See how cute we are?? Look at me Ma, LOOK AT ME!!), but I find it just really really enjoyable. All the elements in this show work, and I love the combination of action and funny. I wish I had a friend named Captain Awesome.

Supernatural: Wow, this show really came out of the gate roaring. Every episode has been stellar, and I was totally surprised by the "Dean gets right out of hell" angle. I thought for sure we would have to endure several episodes of Sam being all angsty and travelling around being ethically gray trying to find a way to bust out Dean.

But, no! The war is in full swing, and while I was a little worried about the whole Angel/God having a plan for Dean subplot, it's really working for me. And this last episode, that revealed Mary was a hunter and Skinner was Dean and Sam's grandfather was AH-MAZING. Bring it, Kripke, I can take it. Oh, and thanks for putting Dean back in the priest outfit.

Oh, Kripke, you know just what the fangirls want.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

R.I.P. The Riches

"Word came down. That word is cancelled," blogs Todd Stashwick, aka Dale from The Riches. Though I kind of doubt that it's really him. I mean, his blog is on MySpace. Still, he's not wrong - The Riches have been run out of town.

I have previously blogged about this critically-acclaimed drama. The beauty of The Riches was that it was something new, a story of innocence lost that was at once darkly funny and uncomfortably real. Sure, the second season floundered a bit, IMHO, perhaps due to the WGA strike. But there was so much potential! I was looking forward to the show's (and the Malloy family's) eventual redemption.

America didn't agree. I complain about how formulaic TV has become, but really we bring it upon ourselves. If we continue to ignore any show that seems "weird," we will be condemned to watch the same premises/plots/characters being recycled over and over again. We are creating an environment where creativity is punished. And that makes me sad.

You know who I'll really miss? Sam Malloy. That kid was one of the most original characters on television today.

Oh, little cross-dresser. We hardly knew ye.

Thanks, Maggie Cats, for the heads-up!

Monday, October 06, 2008

I guess I'm just a Knight Rider purist...

Don't ask me how or why, but this weekend found me watching the new Knight Rider with my parents. In my defense, the television pickings are always slim at Castle Sri. My parents have stuck with the old console TV they bought in the late 80's, and they don't have cable. And yet, we probably would've been better off watching ABC, which is usually nothing but static, or Ion TV, which for some reason comes in loud and clear.

Gives the term "classic television" a whole new meaning.

This nostalgic back-drop was not enough to make the Knight Rider remake palatable. The characters were one-dimensional stereotypes, the writing was terrible and the plot was merely an excuse for explosions to happen. Oh, and for women to wear bikinis.

Knight Rider: When my manly tattoo presses against the hood of my super-computer car, classified information on my shadowy past is revealed!
Bikini-clad Cohort: Look out, here come some bad guys!
Bad Guys: *menace menace menace*
KR: Woman, can't you see I'm busy?
BCC: I will be forced to make out with you on top of the car, thus concealing the classified information from sight!
KR: ... well, if you insist.
KITT: Michael, this is far from sanitary.

The most sympathetic character turns out to be the talking car.

The special effects could have redeemed the show somewhat, but were ruined by sheer self-indulgence. Kit is hit by a missile, catches on fire, and races towards the secret base all ablaze. The team has to trap Kit in a vacuum-sealed chamber to smother the flames. Meanwhile the people inside the car try to stay cool by stripping down to their underwear, as if two layers of cloth would make a difference when you're suffocating.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. When all you have is an AI Mustang, every problem looks like a drag race. Somehow, I remember that the original Knight Rider made this premise work. It was a simpler time when a talking car was the stuff of outrageous science fiction. In the era of GPS systems and voice-activated controls Knight Rider has lost a lot of its "wow" factor. The new series has tried to replace this with a subplot in which the protagonist was a member of Special Forces Black Ops in Iraq and somehow lost his memory. It comes off as heavy-handed and unnecessary. No surprise here, but I do not brake for the new Knight Rider.

Plus, it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. To wit, The Hoff.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Taking Sanctuary

Sorry about the terrible pun in the title ... but it had to made.

Previously, I've blogged about my love/hate relationship with the Sci-Fi channel - it's potential for kick-assery is rivaled only by it's potential for cheesiness. In any given show, it's a toss-up as to which will win out in the end. And so, when I sat down to watch Sanctuary tonight, it was with a skeptical eye and one hand on the clicker.

Sanctuary is the story of Dr. Will Zimmerman, a forensic psychiatrist who gets recruited by a cryptozoologist, Dr. Helen Magnus, to aid in her mission "to find and help the unfortunate creatures of this world." Basically, she runs a humane society for monsters. So, right from the get-go the pseudoscience starts to bug. They keep saying things like "massive genetic mutation" and "I kept the embryo frozen for a century." It just makes my teeth hurt.

Still, the show has several redeeming qualities - not the least of which is the cast. Zimmerman is a classic Hot Nerd, played by Robin Dunne, the star of one of my favorite indie films, Borderline Normal. Magnus, the omniscient mentor figure, is played by Stargate SG-1 fan-favorite Amanda Tapping, aka Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter.

I knew (of) them when...

The cast is rounded out by the usual tropes: blonde hottie with an attitude, scruffy techno-geek, psychopathic ex-boyfriend who never dies... Wait, that's only a trope for James Marsters. You wish you were that cool, John Druitt! But, I digress. Sanctuary is definitely worth a look - Fridays a 9pm, on Sci-Fi.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I Want to Believe

Well, Fall TV is in full swing. I've been watching for a few weeks now and I have to say, I have mixed feelings about returning shows and new shows.

We've already gotten one review of Fringe and while I tend to agree I have a few comments and reservations. I really want to believe in this show, I want it to succeed, if for no other reason than to have Joshua Jackson back on TV. But it seems inevitable that something that JJ Abrams helped create would bound to not be a success. And I both fear and hope this is the case. Fringe has all the classic elements of The X-Files with the influx of Abrams trademark character studies (if was not a dysfunctional family drama wrapped up in a spy show then I am not sure at all what it was, and if Lost is not a study of people with twisted pasts thrown onto a creepy island than what is it?). The mystery at the heart of Fringe is interesting, but I have yet to find it compelling. What I do find compelling is the relationship between our beloved Pacey and mad Denethor. This father-son dynamic is what drives me to watch week-after-week, even though my interest in the show itself is lackluster. But I want to believe so I'll keep watching.

Selvi just wrot about her interest in the premiere of Pushing Daisies. Last year I was a big believer in this show. I mean, what is not to like about Jim Dale narrating a TV show? And there is much to love in this dramedy but when I found out it was being programmed opposite Bones I was presented with a dilemma (which would go away if I had a dual-tuner TiVo but that's a topic for another blog). While I want to like this show, I have to admit, I never did watch the last episode of the first season, I'm not sure I really want to watch this show on DVD (unlike previous shows by this creator, namely Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me), what I've ultimately decided is I may watch this eventually but it's not part of my must-see TV schedule. I may have to revist this, but I find myself more interested in Bones than Pushing Daisies.

I don't have to believe when it comes to Heroes. I am genuinly excited about this season. Having Hiro back in our time is fabulous. The the study of good/evil and hero/villian is fabulous. When our view of HRG was transformed overnight and we saw him not as the villian but as the hero, this show revealed that it could be so much more than a drama about people with powers, or another iteration of comics on the screen. I feel there was potential in last season but as we all know the writer's strike stopped that cold. And I agree with the general sentiment that the real danger of the season was not presented up front. We did not have that problem with last week's premier. We knew from the first that there was a problem in the future that was trying to be fixed. My biggest complaint is primarily: how often can they rely on someone from the future warning them of an impending doom? We need a new way to drive the season's storyline. This combined with the idea that anyone can gain a power reminds me a little of The 4400 and we all know how that worked out. But on the plus side, Heroes is part of my must watch shows. I stop everything I'm doing to watch it on Monday nights.
In fact Monday has become my favorite night of the week for TV watching. With the return of Chuck and Life there is a a solid block of viewing. I can hear the NBC honcho's salivating over a viewer like me. I was able to watch the premiers of Chuck and Life last week thanks to And I was not disappointed. I'm still not sure what to make of Life but I love Damian Lewis from the first moment I saw him in Band of Brothers. He brings humor and gravitas to this roll. And his quirks as a detective are almost as funny as something you see on USA. The Chuck premiere was almost perfect. It had everything I had come to love in the show, and it did what every returning show's first episode should do: remind you of what happened before, and some nice homages to the pilot episode. All the characters were back in their quirkiness. I think I love Adam Baldwin a little more each day. And the guest casting this season is second to known: Michale Clarke Duncan this week and John Laraquette next?!!!? The one thing the episode failed to do was remind us of Bryce Larkin and the secretive organization Fulcrum. Fulcrum shows up at the end of the episode but there is no context for the name. It is only threw the happenstance that I have been watching older episodes on DVD that I even remember this.

I will save my thoughts on the ever loveable House for another time. But this is a season I hope to see something great. And I think I might.