Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have you tried forcing an unexpected reboot?

Like Maggie Cats, I too was snowed in this weekend. With no cable, and therefore no DVR, at my disposal, I turned instead to Netflix. Specifically, the magic little disc that turns my PS3 into a Netflix-ready device and allows me to watch anything from my Instant Queue. Kick ass.

I chose to watch The IT Crowd, a BBC series (read: six episodes per season) about an archetypal Information Technology department in a large corporation. The employees include two "IT guys," Moss and Roy, and one "Relationship Manager," Jen. Moss is so socially inept that he is essentially a 32 year-old child. Roy is constantly trying to be more 'normal,' often in hopes of getting laid, and always failing miserably. Jen only got the job with IT because she lied about her computer skills on her CV - she doesn't even know what IT stands for. The three do daily battle with lecherous bosses, dismissive and computer-illiterate coworkers, and Richmond, the creepy goth living in the server room (wait... what?). The basic structure, as you might well imagine, a character-driven comedy of errors.

The writing of the show is sometimes brilliant, and sometime cheesy. They go to the old standby jokes a little too much for my taste - for example, whenever someone calls down for help it's because they need to restart their computer, haven't turned it on, or haven't plugged it in. Every. Single. Time. We get it - Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair. Move on already!
But once you get past the cheese, the brilliance is well worth it - especially from Richard Ayoade, who plays Moss. His oblivious/naive nature is occasionally interrupted by hilarious moments of self-awareness. For example, in one episode Moss storms out of Roy's apartment, upset because they spend so much time together.
Moss: Can't you see - you're my wife, Roy! *stops at the doorstep, grabs Roy and shakes him* You're my wife. You're my wife! We should be married to ladies but we're married to each other. You're my wife!
*two women walk by, staring*
Roy: Could you stop calling me your wife?
Moss: You're my wife, Roy, and I can't take it anymore! *runs off*
Roy: (to the women) If anything, I'm the husband!
My one other issue with the show is that it lacks continuity. There are scattered tie-ins to previous episodes, but there is no real story-arc within or between seasons. This may be a function of the medium - with only six episodes per season, perhaps they just don't have the time. I would love it if the fourth season (due out next year, can't wait!) would work a little more on this issue. Even if it doesn't, though, I will be tuning in - if I were you, I'd add the previous three seasons to your Netflix queue, and hole up over the holidays with Moss, Roy, and Jen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the third (and last) day of the snowstorm I watched:

--The Santa Clause 3

--two episodes of Top Gear

--the True Blood pilot from my new blu-ray set with Alan Ball's commentary (which was very interesting btw)

--The 12 Men of Christmas (I'd give it a C. Kristin Chenowith was adorable, but the movie had almost nothing to do with Christmas so it loses points)

--The Christmas episode of The Big Bang Theory

And that's the end of the snowstorm for me! The federal goverment is reopening and since I covet all my annual leave I'm headed into work where I will sit cold and alone in an empty office. Sad, isn't it? But at least I'll always have these precious snowstorm memories.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the second day of the snowstorm I watched:

--Mannequin (one of my favorite movies of all time. Shut up.)

--Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars

--Doctor Who: Inside the TARDIS

--an episode of Graham Norton


--and again, several hours of the local news here and there for updates on the storm

My television watching was impeded today by the several hours of shoveling it took to unearth my car (seriously, it was crazy), the hour of online bridge I played, and the bit of overtime work I got done. Still, with the federal government shut down tomorrow due to the weather, there's still another day of the snowstorm to go!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What does one watch when trapped in a one bedroom condo for days on end? I figured I would use the blog to chronicle the tv shows and movies I used to entertain myself as the DC area is attacked (yes, ATTACKED) by the worst snow storm since 1962 (when the record December snow fall was 18 inches--I think we got that beat). If you're in the same situation, feel free to share what you're watching!

On the first day of the snowstorm I watched:

--A Very Supernatural Christmas (and the episode that followed it on the DVD)

--Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

--National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

--parts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

--the end of 50 First Dates

--several hours of the local news for snow updates

--I tried to find the Season 2 finale of Damages online since I missed it when it aired but was unsuccessful. WTF, Hulu?

I did manage to squeeze in a workout, some reading, and several baking projects, but other than that it was a very successful day of tv watching!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Lighter Side of Ramsay

Tonight I witnessed something I never thought possible on FOX. A sweet, cuddly and down right charming Gordon Ramsay. FOX is really pushing their new show Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong Show. Unlike, Hell's Kitchen, Cookalong teaches the lay person how to cook english classics. Tonight we learned how to make Steak Diane and Tiramisu.

The hook, of course, is celebrities. Ramsay uses celebs as his cooking dummies. This episode featured Cedric the Entertainer, Allison Hannigan (who we all love) and LeAnn Rimes. Ramsay casually teased the celebrities. For instance he mocked LeAnn Rimes's recent car accidents and asked Allison if she learned how to cook "at band camp."

The show was relatively blah in terms of a cooking show. Ramsay was hard to follow and gave instructions like "pour in cream" neglecting to mention how much. My husband particularly loved the instruction of "cook the steak" with no directions, length of time or heat on the pan. After further research, I have found via wikipedia this show is a knock off of the same show Ramsay did in Britain. It is clear the celebs and their cooking is more the point. Ramsay even cut to Whoopi Goldberg cooking from their satalite kitchen in New Jersey.

Fox did attempt to show off their "high tech" skills by cutting to people all over the US via skype. And don't think skype didn't make sure their logo was all over everything.

Overall, this is a blah reality show with a blah premise. Gordon Ramsay does bring in the viewer, but it makes your realize he is such a jerk on HK on purpose. I might tune in next week, but with REALLY low expectations.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Schedule

Hurray for the holidays! I have to admit that I am a sucker for all those made-for-tv Christmas movies, especially ones that star Kristin Chenowith (12 Men of Christmas--Lifetime). I'm not a huge fan of the old timey animated specials since the stop motion characters always freaked me out, but the more modern specials from the Peanuts and Shrek are definitely up my alley.

But I also have to admit that I am way too lazy to have to track down every showing of every show on every channel. So I rely on someone else to do it for me. So, if you are interested in finding a complete listing of the movies and specials that make your heart warm for the holidays, look no further than here (courtesy of a poster over at

I'll also put a little plug in for A Boyfriend for Christmas (airing throughout the month on the Hallmark channel). It's adorable. And stop judging me! I can feel your scorn from here. It's the holidays, everyone is allowed some guilty pleasures.

Oh, and Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Just a little shout-out to all my fellow Jews. Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Men of a Certain Age

Let me get this out of the way right at the start. I don't think I am TNT's target audience with Men of a Certain Age. Sure, I'm in the coveted 18-49 ad group, but I'm pretty sure that's not what the network was going for with this show.

Here's a sum-up: three middle-aged men, Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher, deal with the trials and tribulations of manhood. Coping with divorce, obesity, overbearing fathers, and soul-sucking jobs, these guys are winding through adulthood.

Look the show is very well-written and full of great actors. But it is SO not my thing. I find these guy's stories depressing in the extreme and I have to admit I only lasted 30 minutes. While all the reviews I've read have been glowing, I just could not get through it. But then again, all those reviews were written by middle-aged men. So there go.

Like I said, the show has all the pieces of a great one, but it's just not my thing. I wish you better luck than I had with it!

They're men. Of a certain age. But not in tights. You dig?

That word... is Dollhouse.

It is just me, or are we devolving into a Glee/Joss Whedon fan blog? Not that I'm complaining or doing anything to stop this trend. Actually, I may be single-handedly perpetuating it. Who else can't wait for fandoms to collide in the Whedon-directed episode of Glee (coming in March, I believe)?

Anyhoodle, last night I caught up on Friday's double-feature of Dollhouse, aka How Eliza Dushku Killed My Hopes and Dreams for Primetime Joss. I kid, I kid. Though as Maggie Cats will attest, we found out at Comic Con that Dushku isn't as ditzy as she sometimes appears ... she's even ditzier. (P.S. Is that a word?)

I was pleasantly surprised to see the introduction of Summer Glau as the DC version of Topher... but somewhat disappointed that she was playing another crazy person. Don't get me wrong - we all miss Firefly's River Tam. That doesn't mean I want to see her pop up again with a dead arm and, you know. Evil.

Maybe I am being too harsh. I did love the character, Bennett Halverson, and her interaction with Topher. The sexual tension was awkward and delicious. Two little evil geniuses in love! They're going to make little evil babies and live wickedly ever after - yay :D

We also saw Ray Wise as the DC's answer to DeWitt, exuding the devilish charm that landed him a central role in Reaper. Alexis Denisof (Senator Perrin, nee Wesley Wyndam-Pryce) continued to grace us with his presence. Enver Gjokaj (Vincent) did an amazing job as a doll-copy of Topher. And we got more Miracle Laurie (Mellie), whom I love beyond all reason. So many people to adore, so little time ... *sniff* Okay, now I'm getting sad about the (albeit inevitable) Dollhouse cancellation (the final episode airs Jan. 22).

By the by, did anyone else catch Kilo that was Groupie #1 from Dr. Horrible, Maurissa Tancharoen, aka the mastermind behind the character Penny and Joss' sister-in-law? And while it may be true that Nobody's Asian in the Movies, some people are Asian on TV :-)

For more Dollhouse and Whedon-verse love, check out this article/interview (from Dec. 2) with Joss on "The Watcher." SPOILER ALERT: at the end of the interview, you'll find plot summaries for the last two episodes and details from the next six. I couldn't resist, but you should try to be strong.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

And the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Our latest guest-blogger has chosen to write about something near and dear to my heart: geeks. As a member of the tribe, I agree that it's refreshing to see my peeps start to get their due. I hope you all enjoy Jason's first essay for TV Sluts as much as I do, and you might like to know that in addition to writing about television he also bakes one heck of a pie. And if you are thinking that I courted him to write for the blog just so I could get him to make me more pie, than you are right. Just kidding! Maybe.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, geeks are pretty cool. Certainly on television, but even in real life. Emo music aside, the most popular bands? Geek-chic. The entire indie rock pantheon of bands frankly resembles a computer club yearbook photo when looked at instead of listened to. Alongside all of this, it’s been something of a sight to see this aesthetic played out on television. Geeks aren’t just in, they’re frankly ruling the place.

And the geekiness continues into reality. A friend of mine works as a teacher in magnet school that focuses on the arts. While the majority of the kids who attend are interested in pursuing a career in fine arts, a sizable minority goes to the school just because of its solid academic reputation. My friend, the teacher, reports on how different the school bullying is from what she remembers in high school. In this case, the kids that are more interested in sports or other “jock” behavior are clearly picked on and made fun of by the artsy kids. If you can’t name at least three existentialist writers, the artists are going to give you a paint swirly the next time you’re cornered in the bathroom.

What’s more, shows seem to recognize that perhaps the old cliché of bully-beats-up-nerd-and-the-pretty-girls-laugh is outdated. As teenagers get more individualized and schools develop programs and events that cater to a broader range of interests, there are more opportunities for the old high school pecking order to break down. After all, if you’re a high school principal, why spend all your millage or property tax dollars on the failing football team when your band just took states and your quizbusters team just went to nationals?

So how do we see this trend play out on television? Consider Glee. While the main characters are supposed to be outcasts and picked on (I don’t care how often they do it – the lead character getting a slurpee thrown on her is always going to be funny), they’re frankly pretty much the stars of the school. Even the pretty and bitchy cheerleaders are now following their example. And that was before the football team sang along to Beyonce. Nerds or not, these kids are calling all the shots.

Supernatural hit on this about a year ago. In their version, the Winchester brothers go back to their old high school to investigate a poltergeist that they’re convinced is the ghost of a nerdy kid only to find out that the wronged ghost is actually a bully. Turns out that because a nerd actually stood up to this unpleasant kid once, their roles became reversed and the “bully” died as a pathetic person, ruined by how mocked he was in high school, thus setting the stage for his ghostly and revenge-y return. was in high school, thus setting the stage for his ghostly and murderous return.

Likewise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had one of its best episodes when Buffy gets the ability to read minds and hears a voice saying that he or she is going to kill everyone in the high school. In the process of trying to stop a Columbine-esque massacre, Buffy is granted full access to the entire school’s inner thoughts and learns that no matter what clique anyone belongs to, everyone has the same concerns – am I liked? Does my romantic interest like me back? Why do I look so ugly? Why is life so much easier for everyone else?

The adult market viewing isn’t so dissimilar. CSI, NCIS, and their several spin-offs are the most popular television programs on right now, a position they’ve more or less held since the trend toward technological police procedurals began about 10 years ago. The characters on these shows are unabashed about their nerdiness, preferring to spend their free time in the lab under dramatic lighting looking at carbon fibers rather than, say, date. That such a nerdtastic group of people are ruling he airwaves in the coveted 18-35 viewing demographic says something.

What’s great about these shows and this particular trope is that beyond showing that essentially we are all the same regardless of which lunch table we sat at in high school, we can see that the rules of life are fluid and that those who rule any one particular roost do so only precariously and only under specific conditions. Geeks, for being much maligned in the teenage years, are being illustrated differently on television and for a medium that’s known to not be all that realistic, it’s kind of nice to see it taking a step toward becoming so.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


I spent the past week in Phoenix for work, and as I travel pretty frequently (for work and pleasure), I have some experience with hotel televisions and the crapshoot that such stays entail.

My first concern is always for channel selection. Outside the comfort of my own home and cable area, I'm never sure what I'm in for when it comes to basic cable. Sure, you can usually score HBO in some far-flung hotel, but staples like the CW, Bravo, Lifetime, etc. are hit or miss. I was in Atlanta a few months ago (soon after Project Runway had premiered) and there was no Lifetime. Sadness! And then! There have been countless CW-free nights where Supernatural, Top Model, and others (that I am too embarrassed to mention) were left to languish in some distant television market.

And of course there is always the more basic problem of hotel televisions themselves. This past trip to Phoenix, the remote control in the bedroom barely worked. I mean, it would change channels, etc., but apparently there was a millimeter-wide area where you were supposed to aim the remote. Which means I spent some evenings sitting in bed waving my arms like a crazy person trying to get the stupid channel to change. And trust me, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

There's also the ever-present problem of trying to figure out what channel is what. Just when I have barely learned the channel line-up on my own cable, I get sent to some distant city where FOX news is sandwiched between NBC and ABC and every time you turn on the television it resets on the "hotel services" channel. So. Annoying.

Finally, time zones. I'm not sure how choices like these are made, but with a two hour time difference I never quite figured out when some shows were going to air. I guess the Mountain zone follows a Central-like schedule, because most shows started an hour early (example-House started at 7), but other shows like So You Think You Can Dance actually started at the same time, i.e. 8. It made planning my evening quite difficult.

But now I'm home, safe and sound, with a DVR chock-full of all the shows I missed last week. And I will never take my cable package, working television, and Eastern time zone for granted again.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A new direction for Glee?

**Spoiler alert for Glee 1x12: "Mattress"**

No one ever has accused Glee of being anything other than a cute high school comedy. Sure, there have been touching moments, usually involving "minor" characters. Kurt coming out to his dad. Sue visiting her sister, who has Down syndrome, in the nursing home. Everything Kristin Chenoweth did or said during her cameo.

I humbly submit that KC can do no wrong. Do I hear a "woot woot"?

But for the most part, Glee is cotton candy - fluffy, sweet, garishly colored, with very little substantive value. This week's episode, though? Ho-ly freakin' cow (I can say that, I'm Hindu). Shit hit the fan when Will found Terri's old pregnancy pad - I knew she wouldn't be able to keep up the charade forever, but I never expected the confrontation that occurred immediately afterward. There was violence and recrimination. There were man-tears. It was all very intense. And as a result of this marital strife, Will slept in the school and was disqualified from coaching the kids through sectionals.

And sure, it's an old cliche that just when The Team makes it to The Big Game, their Coach/Star Player/Biggest Fan/Mascot is incapacitated, so they are forced to Dig Deep and Be True To Themselves in order to win. But Glee got there in an unexpected way, which I appreciated. Plus, the camera work in this episode was more creative, they didn't beat you over the head with the theme, and they finally killed those damned music stings between each scene (or at least I stopped noticing and being irritated by them). Overall, the whole episode felt less staged.

No witty caption here, I just like this picture.

I know that Glee is probably supposed to feel staged, given the subject matter - a kind of meta thing, you know? But that doesn't mean people loved the format. Does this episode reflect the makers of Glee listening to fan responses and reacting accordingly? If so, I hope to see a lot more Mercedes, Tina, Artie and Kurt in the future. In the meantime, though, I am eagerly looking forward to the finale next week!