Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chuck!

Not able to travel to San Diego for Comic Con? You can see one of the most awesome panels of the entire Con on Hulu....that's right. The entire Comic Con panel for Chuck is online!



It does not include the Jeffster performance that opened the show...but you can see that on You Tube here.

Happy viewing!

Comic Con: Legend of the Seeker

I didn’t really expect Comic Con’s Legend of the Seeker panel to be particularly crowded or difficult to get into. After all, the show is syndicated, airs on a Saturday evening, and only one other person I know has ever heard of it (shout-out: Whitney). But after seeing how quickly the line formed for this panel on Thursday afternoon, I jumped into it an hour and a half early, and was fortunate to make it inside.

Luckily, I was flying solo on this one and was able to score a seat fairly close to the stage, since people always seem to leave those lone single seats between them…god forbid they should be polite and move into the center. But it worked out well for me, so no complaints.

The panel consisted of some producers (no Sam Raimi though), the actor Bruce Spence, who plays the character Zed, a scene chewing Wizard, and author Terry Goodkind, upon whose books the series is based (the Sword of Truth books, in case you are curious).

Actor Bruce Spence and author Terry Goodkind

Kicking things off was some news on the second season: it would consist of a full 22 episode order and would premiere on November 7, 2009. The main characters, Richard, Kaylan, and Zed, would come to the realization that their destruction of the evil overlord, Darkan Rahl, comes with a price, as they have managed to unleash something even more powerful and have created cracks between our world and the Keeper’s (i.e. the Underworld).

For those of you with no idea what I am talking about, no worries, the first season DVD will be released on October 13, 2009, so you can catch up.

Most of the fan questions were for Terry Goodkind, who made it clear he has nothing to do with the show. While he finds it difficult to see the changes that are made to his characters and plots, he understands that television is a different medium and is happy that his characters have seen more mainstream exposure from the show. Really, it seemed like the only reason he was even there was to plug his new book (a non-supernatural thriller available August 18, 2009) and to mollify fans who are pissed about some of the changes from the books.

The big news of the panel was that Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia on Buffy and Angel) would be guest-starring in an upcoming episode as a Mord-Sith, a dominatrix-like character who wears nothing but leather, for those of you not familiar with the books and show. So, yay for Joss alums finding work! Also, the Mord-Sith character, Cara, would be joining the trio, as she does in the books, so that’s good news for Terry Goodkind fans.

Example: Mord-Sith

It was a little disappointing to not have the two main stars of the show at the panel, but since they film in New Zealand it’s a bit of a hike. From the footage we saw and the news we were given, it seems like the second season is shaping up pretty well, and will hopefully be less uneven than the first, which definitely took some time to finds it’s footing, but really took off after the episode, Denna.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BBC in the USA: Being Human

I love Maggie Cats' approach to blogging about Comic Con. She brought a special notebook to every panel and took copious notes and pictures. Now she will go through it all chronologically, bringing you pertinent details and fascinating insights into your favorite shows.

Yeah, I'm not going to do that. From me you will get rambling, disorganized squee. Sorry, that's just how I roll. On the upside, I was able to see a few panels that Maggie was not, so now I bring you the first of my BBC series: Being Human.

This show doesn't sound like it would be any good. "Listen, there's this great show about a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost sharing an apartment in Bristol..." At this point, whoever you're trying to convince just gets up and walks away. But it's really really really really good. Honestly. And it makes more sense when you hear how the concept came about.

The creator, Toby Whithouse, was first approached about doing a show about three twenty-something college grads who decide to live together. He decided that was just about the most boring concept he had ever heard. Then, three characters dropped fully-formed into his head: Annie, an agoraphobic; Mitchell, a recovering sex addict; and George, a usually mild-mannered man with anger issues. Still, he didn't feel like the series was special enough. And then it dawned on him ... George, who periodically lost his temper and turned into a monster, was kind of like a werewolf. This naturally (or supernaturally) led to the ideas that Annie was like a ghost and Mitchell, a vampire. Thus, Being Human as we know it was born.

I really feel that this organic development of the show is reflected in its completely sympathetic characters. These are not monsters of legend, creatures to be feared or idolized. The bottom line is that they are people. Like any good fantasy show, the supernatural nature of the protagonists shines a spotlight on human nature.

Plus, Russell Tovey (the man who plays George) is adorable. Doctor Who fans many recognized him as Midshipman Frame from "Voyage of the Damned" (Allons-y, Alonso!). I was sitting super close to the stage, having practically camped out all day. At the end of the panel, I jumped out of my seat with a huge grin on my face. Russell looked at me and cocked his head to the side as if to say, "why is that tall Indian woman giving us a standing ovation ... all by herself?" Needless to say, I swooned with delight.

This picture does not do them justice ... but it is pretty hilarious.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comic Con: Pilot Screenings for V and The Vampire Diaries

Ah, Comic Con. Geek Mecca, if you will. Where those of us obsessed with all things sci-fi, fantasy, and pop culture-related gather together to get the latest news and scoop on our favorite comics, television shows, and movies.

Fellow tv-slutter Monkey Sri and I headed to San Diego last week and participated in our first Comic Con so we could report back on all the happs for you, our gentle reader. From Wednesday night to Sunday I spent almost every day in the San Diego Convention Center visiting as many panels as I could and taking copious notes to ensure I could regurgitate all the details. I figure the easiest way to do this is to go chronologically, which means we start with....

Wednesday, July 22*

Wednesday was preview night, when people who had signed up for 4-day passes could pick up their badges and avoid the HUGE line that forms on Thursday morning. After procuring our passes, my friend Rachel (avid television viewer and vampire lover) and I got the lay of the land of the convention center and attended our first Comic Con event: screenings of the pilot episodes for V (on ABC) and The Vampire Diaries (on the CW).

V: As any fan of Sci-Fi television knows (or really anyone who has ever watched I Love the 80s on VH1), V was a weekly drama series that ran in 1984 on NBC for one season. As everything old is new again, ABC has retooled the series and it is now slated to air in the fall of this year.

The plot of the show is basic: aliens show up one day (in a scene basically ripped from Independence Day) and inform us that they need vital minerals from our planet. In exchange they offer us some of their technology (including cures to most known diseases) and repeated promises that they come in peace. Some people welcome them with open arms, others are more questioning. It's not a huge spoiler to give away that the Vs aren't everything they appear to be, but that's all I'll say. If you aren't familiar with the prior series there are some surprises in store for you.

The show centers around an FBI Agent (Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost) and her son, as well as a large cast of other characters including a reporter (Scott Wolf), a priest, and a whole bunch of others I can't remember right now. Take from that what you will.

All in all, I really enjoyed the show. It was tense at all the right parts, had great production values, a talented cast, and appears to be modelled on a Lost and Heroes pattern where many different characters are weaved throughout a central storyline. There's nothing really groundbreaking here, like I said the images of the alien ships have been seen before, but the pilot was solid and interesting.

I was a little confused as to how Elizabeth Mitchell's FBI Agent character starts to suspect the Vs, something about stolen C4 or some such nonsense, but the show makes some interesting parallels with our modern fears, insinuating that the Vs have been present on our planet for a long time and have organized themselves into sleeper cells. And it's always nice to see familiar faces like Alan Tudyk (!!!), Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin, and Scott Wolf. I'll definitely be tuning in this fall, and hope the show can keep up the quick pace of the pilot.


The Vampire Diaries: Oh, Kevin Williamson. You've never been able to recapture your former glory from the Dawson's Creek and Scream era. In a show that is so obviously a Twilight rip-off that Kevin Williamson basically came out and said it ("vampires are really hot right now") a high-school girl becomes enamoured with a mysterious vampire who has appeared in her town.

You've got the usual ingredients here: pretty 20-somethings pretending to be in high school, a pretty-boy vampire (who looks like a young William Shatner but didn't really do anything for me), a tortured female protagonist recovering from the death of her parents who feels disconnected from the world around her, blah blah.

There were a couple of good one-liners, but for the most part the dialogue and plot clunked along in a cliched manner. And then Ian Somerhalder from Lost showed up. He plays a vampire as well (a far more interesting one than the main character) and transfused some life into the show (get it? transfused? blood? vampires??). But once he left the screen, THUD. Back we came to reality.

In the words of Rachel, "I'll watch it, but it wasn't that good." That pretty much sums it up. Vampires and hotness = I'm there. But I'm only giving it a few episodes and if it doesn't get more interested I'm outta there.

So there you have it! Coming up from Thursday's panels: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture and Legend of the Seeker. Can you stand it??


*By the way, I'm not going to spend a lot of time writing about the general feeling or happening of the Con...that's going on my personal blog. These entries will be focused on news and reviews from the television specific panels I visited, which is after all, the focus of this blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bruce Campbell is a Golden God

Hello, friends! I am foolishly lugging my laptop about in order to bring you updates directly from Comic Con. My shoulder will probably never be the same, but I couldn't keep these feelings inside.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to sit in on the Burn Notice panel, which included the incomparable Bruce Campbell. When he walked out on the stage there was so much fangirl and fanboy squee that Matt Nix, the show's creator, compared it to "a rock star working a room." Bruce definitely had all of us eating out the palm of his hand. Whenever someone yelled something he liked, he had them come up to the stage and gave them five bucks. He flirted shamelessly (and explicitly) with any and all young women, and was in general amazing. The best part was that, after he responded to a dedicated fan's query with a series of off-the-wall, hilariously funny comments he would say, completely deadpan, "thank you for your question."

Sorry, the picture sucks - we couldn't get anywhere close to the stage, so this is a picture from one of the giant screens set up throughout the room.

Of course, we got to see clips from the show and previews of the upcoming season. I won't spoil anything, especially since I myself haven't seen all of the episodes for this season ... *hangs head in shame* Also, people were asking some great questions and we learned a great deal about the show itself. Here are a few high points:

1. One woman asked about how they come up with the awesome "Spy Tips" Michael delivers as a voice-over in every episode. The answer is, disturbingly enough, the internet. Apparently they first guess what will work, Google it, and then consult an expert.
2. Matt Nix divulged that for all of Michael's jury-rigged weapons and tools, they have a few criteria. First, you can't make it work without knowing/researching something else. In other words they don't want to teach people how to kill themselves. Second, it has to be doable - but they give Micheal the benefit of the doubt. If their prop guy can make it work in half a day, a spy should be able to do it in half an hour... right?
3. There are no digital explosions in Burn Notice. This makes things are much more realistic, but significantly more dangerous. For example, when Sam blows up Madeline's house in "Lesser Evil," they were only supposed to blow out the windows. They ended up cracking an exterior wall and breaking 12 windows in the neighborhood. Oops.

Whatever. The explosions are totally worth it.

Greetings from Comic Con!

Hi, tv-slutters! I wanted to pop by and let you know Monkey Sri and I are in San Diego at the world famous Comic Con this week, so alas, there might not be many updates unless we decide to cart our laptops around all day (which is unlikely given our tendencies toward laziness). HOWEVER, this means we will have lots of goddies for you upon our return. Look for info on:

-the V pilot

-The Vampire Diaries pilot

-updates on Legend of the Seeker, Burn Notice, 24, Bones, Dollhouse, Glee, Heroes, and True Blood.

We've sat in some other great panels and have lots to share, so look for some awesome updates coming your way!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy Nominations

For better or worse, the Emmy nominations are here. Well, here actually. So what do we think? Here all the tv sluts weigh in on the nominations. While some of our opinions differ, what we all seem to agree on is the increasing irrelevance of the Emmys. Seriously. Do they even matter anymore?

Caroline:
I will start this off by saying that i don't get HBO and have never watched fully half the shows that got Emmy nods this year. And i have only ever watched one of the comedy series noms -- The Office -- which i gave up on after the "Dinner Party" episode that made me crawl under my couch and shiver for a solid twenty minutes. That said... here are my thoughts on this year's Emmy nominations, or at least the ones i care about. Woohoo!

First, allow me to question WTF is up with House apparently squeaking in to a specially-made seventh slot for Best Drama Series. I mean, they killed Kutner! i have a complicated relationship with House in general, but i don't think this season was Emmy-worthy, especially given work they've done in the past. Granted, i don't watch most of the rest of those shows, but i believe it must be said: WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR BATTLESTAR, EMMY NOMINATION COMMITTEE?!

That carries over into my thoughts on Best Actor and Best Actress for Drama. I mean, i know the last half-hour of the last episode was ... let's call it "divisive," but Mary McConnell especially just burned my screen down this season, and Edward James Olmos went some unexpected and awesome places this year with Adama. I will say, however, that overall i am pleased with the slate of strong awesome women the past few years (although Sally Field is kind of the House of leading ladies at this point, isn't she?). And if Michael Emerson doesn't win for Best Supporting Actor, i will personally sic the smoke monster on the committee. Rarely have i seen an actor inhabit a character so fully or so well as he does Ben Linus. Chills.

I'm also disappointed 1) that Two and a Half Men is still in existence, much less an Emmy-nominated television program, and 2) that Chuck didn't get any love. God, what a criminally underrated show. And finally: no SYTYCD? No Cat Deeley? A travesty.

Jeff:
I love me some MILF-Weed! Yes, I admit it, I love Mary-Louise Parker and I am happy to see her and Weeds get any sort of recognition. While, Season 4 was definitely a change of pace, moving away from the suburbia we love, there was something completely entrancing about this last season. I only wish I had Showtime to stay current as well as keep up with Californication, which (although I have not see the 2nd season) I am sure got robbed of some richly deserved nominations. On the other hand, why is Entourage in the Best Comedy category. While I've enjoyed Vince, Ari, and Company I have not been as thrilled with the show as of late and it seems this is one of those cases where a show is getting a nod for previous work not for its current state. In other Best Comedy categories... NPH!!! Need I say more? And of course, it would not be a Jeff-posting if I did not ask: where is the Chuck love? No Emmy love for Scott Bakula as a guest star and no love for the show's title character? I shall just have to console myself with the great fact that it is, at least, come back for another year.

Now to Drama... who does not love some Hugh Laurie and his work this season was 2nd to none. I am thrilled to see him, and the show, fighting for some Emmys. Of course I'd settle for the show to come back tomorrow so I can see Hugh Laurie battling Andre Braugher! Otherwise, the Drama listing was rather ho-hum. Surprised to see Sandra Oh in for Grey's. While she was good, and I lived for scenes between Vorenus, I mean Poseidon, I mean Dr. Owen Hunt (which was the reason I even watched this season and got hooked despite myself), all in all I did not think her work was particularly good compared to others.

Overall, it's a big fat, Who Really Cares? I know, it is sacrilege that I even utter such a thing, but over the last few years I've found myself caring less and less about what shows get nominated for what. What matters to me is shows I love stay on the air. And, really, Emmy noms help but they don't guarantee the shows we love stick around. Nor are they always a great barometer of what is great TV (Buffy being disses, anyone?).

Maggie Cats:
Whatever. No nominations for Friday Night Lights, no nominations for Battlestar Galatica, almost nothing for Pushing Daisies. Meanwhile, Boston Legal, Two and a Half Men, and Entourage continue to get nominations. Is there no justice? Is there no fairness in the world? But now that I think about it, it's not even worth the aggravation. Eff you Emmies. The only thing you got right was Michael Emerson and Kristen Chenowith.

Monkey Sri:
1. Apparently I need to Netflix Generation Kill, Grey Gardens, and Little Dorrit because they're nominated for every damn thing.

2. I love how "Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series" is four episodes of 30 Rock versus one episode of Flight of the Conchords. It will only be interesting if it doesn't win. The same goes for So You Think You Can Dance in "Outstanding Choreography."

3. "Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special"? Why don't they just call it, "Time for a Bathroom Break"?

4. For the Lead Actresses ... I kind of really want Sally Field to get "Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series," just to see if she'll say anything crazy. If Sarah Silverman beats Tina Fey for "Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series," I will punch my TV.

5. I saw a bit of Kevin Kline's Cyrano de Bergerac. He should get "Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie" just for keeping a straight face while acting opposite Jennifer Garner.

6. Since Sheldon is my secret TV boyfriend from The Big Bang Theory, I really hope he gets "Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series." Go, Jim Parsons!

7. Alec In Huluwood should totally win "Outstanding Commercial."

8. The nominees for "Outstanding Children's Program" are all part of the Disney Talent Farm... *eye roll*.

9. I really hope Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends wins "Outstanding Animated Program." Who even watches Afro Samurai, anyway?

Whitney (with a strong opinion as usual):
Overall, I have given up on the Emmys. Every year I get annoyed about something. This year is the prevalence of SNL. First of all, who other than tweens is watching SNL? When did it even become socially relevant again? I don't care if you caught a sketch on YouTube..NO ONE WATCHES! This year SNL received 13 nominations! 13!!! This includes: Amy Poehler & Kristin Wiig for best supporting actress in a comedy series, Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, One for writing, and two for Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake for hosting. I want to scream! SNL is awful these days, and I don't know why the emmys nominated something that is POPULAR rather than quality! That is all.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Harper's Island Finale (spoilers within!)

Well, the great experiment is over. CBS's attempt at a limited run murder mystery series, Harper's Island aired its finale this Saturday night. After premiering to low ratings, CBS banished the show to Saturday nights, but promised to air all the episodes so the few people who were tuning in could see the show's resolution.

Harper's Island worked well as summer series. The writing was never all that great, and the acting was kind of hit or miss, but it was cheesy fun and scary at places, so what else do you really need?

I even liked the conclusion of the show; the killer ended up being the not-really dead John Wakefield (who had previously gone on a killing rampage on the island years ago), but the big "surprise reveal" was that his accomplice was the groom Henry, portrayed by Christopher Gorham. I had kind of guessed that the other killer would be Henry, but it was still a nice reveal since there were other characters still in the running for the title of duplicitous psycho killer.

In the end, only four characters survived the series; one of which included the creepy little girl, Madison. She was annoying, so it would have been nice for her to get the literal axe, but this is a network television show, so I wasn't really expecting them to horribly murder a ten year old. I was pleasantly surprised that Jimmy, the main character's love interest, made it to the end since I'm a sucker for a good love story. Especially when the guy looks like a manlier Orlando Bloom.

Manly? Check. Orlando Bloom look-alike? Check. Say no more.

While I enjoyed watching Harper's Island, there weren't that many memorable moments. Other than the deaths of Cal and Chloe (whom I went from hating to actually really liking...so well done on that writers), none of the murders were especially exciting or emotionally resonant. It was kind of surprising that Harry Hamlin got cut in half in the first episode, but otherwise, meh. And I'm still kind of confused by the motivation behind the murderers, but really, who cares. The show promised pretty people running around getting chopped into bits and it definitely delivered on that.

Overall, I give it a B-. The show did what it needed to do, had a satisfying conclusion, and provided plenty of eye candy. If you missed the show during it's run, check it out on DVD, I bet it plays well watching back to back.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Two new shows to get excited about

While killing at time at work today (as you do), I happened to come across some news articles discussing two television series that are currently in development. What makes me so excited is that these shows are based on two of the best books I have ever read.

First, HBO has optioned Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Middlesex. The book tells the story of Calliope Stephanides, an intersexed person who was born with a 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. The novel is amazing, addressing issues of gender and sexuality and raising questions of what makes us male versus female. I think everyone can relate to the a book based on the struggles with identity, puberty, and life in general endured by the protagonist.

The novel is certainly rife with drama and themes of self-discovery and sexual identity, so it could without a doubt make for compelling viewing. However, a tv series on of this kind of story could easily go wrong, so I'm banking on HBO's pedigree for great drama to live up to the book.

The other exciting find of the day was the news that a Canadian-German joint effort will be bringing Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth to the small screen. This book is about the building of a cathedral in twelfth century England and the many lives impacted by its rise. The book is huge; I'm just about done with the audiobook, but it's been quite an effort since the darn thing is 32 discs long. So finding about the tv series now is like the cherry on top of my giant literary ice cream sundae.

There's a website for the show which has a little bit of info and a summary of some of the plot. The names attached to the project are pretty impressive: Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, but according to the site, no US distributors have stepped up yet. But with this kind of star power, I'm sure one of the cable networks, or maybe a Canadian station will be airing it. And there's always DVDs, right? It's not scheduled for broadcast until the later half of 2010, but I'm still pretty excited already.

I knew the combination of all that book-learning, tv watching, and web surfing would pay off some day!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Its Well Hung

I am a huge fan of Trueblood and I haven't missed an episode yet this summer (but that's for another blog entry) therefore it was IMPOSSIBLE to miss the countless commercials for HBOs new show HUNG. For those of you unaware, year after year HBO has tried to fill the spot after Entourage or the void. I previously blogged about this slot as being a black hole that shows enter into but never make it out of. First i think it was The Comeback with Lisa Kudrow in 2005, then Lucky Louie in 2007. More recently they attempted the Life and Times of Tim, this show was great and got signed for another season...in two years.

So HBO has set its new show HUNG to be doomed by putting it in the 10 30 Sunday night time slot. However, last week they played it at 10 and I had a chance to watch.

First of all, it is a really great show that both my husband and I truly enjoyed.

It is about a high school teacher who can not get by on the salary, especially after a divorce and his house burning down, so he decides to join the world's oldest profession. After taking a "how to be a millionaire course," Ray Drecker (played by Thomas Pane) decided to put in add in a local paper and begin turning tricks.

The show is set in Detroit, and the director is really playing up the gloom, but cutting to pictures of empty factories and municpal buildings in the opening credits. It is clear this show is meant to be a drama with humorous undertones and not vice versa.

So far I truly like the acting, the characters and the premise. Just to mix it up the show includes Anne Heche as Dreckers ex wife. And of course there is sex.....if you are in the mood for a nice naked scene...tune in. However, I wouldn't count on seeing the package the show is named for. I get this will be nudity, but not the XXX kind.

I hope this show makes it despite its doomed time slot.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ho-Hum

I was late to the game of So You Think You Can Dance. I started watching last year, around the time of the top 8, at the behest of some friends who kept telling me how cool it was and how everyone was doing it and just a little bit won't hurt you.


I got hooked real quick (it's so sad when a good girl goes bad) and have basically been looking forward to it all year. But alas. I'm underwhelmed.

Maybe it's because I jumped in with the top dancers last year and didn't have to wallow through the auditions or two hour episodes full of filler when the dancers are still only performing one dance a week. Or maybe it's because Comcast has clearly been conspiring against me and not recording the first half of the results shows. Anyway, it just hasn't been doing it for me this year.

While some of the dancers have made an impression (Evan, Brandon), for the most part I'm mostly meh towards them. And although Nigel occasionally provides some actual critique of the dancing, Mary's constant screeching is driving. me. crazy. Not to mention the incoherent ramblings of guest judges like Lil C, Mia Michaels, and Toni Basil.

But I can't laythe blame on the judges or the dancers. I'm afraid it's the choreographers who haven't stepped it up this year. For the most part, the routines are kinda dull or just incomprehensible (example: the alien woman trying to impregnate the last man on Earth? Really?). There have been a few exceptions: the crash test dummy dance, the Twilight inspired dance from last week, but overall, they've left me feeling kind of cold. Thankfully the dancers that are good are able to fill the so so routines with enough personality to make them memorable.

This week we've got the top 12 dancers and hopefully the soon-to-be combination of great talent, less filler, and exciting routines will bring back the show I love. Because I think it's going to take all three working together to get me interested again.


One thing I'll never stop loving: the host, Cat. She is so awesome and classy. Keep it up, girl!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Make It or Break It

I'm a sucker for girly movies about athletics. The Cutting Edge, Bring it On, Stick It...all suck me in with their numerous cable viewings, and hell, I own two of them on DVD. Just something about young women kicking ass in sports is inspirational. Especially since lord knows I could never do that crap.

So I was really excited to hear about ABC Family's new series Make It or Break It about some high school level gymnasts. I was concerned how the show would structure itself to fit into a weekly hour drama format, since it seems like the kind of idea that is best served by a movie. After all, it's going to lead up to the big competition where the main character conquers adversity to win, right?

And I think that's going to end up being true, but on the way, there are many twists and turns with relationships between the characters, including in a nice change, the lives of the parents of the kids.

The main character of the show is Emily, a promising gymnast whose family has moved to Boulder, Colorado, so she can train at The Rock (a very prestigious gymnastics facility) with head couch Marty. Emily can only afford to be there because she received a scholarship. Her mom is an Erin Brokovich-esque character, single mom, hoping to find work at a salon, dresses like a ho because she likes it blah blah, which sets up the usual "daughter acting as the mother" cliche. But the characters are likeable so it works.

In the pilot we are introduced to the other main characters: the other three girls at the gym, including the wildly bitchy Lauren, their parents, Marty, the head coach, and Alex Cruz, the owner of the gym. Due to Emily's skill, Lauren gets pushed out of a bid to go to Nationals and in retaliation gets her to Dad to lure Marty away to a new gym. This leaves Emily and the other gymnasts high and dry without a head coach.

There's the usual teen drama plots: Emily has two possible suitors, one of the other girls is involved in a forbidden relationship with a male gymnast, Lauren's Dad is involved with his secretary (played by Candice Cameron!), the wife of the owner of the gym is having an affair with Marty, etc. etc. While nothing here is really original, the acting and writing of the show is well done and I find myself rooting for the characters.

As I noted above, there's actually a lot of time spent on the interactions and relationships between the adults on the show which is a nice touch. Clearly ABC Family wants this to be the kind of show that parents and kids can watch, at least the female members of the family, and I think they have succeeded.

So, if you enjoy movies like Bring it On and Stick It, you'll probably also like Make It or Break It. It's a harmless bit of teen fluff with bonus gymnastics! The show airs Mondays at 9pm on ABC Family.