Friday, April 30, 2010

Secret Boyfriend of the Week

This week's Secret Boyfriend should be a familiar face. To most none fandom-crazy people, he's a total, "Hey! It's that Guy!" A quick run-down of his IMDB page will show that he's been in a ton of primetime shows during the past few years, and basically anything that has ever filmed in Vancouver. In fact, now I am wondering if he is Canadian. But if so, I won't hold it against him. So who is he?

Mark Sheppard.

I can hear you from here. You're saying, "who?" So how abouts I break it down.

He was Badger on Firefly.

Lovin the bowler hat, Mark.

And he was Romo (the lawyer) on Battlestar Galactica.

And most recently, he's the demon Crowley on Supernatural.

And you've probably also seen him on Chuck, Leverage, CSI, so yeah, dude gets around.

And he's SBFOTW this week for several reasons, first of which is that he brought a much needed adrenaline rush to Supernatural's most recent episode (which frankly has gotten so bogged down in angst this season it's missing a lot of the old fun), and second, he has pretty much always impressed me with his quality of acting. Sure, he tends to come in to a series, be awesome for a handful of episodes and then depart, but you don't forget him. He's a consummate character actor who gets it done. Whatever it happens to be. Funny, scary, smart, intimidating, crazy; he's done it all and done it well.

Plus, I think he's adorable.

So, cheers, Mark! I hope you stick around Supernatural for awhile, come back to Chuck soon, and I might even check out Leverage now that I know you're in it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Upcoming Shows

I never really understood why the networks sometimes decide to premiere new shows in May. But they do, so here we are. Trying to decide if these are worth our time.

First up, the show I am most likely to watch: The Good Guys, which premieres on FOX on June 17 (with a sneak peek on May 19). FOX is billing it with a three word campaign, and I gotta say, it's working for me.


From what I've seen, it seems like a throw-back to the 1980s cop shows. But all I needed to know is that it has Bradley Whitford. With a fabulous mustache. Oh, and Colin Hanks, the adorable son of Tom Hanks. Here's a preview:

And it's true. The ladies do like the 'stache. But mostly they like Bradley Whitford.

And now for a show I haven't actually decided whether I want to watch or not. Happytown, which premieres tonight on ABC at 10pm. The previews make it look like a serial killer mystery show, but some of the reviews I've read mention that it tries to be one of those comedy-drama hybrids. Either way, the reviews have not been kind, even from fan-based sites like Ain't It Cool. In fact, their reviewer referred to it as a bad Twin Peaks rip-off. Ouch. But then again, I took a chance on Harper's Island last summer and ended up really enjoying it, despite the cheesiness and bad reviews.

I think I'll give a chance...and of course, report back to you all what I thought!

Great Episode... Or Greatest Episode?

Last night's episode of Glee rocked my socks off. Literally. I am sock-less. Here's why...

1. More Kurt!
As always, Chris Colfer delivered a brilliantly nuanced and emotionally powerful performance. Mike O'Malley (as Kurt's dad) and Romy Rosemont (as Finn's mom) really brought up the level of the room as well. I was really pleased with the whole Hummel-Hudson family drama. Especially the pace - still speedy, but less of the whiplash feeling of previous episodes.

2. More Mercedes!
Yes, her whole story line this episode was a little After-school Special. Still, it kind of worked. The way she hijacked the pep rally... AMAZING. Honestly, tears in my eyes. And how it turned around for Sue's benefit - saw it coming, but it was brilliant.

Words cannot describe how much I love these two.

3. More Kristin Chenoweth!
One question - why isn't she in every episode?!? Okay, maybe that's a bit of hyperbole - KC episodes are great partially because they're rare. But just like more experienced actors seem to improve the overall acting, KC turns up the music to 11. Every single time.

In conclusion: more like this, please. IMHO, the less said about Rachel and What's-His-Eventual-Traitor-Face, the better.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

EW Exclusive

Legend of the Seeker has been canceled.

I never watched this show, but I know that many people loved it and will mourn its passing. I'm actually surprised it lasted as long as it did. Syndicated fantasy epics - worked with Xena and Hercules, but does anyone really know why? Maybe because they drew so much from Greek mythology, they were ever so slightly more accessible than your typical fantasy. Even though we may not be able to relate to Xena's on-again-off-again romance with the God of War, we at least knew who Ares was and how he fit in his world. Less need for world-building = more time for character development = more interesting characters = better show for me, personally.

Same goes for Harry Potter - even with all the magical shenanigans, the kid still runs around in jeans (excuse me, denims), worrying about smooching girls and winning The Big Game. In contrast, look at The Golden Compass. Souls and familiars and stardust and theocracies and, and, and! There was a lot going on there - I was too busy trying to figure things out to form any sort of emotional bond with the protagonist. (Note that I am referring to the movies only - no hate mail re: the books, please.)

But maybe I'm wrong. Fans of Legend of the Seeker, how as the world-building? Did you bond with the characters? Or were you just in it to see if the dashing hero ever gets it on with the hot mind-control babe?

No? Just me?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Eleventh Hour or, How I learned to love a Doctor that is not named Eccleston or Tennant

Alright enough procrastinating. People keep asking me "what did you think of the new Doctor?" and I kept saying, "oh, you know. I'll blog about it soon. What did you think?" And then of course "soon" came and went and here we are two weeks into the new Doctor's run on BBC America and I haven't made a peep. So here's what I think.

I think that the Doctor should not wear skinny jeans.

Matt Smith is the Doctor. Sure he's different than Tennant and different from Eccleston, but he was always going to be different. The highest praise I can think to give him as an actor is that in my mind, there is no doubt he is the Doctor. From the moment he started talking to Amelia Pond I was there; the Tenth Doctor had just regenerated into the Eleventh Doctor and he looked like Matt Smith. He was brilliant, mercurial, a complete and utter nutter, and of course, adorable. But he is, at the core, still the Doctor.

What, you want specifics? FINE. You people are so demanding. Obviously, right off the bat, the Doctor looks younger now. I think this will mean people will respond to his saying, "I'm the Doctor" with a kind of, "HAHA kid, you're funny." So perhaps he will have to work harder to get people to catch on to his genius. Which means we'll probably get a lot of the "I am brilliant and will tell you why" moments that can get kind of tiresome and can also get the Doctor into trouble (cough Midnight cough).

But I think it also means that the Doctor is going to be more immediately accepting of other people's potential for awesomeness. In the scene from the premiere when the Doctor recruits Jeff (the hot guy) to jump into a conversation with some of the greatest minds in the world, he just accepts that Jeff is capable of rising to the task. Sure, the moment came off as a bit overly sappy, but I still liked it. I feel like Ten (and definitely Nine) would make you work for it first, make you prove your usefulness. And if you didn't, then sorry, maybe you aren't cut out for this kind of work. From the brief time we've spent with Eleven (which for me is only the first episode), it seems that he just expects people to be great. I wonder what happens when someone lets him down?

As for Amy, I'm not convinced. I do feel really bad for her; after all, the Doctor has essentially effed up her life since the time she was a little girl. He's like the ultimate imaginary friend...who up and leaves you. Which is kind of the one thing that an imaginary friend is not supposed to do. And it only took 4 psychiatrists to break her down to the point where she would believe he didn't exist. And then whoops! One day he just shows up again AND saves the world AND then goes away again for two years. Also, besides being an adorable child, Amy hasn't really done anything too companion-worthy yet. Hopefully she'll soon be tasked with actually doing something in an episode.

I'm definitely intrigued by the whole "Silence will fall" thing and the Pandorica or whatever the heck Prisoner Zero was on about. Ladies and gentleman, we have a season arc! I trust Moffat for sure and can't wait to see where we go next. His episodes were always my favorite, and while I didn't feel The Eleventh Hour was on par with his past episodes, I'm ridiculously excited for the return of River Song, the Weeping Angels, and all matter of Moffat-goodness. I am hoping the future eps will feel more classic Moffat and a little less classic Davies.

Another good thing about the new Doctor: TWOP has brought Doctor Who out of hiatus and Jacob is back to recapping. Awesome. While he seems to love both Eleven and Amy, be warned; he has some definite criticisms for Moffat regarding the first couple episodes, and most of his points I think are completely valid. You can find his recap of the first episode here.

So what did you think of the new Doctor? Personally, I don't think bow ties are cool, but I'm all about the elbow patches.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is "All Madonna" the new "Jump the Shark"?

Clearly this blog is not going to become all Glee all the time, however, since this season was so publicized and much anticipated I will once again write on Glee. Last night was the "Power of Madonna" episode. **SPOILER ALERTS** Its tracklist encompasses "Express Yourself", a mash-up of "Borderline" and "Open Your Heart", "Vogue", "Like A Virgin", "4 Minutes", "What It Feels Like for a Girl", and "Like a Prayer". Overall, I was once again REALLY disappointed not only in the performances, but also in the plot. It feels like Glee has lost its "flow." Last week I blogged about Plot whiplash and this episode was just as bad. Tina and Artie, back together and in a fight in...two seconds.

Now I will admit I thoroughly enjoyed the mash-up of "Borderline" and "Open Your Heart" performed by Lea Michele & Cory Monteith (Rachel & Finn). It felt like the old Glee, with romance, passion and skilled singing. Also, "Like A Virgin" wasn't bad, BUT it wasn't great either.

However, the rest of the performances were lack luster and frankly pretty boring. AND WHAT WAS UP WITH THE STILT DANCING! Pretty white girls look awkward and weird on stilts and it was out of place and....weird!

I know there was massive disagreement with me on the vogue video but it also felt forced and out of place. It didn't flow and it felt like they "added a plot line" to compliment the usage of the song, rather than coming up with songs to compliment on going plot lines.

FINALLY last night I recognized Jonathan Groff, who plays Rachel's new romantic interest Jesse. It had been bugging me from last week who he was and I finally picked up on it (with some help from IMDB). He starred opposite Lea Michele as Melchior Gabor in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening. Now, he is not the best actor and he isn't the best looking kid, but he can sing! As anyone has heard his performances from Spring Awakening can attest his voice is his strong suit. Since Spring Awakening brought not only Jonathan, but Lea to fame, they should throw a song from it into the show. Might I suggest "My Junk." :)

I am sticking with the show, but I hope it improves. The all Madonna episode was weak!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Extra Extras.

When I got my blu-ray player, I heard a lot of "can you really tell the difference?" And the answer is, yes, you can. Especially on shows with bright colors (Ugly Betty) or hot stubbly guys (Supernatural) or lots of blood (True Blood).

In fact, I've been revisiting the first season of True Blood which I happen to own on blu-ray thanks to Amazon holiday lightning deals last year. One of the coolest things about owning movies and shows on blu-ray (in addition to the sound and picture quality) is you get a chance to see the extra extras that the creators load onto the discs. In the case of True Blood, it's the "enhanced viewing" mode.

While you watch an episode, at the bottom of the screen facts or hints will occasionally pop up filling you in on the details of vampire culture, the history of Bon Temps, and the characters on the show. A map will also appear to give you an idea of where things are in relation to one another...for example, Jason lives basically across the street from Gran's. Shocker. I'm surprised he can dress himself without help.

But the coolest thing about the enhanced viewing mode is the background info you get on the vampires and townspeople. Even a vampire who has only one line will get a back story, letting you know when they were born, when they were turned, and what they did in-between and after (this appears as a few sentences at the bottom of the screen). But it's even better for the Bon Temps residents, as a small window with everyone's favorite gay drug-deal/short order chef appears, and Lafayette tells you all about a person, their family, and their place in the town. With appropriate flare of course, Lafayette also clues the viewer in on the gossip of Bon Temps and the world at large. Check out a clip below, where Lafayette talks about the advent of V:

I wouldn't recommend watching the enhanced viewing mode if it's your first time through the episodes, since it gives pretty blatant hints of what's coming up in the season. But for a fan who wants to get more out of the show and get some inside scoop on the vampires and people of Bon Temps, it's pretty freakin cool. And it reminds me why premium cable is the place to be. Too bad I'm so frugal/thrifty/cheap that I'm not willing to spring for the extra cable costs. After all, that's why God invented blu-ray, right?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Buh-Bye Betty

....And so it ends. Ugly Betty aired its last episode last week after four years of braces, fashion, fabulousness, evil plots, and mexican food. And I gotta say, I was sorry to see it end.

But I was extremely satisfied with how the show ended. There was a small sense of the overall plot having been sped up; if memory serves, the word came down not too long ago about the cancellation, so things had to be moved ahead to get some resolution. For example: Betty ends up moving to London and taking an awesome new job, Hilda, Justin, and the new husband move out, Amanda finds her father, Mark finds true lurv, Papi decides he wants to live on his own and be an independent woman, Wili also finds true lurv and turns over a new leaf where she will only be a bitch some of the time, and Daniel decides he is in love with Betty.

Did you catch that last one. DANIEL IS IN LOVE WITH BETTY.

I know there have always been Daniel/Betty shippers and until these past couple episodes I was against it. But despite the speedy progression of the plot and character development over the last episodes, I've basically come around. It felt natural to the show and it's true that Betty has really been the one person that has stuck with Daniel through the past 4 years. And I like that the show didn't end with them "together," just with the possibility that there might be something down the road. I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure his taking her to dinner was more than just two friends getting together, it was definitely a date.

I'll miss ya Betty. And not just because you were a great character, but because the people surrounding you were awesome, hilarious, at times evil, and just in general fun. And really, what else can you ask for?

End of Series Quiz

Favorite Episode(s): In or Out, in which the "bandage lady" of the first season is revealed to be Alexis, or Daniel's presumed dead brother, Alex, post-sex change. Best. Twist. Ever.

Favorite Character(s): Marc. He's snarky, adorable, but has just enough kindness inside to keep from being a villain.

Favorite Quote:

Marc: "I can't go stag, hag"
Amanda: "Buy your own beer, queer"
Marc: "You can't just ditch, bitch"

Gone Before It’s Time? Yeah, I think so. There was another season of quality programming in there.

At Least We’ll Always Have…: Memories of watching the show right after my upgrade to an HD TV. Seriously, it was one of the first shows that I noticed a huge difference. All those bright colors!

Friday, April 16, 2010

More news from the Whedon-verse

It's getting to the point where I feel like all I contribute to this blog are tidbits of info (sometimes tangentially) related to Joss Whedon. And... I'm okay with that.

1. Felicia Day stars in Red, Syfy's modern re-telling of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood ... as a werewolf hunter. Hells to the yes.

Felicia on set ... looking good!

This is part of a larger series of re-imagined fairy tales - the first one, Beauty and the Beasts: A Dark Tale aired in February. Now, I know Syfy's movies are notoriously bad, and there is so much that can go wrong when you bastardize modernize something classic. On the other hand - Felicia Day.

2. Speaking of Syfy, Tahmoh Penikett (Ballard from Dollhouse) will star in Riverworld, based on a series of books about what sounds like a cracked-out version of Purgatory. But does acting in Dollhouse even qualify you to enter the Whedon-verse? In my mind, it's almost enough to kick Eliza Dushku out again...

3. Alan Tudyk in Tucker and Dale vs Evil - okay, I have to find a way to see this.
Two hillbillies are suspected of being killers by a group of college kids camping near the duo's West Virginian cabin. As the body count accidentally climbs so does the fear and confusion as the college kids try to seek revenge against the pair, who believe that the kids are on some sort of suicide pact.
Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Shaun of the Dead. I'm not a fan of horror, but horror-comedy? Sign me up! Sadly, it's only being shown on the big screen in ... the Netherlands? Can that be right?

Even blood-spattered, he's so adorable.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Just In

Joss to direct The Avengers.

Dear Marvel Studios,

Have you been reading my diary?


Monkey Sri

I've been waiting for a reason to use this pic.
(The A to Z of Awesome)

P.S. Still jonesing for Joss? Looking to whet your whistle with more Whedon? Check out the 8-bit version of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long blog (a fan's tribute to the original). Dr. Horrible + old-school NES graphics + adapted music = SHEER JOY. The only disappointment is that it's not a playable game...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Return of Glee! ***SPOILER ALERTS****

I am a Glee fan! I fully enjoyed the last mini season and was part of the masses enthused by its return. I am also INCREDIBLY enthused for the continuation of the season, however, I have more negative than positive things to say about last night's episode. ***SPOILER ALERTS**** if you have not seen the episode, I suggest stopping here.

My first criticism of last night's hour long return was the plot whiplash I was given. As you may recall last season ended with Quinn and Finn breaking up and Mr. Shue and Emma getting together. We were all enthused by the prospect of Rachel Finn and the teacher couples. In last night's episode we jumped right into the relationship mix. In fact, we were given no real union for Rachel and Finn. It just turned out they were together, when the end of the last mini season Quinn stated that neither of them got him. So that was odd. And to add to the whip lash Shue and Emma got together, got hot and heavy, he cheated, his ex caused jealousy issues and they broke up...all in one episode...Jesus! That was a little much. ON TOP OF THAT, we had Finn and Rachel, break up, each get new dates, Finn wants her back, she says no...twice. SLOW DOWN GLEE! I get you are setting up other plots but COME ON!

My second criticism is the music. I get that Glee shot to fame for doing numbers that were reworks of pop songs. However, they also pulled in a group of theatre nerds by working in real musicals. The duet of Defying Gravity from Wicked was my favorite song of the season. This first episode was all pop/rock songs. The line up included: "Hello, I Love You" from the Doors (recently returned through remakes and commercials), "Gives You Hell" from the All American Rejects (2008), "Hello" from Lionel Richie (pop crap from the 80s), "Hello Again" Neil Diamond (which was my fav), "Highway to Hell" (70s Rock), "Hello, Goodbye" (Beatles also recently redone and in commercials). Therefore, Pop/Rock all recently made or currently popular. I hope we hear a little more diversity in the future. Though I doubt that will occur in the all Madonna episode (which has the prospect of being good despite the AWFUL Sue Sylvester vogue rendition).

I am enthused by one HUGE thing this season...IDINA MENZEL! For those of you not familiar with her Broadway career Idina was in the movie release of Rent and has a fantastic voice. She starred on Broadway opposite Kristin Chenowith (in last season) in Wicked. She is one of my favorite performers, and I am looking forward to her singing.

The only other thing I am looking forward to is Finn pursuing Rachel. All last season we watched her pine, so I am excited to see him beg a little :)

What did you think of last night's GLEE!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Streamys 2010

Sunday night saw the 2nd annual Streamy Awards, an awards show "devoted to honoring excellence in original web television programming." My girl Felicia Day was nominated for Best Actress, and her web series The Guild was nominated for eight awards total. As a special bonus the organizers planned to showcase the cause of net neutrality, especially in light of the recent Comcast/FCC ruling (turns out the ISPs do have the right to restrict/slow access to certain websites - wait, what?).

So I'm scratching my head as to why Sunday's show was, apparently, a total disaster. This LA Weekly blog post does a great job of explaining the total cluster that was the 2010 Streamys: "technical difficulties, crude humor, a run time of more than three hours, a poorly executed script, etc." Apologies have been issued by the executive producers and the board of directors.

Personally, I was puzzled about the complaints of 'crude humor.' I mean ... how crude do you have to be to shock a room full of internet denizens? Technical difficulties make records sketchy - and mostly based on Twitter accounts from people backstage. Apparently, not only were the jokes in extremely poor taste (think necrophilia, infanticide and 9/11) - they were flatly insulting to the web TV industry. Here's what Chance McClain of Horrible Turn (an unauthorized homage to Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog) had to say:
It was deliberate, crafted, written by pros, and terrible... it was almost like some brass from TV and movie land decided to pay off some local scrub actors. “Here’s 10 grand. What I need you to do is make the whole notion of web television into a joke. They want credibility? We’ll give them vulgarity! Remind 'em that the internet is for porn and amateurs."

As a result, lots of people didn't even stay until the end. Felicia Day probably booked it immediately after she was assaulted by a man wearing a thong. Yeah, I wouldn't advise clicking that link.

Maybe we'll never know what the heck caused the 2010 Streamys disaster. The real question is - will this hurt the cause of net neutrality, or help it? On one hand, the fact that its major awards show was so terrible and offensive can't make the industry, and any of its associated causes, look very good. On the other hand ... any publicity is good publicity, right? If the web TV peeps can spin this right in their blogs, they can keep the moral high ground and shine a bigger spotlight on the cause of net neutrality than a well-mannered Streamys alone ever could.

Just trying to make lemonade out of lemons here, people.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview with a Neilsen Family

While having dinner with some friends from work last week, I discovered something amazing. One of them was a Nielsen family. That's right; she and her family were one of the select few whose tv-watching actually MATTERS and who help determine the ratings. I'm not one to let such an opportunity slide, so I asked my friend (whose identity I have to keep secret since we common folk aren't really supposed to know who the Nielsen peeps are) if she would mind granting me a little interview. So without further ado, here is the interview!

First things first, how did you get selected?

A Nielsen representative knocked on our door one evening and after interviewing my husband asked if we would like to participate. As explained to us, it is likely that there had been another Nielsen family in our neighborhood or near us, and they had to find someone else in our neighborhood. Although they were looking for a specific demographic (which they did not disclose to us), they actually have to take the first family that will agree to be Nielsen members.

What can you tell me about the way Nielsen measures what you watch? Is there a little box on top of your tv or something that takes note of what's on the tv?

There is a black box on top of our cable box. Each person in the family is assigned a number, and we always have openings for any guests, where we can enter their age. Each time we turn on the television we have to plug in the number of who is watching television, we have a separate remote for that purpose. After 42 minutes of watching a show, the lights start flashing and you have to confirm that you are still watching the show. If you do not enter a number when you turn on the television, red lights flash constantly and Nielsen is alerted that the tv is being watched without a number assignment. When we first became Nielsen members, they spent an entire day here putting equipment in each of our televisions, so they know what we watch and how long we watch it. The only thing that really screws up the system is when we turn the mute button on, because the system needs sound to work properly. We will get a phone call a few days later from Nielsen if we have had the mute button on too much or have watched television without entering our numbers.

I assume you have a DVR, but since you are a Nielsen family do you feel like you should be watching things live? I know that Nielsen has started measuring DVR watching…but I think I would feel like guilty for not watching things live!

We have a DVR on each television. If we watch a television program within 7 days of it being aired it will be counted in the total Nielsen number; however, until you watch the program it will not be counted. So for example, while Nielsen numbers are sometimes released to the public the day after a program airs, the numbers could keep climbing if Nielsen members watch it on DVR. I believe statistics have been released which show that some shows benefit more from DVR watching rather than live watching. We do make sure to watch certain shows - particularly ones that we love that we know are in trouble - live just to make sure we get our numbers in early, although we did this more in the beginning.

What are your favorite shows? Do you make an effort to watch low-rated shows to help them out (cough Friday Night Lights cough)?

I recall when the show 'Roseanne' was on, they became a Nielsen family and only wanted to watch "smart" programs; us, not so much, we stick with what we like. I like FNL, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, Life Unexpected, Grey's Anatomy, Project Runway, Amazing Race, The Office, The Good Wife, and Real Housewives (OC & NYC), Parenthood, The Bachelor (sometimes) - By the way, I do not not watch American Idol, I know they have crazy Nielsen numbers but I'm not part of it - I sometimes tune into Dancing with the Stars. Of those shows, I always watch FNL and Life Unexpected live, the rest I watch via DVR although sometimes the same night, I try to watch within the 7 days. My husband watches lots of sports, Lost, Entourage, CSI, and lots of TLC/Discovery shows. We both watch Daily Show with John Stewart and tune into Jimmy Fallon occasionally. The kids watch a lot of programs on demand (Comcast cable) which still count towards Nielsen. They like Olivia, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Bob the Builder, and Handy Manny. I sometimes will try out a show because I know that our Nielsen numbers will help; however, I don't tend to stick with a show unless I really like it. When the whole Conan O'Brien saga was going on, we made sure to watch him every night, and now we refuse to watch Jay Leno - don't want to give him any Nielsen numbers.

How long is your tour of duty with Nielsen?

Our term lasts two years, although you can quit at any time. It gets tiresome having to constantly plug in our numbers, but it will feel strange once we don't have to do it anymore.

So there you have it! Sounds to me like being a Nielsen family is much more of a hassle than I thought...having to plug in all those numbers and deal with them calling if there is a problem. Very big brother-esque. They're watching you...watching television!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I'm already crazy, thanks.

What's the longest amount of time you've ever spent alone? I'm talking no human contact. Even during the blizzard in February when I was housebound for almost a week, I talked to people. On the phone, online, I even felt like I had some interaction from television. But what if there had been nobody? Just me. And no books, television, or internet. Just me and my brain locked in a room.

Yeah, I think I would have gone insane. Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining type of crazy. Heeeeeeere's Maggie!

On April 11, the National Geographic Channel is airing a documentary about people who voluntarily go into solitary confinement. According to the show's website, solitary could cause "long term mental problems like paranoia, disorientation, and delirium."Fun!

So I guess we'll be seeing these people gradually going crazy as they try to keep their minds intact while spending almost the entire day locked inside a small room. Alone. I think for me the toughest thing would be not knowing what time it is. While I have a pretty good eternal clock, being locked in a room with no idea of the passage of time would be maddening. Literally. But I'll definitely be watching, because the concept and the show sound fascinating.

And hey, if I get tired of that I can always watch Spider Sex.

No really. There's another National Geographic show called Spider Sex. Now THAT's entertainment.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Change--good or bad?

I'm not a big fan of change. I like routine, schedules, planning. Don't get me wrong, I like to have fun, in fact a friend of mine described me as a "spontaneous planner," which means aside from sudden bouts of adventure, I like things to stay as they are. I guess you could say I follow an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy of life.

So I don't know what to think about the big changes that have been announced for this summer's edition of So You Think You Can Dance. Over on Twitter, Nigel Lithgoe, the show's producer, has been teasing changes to my favorite reality series including making this an All-Stars edition, having the dancers switch partners every week, no top 20, etc. You can find a round-up of the changes over at Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch blog.

On one hand, it seems like a cool idea to have the cream of the crop return, on the other it kind of smacks of desperation. The show didn't do so hot when FOX moved it to the Fall, and there were big problems with the scheduling. Also, one of the coolest parts of the show is seeing some unknown dancer plucked from obscurity shine on a world stage. These dancers all had their chance; they've already competed and not won the prize. Why should they get another shot? Of course, we also know that since they are considered All-Stars all the dancers will be awesome. Which makes for good television.

I just don't know what to think. I guess the proof will be in the pudding; if the show is great we will all say Nigel is a genius and what a success the season was. If the show kind of sucks, we'll boo him and move onto next summer.

I'm only really sure of one thing: bring back Twitch!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Bring on the corn on the cob!

(spoilers for the past weeks' Ugly Betty contained within!)

Ugly Betty continues surge forward to its series finale, and big changes are happening! Big change #1: Betty got her braces off! And she looks good.

Unlike some people, I think Ugly Betty has done a great job gradually having Betty transform on the outside. I think inside she's still mostly the same smart, optimistic, ray of sunshine with perhaps just a little more worldliness. But the outside has definitely made big leaps during the past few years. Remember where we started?

Yikes. Who wears a poncho like this on their first day of work??

But things really have changed for our intrepid fashion journalist. She and Marc and Amanda are (gasp!) close friends now, Daniel has learned to pretty much always do what she says, and even Wilhemina has come around with some Betty love.

Oh, and big change #2: Justin kissed a dude. Woot! After telling everyone who would listen that he had a crush on a girl in his acting class (yeah, right), Justin and his friend Austin shared a kiss after their one act performances. It wasn't gratuitous, it wasn't exploitative, it was just about two teens recognizing their feelings for one another. And they both happened to be guys.

So keep it coming, Betty! If the rest of the season progresses like the episodes that have already aired, I think we're in for a funny, shocking, and touching series finale. Which I can't wait to see...but also don't want to come too soon, since it means the end of Betty forever.

“Isn’t it obvious? Your stumble into good taste has killed her!” —Marc, scolding Betty after Willy sees her new, fashionable ensemble and keels over in pain.