December 30, 2008

dexter finally

Thanks to holding up for the holidays at my parents' house and many, many Christmas cookies, I finally completed season three of Dexter. I have to admit, after the first season, I never thought this show could maintain the same level of intensity. And though the first season is still the best, this one proved that Dexter can still do it every time. It's just so good. How can a story make you root for a serial killer? But you root for him every time. Not sure how to best sum up my thoughts on this season's story, so I'll try to break it down starting with the minor characters.

I was glad that Angel got a small storyline of his own this season. I also like the move to make him head detective. That dynamic works well with the team. Although I always feel bad that he's usually completely oblivious to (Dexter's work) reality. The hooker/vice cop relationship was cute, but I kept expecting something to go wrong - like she turns out to be some kind of S&M freak or super possessive. She seemed to fall for him too quickly after catching him hiring a hooker. I felt like they were hinting at some bigger issues, but it never got there. And it was also a little odd that Maria dismissed his confession about the prostitution with basically a pat on the head. But she's another story...

God, poor Maria. Why do they keep killing her friends? It seems like she's always the casualty. First, losing her job in the first season, then losing her close friend and believing that he's the serial killer last season when she's usually the one who comes closest to solving cases. Then, making a new friend, who was soon killed by her old friend, who then also turned up dead. Not to mention being deceived and used and almost killed herself. Please, give this girl a boyfriend and a promotion next season.

The new maybe bad, maybe good cop. I like him - a good replacement for dead badass cop. His past is still unclear. I found the internal affairs investigation a little unsatisfying in the end. I'm not sure if that's the end of that plotline, but for all the mystery created by that IA investigator, I thought it kind of fell flat. He covered for a drug addict cop friend, who ended up getting killed by a dealer. Not really the deep dark history I was expecting. And the money for the Cadillac and nice clothes came from a dead relative? Boring. I'm sort of hoping for more from his past next season. I do like his chemistry with Deb. He definitely has a thing for her.

I absolutely cannot stand her. I hope Dexter murders her next season.

She gets better every season. This was some of the strongest writing we've seen for her. She always falls in love with the wrong guy, which is getting a little old. But at least this time she was more empowered and mature in the situation. I really liked the Anton story too - he brought her down a couple of intensity notches, which was needed. I'm hoping he stays around next season, although I'm sure it spells trouble. She also had some great scenes on the job - when she stayed up all night to find the lead about the tree trimmer, the back and forth with the IA investigator, etc. And some good ones with Dex, especially finding out about her dad's affair. Sure we'll see more about that next season.

I would remiss without mentioning this little side story. A lot of people have expressed dislike for this season because it seemed less suspenseful and gory and more about Dexter's internal struggles. I actually didn't have a problem with that. I didn't feel like it betrayed the story. Camilla's story was a great character development device for Dexter. It was about mercy and love for a friend, which is something he never really needs to reconcile with his kills. He spends much of his time having to "act out" how he thinks he is supposed to behave, but I think we saw some of the only "real Dexter" scenes outside of the killing room with Camilla.

Daaaaaaamn. Jimmy Smitts killed this role. He was up and down and all over the place. Perhaps the most psychotic of any of the characters we've seen on this show. Miguel was a monster created without the control that Harry instilled in Dexter. It gave Dexter a glimpse of what he could have become - similar to discovering his brother in the first season. Miguel was seriously scary from the beginning - the manic excitement and then the obsession with justice. I liked how they wrapped it up at the end with his brother Ramon where Dexter was able to help him come to the realization that Miguel really was a sociopath, and Ramon had spent his life trying to pick up the pieces.

This season was really about Dexter's ability to have real relationships. It was interesting to see him go from full on playacting with Rita because he genuinely wants to be a good husband, to being comfortable with Camilla because of their history and because he had nothing to lose by telling her the truth about killing his brother, and the guarded almost childlike hope that he could have his first true friend in Miguel. This led to a crisis of faith and code when Miguel proved to be nothing like the friend he hoped to have, but also opened the door for Dexter to realize how much he valued the loyalty of a sister like Deb (asking her to be his best man) and how much he really does want to be a father to his unborn child. The last scene with the vows "I promise to be the best husband and father I can be." (he narrates: a truly honest vow) proved how difficult it is for Dexter to reconcile who he wants to be (father, husband, brother) and who he needs to be (a killer). The vision of his mother and Harry sitting at the wedding was really interesting because, for better or worse, they represent the two forces that made him who he is.

And let us not forget Vince Masuka. He's a hilarious little perv. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until fall 2009 to see him again.

December 19, 2008

tgif top 10: holiday edition

Christmas is next week, and I love me a Christmas episode. They're traditionally very corny, even in comedies. It's always a good opportunity to learn a thing or two about the characters. (i.e. Chandler hating Thanksgiving because his transvestite father and mother separated on that day)

Top 10 Christmas Episodes
  1. My So-Called Life: "So-Called Angels" This is my favorite Christmas episode of all time. And possibly my favorite series of all time. I'm still not over the fact that it was cancelled so quickly. In this episode, Ricky is living on the streets after escaping from his abusive uncle. Angela spends Christmas eve trying to find him and comes across an abandoned building filled with homeless kids. She meets one girl (played by Juliana Hatfield!), who in the end turns out to be an angel. All the while Angela's mom - just annoying enough to make her completely realistic - is going ballistic looking for her daughter. They eventually find Ricky, and the episode ends in a church with really cool music. Oh, and poor Brian Krakow is alone for Christmas, so he tags along too.

  2. The OC: "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" Season one was my favorite OC season. I always sort of thought it went down from there. I love this episode where Seth is trying to choose between Anna and Summer - both of whom present him with Chrismakkuh gifts. Anna creates an entire comic book called "The Adventures of Seth Cohen and Captain Oats." In my opinion, she blew Summer out of the water, whose present was her dressed a Wonder Woman. Alas, Wonder Woman always wins.

  3. South Park: "Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo" This one needs no explanation.

  4. The Office: "A Bennihana Christmas" The Office always comes up with a great holiday episode. I love this one where Michael gets dumped by Carol after Photoshopping his face onto a photo of her ex-husband and their two kids and sending it out as his Christmas card. He goes to Bennihana to drown his sorrows in "nagasaki" (three parts egg nog and one part saki), and falls in love with a Japanese waitress. But when he and Andy take their new "girlfriends" back to the office holiday party, Michael has to mark his lady's arm with a sharpee because he can't tell the two girls apart (they look nothing alike).

  5. Punky Brewster: "Yes Punky, there is a Santa Claus" I loved this show as a kid. This Christmas episode from this first season when some older mean kid tells Punky there is no Santa Claus, so Henry shows up at her school dressed as Santa. Punky sits on Santa's lap and tells him her only wish for Christmas is to find her mother. Henry looks everywhere for the her even though he's afraid to lose Punky. It's all very sweet. Try not to barf.

  6. All in the Family: "Draft Dodger" If you've never watched All in the Family, rent the DVDs. I know it seems like a one-note old sitcom, but this show was actually really progressive. Going back now to watch the raw bigotry of Archie Bunker is just...well, an interesting social commentary. Also, it's hilarious. This episode was one of the more serious ones. Christmas dinner at the Bunkers features Archie's friend, a military veteran whose son was just killed in Vietnam, and Archie's son-in-law invites his draft dodger friend who's been living in Canada. There's a lot of screaming and fighting on Archie's part until the father who lost his son silences him by sitting down to eat with the kid. This is a poor description - you have to see it.

  7. The West Wing "In Excelsis Deo" I already gushed about this one here.

  8. Gilmore Girls "Forgiveness and Stuff" Every episode of GG is perfection, but this is one of the best. Richard Gilmore suffers a heart attack leading to an amazing performance by Kelly Bishop as wife Emily Gilmore and a really sweet moment at the end with between father and semi-estranged daughter. I also love this episode because we see the first bits of great chemistry and flirtation between Lorelei and Luke. He gives her a ride to the hospital and later at the diner, at her request for something 'festive' he makes a Santa-burger. At the end of the episode she gives him the navy blue baseball hat, which he wears for the rest of the series.

  9. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip "The Christmas Show" Ok, don't laugh. I know this show was on for less than a minute and received crap reviews. I don't care. I love Aaron Sorkin, and I loved this show. In this episode, they are trying to put on Christmas-themed show written by the Jewish Matt Albie, who actually has freakish Christmas spirit. The FCC is trying to slap NBC with a fine because a soldier was heard saying f*ck when a journalist was reporting from Afghanistan. Also, Danny (Bradley Whitford) professes his love to Jordan (Amanda Peet) in a great scene. And there's a cool performance by some real New Orleans musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina at the end.

  10. Silver Spoons "The Best Christmas Ever" An oldie but goodie from the first season when Edward and Ricky are spending their first Christmas together. This episode features a super young Joey Lawrence whose family is literally living in a cave on Edward's property. Christmas spirit ensues, and they play Santa to the needy family. A classic.

If you find yourself stranded with your laptop at the airport or dodging family members next week, you can watch a bunch of full Christmas episodes courtesy of Hulu on this site.

December 18, 2008

the year in pictures

The cast of How I Met Your Mother created a photo montage called "The Best in 2008." I kind of love it.

December 17, 2008

flight of the concords season premiere

I haven't written too much about my love for Flight of the Concords on HBO. The second season premieres on January 18 at 10pm, but is premiering the entire first episode online starting today. You can watch it below.

If you haven't seen it, you should really check it out. You can jump in at any time - the show isn't exactly plot intensive. It's based on a comedy duo from New Zealand called Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. They've been performing musical comedy for years as the basis of a BBC radio show, and this turned into an HBO show set in NYC last year. The show centers around the duo trying to make it in NYC and cultivate an American fanbase. It's confusing - they're real guys doing a fictional show about their musician alter-egos. It's ridiculous and hilarious.

December 12, 2008

tgif top 10

I have no idea why I thought of this.

Top 10 Unheard/Rarely Used Character Names:

  1. Gordon Shumway - "Alf" (Alf)

  2. Hillary Norman Peterson - "Norm" (Cheers)

  3. Benjamin Franklin Pierce - "Hawkeye" (M*A*S*H)

  4. Walter Bradley - "Cockroach" (The Cosby Show)

  5. Jerome McElroy - "Chef" (South Park)

  6. Warren Weber - "Potsie" (Happy Days)

  7. Stanley Clark - "Shaggy" (Scooby Doo)

  8. Richard Stabone - "Boner" (Growing Pains)

  9. Jonas Grumby - "Skipper" (Gilligan's Island)

  10. Ruth Baxter - "Tootie" (Facts of Life)

Honorable mention goes to John Preston - "Mr. Big" (Sex & the City) - a name that was never completely revealed until the movie.

December 11, 2008

2009 golden globe nominees

I love the Golden Globes. They are so fun. I love that there's eating and drinking and movie stars and TV stars all in the same room. I also love that they do ridiculous things like nominate James Franco for Best Supporting Actor in Pineapple Express.

Here are the TV nominations with my picks in bold:

Best Television Series - Drama
In Treatment
Mad Men

True Blood

Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Sally Field, Brothers And Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit
January Jones, Mad Men
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors

Best Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
30 Rock
The Office


Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series -Comedy Or Musical
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Kevin Connolly, Entourage
David Duchovny, Californication
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
A Raisin In The Sun
Bernard And Doris
John Adams

Best Performance By An Actress In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
Judi Dench, Cranford
b. Catherine Keener, An American Crime
Laura Linney, John Adams
Shirley Maclaine, Coco Chanel
Susan Sarandon, Bernard And Doris

Best Performance By An Actor In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
Ralph Fiennes, Bernard And Doris
Paul Giamatti, John Adams
Kevin Spacey, Recount
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Tom Wilkinson, Recount

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
Eileen Atkins, Cranford
Laura Dern, Recount
Melissa George, In Treatment
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers And Sisters
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Denis Leary, Recount
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Blair Underwood, In Treatment
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams

December 10, 2008

bye bye o'malley

We've been hearing the rumors for a while now, and it's official. Dr. O'Malley is leaving Seattle Grace. It's not a huge shock. T.R. Knight's storyline has been virtually nonexistent this season, which is a real shame because I think he's one of the strongest talents in the bunch. T.R. has asked to be released from his contract. No word yet on whether it will be a big dramatic exit for the character or just a simple write off. I'm not expecting much because I'm guessing headwriter Shonda Rhimes is none too happy with him.

This season has been focused on Izzie and her undead boyfriend (Rhimes claims that some sort of brain problem will soon explain her delusions), Callie's love life, Lexi whining, and interns performing morbid procedures on one another. Anyone else bored? Derek has basically become a supporting character, and Bailey isn't far behind.

Ahh well, this happens to all shows at some point. I just hope it doesn't become an EResque revolving door of characters. I'm going to miss T.R., but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone else scoops him up.

December 9, 2008

nbc night moves

We've been waiting a while to see how NBC would handle Jay Leno's departure from The Tonight Show this year. There was talk that they would change their minds and extend his contract, or Leno would move to ABC to start a new show. His ratings have been very strong, so Leno had the upperhand in negotiations. And NBC made a huge move to keep him.

Leno will still have his own show Monday thru Friday...on 10pm. As planned, Conan O'Brian will take over The Tonight Show and Jimmy Fallon will take Conan's spot. This means there will be three hours of late night television on NBC. The network aims to use the momentum of Leno at 10pm to keep viewers on the network through the new Tonight Show and into Jimmy Fallon.

It's an interesting concept, but a huge programming decision. That means NO slots for 10pm shows (or 9pm for central folks), leaving only two hours for primetime programming on NBC. It's not a huge shock because Ben Silverman (NBC prez) hasn't been doing a stellar job lining up successful shows during that hour. But traditionally, it was a big money maker for NBC - shows like ER and Law & Order SVU have had homes there for years. Admittedly, in the DVR/TiVo age, I rarely watch 10pm shows live. So, I do understand the decision. But this really is a big leap of faith for Silverman.

In terms of hosts, I love Conan, and I'm glad they didn't go back on the decision to finally give him the best seat in the house. Less love for Leno, but he is a crowd pleaser, especially among older audiences, so maybe this is the right spot for him. Jimmy Fallon. What has he been doing? I loved him as the cute newbie on SNL, but his act got a little tired after a while. He has a lot to prove. And NBC is trying to get a jump on screen testing by airing webisodes in advance of the new show. Here is Fallon's first attempt. Thoughts? Keep working on reading those cue cards, friend.

December 8, 2008

sunday mornings with shrek

David Gregory was officially named the new host of Meet the Press. I'm not going to over-analyze it because I think it's unfair to judge before he starts. It goes without saying that no one is going to fill Russert's role. It won't be the same show, and it shouldn't be. A new host should make their mark on the program. I think Gregory has strong potential in this seat, but sometimes he struggles too much between trying to be likable and trying to be a hardass, and it comes off as slightly obnoxious and patronizing. Hate to say it, but he should also take a page from the Russert handbook and tone down his sometimes-too-heavy-handed leftiness. And he's a giant.

December 5, 2008

the vent

Apparently, this is my week of videos because I'm about to post another one.

I don't know what this says about my sense of romanticism, but this scene from last night's Grey's Anatomy is one of my favorite kissing scenes of all time.

tgif top 10

This week, I'm looking at a comedic device that drives me crazy: the unseen character. I really hate it. I'm the type of viewer that wants to know everything about each character. I want to see your mother, your sister, and your junior prom date. I hate that we still haven't seen Charlie, even in the movies. So, here is my frustrating list.

Top 10 Unseen TV Characters
  1. Nanny (Muppet Babies) - We only ever saw her legs.

  2. Vera Peterson (Cheers) - Norm's frequently mentioned wife.

  3. Maris Crane (Frasier) - Niles' frequently mentioned wife.

  4. Ugly Naked Guy (Friends) - Maybe it's best that we didn't see.

  5. Tie: Kramer's buddy Bob Saccamo from New Jersey & Steinbrenner (Seinfeld)

  6. Morty Fine (The Nanny) - Fran's father. We often saw his toupee.

  7. Charlie (Charlie's Angels)

  8. The Gooch (Diff'rent Strokes) - The bully who constantly tormented Arnold.

  9. Stan Walker (Will & Grace) - This one plagues me.

  10. Diane (Twin Peaks) - The mysterious recipient of Special Agent Cooper's audio messages.
Honorable mention goes to Wilson of Home Improvement, a trick that never lost its charm.

December 4, 2008

blogger confession

If you read this blog, it's important for you to know one thing. I love American Idol. Love it. You can tell me that American Idol is everything that's wrong with consumerism and celebrity and music in society today, but I will bop you on the head because I don't care. These kids get me every time.

And it's coming back in January. If this promo doesn't give you goosebumps, then Santa is bringing you coal.

P.S. that was my 50th blog!

December 3, 2008

this is amazing: proposition 8, the musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

December 1, 2008

bunch of turkeys

I have been out of the TV loop for the past week using family with premium channels to furiously catch up on Dexter and Entourage (more on this later). But a few things have transpired during this time:

  • Rosie Live was canned pretty much as soon as it aired. Ratings and reviews were horrible, so NBC won't be pursuing any follow up shows. I only caught a minute or two and it was pretty painful. Deep down, I do think Rosie is a very talented entertainer, but unfortunately - agree or disagree - she turns people off when some abrupt opinions. And you really need to be loved to make a variety show work. Incidentally, the Osbourne family is trying their hand at a variety program that is expected to air early next year on FOX. I'll admit, I'm intrigued. I do love them.

  • NBC just announced its January schedule (not for the entire spring season, just January). The struggling network replaced Chuck and Heroes (to return in February) with two new reality shows Superstars of Dance (sound familiar?) and Mamas Boys (moms choose mates for their sons, from the genius of Ryan Seacrest). Howie Mandel has another show premiering on Fridays called Howie Do It. I don't want to know. And Friday Night Lights comes back for its third season on January 16.

  • TMZ (the show on FOX) was just renewed for TWO more seasons. For real.

  • Grey's Anatomy is pissing me off. I have confirmation that Dead Denny will be on the show AT LEAST through February. This is starting to get insulting. Also, Mary McDonnell premiered as Dr. Dixon, the heart surgeon with Asperger's Syndrome, two weeks ago. I was thrown off by her depiction of this syndrome, and I guess I wasn't alone. A reader from Michael Ausiello's column, who is living with Asperger's had this to say about the portrayal: "robotic and single focused -- which we are but not to that degree. Grey's missed the boat on this one. Instead of normal with slight social misperceptions, it came off as a bad version of a high-functioning autistic, and they're two different things." Admittedly, I don't know enough to judge for myself, but I really think Shonda Rhimes needs to shape it up.

  • Finally, a show I haven't really talked about since the premiere: Fringe. I really, really want to love this show, but it's getting to be a struggle. It had the potential to be my new X-Files, and I think Joshua Jackson and John Noble are brilliant. Unfortunately, the female lead, Anna Torv, blows chunks. She is horrible and emotionless, which is really too bad because J.J. Abrams tends to pick stellar leading ladies (Jennifer Garner, Kerri Russell). But I did just read some good news - Ari Graynor has just been cast as Anna's younger sister. If you don't know her, I have a feeling you will soon. She appeared in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist as a hilarious drunk girl and also played Meadow's college roommate on Sopranos. The girl has it. Here's hoping they kill off Anna Torv and replace with cooler sis character.

That's all I got.