April 29, 2009

idol top 5

I'm running behind this week, so I'm getting the performance post up just under the wire before results. I'm excited about the top 5.

This week's theme is "Rat Pack" Big Band standards. And the surprise mentor is... Jamie Foxx. Fun. At least they're making up for the boredom of last week.

Kris: Singing "The Way You Look Tonight" by Tony Bennett. Jamie just offered to make a record with Kris He is blown away by him. He's sporting a suit and tie - cute, but looks a little like he's wearing his big brother's suit. I would like him to shave that mustache situation. The boy can sing though. This was a great song choice for him. He's not messing with the melody too much, but he's putting his own style into it. Huge raves from the first three judges, but Simon called it "wet" and not enough to win the competition. I just wish Kris showed a little more personality when he isn't singing.

Allison: Singing "Someone to Watch Over Me" which I just found out was originally composed by George Gershwin, made famous by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Allison looks adorable tonight. I think she just messed a lyric "someone who watch over me..." but hopefully no one will notice. It's a sweet, soulful performance with her trademark power notes. I think a strong ballad was a good choice for the only girl singing among a group of Rat Pack boys. Again, the first three loved it. Simon liked it, but still says he doesn't feel her desire to win, and thinks she could be in trouble this week. Kara called him crazy.

Matt: Singing "My Funny Valentine" which was originally a show tune from a show called Babe in Arms, but was also made popular by Frank Sinatra. Google is teaching me so much tonight. Jamie is working really with Matt on this song...the man is talented. Just based on his style, I think this could be Matt's week to shine. It's a tough song, but his vocals sound great. I sort of wish he played the piano because he gets a lot of energy from that. I won't complain too much because he's really putting his heart into it. Randy called it pitchy, Kara didn't feel any emotional connection, but Paula disagrees and so do I. Simon called it the only believable, authentic song he's heard tonight. He could tell Matt really felt it and called it absolutely brilliant - all very high praise coming from Simon.

Danny: Singing "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Ray Charles. Jamie took a liking to Danny and literally got right up in his face. Danny is looking very dapper in his navy suit. Just like Matt, Danny is putting his heart into this song. In the second half, he really brings out the blues style in the typical Danny. He brings it every time, and I always love it. I think I just have a soft sport for him. Randy says Danny is the only one tonight who could actually have an album of these songs. Kara says he has swagger. Paula called it stellar. Simon also complimented his swagger and confidence - he came out to prove a point that he belongs here.

Note: Somehow, I only just now noticed Paula's dress. Or is she just hiding behind a red bed sheet?

Adam: Singing "Feeling Good" which as far as I can tell is a Nina Simone song. Adam almost had Jamie Foxx in tears. Everyone loves the boy. He's rocking a shiny white suit tonight, but nothing really shocks us with Adam. He sounds impeccable as usual. Not that I know what I'm talking about, but I get a Broadway feel from the performance. Wait, I'm not crazy. Randy called it "a little too Broadway" but still loved it. Kara called it shocking and sleezy, but loves it. She's drinking some Paula juice tonight. Who incidentally just likened him to Michael Phelps. I like Simon because he always judges the way the contestants are competing - not just their vocals, etc. - and he can feel that Adam wants to win every week.

Who I think is going home: Allison
Who I hope is going home: Matt
Who got my vote: Danny

save chuck!

Just got this link from the mighty Save Chuck Movement. Sign the petition!

If you love the show, sign it. If you love Zachary Levi, sign it. If you love girl fights, sign it. If you love your mother, sign it!

April 27, 2009

chuck finale, please not forever

I hope you all are watching Chuck right now, and it wouldn't hurt if you have a few Subway sandwich wrappers in your trash cans. I'm about to start watching a little delayed via DVR, so I can speed through those pesky ads. I'll write a few thoughts while I'm watching...no promises on my grammar or sentence structure. Not that there ever are.

Right out of the gate, my stomach does a little flip when Chuck and Casey walk through the Buy More side by side catching stares from everyone. And...they quit!

The General offers Chuck an analyst job? She even smiled a little! It was a fleeting moment as Chuck turned down her offer. And who knew Chuck was in for a big chunk of government change?

I love Casey's secret phone number card. That was his equivalent of a big hug for Chuck.

I have to say, I'm unenthused to see Bryce Larkin again. Not because he'll mess things up for Sarah and Chuck - I just never found his character that interesting.

It's pretty hilarious that Casey's voice goes 8 octaves lower when reunited with his unit.

In a moment of putting it all out on the line for Sarah - asking her to take a vacation with him - Chuck shot down. Figuratively. At least for now, as Chevy means business.

Is it me or does Morgan's hair keep getting taller as he gets shorter?

Turns out Bryce is a good guy afterall.
I love Chuck's dad working with Sarah. I just really love that Orion.


Hahahaha.... Awesome Dad calls Lester an Indian lesbian.

The fight scene in the reception hall...and all I can think about is all of those ruined flowers and place settings. Incidentally, it's all pretty ugly. A heart-shaped ice sculpture? Thankfully, that was not long for this world.

I don't know what this says about me, but I almost cried when Casey came crashing through the ceiling. You rang? I mean, come on. Even better, Mr. Roboto is still playing through the whole scene.

Casey taking care of take-two wedding arrangements down in the bunker is absolutely priceless.

I'm going to do my best to suspend my disbelief and accept that Ellie found a new dress and stylist and everything else came together all before the sun went down. This wedding is beautiful - perfect for the Awesomes.

Sarah signals to Bryce that she's not going with him on the mission. I actually feel a little bad for the guy.

Part of me wishes it would just end here, but what fun would that be?

Ok, this is my first moment of confusion. Did Casey tell that soldier to kill Chevy? Or did he just do that on his own? Is he rogue? This is not looking good.

Poor Casey loses three of his Marine buddies, but thankfully not his life or this TV would have been turned off and thrown out the window.

Hmm..still a little confused about Bryce. Good? Bad? I think good, but the bad guys got him.

Did we always know that Chuck's dad could flash? This appears to be news to everyone.

Bryce's move to use the other guy's gun - while still in that guy's hands - then turn around and use him as a shield was one of the coolest fight moves we've seen on this show. Too bad he died.

Destroy the intersect Chuck! Or put it back in your head, then destroy it. You know, whatever. Was this Chuck trying to be a hero? No, this was Chuck not giving up on the mission. He is a spy.

The new intersect gave him super powers! Chuck me! I am laughing hysterically at Sarah and Casey's reactions to Chuck kicking ass.

In the end, here's what we know:
  • The Awesomes are married.
  • Morgan is headed to Hawaii with Anna to learn the ancient art of Benihana.
  • Chevy is dead.
  • Bryce is dead.
  • Chuck knows Kung Fu.

Here's what we're left wondering:

  • What will happen to the Buy More?
  • Will Chuck's dad stick around to help the renewed mission? What will the renewed mission be? I wouldn't mind seeing Scott Bakula become a regular.
  • Will Morgan last in Hawaii?
  • Will Sarah bottle her feelings for Chuck again for the sake of the mission? Or can she not resist the Kung Fu charm?
  • Bryce said Fulcrum was just one part of the puzzle. What else is out there?
  • Will Jeffster go on tour?
P.S. Check out Give Me My Remote for lots of fun Chuck stuff and ways to support the show.

April 24, 2009

tgif top 10

It's a no-coats-at-recess kind of day where I live. The first we've had in a while. What did you watch on rainy days as a little kid? We didn't watch a ton of television (gasp), but these were my favorites.

Top 10 Shows from Kidhood
  1. Fraggle Rock: In my opinion, there was no better kid show.

  2. Kids Incorporated: Performing at this establishment is still an ultimate goal of mine. Stacey Ferguson, give me a call.

  3. Mickey Mouse Club: Post-Annette but pre-Britney

  4. Voyage of the Mimi: PBS show about researchers on a sail boat, featuring a teeny tiny Ben Affleck.

  5. Punky Brewster: I wanted to be her best friend and coveted that tree house. Remember when the Chicklets click tried to get her to smoke a joint? Just say no!

  6. Little House on the Prairie: My sister and I never missed a morning rerun on TBS in the summer. I've seen every single episode at least three times.

  7. 3-2-1 Contact: Another slightly obscure PBS series about science, which featured the Bloodhound Gang, a group of kids who solved mysteries using science. I still find myself singing the theme song, although I'm pretty sure I made up the lyrics.

  8. Sesame Street: Continues to be an untouchable classic.

  9. The Brady Bunch: Another one my sister and I caught on Nickelodeon reruns on a nightly basis. Brady Bunch was also used to gauge the length of a car trip. Question: How many Brady Bunches until we get there? Answer: 2 (one hour)

  10. Pinwheel: Anyone else remember this one on Nickelodeon? I'm pretty sure it was 3 or 4 hours long every afternoon - with puppets, live actors and animated shorts. Bill Cosby was involved.

  11. I almost forgot Mr. Rogers!! Have to add number eleven this week. No list is complete without Mr. Robers. Hello friends.

April 22, 2009

steve-o sideshow

Is it possible there's a side (or part) of Steve-O we haven't seen? MTV just announced a new one-time special about the infamous Jackass personality. Personally, I have always had a bit of love for Steve-O, especially on the genius that was Wildboyz with Chris Pontius. But it's no secret that he's been dealing with a severe drug addiction for years. He's been pretty vocal about his recent treatment and stint in a mental health facility.

Most recently, Steve-O appeared on Dancing With the Stars. Although I didn't see too many episodes, I know he made it much farther than expected becoming a bit of a fan favorite.

Steve-O: Demise and Rise (airing May 3) will chronicle his struggle with drugs and alcohol, including his days working as a clown, up to his decision to get clean and his treatment leading up to DWTS.

Don't know about you, but I'm rooting or Steve-O.

April 21, 2009

idol top 7 (take 2)

Last week, my predictions were all wrong, so I need to step up my game this week. After Matt became the recipient of the first judges’ save last week, we are back again with the top seven. Only this week, we’ll have to say goodbye to two of them.

The theme is disco, and there’s no mentor this week. Saving that time will allow them to have all four judges back to review everyone. Boring. I’d rather have a mentor.

Lil Rounds: Singing Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman”. She’s having a lot of fun with this song, and I’m glad to see that. It’s pretty clear this could be Lil’s swan song, but she is definitely putting her best foot forward after struggling to please the judges week after week. This might be my favorite performance of her. Oh man, the girl just can’t please those judges. None of them liked it.

Kris: Singing Donna Summer's “She Works Hard for the Money” with the acoustic guitar. I might be wrong, but I’m willing to bet Kris ripped this arrangement from someone else. It sounds good – typical Kris. He took a theme that isn’t suited for him, and rearranged the song to the tune of John Mayer. He knows how to play the game. He still gives me the snoozes though. Judges all loved it called him “original” and “knows who he is”.

Observation: Kris’ wife is there every week. Does she have a job? Is she taking a leave of absence? This is the kind of thing I wonder about.

Danny: Singing “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. A disco classic. Danny’s rocking a slight beard this week. A man after my own heart. Don’t know if this is the best song to show off his voice, but he’s having fun and giving a show as usual. Really pulling out the dance moves this week too – thankfully, he’s recovered from that initial trouble with singing and dancing at the same time. Judges mostly loved it – Kara says he has perfect pitch. Simon liked it but said it was a bit awkward and clumsy, not professional. Hey, at least he puts it out there.

Allison: Singing “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. I kind of can’t wait for Allison to sing disco. She starts out sitting on a moving staircase in the center of the stage, which is pretty cool. Her arrangement is kind of hard rock/metal. Don’t know if I love it – seems a little awkward - but she’s belting out the big notes as usual. Randy didn’t love the arrangement, but still loves her. Kara agrees on both points. Paula likes the edginess and authenticity. Simon called it a brilliant performance, acknowledging that she is an underdog coming into this week.

Adam: Singing “If I Can’t Have You” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Adam is back in his “conservative” young Elvis duds this week. This is a slow song, which was a good choice because that’s an unconventional choice for disco week, which will set him apart. Not that that’s ever a problem for Adam. His voice sounds flawless as usual. Randy says he’s ready right now. Kara says he’s brilliant and inspiring…blah blah blah.

Observation: Paula’s lip gloss might be made of kryptonite.

Matt: Singing “Stayin Alive” by The Bee Gees. Poor Matt must be nervous this week, but I do think he deserves to be here. This is no easy song to sing. His tempo is really fast, but the high energy is working for him. I’m slightly concerned that he’s out of breath and might pass out. Randy didn’t love the song choice or arrangement, but still says he can really sing. Kara basically called it good, but not great. Paula loved it. Simon was a no go. Told him to “get out of Idol land” calling it desperate. Uh oh.

Anoop: Singing “Dim All the Lights” but they didn’t say the artist. Anoop also grew a little beard this week. He’s also wearing a tan suit, bright pink sweater and matching tie. He can get away with it, but I wouldn’t call that pop star chic. I don’t know this song – it’s basically an up tempo ballad. This feels really similar to his performances from the last few weeks. Randy and Kara called it a good song choice and liked the vocals. Paula loved it. Simon called it mediocre at best – a horrible version of the song, and his worst performance by a mile.

I hope the top five will be: Kris, Allison, Adam, Danny and Matt

tv quote of the week

Richard Castle (on his cup of NYPD coffee): This tastes like a monkey peed in battery acid.

Show: Castle
Episode: "Hell Hath No Fury"

(not actually this week's episode, but I watched it this week, so I'm counting it)

April 20, 2009

manic monday

There are a bunch a tids and bits that are on my list of things to write about, so I'm just pouring them all into one post. Such is Monday.

Grey's Anatomy Finale (May 14). I recently posted about how Grey's and I are slowly becoming friends again. This is becoming further solidified by the guest stars lined up for the season finale. First, Liza Weil, who I loved with a passion as Paris Geller on Gilmore Girls. Some of you may also remember her as the junior staffer who leaked Leo's history of drug and alcohol abuse to the press on West Wing. She's super talented, and I can't understand why we don't see her more. (Incidentally, she's married to Paul Adelstein, who plays Cooper on Private Practice. Way to keep it in the talented family, Shonda) Second guest star is Kaley Cuoco from Big Bang Theory. I'm excited to see her in a dramatic show. And third is Debra Mooney, a classic actress who played the grandmother on Everwood. You may also recognize her more recently from Boston Legal or Pushing Daisies. Mooney will play Owen's mother, which is a perfect cast in my opinion. Grey's certainly has a way with casting moms...Tyne Daly (mommy Shepherd), Kate Burton (mommy Grey), Mare Winningham (step-mommy Grey), Diahann Carroll (mommy Burke)...

*Update: Sadly, Kaley Cuoco had to pull out because of publicity commitments. Oh well.

New Bravo Shows. Bravo will be premiering three new reality competition shows in the coming months. The first is Fashion Show starting in May, an obvious Runway replacement hosted by Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland. I'm excited, but expect a skeptical initial review from me. Then, Top Chef Masters will be coming up in June hosted by food critic Kelly Choi. The show will feature notable chefs competing for charity funds. Also coming up in June is NYC Prep, a reality show about students at an elite New York prep school. An obvious Gossip Girl rip off, this one scares me a bit. But don't think I won't be watching.

Other new reality shows. Seems to be a slew of new "celebservation" shows on the horizon. Coming soon: Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy) and her boyfriend in an Oxygen reality show about...well, them. Also, MC Hammer on MTV and Fantasia Barino on VH1.

Temporary resurrections. As I reported a couple weeks ago, ABC will be running the last three episodes of the cancelled Pushing Daisies on Saturday nights this summer. They will be doing the same thing with remaining episodes of Eli Stone and Dirty, Sexy Money. I'm glad to get a few last drops out of these, but I'm sure it will prove frustrating.

Some industry news. Google announced last week that YouTube will now feature television shows and movies. They made a deal with Sony, CBS, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, BBC, and independent film studio Lions Gate Entertainment. The content will be free, but ad-supported. This will relieve some of the $500 million per year that YouTube spends on bandwidth costs (yipes!). Looks like competition for NBC-owned Hulu. Also, TiVo announced a little competition for Nielsen today. TiVo will offer networks second-by-second info about programs and commercials being watched by its users. The data will be collected anonymously, and the largest markets will use 25,000 homes, versus Nielsen's 900. It will be interesting to see how this changes the way networks interpret ratings.

April 17, 2009

tgif top 10

Last night, I was hanging out with a friend who is counting down to her quickly arriving wedding day. As I was walking home, I started thinking about TV weddings. Most girls would day dream planning their own wedding. Not me - my mind goes directly to TV. I won't think too deeply about that.

So, here are my most memorable (fictional) TV weddings - probably not Emmy candidates, but these are the ones that stuck with me.

Top 10 TV Weddings
  1. Luke & Laura, General Hospital: The original actually aired before I was born - in front of 30 million viewers - but I saw enough flashbacks during my GH phase to know this one's a classic.

  2. Niles & Daphne, Frasier: They eloped to Reno, which was so cute and so sweet. They did not tell their families and tried to go through another wedding at home, which of course ended in Frasier's special kind of uncomfortable humor.

  3. Joanie & Chachi, Happy Days: I was a little too young for this one too, so it came to me through the magic of Nick at Nite. I think we can all agree Happy Days was a classic, but perhaps went a little too long for its own good. Nevertheless, the series finale with Joanie and Chachi's wedding in the backyard was one of the greats.

  4. Monica & Chandler, Friends: Hilarious and sweet with Joey presiding. Monica's was one of my most favorite dresses.

  5. Corey & Topanga, Boy Meets World: Laugh if you must, but this one brought a little tear. Come on, they met in the sandbox!

  6. Donna & David, Beverly Hills 90210: I recently rewatched this one on SoapNet. Nat walking Donna down the aisle? Dylan reading a love poem? David crying? Love.

  7. Marshall & Lily, How I Met Your Mother: If my husband-to-be ever shaved a runway through the middle of his hair minutes before my wedding, I would smack him in the head. But that's not Lily. Their pre-wedding wedding with the best friends was too cute.

  8. Jesse & Rebecca, Full House: Uncle Jesse serenading Aunt Becky with "Forever"? Dreamy.

  9. Dr. Quinn & Sully, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Everyone once and a while, I pause and think, is this something I'm really ready to admit? What about my reputation? And then I remember I don't have one. Yes, I watched Dr. Quinn. I loved Sully, and I coveted her wedding dress.

  10. Zach and Kelly, Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas: This is the pre-teen in me coming out, but Saved by the Bell will always have a place in my heart. Coming back with an hour-long special wedding reunion is a fan's dream.

Honorable mention goes to Mike and Carol Brady, who got hitched during the pilot episode, but who could forget that yellow dress with matching mini-veil? And Tiger running through the ceremony knocking down the cake?

April 15, 2009

shameless love: neil patrick harris

It's been a while since I last expressed some shameless love. I dedicate this post to one, Neil Patrick Harris. There are a million Barney Stinson clips to pull from How I Met Your Mother, but this clip from Monday's episode is going down as one of my favorites.

I'm not necessarily a subscribed Robyn and Barney shipper, but I loved this clip because it was Barney trying not to abandon his...well Barneyness. The face twitching and throwing bar snacks in the air is just priceless.

Also, quick praise for the poor prop and wardrobe departments, which are now grappling with the second increasingly pregnant cast member. (Lily not speaking to Barney = Allison giving birth).

April 14, 2009

idol top 7

I'd like to start tonight's post with the woman who is the Idol of all of our hearts this week. Even Brian Williams said so on the news tonight. If you haven't seen it, you must drop everything and watch this right now. (Sorry, they're not allowing me to embed)

Tonight's theme is music from the movies, and none other than Quentin Tarantino is this week's mentor. Bizarre, but I kind of love it.

Looks like they're trying to correct the time problems from the past few weeks because they skipped the judges' stage walk tonight - just straight to the table intro. Simon just added that they will be judging two at a time (rather than all four judging each contestant) to save some minutes as well. This is a little annoying - I think the producers could have come up with some better solutions. Like skipping the past five minutes of Ryan/judges banter.

Let's get to it.

Allison: Singing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith from Armageddon. I'm not ashamed to say this is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. I like that Allison picked a ballad tonight. We haven't seen much of this from her. It's not her best performance, but I always like listening to her. Paula called her authentic, and Simon called her the girls' only hope in this competition.

They just cut to Katie Couric in the audience. Weird.

Anoop: Singing "Everything I Do" by Bryan Adams from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Watching Tarantino coach them is so entertaining. Anoop went for another ballad this week, which was a good call since judges liked him last week. In my opinion, only Bryan Adams can pull off this song. Anoop sounds good, but a little whiney. I stand corrected, Randy loved it. Kara says he's found his place, calling it one of his best vocals.

Adam: Singing "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwold from Easy Rider. Good choice, Adam. Everyone's talking about Adam...all the time. I'll never argue that he's not super talented, but a lot of that comes from his stage training. Not to take that away from him because it's incredible, but I don't want to immediately put him at the top because this competition is about discovering new talent, which in itself, means these people are in a learning process. And some of these stage tricks can be learned. On vocals alone, I don't think he's necessarily the best. Ok, I'll stop blabbering now. His performance was super cool. Paula is gushing like a stuck pig. Simon warned that people will either love it or hate it.

They just cut to the woman who used to play Kate on Days of Our Lives. I have no idea if she's still on the show. I may be dating myself considerably. You all went through a Days phase, admit it.

Matt: Singing "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams from Don Juan DeMarco. When I heard the song choice, I was going to give Matt the cheesey award for the evening. But I'm actually loving this. Maybe this means I need to give myself the cheesey award. He lost me on a couple of the high notes, but I really like this. Uh oh, I think I'm alone in this. Randy and Kara did not love it. Incidentally, I do love Kara's hair tonight.

Danny: Singing (without his glasses) "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie from Endless Love (and Happy Gilmore). Not an easy song to sing or make current. A little shakey in the beginning, but he wins me over every time. Sounds great. Simon was a little bored because he did a transitional rendition with nothing new, but recognized that it was an emotional song for Danny to sing. Oh Simon, you're going soft on us.

They just showed Christina Applegate looking engrossed in the audience. I love her!

Kris: Singing "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once. Oh Kris, you gone and done it. You may remember them winning the best original song Oscar last year. This is one of my favorite movies. Kris is either completely cliche or completely genius in this moment. I've been tough on Kris, so I'm going with the latter. Trouble is, I'm holding him to a huge standard because I love the original performers of this song. He just doesn't hold a candle to them. I worry that it won't resonate with voters because they won't recognize the song. Randy didn't love it, but Kara did. Why won't he show any emotion? Look alive, Kris.

Lil Rounds: Singing "The Rose" by Bette Midler from The Rose. Such a pretty song. Lil does make unexpected choices, doesn't she? She's bringing in a gospel tone in the middle. I like it, but I'm not sure it's enough to keep Lil in the game. At this point, she needs to blow our socks off. This is a pretty performance, but not groundbreaking. Paula says some nice things with Simon rolling his eyes the whole time. He said she's not the artist we first met. Lil takes this opportunity to really defend herself for the first time.

Who I think will go home: Lil
Who I want to go home: Anoop
Who got my vote: Allison and Adam

April 13, 2009

are you a troll or a butt-kisser?

ABC News columnist Michael S. Malone published a great column last Friday about web commenting. Do you comment on the blogs or sites that you read? I tend to lurk (read, but not comment) more than I should, but I'm trying to be better about that.

What Type of Web Commenter Are You? diagnoses about 25 different commenting personality types. There's no doubt that commenting, especially on news sites, has revolutionized the concept of letters-to-the-editor. Many comment sections take a life of their own, often far beyond the purpose of the original piece. Some get pretty nasty, but for better or worse, it provides a forum for readers.

So, what kind of commenter are YOU? The Defender, the Skimmer, the Boaster, the Illiterate, the Confessor (my personal favorite), the Unacknowledged Expert, the Perv (gasp)?

I hope this will inspire you to comment here more often. I'm equal opportunity for all types. Except if you're the Perv...unless you're a Perv who loves TV.

Side Rant: My least favorite commenters are those who insist on writing "FIRST!" after every post to claim the coveted spot as the first commenter. To make matters worse, 9 times out of 10, they are not the first commenter. What is the deal with this? Why is it such a big deal? I think you might want to take a self-examinating look at your life priorities.

April 12, 2009

new show review: the unusuals

Both ABC (The Unusuals) and NBC (Southland) premiered new cop shows last week. I'm going to try not to sound off this, but more cop shows, really? I'll admit it, I like a crime drama as much as the next girl, but it's just such a stale premise. This stuff sells though - that's why they keep rolling out more of them.

This is my initial review of The Unusuals - a new show about the NYPD homicide unit on Wednesday nights on ABC. As far as cop shows go, it has what I'm looking for - quirky characters, an overarching plotline to compliment the procedural, and some good writing. The question is whether this will come together as anything worth watching.

Here's the cast: Amber Tamblyn (she traveled in pants and played Emily on General Hospital back in the day) plays Detective Casey Shreager - a cop fresh off spending two years under cover with vice as a hooker. She gets a quick promotion to homicide to join a new partner Walsh - played by Jeremy Renner (you've seen him around) - to investigate the murder of his partner. Another set of partners are Banks played by Harold Perrineau (Michael from Lost) and Dalahov played by Adam Goldberg (been in tons of things, but I like to remember him from Dazed and Confused). Then there's Beamont played by Monique Gabriela Curnen, Kai Lennox playing Alvarez (don't know either of them), and the department Sargent Brown played by Terry Kinney (Oz, thirtysomething).

In the pilot, the department is investigating the death of a cop (Walsh's partner). Alavarez is the case lead - he seems like the department douche bag and actually has a legit mustache and "Top Gun" sunglasses. Walsh and Shreager are doing the bulk of the investigating. During the investigation, they find the dead cop's hideout where he has many files and information about other cops in the department. We learn that Walsh (played a little too severely by Renner) was a Yankees first baseman in a past life.

One other member of the department I forgot to mention is Detective Henry Cole (played by Joshua Close), who first appears as a God-talking seemingly naive young detective. Turns out, he has a colorful past (under a different name) as a drug user who hi-jacked a car, and his old file is also in the dead cop's hideout. Cole ends up planting the dead cop's badge and gun in a suspect's apartment, who was killed by Shreager in a raid. The department thinks they got the right guy, but we know the story is just beginning.

In the B plot, Banks (who wears a bullet proof vest 24 hours a day) and Dalahov (who also has a legit mustache now that I think about it) investigate a series of cat killings. We learn that Dalahov is keeping a secret that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, but is keeping it a secret. This leads to a crazy cat-killer chase scene where Banks ends up on the subway tracks face-to-face with an oncoming train and not going anywhere fast. He doesn't get hit. They have a pretty funny scene interrogating the cat-killer with a fake lie detector machine that's actually a desktop copier.

We also find out that Shreager (Tamblyn) is actually a New York princess, who went to private school, but she's hiding this from the department for fear that they won't take her seriously. We meet her Upper East Side parents, including a mother who frequently nags her cell phone and tells her she looks like a lesbian in her pants suit.

The filming has creative camera angles and tricks here are there. Unlike most cop shows, the lighting is bright and clear. I thought that looked inauthentic at first, but it seems refreshing after watching a while. There's good use of music, which seems to aim for an air of comedy.

Bottom line: It's clear that Tamblyn's Shreager is the center of this ensemble cast, and she fits well into this role. By the end of the pilot, we know that something is amiss within this department and Sargent Brown bought Shraeger in to investigate from the inside. ABC is billing this as a "modern day "M*A*S*H" - I laughed a few times, but I definitely wouldn't go that far. I am intrigued enough to keep watching though.

April 10, 2009

tgif top 10

One of my favorite TV blogs devoted this week to promoting love for NBC's Chuck. Because my own love for this show has grown even more in the second season, I'm inspired to use this week's top 10 list to convince you to watch. So, here we go...

Top 10 Reasons to Watch Chuck:

1. Zachary Levi. I'll try to abstain from a full on gushfest and just say the guy is super talented playing a role that requires him to bring the funny and the drama - usually simultaneously - with a heavy dose of physical comedy, and he makes it all look easy.

2. Music.
The soundtrack of this show is amazing. I don't always love a "musical montage," but the action scenes and busy plotlines often require them - and the music is always perfect. I've found some great new music through this show, and NBC always makes them easy to find on iTunes. And I'd be remiss to not mention "Jeffster" whose rendition of Africa by Toto nearly had this girl out of her chair.

3. The Spy Within.
Admit it, you know you have one. Some little piece of you always wanted to be a spy. Here's your chance to learn some tools and tricks of the trade.

4. Nerds.
Chuck's "real life" job is with the Nerd Herd at BuyMore electronic superstore. As a nerd prone to nerd crushes, I can't get enough of Chuck and his weirdo BuyMore friends.

5. Girl Fights.
Yvonne Strahovski does a terrific job playing Sarah Walker, one of Chuck's CIA handlers and his "cover" girlfriend. Not only does she have great chemistry with Levi, she's also hot and frequently fights other tough girls.

Major John Casey. No words really.

7. The Financial Crisis. It can be tied to everything these days, right? We'll just say it's cheaper than going to a movie. Depending of course on your cable provider.

8. This Video. I just realized Zach Levi's site posted a video called Ten Reasons to Watch Chuck. I wasn't copying. Promise.

9. Guest Stars. I have to hand it to the producers/writers/network for attracting some amazing guest star appearances - not only great actors, but also really well-written roles that don't seem too forced. Some favorites: Rachel Bilson, Nicole Richie, Ben Savage, Michael Clark Duncan, John Larroquette, Dominic Monaghan, Jordana Brewster, Morgan Fairchild, Gary Cole, and most recently Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula - perfectly cast as Chuck's dad (and as an added treat, NBC.com is showing old episodes of Quantum Leap!).

10. NBC.
Franky, NBC needs this show. Besides standby Law & Order: SVU and what has proven a reliably strong Thursday night comedy lineup, NBC doesn't have too many sturdy (scripted) legs to stand on. The network did a good thing standing by Friday Night Lights, but craptastic wonders like Heroes and Knight Rider just aren't going to cut it, especially with next season's late night talk show marathon cutting down the programming time to 10 hours per week. If NBC would get behind Chuck (still not forgiven for neglecting to run the 3-D episode post-SuperBowl), the show has huge potential for broad audience appeal - action, comedy, love, music - all wrapped up in a relatively family friendly package of wonderfulness.

Have I convinced anyone? Go catch up on NBC.com, hulu, Netflix, etc. But you can jump in any time due to Chuck's handy little "here's what you need to know" recaps at the beginning of each episode.

April 8, 2009

idol top 8

I'm a day late and a dollar short watching Idol on DVR tonight, but I've become incapable of watching without typing, so here we go.

Last night, the contestants were charged with singing songs from the year they were born. I always like this theme for some reason. It always bring some variety.

Danny: Surprisingly, Danny is the oldest contestant. Born in 1980. This depresses me. Danny's home videos are always so cute - his family seems so great. He's singing a version of "Stand by Me" from that year. It starts off as a slow ballad picking up into a bit of a lounge beat. I like the more traditional version of this song, but I still have a crush on this boy. Randy didn't like the arrangement, but loved his voice. Kara says "you did you own thing and you did it well". Paula loved it and Simon thought it was great.

Why does Simon always comment on Paula's remarks? It's old.

Kris: Singing Don Henley's "All She Wants To Do is Dance" from 1985. If you remember, I made a resolution for a fresh start with Kris last week. I recognized that he is quite talented. He sounds great again tonight. But I can't help it - I'm bored. He just doesn't do it for me. Hey, I tried. Judges didn't love it. Simon used some of his go-to words: indulgent, boring, and forgettable. I just feel like there were so many good songs in 1985. Why that one?

Lil Rounds: Singing Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" from 1984. Love this choice. Based on prior feedback, I think she really needs to make this song modern. She sounds great, but I'm not sure she really did anything new or different with the song. Paula didn't like it, and that's never a good sign. Simon called it a "ghastly copy cat performance" - that's harsh, but I do think she has way more inside than she's bringing out to the stage. Come on Lil! I want her to stick around for a while because I'd love to see her make a comeback.

Anoop: His parents are super cute. Singing Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" from 1986. Such a beautiful song. He actually sounds great singing it. He's also wearing a great sweater/tie combo. Judges all loved it because he made it his own.

Scott: Singing "The Search is Over" by Survivor from 1985. Scott's switching it up with the guitar this week. Super brave move for Scott. He's really taking a stab at rocking it out this week. A little awkward, but such is Scott. I love that he took the chance, and his voice sounds good as always. Simon suggested going back to the piano again next week. The others basically said it was just okay.

Allison: Singing Bonnie Rait's "I Can't Make You Love Me" from 1992. Yes, 1992. Here's another great song. A different choice for Allison, but I love it. I really love everything she does. Judges all like her, but Simon says she needs to let her personality shine through more, so we can get to know her. I find her totally endearing and quirky, but I think some of what Simon is referring to is immaturity, since she's only 16.

Matt: Singing Stevie Wonder's "Part time Lovers" from 1985. Ohhh I used to love this song. I believe it was regularly featured on my Walkman. He's definitely playing up the Justin Timberlake comparison this week - as he should. Judges really loved it. I think Kara's head almost exploded.

Fox really needs to get a watch. DVR missed Adam's entire performance when it cut off at 9pm. Did we really need Kris to tell us his ferris wheel story? Luckily, I'm watching his performance online.

Adam: Singing "Mad World" by Tears for Fears from 1982. There's no denying it, this boy has an unbelievable voice. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it was flawless. Simon gave him a well-deserved, and very rare standing ovation.

Who I want to go home: Lil (hate to say it)
Who I think will go home: Lil
Who would have gotten my vote if I watched this last night: Allison and Adam


Since I'm watching the results show right now, here are some highlights:
  • Frankie Avalon singing Venus??? Are you kidding? I love it. I don't even care. The song is from 1959 - the year of Simon's birth.
  • Paula is wearing leather elbow gloves.
  • I only recently heard Flo Rida for the first time. I know, I'm lame. Is he from Florida? Is that a play on words? Anyway, I do love this song. He's also super cute, although I'm not sure he'd appreciate that descriptive.
  • Anoop, Scott and Lil are in the bottom three. The voters got it right this week.
  • And it's Scott "singing for his life" this week. I was dreading this. He seems like such a sweet guy. The good thing is, this performance is actually better than it was last night.
  • They are reeeeeealy dragging this out. Simon made the decision to send him home.
  • Awww I'll miss Scott.

oh fox

Variety is reporting a new reality series from Fox called Someone's Gotta Go. You guessed it - a reality show about getting laid off. Uplifting, no?

The show - already in production by Endemol USA and scheduled to air by late summer/early fall - will feature real struggling businesses across the country. The catch? Employees will decide which one of them has to go.

Fox reality chief Mike Darnell called it "Survivor meets The Office". Oh please. I worry it will be somewhere between The Apprentice (shameless pitting people against each other) and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (an attempt at meaning and substance tied with the financial crisis) with a little Wife Swap thrown in (everyone learns they are better off in the end - wahh wahh).

We know a few details about how the show will play out: A different small business, facing staff reductions, will be featured every week. Employees will have access to human resources files on all staff - salaries, complaints, etc. Discussions, confrontations, alliances will ensure until they all vote someone off. The host will be a professional "business coach". Can a small business really survive something like this?

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you of all the well-written, creative, scripted television series that were cancelled this season.

[Soapbox dismount]

Anyone else depressed?

April 7, 2009

a new house for kutner

House served up an interesting surprise on Monday night. This is one of my favorite shows and can do no wrong in my book, but that concept is always tested when a show throws a curve ball. We knew there was a big plot poop coming up, and we finally saw it this week when one of main characters - Dr. Kutner played by Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) - suddenly committed suicide.
To step away from the plot for a minute, we know that, oddly enough, Penn took a job with the Obama Administration. He was a pretty vocal and involved volunteer with the campaign from the beginning and was offered a job with the Office of the Public Liaison. I can't pretend to know what that means, but I do know he'll have an office in the Old Executive Office building next to The White House, which is definitely not Hollywood. Bottom line: Penn decided to leave the show, and it was up to the writers to find a way to plot that out.

I've always really liked Penn in this role. After the cast shake up last season, Penn fit in perfectly as one of the new leads - perhaps even more so than the others. Kutner was never the subject of a major plotline, but always provided really strong supporting stories. This is more than I can say for Olivia Wilde's character "13" which has veered a little too far from the bread and butter of the show - Hugh Laurie as the untouchable center.

Kutner's death was shocking and abrupt. But it's what every character departure should do - bring out the intricacies of the other characters. There was no swan song or teary goodbye for Kutner. The characters discovered his suicide and spent the episode deciphering what it meant for them and for their friendship with Kutner. It was particularly powerful for House whose arrogance has him believing that he has everyone figured out and nothing gets by him. This one got by him then turned around and slapped him upside the head.

Showrunners David Shore and Katie Jacobs have teased that Kutner's suicide is essential to where the rest of the season will go for Dr. House and the rest of the cast. It will be interesting to see where this goes, but basically it doesn't matter to me because I'll follow Hugh Laurie to the end of the earth.

pushing daisies to push daisies on abc

See what I did there? You know, "pushing daisies" means you're dead. Get it? I'm hilarious. ABC is expected to run the final three episodes of the cancelled Pushing Daisies. This news makes me so happy - I almost forget the deep dark hole left in my soul with no Pie Maker in my future. We're said to expect the final episodes on Saturday evenings at 10 pm beginning May 30th.

April 2, 2009

return of the runway

Since I've complained about it here a time or two, I am happy to report Project Runway is on the road to return. FINALLY, the Weinsteins agreed to pay NBC for the rights to move the series from Bravo to Lifetime, where the show will officially find a new home.

I have to say, I was never happy about Runway leaving Bravo because the show did so much for the Bravo brand, and is so intrinsically tied to the network. But I'll have to get over it because at least we will have our Tim back.

The sixth season of Runway - the first to be set in Los Angeles - was produced for Lifetime, but has gone unaired during the legal squabble. We're said to expect the season to run this summer. Let's hope the clothing has not gone out of style.