August 30, 2009

mad men: my old kentucky home

A few random thoughts on this week's Mad Men episode. Overall, I liked it, but I did throw out a few WTFs along the way.

  • I know it's a stylistic thing, but is anyone else left a little cold by the abrupt transitions to commercial? I was feeling a little abandoned after solo scenes like Betty's flirtation with charming man by the rest room.

  • I literally had to cover my eyes while Pete and Trudy were dancing.

  • Sally is a budding sociopath, but frankly she can't be blamed since Betty is so darn mean to her.

  • Peggy and her assistant are a great pair. Good to know someone is watching out for her, even when she's smoking doobies.

  • Black face? It's still hard to believe people actually did that.

  • That scene with Joan playing the squeeze box was just so.... sad. He does not deserve Joanie.

  • Sterling's wife is a silly girl playing dress up, but I still feel sad for her too.

  • Don's intolerance of Sterling's "happiness" is fascinating. Like Don, Sterling made a huge change in his life, but didn't apologize for it or hide a damn thing. For such a flawed man, he does not tolerate selfishness or irresponsibility.

  • That Don/Betty makeout scene. Those Drapers.

August 29, 2009

project runway, season 6

I'm finally sitting down to watch the first episode of Project Runway. Some things that have changed: new location (Los Angeles) and new network (Lifetime), some have stayed the same: Heidi, Tim, Nina, and Michael.

I can always measure my enthusiasm for a season of Runway by how well it maintains my attention. During season 4, I watched every episode on the night it aired right up until Fashion Week. I still remember Christian, Chris, and many other designers. As for season 5, I never even watched the final few episodes and my best recollection is that awful Kenley. And I think that's only because she was recently in the news for serving jail time after throwing a cat at her boyfriend.

We'll see how season 6 will measure up. Here are the designers:

Ra'mon. From Chicago, went to medical school specializing in neuro surgery, but made the switch to fashion design. Interesting. His name is pronounced rah-MON, but I plan to pronounce it like the noodles.

Logan. Self proclaimed "guy's guy" who's not like your typical designer. Ok, we get it. You're not gay.

Johnny. Tried out for three previous season, but did not make it. He credits this to his former crystal meth addiction. 10 points for honesty. Johnny had a bit of a melt down during the first challenge, but Tim talked him off the ledge. The producers have appointed him this season's drama queen.

Gordana. Yugoslavian immigrant at the higher end of the age spectrum. Already, I'm glad she's here. She owns her own shop in North Carolina. Her first dress wasn't at the top, but I loved it.

Malvin. Describes himself as androgynous, an aesthetic that he incorporates into his designs. He says there's "not a vocab" to describe his garments yet. I love this guy, but I was surprised how boring his first dress was.

Carol Hannah. Describes her aesthetic as "pixie meets cocktail party" and claims she "surprises" people a lot. This means she does not surprise anyone.

Qristel. Also at the higher end of the age spectrum. She's been designing clothes for all shapes and sizes.

Shirin. She's youngin' into "multi-functional" garments. Her first dress, though not at the bottom, was ugly.

Nicholas. He is "known" in NYC as the Feathered Prince because of his love for design with "chiffon, lace, feathers, and champagne". He has quite a bit of high end design experience, which is why I was also surprised at his boring first dress.

Mitchell. Went to design school and has been working on the business side of fashion.

Epperson. Perhaps one of the oldest designers at 49 with a family of children. He may turn out to be the most daring designer, I think partly because he feels he has nothing to lose.

Christopher. Coming to LA from Minnesota. Self-trained with no formal design school. He's in the running for my early favorite.

Ari. Introduction involves something about clothing that doubles as a tent and a water purification system. Don't bore Nina!

Althea. A young lady from Ohio who interned for a couple of huge designers. Snooze.

Irina. What I learned during the first episode: she gets her inspiration from her small, white dog.

Louise. She's from Texas, and she likes vintage. She and Ari probably stand out as the most unique among the ladies in terms of personal style.

First Challenge
The first challenge begins at the Hollywood red carpet. Tim Gunn has suggested that this challenge was originally more interesting - I'm guessing they were designing an Emmy for a television star associated with the previous network, and they had to make a switch. The assignment is to design a dress for the red carpet event of their choice. Gross, I just remembered about Lindsay Lohan judging.

Safe: Shirin, Epperson, Gordana, Carol Hannah, Logan, Althea, Nicholas, Irina, Malvin, and Louise.

Highest Scores:
Christopher - This was my favorite dress right away. Just a pretty shape and cool textures.
Ra'mon - I thought it was boring, but the judges could see it on the red carpet.
Johnny - He came through in the end, they really liked the style, but didn't love the color.

Lowest Scores:
Qristel - I loved the idea of the colors, but the style wasn't enough.
Ari - No surprise, her garment is strange and her explanation even stranger.
Mitchell - He had a size snafu with his first model, and the quick fix design turned into a naked model under a sheer sheet of panty hose. You can tell they want to keep him though.

Loser: Ari. Surprising because they usually keep the most unusual designer for a few weeks to keep things interesting.

Winner: Christopher (he was definitely my pick as well)

In the end, I could hardly tell the show had switched networks. Anyone disagree?

August 28, 2009

ukraine's got talent

If you have 8 minutes to spare, this video is incredible. Kseniya Simonova just won Ukraine's Got Talent. Her talent? Drawing in the sand. This is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

This drawing depicts the devastation of Ukraine during Germany's World War II invasion using only the sand and ends with the message "you are always near."

August 27, 2009

shameless love: melissa mccarthy

It's that time again. I should really do these more often. Shameless love! This time for Melissa McCarthy. The "best friend" role is often sorely overlooked, and in my opinion, no one does it better than this lady. Of course, I fell in love with her long-time role of Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls, so I was surprised when I didn't even flinch over her quick switch to Christina Applegate's best friend Dena on Samantha Who. If that series had survived, I may have even liked that character better than Sookie. Gasp.

Luckily, Melissa isn't leaving the small screen. Michael Ausiello is reporting that she will have a regular supporting role on Kelsey Grammar's new ABC comedy Hank. She will play Grammar's sister-in-law. Collective opinion seems to be that the pilot for this show was horrid, so they're reportedly reshooting the entire thing. Hopefully, adding Melissa is a step in the right direction. I'm much more likely to check it out now. Fingers crossed for another great role for this lovely lady.

UPDATE (9/29/09): Melissa pulled out of the Hank role. Based on the pilot, thank god for that. It was painful. Mad Men's Crista Flanagan (better known as the secretary lawn mover masochist) will take her place, and I wish her the best of luck. Meanwhile, Melissa is costaring in the upcoming Katherine Heigl comedy, Life As We Know It.

August 26, 2009

early fall previews

In the next couple of weeks, I'll get down to business and start laying out the fall season day by day. In the meantime, some early previews are starting to pop up for returning shows.

Here are two vastly different medical dramas - one is like my husband of 50 years who still makes me feel like a newlywed, the other is that abusive relationship I just can't shake.


Grey's Anatomy

Also, if you need a refresher, just put together this handy little where we left off/where we are going guide for returning shows.

August 24, 2009


I just came across this interview from E! Online's Watch with Kristin with Todd Slavkin, executive producer of the upcoming Melrose Place remake on the CW. Now, I haven't decided whether I'm at all interested in watching this show, except maybe out of sheer curiosity and to check out Ashley Simpson's acting chops. Anyway, this interview did not help the cause.


The other twentysomething tenants (and some "wickedly sexy" guests) aren't wearing purity rings, either. "We feel that there is a current sexual revolution going on. Kind of post-AIDS—where the boundaries are off. Their parents have been shackled, and they want to explore."

Did he seriously say post-AIDS? Is that a joke? I'm going to steer clear of the soapbox here because I know he's just trying to position his soapy teen drama as "edgy" (and I'm barely qualified to write about TV never mind social issues) but is anyone else a little disturbed by his characterization?

August 23, 2009

happy birthday dick whitman

Mad Men is back. I watched the first two episodes back to back last night and quickly remembered how amazing this show is. But as much as I do love it, I'm going to get picky about a few things. While the first episode had me wanting much more, the second episode almost had me wanting less. I guess that kind of internal conflict is appropriate - this is the theme that runs through the show. True self vs. public self, two sides of the same coin, conflicting identities... my head is spinning. So, let's get to it.

Judging by Betty's burgeoning belly, the first episode begins about 8 months later. There were so many stories left hanging after the season finale, but I was happy the premiere was primarily Don Draper-centric. He's the pulse of the show, and he really sets the tone for how the other character stories are told. We begin with a memory/dream of Dick Whitman's birth - his horribly abusive father, prostitute mother, and stepmother who took him in as her own. During a moment of indiscretion (shocking) with a flight attendant, Don admits that it's Dick Whitman's birthday, and we understand what prompted those images. Don really does have a habit of making significant disclosures to unimportant women. Freud would have a field day. Of course, Matthew Weiner wraps this theme up nicely with Don getting lost in thought (and grief) while he and Betty recount the tale of their oldest daughter's birth.

The two side stories in the first episode also dealt with this idea of conflicting identities. Poor Salvatore's big moment was interrupted by an unfortunately timed fire alarm, but we all know his secret is safe with Don. If anyone understands the struggle to hide behind a fake facade, it's this man. Then we had Pete and Ken promoted to "heads of accounts" which I personally love and can't wait to see how this plays out. We see how the two opposite personalities dealt with the news of the promotion. Pete pathetically kissing up to the new boss, Mr. Pryce, believing this promotion is owed to him, and immediately seeking approval and praise from his wife and mother. Ken just feeling lucky as hell to still have a job and psyched for the extra money and responsibility. That scene with the two of them in the elevator was priceless. In the end, Pete is whining like a little baby that he has to share the job, and Ken is just happy to be there. Who will win?

One other minor point in the episode that really stuck with me was the very beginning when Betty can't sleep and Don tries telling her a soothing story. She says she wants everything to be perfect, so the new baby will arrive with "our family at its best". What a loaded statement from Betty. Outward image has always been so important to Betty, but the inner conflict and broken marriage nearly tore her apart last season. It's apparent that the two have reconciled after the major rift, but does she still feel broken? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

At the end of the first episode, I was wishing for more Betty, Peggy and Joan. We got that and then some from the second episode, and I was a little overwhelmed. Happy as I was to see them all, covering so many stories and characters left the episode feeling a little disjointed. These were the basic plots...

Peggy and Joan. These two are the epitome of two sides of the same coin. Despite talk that her recent marriage is all a girl could want, Joan is still swimming with envy over Peggy's advanced position at the agency. Meanwhile, Peggy still craves Joan's respect and approval and envies her flirtation skills. Sadly, neither of them are happy where they are - Joan looking down the road at life as an unfulfilled housewife and lonely Peggy who can't seem to make the ad boys understand the female psyche, especially in the face of the all-knowing Don Draper.

Mr. Pryce and the agency. I had some trouble following the different clients during this episode. It's become obvious that Mr. Pryce is calling the shots whether they like it our not. Although he isn't wild about London Fog, they're holding onto it with Don's "modern" approach - meaning naked lady. Madison Square Garden was scrapped even at Don's strong opposition. Penn Station is moving forward as long as that "radical communist" stays off the account. And poor Peggy has to sell a diet drink named after a floor, leaving her believing that she won't get a man unless she acts like a trampy Ann Margaret (sorry).

Sterling. I don't mind Sterling playing opposite Draper, but I'm bored with this story. I really don't care about his new wife and daughter's wedding squabble.

Betty and her father. For me, the most important part of this story was at the end when Don had a don't-mess-with-the-Drapers moment with Betty's brother. Say what you will about his infidelity, but he will protect his wife come hell or highwater - especially when her wishes involve caring for her family. Don has Betty on a pedestal because she is a nurturing mother (unlike his experience with maternal figures). That's why he'll never expose her to the dark side of Dick Whitman and looks for that intimacy elsewhere. That's my current take on the situation anyway. I do wish she would be a little nicer to the kids though, especially the unborn one.

Sally and the May Pole. If he doesn't end up involving himself with that teacher in some, way, shape or form, I will be shocked. But I think that was really just a moment of innocence for Don - he clings to those.

Really, I could go on and on, but I will stop here. Please share your thoughts in comments because I'm sure I missed a lot.

August 21, 2009

tgif top 10: tv shows based on films

Earlier this week, I posted about TV shows adapted from films or books and noted that it's much more common (and successful) for a film to be based on a TV show than vice versa. There are a million lists of the top films based on TV series. I decided to do some research and try to come up with a list of those who did it best in this less notable category. So, here's my best attempt. These aren't necessarily the most successful shows, but they are my favorites (sadly, the two do not historically go hand-in-hand).

Note: To make it harder, I left out all animated shows, so no comic book derivatives.

Top 10 Television Series Adapted from a Film
  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  2. M*A*S*H

  3. Friday Night Lights

  4. Flipper (the original series, not that Jessica Alba disaster)

  5. Mr. Belvedere (based on the film Sitting Pretty)

  6. The Odd Couple

  7. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (Sean Patrick Flannery swoon)

  8. Fame (a film remake is on the way)

  9. 10 Things I Hate About You (you got a spot, now earn it!)
  10. Next year, I'd like to see Parenthood on this list. It's one of the shows I'm most excited for this season.

Update: I just found out that there already was a Parenthood series that lasted for one season in 1990 staring Ed Begley Jr., David Arquette and Leonardo DiCaprio. Ron Howard produced that one as well, and Joss Whedon wrote for it. Let's hope the second attempt has better luck.

August 20, 2009

kristen johnson on ugly betty!

I love this news from Michael Ausiello. Kristen Johnson (you probably know her from 3rd Rock from the Sun or as the chick who fell out of a window on Sex & the City) scored a recurring role on Ugly Betty this season as an office temp at Mode. You may remember that Paula Abdul was in negotiations for this part. I'm so glad Kristen got it. She's hilarious and completely under appreciated as a she-comic.

Quote from The Ausiello Files:

“I’ve always considered myself a poor man’s Paula Abdul,” Johnston says with a laugh. She describes her Betty character as “Amanda in 10 years. She’s still trying to get into the right clubs, wearing tight dresses… tragic. I think [Helen] sees herself as Samantha from Sex and the City. Except, of course, she’s a temp.”

I love it!

August 19, 2009

read, watch, and repeat

The Wrap recently posted a story about an upcoming television pilot based on Audrey Niffenegger's book "Time Traveler's Wife" by ABC and Marta Kauffman (creator and EP of Friends). Apparently, plans to create this series started long before the film version, which premiered over the weekend.

I read this book and loved it, but haven't yet seen the film, so I can't provide critique of the first attempt at a live action interpretation of the story. The plot - essentially a love story about a man who has a condition causing him to spontaneously disappear and travel through time and his wife who he meets while traveling to various stages of her life - provides a lot of interesting story ideas for a television series. On the other hand, the book (without giving anything away) presents a devastating situation for a couple. I'm not sure the heavy themes in the book could survive on television.
The other question is: does the film help or hurt the pilot's chances? The film provides excellent marketing. The audience for the story has grown far beyond the readership of the book itself. However, can a television show live up to the quality of a film? Again, I haven't seen it, but I can't imagine ABC garnering a pair nearly as perfect as Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.

Let's look at the historical evidence. Although book to film adaptations are more common, there have been a few successful television adaptations of books. Dexter, Bones, and a handful of comic book adaptations come to mind. There have also been many successful television to film adaptations - Wayne's World, Star Trek, Charlie's Angels, Transformers, Jackass, South Park, Blues Brothers, Fugitive, Sex & The City - to name a few.

But it seems when you flip it around, the results are less favorable. For example: Clueless (incidentally also based on a book), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Ferris Bueller, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, My Big Fat Greek Life, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Exceptions being wildly popular shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Odd Couple, and M*A*S*H.

It remains to be seen which path "Time Traveler's Wife" will follow. Marta Kauffman's bread and butter has always been sitcoms. I can't really see that happening. As I said, a full literal interpretation of the book may be too heavy for television. I'd like to see them strike somewhere in the middle - similar to Dexter.

Who would you cast as the star-crossed TV couple? I'm torn on the male lead, but I would like Kerri Russell to wait patiently by the phone.

August 14, 2009

tgif top 10: sisters

Tomorrow is my big sister's birthday, so here's a list for her. For some reason, childhood shows dominate this list. Perhaps because I watched them with my sister.
Top 10 Favorite TV Sisters
  1. Roseanne and Jackie (Roseanne)

  2. Teddy, Frankie, Alex, Georgie and Charley (Sisters) - I did that from memory!

  3. Julia and Suzanne (Designing Women)

  4. Laura and Mary Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)

  5. Stacy and Renee (Kids Incorporated)

  6. Sondra, Denise, Vanessa and Rudy (The Cosby Show)

  7. Jennifer and Mary Anne (Perfect Strangers)

  8. Betty and Hilda (Ugly Betty)

  9. Marie, Cindy, Wendy, Connie and Sherry (Just the Ten of Us) - Sadly, that was not from memory.

  10. Marsha and Jan (The Brady Bunch) - I never took to Cindy. Whiner.

August 12, 2009

visit to my summer house

We're in the thick of the summer drought right now. Summer series that started back in June have either run their course or are pittering down to their last episodes. The second string (i.e. Project Runway and Mad Men) are so close we can taste them. In the meantime, I feel like I'm watching six hours of America's Got Talent per week, and that is never a good thing.

I miss my quirky dramas. Although I'm hanging tight with Leverage - one of my new favorites -I'm ready for Bones and House to come back into my life.

In the meantime, fun scoop from Michael Ausiello on the new season of House. The enduring House debate over the last two seasons: new kids vs. old kids? Did they pull off the switcheroo banishing Chase and Cameron to recurring status and bringing in some new blood? With the fabulous Cut Throat Bitch and solid contributions from Cutter (R.IP.), I'm leaning toward yes. But the tired Huntington's Hottie had me wishing for more Cameron and Chase.

Looks like I'm getting my wish. With House in a mental institution for the first portion of the fall season, Jennifer Morrison (Cameron) is reporting that we'll be seeing a lot more of the newlyweds this season. The two are back in their old jobs - for the time being anyway - which I assume means Foreman is the boss man. Should be interesting... and also infuriating for House. Anyway, I'm happy to chase after a few crumbs while we wait for September.

August 6, 2009

don draper countdown: 10 days!