September 30, 2009

new show review: eastwick

Eastwick is based on a novel by John Updike that was also adapted to a movie in 1987 starring Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandan. It's tough going for female-dominated shows. We saw the quick demise of Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle in the last year. Desperate Housewives is probably the best success story in recent years. Let's see how this one fairs... it's a little different with some fantasy thrown in.

We first meet the ladies at some sort of Halloween festival in their small New England town. During these scenes, we get a voiceover by town historian Bun Waverly by way of a story she is reading to the kids about the history of witches in the town. Call me cheesy, but I actually think it's a cute and clever way to start the story. By the way, Bun is played by Veronica Cartwright, who was also in the movie. Veronica is one of my favorite character actresses, who's been around forever (though she looks great). You may remember her as Jack's mom on Will & Grace, but I loved her as the mom in Flight of the Navigator.

But I digress... first up is Roxie played by Rebecca Romijn. I think critics are tough on Rebecca, maybe because she's so darn beautiful, but I've always liked her. She played a charming tranny on Ugly Betty. Roxie is an eccentric artist widow with a teenage daughter Mia (Ashley Benson) and a nearly teenage boyfriend Chad (played by Kyle XY's Matt Dallas). Also, I covet her hair.

Then we have shy journalist Joanna played by Lindsay Price who is trying her darndest to be more confident and attract the man of her dreams, photographer Will (Johann Urb). Lindsay was most recently seen in Lipstick Jungle, ill-fated but I did love her clothes, and of course you remember her Janet, the girl who finally tamed Steve on 90210. Joanna's best friend is Penny (played by the lovely Sara Rue), who seems to be there to push her around a little.

Kat played by Jaime Ray Newman. I know her best as Kristina Cassadine from General Hospital during my college days. She's either a nurse with a litter of children and an obnoxious slacker husband Raymond (played by Jon Bernthal from The Class, who has highly unfortunate hair in this role).

The three ladies each come across a coin during festival and are mysteriously compelled to toss them into a fountain with a wish at the same time. As that happens, red ants attack poor storyteller Bun. They end up at the hospital for Bun until Roxie suggests getting drunk at her house. And the ladies bond. As ladies do.

The next day, Roxie gets a wax-sealed invitation (I need to get a wax seal to a mansion recently purchased by a new arrival in town Daryl Van Horn (Paul Gross). This was the Jack Nicholson role in the movie, and I'm not sure how I feel about this casting yet. He's handsome and cocky, but maybe too good looking?

When Roxie arrives, he propositions her for sex and offers her $50,000 to create a sculpture of him trying to appeal to her hidden desire for someone to take control and rock her world. She tells him off and leaves. Oddly, this was the wish Roxie made to the fountain.

Later, we find out that the mysterious Daryl bought Joanna's newspaper, the candle factory where Kat's husband used to work, and the town inn. Low and behold, Joanna meets Daryl the outside the newspaper office where he infuses her enthusiasm for her thankless job by pitching a juicy story... conveniently, also what she wished for in the fountain.

Kat gets to meet Daryl when he shows up at the inn where she's having dinner with the girls. He's thrilled to see the three of them together. She's not impressed by his smooth talking and magic water...until said water starts to get them a little tipsy. Tipsy enough to take a little dip in the fountain. Daryl fulfill her fountain wish when he promises to help with her divorce by taking care of her lawyer.

Through the episode, we start to see the ladies exhibit interesting "powers". Roxie sees the future in her dreams, Kat causes the earth to shake knocking her slacker husband from his hammock (and later gets him struck by lightening!), and Joanna makes her boss (and conveniently Will) say exactly what she wants.

The creepiest scene of the episode comes when Kat is caring for Bun at the hospital, and she suddenly wakes from her coma. She tells Kat "it's all your fault... it's happening again... he's been here before... he's evil... yadda yadda." And someone left a death notice for a Daryl Van Horn on Penny's doorstep...wha what?

So, it remains to be seen. Are they good witches or bad? How much control to they have over their powers? Will they help them or hurt them? Is Daryl there to protect them or control them? Will he stop hitting on them long enough for us to tell?

Maybe I'm just looking for something different, but this show was pretty cute. It also doesn't hurt that they're reusing the lot from Gilmore Girls. Oh Stars Hollow. You get me every time.

September 29, 2009

new show review: flashforward

FlashForward was another one on my list of most anticipated new shows. And I know I was not alone, ABC is really pushing this as the replacement for the soon-to-retire Lost. It's a big bite to chew, so let's get into it.

The cast is a pretty big ensemble. I really want to make this more of a review than a recap, but if we have another Lost on our hands, I feel like I need to capture it all, so please bear with me. The first ten minutes of the pilot are spent introducing us to the characters and setting up where they will be when the "flash" happens.

We first meet Mark Benford played by Joseph Fiennes, who most of you probably recognize from movies like Shakespeare in Love. His wife Olivia is played by the lovely Sonya Walger, better known as Penny from Lost. He leaves to spend his day as an FBI agent, and she's a doctor headed into surgery for the morning.

Before work, Mark goes at an AA meeting - enter baggage. After the meeting, Mark chats with his sponsor Aaron played by Bryan O'Byrne (Brotherhood) whose daughter was killed in Afghanistan two years ago. He's one of those guys who climbs telephone poles, which is where he's chilling with the flash happens.

Meanwhile, back and Mark and Olivia's house, babysitter Nicole played by Peyton List (Sterling's wife Jane on Mad Men) doing naughty things with her boyfriend.

Then, we meet Mark's partner Demetri played by John Cho, or Harold of the Harold & Kumar movies. He's younger and chatting about his engagement as they sit on some sort of stakeout. So far, I like their chemistry as partners. Their boss Stan is played by Courtney B. Vance, who is a veteran of cop dramas. And their co-worker Janis (Christine Woods) is manning phones at the office. Mark & Demetri end up in a high speed chase, during which I realize Demetri is not belted. Poor judgement.

Also, there's one guy we don't know who's holding a gun and about to off himself on a seaside pier.

FLASH.

And then everyone wakes up a few minutes later... Mark is trapped under his car, suicidal guy is lying on the pier (alive), Olivia and her staff are all on the floor of the operating room, Nicole was thrown to the floor and boyfriend is on the couch (nice guy), Aaron is stuck hanging from the flag pole.

Chaos ensues as the whole world seemingly comes to. This is followed by a series of really cool effects and explosions - the scenes are surprisingly realistic - as all of Los Angeles is in a state of mass destruction. There's looting and dead bodies all over the place... and oh yea, a kangaroo running around. Televisions reveal that this happened to the entire world.

We see all of our folks post flash.. Mark trying to make sense of things at the FBI, Olivia handling casualties at the hospital, suicidal guy - who we now know is a doctor - showing up to help at the hospital too, Demetri caught the high speed chase suspect, who's apparently a femme fatale terror suspect, Nicole checking to make sure her little charge is okay, Aaron hanging from the phone pole.

It's determined that everyone experienced a waking memory of events that haven't occurred yet, and it seems like everyone's future is consistent. And the future is April 29, 2010 at 10:00pm. They start to lose me a little when Mark, Demetri, and Janis are charged with investigating what caused this, and Janis suggests creating a website where people can log in and report their visions. LA FBI bureau is in charge, really? Flash facebook?

During the course of the hour, we get pieces of everyone's flash dream...
  • Mark drinking again while at work investigating the incident, scary guys in masks are after him with guns
  • Mark's young daughter Charlie dreamed "there are no more good days" which cannot be good for a child
  • Janis was getting a prenatal sonogram
  • Stan was on the toilet
  • Demetri didn't see anything at all, which he fears means he's dead
  • On the other hand, suicidal guy (who we now know is Bryce played by Zachary Knighton) is all happy because he's alive in his dream
  • Aaron eerily sees his dead daughter alive in his flashforward
  • Olivia says she sees herself with another man (uh oh Mark). We find out said man is the father of a young boy Olivia saved that day.

The fact that the future really does come true is confirmed when Mark's daughter Charlie presents him with a friendship bracelet that he remembers wearing in his dream. And the coolest and creepiest scene comes at the end when Janis surfs through surveillance footage and finds one lone black cloaked man walking around during the flash (at Detroit Stadium no less).

There are some really beautifully shot scenes, especially outdoors, which seem to use some kind of CGI, but it's not too unbelievable. I don't pretend to know what I'm talking about on that subject. They also make great use of light and dark and the colors seem very vivid.

For such far-fetched content and dramatic circumstances, the dialogue runs the risk of going totally over the top and ridiculous (the movie Day After Tomorrow comes to mind). But the writers are handling it very well so far. There's enough humor and realism thrown into the drama to make it tolerable.

I'm not as blown away by the pilot as I hoped I would be, but definitely intrigued enough and impressed by the actors (and the crazy previews at the end of the episode) enough to keep watching. I'll probably be blogging about it from time to time to make sense of things.

Anyone else watch? What did you think?

September 28, 2009

wedding countdown: 10 days!

Jim and Pam will be tying the knot in exactly 10 days. What's that? They aren't real? This is just a TV show airing on October 8th? Well, screw that.


September 26, 2009

new show review: the good wife

I've been excited about this show for a while because it seemed like something different from the run of the mill legal show. And I've always wondered what happens to those wives after the devastating moments on camera standing by their guilty husbands. What are they thinking in that moment? What happens next? The Good Wife is telling that story in the pilot.

The episode opens with Alicia Florrick (Juliana Marguiles) standing by her man Peter Florrick (Chris Noth/Mr. Big) as he makes a statement to the press apologizing for illegal activities while serving as State Attorney. The scene is very strong focusing on Alicia, all of the images floating through her head and all she can do is focus on a tiny loose string sitting on her husband's suit sleeve.

Cut to six months later Alicia starting her new job at a law firm after a 15 year hiatus. Here, we meet the coworkers...and I'm smiling wider at every face I see. Josh Charles, one of my very favorites from Sports Night, a show I still mourn every day, playing Will a partner at the firm and old friend/classmate of Alicia. Right away, we know Alicia has someone in her corner, and Josh plays the character with ease charm as usual.

The brilliant Christine Baranski plays Diane, another firm head honcho, who transparently disapproves of Alicia's years as a mother and wife (of a State Attorney who no one likes) and owns a dog named Justice. And Gilmore Girls vet Matt Czuchry playing Cary, the other new associate, who is about half her age and does a bad job of hiding the competitive spirit behind his nice guy persona. We find out that there's actually only one associate position open, and the two will be competing.

Alicia is forced to jump in right away on a pro bono case that is being retried after a hung jury case tried by Diane. Here we meet Kalinda, the firms in-house investigator. It took me a while to place her, but with some help from IMDB, I realized she is Archie Panjabi, who played the sister in Bend It Like Beckham. She was a hoot in that movie (did I just type hoot?). She's British, playing an American here and could use a little practice with the accent, but I like her in this role. The two get off to a rocky start when we learn Alicia's husband fired Katrina in the past, and she's resentful of having to catch Alicia up on the case, which involves a young woman accused of killing her husband and making it look like a botched car jacking.

Along the way, we meet Alicia's family. Honest and frank, but not quite bratty, teenage daughter Grace (Mackenzie Vega) who's dealing with rumors (and truths) about her dad at school. Younger son Zack (not sure of the actor's name yet). Mother-in-law Jackie is played by none other than Mary Beth Peil, better known as Gram from Dawson's Creek. So good to see her on the small scene again. Although she's a judgemental nightmare, at least she's stepping up to help Alicia.

Alicia visits Peter in prison to get some signatures on paper work. We learn that his charges include running an "abusive office" and soliciting a prostitute. Peter is maintaining his innocence on the first, but there's video proof of the second that's all over the Internet. He loses me when he says "Thanks for playing the bread winner for a while."

The trial is interesting, but nothing ground breaking. After Peter tells Alicia that he heard rumblings about hidden evidence during the first trial, she and Kalinda dig up the evidence and find a more viable suspect, helping to get the young woman off the hook. Really, this was a way to show the challenges Alicia will be facing along the way, including prejudices from judges who didn't like her husband, the new State Attorney who's also not a fan, and fellow attorneys in the firm, who don't expect too much of her.

With friends and well-written characters on her side - I always say the secret to a procedural is excellent side characters! - Alicia could turn out to be a fun heroine to watch. One episode in, and I already feel myself caring about her. She's been through hell, she's not denying it, but she's not falling victim to it either. I could use some stronger writing on the cases, but otherwise, I'm really looking forward to seeing how the season goes.

September 25, 2009

new show review: cougar town

The moment of truth has arrived. Can we watch Courtney Cox without seeing Monica Geller? The ill-fated Dirt never gave us much time to decide. Now, she's back with a half hour comedy, though the format is very different from Friends - shot with one camera, no laugh track, and no Chandler.

I've written before about how news of the title almost completely turned me off from the show. Cougar, we're over it. (Not the concept, just the name. Go Demi.) But I'm giving it chance because I like Courtney, and I like that ABC has been taking some chances with comedy lately.

The opening scene of the pilot is enough to make me love Jules (Courtney) already. She spends her post-shower time examining the unfortunate changes her body is experiencing and then just yells "crap" at the mirror. We can be friends.

The name "cougar" actually comes from Jules' son's high school mascot. Son Travis is played by Dan Byrd, who you've seen around in shows like Aliens in America and Heroes. Already, he might be my favorite part of the show.

Younger best friend and coworker in real estate Laurie is played by Busy Philips. Her mission is to make Jules have fun (having been divorced for 5 months).

Other married best friend and neighbor Ellie is played by Christa Miller from Scrubs (who is also conveniently married to EP Bill Lawrence). So far, the best part about Ellie is her husband Andy, who's played by the hilarious Ian Gomes (played Javier on Felicity).

Cutie neighbor Grayson is played by Josh Hopkins (most recently doing unethical things with Addison on Private Practice). He's also recently divorced - as Jules discovers one morning - already having some fun with younger ladies. This pushes Jules to flash her lady parts to a poor unsuspecting young man riding his back by her driveway. He lands on a car. Unfortunately, said boy goes to Travis' school and word travels fast.

Ex-husband Bobby (played by Brian Van Holt) is refreshingly not a douchebag philanderer. Just an immature under-achiever, but a good guy who's still around for Travis. Jules is annoyed by him, but they don't hate each other. It's not the same divorced couple comedy we always see, which is good news.

With Travis at his dad's for the night, Laurie convinces Jules to join her for a night out. She ends up with a young cutey at home, ends her drought, and makes him crackers with peanut butter as a post-game snack. All is well, until poor Travis comes home to catch a glimpse of some life-scarring activities.

With apologies and a bonding moment with his mom, Travis recovers in the end. What I like about Jules, is she's not sad or desperate. She's just going through a rough patch in a confusing time of her life, and she's honest about it. Sometimes painfully honest to an over-the-top place, but it's not obnoxious. I hate to say it, but sometimes it's hard for non-twentysomething comedic actresses to avoid crossing that line. Courtney Cox has pulled it off, and I think I'll really like this character.

I'm almost surprised to find that I really like this show. You can definitely feel the Bill Lawrence (also creator of Scrubs) style thrown in. The comedy is quirky and uncomfortable, but moves fast and expects the viewer to be along for the ride. So far, the characters are really fitting well together, especially Jules and Travis. I'm looking forward to seeing if they can keep the momentum going.

Favorite lines:

Jules (to the bouncer at the club): You're really black! It looks great on you.

Jules (telling young hottie why she never studied abroad): I don't know. I was 19. I started thinking with my coochie-cooch. And then bam, I had a kid. (uncomfortable silence) And you are hot as balls.

Jules (to neighbor Grayson bringing home a lady across the street): Stop having sex with babies. In a hoodie, really?

Laurie: Can we stop sprinting now? I feel like my boobs are trying to kill me. (I hear ya girl)

September 24, 2009

new show review: modern family

I've been excited by the buzz around Modern Family for a while - so glad I'm finally able to see for myself. Did anyone else watch it? Thoughts? Here's make initial take...

Over the course of the pilot, we meet the three families at the core of the show. In doing so, we see talking head and couple-on-the-couch interviews with the different family members. This confuses a little because I'm not sure if we're supposed to be asking why they're talking to a camera, is it even a camera? Who are they talking to? The show is shot in a similar fashion to The Office (but not a literal) using one roaming camera that follows them around in a documentary style. Is this intentional? Are we supposed to think they're being filmed or are we to ignore that and just accept it stylistically? Let's get to the families...

Phil & Claire's Family
Phil (Ty Burrell, Back to You) and Claire (Julie Bowen, Ed and Boston Legal) have three young kids: Haley (Sarah Hyland, Lipstick Jungle), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). They are the typical out of control family with three kids. Julie Bowen is funny and believable as the mom trying to be strict but coming off a little neurotic. Phil prides himself a "cool and whip" Dad, which he proves by learning all the dances in High School Musical. Even I'm embarrassed for these kids. Highlights: After Alex shoots his sister with a plastic BB gun, dad has to fulfill his (mom's) promise to shoot Alex as punishment. They make an appointment for the shooting at 4:15. Alex prepares by putting on 6 pairs of underwear. Unfortunately, cool dad can't do it. Instead, he accidentally shoots Alex in the wrist, then shoots Haley's new boyfriend, and himself.

Jay & Gloria's Family
Jay (Ed O'Neill, better known as Al Bundy) is married to the much younger and passionate Colombian Gloria (Sofia Vergara, Dirty Sexy Money, The Knights of Prosperity), who has a young son Manny. Highlights: Gloria and a reluctant Phil taking Manny, a mature romantic beyond his years (11), to the mall in his white puffy dress shirt to profess his love to a 16-year-old girl. After being mistaken for an elderly "mall walker" in his velour jumpsuit, Jay purchases some young, hip clothes and now looks like Ali G.

Mitchell & Cameron's Family
Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who I love and honestly think is one of the funniest actors on television right now) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) are a gay couple just returning home with a new baby adopted from Vietnam. Highlights: Mitchell accosting a lady who pointed to the "cute baby with the cream puffs" before realizing the baby was actually holding pastry. And Cameron revealing a mural he commissioned in baby Lily's nursery that features the couple as winged angels.

Apparently, the fact that they're all related was supposed to be a secret, but ABC has been promoting it for the past two months, so I'm not sure what happened there. Turns out, Jay is Mitchell and Claire's father. The whole family comes together in the last scene when Cameron invites Mitchell's family over for dinner to tell them about the new baby. Mitchell had been hiding the news for fear of his skeptical father's reaction. The last scene was by far my favorite part, when Cameron introduced the baby by donning a silk robe, blasting the theme from the lion king, and holding the baby over his head.

Overall, I'm still confused about the filming style and the talking head interviews, but I laughed more than I have in a while during a half hour comedy. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet are the standouts by far. I'm afraid Ty Burrell's cool dad shtick as Phil is going to get old quickly. Julie Bowen and Ed O'Neill had some funny moments, but I hope the writing stay sharp enough from keeping their characters from becoming overly cliche. Still, Modern Family has cemented it's place as my favorite new comedy of the fall season.

Favorite lines:

Mitchell: "Just turn it off."
Cameron: "I can't turn it off, it's who I am."
Mitchell: "The music."
Cameron: "Oh."

Phil: "Lily? Isn't that going to be hard for her to say?"

Jay: "She's one of us now. Let me see the little pot sticker."

September 23, 2009

ring on it on three!

How is it already Wednesday? This has been a big week for television . Starting with the Emmys on Sunday, the bulk of the fall premieres are happening this week. Here's what's happened so far:

Monday
  • Dancing with the Stars premiered. I don't care to watch, but I'm hearing Kelly Osbourne is the surprise of the season. Macy Gray and Ashley Hamilton were the first to get the boot.
  • Castle premiered on ABC. Back after a short midseason run last spring, I remembered why I love this show. Nathan Fillion is just so fun to watch. With right writing, this character could rival House in its quirkiness and unlikely charm (though the two are vastly different). Give this show a chance if you have extra time on Mondays.
  • Speaking of House, the two-hour season premiere was unbelievable. Really, it was a movie. And Hugh Laurie deserves and Oscar. The decision to place House/Laurie in an environment so far from the hospital and give him the opportunity to play off of such strong characters was brilliant. Amazing performances by Andre Braugher as Dr. Nolan, who managed to be an incredible match for House, and Franka Potente a lady who made me forget every ounce of Huddy. This show is completely revived for me.
  • How I Met Your Mother is back to play for another season. As much as I love this show, my annoyance with Ted is growing. Does anyone else feel that way? He seems to act more stupid every episode. Less whiny and awkward please. Thanks to Lily, the heart of that crew, for lock Robin and Barney in a room together forcing them to have "the talk". Personally, I'm all about the fake relationship.
  • The Big Bang Theory is back and all seems right with the world. The boys returning after three months in the North Pole with ridiculous beards (and Sheldon with his well-trimmed goatee) was all I needed to remind me how much I need this show in my life. Oh, and I'm glad they threw Penny and Leonard in the sack. Get it over with. There are just too many will-they-won't-they couples on TV these days.

Tuesday

  • The Forgotten, The Good Wife, and NCIS: Los Angeles all made their debuts. I'll be posting new show reviews for the first two this weekend. Check out other posts by clicking the "new show reviews" label below.
  • 90210 and Melrose Place returned for their third episodes. Ratings on the reworked 90210 have actually improved, but Melrose numbers are not too strong. That may change with the recent news that Heather Locklear is coming back as Amanda! Supposedly, she'll be playing Ella's boss at the talent agency.

Wednesday

  • Mercy, Modern Family, Cougar Town, and Eastwick all came into the world tonight. Look for those reviews coming soon as well. Anyone want to share their initial thoughts? Post a comment!
  • Law & Order: SVU also premiered for the season, but I had to bump it from my DVR. Sorry Liv. I'll catch the rerun on Saturday.
  • So You Think You Can Dance continued audition rounds in Boston and Atlanta. I fell in love with an awkward little guy in golf pants and confirmed my dislike for Tyce DiOrio. Mean is only funny when it's not obviously planned and rehearsed.
  • Glee. I'm not sure I can say anything that hasn't already been said. They outdid themselves with this week's episode "Preggers". Chris Colfer has my heart. Here's a clip. I encourage you not to watch the clip until you've seen the episode. It's so much better as a surprise.

Ring on it on three!



And we still have two nights to go. I'm slowly seeing my social life slip through my fingers - assuming I actually had one in the first place. Here's what's coming up:

Thursday

  • The second week of The Office, Community, and Parks & Recreation. I posted a review of Community - hoping the second episode will renew my interest. The Office premiere may be the best season opener ever for this show. A great use of the entire cast and back to officentric humor, which is the bread and butter of the show.
  • Two-hour premiere of Grey's Anatomy and FlashForward's opening night. Due to DVR restrictions, I'll be watching Grey's online this weekend. Call me crazy, but I'm not all that psyched about starting the season with a funeral. Really excited to see if FlashForward fulfills the hype. Look for a review this weekend (it's quickly becoming obvious that I won't be leaving my apartment).
  • The Mentalist is coming back for a second season. I'm really glad to have added this to my schedule.
  • Bones, Fringe, and Vampire Diaries are continuing their strong seasons so far. The Bones season premiere was amazing. I just watched it again this morning. Fringe has set up an awesome second season, and I'm getting more into Vampire Diaries every week.

Friday

  • Look for Law & Order, the original, to appear on NBC. I won't be watching it live, but it will be a trusty Saturday morning hangover and/or laundry show.
  • Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Numbers, Dollhouse, and Smallville all pack a punch starting on Friday if that's your thing. Friday is really becoming a strong night. Or at least the networks are trying to make it so.

That is all.

September 21, 2009

mad men: bloody massacre

I could probably write about Mad Men all day long. But I would make zero to no sense. Some episodes, though, are impossible to ignore. This week was one of those. "A Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency" (or as I now will refer to it "Bloody Massacre") was a doozie.

At the agency
Big news at Sterling Cooper is an impending visit from bossman Powell from the agency's new parent company in London. We've seen the regime change at Sterling Cooper starting to bubble up and agitate everyone from Don to Joan.

Cooper believes they have big things in store for Don - perhaps a promotion to run creative in both the London and NYC offices. He also insists that Sterling and Don make nice before the bossman arrives. I agree! I miss those two boys chatting over martinis. Cooper arranges a side-by-side barber appointment for the two. I love it. Draper gets a straight shave and some type of 1960s machine-powered shoulder massage. Sterling gets a manicure. The boys don't quite make nice, but agree to disagree about Sterling's life and business choices. Don seems genuinely disappointed in Sterling for letting go of the agency for $$ (not to mention letting of his marriage for booty).

Bossman arrives and has brought along a young whipper snapper from the London office called Guy McHendrick - smooth, charming, and nearly as handsome as Don Draper. As they walk around the office, Paul is sitting on his desk playing acoustic guitar. The guy really wants to be a rebel.

Guy announces that he will be the new bossman at Sterling Cooper. Price will be transferring to the Bombay office. Everyone else will basically stay the same - no promotion for Don and Sterling has been "accidentally" left off the organizational chart. Sterling blames this unappreciation as his ability to make his job look to easy. Cooper aptly reminds him "we took their money, we have to do what they say." Could Sterling be having regrets?

Joanie's last days
Hold the phone. No one told me about this (and apparently no one told Peggy either). Tomorrow is Joan's LAST DAY? No. I won't accept it.

That night, Greg comes home drunk in the middle of the night after missing Joan's celebratory dinner for his residency placement. Turns out, he didn't get the chief resident spot. His boss gave him what I imagine is horrible feedback for a surgeon: "You don't have brains in your fingers." Let's hope he doesn't take his feelings of powerlessness out on Joan again. Greg tells her she needs to keep working for another year while he finishes his residency and figures out what to do, but she has already quit. I will not pity this lady, she's too good for it.

On the home front
The episode starts off with an uncharacteristically casual Don reassuring sad Sally not to be afraid of the dark. Girl is spooked. Betty of course, is caring and understanding and believes Sally is just jealous of the baby.

Betty tries to smooth things over by presenting Sally with a gift from baby Gene. Apparently, she doesn't realize that Sally is too old for this trick. She opens the present anyway to find a new Barbie doll. (sidenote: 1960s Barbie was frightening). I guess Sally agrees because Don later finds her discarded in the bushes outside.

After Sally wakes up screaming, she finally admits to Don that she's afraid the baby is Grandpa Gene's ghost since he has the same name and the same room. Poor thing hasn't gotten over his death. Don makes a final plea to change the baby's name, but ice princess Betty isn't having it. Thankfully, Don is breaking the cycle of bad dads and helps Sally see that the baby is just her baby brother. Such a sweet moment!

The Bloody Massacre
HOLY GOD. Ditsy secretary totally drunk drove the lawn mover (conveniently in the office from new client John Deere) and sawed off Guy's foot! Blood spraying everywhere! Joan to the rescue. There's truly nothing this woman can't do.

Meanwhile, Don missed the whole thing after answering a call to meet Conrad Hilton (better known as Paris' grandad) at the Waldorf Astoria. Whaddya know, it's the guy from the bar at the country club. I knew we would see him again! Turns out, Mr. Hilton tracked Don down and wants him to take a look at some ad mock-ups. Don could have a major account in the bag.

Answering an emergency call from Joan, Don shows up at the hospital for what turns out to be an oddly funny scene. The London guys see no future for poor Guy now that he has a missing foot. Price will remain in NYC, and nothing will change afterall. Except they lose poor Joanie, but not before a sweet moment with Don. Those two always understood each other. Don appreciates someone who does their job well, and Joanie understands a lost soul and respects talent.

Come back Joanie! Joanie for partner! Sterling Cooper and Harris.

Mother of the Year moment of the week:
Betty: What are you doing?
Bobby: I'm bored.
Betty: Go bang your head against the wall.
Bobby: Mom!
Betty: Only boring people are bored.

Favorite quotes:
"This is your little brother. We don't know he is yet. We don't know who he's going to be. And that's a wonderful thing." (Don)

"Mrs. Harris, we wish you caviar and children and all that is good in your new life." (Guy)

"We had the world handed to us on a plate. Then you swing in on a chandelier, drop your pants, and crap on it." (Harry)

"The man is missing a foot. How is he going to work? He can't walk. The doctor said he'll never golf again." (Ford and Powell)

September 20, 2009

2009 primetime emmy awards

Neil Patrick Harris is hosting, and I love every minute of him. This year, the awards will be split into genres. I really like this idea. Each of the three segments is introduced by a montage.

Genre 1: Comedy
I won't go through every award, but here are the highlights. The first presenters are Tina Fey and Jon Hamm, who are introduced by their most obscure IMDB bio entries. Too funny.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
I could not be happier. This show was absolutely amazing, and she very well may have been the best part of it. Such a fantastic role for a fantastic lady. I hope this makes ABC really embarrassed. Her acceptance speech is very emotional and hilarious. She is obviously shocked to win. Yay Kristin!

Fellow nominees:
Amy Poehler as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock
Vanessa Williams as Wilhelmina Slater, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes, Weeds

Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men
I love ya Ducky, but I just don't see the appeal of this show. It's his first win after four nominations, so I guess I'm glad he won one. He gave a really nice speech.

Fellow nominees:
Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, The Office
Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock

Lead Actress In A Comedy Series: Toni Collette, United States Of Tara
Oddly, the award was presented by Justin Timberlake. Not that I'm complaining. Anyway, I'm so psyched for her. She looks so lovely, and she's such a talent. I have to admit I've never seen the show, but I've hurt great things about her performance.

Fellow nominees:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine, The New Adventures Of Old Christine
Christina Applegate as Samantha Newly, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman as Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program (wearing a mustache)
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin, Weeds

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Alec again. You can't really argue that he's great in this show. And he gave a truly classy speech. I really would have loved to see Jim Parsons up there though

Fellow nominees:
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory
Jemaine Clement as Jemaine, Flight Of The Conchords
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Monk
Steve Carell as Michael Scott, The Office
Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper, Two And A Half Men

Genre 2: Reality
The "Year in Reality" montage is hilarious and disturbing. But the So You Think You Can Dance/Dancing with the Stars dance performance is super cool.

Host For A Reality Program: Jeff Probst, Survivor
I don't really care about this award because Cat Deeley isn't nominated.

Fellow nominees:
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Padma Lakshmi & Tom Colicchio, Top Chef

Reality Competition Program: The Amazing Race
This show wins every year and for good reason. As much as I love Idol, the production is crap. I'd love to see SYTYCD on there next year.

Fellow nominees:
The Amazing Race, CBS
American Idol, FOX
Dancing With The Stars, ABC
Project Runway, Bravo
Top Chef, Bravo

Variety, Music Or Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
No surprise here. It just keeps getting more and more popular. And they even managed to stay funny after Bush left office.

Fellow nominees:
The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
Late Show With David Letterman, CBS
Real Time With Bill Maher, HBO
Saturday Night Live, NBC

Genre 3: Drama
The montage includes a bunch of crime shows and Lost. Where was the Mad Men?

Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Cherry Jones, 24
I don't watch the show, but I'm fine with this one. She's a great actress, and this her first nomination and win at the Emmys.

Fellow nominees:
Rose Byrne as Ellen Parsons, Damages
Sandra Oh as Dr. Christina Yang, Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest as Gina, In Treatment
Hope Davis as Mia, In Treatment

Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Michael Emerson, Lost
Yay! I'm almost as excited about this as I was about Kristin. He seriously dominates the role of Ben on Lost.

Fellow nominees:
William Shatner as Denny Crane, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson as Jerry Espenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad
William Hurt as Daniel Purcell, Damages
John Slattery as Roger Sterling, Mad Men

Break for "In Memoriam" with Sarah McLachlan singing "I Will Remember You" live (and I'm transported back to high school graduation). This part makes me cry every time. We lost a lot of amazing people this year.

Lead Actress In A Drama Series: Glenn Close, Damages
I actually don't watch many of these shows, but it's quite a prestigious group of ladies. I'm glad to see Elizabeth Moss among them. Glenn Close wins again this year. Fine by me.

Fellow nominees:
Sally Field as Nora Walker, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Closer
Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, Law & Order: SVU
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Holly Hunter as Grace Hanadarko, Saving Grace

Lead Actor In A Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Another crazy good group of nominees. And the Emmy goes to Bryan Cranston again this year. I think this is a surprise again. I don't watch the show. But seriously, GIVE HUGH LAURIE AN EMMY. This is getting out of hand.

Fellow nominees:
Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, Dexter
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, House
Gabriel Byrne as Paul, In Treatment
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Mad Men
Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, The Mentalist

Now it's time for the the big guns...

Outstanding Comedy Series: 30 Rock
Not shocking. I know it's good and everyone loves it. I just really would have liked to see some fresh blood in there. But you have to give credit where credit is due, and they deliver every season. Congrats to HIMYM and FOTC for the nominations. I love that Tina Fey thanked NBC for keeping them on the air even though they're so much more expensive than a talk show.

Fellow nominees:
Entourage, HBO
Family Guy, FOX
Flight Of The Conchords, HBO
How I Met Your Mother, CBS
The Office, NBC
Weeds, Showtime

Outstanding Drama Series: Mad Men
Truly great shows in this list, but I'm really glad Mad Men is bringing it home again this year. There's really nothing else like it on television now - not to take away from great shows like Lost and House. It's just so damn good.

Fellow nominees:
Big Love, HBO
Breaking Bad, AMC
Damages, FX Networks
Dexter, Showtime
House, FOX
Lost, ABC

Thank NPH for a lovely show. It was really fun to watch and actually moved quickly, which is rare. Congrats!

September 17, 2009

new show review: community

Community is one of the shows I've been most excited about this season. It definitely has a plum spot on NBC's class Thursday comedy night. Let's see if it fulfills the tall order.

The cast includes Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, a lawyer who was suspended by the bar and needs to get his college degree, so he's enrolled at the the local community college. His friend Duncan (John Oliver from The Daily Show) is a professor, who Jeff is hoping will help him breeze through classes with some test answers.

At school, Jeff meets Abed (Danny Pudi) a fast-talking slightly neurotic nerd. And Britta (Gillian Jacobs), a woman from his Spanish class who Jeff is crushing on. Jeff decides to create a fake Spanish study group in order to get to know her.

Pierce (Chevy Chase) has returned to school as he sits on a moist towelette fortune, Annie (Alison Brie, Trudy from Mad Men) is a paranoid over-achieving recovering pill popper fresh out of high school, Troy (Donald Glover) is also just out of high school where he was a jock who skated by on his popularity, Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a jumpy and possibly violent mom, who is falling victim to Pierce's sexual harassment.

The study group quickly falls apart as personalities clash, and they start to rip each other apart. Jeff - more concerned with securing test answers and a date with Britta - does not help matters. He redeems himself with a motivational speech that, while slightly misguided, works to bring the group together. And now it's official. It's a community. Except he doesn't get a date from Britta...or the test answers from Duncan.

In the end, the group comes together to give Jeff an unintentional pep talk, and he decides he has no choice but to earn his degree. They agree to officially form the study group.

Not a lot happened in the pilot besides bringing these people together. I feel like most of the funniest parts were in the many, many previews that NBC showed all season. The jokes in the pilot were a little heavy-handed, but that tends to happen with comedy pilots. McHale's performance is good, but a little overdone. I'm hoping that will go away in the coming episodes. Chevy's character is written perfectly for him. My favorite performance of the pilot was Danny Pudi as Abed, he's just ridiculous enough. Overall, I'm a little disappointed, but I'll keep watching.

September 16, 2009

abc gets political with new pilot

Good news for political nerds still mourning the loss of The West Wing. (though I am in NO way suggesting this or anything else could ever replace it) Variety is reporting a new ABC pilot called Freshmen about three newly elected Members of Congress sharing an apartment in DC.

As a political nerd and DC resident myself, I'm excited but prepared to cast a critical eye on this one. We should be in good hands though, writer Greg Malins, formerly of Friends and showrunner for How I Met Your Mother, has paired with Arianna Huffington (yes, that Ariana Huffington) to develop the show. It will be a multi-camera half-hour sitcom, a format that is really trying to make a comeback this season.

According to Variety, the three Members will include two men and one woman with varying political leanings - one left, one right, and one independent. In real life, Congressmen sharing a residence isn't that uncommon, especially among junior Members (but probably more common for them to bunk with their own party).

Says Malin:

"The stories are endless...They're all crazy (in D.C.). These characters will write themselves."

That I can attest to.

September 15, 2009

new show review: the jay leno show

The Jay Leno Show premiered last night. I don't plan to watch, but I was curious to see the first episode. As much as NBC promoted a fresh comedy format at 10:00, it's really just Jay's Tonight Show an hour earlier.

There's no doubt, Jay Leno is a pro. He's been hosting for decades now, so he's completely comfortable on stage. He's a friendly, likable guy who tells topical jokes. If you like that, then you get to hold onto it for another season (at least). Kevin Eubanks is back as well - his music is great and his laugh is reliable as ever.

As someone who could take or leave Jay's Tonight Show depending on the guest, I'm not seeing anything new to keep me coming back. The opening monologue is exactly the same. Like I said, Jay can deliver a joke, but it's just not my kind of comedy. This was followed by Jay bringing out "one of the guys from The Hangover" who turned out to be the wedding singer from the final scene. Call me crazy, but I was hoping for Zach. Cut to a pre-taped segment with this guy singing at a carwash, which I didn't find funny at all. This was the best they could do for the first episode?

The guest segment is a little more casual - two chairs rather than a desk and a couch. Jay plans to have a variety of guests that will spend more time with him and talk comedy, rather than a parade of celebs plugging their latest project. Jerry Seinfeld was the first guest. This was my favorite part - you really can't go wrong with two veteran comedians bouncing off each other. You're bound to laugh eventually. Oprah also made a cameo via satellite.

The next segment was a sliced mock interview with President Obama. This format is slightly overdone now, with Jon Stewart really mastering it, but it's still good for a few laughs.
Jay made it a point to say how a daily show allows them to really keep the content current - all of this before introducing Kanye West for a brief interview to talk about "the incident" at the VMAs on Sunday. If you live in a hole, Kanye walked on stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, took her mic away, and told the world that Beyonce was robbed.

Kanye was already scheduled to perform with Jay-Z and Rihanna, and his media machine obviously jumped at the chance for him to redeem himself on national television. He sat down with Jay for about 5 minutes of extremely awkward questions. Look, Jay is not Diane Sawyer. Asking questions about what Kanye's mom would have thought about his actions was just awkward - not to mention Kanye sitting there in silence staring at the ground for 2 minutes.

I hate to say it, but I have a strange feeling that the entire thing was orchestrated by Kanye, including the VMAs and subsequent apologies. Kanye's main message to Jay was that he didn't take the necessary time off after his mom's passing to grieve, and he needs to disappear for a while. Why does it feel like he's manufacturing a "comeback"? He suffered a terrible loss, and I do think he deserves a break. I just hope this isn't a stunt.

The interview is followed by a performance of Jay-Z's new song with Rihanna and Kanye. This is the highlight for me. Jay-Z can do no wrong.

Jay wraps up the show with headlines, which they're saving for the end as a strong lead in to local news. Really? I can get funnier clips on fail blog every day.

Jay, I like you. I just wish you didn't take 10:00 away from other potential programming on NBC. Sorry, I won't be watching.

September 14, 2009

new show review: vampire diaries

I may be the only one on the planet at the moment, but I'm not into vampires. I've never seen True Blood, though I'm starting to think I'm missing out, and I've never read or seen anything of the Twilight persuasion. That said, I was a big Buffy fan, but I'm not sure that qualifies as hardcore vampire. Something tells me, neither does the new CW series Vampire Diaries.

I wasn't planning to watch, but I fell victim to some peer pressure from my favorite TV podcast. So, I'm giving the pilot a shot. Here are my thoughts...

The pilot begins with a young couple in love driving down a foggy dark backwoods road. You know this is going nowhere good. Sure enough, they hit a man in the middle of the road, who promptly bites their necks and kills them. Nice.

Cut to day time, we meet Elena (Nina Dobrev, Degrassi alum with surprisingly strong acting chops) who's living in a small town called Mystic Falls with her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, yup his grandson) and aunt Jenna (Sara Canning), and we learn the kids' parents were recently killed in a car accident.

Elena and Jeremy are starting their first day of school in the fall (both in high school). Looks like Jeremy has a little drug problem with a side of distribution. There's a new kid at school, more accurately a brooding bad boy in a leather jacket (looks like we have our vampire), named Stefan (Paul Wesley, 24, Everwood) who Elena and her best friend Bonnie (Katerina Graham) are scoping out.

We are getting two narrations throughout the episode - one through Stefan and one through Elena, both writing in their journals.

Elena visits her parents' grave at the cemetery and gets an eerie feeling that a nearby black crow is following her. The "vampire fog" starts to gather, and she tries to run away from the crow and falls on the ground. Low and behold, Stefan comes around the corner playing the part of the handsome new guy. She quickly forgets about the crow, but Stefan is salivating at the blood dripping from her injured leg. Thankfully, he resists. What a stand up guy.

Later, Stefan joins Elena at the town teen hangout The Grill. Showing up together turns heads, including that of Elena's former boyfriend Matt (Zach Roerig, Friday Night Lights). Teen chat reveals that Stefan's parents also passed away, and he lives with his uncle. Oh, and there's a big start of school rager in the woods that night. Surprise.

Meanwhile, Jeremy is crushing on Vicki (Kayla Ewell, The OC, Entourage), a popular pretty girl at school (also Matt's sister), who apparently scored some drugs a little extra from Jeremy over the summer. But now she wants him to stay away and not interfere with her bully cool guy boyfriend Tyler (Michael Trevino). More surprises.

Stefan returns home to said uncle. But what? Uncle (in his 30s) actually refers to HIM as Uncle Stefan, and we learn that fake uncle is actually Stefan's nephew Zach (Chris William Martin, health clinic boyfriend on Felicity). Zach is none too pleased to have found a dead animal carcass, an apparent sign of Stefan's continued vampiring ways, which he promised to give up. Is that even possible? I always thought, once a vampire, always a vampire. Looks like Stefan has been gone for quite some time, and this town has a distant past riddled with vampire troubles. As he rifles through old journals, Stefan finds a very old photo of woman named Katherine in 1864 who looks just like Elena. And the mystery continues...

Cut to big rager in the woods. Red plastic cups galore. Elena and Stefan go on a walk where we learn more about her parents' death - they drove off a bridge into a lake with Elena in the back seat. She survived, they didn't.

In other woods, Vicki's boyfriend gets rough with her until Jeremy shows up to break it up. Vicki is not pleased and still doesn't want him around even though he obviously helped her out. Girl's got issues. She ends up wondering into the woods alone and the vampire fog appears. Cut to black.

Elena and Jeremy find Vicki in the woods bleeding profusely from a bite on her neck. The kids carry her to help, and Stefan runs home. He tells Zach about Vicki, but says it wasn't him. And then we're introduced to Damon (Ian Somerhalder, Boone from Lost), Stefan's evil brother. So, he was the black crow and also the one nibbling at Vicki's neck.

We learn the brothers haven't seen each other in 15 years (though they've obviously been around for way longer than that) and didn't part on good terms. Damon's trying instigate Stefan. "When's the last time you had something stronger than a squirrel?" Them's fightin' words. Apparently, Stefan decided to stop eating people, which makes him weaker than Damon. Looks like Damon's going to make it his mission to bring the darker side to Mystic Falls.

In the hospital, Vicki wakes up to Matt sitting by her bed. She says "vampire". Oh snap.

We learn both Elena and Stefan are both trying to start over, but they can't escape the past. Stefan is here to try to start a new life with Elena, which has something to do with his long lost love (and Elena lookalike) Katherine.

I'm surprised how much I liked it. The music is good. Though somehow Ian Somerhalder has aged 20 years since Lost. The filming and small town setting remind me a little of CW's departed show Everwood. Overall, the young actors are really strong, especially Nina Dobrev playing Elena, which is good news. And they've set up an interesting mystery right off the bat (get it?). I think anyone who's into teen mysteries or vampire lore, but not too seriously, will like the show. It's definitely not hardcore vampire stuff, but more for the novice like me.

Problem is, the timeslot is Thursday night at 8:00, which means it's up against FlashForward on ABC, which I'm really looking forward to, and Bones on FOX, which is one of my staples. I wish CW would revive the old WB practice and run repeats on Sundays. Until they smarten up, I'll be keeping track of this on online.

Let me know if you caught the pilot and what you thought!

September 13, 2009

weekend reflections and the week ahead...

So much went down on TV over the weekend. Bananas. And fall is officially in full swing with the season premieres really starting to roll in this week. Here's a brief rundown of this weekend on television:

In Sports...
Serena Williams threatened to shove a tennis ball down the throat of a US Open line judge, using a few choice words along the way.
Football Sunday fun days officially began.

In Music...
Taylor Swift won her first VMA, Best Female Video. Congratulations!
Kanye confirmed his status as a giant douchebag.
Beyonce won Best Video of the Year VMA, confirmed her position as the queen of class.
Lady Gaga wore blood and some type of muppet mask. The lady is fascinating.
Jay-Z closing the night like only he can, only to be oddly stage crashed by Lil' Mama. What?

In Awards...
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards hosted by Kathy Griffin (broadcast this Friday afternoon). A few highlights:

  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: SVU
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
  • Outstanding Reality Program: Intervention by A&E
  • Interactive Media, Fiction: DharmaWantsYou.com’s “Dharma Initiative”
  • Interactive Media, Nonfiction: “The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience”
  • Outstanding Short Format Live-Action Entertainment Program: Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog

In My Life...
I met Perez Hilton. (not on television)

After that whirlwind of a weekend, which I'm sure you've heard plenty about through tweets, facebook, blogs, and smoke signals, the fun doesn't stop. Here's what's up for this week:

Series Premieres...
MONDAY: The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
WEDNESDAY: The Beautiful Life (CW)
THURSDAY: Community (NBC)
SUNDAY: Bored to Death (HBO)

Season Premieres...
MONDAY: One Tree Hill (CW), Gossip Girl (CW)
TUESDAY: The Biggest Loser (NBC),
THURSDAY: SNL: Weekend Update Thursday (NBC), The Office (NBC), Parks & Recreation (NBC), Bones (FOX), Fringe (FOX), Survivor: Samoa (CBS), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Award Ceremonies...
500 reruns of MTV's Video Music Awards
The 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday at 8:00 (see my list of nominees here)

September 12, 2009

new show review: glee

Many saw the pilot preview of Glee last May - smart move by FOX because the show generated quite a bit of buzz over the summer. The second episode finally arrived last week. Are they following through on the hype? Here are my thoughts on the first two episodes...

Before I start, I'm fully aware that this show makes me write like a 16-year-old.

Will Schuester is the optimistic teacher (Matthew Morrison of Broadway fame), who attempts to save McKinley High's glee club from obscurity with a group of underdog aspiring performers (they had me at underdog). While most of the young actors are newcomers, you'll recognize Jayma Mays, playing germaphobe teacher and glee club (Will) supporter Emma Pillsbury, from movies and guest spots on shows like Ugly Betty, and the classic Jane Lynch, playing the scary scheming cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, from movies like 40 Year Old Virgin, Role Models, and this summer's Julie & Julia.

The pilot begins with Will asking for the glee club director job and trying to scrape together funds, support from the principal, and more students. Among the existing club members, we have Rachel (Lea Michelle), a self-proclaimed rising star, singing the classic cliche "On My Own" from Les Mis at their first audition. I laughed out loud at the gold star sticker she uses every time she signs her name. She has supportive stage dads and a self-promoting MySpace page. She's completely over-the-top and possibly the devil, but everyone at school is mean to her, so of course I love her.

The other original members include Kurt (Chris Colfer) the high fashion soprano, Mercedes (Amber Riley) the diva power voice, Artie (Kevin McHale) the geeky rock and roll guitarist, and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) the awkward punk rocker.

Will's efforts to find some cool kids to the glee club lead him to Finn (Cory Monteith) the quarterback rocking "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" in the boys locker room showers. Will then bribes Finn into the glee club by planting a teacher's weed bag in his locker. We learn that Finn has a childhood music dream and agrees to join the club at the risk of violent retaliation from his sociopath football teammates and his Jesus freak mean girl head cheerleader girlfriend Quinn.

In short, things fall apart when Will is forced to quit his job after the news that his verbally abusive, money hungry wife Terri is pregnant (I could do with less of this side story). Finn subsequently quits until he has a moment of inspiration (and an unfortunate teen movie melodrama speech) in front of his football team.

The whole thing comes together in the end when the kids pull together a practice performance of "Don't Stop Believing" and (with the help of Emma the lovestruck guidance counselor) win Will back. Swoon.

At this point, the show might sound either ridiculous like some kind of warped teen drama. It's neither. The tone is hard to explain, but the execution is hilarious and genuine. The kids need some acting practice, but so far, I'm hooked.

In the second episode "Showmance", we learn from scary Sue (cheerleading coach) that Will needs 6 more students in the glee club to qualify for regionals this year - principal will pull their funding unless they place at this competition. Sue is after the funding, and she's not afraid to bully Will for it.
Finn's jesus freak mean girlfriend Quinn is pressuring him to quit because she doesn't want to be his "big gay beard", Rachel gets another slushy to the face while her crush on Finn grows, and the kids need to perform at the Friday pep rally to recruit more members. Unfortunately, Will chooses a disco number "Freak Out" as the performance piece.

Giving into the kids' demands, he brings them a more modern piece to work on for future shows - Kanye's "Gold Digger" - but they're still not thrilled about the disco number. Ok, I've heard mixed comments about the obvious lip synching during the show. Although we know these actors provide the vocals, it's nearly impossible to have them singing live on tape, so the lip synching is inevitable. I'm going to chose not to nitpick and enjoy the music.

In the end, the kids rebel against Will and perform a sexy version of "Push It" which is slightly painful to watch. The crowd's reception was great, but Sue and the principal (fueled by parental complaints) strongly disapprove (Sue suggests the kids be put into foster care) and deliver new Puritanic restrictions to future music selections. Will is none to pleased with the kids.

The pep rally does attract new tryouts though, which include Quinn and two other cheerleaders, who are actually pretty talented (evil). Sue supports their participation, so she can use them as spies. In a stroke of irony, Quinn wins the solo over Rachel because her song meets the principal's approved list of songs. This is all after poor Rachel gets kissed and ditched by an apologetic Finn during a private rehearsal turned traumatic teenage boy moment.

The B plots give us more of Will's horrible wife. I'm really having a hard time tolerating her. More kids, less Teri. We find out that she actually isn't pregnant, but not before Will ends up taking a night time janitorial staff to afford the grand foyer upgrade for Teri's dream cookie cutter house. Teri chooses not to tell Will there is no baby, but lets him quit the janitor job. Meanwhile, Emma is starting to give up on her crush and agrees to go out with Ken, the football coach.
Overall, I liked the second episode. Not quite as strong as the pilot, but definitely enough to keep me hooked. Next week is "Preggers" on Wednesday at 9:00.

September 11, 2009

fate of summer shows

As we venture into fall premieres, you may be wondering if your favorite new summer shows will live to see another summer. Here's some intel that I've gathered (this doesn't include returning shows):

The Goode Family (FOX) - cancelled

HawthoRNe (TNT) - renewed

Merlin (NBC/BBC) - likely done in the US, but will continue it's run in the UK

Royal Pains (USA) - renewed, best ratings for USA this summer

Philanthropist (NBC) - no official word, but it doesn't look good

The Listener (NBC) - cancelled, didn't even survive a full run

10 Things I Hate About You (ABC Family) - expect an official renewal soon (UPDATE: officially renewed for an additional 10 episodes to start running in January 2010)

Warehouse 13 (Syfy) - renewed

Defying Gravity (ABC) - two episodes left, no official word, but doesn't look good

Make It or Break It (ABC Family) - renewed, stellar ratings for the network

Dark Blue (TNT) - on schedule for a few more weeks, renewal looks good

Drop Dead Diva (Oxygen) - renewed

Guiliana & Bill (Style) - renewed

September 10, 2009

texts from last night on tv?

This concept confuses me slightly, but the thought of it is still awesome. One of my favorite waste time blogs is definitely texts from last night. Ridiculously "Impaired" or morning after text messages are submitted to the site from all walks of life with an area code as the only identifier. It's hilarious.

Warning: this blog is not for the more conservative or weak-stomached among us

Yesterday, Variety reported that FOX has purchased the rights to develop the blog into a comedy series. STEVE HOLLAND (writer for The Big Bang Theory) has been tapped to write the pilot, which will be produced by Sony and Happy Madison (Adam Sandler's shop). Holland plans to base the show on this idea of regrettable text communication by twentysomethings.

It has the potential to be hilarious - let's hope they're able to pull together a quality cast.

September 9, 2009

2009 fall schedule: fridays

Fridays usually serve two purposes for networks 1) a programming spot for older audiences, or 2) a grazing pasture where shows are sent to die. There are a few curious decisions on the schedule for Fridays this fall, so I think it's worth a look.

NBC

Law & Order: The original L&O has been on forever and bopped around to several timeslots. Two seasons ago, the show hit a rough patch and came close to cancellation. In the past two season, however, with the addition Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson, Linus Roache as the new ADA, and Sam Waterston in the DA spot, the quality is near the heyday of the show. I hope the Friday timeslot doesn't spell disaster. (premieres Sept. 25)

Southland: I wrote a review of Southland at the end of its run last spring. There are a few issues that need to be addressed, but overall, I came to really like this show. Apparently, they're narrowing the focus to fewer characters - more Regina King and Ben Mackenzie. Still no leaks about what happens to Tom Everett Scott's character who received a swift shot to the chest in the season finale. I really question NBC's decision to stick this on Friday nights, but I guess they're just working with limited space. Thanks Jay. (premieres Oct. 23)

The Jay Leno Show: Every Monday through Friday starting September 14th.

ABC

Supernanny: I've seen this show a few times, and it always disturbs me. I recommend putting teenagers in front of it from time to time as a means of birth control. (premieres Oct. 16)

Ugly Betty: Super sad to see Betty relegated to Friday. Last season wasn't my favorite, but I still think this show is so much more original and funny than so many other shows out there. And not to sound preachy, but you don't get that family values message much anymore, and Betty does it so well without beating you over the head. I hope loyal fans will stick with it on this new night. I'm excited to see Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Kristen Johnson as guest stars this season. (premieres Oct. 9)

20/20: Told you it was old people night (sorry).

CBS

Ghost Whisperer: You have to give CBS credit for really knowing their audience and planning their nightly schedules well. At the opposite end of their Monday comedy night, Fridays have been a successful night for programming to an older audience on CBS. Ghost Whisperer has had a loyal following from the start. The show has never interested me personally, but more power to J-Love. (premieres Sept. 25)

Medium: After NBC somewhat mysteriously dropped Medium at the end of last season, CBS quickly scooped it up. All seems right with the world, however, as NBC is really pushing the comedy this season, and Medium seems a perfect fit for CBS, especially in this timeslot. I'm sensing the same success as JAG - a nine-year series that spent just one season at NBC before migrating to a happier home at CBS. (premieres Sept. 25)

Numb3rs: I've never seen this show, nor does it really interest me, but I was surprised to learn two things on IMDB: it's been on for 6 seasons and Judd Hirsch is in it. Who knew? (premieres Sept. 25)

FOX

Brothers: A new comedy starring Michael Strahan, former defensive end for the Giants, and Daryl Mitchell, favorite of mine from Ed and 10 Things I Hate About You (the movie). They play brothers, the first of which just finished his NFL career. Unfortunately, I've heard less than stellar reviews of the pilot. I'll probably skip this one. (premieres Sept. 9)

Til' Death: I cannot believe this is still on. (premieres Oct. 2)

Dollhouse: Joss Whedon's spring 2009 premiere drama staring Eliza Dushku. I had every intention of watching this last year, but sort of forgot about it and didn't feel motivated to catch up over the summer. I may try to catch it this year, but I know there was a general disappointment among diehard Whedon fans. (premieres Sept. 25)

CW

Smallville: This sort of "fringe" WB turned CW show is actually going into its 9th season. I say fringe because it never really fit the WB mold, and it probably fits the CW mold even less. Still, the ratings are always strong. Superman must be middle-aged by now. (premieres Sept. 25)

Syfy

Stargate Universe: In case you're wondering about that jumble of words above, the former SciFi network recently rebranded to SyFy. I think it has something to do with trying to broaden their appeal. I've enjoyed a few Syfy originals, but I always seem to forget about this network, so I wanted to be sure to highlight this new show. Stargate Universe is the latest in the Stargate franchise (Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, etc.). I've never seen any of these shows, but this one is billed for newcomers to the Stargate story, and the cast is really compelling. From what I've learned, a Stargate is a ring-shaped alien device that creates a teleportation wormhole. There are a network of Stargates investigated over the course of the franchise. Are you still with me? Stargate Universe is about a team of scientists and soldiers who board an abandoned ship called Destiny after their base is attacked. Aboard Destiny, they are unable to return or Earth or man the ship, but they can travel through planets that have Stargates. Woah. I think I'm geeked out. The cast includes Lou Diamond Phillips, David Blue (played Cliff on Ugly Betty), Ming Na (ER), and Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore's Shooter McGavin). (premieres Oct. 2)

USA

White Collar: USA keeps cranking them out. This one is about an unlikely partnership between con artist Neil Caffrey (Matthew Bomer who played Bryce on Chuck) and an FBI agent Peter Stokes (Tim DeKay, a face you'll recognize as a serial guest star). Stokes catches Caffrey after chasing him around for years, Caffrey then breaks out of prison, but is soon captured again by Stokes. Got that? Caffrey manages to convince his nemesis that his talents would be wasted in prison. They agree to partner up to catch other big-time elusive criminals. (premieres Oct. 23)

September 8, 2009

new show review: melrose place

Here's the first of my reviews for the new fall shows. I'll try to write about as many pilots as possible (because I know you're on the edge of your seats). As usual, the CW got out in front with the first premieres of the season.

Obviously, Melrose Place is a reboot of the original 1990s series by the same name about an apartment complex in Los Angeles where the residents' lives are intertwined. While the two iterations share the premise - here's where I think they will differ. Like the original 90210, Melrose Place began at PG-13 with stories like Billy's personal crisis about whether or not he wanted to take over his family business. The show ended at R with murder and adultery... in every episode. From what I gather, the reboot is starting where the original ended.

Here's the cast/residents of Melrose place. Boyfriend and girlfriend Jonah Hill and Riley Richmond are played by Michael Rady (Greek, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and Jessica Lucas (90210, Cloverfield). Amanda replacement and Hollywood publicist Ella Simms is played by Katie Cassidy (Harper's Island, Supernatural). Auggie Kirkpatrick, a recovering alcoholic chef, is played by Colin Egglesfield (All My Children). David Breck, the bad boy and son of Michael Mancini, is played by Shaun Sipos (Shark). New Melrose resident, small town girl Violet Foster is played by Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Young, responsible medical intern Lauren Yung (also Ella's roommate) is played by Stephanie Jacobsen (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).

The pilot begins with the infamous Sydney. Back from the dead? Well, not for long anway. She shows up, once again, face down in a bloody pool. We know Sydney has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and a lingering affair with David, whose father Michael took him in when he was 13 (mother unknown so far), oh and apparently Michael helped Syndey fake her own death the last time around. Sydney also helped Ella get her apartment and ultimately very successful job and threatened to kick her out of the building on the night she died. The last known contact with Sydney was David, who passed out drunk doesn't remember anything until Violet screamed upon discovering the body.

Jonah is a filmmaker, who is represented by Ella. And she wants him. She's not thrilled that Jonah proposed to Riley that morning...may not be a problem though since she hasn't said yes yet. Jonah is filming a 16-year-old's birthday party when he accidentally records the birthday girl's film producer father making out with a teenager. He offers to Jonah $100,000 to write a screenplay in order to ensure his silence. Oh Hollywood. Good guy Jonah rejects the offer and Riley accepts his proposal.

Meanwhile, Lauren is struggling to pay her med school bills after her father lost his job, but she just happens to score a date with a patient's cute son, who creepily offers her $5,000 to "pay the bills". Upon returning from creepy date, Lauren runs into Violet, who we haven't seen much of yet. I really wanted Ashlee to be a good actor, I really did.

In retro land, we see that Michael now has a wife and son, but was at some point in the recent past fooled around with Sydney. Apparently, he couldn't shake the lady for the past 11 years.

The episode ends with an impromptu memorial service for Sydney around the pool (morbid). Looks like the mystery will unfold throughout this season. The closing music sequence shows Jonah and Riley heading upstairs to celebrate, Lauren showing up at creepy guy's hotel, David stealing a $1.3 million painting from what looks like Michael's house, Ella drinking alone making out with a lady stranger, Auggie burning some bloody clothes, and Violet stealing a framed photo of Sydney from her memorial. Do we think that was her mother?

Overall, the pilot was good, but not great. Actually, it was a little slow until the last two minutes. There's some good acting from more experienced cast members like Michael Rady, and some others are falling a little flat. I'm not hooked, but I'll probably give it a few more episodes to see where it goes.

September 7, 2009

2009 fall schedule: thursdays

If Wednesdays are a DVR connundrum, then Thursdays are a DVR nightmare. I really need to get a second one of these things. Would that be ridiculous in a one-room apartment? Don't judge. During the 8:00 hour, I have four shows I want to see. During the 9:00 hour, I have three. Most likely, I'll end up watching the comedies on hulu because they're easier to watch online. Although, it seems against my religion to not record The Office.

NBC

SNL: Weekend Update Thursday: These specials did really well last year, but that was mainly due to the elections and Tina Fey. I'm a little surprised they're going for it again, although NBC is really pushing the "all about comedy" party line lately. Latest SNL casting news - Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson were let go after just one season as series regulars and replaced by two brand new female cast members. This will run for 4 weeks, after which Community will move to the 8pm timeslot. (premieres Sept. 17)

Parks & Recreation: I ended last season wanting a lot more from Parks & Recreation. I like all the ingredients - Amy Poehler, the supporting cast, the camera style. But it didn't quite click for me. I'm hoping they can iron out the kinks this season and branch out from the repetitive Leslie-is-an-idiot storyline. (premieres Sept. 17)

The Office: My long-time love for The Office leaves me deaf to any criticism saying show has run its course. I still find it hilarious, and I still love the characters. I know it can't go on forever, but I'm ready and waiting for season 6. If I could make one request, it would be for fewer love stories and more office humor this season. (premieres Sept. 17)

Community: Although every network preview is touting the same line, this probably is one the most anticipated shows of the season. That's mostly because of the cast - particularly Chevy Chase and Joel McHale, who's so popular from The Soup. The previews I've seen have me laughing out loud. I just hope the show delivers quality comedy and doesn't try to hit you over the head with ridiculous, unbelievable stuff. Community will move from 9:30pm to 8pm after the SNL run. (premieres Sept. 17)

30 Rock: The NBC powerhouse comedy will have a late start this fall, but it's not as if anyone will forget about it. 30 Rock continues to kill at award shows and amidst popular conversation, but doesn't necessary rock the ratings. Don't worry, it's not going anywhere. Admittedly, I'm still not into it, which I know is blasphemous for a TV blogger. I think it's funny and everything, it's just not appointment TV for me. (premieres Oct. 15)

The Jay Leno Show: Every Monday through Friday starting September 14th.

ABC

FlashForward: One of the new dramas I'm most looking forward to this season, so I really hope it doesn't suck. The premise is just so interesting to me - basically the whole world blacks out for a few minutes and gets a glimpse of their future. The plot unfolds as the characters try to prevent or ensure whatever they saw. The cast includes some all stars led by Joseph Fiennes, but I'm particularly excited about not just Penny (Sonya Walger), but also Charlie (Dominic Monahan) from Lost. (premieres Sept. 24)

Grey's Anatomy: Ugh. I don't know if I have the willpower to write about this. When it comes down to it, Grey's Anatomy has become a victim of its own success. I would enjoy it a lot better if it was possible to avoid the behind-the-scenes drama that inevitably affects the screen. But I'll still watch this season. Damn this show. (premieres Sept. 24)

Private Practice: I've been a fairly silent supporter of Private Practice - partly out of shame because everyone hates on it. I just loved Addison Forbes Montgomery Shepherd Montgomery on Grey's, and I really wanted to love her show. Maybe that's why I gave it some extra leeway first two seasons. Overall, the patient stories are really strong, the characters have great potential, but their stories are often weak. There's too much emphasis on Addison's love life and who's sleep with whom - these actors can do much better than that. Toward the end of last season, we started to get there...ending with Meagan from Felicity trying to cut Violet's baby out of her belly! (premieres Oct. 1)

CBS

Survivor: Samoa: The godfather of reality competition programming is still going strong. I don't watch it, but there's something comforting about knowing it's there. (premieres Sept. 17)

CSI: So many letters, still not watching. (premieres Sept. 24)

The Mentalist: Sort of accidentally, The Mentalist became my summer repeat discovery. I had heard many good things about the show, but really no desire to watch since I already have so many detective dramas on my schedule. But I started to DVR the reruns and really enjoyed them. Simon Baker is so fun to watch as Patrick Jane. My only complaint is that I wish some of the mysteries were a little less obvious, so we could appreciate his talents all the more. (premieres Sept. 24)

FOX

Bones: FOX made a good decision to pair Bones and Fringe, but I'm not sure Thursday nights were the best idea. Bones can definitely hold its own at 8:00. The show's loyal following proved itself while Bones played hopscotch all over the schedule last season. I personally can't wait to see how Booth's memory troubles play out in the beginning of this season. (premieres Sept. 17)

Fringe: On the other hand, Fringe will be up against The Office, Grey's Anatomy, and CSI in the 9:00 slot. I'm not sure this show gained enough momentum last season to stand up against these three powerhouses. That said, I loved how the last season ended, opening up a whole new element of the plot with a parallel universe. I'm really excited to see how they move forward. (premieres Sept. 17)

CW

Vampire Diaries: Are we done with vampires yet? Not until the CW throws a hat into the ring. Vampire Diaries is based on a series of young adult novels by L.J. Smith, which centers around Elena Gilbert, a high school girl torn between two vampire brothers - one good and one evil. The cast includes Nina Dobrev (Degrassi), Paul Wesley (Tommy on Everwood), and Ian Somerhalder (Boone from Lost). Early reviews have rated this at both ends of the spectrum, so I'll probably check it out online. (premieres Sept. 10)

Supernatural: Some day, I'll lock myself in a room with these DVDs and not come out until I'm done. Until then, happy to see it coming back for another season. (premieres Sept. 10)

FX

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: I always forget about this show, but it's already going into the 5th season. Fans of the show are in love with it, but I still haven't caught up. That may have to wait until next summer. (premieres Sept. 17)