October 29, 2009

words from SutterInk

As you've no doubt surmised, I don't always excel at expressing my thoughts on the subject of this blog. So, I love when someone else can do a much better job of writing what I'm thinking. Kurt Sutter is the executive producer of Sons of Anarchy on FX- an excellent show that's finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. Kurt also writes a blog called SutterInk.

He recently posted some thoughts about NBC's choice to move Jay to the 10pm slot, thereby crippling the network's ability to produce quality one-hour dramas. It's exactly what I hoped to express on this issue, but I'm infinitely less cool. Here's an excerpt:

But my beef -- and I think this is true for a good chunk of the creative community -- was never with Jay. Leno's an artist looking for a good gig like the rest of us. The truth is, NBC should have NEVER bumped him out of the 11:30 spot. No one bumped out Carson. Why Jay? His ratings were solid, he had a loyal following and he was constantly doing what he could to keep his show fresh -- dude is one of the hardest working cats in town. And it's obvious Conan's "younger" humor works way better in the later hour. The bigger concern is the potential dangerous trend that NBC is setting by putting Jay in the 10 pm spot. As Peter Tolan said, "...NBC is raising the white flag", essentially giving up on scripted dramas. And why is that? For all the reason I've mentioned in the previous blog -- to succeed in dramas you need employees who are intelligent, patient and creatively nurturing. Instead of fixing their system, NBC is creating a new one. An easier one. A cheaper one. One that doesn't demand talent. One that can be run by suit-monkeys and accountants. That's the core fear we are all experiencing. We realize that public consumption is changing. We are the ones who created Jon and Kate, TMZ and the gangsta paparazzi. We are the ones veraciously consuming rag-mags and reality TV. Losing five hours of episodic television is the result of that trend. And we all know it ain't going away. It's growing.

You can read the entire post here.

October 28, 2009

modern couple

These two are my new favorite TV pair. Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson play a couple who have just adopted a baby daughter on Modern Family. I've had my eye on Ferguson for a while. His background is in theater, including an originating role in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". Then, he popped up in a couple failed sitcoms, but I loved his roles. So glad he found this spot on Modern Family, which has been so funny, particularly due to his scenes with Eric Stonestreet. Stonestreet consistently steals the show - playing so well off of Ferguson's "straight" guy. Their talking head interviews are hilarious.

Here's a short AP interview with the two actors. I particularly like how Stonestreet explains that these characters are first and foremost an awkward couple trying to figure out parenthood - the fact that they're gay is secondary (although, there's no getting around it with Stonestreet's Cameron). There are also fun surprises like that fact that Cam played starting center for a Big 10 football team.

Just for fun, here's my favorite scene from the pilot. If you're not already watching, give this show a chance. Here's my best evidence.

October 27, 2009

shameless love: martha plimpton

I feel like Martha Plimpton's name has been buzzing in my ear lately. She will of course always have a special place in my heart as Stef the Goonie. I always saw myself as more of the sarcastic "best friend" character in the movie of my imagination, so I just loved Stef (plus I totally wanted to kiss Mouth).

Stef: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, stop, stop! You can't do this.
Data: Why?
Mikey: Why?
Stef: Because these are somebody else's wishes. They're somebody else's dreams.
Mouth: Yeah, but you know what? This one, this one right here. This was my dream, my wish. And it didn't come true. So I'm taking it back. I'm taking them all back.

She was also great as Julie in the Parenthood movie. I learned so many things from that movie... most of which my parents would probably have preferred happen a bit later. She was the first onscreen damsel to show me that taking naked pictures is NEVER a good idea. People will find them, probably your mom. She was also in one of my favorite movies of all time - Beautiful Girls - playing Paul's jaded girlfriend Jan. That scene with Paul tearfully plowing her driveway gets me every time.

Paul: Willie C.! What's up bad boy!
Willie: Paulie!
Paul: You remember Elle MacPherson? (a dog)
Willie: Hey Elle! How you doing?
Paul: Jan's banging some meat cutter.

Paul: What kind of future can she have with this guy, he cuts meat.
Tommy: You plow snow.
Kev: Hey, at least meat you can eat.

Martha's recent insurgence into my life was through two memorable guest spots: Grey's Anatomy and The Good Wife. I watch a fair amount of medical and crime shows that have an endless parade of big and little guest roles - patients, criminals, victims, etc. Grey's Anatomy tends to write patient stories particularly well, and Martha's role in the 2-part season opener was no exception. She played over-protective-mom among the grieving Seattle Grace amazingly well. It was great to be reminded of her talent.

So, it was a nice surprise to see her again on last week's The Good Wife. I'm liking this show more and more, by the way. It has heart and good storytelling (though the cases are a little cliched). Martha came in to play super tough (and hugely pregnant) opposing counsel for a mega powerful train company. We see a lot of scary fembot defense attorneys on legal shows, but this character had a fun spark. I would love to see her come back regularly.

These days it looks like Martha's spending most of her time doing prominent stage work, but I would strongly encourage her to think about a full time small screen gig!

P.S. Did you know that she's Keith Carradine's daughter? Being a Carradine somehow makes you automatically cooler.

October 26, 2009

two weeks of madness

"The Color Blue"

"How do I know what I see is blue is the same as it is to you?" 8-year-old named Charlie

This was definitely an episode about seeing the same color in different ways. Don and Betty's life together. Sterling and Cooper's aging agency. Peggy and Paul's Western Union assignment. Pryce and his wife on life in NYC.

But first...Betty opened the drawer! She opened it! The smile on her face when she realized the found keys were for the secret drawer was absolutely priceless. Her world is turned upside down. This is a serious fracture to the shell of the show. Let's face it, when Betty met and married Don, she was too selfish and wrapped up in his charm to care about knowing his past. It wasn't until she was settled in an unsatisfying life that she started to resent his secrets, and even then, it was more about the infidelity, which threatened her place on the pedestal. This is not to say poor Betty isn't a victim here. God knows what she is thinking after seeing those photos. Did he have a second family? Was he a bigamist? And the fact that she could look that good at the anniversary dinner after waiting up for him all night in the kitchen beside the box? Damn girl. How long can she keep this in and how will she use this information? As motivation to pursue a relationship with Henry perhaps?

In other news, Don is still all over the teacher, whose brother has epilepsy. I find Don's connection with him really interesting. Here's a guy who's trapped by an abusive disease, but he can't escape it and change his life the way Don did. He has to live with it. Don dropped him off and said "I swore to myself I would do this right someday." What did this mean? Was he giving this guy a chance like Dick Whitman had? Helping out the teacher after wronging so many women? Was he thinking of his little brother? I haven't figured that one out yet.

Back at the office, it's Sterling Cooper's 40th anniversary, and we learn that the agency is on the seller's block. What does that mean for Don's contract, which is now official? On the creative team, Peggy had a chance to shine with her quick thinking, and Paul is questioning his talent.

A few things...
  • Peggy burped into her recording device. "Sorry about that Olive."
  • Who the heck decided it was a good idea to keep the John Deer Assassin on staff?
  • Who was the prank caller? I think the teacher? Or maybe a mystery stalker?
  • "They're all expecting me to show up with the glamorous, elegant, stunning Betty Draper. I want to show you off Bets." Don, you don't even know.
  • Peggy and Don's identical reaction to Paul forgetting his idea. "I hate when that happens." Those two are so oddly cut from the same cloth.

"The Gypsy and the Hobo"

I won't pretend to care about anything else in this episode besides JOANIE HITTING HER HUSBAND UPSIDE THE HEAD WITH A VASE OF FLOWERS. Apologies for the caps, it was required. This woman is truly amazing (glad Sterling remembers that). Greg is a dumbass - and even more of a dumbass for joining the Army without telling her - but he does love her, and I truly believe he wants to make her proud. It's just too bad she needs to mother him like a small, whiny child. Please, please bring her back to Sterling Cooper, so she can go back to keeping the other whiny children in line. (Great interview with Christina Hendricks about the vase scene)

It broke my heart when Greg said "You don't know what's it like to want something your whole life and not get it." The man doesn't know his wife at all.

Ok, I'll admit that Betty and Don are worth mentioning. I've been thinking about how this scene would unfold since season one. You knew Betty would find out sooner or later. I have a love/hate relationship with Betty, but this episode was all about the love. I was expecting a tantrum, but she actually handled Don very well. She saw him literally fall apart before her eyes when he realized he secret was out, and by golly, she actually felt compassion for him. Those few moments with Don struggling to light a cigarette and hold back his fear were amazingly played by Jon Hamm (Emmy submission please). I honestly think Betty was relieved to finally "meet" Don, and also to feel like she was no longer partnered with this unbreakable man.

Betty had a really good point when she told Don she could have had a locksmith break open that drawer long ago. She had been afraid. Finally opening the drawer and confronting Don was actually a huge moment of growth for Betty. I was almost surprised to see her first emotion wasn't anger, but a feeling of hurt that Don didn't feel like he could tell her anything about his past.

Some of the lines from Don were truly heartbreaking:
"I was surprised that you ever loved me. "
"He came to me and I turned him away. He didn't even want help, he just wanted to be part of my life. And I couldn't risk all of this. He killed himself."

As for the teacher, is it bad that I found it a little hilarious that she got left in the car? Sorry, Suzanne. It's the big leagues in that house. You have no idea. I'm ready to be done with her, but I have a feeling Don isn't.

I'm skipping over Annabelle Mathis the horse slaughterer. Although I'm starting to like what they're doing with Sterling this season (in terms of his attitudes about his position in the firm), that story completely bored me.

And how about that spooky scene at the end? And who are you supposed to be? Yikes.

October 16, 2009

tgif: 10 things before i leave on a jet plane

It's been way too long since I've done a TGIF top 10 list. Sadly, this will not redeem me. I'm about to leave for 10 days to a place with not internet access (gasp). My blog is weeping, my DVR is full on sobbing, but something tells me you all are a-okay. We'll make it.

Before I go, here are ten random TV related tidbits from this week and next to hold you over until I return (Can we think about a synonym for "random"? If a word could be played out, this would be the one).

10 Things Before I Leave on a Jet Plane
  1. This interview with Lauren Graham.

  2. I better see either Sal or Joanie on my DVR when I return or someone's going in timeout.

  3. Disappointed with How I Met Your Mother for the first time this week. I just thought that "couple friends" storyline was silly and pointless.

  4. Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester on Glee is my hero of the week.

  5. Jon & Kate Plus 8 is officially going away. Apparently, Jon broke the douchebag clause in his contract.

  6. Take another look at Parks & Recreation. They've made a few improvements this season and Aziz Ansari is totally cracking me up.

  7. I've lost track of Project Runway. There's too much going on Thursday nights, and Lifetime needs to run repeats as consistently as Bravo. On a related note, Rachel Zoe is my most surprising new small screen friend.

  8. I heard a rumor that Wicked's "Defying Gravity" will be involved in the Nov. 11th episode of Glee, and my heart literally sang.

  9. Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss (Peggy) will guest on Mercy's Nov. 4th episode. I'm embarrassingly surprised by how much I'm starting to like this show.

  10. Ugly Betty is finally back tonight with a 2-hour episode. Here's hoping they stay above water on Friday nights. I missed my Marc and Amanda!

October 14, 2009

eulogy: agent charlie francis

I just wanted to take a minute to eulogize a favorite character of mine, who officially passed off-screen last week. Agent Charlie Francis of FOX's Fringe played by the subtle, talented, and somehow charmingly haunting Kirk Acevedo.

Many of you probably recognize Kirk from mafia and/or cop roles in shows like Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Band of Brothers, and the short-lived Black Donnellys. He also had a great role as Miguel Alvarez in HBO's Oz and a sprinkling of solid movie roles over the years. I'm actually a big fan of his work (you know I'm a sucker for those strong, side characters), so I was psyched to see him cast in Fringe, a show I knew I would like from the beginning.

FBI Agent Charlie Francis was a good friend an confident to leading lady Olivia Dunham. He was basically the straight man in a group of semi-loony, semi-genius group investigating cases involving "fringe science" (teleportation, nano technology, etc.). While the show worked out some kinks in the first season, last season's finale and the first few weeks of this season have been phenomenal (watch this show!). They've found a great balance between complex mystery sci-fi storyline and interesting procedural crime solving.

So, imagine my disappointment when I heard Kirk was let go from the show over the summer. Even worse, Charlie Francis had an unfortunately unceremonious demise. In a nut shell, a shape-shifting soldier from a parallel universe took over Charlie's physical identity, and then shoved the real Charlie into a furnace. Goodbye Agent Francis. Then we had bizarro Charlie running around for a few episodes as a bad guy. Finally, Olivia figured it out and essentially had to shoot her own best friend. Devastating.

I was hoping for a much juicier and longer demise for Charlie and for Kirk. If their reasons for letting Kirk go were creative, I can't say that I see the evidence. Frankly, there's a hole in Olivia's personal life now that she doesn't have this dependable friend and ally. They did bring on a new female agent, but so far, she's brought nothing to the table, and I'm not impressed with the actress.

In conclusion, sorry to see Charlie go. Someone hire Kirk.

Fun sidenote: Both Charlie and Kirk are married to Alex from Saved by the Bell: The College Years (Kirk's real-life wife Kiersten Warren played his wife on the show). How cute is she?

October 13, 2009

spies and parades

Two little bits circling the TV rumor mill today...

First, with the recent news of Southland's untimely demise and the semi-expected cancellation of Trauma, rumors are hopping around that NBC will fill the hole with none other than our favorite spy, Chuck Bartowski. Chuck would fill its previous 8:00 Monday timeslot (Heroes would move to 9:00) as soon as the end of October.

One one hand, I'd love to see Chuck again so soon. Waiting until spring seems so, so long and maybe this would give them an opportunity to produce more than the current 13-episode order. On the other hand, NBC has had zero time to promote the show, so they would be starting the race with a couple of crutches and an eye patch. Maybe it's better to wait until post Olympics? That's assuming NBC gets their act together and promotes the pants off of it. I'm thinking Chuck and Casey in some sort of pair figure skating competition.

Number two. E! Online's Watch with Kristin is reporting that the Glee kids were bumped from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For shame! Apparently, Macy's asked the Glee cast (because they're amazing and talented and wonderful) without NBC's permission. Understandably, NBC has a policy of not promoting stars from competing network programs, but I'm thinking they're just a little jealous of the show's enormous success. What, no one wants the Heroes on a float this year? Can't we get this parade syndicated or something? I would love to see those Glee kids singing down the street!

That's all I got.

October 10, 2009

new show reviews: mercy & trauma

Sometimes my TV schedule happens by natural selection. I program a bunch of series recordings at the beginning of the season, some are old standbys, others are new shows that seem promising. Among the news shows, many are watched right away, others linger in the DVR for a while.

Right now, I have three episodes of Mercy and two of Trauma lingering. I haven't decided if I'm interested in another medical drama. Trauma and Mercy are two of only three new shows for NBC this season (not counting Jay Leno). The only two new dramas for the network that brought us The West Wing, ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue... they have to be good right?

Up against Dancing with the Stars and Two and a Half Men, Trauma is struggling in the ratings. But as we know, bad ratings don't always equal bad show. Trauma has all the makings of successful shows we've seen in the past - gory medical cases, attractive docs and EMTs, stuff blowing up. But is that enough?

The pilot introduces us to a team first responders in San Francisco, including EMT partners Nancy (Anastasia Griffith) and Terry (Ryan Kennedy), who are getting busy in the back of the ambulance. This seems unprofessional. Also, partners Boone (Derek Luke) and Briggs (Kevin Rankin). Then, we have cocky helicopter rescuer Reuben or "Rabbit" (Cliff Curtis) and ER doctor Saviano (Jamey Sheriden, who I recognize from Law & Order: CI).

The fun begins during the first rescue scene on the roof of building where the two EMT teams have just put a critical victim onto Rabbit's helicopter, and Terry hopped in to help him. Rabbit then crashes with another helicopter subsequently tearing up the top floors of the building. Great special effects, and we learn that all the actors can scream.

Turns out, this was a flashback. In present day, that accident happened one year ago exactly and seven people died, including Terry. There's a new helicopter pilot partnering with Rabbit, Marisa Benez (Aimee Garcia) who's just back from Iraq. The first anniversary involves a multi-car crash and explosion caused by a texting driver (don't text and drive, kids), and we see the crash is still affecting the crew, all manifesting in different ways. Boone is cheating around on his wife, Nancy is shutdown, and Rabbit believes he can't die, which incidentally is not a healthy attitude.

In the second episode, we learn Nancy's new partner is cute newbie Glenn (Taylor Kinney), and Marisa is not into the "people" part of the job. She's a copter pilot and wants to steer clear of everything else in her post-war career. Boone is in couples counseling with his wife.

Cases support character development and filter throughout the episode in a similar style to ER. The writing of the cases is strong, the acting is not bad, but I don't find myself attached to any of the characters. It looks like Nancy, Boone and Rabbit are the semi-leads. I didn't find them very memorable, although Rabbit has potential.

Overall, the second episode was better than the pilot, which is a good sign because that's more indicative of the formula we can expect. It's essentially a procedural with good special effects, but I'm not craving more. I'll probably watch another episode or two, but I don't think this one will earn it's place in natural selection.

Mercy is right in the middle of the ratings pack at 8:00 on Wednesdays, which is a pretty light timeslot. The show is aiming for a unique look at the medical drama by focusing on the nurses. Right off the bat, the show is much more character-driven than I expected. Here they are:

Veronica or Ronnie (Taylor Schilling) is the main character. She's a former military nurse with a hefty case of PTSD from Iraq. She's currently living with semi-functionally alcoholic parents (played by talented TV vets Kate Mulgrew and Peter Gerety) and has three pesky and rambunctious full-grown brothers. Her husband/high school sweetheart Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) slept around while she at war, but now wants her back. He's a nice working class guy, felt abandoned by her leaving, worships her, etc. She agrees to give their marriage another try just before Dr. Sands shows up at the hospital.

Dr. Sands (James Tupper of Men In Trees) has arrived at Mercy Hospital in Newark, New Jersey with the intention of winning the love of Ronnie, with whom he had a relationship in Iraq. He's brooding and heroic and gets Ronnie's panties in a bunch, but not enough to pull her away from her recommitment to her husband. The catch is, Dr. Sands signed a two-year contract, so he's not leaving and not giving up. Love triangles give me anxiety, so I don't love this plotline at all. However, a pretty hilarious tirade about being stuck in awful New Jersey was enough to make me like him a little. Sorry Jersey, but it was funny.

Sonia (Jaime Lee Kirchner) is a gorgeous nurse, who's also Ronnie's best friend. She's gets a lot of attention from the boys, but is reluctantly getting involved with a detective who frequents the hospital. Her character is really likable and she's not a vaudevillian best friend figure, which is always good to see. She has her fair share of drama as well, including a gang member drug dealing brother who shows up at her apartment for stitches after he's been shot.

Chloe (Michelle Trachenberg) is the bright eyed and bushy tailed new nurse . Chloe is bugging the crap out of me. Her sweet persona is over-the-top and the crying is not believable. Shockingly, the little innocent thing isn't taking too well to the big, scary hospital, but the other nurses seem to give her sympathy and ridicule in equal parts. In the second episode, we start to see Trachenberg coming into her own a little, and the character becomes more believable.

Other more minor characters include, head nurse Klowden (Margo Martindale), the fairly funny boy of the group, nurse Angel (Guillermo Diaz), asshole nurse-underappreciator Dr. Harris (James LeGros), and nicer Dr. Parks (Delroy Lindo). There have been a few other docs as well, but not sure who's sticking around on a recurring basis.

I've heard on good authority (my mom) that the show doesn't depict nurses well or accurately, and I believe it. If you take that away (which is supposed to be the point of the show), there are some pretty good stories told in the hospital - not quote ER or Grey's Anatomy caliber, but there's potential. We see much more of the nurses dealing with the emotional side of the patients then actually seeing them in action, which is a little disappointing. The treatment from the doctors is seems a bit cliched. I wouldn't mind seeing a fuller picture of that dynamic with more emphasis on how the nurses keep the place running.

In terms of the characters' personal stories, as I said, there's a lot more than I expected. Ronnie's family brings a little humor and New Jersey color to the story, which is fun.

Bottom line: I was all ready to hate this show, and I didn't. But if it turns into the "Ronnie and Dr. Sands will-they-or-won't-they hour," I'm taking the next train out of Newark.

Quick sidenote, Trauma and Mercy each have a full 30-second intro complete with cast credits. You don't see that very often on network television anymore. Old school. Trauma's is melodramatic and Mercy's seems to belong on a 1990s sitcom.

October 9, 2009

sad news for southland

Jay Leno strikes again. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that NBC just cancelled Southland before the second season's scheduled premiere on October 23rd.

Apparently, the network shut down production because the show is "too gritty" for the 9pm audience. But Law & Order: Rapes & Perverts is okay? How about regular Law & Order, which is on at 8:00? My two-year old niece is still awake for that.

NBC made their bed, and now they have to lie in it. This is probably the most visible interruption we've seen by The Jay Leno Show taking over the entire 10:00 timeslot.They just don't have the program space for quality dramas anymore. But they do have space to put out two new mediocre medical dramas (more Mercy and Trauma soon).

It's a shame because Southland is probably the returning show that people have been asking me about most often lately. It wasn't perfect, but I thought Regina King, Ben Mackenzie, and especially Michael Cudlitz as the closeted cop had great performances. (see my review from back in June)
NBC promoted that bad boy like crazy last spring, and they had a fairly strong audience (around 6 million). But it all comes down to ratings. Leno brings in much higher numbers.

NBC will be pushing up Dateline to fill the timeslot for now. So exciting. In the meantime, producer John Wells (who was responsible for such gems as ER and The West Wing) is said to be shopping Southland around to other networks. They have 6 new episodes already in the can. Personally, I could see the show doing really well on TNT, which has been cornering the market on gritty crime-related dramas lately.

Are you sad about Southland or content with what's already on the schedule this fall?

October 6, 2009

lauren back in our lives?

It's a bittersweet circumstance, but Michael Ausiello is reporting that we may see the lovely Lauren Graham back on the small screen as early as this spring. You probably heard about the delay of ABC series Parenthood after Maura Tierney dropped out of the project due to health problems. Super sad for Maura, but I'm sure she'll be back healthy and on to another great show in no time. For a while, there were rumors that Helen Hunt was going to take the role, which I didn't mind, but those negotiations apparently fell through.

So, Lorelei is in the running. What do you think? I haven't seen the pilot yet, but I've heard good things. If you live in a hole, the series in based on the early 1989 movie of the same title starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Rick Moranis, Keanu Reeves, Martha Plimpton and others. Lauren would play the part originated by Diane Wiest - struggling single mom Sarah. The new cast includes Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson, Monica Potter and Dax Shepherd.

I would love to see Lauren in this cast! What are the chances Luke will pour her coffee? Just once. Please.

Sending healthy thoughts to Maura Tierney...

October 4, 2009

mad men: souvenir

Just a few thoughts on this week's episode of Mad Men, called "Souvenir". Why did I not write about the great John Deer massacre of 1963? Some things are just better left on the screen. This week was a little different, a lot of Drapers and Campbells but not much agency or Peggy.

A few good moments:
  • Betty's Cadillac kiss. At first, I verbally scolded Mrs. Draper. But upon further reflection, I saw that she was acting out of boredom and frustration. Sadly, a trip to Rome only deepened these feelings. I'm hoping we've seen the end of that guy though. Another smooth talking charmer isn't going to give Betty what she needs.

  • Betty and Don playing strangers in Rome. How cute was that? (But that hair? Highly unfortunate.)

  • Connie Hilton. He is charmingly quirky.

As always, a few disturbing moments:

  • Pete taking advantage of the poor nanny next door. Pete, Pete. No. But it's amazing how he can do such a slimy thing, but we're left with more pity for him than anything else. How bizarre was that scene with the father coming over to warn him off the nanny? Pete, you are not one of those guys. You never will be.

  • Poor Trudy reading what happened all over Pete's face. She just took it. And then made a fruit salad for dessert. These women are hard to watch sometimes.

  • Joanie the shopgirl? Oh no.

Not a ton of plot movement overall following the action-packed previous two episodes, but we did get a giant dose of the Draper psyche. I think Don honestly has guilt that Betty feels trapped and unfulfilled in her life. What's ironic is, he's paralyzed to help her. They've created the life that both thought they wanted, but they're left practically strangers in that life.

Next week, we can expect to see more of Sal in the office. And Betty plans a fundraiser. Why do I have a feeling these means more Cadillac guy?

October 3, 2009

my lucky has returned

Like most teens, I went through a soap opera phase. My drink of choice was General Hospital with a small splash of Days of Our Lives. My GH days started around when Jagger and Karen were hot and heavy, Dominque died leaving poor Scottie alone, Jason was the original pre-brain damage version, and Brenda Barrett ruled Sonny's heart. Anyone with me?

Most importantly, these were the days when Luke and Laura returned (the first time) with young son Lucky. I loved Lucky (played by cutiepatootie Jonathan Jackson). So it was not a coincidence that my viewing dwindled when Lucky was thought dead after a church fire only to return as a different actor. For shame! I didn't recover. My soap days were through. Plus, I got a license, and suddenly driving around with my friends was more appealing than going straight home after school. Why watch fake drama when you can create your own?

All this is to say, when I read the news that Jonathan Jackson has been re-recast as Lucky after 10 YEARS (I'm old), I contemplated making room in my DVR for a daily dose of GH once more. I may be wrong, but I think there have been two Luckys since Jonathan, and probably multiple near death experiences, wives, girlfriends, illegitimate children, mafia hits, evil twins, and organ donations. But with one or two episodes, I could be all caught up and back to eating Pringles and Poptarts with Lucky every day from now to eternity (or the next recast, which ever comes first).

The bizarre news that James Franco (yes, that James Franco) will be doing a stint on GH this fall is also quite intriguing. Apparently, he wants to cover all the career bases. He approached the producers personally, and they have a juicy storyline planned for him.

Is this enough to get me back on the soap train? Probably not. I have nothing but respect for this genre and the actors who have made it their home, but I just don't think I have the emotional energy (or the patience) for it these days. However, the minute I'm unceremoniously fired from the day job? Lucky, it's you and me kid.

October 2, 2009

lessons from letterman

By now, you've probably heard about Letterman's extortion case since Anderson Cooper and the gossip blogs are all over it. I was one of those schleps watching The Late Show last night innocently waiting for a top ten list when Dave started a story that took an unexpected turn. Like many in the audience, I thought the whole thing was a joke and continued shopping online for shoes with one eye on the television.

There's no denying it, Dave can tell a story - perhaps the best in the business at this particular skill. The story was actually really funny, recounting the discovery of a mysterious box in his car, which contained a note threatening to reveal the details of "creepy activities" from Dave's past. He talks about how the box scared him, so he called his attorney who agreed to meet with the guy to see if he was serious. From there, they went to the district attorney's office where they advised Dave to deliver a fake check to the guy (via his lawyer), so they could catch him in the act of blackmail.

Dave goes on to explain that he had just spent the morning testifying before a grand jury to recount the details of his creepy activities along with the blackmail story. The jury determined there was sufficient evidence to arrest the guy (the audience is still laughing). By this point, I literally thought the creepy activities would be going out to get the morning paper in his underwear. Or texting while driving.

Instead Dave said: "I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. Would it be embarrassing if this would be made public? Perhaps it would. Especially for the women."

Online shoe shopping officially halted.

This is a legit revelation/confession? Is this Dave's Mark Sanford moment? Did he have sexual relations with that woman? Why am I not embarrassed for him or angry at him? I'm mixed up and confused.

We've had our fair share of adultery confessions among public figures in recent years. Since the Clinton/Lewinsky incident, it's felt like a scandalous political waterfall... McGreevy, Spitzer, Craig, Edwards, Sanford... some broke actual laws, others just broke marital vows. Either way, the media is all over this stuff like white on rice. Sex sells. It's not for me to decide whether politicians should answer to the public for their personal (legal) indiscretions. On one hand, the voters have a right to know who they're electing to office. On the other hand, do their extracurriculars really affect their work in office? We could scurry around this argument for ages.

Now, David Letterman is not a politician. It's evident that he did something wrong, but he's only answerable to his family, the law, and possibly CBS if this affects the ratings. We don't know with whom or when these affairs took place (although, it's been reported that one of the women was the girlfriend of the blackmailer). Frankly, I think he gave all the information he needed to give. Here's the situation. I made some mistakes. The legal system is handling it.

Current and future public office philanderers (Sanford, I'm looking at you), take a page from the late night television host. The use of comedy might not be appropriate, but it is important to be yourself (for Dave, that meant using comedy). Don't insult your viewers or your constituents with some prepared (or unprepared) insulting ridiculousness. The truth is going to get out. This is the age of the 24-hour news cycle and Perez Hilton. You can't hide in a bathroom stall...in fact, you probably want to steer clear of those all together.

In particular, please finish it like Dave did: "I need to protect the people involved, I certainly need to protect my family, and I hope to protect my job." Enough said.

Click here if you want to watch the clip of Dave's story.

October 1, 2009

new show review: the forgotten

The Forgotten is a new crime procedural on ABC centered around a group of volunteer civilians called The Forgotten Network who investigate the cases of unidentified murder victims. The show had a late casting switch this summer resulting in Christian Slater as the lead. After his highly unfortunate failed series on NBC last season, My Own Worst Enemy, I know he's hoping this will be a more successful effort.

The pilot begins with Slater's character Alex, who we assume is a former cop, getting an assignment to investigate "Highway Jane" from an actual homicide detective named Grace (Rochelle Aytes). He transmits the message via text or email to the Network, which includes Candice the office worker (Michelle Borth), Lindsey the science teacher (Heather Stephens), Walter the phone company worker (Bob Stephenson), and Tyler the aspiring artist (Anthony Carrigan), who's joining the Network for the first time on a community service assignment after a graffiti arrest.

We learn that this is the Chicago-based midwest branch of a wider national Network, and they need to solve cases within 5 days of the police department giving up or the victim will be buried in Potter's field, and the case will be closed.

Naturally, everyone on the team has a role to play that's tied to their personality quirks. Alex is the mastermind. It's been a long time since I've watched Slater on a regular basis, so I need to get re-accustomed to his gravely whisper. From anyone else it would be annoying, but he gets a pass.

In the same vein as Angela on Bones, Tyler the artist is charged with recreating the victim through sculptures, which are creepily lifelike. He's your basic lost punk with a defensive edge. Nothing special in this performance. He looks like he's trying to do the Corey Feldman face. Walter the phone man might be my favorite just because he's unexpected. His role is sort of the grifter. He has an every man look plays the parts needed to find the right information...even though that mostly involves acting like a goof ball.

As for the ladies, Candice is all about the details and following the victim's story. She uses her all-American pretty girl charm to get what she needs. Her line delivery is a little too purposeful. Lindsey seems like the paper work and computer lady who searches data bases and follows more scientific leads. Lindsey seems the most invested besides Alex. She has some sort of past related to her husband.

The case leads them to track down the girl's name at a Goth club where she used to go. The search brings them to her apartment building where we meet none other than Brian Krakow (or I guess his real name is Devon Gummersall) who used to date her. But TV fans know we haven't found our guy. It's never the first suspect. The search eventually leads them to one of the victim's goth friends who killed her after learning she had been lying about who she really was.

In the end, we find out that Alex left the police force after his 8-year-old daughter who was kidnapped two years ago, which motivates his desire to find answers for these families.

The lighting and filming reminds me of a combination of what little I've seen of CSI (without the special effects) and Cold Case. They also do a camera trick similar to Cold Case where the victim appears in spots along their search. The closing sequence when the killer is caught is also really similar to Cold Case, which they probably should have tried harder to avoid seeing as the premise is almost identical. The victim narrates parts of the episode, which I could take or leave. Other than that, it's your typical single camera crime show with the suspenseful music.

My problem is, I've watched so many cop shows, I'm having a hard time imagining the cops never picked up on any of these clues or evidence. Are a group of civilians really better at this? They didn't have a sketch artist or interview the guy she was dating? Most of the leads they caught seemed a little far-fetched and lucky.

For me, a pilot needs to really grab my attention. For a show that is to be a crime procedural, the first case should blow you away. This one just didn't. I don't take that as a promising sign for episodes to come. Sometimes it's fun to watch mindlessly watch a mystery procedural, so I'll probably keep it on my DVR, but I didn't find anything particularly special about this one.

mad men on sesame street

Sesame Street is truly amazing.