December 23, 2009

american idol 2010 schedule

Since the last season of American Idol, I commenced an affair with my new love So You Think You Can Dance. Between the talent, entertainment, and host Cat Deeley, I don't think I'll even look at Idol the same way again. But don't worry, I'll be watching.

Fox just released this schedule for the 9th season. There a few changes this season.

Major change: Paula out, Ellen in. But Ellen won't be joining until Hollywood Week (when the real competition begins). Until that time, we'll have guest judges during the audition rounds, including Joe Jonas, Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS and KRISTIN CHENOWETH.

Minor change: Rather than last year's top 36 format - 3 random groups of 12 from which the top 12 were chosen - we're going back to the top 24 system with 2 groups: 12 girls and 12 guys. This tightens up the small stage portion a bit.

Here's the full schedule:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 12 (8:00-10:00 PM) Boston Auditions Episode
  • Wednesday, Jan. 13 (8:00-9:15 PM) Atlanta Auditions Episode
  • Tuesday, Jan. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM) Chicago Auditions Episode
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20 (8:00-9:00 PM) Orlando Auditions Episode
  • Tuesday, Jan. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM) Dallas Auditions Episode
  • Wednesday, Jan. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM) Los Angeles Auditions Episode
  • Tuesday, Feb. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM) Denver Auditions Episode
  • Wednesday, Feb. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM) “The Road to Hollywood” Auditions Episode
  • Tuesday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 1
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 2
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 3
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Hollywood Round, Part 4, Top 24 Announced
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Female Semifinalists Perform
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 12 Male Semifinalists Perform
  • Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM) First Results Show, Two Males and Two Females Eliminated
  • Tuesday, March 2 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Female Semifinalists Perform
  • Wednesday, March 3 (8:00-10:00 PM) Top 10 Male Semifinalists Perform
  • Thursday, March 4 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show, Two Males and Two Females Eliminated
  • Tuesday, March 9 (8:00-9:00 PM) Top 8 Female Semifinalists Perform
  • Wednesday, March 10 (9:00-10:00 PM) Top 8 Male Semifinalists Perform
  • Thursday, March 11 (8:00-9:00 PM) Results Show, Two Males and Two Females Eliminated; Finalists Revealed
  • Tuesday, March 16 (8:00-10:00 PM) Two Finalists Perform
  • Wednesday, March 17 (9:00-10:00 PM) Results Show, Winner Revealed

December 22, 2009

merry marathons

Variety just published a story conveniently listing marathons that different networks are running on Christmas. Here's a summary:

TBS: A Christmas Story
I have to admit, this is not my favorite Christmas movie. I don't even really like it. I've never understood the obsession. Give me It's a Wonderful Life any day.

FX: Night at the Museum
I caught this on an airplane once. It's certainly not a classic, but I understand it's a crowd pleaser.

Fox Movie Channel: Home Alone
Classic. Every family should watch every year.

AMC: White Christmas (eve), National Lampoon's Christmas (day)
This is a great combo. I have a huge soft spot for White Christmas. Watching at least twice every season is a requirement for me. It never gets old. And National Lampoon's is an obvious choice.

Spike TV: Bad Santa
On my list of the worst movies of all time. I don't understand the appeal.

A&E: Criminal Minds
Interesting choice. Ho ho ho.

MTV: Parental Control/Teen Mom combo
Very educational for families gathering for the holidays, I'm sure.

VHI: Celebrity Fit Club
Also educational? Umm.

December 21, 2009

new LOST trailer

Still no new footage, so don't fear spoilers. I still can't believe it's the last season. How will they possibly answers all of the questions? Who's excited?

December 20, 2009

top 2009 shows: throwing my hat into the ring

There are many lists of top shows of 2009 and top shows the decade floating around these days. I love to read them. You see many similarities among the lists - especially the critically acclaimed shows. But each list is a little different with outliers popping up to show us that each television viewer is unique.

I'm a little intimidated by the decade list, although I may try it. For now, here are my TWO top ten lists for scripted shows in 2009:

Top 10 Returning Shows of 2009
Here are my favorite scripted shows this year - not necessarily ranked as my all-time favorites, but these are the shows that made the most out of their seasons this year.
  1. Mad Men: An obvious choice for one of the most critically acclaimed shows in cable history. Personally, this show makes me think more than any other. Cliche, I know. But everything about it is smart, pretty, and fascinating.

  2. Chuck: This show just makes me laugh without fail, and I feel like the characters are my friends. So glad NBC is putting some effort into promoting season three.

  3. Lost: As the series winds to a close, season five was an awesome precursor to the final season.

  4. The Big Bang Theory: The characters of this show - most obviously Jim Parsons' Sheldon - made this comedy appointment television for me and welcomed sitcoms back into my life.

  5. How I Met Your Mother: I was a late bloomer among HIMYM fans, but now I'm along for the ride.

  6. House: Fans have had mixed emotions about casting decisions madeby House writers over the last couple of seasons, but fall 2009 brought possibly the best performances by Hugh Laurie to date.

  7. Dexter: Bringing in John Lithgow this season was a brilliant move for a game-changing shocker of a season.

  8. Greek: A little out-of-left-field, but Greek is easily the best teen/young audience show on television right now. I'm addicted.

  9. The Office: Admittedly, The Office is getting a little grey around the ears, but between Michael's lady troubles, the Pam/Jim wedding, and the rise of Andy Bernard, I still love it.

  10. The Mentalist: A new discovery for me in 2009. If I'm going to watch a crime procedural, this is the top choice. They kept it fun in 2009.
Top 10 New Shows of 2009
Scripted shows that premiered during the spring, summer or fall 2009 seasons.
  1. Modern Family: I've gone on about this show many times, so I'll just say thanks for the smart, family comedy that makes everyone feel a little less crazy.

  2. Parks & Recreation: 2009 started a little rough for Ms. Knope and friends, but subtle changes in the show have made it one of the funniest comedies.

  3. Glee: What can I say? There's nothing like it. I would watch all day.

  4. The Good Wife: Thanks for bringing a smart, interesting woman to network television.

  5. Castle: Richard Castle is one of the most refreshingly and effortlessly well-played characters on the networks these days.

  6. Community: Another show with a rocky start, but as the writers continue to bring out the best in these actors, the show gets more and more entertaining.

  7. The Vampire Diaries: I've never been on the vampire train, but this one's got me. It's a little silly in the grand tradition of WB/CW, but sometimes a little silly drama is just what you need.

  8. White Collar: As I've said before, Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay are a match made in heaven.

  9. Leverage: If you're a sucker for a good heist, this would be my #1 DVR-and-save-for-a-rainy-day recommendation for 2009.

  10. Better off Ted: I'll admit, the second season hasn't been that good for me so far, but I do think this show deserves a spot on the list. If only for Portia DeRossi's hilarious performances.

Enough superlatives and declarations for you?

Bonus List: 6 favorites that sadly met an untimely demise in 2009

  1. Pushing Daisies
  2. Eli Stone
  3. Samantha Who?
  4. The Unusuals
  5. Privileged
  6. Life

December 17, 2009


Thanks to The Live Feed for posting this first and drawing my attention to it. The CW has presented the following clip as their "OMG Moment of the Year." Please watch. I cannot stop laughing. I'll admit to watching One Tree Hill back in their high school days, but haven't seen it in years. Seriously, cannot stop laughing. Oh Chad Michael Murray.

December 16, 2009

2010 screen actors guild awards

This doesn't show much creativity on my part, but I may as well list the SAG award nominees while I'm at it. The SAGs are generally considered more prestigious among actors - for obvious reasons.

The cool thing about these awards - created solely for the recognition of the acting performances - is the ensemble cast awards. A complete show can deserve an award BECAUSE of a great ensemble cast, but the reverse is not always true. For example, I would argue that Dexter deserves recognition for a being a very high-quality show, but doesn't necessarily deserve the ensemble cast award. While there are great actors, it's essentially a one-man show. Meanwhile, Modern Family might not be an immediate pick for best all-around comedy, but the cast is nearly perfect working as an ensemble. Make sense?

The award ceremony will be broadcast on TBS and TNT on January 23rd. Here are the primetime television nominees with my favorites in bold. There are film categories as well, you can see the full list here.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Drama Series
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Charlie Sheen, Two And A Half Men

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Comedy Series
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Toni Collette, United States Of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures Of Old Christine

Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Drama Series
The Closer
The Good Wife
Mad Men
True Blood

Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series
30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
The Office

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Cuba Gooding, Jr., Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Jeremy Irons, Georgia O'keeffe
Kevin Kline, Great Performances: Cyrano De Bergerac
Tom Wilkinson, A Number

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Joan Allen , Georgia O'keeffe
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Ruby Dee, America
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers For Bobby

Fun fact: The great Betty White will be receiving a lifetime acheivement award.

December 15, 2009

2010 golden globe nominations

This morning, Justin Timberlake, Diane Kruger and John Krasinski announced the 2010 Golden Globe nominees. The ceremony will be hosted by Ricky Gervais on January 17th. The Golden Globes definitely are not the most serious/well-respected awards - some would say that all award programs are a joke. But this is my favorite awards ceremony to watch because of the mix of TV and film actors - it's always a fun atmosphere.

Here are the nominees in television categories with my picks (my favorites, not necessarily my predictions) in bold:

Best Television Series, Drama
Big Love
Mad Men (they won last year, so Dexter would be my second choice)
True Blood

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama
Glenn Close, Damages
January Jones, Mad Men (don't hate me, but I'm not on the January train this year)
Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife (one of my favorite characters this season)
Anna Paquin, True Blood (won last year)
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best Performance by a Television Actor, Drama
Simon Baker, The Mentalist (glad to see him nominated)
Michael C. Hall, Dexter (no major awards yet for this role, it is definitely time)
Jon Hamm, Mad Men (my second choice)
Hugh Laurie, House (love, but already won this award twice)
Bill Paxton, Big Love

Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical
30 Rock
Glee (love that they got a nomination!)
Modern Family (between the writing and the performances, this is the winner)
The Office

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Courteney Cox, Cougar Town (my best surprise of the season, glad she got a nod)
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Lea Michele, Glee (the girl gives me goosebumps every week)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
** Jim Parsons isn't on this list, so I'm boycotting a pick. Still love you Steve and Matthew.
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
David Duchovny, Californication
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Georgia O'Keefe
Grey Gardens
Into the Storm
Little Dorrit
Taking Chance

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Joan Allen, Georgia O'Keefe
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Anna Paquin, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind
Chiewetel Ejiofor, Endgame
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm
Jeremy Irons, Georgia O'Keefe

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Jane Adams, Hung
Rose Byrne, Damages
Jane Lynch, Glee (possibly the funniest woman on TV right now)
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Michael Emerson, Lost (he won the Emmy last year, so I'm willing to settle for the nod)
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother (please!)
William Hurt, Damages
John Lithgow, Dexter (definitely deserved this nomination)
Jeremy Piven, Entourage (would swap Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet for Piv this year)

A few highlights from the film categories:
  • Sandra Bullock was nominated for The Blind Side, the movie I most surprisingly enjoyed recently.
  • It seems like most of the nominees are films that have yet to come out or just did (Invictus, Brothers, A Single Man, etc.), but I guess that's how awards go.
  • Haven't seen it, but good to see Tobey Maguire score a nomination for his role in Brothers, but something tells me Morgan Freeman has this one in the bag.
  • Happy to see both The Hangover and (500) Days of Summer nominated - this is why I love the Golden Globes.
  • Meryl Streep earned two nominations in the same category for Julie & Julia and It's Complicated. She also earned two nominations last year for Doubt and Mamma Mia (but didn't win).
  • Hate to say it, but I don't agree with Matt Damon's nomination for The Informant. I thought that movie was awful. My vote goes to Robert Downey Jr. in this category.
  • Go see animated film nominee Fantastic Mr. Fox. It's a great film.
  • I think I really need to see Nine, Precious, Invictus and A Single Man.

December 14, 2009

blog recommendation: the futon critic

I don't often write about television pilots and pilot projects, mostly because so many don't make it to air (think the number of college football players versus the number of guys who make it to the NFL). Every once in a while, I see some exciting casting or an interesting premise that I'll write about, but since most pilots are kept under lock and key among industry insiders until they're close to getting a pick up, it's hard to share too much detail with you all.

That's why it's great to have so many talented and thorough TV bloggers and critics out there. Today, I'm highlighting The Futon Critic, who just finished reviewing 30 pilots in 30 days, an ambitious feat that was completed this past weekend (click on the "Rant " entries labeled "First Look"). If you're interested in learning which pilots did NOT make the cut for the 2009-2010 television season, definitely check out this list. I find it really fascinating - considering some of the flops this fall season, it seems a shame that some if these will never see the light of day.

Here's how The Futon Critic describes the list:

So you've seen all of the new shows this fall - but what about the ones that didn't make the cut? For the next 30 days we're going to take a "first look" at a collection of 30 pilots that didn't land on the 2009-10 season schedule. Are there any gems that got passed over or are they all deservedly locked in the networks' vaults? Stay tuned.

A few of the passed-up pilots that most intrigued me:
  • House Rules (CBS) about a freshman class of elected representatives in DC. The cast included Zoe McLellan from Dirty Sexy Money and Anna Chulmsky from My Girl, and Debra Monk (O'Malley mom from Grey's) as Speaker of the House. I'm a sucker for a political drama, especially in my city, although it looks like this one didn't really make it in the "realistic" department.
  • Back (CBS) about a man who is believed dead after September 11th, but returns home after 8 years. Only he think it's still September 11, 2001 and hasn't aged a bit. This one starred Skeet Ulrich, his wife played by Sherry Stringfield (ER) and her new husband played by John C. McGinley (Scrubs). The premise is spooky - and maybe too sensitive for 9/11 victim families? - but I liked that it's different from your run-of-the-mill detective drama.
  • Inside the Box (ABC) about the behind-the-scenes of a fictional cable news network. This one just reminds me of Sports Night, so I'm inclined to be sad we didn't get a chance to see it. Also, the cast included Sarah Drew (Everwood), who's one of my favorite young actresses. Someone get this girl a steady job!
  • Limelight (ABC) about a freshman class and teachers at a performing arts school. This is the kind of show I would have liked even if it was bad.
Check it out if you have some time for fun reading over the holidays, and add some of your favorites in comments.

If you have even more time, here's an entire list of all "First Look" reviews by The Futon Critic through the years. This includes pilots that didn't make it as well as those that became successful series.

Also, somehow my list of links disappeared from the right column of the blog. Over the next couple of days, I'll be creating a new list, which includes some of my favorite TV blogs. Check back soon!

December 13, 2009

oxfam america unwrapped

I interrupt my little land of television gluttony to deliver a holiday message.

If you're like me, Christmas shopping is painful and scary. If you're looking for something different that will inspire your gift recipients and benefit a truly important cause, check out Oxfam America Unwrapped.

Here are a couple of videos for more information about the gifts and who they benefit.


December 11, 2009

friday's bad and good

Bad news:

We'd rumors about this for months, but it looks like Flight of the Conchords is officially ending after two successful seasons on HBO. I was a fan of this show from the start - and even got to see them live, which was awesome. But I'll admit that I'm not devastated about the show's ending. The finale of season two seemed like a natural conclusion, and while I will miss it, the duo has not broken up, so I'm sure we'll still see them around. I'm glad they successfully put something really offbeat on television and got some good exposure. Going out on a strong note too - after two Emmy nominations last season.

Murray, I'll miss you most of all.

Good news:

According to Ausiello Files, Scott Patterson will be joining 90210 to play Liam's dad. Patterson, of course always known as Luke from Gilmore Girls, will appear in at least two episodes. Guess that means I need to get cracking on the 9 episodes of 90210 lingering on my DVR. I always guiltily enjoy the show when I get into it, but can't say it's a priority. I did watch the first few episodes of this season, and you could definitely sense they had upped their game in the drama department. Here's hoping Patterson has a good role to play around with.

December 10, 2009

shameless love: idina menzel

This news from The Hollywood Reporter definitely calls for a shameless love post. If you want to avoid a slight Glee spoiler, don't read on...

The lovely and talented Broadway icon Idina Menzel has been cast in a recurring role for the spring season of Glee! She'll be playing the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, McKinley's most threatening rival. It's likely she will appear in all nine remaining episodes!

Though I've never had the chance to see her on stage, I've loved Idina since I first got my hands on a RENT soundtrack back in high school. Now, I have every word of Wicked memorized - Elphaba is one of my favorite characters of all time.

Can't wait to see her alongside the Glee kids! Look at this lady...I mean, come on.

December 9, 2009

chuck preview!

NBC just posted this 6 MINUTE Chuck preview with interviews...

can't wait for January 10th!

December 7, 2009

new show review: men of a certain age

TNT's new drama (dramedy?) Men of a Certain Age premiered last night to the tune of 5.4 million viewers - quite a decent run for a cable net. And most of the critics have good things to say. I've been looking forward to this new show for a while - good timing for something new as we enter the winter hiatus. And I'm a sucker for those extended promos they've been showing at movie theatres. The big screen gets me every time. Let's get to it.

Starting with the cast, which is basically a television dream team - a collection of veterans from a line of ultra-successful shows. First, Ray Romano as Joe, the lonely, separated father of two teenagers, who's living in a hotel and has a gambling problem. Scott Bakula as Terry, the chick-magnet unemployed actor. And Andre Braugher as Owen, the bitter, but happily married father of three young ones.

The three went to college together and are now settling or unsettling into their late 40s. We first meet them on the way to take a morning hike together - a daily ritual. Joe hits a possum in the road and struggles to decide whether to take him to the vet. Instead, he runs over the animal twice more to put him out of his misery. Low and behold, the possum gets up an walks away. I've never trusted possums.

Throughout the day, we learn about each of the guy's day jobs:

Owen is a frustratingly underachieving car salesman. He works for his unsupportive father, who picks this day to tell Owen that he's an embarrassment, and he will not be passing management of the business over to him - one of his reasons being Owen's need to self-administer diabetic insulin shots during the work day. Truly heartbreaking scene.

Joe owns and operates a party supply store where he has a practice golf course set up in the back room. He did a couple rounds on the "mini tour" trying for professional golf back in the day. We also learn that debts from his gambling problem are owed. Although it's hitting all of them, Joe has the most outwardly obvious midlife crisis going on. He measures the amount of weight he loses when he pees (record is 2.5) and stresses over not being able to read the ketchup bottle label, among other things.

Terry is temping at an office where he shows up at 12:30 and refuses to own a cell phone. "Those things are just a phase." It's obvious Terry gets by on cool. But cool doesn't do much for him when he shows up at a "cattle call" for a Lifetime movie role, obviously frustrated and confused about where his career has gone. He's befriended the local young barista Annie, played by Carla Gallo, who you'll recognize from shows like Mad Men and Bones. Looks like we'll be seeing more of her.

[Sidenote: Just saw a preview for Southland premiering on TNT on January 12th. So glad the show found a home on this network! Seems like a perfect fit.]

On the next morning's hike, Owen has a diabetic seizure and collapses. The boys rush him to the hospital, but not before failing to belt him in, which results in a nose breaking against the dashboard. The boys chose not to tell Owen that detail, but are utterly incapable of telling a coherent lie. I found that scene pretty hilarious (and realistic).

The episode ends on a sad note for Joe. Feeling guilty for lying about Owen's nose, Joe calls his wife to tell her what happened. He asks her what to do and slips in that he's quit gambling. It's obvious that she's tired of it. Later, he meets a debt collector outside of the store to pay some gambling fees. With a full envelop in his pocket, Joe claims he doesn't have the money. After realizing the collector won't be getting violent, Joe produces the money. I think maybe he wanted to be punished thinking this would discourage the habit? In the words of the unscary collector, "You're a little weird Joe."

Owen's ending is a bit more hopeful. After a talking-to from his wife, Owen realizes he can't quit his job while supporting three young children. He returns to work with an renewed determination and literally pushes down the competition. Owen might be my favorite.

In the end, Joe asks the unscary debt collector to help him "take care" of the possum. They find him dead, and Joe builds him a little grave. Gotta love when the story comes full circle.

It's obvious this pilot was all about introducing us to the characters and setting the stage for our window into this difficult stage of their lives. I need to watch a few more episodes to get comfortable with them, but I like what I'm seeing so far. This is a refreshing change from the typical aging sitcom dad (sorry Ray) that we've seen over and over. It's a dark show, but I did laugh out loud a few times. I know there's a lot more to be said about each of their journeys, but I'll keep it here for now. If you didn't see it, check out a rerun on TNT this week and let me know what you think!

Favorite lines:

Joe: Saw my ass in the mirror the other day.
Terry: Yea, how was it?
Joe: Not good. Got like an extra crease where there wasn't one.

P.S. Is Ken Jeong is everything now?

December 5, 2009

fall finale: flashforward

Like many Lost fans, I was really excited about FlashForward, but also trying not to rely on the comparison. Afterall, Lost took a while to develop, and FlashForward should be given the same space. After three episodes, I stopped watching FlashForward live and the episodes began to pile up in my DVR. Seven weeks later, it was fall finale time, and I needed to catch up, which is what I did over the past few days.

The fact that I quit watching was a bad sign, but I actually think watching the episodes straight through made them more enjoyable. FlashForward is certainly not what I hoped it would be - many seem to agree given the weak ratings - but there is some significant potential in many aspects of the show. In order to make it a little easier to recap my thoughts on the fall season, I'll go through the different characters/character groups:

Mark Benford: Mark is the hero. And here is where I think the primary problem with FlashForward lies. Although it is an ensemble cast, a show like this does still rely heavily on the hero. If nobody liked Jack Shepherd, Lost would never have made it. The central idea of Jack as the hero was essential to the heart of the show at the beginning and worked to maintain a loyal audience. Joseph Fiennes is a very talented actor - he plays the intensity and the strife very well - but something is missing from the character emotionally, and he is not connecting with the audience. He does play the heroic leader - perhaps displayed most prominently in the fall finale scenes in Hong Kong - but as a viewer, I don't find myself rooting for him. This is a problem.

Demitri: For me, John Cho is the most pleasant surprise of this show. I've been consistently impressed with his performances playing what could easily become a melodramatic character. The mystery of his blank flashfoward/death premonition has been an interesting story in itself. I could take or leave Gabrielle Union as his fiance, but I'm greatful for Demitri as Mark's partner - this is when I think Mark is at his best as well. So far, Demitri is the leading man for me.

The FBI Crew: Courtney B. Vance as Wedeck and Christine Woods as Janis are both quite strong and have just enough story to keep me interested. The venture into Wedeck's Washington, DC connections seemed a little out-of-left-field. I was glad they tried to explain why an LA branch of the FBI would be leading the investigation into a massive worldwide incident, but the whole DC story seemed unnecessary. Janis' story is an intriguing distraction from the rest of the FBI business, I'm interested in seeing where it goes. Lastly, I'm still unsure how I feel about Al's suicide. On one hand, it was a good way to challenge the central theme of the show - the question of whether or not you can change the future. But how do we know his suicide won't indirectly cause that woman's death? Also, the rest of the FBI folks haven't stuck to Al's lesson. I liked the idea of showing the extreme of what can happen when people catch a glimpse of their future, but it didn't seem to have as strong of an effect as I'd hoped.

Aaron Stark: I'm sorry, but I'm done with Mark's sponsor. The Afghanistan story is curious, but they better make some sort of connection with the rest of the story because I'm ready to start fastforwarding through his parts. Also, the actress playing his daughter is pretty terrible.

Olivia Benford: I simply can't say a bad word about Sonya Walger, so I won't. I will say that the character of Olivia has become a lot more likable (and believable) in later episodes. When she stopped feeling guilty and started challenging Mark for not trusting her when she's done nothing wrong, I started to like her more. I enjoy both Mark and Olivia better when they're not together. Olivia at the hospital is much more compelling to me, especially now that she's no longer acting freakish about her flashforward. Although, I thought going from avoiding Lloyd at all costs to casually admitting that she doesn't fault him for causing the blackout was pretty unbelievable. It's obvious we'll be seeing more of her involvement with Dylan, which I don't mind.

Bryce Varley: For me, Bryce has the most interesting flashforward story. Everyone else's seems too cause/effect or too related to the incident in itself - if that makes sense. Bryce has the only flashforward that was actually caused by the vision in the first place, which is a really interesting concept. Bryce and Keiko (one of my favorite characters by the way) search and find each other solely because of the vision they both had on October 6th. Because of that, they make decisions they would not normally have made - Keiko moving to LA, Bryce not committing suicide. It's interesting to look at all the other flashforwards from that same perspective - is everyone just unknowingly fulfilling their destiny because seeing this vision was part of their destiny all along? If you make decisions based on the experiences you have every day, what if that vision is just part of your experience? Shaping who you become? Still with me?

Lloyd Simcoe: We now know that Lloyd's physics experimentation may have caused the blackout. He seems like a good guy, but remains a mystery, and I'm sure that's intentional. I'll tell you what, at this point, I wouldn't mind if he stole Mark's girl. One thing I find interesting is his mention of the many-worlds theory- he and Olivia would have met if she had gone to Harvard in 1998 as he did, so according to the many-worlds theory, it did happen in some parallel world. What if the visions during the blackout weren't of the future, but of those other worlds?

Simon Campo: I was as excited as the next Lostie to see Dominic Monahan. So far, Simon has mostly confused me though. I'm looking forward to him working more closely with the FBI crew to solve the mystery. His conceded scientist shtick is actually pretty funny if you can get over the creepiness. I'm sure there's quite a bit more to his character.

As for the mysterious Persian woman in Hong Kong, D. Gibbons, and the blue-handed people, it's all intriguing for sure, but I'm not jumping out of my seat. The fall finale was obviously designed to through a few curveballs, but I didn't find my jaw dropping. Maybe that's because the show is still so new. They need more time to plant the seeds of the story. I just hope they get to it quickly because I don't think FlashForward has strong enough ratings to keep it afloat.

The preview scenes at the end of last week's fall finale told us that FlashForward won't be coming back until March 2010. Probably a good call by ABC, so it won't be competing with the Olympics. I just hope the audience doesn't forget about it. It's unclear whether the April 29th episode will still take place on April 29th as originally planned. I have to say, I am interested to see what they have planned for post-blackout date.

FlashForward will be on my schedule for March 2010 - Demetri, Bryce, and Keiko can be thanked for that.

December 4, 2009

fall finale: white collar

A few shows have been backed up on my DVR for the past few weeks, and sick day combined with an expectedly heavy-ish snowstorm has given me the time to catch up. So, I'll be writing a few blogs about my impressions of fall seasons as we enter the deep, dark abyss of hiatus (not actually true).

White Collar has gone under the radar on this blog, but it's becoming one of my favorite shows. This week, Monk ended it's final season on USA. I didn't watch Monk religiously, but did catch episodes here and there. When Monk first started in 2002, virtually no one was watching basic cable shows. Now we have Monk's success to thank for USA's quirky crime dramas like Burn Notice, Psych, and Royal Pains. Crime procedurals can get stale (The Forgotten comes to mind...or doesn't), but with strong characters and good writing, these shows have garnered great ratings for a cable network. Their "Characters Welcome" tagline pretty much sums it up.

White Collar is the new kid on the block and already earned a spot at the top. I would argue that Matt Bomer and Tom DeKay have some of the best chemistry of any partnership on television. Here's the premise in a nutshell: Neal Caffrey (Bomer) is a successful conman of the Frank Abagnale persuasion. Peter Burke is the FBI agent who finally caught and jailed him. Through the years, their cat and mouse game turned them into unlikely friends, and Peter agrees to give Neal a four year ankle-monitored sentence of FBI work. They're now working as partners solving white collar crime. If you haven't seen it, you should stop reading and catch reruns on USA (or Comcast OnDemand) before the midseason premiere in January.

If you have seen it, here's my take on the fall finale, which presented quite a twist. All season, we've watched two stories progress - the story of Peter and Neal's partnership and the side story of Neal searching for his wife Kate, who we've known is being held against her will by a mysterious bad guy wearing a pinky ring.

The Neal/Peter story has been a series of cases filled with both dramatic and comedic moments between Neal, the smooth criminal genius who has a soft spot for his nemesis-turned-partner, even befriending Peter's lovely wife (Tiffani Theissen), and Peter, a bit of a bumbling, awkward, but obviously talented and dedicated FBI agent. Together, the two seem formed a dream team of sorts playing off of each other's strengths and building a tentatively trustworthy bond.

Before I get to the surprise twist, just a word about the supporting cast. I've said it before, but shows like these are made by the strong secondary characters. Some of the best scenes involve Tiffani Theissen as Peter's wife Elizabeth, and Willie Garson as Neal's old friend and fellow con artist Mozzie (you know him as Sanford from Sex & the City). These two bring something special and fun to the show, and fit easily into each episode without feeling forced. They also bring important depth to Neal - showing the loyalty of a best friend and colleague through years of well-orchestrated criminal activity, and Peter - showing that this awkward, but well-intentioned workaholic has a great woman who loves and believes in him (and in his friendship with Neal).

In this week's fall finale, the case involves a rare diamond gone missing. FBI internal investigator Agent Fowler (played by Noah Emmerich from my favorite movie Beautiful Girls) suspects Neal's involvement. A conflicted Peter tracks down proof that Neal was involved - in the form of Neal's microscopic initials carved into the fake diamond. With Neal in jail, and Peter feeling unsure about his guilt, Neal and Mozzie begin investigating Agent Fowler and the other members of the FBI believing Neal has been set up. We know from last week's episode that Neal believes Kate is being held by a member of the FBI.

With Mozzie and Peter's help, Neal is able to prove his innocence, but not before raising questions about Agent Fowler's motives. He believes Fowler has something to do with Kate's disappearance and manages to track him down in a local hotel room. Here, Neal discovers that Fowler is in fact conducting an investigation called "Mentor" but Neal is not the subject, Peter is.

In the last scene, we see Kate entering a hotel room to speak with her pinky-ring-wearing captor, who is none other than... Peter. Gasp. So, we're lead to believe that Peter set Neal up for the diamond crime in order to throw off Fowler and his crew.

Revealing Peter as a villain changes the entire dynamic of the show, and also undermines the character we have come to know and love. There are really two possible scenarios:

1. The Peter we have been watching is a sham. He's actually getting revenge for all the times Neal eluded him by using Kate to uncover one of Neal's bigger crimes. But wouldn't it be easier to allow Kate to be revealed and keep working his friendship angle with Neal? Chasing after Kate has been the biggest threat to Neal's successful captivity.

2. Peter is acting undercover as Kate's captor for a larger purpose. This is the theory that I'm leaning toward. I just can't see this man willingly wearing a pinky ring. He's pretending to keep Kate captive for her safety in the wake of some larger threat.

But what about Elizabeth? Is he also keeping this a secret from her? Does Elizabeth really know her husband or is she a pawn in the game? Or an accomplice?

We'll have the answers in January!

December 2, 2009

glee: smiles and mattresses

I don't usually write full recaps or reviews of the Glee episodes. One, because they're just too fun to watch, and I don't want to risk over-analyzing. But also, there isn't a coherent plot sequence for the most part. This doesn't bother me, but it makes critiquing plot points unnecessary.

But last night, one of the major stories came to a head. Mrs. Shuester was revealed!

Overall, the first part of the episode moved pretty slowly. No music for nearly 30 minutes? Unacceptable. However, I liked hearing Emma talk about her reasons for marrying Ken. The whole thing seems rushed, so it was good to hear her thinking behind it - as cooky as the whole idea may be. And the yearbook photo drama was a good reminder that - even though they're really coming together as a group - these poor kids are still social pariahs at school. But how great was Quinn blackmailing Sue for their page in the yearbook? And poor Rachel posing alone for the captain photo. I have to say, every time I think I'll start getting annoyed by her, I just end up loving her more.

All of this going on and leading up the mattress commercial scene, which I loved, made the Shuester fight seem a little out of place. We've been waiting for the pregnancy hoax fall out for a while now, and it seemed to come out of nowhere. A really great scene between Matthew Morrison and Jesslyn Gislig though. It's was good to see such anger come out of Will - there was no way he was crawling into his shell for this one. It's the first time we've seen Will really acknowledge how poorly Teri treats him. I'll admit, my heart did break a little for her, but she definitely had it coming. Our marriage works better when you don't feel good about yourself? Really Teri?

Kicking Mr. Shue while he's down after he slept on one of the mattresses seemed a little too nutty. Couldn't he have just paid for the mattress? Glee loves the convenient story lines, and I won't fault them for it.

As for the musical numbers, Rachel and Finn's first "Smile" performance wasn't my favorite. It seemed like they just stuck it in there for a an extra song. "Jump" was super fun, and the second "Smile" was very sweet. I'll be downloading both of those.

And our friend Sue. I was hoping Will would punch her more than ever during this episode, but the "fatties and uglies" monologue was hilarious.

Lastly, a quick shout out to Heather Morris as Brittany. They're always quick, but her lines have been making me laugh more than any others lately. Her delivery is perfect.

So, in the end. The kids are going to sectionals without Mr. Shuester. Emma and Ken are about to head down the aisle. And the fate of the Shuester marriage and Quinn's baby remain to be seen. Next week is the midseason finale, then we have to wait until April for more!

Oh, and congrats to the show earning number one in the ratings for their timeslot! Smile!

December 1, 2009

what to watch in december

As our regular shows start packing it in for the holiday hiatus, we're left with many reruns. But alas, December is not the television wasteland it once was. Here are few things to watch:

December 1:
The new season of Scrubs premieres on ABC. It's a goodbye JD and hello to a new class of student doctors under the watchful eye of Turk and Cox. It's hard to believe they're keeping this show around, but great for the fans I suppose.

December 2:
You know you've been waiting for it. Dog the Bounty Hunter season six premieres on A&E. It's just comforting to know he's out there, right? Also, Launch My Line is starting on Bravo. I think this one was originally supposed to air in the fall. It will feature 10 established designers paired with 10 industry professionals - stylists, music producers, CEOs, etc., who have always dreamed of having their own clothing line. The teams will work together through challenges to bring their vision to life and create a fashion line. In the end, one team's line will be launched. Acclaimed designers, twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten of DSQUARED2 will host.

December 3:
Reality show Jersey Shore premieres on MTV. Yup, it's exactly what you think. Also, Men of a Certain Age premieres on TNT. Pretty intrigued by this one, which I already wrote about here.

December 8:
Better Off Ted returns for a second season on ABC. If you haven't seen it, I strongly suggest catching up on season one, which is currently streaming on Hulu. You won't regret it. This show is the unsung hero in ABC's comedic resurgence. Also, ABC is airing a new Disney half-hour animated holiday special about an elite group of elves called Prep & Landing.

December 9:
The G4 network is premiering a new show called Campus PD about (you guessed it) campus police departments in college towns. Admit it, you're a little curious.

** This is also the sad day of Glee's midseason finale.

December 11:
TLC has a new wedding show called Four Weddings where four brides attend each others weddings and determine which one is the best. This can only be good. I'm sure there will be no caddiness whatsoever.

December 13:
A tale of two families, with a six-part series called The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty airing on A&E and season four of Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiering on E!. How wrong is it to group the two?

December 14:
NBC's The Sing-Off starts a 4-night competition between eight different a capella groups competing for a record contract.

December 30:
The Real World begins its 23rd season in my great city of Washington, DC. 23rd season?? I'm old.

If you're looking to take advantage of the hiatus to get acquainted with a new show or two, I would suggest getting started with: Modern Family (ABC), Glee (FOX), and White Collar (USA), then take another look at Fringe (FOX) and Parks & Recreation (NBC), which are both having stellar second seasons.

If you're poised for some holiday movie marathons, visit CliqueClack TV's 2009 Guide to Holiday TV Programming for a complete list of what's airing and when on every channel. It's quite useful!

Finally, if you have time to dive into some serious DVD action, my favorite old standbys are The West Wing, Freaks & Geeks, Dexter, and X-Files. My favorite new discovery is Veronica Mars, which I'm just starting. And you will be held accountable if Mad Men is not on your list.

Happy hiatus!