January 31, 2010

a word about ugly betty

Last week, you may have heard the news that ABC has decided to cancel Ugly Betty. It's sad. Putting aside any argument about why the show is canceled - ABC's lack of commitment to a solid timeslot, some problems with the writing last season, etc. - it's just sad news.

I've loved Ugly Betty from the start. When this show debuted in 2006, there was really nothing else like it. While we've started to see more original and quirky comedy-drama crossovers, Ugly Betty still stands out as an original. From the writing, to the costumes, to the music, to the set design, it's a pleasure to watch every week.

Mostly, I will miss these characters. I will miss seeing them every week. I'm sad I won't get to see how high school turns out for Justin or how Mark and Amanda will continue to torment Betty until those three find themselves running their own magazine one day.

Ugly Betty has done a wonderful job of depicting a family, writing all sorts of alternative lifestyles in a fun, but respectful and realistic way, and showing true growth of characters, which doesn't happen on television very often.

The show probably isn't going down in any award show history books - although America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams were both rightly recognized multiple times - I'm truly sad to see these characters go. Thankfully, writers have been given fair warning to tie things up, so let's enjoy the last eight episodes.

Also, this is one of the funniest things I've ever seen:

January 30, 2010

new show review: life unexpected

While I'm on the subject of show's I think I will like (see below), let's talk about Life Unexpected. If The Deep End was a show I was supposed to like, Life Unexpected was a show I was basically required by law to like. I really had no choice in the matter.

Prior to actually seeing the show, I knew three things: critics were comparing it to Gilmore Girls (an untouchable show in my book), executive producer/director Greg Fleder was involved (whose work I loved on October Road), and the show deals with an adolescent's experience in the foster care system, a story I feel goes grossly untold in this country.

Knowing all of this, I did my best to keep an open and cautious mind watching the first two episodes. Afterall, a show about a 16-year-old girl in foster care who tracks down her parents seeking a signature for emancipation only to find a home seems a little schmaltzy, no?

Thankfully, good characters and strong writing keep this show on the right side of the dangerous schmaltz line. 16-year-old Lux is played by Brittany Robertson, a young actor who you'll recognize from shows like Swingtown and movies like Dan in Real Life. A lot rests on Robertson's shoulders to play this character in a way that's both realistic and likable. She's does it with ease.

Lux was given up for adoption at birth by Cate Cassidy, who (at 15) was told she would find an adoptive home easily. Unfortunately, Lux had a heart condition that had her in and out of surgery until the age of three - a much more difficult age to find an adoptive home, especially with a medical condition. She's been in and out of foster homes ever since. We meet her the day before her 16th birthday when she's about to apply for emancipation from the system. Before doing so, she needs a signature from her birth parents. Not trusting the system to obtain these signatures in a timely fashion, she goes in search of her parents on her own.

First, we meet Baze or Nate Bazile played by Kristoffer Polaha, who's had roles in a handful of short-lived series and guest appearances on shows like Mad Men. Baze never knew Cate went through with having the baby after getting her pregnant in the backseat of his van after the prom. Baze has a bit of a Peter Pan complex living with his two best friends above a bar that he owns and operates. Lux showing up at his door is a huge surprise, but he handles it relatively well and tries to help her out by contacting Cate (Shiri Appleby, who you'll also recognize from a bunch of things like ER and Roswell).

Cate is a local radio personality, co-hosting a morning show with her fiancee (Kerr Smith of Dawson's Creek fame), who's more than disturbed to hear from Baze in the middle of her show one morning. When she finds the reason for his call, her world is turned upside down with the news that Lux never found a family. It's apparent that Cate never got over giving her up, dealing with some trust issues of her own.

In the first two episodes, we see this odd little family come together. Cate and Baze convince Lux (and the courts) to let them share custody (Lux living with Cate) for the time being. Lux deals with learning to trust, leaving her plans to move in with her best friend and boyfriend - thereby abandoning the family she built for herself in order to take a chance on a "real" family.

Cate and Baze certainly have their issues (made more complicated by their decision to drunkenly sleep together the night they find out about Lux), but they are able to put aside their differences and residual feelings aside to try to do the right thing for Lux. It's pretty apparent that Lux will often play the role of adult in their life together.

We still have a lot to learn about the characters, and also whether or not this show will find an audience, but I have high hopes for both. Call me a hopeless optimist.

Check it out Mondays at 9:00 on CW.

January 29, 2010

new show review: the deep end

As an avid television fan, I usually have an idea of whether or not I will like a new show. ABC's The Deep End (Thursdays at 8:00) has all the ingredients of what often constitutes a winner in my book. I'm a sucker for an ensemble cast and plots that combine both serial and case-of-the-week storytelling. As a bonus, The Deep End has some of my favorites like Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars, Napoleon Dynamite) and Matt Long (Jack & Bobby). All of that said, this one just didn't come together for me.

Sterling is a major law firm in Los Angeles with a new crop of junior associates. We start with the four new associates interviewing with Rowdy Kaiser the recruitment associate (played by the brilliant Norbert Butz, better known as the original Fiero from Wicked). The four are pretty predictable: Addy Fisher (Majorino) the awkward, wholesome hard worker with a heart of gold, Dylan Hewitt (Matt Long) the handsome do-gooder boy nextdoor, Liam Priory (Ben Lawson) the British cocky ladies man, and Beth Bancroft (Leah Pipes) the privileged over-achiever.

Cut to three months later, they're all fretting about "The Prince of Darkness" who we learn is senior partner Cliff Huddle (Billy Zane). He is married to fellow senior partner Susan (Nicole Ari Parker), and chair partner Hart Sterling (Clancy Brown) is returning after a long leave of absence due to his wife's illness, during which he left Cliff in charge.

As for the cases:

Cliff sticks Dylan with a pro bono case that Hart forced on them (because first day junior associates always get their own cases). It's a birth mother versus her mother-in-law who is suing for custody of her grandson (baby daddy died). Dylan defies Cliff's attempts to settle the case due to mother-in-law's local power and wealth, and does the right thing to restore custody to the mom. Aww.

Liam accidentally gives a prospective client the impression that he's Jewish, a secret that's only revealed when the client comes across a very un-Jewish part of his anatomy.

Addy tries balancing the demands of multiple senior partners getting arrested in the process. When she finally stands up for herself, Susan takes her on as a mentee.

Meanwhile, Beth is tasked with helping an old CEO hand over the reigns to a new guy only to find out he has Alzheimer's disease. She must decide whether to close the deal or reveal that the poor old man has no idea what's going on. She turns to her father for advice. A cut throat, rival attorney played by the wonderful Tom Amandes (Everwood, Eli Stone). In the end, Beth opts to screw the old man and makes the deal for the firm.

Through it all, we learn a little about the firm. Hart is taking the reigns back from an very reluctant Cliff who has steered the firm in a much more money-hungry and power-seeking (but also more successful) direction. Hart exerts his authority by showing Rowdy the recruiting associate the error of his recent ways and hiring a fifth first-year associate, Malcolm Bennett (Mehcad Brooks).

At one point, Cliff threatens to set Dylan on fire, throws a stack of paper at him, and tells him he will make sure he "never practices law again" if he doesn't make sure his client's 6-year-old son is given over to his grandmother. Oh, and he's having an affair with paralegal Katie. Sorry, I just barfed cliche.

In the end, Hart and Cliff agree to co-lead the firm. Beth gets it on with Liam in their office, Dylan gets it on with Katie in her apartment, and Cliff is on his way to get it on with his wife at a hotel, but not before dropping by Katie's apartment. And scene.

The problem is, I can't decide what I like and don't like. It's all so uneven. To me, a pilot's task is to introduce you to the characters and show you that they've got a story to tell. By the end of the episode, I was just left... blahh.

Despite all this, I decided to give the show a second chance with the next episode. Sometimes pilots can be tricky due to all the rewriting, network influence, etc. It was very evident that too many writers were involved - or seemed to be - because of the unevenness of the plot and characters. So...episode two. Plus, it's directed by Timothy Busfield, so how could I not?

Essentially, two cases and two love stories were presented. In the first case, Beth assumes second chair with Cliff in a faulty product lawsuit against Beth's high-powered attorney father (played again by Tom Amandes, who's underused here). Pipes was okay as Beth, but I felt thrown into her daddy issues with little background. An unevenly dramatic ending that I didn't end up caring about. The second case involved Addy accidentally taking on a medical marijuana clinic as a client. I really like Addy - probably my favorite character because Majorino plays her with such ease and authenticity - but this story line was completely lost on me. First, the clinic owners tried to pull a fast one on Addy by sending her a batch of marijuana in order to hide it from the feds. Then, Hart claimed the marijuana was his in order to protect the firm - but also to show his support for medical marijuana, I think? In the end, Addy figured out a way to get Hart's charges dropped and fired the client. I didn't understand the point of it.

As for the "love" stories, we learn Cliff not only had an affair with Katie but promised her a job at the firm. But she broke up with him and slept with Dylan. For fear that she would find out, Cliff told Susan about the affair. Susan then transferred Katie to their office in Montana. Got all that? Care? Neither do I. Although, judging by the inappropriately sentimental goodbye between Katie and Dylan at the end of the episode, I think the writers wanted us to care.

Second love story involves Liam's quest to relive his first kiss - a standard to which he holds every new woman. In an effort to help, Addy tells all the women in the office to kiss him throughout the day. Seriously, all day. All over the office. This is a place of business, is it not? I rarely get insulted by the way women are written on television, but this was both insulting and ridiculous. In the end, turns out Liam's dream kiss came from Beth, not that he would let her know that, and not that we care. Liam's character seemed to have potential, but again, I'm left with very little.

I'm disappointed because I could have used a fun new show, but looks like this just won't be it for me. It feels like they've taken everything that has worked in successful series past - Grey's Anatomy's torrid love stories, Boston Legal's quirky cases, etc. and tried to make something new - but it just ended up feeling like a recycled imitation.

January 23, 2010

new show review: human target

FOX aired the pilot of new action drama Human Target a few times this week as well as the second episode on Tuesday. The show will find a home on Tuesdays at 9:00 from now on.

This isn't really my kind of show - based on a DC Comics graphic novel and comic book series - but I'm giving it a look because I like Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies, Boston Legal). He plays Winston, partner to main man Christoper Chance played by Mark Valley. Valley seems to be the leading man who can never hold onto his own show - you'll recognize him from soaps, Boston Legal, and a brief stint on Fringe.

The two work as team - Chance is a private security contractor/body guard, and Winston is his business partner. Basically, Vance integrates himself into his clients' lives in order to protect them from a threat. His past is a mystery, which we expect will be revealed over time.

We meet them when they're hired to protect a woman who's in charge of a major public transportation project in California (fancy fast train). Someone tried to blow up her car. The train's maiden voyage is tomorrow, and Vance will need to tag along with her, posing as her interpreter in order to get the guy to reveal himself. Meanwhile, Winston helps gather and transmit info to Vance from the office.

In comes additional team member, hired gun Guerrero. He's played by Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from Watchmen). Vance wants to bring him into the job because of his coercive investigation expertise, but Winston has strong reservations. But he steps in to help in his own quirky, creepy way. He's interesting to watch on screen, but goodness is he funny looking.

During the process, Chance acts like some combination of Dr. House and Jack Bauer. He identifies a poisoned drink by the cubed rather than crushed ice cubes.

Vance's clever observations makes the killer think he's been caught. So, he pulls a bunch of emergency breaks, which, mixed with the speed of the train, will cause the who thing to explode. Naturally.

The fun begins when the killer tracks them down and chases Chance and his charge all the way down the train - Chance getting shot in the bullet proof vest a few times along the way. This also involves a pretty cool fist fight in an air shaft - must have been really cool/impossible to shoot.

In the end, Chance does his part to protect train lady from the assassin (really tough fight - effects are pretty cool), then comes back to warn everyone of the impending train explosion. Train lady saves the day with her knowledge of the train. She loads everyone into last car, which has backup breaks. In an unfortunate twist, train lady's husband tries to trap her and Chance out of the breaking car. The coolest part comes when Chance rigs a harness system and uses the wind force to para(shoot) them straight out of the train.

Guerrero does his part to solve the underlying mystery behind train lady's death threats. Turns out, she had an affair and the husband wanted her dead for the train building bonus money. There you go kids, cheaters never win. In a bizarre sentimental moment between Chance and train lady - complete with Casablanca-style music - he takes her wedding rings as payment. I didn't understand it.

During the last scenes, Chance flashes back (or forward?) to guarding Danny Glover and blowing up a car. This is either a mystery that will unfold or a preview of next week's episode.

As a leading action man, Valley is good but not great. Not yet anyway. He definitely has potential, but is coming across a little too stiff. He will need to show a more humanism for viewers to get attached and root for him. Winston and Guerrero are fun to watch, but it's still not clear what Winston actually does.

With all the returning and new television on this spring - not to mention the Olympics - I think I will skip this one. But if anyone has a strong argument for keeping it on the DVR, post in the comments!

January 22, 2010

see you later, conan

It's a sad night. I've stayed out of the back and forth about Conan/Leno/NBC over the past few weeks. Though, I've made no secret of my feelings about NBC's decision to broadcast The Jay Leno Show in the 10:00 hour. For me, those feelings are more about my preference for good dramatic and comedic scripted programming during that hour. I was worried that this move signaled a bigger shift for television - one that's been happening over time for the past 10 years, a shift away from quality scripted programming on the major networks.

For all the resources (though dwindling) and talent surrounding NBC, there's so much potential. The decision to keep Jay on for fear of losing his audience came at the cost of good programming, and more importantly tonight, at the cost of a really good late night television host.

A lot can be said about the poor business decisions made by NBC in the past year or so. Their indecision and lack of confidence that kept Jay in a slot that didn't end up pulling the right ratings and also impeded Conan's chances. NBC made one huge mistake - they underestimated the intelligence of the audience. Sure, we're numbers, sure that translates to dollars. But they forgot that we're also a collective brain, a brain that can be influenced by even the slightest move. They failed to recognize or take advantage of that. Most of us saw keeping Jay as a lack of confidence in Conan, and for those who weren't familiar with Conan's Late Show, his hands were tied from the beginning.

All of that said, this situation made for some of the best late night television in recent years. Great performances on all networks taking advantage of this comic gem - Jimmy Kimmel dressed as Leno for an entire episode? Genius.

Not to get mushy, but Conan's final words summed up why I write this blog. There's a lot of cynicism about what "watching TV" means. Some may say television is a lesser medium, one that fails to stimulate your brain or inspire creativity. Others just look down on it from the high horse. Many others are caught up in talking about how modern television is doomed. I couldn't agree less. I love television, and I embrace that. Watching the award shows over the past couple of weeks, showed me just how much talent and creativity is streaming into this medium - perhaps now more than ever. So, I'm going to continue celebrating it on this here blog.

Mr. O'Brien:

"All I ask is one thing. And I'm asking this particularly of the young people who watch. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."

"Tonight we're going to have a lot of fun on television. That's what we're going to do."

Thanks for a great show Conan, I'm sure we'll see you later.

hope for haiti now

Tonight's telethon was an amazing event. I know there are so many humanitarian emergencies and crises going on in the world, and those deserve our attention every day, but we often lose sight of that. Hopefully, the generosity shown tonight will be a reminder for the people in Haiti and all over the world that people do care.

That said, Jennifer Hudson (she looks amazing!), Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake/Matt Morris, and Jay Z stole the show for me.


January 18, 2010

what to watch this week

I've been out of the loop for a few days, but there's still a lot to look forward to this week on television. Sometimes, a little escapism is just the ticket.

Here are some highlights of what's premiering and returning this week:

  • All the regular shows are back, including Chuck. Watch Chuck!
  • New series Life Unexpected is premiering on CW. Look for a review of the first episode coming up this week.
  • 24 continues its 2-night season premiere on FOX.


  • American Idol auditions continue with Chicago.
  • Southland continues on TNT with the second episode of the first season. I'm not going to tune in until the new episodes begin, but this is a good way to catch up if you haven't watched before. It's worth a look.
  • White Collar returns from the break on USA. Anyone else dying to know what's going on with that suspicious cliff hanger?


  • American Idol auditions continue in Orlando.
  • Did anyone watch the new season premiere of Leverage last week? Check it out. It's still one of my favorites.
  • New series Human Target premieres on FOX. You may have seen the "preview event" on Sunday night, which is repeating on Tuesday. An hour-long action drama about a unique private contractor/security expert/bodyguard who integrates himself into his clients' lives and eliminate the threat by becoming the human target. Not sure if I'm going to watch this one. Chi McBride playing the best friend is my only motivation.


  • Vampire Diaries and Supernatural return on CW. I started to get into Vampire Diaries before the break, but I'm still only watching online. Thursday nights are too busy!
  • The Office returns with a potential buyer coming to check out Dunder Mifflin.
  • Burn Notice season premiere on USA.
  • New series The Deep End premieres on ABC. You may have seen one of the 1,000 previews - an hour-long drama about a batch of newbies at a law firm. As far as I know, it's only running for six weeks. Look for a first episode review later this week.


  • Dollhouse series finale on FOX. I never took to this one, but sorry for those who did. RIP.


  • If you're not sick of award shows yet, the Screen Actors Guild Awards will air on TNT and TBS.
  • Also, US Figure Skating competition. Get ready for the Olympics!

Those are the highlights. Enjoy!

January 14, 2010

nbc's post-leno schedule

Although the fate of NBC late night is still unclear (the latest rumor says Conan's last night will be 1/22), the network just released the post-Olympic/post-Leno primetime schedule if you're interested. The overall lineup isn't stellar, but the the 10:00 slot seemed pretty easy to fill:

8:00 Chuck (already back with new episodes, loving the season so far)
9:00 Trauma (originally thought cancelled, this will be back from the dead beginning March 8)
10:00 Law & Order (returns March 1)

8:00 The Biggest Loser (the ratings powerhouse already started the spring season)
10:00 Parenthood (finally premiering March 2, hope the 10:00 timeslot will help, not hurt)

8:00 Mercy (already back with new episodes, still surprisingly liking the show more and more)
9:00 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (repeats in this timeslot beginning March 3)
10:00 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (back to its rightful home beginning March 3)

8:00 Community (back with new episodes tonight - Jack Black guest stars)
8:30 Parks and Recreation (back with new episodes tonight - Will Arnett guest stars)
9:00 The Office (returns January 21)
9:30 30 Rock (back with two new episodes tonight, James Franco gues stars)
10:00 The Marriage Ref (new reality show, premieres March 4; sneak preview February 28)

8:00 Who Do You Think You Are (reality show explores ancestry of celebs premieres March 5)
(Friday Night Lights will take over the 8:00 slot on April 30)
9:00 Dateline NBC (begins March 5)

8:00 Minute to Win It (reality competition show premieres March 14)
9:00 The Celebrity Apprentice (premieres March 14)

January 12, 2010

how i met your mother's 100th episode

Last night was the 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother. While this series got off to a slowish start, I'm glad to see it has come so far. Many would say HIMYM's success is due to Neil Patrick Harris' resurgence/illustration of one of the funniest characters on television right now - and that isn't wrong. But the cast also works really well as an ensemble. Cobie Smulders - who we were all a little dubious about in the beginning - is shining these days.

I usually don't look to critique HIMYM because it's a fun show with quirky stories that's consistently entertaining. It's just good fun. So, for the 100th episode, I was perfectly happy to sit back and watch Barney's hilarious struggle between girls and suits. Some of the best comedy acting by NPH this season - hoping they'll use this as a showcase to the Emmy voters. The musical number was hilarious and brilliantly showed the talent of this guy - as well as the other characters. How about that conversational baritone from Marshall??

All of that was so fun, as was Robin's astute observation that hot female bartenders benefit from "circumstantial hotness." So very true. I'm going to say the same for those beer promoter girls who pass out tchotchkes and free beer at bars wearing tiny referee uniforms.

That said, my issue with this episode comes with my beef with the show overall. The problem of the title. On one hand, I love the How I Met Your Mother concept. The narration works really well for telling stories in a fun and different way - flashbacks, montages, etc. And the concept has worked well to keep the suspense going about Ted's love life.

The problem is, sometimes (like last night) it takes away from more than it adds to Ted's storyline. Some of the best Ted episodes were back when he was chasing after/dating Robin. Early on, we found out she wasn't the mother, but it was still fun watching Ted at his best - fighting for true love, which he's a complete sucker for. The later seasons brought more clues about the mother - yellow umbrella, etc. - to build anticipation. With the exception of Sarah Chalke's arc (which didn't really do much for me, or for Ted for that matter), all of Ted's potential love interests have been short-lived and seemed pointless as soon as we find out she's not the mother.

I would have loved more from last night's guest appearance by Rachel Bilson. She and Josh Radnor had great chemistry, but the story seemed rushed with not much pay off (save for a few tidbits about the mother). Stretching their story out a bit more would have given Ted more to do. Sorry, but I just don't get as much from his adventures with teaching and architecture.

I have faith that the showrunners have a great plan for finally introducing the mother, so I'll stop questioning the strategy. But I wouldn't mind seeing her now, rather than later, so we can see more Ted Mosby at his best.

For fun, here's a video of the making of "Girls vs. Suits":

January 11, 2010

nbc, our problem child

NBC had quite a busy day at the Television Critics Association gathering yesterday. Thanks to religious Twittering and posting from the trusty critics, I was able to gather the top headlines, plus a few fun tidbits from other sources...
  • As you've no doubt heard by now, The Jay Leno Show will be bumped from the 10:00 timeslot as of February 12 (Olympic opening ceremonies). Instead, Jay will shift to 11:35, pushing Conan to 12:05 and Fallon to 1:05. This obviously lets even more air out of Conan's tires. No word yet on his reaction or plan for the future.

  • Plans to fill the 10:00 timeslot after the Olympics are still ongoing...most likely 2 hours of drama, a new reality hour, and more Dateline.

  • Jerry Seinfeld's new reality series Marriage Ref will premiere right after the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Aren't the closing ceremonies like 3 hours long? They'll probably bump Conan for that too.

  • NBC is ordering 18 new pilots this year, which is a huge number (obviously, only a handful make it to air).

  • Potential fall projects highlighted at TCA include: J.J. Abrams' espionage drama Undercovers (his first time directing a pilot since Lost), David Tennant-led legal dramedy Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, remakes of Prime Suspect and Rockford Files, David E. Kelley's legal drama Kindreds, Jerry Bruckheimer action-procedural drama Chase, an hour-long romantic comedy (since those always work) called Love Bites, and an untitled Adam Carolla comedy.

  • They're also putting many eggs into the Parenthood basket, which will finally come to the small screen on March 1st.

  • The future fate of Heroes is up for discussion, but it looks possible that Law & Order will have another season.

  • David Hasselhoff's replacement on America's Got Talent will be Howie Mandel. Dislike. Is there something about this guy that I just don't see?

  • According to Hollywood Reporter, NBC's new drama Day One, which was originally scheduled for a half-season run this spring, then cut to a four episode mini-series, is now relegated to a 2-hour backdoor pilot with no plans for further episodes. Oh well. They probably realized it looks too much like FlashForward, which isn't exactly killing in the ratings.

  • Watch with Kristin has some fun scoop about The Office. Kathy Bates will be guest staring as the CEO of the company that bought out Dunder Mifflin. I love the idea of Kathy mixing with the Scranton folks.

  • NBC's upfront presentation for fall 2010 will take place on May 17th. Mark you calendars!

Thanks to Televisionary for great updates from NBC's TCA presentation.

what to watch this week

As much as it doesn't feel that way outside on the east coast, spring television season is approaching full swing. Here are some highlights of what's premiering and returning this week:

  • Chuck regular season premiere. If you didn't watch the 2-hour season opener last night, catch it on Hulu today! (and read my summary below)
  • House returns a little early to compete with the Chuck premiere.
  • How I Met Your Mother is back with the 100th episode, which includes a musical number.
  • Big Bang Theory is back...oh and so are those other two CBS comedies and CSI: Miami.
  • Fringe is airing a special un-aired episode following House. Take a look!
  • Castle returns with guest star Alyssa Milano.
  • Men of a Certain Age continues its run on TNT. Anyone else really liking that show?


  • Southland premieres on TNT. They'll be showing all episodes from the beginning, including those unaired on NBC.
  • American Idol season 9 starts with 2 hours of Boston auditions. Look out, this might be the last time we see Simon judging auditions with the news that he'll be bringing The X Factor to FOX this year.


  • The second half of Leverage, season 2, premieres on TNT. Glad to have them back on Tuesday night, which is actually becoming less of a barren TV wasteland.
  • American Idol continues premiere week with an hour of auditions in Atlanta.
  • CBS is all new with Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Criminal Minds, and CSI: NY returning.


  • Bones is back with an episode called "The X in the File". Hmmm.
  • Fringe returns after Bones. Let's hope for some good ratings this spring.
  • Parks & Recreation returns with guest star (and Amy's husband) Will Arnett. Love him!
  • Community and 30 Rock also return on NBC.
  • Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice 2-hour crossover will involve the Grey's docs bringing Addison and friends in to help save a baby.
  • The Mentalist returns with new episodes. If you watch, read this.
  • New animated half-hour spy comedy Archer premieres on FX.
  • Project Runway season 7 premieres. NYC, Michael, and Nina are back. Thank god.

I'm sure I missed a few, but those are the highlights. Enjoy!

January 10, 2010

chuck's back!

It's the two hour premiere of Chuck tonight, and we finally see what our favorite reluctant spy is going to do with his fancy new powers. I'll be blogging a bit while I watch tonight, so bare with me while I try to contain my excitement. If this is your first time watching Chuck, welcome and enjoy!

Tonight's premiere is split into two parts:

"Chuck vs. the Pink Slip"
We jump right in with Chuck help captive by scary ambiguously Polish bad guys on which he practices some impressive fight skills under the guidance of The General in his ear piece. As I suspected...this is just a training session. But it seems that Chuck is living up to his potential as the new intersect agent, so The General is ending his training. Love seeing her offscreen, by the way.

Cut back six months, Casey instructs Chuck to tell Ellie that he want on a last minute trip to Europe. He will spend 6 months training to be the new intersect agent (a mission originally intended for Bryce). Sarah is not happy about Chuck becoming a real spy because he'll be in it for the rest of his life. She proposes running away together telling him to meet her in Prague where she will be waiting with fake IDs and train tickets. He accepts.

Now back from fake Europe trip/training facility, Chuck is in Ellie and Awesome's living room with no Sarah in sight. He tries calling her, and we see her in a pool in some exotic location with a mysterious man and no intention of taking Chuck's call. Hmm.

Product placement #1: Honda. Product placement #2: The Olympics on NBC.

Hold the phone. That was a commercial! I was totally fooled.

Anywho, Chuck is spending quite a bit of time on Awesome and Ellie's couch growing a very long beard. He still looks pretty though. During a failed incognito mission to Buy More to replenish his cheeseball supply, Chuck runs into Emmett and the boys. The boys inform him that Sarah has been back working at the yogurt shop. Trying to investigate, Chuck comes across Casey packing up his things in The Castle. Casey is on his way to join Sarah for a mission. Casey is curious about what happened between Chuck and Sarah...but no details are shared yet.

Chuck finds them on their mission and tries proves himself to The General by helping. We finally see Sarah - turns out that exotic pool location was part of a mission. Casey, and especially Sarah, are not accepting Chuck's offer to help. But of course, he's flashing away. The new kung fu flashes are super fun - and impressive. Even more impressive are his new intersect guitar skills!

Unfortunately, Chuck did more harm that good for the mission and quickly ends up on back on the couch. The laziness is interrupted by Morgan, recently canned from Benihanna (Anna took off with the prep chef), and Morgan brings Chuck to his current living space in the Buy More studio room.

EMMETT SHOT...in the eye! By the assassin that Chuck flashed on during the mission. I did not see that coming.

Sarah comes to the Buy More to say goodbye to Chuck...only to be met by the assassin and his men. Of course. Chuck is knocked out and later wakes up in some sort of cell with the assassin. After an ass beating, Chuck passes out and remembers what happened with Sarah six months prior. Turns out, they did meet on that train platform in Prague. Sarah brought the fake IDs and smooches for Chuck, but he chose to become the intersect agent instead. He didn't chose Sarah. It's a bummer, but I actually support the decision (I'm sure Chuck would appreciate that).

Alas, Sarah is locked in the adjoining cell. Chuck's turbo flash comes to good use, and he frees them both...turns out they're in Mexico. And it's Casey to the rescue! Nothing like seeing Casey brandishing a machine gun...from a helicopter no less. Sometimes I forget that this show has some of the best action scenes on television right now.

Back at The Castle, the trio meets with The General via videocast. She informs them that Operation Bartowski is back in action. Only Chuck is excited about this news.

So, Chuck and Casey (and Morgan!) are back at the Buy More. Ellie and Awesome are moving to the apartment across the courtyard, so Morgan moves in with Chuck. Sarah reminds Chuck that he needs to keep his feelings in check now more than ever (rejection). Casey begins training Chuck on the physical aspects of his new intersect. And all is right with the world.

Great music in this episode...topped off with a little "Eye of the Tiger"!

"Chuck vs. the Three Words"
And now... another hour of Chuck! Looks like this one will focus a bit more and just what's going on between Sarah and Chuck. Goodness.

Fatefully, Chuck and Sarah end up at the same club on their night off. Sarah with friend and colleague Karina, who we met last season. And Chuck with Morgan. (Incidentally, I'm slightly concerned about what Chuck's hair is doing this season. It's a lot of volume.)

Turns out, Karina is part of their new mission. She's pulling a fake engagement with an arms dealer, and they have to bring him down.

Back at Buy More, Big Mike is back in charge. I'm actually quite happy Emmett is gone (RIP). And poor Morgan is pining over Karina. Jeff and Lester dare Morgan to invite her to his housewarming party.

(While I myself have little need for the gratuitous underwear scene with Sarah and Karina, I hope it pulls in some good ratings among the 18-34 male audience.)

Back on the mission, the trio goes undercover for Karina's engagement party. Chuck gets to show off more of his fancy turbo flash skills dodging a complex laser light alarm system. All the while, trying to get Sarah to talk to him about their friendship/relationship...to explain that he didn't chose being a spy over her. Of course, she's hearing none of this since he's locked in an air tight closet while she's outside fighting bad guys. I hate when that happens. After nearly running out of air in the closet, Chuck falls into Sarah's arm telling her he loves her, then passing out. The guy cannot catch a break.

Back at The Castle, Chuck is recovering and Sarah is questioning whether Chuck will be safe given their emotional complications. Unfortunately (or fortunately), The General is not letting her quit. So, the two commence fight training. And Sarah isn't giving in and letting Chuck talk about his feelings. Girl is cold as ice.

Later that night, at Morgan's housewarming party, Karina shows up with her arms dealer fiance, who now knows she's a spy and promises to kill Chuck. Jeff and Lester unsuccessfully challenge the henchmen to a chugging contest...and pass out (drugged). It's the trio to the rescue, and we see Casey and Sarah starting to trust Chuck and his new flashes. Though Sarah still leads in the ass kissing, Chuck comes through in the clutch to appeal to the arms dealer's broken heart.

In the end, we realize the computer that the team recovered from the arms dealer has more significance than the realize. The General wants to tell them about it...but a higher power isn't letting her.

And we learn that not only does Morgan have a fancy way of displaying his sneaker collection, he also scored with Karina...on Star Wars sheets no less! Go Morgan.

Back at The Castle, Karina leaves Sarah with a flashdrive... a video of Chuck trapped in the air tight closet earlier confessing his reasons for leaving Sarah at the train station in Prague. He wanted to put aside this feelings to do something for the greater good to protect his friends and family...and because he loves her, since she's the one that taught him what being a spy is all about.


January 7, 2010

it's official, i'm a person

I didn't get to watch the People's Choice Awards on Tuesday night. They're usually pretty entertaining and a good publicity opportunity for actors, but not as prestigious as some other award programs (whether you even consider that to be warranted). But I looked at the list of winners, and I think it's pretty much official, I'm a person.

I hate to admit it, but looking the TV categories ONLY, if I had to chose from the list of nominees, I agree with almost every winning pick. Does that make me average? I don't think I like that.

Favorite TV Drama
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Grey's Anatomy

Favorite TV comedy
The Big Bang Theory AGREE
Desperate Housewives
How I Met Your Mother
The Office
Two and a Half Men

Favorite TV Drama Actor
Hugh Laurie
AGREE (Emmy voters take note!)
Kiefer Sutherland
Mark Harmon
Matthew Fox
Patrick Dempsey

Favorite TV Drama Actress
Katherine Heigl AGREE (only if I have to pick from this list)
Anna Paquin
Blake Lively
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Mariska Hargitay (sorry Mariska, it's getting boring)

Favorite TV Comedy Actor
Steve Carell SEMI-AGREE (would have loved a JP or NPH win, but Michael Scott will always have my heart)
Alec Baldwin
Charlie Sheen
Jim Parsons
Neil Patrick Harris

Favorite TV Comedy Actress
Alyson Hannigan DISAGREE (not that I don't love Lily)
America Ferrera
Amy Poehler (I picked Amy here, but hopefully this is just the beginning for Lesley Knope)
Eva Longoria Parker
Tina Fey

Favorite TV Obsession
True Blood DISAGREE (only because I don't watch it. blasphemy)
Dexter (unimpressed by this category, but this would be my pick)
Gossip Girl
The Hills
The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Favorite Competition Show
American Idol DISAGREE (so 2008)
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
(I'm all about SYTYCD)
Survivor: Samoa

January 6, 2010

abc's new wednesday

ABC already had my heart with Modern Family on Wednesdays, anything else is icing on the cake. Cougar Town has been a surprising nice addition to my schedule too. While The Middle isn't really my cup of tea, I'm very happy to see Ugly Betty taking its rightful place in the 10:00 slot after lingering far too long on dreaded Friday nights.

As I've written before, Betty suffered some bumps and bruises last season, but season four has come together really well. With some great guest stars (Kristin Johnson!), good balance between Betty's family and work, long anticipated eyebrow waxing, and of course Marc & Amanda, the show seems to be gelling this season. Unfortunately, not many got to see it on Friday nights. If you've ever been a fan of the show, I suggest catching up on Hulu and reserve your Wednesday nights for the foreseeable future.

Tonight, ABC's lineup is all new, and they're bringing out some big guns for the occasion. On The Middle, Brooke Shields will guest star as a trashy neighbor. Modern Family has Benjamin Bratt appearing as Manny's absent papa. And Cougar Town will reunite Monica and Phoebe with Lisa Kudrow playing Jules' snarky dermatologist. All that topped off with a fun crossover - Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson will reprise his role as Betty's lovelorn orthodontist.

In the meantime, check out The TV Addict's great interview with Betty showrunner Silvio Horta where he shares thoughts on last season, Friday nights, and plans for the future.

[Moment of silence for Eastwick, the previous owner of ABC's 10:00 slot. I really wanted to like you, but it just never came together. Sorry they messed up your finale.]

January 5, 2010

the beek on mercy

Dawson's Creek has long come and gone, but I still have love for Mr. James Van Der Beek. He'll always be Dawson to me. Imagine my delite with Ausiello Files reported Beek's upcoming recurring role on Mercy.

I'll have to put my lingering Dawson aside, however, as Beek will play a very different character. Liam West is the hospital's new ICU chief, who's described as cocky, womanizing and manipulative. He will undoubtedly bump heads with the nurses. And according to Ausiello, he's hiding a deep, dark secret and there's even a possibility he could become a regular character.

I almost wrote off Mercy early in the season when it seemed like the show was relying too much on Ronnie's love triangle. I wasn't interested in watching a will-they-won't-they soap opera between Ronnie and her Army doctor at the expense of some good storytelling about the hard work of nurses. Thankfully, a little tweaking brought a greater emphasis on strong patient cases (kudos to Elizabeth Moss for a stellar guest role) and Ronnie's family (especially the perfect Peter Gerety as her father facing Alzheimer's disease).

Although I still can't help thinking of Beek as a teenager, it will be interesting to see how he fits in to the chemistry of the show as bossman to this ensemble of characters, especially the oddly compelling Dr. Harris (James LeGros is doing a great job playing what seemed like a predictable character, who is now becoming difficult to hate).

I hope Beek will bring in some new viewers, so Mercy can get some solid ratings for the second half of the season.

January 4, 2010

adam carolla's unlikely fan (me)

Fresh from a lovely 12-day vacation, it's back to the real world. Luckily, that involves the return of television for a new 2010 season. Midseason premieres, new shows, award shows, new pilot announcements for the fall...it's all coming down the pike (is it pike or pipe?..I never know).

Will little television during my vacation, I spent some down time listening to backlogged podcasts. My new favorite: The Adam Carolla Podcast. I know, I'm even a little surprised myself. At the height of the Jimmy Kimmel/Adam Carolla Man Show and Loveline, I was slightly too young to watch (or appreciate) late night television, but I always thought of Adam as one of those "funny dudes" with a reputation for crass, sarcastic rant humor who popped up from time to time. I recently subscribed to the podcast - which Adam starting doing last year after leaving a long-time morning radio gig in LA.

The podcast - usually daily interviews with various comics, entertainers, etc. for 60-90 minutes - is actually hilariously entertaining. This is based mostly on the fact that Adam is intelligent. Gasp. The intelligence of a host/interviewer is vastly under-rated. Thankfully, Adam tells a good story, gives a good rant, but more importantly, he seems to equally entertain/be entertained by his guests.

I often don't agree with him politically (though probably more often than I would care to admit) and some of his more, shall we say, racially-themed rants make me cringe, but I honestly love listening to this guy. So much so that I'm starting to think of him as a friend. Is that unhealthy? When you starting talking to your iPod, and your iPod doesn't respond...

Anyway, according to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC has ordered a new single-camera comedy pilot starring Adam from Universal Media Studios, BermanBraun and Jackhole Industries (Adam's company with Jimmy Kimmel). At this point, all we know is that Adam will play a recently divorced contractor trying to rebuild his life.

The pilot process is a long and arduous one (Adam tried last year with a comedy for CBS that didn't pan out), but such an early order is a good sign. NBC will pick up 18 pilots this season - 10 dramas and 8 comedies - but only a handful make it to air. I'm really glad NBC is staying the course with the single-camera comedy - ABC has been getting a lot of attention for their recent foray into this format, but NBC really deserves the credit (yea, I said it) for pioneering stuff like The Office, 30 Rock, and now Parks & Rec and Community.

Looking forward to (hopefully) seeing what the Ace Man brings to television comedy, but hope that doesn't replace the podcast. Go on over and subscribe on iTunes.