Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tell Me (Dramatic Pause) You Love Me: I love you and I’m not sure why…

Recently I was skimming through the 500s on my living room TV and I came across the last twenty minutes of a show called “Tell Me You Love Me” on HBO8 or HBO45 or whatever. I clicked on the show and watched for two reasons. I needed a study break and the scene was an awkward dinner party.

Let me just say I LOVE awkward scenes that move along only by dialogue. I love dialogue. I crave witty dialogue. Once I took a screenwriting class and was crushed to hear that dialogue is only an added bonus to the action of the scene, that a writer must lead with action and then add dialogue. WHAT? I want dialogue! I’d take well written dialogue over any well thought action in any form of TV or film. Silence is deadly to me.

So I come across this awkward dinner scene between four attractive young adults in their mid 20s. This was probably another reason I was drawn in… hmm, this could be me in five years! How thrilling! So I watched the remaining twenty minutes of the show. The final fade to black with music and the menacing neon-royal blue “TELL ME (drop a line space) YOU LOVE ME” appeared.

Alright, I think. What is this? It wasn’t a movie, that was certainly no final scene; that was the end of an episode. So I go to OnDemand and find that “Tell Me You Love Me” is a new HBO Series. I then go to IMDb, duh, and find out everything about everyone who is in the show. Interesting.

Then over the next week I ended up catching up with every episode of the new drama series and for some reason finding myself invested in the characters and the problems. The dialogue between the two youngest female leads, Jamie and Mason could not be more accurate, honest, and seductive. As I watched each character develop episode to episode I found myself really drawn to their stories and their lives. I felt invasive, but at the same time I could relate. Well done HBO, well done.

I haven’t felt this way about a drama in a long time. “Tell Me You Love Me” is our decades “Thirtysomething” only a little more raunchy, hip, and definitely more sex obsessed. The show actually only revolves around sex. Which is kind of a shameful thing for me to say after admitting that I’m hooked. But either way, the characters are different and raw and all decently well played. I think this is my new guilty pleasure.

Goulet: That's A Wrap

Last night, Robert Goulet died while waiting for a lung transplant He was 73-years-old.

What does most of our generation know about Goulet? Will Ferrel doing a bad-ass impression of him on SNL. Or that Emerald Nuts commerical where the man himself is sneaking around an office, messing with people's stuff.

But he was a lot more than that. Ed Sullivan once called Goulet, " The American Baritone from Canada." He was the last of the great crooners; suave, debonaire and hansome. He had a TV, thatere resume a mile long. And if I were alive 50 years ago, or if I were suddenly 70, I wouldn't kick him out of bed.

He was classy all the way through. According to CNN, the last words he said before the doctor's put in his breathing tube were, " Just watch my vocal cords."

Goulet. Badass. Now and forever.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A New Branch of Dunder-Mifflin?

Too soon!

For the most part, the readers of this blog know the two of us personally. This means you know our collective favorite show is of course, "The Office."

For me, it's more than a fun thing to watch. This show is one of the reasons I majored in Com Arts, it's the reason my jokes got a little funnier in college, and it's the reason I have to wake up on Thursday mornings. This show is not just my favorite, for the most part, it's the best.

And then, I take a break from work, to discover this. That's right. NBC is planning to make a Spin-Off of The Office. My first reaction? "Noooooooooo."

Why the nervousness? This could go horribley awry. Supposedly, the new show doesn't siphon away one of the main characters ( like Private Practice) but it does infringe on the good name this show has.
And I think part of my reaction is simple jealousy. I've been with the Office from the beginning. I watched it turn from a BBC copycat to a gem that unites everyone in the mediocrity and humor of work-life. Watching it grow-up and get poached for a spinoff is near heartbreaking.
However, I am holding out for hope. I have enjoyed spin-offs in the past. Here's a short list of my favorites.
  • Just the Ten Of Us (Growing Pains)

  • Family Matters (Perfect Strangers)

  • Good Times (Maude)

I could look back on this post a year from now and consider myself the biggest idiot of all time. But right now, I am just waiting with bated breath. Don't fuck this up NBC. I saw what you did to Joey.

Coolio's Not-So-Fantastic Voyage

File this under: "Things That Make Me Embarrased to Say I Love TV." I may have to get bigger folders.

Apparently, lady-friendly network Oxygen just greenlight a series starring former 90's rap star and wacky hair-guy Coolio. The show, titled Coolio and the Gang, follows the OG on the trials and tribulations of being a single parent raising half a dozen teenagers, while trying to start his own clothing line.

If you aren't cringing already, just wait. Oxygen's President of Programming likened Coolio And The Gang a modern-day, real-life My Three Sons.

No flippin' way. I was an avid fan and supporter of Coolio. Then, he had to go and do this to me. If not done correctly, CATG could be an estrogenized,  version of Run's House...but worse. I didn't think it could get any worse. 

Too his credit, reality shows about families can go either way. I didn't like The Osbournes, but House of Carters was a hidden gem. The Coolio family (does he have a last name?) could be dynamic and witty. The show could be groundbreaking....or it could be the remains of Growing Up Gotti rising up like an urban phoenix.

Coolio, if you're reading this, do what you can to get out now. Just remember what you said to a 10-year-old me in your hottest jam to date " Gangsta's Paradise."

"Too much television watching, got me chasing dreams"

Monday, October 29, 2007

DVR Dangerzone

I am back from a week-long trip to my folks' house and I have a week of TV to catch up on. It is a daunting task to say the least. Those of you without DVRs may not know of the regret and sour feelings accompanying backed up shows, but let me tell you, it is only rivaled by the sting of Netflix guilt.

I don't really know how to go about this. Do I watch the shows in order? Do I watch the shows by the day they were on (Last week's Prison Break followed by tonight's Prison Break)? Or do I just settle in after work today and watch all of my favorities?

It's almost too much. It is too much. But this is the type of challenge I have been cross-training for.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm Just Catching Up: Weeds

I don't have Showtime, but thanks to an extended stay at Chateau Mom & Dad's, I've been catching up on my favorites.

Season 3 of Weeds is off to a refreshing start. Nancy and company were in quite a jumble at the end of season 2. Unlike "24" she spent upwards of two episodes trying to get out of the quagmire. For those of you who missed the beginning of 24 this season, we didn't get a chance to see just how Jack survived the slow boat to China. I like it when season premiere's take place two seconds after the season finale ends. It's like they never left.

My only beef with Weeds is that Nancy is never just okay. I know that might make for boring television, but it would also humanize her and make her seem realistic. The show is taking on an out of this world quality. It needs to settle down before it becomes Pushing Daisies.

I am one episode into Dexter as well. So far, all I can confirm is that Michael C. Hall's voice is devastatingtly hansome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Secret About Spending A Life In TV

Last night I went to see Frank Warren, creater of PostSecret, speak at a local bookstore. He was reverent, funny and passionate about the project. I felt a sense of warmth and community just sitting in the room. Sitting in a room of fans, at a concert, bookreading, speech, etc. is a one of a kind feeling. It's hard to duplicate that overwhelming sense of commonality.

I bought Warren's newest compilation, "A Lifetime of Secrets." I thumbed through the pages and searched through the artwork. I was reminded that if I ever turned in one of these postcards, I would be more self-conscious about my chubby-fingered artwork than the secret itself. A few pages in, I saw one that caught my eye. Not the piecemeal collage, or the faded type. The secret itself yelled into my face.

"TV lied to me about how life would be."

Cut out pictures of the cast of Saved By The Bell and Buffy the Vampire Slayer graced the card. Saved By The Bell (and a jillion other teen shows), lied to me too. I think it decieved a lot of small children. We wanted to befriend the principal, play 8 different sports, have a friend group we could constantly pluck romantic interests from, be the class clown. They neglected to talk about the awful parts of high school. Rejection, depression, loneliness. I was ill prepared for that part.

But who is to blame? The good people at SBTB, who just wanted to make money shilling neon green tank tops and giant cellular phones? Me, for believing it was all too real? My folks for setting my brother and I in front of the TV on Saturday mornings while they made breakfast? All of us? I've spent the last 24 hours wondering. Who am I and what have I become, what have I experienced as a result of a lifetime of televison misconceptions? All of this may be crazy, but it made me think.

Mission accomplished PostSecret.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What Happens In Laughlin, Sucks.

Why am I not surprised?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week In Review

Because it's hard to keep up with a 24 hour medium, just ask CNN.

The Next Iron Chef
Food Network's newest competition reality show pits 8 nationally renowned chefs against each other to see who can stand Alton Brown the longest. (Seriously that guy made a living on being everyone's annoying third wheel friend.) It's fun to watch because the people are dynamic, funny and genuinely amazing artists. I prefer it to Top Chef because there are few if any poor dishes. Nothing is disgusting, it's just not as delicious.

Two Dudes Catering
Another Food Network show. I ran out of groceries this week and it shows. This one is exactly what it sounds like. A documentary reality show about two scruffy California guys running their own catering outfit. Their food is classic, clean, comforting. I wanted to eat the crab bake off the screen.

The Next Great American Band
I understand that when something works, you should follow a formula. If American Idol features a critical musician judge, an adorable female judge and a blunt foreign judge, then other shows will follow suit. NGAB takes the imitation to the next level, and it's starting to show. The "tough" Australian record producer judge Ian Dickson (pictured) is abrasive, annoying and generally unhelpful. And Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznick is apparently only good for flicking the whisps of hair out of his eyes.

The hack judges aside, the music is actually good. The very young (a metal band comprised of 13-year-olds made it through to the next round) the old & jaded, and the obscure came out in full force. The diversity is refreshing. I'm concerned Simon Fuller (same producer as Idol) will stifle this creativity and make the qualifying bands perform Whitney Houston songs, or something as lame and crack-laden. Here's to hoping.

What's coming next week? Season finale of Tori & Dean: Inn Love, finding the next creepy pale guy on Phenomenon, and the Scrubs final season premiere. Set your Tivos to stun!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Love Wisconsin

I am traveling back to my homeland tomorrow. Sweet Home Wisconsin.

In anticipation of my arrival and to celebrate the Badgers total domination of NIU today, I am blogging about my favorite shows which took place in the Dairy State. There are more than you'd think.

  • Step By Step : It's not critically fact, it's hard to sit through more than one episode. But that opening sequence with the roller coaster almost made Port Washington look cool.
  • Laverne & Shirley: Before my time, but always funny. That Squiggy was outrageous. If only Shirley never married the doctor. Wishful thinking.

  • Happy Days: My first TV character crush was Potsie Weber. (I'm pretty sure I turned in my "Rights to Blackness" with that one.) Regardless, Potsie, Ralph Malph and Richie had so many awesome misadventures. Things really started heating up when they started trekking to Madison.
  • A Minute With Stan Hooper: Did anyone else watch this show? It was classic Norm MacDonald, (dry, sarcastic, etc). His character Stan moved in to a small wacky fictional town in Wisconsin. Funnier than it looked. Too bad it didn't last.
You may notice a glaring omission from the list. I flippin' hate That 70's Show. Not everyone in Wisconsin is a hippie stoner...just Dane County.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Viva Laughlin: Not So Much

CBS' new musical-drama Viva Laughlin, starring Hugh Jackman, premiered last night. If you've never heard of it, it's like Cop Rock meets Las Vegas. The best part? The whole is worse than the sum of its parts. No seriously, I'd rather eat my weight in the lukewarm, fuzzy pasta gracing every buffet in Laughlin than ever watch this show again.

A few reasons why:

  • I'm 24 minutes in and I have no clue what's going on.
  • The characters sing. This wouldn't be bad except the original vocals are heard loud and clear. It's like an awful duet, or listening to someone sing with the radio.
  • The acting is worse than...well anything else on TV. High School Musical 2 was more compelling.
  • Melanie Griffith. Yikes.
  • Viva Loughlin, a variety show starring Lori Loughlin, (Aunt Becky from Full House) would have blown this show out of the water.

I like musicals and Hugh Jackman. The combination of the two is unstoppable. This was just executed poorly. In case we didn't learn from Coupling, not every BBC show can make the leap across the pond.

I Miss You Old Office

Maybe it's because I'm 3 beers in now. Or maybe it's because the rest of my week has been lackluster. But I am going to say something and I don't care who knows it.

I am falling out of love with The Office.

Last night was charming. It wasn't particularly funny. Or witty. It wasn't quick, it wasn't subtle. It was just...okay. To be honest, the whole thing reminded me of one deleted scene after another.

It's still my favorite show, so I guess you could say I still like it. I just want the old Office back. No sad Dwight, no sappy Jim, no sensitive Andy. Just back to basics.

I love you Dunder-Mifflin. I'm just not in love with you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gimme Less. A Lot Less.

Not only do I use the sleep timer on my TV while I fall asleep, but I use the on-timer to wake up. For those of you not familiar with this device, it's essentially a clock-television. Should my 3 cell phone alarms not do the job, at 6 AM on the nose I am woken up by series of progressively louder beeps and then TBS for the opening chords of the Saved By The Bell theme song. Other than the smell of freshly cooked bacon, it is the best way to wake up.

Last night, instead of setting the TV for TBS, I accidently set it for MTV-Hits, MTV's annoying kid sister that only only plays shitty pop videos.

So imagine my surprise this morning when the piercing beeps weren't the only shrill noise blasting my ear drums. Instead, the first thing I saw this morning was Britney Spears' gyrating pelvis. Color this my worst morning in recent memory.

I don't want anymore of that. No thank you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Channels I Didn't Know I Had: Fox Reality

Welcome to the second installment of Channels I Didn't Know I Had. Tonight, I will highlight the waste of space that is channel 108: The Fox Reality Channel.

The self appointed " premier destination for unscripted programming" airs old episodes of all of your reality favorites including American Idol, Temptation Island 2, and Paradise Hotel.

But don't get me wrong, FR also has orginal content, most of which is hosted by Kennedy. For those you who forgot, Kennedy (pictured) is the four-eyed, formerly frizzy haired VJ from the MTV of yore, (the one that played videos). She also hosted the bitchiest game show of all: Friend or Foe?

Am I being hard on Fox Reality? Maybe. Is it well deserved? Yes. I am a fan of many reality shows, competition and documentary. If anyone would have an appreciation for the network that brings me old epsidoes of Celebrity Mole: Hawaii, it would be me. But this is just too much. The channel is like one really long commercial. And though their web site advertises several shows available, I can only seem to catch the tail end of the Really Awards. A telecast more ridiculous than the VMAs.

So for now, I am advising everyone and their mother to stay away from Fox Reality. Or at least wait until this gem of a show comes on. Then we may have something.

Finally, Truthiness In The Oval Office

Stephen Colbert announced his candidacy for president last night. It didn't exactly send shock waves throughout the media, but there were a few smiles reflected in iGoogle pages of 20-somethings everywhere.

I don't really catch The Colbert Report because I have difficult time watching him so accurately portray a jingoistic, pompous pundit. Regardless of my personal opinions, Colbert brings news and a smile to his throngs of viewers and fans. He must be doing something right.

As for right now, Colbert's only running in South Carolina, his own state. Will it shake things up? Probably not. Hopefully it will expose some of the ridiculousness that is the Presidential Election. Plus, it will make for great comedy and T-Shirts/Bumper stickers along the way.

But if this whole things turns in to Man of the Year ...I'm out.

Proof In A Higher Power

How do you know it's going to be a good day? It's the little things.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Price Is Wrong Bitch!

It's difficult following a man many people grew up with. Bob Barker was warm, paternal in a non-creepy way, and above all sincere. He lasted so long because as much as people wanted to be on the show to win prizes, they also just wanted to be in his presence. The show is kind of boring, the games are classic but not timeless, and the prizes are about as exciting as a sack lunch. Bob Barker was the reason we cared.

Needless to say, Drew Carey has a tough act to follow. Instead of making the show his own, he is going the safe route and just trying to maintain tradition. While he does a fine job, we don't get to see what makes his spark. Carey's humor is dry, quick and pointed. Today's episode left holes for perfect jokes, but he didn't move. It was like watching a snake ignore a bunny with a broken leg.

For example. A crazy lady comes out of contestant row and freaks out. I mean seriously freaks out. The best part? She has a weird nasal, obnoxious laugh/cry and she can't control it. Carey makes no remark. Fine, maybe ripping on the contestants is too pointed for the second show. But when she finds out she's playing Plinko, she reveals a not-so secret fact to Carey.

"Ahh, I have to go potty."

What does he say? What perfect quip does he have up his sleeve?

"Well you have to play plink-o before you go to the bathroom-o."

Where is Drew Carey? He could've said so many things. Anything really.

  • Well, don't pee on the chips.
  • Try to contain your excitement.
  • If only you were guessing the price of Depends
No. He caved. I appreciate his effort to toe the line. But Carey's not going to last 30 years if he doesn't carve out a name for himself. For crying out loud, the announcer got better jokes in. Show some balls Drew! Or did Bob Barker have you neutered before he left?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Samantha Who? In The What Now?

Remember Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead? That was a sweet movie. Christina Applegate did a great job playing a bad-ass teenager with some serious maternal instincts. Now, she's older and playing a bad-ass grown up who has retrograde amnesia. Let me just say, the plot about the decomposing old lady was more convincing.

"Samantha Who" premiered tonight on ABC. The half-hour comedy follows a young woman who is involved in a hit and run, slips into a coma for eight days and comes out of it with retrograde amnesia. Applegate plays protagonist, Samantha Newly (Get it? Newly? Amnesia?). The pilot introduced us to Samantha's parents (Jean Smart is making us laugh again and I love it) her slutty best friend Andrea, former boyfriend and her old friend Deena (Melissa McCarthy, Gilmore Girls) who conveniently rekindled their friendship while she was in the coma. The primary goal was set up tonight as we learned pre-coma Samantha was a cheating, alcoholic, hussy. Eight days in a coma transformed her personality completely, and now she is out to change her ways and be "new Sam." Think My Name Is Earl for the Sex And The City set.

The first episode was quick, witty and pretty fun to watch. But by the end of the episode the jokes were already growing a little stale, and the whole situation is kind of difficult to believe. Christina Applegate is perky and smiley and considering the show's circumstances, it doesn't always make sense. If the writers can make her more dynamic, the show on the whole will be more tolerable. Regardless, if you don't come with high expectations, you won't be disappointed.

I'm Alien to Aliens In America

I am watching Aliens in America for the first time. Usually, I am wrapped up in the never-ending drama of Prison Break on Monday nights. Thanks to baseball, I am killing time on the CW.

This show is a one trick pony, but the pony is kind of funny. The premise in one sentence: A Muslim foreign exchange student comes to live with a traditional family in a small Wisconsin town and befriends their teenage son.

As you can guess, every joke is rooted in the "comedy" of American stereotypes. For instance, when the family's daughter Claire tries out for the cheerlading squad (Nice local touch with the team being the Muskies BTW) she is denied because the captain doesn't want the squad to "...look soft on terror." Like Borat, the humor is focused at stereotypical Americans as opposed to the exchange student, who is usually the moral compass. I get it, but you can't build a long-lasting sitcom off of it.

There are a few redeeming factors to AiA though.

  • Amy Pietz, (Caroline in the City) plays the Mom, Franny. Pietz is from Wisconsin and her accent is convincing without being heavy-handed.
  • Scott Patterson, (Gilmore Girls) is dad, Gary. I wish the writing was as snappy as GG, but it's just nice to see him keeping busy.
  • Small-screen fresh face Dan Byrd plays Justin, the aforementioned teenage son. Byrd's dialogue is witty and familiar. It seems like he'd be friends with everyone. Plus he's got a charming baby-face, even at 21.
I'd love to say I'd watch Aliens in America again, but it will never win in a fight against Prison Break. (They have shanks!) But for those you not addicted to all things Michael Scofield, you should give it a chance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week In Review

Things I just couldn't blog about fast enough.

Pageant Place
How about that? Hot girls living in a house together (pictured), sharing secrets and getting in to bitchy fights. MTV is all about innovation. We haven't seen a show like this in three hours. On the upside, by virtue of the show, the girls are a bit more dynamic than the usual ladies of music television.

Ugly Betty
Did anyone catch the following in last week's episode?

  • High School Musical's " Get'cha Head In The Game" during Justin and Daniel's basketball scene. Nice cross promotion Disney.
  • Marc's (Michael Urie) hot plaid outfit
  • Betty singing...almost to Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart."
  • James Vanderbeek is guest starring next week. I don't wanna wait for that!

The Office
Something is a little off about The Office. I'll be happy when the 22 minute episodes are back. There is just too much slack in the long ones. 15 minutes about Michael kidnapping a pizza boy? I call bullshit. If it weren't for Andy's acapella rendition of ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me," I would've fallen asleep. The one liners can't be the only thing that keep this show going. It's not Family Guy you know.

I am excited about next week. We will have a lot of things to talk about. Amy Finley's New Show, Christina Applegate's comedy Samantha Who and maybe I'll finally watch/write about Bionic Woman. We'll see.

Steinbrenner Leaving The Yankees: The TV Perspective

George Steinbrenner is reportedly giving up control of the New York Yankees and passing it on to his sons Hal and Hank.

What will I miss about the Steinbrenner era? Nothing. Except of course, Larry David's charming impersonations of him from Seinfeld.

This scene is one of my favorites. Feel better heartbreaker. Enjoy your golden years.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

3 Things About Private Practice

3 Reasons I'm Starting to Like Private Practice:

  1. Grown-Up Drama. No more he-said/she-said. No more "I love you even though I'm married." The people seem real. Their problems aren't pathetic.
  2. Interesting Medical Stories. The medical aspect of the show isn't forgotten. I appreciate the time and care the writers room is taking to think of maladies that are out of the ordinary but not too far-fetched.
  3. Solid Acting. I know my love for Paul Kellerman (Prison Break) is no secret, but he is not alone in the "pretty good actor" category on this show. Tim Daly (Wings) was pretty convincing in his role as the angst-ridden widower tonight. (How's that for grown up drama?)
The more I watch it, the better it gets. My fear? It will betray me like Greys did. I don't want to compare the two because it's like dating siblings and constantly bringing up the other one. However, if you're brother's a jerk, then chances are, you've got a little in you as well.

I'm going to give this show a chance. But the second it starts to turn on me, I will cut it out of my line-up faster than you can say Lost.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kid Nation: Religion Royale!

I tried to avoid writing about Kid Nation again, but after another truly fascinating episode I have to lift that ridiculous moratorium.

If you're not watching KN get off of your tower of moral superiority and check out the last honest show on TV. Yes, it's edited and the yes the children are lead to act by a fake pioneer journal created by the shows producers, but the kids' thoughts are genuine and honest. They're children, so the lack of self-censorship provides some of the most insightful television available.

Tonight's episode was no exception. Religion was on the docket and who knew kids were so passionate about their faith. The subject came up at a meal and the children quickly divided between Christians and the self-appointed "Jew Crew." Later, when the topic of a Bonanza City-wide religious service came up, many were up at arms. They thought religion bred conflict, they wanted to worship in denominational groups. The town council tried to hold the service anyway but no one came. Instead, a few children from assorted religious groups held a prayer service before bed. Nothing made me laugh/smile more than one kid crying after the prayer when he learned non-Christians prayed too. It was adorable and sad that his parents and faith leaders back home had failed him so poorly.

Tonight's episode also highlighted just how pervasive alcohol conventions are in movies, other Tv shows and contemporary America. Tonight, Cody, a 9-year-old from Ohio was missing his girlfriend (a whole 'nother issue) so he went to the saloon to,"...drink some rootbeer and get it off [his] mind." Cody later decides to leave Bonanza City and his best friend on the show cries for awhile, then does a few shots of Root Beer. I know exactly where they're picking this stuff up, but I just don't remember knowing all of this stuff as a kid. I knew what shots were, and we would do chugging contests with milk or orange juice but nothing like these guys. I wonder what shift in society made some of these conventions so pervasive.

Just throwin' it out there. I love this show, because you can take it really seriously and think of things like that, or just take it at face value and laugh at Jared.

And for our fan or two out there, tonight's episode was so awesome, both of us will be discussing it. Stay tuned for the other half!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Ladies of Deal Or No Deal Get "Injured"

So the Deal Or No Deal ladies did a reenactment of The Office.

It's not that bad, but when you're copying one of the best episodes (The Injury) of one of the funniest shows in recent history line for line, how can it not be?

See for yourself.

Wishing Away The Impending Writers Strike

The Writers Guild of America has network executives shaking in their fancy shoes as a possible writer's strike draws closer.

[Insert some sort of "pen is mightier than the sword" joke here.]

Neither the writers nor the studio heads are budging on the issues (benefits for reality scribes, more pay-out for DVD profits, etc) and the WGA contract expires on October 31. From the looks of it, it's going to be a scary day on all fronts.

Networks are stockpiling scripts of popular television shows. Should a strike occur most of our favorites should be safe through January. But if the strike went on for a few weeks, or closer to a months, the shows would be replaced with news magazines (20/20) and game shows. Not exactly must see TV. The strike could also affect mid-season and fall pilots.

I think the WGA's demands are worthy of a fight, however, it's depressing when audiences and some of our favorite programs are just collateral damage. I don't want networks to have an excuse to make more reality show drivel (MILF Island anyone?). I just want everyone to get along. But you know writers...things can't work out that easily.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Channels I Didn't Know I Had: TV One

Thanks to Comcast, I have digital cable for three months. Hot. The best part? I have a channels that I don't need or watch. From now until November (when I have to give the box back) I will be profiling one of these oft-forgotten networks every week.

TV One is a cable channel targeting African-American adults. They feature entertainment, business, financial and other lifestyle programs.

It's not only refreshing to see the African-American sitcoms I used to love that either never made it, (Wanda At Large) or were gone too soon (Hangin' With Mr. Cooper). But I enjoy the original programming as well. New show, Baisden After Dark is a late night variety show that also discusses controversial issues like pornography's influence on society and fatherhood. There is just no place else to see this stuff or anything like it.

And sometimes it's just nice to see people who look like you on TV, especially in commercials. It's admirable that corporations want to advertise to the Black community, and invest in TV One. But it's disheartening that I can't see these ads on broadcast networks, or even basic cable.

All in all, my day with TV One has been great. I may keep this one in heavy least until November.

If I Love America's Most Smartest Model, What Does That Make Me?

America's Most Smartest Model got it right. The new reality series on VH1 doesn't take it self too seriously, but they found a group of people who do.

The show pits 16 co-ed models in competitions to prove who is not only great at posing, walking doing model-y things but also who can spell the designer brands they're doing it in. Having guys and gals in the house is a great twist that doubles the drama and great out of context quotes. (Sassy model Jesse is going to get his own show out of this. He's flippin' hilarious)

The contestants are smarter than you'd think. Most of them have have bachelor's degrees from pretty good schools and one is working on his dissertation. They are a pretty credentialed bunch and their portfolios are pretty impressive. One guy, Pickel (his last name) has worked with GQ, Acura, and all sorts of high class brands.

But nothing compares to Andre (pictured). Hailing from Russia, Andre is the one of the only non-Americans on the show. He is passionate to a fault, but it's comic gold for the rest of us. He went on a rampage about how modeling is a higher calling than acting. I quote:

I live in Time Square. I have a $6000 apartment. I have a rare dog. I have a gorgeous girl. I'm here for one simple reason: to prove [to] people that models aren't stupid.

If he had said, "and I drive a dodge stratus!" It would've sealed the deal. I don't know about you guys, but I'm only 1/3 through the first episode (it's 90 minutes) and I'm hooked.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Prison Shows: Or Why I Should Probably Get Out More

Since I started grad school I have had a weird obsession with prison documentaries. I don't know if the two are related or not. Maybe I empathize with people who are locked in to the system, and can't go home anytime they choose. Or perhaps I'm just super lame now and I have spent more Saturday nights at home, primetime for jail shows.

I started with MSNBC's Lock Up. This series profiles life inside America's most dangerous prisons. Each episode takes us across the country to a new correctional facility where we learn about the gangs, the worst offenders, the food, the homemade shanks and what happens once people leave. Now, MSNBC is doing extra episodes at San Quentin. The series, Lockup San Quentin: Extended Stay, discusses everything you always wanted to know about this place. There is even a whole hour dedicated to the conjugal visit, and trust me, those things are a lot different than you'd think.

Last night, I watched a similar series on the Discovery-Times channel called Locked Up. (I guess prison documentaries are running short on names.) This series profiled inmates at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana. From what I can tell, this program only has three episodes titled, "Settling In," "Doin' Time,: and "Getting Out." Each one provided insight into life in Dixon. It was surprisingly more interesting than expected because in Louisiana, every prisoner is required to do hard labor. The show followed new arrivals on their first trip to chicken processing plant. Yikes. One guy almost threw up from the smell. In a different episode, workers who earned trustee status were highlighted. Their jobs included training and grooming horses on a ranch and working as a custodian at the state office buildings.

These documentaries not only showcase an intricate system that most people know little about, but it also humanizes a population that is too quickly forgotten and/or brushed off.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Week In Review

A few of the highlights from this week in TV...basically things I forgot to mention or didn't have time for.

-Pushing Daisies was superb. It was bold, romantic and very funny. Ned's (Lee Pace, pictured with Anna Friel) sincerity is so refreshing. I had forgotten how many conniving, vindictive and genuinely annoying people there were on television. Ned and the rest of his cast of quirky characters reminded me that I shouldn't lower my expectations.

-Degrassi premiered last night on "The N," Nickelodeon's solution to teenagers. This Canadian teen drama is in its 7th season and last night's episode featured teen drinking, a blind date, threats of violence via podcast, a visit to a graveyard and oh yeah, a stranger rape. These kids are seniors in high school. More happened to them in 55 minutes than my entire 4 years at JMM. The show's tagline " It Goes There," has never been more true.

-Prison Break is off to a good start. If you're not into it now, it may be too late. DVD it...pronto.

That's all for now. Next week should be sweet with new shows on MTV and Discovery Health. Hot!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Five Days

Miniseries. Let the phrase sink in for a second. You probably think of crappy westerns, drawn out biopics, or on the other end of the spectrum, something like Roots. After catching the first part of one today, I have renewed faith in the genre.

HBO's Five Days is the all-too-realistic story of a mother, Leanne (Christine Tremarco) in the UK who literally vanishes from view while her young children wait in the car. The kids, ages 7 and 5 take off in search of her with the family's new dog tow. The series follows not only the shocked and grieving family members, (including the woman's bratty daughter from a previous marriage), the local press secretary, the police, a kidnapper, and an up and coming journalist.

The five episode series covers five days in the disappearance of the young woman and her children, jumping from day 1 to 3 and then 28.

I am hooked after the first installment because of the show's subtley and truly innovative format in the wake of so many formulaic crime dramas. David Oyelowo plays Matt, Leanne's husband, with more complexity and compassion than I've seen on TV, even HBO in a long time. Watching him stare silently into the eyes of that police officer set the tone for the rest of the series; intensity, fear, vulnerability. It was truly phenomenal.

Five Days will run every Tuesday night at 8 Eastern, and anytime you want On Demand.

For more information, check out this great review from The New York Times.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

America F*@& Yeah!

Ugly Betty star, America Ferrera, was named Hispanic Woman of the Year by Billboard Magazin and the Hollywood Reporter.

I am an Ugly Betty convert and I must say, any award Ferrera takes home is well deserved. However, her honor brings other issues to the surface.

The award is meant to honor Hispanic women in film, television and music. Sadly, when I think of all of the TV I watch, and its a lot, I can only name a few other Latina women with lead or supporting roles. The short list includes:

  • Salma Hayek (Producer, guest star, Ugly Betty)
  • Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives)
  • Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
  • Rita Moreno (Cane)
4. I'm know there are more, but it's sad that I can't make it through one hand. The addition of Cane, to the fall line-up helped , but it didn't put the problem to bed.

Representation is an issue for all people of color, but this is even more unsettling due to the growing Latino/a population in our country. Is it too much to ask for our TV characters to catch up with quickly shifting U.S. demographics? Judging from the list above, apparently it is.

Congrats America.

Rolling Out The Red Carpet: Special Olympics China

I am a sucker for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I like the pageantry, the culture, seeing all of the delegates in funny hats, the giant ribbons and scarves, the fireworks, the lights. It's like th best parts of holidays smashed together in a ball and then stretched out again like silly putty.

With the summer games just under a year away, I was contenet to suffer in silence, longing for the days of vividly colored performance art. But when I tried to tune into my daily Gilmore Girls rerun on ABC Family (I guess you're not alone EK), what did I discover? The Opening Ceremony of the 2007 Special Olympics. Color this the best day of my week!

The games are in Shanghai this year and the opening ceremonies are just as big a spectacle as the traditional ones, if not more. I've been watching for 34 minutes and I've already seen a giant gold dragon; Jackie Chan yelling " Niiiiiiiiii Haaaoooooooo" (Hellllllllloooooooooo) to the tens of thousands of people in attendance; Quincy Jones reading from a flash card 8 inches from his face; a woman rocking on a nylon boat held up by volunteers posing as wave; and a music video about all of the countries represented that looked like a Nike commercial.

But seriously, don't let my sarcasm fool you, this is one of the best Opening Ceremony's I've seen, and I'm not alone in this sentiment. I am truly excited about the rest of the competitions. This will tide me over until my TV returns to China next summer. This is going to be a tough act to follow.

My Not So Secret Obsession With "Greek"

There are a few cable stations that I try to avoid. I'm not big on Spike, not really emotionally in tune with Lifetime (however Oxygen has its wide array of acceptable programming...sort of), and I'm certainly not interested in the Sci-Fi channel. Among this list used to be ABC Family. I'm not 12, so that was obvious.

However, with the recent addition of "Greek" I've eased up and started tuning in. "Greek" is your typical sugar-coated show about college life, specifcally about Greek life on campus. It's funny to me though, because there's something different about Greek and I think it's in the relationships. The stereotyping makes me woozy and definitely makes the show a little more ridiculous, and a little less worth watching. But, for some reason, when it's on I watch it.

Here's why:
- there are a number of funny, subtle references that are appealing
- the characters, albeit a little melodramatic tend to be pretty realistic and funny
- the plot progresses
- the representation of greek life is very humorous, and even more so when realistic
- the music's really good
- there's a kid who plays a hardcore southern, religious type... that's always good for TV
- cappie's pretty hot and a good character

I'm sure the other half of this blog will consider resigning when she reads this, but I've got to admit, if you're interested in a little young adult love drama (shaking my head with each word), then check out Greek! Hey, the pilot's free on iTunes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First Impression of Better Half

Bravo's new reality game show, Better Half, isn't going to work. The show pits two couples against each other. It's best described in letters. Couple 1 = A&B Couple 2 = C&D

A & C are both experts (In this episode, they are both chefs)
Their job is to teach their spouse or girl/boyfriend how to cook.
B&D then compete against each other. (Each of them is cooking for 20 people)
A panel of judges decide which person is the "Better Half." How punny!

Unless Bob Eubanks is hosting, game shows about couples don't last. Even funny shows with built in tension won't make the cut. Anyone remember the show Things I Hate About You? That's what I thought.
BH has potential, but the good stuff is lost in Susie Essman's (Jeff's wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm) color commentary. We're watching all of the " Now do you see what I go through?" moments and then it cuts to her blabbing about scrambled eggs. She's too funny to be a host/moderator on a show like this. I'd rather have the participants talk to a camera in a "confessional" set-up. Their sentiments would be a little less filtered.

I want this to work out, but if you want to see Better Half, I'd get in on it before it makes the leap to webisodes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Creep House

I like to catch episodes of Full House when I come home from work. I've seen all of the episodes at one time or another, but today I caught one that was so obscure and so, dare I say, inappropriate, that I needed to share it with the edubTV public.

  • The plotline was simple:
  • Danny feels old.
    • (He's 33, more about this later)
  • The intern at Wake Up San Francisco finds him attractive.
    • (She's 21 and in college)
  • He asks her out on a date
  • It's awkward, so they break-up.
    • (But not before this gem)

Michelle (to the intern): Are you here to play with DJ?
Danny: No Michelle, she's here to play with me.

This episode is creepy on a few fronts. First, if Danny is 33, then he was married and had DJ by the time he was 20. How do I know? In this episode, DJ is graduating from middle school. Second, what kind of sleaze dates the station intern? Not the Danny Tanner I know and love.

America's Next Top Model

America's Next Top Model is BACK! You may think it never went away, as I did, when everytime I flipped on VH1 or MTV there were reruns of the past million plus episodes. But yes, have no fear, TYRA is back on her game. What can I really say about the first few episodes? I did love that they brought on a girl with a serious disability, which they play up as much as possible. classy. And when Chantal (practically identical twin to Trishelle from RW: Vegas...dirty) cried because the view from their house was too pretty not to. Hmmm. Also, when Mila couldn't stop laughing hysterically when seeing her "cancer look". yes, mila, that's hysterical. thankfully...spoiler...she got the boot! I love Jay saying she just couldn't connect with the true emotions. Sure Jay, that's it. But my favorite moment of late comes from the wonderful "hoochie" scene in which Tyra tries to differentiate between sexy and hoochie. yep, that happened. It's gonna be a great season!

Monday, October 1, 2007

While My TV Gently Weeps

Tickets to see Hannah Montana, (played by Achy Breaky offspring and not-preggers Miley Cyrus), live in concert are sold out across the country. One ticket to a show in North Carolina recently sold for over $2,500, causing the VP of the tour company to claim the hysteria over Miley and the "Best of Both Worlds" tour is " like the Beatles."

I don't care how fast your tickets sell out or how much greedy soccer moms sell them for on eBay. Until your albums are timeless, or you effect change through a few chord changes and simple ditties, or at least until you do a lot of drugs and grow a are not like the Beatles. Don't even bring bring them up for comparison.