Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Everyone watch Modern Family at 9pm on ABC tonight! I hope it's good, I just want to encourage good ratings for it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

FLASH! (ah-ahhhh)...

ABC's highly-anticipated new cerebral drama Flashforward premiered last night, starring Joseph Fiennes and John Cho. And some people from Lost and Coupling? And Gabrielle Union? The pilot was likely an unfortunate sign of things to come, that is, a mediocre execution of a story with an impressive conceit. For those of you who've missed the omnipresent advertising, the show takes place in the aftermath of a worldwide blackout during which every human alive had a 2 minute and 17 second vision of what they will be doing exactly six months into the future (ahem...during sweeps week). This raises the obvious questions of how and why this happened, and the more philosophical ones of what people do when they know the future -- if they can change or prevent what they saw, and if they should try.

I'd read before watching the show that the initially catastrophic results of the blackout - traffic collisions, plane crashes, medical emergencies - would be quickly glossed over before the lead characters (FBI agents stationed in L.A.) embarked on their investigation of the event. This was a mistake, I feel, because that could have been an incredibly exciting idea to explore for a couple of episodes. Of course, Flashforward is often compared to Lost, whose pilot did have all of the excitement that last night's episode lacked, but I would point to Jericho as an example of a cataclysmic tale which started out with a bang and then was canceled in such short order that it didn't have the time to stick to the pacing its premise needed. With a built-in six month time period before we arrive at a conclusion we've seen already, I worry that the show will be rushed, like later-season Alias.

A coworker and I were discussing the show, and agreed that the writing was disappointing given the intriguing concept. There was a lot of exposition, and the characters didn't react to the phenomenon in a very realistic way. Among a group of a dozen or so FBI agents, about half recalled noticing the date on a calendar or newspaper or something in their vision. Do you think that 50% of the population is observing the date at any given time? It just felt odd that everyone would figure out and then accept the fact that they'd glimpsed the future. Wouldn't the leading assumption be more to do with a chemical terrorist attack and a communal hallucination?

I will say that, at the end of the episode, when one character glimpses a clue while researching security footage, I was genuinely chilled by the creepy scene. It was enough to keep me watching for a few episodes, because I do want to know the "answer" to the show's question, but I hope the writing improves so I don't stop caring halfway through the season like I did with Fringe.

Of course, the other obvious question to ask about the show has to do with what happens after the big "reveal" in April? Surely the creators have planned what a potential second or third season would deal with. My coworker's astute guess is that they will have another flashforward, and I think this is the most logical answer. For some reason, this all just makes me want to go back and watch The 4400 again. They have exceedingly different premises, but man was that show good.

Flashforward airs Thursday nights on ABC at 8pm.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Comedy: 5, Laugh Track: 0

ABC's new half-hour sitcom Modern Family premiered last night, and it was even funnier than I had expected. I always am more prone to like a comedy that's single-camera, and laugh-track free, but last night's episode packed joke after joke into this format. A lot of very dry one-liners, interspersed with absurd cutaways make this show land somewhere between Arrested Development and The Office (UK). More towards the latter, though, in tone.

One facet of the show is an older man and his beautiful younger wife raising her son from a previous marriage, the delightfully passionate Manny. Another is a a wife, haunted by memories of her wild-child youth in terms of what it means for her 15 year-old daughter and two younger children, trying to balance out her husband whose constant obsession with being the cool dad brings embarrassment to the whole family. Finally, there is a gay couple who has just adopted a Vietnamese daughter. The one trait that unites all of these parents is that they are all just trying so hard and their efforts are always aimed squarely next to the mark.

I really really want people to watch this show. Not only do I think it has the potential to be a consistently funny refuge from the multi-camera drivel that dominates the sitcom ratings, but I think it is a wonderful thing to have a more accurate representation of what an American family looks like on TV. We all love Mad Men, but most families do not resemble the Drapers, for good or for ill. I wish I could convey in this review the nature of more of the show's jokes, but I'm afraid without the proper framing, my retelling would fall flat. Modern Family airs at 9pm on Wednesdays on ABC, and you can watch the pilot on

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Season Partial Review

I'm trying to take account of which shows whose fall seasons have premiered, and I have yet to write about. There are some shows which haven't aired yet (30 Rock, Flashforward, Modern Family, Dexter), but which I intend to watch, and as for Bones, I want to watch, but only if my TiVo remembers to suggest it for me, as I prefer that show à la Law & Order: SVU, which is, whenever I realize it's on, instead of following the whole season. The shows I have seen...

Bored to Death (Sundays at 9:30 on HBO)
Underwhelming. There wasn't much that appealed about this show except for the adorable Jason Schwartzman, and there wasn't a whole lot else I liked other than him once I watched it. I do hope they'll use Zach Galifianakis to his full potential, and Ted Danson carries no interest for me, but I'll try a couple more episodes to see what happens when Schwartzman's character starts taking on more cases.

How I Met Your Mother (Mondays at 8pm on CBS)
The show's latest season premiered last night, and it was a mild, if welcome episode in the vein of some of the series' less experimental episodes. The Robin/Barney relationship took a satisfying step towards a "real relationship," and we were once more tantalized with the reveal of the Mother (though I've heard that will be held for the series finale). Ted as a hapless first-time architecture professor was enjoyable to watch, but I hope for more from Marshall and Lily as the season goes on.

House (Mondays at 8pm on Fox)
Last night's eagerly-anticipated two hour season premiere was really all it was cracked up to be. After last season's hallucinations and Dr. House's Vicodin addiction reaching a fever pitch, the episode opened with him drying out and then followed him through his inpatient stay at a mental hospital. The episode boasted a wonderful guest starring role for Franka Potente, some of the finest camera work the show has had, and an excellent performance from Hugh Laurie. It was very cinematic, and certainly a diversion from the typical House formula, so I am eager to see how next week's episode will transition our antihero back into the world of Princeton-Plainsboro.

Gossip Girl (Mondays at 9pm on The CW)
Somewhere along the way last season, this show lost me. By the end of season 1, it was my obsession, my religion. I relished the ridiculousness of it, but season 2 seemed to drag on and hardly ever got interesting. It's now my "save it on TiVo and catch it at the end of the week show," as high school shows that go to college are hardly that exciting thereafter. I snoozed through most of the season premiere and haven't watched last night's episode, but I'll let you know if it gets good.

The Biggest Loser (Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC)
This here is a guilty-pleasure "game show" (if you can call it that) for me. What can I say? I love being heartwarmed! My interest in inspirational sports movies has proven this. The season's second episode will air tonight, and I look forward to seeing the contestants after they've made some progress, and after one of them has returned from the hospital. My parents and I all cried last week when one of the contestants shared her story about losing her husband and two young children in a car accident, and yet none of the other contestants' sob stories were at all devalued. This show fulfills for me what Extreme Home Makeover used to back when it was new.

America's Next Top Model (Wednesdays at 8pm on The CW)
Another show that my interest in is waning rapidly. I actually considered auditioning for this season, wherein the girls are all 5'7" or shorter, but I now think that if I ever had to be in a room with Tyra I would lose my mind and start fighting people or something. This season has almost no drama, except for a few disaffected girls for whom life is always difficult, but I got rid of my Season Pass last night. Maybe I'll catch a marathon on Oxygen some day.

Parks and Recreation (Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC)
Another show that I record and then watch when I have the time. The first season was lackluster most of the time (I simply do not get the Aziz Ansari fervor of all of my friends), which was disappointing, but given Greg Daniels' history, it seems smart to continue to pay attention this season, as The Office started out even more disappointing. This season's premiere, in which Leslie Knope accidentally becomes Pawnee's gay icon when she marries two male penguins in a fake ceremony at the zoo, was smarter than a lot of what the show has given us before, and I am hoping the show becomes more than just quirky characters plus a thin premise, because those characters would be well-served by some more substance in the stories.

(Thursdays at 9:30 on NBC)
While I am a fan of Joel McHale, host of The Soup (Fridays at 10 on E!), and frequent guest of the Adam Carolla show/podcast, I was certainly expecting more from the pilot of his new sitcom, co-starring Chevy Chase. I think it suffered in the way that a lot of smart sitcom pilots suffered, trying overly hard to establish character, mood, and situation, in 22 minutes, and falling flat on most counts. But I will definitely continue to tune in as it does seem like it could end up a more rewarding sitcom than most.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Thursdays at 10 on FX)
I don't need to say anything about this show. If you get it, you love it, and if you don't, you probably hate it. The season premiered last week, and I will continue to try to get as much of this show as possible. "Wildcard, bitches!" (Note: that is not a line from the latest episode, but is still one of my favorites.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

XOXO, Michael Scott here...

The sixth (can you believe it?) season of The Office premiered last night, and while it wasn't one of the series' stronger episodes, it was instantly rewarding to have my well-loved characters back on screen. The episode started off with an excellent cold open in which Michael, Andy, and Dwight demolish the office while trying to film their own parkour stunts. Jim had an awesomely smug line, saying, "Parkour is all about getting from Point A to Point B as creatively as possible, so yes, what they are doing is parkour, if Point A is delusion, and Point B is the hospital." (paraphrased)

Michael Scott was in fine form in last night's episode, obnoxiously trying to ingratiate himself into each of his employees' lives and relationships. Hearing the interns' rumors about Stanley having an affair, he accidentally discovers it to be true, but doesn't realize that spreading this news about the office is a bad idea until Jim tells him so. In trying to cover his trail, he spreads rumors about every one of his employees throughout the day. The rumor that Andy's gay makes him think he might in fact be gay, sending him to Oscar for advice. I sometimes forget about Oscar's character, but when he bemoans his role as counselor to "insecure heterosexual men," he reminds us why we love him.

The rumors fly, that Toby is a virgin, that Kelly is an anorexic,* and that Dwight buys store-bought manure. Oh, and that Pam is pregnant! Of course, she and Jim have been trying to keep this under-wraps, but when they realize it's just a rumor, they end up revealing the truth to the office as a means of protecting Stanley's secret. While this type of reveal was clever, I thought they could have done more with coworkers speculating about Pam's pregnancy, but I hope they'll have a lot of fun with what happens now that everyone knows. Maybe Jan will come back to compare baby notes!

The episode was lacking in big laughs, and veered a touch too close to the bizarre that alienated me a few seasons ago when Michael drove into the lake. We all love Creed's wackiness, but him asking, "if I can't SCUBA, then what has this all been about?" was a little too out there for me. It did have some good quips though, such as Ryan's instantaneous reply to Pam's pregnancy announcement, "Don't vaccinate it!"

*Intern, thinking Kelly was an anorexic: I'm so glad you're eating again!
Kelly, unaware of the rumor: Me too!
(I love Kelly.)

The Office airs Thursday nights at 9pm on NBC.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost as appetizing as Julie & Julia

It would be wrong of me to pretend as if I am impartial towards the newest animated offering opening this weekend, Chris Miller & Phil Lord's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I don't want to go into too much detail about my job on this blog, but as I work for Sony Pictures Animation, I can't quite gloss over that detail. However, this film was completely wrapped before I even applied for a job here, so I can promise that I had nothing to do with its creation. In fact, the first time I saw a trailer for it was before seeing Up in 3D the weekend before I came to work at SPA.

I had a chance to attend the cast and crew screening of the film earlier this week, and I intend to save any spoilers for after the movie's release. But I want to express how pleasantly entertained I was by a movie I knew practically nothing about before seeing it. I must have missed the boat when I was a kid, having never heard of the 1978 children's book by Ron and Judi Barrett which the film is based on. I'm told that there are many differences between it and its adaptation, but I was extremely grateful for Clone High creators Miller & Lord's absurd elements throughout.

Primarily, the movie is a really fun time for kids, and one I think is much more enjoyable in 3D. I am still new to seeing things in 3D, and while wearing glasses over my glasses for over an hour is not exactly my idea of a good time, it added so much depth and richness to an already visually stunning movie. The colors are so highly saturated, and the frame so filled with action, 3D helps to sift through the mise en scène.

As someone with a pretty absurd sense of humor myself, I was entertained the whole way through, by some excellent sight-gags, a few jokes at the movie's own expense, and a lot of acknowledgment of what kind of a ridiculous movie you're at, so that parents and teenagers would not be bored by a kids' movie. THERE ARE CATS SINGING PUBLIC ENEMY.

I took my mom to the screening with me, and I don't think she was all too eager to see a 3D kids' movie, but she laughed the whole way through, and I think was very impressed.

Please take your kids to see this movie, and even teenagers and wacky adults will find a lot to enjoy in this movie.

On a personal note, sitting in a huge audience filled with the 500 animators and technicians who created the movie, raucously applauding their years of work, was very touching. Even though I am a recent addition to the company, I felt very proud, and felt like it was "our" movie. Also, there is praise of nerdy, bespectacled girls in the story, and I had to love that!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Season Six!

Close on the heels of Jeanine's (disappointing) win of the last summer season of So You Think You Can Dance, the show's first fall season premiered last week. The format was much the same as it's been, the season starting with "open" auditions, last week's in Los Angeles, which were filmed during last season's "Top 20" weeks. It was wonderful to see tapping featured, as I think it is one of the great classic American dance styles, and (like most dance), considerably harder than it looks.

Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman were annoying as always, but I won't really have too much to say about the season until we get down to the top 20. I just wanted to check in and remind everyone that, for the next few weeks,

So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesday nights on FOX at 9pm.

This is not going to go well...

Very belated, I would like to share a few thoughts on this years "most anticipated new show," Fox's Wednesday night addition, Glee. I quite liked the pilot, when it aired at the beginning of the summer, but I wasn't really sucked in until the second episode which aired last week. Glee is created by Ryan Murphy, who brought us Popular and Nip/Tuck, and a lot more of his biting humor was present in the second episode than in its PG predecessor.

The adult roles on the show are Will Schuester, played handily by Matthew Morrison (whom I recognize only from an episode of Ghost Whisperer that I watched by accident) as a passionate and optimistic loser. He has a lot going for him, but many obstacles between him and happiness. One such obstacle is his neurotic wife Terri (played by the always-welcome Jessalyn Gilsig - another Nip/Tuck presence), whose financial woes, hysterical pregnancy, and controlling behavior make me wonder how she and Will ever got together in the first place. I think they were supposed to be high school sweethearts, which just makes it even more tragic.

In stark contrast to Terri, there is Will's coworker Emma, the school's obsessive compulsive guidance counselor. The adorable Jayma Mays (Heroes! Ugly Betty!) is wonderful in this tight-lipped but hilarious role of the girl who's hopelessly in love with a married man, but adult enough to know better.

Will's ultimate foe is Sue Sylvester, as played by Jane Lynch, whom I want to accompany me everywhere in my daily life, I am such a fan of hers. She is absolutely wicked to the core, and brings her negative energy to her job as the "Cheerios" cheerleading coach. As the school funds are balanced precariously between her team and the fledgling Glee Club, her one mission is to bring Will down, but I think he is hardy enough to hold his own against her. Sue also has about 90% of the show's best lines, and I heard Jane Lynch (who is a wonderful improviser) say in an interview that she never feels the need to improve on the script.

The kids are, frankly, less interesting. Our main girl is Rachel, who is awesome. She's played by Broadway star Lea Michele, who originated the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening, which I think is inspired casting. She's so much more talented than most of the primetime teen show actors, and her voice is incredible. Her character is such a hilarious exaggeration of an archetype that it's just like a giant wink to the audience the whole time. She's desperate to become famous, and in her mid-teens, feels she's almost too old for success (embarrassingly, I totally empathize). She'll be ruthless in her pursuit of fame, but is dealing with nerdiness, insecurity, and a desperate crush on Cory Monteith's Finn, the bumbling jock with a bitchy Cheerio girlfriend and a wonderful voice.

The other kids in the show are just cookie cutters, and I really think that this needs to be worked on. Mercedes, the plus-sized black diva; Artie, the paralyzed nerd; Tina, the stuttering Asian-American Hot Topic customer; Kurt, the effeminate gay kid; and Quinn, the Christian blonde Cheerio who is Finn's girlfriend. There is pretty much no depth to these supporting characters beyond their stereotypes, and if any one of them is going to get fleshed out, it is likely to be Quinn, which I think is a disservice to the rest of the diverse cast.

I am very excited to tune into the show's third episode tonight, which I think will feature more of Gilsig. Also, I would like to remind everyone of last week's best exchange (paraphrased):

Emma: Rachel, are you throwing up in there?
Rachel: No.
Emma: Then what's that next to you?
Rachel: The girl who was throwing up in here before me left that there.
Emma: Rachel...
Rachel: I tried throwing up, but I couldn't! It's like I have no gag reflex or something.
Emma: You may find that comes in handy later on.

I hate to laugh at bulimia jokes, but I do anyway.

Finally, if you are wondering about this post's cryptic title, I am worried about this show. It is unique, and hilariously well-written, and has a rabid fan base. And it's on Fox. If that network does to this show what it did to Arrested Development, Firefly, Futurama, and Family Guy (for a time), then I think many "Gleeks" will be very disappointed. It's currently on just before SYTYCD, but in a few weeks, that show will be switching to a 2-hour format, so where will that push Glee? Friday night at 10pm or something horrible, I'm sure. I am not optimistic about it's chances if it moves around without a solid lead-in.

Glee airs Wednesday nights on FOX at 8pm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pain Don't Hurt

I feel it's important to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Patrick Swayze, who at age 57, succumbed to his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday evening. To most people, he was Johnny Castle, the hardened dance instructor and love interest from Dirty Dancing, or Sam the clay-covered spectre from Ghost. To others he was the inadvertently comic tough guy from Road House or Red Dawn, and in later life, he may have been a joke to some.

Patrick Swayze was a wonderfully talented dancer who managed to parlay his skill into a decades-long career as a film and television actor, with roles that will be remembered long after his death.

Like most girls, I will remember him as Johnny the most. I loved his performance in Donnie Darko, and will always cherish To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

I'll end this on a half-joking note. I think Swayze had a sense of humor about himself, and I promise that my intentions are good, so I will wistfully say...

Patrick Swayze: He's like the wind.

Uh oh.

Today's sign I'm getting old: I fell asleep during Gossip Girl last night. The season premiere of Gossip Girl. Gossip Girl, you guys!

Seriously, just let me get through this week. I want to write about Glee, True Blood, and all the week's premieres! And the latest Mad Men which was awesome! Ack!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Blog! I have not abandoned you. It is just a ridiculously crazy few weeks at work as I am helping my boss get everything wrapped up before she heads out on maternity leave. Hence, the dearth of recaps of individual shows lately. However, as new shows are coming back now, I promise I will get back into that as soon as things slow down. Also I finally saw Julie & Julia and owe you a review. Soon, friends!