Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Beginning of the End

About to watch (but not blog) live. Yes, live. As in with commercials. As it airs.

Because I <3 style="font-style: italic;">Lost that much.

Will probably not blog about the episode until late tonight or tomorrow morning when I get a chance to do a second viewing, as I'm going to be running out the door the moment the episode ends (10:02pm) to meet someone for much-needed alcohol (but as my friend does not watch Lost, there will unfortunately... or perhaps fortunately... be no discussion).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Non-Fierce Wednesday

Sigh, no Project Runway this week.

Anyway... Idol. A thought occurs. Has Paula ever said "no" and Randy and Simon said "yes"? Because I feel like she's always sending people through to Hollywood when the other two judges disagree. And little else. Anyway... Miami was pretty uneventful for me, dawg. Syesha Mercado had a big voice... there was the requisite Shakira look-somewhat-a-like with big hoop earrings... and OMGYOUGUYS remember American Juniors LOLZEEZ girl.

Lost: The annotated "Through the Looking Glass" got off to a bad start for me (not the episode, the annotations). Um... why not save telling people that the non-Island stuff was a flash-forward until later? Why blow the wad in the first 5 seconds (why not wait for one of the later flash-forward sections, and point out things about technology that wouldn't have existed pre-crash, for instance)??? Not to mention the annotations for the rest of that scene (I'll tone this down as I watch... hopefully the pop-ups won't be as terrible throughout)... "Jack looks troubled" and "Looks like a bumpy ride, but Jack doesn't seem to mind." Really, annotations? REALLY!? Okay, it looks like the annotations get a bit more informative once we get to the Island (and even have pop-up images to show what character is being talked about as the annotation explains the context of what's going on). Also they develop a sense of humor... somewhat. Bad call not annotating Charlie's brief flashback to Desmond telling him about the images surrounding his death at the Looking Glass station.

BWAHAHA, someone needs to put the Sawyer character promo set to "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood on YouTube. If you missed it, it started at around 9:54pm. Hi-freaking-larious. The 10:46pm Locke character promo set to "Crazy" by Patsy Cline was just "a'ight".

... goddammit, "Through the Looking Glass" is such a fucking brilliant episode of television...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday TV

Idol: Okay, even if he hadn't figured the words out, the judges would have to be real tweedledumbasses to not let Jason Rich through. Maybe no immediate star quality, but a gorgeous voice. Not quite as "aw, shucks" as the season's other singing farm boy (Drew Poppelreiter). I absolutely love that girl who accidentally said she was going to be America's Next Top Model. Angelica Puente's voice has amazing range, I hope she can develop her own sound by the time Hollywood rolls around. And Randy recommended mirror time to the rocker guy (how can you be a rocker without, er, stage presence/persona?) Can't remember the name of the girl, but whoever sang Norah Jones... I liked it, the show needs a good, jazzy voice in the mix.

House: OMG, I've been waiting for this episode for months (and there are only two left...) What does the post-Survivor format look like? I'm watching now... no new opening credits? Sad day. They're credited as "Also Starring". Interesting. Also... Christmas episode? Oh, Fox scheduling department... oh, Preston Beckman... oh, writers' strike. Anyway... House went to talk to the patients' daughter really quickly (for him). I persist that I don't give two shakes of a fist about Ministud/Taub. Where the heck are Cameron and Chase, goddammit!? The show needs to figure out a way to include them. So, this whole episode is basically House fucking with his new team in order to make sure they're always on their toes and always looking over each others' shoulders and questioning each others' diagnoses (and I absolutely love that Thirteen sees through his bullshit and wants to drive him nuts). Smart, but... eh? Hah, Jennifer Morrison's lone scene is a mit-out-sound montage.

The preview for the not-supposed-to-be-post-Super-Bowl-but-post-Super-Bowl episode looks gimmicky... man, I wish they'd gone with their two-parter idea instead of making some mechanic at the South Pole into Izzie Stevens (preview basically has him drilling a hole into Mira Sorvino's head).

Nip/Tuck: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ugh, the opening consult (newlyweds trapped in car during honeymoon resort to mild cannibalism because one has hypoglycemia)... wow, I'm sorry, I think this may be my last episode of this show. BWAHAHAHA! Okay, they just saved their bacon with that "We're CAA" bit. They do look like they're CAA... except, um, no, the assistant does not walk with the agent. The assistant stays in the Death Star while their bosses go to poach clients since said talent's agent is under the knife (would I be terribly surprised if this were based on a true story? It's CAA... so nope!)

Wizard's First Rule

The Hollywood Reporter has an article about Sam Raimi re-teaming up with the Xena/Hercules people to do a weekly syndicated fantasy series based on Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" cycle, and it will be called Wizard's First Rule (which is the title of the first book in the series, and the only one of the books I've read... I know people who've read through the cycle, and they basically told me that the first book is the best, the second book is good, and from then on it's just Terry Goodkind preaching morals and ethics).

Despite any potential misgivings about the source material... I'm all for this. I miss me my (good years of) Xena. Not that WFR will have that kind of camp value or subtext, but still.

And if Sam Raimi can't get one of these weekly syndicated fantasy series up and successful, we'll know once and for all that the format is dead.

... now I have "Jockser the Mighty" stuck in my head.

MEANWHILE, I'm still eagerly awaiting George R. R. Martin's "A Dance With Dragons" from the "A Song of Ice and Fire" cycle (which has, through four books, been hands down the best fantasy I've ever read... if you haven't read the first book, "A Game of Thrones", get thee to a book store). It was announced what seems like a year ago that David Benioff was going to adapt the entire "A Song of Ice and Fire" cycle for HBO, with each book comprising a season (for seven planned seasons). Of course, that's made more difficult with only 4 of (again, planned) 7 books published, and continuous delays of publication of the next installment.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dear The Simpsons

Never, ever, EVER do a flashback episode again.

Tonight's sacrilegious affair did point out the inconsistency of the long-held canon that Bart was conceived while Homer and Marge were just out of high school (despite, again, as noted in the episode Homer and Marge being near-40 and Bart being perpetual-10).

But that's where the semi-accolades stop.

I know the show has been around almost two decades so it can be a real stretch on the space-time continuum thing... but for those of us who've been with it since nearly the beginning (and those of us to still hold much of the series's mid-90s work to classic, pedestal status) don't mess with the show's rich inner history. It's a betrayal. Please continue with the premise that despite not aging, the characters move forward in time with the rest of us (and the politics, pop culture, celebrities, sensibilities, and technologies of the day). Don't deprive us of Homer being a little kid during Woodstock, his mother being an outlaw for her hippie ways, and Homer and Marge's beautiful late-'70s high school courtship. Among other things.

And while you're at it, please note that Semisonic's "Closing Time" came well after Nirvana. So... using it as background / sweetening music in a montage before Homer apparently invents grunge music doesn't work. However the parodies of Nirvana and Bush songs were nice.

Seriously, though, now that the series is so old that flashing back to just before Bart was born puts the series after the start of its run... just don't do it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Having now caught up on The Wire (through last Sunday's episode), what's really impressed me about the three episodes to far this season is the show's ability to service a truly astounding number of characters while connecting stories that chart back through the first season... plus seeming to bring the second season back into the fray! Beattie (Amy Ryan)! The Greek!

In that spirit, I must ask... where are Prez and Bunny?

Man, season four still brings tears to my eyes.

Ugh, I've spent much of the last few days in seclusion (a combination of attempting to finish work on some projects and strike-inspired antisocial...-ism? -ness?). Plus my ratings source was sick and thus I wasn't getting nationals, meaning nothing to report. Hopefully I'll be getting stuff on time (not to mention waking up on time), since I'll be posting the prelims at PIFeedback.com for Marc Berman while he's in NATPE (fingers crossed).

Moving on to this week's TV (bottom line: not enough to tide me over through a hopeful-May/probable-September). Seriously, I looked at what's scheduled to record for the next 10 days (most shows are in repeats/skips this week... how much can I not wait for Lost's return???) I'm this close to recording Lipstick Jungle on February 7th simply because it'll be on...

Anyway, I'll probably miss some stuff, so... forgive me?

Friday Night Lights: You know, I don't post thoughts on FNL enough. The 2008 string of episode have really been so back-in-form that I (sorta) haven't missed the football games. Nice to have volleyball and some good, fun Tyra action in this episode. And how much fun is Matt Czuchry as something other than a Huntzberger? Not sure how many episodes are left... wonder if we'll actually be able to see any real fallout from Smash not eating his episode-title-humble-pie. He apparently attended the Ben Silverman school of how to talk to journalists.

Chuck: What can really be said about these two episodes except... Chuck, I'll miss you most of all (now that you're out of episodes). Come back soon! Please?

Ugly Betty: Gene Simmons can't be Amanda's father. It's way too easy (although, very, very, very fun to have "It's Mandy, Bitch" rocking out with the IRS). Not that we should really put stock in what any TV psychic played by Annie Potts has to say, but she did say "the kiss will lead [Amanda] to [her] father." So... where was Gene taking our Mandy? I couldn't care less about what Wilhelmina's sister's secret is. And someone needs to remind the writers (when they return) that Betty has a family, and they used to have plots of their own.

Big Shots: It's over. I'm pretty sure I can delete it from my FauxVo/TiFaux's fake Season Pass.

Make Me A Supermodel: The reviewer at Zap2it.com misses the point of the show's title. The "Make" isn't about the judges creating a supermodel (and while there was no instruction in this episode, they did have runway sessions in the first two... they also had the good-to-know measurement system to track fitness). The "Make" is about the viewer vote. Though I do agree on the point that the show is too slow moving and we don't get a real look at the "characters" (as I noted last week, I get it because of the rush-job the show's post-production schedule requires... it would be too difficult to include non-task related stories from the time between putting wannamodels up for elimination and the elimination ceremony). Man, if Frankie (tres annoying, no?) were up for elimination this week, he'd be so very gone. I sincerely hope that Jay leaves this week because I like both Aryn (she is part of the hilarious extra-marital Ronnie/Ben/Aryn sandwich... oh, dear, I wonder what Ben's wife thinks...) and Holly (in the words of Roxette, she's got the look).

American Idol: Zzzzz. What a terrible week of auditions. "Limited" by the one-hour running time each night, the show failed to feature much real talent, and the "freak" portions weren't even that terribly funny (more of just terrible). Ordinarily I'd be really happy about Idol's ratings decline... but not so much this season (no, I don't have money on it... yet...) With Idol no longer breaking 30 million viewers, it points to really, really bad signs about broadcasting television in general. We're pretty much guaranteed a post-strike world were the networks act more like cable and ordering precious few pilots to series (ordering, perhaps, more scripts of pilot scripts they like before giving the series order) and far smaller writing staffs on shows (so, yay to being a baby writer). Though, perhaps, a new development system will help Hollywood inch closer to being a meritocracy instead of a place where the shit and the gold both float to the top (and you know it does in the current system). I'm getting away from myself here... and with my foot squarely secured in my mouth.

Project Runway: Oh, Ricky. You cry even when you're complimented. You should've been booted episodes ago. Anyway, do we hear me complaining about Victorya getting auf'd?

Nip/Tuck: What's really left to say about this show? I wasn't even aware the show had set this episode up as a "we're going to kill someone" episode. So the (I guess) fake-outs with Julia's illness only bothered me inasmuch as they were just... blech. Shame the bring Gina back for two episodes (and to only have her serve as a plot device to wedge in between Christian and Julia) and kill her. Although I was definitely surprised by it. And a bit put off by the over-black "This is love" echo.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh, Oscar

Oh, my, something to distract me from the strike! And what a something!

Loving that the Oscar nominations fell head over feet for the deserving Michael Clayton, which managed to be completely ignored by the Golden Globes (blech, anyway) and by the American public, thanks to an odd release date and possibly the least engaging title ever for what turns out to be an incredibly engaging movie.

Also, take a look at this:

Sound Mixing: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, 3:10 to Yuma, Transformers.
Sound Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, There Will Be Blood, Transformers.
And you wonder why people get the categories confused (let alone know what either job is)!?

Cheers:
- Juno goes into the Oscars as the biggest box office draw of the Best Picture nominees. Gotta love the division of/schism between art and commerce.
- Despite being ignored elsewhere, Once is nominated in the original song category for "Falling Slowly" (swoon).
- Hopefully Amy Adams will perform some of the three nominated songs from Enchanted. Would love to see the special, Oscar-telecast staged version of "That's How You Know".
- Lots of love for Rataloutille all over the place (except it's relegated to Best Animated Feature, and can't crack into the Best Picture race).

Jeers:
- Double nominee Cate Blanchette gets Best Lead Actress love for Elizabeth II, a role she won the Oscar with years ago, but for a far worse film (and it wasn't really adding that much to the previous performance). I'm fine with her nomination for Best Supporting Actress in I'm Not There... but spread the love! The only nominations E2 should've gotten where in the artsy technical categories (which it would deserve, completely, since it was a beautiful-to-behold film). Despite my issues with the second half of Atonement, I'm surprised to see its two leads (James McEvoy and, especially, Keira Knightley) shut out. Or, even better, how about a nomination for the, er, enchanting Amy Adams?
- Surf's Up in the animated feature category... what of The Simpsons Movie? At least it makes it easier to only have to try and decide between two films: Ratatouille and Persepolis.
- A nomination for Norbit!? NORBIT is an Oscar-nominated film (for Make-up)!?!?!?
- Only one nomination for Charlie Wilson's War? This was a fantastic film. Sorkin doing what Sorkin does best. At least they got the nomination right... Phillip Seymour Hoffman stole every scene he was in.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breaking Bad

Even having watch the premiere now, I still don't know how I feel about this show. Bryan Cranston gets to shine... but it's a dramedy that plays its comedic moments with the speed of a straight drama. And I don't know about investing in the show. I feel like it's trying to be a "kinda different" version of Weeds, but the Showtime show is much better paced (as a dramatic half-hour comedy, rather than an occasionally-comedic hour-long drama).

A talk with my parents

I spoke with my folks today about the WGA strike. It disturbs me that the outside world must surely share their view, as their opinions have been formed by mainstream media. Those opinions are:
- The DGA deal is a good one for writers, because it is a deal.
- Should the WGA negotiating committee not be able to hammer out a deal with the AMPTP now that negotiations seem to be back on the horizon, the WGA is on the verge of being busted because countless members are going to break off from it (go fi-core, though they don't know what it means).

In truth, the DGA deal may be a decent one for directors, I can't judge.

However, any real advances they made (specifically "distributor's gross") are because of the writers going on strike. In a universe where the writers hadn't gone on strike in November, the DGA does not make nearly this good a deal.

As for what the WGA gets now? Yes, the DGA deal will be a template used by the AMPTP in negotiations (which will hopefully be in good faith). At least they're talking however I've seen this effective union-busting technique before, and I'm not fooled by it. Am I cautiously optimistic that the WGA and AMPTP are talking? Hell yes. Am I at the same time worried that this is another feint by the AMPTP to send the WGA membership on a rollercoaster, giving a brief moment of "OMG, there's hope on the horizon" only to pull the rug out from under us by not negotiating in good faith (although with the exception of union-busting, there is no longer any financial reason for the studios to not bargain in good faith with the WGA... the overall deals have been severed, development slates are being cut down, some of 2009's features are starting to feel the burden).

Anyway, whatever the WGA gets now is primarily because we went on strike, and not because of the DGA deal.

Should there not be a deal made (in a timely manner), though? I don't see this ridiculous massive fi-core split. I don't know a single writer contemplating it. I don't know anyone who knows anyone. I don't know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone. Somehow, John Ridley going fi-core has let the mass media spin it out that there's a schism or giant contingent in the WGA that will do the same, when the truth is simply that a lot of writers (specifically, and as reported in the trades and media, a group of showrunners) are voicing their concerns to the guild leadership that a deal be made. Because if it's not made in this coming negotiating session, then there's no chance of getting anything else out of this TV season and pilot season (as diminished as it is) will be forfeit. It's TV writers "pressuring" the guild and the reason should be self-evident.

But the guild can't fold and take the DGA deal. It doesn't work for writers. They can't take just any deal, especially not after a hard-fought eleven-week(-plus?) strike. The deal has to work for writers and it can't be a bad deal. The WGA made a bad deal in 1988. Once burned, twice shy. And in this New Media fight, the WGA (and its membership) should know that making a bad deal isn't going to help the industry because if the WGA makes a bad deal, come July SAG will be on strike. It's not like we're going back to work without a stoppage for the next 20 years provided just any deal gets made.

At this point, though, I'm not sure what a "great" deal for the WGA looks like... I don't even know what a "good" deal looks like. The question I really have is... what will settle the strike? What deal terms? I'm excited to see (because I want to get back to work).

Which my parents understand. After I explained it to them. But I worry that because of the perception the media has been putting out there (DGA deal should be taken by WGA, WGA strike had nothing to do with DGA getting a good deal, WGA may break if no deal is made), if the WGA does not make a deal... the massively pro-WGA public opinion, a war that the WGA actually has been winning, will start to wane.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There was something on TV besides football?

The Amazing Race finale: The finale already!? Ugh, they need to run this series twice a year. Anyways... without spoiling it (sort of?) the least objectionable team won. It was difficult to watch this season's finale because I wasn't actively rooting for or against the whole of any of the teams.

Breaking Bad: Haven't watched yet.

Sigh, no new Brothers & Sisters until February 10th (and then the last one on the 17th).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hm

Saw Cloverfield last night, so too tired(ish) to do a full recap of last night's TV that I watched (basically... Ugly Betty good, Big Shots quite a bit of fun when in the Duncan and Brody storylines).

I'm a bit disappointed that Make Me A Supermodel skips right from the end of one episode with elimination at stake to 4-5 mornings later when one of the wannamodels is eliminated. I want to know what they do in the interim! Although that certainly would make the process of editing the show together harder (having to find stories over 4-5 days of non-eventful filming and cut 'em up and stick 'em on the air in under two weeks). I guess all they do is shop, eat, and work out? Anyway, this week was makeovers, and it didn't exactly have the flair and craziness of a Top Model makeover episode... which I think is actually good because it wasn't changing the models to Tyra Banks' evil whim so much as it seemed to be about helping the models (only one went completely away from her natural hair color). The weekly/episodic measurements are definitely the show's most unique point (other than having the elimination at the top of the episode... which they string out to like 5 minutes... ugh... what at are they going to do for the finale?) The weight/inches gain/loss in various areas and the reminders to lose weight/inches healthily is good... but without showing the viewer the interim days between putting models up for elimination and eliminating them, we don't actually get to see how/why these people are gaining/losing weight/inches.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

DGA makes a deal

Alright, the DGA is done. Now let's see this deal's terms, see if they can help bridge the gap between the AMPTP and the WGA (and SAG), and get back to the negotiating table.

I'm hesitant to get too optimistic are near-future progress. Remember, part of the strategy of union breaking in the time of a strike is causing a rollercoaster of emotions... hope, despair, hope, despair, etc.

Some terms of the deal can be found via this DGA fact sheet.

My thoughts...

- New Media jurisdiction... a given necessity. So yay. The exceptions seem acceptable, but then again I have no idea what things like the Lost: Missing Pieces clips cost to produce so... I can't weigh in legitimately on that stuff.
- Electronic Sell-Through... I think the WGA is going to want more than what the DGA got on this, as it's only slightly above the DVD rate (and the increased rates only kick in after a certain number of downloads). I think the WGA will still ask for more because this isn't as important to the DGA as it is to the WGA, as many members in the DGA are ADs and do not receive residuals. I've no clue how many copies of even the most popular series are downloaded, as that information has never been released (for instance... even though Gossip Girl episodes are constantly the top downloads on iTunes TV Store... how many copies are being sold?)
- HOWEVER... payments for EST are based on distributor's gross. That is essential (and the AMPTP told the WGA it needed off the table before negotiations could resume was also accepted). It seems as though the "Fair Market Value" provision that the AMPTP wanted to do away with is in the deal as well, as the DGA will have access, through this deal, to financial data.
- Ad-Supported Streaming... that should be acceptable to the WGA. The WGA wanted, I believe, a three-day free streaming window before residuals kicked in, while the AMPTP wanted a six-week window. Seventeen days is pretty much in the middle (and the 3% rate is actually more than the 2.5% WGA was asking for... though the DGA seems to have agreed to a flat rate based on time the program is available to stream, while the WGA had proposed a tier-by-viewing-levels system). The extra week for new programs actually does make sense under "promotional use" thinking.

I'm sure there's plenty of fine print in the actual contract document that isn't summarized, so all of this is "on first, surface blush" reaction.

The DGA deal of course doesn't have anything about reality or animated directing... the DGA already has reality directors in its union (i'm 99% sure). Not sure about animation. Those two jurisdictional questions, the WGA has said, are not blockers to a deal in case they need to be taken off the table (and under proper organization, those writers can become part of the WGA through other ways).

Crap, I'm optimistic.

...

And with the AMPTP statement including "we invite the Writers Guild of America..." rhetoric, sigh, I wonder if the PR war of words is really over.

Idol Auditions night two

I find it interesting that, for me, the many of the impressive featured auditions have been hot white, blonde women (especially in light of the ranting Faux Leia at the end of last night's premiere... but she had gross arm hair and couldn't sing, so who cares).

But I have to give my props to the standout, for my anyway, of the night, which was farm boy Drew Poppelreiter. Cute, polite, innocent, and a nice country voice. I hope he goes far, despite the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of country music. So precious! While I think Simon was right about a lack of "wow" in the performance, it was so simple and smooth that I would've been really disappointed with a "no" for Drew.

Pissed Auf

Okay... I have this to say about Project Runway: it is completely unfair that Ricky remains in the competition while Kit is eliminated. Yes, I know, the buck stops with her because she was team leader, but week after week, Ricky produces poorly constructed, poorly designed garments. Cut him loose already!

Meanwhile, I am totally on board with Team Fierce.

And I really have to question Victorya and Jillian, who constantly complain about stress and lack of time management skills, but still produce the work they wanted and that the judges clearly liked. You may think you don't have time management skills, but the truth is, you just create things that take a long time to get right and thus come together at the last minute so it seems like poor time management. If you can rock a pair of outfits like those out in 2 days... yeah, it's gonna be stressful. But you get the job done. Poor time management would be if you were caught by the camera crews lounging around and not working.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Final National Ratings for Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Posted here.

Preliminary National Ratings for Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And Idol under performed my growth speculation expectations. Still the biggest entertainment series on TV, but it opened at a far weaker 33.24 million viewers and a 13.8/32 in the demo. Color me moderately surprised!

As for people saying Idol has peaked... that all depends on the contestants. If there's a group as entertaining, likable, and electrifying as season five's Top 12, it could rocket back up. Not that I necessarily want the Great Ratings Beast to not finally be on the decline.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's baaaaaack...

American Idol is back!

Since there's, well, nothing else on TV I want to watch (until Nip/Tuck, but that's after the show), I'm actually watching the auditions. Accursed ongoing strike!

Ratings predictions? Last season, it arrived to its biggest opening ratings (averaged 37 million-ish viewers and almost a 16 in the demo), coming off of one of it's highest rated finales. Last season's ratings dropped heavily from there as the contest went on, which leads some to speculate that Idol will not be back as strong this season.

I'm not one of those. I think, especially for the audition phase, the ratings grow every year as people across the country become more interested in the spectacle and the car crash sensibility. Plus, there is nothing, nothing else of interest on television right now (to young people, anyway, I'm certain NCIS and Comanche Moon will have around 14 million viewers, the bulk of them 55+).

I say Idol nears an average of 40 million for Tuesday.

Thoughts on the singers... I have to say I've never understood any of the bad contestant's willingness to audition. It just doesn't make sense to me. But enough about the train wrecks... Certainly some quality in the bunch (though I've learned to never make predictions based on the audition phase, because you don't get a good look at everyone). Still, Kristy Lee Cook was something (to look at and listen to)! Very nice vocal control.

Fashion question time! On Day 1, what was with Ryan's "Monarchy" T-shirt? And Randy is now sporting a goatee?

Also... dear show: Philly is no longer "The City of Brotherly Love", it's "The City that Loves You Back". D'uh.

... not much to say about Nip/Tuck except it's HI-LARIOUS that Sean brings Gina (crazy, HIV-positive, sex-aholic) in to be the new receptionist (after Christian is, er, attracted to the previous one). Also HI-LARIOUS? She says she just passed her (California) real estate exam... and her character on Friday Night Lights just left Dillion because she passed her (Texas) real estate exam! <3 it!

Final National Ratings for Sunday, January 13, 2008 and Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday finals

Monday finals

Monday, January 14, 2008

Night Two

So, Sarah Connor kicked butt in the prelim ratings last night. Sunday finals will be available in the morning tomorrow to see how much the show gets brought down, if much at all (since the half-hour didn't have a drastic drop) because the show ran from 8 until 9:02.

Anyway, the second episode / the post-pilot episode aired tonight and here are some brief thoughts (other than, damn, it's the only show I'm watching on Monday nights).

- I like the intro that leads into the title. Quick, easy, gets you pretty much up to speed, and has nice explosive fireworks and effects from the pilot.
- So long as the narration from Sarah is kept to a bookend, like it was in the pilot, I'm cool with it, as it does help pull focus to the central issue.
- Summer Glau is a rock star. The scene where she mimics the Latina chick leaning on a car's grill? Inspired.
- It really says something that David Nutter directed this episode. He's got an amazing track record for directing pilots and then they get on the air... but I don't recall many series that he opted to direct again.
- This episode is physical-action (and physical-effects) heavy, and special-effects light. I expect that to be par for the course. The speed of the scenes definitely helps with keeping the action-packed feel of the pilot. Some nice stunt work going on.
- Meanwhile, John Connor is an idiot. Seriously, I think he's the new Kim Bauer.
- My god, they redressed, I think, every inch of the Warner Bros. studio lot.
- Headless Chet was cool.

In short, this show is the exact opposite of Bionic Woman (despite a supposed almost million dollar difference in budget, plus BW shot in Canada for a little bit of extra bang for buck). It has emotion, it has story, and it has "wow".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Night TV

The Amazing Race: This has been one of the funnier episodes of the season in the first 10 minutes anyway. Random confessional/interview with Nate and Jen talking about "no more nice Nate and Jen" (which, um... okay...) then Jen can't pronounce Taipei and then Nate says that they don't know much about Taiwan, except that they like Thai food. Y'think!?!?!? Also, the road block? The person who does it is driven underwater for 17 seconds and has to hold their breath (naturally) so Phil describes as "if they are still alive when it's over, they'll receive their next clue." Yes! Yes!!! Kill Ron! The tea place thing... man, the Asian legs have been to Christina and Ron's advantage (her knowing Japanese and them both knowing Chinese). Anyway... with Nate and Jen gone... I'm conflicted. I'm not actively rooting for any of the teams. And I have no team to root completely against. SIGH. Also! What's with the show doing away with the Super Leg? Huh? WTF!?

Sarah Connor Chronicles: Too long since I've watch the original pilot to recall the tweaks. I seem to remember the school shooting scene to be more violent, but, well, I understand having to tone it down a bit after the Virginia Tech shootings last year. Obviously the show needed to use Summer Glau (and scenes she's in from the last three fifths of the pilot) to promote the heck of the thing, but it does make the "reveal" that she's a terminator (even if a friendly one) less impactful (IMHO). Now that it's been pointed out to me, it is very strange that she starts with a flawless impersonation of a weird teenager, but as soon as she's on the road with Sarah and John, she's... well... robotic. I really do love the idea of a Terminator time portal appearing in the middle of the 101 (I think that was the 101 anyway...) I think the last 2 minutes were new material, they definitely helped with my question of "okay, but what is the rest of the series?" after the massive reset button that was the pilot (well, in the sense that you know the agent guy is still after them). Eager to see what the series looks like tomorrow (with its massively reduces budget).

Family Guy: ... ugh, there just aren't words to describe how bad that way.

American Dad: Um, that (an American Dad parody of spy films, with the character playing various stock characters) should've been brilliant? But it wasn't. But it was waaaaay better than Family Guy.

Brothers & Sisters: Nice, frothy fun. An episode fairly like last season's "Something Ida This Way Comes" in that it was sort of an airing of issues, tied up a couple loose ends, unraveled a bit... but not that much in the eventful department. And I'm happy (if Holly is telling the truth) that Rebecca asked the question I was thinking during the episode about her mother's mysterious friend. I don't want Rebecca to not be a Walker! That ending was interesting... but you know that Isaac had something to do with Robert's competition dropping form the race, which is going to create wonderful tension between Kitty and Nora. Ugh, only two episodes left! And the next one airs... when??? My DVR doesn't have it as new next week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Final National Ratings for Thursday, January 10, 2008

Never got Wednesday's finals. Shrug!

Anyway... Thursday's posted here.

No stellar debuts for Celebrity Rehab and Make Me A Supermodel. Grey's Anatomy shockingly (somewhat, anyway, given the quality and word-of-mouth trajectories) performs below Desperate Housewives' final episode... though they're in different weeks, so Grey's will certainly be the top scripted program this week in the demo (unless Sarah Connor Chronicles is a surprise smash).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Night TV

30 Rock: Eh. 30 Rock, like most comedies, really needs writers on set to do punch-ups. The underlying story in this episode was there, but the things that really make the show sparkle weren't. Awkward musical number at the end...

Ugly Betty: Fun, but a little on the nose even by this series' standard. Why was Hilda at the Fashion Week show this year? School chaperone? The Amanda/psychic plotline was a hoot, though. Gotta love me some Becki Newton. And I wonder if Marc stroking Christina with the mannequin's arm (to comfort her, ostensibly) was a shout out to Pushing Daisies. Probably... right? Also, Justin is taller than Betty now.

Grey's Anatomy: Wait, this episode was about faith? Oh. Totally missed that...I honestly expected to care more about this episode. I think I've really reached the point in my relationship with Grey's where I really want it to be fun and entertaining again, but the show seems to think I want lots of melodrama and anvil-y metaphors. There's nothing new coming out of this show, it's running on fumes. I want the interesting patients and different facets of their lives that reflect various doctors lives in different ways. I want for the show, when it does go for grand, soap-operatic strokes, to do it in surprising ways and to surprising results (though I do understand that seeing George and Callie trying to make it work is too much repetition of the Derek/Addison/Meredith plot). Hopefully when the strike is over, the show will figure itself out. Now that Meredith seems to have, finally and at long last, broken things off with Derek (didn't she do that at the end of last season?????) maybe she'll have an appreciable, understandable, non-wishy-washy story that will help carry the rest of the characters' arcs... or at least give us a seasonal theme (that isn't George's "I want to be that guy again"). Although I'm intrigued by Callie/Hahn. Because despite Hahn telling McSteamy that if they didn't work together, they'd probably "y'know"... I, and I think everyone else, have my lesdar on high alert.

Big Shots: So the secret is out... Charisma Carpenter is Janelle, Brody's wife from hell. Thoughts?

Make Me A Supermodel: I'm not sure how I feel about the show, as far as whether I'm hooker or not... but DAMN that must be a bitch to produce. Filming and editing within the week of airing? Certainly more impressive than what America's Next Top Model does (filmed months in advance... and also, I think, much harder than slapping together a live show because of the time crunch... oh, those poor non-union story editor slaves). Still, that "throw a piece of yourself (aka your clothing) into the fire... and by the way I'm encouraging you to basically strip" thing reeked of fraternity hazing / initiation ritual. I really dig the weekly measurement taking thing. One, because I want to know what some of the males' measurements are (er, for comparison's sake...) and two because I think the show is actually going to make a point about being healthy (for instance, the photographer in the first shoot mentioned how Jacki was bone-y... yeah, she was!) I wonder if they'll post the measurements online. Not sure how I feel about the voting process... but that could be because I'm on the West Coast which means if I deigned to vote for anyone, I would have to watch the show within an hour of its first airing. I suppose we'll find out on next week's episode why they need it to be done so quickly (my guess is they wake the person up early in the morning and that person needs to leave ASAP... though at the same time I wonder if the show is going to spend any time with the models between when an episode finishes and when the results are announced... the production of this show is what really intrigues me).

The Weinstein Company

Don't have details, but apparently The Weinstein Company has come to an agreement with the WGA.

Here my question... unlike Worldwide Pants, which only has two late-night shows on television, and unlike United Artists, which is currently strictly in the film business, The Weinstein Company produces reality TV (i.e. Project Runway).

So... what does this deal mean with regards to the WGA's jurisdictional issue (they want reality writers in the union)?

2007 Recap: Travis Yanan's Favorite Episodes Recap

Honorable Mention

Nos. 50-41

Nos. 40-31

Nos. 30-21

Nos. 20-11

Nos. 10-1

2007 Recap: Travis Yanan's Favorite Episodes (10-1)

10. Bones, "The Knight on the Grid" (originally aired November 20, 2007). This episode is one of the primary, “strictly as a television viewer” reasons I need this strike to end (although my savings account is certainly a bigger factor, ultimately). The show jumped back to the Gormogon mystery in full force in this episode, dispensing with the usual opening teaser sequence of Booth showing Brennan a corpse and them quipping over it. Nope, this episode was all about action, twists and turns, murders, secret societies, conspiracy theories… the list goes on. Also, Dr. Sweets becomes useful (and stands out as an obvious red herring choice) in the investigation, which revolves around the team figuring out a pattern to the Gormogon killings. Also Brennan and Booth’s car gets blown up with them inside it. And the team winds up not just solving murders, but also actively trying to prevent thing, in the form of a despicable Washington lobbyist who is part of the Knights of Columbus. And they find a completed Gormogon skeleton in a mausoleum with different teeth marks than the one they’re constructing, so there was another Gormogon who killed, like lots of people in the past. And Booth and Brennan find him (an aptly named Arthur Graves), a toothless, quiet, evil old coot in a nursing home. Who hisses at Brennan when she tries to talk to him. Creepy! Also creepy was his toothless smile as Booth and Brennan leave. Not to mention the cliffhanger ending that, I hope, gets picked back up in the three original episodes remaining when they come back in (ugh) May. This is, of course, involving the lobbyist coming home, thinking he’s safe, and they he opens his closet and being attacked by the current Gormogon. I need this show back, AMPTP. You hear me?

9. Desperate Housewives, "Something's Coming" (originally aired December 2, 2007). There’s a tornado coming. And Carlos’ accountant thinks it would be wise to drop off the only copy of his off-shore account information during this tornado? That’s stupendously stupid. Whatever. The main event is really all about Lynette’s family and about the intersection between Bree and the Katherine Mayfair mystery (why is it always Bree who is twisted up in these things most intimately? Oh, right, because she’s awesome). And damn that final sequence must’ve been crazy fun for the production designer. Regardless of what I think of the Mike as pill-popper plot… Susan acted like an adult. Like, a bonafide, fully-grown, mature woman. We’re all shocked, right? I’m conflicted about the death of Victor… while I hated his character, I was really excited for him to make good on his promise to make Gabby’s life hell (from the last episode). But someone had to die with a white picket fence through the chest, and it might as well have been him (also, what a great way to kill a character!) Plus, it means more of him on…

8. Mad Men, "Nixon vs. Kennedy" (originally aired October 11, 2007). Richard Nixon wins! I knew this show was a farce. Hah, anyway, the period set piece of the office party was just a bunch of fun, even though the real action took place in the form of flashbacks, informing us, finally, about Don Draper’s secret. I won’t say anything else for fear of ruining this episode for any of you.

7. Heroes, "Company Man" (originally aired February 26, 2007). If the second season was any indication, this will be the series’ best episode. The genius of the episode comes from two things. One, it was focused, to an incredible extent. With the exception of flashbacks, nearly all of the action takes place within the Bennet house or in PrimaTech in Odessa. The show’s attempt at scope is sometimes its greatest ally, more often it’s worst enemy. The second reason this episode was genius is the one-time adoption of Lost’s flashback formula, resulting in a touching, informative narrative magic rarely seen even on Lost since the first season. The special effects work is outstanding in this episode (the combination of Ted Sprague’s powers and Claire’s healing).

6. 30 Rock, "Cougars" (originally aired November 29, 2007). A-plot: Liz dates a young co-worker. B-plot: Jack and Tracy coach a little league baseball team. C-plot: one of Liz’s male co-workers has a crush on her new boyfriend and thinks he might be gay. What about this screams “too inside” the entertainment industry for a mass audience the enjoy it? Obviously, that’s the most basic description of the episode and the real magic comes from its quotability (“I’m 37, please don’t make me go to Brooklyn”), the visual gags (Liz meets her boyfriend’s mother, who is a close approximate to Liz’s twin… “Yup, that’s what we look like”), and the allusions (the entire baseball plot becomes one giant riff on the War in Iraq). You can watch it over, and over, and over again.

5. Grey's Anatomy, "Wishin' and Hopin'" (originally aired February 1, 2007). Here’s why this episode rates so highly on my list (notice how my Top 50 list includes four of the first five episodes of Grey’s that aired in 2007? Yeah, the season was really quite good until March): it is the one, and only, time that I think even the Meredith-haters liked her. The main plot of the episode is Ellis, Meredith’s mother, becoming lucid. And she berates Meredith, and Meredith is finally able to tell her exactly how/ having Ellis as a mother (not to mention her Alzheimer's) has weighed Meredith down. Ellen Pompeo nails it, and you can’t not be on board with Meredith in this one, shining moment. Also the rest of the episode kicked ass (the opening the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic and the start of the Chief retiring plotline and the competition for his position… which, sadly, went absolutely nowhere and wasn’t satisfying).

4. 30 Rock, "Rosemary's Baby" (originally aired October 25, 2007). I’ve sung the praises of 30 Rock so much on this list that to do it again, and for a second time in the Top 10, seems trite. So I’ll just sing the praises of Alec Baldwin and his amazing Good Times impressionism. The two minutes in the therapist office where he plays the roles of Tracy’s father, mother, Tracy himself, a Latina maid, and laments not being able to whip out his Howard Cosell impression is sidesplitting. Oh, heck, I can’t resist. The subplot with Jenna burning Kenneth’s Page jacket was hilarious (Page Off! Page Off! Page Off!) And, of course, Carrie Fisher as an eerie look into the future for the one and only (or not) Liz Lemon. Liz’s “Followship” award. “Help me, Liz Lemon, you’re my only hope!” (couldn’t been cloying, somehow it wasn’t). “If I can’t be Monique fat, I have to be Teri Hatcher thin.” “You are my heroine. And by heroine, I mean ‘lady hero.’ I don't mean I want to inject you and listen to jazz.” “I breastfed until I was eleven, so I've forgotten more about a woman's chest than you'll ever know.” “”The mailbox was Haldeman!” “Don't ever make me talk to a woman that old again.” Aaaaah…

3. The Sopranos, "Made in America" (originally aired June 10, 2007). You don’t get to judge me for loving the ending of this series. I had “Don’t Stop Believing” in my head for, well… I’ve still got it in my head.

2. Brothers & Sisters, "36 Hours" (originally aired November 11, 2007). There’s only one thing that stopped this episode from being number one on the list (and it’s not the number one episode, itself). It was the Senator McCallister subplot that was so… separate. They needed to do something with Rob Lowe, I guess, but it proved once and for all that this show is all about one thing: the Walkers. And for the show to work, every scene needs to contain the Walkers. As for why this episode is the number two episode of the year for me… well, look at the rest of the episode. Justin is back on pain medication, a development initially forced on him by mother Nora and half-sister Rebecca despite his reservations about falling back into his old addiction. And, of course, he did fall back, fell hard, and hit rock bottom. The intervention scene, where Justin angrily lashes out with harsh truths (but truths nonetheless) about each member of his family (except Tommy, who isn’t there, and Kitty, in a scene that shows how great an actress Calista Flockhart actually is) should win Dave Annable an Emmy. If you’ve never had a family member succumb to addiction, I don’t know if this scene, if this episode was as powerful for you as it was for me. But, well, this is the honest truth about the disease. This is how it happens. It pulls your heart out and stomps on it. And the show captured every element of how an addict can tear a family apart (even after the intervention, the effects of Justin’s words reverberate). The scene where Justin tries to convince the family that he’s healed, despite the doctor-prescribed time not having elapsed is just as wrenching (and good on Nora for putting the fear of god back in him). Almost as heartbreaking as all of this was the episodes last moments, when Justin does have the drugs out of his system and, essentially, breaks up with his mother. I can’t say it enough, but goddamn if the combination of this show, this episode, and me doesn’t keep Kleenex in business.

1. Lost, "Through the Looking Glass" (originally aired May 23, 2007). Was there ever really a doubt what would top this list? This two-hour episode could potentially go down as one of television’s “best ever”. If you haven’t seen it and you’ve fallen off the Lost bandwagon… watch it. If you’ve never seen Lost… watch it. I’m not even going to write anything else about it.

A Couple Thoughts

First off, Cashmere Mafia is a show that I am not recording, but am perfectly willing to go over to a friend's house and watch (especially now that Top Model / Gossip Girl Wednesday has been thrown to the lions... until Top Model returns anyway). It's not a good show. It's better than a terrible show. But I've no need to see it. Especially given the ratings, since it won't be coming back and I think they only got 7 episodes out of it, so I doubt there'll even be any resolution to the stories. I did enjoy the last scene in the episode, though, with Frances O'Connor's character pointedly telling Krista Allen's Juicy Couture-wearing housefrau to shut up ("I can't talk, I'm on a conference call", digging at the Create-A-Bear Allen's character had her kids make for her). I'm not invested in these characters or situations, though, and I find most of them to be completely ungrounded... but in a way that I don't care for.

Meanwhile, Gossip Girl had a very fun forced-finale. At least the producers were wise enough to craft thirteenth episode (the one that would be the last if the show hadn't gotten a full-season order... and now is the last thanks to the ongoing strike) that changes the game up a bit. The dethroning of Blair Waldorf was a sight to behold, though I have to say I'm a little disturbed the show decided to re-villainize Chuck. I understood his actions as far as "jealous, spurned ex-lover" go, but when Blair came to him towards the end of the episode and he said that he wasn't interested in her any longer because she was used goods... that sucked. They spent eleven episodes taking us from "Chuck is a rapist" to "Chuck is a manipulative, privileged jerk, but he's entertaining" and now all I can think about is "Chuck is a rapist". I liked that Dan's confession of why he loves Serena is what prompts Serena to go after Blair and stop her from repeating Serena's own history. Can't wait to see what happens next.

My recording of Project Runway recorded, but for whatever reason Bravo's clock doesn't match my television's, and I didn't see who got auf'd... Kevin or Christian (I later read that it was Kevin). There are 9 designers left and these two were in the bottom two? Based on raw talent, I'd never have expected that. But Kevin's dress was unfinished and heinous, and Christian did a bad thing by blaming his client instead of himself for not pushing hard enough to get the dress where it needed to be. Meanwhile, Ricky cried once. Why didn't he get auf'd? He is consistently terrible with his construction and that dress was a mess, not to mention bland and it washed his model out (although I guess on the flip side, Kevin's was just as bad with regards to color and his model's complexion). Sweet P should have won, that dress was beautiful and that girl is going to see it in her closet twenty years from now and it'll still be beautiful to her. I was surprised Chris wasn't in the Top 3, but the show went for a Bottom 4 this time (to yell at immune Rami). At this point, the show needs to kick Ricky off. As soon as it does, it will have a pool of serious designers (I would have said it also needed to kick Chris off two weeks ago, but he's done a really stand-out job these last two episodes).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Final National Ratings for Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday's final nationals posted here.

Impressive premiere for One Tree Hill (no, I didn't watch it) by low-expectations-because-it's-on-the-CW standards. I think that might be CW's best scripted 9pm performance of the season, if not in viewers than in the various demos (I'd have to check on the Gossip Girl premiere...) ... which I just did, and thanks to CW scheduling it as two separately rated hours, yes, this 9pm showing just barely edged out Gossip Girl in households (2.4/4 vs. 2.3/4), viewers (3.568 vs. 3.504 million) and the A18-34 demo (2.3/6 vs. 2.1/6), while tying in the A18-49 demo (1.6/4).

Next week One Tree Hill is going to get run over by the Idol steamroller, of course. Wonder if it's even going to break 2 million.

Anyway, more tonight in the form of Gossip Girl, Project Runway, and Cashmere Mafia reviews. This is a make-or-break episode for Cashmere Mafia.

2007 Recap: Travis Yanan's Favorite Episodes (20-11)

20. Pushing Daisies, "Pie-lette" (originally aired October 3, 2007). Whimsy. Fairytale romance. Bright colors. Kristen Chenoweth. Bake all these things together in a pie and you get Pushing Daisies, yet another example of why Bryan Fuller is the most imaginative person creating television shows that with concepts better suited to features than weekly series. This series never lived up to its pilot, but gosh darn it if this isn’t magical regardless.

19. Bones, "The Santa in the Slush" (originally aired December 11, 2007). While this episode had nothing to do with the intriguing Gormogon mystery, it was an example of why Bones is the best crime procedural on television (and the only one I allow myself to watch… yes, I’ve tried the various flavors out there). A fun mystery (a murdered Santa Claus whose name was Kris Kringle) with a touching side plot involving Brennan’s family and the idea of Christmas miracles. Plus, even if it was only a peck… Booth and Brennan kissed. Gotta love the sexual tension that the show just refuses to become an extant relationship. The final image with Brennan, her jailed father, her fugitive brother, sick niece, and her brothers’ girlfriend in the conjugal visit trailer watching Booth light a Christmas tree with his son just outside the penitentiary premises was just touching in all the warm, fuzzy ways I’ve been led to believe televised holiday magic is supposed to be.

18. Lost, "One of Us" (originally aired April 11, 2007). The ongoing mystery of who Dr. Juliet Burke is, and where her allegiance lies, is front and center in this episode, Juliet’s second flashback. Elizabeth Mitchell was a gift to this ensemble cast, and you can see the conflict on her fact, even as she tries to keep it cool and intrude the Lostaway society, winning some tiny bit of trust in a long con that not even Sawyer could see through. The interplay between the flashback sequences and the current events are used to great affect to keep us, the viewers, guessing even as our hearts go out to Juliet for the sacrifice she has made to come to, and stay on, the Island. Even though Ben’s taped message tells Juliet that he’ll see her in a week, the episode has shown cracks in her fa├žade now that she is out of his grasp.

17. Battlestar Galactica, "Crossroads" (originally aired March 18, 2007 and March 25, 2007). Baltar’s trial was more talk-y than I like in this show, but the public reveal of Roslin’s returning cancer. Mark Sheppard is a lot of fun, why doesn’t he show up on my television more often? And Baltar’s acquittal? Thank the gods, right? I’ll be damned, but that final CGI sequence taking us from the Ionian nebula to Earth was some feature-worthy stuff (far better than the opening credits of Superman Returns, for instance). All along the watchtower… can’t wait for Battlestar’s return. Hopefully knowing they only have 20 episode to wrap things up means we won’t face the midcycle doldrums we were subjected to in the third season (i.e. “The Passage” and “A Day in the Life”), and I definitely can’t wait to find out how the show explains its reveal of four of the Final Five Cylon. Starbuck’s (inevitable) return, the path to Earth, and a massive opening space battle awaits.

16. Ugly Betty, "I'm Coming Out" (originally aired February 1, 2007). If Ugly Betty hadn’t been able to pull off a Fashion Week episode with its early first-season pizzazz… well, you might as well have written the show off for dead. Mixing fanciful, silly moments with genuine emotion and over-the-top soap opera antics is what the show is about and this episode pretty much defines that (and has guest stars like Tim Gunn). As you might expect from the title, this was Alexis Meade’s debut, or her coming out party. Alexis is, of course, Alex Meade post-sex change operation and no matter what you think of her acting skills, Rebecca Romijn is stunning (in fact I’m unsure if she or Famke Janssen is the hottest TV transsexual). Alexis’ first meeting with Daniel, before he knows her real identity, is a hoot. “And by the way? Hitting on your dead brother’s old girlfriend? Classy.” Meanwhile, Betty’s plotline cleverly has her fighting with her own sister, Hilda, and them both coming to a mutual appreciation of the other one. Also, Wilhelmina falls victim to a duck fat injection as an alternative to botox and needs to use Marc as her “seeing eye gay.”

15. 30 Rock, "Hardball" (originally aired February 22, 2007). Jack teaches Liz about negotiating. Could he please step in and fix the writers’ strike? Gotta love the visual gags of this show, like Jack’s negotiation furniture (the opposition’s cushions sink low so Jack and his team look down on theme). Jenna’s photoshoot as one of America’s funniest women was hilarious, as she can’t pose on a couch after getting lathered in grease. Jenna winds up being misquoted as insulting army troupes in the magazine so she goes onto the political talk circuit to defend herself and winds up mistaking Obama’s name for Osama.

14. Lost, "The Man Behind the Curtain" (originally aired May 9, 2007). Answers! Sweet, delicious answers! And more questions! Infuriating, unanswered questions! The Henry Gale / Ben Linus flashback episode was so very necessary, and so very rewarding. Although Ben doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who shoots someone and leaves them in a ditch for dead without making sure that they are, y’know, dead. Who, or what, is Jacob? How will the show explain Richard, apparently an Island native, looking around the same age now as he did when Ben looking a bit like Harry Potter (just one of the reasons to root against CBS's Cane)?

13. Grey's Anatomy, "Six Days" (originally aired January 11, 2007 and January 18, 2007). George’s dad died. I don’t want to talk about it. Remember when Grey’s Anatomy had the power to make you feel that way? Also, and this totally just occurred to me because I haven’t gone back to rewatch/recap Grey’s episodes for a while, how about the revelation that Addison aborted Mark Sloan’s baby and her later discover of her being infertile-for-all-intents-and-purposes? That kinda salts the wounds, don’t it?

12. Brothers & Sisters, "Domestic Issues" (originally aired October 28, 2007). Sarah Whedon can be a tad priggish, but if your heart doesn’t bleed for her as her (suddenly moustache-twirling villain of an) ex-husband takes the kids away from her because she’s a working mother (which suddenly trumps philandering, stay-at-home musician in primary custody hearings)… you’re inhuman. Watching the so-very-strong Sarah collapse into her mother for support was another tearjerker. Should the Emmys go on this year, Rachel Griffiths will surely repeat her nomination, and if she submits the episode, she’s a shoe-in to win. In addition, this episode was a Walker Family Halloween, and dealt with the disturbing development of Tommy’s affair. Sins of the family, etc. Also Kitty is pregnant, which could throw McCallister’s campaign for a loop. Honestly, Kitty is the reason Robert is going to lose the election. She almost has to be after this season of blunders on her part.

11. How I Met Your Mother, "Slapsgiving" (originally aired November 19, 2007). How I Met Your Mother has, apparently, established that it will never be able to top “Slap Bet”. So it tries to dip into that magic vat for laughs while it can, but never in the same formula as the last time. After Jason Segal and NPH sing Les Miz on Megan Mullaly a while back, I was waiting for the day that they’d sing us a tune on the show. “You Just Got Slapped” didn’t have the campy wonder of “Let’s Go To The Mall” (and what will?) but with Barney moaning in harmony… you can’t ask for much more. The machinations the episode put us through, the will-he-or-won’t-he of the third slap, was a great way to deal with the Slap Countdown and watching NPH’s Barney mentally unravel on screen was more than worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Final National Ratings for Sunday, January 6, 2008 and Monday, January 7, 2008

I've posted final live-plus-same-day ratings on PIFeedback.com.

I really wonder about American Dad's performance. It doesn't seem to have its own audience (less than total retention out of a Family Guy repeat, and ratings far lower than its average). Now that Futurama has moved to Comedy Central and Adult Swim is airing American Dad, I wonder if ratings will uptick.

Sigh, I still haven't watched The Wire yet... starting Season Three whenever Netflix gets me the disc! So I should be ready and able to talk about the fifth season around episode three.

Monday's finals now posted as well.

2007 Recap: Travis Yanan's Favorite Episodes (30-21)

30. Desperate Housewives, "Now I Know, Don't Be Scared" (originally aired November 4, 2007). Hah! The Simpsons isn’t the only show on television that can run a Halloween episode in November. This episode gave us so much. Lynette is free from cancer (so long, crappy plotline!) Danielle had her/Bree’s baby (and can you imagine if you were one of the Savo kids and saw the birth from a window, on Halloween? And the guy delivering the baby was Frankenstein’s Monster?) Speaking of, we had plenty of fun costumes. Andrew as Cher (thanks to Bree, covering for the fact that neighbors thought they saw Danielle, who was supposedly out of the country). Nathan Fillion as Frankenstein’s Monster. Danielle as Bree. Mrs. McClusky, the neighborhood witch, in a witch costume… can this be an annual event on Wisteria Lane?

29. The Sopranos, "The Second Coming" (originally aired May 20, 2007). I really have little to say about this episode. My heart plunged in the backyard pool along with AJ in his (thankfully failed) suicide attempt. Also of note, Dr. Melfi’s dinner discussion with other therapists about analyzing sociopaths, and how it may in fact enable rather than rehabilitate them.

28. Brothers & Sisters, "Matriarchy" (originally aired May 20, 2007). There was almost nothing wrong with the season finale of Brothers & Sisters. Almost. I even appreciate the symmetry of the entire Walker family (sans Iraq-bound Justin, but now including McCallister, Holly Harper, and Rebecca) jubilantly jumping into the pool as a bookend to the premiere’s ending where patriarch William Walker drowned in said pool (much better use of symmetry than Shonda Rhimes saying that Meredith Grey helping Izzie out of her prom dress at the beginning of Grey’s Anatomy season three and her helping Cristina out of her wedding dress at the end was symmetry). It was all a little soured by the introduction of Senator McCallister’s extended family, which is huge and out-crazy-s the Walkers by a long shot. It wouldn’t be so terrible, but we’d just gotten a dose of “look at this other big, crazy family” a couple episodes back in “Game Night”. At least the show joking called attention to this when the Senator asked Kitty if she thought he was still electable given his family. But you have to love Kevin and Jason as the Gay Scouts / Gay Party Planning Brigade (also that they made out). And Sarah and Holly making up (despite Sarah not getting to throw a cake at her father’s ex-mistress). And Kitty and Nora’s trip to the airport, where the show actually made use of the fact that people can’t just run up to waiting gates any longer. The moment the show let us think that Justin managed to leave without seeing them was a sucker punch that was, obviously, followed by the requisite, sappy strong goodbye moment. And that’s what you have to love about this show. It wears its emotions on its sleeves in the form of smeared mascara.

27. Gossip Girl, "Hi, Society" (originally aired December 5, 2007). Oh, Gossip Girl. How could you do this to me? I get in the mood to laugh at you during America’s Next Top Model. I never laugh with you. This episode was good. And not in the “Gossip Girl is so bad it’s good” way the rest of the series has been. The story was about a Cotillion Ball and, I’m not up on my high society timetable, but if these girls are juniors in high school, shouldn’t they have already debuted? Whatever, not important. Serena doesn’t want to make her stuffy debut, but is conned into it by her grandmother, a duplicitous, lying old sag of (apparently) cancer-ridden crap. My goodness, but Grandma CeCe is evil personified. Manipulative, class-minded, age-wisened… where has she been the entire run of this show? She also manages to throw a spork in the Dan/Serena relationship (which is really no feat at all, since they seem to have minor squabbles on a weekly basis… ah, young lust). But the real revelation is that she broke up Lily, Serena’s mother, and Rufus, Dan’s father, ages ago. So this is, like, a rerun for her. She forces Lily to change Serena’s debut statement, but when Serena catches wind of the falsities about to be spewed about her at her supposed debut to high society (have you understood the pun in the title yet…?) she changes it to something wild and rebellious. And my God I was ROLFMAO at “Miss Van der Woodsen hopes to bed as many billionaires as she can…” Burn on that, Grandma CeCe. Also, Chace Crawford gets shirtless as Nate and Blair dive into pre-coital bliss. I’m still stumped as to how he didn’t know that the very vehemently virginal Blair was not a virgin when he finally got down to business. And we see that beneath his well-clothed, bad boy, rapist exterior, Chuck might just have the semblance of a heart.

26. Scrubs, "My Long Goodbye" (originally aired April 5, 2007). Scrubs is a wacky show, but I do think its best episodes come hand-in-hand with the more serious ones. For instance, “My Screw Up”. And so, we bid our goodbyes in this episode to Laverne, the nurse who always had a sassy comeback. We get some faith checking. And we get some reality instilled in our characters (the sixth season, generally, lacked far too much reality even for the wacky standards of this show).

25. House, "You Don’t Want To Know" (originally aired November 20, 2007). This episode just might go down as the fan-favorite episode of House. Not because it was the best story ever (um, “Three Stories” much?) but because, well… the patient had lupus. I had to rewind my recording about seventeen times to savor that revelation. And now, of course, I’ve ruined it for you. The patient in question was a semi-infuriating magician that Kutner and Big Love brought in (why, I’m still asking, was Kutner at a magic show with Big Love?) And, naturally, the whole episode rotated around the idea of “the reveal”. Of not showing your cards, not explaining the tricks. And, given that ultimately Thirteen made House’s team, I’m just dying to know whether or not she has Huntington’s Chorea… and I totally support and understand her decision to not know. The subplot about stealing Dr. Cuddy’s thong was also genius. Genius, I say!

24. How I Met Your Mother, "How I Met Everyone Else" (originally aired October 22, 2007). How I Met Your Mother struggled in the beginning of the season, in the wake of Ted and Robin’s break-up. But, holy heck if this episode didn’t demand a rewatch or two. The “Future Ted is narrating form the year 2030, he has a pretty damn good memory” problem was given a tip of the hat in the form of Ted’s date of the episode, the forgotten “Blah Blah”. They met of World of Warcraft. Ted’s character is a scantily-clad female. This episode gave us Barney’s Vicky Mendoza Hot-Crazy scale, some nice continuity fill-ins (um, did you read the title?), and “eating a sandwich” as a kid-friendly euphemism for “smoking a joint”.

23. Grey's Anatomy, "Walk On Water" (originally aired February 8, 2007). I’ve previously been able to discuss my feelings on the infamous Ferry Crash three-parter. So I won’t embellish here (no, “Some Kind of Miracle” does not have a place on this list). This episode’s non-ferry shenanigans revolve around the Chief’s bad hair dye job (shudder) and Cristina’s inability to tell Meredith she got engaged. Hm, you think she’s going to have cold feet eventually? Anyway, for all the grandeur of the ferry crash, the moments that really got me in this episode involved Meredith and that quiet, lost little girl. Especially the ending. I dare you to not gasp when Meredith’s patient convulses and accidentally pushes her over the pier. Seriously!

22. 30 Rock, "Jack Gets Back in the Game" (originally aired October 11, 2007). “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” may have existed as a novelty party tune before this episode, but now there’s a Thriller-parody video to go along with it. Also… “You want to watch me eat this steak…? Okay.” “Me want food!” “The pillowy abyss of a lover’s bosom”. The Church of Practicology (“By the eye of Zohak!”) “You do the meth” medical pamphlet. “ICU81MI” license plate. “Angie is in the past, like Dracula and broadcast television.” Kenneth seducing Tracy’s wife, Angie. And any scene that involves Will Arnett is guaranteed to be funny. I mean, Alec Baldwin is hilarious and, unless he famously yells at his little, eleven-or-twelve-year-old pig daughter again, he’s practically guaranteed the Emmy for a different episode (we’ll get there, too). But Will Arnett steals all scenes. His smoldering gaze at Kenneth from behind a window as the page gets a soda. “I’m going to make your heart explode.”

21. Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Hard Imported Salami" (originally aired November 19, 2007). Rachel Bilson needs her own TV show, or to be a big movie star. I think the former is more likely. Bilson’s Lou was such a sweet casualty of the spy games that happen on this show. I’d prefer to see more of her, and more of Chuck’s hilarious romances outside of his Sarah Walker cover. Not that I don’t like Sarah and Chuck together, especially because we know (thank you, truth serum episode) that she is developing real feelings for him. I’m sure, eventually, the awkward hoops Chuck would have to jump through to keep a romance alive with a non-spy would get dull, but I didn’t have my fill. Zachary Levi and Bilson had great chemistry, too. At least they got to make out in the Nerd Herd Mobile.

Letterman Beats Leno: Stunt or a Trend?

On Monday, January 7th, Letterman scored a 4.0/9 while Leno got a 3.8/9. A narrow victory, to be sure. Was this due to the presence of Tom Hanks? The "Dave Shaves His Beard" stunt? Or are viewers actually leaving Leno?

We shall see...

(also Craig Ferguson beat Conan O'Brien 1.9/6 to 1.8/6).

Monday, January 7, 2008

2007 Recap: Travis Yanan's Favorite Episodes (40-31)

40. Bones, "The Widow's Son in the Windshield" (originally aired September 25, 2007). This episode, the third-season premiere, was a turning point between me and Bones. I'd always enjoyed the show, its romantic tension, the comedy elements... but it was so damned and strictly procedural (outside of brief interludes into Brennan's family). There was a hint at a serial killer case in the second season when Brennan and Hodgins are buried alive. But now, good lord, there's a full blown cannibal serial killer linked to wild conspiracy theories. This episode transformed Bones from a "record and watch it over the weekend" show to "you damn well better watch on the night it airs". Bravo, show. Bravo.

39. Heroes, "Cautionary Tales" (originally aired November 19, 2007). So, Heroes can still build to something satisfying (and then take the rug out form under you). This episode loses points for reviving HRG and, in doing so, eliminating "death" as a consequence in the Heroes-verse. It loses points for taking so much time to show Hiro seeing the man who killed his father because the audience was 17 steps ahead of him. It loses points for being heavy-handed with its fatherhood theme. But you know what? Ultimately none of that matters because the episode worked on a level the show didn't work the entire second season. I still don't trust this show the way I trust Lost to lay story pipe and pay it off, but I'm not entirely convinced Heroes can't be fixed from its slump. In a way, this episode tries to repeat "Company Man" from season one by being about saving Claire Bennet. Like that (superior) episode, this one incorporates a storyline we've been following separately into how events play out (again, Parkman's). "Company Man" was more focused, though, which is when Heroes is/was at its best. This go-around, we get the Hiro plotline that was thematically parallel but otherwise unconnected.

38. Brothers & Sisters, "An American Family" (originally aired October 7, 2007). Despite opening with an overly-manipulative funeral, the show did not kill off Dave Annable's Justin off-screen in Iraq. And thank God. I think this is the only show on television that I completely let my guard down for and allow it to pull my emotional heartstrings in every which way. Sure, the show can get extremely sappy... but whatever. You get moments like Sarah telling Rebecca (who has just admitted her part in Sarah's husband kissing her) that her confession is the height of selfishness (but thanks for playing!) You get attempts at politics (The West Wing, it isn't, but at least it tries to pretend that it's not the gayest, most liberal show on television). And you get pain. That may be the only time I use bold in this entire list. There is just so much pain to be felt, to be dealt, and to be discussed in the plotline of an injured son returning from war. And damn if this show doesn't bring it (as we'll see, in spades).

37. Desperate Housewives, "If There's Anything I Can't Stand" (originally aired October 21, 2007). Took them long enough! This was the episode that really proved to me that Desperate Housewives was going to be all right. I lot of people thought so right away from the fourth-season premiere, but I was wary after the third-season started so magnificently then trickled down to near Applewhite levels of bad. In any case, the gay neighbors (Bob and Lee) moved in and Susan stuck her foot right where it usually is... in her mouth. Hilarity ensues. Over and over again. Kevin Rahm plays an excellent bitchy queen (the scene where he tells Susan off about the basket of baked goods that she poses as homemade but then doesn't know what's in them and he has a food allergy is just pitch perfect... or should that read bitch perfect). Not to mention the brief return of the magnificent Shirley Knight as Bree's ex-mother-in-law, Phyllis. And not to mention the continuation of twisting whatever (still unexplained) dark, evil past is behind Katherine and Dylan. This episode also featured Felicity Huffman in wigs and costumes trying to make the Scavos' sex life more existent, as well as the best use of a cater waiter as plot device this side of Scotty on Brothers & Sisters. Crab cake, anyone?

36. 24, "Day 6: 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM" (originally aired , 2007). I'm not going to try and justify this one in light of my "the only things Day 6 did well were suck and eventually end" attitude. I just remember watching Jack's take down of Abu Fayed and the entire contingent of his stock-villain-terrorists alone and cheering (and echoing Mike Doyle's "Damn, Jack" sentiment). Who cares that Jack's been running on fumes non-stop for 17 hours... before which he was on a boat in Chinese custody which means he's been recently starved, tortured, etc. Who the bloody hell cares. Also Audrey is alive, which was not as shocking a moment as it could have been (given the "she went to China to find you and disappeared" bit). But... damn, Jack.

35. Family Guy, "Blue Harvest" (originally aired September 23, 2007). Family Guy is often cited for its hilarious cutaways and pop culture references (not necessarily current pop culture. What it's never praised for is narrative structure. The Simpsons and South Park and Futurama beat the crap out of Family Guy in that department in almost every episode. So when Family Guy got the a-okay to do a Star Wars parody using the original (Episode IV!) plot... the result was hilarious and structured. I can't wait for Episode V's parody. Surprisingly, even Family Guy's cutaway jokes didn't provide the most laugh-0ut-loud Star Wars parody moment of 2007. That honor is strictly reserved for Robot Chicken's Admiral Ackbar Cereal sketch ("Your tongues can't repel flavor of that magnitude!")

34. Veronica Mars, "The Bitch is Back" (originally aired May 22, 2007). What can really be said about this series, this season, this episode that hasn't been said already? It was too soon for the show to go the way of the Dodo. The third season was uneven at best, especially the last four episodes of stand-alone mysteries as a whole (it's always been my argument that Veronica Mars would've been a much bigger hit if she were solving murders of the week instead of "there's a missing monkey, oh no" mysteries). But the series finale didn't back off the noir themes that were a staple of the show... in fact it brought many of them back into the light (can you do that with noir themes?) after losing them for some of the third season (what can I say, college was just a brighter, shinier, happier place... so clearly didn't belong in Veronica-land). Keith sacrificing himself to save Veronica (not his mortal life for hers, but the principle's the same)... that father-daughter relationship is ultimately what the show was about, and you'll be hard-pressed to find another like it on TV. The final shot of Veronica walking out of the election polling place, in the rain, away from camera, as the outcome in her father's bid for sheriff is more uncertain than ever... end series. Stay cool, soda pop.

33. Grey's Anatomy, "Drowning on Dry Land" (originally aired February 15, 2007). I've separated the now-infamous three-part Ferry Crash plot arc for purposes of this list. Which is sort of holding it to a different standard than other multi-parters (I kept South Park's "Imaginationland" to a single ranking, as I did with the Family Guy two-parter, and will do with another Grey's Anatomy two-parter that aired in 2007). I did this because I think this episode is, perhaps, the last great episode of Grey's Anatomy (note: as of posting, I have not seen the hyped-up "Bailey narrates" episode that airs on Janaury 10, 2008). While I didn't really mind "Some Kind of Miracle" (the three-parter's finale) the way a lot of fans did, I recognize that it didn't fit in the universe of Grey's Anatomy. The fact that, during "Drowning on Dry Land", we all knew that the show wouldn't kill off Meredith didn't take away the drama for me. But what came after was, well... misguided to put it nicely. Anyway, let's talk briefly about it episode and about how much of a freaking rock star Izzie is. Because she is. And you have no choice but to beam along with Izzie when she comes back to Seattle Grace with her confidence reinvigorated after drilling holes into a man's skull with a power tool instead of a surgical instrument. That she gets to tell Cristina about her rock star status was all the sweeter (because Cristina is supposed to be the rock star, d'uh). Heigl is awesome. We here at Travis Yanan Industries think she's great and despite a tepid-at-best script are almost tempted to watch 27 Dresses because of her. For me, this season was about identity. Shonda went on record saying that this season was about showing the women of Grey's that they couldn't have it all. I don't buy it. Just as last season was all about the heart, weak, broken, etc (and brought to light through anvil-y metaphor in Denny), this season was about identity as seen through Jane Doe/Ava/Rebecca (which we're introduced to here). It speaks on so many levels about these characters. Addison loses herself so much through the season that she goes all spin-off-y (*gag*). Izzie has no idea who she is, then reclaims it (and, um, proceeds to lose it again...) Cristina is losing herself to this bride-to-be person, while Izzie is drilling holes in a man's head she's stuck on stitch detail. Even Meredith has her journey of identity thanks to her mother's death... and what it means for her to live without that weight hanging on her. And all of that, that entire season-worth of plot is so delicately summed up in this episode's plots. George's desperate search in the hospital in this episode. He promises a patient going into surgery that her son is alive and okay, but has no idea, then he finds a dead boy in the morgue, but it turns out the kid Callie is operating on is the mother's child. Alex's determination to discover the idenity of Jane Doe. It just all worked for me in this episode. It clicked. And it was the beginning of the end.

32. House, "Games" (originally aired November 27, 2007). I'm still waiting to find out exactly what it means for Chase and Cameron, and to some extent Foreman, that House has a new team. Those three characters (and their actors) were heavily sidelined this season in the wake of their various resignations and firings at the end of the third. I was uneasy about the development, but House's reality TV-esque method of picking his new team turned out to be incredibly engaging. The "mystery illnesses of the week" almost (almost) took a backseat to this serialized plot, and I'll be damned if (but for one episode) I could care less about what the illnesses were or about the patients. This plotline was about the candidates and I will severely, severely miss Cutthroat Bitch, who was the final candidate eliminated in this episode. We even get a bittersweet moment after her firing, in which she reveals the chewy emotional center beneath her hard, candy-coated exterior. Brava, Anne Dudek. I hope you come back in some capacity. And, of course, cheers to the writers for naming the episode "Games" and showing us the brilliant way House played Cuddy to get exactly what he wanted. I'd love to see Dr. House versus Jack Bristow in a game theory match. And, for the record, I don't understand the hiring of either Kutner (besides the fact that he's played by Kal Penn) or Ministud, but I do understand House's rationale for why Cutthroat Bitch couldn't be on his team.

31. Friday Night Lights, "The Confession" (originally aired December 7, 2007). A surprisingly satisfying end to a murder plotline that could've, and did, have fans of the show screaming "jump the shark". Even if it was a round hole of a plotline to try and shove square peg Landry into, the way the character went about his confession, ultimately, is what this show really is. Decent. Honest. Real. Oh, and Julie and Tami made up which was like "finally!" and Tim moved out of the meth lab house and all of this other stuff that was like waking from a bad dream happened.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Okay, Now I'll Talk About 2008 TV

The Amazing Race: Pretty obviously a non-elimination round (since they spent like 5 minutes on TK and Rachel as they did the various activities from behind instead of just skipping them to the pit stop...) I almost brought myself to rooting for Nate and Jen to come in first place because they way the show has been edited together, I get the feeling that, if they don't come in first in the penultimate leg, that they're destined to win... which, ugh). When's the finale? Is it really in two weeks? Or three (given a potential super-leg)?

Desperate Housewives: Mrs. McClusky comes out swinging at Negative Nancy Edie (telling her that when you get to be her age, prayer is actually quite comforting, and Edie will know that in a year or two!) Anyway, Lynette's entire family is alright and everyone is happy... and the other old lady who apparently had a name, but I'll remember her as the Penis Demon Lady from the Buffy episode Doublemeat Palace. A respectful, solemn title card (first time I think the show has used it without any of the Danny Elfman score). Hey, look! Despite the fact that they weren't in the last episode, the Gay Couple is back! And their ugly fountain was destroyed! Hah, I totally forgot that. A bit weird that they cut to "3 Days Later" without so much as showing Gabby. But that's "last-minute pre-strike script, no rewrites" for you. Ugh, not loving the "Bree's contractor is gay, and the gay residents' friends are 'nines' and the contractor is 'a three' so they can't set him up with someone after his break-up, so Bree's house will remain roofless" thing. Not because of the plot, but because I enjoy Bob and Lee, but don't really like the "preening, judging, superficial gay" angle (and I swear to God, if Bree is thinking of setting that guy up with Andrew... oh, we're gonna have a fight about that... I mean, pimping her son!) I'm surprised Gabby didn't kill Carlos with that much morphine. And surprised that she continues to surprise me with her self-centeredness... I mean, you'd think I'd know better than to be let down by her behavior. Hah! Andrew totally called Bree on pimping her out. Awkward! "You can raise a man's hopes without satisfying them, I've done it all my life," Bree says. I don't think that means what she meant it to mean. And now Susan's trying to undo the "pimp my son" action to keep Bree as her kind-of-live-in-maid... and she brings up Justin the Gardner. What happened to Ray Carnes? Anyone? Anyway, Susan's foot should be firmly in her mouth in about ten seconds. Wow. Wow. The title is DESPERATE Housewives. And that scene with Bree and Orson (and Andrew) begging the contractor to parade Andrew in front of the contractor's ex certainly lived up to it. "He's got a mesh tank-top that will bring your ex to tears." You know... it just became not funny. Way to go too far, Orson. Hearing Gabby say "for richer or poorer" was almost believable. Carlos saying "in sickness and in health" says to me that he's blind (hence the wrap around his eyes). Um... yeah, unless they're planning another Lynette-styled cancer-remission with Carlos' eye-sight, don't they kind of have to write him off? And just as she's starting to exhibit growth! Sad, really. The scene between Katherine and Adam was okay. Too bad the season is getting cut short, but at least there's some twist and movement on the "What happened to Dylan?" mystery. Oh, Katherine, I hope whatever you did that it's forgivable enough that Dana Delany can stay on the show when it comes back! Not a season-finale by any means, and I don't think it fair in any way to judge it on that standard. Would've been great way to start off a new string of episodes, though. At least this way, when the strike does end, the DH writers can regroup, come back, and not suffer a mid-season quality slump.

The Simpsons: "Meh" political episode, but the ending was great (Ralph Wiggum is running for POTUS and as he sits on the Lincoln Memorial Statue's lap asking for presents for a political ad, he sticks his finger up his nose and the tag line reads "Ralph Wiggum: Pick a Winner").

American Dad: Total "meh". I really don't know why I still watch the show (oh, wait, it's because of the one brilliant half-hour they've managed to do, but that was in 2006...)

Cashmere Mafia: So this aired pilot was reshot and almost complete different than what I saw in May. I will say this... they did make it sleeker. They got rid of the cloying Mia (Lucy Liu) voiceover narration, AND dressed her better (one of my major gripes was that she's supposed to be the Second Coming of Carrie Bradshaw but she dressed like Ty Tai – thanks Mike – pre-Cher intervention). Seriously, at least through the first commercial break, I'm actually liking her wardrobe. Mia's e-mail thing was a decent way to introduce the other characters... though it might've gone unnoticed that in her e-mails, for whatever reason, she had their company names and positions. Subtle! *cough* So the "mafia" gathers and we see the Desperate Housewives our main characters together... a white brunette, a white blonde, a white red head, and a pleasing-to-look-at non-white ethnicity? Do go on, Marc Cherry. And they all, naturally, have square-jawed white men in their lives (yes, I know, Bonnie Somerville's character's story is the adventure into lesbianism... with Eva from The Nine!) By the way, the men are all surprisingly unattractive when shirtless. I know they shoot the series in NYC... there have to be better looking, decent actors. It's not like they're leads. They're accessories. And I still don't understand the "Mafia" part of the show's title. But whatever. Finally, my god, can there please be an hour-long show on ABC that isn't flooded with plucky, bouncy, "dramedy" score??? Someone needs to tell these women that there's more than one restaurant in Manhattan... and that they need to learn a thing or two about business lunches.

American Gladiators: Recorded the second hour (FauxVo was busy recording two things until 10pm). It's camp, of course, but I wonder if it's too slick to be appreciated as camp. It's so campy that it veers on being serious. And I'll have none of it. I would rank the return of this 90s series as among the worst crimes committed on television this decade... perhaps ever. Right up there with The Swan.